Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Rosh Hashanna, Yom Kippur--and Arab accusations

On September 26, 2014—the first day of the Jewish Rosh Hashanna (New Year)--Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas walked into Man’s Temple of Peace (the UN). He went there to speak before the nations of the world. He went with a message in his pocket.

In the ‘hallowed’ General Assembly Meeting Hall (sanctuary?), he had an opportunity to talk of peace and security for his region. He had the opportunity to lay the groundwork for accepting the world’s only Jewish State. He had the chance to break away from his history of hate. He did not do any of that.

He did not bring an offering of peace to Man’s Temple of Peace. He did not speak of the UN’s Mission to develop world peace. He did not speak of being inspired by the UN’s commitment to peace.

Instead, he ignored the UN. He ignored the Temple of Peace. He ignored peace altogether.

He stood before the world, before G-d, and rejected peace. He declared that he would never forget or forgive Israel for defending itself in a war Abbas’ own Hamas-Fatah unity government had started.

He walked into Man’s holiest secular sanctuary and desecrated it. No one condemned him. No one criticized him.

He did not place an offering of peace before the nations. He placed before the nations reasons for war. He accused a Member State (Israel) of genocide against his ‘people’.

Then, just three days later, the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, demonstrated how truly insane the Arab anti-Israel war machine has become. He didn’t just accuse Israel of war crimes. For the Arab propaganda machine, that would have been too ordinary.

He upped the ante. He made two new accusations against Israel. 

First, despite the fact that the UN—and everyone else in the world--claims that app 2,100 Gazans died in the 50-day war with Israel that ended on August 26, 2014, Erekat now claimed that that number was wrong. Israel hadn’t killed 2,100 Gazans. Israel, he said, had killed 12,000 Gazans—and wounded another 12,000 (“PA’s Erekat claims 96% of Gaza dead were civilians”, Times of Israel, September 29, 2014). 

His claim is completely false. In fact, it’s slanderous.

But Erekat didn’t stop there. In the same radio interview, he made a second claim. He said that 96 per cent of those killed in Gaza were civilians (ibid).  

Even the UN doesn’t believe that. Using numbers given to the UN by Hamas Health Ministry officials (which, we now know, were not objective), the UN believes that 72 per cent of Gazan casualties were civilian (“Report: The Gaza Crisis: The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, August 21, 2014).

Since the early stages of the war, Israel has claimed that only 53 per cent of Gazan casualties were civilians, not 72 per cent. But, given an almost universal rejection of anything Israel claimed during that 50-day fight, no one accepted that number. Instead, everyone—including the UN--accepted Hamas’ numbers. Everyone chose to believe the terrorist (Hamas) over the democracy (Israel).

As of October 1, 2014, the only serious study of Gazan casualties has been done by the Israeli Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (“Examination of the names of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge - Part Five”, September 22, 2014). This group took the trouble of actually reviewing in detail the list of casualty names Hamas has issued. Using public records, information publicly available, and lists of the dead provided by the Hamas Health Ministry, the Palestinian Health Ministry and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) currently estimates that only 51 per cent of the casualties were civilian—not 72 per cent, and certainly not 96 per cent.

The ITIC hasn’t finished its analysis. But its findings to date have consistently suggested that only 51-54 per cent of Gazans killed were civilian.

In this war, Hamas actively used human shields (“Hamas again uses Gazan civilians as human shields to prevent the Israeli Air Force from attacking operatives' houses”, Amit Meir Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, July 10, 2014). Hamas actively told Gazan civilians not to heed Israeli warnings to vacate their homes (ibid). In such a war, any Gazan civilian casualty numbers below 60 per cent of total casualties would mean that Israel had taken extraordinary steps to reduce civilian casualties. That would mean that Israel was unique in the history of war for the care it took to protect civilians.

Apparently, the world doesn’t want to hear that. It certainly doesn’t seem to find anything particularly wrong with Erekat’s claim that civilians represented 96 per cent of casualties in the Gazan war of 2014.   

