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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘status’

US Warned Europeans against Supporting Palestinian Statehood

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

The United States reportedly warned European governments in a memorandum not to support a Palestinian bid for increased status at the United Nations.

The memorandum, which was exposed by the Guardian, called giving the Palestinians enhanced non-member state status “extremely counterproductive” and threatened “significant negative consequences” for the Palestinian Authority, including financial sanctions.

The memorandum, sent by U.S. officials to representatives of European governments at the United Nations General Assembly last week in New York, said that Palestinian statehood “can only be achieved via direct negotiations with the Israelis.” It called on the European governments to block Palestinian attempts to be recognized as a non-member state.

It also asked each government where it stands on the issue and said the U.S. was interested in knowing whether the European governments had been approached by Palestinian representatives.

The Palestinians reportedly will wait until after November’s presidential elections in America to make their bid for the new status in the General Assembly, where the United States does not have veto power. They will, however, press for a vote by the end of the year and expect the issue to pass by a “comfortable majority,” according to the Guardian.

‘Did You Add Salt to a Wound?’

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Just days ago on Yom Kipper, The Day of Judgment, Jews gathered as one in shuls, shteibels and temples and desperately and profusely promised Hashem that we would reform our ways and improve our behaviors and actions towards Him, our Father and Creator, as well as towards our fellow man, who, being made in His image, is deserving of our respect and compassion, and of being treated as an equal, no matter their social or financial status, age or gender.

Our prayers were saturated with sincerity, our pleas- passionate and pure. This time, we would amend our not so pleasant ways. Nothing motivates the determination to improve oneself than the fear of Divine Retribution. The knowledge that teshuvah – repentance and remorse and regret for less than stellar behaviors, attitudes and activities – can postpone, even cancel a stern, life-altering judgment is the best fuel to ignite an unwavering commitment to change.

And many of us are making a conscientious effort to keep our promise to be kinder, more ethical and more tolerant, both as Jews and human beings. But within weeks, ingrained bad habits will free themselves from the restraints we so self-righteously encased them in, and reclaim their turf in our flawed personalities.

So how do we prevent that regression? How do we fortify our resolve to self-tikkun in a way that will help ensure that on the final Day of Judgment in the Heavenly Court, our neshama will be headed “north” not “south?”

It is generally accepted that one of the questions people will be asked on That Day will revolve around business ethics. We will be asked if we were honest in our financial dealings with others.

Perhaps one question that we should expect to be asked of us is, “Did you rub salt into a wound?”

“Rubbing salt into a wound” is an expression that has come to mean adding tzaar – emotional hurt – to someone who already is in great pain and distress. It actually is based on a practice centuries ago when slaves, captured enemies or prisoners of war were lashed either as punishment or as a way of making them talk. Many were further tormented by having salt rubbed into their open, bleeding wounds, causing excruciating pain on top of the pain they were experiencing from the whipping.

(Baby-boomers no doubt remember all too clearly the intense pain that would have us howling and jumping out of our skin when iodine was dabbed onto a skinned knee or cut or scrape to prevent infection. The cure was worse than the sickness. Only much later did soothing, antibiotic ointments become available.)

Of all the “bad” behaviors we indulge in, whether through misguided “kindness” or deliberate maliciousness, enhancing the pain, grief or hopelessness of someone who is hurting mentally, emotionally or spiritually is especially harmful to the recipient – it is like rubbing salt in an open wound.

When I say,” kindness,” it is because there were times when salt was rubbed into an open wound to prevent infection and promote healing. Nonetheless, the resultant agony was just as horrific as when it was done out of pure cruelty.

So many people are what I call the “walking wounded.” Young and old, wealthy or poor, married or single; pillars of their community or barely visible in the crowd, no one is spared from torment, loss, loneliness, fear, self-doubt or the inevitable emotional battering and trauma that comes from being a breathing, sentient human being.

Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, children, teachers, rebbeim, acquaintances, friends, bosses, colleagues, even strangers like a bus driver or store clerk can deliberately or inadvertently, via “good” intentions, salt a wound.

