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June 29, 2016 / 23 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Time’

Time for a Spiritual Tune-Up

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

A Jew is here on this planet, not only to perform the Torah’s commandments, but also to polish his character traits. Someone who diligently studies Torah and observes the mitzvot with precise exactness, yet who angers easily, is envious of others, stingy with the charity he gives, and depressed most of the day, is going to have a hard time convincing the guard at the gateway to Heaven to let him inside, even if he has learned all of the Talmud twice over. Most likely, he will be sent back down to Earth for another reincarnation, maybe in the form of an alligator, or a tree in a park where people walk their dogs.

Like everything else in Judaism, our Sages have given us explicit directions how to attain the proper character traits and undergo a spiritual tune-up during our visit on Earth. For example, if you look in your prayer book, you will notice that in addition to the list of days and weeks of Sefirat HaOmer, which we are now in the midst of counting, you will see written in tiny letters the character traits that we are to work on each day. For instance, the first day is Chesed of Chesed; the second day is Givorah of Chesed; the third day is Tiferet of Chesed. The fourth day is Nezach of Chesed. Day five is Hod of Chesed. Day six is Yesod of Chesed. And day number seven is Malchut of Chesed. What does this mean?

Our Sages teach that Chesed is related to kindness. Givorah is related to strength. Tiferet is related to the splendor. Netzach is related to victory. Hod is related to praise. Yesod is related to sexual purity. Malchut is related to kingdom, representing the combination of all of these traits. Thus, the first week of the seven-week spiritual rehab until Shavuot is devoted to kindness, when we are called upon to rectify any blemishes we have in the character trait of kindness. Let me give an example: if you give a baby a bottle, and make a big hole in the nipple because you want to be as kind as you can and give the baby a lot of milk at once, your overflowing kindness (Chesed) may cause the baby to choke. On the other hand, if you make a tiny pin hole in the nipple (Givorah), the

baby won’t be able to suck out anything to drink. Thus a balance is needed (Tiferet) by making a hole in the nipple that is neither too big nor too small.

The second week is of Counting the Omer is devoted to rectifying the seven different aspects of Givorah. We continue in this manner, seven weeks times seven traits, for a total of 49 days, which serve as steps up the ladder of holiness, cleansing us of our impurities, so that we are prepared to receive the Torah.

These traits are also called sefirot. The sefirot are the spiritual worlds, or channels, that Hashem uses to bring His light and blessing into the world. To illustrate, imagine a paper cup with its bottom cut out. Let’s say this is a sefirah, or spiritual channel. If you put six of these plastic cups, one inside the other, you have a representation of the six lower sefirot. (The upper sefirot of Chochmah, Binah, and Daat are above our grasp and not included in this counting). The channel of Chesed flows into the channel of Givorah; Givorah into Tiferet; Tiferet into Netzach; Netzach into Hod; and Hod flows into Yesod. Now, put all of these into that last plastic cup without cutting out its bottom. This cup represents the sefirah of Malchut which receives the light and blessing from all of the other sefirot. Our Sages teach that this last cup, in its human embodiment, represents the Kingdom of Israel. Blessings flow into the world via Am Yisrael and then get distributed to the rest of mankind. In its geographical embodiment, this last cup represents the Land of Israel. Hashem’s blessings to the world come down to Eretz Yisrael, and from there they flow to the rest of the globe. Thus, we can understand the importance of all the Jewish People living in the Land of Israel in order for G-d’s blessing to the world to be complete. When the Jewish People are scattered all over the Diaspora, the Kingdom of Israel is shattered, and Hashem’s blessing to the world is shattered with it, not having a vessel to contain His blessings. The Kingdom of Israel only exists when the Jewish People have their own sovereign kingdom in their own Jewish Land. That is why the oft-repeated goal of the Torah, and of the Prophets of Israel, is the call for the Jews to dwell in the Land of Israel,

so that Hashem’s blessing will spill over from the Kingdom of Israel to all of the world.

Now for the few readers who are still with me, the Kabbalah teaches that because man is a microcosm of the universe, these Sefirot have a parallel in each and every one of us. The right arm parallels the sefirah of Chesed; the left arm the sefirah of Givorah; the body the sefirah of Tiferet; the right leg the sefirah of Netzach; the left leg the sefirah of Hod; the organ of the Brit the sefirah of Yesod. Thus, for example, if a person steals something with his right hand, the laser beam he creates strikes the sefirah of Chesed in the world’s spiritual blueprint, damaging the channel of Chesed, and restricting the flow of kindness into the world. With every wrongdoing that we commit, we damage one or more of the channels of Divine blessing. Therefore, in correcting our character traits during the Omer period, we are concurrently rectifying all of the damage we caused in all of the spiritual worlds through our sins.

