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July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

It’s Hanukkah, Not Thanksgiving and Not Thanksgivukkah

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

I already have erased the first version of this article, which was preachy and snotty, when I realized I have lived in Israel too long to remember that I lived too long in America before moving to Israel.

All of the rah-rah Israel attitude than landed with me 30 years ago comes out like a tired preacher fed up with his flock of sinners and no longer able to lead them to the path of Truth and Beauty.

So for all of you still in the United States, and in Canada where I lived for eight years, the only way I know to get inside you is to write the news and views the way I see it, and not as the journalist I once was, when I had traded in Judaism for Journalism as The Way of Life.

My trip into idol worship – H. L. Mencken was one of my gods – ended in the news room at a major metropolitan daily in Canada, where I had the fancy title of Senior News Editor with a salary I have not seen again until this day.

That was in 1981, during what was known as the Peace for the Galilee campaign, usually referred to as the First War in Lebanon. I was ripping off UPI and AP copy, poring through the reports and deciding what our readers would read and what would go into the trash bin.

At that time, Judaism was a memory, and Zionism was an embryo, which I did not know existed.

Let’s go back a bit, but briefly. I grew up in a home where my parents of blessed memory became observant when I was almost too young to remember. Fast forward to 1960, when I was 16 and when they already were heavily involved in the Orthodox Union and Hadassah and took their first trip to Israel.

I was going to public high school but was very serious in my religious learning, which I continued at the “afternoon Hebrew school” well after my Bar Mitzvah. My favorite bedtime reading was the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch on Jewish laws.

Israel was never a part of my studies, except for stories about Jews in the days of “Palestine.”

When my parents returned with photographs of Israel, I refused to look at them. I blurted out instinctively, “Israel is not a religious state. I do not want to see pictures from a Jewish state that is not orthodox.”

If you have not gotten the point, I was far from a Zionist. As a cub reporter in a small hillbilly town in Virginia during the Six-Day War, I remember my managing editor calling out, “Hey, do you know what you guys are doing to the Arabs?

I did not know and could not have cared less. I was more interested in pounding the police beat.

But what happened in the news room in Canada during the war in Lebanon tore me up.

Journalism was my Truth, but something did not read right between the lines of the wire copy.

It said that Israeli soldiers were attacking “guerillas” inside Lebanese territory and then noted the “invasion” followed some rockets that had fallen on Israel, killing a few people here and there.

And you thought that the anti-Israel bias on the war against terror in Gaza, Judea and Samaria is something new? Every day, I read about Israel “invading” Lebanon and killing these “guerillas,” with the obvious bias that Israel was to blame for the violence that I could see between the lines was initiated in Lebanon.

I couldn’t take it anymore. My belief in Journalism was extinguished in a flash. I was devastated. After six weeks, I walked into the news room and said, “I quit.”

The bosses were astonished but did not ask for an explanation, and I do not know if I could have answered. Journalism had become  a lie, and there would be no sense telling the gods they have ears and cannot hear and have eyes and cannot see.

Two years later, I took my first trip to Israel – on a one-way ticket, intent to stay, which I did.

So dear, reader, I am trying not to preach to you. I can only let you know of one person’s path to The Truth.

Everyone has his or her own path, and I cannot communicate to you other than through the news and views.

You have your reasons – let’s be honest and call them excuses, in most cases – to remain outside of Israel. I am not referring to those with children. I  mean all of the singles and couples without children and without the financial responsibility that could be a question mark before moving to Israel. We can discuss that some other time.

I cannot persuade you or convince you other than to write through my eyes that see Israel with its warts and puts them in perspective of a Divine Presence that protects this country, and see the warts of American in the perspective of a fading empire whose Jews are living in their hope that there will always be a tomorrow.

All of this comes to mind on what is being called Thanksgivukkah, a name which says volumes.

I am sure Americans have a lot to be thankful about, and I will let each one count his own blessings.

My “anti” stage has long passed; I am not anti-American nor anti-America. I was born there, grew up there, was educated there and worked there.

And I am thankful that Thanksgiving is so far behind me that I don’t have the burden of having to celebrate the Miracle of Lights and the Jewish victory over the Romans  in the home of the Jewish people along with the holiday that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

According to my prayer book, every day is a day of thanksgiving.

Ukrainian Jewish Leaders: Romania Unfit to Lead Holocaust Body

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Ukrainian Jewish leaders said Romania was unfit to head a Holocaust remembrance forum because it has not done enough to come to grips with its own Holocaust-era culpability.

