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November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘QUESTION’

Krugman’s Lament

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Originally published at The American Thinker.

Paul Krugman laments but does not condemn the voting public for getting it wrong. We are, after all,  “… often misinformed, and politicians aren’t reliably truthful.” So it is at least not our fault when we get it all wrong. Get what wrong?

Well, Krugman wondered whether the public was clueless about whether “the deficit has gone up or down since January 2010.” He got one of his pals, Hal Varian, to run a Google Consumer Survey on the question. And guess what? We got it wrong, “A majority of those who replied said the deficit has gone up, with more than 40 percent saying that it has gone up a lot. Only 12 percent answered correctly that it has gone down a lot.” So, according to Krugman, under [in spite of?] Obama the deficit has gone down a lot since 2010.

The amount of the deficit in 2010 was 1.3 trillion. The amount of the deficit in 2011 was 1.3 trillion.

Obama’s 2011 deficit same as 2010: $1.3 trillion

That means big things must have happened in  2012, right?

For fiscal year 2012 the federal budget deficit will total $1.1 trillion

Wow. Did we get that wrong. For Krugman the move from 1.3 trillion to 1.1 trillion is “down a lot.”

Now maybe Krugman had the projected government deficit for 2013 in mind. That is projected to be .7 trillion.  But he didn’t ask that did he? He didn’t even ask if the deficit for 2012 is lower than the deficit in 2011. He just asked if the deficit has gone up or down.

But which is it Mr. Krugman? You’ve been telling us that deficits don’t matter. If they don’t matter why should we, the clueless misinformed, pay attention? But now you seem to be suggesting that a reduced deficit is a good thing and that you and the Obama administration should take credit for the reduced deficit in 2013 – forced sequestration, condemned by you and the Obama administration, had nothing to do with the 2013 drop in the deficit?

So if deficits go up it doesn’t matter but if they go down it’s a good thing? Well, count me among the clueless.

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/08/krugmans_lament.html#ixzz2cRV1ZhGB
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Man-Made Meat? A fence for Wisdom is Silence

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

After years of research and development, a man-made hamburger was publicly tasted for the first time last week. The burger was not animal flesh, instead it was grown in a laboratory. However, it was grown in a way that mimics the way animals grow their own flesh. Thus, it was pretty close to dead animal meat in flavor and texture.

This incredible scientific breakthrough prompted a plethora of questions. For the religious community with rituals and laws attached to the eating of meat even more questions were asked.

It seemed that one could hardly browse the Internet for five seconds without seeing a juicy soundbite (sorry, couldn’t resist) about whether the meat was kosher or whether is was meat at all. Chabad’s website had one approach. OU had another approach. Reuters had a third opinion in their article. NBC added another view.

I must have been asked by a dozen people what to make of the man-made meat mystery.

This is what I think. No one has any idea what they are talking about. Non-scientists have no chance of understanding the precise manner in which this meat was manufactured. I have tried to understand how it all works and it is almost impossible to find the full technical explanation with all the requisite background information. A very smart scientists tried explaining it to me, but even after I got the gist of the process I had more questions about stem cells and other background than I had before he explained it to me. I am pretty confident that Chabad, OU, the Reuters people, and even NBC News reporters don’t have a clue how this meat is made.

Sure, they  say “don’t rely on this for halacha” or something to that effect, but that makes things even worse. Why offer a meaningless opinion that is based on ignorance? It seems to make a mockery of Jewish law. But Jewish law is very serious and serious people will offer serious opinions on this matter. The proper response for almost the entire population of planet Earth to these eternal questions about man-made meat is “I am not qualified to render an opinion on this matter.”

Without a thorough understanding of how the meat is made, any discussion of the halachic ramifications of the meat is not even conjecture. It is pure fantasy. Further, deciding the halachic status of this issue will require a breadth of Torah knowledge that is possessed by a mere handful of people on the planet. You can’t pasken this shyla with Yad Moshe, Google, or the Otzar. This is a brand new question of Jewish law and will need serious investigation into the science and the various tenuously analogous precedents in Jewish law. The Torah does not discuss synthetic meat. And even if it did, who says this meat would be the same as the synthetic meat found in Jewish law?

The only way this question can be seriously answered is with a conference of scientists and rabbis who fit the descriptions above. Scientists who can thoroughly explain how the meat is made and Torah scholars who know kol haTorah kula will need to decide this issue. Anyone else jumping into the discussion is wielding a knife in a nuclear war. It’s that useless.

