Wednesday, July 30, 2014

י-ה רבון עלם - G-d, Master of the World...

Suggestion for this Shabbat (I know it's only Wednesday)...

As our soldiers have returned to Gaza, where they will spend Shabbat in the most miserable of conditions, in honour of one of Gaza's most famous residents, maybe people should include "Kah Ribon" in their Friday Night Zmirot, even people (like my family), that don't always sing Zmirot on Shabbat.

Kah Ribon was written by Rabbi Israel b. Moses Najara, who lived in Gaza city in the 16th Century. At that time, Gaza hosted a vibrant Jewish Community, and Rabbi Najara wrote poetry there, and was buried there after his death in 1625. I don't know whether anything remains of the Jewish Cemetery of Gaza, but until recently there were remains of the ancient synagogues of Gaza (I don't know what remains since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip 9 years ago).

The first letter of the 5 verses in Kah Ribon spell the word ישראל - ISRAEL, which was Rabbi Najara's given name, but is also the name of our nation and our land.

The song is in Aramaic, a language they say is so holy, that even the angels don't understand it - a language which we use to communicate directly with the Master of all Worlds.

As the song says:

אֱלָ-הָא דִי לֵיהּ,     יְקַר וּרְבוּתָא
פְּרוֹק יַת עָנָךְ,    מִפּוּם אַרְיְוָתָא
וְאַפֵּיק יַת עַמֵּךְ,     מִגּוֹ גָּלוּתָא
עַמֵּךְ דִי בְחַרְתְּ,     מִכָּל אֻמַּיָּא

O God to whom belongs glory and power,
Save your sheep from the mouth of lions,
Take your people from the nation of their exile,
The people that you chose from all the nations.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Failing to Condemn Evil

Earlier today a New Zealand organization that represents Jews, Christians, and Muslim leaders came out with the following media release calling for peace:

NZ Jews, Christians, and Muslims United in Call for Peace
Wellington, 23 July 2014

Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders in Wellington issued a joint statement today regarding the current conflict in Gaza and Israel:

“We call upon all of the parties involved in the current conflict in Gaza and Israel to cease hostilities, and sit down at the negotiating table and do the hard work necessary to obtain a just and lasting peace. We urge all New Zealand Jews, Christians, and Muslims to pray for peace.”

Dave Moskovitz, Jewish Co-Chair, Wellington Council of Christians and Jews
Jenny Chalmers, Christian Co-Chair, Wellington Council of Christians and Jews
Sultan Eusoff, CEO, Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand 
On the surface, this media release sounds like a wonderful thing, what could be better than Jews, Christians, and Muslims calling for peace.

The first problem is that it is totally meaningless. It does not suggest any realistic solutions to the problem, Hamas have made it clear that they have no desire to sit and negotiate over a "just and lasting peace", and even if they did - there would be no reason for Israel to trust or believe them as Hamas has stated repeatedly that they intend to keep fighting until every Jew is Dead.

But besides being a meaningless statement, there is a bigger problem, a council of religious representatives organizations, who should be moral examples for their adherents, seem unable or unwilling to recognize evil when it is staring them in the face.

Hamas is an evil organization. It is founded on hatred, preaches hatred, rejoices when children are killed, and does everything in its power to kill as many people as possible. And proudly states that. This is pure evil.
To make this evil even worse, they do it in their name of their religion.
You don't hav eto take my word for the fact that Hamas is evil. It is clearly visible in statements and videos released by Hamas and their supporters, and is stated explicitly in the Hamas charter.

When religious leaders, such as the council of Christians, Muslims, and Jews are confronted with evil in the name of religion, they should be the first ones to stand up and say that this evil is a perversion of their religious teachings and they totally condemn it.

When Jews do horrible things, such as the savages that murdered an Arab teenager 2 weeks ago, the entire Jewish world, right wing, left wing, religious, and secular expressed revulsion. They made it clear that these individuals in no way represented Judaism, or Jewish teaching, and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. The Israeli authorities quickly apprehended them, and they will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Now we have an organization that is firing rockets from schools, hospitals, and heavily populated civilian buildings. The stated purpose of these rocket attacks is to kill as many people as possible, and the celebrate when anyone is killed. And they claim that this is what their religion teaches.

