Wednesday, July 25, 2012

To Be Spiritually Uplifted

The latest book that I am reading is called Lehitalot, which can be translated as "to be spiritually uplifted". The book was written by Rabbi Ze'ev Ginzburg, a well known rabbi and educator from Haifa.

Rabbi Ginzburg brings us the learnings of the Mussar Movement in general, and the school of Kelm in particular, in a very original fashion. The protagonists of the book are two childhood friends, Chaim and Nati, whose paths separate when they go to different yeshivot ketanot. However, they promise one another to keep in touch through letters. The book is made up mostly of their correspondence.

Since we are know in the period of the three weeks, I'll mention something that I learned from the book concerning this time of year.

It is well known that the Second Temple was destroyed because of sinat chinam, causeless hatred. Our job, particularly at this time of year, is to eradicate causeless hatred from within our midst.

Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe taught that one does not have a parve relationship with his fellow man. He loves him, or he hates him. The love or the hate may be on a very low flame, however it is impossible to be indifferent. In the same vein Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein said that if one is not "drenched" with love of his fellow man, he is considered a hater.

Rabbi Ginzburg brings us an interesting example of how causeless hatred is rampant among us: Imagine that you are sitting in the synagogue and their is an empty chair next to you. Suddenly, a stranger, perhaps even a somewhat weird stranger, enters and sits next to you. You feel uncomfortable and you think to yourself, "Why did he sit down next to me when there are so many other empty seats available?"

But wait a minute! He is sitting in his place, and you in yours! Why does he bother you? If your father, brother of friend sat next to you would you feel the same way? This is causeless hatred!

I am really learning a lot from this book. You can see a preview of it here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Egyptian Actors Pranked on Candid Camera Turn Violent When Told TV Channel Is Israeli

Very disturbing:

The transcript:
Interviewer Iman Mubarak: We have a phone call… Hello…

Voice: Mr. Tuhami, we love and respect you. We love your works and enjoy your movies, but I cannot believe what I am seeing. We used to love you, but when we see you on such a TV channel – a dubious Israeli TV channel… Shame on you!

Iman Mubarak: The call has been cut off. You may call again…

Dear viewers, let’s take a short break, before we resume our show, “With the Other,” from Cairo.

[Turning to Ayman Kandeel] What?

Ayman Kandeel “Tuhami”: Was that sister Palestinian, Egyptian, or what?

Iman Mubarak: I can’t tell her nationality, but the call was cut off.

Ayman Kandeel: I heard her say that this is an Israeli channel. Is this an Israeli channel?

Iman Mubarak: The production didn’t tell you that this is an Israeli channel?

Ayman Kandeel: No.


Production member Amr ‘Alaa enters

Amr ‘Alaa: What is the problem?

Ayman Kandeel: May I ask who you are?

Amr ‘Alaa: I am an Israeli. You are talking about weapons… You are a comedian. You ought to be talking about comedy, not about weapons.

Ayman Kandeel: Fine, fine.

Amr ‘Alaa: Am I standing here, pointing a gun at your face?

Ayman Kandeel: No, you didn’t point a gun at me, and you can’t. You are trying to provoke me, but I am calm.

Amr ‘Alaa: I’m trying to make peace, so how can you say that I’m provoking you?

Ayman Kandeel: Peace was decided on by the governments, but we, the people, have different criteria. You are feeling so mad that you…

Amr ‘Alaa: That’s because I understand that you do not want to reach a solution…

Ayman Kandeel: Man, nobody can provoke me.

Amr ‘Alaa: I don’t want to provoke you. I want to reach a solution with you.

Ayman Kandeel: The solution, my dear boy, is that you go to the doctor to get treatment…

Iman Mubarak: What does that mean?

Ayman Kandeel: It means that you are all sick. It’s better that we talk about it on the air.

Amr ‘Alaa: We are off the air now.

Ayman Kandeel: No, I’d like to talk on the air.

