Sunday, November 27, 2005

KADIMAH 11/27/05

In pure political terms PM Sharon has certainly pulled off the “play of the month.” If an election were held today, it appears that the momentum and excitement are on his side and he would be victorious.
Four months can be a lifetime in politics and history has shown that the initial buzz usually wears off in time. Sharon really doesn’t care if his party is around in four years. He is determined to be the PM who created the final boundaries of the State as well as a state of normalcy with its Palestinian neighbors.
The obvious problem is not in his intentions,which seem to encompass a united indivisible Jerusalem,and the major settlement blocs with Maale Adumim connected to Jerusalem (E-1).Rather it the fact that the Europeans ,and the Americans as well as the UN and surely the Arab world are not prepared to accept a Palestinian State without a divided Jerusalem. Nor do we see any diminution in incitement and terror attempts. The battle between Islam and the Palestinians with Israel is primarily one that deals not with territory, but rather is existential in nature. Nothing to date has changed that perception.
The reality appears that despite Mr Sharon’s tough talk and his relationship with President Bush,we see no evidence that when push comes to shove he is able to withstand American pressure.The recent Rice-Mofaz talks on the border crossings. found Israel yielding on major security issues. There is no reason to believe that even further major withdrawals from the settlements would soften world opposition to Israel on Jerusalem. In addition, while President Bush has articulated that the so-called “right of return” of Palestinians can only be to Palestine and not Israel, we must be mindful that probable final stage negotiations(if they ever occur-and there is disarmament of the terror groups) would more than likely take place under the aegis of a new American administration post Bush. Who would predict what new pressures would be placed on Israel by a new President.? American policy under every President has never accepted Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem (to wit the American consulate in Jerusalem for the arabs,and the embassy in Tel Aviv).
In the meantime, there is a new spirit in Labor and bedlam in Likud. It will certainly be an interesting period between now and the induction of a new government.

I am totally confused as to the silence of Orthodox leaders to the talks and proclamations of Reform President Eric Yoffe

I was asked why I was certain that WMD were in Syria when no one talks about it. I should have really said that prior to the American invasion there were reportedly massive truck movements from Baghdad to Damascus .Gold ,dollars, elements of the WMD research program were speculated on.
I asked Ambassador John Bolton at a small meeting in his Waldorf suite-before he became UN Ambassador whether the weapons we were looking for could be in Syria. ?
Since I received a non-committal answer, my personal suspicions were raised.
In truth I have no independent knowledge, and I misspoke.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


The latest edition of the Commentator is out. It contains two op-eds on Torah Umadda.One is by Yechiel Robinson and the other is the one I submitted a few weeks ago.

Monday, November 21, 2005


It is sad to see the attacks on President Bush based upon false charges that we were lead into war under false pretenses. In fact President Clinton, the Congress, most of our allies and experts believed that Iraq maintained WMD in her arsenal. Personally I believe that these weapons are buried in the Bekka Valley in Syria..
Not that every administration decision was in retrospect correct. They misjudged the fighting ability of the Iraqi Army that simply disintegrated. Probably we should have maintained the Army for law and order.We did not properly foresee the insurgency.
Nevertheless the overall effects have been positive,and we are making progress. Two elections in Iraq, in addition to Libya giving up their nuclear programs are a direct result of the war. I don’t believe we will have a 100% friendly pro-American government in Iraq at the end of the process, but it is a start toward some form of democracy,Saddam is gone and there is no threat of WMD, now, or in the future..
Of course losing over 2000 GI’s is terrible, but war has its consequences. We lost over 4000 soldiers in one day at Iwo Jima.What American is not proud of that portrait of the flag raising-but it came at a price. Freedom always has a price .
Having served in Vietnam, I know full well the anguish of families who have lost loved ones. But again that is the burden that we bear to protect America.
The errors of failing to combat and understand Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism since our Embassy was captured by the Iranians under the impotency of Pres Carter has come home to haunt us.
We cannot afford to lose, for the effects of such a loss will be felt by each of us in this country.


The more I read of the legal decisions of Judge Sam Alito Jr the happier I become with his choice. The efforts to portray him as an ideologue will surely fail.His appreciation of the right of religious expression and activities in the public arena are certainly important to our community. Sadly the Reform Movement has come out against his nomination.That alone is a reason to support him.
The Reform bienniel convention featured Eric Yoffe their President comparing the "religious right" of all faiths to the anti-gay policies of Hitler.He has forgotten that homosexuality is an "abomination" according to the Torah.While we must be tolerant of the individuals,we must never accept or condone their activities.
But then again I think ,of the old Reform meetings and graduations where they purposely served non-kosher,to illustrate that any commononality with Halachah and Jewish law on their part is purely coincidental.


The decision to break up the status quo in Israel and move to new elections is probably too complicated to draw instant conclusions about the future .The role of Shimon Peres, and the battle for Likud leader in addition to the cast of desertions from Likud will have to play out. The possible merger of the NRP and the right wing parties could also have a significant effect, as would a possible return to a leadership role of Arye Deri of Shas. He is barred by the terms of his conviction from serving at this time in the Knesset.
It is hard to imagine a social-economic policy that Sharon could entice the new Labor leader Peretz with,to allow him to create a Sharon-Labor post-election coalition.

