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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘message’

Rabbi Kanievsky: Burn Your iPhones

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, who of Israel’s pre-eminent haredi rabbis, issued a public notice on Sunday urging owners of iPhones to burn their devices, comparing the popular cell phones to weapons of war.

The ban on iPhone products was published on the front page of the popular haredi paper Yated Ne’eman.  The edict stated that not only is it forbidden for Jews to possess an iPhone, but that it is also not permitted to sell the phone to non-Jews, citing a Jewish law forbidding the sale of weapons to non-Jews.  The only solution – burning the device.

Rabbi Kanievsky’s ruling came after he was approached by businessman asking his opinion about the phones.  The Eda Haredit has also condemned iPhones and all other smart phones.

Smartphone devices have been condemned by many hareidi rabbis due to the ease of using the internet privately, taking part insocial media, and accessing pornography sites.

Members of the hareidi public have been encouraged by their leaders to use “kosher cell phones” which have no internet or text message capability.

House Members: Holder and Clinton Considering Release of ‘Blind Sheikh’

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

In a strongly worded letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, eight members of congress have demanded that a request to release Omar Abdel-Rahman from federal prison be rejected.  Abdel-Rahman, known as the “blind sheikh,” inspired the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and is serving a life sentence for his role in a plot to conduct assassinations and destroy bridges, tunnels and other landmarks in New York City.

It is believed that the unrest blanketing much of the Middle East last week was inspired at least in part by the demands that the Blind Sheikh be released, and that any consideration of such a request was inspired by an effort to quell the widespread anti-American fury.

The letter sent by Representative Pete King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and seven other key members of congressional leadership warned of the consequences of appeasing terrorism through such a blatant act of submission:

Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength….The release of Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is – a sign of weakness and a lack of resolve by the United States and its President.

In addition to Rep. King, the letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith; House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers; House Committee on Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon; House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers; House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Chairman Frank Wolf; and House Appropriations Subcommittee on State of Foreign Operations Chairwoman Kay Granger.

The administration has not yet formally responded to the letter, according to Rep. King’s communications officer.

The full text of the congressional letter follows.

September 19, 2012

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Attorney General Holder and Secretary Clinton,

We are concerned about recent reports that the Obama administration is considering the release of Omar Abdel-Rahman, better known as the “blind sheikh,” to the custody of Egypt for humanitarian and health reasons.  If these reports are true, such considerations would be extremely disconcerting as release of this convicted terrorist should not happen for any reason.

The blind sheikh inspired the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, ordered the 1997 massacre of Western tourists at Luxor, Egypt, and issued the Islamic religious ruling that Osama bin Laden relied upon to justify the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.  He is serving a life sentence at a federal penitentiary, for seditious conspiracy to wage war upon the United States, based on his role in a 1993 plot to conduct assassinations and destroy bridges, tunnels and other landmarks in New York City.  The blind sheikh was the first person convicted under this statute since the Civil War. Nonetheless, the newly-elected government in Egypt has indicated that his release is amongst its top foreign policy priorities.

While considerations regarding the blind sheikh’s release would be disturbing in any context, they are particularly alarming given recent events.  The 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks was marked by the assassination of America’s ambassador to Libya and an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. The violence in Egypt has been attributed, in part, to that government’s demands for the blind sheikh’s release.

Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength.  The blind sheikh should remain in federal prison.

The release of Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is — a sign of weakness and lack of resolve by the United States and its President.

We request a briefing this week by representatives from each of your Departments on the accuracy of recent reports and the status of any negotiations with Egypt.  We look forward to your immediate response.

Netanyahu Rosh Hashanah Message Highlights Gov’t Achievements

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a Rosh Hashanah youtube message yesterday highlighting his government’s achievements throughout the year, displaying one government achievement per month.

Examples given in the video include the return of Gilad Shalit, increasing funding for education allowing children to attend school from age three, and allowing other companies to use cell phone infrastructure, adding several new cell phone companies to the market with significantly lower prices.

The video, below, is in Hebrew.

Our Egyptian Ally: More Confusion from Obama

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Soon after the attacks on American embassies in Egypt and Libya, Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan criticized President Obama for lacking a clear and forceful message to the world.

And while Romney was criticized for bringing up the President’s shortcomings, the latest example of how that criticism was right on the money comes from the mixed messages being sent by Victoria Nuland of the State Department (who always seems to be tasked with explaining the explainable, such as how the U.S. position on status of Jerusalem “has not changed”) and Obama himself.

Yesterday President Obama told the Spanish-language Telemundo television channel that Egypt was neither an ally nor a foe of the United States, and that the determination would be based on the Egypt’s response to the attack on the embassy and on its willingness to maintain the peace treaty with Israel. (Video here).

