At the Yesha Council Emergency Meeting dealing with the new campaign to pressure the government to authorize the Levy Report and/or make it a condition for a future coalition agreement with the parties that will
form Netanyahu’s next government:
The Campaign’s slogan: “Netanyahu’s Government: Authorize the Levy Report.” Photo by: Yisrael Medad.
Let’s be clear, Barack Obama is anti-Israel president and a pro-Palestinian president. As I have written in detail, he came into office with the goal of pressuring Israel and raising the banner of the Palestinian cause.
Mitt Romney seems to have a genuinely friendly view towards Israel, which he has demonstrated in various public statements and his recent visit to Israel. And, quite frankly, pretty much anyone would be friendlier to Israel than Obama. Yet, in his foreign policy address yesterday, Romney adopted the position which is at the heart of U.S. pressure on Israel: supporting Palestinian statehood.
Finally, I will recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel. On this vital issue, the President has failed, and what should be a negotiation process has devolved into a series of heated disputes at the United Nations. In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new President will bring the chance to begin anew.
A Palestinian state can and will never live side by side in peace and security with the Jewish State of Israel. As a number of Palestinian opinion polls have shown, Palestinians are determined to destroy Israel even after they have a state. Palestinian organizations – even “moderate” ones like Fatah – and leaders – like the “moderate” Mahmaoud Abbas – have declared that they don’t and won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish State. They repeatedly declare that all of the land from the river to the sea belongs to them. They teach this to their children. They use violence against civilians as a political tool and devalue the worth of Jewish life. They teach this to their children too.
Nor will it be democratic as President George W. Bush called for with his Road Map for Peace. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is serving his seventh year of his five year turn. Hamas democratically won Palestinian parliamentary elections and then proceeded to militarily take over Gaza and executed their opponents.
Talking about this “peaceful” and “democratic” or even “demilitarized” Palestinian state continues the delusion and results in more pressure in Israel to make gestures (which in turn results in dead Israelis) as Israel is the only party to the process willing to listen.
Of course, Romney is not to blame. Successive Israeli administrations have endorsed this position, despite the fact that it causes so much misery to Israel. So Romney should not be expected to be more Catholic than the Pope when it comes to Israel’s claims and interests.
True, pressure from the State Department has a lot to do with Israel’s position and the president is ultimately responsible for the State Department’s actions. Nevertheless it is up to Israel to stand up for its interests and make its own case to counter other voices which the president is exposed to whether it be the State Department or Arab leaders and diplomats.
In an interview on “60 Minutes” this past Sunday, President Obama was asked about his very public spat with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu over the latter’s call for the U.S. to set “red lines” for Iran’s nuclear advance which, if crossed, would trigger an American military response coordinated with Israel and perhaps others.
As we noted last week, the president has for many months cautioned the prime minister not to take unilateral action against Iran but to wait for economic sanctions to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear plans. Mr. Obama insists that Israel can rely on a U.S. commitment to act should sanctions fail to deter the Iranians.
To the question “How much pressure have you been getting from Prime Minister Netanyahu to make up your mind to use military force in Iran?” President Obama responded,
Well – look, I have conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu all the time. And I understand and share Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence that Iran should not obtain a nuclear weapon, because it would threaten us, it would threaten Israel, and it would threaten the world and kick off a nuclear arms race.
The interviewer, Steve Kroft, followed up with, “You’re saying you don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? You don’t feel any pressure?”
To which the president responded,
When it comes to our national security decisions – any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that’s out there. Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we’re in close consultation with the Israelis on these issues. Because it affects them deeply. They’re one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence.
So for Mr. Obama, however he packages it, Israel’s assessments and importuning are just so much “noise” to be tuned out. To be sure, he says he is sensitive to Israel’s special challenges, but given his admonitions to Israel against unilateral military action until – if ever – he gives them the go-head, it is he who will decide how they will be met and in effect, determine Israel’s future.
But what exactly can he point to that suggests sanctions have moved the Iranians even in the slightest – or that they ever will? Certainly the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, never misses an opportunity to boast that Iran will never bow to sanctions. Moreover, barely a day goes by without some senior Iranian official, in addition to repeating the mantra of the impending destruction of Israel, warning the U.S. and Israel of devastating retaliation at the hands of Iranian missiles should Iran be attacked. And this is before they have nuclear weapons.
President Obama seems to be closing his eyes to stark reality. He acknowledges Iran threatens Israel’s destruction. He also says a non-nuclear Iran is vital for American security interests around the world. And it is clear his plan for sanctions has not worked and indeed cannot work. Yet not only does he continue to delay taking forceful action, he stands in the way of Israel’s acting on its own judgments in its own self-defense.
We do not mean to imply that taking military action is an easy decision. But it is the right one when delaying the inevitable will immeasurably add to the cost. At the very least Mr. Obama should get out of Israel’s way.
President Obama was asked on 60 Minutes Sunday: “You‘re saying you don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign, to try to get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand…?”
