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January 18, 2017 / 20 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘History’

Police Sappers Called to Haganah Museum in Tel Aviv

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Tourists were surprised to learn that a live spray grenade was found Thursday morning in a museum in Tel Aviv. The grenade was discovered in a closet at the Haganah Museum on Rothschild Street.

The museum itself is located in the house of Eliyahu Golomb, founder of the Haganah and its uncrowned military commander, according to its website. The house, built in 1923, was the secret headquarters of the Haganah, which eventually became the Israel Defense Forces of the modern-day State of Israel.

It was an grenade from the British Mandate period, apparently produced by fighters in an underground lab in the pre-state years.

The museum called the police bomb squad, and sappers came to take the grenade to another location where they could defuse it safely.

Hana Levi Julian

Obama’s UN Legacy: Whitewashing Iran’s Nuclear Cheating; Outlawing Jewish History

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Legal Insurrection website}

The year was bookmarked by the passage of UN Security Council resolution 2231 in January, giving U.N. authority to the Iran Nuclear Deal, and resolution 2334 last week, purporting to declare illegal the presence of Jews in areas in which form a key part of Jewish history.

In the case of the Iran deal, the United States led the Security Council and voted for the resolution enshrining the nuclear deal into what passes for international law. In the case of the more recent resolution, the United States abstained, according to some incoherent reasons spouted by US Ambassador Samantha Power, but it looks like, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charges, that Obama orchestrated it. (Yesterday, Netanyahu spokesman David Keyes charged that Israel had “ironclad information” that Obama was indeed behind the maneuver}.

In the case of 2231, the Security Council reversed a decade of policy and undermined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by removing nuclear-related sanctions from Iran without insisting that Iran stop enriching uranium first. Obama, of course, obfuscated this by saying that sanctions brought Iran to the table. That’s incredibly misleading. Iran was sanctioned because it was a nuclear outlaw. Not only a nuclear outlaw, but a nuclear outlaw that had threatened and continues the destruction of another member state.

But administration officials insisted that Iran had, during sanctions, neglected too many civilian needs, so it would use the billions to shore up its crumbling infrastructure. Iran said it would use the billions to further its destabilizing activities and has done so. The destruction of eastern Aleppo, is the latest sign that Iran was emboldened by the deal that whitewashed its crimes and convinced its leaders that they could get away with mass murder. (Amb. Power telling Iran, Russia and Syria that they should be ashamed of themselves is not any sort of punishment.)

Eleven months after exonerating Iran, Obama put Israel in the penalty box by allowing a resolution that stated, “that Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law,” meaning of course that the Jewish presence in the Old City of Jerusalem, (which Jews were illegally ethnically cleansed from by Jordan in 1948) is against international law.

This is just a secularized version of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s September 2015 declaration that the PA “won’t allow Jew’s filthy feet” to defile the holy places in Jerusalem. Just as Abbas statement served as a call to arms beginning last year’s “knife intifada,” resolution 2334 has become a call for more terror. That call hasn’t just been made by Hamas, but also by Abbas’s “moderate” Fatah movement.

In other words with its support of these two resolutions it has given Israel’s enemies a license to kill, while limiting what Israel can do to defend itself.

There are other aspects to these twin betrayals that are worth mentioning.

Both show that international outlaws can get what they want by simply waiting. As noted above, Iran hated sanctions and hated being branded an outlaw. With Obama eager to make a deal they saw an opportunity to get their crimes expunged AND keep their illicit uranium enrichment program. Obama said simply that Iran would never agree to scrap its enrichment program if there was to be a deal. (This of course contradicted the common administration refrain that no deal was better than a bad deal.)

But Abbas, too, has benefited from changing circumstances. The Washington Post, which has spent most of the past two months warning that Donald Trump would break with traditional foreign policy, woke up to the fact that Obama has already done that regarding Israel. An editorial Friday observed that Obama had “[reversed] decades of practice by both Democratic and Republican presidents,” of “[vetoing] past resolutions on the grounds that they unreasonably singled out Jewish communities in occupied territories as an obstacle to Middle East peace.”

