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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

'Palestinian police' beat police shooter to death

Today is a travel day - but I'm not traveling until this evening.

The 'Palestinian police' beat to death Ahmad Izz Halaweh, a 'Palestinian' who was arrested for being involved in shooting two 'Palestinian police' to death in Shchem (Nablus). It goes without saying that Hamas is claiming that Halaweh's death constitutes a 'new height' of 'collaboration with Israel' as if Israel cares about an inter-'Palestinian' fight in a 'Palestinian' city.
Ahmad Izz Halaweh, the main suspect in a shooting by several gunmen last week which left two Palestinian policemen dead, was arrested during predawn raids in the Old City of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank on Tuesday and taken to the Juneid security compound, where he was attacked and severely beaten by security officers.
Governor of Nablus Akram Rujoub later pronounced him dead. 
A graphic photo shared on social media of Halaweh after the brutal attack showed his face, neck, and shoulders badly bruised and swollen.
Halaweh, reportedly the most prominent Nablus-area leader of Fatah's military wing the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, was the third civilian to be killed by Palestinian security officers following Thursday’s shooting. 
Huh? A leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is a 'civilian'?
Shortly after Halaweh’s killing, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced that a special committee would be formed to look into Halaweh’s death and publicly share the results of the investigation, calling the situation “exceptional.”
Good luck with that.... 
Hamdallah also called on Palestinians wanted by Palestinian police to turn themselves in.
Yes, 'turn yourselves in or we will kill you. But just give them a 'state' and they'll stop behaving this way. Right....

Meanwhile, while you're passing the popcorn, here comes the United Nations....
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, James Heenan, the head of the UN Human Rights Office in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said the UN agency was “extremely concerned about the apparent extrajudicial execution."
"We welcome the prompt announcement of an investigation into the killing by Prime Minister Hamdallah, and urge the Palestinian authorities to hold independent investigations into the string of events since last week that have now seen five people lose their lives." Heenan insisted that the security officers involved in the “unlawful killings” be "brought to justice and be suspended, pending the completion of the investigation."  
“There is no place for such acts in a State of Palestine that seeks to abide by international human rights law," Heenan said, concluding that "Our Office will follow this case closely.”
State of what? Good luck with that too....

There's lots more - read the whole thing.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

The Donald Trump video every Jew must watch

Ezra Levant debunks the 'Trump as anti-Semite' meme.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Zvi S).

I won't go to the halachic (Jewish law) implications of Trump's kids all marrying or dating Jews, but the point that Trump doesn't hate Jews seems well-taken.

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Friday, the rabbi canceled his trip

