March 31, 2003

America WAKE UP

America WAKE UP

Speech by United States Navy Captain Dan Oimette,
Executive Office NAS, Pensacola

That's what we think we heard on the 11th of September 2001 and maybe it was, but I think it should have been "Get Out of Bed!" In fact, I think the alarm clock has been buzzing since 1979 and we have continued to hit the snooze button and roll over for few more minutes of peaceful sleep since then. It was a cool fall day in November 1979 in a country going through a religious and political upheaval when a group of Iranian students attacked and seized the American Embassy in Tehran. This seizure was an outright attack on American soil; it was an attack that held the world's most powerful country hostage and paralyzed a Presidency. The attack on this sovereign US embassy set the stage for the events to follow for the next 23 years.

America was still reeling from the aftermath of the Viet Nam experience and had a serious threat from the Soviet Union when then, President Carter, had to do something. He chose to conduct a clandestine raid in the desert. The ill-fated mission ended in ruin, but stood as a symbol of America's inability to deal with terrorism. America's military had been decimated and downsized right sized since the end of the Viet Nam war. A poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly organized military was called on to execute a complex mission that was doomed from the start.

Shortly after the Tehran experience, Americans began to be kidnapped and killed throughout the Middle East. America could do little to protect her citizens living and working abroad. The attacks against US soil continued:

In April of 1983 a large vehicle packed with high explosives was driven into the US Embassy compound in Beirut. When it explodes, it kills 63 people. The alarm went off again and America hit the Snooze Button once more.

Then just six short months later a large truck heavily laden down with over 2500 pounds of TNT smashed through the main gate of the US Marine Corps headquarters in Beirut. 241 US servicemen are killed. America mourns her dead and hit the Snooze Button once more.

Two months later in December 1983, another truck loaded with explosives is driven into the US Embassy in Kuwait and America continues her slumber. The following year, in September 1984, another van was driven into the gates of the US Embassy in Beirut and America slept.

Soon the terrorism spreads to Europe:

In April 1985 a bomb explodes in a restaurant frequented by US soldiers
in Madrid.

August a Volkswagen loaded with explosives is driven into the main gate
of the US Air Force Base at Rhein-Main
, 22 are killed and the Snooze Alarm is buzzing louder and louder as US soil is continually attacked.

Fifty-nine days later a cruise ship, the Achille Lauro is hijacked and we watched as an American in a wheelchair is singled out of the passenger list and executed.

The terrorists then shift their tactics to bombing civilian airliners when they bomb TWA Flight 840 in April of 1986 that killed four.

Most tragic bombing, Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 259. America wants to treat these terrorist acts as crimes; in fact we are still trying to bring these people to trial. These are acts of war...the Wake Up alarm is louder and louder.

The terrorists decide to bring the fight to America:

In January 1993, two CIA agents are shot and killed as they enter CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

The following month, February 1993, a group of terrorists are arrested after a
rented van packed with explosives is driven into the underground parking garage of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Six people are killed and over 1000 are injured. Still this is a crime and not an act of war? The Snooze alarm is depressed again.

Then in November 1995 a car bomb explodes at a US military complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia killing seven service men and women.

A few months later in June of 1996, another truck bomb explodes only 35 yards from the US military compound in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It destroys the Khobar Towers, a US Air Force barracks, killing 19 and injuring over 500.

The terrorists are getting braver and smarter as they see that America does not respond decisively. They move to coordinate their attacks in a simultaneous attack on two US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. These attacks were planned with precision - they kill 224. America responds with cruise missile attacks and goes back to sleep.

The USS Cole was docked in the port of Aden, Yemen for refueling on 12 October 2000, when a small craft pulled along side the ship and exploded killing 17 US Navy Sailors. Attacking a US War Ship is an act of war, but we sent the FBI to investigate the crime and went back to sleep.

And of course you know the events of 11 September 2001. Most Americans think this was the first attack against US soil or in America. How wrong they are. America has been under a constant attack since 1979 and we chose to hit the snooze alarm and roll over and go back to sleep.

In the news lately we have seen lots of finger pointing from every high official in government over what they knew and what they didn't know. But if you've read the papers and paid a little attention I think you can see exactly what they knew. You don't have to be in the FBI or CIA or on the National Security Council to see the pattern that has been developing since 1979. The President is right on when he says we are engaged in a war. I think we have been in a war for the past 23 years and it will continue until we as a people decide enough is enough.

