Friday, January 19, 2018

From Ian:

Enjoy the moment
The Western world embraced our book of books and 2,000 years of Christianity have been characterized by an obvious (though one-sided) competition for the title of "the chosen people" and disputes over how to interpret the Bible. But not in India. The Bible holds no significant presence in the history and practice of Hindu culture. They have their own sacred texts, a pantheon of gods and goddesses, their own intricate mythology, philosophy, religious faith, methods of worship and a way of looking at things that is, at times, radically different than ours.

One ancient culture that worships one god versus another ancient culture that sanctifies a vast plurality of gods. Each approach profoundly influences the way of life and character of a culture. That is why there is no anti-Semitic baggage in the history of the relations between our two peoples. The world does not distinguish between Israel and the Jewish people, contrary to what our enemies may mendaciously claim. They say that they "don't hate Jews" only "Zionists." But in India, conversely and positively, they actually don't make the distinction.

Listening to Modi speak, I often heard ancient refrains behind his iron words that echoed the sentiments expressed by our own exiled forefathers – "we were as dreamers" – when they spoke about returning to Zion.

"Then said they among the nations: 'The Lord hath done great things with these" (Psalms 126). In historical terms, "these," meaning us, were ashes and dirt just a moment ago, when we returned to Zion. Now, a nation of 1.3 billion people is actively seeking a partnership with us. Right before our eyes, Israel is turning into a world player.

In one of his speeches, Netanyahu noted our commitment not only to ourselves, but also to serve as a light unto the nations. The rest of the Psalms verse mentioned above talks about what happens to us after the nations express awe at our good fortune. "We rejoiced," the verse says. It is okay to rejoice at Israel's success in the world. For one short minute, let us set aside our well-known Israeli cynicism – the product of many disappointments – and enjoy the moment. We were as dreamers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu loved every moment of his visit to India: from the warm welcome he received from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to the defense and business pacts they signed, to the visit to the Taj Mahal, to the food.

Yes, Netanyahu confessed repeatedly on the trip, he loves Indian food. He even revealed that his first date with his wife, Sara, 27 years ago, was at the Tandoori restaurant in Tel Aviv.

When Netanyahu comes back, he should celebrate by eating a good old-fashioned Thanksgiving meal – not just because turkey is called tarnegol hodu (literally, both Indian fowl and fowl of thankfulness) in Hebrew, but because he has so much to be thankful for.

This past week might have been the best for Netanyahu of his current term in office. He has had, of course, many, many other trips abroad this term, but none received as positive coverage in the mainstream Hebrew media. After past trips, Netanyahu complained that while he was accomplishing a lot for Israel, the media back home was focusing on minutia involving his family and criminal probes.

This time, Sara Netanyahu’s lawyers were in court while she was in India, but it wasn’t a top story. And Yair Netanyahu stayed home and skipped a trial date, but he was not on the front pages anymore.

Instead, even newspapers normally hostile to the prime minister gave prominence to pictures of him in India, leaving him nothing to kvetch about.

Moshe's Return to Mumbai

What is India's de-hyphenation policy toward Israel and why does it matter?
When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, he instituted a policy toward Israel called de-hyphenation.

What that meant was simple: India’s relationship with Israel would stand on its own merits, independent and separate from India’s relationship with the Palestinians. It would no longer be India’s relationship with Israel-Palestine, but India’s relationship with Israel, and India’s relationship with the Palestinians.

This policy first became obvious when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Modi at the UN in 2014, soon after the latter’s election.

When it became clear that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would not be in New York at the same time, there was concern in Jerusalem that the Indians would call off the meeting with Netanyahu, to preserve a holy balance in its ties with Israel and its ties with the Palestinian Authority.

This “de-hyphenation” was even more apparent when Modi came to Israel last July, when Modi came to Jerusalem but did not go to the Palestinian Authority – he did not feel compelled to balance his trip to Jerusalem with one to Ramallah.

Similarly, he is scheduled to travel to the PA next month, and if does go ahead with that trip, he is not expected to visit Israel. Again, the idea is that relations which each side should stand on their own merits.

Hyphenating the ties with Israel – linking them to ties with the Palestinian Authority – essentially prevented India from pursuing a pragmatic policy of what was in India’s best interests.
Netanyahu meets Bollywood stars, ends event with Oscars-style selfie
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu attended a special gala event with various noted stars in the Indian film industry such as actress Sara Ali Khan, actor and producer Amitabh Bachchan and former Miss World contestant and actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

Netanyahu said that the rise of Bollywood is ''a part of India rising as a world power, which goes hand-in-hand with the ascent of Israel as a world leader in technology."

Netanyahu said that innovation is not limited to medicine or space but is also present in the arts. "I think that if we join our forces," he said, "magic will happen."

"We believe in Bollywood, we believe in India, we believe in the relations between India and Israel," he stated. Inspired by the Hollywood celebrities who took a selfie at the Academy Awards, the prime minister invited the Indian celebrities to take a shared picture with him on stage.

Netanyahu is wrapping up a five-day visit to India, during which he criss-crossed the country attending various events related to diplomacy, trade, technology, education and aid.

