August 31, 2006

An Israeli Cri de Coeur

As you know, Israel Commentary has never asked for a contribution to anything but these are desperate times in Israel. Following is a self-explanatory letter just received from a dedicated Israeli friend of mine whom I trust implicitly and whose projects I have supported for the last 20 plus years.

August 30, 2006

Dear Jerry,

Shalom. I am writing to you during these very disturbing and challenging times, fully aware that that you understand so much of the situation that we are facing in our beloved land.

The past six years of unending war against us has forced us to continuously be on top of the situation in searching for the best possibilities of immediate response to emergency in order to save innocent lives. We are constantly under terror attack from the Arabs that surround us. The so-called Oslo Peace Accords of 1993, has only made them more ambitious in their goal to destroy Israel.

It has been proven that those of us trained by the army in emergency and medical management are always the first to respond to any situation whether concerning security, defense or medical trauma. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is now taking advantage of our initiative, experience, and intimate familiarity of the areas and working along with our volunteers in each situation.

We have established in each community throughout Yesha (Judea and Samaria) immediate response teams - volunteers who live in the area, have the military training with the IDF and lead the immediate call out to respond in times of attack both in the communities and on the roads. In addition we have over 500 trained volunteers in emergency trauma medicine who are always on call 24/7 in case of an emergency. The need for these volunteers in security and in trauma has only increased in the past few years.

In order to respond, our teams must be equipped with communications equipment, especially beepers that call us out either by the IDF, or MDA in case of an emergency situation. We have 1000 volunteers both in immediate response teams and emergency medical trauma personal who are in need of the beepers day and night, wherever they are, in order to receive the call that has proven to save lives.

Each beeper costs $224 American to lease over a three-year period and we are in dire need of renewing the leases of the 1000 beepers now in service. This is a special price offered by the Beeper Communications Company if we continue with 1000 beepers and includes upkeep in a contract for 3 years.

I am hopeful that we will be able to obtain support on this urgent life-saving project and your readers will help in this vital project. I give you my word that the details are exact and the cost is only for the equipment with no additional charge. As to the details of the donations:

Please have contributors send donations in multiples of $224, if at all possible. Ten beepers would cost $2240, 1000 beepers $22,400, etc. The organization that is willing to channel the project, with no administrative or profit off the top, is Hatzalah, Yehuda and Shomron. It is a non-profit organization that is also recognized in the United States and has a 501C-3 number for the IRS.

I have, in the past, personally agreed to co-ordinate several projects with Hatzalah Yehudah and Shomron with the knowledge that this organization is there to do the job without worrying about earning profits.

The United States address is:
Hatzalah Yehudah and Shomron
130 Church Street #324
NYC, NY 10007
Telephone: 866 428 0310
www.hatzalah.org.il

Again our deep gratitude for your assistance in saving precious lives. Now in the month of Elul; the month of forgiveness; each of us must do all that we can to protect our Land, our Torah and the Jewish people.

With love of Zion,

Yehudit Tayar, Special Co-coordinator Security and Emergency Rescue Projects

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

August 30, 2006

JF Kennedy vs. GW Bush

The Washington Times, July 31, 2006

“John F. Kennedy believed that an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenue to balance our budget, just as it will never produce enough jobs or enough profits? So he proposed income tax rate reductions, which the Democratic Congress enacted the year after JFK’S death. Back then, Democrats were for them: More than 80 percent of Democratic senators and representatives voted for the Kennedy tax cuts,” Pete du Pont writes at www.OpinionJournal.com.

“My, how times have changed. Today the-Democratic Party is so vehemently opposed to income tax cuts that when President Bush’s tax cuts reached their final vote in May 2003, only 4 percent of Democratic legislators (2 of 48 senators and 7 of 205 representatives) voted ‘yes,” Mr. du Pont said.
“Opposing tax cuts has become the mantra of the liberal left. Sen. John Kerry wants to roll back Bush’s ‘unaffordable tax cuts? Sen. Mark Dayton (D., Minn.) called the cuts ‘dangerous and destructive and dishonorable? Bill Clinton in 2003 said the cuts were ‘way too big to avoid serious harm? And various New York Times editorials called them ‘economically unsound: claimed that ‘they will increase the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars’ and said they were unlikely ‘to stimulate the wallowing economy? Earlier this month House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi promised that the election of a Democratic House in November would result in a ‘rollback of the tax cuts?

“Of course they have it backwards. President Bush’s personal income, capital gains and dividend tax rate reductions have created economic growth, significantly increased government tax receipts, and reduced the federal deficit by nearly $130 billion. As the New York Times was forced to admit in its front-page headline on July 9, a “Surprising Jump in Tax Revenues Curbs U.S. Deficit?’ But it isn’t surprising at all; the truth is that when tax rates go down, economic activity goes up?’

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 03:55 AM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2006

The Inconvenient Truth about Global Warming

By Wesley Pruden, Editor of the Washington Times

Repent Now! The end is at hand! A panel of eminent scientists testified June 22 at a congressional hearing on global warming, showing up just short of wearing sandwich boards splashed with warnings of the wrath to come. They presented a report by the National Academy of Sciences, 155 pages of hysteria and hyperbole, suggesting that the Earth is running a fever and “human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming.”

The worthies confided that Earth hasn’t been this hot in 400 years, and maybe longer, but gave no hint that they understood how they had undermined their practiced hysterics. If the Earth was this hot 400 years ago, or even 4,000 years ago, then the recent warming could not have been caused by the madness of man’s machines, the flatulence of cows, or even hot air from professors hot to get their names in the paper.

Their presentation was studded with “likely,” “maybe;’ “could be,” and “very close to being right,” with assurances that their findings were gleaned from tree rings, coral, glaciers, cave deposits (from bulls?), ocean and lake sediments, bore holes and ice cores.

The investigation was commissioned in November by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, a Republican from upstate New York, to answer growing skepticism from scientists who think hysteria is not an effective substitute for reasoned analysis. The timing of the hearings, just when Al Gore’s fading horror movie about global warming needs a little mojo at the box office, is no doubt mere coincidence.

Recycling and regurgitation was the order of the day. The panel looked at how other scientists reconstructed temperatures over hundreds and thousands of years. Some of it was educated guessing, since there were few scientific instruments back in that day, and a lot of it was to be taken on faith. Scientists are generally not very hot on faith, but they embrace the global warming doctrine with the enthusiasm of a backwoods snake handler in the Tennessee Mountains. The panelists said the warming over the past 50 years was something no one had seen in a millennium, but conceded that well, umm, OK, it is true that the Earth suffered a “Little Ice Age” for about 350 year after 1500. But hey, who’s counting? Between the year A.D. 1 and the year 1850, volcanoes and fluctuations in the heat from the sun were responsible for temperature changes, but these changes were much less pronounced than the warming caused by man-made pollution in the years since the mid-19th century.

This gets to the point of the hysteria. Scientific Man in all his manufactured glory can’t bear the thought that he might not, after all, be as powerful as a volcano or a solar flare. How many learned degrees does a volcano have, after all? The idea that forces of the universe greater even than Scientific Man may be responsible for the cyclical changes is unbearable.

Hence “global warming” has become the religion — the opiate, you might say — of Scientific Man, a doctrine supported by quackery, supposition and speculation. You could ask the Rt. Rev. Al Gore, the presiding archbishop of the First Church of the Boiling Globe.

The bishops and monsignors of the church treat dissent harshly, though not yet at the stake. Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, writes in the Wall Street Journal of the fate of academic dissenters to orthodox doctrine. “There is a sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.”

He recalls how Mr. Gore, as a senator in 1992, tried to bullyrag dissenting scientists. Indeed, it was about this time that Mr. Gore, at a luncheon interview with editors and reporters at The Washington Times, suggested that we join the fun, too, and even if we printed stuff that wasn’t exactly in’’ it would be OK because the cause was just. This is Mr. Gore’s “inconvenient truth.”

Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 09:38 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2006

What could of and should have been

Why is Israel at War in Lebanon?

By Prof. Paul Eidelberg
The Jewish Press, August 4 and 11, 2006

Why is Israel at war in Lebanon? Instead of to focusing on the political reasons I want to offer a deeper understanding of why Israel is fighting for its survival in Lebanon, a country where Hezbollah - far from being a mere militia, has all the attributes of a state. After all, they control southern Lebanon, and have their own army, one more powerful than the Lebanese army. Hezbollah is more than a proxy of Iran. There are branches of Hezbollah in 20 states. But it is the Lebanese branch of Hezbollah that constitutes the spearhead of Iran’s ambition to be a superpower and dominate the Middle East. Israel stands in the way of that ambition. Hence Israel must be destroyed. Last week Iran’s president said, “We shall soon witness the elimination of the Zionist stain of shame.”

Israel is at war today because Israeli prime ministers not only lacked the ambition to make Israel a superpower, but also pursued a policy of peace, which has truncated Israel by undoing the miracle of the Six-Day War. They failed to translate that miracle into public policy — which would have made Israel a superpower, the only way Israel can survive in the Middle East. Here, one can blame Israeli universities, which do not produce statesmen - men with grandiose ambitions who see history as the story of Israel. Rome recognized Israel or Judea as a superpower, but today historians regard Israel merely as an object of study.

