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December 3, 2016 / 3 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘words’

What is There in a Sound That Words Cannot Express — and Why Do We Have this Sound Only Once a Year?

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

Something strange happens on Rosh Hashana. We spend hours declaring the Divines majesty, using poetic and unique phrases. We refer to Him as the Ultimate King and Mover of this world. We ask Him to strengthen and reinforce His relationship with us and show us His omnipotence.

But the ultimate prayer of this day is a sound that carries no words, and it is the only biblical commandment of the day: the blowing of the shofar.

What is there in a sound that words cannot express? And why do we have this sound only once a year, on Rosh Hashana, when we remind ourselves of the Creation and of the radical new beginning in our lives; when we repent, turn over a new leaf, and recreate ourselves?

The blowing of the shofar proves that we can surpass ourselves. On our own, using our vocal cords, we are unable to produce this sound – a terrifying penetrating resonance. People can scream, howl, and wail, but nothing more than that. Their reach is limited. Alone, they cannot produce a sound that comes close to the piercing and penetrating heavenly voice of the shofar, which can cause human beings to break down, pick themselves up again, and transform into new individuals.

Not even a chazan’s liturgical solo, or an opera singer’s aria can touch us where the shofar’s vibrations do. The shofar carries us to places unreachable by the human word. It ignores walls and other obstacles, simply forging ahead, long after the human sound has come to an end.

The shofar and the human voice are completely different from each other. The shofar, like a knife, tears our hearts open – just as when the Children of Israel encountered the original shofar sound at Sinai, before God introduced the Torah to them. An experience beyond.

No voice can produce this sound or deliver such a powerful resonance. The only way a person can do it is by blowing a not-too-strong puff of breath into a small hole at one end of the shofar, which widens to a larger opening at the other end. This produces a sound of overwhelming power that pierces the heavens.

Suddenly, we are able to reach unreachable heights, when we are humble enough to admit that we cannot do it alone and we need help. But it is we who must activate this help. The shofar will not blow on its own. It needs the human’s puff – our participation and our effort – before it can move mountains.

Whether or not the shofar will blow is up to us, but whether we can reach our own potential will be up to the shofar. Our humility, combined with our capacity to move beyond ourselves, is what makes us exceptional.

This is our great challenge. Will we remain complacent and stagnant, letting the shofar sit in the cupboard, and never daring to go beyond ourselves? Or, will we have the nerve to blow the shofar and produce something more that will move us and the world forward?

Will we leave Judaism where it is, or will we constantly blow new life into it, impelling it to surpass itself and open new horizons?

On Rosh Hashana, when we recall the greatness of G0D and the Creation, the shofar challenges us to dare and go beyond, creating ourselves and Judaism anew. If we don’t respond to the challenge at this crucial hour, the sound will fall flat and die before it reaches its destination.

Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo

A Soldier’s Mother: Netanyahu’s Speech in Layman’s Words

Monday, September 26th, 2016

Across Facebook, Israelis are proud and loud today. We have waited a long time to hear our Prime Minister tell the United Nations a message we have never quite been able to say so eloquently. I can try to translate the thought behind his words but I would likely fail because rarely have I seen someone use every four letter word in the book, without once actually giving them voice.

I’ll try to explain. Here’s Bibi’s speech:

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen, what I’m about to say is going to shock you: Israel has a bright future at the UN.

There, right there. Did you hear it? That’s Bibi using the F word, and I don’t mean “future.” He’s saying – for all you thought you could destroy us with your endless resolutions, condemnations, threats and sanctions, not only are we still hear, we’re strong, we’re proud, we’re united, and, oh yeah, we’re doing the work YOU are supposed to be doing. It is OUR doctors that arrive in times of disaster, not yours. It is our rescue forces that dig under the rubble to find life, and our compassionate representatives that don’t give up, that keep working even when we know we are likely to only pull out bodies. 

Now I know that hearing that from me must surely come as a surprise, because year after year I’ve stood at this very podium and slammed the UN for its obsessive bias against Israel. And the UN deserved every scathing word – for the disgrace of the General Assembly that last year passed 20 resolutions against the democratic State of Israel and a grand total of three resolutions against all the other countries on the planet. Israel – 20 ; rest of the world – 3!

This is Bibi saying – do you see how stupid you’ve been? Do you see what jerks you are?

And what about the joke called the UN Human Rights Council, which each year condemns Israel more than all the countries of the world combined. As women are being systematically raped, murdered, sold into slavery across the world, which is the only country that the UN’s Commission on Women chose to condemn this year? Yep, you guessed it – Israel. Israel. Israel where women fly fighter jets, lead major corporations, head universities, preside – twice – over the Supreme Court, and have served as Speaker of the Knesset and Prime Minister.

And now Bibi is again using the “F” word, combined with just plain stupid and a bit of an A word that tells them they have been the backside of a donkey.

And this circus continues at UNESCO. UNESCO, the UN body charged with preserving world heritage. Now, this is hard to believe but UNESCO just denied the 4,000 year connection between the Jewish people and its holiest site, the Temple Mount. That’s just as absurd as denying the connection between the Great Wall of China and China.

