Daily Alert

02 September 2010

Privacy and Technology

Thoughts about changing technology and how it affects the public need for and access of public records and the relationship to identity theft.

Does new technology which enhances access to information pose an inherent danger to the privacy rights of individuals? Does ease of access to information increase the number of identity theft victims? Are more people likely to fall victim to information based frauds because of the World Wide Web?

These questions on the surface require an analysis between two ideas which have been in conflict since mankind has sought to build a better mouse trap. The essence of the dispute can be explained with the following debate question: do new technologies which change an existing process so much that even though all agree the process is vital, the new process brings with it costs that were not conceived of when the previous process existed. At such time, should the process be banned or changed into something else?

In English, what do I mean? Virginia, resident, Betty "B.J." Ostergren , runs a website named The Virginia Watchdog whose mission is to expose public records of public officials found online in order to bring attention to her supposition that the availability of electronic public records is a cause of identity theft. Ms. Ostergren contends that public records should only be available at a clerk’s office. So the question becomes, is there a fundamental difference in the nature of safety for consumers between access of public records which might contain personal identifying information electronically, online vs. electronically or by hand in a clerk’s office? With no dis-respect to Ms. Ostergren, I want to look at the question from a different perspective. Can’t identity theft occur under either scenario? (Note that data shows that most identity theft results in old fashioned theft of information by hand not by computer)

New technologies or new ways to do things have always come with new or shifting perceived costs and benefits. It is safe to say that before the introduction of automobiles, the frequency of significant traffic accidents where people were left with life-long injuries often resulting in costly court trials to determine who is liable for the costs of the disability was insignificant compared to today. Okay, horses occasionally threw riders and could damage someone else’s property or even another horse. But when automobiles came along, land speed increased and new dangers quickly became apparent. What did we, as a society gain with automobiles? For a start, quicker access to emergency medical care, ability to be mobile to visit family, to move out of crowded living environments, to travel to places we would never have scene otherwise and plenty more. Both new benefits and costs followed the mass introduction of the automobile. New businesses creating good wage jobs supporting the automobile also arose. And, along with the automobile came the shift from urban horse by-products to urban air and noise pollution.

Which was worse? It depends. Streets perceived as already crowded, and designed for slow horse traffic quickly became insufficient. Imagine driving in the middle of a city without traffic control. But it wasn’t necessarily the automobile itself which resulted in the negatives or the positives but how it came to be used and how society learned to manage the new challenges posed by automobiles. Yes, criminals too learned how to use a getaway car. But, police also learned how to use sirens and lights. So did ambulances and fire trucks. Did people learn to drive recklessly? You bet. Was law written to address reckless driving? Yes. Does the law deter reckless driving? Sometimes it does, and sometimes it does not.

Let us apply the lesson to identity theft. What causes identity theft? Is it easy access to personal information or a realization that most identity thieves are never caught or prosecuted? Maybe it’s some of both. But if identity theft were not so easy to commit and the perceived cost of perpetrating it so low, no matter how much personal information were to be accessible, the crime would not be amongst the biggest of consumer fears and result in losses to the US economy of $50 billion annually.

Is it a moral crisis that leads perpetrators to steal identities from other consumers or is the business of identity theft just too profitable to resist? Is the threat posed by possible prosecution for the commission of the crime too unconvincing? Does the perceived benefit or profit of committing identity based crimes exceed the perceived costs of apprehension and prosecution? These are questions which merely reflect upon the debate question above, a question which has arisen in every generation and with every new idea or new technology which opens the door for those who wish to exploit it for bad instead of good. Those who defend society from those whose intent is to exploit the situation for criminal means must decide between spending limited resources on either or both deterrence and remediation. Is the situation different with technology and identity based crimes than any other societal challenge previously faced?


interesting related read

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10 August 2010

Chief Rabbi Amar Speaks on the Conversion Bill

Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar has spoken and written in strong support of the proposed Rotem law (AKA Conversion bill). His support for the bill is based upon the idea that Olim with questionable Jewish status (or no Jewish status) will be able to work with local Rabbis under Rabbinate supervision to officiate at conversions, thus insuring that halachic standards are met for conversion in Israel. Rabbi Amar also expressed great concern that foreign intervention in Israel's internal affairs could jeopardize the effort to keep Israel a Jewish state. As posted previously on
APRPEH, American non-Orthodox interests feel threatened by Chief Rabbinate conversion supervision in Israel.

The Conversion bill has an interesting coalition of supporters in Israel. Missing in the minds of the American non-Orthodox who preach regularly on their pulpits and at their conventions (unfairly) that Orthodox (ie. Jews committed to halacha) are divisive is the fact that this bill is supported by the Orthodox political parties and secular nationalist parties in Israel. As Rabbi Amar implies, significant numbers of Russian Olim are not halachically Jewish and would be more inclined to become Jewish if the path to conversion were not stifled by red tape. Interestingly, even in the US where strong voices within liberal Orthodoxy have sought to garner publicity by advocating local rabbinical autonomy, by opposing the Rotem bill they are arguing for exactly the opposite in Israel.

