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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Golan’

Quick Takes: News You May Have Missed

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Specifics Surface On

Possible Syria-Israel Deal
 
   The Obama administration has drawn up a plan for Israel to give much of the strategic Golan Heights to Syria, according to informed Middle East security officials speaking to this column.
 
   Last week, this journalist first reported in this column and at WorldNetDaily that Dennis Ross, an envoy for the White House in the Middle East, visited both Israel and Syria in recent weeks to discuss specifics of a deal in which Syria would eventually take most of the Golan. The specifics of the plan, however, were not disclosed.
 
   Days after this reporter’s article appeared, similar reports surfaced in the Israeli and Arab media. Those reports also did not cite specifics of the plan.
 
   Now this column has learned that Ross proposed that Israel give Syria large swaths of the Golan Heights. Areas of the territory that house Israeli industrial zones will not need to be evacuated, but Israel is expected to lease the land from Syria, according to informed Middle East security officials.
 
   The U.S. plan has Syria declared the owner of most of the Golan while Israelis leasing land from Syria would be expected to pay direct taxes to Syria, the security officials said.
 
   The officials said Ross initiated the process of reaching out to both Israel and Syria in November. The Israeli government apparently neither approved nor rejected the plan.
 
   The officials said Ross is trying to get Syria to pay a price for the deal, such as scaling back its relationship with Iran and its support of Hizbullah.
 
   Thy also hinted that the delay of an international probe investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri is related to regional political dealings, including the talks with Ross.
 
   Syria has been widely blamed for Hariri’s death, although the Iranian-backed Hizbullah is expected to be directly blamed if the probe results are ever released. The results were supposed to be released months ago.
 
   Syria has twice used the Golan Heights to mount ground invasions into the Jewish state.
 
   Syria is in a strategic and military alliance with Iran and has been accused of helping fuel the insurgency against U.S. troops in Iraq. Syria is a state sponsor of Hizbullah, reportedly helping it arm itself with more than 10,000 missiles and rockets. Also, leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are based in Syria.
 
   The U.S. plan for the Golan comes as President Obama last week bypassed the U.S. Senate by using a Congressional recess period to directly appoint new ambassadors, including the first U.S. envoy to Syria since 2005.
 
   It marks the second time President Obama bypassed another agency or government branch to appoint a new ambassador to Syria.
 

   This column reported in July that Obama bypassed Hillary Clinton’s State Department in his announcement to send a new ambassador to Syria, even disrupting agency negotiations with the Syrian government aimed at extracting concessions from the Damascus regime for the stepped-up diplomatic relations between the two countries.

 

How Accurate Are Reports About

The ‘Arab’ Golan Heights?
 
   News media accounts routinely bill the Golan Heights as “undisputed Syrian territory” until Israel “captured the region” in 1967. The Golan, however, has been out of Damascus’s control for far longer than the 19 years it was within its rule, from 1948 to 1967.
 
   Even when Syria shortly held the Golan, some of it was stolen from Jews. Tens of thousands of acres of farmland on the Golan were purchased by Jews as far back as the late 19th century. The Turks of the Ottoman Empire kicked out some Jews around the turn of the century.
 
   But some of the Golan was still farmed by Jews until 1947, when Syria first became an independent state. Just before that, the territory was transferred back and forth between France, Britain and even Turkey, before it became a part of the French Mandate of Syria.
 
   When the French Mandate ended in 1944, the Golan Heights became part of the newly independent state of Syria, which quickly seized land that was being worked by the Palestine Colonization Association and the Jewish Colonization Association. A year later, in 1948, Syria, along with other Arab countries, used the Golan to attack Israel in a war to destroy the newly formed Jewish state.
 
   The Golan, steeped in Jewish history, is connected to the Torah and to the periods of the First and Second Jewish Temples. The Golan Heights was referred to in the Torah as “Bashan.” The word “Golan” apparently was derived from the biblical city of “Golan in Bashan.”
 
   The book of Joshua relates that the Golan was assigned to the tribe of Manasseh. Later, during the time of the First Temple, King Solomon appointed three ministers in the region, and the area became contested between the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel and the Aramean kingdom based in Damascus.
 
   The book of Kings relates that King Ahab of Israel defeated Ben-Hadad I of Damascus near the present-day site of Kibbutz Afik in the southern Golan, and the prophet Elisha foretold that King Jehoash of Israel would defeat Ben-Hadad III of Damascus, also near Kibbutz Afik.
 
   In the late 6th and 5th centuries B.C.E., the Golan was settled by Jewish exiles returning from Babylonia, or modern day Iraq. In the mid-2nd century B.C.E., Judah Maccabee’s grandnephew, the Hasmonean King Alexander Jannai, added the Golan Heights to his kingdom.
 

   The Golan hosted some of the most important houses of Torah study in the years following the Second Temple’s destruction and subsequent Jewish exile; some of Judaism’s most revered ancient rabbis are buried in the territory. The remains of some 25 synagogues from the period between the Jewish revolt and the Islamic conquest in 636 have been excavated. The Golan is also dotted with ancient Jewish villages.

 

Recent State Department Appointee

Wants ‘Net Neutrality’
 
   “Net neutrality” rules must be implemented for content control while the government should quintuple federal funding for public and community broadcasting, argues Ben Scott, the State Department’s recently appointed policy adviser for innovation.
 