This is clearly evident in the story of Penina and Chana, who became the mother of Shmuel Hanavi. In Shmuel 1 chapter I, verse 7, we are told that a man, Ephraim, had two wives, Penina who had many children, and Chana, who was infertile. Penina would torment Chana about being childless, but the Midrash says she did so out of kindness, to spur Chana to daven with more kavanah, and garner Hashem’s sympathy – but all it did was make Chana feel worse, so she did not even want to eat.

The Four Most Common Financial Mistakes

Monday, September 24th, 2012

As a financial adviser I notice that certain money mistakes are very commonplace. Are you making these kinds of errors that can destroy a fortune?

Instead of learning from your own mistakes, try learning from other people’s mistakes. Below is a list of some of the most common mistakes in financial planning:

1. Putting off buying life or health insurance. Even if you are still young and you belong to the mindset of “it will never happen to me,” the truth is that you never know. Accidents, terror attacks, and sudden illnesses are all in the hands of the One Above, and although no one should ever go through life in a constant state of fear and worry, it’s important to be prepared for any eventuality. Think of your insurance policy as “risk management.”

2. Passing up tax breaks. When considering whether to buy or sell an investment, don’t only look at the figures. Find out what this means in terms of tax. How will the dividends/interest be taxed? Does the investment have any kind of tax deferral or tax-free status? While tax status shouldn’t be your sole concern in purchasing investments, make sure to keep tax liabilities in mind.

3. Buying or holding stocks for the wrong reasons. Are you holding onto a stock out of sentimental reasons, because you inherited it from a loved one? Are you thinking of buying a stock simply because you enjoy the company’s products? Don’t base your decisions on emotions. Do your homework, and only buy the stocks that make the most financial sense for you. If you are not sure how to work this out, consult with a financial planner.

4. Not taking enough risk. Some people are very cautious by nature, and they would prefer to invest their money with the least risk of loss. Although this might sound prudent because it minimizes the chance of loss, the other side of the equation means that your gains will be limited. Of course, the appropriate level of risk for you depends very much on your personal situation, so speak to your financial adviser about what is appropriate for you.

Keeping these four points in mind should help you avoid some of the most common money mistakes. Don’t make these mistakes, and if you do, visit a qualified Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) for help in fixing them.

ZOA Loses Tax Exemption Status, Will Apply for Reinstatement

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The Zionist Organization of America has lost its 501(c)3 tax exemption status, due to failure to file tax returns for the last three years.

In an interview with JTA, ZOA president Morton Klein confirmed the loss, and stated that his organization has hired a tax attorney to help them bring their files up to date and apply for reinstatement of their status.

According to Klein, the error in filing was due to the failure of a ZOA-funded school in Ashkelon to provide correct information in time, as well as a misunderstanding on the part of the ZOA as to the amount of time it had left to file for an extension.

US State Department Still Refusing to Say Jerusalem Is Capital of Israel

Friday, September 7th, 2012

First we learned that the traditional pro-Israel language affirming that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel was deleted from this year’s Democratic Party Platform.  Then, after waves of negative publicity, the Democrats re-inserted the magic language in a balagan that will be remembered as one of the most chaotic moments in political party convention history, despite the lack of an obvious 2/3s majority.  In less than an hour, Democratic National Committee Chair Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl) was saying, with a straight face, that of course it was the position of this administration, as it always had been, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

And Wasserman Schultz insisted that the position of President Obama has always been that Jerusalem is and always will remain the capital of Israel.  What’s more, she stated in numerous interviews, that it was President Obama who made sure that the language be re-inserted into the platform.  Never mind that Wasserman Schultz has, throughout this campaign, adamantly supported the State Department Spokeswoman and the White House Press Secretary’s refusal to name Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

But we’re not done yet.

