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October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln’

What is the Link between 17th of Tammuz, July 4th and Lincoln?

Friday, July 5th, 2013

A rabbi delivering a Shabbat sermon on the coincidental dates of the 17th of Tammuz and the Fourth of July in 1863 used the phrase “four score and seven years ago” before Abraham Lincoln made it famous, according to an historian.

British Prof. Marc Saperstein, who is a visiting professor of Judaic Studies at Yale, wrote in the Huffington Post  Wednesday that Rabbi Sabato Morais delivered his message in Philadelphia after the Battle of Gettysburg was fought but before its outcome was known.

“His sermon contains a phrase that might well have influenced the most celebrated speech in American history,” according to Prof. Saperstein.

The Fourth of July usually falls during the three-week period when Jews mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples. On an average of about once every 10 years or so, Independence Day falls on the first day of the three weeks, the Fast Day of the 17th day of Tammuz and which also was on the Sabbath in 1863.

Without knowing whether the Confederate army had won in Gettysburg , a victory that would have allowed it to threaten Philadelphia, Rabbi Morais said in his sermon that he was asked to refer to Independence Day.

However, since it was the 17th day of Tammuz, even though the fast is postponed because of the Sabbath, Rabbi Morais explained he could not deliver an encouraging address that was recommended by the Union League. It suggested that clergy quote the uplifting verse form Leviticus that is inscribe on the Liberty Bell: “”Proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

Instead, the rabbi chose the lament from King Hezekiah in Isaiah, “This is a day of trouble, of rebuke, and derision,” which he also meant as a reference to the Battle of Gettysburg before knowing the Union forces had won.

Rabbi Morais made sure to refer to Independence Day, 87 years after the United States was founded. “’I am not indifferent, my dear friends, to the event, which four score and seven years ago, brought to this new world light and joy,” he said in his sermon.

The King James translation of Psalms 90:10 translates a Hebrew in the psalm as “threescore and ten.”

Prof. Saperstein  explained that when Abraham Lincoln spoke to a small group of people three days later, he said that it was “eighty odd years” since the founding of the United States.

The professor wrote,  “Needless to say, some three months later, for the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery, Abraham Lincoln elevated the level of his discourse from ‘eighty odd years’ to “four score and seven years, our fathers brought forth to this continent,” possibly borrowing from the published text by the Philadelphia Sephardic preacher who, without knowing it, may have made a lasting contribution to American rhetorical history.”

Abbas’ Gift to US: A ‘Childish” Portrait of Obama and Lincoln

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas gave visiting President Barack Obama a portrait of his guest with Abraham Lincoln, the quality of which was panned in a Tweet published by the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency.

“Oh. My. Lord what is that gift Abbas just gave Obama? Is that a painting of Obama and Lincoln? Looks like a 5-yr-old drew it,” stated the Tweet.

As Obama and Abbas talked in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority police fought off demonstrators who tried to break through five rows of armed security officers.

Lincoln as a Bleeding Heart Peacenik?

Monday, March 11th, 2013

An interesting trend has emerged in recent weeks. The Israeli Left, along with most of the world’s pseudo-intellectual classes, has suddenly discovered Abraham Lincoln, and is proclaiming him an honorary member of “Peace Now.” Obviously it is thanks to the new Hollywood movie. Columnists in the Israeli media are claiming that Israel needs to follow the ethical leadership of Lincoln. Just as Lincoln freed the slaves, or so their mantra goes, so Israel must “free” the Palestinians from “occupation.”

The Israeli Left has embraced Lincoln because it is convinced that, if Lincoln is regarded as a moral champion, identification with Lincoln must clearly lead one to support the political agenda of the Israeli Left. First and foremost this would mean supporting Palestinian demands and “resistance.”

So what should we make of this new “Lincoln as Leftist Pro-Palestinian” campaign?

Well, even someone with only the shallowest familiarity with American history would know that the two most important principles represented by Lincoln would make him for all intents and purposes the ethical analogue of the Jewish settler leaders in Judea and Samaria, and not a Peace Now whiner.

