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

Posts Tagged ‘Holy Land’

Vatican: Papal Visit to Show IDF ‘Imprisoning’ Christian Population

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Fr. Peter Vasko, President of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL), heralded Pope Francis’ announcement that he may visit the Holy Land next year as an opportunity for the “whole world to see the plight of Christians in the area.

Vasko said the pontiff’s presence would also “shine a light on the dwindling Christian population in the Holy Land, and hopefully help ease living conditions in the area.” Christians, once a majority in the area, have diminished to less than two percent of the population as restrictions on travel, education and work have increased.

In Palestinian controlled areas, including Bethlehem, what remains of the Arab Christians population are virtual prisoners in their own homes. At the same time, Israeli controlled areas are the only places in the entire Middle East where the Christian population has been rising.

Pope Francis said the visit – his first as head of the Church – would mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s trip to Jerusalem in 1964. The announcement came on the heels of Israeli President Shimon Peres’ recent visit to the Vatican. During that visit, Peres urged the pope to come to Israel, adding, “The sooner you visit the better, as a new opportunity is being created for peace, and your arrival could contribute significantly to increasing the trust and belief in peace.”

Peres added, “I turn to you and ask that within your sermons in front of millions of believers in the world you include the hope for peace in the Middle East and the whole world.”

Vasko said the Vatican has long supported FFHL programs, which provide education, housing and work opportunities for thousands of Palestinian Christians. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI visited Israel during their tenures.

Pope Francis accepted Peres’ invitation, but no date has been set for the trip.

Train Posters Citing Tutu, Urging End to US Aid to Israel

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

A display of fairly insulting posters along the platforms at 25 Metro-North train stations went up this week, calling for an end to “apartheid” by stopping U.S. aid to Israel, WABC News reported.

If you stayed home for Passover, you were spared these unsightly messages – but they’ll be there tomorrow morning, on your way to work, if you travel from suburban New York and Connecticut,.

A group called American Muslims for Palestine paid for the billboards, which are displayed at 25 Metro-North stations. But the true force behind the latest effort to soil Israel’s name is—you guessed it—all Jewish.

“The campaign against U.S. aid for Israel targets neither Jews nor Passover, but rather Israeli apartheid and injustice. And the best way to honor Passover, which celebrates Jewish liberation from ancient oppression, is to champion Palestinian human rights today,” said Michael Letwin of Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, who spoke at Tuesday’s launch of the billboards at the Metro North Harlem station.

Naturally, they posted them in Harlem, where the big decisions about U.S. aid are made.

The ads call for the end of U.S. aid to Israel and call the treatment of Palestinians in the disputed territories “apartheid.”

A quote from Bishop Desmond Tutu is featured at the top of the billboard, where he says how distressed he has been since his visit to the Holy Land.

You can read the full article (Apartheid in the Holy Land), it truly comes across as the ramblings of a tired old man, regurgitating the cliches he has been fed, combining them with familiar resentments: “And how did it come about that Israel was collaborating with the apartheid government on security measures?” he wonders, betraying the sad fact that the realities of an embattled Israel in the early 1970s are still his measure of today’s realities.

There are no suicide bombers in Tutu’s view of history, no Jewish graves, no massacred families, only suffering Palestinians. He condemns Israel’s action in Judea and Samaria, following the massacre of the Park Hotel in Netanya on the seder night, April, 2002. Tutu writes: “The military action of recent days, I predict with certainty, will not provide the security and peace Israelis want; it will only intensify the hatred.”

Wrong. In 2002 the IDF, once and for all, broke down the terrorist infrastructure and either killed or threw most of the thugs in jail. What followed was a period of growing prosperity for Judea and Samaria Arabs, and a tight hold of the IDF on Arab terrorism.

The good bishop would have had Israel just lie there and turn the other cheek. In that he follows a long tradition of church leaders.

Antisemitism is such an ever shifting thing. They used to call for our heads because we were racially impure, now it turns out we’re the new racists.

The ads feature a disclaimer by the MTA stating the agency does not endorse the views expressed. That’s when the ads are in favor of killing Jews (or leaving them defenseless so someone else would do the killing). In cases when Jews try to fight back with their own, anti-Jihadist ads, as in the case of Pamela Geller, the same MTA fights them tooth and nail.

Turks Praise Israel’s Apology

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

It is unpleasant when two long-friendly countries behave like enemies. Many have been uneasy seeing Israel and Turkey growing distant, even if only in the political arena. Friendship, love, trust and affinity are most valued universally, so I would like my Israeli friends to know that we, the Turkish nation, cherish our friendship with the Israelis and thus appreciate the prime minister’s apology as a virtuous act, and we are excited to leave this regrettable incident behind and to be able to move forward.

