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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘agenda’

The Biggest and Holiest Adventure in the World

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Now that we have reminded readers what everyone already knows – that the Jewish People are to observe the Torah in Israel, and that Eretz Yisrael is where Hashem wants us to be – everyone is faced with a choice: Either people can play a part in the Redemption of Am Yisrael, by taking a role in the rebuilding of the Jewish Nation in its Land, or they can fall by the wayside and become irrelevant to Jewish destiny and the glorious goal of Jewish History.

Yes, aliyah is a difficult challenge. Yes, there are many well-meaning people, lovers of Eretz Yisrael, who would like to live in The Holy Land but simply can’t, for a variety of sincere reasons. There are many others who could come, but simply have not been taught that this great and holy mitzvah should be their number one priority as Jews, to actually set Jerusalem above their highest joy by doing everything they can on its behalf. This is especially true of our young people, who have their whole lives before them, and don’t yet have all of the cumbersome commitments that hold many people back. Certainly every parent, every rabbi, every Jewish organization leader, they should all be teaching these young people that their futures lie in Israel.

Those of you who can come, and there are millions out there, we are waiting to welcome you. And those of you who would like to come, but just can’t seem to put the right pieces together, then you can get involved, in every way that you are able, by encouraging others to come, by coming on frequent visits, by donating money, and by volunteering your time at organizations that have Israel at the top of their programs and agenda. In this way you will have a share in the ingathering of the exiles and in the continued up-building of the Land. If Torah is your thing, then, by all means, set aside a bigger cut of your charity donations and maaser money to supporting Torah institutions in Israel. And start learning the many books that deal with the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisrael. Of course, all of this isn’t on the same level as aliyah itself, but at least you’ll be “disk-on-keyed” into the world’s greatest “hard drive,” and if you have a yearning to reach the World to Come, in our time of Redemption, this is the path.

Sometimes, beyond all of the known dangers of the Internet, I wish that Facebook and The Jewish Press.com had never been invented. After all, a Jew can sit in his comfortable living room in New York or LA, munching on popcorn and sipping on beer, and see everything that’s going on “b’Aretz” without having to call a taxi and get on a plane. With a click of the finger, he can send pro-Israel links and Youtube clips to all of his friends and have the feeling that he’s really here, making things happen. When I wrote a blog for Arutz 7, I called these people “couch potatoes” and “Monday morning quarterbacks,” and got a lot of readers angry, so I won’t use those terms here, but you know what I mean. It’s a sort of vicarious “virtual aliyah.” But on second thought, it’s better than not being involved at all, and, in fact, it’s a real blessing in that it gives people a way to connect to Eretz Yisrael, and that is certainly one of the greatest blessings of all.

Rabbi Kook has a wonderful observation on the order of the fruits which we eat during our festive Tu B’Shvat meal. Our Sages teach that we are to give preference to the fruits which appear closest to the word “Land” in the verse, “A Land of wheat and barley and grapevines, and fig trees and pomegranates; a Land of olive oil and date honey….” (Devarim, 8:8). Rabbi Kook writes that this also teaches us that the person who is most connected to Eretz Yisrael, and who strives hardest in its settlement and building, he is closest to perfection and Divine favor and blessing.

The Police Commissioner And ‘The Third Jihad’

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

The current controversy surrounding the film “The Third Jihad” is ostensibly over the propriety of the NYPD’s airing it as part of in a training program. In reality it is the continuation of a broad and continuing effort to discredit any investigation of the growth of Muslim radicalism in New York. And as usual, The New York Times is right up front with Muslim organizations in voicing outrage.

We doubt Commissioner Kelly will heed the calls from some Muslim quarters that he resign over the issue. But we would do well to appreciate that the future intimidation of decision-makers charged with providing for our safety is not an idle concern. A New York Times editorial on the issue last week, entitled, “Hateful Film” is instructive:

There is absolutely no excuse for the New York Police Department’s decision to show a hateful film about Muslims to more than 1,400 city police officers.

Relations between police and the diverse Muslim community are already tense after the Associated Press uncovered aggressive surveillance of Muslims, including American citizens. The propaganda of this film will only damage those relations further and make law enforcement more difficult.

And, finally, we are told – without any elaboration – that the film “was financed by the conservative Clarion Fund.”

