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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘majority’

Reuters Poll: Majority of Americans Back Strike Against Iran, Even if Gas Prices Were to Rise

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

A recent poll by Reuters/Ipsos revealed that a majority of Americans would support US military action against Iran if there were evidence that it is pursuing nuclear weapons.

The poll, conducted from March 8-11, reported that 56% of respondents would support US military action, while 39% opposed.

In response to the question of whether they would back US military action if it meant an increase in gasoline prices, a majority -53%- still expressed support for military action, while 42% said they would not.

The poll also found that 62 % of Americans surveyed would support Israel undertaking a military strike against Tehran.

The Obama administration has said that higher gasoline prices are one likely result of a military attack on Iran, and has urged the international community – and particularly Israel – to give sanctions more time.

Unsurprisingly, the poll also revealed that Republicans were more supportive of military action than Democrats – whereas 70% of Republicans would back military force, only 46% percent of Democrats agreed.

The poll was conducted among 1,084 adults across the United States, and has a margin of error of 3.1%.

Popular Israeli TV Host Calls for Reducing Number of “Ultra Orthodox Grandchildren”

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

I met talk show host Yaron London only once—the same Yaron London who on Tuesday urged secular Israelis to, instead of drafting the Ultra Orthodox into the army en masse, “we should aim to reduce their birthrate.”

Back in 1994, Yaron London was doing a story for Israel TV on Lubavitch messianism in America and promised to pay me $1000 to introduce him to key movement figures (my book, “Dancing and Crying,” on the demise of the Rebbe, had just come out).

He never paid, but I still believe Yaron London is a decent man. And if he resorted to an article that’s more than a little bit reminiscent of Der Stürmer, it must mean that a tectonic shift has occurred in Israel’s secular society, and it may also mean that many of my own preconceived notions no longer apply.

London writes today in Ynet: “Israeli society is sick. The illness is Jewish fundamentalism. National service to Haredim who refuse to join the army is the medicine offered by the witch doctor. Yet there will be no wide-scale national service, and should it be established after all because of weak politicians, it would be corrupt and terribly expensive.”

He’s not entirely wrong. Some Haredim I’ve spoken to are pained over the slowness of the process of mainstreaming their sector’s contribution to Israel’s society at large, particularly through compulsory service of some kind. Many Haredim have told me point blank they’d do anything to avoid service.

London analyzes astutely why any attempt which is in motion these days is doomed to failure. He floats quickly through his reasoning, assuming his readership already knows all of it and agrees with him to begin with. He must be right.

And so, London proposes: “As Haredi education rejects a life of work and participation in defending the homeland, and as we cannot imprison tens of thousands of yeshiva students (and those pretending to be such), and as national service would hold justice in contempt, and as purely Haredi regiments are a recipe for an armed civil war, and as the Haredi community mushrooms as a result of natural growth – the national majority has no choice but to embark on a determined cultural war.”

Spelling stuff out, on occasion means it has been brewing beneath the surface for quite some time. I get the feeling London had been sitting on this view for years, moving, like many secular Israelis, from bemused dislike of things Ultra Orthodox to outright loathing of anyone wearing a black hat and a beard.

“Time is of the essence,” this wager of a cultural civil war is urging. “Should the majority lose this war, the Zionist enterprise would be remembered as a short-lived historical episode.”

You see? When Jewish settlers in the land of Zion are uprooted onto trucks, lock stock and barrel, when Jewish dwellers are attacked by government goons who illegally rip off their name tags before grabbing helpless women and children off the land they call Zion – that is done in support of the Zionist enterprise. When an army of Arab thugs are imported from North Africa armed and uniformed and given dominion over whole regions of Zion – that, too, is done to promote the Zionist enterprise.

When the Arab Waqf is handed the keys to Temple Mount, five minutes after a Zionist army had conquered the place, spilling its blood to bring us home, at last, to our holiest sanctuary – that was one heck of a trick in service of Zionist enterprise.

But when tens of thousands of Ultra Orthodox men are not responding fast enough to a social experiment which is already bearing fruit; when several thousand such men are already doing their national duty with pride and distinction – but a majority of their brethren are still reluctant to take the same leap of faith – they must be annihilated, figuratively or symbolically, in a cultural war.

