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April 1, 2015 / 12 Nisan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Israel Hits Back at ICC

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has taken the first steps in hitting back at the ICC for its eagerness to try and prosecute Israel for fictitious war crimes.

Liberman said on Israel radio that Israel will ask Israel’s friends in Canada, Australia and Germany to stop funding the ICC. Israel and the US are not members of the ICC.

Japan’s Prime Minister is currently in Israel and Israel will also ask Japan to stop contributing to the ICC.

In the international community there is concern that the Palestinian Authority’s actions may destroy whatever credibility the ICC may have had. They’re right to be worried.

Giant Chabad Menorah Lit Without Ceremony in Martin Place, Sydney

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

In Sydney, Australia, a public Hanukkah menorah still stands tall in the very same place it has stood in Martin Place for the last 30 years.

The 10 meter high menorah was not the center of festivities this year, however: instead, a message was prominently displayed for the public to read.

“The Jewish community of Australia expresses our deepest sympathy for the families of the Martin Place tragedy. May the Lights of the Festival of Chanukah bring comfort and warmth to our nation.”

The decision to cancel the annual Lighting Ceremony of the Hanukkah Menorah in Martin Place, scheduled for Thursday Dec. 18, the third night of the holiday, was made “after lengthy discussions and consultation with the authorities and communal leaders,” explained Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Rabbi Elimelech Levy, Director of Chabad NSW and coordinator of the annual “Chanukah in the City” celebration.

“While the event was canceled, the presence of the Giant Menorah sends a powerful message that light will always overcome darkness,” Levy said.

“As we mourn the loss of life and the atrocity that has taken place, people of goodwill will continue to shine the light of freedom and communal harmony, which is what the Chanukah Menorah is all about,” he added.

According to Chabad officials at the movement’s World Lubavitch Headquarters at “770” Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, NY, the Martin Place Giant Menorah was indeed lit and cast its Light upon the area as it does each year. However, in deference to the memory of the victims, no public ceremony was held to mark the occasion.

The manager of the Lindt cafe and a local barrister were killed last Tuesday after being held hostage together with at least 15 others by a lone gunman, Man Haron Monis. The victims were shot as special agents stormed the cafe in an attempt to free the hostages. The self-styled Iranian cleric had forced his captives to hold up a flag bearing the Shahada — the Islamic creed, written in Arabic — in the window, for hours.

An earlier article about the Menorah contained an error about the lighting ceremony due to a misunderstanding which has since been clarified.

The Diapora’s Dilemma in Sydney

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The cancellation of the tradition public lighting of the Chabad menorah in Sydney this week epitomizes the excruciating neurosis of Jews in the Diaspora, torn between living freely as Jews and having to co-exist with the somewhat tolerant if not ignorant ruling powers.

I do not pre-judge the cancellation of the public lighting on the public area very near the scene of this week’s siege of the Lindt’s Café, in which another Islamic loony held hostages for 16 hours before police stormed the store. Two of the hostages were killed.

It would be too easy and wrong to write smugly from Israel that the Jewish community caved into pressure to cancel the public lighting. It may even have been the Jewish leaders’ own initiative to do so “out of respect” to the families of the victims.

If the victims had been Jewish, God forbid, they might have made the same decision that is politically correct but fundamentally wrong. Beneath the surface lies the eternal contradiction of Judaism and Jews in the Diaspora.

The need to be socially and culturally acceptable among the non-Jewish hosts in a foreign country – foreign meaning outside the Jewish home of Israel – clashes with the individual need to live Judaism fully.

The non-Jews cannot be expected to understand Judaism’s inner meaning and spirituality, but it is a tragedy that Jews’ understanding is tainted by their living in the Diaspora.

Hanukkah is universally recognized by lighting the Menorah, the Dreidel, the sickening sufganiyot –those unhealthy fried donuts once filled with jelly and now stuffed with everything from peanut butter to bubble gum – and the Xmas-inspired gift-giving.