Critics of the bill in the US and other diaspora communities seem to have a point that Israel is a place for all Jews and therefore they command a right to intervene in Israel's internal affairs for reasons of personal interest. However, the quote from Rabbi Amar below strongly rebuts that idea. Israel is indeed a land for all Jews. It is the Jewish homeland and as such, all Jews much seek to protect and support the land even when its government might not be all that we would like it to be. What should be consistent in the approach of diaspora Jews concerning issues in Israel is a rule that criticism is okay but pressure beyond argumentation should not be utilized.

In recent years, perhaps since the late 1980s, we saw liberalism's infectious breaking down of conventional wisdom expressed within the context of breaking Jewish consensus on Israel. This pervasive and dangerous threat of backing off of support for Israel in general, if this law were passed or that law were passed is becoming the strategy of first not last resort. It should never be an option.

The observation that consensus on Israel was breaking was made by Rabbi Zalman I. Posner in a radio interview conducted by Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht (date uncertain)
(real player format) see "Who is a Jew" Tape 4 side B (at time of posting, this audio is not working). Rabbi Posner pointed out that for the first time, during one of the previous "who is a Jew" debates, threats to cease supporting Israel or not going out of the way to support Israel within the American political context were first heard. Rabbi Posner went on to say that US pressure on Israel vis a vis the arab conflict became stronger as a result of a perception that American Jews were divided.

I find it ironic that the same Jews who loudly protest the anti-Zionism crowd amongst the charedim, are themselves, with righteous indignation claiming the possibility of deep divisions resulting from a conversion bill affecting Israelis only. "Look at what the Israeli government is doing? How could we support them?" From which camp do you expect to hear such words, Neturei Karta or the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism? What about JFNA?

The true Jewish heart needs to stop for a moment of reflection, especially in this month of Elul to consider what sort of interests should prevail - the political and financial vested interests, positions taken that are framed within a context of egotistical minded fear of irrelevancy or true unification the Jewish people? Should there be more than one definition of Jew? Should there be people with the status of Jew in some congregations of America but not others, all the more so not in Israel? These questions require deep soul searching within. Conservativists and Reformists have built a career writing their own rules all the while claiming that ancient halachic rules cannot stand in the place of their own new and improved versions. The time has come to base decisions of status not rooted in what is seen as easy for the masses of people and convenient for their leaders but what is right for the future of Judaism and Torah.



'Diaspora Jews 'coercing the Israeli government'' - JPOST

“Israeli laws should be determined by residents of Israel who defend its security and bear its burdens,” he said. “If our Jewish brethren immigrate to Israel, we will welcome them with great joy, and then they would be entitled, as citizens, to struggle for the adoption of their perspective. Diaspora Jews who are coercing the Israeli government to drop the proposed legislation are causing great damage. The bill, within the framework of Jewish law, would expand the ambit of conversion, prevent the application of unjustified stringencies, and provide more leniency and flexibility in administration. Many Russian Israelis would benefit substantially. In fact, this legislation was proposed by Israel Beiteinu – a secular party – representing more than a million Russian Israelis,” Amar’s letter read.

NYT Letter to the editor by Rabbi Amar

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14 July 2010

Conversion in Eretz HaKodesh: JFNA Seeks to Undermine Halacha

In my email today, I along with probably many readers received the communication below from Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). The email addresses the conversion bill now in consideration in Knesset which would place all conversions in Israel officially in the hands of the Chief Rabbinate. The Jewish people will only be blessed when the State of Israel advocates the keeping of Halacha and doing mitzvos. What Jew could possibly disagree with this idea? Halacha and mitzvos are the core of Judaism.

I fundamentally oppose the position taken by JFNA and encourage readers to submit the APRPEH suggested letter at the bottom of this post which can be found after the JFNA communique and the letter JFNA suggests be sent to the PMO.

JFNA URGES PM NETANYAHU AND OTHERS TO HALT CONVERSION BILL

July 14, 2010

The Jewish Federations of North America, with the Jewish Agency and other partners, are leading a concerted and high-profile advocacy campaign to stop a bill in the Knesset that could prevent some Diaspora Jews from gaining automatic Israeli citizenship as immigrants.

These efforts are the latest phase of an initiative that began this winter, when a Knesset member proposed revising the Law of Return. Though the change was initially aimed at giving local Israeli rabbis greater authority, it carried the potential effect of threatening to delegitimize those who converted to Judaism through the Conservative and Reform movements and preclude conferring citizenship under the Law of Return to those who did not qualify for such status on prior visits.

This Sunday, the Knesset member, David Rotem of the Yisrael Beitenu Party, advanced a newer version with stronger language giving the Orthodox-run Chief Rabbinate full control over conversions in Israel and urging that any convert "accepts the yoke of mitzvot according to halacha."

