Sunday, January 28, 2007

Hanoi Jane/ the new movie on the Rav

The Palm Beach Post has a headline that Jane Fonda was compelled to come out of silence on the Iraqi war.Indeed she said that.However there were no quotes around the word 'compelled',indicationg that this left wing newspaper wants its readers to accept her statement as fact,rather than rhetoric.
The anti-war demonstrations are certainly within the rights of citizens.Two things bother me.
We never see these people demonstrating againt anti-American rhetoric or terrorism.
By the way who pays for the buses,publicity,permits,audio systems?
Secondly,I can visualize these people had they lived in the times of the Civil War,WW I, WWII,and Korea with the benefit of cable TV and internet, screaming to Lincoln, Wilson,Roosevelt and Truman lets get out.!Too many GI's dead and wounded.
What is missing from these well -intentioned people ,as well as the Democrats is;What is the plan once we withdraw?
How do we handle Iran taking over Iraq,and threaten the rest of the Sunni Arab World.?
What about Turkey invading N Iraq to destroy the Kurds?
Or,Saudi Arabia entering the fray in support of the Sunnis?
Iranian missiles would be closer to Israel,if they enter Iraq-what should the US response be?
I don't believe we have done a good job in Iraq,especially in training a police-army force.Nor am I happy,that we have not forced Kuwait,Quatar, Saudi Arabia etc to bear the cost of civilian projects.However,an abrupt or even set withdrawal will be a major loss for our team, with unforeseen negative world-wide consequences.


We saw the new movie on the RAV-Rabbi Soloveichik- ZTL ,Lonely Man of Faith.It was written be a scholar and former classmate Rabbi Arnie Rothkopf-Rakefet.
To those who have met ,or learned from the Rav,or read of the Rav's life,it is a fascinating if not too long ( i hour 45 minutes)look into the history of this great towering figure in Jewish life.
However, the film does little to portay his humanity,warmth or human feelings,except one small vignette rergarding a student with cancer.
My main objection, is that it failed to place into perspective the battle between Modern Orthodoxy,Conservative ,Reform,R wing Orthodoxy and even the small left wing Orthodoxy.As a matter of fact, Rabbi Saul Berman,formerly of Edah,is featured on the film twice at least.
We do not walk away,with the understanding that the Rav held ,that it is better not to hear shofar,than to pray in a Conservative temple.
Likewise,there is no mention,that when he passed away that the Aguda,failed to mention the passing of a Torah giant. There are similarly many issues not addressed.
In summary, I have the feeling that the film is aimed toward the members of the Rabbinical Council-YU family.It succeeded in that arena.As far as the general Orthodox world,I think it fell short.
Nevertheless,kudos to Rabbi Rakefet for a yeomans effort and a job well done,to immortalize the Rav.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Manhattan Project for Energy /The shame of Israel

While the energy proposals of the President, are a step in the right direction,it did not go far enough.Of course a reduction of fuel consumption of 20% in 10 years is great,we need a broader vision and longer goals and objectives.
When our country was faced with an enemy that was developing atomic weapons,the Manhattan Project,focused all of our efforts, brainpower and resources to be the first to have such a weapon and win WWII.
Today we need such a project,so that in 20 years we will reduce our fossil fuel needs by 40% and in 30 years by another 10%.
Today America uses 140 billion gallons of gas for autos.Under the Presidents plan by 2017 we will need 35 billion gallons of ethanol.However, the technology and the corn are not there for such a goal.
However if Brazil can adapt with new technologies, so can we.
We need to increase nuclear power,wind technology,the use of coal in an environmentally safe manner,solar energy as well as adapting new methods of battery powered autos.
The SUV should be severely taxed if it cannot meet fuel standards.We should not accept average miles per gallon by manufacturer,but each model must meet a minimum standard.
We must increase off-shore drilling,and ANWAR exploration.It is time for the Dems to stop with this phony ecological prevention of Alaskan oil.All previous Alaskan drillings,have been ecologically neutral or positve.The same goes for windmill groupings,that have been vetoed,because they block the view of fancy people on the seafront.
If America,could become energy independent,the world and of course the middle-east would change forever for the better.
Such a goal must be our number one priority after defeating world terrorism-and they are related.