Of all of these symbols, the Menorah is the only one that touches on the real meaning of Hanukkah, two victory of truth over evil in the war against the Greek conquerors of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple and the miracle of pure olive oil that was found in the debris of the Temple and which burned for eight days even though it was thought to be enough to burn for only one day.

For the non-Jew, and unfortunately as well as for many Jews, lighting the menorah has about as much meaning as lighting a Xmas tree, which has nothing to do with the origins of the holiday.

Light is beautiful. It is uplifting. It is fun. Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights.

The light of Hanukkah represents the belief in God, the belief in good over evil, and it symbolizes the victory of the Jews over those who want to destroy the light, such as the mad Muslim of Lindt’s.

The Xmas tree’s decorations are nice and pretty but have no meaning other than one’s individual thoughts of God, the beauty of light and nature, and the cost of electricity. They have nothing to do with the meaning of the holiday (AFAIK).

For the families of the siege of Lindt’s Café, the public lighting of the Menorah nearby the scene of the crime indeed would seem disrespectful because they do not understand nor cannot be expected to understand the deep meaning of Hanukkah.

For the Jew who understands the meaning behind the Menorah, lighting it in public would seem exactly the message needed to show that terror and murder cannot and must not conquer.

But Jews in the Diaspora must behave as they are expected to behave.

If God forbid the siege had taken place in downtown Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, I dare say that more Menorahs would be lit than ever before. The expression of the belief in God and not in the fear of terrorist and murders would be omnipresent in public.

Lindt Cafe’s Islamic Gunman Identified

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Australian news sources have identified the Lindt Cafe gunman as an Iranian cleric named Man Haron Monis (49).

Monis is out on bail following a series of violent crimes, having been accused of being an accessory in the brutal murder of his ex-wife.

Noleen Hayson Pal (30) was stabbed multiple times and then set on fire. Monis’s current partner, Amirah Droudis (34), is accused of that murder.

Monis was also charged with 50 counts of indecent and sexual assault.

He also sent offensive letters to the families of deceased soldiers in 2007 and 2009.

Monis came to Australia from Iran in 1996.

Australian Jews on High Security Alert Amid Hostage Crisis

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Jewish communities in Australia remained under lockdown as a hostage crisis continued at a café in Sydney.

The Community Security Group, which handles security for the Jewish communities of Australia, raised the threat level to severe on Monday after an apparent Islamist gunman entered a café in downtown Sydney and took dozens of hostages, the Australian Jewish News reported.

The Australian Jewish News reported that Jewish day schools throughout the country tightened security measures on Monday and cancelled all planned excursions.

The heightened alert will remain in effect on Tuesday, on orders from the Community Security Group, according to the newspaper.

The armed hostage-taker ordered his hostages to hold up a black flag with Islamic symbols and Arabic writing in the window of the Lindt Chocolate shop. Police reportedly made contact with the gunman on Monday night in Sydney. Five hostages have escaped and at least 30 remain.

Pre-Hanukkah Miracle for Israeli in Sydney Siege [video]

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Israeli religious singers Benny Elbaz and his son Gad left Sydney’s Lindt’s Café now under siege only moments before it was under siege by one or more Islamic fanatics, COL Live reported.

“Several minutes before the kidnapping…, all of our friends left after sitting there and hour and 15 minutes,” Elbaz wrote on Facebook.

“After several moments, it happened! A miracle, a miracle, a miracle of Hanukkah. There are no other words.”

The Elbaz father-and-son team is on tour in Australia and performed Sunday night. They were drinking coffee in the Lindt Café before preparing to fly to New York, via Singapore, for a performance.

“While thankful, my father and I are praying and hoping for a quick release of all the hostages safely and without harm,” Gad Elbaz told COLlive in a phone conversation. “We hope the light of Chanukah will shine their glow on the nation of Israel and the rest of the world,” he said.

Five hostages have escaped from the café, and two of the nearly 50 hostages that remain have been forced by their armed captor to hold up a black flag with Islamic symbols and Arabic writing in the Lindt’s store window.