I would have expected the Muslim representatives in the council of Christians, Muslims, and Jews to be the first to stand up and say - this is not Islam! Islam is a religion of Peace that totally rejects killing innocent people.

If they are unable to stand up and say that, if they are unable to tell the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, then general statements about how we should all pray for peace are not only meaningless, they show a moral vacuum.

And before anyone starts leaving comments about how the Israelis have killed civilians, gunned down children playing, kill children for pleasure then use their blood for Matza, crucified Jesus, and are plotting to take over the world, and are responsible for Global warming, please show me an example of when Israel deliberately killed innocent civilians, or rejoiced at the death of civilians. If you can find me such an example, from and Israeli source, I will be the first to condemn it, as should all Jews, including the Jewish representatives on the interfaith body.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Daddy Come Home

This is not a new video, however it seems to be relevant far too often, including right now.

I have several neighbors who have been called up in the past few days, and left their kids and wife to hope and pray that their Daddy will come home soon...

May the Holy One guard and protect all our soldiers and bring them home safely to their families, once they have successfully freed Israel and the Palestinians of the thugs who currently control Gaza.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Don't uproot what has been planted

As our soldiers are heading back into the Gaza Strip, now is a good time to remember the Jewish Communities of Gush Katif and the Northern Gaza Strip.

In 2005, when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, we left behind the infrastructure of 21 beautiful communities.
Although the people were evicted from their homes, and their houses were bulldozed, the roads and some infrastructure was left intact, including the wonderful horticulture business which produced vegetables and flowers which were exported all over Europe.

We handed over a man-made Paradise to the people of Gaza. What did they do with these beautiful communities? Using the Satellite View in Google Maps, you can see what is left of these communities - take a look at the links below to see the desolate wasteland dotted with roads and empty greenhouses in what was once some of the most beautiful communities in Israel.

Bnei Atzmon 
Gan Or
Ganei Tal
Kerem Atzmona
Kfar Darom 
Kfar Yam
Netzer Hazani 
Neve Dekalim 
Pe'at Sadeh
Rafiah Yam
Shirat HaYam
Tel Katifa
Elei Sinai 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Baruch Dayan Haemet

ברוך דיין האמת

More soldiers died today defending our land.

When the land offensive started, we knew that there was a high chance that some of our precious sons (and daughters) would not come home, but at least they know that they died in a just cause - if there ever was a just, ethical war - this is it.

May G-d grant our army strength to continue in their mission and guard and protect them from all further harm. And may He grant the wisdom and courage in our leaders to continue to do what's right, and to finish this operation so that the citizens of Israel are no longer under threat of a murderous terrorist regime.

We should keep our thoughts and prayers with our soldiers.

There is a new web site that tells you how many days, hours and minutes Israel has been "Rocket Free"

As of this writing, Israel has been "Rocket Free" for just over half an hour. I hope that by the end of this operation, we will measure the time that Israel has been rocket free in years, not minutes.

There were many times in History when Jewish Blood ran freely, and no one lifted a finger to help us - that period of history is over.

Friday, July 18, 2014

How do you say "Chutzpa" in British?

This has got to be one of the most disgusting videos I have ever seen (waning, may cause nausea or vomiting)

For people unaware, Britain has been involved in the wars in Afghanistan (about 20,000 Civilian deaths) and Iraq (only about 5000 civilian deaths) yet neither Afghanistan nor Iraq has fired a single rocket at London, not even a tiny Gad B at Leeds. The citizens of Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, and all other British towns and cities have not experienced a single rocket (well not since WWII), they don't have air raid sirens, bomb shelters, or traumatized children anywhere in the UK - yet Britain has been involved in many military campaigns throughout the world.

The British army has never called the enemy to say exactly where they will bomb, doesn't drop warning leaflets or put its soldiers at risk to protect enemy civilians.

Yet members of the British Parliament have the Chutzpa to stand up and lecture Israel about international Law and Human Rights.
Is it only a breach of International Law if Israel is involved? Why have these parliamentarians singles out the Jewish State for criticism? Do they think that Jews have less right to defend themselves than other people?

Well guess what - Jews have thousands of years experience being the target of hostile enemies who say openly that they want us dead. For 2000 years we have sat quietly while we were massacred across Europe, including several times in England. We got tired of being the world's punching bag. If someone attacks us, they can now expect us to stand up an defend ourselves. And if that is offensive to members of Her Majesty's Government, well personally - I couldn't care less.