Amr ‘Alaa: Are the sick people those who try to make peace, or those who go around carrying guns? Are you denying that you have a gun in your pocket?

Ayman Kandeel: Yes, I have a gun.

Amr ‘Alaa: Why? What are you afraid of?

Ayman Kandeel: I’ll tell you what I’m afraid of. Of some scumbag trying to attack me.

Amr ‘Alaa: What scumbag?

Ayman Kandeel: Any scumbag. A thief, a robber.


Iman Mubarak: We’re back with our guest, Egyptian actor Ayman Kandeel. Hello, once again.

Ayman Kandeel: May God grant us good fortune. There was a phone call, which everybody heard, in which it was claimed that this show is being aired on Israeli TV. It doesn’t matter to me what TV station this is, but I came to a show that is being filmed in Egypt, on a TV channel that you said was German…

Iman Mubarak: We never said that this was a German channel.

Ayman Kandeel: When the producer called me…

Iman Mubarak: I’m sure you didn’t hear it properly…

Ayman Kandeel: No, my hearing is just fine. You people deceive and lie…

Iman Mubarak: Sir, you cannot level such accusations against us. Sir, the reactions on Israeli social media pages…

Ayman Kandeel [losing his temper]: F$@# the social media pages! I cam to an interview on an Egyptian TV channel. Then it turns out that this is an Israeli TV channel, and you bring in someone who got on my nerves. He is standing right there, let’s see him come in and talk to me.

Amr ‘Alaa enters the studio

Amr ‘Alaa: This is my channel. I am never afraid. It is you who are afraid, and that is why you are carrying a gun.

Ayman Kandeel: I don’t have a gun.

Amr ‘Alaa: You don’t have a gun?!

Ayman Kandeel: In order to use my gun against you, I need to feel that you are worth something. But let me tell you what I can do. You stand right here. Relax.

Ayman Kandeel slaps Amr ‘Alaa and shoves him

You son-of-a-@$#! You’re making fun of me?

Ayman Kandeel slaps Iman Mubarak

You b#@ch! What, you sons-of-b#!@&$? To hell with #%$, you sons-of-b#!@&$!

You sons-of-b#!@&$!

Production member: Stop! We’re just kidding with you.

Ayman Kandeel: You say you are Egyptians?! Are you kidding me?! F%@$ you!

Production member: Ayman, please… It’s a prank. Shame on you for hitting a woman.

Production member: Get her a chair.

Ayman Kandeel is handed Iman Mubarak’s ID card

Ayman Kandeel: I can’t get it out…

Turns the card to the light and looks at it

She’s Egyptian?

Production member: Let’s have a round of applause, please.

You brought it upon yourself. Why did you fall so quickly?

Iman Mubarak: You hit me so hard.

Ayman Kandeel: It was just one slap.

Iman Mubarak: You see what can happen to the interviewer?

Amr ‘Alaa: People, let’s have a round of applause for Iman.

Ayman Kandeel [to Iman Mubarak]: After the show, come to my car with me. I’ll put some lotion on your back.

Iman Mubarak: I don’t want anything.


Iman Mubarak: Dear viewers, we’ll take a short break, before we return with [actress] Mayar Al-Beblawi.


Mayar Al-Beblawi: In that country [Israel], they are all liars. You wouldn’t believe it. They are real liars. They keep whining all the time about the Holocaust, or whatever it’s called. With all the Palestinians that you have killed, you are still whining about the Holocaust and its lousy figures?!


These people sawed off [the head] of John the Baptist. They are the slayers of the prophets, what else can we say about them?

Iman Mubarak: You’ve got it wrong, They are the Chosen People…

Mayar Al-Beblawi: The Chosen People?! Allah did not curse the worm and the moth as much as he cursed the Jews.


[The caller] said that this was an Israeli channel?!

Iman Mubarak: You are indeed on an Israeli channel. This is Channel 2 from Israel.

Mayar Al-Beblawi: No, I came for an interview with a German channel.