  • Friday, January 19, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
From AP/TOI:

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — A Palestinian family said it had killed one of its members Friday after Gaza’s Hamas rulers said he aided Israel in killing three of the terrorist group’s commanders.

The family said in a statement that a relative shot Ahmed Barhoum dead, but did not say which family member pulled the trigger. It said they followed developments in the Hamas investigation and believed their son was guilty.

The family noted the relative was arrested and interrogated by the “resistance,” meaning he was detained outside the Palestinian litigation system. There was no immediate statement from Hamas.
Wait for the outrage from the Arab world at a family that eagerly kills its own.

Oh, right - there won't be any.

OK, wait for the outrage from "human rights" organizations for a culture where parents would rather kill their kids than be stained with the shame of looking like they are pro-Israel.

Oh, right  - there won't be any.

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From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: Palestinianism is over – someone please tell the British
By recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he explicitly acknowledged the unique historic connection between the Jewish people, Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.

That connection, which predated Islam and the short-lived Arab colonial occupation of the land, destroys the false claim of indigenous Palestinian entitlement upon which the war against Israel has rested.

Trump has also cut in half the funds the US provides for UNRWA, whose unique and false perpetuation of fictional Palestinian refugee status is key to the Arab war against Israel. And if reports are to be believed, his peace plan will offer something well short of a Palestine state.

No less crucially, Abbas realizes that the wider Arab world no longer cares about the Palestinians’ cause. Those Arabs have more urgent considerations, such as stopping Iran from taking over the region, and they need the US and Israel to help them.

The British government is reportedly dumbfounded by Trump’s decision to cancel his visit. Of course it is. Parroting the shallow and vacuous prejudices of the age, it has absolutely no grasp of the significance of the US president it so despises.

Britain now risks being left behind as the world shifts direction. Why should America continue to value its “special relationship” with a Britain that is still fighting the battles it fought so shamefully in 20th-century Palestine to help the Arabs suppress Jewish national self-determination – which even the Arab states no longer support? After that UN vote on Trump and Jerusalem, why should the US think Britain is on its side in the titanic battle for freedom, decency and Western values? And why should President Trump give preferential economic treatment to a country that believes he is quite insane while Mahmoud Abbas is entirely rational? Britain is the mother ship of political liberty and justice in the West. Tragically, though, it has slipped its moral moorings.

Until and unless it puts right its relationship with the Jewish people, it will continue to drift into the gathering storm
Caroline Glick: Israeli obstacles to peace
And then there is the fact that according to Palestinian surveys, more than a million Palestinians in Gaza, Judea and Samaria wish to emigrate. Whole villages around Ramallah are ghost towns because their residents live elsewhere. Why is this not relevant to the likes of Livni and Barak?

Why do the Israeli media fail to report these basic facts rather than make excuses for a tin pot dictator who spends his time inciting the murder of Israelis and pretending that the Palestinians are the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Jebusites and the Hittites, all rolled in one?

According to The Jerusalem Post, Trump intended to cut off US funding of UNRWA entirely this week. But US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster convinced to simply reduce it.

According to the Post, “Israel” sided with the trio. But other reports over the past several weeks made clear that whereas Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu supports ending US support for UNRWA, the IDF General Staff opposes the move. Likewise, the IDF has scuttled repeated congressional bids over the years to end US funding of the Palestinian Authority due to its funding of terrorism and its antisemitic incitement.

The arguments are always the same. UNRWA, like Abbas’s security forces, “stabilizes” the situation.

Is there no one else who might “stabilize” the situation better than they do? Where might the Palestinians be today if the US had cut off their terrorism-encrusted leaders 17 years ago? Is there no option other than empowering regimes and institutions that indoctrinate and work toward Israel’s destruction?

Netanyahu responded to Abbas’s diatribe by saying that in a way, Abbas did Israel a favor. He showed that he really doesn’t care how big or small Israel is. He rejects Israel’s right to exist and objects to its existence regardless of its borders.

Netanyahu’s insight is true as far as it goes. But so long as the same failed and vapid elites who gave us the PLO as our peace partner 25 years ago still call the shots, his insight doesn’t go very far at all.
JPost Editorial: Pressuring Hamas
Hamas’s cynical exploitation of a UN-sponsored cease-fire put in place out of humanitarian considerations enabled its terrorists to surprise and kill Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul in the Gaza Strip in the midst of Operation Protective Edge.

Three-and-half-years later, Hamas is still taking advantage of Israel’s adherence to humanitarian rules as Hamas continues to disregard those same rules and regulations.

Hamas has no qualms about holding the remains of Shaul and Goldin as bargaining chips in direct violation of humanitarian principles. At the same time the terrorist group submits requests to Israel, many of which are approved, to admit Gaza’s residents – some of whom are relatives of Hamas terrorists – to receive medical treatment.

Hamas also expects Israel to allow visits by family and friends to Hamas terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prisons. And when Israel kills Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorists, the expectation is that Israel will return these bodies.

The absurdity and injustice of this situation is unbearable for Simcha and Leah Goldin, the parents of Hadar.

