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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘justice’

Baffled In Sderot

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

What is the solution to the constant missile attacks in southern Israel?

Those with a solution are the people who warned against signing the Oslo Accords in the first place. These people continue to be sidelined. Clearly, the Oslo advocates have no intention of giving up the profits and perks of the “peace industry” that they have created.

Those profits are not necessarily monetary. Our current president, Shimon Peres, enjoys his position due to the peace industry. He has also become a wealthy man, thanks to “peace.” But that is only a small part of the problem. The peace industry advocates are senior media personalities, well-connected industrialists and politicians who climbed the political ladder with alacrity once they realized on which side their bread was buttered.

Most seriously, the peace industry also includes a thick swath of senior IDF officers who understood that their path to progress was paved with Oslo and who erased the concept of victory from their lexicon. In Oslo we surrendered the belief in the justice of our cause, exchanging it for pragmatism. He who surrenders the belief that he is just is incapable of winning.

On Tuesday of last week, I was at a campaign rally in Sderot. “I would like to ask what some of you may see as a strange question,” I said to the audience in the packed hall. “In the war that is raging right now [this was before the major fighting began the next day] between us and the Gazans, who is right?”

The hall fell silent. The audience looked uncomfortable and curious.

“They are right,” one woman said.

“We are right,” said another.

Most of the audience just looked baffled.

“Look at what is happening,” I continued. “Even here in Sderot, we cannot get a clear answer to the most fundamental of questions. So who is right?”

An endless stream of commentators, security experts and politicians visit Sderot. One advocates targeted assassinations, the other conquest; one says we should talk and the other says we should disengage. When all is said and done it is clear to all that not one of them has gotten to the root of the real problem, and is still incapable – after 12 years of Sderot being on the receiving end of incoming missiles – of relieving the misery of southern Israel’s residents.

Sderot’s problem is not military in nature. Clearly, we are stronger than them. The reason that we cannot deal with murderous attacks against our citizens is not military; rather it is spiritual. We have lost our belief in the justice of our cause. A mistake of this proportion cannot be rectified with shortcuts. We must return to the point at which we strayed from the path.

That point is Oslo. It is there that we declared that this land is not our land. It is there that we recognized the rights of a different sovereign in our country’s heartland. It is there that we lost the legitimacy for our existence in Sderot and, as a result, the ability to fight against an enemy who does believe in the justice of his cause.

Where was God When Hurricane Sandy Struck?

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

What was G-d thinking when he sent Hurricane Sandy and what could have been its purpose?

In truth, I don’t much care, because our role as humans is not to understand G-d’s plan in the face of horror and tragedy, but to challenge God and demand that human life always be protected and preserved.

Did I say demand? Yes, humanity has rights before God. We are His children. He commanded us to preserve and promote life always. “Choose life,” Moses orders the Israelite nation in God’s name, on the last day of His life. And the Creator must abide by the same dictates He expects His creatures to.

Reading The New York Times story today about the approximately 39 people who died in the storm, I was sick to my stomach. I read it out loud to my kids over our candlelit dinner in a home with no electricity or heat. They could not listen any more. There was the Manhattan woman whose only sin was to walk her dog and was killed by a falling tree. There was the woman whose iniquity was to take a picture of a downed power line. She did not see the puddle in front of her. Her body, the Times reported, was on fire for half an hour before rescue workers could salvage what was left of her. There was the young Jewish couple killed walking a dog in Brooklyn. There were the two boys in New York state killed when they walked just outside their house to peer at the storm briefly.

Did any of these people deserve to die?

In the face of these natural disasters there are always those who are trying to divine the mind of God when really their role as humans is to argue with God. That’s exactly what the name Israel means, He who wrestles with God. Isn’t that what Abraham does in this week’s Torah reading where he raises his fist to the heavens and proclaims, in the face of God’s announcement that he is destroying all the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, “Will the judge of the entire earth not Himself practice justice?” Would God really allow the righteous to die along with the wicked?

Is this not also what Moses says to God after he is told that the Jews will be annihilated for the sin of the Golden calf? If you do so, says the great prophet, “then I beseech you, erase my name from the Torah You have written.”

And when God had earlier sent Moses to free the Jews from Egypt but Pharaoh had instead intensified their suffering and servitude, Moses, defiant, says to God, “Why have you behaved wickedly to this people, and why have you sent me… You have thus far not saved Your people.”

The role of human beings in the face of seeming divine miscarriages of justice is hold God accountable and demand clemency for humanity. God is all powerful. He does not need a defense attorney. But humans are fragile and vulnerable and they need all the protection they can get.

