My friend and colleague Dr. Michael Kram suggested to me that I join the growing list of bloggers.
Click here to read my entire Mission Statement.
A FEW THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS 8/29/05
As I leave today for a wedding in Israel, I thought I would try to outline a few of the very dangerous pitfalls that lie ahead.
Will Mr.Abbas for the first time undertake to disarm terrorists groups? If not he will surely fail.
Will the PA and its leaders continue to threaten war if Israel proceeds with the building around Maale Adumim ? If they do it will become self-fulfilling.
Will Hamas be a serious and even majority party in the upcoming PA elections? If so it is a non-starter for the “ road-map”.
Will the terrorist groups start a major resurgence of terror, if they believe that this is in their best interests? If so how long will it take Israeli troops to be back in Gaza?
Will PM Sharon all for early elections? And will he start a new party if he loses the Likud primary? Will Uzi Landau split the anti-Sharon vote?
will the US place an inordinate amount of pressure on Sharon for further concessions?
Will the Europeans, the UN and the US insist that the PA incitement of the Palestinian population against Israel and Jews cease (especially in textbooks, etc)? If not there is no hope for peace.
Will this morning’s suicide attack be followed by condemnation and arrests by Abbas or by PA doubletalk and congratulations to the “martyrs?
These are difficult times and each of us will and should have our own questions. The one question I see no answer to is-Where are the visible tangible result of all the organizations that were to teach tolerance and comity between the orthodox and secular? From my vantage point the demonization of orthodox, especially Religious Zionists was at fever pitch.
The nation really needs a Refuah !
FOUR QUESTIONS 8/19/05
1— When Palestinian terrorists were holed up in the Church of the Nativity, Israeli soldiers refused to enter a House of prayer. A long siege that resulted in a negotiated conclusion was achieved.Why is a synagogue a lesser place of sanctuary and holiness?
(Suggested to me by Harvey Wolinitz’s son-in-law)
2--When Mr. Wolfensohn of the World Bank requested millions of dollars from American Jews to purchase the computer programs for the Gaza greenhouses, why didn’t he turn to Saudi Arabia for help? Don’t they have a role in the PEACE PROCESS? Or the oil companies whose hourly excess profits could have financed the entire project? Don’t they have a stake in Mid-East stability and economic vitality?
3—Since we are told that over and above oil / gas shortages from supply and demand problems, we have a need for refineries (we have not built any in 30 or 40 years) why doesn’t the US Government build some in the proper areas, and once they are close to being profitable (which will be almost immediately) auction them off to the highest bidders ?
4—Why has FOX CABLENEWS, MSNBC and now CNN lowered their standards to present nitely ( 9-11 PM ) updates from Aruba on the Natalie Holloway disappearance?
Give us a break!!!
How come we never hear anything about her private intimate life both before and during her Aruba trip? What was the class doing there? Where are the chaperones? And what was she doing out at that hour with strange beach characters?
THE ROCKLAND JOURNAL NEWS EDITORIAL 8/15/05
I am deeply honored by the editorial in today’s Gannett Rockland Journal News ,which praises the Talmud class that I am privileged to teach at Good Samaritan Hospital each week. Obviously without the friendship and loyalty of my colleagues over these 17 years, it could not have taken place.
Although I knew nothing about this editorial until this morning, it does fit in with yesterdays blog regarding programs that even individuals can undertake to increase Judaic knowledge among our friends and associates.
As an aside I was thrilled when this past Friday one of our regular students brought his 17 year old grandson to the class ,which to me was of special significance..
A TISHA B'AV BLOG-SADNESS 8/14/05
The solemnity of this day ( Tisha B’Av ) is more intense and conveys a deeper sense of significance than any I have experienced in my adult life. As I sat on the floor of the synagogue last nite and this morning chanting the Lamentations and listening to the reading of EICHA , my thoughts were not confined to the twin destructions of the Temples in Jerusalem, but of a panoramic view of the State of World Jewry.
