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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘agenda’

The Internet, Halacha, and Olam HaBah

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

It’s simply not possible. I don’t believe it. Nonetheless it is being reported as fact. Rafi’s blog, Life in Israel, has linked to the Hebrew language website B’Chadrei Charedim that quotes Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s response to a question about smart-phones.

There is a Gemarah in Brachos that tells us that a man will lose his portion in Olam HaBah if he walks regularly behind a woman down a river. Rav Kanievsky was asked if this applies to someone who has in his possession an I-phone or the internet. His one word answer according to Chadrei was ‘ B’Vadai’ – absolutely! Anyone who uses an I-phone or the internet is in a category of losing his Olam HaBah – his heavenly reward in the world to come!

If this is true, then yet again, I think we all ought to all just go over to MacDonald’s and have a cheeseburger… or violate any other Miztvah in the Torah we want to violate. Why bother observing Halacha if you’ve lost your Olam Habah?

I happen to know Gedolei Torah and Roshei Yeshiva  who use I-phones and the internet. Are they all doomed?

Once again we have what appears to be a huge dis-connect between what a great Torah sage supposedly said – and reality. Either Rav Kanievsky does not know the extent of internet use among a great number of devoutly observant Jews, or this is a gross distortion or mischaracterization of his views. I think that both things are true. I don’t believe he said it and meant it to be interpreted as simply as that one word answer indicates.

I would not be surprised if this is yet another instance of Kanoim – religious zealots twisting the views of a elderly rabbinic leader to fit their agenda. I’m sure his position is far more nuanced than the one word answer (B’Vadai) he supposedly gave to a simple question.

The Agenda is obvious. There are people who are eager to destroy other Jews in a fit of self righteousness. They do not have these devices and do not want anyone else to have them either. So they make sure to twist the words of Gedolei Yisroel to assure it.

They may think they are doing the right thing. But they are by far doing far much more harm than good. They may in fact be responsible for pushing more religious Jews out of observance than saving them from using the internet.

By putting people who have smart-phones into a category of losing their Olam Habah, it is not too difficult to see many frustrated Frum people who have so often been put upon with comments like this say, ‘the heck with it!’ I may as well live a life of ease and not worry about violating Halacha. I won’t make to Olam HaBah anyway.

The Gemarah upon which this one word response attributed to Rav Kanievsky was based upon does not forbid the incidental following of a woman down a river. The loss of Olam Habah  that the Gemarah speaks of is only to those who purposely do so with lascivious thoughts and the intent to sin in that regard. And even then only if it is done on a regular basis.

I would add that even if someone regularly does things like that and has some sort of sexual addiction, he can get help… and do Teshuva. I find it very difficult to believe that the Gemarah’s intent is that someone loses his Olam HaBah permanently if he does that. It is also known that the Gemarah sometimes exaggerates to make a point. Which may be the case here.

If there is any comparison to be made between following a woman down a river and the world of the 21st century and the internet – it is in the area of purposely viewing pornography on it. The problem is not the internet. It is the websites one frequents… if those websites are pornographic. That is the comparison that Rav Kanievsky no doubt meant – if he said anything at all.  Accidentally accessing a pornographic website is not a cause for losing one’s Olam Habah.

But the Kanoim who publish stories like this do not want to be confused with the nuances of truth. They want convey the message that I-phones and any other device that can access the internet is so evil that one should not even touch it! For if they do, their Olam HaBah is at stake.

Yishai and Malkah on Operation Pillar of Cloud

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

War in the Middle East has been front and Yishai and Malkah begin by discussing Operation Pillar of Cloud, the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has been continuing for almost a week. Yishai and Malkah talk about how Hamas has both a media and military agenda such as how images from completely different and unrelated events have been used to attempt to coerce the world into making the world feel sorry for their cause. They move on at 16:00 to talk specifically about rockets striking Israeli civilians and end the segment by Yishai giving a strategic analysis of the current situation.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
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Ha’aretz’s Good News Poll

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Can we trust Haaretz reporting on polls?

After Eldar and Levy on those “apartheid” stories?

Here’s the latest, “For the right man, Israelis would make peace” which makes the claim that

“The consensus is moving to the right, but that doesn’t mean Israeli Jews won’t support a deal with the PA if the right leader comes along, a new study shows.”