The editorial also correctly noted, “The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas proved unwilling to negotiate seriously even during the [2010] settlement freeze, and it refused to accept a framework for negotiations painstakingly drawn up by Secretary of State John F. Kerry in 2014.” In other words the failure of the Obama administration to make peace can be traced to Palestinian intransigence.

But as Post editor Jackson Diehl noted back in 2009, Abbas had been reassured by his early meeting with Obama that “the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud.” And as Prof. Jacobson noted back in 2011, that Obama sought to make peace based on the so-called 1967 borders.

This was a change in U.S. policy. First of all, the 1967 borders, prior to the Six-Day-War were the never-meant-to-be-permanent 1949 armistice lines. In fact President Lyndon Johnson, during whose administration the war occurred, believed the armistice lines to be a prescription for renewed war.

Second of all, the basis for calling the territory won by Israel in 1967 “occupied” requires a fraudulent reading of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Fourth Geneva Convention is a point of convergence for both shameful UNSC resolutions as Dore Gold, former Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a conference call last week, “And we are seeing the Iranians using the Shi’ite population from Iraq and as far away as Afghanistan and Pakistan and moving them into these areas to alter the demographic balance of the Levant. That is exactly what the Fourth Geneva Convention wanted to address, and that is exactly what is being ignored today by the UN.”

Hypocritically, the Obama administration is refusing to apply the Fourth Geneva Convention to rein in Iranian aggression resulting from the nuclear deal, but using it to vilify Israel.

In short, what Obama has done is used the U.N. to give every benefit of the doubt to Israel’s enemies and to criminalize Israel for existing. This is Obama’s shameful Middle East legacy done with the connivance of the United Nations.


David Gerstman

The History Of Chanukah (continued from last week)

Monday, December 26th, 2016

Under A Syrian Rule

More than 2,000 years ago, the land of Israel was part of the Syrian Empire. At first, Antiochus III was favorably disposed towards the Israelites and accorded them some privileges. Later on, however, when he was beaten by the Romans and compelled to pay heavy taxes, he began to tax many of the nations under his rule. When Antiochus died, his son, Seleucus IV, took over, and further oppressed the Children of Israel.


The “Madman”

A short time later, Seleucus was killed and his brother Antiochus 1V began his reign. He was a tyrant of a rash and impetuous nature, contemptuous of religion and of the feelings of others. He was called “Epiphanes,” meaning “the gods’ beloved.” Several of the Syrian rulers received similar titles. But a historian of his time, Polebius, gave him the epithet Epimanes (“madman”), as more suitable to the character of the harsh and cruel king.

Desiring to unify his kingdom through the medium of common religion and culture, Antiochus tried to root out the individualism of the Jews by suppressing all the Jewish customs. He removed Yochanan from his position as Kohen Gadol and replaced him with his brother, Yehoshua, who preferred his Greek name, Jason. He used his high office to spread more and more of the Greek customs among the priests.

Yehoshua was later replaced by another man, Menelaos, who promised the king more money. When Yochanan protested the spread of the Hellenists’ influence, he was murdered.

Antiochus was at that time engaged in a successful war against Egypt. But messengers from Rome arrived and commanded him to stop the war. He had to yield and call it off. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem a rumor spread that a serious accident befell Antiochus. Thinking that he was dead, the people rebelled against Menelaos. The treacherous High Priest fled together with his friends.


The Martyrs

Antiochus returned from Egypt enraged by Roman interference with his ambitions. When he heard what had taken place in Jerusalem, he sent his army in and thousands of Jews were killed. After that he enacted a series of harsh decrees: Jewish worship was forbidden, Torah scrolls were confiscated and burned, and Shabbat observance, brit milah and observing kashrut were prohibited under penalty of death.

Rabi Eliezer, a chacham of 90, was ordered by the king’s men to eat pork so that others would do the same. When he refused, they suggested to him that he pick up the meat to his lips to appear to be eating. When he said no to even that, he was put to death. There were thousands of others who likewise sacrificed their lives.

