Saturday, December 29, 2007

Occupation: The Big Lie

My brain's gone a little gaga from the sun and I doubt that I will be able to right down anything of worth. But, in light of recent slanderous charges against Israel by a certain young visitor, I would like to repost an article from Arutz-7. It blasts apart the "occupation" myth that critics of Israel are so fond of citing. They are entirely right when they say that the occupation must end- the Arab occupation of Jewish land must come to an end soon.

Occupation: The Big Lie
by Asher Zelig Fried

Arab and leftist propagandists have learned well.

Israel stands accused of conducting a brutal military occupation of Arab lands inhabited by an indigenous, peace-seeking Arab population. Repeatedly, in newscasts and the press, Israel is characterized as harshly subjugating another people. These accusations are dangerous, a pervasive lie, and an existential threat to Israel. They are a classic manifestation of a much utilized propaganda tactic known as "The Big Lie."

Accusations resulting from this falsehood exceed all bounds of truth and continue
These accusations are dangerous, a pervasive lie, and an existential threat to Israel. Incredibly, many are now accepted as "articles of faith" by increasing numbers of those who heretofore viewed Israel favorably. These accusations have become the common ground that transforms casual supporters of Israel into vocal Israel-bashers, and the glue that today binds every manner of Israel's enemies.

Israel's "occupation" of the disputed areas began subsequent to its 1967 victory in the Six Day War, when Jewish settlement of Judea and Samaria began in earnest. Initial Arab reactions were positive, as working relationships were maintained between Jewish communities and their Arab neighbors. Jews would regularly visit Arab towns and employ local townspeople. The Arab standard of living improved significantly as its per capita income increased exponentially. Local roads were modernized, water supplies increased, electricity and telephone communications were developed, and a new tourism industry flourished. With rare exception, there were no road-blocks, lock-downs, or curfews, as Arabs worked and shopped in Haifa and Tel Aviv, and Jews shopped in Ramallah and in local Arab villages.

With the benefits of Arab and Jew living side-by-side and in relative peace apparent through the 1970s and 1980s, there nevertheless were Arab rumblings about Jewish settlement in the land. It received, however, minimal attention; it was perceived to be the sentiment of relatively few Arab dissidents. The improving economic conditions of the local population and its benefits were deemed far more important than the negative potential of a renewal of friction.

These relationships, built over a period of 25 years, were dramatically and irretrievably altered with the signing of the Oslo Accords of 1993. The Accords created an entirely new narrative. The status of Jewish residents changed abruptly from neighbor to occupier, even in their own homes and communities. Arab extremists, emboldened by Oslo's promise of an independent Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, demanded removal of all Jewish communities in areas they now claimed as exclusively their own.

In 1994, Israel granted the Palestinian National Authority autonomous control of the major Arab cities in Judea and Samaria, and of the surrounding areas. The PNA's corrupt rule and suppression of all opposition resulted in a GDP in 2003 one-tenth of what it had been in 1992. The then-newly-returned Yasser Arafat and his murderous henchmen spread their reign of terror and hostility, while their propagandists introduced a new rallying call, "End the Occupation." Israel's political Left, in support of Oslo, immediately joined the fray.

Incredibly, no one questioned the incongruity of Jews branded occupiers of Judea, the province named for its Jewish residents. No one thought it odd that Jews were now accused of occupying Jerusalem, known historically as "the city of the Jew." Far more Jews shopped in Ramallah and in local Arab villages. More vociferous then even the Arab propagandists, the Israeli Left immediately embraced the Arab narrative and intensified their onslaught. They too adopted "End the Occupation" as their rallying call, with which they then pervaded Israeli TV, radio, newspapers, film, literature and the universities. Today, the very words of seditious Israeli university professors, who denigrate Israel in the most perverse manner, are quoted by Israel's enemies across the globe.

Perhaps the greatest irony is that The Big Lie as a tool of propaganda was first introduced by Adolf Hitler in his 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf. He states that for the Big Lie to be effective, it "must be so colossal that no one would believe that someone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously." He further posits that "in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily." This tactic was utilized by Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, who understood that for the lie to be effective, it must not only be colossal, but also must contain at least a kernel of truth, and be repeated with great frequency. The Arab propagandists, and now enemies of Israel worldwide, have learned well from their murderous Nazi predecessors.

Accusations of occupation by Israel's leftist press, and by Israel's detractors following their lead, are repeated regularly and without respite. The necessary kernel of truth is evident: Israel does, in fact, occupy Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem; much the same way that it occupies Tel Aviv and Haifa, and in much the same the way the United States occupies Miami and Los Angeles with their minority Latino populations, and the same way Canada occupies Quebec, with its minority French population.

Jews were sovereign in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, and the lands west of the Jordan River for a thousand years, while Arabs were never sovereign in these lands. It was not until the late 19th and early 20th century that the overwhelming majority of Arabs living west of the Jordan River migrated to the area. The land then was ruled by the Ottoman Empire. Subsequently, until the founding of the Jewish State, it was under British control.

With Israel's victory in the Six Day War and subsequent control of these areas, Jordan disavowed any further claim to it. The merit of Israel's claim thus far exceeds any other. By what standard are Jews "occupiers" for striving to settle these areas? By what justification should this land, Israel's ancient heartland, be exclusively Arab and forbidden to Jews?

Branding Israel an "occupier" is designed to engender overwhelming negative reaction to Israel and ultimately to delegitimize her. It places Israel, via comparison, alongside murderous military occupations. Israel's "occupation" is thus similar to Nazi Germany's occupation of eastern Europe, or Japan's occupation of China, or the Soviet Union's occupation of eastern Europe, all of which resulted in millions murdered and enslaved. Perpetrated by cruel and despotic dictators, these occupations were militarily invasions of sovereign countries for the purpose of murder, mayhem and subjugating the citizenry.

Israel's "occupation," by contrast, is led by Jewish families building new communities, schools, and houses of worship. These families have built the area's infrastructure anew and desire only to live in peace with all residents of the area. Branding Israel an "occupier" is designed to engender overwhelming negative reaction.Comparing such families settling their ancestral homeland to murderous Nazi, Japanese and Soviet armies is more than a lie; it's obscene.

In the final analysis, the lie of Israel as Occupier was created by the Oslo Accords. The Accords transformed Jewish families settling Israel's heartland into pariahs in the eyes of much of the world, and confusion as to where in Israel Jews would be permitted to live. Israel's friends began to wonder why Israel would surrender its heritage to an enemy sworn to destroy it. Most horrifically, Oslo brought about a reign of terror resulting in death and disfigurement to thousands of innocent Jewish men, women and children.

The most difficult issue facing Israel today is that of a hostile minority population, resentful of and refusing to live in peace with the ruling Jewish majority. Believing the surrender of Israel's heartland will bring peace is delusional. The issue will be resolved only when Israel's minority population recognizes the myriad advantages of living together peacefully with the Jewish majority. Israel needs new leadership with a new vision, one that is ready to proclaim Jewish sovereignty over all of Jerusalem and over Israel's historic heartland.

To sum up, Israel came into possession of these lands after being attacked by Jordan, Egypt and Syria in 1967. After a miraculous six days, Israel liberated these lands which form part of the ancient Jewish homeland. Jewish settlers soon moved in and Arab living conditions soon improved. The myth of the "occupation" was created to slander Israel. Arabs hated Jewish settlements long before '67 or even the founding of the state. Crazed Arab hordes killed Jews in bloody pogroms in 1921 and 1929. When Israel was founded, it was attacked by over one million Arab soldiers and endured decades of terror attacks until the Six Day War. Neither will giving land back bring peace. Suicide bombings only began after Israel showed itself ready to compromise in the Oslo Accords, kassams only began to fall on Sderot after Israel's 2005 Disengagement from Gaza ("occupation" free and judenrein for 2 years, little has improved) and the Second Lebanon War happened after Israel withdrawed from Southern Lebanon.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

What's in a name? - Parshat Shemot

What's in a name? A name is a paradox. On one hand, it represents something's essence. A person who is unconscious can be woken up by simply hearing their name. The name has a certain influence on how a person acts, how he will be perceived... On the other hand, a name is nothing but a label and has no effect on a person's being. If my name were John, Jacob or David, I would still have the same personality. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

This week's parsha begins with the words "These are the names of the Children of Israel who are going down to Egypt". The verse can be interpreted as that it is the names of the Children of Israel who are going down to Egypt, not the Children of Israel themselves. This is because the Israelites were only superficially slaves to Pharaoh, in exile, while their souls belonged to G-d and to G-d alone. No Jew can ever truly be enslaved or ruled by a tyrant since our allegiance is to no man. Only our names can be oppressed, conquered, but never our being.