Although as a general principle I am against any preconditions for peace and friendship—since true friendship is unconditional—this apology was still important for the Turkish people, we heard an affirmation that Israel cares about Turkey. And we see this move as a dignifying act, a gesture that will glorify Israel in the eyes of many.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did the right thing in the right manner and with the right words. We take this as a direct message to the Turkish nation rather than to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan alone.

However, there will be people who would take this as an opportunity to create ugly propaganda against Israel. I condemn the comments and news trying to devalue this virtuous act by Israel. Loveless people are free to issue their comments, however they only reflect their inner world by expressing their hostility and by looking at everything in a negative manner rather than thinking with wisdom and compassion. If we look at things through the prism of rage and allow ourselves to hold on to grudges, no one could ever be friendly with anyone else. What happened in the past stays in the past; if one does not evaluate things with this mentality, no country could ever be friends with any other.

So let us look at the future rather than getting hung up on the past, because we are both living in an unstable region and we need unity now more than ever. I believe Israel and Turkey’s alliance will definitely help to bring stability to the region because unity and unconditional friendship are a strong deterrent against terrorism and radicalism, and against all those who promote violence and hatred. Let this be a message to all the countries in the region that we are moving forward and we—as Turkey and Israel—will not let any provocation, propaganda or mischief destroy peace and friendship in the region.

On the other hand, I humbly ask from my fellow Turks to be kind and unconditionally compassionate, and to act with dignity, and disallow the negativity of those who seem to follow a policy of promoting tension. The friendship of Israel and Turkey is crucial, and we will spread this friendship to the whole region together. Therefore, let us see things positively and use this opportunity in the best way. Israel made a move that is precious to the Turkish people, and we surely hold it dear.

Additionally, preserving peace for a few days is very easy, but to preserve peace over a lifetime is very hard to do. To preserve peace until the very end, patience and persistence are needed. Upholding peace, brotherhood and love unconditionally may seem hard or progress slowly, but it never comes to a deadlock as long as we continue to make efforts persistently and determinedly.

On this occasion I also would like to share my Passover wishes with my Jewish friends around the world. In these day, we, along with our Jewish friends, remember the exodus of the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) from the oppression of the Pharaoh, and their rescue and their amazing journey with God’s help. We pray for the blessings of God upon all His servants. May God bring the Days of Mashiach (Yemot HaMashiach) soon; the times that we can altogether make Korban (sacrifice) in peace and joy in the Holy Land.

“[God said:] And remember, We delivered you from the people of Pharaoh: They set you hard tasks and punishments, slaughtered your sons and let your women-folk live; therein was a tremendous trial from your Lord. And remember We divided the sea for you and saved you and drowned Pharaoh’s people within your very sight. And remember We appointed forty nights for Moses, and in his absence you took the calf (for worship), and you did grievous wrong. Even then We did forgive you; there was a chance for you to be grateful. And remember We gave Moses the Scripture and the Criterion (Between right and wrong): There was a chance for you to be guided aright.” (Qur’an, 2:49-53)

Neturey Karta Ask Obama for Protection from the Zionists

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

To the anti-Zionist faction Neturei Karta is attempting to exploit the difficult relationship between U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and to incite the former against the state of Israel. The Jerusalem Haredi neighborhood of Mea Shearim is awaiting Obama with American flags and a united call from the crowds to save hundreds of thousands of Jews from the “Zionists evil.”

Treating the president as if he was, at least, a Rosh Yeshiva, if not a Rebbe, the good people of Meah Shearim prepared special posters adorned with American flags on either side of a lovely shield that reads: The Agenda for the reception of his excellency Mr. Obama in the holy city of Jerusalem, 9 Nissan, 5773.

The poster itself reads, in text adorned by the five-pointed stars of the U.S. flag:


The Haredi Jews of Jerusalem Headed by the Rabbis, may they live long, Congregates On Wednesday, 9 Nissan, 5773 At 1:30 in the afternoon At the Meah Shearim Plaza And from there the congregation will proceed carrying U.S. flags To receive his excellency the President And ask of him To liberate the Haredi Jewish community And the entire Holy Land From the grip of the Zionist bandits!

Signed: The Haredi community in the Holy Land.

The separatist community of Neturei Karta views the entire Zionist experience as an unholy act of defiance against the gentile world, costing many Jewish lives. Their stated submission to the visiting president will be accompanied with a request, printed on another wall poster, that he use his influence “to save hundreds of thousands of Jews from the evil harassments of the Zionists, who wish to force them to abandon their faith and even, God forbid, force them to serve in the Army – an act which defies the religion and any sense of justice and human morality – and to liberate us from the repression of the Zionist infidels.”