The Knesset Law Committee on Sunday approved the bill on first reading, sending it to the full Knesset plenum, where it would require three readings and approval before becoming law.

On Sunday, The Jewish Federations of North America's President and CEO Jerry Silverman, Senior Vice President Rebecca Caspi, and JAFI Chair Natan Sharansky, along with representatives of the liberal religious streams, began a major advocacy campaign to prevent the measure from advancing. JFNA is also urging Federations to appeal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the issue (see below).

This advocacy involves daily strategy meetings, attending the Knesset committee session, meeting with Knesset members including Rotem and speaking out publicly through Israeli and international media.

In addition, Silverman and JFNA Chair Kathy Manning, along with the JFNA Coordinating Council of professional and lay leaders, have sent Prime Minister Netanyahu two strongly worded letters urging him and members of his Likud Party to speak out publicly against the proposal.

Until now the prime minister has not done so, though he did reportedly tell The Jerusalem Post he thought the bill would not pass.

On Tuesday, Silverman, Caspi and the 125 members of the JFNA Campaign Chairs & Directors Mission now visiting Israel also met with Israel's President, Shimon Peres, about this important issue. Peres called for greater dialogue on the proposed bill so that discussions embrace both Diaspora and Israeli Jews (click here for JFNA's briefing with his remarks).

JFNA is also leading an e-mail effort among Federations and their partners urging Prime Minister Netanyahu to oppose the bill. To read more background on the conversion bill and to send Netanyahu a prepared letter (or edit the letter before sending), click here.

JFNA will continue to keep Federations informed about the conversion proposal as developments occur.


The letter JFNA suggested that should be sent to PM Binyamin Netanyahu follows:
To: Prime Minister Netanyahu
Re: Conversion Bill

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

I am writing to you regarding the controversial conversion bill currently before the Knesset.

The language used in this bill is highly problematic. This bill raises issues about the chief rabbinate having full authority over conversions and includes new language about the stringent commitment to halacha. Finally, it changes the 62-year agreement over the Law of Return, which could in turn drive a deep wedge between the Jewish State and Diaspora Jews. This could significantly affect our ability to connect and inspire varying parts of our community around Clal Yisrael.

I know you are aware of the deep sense of concern this proposal has stirred among Diaspora Jews. If successful, this bill will damage the Diaspora-Israel relationship and create significant long-term impacts. We urge you and members of your Likud party to speak out against this legislation now, before it proceeds further.

I hope you will show your concern for the unity of the Jewish People and work with the Knesset and the leadership of the Jewish Diaspora to amend the bill in a way that is acceptable to Jews across the world.

With respect,


The APRPEH suggested letter:



B"H

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

I am writing to you regarding the courageous effort underway in Knesset to maintain a universal standard in Jewish conversion. The bill before the Knesset is being viewed by many non-Orthodox in the United States as divisive and controversial. Some say it has the potential for alienating American Jews who have not yet realized that Halacha already prescribes only one way for someone to join the Jewish people. I appeal to you as a fellow Jew to be strong and to support the conversion bill in its current form. To not maintain the Halachic standard of conversion would be to undermine the consistency and simplicity of the only standard for conversion accepted universally by all Jews for most of our modern and ancient history. The variations that exist today in the United States for conversion, if forced upon Israel would cause severe damage to the state and to the Jewish people. These variations have contributed to a negative Jewish population shift in North America, a resistance to Jewish culture and a distancing of many Jews from the interests of Medinat Yisrael. These phenomenon have occurred in correlation with the non-Orthodox structure being the dominant Jewish force in the United States. Interestingly, those arguing against the Conversion bill are saying that its passage into law would result in those very same phenomenon. This is the best evidence as to why passage of the Conversion bill is necessary. These backwards trends must be reversed. They will only be reversed when the standards of who is a Jew are strengthened, not weakened. We Jews are rational, yet spiritual. Rationality born by convenience and access to non-Jewish culture conceived in non-Jewish religions has been winning the day in North America for far too long. As the Jewish spiritual homeland, Israel must lead the way to spiritual revival of Jewry world-wide. That effort will be enhanced, not weakened by reinforcing in law the Halachic standard for conversion. World-wide, Jews look to Israel for spiritual leadership. Failing to provide it will sanction their looking elsewhere. This is the true struggle beneath the surface of this discussion. The halachic standard for conversion is an eye-opening moment for Jews world-wide, especially for many of those in North America who have grown accustomed to creating their own standards and rules - kashering them within the structure of "movements". Israel will only garner increased respect and support, not less for telling the truth and doing what is right by the vision of our sages and prophets and in the eyes of Heaven.