During the long two-thousand year exile, when hordes of anti-semites or pogroms were on raging outside the gates, the Jews retreated into their Talmuds. As they saw their subjugated status, instead on being ashamed, the Jews remembered their glorious pasts, the kingdoms of David and Solomon, the splendor of the Temples. During the Holocaust, rabbis in ghettos and concentration camps continued to produce scholarly works, oblivious to the death and despair around them. Through the Torah, they were free from any oppression or danger. Even though we were exiled far away from our home, whenever ten Jews gathered to pray in a synagogue, they were in Israel. They prayed towards Zion, spoke the language of Israel, Hebrew, and learned of their majestic passed while dreaming of their glorious future. Even though anti-semites were determined to crush their spirit, the Jews escaped their terrible conditions and lived in peace in the world of Torah.

The Sages tells us that the Jews were redeemed from Egypt through virtue of the fact that they kept their Jewish language, Jewish names and Jewish clothing. In Egypt, they continued to speak Hebrew and regarded Egyptian as a foreign tongue, only speaking it under duress. They kept their Hebrew names and dressed modestly, even as the Egyptians walked around half-exposed in the hot climate. Through all of these, the Israelites were able to keep their indentity and gave their soul's allegiance to the G-d of Israel, even as their bodies were held captive in the Auschwitz of Egypt.

Jews, know that we are an eternal people and can never be broken. Today, we are free physically but spiritually we often gives ourselves over to false gods, to assimilation, to foreign influences. Only by submitting ourselves completely to G-d can we escape any physical tribulations. HaShem, the G-d of Israel is King, and His kingdom is over all governance!"

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Letter to a Skeptic- Part III

This is the third part of my correspondence with my skeptic friend. Scroll down to see the second and first parts. (Also, this will probably be my last post as I'm leaving tomorrow morning to go to Florida for two weeks, for some fun in the sun. I may post from there or visit you guys so be sure to check it.) Another PS: sign the Jewish Declaration to the World if you haven't already!

Dear BK,

Just a couple of notes.

1. We cannot believe the Torah is god given and divine just because the bible said so. It is a cyclical argument. Stylistically, it has many currents and linguistic evolutionary markers, that suggest it did not spring forth whole but was written by various authors at various times. It stands to reason that it was written by wise men, who are at once incredibly smart and fallible. The book itself cannot be viewed otherwise, it is a human construct of magnificent power, and it is fallible and full of contradictions [that, for me, add spice to the enterprise and make it all the more compelling and interesting].

2. For every survivor who remained a believer, there are a dozen who forsook god. Those who survived, every single one of them, did so because they had something to live for. Some lived for god. Some lived to see a sunset. Some lived to save a sibling or a child. Some lived for revenge. Those who had a reason to survive the unspeakable horrors, did so with the strength of faith in something, anything, and god was as good an object of that desire as any. Read “Fateless” you will see what I mean. Incidentally, if you want to read about the Holocaust- I have a library here that rivals the Jewish Public Library on the topic. You are invited.

3. Quoting Hitler in an argument is like pulling an Ace at every hand of a game. it is a red flag name, it trumps all others, it is the ultimate squelcher of all arguments. If Hitler said so, it must be proof positive. he was actually quoting Nitsche and other thinkers who were in vogue in his time. he was sorely uneducated and used their theories liberally to prove his own agenda. Try to find other examples. It is like comparing any genocide to the Holocaust, any despot to a Nazi, any war to a find a solution. That will not do. It is a facile tool and it proves nothing but the flimsiness of the foundational argument. We all have “agendas” in arguing our points of view. There is no need to stamp a Hitler mark on the opposite agenda in an attempt to discredit the ideas behind it. it is best to argue on a level playing field. Leave Hitler out.

4. The very fact that our lives are a brief blink of an eye, the very finality of our life, its temporary and fragile nature, lends us reason to make it meaningful, to invest this time with purpose. If there were an after life, if there were a heaven, then suicide bombing would be a reasonable course of action to take in attempting to hurry up and get there. The challenge is to invest the inherently fragile and short life with purpose, and that is different for each thinking person. Some find meaning in solitary pursuits like writing or painting or meditating. Some find purpose in reaching out to others, like educators and priests and nuns and nurses and saints. The challenge is to find such purpose independently, to seek out a meaningful path with no blueprint. It is a nasty thing to say, but most people are bovine. They go through life consuming food, defecating, procreating, perpetuating the species in the most basic manner. Few rise to the challenge to make a difference, to make a name for themselves, few are remembered past their natural life cycle [grandpa is a charming idea, but what has he left behind but mom and dad’s and our anecdotal memories and a few faded pictures. Know what I mean?]. if we are called to follow the religious blueprint, we do not necessarily err, but we are not free to seek a path of our own that has not yet been foreseen and foretold. Our uniqueness needs a chance to be born.

5. Jewish pretensions of moral supremacy are just that. Our liturgy is filled with vengeful words, our stance against women is deep rooted and has affected millions of Jews and Christians and Muslims in a chain reaction of narrow mindedness. Our book is filled with violence, often gratuitous. We are not as nice as we make ourselves to be. I am reading a book now about the “white slave trade” [a euphemism for trade in humans for prostitutions] that flourished in South America and Eastern Europe between 1860 and 1939. it was run by Jews, religious ones, and traded in Jews, and is a blight upon our moral sense of self that we often ignore. It is not a typical story of the way Jews conduct themselves in the world, but it is typical in the fact that we do not remember that which does not compliment us as a People. The parasha today deals with the narrative of the past. Yossef tells his brothers that the sale of his person was evil but it turned out okay under the circumstances. He retold the past to invest it with meaning, to make sense of it all. We do that all the time. the history is only what men say is the history. The narrative changes with the agenda of the teller and with the times. There is no past that is decoupled form the present- we see the past through attitudinal prisms of the here and now, of the why that guides our life. Our ancestors borrowed heavily from the nations around them, and found it difficult to separate themselves from them and become distinct. The bible is filled with stories of blood shed over the worship of other gods. Shlomo worshipped Ashtoret. The monotheistic tradition was imposed by the sward [Eliyahu] and was imposed on a reluctant people by force. The morality of our ancestors is not a white sheet of Mitzvot and altruism. The rap sheet of our sages is convoluted and gnarly and we must face those aspects with open eyes, to know that what makes us unique is the ability to stare at our visage and know the truth and yet act in a just way.

6. Being created in gods image is an anthropomorphic need of all humans. We invest our deities with faces we can relate to.

7. The Torah allows men to sell their daughters. It allows for slavery. We are slave traders just like the heathens. Our daughters could be sold for “temporary marriage”, they had no rights, were considered property- what freedom a woman’s life?

8. The reason despots suppress religion is not because of the inherent bad clashing with the inherent good. It is because the cult of personality demands exclusivity. A despot needs to become god. They create an alternate set of faith based images and rituals that serve their need to reign supremely. God interferes with such ambitions, because his institutions are longer lasting and have deeper roots. Smart despots are far and few between- there has yet to be one who is altruistic and wants to improve the lot of his people and offers them an alternate religion of hope. Inevitably the hunger for absolute power corrupts them absolutely. And then god comes back because people are used to his absolute type of reign…

9. Read Sam Harris!!!

Shabbat Shalom,


Shavua Tov,

Here are some more notes:

1. You can probably figure out why I gave you the Garden of Emuna but 'Listen World, Listen Jew' does not necessarily seek to convince you of His existence. Rav Kahane took G-d for granted, in a sense. The book gives a sweeping account of Jewish history from the Roman Exile until the founding of the State of Israel. I think that it is extremely important to recognize that, thank G-d, Jewish history did not end with the Holocaust, but we in our generation and the previous were witnesses to tremendous miracles. The Jewish experience provides one of the best proofs of G-d. Otto Von Bismark was once asked by the Kaiser to prove the existence of G-d. He replied, 'the Jews, your majesty, the Jews'.

2. The Torah is not true simply because the Torah says so. That is circular reasoning. I don't believe based on a blind set of ancient dogmas but on the fact that G-d collectively revealed Himself to our entire people at Sinai. It is a national experience that is engaved on our souls. Judaism is the ONLY religion that makes the claim that it started with 3 plus million people seeing one event. No other religion makes such a claim. Why not? Because you cannot convince 3 million people that they experienced something they didn't. That would be way beyond a conspiracy. The Torah testifies to the uniqueness of the Sinai Event. "For ask now of the days past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from the one end of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever a people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before thine eyes ?" (Deuteronomy 4:32-34). Please, if is such an easy story to make up, why is it unparalleled in all of human religion, belief or mythology?

As I'm sure you know that if even one letter in a Torah scroll is not kosher, the entire scroll is disqualified. As such, the Torah has never, ever been modified. The Midrash testifies that Moshe wrote 12 Torah scrolls which were kept in Jerusalem and against which all other Torah scrolls were checked. After the Destruction of the Second Temple, the Sages would occasionally perform global checks to "weed" out the unkosher Torahs. To prevent nonkosher Torahs, there are over 20 factors that affect its kashrut. Some guidelines are

- A Torah Scroll is disqualified if even a single letter is added.