Circus, hey, I like that! Oh, wait – translation. Okay, so this is Bibi telling them that there are few things more idiotic than denying irrefutable fact. The Great Wall of China is in China; the Temple Mount is where OUR Holy Temples were. God, could you get any dumber, UNESCO?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the UN, begun as a moral force, has become a moral farce.

All of Israel just snorted the most wonderful snort ever. Bibi, wow. Moral force to moral farce! Oh, man, Bibi is nailing it today! Go, Bibi!

So when it comes to Israel at the UN, you’d probably think nothing will ever change, right? Well think again. You see, everything will change and a lot sooner than you think. The change will happen in this hall, because back home, your governments are rapidly changing their attitudes towards Israel. And sooner or later, that’s going to change the way you vote on Israel at the UN.
More and more nations in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, more and more nations see Israel as a potent partner – a partner in fighting the terrorism of today, a partner in developing the technology of tomorrow.

Here is where Israelis sit back and relax. He did it. He went there and told them the truth. The world IS changing. It is only in the hate-filled halls of the United Nations that this reality is being denied. Around the world…OMG…they are naming babies Israel as thanks for our rescue teams; they are blessing us for coming, for helping, for caring. From this point on, Israelis are simply enjoying the show. Yalla, Bibi, we’re listening even if they aren’t!

Today Israel has diplomatic relations with over 160 countries. That’s nearly double the number that we had when I served here as Israel’s ambassador some 30 years ago. And those ties are getting broader and deeper every day. World leaders increasingly appreciate that Israel is a powerful country with one of the best intelligence services on earth. Because of our unmatched experience and proven capabilities in fighting terrorism, many of your governments seek our help in keeping your countries safe.

Many also seek to benefit from Israel’s ingenuity in agriculture, in health, in water, in cyber and in the fusion of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence – that fusion that is changing our world in every way.

You might consider this: Israel leads the world in recycling wastewater. We recycle about 90% of our wastewater. Now, how remarkable is that? Well, given that the next country on the list only recycles about 20% of its wastewater, Israel is a global water power. So if you have a thirsty world, and we do, there’s no better ally than Israel.

Did he mention how hard we’ve been working to counter limited rainfall, diminishing seas? Oh yes he did! Bibi, tell ’em! Our problems today, are you problems tomorrow and as we are solving them, you’re gonna need us a hell of a lot more than we need you!

How about cybersecurity? That’s an issue that affects everyone. Israel accounts for one-tenth of one percent of the world’s population, yet last year we attracted some 20% of the global private investment in cybersecurity.

I want you to digest that number. In cyber, Israel is punching a whopping 200 times above its weight. So Israel is also a global cyber power. If hackers are targeting your banks, your planes, your power grids and just about everything else, Israel can offer indispensable help.

Oh, yeah. Water? Well, how about security in the cyber world in which we are living more and more. Oh, man, you guys are in trouble if you don’t listen up. We’re there – 200 times greater, stronger, ready.

Governments are changing their attitudes towards Israel because they know that Israel can help them protect their peoples, can help them feed them, can help them better their lives.

This summer I had an unbelievable opportunity to see this change so vividly during an unforgettable visit to four African countries. This is the first visit to Africa by an Israeli prime minister in decades. Later today, I’ll be meeting with leaders from 17 African countries. We’ll discuss how Israeli technology can help them in their efforts to transform their countries.

In Africa, things are changing. In China, India, Russia, Japan, attitudes towards Israel have changed as well. These powerful nations know that, despite Israel’s small size, it can make a big difference in many, many areas that are important to them.

But now I’m going to surprise you even more. You see, the biggest change in attitudes towards Israel is taking place elsewhere. It’s taking place in the Arab world. Our peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan continue to be anchors of stability in the volatile Middle East.

But I have to tell you this: For the first time in my lifetime, many other states in the region recognize that Israel is not their enemy. They recognize that Israel is their ally. Our common enemies are Iran and ISIS. Our common goals are security, prosperity and peace. I believe that in the years ahead we will work together to achieve these goals, work together openly.

This is Bibi remembering that he’s a diplomat. He said our common enemies are Iran and ISIS. He didn’t say that Israel’s enemy is also the UN, which is bullied and controlled by Iran and those that support that terrorist nation. Oh, Bibi…well, maybe next time.

So Israel’s diplomatic relations are undergoing nothing less than a revolution. But in this revolution, we never forget that our most cherished alliance, our deepest friendship is with the United States of America, the most powerful and the most generous nation on earth.

Yeah, see, here he’s remembering that idiot in the White House and rumors that he wants to be the next General Secretary of the United Nations. But he’s also reminding them all that we’ve survived 8 years of Obama and if we have to, God forbid, we’ll survive Clinton (though judging by recent health coverage, I’m not at all sure she will).

Our unbreakable bond with the United States of America transcends parties and politics. It reflects, above all else, the overwhelming support for Israel among the American people, support which is at record highs and for which we are deeply grateful.

The United Nations denounces Israel; the United States supports Israel. And a central pillar of that defense has been America’s consistent support for Israel at the UN. I appreciate President Obama’s commitment to that longstanding US policy. In fact, the only time that the United States cast a UN Security Council veto during the Obama presidency was against an anti-Israel resolution in 2011. As President Obama rightly declared at this podium, peace will not come from statements and resolutions at the United Nations.

