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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Chanukah and Parshat Miketz, Taking Responsibility

First to credit those who unintentionally gave me the ideas for this blog post.  My mind was pretty blank tonight, and then I checked the links Shy Guy had added to his comment on the previous post.  The third link was perfect, Mikkeitz/Chanukah: How (not) to bring the Redemption by Daniel Pinner.   And then Isramom sent me a link to a short shiur Chanuka: Leadership Without Prophecy - the Maccabean Challenge by Jeffery Woolf.  The two messages work together, at least in my mind.



Woolf discusses the process and history of how the Jewish People, their leadership learned to make decisions without the Prophets.  They had to learn how to take responsibility.  For instance the Holiday of Chanukah was established after cessation of prophesy.

Parshat Shavua Miketz,  Genesis 41,1-44,17, includes the story of how Josef finally was freed from Egyptian jail.  I find the ending of Daniel Pinner's article in Tomer Devorah very interesting.  He compares Josef's trusting, or counting on the Royal Butler for his release from prison like the mistake the Macabees made after the great Chanukah story:

Jewish forces were winning victory after victory over Seleucid forces throughout Judea, and their eventual victory seemed guaranteed.
And then in 161 B.C.E., Rome – the up-and-coming super-power – recognised Jewish sovereign independence, and Yehudah (Judah) the Maccabee, the son and successor of Matityahu who had founded the Maccabean dynasty, signed a treaty of military alliance with Rome. Shortly afterwards Yehudah was killed in battle, and his brother Yonatan was elected in his place. There followed a long period of uncertain rule in Israel – rival Jewish groups and the remnants of the Seleucids all vying for power.
In 139 B.C.E., the Roman Senate formally recognised Judæa (the Latinised spelling) as an independent country.
The Hasmoneans saw this alliance and treaty with Rome as a veritable salvation: for a small nation fighting desperately for its independence against a mighty superpower, winning the protection of another powerful country seemed the pragmatic thing to do. But the repercussions were horrendous: within a generation the Hasmoneans would become Hellenised, and Jewish infighting would effectively give Rome control over Judæa...In 69 B.C.E. Queen Shlom-Tziyon (Salome) Alexandra died – the last monarch to reign and to die as an independent ruler of an independent Jewish state. Her two sons, Aristobulus and Hyrcanus, both claimed the Judæan throne, and a civil war broke out between the two brothers and their respective followers. Hyrcanus forged an alliance with the Roman Empire, and the Judæan civil war ended when the Roman General Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey) entered Jerusalem in 63 B.C.E. insupport of Hyrcanus, who thereby defeated his brother Aristobolus and became High Priest and vassal king of Judæa.
Such is the result of entrusting Israel’s Redemption to human allies. God’s Name is not sanctified by Israel relying on Rome or France or America for salvation. His Name is sanctified when Israel, His Nation and His representatives in this world, fight their own wars and win their own victories in His name without mortal allies...For failing in this test Joseph spent an extra two years in captivity. When the Maccabees failed in this same test, they descended rapidly into the very Hellenism that their grandfather had given his life to fight against, and very soon became corrupt dictators, holding power against their fellow-Jews at the point of Roman spears – and eventually, those self-same Romans with whom they had forged alliances and treaties destroyed them along with the same Holy Temple that their predecessors had fought to liberate and purify.
This is the inevitable result of trusting in human allies instead of in God for the Redemption. As with Joseph in this week’s Parashah and as with the Maccabees in the Chanukah episode, relying on foreign nations for our Redemption guarantees failure. Our salvation will come not from treaties with America or from Chinese technology, nor from deals with Arab terrorists, but solely from God and from our trust and reliance in Him.

With responsibilities, comes mistakes. May we learn from them and do much better, G-d willing.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Chanukah Message for Today and All Time

Today is the second day of Chanukah 5774.

Our Jewish Holidays are celebrated to teach us lessons, timely lessons. Our Mitzvot, the G-d given Commandments don't have expiration dates. Each one is supposed to be observed by Jews forever.  G-d and Chazal, our Sages are supposed to be our experts, not United Nations officials, the American President, academics or the media.

It's very worrying that while the "gut reaction" of your typical Israeli is that there's nothing illegal in "Jewish settlements sic in the west bank sic," the minute they are reminded that the world, the United Nations considers them illegal, suddenly they do, too.
The survey, conducted by New Wave Research on behalf of Regavim, found that 60 percent of Israelis view the settlements to be legal, while only 16 percent consider them to be illegal. 24% were unsure.
When respondents were asked about the legality of settlements under international law, the results differed substantially. A slight majority of 36% said they were legal and 35% said they believed them to be illegal. 29% said they didn't know.
We are not supposed to look at international public opinion and "justice" to learn right from wrong.

Our moral and legal compass is supposed to be tuned in to G-d and Torah Judaism.

This gets to the very core of the Chanukah story.  In actuality, the element of the oil and the light is minor and even added later.  I have no doubt that the emphasis of the oil and the increasing lights of the Chanukah menorah are to give visual and kinesthetic tools to teach the story.  Unfortunately, the oil or candle-lighting ceremony has taken off in popularity and left the true message of Chanukah far behind.

The poll quoted in the Algemeiner story shows that many Israelis and Jews all over the world are actually Hellenists, assimilated. They look to non-Jewish sources for their values, opinions and morals.

1as·sim·i·late
 verb \ə-ˈsi-mə-ˌlāt\: to learn (something) so that it is fully understood and can be used
: to cause (a person or group) to become part of a different society, country, etc.
: to adopt the ways of another culture : to fully become part of a different society, country, etc.


The modern Maccabee challenge/war isn't the military one of ancient times.  It's an intellectual spiritual one. We must understand that the bedrock of our laws and morality must from Jewish sources, Jewish History and G-d.  This is a very important war, and the battles won't be easy.