Today me, my family, and our campaign staff toured the devastation of our district. We saw cities deluged in flood waters, homes with trees crashed down on their roofs. We witnessed long lines of cars of people trying to buy gas, including tens of people with gas canisters waiting in line for hours. And as far as our campaign is concerned,, it has been reduced to me and our staff sitting in the Garden State Mall tonight plugged into a single outlet on the floor trying to charge our laptops and phones. All this is an inconvenience and, God willing, we’ll dig out. But the people who buried children, the residents who will never again see a spouse, the citizens will mourn parents, my God, my God, what are they to do?

I have grown weary of those who say that suffering is somehow redemptive, that it carries with it a positive outcome. I do not deny that this is at times so. Those who suffer can sometimes emerge humbler, wiser, gentler. But let’s get real. There is nothing beneficial that comes from suffering that could have not been achieved far more effectively through a positive means. To the contrary, suffering leaves us broken and cynical, disbelieving and forlorn, miserable and depressed.

It is time we human beings agreed to wage an all out war on suffering so that it is never excused as something blessed again.

Never again should we say that earthquakes in Haiti are caused by a compact the Haitians had earlier made with the devil. Never again should we say that Israeli soldiers die becauseKibbutznikim eat rabbit and other non-kosher meat. Never again should we say that innocent Palestinians, who are used as human shields by the terrorist monsters of Hamas and Hezbollah, die because of the wrath of Allah. And never again must we say that the Jews of the holocaust died because they wanted to be cease being Jewish, choosing to be German instead.

Because I am disgusted with this kind of thought, I wrote a full-length book that is to be published in November called The Fed-Up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. But I could not have divined, when I wrote it, that the place I live would have experienced such immense devastation.

The Bible in Deuteronomy is clear. “The hidden things are for G-d to understand, but the revealed things are for us and our children.” Why G-d allows good people to suffer is a secret known to him. But we human beings ought to have no interest in knowing the secret. What we want, what we demand, is that the suffering stop completely so that God and humanity can finally be reconciled, after a long history of human travail and agony, in a bright and blessed future, bereft of suffering, absent of tragedy, and filled with blessing.

Canadians, UN, Judges: Palestinian Authority Is Rigging the Courts

Friday, October 5th, 2012

In an unprecedented move, Palestinian judges in Judea and Samaria this week went on strike in protest against the Palestinian Authority’s repeated attempts to meddle in the internal affairs of the judiciary system.

The judges’ protest shows that the Palestinian Authority is making a mockery of the courts in the West Bank. Moreover, it shows that the Palestinian Authority leadership wants the judges to issue verdicts that do not embarrass or harm senior Palestinian officials.

The protest raises serious questions about the international community’s efforts to help the Palestinian Authority build a proper and credible judicial system in the West Bank.

The Canadian Development Agency, with the help of the UN Development Program, has been funding projects aimed at building new courthouses in the Judea and Samaria ”to improve the Palestinians’ access to justice.”

But building new courthouses is not exactly what Palestinians need. Justice can be achieved even if the judges, lawyers, prosecutors and defendants sit in a tent.

Instead of investing in new buildings, it would be more helpful if the Canadians and UN agency demanded that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his aides stop obstructing the work of the judges.

Hasan Khraisheh, deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), told the daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi that the Palestinian Authority was trying to seize control over the judiciary system by appointing its supporters to senior positions.

By seeking to appoint the justice minister as attorney-general, the Palestinian Authority leadership is trying to avoid the possibility of holding any of its senior officials accountable, Khraisheh added. “There should be complete separation between the executive and legislative bodies,” he argued.

The attorney-general’s job has been vacant since the resignation last month of Ahmed al-Mughni, who had filed corruption charges against two cabinet ministers.

“We want to be fully independent in our work,” said Ibrahim Amr, chairman of the Palestinian Judges’ Society. “We don’t want anyone or any party to interfere with our work.”

Amr said that decision to strike came after his colleagues and he felt that there were attempts to “affect judges’ rulings.”

He also warned the Palestinian Authority leadership against pursuing its attempts to take control of the judiciary system. “This marks the beginning of the collapse of the Palestinian judicial system,” he cautioned.

The judges say they are particularly concerned by the Palestinian Authority government’s attempt to appoint the justice minister also as attorney-general, saying the move violates the Palestinian constitution and threatens the independence of the judiciary system.

In addition, the Palestinian judges are angry because the Palestinian Authority has been amending and passing new laws without consulting them or seeking the approval of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

Now it remains to be seen whether the Canadians and U.N. agencies will listen to the voices of the angry judges and demand that the Palestinian Authority halt its attempts to control the judiciary system. Ignoring these voices will allow Abbas and his top aides to turn Palestinian judges into obedient servants of the Palestinian Authority leadership.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Israel’s UN Envoy Leaves Session in Protest When A-Jad Takes Podium

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Israel’s UN envoy Ron Prosor left a UN session on Monday in protest when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the podium.  Ahmadinejad was present to speak about the rule of law in a session on the subject.

