Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A question of interpretation, or a reluctance to face the truth?


I am going to drift from my "normal" protocol on this blog and introduce an ethical problem I was faced with over the past few days. In fact, it consumed so much of my time, I didn't post my usual percentage of stories.

On Monday morning, a friend of mine mentioned that the child of a prominent rabbi had made several startling announcements during a public appearance at a well-known shul in NYC. Among those startling announcements was that this child had "found G-d" at a church. My friend said that several people walked out of the event, and many complained.

I was shocked, and asked for more information about this situation. Soon, my friend sent a letter carefully detailing the events, including pictures, but specified that he/she must remain anonymous in order to prevent being ostracized by his/her community. My friend had sent the information hoping it would get out, as he/she didn't want anyone to be harmed by this prominent person's antics.

Thinking that such a shocking event would cause a stir, I tried searching the Internet for any mention of the situation, and then, unable to locate any mention of it, sent the information I had to a few close contacts in the Jewish News world, along with the pictures, which seemed to corroborate the event. I asked my media contacs if they had heard anything about the situation and if they could find some witnesses to the event.

At first, those contacts seemed enthusiastic, but then, as time wore on, they seemed to turn their back on the inquiry. One sent a letter to me from the friend of this rabbi's child suggesting that the detailed events may have never occurred and the whole thing must have been a misunderstanding (although the person writing the letter had not attended the event).

So, here I sit writing about the event in the vaguest of terms myself, torn between the prominence of the accused person, the respect I hold for those in the Jewish Media who decided not to carry the story, the careful details of the accuser (along with pictures), and the importance of letting this information out if, in fact, it is true.

And, as I experienced this, I realized how so many significant issues in the Jewish community are similarly treated. Some of those issues of much greater seriousness than this--like the abuse of children. Many people are aware of something happening, but because they are afraid of community pressure either don't report something, or report it anonymously. Then the accused is never confronted by the news media or (if applicable) the legal authorities because there are no corroborating witnesses. Often, if the accused is actually guilty, the accused becomes empowered by the lack of censure, and they continue or, G-d forbid, increase their activities.

I, for one, was quite convinced by the detailed account I received about the incident, and I believe other's were too. However, for lack of people stepping forward to take responsibility and speak out about this incident, no one can report upon it.

I pray that this "alleged" incident never happened, but, if it did, I am hoping people will step forward--not just that one person who can be hurt for their concern and courage in writing up the details, but many who could, even anonymously, corroborate his/her words. After all, silence is often much more dangerous to the community than speaking out, and if the majority isn't willing to step forward, we may all be victims sooner than later.

Swap between JNF and ILA will allow for Division of Jerusalem


This is the way for the JNF to get out of the sticky situation of letting thousands of Arabs live on JNF land in East Jerusalem that was paid for by Jews for Jewish Settlement.

The JNF intends to swap it with the ILA in order to give the Israeli government possession of that land. Look closely at how this story is written--JNF will swap "developed" land for "empty space" in a 1-to-1 transfer. It doesn't pass the "smell test."

Everyone knows that developed land is much more valuable than "empty space"--and a 1-to-1 transfer just doesn't make sense. This is an incredible loss of money for the JNF. It appears the only reason for such a swap would be for the Israeli government to have ownership of the JNF properties in East Jerusalem, and therefore, the legal right to cede that land to the arabs at Anapolis.

This is a very scary deal. Most people are probably not noticing its significance in the big picture, but I can see clearly what is happening here.

It is a deal that needs to be stopped immediately if we are to prevent the division of Jerusalem.

Land deal would have state, JNF swap 60,000 dunams
Last update - 06:45 30/10/2007
By Shahar Ilan

An emerging land swap agreement between the Israel Lands Administration and the Jewish National Fund is likely to encompass 60,000 dunams from each side: The JNF will transfer 60,000 dunams of developed land to the ILA in exchange for 60,000 dunams of open space.

The deal is designed to render redundant the controversial JNF bill, which would allow the organization to continue leasing its lands only to Jews.

NF Chair Effi Stenzler told Haaretz Monday that 90 percent of the land the JNF receives will be in the Negev and 10 percent in the Galilee. The state will also pay an undetermined sum to the JNF, which has asked for NIS 900 million. That is substantially higher than the state's offer.

JNF Deputy Chair Menachem Leibowitz told Haaretz that urban JNF land sold in the future to non-Jews would include an automatic swap mechanism: The fund would transfer the land to the ILA, and in exchange would receive the purchase price plus a similar-sized plot in the Negev.

During a Knesset Economics Committee debate on the JNF bill yesterday, Committee Chair Gilad Erdan several times suggested anchoring the developing swap agreement in legislation. But Leibowitz told the panel that the JNF's management had been authorized by its board to negotiate a land swap with the Finance Ministry and the ILA, and there is no need for legislation.

Erdan also repeatedly asked representatives of human rights groups attending the meeting whether they plan to petition the High Court of Justice against the swap. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel suggested that it foresaw legal problems with the swap.

A Knesset research paper indicates that the JNF paid the state full price for absentee Arab land in the 1950s, in contradiction to claims by Arab parties that the state transferred the lands for symbolic fees. The document also shows that the JNF owns a little over 2.5 million dunams, close to 12 percent of all state lands. The organization bought almost half of that from the state.

Rabbinate threatens to fine rebel rabbis


The next meatball in the food fight between the Rabbinate and the Religious Zionist rabbis who've had enough of the Haredi control of Israel's religious life. This all bled-over from the conversion issue, and it is getting more and more contentious.

Look for the Knesset to get involved in this and establish an alternative to the Rabbinate's Kashrut through legal means. This will be pushed through by those sick and tired of paying too much money for the gentiles vegatables.

Oct 29, 2007 17:24 | Updated Oct 30, 2007 0:39

The Chief Rabbinate's legal adviser warned Monday that Tzohar rabbis would be slapped with fines if they did not desist immediately from providing alternative kashrut supervision.

Tzohar has started to issue its own kosher certification.
Photo: Courtesy

"We will not sit idly while rabbis, no matter how respected they may be, openly break the laws regulating kosher supervision in Israel," said Shimon Ulman, the chief rabbinate's legal advisor, who said he planned to push for fining Tzohar rabbis at this Thursday's meeting of the Chief Rabbinate's governing body.

The Tzohar rabbinic organization, in open rebellion against the Chief Rabbinate, announced Monday it was launching an alternative kosher supervision apparatus to provide services to restaurants, hotels and caterers during the shmita (sabbatical) year.

"We can't allow every Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde to open his own kosher supervision outfit," added Ulman, who said the fines could be as high as NIS 1,500.

Ulman's comments were the latest salvo in an ongoing power struggle between religious Zionists and haredim over control of the Chief Rabbinate's shmita year policy.

Haredim tend to place strict adherence to the letter of law above other, more nationalist Zionist considerations such as strengthening Jewish agriculture or making kosher fruits and vegetables accessible to the general Jewish public.

Meanwhile, religious Zionist rabbis, as supporters of the Zionist enterprise, tend to look for halachic solutions that factor in nationalist considerations. They also oppose the haredi tendency to shift demand for fruits and vegetables from Jewish to Arab farmers. Religious Zionists argue that the increased revenues to Arab farmers in Judea, Samaria and Gaza invariably end up funding Palestinian terrorism.

The rabbinate's Ulman said he would not turn a blind eye to what he termed Tzohar's blatant transgression of the law, even if it meant an escalation in the conflict with the religious Zionist Tzohar rabbis.

However, Oded Weiner, director general of the Chief Rabbinate, was more cautious. He said that according to his understanding, Tzohar rabbis were not violating the Kashrut Fraud Law, which grants the chief rabbinate a monopoly over kosher supervision.

