Daily Alert

31 January 2008

Words to a Son, Words of Truth

A Jewish father's plea


Dear Sean, I know this might sound strange coming from a father who's far from an observant Jew, but now that you're dating, there's something I need you to understand.

The single most important decision you'll ever make in life will not be about your education or career but about whom you'll marry.

Because who your wife is will determine, more than anything else in your adult life, the person you become, the family you'll raise, what you'll leave on earth when it will be time to go.

I know the end of life isn't something you probably give much thought to. Not many of us do, at least not until we became sick or old enough to see it hovering on the horizon. But a final day does arrive, sooner or later, for each of us. And when it comes, very few of the things we thought made such a big difference will seem to matter at all anymore. And other things we never gave much thought to will suddenly be very important. We'll want to look back at our lives and feel that, in those areas, we pretty much did the right thing.

Sean, the right thing for a Jewish person is to marry another Jew.

Not only because our religion requires it. But because when Jews marry out, they disrespect who they are, they are disloyal to the Jewish past and they chip away at the Jewish future.

Whether or not our family kept strictly kosher or celebrated Shabbat or attended services often enough is all one thing. But the thought of bringing about the end of a proud Jewish line stretching back in time for centuries is something else. It's more than some religious transgression.

YOU NEVER asked to be a Jew, I know. You were born one. But being Jewish isn't a burden. It's a gift. It means you are part of something bigger, much bigger, than yourself.

Each of us Jews represents the hopes of so many Jewish ancestors. Don't forget, you're not just Sean, you're Shmuel too. And even if you only used your Jewish name when you made the blessings over the Torah at your bar-mitzvah, it is still who you really are, an inheritance from your grandfather. And it was the same thing to him from an ancestor of his. You can't just ignore the meaning of something like that. It's a responsibility. All of my ancestors and your mother's, all those Jews who came before us, lived, and sometimes died to keep their Jewish identity and heritage going.

I know that love is a powerful emotion. That's exactly why I'm writing this as you begin to date. The young women you become close to will form the pool where you'll find the person you want to spend your life with. Don't give yourself the opportunity to fall in love with someone you cannot, as a Jew in good conscience, marry. And never forget that what the world calls "love" isn't all there is to a successful and happy life. Every marriage that ended in divorce or worse, after all, started in a rush of love. For a marriage to really work, there has to be not only attraction and care but shared ideals and goals. And part of a Jewish man or woman's goals has to be to take their Jewish identity seriously, and to instill it into their children.

I don't care whether the girl you marry is white, black or yellow. I don't care if she speaks English, Hebrew, Yiddish or Swahili. I don't care if she was born a Jew or became one, legally, properly, and sincerely. But if she isn't Jewish, I know there will be tears, in your mother's eyes and mine - and also in heaven.

They say these days that most Jewish parents in the Diaspora don't care if their children marry other Jews or not. I hope it's not true, but even if it is, we do. Remember what I've told you many times: Being a Jew means being ready to buck the tide, to say no to others - even a lot of others - when something important's at stake. Sean, you're the future of our family. I hope you'll have the courage and the strength to do the right thing.



Rabbi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.

A Jewish soul calling from the pit, the fear brought on by darkness and hopelessness praying for merely the glimmer of Holy light is a most stirring vision. A father pouring out his heart's visions and fears to his son is equally stirring. When the father happens to be Jewish and his fear is couched in an idea larger than himself, spiritual preventative medicine, how much the more so can we not be stirred?

This father's message to his son could truth be told, apply to so much of Jewish life. Don't give in because to do so is to "disrespect who they are, they are disloyal to the Jewish past and they chip away at the Jewish future". Every aveirah, every lost mitzvah opportunity, a chesed let go by, is chipping away at the Jewish future, distancing a Jew further from HaShem, distancing all Jews further from HaShem.

The father brings together many important ideas. What is "being disloyal to the Jewish past"? What does it mean to "disrespect who they are"? Why does any of this apply to us?

Continuity is of course important, but without meaning is irrelevant. Jewish continuity is more than demographics, it is about purpose. One of Judaism's primary goals is to make this world a proper dwelling place for HaShem, to bring down to this physical place, a spiritual purpose. It takes Torah to do that. Somewhere in the continuity Torah must come along too. Maybe the father should have advised "Sean/Shmuel" what sort of girl he should marry not just what sort of girl he shouldn't marry? I wanted to read into the word's of the father "Shmuel, you should marry a girl who will be a shining example to your Jewish children, who will lead them into the Jewish future they are entitled to inherit and build an everlasting foundation for your descendants, bringing us closer to the time of Moshiach".

The emotional appeal of the Yakov Shewky song "Shema" elicits feelings similar to those of this prayerful father. To answer the questions posed above, take a look at the lyrics at the link. It tells the story of a Jewish mother's attempt to save her son from the Shoah leaving him with those word's that can elevate a Jew's sense of self to the point of not having any self, words that restore souls to their lofty heights. "Know that there is but one G-d above". Shmuel, don't disappoint either your father or your Father. Maybe you didn't have the Jewish upbringing you could have had, as long as you are moving up the ladder and not down the ladder you are on the right track. For you that means, date only Jewish girls. And as for your father, it is never too late. A man that can write this type of letter has the potential inside to ascend to great heights. Both father and son could commit to being better Jews together.