So for the Times, the primary issue is whether the Muslim community likes the idea of a police force tasked with defending against Muslim terrorism taking its job seriously. Indeed, the Times editorial said absolutely nothing about the training value of the film in thwarting terror – not, apparently, out of deference to the expertise of the NYPD in this regard. Indeed, it was not sheepish about voicing an opinion about its views on what will make law enforcement more difficult.

But we find it incredible that while the Times does not address the issue of the film’s factual presentations, it does say “The film shows some of the grisliest jihadist terrorists in recent years and argues that the real agenda for Islamists in America is to infiltrate and dominate the country.”

The Times apparently accepts the validity of the factual presentations but seems to have a problem with the context. The editorial doubtless was informed by a column on the movie by Times regular Michael Powell that appeared the day before. Here is some of what he wrote:

Ominous music plays as images appear on the screen: Muslim terrorists shoot Christians in the head, car bombs explode, executed children lie covered by sheets and a doctored photograph shows an Islamic flag flying over the White House.

“This is the true agenda of much of Islam in America,” a narrator intones. “A strategy to infiltrate and dominate America.… This is the war you don’t know about.”

This is the feature-length film titled “The Third Jihad,” paid for by a nonprofit group, which was shown to more than a thousand officers as part of training in the New York Police Department….

The 72-minute film was financed by the Clarion Fund, nonprofit group whose board includes a former Central Intelligence Agency official and a deputy defense secretary for President Ronald Reagan. Its previous documentary attacking Muslims’ “war on the West” attracted support from the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major supporter of Israel who has helped to reshape the Republican presidential primary by pouring millions of dollars into a so-called super PAC that backs Newt Gingrich….

Repeated calls over the past days to the Clarion Fund, which is based in New York, were not answered. The nonprofit group shares officials with Aish HaTorah, an Israeli organization whose officials have opposed a full return of the West Bank to Palestinians. The producer of “The Third Jihad,” Raphael Shore, also works with Aish HaTorah.

Clarion’s financing is a puzzle. Its federal income tax forms show contributions, grants and revenues typically hover around $1 million annually – except in 2008, when it booked contributions of $18.3 million. That same year, Clarion produced “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” The Clarion Fund used its surge in contributions to pay to distribute tens of millions of copies of this DVD in swing electoral states across the country in September 2008.

We note that both the editorial and Mr. Powell’s piece are significantly in error as regards the film narrator’s comment about the agenda of Islam in America. While the editorial paraphrased the narrator as saying “the real agenda for Islamists in America is to infiltrate and dominate the country” and Mr. Powell reported the quote as “This is the true agenda of much of Islam in America…,” the actual comment in the film spoke of “the true agenda of much of Muslim leadership here in America.” Also, the film opens with the text: “This is not a film about Islam. It is about the threat of radical Islam. Only a small percentage of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims are radical.”

An Obscenity In Jerusalem

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

We thought the outrageous incident involving an eight-year-old child being spat on by a haredi man because he didn’t think she was modestly dressed was about as over the top as one could get. But then came the demonstration in Jerusalem Saturday night in which extremist Orthodox Jews actually marched with yellow “Jude” armbands and also play-acted several infamous scenes of Jews in the throes of the horrors of the Holocaust.

The purpose of the costumes and the posturing was to draw parallels between what the Jews experienced at the hands of the Nazis and what haredim supposedly experience at the hands of an Israeli government they say is opposed to their standards of Judaism.

The analogy is an obvious obscenity and an unspeakable affront to the memories of the victims of the Holocaust, and as such is utterly unacceptable. It reflects a juvenile perception of human events and an extraordinary lack of sensitivity and judgment. It is also an example of an unfortunate development in Orthodox Jewish life as individuals with narrow agendas arrogate to themselves the right to speak for the faith – with impunity.

When all is said and done, the demonstrators speak only for themselves. Indeed, their tactics are supported neither by the general community nor by halachic authority. Unfortunately, however, this phenomenon will continue to grow unless haredi leaders are better informed by those they look to for information and enabled to deal with the growing usurpation of their authority. This hefkeirus is plainly destructive to the interests of Klal Yisrael.

As we noted last week, it is important that the Jewish tradition of modest dress and separation of the sexes not be called into disrepute because of the excesses of some zealots. It is also important to appreciate that the backdrop to the current controversy is a long-simmering conflict in Beit Shemesh between ultra-Orthodox and Modern Orthodox residents for political control, with each side advocating its agenda.