Of course the most immediate scene in my overview are thousands of Jewish soldiers prepared to forcibly remove their fellow countrymen from settlements and homes they have lived in ,with the encouragement of the government for close to four decades. Never before in history (to my knowledge), has a victor in a defensive war returned land (and a potential seaport and airport to the aggressor [and LOSER] ) in the absence of a formal treaty or understanding regarding peace and cordial relations.
Not only that, but both government and private think tanks are unanimous that the result will yield only chaos and anarchy with no sign of PA stability. The only solution says even these critics is more and more and more Israeli concessions and even then they admit violence and terrorism will be the response of Hamas et al.
But on this day my thoughts and pain goes much deeper. I go back to the end of the six Day War and the capture and re-unification of Jerusalem. What would have happened if the Temple Mount was razed, in preparation for the building of the next Temple? What would have been had access been limited to the Temple Mount?
Yes the Arab and Muslim world would have gone wild. But could they do anything beyond that which they have done since 1948 in their attempts to destroy the State of Israel and to vilify Jews and Zionism (= Racism) would their hate be any greater than it is today toward Jews and Israel? Would they raise the price of oil or withhold supplies? They did that already. Would they pass a few more anti-Israel UN resolutions?
Yes I know this was actually discussed and the Rabbis felt the resultant successful world pressure for Israel to rebuild the mosques would be a great travesty—so they handed over the keys to the Jew-haters
But, Just suppose that the Rabbis were wrong in their political judgement.It would not be the first time as we saw during the holocaust. Revered Rabbis, teachers and role models came to the wrong decisions regarding an exodus from Europe when it was still possible
Americans including Jews are giving their lives so a “free Iraq” can write into their proposed constitution that anyone can be a citizen except a JEW.
Did the World cry out when Arafat despite his promise to President Clinton destroyed the Holy Burial place of Yosef (Joseph ) ?
Does the world utter one comment when Mr Abbas ,his team and his predecessors proclaim that never was a Jewish presence on the Har Habayith ( Temple Mount)?Does the Christian world even wonder where did Jesus function if there was no Bet Hamikdash and from where were the great Judaic religious articles now stored in the Vatican basement taken from if there was no Jewish Temple?
Let no one think I am a religious zealot. But rather I am a torah observant individual who three time a day at the conclusion of the main prayer (shmoneh Esreh) prays (as does every observant Jew) for the speedy rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem in our time.-even as I support the State of Israel and its democratic institutions (even if faulted),
But my thoughts today center not so much on those who seek to destroy us but on my fellow Jews. How has it come to pass that today the majority of my co-religionists look at this sweltering day as a beach or tennis opportunity and never heard of Tisha B’av.?
Why do the majority of my fellow Jews have so little understanding of Jewish history and spirituality, that they are devoid of attachment to the significance of the loss of our temple? I could pose dozens of such poignant questions that speak to total assimilation and ignorance of our heritage and our traditions.
Tisha B’Av speaks to our rejection of Jewish heritage and teachings. But our modern situation speaks to a torah community that has almost a total disconnect with non-observant communities and individuals. This is not restricted to the United States but surely in Israel as well.
Where are the foundations, federation programs, formal educational institutions, national synagogue groups, Rabbinic organizations and Chief Rabbis who are prepared to develop internet ,audio-visual programs and so on ,on a grand scale that can begin to address this problem? Even individuals and synagogues must pause to consider how they can face this problem. ,with small and individualized programs.
In a future blog I will describe a program that theoretically can change the face of synagogues in Israel.
I have no easy answers, only sadness in my heart. Sadly I know that those who are being evacuated under duress will return after the next war. Remember the children of the GUSH who returned decades after their parents were slaughtered by Arab terrorists. Hamas and their colleagues will never rest as long as there is a Jewish State. While I hope and pray for peace we must be vigilant that Israel will not repeat its grievous errors after they win the next war.
ORIENT HOUSE RE-OPENED 8/10/05
If the news from DEBKA .COM is correct , then for the first time in four years the Palestinian Authority has quietly re-opened Orient House as PA Headquarters in Jerusalem. To the PA this is a symbol of their claim to Jerusalem as the capitol of a Palestinian State.