With wishes of comfort in this season of national mourning,

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02 June 2010

Blockade Running for Hamas





The Israeli Navy interception of the flotilla of islamo and islamo sympathizing blockade runners resulted in casualties to both Jews and terrorists. It didn't have to be that way. In the eyes of the world media, governments around the world, the UN and almost everywhere except for in Israel and in pockets of conservative commentators, Israel is being vilified. For the record, there are wronged parties and aggressors in this story. As to be expected in this period in birth pangs of moshiach, far too many people continue to confuse the aggressor with the party being aggressed against.

Additionally it must be noted that blockade running is an inherently dangerous occupation, tantamount to reverse piracy, even when the runners are carrying politicians and media representatives. The logic and facts supports Israel's claims that this was a pre-meditated provocation on behalf of the cause of the 'Free Gaza' movement. inciting, preparing to engage Israel



'Activists threw stun grenades'




What is it about Gaza which so moves anti-Jews? Gaza is the armed gang headquarters of Hamas. Hamas is an elected by the arabians terrorist organization from its inception. Hamas fires rockets and mortars into Israel from Gaza, has been responsible for numerous terrorist actions and seeks "liberation" of the lands arabians wish to steal from Jews. {pardon the simplicity of this writing but it has to be said}. Hamas is solely responsible for Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and solely responsible for the current blockade of all but humanitarian aid being delivered through official channels. In short, the "misery", if there is any in Gaza is solely the fault and responsibility of the Gazans who elected Hamas and Hamas itself.
Fancy restaurants and Olympic-size pools: What the media won’t report about Gaza

"Blockaded" Gaza is Awash in Goods

Behind the Headlines: The seizure of the Gaza flotilla


The Mavi Marmara ship on which the assault, described by those watching as an attempted lynching of the Israeli Navy commandos, was staffed and sponsored by the IHH, "affiliated with Hamas and the Union of the Good, an Islamic umbrella affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood."

French, Danish Intelligence Say The IHH Backs Terror [05.31.2010]
This was no ship of peace activists.


All of this detail supports the idea that the delivery of relief aid was never the purpose of this blockade run. Essentially the goal was to render the blockade obsolete opening the door to out right weapons delivery to the Jew killers of Gaza to support their stated goal to destroy Israel. Israel had no choice but stop these ships. The best evidence of the intent of the mission is that the request to sail to Ashdod, to unload the goods and permit Israel to deliver them along with the usual convoy of aid trucks was declined. To this end, those accusing Israel of piracy and defending the blockade runners are accomplices of Hamas's mission to kill al Yahud and remove Israel from Dar al-Islam.

The Myth of the Gaza Blockade

Behind the Headlines: The Israeli humanitarian lifeline to Gaza

'Equipment not in shortage in Gaza'

Link to pictures of weapons on the Mavi Marmara

Notice the comments on this Flickr page. The supplies on this ship have been laid out and organized for the photographs. The arabian and islamo-fascists commenting on this page are ridiculing that knives, bats, and slingshots are weapons compared to firearms. But how was the scene described? A lynching? These are the implements of arabian style lynching, the kind in which arabians thrive - spilling blood by hand in public shows of machismo. Remember Ramallah? Blood spilling is a common custom in arabic and islamo culture.



Photos of Bullet Proof Vests, Sawn-Off Rods, Night Vision Goggles and Rifle Scope Found on Mavi Marmara, 2 June 2010

An interesting wrinkle in this story is the revealed linkage between Barack Obama's friends and the Free Gaza movement. This was mentioned today on both the G. Gordon Liddy show and on Glenn Beck (not sure of others).


GGLiddy interview, Aaron Klein
AUDIO: Aaron Klein discusses Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Jodie Evans, and Code Pink associations with the flotilla organizers. One can only hope this effort to blacken Israel's eye was not perpetrated with covert consent. How is it these people keep popping up? Klein who covers the Middle East for World Net Daily comments on this interview that based upon his knowledge and contacts with Hamas, an operation of this nature is too creative and organized to have been home grown in Gaza throwing a little speculative fuel on the fire. also on Glenn Beck

In the United States where support for Israel's right of self-defense, (facing the same islamo-fascist terrorism that America is fighting) is still high everywhere but in the White House and at Foggy Bottom, INN reports this story "Lone Jewish High School Student Faces Down Arab Mob in LA". I doubt you will see too many of these pro terrorist rallies outside of California and Dearborn, MI, home of Ms. Shaheda USA, Rima Fakih.

additional sources below:

IDF: Global Jihad on flotilla

PA and Hamas Boats Also Planning to 'Greet' Anti-Israel Flotilla

Foreign Ministry: Flotilla Organizers Promote Agenda, Not Aid

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27 May 2010

The Left's De-Construction

The coalition of the establishment left and far left is fracturing. Watch James Carville and Matthew Dowd with George Stephanopoulos on GMA below from 26 May. Carville lays into Sheikh Barak Obama on both the BP oil spill and the Arizona immigration law. In both cases, Carville claims Obama is failing to act and thereby failing to garner any political advantage. To Carville, it's all about politics. To Obama, it's all about arrogance. In any event, Carville's sharp reactions to Obama not responding to either issue with clarity and an eye to politics are entertaining. What could be read into this interview is that an establishment democrat is saying that you,(Obama) just aren't up to the job. You mean, inexperienced? unprepared? indecisive? arrogant? demagogic? If only Carville would have added that Obama treats America's enemies like friends, and her friends like enemies... Is it a sign of things to come?



