Thursday, April 25, 2013

Advance for Jewish feminism

Women who pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem can wear tallitot and tefillin, despite a standing order by police that sought to prevent the practice.
So ruled a Jerusalem court Wednesday, potentially altering the status quo at Judaism's holiest site dramatically.
Judge Moshe Sobel of Jerusalem's District Court said police were misinterpreting a 2003 Supreme Court ruling that recommended -- but did not order -- women who pray at the wall to desist from wearing tallitot and tefillin. Police had interpreted that 2003 ruling to mean that any woman wearing the prayer instruments at the Kotel could be arrested.
According to the Times of Israel, Judge Sobel wrote:
“The conclusion in the ruling is not phrased as an order directed at the Women of the Wall, but as a recommendation,” Sobel wrote in the decision, and the ruling “did not ban the Women of the Wall from praying in any particular place.”
The judge's ruling also means that women wearing tallitot and tefillin need not pray only at Robinson's Arch, which had been the longstanding practice.
The issue came to a head on April 11, when five women from a group called Women of the Wall were arrested by police for disturbing the peace. They are engaged in a longstanding protest at the kotel against the Orthodox authorities there who have prevented them from praying in the fashion they wish.
The Jerusalem police or the state prosecutor can now appeal Judge Sobel's ruling to the Supreme Court. N

Iran over the red line

Bombs taught in KG

Israel to the UN: The Prerequisites for Peace - Amb. Ron Prosor (Mission of Israel to the UN)

Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor told the UN Security Council on Wednesday:
  • Peace must be built on a foundation of education for tolerance and coexistence. Under the Palestinian Authority, students learn history from textbooks that glorify terrorists. They learn geography from atlases that erase Israel from the map. Gaza kindergarten graduations feature "terrorist dress-up." Five-year-olds stage plays that glorify jihadists and suicide bombers.

Monday, April 22, 2013

John Kerry shows true colors

John Kerry’s Shameful Moral Relativism

Those who doubted the wisdom of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apology to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in March had their first “I told you so” moment the very next day. Speaking to Turkish reporters, Erdoganappeared to immediately backtrack on his end of the rapprochement, which included dropping the case against the Israel Defense Forces for defending themselves from the Turkish-supported flotilla activists seeking to violently crash the naval blockade of the terrorist group Hamas.
A successful normalization of relations between Israel and Turkey would be beneficial to regional stability, so Netanyahu presumably offered the apology fully aware of the risks of dealing with Erdogan and believing they were outweighed by the rewards. But one of the reasons some opposed the apology at all was because they understandably feared it would legitimize the status of victimhood claimed by the violent invaders and endorse a frightful moral relativism which already undermines Israel’s attempts to defend itself.
But the moral relativism between the IDF and the armed naval invaders, while unfortunate, is fully eclipsed by the offensive and indefensible moral relativism Secretary of State John Kerry offered this weekend in trying to soothe Erdogan’s ego. According to the Associated Press:
Kerry said he understood the anger and frustration of those Turks who lost friends and family in the raid. The former Massachusetts senator said last week’s Boston Marathon bombings made him acutely aware of the emotions involved.
“It affects the community, it affects the country. But going forward, you know, we have to find the best way to bring people together and undo these tensions and undo these stereotypes and try to make peace,” he said.
This was always a concern about putting Kerry in charge of diplomacy. Kerry possesses neither principle nor expertise, and so the odds of him saying something both daft and morally bankrupt are always high. Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon no doubt spoke for many in Israel when he responded:
“It is never helpful when a moral equivalency is made confusing terrorists with their victims,” Danon told The Times of Israel. “As our American friends were made all too aware once again last week, the only way to deal with the evils of terrorism [is] to wage an unrelenting war against its perpetrators wherever they may be,” he said.
The armed Turkish invaders Kerry has developed such sympathy for were on a ship funded by a terrorist organization with ties to Hamas and other jihadist groups seeking to challenge Israel’s navy in order to help Hamas. If they were victims at all, it was of their own violent ideology. Though we don’t know yet what motivated the Tsarnaev brothers to perpetrate the monstrous bombing they are believed to have carried out and the additional ones law enforcement officials believe they were planning, the biographical picture beginning to emerge paints at least the elder of the two as “increasingly militant” in his Muslim faith.
But whether the Tsarnaevs were inspired by Islamic radicalism at all is beside the point in the case of Kerry’s comments. The victims in Boston were victims of a brutal and murderous attack; the “victims” to whom Kerry compared them were in the act of carrying out their own attack. Kerry’s comments also put Israelis trying to contain a terrorist enclave next door on the same moral plane as those terrorists and their allies.
Perhaps Kerry misspoke. If not, his worldview is warped, dangerous, and dishonorable. The same administration officials who nudged Netanyahu to apologize to Erdogan should pay a visit to Kerry. The secretary of state owes a round of apologies thanks to his inauspicious start as America’s chief diplomat.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Jewish left and anti Israel

