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January 24, 2017 / 26 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘GREAT’

How John Kerry Will Make American GREAT Again

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Did Secretary John Kerry actually think that his presentation of his vision of the parameters of how to achieve peace between Israel and her neighbors will actually lead to a peace agreement?  Of course not. President elect Trump largely ran a campaign promising to dismantle as much of Obama’s legacy as possible.  Particularly when it comes to actions by the lame-duck administration that are designed to box in the president-elect, you can bet that Trump will be ‘bigly’ focused on countering those moves.   So what could Secretary Kerry conceivably hope to accomplish with his ‘Mideast parameters’ rant?

Is it that this was Kerry’s last time to lash out at his nemesis, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?  He tried to have him defeated in the Israeli elections in 2015 (what?! a Democrat administration interfering with an election in a foreign country?).  Was he just trying to formally blame Netanyahu for being the obstacle that prevented him from winning the Nobel Peace Prize?  Maybe, but that is a bit too simplistic.

Throughout his tenure as Secretary of State, Kerry demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of international diplomacy.  He has managed to convince himself (and his cheerleaders) that every one of his colossal failures was actually a success.  All one has to do is look around at Kerry’s misadventures in the Middle East – from trying to rehabilitate Bashar Assad as an international leader in good standing (while still in the Senate), to the Iran Nuclear Deal, to the $150 Billion in ransom money handed to Iran.  Regarding Israel, his utterly predicted failure in his 2013-14 shuttle diplomacy (which quickly mutated into bullying of Israel and a pretext for the de-legitimization of Israel) was his highest profile of many failures.

Kerry’s hubris merely crystallizes his impotence on foreign policy particularly when it comes to the Middle East. I don’t think he hates Israel or is anti-Semitic. He probably feels that his actions will or would have protected Israel. Yet once again his arrogance and refusal to consider that he could be wrong got the better of him.  In his 70 minute farewell speech – not once did he acknowledge that he may have made some mistakes.  And considering neither of the parties involved (Israelis or Palestinians) have accepted his template to Middle East peace that is a remarkable amount of dissonance.

By giving his lame duck speech today he is literally baiting the new Trump administration to obliterate the Obama-Kerry-Clinton foreign policy legacy – demonstrating that his focus is been less about achieving a peaceful resolution to the conflict and more about creating the posture that he is foreign policy martyr.  There is nothing more gratifying a left=wing politician than to be targeted by Donald Trump.  And you can be sure that Kerry will draw the ire of Trump – a heartwarming development for any left winger.

However, maybe we should give him the benefit of the doubt.  It is possible that deep down Secretary Kerry knows how flawed his approach has been. Maybe he recognized that only Trump has the political chutzpah to uproot all the foreign policies that he had advanced.   And only by completely obliterating Kerry’s foreign policies, will Trump have the roadmap to make America great again.

Elie Pieprz

Minister Regev Presents 67 CE ‘Great Rebellion’ Coin at Cabinet Meeting

Monday, December 12th, 2016

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev on Sunday presented at the start of the cabinet meeting a coin discovered by a team of her office about a month ago, as part of the preparation for the public revelation of the Pilgrims’ Road which was recently unearthed at the City of David. The presentation and the planned public event mark the coming jubilee of the liberation and unification of Jerusalem.

The coin bears on one side a vine leaf and the statement “Freedom of Zion.” On the opposite side it bears a standing cup and the statement “Second year of the great rebellion” – the year 67 CE.

“Precisely 1,900 years later, in 1967, the paratroopers entered the Old City of Jerusalem and renewed her and our freedom, returning Jewish sovereignty to Jerusalem,” Minister Regev said. “We dumped in history’s trash bin the coins minted by [General and later Roman emperor ] Titus following his victory over the rebels [with the statement] ‘Judaea Capta’ (Captive Judea),” she added, “and we returned to liberated Judea, to free and unified Jerusalem, and this is how it will remain for eternity.”

Regev mocked the infamous UNESCO resolution this fall that the Jewish people have no historic connection to the Temple Mount and even the Western Wall, saying Israel’s return to the Biblical sites of Judea and Samaria, which are drenched in Jewish history, repudiate that grotesque resolution.