And by the way - one of the honorable MPs described Gaza as the "World's Biggest Prison" I just checked a map - the British Isles seem like a much bigger Prison (By "prison" I assume you mean "Independent territory surrounded by sea or a border") , the Government in Westminster may not be as ruthless as the Hamas Government is Gaza, and although they both seem to lack moral clarity, Hamas are still much worse - however I am prepared to bet that the food is better in the Gazan prison, and they get free health care from Israel which is surely better than the British health system, so I guess all is not lost.

(BTW - while writing this post, the radio announced a least 10 "Code Red" alerts, I'll post a video of the British parliament condemning that as soon as it is available -but don't hold your breath)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What Should Israel's End Game be?

The news this morning is abuzz with talk of a cease fire which was supposed to have taken place 3 hours ago (and counting). Israel accepted the 12 hour cease fire; Hamas, true to their word, didn't - and have continued to fire rockets at Israeli towns.

Now that Israel has given Hamas an opportunity to finish the current round of fighting, assuming that they don't stop firing, Israel should make it very clear what it plans to do after the 12 hours are up, and that is to undo the damage caused to Israel's security situation by the Withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.

I'm not sure whether long term Israel should have stayed in Gaza or not (Gush Katif had some of the most beautiful towns and beaches that I've seen anywhere in this country), but I am sure that the time and manner in which we withdrew from Gaza in 2005 sent a loud and clear message to the Palestinians that violence and terrorism works, and if they increase terrorism and rockets, not to mention kidnappings, there will only be further concessions from Israel.

To undo the damage from the Gaza Withdrawal, Israel must announce that at the end of the 12 hour cease fire, Israel will reconquer the Gaza Strip and reinstate a full occupation of the territory.
Israel should state that it has no intention to permanently occupy the Gaza Strip, and will not rebuild civilian institutions, however the army will retain full control of the territory until we have complete quiet for a period of 2 years.

Hamas can choose when Israel ends the occupation; it will be 2 years after the last rocket is fired into Israel. At the end of the 2 years of quiet, Israel will start a gradual withdrawal, the timing of which will depend on whether there is an agreement with the Palestinian leadership (which would mean a quick, smooth withdrawal), or the withdrawal is unilateral, which would mean that it would be in stages, and after each stage to wait a period to confirm that quiet is maintained before continuing to the next phase.

This would give Hamas complete control over when and how Israel withdraws from Gaza, and an incentive to stop rocket fire.

While the IDF are in Gaza, they should make sure every effort to prevent attacks against both our civilians and soldiers. This would include a full presence along the Philadelphi corridor to stop arms smuggling from Egypt, complete control over land and sea ports to inspect all imports, and dividing the Gaza strip into three separate areas. Each area should be governed by separate rules based on how quiet it is - for example, if there are a lot of attacks coming out of the North of Gaza Strip, there may need to be curfews or limit of travel within that area. If the Southern Gaza strip is quieter, we should encourage and assist them in rebuilding infrastructure in that area.

During the hopefully short term re-occupation of the Gaza Strip, Israel should see what it can do to improve the quality of life and economy of Gaza. For example, Israel could build a military hospital, which could also serve civilian needs for the local population, maybe even including a medical school to train new Gazan doctors, so Palestinians do not need to travel to Israel for medical care.
If the Southern Gaza Strip is quiet, maybe bring in some of the experts who designed the greenhouses in Gush Katif to reestablish them under Gazan ownership so that the Gazans can grow flowers and vegetables which could be exported to Israel instead of rockets.

Would the idea work - no idea, but unless Israel articulates a detailed plan how to stop Hamas from attacking our civilians, even after the current round of fighting is finished, we will still have regular attacks against towns in the south and a repeat of this war in another 12-24 months, like a bad movie being played over and over again.

Lets find a way to stop this movie and bring quiet to the citizens of Sderot as well has Khan Yunis

Monday, July 7, 2014

I fully agree with and endorse the open letter of condemnation posted on the Elder of Zion blog.

We unequivocally condemn the horrific murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. It was unjustifiable under any circumstances. The killing was reprehensible and we hope that the criminals who did this sickening act are found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Israel is a country run by the rule of law. There are reports that Jews have been arrested for this crime. If a trial finds that Jews are indeed guilty of this unconscionable killing, our condemnation is redoubled. The idea that Jews could do such an act fills us with shame and horror.