  • Friday, January 19, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
Venezuela's president has declared Jerusalem to be the "eternal capital of  the State of Palestine."

Previously, Turkey and Iran have made similar declarations.

The arguments against the US recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel included that Jerusalem is a final status issue, that it prejudges the outcome of negotiations, that now is not a good time because the region is so volatile, that it could cause anger and violence.

Don't those arguments apply to declaring Jerusalem as the capital of an entity that supports terror?

It couldn't be that the UN and EU countries that condemned Trump are hypocrites, could it?

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  • Friday, January 19, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
A few days ago, JTA's Ron Kampeas - hardly a right winger - responded this way to a tweet of mine:

Abas' speech last Sunday has awakened many liberal American Jews to the reality of Palestinian intransigence and bigotry.

JNS has an interesting article interviewing a number of prominent dovish American Jews who follow the conflict closely enough to have actually read about what Abbas said. (New York Times readers will not know the truth, of course.)

The Israel Policy Forum (IPF), a leading dovish group, declared that Abbas’s “unhinged screed” makes it “impossible to view Abbas as a viable negotiating partner, when he continues to deny the right of the Jewish people to their own national movement and when he continues to insist that the basic recognition of a Jewish homeland is the original sin of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, a longtime peace activist and former president of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), told JNS that while he still wants the international community “to keep the possibility of a two-state solution alive,” Abbas’s statements “were outrageous, ignorant and insulting to Jews and civilized people everywhere,” and demonstrate “that progress on the peace front is not possible at the moment.”

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, URJ’s current president, issued a statement warning that Abbas’s remarks “undercut possibilities for a peace process” and “risk a new and very dangerous escalation of tensions.”

Jane Eisner, editor in chief of The Forward and a strong proponent of Palestinian statehood, blasted Abbas in a Jan. 17 editorial. Regarding Abbas’s claims about Israel’s nature and its founding, Eisner wrote, “If Abbas really thinks that is what happened, then he has no business pretending to be a partner for peace. And if he is repeating ugly rhetoric only to please his ever-thinning crowds, then such irresponsibility also disqualifies him.”

Investigative journalist and author Gary Weiss, a former activist in the New Israel Fund, told JNS, “I do not agree that [President Donald] Trump is to blame. That’s absurd. While I disagree with Trump on a great many things, he is simply speaking the truth on Jerusalem. If that causes Abbas to go bananas, that’s a reflection on Abbas, not Trump.”
Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff, a member of the J Street Rabbinic Cabinet and vice president for special projects at Hebrew Union College, said that while he hopes “Israeli-Palestinian discussions and cooperation” will continue, Abbas’s statement was “a despicable expression of hatred for Israel and for Jews and a disgusting statement of support for terrorists and their families.” As a result, “he has effectively removed himself near-term as a player in future negotiations,” said Kroloff.
We've seen this before. Many Israelis "woke up" to the reality of Palestinian intransigence during the terror war declared by them in the second intifada. American Jews, not so much.

Could this be the moment?

Abbas has said unhinged and antisemitic statements before. He publicly claimed that rabbis were encouraging Israel to poison the Palestinian water supply (he later recanted after the media picked up on it.) He claims that Israelis raise wild boars and dogs to attack Palestinians. He signaled his people to start the knifing and car ramming spree by decrying Jews with their "filthy feet" on the Temple Mount who must be opposed by all means. He brags at every opportunity that he has not made one concession for peace since he has been in office. He says that Israeli "occupation" started in 1948, not 1967.

And his own political party routinely and directly incites violence.

For anyone who bothers to listen to Abbas, this speech may have been a bit more explicitly hateful but not inconsistent.

Yet the mainstream media has still downplayed or ignored altigether the bigotry and hate in Abbas' speech.

This same media  went crazy over Bibi warning about "Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out." - and  ignored his explanation only hours later that he wasn't against Arabs voting but against non-Israeli NGOs interfering with the elections.

Liberal Jews who support Israel's existence too often allow themselves to be blinded to the truth, and are shocked when the truth comes out. Reporters, many of whom are Jewish themselves, soft-pedal and downplay any outrageous Palestinian statements and exaggerate anything Israelis say that can be misinterpreted to be racist.

Now, some have finally woken up. The "right" was right about Abbas all along. (Although as the JNS article notes, J-Street and Americans for Peace Now still try to find excuses for Abbas words. )

Will these new "woke" American Jews remember how they have been deceived about Abbas, or will they fall asleep again?

And when will the rest of liberal America wake up that they have been backing a raving mad bigot as their favorite Palestinian moderate leader?

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From the Facebook page of Khadijat Salabad, an UNRWA teacher from Jericho:

While UNRWA did crack down on their teachers' putting political speech on social media (so it is not as easy as it used to be to embarrass the organization by finding examples of calls to violence,) does anyone think for a second that they changed what they are teaching their students every day?

They are just hiding it a little better.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

From Ian:

State Department Hiding ‘Game Changer’ Report on Myth of Palestinian Refugees
The State Department never acknowledged having completed the report, sources said, and instead classified it.