Today, we are between the Jewish Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur holidays. Judaism teaches that these interim days are days of judgment. Everyone is being held accountable.
The nations of the world don't care what Judaism teaches. Why should they? 

Perhaps they should care. The G-d of Israel has a very Jewish Story to tell the world. It’s the Story of the Final Jewish Redemption. Abbas’ accusations before the UN are destined to become part of that Story. Erekat’s outrageous accusations are destined to become part of that Story. The UN's behaviour is destined to become part of that Story.

Will Abbas, Erekat and the UN become vehicles to fulfil Biblical prophecy? Stay tuned.

The G-d of Israel will not disappoint you.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Netanyahu’s UN speech: why Arabs should turn to Israel

The next time you see Israel demonized (Israel is a brutal oppressor) or dehumanized (Israel’s Jews are pigs and apes), take a look at what those ‘demonish’  and ‘piggish’ Israeli Jews have accomplished  during the first 66 years of modern Israel’s existence. You might discover something about Islam and the Middle East.  

The following information comes to you courtesy of the Ari Rusila’s BalkanBlog.

Israel is the world’s 100th smallest country. Nevertheless:

-It has the highest literacy rate in the Middle East.

- It has the highest ratio of university degrees to its population in the world.

-It produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation in the world.

-It ranks third in the industrialized world—after the US and Holland—in per cent of workforce holding University degrees (24 per cent).

-It is number one in the world for the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce. It has 145 per 100,000 of population. The US has 85 per 100,000. Japan has 70+. Germany has less the 60 per 100,000.

-It is first in the world for per cent of work force (25 per cent) employed in technical professions.

- In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of start-up companies in the world. In absolute terms, Israel has the largest number of start-up companies than any other country in the world except the US.

- On a per capita basis, Israel has the largest number of biotech start-ups.

-It ranks #2 in the world (behind the US) for venture capital funds.

-It ranks number 3 in the world for rate of entrepreneurship. It is number one in the world for women entrepreneurs. It’s also number one in the world for entrepreneurs over age 55.

- Israel has the highest average living standard in the Middle East.

- Israel’s economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbours combined.

- Israel has the highest percentage of home computers per capita, in the world.

It has the world’s second highest per capita of new books.

-It has more museums per capita than any other country.

You should note that Israel has done all of these things while engaged in regular wars with an implacable enemy that seeks its destruction, and with an economy continuously under strain by having to spend more per capita on its own protection than any other country on earth (ibid).

Note: the ranking above may not be new. Newer ranking numbers may be different. But the numbers above strongly illustrate how Israel has become an intellectual and entrepreneurial powerhouse.

But that’s not the end of the matter. In 2010, two Iranian researchers working in America created an Islamic economic religiosity index, to measure how closely Islamic countries adhere to Islamic economic teachings (An Economic Islamicity Index , Sheherazade S. Rehman and Hossein Askari, George Washington University, 2010). They examined 57 Islamic countries. They also applied their test to an additional 151 non-Muslim countries. They wanted to see if any of those countries might also adhere to Islamic economic principles.

The index looked at such factors as laws and governance, human and political rights, international relations, and economics (“ Islamicity index: 32 non-Muslim countries ahead of Malaysia”, astroawani, June 12, 2014).

The results of this study are clear—and startling: the Koran's teachings are better represented in Western societies than in Islamic countries. Islamic countries, meanwhile, have completely failed to embrace the values of their own faith in politics, business, law and society (“Ireland 'leads the world in Islamic values as Muslim states lag'”, The Telegraph, June 10, 2014). The highest ranked Muslim country is Malaysia. It ranked 33rd.

In the Middle East, the one country which most meets Islamic economic values isn’t even Islamic. It’s Israel. It’s ranked 27th in the world, ahead of Malaysia.

Yes, Israel—the Jewish State.