Iman Mubarak: No. The producer told you that this was an Israeli channel, and you agreed.

Amr ‘Alaa: There’s no problem. Let’s move on.

Mayar Al-Beblawi: What do you mean, “no problem”? What do you mean, “Let’s move on”?

Iman Mubarak: Let’s complete the interview.

Mayar Al-Beblawi: I’d like to know what channel this is.

Iman Mubarak: You knew right from the beginning that this was Channel 2… Shalom, shalom…

Mayar Al-Beblawi: You’re kidding me, right? I won’t allow something like this.

Iman Mubarak: Kidding? Why?

Mayar Al-Beblawi: No, I won’t allow it.


July 21, 2012 [via Youtube]

Actor Mahmoud Abd Al-Ghaffar: Who are you? Are you Egyptian, or what?

[shaking Amr ‘Alaa] What country are you from?

Amr ‘Alaa: Where I come from is not the issue. You were being interviewed, and I wasn’t talking to you. Let’s complete the interview.

Actor Mahmoud Abd Al-Ghaffar [attacking Amr ‘Alaa]: We’re completing nothing. Who are you? Who are you?

Iman Mubarak: Mahmoud… Mahmoud…

Mahmoud Abd Al-Ghaffar: You are a Jew!

Iman Mubarak: Mahmoud… Mahmoud…

Mahmoud Abd Al-Ghaffar: Mahmoud what?!

Iman Mubarak: Mahmoud, this is a candid camera show.

Mahmoud Abd Al-Ghaffar [pulling Amr ‘Alaa by the hair]: Who are you? Tell me who you are.

Iman Mubarak: Mahmoud, this is a candid camera show.


Iman Mubarak: Mahmoud, this is a candid camera show. We are all Egyptians. Long live Egypt! I’m an Egyptian – Iman Mubarak. This is Amr ‘Alaa, and this is Amr Sallah.

Mahmoud Abd Al-Ghaffar: You brought me someone who looks like a Jew…

Al-Ghaffar hugs Amr ‘Alaah

[to Iman Mubarak]: If you weren’t a girl, the moment you told me you were Jewish… I hate the Jews to death.


Iman Mubarak: I’d like to tell you that I enjoyed today’s episode with Mahmoud. I didn’t know that there could be such patriotism, but it exists in every Egyptian who breathes the air of this country.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Secular Coercion Will Fail (part 4)

The "draft drama" continues.

Yohanan Plesner and company did not get their way, so Kadima left the coalition:
The Kadima party has approved party head MK Shaul Mofaz’s proposal to leave the coalition. Three MKs voted against leaving.

Likud MKs accused Mofaz of leaving for political reasons. Mofaz said his party had to leave over disagreements with Likud over enlisting hareidi men to the IDF. However, Likud MKs said, Likud offered several proposals in the matter, and Mofaz rejected them all.
In the meantime, the ultra-Orthodox press revealed information about Plesner that was not known to the general public:
The Merkaz Inyanim newspaper did some checking into the background of Plesner, the man behind the committee, the champion of the “share the burden camp” and reports that the MKs father was not a Jew, but a Catholic from Denmark, a descendent of priests and bishops. The paper reports the MKs parents were married in a church.
You can see Yohanan's father, Ulrik, here.

The son of a gentile is hardly the man to decide the fate of Torah learning in Israel, according to the aforementioned press.

Then came Avigdor Lieberman's turn. He wants to draft everybody, including the Arabs. His bill took a whacking:
The Knesset on Wednesday killed a bill that would have mandated universal military service for all Israelis at age 18 – including Arabs and Hareidi-religious – by a vote of 74 to 22.

The bill from Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beytenu party would have made those who refuse to serve in the army or perform national service ineligible for funding from the State.