Let’s examine historian Michael Oren’s book, Six Days of War. He notes that on day one, in little more than half an hour, the Israel Air Force destroyed 204 planes, half of Egypt’s air force. They accomplished this while destroying six Egyptian airfields - four in Sinai and two in Egypt. Oren writes: “The Israelis were stunned. No one ever imagined that a single squadron could neutralize an entire air base.” Oren turns to day two and quotes Col. Avraham Adan who, while watching the rout of the Egyptian army, was “stupefied.” “You ride past burnt-out vehicles,” says Adan, “and suddenly you see this immense army too numerous to count, spread out of a vast area as far as your eyes can see ... It was not a pleasant feeling, seeing that gigantic enemy and realizing that you’re only a single battalion of tanks.”

Oren quotes Moshe Dayan, who was no less “puzzled.” “Though Israel had gained command of the skies, Egypt’s cities were not bombed and the Egyptian armored units at the front could have fought even without air support.” Oren then cites the words of Gen. Avraham Yoffe: “There was no planning before the war about what the army would do beyond the al Arish-Jabal-Libni axis - not even a discussion. Nobody believed that we could have accomplished more or that the Egyptian collapse would be so swift.” So Oren sees that generals were “stunned.” “Stupefied” and had an “unpleasant feeling” about the magnitude of their victory. They saw what was happening as “mysterious”

Surely, Oren could have remarked that religious people would regard all this as a miracle. He says nothing. Far be it for this historian to quote Leviticus 26:8: “Five of you shall chase away a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight.” History for Oren has no metaphysical significance. Nor does it have for Israeli prime ministers. Serious belief in God’s providence in the Six-Day War would have required Israel’s national unity government to declare Jewish sovereignty over Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Golan Heights and Sinai. To fully appreciate this miracle, a brief survey of contemporary events - ignored by Oren — will show that Israel’s government could have created a “Greater Israel”; indeed, a superpower.

In June 1967 the United States was bogged down in Vietnam and was very much concerned about Soviet expansion in the Middle East, especially Soviet penetration of the oil-rich Persian Gulf on which the entire economy of the West depends. Recall that Egypt, Syria and Libya were then Soviet clients, and that Egypt had sought to gain control of strategically situated Yemen. Recall, too, that Israel employed French planes and weaponry in its stunning victory over Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.

That victory awakens Washington to Israel’s strategic value, for it resulted in the closing of the Suez Canal to the Soviet Black Sea fleet. This important arm of the Soviet navy was then compelled to sail through the Straits of Gibraltar and around the Cape of Good Hope in order to project Soviet power along the east African littoral and in the Indian Ocean, the sea-lanes of oil tankers from the Persian Gulf. Israel’s superb air force could also help protect NATO’s southern flank in the eastern Mediterranean. America needed a strong and stable ally in the volatile region of the Middle East. A miniature Israel, confined to its precarious 1949 armistice lines, could hardly serve this function. In a memorandum dated June 27, 1967, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that Israel retain control of the Judean and Samarian mountain ridges overlooking its vulnerable population centers on the coastal plain, as well as control of Gaza, the Golan Heights, and a portion of the southern Sinai to secure Israel’s access to the Red Sea through the Strait of Tiran.

Viewed in this light, only a feckless and faithless government - it consisted of both secular and religious Jews - would trivialize the historical significance of Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War by not declaring Jewish sovereignty over the land conquered by the IDF. Instead, ten days after the war, the Government transmitted a proposal to Cairo and Damascus, offering to return to the pre-war borders for a peace agreement! No wonder so many people throughout the world are oblivious of the fact that Israel has valid legal claims to this land, apart from its having been regained in a war of self-defense.

Jordan’s annexation of Judea and Samaria in 1950 was never recognized by any state except Pakistan and Britain. Egypt had no claim to Gaza (and its claim to the Sinai was dubious). Jordan and Egypt had invested nothing in these desolate territories, which were occupied by diverse Arab clans — they’re now called “Palestinians” - which had no indigenous culture linked to this land. The presence of those Arabs would not have deterred statesmen who believed in G-d and possessed the courage of their convictions to extend Jewish law over Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.

Having failed to translate the miracle of the Six-Day War into Israel’s national policy and thereby sanctify G-d’s name, it was inevitable that subsequent Israeli governments would undo that miracle. Israel can hardly be a superpower under the Oslo Agreement, which entails the surrender of Gaza as well as Judea and Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. This defeatist policy - this betrayal by the nation of G-d has encouraged Iran to conquer Israel via Hezbollah, the “party of god”.

Finally, let’s consider the character of the prime ministers who advocated this perfidious policy:
(1) Yitzhak Rabin shook the bloodstained hands of Yasir Arafat.
(2) Ehud Barak virtually licked Arafat’s boots.
(3) Ariel Sharon embraced Arafat’s comrade and successor, Abu Mazen. Clearly, Israeli “generals-become-prime ministers” have been the world’s leading patrons at terrorism. It seems that all of them felt no abhorrence of evil (unlike America’s leaders Ronald Reagan and now GW Bush). They and their educators are very much to blame for Israel’s present plight.

Perhaps a Commission of National Inquiry should examine the curriculum of Israel’s Command and Staff School. The late Professor Harkabi was once the head of this school. He was not only a moral relativist who advocated a Palestinian state, but he sanctioned haviaga, self-restraint, as a guiding military principle. The principle of self-restraint was employed by Rabin, Barak, and Sharon against Arab terrorists — and all of these generals advocated a Palestinian state. What is more, the principle of self-restraint underlies the failure of Israeli governments to declare Jewish sovereignty over the land conquered by the IDF in the Six-Day War. Properly understood, self-restraint — a euphemism for the cowardice or paltriness of Israeli prime ministers — has brought Israel into a proxy war with Iran, a war for which Iran has been preparing for many years, while Israel’s prime ministers were burning incense to the peace process.

Professor Paul Eidelberg teaches at Bar Ilan University in Israel and is the director of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy.


Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 06:03 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2006

To Jewish Leaders from the White House:

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

EXCERPTED FROM A PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE PRESIDENT

White House Conference Center Briefing Room August 21, 2006, 10:02 A.M. EDT


THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. I do want to talk to you about the latest developments in Lebanon, and what we're doing to ensure U.N. Security Council 1701 is implemented and its words are quickly put into action.

Resolution 1701 authorizes an effective international force to deploy to Lebanon, which is essential to peace in the region and it's essential to the freedom of Lebanon. An effective international force will help ensure the cessation of hostilities hold in Lebanon once the Israeli troops withdraw. An effective international force will help the Lebanese army meet its responsibility to secure Lebanon's borders and stop them from acting as -- and stop Hezbollah from acting as a state within a state. An effective international force will help give displaced people in both Lebanon and Israel the confidence to return to their homes and begin rebuilding their lives without fear of renewed violence and terror.

An international force requires international commitment. Previous resolutions have failed in Lebanon because they were not implemented by the international community, and in this case, did not prevent Hezbollah and their sponsors from instigating violence. The new resolution authorizes a force of up to 15,000 troops. It gives this force an expanded mandate. The need is urgent. The international community must now designate the leadership of this new international force, give it robust rules of engagement, and deploy it as quickly as possible to secure the peace.

America will do our part. We will assist a new international force with logistic support, command and control, communications and intelligence. Lebanon, Israel and our allies agreed that this would be the most effective contribution we can make at this time. We will also work with the leadership in the international force, once it's identified, to ensure that the United States is doing all we can to make this mission a success.

Deployment of this new international force will also help speed delivery of humanitarian assistance. Our nation is wasting no time in helping the people of Lebanon. In other words, we're acting before the force gets in there. We've been on the ground in Beirut for weeks, and I've already distributed more than half of our $50 million pledge of disaster relief to the Lebanese people who have lost their homes in the current conflict. Secretary Rice has led the diplomatic efforts to establish humanitarian corridors so that relief convoys can get through, to reopen the Beirut airport to passenger and humanitarian aid flights, and to ensure a steady fuel supply for Lebanese power plants and automobiles. I directed 25,000 tons of wheat be delivered in Lebanon in the coming weeks.

But we'll do even more. Today, I'm announcing that America will send more aid to support humanitarian and reconstruction work in Lebanon, for a total of more than $230 million. These funds will help the Lebanese people rebuild their homes and return to their towns and communities. The funds will help the Lebanese people restore key bridges and roads. The funds will help the Lebanese people rehabilitate schools so the children can start their school year on time this fall.

I directed that an oil spill response team be sent to assist the Lebanese government in cleaning up an oil slick that is endangering coastal communities; proposing a $42 million package to help train and equip Lebanon's armed forces. I will soon be sending a presidential delegation of private sector leaders to Lebanon to identify ways that we can tap into the generosity of American businesses and non-profits to continue to help the people of Lebanon.

We take these steps -- and I'll also work closely with Congress to extend the availability of loan guarantees to help rebuild infrastructure in Israel, infrastructure damaged by Hezbollah's rockets.

America is making a long-term commitment to help the people of Lebanon because we believe every person deserves to live in a free, open society that respects the rights of all. We reject the killing of innocents to achieve a radical and violent agenda.