Approximately 380,000 Jews were murdered in Romania-controlled areas during the Holocaust, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

“Romania’s actions prove it is not ready to assume responsibility for the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust, when Romanian troops acted as an occupying force in large parts of Ukraine under orders from the country’s pro-Nazi leadership,” Oleksandr Feldman, a Ukrainian lawmaker and president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, told JTA.

Feldman was reacting to reports that Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean was interested in having Romania head the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, or IHRA, in 2016. Canada currently heads the alliance.

Ukrainian Jewish Committee Secretary Eduard Dolinsky said that Romania’s embassy in Ukraine has rejected invitations by his organization to discuss ways to jointly commemorate the murder of Jews by Romanian troops.

The Romanian bid is supported in principle by Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee’s director of international affairs and personal representative on combating anti-Semitism for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe — an intergovernmental agency with 57 member states known by the acronym OSCE.

“There may be additional issues to tackle but Romania has taken some important steps toward coming to grips with its Holocaust-era record,” Baker said. He noted the 2005 establishment of the Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of Holocaust in Romania and the 2004 designation of a national Holocaust remembrance day on Oct. 9 — the day that Romanian authorities began deporting Jews to their deaths 72 years ago.

New Kosher Certification to Focus on Food Safety

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

A Canadian rabbi has created a new kind of Kosher certification named “Kosher Check” that not only makes sure foods are kosher under Jewish dietary laws but also monitors manufacturers to make sure they conform to food-safety controls.

Rabbi Avraham Feigelstock, who sits on the Vancouver Rabbinical Court, said, “Approval will be predicated on food manufacturers giving clear assurance they are observing additional, elevated standards for food safety, beyond those regulations mandated by government authorities.”

Consumer studies have revealed for years that large segments of Jewish, and non-Jewish customers alike, buy Kosher certified foods based on their belief that such products are manufactured to superior standards of food safety.

Among the food-safety programs considered benchmarks for Kosher Check, originally known as BC Kosher,  are those regarded as ‘best-practice’ by quality assurance authorities and food professionals worldwide.

“Kosher Check is intended to be value-added for customers, since it will provide them an extra measure of confidence concerning food-safety,” he said.

Richard Wood, Kosher Check business manager added that an initiative to promote awareness among consumers of the distinctive Kosher Check identification – a conjoined capital “K” and “check-mark,” with the program name and tag line, “Kosher Checked. Globally Accepted.” – would follow soon after.

Israel’s ‘Trophy’ Defense for APCs Passes Tough US Army Test

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Israel’s “Trophy” defense system for General Dynamic’s LAV-III armored personnel has passed tough tests, including live fire under harsh terrain conditions in Canada, Israel Defense reported Tuesday.

The system withstood advanced anti-tank rocket fire, recoilless guns, short range fire and fire from different weapons simultaneously to verify the system’s functionality.

The Trophy system’s success in Israel has been proven on the IDF’s Merkava Mark IV tanks, which were deployed in Gaza during last year’s Pillar of Cloud counter-terrorist operation.

Legalizing Marijuana Would End Black Market, Says Israeli Study

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Legalizing marijuana would generate more than $450 million annually for the Israeli economy, according to  a new study released by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies.

The black market for cannabis in Israel currently is worth $707 million annually, and legalizing the sale of grass, if taxed like cigarettes, would blow $268 million into the government’s money pot. In addition, it would save law enforcement agencies $198 million since they would not have to spend money to smokers of weed.

The study found that approximately 275,000 Israelis, 4 percent of the population, used marijuana in the past year, only 26 percent of Israelis support legalization of marijuana, while 64 percent opposes it.

In the United States, slightly more than half go those surveyed support legalizing grass. Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but 20 states to allow the use of medical marijuana. However, the Obama administration last week gave the green light for Colorado and Washington to carry  out their laws to permit recreational use of marijuana.

The Justice Department said it would bring charges on marijuana only in certain cases, such as distributing it to minors.

The announcement “demonstrates the sort of political vision and foresight from the White House we’ve been seeking for a long time,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group.

The Justice Department added that it is watching Colorado and Washington closely to see  if they can properly control marijuana use.

President Barack Obama has said he smoked grass when he was young, and a federal survey has found that 42 percent of Americans age 12 and older have smoked marijuana at some point in their lives.

The financial gains for states – and Israel is not being ignored,

“Recognizing the enormous financial gains that would come from legalization demands that the government take a serious look at the proposal to legalize cannabis use under specific guidelines,” said Yarden Gazit, who co-authored the study in Israel.  “There is no disputing that if the public is able to get past the wholly negative misperceptions associated with marijuana usage and appreciate the potential benefits with limited social or healthcare costs, this is an idea that needs open-minded and serious re-examination at this time.”