After the Knesset voted down the bill, Lieberman said "reality will do what the bill didn't. Right now were focusing on August 1 (the expiration of Tal Law)."
Indeed, August is less than two weeks away. Will the Knesset pass a bill which is acceptable to the ultra-Orthodox, or will we face chaos in less than two weeks? Time will tell.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rav Elyashiv Has Passed Away

The great Torah Sage, head of the worldwide LIthuanian-hareidi yeshiva world, Rav Elyashiv, Yosef Shalom ben Chaya Musha, has just passed away at Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem at the age of 102.
I do not have words to express the great feeling of loss.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Matisyahu Interview has an exclusive interview with Matisyahu, wherein he explains the changes he has been going through. As a fellow BT, I can relate to what Matisyahu is saying:
I find a tremendous amount of inspiration and truth within Torah and Judaism, but I had taken on certain minhagim, customs, and stringencies that became habit – either because at one point I had connected to them, or simply because I had been convinced that “religious” Judaism had to look a certain way. Over time some of these external aspects, like the beard, had become deadening and oppressive for me. I had to take a step back.

I am still committed to Judaism, to seeking truth through halacha (Jewish law) and observance, but I needed to reconnect to it in a different manner than I did when I first became "religious." I guess you can say it's been a process of maturing religiously and coming to realize that some of what I took on 10 years ago no longer expresses a part of me. I imagine this is a process many Baal Teshuvas go through. I just get to do it in public.
I can only wish him all the best on his continuing journey.

Interesting Links + Snippets

Upgrading Ariel
Some cowardly Israeli academics oppose the idea of forming an Israeli university beyond the Green Line because doing so might increase calls from international academia to boycott other existing and proven Israeli institutions. Apparently, they believe that if they kowtow to bigotry by distancing themselves from Ariel they can somehow avoid a boycott from universities in Spain, Britain and elsewhere.

In January of last year, some members of the Israeli academic community went one step further. Hundreds of professors declared an academic boycott against Ariel because it is located beyond the Green Line.

Instead of trying to appease Israel bashers or join their ranks, our academics should be protecting academic freedom. Why should a researcher be punished simply because he or she works at a university which happens to be in Samaria? On Tuesday, the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria is expected to meet to discuss upgrading Ariel’s status. We hope they make the right decision.
Born on the Fourth of June
On the fourth of June, 1967, Israel—deploying 275,000 troops, 200 combat planes, and 1,100 tanks—faced off against combined Arab armies that fielded nearly twice as many troops, more than four times as many planes, and nearly five times as many tanks.

On the fourth of June, 1967, the commander of the Egyptian army, Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer, told Ahmad Shukeiri, the founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization, “soon we’ll be able to take the initiative and rid ourselves of Israel once and for all.”

On the fourth of June, 1967, Israel had not received emergency military aid promised by the United States; nor had the United States mounted a promised international armada to break Egypt’s blockade of the Straits of Tiran; nor had Israel gotten any relief from France, which just then decided to turn on the Jewish state with an arms embargo; nor had it gotten any diplomatic relief at the United Nations, which had instantly capitulated to Egyptian demands to withdraw peacekeepers from the Sinai.
How to Effect "Equal Sharing of the National Burden
The correct way to reach an equal sharing of the national burden is to do it moderately, step-by-step. Such an approach is capable of fully and genuinely correcting the situation.

Towards this end, the I.D.F. should be prepared to absorb thousands of strictly religious soldiers, and remove all obstacles currently facing the religious and hareidi community. In other words, the army must operate according to the principles of Jewish tradition, including enabling any Jewish soldier to maintain his halakhic lifestyle.

This should be set in law: I.D.F. commanders have the obligation to ensure the fulfillment of a soldier’s religious requirements, as customarily accepted by recognized, religious authorities.

To do this, the law requiring women to serve in the army should also be cancelled, because the mixing of men and women in the army is the main obstacle and primary justification of the hareidi community leadership for their non-enlistment. This will not weaken the army, but only strengthen it; an army should always be aimed at its true function, which is security, and nothing else. It is not a ‘melting pot’, nor a place to educate youth about assorted values.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Suicide is Wrong and Moshe Silman is not a Hero

The truth must be said, in a loud and clear voice that can be heard and felt all over the world: suicide is wrong:
Judaism regards suicide as a criminal act. Someone who commits suicide is considered a murderer. It matters not whether he kills someone else or himself. His soul is not his to extinguish.