Antiochus’ men went from town to town and from village to village to force the inhabitants to worship pagan gods. One day they arrived in the village of Modiin where Mattisyahu, an older Kohen, lived. When the Syrian officer built an alter in the market place of the village and demanded that Mattisyahu offer sacrifices to the Greek gods, he replied, “I, my sons and my brothers are determined to remain loyal to the covenant which our G-d made with our ancestors!”

When a Hellenistic Jew approached the altar to offer a sacrifice, Mattisyahu grabbed his sword and killed him. His sons and friends fell upon the Syrian officers and killed many of them. Having chased the rest away, they destroyed the altar.

Mattisyahu knew that Antiochus would be enraged when he heard what had happened, so he and his sons fled to the Judean Hills. All loyal and courageous Jews joined them. They formed legions and from time to time left their hiding places to fell upon the enemy detachments and outposts, and to destroy the pagan altars that were built by order of Antiochus.

Before his death, Mattisyahu called his sons together and urged them to continue the fight in the defense of G-d’s Torah. He asked them to follow the counsel of their brother Shimon and the actions of their brother Yehudah who was called Macaabee, a word composed of the initial letters of four Hebrew words “Mi Kamocha Be’eilim Hashem, Who is like You, Hashem.”

Antiochus sent General Apelonius to wipe out Yehuda and his followers. Though greater in number and in equipment, the Syrians were defeated by the Maccbees. Antiochus sent out another expedition which also was defeated. He then sent an army consisting of more than 40,000 men swept the land under the leadership of two commanders, Nicanor and Gorgiash. The people assembled in Mizpeh, where Shmuel HaNavi had once davend to Hashem, and they were successful.


The Dedication

Now the Maccabees returned to Jerusalem and liberated it. Entering the Bais HaMikdash, they cleared it of the idols placed there by the Syrian vandals and dedicated a new one on the 25th of the month of Kislev, in the year 3622.

When they looked for oil to light the Menorah, they found only a small cruet of pure olive oil with the seal of the Yochanan Kohen Gadol. It was sufficient to light only for one day. By a miracle of G-d, it continued to burn for eight days, till new oil was made available. That miracle proved that G-d had again taken His people under His protection. In memory of this, our sages appointed these eight days for annual thanksgiving and for lighting candles.

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Chanukah Cards And Jewish History

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

The practice of sending of Rosh Hashanah greeting cards remains popular, and as I discussed in “Shanah Tovah Cards and the First Zionist Congress” (front page essay, Sept. 4, 2015), accumulating such cards is one of the most popular areas of Jewish document collecting.

And while the practice has waned and few Jews send Chanukah cards anymore, the exchange of such cards was a very popular custom through the first half of the twentieth century. The cards all have voices yearning to be heard. Behind each is a tale of time and place that, framed against various religious, political, social, cultural, and artistic milieus, can provide deep insight into Jewish historical leitmotifs.



WWII Chanukah Greetings From Shanghai (1945)

front-page-122316-chinaExhibited here is an exceedingly rare card issued by the Jewish Welfare Board depicting a Chinese figure with chanukiah and the Hebrew word “Maccabee.” Not shown is the inside of this two-ply card, which contains “Chanukah gelt” in the form of a banknote issued by The Central Bank of China.

Shanghai was an important safe-haven for Jewish refugees during the Holocaust because it was one of the few places in the world where a visa was not required. Some 23,000 European Jews found shelter there.

Shanghai was then an open city with no immigration restrictions, and several Chinese diplomats issued protective passports and transit visas to Jews and others fleeing the Holocaust. Later during the war, occupying Japanese forces relocated the Jewish “stateless refugees” to a small area (less than a square mile) in Shanghai’s Hongkew district, which included the community around the Ohel Moshe Synagogue.

Japanese authorities progressively adopted additional restrictions, but the ghetto was not walled, the local Chinese residents did not leave, and American Jewish charities – including the Jewish Welfare Board, which established a Shanghai office and issued this Chanukah card – were able to provide basic necessities to the Jews of the Shanghai Ghetto.

