web analytics
September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘USA’

Iran: What Will Germany Do Now?

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

A turning point has been reached that challenges the reigning paradigm of German-Iranian relations.

There are sentences that can trigger wars. Among them is this sentence from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report on Iran of 8 November 2011: “The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”

Contrary to prior assumptions, Iran continued pursuing its nuclear weapons program after 2003. The regime has been conducting research into the conversion of uranium metal into a form usable in warheads, working on the complex detonating mechanisms for nuclear bombs and making preparations for a nuclear test.

Admittedly, since 1945 the world has got used to living with the idea of nuclear weapons in the hands of secular or semi-secular states. But why is Iran determined to push forward with its nuclear program at absolutely any price?

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad answered this question in August 2007: “The nuclearization of Iran is the beginning of a fundamental change in the world”. Iran’s nuclear technology, he went on to promise, would “be used in the service of those who are determined to resist the brutal powers and aggressors.”

These remarks show that the Iranian President does not consider Iran’s nuclear weapons program to be defensive in intent. It is also clear that Iran is ready to pass on its nuclear capabilities to other regimes and movements. There is, moreover, absolutely no doubt about where the “fundamental change” is to begin: “The Zionist regime will be erased and humanity will be liberated”, Ahmadinejad promised the audience at the 2006 Holocaust denial conference in Teheran.

Furthermore, once Iran’s revolutionary leader has the bomb, it will be difficult to disarm him and deprive him of his power without this bomb being used. The world would then have to decide whether to make further concessions to a fanatical regime or defeat it – now at an inconceivably high price.

The small disaster is approaching

So there are sentences that can trigger wars. The above-quoted sentence has brought the moment when American and/or Israeli jets take off to destroy Iran’s nuclear sites menacingly close. The small disaster intended to ward off the great one is approaching.

Is it going to happen or will the international community summon up the will to use all the non-military instruments envisaged by the UN Charter to bring regimes such as the one in power in Iran to see reason? According to Article 41 of the Charter, such measures include “complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations”.

At the moment, apparently not. On the contrary, the sextet of the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany initially entrusted with tackling the Iran issue is less united than ever.

On the one side are China and Russia. They seem reconciled to the Iranian bomb and reject increased pressure on Iran. According to a recent study from the Washington-based Atlantic Council, “China does not feel threatened by the prospect of a nuclear weapons-capable Iran. … Some elements in the Chinese defense establishment would actually prefer a nuclear Iran … if that compels the United States to retain substantial military forces in the Gulf rather than East Asia.” Similar considerations may also be at work in the Kremlin.

On the other side are the UK, France and the USA. Last Monday they sharply stepped up their pressure on Teheran. On 21 November the USA reinforced its sanctions against the Iranian oil and petrochemical industries. On the same day France called for an end to purchases of Iranian oil and a freeze on all Iranian Central Bank assets and the UK suspended all financial cooperation with Iran with immediate effect.

That leaves Germany, which seems to be treading water midway between these two positions. In Germany’s Foreign Office, it is being said that the Western proposals “are heading in the right direction”, but must first be “intensively studied”.

The spokesperson for the Social Democrats’ Bundestag group, Rolf Mützenich, even sounded a note of disappointment, finding it “regrettable that individual governments are going ahead with further sanctions on Iran.” We have heard no specific proposals responding to the deepening of the crisis.

The German government, however, has the power to tip the scales. Will it come down on the side of Israel or Iran?

Germany as the founder of Persian industry

Back in the 1920s, Persia was ruled by a man who adored the Germans: Reza Shah. He arranged for 70 German officials to run the Iranian State Bank. He ensured that all the machinery for Iran’s mining, cement, paper, textile and other industries came from Germany. This process reached its climax at the beginning of the 1940s, when 43% of all Iranian imports came from Germany and 47% of all Iranian exports went in the opposite direction.

Gift Wars – December 2011

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Welcome once again to “You’re Asking Me?” It’s pretty much like your typical ask the expert column, with one minor difference (if you want to get technical): I’m not an expert on anything.  Just ask my wife.  A lot of these “experts” kind of talk to you like they know more than you, just because maybe they do.  Is that the type of person you want to ask?  Or would you rather vent in the general direction of someone whose life is just as messed up as yours, and won’t judge you, unless your question is really weird?