- A Torah Scroll is disqualified if even a single letter is deleted.

- The scribe must be a learned, pious Jew, who has undergone special training and certification.

- All materials (parchment, ink, quill) must conform to strict specifications, and be prepared specifically for the purpose of writing a Torah Scroll.

- The scribe may not write even one letter into a Torah Scroll by heart. Rather, he must have a second, kosher scroll opened before him at all times.

- The scribe must pronounce every word out loud before copying it from the correct text.

- Every letter must have sufficient white space surrounding it. If one letter touched another in any spot, it invalidates the entire scroll.

- If a single letter was so marred that it cannot be read at all, or resembles another letter (whether the defect is in the writing, or is due to a hole, tear or smudge), this invalidates the entire scroll. Each letter must be sufficiently legible so that even an ordinary schoolchild could distinguish it from other, similar letters.

- The scribe must put precise space between words, so that one word will not look like two words, or two words look like one word.

- The scribe must not alter the design of the sections, and must conform to particular line-lengths and paragraph configurations.

- A Torah Scroll in which any mistake has been found, cannot be used, and must be fixed within 30 days, or buried.

This system worked throughout the thousands of years of exile, persecution and oppression. Out of 304,805 letters in the Torah, there have only been a variation of 9 letters which have no effect on the meaning of the words, on the part of Yemenite Jewry who did not have these global verification techniques. In contrast, a study of Christian Bible manuscripts has shown a total of 30 000 (!!) different readings. Are there any alternative Torah scrolls? Of course not since the Jews were meticulous about preserving G-d's word. As for contradictions, this is often the fault of bad translations. And about the supposed different writing styles, I can only answer that the Torah is not a history book but is intended to teach us eternal lessons. Therefore, G-d chose whichever writing style most condusive to getting the point across. The Author of Authors is hardly bound by a single writing style.

2. You're right about Hitler. Things are wrong or right on their own, regardless of what that wicked man said. I just thought that Hitler was the best and most forthright about why he hated the Jews.

3. You confuse the faults of other manmade religion like Islam and Christianity with Judaism. We live in a goyishe society so unfortunately we are exposed to ideas which we mistakenly hold to be Jewish. The Torah doesn't preoccupy itself with the World to Come and is empty of the promises of eternal pleasure (though of course they exist), comparatively with the Christian Bible or the Qu'ran. Pirkei Avot 4:22 teaches us that "Better one hour of repentance and good deeds in This world than the entire life of the World to Come; and better one hour of spiritual bliss in the World to Come than the entire life of This World". This teaches two amazing lessons. It means that this world is where we earn reward, grow and develop while in the Next World, we cash in our checks. This world is precious, where we enter the fray and get a chance to purify our souls to return to our Maker. That's why the ideology of the suicide bomber is repugnant. It (and Islam in general) is nihilistic, though this world is essential. King David echoed your sentiments about the apparent futility of life (don't forget that King David suffered tremendously, more than most people, yet was able to write the Tehillim which still give us comfort.) "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou thinkest of him? Yet Thou hast made him but little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour." (Tehillim 8:5-6). On one hand, we are absolutely nothing but on the other, we are made 'little lower than angels'. When we follow our own lusts, we are animals, yet when we follow the Torah, we subjugate our will and become even higher than angels who have no free will and evil inclination.

5. I won't pretend that Jewish history is perfect because it far from is. Also, I won't claim that violence and hatred are necessary evils, like Christianity claims. Judaism is all about balance. Peace and love are ideals but war and violence is sometimes necessary. In the words of King Shlomo, " To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven... A time to kill, and a time to heal;... A time to love, and a time to hate;... a time for war, and a time for peace." (Kohelet 3:1-8). But slavery as you think of it was hardly the case in ancient Israel. The Sages say that he who buys himself a slave buys for himself a master. The point was to rehabilitate a person who stole into society by giving him some sort of work, rather than let him languish behind bars. A Jew was only a slave (the better term is indentured servant) for a maximum of 7 years. There are many laws concerning him. If there is only one pillow or steak, it is to go to the slave. He received a wage and could not be oppressed. As for non-Jews, it was forbidden to cause a slave to lose an eye or a tooth, which allowed him to go free. Contrast this with the cruelty of Roman, Greek or even American slavery. I would suggest that you do not simply read the Biblical pshat but delve into the commentaries to understand and get a full picture of the laws of an indentured servant. I thought that I would bring for you the Rambam's words in the Mishne Torah about a Canaanite slave. I could only find it in Hebrew on the Internet but that shouldn't be a problem. Mishne Torah, Hilchot Avadim 9. (To those who don't read Hebrew: The Rambam writes that a Jew must not oppress his non-Jewish slaves since we are descendants of the merciful Patriarchs and we must also emulate the All-Merciful G-d. Psalm 145:9 "His mercy extends to all of His creatures".)

יב [ח] מותר לעבוד בעבד כנעני בפרך. ואף על פי שהדין כך, מידת חסידות ודרכי החכמה שיהיה אדם רחמן ורודף צדק, ולא יכביד עולו על עבדו ולא יצר לו, ויאכילהו וישקהו מכל מאכלו ומכל משקהו. חכמים הראשונים היו נותנין לעבד מכל תבשיל ותבשיל שהיו אוכלין, ומקדימין מזון הבהמות והעבדים על סעודת עצמן. הרי הוא אומר "כעיני עבדים, אל יד אדוניהם--כעיני שפחה, אל יד גברתה" ( תהילים קכג,ב). וכן לא יבזהו, לא ביד ולא בדברים: לעבדות מסרן הכתוב, לא לבושה. ולא ירבה עליו צעקה וכעס, אלא ידבר עימו בנחת, וישמע טענותיו. וכן מפורש בדרכי איוב הטובים שהשתבח בהן "אם אמאס--משפט עבדי, ואמתי: בריבם, עימדי. . . . הלוא בבטן, עושני עשהו; ויכוננו, ברחם אחד" ( איוב לא,יג-טו).

יג ואין האכזרייות והעזות מצויה אלא בגויים הערלים. אבל זרעו של אברהם אבינו, והם ישראל שהשפיע להם הקדוש ברוך הוא טובת התורה וציוום בחוקים ומשפטים צדיקים--רחמנים הם על הכול. וכן במידותיו של הקדוש ברוך הוא שציוונו להידמות בהם, הוא אומר "ורחמיו, על כל מעשיו" ( תהילים קמה,ט). וכל המרחם--מרחמין עליו, שנאמר "ונתן לך רחמים וריחמך והרבך" (דברים יג,יח).

Remember, never take the test at face value! That's a Christian thing, not a Jewish thing. Learn all of the commentaries if you want to understand a law. About the crimes of our ancestors, I have a good parable to share. (I'm sorry for all these parables and quotes but I think that they are the best way to get a point across.)

A soap maker once said to his rabbi, 'if I were you, I would get a new job. Just look at all of the people who claim to keep the Torah but are really dishonest'. The rabbi said nothing but went for a walk with the soap maker. They came upon a park and saw filthy kids playing in the mud. The Rabbi said, 'if I were you, I'd get a new job. Just look at all of those filthy kids!'. The soap maker shot up, 'that's not fair! My soap's perfect; people just aren't using it properly!'

Skeptic, the product is perfect; it's just man that corrupts it. We can't separate the mitzvot that are bein adam le'makom from those that are bein adam le'chavero. They're part and parcel of the instruction manual that G-d gave us. Both are essential to a moral society. Those who wrote the US Declaration of Independe understood this. 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' This right comes from the fact that no one has absolute power but G-d alone and that we can only serve Him. In contrast to the Christian idea that man is inherently sinful and can only be redeemed through G-d's grace, or the Islamic idea (Islam meaning submission) of being slaves to Allah, Judaism holds that man and G-d are partners and man therefore has self-worth.

6. Judaism is a revolution. In the ancient world, everyone knew that Pharaoh was created in the divine image, that he was the son of Ra. All emperors and kings were descendants of gods. Judaism came along and said that everyone, rich and poor, nobleman and commoner, are created in G-d's image and therefore has value. Same thing with the Exodus. Everybody knew that G-d was with the strong, with the mighty Egyptian empire, the conquerors. Judaism was revolutionary in that G-d allied Himself with the oppressed and weak, the Jewish nation of slaves, and rejected the powerful Egyptians.

7. Again, you are confusing Christianity with Judaism. Temporary marriages is a shi'a thing, not Jewish. While the goyyim were busy getting drunk and beating their wives, Jews respected theirs. On Friday night we say the eshet chayil and speak the praises of women. Just look at the marriage ketuba: all of the obligations fall on the man, to feed, clothe and make his wife happy. A man is commanded is honour his wife, to please her, is forbidden to criticize or hurt her. This has not always been the case clearly, but if we look directly at the laws themselves, they are very protective of women. The way in which men and women were created testifies to their equality. Woman was created out of man's half, implying that without her, he is defficient and lacking a half.