America has to "Get out of Bed" and act decisively now. America has changed forever. We have to be ready to pay the price and make the sacrifice to ensure our way of life continues. We cannot afford to hit the Snooze Button again and roll over and go back to sleep. We have to make the terrorists know that in the words of Admiral Yamamoto after the attack on Pearl Harbor "that all they have done is to awaken a sleeping giant."

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March 29, 2003

Jewish Dietary Laws

Jewish Dietary Laws Reflect Ethics not Health Concerns

Rabbi Joseph P. Klein, Temple Emanu-El

(Redacted from an article in the Detroit Jewish News, March 28, 2003)

This weeks Torah portion declares which animals are and which animals are not permitted to be eaten. Leviticus 11 is the primary source of the vast literature of Jewish dietary requirements. Beginning more than 2,000 years ago, the Pharisees and the rabbis constructed a complex system of dietary regulations called the laws of kashrut.

As early as the 4th century B.C.E., Cleachus, a pupil of Aristotle, reported that his master had a conversation with a Jew, and came away from it deeply impressed by two things: the Jew's philosophy and the Jew's strict diet. And still today, a good 2,500 years since Aristotle, and more than 2,000 years since the Pharisees began to codify their system of dietary laws, most non-Jews know something about "keeping kosher."

The very word kosher has entered our English language with universal acceptance. It is ubiquitous — appearing everywhere from pickle labels to the Congressional Record. We freely use the term in everyday English, though almost always divorced from its religious and legal use. Probably no other subject of Torah has generated as much literature, discussion and speculative justifications as have the dietary restrictions.

Our Torah portion for this week delineates acceptable and forbidden animals, fish, fowl and insects. The text, however, gives no specific reason why one animal is okay and the other not. We have only the statement, found at the end of this section of Leviticus 11:44-47: "For I am the Lord who brought you out of Egypt to be your God; you will therefore be holy because I am holy."

The apparent purpose is to achieve "holiness." It has nothing to do with health or personal cleanliness, or with communal methods of slaughtering and sanitation. In following the dietary laws, we come to understand and establish a certain reverence for life. Kashrut becomes a moral imperative.

What does it mean then to use the term kosher? Surely it transcends the sanitary cleanliness of food, or the "purity" of food products. Kosher does not mean "clean," and certainly not "holy" or "blessed." It means "proper and appropriate," indeed even ethically and morally proper and appropriate.

The purpose of the dietary laws of kashrut is to help us choose guidelines for right behavior. As living creatures, we interact in the natural world according to our basic needs. But in so doing, we must remember that we are more than animals; that our humanity demands we interact with righteousness and with respect for all life. ##

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March 28, 2003

Rabbinic Viewpoint

Rabbinic Viewpoint

(Excerpt from article by Shelli Dorfman, The Detroit Jewish News, March 28, 2003)

Rabbi Elimelich Silberberg

"I find it odd when people pray for peace," said Rabbi Elimelech Silberberg of the Sara Tugman Bais Chabad Torah Center in West Bloomfield. "What's wrong with praying for an American victory and realizing that there can't be peace without a decisive victory?"

Maintaining that Saddam Hussein is an enemy of both the United States and Israel, the rabbi said, "He is evil — not crazy, but evil — and this is a war against evil.

"The president has the best interest of America in mind and while this is not a Jewish war and President Bush is not fighting for the Jews or for Israel, it is a war against Saddam Hussein, who is a sworn enemy of Israel. So in effect, our troops are also fighting Israel's battle against a vicious and implacable enemy. American Jews owe the U.S. armed servicemen a special debt of gratitude for this."

Rabbi Silberberg also spoke of the importance of prayer. "As Jews, our obligation to pray for the safety of our troops in Iraq and the Middle East goes beyond the obligation of other American citizens," he said. "Aside from stressing the importance of prayer, Torah also teaches that mitzvot and good deeds elicit God's protection. Hopefully, all of us will increase not only our tefillot (prayers) but also our daily acts of kindness that God may have mercy on our troops and protect them from harm. The essence of prayer is when you recognize your ultimate destiny and victory is through the hands of God.

"The Midrash tells us (Bereshit, Rabba 42:7) that when the world is in turmoil it is an auspicious time to pray for the coming of Mashiach (Messiah), who will usher in an era of peace and tranquility."