"State had neglected to tell Sen. Kirk's office," said one source with knowledge of the situation. "It seems that this was intentional."

Once the report's existence was confirmed, Congress, in a 2017 measure, directed the State Department to provide an unclassified version of the report. This, too, was ignored, sources said.

The report is said to confirm that, as opposed to what UNRWA and its supporters claim, the number of refugees is actually in the tens of thousands, not the millions.

Richard Goldberg, a former deputy chief of staff for Kirk, told the Free Beacon that the UNRWA effort was always about exposing the myth that there are millions of refugees who still require aid.

"This is about basic taxpayer oversight of an agency that gobbles up hundreds of millions of dollars ever year," said Goldberg, the author of the original amendment that required the report. "Are we funding a refugee agency or are we funding a welfare agency that nurtures a culture terrorism and violence?"

"There's a moral difference when it comes to U.S. policy and foreign assistance," said Goldberg, now a senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "American aid for true refugees is one thing; American aid to subsidize a culture of welfare and terrorism is entirely different." (h/t Yenta Press)
Hotovely to the BBC: UNRWA perpetuates fake refugees
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) on Wednesday spoke with the BBC about the United States’ decision to cut by half the funding it provides to UNRWA, the UN’s agency for “Palestinian refugees”.

Hotovely rejected the interviewer’s assertion that the American decision is counterproductive, saying, “What is really counterproductive is the role of UNRWA in perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“Back in the 1950s, there were 750,000 Palestinians registered as ‘refugees’. Now, almost 70 years after the war, we’re talking about five million peoples who are registered as ‘refugees’. This is a major failure of the organization which was supposed to resettle those people who lost a war that they started – of course, we’re speaking about their grandparents who started the War of Independence which they lost.”

“There is only one version of history. They started a war after not accepting the idea of the UN Partition Plan. We need to remember that,” she added.

“The Foreign Ministry is very clear about its message: UNRWA should finish its role as an agency which perpetuates fake refugees,” said Hotovely, who also stressed the importance of foreign aid.

“Foreign aid is something that every country should provide according to the needs of the population. We’re absolutely in favor of foreign aid. This is something that is important. Humanitarian aid is important…but you need to make a major distinction between foreign aid which can be delivered by different groups and organizations and the idea that those people are going to keep living a fantasy that they are refugees, because they are not. According to international law, there is no second and third generation to refugee status.”
David Collier: Jews denied entry to eugenics libel event at the University of Warwick
Last night, at the University of Warwick, Faculty arranged a public talk that accused Israel of eugenics. Let us digest a simple truth. Like with most medical or technological innovations, Israel is a global powerhouse in fertility treatment. Every Israeli citizen, regardless of race, religion or colour, receives equal treatment. If you are Muslim and in need of IVF then no citizenship in the world, guarantees you the sort of world-class treatment that being an Israeli does. If you have doubts, talk to Prof. Foad Azem, I am sure he would be happy to convince you.

Eugenics is defined as ‘a set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of a human population‘. Eugenics were most famously used as a justification for the racial policies of Nazi Germany. They are clearly associated with the Holocaust. False accusations of eugenics against Israel, places an accusing finger on the biggest victims of 20th century eugenic experiments – the Jews. The Jews are a people who lost one third of their number to genocide. You cannot spread these type of lies, which clearly fall under the IHRA definition of antisemitism, and then ignore complaints about your failure to protect Jewish students. There is something rotten in Warwick.
Dr Siggie Vertommen

The event was a talk by Dr Siggie Vertommen. It was titled ‘Anti-colonial Resistance is Fertile: Sperm Smuggling and Birth Strikes in Palestine/Israel‘. Vertommen is Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Department of Global Health & Social Medicine at King’s College London. Like many activist academics, Vertommen places her pseudo-science atop a biased and twisted view of Zionism. As Vertommen specialises in ‘the political economy of global fertility chains’ then this is what she places on top of her twisted views of Zionism.

To understand the mindset, Vertommen wrote a piece on the social unrest in Israel in 2011 and 2012. It was published as a chapter in a book. The title was: ‘Help, de onderdrukkers worden onderdrukt! Sociaal protest in Israel‘. This translates as ‘Help, the oppressors are being oppressed‘.

Unpack the title. In Israel, people are oppressors. Not the government, not a political body, not an ideology, but the people. In every other nation, social protests such as this are viewed as being carried out by those fighting for change, as opposition to the status quo. In Israel, they were labelled ‘oppressors’ by Vertommen. It perfectly demonstrates, that for Vertommen, there seems to be no way out for the Israeli whatever their views. It suggests a highly racist mindset.
Antisemitism Rears Its Ugly Head in Puerto Rican Newspaper
Puerto Rico is going through a deep economic crisis, mainly due to heavy public debt. This subject has been addressed in numerous articles that explore causes and solutions to the crisis.

Last Monday, Puerto Rico’s largest daily newspaper, El Nuevo Día, published one more of these pieces. Actually, it wasn’t just one more. Penned by Wilda Rodríguez, it stated that “behind closed doors the most enlightened politicians speak of US power as a parallel government organized by the forces of wealth and violence (war machinery) from Wall Street.”