The May (five months ago!) data is from Tel Aviv University’s Walter Lebach Institute for Jewish-Arab Coexistence, but it seems not even to be up at its site.

Some findings:

- 80 percent of Israelis don’t believe it’s possible to make peace with the Palestinians. Half of them don’t believe it’s ever possible to make peace, while half don’t believe it’s possible in the foreseeable future. About two-thirds support a diplomatic solution, but many more still eagerly buy the convenient argument that there’s no partner.

- 87 percent of secular Jewish Israelis believe in the need for peace with the Palestinians, but only half the religiously observant and a smaller percentage of the ultra-Orthodox believe this. Traditional Jews have moved to the right and are now in the middle of the road.

- Only about 20 percent of secular Jews see the demographic threat as an existential problem and only one-third believe the occupation and the settlements are creating a security threat to Israel.

- Nearly half the respondents consider Palestinian terror a major security problem.

- Within the Green Line, the number who consider themselves rightists or right-leaning has increased from 41 percent to 48 percent. Two-thirds of this increase comes at the expense of those who say they hold centrist positions. But between 2002 and 2012 the left has strengthened; it has grown from 20 percent to 25 percent.

- 60 percent of the public supports a democratic solution to the conflict, 22 percent of Jewish residents of the West Bank prefer the authority of the rabbis to the authority of the elected institutions.

-  Six percent of the respondents (14 percent of the settlers ) see the use of violence to prevent withdrawal from the West Bank as legitimate, while 59 percent (70 percent of the settlers ) believe that the public only has the right to fight for its beliefs within the law (compared with 31 percent and 45 percent respectively at the beginning of the decade ).

- Around 37 percent of the secular respondents see the settlers as pioneers, compared with 32 percent in 2005, and 35 percent see them as “the bedrock of our existence,” compared with 23 percent in 2005.

The really silly item Eldar emphasizes that

the hard core of settlers as represented by Gush Emunim, which has pushed the Israeli government and public to settle in the territories, hasn’t spread its messianic ideology among the public, or even among the settlers. It turns out that the main motivations for living in the territories, including among many of the religious, are comfort and quality of life.

But that was the point, that it is natural for Jews to live in their homeland.  The vanguard always needs a more powerful ideological motivation but in pulling over the masses, the reasons for their remaining can assuredly be such mundane, for Eldar, ones.  Doesn’t alter the reality.

He also claims the report indicates

…it’s possible to evacuate half the settlers with their consent if they are offered compensation equivalent to up to 300 percent of the value of their property.

but also the public is split

between people with a neo-Zionist outlook who emphasize a nationalist-religious agenda and a moderate Zionist majority that focuses on the land inside the Green Line and promotes a social agenda.  Therefore, the right is advancing its agenda unhindered, the researchers say…the occupation remains on the margins of the[centrists'] political concerns.

I think that’s good news.

Visit My Right Word.

As Long as We’re Guessing at God’s Message…

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

It didn’t take very long for some holy rollers to pop up and tell us why God punished the East Coast with a devastating storm. Not only didn’t it take long, there seemed to be a rush to see who could come up with a reason first. I don’t know who actually won that race. But I do know that there are a lot of people who think they have a direct line to God and know exactly what He was trying to tell us.
Well, I’m glad I now know. Or do I? It seems that not everyone came up with the same reason. There are no fewer than 6 different people who seem to have intimate knowledge of God’s purpose in inflicting damage on America’s East Coast residents. One of them commented right here in a comment thread last Thursday.

Is the Lakewood community still not Frum enough? Was it because New York legalized gay marriage? Perhaps it is because Israel’s depends too much on America? How about an environmental message? Are we ignoring climate change? Is this God’s way of getting us to stop our earth destroying ways? Or maybe it’s Iran’s fault?

I’m sure this will not be the last of it. For example I have yet to hear the classic one about Tznius. I’m sure that is yet to come up from someone.

Needless to say, I think these people all have agendas driving their claims of knowing God’s intended message. But I do not think it helps matters to use a tragedy to push an agenda. It would be far better if these people would just keep quiet and instead do whatever they can to help their fellow man in need. People in distress do not need to be harangued about why they were punished. Especially if such statements are clearly speculation sourced in an agenda.