The terrorists and their state sponsors, Iran and Syria, have a much darker vision. They're working to thwart the efforts of the Lebanese people to break free from foreign domination and build their own democratic future. The terrorists and their sponsors are not going to succeed. The Lebanese people have made it clear they want to live in freedom. And now it's up to their friends and allies to help them do so. This never would have occurred had a terrorist organization, a state within a state, not launched attacks on a sovereign nation. From the beginning, Helen, I said that Israel, one, has a right to defend herself, but Israel ought to be cautious about how she defends herself. Israel is a democratically elected government. They make decisions on their own sovereignty. It's their decision-making that is -- what leads to the tactics they chose.

But the world must understand that now is the time to come together to address the root cause of the problem. And the problem was you have a state within a state. You have people launch attacks on a sovereign nation without the consent of the government in the country in which they are lodged. And that's why it's very important for all of us, those of us who are involved in this process, to get an international force into Lebanon to help the Lebanese government achieve some objectives. One is their ability to exert control over the entire country; secondly is to make sure that the Hezbollah forces don't rearm, don't get arms from Syria or Iran through Syria, to be able to continue to wreak havoc in the region.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Back to Lebanon: The Lebanese Prime Minister, over the weekend, said that Israel flagrantly violated the cease-fire with its raid into Lebanon, and so far the European allies who have committed forces, the U.N. security peacekeeping forces, have expressed reservations; those Muslim nations who have offered troops have been shunned by Israeli officials. Why shouldn't we see the cease-fire as one that essentially is falling apart? And what makes this more than a piece of paper if you don't have the will of the international community to back it up?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, no, listen, all the more reason why we need to help our friends and allies get the forces necessary to help the Lebanese forces keep the cessation of hostilities in place, intact. And that's why we're working with friends, with allies, with Security Council members, to make sure the force that is committed is robust and the rules of engagement are clear. And so it's an ongoing series of conversations and discussions, and hopefully this will happen quite quickly.

Q Will you pressure the French to contribute more troops?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we're pressing on all. I was asked about the French the other day at Camp David,
-- Listen, France has had a very close relationship with Lebanon, there's historical ties with Lebanon; I would hope they would put more troops in. They understand the region as well as anybody. And so we're working with a lot of folks, trying to get this force up and running. Look, like you -- I mean, you sound somewhat frustrated by diplomacy. Diplomacy can be a frustrating thing. I think the strategy can work, so long as the force is robust and the rules of engagement are clear.

Q Mr. President, as you have reminded us a number of times, it was Hezbollah that started the confrontation between Israel and Lebanon. But you were supportive of the holding off of any kind of cease-fire until Israel had a chance to clear out the Hezbollah weapons. By all accounts, they did not exactly succeed in doing that. And by all accounts, the Lebanese army, as it moved into southern Lebanon, had a wink-and-a-nod arrangement with Hezbollah not to disturb anything, to just leave things, as they are, a situation not unknown in the Middle East. Do you demand that the peacekeeping force, if and when it gets up and running, disarm Hezbollah?

THE PRESIDENT: The truth of the matter is, if 1559, that's the United Nations Security Council resolution number, had been fully implemented, we wouldn't be in the situation we were in to begin with. There will be another resolution coming out of the United Nations giving further instructions to the international force. First things first - get the rules of engagement clear, so that the force will be robust to help the Lebanese.

One thing is for certain -- is that when this force goes into help Lebanon, Hezbollah won't have that safe haven, or that kind of freedom to run in Lebanon's southern border. In other words, there's an opportunity to create a cushion, a security cushion. Hopefully, over time, Hezbollah will disarm. You can't have a democracy with an armed political party willing to bomb its neighbor without the consent of its government, or deciding, well, let's create enough chaos and discord by lobbing rockets.

And so the reality is, in order for Lebanon to succeed -- and we want Lebanon's democracy to succeed -- the process is going to -- the Lebanese government is eventually going to have to deal with Hezbollah.


PS I have only one problem with President Bush’s remarks. Please write to the President, thank him for the great moral and military support that he has given to Israel but please ask him why Israel, the attacked party, gets only loan guarantees with which Israel is to borrow more money with interest from the moneylenders of the world. In the meantime, Lebanon, whose government harbors Hezbollah and was complicit in the attacks against innocent Israeli civilians gets a total of more than $230 million in aid for humanitarian and reconstruction work? The President states that, “These funds will help the Lebanese people rebuild their homes and return to their towns and communities.” Plus the Lebanese are to get another $42 million package to help train and equip Lebanon's armed forces. (And guess who will shortly bear the brunt of this new equipment and training?)

But, what about the millions of dollars of destruction from hundreds of rockets deliberately sent into the population centers in Israel - Kiryat Shmona, Nahariyya, Haifa, Askelon, Siderot. Where is the additional, no strings attached, aid for the re-building of these communities or does Israeli damage not count?
Jsk

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August 22, 2006

Are you a proud ”Shvitz” Jew or a Cosmopolitan Jew?

By Marc Gellman
Special to Newsweek

Aug. 11, 2006 - Joe Lieberman did not lose the Democratic primary because of his support for the war in Iraq. He lost because of his lack of support from Jews. Joe got the support of black Baptists (except of course for Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who stood so conspicuously behind challenger Ned Lamont on election night). He got the support of Catholic Union guys. He got the support of all the Connecticut papers, and he got the support of most Jews, but not all, not an overwhelming number of Jews and that is why he lost. He lost because Barbra Streisand's highly publicized contribution to Lamont and because of the number of Jews who hated Bush and the war more than they loved Joe. That's why he lost, and I don't get it.

Please understand - this is not a political rant. Yes, I support the war and yes I support and admire President George W. Bush, but I understand and respect those who have come to another conclusion about how best to fight the war on terror. My disappointment is with my people. I simply do not understand why so many Jews bailed on Joe. I cannot understand why Joe's percentage of the Jewish vote was not in the high 90s instead of the 54-57 percent range (according to Lieberman's campaign). I have opinions on way too many things I don't know nearly enough about, but I know about Jews. I am a professional Jew, and yet if you asked me to explain why Jews did not vote for Joe the way blacks voted for Barack Obama or Catholics voted for John F. Kennedy I would not know what to tell you.

In truth, I am also bewildered about why Jews do not support President Bush more than the pathetic 22-26 percent (depending on which exit poll you look at) he received in 2004. Bush would win a landslide in Israel, and never once invited Yasir Arafat to the White House, (as per Bill Clinton where Arafat set a record for invitations!) but that is a bewilderment best left for another day.

What has frozen me is the lack of support for Joe by Jews. Joe voted the Democratic line 90 percent of the time. Twenty-nine other Democrats also voted for the war and none of them was targeted (yet). Joe is the most famous Jewish politician of all time (unless you count former New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia whose mother was Jewish). He is an observant Jew and obviously he was on the presidential ticket in 2000. He is modest and self effacing. He is moral and faithful. He is principled and intelligent ... and he is one of us! What more do you want of the guy?

So he supports the war. So what? The actual difference between intelligent people's positions on the war in Iraq is between those who know we must leave eventually but do not want to embolden our enemies and weaken our friends by telling them when we will leave, and those who also know we will leave eventually and also do not want to set an arbitrary timetable, but who really, really, really want everybody to know that we will be leaving. Those who want to bring all the troops home by next Monday, and those who want to "nuke the bastards" are both nuts. So among reasonable non-rabid people, the differences over Iraq are just not that big. And for this we dumped Joe? It just makes no sense to me and it ought to be a huge embarrassment to all card-carrying Jews whether they agreed with Joe or not.

There are and have always been only two kinds of Jews: tribal Jews and cosmopolitan Jews. Tribal Jews love anything Jewish. Cosmopolitan Jews love anything but Jewish. Tribal Jews are not trying to pass, assimilate or deny their tribal roots, their attachment to Israel and their love of other Jews no matter who they are. Cosmopolitan Jews are trying to pass and assimilate and become an undifferentiated member of the majority culture. The problem with tribal Jews is that they have trouble loving non-Jews. The problem with cosmopolitan Jews is that they have trouble loving other Jews. The reason for this split is you are Jewish by blood and not by belief. Judaism, which is the religion of Jews, has many wonderful beliefs but you can reject them all and still be Jewish.

I learned this distinction from the men of the Western Shvitz. One day a tribal Jewish friend took me to a shvitz on Western Avenue in Chicago. A shvitz (there are hardly any of them left) is a place where heterosexual Jewish men used to go to sit in a searingly hot steam room, get hit with soapy oak-leaf clusters called pleitzas, eat herring and black bread with red pop, play cards and tell jokes. I was really beaten down that day. I had been unsuccessfully trying to raise money for Israel from an assortment of cosmopolitan university Jews, each of whom had some phony but articulate reason why they would be intellectually compromised if they gave me a dollar for Israel.

The men of the Western Schvitz were street guys. Most had money but none of them had a Volvo or had read Kant or Hegel or listened to The Dead or smoked dope. I had done all those things but they still let me into the schvitz because I was, after all, Jewish and a rabbi. I told them of my problems raising money for Israel and they laughed at me the way wise guys laugh at someone who has no clue. When I returned home that night I felt something in my jacket. It was an envelope filled with cash for Israel and a note that read, "From the guys at the Western Schvitz, Stick with your tribe." Joe Lieberman lost because the guys I met at the Western Schvitz do not live in Connecticut.