But these “forces of wealth and violence” to which Ms. Rodriguez referred, weren’t merely abstract figures. Ultimately, she singled out a specific culprit, asserting that “the US Congress will finally do what ‘the Jew’ — as the prototype of the real power is vulgarly called — wants.” And “the Jew,” according to Ms. Rodriguez, couldn’t care less about the situation in Puerto Rico, as “he” is “laden with his heavy itinerary of wars and profits.”

To justify and substantiate these charges, the writer resorted to citing the view of an individual in an opinion column published “more than twenty years ago” by the Israeli newspaper Maariv. Although it is a newspaper well-known in Israel, Maariv is not known abroad. Notably, a translation of the article appears on websites such as the one run by David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and a notorious antisemite.

The original column related that the then-US administration included numerous Jews, a fact that was said to underscore positive change from the past. The tenor of the column was essentially ethnic pride on the part of Jews — a group that had often, including in America, been outside the corridors of power. The antisemitic sites that posted the column twisted it, and claimed that it was proof of malevolent Jewish dominance.

  • Thursday, January 18, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
The editor of Ma'an News Agency says that it is time for Israeli Jews to leave.

Dr. Nasser Al-Laham titled his article "This land belongs to the Arabs. To the Jews of the world: The visit is over."

He describes the Jews in the Israeli cabinet (Aryeh Eldad,  Itamar Ben Geber, Uri Ariel, Yossi Feiglin, Eilat Shaked, Miri Regev, Naftali Bennett) as terrorists who followed Meir Kahane and Baruch Goldstein.

He describes an apartheid Israel:
Now we have 12 apartheid roads for apartheid, which Arabs are prohibited from using. There are cars, planes, airports, hospitals, ambulances, hair salons, pharmacies, ports, restaurants and hotels that Arabs are forbidden to use. Now there is an apartheid system that allows any criminal from the underworld to enjoy the protection of Israeli law, and forbids any Arab even if he is a professor of mathematics.
And, as in the title, Laham ends off:
In the statement of the [Palestinian] Central Council, a clear message to the Jews of the world: Your visit, which lasted 70 years is over.
As of 2014, Ma'an was still getting funding from Denmark, Sweden, United States, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, and others.

Maybe I'm sensitive, but I think calling for the ethnic cleansing of 6 million Jews is antisemitic. But Ma'an still is a respected news agency in the West.

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 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column

The Masorti (Conservative) movement in Israel has allied itself with the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) in the legal struggle over what forms of worship are permitted at the Western Wall. I’ve written about that question before (here and here for example). The Supreme Court has taken the matter under consideration, and seems to have listened to and taken seriously the complaints of the progressive movements and the Orthodox authorities. Probably there is no solution that will completely satisfy both sides, but unlike some other conflicts, a compromise in this one is possible.

I’m concerned, though, that the Masorti movement is making a mistake by cooperating closely with the IMPJ on this and other issues. Most Israelis, religious and secular, already think that there is little or no difference between the movements. Religious people see them both as dangerously subversive of Judaism, while secular Israelis see them as equally pointless. “If I wanted to be religious, I would choose real Judaism,” say some secular people, who almost certainly do not want to be religious and for whom “real” Judaism would ask more of them than they are prepared to give. Both religious and secular Israelis lump the movements together as “reformim.”

But the theological gulf between the Reform and Masorti movements is far wider than that between Masorti and Orthodox Judaism. IMPJ states that “the suitable observance of religious law is through intention, in other words: through study, understanding and identification,” which simply means that the educated Jew is entitled to decide for him or herself which commandments to observe and which to ignore. Lip service is paid to the individual being cognizant of the history and tradition that gave rise to the halacha of today, but in fact Reform Jews (both in Israel and the US) commonly ignore what they call “ritual” commandments including observance of Shabbat and kashrut, in favor of “social” or “prophetic” commandments for “tikkun olam,” by which they usually mean progressive or left-wing politics.

In a few words, the Reform position is that there is no obligation to follow halacha, and most Reform Jews don’t (including egregious violations like this one). The Masorti movement, on the other hand, does assert that a Jew is obligated to observe the commandments. It is true that Masorti rabbis have issued rulings that are less stringent than Orthodox practice (although contrary to popular belief, the Israeli movement does not permit – as the Conservatives in America do – driving to synagogue on Shabbat), but these rulings are based on traditional texts and are argued in traditional ways. An Orthodox rabbi might disagree with this Conservative responsum on the difficult subject of homosexuality, but he would have to take its arguments seriously (read it; it’s great).

I recall reading a magazine article some years ago by an Orthodox rabbi, which unfortunately I can’t find. It was called something like “Is Reform Judaism a different religion?” He argued that the proposition “a Jew is obligated to observe the commandments according to halacha” is essential to Judaism. It is the way we understand our part of the covenant between Hashem and the Jewish people. Deny it, and you have “a different religion.”