We’ll start off today with a really weird question that someone sent in, although I would never say so to his face.

 

Dear Mordechai,

            I was at Kosherfest (a kosher-food trade show) last month, trying and tasting kosher products, but I couldn’t find a single wig on display.  Are wigs kosher?

JB, Brooklyn, USA  

Dear J,

Thanks for your question, and thanks for telling me which country Brooklyn is in.

Yes, wigs are definitely kosher, if by “kosher” you mean “a Jewish thing”.  In the Goyish world, wigs and toupees are extremely socially awkward.  In fact, if you work in an office with a lot of Goyim, at some point they’re going to talk about it behind your back:

“Um…  Is she wearing a wig?  I don’t want to say anything.”

“Quiet!  She’s right there!”

“I mean it!  Is she bald, do you think?”

“I don’t know.  I’m pretty sure that’s a ponytail bump in the back there.”

“You think that’s weird?  That other guy is wearing a potholder on his head!  With his name on it!”

Ok, don’t look at me like that.  Every guy has, at some point, used his yarmulke to hold a pot or unscrew a light bulb or take something out of a toaster, or open a pickle jar.  (Okay, that last one is just ridiculous.)  Mostly it’s yeshiva guys that do this, because even if they remembered, when they bought food, that they also needed to buy a pot, there’s no way they remembered to buy something to hold it with.  They didn’t even buy something to stir what they were cooking, and have been using a series of rapidly-melting plastic forks.

Come to think of it, even if you’ve never used your yarmulka for this, it would actually be a great use for that pile of old yarmulkas under your bed.  You can just keep them in your kitchen drawers.  You already have your old undershirts under the sink for polishing silver, and your kids are using your old Shabbos shirts as smocks.  Pretty soon the entire house will be covered in Totty clothes.

And no, I don’t know what to do with old sheitels, weird swimming-pool pranks notwithstanding.  But if you think I’m going to answer the question you were really asking back there, you’re crazier than I am.

 

Dear Mordechai,

            What is the most unfortunate item you’ve ever gotten as a housewarming gift?

AS, Philadephia  

Dear A,

A houseplant.  Especially since I have kids.  I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but it’s basically like getting a big pot of dirt to keep in the house until it tips over.  Like there’s not enough dirt in my house. 

“No!  There’s also leaves!”

People like getting each other houseplants as housewarming gifts, because it has the word “house” right in the name.  But my feeling is that if Hashem wanted plants to grow inside, He would have planted them inside, like He does at the mall.  The only way to keep plants alive inside is to make them think that they’re outside – to keep them huddled up against a window, remember to open that shade every day AND NOT SPILL THE DIRT.  And that’s besides the fact that the average person can only remember to feed either his kids OR his plants.  Not both.  And the kids make noise when they’re hungry.  So it’s not looking good for the plants.

Seriously, though?  The only people I know that have successfully kept houseplants alive have decent-sized houses with lots of windows and no kids living at home.  Having a house full of plants is the socially acceptable alternative to having 27 cats.

 

Dear Mordechai,

            I have a sibling who I never really got along with, but now that we’re both grown up and have kids, I would like to show her that I’m an adult now.  What should I get her for Chanukah?

LR, Maryland  

Dear L,

A houseplant.  Especially if she doesn’t have a house.  You can tell her it’s an “apartment plant.”  Come to think of it, you can just bring her a pot of dirt and tell her there’s something planted in it, even though there isn’t.

Another Capitulation

Monday, November 14th, 2011

We have now lived in Israel for more years than we lived in the USA, and our joy in living in Israel knows no bounds. We are living in our homeland with our people. We loved America and are proud to be American citizens, but Israel is our home. We strive each day to keep our focus on the wonderful things that life in Israel offers. We are happy that Israel and the USA are allies and help each other. Unfortunately, we are often upset and concerned by the political situation and by the attitude of the world to the Jews.