The impending indictment of President Katsav, is a great chilul hashem-a desecration of our way of life.So too are the multiple criminal investigations of PM Olmert.
Today Shimon Peres,a candidate to succeed Katsav says he knew about the alleged sexual crimes years ago-but said nothing.He is guilty of failing to live up to his obligations to prevent criminality and shame on the part of Israel's leaders.
It is interesting,that Peres who I personally heard attack and make fun of the orthodox parties,now claims to have the backing of Shas for the new position.
Politics is so exciting,because unlike a novel, you never know the twists and turns -for truth is stranger.....

Monday, January 22, 2007

A B+ in Minyan

When I was in Yeshiva College,daily minyan was mandatory.Many students,who studied late missed many a session.The dorm counselors,would come and knock on your door,or even come in to make sure you were awake.
In my room,we developed a trick of placing a wire hanger around the inner lock,so that the counselors key could not turn,and would break in the cylinder.
Today as a mature person,I realize the importance of public prayer.
It was thus sad to read in the Commentator (Yeshiva College student newspaper) that the Mechina (?) Program,would assign one college credit for minyan attendance. If you do not show,your GPA will fall.
Such heavy handedness,will affect negatively on the religious life of some of these young people;
After reading this weeks New Yorker magazine with its sick violently anti-orthodox article by a young man,(classmate of my sons) who went astray from religion,we have to realize how fragile is the psyche of some individuals.Sadly, it appears he did not complete his psychiatric sessions that he says he began.
Why he rebelled against G-D I CANNOT SAY.
However,forcing prayer down someones throat is not the proper method.But then again,maybe they don't belong in Yeshiva University?
Nevertheless, there are more pedagogically sound methods to highlight the importance of Minyan attendance than assigning a grade for prayer.
By the way any extra credit for Kavanah? (SERIOUSNESS IN PRAYER).

Friday, January 19, 2007

Obama-let us take him seriously

I RECALL THE DAY I FIRST HEARD OF OBAMA(rhymes with Osama).It was at the Democratic Convention two years ago on CNN ,when this unopposed State Senator(running for the US SENATE)was introduced as a potential future Pres candidate.
To that point he was not even elected!
Here we are 2 years later,and the media have placed this man on such a pedestal that he is already breathing down Hillary's neck.We know he is a real phenomonom ,because today I recieved an E-mail from a friend,advising people to look at his Islamic backgroud.Today also,I heard Rush Limbaugh talk about the Clinton team raising the same issue.
I do not trust Obama==
He has no record
He has shown no leadership on issues
We do not Know where he stands on issue after issue-and for us that includes the safety and security of Israel-Has he ever visited?

Whether he is electable is not my concern -let the Dem pros worry about that.
But,could our greatest nitemare as Pres become a reality-that is my concern.
At present he is fluff-without real substance-with the same type of support that Dean and Lamont had.
But let us keep our eyes and ears prepared to examine under a microscope what he says ,proposes, and what he doesn't say.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

the Rice-Livni plan

On Sept. 20 1995, I testified before the House Committee on International.Noting that AIPAC supported the Spector-Shelby-Lowey amendments,that linked funding to the PA to their performance,I advocated that all US funds appropriated for the PA, be placed in escrow until the PA met its obligations.Subsequently the Congress was on record warning the PA to avoid a unilateral declaration of statehood.
Since the 1993 Oslo failure,the various plans (Zinni etc ) and the meetings of Netanyahu with Clinton Arafat and Abbas,as well as the Quartets Road Map, nothing has changed.There has been a zero effort by the PA, as Israel withdraws from Gaza,and makes concession after concession.
Before the road map was to proceed, the PA was to disarm the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terrorists- Results=0
Israel was to stop building new settlements-but stated clearly that existing major population centers such as Maale Adumim would be built within the existing borders.They have kept to this,but have allowed the US to push them around in this regard.
Now, suddenly the US and Livni are pushing Abbas to accept a State with temporary borders.No more end to terrorism-no more agreement on water,Jerusalem or refugees.Plain old capitulation.-Abbas turned them down-because he fears the borders will be permanent.In additiion,he holds that the RIGHT OF RETURN is non-negotiable-a code for the end of Israel.

