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January 24, 2017 / 26 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘issue’

Biden, Ryan Spar on Iran

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan clashed over Iran’s nuclear program during their televised debate.

Ryan assailed President Obama’s approach to the issue in Thursday night’s vice presidential debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky. The Wisconsin congressman accused administration officials of sending “mixed signals” to Iran about U.S. resolve.

“They say the military option’s on the table, but it’s not being viewed as credible, and the key to do this peacefully is to make sure that we have credibility,” Ryan said. “Under a Romney administration, we will have credibility on this issue.”

Biden responded by noting the president’s repeated public statements that the U.S. will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran and touting the toughness of international sanctions that the administration has secured against the Islamic Republic. “These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions, period,” Biden said.

Biden asked Ryan: “You’re talking about doing more, are you going to war? Is that what you want to do now?” Ryan replied: “We want to prevent war.”

The Iranian nuclear issue was raised by the debate moderator, journalist Martha Raddatz, who said that “there’s really no bigger national security” issue facing the U.S. In their responses, the two candidates echoed the positions articulated by their respective running mates, with Ryan stressing that Iran must not be permitted a nuclear weapons “capability” and Biden emphasizing that Iran should be prevented from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Ryan said that Iran was “four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability” and added that U.S. sanctions on Iran were only implemented by Congress “in spite of the administration.”

Regarding the possibility of U.S. military action, Biden said “we feel quite confident we could deal a serious blow to the Iranians.” But the vice president added that Iran is “a good way away” from getting a nuclear weapon, adding that “there is no difference” between the Israeli and American assessments on this point. Biden said that “both the Israelis and we will know if they start the process of building a weapon.”

Ryan also criticized Obama for not meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his recent U.S. visit, to which Biden responded that Obama has “spoken to Bibi Netanyahu as much as he’s spoken to anybody.”

Referring to the Iranian bomb illustration that Netanyahu presented at the U.N. General Assembly, Biden said: “We will not allow the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon. What Bibi held up there was: when they get to the point where they can enrich uranium enough to put into a weapon. They don’t have a weapon to put it into. Let’s all calm down a little bit here. Iran is more isolated today than when we took office.”

The vice president criticized “all this loose talk about ‘All they have to do is get to enrich uranium in a certain amount and they have a weapon.’ Not true.” He added that “if we ever have to take action, unlike when we took office, we will have the world behind us, and that matters.”

Asked by Raddatz which would be worse, war or a nuclear-armed Iran, Ryan answered that the more dangerous scenario would be “a nuclear-armed Iran which triggers a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. This is the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism. They’ve dedicated themselves to wiping an entire country off the map. They call us the Great Satan, and if they get nuclear weapons, other people in the neighborhood will pursue their nuclear weapons as well.”

Biden said that “war should always be the absolute last resort” and stressed that sanctions are crippling for Iran. Echoing Obama’s past statements on the issue of all options being on the table, Biden said: “We’ve made it clear: Big nations can’t bluff. This president doesn’t bluff.”

JTA

What Some Islamists Have Been Up To

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Sometimes the global efforts of the Islamists pay dividends for them. Sometimes they are frustrated by the authorities. Nothing happens very quickly in the battle against them. And no one can seriously claim they are being defeated; on the contrary. Here are some snapshots.

France

Reuters says one of several Islamists behind a September 19 grenade attack on a Jewish store in the Paris suburbs was shot and killed by police in the northeastern French city of Strasbourg today. Eleven other people were detained in what prosecutors called a “vast anti-terrorist operation”. The dead French man, Jérémie Louis-Sydney, 33, had served prison time for drug-dealing and had been convicted of membership in a radical Islamist movement. When police entered Sidney’s apartment around dawn, he opened fire. He was found to be equipped with a .357 Magnum revolver and reserves of ammunition.

Reuters says that in the course of the round-ups today, the police found Al-Qaeda literature, 27,000 euros in cash, and a list of Jewish organizations in Paris (the French-language reports, according to a friend of ours in Paris, used the archaic term “israélite” leading to most of the news agency reports saying the targets were Israeli, but they were actually French-Jewish) at the homes of the suspects. Among the others taken in by police is a woman described as one of Sidney’s two wives. Three of the others have criminal records for drugs, theft and violence. One of the men was arrested in the Paris region as he returned from morning prayers and was carrying a “ready to fire” 22-caliber pistol.