The country which ranks second in the Middle East for its ability to meet Islamic economic values is Kuwait. It’s ranked 42nd.

Turkey ranks 71st. Jordan ranks 74th. Lebanon ranks 87th.

Not a single majority Muslim country made the top 25 – Saudi Arabia was 91st (“LISTEN: Ireland Tops ‘Islamicity’ Index”, islamiCommentary, June 19, 2014).

One of the authors of this study, Hossein Askari, explained the study’s findings this way: the reason for the low ranking of Islamic countries is their governance.  Islamic countries, he said, “use religion as a tool of power…They don’t care about the Muslim people” (“Ireland is more faithful to the Qu’aran than Saudi Arabia”, the, June 9, 2014)”. According to Askari, the teachings of the Koran say that economic prosperity is good for society. But prosperity rarely trickles down in Islamic countries (ibid).

Go ahead. Draw your own conclusions about Islam in the Middle East.

There’s a lesson here. Yesterday at the United Nations, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested that peace would come to the Middle East when Arab countries worked with Israel, not against it.

Perhaps Arab Islamic countries could look to their Jewish neighbour for the inspiration they need to follow their own religion.

The G-d of Israel has a Jewish Story for you to see. It is the Story of Israel's Destiny, its Final Redemption. How Islam manifests itself is part of that Story.

Stay tuned. This Story is just beginning.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Abbas desecrates Man’s ‘Temple of Peace’

Friday, September 26, 2014 was the second and last day of the Jewish Rosh Hashanna Holiday—the celebration of the beginning of the Jewish New Year. For Jews around the world, Rosh Hashanna is not the Holiest moment in the Jewish calendar. It’s second to Yom Kippur, which falls exactly eight days after the end of Rosh Hashanna.

For Jews, the ten days which contain Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur create a season of reflection, confession, prayer and forgiveness. For those who hate Jews, it’s a season to attack, demonize and condemn the world’s only Jewish state.

That’s not a coincidence.

While the G-d of Israel judges everyone and everything, a brazen Jew-hater has once again taken stage-center in the world‘s biggest diplomatic arena. That arena is the United Nations (UN), which has become Man’s ‘Temple of Peace’. That Jew-hater is Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas knows what he’s doing. He has steeped himself in the anti-Jewish world of Holocaust denial and Jew-hate. He has a PhD from a Communist (Russian) University that’s entitled, "The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism” (“Report: Abbas’ Holocaust-Denial Dissertation Widely-Taught in PA”, Arutz Sheva, April 28, 2011).  That 1982 dissertation was published as a book in 1984 (ibid). By 2011 that ‘book’ had become the basis for Holocaust studies throughout the Palestinian Authority (PA) (ibid).

His dissertation doesn’t completely deny the Holocaust. It does allow that some Jews were murdered. But it denies that gas chambers were used to kill Jews. It accuses Zionist leaders of establishing a partnership with Hitler. It argues that Zionist leaders encouraged Hitler to persecute Jews (ibid).

That PhD is now used in the PA’s educational curriculum (at least as of 2011). It’s part of reason many ‘Palestinians’ call Israelis Judeo-Nazis.  

Today, Abbas leads a Fatah political Party whose Charter seeks to remove Jews from the Middle East. When the 2013 American-led ‘peace talks’ with Israel began, he declared that there will be no Jews in his Arab-only state called, ‘Palestine’ (“Abbas: 'Not a single Israeli' in future Palestinian state”, Reuters news service, July 30, 2013).  

Abbas has an agenda. That agenda is not statehood or self-determination for an Arab ‘people’. His agenda is the complete removal of the ‘Zionist entity’ (the Jewish State) from the world map. His Party logo reflects that: his new ‘Palestine’ isn’t portrayed on that logo as sitting beside Israel; it’s pictured as replacing Israel.

That’s why he travels to the UN. He wants a judgment against the Jewish state. He wants the world to approve his plan for ethnic cleansing against the Jews.  