The rabbi of Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh, North Carolina announced on Friday that the trip to Arafat's tomb is off.
On Friday, August 19, 2016, 10:15 AM, Beth Meyer Synagogue wrote:
August 19, 2016 
Shalom Beth Meyer Family, 
I write to you with a very heavy heart. 
The past few weeks have been extraordinarily painful for me, Rabbi Jenny, our congregation's leaders, and many in the Beth Meyer family and extended Jewish community. This letter - which admittedly is quite lengthy - is designed to provide a detailed explanation of how this situation came about and how I have chosen to resolve it. 
During my time at Beth Meyer, I have led four "pilgrimage" trips to Israel that visited many of the historic and spiritually-rich sites that lift the soul and build one's love for and connection to the State of Israel. These tours included stops at sites that illustrate the threats and precarious security issues Israel faces on a daily basis. I will continue to offer such tours in the future.  
A few months ago, I invited Beth Meyer members to participate in a trip to Israel and the West Bank under the auspices of MEJDI Tours, a company that provides customized educational tours in regions worldwide suffering from conflict. In this case, the tour was to be a "dual-narrative" tour with both Israeli and Palestinian tour guides that would visit Israel and the West Bank. 
This process began some two years ago when I first heard of MEJDI Tours and began to look into the organization. I learned that MEJDI, in the past, has partnered with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Israeli educational institutions and numerous American synagogues. In addition, MEJDI has been featured in a range of respected media outlets, including  Haaretz, Forbes and National Geographic Explorer.  
After thoroughly researching MEJDI's credentials with rabbis and Jewish leaders across the U.S. and Israel, I was comfortable that MEJDI was, in fact, a non-partisan tour operator that offers individuals unique immersive experiences to learn about complex issues first-hand. MEJDI does not preach or support any specific agenda or form of hate, violence or terror. Rather, it is an apolitical organization that believes increased education and understanding can help build bridges across cultures and stimulate peace. 
While studying in Israel in the summer of 2015, I took the opportunity to tour the West Bank in a group that had with it a Palestinian MEJDI guide. It was, to say the least, a profound (and often surprising) experience that allowed me to hear perspectives few of us ever hear. For example, the guide was highly critical of the Palestinian Authority and its leaders, both past and present. He condemned violence by Palestinians and emphasized that he "despises Hamas." When I asked challenging questions, his responses recognized weaknesses in Palestinian positions. Moreover, he mocked the backwardness of the Arab world, as well as its lack of support for human rights and democracy. And, while he did criticize a number of Israeli government policies, his words were balanced, thoughtful and nuanced.  
After reviewing this idea with Beth Meyer's leaders and securing their approval, I invited the Beth Meyer family to participate in a MEJDI tour next spring. I wholeheartedly believed I was helping to provide a rare opportunity for seasoned Israel travelers to learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a broader, deeper way. With expert guides who would be both supportive and critical of their own government's policies, I hoped participants would gain new insights and hear from peace-makers working on the ground to make a difference. I thought, perhaps naively, that this MEJDI tour would offer a different kind of experience for Zionist, Israel-loving Jews who want to explore the many intricacies of this terrible conflict.  
For some in the congregation, there was immediate interest in participating and many quickly submitted their deposits. For others, there was no interest at all. Some congregants asked thoughtful questions, and others criticized my attempt to organize such a trip due to their belief that the itinerary was unbalanced. And there were some who expressed serious concerns about the potential damage the tour could cause the Beth Meyer community and the image of the State of Israel. 
While my intentions were pure, my heart broke as I listened to the pain my actions had caused some congregants. I listened carefully to this feedback and discussed what I heard with Rabbi Jenny and synagogue leaders. 
After deep reflection and soul-searching, I have decided to cancel the trip. To anyone who feels confused, hurt or upset on account of my actions, I sincerely apologize and ask your forgiveness. 
Please know my decision was not made because I don't believe in the tour's value - I do. Nor was it made because a handful of individuals outside of our holy congregation - none of whom have ever talked or met with me - spread inaccurate and misleading information about Rabbi Jenny and me that spawned threats of personal violence. In this season of Tisha B'Av when we remember the many tragedies of our people, personally experiencing this kind of sinat hinam (baseless hatred) was especially painful. 
Rather, I made this decision because I deeply love Beth Meyer and what we, as a family, have built these past 11+ years. And I want to emphasize that my love embraces each and every one of you, regardless of where you land on the spiritual, social or political spectra. I am touched that so many congregants pleaded with me to move forward as planned, but I cannot - and will not - do anything that jeopardizes the integrity of the Beth Meyer family. 
I want to thank everyone who has shared their thoughts with me about this issue. Most particularly, I want to acknowledge the input and guidance I received from our President Eric Lamb, the Beth Meyer Synagogue Executive Board, lay leaders and, of course, my wife and partner, Jenny.  
Just as the Torah teaches that God created the world with immense variety, so too my vision of our congregation is one where we accept and celebrate both the common bonds and differences among us. Civil discussion, respectful debate and honoring diverse opinions are Jewish values that our people have embraced for millennia. They are the values that form the foundation of my rabbinate, and they are the values that make Beth Meyer such a welcoming community. 
When appropriate and rooted in Jewish values, I will continue to take public positions on issues where I believe my contribution can be constructive. I want to stress, however, that I do not and never will expect to have consensus across our membership on any issue, least of all, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (In fact, if all I heard was a unanimous "Amen," I would think something was wrong. It wouldn't be Jewish, and it wouldn't be the Beth Meyer that I cherish!) 
At some point in the future, perhaps, our congregation may again consider an educational initiative such as a MEJDI tour. But that would happen only after there has been ample opportunity for all interested members to learn about the opportunity and discuss it thoroughly with input from a broad cross-section of our members. 
In that spirit, I invite anyone who has questions about this situation or would like to share any other concerns to contact me via e-mail (rabbi@bethmeyer.org ) or phone (919.848.1420). I will be delighted to sit down and hear your thoughts and ideas. 
This episode, though challenging, has been a valuable learning experience for all of us. I pray that we use it to deepen the bonds we share and inspire us to continue nurturing the Beth Meyer family and strengthening our commitment to and love of God, the Torah, the Jewish people, the State of Israel and one another. 
At this moment, perhaps more than ever, I thank God and each of you for the privilege of serving as Beth Meyer's rabbi. Rabbi Jenny and I, along with our entire family, look forward to welcoming the New Year with our holy, hamish (warm) congregation at the High Holy Days. 
B'ahavah (With love),
Rabbi Eric Solomon
Something tells me there may still be a trip in the future....