"Technically, they are not offering kashrut supervision, just plain supervision," said Weiner. "True, according to the spirit of the law what they are doing is wrong. But according to the letter of the law they are OK. And nobody gets prosecuted for breaking the spirit of the law."

The names of four prominent religious Zionist rabbis appear on Tzohar's kosher supervision certificates: Rabbis Dov Lior, Ya'acov Ariel, Haim Druckman and Tzfania Drori.

Tzohar went ahead with the launch despite a Supreme Court ruling last week that, if implemented, would make the need for the alternative supervision unnecessary. Tzohar's chairman, Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, explained that until his organization saw the Supreme Court decision implemented it would move forward with the creation of a competing kosher supervision body.

Last week the Supreme Court, in support of the Tzohar rabbis' stand, overturned the Chief Rabbinate's decision to allow local rabbis full autonomy to decide which type of kosher supervision would govern the sale of fruits and vegetables during the shmita year in their respective cities.

Before the Supreme Court intervened, the chief rabbis of Herzliya, Petah Tikva, Hadera and other cities forbade the sale of produce grown by Jewish farmers to restaurants, caterers and hotels under their supervision.

As a result, many food business owners said that they would prefer to operate without kosher supervision than to pay more for fruits and vegetables under haredi supervision. Also, Jewish farmers warned that the fall in demand for their produce would result in a serious blow to their bottom line.

Despite the pleas of the Jewish farmers and the business owners, local rabbis with a haredi orientation refused to recognize a controversial halachic solution called heter mechira (permitted sale,) supported primarily by religious Zionist rabbis, which involves the temporarily sale of Jewish farmland to non-Jews for the duration of the shmita year.

Instead, these haredi rabbis insisted that all produce be grown in land permanently owned by non-Jews, or imported from outside the borders of the Land of Israel.

In Jewish law, the Land of Israel takes on a special sanctity every seventh year. Anything grown in this land also becomes sanctified. According to some halachic opinions, if Jewish land is sold to a non-Jew, even temporarily, that land loses its sanctity.

The Chief Rabbinate actually recognizes heter mechira and even set up a special commission to implement the sale. However, it also supported the rights of individual local rabbis to reject heter mechira.

The Supreme Court, in a rare intervention in an inherently religious issue, forced the Chief Rabbinate to provide heter mechira in cities where the local rabbi refused to do so.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Abbas Fears Hamas Coup d'Etat in Judea and Samaria


I guess Abbas has been advised there aren’t enough guns in the PA stash to take down Israel and force the Jews into the sea.

In order to have some more weapons at his disposal, he is crying “Hamas will get us! Hamas will get us!” so that the US, EU, and Olmert will donate more weapons and more ammunition to him. There is no other reason he would let this information out and risk losing his negotiating strength just before a big “peace” conference.

Please tell me I am not the only one who sees this obvious and over-played melodramatic ploy. Why does everyone pretend it’s real and send him more guns? WHY?

by Hana Levi Julian

(IsraelNN.com) Palestinian Authority Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas says that rival Hamas terrorists are planning to overthrow his government in Ramallah and take over Fatah-controlled Judea and Samaria.

Abbas made the statements Sunday night in an interview with the Jerusalem Post and accused "international parties [of] supporting Hamas in its effort." Abbas aides said the PA Chairman was referring to Iran, Syria and Qatar.

"We have information that Hamas is planning to copy the (June 2007) Gaza coup in the West Bank," Abbas said, adding that he believes the plan will fail. He stated his willingness to resume negotiations with Hamas when the terror faction relaxes its chokehold in Gaza.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denied the charges, accusing Abbas of covering up "crimes" carried out by his "militias" against Hamas supporters in Judea and Samaria. Barhoum also claimed Hamas was "forced to take security measures in the Gaza Strip to stop Abbas's forces from carrying out the Zionist-American plot to overthrow the democratically-elected [Hamas] government."

The PA Chairman also charged Hamas and Israel with holding separate talks, and said Hamas leaders must publicly admit their involvement with Israel. The Olmert administration previously has stated it is against any contact by Hamas with Jerusalem or with the PA.

Hamas won control over the PA government in a landslide victory at the polls in January 2006, and Hamas Chairman Ismail Haniyeh became PA Prime Minister. Abbas remained as PA Chairman. Fierce clashes between the two factions followed the elections and repeated attempts by local and international figures to resolve the differences between the two – including a Saudi-sponsored summit that led to a brief unity government – ultimately failed.

Many donor nations to the PA withdrew their support when Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist organization in the United States and other Western nations, was voted in.

After Hamas took over Gaza and expelled Abbas's forces in June, 2007, Abbas retaliated by dissolving the unity government and installing an emergency government in Judea and Samaria. Abbas won back financial and political bounty from Western nations by declaring that he would keep his distance from Hamas.

Recently there have been whispers that Fatah is negotiating secretly with Hamas to repair its relationship, an allegation denied in a lukewarm statement by Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman, who admitted several Arab and Islamic countries were mediating between the two factions.

12 Arabs Arrested for Damaging Jewish Vineyards


Don’t worry. They will be out tomorrow destroying again. What do they have to fear in a country that releases murderers and terrorists on a regular basis, returning them to cheering crowds throwing candy?

Now, if they can somehow arrest some religious Jews for this, the Jews will spend years in jail and have to pay thousands of NIS each.


(IsraelNN.com) Police and IDF soldiers have arrested 12 Arabs for damaging Jewish vineyards at the Jewish community of Neria in Samaria last Thursday. The arrests are a rare action in Judea and Samaria, where left wing activists often instigate violence and damage and then complain to police that Jews were responsible.

Police have made no arrests in previous uprootings of vineyards by Arabs near Efrat in Gush Etzion and in the southern Hevron Hills despite eyewitness testimony.


**UPDATE 11/09/2007
**UPDATE 11/20/2007


A horrible crime. There have been so many tragedies for this community of deeply religious Sephardim--from the destruction of the community in Uzbekistan, including the destruction of the synagogue that was central to many lives in Tashkent, to these new tragedies in America.

My heart goes out to the Malakov family and to the entire close-knit Bucharian community in New York and across the country. May Hashm keep you close as you mourn for the loss of a good man, and you protect and nurture his daughter.


October 29, 2007 -- A Queens orthodontist who had recently been awarded custody of his 5-year-old daughter was fatally gunned down in cold blood in front of the screaming child yesterday as they entered a school playground to meet his ex-wife, police and relatives said.

Daniel Malakov, 34, who ran a successful practice nearby in Forest Hills, took two bullets to the chest, fired at point-blank range, outside the playground entrance on 64th Road near Yellowstone Boulevard at around 11 a.m.

A 15-year-old witness heard two shots, then saw a bloodied body hit the ground and a man running from the scene.

The teen said that a short time later, Malakov's mother, who lives nearby, ran to her dying son and cried, "Oh, my God, my son!"

"She was very scared. She was on her knees crying. She had blood on her hands," he said.

Malakov's ex-wife, a psychiatrist, tried to revive him with CPR, the teen said.

The couple's terrified daughter, Michelle, screamed and cried as her father lay on the ground covered in blood, witnesses said.

Daniel Malakov's father also ran to the scene.

"He was screaming and yelling and making wild sounds," said a woman who asked not to be identified. "He was saying, 'Who shot my son?' "

Police recovered a gun nearby.

He was pronounced dead at nearby North Shore University Hospital at Forest Hills.

No arrests have been made.

Police said no one was being questioned, and authorities have no suspects.

The wife and child were briefly interviewed at the 112th Precinct station house.

Malakov, who is from Uzbekistan, had been embroiled in a nasty legal battle with his ex-wife, Mazaltuv Borokhove, and last week won on appeal full custody of their daughter, relatives said.