Remember what I've told you many times: Being a Jew means being ready to buck the tide, to say no to others - even a lot of others - when something important's at stake. Sean, you're the future of our family. I hope you'll have the courage and the strength to do the right thing.

Indeed. Being Jewish means doing things the Jewish way even when it requires a superhuman effort. This is when Jewish souls are at their best. That striving to do what is right by their Creator overcomes all societal barriers. The world passes by, doing whatever "comes naturally" what is interpreted as "good" and believed to be "right" yet the Jew does what the Jew is supposed to do, no matter how different and well, "Jewish" it is to the uncircumcised eyes of the world.

How disheartening it was to read some of the Jpost talkbacks for this article. The scorn, the see I told you so self-righteousness, the disbelief, where praise should have been heaped on this father for the self-examination, confession and advice to his son, left me shocked. Who would conclude this letter was written from guilt and self-interest? Unlike one of the talkbacks which criticized Rabbi Shafran for sharing this letter, I applaud him for doing so. We can all grow and learn from the example of true emuna, the pintele yid of this father emerging at a moment of truth and with G-d's help bringing his son into a new sense of reality. A Jewish reality. The only reality.

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28 January 2008

If a Burglar is Caught... Mishpatim

2nd Amendment Foundation - SLOW Load

(link will open a download box in a separate window. the file is 10mg)

This slow loading audio of a 911 call is a must for anyone who questions the right to keep and bear arms. How convenient that Parshas Mishpatim falls this week. I received a link to this audio from the 2nd Amendment Foundation in my email. The Torah text comes from Navigating the Bible from the Ort website.

As stated in the email:
She is alive today because she had a handgun and defended herself. It only took five minutes for her attacker to make it to her locked bedroom where she hid herself in a closet. Only five minutes and the police were still on their way to help but were not there yet.

I know no other human right in Judaism as important as the preservation of life.

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24 January 2008

Obama? Oh My!

Jewish Leaders Question Obama's Stand on Middle East

17 Shevat 5768, January 24, '08
(IsraelNN.com) Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama still is reeling from negativity from the Jewish community, which is questioning his position on the Palestinian Authority (PA)-Israeli conflict. Earlier this week, seven Jewish democratic senators wrote an open letter condemning an e-mail campaign that falsely accused Sen. Obama of being a Muslim.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) circulated a memo questioning Sen. Obama on his approach to Iran's nuclear development and on negotiations between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel. The Jewish Forward revealed the memo, which stated that Sen. Obama "appears to believe the Israelis bear the burden of taking the risky steps for peace, and that the violence Israel has received in return does not shift that burden. The AJC expressed "regret" that the internal memo was published.

The memo also notes that Sen. Obama previously has made statements favoring diplomatic talks with Iran and negotiating with Syria.

January 23, 2008

Barack Obama's Middle East Expert
By Ed Lasky

Barack Obama's real thinking about Israel and the Middle East continues to be an enigma. The words he chose in an address to AIPAC create a different impression than the composition of his foreign policy advisory team. Several advisors have evidenced a history of suspicion and worse toward Israel. One of his advisors in particular, Robert Malley, clearly warrants attention, as does the reasoning that led him to being chosen by Barack Obama.

A little family history may be in order to understand the genesis of Robert Malley's views. Normally, one should be reluctant in exploring a person's family background -- after all, who would want to be held responsible for the sins of one's father? However, when close relatives share a strong current of ideological affinity, and when a father has a commanding persona, it behooves a researcher to inquire a bit into the role of family in forming views. That said, Robert Malley has a very interesting father.

His father Simon Malley was born to a Syrian family in Cairo and at an early age found his métier in political journalism. He participated in the wave of anti-imperialist and nationalist ideology that was sweeping the Third World. He wrote thousands of words in support of struggle against Western nations. In Paris, he founded the journal Afrique Asie; he and his magazine became advocates for "liberation" struggles throughout the world, particularly for the Palestinians.

Simon Malley loathed Israel and anti-Israel activism became a crusade for him-as an internet search would easily show. He spent countless hours with Yasser Arafat and became a close friend of Arafat. He was, according to Daniel Pipes, a sympathizer of the Palestinian Liberation Organization --- and this was when it was at the height of its terrorism wave against the West . His efforts were so damaging to France that President Valerie d'Estaing expelled him from the country.

Malley has seemingly followed in his father's footsteps: he represents the next generation of anti-Israel activism. Through his writings he has served as a willing propagandist, bending the truth (and more) to serve an agenda that is marked by anti-Israel bias; he heads a group of Middle East policy advisers for a think-tank funded (in part) by anti-Israel billionaire activist George Soros; and now is on the foreign policy staff of a leading Presidential contender. Each step up the ladder seems to be a step closer towards his goal of empowering radicals and weakening the ties between American and our ally Israel.

Robert Malley's writings strike me as being akin to propaganda. One notable example is an op-ed that was published in the New York Times (Fictions About the Failure at Camp David). The column indicted Israel for not being generous enough at Camp David and blamed the failure of the talks on the Israelis.