This isn’t the first time he’s gone before the United Nations to make such a demand. He did it on Rosh Hashanna 2011 (September 23, 2011). He did it again on this year’s Rosh Hashanna (September 26, 2014).

In this year’s UN speech, Abbas revealed what kind of ‘peace partner’ he is for Israel. He didn’t talk about peace and reconcilement with the Jewish State. He didn’t talk about the benefits of peace for both the Jewish and ‘Palestinian’ peoples. Instead, he called Israel ‘genocidal’ (“Abbas at UNGA: Israel perpetrated genocide in Gaza, we won't forget or forgive”, Haaretz, September 26, 2014). He cited Israel for ‘war crimes’ (ibid). He accused Israel of ‘state terrorism’ (ibid). He described Israel as creating ‘apartheid’ conditions for the ‘Palestinian’ people (“US says Abbas UN speech undermines peace efforts”, PLO news service, September 27, 2014).  He said that his ‘people’ could never forgive or forget what Israel had just done to Gaza in the 50-day war that ended August 26, 2014.

He forgot to mention that Israel had attacked Gaza in order to defend itself against hundreds of rockets being fired from Gaza at its civilian population. He didn’t mention that Israel, as a sovereign state, has the right to defend itself against such attack. He simply declared that the Gaza war was “a new war of genocide perpetrated against the Palestinian people” (“US slams Abbas’s ‘genocide’ UN speech as ‘offensive’”, Times of Israel, September 27, 2014).

It was not a speech a peacemaker makes. It was, the US said, ‘offensive’ (ibid). Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman went further. He called Abbas’s speech, ‘diplomat terrorism’ (“Palestinian leader accuses Israel of 'genocide' at UN”, BBC, September 27, 2014).

Liberman is right. Mahmoud Abbas didn’t go to the UN to seek peace. He went to that ‘Temple of Peace’ and deliberately desecrated it with diplomatic terrorism.

What will the nations of the world do about that desecration? Will they condemn it—or sanctify it?

The G-d of Israel has a Jewish Story He wants to you see. Diplomatic terrorism against the Jewish State is part of that Story. Man’s anti-Israel ‘Temple of Peace’ is part of that Story.

Stay tuned. This Story is just beginning.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Where will you be next Rosh Hashannah?

Rosh Hashannah is over. Now, we are in the Days of Penitence. Now, we get the chance to think over how we can improve. We get the opportunity to think about where we want to be next year at this time.

A reader has just sent an essay to me from the ‘Dixie Yid’. I don’t know who that is, but the essay below appears to have been written by Rav Moshe Weinberger. It was written for Parshat Ki Tavo, which we read two weeks ago.

I’d like you to take look at it. Here are some excerpts. Perhaps it will affect how you approach your thinking about next New Year’s Day:

I met with a Jew from Paris this week. From the news alone, one cannot properly appreciate the effect increased Anti-Semitism is having on the Jewish community there. This community is over one thousand years old. But now, the main topic of conversation among Parisian Jews is [not if they’ll move to Israel, but] when and how they will move… .

 For hundreds of years, they felt they had found a place of refuge in Paris. But now they simply feel like strangers, like they do not belong. They wish they had a place in France. But they now realize that they must move on to either the next step in their exile or back home to Eretz Yisroel. …

Our people thought, many times in history, that we have found “rest” with various nations of the world. But, sooner or later, they [were reminded that they were] G-d’s wandering dove, longing and searching to find its way home. In the late thirteenth century and early fourteenth century, the nation of Poland guaranteed Jews’ religious and civil rights and invited the Jews to emigrate there. It was a country with nothing and they practically begged the Jews to build a community there. Our people even said that the Hebrew word for Poland (פולין) is a contraction of the words “פה לין, here, you shall rest.” To our dismay, we know what happened to the Jews of Poland during the Holocaust.