Can the Left Stand Up Against Anti-Semites?

We don’t normally pay much attention to what is published in Tikkun magazine, let alone what its editor Michael Lerner disseminates through his email list. But occasionally Lerner’s tirades shine a light on the positions of the far left that illustrate exactly where some of Israel’s critics stand in a way that makes clear how they have made common cause with those who seek the Jewish state’s destruction.
In his latest email to readers, Lerner highlights what he claims is the latest instance of pro-Israel activists seeking to suppress free speech in both academia and the Jewish community. The Tikkun guru cites the protest against the decision of San Jose State University to have an Iranian professor who is a bitter opponent of Israel’s existence to teach a seminar on “Israel/Palestine.” According to Lerner, the attempt to stop Professor Persis Karim from being the sole person in charge of teaching on this subject was unfair since he claims her only goal was to help students see both sides of the issue. But even a cursory examination of the record, which Lerner helpfully provided by including the protest letter organized by the Amcha Initiative, shows that Karim is an advocate for Israel’s destruction and supports the exclusion of Israelis from academic forums as well as the boycott of Israel. Lerner’s backing of Karim gives the lie to his effort to pose as merely a liberal supporter of the Jewish state.
It should be conceded that within the ranks of the far left universe in which he travels, Lerner has always been treated as somewhat suspect because of his refusal to join with those who explicitly call for Israel’s destruction and engage in anti-Semitic agitation. This is a point on which he takes great pride and he has often engaged in disputes with comrades who have sought to merge opposition to American foreign policy initiatives or hyper-liberal domestic causes with explicit anti-Zionism, if not open anti-Semitism. But even if we give him a bit of credit for that, the Karim protest exposes just how ridiculous his attempt to differentiate his brand of criticism of Israel from that of its open enemies has become.
As the Amcha Initiative’s letter to the president of San Jose State University protesting Karim states:
She signed a letter to President Obama falsely accusing Israel of “one of the most massive, ethnocidal atrocities of modern times” and supporting the elimination of the Jewish state.
She signed a statement by international writers and scholars endorsing an academic boycott of Israel, which U.S. State Department’s former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal has declared to be “anti-Semitic.”
She endorsed a petition to have an Israeli scholar ejected from an academic conference in Los Angeles, in solidarity with the academic boycott of Israel.  
In other words, the university is putting someone in charge of discussion of the Middle East completely committed to Israel’s destruction and a supporter of anti-Semitic measures that discriminate against Jews. The notion that such a person is capable of creating a space for open discussion is absurd. Far from promoting free and fair debate or scholarly inquiry, Karim’s appointment is a threat to academic freedom as well as a development that can be fairly construed as creating a hostile environment for Jewish students.
The pages of Tikkun have hosted debates about whether it is appropriate for liberal critics of Israeli policies to support boycotts of the Jewish state. Such a discussion treats the idea of waging economic warfare as a reasonable measure even though its purpose is to suppress Israeli democracy and to force it to bow to the demands of Islamist and terrorist foes that are seeking its destruction.
That Lerner considers Karim a reasonable authority on the Middle East speaks volumes about how divorced his worldview is from reality. But more than that, it demonstrates that the left-wing narrative about the right’s alleged “persecution” of liberal voices that Lerner and others claim has “silenced” Jewish critics of Israel is absurd.
There is nothing wrong with a diversity of views on Israeli policies. It is true the debate about Israel is often divisive and angry, though I would contend that stems more from the decision of some on the left to try to impose their views on Israelis as well as their unconscionable support of foreign pressure on its democratically elected government. Anyone who is aware of the left-leaning dynamic of American Jewish life knows the notion that Israel’s critics cower in fear against the tyranny of the right is comical. They are the darlings of the mainstream press and are more likely to be lionized by the media for their faux courage in joining the pack hounding Israel than ostracized.
But what is at stake here is not a dispute about where Israel’s borders should be, the wisdom of settlements or whether you like the people Israeli voters have put in office. It is whether the Jewish community is willing to stand up against those who wish to ostracize Jews, demonize Israel and wage war on it. Karim’s anti-Zionism is not a benign idea about which we can agree to disagree; it is a blatant form of discrimination against Jews with real life consequences. That Lerner, who has a long record of radical stands, has chosen to back this position ought to place him and those who agree with him beyond the pale. To do so is not an attack on free speech—since he is free to spout his bile in his magazine to his heart’s content—but a defense of the rights of Jews and Israel.
Contrary to Lerner’s claim, there is no way to support boycotts of Israelis or the campaign to wage economic war on it or to support its destruction without being co-opted into the ranks of such anti-Semites. This struggle is not a conservative cause but one that should unite the entire Jewish community across the board from right to left. No decent person, be they Jewish or non-Jewish, should be willing to defend, let alone make common cause with, the likes of Karim–who are, sadly, all too common in academia. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013

