Friday, September 09, 2016

Prime Minister Netanyahu on the Palestinian Leadership's Call for Ethnic Cleansing of Jews


On his Facebook page, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes the following statement about the stated desire of the Palestinian leadership to create a "Yuden-Frei" [Jew free, in the parlance of the Third Reich] Palestinian State.  He questions the legitimacy of those who describe settlements in Judea and Samaria, the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people, as "obstacles to peace,"  when in Israel millions of Palestinian Arabs live peacefully with a Jewish majority.  Which is the apartheid state?  Here is the transcript of Bibi's video, but one is well advised to watch the short presentation in its entirety:

I'm sure many of you have heard the claim that Jewish communities in Judea Samaria, the West Bank, are an obstacle to peace.

I've always been perplexed by this notion.
Because no one would seriously claim that the nearly two million Arabs living inside Israel – that they're an obstacle to peace. That's because they aren't. On the contrary.
Israel's diversity shows its openness and readiness for peace. Yet the Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one pre-condition: No Jews.
There's a phrase for that: It's called ethnic cleansing.
And this demand is outrageous.
It's even more outrageous that the world doesn't find this outrageous. Some otherwise enlightened countries even promote this outrage.
Ask yourself this: Would you accept ethnic cleansing in your state? A territory without Jews, without Hispanics, without blacks?
Since when is bigotry a foundation for peace?
At this moment, Jewish schoolchildren in Judea Samaria are playing in sandboxes with their friends.
Does their presence make peace impossible?
I don’t think so.
I think what makes peace impossible is intolerance of others. Societies that respect all people are the ones that pursue peace. Societies that demand ethnic cleansing don't pursue peace.
I envision a Middle East where young Arabs and young Jews learn together, work together, live together side by side in peace.
Our region needs more tolerance, not less.
So the next time you hear someone say Jews can't live somewhere, let alone in their ancestral homeland, take a moment to think of the implications.
Ethnic cleansing for peace is absurd.
It's about time somebody said it.
I just did.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

We Mourn the Death of Rabbi Eliyahu Yosef She'ar Yashuv Z"L

Boruch Dayan HaEmet.  Blessed be the True Judge.  We mourn the death of Rabbi Eliyahu Yosef She'ar Yashuv, at the age of 89. Here is a link to the Jerusalem Post obituary.  He was the Chief Rabbi of Haifa from 1975 until 2011. However, to me, the most interesting era of his life was 1948-49, when he fought with the Irgun.  Wounded in the battle for the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, which was besieged by the Jordanian Arab Legion and Palestinian militias, he and his fellow defenders surrendered when the Old City fell, and he became a prisoner of war in Jordan at the age of 20.  He was put in charge of the religious needs of his fellow 600 prisoners. As related by Rabbi She'ar Yashuv to Jerusalem Post columnist Liat Collins, one of his fellow prisoners, Yosef Blustein, was impressed with how he handled the diverse population of prisoners, who ranged from the secular to the ultra-Orthodox.  When Blustein later became Deputy Mayor of Haifa, he recommended Rabbi She'ar Yashuv for the post of Chief Rabbi of Haifa.   “If I hadn’t been a prisoner of war, I wouldn’t have become a chief rabbi,” he said of his experience.

The name "She'ar Yeshuv" means "a remnant will return." In the Book of Isaiah, it is the name of the son of the prophet, and symbolizes the hope for the return of the Jewish people to their land after their long exile.  Rabbi She'ar Yeshuv's life symbolized the miracle of the return from exile that we have merited to witness in our lifetime.  May his memory be for a blessing. May he be a righteous advocate for the People of Israel before the Holy One, Blessed be He. 

Israeli Archaeologists Restore Floor Tiles from the Second Beit HaMikdash (Temple)

A fascinating story appears in today's Jerusalem Post: Israeli archaeologists have recovered fragments of floor tiles from the Beit HaMikdash Sheni, the Second Temple, rescued from the truckloads of excavation rubble dumped during illegal construction projects by the Islamic Waqf, which exercises control over the Temple Mount.  In the course of expanding Al Aqsa Mosque, the Waqf has ignored Israeli law and has destroyed findings of great archaeological and historical importance from all eras of Jerusalem's history, but particularly the Second Temple era.  Indeed the Waqf, like the Palestinian Authority, deny that the Second Temple ever existed.  But truth rises out of the earth. Now, using patterns found in the floor tiles of palaces and other structures built by King Herod the Great, who expanded and renovated the Temple, and also contemporary Roman buildings, the archaeologists believe that they have restored tiles as they originally appeared in the Temple.  For Jews, these are the floors on which our great sages, such as Rabbi  Yochanan ben Zakai and Rabbi Hillel walked.  For my Christian friends, yes, Jesus would have walked on these tiles when he visited the Temple.

Restoration of floor tiles is a start.  May we merit witnessing the restoration of the entire Beit HaMikdash, soon and in our time.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hallel Yaffa Ariel, may her memory be a blessing, murdered in her sleep. Palestinian Authority calls her killer a hero.