8. You prove my point. Everybody in life is slaves to something. We can either serve man, our own lusts, materialism, work, etc. our we can serve G-d, which gives man pleasure and fulfillment. Tyrants can't abide G-d's limits on their power. Look at what Pharaoh said to Moshe: "'Who is the LORD, that I should hearken unto His voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, and moreover I will not let Israel go." (Shemot 5:2)

9. Read Kahane's books! I heard the terrible things that people said about him, how he was called horrible things so I decided to buy his books and see what is was really about. Nowhere is there anything vaguely hateful or evil. He was a great Jewish visionary and was almost prophetic in what he said. His works can be found at, and they are truly inspiring. I recommend his article 'Why be Jewish'. It is a must read for every proud Jew.



Letter to a Skeptic- Part II

My skeptic friend wrote this back to me and I, obviously, answered her back. Tell me what you think.

Dear BK,

You assume morality is divinely inspired. And I think morality is an imperative. I think there is no race, color, creed, or other “them” category which differentiates me/you from others in the world. The imperative to help them does not emanate from Judaism [that often asks us to ignore human suffering if it is endured by non Jews, as in the laws of Shabbat], rather it emanated from a deep seated impulse to empathize with the weaker members in our “troop”. Many animals display the same type of behavior, ancient humanoids [like Neanderthals] displayed similar behaviors, and other cultures have long standing traditions of helping the meek and the needy. We often pretend we are the inventors of all that is good in “civilized” society, but we too adopted habits, customs, deities from other peoples that preceded us like the Hittites.

To say that ungodly men have wrought the worst suffering in our world is a truism. Nazism could not and would not have prospered were it not for two millennia of Church inspired xenophobia and cruel anti-Semitism. Nazism found fertile ground among populations that readily accepted the persecution of the Jews as a law of nature. One can cite longer lists of cruel men who brought misery upon other men, and who were inspired and “called” by their gods. Of course, the scale of murder is different, efficiency and industrialization are new concepts, and of course the size of populations is different [in 1700 there were only 600 million people in the entire world. Today there are 6.5 billion], and consequently the worst of the murderers are younger historically speaking. But they are not symptomatic of atheism, but of the avarice and cruelty of our species as a whole. What happened in Rwanda a few years ago [800,000 killed in 4 months] was accomplished in the name of tribal differences, with machetes. Men did that. It still happens today but we have grown accustomed to it. and more often then not god has something to do with the bloodshed. He is always given a role as the protector of the winners and the abandoning betrayer of the losers.

Have you read Sam Harris yet? I have two of his books. Letters to a Christian Nation is a quick read, a couple of hours, and I recommend it. but the better one is called The End of Faith. Read that one. Also a book by Karen Armstrong “The Spiral Staircase” is an excellent read. Not all atheists are barren morally or otherwise. Armstrong is a world renowned scholar of religion and has much to say on the subject. Harris is a more populist type of writer, but he is blunt and uncompromising and writes incredibly well. There are other writers who speak about these topics, and I have all their books. I think they contribute a great deal to the discourse on god and his supposed place in our civilization.

I lost my faith completely because of the Holocaust. I can tell you the story on Shabbat if you like. I was praying on a Rosh Hashana morning in 2005 and it struck me that 64 years to the day before that day 33771 men women and children were shot to death point blank in Babi Yar, screaming and crying the same words I was muttering to my god, their god. Who had abandoned millions. Who still abandons millions today. I began trembling, I cried, I went to the rabbi, then to several others to talk about this awful sense of having lost my faith. In what was I believing? Who was I praying top and what for? If he is so great, does he need a ‘worm’ like me to tell him how great he is? If he listens and takes an interest in our affairs, where is he when he is most needed? And if he is not there who am I speaking to? And how could he have let this happen? How can he let this happen still? Most rabbis said we do not know. Others dared say we somehow deserve the wrath for our sins [an abominable claim I cannot even dignify, which the Leubavitch Rebbe and many of his ilk promulgated and still do]. The sky is and has always been empty. What fills the sky is our mind’s need to seek a greater force beyond us. It is a human need for comforting daddies who will make it all right, for mother goddesses that will supply our needs. Men have written genius books, and offered us moral guidance we still follow. But to call the words they wrote divine is a cop out. I believe in a divinity that is a potential energy residing in our minds. Not in a supernatural being that hovers over the abyss of time and space making magic and miracles to amaze us and to boast of his powers. I believe in evolution, in facts, in science, in the ability of man to reach for the stars in all fields of human endeavors. But not in god.

Dear skeptic,

While I see your passion and your desire to improve the world, you have given me no concrete reason why an atheist should. In fact, since after all is said and done, we will all rot in a hole in the ground, why should I waste my life when I could be out taking what I want, 'survival of the fittest'. The Darwinian theory leaves no room for altruism or kindness, and if it exists it is only in a 'I'll scratch you back, you'll scratch mine' sort of way. I'll quote Hitler again: "The earth continues to go round, whether it's the man who kills the tiger or the tiger who eats the man. The stronger asserts his will, it's the law of nature. The world doesn't change; its laws are eternal." We can delude ourselves into believing that morality or fairness is a human concept but in reality "You established justice" (Tehillim 99:4). Just look at young children; they need to be taught to behave. Also, Judaism is unique among world religions in that not only Jews but non-Jews have a part to play in G-d's world. While Christianity holds that the 'unsaved' will burn in eternal hellfire and every 12th verse of the Qur'an speaks of the All-Merciful Allah throwing non-Muslims into rivers of fire, Judaism holds that "the righteous of all nations have a share in the World to Come". This "deep seated impulse to empathize with the weaker members in our "troop", as you call it, of course stems from the fact that we are created in G-d's image and that He ingrained mercy into us. However, it was the Torah that brought these qualities or values into the world. Before Avraham's moral and ethical revolution, the world was ruled by despots who believed that 'might makes right'. Avraham Avinu was born in Ur, governed by the wicked tyrant Nimrod and was a society awash in cruelty and slavery. In his time, the rich owned slaves who had absolutely no rights. Although the Torah does permit slavery (but does not mandate it) it gives many rights to slaves and orders that they be treated fairly. In fact, the idea of freedom comes from the Torah, that no man can own another man since we all have the same Father. The leaders of the Emancipation movement derived their support from the Torah. The ancient Jews were surrounded by pagan nations who sacrificed their children to idols, burnt their sons and daughters in honour of Molech, worshipped nature with sacred prostitution, orgies and other promiscuities while the Jews lived in a free society which, throught the Torah's social laws, had eliminated slavery, oppression, debt and poverty. Thanks to the influence of the Jewish people, these ideas are now accepted but don't think that that was always so. In the words of the prophet Micah, "O man, what is good, and what the LORD doth require of thee: only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." (Micah 6:8)

The Holocaust was not a crime that happened to be carried out by atheists but stemmed directly from Hitler's hatred of the Jewish idea of goodness and morality. The Hitler Youth sung a song that said " We are the joyous Hitler youth, We do not need any Christian virtue, Our leader is our savior, The Pope and Rabbi shall be gone. We want to be pagans once again." Hitler wanted to return to Germany's pre-Christian Teutonic days. The Church did have a role to play in this too but don't confuse the crimes of one particular faith with all faith in general. Remember the hundreds of churches, monasteries, nuns and priests who took Jews in out of a sense of duty. Why were the Ten Commandments given on two tablets? Because every commandment between man and G-d has a paralle between man and man. The first commandment between man and G-d is "I am the Lord You G-d" while the first between man and his fellow is "Thou shalt not murder". Both are essential to peace and mercy. Religion without morality offers you the Crusades, Inquistions or 9/11. On the other hand, morality without G-d gives you the Holocaust or the gulag. Nazi Germany had extremely harsh laws against cruelty towards animals while it callously murdered millions. This is an amazing example of G-dless morality! Why do you think the Soviet Union worked so hard to suppress religion?

As for Sam Harris, I haven't read his books though I have read some articles by Christophet Hitchens. Instead, I read a book with the complete opposite thesis. It is called 'the Garden of Emuna' written by a Breslover chassid in Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Arush which explains how belief in G-d adds sweetness and is essential to a healthy life. If you want, we could trade books tomorrow at shul.