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21 January 2010

A Boy and the Power of Tefillin

By this time, the entire world has been exposed to the story of the poor 17 year old bachur who's act of davening Shachris, the morning prayer service of the Jewish people, resulted in the diverting of a small commuter aircraft from its route. On the surface, it is an "oy vey" moment. How could the aircrew be so uninformed? How, after questioning the passenger and observing his behavior could they still "error on the side of caution"? Never mind that tefillin are described in the Torah and have been worn since the time of Moshe. On the one hand, the most knee jerk reaction is to deem the flight crew ignorant and ill-trained. Surely, they must have heard of tefillin? Certainly, in training, they are taught about unusual religious practices they could see during a flight?


These doubting questions are natural, which is a good indicator that a sensitive Jew should not judge these goyim so harshly. Instead, think of the wonderful opportunity afforded to share with the world the practice of wearing tefillin. Every major news service, print, audio, television and Internet have discussed tefillin today. Amazing!!!! Gentiles world over have learned that Jewish men wear tefillin in the morning. And this is true even as we read in this week's parasha, Bo the first command to wear tefillin (Ex 13:9 - And it will be for you a sign on your hand and for a remembrance between your eyes...)

It is an unnatural thing to do, to see the positive in the strange. But indeed this situation can be a turned into light, a kiddush HaShem, for such is the way of a Jew. The message that HaShem runs the world can be taught even at the cost of flight delay. Even in a cramped commuter plane, a Jew can still be a Jew - tefillin and all. Now, all those who are lax in their observance of tefillin have no excuse. If only their non-Jewish colleagues, friends, co-workers and acquaintances would ask every day, "did you wear tefillin this morning?"

Having experienced putting on tefillin during a flight (albeit pre-9/11), I think the following advice might be useful to Jewish men who will be flying during morning davening time. First, tell a member of the flight crew before you start to daven what you are about to do, that you will be wearing particular religious garments and most importantly, that what you are about to engage in is a daily routine, not just today, on this aircraft. If possible, take some literature with you that will support your position. Be humble, not pushy - poised, not erratic. Explain to the other passengers seated next to you and explain to them what is happening in the event they are questioned. "During part of my prayer service I am unable to speak unless it is an emergency. If someone asks me what I am doing, please relate to them what I related to you". Incorporating is a very powerful tool.

The potential impact of the story will be determined by the decision making process which some Jews, who may not yet be so secure in their yiddishkeit will go through when deciding to publically wear tefillin or not. A Jew might think, do I really want to put on tefillin with all these other people around? Non-Jews might laugh or stare or G-d forbid think me crazy. Maybe that Jew believes it to be dangerous?

These are fears which are caused by a galus inspired weakness. Maybe that same Jew could or should think instead, "these people looking at me are astounded that my faith is so strong; that I am oblivious to my surroundings". The fear is shifted to its proper place. It is the goy or not yet strong Jew who then thinks, "I could never do that". The answer to that theorized inquiry is, "I am a servant of HaShem and he commanded me to put on tefillin". Such faith is not scorned or ridiculed but admired, maybe quietly, maybe enviously, but admired.

This bachur and his tefillin were very powerful, enough to divert a flight in progress. That's some davening!!! What power a single Jew possesses! The non-Jewish world should see Jews davening in tefillin more often. Tefillin is a sign, a segula, a branding of the wearer as in service to G-d. The Jew wearing the uniform of HaShem's service, testifying to all who see him that HaShem is the boss, not just the captain, but the air traffic controller as well.

Below, Rabbi Posner writes about the various meanings of a "sign".

Bindings - Rabbi Zalman Posner, Chabad.org - an excerpt from Think Jewish

A nice tefillin story:

Tefillin on the Train

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17 January 2010

J-Street Mythology and Deception

On Saturday, 16 January, the "Tennessean" ran "Group backs 2-state solution", a story sub-titled "Jews in J-Street want to put political pressure on Israel". The report on the visit by Hadar Susskind, directory of policy and strategy for J-Street, focuses on the idea that J-Street offers American Jews an alternative to the mainstream Israel advocacy organization AIPAC. J-Street, however is a contradiction not just of logic but of religious values. Logically, since J-Street advocates the mythical "two-state solution" where Israel being one of the two with the other being not a country, not a country in waiting, not even a nationality but a gang masquerading as a government in waiting, J-street clearly is not a pro-Israel advocacy group.