If I can, I will try to attain a scientific understanding of how this meat is produced and then perhaps I will be qualified to even ask the question to my (qualified) posek. But until such time, I wouldn’t dare wade into this very, very deep pool. I think this is the proper policy under the circumstances. We sound more educated and cutting edge when we admit what we don’t know as opposed to when we pretend we know what we are discussing.

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What Does It Mean to Be Jewish?

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

The question “What does it mean to be Jewish?” has often been asked. I suppose you could invoke the old joke “Ask two Jews a question and you’ll get three opinions” to better comprehend how different Jews would respond to this question, so when I weigh in here, I hope readers will forgive me if my opinions don’t always accord with theirs.

But the question is legitimate and should be asked. Jewish people share a common heritage and are affected by many of the same issues today. They face a world in which their religion is part of their identity; no matter how far apart they are on the religious and political spectrums (not to mention any others), they share a common bond that unites them in terms of how they relate to each other and to the outside world.

So what does it mean to be Jewish? To me, it means the following:

● To believe in God. Divine affirmation is the foundation of Judaism. Everything else comes after.

● To observe Shabbat and the various yom tovim. What could be more meaningful, spiritual, and fulfilling – more Jewish – than practicing the religious aspects of Judaism?

● To lead an honorable life. Shouldn’t we all aspire to become tzaddikim, righteous people?

● To keep kosher. Certain things just seem to go together, like lox and bagels, gefilte fish and horseradish – and being Jewish and keeping kosher.

● To do mitzvot. There are 613 mitzvot in the Torah, including the above. Carrying out mitzvot is part of our code.

● To carry on Jewish traditions. There’s life after davening, and it’s called Jewish culture. Chanukah gifts, hamantashen, and singing niggunim on Shabbat are just a few of the wonderful customs that have evolved from the religion and its people.

● To be proud of your Jewish heritage. Wear it on your sleeve – you’re a member of a tribe that has nearly 6,000 years of history.

● To feel an immediate bond with fellow Jews. Have you ever felt like you can be anywhere in the world and if you find a fellow Jew, you feel an immediate kinship?

● To involve yourself in a community of Jews. As birds of a feather flock together, it’s only natural for Jews to be immersed in a Jewish world – having Jewish friends, engaging in Jewish activities, living in Jewish neighborhoods.

● To feel a Jewish identity. Even if you’re not as religious as you could or should be, what could possibly make you more Jewish than feeling Judaism is an indelible part of your soul, or that being Jewish is simply who you are?

● To feel a special connection to Jewish history. Who can feel the pain of Jewish persecutions, expulsions, and genocides more than a Jew? Who can feel the catastrophe of the Holocaust more deeply than a Jew?

● To take great pride in Israel. Do you get the chills when you hear “Hatikvah”? After 2,000 years of Jews living in the Diaspora as a weak, defenseless, persecuted people, what greater modern miracle could there be than the resurrection of the Jewish homeland?

● To place an emphasis on education. Jewish parents may be the original “tiger moms and dads.” Perhaps that is why some professions are disproportionately populated by Jews.

● To feel empathy for the poor, oppressed, and downtrodden. You only have to consider how much we’ve suffered as a people to understand how this got into our DNA.

● To have a Jewish funny bone. You can relate to Jewish humor because you’re laughing at yourself and other Jewish people you know – and, nu, do you think there’s any shortage of Jewish foibles?

● To think in “Jewish ways.” How do Jews think? Oy vey iz mir. We think the number 18 brings good luck, so we sometimes give gifts in denominations of 18, like $36 or $180. We try to ward off the evil eye after hearing compliments or wonderful news by saying “kenohora” or mimicking spitting by going “pooh-pooh-pooh.” Oh, and there’s the proverbial Jewish guilt, as well as our inimitable designation of “mishagas” to explain a panoply of crazy behavior with a Jewish edge. Is there such a thing as a Yiddishe kop? Suffice it to say that when you do something stupid, you’re not using it.

A Ray of Light Behind the Clouds

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Some years ago I was invited to speak at a secular high school for exceptionally bright students. The student body was mostly non-Jewish. Since I am a Holocaust survivor, they asked that I address that subject. After my presentation the principal asked if I would agree to a Q&A session. “By all means,” I answered.

The first student at the microphone asked a question that I sensed was on the minds of many there. “Where was G-d?” he asked. “How can you keep your faith?”

I replied:

“You asked me a question and I will respond with a question of my own. Where was man? And I do not refer only to the satanic Nazis but to all the nations that were complicit in this unspeakable evil.