 

Israel has again been forced to make a major concession to the Arabs. The building of new structures in our community will be halted for the next 10 months (as is all building in Judea and Samaria). The Arabs have made no pledges in return. Nothing. They have not even pledged to stop murdering Jews, and they are complaining that the building freeze is not enough. These “moderate” Arabs want more before they will even sit down to talk to us. We wonder what value any agreement with “moderate” Abu Mazen would have.

 

The main factions among the Palestinian Arabs are the “moderate” PLO terrorists and the violent Hamas terrorists. The world wants us to capitulate to Abu Mazen, but Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and much of Judea and Samaria, has declared that the “moderates” may not negotiate in its name and that it will not be bound by any agreements.

 

Why stop building in Judea and Samaria just because a new U.S. President wants us to? Few Jews seem to wonder how the president can, on one hand, send in thousands of new troops to Afghanistan, while demanding that Jews negotiate with the Palestinian Arabs. America’s forced rule over countries like Afghanistan and Iraq are OK because it is in America’s interest. America can invade, rule and send more troops to kill the local population and, I guess that is reasonable, even though the Afghanis are not murdering American civilians. Yet, in America’s view, Israel must negotiate with the murderers of local Jewish civilians and may not send in troops to kill the terrorists.

 

If we must negotiate with terrorists whose main manifesto is to murder Jews and throw us into the sea, why doesn’t the president of the USA not sit down and negotiate with the Afghanis and Iraqis?  Why sacrifice American servicemen/women for these Arab terrorist countries? Let them kill each other if that is what they want. How can the president, in good conscience, send more troops to murder locals in one sector of the Middle East, while forcing Israel to negotiate with the terrorists in its sector? Sorry, Mr. President, despite all of our respect for America, you must realize that it is impossible to negotiate with Arab terrorists.

 

Unfortunately, Israeli leaders feel that they must capitulate to incredible demands from Hamas terrorists. There is little long-range planning or thinking on the part of Israeli politicians. Israel has captured hundreds of terrorists, some before they murdered Jews, some after. The Arabs have kidnapped one soldier, Gilad Shalit. In return for this one kidnapped soldier, the terrorists are demanding the freeing of hundreds of their fellow terrorists. If the Arabs had, G-d forbid, kidnapped one of my children, I would be doing exactly what the Shalit family is doing. I would demand that Israel free all of the terrorist prisoners so that my child would be freed. Like the Shalit family, I would speak to every world politician willing to hear me out, to solicit his or her help to free my child. No price would be too high to pay.

Which Nusach Should One Use?

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Question: What should a person who davens nusach ashkenaz do during kedushah in a shul that davens nusach sefard? Should he use his own nusach or that of the shul he’s in?

Response: This issue is a matter of debate between HaRav Ovadya Yosef, shlita, and HaRav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l.

HaRav Ovadya Yosef  (Yabia Omer, VI, siman 10:4) contends that during the silent recitation of kedushah, a person whose minhag is nusach sefard may recite the kedushah according to his minhag even though he may be davening in a synagogue that is nusach ashkenaz. His logic is that since he is not the shliach tzibbur and is davening silently, there is no halachic mandate to alter his personal nusach. (See Maishiv Davar [Netziv], siman 17, who rules that in silent tefillot it is prohibited to deviate from the nusach of one’s family.)

HaRav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l (Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayyim II, siman 23),   disagrees. His position is that the obligation to say kedushah is generated by the tzibbur for there is no obligation to recite kedushah when davening alone. Accordingly, even a silent recitation must be in accordance with the nusach of the tzibbur that enabled kedushah to be said. The silent shmoneh esrei, however, may be recited according to one’s own nusach since the obligation to say shmoneh esrei is not dependent on the tzibbur.

Both Rav Yosef and Rav Feinstein agree that any public recitation of a shliach tzibbur should follow the nusach of the tzibbur.

What confuses the matter is that in Israel a number of minyanim don’t follow any set nusach. Rather they follow the nusach of whoever happens to be the shliach tzibbur that day. The Mizrachi Kehilla in Melbourne, Australia once had such a custom. This, however, generated numerous problems. The community thus took a vote to select a nusach (nusach ashkenaz was chosen) and all shlichei tzibbur were mandated to use it henceforth.