Malley has repeated this line of attack in numerous op-eds over the years, often co-writing with Hussein Agha, a former adviser to Yasser Arafat (see, for example, Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors ). He was also believed to be the chief source for an article by Deborah Sontag that whitewashed Arafat's role in the collapse of the peace process, an article that has been widely criticized as riddled with errors and bias.
(excerpt - the remainder of the article is here.)

Just a few days ago, the heads of major Jewish organizations released a press release denouncing smear jobs on Obama but seemed to ignore what Obama is really about. One wonders why Abe Foxman, Marvin Hier and company are spending their time worrying about urban myths aimed at Obama's feelings instead of examining the candidate's positions. With all fairness, Obama is not as best as I can determine anti-Semitic (in that he has no hatred for Jews or Israel based upon economic, political or religious beliefs) although his long time pastor Jeremiah Wright probably is. I give credit to Obama for distancing himself from Wright's infatuation with Farrakhan.

However, Obama's history lends itself to an interpretation that he may be anti-Jew if he really concludes that Israel is to blame for the conflict in the middle east. I draw that conclusion based upon the available evidence: the AJC memo, his associations and interest in negotiating with Israel's enemies. A casual reading of the comments quoted in the Israel National News story of the AJC internal memo as reported by Forward, show a callousness towards Israel which causes concern.

Israel must never be pushed into "taking the risky steps for peace" as the memo reveals Obama supports. Such moves lead to an increase in terrorist attacks and the spilling of Jewish blood. All the more so, if attacks by lunatic barbarians who seem to be intentionally trying to provoke a significant military response from Israel by firing rockets into Sderot daily cannot evoke from Obama a sense of sympathy, what must one conclude? Obama, in order to hold this position, (if accurately reported) must not value Jewish life or feels that randomly dropping rockets on civilian population centers is a legitimate form of warfare. (Warfare for the underclass nationalist movements, etc.) An opinion such as that one leads the same casual observer to wonder what Obama must have learned in Midrassa.

The belief that the Jew must take his punishment and still be responsible for changing the scenario where the punishment is being meted out is anti-Jew. There is no way around this conclusion. But give Obama a benefit of the doubt. The underpinning of his belief is no different than that held by many others, primarily but not limited to the left in America today. The leading proponents for a mythical two-state solution are on the left. (Bush and Condi excluded). Blaming Israel is part of counter-culture mythology a function of a mis-interpretation of who is the aggressor and who is the victim, who has ill will toward whom. When Israel is viewed as the oppressor of the poor palestinians, a view held more so on the left than the right, the logical conclusion is that Israel must give something to compensate the victims of their anger. While the arabians are the weaker party in terms of the pali-Israel conflict, they are clearly not innocent. The left avoids studying how the situation got to where it is today; liberals need no justifications. Someone should ask Obama if he knows why there was a war in 1948 and if he believes that had a "palestine" been established at that time if there would be peace today. Why was the PLO established before Israel "occupied" Yesha? Why did the Six Day war occur? Readers of this blog know the answers to these questions. Does Obama? Hillary? One wonders whether Foxman, Hier and company have the seichal to ask?

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21 January 2008

MoJo Debates Israel

5 Questions On Israel For The Next Debate

As I've said before, there's been a vacuum surrounding Israel and Palestine this campaign season. Moderators have broached the issue only twice in the last 13 debates. And the most recent question, posed by Wendell Goler last week at the Fox News debate in South Carolina, was pretty weak. As Goler wound up—"Mayor Giuliani, President Bush is in the Middle East ... laying the groundwork for a Palestinian state"—there was, briefly, a glimmer of hope. Then he tossed this doozy of a softball: "I wonder, sir, how you would keep a Palestinian state from becoming a breeding ground for anti-American terrorism." One of several surreal assumptions behind the question seemed to be, "The Palestinians are prostrate, mightn't it be better if they're kept that way?" And that to the candidate with the Likudnik A-team advising him. Oh, well.

Since the debates have been so deficient in this area, I asked five well-informed Middle East observers what they would ask the candidates on the issue, if they could ask anything. The only ground rule was to keep it brief; no other boundaries. Here are their responses:

From Juan Cole of Informed Comment: Has Israeli colonization of the West Bank proceeded to the point where a two-state solution has become impractical? And, if so, isn't there now a choice between an Apartheid state or a one-state solution?

From Matthew Duss of TAPPED: Recognizing that Israel's settlements in the occupied territories are considered illegal under international law, and recognizing that their relentless expansion, which has continued over the last decade despite repeated Israeli assurances to the contrary, is both a source of Palestinian suffering and a major instigator of extremism and violence, as well as being deeply prejudicial to final status negotiations, are you prepared to take a firm stand against the settlements, and to carry through with real consequences if Israel does not cease settlement expansion?