   This argument appears in an article co-authored by Robert W. McChesney, an avowed Marxist activist who has called for the dismantlement “brick-by-brick” of the U.S. capitalist system, with America being rebuilt as a socialist society.
 
   McChesney is the founder of the George Soros-funded Free Press, which petitions for more government control of the Internet and news media.
 
   Scott and McChesney also recommended that the U.S. impose ownership limits on local radio, TV, and cable channels while pushing for more control of the media by the FCC.
 
   The article appeared in the January/February 2009 edition of Tikkun Magazine, run by avowed Marxist Michael Lerner.Lerner has been accused of using the magazine to justify Palestinian terror and has written articles in which he suggests the 9/11 attacks were a response to U.S. policies.
 
   “Net neutrality” refers to government demands for a principle for users’ access to networks participating in the Internet. The principle states that if a given user pays for a certain level of Internet access, and another user pays for the same level of access, then the two users should be able to connect to each other at the subscribed level of access.
 

   Just last week, FCC commissioners voted 3-2 to approve controversial “net neutrality” rules, with the content of those rules, about 100 pages, still being rolled out.

 
 

   Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter for Internet giant WorldNetDaily.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York’s 770-WABC Radio, the largest talk radio station in the U.S., every Sunday between 2-4 p.m.

Golan Surrender Would Be A Strategic Error For Israel

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Recent testimony before Congress revealed − incontestably − Syria’s secret preparations for membership in the Nuclear Club. Fortunately, on September 6, 2007, Israel’s jurisprudential and operational grasp of anticipatory self-defense had put a prompt (and generally unexpected) end to these illegal Syrian preparations. Unfortunately, however, and also very oddly, Prime Minister Olmert now contemplates a surrender of the 452 square mile Golan Heights to Syria.

Israel annexed the Golan (1981) only after defeating Syrian aggression in June 1967 − and after learning a bitter lesson from the October 1973 Yom Kippur surprise attacks. This annexation – in the fashion of Knesset extension of Israeli authority over Jerusalem − bestowed full protection of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. Significantly, according to Israel’s own criminal law (97:C): “Whoever plots to hand over a sovereign land of Israel to an enemy or otherwise, to a foreign country, commits treason.” So why, exactly, does the prime minister now tilt toward a Golan “de-annexation?”

Damascus shares with Iran and the entire Arab-Islamist world, a determined commitment to destroy Israel, either in collaborative surprise attacks or, per earlier codifications, “in phases.” All of these adversaries have documented intentions toward Israel that meet the strict legal tests for the crime of genocide. All of them, also actively support assorted terrorist groups that hold this very same goal. Syria, in particular, maintains very close ties to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and PFLP – GC.

In the final analysis, Mr. Olmert’s surrender position is premised on an expected quid pro quo. In exchange for the Golan, he expects a codified peace with Syria. Yet, this expectation is unsupportable, on its face. Further, it fails entirely to acknowledge the historic and religious importance of Ramat HaGolan in Jewish nationhood.

If Syrian President Bashar Assad were at all serious about peace, he would agree, inter alia, to crack down on Lebanon’s Hizbullah. He would also close down offices of the manyterrorist organizations that still thrive in his country. Yet, if official “peace” talks were reopened, Syria would be risking nothing. Israel’s risks, on the other hand, could be substantial. In essence, continued Israeli control of the Golan Heights represents a sine qua non of successful deterrence against a coordinated Arab attack on Israel.

Before 1967, Syria routinely attacked Israeli kibbutzim east along the northern part of the Jordan River and the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Today, an Israeli Golan withdrawal, from an area less than 1 percent (0.6%) of Syria’s total size, could leave the northern region of Israel open to wider Syrian or even Iranian invasion through the Jordan Valley. History records that hundreds of assaults on the Land of Israel west of the Jordan have been launched from or through the Golan. Such a withdrawal would uproot 32 Golan Jewish communities and threaten a third of Israel’s water supply. As Syria is a riparian state, any Golan transfer would also damage Israel’s tourism and fishing industries.

Any proposed Olmert argument must be based upon a strikingly naïve legalism. An Israel-Syria agreement would certainly require a demilitarized Golan Heights. But a true Syrian demilitarization of the Golan, which is roughly the size of New York City’s borough of Queens, could never happen. Ultimately, the prime minister’s manifestly incorrect reasoning lies in the critical limits of legal guarantees in our still anarchic world. A related problem concerns ever-changing missile and satellite technologies − transformations that could put Israel at great and presently unforeseen risks.

For real security, the IDF must retain its surveillance positions on the Golan, especially on Mt. Hermon. Pre-1967 warning stations do not have a clear line of sight deep into Syrian territory. Israel should never become dependent upon third parties for vital intelligence. Even a demilitarized Golan with advance early warning systems involving the United States would be inadequate. This was already fully understood immediately after the June 1967 war. Then, the U.S. Joint Chiefs (JCS) issued a major report advising permanent Israeli retention of the Golan. To be sure, nothing has changed in the ensuing 41 years to make this authoritative recommendation any less urgent.