Hallel Yaffa Ariel, may her memory be for a blessing, was a happy, beautiful, talented 13-year old girl. This picture shows her with mother, siblings and, I believe, her grandfather.

A Palestinian teenager entered her bedroom window in Kiryat Arba early this morning and murdered her in her sleep. He escaped from the apartment, but a security patrol encountered him on a nearby road. When they tried to apprehend them, he reportedly attacked and stabbed a guard before he was shot and killed. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is extolling him as a hero. As recounted in The Tower

Fatah’s official Facebook page promptly posted a picture of Tarayrah and declared him a martyr, which the nonprofit group Palestinian Media Watch described as “the highest honor achievable in Islam according to the Palestinian Authority.” WAFA, the PA’s official news agency, also called Tarayrah a martyr. This designation means that under Palestinian law, Tarayrah’s family is now eligible for monthly stipends from the PA, Palestinian Media Watch explained.

Tarayrah’s mother praised her son while speaking to a news outlet in Hebron after the attack, saying: “My son is a hero. He made me proud. My son died as a Martyr defending Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, he [my son] has joined the Martyrs before him, and he is not better than them. Allah willing, all of them will follow this path, all the youth of Palestine. Allah be praised

Will someone explain to me why Facebook permits Fatah to have a Facebook page, on which the cold-blooded murderer of a 13-year old girl is praised?

As noted on the Stand With Us Facebook page, just days ago an aide to Palestinian Authority President and Fatah head Mahmoud Abbas, may his name be erased, gave a speech (in Arabic of course) in which he urged Palestinians, "Wherever you meet an Israeli, cut his throat." This same Abbas received a standing ovation from the European Authority Parliament, for a speech in which he accused Israeli rabbis of calling for the poisoning of Palestinian wells. The charge was so wild and unsubstantiated that even the PA had to retract it, after bad publicity in the New York Times. But Abbas can publicly call for the murder of innocent Israelis, and he is listened to and obeyed.

Hallel was the cousin of my dear friend Mel Aranoff. Please visit Mel's Facebook page for more information about Hallel and, to separate the holy from the profane and the pure from the impure, her murderer.

When Israel left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, all of the surrounding nations were afraid, because God so obviously had intervened in nature to protect Israel from the Egyptian army, who were drowned in the Red Sea. One nation, Amalek, dared to attack the stragglers in the camp of Israel as it traveled toward Mount Sinai. According to tradition, they captured a maid servant. The people of Israel counter-attacked Amalek and inflicted may casualties. God announces that it is an eternal commandment to the Jewish people to wipe out Amalek and erase its memory. Why? Our Sages compared the event to a cauldron of boiling water, of which the surrounding people are frightened. One person jumps in. He is burned, but he cools off the water a bid so that others follow. After the 10 plagues, the splitting of the Red Sea and the drowning of Pharaoh's army, all of the nations of the worlds were in awe of God and Israel, except for Amalek. Amalek so hatted God and the Jewish people that it was willing to risk destruction in order to attack Israel. Amalek was burned, but its attempt encouraged other enemies of God and the Jewish people to follow its path. The PA, Fatah, Hamas, ISIS, Hezbollah, the Iranian mullahs: they are the Amalek of our time.

Since the murderer of Hallel has already been killed, it may seem superfluous to say, “May HaShem avenge her blood,” but the actual killer was just the messenger of Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinian Authority, and and all those who give them political, moral and financial support. So I do say, “May HaShem avenge her blood and those of all of his holy people who have fallen victim to these enemies of God and humanity.” The fact that they do so in the name of God and human rights only makes their actions a greater chillul HaShem, a profanation of God's name, which, please God, also should soon be erased along with the name of Amalek.

The word "Hallel" is Hebrew for "Praise." May the name and memory of Hallel Yaffa Ariel be a blessing to her family and Am Yisrael. May her family be comforted among the mourners for Zion and Jerusalem. In her merit, may we all witness the final destruction of Amalek, when Hashem redeems Israel and rebuilds the Holy Temple, through his servant Mashiach, speedily and in our day.

Friday, April 15, 2016

My Beloved Called Out--a Seder Dvar Torah for Pesach 5776


“My beloved called out and said to me, ‘Arise my love, my fair one, and come away. For see, the winter has passed, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have appeared in the land, the time for song has come, and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land.’”
--Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs), 2:10-12

“All of the Writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the holy of holies.”
--Rabbi Akiva

We associate Pesach (Passover) with the Song of Songs. Indeed, we have a tradition that Rabbi Akiva, who called the Song of Songs the holy of holies, was the Baal Ha-Hagaddah, the author of the Hagaddah, the text that guides the Pesach seder. Many have the custom of reading Shir HaShirim on the night of Pesach, after the seder. Ashkenazic communities read Shir HaShirim publicly on Shabbat Choel Moed Pesach (the Sabbath that falls during the intermediate days of the Passover festival). What is behind this strong association?