The problem with trying to 'understand the other' is that it only works if it's a two-way street. In Israel, much of our population spent 1993-2000 trying to 'understand the other.' Unfortunately, it was never a two-way street (and we suffered plenty of terror attacks during that period) and it ended in a full-blown intifadeh that left hundreds of Israelis dead, wounded, widowed and orphaned.

The 'conflict' is insoluble because only one side is interested in a solution. Most Israelis now have had enough pain inflicted on them that they get that. I hope the rest of world Jewry comes around without suffering all the pain that we suffered.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Oh my... US moving nukes from Turkey to Romania

A report on a Belgian website claims that the United States is in the process of moving some 20+ nuclear weapons from the Incirlik base in Turkey to Romania.
EXCLUSIVE/ Two independent sources told EurActiv.com that the US has started transferring nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania, against the background of worsening relations between Washington and Ankara.
According to one of the sources, the transfer has been very challenging in technical and political terms.
“It’s not easy to move 20+ nukes,” said the source, on conditions of anonymity.
According to a recent report by the Simson Center, since the Cold War, some 50 US tactical nuclear weapons have been stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik air base, approximately 100 kilometres from the Syrian border.
During the failed coup in Turkey in July, Incirlik’s power was cut, and the Turkish government prohibited US aircraft from flying in or out. Eventually, the base commander was arrested and implicated in the coup. Whether the US could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable question, the report says.
Another source told EurActiv.com that the US-Turkey relations had deteriorated so much following the coup that Washington no longer trusted Ankara to host the weapons. The American weapons are being moved to the Deveselu air base in Romania, the source said.
Deveselu, near the city of Caracal, is the new home of the US missile shield, which has infuriated Russia.
The Romanians are denying the story. And of course, no one else is confirming it.
According to practice dating from the Cold War, leaked information regarding the presence of US nuclear weapons on European soil has never been officially confirmed. It is, however, public knowledge that Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy host US nuclear weapons.
From Israel's perspective, anything that gets nuclear weapons away from Turkey is good for the Jews. 

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The love affair is over....

In case you're wondering, I'm in Boston again and the Sabbath doesn't start here for about another seven hours.

Compare the picture above to the tweet below. The love affair is over. Obama has 'earned' Erdogan's respect.

 Wonder what's happening with the 'reconciliation with Israel.....

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Been there and done that, a LONG time ago

Anyone who recognizes this picture and can identify the person in it before they read this post deserves a prize.

This post is slightly off topic, as in it doesn't directly deal with Israel. Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is one of my college classmates (for the record, another is David M. ("Dave") Friedman, the 'Israel adviser' to Donald Trump). Rabbi Pruzansky is the rabbi of a shul in Teaneck, New Jersey where many of my friends consider him to be a 'controversial' figure.

About a week ago, I told someone somewhere in social media that this election in the US reminds me of the 1972 Nixon-McGovern election. I was a little too young to vote, but I can recall arguing with my parents that they should vote for Nixon because 'he may be a crook, but at least he's our crook.' Nixon was gone two years later, but I certainly have no regrets for having supported him.