This is Bibi warning Obama, just a bit. The US has stood by Israel in the past and our friends in the US are watching. They won’t let you abandon Israel and yes, as Bibi said, we are grateful for that support. If you go against Israel, Bibi signals Obama, you won’t have the support of the American people.

I believe the day is not far off when Israel will be able to rely on many, many countries to stand with us at the UN. Slowly but surely, the days when UN ambassadors reflexively condemn Israel, those days are coming to an end.

Ladies and Gentlemen, today’s automatic majority against Israel at the UN reminds me of the story, the incredible story of Hiroo Onada. Hiroo was a Japanese soldier who was sent to the Philippines in 1944. He lived in the jungle. He scavenged for food. He evaded capture. Eventually he surrendered, but that didn’t happen until 1974, some 30 years after World War II ended.

For decades, Hiroo refused to believe the war was over. As Hiroo was hiding in the jungle, Japanese tourists were swimming in pools in American luxury hotels in nearby Manila. Finally, mercifully, Hiroo’s former commanding officer was sent to persuade him to come out of hiding. Only then did Hiroo lay down his arms.

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished delegates from so many lands. I have one message for you today: Lay down your arms.

Bibi saying stop being so F****** stupid! You’re running out of time. You’re redefining the meaning of moronic!

The war against Israel at the UN is over. Perhaps some of you don’t know it yet, but I am confident that one day in the not too distant future you will also get the message from your president or from your prime minister informing you that the war against Israel at the United Nations has ended.

Yes, I know, there might be a storm before the calm. I know there is talk about ganging up on Israel at the UN later this year. Given its history of hostility towards Israel, does anyone really believe that Israel will let the UN determine our security and our vital national interests?

Oh, this. Just this. Perfect. Sarcasm at its best. Does ANYONE really believe we will let the UN control our destiny, our security. Um…no way, UN. just no way! And that sound you just heard? Millions of Israelis yelling, “YESH!” – a word that is basically equivalent to “GOAL” or “GRAND SLAM” because with this simple sentence, Bibi hit the ball out of the park!

We will not accept any attempt by the UN to dictate terms to Israel. The road to peace runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not through New York.

So shut the F up. We aren’t listening; and more. Did you notice – JERUSALEM is ours; Ramallah is theirs! Those are the possible sources from which talks will emanate. Not New York (and, by the way, not Washington either).  

But regardless of what happens in the months ahead, I have total confidence that in the years ahead the revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations will finally penetrate this hall of nations. I have so much confidence, in fact, that I predict that a decade from now an Israeli prime minister will stand right here where I am standing and actually applaud the UN.

But I want to ask you: Why do we have to wait a decade? Why keep vilifying Israel?

Perhaps because some of you don’t appreciate that the obsessive bias against Israel is not just a problem for my country, it’s a problem for your countries too. Because if the UN spends so much time condemning the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, it has far less time to address war, disease, poverty, climate change and all the other serious problems that plague the planet.

And this is where Bibi’s speech simply turns to brilliant. Maybe, he suggests to the UN, you forgot completely why you exist – you’ve forgotten, while we’ve been busy doing YOUR job. And shame on you!

Are the half million slaughtered Syrians helped by your condemnation of Israel? The same Israel that has treated thousands of injured Syrians in our hospitals, including a field hospital that I built right along the Golan Heights border with Syria.

Are the gays hanging from cranes in Iran helped by your denigration of Israel? That same Israel where gays march proudly in our streets and serve in our parliament, including I’m proud to say in my own Likud party.

Are the starving children in North Korea’s brutal tyranny, are they helped by your demonization of Israel? Israel, whose agricultural know-how is feeding the hungry throughout the developing world?

The sooner the UN’s obsession with Israel ends, the better. The better for Israel, the better for your countries, the better for the UN itself.

And, of course, the better for ALL the world. Hypocrites and liars and thieves that you are. Worthless people sitting around while millions suffer. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If UN habits die hard, Palestinian habits die even harder. President Abbas just attacked from this podium the Balfour Declaration. He’s preparing a lawsuit against Britain for that declaration from 1917. That’s almost 100 years ago – talk about being stuck in the past.

And the sound you heard was millions of Israelis laughing. Abbas is going to sue Britain for the Balfour Declaration. Oh, is that rich! And, made richer by the next few lines because in a world where the Palestinians pull the “PAST card”

The Palestinians may just as well sue Iran for the Cyrus Declaration, which enabled the Jews to rebuild our Temple in Jerusalem 2,500 years ago. Come to think of it, why not a Palestinian class action suit against Abraham for buying that plot of land in Hebron where the fathers and mothers of the Jewish people were buried 4,000 years ago? You’re not laughing. It’s as absurd as that. To sue the British government for the Balfour Declaration? Is he kidding? And this is taken seriously here?

Bibi is at his greatest when he’s sarcastic, isn’t he? Are you so stupid you’ll take this nonsense seriously? 

