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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Minister Uri Ariel: Keep Administrative Detention for ‘Time Bombs’

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Hunger-striking Palestinian Islamic Jihad administrative detainee prisoner Mohammed Alla’an is still in very serious condition at Barzilai Medical Center, but is not being force-fed, and technically he is free at this time.

The High Court of Justice has suspended his administrative detention after it became clear that his medical condition had deteriorated and he had caused himself brain damage as a result of refusing food for more than 60 days.

Attorneys for the suspected terrorist and for the state have been debating over what has been the core cause of Alla’an’s condition — his hunger strike or the administrative detention that led him to refuse food in a bid for freedom.

Few are pointing to the behavior that led to the administrative detention in the first place, in part because the evidence has not been made public.

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel told Galei Tzahal Army Radio in an interview this morning (Aug. 20) he opposes the use of administrative detention except for when the suspect can be classified as a “ticking time bomb.”

“The State of Israel resorts to the practice of administrative detentions too easily and too often,” Ariel said. “It should only be used in cases in which there is an imminent threat of an attack.”

Ariel said the state, rather than the High Court, has mishandled the current situation with the hunger-striking Alla’an.

“My problem is not with the High Court of Justice,” the minister said. “It’s the fact that the representatives of the state don’t force-feed him and make sure that [Allan] stays alive.”

“They can’t find any doctor in the entire country willing to force-feed him,” Ariel said. “It boggles the mind. The situation that has been created is more than strange.”

Feiglin Bans Arab MK from Podium for Calling Him ‘Fascist’

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Knesset guards forcibly removed an Arab Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka from the podium Monday evening on orders from Acting Speaker Moshe Feiglin for calling him a “fascist.”

For good measure, Zahalka added that considering he was talking about Feiglin, the word fascist was a “compliment.”

The guards removed him from the chamber, but Feiglin, remaining the parliamentarian, told them he only ordered that Zahalka be taken away from the podium. As he returned to the chamber, pandemonium broke out in the circus, and everyone had a good time shouting at each other.

Other Arab MKs and Labor MK Shelley Yechomovich rushed towards the podium to protest Feiglin’s action, which he said he carried out according to the Knesset code.

Prior to Zahalka’s “fascist” comments, Feiglin had evicted Hadash party Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh from the Knesset for telling Feiglin he should “be choked.”

The mayhem revolved around the  daily circus’ event of the day, a no-confidence motion over the “Jewish State Bill” that would define Israel as a Jewish state.

Zahalka managed to get in a few words against the idea, quoting Jewish philosopher Hanna Arendt, who fled the Nazis and lived in the United States and railed against the idea or re-establishing the State of Israel because it would make Arabs second-class citizens.

Zahalka said Arendt used the term “Palestinians,” prompting Feiglin to interrupt and ask him if that was the actual word she used.

Zahalka replied that she indeed said “Palestinians” and then began to lecture Feiglin that he should read the source and perhaps “learn something.” He said Arendt was anti-fascist, but he turned to Feiglin and called him a fascist.

The acting speaker, in his usual calm manner, said that Zahalka could not continue speaking, but he ignored or didn’t even hear Feiglin. Within seconds, the guards came to remove him, and he went into a rage, grabbing the podium to resist his ouster.

Can a Knesset Member called another MK a “fascist”? Can he call him a “Nazi”?

Or how about “dirty Jew?”

Or “dirty Arab?”

Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog sharply criticized Feiglin for removing Zahalka from the podium, accusing him of violating “freedom of thought and democracy.”

What would he had said if Feiglin had called an Arab MK a “terrorist?

The video of the Knesset show is in Hebrew but that shouldn’t keep anyone from understanding what happened.

The action starts at two minutes in the video.

Haredi MK Banished from Knesset Two Weeks for Handcuff Gimmick

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

The Knesset will be lacking one of its more colorful Knesset Members for two weeks following an Ethics Committee decision to punish Haredi MK Meir Porush for handcuffing himself to the Knesset podium last July in an outstanding theatrical appearance..

MK Porush was enraged over the bill, now law, that almost all Haredi youth must serve in the IDF. Porush, a member of the United Torah Judaism party, stole the show with his handcuffing act, which lasted for several minutes until guards were able to unlock the handcuffs and separate Porush from the podium.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein filed a complaint with the Ethics Committee, which now has decided that the honorable MK insulted the honor of the legislature.

Dare We Be Silent on Syria?

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Rabbi Chanina the deputy [High] Priest said: Pray for the welfare of the government (lit., monarchy), for if not for its fear, a person would swallow his fellow live. Pirkei Avos, Chapter 3, Mishna 2

Syria presents a fascinatingly real, morbid ethical question, similar to the questions of Darfur and Rowanda.

At first glance, Syria is no more than a civil war; the reality is that it is turning into a brutal massacre of innocents – by all sides.