From Trita Parsi, author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States: Since 1993, the United States has pursued a policy of seeking peace between Israel and Palestine by isolating Iran. As former Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk said, the two were symbiotic. Peace was necessary to isolate Iran, isolating Iran was necessary for peace. Fifteen years later, we can conclude that this strategy was an utter failure. Yet, the Bush Administration is following a similar path, seeking to create an alliance of Israel and Sunni Arab dictatorships to isolate Iran under the guise of peacemaking. In your administration, how would you approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? By repeating the Bush/Clinton policy or by pursuing a holistic approach aimed at giving all regional actors a stake in the outcome and process of peacemaking?

From Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss: Why is it that our last two presidents only made a major push on Israel/Palestine at the end of their 8-year terms, when they had nothing politically to lose? Doesn't this show that this is the big enchilada in foreign affairs and that our politics around this issue are unhealthy? What will you do differently, before your 8 years are up?

From Stephen Zunes of Foreign Policy in Focus: For Senator Clinton. During the 2006 war in Lebanon, you co-sponsored a resolution condemning Hezbollah for its alleged use of "human shields." Since then, detailed on-the-ground studies by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, while highly critical of Hezbollah's responsibility for civilian deaths in Israel, have challenged the claims by the Bush administration that Hezbollah's alleged use of "human shields" contributed to the high numbers of civilian deaths from Israeli bombardment in Lebanon. Similarly, the reports of these credible human rights organizations have placed responsibility for the vast majority of the 800 Lebanese civilian deaths on the government of Israel. Are you willing to acknowledge that Israel was culpable for most of the Lebanese civilian deaths? And, as president, would you belittle the findings of human rights groups in order to support violations of international humanitarian law by U.S. allies?

I'll be sending these along to the next few debate moderators. Have a good question for the candidates on Israel? Put proposals in the comments.—Justin Elliott

I do not usually go out looking for liberal tripe (is there any other?) But one of the feeds on the right hand side of the APRPEH blog is a Google news about Israel feed. Most of the time the main stories of the day appear there originating from various news services around the world. In terms of Israel news, it doesn't really make too much of a difference which news service you read. While the product of bias can be expressed through endless variation, begging indulgence in the mixing of metaphor, when it comes to pigs in a poke, a squeal is still a squeal. Characterizing the comments of these "well-informed Middle East observers" as anything other than an exercise in anti-Jew reflux would be to unfairly attribute a benefit of the doubt to the undeserving. But then again it is "Mother Jones".

Briefly skimming the surface of the comments for the basic assumptions of the questions, objectivity requires an honest assessment of credibility. None can be found. Israel's legal right to all of Yosh (setting aside the strongest case for not only developing Yosh but for retaining sole authority in Yosh; that is, G-d deeded assignment of this land to the Jews) is not only more credible than that posed by the Arabians it is justified by history and precedent. Using the terminology of "colonization" and "apartheid" muddy the waters of reason with emotional appeals relying on sound bites. All states set their boundaries, by fighting if necessary, and determine who is a citizen and who is not entitled to remain within those borders. If this is what the so-called “well informed observer” above means, than guilty as charged. Since Israel is by right, owner of Yosh, then these decisions justifiably are as legal for Israel to make as is for any state. Further, the idea that Israel is the reason for arabian extremism somehow causing barbarians living in and around Israel to act barbaric must be measured against the actions of those arabians who do not live in and around Israel. And not only in comparison to the nearness to Israel but also to the lengths of years for which arabian barbarism has existed. If Israel is to blame for the attacks of islamic facism and arabian terrorism, what was the cause for this behavior prior to Israel's re-establishment or prior to Jews even returning to the land in large numbers in the late 1800s? Such a line of reasoning and questioning is based solely on blame the Jew illogic.

Jews, as almost everyone knows have been the most loyal of voters for the democrat party. Is it the desire to intervene in the affairs of Israel and jeopardize her security which drives these voters to the liberal's home of political power in the US? Is it the will of the Jewish liberal voters to bring an unfavorable resolution of the conflict (as if it were negotiable) thereby endangering their brethren, (the ultimate in self-hating Jewish guilt) or is it the supposed guarantee assumed by the leadership of the left that espousing such clearly anti-Israel policies has no cost? Why worry about losing Jewish voters? Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III earned a reputation of scorn amongst Jews for supposedly saying something of the sort " F--- the Jews, they don't vote for us anyhow". And the collective voice of leftist elitists, what do they say?' F--- the Jews, they'll vote for us anyhow!" The Jew is left to be the Jew. And judging from the voices printed in this leading journal of liberal thought, what conclusion can one objectively draw?

As to the final claim regarding human shields, it is astounding that anyone would question what has been an arabian war strategy for as long as anyone can remember? The US has faced the same tactics in Iraq as Israel has in every war beginning in 1948. Who cares what HRW reported? The best evidence of course, is general neglect of ascribing any rights to civilians by arabians during war. The use of bomb belts strapped to the religious youth, "our future" we in the west would call it (ergo- Whitney Houston) produces the kal v'chomer. If arabian and islamic tactics permit human bombs, surely they permit the lesser offense of shooting at Jews from within civilian residential neighborhoods, mosques and public centers? Certainly, storing munitions in schools and using ambulances to haul fighters are all therefore permissible? Since these offenses have been documented repeatedly, one wonders what motivation is driving reports that are contrary to the precedent? But to be purely logical, the question presented above ignores motive. Did Israel target civilians or military positions in Lebanon? Did Hizbollah (or substitute any of your favorite arabian death gangs) shoot at civilians during the war or military targets? The weight of evidence exceeds overwhelms deniability. Hizbollah has not earned the reputation of "terrorist organization" for nothing and Israel the reputation of being one of the most professional military organizations in the world despite the unimpressive results of the war against Hizbollah.