President Abbas attacked the Balfour Declaration because it recognized the right of the Jewish people to a national home in the land of Israel. When the United Nations supported the establishment of a Jewish state in 1947, it recognized our historical and our moral rights in our homeland and to our homeland.

Yet today, nearly 70 years later, the Palestinians still refuse to recognize those rights – not our right to a homeland, not our right to a state, not our right to anything. And this remains the true core of the conflict, the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary. You see, this conflict is not about the settlements. It never was.

And this is Bibi reminding Obama that it was never about the settlements. And more, this is Bib turning to the Israelis and saying, “Okay, okay, you were right all along and it’s time I just say what we all know. They won’t listen, but who cares. The joke is on them. Obama and Abbas and the Iranians are on them so yeah, let’s all smile and be proud.”

The conflict raged for decades before there was a single settlement, when Judea, Samaria and Gaza were all in Arab hands; the West Bank and Gaza were in Arab hands and they attacked us again and again and again.

And when we uprooted all 21 settlements in Gaza and withdrew from every last inch of Gaza, we didn’t get peace from Gaza. We got thousands of rockets fired at us from Gaza. This conflict rages because for the Palestinians, the real settlements they’re after are Haifa, Jaffa and Tel Aviv.

Truth time yet again. A “duh” moment when Bibi states what every Israeli knows.

Now mind you, the issue of settlements is a real one and it can and must be resolved in final status negotiations. But this conflict has never been about the settlements or about establishing a Palestinian state. It’s always been about the existence of a Jewish state, a Jewish state in any boundary.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Israel is ready, I am ready to negotiate all final status issues but one thing I will never negotiate: Our right to the one and only Jewish state.

Wow, sustained applause for the Prime Minister of Israel in the General Assembly? The change may be coming sooner than I thought.

Had the Palestinians said yes to a Jewish state in 1947, there would have been no war, no refugees and no conflict. And when the Palestinians finally say yes to a Jewish state, we will be able to end this conflict once and for all.  Now here’s the tragedy, because, see, the Palestinians are not only trapped in the past, their leaders are poisoning the future.

I want you to imagine a day in the life of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, I’ll call him Ali. Ali wakes up before school, he goes to practice with a soccer team named after Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist responsible for the murder of a busload of 37 Israelis. At school, Ali attends an event sponsored by the Palestinian Ministry of Education honoring Baha Alyan, who last year murdered three Israeli civilians. On his walk home, Ali looks up at a towering statue erected just a few weeks ago by the Palestinian Authority to honor Abu Sukar, who detonated a bomb in the center of Jerusalem, killing 15 Israelis.

When Ali gets home, he turns on the TV and sees an interview with a senior Palestinian official, Jibril Rajoub, who says that if he had a nuclear bomb, he’d detonate it over Israel that very day. Ali then turns on the radio and he hears President Abbas’s adviser, Sultan Abu al-Einein, urging Palestinians, here’s a quote, “to slit the throats of Israelis wherever you find them.” Ali checks his Facebook and he sees a recent post by President Abbas’s Fatah Party calling the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics a “heroic act”. On YouTube, Ali watches a clip of President Abbas himself saying, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem.” Direct quote!

Over dinner, Ali asks his mother what would happen if he killed a Jew and went to an Israeli prison? Here’s what she tells him. She tells him he’d be paid thousands of dollars each month by the Palestinian Authority. In fact, she tells him, the more Jews he would kill, the more money he’d get. Oh, and when he gets out of prison, Ali would be guaranteed a job with the Palestinian Authority.

Ladies and Gentlemen, all this is real. It happens every day, all the time. Sadly, Ali represents hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children who are indoctrinated with hate every moment, every hour. This is child abuse.

And though the delegates are not clapping, millions of Israelis are. Child Abuse. That’s what you call what they’ve been doing to their children. In your face, Abbas – this is what you’ve been doing! And in your face, United Nations delegates – this is what you’ve been celebrating and rewarding all these years. Nothing more and nothing less than absolute child abuse!

Imagine your child undergoing this brainwashing. Imagine what it takes for a young boy or girl to break free out of this culture of hate. Some do but far too many don’t. How can any of us expect young Palestinians to support peace when their leaders poison their minds against peace?

We in Israel don’t do this. We educate our children for peace. In fact, we recently launched a pilot program, my government did, to make the study of Arabic mandatory for Jewish children so that we can better understand each other, so that we can live together side-by-side in peace. Of course, like all societies Israel has fringe elements. But it’s our response to those fringe elements, it’s our response to those fringe elements that makes all the difference.

Take the tragic case of Ahmed Dawabsha. I’ll never forget visiting Ahmed in the hospital just hours after he was attacked. A little boy, really a baby, he was badly burned. Ahmed was the victim of a horrible terrorist act perpetrated by Jews. He lay bandaged and unconscious as Israeli doctors worked around the clock to save him.

No words can bring comfort to this boy or to his family. Still, as I stood by his bedside I told his uncle, “This is not our people. This is not our way.” I then ordered extraordinary measures to bring Ahmed’s assailants to justice and today the Jewish citizens of Israel accused of attacking the Dawabsha family are in jail awaiting trial.