My best friend is a priest, so I have to explain Jews to Christians all the time. Usually it is easy and fun. Because Joe lost, it's no longer easy and it's no longer fun.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 02:38 AM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2006

The French Connection to Hezbollah - A Revealing History

Why they’ve being momentarily helpful in Lebanon

(This article was written before France volunteered all of 200 troops to a 15,000 UN task force! Jsk)

BY OLIVIER GUITTA
The Weekly Standard, August 7, 2006

France has a long history in Lebanon, a country it administered under a League of Nations mandate from 1920 to 1943 and whose elite is bilingual in French and Arabic. France also has a history with Hezbollah, going back to the group’s beginnings more than twenty years ago. In order to appreciate why French president Jacques Chirac is so far hanging tough for the disarming of Hezbollah in the present crisis, it is useful to cast a backward glance. For those 241 U.S. servicemen blown up in their barracks by Hezbollah on October 23, 1983, were not the only Western soldiers to die in Beirut at the hand of the Islamists that day.

A good place to begin the story is 1978, when France contributed troops to UNIFIL, a United Nations force created to monitor the Lebanese-Israeli border. After a long series of Palestinian cross-border raids killing Israelis, the Israeli army had crossed into Lebanon and pushed the Palestine Liberation Org. north of the Litani River. UNIFIL’s job was to police the peace. The peace didn’t last; In 1982, after another Israeli incursion, (read rather ‘attempts to stop Yasser Arafat’s attacks into Northern Israel from his Southern Lebanon mini-State’ - Jsk) some 800 French troops joined an equal number of U.S. Marines and 400 Italian troops to supervise the evacuation of the PLO from Lebanon and serve, once again, as peacekeepers, the same year, Hezbollah was born.

This new Shiite force created and funded by Iran lost no time in targeting the French in Lebanon. First came a rocket attack on soldiers in April 1983; then in August, the hijacking of an Air France jet in Tehran. The hijackers, who belonged to a closely allied pro-Iranian terrorist group, Islamic Amal, demanded France’s withdrawal from Lebanon, an end to French military aid to Iraq (then at war with Iran), and the liberation of Lebanese prisoners from French jails.

The mastermind of this operation was Hussein Moussaoui, who, for his next trick, attacked the U.S. and French barracks in Beirut, killing not only those 241 U.S. Marines but also 58 French soldiers. Two weeks later, the DGSE (the French equivalent to the CIA) learned that the Iranian embassy in Beirut had ordered the murder of Gilles Vidal, number two at the French embassy. The DGSE attempted a preemptive strike. They packed 500 kilos of explosives in a French military jeep marked with the Red Cross emblem and parked it next to the Iranian embassy. The trigger failed, so the French agents tried to ignite the explosives with bazooka shots, but this also failed. The Iranians discovered the jeep and, with it, proof of French responsibility.

The next day, Tehran pointed the finger at France. An influential member of the Iranian parliament, Hojatoleslam Mohammed Ali Mohavedi Kermani, addressing that body, taunted: “The French people are so scared that they could not find anyone ready to martyr himself with their rigged Jeep operation against the Iranian embassy in Beirut. Only the agents of Hezbollah are capable of doing such things.”

It was war. In retaliation for the barracks attack, France bombed the Islamic Amal and Hezbollah camp in Baalbek. The success of this operation is still debated. While some insist no terrorists were killed, a secret report to President François Mitterrand (subsequently made public) listed more than 20 Lebanese Shiite militants dead (39 according to Lebanese forces), along with 12 Iranian “advisers.”

The Ayatollah Khomeini denounced France as a “terrorist state.” Iran’s revenge was not slow in coming. Hezbollah bombed the French embassy in Kuwait on December 12, and then killed ten French soldiers in Lebanon. On December 21, after a bloody truck bomb attack on a French position, the Islamic Jihad (another name for Hezbollah) claimed responsibility and gave France ten days to leave Lebanon or suffer reprisals. On the 23rd, Paris expelled six Iranian “diplomats” suspected of terrorist ties. And on December 31, Islamic Jihad made good on its threat by bombing simultaneously the Marseilles train station and the high speed Paris Marseilles train, killing four.

In 1984, to Hezbollah’s great satisfaction, French troops left Lebanon for good. Nevertheless, Iran again ordered Hezbollah to target France, mostly because of French support for Saddam Hussein. Between March 1985 and January 1987, Hezbollah took 16 French citizens hostage in Lebanon, most of them journalists and diplomats. Some remained in captivity for as long as three years, and one was murdered.

Boasting of Iran’s sponsorship of these activities, Sheikh Fadlallah, “spiritual” leader of Hezbollah, was quoted in the French daily Liberation as saying: “France is standing in front of a locked vault. There are three keys. The smallest is the Lebanese one. So even if I were holding your countrymen, I could not free them by myself. My little key is not enough. The Syrian key is larger. But it is not enough, either. You need to get the third key, that of Iran.”

In addition to kidnappings, Iran, working through Hezbollah orchestrated a terror campaign in the streets of France between December 1985 and September 1986 that killed 13 and injured hundreds Alain Marsaud, head of the French counterterrorism unit, Summed up the purpose of the campaign this way: “Iran, the sponsor of the attacks, used a Lebanon based Hezbollah network plus a Maghrebj logistics cell to convince France to change its foreign policy.”

In fact, the Tunisian mastermind of the 1986 attacks, Fouad Ali Saleh, was close to many of Hezbollah’s top leaders. He had spent three years Studying in Qom, Iran, under Ayatollah Khomeini. Upon his arrest, Saleh stated: “Islam’s stronghold is Iran. Your country, helping Iraq fight Iran, is an enemy...Our main goal is to bring France back to reason by violent actions.”
The DST, the French equivalent of the FBI, noted in its final report to Prime Minister Chirac: “Nothing could have been decided without the blessing of either Iranian parliament president Rafsanjani or Ayatolla Montazeri.”

The 1990s were comparatively uneventful, but in February 2000, left-wing Prime Minister Lionel Jospin described Hezbollah as a “terrorist” group during a press conference in Israel. The French foreign minister, Hubert Védrine, traveling with Jospin, whispered to him: “You went a little too far there!” Whereupon President Chirac angrily reminded Jospin that the president shapes France’s foreign policy, not the prime minister. Obviously, Chirac, remembering the bombings and kidnappings of the 1980s did not want to provoke Hezbollah Which is why, despite Hezbollah’s blood-soaked pedigree, Chirac invited Hassan Nasrallah, the group’s secretary general, to attend the Francophone Summit in Beirut in October 2002.

But on December 17, 2003, Chirac’s semi-good relationship with Hezbollah came crashing down. By supporting the ban on the hijab, the headscarf worn by some Muslim women—in France’s public schools, Chirac incurred the wrath of Sheikh Fadlallah. In a letter to Chirac, Fadlallah threatened “likely complications” if the ban were passed, which it was in 2004.

In recent years, there has been some equivocation in French policy towards Hezbollah. Thus, in May 2004, the French ambassador to the United States, Jean-David Levitte, called Hezbollah mostly a “social” organization. Furthermore, Levitte argued that there was no reason to put the group on the European Union’s terrorist list. Nevertheless, in August 2004, France and the United States cosponsored U.N. Resolution 1559 calling for the removal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the disarming of militias including Hezbollah, although the French initially hedged on the second point, stressing that Hezbollah could be disarmed only by the Lebanese authorities.

And at home, France took some unilateral actions against Hezbollah. Notably, in December 2004, France banned Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s virulently anti-Semitic and propagandistic television channel, though it did so only under tremendous pressure from outraged French politicians and members of the public. The hate speech common on Al-Manar could no longer be ignored in light of the tough French laws on anti-Semitism. The real tipping point in French policy, though, was the murder on February 14, 2005, of Rafik Hariri, former prime minister of Lebanon and a close friend of Jacques Chirac.

France reacted by adopting a tougher stand towards Hezbollah. On August 29, Chirac, addressing French ambassadors, stated that every aspect of Resolution 1559 must be enforced, and Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy reiterated this a few days later in an interview with the newspaper Asharq Al Awsat. Minister of European Affairs Catherine Colonna went so far as to condemn Hezbollah’s “illegal and violent actions” against Israel.

Olivier Guitta is a foreign affairs and counterterrorism consultant in Washington.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 09:36 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2006

Pres. GW Bush’s Secretary of State expounds upon the events of Lebanon

No Double Entendre, No Moral Equivalency, No BS

The full transcript of an interview between USA Today’s Susan Page and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:
www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-08-16-rice-transcript_x.htm

Q: Thank you for this time.
SECRETARY RICE: Sure.
QUESTION: And congratulations also on the U.N. resolution.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's a good first step, but it is just a first step
and we have to recognize that.

