May 2006 Archives



The NY Times editorial page has seen fit to link my previous post.

I'm speechless.

So in the meantime, please be absolutely sure to read Rick Richman's amazing essay on Ehud Olmert's speech to Congress. It's both political commentary and a d'var Torah of sorts. And it's perfect.

[Leviticus 26:3-9, the beginning of last week's Torah portion] is Jewish history in a few words: a promise of land to be enjoyed in peace, a miraculous victory over enemies far greater in number, a covenant with God.

But now, according to Olmert, the people of Israel have learned to change their perspective. They will uproot Jews from land saturated with Jewish history and turn it over to enemies who dream of a Judenrein world, who are arming themselves to realize their dream, and who have already demonstrated in Gaza what they plan to do with the land once they get it.

And if they will not demonstrate that they will live in peace with Israel, Israel will uproot the Jews and give its enemies the land anyway.

He is very, very tired.

Indeed. But do read the whole thing.

Shabbat Shalom.

NY Times amok

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Soccer Dad almost ruined my day by sending me this link this morning. But he also sent me a link to Carl in Jerusalem's response, which is right on the money. What more is there to say?

I guess, since Carl has covered the facts and fallacies, I just have a few questions. Why is it that the NY Times (in this case) assumes as a given fact that the palestinian Arabs are entitled, with absolutely no quid pro quo on their part, to a state at all, let alone a viable state? Let's leave aside that elephant in the living room that Carl has so clearly pointed out but that almost no one seems able to understand (i.e., that the palestinian Arabs don't actually have much interest in a state of their own -- they simply want to put an end to the State of Israel by any means necessary). Let's assume for the sake of argument that they actually do want a state because, I don't know, they have a separate "identity" and surely anyone with one of those requires a state of their own, even if there are already a couple dozen other states in the region that share their language, their culture, their religion and their ethnic origin. Let's pretend for a moment (because most of the world now does) that there's a reason for this heretofore non-existent state to be brought into existence.

On what basis does the NY Times begin from the premise that this state must be provided without the co-operation of its would-be citizens, without their willingness to enter into a meaningful dialogue with certain of its neighbors, without their agreement even to accept the existence of certain of its neighbors? On what basis is the starting point of the discussion the "right" to have that state be a convenient shape, with "contiguity" between its various territories and (though it's not stated explicitly in this editorial) completely free of Jews?

Let's review: Ehud Olmert, in his folly, has proclaimed that he is ready to do whatever it takes to bring Fatah and Hamas to the bargaining table so that he can bargain away more land for the same false promises that brought us Oslo. He's ready to go to the ends of the earth to secure palestinian Arab participation and cooperation in any future Israeli withdrawals, so long as Hamas will acknowledge Israel's right to exist (as did Arafat) and promise to try to think about reining in terrorism. But if and only if no one takes him up on that offer (and he still hasn't said how long he's prepared to wait), he's going to go ahead and withdraw anyway, to a place of his choosing, and draw Israel's borders there. And to this, the NY Times responds:

That's a recipe for disaster.

Well, I agree, of course, but hardly for the same reasons. The NY Times is aghast because Israel is actually proposing to leave established communities of "settlers" intact, one of them home to over 30,000 people. Israel is actually declining to uproot some 150,000 - 200,000 of its citizens who, in the years that the Arabs have been refusing to even acknowledge their right to live, have built roads and towns and schools and hospitals and synagogues, have planted trees and gardens, laid water and sewer pipes, run electric and phone lines, all those things that people who have an attachment to their land do and which have never been done in these places by anyone else other than Jews -- ever.

Imagine that! Never mind that this fall-back plan does involve uprooting some 50,000 - 100,000 Israelis who have done the exact same thing. For what? Not for the promise or even the suggestion of peace. Not for an end to the conflict and the possibility of safe and secure borders. Just in order to pull back and hunker down in the face of an implacable, insatiable enemy that, as it did in Gaza, will take what it can get, turn it into a wasteland and a war zone, and then come back for more. This, says the NY Times, is unfair -- not to the Israelis who will lose their homes, their communties and their livelihood, but to the Arab palestinians who will have a really tough time establishing a viable state within the land allotted them.

Go ahead. Take a look at that map of Manhattan. And envision the U.S. government removing all U.S. citizens from East Harlem, the Upper East Side and Battery Park City and turning those territories over to Al Qaida and the Taliban. I thank the NY Times for this image, because I think it's extremely useful. Envision that, and tell me about how unfair that would be, and to whom.

Update: Soccer Dad has collected several other commentaries on the NY Times editorial.