Judaism's opposition to suicide is found in the story of Noah's Ark. After the flood, God says to Noah:

Your blood which belongs to your souls I will demand; from the hand of every beast will I demand it. From the hand of every man; from the hand of every man who is his brother will I demand the life of man. (Genesis 9:5)

The Talmud (Baba Kama 90b) learns from the first part of the verse, "And surely the blood of your lives I will demand," that one may not wound his own body. All the more so, he may not take his own life.
Moshe Silman led a very troubled life:
A psychiatric report was uploaded to the website, which was attached to Silman’s law suit against Israel’s social security administration, reveals a man raised by a violent father, himself a Holocaust survivor, who used to beat Moshe mercilessly. So much so, that the latter left home at age 14 to escape his father’s wrath. He lived on the streets as a teenager, used drugs and supported himself by breaking into cars. He attempted to rehabilitate himself through his military service, but was ultimately discharged on psychiatric grounds.

Silman was unable to forge steady relationships with women, nor was he ever able to hold on to a job for a long time. He ended up leaving for America and bandied about until he decided to return to Israel some time around the year 2000 (his ability to recall dates and chronological events is impaired, according to the report).

His attempt to establish a business ended in abysmal failure, as he was unable to cope with clients, debt payments and the different government offices. To get out of debt he made his mother sign a mortgage in his behalf which he was unable to pay back. In 2005, after he was evicted for lack of payments from an apartment he purchased in Jaffa, Silman attempted suicide. According to the report, he took pills and slashed his wrists.
Moshe Silman certainly deserves our sympathies. However, he is not a hero. Those who are "dancing on his blood" in order to advance their own political and/or economic agendas are truly revolting.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Secular Coercion Will Fail (part 3)

Ya'alon gets it:
If the government adopts the Keshev Committee's recommendations on drafting haredim into the army, it will cause a civil war, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Thursday morning on Israel Radio.

"I would like to see the haredim join the IDF at 18 years old," Ya'alon said. "But if we try this, we will start a civil war."

Kadima party chair Shaul Mofaz and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will also meet again on Thursday in an attempt to work out differences on the issue, Army Radio reported.

MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) walked out on talks with Ya’alon about a universal service bill on Wednesday, when the two sides were unable to reach agreements on key issues. After Plesner and Ya’alon discussed and agreed on enlistment quotas and personal sanctions for those who do not join the IDF or do national service, the Likud minister presented a different stance in a Wednesday-afternoon meeting.

The main dispute between Likud and Kadima was over whether there should be quotas limiting the number of yeshiva students permitted to avoid the draft, as Kadima demands, or merely setting targets for the number of haredim drafted, which the Likud prefers. The parties also disagree on the final age at which service could be avoided and the extent of sanctions against draft evaders.

Ya'alon said that his proposal was more realistic than that being put forth by MK Yohanan Plesner, the Kadima MK who has taken up the mantle of increasing the IDF draft rate for haredim. "The haredim will not vote for my proposal, but they will not star a civil war over it," Ya'alon said, "Plesner's proposal will erase all the inroads we've made in integrating haredim, including the Nahal Haredi program."
Plesner is still in the dark. How can he be helped?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Down With Intermarriage!

Another tragic intermarriage comes to an end:
A dramatic rescue takes a Jewish woman and her two young children out of the clutches of a brutal Palestinian Authority Arab husband with whom she lived for 28 years.

The anti-missionary Yad L'Achim organization, which also works on behalf of Jewish women trapped in relationships with Arabs, revealed the extraordinary story, after “Dinah, the daughter of Leah,” was safely back among Jews.