QUESTION: There was, of course, a lot of skepticism that you would get to
that point.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, this was a very, very difficult crisis and it was
difficult for a number of reasons. Obviously, it started when Hezbollah
attacked across an internationally recognized line, abducted soldiers,
started shelling* Israel and in doing so, I think demonstrated that they had
become a state within a state to a degree that perhaps was not even
recognized more broadly. And so that was one factor that you were dealing
with. And it was made exceedingly difficult by the fact that Hezbollah uses
villages and human shields to carry out military activities. I thought one
of the remarkable things about the resolution is that it recognized that, in
fact, Hezbollah was the trigger for this war and therefore, brought terrible
devastation and destruction on the Lebanese population. You also had a
circumstance in which Israeli civilians were being targeted every day by
hundreds of rockets. And you had a circumstance in which you had a Lebanese
Government that was clearly not fully in control of its country, but where
the answer to the crisis was to have a firm commitment to put the Lebanese
Government in full control of its country.
And so all of those factors, the toll on civilians, the fact that you had a
Hezbollah operating in the way that they did, a Lebanese Government that
needed to be strengthened and empowered to take control of its country meant
that you couldn't resolve it in the kind of way that it was resolved in '96
when Syria and Israel, with U.S. help, over the heads of the Lebanese
Government, actually signed the ceasefire. So it took longer. We were in
very close coordination with the French, who have extremely strong interests
and history in Lebanon and have been good partners for us in Lebanon going
all the way back to Resolution 1559. And so that piece of it had to be
managed.
Nick Burns said - I felt - when he said it, I felt exactly that way, that we
would think we had it all pieced together, we would go home, and it's like
Groundhog Day; the next day you would come in and it had come apart again.
But I think in the final analysis, all the parties realized that if we could
get to a solution that ended the violence, that had a cessation of violence,
but left the conditions in place so that you didn't go back to the status
quo ante and that you dealt with the root cause, which was the state within
a state, that that was the best outcome.

QUESTION: Now, one of the keys to this is the international force of 15,000.
What is your sense of the timetable for that force being in place?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, just one final point about the ...
QUESTION: Yes.
SECRETARY RICE: The other complicating factor, of course, was you had a big
external power in Iran, which - Iran, through Syria, arming the Hezbollah.
So that's another factor that made things complicated, but that said, we've
got the cessation and now we have to try to support it and the international
force is perhaps the most important element. It needs to accompany the
Lebanese armed forces, which are willing, for the first time in decades, to
go south, but need help with their capabilities. I've been talking to Kofi
Annan. We've had people working with the U.N. Peacekeeping Office. We have
been talking to potential troop contributors. I talked to the French Foreign
Minister this morning. This force needs to come into being. It needs to be
active on the basis of its quite robust mandate, which is a really very
robust mandate, and then I think it can do the job.

QUESTION: When you talk about a really robust mandate, what does that mean?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, it really means, first of all, that it's a
sizeable enough force. The UNIFIL that is currently there is about 2,000
people and it's just not capable and it has no - virtually no Lebanese
forces with it, so now you would have roughly 15,000 Lebanese forces,
another 15,000 U.N. forces, that's 30,000 forces. That's a substantial
force.
Secondly, it has to have the ability to defend itself, because you don't
want a circumstance where it's fired upon or somebody challenges it and it
doesn't have the right to defend itself. That's in the mandate. It also has
to have the ability to defend its mandate, meaning that if by force of arms,
some group tries to interfere with the mandate, which is to keep the south
clear of arms and armed groups, that it has the right to respond to that
kind of aggression. It's backed up by an international arms embargo for the
first time, which means that those states that now supply Hezbollah are in
violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution and that should help the
forces as well. And then ultimately, it's going to have to help the Lebanese
at various entry points to help enforce that embargo.

QUESTION: So would the U.N. forces be expected to - allowed to and expected
to confront - if there are Hezbollah forces, to confront them and to
forcibly disarm Hezbollah forces that were in the south?
SECRETARY RICE: Susan, I don't think there is an expectation that this force
is going to physically disarm Hezbollah. I think it's a little bit of a
misreading of how you disarm a militia. You have to have a plan, first of
all, for the disarmament of a militia, and then the hope is that some people
lay down their arms voluntarily. You have *kentulminaries* where heavy arms
are, but the disarmament of militias is essentially a political agreement
and the Lebanese Government has said that it intends to live up to its
obligations under Resolution 1559 and something called the Taif Accord,
which was signed in 1989 in Saudi Arabia - it shows you how long we've been
at this - that they will not have any groups in Lebanon carrying arms that
are not a part of the central security forces of Lebanon.

So the political agreement is in place. Now the plan for disarmament is to
be worked out. Kofi Annan is to present a plan. This will have to be worked
with the Lebanese Government, it'll have to be worked with the Lebanese
armed forces, and I'm sure to the degree that support is needed for that,
the international forces can help. But even if you look at how we disarmed -
how the Afghans disarmed militias in Afghanistan, it was not by the quite
substantial coalition forces going up and physically disarming Afghan
militias. So I think there's a little bit of a - when people say, "Are they
going to disarm Hezbollah," that's not actually how militias disarm. They're
disarmed by a plan under political agreement and then support can be given
to the Lebanese in doing that.

QUESTION: So disarming Hezbollah involves a political agreement that the
Lebanese Government has got to be responsible for?
SECRETARY RICE: And that the Lebanese Government has already undertaken an obligation to do that. Now we will see whether Hezbollah, which is - after
all, has ministers in the Lebanese Government, is prepared to live up to
those international obligations. We will see who is for peace and who isn't.
We will see whether Hezbollah has taken the lesson that everyone in the
international community understands, that you can't have one foot in
politics and one foot in terror.
But this time, we'll make it very clear; if there is resistance to the
obligations that the Lebanese Government has undertaken, then there will be
a problem and Hezbollah will have to face the international community and
Hezbollah supporters will have the face the international community.

QUESTION: Meaning Iran and Syria?
SECRETARY RICE: Meaning Iran and Syria.
QUESTION: But if - say Hezbollah decides it does not choose to live up to
this agreement and does not choose to disarm. What happens then?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't want to speculate because I think so much
depends on conditions, but let's look at it this way. First of all, the
Hezbollah, I think, was hurt by the military action that has been taken
against it. It does not have the positions in the south that it once had. It
doesn't have the positions along the border. It's not going to be on the
border with Israel. Those will be international forces and the Lebanese
armed forces.
It will - can it be kept from being re-supplied. Yes, if the international
embargo is carried out and carried out with vigor, they can be prevented
from rearming. So already, this organization will be weaker because its
dominant position in the south, which allowed it to carry out this attack, a
position that they've built up essentially since the Israelis withdrew in
2000, they have been dislodged from that. So part of the answer to how to
deal with Hezbollah is not just the matter of arms, although it's important,
but also keeping them out of those strategic positions in the south.
And then I think there will be a lot of pressure on Hezbollah to make a
choice and if, in fact, they make the wrong choice, one would have to assume
that there will be others who are willing to call Hezbollah what we are
willing to call it, which is a terrorist organization. Europe does not, for
instance, currently list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. I would
think that a refusal to live up to obligations that were undertaken by the
Lebanese Government, clearly putting Hezbollah outside of the Lebanese
Government consensus might trigger, for instance, something like that.

QUESTION: So it would isolate Hezbollah in the world?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, in ways that - we consider them a terrorist
organization now, but Hezbollah is a little different than Hamas. Hamas is
listed as a terrorist organization by the Europeans; Hezbollah is not. I
would think that this would be another further isolation for Hezbollah.
QUESTION: Is that complicated by the fact that Hezbollah is now a party of
the - part of the Lebanese Government has two ministers? I mean, is it hard
to isolate a movement that is, in fact, part of the democratic government
that we support?
SECRETARY RICE: Ironically, I think it simplifies the matter, because as
members of the government, those ministers have an obligation to the
government. And the government has an obligation to the international
community. And so in that sense, for Hezbollah to stand outside of the
consensus of the Lebanese Government, I think it's actually more difficult,
not harder - not easier.

QUESTION: Do you think that the Lebanese Government has been strengthened or weakened by this month-long conflict?
SECRETARY RICE: I have no doubt it's been strengthened, I think, for a
couple of reasons. First of all the Foreign - the Prime Minister, Prime
Minister Siniora led his government and his people through this
extraordinarily trying time with dignity, with strength. I was in Rome when
he spoke to the assembled there. It was passionate, but it was also concrete
and here are the things that we need to do.
And I hear a lot about how Nasrallah has emerged from this, but Nasrallah is
going to have to face what has become of those populations in the south and
the great devastation that Hezbollah brought on. Prime Minister Siniora is
someone who, with great dignity and great aplomb, has led his people out of
that terrible situation, not of his own making, to, I think, an
international standing that is quite remarkable.

QUESTION: Now, it's clear that Hezbollah has taken a military hit, had its
military resources degraded through this past month. But there is a lot of
commentary in the region and even here in the United States that it's been
politically enhanced, enhanced in Lebanon and across the Arab world. And I
wonder if you think that's true, if its reputation has, in fact, been
burnished in some ways.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think we need to let the dust settle, literally, and
then the question will be asked of Hezbollah, exactly what did they achieve?
They achieved the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese. They
achieved the destruction of Lebanese infrastructure and housing and
neighborhoods. They achieved the - what has not been achieved before, the
movement of the Lebanese army into the south to displace them with an
international force that this time, will be robust enough to defend its
mandate. That's what they achieved.
Now perhaps that stands as a great achievement for Hezbollah. I would submit
it doesn't. What it says is that because they launched this war, unprovoked,
clearly without the authority of the Lebanese Government, they are - have
been branded by this international - by the international community, by a
15-0 vote of the Security Council as the aggressors. I think that is unheard
of in the history of the Middle East and I - the Middle East conflict and I
would suggest that when the dust clears, Hezbollah has a lot to answer for.