During Hanukkah, the Ministry of Culture and the Israel Antiquities Authority will hold an event revealing the streets of ancient Jerusalem, where the Maccabees once strolled, and celebrating 50 years since the liberation of the city. The event will open to the public ancient Jerusalem’s main street and its commercial hub, which was used by the pilgrims on the holidays to come up from the Pool of Siloam on the southern slope of the City of David, up to the courtyard of the Temple Mount.


Toynbee’s Anti-Semitism And Herzog’s Great Debate

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Educated at Oxford, Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) served as a professor of Greek language and history at the University of London and as director of studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. His writings and ideas have had great influence on modern attitudes toward not only history but also religion and international relations.

Much of his influence can be traced to his prodigious twelve-volume series A Study of History, a synthesis of world history considered one of the great accomplishments in modern scholarship. After comparing 26 different human civilizations, he concluded that all civilizations followed fixed, cyclic patterns of historical development; that all human histories were destined to tragic ends; and that the end of Western civilization was near.

A fierce opponent of a Jewish state, Toynbee was a spokesman for the Arab cause and often characterized Zionism as “demonic.” He called the “displacement” of the Arabs by Israel “an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis” and, in a Journal of Palestinian Studies interview in 1973, stated that the British had not appreciated the implications of the Balfour Declaration and that Balfour himself was “a wicked man.”

He wrote that “what is peculiar about the Palestine conflict is that the world has listened to the party that has committed the offense and turned a deaf ear to the victims” and that “the tragedy in Palestine is not just a local one; it is a tragedy for the world, because it is an injustice that is a menace to the world’s peace.”

Jacob Baal-Teshuva, a writer and an internationally recognized authority on the artist Marc Chagall, was selected to edit an anthology to mark the “bar mitzvah” of the state of Israel in 1961 and he solicited articles from numerous important personalities, among them Toynbee. Pictured with this column is the fascinating March 24, 1961 response to Baal-Teshuva, Toynbee underscores his passionate anti-Israel views:

Your kind letter, inviting me to contribute to “The Mission of Israel,” has been forwarded to me from London…. My feeling about what has happened in Palestine since the First World War is that it is a tragedy of which we have not yet seen the end…. I hope for an eventual solution of the Palestine problems by agreement, but I fear this is going to be slow and difficult.

As explained above, the central tenet of Toynbee’s historical gestalt was that civilizations, much as human beings, have life cycles that are marked by rises and falls that ultimately lead to the extinction of the civilization and its passing from the world scene. His theory is supported by the fact that through the entire course of world history, through every era and every culture, no conquered and exiled nation or people has ever returned to its land and re-established a national identity. Except one, that is.

Much as the mere continued existence of Judaism stands as a painful theological challenge to both Christianity and Islam, the return of the Jews to Eretz Yisrael after surviving 2,000 years of the bitterest of exiles negates Toynbee’s entire understanding of history.singer-102816-herzog

This may explain the motive, intentional or otherwise, for Toynbee’s antagonism toward the Jewish people, whom he persisted in criticizing as a historical “fossil” and an “extinct society” despite the rebirth of Israel. Indeed, historian Aviad Kleinberg, an expert on the history of Christianity, has characterized Toynbee’s approach as a crude reworking of the Christian theme of the Jewish Diaspora as divine punishment for the Jews’ rejection of Jesus, and he attributes Toynbee’s anger at the Jews and Israel to the fact that their mere existence is wholly inconsistent with his general historical philosophy.

When Toynbee published his accusations against the Jews and Israel at the beginning of the 1960s, he was challenged to a debate by Yaakov Herzog, the son of Israeli Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog and himself a respected religious scholar then serving as Israel’s ambassador to Canada. The debate went forward at the Hillel House of McGill University in Montreal notwithstanding the keen apprehension of many Israeli officials, who saw the debate as evocative of the “disputation dialogues” between Jews and Christians during the Middle Ages.