Now we can understand why the Kabbalists emphasize the importance of the guarding sexual purity. Because the sefirah of Yesod is associated with the organ of the Brit, any sexual wrongdoing damages the channel of Yesod. If you will remember our example of the cups, the blessings from all of the cups flow into the Yesod before reaching our world of Malchut. The Yesod is like the spout of the funnel. Therefore, when we damage the channel of Yesod through sexual wrongdoing, we hinder the flow of blessing. This stunting of blessing leads to disastrous individual and national consequences. On an individual level, sexual transgression can lead to depression, divorce, problems with children, health problems, and other unpleasant things. If sexual misbehavior reaches national proportions, not only is the flow of Divine blessing to the individual severed, Divine blessing is also cut off from the nation, resulting in economic hardship, or a plague of traffic accidents, Intifadas and wars, G-d forbid. This understanding is stressed again and again in the Zohar.

We can see from this brief introduction that the seven weeks of Sefirat HaOmer have cosmic significance. Our Sages tell us that these days are the root of the year. Our behavior during this time determines what will be in the months to come. Someone who cleans up his act now will breeze through Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Since we are here in this world to correct our character traits, this is a propitious time to do some serious t’shuva. This is why we say at the end of our counting this evening:

“Therefore, may it be Your will, L-rd our G-d, and G-d of our fathers, that in the merit of the counting of the Omer that I counted today, the damage I caused to the channel of Nezach of Chesed will be rectified, and I will be purified and sanctified with a transcendental holiness. And that this in turn will cause a great influx of blessing in all of the worlds to rectify our beings, spirits, and souls from every impurity and blemish, to bring an exalted purity and holiness upon us, amen, selah.”

Tzvi Fishman

Egypt is Colorful and Full of Love; Meetings of Conciliation between Muslim and Jew, in Egypt: Part II

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

Dr Omer Salem of Yale and AlAzhar Universities envisions a borderless world open to movement and communication between all peoples. A traditionalist Sunni Muslim, he studied Hebrew Bible at Yale and had his PhD dissertation supervised by Al-Azhar University Professors in Cairo. His thesis – acceptance of the People of the Book in Islam, a theme that is pulling in the opposite direction of the less embracing schools of thought in Islam today, schools which have been propped up of late more by politics than religious doctrine.

In this spirit, Salem invited Rabbi Dr. Yaakov Nagen, Fullbright Scholar Dr. Jospeh Ringel, and myself to meet his colleagues in Egypt. Impossible! My smart aleck retort was, “sure I will catch the next train.” But within two weeks we were on Egyptian soil and in earnest dialogue with some of the best minds of Cairo today. Here is a small glimpse of what we dream will be many more encounters.

Al Azhar University was founded by the Fatimids in the tenth century CE and is the oldest university in the world still functioning. Today it is considered the center of Islamic and Arabic scholarship. The university administers about 4000 teaching institutes and a system of schools with about two million students nation-wide.

Enter the campus, humanity’s stunning variety greets you in the beauty of all its rainbow colors – Indonesians, Africans, black, white, some in western dress, some in traditional garb. This richness accompanied us to professor Awad’s office – an enormous room which over the next two and a half hours would host our marathon discussion, with students and faculty entering and exiting, some participating, some just listening. The atmosphere was respectful and congenial throughout, albeit the discussion veering into some very sensitive subjects.

Before our arrival, we debated an essential question – how can the Muslim ummah – nation – accept Jews? Assuming that the hurdles were largely theological, we discussed the approach that Jews can take to Muhammad; a Navi, prophet, has vastly different connotations in Jewish thought than in Islamic thought. Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik’s essay, “Confrontation” presents an illustration of how essential terms cannot be imported and exported across cultures, indeed, meaning is lost in translation. In Judaism, a Navi can be false and even wicked, as in the case of Bilaam (Book of Numbers). So when Muslims ask Jews, “Do you think Muhammad was a prophet?” the connotations differ vastly. What we can say is that prophecy for the nation of Israel ended with the prophet Malachi, but that does not mean that prophecy stopped for all nations. In the spirit of the Rambam, who dwelled in Egypt as physician and Rabbi, we can appreciate that Muhammad spread monotheism globally, and that he could indeed be a prophet for the other nations of the world.