A parable, based on a drash I once heard from Rabbi Aaron Abend of Chabad of North Hollywood:

Once there was a young couple, whom we will call Shlomo and Yisraela. Just before they became engaged, Shlomo told Yisraela, “If you want to marry me, you will need to follow me out to the desert, where I live. It’s a real wilderness out there. Let’s have you visit the place, and take seven weeks to learn what life is like there and what I will expect from you when we are married.”

Yisraela was so in love she would have followed Shlomo anywhere. So she agreed, and on the eve of their engagement, she tried to make a special dinner for Shlomo, a roasted lamb, just the way he liked it, and her first attempt at baking bread. Well, she burned the roast, and the bread did not rise, and to tell the truth, it was a little burnt also.  But they were in love, so they laughed it off. Yisraela even saved a bone from the roast and a piece of the burnt flat bread as mementos.

Yisraela followed Shlomo out to the desert, the seven weeks passed, and they were married. Shlomo and Yisraela even built a beautiful home where they would dwell together.

However, as the years passed, Yisraela’s devotion to Shlomo waned. She flirted with some other guys. Shlomo moved out, and one night, after he saw her with another guy, he burned the house down.

So Yisraela and Shlomo lived apart, but Shlomo did not seek a divorce, and, indeed, was always there when Yisraela stumbled to help her get back on her feet. Every year, on the anniversary of their engagement dinner, Yisraela would again make dinner for Shlomo.  She would bring out the burnt bone and burnt flat bread from her memento box, and she would say to Shlomo, “You see Shlomo! Do you remember how crazy in love we were?  How when I was your young bride, and made our engagement dinner, I burned the roast and the bread, but we laughed about it?  How I followed you out to the desert? I still love you that way! Please take me back!”

And Shlomo would reply, “Yisraela, when I know that you really mean what you say, and I will someday soon, then I will take you back, I will rebuild the house, we will live together again, and we will love one another even more than before.”

That is why we read Shir HaShirim on Pesach. That is why we put the matzoh and the roasted shank bone on the seder plate, along with the bitter herbs and tears of our long estrangement from HaShem. That is also why Shlomo haMelech (King Solomon, who is not the Shlomo in our parable) wrote Shir HaShirim in romantic, actually erotic language. At the time of yetziat Mitzraim (the Exodus from Egypt) and matan Torah (the giving of the Torah), we were like new lovers. HaShem (literally, "the name," the appellation that religious Jews use for God in conversation other than prayer) has never stopped loving Am Yisrael (the Jewish people) like a loving, faithful husband loves the bride of his youth, even if she goes astray. The alienation is our own fault; it is we who drifted away. We need to use Pesach and the Sederim (the seder meals) to recapture the feeling of love for HaShem that we felt when we went out from Mitzraim (Egypt), the way new lovers feel for one another. We need to tell HaShem that we once again feel the love of HaShem the way we did then, and that we know that HaShem has always loved us that way. Then our Beloved will surely take us back, and we will merit to see the coming of Mashiach (the Messiah), the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash (the Temple in Jerusalem), and our final redemption, bimheirah vyamenu (soon and in our days).

“Go and proclaim in the ears of Yerushalayim [Jerusalem], saying, “So said HaShem, I remember for your sake the kindness of your youth, the love of your bridal days, how you followed Me in the wilderness, in an unsown land.”--Yirmeyahu [Jeremiah] 2:2

“And she shall run after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them, and she shall seek them, but she shall not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better for me than now.’
Therefore ,behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And I will give her vineyards from there, and the valley of troubling for a door of hope; and she will respond there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of Egypt.”
–Hoshea 2:9, 16-17.

Monday, March 28, 2016

And More Good News: Obama and Kerry Demand Amnesty for FARC Terrorists and Drug Lords

The Obama Administration is once again taking the lead in fighting terrorism and the worldwide narcotics trade [sarcasm alert]. In a column in today's Wall Street Journal, Mary Anastasia O'Grady describes how Secretary of State John Kerry met with the leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) in Cuba, and how the State Department and the Obama Administration are  pressuring the Colombian government to accept a settlement with FARC under which FARC leaders would receive a full amnesty for prosecuting a civil war in which some 225,000 Colombians have died. Polls indicate that 90% of Colombians oppose amnesty for the FARC leadership, but that is of little concern to the Obama Administration, which is following the dictates of the Castro regime in Cuba, as part of the "reset" of Cuban-United States relations. [Warning: A WSJ subscription is needed to access the full column.]

Executions Double under Iranian Moderate Regime

Remember the bad old days when Iran's President was the radical and publicly nasty Mahmoud Ahmenidijad?