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March 23, 2003

Palestinian Arabs rally for Saddam Hussein

Why is the American State Department and Administration planning to try and enforce a “Roadmap Plan” that will ultimately dismember our ally, Israel while the Palestinian Arabs show their true colors rallying with Saddam Hussein and burning our flags. Does the Administration really believe they could ever buy Arab or Islamic loyalty for more than 10 minutes?

Jerome S. Kaufman

Palestinian hoard supplies, rally in support of Saddam

By Yoav Appel , Associated Press March 21, 2003

TEI. AVIV, Israel — Israelis seemed of two minds about how to deal with what officials say is, essentially, the small chance of a great calamity — that Iraq could fire Scud missiles carrying chemical or biological warheads. Many fearful parents kept their children home from school Thursday. Other residents said they were more afraid of Palestinian attacks.

In the West Bank and Gaza hundreds of Palestinians marched in support of Saddam Hussein in two rallies. In Gaza City, a Palestinian Cabinet minister, Abdel Aziz Shaheen, told a crowd of about 1,500, “This is a war against all Arabs and Muslims." In the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, about 700 Palestinians, most of them school children, waved Iraqi flags and posters of Saddam and burned two U.S. flags. They shouted "Death to America,'1 death to Bush!" and "We will sacrifice our soul and our blood for Saddam"

The Palestinian Authority said it opposes the U.S.-led war, but it stopped short of siding with Saddam, as Yasser Arafat did 12 years ago.
Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a spokesman for Hamas, said it would continue its fight against Israel but would not target Americans. The militant Islamic group has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks that have killed hundreds of Israelis.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Cabinet ministers kept to their state policy: Israel has no part in the offensive but is prepared should Iraq attack.

Meanwhile teachers led students in gas mask drills. At Tel Aviv's Tel Nordau School an art teacher helped children decorate their masks with paints. Children who showed up at school without gas masks were sent home. Five youths were injured by accidental injections of atropine, a drug that counteracts nerve gas poisoning. Israel's medical rescue service said one of the injured was a 4-year-old was hospitalized. Several thousand Israelis in the Tel Aviv area, a target of Iraqi Scuds in 1991, fled to safer parts of the country such as Jerusalem, unlikely to be hit because of its holy sites, or Eilat, far out of range at Israel's southern rip. But cafes, bars and restaurants remained busy Thursday evening, the beginning of the Israeli weekend. One bar invited patrons to a "gas mask party."

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March 12, 2003

Street Support of Suicide Terrorists

Community acceptance makes terror attacks possible, analyst says.
By Matt Kelley, Associated Press.

WASHINGTON - Suicide terrorists may be lured by ideology, religion and promises of help for their families, but the groups that recruit, equip and direct them get the most benefit from their actions, a University of Michigan researcher concludes. Stopping suicide attacks may require finding the right mix of pressure and inducements to get the communities themselves to abandon support for institutions that recruit suicide attackers," researcher Scott Atran writes in today's edition of the journal Science.

Other experts who reviewed Atran's analysis said his view is well accepted among terrorism researchers, even if it goes against the conventional wisdom that attackers like the Sept. 11 hijackers are zealots. “Most of the Sept. attackers were well-educated men from relatively prosperous families, and the same can be said of many of the Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel and Tamil suicide attackers in Sri Lanka,” said terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman.

"Suicide bombing is an instrument of warfare. That's how to understand it," said Hoffman, an analyst with the independent RAND Corp. think tank. It's a strategy that's effective because it conveys the image of a crazy, irrational adversary — if I'm up against an irrational, fanatical adversary, what can I do?"

Leaders of terrorist groups deliberately manipulate their followers' religious beliefs and feelings of being politically powerless, oppressed or humiliated, Atran writes, just as fast-food companies manipulate people's cravings for fatty foods. "For the sponsoring organization, suicide bombers are expendable assets whose losses generate more assets by expanding public support and pools of potential recruits," Atran writes in a review of articles published on the issue. Targeting those terrorist groups is the most effective short-term tactic against suicide attacks, said Gideon Rose, a terrorism expert with the Council on Foreign Relations.

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March 07, 2003

Growing American Support for Israel

As anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic sentiment grows in many parts of the world, polls show that the already high American popular support for Israel continues to rise. In February, the Gallup polling organization released results of a survey showing an increase in support for Israel among the American people. The poll indicates that Americans give Israel an overall favorable rating of 64 percent, an increase of more than 10 percent since last year. Among those, 22 percent of Americans rate their opinion of Israel as "very favorable," the highest such rating in over a decade and a 6-point jump since 2002.