As a community we must come down hard on the zealots. But at the same time we must not let the underlying dynamic be defined by their excesses.

Point: Are Christian Zionists a Threat to Israel?

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Doesn’t it sound a little silly, not to mention paranoid, when we kvetch all day about the world being against us, and then when we discover people who actually like us, we work overtime to convince ourselves that they must really be out to get us and are covering it up with a smile?

I am very clear on my stand: I do not, have not and will not work with any group that has a missionary agenda targeting Jews. I will be happy to cooperate with friends of Israel, regardless of their theology, be they Muslim, Christian, Druze, Buddhist or whatever. The fact that there are some Christians who would like to convert Jews does not at all prove that all Christians embrace that agenda. There are about 5000 different schools of thought that all come under the “Christian” banner, and some of those totally appreciate the Jewish people’s unchanged “chosen” status and our Torah mission. There are probably others who believe that Jews must fulfill the rebuilding of the State and Temple to promote their own Messianic visions. That doesn’t worry or even interest me.

Some who claim the position of “anti-missionary activists” are not objective and manipulate information in an attempt to prove that any Christian who smiles at a Jew is doing so in order to convert them. I do not appreciate the harassment and bullying tactics they frequently resort to, but I am not afraid of them, either. I read and consider articles attacking Glenn Beck as a missionary. I’m sorry to say that they commonly show a very shallow understanding of the topic they are writing about. Beck, Waller, Gohmert and even Hagee are not missionaries. If they were, they would be really lousy ones, considering the fact that with all of the effort they have put into helping Israel, they have failed to make any Jewish converts at all.

If you believe sitting at home and reading Tehillim is all a Jew needs to do to deal with international pressures on Israel, then I wish you luck. But, if you think that we should actually try to build alliances with others outside the Jewish people, then I have news for you: people who are not Jewish have their own theological beliefs (that should be obvious – if they are not Jewish, then they are something else). If they appreciate the Jewish people and understand that helping Israel is beneficial to both sides, then there is nothing wrong with interacting with them. Of course, the Halacha and common sense guide us on ways to do so without compromising our Jewish identity and national respect.

With all of that said, and with no intention to insult our friends, we really should not have such an inferiority complex. If our own religion is the real thing, and so naturally superior to theirs, do you really think that some guy is going to say “the J word” and Jews are going to be so impressed by that as to question our own faith? Nu, b’emet. [Common, really.]

On one hand, if you come by a group that is offering a service – like a club with attractive facilities – but they are also offering classes in Christian faith for Jews, it is obviously a front, and they are probably taking advantage of you and trying to attract other Jews to their classes. But on the other hand, if a Christian offers you money to buy needed equipment and help produce books and discs, or for Jewish development of the land of Israel and asks for no involvement in your content whatsoever, only asking that you bless them by continuing your work, then they are helping you spread your message. In the second case, I would not even sweat worrying that they might come back some day and ask for something else – because even if they do, you can say “no” (and there is a good chance that they will not, because they are genuine lovers of Israel with no other agenda). Yes, we should always be careful with whom we do business, but I don’t have to tell you that there are other Jews who can lead you astray into dangerous avenues, as well.

No, not all gestures of friendship by Christians hide an intention to missionize us. I do not accept that as a given. I am not talking about a relationship in which one side is manipulating the other. Neither am I saying that I think I can trick them into helping us without allowing them the prize of converting us. I would not cooperate with Christians who wish to convert us any more than I would cooperate with Muslims who wish to slaughter us. I will gladly work with goyim who appreciate the Jewish people for who we are and wish only for us to become the best Jews we can be.

Believe it or not, there are goyim who believe in the words of the Bible – and they trust that G-d did choose the Jewish people for a special mission – to be a light unto the nations. They actually look to us for direction. But living in fear and exile for hundreds of years has corrupted us. Now that we have returned to our land and the nations are witnessing the fulfillment of prophecies and look to us as teachers, we go running for cover, fearing they mean us harm. We must seize our opportunities as they arise, stand proudly and teach the nations the truth of the Torah. We possess G-d-given greatness and blessing; we need not fear; G-d is on our side.

It’s My Opinion: Protests And P.C.

Monday, December 5th, 2011

I am shocked by the response to the “Occupy” movements in cities all over the United States. “Occupy Miami” recently joined what seems to be a loosely connected fellowship, improvising a day-to-day agenda promoting negativity. The only unifying goal seems to be a hatred of America, work and soap.