People are gunned down in their homes, hearts are ripped out of corpses and eaten, at least one, if not all sides are using poison gas.

It’s easy to say, “Let them kill each other, it keeps them busy and not fighting with us.”

And there’s truth to that statement.

It’s their civil war, and they need to figure out how to divide their country, or live together, and sometimes war is the only way.

It’s also true that if they are busy entangled with destroying each other, it sets them back from being in a position or having the capacity to attack us in the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, more than 120,000 people have been killed. Children have been massacred.

Rabbi Chanina was right, that without a working, healthy government – even one that is a brutal dictatorship, chaos, anarchy and even (literal) cannibalism follows.

As Jews, who have been under the threat and execution of Arab terror and war for so long by these very same neighbors, it’s easy to sit back and say they are getting what they deserve in Syria, Egypt, and wherever else is next.

More importantly, as we learned in the first Lebanon war, getting involved in the Arab’s civil war will drag us into places we don’t want to go, and we’ll end up having to pay a price we’d didn’t need to pay.

On the other hand, when mass murder of innocents (not combatants) is happening at our doorstep, don’t we have some obligation to try to prevent that?

True, Israel has been (quietly) helping many of the Syrian injured. Perhaps, that’s enough, but perhaps it’s not.

I don’t have an answer to this question, but it needs to be asked.

What’s Wrong With the Star-K Kosher Phone?

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

About a month ago the Star-K, a world renowned Kashrus agency, announced that they were certifying kosher phones. These phones have no access to the Internet, cannot place or receive text messages, cannot take photos, and most importantly, cannot be hacked to perform any of these tasks.

It’s not troubling to me that people would want a phone that is insulated from certain tasks. Although I think it is an unnecessary measure and perhaps counter productive, I don’t begrudge people their personal self control restraints.

What is troubling is that a kashrus agency is part of this initiative. A kashrus agency should be concerned with one thing and one thing only. Their singular concern should be the kosher status of the food. I don’t even think that a kashrus agency must concern itself with humanitarian or other ethical issues that may arise. I have no problem with a secondary agency coming in and providing a secondary level of supervision. But the kosher status of the food cannot be affected by anything other its status as kosher food.

So when I see a kashrus agency entering into the phone market, I see an agency that should be worried about kosher status of food but is now legislating morality. It’s not even as if the technical skills involved in kosher supervision overlap the neutering of cell phones. They have nothing to do with each other. I don’t think it is smart for kosher supervision to be intertwined or even related to morality supervision.

Similarly, when kosher supervision agencies make demands on the clientele or ambience of an eating establishment I believe they are overstepping their bounds. There are restaurants that are not allowed to be open at certain hours because they will lose their hechsher if they are open. This is far beyond the scope of kosher supervision. Tell me if the food is kosher and I will decide if I want to patronize the restaurant. That is all we need from a kashrus agency. The stretching of their authority serves no important purpose for the public. It seems to me that it is merely a self-serving, self-righteous way to legislate their morality. If they can legislate phones and who can eat where, what’s next?

I am not making a slippery slope argument. I am pointing out that there is no logical connection between the kosher status of food and the kosher status of a phone. There is also no relationship between the kosher status of a restaurant and whether teenagers are hanging out. In other words, the kashrus agencies are already legislating their morality. There is no reason to think it only will apply in these two instances because there is no connection between these two things and the kosher status of food.

We need to stop using the word kosher for things other than food. Yes, the word is a general term but it has evolved into a word that describes whether food can be eaten by orthodox Jews who keep kosher. We don’t eat anything that is not kosher. Using the word kosher for phones and Internet implies that the non-kosher versions are not allowed to be used. This is sophomoric and divisive.

If anything, the kashrus agencies should be concerned with the ethics and morality of the actual food. This is something they have resisted time and time again. I am not recommending they get into the ethics of food business, but if they must expand their business and purview of supervision I think that is the first place they should be looking to legislate seeing as they have the knowledge and expertise to monitor and report on that aspect of food production. But teens mingling and phones? They don’t belong there at all.

Visit Fink or Swim.

Arab MK Tibi Demoted, Fined for Dumping Water on Podium (Video)

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

The Knesset Ethics Committee has fined Arab Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi $5,900 for his antics from the Knesset podium last month.

Tibi is the first Arab MK to be appointed Deputy Knesset Speaker. Make that in the past tense: “He was.” The Ethics Committee demoted him from the position until the end of the current session

He and seven other Arab MKS demonstrated their great respect for the law and the honor of the Knesset by stepping up to the podium and tearing up the bill, now a law, which regulates hundreds of illegal Bedouin villages whose residents are to be moved to legal homes.

Haredi MK Moshe Gafni put on the same theatrics earlier this year when he tore up a Knesset document from the podium.