We would see however that the theological hurdle is in fact not the greatest stumbling block to reconciliation.

“Welcome, welcome!” Dr Awad beckoned, along with staff and students flanking him. The men were removing their shoes, should I? Do women remove their shoes as well? They do, but I can remain shod if I choose. Both equality of women and free choice are basic premises in Islam, the professor would make quite clear. But that is not my emphasis just yet, I have something more important for you to hear.

Professor Awad’s thesis was on the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. He emphasized that dialogue is a primary tenet of Islam. “The Qur’an commands us as Muslims to engage in dialogue to reach truth.” He stated.

“The differences between people are G-d given.” And he quoted, “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. .” Qur’an 49:13. (Arabic: لتعارفوا) Lita’arafu – to know each other. You can respect Islam and the prophet and the Qur’an, without necessarily following the sharia of Islam, and that is your right.”

He added, “There is no coercion in religion,” Qur’an 2:256

“Muslims are commanded to study the teachings of the prophet Moses. For you, learning about Muhammad is merely optional. That is an expression of tolerance inherent in Islam. The Qur’an has provided solutions for so many problems in the world, and it commanded Jews to judge according to their own Torah. This is evidence that the Qur’an is a very neutral, objective book. Jews have a right to study the Qur’an without anyone judging whether they believe in it or not. You are indeed welcome to read it with your good intention.”

Jewish Press contributor, Rebecca Abrahamson in front of Al Azhar University

Jewish Press contributor, Rebecca Abrahamson in front of Al Azhar University

I introduced myself as a Haredi woman, and added that I had traveled with the agreement of my husband and the blessing of my Rabbi. There I had braved it all the way to Egypt, overcoming personal and societal hurdles. I made that statement in order to express a living traditional value and to pave the way for more fundamentalist Muslim and Jewish women to join in social activism. When fundamentalist women act, they move large areas, they bring whole families and societies with them. And we know that we are not docile followers. I love the story from an African-American fundamentalist church in the southern United States, a woman stood up and challenged her preacher, “that’s not written in my Bible!” Fundamentalist women are in dynamic dialogue with their family and leaders. When we act, we actually move large areas of ground.

But I liked the professor’s response:

He looked at me a little sharply, “Women and men are equal. The only difference is she has a right to be provided for.” Then he ticked off her rights on his fingers, “she has freedom of work, dignity, employment, she may divorce, and she does not need her husband’s permission to travel.” I smiled inside.

Then the professor touched upon difficult subjects, and though his tone remained respectful, his passion and concern was evident. Something was irking him, it was clear.

Discovering a Stumbling Block

He wondered at the verse in the Torah that declares Canaan as cursed – where is the justice in that? All have free will, how can anyone be cursed from birth? “Certainly you are accountable for what you do.” (Qur’an 16:93) He wondered why Jews do not proselytize to other nations, is that an uncaring approach? And, with equal passion, Dr Awad questioned how the revelation at Sinai could have been in Hebrew – the Jews had just exited Egypt? This final question was expressed with as much concern as the previous two, though I felt that whatever language was spoken at the time of the Revelation at Sinai was surely less important that wondering if Judaism is discriminatory.

Rabbi Nagen responded – “you have raised the most important questions. My whole life I am searching for answers to these questions. We know that holy books sometimes have verses that seem troubling. For me, the verse that is most important is that all of humanity has one father and is in the image of God. Anything that seems to contradict this puzzles me and we struggle with it. We know that with both Torah, Gospel and Qur’an, people can quote verses to do great good or not good. Our task is to find a way to teach good from the Torah and Qur’an. The question is – what is the rule and what is the exception? What is the context? I read the Qur’an and I know that every sura begins with All-h is Rachman. If I find a verse that seems violent, I know this must be talking about a particular context and it’s not the rule. I have hundreds of students; I interpret the Torah and Talmud. I organized a prayer rally to protest the alleged arson attack in Kfar Dumas. I am part of a group of a thousand Rabbis, we put out a thirty page pamphlet that was read in synagogues that week.”

The professor could not be placated, there was something nagging at him. And then it came out:

“We as Muslims are not asked to judge others; however we cannot accept oppression by one people over another people or making mockery of one over the other.”