Ironically, Israel’s border with Syria has been quieter than its borders with Egypt and Jordan − states with which Israel is formally “at peace.” Damascus still demands that Israel withdraw to the pre-1967 line − not to the international border, but all the way to the Sea of Galilee. Before 1948, the lake was entirely within Mandatory Palestine.

Syria has missiles that could place all of Israel within easy range of WMD warheads. Any Israeli abandonment of the Golan would only enhance this Syrian capability. Naturally, any Golan surrender would enlarge the prospect of war on the Lebanese front, and also the influence of terrorist factions that are still based securely in Damascus.

The Golan, which ranges up to a height of 7,300 feet, dominates the Jordan Valley as well as the Bashan Plateau. Here there are only two natural terrain bottlenecks. These choke points are presently defensible. With this plateau in Syrian hands, however, enemy tanks backed up by missiles and aircraft could potentially penetrate other parts of Israel. This penetration-capability would remain ominous even if the area were “demilitarized.”

Israel and the United States have substantially coincident regional security interests. Both countries should now stand together against a determined Syrian enemy of peace and democracy in the Middle East. Surely it is not in Israel or America’s interest to encourage renewed Syrian aggressions, or to expressly enlarge geo-strategic opportunities for radical Islamist sanctuaries.

Damascus has no real agenda for peace. Left to its own aggressive intentions, this country could already have posed an authentically existential danger to Israel, as well as a very serious security threat to the United States via its assortment of terrorist surrogates.

Back in September, Israel was wise enough to act upon the compelling imperatives of anticipatory self-defense to prevent a nuclear Syria. It should not now undo this wisdom by surrendering even an inch of the Golan. As should now be apparent from many wasted years of a “peace process,” Israel still has nothing to gain from a declared policy of Land For Nothing.

Copyright ©, The Jewish Press, July 4, 2008. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on Israeli security matters and international law. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

The Golan Heights Peace Plan

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

        Is there a solution for the military crisis plaguing Israel’s south? Can Israel successfully deal with the Kassam rockets? Or is Prime Minister Ehud Olmert right when he tells us that we just have to get used to it?


 


         You don’t need to be a military expert to come up with a plan to solve the Gaza problem. Israel already has a successful model that works perfectly – at least since the Yom Kippur War. It is the real peace model that has been implemented for years in the Golan Heights.

 

         Have you ever asked yourself where the safest place in Israel is? Where you don’t have to worry about Arabs throwing rocks at your car? Where you can walk around at night without fear of arms or drug smugglers crossing the border? Where missiles don’t fly and bombs don’t explode? In short, where is the place that you are safest from both external enemies and internal Arab terror and crime?

 

         That place is the Golan Heights. Without even trying, possibly even by mistake, Israel enjoys real peace there. Any new peace plan must follow the principles that have brought us true peace in the Golan. There are just five easy steps:

 

         1. Encourage Arab emigration


         2. Conquest


         3. Israeli sovereignty


         4. Settlement


         5. No peace accords

 

         Sixty thousand Syrian Arabs who were scattered throughout villages in the Golan Heights disappeared even before the Golan was liberated. The only ones who stayed were the Druze in the Golan’s north. These villages are the exception that proves the necessity of implementing the first principle.

 

         The second principle, conquest, was fully implemented by Israel in the Golan. No foreign forces remained there. The area is entirely controlled by Israel.

 

         Israel declared sovereignty over the entire Golan, settled it and, most important, never signed a peace treaty with Syria. This is how we have prevented the war under the guise of peace that we suffer on our border with Egypt from repeating itself on our border with Syria. These five steps will bring peace and security to Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

 

         How do we encourage the Arabs in these places to emigrate without the necessity of a major war? Al-Najah University in Shechem answered that question with their poll results. It turns out that over 60 percent of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria do not need any encouragement to leave. They are disgusted with the rule of the armed thugs that the Oslo Peace Club forced upon them. Their preferred destinations are the Gulf States and Canada.

 

         Many Western states currently suffer from negative demographics – less than two children per family. They are anxious to absorb skilled immigrants like the Arabs of Judea and Samaria who have learned quite a lot from Israel over the past 60 years. The huge current of Muslim immigrants that has engulfed the Western world over the past few decades points to the fact that this solution is entirely possible. Israel must make available to the Arabs all the resources necessary to encourage this trend.

 

        Approximately 10 percent of Israel’s entire budget is wasted annually on impossible solutions based on the Oslo eagerness to partition the Land of Israel. This sum constantly grows, as mega-costly solutions like the separation fence are proven absurd. They are then exchanged for even more grandiose defensive schemes, such as cutting edge space technology to protect Israel’s citizens from flying pipes. The colossal sums of money spent on these unrealistic programs could be spent more effectively. Instead of paying for more white elephants, Israel can give $250,000 to every Arab family that will stake its future far from Israel’s borders.

 

         Israel can implement a political plan based on the Golan Heights model. It depends on nothing more than our mentality. All that we must understand is that this is our land – not theirs. The question is whether Israel really wants peace, or if the “peace process” is just a euphemism for getting rid of the settlements that force Jewish identity on Israel’s tiny “elite.”

 

         As simple and effective as this plan may be, it will most likely not be adopted. Instead, Israel’s current leaders will stubbornly continue down the Oslo path of blood and terror. The sensible, Jewish solutions will all be pushed to the sidelines – because the minority ruling our country today is simply uninterested.