Everyone on the Orthodox spectrum accepts this, as do Masortim, even if the Masorti rabbis are more lenient in their understanding of the obligations created by halacha. But the Reform movement removes the content from this principle by saying “you are obligated to observe the commandments, but every individual gets to decide what they are.” It is more like the fundamentalist Protestant idea of a personal God than the Jewish one of a covenant between Hashem and his people.

There is another problem, a political one. The Reform movement in America was explicitly anti-Zionist from its beginning with the 1885 “Pittsburgh Platform” until its “Columbus Platform” of 1937, and even then did not fully see itself as a Zionist movement until 1967. Lately, due to its close relationship with the Democratic Party, the overwhelming support shown for the anti-Israel Barack Obama by Reform Jews, and the flirtation with J Street and the New Israel Fund by many Reform rabbis (including the President of the movement, Rabbi Rick Jacobs), one has to say that the American branch of the movement is less and less supportive of the state of Israel than before. One example: it decided not to take a position on Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, which virtually every Zionist politician in Israel opposed.

The Israeli Reform movement, of course, is far more explicitly Zionist, even if it does sit on the Left of the Israeli political spectrum. But the American movement is the 800-pound gorilla that funds the Israeli movement, and its political arm, the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC). And to a certain extent, the American movement has political goals in Israel that it uses its Israeli affiliates, especially IRAC, to promote – including embarrassing PM Netanyahu and his “right-wing” government.

Although the Masorti movement in Israel is also concerned with social issues and also leans slightly to the left, it is not healthy for it to be associated with IRAC and its political machinations.

I think that if the Masorti movement wants to succeed in Israel – something which I believe is possible – it should stress the ways it is like the more liberal Orthodox groups, rather than what it has in common with the Reform movement. After all, what represents a wider theological divide? The presence or absence of a mechitza (partition between the sexes) in a synagogue, or the understanding of mitzvot? Is it even necessary to ask?

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From Ian:

Michael Oren: Obama saw Israel as the problem - Trump sees it as the solution
Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the US now serving as Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister`s Office, praised President Donald Trump’s recent decision to withhold some $65 million in funding for a United Nations agency which supports self-described ‘Palestinian refugees’, effectively cutting the amount of US money to the agency in half.

Earlier this month, the US froze a $125 million grant to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – representing one-third of all US aid given to the agency every year.

On Tuesday, a State Department official said that the US had released $60 million to UNRWA, but was withholding the other $65 million, adding that the a “fundamental re-examination” of US aid to UNRWA was needed.

"There is a need to undertake a fundamental re-examination of UNRWA, both in the way it operates and the way it is funded," the official said.

On Wednesday, Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the US, now an MK from the Kulanu party and the Deputy Ministry of the Prime Minister’s Office, spoke with Arutz Sheva about President Trump’s decision and the United Nation’s reaction.

While UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed “concern” Tuesday about the American cuts to UNRWA, Oren called Trump’s move “excellent”.

“He [Guterres] is ‘very concerned – well, let him be concerned,” Oren told Arutz Sheva.

“President Trump’s decision to cut funding for UNRWA is an excellent decision, both for us and for the whole Middle East. [UNRWA] is a corrupt and bloated organization that perpetuates a refugee problem that doesn’t exist.”
Einat Wilf: 1967 | As long as the Arab world views Israel as a temporary aberration to be conquered, Israel will stand fas
Given the Arab understanding of Zionism as a temporary historical aberration whose life span is a mere few decades, it made sense for the Palestinians to repeatedly choose to suffer the daily humiliations of living under a military occupation rather than to accept the far greater humiliation of permanent Jewish sovereignty on land they considered exclusively their own. In refusing to end the military occupation by making a permanent peace with Israel, the Arab Palestinians were making a conscious choice that was based on their understanding of Arab history and Islamic ‘justice’. As Arabs and Muslims, the Palestinians were not hapless victims, but rather masters of a historical narrative, at the end of which their resistance and patience would be rewarded with victory, in the form of Zionism’s disappearance. While they might suffer in the interim period, the choice they made was for what they perceived as the far greater good – defeating Zionism and driving away the sovereign Jewish presence from their land.

How to end the occupation: stand fast, stand longer

How can a temporary 50-year military occupation of most of the West Bank by Israel come to an end, if the Muslim, Arab and Palestinian view of history is that 50 years of Israeli occupation matters significantly less than the countdown of the remaining 19 years on the crusader clock? It is necessary to demonstrate to the Muslim-Arab world that their view of history is wrong, and that rather than constituting a second crusader state, Israel is the sovereign state of an indigenous people who have come home. This can only be achieved through Jewish power and persistence over time. And given the vast numerical imbalance between Jews and Arabs, it can only be achieved if those who truly seek peace support the Jewish people in sending the message to the Arab world that the Jewish people are here to stay.

The essence of the conflict between Zionism and the Muslim Arab world is a battle over time, a race of mutual exhaustion. The question that will determine how the conflict is ultimately resolved revolves around who will give up first: will the Zionists give up on their project in the face of unrelenting violent resistance, or will the Muslim Arabs give up on their project of erasing the sovereign Jewish presence in their midst, and finally come to accept it as a part of their history, rather than an affront to it?