The president responded: “When it comes to our national security decisions—any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that’s out there. Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we’re in close consultation with the Israelis—on these issues because it affects them deeply. They’re one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence.”
Obama sounded belligerent later on, when he commented on Mitt Romney’s charge that his foreign policy is “a policy of paralysis,” blurting: “If Gov. Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so.”
Romney’s Press Secretary Andrea Saul commented:
“Tonight on 60 Minutes, President Obama called Israel’s legitimate concern about the impact of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons ‘noise’ and referred to Israel as merely ‘one of our closest allies in the region.’ This is just the latest evidence of his chronic disregard for the security of our closest ally in the Middle East… As president, Governor Romney will restore and protect the close alliance between our nation and the state of Israel.”
Romney worked hard to make “more elegant” his secretly taped remarks to an audience of wealthy donors in May, that 47 percent of the American people paid no income taxes, were dependent on government and would never vote for him.
He also distanced himself from his running mate’s reputation regarding the future of Social Security and Medicare.
Congressman Paul Ryan wanted to reduce payments to the Medicare program by about $700 billion.
“Yeah, he was going to use that money to reduce the budget deficit,” Romney said of Ryan’s proposal. “I’m putting it back into Medicare, and I’m the guy running for president, not him.”
Romney discussed his plan to reduce income tax rates by 20%, adding that the plan would also limit deductions and exemptions. Responding to criticism that his tax reductions would favor the rich, Romney said in his tax plan “there should be no tax reduction for high income people.”
He said he wants to give middle class families a tax reduction by cutting taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains. But he wouldn’t name the specific tax deductions and exemptions he would cut.
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For the past 15 years Abdullah Faarruq was the Muslim chaplain at Northeastern University in Boston. This week, Faarruq was revealed to be an Islamic extremist who encouraged acts of violence and who has publicly supported multiple convicted terrorists. But all traces of Faarruq suddenly disappeared from the Northeastern University website just days after his ties were announced in an article, and just before a shocking and carefully sourced video was released.
Dr. Charles Jacobs, a Boston-area human rights activist and president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, created the video revealing Faarruq as a supporter of convicted Islamic terrorists, such as Aafia Siddiqui, a close associate of the Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
In 2004, FBI Director Robert Mueller described Aafia Siddiqui as one of the seven most wanted Al Qaeda terrorists. Siddiqui, who used to attend Farruuq’s mosque, was also assisted by him in distributing jihadist literature.
In 2008, Siddiqui was arrested in Afghanistan and charged with attempting to use an assault rifle on FBI agents. In her possession were plans for a chemical attack on New York City and a large amount of cyanide. In 2010, she was convicted and sentenced to 86 years in jail.
In lectures around Boston, Faaruuq had called on Boston Muslims to defend Siddiqui because “after they’re finished with Aafia, they’re gonna come to your door.” He told worshippers to not be afraid to “grab onto the gun and the sword, go out into this world and do your job.”
Faarruq has publicly supported other known terrorists, such as Tarek Mehanna. Mehanna who was arrested and convicted in April 2012 on terror charges, including plans to murder American soldiers and politicians, and another plan to attack a mall in Massachusetts, patterned on the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. Mehanna had taught evening classes on Islam at Northeastern.
Faarruq is shown with Northeastern students in APT’s video at a rally outside the courthouse where Mehanna was denied bail, in February, 2011. Mehanna was indicted with another man with Northeastern University connections, Ahmad Abusamra. The two considered themselves to be the “media wing” of al Qaeda in Iraq.
On April 3, 2011, the student members of the Islamic Society of Northeastern University, whose spiritual advisor was Faarruq, held a seminar and concert in support of Tarek Mehanna.
Jacobs told The Jewish Press that, although he was “pleased that Northeastern University removed Faarruq from a position of influence over university students,” much more needed to be done.
“It’s very hard to understand why Northeastern administration has for so long tolerated the troubling and extremist influence of Chaplain Faaruuk on Northeastern’s Muslim student organization,” Jacobs said. “Until we began exposing Faaruuq in 2010, the ISNU website openly promoted to Northeastern Muslim students radical books and extremist leaders who call for jihad, the genocide of Jews, and death for homosexuals.
“We are concerned,” Jacobs said, that extremist influence on Muslim students at Northeastern might be a factor in inciting terrorism. Recently another Northeastern graduate, Rezwan Ferdaus, pleaded guilty to plotting an attack on the Pentagon and Capitol buildings in Washington.”
But more importantly, Jacobs made the point that if a person with so many public connections to terrorism has been permitted to mentor students at a place like Northeastern University – “we’re not talking about Irvine, for goodness sake,” then it is clear that “the same kind of thing can happen anywhere.”
Jacobs believes that what happened with Faarruq provides an extremely instructive lesson for everyone who cares about the condition of our universities.
“For one thing,” Jacobs explained, Northeastern had to be aware of Faarruq’s activities, or they are not running a tight ship. “So if they knew, how come no one took any action to put a stop to it?”