QUESTION: You know, you may well be right that over the long term, there
will be a feeling that Hezbollah caused this
terrible situation, but do you think that over the short term, there has
been some political benefits for Hezbollah?
SECRETARY RICE: I can't tell, but if there have, I think they'll be very
short-lived, because Lebanon needs to now - to rebuild and to rebuild as a
respected democratic state that has control of its territory, where it's the
Lebanese army that defends the Lebanese people and that defends the Lebanese
people in a way that does not endanger them or their neighborhood. And I
think that when everyone looks around, except for Hezbollah's direct
supporters like Syria and Iran, the Arab world, the neighborhood will look
at Hezbollah and say, "How could extremists cause this kind of devastation?"
In fact, the Saudi Government and the Egyptian Government said that early
on. Now it's true, as the war went on, there was more and more emotion. As
civilian casualties mounted, it was more and more difficult. But there's a
certain reality on the ground and it's now the obligation of the
international community to carry through on the real promises, really, that
were made now to Lebanon and to Israel about what the situation on the
ground is going to be after this conflict is over. And that has to do with
the international force and the movement of the Lebanese army south.

QUESTION: There was an AP report this afternoon that the first announcements
of commitments for this international force would be Thursday. Is that true?
SECRETARY RICE: I'm not - I don't know that it will be Thursday. I think
it's going to be soon, because I know that people are working very, very
hard. Kofi Annan is working really hard on this and I think the
international community will take on its responsibilities. I do.

QUESTION: Do you think there are already, implicitly or explicitly,
commitments for the 15,000 troops or some portion of them?
SECRETARY RICE: I think there are clearly countries that have expressed an
interest in participating. And I think that you're talking about thousands
of troops. I don't know if we're at 15,000 yet, but there are certainly a
lot of expressions of commitments.

QUESTION: So you feel confident that in the short term, by the end of the
week or whenever, we'll have an announcement of thousands of troops that are
being committed?
SECRETARY RICE: I think you will start to have contributor nations over the
next - I can't say the end of the week, but over the next period of time,
you will start to have contributor nations come forward. Now, of course, it
has to be melded into a force and I think people will want to look carefully
at the mandate. They'll want to have military discussions. They'll want to
have discussions about how it will deploy. Those are - that's only fair for
governments that must put their forces now into a difficult situation. But I
would liked to have had the force in being immediately, but it is certainly
coming along. And I should also mention that people are working also to try
to strengthen the Lebanese forces because, of course, they will be an
important part of this too.

QUESTION: Kofi Annan had said that the French commander in the region had
said it might take a year to get fully up to 15,000. Too long?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, too long.
QUESTION: Kofi Annan said yesterday, I think, weeks or months. Is that more
of the timetable you see?
SECRETARY RICE: I don't know what prompted the comment about a year, and it may have been in some other context, but the mandate for UNIFIL was 8,000 -
7,000 originally. It just had dwindled to 2,000. It now has a much more
extensive mandate, which means it's going to need different kinds of
equipment and different kinds of mobility and so forth. So that will take a
little bit longer to put together. But when I speak to people and I thought
certainly Kofi Annan's comments were more in line, weeks or -

QUESTION: Weeks or months.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes.
QUESTION: So it might take some months?
SECRETARY RICE: I think you'll start to see real movement in weeks.
QUESTION: Would you see partial deployment initially before you ...
SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's going to have to be partial because you'd never
deploy a force all at once.
QUESTION: Right, so maybe partial deployment within weeks, you think?
SECRETARY RICE: I can't answer. I mean that I have to leave that to the people
who are trying to plan the force.
QUESTION: Yeah, I'm sure that's quite a challenge, that operation.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, it is.
QUESTION: Are you worried about this - of the weeks or maybe slightly longer
than that before there is a robust UN force on the ground? Are you worried
about what might happen in the interim?
SECRETARY RICE: Sure. This is a fragile situation. I think everybody
understands that. And it's going to take the maximum coordination - for
instance, displaced people trying to go home; that will take coordination.
The humanitarian situation, which we're very concerned about, making sure
now that people can take advantage of the abatement of the violence to get
humanitarian shipments in, that should help to prevent any situation of
panic or - which might set off something. But that's the kind of thing you
have to worry about.
No, I think one thing we were very concerned about as time was going on was
the humanitarian situation was worsening. Fuel supplies were getting low.
There were areas that couldn't be reached. And now, at least you can deal
with those kinds of situations. I hope there will be a fairly early response
to being able to secure ports and perhaps the airport so that the arms
embargo can be held up, but so that also, you can get movement at ports and
at the airport, which would be a major breakthrough.
So there's a lot of work to do in this period of time. But yes, it's a
fragile situation. And I have to repeat; I don't think anybody expects that
there won't be some skirmishes. There will be, because you have opposing
forces in close proximity. The Israelis have the right to defend their
forces. And we expect, though, that the kind of military action that has
been so hard on civilians, that is, rockets into Israel, attacks on civilian
populations, aerial attacks and the like will hopefully cease.

QUESTION: When this started a month ago, there was some sense that both
Israel and the United States felt that this could be an opportunity. I think
the President used exactly that word, an opportunity to take care of
something that had been a military threat for some time. And I wonder if
it's taken longer and cost more than the U.S. thought when this first began.
SECRETARY RICE: I don't know how to gauge - I don't remember having a sense
that this should take a certain amount of time. What I remember at the G8,
because it broke out just around the time of the G8, is when we put together
the document that became - really, the G8 document became a kind of
blueprint for how to move forward, the concern was that Hezbollah not be
able to be left in the position that allowed it to do this in the first
place. And that was, from the very beginning, the big concern.
We have wanted to see an end to this violence as soon as possible. The
problem was that you needed to have an end to it that was going to create
the kind of conditions that we created in the U.N. Security Council
resolution. And so the notion that you would try to not return to the status
quo ante, I think, was not a concern - not an issue of - you know, how much
damage could the Israelis do. I've read those stories; how much damage could
the - that wasn't the issue. The issue was, when were you in a position to
have a fundamentally different situation in the south. And that took some
time because as the military operations were going on, what really became
clear to me was that this wasn't just a cessation of hostilities that was
being negotiated, it was really that people were trying to negotiate the
terms on - I'll call it war termination; who - what would the conditions in
the south look like after this was over, and that's what really took the
time.
When I was in the region two weeks ago, a lot of these elements were already
emerging then, but the Lebanese Government had not been able to get the
decision to move the LAF to the south, for instance. The Israelis were not
yet ready to think about an enhanced UNIFIL rather than a completely new
security force. So it took some time to go through those elements to get to
this point.

QUESTION: On the UNIFIL force, do you feel a kind of personal obligation to
make sure that we're - to make sure it's fully enlisted with the kind of
troops that you want to have so that you'd be doing - if there needs to be
more recruiting done, for instance, that you would be doing that?
SECRETARY RICE: I absolutely will do everything I can to support Kofi
Annan's efforts to raise this force. We all undertook an obligation when we
raised our hands on Friday night. We all undertook an obligation to, first,
ask the parties or first, get the parties to agree to a cessation of
hostilities, but also to try and create conditions in which this wouldn't
happen again. And so yeah, it's a personal obligation in that sense, and
it's an obligation on behalf of the United States of America. And so of
course, I'll do everything I can.

QUESTION: Including specific calls to other nations to try to ...-
SECRETARY RICE: Right, whatever is needed, yeah.
QUESTION: Well, thank you very much for your time.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 01:01 AM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2006

Engaging Syria?

By David Schenker

The Weekly Standard, August 14, 2006

Last week, even before the carnage in Qana, a parade of pundits, lawmakers, and former policymakers started calling for Washington to reengage in a dialogue with Damascus. President Carter, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, among others, argued that the Bush administration should talk with Syria about reining in Hezbollah, perhaps with an eye to breaking the Damascus-Tehran axis.

This policy prescription is ill advised and poorly timed. Moreover, the strategy was tried and failed during President Bush’s first administration. Washington engaged Syria in a robust fashion from 2001 through the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005, sending no less than five senior-level U.S. delegations to cajole Bashar Assad to change his unhelpful behavior.

Discussions during this period focused on Iraq—in particular on Syria’s role in destabilizing the newly liberated country—but also touched on Syrian interference in Lebanon, provision of safe haven to Palestinian terrorist groups, and ongoing support for Hezbollah. It’s no secret that the administration was divided over the utility of this engagement, but, nevertheless, the effort was made in good faith. On a broad range of U.S. policy concerns articulated during these meetings,

Syria was without exception unresponsive. And this was when things were going relatively well for the United States in the region. Why then does anyone believe that Syria will be responsive now, when U.S. leverage is diminished by the deterioration of conditions in Iraq and by Iran’s seemingly effortless foray into the nuclear club?

Assad is clearly feeling emboldened. Inconclusive U.N. reporting on the Hariri assassination has given him the impression that Syria has dodged the bullet of international sanctions for the killing. The Syrian reform movement has been duly repressed, Syria’s economy is performing fairly well, and now, with Syrian assistance, Lebanon is once again on the verge of ruin.

Given this state of affairs, it seems naive to expect that Washington will be able to convince Assad that a change of policy would really be in his regime’s best interest. In fact, from where Assad sits, things could hardly be better. The Assads have controlled Syria for some 35 years and are doing quite well, thank you. Why mess with success?