I personally do not subscribe to the idea,that a Palestinian State is in Israel's best interest.
Such a state ,cannot be economically viable.
Its credo will always be the destruction of Israel.
Once it is a State,everytime Israel goes into Gaza to arrest terrorists,there will be a Security Council meeting.We have not had A SINGLE DAY OF QUIET OR PEACE without rockets since the Olmert disengagement.Now the rockets are getting more powerful and deadly.
The Rice plan is a disaster in the making-only for the purpose of appeasing the Arab nations.Who will stop the independent State of Palestine from buying Russian missile systems that would endanger Israeli airspace-civilian and military.
Abbas is no different than Arafat except he wears a Brooks Bros.suit.

The resignatiion of the Chief of Staff of the IDF, long overdue should be followed by Olmert and Peretz following in their footsteps. The criminal investigation(S) against Olmert and his incompetence as a leader should serve as a reminder to the knesset leadership that it is time to place loyalty to country over party and Volvo.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Charlie for Pres?/Castro and his sick belly

I had a good laugh today while on the treadmill.Mayor Bloomberg announced his hope that Cong Charlie Rangel would run for President.I wonder what he wants from old Charlie?

I have said all along to my friends, that if Castro did not have cancer,then he most probably had a perforated( ruptured) diverticulitis =presumably of the Sigmoid Colon.
Often times,in such VIPS and doctors families,surgeons are slow to operate in diverticulitis and in acute appendicitis.The result is severe peritonitis,and major complications.
Probably,they removed (resected) the diseased area, but because of the pus,etc,did not reattach the bowel but performed a temporary colostomy.
The clinical course as we see it up to now,is consistent with the complications in the wound and within the abdomen.Without knowing more of the facts ,we can only say that even with the best of facilities the prognosis is guarded.

This past shabbat, the Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future,sent four Stern College and four Yeshiva College students to the Boynton Beach ashkenazic synagogue,Anshei Chesed.I was pleased to be invited to speak Fri nite at the oneg,where 60 members and friends attended.The shul is growing and that is a plus for the community.


There is much to write about the madness of the Israeli-US approach to Palstinian statehood.Hopefully will write about that tomorrow.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

"Sacrifice" is missing/The forward article

President Bush has asked for about 97,000 additional slots for the Army and Marines.The concept is fine,the AMOUNT INADEQUATE.
We are at war-the feelings of 9/11 have dissipated.Yet every day forces are at work overtly and covertly to destroy us and our way of life.
What has been missing,is the lack of leadership by our heads of government to explain to Americans what is at stake.No one asks us for a sense of sacrifice.To the contrary,the war in Iraq is an abstract event that the media turns into a numbers game-how many died on a given day.But our everyday life goes on without missing a beat.
As we circle the globe,we realize from N. Korea,Africa,Pakistan and Afghanistan,the Middle East Europe and Central America we must be prepared for a nuclear and a terrorist war on many fronts.Each potential conflict requires different types of responses.
America today even with the war,spends only 4% of GNP on defense.In the Vietnam era it was 8% and during WWII double that.
Since only 25% of the military are combat soldiers,one should question the numbers requested as to long range adequacy.


I was happy to read that Sen Tim Johnson was moved out of the ICU to a rehab type of unit.He is a fine and gentle person,and a good friend of our community.We wish him continued improvement in his health.