The people who murdered Mohammed do not represent us in any way. It is not enough to dissociate ourselves from the dreadful act; we must also ensure that crimes like this are never repeated.

Just as the appalling murders of Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach and Gilad Shaar do not in any way justify the hideous murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, neither does Khdeir's murder justify the violence, terrorism, destruction and incitement we have seen over the past few days against Israelis and Jews.

We hope and pray that everyone, Arab and Jew, lives in peace and security in the region.


Between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Compare and Contrast

The media has been filled in recent days by the response to the horrific murders of "our Boys" (Naftali, Gilad, and Eyal הי"ד) and the subsequent equally horrific murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir.  The response to these two acts of barbarianism is a good opportunity to compare values in Jewish and Arab society.

So with flashbacks to 6th form English, here is my essay on "Compare and Contrast the response to murders in the Holy land"

Murder of Gilad, Eyal, and Naftali

What Happened: Three teenagers were kidnapped and murdered on their way home from school.

The Perpetrators: Members of Hamas.

Why were they killed: Because they were Jewish.

Response of the Palestinian Leadership:  Palestinian Authority issued a belated condemnation, Hamas denied responsibility but said that they supported the action.

Response of the Palestinian People: Wide spread celebration including handing out candies in the street and the infamous 3-fingered salute. Large number of rockets fired at civilian targets from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Anti-Semitic cartoons in the PA-controlled Palestinian press.

Response of World Leaders: Mild commendation and calls on Israel for restraint.

Response of the Israeli Leadership: Condemnation of the act, and swift action to try to locate the kidnapped teenagers, which included a curfew on the areas where the perpetrators were believed to be hiding and the arrest of several hundred members of Hamas.

Response of the Israeli People: When the boys were reported missing: massive prayer rallies and calls to increase good deeds; When the boys were found dead: tears and massive attendance at the funerals. There were limited calls for revenge which were widely condemned by religious and political leaders. There were also demonstrations in favour of unity and peace with the Palestinian People.

Murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir

What Happened: A teenager was murdered on his way to morning prayers at a local mosque.

The Perpetrators: Unknown at this stage; one theory is that it is a revenge killing, other possibilities are that it was a family "honour-killing".

Why was he killed: Unknown at this stage

Response of the Palestinian Leadership: Immediate condemnation.

Response of the Palestinian People: Massive violent rioting across the country, including massive damage of property throughout Jerusalem, including attacks against people in Northern and Southern Jerusalem, the torching of a UN vehicle near Armon HaNatziv. Riots in the Galilee, and a large number of rockets fired at civilian targets from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Anti-Semitic editorials in the PA-controlled Palestinian press, including Blood Libel (claims that the boy was murdered for use in Jewish religious ritual).

Response of World Leaders: Immediate strong commendation.

Response of the Israeli Leadership: Swift action to try to locate the perpetrators and strong condemnation of the murder. Public statements from political leaders across the spectrum condemning violence or calls for revenge.

Response of the Israeli People: Strong condemnation of the murder. and calls to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Public statements from religious leaders (including the Chief Rabbi) condemning violence or calls for revenge.

I'd also like to mention the murder of Omaima Jaradat

What Happened: A 16 year old Arab Girl was murdered by her uncle for "disgracing family honour".

The Perpetrators: The girl's uncle.

Why was she killed: "Disgracing family honour"

Response of the Palestinian Leadership: No public response - Arabs killing a female family member is not newsworthy.

Response of the Palestinian People: No public response - Arabs killing a female family member is not newsworthy.

Response of World Leaders: No public response - Arabs killing a female family member is not newsworthy.

Response of the Israeli Leadership: Police arrested the murderer, No public response.

Response of the Israeli People: Arabs killing a female family member is not newsworthy.

A Facebook friend of mine said that there is no difference between different types of killing, all mothers grieve the same. It may be true that all mothers grieve (although I'm not sure how mothers respond to an "honor-killing" of their children) - however there is a profound difference between how different cultures respond to grief (hint: massive destruction of public property and attacks against civilians is not supported or encouraged by all cultures).

Lets hope that Muhammad Abu Khdeir's murderer  is quickly brought to justice and we have a quieter week in this little country of ours.