Later in the day, Nuland said the opposite, confirming repeatedly that Egypt was indeed an American ally – a “major non-NATO ally” (though she wouldn’t comment on what the President said). Check out the video below.

A White House spokesperson also confirmed that Obama was not signalling a change in Egypt’s status. This is yet another example of how Obama can have his cake and eat it to by acting tough on Egypt in public, but not actually doing anything to back it up. (Precisely his strategy for Iran, saying the U.S. will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran, but refusing to delineate any red lines for Iran’s nuclear program).

Ally or not, as Barry Rubin noted, the U.S. has offered to forgive $1 billion in Egyptian debt (the debt is over $3 billion total) as part of a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan which the administration lobbied for, Obama helped them acquire two German submarines over Israel’s objections, while their Islamist President received an invitation to the White House, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed that Morsi was “his own man,” i.e., someone the U.S. could do business with.

Ki Savo: Emulating The Creator

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Many passages in the Torah appear at first glance to be repetitious. Often, each iteration has a unique and deep message. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, finds such a case (in the passage of the Blessings and Curses) in the Torah’s instruction to keep Hashem’s commandments and walk in His ways.

Also in the passage of the Blessings and Curses, Rabbi Miller highlights the great blessing of a long life.

“And all these blessings shall come upon you, and they shall overtake you” (28:2). One of the greatest puzzles of the Torah is the lack of more open mention of the reward of the Afterlife. Rambam (Teshuvah 9:1) declares that the rewards foretold in the Torah for obeying the commandments are solely in this life, but the true reward is reserved for the Afterlife. But the reward of a long, peaceful life is bestowed for the purpose of being enabled to achieve more perfection by performing the commandments (“A mitzvah brings on a mitzvah” – Avos 4:2) and thereby becoming eligible for even greater happiness in the Afterlife.

The opportunity to achieve perfection is available solely in this physical existence; and though the happiness of the Afterlife is the end-purpose of Creation, that happiness is in proportion to the perfection achieved in this physical existence. Thus, a long life of peaceful and prosperous conditions is the supreme blessing, because in illness or poverty or with the tribulations of wartime, men cannot accomplish so readily the great achievements for which they would merit the higher status of the most virtuous in the life of eternal existence.

“If you will keep the commandments of Hashem your G-d, and you will walk in His ways” (28:9). This is not a rhetorical repetition, but two separate statements: keep His commandments and, in addition to keeping the commandments, study the ways of Hashem as demonstrated in the Torah or in the events of history or of the phenomena of Creation and emulate these ways by our own behavior.

One example of these ways is taught in the Torah when Moshe said, “Let me know Your ways” (Shemos 33:13) – at which time Hashem revealed His thirteen ways (ibid. 34:6-7). Also: “Behold, to Hashem your G-d belong the heavens and the heavens above the heavens.… Only in your Fathers did Hashem delight, to love them” (Devarim 10:14-15), which demonstrates that the ways of the fathers were pleasing in the eyes of Hashem. Thus we are obliged to love the ways of Abraham and Yitzchak and Yaakov, as described in the Torah, and we must walk in those ways.

We read, “He does justice for the orphan and the widow, and He loves a ger” (ibid. 10:18) and many similar instances of His ways. “Who is a G-d like You, that pardons iniquity and passes over the transgressions of the remnants of His heritage. He does not retain his anger forever, for He desires kindliness. He will again have compassion upon us, He will conceal our iniquities, and He will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. You will give faithfulness to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, as You swore to our fathers from the days of old” (Michah 7:18-20).

From these verses the Tomer Devorah has drawn up a list of character traits and attitudes, which we are obliged to learn and to emulate in accordance with this mitzvah of “You should walk in His ways.” These are not optional forms of piety or exceptional excellence; everyone is required to fulfill them because of the mitzvah “to walk in His ways.”

In addition to these examples of Hashem’s ways, we are required also to learn His ways that are demonstrated by the wonders of Hashem’s creation. The rain comes to supply water to drink and to cause the earth to produce food. The fruit trees produce attractive and luscious delicacies. The winds convey the rain clouds over the continents. Clothing is supplied by sheep’s’ wool and flax and cotton plants. Hundreds of remedies are derived from plants. The body heals itself in countless wondrous ways, most of us are born without any one of the thousands of birth defects that could have occurred.

Wherever we look, we see the kindliness of the Creator, which He showers upon man. Thus the attitude and the practice of kindness are “ways” of Hashem, which we must study and emulate. “Their G-d hates immorality” (Sanhedrin 93a); therefore we must hate immorality. “Hashem loves the righteous” (Tehillim 146:8) and Hashem loves Israel (10:15); we must emulate Him.

Why didn’t they leave the platform alone?