Chag Urim Sameach and Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, November 28, 2013

If Iran Will Still Build Its Nuclear Reactor, Then What Deal is Obama Celebrating?

Since I frequently try to get to the source of news articles and have discovered that most news sites, internet newspapers etc all base their articles on the same sources, I've been checking out Reuters.


This doesn't sound good!  And the following from TIME Magazine, hat tip Arutz 7, sounds even worse:
Israel and U.S. to Hold Military Exercises When Iran Deal Ends
Despite the interim deal between the U.S. and Iran, Israel will still beat the drum of protest until the six-month agreement expires, when a joint military exercise with the U.S. will help it ram a message home to the Iranians, says a high-ranking Israeli official

Read more: After Iran Deal Ends, U.S. and Israel to Hold Military Exercises | TIME.com http://world.time.com/2013/11/27/israel-and-u-s-to-hold-military-exercises-when-iran-deal-ends/#ixzz2lvAlb8kE
There's something really fokokt about the deal United States President Obama has pushed and applauded.



This sounds very impressive, but the Iranians claim that they didn't agree to stop their nuclear program.

Iranian FM: No production of new nuclear fuel, no new components installed, but heavy-water reactor construction continues.

A general view of the Arak heavy-water project, 190 km (120 miles) southwest of Tehran
A general view of the Arak heavy-water project, 190 km (120 miles) southwest of Tehran Photo: REUTERS
DUBAI - Iran will pursue construction at the Arak heavy-water reactor, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif was quoted as saying on Wednesday, despite a deal with world powers to shelve a project they fear could yield plutonium for atomic bombs.










From Reuters:
Other experts have said that an apparent loophole in the Geneva agreement could allow Iran to build components off-site to install later in the reactor.
"The agreement is silent on the manufacturing of remaining key components of the reactor and its continued heavy-water production," former chief U.N. nuclear inspector Olli Heinonen wrote in an analysis.
"Technically, such efforts are not reasonable if the goal is either to dismantle the reactor or modify it to a more proliferation-resistant, smaller light-water reactor as one of the alternative paths of producing isotopes for medical and industrial purposes," he said.

Whom are we supposed to believe?

And back to the TIME article, I'm never reassured by close military ties between Israel and the United States.

I do not trust the American analysts and policies.  They are 100% wrong when it comes to most issues concerning Israel's security, so why should I think they have gotten it right this time. They want us to accept an Arab terror state in the heart of our country.  They want us to return to the impossible to defend squiggly Auschwitz borders.
credit

I have trouble trusting and believing that important Israeli security information revealed to the Americans while planning their "joint exercise" will stay safe and far from Arab terrorist aka the so-called Palestinians. We must look at the entire picture and not let the glare of the fancy ceremonies blind us to obvious dangers.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

No, We Don't Do The Thanksgiving Thing Here in Israel

picture credit
I hope that none of our Shabbat guests are expecting turkey.

In the forty-three years since we got married, boarded the Greek Lines Santa Maria  "sailed away" and made aliyah to Israel, only once did we have a "Thanksgiving" meal.  It was a few years ago when one of our neighbors decided to organize a "Thanksgiving potluck" dinner. Everybody contributed.  It was fun getting together, but there was nothing very "thanks to the USA" on  the program.

A few years after our aliyah, when we were doing Jewish Zionist youth work in England an American friend mentioned that she was having trouble finding cranberry sauce (or was it bright orange yams?)  And I asked her why she was looking for them.
"Thanksgiving!"
"Oops! I had never given it a thought since we left the states." 
That's the truth.  Now with the internet I'm very aware of Thanksgiving since so many people write about it on facebook or blog about it.  And this year especially, since Chanukah and Thanksgiving are at the same time there's even more about it in the media than ever before.   Also on facebook I've been reading of the plans of some cousins.  A few decades ago it was much, much easier to be unaware of that American Holiday.

When I was "an American" our Thanksgiving was pure family, not patriotism.  I don't even remember the food, just the crowd of cousins, plus some aunts and uncles.  I remember the joy and the jokes.  Without my cousins there's no Thanksgiving.

Should Jews be celebrating Thanksgiving?  Is it a Jewish Holiday? 

As I remember, the holiday is to celebrate the Pilgrims, early European pioneers invaders surviving difficult conditions.  They were religious Christians and established the holiday to thank god for their survival. Some were adventurers, and some were more like refugees escaping difficult economic and social conditions.  Some of those Europeans wanted more religious freedom for themselves.  Once they set up their communities they were as intolerant of other religions as their former neighbors had been of theirs. Jews weren't very welcome.  That's the real America.

WASPs, white Anglo Saxon Protestants were the ideal American until a few decades ago.  For the ideal American, "color" meant rosy cheeks.  John F. Kennedy, as popular as became after his assassination, almost didn't get elected didn't get elected United States President, because he was a Catholic, and that was just half a century ago.

President Coolidge signs
 the immigration act
In 1924 the American Government in an attempt to "undo" the increase in the Jewish population and other non-"Europeans" which had mushroomed in the twentieth century enacted the  Immigration Act of 1924.