"The judge decided to give the child to the father. He took Michelle. He was very happy," Hanna Mushiyeva, 63, the victim's aunt, said. "He made a big room for her, bought new clothes and was going to give her all the education she wanted."

Despite the bitterness, she said he had been willing to let the child visit her mother.

"Of course. This is her mother. Why shouldn't she take care of the child?" she recalled him saying.

Malakov had been planning to drop off little Michelle and head to his office about 100 yards from the playground.

Patients stood outside the shuttered office Malakov shared with another relative, Gavriel Malakov, a physical therapist.

"He had a very good temperament," said a shocked patient.

A family friend said Daniel Malakov's uncle, Ezro Malakov, had been a famous cantor.

A cousin said of the victim: "No one person would have said a bad thing about him. He did not have one enemy. He was a religious Jewish guy."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Scandalous $10 Million Bat Mitzvah


My son is going fishing the Sunday after his Bar Mitzvah with a friend and three of his brothers . . . but then again, the fact that he is called to Torah is gift enough for him.

I guess that’s the difference between the religious and the conspicuous . . .

David Brooks of DHB Industries Arrested for Embezzling Company Funds
Oct. 27, 2007 —

The headliners read like a who's who of music: Aerosmith, 50 Cent and Don Henley of the Eagles.

No, it wasn't the Grammys, it was 13-year-old Elizabeth Brooks' birthday party -- a $10 million mega bat mitzvah. Aerosmith alone was paid a $1 million to perform -- flown in on her father's company jet.

Her father is David Brooks, who was then the CEO of DHB Industries, the leading body armor provider to U.S. soliders in Iraq. And he had his company pick up the tab for the party two years ago, according to investigators.

This week, the former CEO was indicted on 21 counts of alleged securities fraud, insider trading, tax evasion and obstruction of justice. Authorities say he inflated his company stock and bilked his firm out of tens of millions of dollars to bankroll his fairy tale lifestyle.

"Right off the bat, he's going to have a problem with the jury that's going to be able to comprehend spending $10 million on a bat mitzvah, when most people won't ever see $10 million in their lifetime," defense attorney Joe Tacopino said.

Brooks is accused of getting his company to pay for his ex-wife's facelift, a $200,000 Bentley, and even a $100,000 belt buckle.

The criminal charges center around the claim that Brooks cashed in $185 million worth of stock just before the New York Police Department recalled 6,000 of his company's defective vests.

Tests showed that a quarter of the Interceptor vests worn by New York's finest were defective.

"This is another form of corporate irresponsibility, of where corporate officers knowingly ship defective products in order to boost the revenue of the company to benefit themselves financially," shareholders' attorney Bill Lerach told ABC's Brian Ross in 2002.

In 2004, DHB Industries was awarded a $200 million contract to provide body armor to the U.S. military for soldiers fighting on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But in May of 2005, the Marine corps announced a recall of more than 5,000 DHB Industries vests as government tests showed the critical life-threatening flaws.

If convicted, Brooks could spend rest of his life in jail.

Baseball dream is reborn in Israel


A great story that gets to the heart of why I am so happy about the IBL and hope it succeeds—for the kids who can’t dream of playing baseball professionally unless the IBL is there. With the IBL, religious kids don’t have to make a choice between baseball and Shabbat.

Ex-Boston resident played in league

Sure enough, former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette, one of the organizers of the league, saw the savvy southpaw’s tryouts and offered him a contract not only to pitch, but coach as well.

PORTSMOUTH, N.H.— For Ari Alexenberg, it’s hard to ignore the irony.

As a child growing up in Queens, N.Y., Alexenberg played stickball with the other kids in his neighborhood and dreamed of being a big leaguer someday.

But while other boys played on Little League and school teams, Alexenberg, an Orthodox Jew, could not play because most games were on Saturdays.

Now, as a 45-year-old father of two, the Portsmouth resident got his chance to play professional baseball, in the same country where the religion that kept him off the playing field began.

Alexenberg played for three months in the Israel Baseball League this summer. The league hopes to increase the popularity of the sport in a country where soccer and basketball are kings. With a large American population, organizers hope to find success during the other sports’ off-seasons.

In its first year, the league had six teams that played 48 games.

Tryouts were held throughout the United States and Israel, and a majority of the players were current and former minor league players between the ages of 20 and 30, all with a keen devotion to the sport and varying levels of professional aspirations.

Alexenberg was not only be the oldest player in the league (the next-oldest was 32), but he was one of the few players that had previously lived in Israel. From age 7 to 12, Alexenberg lived with his parents in Israel before moving back to the U.S., where he went to college.

“I’ve been playing baseball forever,” he said. “But as much as I loved the game, I didn’t have the opportunity to play on an organized level.”

After moving to Boston at 23, Alexenberg played in several city leagues. After seeing the 6-feet-1-inch lefty throw in the upper-80 mph range, one of his coaches put him in contact with a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The scout directed him to a semipro league in San Diego, where he also worked for the San Diego State University baseball team under legendary coach Jim Dietz.

But eventually, Alexenberg gave up on his dream, to pursue another dream with his wife, Julie.

“We wanted to start a family, so we had to move and I had to get a real job,” he said. “It takes so many years to hone those skills. I realized such a long learning curve, it would be difficult to move up.”

Alexenberg’s love for baseball never waned. He spent much of his free time over the next 20 years coaching youth leagues and playing on men’s teams.

When he heard about the IBL tryouts in Massachusetts, Alexenberg scoffed at the idea, knowing a 45-year-old would likely have little chance making any semi-professional team. So he skipped the tryout. Julie found out and told him to book a flight to Israel for another tryout.

“I thought it was ridiculous, but my wife encouraged me to go. She knows how much I love it and had faith I’d be able to make it.”

Sure enough, former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette, one of the organizers of the league, saw the savvy southpaw’s tryouts and offered him a contract not only to pitch, but coach as well.

Alexenberg said if he was not an Orthodox Jew, he probably would have played at least minor league ball. Unlike other sports, he said, baseball requires significantly more game-time experience in order to hone the skills necessary to excel. By the time he had the experience, he was too old.

Still, Alexenberg, a successful entrepreneur in various technology ventures, said he has no regrets and just sees his situation as any other talented athlete whose professional career was hindered by a complication.

“I had it all except experience, but what can you do? It’s one of those things. A lot of people who have potential careers in baseball pass it by for different reasons. Mine is just very unique.”

Harvest of Terror: The Arabs "Olive Harvest" Lie


This is an essay that I wrote for Arutz7 (IsraelNN.Com) under the title "Harvest of Terror."

It explains the whole "olive harvest" idiocy for anyone who has not been in Israel and seen this first hand, as I have.

By Michelle Nevada

There is a current and perennial fight that happens every year in Israel, and if you don’t know the facts, you may be lulled into the idea that it is simply a agricultural dispute. It goes way beyond agriculture. The annual “olive tree” problem is a significant issue, not just in the rural areas of Israel, especially in Samaria, but for every person who cares about the future of Israel.

Please don’t believe the claims of clueless television reporters and bleeding-heart left-wing people. It is not a case of “those settlers” destroying the olive trees in a mean-spirited attempt to make the “poor Palestinian people” go without an income or food or a job. Anyone who believes those reports has not only bitten at the bait of the Arabs, but has swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. The war of the olive trees is not about olive trees at all. It’s about land and safety.

Olive may be an ancient symbol of peace, but today they are more a symbol of an unchecked Arab land grab. This is how it works: An Arabs come upon an old olive tree near a settlement. The tree, they know, is evidence of how long someone has lived in a place and who owns the land. Most older trees near settlements were planted by Jews, but some of the younger trees may have sprung up from an olive that rolled down a hill.

A lot of people, when picturing this scene, think the olives trees are growing in carefully defined orchards in nice straight lines, but most are not. In fact, unless you know what an olive tree looks like, you might think it was part of the scrub that dots the land of Samaria.