The World Council of Churches, an organization clearly defined far more by its leftist political agenda than by any religious or spiritual considerations, has rendered its verdict on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Its conclusions, while utterly absurd and completely divorced from reality, are hardly surprising.

Failure to comply with international law and consequences thereof has pushed the situation on the ground up to a point of no return. The disparities are appalling. One side is positioning itself to unilaterally establish final borders on territory that belongs to the other side; the other side is increasingly confined to the scattered enclaves that remain. On one side there is control of more and more land and water; on the other there are more and more families deprived of land and livelihoods. On one side as many people as possible are being housed on occupied land; on the other side the toll mounts of refugees without homes or land. One side controls Jerusalem, a city shared by two peoples and three world religions; the other—Muslim and Christian—watches its demographic, commercial and religious presence wither in Jerusalem. From both sides, military forces or armed groups strike across the 1967 borders and kill innocent civilians. On both sides, authorities countenance such attacks.

Finally, the side set to keep its unlawful gains is garnering support from part of the international community. The side that, despairing at those unlawful gains, used legitimate elections to choose new leaders is being isolated and punished.

All parties to the conflict and the foreign powers implicated in it now face a world dangerously divided over this conflict, a world increasingly convinced that the goal of peace for all has been traded away for gains by one side.

How fascinating that the World Council of Churches regards as sacrosanct those "1967 borders" that the entire Arab world resolved to sacrifice not so much as a single "yes" to regain after its attempt to annihilate the State of Israel in the Six Day War. How revealing that the World Council of Churches chooses to confuse aggression with self defense and to measure legitimacy and lawfulness by the yardstick of which side it finds more politically sympathetic.

How pathetic that such a body commands any respect among thinking people in this day and age.

Update: Boker Tov Boulder has more on this.

A tough week


Sometimes, trouble comes in bunches. I spent most of the past week in Pittsburgh, with my friend who was sitting shiva for her father. While I was there, I got the news of three other deaths that touched me deeply.

I'm not sure how many pro-Israel bloggers are aware of the debt we owe to Dr. Joseph Lerner (z"l), co-founder and co-director of IMRA, together with his son Aaron. For over a decade, Joe's asute commentary and careful collections of excerpts from Arab news sources have informed my own views of the Middle East and its various conflicts. Before MEMRI, before Palestinian Media Watch, there was IMRA, keeping an eye on events, interviews, polls, public announcements and media coverage affecting Israel and reporting it to anyone who might be interested.

Joe Lerner died Sunday morning at Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem, almost two months after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage. Following a long and illustrious career in energy economics in the U.S., where his support of Israel was always vocal and persistent, he made aliyah in 1986. He was not a man to tout his own accomplishments, but you can find a bit of his life story in today's WaPo obituary. He will be sorely missed by many.

Daniel Wultz also succumbed to his injuries on Sunday, less than a month after having been critically wounded in the latest terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, the vermin responsible for his death celebrated, calling it "a gift from Allah."

Lior Anidzar, another victim of the same attack, passed away on Shabbat. Ironically, now the media coverage is getting a little better.

They will all be remembered with great fondness by all those whose lives they touched. May their memories be for a blessing.

Shabbat Shalom.

Baruch dayan emet


A wonderful man, the father of a very close friend, has passed away.

I'll be taking a break for a few days.

Good grief!


John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt are at it again, with an embarrassing attempt to gloss over their earlier mess. Rick Richman focuses on one of the particularly shoddy bits and takes it apart.

Speaks for itself

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Here, in its sad entirety, is an article from Ynet (via IMRA).

Kadima boosts Arab influence in Knesset

Ruling party to assign greater number of Arab MKs to major Knesset committees, in bid to ensure approval of future plan to withdraw from West Bank

Ilan Marciano

The Kadima ruling party has already started acting to promote the future withdrawal from the West Bank, by removing potential obstacles that may work to impede the implementation of the plan. The Knesset's largest faction intends to do so by creating a majority of Arab and left-wing Knesset members on the parliamentary committees that are set to vote on the convergence plan – the Economics Committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee.

The Arab and left-wing MKs will be assigned to the committees on the expense of members of the Likud, Israel Our Home and the National Union-National Religious Party factions.

According to Knesset regulations, a party needs to have seven parliamentary mandates in order to receive automatic representation in these two important committees. In light of the problems the previous government encountered when trying to have the disengagement plan approved, the current cabinet decided to grant the Arab parties two seats in each of the committees, compared to only one seat they received during the last term.

Right-wing MKs were outraged with the decision, claiming that the Arab parties have been granted representation not proportional to their relative power in parliament. Worried that the proposed distribution will be approved by the Knesset's arranging committee, the rightist factions are trying to form a "plenum rebellion" that would take shape in constant interruptions during Knesset sessions, until the committees' distribution is changed.