The Immigration Act of 1924, or Johnson–Reed Act, including the National Origins Act, and Asian Exclusion Act (Pub.L. 68–139, 43 Stat. 153, enacted May 26, 1924), was a United States federal law that limited the annual number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the United States in 1890, down from the 3% cap set by the Immigration Restriction Act of 1921, according to the Census of 1890. It superseded the 1921 Emergency Quota Act. The law was aimed at further restricting the Southern and Eastern Europeans, among them Jews who had migrated in large numbers since the 1890s to escape persecution in Poland and Russia, as well as prohibiting the immigration of Middle Easterners, East Asians, and Indians. According to the U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian the purpose of the act was "to preserve the ideal of American homogeneity".[1] Congressional opposition was minimal.
I have no doubt that barely two decades later when the United States did its best to keep its doors carefully locked and rejected many Jews fleeing Germany that the same people and mentality ruled America.
The events of 1938 caused a dramatic increase in Jewish emigration. The German annexation of Austria in March, the increase in personal assaults on Jews during the spring and summer, the nationwide Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") pogrom in November, and the subsequent seizure of Jewish-owned property all caused a flood of visa applications. Although finding a destination proved difficult, about 36,000 Jews left Germany and Austria in 1938 and 77,000 in 1939.
The sudden flood of emigrants created a major refugee crisis. President Franklin D. Roosevelt convened a conference in Evian, France, in July 1938. Despite the participation of delegates from 32 countries, including the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, and Australia, only the Dominican Republic agreed to accept additional refugees. The plight of German-Jewish refugees, persecuted at home and unwanted abroad, is also illustrated by the voyage of the "St. Louis."
Compare those numbers to the estimated six million 6,000,000 who were murdered directly or indirectly by the Nazis.

The Jews who made it to America and succeeded to make their lives better were lucky, but they must remember that the USA didn't encourage or facilitate their immigration.  They succeeded despite the United States Government.

I have nothing against family and friends getting together.  I even like eating turkey.  But I think that the Jewish commitment to thank the United States sometimes goes too far.

And don't forget that the American decision to join in the war against the Nazis had absolutely nothing to do with saving Jews.

No Rain in the Forecast, and No Substitute for Rainwater

Ariel
17-26°Today November 27
Mostly Cloudy 
13-21°Thursday November 28
Hazy 
13-19°Friday November 29
Partly Cloudy 
15-21°Saturday November 30
Partly Cloudy 
From this morning's forecast on Arutz 7

So far, this has been a dangerously dry winter.  In Israel winter rains were supposed to have begun after the Succot Holiday, exactly two months ago.  There were a couple of very short scattered rains in some parts of the country and even an hour or so of very heavy rain that made us think that all was right in the world.  But we were mistaken.

I think that G-d is very angry.  It's written in the Bible that our rain is a gift from G-d and an indication of how satisfied He is with our behavior. Nu, so in all honesty, I'm not all that surprised that yesterday was so hot and dry that my heavy cotton wash dried completely in less than an hour.  And that was late afternoon.  There was absolutely no humidity, even at dusk.

No doubt that G-d is angry, especially when the news was released that the Israeli Water Authority was complaining of "too much water."  Yes, just a couple of weeks ago, that strange announcement was in the news, davka at the same time that rabbis were announcing that we should add a special prayer for rain to our daily prayers.
This year, the Water Authority is concerned again. However,Globes reports that this time, the fear is that Israel will get too much rain – forcing the government to pay desalination plants to stop producing fresh water.
Not all water is the same.  I don't know about you, but I can taste the difference in water.  I feel sick and find my gums sensitive when I drink American soft, purified water.  During recent visits I've been buying myself bottles of mineral/mountain water, and I feel much better.  We once invested a fortune in fancy water filter in the house, and the water tasted "American," and I began having problems.  I don't buy bottles of "purified" water.  you have to read the labels.

Last year we finally, after a long period of drought,  had good rains which started on time, and the fruits were delicious and plentiful.  There is a difference in taste between rainwater citrus fruit and fruit grown with piped water.

The other day I had a tremp, ride with a friend who is a farmer.  He has orchards and a hot house for-export flower business.  As we rode, I asked about rain versus water.  He told me there are many differences, because the purified and desalinated waters don't have the necessary minerals for sweet healthy fruit.  Yes, it's not my imagination; not all water is the same.  There's no way that piped in desalinated or purified water, no matter what the quantity can substitute for rainwater.

This year's heat also has him terribly worried.  Pretty much all of his agriculture is based on our usual climate, the mountain cold and a certain quantity of required cold spells during the winter.  Without that cold, the flowers and fruit trees are barren. This means that food will be much more expensive in the coming year.

In addition, we're getting very close to Shnat Shmitta, the sabbatical year.  We need a bountiful harvest before Shmita, and we won't have it unless a great miracle happens.

That miracle is up to us.  G-d is waiting, no doubt.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

George Bush Joins the Lineup of Christian "Friends of Israel" Who Support Efforts to Convert Jews

Posted by JewishIsrael.com

Former President George W. Bush was the featured keynote speaker at this year's Messianic Jewish Bible Institute (MJBI) Banquet in Dallas. That organization, headed by "Rabbi"/Pastor Jonathan Bernis, clearly proclaims their vision and mission to convert Jews to Christianity. 

While the Bush appearance at the 2013 MJBI Banquet made a lot of waves, what is not widely known is that in recent years some of Israel's "best friends" have been the stars at these very same annual MJBI banquets. 

 It's important to consider and understand that a Christian can claim to be pro-Israel and still be an adversary of Judaism. And therein lies a very big problem which the conservative press is loath to investigate...more

Maccabee Victory versus The Greeks, Nes Gadol Hayah POH, Right HERE!

There were battles between the Greeks and the Maccabees right here near Shiloh.


Yes, when we in Shiloh say the phrase indicated on a dreidel, נס גדול היה פה! Nes Gadol Hayah Poh, A Great Miracle Happened Here, we really mean HERE!  There were battles around Shiloh where today we have the villages of Eli, Ma'ale Levona and smaller Jewish communities.
Most of the battles take place in the foothills leading from the coastal plain area (Tel Aviv) to Jerusalem. The Greeks are trying to march their armies up the natural canyons that lead into the mountain areas, the stronghold of the Jewish army. There's only a few places where the Greeks can ascend and this is where the Maccabees choose to take them on. (History Crash Course #29: Revolt of the Maccabees)
Shiloh is east of what is today Tel Aviv and north of Jerusalem.  All of the recent archaeological excavations are revealing the rich and active Jewish life in Shiloh and environs after the Mishkan was destroyed.  This area was full of Jewish Life during the reign of King Solomon and even after the division of the Jewish kingdoms to Judea and Israel.