 

        (Translated from the article that appeared on Israel’s NRG website.)

 

         Moshe Feiglin is the founder and president of Manhigut Yehudit (the Jewish Leadership movement), dedicated to building authentic Jewish leadership for Israel. For more information or to order Feiglin’s newest book, The War of Dreams, visit http://www.jewishisrael.org/.

Opposing Olmert On Golan Surrender: Civil Disobedience As A Legal Imperative (Second of Two Parts)

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Can the Olmert government protect Israel’s citizens? After last summer’s Lebanon war, this is hardly a serious question. Further, following Iran’s continuing defiance of the international community in its illegal nuclearization, a defiance carried out with literal impunity, the consequences of Israel’s national impotence could soon be genuinely existential. Let us be candid. This is the case even before Mr. Olmert proceeds with his plan to give up the Golan.

Credo quia absurdum. Prime Minister Olmert now further endangers Israel’s survival by his openly planned acquiescence to Syrian deceptions on the Golan Heights. Not only a 1967 report by the American Joint Chiefs, but also the authoritative words of four distinguished Israeli (res.) generals, challenge the Prime Minister’s mistaken judgment: “Israel’s presence on the Golan Heights constitutes the optimal strategic balance with Syria and insurance against a massive Syrian attack,” said these Israeli strategists in 1995. “The IDF’s proximity to Damascus is also a guarantee against a Syrian missile launch into Israel’s rear. Any change in this balance would lessen Israel’s deterrent against potential Syrian aggression and jeopardize the quiet and stability that have characterized the Golan since 1974.”1

It is with precisely these grave dangers in mind that Israeli opponents of Olmert’s intended Golan surrenders will soon engage in purposeful civil disobedience. Recognizing that victimization by words2 can set the stage for subsequent victimization by force, they shall seek, perhaps desperately, to “stop the machine.” From the standpoints of both law and national survival, they will certainly be acting correctly.

To “stop the machine” is a metaphoric phrase taken directly from Henry David Thoreau’s classical explorations of civil disobedience. In his oft-quoted essay on the subject, the American transcendentalist spoke persuasively of essential opposition as an act of “counter friction.” Confronted with dreadful harms of the sort suffered and anticipated by so many Israelis, harms generated by years of now-President Peres’ “Peace Process,” and soon-to-be magnified by Prime Minister Olmert’s additional surrenders, he would urge, as he once did about policy deformations in this country: “Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.”

This is what Israel’s citizen protestors must now seek, not to lend themselves any longer to the unforgivable wrongs of the Rabin/Peres/Netanyahu/Barak/Sharon/Olmert agreements with the PLO/PA, or to any future Golan surrender to Syria. Among these many wrongs are assorted Israeli government legitimizations of Arab terrorism, and also corollary Israeli government refusals to punish egregious terrorist crimes. Israel and the fractionated Palestinian authority have not only effectively abandoned all pertinent jurisprudential obligations to seek out and prosecute Arab terrorists, they still cooperate in releasing killers of Israeli citizens from Israeli and Arab jails. Certainly Prime Minister Olmert and President Peres will not be willing to put an end to such incontestable violations of both Jewish Law and international law. Why should they? Crouched comfortably in the bruising darkness, their truth is the delusion of Plato’s cave. They see not what is happening right before their eyes, but only the shadows of what is real.

Let us return to germane matters of law. Israel’s agreements with the PLO contravene the binding obligation to punish acts that are crimes under international law. Known formally as Nullum crimen sine poena, “No crime without a punishment,” this requirement points unambiguously to the multiple acts of killing and torture ordered directly by “elected” Palestinian authorities over many years. To not only ignore this peremptory requirement, but also to further legitimize the wrongs by making these criminals a “partner for peace” has been a clear violation of Principle I of the binding Nuremberg Principles.3

Israel’s citizens, who now support and sustain the discredited Oslo/Road Map agreements, and/or Prime Minister Olmert’s intended Golan surrenders, are acting (whether expressly or tacitly) in stark violation of fundamental international law. They are also acting, of course, in violation of Israel’s national law and longstanding Jewish Law. At the same time, all those who would disobey both these suicidal agreements with terrorist gangs, and the still-intended Golan surrenders would be acting in full support of all three interrelated forms of law.

My readers in The Jewish Press will understand that these informed views of law and civil disobedience in Israel deserve a wide hearing. Now embarked upon surrender policies that threaten Israel’s very existence while they simultaneously undermine authoritative expectations of justice, the Olmert government should reasonably expect to be confronted with mounting protests. Were it not so confronted, citizens of Israel would have already consented to their own national dismemberment. International law, which is based upon a variety of higher law foundations, including Jewish Law, forms part of the law of all nations. This is the case whether or not the incorporation of international law into national law is codified, explicitly, as it is in the Supremacy Clause (Article VI) of the United States Constitution. The government of Israel is bound by settled norms of international law concerning punishment of terrorist crimes and physical survival of the state. Where this government would fail to abide by these rules, as is very much the case today, civil disobedience is not only permissible – it is required.