Less than 24 hours after the “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel” language was reinserted, this administration has once again shifted course.  In today’s State Department’s daily press conference, the United States officially refuses to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Daily Press Briefings : Daily Press Briefing – September 6, 2012
09/06/2012 04:12 PM EDT
Patrick Ventrell
Acting Deputy Spokesperson Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 6, 2012

TRANSCRIPT:


12:52 p.m. EDT

MR. VENTRELL: Okay, good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department. We have with us some diplomats who are headed out to be spokespeople at some of our embassies overseas, so welcome to the briefing, to all of you. I don’t have anything else, so I’ll turn it over to you.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: On Israel?

MR. VENTRELL: Yeah.

QUESTION: Which city does the U.S. Government recognize as the capital in the – Israel?

MR. VENTRELL: Well, as you know, longstanding Administration policy, both in this Administration and in previous administrations across both parties, is that the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. So that’s longstanding Administration policy and continues to be so.

QUESTION: I mean, no city is recognized as a capital by the U.S. Government?

MR. VENTRELL: Again, I just stated our position, and it’s one we’ve said here many times before.

QUESTION: That means Jerusalem is not a part of Israel?

MR. VENTRELL: What it means is that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved in final status negotiations.

QUESTION: But you do have an Embassy in a city which is not Jerusalem.

MR. VENTRELL: Our Embassy is in Tel Aviv, and we have a Consulate General in Jerusalem.

QUESTION: Right. But I mean, if you have an Embassy, usually it’s in the capital; so therefore, it would appear that you believe that Tel Aviv is the capital.

MR. VENTRELL: What we believe is that the status of Jerusalem should be determined in final status negotiations between the two parties. And currently, our Embassy is in Tel Aviv.

QUESTION: Are there any other countries in the world where the U.S. doesn’t know what the capital is or won’t say what the capital of a country is?

QUESTION: What does the U.S. think the capital of Israel is? What do you –

MR. VENTRELL: As I’ve just said, we believe that the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status –

QUESTION: I’m not asking you that question. I’m asking you what you think the capital is.

MR. VENTRELL: And my response is that Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations.

QUESTION: She didn’t ask about Jerusalem, though.

MR. VENTRELL: Look, this is something we’ve been through at this podium. Toria has been through it before. We’ve repeated it many times. You know that the position is. It hasn’t changed for decades.

QUESTION: Wait, I know that. And I don’t want to play the verbal game, I’m just very curious if you actually have a position about a capital of that country. And if you don’t, if – I just would like to hear you say you don’t.

Eidim Zomimim: Conspiring Witnesses

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

In this week’s parshah the Torah discusses the halachos of eidim zomimim. The Gemara in Makkos 2a explains that eidim zomimim is when one set of two or more witnesses testifies against someone, and another set of witnesses testifies that the first set of witnesses was with them and therefore could not have known their testimony. The Torah says that the later set of witnesses is believed and the testimony of the first set of witnesses is disqualified. If beis din had not yet carried out the verdict that the first set of witnesses intended to impose, the verdict is placed on the first set of witnesses. This is known as kasher zamam v’lo kasher asah. Once the verdict of the first witnesses is carried out the witnesses are not punished.

Generally, one only receives lashes for an aveirah that was performed with an action. The Gemara in Temurah 3a lists three different aveiros that are exceptions to that rule: one who does temurah (attempting to switch kedushah onto another animal); swearing falsely; and cursing one’s fellow with Hashem’s name. Tosafos asks: why did the Gemara not also mention eidim zomimim and motzi shem ra, for which one receives lashes and are also aveiros performed with speech alone and without the performance of any other action? Tosafos’s answer: regarding eidim zomimim and motzi shem ra, the Torah says explicitly that one receives lashes; therefore the Gemara did not need to write this.

The Brisker Rav offers another solution to Tosafos’s question. He suggests that the lashes that eidim zomimim and practitioners of motzi shem ra receive are different than the lashes one receives for transgressing another lav in the Torah. Generally, lashes are administered simply as a punishment for transgressing the lav. Regarding eidim zomimim and motzi shem ra, one does not receive lashes for transgressing the lav since the lav did not have an action associated with it. The lashes are administered as a result of one being an eid zomaim or a motzi shem ra. When one transgresses the lav of eidim zomimim or motzi shem ra he attains a status of an eid zomaim or motzi shem ra, and it is that status that causes him to receive lashes.