Lincoln fought the American Civil War first and foremost in to order to prevent the partition or division of his homeland, and he was fully prepared to use massive military force to achieve this goal. Lincoln was in favor of peace but not under all conditions or at any price. Those in Israel proposing such a “two-state solution” are the 21st century’s Copperheads.

Second, Lincoln had no reluctance about using the word “treason,” and throughout the Civil War he made it clear that he considered the Union war against the Confederacy and its supporters to be a campaign against treason. Those who supported secession or the Confederacy were engaging in treason, not academic debate. Lincoln did not mollycoddle traitors in the name of “understanding the Other.” He did not insist that those opposing national interests be allowed to control the universities and the courts and the media.

Those who are trying to deconstruct Lincoln as the ultimate opponent of “occupation” will have to explain why his party imposed a severely harsh occupation on the member states of the Confederacy, one that continued for years. The analogue to the PLO and Hamas in the occupied Confederacy was the Ku Klux Klan, and it was suppressed mercilessly in actions that included Union militias acting as anti-Klan death squads. There were thousands of arrests of KKK “militants” and “activists,” and martial law was imposed upon counties with Klan activities. No one proposed seeking peace by granting the Klan its own country.

Aside from the two most obvious characteristics of Lincoln, which make him the moral analogue of Jewish settler leaders, Lincoln had a few other features that will make the Left squirm. Lincoln abolished habeas corpus during wartime. He had traitors executed and deported, and had no hesitation about the use of capital punishment. Among those executed, William Bruce Mumford was convicted of treason and hanged in 1862 for tearing down a United States flag. Some 500 people were executed by hanging or by firing squad during the War, some for desertion. At least one of those hanged was a woman, Mary Surratt (executed for her role in the assassination of Lincoln).

Lincoln had no patience for terrorists, known in the Civil War as “bushwhackers,” and ordered them to be executed by firing squad. “Bridge burners” were given the same treatment. He believed there was ONLY a military solution to the problems of terrorism.Lincoln also imposed censorship on the press and suppressed treasonous journalism. Want to ponder how Lincoln would handle the pro-Hamas radical Left in Israel?Then in Sherman’s march to the sea, Lincoln conducted war against CIVILIANS, explicitly targeting and attacking the civilian population and its infrastructure to end rebellion and treason. With no Betselem and no Supreme Court interference.

Lincoln also sponsored the Homestead Act of 1862, perhaps the greatest settlements construction effort in history.

Perhaps most notably, Lincoln imposed an uncompromising blockade upon the entire Confederacy. The very same Israeli Leftists, who insist that lifting the “embargo” of Gaza is the highest form of humane morality so that the Hamas can more easily import weapons, will have a an interesting challenge explaining the blockade imposed by their new-found moral champion, Abraham Lincoln. It was a policy proudly described by Lincoln as “starving the South.” Food and civilian commodities were prevented from passing through the blockade. Guess how Lincoln would have dealt with “Gaza Flotilla” blockade runners?

Bayonets, Horses and Ships, Oh My

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

There are so many ways to criticize President Obama’s now-infamous “horses and bayonets” comment from the foreign policy debate that one hardly knows where to start.  The snarky attitude alone is worth a column.  What is Obama, a blog troll?  If he has a case to make about having a smaller Navy, he could surely have made it without being snide, specious and condescending.

At any rate, there are the obvious points, such as the fact that the U.S. military still uses bayonets.  Some of the first U.S. military and intelligence personnel into Afghanistan operated in the prohibitive mountainous terrain on horseback.  Horse cavalry may be a thing of the (recent) past for classic battlefield engagements, but terrain and local living patterns are dictatorial when it comes to military operations.  For some applications, you need a horse.

The key question implied in all this is what kind of operation you envision, as you consider which military forces to develop and buy. (In August 2011, no one envisioned the U.S. military needing horses for special operations in Afghanistan.)

The president’s statements about our inventory of naval combat ships imply much the same question.  Obama’s statement suggests that aircraft carriers and submarines (“ships that go underwater”) have made the surface combatant – the cruiser, destroyer, and frigate – less necessary.  If we have only as many of them as we had in 1916, that’s not a problem, in Obama’s formulation, because technology changes.

