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January 21, 2017 / 23 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘special’

A Very Special Chanukah Party

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

I was fortunate to have been invited to the Chanukah party co-hosted in Washington by the country of Azerbaijan and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish organizations.

Azerbaijan is a secular Muslim country, strategically located (bordering both Iran and Russia), that has developed a close relationship with Israel. It has purchased nearly five billion dollars’ worth of defense equipment from Israel and is Israel’s largest oil supplier.

My first encounter with Azerbaijan took place three years ago when its ambassador to the U.S., Elin Suleymanov, came to the Presidents Conference to meet with us – a meeting I attended as a representative of Emunah of America. Conference representatives subsequently received an invitation to attend a reception in Washington for the Republic Day of Azerbaijan.

I thought it was important to show our support for a country that is not only strategically important but that serves as a model of diversity and tolerance – and friendship with the United States and Israel.

I traveled to Washington for that reception, along with Gerald Platt and Ken Abramowitz, both of the American Friends of Likud. The room was filled with about 500 people including military personnel, congressmen, and people in Arab garb from Saudi Arabia and other Mideast countries.

As far as I knew, Gerry, Ken, and I were the only Jews in the room. Ambassador Suleymanov greeted the three of us warmly, and when he addressed the crowd, he thanked everyone for coming, including ” my Jewish friends. ” Needless to say, we were very moved and happy we’d made the trip.

In light of that earlier experience, and because of the increasingly close relationship between Azerbaijan and Israel, I had no doubt that the right thing to do was to once again travel to Washington to attend the Chanukah party. I wanted to show my support for (and encourage) the warm relationship between Azerbaijan and Israel, which was one of the goals of the Presidents Conference in co-hosting the party.

When I spoke to Ambassador Suleymanov and his wife, I told them we pray that the warm relationship and mutual economic cooperation between Azerbaijan, the United States, and Israel will grow ever stronger and that Azerbaijan will continue to use its influence to help foster peace and further development in the region.

I also attended the party to show my support for the Presidents Conference itself, which was being criticized (unfairly, in my opinion) by some of its own member organizations for holding the event in a Trump hotel.

The Conference had asked Ambassador Suleymanov to rent a room near the White House, so that those who were attending the Chanukah party there could participate in both events. The only other stipulation the Conference made was that the food be kosher. The Ambassador rented the room at the Trump International Hotel simply because it was the best practical solution.

At the party, Presidents Conference Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein presented commemorative menorahs to the ambassadors of 13 countries, including seven with Muslim majorities, as well as the chief of the PLO delegation in Washington, Maen Areikat, to thank them for their assistance in helping put out last month’s devastating forest fires in Israel.

After the speeches and photo-ops were over, I took the opportunity to approach Mr. Areikat. I told him that hopefully the evening’s events were an important overture and a sign that peace could eventually be achieved.

He replied, “When your Prime Minister Netanyahu recognizes his immediate neighbors like he recognizes Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, there can be peace.”

I responded that I know there could be peace if they would just utter the sentence “We recognize Israel as a Jewish state. ” Mr. Areikat hesitated and then said: “We can say that after an agreement is signed. ” And he told me he liked my dress.

We exchanged cards, and I intend to keep in touch with him to see if we can have any further dialogue.

The beauty and essence of the evening can be gleaned from the speeches by Mr. Hoenlein, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, and Ambassador Suleymanov. A few excerpts:

Malcolm Hoenlein: “We are indebted to the people who are here because there is no greater demonstration that all of the charges and all of the predictions of Israel’s isolation were answered when Israel faced the disaster of the fires. Countries came immediately…to demonstrate that there is a common humanity, just as Israel responds first and foremost wherever there is a tragedy, whether in Nepal, whether in Haiti….

“This is really the test. We understand the political machinations. People have to say things and do things, but this is really the bottom line, that we have common aspirations; we have common hopes, and anyone who cares about their children and grandchildren, about the future of the world, shares in those hopes and aspirations…”

Ambassador Suleymanov: “We…hope to be able to be a friend for Israel and a friend for the Jewish people among the Muslim nations.… [W]e want to be able to help Jews and Palestinians find points for agreement, to come together to work together, and ultimately we hope that will help to resolve the longstanding conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We want people to talk to each other.”

Ambassador Dermer: “Not only can we light candles together, we can douse flames together, and the fact that all of you represent countries who in our hour of need were there for us, is deeply appreciated.”

The words spoken by these three men should be a lesson not only for the nations of the world but also for us Jews. The Presidents Conference – especially Malcolm Hoenlein, who devotes his days and nights to the benefit of Jews everywhere – deserves kudos and our continued support for hosting the event and for all their wonderful work on behalf of Klal Yisrael.