The Nazis pressured the Japanese army to develop a plan to exterminate Shanghai’s Jewish population but this attempt to bring the Holocaust to China became known to Jewish communal leaders and, with the intercession of the Amshenower Rebbe, the Japanese – who, in any case, had little motive to further antagonize America and the Allies after they had already invaded China – kept putting off the German request until the war ended, thereby keeping the Jews of Shanghai safe.

After the war, many of the Jews of Shanghai emigrated to Eretz Yisrael, but this Chanukah card, mailed shortly after the formal end of hostilities, stands as a historical testament to the important and generally unrecognized role that China played in saving Jews during the Shoah.



Al Hanisim (circa 1910s)

Shown here is an undated (but very early 20th century) card, Al Hanisim, which beautifully and graphically celebrates Jewish victories over great enemies throughout history. The unstated yet clear theme is the true story of Chanukah: that the Jewish people have survived all their mighty foes and will always do so.front-page-122316-man

The card, which shows an old Jew wearing a nes (miracle) robe, depicts various historical enemies of the Jews who have failed to destroy them, including Haman (shown at the lower right as a hungry alligator), Antiochus (shown under the menorah as a preying lion), and “romaiim” (Romans, rendered as a bird of prey at the lower left).

Though many Jews (and most of the secular world) understand Chanukah through the lens of the miracle of the oil, this card underscores that the religious and historical essence of the holiday is, as we recite in the Al Hanissim prayer, “the delivery of the many into the hands of the few” – the wholly improbable miracle of the victory of a handful of Chashmonaim prevailing against the Greek army, then the most powerful military force in the world.



Jewish Brigade Fighter (1942)

front-page-122316-man-daughterDisplayed here is one of the most heart-tugging and beautiful Chanukah images I have ever seen. A young girl hugs her father, a soldier in the Jewish Brigade, a military formation of the British Army composed of Jews from the Yishuv commanded by British-Jewish officers serving in Europe during World War II.

Dressed in his smart military uniform with cap perfectly perched atop his head, he lights the candles on the eighth and final night of Chanukah during what is most likely a grant of temporary leave from the battlefield. He appears to be concentrating on accomplishing the lighting, but his daughter seems to be holding on to him for dear life; her eyes seem unfocused and dreamy and, whatever her limited degree of sophistication in the ways of the world, her face tells us she understands he may not return to her.

Echoing the theme of Jewish survival against a hated enemy, the Hebrew caption at the bottom is a verse from the Maoz Tzur (“Rock of Ages”) prayer describing the Jewish victory over Haman: Rosh Yemini nesaisah, v’oyev shmo machita – “you, God, raised up the head of the Yemini [Mordechai] and erased the name of the hated foe [Haman].” In context, “Yemini” can also refer to the Jewish people, and the “hated foe” to Hitler.



Jerusalem Liberated! (1918)

British field marshal Edmund Allenby (1861-1936) commanded the Egyptian Expeditionary Forces that decisively defeated the Turks and liberated Eretz Yisrael for the first time in four hundred years. The Jews of Eretz Yisrael had suffered horribly under the despotic rule of Kemal Pasha and under these circumstances it is not difficult to understand why Allenby was viewed by Jews as a liberator and hero when, on December 9, 1917, he victoriously entered Jerusalem not as a mighty conqueror astride a steed but rather, in a sign of great respect, as a humble man entering the Holy City on foot.front-page-122316-sign

Exhibited here is a card issued on the first Chanukah after the liberation of Jerusalem which, under a photograph of Allenby and his troops in the city, is titled “In Commemoration of the Liberation of Jerusalem.” To the left is a depiction of Mattityahu, the kohen gadol (high priest), who led the Maccabean rebellion against the pagan Greek Seleucid Empire; at the top of the card, Hebrew letters on a banner spell out “Chanukah” around a Magen David.

This is one of the few Chanukah cards extant that contemporarily commemorate the Allenby liberation, a truly seminal event in Jewish history and, specifically, the history of Eretz Yisrael.