U.S. Policy

But what is it we are trying to do with these naval forces?  Mitt Romney’s approach is to assume that we intend to exercise control of our ocean bastions – the Atlantic and Pacific – and effectively resume our position as the primary naval influence on the world’s strategic chokepoints: the approaches to Central America; the maritime space of Northwestern Europe; the Mediterranean; the chokepoint-belt from the Suez Canal to the Strait of Hormuz; and the Strait of Malacca and South China Sea.  Being well briefed, Romney no doubt has in mind as well the increasingly maritime confrontation space of the Arctic, where Russia and Canada are competing, but the U.S. – with our own Arctic claims – has in recent years been passive.

Romney thus sees the Navy as a core element of our enduring strategic posture.  For national defense and for the protection of trade, the United States has from the beginning sought to operate in freedom on the seas, and, where necessary, to exercise control of them.  We are a maritime nation, with extremely long, shipping-friendly coastlines in the temperate zone and an unprecedented control of the world’s most traveled oceans, the Atlantic and Pacific.

We have also chosen, since our irruption on the world geopolitical stage a century or so ago, to project power abroad as much as possible through expeditionary operations and offshore influence.  Indeed, seeking the most effective balance between stand-off approaches, temporary incursions, and boots-on-the-ground combat and occupation has been a perennial tension in our national politics and our concepts of war throughout the life of our Republic.  We have always naturally favored offshore influence and quick-resolution campaigns, from which we can extricate ourselves just as quickly.

The character of these preferences and military problems has changed with the passage of time – but in comparison to the United States in 1916, they are all bigger today, as well as faster-moving and more likely to be our problem than, say, Great Britain’s.

In the modern world, America’s favored posture requires the sea services: the Navy and Marine Corps.  It also requires the Air Force, in virtually any theater where we might operate.  That said, in the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom, the Navy was able to put strike-fighters into Afghanistan from carriers in the Arabian Sea, while the Air Force didn’t have a base close enough to get strike-fighters into the fight at the time.  That situation is rare, and was soon corrected, but it does highlight the point that the Navy can get tactical assets in, even where we have no bases close to the tactical battlespace.

For completeness, we should note that in addition to its greater depth of air assets, the Air Force can get long-range bombers into a fight anywhere from the continental United States.  For full effectiveness, that capability does depend on the ability to recover and refuel abroad (e.g., in Guam, Diego Garcia, the U.K.).  But the B-2 or B-52 strategic bomber brings a different order of combat power to a fight.  The differing capabilities of the Navy and Air Force are complementary, for the most part, rather than being in competition.

J.E. Dyer: Reflections on Ambassador Shapiro’s ‘We’re ready to attack’ comments in Israel

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Why in the world were these things said?

“It would have been better to solve it (the Iranian nuclear crisis) in a diplomatic way, by using pressure and without applying military force,” the ambassador clarified at the closed meeting, “But that does not mean that this [attack] option is not possible. Not only is it possible, it is ready. The necessary planning is in place to make sure it’s ready.”

Well, ok.  The question is not whether we are ready or should be ready for this option – um, of course we are; would we tell anyone if we weren’t? – the question is why our ambassador in Israel would say this.  (Read the full comments for the unnecessarily explicit flavor.)

First of all, an ambassador – or at least his top advisors – knows that bellicose comments of this kind do not accord with the conventions of diplomacy.  You don’t go around assuring other nations that you’ve been practicing to attack a third party.  Besides being operationally stupid, it’s potentially both destabilizing and destructive to your credibility.

Instead, you state what your national interests are, you clarify the outcome you’re looking for, and you assure the relevant audience that you will do what it takes to protect your interests and secure your outcomes.  The point is not whether the audience knows that you have actually tested a military OPLAN (who cares? We test them regularly), the point is for them to understand exactly what you want and the seriousness of your determination.

A warning (or, in this case, an assurance) that the US is ready to attack Iran was almost certainly given on orders from the White House, since it’s not something a diplomat would naturally be moved to say, or say without permission.  It’s a combination of operational TMI and inflammatory rhetoric: a sort of anti-diplomacy.