But now that everyone else is doing it, I thought I may as well join the fray. I have a few thoughts about God’s possible message too. If anyone want’s to accuse me of being agenda driven… go right ahead.

It seems like almost every day there is another report about a religious Jew abusing another human being sexually. Just last week there was a report by Miriam Shaviv in The Times of Israel about yet another prominent Charedi rabbi in England who was accused sexual abuse – some of it apparently shocking!

London’s ultra-Orthodox establishment is investigating one of its most senior rabbis following a barrage of rumors that he engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with a woman, The Times of Israel has learned.

The rabbi wields considerable influence in the city’s Haredi institutions.

Over the past few weeks, he has been accused in blogs and on the street of a variety of sexual misdeeds with at least one woman — for whom he was allegedly acting as a counselor — and possibly with others. The allegations range from serious criminal offenses to actions which, one rabbi said, may be halachically dubious, but “in the non-rabbinical, non-Haredi world, wouldn’t raise eyebrows.”

The rabbi at the center of the rumors did not return a phone call…

One local Haredi rabbi, who like all the British interviewees for this article requested anonymity due to the case’s sensitive nature, said he did not believe the rumors, which “seem incompatible with [the rabbi's] personality.”

Because of the accused rabbi’s senior status and popularity, if the most serious allegations were proven, “it would send shock waves through the community. It would be on par with the chief rabbi being accused of such a thing,” he added.

Shock waves? I have long ago stopped being shocked by such stories. I don’t know if any of these charges are true or even exactly what they are. Or how many victims there are – if any. But it seems the charges are credible enough to have a committee investigating them:

Since mid-October, his London colleagues have met twice to discuss the handling of the case, once in the Orthodox suburb of Golders Green in North West London, and once in the considerably more Haredi Stamford Hill.

Now a prominent London rabbinical authority has appointed a small committee to investigate the claims. The committee apparently includes a mental health professional and a legal professional; at least one of them is Jewish.

As I said such stories are no longer shocking to me. But the relatively common occurrence of this type of thing does not lessen the terrible consequences for the victims. Nor does the continued protection and defense by their communities (including their rabbinic leadership) of accused molesters like Mondrowitz and Weberman help either.

Which is more devastating, Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Weberman? Sandy may have hurt a lot more people. It will be difficult to restore their lives to some semblance of normalcy. It will certainly take time. It will also take a lot of work and help from friends and community. But Hurricane Sandy’s victims will God willing survive and resurrect their lives.

That does not happen for too many victims of sexual abuse. Far too often their lives are permanently damaged. Some to the point of death by their own hand.

Yes my friends there is a lot of Teshuva to do. And a lot of work to do to rid the Torah world of the scourge of sexual abuse in all its manifestations. In all segments of observant Jewry. All over the world. There is also a lot of work to do to try and make whole the lives of victims to the best of our ability.

Although there is progress in how we deal with these things now, we have a long way to go. As long as there are communities that protect their accused molesters and reject the pain of their victims – our job is not complete. By a long shot!

Why did the East Coast where the greatest numbers of religious Jews live get such a terrible blow last week? I don’t know. I am not a Navi. But the sex related issue of Tznius is almost always pointed to by some rabbinic leaders as the cause. I agree that it might be sex related. But not in matters of Tznius. Perhaps it is the way we deal with sex abuse. If there is any message from God in this, perhaps the first thing we ought to look at is how we still fail to recognize just how short we fall in this department.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Do Netanyahu’s Opponents in Iran Debate Have an Agenda?

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

The Israeli media portrays Israeli brass and ex-brass who oppose Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the Iran issue as a group whose assessment is based solely on a cold hard analysis of the situation. This with a strong hint that the Netanyahu-Barak team may be driven by considerations and interests that are not directly related to the Iranian challenge.

Unfortunately, there is a reasonable possibility that the Israeli brass and ex-brass themselves have piggy-backed their agenda to the Iranian debate.

First a quick explanation for readers not familiar with the Israeli scene.

There is a group of Israelis who religiously believe that if Israel were to withdraw to the ’67 lines that this would result in utopian peace.

I term it “religiously believe” in the sense that as a religious belief rather than policy conclusion it is embraced by its followers as a “given” rather than something that merits serious study and possible revision in the face of reality.