So that was it. Agree or disagree, this was the professor’s central concern, and it was echoed in our meetings with Dr Aly El-Samman, former advisor to Anwar Sadat, and with Professor Wagee AlShamy of Dar Oloom College in AlFayoum, a city south of Cairo.

Indeed, Dr Wagee Al-Shamy asked us to proclaim this message – “tell your people: the state of the Palestinian Arabs is of great concern to us. That is the real stumbling block to normalization. Please ease their plight; that will pave the road to better relations between our peoples.”

Agree or disagree, that was the message we heard throughout our trip. So it is not scripture or theology that divides. Negative light is shed upon Judaism when Israel is seen as oppressing its Arab residents. Looking for the cause of the injustice, our scriptures are held up as possibly blameworthy.

But is this not how we feel when presented with injustices wrought by other cultures? Do we not point to the source of an ‘Other’s’ impropriety as based in their basic tenets? As much as what I am saying may sting, and we can certainly feel the call to defend Israel’s need for self defense, or the real meaning of holy writ, we need to consider – if this is what prominent Egyptian Muslims are saying, and even asking us to proclaim this, it does mean that the situation is a lot more hopeful than if stumbling blocks to normalization were scripture and theology.

So what are we to do? Embark on a grand-scale hasbara (explanation) campaign? There are better places we can put our energy; injustices are best addressed, in my husband Ben Abrahamson’s words – by establishing joint Jewish-Islamic religious courts. They existed in Yemen, and they can exist now. This gives both Muslim and Jew a feeling of a common language. Once injustices are addressed in a framework that both sides revere, the view changes. The diamond tossed up to the light reflects various hues, constantly changing as it turns before the sun, yet the diamond remains the same. We do not have to change our very being; we just need to address concerns where all parties are heard in the language they revere the most.

“Show me the fatwa.”

Ben was once speaking to a sheikh who was criticizing Israel. Ben said simply, “show me the fatwa.” Instead of relying on media reporting, Ben challenged the sheikh to find an Islamic court which has investigated an allegation of injustice and issued a fatwa – ruling. Knowing of none, they both relaxed and fruitful discussion followed.

The best hasbara campaign to defend Israel and Judaism will never really be enough; there is not the trust and common language needed for such efforts. The gap can be bridged not via hasbara, which is likely to fall upon deaf ears, but via joint courts. Joint Jewish-Islamic courts will succeed in striving for justice, trust building, and an expanded narrative that finally will include all residents of the Holy Land. It will be a huge relief to us all.

We had been welcomed by the professors at AlAzhar in warmth and parted with love and hopes of future dialogue. Yes, things can get rocky in discussion, but if you believe that the Other is coming from an honest place, then only the late hour and weariness born from a marathon conversation brings it to a close.

And we will work for more such encounters. We must.

(Left) Rabbi Yaakov Nagen with Dr Joseph Ringel,

(Left) Rabbi Yaakov Nagen with Dr Joseph
Ringel,

Rebecca Abrahamson

It’s time for a Palestinian State

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s blog, Sultan Knish}

A Palestinian state has never existed during any period in human history. Let’s change that.

The United States has spent billions of dollars trying to create a Palestinian state. It’s time that we finally got our money’s worth.

We’ve been putting money in the broken Palestinian slot machine in the metaphorical Palestinian casino (the real one was shot up when terrorists turned it into a base) for decades. It’s time to finally get our Palestinian jackpot.

But to make it happen, we need to be realistic.

Forget the peace process. Forget negotiations. They’ve never worked before. They’re not going to now. And there’s nothing to negotiate anyway.

There are almost a million Jews living on territory claimed by the PLO. Removing them would be the single greatest act of ethnic cleansing against an indigenous population today. It would also be impossible.

But the same people who insist that the United States, a country of 318 million, can’t deport 11 million illegal aliens, think that Israel will somehow deport 1/8th of its own population if they just chant loudly enough about “occupation” outside Jewish businesses in London or San Francisco.

Ethnically cleansing 8,000 Jews from Gaza/Gush Katif led to nationwide civil disobedience, riots and, eventually, the fall of a political party and three straight terms for Prime Minister Netanyahu. Now imagine trying to deport 800,000 people from their homes simply because they’re Jewish.

And it wouldn’t just be the Jews alone being rounded up into trucks, buses and maybe boxcars.

52 percent of Arabs in East Jerusalem would rather be Israeli citizens than live under the PLO. Are we support to deport 100,000 Arabs from Jerusalem to make way for this imaginary “Palestinian” state?