Second, this is a threat that can’t be convincingly conveyed in a fey, indirect manner.  If we mean this threat and we want it to affect Iran’s decisions, then say it to Iran.  (I would advise putting it in different terms.)  Putting the threat out there in the guise of an assurance to Israel just looks manipulative.

It also looks spurious and irresponsible, if we’re going to sit down with the Iranians in Baghdad later this month and “negotiate.”  What, exactly, are the Iranians supposed to assume about this threat?  What action of theirs could trigger it?  Does it clarify the US position, or obfuscate it?  With the threat of war, it is not actually a good idea to be overly clever and create doubt about triggers and your intentions. If you’re going to deploy the war card, certainty is the mindset you want your intended audience to have.

In any case, if the US and the Western powers make the offer of a sweet deal for Iran, in the hope of getting some kind of agreement – a prospect endorsed by the analysis of long-time observer Gerald Seib in this video – that signal will be at odds with the over-explicit threat of attack.  It would be hard to be convincing about a coherent position in that case.

Regarding the point on military preparations, I know many readers try to stay abreast of where the aircraft carriers are, and that’s not necessarily a fool’s errand.  It’s important not to go all “Pat Buchanan” about it – there are two carriers in the Persian Gulf region at least twice a year because they are turning over their patrol duties; it’s not a sign of the Apocalypse – but it can be a useful indicator.  That said, I advise you not to try this at home if you aren’t familiar with US Navy operations.  The presence of two or more carriers in the Central Command “AOR” (area of responsibility) is almost always an indicator of strike group turnover – or simply a coincidence due to a rare circumstance like USS Abraham Lincoln’s (CVN-72) recent change of homeport from Everett, Washington to Norfolk, Virginia, which involved an extra transit through (and deployment in) the Middle East.

The US administration announced earlier this year that it would be keeping two carriers on station in the Gulf region for the time being.  That gives the president a ready option in case he wants to ramp up pressure on Iran.  I would not obsess over the carriers, however.  They will undoubtedly participate if there is a strike on Iran – they will be indispensable for keeping the Strait of Hormuz open, and their F/A-18 strike-fighters will no doubt be used for the precision targeting of hardened sites, among other tasks for the airwings – but they may well not be the centerpiece of the operation.

If President Obama were to scope a strike on Iran as I believe he would – narrowly, striking only a limited set of nuclear-related targets – the strike may well be conducted as a “prompt global strike,” according to the doctrine and capability of the same name, which has been in development since the last year of the Bush administration.  It could involve mostly cruise missiles and “global airpower”:  B-2 and B-52 bombers launching their missions at a distance from Iran, including launches from US territory; i.e., Whiteman and Barksdale.  (I doubt that it would involve long-range ballistic missiles, which are not accurate enough for most applications in this kind of strike.)  The strike would certainly be conventional, not nuclear.

All that said, if an agreement is reached with Iran in the next couple of months, it will be because the agreement is advantageous to Iran, delaying the EU sanctions which are to kick in this summer, and requiring nothing of Iran that the mullahs were not willing to concede.  Any agreement that does not entail full, unannounced inspection of all Iran’s suspect facilities and nuclear-related programs, as well as Iran’s adherence to the “Additional Protocol” of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, is an agreement that will not stop the nuclear weapons program.  That kind of agreement, however, is what we are virtually guaranteed to get.

 

Originally published at http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2012/05/17/reflections-on-ambassador-shapiros-were-ready-to-attack-comments-in-israel/

Parshat Toldot

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

In the aftermath of the Union army’s terrible defeat at the battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December 1862, Abraham Lincoln felt compelled to relieve General Ambrose Burnside of command of the Army of the Potomac. In his place he somewhat reluctantly appointed General Joe Hooker to assume command. The following excerpts from a letter which President Lincoln sent to Hooker on the eve of his appointment are a masterful example of a superior cautioning his subordinate about some of his flaws, while simultaneously subsuming the critical message within a broader context of support and encouragement. Lincoln understood that if he were only to criticize Hooker, his words would fall on deaf ears.

“General: I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appears to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and skilled soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not an indispensable, quality. You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm; but I think that during General Burnside’s command of the army you have taken counsel of your ambition, and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer. I have heard, in such a way to believe it, of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a dictator. Of course, it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes can set up dictators. What I ask of you now is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship….And now beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but with energy and sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories.”