Close to twenty years ago, during my final year as the Girls Gym Teacher of our local elementary school, I, for the first time, was asked to accompany my students on a school trip.  That's when I learned that Shiloh was more than just the location of the Mishkan Tabernacle.  Actually, I had no idea where we were going, just that they needed a teacher who could "walk."  It was during the very short bus ride that I learned that the Second Grade students would be "reenacting" those ancient battle in situ.



First the boys were dropped off towards the bottom and the girls further up.  They were all given toy swords for the activity.  They were told to meet and "battle it out."  I don't remember which group was supposed to be the Greeks and which the Maccabees.  I was too terrified.  I have a phobia about walking down cliffs, and for me this was one big nightmarish cliff!  The soldiers who were there to protect us had to drag me down, or I'd probably be there until this day.

Living in Shiloh, as I've written many times before, gives me a perspective that you won't get in most other locations.  Not only is Shiloh the center of many Biblical events, but we are the place and the people politicians and world leaders want to move around like chess pieces.

They talk about me, my community, neighbors and home as if we're no more than cheap plastic.  I am one of "those settlers."  I've lived in Shiloh for over thirty years. "Peace plans" isn't a computer game with the convenient "undo" button.  We can't afford to make a mistake.

The ancient Jewish Maccabees fought for Jewish Rights, Independence and sovereignty thousands of years ago, and we must do it again. Nothing's new.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Let's Go Back to True Proportional Representation


Israel's's Knesset, parliament, has 120 members elected in a sort of proportional way.  Well it is proportional in that we don't have districts. But a large portion of voters lose their votes, because the trend in recent years has been to raise the minimum threshold so there won't be a very small party of one member and those with two are already rare. There are politicians who want to raise the threshold even more.

I'm one of those voters whose vote was washed away, because my favored party didn't get the minimum needed.  We weren't short by all that much.  In the old way of counting, they would have gotten in with two representatives or at least one.  Actually, in the previous minimum threshold they would have probably gotten three MKs.  How's that?  That's because many people didn't vote for the party I did, because they thought that it would be a "wasted vote." That became a self-fulfilling prophecy. There were not doubts in the polls that they could have gotten in on the old law.

So, I'm among those who wish we could turn back the clock.

Hat tip: Rafi's Life in Israel
The minimum threshold for Knesset had been adjusted a number of times over the years, eventually being raised to the current 2%, and recently attempts were made to bump it up to 4%. It is thought that raising the threshold would make the government more stable by ridding the government of small parties that end up wielding more power than they should naturally have, giving them the ability to make "unreasonable" demands.
MK Yaakov Litzman (UTJ) just proposed a bill by which the threshold would move in the opposite direction. Litzman would do away with the threshold entirely. Litzman believes, it seems, in evolution and natural selection, and believes that the natural threshold would do a better job at keeping the government stable and small parties out.
Litzman says that the threshold should be natural - take all the valid votes from the elections, divide by 120 (number of Knesset seats), and whichever parties garnered enough votes to reach that number would get the appropriate number of seats based on votes. Litzman even says that history has shown that raising the minimum threshold repeatedly has not stopped small parties form getting in, nor has it made the government more stable...

Modern Chanukah. The USA and Allies are The Greeks and We Jews in Israel are as always The Jews

The theme of the story, history, behind the Chanukah Holiday is how the mighty Greeks were defeated by the small, seemingly weak Jewish Maccabees who were defending Jewish Religious and National Rights in Jerusalem.

It was a great battle.  The Greeks were the invaders and not only attempting to rule the Holy Land militarily, but they had also established laws forbidding Jewish worship.They attempted to replace the Jewish religion with their own, and unfortunately, many Jews aka the Hellenists cooperated with them and assimilated.

Today's Hellenism is western culture and values based on the Christian version of Judaism, claiming "tolerance" and democracy as pillars of the Jewish Religion, which is actually false. Just read the first two of the Ten Commandments, and you'll see that we have one G-d only and one approved set of values and Laws.
1) I am the Lord thy god, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
2) Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
We are not supposed to tolerate and give equality to those promoting violating G-d's Commandments. These principles are very clearly stated.

Just because United States President Barack Hussein Obama and his staff managed to convince American allies to support their "deal" with the Iranians, doesn't make it a good agreement for the world.  Read Arlene Kushner's well documented article for more information about its dangers.  Even though there are Jews who are defending Obama and his "deal," doesn't make it good.  Remember that there were many Jewish Hellenists supporting the Greeks thousands of years ago.

In Judaism the majority isn't always right. There are inflexible absolutes. Democracy is not a Jewish value! The Biblical story known as the "sin of the spies" is based on the dangers of majority/democracy mistakes and the price we we must pay for following the masses instead of G-d.  The  "sin of the spies" happened soon after the exodus from Egypt.  G-d told Moshe to send a representative of each tribe to stake out the Land in a very public "pilot trip."  It's a misnomer to call them "spies."  Instead of coming back to promote their new homes, ten of the twelve the tribal elders frightened the people with stories of upcoming difficulties. Only two, Joshua and Caleb promoted trusting G-d and immediate entrance to the Land. The people followed democracy, the majority and feared the move. In response, G-d punished them all by delaying the entrance to the Land by forty years.

Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90
Read more at
 http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/prime-minister-netanyahus-statement-on-the-iran-agreement/2013/11/24/
Israel is now in a very challenging position.  The "deal" between the western powers and Iran has isolated us even further than usual. Israel's response has been very strong and negative.  This is the excerpt from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's statement that was sent out by the Government Press Office:
REUTERS/CAROLYN KASTER/POOL
"What was achieved last night in Geneva is not an historic agreement; it is an historic mistake. Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world. For the first time, the world's leading powers have agreed to uranium enrichment in Iran while ignoring the UN Security Council decisions that they themselves led. Sanctions that required many years to put in place contain the best chance for a peaceful solution. These sanctions have been given up in exchange for cosmetic Iranian concessions that can be cancelled in weeks. This agreement and what it means endanger many countries including, of course, Israel. Israel is not bound by this agreement. The Iranian regime is committed to the destruction of Israel and Israel has the right and the obligation to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. As Prime Minister of Israel, I would like to make it clear: Israel will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability."
Now the big question is whether Bibi will slink away or fight like a Maccabee.  And even more important, will Netanyahu defend Jewish Israeli interests, security etc.  Remember that the same faulty logic (faith?) behind believing that Iran can be trusted not to develop nuclear weapons is urging us to believe that a Palestinian State  won't attack the State of Israel.  If the United States and allies are so ignorant as to believe and trust the Iranians, we should refuse to cooperate with them in terms of our country's security in all aspects.  No more American brokered negotiations with the Arab terrorists!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Will The "Nuclear Deal" Stop Iran or Just Enrich It?

Reuters
It's being called "the nuclear deal," and I wonder if it's going to last long.
(Reuters) - Iran and six world powers reached a breakthrough agreement early on Sunday to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief, in a first step towards resolving a dangerous decade-old standoff.
The deal between the Islamic state and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia was nailed down after more than four days of negotiations.
"We have reached an agreement," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced on his Twitter feed. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also confirmed the deal.
Iran will get access to $4.2 billion in foreign exchange as part of the accord*, a Western diplomat said. No other details of the agreement were immediately available.

*emphasis mine

All I can say is that it looks good for Iran, but I wonder if it's good for the world.

One of the phrases in the Reuters article, on which most news sites are basing their reports, that makes me nervous is this which I've put in bold and italics:
The talks were aimed at finding a package of confidence-building steps* to ease decades of tensions and banish the specter of a Middle East war over Tehran's nuclear aspirations.
The idea of sanctions should be to do the opposite, put an aggressive country in its place, not reward it and certainly not build up its already over-inflated confidence.


This is the twenty-first century version of "The Mouse That Roared."  In this modern version, it isn't a poor backward country that inexplicably and unintentionally defeats the world power in search of a "Marshall Plan" of foreign aid, a wealthy aggressive country just threatens the world with its nuclear weapons development and gets lots of financial gifts from world powers.  We're all supposed to trust a country that has never been honest.

The party-like atmosphere, diplomats willing and wanting to make a deal no matter the cost and quality, remind me of those who rush to get married, because they want to have a wedding, which is a sure-fire recipe for divorce.
Israel says the deal being offered would give Iran more time to master nuclear technology and amass potential bomb fuel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told local media in Moscow that Iran was essentially given an "unbelievable Christmas present - the capacity to maintain this (nuclear) breakout capability for practically no concessions at all".
It's obvious that Israeli warnings have been ignored, and Israel will be threatened by the countries that negotiated the "deal" against doing anything to endanger it.

A lesson Israel should learn from all this is that being nice, reasonable and willing to compromise will get you nothing from the world, just scorn.  We'd be treated much, much better if we would just stop being Mr. Nice Guy and just do what's best for us, our security and our future!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What Would Happen if Israel Would Say "NO!" to Obama?

It's only a few days until Chanuka.  Consider this post a Chanuka message.

Israeli politicians and even some of the media do admit that American advice, demands and policy are dangerous, wrong and worse.  Not only do the American demands brought by Secretary of State Kerry endanger the very existence of Israel, but American President Barack Hussein Obama's insistence on negotiating with the Iranians endangers the world.

Kerry has made it very clear that Obama doesn't want Israel to compromise in negotiating with the Arabs. We're supposed to give in completely to their demands, the American and the Arab demands.

Unfortunately, Israeli politicians keep insisting that we really have no choice.
"We shouldn't anger the Americans.  We need their friendship."
I disagree completely.

  • We don't "need" the Americans.
  • They are not acting like friends and allies.
photo credit VOA
So, what do I think would happen if Israel would finally just tell the Americans to just "stuff their turkeys" and leave us alone?

Of course, at first the American government would get angry and threaten Israel with all sorts of sanctions.  

Yes, maybe they won't give us any more shopping coupons for military equipment.  Israel will just have to improve its military industries.  That would be good for our economy, more production, export etc.  It's also very possible that the American military industry will be upset that Israel will no longer be improving its products. Israeli engineers who had to move abroad to find work will have work here in Israel.

The Americans may threaten boycotts of Israeli products, but since they use and need so much of our high tech inventions, they will find it impossible to really boycott Israel.

Within a very short period of time American politicians will be too busy jockeying for new positions and running for office. Remember that the American Presidential elections take about three years considering pre-campaign touring and fundraising, then primaries etc.  It's now three years to the next presidential elections. The clock is ticking.

For as long as I can remember, candidates campaign as if they are Israel's best friend.  How many times have we heard a candidate, a winning one, promise to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem?  And we all know that when elected, that promise is the first one erased from the list as if it never existed.

Even Obama was sympathetic to Israel prior to being elected.

No candidate is going to campaign as anti-Israel.  It's bad politics.  Obama and Kerry will be blamed for tarnishing relations with America's most reliable  friends, Israel and Egypt.