Now of course Iran's President is the moderate, smiling Hassan Rhouhani:

The only problem is that, as reported today in a column in the Huffington Post by Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, President of the International American Council on the Middle East, based on United Nations data, in 2015, Iran executed nearly twice as many people than in 2010, under mean old Mr. Ahmenidijad, and roughly ten times as many people as in 2005.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bernard-Henri Lévy: This is War. Identify the Enemy

Bernard-Henri Lévy is a French author, philosopher and activist. His next book, to be released in 2016, is Le Génie du Judaïsme. (François BOUCHON)Bernard-Henri Levy, the French intellectual, philosopher and political writer, hardly a "poser," to use President Obama's label for those who would urge him to re-evaluate his Syria policy. Levy thoroughly demolishes President Obama's stance, and, without mentioning them by name, the refusal of the Democratic Presidential candidates to identify the enemy as Islamic extremists. His column was column published online in the Globe and Mail, and republished in edited form in The Weekly Standard online. Here is his conclusion:

This was the situation two decades ago in Sarajevo, when putative experts raised the spectre of the hundreds of thousands of ground troops that would have to be deployed to prevent ethnic cleansing from reaching its grisly apogee. Yet it turned out that a handful of special forces, backed by strikes, was sufficient. I am convinced that the IS hordes are much braver when blowing the heads off defenceless young Parisians than when facing real soldiers of freedom. Similarly, I believe that the international community possesses all of the means necessary to defeat the threat it faces, should it choose to do so.
What holds us back? Why have we been so stinting in assisting our Kurdish allies?
What is it about this war that the America of Barack Obama, at least for the moment, seems not to really want to win? I do not know the answer. But I know where the key lies.
And I know the alternative to using the key: No boots on their ground means more blood on ours.

Monday, November 16, 2015

If I were a College President, here is what I would say about Student Demands for Safe Places

If I were a college president or dean, I would say the following to current and prospective students:

"If you come to this college, you will be physically safe, but we plan to make you feel intellectually unsafe, disturbed and uncomfortable. We will try to force you to question or defend your most deeply held beliefs and assumptions. That is our responsibility to you. If that is not the education you are seeking, please go to college elsewhere."

Friday, October 23, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today I am 64, praise God. And I don't feel a day over 75. Last night, after midnight, when my birthday arrived, I played the Beatles' "When I'm 64" for me and Mrs. Kosher Hedghog several times. The chorus, you will recall, goes, "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?" Happily for me, the answer appears to be "Yes."

An old friend from Phoenix left me a voice mail wishing me a Happy Birthday, but expressing regret at my long silence on these pages. So here's one for you, you know who you are:

My hometown paper, the Los Angeles Times, says that Madame Secretary's Congressional hearing and testimony yesterday revealed nothing new. I suppose that in the larger sense the Times is correct. We already knew that she lied about the Benghazi attack and had corruptly used the influence of her office to accumulate a fortune through the Clinton Foundation, which employs her family members and friends at incredible salaries.

She is famous for her declaration, "What does it mater?", in her previous Congressional testimony. Indeed, given what we knew about Secretary Clinton already, what does it matter that the hearings disclosed for the first time that she told Chelsea, the President of Libya and the Prime Minister of Egypt on the night and day following the attack that it was not caused by a video, was pre-planned, and was perpetrated by an Al Qaeda-like organization (actually identifying the organization that committed the attack). What does it matter that all the while she, President Obama and the State Department publicly insisted that the attack was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video? What does it matter that the U.S. government actually arrested the maker of the video, using the power of the Department of Justice to preserve the false story? What does it matter that the Democrats pretend this had nothing to do with the fact that the President was running for re-election on the platform that "Bin Laden is dead, and Al Qaeda is on the run," that he knew only the first half of the slogan was true, and desperately wanted to keep the public from realizing that until after his re-election? What does it matter?

By the way, anyone whose sole news source is the Los Angeles Time would not know about the disclosures first revealed in the hearing, which I italicized above. The Times did not mention any of them in its reporting about the hearings. They do not support the Times' agenda.

Our Administration also warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week to avoid incitement, after his historically inaccurate accusation that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem had first persuaded Hitler to murder European Jewry, rather than expel them. The mass murder of European Jewry unquestionably began with the German invasion of Poland in 1939, and accelerated with the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Both events preceded Hitler's first meetings with the Grand Mufti. That having been said, it is unquestionable that the Mufti actively encouraged, aided, and abetted the Holocaust. He even took an active role in recruiting an SS battalion composed of Bosnian Muslims, one of whose primary missions was the murder of Jews. So Bibi was mostly guilty of exaggeration. The protest by Saeed Erekat, a Palestinian Authority official, that the Palestinians fought side-by-side with the Allies during World War II, against Nazi Germany, is laughable.

So the Administration went public with its scolding of the Prime Minister of Israel, after having remained silent when Palestinian Authority President Abbas repeatedly denied any Jewish ties to the Temple Mount, openly called for violence and said that Jews must keep their "filthy feet" off the Temple Mount. The Palestinian Authority also in the past week had its allies propose a UNESCO resolution that would have recognized "Barak Plaza" [the Western Wall and its plaza, which the resolution renamed after Mohammed's horse] as an integral part of the Al Aqsa Mosque complex. The effect would have been to deny a Jewish connection to a Jewish place of worship for nearly 2000 years, since the destruction of the Second Temple (excluding the years from 1948 until 1967, when Jordan prohibited Jewish worship at the Western Wall). The plaza itself, west of the Western Wall, was constructed by Israel (not the Muslim Waqf), after the capture of the Old City in June 1967. While that UNESCO resolution was defeated, the cost was approval of a resolution condemning Israel (who else) and declaring that the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem are exclusively Moslem shrines. Who knew? As always, the United Nations lives in an alternative, Bizarro universe.