Australia

Melbourne’s Age newspaper has an interview today (it’s the lead story at this hour) with an Islamist preacher, Abdul Rahman Ayub, who acknowledges that he was sent to Australia in 1997 to recruit jihadists at the request of Abu Bakar Bashir, the notorious Indonesian terrorist currently serving a lengthy prison sentence. The Age calls Bashir “Indonesia’s godfather of terrorism”. Ayub co-founded the Australian wing of Jemaah Islamiah and says he personally “indoctrinated” a group of about 100 people in “the ways of violent jihad”. One of them, an Australian Moslem convert called Jack Roche (alias Paul George Holland) was later convicted in 2002 for conspiring to bomb the Israeli embassy in Canberra. In today’s interview he says he has gotten over his terrorism.

There were about 30 active “radicals” in Australia when he left there in 2002, he says, and while ”I don’t know about their recent development, whether they’re still active or not… I believe they are still there.” Ayub says he is no longer in favour of “violent jihad” and thinks Moslems “should fight only as soldiers in a war zone” whatever that means. Elsewhere in today’s Age [“J is for Jihad“], one of its foreign correspondents in Asia points out that “Indonesia’s prisons are a breeding ground for terrorists, and so are some of the Islamic boarding schools. But despite the ever-present threat of terrorism, the Indonesian state shows little interest in tackling this issue.”

UK and US

The one-eyed Sunni Islamist cleric with a hook for a hand, Abu Hamza al-Masri (sometimes known as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa), was finally extradited to the United States on Friday after his eight-year legal battle to avoid deportation ended in failure. He was jailed by the British for incitement to murder (of “non-believers”). He became famous for his hate-filled sermons in the years that he was the imam of the Islamist hot-bed, the Finsbury Park Mosque, in north London. He loved the UK, calling it “a paradise, where you could do anything you wanted” [source], and he meant it.

British taxpayers have contributed several million dollars to the man in the form of welfare payments and government-funded legal services. The Americans have charged the preacher with hostage taking, conspiracy to establish a militant training camp in the US state of Oregon and calling for holy war in Afghanistan [source]. The British prime minister [source] marked the occasion with a brief appreciation of the man and his achievements:

I’m absolutely delighted that Abu Hamza is now out of this country. Like the rest of the public I’m sick to the back teeth of people who come here, threaten our country, who stay at vast expense to the taxpayer and we can’t get rid of them. I’m delighted on this occasion we’ve managed to send this person off to a country where he will face justice.

Visit This Ongoing War.

Frimet and Arnold Roth

Torah and Science – The Controversy Remains

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

It seems that two very prominent rabbinic figures have come on board with Rabbi Slifkin’s views with respect to reconciling science and the Torah. According to a post on Hirhurim by Rabbi Gil Student, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of England, and a man of great intellect whom I respect and admire greatly is one of them. The other is Rabbi Yaakov Ariel – one of the chief Poskim of Religious Zionists in Israel. These two people are not just your average rabbis. They are both highly respected not only by me but by Jews all over the world.

I am always glad to see that reasonable approaches to reconciling Torah and science – like those of Rabbi Slifkin – are increasingly being re-accepted by mainstream rabbis of stature. Especially since in the case of Lord Sacks – he had his new book on the subject vetted by the London Beth Din. Which as R’ Gil points out means that we can “deduce that the London Beth Din feels this book does not rise to the level of deserving condemnation.”

But that has not removed the problem created by the ban of these views by the right. They have clearly stated that anything other than a view than that the universe is 5773 years old is Apikursus. And to believe that Chazal only knew and utilized the best science of their era is Apikursus as well.

The only acceptable view on this issue is that anything which is included in the Talmud – whether it is Halacha or science is Emes… if there are current knowledge of science contradicts those views, we either don’t understand Chazal or we do not fully understand the science.

Many people would just say, “Who cares what the right wing says about these things?!”

Sorry, wrong answer.

We cannot ignore the right wing just because we disagree with them. They are far too big and far too important. They are probably the largest segment of Orthodoxy and are certainly the fastest growing. They are clearly the wave of the future – at least in moderate form.

In the world of the right, when a gadol like Rav Elyashiv sets policy, it is considered near blasphemy to contradict or disregard it. Rav Elyashiv famously declared the views espoused by Rabbi Slifkin – and now Lord Sacks and Rav Ariel to be Apikursus. Until the day he died he never backed down form that. (Although interestingly he never declared Rabbi Slifkin himself to be an Apikores since the views he espoused were in fact espoused by Rishonim. One cannot declare someone an Apikores because he believes in the views of Rishonim even if those views are no longer accepted.)

It was Ner Israel Rosh HaYeshiva, Rabbi Aharon Feldman, originally a backer of Rabbi Slifkin’s views who explained why he now rejected them; explaining why we are no longer permitted to believe in those views. In essence he said it is because Rav Elyashiv said so. And we cannot disagree with the Psak of the Gadol HaDor in these matters.