In addition to high favorable ratings, the poll illustrates that Americans continue to support Israel in its war against Palestinian terror. Fifty-eight percent of the public expressed more sympathy toward Israel than toward the Palestinians, while only 13 percent said they sympathized more with the Palestinians.

Significantly, support for Israel has increased since last year among Republicans, Democrats and independents alike, according to this latest poll. It is also notable that this increased support for Israel — the highest since the Persian Gulf War in 1991 — once again comes at a time when Saddam Hussein threatens both countries. "These historical patterns may suggest that a focus on nations or groups that are enemies of both the United States and Israel may have the side effect of increasing the American public's sympathy for Israel, the United States' chief ally in the Middle East," wrote Gallup's Jeffrey M. Jones upon presenting the survey's findings.

Another poll, released in January by Zogby America, also found broad popular support for Israel. Perhaps recognizing Americans favor Israel that the two nations share a common enemy in fundamentalist Islamic terrorism, the American people, according to this poll, overwhelmingly consider Israel to be its greatest Middle East ally in the war on terror. In fact, the number of people surveyed who characterize Israel, as an "excellent" ally in the U.S. war on terrorism is seven times that of the number two-rated Middle Eastern state. Other figures released in this poll included a 59 percent favorable rating for Israel, also the highest among Middle Eastern states. A full 85 percent of those surveyed agree that the Bush administration should improve relations with Israel.

Upon assuming office in 2001, President Bush reaffirmed the alliance between the United States and Israel. "One of our most important friends is the State of Israel," he said in a speech to the American Jewish Committee. The polls indicate that the American people agree.

From the Near East Report

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March 06, 2003

Kofi Annan, Our Latest Spiritualist

Excerpted from great article by Martin Peretz, The New Republic, March 3, 2003

NOT SINCE THAT LOFTY SPIRITUALIST, Dag Hammarskjold has there been a U.N. secretary-general whom the worthy have so taken to their bosoms. A great moral aura attaches to Kofi Annan, even though—as a lesser U.N. official in both bloody Bosnia and bloodier Rwanda—he kept armed multinational forces under his command from impeding the macabre work of mass murderers. But, at the Secretariat, the salient comparisons are to ex-Nazi KurtWaldheim. So it is not surprising that Annan considers himself the embodiment of all that is virtuous in world affairs.

Hammarskjold claimed to "represent the detached element in the international life of the peoples." Annan is not so abstract, but he does annex to his person the interests of everyone. Speaking for "the international community as a whole," he admonishes the United States and its allies that "there is no substitute for the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations Security Council. "And so he does not want the American- and British-led alliance to remove Saddam Hussein unless the French, Germans, and Russians assent.

IT'S A STRANGE BUNCH ON WHICH TO RELY for ethical validation. These are the same governments, after all, that for years conspired with Saddam to get the Security Council to abrogate its sanctions against his regime—that is, to rescue him from the legal consequences of the Gulf war formulated by the Security Council itself. And it was their companies that provided Saddam with perilous chemicals, biologicals, and maybe even nuclear know-how.

It is an intellectual scam for the Security Council and the secretary-general to charge the United States with endangering the United Nations when it is they, through their years of appeasement, who have made the world organization an object of justifiable ridicule. …

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March 03, 2003

Mis-directed Wishful Thinking

Arutz Sheva News Service March 3, 2003

Some diehard optimists are saying that because February saw one of the lowest totals of Israeli deaths since the Oslo War began - seven soldiers in three attacks, and no civilians - Arafat is apparently interested in keeping down terrorism, at least until after the upcoming war with Iraq. They say that he is afraid of "American pressure" following the defeat of Saddam Hussein.

Most security sources, however, say that the drop in the number of attacks and casualties has nothing to do with Arafat, and everything to do with Israel's anti-terror efforts.

During the month of February, the Israelis thwarted no less than 57 attempted attacks. These included 13 suicide attacks, two car, and five attacks on utposts and communities in Gaza.

In addition, it was announced yesterday that a Hamas cell was in the midst
of planning to place a bomb in the way of a vehicle carrying Prime Minister Sharon, to attack a Jerusalem synagogue, and to fire mortar shells at Gilo.