Arab MK Ahmed went one step further in his stage performance last month by dumping a cup of water on the bill, damaging the Knesset podium microphone and amplifier.

“Comedy Hour” is every hour on the hour at the Knesset, but Tibi’s antics did not amuse the Knesset Ethics Committee.

Tibi explained to the committee members that he simply was carrying out a quaint Arab saying that one should spill water on something that has not value and let it drink the water.

The electronic equipment and the bill that he tore up before spilling water did not honor the Arab saying, and the committee censured Tibi.

His office replied, that the Ethics Committee decision was “manipulation that is not worthy of a response.”

That in itself is a marked improvement. It is rare when a Knesset Member not only has nothing to say but also admits it.

The Committee did not fine the other Arab MKs and MK Gafni, stating that their behavior was not honorable but that they did not violate the Knesset  protocol that forbid using an external object to make a point.

The Committee explained that there is no clause in the protocol that prohibits a Knesset member from tearing up a document, even it if is a law.

Many Knesset Members not only tear up laws but they also break them.


Women behind Bars Get Three Days of Jewish Studies

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

For Jews in prison, incarceration can keep them isolated from their family and their faith. But thanks to the Aleph Institute, a Florida-based nonprofit, they and their loved ones receive some much-needed help from an organization that has been providing assistance for more than three decades.

In fact, the institute’s Yeshiva in Prison program recently expanded to include a visit for the first time to female prisoners, said Rabbi Aaron Lipskar, executive director of the institute.

The program spans three days of interactive classroom-style work. Yeshiva volunteers work with inmates in small groups or on a one-on-one basis to provide introspection using the Torah. Inmates learn how to live as a Jew despite their surroundings.

The program covers many topics, including Jewish law, ethics, explanatory prayer services, kosher dietary laws, faith and reason, and Kabbalah. Daily afternoon lectures focus on the idea of personal responsibility, self-control and the skills for accepting authority.

The idea is to help channel the inmate’s energies in a positive manner, which could improve a sense of personal responsibility, explained the rabbi.


Earlier this month, program volunteers Rebbetzin Chanie Lipskar, Judy Adouth, Leah Lipskar and Rochel Katz went to Coleman Federal Prison Camp near Orlando, Fla., for their first time teaching female inmates.

The three-day sessions included a full-day program—8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.—of interactive classroom-style learning. The volunteers also divided the women into smaller focus groups, each concentrating on a prepared course subject by the teacher.

Katz said of the experience: “I’ve gained as much as the inmates have, if not more.”

She alluded to preconceptions regarding inmates and prison culture in general, and noted that they can often be misguided. “Some of the women were doctors, and lawyers—educated women with tears running down their faces in gratitude for myself and my colleagues taking the time to spend the day with them,” she said.

Chaplain Yolanda Garcia works there, and called the Yeshiva program “awesome.”

“I think the women felt a sense of womanhood being around Jewish female representatives,” she said. “I actually received a ‘thank you’ card from them. It taught them how to get along with each other and pray with each other.”

Garcia welcomed the opportunity for the program to return to the prison camp. Rabbi Lipskar responded that the group will absolutely come back to female prisons.


The Aleph Institute was founded 32 years ago by Lipskar’s uncle, Rabbi Sholom Lipskar, at the request of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. The organization says it regularly services more than 4,000 Jewish inmates and nearly 6,000 of their family members. The institute has 35 employees, including a dozen rabbinical positions and many volunteers.

“From a personal perspective,” said Lipskar, “it’s very rewarding to make a tangible impact in someone’s life at very challenging times. It certainly is very special.”

Beyond the Yeshiva program, the institute’s prison work encompasses a range of activities at the federal, state and local levels.

During the High Holy days, for example, it helps conduct more than 300 services in prison. Much of Aleph’s inmate advocacy work is related to basic issues, Lipskar said, such as inmate placement, medical concerns and what materials can be contained in a religious library.

The foundation does not provide lawyers or legal advice, but it can be involved in the legal process, he said, such as creating alternative programs for offenders. If a medical professional is found guilty of prescription fraud, for instance, Lipskar said the institute could suggest he work a certain number of hours at a rehab center, perhaps cleaning bed pans, to appreciate the damage he has done.

“We try to help people through the entire process, and to maintain familial relations,” said the rabbi.

To that end, the institute has a gift program, sending birthday or Chanukah presents to children in the name of the inmate. There’s even a pen-pal program to write to Jewish inmates, both of which add moral support to their prison stays.

In addition to its prison-related efforts, the institute has been helping Jews in the military for 20 years now.

It works with close to 5,000 Jewish service members and their families through Aleph Operation Enduring Traditions. That support could take the form of advocating for the rights of Jews, providing training to military chaplains, sending food packages to personnel and even distributing camouflaged pocket-size Torahs.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/women-behind-bars-get-three-days-of-jewish-studies/2013/05/28/

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