How much ethnic cleansing do we have to do to make the Islamic colonial fantasy of Palestine real? It’s not going to happen.

Let’s create a real Palestinian state instead. And I don’t mean the PLO’s President for Life Mahmoud Abbas going down to the UN to give another speech. Abbas is on his 11th year of a 4-year term. The US spent $4.5 billion promoting “Palestinian democracy” and the last PLO election was ten years ago.

Hamas won. It would win today all over again.

Current polling shows that 2/3 of “Palestinians” want Abbas to resign. Abbas has no political authority to form a Palestinian state, a Palestinian shawarma stand or a Palestinian anything.

If there’s going to be a Palestinian state, it has to be based on the will of the people. That means it will be a Hamas state. A Palestinian state that is not based on the will of its people has no legitimacy. The only legitimate Palestinian state is therefore a Hamas terror state.

And that’s the only kind of state you can have when 2/3 of “Palestinians” support stabbing Israeli civilians, 89% want to live under an Islamic State run by Sharia law, 84% want to stone adulterers to death and 66% support killing any Muslim who leaves Islam.

Only an Islamic terror state can truly represent the homicidal aspirations of the Palestinian people. Is this some sort of sick joke? Yes it is. But it’s not my sick joke. It’s the sick joke that is Palestine. Now let’s begin the process of turning this sick twisted joke into its own state.

The first thing to do is dismantle the UNRWA, a UN agency specifically dedicated to catering to “Palestinians”. The UNRWA is one of the key elements of the Palestinian welfare state. And the US kicks in around $300 million to the organization which fulfills many of the functions of a state. But a state doesn’t need its own refugee agency. And a Hamas terror state doesn’t need a further $350 million dollars in US foreign aid to promote “democracy” and improve its infrastructure and institutions.

This is going to be a problem because the imaginary Palestinian state also has a fantasy economy. The largest employer in the Palestinian Authority is the Palestinian Authority. Most of its money comes from America, Europe, Israel and, for some inconceivable reason, Japan.

The terror state gets its electricity from Israel. It gets its water and internet through Israel. So let’s get a clear look at what a real Palestinian state would look like. It would be Gaza writ large. But without the UNRWA and the rest of the NGOs lining up to provide jobs and social services. It would be an “open air prison”, as anti-Israel activists screech of Gaza, but a prison created and maintained by the inmates. It would be constantly at war with Israel and the rest of the world.

The way it is now.

The economy will be a thinly disguised feudal system of Islamists with engineering degrees in mansions paying starvation wages to laborers to harvest olives to be shipped to China. There will be shopping malls for some and little shacks on the edges full of smugglers, drug labs and brothels for everyone else.

That’s the Islamist dream.

Palestine’s political system will consist of Hamas and more Hamas. Or maybe once the Hamas alliance with ISIS in the Sinai lapses, there will finally be a democratic election between Hamas and ISIS to decide just how horrible of a place the misshapen slices of Gaza and the West Bank under terrorist occupation will become. Nothing will function except the religious police and the gallows in the dusty squares.

There will be wars every two years. That will be just long enough to rebuild the hospitals, mosques and schools that were being used as launch sites in the last wars. In between the big wars, the terrorist groups, Hamas factions, ISIS, Islamic Jihad and anybody else, will fight each other in the streets.

It will be glorious.

Imagine the last few decades of terror, bombings, missile strikes, firefights, corruption, thievery and utter dysfunction made into a permanent state of affairs. That’s Palestine. That’s the two-state solution. Just don’t ask what it solves except the Middle East’s severe shortage of terrorist states and terrorists.

If you will it, it is no dream. This nightmare already exists and it can be a real country. It already has an anthem, a flag, no elections and no reason to exist except killing everyone else. It’s a foreign aid funded ISIS with more olive harvests and a more robust campus presence.

Everyone talks about creating a Palestinian state, but no one actually wants to do it.

It’s time for Palestine to stop being a pipe dream full of pipe bombs that we spend billions of dollars on. Just pull out a seat at the UN, hold democratic elections and then step away from the explosions.

A real two-state solution is just that simple. And it can happen tomorrow.

Let’s stop fantasizing about peace. Peace and Palestine go together like oil and water. This is what a real Palestinian state would look like. And the moment it comes into being, any possibility of peace dies.