Rabbi Pruzansky is a historian and compares this election to a much older one of which I was not aware. He compares it to the election of 1856. The picture at the top is the guy who lost that election.
Imagine for a moment a US presidential election between two candidates, neither of whom is particularly beloved to the populace. One candidate is an undistinguished former Senator and lackluster Secretary of State who had few if any accomplishments in office but is breaking a social barrier by running for the presidency, and the other is a wealthy businessman with dictatorial tendencies and a populist streak and inspires devotion in his followers and fear and loathing in his adversaries. Even members of his own extended family support his opponent. Imagine also that exactly four years after one of these individuals is elected – after four years in office of abject failure, with simmering problems and no solutions – that utter catastrophe befalls the nation.
We need not let our imagination run that wild because such was the fateful election of 1856 that pitted James Buchanan against John C. Fremont. Buchanan, a Democrat, had served without distinction in the House and Senate, and as Secretary of State under President Polk. His sole qualification for the presidency, aside from the boxes checked off on his resume, was that immediately before the election season he was serving as American ambassador in Great Britain and so was removed from the disputes then raging over slavery. He remains the only lifelong bachelor ever to serve as president, shattering once and for all that important impediment to high office.
His opponent was the colorful Republican John C. Fremont, whose long locks flowed over his ears and whose beard gave him a dashing appearance. Fremont was a wealthy businessman who gained his fortune in an unorthodox way. He was by profession an explorer, one of many Americans to go west in the 1840’s blazing new trails and expanding America’s horizons. He ventured as far as California, and when the Mexican-American War erupted in 1846, Fremont was awarded a commission as a Lt.-Colonel, won several battles in California (including in the area of Santa Barbara) and almost immediately declared himself the military governor of California.
That did not sit well with his superiors. Fremont was eventually court-martialed and convicted but had his sentence commuted by President Polk. Back in California, Fremont found his fortune when his Mexican workers discovered enormous quantities of gold on land Fremont claimed as his own. He parlayed that gold into the purchase and development of extensive real estate holdings, especially around San Francisco, and into a career in politics, briefly as Senator from California and then the run for President as the first candidate ever of the newly-minted Republican Party.
There was a third-party candidate as well in this election. Former president Millard Fillmore ran on the ticket of the self-proclaimed “American Party,” nicknamed the “Know-Nothings.” They were a party with a single cause – opposition to immigration; at that time, the disfavored immigrants were Catholics from Europe. There is no truth to the rumor that Fillmore promised to build a wall along the Eastern seaboard to prevent Catholic immigration and have the Vatican pay for it. In any event, American society today is much more efficient, so Fillmore’s party has been subsumed by one of our two parties.
All things considered, Fremont was the superior candidate and despite his intriguing resume would have made a better president, but who knows? Buchanan the Democrat was pro-slavery in an understated way, and as a northerner (the only president ever to be born in Pennsylvania), it was assumed he would attract some Northern votes along with those of the Southern pro-slavery crowd. Fremont the Republican was anti-slavery, as were most Republicans of that era, and that moral stance forced his own father-in-law, Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, to oppose Fremont and support Buchanan.
Democrats accused Fremont of being unfit for the presidency and claimed that he would surely provoke a civil war. In the end , of course, it was Buchanan who won and whose failures as president made the Civil War, the bloodiest in American history, inevitable.
The election was closer than it seemed.  Buchanan won 45% of the vote to Fremont’s 33%, but the anti-immigrant Fillmore earned a startling 22% of the vote as the third-party candidate. Absent Fillmore’s involvement and siphoning of votes from the other two candidates, Fremont might have won and American history might not have taken the dark turn it did. Fremont carried most of the north, but even lost his own state of California; Buchanan swept the slave south and his home state of Pennsylvania (then, the second largest state after New York). Fillmore won Maryland and that’s all, and soon faded into obscurity.
Buchanan as President, despite his gaudy resume, allowed the fight over slavery to escalate. He supported the Dred Scott decision wherein the Supreme Court ruled that Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in the territories and basically allowed this moral and civil problem to fester. It festered into the outbreak of the Civil War a month after Buchanan left office and Abraham Lincoln was sworn in. Such is the price for failed leadership in a time of crisis and for stale ideas when new thinking is required.
Fremont fought in the Civil War for the Union, later moved to New York, died in 1890, and is buried in Sparkill, New York in Rockland County, just a few miles south of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Is past prologue?
Continue reading here.  By the way, there is a city along the California coast not far from San Francisco named Fremont, California. Yes, named after the same John C. Fremont (although you have to go his Wikipedia page to confirm that).

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Wednesday the Rabbi threw in the towel - visit to Arafat's tomb is off the itinerary

Greetings from Boston.

Earlier today, the following email from Rabbi Blumofe in Austin, Texas (the subject of yesterday's post) was forwarded to me:
> Dear Friends,
> Thank you for being in touch with me personally regarding the unfortunate insinuation, opprobrium and personal defamation that has surfaced based on the inaccurate and reckless premeditated judgments from a member in our community about the draft of an itinerary to Israel in June, 2017.   The refusal to have communicated directly with me has added hate and peril into this world. 
> I very much appreciate your requests to help.
> Here's where things stand -- if you can communicate this information to expanding circles and to folks who have reached out to you, or whom you know would be interested to have a fuller/current briefing, this would help to bring accuracy to a volatile and distressing situation.
> 1.  The draft of the itinerary that has gone public is no longer accurate.  That itinerary was cancelled.  
> 2.  There will be a trip to Israel in June, 2017 that will be planned with a different itinerary in the coming weeks, with the input of the leadership of Agudas Achim.  I believe that the goals of exploring Israel as it wrestles with its status as a democracy and Jewish state can be achieved in alternative, affirming ways -- and rest assured, the new itinerary will not stop at the grave of Arafat.
> Please do not hesitate to be in touch as we continue to strive to build engagement, literacy, and positive excitement for Israel within our community -- and as we look to keep each other safe and well.
> Am Yisrael Chai.
> Neil Blumofe
> Rabbi.
> ___________________
> Neil F. Blumofe, Rabbi
> Congregation Agudas Achim
> P.O. Box 28400
> Austin, Texas USA 78755-8400
The emphasis added was mine - not in the original.