Prosor said inviting the Iranian leader to speak on the subject is like “appointing a pyromaniac as fire chief,” saying he is “a serial violator of the fundamental principles of the rule of law”.

“It is a shame and disgrace to give someone like him the opportunity to speak on such an important topic,” Prosor said.  “There is no justice and no judge.”

Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

The ordeal of Rimsha Masih, a Pakistani Christian arrested on charges of blasphemy, is far from over. In Pakistan, an allegation of blasphemy can be enough to result in the accused being killed even in the absence of a trial or evidence.

Masih, age fourteen, was charged under Pakistan’s notoriously draconian blasphemy laws, with burning a copy of the Quran, and held for three weeks in Rawalpindi prison.

There are serious flaws in the case against Masih. Not only is she a minor, but there are also reports that she has learning difficulties and is not of full mental capacity. To complicate the matter further, a local imam has also been arrested on claims that over he framed the girl after an ongoing dispute with her family.

Despite this, blasphemy allegations continue to elicit such passions in Pakistan that authorities could not risk sending Masih home; and a number of her neighbours, fearing reprisals after mosques disclosed her address, have fled their village.

Blasphemy is such a contentious issue that despite being released on bail, Masih had to be taken by an armoured vehicle to a military helicopter and then transported to an undisclosed location where she is currently in hiding. Police fear that if Masih is allowed to return to her village, a vigilante mob would attack her.

These fears are not unfounded. A lawyer for the prosecution warned that if Masih were not convicted, such a scenario was likely. Last year the governor of the Punjab, Salman Taseer, was shot dead for merely suggesting the blasphemy laws should be changed. Weeks after Taseer’s assassination Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic who was Pakistan’s only Christian member of the Cabinet, and who opposed the blasphemy laws, was also killed.

Far from causing revulsion, these assassinations were largely welcomed by militant groups and their supporters. Taseer’s assassin was lauded not just by radicals, but by those who would be expected to oppose mob “justice”: lawyers. Instead of being outraged, the young lawyers association of the Punjab offered to defend Taseer’s killer pro bono.

Minorities, being subject to almost half of all prosecutions under the law despite comprising about only 3% of the overall population, have particularly suffered under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which is drafted in broad terms and states:

Article 295

B – Whoever wilfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Qur’an or an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life.

C – Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

Politicians who want to challenge the law are routinely killed or intimidated, making the government keen to pursue – rather than curtail – blasphemy laws.

In 2009, in an effort an that is still current, Pakistan sponsored UN Res. 1618, to persuade the United Nation to adopt a law that initially would internationally criminalize questioning or discussing Islam, but was then changed to state “religions.” The U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, broke years of silence on the topic to sponsor an official three-day, closed-door meeting on the Resolution in Washington D.C. just last December.

Pakistan, has also started monitoring internet and text communications in Pakistan, to ensure that people are not sending, searching, or looking up material that could be considered insulting to Islam.

This is the impasse: No one in Pakistan is willing to challenge the blasphemy laws. Those who do are assassinated. Mob justice is rampant in such cases, with the issues becoming highly charged and little attention being paid to the facts. The implications for those accused of such crimes are devastating.

Masih has no future in Pakistan. To ensure she can live her life, the British Pakistani Christian Association is currently lobbying the British government to grant her asylum so she can escape the strictures of religious fanaticism in the country.

In Pakistan, the mere allegation of blasphemy imposes the life sentence of a death sentence.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Efraim Zuroff on Capturing Nazis and Bringing Them to Justice

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai is joined by Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who is the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center office in Jerusalem and one of the last Nazi hunters, those dedicated to bringing Holocaust perpetrators to justice. Yishai and Zuroff talk about Zuroff’s background and how he found himself becoming involved in bringing aging Nazi war criminals to justice. They also talk about Zuroff’s book “Operation Last Chance” and also the ongoing investigation that uses the same name, specifically talking about Nazi war criminals that have been captured and tried in recent years.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Four Americans Killed in Raid on Benghazi Consulate by Protesters of ‘Blasphemous’ Film

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

According to al-Jazeera’s correspondent in Benghazi, Suleiman Idrissi, “At about 11.30 pm a group of people calling themselves Islamic law (Sharia) supporters heard there would be an American movie insulting the prophet Muhammad. Once they heard this news they came out out of their military garrison, and went into the streets calling on people to go ahead and attack the American consulate in Benghazi.”

Rocket-propelled grenades were fired from a farm next door to the consulate. Video clips on al-Jazeera show men walking through the consulate gardens in front of the burning buildings.

Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was on a short visit to Benghazi, is reported to have died from smoke inhalation, along with an American computer expert at the consulate, Sean Smith, and two security guards.