A lot of the trees were planted just outside of small Jewish towns in Samaria in order to define the boundaries of the settlement areas, but some trees are much older—and have been passed down from family member to family member for generations. If you don’t believe the Torah, or the thousands of architectural landmarks that dot the “territories” of Israel as places of constant Jewish habitation, you can turn to these living testaments of family ownership of the land—a fact that has not escaped the notice of the Arab population.

Some trees are marked in to show who owns them, but in many areas it is just a matter of local knowledge who owns the tree—after all, it is on that person’s land, or in their back yard, or it is on the block of land where their grandparents used to live. This doesn’t matter to the Arabs, though.

The Arabs are intent upon proving they own the land—even though they do not. They will mark every small stick of olive tree that pokes from the ground, and they will mark the trees that are the ownership of others as well. If the tree is marked, they destroy or erase the mark. Slowly, they attempt to mark every tree near a settlement in an effort to show that the trees belong to them. The closer the trees are, the better—because those trees can be allowed to grow large and bushy, providing perfect cover for terrorist activity against the Jewish population.

Then, claiming the “orchard” is theirs, the Arabs use the stolen and newly marked olive trees as an excuse to inch close to Jewish neighborhoods where they begin the surveillance for terrorist actions. With easily duped Westerners and soft-hearted ignorant Israeli college students as their accomplices, the Arabs make harvests of terror, reaping Jewish lives and security along with their stolen olives.

They also use these “orchards” to claim ownership of land blocks in strategic areas near Jewish communities. If you have ever been to Samaria, you will see that the Jews live on the hilltops, and the Arabs live in the valleys. It seems strange, at first. After all, the Jews are leaving all the fertile green land for the
Arabs to farm, while they struggle to make rocky and thorn-filled hillsides bloom. But, when you realize that the Jews are there to protect Israel, you understand.

Those who live in Samaria chose to live on the hilltops where Arabs could launch rockets at large cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. When you understand this, you understand why these so-called “innocent” Arabs from the fertile river valleys would trudge up a rocky hillside to claim an olive tree next to a Jewish home on a hillside. They don’t want olives, they want Jewish lives.

After they establish “ownership” of their stolen olive trees, they claim the land for their own. Next, they put simple stone structures there, then homes, and then they build a settlement. The closer they can get to a Jewish population, the better. After all, the Jews are no threat to them—but they are a great threat to the Jews.

It is strange that Secretary of State Rice, President Bush, and the UN are screaming about “illegal outposts,” but never seem to see the huge explosion of Arab homes, communities, and mosques suddenly growing up hillsides near Jewish neighborhoods—all foreshadowed by the stealing of olive trees.

This is why, when I hear that the “settlers are destroying the Palestinian’s olive trees,” or that the “settlers are throwing rocks at the poor Palestinians who are trying to harvest their olives,” I shake my head in disbelief and anger that any news agency would listen to this fiction and believe it.

But, I guess if someone is sitting in an office in downtown Tel Aviv or New York or Chicago, and has never seen an olive tree in Samaria, he might not understand the significance of an olive tree, and he might think that this is just a petty squabble between neighbors. But it’s not. It’s deadly serious business.

When I hear that the people of Elon Moreh or Itamar or Kedumim have destroyed olive trees, I know they have done it out of desperation. It says in Torah that we cannot destroy a fruit tree. These are religious people. The only reason they would go against a Torah prohibition is to protect life. I know that when they chose to destroy an olive tree it is to protect the lives of Jews in those towns. This is not about preventing an olive harvest, it is about preventing a harvest of terror.

So, the next time you are approached by a well-meaning soul who wants to help “rebuild Palestinian olive orchards” in the name of “peace,” or you hear of a mixed up group of people like the Kibbutz Movement thinking that planting olive trees for Arabs is a good thing, please pass on this lesson. I hope they may be educated into understanding what a dangerous thing they are doing. But, if they still don’t get the message, we can still offer them an olive branch, just to be sure.

'Olive Harvest' Activists Caught Destroying Jewish Vineyards


This is not an isolated incident. As we all know, the “olive harvest” is a ruse for arabs to get close to Jewish communities and either plan terrorist activities for later, or partake in them while making the excuse that they are there for the “olive harvest.” Most of the trees they are “harvesting,” by the way, are Jewish trees that they have stolen.

I am reprinting my essay, “Harvest of Terror,” which first appeared on A7, immediately following this post.

by Ezra HaLevi

(IsraelNN.com) Jewish-owned vineyards in Samaria were once again destroyed by leftist “humanitarian groups” Friday. This time some were caught in the act and arrested.

Shortly after residents of Dolev, located north of Jerusalem, discovered Friday that a local synagogue had been burned to the ground overnight, they saw that 3,000 plants in nearby vineyards had been destroyed. This is the third case of major agricultural vandalism in the region in recent months.

Vines were torn from the ground, and expensive irrigation equipment was damaged. The Jewish locals saw a group of foreign activists and Arabs heading toward an additional Jewish agricultural plot and alerted the police and IDF. The group fled, but three female activists from the United Kingdom were slower and were caught by police.

Destruction Under Guise of Humanitarian Assistance
Residents say the vandalism occurred under cover of the much-publicized PA Arab olive harvest. Local Arabs, joined by leftists – many foreign nationals – focus their harvest activities on trees abutting Jewish communities. This year, the IDF has been tasked with ensuring that Jewish residents do not leave their communities while the harvest activities are going on, citing fears of clashes. Two administrative orders have distanced two Jewish residents from all of Judea and Samaria for the duration of the harvest.

Adi Mintz, an area resident and member of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (Yesha) who is running for mayor of the region, said that the Yesha's Jewish residents have now received “a clear warning sign. Today it is synagogues and vineyards that are destroyed - tomorrow it will be the lives of human beings. The army must send in more forces to defend the residents of this area,” he said.

The owner of the destroyed vineyard, Shlomi Cohen, said the attack had caused NIS 60,000 of direct damage and would cost him an additional NIS 120,000 in lost produce. The damage was particularly severe because the attack took place during the shemittah (sabbatical) year, when Jews are forbidden to work the land.

British ‘Peace Activists’ Responsible
The three British women who were apprehended by police are accused of responsibility for the destruction Friday. Police also have evidence, however, that the women were part of the group that destroyed farm equipment in the nearby town of Neria in an earlier incident as well.

The women are activists with the International Solidarity Movement, a militantly anti-Zionist group that seeks to enable provocative actions against the IDF and Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, under the assumption that their foreign citizenship will raise the threshold on the response of security forces. The lines between ISM and local terrorist groups are quite blurry. In the past, British terrorists even carried out a suicide bombing after being embedded in an ISM cell.

Most of the vandals also take part in clashes with the IDF near the Arab village of Bilin. The militants were recently handed a victory by the Supreme Court, which ordered the IDF to move the security fence in the area of the weekly protests.

No Religious Haven From Abuse


If anything, the abuse is probably more devastating because a religious woman going through this has a lot more on the line than her sisters in secular society. First, she is likely to have many more children than her secular sister and more dependent upon her spouse for income, she is less likely to say anything for fear that she will be ostracized in her community--including fear that she will not be able to find a shidduch for her children, and she is more "placed"--she is not as mobile as her secular sisters. She is dependent upon her small community where she cannot rock the boat. In addition, she will not speak to anyone about it as it is a taboo subject.

The Mikvah is an important place to post information, and it would be wonderful if the community would train their Mikvah ladies to politely make inquiries when the woman seems hesitant to return home, and know a competent and confidential person who either volunteers or is compensated by the community to send the woman to (as financial abuse is often connected to the victimization of the woman).

I would love to see a national training project for Mikvah Ladies to recognize and approach the victims of abuse and to refer them to appropriate assistance.