Now, for some, this story shows that both sides have their extremists and both sides are equally responsible for this seemingly endless conflict. But what Ahmed’s story actually proves is the very opposite. It illustrates the profound difference between our two societies, because while Israeli leaders condemn terrorists, all terrorists, Arabs and Jews alike, Palestinian leaders celebrate terrorists. While Israel jails the handful of Jewish terrorists among us, the Palestinians pay thousands of terrorists among them.

So I call on President Abbas: you have a choice to make. You can continue to stoke hatred as you did today or you can finally confront hatred and work with me to establish peace between our two peoples.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I hear the buzz. I know that many of you have given up on peace. But I want you to know – I have not given up on peace.

Well, yeah, hundreds of thousands of Israelis just snorted again because really, how many of us really believe in peace anymore? Or, more accurately, how many of us believe the Palestinian leadership will ever wake up and help bring peace to their people? Yeah, not many, thus that snort.

I remain committed to a vision of peace based on two states for two peoples. I believe as never before that changes taking place in the Arab world today offer a unique opportunity to advance that peace. I commend President El-Sisi of Egypt for his efforts to advance peace and stability in our region.
Israel welcomes the spirit of the Arab peace initiative and welcomes a dialogue with Arab states to advance a broader peace. I believe that for that broader peace to be fully achieved the Palestinians have to be part of it. I’m ready to begin negotiations to achieve this today – not tomorrow, not next week, today.

President Abbas spoke here an hour ago. Wouldn’t it be better if instead of speaking past each other we were speaking to one another?

And this is another of Bibi’s “duh” moments – saying what is obvious and yet will not be.

President Abbas, instead of railing against Israel at the United Nations in New York, I invite you to speak to the Israeli people at the Knesset in Jerusalem. And I would gladly come to speak to the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.

Ladies and Gentlemen, while Israel seeks peace with all our neighbors, we also know that peace has no greater enemy than the forces of militant Islam. The bloody trail of this fanaticism runs through all the continents represented here.

It runs through Paris and Nice, Brussels and Baghdad, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Minnesota and New York, from Sydney to San Bernardino. So many have suffered its savagery: Christian and Jews, women and gays, Yazidis and Kurds and many, many others.

You thought it was only buses in Jerusalem and restaurants in Tel Aviv. It didn’t bother you when the blood in the streets was Jewish blood, did it? But now, now it is your blood, your people. Now it is happening in your countries, in your cities. Now they have brought terror to your doors.

Yet the heaviest price, the heaviest price of all has been paid by innocent Muslims. Hundreds of thousands unmercifully slaughtered. Millions turned into desperate refugees, tens of millions brutally subjugated. The defeat of militant Islam will thus be a victory for all humanity, but it would especially be a victory for those many Muslims who seek a life without fear, a life of peace, a life of hope.

But to defeat the forces of militant Islam, we must fight them relentlessly. We must fight them in the real world. We must fight them in the virtual world. We must dismantle their networks, disrupt their funding, discredit their ideology. We can defeat them and we will defeat them. Medievalism is no match for modernity. Hope is stronger than hate, freedom mightier than fear.

We can do this.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Israel fights this fateful battle against the forces of militant Islam every day. We keep our borders safe from ISIS, we prevent the smuggling of game-changing weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, we thwart Palestinian terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, and we deter missile attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza.

That’s the same Hamas terror organization that cruelly, unbelievably cruelly refuses to return three of our citizens and the bodies of our fallen soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin. Hadar Goldin’s parents, Leah and Simcha Goldin, are here with us today.

They have one request – to bury their beloved son in Israel. All they ask for is one simple thing – to be able to visit the grave of their fallen son Hadar in Israel. Hamas refuses. They couldn’t care less.

I implore you to stand with them, with us, with all that’s decent in our world against the inhumanity of Hamas – all that is indecent and barbaric. Hamas breaks every humanitarian rule in the book, throw the book at them.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the greatest threat to my country, to our region, and ultimately to our world remains the militant Islamic regime of Iran. Iran openly seeks Israel’s annihilation. It threatens countries across the Middle East, it sponsors terror worldwide.

This year, Iran has fired ballistic missiles in direct defiance of Security Council Resolutions. It has expended its aggression in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen. Iran, the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism continued to build its global terror network. That terror network now spans five continents.

So my point to you is this: The threat Iran poses to all of us is not behind us, it’s before us. In the coming years, there must be a sustained and united effort to push back against Iran’s aggression and Iran’s terror.

With the nuclear constraints on Iran one year closer to being removed, let me be clear: Israel will not allow the terrorist regime in Iran to develop nuclear weapons – not now, not in a decade, not ever.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I stand before you today at a time when Israel’s former president, Shimon Peres, is fighting for his life. Shimon is one of Israel’s founding fathers, one of its boldest statesmen, one of its most respected leaders. I know you will all join me and join all the people of Israel in wishing him refuah shlemah Shimon, a speedy recovery.

I’ve always admired Shimon’s boundless optimism, and like him, I too am filled with hope. I am filled with hope because Israel is capable of defending itself, by itself, against any threat.