Mindy Stein

Cabinet Holds Special Meeting in Fire Plagued Haifa

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assembled his cabinet on Sunday morning in Haifa, the Israeli city that has suffered more than any other large urban center in the week of blazes, both the natural and the man made kind. The prime minister said: “First, I would like to commend the IDF soldiers who, this morning, successfully repelled an attack against in the border triangle area (where Israel, Lebanon and Syria meet). We are well prepared on our northern border and we will not allow any ISIS or other hostile elements, under cover of the war in Syria, to establish themselves adjacent to our borders.

“En route here this morning I spoke with Rama Ben-Tzvi; her and her husband’s restaurant in the Jerusalem hills was completely burnt. I think that we all know how much love they have invested in this, their life’s work, for 20 years, and in an instant, it went up in flames. The fire there and in other places burned property, it burned objects replete with memories, it even burned animals in some places, but to our joy, this time we were well-prepared and it did not burn lives; we saved lives. I told Rama that we would help her rebuild her restaurant forthwith. The Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office has already spoken to her. This, in effect, is our message to all Israeli citizens whose homes and property were hit by the fires: We will help you rebuild your homes and your lives forthwith and this is the main goal of this special Cabinet meeting this morning in Haifa.

“We have come to Haifa and we have invited council heads from across the north whose communities were affected by the fires in order to give them clear message: All government ministries are committed to extending a hand to you quickly, to shorten the bureaucracy, and I say to brutally shorten the bureaucracy, to bring you assistance, relief and rebuilding as soon as possible. In the meantime, we will do everything necessary to maintain your remaining property.

“Immediately upon concluding my remarks, I will ask my fellow ministers – the ministers of Public Security, Finance and Interior – who, I must say, from the outset, have worked tirelessly in the field, to report on their ministries’ activities.

“Later, I will ask the other ministers to do so. Of course, we will be measured by results and not by processes, by deeds and not words. We will be measured by results. The event is still not over. There are reports now of a fire in the Zichron area and several other locales, that seem as if they are rekindling. We are working on all fronts, including law enforcement. Whoever starts a fire, either by malice or negligence, whoever incites to arson – we will act against them with full force.

“There is no doubt that thanks to the courage of the firefighters, the pilots from Israel and abroad, and to the determined response of the Israel Police, MDA, IDF, Home front Command and the other rescue forces, the local councils represented here and the extraordinary spirit shown by Israeli citizens – thanks to all these, we achieved impressive control of the fires which, to a certain extent, were much more complicated and much more difficult than the Carmel fire.

“On Friday, I received a meteorological report, which indicated difficult conditions vis-à-vis dryness and the weather, the combination of temperatures and the wind and continued dryness, it was 30% more difficult than the conditions that prevailed during the Carmel fire. Along with all the government ministers here, I salute all those who took part in dealing with this crisis, in extinguishing the fires, and in guarding life and property. We have built an impressive ability to fight fires on the ground and from the air and it proved itself. I do not want to imagine what might have happened if we hadn’t built this ability.

“I would like to thank the many governments who sent assistance in the form of firefighting aircraft, pilots and firefighters and I would like to thank the personnel at the Foreign Ministry and the National Security Council and especially you, Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Zeev Tzuk-Tam who supervised very impressive international coordination. It is not simple to bring here so many elements, pilots, planes and materials from so many countries.

“Against the mighty forces of nature, countries worked together and the principle that has guided me and the government was – better over-ability than the risk of under-ability.

“During the events, I personally visited several centers of the fires and I already instructed that a team be established to learn lessons so that we will be even better prepared in the future. I am initiating the establishment of a multi-national force that will be coordinated not just for action in time of disaster, but also to acquire planes and allocate the acquisition of various types of planes so that we might thereby achieve multi-national effectiveness, and not just national effectiveness, in dealing with gigantic fires. I have spoken about this with several leaders from the region. I must say that they have shown great interest in the idea and we will advance it.”

Jewish Press Staff

Jews and our “Special” Obligation

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

A recent opinion piece for the Washington Post by Rabbi Jill Jacobs, author of Where Justice Dwells: A Hands-On Guide to Doing Social Justice in Your Jewish Community, and Daniel Sokatch of the allegedly pro-Israel New Israel Fund, is entitled, “Why Jews have a special obligation to resist Trump.”