I recall sitting outside the compound that was protected by PA security, and was an independent island of autonomy within Jerusalem. The PA motto of “today Gaza and tomorrow Jerusalem “is serious. Prior to the closure of Orient House by Sharon there were satellite PA mini-ministries throughout Jerusalem .These ranged from Health to Security and Social Services.
If the Prime Minister is truly committed to a unified indivisible Jerusalem as the Capitol of the State of Israel, he should without delay and WITHOUT CONSULTING the State Department close them down.
If he does not, it will only be a matter of time that Abbas will move in and foreign delegations will visit him not in Ramallah, but ORIENT HOUSE, in PALESTINIAN JERUSALEM
BIBI'S RESIGNATION 8/4/05
The resignation today of Finance Minister Bibi Netanyahu while commendable is very late in the process. It is hard to have confidence in him as a consistent leader, for it appears that each step of the way his actions appear to represent a measured approach as to what is best for Bibi and not the State of Israel.
No one can deny his dynamism. Taken together with his made-for-TV looks and speech, he surely could win an election among the Jews of NY. Whether he will convince Likud primary voters that he will be better than Sharon remains to be seen. However, his presence outside the Government may stiffen Sharon as he faces the onslaught of the American Administration for greater concessions.
It is possible that this resignation will energize the anti-disengagement forces. Perhaps more importantly, will be whether Netanyahu will convince the other Likud members of the Cabinet to likewise leave. If they do and Uzi Landau will join forces with Bibi, then perhaps the elections can be moved up to early 2006 and a united Likud and then electorate will fall in behind Bibi’s leadership.
In the meantime those who had hoped long ago for this move, anxiously pray that their faith will be rewarded. By the way, a natural ally of Bibi should be Natan Sharansky who long ago spoke of the insanity of disengagement without any reciprocal Palestinian concessions.
BOLTON,CONDY RICE AND SHARON-SOME THOUGHTS 8/1/05
It was certainly fair game for Democrats to attack John Bolton during the nomination process, though I objected to the failure to grant him an up or down vote. Sen. Chris Dodd however has gone over the line when he attacked now Ambassador Bolton after the President’s appointment.
True Bolton goes to the UN with sure public knowledge that he has the full confidence of our President and his State Dept., nevertheless the partisan attack on him were uncalled for and is a blow to any semblance of a bi-partisan foreign policy.
I fear for the fallout when the Roberts nomination comes up!
Today in the gym a classmate of mine going back to elementary and high school asked me why I never went into politics? After seeing the brutal character attacks on outstanding public servants up for judicial nominations etc., I wonder why so many competent people are still willing to go into public service?
If the reports are even partially correct, then the bullying by Sec. of State Condaleeza Rice during her recent Israel trip is unacceptable and not seen in quite a few Administrations.
Israel is not a vassal state and at the end of the day security issues must be decided in Jerusalem and not Foggy Bottom. The pressure to force Israel to rearm the PA is totally out of line.
Abbas has shown no inclination to disarm the terror groups, or halt incitement. Despite the fact that Israel also fears to see Abbas toppled it cannot commit national suicide to make Ms. Rice happy.
Israeli intelligence believes that what Abbas lacks is the will and the commitment, and not the firepower.
Though this is surely a friendly President, our support is not an open ended invitation to pressure Israel on security issues.
I AM DEEPLY CONCERNED AND UPSET WITH SOME ACTIONS OF THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT IN PREVENTING LEGITIMATE DISSENT BY THOSE WHO OPPOSE DISENGAGEMENT.
What the government is doing in targeting individuals with yarmulkes or orange clothing (as documented by the letter sent to the Prime Minister by OU President Steve Savitsky) violates all tenets of civil rights. It is encouraging a kulturkampf from which the nation will not soon recover.
Read the op-eds of Haaretz to see the vile and hate spewed against the religious Zionist communities.
The right to protest peacefully and the right to wear political or religious garb that is not an incitement is fundamental to a free society. If and when PROTESTERS cross the red line then those individuals who do so, must bear criminal or civil responsibility. However to prevent citizens from demonstrating or from wearing clothing that symbolizes a movement, because it might lead to their crossing that line is undemocratic.