Exhibited with this column is an original newspaper photograph of Herzog and Toynbee at the January 31, 1961 debate. The caption under the photograph alleges that “Toynbee refused to back down,” but that is a striking falsification; in fact, Toynbee sustained a humiliating loss in what Shimon Peres called “one of the most dramatic debates in the history of our people.”

singer-102816-letterIn brilliant and spectacular fashion, Herzog forced Toynbee to back off his principal allegations against the Jews and Israel. First, Herzog challenged him to explain how defensive actions by the nascent Jewish state against multiple Arab armies determined to inflict another Holocaust on the Jews of Eretz Yisrael could somehow be compared to the Nazis’ systemic genocide.

He went through a list of other nations that, according to Toynbee himself, had committed atrocities, including the British in Ireland and the French in Syria. And, citing a litany of Arab massacres of Jewish civilians, he pointedly questioned how Toynbee somehow never got around to mentioning them and challenged him for singling out Israel and the Jews. He effectively painted Toynbee into a corner, forcing him to admit that, at the very least, Israel was no worse than any other nation.

As for Toynbee’s characterization of the Jewish people as a “fossil,” Herzog pushed the historian to concede that Israel could be “defossilized.” Although Toynbee persisted in arguing that, due to their persecution and isolation, Jews had had no discernable impact on the stage of world history, Herzog, citing fact after fact, forced him to acknowledge that contemporary Jews had not only become part of world history but had also played a meaningful part in it.

Finally, in a brilliant diplomatic move, Herzog closed the debate by issuing a warm invitation to Toynbee to come to Israel, where he could personally witness Israel’s “defossilization.”

It is fascinating to note Herzog’s successful adoption of a conspicuously different approach than the usual hasbarah (public relations information efforts) we often see coming out of Israel today. He pointedly did not present the traditional argument that Israel is “a light unto the nations” and, rather than insisting that Israel is a morally superior state, he argued merely that it is a typical one.

Saul Jay Singer

Earning A Living: The Great Life Test

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

“Who feeds you manna in the wilderness, which your forefathers knew not, in order to afflict you and in order to test you to do good for you in the end?” – Devarim 8:16


For forty years living in the midbar, the Jewish people ate mon. The Torah explains that one of the reasons the mon was given to the Klal Yisrael was in order to test them. The Sforno explains the test: “Will you do His will when He gives you your sustenance easily without pain?”

It seems the Sforno is telling us that the fact that the Jewish nation didn’t have to work was one of the great trials it faced.

This Sforno is very difficult to understand. We know that Hashem metes out many life tests. But where have we seen that not having to struggle is a challenge?

This question can be answered by focusing on why Hashem wants man to work. The ox was created to plow, the donkey to haul loads, the beaver to dam streams. But, man was created for a very different purpose. Man was not created to be a beast of burden. So, why does Hashem want man to work for a living?

One of the reasons can be best understood with a mashol. Imagine that a man recognizes his eight-year-old son has difficulty getting along with his peers. The little boy is constantly getting into fights, and in general seems to miss social cues. The school psychologist tells the father his son has social integration issues. He just doesn’t understand the rules of social conduct.

The father takes it on himself to help his little Moishe become a mensch. As part of the plan, he takes time off from work and invites Moishe and his friends to a play date. They are on the floor playing Monopoly when an ambulance passes outside, siren blasting. As the boys look to the window, the father notices Moishe reach into the “bank” and take out a five-hundred-dollar bill. The father doesn’t say anything. A few moments later, the doorbell rings. Again, all the boys look up, and Moishe reaches into the box and takes out two thousand dollars. When this happens again a few moments later, the father asks Moishe to join him in the kitchen.

“Moishe,” says the father, “I couldn’t help but notice that some of the money that belongs in the bank somehow ended up in your pocket. Can you explain this to me?”

“Sure,” Moishe answers. “Last night I heard you and mommy talking about how you need a lot of money. So here, I took this for you!”

While the sincerity of the little fellow might be touching, he is missing the point. The only reason the father was involved in this activity was to teach him how to be a mensch. The father doesn’t need the money, and certainly isn’t taking time off of his busy day to earn Monopoly money. But Moishe in his naiveté missed the entire point of the exercise.

This is an apt mashol to man working. Hashem doesn’t need man to work to earn a living. Hashem has lots of money. Hashem created the situation that man has to work to earn his daily bread. Now man is dependent. Now man can go through one of the greatest of life’s tests: how will he go about this activity called earning a living? Will he be honest? Will he be ethical? When he has difficulty in earning a living, will he learn to trust in Hashem, or will he make that ultimate mistake – thinking it is the sweat of his brow and the strength of his hand that earns him his bread?