Protestors come to a city. They pitch tents. They refuse to leave. They have relieved themselves on American flags and police cars. There are reports of rapes, theft and assaults. Anti-Semitic placards and diatribes have been seen and heard. And yet the group is treated with a strange deference, posing as heroes of free speech.

Contributions of food and money are sent to their camps. Astonishingly, they are treated by many as feisty freedom fighters. Our president speaks favorably about them.

Yes, our great country provides its citizens with freedom of expression. However, much of what is happening is not within the perimeters of legal activity. When defiance of police creates a standoff, the dissidents are shocked there is any repercussion. Their sense of entitlement is immense.

I am contrast my own experience as a Jewish activist with the seeming free reign of this group. The rallies and demonstrations that required a permit were very specific. The area we could occupy and the time we were allotted were spelled out. There was no leeway. We were aware that all other activities, including peaceful civil disobedience, would result in arrest.

The Tea Party is another example of an apparent double standard. It seems the movement has been saddled with a reputation that would be better put on the shoulders of a group that truly deserves it.

Not all protests are sincere attempts at justice. The “Occupiers” are not a righteous cause and their actions demean legitimate protest. America seems to have lost its common sense in an attempt at political correctness.

The Party is Over

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

As Solomon the wisest of men once said “there is nothing new under the sun”. With this in mind it should come as no surprise that the recently proposed “rightist” bills have elicited the usual responses: lots and lots of Bibi-bashing together with accusations that Israel’s democracy is under attack and that freedom of speech is being stymied.

Thus, rather than seriously addressing the issues and arguing over substance, the supposed guardians of democracy simply rattle off sound bites that are designed to vilify and scare anyone who dares to see things differently. It’s a common tactic and one that is expected, especially from those who feel their power slipping away.

However, times are changing and the public is finally waking up. They know that the Israeli Supreme Court is one of the most activist supreme courts in the world with a disproportionate amount influence, driven by a worldview that represents a very small percentage of the Israeli population. Moreover, people understand that changing the longstanding policy whereby the court basically chooses its own judges in order to perpetuate its ideological stranglehold will only strengthen, and not curtail, Israeli democracy.

Similarly, most Israelis understand that the funding of Israeli organizations by foreign governments as a way to enable these governments to advance their agenda of delegitimizing Israel, especially in light of the current international campaign against Israel, is obviously problematic. Thus, labeling any attempt to deal with this complex issue as a sign of a right-wing crackdown or a restriction of human rights is nonsense.

It’s a very serious issue that must be addressed regardless of one’s ideological position.

More importantly, the days are coming to an end whereby the powerful left-wing establishment manages to silence their critics every time they feel a threat to their well-entrenched hold on power. As much as they try to portray themselves as innocent by wrapping themselves in pure white cloaks of freedom and democracy, this small yet powerful ideological group can no longer hide their hypocrisy. The same voices which sanctimoniously claim that the Israel of Netanyahu and Lieberman is turning ugly and fascist, for years labeled all opponents of the disastrous Oslo process as enemies of peace in order to stifle any real discussion. Likewise, prominent voices in the mainly left-wing media who disingenuously claim that the current government is overstepping its boundaries in order to impose its agenda, only a few short years rallied round the call by one of their colleagues that Ariel Sharon had to be “protected like an etrog” in order to help the government implement the controversial Gaza Disengagement.

Unfortunately, rather than understanding that the public is simply fed up with a situation whereby a small group with an exorbitant amount of power and influence basically determines what is best for the rest of the country, the predominantly left-wing establishment continues to view alternative voices as a threat. This is truly a shame since the truth of the matter is that a change in direction based upon a more balanced approach will not only be more in line with the mindset of the average Israeli but it will also help secure the long-term survival of the country.

Whether or not the left finally internalizes this and stops attacking, is irrelevant. Either way, the party is over as their monopoly on being the sole deciders on the direction of the country is finally coming to an end.

Reframing (continued from October 15, 2010)

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

In this series we have covered many of the major ways to understand what makes a teenager tick. Now it’s time to put all the pieces together and work towards restarting the relationship between you and your teenager.

 

Beginning again is never easy, especially when starting over demands that a person develop new habits.  However, restarting a relationship with a teenager is easier than most parents think.  Old habits can be replaced by new ones as long as you follow the Three Cs and keep the goals of Relationship Theory in mind.