IDF sources say that the PA is taking no action against terrorism, except some measures to stop rocket attacks against the Negev from within Gaza. If the measures continue, today's rocket attacks against Sderot show that they were not successful.

U.S. President Bush spelled out last year several conditions that the PA must fulfill in order for a Palestinian state to be established, including the isarming, dismantling, and outlawing of terrorist groups.

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Same as it ever was

By Saul Singer, The Jerusalem Post International

Sometimes it seems that September 11 changed how everyone, but particularly the US administration, sees the world. An increasingly out-of-the-box Saddam Hussein is not to be ignored, but confronted. Yasser Arafat should not be wooed, but replaced. And democracy in the Arab world is not a threat to stability, but a key American objective.

Yet one ide'e fixe seems to remain: Settlements are an obstacle to peace.

Even the hawkish US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz was quoted as saying that "dealing with settlements" was one of the "concrete steps" that must be taken after the expected war in Iraq. That high-level Bush administration officials are even paying lip service to the centrality of settlements betrays a case of old-think that calls into question America's understanding, not just of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but of the war against militant Islam in general.

The problem starts with terminology. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat claimed in a recent New York Times op-ed that there are 400,000 "settlers." Such an inflated figure can only include the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem built since 1967, which even the most dovish Israelis would not consider evacuating.

But it gets worse. The Palestinian Authority routinely refers to Israel cities and towns as "settlements" and "colonies." According to a study by Palestinian Media Watch, Netanya, Hadera, Zichron Ya'akov, Kfar Saba, Acre, Petah Tikva, Ra'anana, and kibbutzim, (all in the very heart of tiny Israel), have all been labeled "settlements." Jaffa, Haifa, Tiberias, Lod, Ramie, Safed, Caesarea, Belt She'an, and Acre have been tagged as "captured Palestinian cities."

As Ehud Barak belatedly pointed out, Arafat does not even accept the existence of a Jewish people, let alone that this people has a right to self-determination in the area that was called Palestine

To the Palestinian ears, then, the settlement problem is the Israel problem. American preoccupation with the minutiae of caravans on barren hilltops, or how to define "natural growth," misses the point. Worse, it plays into the Palestinian attempt to distract from the real obstacle to peace, which is the refusal to accept a Jewish state, regardless of its borders.

It is possible that the Bush administration knows this, and that talk of settlements, like the road map, is simply a way of throwing a bone to the Europeans and Arab states that are upset over US plans in Iraq. But the Bush administration has shown almost no signs that the penny has dropped: the Arab-Israeli conflict is not separate from, but a subset of militant Islam's war against the United States.

In this context, playing into the settlement distraction is a serious mistake. The more the Bush administration talks about settlements, the longer the Arab world can pretend that Israel, not their rejectionism, is holding up peace.

Imagine that the United States were to focus on Arab rejectionism, the real obstacle to peace. It would insist that Egypt and Jordan return their ambassadors to Israel, that Arab leaders enter face-to-face talks with Israeli leaders, that the "right of return" to Israel be renounced, and that a "warm peace" be sketched out for the day after permanent borders are drawn. US policy should be restructured along these lines not just for Israel's sake, but also for America's.

Appeasing Arab rejectionism of Israel is the same as appeasing countries that harbor terrorism. Until Bush more fully integrates his thinking on the Arab-Israeli conflict into the wider war, he is facing the same enemy with contradictory strategies: moral clarity on the one hand and appeasement on the other"

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March 02, 2003

Jordan and American War Effort

Israel’s vaunted “peace treaty” with Jordan

(Non-italicized part from Jerusalem Post International Jan. 31, 2003)

Jordan's King Abdullah II told reporters in Amman last week that negotiations were under way with an undisclosed European country to purchase three missile batteries that he planned to deploy along the border to prevent Israel Air Force planes using Jordan's air space to respond to an Iraqi attack.

According to reports, Abdullah said the aim is to block Israel's participation in the war and at the same time makes it "unnecessary" to deploy US troops on Jordanian soil. Abdullah, despite being the recipient of millions of dollars of US aid over the years, is another Arab ally that will not help the US in its war against Iraq.

What will be interesting is if Saddam Hussein or a similar Iraqi leader elects to simply wipe Jordan off the map and declare it part of Iraq just as they did with neighboring Kuwait in 1991. Then to whom will Jordan come running for help? Both the US and Israel!

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