Many people have pointed out to me the presence of Torah Umadda emblem on most Y.U. ads. This week however an ad in the Jewish Press for a Westinghouse Award had two sets of flames without TU.
By the administration not announcing a clear policy it reminds me of the Commentator editorial when I was a student

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Yechiel Robinson tried to send out a mass e-mail to YC students asking them to sign the TU petition.He was turned down by the office of Communications and Public Affairs ,after a meeting there with Ms Hedy Shulman.
Those that want to protest can e-mail
We will await reaction to the Commentator articles before moving onto the next phase.Among the suggestions:
A web-site
Ads in the Jewish Week etc
Caps and T-shirts with Preserve TU
Sending e-mails to every graduate
More and more individuals are calling me and stopping me to give chizuk.
NOT ONE person has criticized our efforts to my face.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


The Nov 10 cover of the Baltimore Jewish Times is a update on President Richard Joel. He is quoted as saying that “why not use both slogans?” referring to the flames with “Wisdom through Knowledge” and Torah U Madda with the shield.
I have no problem with that approach were it to be applied consistently. Although I have pointed out the lack of distinctiveness of the flames and the total non-Jewish universal feel-good nature of the motto Wisdom---

Page 10 of today’s Jewish Week has a ¼ page ad by YU honoring finalists in the Westinghouse competition==TWO FLAMES ; 0 for Torah U Madda
Interestingly immediately underneath this ad is a ¼ page ad for Hillel—SURPRISE-the flames are here too.( how similar!)

Page 30 an ad for the YU H.S. for Girls—ONE FLAME ---- 0- TU

Open up the YU web site and you are greeted with smiling students and the Flame but no TU. On the side is a box where you can find out about the Yeshiva College 75th Anniversary Dinner. In the box is a flame and no TU.

Contrary to what President Joel calls an “ill-informed” campaign ,I believe we have sensitized the Administration to the issues. Unfortunately, up to now they are not following their own directives. and seem to be conducting a random insertion of TU, probably assuming the controversy will die down.
As I have previously noted ,it’s not over yet !
It is quite interesting that polls in Israel seem to indicate that in the next general election should Sharon lead his party, the number two party would be a combined NRP-National Union right wing slate. Mr. Peretz who should be familiar to us as the originator of ill-timed general strikes is a classic left wing Socialist. I had the opportunity last year of bringing him before my group on our Israel mission. Should that occur ,combined with the weakness of the Bush team, and the incompetence of the Abbas PA, we should see less political/diplomatic pressure on Israel. A combined Likud-right wing coalition, should be able to finish the security fence, and complete the Maale Adumim -Jerusalem axis which is vital for security.

Congratulations to Nathan Diament on being chosen as one of Americas top 50 Jews by the Forward newspaper. Having been chosen to the number two slot on that list during my OU Presidency, I am extremely proud of Nathan and the IPA for their work on behalf of the klal. His appointment, the creation of the IPA ,the opening of a Washington office and the College Congressional Internship Program are areas that form a major part of my administrations record.
It is a well deserved honor and it merely recognizes the outstanding job he is doing .

Monday, November 07, 2005


I returned this morning from Israel, where I attended the Board of Governors meeting of the Jewish Agency. Over the next few days I will present in this space at least two reports on the meetings-the first a highly favorable one on the Unity Committee which oversees the Conversion issues as they inter-relate between the Army, the Conversion Institute, the Conversion Courts and the Jewish Agency-government role. Secondly I will talk about the diminishing fiscal support the Agency is receiving and its future, from my perspective.
Many individuals in Israel approached me to offer support on the Torah Umadda issue. One a leading member of the Federation world , a well known liberal,whose family are major YU supporters, and who was about two years behind me at Yeshiva College has always disagreed with me on political issues.On this however he stated “ I totally support you-It is as if Israel would ban Hatikvah as its anthem.”
But a positive thing has occurred in the last week or two,Y.U. mail and many ads for various divisions of YU now have the Torah Umadda emblem attached.On one mail solicitation my wife received the TORAH U MADDA emblem was even on the return envelope immediately adjacent to the return address.
However in the Nov 4th Jewish Week,despite three ads with both the flames and the emblem ,on page eight there is no Torah Umadda in the ad for the Boys H.S.:It does have two sets of flames!
It appears that there is no coherent policy in this regard, which I discuss in my future op-ed in the next Commentator.
Immediately before Yom Kippur ,I received a call from President Richard Joel asking to meet with me.We scheduled the meeting for Tues. Nov. 8. I felt I should not comment on it publicly until after the meeting. However today the meeting was postponed with no date set for a get-together.
If the Torah Umadda emblem stays and a coherent policy enunciated, then I have accomplished much..
In truth I do not know whether the emblem will be permanently and universally kept in its position of honor, nor even its current status in the Law and Medical schools, etc. In the meantime my op-ed which was written prior to Yom Tov is slated for the Commentator, which I assume will come out any day .
It appears that this is an evolving response on the part of the administration.