The ads further implore Obama, the “Exalted President,” that “his heart be awake and attentive to the suffering of the Jews who hold on to the original Jewish faith of thousands of years.”

They pray for him and bless him that, should he help them, “The God of Israel will do right by the one who does good for His people, and bring him years of tranquility and success, and wherever he turns he shall act wisely, for the sake of the great kingdom of the United States and all of humanity, as the president and his government wish.”

Don’t Tell My Wife!

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

We spent Shabbat in Ashkelon, visiting my wife’s parents. On Motzei Shabbat, my wife stayed in Ashkelon (in the red glare of the rockets fired from Gaza) so that she could take her mother for a medical treatment in the morning. I drove back to Yerushalayim with my children. Along the way, we passed a stretch of fertile farmland. The heavenly rains that had fallen during Shabbat seemed to have awakened the earth, and the pungent aroma of fresh cow manure wafted into the car. My younger boys started gagging and making jokes, the way children do about such things.

“Sheket!” I told them. “I love the smell of fresh bovine in Eretz Yisrael more than any other smell in the world. To me it’s like perfume.”

“Come off it, Abba,” my 22 year-old Golani commando responded.

I switched on the car blinker and started to pull off the highway to the side of the road.

“What are you doing?” my daughter wanted to know.

“Aahhhhhhh,” my youngest son gagged, as the overpowering smell of manure filled the car. “Are you crazy? Don’t stop here!”

But I wanted to teach them a lesson. After all, they were born in Israel. Sometimes they take it for granted. Having grown up in the Holy Land, they can easily forget that things weren’t always that way, that for nearly 2000 years, we were exiled in impure, foreign lands, and that still today, half of our Nation is wallowing away in gentile countries, not knowing the incredible blessing and joy of living in your own Jewish country, upon your own Holy Land.

“Abba! What are you doing?!” my daughter called out, as I got out of the car and trekked off into the dark field.

The truth is, if my wife had been with us, I probably wouldn’t have done it. She doesn’t like me rolling in cucumber fields. The last time I did it, she stayed angry at me for a week. She said that I ruined my clothes and stank up the car. But like my kids, she grew up in Israel too. Don’t get me wrong. They are all crazy about the country, but what smells to me like Chanel #5, smells to them like just plain and smelly cow doo.

“Abba, come back !”


Happily, I prostrated myself on the Holy Land and started to roll over and over. The earth was still damp from the rain. The soil of the fertilized field stuck to my beard. The most beautiful fragrance in the world filled up my nostrils, more exhilarating than any reefer I ever smoked in the past.

“Yeeech!” my daughter screamed.

“I’m calling, Ema!” my youngest yelled out.

The rain clouds had passed, and stars twinkled in the heavens. The Rambam writes how the greatest Sages of old would kiss the soil of the Holy Land upon reaching its borders (Laws of Kings, 5:10). The Talmud describes how Rabbi Chia bar Gamda would lovingly roll in the dust of The Holy Land in order to actualize the verse of Tehillim, “For your servants desired her stones and cherished her very dust.”

Rabba Abba would kiss the stones of Acco (Ketubot 112B). Rabbi Kook explained that he wouldn’t merely kiss the ground, which is the basis of the agricultural mitzvot dependent upon the Land, but he kissed the boulders to show the inherent holiness of the Land itself. Rashi, in his commentary to the Gemara, duplicates the verse, “For your servants desired her stones,” without adding any new information, to emphasize the holiness of the very stones of the Land of Israel – up and beyond the Land’s holiness because of the commandments that are performed in its soil.

At the very end of the classic treatise on Jewish Faith, “The Kuzari,” when the Rabbi sets off on aliyah for the Land of Israel, he quotes this same verse of Tehillim: “For your servants desired her stones and cherished her very dust,” saying, “This means that Jerusalem can only be rebuilt when the Jewish People yearn for it to such an extent that they embrace her stones and her dust” (Kuzari, 5:27).

That’s how you bring Mashiach – not by singing, “Moshiach, Moshiach, Moshiach,” but by rolling in the dust of the Eretz Yisrael and doing whatever you can to rebuild the our Nation in our Land.

Israel Shocked by French Consul General Denial of Jewish Connection to the Holy Land

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Israel’s Foreign Ministry accused France’s consul general in Jerusalem of “denying Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.”

The statement by Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, came in response to remarks made last month by Consul General Frederic Desagneaux in a speech on archaeology. Desagneaux spoke of “the important archaeological projects that French archaeologists had helped to uncover in Palestine,” including the Qumran Caves.