I read a book, the Committed Life, written by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis. She is a Holocaust survivor who as a child was in Aushwitz and Bergen-Belsen along with her entire family. She comes from a long line of rabbis and today is the head of an outreach organization called Hineni. (Their site is Hineni). She tells the story how, when speaking at a public highschool for Yom HaShoah, one student asked here how she can continue to believe. Rebbetzin Jungreis told him how she never doubted G-d. She told how, in Bergen-Belsen, her saintly father, the chief rabbi of Szeged in Hungary, would never eat non-kosher food and how he would risk his life to perfom any mitzvah that she could. To quote her "If not G-d, what could I have believed in? Humanity? I may have been young, but I understood only too well that what the Nazis did to us had the tacit approval of the civilized world". You can look at the apparent silence of G-d or you could look at the thousands who risked their lives to light channukkah candles or pray in Auschwitz or those who sang Ani Maamin in the gas chambers. In the gas chamber, the shemah was found inscribed by nail by someone in their last moments. I cannot and will not excuse G-d, that is up to Him, but I do know that He is just. Eli Wiesel, who suffered through all of that, still lays on tefillin and still studies the Talmud. Think of the rebbes whose entire chassidic dynasties were wiped out but came to America or Israel with the hope of rebuilding them and teaching others about G-d. They did not lose faith! Do you think that anyone could have survived through the Holocaust if they had believed in 'the End of Faith' or' the G-d Delusion' instead of the Torah? Would the world be a better place if people turned to 'G-d is Not Great' in times of need? Even though this does not completely absolve G-d from any responsibility, He did give us free will. "Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if ye shall hearken unto the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day; and the curse, if ye shall not hearken unto the commandments of the LORD your God" (Devarim 11:26-27). Man committed the Holocaust, not G-d. (As a sidenote, you are very wrong about what the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l said about the Holocaust. He said the complete opposite! You can read the article 'What the Rebbe said (and didn't say about the Holocaust'. The basic point is that, having lost many relatives, it is extremely callous for a man to say why the Holocaust happened. Not even the Satan himself could find enough sins to merit such a genocide! Neither is punishment the only was to explain bad things in Judaism. Just a brief quote: "The Rebbe also said: Our outrage, our incessant challenge to G-d over what has occurred -- this itself is a most powerful attestation to our belief in Him and our faith in His goodness. Because if we did not, underneath it all, possess this faith, what is it that we are outraged at? The blind workings of fate? The random arrangement of quirks that make up the universe? It is only because we believe in G-d, because we are convinced that there is right and there is wrong and that right must, and ultimately will, triumph, that we cry out, as Moses did: "Why, my G-d, have you done evil to Your people?!""



Friday, December 21, 2007

Letter to a Skeptic

The news is getting a bit depressing and I'm feeling overwhelmed. As its almost shabbat, I thought that I would share with you a response that I recently wrote to an agnostic friend of mine. Enjoy and shabbat shalom.

Dear Skeptic,

I cringe whenever Judaism is reduced to a simply 'be nice' humanism. Judaism is more than just about being an ethical person. Christians can be ethical, as can Muslims, Buddhists, Shintoists or even atheists. Rather, Judaism is about inviting G-d into the world, making this world a more holy place. We are called upon to elevate the material into the spiritual. You write :" It makes no difference if there is a god or not, we are called to higher moral accountability by our faith, we are made to think about each and every action and act we engage in, no matter how trivial, and we are called to invest these actions and all our thoughts and deeds with "holiness" which, to me does not mean anything related to a deity, but holiness in the sense that it sets us apart, makes us think, makes us different than animals who merely exist and consume and procreate." However, I don't see how any of that is true without G-d. Why should I bother myself to help others? If we believe that we are simply evolved animals in a struggle of 'survival of the fittest', it is not in my best interest of helping somebody 'less fit' than me. Why should it be wrong to steal or right to give charity. If anything, if I am stronger, I have the right to take what I see fit. As for chairty, I shouldn't weaken myself for another as this contradicts our most basic drive to survive. In short, there is no 'good without G-d'. In the atheist world, one cannot say that murder is 'wrong' or kindness is 'good'. Not to insinuate that atheists are bad people, G-d forbid, but according to atheism, morality is simply a social construct which can change with time. During the time of the Greeks and Romans, weak babies were discarded in forlorn mountains and left to die. The Roman write Tacitus remarked with wonder that among the Jews 'It is a deadly sin to kill a born or unborn child'. See how morality is subject to change with time but with Torah, a G-d-based morality, it is fixed! In the atheist world, there is no accountability for our deeds and no real reason to do good as opposed to evil (or even if good and evil exist at all!).

Of course, religion has been used as an excuse for violence throughout history. Nontheless, the greatest of history's murderers and perpetrators of atrocities were motivated by atheism. Hitler (yimach shemo) said " The Jews have inflicted two wounds on the world: Circumcision for the body and conscience for the soul. I come to free mankind from their shackles." Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, all were no believer in G-d. None of these people felt any remorse for what they did because they had no fear of accountablity to a Heavenly Deity. Atheism offers no hope for a better future but only offers despair at a meaningless world deaf to your prayers. Without religion, people will find many more reasons to kill each other, whether it is race, colour or over a parking spot. The concept of world peace was only introduced to the world by the prophets of the Jewish people. The prophet Yishayahu (2:4) offers a beautiful future in which "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." He speaks of (11:6) the time when "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the basilisk's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."

Nobody can answer for G-d why there is so much suffering in this world. However, the fact that this suffering bugs us means that deep down we know that a Just G-d must exist who rules His world in fairness. Otherwise, against whom are we upset. Do we cry 'where are you?' to the emptiness of the godless universe? Questioning does not imply doubt. Avraham said to G-d "shall not the Judge of all the earth do justly?" (Bereishit 18:25). Moses cried out "Lord, wherefore hast Thou dealt ill with this people? Lama hareota la'am haze?" (Shemot 5:22) And yet, these were the greatest of believers. When Iyuv asked G-d to explain the suffering, G-d responded "Where were you when I laid the Earth's foundations...Can you send an order to the clouds for an abundace of water to cover you?... Can you hunt prey for the lion and satisfy the apetite of the king of the beats. Is it by your wisdom that the hawk grows pinions, spreads his wings to the south?" You may call G-d's answer a cop-out but I think that we should remember that, just like someone who sees a second of a movie cannot judge the entire film, so too we can't judge G-d's Justice from our limited viewpoint. We must question, ask for G-d to explain Himself, but in the end we need faith.

"The end of the matter, all having been heard: fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole man. For G-d shall bring every work into the judgment concerning every hidden thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil" (Kohelet 12:13)

I'm also sorry to bend your eye. I can go on and on too.



Cross-posted to Goat's Barnyard

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Patriarch calls for the dismantling of the Vatican

"If there's a state of one religion, other religions are naturally discriminated against," Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah told reporters at the annual press conference he holds in Jerusalem before Christmas. He went on to say how the Vatican should abandon its Catholic character in favor of a "political, normal state for Christians, Muslims and Jews." The Patriarch called for the dismantling of the Holy See, the world's Catholic theocracy, and said that he hoped that it would be replaced with a multicultural state since "God made this land for all three of us".

Well, actually, he didn't. Patriarch Michel Sabbah, speaking to reporters in a pre-Christmas address, said that Israel should discard its Jewish status and become a secular 'state of all its citizens'. "This land cannot be exclusive for anyone," he said, adding that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had unleashed "forces of evil" across the Middle East and that it was Israel's obligation, as to end the warring. "The one who will decide is Israel. If Israel decides for peace, there will be peace… Until now, there has been no peace, simply because there has been no willingness to make it." No willingness for peace? Maybe the honourable Patriarch could explain what the releasing of hundreds of Arab terrorists or sending weapons and finances to the PA was meant to be. And of course the reason why 10 children are to be treated for trauma after a kassam rocket fell close to their elementary school is Israel. Its because Israel wasn't willing to make peace, not that Arab terrorists launched rockets at an elementary school (!!).

The Holy See has never been too comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state anyways. According to a letter from the U.S. Archives, at the height of the Holocaust, Pope Pius XII informed U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt that he was opposed to Palestine becoming a Jewish homeland. In 1943, this Pope of Love wrote, “It is true that at one time Palestine was inhabited by the Hebrew race, but there is no axiom in history to substantiate the necessity of a people returning to a country they left nineteen centuries before. If a ‘Hebrew Home’ is desired, it would not be too difficult to find a more fitting territory than Palestine. With an increase in the Jewish population there, grave new international problems would arise.” Jewish presence will increase problems, just like the Jews in Sderot caused rockets to fall on their homes and schools. Those Christ-killers deserved it! While the Vatican couldn't busy itself to protest the murder of millions of Jews and as the Pope sat silently while the Jews of Rome were rounded up under his nose, he somehow found the time to denounce the Jewish state. Of course, it was official church doctrine that the Jews were the rejected people, accursed by G-d, and never to return to Israel. And despite asking for forgiveness for the two thousand years of Catholic oppression, the previous Pope failed to condemn Arab terror and only did so in terms of 'excesses on both sides'. He also helped propagate the lie of deicide. Pope John Paul II, after seeing Mel Gibson's Passion, said 'it is as it was'. It is as it was? The hook-nosed, scraggly-bearded perfidous Jews with dark circles under their eyes portrayed by Gibson, an image right our of Der Strumer, as conspiring to murder JC were as it was? The passion play was the direct cause of rivers of Jewish blood. Hitler addressing the world at the passion plays of Oberammergau in 1942 said: “’His blood be on us and our children...’ (Matthew 27:25), maybe I’m the one who must execute this curse.... I do no more than join what has been done for more than 1,500 years already. Maybe I render Christianity the best service ever!”