J-street, as with many of the leftist organizations which wish to create a "Palestinian" state composed of arabs living in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, are driven not by a grand desire to make peace so much as motivated by a leftist, theological view that all 3rd world revolutionary movements which challenge the establishment possess inherent virtue. It doesn't matter what tactics or beliefs the 3rd world movement uses because the virtuous goals of the revolution permit excesses. So thus, we find that Israel's system of checkpoints and the construction of the partition wall in Judea and Samaria, proven effective anti-terror tactics are considered evil and repressive, while the excesses of the Palestinian revolutionary movement, primarily the wink and nod to terrorism (provided it is the PA gang and not the Hamas gang perpetrating the attacks), and arabic press messages espousing the pose of the old-fashioned PLO propaganda (conveniently not translated into English) are excusable.

Since J-street advocates policies which, if enacted would endanger the lives of millions of Jews in Israel, their positions are in direct contradiction to Torah values. One need not be a biblical scholar to know that siding with those who seek to harm their fellow Jews are not held guiltless or blameless. The actions of those Jews who support the enemies of the Jewish people will delay the final redemption and will result in their own extinction. This is not my opinion but supported theologically and historically. It is a most perplexing and bitter moment in time, the result of a long and seemingly unending exile, which finds Jewish advocates for "peace" hosting common ground with terrorists and enemies of "peace". A better day will come when honesty of thought will permit clearer vision. Palestine, does not and has never existed. There is no legal requirement for Israel to withdraw from any additional territory. An honest reading of UN Res 242, instead of the arabian propaganda version will lead a reader to understand that Israel's secure borders were the primary goal. Palestinians? The name "Palestinian" is not found in the text of the agreement, meaning the "Palestinian" national myth had not yet been created. Instead, "refugees" are discussed. Refugees from where? Not Israel, but disputed territory, administered by Jordan between 1948 and 1967 and unowned. In any event, Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai in 1982 exceeds any obligation of withdrawal from " from territories occupied in the recent conflict " as stated in Res 242.

All of this returns us to our discussion of J-street and its Jewish proponents. After reviewing the historical and religious views of Israel's security, one will then understand it is not Israel's security which drives J-street proponents but another belief. A belief that "peace" does not come through historical right or even strength, but through weaknesses, pacifism and "Chamberlainian" appeasement. Ultimately, such beliefs bring war, bloodshed and eternal conflict.

J-street background




Res 242 background

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06 January 2010

The New Iraq is the Old Iraq

Back in the day, when the Iraq post-war outcome was in question, one of the favorite claims made by my politically conservative brethren, (those who were the most invested in success of the post-war) was that a Iraqi democracy would bring a change to the political structure of the Middle East. A successful Iraqi democracy would put pressure on the other arabian countries to leave behind primitive beliefs and modernize - voila - end of conflicts in the Middle East. Never mind that somewhat real elections have been held for years in arabian countries, this rising tide lifts all boats argument was strongly advanced by President Bush as a way to end terrorism and conflict. This argument seemed reasonable, after all we went to war against Saddam basically because he was a squeaky cog in the islamo-fascist terrorist infrastructure.

Other great hopes of modernization included the now distant expectation that a democratic Iraq would normalize relations with Israel. It is well beyond any shadow of a doubt that this was all fantasy. Iraq is not becoming the great arabian democracy any more than it is becoming a friend of Israel. While the voices pontificating the fall of Iraq after US troops withdraw may be premature, what will certainly not change is the fact that Yishmael is still Yishmael.

Take for example two recent stories. Both represent a different focus, or pose of the "new" Iraq. One example is representative of the fact that Iraq is still a very islamic land. In the INN story below, we find that the Tomb of Yechezkel is slated to become a mosque. Democratic Iraq seems to have no tolerance of religious expression or history. Islam has no need to turn a Jewish shrine into a muslim one if it is recognized as a place of holiness already with the exception of wanting to erase all vestiges of the once large and proud Iraqi Jewry. How irrational this is? One day, the Iraqi government mouth piece may even deny Jews ever lived in Iraq.

The second story from Jpost is also outrageous. US ally PM al-Maliki has approved a plan to ask the UN to demand Israel pay for damages (financially) caused by the 1981 bombing of the Osirak nuclear reactor under construction at that time for Saddam Hussein (YmShm) by French nuclear engineers. At the time of the first Gulf War, then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney pointed out that the bombing by Israel made the US attack much simpler. Conceivably, a Saddam Hussein with nuclear weapons would have changed the balance of power in the region and possibly the world in very bad ways. (this is the best lesson in thinking about Iran with nuclear weapons). At the time of the bombing though, Israel was treated as a villain. The UN resolution al-Maliki is basing his claim on Security Council Resolution 487 according to the story below gives Iraq the opportunity to demand compensation. Of course, al-Maliki would not have been PM nor been involved in the government of Iraq had Saddam lived and had still been running the show there. What a strange way to say thanks for helping to bring democracy to Iraq. But this brings us back to the theme of the story - Irrational arabians doing irrational things. This is the new Iraq. This is the new and improved Iraq. This is the Iraq which carries the hope of arabian social revolution and modernization with it. This is the new Iraq which, if it holds together, could become a democratic and powerful force opposing Israel in the future.