An Australian broadcaster who refused to speak with the captor on air said that the hostages have been forced to call him “The Brother.” The abductor also has demanded to speak with Australian Prime Tony Abbott.

There no signs that he will talk with the man.

Police have made contact with the gunman

Hundreds of police have placed central Sydney on lockdown, and U.S. officials have evacuated staff from its nearby consulate.

So far, no one has been injured although one of the hostages who escaped was treated at a hospital for undisclosed reasons.

Archaeologists Uncover Tale of Ancient Mikveh and WWII Australian Soldiers

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Archaeologists excavating a construction site near the Ha’Ela Junction have uncovered a curious tale that entwines the fate of an ancient mikveh with that of two Australian soldiers who somehow ended up in the same spot in World War II.

The ancient ritual pool (“mikveh” in Hebrew) was recently uncovered at the Ha’Ela Junction during the routine excavations that are always carried out prior to construction in Israel, in this case to widen Highway 38.

Nearby, an enormous 1,700-year-old water cistern was also revealed, with graffiti scrawled on the ceiling of the reservoir, apparently by Australian soldiers during World War II.

The excavations are being carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority and are financed by the Netivei Israel Company, which is involved in the construction.

Yoav Tsur, IAA excavation director at the site, explained, “We exposed a mikveh in which there are five steps, with the fifth step being a bench where one could sit at the edge of the immersion pool.

“We found fragments of magnificent pottery vessels there, dating to the second century CE – among them lamps, red burnished vessels, a jug and cooking pots.

“Apparently the mikveh ceased to be used during the second century CE, perhaps in light of the Bar Kokhba revolt.

“A rock-hewn opening was exposed south of the mikveh, which appears to have been the entrance to a large water cistern. It seems that in an early phase it was a smaller reservoir and functioned as the “otzar) (water collection area) for the mikveh. When the mikveh ceased to be used, the cistern’s original cavity was increased to its current large dimensions and an extensive surface was built nearby, which facilitated drawing water.”

The archaeologists were also surprised to find during their excavations some graffiti engraved on the ceiling of the cistern, indicating that the site had been exposed at least until the 1940s.

Graffiti carved into ceiling of ancient cistern by Australian soldiers during World War II.

Graffiti carved into ceiling of ancient cistern by Australian soldiers during World War II.

The inscriptions were read by Assaf Peretz, an archaeologist and historian with the Israel Antiquities Authority, who said that two English names were carved in the rock: Cpl Scarlett and Walsh.

“Next to the names are caved the initials RAE and two numbers: NX7792 and NX9168. The date 30/05/1940 appears below the graffiti.”

The IAA inquired with authorities who confirmed that the numbers engraved in the cistern were indeed serial numbers of two actual soldiers, and that RAE stands for Royal Australian Engineers.

A search in government archives revealed that Corporal Philip William Scarlett was born in Melbourne in 1918, was drafted into the army in 1939, survived the war and died in 1970, shortly before his fifty-second birthday.

His comrade, Patrick Raphael Walsh, was born in 1910 in Cowra, was drafted in 1939, survived the war and passed away in 2005 at the age of 95.

It seems the two were members of the Australian Sixth Division. They were stationed in the country at the time of the British Mandate and undergoing training prior to being sent into combat in France.

Because France surrendered before the troops were ready they were ultimately sent to Egypt in October 1940 where they fought at the front in the Western Desert.

The archaeologists added, “If the relatives of these people are acquainted with the story, we’ll be happy if they contact us and we’ll share with them the warm greetings left behind by Scarlett and Walsh.”

Tsur pointed out that the finds from the excavation tell an exciting tale indeed: they “allow us to reconstruct a double story – about the Jewish settlement in the second century CE, probably against the background of the events of the Bar Kokhba revolt, and another story no less fascinating, about a group of Australian soldiers who visited the [same] site c. 1,700 years later and left their mark there.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/archaeologists-uncover-tale-of-ancient-mikveh-and-wwii-australian-soldiers/2014/10/07/

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