Man Needs Needs

This seems to be the answer to the Sforno. The generation of the midbar was on a lofty level. They had received the Torah from Hashem and were living in a virtual yeshiva. While the mon took care of their daily needs, it was also as a great social experiment: would they attain the same closeness to Hashem without having to earn a living? Would they still reach out to Hashem if they didn’t lack for anything? Would they still come to recognize their dependence on Hashem if they didn’t need to struggle to survive? The mon was a test to see if they could reach greatness without the normal life settings – without needs.

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

A Soldier’s Mother: Time to Admit this Great and Tragic Truth

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Last week, in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, two terrorists walked into a church and murdered an 84 year old Catholic priest. In the early morning hours, as the priest was conducting mass, they entered the church with the specific and clear intention to murder.

They violated the holiness, the sanctity of that holy place because…because…

You know what. Stop there. The because leads you to madness.

This is Jacques Hamel.

Jacques Hamel.

He was 84 when he was murdered by Islamic terrorists in a terror attack in France. He was a priest but more, he was an old man who hurt no one. He was murdered in the name of Allah. He was murdered in the name of intolerance. They entered a church and violated the sanctity of that place. The priest was murdered because he was a Catholic, an infidel. Yes, that’s right. According to Islam, this man of the cloth was an infidel.

This is Hadas Fogel.

Hadas FogelShe was only four months old when she was murdered by Islamic terrorists in a terror attack in Israel. She was a baby, but more, she was the essence of innocence and she too was murdered in the name of hatred and Allah. She was murdered in the name of intolerance. She was murdered because she was a Jew, an infidel. Yes, that’s right. According to Islam, this child, this baby of only four months old was an infidel and a worthy and honorable target.

And this is Hallel Yaffa Ariel.


She was just 13 and a half when she was murdered by an Islamic terrorist in a terror attack in Israel. She was in her bedroom, asleep when he entered her room and began stabbing her. She was a child on the brink of so much more when she was murdered in the name of hate and martyrdom and Allah. She was murdered in the name of intolerance. She was murdered because she was a Jew, an infidel. Yes, that’s right. This sleeping child is, according to Islam, a legitimate and honorable kill.

I keep wondering what level of violence will it take to shock the world into action. They have burned people, hanged them, decapitated them. They have stabbed, stoned, bombed, and shot people. They murdered a baby…baby Hadas, and many other babies across the globe. The murdered Hallel as she slept, and many other young girls and boys. And today, they murdered a priest in cold blood.

What will it take for the world to be able to say – without lowering their voices – this was the work of Islamic extremism? This was Islamic terror? All Muslims…no. No. NO.But today, and yesterday, last week and last month and last year and ten years ago and twenty. In Madrid, New York, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Jerusalem, Brussels, Itamar, Nice, Kiryat Arba, Orlando, Normandy, Afula and on and on and on.

Say it. Islamic terror. Stop it. Stop it. Be shocked. Be angry. Scream out your anger. Stop terrorism.

Stop them now…before they come to your city, as they have come to mine. Stop them because they will not stop. They will come to yours, as they have come for mine.

You and yours…that’s right…YOU are an infidel and they want you dead. They want your way of life crushed. Does that scare you? Does that terrify you to the depths of your soul?



Paula Stern

Elie Wiesel Remembered As ‘One Of The Great Moral Voices Of Our Time’

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Author, human rights activist, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel died on Saturday at the age of 87.

Wiesel, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, is well known for Night, the book that tells the story of his family’s experience during the Holocaust. The book became the first work in a trilogy along with Dawn and Day. Wiesel wrote more than 40 other works of nonfiction and fiction.

Wiesel, who was 15 when he was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944, was also known for working to help find Nazi war criminals in the years following World War II.

A journalist for various publications, he campaigned for the immigration of Soviet and Ethiopian Jewry to Israel and didn’t hesitate to criticize American presidents – Reagan in 1985 for his insistence on visiting a German cemetery that contained the graves of Nazi soldiers and Obama in 2015 for the nuclear agreement with Iran.