Iraq De-Judaizing Ezekiel's Tomb - by Hillel Fendel

(IsraelNN.com) Early reports that Iraq plans to retain the Jewish nature of the Tomb of the Prophet Ezekiel are apparently false. Sources in Baghdad say that the government plans to turn it into a mosque and erase all Jewish markings.

Iraq announced earlier this year that it would revamp the ancient burial site, which is located in Al-Kifl, a small town south of Baghdad. The U.S.-backed government announcement implied that its Jewish nature would continue to be emphasized.

Since then, however, reports have surfaced that the government is actually planning to build a mosque there, including removing the ancient Hebrew inscriptions that adorn the site. Some reports say that all or some of the lines of Hebrew script have already been erased.

Ezekiel (Yechezkel, in Hebrew), lived in the sixth century BCE, having accompanied the exiled Judeans to Babylon. His prophecies include the Vision of the Dry Bones, as well as the future return of Jewish People to the Land of Israel even if they are not deserving (Chapter 36: 22-25). Thousands of Jews often visited the site of his tomb annually before Iraqi Jewry came to an abrupt end in the middle of the 20th century, and Moslems and Christians continue to visit it even today.

Shelomo Alfassa, Director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, reports that Islamic political parties have pressured the government to remove the Jewish inscriptions. He quotes the Iraqi news agency Ur News as reporting that the writing and ornamentations “are being (or have been) removed… under the pretext of restoring the site.”

Alfassa quotes sources to the effect that Iraq’s Antiquities and Heritage Authority “has been pressured by Islamists to historically cleanse all evidence of a Jewish connection to Iraq - a land where Jews had lived for over a thousand years before the advent of Islam.”

Professor Investigates
Four months ago, a German-based Iraqi journalist tipped off the Association of Jewish Academics from Iraq in Israel (AJAII) that plans were afoot to build a mosque on the site of Ezekiel’s Tomb. AJAII asked Dr. Jabbar Jamal al-Din, a lecturer in Jewish Thought at Kufa University in Iraq, to investigate these reports – and he said that he believes them to be untrue.

Baghdad Sources: Room for Concern
Sources in Baghdad, however, feel otherwise. Prof. Shmuel Moreh - Israel Prize Laureate in Arabic Literature and Professor Emeritus at Hebrew University of Jerusalem - told Israel National News that he had received worrisome phone calls from non-Jewish friends in Baghdad. Prof. Moreh, who serves as the Chairman of the Association of Jewish Academics from Iraq, said that the plans are to turn the holy site into a mosque, and “some told me that they are taking off the Hebrew inscriptions.”

Alfassa provides the following translation of the relevant report in Ur News: “The officials of the Department of Antiquities and Heritage say that their restoration programme will continue until 2011 and is designed to carry out essential maintenance and prevent the dome and roof from collapsing. But their hidden purpose, sources say, is the removal of features that emphasize a historical connection with the Jews who built the shrine and lived in the city for hundreds of years after the Babylonian exile.”

Though well over 100,000 Jews lived in Iraq a few decades ago, this number has now been decimated to no more than eight, Prof. Moreh said. “There are others,” he added, “but they barely know that they are Jews; in many cases, their parents did not tell them.”

Alfassa concludes: “Iraq - the Biblical Mesopotamia -is almost as rich in Jewish history as the Land of Israel. The tomb of the prophet Ezekiel dates back to the Babylonian exile in the sixth century BCE. It was there in Iraq that Abraham discovered monotheism, and it is where the prophets Ezra, Nehemiah, Nahum, Jonah and Daniel are all buried.”


'Israel must compensate Iraq for Osirak'- Jan. 5, 2010 JPost.com Staff - THE JERUSALEM POST


Iraq will demand that Israel pay compensation for bombing the unfinished nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981, an Iraqi member of parliament told the Iraqi al-Sabah newspaper in an article published on Tuesday.

Muhammad Naji Muhammad claimed that his government was planning to enlist the United Nation's help to pressure Israel into compensating Baghdad, according to a DPA report cited by Channel 10.

"Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Foreign Ministry turned to the UN and the Security Council demanding that Israel pay us reparations for damage caused to the reactor in 1981," Muhammad was quoted as telling the newspaper.

Baghdad is demanding that the UN establish a committee to assess the scope of the damage caused by the Israeli strike in order to calculate the appropriate compensation.

The Iraqi demand is based on UN Security Council Resolution 487, which was drafted following the bombing of the reactor in June 1981. The resolution harshly condemned Israel's aerial attack and determined that Iraq had a right to demand compensation over the damages.