Only time will tell.
Caroline Glick: Palestinian Leader’s Anti-American Rant Gives Trump Cause to Cut Funding
So if Abbas isn’t planning to retire, why is he cursing Trump and his senior advisors? Why is he recycling anti-Jewish blood libels from the 12th century and announcing that the deals he signed with Israel and the peace process as a whole are dead?

The simple answer is that Abbas is acting as he is because he is certain that he can. This is how he has always acted. There is nothing new in his speech. And he doesn’t think that he will suffer any consequences for behavior.

Abbas expects President Trump to disregard his statements and continue to bankroll his terror-supporting regime in the name of “the peace process,” or “humanitarian assistance” just as Bush and Obama did.

Abbas gave his speech at start of a two-day conference of the PLO’s Central Committee, which he convened to determine a response to President Trump’s announcement on December 6 that for the first time in nearly seventy years, the U.S. recognizes that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

Trump’s Jerusalem declaration placed Abbas and his colleagues in a conundrum. On the one hand, his declaration had no practical implications. Trump signed a waiver delaying the transfer of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. No immediate plans have made to move the embassy.

Moreover, the State Department insists that there is no practical significance to Trump’s statement. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield told reporters the day after Trump’s announcement that his statement does not change U.S. policy barring American citizens born in Jerusalem from listing Israel as their country of birth on their official documents. Indeed, Satterfield refused to answer a question regarding whether Jerusalem is even in Israel.

On the other hand, simply by recognizing the basic fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and has been Israel’s capital for nearly 70 years, Trump broke with the longstanding U.S. policy of denying observable reality in relation to Israel in order to advance “peace” between Israel and its Arab neighbors. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Jerusalem Post Columnist Caroline Glick Joins Breitbart News
Caroline Glick, the conservative American-Israeli columnist renowned for her powerful criticisms of the Middle East peace process, has joined Breitbart News.

Glick, the long-serving senior contributing editor and chief columnist for the Jerusalem Post, is one of the world’s most widely-read commentators on Israel and international affairs. She also writes about American politics from a staunchly pro-Israel perspective.

She is the author of several books — including, most recently, The Israeli Solution: A One State Plan for Peace in the Middle East (2014), which calls for Israel to annex the West Bank.

Glick, a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a veteran of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Assistant Foreign Policy Advisor in 1997 and 1998. In 2003, she covered the Iraq War from the front lines as a journalist embedded with the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, and was the first Israeli journalist to report from liberated Baghdad.

She is also the adjunct senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC. A recipient of several major journalism awards, Glick travels around the world to advise policymakers about issues relating to global security.

The radical US imams who incited hatred against Jews - and encouraged their congregants to go out and murder them - are back in the news again. Recently, Newsweek reported on the last 3 incidents of 2017, and noted that at least 2 of the imam threats against Jews were explicitly in response to Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, announced on December 6.


It is one thing to note radical imams right here in the US, but another to counter and prevent it.

Take France for example, where the government has to respond to Islamist terrorist attacks. In 2008, the French government created a special training program to teach imams French values such as the separation of state and religion. Results were not good. Out of the 60 students who started taking the course in 2008, only 9 got their certificates by 2011. One could argue that one reason for the failure is that it was created in conjunction with the Catholic Institute of Paris. That was unlikely to be a big draw for Muslims.

In 2015, France came up with the idea of a license for imams, compared to a driving licence, that ensured imams would promote a 'tolerant and open Islam'". This idea came just 11 days after the attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, leading to fears of homegrown Islamist extremists radicalized by rogue preachers.
By 2016, France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was talking tough against radical Islam:
He also said that since 2012, 80 people had been expelled from France, and dozens more expulsions were underway, without giving further details.
"There is no place ... in France for those who call for and incite hatred in prayer halls or in mosques, and who don't respect certain republican principles, notably equality between men and women," the minister said.
"That is why I took the decision a few months ago to close mosques through the state of emergency, legal measures or administrative measures. About 20 mosques have been closed, and there will be others."
France's plan seems a bit ambitious, wanting not only to prevent violence but also to make imams, and by extension their congregants, into good French citizens.

Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, the situation is different. In Canada, where the threat is not as pronounced the opposition has been more outspoken against the idea of certification. The Toronto Star condemned the idea of imam certification in no uncertain terms:
Canadians have no time for terror. But the Senate would never have the gall to suggest that Christian ministers be “certified” to preach in this country, no matter how unschooled in formal theology they might be, how eccentric their views, or how tiny their congregations. The same goes for Catholic, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist spiritual leaders.
The editorial claims “lone wolf” terror attacks are likelier to come from white supremacists and right-wing extremists than from Muslims. In Canada, out of the 35 million people -- including 1 million Muslims -- there are only 318 Muslims who were suspected of being radicalized. Claiming that most of them are self-radicalized on the Internet rather than in mosques, the Toronto Star goes on to say Muslims have been instrumental in preventing terror attacks in Canada. The editorial concludes that certification is a "solution in search of a problem."

And in the US?