Desagneaux also praised French archaeologists for “helping to discover Palestine.” An approved copy of his speech mentions, in this context, the Qumran Caves, where archaeologists discovered the collection of biblical texts knows as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The text does not contain the word “Jewish” and Israel appears in it once, in a sentence about the “Israel-Palestinian conflict.”

“We have seen how important these heritage sites are to international recognition of Palestine, and France intends to continue to lead the movement to recognize the Palestinians’ management of these sites,” he said, according to the copy of his speech published on the website of the consulate.

Palmor confirmed to JTA that the ministry had expressed “shock that that the French consul general was joining forces with those who would rewrite history to reflect specific agendas and erase the Jewish and Israeli connection to the Land of Israel.”

“It is unworthy of an official representative of France to provide assistance to this kind of propaganda, at the expense of fairness and historical truth,” Palmor said.

Biography of the General Consul Frédéric Desagneaux (Source: French consulate website)

Frédéric Desagneaux, was born in 1957, he graduated from the Institute of Political Sciences in Paris.

His first post was in Iraq in 1979. Then he moved to Khartoum (1981-1983) as Deputy Consul and to Muscat as Vice Secretary (1983-1986).

From 1986 to 1988, he went back to France at the Central Administration (Northern Africa and Middle East-Africa Department.)

Between 1988 and 1991 he was Deputy Consul in Tehran.

From 1991 to 1994, he returned to the Central Administration (Information, Press and Communications Department).

May 10, 1994 he was named and given the title of Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

From 1994 to 1998, he was First Secretary at the French Permanent Mission to the UN.

From 1998 to 2003 he held the position of Deputy Spokesperson for the Presidency of the French Republic.

Between 2003 and 2007, he was sent as Consul General to San Francisco.

Between 2007 and 2009, he held the position of Vice Director of Communication and Information Department and Spokesman of the Central Administration.

He came into office as Consul General in Jerusalem in August 2009.

Mr. Desagneaux is a knight in the French National Order of Merit.

Microscope Jews

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Usually, I don’t have time during the week to travel around the net and see what other bloggers are writing. But during Sukkot, I found a few spare moments, and to my great chagrin, I found some essays penned by Diaspora Jews who succumbed to the Sin of the Spies in their negative reports of the Holy Land.

These writers come to Israel with their high-powered microscopes and seek out everything bad they can find – apparently to justify their love affair with the gentile lands they adore, instead of fulfilling the Torah commandment to live in the Land of Israel.

One blogger visited the new neighborhood of Migron and concluded, “Who wants to live in a country that kicks Jews out of their homes?” Another found things in Meah Shearim too fanatic to his liking and asked, “Why would anyone want to live in a country like this?” Another found the government too secular for his tastes and wrote, “This isn’t the Holy Land we dreamed of,” as he headed back to the idyllic Promised Land of Brooklyn.

All in all, by focusing their microscopes on things which need correction, these writers turn people off from the mitzvah of living in Israel. The Spies in the wilderness did exactly the same thing in their negative report of the Land. To these microscopic Jews, the giants were too big, there were funerals wherever they looked, the cities were too mighty – therefore, they concluded, the Jews were better off staying in the wilderness – in clear rebellion against G-d’s commandment to dwell in the Land.

Thank G-d that Avraham wasn’t a microscope Jew. Even though the Land of Israel was rampant with idol worship, he gladly packed up his suitcases to dwell in the Holy Land.

What the lovers of the exile don’t realize is that the Holy land is holy, in and of itself, whether the Jews there are too religious, or not religious enough. If some Ultra Orthodox Jews are crazy, or some seculars Jews are traitors to Jewish tradition and values, is this a reason to reject the Holy Land and discourage Jews from living there?

Today is the yahrtzeit of the Gaon of Vilna. He taught that the Sin of the Spies appears in every generation, and that people don’t realize that they are caught in the kelipah of the very same terrible transgression of speaking evil about the Land (“Kol HaTor,” Ch.6).

The Gaon also taught that there are only two mitzvot that we do with all of our bodies: dwelling in the sukkah, and dwelling in Eretz Yisrael. Just as sukkah must be built, “v’lo min ha’asuee,” meaning it can’t be ready-made, so too must we take an active part in the building and settlement of the Holy Land, and not wait in Brooklyn or Beverly Hills for the Israelis, or Mashiach, to do all the work before we come.

Criticizing things which need correction certainly has a place, but discouraging people from living in the Holy Land because of faults here and there, is certainly the wrong conclusion – no matter how much a Diaspora writer wants to justify his love of gentile lands, and his failure to take an active role in making Israel the place of his dreams.

Hag Samaoch from the wonderful and eternally holy Land of Israel!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/microscope-jews/2012/10/05/

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