And so, London, at last, articulates his agenda: “There is no choice but to let the draft-dodging Haredim be, but we should aim to reduce the number of their grandchildren. This is not an impossible mission. It is not an abusive mission either. This is a mission of salvation.”

I’m tempted here to break my long-time rule that whoever mentions Hitler in an Internet debate first loses. Holding myself back, I still have to say clearly that the method anyone chooses for limiting the number of Jewish grandchildren doesn’t matter. I don’t believe London is suggesting concentration camps for the Ultra Orthodox, God forbid. But he is recommending starvation – cutting off funds, state stipends, housing allowances, and food.

I am appalled. And I demand my thousand dollars back.

Eco-Activists Defend the Environment In Judea & Samaria

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Pollution is everywhere, generated by everyone, and affecting everyone’s life. Eco-activists all over the world, together with government agencies, work to combat it by monitoring polluters, promoting legislation, and providing creative solutions to complex situations.

One would hope to find the same activity in Israel, but unfortunately, this is not the case. The majority of eco-activists in Israel choose not to operate over the Green Line, neglecting to address the eco-needs of the people there. Some of the challenges in Judea and Samaria are unique to the vicinity, while other hazards are common everywhere. However, the lack of suitable legislation and enforcement have resulted in irreversible damage to the land, affecting everyone’s life.

These are just some examples of environmental disasters in Judea and Samaria:

The Palestinians have established unauthorized, makeshift dump sites, one of them at Silwad, near Beit El. Trash was dumped in the open here and not properly treated, contaminating the earth, destroying the landscape, and damaging ancient olive groves. The refuse seeped into the earth, contaminating the ground water under it. Some trash was burnt, generating air pollution.

Improvised charcoal production plants, found primarily in the Jenin area, have been a hazard for decades, but more recently, their heavy air pollution has turned the lives of citizens in the vicinity into a nightmare. “People who live 400 meters away from these plants look out the window, see a black cloud moving towards them and have nowhere to hide or go,” commented one of the residents. Tests conducted by experts show that there is an abnormal concentration of delicate breathable particles 37% of the time. An assessment submitted to the IDF and to the Ministry of Environmental protection stated that: “Exposure to these particles can hinder lung function and is especially dangerous to those who suffer from respiratory complications, which may lead to subsequent hospitalization and even death.” Residents around these charcoal plants suffer tremendously. The air pollution affects everyone, and life expectancy among local Palestinian residents is just 40 years, but the issue is considered sensitive because the plants provide a livelihood to Palestinian families.

Pirate stone quarries, which can be found all over Judea and Samaria, are randomly situated with no prior planning and with complete disregard for the landscape or the environment. The dust generated by stone-grinding is a source of air pollution, while ground water can be contaminated by metal particles from machinery used to cut into hillsides. Specific metal machinery should be used, but there is no supervising entity to enforce the necessary protocols. These quarries are causing irreversible damage to the land.

Yarok Achshav, Green Now, is the only non-governmental organization dedicated exclusively to the issue of environmental hazards everywhere in Israel. The group was established in 2008 to provide a response to ecological and environmental problems, and to preserve the nature, landscape, and heritage of the Land of Israel.

Green Now provides legal advice and services in the face of environmental hazards, and promotes pertinent legislation. They are the only organization that runs a public petition hotline, enabling anyone who encounters an eco-hazard to turn to them and receive the required support. They also organize environmentally-related educational and cultural activities and create and promote ecological projects in the community.

Green Now believes that pollution and contamination have no boundaries, and that environmental activists should be everywhere. “Green Now has chosen to address issues that no one else will touch upon,” says Acting Director, Ofer Inbar. “Therefore, the majority of our activities are focused in Judea and Samaria. We address issues that affect all populations, including the Palestinians, and have attempted to cooperate with them in various ventures, such as educational programs and eco-projects. We offered assistance in planning the infrastructure of Rawabi, the new Palestinian city under construction, to ensure that construction meets the proper standards. In every case, we found an utter unwillingness to cooperate. The Palestinians have made an all-encompassing decision not to cooperate with Israelis.”

Green Now has exerted legal and political pressure on the various governmental agencies responsible for addressing these eco-hazards, and their activity has generated results. The makeshift dump site at Silwad was closed by the authorities, the trash was buried, and the site was covered with earth. Today, greenery has returned.