I’m sorry to say that here in the USA this preference for a dual standard still exists. One of our members in Florida, a rav, served as shliach tzibbur and davened nusach Sefard in our shul which is nusach ashkenaz. When requested to daven using nusach ashkenaz, he replied that he was given a psak that he had the right to daven in any nusach he desired. My response was that in other synagogues he may so practice, but in our synagogue he had to use nusach ashkenaz in order to be the shliach tzibbur. He capitulated. At no time was I told the name of the posek who gave him this advice.

New Kosher Wines For The New Year

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Several new wines have arrived stateside just in time for Sukkot.

 

There are so many wonderful things about wine. People have different palates and, therefore, prefer different wines. Each new year brings a new vintage of wines, giving the wine lover an opportunity to taste the latest version of their favorite wine. But among the most exciting occurrences for any wine lover is sampling a brand new wine.

 

5771 is here and with it arrive new wines from Australia, Italy, France and, of course, Israel, not to mention California in the USA.

 

Australia is famous for their Shiraz (elsewhere often known as Syrah). Yet for many years the kosher varieties of Shiraz available in the U.S. have typically been “value” wines, those that are nice table wines but do not quite qualify as premium and rarely garner high scores from the critics. Harkham winery is looking to change that with their Harkham Shiraz, new to the U.S. market. Keep your eyes out for this densely colored, with rich fruity and spice flavors in the bottle with the slick black and silver label.

 

 Italy has a long history of making great wines, especially wines that go well with food. Despite this history, only a few of the best kosher Italian wines have ever found their way to the USA. Recently, however, new wineries have been contracted to produce kosher wines and the results have been clean, fresh and affordable wines that wonderfully complement cuisine.

 

 Recently released for the first time is the Ovadia line of Italian wines. The Ovadia Chianti, priced at about $15 is a very nice example of an Italian village wine. The Ovadia Barbera d’Alba is a few dollars more and has appealing berry notes. Finally, the Ovadia Morellino di Scansano presents a wine from a lesser-known region that with its juicy fruit and fresh acidity is a great complement to meat, chicken or fish.

 

When people think of French wines the great Bordeaux usually come to mind. There is certainly no shortage of great red wines hailing from France, but sometimes an unexpected pleasure can be derived from wine from an unexpected source. In this case, from the Rhone region of France comes the Beaumes de Venise Muscat, a white wine that adds complexity and food friendliness to your everyday Moscato. Its balance between sweetness and acidity make the Beaumes de Venise a great pairing for salad, gefilte fish or even spicy food such as Moroccan fish or Chinese food. It of course can also be enjoyed with or in place of dessert.

 

Israel has been a prime player in the quality kosher wine revolution. But most of the best Israeli wines have been Cabernet Sauvignon based wines. While “Cab is king,” a little variety is always nice. Domaine Netofa is a new winery founded by the traveling kosher winemaker Pierre Miodownick. The first wine released by Netofa is a blend of Syrah and Mourvedre – a fruity, food friendly winner. Rose’ is a great Sukkos wine, given that is has the flavors to hold up to lots of food and is intended to be served chilled – perfect for an afternoon in the sukkah.

 

From the Yogev line is the new Malbec/Carignan Rose’ with its deep pink color and expressive notes of red berries and lavender. Barkan has released a new blend, the Barkan Classic Merlot/Argaman. Argaman is indigenous to Israel and Israeli vintners are figuring out the best way to use the grape. This is a medium bodied blend and a welcome addition to the well-priced Barkan Classic line. Finally Shiloh, a boutique winery that has previously released the cult favorite “Secret” Cabernet, come two new 100 percent varietal wines. The Shiloh Barbera has expressive fruit and a mouth-watering acidity while the Shiloh Petite Sirah is a dark wine with gripping tannins and a full body.

 

Not to be left out of the New Wine Party, California wineries are also constantly looking to keep “Cali”wine lovers happy with new and exciting products. Recently released is the Baron Herzog Pinot Grigio, Herzog Wine Cellars answer to the easy drinking white wine made famous in Italy. My sources tell me, however, that many new exciting wines are on the horizon as Herzog Reserve is getting ready to add to its already impressive line of premium wines with a new To Kalon wine from Sonoma’s famed Trestle Glen Vineyard, and a wine from Napa’s famed Mount Veeder.