I am filled with hope because the valor of our fighting men and women is second to none. I am filled with hope because I know the forces of civilization will ultimately triumph over the forces of terror. I am filled with hope because in the age of innovation, Israel – the innovation nation – is thriving as never before. I am filled with hope because Israel works tirelessly to advance equality and opportunity for all its citizens: Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, everyone. And I am filled with hope because despite all the naysayers, I believe that in the years ahead, Israel will forge a lasting peace with all our neighbors.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am hopeful about what Israel can accomplish because I’ve seen what Israel has accomplished. In 1948, the year of Israel’s independence, our population was 800,000. Our main export was oranges. People said then we were too small, too weak, too isolated, too demographically outnumbered to survive, let alone thrive. The skeptics were wrong about Israel then; the skeptics are wrong about Israel now. Israel’s population has grown tenfold, our economy fortyfold. Today our biggest export is technology – Israeli technology, which powers the world’s computers, cellphones, cars and so much more.

And this is Bibi reminding them that not one of them, not one, lives without OUR technologies, OUR contributions.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the future belongs to those who innovate and this is why the future belongs to countries like Israel. Israel wants to be your partner in seizing that future, so I call on all of you: Cooperate with Israel, embrace Israel, dream with Israel. Dream of the future that we can build together, a future of breathtaking progress, a future of security, prosperity and peace, a future of hope for all humanity, a future where even at the UN, even in this hall, Israel will finally, inevitably, take its rightful place among the nations.

Thank you.
Paula Stern

Some Words About The Deaths in Dallas, St. Paul, And Baton Rouge

Saturday, July 9th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, The Lid}

Devastating, it’s the only way to describe what has happened in this country over the past few days.

There’s not much to say about the facts of the horrific goings on during the past few days because most of the facts are still not out.  However, to this observer sitting safely in his office, the news about Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Philando Castile in St Paul, and five dead Cops in Dallas is nothing short of sickening and I feel for all of their families.

Allow me to make a few possibly random observations while doing my best not to draw conclusions about the facts of the case.

  • Too many people are taking sides; mourning the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile should not stop people from mourning the deaths of five Cops (or vice versa), they are not mutually exclusive. It is okay to strongly support law enforcement officers, while admitting the possibility that there are a few bad cops who may have unjustly killed African Americans. What the Black Lives Matter movement gets wrong is that ALL lives matter, what many of the rest of us forget is–that goes both ways. The situation behind the deaths of their loved ones may be very different, but praying for the families of the cops, as well as praying for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile is a moral obligation. They all feel the pain of losing a loved one.

The Bible (Genesis 25:11) records that God himself visited Isaac when his father died : “And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac, his son.”The sages infer from this verse that God Himself, as it were, was comforting the bereaved Isaac. In Isaiah 40:1 following the destruction of Jerusalem, the first temple, and the decimation of the Jewish people, Isaiah proclaimed God’s message “Console, console My people,” says your God.” That is meant that comforting the bereaved is not merely a recommendation, but a specific order obliging Isaiah to console the mourning Jews.  Also notice that that God didn’t tell Isaiah to pick and choose based on who the individual Jews were mourning. It is our obligation as human beings to comfort the bereaved and today seven families; five cop families, and two families of people who were killed by cops (justified or not). If God can comfort the bereaved, certainly we can feel for all seven families who lost a loved one.

  • The videos of the Sterling and Castile shootings certainly make these incidents seem like the police involved abused their power, but all the facts are not out in the end we may find out that the shootings were justified (we may also find out the shootings were “bad).” And even if we learn that the shootings weren’t justified they may not have been motivated by racism, they may have been mistakes by some of the very few cops who are incompetent.
  • There is no excuse for the cowardly and disgusting attacks by snipers against police, 99.99% of cops are good people who do their jobs correctly. Cops are there to help all of us, every day they put their lives on the line to protect our families.  This attack wasn’t “black on blue,” it was a terrorist attack on all Americans. It may have been Dallas police officers caught an ambush, but by attacking the officers who protect us, the scum who shot the cops were really ambushing all Americans. Those cops were protecting all Americans regardless of their skin pigment, gender, religion etc. Whatever happened in St. Paul, and Baton Rouge this week we need to back up our law enforcement officers. This does not mean cover up the actions of the very few cops who may be incompetent or evil, but the vast majority, who put their lives on the line each and every day and do the right thing, protect and serve their communities.
  • Too many of my conservative colleagues put down the people who protest cop/black shootings.   Whether backed up by facts or not (and we won’t know until we learn what really happened) the anger and frustration displayed by many African-Americans is justified. Sorry if this sounds like a liberal, but white people (including me) can never understand the Black experience in America (the same way I tell my Christian friends that they could never understand the Jewish experience of the past 2,000 years).
  • Almost as bad as the scum who shot five cops, is the reaction to the shootings by some who exploited the deaths as an excuse to score political points. The governor of Minnesota who proclaimed the shooting of Philando Castile was racially motivated before knowing what really happened is nothing short of an idiot, but so areJesse Jackson who blamed it all on Donald Trump, President Obama blamed it on guns--and at least one chapter of the Students For Justice in Palestine blamed it all on the IDF.

Right now it is not time to politicize the deaths,  we should understand the need of some to express their emotions (peacefully), and that goes for the people who are angry and frustrated by the deaths of Mr.Castile and Mr.Sterling as well as those who are angry and frustrated by the five dead and seven injured police officers. But our most important task is to comfort the bereaved–all of the bereaved.