The site of a former illegal quarry in Judea and Samaria

The 400 improvised charcoal production plants are a more complex matter. In June 2011, eleven of them were shut down, but they have since resumed their activity. Green Now will continue to pursue the case through legal venues. Unfortunately, the quarries still present a grave hazard, and are not properly monitored or controlled.

There is still much to be done over the Green Line, both in terms of eco-activity and many other issues, none of which are properly addressed because of an imaginary border.

Seeing Israel Anywhere, Every Day

Friday, February 17th, 2012

I haven’t been to Israel in six years. That might not sound like a lot of time to some people, but might sound like an eternity to others. But with my 30th birthday around the corner, it means that the last 20 percent of my life has been Israel-free. In fact, I’ve spent significantly more time in Australia and Yellowstone National Park.

A few months ago, I became aware of a new app called “Israel365,” which delivers magnificent daily photos of Eretz Yisrael and Bible lessons pertaining to the photo of the day. However, I ignored it as I felt it would leave me yearning for a trip to the Holy Land that didn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. My grandmother says, “You never know,” and as it turns out I will be going to Israel this summer with Camp Lavi. So do I install the Israel365 app? Absolutely!

According to United with Israel’s Rabbi Tuly Weisz, who developed the application, “Israel365 promotes the colorful beauty and significance of Israel instead of the conflict-ridden black and white landscape the traditional media emphasizes.” He added that, “Using innovative technology, the Israel365 app brings the diverse vibrancy of Israel to life in a modern and meaningful manner.” For the most part this certainly proves true. Personally, I was not the biggest fan of a weeks worth of agricultural shots. But I get it, it was Tu B’Shevat, so it makes sense. I have enjoyed the nature shots of an ibex, a great close-up of a bee sucking nectar from a flower, an Ein Gedi waterfall, and one shot even has me restructuring my teen tour so we might be able to see the Banias Springs in the Golan.

Unlike previous apps I’ve written about, there is one simple reason why everyone with an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch should download this app: It’s free! Maybe it’s because I’m getting excited to get back to Israel, but I’ve found that this app can be a real pick-me-up. It’s somewhat exciting to see what image each day will bring, and I definitely enjoy the anecdote or history lesson that goes along with the image. A few of the Torah verses associated with the pictures might seem like a stretch, but the vast majority do a fine job of connecting the photo with Tanach.

One flaw I found with the app is that we are left guessing where a few of the photos were taken. February 5 featured a stunning shot of rays of sunlight penetrating a heavily clouded sky over a hilltop and body of water that might be the Kinneret. But I’m not completely sure, as there was no “About This Photo” section that the majority of the other images have. The app also doesn’t flip vertically, but you get used to using it horizontally. (The photos actually look better like that.)

Israel365 has a few other features of note. The Torah verses are both translated into English and transliterated. One can save the pictures onto his or her phone (a feature I particularly appreciate) or post them directly onto Facebook within the app. If one is especially enamored with an image, there is a link to order prints directly from SmugMug (prices vary based on size).

I enjoy apps that offer something new every day. It gives me something to look forward to. This app has gotten me excited to not only see its daily images, but to also experience them this summer.

The app is made available by United with Israel, and those without an i-device can still see the images and Torah/history lessons by visiting www.unitedwithisrael.org.

Jewish Democrats Malign Newt Gingrich

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

“South Carolina Winner Newt Gingrich: A Closer Look” was the headline on the NJDC (National Jewish Democratic Council) website last week. The article declared that the Republicans has “yet another candidate whose positions and behavior stand in direct opposition to the values of the vast majority of American Jews.”

But in reading the NJDC complaints against Gingrich, it is clear that the “values of the vast majority of American Jews” have little to do with Judaism, proving the remark that the Reform movement is “the left-wing of the Democratic Party – with holidays.”

Among their complaints: Gingrich is anti-abortion, which is actually far closer to the traditional Jewish position. For people who really practice Judaism (follow the Halacha in their daily lives), abortion is forbidden except in specific cases where the mother’s life is in danger. But for the NJDC “anti-choice” is a “Jewish value.” The conclusion – in the NJDC’s view, ultra-liberalism is the real religion of “the vast majority of American Jews.”