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Earlier today I discussed the surprising degree to which the 2012 Democratic platform differed from the 2008 and 2004 platforms in respect to Israel. The changes represent a significant tilt toward Palestinian positions on Arab refugees,Jerusalem and Hamas. It also leaves out prior language about helpingIsrael maintain a “qualitative military edge” over its adversaries.

The interesting question is “why did they change it?” A platform is not a binding document; it is intended as a general statement of a party or candidate’s positions. Its planks are generally written to appeal the broadest possible constituencies. Most voters never read platforms or care about them.

If they had not changed the 2008 text nobody would have noticed. And at a time when Republican opponents are doing their best to argue that Obama is an anti-Israel president, one would expect Democrats to avoid giving them ammunition.

Unless they think that being anti-Israel is a plus. This would also fit in with recent public statements and actions regarding Iran, which they present as a problem forIsrael but not particularly the US.

But polls consistently show that the majority of Americans supportIsrael. So how can this make sense? To answer this, we need to look at who these pro-Israel Americans are; and by in large, they are not likely Obama voters. Most are white Evangelical Protestants, who are solidly Republican already. Some — a comparatively tiny number — are Jews for whomIsraelis a major issue that influences their vote. Many of these have already abandoned Obama. The majority of Jews, however, lean Democratic on the basis of domestic issues and will not be affected.

If this tilt againstIsraeldoesn’t hurt Obama too much, where does it help him? There are two groups that will take notice and approve of the change. One is his left-wing base. These are mostly students and others who have a “postcolonial” anti-Zionist (and anti-Western) point of view. It is critical for the Democrats to enlist these activists in the final get-out-the-vote effort.

It seems that just as Romney barely budged toward the center after receiving the nomination, so too Obama prefers to activate his troops rather than to reach out for undecided votes.

The second group of voters is the Ron Paul crowd. They have not as yet displayed much affection for either Obama or Romney, but they will find the suggestion of less military aid toIsraelappealing. They are also happy to see Obama avoiding ‘complicity’ in a possible Israeli attack on Iran.These two groups, along with American Muslims, constitute an anti-Zionist bloc. This move locks it in for Obama.

There is another possibility that cannot be discounted. That is that the change is intended to send a message to the leadership of the Muslim nations that Obama has been courting since his 2009 speech in Cairo — Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. — a message that he is taking concrete steps to weaken the “unbreakable bond” between the US and Israel. Perhaps he is finally working to fulfill his promise to pro-Palestinian activist Ali Abunimah that he would be “more up front” in helping the Palestinians in the future.

Visit Vic Rosenthal’s blog, Fresno Zionism.

The Method to Iran’s Madness

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Why does Iran issue ugly threats against Israel on an almost daily basis, saying that Israel will be annihilated, that it is a cancerous tumor that must be cut out, and so forth? After all, if they want to avoid an Israeli attack, shouldn’t they be a little less open about their intentions?

Maybe this news item will help us understand:

[Der Spiegel's] investigative report said that a few months after the Munich Massacre, then Foreign Minister Walter Scheel held a secret meeting with representatives of the terrorist organization in order to create what was termed a “new basis of trust.”

The German government, according to classified documents obtained by Der Spiegel, did not demand that the terrorists completely stop terrorist activities, but only asked that they avoid attacking in Germany. In return, said the report, the terrorists sought to upgrade the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) political status.

German authorities also avoided prosecuting those involved in the terror attack on the Israeli athletes, the report said. Three of the terrorists who were captured alive were released after two months, after terrorists from “Black September” hijacked a Lufthansa plane.

It is typical for terrorists to try to split the nations opposed to them by promising immunity against further atrocities to one or another country. The Iranian regime employs terrorism as a major part of its foreign policy, so why shouldn’t it take the same approach to diplomacy as Black September?

By effectively making their nuclear program appear to be primarily a threat against Israel, Iran sends a message to the Europeans and the US that they are safe. We are just going to kill some Jews, they suggest, and you don’t want to go to war over Jews, do you?

I’m sure the message is being transmitted explicitly in private as well, along with threats that if the US and Europe do not go along, then bad things could happen to them as well. And there are a lot of bad things that Iran can do cheaply.

The Iranians know that they can’t persuade Israel that a nuclear weapon in their hands is not an existential threat. But they may be able to persuade the US and Europe that the real problem is not an Iranian bomb, but the Israeli reaction to it. And that is what they are trying to do.

Their objectives are (a) to prevent a US attack and (b) to get the US to prevent a Israeli one, until their program is complete.

This is exactly why the Israeli doctrine that its defense must not be placed in the hands of any other nation or organization is so important, and must not be abandoned under any circumstances.

Originally published at FresnoZionism.org.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-method-to-irans-madness/2012/08/27/

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