“As far as faith goes, in what and in whom could I have placed my faith? In twentieth-century enlightenment, education, culture, science? I saw university graduates use their scientific know-how to create gas chambers where millions of lives were snuffed out. I saw doctors maim, torture and kill. I will simply ask once again, ‘Where was man – where was modern Western civilization?’

“Whenever I seek answers I turn to the pages of our Torah, for everything is to be found within it. I invite you to meet the very first family who lived on this planet. Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel. They lived in paradise. No one had to go to work. The climate was perfect – not too hot, not too cold. There was no illness and no death. G-d intended for man to live forever but then man debased himself. He became corrupt and evil.

“Cain and Abel made a deal. ‘Let’s divide the world between us,’ they said. And so they did. Livestock was to belong to Abel, real estate to Cain. But no sooner had Cain received his portion than he said to Abel, ‘The land is mine, get off it.’ And with that he killed his brother. G-d asked Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ To which he responded, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’

“To this day Cain’s question echoes in the wind. Man plunders, kills, rapes – but instead of accepting accountability for his heinous deeds he shifts the blame to G-d and asks with audacity, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’

“Thousands of years have passed and man has yet to respond, ‘Yes G-d, I am my brother’s keeper. Forgive me. It was all my fault. I take responsibility. Almighty G-d, give me another chance. Allow me to try again.’

“The question ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ means, in essence, ‘You, G-d, created the world; You, G-d, are in charge. Why did You allow this to happen? Where were You? How can I believe in You if You allowed this monstrous atrocity to occur?’

“Has anything changed in thousands of years? Yes, things have changed. Cain killed his brother with his hands or a primitive instrument but today modern man has harnessed his scientific brilliance to create hell on earth. The way of the first murderer Cain has become the reality by which modern man justifies his abominable deeds.”

* * * * * Recently I shared with readers my experiences when I spoke in South Africa. More than 5,000 people gathered for Torah study at the Sinai Indaba organized by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein. In one of my presentations I spoke about the Holocaust. After the program a distinguished gentleman came over and introduced himself. He was a Christian living in Johannesburg. With tears he spilled out his heart.

“Rebbetzin,” he said, “we need to repent, to make atonement for the sins committed against the Jewish people. And we have to make that real, not just an empty declaration. I would like to convene multitudes of people and have you address them. Tell them about the Holocaust so they might all know and pass it on to future generations.”

This glimmer of light amid the dark clouds of anti-Semitism that once again are engulfing the world reminds us that dormant within the human heart is the spark of G-d. We must only plug into it and the voltage could light up the entire world. Whether or not that convention of Christians in Johannesburg will take place remains to be seen but the words were said, the call was made, and that in itself is significant.

Let’s return to the question that bright young student asked me: Where was G-d? Let us understand once and for all that G-d is not a puppeteer and we are not puppets. We have choices; that is what separates us from the animals. It is all recorded in this week’s parshah. “Behold I give you today blessing and curse.”

That choice is the challenge to every generation. The Torah speaks for all time. When will man choose good over evil, blessing over curse? Is it possible that that day will ever come? Of course it is.

There is a spark in the hearts of all men and I believe that one day that spark will burst forth into glorious light and banish all evil – and the world will know that “G-d is One, His Name is One.”

May that day soon come speedily in our own time.

State Dept. Cites 12,000 Rockets in 12 Years as Justification for Israel’s Choice of Self Defense

Friday, November 16th, 2012

The fallout of the Arab Spring continues, and the winter dance performances are complex indeed.

Newly installed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is firmly in the Muslim Brotherhood camp, but as the ruling leader of a vast country with gaping economic, political and religious divides, he may not be able to take the kind of expected hardline against Israel that might be expected.

Today, November 16, President Morsi sent his Prime Minister, Hesham Kandil, on a “humanitarian mission” to Gaza.  Kandil was traveling with a small delegation, but given the wracking poverty of so many in Egypt, it may be hard to justify a big showing of charity to outsiders.  In addition, Hamas is the sworn enemy of the Egyptian old guard military and security forces, and Morsi needs to keep the displeasure of those groups in check.  Complicating matters still further, is what is on the current dance card of U.S. President Barack Obama.  While many either congratulate or blame U.S. President Obama for ushering out former Egyptian President Hosnai Mubarek, and thereby helping to usher in Morsi, at the moment the Obama administration is firmly playing the role of Israel supporter, committed to Israel’s right to self-defense and unequivocally casting Hamas as the party in the wrong in this November 2012 Gaza-Israel War.

Yesterday’s State Department and White House Spokesmen’s press conferences left no ambiguity.

Mark Toner, at the State Department:

MR. TONER: Anyway, let’s go to your questions, Matt.