Jacobs and Sokatch claim that:

Donald Trump’s winning platform includes pledges to ban Muslims from entering our country, to forcibly deport millions of people, to remove legal protections from vulnerable minorities and to reinstate the use of torture. The president-elect has threatened massive attacks on human rights and constitutional freedoms. Just last week, he appointed to the highest advisory position in the White House Stephen K. Bannon, a former publisher of Breitbart News, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls the “media arm” of the white supremacist alt-right movement.

The idea behind the article is that because Trump is essentially a Nazi, Jews have a particular obligation to join with other “threatened” minorities in political opposition.

I always find it interesting, though, when people tell Jews that we have “special” obligations.

It reminds me a bit of when they say that Jewish people have failed to learn the lessons of the Holocaust – a “special” obligation if ever there was one – with the implication that Jews are not nearly as ethical as we need to be in order to prove our moral worthiness. It is one of those obligations that we can never seem to master in the eyes of others, including many other Jews.

The false and exaggerated claims toward Trump, however, are not intended to create insight, bu to spread fear of the individual and loathing toward Americans who voted for him. The absolute terms within which they are presented also leave no wriggle-room for actual discussion of the issues raised by the authors.

Is it really Trump’s policy to simply “ban Muslims from entering our country”? No, of course it is not. This is a lie. But making such a claim, with its implication of implacable racism, serves to shut down the much needed national discussion around immigration policy.

In this way, Jacobs and Sokatch frame the argument in much the manner that the hard-left always frames virtually any argument; one is either in agreement with them or exiled as a deplorable monster. In either case, there is no discussion to be had, nor disagreement allowed.

Jacobs and Sokatch would have us believe that Jews are extra-special and that as the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors – not to mention the inheritors of Talmudic scholarship and ethics – we have a distinct moral obligation not incumbent upon others. We are, thus, never allowed to be just normal Israelis or Brits or Aussies or Americans. Instead we are told by our ethical superiors, sometimes Jewish and sometimes not, that we have special obligations and if we fail to carry out those obligations then we are something other than kosher.

Now, at the dawn of the Days of Trump, some on the battered left are doubling-down on the kind of relentless moral narcissism that helped bring us Trump in the first place. Throughout the Obama administration, and the reign of the baby-boomers since Bill Clinton, the progressive-left relentlessly pounded issues of racism, sexism, and homophobia into the atomic protoplasm of every living creature from Bridgeport, Connecticut to San Francisco, California. We even had poor Hank Hill, of King of the Hill fame, prior to Obama, wondering if his dog was racist.

Nonetheless, Jacobs and Sokatch warn American Jews that, “Trying to conduct business as usual with the Trump administration could prevent us from joining with other threatened groups to protect our neighbors.”

Jacobs and Sokatch represent one small Jewish example of the mass hysteria whipped like a meringue into the general population over the last six months. The ceaseless and ever-increasing rhetorical churning of alleged racism, sexism, and homophobia that set the rhythm for the Obama administration turned into a crescendo as we got closer and closer to November 8. By November 9, instead of peaking and then sliding into its natural level, Trump Hatred became a discordant howling that continues until this very moment.

Jacobs and Sokatch, in service to this cult of victimhood, combine the spreading of raw fear with a cloying form of religious outreach that seeks to exploit the famous Jewish sense of guilt.

They write:

Even if Jews were not personally threatened as Jews, it would still be imperative for us to call upon all of the communal strength we have and all of the institutions we have fought to create to oppose threats to other people. This is an obligation that comes from our tradition. In the Torah, one of God’s first commands to the Jewish people after our liberation from slavery is to protect those who are most vulnerable, as we, too, know the experience of being strangers.

I have no reason to doubt Jacobs and Sokatch’s sincerity or intentions.

Like many millions of Americans they have succumbed to the constant media yammerings of how regular working-class white Americans are creatures ruled by hatred and fear of the Other. Despite the fact that the United States is actually one of the very least racist or sexist countries on the entire planet many in the Democratic Party insist that we are among the worst.

In the final months heading into the election the progressive-left, the Democratic Party, and the traditional media conjured an apparition from hell which they called the “alt-right.” In truth, it was there all along, but with little national or cultural significance until Hillary and the anti-Trumpers saw some use for them as a club with which to smack around the Deplorable Cheetoh.

The alt-right, a creature that virtually no one had even heard of prior to this election, seems to have taken over the country almost entirely out of the blue. The manner in which it went from being on the utmost political fringe to front-and-center within a matter of weeks is an amazing testament to the power of group-think, public relations psychology, and the political manipulation of normal human fears for electoral purposes. If the progressive-left didn’t have any actual Klansmen or Nazis to shadow-box with then, by God, they’d conjure it up themselves, which is precisely what they did.