Interestingly he must have been quite incredulous about initial reports about Rav Elyashiv’s rejection of views which up to that point he held to be legitimate. Upon hearing about it, he immediately flew to Israel to find out first hand if it was true. And came back saying that indeed it was.

The right wing view on this subject is therefore are unbreakable. In numerous statements over the years since this controversy began, various members of the Agudah Moetzes and other rabbinic leaders were adamant in support for the views of a man who they saw as the Gadol HaDor. And in the process Rabbi Slifkin was – and still is being hammered by them.

Since that time, many respected rabbis have come out of support of Rabbi Slifkin’s views, Lord Sacks and Rav Areil only being the latest. But unless there is some sort of rethinking on this issue by the right (which I don’t see happening) – this a Pyrrhic victory at best. Nothing has changed. These views will continue to be seen as Apikursus by the largest and fasted growing segment of Orthodox Jewry. That is extremely sad and could lead to an even greater spit in Orthodoxy than we have even now.

Harry Maryles

US Warned Europeans against Supporting Palestinian Statehood

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

The United States reportedly warned European governments in a memorandum not to support a Palestinian bid for increased status at the United Nations.

The memorandum, which was exposed by the Guardian, called giving the Palestinians enhanced non-member state status “extremely counterproductive” and threatened “significant negative consequences” for the Palestinian Authority, including financial sanctions.

The memorandum, sent by U.S. officials to representatives of European governments at the United Nations General Assembly last week in New York, said that Palestinian statehood “can only be achieved via direct negotiations with the Israelis.” It called on the European governments to block Palestinian attempts to be recognized as a non-member state.

It also asked each government where it stands on the issue and said the U.S. was interested in knowing whether the European governments had been approached by Palestinian representatives.

The Palestinians reportedly will wait until after November’s presidential elections in America to make their bid for the new status in the General Assembly, where the United States does not have veto power. They will, however, press for a vote by the end of the year and expect the issue to pass by a “comfortable majority,” according to the Guardian.

JTA

Outreach, Regrets and the Wrong Man for the Job

Friday, September 28th, 2012

In a recent issue of Mishpacha Magazine the important issue of Baal Teshuva (BT) regret was tackled. The Baal Teshuva phenomenon is a subject that is dear to my heart. Organizations like Aish HaTorah (pictured) have been successfully reaching out to young unaffiliated Jews for decades now.

Although I haven’t discussed it in quite some time, those who know my views – know that that my feelings toward the Baal Teshuva (and equally to the sincere convert) is one of immeasurable respect.

To put my views in a nutshell, the idea of coming to observant Judaism on one’s own initiative is something those of us who were born into it (FFBs), cannot possibly achieve. We did not search for the truth to then find it in Judaism. Judaism was handed to us on a platter. Most of us have known nothing else.

Even though we can all achieve great depths of understanding – it is an order of magnitude greater when one does this from scratch. So I stand in awe of such people and echo what the Talmud says in Brachos (34b):

B’Makom She’Baalei Teshuvah Omdim, Ein tzaddik Gamur Yachol Laamod – In the place where the Baal Teshuva stands, even the most righteous among us cannot stand.

I realize that not every Baal Teshuva starts out from the vantage point of simply seeking truth. Some simply find comfort in observant communities. Or appreciate the structure an observant lifestyle gives them. Or the like the values Judaism represents. Sometimes it is about rebelling against a secular past or a dysfunctional family.

In these cases there may be no real dwelling on the great truths of the Torah. But ultimately belief in these truths does play a significant part.

The problem discussed in the Mishpacha article sometimes Baalei Teshuva get “buyer’s remorse.” There could be several reasons for this. For example if the motivation to become observant is too shallow then becoming observant may be only temporary. Sometimes it is because of disillusionment with the negative behavior they see among some of our FFB Orthodox brethren. There are probably a lot of reasons.

However, there does seem to a consensus among those involved in outreach people that the blame in many of these cases may lie in the fact that Baalei Teshuva are often not accepted into the larger Orthodox communities. Rejection can be a big turn off!

I don’t believe this is a Charedi versus Modern Orthodox dichotomy. I think the problem exists in both worlds. No matter how hard they try, some communities just don’t do a good job of welcoming the BT into their lives. That leaves them out in the cold and on their own.

Why is that the case? I’m not entirely sure but I have heard it said for example that a Baal Teshuva or a convert brings a lot of secular baggage with them. Baggage that an FFB community does not want to deal with. For me that is a nonsense and a non issue. Most BTs are sincere and are willing to give up the Issurim they were involved with. Like going to McDonald’s for a cheeseburger. What they may not be willing to give up is everything from their past lives. Nor should they.