QUESTION: Let’s start with the situation in Gaza and Israel. The Secretary made a call yesterday or took a call from the Egyptian Foreign Minister; is that correct?

MR. TONER: That’s correct.

QUESTION: What was the content? What was the message?

MR. TONER: Mm-hmm. Well, I mean, obviously, as I said, she did speak, as you noted, with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr yesterday. I’m not sure what time, frankly. In the convoluted time zones that she’s in versus us, I’m not sure what time of day it was. But her core message was that we need – the necessity of a de-escalation of the ongoing situation and an end to the violence. That’s what’s most important here. And for –

QUESTION: And based –

MR. TONER: Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. Go ahead.

MR. TONER: No, no. You go ahead.

QUESTION: Well, based on that conversation and also on what you know, what you may know, about the President’s conversation with President Morsi –

MR. TONER: Correct.

QUESTION: – do you think that Egypt is going to do the right thing here, or do you have the sense that they’re going to? What was the response from the Egyptians? It’s –

MR. TONER: Well, I –

QUESTION: Because publicly, their response doesn’t seem to be very consistent with what you’re asking of them.

MR. TONER: I think – and in fact, the White House has issued in a readout of the President’s calls yesterday – both we and the Egyptians agree there needs to be a de-escalation, and we urged the Government of Egypt to take steps to support that kind of de-escalation.

QUESTION: Such as?

MR. TONER: Well, obviously, using their influence in the region. But we want to see, obviously, a de-escalation of the violence. We need to see the violence to -stop. We need to see Hamas stop its rocket attacks on Israel so we can end the violence.

QUESTION: Okay. And the other day, I asked you whether or not the United States spoke to – or not spoke to, but had messages delivered to Hamas to knock it off, if you’ve used Egypt or Qatar, particularly since their Emir just visited Gaza, to send a message to Hamas that these rocket attacks have to stop whether or not they are actually firing them or not. I was told and – or I was led to believe that the answer is no, that you don’t pass any messages on to Hamas through third parties; you don’t talk to them yourselves. And I’m curious; is that correct? And if it is, why? Why not?

MR. TONER: I’m not sure – again, I’m not sure – you’re talking about what I told you in terms –

QUESTION: No.

MR. TONER: – of my response? Okay. I think what I said was that – at the time was we certainly do convey our concerns, certainly to Egypt as a regional leader, as someone who has influence in the region. We convey our concerns and we consult closely on them whenever there’s this kind of outbreak of violence.

And Over at the UN… Diplomats Try to Keep Israel Front and Center

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

At the U.N. Press Center, we can read

While the brutal conflict in Syria continues to dominate headlines, the world cannot afford to be complacent to the ongoing deadlock in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, a top United Nations official said today, stressing the urgent need to focus on the goal of a two-State solution.

But can the world afford to nothing much about Syria?  It is not a dominant theme for peacemakers?

After all,

the conflict in Syria, now entering its 20th month has reached “new and appalling heights of brutality and violence,” said Mr. Feltman, adding that, available estimates, which the U.N. is not in a position to verify, put the number of people killed at over 30,000.

But

“While the world’s gaze of concern points elsewhere in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drifts dangerously in a direction that must be avoided,” the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, told the Security Council, during a meeting on the situation in the Middle East.

“…the creeping realities on the ground and the stalemated diplomacy portray a more worrying reality”…The parties “cannot be impervious to the warning signs of a fading two-State solution,” he added. “Nor can this Council.”

Violence and other sources of tension on the ground are making it all the more difficult to overcome the political stalemate, Mr. Feltman stated, noting concern about security in the West Bank, settler violence, continued settlement activity, Palestinian attacks against Israelis, as well as sporadic eruptions of violence in the Gaza Strip…

And what did U.S. Ambassador Rice say?

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Susan E. Rice said on Monday that the U.S. “does not accept the legitimacy of Israeli settlement activity, and will continue to oppose any efforts to legalize outposts.” Speaking at the Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East, Rice emphasized: “The fate of existing settlements must be dealt with by the parties along with other permanent-status issues.”