Jewish Law rests always upon two fundamental principles: the overriding sovereignty of G-d and the derivative sacredness of the individual person. Both principles, intertwined and interdependent, underlie the reasoned argument for civil disobedience in Israel.4 From the sacredness of the person, which stems from each individual’s resemblance to divinity, flows the freedom to choose. The failure to exercise this freedom, which is evident whenever a response to political authority is merely automatic, represents a betrayal of individual legal responsibility.5

We Jews must be reminded that Jewish law is democratic in the sense that it belongs to all of the people. This is a principle expressed in the Talmudic position that each individual can approach G-d in prayer without priestly intercessions. Hence, a primary goal of law must always be to encourage initiative, to act purposefully on behalf of improving both state and society. When this criterion is applied to impending instances of civil disobedience in Israel, it should be apparent that the protesting opponents of Olmert’s intended Golan surrender, more than any other citizens of Israel, will be acting according to the true interests of law, justice and peace. Let them now stand strong against an Israeli public authority that indefatigably patronizes itself.

Copyright ©, the Jewish Press, October 12, 2007. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with Israel’s security and international law. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

* * * * *

1. Statement (1995) prepared by Major General (res.) Yehoshua Sagui; Admiral (res.) Micha Ram; Brigadier General (res.) David Hagoel; and Brigadier General (res.) Aharon Levran.

2. The Talmud instructs that victimizing people with words is a serious transgression (Talmud, Tractate Bava Metzia 58b).

3. According to Principle I: “Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and is liable to punishment.”

4. On the importance of the dignity of the person to the Talmudic conception of law, see: S. Belkin, In His Image: The Jewish Philosophy Of Man As Expressed In Rabbinic Tradition (New York: 1960).

5. On the human freedom to choose good over evil, see: J.B. Soloveitchik, Thoughts And Visions: The Man Of Law (Hebrew: New York: 1944 – 45), p. 725.

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

Outstanding Community
   Re “Memphis, Tennessee: The Jerusalem of the South” (Contemporary Jewish Kehilla, Jan. 26):
 
   My family and I moved to Memphis after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina. We came with literally two days’ worth of clothing after evacuating New Orleans. The community here welcomed us, fed, and treated us like long-lost family. Our children were taken into the Margolin Hebrew Academy and have adjusted without complaint. Every resource was mobilized to assist us in adjusting. I cannot think of a better place to raise a Jewish family.
 

Norman Itkowitz

Memphis, TN

 

Pressing Israel
   Will they never learn? Some self-styled “pro-Israel” groups are now doing their best to push Israel into a diplomatic corner. Included are some of the usual suspects: Israel Policy Forum, Americans for Peace Now and Brit Tzedek v’Shalom.
 
   More disturbing, a recent news report stated that “a top Reconstructionist rabbi and a top Reform rabbi, joined in a personal capacity by the executive vice president of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, have called on Secretary of State Rice “to press Israel and the Palestinians into making peace.”
 
   Can that really happen? It’s hard to imagine a less propitious time for Israeli Palestinian negotiations. So what, in fact, will these rabbis actually accomplish? Well, they’ll certainly get that press – on Israel, that is, for unwise, possibly calamitous, concessions. Is that really what they want? While undoubtedly wishing Israel well, they do it only ill. Why can’t they get that?
 

Richard D. Wilkins

Syracuse, NY

 

Hard Medicine
   Reader Brooke Rose (Letters, Feb. 2) will forgive my impertinence, but how, pray tell, does one find eyewitnesses to adultery? I read Mr. Farbstein’s letter (Jan. 26) and he certainly was not passing sentence on wayward women. Instead, he was articulating a well warranted concern that instead of following halacha, which mandates divorce in these cases, well-meaning but misguided individuals will simply direct adulterers to seek counseling as a means of resolving their inner conflicts.
 
   While I am not a posek, and neither, I assume, is Mr. Farbstein, we do know enough to aver that the woman in question must consult with competent rebbeim. If in fact they’ve crossed a point of no return, so be it. It’s far better to take one’s medicine in this world than face Divine Wrath when called before the Heavenly Tribunal.
 

Dr. Yaakov Stern

Brooklyn, NY

 

The ‘S’ Word (I)
 
   Yasher koach for publishing “Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s “The ‘S’ Word has No Place In A Religious Jew’s Vocabulary” (op-ed, Feb. 2). I find it a shanda that Jews (religious and non-religious) would use a term like “shvartza” when referring to blacks.
 
   The Torah forbids us from using names that hurt people. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names do hurt, and much worse.
 
   Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Don’t judge the book by the cover – read the contents.
 

David N. Rodgers

Hillcrest, NY

 

The ‘S’ Word (II)
 
   I suggest Rabbi Boteach consult a Yiddish dictionary and look up the term “shvartza,” which is not racist but merely a translation of “black.” Many African-Americans refer to themselves as “black.” AOL even has a “Black Voices” online category, and recently a forum of black leaders, headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, discussed “black issues” and referred to themselves as “black.”
 
   I don’t see how a translation of “black” into Yiddish or any other language can be “racist” or “offensive.” Jews have been among the greatest supporters of civil rights for blacks – in fact, Jewish civil rights activists Goodman and Schwerner gave up their lives for the cause. Why castigate Jews as “racist” simply because they use the word of their mother tongue?
 