Maybe in future debates, the candidates should be asked to whom they extend a benefit of the doubt? Or maybe they should be asked this question instead of the questions suggested in the article: "If Israel is to make a deal with the "palestinians", provided that the “palestinian” side has a legitimate negotiating authority with the power to implement a deal and the will to do so, and the deal in your opinion served to weaken Israel's ability to defend itself and thereby damages American interests in the middle east, should US policy be to support or oppose the peace agreement?" Let this question be the truth test.

Human Shield backgrounder

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10 January 2008

Who Speaks For the Rebbe?

"The Rebbe would never tolerate Wolpe's actions"

The Forward: In a major blow to a decade-long campaign to play down divisions within the Chabad-Lubavitch ultra-Orthodox movement, the movement's Israeli leadership appears ready to publicly distance itself from a significant messianic strand within the movement.

Nathan Jeffay/The Forward
Rabbi’s Incitement Against Olmert Threatens To Split Apart Chabad
Lubavitch Messianist: Prime Minister Should Be ‘Hanged From the Gallows’
In a major blow to a decade-long campaign to play down divisions within the Chabad-Lubavitch ultra-Orthodox movement, the sect’s Israeli leadership appears ready to publicly distance itself from a significant messianic strand within the movement.

The unexpected development has been forced on the Chabad leadership by a spreading tide of anger toward the movement this week, after a rabbi from the messianic strand declared that, were Israel properly run, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would be “hanged from the gallows.”

Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe, a Chabad educator and author, launched into a tirade about Israel’s negotiations with Palestinians at the conference of a right-wing organization he runs, S.O.S. Israel.

“The terrible traitor, Ehud Olmert, who gives these Nazis weapons, who gives money, who frees their murderous terrorists, this man, like Ariel Sharon, collaborates with the Nazis,” Wolpe said on Wednesday, January 2, in remarks that were shown on Israeli television news.

A Chabad spokesman in Israel, Moni Ender, lashed out at Wolpe for his comments.

“This is not Lubavitch. Rabbi Wolpe is talking by himself. We have nothing to do with him. He makes dirt for Chabad,” Ender said.

Wolpe is the most popular leader of the messianic strand of Chabad, which holds that the 1994 death of the Lubavitcher rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson did not challenge the belief held in parts of the sect that he was the messiah. Wolpe was the first rabbi to go public with this position in 1994. A conflict has festered since then between followers of this belief and others, who present themselves as the mainstream and who reject such overt messianic claims.

Leaders on both sides have struggled to honor a ruling of a Brooklyn-based rabbinical court, issued immediately after the rebbe’s death, that said the movement should not split in two and the factions should not publicly undermine each other. This week, though, Ender told the Forward that Wolpe’s comments are doing such damage to the sect’s reputation that it could become necessary to publicly declare that the messianists cannot act or speak on its behalf.

“If we are needed to make it black and white we are different to [the messianists],” Ender added. “We never talk about politics. If necessary, I will do that.”

Some Chabad leaders in America also directed strong words at Wolpe. Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the Chabad representative in Washington, told the Forward that Wolpe’s comments “contravene the most basic tenets of Chabad philosophy” and are “beyond the pale of what the rebbe would tolerate.”

Mainstream Chabad newsletters did not reference the matter.

Wolpe’s outburst is so problematic because incitement to violence by rabbis has become the ultimate taboo, since rabbinical injunctions were blamed for inspiring Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin in 1995.

In the past, mainstream Chabad leaders have been on the right side of the political spectrum in Israel. During the 1990s, a number of leading Chabad rabbis in Israel were involved in the opposition to the Oslo peace process.

During that time, one messianist rabbi, Yitzhak Ginsburgh, was put in administrative detention for incitement to violence. But at that time, few observers connected Ginsburgh to the Chabad movement.

This time around, the backlash to Wolpe’s comments is taking on Chabad more generally, even resulting in calls to stop it from engaging in its trademark task — taking Judaism to secular Jews. Meretz party Knesset member Chaim Oron has urged the Knesset to issue a blanket ban on all Chabad activists from Israeli army bases. Other politicians have also responded angrily.

Chabad occupies a privileged position among Israel’s ultra-Orthodox groups, being the only major Hasidic group whose members serve in the army. Its rabbis are also regarded as informal chaplains.

It is the threat to this activity that could force Chabad to declare the messianists separate from the movement, Ender said. The sect would “prefer to get to every soldier and every Jew wherever they are, rather than pay the price of Rabbi Wolpe’s comments.”

In America, Shemtov said that Chabad would not comment on whether it would back such a move “unless or until such a situation arises.” He did say that as a rule, Chabad headquarters back Israel: “In general, when the Chabad rabbinate in Israel makes a decision, you don’t find opposition to them in America or around the world. They have a force of authority.”