For example for those who reject secular culture in their lives in any form – it might be a problem for them if the Baal Teshuva likes listening to popular music. But for me, that is a plus. It shows a normal and healthy approach to life.

A Baal Teshuva need not reject everything from their past. As long as there are no Halachic objections popular culture should not be any more of a problem for the Baal Teshuva than it is for me. I recall a Limudei Kodesh principal of a Chasidic day school – with a long beard and who wore a Kapote daily mentioning that when he took long trips by car he listened to Beatles tapes!

Many of the families whose children were in his school would have been shocked by that had they known. The point is that this Mechanech knew there was no problem with secular culture per se. Only that part of which is not permissible by Halacha. But he never communicated that to his students.

Harry Maryles

For Victims of Abuse – A Warm Embrace

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Note from Harry Maryles: I usually take this time on the eve of the New Year to reflect on what kind if a year this was for me. The sudden death of my grandson Reuven who suffered from cancer was unexpected. Although his prognosis was never great, he had defied the odds by living as long as he did. People all over the world davened for him and for that I am still grateful.  But it was not meant to be.

On one unusually warm morning in early March of this year Reuven was taken from us as he suddenly collapsed – never to resuscitated. That was one of the hardest days of my life.  But I am grateful to God for all the blessings he as otherwise given me.  And with God’s help I look forward to a much better year ahead.
 
Aside from that personal note, I am going to relinquish the space I give here to any additional reflection or the Dvar Torah I usually give on Erev Yom Tov- to Rabbi Yakov Horowitz. He asked me if I would cross post an essay from his website on my blog. After reading it, I decided that there is no Dvar Torah that I could deliver that would be more important than his words.
With all the troubles facing Klal Yisroel now, I don’t think there is a single issue more important than the issue of sex abuse in our community. We all know the horror stories the survivors of abuse tell us. And we all too often hear of the devastating consequences they face – some for many years after.
 
In part the altered lives they live are a result of the abuse itself. But it is in part also because of the unfortunate negative reaction to the victims by their own community.  It is to this sad reality that Rabbi Horowitz speaks. The new year is not only a time for reflection. It is a time for change. If there is one thing we need to change as a community it is how we treat victims of abuse.
 
Ksiva V’Chasima Tova to all. The following are Rabbi Horowitz’s words.
As we prepare to stand before Hashem in the days to come, and daven (pray) for ourselves, our families and all of Klal Yisroel, those of us who work with survivors of abuse and molestation ask you to publicly show your support for them in these yemei rachamim (days of mercy).
Part and parcel of the strategy employed by many of the predators in our community is to discredit their victims who have the courage to step forward and press charges against them. Typically, the molester will point to the victim’s 1) diminished level of religious observance and/or 2) self-destructive behaviors, like substance abuse, to “prove” his own innocence.However, for those of us who work with at-risk teens, the fact that one of our tayere kinderlach engaged in hard-core drug use, self-mutilation, suicide attempts, or left Yiddishkeit, makes it MORE likely that the accusation is true, not less. Why? Because we have known for many years now that the vast majority of our kids who have descended into the gehenom of these destructive activities have done so because they were molested.Of all the horror committed by predators against our innocent, precious boys and girls, the premeditated and deliberate defamation of their character is perhaps the most unforgivable; since it abuses them all over again and adds to their disconnect from our kehila – when what they need most is our acceptance and love.
With that in mind, I respectfully ask our readers to please stand with the brave survivors and their families who have the courage to take the lonely path of coming forward and pressing charges, with the other silent and silenced victims who are watching the high-profile cases unfold very carefully to determine whether they too should risk going to the authorities, and with all survivors of abuse and molestation.Precisely because the predators attempt to discredit and disgrace the victims and their families, is all the more reason why we need to reach out to them and let them know how much we respect and care for them.Kindly take a few minutes from your busy schedules and post a Rosh Hashana bracha in the thread* following these lines, and have them in mind in your Tefillos. Previous efforts to garner public support for victims were extraordinarily comforting to them, as they help restore their faith in humanity and let them know that the vast majority of our community members are behind them.
Please include your real names and the names of the cities where you live to personalize your message and to send a clear message that we proudly stand with the survivors and their families.
Abuse survivors are our heilege neshamosour holy souls. They have endured unspeakable trauma in their lives and had their childhood cruelly stolen from them, because they learned at a very young age, at the mercy of cunning and evil predators, to never trust again. Nonetheless, the vast, overwhelming majority of survivors seek no revenge or retribution. They only hope and pray that today’s children be spared from the horror they endured.
Regardless of their observance level, we ought to welcome these survivors as full and respected members of our kehilos. We ought to commit to them that we will do everything possible to remove from our community those who prey on our innocent children and speak truth to power if necessary in the coming year to keep all our children safe and secure.If the great tzadik, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev zt’l were alive, I imagine that he would embrace abuse survivors in his shul on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and proclaim to Hashem, “Master of the Universe, look at these heilige neshamos who have endured so much with such dignity, and in their ze’chus inscribe us all in the Book of Life.”
Best wishes for a k’siva v’chasima tova and may Hashem answer our tefilos b’rachamim u’vrazon.
*Harry Maryles: As always, I welcome all comments to this post. Rabbi Horowitz is also taking comments in the form of Brachos to survivors on his website. If you can, it would be wonderful to get as many readers of this blog as possible to do so. Once again, Ksiva V’Chasima Tova to all!
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Romney Tells the Key Truth Needed to Comprehend the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Visit Barry Rubin’s blog, Rubin Reports.