Davidka
One of the interesting things that has come up in the "fifty years since the Kennedy assassination" has been the revelation, new to many, that in the early sixties when Kennedy was President the United States didn't sell Israel weapons or give it aid.  Israel's two greatest and most crucial victories, our 1948 War of Independence and the !967 Six Days War were achieved without American help, aid, weapons or support.

Six Days War

In the long run, Israel will be better off if we stop listening to foreign leaders.  We'd be stronger and safer. The Arabs will understand that we're here to stay.  Their threats and terror won't have any effect, so they'll go back to wherever or stay, work and obey the laws.  The ordinary Arab who lives in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley will be very happy know that they will have the protections and services of Israeli Law. They will have to pay taxes to Israel, and once they do that their local services will improve.

Israeli sovereignty must be declared and put in practice in all of the Land we now hold.  The Palestine Authority must be weakened and warned that anything more than local municipal chores and services aren't theirs.  All international pro-Arab anarchists must be banished from Israel, declared persona non grata, including  foreign diplomats.  

Once we do this we will be on the road to peace, true peace.  It will take a couple of generations, but that's the only way.

We just have to say: NO!

Friday, November 22, 2013

I Miss Latma, So Here's One of Their Brilliant Songs

A Love Song to Obama...


When Latma posted a TV program every Friday, then every Friday I tried to blog it.  Am I the only one who desperately misses the brilliant performances and writing?



Shabbat Shalom

Enough is Enough, Bring Jonathan Pollard Home Alive

There's something terribly fukokt in American policy.  They find nothing wrong with spying on allies, consider Jewish homes more dangerous to world peace than if Iranians get the bomb, and they're still holding Jonathan Pollard in jail for almost thirty years.

stopping Israel from Stopping Iran


Officials in Jerusalem upset that Western powers fail to condemn inflammatory comments by Iran's supreme leader. (Jerusalem Post)
United States President Barack Hussein Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry spend more time trying to tie Israel's hands than stopping Iran from completing their nuclear weapons development.  And they keep telling the world not to listen to Israel.  Now, in all honesty, if you were to check out the credentials of Obama versus Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in terms of knowledge of history, political science etc.  Who would win?  Netanyahu has been a history buff, an expert specializing in terrorism for decades, long before Obama could read a sentence in any language.  Whose judgement should be trusted more?

And the United States at the height of its hypocrisy still imprisons Jay Jonathan Pollard for the crime of giving information to an ally.
Photo: AP
Pollard enters 29th year in US prison
Jonathan Pollard was arrested 28 years ago on Nov. 21, 1985 • Pollard's wife appeals to U.S. President Barack Obama to free her husband out of humanitarian considerations • Natan Sharansky: It is our collective failure that Pollard is still in jail.  (Israel Hayom)
Pollard has long since paid for his crime.  Criminals who spied for American enemies have served much less and long been released. Nothing in Pollard's crime is worse than theirs.  There can be only one reason for his unprecedented sentence, and it's the same reason why Obama keeps telling the world not to listen to Israel and the United States keeps insisting that Judea and Samaria must be judenrein... antisemitism.

Our Israeli politicians, media and academics must stop this dangerous worship and respect of the United States.  They aren't our friends; they aren't true allies.  The proof is in the continued imprisonment of Jonathan Pollard. He's the symbol of what America really thinks and feels about Jews and Israel.

Read their lips!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Change in Rituals Divide Jewish People, Re: Pew Report and The Bible

"Nothing's new..." as King Solomon repeats over and over in Kohelet, Ecclesiastes

Recently the Jewish world has been talking about the Pew Report, which gives a depressing, though not all that surprising report of the American Jewish population. Simply put, the more traditionally observant the stronger the growth and outlook for the future.

This year in the Bible course I'm taking in Matan, taught by Dr. Yael Ziegler, we've been learning about the split in the Jewish Kingdom after the reign of King Solomon,  The southern Judah Kingdom kept Jerusalem as religious capital and was ruled by King Rachavam, while the northern Israel Kingdom was led by King Yiravm (Jeroboam.)  The true split in the Jewish People began when the religion in the north changed from traditional Jewish practice, the Torah.
כז  אִם-יַעֲלֶה הָעָם הַזֶּה, לַעֲשׂוֹת זְבָחִים בְּבֵית-יְהוָה בִּירוּשָׁלִַם, וְשָׁב לֵב הָעָם הַזֶּה אֶל-אֲדֹנֵיהֶם, אֶל-רְחַבְעָם מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה; וַהֲרָגֻנִי, וְשָׁבוּ אֶל-רְחַבְעָם מֶלֶךְ-יְהוּדָה.
27 If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then will the heart of this people turn back unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah; and they will kill me, and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.'

כח  וַיִּוָּעַץ הַמֶּלֶךְ--וַיַּעַשׂ, שְׁנֵי עֶגְלֵי זָהָב; וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם, רַב-לָכֶם מֵעֲלוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִַם--הִנֵּה אֱלֹהֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלוּךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם.
28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold; and he said unto them: 'Ye have gone up long enough to Jerusalem; behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.'

כט  וַיָּשֶׂם אֶת-הָאֶחָד, בְּבֵית-אֵל; וְאֶת-הָאֶחָד, נָתַן בְּדָן.
29 And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan.

ל  וַיְהִי הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה, לְחַטָּאת; וַיֵּלְכוּ הָעָם לִפְנֵי הָאֶחָד, עַד-דָּן.
30 And this thing became a sin; for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.

לא  וַיַּעַשׂ, אֶת-בֵּית בָּמוֹת; וַיַּעַשׂ כֹּהֲנִים מִקְצוֹת הָעָם, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-הָיוּ מִבְּנֵי לֵוִי.
31 And he made houses of high places, and made priests from among all the people, that were not of the sons of Levi.