The Internet has been swarming with rumors and debates on Wednesday, over the true identity of Sam Bacile, proud director of a truly stupid movie titled “Innocence of Islam,” 13 minutes of which he shared with the world. He introduced himself to several news reporters, over the phone from his “hideout,” as a Jew and an Israeli, adding that the funding for his film came from 100 Jewish donors.

As Facebook is becoming filled with pages titled “We hate Sam Bacile,” “America deport Sam Bacile,” and “Who wants to kill Sam Bacile,” to name only a few, Jews everywhere are praying that Sam Bacile is not Jewish. We really don’t need the extra tzuris. Which explains the Facebook page “Israelis, Jews & Americans Against Sam Bacile’s ‘Innocence of Muslims’ Film.”

Sarah Posner of religiondispatches.org listed many contradictions in the Sam Bacile news narrative: in one account he is 52 and in another he is 56. To the AP he is “a California real estate developer who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew” and to the Times of Israel he is “Jewish and familiar with the region.” And what about that bit at the end of the statement to the Times of Israel–that “even Jesus” should be “in front of the judge”? That sounds like someone who is trying to provoke more than just Muslims. A lot of things don’t add up here about the claimed identity of the filmmaker.

I’ve no idea if any of Posner’s points are truly problematic, she is touching a notion most of us, news junkies, have had all day regarding this guy: something about him doesn’t smell right.

Statement by the President on the Attack in Benghazi

I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.

I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.

On a personal note, Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya’s transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my Administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.

The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward.

Don’t Worry! Be Happy!

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Amongst the many eye-opening revelations on t’shuva in Rabbi Kook’s writings, one concept is especially staggering in its profundity. Usually, we think that a process is completed when it reaches its end. We experience a feeling of satisfaction when we finish a project. An underlying tension often accompanies our work until it is accomplished. This is because the final goal is considered more important than the means.

Most people feel the same way about t’shuva. Until the process of t’shuva is complete, they feel unhappy, anxious, overwhelmed with the wrongdoings which they have been unable to redress. Rabbi Kook tells us that this perspective is wrong. When it comes to t’shuva, the goal is not the most important thing. It is the means which counts. What matters the most is the striving for perfection, for the striving for perfection is perfection itself. He writes:

If not for the contemplation of t’shuva, and the comfort and security which come with it, a person would be unable to find rest, and spiritual life could not develop in the world. Man’s moral sense demands justice, goodness, and perfection. Yet how very distant is moral perfection from man’s actualization, and how feeble he is in directing his behavior toward the pure ideal of absolute justice. How can he aspire to that which is beyond his reach? For this, t’shuva comes as a part of man’s nature. It is t’shuva which perfects him. If a man is constantly prone to transgress, and to have difficulties in maintaining just and moral ideals, this does not blemish his perfection, since the principle foundation of his perfection is the constant longing and desire for perfection. This yearning is the foundation of t’shuva, which constantly orchestrates man’s path in life and truly perfects him” (Orot Ha’Tshuva, 5:6. The Art of T’shuva, Ch.5).

Dear reader, please note: if you are not yet a tzaddik, you need not be depressed. Success in t’shuva is not measured by the final score at the end of the game. It is measured by the playing. The striving for good is goodness itself. The striving for atonement is atonement. The striving for perfection is what perfects, in and of itself.

King Solomon teaches that no man is free of sin: “For there is not a just man on earth that does good and never sins” (Kohelet, 7:20). Transgression is part of the fabric of life. Since we are a part of this world, we too are subject to “system failure” or sin.  Even the righteous occasionally succumb to temptation. Thus, until the days of Mashiach, an ideal, sinless existence is out of man’s reach.

An illustration may help make this concept clearer. On Yom Kippur, we are like angels. We don’t eat, we don’t drink. All day long we pray for atonement from all of our sins. At the end of the day, with the final blast of the shofar, we are cleansed. But in the very next moment, as we pray the evening service, we once again ask God to forgive us. Forgive us for what? The whole day we have acted like angels. Our sins were whitened as snow. In the few seconds between the end of Yom Kippur and the evening prayer, what sin did we do? Maybe at the beginning of the evening prayer, exhausted by the fast, we didn’t concentrate on our words. Maybe our prayers on Yom Kippur were half-hearted, as if repeating last year’s cassette. Maybe, we forgot to ask forgiveness for some of our sins.

The point is that the process of t’shuva never ends. Perfection in deeds is out of human reach. Thus, when a goal is unattainable, it is the striving to reach the goal that counts. Regarding t’shuva, it is the constant striving for t’shuva which purifies, enlightens, elevates, and perfects. So relax all you seekers of t’shuva. Even if you haven’t yet atoned for all of your sins, Don’t worry! Be Happy! As long as you are sincerely trying, this is what really counts.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/dont-worry-be-happy/2012/09/10/

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