(05.08.06, 14:28)

And then there's this:

Officials: Labor, Kadima could unite

After Shimon Peres suggested two parties join forces, senior Labor members say proposal cannot be rejected; 'today it may seem impossible, but it could certainly happen in the future,' one of them notes

This is not happening.



David Klinghoffer, a man who has long and loudly decried the Jewish "Cult of Victimhood" -- what he sees as a Jewish "obsession" with antisemitism and our tendency to (erroneously, of course) find it lurking in every nook and cranny, now comes forth with what has to be one of the most ridiculous sightings of antisemitism I've ever encountered. Or is this meant to be a parody?

With less than two weeks before the release of the Sony Pictures version of Dan Brown's megaselling The Da Vinci Code, worries continue to mount among traditional Christians about both the book's and the movie's impact. But should non-Christians be concerned?

Yes, we should. Jews in particular need to be aware of the gift Dan Brown has given, in all innocence, to anti-Semites.

"Loose" would be an extremely kind description of the logic and consistency found in this op-ed, but as poorly contrived and disjointed conspiracy theory in its own right, I guess it's mildly entertaining.

Christian-Muslim unity


From MEMRI, this fascinating item, which at first glance sounds like a genuine attempt at tolerance and understanding:

In an article in the Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, PA Broadcasting Authority Director Basem Abu Sumaya sharply criticized Qalqiliya Muslim clerics and dignitaries for a fatwa they issued calling for the closing of the YMCA in the city - because, they claimed, no Christians live in Qalqiliya.

The following are excerpts from the article:

"The people of Qalqiliya, who are threatened by the danger of isolation and suffocation, desire the unity and harmony of the nation - rather than calls for racist or religious discrimination. They desire the unity and harmony of the nation - and above all, Islamic-Christian unity, which has never once in Palestinian history suffered any shock or downfall. The Christians, like the Muslims, are part of the soil of this holy land.

"[I call upon] the senior officials, wherever they may serve - in the government, in the ministries that touch on this issue such as the [Ministry of] Religious Endowments, the [Ministry of] Local Government, and, likewise, on [the senior officials] in the municipal government, the dignitaries, and the clerics. All those who joined forces to write this petition to expel the [YMCA] are called upon to act to prevent this move, which is likely to provoke sectarian strife.

Ah, but here's the rub:

"This Christian association, which is headed by a Muslim, is not a missionary association opposed to the Islamic faith, and has never carried out any illegal activities. Therefore, it cannot be said that its existence leads to internal strife."

So what the PA means by "Christian-Muslim unity" is a YMCA headed by a Muslim that carefully refrains from promoting Christianity while generously providing aid, in money and goods, to the local entirely Muslim population.

You can spell that D-H-I-M-M-I.

Note, by the way, that "[t]he Christians, like the Muslims, are part of the soil of this holy land." Unlike the Jews who, you know, are the only people ever to have actually had a homeland there.

And the appeal to "Islamic-Christian unity, which has never once in Palestinian history suffered any shock or downfall" (I guess that the Crusades and Salah al-Din's little conquests don't count). For a contemporary contrary assessment, see Justus Reid Weiner's monograph, Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society.

They call her 'Rabbi'


There's an extraordinary story in The Jerusalem Post about Haviva Ner-David, who has become one of the first women to receive an Orthodox smicha (ordination) in Israel. (Note: a great deal of this story appears to be lifted from inspired by this article at Jewish Virtual Library, which cites its sources.)

Ner-David's journey is especially interesting to me because, back in 1972, with only a tiny smattering of Jewish learning under my belt, I decided that I wanted to go to rabbinical school. I was mightily disappointed to discover that the only one open to me at that time (if my goal was smicha) was Hebrew Union College. The Reform approach to Judaism just wasn't the program I was seeking, even though (actually, because) it was the one in which I'd been raised. So I gave up on the idea and went in a different direction. Subsequently, both the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Jewish Theological Seminary began ordaining women.

Forget Yeshiva University. Ner-David's application there didn't even receive the courtesy of a response. But a few women have now been ordained in non-institutional settings within the Orthodox tradition (as oxymoronic as that may sound to some) and just last month, Ner-David joined them. Unlike the others, she intends to use her title, even if it isn't official.

"I have deep respect for Rabbi Strikovsky, and I am so grateful to him for all he has taught me, modeled for me and been willing to risk for what he knew was right," she says. "His hesitation to give me a title is understandable, but really that was not his role as I see it. He acknowledged my readiness to go out into the world and act in the role of a rabbi and he left it up to my community to decide what title to give me. And it seems to me already that my community has decided that it is ready for a woman rabbi.