Chaya Blitzer

Hamden, CT

 

Carter’s Challenge
   Last week C-Span aired the appearance by Jimmy Carter at Brandeis University. During the course of his presentation, Mr. Carter challenged the student body and faculty to organize a group of ten representatives to visit the West Bank, meet with the people there, and draw their own conclusions. This “commission” would report back their findings, which presumably would support Mr. Carter’s assertions as to the situation between Israelis and Palestinians.
 
   Obviously, his suggestion lacked a fundamental, absolutely necessary component – that of speaking with Israelis as well. Such a mission must also necessarily include visiting the families of terror victims, those still in hospitals and forever maimed and affected by homicide bombers, as well as Israelis on the street. Our own judicial system does not accept the word of one party without the benefit of hearing from the other side. Why would Mr. Carter propose an ill-conceived, one-sided method to evaluate such a critical, challenging situation?
 
   The student body, faculty and alumni of Brandeis should take him up on his challenge, appoint a small commission and conduct a fair assessment of the situation. Brandeis has a unique opportunity to accept this challenge and inject some reality and fair-mindedness into this critical debate.
 

Daniel Kaskel, Esq.

Boca Raton, FL

 


 

 

Listen To Your Teens

 

      Thank you for running the Missing Persons notice last week. Unfortunately, we have learned that the police have posted an update: both girls, r”n, were found dead; the scene suggested suicide. We must not allow these two teens to pass in vain. There is a vital lesson all parents must learn and apply, immediately, before it is too late – again.
 
      We don’t know the worries of these two precious girls, or whether they could be reached. Our hearts go out to their parents, families and friends. But it is evident that Rachel Crites, Rachel Smith, and too many other teens see no hope for happiness.
 
      Teenagers go through the toughest times in life. There is great pressure to conform to peers to gain their respect, and to be part of a group. It is all about self-worth. Parental pressures, in the form of control issues, compound matters, as do parents’ foolish vicarious wishes, teens’ obligations in the home, sibling rivalries, and jealousies. Combine a teen’s need for self-esteem and popularity with parents who don’t offer any and you’ve got a lethal mixture.
 
      Are parents eliciting their children’s deepest concerns? Are they sensitive enough to read their children’s faces, their moods, behaviors, and warning signs? Do they sit their child down – even against their will – swallow their roles as superiors, and play the needed role of helper? Parents must initiate conversations, or find someone with whom their teens will open to, even paying them to take on a support and mentoring role.
 
      Teens don’t have any answers, just questions and deep concerns. We must make ourselves available to them in an easy and a clearly genuine demeanor. They must have someone safe in their daily lives to turn to when life gets rough – and we see how rough it gets. For if they have no one to turn to, they turn on themselves. Many times teens are forced to either give up, or teach those who oppress them a hurtful, terminal “lesson” – the last lesson they teach anyone.
 
      We don’t know what’s best for our children simply because they have our last names. We aren’t fit parents simply because we bore these children. To help prevent similar tragedies, all parents must be educated on basics in child and teen psychology. Shuls, yeshivas, and community leaders must organize mandatory adult sessions where experienced professionals teach rules of engagement, education of teens, etc., citing cases and offering solutions.
 
      And schools must incorporate a mandatory class where students may voice social and familial issues. In such a forum, those teens with problems will feel comfort in the knowledge that others also share similar fears and worries. Feeling less ashamed, they will vocalize issues so that those issues can be learned by adults and addressed – instead of swelling to the point of implosion. And those students who don’t yet have these concerns will be educated on what they are and how to properly handle them, as they inevitably will arise.
 
      Although adults must work tirelessly as the breadwinners, children must take priority over business and social agendas. Money can always be earned, and we can always socialize at the next affair. But we cannot postpone a child’s development.
 
   Our children’s secure and happy development will happen with us. Without us, there may be no development at all.
 

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

Founder, www.Mesora.org


 

 

‘Pie-In-The-Sky Hopes’

 

      Eli Chomsky writes (“For Israeli-Syrian Talks, op-ed, Jan. 26) that with Syria signaling a willingness to negotiate, President Bush should test Bashar Assad’s intentions and commence a peace process between Israel and Syria.
 
      Mr. Chomsky includes several preconditions to negotiations, including Syria’s full withdrawal from Lebanon, the closing of Syria’s border with Iraq, an end to Syria’s manufacture or acquisition of long-range missiles, and the dismantling of terror groups supported by Syria. Mr. Chomsky suggests that pursuant to a peace agreement, Israel would cede sovereignty over the Golan Heights, but that the Golan would immediately be leased back to Israel so that no Israeli withdrawal would be required.
 
      While Mr. Chomsky’s proposals sound fine on a newspaper page, the notion that Israel could retain the Golan as part of a peace agreement – or that even before negotiations commence, Syria would dismantle Hizbullah and stop its own military buildup – has no relation to reality.
 
      It is axiomatic that peace with Syria would require a complete withdrawal from the Golan, with negotiations relating to ancillary issues such as the exact location to which Israel would withdraw (particularly the international border or the less favorable 1967 border) and the timing of withdrawal. To the extent Syrian concessions concerning terror groups, demilitarization zones and Iraq can be gained, those concessions would be implemented – if ever – only upon the completion of an agreement.
 