The Jews of Morocco used to have a sizable and beautiful Jewish community. Even today, the small community of 3,000 Jews believes that the government of “friendly Arabs” will always protect them. But we see what happened to the Jewish community protected by the Shah of Iran. I have had many students from Persia who showed me pictures of their estates, swimming pools, and mansions with servants from the time of the Shah. Jews had some of the most prominent positions in the government in Iran at that time. But now, the community has dwindled and they are ruled by despots and Islamic extremists. Similarly, the Meshech Chochma [1843-1926] presciently wrote that “If the Jew thinks that Berlin is Jerusalem [as Jews had declared often between the 19th century and the rise of the Nazi Party]… then a raging storm wind will uproot him by his trunk and subject him before a faraway gentile nation…”

…Hashem told his people, who feel homeless and hapless, who are seeking His refuge: “I shall make a place for you.” One of the tzadikim [righteous ones] of the previous generation acutely felt the call to return home just after the Holocaust. The Klauzenberger Rebbe, zt”l, first moved to New York when he left Europe after the War [he had survived the concentration camps]. Some time later, over parshas Ki Savo, the Torah reader reached the psukim [sentences] of the rebuke. He followed the regular custom of quietly and quickly reading the horrible curses that will befall our people if we do not keep the mitzvos [commandments]. But the Rebbe interrupted the reader, calling out, “Louder!”

Confused, the Torah reader paused, not knowing what to do. On one hand, he could not ignore the Rebbe. But on the other hand, the custom is clear. One does not read the curses of the rebuke loudly and slowly. The Rebbe then called out again, “I said, Louder!” The reader was dumbfounded and did not know how to respond. He therefore continued standing there in silence. So the Rebbe spoke up: “Why are you afraid of reading these curses out loud?! We have already endured all of them. We have been through it. It is done. This whole exile is done. I am through here. It is time to return home.”

Indeed, the Rebbe had already begun making plans to return to Eretz Yisroel. The Torah reader began reading the curses loudly and slowly. Many people in the shul began to openly weep as the enormity of everything that they had been through washed over them. Not long afterward, the Rebbe and many of the chassidim returned home to Eretz Yisroel to build the Torah community of Kiryat Sanz. 

This year, may the wandering dove, the Jewish people, finally find rest for its weary wings in its true home of Eretz Yisroel with the coming of Moshiach and the arrival of the complete redemption.

Where will you be next Rosh Hashannah?