 

We have also learned about the importance of three key areas – connection, control and communication.  Remembering them, parents can use the following techniques to help jump-start their relationship with their teenager:

 

Reframing

Communicating intent to change

Keeping the goals in mind

 

Communicating the Intent to Change

 

The second technique for restoring the parent-teen relationship is for parents to verbally declare their intent to restart the relationship.  To do this, parents communicate the following ideas to their teenager:

 

1. “I’m sorry we have had a difficult relationship over the years.  I will no longer fight with you or try to control you. I would just like to have a good relationship with you.”

 

For some parents these words may seem hard to say, but teenagers are old enough to appreciate these words of reconciliation.  Imagine that someone you have been fighting with for many years one day said, “I’ve been thinking a lot about our relationship and our fighting has driven us further and further apart.  How about we stop fighting and start over again?  I promise not to nag, bother, attack or criticize you anymore.  I will be here only as a friend who will give you advice only when you want it.”   Most people would feel relieved that the battle was over and glad to have a chance to start again to build a positive connection.

 

Of course, words are not enough.  They must be followed by action. Parents need to stick to the principles of Relationship Theory by moving to improve their connection, reduce their control and stay within the guidelines of positive and compassionate communication.

 

2. All along I was looking at you and relating to you as if you were still my little child.  I now realize that you have changed. You are your own unique individual.”

 

One of the most important needs teens at risk have is the desire to be respected as autonomous individuals by their parents and teachers.  Before reading this series, parents were likely to have been waging a constant war with their teenagers – trying to stop them from asserting their own identity.   Relationship Theory maintains that in order to break the stalemate, parents should tell their teenagers that they now view them as independent individuals and that they respect who the teenagers are, even if they don’t always agree with their actions.

 

Some parents may feel that this declaration is akin to agreeing to negative behavior.  However, as we have seen throughout the series, parents no longer wield full control over their teenagers.  They would do much better to let go and give them their own space. In this way, recognizing their individuality is not a sign of weakness, rather it is part of an overall strategy to regain momentum in the relationship.

 

3. “If I am unaware of difficulties or problems in your life or am somehow glossing over any, please feel free to share them with me when you feel comfortable.”

 

Teenagers at risk feel alienated from their parents.  They often believe that no one is interested in hearing about their problems.  They also believe that their parents have a secret agenda to control and manipulate them. In order to moderate these feelings, parents need to tell their teenagers that they no longer have an agenda. Rather, they want to talk to them about what they are actually feeling.  Teenagers need to feel that their parents are a sounding board, not people who will try to criticize or control them.

 

I once made this declaration to a young client who was suspicious of adults, including her parents and me. She felt that as a counselor, I was somehow an extension of her parent’s authority.  I said honestly, “Look, I have no agenda.  My only concern is for your health and happiness.  If I can do anything to make your life better, please tell me.”

 

At the following session, I felt I was meeting a new person.  All along, she had felt that her parents had sent her to me to fix her problems.  Instead I was straightforward with her and told her that I was only there to help her and that I had no ulterior motive.

 

Keeping The Goals of Relationship Theory In Mind

 

The third technique for restarting your relationship is to monitor and maintain the positive changes that are made. Like any other difficult task in life, applying the Three Cs of Relationship Theory takes time and practice.  When the going gets rough, parents need to remind themselves of the purpose for changing their attitude towards their teenager. They also need to remember themselves the goals of Relationship Theory.  These goals are to

 

Develop a life-long relationship.

Motivate without coercion.

Actively listen and connect to the teenager’s inner world.

 

In the long run, Relationship Theory works because motivation is easier when it’s provided without coercion. Teenagers can’t be pushed to change, but they may be gently pulled in the right direction. In order to do this, a parent must step back and create a safe emotional “space” where the motivation can be accomplished.  This space has to be friendly, respectful and comfortable for a teenager to exist within.  It must also feel safe because safety is necessary for positive emotional growth.

 

Keep in mind that raising a teenager is often like being a gardener of the most beautiful garden in the world.   Successful gardeners are dedicated to their gardens and to giving them all the nutrients needed for their growth.  Parents too must provide the nourishment and care that their teenagers need to reach their full potential and beauty.  The principles of Relationship Theory offer the right amount of emotional nourishment needed for teenagers to outgrow their at-risk behavior.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/reframing-continued-from-october-15-2010/2010/10/27/

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