Daniel Greenfield

Don’t Forget to Change the Clocks in Israel!

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

This Thursday night (yes, on Purim) Israel officially moves to “summer time,” by moving the clock forward one hour. (Remember that old adage, ‘spring forward, fall back …’)

Thursday night before going to sleep, don’t forget to move your clock forward an hour. (For those who have had an exceptionally wonderful Purim, make sure your ‘designated driver’ is handling the clock.)

You’ll lose an hour’s sleep, but at least it will be a brighter day by the time you roll out of bed!

Israel returns to standard time on October 30, 2016.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Israel Turns Back the Clocks Tonight; Six-Hour Time Difference from NY

Saturday, October 24th, 2015

Israel goes on Standard Time, known as “winter time” in Israel, at 2 a.m. Sunday morning, which means the time difference from New York will be only six hours.

The usual seven-hour time difference will return next Sunday, November 1, when the United States goes off Daylight Time and turns back the clocks at 2 a.m.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

TIME Includes Jerusalem in Top 10 World’s Best Cities

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Jerusalem has made the grade in TIME Magazine’s “10 Best Cities to Visit Around the World.”

The list, published on July 10, places Kyoto, Japan in the Number 1 spot for a second year.

Also listed are “Italy’s classic crowd-pleasers,” Florence and Rome, both appearing “for ten consecutive years,” the magazine noted.

Surprisingly, the only U.S. city to make the cut was Charleston, South Carolina, which was said to have “suffered greatly since the polls closed.”

Jerusalem, which squeaked in at Number 10, in the same paragraph, was described as “the controversial capital of Israel” at the “crux of an ancient and ongoing conflict.”

Also in that paragraph was Bangkok, “likely bumped from the list in 2012 due to governmental unrest.”

All three were described as cities that appeared “despite political and social turmoil.” The magazine noted that cities are a ‘great convergence of people and ideas” where sometimes it is inevitable that conflict may arise.

“So we keep these cities, and their people, in our thoughts while we celebrate their resilience and their virtues,” commented TIME.

Hana Levi Julian

Defense Minister Ya’alon: Assad Has Lost Control

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Against the background of the gas attack in Syria and the reports about hundreds of victims, perhaps more than a thousand, Israeli Defense Minister and former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon said on Wednesday that “the Syrian regime has lost control over the country, is present only in about 40 percent of its territory and is finding it difficult to subdue to opposition forces.”

Speaking at a ceremony welcoming the new Jewish year at the defense ministry compound in downtown Tel Aviv, Ya’alon said that “for some time now this has not been an internal Syrian conflict. We decided not to intervene in this conflict, but we drew red lines to make sure our interests are not harmed.

The defense minister expressed skepticism about the ending of the war in Syria. “We don’t envision the end of this situation, since even the toppling of Assad won’t bring about a conclusion. There are many open, bloody accounts yet to be settled by the various elements.”

“It’s a conflict that has turned global, with one axis receiving support from Russia and the other bein helped by the U.S. and Europe. Lebanon is connected to the massive Iranian support and therefore the war has been dripping into its territory as well. Inside Lebanon there are focal points of confrontation as well. But, generally speaking, the borders are peaceful and we are watching to make sure the cannons are not trained on us,” Ya’alon said.

According to rebel sources in Syria, the number of dead as a result of the chemical gas attack on a suburb of Damascus has topped 1,300, including women and children. The rebels are claiming this was a massacre of innocent civilians, who were hurt by poison gas in the area of the Guta camp, a rebel held spot outside Damascus.

A Syrian government spokesperson has said in response that those claims are unfounded, and are intended to sabotage the work of the UN inspectors who have just arrived in Syria to investigate earlier reports of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army.

Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, head of the 20-member inspection team, told news agency TT that he finds the reports of such a high number of casualties suspicious.

“It sounds like something that should be looked into,” he told TT over the phone from Damascus. “It will depend on whether any UN member state goes to the secretary general and says we should look at this event. We are in place.”

Minister Ya’alon referred to situation in Egypt as well, saying there has been relative quiet on the Israeli border with Egypt, but noted that extremist elements like the World Jihad will attempt to destabilize the border.

He warned against the recent developments in the Sinai, such as the execution by Islamist terrorists of 25 Egyptian policemen, spilling over into Israel.

“Over the past week, the Sinai border has been the hottest, and it obliges us to realign for it.”

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/defense-minister-yaalon-assad-has-lost-control/2013/08/21/

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