New study finds Orthodox women are sexually victimized as much as other American women are.
by Debra Nussbaum Cohen
Staff Writer

Despite the widespread impression in the Orthodox world that sexual abuse doesn’t happen within its precincts, or happens less than in the “outside world,” a report in the November issue of the journal of the American Psychiatric Association says that Orthodox Jewish women suffer as much of it as other American women do.

Twenty-six percent of respondents in a study about the sexual lives and attitudes of married Orthodox Jewish women — 55 percent identifying as Modern Orthodox and about 45 percent as fervently Orthodox — indicated that they had at some point suffered sexual abuse.

That figure is on par with the 25 percent to 27 percent of American women in general, without regard to their marital status or religion, who have reported
in numerous studies that they had been sexually abused.

The new article also says that fervently Orthodox women are more likely than Modern Orthodox women to have experienced sexual abuse, to have experienced it multiple times and to have experienced it the first time before age 13.

Fifty-eight percent of fervently Orthodox women who participated in the study reported experiencing sexual abuse multiple times, according to the article, compared to 39 percent of Modern Orthodox women.

Overall, 16 percent of respondents said they experienced their first sexual abuse at or before they were 13 years old, which is less than the approximately 22 percent of American women who have reported in other studies that they were sexually abused at that age.

Among the ultra-Orthodox respondents, 20 percent said they had experienced abuse by the age of 13, while among the modern Orthodox respondents it was 12 percent.

“It’s very important to note that this is just a slice,” said Rachel Yehuda, a professor of psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan, and one of the paper’s lead authors. “We only studied married women who agreed to be studied, and we have no idea of how representative these women are. More importantly, we didn’t study single women or women who decided not to be Orthodox anymore.

“Nonetheless, the observation that this is not less of a problem here is important. ... One can’t walk away saying Orthodox Judaism is protecting women against abuse,” said
More women who became religious — ba’alei teshuvas — also report having been sexually abused at some point compared to those raised in Orthodox homes, according to the study of married observant women.

“We’re not the first to show that heightened religiosity may be a response to trauma,” says Dr. Michelle Friedman, a psychiatrist in Manhattan who is the article’s other lead author. Living an Orthodox life is viewed as “a whole lifestyle of perceived protection and meaning, of clarity and order.”

The article, which focuses just on sexual abuse, is based on information drawn from a broader study of Orthodox married women’s sexual lives and attitudes that Friedman and Yehuda conducted about four years ago. Respondents ranged in age from 19 to 58, and were required to report regular use of a mikveh, or ritual bath, in order to be included in the findings.

This was the first study of observant Jewish women’s sexuality, said Friedman. Though face-to-face interviews with randomly selected people on such topics are preferable, even getting Orthodox women to fill out anonymous questionnaires “is a hard thing to do,” she said. “You have to get to the sample, and it requires trust. For them to answer something that’s a study, people have to believe that it’s useful for them, that it’s necessary.”

The researchers advertised the study in synagogue bulletins, Jewish organizations, newspapers, Jewish listservs and Web sites, and through medical offices, like pediatricians and obstetricians/gynecologists, whose practices include many Orthodox women.

They did not count as abused respondents those who said that their adult experiences had been consensual even if uncomfortable, or said that they had abuse threatened but not carried out, or who experienced something that might not be strictly considered abuse, for example, someone who reported that a stranger fondled her rear end on the street.

Of the 380 respondents, 208 of them defined themselves as Modern Orthodox and 172 described themselves as ultra-Orthodox.

The study found that the ultra-Orthodox women were more likely to report that their husbands had forced them to have sex — 5 percent compared to 1 percent of the Modern Orthodox women.

This could be in part because fervently Orthodox women sometimes view their sexual role differently than Modern Orthodox women do, says Bronya Shaffer. Shaffer teaches marriage education classes to brides, and provides counseling to women about marital and family issues.

Shaffer, who is a member of the Lubavitch community in Crown Heights, has also had clients from the Williamsburg, Borough Park and Monsey chasidic communities, and found that “all of them were extremely sheltered up until marriage. They really had no clue about men and women or about how babies are made. All of them went into marriage knowing that part of their responsibility was to defer to their husband’s sexual needs, and none of them had any sense of themselves as sexual beings,” she said.

The article hopes to illuminate the need for greater sensitivity to sexual abuse among those who might treat its victims, and also to the reality of its existence in Orthodox Jewish communities.

“Religious life is not necessarily protective of the human condition,” said Friedman. “In theory, it’s clearly forbidden. But in practice it happens, and people suffer.”

Israel kicks off first tackle football season


First baseball, and now American Football in Israel? This is truly a way to gather the exiles from America! Can the Moshiac be far behind???


Friday October 19, 2007
by rory kress

“Yalla! Nu, huddle up!”

Tensions are high as the men of the Tel Aviv Sabres begin to organize their top-secret game plan two hours before the opening scrimmage of the first season of Israeli tackle football. Sweaty heads pressed together, they bar the curious members of the press from advancing any further.

“We don’t take kindly to reporters around here,” says the team captain with such self-assuredness, for a second, it would seem this was the glitzy NFL and not the IFL: the brand new Israel Football League.

But looking at the Sabres clustered together at the Bapist Village playing fields near Tel Aviv, they look like little more than a ragtag group of young men, testing out an American sport on Israeli ground.

Since April, however, the men of the Sabres, along with 80 other players divided into four teams, have been learning the ins and outs of this distinctly American sport, hoping to bring American tackle football to Israel for the first time ever. Fourteen female teams are also gearing up to begin their season.

One thing that’s already clear, watching the Sabres break the huddle and line up on an imaginary line to begin the play, is that they now know that without padding, they need to be extra careful.

Asaf, 16, is sitting out and icing a distended, swollen kneecap. Usually his team’s linebacker, he’s going to be sitting on the sidelines this game. His injury has even scared off a few of his Israeli friends who do not seem to understand the aggressive game he has fallen for. “I try to convince them to come to my games,” he says, rubbing his knee. “They think it’s tough but that it’s too dangerous. They don’t want to get injured like me.”

Steve Leibowitz, founder of the league, explains that development of the IFL came out of the Israelis who had caught the “football bug” from a game they had only seen on television. Young men were playing in local parks without equipment, without padding and without experience.

To form a legitimate tackle football league, Leibowitz decided that all players had to pass a course. “It’s like Football 101: everything you need to know about football from the beginning.”

Eric Amkraut, a former football coach who made aliyah from New Jersey to help run the crash course, says, “We treated them the way we would treat high-school walk-ons.”

Part of that treatment included a two-day preseason training camp. Two American football coaches from Tennessee also came to help sharpen the young men’s skills.

“The guys have come a long way … When we first started, we had doubts,” admits Don Peek, one of the American coaches who led the preseason clinic. “There’s a lot of potential. I’m excited about the next couple of years as we get more interest and more players. There’s no telling how far this could go.”

So will American-style football catch on in Israel?

“Absolutely,” Peek says. “It’s a great team sport with great camaraderie. For the Americans [on the teams], it allows them to bring a little piece of home to Israel.”

Starting next month, the teams will play a regular season of nine games plus an exhibition and playoffs. The venues span the country, from Tel Aviv to Haifa to Jerusalem.

The Israel Football League is the second major American import in the world of Israeli sports this summer — it was also the inaugural season of the Israel Baseball League. Though both leagues are dedicated to quintessentially American sports, founder Leibowitz insists that the IFL has a “completely different concept” behind it: the IFL is an entirely Israeli league, as opposed to the internationally imported talent that make up the IBL.

Amkraut confirms that “just about everyone suiting up for the IFL lives in Israel on a permanent basis. We’re talking about a player base that’s homegrown.”