Betar Chanukah Celebration (1945)

front-page-122316-gatheringThe Betar movement, the name of which refers to both the last Jewish fort to fall in the Bar Kochba revolt (136 AD) and to the Hebrew acronym of “Brit Yosef Trumpeldor,” is a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923. A major source of recruits during World War II for Jewish regiments that fought the Nazis alongside the British and for the Jewish forces that waged war against the British Mandate, its philosophy reflected the Revisionist Zionist doctrine of its founder, Zev Jabotinsky, which included restoring the ancient Jewish nation of Israel across the entirety of Eretz Yisrael and Jordan, and training a new generation of Jews to embrace these nationalist ideals by taking up arms in support of all enemies of Judaism.

Saul Jay Singer

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Vayeshev: The Rhymes and Rhythms of Biblical History

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Contrary to popular belief, Mark Twain never actually said that history rhymes. He did however write that “History never repeats itself, but the Kaleidoscopic combinations of the pictured present often seem to be constructed out of the broken fragments of antique legends.” Whatever he said, though, history has a way of working in parallel paths. Not to notice the similarities of those paths is to miss history’s lessons. Not to see their differences is to misunderstand its lessons.

In this light, many wonder how Ya’akov could make the same ‘mistake’ as his father, to favor one child over another. After all, many of the troubles that plagued him were the result of his own father, Yitzchak, favoring Esav and wanting to give him an edge that both Ya’akov and Rivkah felt undeserved.

Let us first admit that it is humanly impossible to have exactly the same feelings towards two individuals. But as children mature, they realize that this is simply the way the world is set up. And so as they grow older, they come to terms with parental favoritism towards one of their siblings. There is one notable exception to this – sibling rivalry rarely abates when it is based on injustice or deception. Hence, to the extent that there was an appearance of Esav fooling his father, it was inevitable that it would create discord.

The theme of the havoc created by a sibling who manipulates a parent into giving them more than they deserve is not limited to the Bible. It is a literary theme which some of us may remember from Shakespeare’s King Lear. It is true that whereas Lear was clearly deceived by his two oldest daughters, it is much less obvious whether Yitzchak ‘s affection for Esav was based on anything beyond his own well-grounded calculations. The Torah keeps it purposefully unclear by telling us that it was coming from Esav’s venison in Yitzchak’s mouth. While this could be understood as a type of bribe, it could just as easily be understood as an appreciation that Yitzchak had for his son’s devotion to family and his practical ability to get things done. These were qualities that could certainly be put to good use. Even so, Esav was trying to impress his father, who had, in turn, never clarified what his motivations were in wanting to advantage his oldest son. Hence, Ya’akov and Rivkah had good reasons to assume the worst.

When it came time for Ya’akov to determine how to treat his own children, he would certainly not repeat this pattern. If there was a son of inferior character he would pick up on it and certainly not respond with favoritism. But since Yosef did not show Esav’s bad characteristics, Ya’akov believed that there was no way his other sons would attribute his special treatment of Yosef to the latter deceiving his father. Hence, there was no problem in giving Yosef the treatment that naturally emanated from their relationship.

In spite of Ya’akov sense of clarity, however, things were actually more complex. Whereas Yaakov saw all of the differences between his brother and his favored son, his other sons may have seen something else. And they saw something true. Like Esav, Yosef would also help his father and he would also soon show how capable he was. Yet also like Esav, he had a dangerous drive to push his competitors aside. Since they were the ones being pushed aside, the brothers could not miss this. In fact, the extent to which they didn’t miss it is shown by the fact that they even contemplated Yosef’s execution. As I have elaborated upon elsewhere, this is why the rabbis saw Yosef as Esav’s nemesis – Yosef could defeat Esav precisely because he understood him.

As mentioned, the problem comes when we see the similarities of situations without noting their differences, or – conversely – when we see the differences but miss the similarities. Yet there is an even greater wisdom than picking up on all of the similarities and differences of different situations.

That wisdom is learning to compensate for how others may interpret the data at hand. Had Ya’akov been more reflective, he would have more carefully evaluated the obvious ambivalence the brothers showed towards Yosef. Had the brothers been more open-minded, they would have tried to imagine how Ya’akov might have seen things. That such giants failed in this regard show how difficult it is to acquire and apply this wisdom. Difficult though it may be, the upshot is really clear. Making sacred space for the perceptions – and even misperceptions – of others is the only way to true peace.