Delivering constructive criticism and rebuke—tochacha—constitutes a very important mitzvah. However, precisely because effective rebuke requires a delicate balance between encouragement and criticism, it is a mitzvah that can only truly be practiced by a select few. Rav Shlomo Wolbe, in his monograph on education, Zeriah U’Binyan B’chinuch quotes (p.26) Rav Chaim Volozhiner who stated “nowadays harsh words are not heard.” As such, Rav Chaim maintained that: “A person whose disposition prevents him from speaking gently and who gets angry quickly at people who sin, especially when they don’t heed his words, is exempt from the mitzvah of rebuke.”

The importance of carefully crafting criticism in a manner that contains the rebuke within a framework of positive encouragement can be seen at the end of this week’s parsha when Yitzchak enjoins Esav to refrain from marrying a Canaanite. The Torah describes (28:1) how Yitzchak first blessed Esav and only then did he discuss the issue of marriage with him. Rav Chaim Zuckerman, in his anthology Otzar Chaim, quotes a beautiful insight in the name of the Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim explains that the point of Yitzchak’s discussion with Esav at the conclusion of the parsha was quite obvious. He wanted to rebuke him regarding his current marital practices and to direct him to repent and pursue a better and holier approach. However, Yitzchak realized that if he got straight to the point, Esav would ignore him. Therefore, Yitzchak first blessed Esav, thus encouraging him and enabling the rebuke to be framed in an overall context of positive growth. Only in this carefully crafted way would Yitzchak stand a chance of influencing Esav’s behavior.

Title: The One Minute Coach: Change Your Life One Minute at a Time

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Title: The One Minute Coach: Change Your Life One Minute at a Time

Author: Masha Malka

Publisher: Inborn Genius

 

 

   The curse of thinking in “victim” mode can be removed with the author’s advice to forgive yourself for human errors (goodbye to a lingering, crippling sense of shame) so that your energies can be used productively.

 

   With The One Minute Coach: Change Your Life One Minute at a Time, readers learn the value of focusing on desired outcomes instead of worrying about unforeseen disasters; of enjoying each moment instead of racing with worrisome thoughts to the next distraction on a to-do list. In short,The One Minute Coach helps you to decide that “my life can be better than it is now” and shows you how to make that so.

 

   In 134 pages, readers can realize how to be “catalysts” for change instead of forcing change upon themselves or other people – catalysts provoke change without harming themselves.

 

   This paperback demonstrates how the author galvanized herself, a former immigrant from the USSR, into a dynamic woman who resides where she wishes, earns an income she desires and is satisfied with her choices. Masha Malka uses her life lessons to teach her readers how to make every minute of their personal thought processes work for them.

 

   Stimulating quotes from famous historical figures (e.g., Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Abraham Maslow, Abraham Lincoln, and Marianne Williamson) and “action steps” accompany the book’s short chapters (designed to take a minute or so to read). They teach the imperative of identifying your individual sense of purpose and guide you into self-fulfillment. The prose is memorable, focused and smart. Masha Malka repeatedly reminds her readers to identify their fears, to figure out how to overcome them, and the value of letting them go. The payoff of the process: clearheaded thinking that can propel anyone to greater successes.

 

   Had Masha Malka consulted the late Rav Noach Weinberg, she might have included his advice to “Wake up each day and ask yourself ‘What am I living for? How am I going to get there?’ Be persistent. Don’t give up if you don’t see changes immediately.”

 

   Action step #2 on page 17 is not for the spiritually or psychologically impaired. If the world only revolved around the “you” whom Masha Malka addresses, then the need for spiritual and psychological guides, let alone law enforcement, would not exist. There’s more to life than selfishness. It’s an enduring fault of the world that the urgency to convince the masses of self-worth is met with overreaching psycho-salve.

 

   This delightful book is otherwise filled with good advice, including a recommended reading list, time-honored volumes of helpful ideas. The One Minute Coach: Change Your Life One Minute at a Time makes a good starting point for anyone frustrated or mystified by the self-help and life coaching movements, even by life itself. Learn more about the author at www.mashamalka.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books//2009/03/04/

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