In addition to his seminal role in Holocaust remembrance, Wiesel served on the International Council of the Human Rights Foundation, campaigning against apartheid in South Africa, the 1990s genocide in Yugoslavia, and other human rights violations around the world.

Wiesel, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “gave expression through his exceptional personality, and fascinating books about the victory of the human spirit over cruelty and evil. In the darkness of the Holocaust in which our brothers and sisters – six million – were murdered, Elie Wiesel was a ray of light and greatness of humanity who believed in the good in man.”

“I was privileged to know Elie and to learn so much from him,” Netanyahu said.

President Obama called Wiesel “one of the great moral voices of our time, and in many ways, the conscience of the world.” The president noted that “Like millions of admirers, I first came to know Elie through his account of the horror he endured during the Holocaust simply because he was Jewish. But I was also honored and deeply humbled to call him a dear friend. I’m especially grateful for all the moments we shared and our talks together, which ranged from the meaning of friendship to our shared commitment to the state of Israel.”

Obama recalled a visit he and Wiesel made to the site of the Buchenwald concentration camp: “After we walked together among the barbed wire and guard towers of Buchenwald, where he was held as a teenager and where his father perished, Elie spoke words I’ve never forgotten – ‘Memory has become a sacred duty of all people of goodwill.’ Upholding that sacred duty was the purpose of Elie’s life. Along with his beloved wife Marion and the foundation that bears his name, he raised his voice, not just against anti-Semitism, but against hatred, bigotry, and intolerance in all its forms. He implored each of us, as nations and as human beings, to do the same, to see ourselves in each other and to make real that pledge of ‘never again.’ ”

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, who gave Wiesel the medal of Honorary Citizen of Jerusalem earlier this year, said: “Instead of giving in to despair, to the face of evil and cruelty that at the time was the darkest of humanity, he carried all the way through the message of tolerance and peace for all peoples of the world.”

Wiesel was born in in Sighet, Transylvania (Romania), in the Carpathian Mountains, on September 30, 1928. Wiesel’s mother, Sarah, was the daughter of a Vizhnitz chassid. His father, Shlomo, encouraged him to learn Hebrew and to read literature, while his mother encouraged him to study Torah. Wiesel had three siblings – older sisters Beatrice and Hilda, and younger sister Tzipora. Beatrice and Hilda survived the war and were reunited with Wiesel at a French orphanage. They eventually emigrated to North America, with Beatrice moving to Canada. Tzipora, Shlomo, and Sarah did not survive the Holocaust.

Combined News Services

Shiloh Musings: Great Britain Reverts to its Island Isolation

Friday, June 24th, 2016

‘Leave’ scents victory as EU vote divides Britain

With results declared from 206 of 382 voting districts plus parts of Northern Ireland, Leave was ahead by 51.3 percent to 48.7 in the referendum, in which a vote to break with Europe could usher in deep uncertainty over trade and investment and fuel the rise of anti-EU movements across the continent. Initial results suggested those in favor of quitting the EU were outperforming pollsters’ expectations. They scored close to 70 percent of the vote in Hartlepool in northeast England and in Basildon, near London. It was not clear whether an expected pro-EU vote in the capital and across Scotland would be sufficient to redress the balance. In the London district of Haringey, 76 percent voted to remain. (Reuters)

I’m not really surprised. Great Britain is an island off of Europe and always treasured its independence. That is what saved it from invasions, such as the Nazis less than a century ago. Also, in terms of the demography, cultural/ethnic politics in Britain, this is probably the last chance to get a majority to leave. As in Europe, the open borders have enabled a cultural diversity unprecedented in most of Europe and Great Britain for sure.

Don’t forget that the European Union is much larger and more diversified than most people had ever expected it to be. For those who mourn the relatively monochromatic Christian Britain and Europe, they find themselves living in a nightmare, like a Twilight Zone episode.

The vote seems pretty close, so it could change directions, and then Great Britain will remain in the EU, and it will then find itself a totally different country in another couple of decades. And if it leaves, the transformation will just take a bit longer…

Batya Medad

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/shiloh-musings/shiloh-musings-great-britain-reverts-to-its-island-isolation/2016/06/24/

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