      There may be a basis for Israeli-Syrian talks, but policies based on pie-in-the-sky hopes are exactly what has gotten Israel into a situation in which Hizbullah and Hamas are ascendant. Israel and the U.S. share a dire need not for myopic proposals but for the kind of sober and rational analysis usually submitted by Mr. Chomsky in his valuable contributions to The Jewish Press.
 

Joseph Schick

Kew Gardens Hills, NY

Quick Takes: News From Israel You May Have Missed

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

Hamas has succeeded in smuggling “hundreds of tons” of weapons from Egypt into the Gaza Strip and is preparing for the possibility of launching a large-scale conflict with Israel, according to a report by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.

The report, drafted by Fatah’s General Security Services and obtained by WorldNetDaily, states that Hamas has smuggled from the Egyptian Sinai desert between several hundred and 1,300 tons of advanced rockets; anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles; rocket propelled grenades; raw explosives; rifles; ammunition; and other heavy weaponry.

Senior terror leaders in Gaza, including militants from Abbas’s Fatah party, said Gaza is preparing for war.

“We are turning Gaza into south Lebanon,” said Abu Ahmed, northern Gaza leader for the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades terror group. “We learned from Hizbullah’s victory that Israel can be defeated if we know how to hit them and if we are well prepared.”

Abu Abdullah, considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas’s Izzedine al-Kassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas’s declared “resistance” department, also said his group is preparing for war against Israel.

“In the last 15 months, even though the fighters of Hamas kept the cease-fire, we did not stop making important advancements and professional training on the military level. In the future, after Hamas is obliged to stop the cease-fire, the world shall see our new military capabilities,” said Abu Abdullah.

Abbas to Request More U.S. Weapons

Following deadly clashes the past few days between his Fatah organization and Hamas members, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is planning to request a large shipment of weapons from the United States, purportedly to arm his group against rival factions, a senior Palestinian official said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Abbas has enlisted senior Egyptian and Jordanian officials to help him petition the U.S. for more weapons to arm his group, particularly Fatah security forces in Gaza, against Hamas.

The U.S. government previously sent weapons to Abbas in late May after the Palestinian leader, along with Israel, Egypt and Jordan, requested the arms to bolster Fatah’s Force 17 security forces against possible clashes with Hamas.

In June, this column broke the story of how assault rifles that were part of a cache of weapons transferred by the U.S. made its way to members of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, some of whom are also officers of Force 17.

Abu Yousuf, a senior Force 17 officer who is also a Brigades leader, told WND that the U.S. and Israel facilitated the May transfer of weapons to his Force 17 unit “for its own political purposes. We are not concerned with the reasons. The weapons will not be used against our brothers, only [against] Israelis.”

Sources close to the Al Aksa Brigades said the American assault rifles were used in three separate anti-Israel shooting attacks in June, including one that targeted Israeli school girls.

Int’l RedCross to Flood Golan With Syrians?

Syrian President Bashar Assad this week issued a decree urging his citizens to move to the Golan Heights, claiming the International Committee of the Red Cross would help flood the Golan with Syrians.

Assad said the Golan Heights would soon be returned to Syria. His signed statement said Syrians who wish to move to the Golan will be granted approval by “all the relevant authorities.”

Israel officially annexed the Golan in 1981 and controls the territory, which borders Syria and Lebanon and looks down on Israeli population centers. The Red Cross has authority to operate in the Heights, purportedly to facilitate civilian crossings into and out of Syria in humanitarian cases. Israel must approve all cases of Syrian residents moving to the Golan.

The Red Cross can petition for entry for Syrian aid workers assisting its programs. The organization reportedly is building a new medical facility in the Golan.

Assad’s decree follows reports recently confirmed by Israeli intelligence that indiacte Syria is seeking to create a Hizbullah-like guerrilla organization to launch attacks against the Jewish state in hopes of prompting an Israeli retreat from the Golan.

Pope in ‘Crusader Conspiracy’ With Bush

Pope Benedict XVI’s meeting this week with a delegation of Muslim leaders and his calls for interfaith dialogue following earlier remarks about Islam are really “Crusader conspiracies” to subjugate the Islamic faith and force “Christian-Zionist” world views upon Muslims, a prominent Gaza Strip preacher told WND in an interview.

Sheik Abu Saqer, leader of Gaza’s Jihadia Salafiya Islamic outreach movement, which seeks to make secular Muslims more religious, called the pope a “puppet” for “that Crusader George Bush.”

The Gaza imam said the only Christian-Muslim dialogue that is acceptable is one in which “all religions agree to convert to Islam.”

“True believers know Islam must rule all relations. The only dialogue we will accept is when all other religions agree to convert to Islam,” said Abu Saqer.

The preacher was reacting to a speech last month in which Benedict quoted a 14th century scholar who lamented Islam’s spreading the faith by sword and bringing only things that are “evil and inhuman” to the world.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for  WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on America’s top radio programs.