Holocaust book for children

Abraham's home city

Archaeologists’ Discovery May Be Abraham’s Home City of Ur

“Terah took Abram his son, and Lot…and Sarai… from Ur…to go to the land of Canaan.” No one has ever found Ur – until now, with a “breathtaking find” of a 4,000-year-old public building near Ur.
Excavation in progress at Tell Khaiber, Iraq
Excavation in progress at Tell Khaiber, Iraq
Photo Credit: Manchester University professor Stuart Campbell 
British archaeologists have discovered a huge 4,000-year-old building that probably was in use in the ancient city of Ur, where the forefather Abraham lived before leaving with his father Terah for Israel, then known in the Bible as “the land of Canaan.”
The ancient city of Ur was discovered approximately 90 years ago and is thought to be Abraham’s birthplace, but the latest discovery is the first time a building has been unearthed that might be connected with the city or have religious connections to it.
The unearthing of the large structure, approximately 260 feet on each side, includes several rooms around a large courtyard.
“It might be an administrative building, it might have religious connections or controlling goods to the city of Ur,” Manchester University archaeologist Stuart Campbell told the Associated Press.
Among the artifacts discovered were signs of idol worship, which also was prevalent in Canaan until Abraham introduce the concept of one Deity to the world.
Iraq is known to host a wealth of history underground but has not been accessible to Western archaeologists for more than three decades because of the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein and ensuing wars.
One of the images that was found is that of a ram, the animal that Abraham sacrificed in Canaan after God “tested” him with His order to sacrifice his only son. Yitzchak (Isaac), who was to inherit the land for future generations of Jews, as written in the Bible:
“And Abraham stretched out his arm and took the knife to slaughter his son, and the angel of God called from the heavens and said, Abraham, Abraham…. Do not stretch forth your hand to the lad, nor do the slightest thing to him, for now I know that you are a God fearing man, and you did not withhold your son, your only one, from Me.
“And Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw a ram caught in a thicket by its horns and Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering instead of his son.”
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