News of the survey coincided with Canada’s launch of controlled medical marijuana, an industry that is expected to be worth more than $1 billion in the next 10 years. Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada for years but has been highly regulated. Now it is available by mail-order with a doctor’s approval.

Besides all of the arguments  over whether marijuana is a drug that can lead to addiction, the underlying desire for governments to legalize it is money.

“We’re fairly confident that we’ll have a healthy commercial industry in time,” Sophie Galarneau, a senior Health Canada official told the Canadian Press.  

The Green Leaf party in Israel has been trying to get into the Knesset for years to push its agenda to legalize pot. In early pre-election polls, it usually receives support that puts it on the brink of winning the minimum number of votes to win Knesset seats, but when the real ballots are counted, it always loses out.

The pro-marijuana campaigns in the United States may generate new enthusiasm to legalize marijuana in Israel, where liberal leaders  almost always turn to American for cultural guidance.

Portland, Maine media reported Wednesday that supports of legalizing recreation marijuana will start promoting their agenda on city buses, with a message that grass is a better and safer alternative to alcohol.

Critics have complained that the campaign should not be on buses because children ride them to school.

Portland’s voter will go the ballot box in November to decide on a proposal to legalize marijuana by 2016. I

The Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project has targeted Maine and nine other states in its campaign to legalize grass within three years.

The JTA contributed to this report.

Kenya, Unlike Israel, ‘Does not Negotiate with Terrorists’ (Video)

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Loud explosions pouring black smoke into the skies of Nairobi Monday afternoon signaled a hoped for conclusion of the bloody military-style terrorist attack on the partly-Israeli owned Westgate Mall in Nairobi, where the death toll is feared to rise to nearly 70 or more.

Authorities, who promised on Sunday that the three-day siege would end by nightfall, said they are in the final stages of killing or arresting all of the terrorists after having “smoked them out” with an assault at dawn.

Security forces said that they have taken control of the entire mall, but gunfights and explosions continued after the announcement. Despite claims that no hostages remain, it is feared that several still remain trapped by the terrorists.

Nearly 200 people already have been counted as wounded, and 62 have been confirmed as murdered, including the wife of a U.S. AID worker.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose nephew and his fiancé were among the victims, maintained a policy that Israel introduced to the world in the Entebbe raid and then abandoned in recent years – no negotiations with terrorists. “We will not negotiate with terrorists,” said Colonel Cyrus Oguna, a Kenyan military spokesman.

Al Shabaab has been airing propaganda, claiming that its terrorists on Monday repulsed “Israelis and Kenyan forces” that tried to enter the mall. Kenyan officials said clashes erupted inside the building early Monday morning, when approximately a dozen terrorists or believed to be holed up in a supermarket.

Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage said in an online audio statement, “The mujahedeen will kill the hostages if the enemies use force.”

At least five Americans have been injured and at least four Britons have been killed.

Among the dead are the wife a foreign worker for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Nairobi, a dentist, a widely-known Ghanan professor and poet, a British-Australian architect and his pregnant girlfriend, a Canadian diplomat who was a liaison officer with the Canada Border Services Agency, an 8-year-old child from India, two French women, a woman form China who worked in real estate, and a retired UNICEF worker from Peru.

Al Qaeda Takes ‘Credit’ for Kenya Attack, Holds Hostages in Mall

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Al Qaeda has taken responsibility for the ongoing terrorist attack that so far has resulted in the murders of at least 59 victims, with others still being held hostage by up to 15 terrorists. Nearly 200 have been wounded.

The attack began on Saturday with an armed attack on Nairobi’s upscale Westgate Mall. More than 1,000 have escaped, but Sky News reported Sunday that security forces have not been able to secure the second floor of the shopping center after clearing terrorists from the upper and lower levels.

Several American were injured, but none have been killed, according to the latest reports. Two Canadians, at least one of them a diplomat. were murdered by the Somalia-based al Shabaab terrorist organization, linked with Al Qaeda. A statement from al-Shabab on its official Twitter feed Saturday says the attacks are retribution for military action by Kenya inside Somalia.

One eyewitness told Sky News, “I witnessed a few people get up and say something in Arabic and the gunmen let them go. A colleague of mine said he was Muslim and recited something in Arabic and they let him go as well. I saw a lot of children and elderly people being shot dead.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/al-qaeda-takes-credit-for-kenya-attack-holds-hostages-in-mall/2013/09/22/

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