So much has the debate been shifted “that what thirty years ago was a common-sense given is now considered a landmark breakthrough” (Victor Davis Hanson).

You see, here’s what you have to do. You’ve got to take the most basic logical statements—the ones absolutely necessary to understand reality—and rule them out of bounds. For example, there’s nothing wrong with the economy. To say so is, well, racist. And there’s nothing wrong with a government policy that refuses to control the country’s borders. To say so is, well, racist. In fact, you can’t criticize this U.S. government at all because to do so is, well, racist.

And you can’t point out that America’s problem in the Middle East is not due to an obscure video on You-Tube but to a massive revolutionary Islamist movement determined to destroy American influence in the region, take over every country there, smash the Christians, subordinate the women, impose a dictatorship, and commit genocide against Israel. Yep, you got it! Racist again!

This brings us to the latest attack on presidential candidate Mitt Romney. It is impossible to understand the Arab-Israel, Israel-Palestinian conflict or Israel’s situation without comprehending that the Palestinian leadership doesn’t want real peace and a real two state solution ending the conflict. If things were different, they could have had a Palestinian state in 1948 or on numerous occasions thereafter, notably including at the Camp David meeting and with President Bill Clinton’s proposal (based on an Israeli proposal) in 2000.

So Romney stated this basic, easily provable and highly demonstrable truth, without which the whole issue makes no sense whatsoever. Woe unto him, as he is portrayed as being ignorant, bigoted, and troublesome for stating the basic pro-Israel position that most Democratic politicians accepted a few years ago. It was precisely what Clinton learned when Yasir Arafat turned down his very serious offer in 2000.

The whole attack on Romney is rather humorous since the left-wing magazine that had a series of “revelations” about a speech he made during his trip to Israel—“revelations” I’d all heard a week ago—is quoting things that make perfect sense.

Romney said that one of the two ways he considered looking at the issue—a major qualification—is:

“That the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.”

He then continued doing the most basic, responsible thing a statesman can do. Romney posited that a Palestinian state existed and then discussed how this might create terrible security dangers for Israel, including direct attack and the opening of Palestine’s territory to radical regimes’ armies. For the mean time, the only choice might be the status quo.

This is the kind of thing Israeli analysts, and many Americans, have been saying for decades and detailing. It is the basis framework of how any country must plan its survival, strategy, and national security.

What makes this even more ludicrous is that it is not so far from Obama’s own statements, though of course he did not say such things in so many years. The president admitted that he tried very hard to make progress and failed; noted that peacemaking was hard; grudgingly hinted that it wasn’t all Israel’s fault; and in practice put the issue on the back burner.

That behavior represents the conclusion that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is not ready to make peace. It seems quite reasonable to posit that Obama has reached the same conclusion as the one Romney articulated.

To begin with, remember there are two Palestinian leaderships today. Hamas is openly against peace, though a surprising number of people seem to forget that periodically. The PA is genuinely relatively more moderate—a factor that has some benefits–and certainly far more subtle. But on this issue the bottom line is precisely the same.

Why doesn’t the PA want a real, lasting peace? For a lot of reasons. Much, not all but probably 90 percent, of the leadership still believes that they should and will take power in all of the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. Even though they know Israel is not likely to go away easily or even at all, they hope that something will turn up. At any rate, as Palestinian leaders have often said, it is better not to make any concessions and to leave the issue open for possible total victory to the next generation.

Barry Rubin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/romney-tells-the-key-truth-needed-to-comprehend-the-israel-palestinian-conflict/2012/09/19/

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