 

            Whatever the country and no matter the grape, this Yom Tov season make sure to take advantage of the bounty of new wines available on the market. Your taste buds won’t be disappointed.

 

Gary Landsman, aka the “Wine Tasting Guy,” makes, sells, writes about and, of course, tastes wine. He is presently doing PR/marketing for Royal Wine. You can contact him with any wine-related question at gary@winetastingguy.com.

New Kosher Wines For The New Year

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Several new wines have arrived stateside just in time for Sukkot.

 

There are so many wonderful things about wine. People have different palates and, therefore, prefer different wines. Each new year brings a new vintage of wines, giving the wine lover an opportunity to taste the latest version of their favorite wine. But among the most exciting occurrences for any wine lover is sampling a brand new wine.

 

5771 is here and with it arrive new wines from Australia, Italy, France and, of course, Israel, not to mention California in the USA.

 

Australia is famous for their Shiraz (elsewhere often known as Syrah). Yet for many years the kosher varieties of Shiraz available in the U.S. have typically been “value” wines, those that are nice table wines but do not quite qualify as premium and rarely garner high scores from the critics. Harkham winery is looking to change that with their Harkham Shiraz, new to the U.S. market. Keep your eyes out for this densely colored, with rich fruity and spice flavors in the bottle with the slick black and silver label.

 

 Italy has a long history of making great wines, especially wines that go well with food. Despite this history, only a few of the best kosher Italian wines have ever found their way to the USA. Recently, however, new wineries have been contracted to produce kosher wines and the results have been clean, fresh and affordable wines that wonderfully complement cuisine.

 

 Recently released for the first time is the Ovadia line of Italian wines. The Ovadia Chianti, priced at about $15 is a very nice example of an Italian village wine. The Ovadia Barbera d’Alba is a few dollars more and has appealing berry notes. Finally, the Ovadia Morellino di Scansano presents a wine from a lesser-known region that with its juicy fruit and fresh acidity is a great complement to meat, chicken or fish.

 

When people think of French wines the great Bordeaux usually come to mind. There is certainly no shortage of great red wines hailing from France, but sometimes an unexpected pleasure can be derived from wine from an unexpected source. In this case, from the Rhone region of France comes the Beaumes de Venise Muscat, a white wine that adds complexity and food friendliness to your everyday Moscato. Its balance between sweetness and acidity make the Beaumes de Venise a great pairing for salad, gefilte fish or even spicy food such as Moroccan fish or Chinese food. It of course can also be enjoyed with or in place of dessert.

 

Israel has been a prime player in the quality kosher wine revolution. But most of the best Israeli wines have been Cabernet Sauvignon based wines. While “Cab is king,” a little variety is always nice. Domaine Netofa is a new winery founded by the traveling kosher winemaker Pierre Miodownick. The first wine released by Netofa is a blend of Syrah and Mourvedre – a fruity, food friendly winner. Rose’ is a great Sukkos wine, given that is has the flavors to hold up to lots of food and is intended to be served chilled – perfect for an afternoon in the sukkah.

 

From the Yogev line is the new Malbec/Carignan Rose’ with its deep pink color and expressive notes of red berries and lavender. Barkan has released a new blend, the Barkan Classic Merlot/Argaman. Argaman is indigenous to Israel and Israeli vintners are figuring out the best way to use the grape. This is a medium bodied blend and a welcome addition to the well-priced Barkan Classic line. Finally Shiloh, a boutique winery that has previously released the cult favorite “Secret” Cabernet, come two new 100 percent varietal wines. The Shiloh Barbera has expressive fruit and a mouth-watering acidity while the Shiloh Petite Sirah is a dark wine with gripping tannins and a full body.

 

Not to be left out of the New Wine Party, California wineries are also constantly looking to keep “Caliwine lovers happy with new and exciting products. Recently released is the Baron Herzog Pinot Grigio, Herzog Wine Cellars answer to the easy drinking white wine made famous in Italy. My sources tell me, however, that many new exciting wines are on the horizon as Herzog Reserve is getting ready to add to its already impressive line of premium wines with a new To Kalon wine from Sonoma’s famed Trestle Glen Vineyard, and a wine from Napa’s famed Mount Veeder.