The notion that the Bush administration will somehow be able to tempt Syria away from its Iranian patron and Hezbollah is a long shot at best. The potential costs of such a gambit, however, could be steep. Granting Damascus a reprieve from its well-deserved international isolation would undermine what remains of U.S. credibility with Syrian reformers and Lebanese democrats. Reengagement would also practically invite a Syrian return to Lebanon.

Even more problematic, as Assad has put it, “Syria is not a charity,” and as such we can expect that Damascus would extract a high price for even temporary compliance with U.S. demands. The price is not hard to envision. At a minimum, the Syrians would need the U.N. to bring the Hariri assassination investigation to a swift conclusion without implicating the Assad regime. Assad would also no doubt want a free pass from Washington for his ongoing repression of the Syrian people, and an end to the freedom agenda as it relates to Syria.

In any event, Syria’s behavior—its bellicose statements about military conflict with Israel, its playing host only last week to meetings with Iran, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hamas, and its attempts to rearm Hezbollah—do not suggest that Assad is looking for a deal.

Should Syria make an abrupt about-face in its unhelpful policies on Hezbollah, Iraq, and the Palestinian terrorist organizations—by, for instance, expelling Iraqi insurgents and Hamas leaders—Washington might want to consider robust engagement. But as long as Syria demonstrates itself to be an active part of the Hezbollah problem, it would be foolish to look toward Syria as part of the solution.

David Schenker is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 2002 to 2006, he was the Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestinian affairs adviser in the office of the secretary of defense.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 12:32 AM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2006

Accidental Prime Minister Olmert Removal

By Jerome S. Kaufman

Despite the fact that the very territories that Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert have surrendered to the Arabs have become bastions of terrorism dedicated successfully to killing Jews and destroying the State of Israel, Ehud Olmert continues, as his perverse self-destructive goal, the further withdrawal from Israeli territory in Judea and Samaria (erroneously called West Bank).

The International Jerusalem Post of August 3, 2006 reported that Olmert had the gall to inform the evacuees of Nitzan, Gaza, who had been physically forced out of their community, their homes, places of employment, schools, synagogues, and placed on the public dole that: “More settlements of Judea and Samaria will be evacuated” and that the “PM was convinced that we made the right decision to carry out the disengagement plan, and it is better for Israel that you are not living in the Gaza Strip at this time.”

What has been the result of Olmert’s Gaza withdrawal?

The Washington Times June 26 reported that since Ehud Olmert withdrew from Gaza last Summer, more than 500 rockets (now hundreds more) have been fired at Israeli civilian targets, from Palestinian Arab controlled Gaza, hitting schools, kindergartens, farms, private homes and factories. In Siderot, an Israeli town several miles from the Gaza border, an estimated 1/3 of the children now suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. On July 4, 2006 two longer-range Qassam rockets fired from Gaza, traveled at least 7.4 miles (12 kilometers) from northern Gaza to hit the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon, population 120,000!

But, the withdrawal from Gaza is just the latest mistake. What about the withdrawal by Ehud Barak from the Security Zone in Lebanon and the abandonment of Israel’s ally, the Southern Lebanese Army. No sooner had this middle of the night, tail between the legs, IDF withdrawal been executed than Hezbollah terrorist forces quickly filled the vacuum right up to the Israeli border and gleefully increased their attacks on the retreating “Zionist entity.” The IDF now has been forced to re-take much of this same area to protect the Northern Israeli communities. The Barak withdrawal of May 25,1990, without doubt, is the immediate cause of the 148 deaths that have occurred to date in the present Olmert Lebanese fiasco.

Despite the obvious disaster of previous land withdrawals Olmert continues to promote a gigantic lie using the age-old bug bear that Israelis had to withdraw from Judea and Samaria because of demographics arguing that Jews are fast becoming a minority between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. He has chosen to ignore Israel’s real time history of growth proving these projections completely false. Were there not just 600,000 Jews in the newly re-born state of Israel in 1948 and now 56 years later we number near 6 million! What happened to the doomsday projected demographics?

Evidently Olmert has not read or has chosen to ignore the recent study by Bennett Zimmerman, Roberta Seid, and Michael L. Wise, Arab Population in the West Bank and Gaza: The Million Person Gap, recently published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Israel. The study concludes that: “Demographers have miscalculated consistently by concentrating on past patterns in the Arab population while they were blind sighted to evidence of a slowdown in the Arab sector and the demographic revolution already being measured among Jews.

Olmert continues with the epitome of distorted logic by concluding that since the Palestinian Arabs have elected Hamas, dedicated without equivocation to Israel’s destruction, Israel has no peace partner and will have to take unilateral measures and withdraw to their own permanent established borders and thus avoid an ongoing continuous conflict with the Arabs! Somehow it never entered the mind of Olmert that Hamas and Fatah would simply quickly fill this newly donated territory and use it as new and closer base of terrorism to further their oft-repeated goal of destroying the State of Israel.

Finally, Olmert’s latest political disaster - he just signed a “peace resolution” with Hezbollah and Lebanon described by Caroline Glick and International legal scholar Prof. Anne Bayefsky as an unmitigated disaster. The resolution presents Hezbollah with a clear diplomatic victory by placing their erroneous claim of Lebanese sovereignty over the Sheba Farms, or Mount Dov - a vast area on the Golan Heights that separates the Syrian Golan from the Upper Galilee and is disputed between Israel and Syria - on the negotiating table. And how do you think Ehud Olmert will respond to pressure demanding the withdrawal from more territory essential to Israel’s defense of the Golan, the Galilee and all of Northern Israel?

What now? Are the Members of the Knesset finally willing to place the survival of the country before the possession of their own cushy seats and political perks in the Knesset? Have they the morality to disband the worst government that Israel has ever had, throw Olmert out, disband the Knesset, call for new elections and for the new government so desperately needed?

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2006

Rabbi Meir Kahane explains those on the Left - April 7, 1989

The ‘Guilt’ Of Jews Threatens Israel
Rabbi Meir Kahane, New York Times, April 7, 1989

(Although I have not belonged to political parties, I can recognize logical conclusions. Sometimes even those who are held in contempt by the majority have remarkable insight and have forecast events thought improbable by this vast majority. I have not read the works of Rabbi Meir Kahane1 but ever so often; I have received e-mails quoting his predictions. Where they meet the test of common sense and logic, I do not dismiss them because others think they must be wrong coming from a source they do not admire. The following e-mail I received is a truth that I have long recognized. I concur with the statement on its merits.

The following article by Rabbi Meir Kahane, which was printed in the New York Times, on Friday, April 7, 1989, could have been written today.)
Emanuel A. Winston, The Jewish Press August 2006

The ‘Guilt’ Of Jews Threatens Israel
By Rabbi Meir Kahane, Jerusalem

No one, no people, has so sadly honed guilt to a finer art than we Jews. There are, invariably, those liberal Jews who instinctively feel guilty about everything - whether they had anything to do with what’s wrong or not. It is a fascinating form of pathology, worthy of a dissertation in abnormal psychology and suggesting the need for some form of national couch. And, of course, it is this corrosive guilt that lies at the heart of the ideological disintegration of Israel today, a process that threatens the very existence of the Jewish state.

“We are occupiers and conquerors; we oppress innocent people; our national soul is being corroded; we are, above all, guilty!” Lo, the poor Arab of the West Bank and other “occupied territories,” that simple innocent, ground under the heels of the Jewish occupation army. Lo, the poor territories of 1967, which have become the “major obstacle to peace” because of Israeli intransigence. Lo, the racism and latent fascism that is at the very heart of a Zionism that favors Jews in a thing called a Jewish state.

What in the world can possess Jews in Israel to forget the massacres of Jews by Arabs in 1920, 1921, and 1929? And why, in their intellectual minds, did they occur? Could the murder of 67 Jews on one day in Hebron 60 years ago (1929) have been caused by Arab anger over the “occupation?" And when more than 500 Jews were massacred in Arab pogroms stretching from 1936 to 1938, was it Israeli refusal to return the lands of 1967 that was at the heart of the problem?

And when the Arabs turned down the United Nations Partition Plan of 1947 — which would have set up a tiny, grotesque Jewish state and an Arab one that might have been called Palestine: Was the Six-Day War of 1967 the root of their decision to try to wipe out the then-600,000 Jews in the land?

What causes Jewish liberals to take the Arab position on every issue? What causes them to babble about “the occupied lands” of 1967? Do they not know that the Arabs see the entire area of 1947 and all the Jewish cities and towns within the pre-1967 state as “occupied” also? Do they not realize that to the Arab, Tel Aviv and Haifa, the golf course at Caesarea and all the kibbutzim of the enlightened left are also occupied?

Of course, the humanists and moralists of Israel know that, and that is precisely the problem. Deep in their hearts and minds, the Jews on the left and of liberal bent secretly fear that the Arab is right, that the Jew really has no right to come to a “Palestine” that had a majority of Arabs and make it into a Jewish state. The terrible ghosts of Jewish guilt gnaw away at the tortured Jewish liberal soul with the thought that perhaps the Jews are indeed
“occupiers” and colonialists.