At the risk of sounding bitter on my birthday, the reason I post here less often is that all the trends that I have decried in my past posts merely seem to be repeating themselves, except that the world seems to have reconciled itself to those evils and barely registers a whimper of protest. So Palestinians attack Jewish men, women and children with knives, and the world decries the shooting of the attackers.

For all that, I cannot say that I am bitter. To the contrary, I am filled with joy to be alive, and grateful beyond words for uncountable blessings that God has bestowed upon me throughout my life. Blessed are you, the Lord, our God, who has kept me alive, preserved my existence, and has brought me to this season.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Obama Administration Releases Classified Report on Israel's Nuclear Program

  Investor's Business Daily reports that the Defense Department has quietly and deliberately declassified and released a top-secret 1987 report on Israel's nuclear program.  IBD editorializes:
The same administration that refused to divulge what's in its soon-to-be-concluded nuclear "deal" with Iran, last month stealthily released a top-secret 1987 report on Israel's nuclear program — information that might be used by Israel's enemies.

IBD quotes from the reporter who initially broke the story, Michael Karpin in The Jewish Daily Forward online. Karpin writes:
I have some knowledge about the build-up process of Israel’s nuclear capacity and after reading the report in question I must express my astonishment: I have never seen an official American document disclosing such extensive revelation on subjects that until now were regarded by both administrations as unspeakable secrets.

Karpin writes that the report's authors "drew particular attention to the development and progression of Israel’s nuclear infrastructure and research labs."

The report was compiled by the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA), under a contract with the U.S. Government. The IDA sent its engineers and physicists not only to Israeli installations, but also to military laboratories, factories and private companies of NATO countries. Curiously, and perhaps sinisterly, the Defense Department only declassified the information assembled by the IDA team on Israel, not on the NATO allies.

The timing and selectivity of the report suggest that once again the Obama Administration is retaliating for Israel's opposition to U.S. negotiations with Iran over the Iranian nuclear weapons program. However, this goes beyond the pale--the deliberate release of previously classified information that certainly has the potential to be used against Israel, both diplomatically and militarily, is an outrageous breach of trust.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Obama Administration Removes Iran, Hezbollah, from List of Terror Threats

Hey, everybody, there's great news. The Obama Administration has defeated terrorism in Iran and Lebanon. We know this because in the 2015 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities, delivered by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to the United States Senate in February, Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah no longer appear as terrorist threats, for the first time in years. (The Times of Israel has the story, along with a link to a PDF file copy of the unclassified version of the intelligence report.)

What felicitous timing for the Obama Administration to announce this glorious victory!  Previously, one might have been concerned that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were enabling Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, which one might hesitate to do if Iran still promoted terrorism and sponsored a terrorist organization such as Hezbollah.  Now, however, there is no danger whatsoever, because Iran and Hezbollah are no longer terrorist threats.

Never mind that just this past January 18, Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found murdered in his home. His murder occurred only one day before he was scheduled to report to the Congress of Argentina on alleged collusion between Iran and the Argentine government in covering up the role of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah in two terrorist bombings of Jewish targets in Buenos Aires: the 1992 car bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, which killed 29 people and wounded more than 250 others; and the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center, which killed 87 people and injured at least 100 more.  One prominent theory is that Iran ordered Nisman's murder, but, hey, Iran would not do that, because it is not a terrorist threat.

Another serendipitous result of the removal of Iran and Hezbollah from the terrorist watch list:  the Obama Administration is increasingly cooperating with Iran and Hezbollah in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  That might give some people--although probably only neocons--pause, if Iran and Hezbollah were still engaged in and promoting terrorism.  But they're not--look, they no longer appear on the list of terrorist threats in the Worldwide Threat Assessment!  Just don't tell that to Sunni Iraqis, who live in abject fear of massacre by the Shiite militias operating under the supervision of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Is Hezbollah still helping Syrian President Bashar Assad commit mass murder of his own citizens?  Sure, but just yesterday Secretary of State Kerry announced that he is willing to negotiate with Assad.  After all, the dude gave up his chemical weapons, and now uses only artillery, armored vehicles, small arms, and barrel bombs to do his bloodletting. Plus, most of his recent victims are fighters in Sunni militias (or civilians who hang out with them), which do appear as terrorist threats in the Worldwide Threat Assessment.  So Iran, Hezbollah and Assad are just doing God's work, so to speak

Does Hezbollah still call for the eradication of Israel, and is it busily stockpiling Iranian missiles along the Lebanese and Syrian borders with Israel, to prepare for carrying out that threat?  Well, sure, but look how friendly Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan appears in the photo above.  He's waving at us, for crying out loud!  In contrast, Israel's Prime Minister, as of today, is still that nasty Netanyahu fellow, of whom President Obama is not very fond.  And if Israelis don't elect a government more to President Obama's liking tomorrow, well, guess what country may make its featured debut in the 2016 Worldwide Threat Assessment.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Why does the Israeli Government Cover Up for the PA, Hamas and Hezbollah?