Though Americans and the Israeli members of the IFL no longer question the sport, it remains a tough sell in a country with no history of the game.

Coach Amkraut remembers the mixed reactions he received from his fellow Israelis when he told them just what he would be doing this fall.

“They said, ‘Really? There’s tackle football?’ And the answer was ‘Yes!’ ‘With equipment?’ ‘Yes.’ And now, they seem excited about it.”

Itay, wide receiver for the other Tel Aviv team, the Pioneers, proudly details his love for the game. His friends, however, won’t let him get away with his fanciful memory. Avihai, the tight end for the team, interrupts to joke, “You’ve only played the Madden games on the computer.”

The mix of ages on the teams also leads to some mockery over their barbeque lunch. Johan, who emigrated from Sweden only three weeks ago, waxes poetic about the game he never thought he’d play back home or in his adopted country. “I love this game,” he sighs before his teammates can shove him as he admits he is 36 years old.

“Still in shape, eh?” they tease and burst into peals of laughter.

By the bleachers, the rest of the Pioneers put on their pads, looking more and more like a team as the pieces of their uniforms come together. Shmuel O’Neill, who made aliyah from the United States, sports a Trojans jersey cut off at the navel and the shoulders. For him, the IFL is a new opportunity to play a sport that did not give him so many opportunities: “I played for four years in high school. But I played the bench,” he says before running off to the 50-yard line to join the rest of his team in their final warm-ups.

Finally the players take the field and the fans take to the stands. As the whistle blows, the ball spirals across the field and the tackling begins. An older Israeli man starts to grumble from his seat on the bleaches.

“What kind of a game is this? It’s just craziness,” he says. “I don’t like it. It’s too aggressive and there’s too much fighting,” he concludes.

It is apparent that the aggressiveness of the game takes getting used to as it is seen live and in-person, and although they could not convince one man on the bleachers, the game’s appeal to Israelis becomes clear when the helmets and the shoulder pads are peeled off. Men in kippahs are playing side by side with men in tattoos as several children with payes stand on the sidelines, transfixed at the thrill of a new game in front of their eyes.

Clear Evidence Implicates Assad Personally in North Korean Nuclear Deal


Wow! First the bombing "didn't happen," then it happened but it was an "international incident," and now the bombing not only happened (against a nuclear facility), but Korea and Assad were in collusion!

Amazing how things things develop isn't it?

Now, what is the next step? Do we cut off their water for 15 minutes a day?



DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
October 27, 2007, 11:24 PM (GMT+02:00)

President Bashar Assad was personally involved in Damascus’ nuclear deal with Pyongyang. Documentary proofs of this, obtained from the presidential bureau and signed by Assad in person, are now in the hands of the US and Israeli intelligence services, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report. In one, Assad hands down a specific order in his own handwriting that North Korea not be charged for Syrian goods, including an annual shipment of 100,000 tons of Durham wheat for five years worth a total of $120 million. This is the equivalent of the value of the reactor for producing plutonium up to its most radioactive stage, which North Korea promised Syria.

A high-ranking Western intelligence source speaking to DEBKAfile described the evidence against Assad in US and Israeli hands as solid and much closer to a smoking gun than the West has turned up against Iran’s nuclear program.

The following sequence of events unfolds from the garnered documents:

Damascus and Pyongyang settled between them that the nuclear transaction would be masked as a joint venture to build a cement factory in northern Syria; meanwhile, North Korea would sell Syria cement for its development projects.

According to DEBKAfile’s sources, North Korean freighters, which began putting in at Syria’s Latakia and Tartus ports in January 2007, unloaded cargoes of cement in which nuclear reactor components and materials were concealed.

The North Korean traffic at these ports and the Durham wheat transaction attracted the attention of US and Israeli secret services.

During the next eight months – up until the Israeli attack on Syria’s North Korean installation - wheat prices shot up on international markets. Indeed the price of Durham wheat doubled. Had this been a normal commercial transaction, Syria would have claimed additional North Korean goods in compensation. In fact, when import-export officials in Damascus, who knew nothing of the nuclear reactor tradeoff, pointed Assad’s office to the price fluctuations on the wheat market, they were told that the contracts signed by the president in person must go through without changes.

When later, the Syrian wheat crop fell short of expectations, Syrian officials were again told to fill the North Korean orders in full.

On Sept. 3, the North Korean “cement ship” Al Hamed docked at Tartus. The freight it unloaded was trucked directly to the “cement factory” at Al Tibnah in the Syrian Desert, east of the Euphrates River. The Israeli attack took place three days later.

Last Tuesday, Oct. 23, the Syrian ambassador to Washington Imad Mustapha was invited to address the prestigious Institute on Religion and Public Policy. In answer to a question, he acknowledged, “Syria gives North Korea wheat, oil and other products.”

He declined to disclose what Syria got in return. When pressed on this point, Mustapha said in exasperation: “Stuff. We get stuff.”

Thursday, Oct. 25, a number of leading American media simultaneously ran satellite images of a nuclear installation standing at Al Tibnah in August 2007 and the same site in the second half of September, after it had been cleared of the debris left by the Israeli attack.

This time, Damascus found nothing to say – although Syrian officials had commented on former leaks related to the episode. DEBKAfile’s Syrian sources report that this and other symptoms indicate that Assad finds himself in a tight corner. He is at a loss to explain to the Syrian public and, worse, to most of his colleagues in the political and military leadership who were kept ignorant of the nuclear transaction with North Korea, how he came to entangle the country in this ill-fated adventure.

In the view of DEBKAfile’s Western intelligence source, the Syrian president’s internal and international plight is more acute than that of the Iranian regime or Saddam Hussein in the days leading up to the 2003 US invasion. No incontrovertible proof has so far been shown to demonstrate that Iran has attained the capacity to produce nuclear or radioactive weapons, any more than the Iraqi ruler was positively shown to have weapons of mass destruction. Assad’s case is more unfortunate; it is now supported by solid evidence in American and Israeli hands.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

PARASHAT VAYEIRA: Why Destroy Sodom? by Daniel Pinner


A lot of you may not know Daniel Pinner or what happened to him, but he is a hero of Israel. He is a modest electrician who helped to wire the old hotel in Gaza where th protesters against the Gush Katif removal stayed. While he was there, he was attacked by a group of Arabs, he shot his gun into the air to scare them away (and save his life!), and then, months later, an arab with no physical evidence to back him up, claimed Daniel shot him in the leg. The kangaroooooo court of Israel sentenced Daniel, and he served his time (time he shouldn't have served).

During that time, Daniel began sending out weekly commentary on the Parsha, and I became addicted to his wonderful commentaries.

Here is his latest:

“Hashem said: Because of the outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah – because it is great; and their sin – because it is terribly heavy; I will descend now and see. If it is according to its cry which has come to me – then obliteration!” (Genesis 18:20).

Clearly, the evil of Sodom and Gomorrah did not begin that day; evil always builds up gradually, over years, over generations. What had happened at just this historical juncture to push G-d over the edge, so to speak? What final red line had been crossed, that Sodom and Gomorrah were irretrievably doomed this day?

To answer this question, it is best to examine the one man in Sodom whom we know most intimately – Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Parashat Vayeira gives some very clear, if very subtle, insights into Lot’s personality; and perhaps surprisingly, when Lot is compared with his uncle Abraham, Lot emerges as a great tzaddik. A flawed tzaddik, to be sure, but a tzaddik nonetheless.

The Parashah opens when “Hashem appeared to him [Abraham] in the plains of Mamre, when he was sitting at the entrance of his tent in the hottest time of the day” (Genesis 18:1). The immediately preceding verses narrate Abraham’s circumcising himself and his household (17:23-27), so our Parashah begins immediately after the circumcision – according to the Gemara (Bava Metzi’a 86b), on the third day after, when the wound is most painful. Despite his pain, and despite the fierce heat of the desert sun, when Abraham saw three men – whom he did not yet know were angels – “he ran towards them from the entrance of the tent” (18:2). This is the paradigm for the generations of hachnasat or’chim – welcoming guests, hospitality: Abraham displayed tremendous mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice) in this episode.