This can also be the explanation as to why the Gemara in Kesubos 33a and the Rambam (Hilchos Eidus 18:4) say that eidim zomimim do not require a warning in order to receive their punishment. The reason for this is because their punishment does not directly result from a lav. Since their punishment comes from the status that they attained, they do not need to be warned.

We originally find this concept by the parshah of ben sorer u’moreh. The Rambam (Hilchos Mamrim 7:7) says that a boy’s father and mother must bring him to a beis din of three, then bring witnesses who testify that the boy stole from his father and acquired meat and wine with the money he stole, and ate the items after being warned not to. Beis din then administers lashes to the boy. If he repeats the action (stealing, eating the meat, and drinking the wine), his parents must bring him to a beis din of 23. After hearing testimony from witnesses, beis din must check to see if he has two hairs and that the hairs of his lower beard have not completely grown in. If they have grown in, he is exempt from the laws of ben sorer u’moreh. However, if he has two or more hairs and does not have a complete lower beard, and he is between the age of 13 and 13 and three months, beis din stones him.

The Kesef Mishneh asks why the Rambam did not require that beis din check the boy’s hairs before administering lashes. Why did the Rambam only require him to be checked before killing him?

Additionally, the Gemara in Sanhedrin 78b suggests that the laws of ben sorer u’moreh should apply to a minor. But how can the Gemara entertain the possibility that we punish a minor?

Reb Chaim Soloveitchik, the Brisker Rav’s father, in his sefer on the Rambam, writes that the punishment of the ben sorer u’moreh does not directly result from a punishment for transgressing the lav associated with the ben sorer u’moreh. Rather, when one transgresses that lav he attains the status of a ben sorer u’moreh – and a ben sorer u’moreh receives the punishment of death. This explains how the Gemara could entertain the possibility that a minor could be liable for being a ben sorer u’moreh, since minors are only exempt from punishments of lavim. However, even a minor could be punished for being a ben sorer u’moreh. The lashes that a ben sorer u’moreh receives are also for attaining the status of a ben sorer u’moreh – and not for the lav. Yet all the requirements that must be met (i.e. his age and hairs) are only requirements for the part of his sentence whereby he receives death. The lashes are administered even if those requirements are not met. Therefore, the Rambam did not write that beis din must check him before administering lashes.

Palestinians Way Under The Radar During Romney’s Israel Visit

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

JERUSALEM – Mitt Romney’s policy speech in Israel covered plenty of bases: The presumptive Republican presidential candidate spoke about the status of Jerusalem, the threat of a nuclear Iran, the “tumult” of the Arab Spring and the “enduring shared values” that bedrock the U.S.-Israel relationship.

But there was one topic that gained little attention: Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. The word “Palestinian” did not appear once in the speech on Sunday evening.

Aside from a short meeting with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the status of the Palestinians was basically absent from Romney’s swing through Israel on Sunday and Monday. He did not meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has led the most recent rounds of Israeli-Palestinian talks, and he mentioned support for a two-state solution only briefly at the end of a statement with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Romney’s campaign also canceled a meeting with Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich a few hours in advance. Labor traditionally has been more supportive of negotiations with the Palestinians than the ruling Likud Party.

During the primary campaign, Romney joined his fellow GOP candidates in slamming the Obama administration’s public criticism of Israeli settlement policy. But he also criticized Newt Gingrich’s assertion that the Palestinians were an “invented” people, suggesting that such talk was a “mistake” and “incendiary.”

President Obama’s Israel policy during his first two years focused on an aggressive push for Israeli-Palestinian talks, along with a demand that Israel freeze all settlement construction in the West Bank. Subsequent negotiations stalled, and the demand for a freeze created significant tension between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The Palestinians were the main issue” for Obama, said Shmuel Sandler, a researcher at Israel’s Begin-Sadat Center. Romney, by contrast, “put the emphasis on Iran and Jerusalem. This was a way of differentiating himself from Obama.”