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

When the nations will be judged

Note: here’s a second look at HaShem judging the nations
We are judged on Rosh Hashannah. Our Heritage talks about that judgment. Our Heritage also talks about how the nations will be judged (Avodah Zarah 2a-b). Our Heritage is very specific about that judgment.
When the nations will be judged, they will come to stand before HaShem (our G-d), one at a time. The first to appear will be the most prominent among them, Rome. Rome is the West. Rome created the exile that dominates our modern Jewish life. Rome still seeks to control Israel.
Rome will stand before HaShem. It will tell HaShem that it deserves reward, not punishment. It will say, ‘we have established many marketplaces. We have constructed many bath houses. We have amassed much silver and gold’ (ibid, 2b).
Rome will then add, ‘we have done all of this for the benefit of the Jews. Because of our actions, Jews were able to involve themselves with Torah study’ (ibid, 2b).
To this claim, G-d will reply, your actions did indeed benefit the Jewish people. Your efforts did help Jews involve themselves with Torah study. But that wasn’t your intention. Whatever you have done was done for yourselves only, for your own interests. Your motivations for your efforts were not altruistic.
G-d will tell Rome, you established markets, but not for Jews. You did that for your own commercial interests—and to create a quarter for prostitutes. Your bath houses were mostly for you, to ‘luxuriate yourselves in them’ (ibid).
G-d will judge Rome. He will tell Rome, your actions do not merit rewards.
The next nation to stand before G-d will be Persia—Iran. G-d will ask, ‘in what did you involve yourselves?’ (ibid,2b).
Persia (Iran) will reply, we constructed many bridges. We have conquered many cities. We have fought many defensive wars. We have done all this for the Jews, so that they should be able to involve themselves with Torah study (ibid).
G-d will reject Persia’s argument. He will tell Persia, whatever you have done, you have done for yourselves only. You constructed bridges to collect tolls from those who used those bridges. You conquered many cities not for Jews, but in order to press their citizens and livestock into serving your kings. The wars you have waged were possible only because I allowed them to be fought.
G-d will judge Persia-Iran. He will say, your actions do not merit rewards.
The Persians, our Heritage tells us (ibid, 2b), will be shocked. They will expect rewards because, they will believe, they weren’t Rome.
Rome had destroyed the Jews’ last Temple (70 CE). The Persians, however, had allowed the Jews to return to their homeland with Ezra (perhaps 510 BCE), to rebuild the first Temple, which had been destroyed by the Babylonians.
Nevertheless, Persia-Iran will not merit rewards.
Other nations will follow. Each will plead its case before G-d. Each will argue that it had worked to benefit the Jews. Each will praise its own secular accomplishments. Each will claim that Jews clearly benefited from those accomplishments. Each will argue that its actions and behaviour merit reward, not punishment (ibid).
They will all focus on Rome. They will all say, ‘we are not Rome. We never destroyed the Holy Temple’. Each will claim that it never subjugated the Jewish people—certainly not like Rome has done.
G-d will reject their claims. We learn from this rejection that the way each of these nations treated the Jews will in fact become evidence against them (see ibid, 2b, the notes in the ArtScroll Avodah Zara Shottenstein Edition). Their behaviour towards the Jews will not bring them merit for reward.
Rosh Hashannah is before us (tonight, Wednesday, September 24, 2014). All of us will be judged. Nations, too, will be judged (Rosh Hashanna, 8b).
Have the nations been righteous with Israel? Have they treated Israel fairly?
That will be for you to decide. That will be for HaShem to judge.
The G-d of Israel is Just. He is Merciful. To those who wish to return to His ways, He is Patient and Loving.
For the nations, there may yet be time to change for the good. But if, as time passes, the nations use the time allotted to them only to harass Israel ever more aggressively, then the G-d of Israel may no longer remain Patient.
On Friday, September 26, 2014—our second day of Rosh Hashannah--the enemy of Israel, Mahmoud Abbas, is scheduled to appear before the United Nations. He has already announced that he will attempt to rally the entire UN General Assembly against HaShem’s Treasure, Israel (“Abbas Will 'Drop a Bomb' on Israel at the UN”, Arutz Sheva, September 24, 2014).
Do you see the irony? On Rosh Hashannah, just as we all stand before HaShem to be judged, Mahmoud Abbas will ask the United Nations to pass a judgment against Israel. As he and they do that, the G-d of Israel will judge Abbas and the United Nations.
How do you think that’s going to work out?
This is Rosh Hashannah. It the time when HaShem judges everyone.
Shannah Tova. Happy New Year.

Rosh Hashannah: when HaShem judges everyone

Our Heritage teaches us that Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year celebration, is unique. It’s the time for silent introspection, repentance, prayer and joy. It's the time each year when HaShem (our G-d) judges us.

On these two days of prayer, we pass before our G-d as sheep pass before the shepherd. As we pass before Him, He looks at each of us. He judges us.

Through this judgment, our fate for the coming year is determined: who will live, who will die, who will be at peace, who will be troubled, who will be safe, who will be at risk, etc.

That’s a simplified look at the Rosh Hashanna process. But it tells you the basics.

This year, our two-day Rosh Hashannah Holiday begins in a matter of hours. It begins tonight, Wednesday, September 24, 2014.

Are you ready to be judged?

Since a judgment is being prepared for each of us, it’s appropriate to become introspective. It’s appropriate to do an accounting of all we have done this past year.