May God comfort all the families, friends and loved ones of those who died, and may the souls of the dead rest in peace

Jeff Dunetz

Elie Wiesel on Words

Monday, July 4th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through}

Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories.” Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)

The Holocaust of the Jews in Europe was one of the most brutal acts of inhumanity in the history of the world. Not only did an elected government murder its own defenseless citizens, it tortured them and enlisted other citizens to eradicate and humiliate the Jews.

The destructive actions of Nazi Germany led the United Nations to create the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on December 10, 1948. It was designed to protect the basic human rights of all people, not just an elected majority. The opening article declares: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” and goes on to enumerate various human rights. Article 7 builds on that theme:

“All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.”

Decades later, the United Nations looked for ways to combat the emergence of global terrorism, and on September 8, 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Similar to the UDHR, it recognized the threat of incitement:

work to adopt such measures as may be necessary and appropriate and in accordance with our obligations under international law to prohibit by law incitement to commit a terrorist act or acts and prevent such conduct.”

The United Nations advanced the position that actions do not live in a tight bubble. Words lead to actions, whether discrimination, terrorism, or even the Holocaust.

Elie Wiesel on Words

There have been many people who worked to place a spotlight in the shadow of the Holocaust, such as Simon Weisenthal (1908-2005), who fought to bring Nazis to justice. Elie Wiesel, who passed away yesterday, had a different path for combatting the horrors of the Holocaust. He wrote about it.

Over the course of dozens of books, Wiesel wrote about his personal experiences surviving concentration camps, as well as faith, God and humanity. He understood the power of his words to help create a better world, just as he understood and experienced how words can create a vicious, violent reality.

Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds.”

I’m a teacher and a writer; my life is words. When I see the denigration of language,
it hurts me, and it’s easy to denigrate a word by trivializing it.” 
Elie Wiesel

Wiesel often spoke at conferences about his experiences, and sought to educate people about words, thoughts and ideas.  He believed that words could be creative agents for the speaker, as well as for those who heard the message.

In 1999, Wiesel recalled how American soldiers liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp in April 1945, including himself as a young man. For that action, and years living in the United States, he would be forever grateful.  For him, the act of being grateful was not simply a byproduct of another’s action: it was an action in itself, and speaking about gratitude, was an important message:

“Gratitude is a word that I cherish.
Gratitude is what defines the humanity of the human being.”

Wiesel believed in the power of words to heal, but he also understood its destructive powers.  He felt that too often mankind hid from its responsibilities.

Human beings should be held accountable.
Leave God alone. He has enough problems.”

One of the greatest threats to humanity, according to Wiesel, was not just the negative incitement to violence that the United Nations addressed in 1948 and 2006, but the threat of the vast masses to say nothing; to be indifferent to the words and terrible actions of evil doers.

“The opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference.”

“Indifference is not a beginning, it is an end. And, therefore,
indifference is always the friend of the enemy…
Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment.
And this is one of the most important lessons of this outgoing century’s
wide-ranging experiments in good and evil.”

The world appreciated the efforts of Wiesel, and awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for “his message …of peace, atonement and human dignity.”


The First.One.Through blog and channel are about Judaism, Israel and the United States of America.  The messages it conveys are that words matter: not just blatant incitement to violence, but even subtle forms of discrimination, as well as positive, constructive words.  The words and videos are not made so that the producer has a voice, but for those that read and watch the material, to also be positive catalysts by forwarding the anonymous pieces on to others.

We mourn the loss of an advocate who advanced the cause that words matter, whether negative, positive, or the bitter lack thereof.

 

Related First.One.Through articles:

“An anti-Semitic Tinge”

“Tinge” Two. Idioms for Idiots

The Termination Shock of Survivors

Names and Narrative: Genocide / Intifada

First.One.Through | July 3, 2016 at 9:38 am | Tags: Holocaust | Categories: Holocaust, Opinion | URL: http://wp.me/p3YdoG-XO
Paul Gherkin

Bibi and Obama Growing Apart on Iran while Rouhani Is All Smiles

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The Associated Press reported that Israel and the U.S. have been growing apart on the Iran nuclear threat, so much so that there appears to be a rift between them these days. Essentially, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to sound the alarm tirelessly and at a high pitch, while the West sees genuine Iranian compromises in the Geneva talks.

The different views are only growing more so, threatening to leave Israel in isolation, as the talks between six global powers and Iran appear to be gaining steam, the AP surmises. western negotiators were upbeat after last week’s talks, going into the next round of negotiations, Nov. 7.

If you wanted a Munich moment – this is it, with the Czech ambassador sitting nervously in the waiting room while the British and French prime ministers and the Axis brutes decided his country’s fate.

Most references to the Munich moment usually show PM Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper and announcing "peace in our time." But the really scary Munich moment took place hours earlier, when these dubious characters signed on to the deal. It was about the West's willingness to knowingly embrace the lies of the thugs it was dealing with, leaving Czechoslovakia to pick up the tab. From left to right, Chamberlain, French PM Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Italian Foreign Minister Count.