Wolpe went beyond criticism of Olmert. He claimed that if justice were done, Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak would hang, as well as Olmert. In an interview with the Forward last Tuesday, Wolpe stood by his comments, adding that they were an acceptable way to “show how far [Olmert] has gone.”

The determination of Wolpe and other messianists to make political statements is integrally connected to their belief that the rebbe is the messiah. Working from statements that Schneerson made, opposing land for peace and calling for expansionist policies for Israel, the messianists have tended to promote hard-line right-wing positions.

As to the heat he is feeling from other Chabad leaders, Wolpe said: “What is embarrassing Chabad is that we don’t do anything to stop the Holocaust Olmert is bringing to Israel. What are they doing?”

Statements of condemnation have come from American Jewish organizations, including the Orthodox Union, which has been critical of the Olmert government but said the comments were “beyond the pale of legitimate democratic protest and have no basis in Jewish law or hashkafa (philosophy).”

APRPEH in an earlier post stated that ChaBaD had at the time of the post not officially distanced itself from the comments of Rabbi Wolpe. According to the Forward article reprinted by Shturem, an effort may be under way to do that. Whether or not it can be considered official is another matter. It seems that Rabbi Wolpe has moved away from suggesting the death of Olmert to suggesting that the time for martyrdom on behalf of the land of Israel may have come. Most recently his rhetoric has lent an opinion that Bush and Olmert are "bringing another Holocaust".

Now clearly I am against concessions to barbarians whether political or territorial. But to suggest that Bush and Olmert want or are proposing actions that will lead to "another Holocaust" is merely outlandish. The end result of an ill-advised deal with the arabs will likely result in bloodshed but a "holocaust"? Is such imagery really productive?

Yes, it is important that a strong opposition be mounted against any arrangements with the arabians, especially with Olmert in charge and even more so as it impacts Jerusalem. But in order for that opposition to be effective, such leaps to the ridiculous must be shunned. Rabbi Wolpe has his right to an opinion. His opinion however, must never be considered the voice of the opposition to deals with barbarians.

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08 January 2008

The Bush Burned And Olmert Was Consumed

The following is a press release from Americans for a Safe Israel I received by email today. Judging by the headline in today's Jpost, Olmert and Abbas to start negotiations on core issues the long awaited crash of the Olmert regime may finally come to fruition. Bye bye Shas and Yisrael Beitenu. Pres. Bush may leave Israel wondering if he caused his friend Ehud his job.

Click to enlarge

Press Release:

U.S. Evangelical Leaders Reject Palestinian State in Judea and Samaria
in Jerusalem Post Ad Keyed to President Bush’s Arrival in Israel

Jerusalem, 1/8/08 – Proclaiming “an ineradicable bond between the geographical integrity of the land…and God’s promise of the land as “an everlasting possession” to the people of Israel, 26 American Evangelical pastors and lay leaders from 11 states and the District Colombia (plus a Canadian entry from British Columbia), affixed their signatures to a full-page Jerusalem Post ad flatly rejecting President Bush’s Annapolis-launched campaign to shoehorn a “Palestinian State” between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River (see attachment {the above ad, APRPEH}).

Headlined “President Bush: There will be No Legacy” and timed for the President’s January 9-10th visit to Israel, the ad declares the creation of such an entity “detrimental to the stability or both Israel and Jordan, the peace of the Middle East and the security interests of the United States.

The signatories mirror a cross section of some of the most influential voices on the U,S.Evangelical and Pentacostal scene, including, inter alia, national media personality Dr. Michael Evans, chairman of Churches United With Israel in Mr. Bush’s home state of Texas; Tennessee Pastor Robert Upton, a major figure in the powerful Pentacostal Congress; Pastor Jim Vineyard, whose press and internet opposition to Israeli territorial concessions has attracted national attention, and White House backyard neighbors the Rev. James Hutchens of the Jerusalem Connection and Richard Hellman, head of Christians’Israel Public Action Campaign, Capitol Hill’s best known pro-Israel Christian advocacy group.

Herbert Zweibon, chairman of New York-based Americans For A Safe Israel, sponsor of the ad, characterized it as a “reflection of the rising concern among Bible-oriented Christians at the negation of the Covenant, the marginalization of four millennia of Judeo-Christian civilization and the existential and geostrategic peril implicit in any decision to dismember Jerusalem and deliver Judea and Samaria into the hands of a radical Islamic nexus.”

Zweibon said he was awed by the moral courage exhibited by the signatories. “Taking issue with a president they admired and supported was no easy matter for these pastors and their congregants,” he noted, “but as Christians, addressing a professed born-again Christian, they felt obligated to tell the president that pressuring a weak and extremely unpopular Olmert government to place Israel in the direst jeopardy it has ever known was morally, religiously and geopolitically indefensible. We all hope he gets the message.”