It’s appropriate to think about our actions. After all, we’ve got to accept responsibility. We started the year with hopes and plans. Some may have added ‘resolutions’. Now we must account for those plans, hopes and resolutions.

That’s Rosh Hashanna. It’s the time for our annual ‘performance review’.

On one level, that’s what Judaism is all about—accepting responsibility for our actions. That’s why it’s appropriate that, as Rosh Hashannah approaches, we should ask ourselves, how did we do this year?

Were we as honest as we should have been? Did we treat our loved ones with love? Did we follow our mitzvot (commandments) as thoroughly as we should have?

There are many things for which we will be judged. In our Rosh Hashanna prayers, we talk about ourselves. We get specific. We confess our sins. We accept HaShem’s Kingship over us.

Our prayers reveal that we have many reasons to ask HaShem for His Mercy. On Rosh Hashannah, we have many opportunities to ask Him for that Mercy.

But Rosh Hashannah is also about a different kind of judgment. It’s not just individuals who are judged. Our Heritage teaches us that, on Rosh Hashannah, HaShem also judges the nations of the world (Avodah Zara, 2b).

Since the nations are to be judged, it’s appropriate to become introspective. It’s appropriate to do an accounting.

It’s appropriate to review what actions the nations have taken during this past year.

After all, they must accept responsibility for their actions. Like us, they must prepare to stand before HaShem.

To prepare for—and understand—how nations will be judged, it’s correct for us to ask, how did the nations do this year?

Were they as honest as they could have been? Did they treat HaShem with respect? Did they treat HaShem’s Treasure—Israel—with respect?

The United Nations (UN) demonized Israel. It didn’t simply condemn Israel. It accused HaShem’s beloved of war crimes. It sought to criminalize Israel. It condemned Israel ‘in the harshest manner’ possible.

The European Union (EU) showed nothing but scorn for HaShem’s Treasure. The EU didn’t just ignore Israel’s claim over the land of Israel. It told Israel it was losing its patience over Israel’s apparent refusal to give it away to those who hate HaShem.

The United States (US) claimed it was Israel’s best ally ever. It told Israel it would ‘always protect your back’. Then it tried to force Israel to give away HaShem’s Gift (the Land). It even threatened a third Intifada if Israel didn’t comply.

When Israel went to war against those who are committed to destroying Israel—HaShem’s Treasure—the US cut off some of the war supplies Israel had asked to receive. The US—after confirming that it’s Israel’s greatest ally ever--criticized Israel for killing human shields. The US ignored those who deliberately, cynically and illegally used those human shields to attempt to protect legitimate and legal military targets. The US pressured Israel to accept a cease fire before Israel could extinguish the enemy’s ability to attack it, HaShem’s Chosen.

This past year, the Arab nations closest to Israel have demonized and dehumanized Israel and its Jews. Arabs attacked Israel. They kidnapped and murdered Jews. They committed crimes against humanity—and then worked hard to have Israel criminalized for those crimes.

On Rosh Hashannah, HaShem (our G-d) judges everyone. He judges Mankind. He judges the nations.

He has recorded all that we—and the nations—have done.

Nothing has been left out. Nothing has been overlooked. Nothing has been deleted.

HaShem (the G-d of Israel) has a Jewish Story He wants you to see. Rosh Hashannah is part of that Story. Our repentance is part of that Story. The nations of the world are part of that Story.

Stay tuned. This Story is just beginning.





Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Do Israel’s headlines reveal our truth?

You are reading this essay because you are an English speaker—or, at the very least, a reader of English. But when you read your English news headlines, do you understand the potential inner essence of the headline?

Headlines are more than just a group of words that provide information. They also tell a story. Sometimes, they unwittingly reveal an underlying truth.

Take the headline, “Lapid Holds Press Conference --On Shabbat?”, (Arutz Sheva, September 20, 2014). How would you read those words?