Can't wait to see the new itinerary.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Monday, the rabbi worshipped at Arafat's tomb

Raleigh, North Carolina is not the only place where a rabbi thinks that Judaism requires him to go worship at the tomb of the father of terrorism. I'd like to introduce you to Rabbi Neil Blumofe of Congregation Agudas Achim (it's Conservative - contrary to what some of my Orthodox friends might conclude from the name) in Austin, Texas.

Below is a letter written by Richard Brook, a congregant of Rabbi Blumofe, who vehemently objects to Blumofe's idol worship.
Letter to Rabbi Blumofe

And in case you're wondering what these tours do, here's an itinerary:
Blumofe Itinerary for trip to Israel

Yes, the visit to Arafat's tomb is on Day 11. But it's only the start of the problems with this tour. This is how people are being educated to Judaism?

As it happens, I was in Austin two years ago on business, as some of you might recall. Congregation Agudas Achim is located in a huge gated complex that was donated by Michael Dell, the chairman of Dell Computers, who donated $1.8 million to American Friends of the IDF in 2014. The complex includes a day school, a community center, and Orthodox, Conservative and Reform synagogues (although when I was there in November 2014, the Orthodox synagogue was meeting in a classroom in the school). One has to wonder whether Mr. Dell is aware of what is going on at his campus, and whether visiting Yasser Arafat's tomb violates the terms of the land grant to Congregation Agudas Achim (I have no way of getting a copy of that grant - just raising the issue).

For the record, Mr. Brook has been in touch with me directly, and gave me permission to publish his letter (Hat Tips: Richard Allen and Sloan Rachmuth).

More to follow as this story progresses.

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Hamas wins a Darwin Award

Yes, it's a travel day again. Greetings from the airline lounge at Paris-Charles DeGaulle.

I've discussed the concept of a Darwin Award many times. A Darwin Award is given to someone who improves the human race by removing himself from the gene pool.

'Palestinians' have won Darwin Awards before (it's just about the only type of reward they ever win). And now a Hamas member has won another one. Posthumously of course.
The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas announced that one of its operatives was electrocuted to death while working on a tunnel in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Israel Army Radio reported. The news comes as residents of Gaza who seek to rebuild their homes face difficulty in securing the necessary electricity and other resources, which are routinely appropriated by Hamas.
Israel was forced to increase the amount of electricity it sends to Gaza in June after repeated shutdowns at Gaza’s only power plant due to a payment dispute between Hamas and Fatah. Because of this infighting, Gaza residents usually only have six to eight hours of electricity per day. The lack of power has also caused failures at Gaza’s new $100 million sewage treatment facility, which was built with financing from the World Bank.
It's nice to be able to laugh at Hamas once in a while, but really this is not such a joke.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, formerly the head of the research division of Israeli military intelligence and later the director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, told reporters in May that the discovery of the tunnels was a sign that Hamas was preparing for another war against Israel. He added that the tunnel digging means that “they definitely invest a lot in making the necessary preparations so that in the next round, when they decide to start it, they will be able to inflict the heaviest damage on Israel, including through those tunnels.”
Commenting on the efforts Hamas was putting into its terror tunnels at the expense of Gazans, long time Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh observed, “the last thing Hamas cares about is the welfare of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,”
Haaretz’s defense correspondent Amos Harel wrote in January that “Hamas is investing great efforts and huge sums in the tunnel project. It is reasonable to assume that the number of tunnels crossing under the border is close to that on the eve of Protective Edge,” or the 2014 Gaza war.
But give them a 'state' and the 'Palestinians' will know exactly what to do. The Euroweenies will help them. Oh... wait... Hamas HAS a state in Gaza, and this is what they are doing with it.

What could go wrong?

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