The link below is to a crow of victory from Israel Behind the News (David Bedein). He has been reporting for two decades, since Oslo, on the military cooperation between Fatah and the PA and Hamas. Now, a respected third party has issued a report that the PA has been arming Hamas.

The fact that successive Israeli governments refused to listen to the allegations does not surprise me. Those governments, both Labor and Likud, had too much invested in the Oslo Accords.

What is surprising and bothering me is a string of revelations that seems to indicate that the Israeli government and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are deliberately keeping the Israeli public in the dark. Other examples:

1. Prior to last summer's Gaza war, the IDF repeatedly said it had no evidence of Hamas tunneling under Israeli kibbutzim and moshavim in the south, although residents kept saying they could hear sounds of digging at night. It turned out that the IDF knew about the tunnels.

2. The same thing is now going on in the north, along the Syrian and Lebanese borders. People hear sounds of shovels through their water pipes at night. The IDF denies that Hezbollah is tunneling into Israel, and comes up with all sorts of explanations for the sounds.

A plausible explanation for the apparent IDF coverup reminds me somewhat of the XYZ scandal during the John Adams Presidency, when President Adams kept secret a letter from Talleyrand, who as a pre-condition to negotiating a treaty between the U.S. and France, then under the rule of the revolutionary Directory had demanded a personal bribe of $50,000 and the assumption by the United States of all American claims against France. Had the letter become public, it would have resulted in irresistable pressure for an immediate declaration of war, a war for which Adams correctly felt the United States was not yet prepared militarily or financially. The Federalists, the party to which Adams nominally belonged, but which Alexander Hamilton actually led, wanted a war with France. The Republicans of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who virulently opposed and libeled Adams, were pro-France and supporters of the French Revolution and the Directory. Adams initially kept the letter from Tallyrand secret, but only informed Congress that his peace mission to France had failed and urged strong defense measures, including strengthening the U.S. Navy. Eventually, when Republicans in Congress accused him of war mongering and demanded to see the diplomatic dispatches. Adams released them to Congress, substituting the letters W, X, Y and Z for the names of the French agents who had delivered Tallyrand's demand. The resulting scandal, known as the XYZ Affair, temporarily increased Adam's popularity and greatly damaged Jefferson and Madison's popularity. However, Adams continued to counsel patience and resist Federalist demands for war. That cost him a second term, and the Federalists turned against him and the Republicans continued to vilify him.

Is Prime Minister Netanyahu trying to delay what would be a costly war with Hamas and Hezbollah, and perhaps Iran, with a high prospect of civilian casualties and property loss, either
until Israel is better prepared to deal with it, or until after the elections? If it is the former reason, the Prime Minister is cut from the cloth as John Adams. If it is the latter, not so much.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

What was an Iranian General Doing on the Golan Heights?

An Israeli airstrike directed at Hezbollah vehicles in the Golan Heights of Syria ends up taking out an Iranian general of the Revolutionary Guard.  What was he doing there?
COMMENTARY has the answer--the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah were scouting out possible locations for ballistic missile launching sites outside of Lebanon, from which Iran and Hezbollah could rain death and destruction down on Israel.  This is the regime with which our President seeks engagement, while the Obama Administration continues its pivot away from Israel and Sunni Arab states, and toward Iran.

Why does Iran back the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen in their largely successful attempt to take over that country?  Iranian missiles supplied to a Houthi regime would threaten Israeli shipping from its Red Sea port of Eilat, which must pass through the narrow passage leading from the Red Sea to the Sea of Aden.  Of course those same missiles would also threaten the shipping of Sunni Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and indeed might block world shipping to and from the Mediterranean Sea, passing through the Suez Canal. Major wars have erupted for far less, including the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War, which was triggered by Egypt's blockade of the Straits of Hormuz, which also threatened Israeli shipping from Eilat.

The United States will probably do nothing to counteract the Iranian threat in Yemen.  Like sanctions, opposition to Iran's initiative in Yemen might offend the mullahs.  As for Iran's active role in Syria, why it's an ally against ISIS.

Ironically, when President Obama announced the initiation of the bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, he cited Yemen as an example of his foreign policy successes.  A few more such successes, and we may be worrying about Iranian missiles in Venezuela.   

Sunday, October 05, 2014

White House Double Standard on Civilian Casualties from Airstrikes

On October 2, as reported by CNN, the White House announced that the rules intended to avoid civilian casualties from drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan will not apply to drone attacks or airstrikes on ISIS in Syria and Iraq.   "The specific standards at issue in the NDU speech apply only when we take direct action 'outside areas of active hostilities,' as was noted at the time," said Caitlin Hayden, the spokeswoman for Obama's National Security Council, referring to Obama's address at the National Defense University in the spring of 2013. "That description—outside areas of active hostilities—simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now."