There is no partner for peace

Rockets, Hate and Kerry’s Fool’s Errand

Two weeks have passed since President Obama spoke to an audience of Israeli students and urged them to pressure their government to make peace with the Palestinians. To further that aim, Secretary of State John Kerry is expected back in the country this week to push for a renewal of peace talks. Kerry will busy himself with shuttling between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. But while Kerry talks, the deteriorating cease-fire between Israel and Hamas along the Gaza border is illustrating the futile nature of his mission.
Palestinians fired rockets again into southern Israel from Gaza this week, showing that the cease-fire Hamas agreed to after Israel’s November counter-offensive to stop such outrages may be collapsing. This shows that despite Washington’s focus on propping up Abbas as a credible partner for peace, the independent Palestinian state in all but name in Gaza still has the ability to veto any hopes for an end to the conflict. But it also puts the entire enterprise of peacemaking in a different perspective. As much as the president seemed to place the onus for negotiating a deal on Israel, the armed terrorist camp in Gaza serves to not only maintain the level of violence on a low if persistent flame, but also keeps the pressure on Abbas to find more excuses to not talk to an Israeli government that has already said it will negotiate without preconditions. The reality of Palestinian politics has an unfortunate way of outstripping American diplomatic initiatives, something Obama should have taken into consideration before sending Kerry out on this latest fool’s errand.
Abbas has already demonstrated repeatedly that he is in no position to seriously negotiate peace with Israel, let alone sign such an agreement. But that isn’t stopping Kerry from diving into a new round of shuttle diplomacy any more than the reality of Hamas’s hegemony in Gaza is causing him to ponder the fact that a divided Palestinian leadership makes a deal impossible.
According to numerous reports, the current sticking point for getting Abbas back to the negotiating table is his demand that Israel release long-term security prisoners as a “goodwill gesture,” an issue that’s been prioritized because of sympathy generated by the death of a 64-year-old Palestinian in Israeli custody. But this is just one more of a long list of excuses that Abbas has trumped up in order to avoid talks rather than a genuine obstacle to peace.
The issue of the prisoners is often represented in the international press as one of concern for the fate of Palestinian protesters who have been unjustly jailed by Israelis in order to suppress dissent. But the prisoner who just died is a perfect illustration of just how misleading that assumption can be. The late prisoner was incarcerated for his role in sending a suicide bomber to blow up an Israeli café, not for conducting a peaceful protest or even throwing a rock.
As Kerry ought to know, the real obstacle to peace isn’t Israeli settlements or building in Jerusalem. It is the hate for Jews and Israel that is fueling the rocket fire from Gaza. But instead of trying to mollify Abbas’s bogus concerns about prisoners, the secretary would probably do more to advance the cause of peace were he to address the ongoing fomenting of hatred by the official PA media.
As Palestinian Media Watch reports, this month a children’s program on official Palestinian Authority television showed a child reciting a poem that referred to both Zionists and the “sons of pigs”—a traditional Muslim reference for Jews. The poem, which was received with applause, spoke of Jews killing children, raping women in the streets and defiling the Koran and Jerusalem, while urging Muslims to rise up and defeat them. So long as such expressions are not only considered mainstream enough for general Palestinian discourse but are part of the PA’s education agenda, peace isn’t difficult; it’s impossible.
This shows once again that the gaps between the two sides in the Middle East conflict are not about borders but about a willingness to live in peace. PA propaganda isn’t just outrageous; it directly contradicts President Obama’s endorsement of the right of Jews to live in peace in their historic homeland. Until that changes, Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy will be just a waste of time.

PA Continues to Advocate for Israel's Destruction

by IPT News  •  Mar 20, 2013 at 6:14 pm
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Calls for liberating "Palestine" have been reverberating among the various Palestinian political factions for decades.
Hamas actively pursues Israel's destruction, but how does the Palestinian Authority (PA) differ from the terrorist organization?
A recent Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) report highlights the PA's continued efforts to propagate the Palestinian refugees' "right of return" within Israel. This narrative is perpetuated at the core of PA schools and is clearly disseminated throughout history, civics, and Arabic language textbooks. For example, MEMRI points to a fourth grade textbook, which says, "Four and a half million Palestinians live in the diaspora outside Palestine… Most are refugees waiting to return to the motherland, from which they were expelled."
Other examples start as early as second grade and run throughout primary school textbooks. By subjecting children to continuous propaganda regarding an eventual "return" to Israeli cities like Haifa and Jaffa, the PA is clearly indoctrinating future generations on the virtues of a one-state solution. In that scenario, Palestinians would outnumber Israelis stripping Jews of a homeland.
This tactic is part of the broader strategy of subjugating younger generations of Palestinians to propaganda that glorifies terrorists and advocates for violent jihad for the purposes of destroying the Jewish state.
The Palestinian culture of death has been exposed in various forms throughout the years. Among the more notorious examples was a children's television program that featured a Mickey Mouse knockoff calling for martyrdom and violence against Jews. Moreover, MEMRI reports that the PA continues to praise terrorists such as Dalal Al-Mughrabi, commemorating the anniversary of a terrorist attack which killed 35 Israelis and injured dozens of civilians. Former and current PA officials continue to glorify such atrocities, describing Mughrabi as an inspirational figure and role model.
Furthermore, PA President Mahmoud Abbas recently claimed that there is "no difference between [the PA's] policies and those of Hamas." Based on the PA's educational curriculum, media dissemination, and terrorist glorification, the international community must look behind the PA's doublespeak before pressuring Israel to make further concessions.