This Jewish secular liberal agonizes with himself daily because, along with his guilt, he lacks the courage to give up his kibbutz to the oppressed Arab. He wallows in a corrosive guilt that rapidly becomes self-hatred. And so he must take the Arab position on every issue in the pathetic hope of winning from the Arab a crumb of forgiveness. He must fight for their right to get part of the “stolen” land so he can keep his part of the “theft.” What a pathetic creature, and how dangerous he is. He seeks to commit national suicide and would take all of us with him.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2006

A Litany of Phony Arab Massacres and Fabricated Propaganda Pictures

By Bernice Lipkin

Think-Israel July/August 2006

Keep for your personal file and reference

Click: www.israel-commentary.org


Please copy and paste the following address on to your search engine to see complete article and pictures.


http://www.think-israel.org/lipkin.qana.html

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 01:07 AM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2006

Just a note on one of my many American State Dept. favorites - Madeleine Albright

William Krystol, The Weekly Standard, July 17, 2006

Is there a Korean word for “chutzpah”? That was our reaction last Tuesday listening to Madeleine Albright on CNN. Speaking by phone to Larry King just hours after North Korea began test-firing missiles, the former secretary of state told us to blame—you guessed it—George W. Bush.

“Frankly, Larry, I think the problem here is -that we are watching the failure of five years’ worth of American diplomacy,” Albright said. “I’m very worried about it, and I hope very much that we do have a review of our North Korean policy.”

THE Weekly Standard SCRAPBOOK is not sure what sort of “diplomacy” Madame Secretary has in mind. Maybe she thinks Condi Rice should serenade the North Korean foreign minister with spoofs of show tunes. Or maybe she thinks her successor should attend one of those Macy’s Day Parade-type propaganda routines in the streets of Pyongyang. She could sit next to Kim Jong II, and later toast the Dear Leader over a bottle of champagne.

We’re joking, of course. But we thought it worth recalling two of the seminal moments in Albright’s own North Korean diplomacy. In July 2000, at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Bangkok, Albright said of her North Korean counterpart: “just had my first handshake, with Foreign Minister Paek. Used to think he was a rogue, but here at ARF, he’s so in vogue.”

To be fair, her remark was part of a silly ritual in which diplomats make clowns of themselves by performing song-and-dance skits on ARF’s final night. Less funny was her trip to Pyongyang the following October, which earned Albright a scathing rebuke from the Washington Post editorial page:

“Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she found “amazing” the pageant she watched in Pyongyang alongside North Korean leader Kim Jong II. We found it amazing, too, but not for the same reason. We were amazed that the secretary of state would allow herself to be photographed, smiling, as 100,000 essentially enslaved laborers performed for her and one of the world’s most repressive dictators. Secretary Albright clinked champagne glasses with Mr. Kim; she found him to be “very decisive and practical and serious.’ But about the nation’s 150,000 political prisoners, she had no public comment. . . . Her silence on this repression diminished U.S. credibility, not only in North Korea but in less threatening countries where the administration chooses to speak, more openly, about human rights.”

The hallmark of Clinton policy was supposedly the 1994 Agreed Framework, which banned Pyongyang from churning out nukes in return for billions worth of aid. But as the North Koreans have since acknowledged, they spent most of the ‘90s trying to produce weapons-grade uranium—and, in 1998, launched a Taepodong-1 rocket over Japan. Meanwhile, as they diverted foreign aid into WMD and missile factories, millions of North Koreans died of starvation.

“Looking at this record,” quipped Investor’s Business Daily, “maybe Albright actually had it right. North Korea’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and ever-more sophisticated ballistic missiles, including the Taepodong-2 C launched this week—were indeed the result of five years of failed diplomacy. It’s just that the five failed years lasted from 1994-1999.”

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2006

A UN “force” on the Lebanese border - Huh!

Editorial, The Washington Times, America’s best political newspaper
July 24, 2006

As Israel fights to break the back of one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist organizations, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has come up with a very bad idea. He wants to throw a lifeline to Hezbollah, dispatching UN “peacekeepers” to Lebanon. Perhaps Mr. Annan and other advocates of such a force can tell us how many peacekeepers would be necessary, whether Hezbollah would be required to disarm, and, if so, who would disarm them?

Mr. Annan must explain how his peacekeepers would differ from the current UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has failed miserably ever since it was dispatched in 1978. UNIFIL was created following the Coastal Road Massacre of March 11,1978—when Palestinian terrorists based in Lebanon and affiliated with Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization entered Israel along the Mediterranean coast and hijacked a bus. Thirty-six hostages died (without mercy).

In response, the Israel Defense Force invaded southern Lebanon to destroy terrorist bases there. The U.N. Security Council responded by adopting Resolution 425, calling on Israel to “immediately” withdraw from Lebanon and establishing UNIFIL for the purpose of “assisting the government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority to the area.” (Of course, that never happened).

Mr. Annan must explain how his peacekeepers would differ from the current
(UNIFIL) which has failed miserably. In June 1982. UNIFIL failed to stop
Palestinian terrorist groups from attacking Israel and forced an Israeli occupation of much of Lebanon, leading to the destruction of the Palestinian terrorist bases there. With substantial Syrian and Iranian complicity, Hezbollah supplanted the PLO as the dominant terrorist organization in Lebanon.

In 1985, Israel withdrew from Lebanese territory but for a small security zone on Lebanon’s southern, border, required to prevent attacks on Israel. Over the next 15 years, UNIFIL was mostly worthless, Unable to stop Hezbollah attacks but remarkably successful in getting in the way of Israelis defending themselves.

Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, describes how this worked: “Hezbollah would launch military attacks 50 meters from a UNIFIL outpost, Israel would shoot back and UNIFIL would protest against the Israeli response.”

When Israel withdrew from the security zone in May 2000, UNIFIL was worthless again, as Hezbollah rushed to the border to establish a terrorist presence the UN forces could only observe. On Oct 7, 2000, Hezbollah operatives used cars disguised as UN vehicles to kidnap and kill 3 Israeli soldiers. When Israel asked UNIFIL for a videotape of the cars that Hezbollah used in the kidnapping, UN officials lied, telling them that no such tape existed.

UNIFIL failed to prevent the Hezbollah raid two weeks ago, in which two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped and eight others died. That set off the current mess. Once Hezbollah is defeated, disarmed and forced to return the soldiers kidnapped two weeks ago, someone may find a useful role for the United Nations to play in helping the Lebanese Army extend its authority to the south.

For now, however, the Israeli military is doing more to enhance the long-term prospects for peace in Lebanon than the United Nations has ever done. Kofi Annan can perform a great service by staying out of the way.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:03 PM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2006

ALERT! WAKE-UP CALL

Every citizen of Western Civilization must listen to this Caroline Glick interview.

She appears in the Jerusalem Post and many other media outlets and is brilliant. Her analysis is completely accurate and should be the ultimate wake-up call for Western civilization.

Please make yourself sit still and listen to the very end. Put aside about 30 minutes. It is well worth your time if you really want to know what is going on in the entire world before the deliberately averted eyes of those who refuse to recognize the truth and our own imminent danger

Jerome S. Kaufman

Put the address below in your search engine. I don't believe you will be able to just click on to the audio from here.

http://politicscentral.com/2006/08/03/will_lebanon_be_the_next_iran.php

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 05:25 AM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2006

Destruction of the Jerusalem Temple - 1000 years before Muhammad was even born!

By Rabbi Michael Cohen
Ketar Torah Synagogue, West Bloomfield, MI

Explaining the Fast of Tisha B’Av commemorating the destruction of the first Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE, 1000 years before Muhammad was even born (570 BCE) and Islam created! And commemorating the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE.

In the month of August we will observe the Fast of Tisha B’Av (the ninth of the month of Av - the fifth month of the Hebrew calendar). This fast commemorates not only the destruction of the first and second Temples, but also the day upon which it was decreed by G-d that the Jewish People would remain in the wilderness and not enter the land of Israel for 40 years.

Even though Tisha B’Av is a sad day, it is also called a Moed (festival). We are told that on Tisha B’Av the Messiah is to be born. For this reason the Tachanun prayer (that is omitted on happy occasions) is not recited even though we are fasting. This seems to be a contradiction. On the one hand we are mourning but on other hand, this very same day is to become one of celebration.

Perhaps the answer is that all too often Judaism is seen as a link with the past rather than a religion of the future. After all, each of our festivals commemorates miracles and salvation that took place many years ago. As Jews we find answers today in the Diaspora and even in Israel surrounded by an archaic hostility.

There is danger in considering Judaism a remnant of the past. Tisha B’Av serves to change that perspective, It reminds us that a foundation (indeed one of the 13 principles of faith) is that we Jews wait the coming of the Messiah and the Messianic age. This core belief changes our perspective of all festivals throughout the year. We Jews are not remnants of the past but rather a nation that lives in the present and looks to the future - to a time that the Temple will be rebuilt and that we will live securely in Israel.

Tisha B’Av gives us the understanding that we enjoy a relationship with G-d that is ongoing and not limited to the past. With this lesson however, comes an awesome responsibility. We were exiled for a reason. The burden is upon us to correct ourselves so that we will merit the Messianic age. Tisha B’Av is both a sad day of the past as well as a joyous day in the future. We know that we are not in an open-ended exile. We enjoy a relationship with G-d that transcends time.

Once again the Jewish state is engulfed in a terrible war, one that threatens the lives of many civilians and has disrupted the entire country. Our thoughts and prayers are with our soldiers, their families, and all who are in harm's way.

May G-d once again grant us victory over our enemies.

Posted by Jerome S. Kaufman at 07:07 PM | Comments (0)