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05 January 2010

Pharoah, Taxation, and Population Control



(Ex 1:8-11)

A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, "Behold! the people, the Children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we. Come, let us act wisely to it lest it become numerous and it may be that if war will occur, it, too may join our enemies, and wage war against us and go up from the land." So they appointed tax collectors over it in order to afflict it with their burdens; it built storage cities for Pharoah, Pithom and Raamses. (translation from Artscroll, The Saperstein Edition Rashi.)


When Pharoah, king of Egypt wished to oppress Bnei Yisroel, he first chose heavy taxation as a method. It is clear from the text that the priority of Pharoah was not a national building campaign, but to reign in what was perceived as a foreign population for which Egypt felt both compelled to control but afraid to allow to leave. The Egyptian reasoning is bizarre. Logically, if Bnei Yisroel were a threat to the land, they should have been thrown out. If they were essential to the country, Pharoah should have engaged in efforts to incorporate the people. Whatever the Egyptians thought about Israel, what was not in the calculation was the conclusion that Bnei Yisroel was loyal to Egypt. To Pharoah, Israel was a necessary evil. So, how did Pharoah choose to handle the necessary evil? Tax them. Increase the burden on them. Show them who is boss. How do you control populations in order to repress them and enslave them? Taxation. How do put people in their place? Taxation.

Manipulating populations through social and economic means is not a phenomenon of the 20th century. The dictators and villains of history can count Pharoah of Egypt as one of their role models.



20 Teves/6 January - I realized later that I forgot to cite the source for the Torah graphics. This came from ORT - Navigating the Bible.

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01 January 2010

The Conservative Movement Searches For Its Soul


Conservatives to tackle intermarriage,'homo-lesbian' ordinations. Dec. 28, 2009
Matthew Wagner, THE JERUSALEM POST


Burning issues threatening to split the Conservative Movement, such as the ordination of homosexual and lesbian rabbis, the sharp drop in the number of young members and the challenge of intermarriage will be raised this week during a two-day conference in Jerusalem's Van Leer Institute entitled "Conservative Judaism: Halacha, Culture and Sociology."

"This will be the first time that an institution not associated with the Conservative Movement will devote a scholarly conference to Conservative Judaism," said Professor Naftali Rothenberg, Jewish Culture and Identity Chair at Van Leer. "And this is happening on the backdrop of a major crisis that the Conservative Movement is undergoing, in which members of the religious Right and Left in the movement are headed in opposite directions."



To be truthful, there has not been a real "Conservativist movement" in many years. What exists now is another version of "Reformism" albeit with different managers and owners. Conservativism ceased to exist after the driving on shabbos decision. Going forward, the impetus to figure out new ways to break away from halachic Judaism disguising rulings as formulated from halacha has set a tone which is leading to an inevitable split up of "Conservatism" in favor of Reformist and Traditionalist "movements".

Having learned that all Jews in their heart's really want to follow Torah and do mitzvos in a proper way but are knocked off course do to outside influences, one must look at "conservativism" and "reformism" for that matter, with pity. These holy Jews, congregants of Conservativists synagogues (those who actually are halachically Jewish that is) have been convinced by the credibility of multi-generational participation and the goodwill presumed by the religious experience that the evolution of their religious experience is supported by Torah. A slow, but certain evolution it is. There was never a drive to do away with halacha (like in Reformism), but to make halacha bend to the will of simple people who merely wanted their religious experience to be consistent with their secular experience or that of their children.

There is plenty of room for understanding Torah in a modern context. Torah must make sense at all times and in every place. There is no room, however to re-define Torah to permit the forbidden and kasher the treif. Conservativism sought to do this and fell into a trap of its own making. And thereby set its own course to obsolescence.

For each generation to make its own mark and find its own way there must be a structure upon which to build. Generationally speaking, there is no “Conservative” movement to build upon. It has come to its logical conclusion.

The conference in Jerusalem has scheduled as one of its topics the decline in young membership, a problem not faced by Orthodoxy. The reason is that there is no room to continue moving Conservativism towards Reformism without fully becoming Reformism and it cannot go backwards. Those youth who want to be fully connected to the Jewish world find their way to Orthodoxy, possibly in college, through Chabad or other outreach programs. Those who do not find it necessary yet to connect to the Jewish world may, on occasion check in at a Reformist Temple or blend into the woodwork, vulnerable to the delights of Edom and “marriage” to non-Jews or worse. Thus, one can see the reason why Conservativism at the grassroots is so interested in kashering the relationship between Jews and non-Jews and male to male and female to female. These reflections of the world of Edom, now fully part of life in Reformism, will soon be the norm in Conservativism. What is Conservativism other than a Reformism with different owners?

But sigh, more perversion awaits in the world of Edom. For today, marriage to non-Jews and homosexual professional staff is the trend. What comes next? When does Torah-true Judaism stand up and say enough. Be our brothers or be something else – but please stop the attempt to drag the holy Torah and halachic credibility into your world, the reflection of Edom.

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Sderot QassamCount - via Daled Amos

Nice Jerusalem Video from Yeshiva Beit Orot

The Path To The Final Solution

 
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