For many years adherents of this belief have made herculean efforts to try and bring about withdrawal to the ’67 lines. At this stage it is abundantly clear that such a withdrawal will never be carried out via the Israeli democratic process.

With utopian peace only a withdrawal away, these Israeli patriots are not going to let the voting preferences of the unwashed masses get in their way.

Simply put: what cannot be achieved at the ballot box can be achieved by foreign pressure.

Which brings us to the Iranian question.

The Iranian threat is seen as an ideal platform for creating a scenario in which Israel is forced to agree to withdraw to the ’67 lines in exchange for American military action against Iran.

In point of fact, a review of remarks by many of the brass and ex-brass opposing Netanyahu-Barak finds that they explicitly and openly link Israel’s ability to draft America’s support to Israel’s accepting the Arab League-Saudi initiative that called for Israel to withdraw to the ’67 lines and accept resolution of the rights of the refugees.

How can this agenda skew their analysis and policy recommendations?

Israel is apparently today still within a “window of opportunity” in which an operation against Iran does not rely on the direct participation and involvement of American forces. Once this window closes, the only way to possibly address the Iranian threat is with the direct involvement and participation of the United States.

For the withdrawal advocates, delaying action beyond the Israeli “window of opportunity” kills two birds with one stone: the mighty arm of the United States will prevent a nuclear Iran while Israel is essentially blackmailed into implementing the withdrawal program that they fervently believe will herald utopian peace for the Jewish state.

To be clear: their motives are anything but evil.

You can fault them for their hubris and their lack of respect for the democratic process but they genuinely believe that they are acting in Israel’s best interests.

What does all of this mean for “non-believers” following the policy debate?

Just a warning that many of the brass and ex-brass lined up against Netanyahu-Barak have an agenda. An agenda based on a belief that to those not part of the “withdrawal to ’67 lines brings utopian peace” group is considered at best hopelessly naïve.

Originally published at http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=57879

Rabbis Protest Mobile App of the ‘Protocols’

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

A European rabbinical group is protesting a mobile app of the notorious anti-Semitic text “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Brussels-based Conference of European Rabbis, said in a statement Tuesday that he would contact Apple to urge that the company remove the app. JTA’s calls to Apple were not immediately answered.

The app, which was released earlier this year, is available only in Arabic and is attributed to the software developer Ahmed Elserety.

It costs $1.08 to download and is accompanied by a compact description of the “Protocols” stating that “according to many historians, these writings are a hoax.” The text describes a supposed Jewish plot to control the world.

The app notes a 1921 investigation by the Times of London and a series of French articles describing how the fraud was perpetrated.

Still, Goldschmidt said, it is unacceptable to have such an app on the market.

Goldschmidt believes it is “the first mobile version of the famous anti-Semitic work,” which was first published in Russia in the early 20th century.

“Although the Protocols of the Elders of Zion can and should be available for academics to study in its proper context, to disseminate such hateful invective as a mobile app is dangerous and inexcusable,” he said, warning that it could be “used by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and their fellow travelers to pursue their
racist agenda.”

The Peace Business

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/the-peace-business.html

Anyone who has watched enough monster movies knows how hard it is to kill the monster. You can set Frankenstein on fire, stab Dracula through the chest with a wooden stake and take the Wolfman to the vet; but sooner or later they come roaring back twice as angry as ever.

The Israel Policy Forum, a left-wing group, which mated a few years ago with the Center for American Progress, has split away again to corner that booming market in Jewish organizations that hate Israel; but try to pretend not to when people are watching.

With J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, Open Zion, Uri L’Tzedek and Americans for Peace Now, just to name a few, all boasting more column inches in the media than members, the revival of IPF is about as timely as opening up a bank dedicated to subprime loans. The market for Israel-bashing, like the market for underwater homes, is falling as fast as Obama’s approval ratings.

In 2008, shortly before IPF merged with CAP, it sent out a letter urging Condoleezza Rice to find a way to bring Hamas into the peace process. So far, the Israel Policy Forum has had no luck with Hamas, but it has dragged in the usual left-wing Jewish millionaires and billionaires looking to ride roughshod over Israel and the Jewish community.