One would think that after oppressing and torturing us for two millenia and then remaining silent and in some cases helping wipe us out in Europe, the Church would be happy that the Jews are out of their hair and living in Israel. Instead, the Vatican has supported the creation of "Palestine", a country that Arabs would like to see take the place of Israel. Arabs can of course have an all-Arab Islamic state to which the Church would never object but the Jewish state, in which Arabs are citizens, must be striped of its Jewish identity. I'm sure that the Patriarch took the apostle Paul's address to heart (Thes. 2:14) "For ye, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judaea in Christ Jesus: for ye also suffered the same things of your own countrymen, even as they did of the Jews; who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove out us, and pleased not God, and are contrary to all men; forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their sins always: but the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost."

The Patriarch should take his self-righteousness and direct it towards the countries that really discriminate towards Christians. How about Saudi Arabia where the 1 million Christian living there (mostly Filipino maids) are forbidden from praying publicly or where non-Muslims are forbidden to go to Mecca? Or all of those Islamic countries like Morocco, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Maldives, Indonesia... whose constitutions state that they are Islamic countries. He should take note of where churches are bombed and Christian face harrassment- the Arab-inhabited territories. Not only would this Patriarch benefit from opening up a Jewish Bible (you know, that "Old" version) but he could learn some history as well. In 2002, Arab terrorists hid in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The priests inside it spoke about how the terrorists desecrated the Church, destroyed Bibles... No Jew has ever done such a thing! Shame on the Patiarch! Shame!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Where are You? Arise!

The Tenth of Tevet isn't simple a day to commemorate a historical occurence. The siege of Jerusalem wasn't something that happened thousands of years ago. The siege continues today, as long as Jews aren't in full sovereingty over our entire land, and as long as this like this continue:

From Arutz-7:

Jewish worshippers Tuesday were stunned to find Arabs had desecrated the graves of the Biblical Joshua, Caleb and Nun (Joshua’s father).

Joshua served as the Jewish Nation's Prime Minister from the year 2488 until 2516 on the Hebrew calendar (1272 BCE - 1300 BCE).

Members of the One Shechem organization that organizes visits to the graves arrived in the village of Timnat (Kifl) Haress, near Ariel in Samaria, to prepare for a special prayer gathering, discovered that Arab vandals had desecrated the village’s Jewish tombs. The tombs of Yehoshua (Joshua) ben Nun, Nun, and Calev (Caleb) ben Yefuneh were covered with garbage and feces – both human and animal, and anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans and symbols had been painted in the area.

Nevertheless, worshippers gathered at the tombs Tuesday night for special prayers on the tenth of Tevet, the day Kaddish and other prayers are recited for those whose date of death is unknown, such as Calev ben Yefuneh. Organizers had cleaned up the damage and attendees reported a positive experience.

Hamas flags were flying over the tomb of Yehoshua, the conquerer and liberator of Israel! This desecration cannot continue. The day will come when Yehoshua will again liberate the Land.

Tehillim 44:

"For the Leader; [a Psalm] of the sons of Korah. Maschil. O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us; a work Thou didst in their days, in the days of old. Thou with Thy hand didst drive out the nations, and didst plant them in; Thou didst break the peoples, and didst spread them abroad. For not by their own sword did they get the land in possession, neither did their own arm save them; but Thy right hand, and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance, because Thou wast favourable unto them. Thou art my King, O God; command the salvation of Jacob. Through Thee do we push down our adversaries; through Thy name do we tread them under that rise up against us. For I trust not in my bow, neither can my sword save me. But Thou hast saved us from our adversaries, and hast put them to shame that hate us. In God have we gloried all the day, and we will give thanks unto Thy name for ever. Selah! Yet Thou hast cast off, and brought us to confusion; and goest not forth with our hosts. Thou makest us to turn back from the adversary; and they that hate us spoil at their will. Thou hast given us like sheep to be eaten; and hast scattered us among the nations. Thou sellest Thy people for small gain, and hast not set their prices high. Thou makest us a taunt to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us. Thou makest us a byword among the nations, a shaking of the head among the peoples. All the day is my confusion before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me, For the voice of him that taunteth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and the revengeful. All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten Thee, neither have we been false to Thy covenant. Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from Thy path; Though Thou hast crushed us into a place of jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death. If we had forgotten the name of our God, or spread forth our hands to a strange god; Would not God search this out? For He knoweth the secrets of the heart. Nay, but for Thy sake are we killed all the day; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Awake, why sleepest Thou, O Lord? Arouse Thyself, cast not off for ever. Wherefore hidest Thou Thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly cleaveth unto the earth. Arise for our help, and redeem us for Thy mercy's sake."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tenth of Tevet

"Master of the world, the people of Israel are your tephillin; when a simple Jew drops his tephillin on the ground, he picks them up and kisses them. When the people of Israel suffer and are thrown in the dust, isn't it proper that you should pick them up and kiss them?" --Rebbe Levi Yitschak of Berditshev, Ukraine, late 1700's

Tomorrow is the fast of the Tenth of Tevet which marks the day that the wicked Babylonians and Romans began the siege of Jerusalem, the beginning of the end for the First and Second Temples. The Sages declare that every generation in which the Temple is not rebuilt is like the generation in which it was destroyed. Due to our many sins, the Temple has not yet been rebuilt, namely because we have failed 'to set Jerusalem above my highest joy' (Tehillim 137:6). Unfortunately, the Israeli government has not learnt this holy lesson and is prepared to sacrifice Jerusalem.

As long as we don't have a Temple, we are in exile. The Jewish people are in exile physically since we are still endangered and besieged by our enemies, and the world as a whole is in the spiritual exile of agnosticism, heresy, doubt and meaninglessness. When the Temple will be rebuilt, G-d's presence will be manifest on Earth and we will all bask in His glory.

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst thereof we hanged up our harps. For there they that led us captive asked of us words of song, and our tormentors asked of us mirth: 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.' How shall we sing the Lord'S song in a foreign land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my chiefest joy. Remember, O the Lord, against the children of Edom the day of Jerusalem; who said: 'Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.' O daughter of Babylon, that art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that repayeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the rock."

May we merit the rebuilding of Jerusalem, of the Holy Temple, and may Hashem comfort Zion speedily in our days. Hashem, pick up Your holy tefillin and bring us home. Amen, ken yehi ratzon!

PS Sign the Jewish Declaration to the World and "raise Jerusalem above your highest joy"

Cross-posted to Goat's Barnyard

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Declaration of the Jewish People to the World

(by Rafael V. Rabinovitch)

To the Nations of the World

We, the Jewish people, both in Eretz Yisrael and in the various places of our exile, hereby declare:

1. That the Jewish People are the sole heirs to the Land of Israel, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea;

2. That all the Jewish people, each and every Jew, and only the Jews, have the right to return to the Land of Israel;

3. That the Jewish People have the right and duty to settle the Land of Israel in its entirety, to work the land, to build industry on it, and to do so respecting its holiness as the Torah commands;

4. That any individual Jew, even with the claim of representing the Jewish people, the people and/or government of Israel, or any representative or ruling authority; has no right to give away the collective right of the Jewish people over the Land of Israel;

5. That we will not accept any declaration, agreement, legislation, court ruling or decree that contradicts our right to the Land of Israel. This includes any instance where our right is only partially recognized, or where another people or entity alien to our people is said to share rights over the Land of Israel;

6. That the name of our land is the Land of Israel, Eretz Yisrael, and that we do not recognize the sovereign validity of any name imposed by foreign conquerors, or any people called after such imposed name;

7. That the capital of the Land of Israel is the entire city of Jerusalem, and that this is an unconditional truth not subject to debate or negotiation. No other people or entity of any sort has sovereign rights over that city, and even the collection of all the nations of the world has no such right;

8. That the Temple Mount is our most Holy place, and that no one has the right to violate its holiness and physical integrity. The remains of the First and Second Temple shall not be touched unless it is for the specific purpose of building the Third Temple;

9. That the State of Israel has the duty to keep the Land of Israel on Jewish hands, and any violation of this duty is to us of no validity. We do not recognize any territorial concession, and no peace may come from such thing.