Why Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon Is Wrong About Surrendering The Golan

Wednesday, September 15th, 2004

Speaking recently to Yediot Aharonot, an Israeli newspaper, Israel’s Chief of General Staff commented that withdrawal from the Golan Heights would not endanger Israel’s security. According to Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) could defend the country’s borders even if a political decision were taken to leave the 620-square mile strategic plateau. Israel formally annexed the Golan in 1981 after defeating Syrian aggression earlier, in 1967. Long very important in Jewish history, the Golan area’s population of about 35,000 is divided evenly between Israelis and Druse Arabs. Notwithstanding General Yaalon’s assurances, an Israeli Golan withdrawal, from an area less the 1 percent of Syria’s total size, could leave the northern region of Israel open to Syrian or even Iranian invasion through the Jordan Valley. (History records that more than 60 assaults on the Land of Israel west of the Jordan were launched from or through the Golan.) Such a withdrawal could also destroy and uproot 32 Golan Jewish communities and threaten fully a third of Israel’s water supply.

Yaalon’s rationale is almost certainly based on the following presumption: Without an Israel-Syria peace agreement (there is still, at Syria’s sole insistence, an official state of war between the two countries), a major war could result at any time from confrontation with Hizbullah terrorists on Israel’s northern border. And any Israeli plan to prevent such a war with Syria, which backs these terrorists in Lebanon, would require a demilitarized Golan Heights. The problem here, is that Syrian demilitarization of the Golan, which is roughly the size of New York City’s borough of Queens, would never work.

Unlike the concept of Palestinian demilitarization, which is often discussed with reference to creating a “safe” Palestinian state, the key issue here has nothing to do with “legal personality.” Rather, in the matter of Golan demilitarization, the issue concerns more traditional international obligations of “good faith” and various associated difficulties of enforcement. In essence, the problem of Golan demilitarization stems from the undeniable shortcomings of legal guarantees in a world where the very idea of an “international community” has now become self-parody.

A Golan agreement with Syria would surely permit Israel to operate its own early-warning stations, but these facilities could not be an adequate substitute for effective defense. In order to get such permission, Syria might be offered certain reciprocal ground station oppotunities. Indeed, in July 1995 then-Prime Minister Rabin even offered the Syrians stations within pre-1967 Israel as compensation.

For real security, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) must retain its positions on the Golan for constant surveillance of the Syrian army. Pre-1967 warning stations do not have a clear line of sight deep into Syrian territory. Not surprisingly, a large number of former Israeli intelligence officers, regardless of party affiliation, continue to oppose any Israeli dependence upon third parties for information concerned with national survival decisions. Even a demilitarized Golan with early warning based upon an expanded American role and on the most technologically advanced satellite systems would not be enough. In the event of a warning failure, which is always possible (e.g., the case of the Yom Kippur War in 1973), Syrian tanks could conceivably penetrate into Israel.

What can Israel hope to achieve from a so- called peace agreement with Syria? Talks between the two countries have effectively been stalled since 2000 because of Syrian intransigence. As Yaalon himself noted, Syria already has “missiles that put all of Israel in range, and chemical capabilties.” An Israeli departure from the Golan would do nothing to change this primary strategic situation. Nor would it likely reduce the prospect of an escalation to all-out war on the Lebanese front or reduce the influence of certain Palestinian terrorist factions still based securely in Damascus.

What about American troops on a demilitarized Golan, an idea still fashionable in some circles associating an Israeli withdrawal with a Syrian “peace.” Stationed in a very small area, such deployment would surely place these troops in grave danger from well-armed terrorists and from proxies of hostile regimes. More than likely, American forces would be drawn into both inter-Arab and Arab-Israeli disputes.

Further, Israel’s military dependence upon the United States could grow to unmanageable levels; and Syria might even come to see the American presence as an affront to its own sovereignty. In that event, Syria’s President could be expected to push for prompt removal of the U.S. force, a demand similar to Egypt’s 1967 demand for U.N. withdrawal from Sinai. Ironically, that demand led to the Six- Day War, which gave rise to Syria’s Golan loss in the first place.

For all these reasons a demilitarized Golan could not assure Israel’s basic security. According to an informed statement several years back by four Israeli (res.) generals (Y. Sagui; M. Ram; D. Hagoel; and A. Levran): “Israel’s presence on the Golan Heights constitutes the optimal strategic balance with Syria and insurance against a massive Syrian attack. The IDF’s proximity to Damascus is also a guarantee against a Syrian missile launch into Israel’s rear. Any change in this balance would lessen Israel’s deterrent against potential Syrian aggression and jeopardize the quiet and stability that have characterized the Golan since 1974.” As for the use of American troops: “Involving American troops on the Golan Heights, whether as ‘monitors’ or ‘peacekeepers’ or in some other role, would be a blunder.”

The Golan, which ranges up to a height of 2300 feet, dominates the Jordan Valley, the lowest point on Earth. On this strategic plateau, there are only two natural terrain bottlenecks. These choke points are defensible. But with the Golan in Syrian hands, however “demilitarized,” thousands of enemy tanks, backed up by missiles and aircraft, could still penetrate Israel.

Demilitarization of the Golan Heights can never be consistent with Israel’s security. From the standpoint of international law, such proposed Syrian demilitarization would cause great strategic and diplomatic difficulties for Israel. Recognizing this, it is now up to the government of Israel to ensure that the Golan remain firmly in Israeli hands and that Gen. Yaalon’s ill-advised recommendation be rejected.

(c) Copyright The Jewish Press, 2004. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on international law.

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