The headlines in the Forward this week( being pushed out) are way out of line.
Rabbi Weinreb was hired for a specific purpose in 2001.To bring a sense of calm and healing to a fractured organization in light of the Lanner scandel was his task.He performed admirably.
Rabbi Weinreb,now (I believe)68,is a pulpit Rabbi and psychologist by profession.Despite no previous administrative or organizational experience was the right man at the right time.His contract was I believe renewed once,and he has 18 months to go to complete his contract and allow time for his successor to learn the ropes under his guidance.
The POST_LANNER era is over.and it is time to concentrate on a vision for the future.
I can write these words,because I have no role in the decisions to retire him or in choosing a successor.One of the sad parts of the Union in recent years has been a total avoidance of a consultative process with former Presidents.I get my news from the Forward like everyone else.
Therefore when people write to that there is a hidden agenda ,or its the left/center vs right etc,they are way off base.
This is leadership planning for the future .They would be derelict if they did not.
One final word.As someone who retired from surgery at an early age,and saw my partners before me do likewise,I have noted that many Rabbis resist coming to the same conclusions .Business, many law firms,industry have retirement ages.Jewish organizations should do likewise.This is especially true,when they are willing to provide positions and financial packages commensurate with a persons skills and experience,and yet at the same time allow fresh leadership to blossom at the helm.
The Union as every org.needs vision and administrative talent as they prepare to meet the challenges of the next decades.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cargo Inspections /Iraq-Where are we heading?

One of my regular readers called me angrily accusing me of being a LIBERAL because I supported the Democratic bill on 100% inspection of all air and sea cargoes.He claims it will bring our commerce to a halt,as we are unable to meet the goals of the legislation.
I believe,that if the pressure is on,then industy will respond and develop over the next five years the proper paraphenalia for the job.
In addition,the rest of the world will join us ,and create partnerships,so that cargoes headed for the US will be inspected by DOT and other agencies at the port of origin.We have such examples in Canada,where you go through Immigration and Customs before you get on the plane to return to the US.

I have no idea if the Bush plan will succed.Not because of our troops failing,but because the enemy and Maliki-the locals will not put politics aside and work together.
I recall reading the history of the Civil War,and the pressures on Lincoln.He went through a slew of Generals,until victory was achieved.
They must disarm the Sadr militia as step one.
What steps need to be taken to bring order and success to the Iraqi police force.?After all, at this point we should have seen some results.
Despite Baker,the President never mentioned Israel-except to say that we will be sending Patrriot missiles to the area,and work with friends to prevent Iran from nuclear success.I assume both are codewords for Israel.
At the end of the day,Bush will proceed,Kennedy will get red in his reddened cheeks,and Kerry will continue to fight the last election.
Obviously how this turns out will affect the '08 elections.So far we see no Profiles in Courage among the Dem canmdidates,who watch the daily polls,and the pressures of the far left that helped defeat Joe Lieberman in the primary,but went down to defeat in Nov. As I said 2 days ago,they can easily overplay their hand.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

pizza for pesos/The 100 hour blitz /Olmert sees the light

The controversy over the Texas pizza parlors in latino areas that accept pesos in lieu of dollars is interesting.It is true ,that in most countries shopkeepers will accept dollars as payment in lieu of local currency.Of course the dollar is the dollar,and the peso is not in that category.
My problem is not with a pizza parlor that manages to get on cable TV.Rather,it is symptomatic of immigrants (primarily illegal) who are not accepting our language and culture.It is commonplace in S. Florida, to hear children of all age converse in Spanish in the supermarket.Yes it might be difficult for elderly individuals to learn a new language.However, we should insist that children learn and become proficient in English .
No English-No drivers license.
English must be designated by legislation to be the one and only official language of our country.


The Democrats in the House are off to a good start with their 100 hour marathon.In truth the ethics legislation was weak-because it addressed the lobbyist,rather than the responsibilities of the Members.
Giving off yesterday for a college football game,certainly sends the wrong message to Americans about work and responsibility.
The need to screen all sea and air cargo is a no-brainer.Why the President and the last Congress could not agree on that is beyond me.
Similarly,stem cell research is a must on the agenda for public health research.The objections of the Vatican and Christian fundamentalists,must not prevent good medical science from proceeding in an ethical manner.
The Jewish religion,supports stem cell research as consistent with Jewish Medical Ethics.

On the other hand the vicious attacks on the Pres. regarding funding for troops in Iraq,can backfire on the Dems.We should allow the Pres. to speak and present his point of view.If the Dems want Cindy Sheehan to be their voice on television,the public will not support such non-patriotic outbursts.


It is a long plane ride from Tel Aviv to Bejing.I guess PM Olmert had a long time to think--and think.
His statement in China, that unilateral Israeli actions,have been counterproductive is right on target (GAZA and LEBANON).
He should make some more reservations for an-around-the world trip.-perhaps his head would stay cleared!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A smoking Pres?/ Some thoughts on Washington/ Iran

It was interesting to read that Obama was playing with drugs early on.However more suprising is the fact that he currently smokes cigarettes.America it appears has never elected a cigarette smoker.In todays health climate, it portrays the wrong message to our youth,and raises questions about his ability to overcome such a terrible habit.


The Wall Street Journal had a little page one blurb that Sen Tim Johnson's physicians say it will be months before they can evaluate brain damage.
Explanation-they are not telling us if he is off the respirator etc.If he were out of bed doing rehab,they would happily announce it.
Constitutionally as long as he lives and doesn't resign he keeps his seat.Not great representation for the people of S.D.,but it prevents a Republican Gov. from appointing a Republican and turning the whole Senate upside down.


The Cindy Sheehan mob outburst at a Democratic press conference ,should give the Dem leadership some pause as to the volatility of the far left.
When Pres Bush mentioned a "surge" in troop strength Sen Reid said he might approve depending upon other factors..length of stay etc.But yesterdays Reid -Pelosi letter to the President did not even wait for the Presidents announcement before attacking it.


It is hardly a secret that Israel(like every country) prepares its military for any future conflict.For Israel it means destroying the nuclear facilities in Iran.So,it is not suprising that the (UK) Suday Times reports that Israel has such plans ready to go and has been practicing parts of the operation.
However,there is no reason to believe that an immediate attack is imminent,especially since it appears that the Iranian effort is moving slower than anticipated.It will take U.S. cooperation should it ever become necessary.In addition the American public would demand to be shown that diplomatic,political and economic efforts have failed,and the threat to us emergent.Of course the UN sanction are ridiculously weak and ineffective.
In addition the Isreali public is hardly ready for another war so soon after Lebanon.An attack on Iran,would have much greater serious impact on Israel,than the destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor.
The positioning of another US battle group together with increased British Persian Gulf naval power hopefully (but probably not)will make the message clear to the Iranians that they are playing with fire.
In the end ,Israel might have to go it alone,and hopefully they will by then have a more solid political-military leadership in place.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Morality/ Populism and the Anti-Semites are at it again

Jesse Jackson attacked the hanging of Sadam,and commented on the sinking morale position of the U.S.! Without answering the Good Rev., the picture of him with Al Sharpton and Michael Jackson in back of the coffin of another Tzadik(righteous person) James Brown, says it all.


Sen. (one-term) John Edwards plan to run a populist campaign on the theme of dividing Americans by haves and have-nots is bound to fall short.Class warfare sounds great on a podium, but most Americans are proud of the American dream, and realize that although there are inequities in pay and health care, we need not throw out the baby with the bath water.
Americans for the most part, are prepared to work hard and hopefully advance economically.
The goal-become part of the HAVES.

The greatest lie that is being spread in the world of diplomacy and media, is that the core issue in the world,is the Palestinian-Israeli battle.Solve that,and all the wars,conflicts and clashes will melt,as the Arab-Persian-Turkish world will dance in the streets,for world peace is about to become a reality.
Such niave ,immature and unsophisticated thoughts are being pushed wherever "thinking people" communicate.
This months Foreign Affairs magazine,has a thoughtful pair of articles on terrorism and Iraq.Both,one indirectly by Lee Kuan Yew former Prime Minister of Singapore ,and the other by Dominique Moisi of the Institut Francais de Relations Internationales in Paris repeat the myth of the centrality of this conflict to Middle East conflicts.
Listen to Moisi "Israel is the West sorrouded by the culture of humiliation and dreaming of escape from a dangerous region,and reentry into a culture of hope."
I guess that describes Iran and the bomb,Hamas and Hezbollah as well as the entire culture of religious fundamentalism.I imagine if there were no more Israel,the ME would be proserous.productive and peaceful(with oil at $ 20 per barrel)
Joining the same chorus is the incoming Sec-General of the UN Ban K Moon who continues the line of Kofi.
We must be appreciative and supportive that our President has rejected similar thoughts from the Baker SURRENDER Study Group.