Jews and non-Jews please sign this petition and G-d willing, the world will hear our voice. Post this declaration on your blogs and help propagate the Jewish message!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Moshiach's Hat

Our Sages tells us that the First Temple was destroyed because of idolatry, bloodshed and sexual immorality while the Second Temple was destroyed due to sinat chinam, causeless hatred. The Geula, Redepemption, will only come through the rectification of this sin, through Ahavat Yisrael, love of Israel, the people of Israel, the land of Israel and the Torah of Israel.

(Hat tip to Yehudi01)

"You must love your neighbor as you love yourself." Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:18

The Rambam writes (Hilchot De'ot 6:3):
"It is a mitzva for every Jew to love every other Jew like his own self... Therefore a person must praise his fellow Jew and be careful with his property the same way he is careful with his own property and desires to be treated respectfully. Whoever seeks honor through his neighbor's shame has no portion in the World-to-Come..."

Sefer HaChinuch writes (Mitzva 243 [219]):
"It is a mitzva to love every Jew deeply."

Our Sages said (Eliyahu Rabbah 28):
So said G-d to Israel: "My children! Have I failed to give you anything? What do I ask of you? Only that you love, respect and revere one another, and that you avoid all sin, theft and unseemly behavior."

"The offspring of Your servant David may You cause to flourish, and enhance his pride through Your salvation, for we hope for Your salvation all day long. Blessed are You, Hashem, Who causes the pride of salvation to flourish."

Proudly Calling for Genocide

Does anybody still doubt the real intentions of the Pseudostinians? This program was produced by the "moderate" Palestinian Authority, Abbas' own Fatah. Know that "Palestine" is simply a codeword for the wholesale murder of the Jewish People.

From Arutz-7:

The Palestinian Authority's Al-Aksa TV broadcasts, produced by Hamas, include children's programming that calls for the genocide of the "people of Zion."

On December 3, 2007, a Hamas children's show broadcast on PA TV featured an impassioned speech by a young boy of approximately nine years old. Speaking in the style of many Islamist preachers, and with an image of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem as a background, the boy declared that the only way to "rescue" the Al-Aksa Mosque from Israel, America and their allies is "by means of force."

According to a transcript provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the boy told his presumably child viewers that "the Al-Aksa Mosque has fallen into oppressing and malicious hands, the hands of those who know nothing but injustice." Describing the Jerusalem mosque as in "the shackles of the occupation," despite the fact that it is under Muslim Wakf control, the boy went on to say:

"But let me tell you how the Al-Aksa Mosque will be returned, how we shall rescue it from the shackles of the occupation, from the shackles of the Zionist entity. Will it be through conferences? No, not through conferences, but by means of force, because the Zionist entity, your enemy, the enemy of Allah, the enemy of Islam, knows nothing but injustice and the killing of Palestinians, the persevering people on the frontline. Indeed, the [mosque] will be returned only by means of force."

"But look what the Zionist enemy has done, look what Israel and America have done. Look what the allies of Israel and America have done. They have dug tunnels underneath the Al-Aksa Mosque, but the sheikhs and mujahideen of the Al-Aksa Mosque have exposed these tunnels and called upon the Palestinian people: 'Look what has happened, look what has happened.'

"These calls have gone unheeded, my beloved brothers. But is it too late? No, it is not too late. If we all unite, the Al-Aksa Mosque will not remain in the hands of the Zionist enemy, it will not remain in the hands of your enemy, despite all their conspiracies against the Palestinian people."

Later in the programming, a similarly young girl recited a poem that included the lines: "To Al-Aksa, to Al-Aksa - we shall unite our ranks. We will wipe out the people of Zion, and will not leave a single one of them."

This is by no means unique to Fatah. Hamas' Charter, quoted from the Muslims ahadith, speaks of the massacre of the Jews as a prerequisite of the final Hour. "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him..." Hizballah's Hassan Nasrallah has said that "if they [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” Similarly, a 1992 Hizballah statement vowed “open war until the elimination of Israel and until the death of the last Jew on earth.”

These are the same people with whom Olmert is negotiating "peace" (of the grave) talks, the same people who have fired thousands of kassam rockets into Sderot. They have no desire to make peace but to kill every last Jew. Therefore, it is the government of Israel's reponsibility to prevent that and has the moral responsibility and obligation to expel this population of murderers.

The average age in Gaza is 16 years old. Does anybody believe that a pseudo-nation of illiterate, poor teenagers raised on a steady diet of hate and taught that if he murders a Jew, that he will be rewarded eternally with 70 virgins to abuse and brutalize, that such a people are able to make peace and co-exist with the Jews?

Cross-posted to Goat's Barnyard

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Virulent Disease

"Why was the Torah given on a mountain called Sinai? Because of the great sinah- the tremendous hatred- that emanated onto the nations of the world from there" (Tractate Shabbos 89)

Tom Lehrer's folksong "National Brotherhood Week" says:

Oh the Protestants hate the Catholics,
and the Catholics hate the Protestants,
and the Hindus hate the Moslems
and everybody hates the Jews.

Anti-semitism is the most virulent and deeply-rooted forms of hatred and is commonplace in every single culture and religion. It has an amazing way of transforming itself to suit each new age or epoque and to make itself a part of each new ideology or paradigm. In the ancient world, the Jews were thought to be xenophobic, intolerant of pagan religions. Judaism, and the moral code that it espoused, were hated by the promiscuous and immoral societies which surrounded it.

Christians made anti-semitism an integral part of their theology as well. Their god was a Jew, based himself on Jewish scriptures and aimed his message at the Jews- and yet they rejected him! In retaliation, Jesus tells his worshippers “Behold I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews and are not but do lie; behold I will make them to come and worship before thy feet...” (Revelation 3.9) The strongest homilies against the Jews are found in the writings of "Saint" John Chrysostom who writes: "The Jews are the most worthless of all men. They are lecherous, rapacious, greety. They are perfidious murderers of C. They worship the Devil. Their religion is a sickness. The Jews are the odious assassins of C and for killing God there is no expiation possible, no indulgence or pardon. Christians may never cease vengeance, and the Jew must live in servitude forever. G-d always hated the Jews. It is essential that all Christians hate them." The Church was furious at how the Jews who were very knowledgeable and learned in Scriptures rejected "their" messiah who was so evidently alluded to by the prophets. They charged that G-d replaced the Jewish people and the Church was the "New Israel". The Church spilled rivers of Jewish blood across the centuries during the Crusades, Inquistions, pogroms, expulsions and Holocausts. Even the Protestant reformers continued Christinity's legacy of hatred and judeophobia. Martin Luther, who protested much of Catholic doctrine, was on common ground with the Pope concerning the Jews. Martin Luther, father of Protestantism and whom these "Hebrew" Christian orgnaizations will never condemn, recommended harsh measures to deal with "this rejected and condemned people". "First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them." He advocated forbidding the rabbis to teach, burning the Talmud and synagogues and many cruel methods to destroy the Jews.

In the Islamic world, although Jews do not play as heavily in their theology as in Christianity, the Jews were still seen as an accursed people who had incurred the wrath of Allah. Muhammad originally ordered Muslims to pray towards Jerusalem and to fast on Yom Kippur, in the hopes that the Jews accept him as a prophet. When they refused, Muhammad changed the direction of prayer towards Mecca and imposed many restrictions on the Jews. Muhammad claimed that the Jews rebelled against their prophets, were arrogant, miserly, rejected and lying hypocrites. The fatiha, Islam's most basic prayer, beseeches Allah to guide Muslims to "the straight path", "not (the path) of those upon whom Thy wrath is brought down", the Jews. The Jews were not necessarily to be killed (though that featured in eschatological beliefs) but to be humilated, subjugated and demeaned.

When religion lost its influence, anti-semitism did not disappear but took on a new form- racial hatred. Where the Jew could once be saved by simply converting to another faith, the new anti-semitism held that the Jew was of an inferiour race and sought to pollute the pure Aryan race. He was a parasite and had to be dealt with accordingly. This perverted belief led to the death of 6 million Jews in the fires of the Holocaust, as the world stood silent.

Today, except for in the Islamic world, the belief that Jews are 'C-killers' is not acceptable. In public discourse, no legitimacy is given to the idea of the inferiour semitic race. However, anti-semitism is far from gone. The traditional anti-semitism of the past has been replaced with the rabid anti-Zionism that is evident in the world's hatred of the Jewish State. While in public one will not hear 'Death to the Jews' (except of course by the Muslims), the call of 'Death to the Zionists' is acceptable and is even made in mainstream universities. Instead of killing Christian babies to use their blood in matzot, Israeli soliders murder Arab children indiscriminately. No longer plotting world domination by the Elders of Zion, the US is a pawn of Israel and went to war to protect its interests.