Several hours later, that evening, two of those angels arrived in Sodom (19:1), “and Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom; and Lot saw, and he rose up towards them, and he bowed, face to the ground. And he said: Behold, now, my masters – turn aside, please, to your servant’s house…” (19:1-2). Inviting indigent guests was an offence punishable by death in Sodom: “They promulgated a decree in Sodom: anyone who would offer solace to one who was poor or hungry by giving him a loaf of bread would be burnt by fire” (Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer Chapter 25). Hence Lot risked his very life by inviting these two men home – far greater self-sacrifice than his uncle Abraham had displayed earlier that day.

Abraham invited the three men into his tent with the very modest words, “Let a little water be brought now for you to wash your feet, and rest under the tree; and I will bring a loaf of bread for you to eat – and then pass on” (Genesis 18:4-5). In the event, Abraham told his wife Sarah to make cakes from three se’ah of flour; three se’ah is equivalent to about 25 litres (61⁄2 US gallons), which gives an idea of the size of the feast that Abraham prepared. And this was just the appetizer! He also prepared an entire calf – a veritable feast fit for a king. This is the paradigm for Shammai’s famous dictum, “say little and do much” (Pirkei Avot 1:15). Or, in the words of Rabbi Elazar, “From here we learn that tzaddikim say little and do much” (Bava Metzi’a 87a).

That evening, in Sodom, Lot invited the two men into his house with an even more modest invitation: “Behold now, my lords, turn aside please to your servant’s house; rest, wash your feet, get up early and go on your way” (19:2). Lot did not mention so much as a slice of bread or a cup of water. But when they reached his house, “he made a feast for them, and he baked matzot, and they ate” (verse 3).

And on the phrase “he baked matzot,” Rashi makes a laconic, yet immensely revealing, statement: “it was Pesach”. (The Talmud and the Midrashim are consistent about the chronology: the angel promised Sarah that she would bear her son Isaac exactly one year hence [18:10]; the 400 years of Abraham’s seed living as “strangers in a land not their own” [15:13] began with the birth of Isaac and finished with the Exodus from Egypt. Since the Exodus occurred on the fifteenth of Nisan, Isaac was born 400 years to the day earlier, i.e. also on the fifteenth of Nisan. And since the angelic prophecy to Sarah was one year to the day before Isaac was born, this episode also happened on the fifteenth of Nisan.) This is an incredible tribute to Lot, putting him on the level of the Forefathers: just as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob kept the mitzvot before the Torah was yet given, so did Lot.

No less important in testifying that Lot was a tzaddik is that he succeeded in bringing up his children in the same righteous path. His daughter, Plotit (Yalkut Shimoni, Genesis 83) or Pleitit (Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer 25, Targum Yonatan to Genesis 18:21) who was married to one of the chieftains of Sodom, was executed for the “crime” of feeding a poor man; she had clearly absorbed the lessons of self-sacrifice and caring for strangers that she had learned from her father Lot. And his two remaining daughters and his wife were all given the ultimate seal of approval from G-d Himself, Who decreed that they all be spared from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Had there been but nine more like Lot, they would have saved the entire metropolis.

And now, we can take a closer look at the interaction between Lot and his adopted home town. When Abraham’s and Lot’s herdsmen could no longer get along with each other, Abraham decided that their paths must part; “If you take left then I will go right, and if you take the right, them I will go left. And Lot raised his eyes and saw that the entire Jordan plain was well-watered – before Hashem destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah – like the garden of Hashem… So Lot chose for himself the entire Jordan plain…and they parted from each other… Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and encamped as far as Sodom. The people of Sodom were exceedingly evil and sinful to Hashem” (Genesis 13:9-13).

Almost quarter of a century passed from this event until the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah: in the intervening time, Abraham dwelt ten years in Canaan (16:3), his concubine Hagar then bore him Ishmael, and he was circumcised at thirteen years (17:25); then came the destruction. Clearly, enough time had passed for Lot to acclimatise and become accepted in Sodom. So accepted, indeed, that the people of Sodom had appointed Lot as judge. “Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom” (19:1), and the gate of the city was traditionally where judges sat: “That very day he had been appointed as the highest judge; there were five chief judges in Sodom…Lot was above them all” (Genesis Rabbah 50:3). This was why, when Lot urged the Sodomites not to violate his two guests, their response was: “This one has come here to sojourn, and he judges us as a judge!” (19:9), which the Targum Yonatan renders: “This one came to live among us, and behold – he has become a judge, and he is judging us all”.

And this is puzzling. The selfsame day that Lot was appointed judge was the day that G-d decreed that the outcry and the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah had become so intolerable that the only recourse was total destruction. It would seem logical that Lot’s appointment as judge in Sodom should be a reason for G-d to grant an extension of His mercy. Surely, when a tzaddik becomes judge, the metropolis has a chance of repenting.

Apparently the reverse is true. When a city’s laws are evil and the judges are corrupt, then somehow people can survive; sometimes two negatives do make a positive. When all the judges are corrupt, then it is no shame or disgrace to be convicted in court: everyone knows that the defendant was only convicted because he did not have sufficient protektziya, or did not bribe the judge enough, or subscribed to the wrong ideology. And anyway, in a totally corrupt justice system, it is sometimes possible to buy justice: an innocent man might be able to bribe the judge to acquit him.

But when a tzaddik becomes judge in an evil system, all hope is lost. The tzaddik will enforce the evil laws without taking bribes; to be convicted by a tzaddik is a genuine disgrace; the tzaddik will show no favouritism, and will not allow his personal ideology to interfere in the due process of the law. Even though he personally may object to a specific law, once he becomes part of the evil legal system he will inexorably enforce all its laws without exception.

The place to find this interpretation is not in the Gemara or the Midrash, nor in the writings of Rashi or the Rambam or any of our sages. Rather, the place to see the inevitable truth of this is in any court of law in modern Israel when Jews accused of “nationalist crimes” are tried by religious judges. And in the same way, every JDL-nik in New York always knew that the worst-case scenario was to come up for trial before a religious Jewish judge.

Indeed, it is when the tzaddik enforces the laws that the outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah becomes unbearably great, their sin becomes unbearably heavy, and the only recourse is total obliteration.


'Girls must not miss Torah studies during teachers' strike'


OK. I don’t know this rabbi, and I have never heard his name before this today, but I must tell you that I already like him.

He gets it. He knows.

It is not the men who are responsible for Jews remaining Jewish—it is the mothers. Imas need to know EVERYTHING about Judaism so that we can raise our children up right. But when we become Imas, we are too busy and too overwhelmed to spend the time we need to learn, so we need to learn this stuff young and learn it well.

Yes, Abbas have a lot to do with the religious education of their children, but that is more of a formal education, an education based around the synagogue and prayer.

Imas are responsible for the souls of our children. And, when there is no Abba in the picture due to widowhood, divorce, or separation due to military service or employment, it is Mom who does both types of education.

When a little one can say Sh’ma at three, thank Ima.
When a primary school child stands up for an elderly person, thank Ima.
When a teenager feels guilty for forgetting to wash before bread, thank Ima.

I’m so glad to see that there is a religious rabbi who is not afraid to say, out loud and without excuse, that it is imperative that our girls know Torah.

Thank you, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel! (and your Ima!)