לב  וַיַּעַשׂ יָרָבְעָם חָג בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁמִינִי בַחֲמִשָּׁה-עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ כֶּחָג אֲשֶׁר בִּיהוּדָה, וַיַּעַל עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ--כֵּן עָשָׂה בְּבֵית-אֵל, לְזַבֵּחַ לָעֲגָלִים אֲשֶׁר-עָשָׂה; וְהֶעֱמִיד בְּבֵית אֵל, אֶת-כֹּהֲנֵי הַבָּמוֹת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה.
32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he went up unto the altar; so did he in Beth-el, to sacrifice unto the calves that he had made; and he placed in Beth-el the priests of the high places that he had made.
Dr. Ziegler always stresses that the Bible is a book  of theology, not history.  These changes in religious worship that were in stated by Yiravam caused irreparable harm in the unity of the Jewish People.

It reminds me of what has been happening to the Jewish People in modern times.  The "newer versions" of Judaism, Reform, Liberal, Conservative, etc. generally don't last too many generations, because the fewer Torah Mitzvot (commandments) a family observes, the statistically quicker their road to assimilation.

Many of these traditions and laws may seem unimportant and pedantic to some, which is why they are "deleted" from modern Jewish practice by many. Individual non-observance has always existed, but the recent institutionalization of it, making it official practice has truly and dangerously split the Jewish People. Today many people think they and their parents and children are Jewish, but they aren't.  This is the result of changing the definition of Jewish lineage from the mother only to from either parent and non-Torah observant conversion.

I have no doubt that many of those who have made these changes have done so with the best of intentions, hoping to hold on to as many Jews as possible, but the results are the opposite.  We lose more Jews than we gain, especially in future generations.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Dream for Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh

Many years ago when I first decided to invite Jewish women from all over to join me every Rosh Chodesh to pray at Shiloh Hakeduma, the site where the Mishkan, Taberncale rested in Ancient Biblical Shiloh I expected, just took for granted that within a short time, months or just a few years, women would be flocking from all over the Jewish World to pray with us every month.


I don't get paid for this.  It's just something I feel I should do.  It started when I would get annoyed, even frightened at the pushing and shoving I'd see among men trying to get onto buses to Kever Rachel, Rachel's Tomb.
Why weren't people clamoring to get to the site of the Mishkan?
I think that the location where the Holy Mishkan sat for 369 years has a holiness that certainly rivals if not passes that of a dead body, especially when many experts say that Rachel isn't even buried there.  There are those who say that the real tomb is north of Jerusalem, southeast of Adam.

From what I hear from women who would like to come but don't is that they need easier transportation. They'd like a bus to take them specially once a month, if not more frequently.  Thousands and thousands of women show up every year for the Women's TU B'Av event and the T'fillat Chanah which is held every year before Rosh Hashannah.


I don't envision the monthly Rosh Chodesh Prayers as so massive, though there's space and it would be wonderful if thousands of women would come every month on the traditional women's holiday.

Today I saw something that really has me dreaming.  I'd like one for Shiloh Hakeduma.

special bus service to Kever Rachel
Maybe some day...
In the meantime, next Rosh Chodesh is very soon.  It's during Chanukah.

Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh
Rosh Chodesh Tevet
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
First of Tevet 5774, 8:30am
Tour of Tel Shiloh & Dvar Torah, Short Torah Lesson
Please come and invite family, friends and neighbors
תפילת נשים
ראש חודש טבת בתל שילה
יום ד' 4-12 א' טבת תשע"ד 8:30
יהיה דבר תורה קצר וסיור בתל
כדאי לבוא ולהזמין חברות, משפחה ושכנות

You're welcome to join our facebook page. 

There will also be activities and street theater there run by the tourist center over Chanukah, 29-11, 1-12, 2-12.  For more information and general information about Shiloh Hakeduma email visit@telshilo.org.il  or phone 02-994-4019.

PR and Policy Not The Same, If Only Israel Made Policy From Its PR

Apparently Israel's Economy Minister Naftali Bennett was sent off on a Public Relations junket to the states relieving Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of the chore. Not too many Israeli Government officials can hold their own against the very professional and anti-Israel veteran CNN reporter, Christiane Amanpour.



Bennett may not have the charm or perfect "radio voice" Bibi was blessed with, but his mind is quick and his mouth is fearless.  Too many Israeli officials are wowed by their fame and the chance to appear on the international screen/scene, so they act more like adoring groupies than professional representatives of the Israeli Government and People.

Bennett must have taken my advice, which I blog periodically, about how to handle bad questions.  Many times over the three decades plus I've lived in Shiloh and had to handle journalists and all sorts of groups and visitors, I've found it necessary to "correct" or even refuse to answer a badly worded or conceived question. In this case Bennett refused to accept the wording of one of Amanpour's questons which included the term "occupied territories."
Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett took CNN’s Christiane Amanpour to task in a tense television interview on Monday, objecting to the anchor’s insistence on referring to “occupied territories,” to which the leader of Israel’s Jewish Home party responded flatly, “One cannot occupy his own home.”
If Bennett and the Israeli Government, which he represents, really believes what he said to her, then there is no logical reason for us to be negotiating with the Arabs to invent a new Arab country which will be called "Palestine" to be placed in the very heart, actually taking over most of those very same "territories."