Israel Policy Forum, like Peter Beinart’s Open Zion, is funded in part by Peter A. Joseph, who also serves as IPF’s president. Joseph presides over Palladium Equity Partners, the kind of private equity firm that liberals pretend to bash when it’s associated with Romney, but which they welcome when it’s associated with a lefty. Like so many other lefties with big pockets and bigger egos, Joseph’s money causes him to believe that he can hijack the Jewish community by spending money to create organizations full of fellow lefty millionaires and a few famous names with business ties to them.

The new IPF features David Avital, of the MTP Investment Group who founded Seeds of Peace. There’s hedge fund billionaire Donald Sussman, Neil Barsky of Alson Capital Partners, Lawrence Zicklin, formerly of Neuberger Berman Financial Services, and James E. Walker III, who isn’t actually Jewish, but is also an Obama donor and in the money management business. Finally there’s Marcia Riklis, the daughter of corporate raider Meshulam Riklis, and another Obama donor.

Naturally all the financial guys brought along their lawyers and Israel Policy Forum is full of them, the slimiest of whom may be Melvyn Weiss who specialized in securities class action lawsuits, pleaded guilty to kickback charges and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Weiss also had ties to Blagojevich and has been disbarred, but he’s back out of prison and back at IPF..

With all these Wall Street guys and layers, IPF looks a lot like a hostile takeover and that’s just what it is. It’s one more attempt by the Anti-Israel left to stage a hostile takeover of the Jewish community and swing the agenda their way. But it didn’t work with J Street and it won’t work with IPF.

The tycoons and lawyers have brought along some of their clients and pet “rabbis” to make the IPF look like something other than a group of left-wing millionaires and billionaires trying to forcibly set the agenda for the Jewish community. And they’re going about it in the usual way, by authoring letters to heads of state telling them what to do, because when you’re playing at that level, that’s just the sort of thing you do.

The IPF has relaunched its bid for policymaking power with a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu telling him to ignore the Levy Report, which found that Israel is not an Occupying Power, and that there is no reason to discriminate against Jewish homes in any part of Israel. The letter claims to represent a larger consensus, which it does not, despite being chock full of presidents and former presidents of Jewish organizations, who were not elected by any Jewish community, but whose paths to power were paid for, either by them or by those wealthy donors who truly control them.

Then there are a few others, like Deborah Lipstadt who occupies the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History chair at Emory U. Dorot is partnered with the far-left New Israel Fund and a number of other Anti-Israel groups. Dorot has given grants to J Street, and its assets are partly managed by Neuberger Berman Financial Services, mentioned above.

When Rules Don’t Count, Anything Goes

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

UNESCO proved once again that UN rules mean nothing if they get in the way of furthering an anti-Israel agenda.

It will be recalled that last October, an overwhelming majority of UNESCO members voted to recognized “Palestine” as the organization’s 195th member despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority did not, by any measure, meet the established standards for statehood. Last week, UNESCO again broke its own rules and indulged the Palestinians by accepting a Palestinian bid to list the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and to have it located in “Palestine.” The PA is nominally in control of day-to-day governance in Bethlehem but Israel remains in overall authority as to who and what goes in and out.

This prompted a statement by Hanan Ashwari, who leads the PLO Department of Culture and Information, applauding the development as “a welcome recognition by the international community of our historical and cultural rights in this land.”

Further, not only were the rules for statehood again ignored by the “Palestine” reference, but the church was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, which UNESCO’s technical and administrative staff advised was wholly inappropriate, since it in no way met the operative standard of “imminent danger.” And while UNESCO fictively attributed the “danger” to damage from water leaks, Palestinian officials spun the listing that the site itself is endangered by Israel.

Thus, Ms. Ashwari said in a statement that the UNESCO decision

emphasizes that Israel must be bound by international law and treaties, particularly pertaining to its illegal and detrimental measures as a belligerent occupant and as a major threat to the safety and the responsible preservation of that important segment of human civilization in Palestine.

Palestinian officials briefing reporters also claimed the UNESCO action represented a vote in favor of self-determination and cultural rights for the Palestinian people.

Predictably, the PA is now saying that following its UNESCO success respecting the Church of the Nativity it will seek to have additional religious West Bank sites recognized by UNESCO as endangered World Heritage sites. And given past experience, they will be successful. Regrettably, these obvious farces have gained legitimacy in the anything-goes universe of anti-Israel activism.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/when-rules-dont-count-anything-goes/2012/07/11/

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