Dinah was born in the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Lod 48 years ago but became estranged from her family during an emotional crisis, which led her to a relationship with an Arab man.

Since then, she was declared as missing, and her family did not know whether she was dead or alive. At one point, Israeli authorities mistakenly thought they had identified her in a morgue.

She lived with her husband in a Palestinian Authority Arab village in the area of Tulkarm, east of Netanya. She said her husband traumatized her and once tied her to a tree for 13 hours, without food or water The husband said he wanted “everyone to see what will happen to you" if she were to leave the house with permission.
Read the rest!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Secular Coercion Will Fail (part II)

As I mentioned, the new draft law that is still in the works is being perceived as an evil decree that one must be willing to sacrifice one's life for. This was waiting for me when I came home from work today:

See Rafi's take on this.

It is interesting to see how General (in the reserves) Elazar Stern sees things:

וזאת משום ששוויון בנטל לא היה, אין ולא יהיה. שהרי לא ניתן להשוות גם בתוך שורות הצבא בין מי שמשרת בקריה ללא מילואים לבין מי שמשרת שלוש שנים בצנחנים ולאחר מכן עשרים שנה במילואים, כך גם לא בין מי שמשרת שנתיים בשירות לאומי למי שמשרת בגבעתי או בשריון.
... and this is because there was never equality (in sharing) the burden, and there never will be. After all, even within the army, you cannot compare someone who serves in "the Kiryah" (in Tel Aviv) and does not do reserve duty to one who serves three years in the paratroopers battalion and afterwards 20 years in the reserves. Similarly you can't compare someone who does "national service" with somebody who served in Givati or the armored corps...

Monday, July 09, 2012

Secular Coercion Will Fail

In Israel Hayom Mati Tuchfeld asks a question:
In a different era, the leaders of the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) public would have taken the Plesner committee proposal (on drafting the currently exempt haredim to mandatory military or national service) and the imminent haredi draft law and used it to launch an all-out war. Hundreds of thousands of haredim would have flooded the streets, trash cans would have been set on fire 24 hours a day and dirty diapers would have been hurled at police officers every night. The outlawing of Sephardi-Ashkenazi segregation at the Immanuel girl's school in 2010 (which sparked mass riots) pales in comparison to the imminent enlistment decrees.
In other words, why aren't there any riots concerning the Plesner committee proposals? Tuchfeld thinks he knows the answer:
But the protests aren't happening for one simple reason: Even the haredi public understands that though they may be able to fight the courts or the government, they cannot fight the will of the people.

This blogger begs to disagree. The reason is that these proposals have yet to become law. The "Tal Law" which is the current law concerning army enlistment, will expire at the end of July. If the new law, which is in the process of being formulated, has any form of coercion with regards to those that wish to learn Torah, it will certainly be greeted with adament oppositon by the haredi public.

The politicians, activists and journalists who think that they can force the haredim to leave the Beit Midrash by means of law are completely unfamiliar with haredi culture and its codes. Such coercion will be perceived as a gezeira, an evil decree against Jewish practice, which will be resisted with great ferocity. Mark my words: coercion will fail, epically.

On the other hand, non-coercive programs to enlist haredim have been a great success, as pointed out in this editorial from jpost:
The facts are undeniable. In 2002 just 36 percent of the haredi population was employed; by 2010, 46% were. In 2005, just 300 haredi men were either serving in the IDF or doing some form of national service. By 2011, the number jumped to 4,386, 2,700 of whom were serving in the IDF.