Anti-Zionism is a deadly new form of anti-semtism and one that has intense legitimacy in the eyes of the elitist left. Anti-Zionism is the denial of a homeland to an entire nation simply because they are Jews. It is also the legitimization of the murder of Jews in Israel by painting Israel as a colonialist apartheid state. If the Jews are invaders, the natives have every right to use any means to repel them. In this vein, the anti-Zionist shrugs when he hears that Jews have been blown to shreds in a bus bombing or a toddler shot in the head by an Arab murderer, just as the world responded apathetically to the news that entire communities were being shot or gassed in Europe. Israel is expected to remain calm in the face of overwhelming hatred and constant attacks and to never retaliate, for fear of using "disproportionate force", as if a country can only kill 5 enemies if 5 of its citizens have been killed.

Every time the anti-Zionist clamours about Israeli "apartheid" practices or "war crimes", he is wishing to see the smoke rising from the chimneys of Auschwitz (G-d forbid). When he speaks about "Palestinian" "resistance", he is getting ready for the Final Solution to the Zionist Problem. Do not be fooled! Despite his slick and articulate words and flowery talks of peace and freedom, he remains a wolf in lamb's clothing. "Thine enemies are in an uproar; and they that hate Thee have lifted up the head. They hold crafty converse against Thy people, and take counsel against Thy treasured ones. They have said: 'Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.' For they have consulted together with one consent; against Thee do they make a covenant; The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab, and the Hagrites; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also is joined with them; they have been an arm to the children of Lot." (Psalm 83) They plot the destruction of the Jewish people!

Anti-Zionism must not be given forum to speak and anti-Zionists must not be given liscence to spread their hateful poison. It is in essence a rationalization for genocide (G-d forbid). One cannot claim to be pro-"Palestine" and pro-Israel at the same time because "Palestine" is merely a euphemism for the wholesale slaughter of the Jewish people. And to that I say: 'Never Again!'

Cross-posted to Goat's Barnyard

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Spiritual Holocaust

(Hat tip to Yehudi01)

Stronger nations have come and gone but the Jews are still here. What is really threatenning, however, is the spiritual holocaust of assimilation and intermarriage. In the past 10 years, over 2 million Jews have been lost, and nobody raises a peep.

Tonight, on the 6th night of Chanukkah, it is time to redefeat Hellenism and recommit to Hashem's Torah.

Fool me twice...

Of course all Arabs are loyal citizens! They would never dream of betraying Israel. They co-exist there peacefully as equals and brothers. Of course, their representatives in the Knesset have different ideas...

From Arutz-7:

MK Said Nafa of the Balad Party is to be questioned by police Sunday regarding his visit to Syria a number of months ago. Nafa's request to visit Syria, which is technically at war with Israel, was rejected this past September by the Interior Ministry, yet he went anyway.

Nafa entered the Knesset several months ago to replace former Balad party leader Azmi Bishara, who escaped to Syria under suspicions of having committed treason. Just last week, an Arab money changer in eastern Jerusalem admitted paying Bishara $390,000 for information on behalf of Hizbullah; Bishara allegedly recommended Haifa-area targets for Hizbullah to attack during last year's Second Lebanon War.

Another Arab MK of the Balad Party, Jamal Zahalka, is openly against Israel's Jewishness. Speaking at a recent event in honor of the 40th anniversary of the creation of the PFLP terrorist group, Zahalka said that the PA must change its official stance which currently favors “two states for two peoples" - because this implies that while a new state will be Arab, Israel is a Jewish state.

At the same time, Zahalka stated that the Arabs of Israel and of Judea/Samaria are of one nationality. “Those of us ‘inside’ [Israel] refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish country,” he explained. “[Israel] demands this in order to gain legitimacy to expel our people and to steal the rights of the Palestinian people ‘on the inside’... The various factions must work together. We must protect national Palestinian unity, because it is the most important thing we have.”

Saturday night, Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh (Hadash party) spoke at an Arab event in Nazareth and slammed the Jewish State of Israel as “a sword on our necks.” “Israel received its Jewishness via the expulsion of the Palestinian people,” said the Israeli lawmaker. “We must solve the problem by clinging to our roots” - impyling that the Arabs of Israel and of Judea/Samaria have common roots and a common future. Barakeh and other Hadash party leaders received messages of support from PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, imprisoned arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

So let's keep score: 4 Arab MKs- 2 are against Israel's Jewish character, 1 visited an enemy country (and one fled to an enemy country following a war) while one is whining about "racism".

At the same time, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has released its annual "racism" report, as always, divorcing cause from effect. One such example is their claim that 75% of Jews in Israel do not want to live in the same building as Arabs- though the report failed to mention the dangers associated with this. The ACRI report criticizes 'racial profiling' at airports, ignoring the fact that Jews, obviously, don't hijack or bomb airliners. Knesset proposals to have voting rights dependent on military or national sevice is also 'racist', because it would be ridiculous to assume that someone should be loyal to the country in which he lives and votes for its future.

Similarly, the demand that Arab government ministers and MKs must pledge allegiance to the Jewish State is considered "racist," as is the proposal that Jewish National Fund lands be appropriated only to Jews. The plight of 80,000 Bedouin in the Negev is noted, wherein Israel is in the process of recognizing nine villages while "ignoring tens of others" and establishing 30 Jewish farms in the Negev.

The Left's Newspeak is insane and suicidal. If anyone points out the inherent contradictions and problems that will arise from the Jewish State having a large and hosile Arab minority, such as Rabbi Kahane HY"D, they are a "racist". Its similar to how Americans who want border control are branded as racists.

I doubt that the report criticized the policy of forbidding Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount or sermons by imams calling on Muslims to wipe out the 'sons of pigs and monkeys'. The report did not even mention the inherent "racism" of suicide bombers who murder Jews simply because they are Jews. It didn't speak about the racism of the murderers of Ido Zoldan, a Jewish father in Judea and Samaria.

If the Arabs have a problem with the accomodations, I hear that life's just great in Jordan...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Moderate Murderers

Here are our "moderate" peace partners:

Palestinian Authority radio contest featured a laudatory biography of Adolf Hitler replete with his military victories, heroism and no mention of the Holocaust.

"His golden year was 1940, when his armies invaded Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Holland, and Belgium and defeated France…By mid 1942, his country controlled the largest land area in Europe…He refused to surrender and continued to fight for two more years, but, his bitter end came in the spring of 1945 when he took his own life…Who is he?" was the question broadcast as a Voice of Palestine radio contest on November 27.

The question was part of the official Palestinian Authority-run radio’s Ramadan quiz - rebroadcast this past week, and documented by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW).

The broadcast presents Hitler heroically, detailing his two Medals of Honor in World War I, his rise to power, his launching of World War II and specifies country after country that he conquered.
(From Arutz-7)

Before you listen to a Pseudostinian claim that there was no Holocaust or that Germany should be made to pay, not them, consider the ties between the Nazis and the Arabs of "Palestine". The chief Islamic authority during the War, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem, was a great admirer of Hitler, spent the war years with him in Germany, thwarted plans to allow Jews to immigrate to Israel and escape the Nazis, helped recruit Bosnian Muslims to join the SS and planned to build a death camp modeled on Auschwitz near Shechem (Nablus), among other things. "Arise, o sons of Arabia," he exhorted his avid pro-Nazi followers. "Fight for your sacred rights. Slaughter Jews wherever you find them. Their spilled blood pleases Allah, our history and religion. That will save our honor."

Not to be outdone by the Arabs, the IDF is now disarming Israeli settlers in Judea and Samaria- not like there's any use for weapons there.

The IDF is conducting a large scale operation to confiscate weapons from the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, according to Channel 10 TV. The purpose of the operation is described as "putting the settlers' gun permits in order."

The security coordinators of the communities in Samaria have been summoned to a meeting with IDF officers Thursday, and community leaders are convinced that the IDF intends to collect many of the weapons in the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
(From Arutz-7)

No danger at all... like this:

Two Israeli-Arabs from Jaljulia, aged 17 and 21, were indicted in a district court in Tel Aviv on Thursday for planning to carry out terrorist attacks as part of al-Qaeda's calls for worldwide jihad.

The two are accused of planning to stab an IDF soldier at the Kfar Qassem junction in order to steal his weapon and use it to shoot at other soldiers at the intersection.

The pair was arrested during a joint operation by the Shin Bet, Border Police and Police special forces unit.

Both men also admitted to planning to knife a security guard at the entrance to the Sde Hemed community. They planned to enter the town with the stolen weapon in order to shoot at community residents.
(From Ynet News)

These two men were Israeli citizens, not poor oppressed Pseudostinians. They have more political rights than any Arabs in any Arab country, a higher living standard and all the advantages and privileges that Israeli democracy entails. When will the Israeli elite realize that democracy and a higher quality of life will not make the Arabs love us? The Arabs believe that Israeli belongs to them and they will never be satisfied until that happens. Such a thing (G-d forbid) will never happen so it is foolish to try to placate and accomodate them. Their human rights must be protected but should they wish to exercise their political determination, they are free to do so in any of the 22 Arab countries. The door is thataway...

Cross-posted to Goat's Barnyard