Rabbi says Torah study 'is unique spiritual nourishment for the human soul,' and those who do not consume it daily will 'suffer irreversible psychological damage'
Kobi Nahshoni
Published: 10.25.07, 12:51 / Israel Jewish Scene

"Each day that girls go idle and do not study the Torah causes them irreversible psychological damage. Appropriate facilities where they can study the Torah during the strike must be found," said Ramat Gan's Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, a veteran rabbi from the Religious Zionist community, when relating to girls missing their Torah studies during the ongoing teachers' strike.

According to Ariel, such studies serve as "unique nourishment for the human soul" despite girls being exempt from Torah studies as a mitzvah.

In an article set to be published in the religious woman's publication "Argaman" to be distributed throughout synagogues on Friday, the rabbi called on religious teachers to consult with rabbis before joining such a strike.

Moreover, he hinted at his objection to the teachers' strike, "which causes irreversible damage to others".

"Only Torah studies will enable young girls to fulfill their vocation as Jewish women who are faithful to their belief and heritage," the rabbi concluded.

Palestinians: Limiting Gaza power supply a crime


I guess lobbing rockets at unarmed civilians, hitting schools, homes and businesses is not a crime, but cutting electricity so the rockets will stop is?


But, the UN will pass some resolution against it, I’m sure. After all, Jews who are alive and walking around are obviously breaking some UN resolution.

Defense minister's decision to reduce power supplies to Strip angers Palestinians. 'Decision is a severe escalation which may lead to a humanitarian crisis in the Strip,' says spokesman for Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestinian

Ali Waked
Published: 10.25.07, 18:15 / Israel News

Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to reduce power supplies to the Gaza Strip is a war crime which will be met with a response from the Palestinian resistance, spokespersons for the Palestinian organizations in Gaza said Thursday.

Palestinians fired a Qassam rocket at the southern town of Sderot shortly after Barak gave the green light to implement the defense establishment's recommendations to impose limitation on the Strip.

The Hamas-led government in Gaza also expressed its dissatisfaction with the defense minister's decision, which was defined as an implementation of Israel's gradual disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

Taher al-Nunu, a spokesman for the Gaza government, said that this was "a crime against a million and a half Palestinians living in the Strip."

According to al-Nunu, Barak's decision "is part of the collective punishment policy against the Palestinian population."

Although spokespersons for the Palestinian organizations said that "the sanctions will not subdue the Palestinian people," a spokesman for the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine warned that "the decision is a severe escalation which may lead to a humanitarian disaster in the Strip."

According to the spokesman, "The decision contradicts every human rights treaty in the world and may bring about an ecological and health disaster which will turn into a comprehensive humanitarian disaster."

'Collective punishment'

Palestinians in the West Bank also expressed their objection to the Israeli decision.

Dr. Saadi al-Krunz, the Salam Fayyad government's secretary-general, declared that "the Palestinian government opposes the decision, which is basically a collective punishment which we condemn."

According to al-Krunz, "The Israeli decision will bring about a further deterioration in the Strip residents' situation." He demanded that the international community intervene in a bid to cancel the Israeli decision.

Over the past few days, the Palestinians have stressed that the shortage in basic commodities in the Strip is expected to increase in the near future.

Gaza's governor told a Red Cross delegation on Wednesday that while the Strip was in need of 200 trucks carrying food and humanitarian aid in light of the growing unemployment rate, Israel only allowed up to 60 trucks to enter Gaza.



Who knows what happened. Could be they settled out of court, could be she was threatened, or could be that she just gave up from exhaustion and wanting to move on with her life.

I've been in a suit before, and believe me, if it is the third option, I don't blame her a bit.



October 25, 2007 -- The widow of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl has withdrawn her lawsuit seeking damages against al Qaeda, a dozen terrorists and Pakistan's largest bank.

In a letter Tuesday to the Manhattan federal judge presiding over the case, lawyers for Mariane Pearl noted that Habib Bank Limited and the other defendants had not answered the lawsuit filed in July, but they otherwise did not explain their reason for dropping the action.

Daniel Pearl, 38, was abducted in Karachi, Pakistan, while researching a story on Islamic militancy for The Wall Street Journal. His beheading was videotaped and displayed on the Internet.

Among the defendants in the lawsuit were al Qaeda, the al-Rashid Trust, an outlawed Islamic charity, and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the imprisoned al Qaeda No. 3 leader. .

Cabinet Announces Sanctions Against Gaza


How long has this taken??? Three months or more?? And now they have decided only to turn off the juice certain times and to certain areas? What the heck?

Here are some points to ponder:

Gaza is full of our enemies.
They hate us.
They want to kill us.
They have said they want to kill us.
They have tried to kill us—many times over!
What part of: “They want to kill us” does the government not understand?? The “kill” part?

Please, at least let us understand how this whole thing is calculated so that we can keep score, OK?

I understand it is a bureaucratic decision, so let’s understand the numbers. For example: how many rockets does it take to turn off the fuel or the water? Give us a number. What is it? Two thousand rockets equals a cut of 10%, or what?

OK, how about this one: How many Jewish lives are worth the cutting of one hour of electricty, two, three, five hundred? I’m sure you have that on a pie-chart or something, don’t you?

I think if we just understand how you have come about these decisions, we will feel a lot better.*


(*Please read with sarcastic tone)
by Hillel Fendel

(IsraelNN.com) Defense Minister Ehud Barak is set to approve, on Thursday afternoon, sanctions upon Palestinian Authority-controlled Gaza. The measures are in response to the renewed Kassam rocket fire from Gaza on Sderot and environs.

Six Kassams were fired Wednesday night at the western Negev, sending two people into shock. These followed more than 20 fired on Tuesday, including one that hit a home, and preced another two rockets fired Thursday morning.

A committee headed by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai has recommended that electricity supplied by Israel be cut off to northern Gaza during certain evening and nighttime hours. The city of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, and environs, comprise the area from which most of the Kassam rockets are fired. The committee also recommends cutting down Israel's supply of fuel and goods to Gaza.

"We have no alternative other than to employ these measures," Deputy Minister Vilnai explained Thursday on Army Radio. "The situation cannot continue in which we supply the Palestinians with all their needs as usual while they fire at us. Gaza is a hostile entity, and this is a gradual disengagement."

Some 62.5 percent of Gaza's electricity, and all of Gaza's fuel, including diesel, gasoline and natural gas, comes from Israel. Another 28.6 percent of Gaza's electricity comes from Gaza's power plant, which depends on Israeli fuel. The remainder of the electricity comes from Egypt. The numbers were supplied by Stuart Shepherd of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Defense Minister Barak is also considering closing the Israel-Gaza crossings for an unlimited time.

Israel already disengaged from Gaza once before, when it destroyed 21 of its own Jewish communities there, expelled their residents, and razed their homes in an effort to increase security for the Jewish State. It was said at the time that Israel had no need to be at all involved with Gaza and the Arab population there. However, ties between Israel and Gaza have continued even without an Israeli presence in Gaza, prompting the nearly 9,000 still temporarily-housed ex-Gazan Jews to wonder what purpose was served by the destruction of much of their lives.

Alon Davidi, of the Sderot Task Force, said after Wednesday night's Kassam attacks, "It is inconceivable that the residents of Sderot should be abandoned by their democratic government, and are deprived of their basic right to live with security and without fear. We call upon the Prime Minister to wake up from his dreams of concessions, and order the IDF to set out on a broad ground campaign to stop the terrorism in Hamastan."

Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon maintains, in a paper he prepared for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, that one of the reasons Israel is not invading Gaza is its fear that the PA will hold off on supplying Israel with gas from an off shore gas field discovered by Israel in 2000. The field, with an estimated worth of $4 billion of gas, was given as a gift by then-Prime Minister Barak to the PA, which is developing it together with British Gas. Ex-Prime Minister Sharon opposed the deal, fearing that revenues would be used to fund terrorism, but Prime Minister Olmert apparently plans to go ahead with it.