But as long as liberalism is equated with Jewish values, it is reasonable, if not accurate, to view Mr. Gingrich’s position on the building of a mosque at Ground Zero, on Obamacare, on rejecting a blind acceptance of “global warming” theory, on the hyper-activist Supreme Court overstepping the bounds of its Constitutional purview, and even on gay marriage, as being opposed to the values of the “vast majority of American Jews.”

In fact the only point one can say that actually relates to “Jewish values” is the Israel-related issue. Mr. Gingrich, the NJDC claims, “appears to have adopted far-right policies towards Israel that place him at odds with the democratically-elected government of Israel.” And how? He “urged Congress to condemn the President for articulating the vision of a two state solution based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed upon land swaps as a starting point for negotiations—a formula that has been the basis of talks for decades, through both Republican and Democratic administrations.” The truth is a bit different.

Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected President Obama’s call for Israel to pull back to the pre-1967 lines, or 1949 armistice lines. He called those lines militarily “indefensible”, which is polite in comparison to Abba Eban description as “the Auschwitz borders.”

In fact, President Obama surprised both Washington and Jerusalem by endorsing the Palestinian position demanding the borders of a Palestinian State be based on the pre-1967 lines. Obama broke with longstanding US policy, including the official 2004 letter from President Bush to Prime Minister Sharon. The Israeli position is, as was the US position until Obama arrived, that the borders of any future Palestinian state would be determined through negotiations.

The NJDC also decided that Gingrich’s description of the Palestinians as an “invented people” “delegitimized the Palestinians” and is a position “that is against US and Israeli policies. Since Gingrich has never opposed the two-state solution pushed by Obama and accepted by Netanyahu, his historically accurate remarks only suggest that in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel has a better case, and the US should not be pushing the Palestinian position. But for some unfathomable reason, the NJDC believes this conception is detrimental for the Jews .

The NJDC’s perception of Gingrich’s positions as not those of the “vast majority of American Jews” is logical if one accepts that many American Jews seem to worship liberalism. Judaism to these Jews is not a lifestyle priorities. According to the National Jewish Population Survey, only 27% of American Jews attend synagogue even once a month and only 59% fast on Yom Kippur. So traditional Jewish values, or even Israel, do not influence their political choices.

But the polls in recent months belie the “vast majority” the NJDC wants to claim are still loyal to Mr. Obama in light of his three year record on Israel. The Fall polls of both Gallup and the AJC indicate that while Mr. Obama can expect a majority of Jewish voters, it will be far below the 78% of 2008.

According to the NJDC Mr. Obama can do no wrong, but as the old saying goes, the definition of a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged. So too, more and more American Jews feel “mugged” by Obama’s Mideast policies, and it will show in their voting and financial support, to the chagrin of the NJDC.

Israeli High Court of Justice Rejects Petitions Against ‘Citizenship Law’

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

By a vote of 6-5 late Wednesday night, the High Court rejected petitions against the 2003 law limiting the reunification of Palestinian and Arab-Israeli couples.

Judge Asher Grunis, poised to become the next President of the Israeli Supreme Court, led the majority, writing that “Human rights are not a prescription for national suicide.”

The 2003 law states that the interior minister may grant citizenship ” if he is convinced that the applicant  identifies with the State of Israel and its goals, and that he or his family performed a significant act to promote the security, economy or some other important matter of the State.”

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and four other dissenting justices described the freedom to marry as being at the core of democratic principles.

“The blow, as presented, to family life must be viewed against the certain harm, given past experience, to the lives and bodies of Israelis,” Grunis wrote, in anticipation of their argument.

 

 

Jerusalem Court Releases Jewish Activists Charged with Surveilling IDF to House Arrest

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

The Jerusalem District Court ordered five Jewish activists to house arrest, two days after being indicted for tracking the IDF in Judea and Samaria in an attempt to foil the evacuation and demolition of outposts.

Attorneys from Hanenu, an NGO that provides legal representation to the activists, said that the individuals were involved in a legitimate protest and that no justification existed to incarcerate them. The presiding judge agreed, writing that “the defendants’ actions do not present a high level of danger . . . The indictment shows that the majority of their activities, beyond intelligence collection, centered around non-violent protests in areas patrolled by the military, including singing songs, dancing, and telling soldiers the actions they must take.”

The Jerusalem District Prosecutor’s Office plans to appeal the decision before the Supreme Court.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jerusalem-court-releases-jewish-activists-charged-with-surveilling-idf-to-house-arrest/2012/01/11/

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