Last year, Politico came out with an article that identified the main problem as America is Running Out of Muslim Clerics. Blaming Trump's immigration ban on the one hand and rising incidents of Islamaphobia on the other, the article claims that of the estimated 2,500 mosques in the US, more than half do not have a full-time imam. One solution underway in a dozen US cities is the development of seminaries to prepare homegrown American imams and chaplains. In 2013 more than 90 percent of the full-time imams in US mosques were either trained or born overseas. Among the US imams last year who incited hatred against Jews, one was born in Somalia and another in Syria.

But the problem, as it is in France, is what to teach the imams besides theology.

MINAB, the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board in Great Britain came up with a list of 5 standards for the purpose of self-regulation of mosques in the Muslim community by the Muslim community.
  • Standard 1: Members apply principles of good corporate governance
  • Standard 2: Members ensure that services are provided by suitably qualified and or experienced personnel
  • Standard 3: There are systems and processes in place to ensure that there are no impediments to the participation in the activities, including governance, for young people
  • Standard 4: There are systems and processes in place to ensure that there are no impediments to the participation in the activities, including governance, for women
  • Standard 5: Members ensure there are programmes that promote civic responsibility of muslims in the wider society.
This addresses general problems mosques may be having, but not the issue of radicalization of the mosques. This is not going to combat the issue of Islamism in the US.

It would help to get away from the standard solution.

The Homeland Security Advisory Council came out with Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Subcommittee Interim Report and Recommendations June 2016. Among its recommendations was a unanimous one to take the $10 million earmarked for 2016 -- and increase the funding by $100 million. But just throwing money at the problem is not going to work.

The best answer to the problem may be organic. A New York Times article from 2007 suggests A Growing Demand for the Rare American Imam:
But as the first generation of American-born Muslims begins graduating from college in significant numbers, with a swelling tide behind them, some congregations are beginning to seek native imams who can talk about religious and social issues that seem relevant to young people, like dating and drugs. On an even more practical level, they want an imam who can advise them on day-to-day American matters like how to set up a 401(k) plan to funnel the charitable donations known as zakat, which Islam mandates.
That is a solution that Europe has cheated itself out of. By opening the doors wide to Muslim immigrants, the EU may have made the creation of a homegrown Muslim leadership that much harder, especially with little indication that the EU has had any success in acculturating those immigrants and passing on European values.
Oddly enough, in the US there is a problem standing in the way of creating homegrown American imams that Jews can easily identify with:
Experts say the problem is exacerbated because few immigrant parents want their children to become imams.
“Immigrant parents want their children to become doctors, engineers, computer scientists,” Dr. Bazian said. “If you suggested that they might want their kid to study to become an imam, they would hold a funeral procession.”
Apparently, Jewish mothers have nothing on Muslim mothers.

One group confronting the issue is MEMRI, where they do more than just follow what is going on in the Muslim world and translate into English. Mansour Al-Hadj is Director of Reform at MEMRI, where in addition to monitoring, translating and transcribing Jihadi social media accounts, he analyzes Jihadi group publications as well.

He addressed the issue as well:
"The mosque pulpits in America are out of control, because most of the preachers who lead the prayers in these centers embrace the traditional Islamic rhetoric. Most of them are from the Middle East and are considered to be ulema, or people with superior religious understanding. Their problem is that they are traditional, and the traditional discourse has failed in Arab countries. The proof is that in Islamic societies, Islam has failed to unite the citizens and to prevent violence and the rhetoric of hatred. Unfortunately, we suffer from such imams here in America. They bring the traditional religious discourse with them, and spread it in an environment that is entirely different from where they came from."
...I expect – or I hope – that we in America will export [our] Islam to the Middle East. Society here is cohesive, and people respect one another. Schools are open to all, and there is no religious discrimination, or discrimination against people of color or people who uphold a certain faith. The Muslims in America have the ability and the experience to export that kind of Islam, which we need in the Middle East. We need a tolerant Islam, Islam that loves..."
It is a very ambitious plan:
  • Better than the French approach, that is trying to fit Muslims into a particular mold, Al-Hadj sees the American society as providing the answer to the problems apparent with traditional Muslim society both here and abroad.
  • Instead of looking for funding in the usual way that The Homeland Security Advisory Council suggests, he sees the Islamic societies in the US as providing the funding - and seeing it in their own self-interest to do so.
  • Most of all, he sees the possibility of creating an Islam here in the US that can then be exported back to the Middle East and bring with it renewed tolerance.
Now all there is to do is make a beginning.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.
  • Thursday, January 18, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
At the Qassam Brigades website of Hamas, its readers from around the world were invited to share their happiness at the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach.

And their readers came through.

Dozens of people from around the world praised the murder.

"We are a nation committed to death. We will not be defeated, God willing," said a Moroccan.

An Algerian praised Hamas' "masculinity" as the presumed party behind the murder.

A Saudi prayed for an " increase and strengthening of jihadist operations."

The countries represented by their citizens' love of killing Jews includes Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, "Palestine," Iraq, Turkey, Yemen, Sudan, Kuwait, Egypt and Lebanon.

Also, Germany and the Netherlands.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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