 

            Whatever the country and no matter the grape, this Yom Tov season make sure to take advantage of the bounty of new wines available on the market. Your taste buds won’t be disappointed.


 


Gary Landsman, aka the “Wine Tasting Guy,” makes, sells, writes about and, of course, tastes wine. He is presently doing PR/marketing for Royal Wine. You can contact him with any wine-related question at gary@winetastingguy.com.

Another Capitulation

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

    We have now lived in Israel for more years than we lived in the USA, and our joy in living in Israel knows no bounds. We are living in our homeland with our people. We loved America and are proud to be American citizens, but Israel is our home. We strive each day to keep our focus on the wonderful things that life in Israel offers. We are happy that Israel and the USA are allies and help each other. Unfortunately, we are often upset and concerned by the political situation and by the attitude of the world to the Jews.

 

    Israel has again been forced to make a major concession to the Arabs. The building of new structures in our community will be halted for the next 10 months (as is all building in Judea and Samaria). The Arabs have made no pledges in return. Nothing. They have not even pledged to stop murdering Jews, and they are complaining that the building freeze is not enough. These “moderate” Arabs want more before they will even sit down to talk to us. We wonder what value any agreement with “moderate” Abu Mazen would have.

 

    The main factions among the Palestinian Arabs are the “moderate” PLO terrorists and the violent Hamas terrorists. The world wants us to capitulate to Abu Mazen, but Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and much of Judea and Samaria, has declared that the “moderates” may not negotiate in its name and that it will not be bound by any agreements.

 

    Why stop building in Judea and Samaria just because a new U.S. President wants us to? Few Jews seem to wonder how the president can, on one hand, send in thousands of new troops to Afghanistan, while demanding that Jews negotiate with the Palestinian Arabs. America’s forced rule over countries like Afghanistan and Iraq are OK because it is in America’s interest. America can invade, rule and send more troops to kill the local population and, I guess that is reasonable, even though the Afghanis are not murdering American civilians. Yet, in America’s view, Israel must negotiate with the murderers of local Jewish civilians and may not send in troops to kill the terrorists.

 

    If we must negotiate with terrorists whose main manifesto is to murder Jews and throw us into the sea, why doesn’t the president of the USA not sit down and negotiate with the Afghanis and Iraqis?  Why sacrifice American servicemen/women for these Arab terrorist countries? Let them kill each other if that is what they want. How can the president, in good conscience, send more troops to murder locals in one sector of the Middle East, while forcing Israel to negotiate with the terrorists in its sector? Sorry, Mr. President, despite all of our respect for America, you must realize that it is impossible to negotiate with Arab terrorists.

 

    Unfortunately, Israeli leaders feel that they must capitulate to incredible demands from Hamas terrorists. There is little long-range planning or thinking on the part of Israeli politicians. Israel has captured hundreds of terrorists, some before they murdered Jews, some after. The Arabs have kidnapped one soldier, Gilad Shalit. In return for this one kidnapped soldier, the terrorists are demanding the freeing of hundreds of their fellow terrorists. If the Arabs had, G-d forbid, kidnapped one of my children, I would be doing exactly what the Shalit family is doing. I would demand that Israel free all of the terrorist prisoners so that my child would be freed. Like the Shalit family, I would speak to every world politician willing to hear me out, to solicit his or her help to free my child. No price would be too high to pay.

 

    But the prime minister of Israel and his political cabinet are responsible for weighing the long-range situation. How many Jews will be murdered by the freed terrorists, or by those Arabs, who will understand that even if they commit acts of terror they will be freed when their friends kidnap another Jew? It is sad that the Israeli Government is considering freeing terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands. How many will suffer because of this capitulation?

 

    May the coming Chanukah holiday bring another miracle in freeing Gilad Shalit without having to free even one terrorist, and may the light of peace come to our country and to the world.

 

    Chanukah Sameach!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/another-capitulation-2/2009/12/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: