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Ask Any Eight-Year Old

7 Heshvan 5773 – October 22, 2012
Give this week’s Torah portion, “Lech Lecha,” to an eight-year old to read, ask him where God wants the Jewish People to live and he will answer “the Land of Israel” right away. Give it to a gentile to read and ask him the same question. “The Land of Israel” he will answer without batting an eye. Give it to a Jew in the Diaspora and ask him the same question, and you’ll get a dozen different answers.

A Friendly Letter – a Glimmer of Hope

Just when you think you have everything pretty much figured out in the Middle East, someone throws you a curve. At least that’s what happened to me last week. In what has to be the most surprising development thus far in the so called Arab Spring - Egypt’s new freely elected President, Mohammed Morsi, has sent a friendly letter to Israeli President Shimon Peres on the occasion of the exchange of ambassadors.

Obama’s Last Stand

Democrats do not have a great track record in the White House. The number of Democratic presidents who have won second terms is small and becomes much smaller with the second half of the 20th Century. Unlike Congressional shifts which reflect regional politics more than a national referendum, the Presidency is a referendum on the usages of the nearly unlimited power of its holder.
Prof. Cyril Karabus

The Ongoing Nightmare of the Jailed Doctor in the UAE

It's a news story that directly affects just one man, but the implications of what is being done to Prof. Cyril Karabus are horrific, and of particular note to air travelers planning to fly Qantas at some future time. Recently, Karabus has been released on bail, but cannot leave the UAE as his passport has been confiscated.

The October Non-Surprise: Secret Talks

In my last blog, I called attention to a report that the US and Iran had made a secret agreement to end sanctions in return for a halt or pause in uranium enrichment. I suggested that this could be an “October Surprise:” the Obama campaign could claim that the President’s policy of partial sanctions and “tough diplomacy” had forced the Iranians to back down from their march toward nuclear weapons.

Weekly Israeli Poll Avg: Likud on Top with 28 Seats

Jeremy Saltan's combined weekly poll average from Oct 14-20 shows the Likud with 28 seats, down from the prior week's average of 29 seats, Kadima remains at 6, and Yisrael Beitenu is down to just about 13 seats.
Ruins of an ancient synagogue in Shiloh

Judea as ‘Cradle of Jewish Civilization’ in The Financial Times

6 Heshvan 5773 – October 21, 2012
A writer in the Financial Times said Judea and Samaria was the cradle of Jewish civilization, even as he lamented the slow death of the two-state solution.

Postcard from Israel: The Haifa Flea Market

Definitely not on the standard list of tourist destinations in Israel, and less well-known than its counterpart in Yaffo (Jaffa), the flea market in down-town Haifa is well worth a visit whether you’re buying or just browsing. The market is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and of course it is best to get there as early as possible – with well-honed haggling skills!

Of Apples and Trees and Rabbis

I never liked comedienne Sarah Silverman. I never thought she was all that funny. Her humor is mostly vulgar and designed to shock people into laughing. Most comedians will tell you that if the only way you can make people laugh is with vulgar jokes, then you’re not really much of a comedian. But I digress. What upsets me the most about her is her very open self-identification as a Jew. Normally when successful people tout their Judaism, it makes me proud. But when she does it – it is an embarrassment. In fact I wish she would just change her name… or go away altogether.

A Canyon So Deep: Israel’s Red Canyon

The entire walk through the canyon lasts about an hour - you walk through it, sliding down in some locations, squeezing between rocks in others. Then, you have a choice - this way back to the parking lot; that way to go deeper into the canyon. The sun was setting and the colors were amazing; as the sun touched the mountains, the red stone deepened and the golden sons glistened. We turned back to the parking lot because I didn't want to be out there in the dark.

Will Obama Soon Announce ‘Peace in Our Time’?

Can we expect an October Surprise this year? We may already have one brewing. A former CIA operative calling himself “Reza Khalili” and claiming to have been an agent inside the Iranian Revolutionary Guards organization, who has previously made skeptically-received claims that Iran had already produced 90% enriched uranium, is now saying that the Obama Administration has struck a deal with the Iranian regime that will shortly be announced:
Terrorist Hanadi Jaradat

Palestine Committe of Arab Lawyers Union Honors Attorney Who Murdered Children

One of the world's respected associations of lawyers has just made a special award in honor of one of its deceased members. Her career was not long. But it was not the quality of her legal work that earned her the award. She received it for killing 21 civilians and injuring 50 in a Haifa restaurant. The award about which we are writing was presented in the form of a plaque to the family of Hanadi Jaradat, formerly from Jenin in the Palestinian Authority territory, "on the sweet anniversary of her martyrdom."

The Limits of Government Power

3 Heshvan 5773 – October 19, 2012
Modern government is fixated on depth of control over people. It plots to control every aspect of their lives with the goal of creating a completely harmonious whole. Technology has fed the illusion that such control has become more feasible than ever allowing for the rise of truly scientific government. This illusion is destroying the nation-states of modern civilization by overburdening them with massive governments flailing for control and destroying their economies in order to achieve that control.

Sarah Silverman is Not to Blame

3 Heshvan 5773 – October 18, 2012
To be perfectly honest, until yesterday, I had never heard of Sarah Silverman. I never saw a photo or a video of her; I never heard her jokes, nothing. While a great deal of junk American culture seeps into the Land of Israel, still we are sheltered from much of it, thank G-d, and I never heard her name mentioned in Israel at all. Until yesterday, when to my surprise and chagrin, I saw the immodest photo of her on the homepage of The Jewish Press, in her sleeveless top and her butt sticking into the air. Gevalt! Reading on about the silly fuss, I was further chagrined

Was ‘Internet Ban’ an Authoritative Decree of Torah Sages, or Just Baloney?

OK. The title is a bit extreme. But at least I have your attention. Last May - one will recall – there was a giant Asifa – a gathering of tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews dealing with the dangers of the internet. Although it was billed as a way to properly use the internet, it was ultimately about trashing it and forbidding its use altogether accept for livelihood purposes. And even then - only with filters and only outside the house.
George H.W. Buas, Ross Perot, Bill Clinton

The End of the American Presidency

The American presidency came to an end on October 15, 1992 during a Town Hall debate between Bush I, Ross Perot and Bill Clinton. The stage of the Town Hall seemed more like a place for Phil Donahue or Sally Jesse Raphael to strut around, biting their lips, and dragging out tawdry tales for audience applause, than for three presidential candidates to discuss the future of the country.
Newly released Palestinian prisoners are welcomed in the town of Ramallah, Dec. 18, 2011.

Yediot: ‘Dozens of Terrorists Released in Shalit Deal Arrested by Shin Bet During Past...

Tomorrow, Thursday, October 18, marks one year since the Shalit deal when Israel received back the kidnapped hostage soldier, Gilad Shalit, and freed more than a thousand convicted terrorists, many of them killers of Israeli civilians. Yediot Aharonot carried a report today that is translated to English and excerpted below. It reveals some aspects of the transaction that, as far as we can tell, have gotten little to no coverage in other parts of the Israeli media.

So What Did Obama Call the Benghazi Attack?

Since the debate there's been a lot of analysis as to whether the President designated the attack on the U.S. embassy in Bengahzi, Libya, an act of terrorism. The President indeed used the term "act of terror" the next day but it wasn't clear if he was talking about that attack or 9-11. For the next week administration officials described the attacks as part of a protest-riot against the the U.S. over the "Innocence of Muslims" video which got out of hand.

Begin Told Meet the Press: Partition was Illegal

In 1948, Menachem Begin visit the U.S. and appeared on Meet the Press, telling its host that not only was partition illegal but so was severing today's Jordan from the Jewish National Home.

Is Half a Loaf Really Better than No Loaf?

2 Heshvan 5773 – October 17, 2012
I do not question Rabbi Zev Farber’s sincerity. I even applaud his resolve to right what he sees to be wrong in the way we practice Judaism today. But I do not agree with him at all on the way to do it. In a recent article on Morethodoxy, Rabbi Farber suggests that we change the paradigm with respect to a woman’s role in Judaism. His contention is that women are (at best) inadvertently ignored and mistreated vis-à-vis their public religious personae. Their current place in the synagogue is where this is mostly felt.

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