So what about this past summer, when Israel was unquestionably involved in "active hostilities" with Hamas in Gaza, and received scathing criticism from the Obama Administration for civilian casualties.   Well, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (pictured above gazing congenially at President Obama) stated before the United Nations that Hamas and ISIS represent one and the same threat, United States State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki (pictured below) pointedly disagreed, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.  "Certainly we see differences," she said.  "We would not agree with that characterization. Obviously, we’ve designated both as terrorist organizations, but ISIL [Islamic State] poses a different threat to Western interests and to the United States, and that’s just a fact.”

Let's examine that proposition.  In terms of whether Israel's use of airstrikes in Gaza produced unjustified civilian casualties, in contrast with civilian casualties caused by U.S. drone strikes and airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, certainly the criteria for judging the Israeli policy must be the threat Hamas posed to Israel, as compared to the threat that ISIS poses to the United States.  In that regard, there are certainly telling distinctions that make ISIS a "different threat" from Hamas, but they all tend to refute Ms. Psaki's remarks and substantiate the legitimacy of  Israel's actions.

  1.   ISIS has not staged an attack on the U.S. homeland.  Hamas has attacked Israel thousands of times, including bombings of buses, restaurants and other civilian targets, armed raids, kidnappings, rockets and artillery attacks.
  2.   To date, thank God, ISIS has only taken two American lives.  Hamas terrorism has killed hundreds of Israelis and injured thousands more.  Were it not for the Iron Shield anti-missile system and the robust military response by the Israel Defense Forces, the toll of Israeli lives from Hamas attacks would be many times higher.
  3.   Hamas, as stated in its founding covenant and constantly repeated by its leadership, wants nothing less than the destruction of the State of Israel and the extermination of the Jewish people.  ISIS would like to destroy American democracy and see America ruled by Sharia law, but has never expressed a desire to kill all Americans.
  4. When Israel launched attacks in Gaza, it would first drop warning leaflets, make telephone calls, and broadcast radio announcements, notifying civilians of the impending attack and urging them to leave the area.  Neither the United States, nor any country in the history of warfare, has gone to the lengths taken by the Israel Defense Forces to reduce civilian casualties.
So, yes, Ms. Psaki, Hamas poses a very different threat from ISIS, just not in the way you intended.

USEFUL IDIOT DEPARTMENT: Anthony Bourdain visits Iran

So it seems that Anthony Bourdain, after many failed efforts, finally visited Tehran, Iran, and he reports that it was "one of the most friendly, pro-American environments that we have ever shot in," and said, "The Iran that we know and deal with on a national level is so different from what it is like to walk around Tehran once you are inside the country."

Of course, there is the little matter of the couple who invited him to their home for dinner, Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who were both taken into custody by the Iranian regime shortly after the dinner.

The incredibly obtuse Bourdain comments, “They have not been heard from since and there’s been no concrete explanation of why, what possible reason they could have been detained. They were lovely people who were very proud of their Iranian roots and spoke glowingly of the country—and if anything were voices for understanding.”

What possible reason? Well, how about that they invited you to be their dinner guest for the benefit of American television, or that Mr. Rezaian reported for the Washington Post. Under the rule of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, Mr. Bourdain, that is reason enough, and in any event no reason is needed, for enemies of the regime to disappear.

Yes, Tehran is a friendly, pro-American country where one's dinner hosts can be arrested and disappear without a trace.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Where is the Book of Life? A True Story

Today is the eve of Rosh Hashonah, the Jewish New Year, and we stand 10 days away from Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On Rosh Hashonah all humanity and every living thing passes before God for judgment. On Rosh Hashonah, the judgment is written, and on Yom Kippur, it is sealed. We fervently pray to be written and sealed in the Book of Life.

I want to retell an incident, which occurred at this season four years story, at my synagogue, Shaarey Zedek Congregation, just before the Kol Nidre prayer that initiates Yom Kippur. An elderly man came into the sanctuary. He had a Russian accent and in broken English he began asking people, "Where is Book of Life? I want to write my family in Book of Life." I tried to explain to him that God has the Book of Life and that we pray to God to write our names in it, but he responded, "No understand. Ruski. Where is the Book of Life?"

We have some Russian speakers at Shaarey Zedek, including Irine, the wife of our then President. So I went looking for Irine, and eventually I found her and she went to speak with the elderly man. I do not yet know what she told him or what was the result. Yet for some reason I was left with the vague feeling that I had been presented with a great test and failed it.

In my reflections on the incident throughout Yom Kippur, however, two positive thoughts emerged. First was an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God that I was born and raised in the United States of America, and not under a tyranny that did its utmost to suppress all religious practice and education, especially of Judaism, for some 70 years. The second was a feeling of awe that a man who had lived under the Soviet system for most of his life, and had been so thoroughly deprived of his Torah heritage, still had enough of a connection to God, Torah and Judaism to know that there is a Book of Life, that he wanted his family to be inscribed in it, and that the place to look for it was in a synagogue on Yom Kippur.