Well, first of all, the headline is both a statement (Lapid holds a Press Conference) and a question (on Shabbat?). The statement is clear: leading Israeli politician Yair Lapid gave a press conference. That’s news. But it isn’t new.

Politicians give Press Conferences all the time. It’s how they speak to voters.

It’s the question that’s new. The question suggests two things: first, it suggests that a Press Conference in
Israel on Shabbat is not the norm; and second, it raises a potential question about Lapid’s judgment.

In fact, that’s what the story was about. Yair Lapid, by calling a Press Conference on Shabbat, forced news reporters who might have been Shabbat-observing to travel (a potential violation of the Shabbat) in order to do their job.

But this news headline also contained a hidden revelation. It reminded us that Israel isn’t what we might have thought it was.

What’s the problem here? Many Israeli politicians are not Shabbat-observing. Many are not religious. Many speak ill of religion. Many so dislike religious Jews they are openly hostile to anything religious, including Shabbat.

A politician who’ breaks’ the Shabbat is not news.

Yes, for religious Jews, such a story is a frustration. It’s cause for negative feelings towards anti-religious Jews. It causes strife within the Jewish nation. It provokes us to separate from one another. It keeps us from uniting.
Such a story highlights the differences between us. It’s one of the sad realities of modern Israel. We are not a united nation.
This story has two companion pieces (“Will Lapid's Sabbath Desecration Bring Down the Coalition?”, Arutz Sheva, September 20, 2014; and, “MKs lash Lapid for Shabbat press conference”, Times of Israel, September 21, 2014). Together, these three stories suggest that Lapid didn’t just anger religious Jews when he held this news conference. He offended, these stories suggest, Leftists as well.
That’s where the revelation lies.
Generally, Leftists aren’t a Shabbat-observing group. Typically, they are not religious. Typically, they are anti-religious (read Haaretz).
Now, it’s true that the Leftist Lapid reportedly most offended (Meretz Party Chairperson Zahava Galon) was probably being sarcastic when she criticized Lapid—though the Times of Israel story suggested she wasn’t. She said, “While you [the readers]were enjoying your day of rest, Finance Minister Yair Lapid decided to drag all the financial journalists from their homes in the middle of Shabbat, inviting them to park at the entrance to his house in Tel Aviv so that they could hear him read off a thoughtless announcement.”
It turns out that, at least according to Galon, Lapid’s ‘Press Conference’ took all of a minute-and-a-half. But, she said, “it certainly was enough to destroy the Shabbat of the cameramen and journalists forced”  to endure the meaningless utterances of the meaningless Lapid. It was, she said, ‘a demonstration of insensitivity” (Times of Israel, ibid).
On one level, this story is similar to other ‘news stories’ that get posted on weekends: they’re often more fluff than substance, more meaningless than meaningful.
But, despite this ‘weekend fluffery syndrome’, this story reveals something. It contains a hidden message: everyone in Israel, no matter his or  her religious affiliation, knows what Shabbat is all about.
That’s the hidden truth here. I don't know if Zehava Galon is religious. But all of us who live here understand that Israel is different. Non-religious Jews here usually know about Shabbat. They understand (the upcoming) Rosh Hashannah. They understand G-d in a way non-affiliated Jews elsewhere don’t.
Religious Jews, particularly those who call themselves 'Religious Zionists', should remember that. Yes, we are indeed not united. But we are a lot closer to being united than Jews in, say, America.
Whether or not Zahava Galon knows about Shabbat, she should be invited out to a Shabbat meal. She should be rewarded with a smile for her Shabbat recognition, even if that recognition was more for humour or ‘politics’ than anything else.
Whatever her religious affiliation, Zehava Galon is a lot closer to us than we think. We shouldn’t forget that.
The G-d of Israel has a Jewish Story He wants us to see. Zehava Galon is no less a part of that Story than you.
We hasten our Redemption through uniting. Zehavah Galon reveals that she understands something about the path to that Redemption. We shouldn’t ignore that.

We should reward it--even if she is a Leftist.