"I have been called up to the Torah twice since my ordination, and both times, without my inserting the title myself, the gabbai [sexton] calling me up to the Torah called me up as Harav Haviva. People are already calling me rabbi, and so, it seems that there is a community out there that is actually more ready for this development than some might have thought."

Ner-David has a very interesting perspective on her role as a rabbi -- one that didn't get much traction among Jewish feminists 35 years ago, which I guess is one of the reasons I've never considered myself one.

She continues, "What we need now is not women who simply want to prove that they can also be men, but rather, we need women who can bring a new and fresh perspective. In many ways, we are at a transitional point in the Jewish world. The world is changing and Judaism will have to change too, as it always has in the past.

"But it is crucial to figure out the right balance between innovation and tradition and the way to incorporate change without losing a sense of continuity with the past or the essence of Judaism's message about how we as Jews should connect to the Divine."

Ner-David says that "it is crucial that at this point in history, when women's voices are finally being heard in the general culture, that women be part of the conversation of how to bring Judaism into the 21st century. But we have to enter this conversation as ourselves, with our true voices, without trying to prove anything to anyone about how like the men we really are and can be.

"Even if men come to regret having agreed to share their power because we are not willing to comply with their rules, we must insist on having our true voices heard. Because what will we really have gained if we enter the rabbinate only to perpetuate the same patriarchal, hierarchical model that we have had until now?"

She doesn't have an easy road ahead (witness the comments already accumulating at the JPost), but I doubt that she'll be easily intimidated. Anyway, read the rest.

Shabbat Shalom.

Yourish on Judt


All over him, in fact. Meryl has left no stone unturned or unkicked.

May I say that this is among the finer blog posts I've read anywhere in quite a while?

Why yes, I may. Don't miss.



A very happy birthday to the State of Israel, which was proclaimed 58 years ago today, 5 Iyar 5708 by the Hebrew calendar.

Smooth Stone has posted the full text of Israel's Proclamation of Independence (which can also be found here, with audio of Ben Gurion reading the first part of it). It's quite an amazing document, considering the time and place in which it was published and what was going on around Israel's founders as they wrote it. Especially this:

The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

The State of Israel is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz-Israel.

We appeal to the United Nations to assist the Jewish people in the building-up of its State and to receive the State of Israel into the community of nations.

We appeal - in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months - to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.

We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.

Can you imagine what the Middle East would look like today if Israel's neighbors had taken her up on that offer just once in the past 58 years? What a magnificent opportunity to have squandered.

Yom Atzmaut sameach!

Remember them


Some thoughts on Yom HaZikaron, Israel's Remembrance Day:

When we are dealing with the most critical issue of all – when we are dealing with issues of life-and-death, the only measure that is appropriate to use is the country's need to survive and to prosper, to live its life and to protect its character.

If we are called upon to risk our lives to protect these things, that war is a worthwhile one to fight.

The juxtaposition of Memorial Day and Independence Day teaches us all this, and allows us to celebrate – after feeling the searing pain of loss – Israel's many accomplishments during its 58-year history.

My own previous thoughts on the same subject are here.

Daniel's story


Lori Leventhal Marcus brings some much-needed depth to the story of Daniel Wurtz, the American teenager who was critically wounded in the most recent terrorist attack at a shwarma stand in Tel Aviv.

Daniel Wultz is a 16 year old Florida teen who accompanied his father to Israel to visit relatives during Passover. On April 17th, Daniel and his father were eating in one of the few kosher Shawarma restaurants in Tel Aviv. Daniel was almost killed by the homicide bombing. In a coma for two weeks, Daniel’s spleen and one of his kidneys had to be removed. Then, this basketball-loving teenager had to have one leg amputed at the knee. It is still unknown whether the doctors will be able to save Daniel’s other leg.

An American teenager, a healthy athletic boy from sunny Florida is transformed in a split second into a shattered vessel, a soul hovering between life and death. More and more parts of his body, instead of providing him with mobility and life support, turn against him, and are pared away in an effort to save his life.

Islamic Jihad claimed credit for the April 17th bombing. One of the terror group’s leaders expressed sorrow that Daniel had not been killed, according to WorldNetDaily, one of the few media sources to cover the story.

Another Arab terrorist group seeking to share credit for the bombing extolled the double treat of having almost murdered an American and a Zionist. Islamic Jihad threatened Americans and Jews everywhere, saying they are all legitimate targets.

Lori points out that this story is getting almost no mainstream media attention. Imagine my surprise.

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