While, as I said, I do not yet know about his conversation with Irine, I do believe that the old Russian Jew succeeded in having his family inscribed in the Book of Life. May God find my merits to be even a small fraction of those of that man.

May all of you be written and sealed in the Book of Life for a year of great blessings, of faith in God, awe of heaven, health, happiness, prosperity and peace.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Hamas in its Own Words

In The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg says that it is not hard to understand what Hamas would do to Israel and the Jewish people if given the chance.  Its charter and its spokespersons have informed us clearly and unequivocally of Hamas' program--the murder of all Jews in the world. He demonstrates how important provisions of the Hamas covenant "could have been taken, almost word for word, from Nazi Germany’s anti-Jewish propaganda texts and broadcasts."

Mr. Goldberg quotes a recent column on Hamas by Sam Harris:

What do we know of the Palestinians? What would the Palestinians do to the Jews in Israel if the power imbalance were reversed? Well, they have told us what they would do. For some reason, Israel’s critics just don’t want to believe the worst about a group like Hamas, even when it declares the worst of itself. We’ve already had a Holocaust and several other genocides in the 20th century. People are capable of committing genocide. When they tell us they intend to commit genocide, we should listen. There is every reason to believe that the Palestinians would kill all the Jews in Israel if they could. Would every Palestinian support genocide? Of course not. But vast numbers of them—and of Muslims throughout the world—would. Needless to say, the Palestinians in general, not just Hamas, have a history of targeting innocent noncombatants in the most shocking ways possible. They’ve blown themselves up on buses and in restaurants. They’ve massacred teenagers. They’ve murdered Olympic athletes. They now shoot rockets indiscriminately into civilian areas.

[Emphasis added.]

So why do so many Americans, especially those on the "progressive" left, publicly express their support for an overtly fascistic and genocidal organizational. In many cases, Charles Krauthammer argues, it is rank ignorance. Into that category I would throw the recent tweets and statements of many celebrities, such as Selena Gomez and Spaniards Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. What we have on display is an abysmal ignorance of recent history, coupled with understandable repulsion in reaction to the horrors of war, any war, including just wars. The dead of Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Hamburg and Berlin were no easier to look at than those of Gaza, and included many more women, children, civilians and, yes, even opponents of the regimes that had led Japan and Germany into wars of aggression. Nearly absolute pacifism is the prevailing fashion among the stars of cinema, television, music and the performing arts. Superficial thinking understandably produces superficial opinions.

Mr. Krauthammer is much tougher on the Europeans who flock to anti-Israel demonstrations, now all too frequently turning into anti-Jewish riots. Mr. Krauthammer believes that the European demonstrators are motivated by deep-seated, 2000-year old Christian and Islamic Antisemitism. Certainly Roger Waters of Pink Floyd seems to exemplify traditional British Antisemitism, now placed in the service of Islamo-fascism.

What of the anti-Israel demonstrators of the American progressive left? Mr. Goldberg opines that it is "a dereliction of responsibility on the part of progressives not to try to understand the goals and beliefs of Islamist totalitarian movements."

But is he being too charitable? Are those demonstrators truly ignorant of Hamas' ideology? Do they truly not understand, in the words of the title of Mr. Goldberg's article, what Hamas would do if it could do whatever it wanted? Or does the prospect of a genocide against the Jews not really bother them very much?

The militias of the Islamic State, whose ideology is the twin of Hamas, are at this moment committing mass murder and oppression in Iraq, Syria and perhaps soon in Lebanon, against Christians and any other Muslims who do not meet their test of Sunni theological purity. Scarcely a word rises in protest, not from most of Christendom or the West, not from the White House, and certainly not from Hollywood, Broadway or the pop music industry that is so critical of Israel. Will the West wake in time to save itself?

Friday, August 01, 2014

Recent Gems from Dry Bones

Good news, readers of The Hedgehog Blog, if any are left.  I have recovered or maybe rediscovered the ability to post photos and images.  We celebrate by catching up with Yaakov Kirschen at The Dry Bones Blog, which everyone should visit frequently.  Here are three of his latest:

UN Says Israel's Refusal to Share Iron Dome with Hamas is Human Rights Violation

How fair a hearing is Israel likely to receive from the United Nations Human Rights Commission on charges of war crimes? Judge for yourself:  Israel National News reports that on Thursday, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay (photo right) cited as evidence of Israeli war crimes the fact that Israel has refused to share Iron Dome with the "governing authority of Gaza," which is Hamas. She also criticized the United States for helping develop Iron Dome, stating, "No such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling.”

So it is not enough that for the first time in the history of warfare, a besieger has provided the besieged party with food, water, (free) electricity, natural gas, medicine, medical treatment in the besieger's hospitals, cement and rebar that the besieged party uses to build attack tunnels and advanced warnings of attacks. Now Israel is also expected to provide a defense system against its own attacks.

Would it be too much to also demand that Hamas stop the indiscriminate rocketing and shelling of Israel and attempts to kill and kidnap its citizens? Probably.