Isn't it beyond insanity, totally illogical to permit, facilitate and certainly promote a state in the heart of or even adjacent to one's land borders that has as a raison d'être your very destruction and replacement?
The Palestinian Authority paints a picture - both verbally and visually - of a world in which Israel does not exist. Children’s educational TV teaches that Palestine currently is a "state" (Arabic "dawla" = state) covering 27,000 sq. km - i.e., an area that includes all of Israel (the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip total only 6220 sq. km). Moreover, all Israel’s cities and infrastructure are referred to as "Palestinian": “Palestinian ports ... [are] Haifa, Jaffa, Ashkelon, Eilat, Ashdod, and Gaza". [PA TV (Fatah), Sept. 1 2008]. PMW
That's why I don't get all relieved and excited when I hear one of those speeches and interviews like Bennett's from Israeli Government officials. It's PR Public Relations which is far removed from actual policy. It's like the distractions magicians use so we don't see how they do their tricks.  At the same time Israel's Supreme Court is more powerful than the government, and the government hasn't done anything to remind the "justices" that they are supposed to make rulings according to law and not their personal opinions and agendas.

And also, in direct contradiction to the NRP-Bayit Yehudi election campaign, they have no real government power in terms of policy.  This is all illusion, including Bennett's interview and determined words.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Advantages of Blogging Over Other News Media

Considering that I'm among the old veteran bloggers, I've seen how the news medium of blogging has developed this past decade.  When I started blogging about ten years ago, it was new, very new.  A few years before that I had begun writing and emailing short articles about real life here in Shiloh in the face of Arab terror.  My mailing list grew, and I knew that I had made it when my own article came back in the mailing a friend had sent out to her mailing list.

Lots of people kept telling me that I should start a website.  But in those days, w

When I began writing my thoughts, "musings," I had hoped that I'd somehow manage to get them into some newspaper or magazine and get paid for them.  I did get my articles in a few publications, but they didn't pay me.  Soon many of the Jewish publications changed policy and rarely paid for op-eds, personal pieces by "unknowns."  That was me.

In addition to that, even for free, it's not all that simple to get an op-ed piece in the mainstream media.  An opinion editor of a major paper told me that I can submit what I want and it can take ten days for them to decide.  Quite a number of years ago, it took a couple of months until I discovered that my article had been published. Since one of the main purposes of my blogging was to get my message out, and I couldn't count on the mainstream media for it, and many articles are although always interesting reading, passed their expiration date when it comes to current news, being an independent blogger is the best.

And there are news sites that welcome people to blog on them.  They each have different requirements and restrictions. In some cases I've been given free choice and access to the site to post my blog posts.  Some of those news sites allow me to re-post what had been on my blog with a link to it.  Other news sites insist on original articles, although they don't pay for them.  And another news site copies my articles/posts from my blogs.  Lately the Jewish Press has been posting many of my blog posts.

To make things more interesting, I as blog "owner" here have given a few people access to my blog to post whatever they wish.  Before Arlene Kushner had a site, I used to copy her mailings  and post them on this blog, with her permission of course.  Ellen of Jewish Israel has been posting on this blog for years, even before she started that site.

I'm made peace with the fact that I'm not going to get rich writing, certainly not from my political articles. And writing for me is like breathing out the CO2.  It keeps me sane. But still, sometimes I feel like I'm wasting my time, and then a reader, frequently a total stranger, tells me that they love my writing and agree with me. I help new bloggers and now run the two most veteran Jewish blog carnivals Havel Havelim and Kosher Cooking Carnival.  They keep me in the international community of Jewish bloggers. I also participate in JPIX and more recently in the Jewish Book Carnival.

And I must admit that I signed up with facebook and twitter for the sole purpose of promoting my blogs.  Are you a blogger?  And why yes or no?

No Surprise There Hasn't Been Enough Rain in the Holy Land

Rain here in the Holy Land is given by G-d according to how well we obey Him.  Considering that the little rain we have received has been far from our Capital City Jerusalem, that shouldn't surprise us at all.  The Israeli Government has not been doing its job to protect and promote the Jewish State and establish Israeli sovereignty on our Holy Land.

I highly suggest reading Arlene Kushner's site for more information about what she is doing.
What we are doing is laying the ground work that will ultimately make sovereignty possible.  This is an essential stage in a process.  You cannot go "poof" and get people on board for sovereignty.  You first must convince them that Israel has a RIGHT to the land.  (We do, but few realize it.)
Unfortunately, during the last 20 years since Oslo, the PLO has done a fantastic job of convincing the world (and regrettably, some left wing Israelis) that the Palestinian Arabs have a right to everything past the Green Line (the 1949 Armistice line).  At the same time, Israeli governments have been deficient in presenting the case for Israel's rights.  At most, there is talk about security, which is not the same thing.
The 90 page Levy Report attests to Israel's legal rights in Judea and Samaria.  It is based on solid research, and relies on the historical record, the fact of the ancient Jewish presence in the land, and, most significantly, legal documents. The Levy Report is the vehicle for presenting the case for Israeli rights in Judea and Samaria.  We are not occupiers; the settlements are not illegal; our situation is unique (sui generis), and the Geneva Conventions do not apply. We intend to use this to change the paradigm of thinking: a critically important and necessary process.

And also:
David Bedein's Israel Behind the News
And it's important to know that a lot of the so-called "price tag" attacks on Arabs are by Arabs to frame Jews.
Showcase ‘Price Tag’ Indictments Turn Out to Be a Witch Hunt A court has thrown out “showcase” indictments against supposed “price tag” vandals, two weeks after judges acquitted Lieberman, raising questions of a witch hunt against the right wing.
Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/showcase-price-tag-indictments-turn-out-be-a-witch-hunt/2013/11/19/
Photo Credit: Flash 90
Who did it? Arabs sit against a wall under racist graffiti reading "Price tag", "A good Arab is a dead Arab" and "Revenge from Yitzhar." 
Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/showcase-price-tag-indictments-turn-out-be-a-witch-hunt/2013/11/19/