As of May 2012, some 10,000 haredi had served in the IDF as a result of the Tal Law. True, this is just a fraction of the total number of haredi men eligible for military service, but in contrast to previous years, the change for the better is dramatic.
Things were moving in the right direction, and everyone was benefitting. However, the politicians and publicity seekers are not interested in the good of the nation or the army. Emanuel Rosen notes that the army does not need Haredi soldiers:
A few years ago I had a fascinating conversation with a senior office. He was the IDF deputy chief of staff at the time and later became the army chief. He dismissed the myth that the army faces a shortage of soldiers. He said that the time has come for a professional army. That the time has come to put away the irrelevant longing for a “popular army.”
Not only that, secular leftist journalist Eitan Haber tries to explain to his readers the consequences of mass Haredi enlistment:
And as to the IDF, there should be no mistake about it: the enlistment of large numbers of haredi soldiers (as well as national-religious soldiers in recent years) will require the army to create a new way of life and introduce new codes of conduct at many units, including the seclusion of women.

We have been there before: In the 1960s, no military vehicle was allowed to travel on the Shabbat unless it received a permit from a major-general. Do we really want to go back in the time tunnel?
As one who served in the army, I am not interested in enlisting those who do not want to serve, be they Arabs, Haredim or radical leftists. I want to know that the soldier serving with me will charge when the order is given. I want to be sure that my comrade in arms will not turn his gun on me.

Yes, I can understand the frustration of the general public. Army service is not easy. On the other hand the permissive atmosphere in the army is totally unacceptable to the Haredi community. No Haredi parent is going to send his child there, period. National service and special frameworks within the army are an excellent solution. However, nobody will enter these frameworks under compulsion.

The politicians have climbed up a tree. Will they know how to come down? Will they be able to come up with a workable formula that will be acceptable to the entire nation?

Update: Rav Mordechai Norgeshal speaks. Mati Tuchfeld, are you listening?

Friday, July 06, 2012

A Jew From Kuwait?

I never knew that there were Jews in Kuwait:
Mordechai Halawa, 34, was raised in Kuwait as a Muslim. Several years ago, a small twist of fate led him to discover his Jewish roots.
Read the rest!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Quote of the Day

Former CIA Director James Woolsey:
There is absolutely no reason for Pollard to be imprisoned for as long as Ames and Hanssen, and substantially longer than spies from other friendly, allied, and neutral countries. For those hung up for some reason on the fact that he's an American Jew, pretend he's a Greek- or Korean- or Filipino-American and free him.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Yitzhak Shamir z"l

It was with great sadness that I heard of the passing of Yitzhak Shamir. I cannot say that I always agreed with what he did as Prime Minister. However, during his days at the helm Israel was a much safer place to live: ther were no exploding busses in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and neither were Grad and Kassam rockets terrorizing Southern Israel.

The best tributes to Shamir that I saw are in Yisrael Hayom. Here they are:

Yaakov Ahimeir
Yitzhak Shamir was the most modest of all of Israel's prime ministers, but also the most decisive. Modesty is a fine, admirable quality, but the ability to make decisions is possibly the most essential quality any decision-maker, and certainly a prime minister of Israel, must possess.

One can argue with Shamir's decisions as prime minister — some may say that there were definitely times when it would have been wiser to show diplomatic flexibility. But for Shamir, there was nothing nobler than making a decision that he felt was the best one for the people living in Zion, for as long as he was at the helm. Let the naysayers say what they will.
Dan Margalit:
Yitzhak Shamir's violin only had one string, and he only knew how to play different variations on one theme: Israel. During a big celebration honoring his 90th birthday several years ago he asked those in attendance, and the following generations, to remember only one thing: that he never gave up even one grain of Israeli soil.
Yoram Ettinger:
In 1992, Republican Whip Senator Alan Simpson from Wyoming, who was critical of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s policies, told me: “How can I like Prime Minister Shamir when he resembles an aggressive, roaring tiger? However, how can I not respect a roaring tiger?!”

Former U.S. Secretary of State Jim Baker, who was one of the crudest detractors of Shamir’s policies, respected Shamir’s ironclad commitment to deeply-rooted ideology.

Therefore, he considered Shamir a trustworthy — although non-subservient — ally of the U.S.

Shamir was consistently guided by principles, values and a history-driven ideology; he was not herded by pollsters and public-opinion consultants.

Rest in peace Mr. Shamir, and thanks for everything.
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