Sandler said that Romney, if elected, would follow four consecutive presidents, of both parties, who led major drives for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Shlomo Brom, a senior research associate at the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies, suggested that despite Romney’s near silence on the Palestinians, he may still follow suit.

“The way people act in elections doesn’t predict what will be afterwards,” Brom said. “Romney doesn’t have a constituency in the United States that’s interested in the subject of the Palestinians.”

But with peace negotiations moribund for nearly two years, Brom said that Romney’s emphasizing the threat of a nuclear Iran and the Arab Spring also accords with what many Israelis see as the two most important issues facing the region.

On Sunday, Romney adviser Dan Senor said that a Romney administration would back a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Though Romney and his aides subsequently appeared to step back from such an outright endorsement of Israeli military action, the Republican candidate did say that Israel has the “right to defend itself” and called denying Iran nuclear weapons “our highest national security priority.”

Romney also called on Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, to keep Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel and admonished Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom he called “no friend to Israel and no friend to America,” for killing his own citizens.

Sandler added that most Israelis at this point “realize that there’s not going to be a peace soon.” He attributed that realization to fundamental gaps between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the status of Palestinian refugees, the fate of Israeli settlement blocs close to the West Bank border and whether eastern Jerusalem will be under Israeli or Palestinian sovereignty.

While Romney mostly kept away from the Palestinian issue in public, in private it did come up. During his Sunday speech at a closed fundraiser, he reportedly credited Israel’s GDP being much higher than that of the Palestinians to “the power of at least culture and a few other things,” including a strong pro-business climate, the travails of overcoming Jewish history’s blows and the “hand of providence.”

Saeb Erakat, a senior aide to Abbas, pounced on the comments.

“It is a racist statement and this man doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation,” he said, according to The Associated Press. Erekat also said it was “absolutely unacceptable” when Romney called Jerusalem “the capital of Israel.”

(JTA)

Fun Video: White House Press Secretary Carney Unable to Utter the Name ‘Jerusalem’

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Watch the video at the end of this story… This is absolutely breath taking, the way a car wreck is, sometime. On Thursday, White House Press Secretary James Carney was asked by a reporter which of the following two cities is recognized by the U.S. as the official capital of Israel: Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv.

What ensued was, possibly, the longest minute in the life of James “Jay” Carney. “I haven’t had that question in awhile,” he said, “Our position has not changed, you know our position,” and was desperately trying to move to the next question.

But the reporter said she didn’t know the answer, which Carney ignored and was about to tap the next reporter in the room, in fact, he was so close to freedom, his face turned away from the pesky questioner, when Lester Kinsolving, bless his angry heart, of the conservative website WND.com, yelled out: “She doesn’t know, that’s why she asked.”

My hero for the day, conservative newsman Lester Kinsolving, cut Carney down a couple inches on Thursday.

My hero for the day, conservative newsman Lester Kinsolving, cut Carney down a couple inches on Thursday.

There’s an index page where the White House press office uploads transcripts of each news briefing, even, as you’ll see, when those take place in mid air. Go there frequently to check for the Thursday, July 26 transcript, because so far it ain’t been uploaded yet.

Man, I would have given a lot to be there, but through the magic of video (published by Alex Ryan) – there it is!

 

Update, Friday afternoon:

The briefing transcript has been uploaded, at last, with a special, italicized intro which, by itself, explains the delay. The Press Office knew that America’s news junkies were going to leap at the document as soon as it came out, and so they had to prepare a statement in response to the embarrassing incident. So, here’s what at the top of the Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 7/26/12:

See below for a follow up to a question (marked with an asterisk) posed in the briefing.

*The status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We continue to work with the parties to resolve this issue and others in a way that is just and fair, and respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.

In other words, they are capable of uttering the word “Jerusalem,” but cannot use it in a sentence that isn’t in officialese.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/media/fun-video-white-house-press-secretary-carney-unable-to-utter-the-name-jerusalem/2012/07/27/

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