It was only the public exposure created by Jacobs’ article and the announced release of a meticulously detailed video that caused action to be taken.
“Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun is a good person. We do not believe he is someone who supported what Faarruq was saying and doing,” explained Jacobs. “But he had to know that if he took action on his own, the blowback would have been enormous, given the heavy influence of political correctness on campuses, and the willingness of Muslims to stand up for their own.
“If people want university officials to take the right action, there has to be pressure,” he continued, “otherwise, unless an administrator is a saint, they will avoid the pain of taking a negative step like removing even someone who is doing things that are clearly wrong.”
Expanding on this theme, Jacobs instructed that “Jews like to believe that it is reason, rather than pressure, that guides action in the world.” However, “that’s just wrong, and, my goodness, we should have learned that long ago.”
When asked whether he thinks, as a general matter, Jews are reluctant to openly pressure decision makers to take action in support of their positions, Jacobs responded affirmatively, and went further: “Jewish communal leadership is weak, they are conflict-averse.” Adding, mostly seriously, he said, “Jews would rather schmooze than fight.”
In response to a request for an interview with Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun regarding the removal of Chaplain Faarruq, the school’s communications director sent the following statement to The Jewish Press:
Northeastern recently reorganized its office of spiritual life to better serve our students and more closely align with our educational mission. The newly created Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service is under the leadership of a new executive director, and we are currently expanding the number and diversity of our spiritual advisers. Some of our previous spiritual advisors, including Abdullah Faaruuq, are no longer affiliated with the university.
The university refused to respond to any other questions surrounding this matter.
When it comes to modesty in dress there is a wide variety in the way various segments of Orthodox Jewry put it into practice. But the basics are the same for all. Without getting into the details of the basic Halacha, I will just say that modesty for women requires that she cover those parts of the body that are considered “her nakedness” (Erva). Those are the biblical parameters which apply in all places – at all times in public. The rabbinic parameters (Tznius) go beyond the biblical requirement and are relative to the culture where one resides.
So that in places like Iran, a Jewish woman may be required to follow the modesty customs of that culture which go far beyond what is biblically required. In places like America, the biblical and rabbinic parameters are the same. Modesty in western cultural terms do not meet even the biblical Erva standard.
Some of the more right wing segments of Orthodoxy insist on taking matters of Tznius to much greater lengths than Halacha requires – even those that live in westernized cultures like America and Israel. For example, even though an exposed lower leg below the knee is not considered Erva, Chasidic – and many other Charedi communities require that it be covered anyway. And consider it highly immodest if a woman’s leg below the knee is fully exposed.
Which brings me to two articles in the Forward. One by Judy Brown, a woman who is Charedi. The other by Simi Lampert who is Modern Orthodox. It is interesting to see the similarity of attitude expressed by both.
One might think that a Modern Orthodox woman would be put off by the attitude expressed by the Charedi woman. But in both cases they seem to be saying the same thing. Which is that they understand the purpose behind those modesty rules. And both expressed the desire to follow them.
Both women have the desire to look attractive by western cultural standards and have tried on immodest clothing in private just to see how they would look. Both thought they looked great, and both would never consider wearing such clothing in public. They both feel a level of comfort in following the modesty rules.
The difference between them is cultural and not Halachic. In the Charedi culture, the idea of not wearing stockings is considered a Tznius violation. So much so that when an error in perception was made about the Mrs. Brown not wearing stockings even though her legs were covered below the knee, all hell broke loose. Here is how she tells the story:
[T]he young man passing by the yard declared that he had seen me with bare legs. Like a careless whore…
It was Tuesday, mid-August, a (very hot) day… I filled up the baby pool for my children in the yard settled on a plastic chair with cherry ices and dunked my legs in the pool, right where the water spurted from the hose.
It was then that the Hasid passed. It was then that he saw me — beige pantyhose transparent, legs seemingly bare — and, looking quickly away, hurried to tell the rav. I had not seen him at all. I did not know of the bewildered chaos going on in his mind until later that night, when my husband came home and stared at me quizzically.
The rav had called, he said. Could it be true? That I had sat outside with no pantyhose at all?
Of course she was wearing stockings and it was just a misperception on the part of a passerby. The point here is how seriously this Chumra is taken in the world of Chasidim. As ‘modern’ as Mrs. Brown became in other areas, this area is sancrosanct to her.
This would never happen in Modern Orthodoxy. Of course modern Orthodox Jews do not have the infra structure or the desire to dictate how its members dress. As Mrs. Lambert points out:
If my rabbi approached my husband about what I was wearing in my own yard, I’d almost definitely move. The very next day.
While both communities follow the same Halachos of modesty there is no mechanism, or really any pressure in Modern Orthodoxy that would force a violator to adhere to Halacha. One will find that modesty laws are occasionally breached by those I would call MO-Lite. The kind of guilt described by Mrs. Brown does not exist in MO circles, at least not on the level she seemed to have about it.