As it happens, however, Steve Bannon and Breitbart News, whatever else we may make of them, are friendly toward Jews, friendly toward Gay people, and Breitbart senior editor – and “dangerous faggot” – Milo Yiannopoulos, happens to be both.

I am sorry, but pro-Jewish and pro-Gay does not for white supremacism make.

That the so-called “alt-right” contains some racists is undoubtedly the case, as does – in no particular order – the Democratic Party, the Obama administration, the progressive-left, the EU, the UN, Black Lives Matter, western feminist leadership, and any media outlet that tells Jewish people where we may, or may not, be allowed to live within our own homeland.

Do Jacobs and Sokatch believe that we have a “special” obligation to resist them, too?

Somehow, I doubt it.

Michael Lumish

IDF Special Force Unit to Require Officer’s Rank of All Fighters

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

The IDF Sayeret Matkal (General Staff Reconnaissance) special forces unit is about to become revolutionized as all its future warriors will be expected to attain an officer’s rank and sign up for an extra three years of service, on top of the current compulsory service time, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported Saturday. It will turn Sayeret Matkal into an officers-only force.

The IDF Intelligence HR departments are in the process of completing the work required to carry out this significant change in the unit. The main reason for the move has to do with the fact that the equipment and technological facility required of the unit’s fighters are exceptionally high, making their initial training time longer. The military does not want to lose its investment in these men when they are discharged after three or four years.

Fighters who are already part of the unit will be offered a shortened officers’ course, and would be obligated to sign for extended service which is a prerequisite of their new rank.

Sayeret Matkal was created to fill the void left in 1954, after Israel’s first special operations force Unit 101 was disbanded as a result of the Qibya massacre of October 1953. In 1957 Avraham Arnan, a former yeshiva student and Palmach fighter, was authorized by the IDF General Staff to create a unit that could be dispatched to enemy-held territory to carry out top secret intelligence-gathering missions. Modeled after the British Special Air Service, the unit was trained, among others, by Bedouin trackers. It also took advantage of the IDF new fleet of helicopters for longer and deeper missions in Arab territory.


Special Delivery

Friday, October 21st, 2016

An adorable young couple moved into our building. The newlyweds were slim and attractive, he dark, she fair, both with sweet smiles and lots of chein. We extended an invitation to join us for a Shabbos meal, and they said they would let us know. Minutes later, the husband knocked and asked to borrow our sifter. I was slightly embarrassed and apologetic that I had uncharacteristically put it away without wiping off every last vestige of flour, but I handed over our Bnei Brak sifter nevertheless. Almost immediately, they eagerly accepted our Shabbos invitation. Apparently, we had passed their makeshift ‘test’ by having the most stringent possible sifter, floury or not. The netting on it was so fine that not only was it impossible for insects to get through; it always seemed that neither could the flour!

Despite our age difference and the fact that they were newly married and we were expecting our fourth child, the newcomers and us hit it off well. However, we only remained neighbors for a short while before my husband decided that we should move to a new neighborhood near the yeshiva where he taught. We said our good-byes and wished each other well, then went our separate ways.

Fast-forward a year and a half.

I had gone into labor with my fifth child, and my husband drove me to the hospital in Yerushalayim. As he was letting me off at the maternity entrance, we noticed another couple approaching. Immediately, we recognized our former neighbors, although she had put on some weight in front and walked with the same distinct waddle as I. We had an enthusiastic albeit brief reunion, and then the young husband insisted on carrying in my hospital bag while my husband parked the car. The three of us were quite a sight to behold: two very pregnant women and one dazed husband carrying two bags!

Eventually the nurses sorted it out and assigned us each to a labor room. Alas, the hospital staff did not seem too anxious to deliver babies that night. They ultimately sent both of us packing, along with another woman in the early stages of labor, admitting only one out of four women to the delivery room. Again, we said our farewells and shared sincere brachos before parting.

I have to admit that I was mortified. Here I was, forty weeks pregnant, about to deliver my fifth child, thinking myself a veritable expert regarding labor and delivery. How could I have had a false alarm? I decided to wait until I was 100% sure that I was in active labor before daring to show my face at the hospital again.

My contractions petered out and only resumed in earnest a couple of weeks later. When they were quite intense and coming just minutes apart, I decided to risk going to the hospital to deliver. By the time we arrived, I was practically at the transition stage already. I was assigned a bed in the labor room. By now, it was morning, and the doctors and interns were making their daily rounds. A fair-sized group surrounded my bed and inquired about my status. When they asked which week of pregnancy I was in, I responded truthfully that according to my doctor’s calculations I was currently in my 43rd week. That raised some eyebrows to be sure, and the consensus was that after they had completed their morning rounds, they would return and take me to have an ultrasound.