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06 January 2008

Rabbi Wolpe and Permissible Political Expression

Knesset Members and OU Condemn Rabbi Wolpe's 'Gallows' Remark

26 Tevet 5768, 04 January 08 03:41by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz (IsraelNN.com) Members of Knesset, ministers and a major US-based Orthodox Jewish organization condemned Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe on Thursday for his statements likening Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other ministers to collaborators with the Nazis, saying that by law they should be executed. Rabbi Wolpe made the remarks on Tuesday, at a gathering of activists and supporters of SOS Israel, a rabbinic organization he heads, which focuses on preserving Jewish life throughout the Land of Israel.

During the meeting, Rabbi Wolpe called Olmert a traitor, accusing him and others of aiding the the modern-day "Nazis" in the Palestinian Authority by giving them weapons and releasing terrorist killers from prison. According to Israeli law, the rabbi elaborated, Olmert, Vice Premier Chaim Ramon, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and others should be "hanged upon the gallows" for collaborating with and aiding "Nazi" terrorists.

"This gathering is intended to make it clear to the public that we are facing a serious danger due to the government's actions," said Rabbi Wolpe on Tuesday. "We have a government that collaborates with the enemy, the Palestinian enemy that wants to destroy Israel. The government of Israel is supplying them with money and weapons, releasing murderers.... We came to warn and discuss how we can prevent this, G-d forbid, holocaust that the government is bringing on us."

Rabbi Wolpe also said that his organization will be calling for IDF soldiers to refuse orders to remove Jews from their homes anywhere in the Land of Israel, if such orders are issued. Also addressing the emergency conference, called in response to US President George W. Bush's upcoming visit to the region, was MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union).

Rabbi Wolpe Clarifies
Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe said Thursday that the comments he made at the Tuesday conference were twisted and taken out of context. In calling for the execution of state leaders by legal means, he was not calling for vigilante violence, he explained, but rather calling on the police to implement the law.

Rabbi Wolpe wrote that he believes violence against a fellow Jew is unacceptable, but that law enforcement has the right and responsibility to enforce the law. One of Israel's laws prohibits providing assistance to Nazis, he explained, and Muslim terrorist groups are the Nazis of our day. If the government provides terrorists with aid, he reasoned, then the government has violated the law and its members must suffer the consequences, which include the death penalty. Rabbi Wolpe emphasized that he was calling for any such punishments to be carried out in a legal manner.

'Beyond the Pale'
Minister Yaakov Edery (Kadima) called for an urgent government session to discuss Rabbi Wolpe's speech. He expressed concern that a "calamity" might occur as a result of the rabbi's comments. Members of the leftist Peace Now organization expressed outrage and called for Rabbi Wolpe to be indicted before the Supreme Court. %ad%

Opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu harshly criticized Rabbi Wolpe as well, saying there is no place for violence in a democracy.

MK Chaim Oron (Meretz) went a step further. Noting that SOS Israel was founded by a sect within Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidim, of whom Rabbi Wolpe is one, Oron called for a blanket ban on all Chabad activists entering IDF bases. IDF commanders often grant Chabad volunteers access to military bases and outposts so that the Chassidim can distribute holiday-related items and perform certain religious rituals with soldiers who are interested.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU), the largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization in the United States, released a condemnatory statement Thursday. OU President Stephen J. Savitsky and Executive Vice President Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb said that Rabbi Wolpe's remarks were "beyond the pale of legitimate democratic protest and have no basis in Jewish law or hashkafa (philosophy)."

The OU leaders added the admonition, "We call upon all God-fearing Jews to act in a manner that brings praise to God, his People, Land and Torah."

Rabbi Wolpe: My Words Were Twisted

(IsraelNN.com) Chabad rabbi and political activist Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe said Thursday that a speech he gave at a recent “SOS Israel” event was twisted and taken out of context. When he said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Vice Premier Chaim Ramon, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and other members of the government would be hung, he was not calling for vigilante violence, he said, but rather calling on the police to implement the law.

Rabbi Wolpe wrote a clarification, explaining that he believes violence against a fellow Jew is unacceptable, but that law enforcement has the right and responsibility to enforce the law. One of Israel’s laws prohibits providing assistance to Nazis, he said, and Muslim terrorist groups are the Nazis of our day. If the government provides terrorists with aid, the government has violated the law, and must suffer the consequences, which include the death penalty. Rabbi Wolpe emphasized that he was calling for any such punishments to be carried out in a legal manner.

Members of the leftist Peace Now group expressed outrage after Rabbi Wolpe’s speech, and called on the Supreme Court to put him on trial. MK Chaim Oron (Meretz) went a step further, saying all activists belonging to the Chabad chassidic group should be banned from IDF bases.

Rabbi Wolpe on declaring independant Judea

Yeshiva World News version

OU Press Release

Shturem's Version (Chabad site)

Chabad.info version (ChaBaD meshchist site)

Shamis Search page on articles involving Rabbi Wolpe

arab exploitation of the story

A recent post at APRPEH contained an underlying theme of needing unity amongst the Orthodox. Then, this story explodes. The OU throws a fit and by doing so, throws ChaBaD on the tracks. Rabbi Wolpe's comments went way too far, granted, but the reaction from the left is to associate all ChaBaD with Rabbi Wolpe. I have included a number of article links above some of which are from ChaBaD news services for greater perspective. So far, I haven't seen any attempts to distance ChaBaD from Rabbi Wolpe's comments.