Oh, and I caught this attempt to muddy the waters at a State Dept. Press Conference:

MS. NULAND: Thanks. Anything else? Said.
QUESTION: Scholarships for the Palestinians?
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Are you aware that you have cancelled a three-year program of scholarships for the students from Gaza because of an Israeli pressure on the travel ban, and this disallows young Palestinian students, especially women, from traveling to the West Bank, and they find themselves confined to Islamic universities in Gaza?
MS. NULAND: Well first of all, let me just clarify, Said, that there have been no scholarships canceled by the United States or by our Consulate General in Jerusalem for Gazan students to study in West Bank universities. In fact, we are currently funding three undergraduate students from Gaza who are on four or five-year university degree programs in the West Bank with assistance granted through our A-PLUS programs. These folks have been studying for some time and permits have been granted for these students by Israeli authorities.
My understanding of the situation is that the Israeli high court in May opened a case with regard to the future of Gazan students studying in the West Bank. They made clear to us in the context of that that while the case was ongoing, they would not issue any new permits. So understanding that and with the school year starting, we chose this year, for the 2012 school year only, to grant scholarships to folks already in the West Bank. But it is our hope that we will be able to get back in the business of helping Gazan students study in the West Bank.
QUESTION: Are you raising this issue with Israel to allow Palestinians to travel from Gaza to the West Bank for studying purposes?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, those who are already part of our programs and were before the high court took up the case have been able to continue their studies. And we have heard from the Israelis that this is a freeze, if you will, until this court case goes forward. So we will see where we are after the court case is finished, but it’s obviously our hope and aspiration to be able to continue the program for Gazan students.
QUESTION: Thank you.

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US Aid to Egypt Blocked by Republican Congress Following Riots

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

At last, the violent rallies against the U.S. embassy in Cairo, in reaction to an anti-Islam video, and Egypt’s laxidasical efforts to defend American assets, have yielded a real result: talks about $1 billion in debt relief and millions more in aid to Egypt are suspended, according to U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity.

It took Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi more than 48 hours to condemn the breach of the US embassy premises in Cairo and the removal of the American flag.

There will not be new aid approved for Egypt until after the November elections, and talks intended to ease to payment of funds that have already been approved are stalled, the officials said.

But the same officials added that the delays are temporary and do not represent a reevaluation of U.S. aid to Egypt.

“Folks are going to wait and see how things materialize both with the protests and on Capitol Hill,” one congressional aide told the Post.

The U.S. annual aid to Egypt comes to about $1.6 billion, and the Obama Administration was fully prepared to continue providing this aid, despite the election of a new government in Egypt run by the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, President Obama has proposed an additional $1 billion in debt relief for Egypt, whose debt to America stands at about $3 billion.

Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel, since 1979. Of the $1.6 billion it receives, more than $1.3 billion goes to military aid.

The major hurdle in the path of U.S. funds to Egypt is the Republican House of Representatives which last year attached conditions to U.S. aid, most notably a requirement that the State Department certify that Egypt is abiding by its peace treaty with Israel.

Several Congress members have been proposing additional conditions. And there’s been some pushback on the part of the State Department. For instance: this week, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wanted to hold a hearing on U.S. relations with Egypt, but it was canceled because the State Department refused to send witnesses. DOS instead offered a private briefing for lawmakers, a congressional aide told Reuters.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland attempted to paint with pastel colors that clash of wills between Republican Congress Members and Hillary’s DOS: “We are continuing to work with the Hill on the support that we think is important to support those very forces of moderation, change, democracy, openness in Egypt that are very important for defeating extremism of the kind that we saw,” she said on Monday.

According to Nuland, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would appear before Congress in person soon regarding U.S. aid to the Muslim-Brothers run Egypt and all the other painful realities exposed by the violent protests.

According to the Washington Post, American and Egyptian officials were in the final stages of negotiating hundreds of millions of dollars in aid just as the protests exploded outside the embassy and American flags were being set on fire.

And a delegation of 120 U.S. business leaders was in Cairo at the same time as well, as the State Department was trying to encourage foreign investment in Egypt.

Here is an excerpt from the State Dept. Monday briefing regarding the U.S. and Egypt:

QUESTION: On Egypt, you said the Egyptians have been cooperative in providing the additional security you requested. Can you talk a little bit more broadly about what the contact with the Egyptians has been like over the last few days? And what is the status of the discussions about delivery of aid? Has that been affected at all?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, the White House reported that the President had a good conversation with President Morsi. I think it was before the weekend. I can’t actually remember. It might have been Friday. Right. And then the Secretary talked to Foreign Minister Amr on Saturday. I think we reported that conversation out to you over the weekend. She, as you know, spoke to leaders around the region on Saturday. She also spoke to Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, FM al-Faysal. She spoke to the Libyan Prime Minister Abushagur. She spoke to Foreign Minister Davutoglu, spoke to Foreign Secretary Hague, and Foreign Minister Fabius of France.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/us-aid-to-egypt-blocked-by-republican-congress-following-riots/2012/09/18/

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