After their departure, I summoned the nurse and informed her that I felt ready to deliver. She examined me and was shocked to discover that I was correct. Because of my advanced stage, she gave me the option of delivering the baby right in the labor room instead of transferring me to the delivery room. I gratefully agreed, and within moments, b”H, delivered a healthy 7 pound 11 ounce baby girl. The nurse felt that the delivery room was not warm enough for the newborn, so with my permission, she bundled her up and whisked her off, until we would both be transferred to the maternity floor.

As I was lying in my bed in the labor room, recovering from the trauma and excitement of the birth, who should show up but the same contingent of doctors and interns, fresh from their rounds? They cheerfully informed me that they had indeed returned to take me for an ultrasound. Although I hated to burst their bubble, I explained to them that the labor had progressed so quickly since their initial visit that I had delivered right in the labor room, and no longer required an ultrasound. They were somewhat surprised, but not as visibly disappointed as my husband. He kept chastising me for spilling the beans, picturing the perplexed looks on the faces of the doctors had I played along and had the ultrasound post-delivery.

That was the first time in ten births that I arrived at the hospital prematurely. But, unfortunately, it was not the last. When I was pregnant with my seventh child and living in Canada, I had a remarkably similar experience. Again, the labor failed to progress, and again I was sent back home.

This time, however, I did not have to wait over two more weeks for the intense contractions to kick in. The day after I returned from the hospital, I engaged in some fairly strenuous activity, including raking all the leaves in our expansive backyard. Soon, my contractions were coming fast and furious.

My husband had left the house at 5:30 a.m., as usual, to learn with his chavrusah before davening. Likewise, as usual, he did not return home during the day, instead going straight to his full-day job as the Judaic principal of the local Jewish high school. Those were the days before the ubiquitous cellphone was standard-equipment; so keeping in touch was somewhat of a challenge. My husband called from work and I apprised him of the situation, mentioning as well that if the contractions continued at their present rate or intensified, I would try to find a friend or neighbor to pick the kids up from school for me.

Naama Klein

Kim Kardashian Hires IDF Special Force Vet

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Reality star Kim Kardashian, who was robbed at gunpoint in her Paris hotel room, has reportedly hired Aaron Cohen, a veteran of the IDF elite Duvdevan Unit. Cohen, who was born in Canada and grew up in LOs Angeles, made Aliyah when he was 17, lived on a kibbutz (two of them, actually) and was drafted into the IDF as a lone soldier. He served in the Mistar’avim undercover unit that merges with the Arab population, as part of the elite Duvdevan Unit.

Cohen owns a security company for celebrities in the US, with clients such as Brad Pitt and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Kardashian has now been added to his client list. Kardashian’s husband, singer Kanye West, apparently hired Cohen, to tighten his wife’s security. Cohen also trains mercenaries, and teaches Hollywood actors hand-to-hand combat the use of various weapons,

Cohen told the press his client is “a star who has more followers on social media than presidential candidates. People know where she is at almost every moment, what jewelry she has on and also that her security is lacking. You could say she’s ‘asking’ to be robbed. With everything that happened, she’s lucky to be alive.”

David Israel

SPECIAL INVITATION: Tour Hebron This Monday with Yishai Fleisher #TourHebron

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Dear JewishPress.com Readers,

Connect to your roots just in time for Yom Kippur!!!

You are invited to a special Olim tour of Hebron and a visit to the Machpela Tomb of the Jewish People’s founding fathers and mothers.

When: Monday, 10th of October, 2016 Meet at 9:45 AM in front of Binyanei HaUmah in Jerusalem opposite Central Bus Station

Return: Back in Jerusalem by 5PM

What’s included: We will tour Hebron’s sites, the Machpela, Beit Hadassa, and Admot Yishai (including the Tomb of Ruth and Yishai) and we will have time to pray, meditate and learn. We will visit the Hebron Museum, see the new 4D film, and have dairy brunch.

Cost: 50 NIS per person

Security: The tour will include bullet proof bus and security guard

REGISTRATION: Please reserve your seats ASAP by emailing tour@hebronfund.org

Registration closes 11AM Sunday October 9th. Spaces are limited to one bus (50 seats) – so register quickly!!

Looking forward to seeing you,

Yishai Fleisher
International Spokesman
Jewish Community of Hebron, Israel

Yishai Fleisher

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/special-invitation-tour-hebron-this-monday-with-yishai-fleisher-tourhebron/2016/10/07/

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