Much of what Rabbi Wolpe said is not out of bounds contrary to the quote "OU President Stephen J. Savitsky and Executive Vice President Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb said that Rabbi Wolpe's remarks were "beyond the pale of legitimate democratic protest and have no basis in Jewish law or hashkafa (philosophy)." ". The calls to investigate the government and the dangerous policy it is pursuing are indeed legitimate political expression. This is especially true given the nature of the Israeli electoral system. Polls consistently show very little public support for Olmert or his policies. Calling for public hangings is clearly not legitimate political expression and for those comments Rabbi Wolpe should be brought to task. His justification that the Arabians are today's Nazi's and using the Nazi execution law as a crutch while pleasing to the emotion as a just analysis is insulting to the intellect in it's over-simplification. Rabbi Wolpe's remarks as was pointed out in a Jpost article may be investigated for incitement. The Israeli anti-Jews always looking for a pretext to make reference to the Rabin assassination have flipped in conniptions in the wake of Rabbi Wolpe's unfortunate comments. Why not jump at the chance to garner support for their disengagement policy of self-destruction by shaming the opposition into the belief that any and all debate will be illegitimately linked to Rabbi Wolpe. Why not squelch the voice of and weaken the power of the nationalists when the opportunity arises? And what is all this anti-Semitic talk libeling all of ChaBaD due to the comments of one Rabbi affiliated with ChaBaD? Who could stretch to such ridiculous lengths without having true anti-religious feelings? But is Rabbi Wolpe alone?

MK Aryeh Eldad of the National Union/NRP has called for civil disobedience to protest the halt of construction in east Jerusalem.
“These days we hear that a ministerial committee is gathering to redefine the term ‘blood on their hands’,” Eldad continued, “And I say – there is blood on the hands of Olmert and members of his government, the blood of these precious soldiers are on the hands of those who released terrorists, gave them weapons and armored vehicles as goodwill gestures!” MK Eldad Calls for Civil Disobedience .

Others have come close to suggesting Olmert's actions are treasonous for the same reason: Shiloh Musings running Ruth Matar of WIG coming close to Rabbi Wolpe's views on traitors. So why focus only on Rabbi Wolpe? Could it be the unpopularity of his brand of ChaBaD? Didn't he clarify his statement thereby reinforcing the rule of law and reiterating his belief of not committing "violence against a fellow Jew". It seems that Rabbi Wolpe is on more solid ground than MK Eldad?

And maybe in an unexpected way, Rabbi Wolpe and MK Eldad are not too far off the reservation.

Olmert is Warned: 'Talk About Jerusalem - Break the Law'
28 Tevet 5768, 06 January 08 07:53by Hillel Fendel
(IsraelNN.com) Two Jerusalem organizations have sent a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, reminding him that discussions with US President Bush or PA Chairman Abbas regarding a possible division of Jerusalem are in violation of Israeli law.
A prominent lawyer for the Victims of Arab Terror (VAT) and Twenty-Four Shifts organizations penned the letter, warning Olmert that if he does not announce an end to all talks over the future of Jerusalem, he will be considered in violation of the law.
In his letter, Attorney Baruch Ben-Yosef makes the point that Clauses 5 and 6 of one of Israel's cardinal laws - Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel - mean that Jerusalem's status as the united and sole capital of Israel may not be compromised.
The first clause of the law in question, passed in 1980 under Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Yitzchak Navon, states, "Jerusalem, whole and united, is the capital of Israel." Clause 5 stipulates the precise area of Jerusalem, while Clause 6 states, "No authorities relating to the area of Jerusalem and that is in the legal purview of the State of Israel or the Municipality of Jerusalem shall be transferred to any foreign political or governmental element, whether permanently or for a set period."
Clause 7 states that Clauses and 5 and 6 may not be changed except if another Basic Law is accepted by the majority of the Knesset.
The Warning to Olmert
"According to frequently-published statements by you and some of the ministers in your government," the letter to Olmert states, "you intend to negotiate with Israel's enemies - including Mr. Abu Mazen, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority - regarding the re-division of Jerusalem and the ceding of parts of the city - in violation of Clauses 5 and 6 of this law."
"The very mention of dividing the city and giving up parts of it, while the Basic Law on Jerusalem is still in effect and/or Clauses 5-6 have not been nullified, is a violation of the Basic Law. If you wish to hold negotiations with a foreign element, and especially with an enemy of Israel such as Abu Mazen, then you must act in accordance with the law's Clause 7 - i.e., nullifying and/or changing [Clauses 5 and 6] via a majority vote in the Knesset."
Attorney Ben-Yosef explains why his warning is timely: "Given that you and/or ministers in your government are liable to wage such negotiations during and after the visit of US President Bush, you are hereby required to declare immediately that you will observe the Basic Law and that you will not wage any negotiations over the future of Jerusalem while the above law and/or its clauses are still in effect."
"If by next Sunday, the 28th of Tevet 5768 (January 6), I do not receive this declaration by return email, my clients will act immediately to obtain a court order preventing you from waging such negotiations."

more: Caroline Glick

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