Rabbi Francis Nataf

UN Ambassador Danny Danon Welcomes Colleagues to Israel, Ancient and New

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon welcomed a delegation of 14 of his ambassadorial colleagues from the UN to Israel this week.

The UN ambassadors arrived for a tour organized by Project Interchange, of the American Jewish Committee and led by AJC Director of Diplomatic Affairs Ambassador Aaron Jacob.

The ambassadors, from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America toured the Jerusalem suburb of Ma’ale Adumim, and spent considerable time in the Western Wall tunnels. They also were taken on a detailed tour of the Old City of Jerusalem, during which time Danon seized the opportunity to talk about the UN Human Rights Council and its bias against Israel.

He spoke about the resolutions erasing the ancient historic Jewish ties to Jerusalem, and he spoke about the UNHRC’s efforts to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Movement, as well as the UN’s blacklist against businesses linked to Israel.

“Ambassadors to the UN represent their countries in the world’s most important international forum,” said Ambassador Danon. “Their visit to Israel provides them the opportunity to view up close the challenges, and opportunities, facing the Jewish state during a tumultuous time in our region. Additionally, this delegation is sure to strengthen our ties with these important countries.”

“We appreciate and thank each ambassador for taking the time to experience first-hand Israel’s dynamism and start-up economy, as well as the serious security challenges this small UN member state continues to confront in the tumultuous Middle East,” said Jacob. “The more one knows about Israel, the more one understands, and that is why this five-day visit is so important.”

To provide a deeper understanding of the geopolitical and security challenges Israel faces, the ambassadors traveled throughout Israel, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the northern border and southern region. Visits to hi-tech and agricultural research facilities were expected to demonstrate Israel’s role as a world leader in innovations with global impact.

They met with Israeli officials and academic experts, as well as with Israelis from the general population. Meetings took place on topics specific to the United Nations 2030 Global Agenda, including special needs, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and food security.

The delegation also traveled to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority government officials and with Arab entrepreneurs, to discuss co-existence opportunities, including the new joint Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian Authority Industrial Zone.

Hana Levi Julian

The Biggest White Elephant In History

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

If Israel didn’t receive American aid, would it buy U.S. F-35 jets?

Development on the F-35 has not yet been completed, and it is doubtful if it ever really will be. It is a plane that no Israeli pilot has ever flown or will ever fly before it lands in Israel. Israel is not allowed to attach its own missiles to the jet. Israel is not even allowed to provide its own maintenance for the jets without U.S. authorization. In other words, at any given time, the U.S. can neutralize Israel’s ability to use the jets. This deal has given us an air force on a leash.

F-35 Lightning II fighter jet

F-35 Lightning II fighter jet

Furthermore, the F-35 cannot reach the nuclear targets in Iran and its stealth version cannot even carry ammunition necessary for those targets. (The F-15I can with no trouble.) A superficial overview of professional aviation websites reveals that nobody disputes that the F-35 is one of the biggest white elephants in history.

So why is Israel purchasing this super-sophisticated piece of junk? For the same reason we bought the U.S. firefighting planes – the planes that at the moment of truth last week could not take off because it was too windy.

Have you ever asked yourself why an insolvent country like Greece has the most efficient firefighting plane in the world – the Bombardia 415 (which is much more efficient than the U.S. Supertanker) – while Israel, with one of the best air forces in the world, does not have a similar plane and must wait for the Greek one to arrive?

The answer is simple: American “aid.”

Israel preferred to buy U.S. planes, purchased with U.S. aid money. Who knows how many houses burned in Haifa while we waited for the Greek planes to arrive?

If U.S. “aid” has harmed Israel’s firefighting capabilities, we can just imagine how much it has harmed Israel’s security capabilities – not to mention its economy.

Moshe Feiglin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/moshe-feiglin/the-biggest-white-elephant-in-history/2016/12/08/

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