Most references to the Munich moment usually show PM Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper and announcing “peace in our time.” But the really scary Munich moment took place hours earlier, when these dubious characters signed on to the deal. It was about the West’s willingness to knowingly embrace the lies of the thugs it was dealing with, leaving Czechoslovakia to pick up the tab. From left to right, Chamberlain, French PM Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Italian Foreign Minister Count.

In fact, the louder Netanyahu cries out, the more shrill he is bound to sound in the face of the smiling Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

“I think that in this situation as long as we do not see actions instead of words, the international pressure must continue to be applied and even increased,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday. “The greater the pressure, the greater the chance that there will be a genuine dismantling of the Iranian military nuclear program.”

The statement may reflect more how out of touch Bibi is with the winds blowing in Washington DC right now, than a practical strategy. Over the weekend, U.S. officials said the White House was going to offer Iran a chance to recoup billions of dollars in frozen assets—sitting there since the 1979 Islamic revolution—if it scales back its nuclear program. The sanctions will stay in place for now, but Iran would suddenly receive a windfall.

In other words, Iran will receive between $50 and $75 billion, tax free, not for eliminating its nuclear weapons program, but for merely slowing it down.

This is vintage Rouhani, incidentally – the man was the architect of Iran’s winning strategy of fooling the world while flashing many winning smiles. One gets the feeling the Rouhanis wanted their boy to go into modeling for toothpaste ads, instead of running one of the three most evil regimes on the planet, but one thing led to another.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said it was “premature” to talk about easing sanctions, but he did not endorse Netanyahu’s tough line, saying the U.S. is planning a more “incremental” approach in response to concrete Iranian gestures.

It’s 2005 revisited, and Rouhani knows he’s already won this round. He managed to separate Netanyahu from his American benefactors, and isolate Israel which now looks like it’s frothing at the mouth while Iran is all pleasantries and pragmatism. All he has to do from this point on is keep talking, host a couple UN inspectors, mess with their inspections a little, nothing serious, make it impossible to get a real read of what goes on in those plants – but keep on smiling, denying, and never say anything hostile or aggressive against israel or the West.

Bibi cannot win this one, any more than Czechoslovakia could win the diplomatic war against Hitler. Few people know today that on paper the Czechs were superior militarily to the Germans. If they had decided to strike against the Germans, they could have altered world history. They didn’t need British or French protection, they were completely self sufficient in manufacturing their military arsenal. Indeed, it was his bloodless conquest of Czechoslovakia that turned Hitler unstoppable.

Yori Yanover

For Better or for Worse

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

It’s time to move out of our homes and into our holy humble sukkahs. Now is the time when we renew our relationship with God, who has chosen us to form an inseparable eternal union – a marriage between the children of Yisrael and the Master of the Universe.

The Torah portion of Nitzavim, which is read just before the New Year, reveals to us that Hashem is our personal “husband,” for better or for worse. Rashi explains (Devarim 29:12) that we were presented with a covenant and a curse: “Since we are forever bound together, let Me teach you how to make Me happy.”

Nitzavim goes on to prophesize everything that has transpired during these thousands of years. This is highlighted by non-Jews gasping and stating, “Why has God caused this land to become desolate? Because they have forsaken God’s covenant.” Thus, on Rosh Hashanah we think of our past year’s sins. The sound of the shofar awakens our emotions. Then ten days of introspection and repentance bring on the great and awesome day of Kippur, of Atonement.

Consider: our God is perfect, and we are anything but. We may have been envious or lustful, or worshipped money, status or a host of other vices. Now we humbly return home to our Love. If we repent out of fear, our sins are forgiven. But if we repent because we truly love our Maker, he gives us an amazing reward – our sins become mitzvahs!

Hashem simply goes beyond the letter of the law in His love for us.

The Holy Ben Ish Chai points out that if you go beyond the four letters of the Hebrew word hadin (the judgment), you get to the Hebrew word sukkah. (The four Hebrew letters that come after the letters in hadin are the letters in the word sukkah). The sukkah is where we arrive after Yom Kippur, free of sins, under the wings of God’s Holy Presence.

Note that the first time sukkah is mentioned in the Torah, it is referring to the stalls our forefather Yaakov built for his animals. Why? Because when Yaakov arrived in Shechem with his family, he built a beis medrash for himself for Torah learning, but for his animals, his “wealth,” he built simple huts.

Yaakov took his children to the window and said, “Look at how I treat my wealth, dear children. Wealth is temporary; like the sukkah, it doesn’t go with you to the next world. But here in this house of Torah, we accumulate the mitzvahs that stay with us – which are eternal.”

We have now received our “new heads” for the coming year, as implied by the words Rosh Hashanah, head for the year, and Yom Hazikaron, a day of resetting our memory apparatus. We are cleansed of our sins on Yom Kippur, after which we enter, with our entire body, into our sukkah. We enter this mitzvah where we achieve oneness with our Lover – Hashem, Blessed be He.

What is it about the Nation of Israel that attracts the love of the One God Who rules the universe?

I came upon an answer on Rosh Chodesh Elul as I prayed the silent benedictions. We bless the day in the following way: “Mikadesh Yisrael v’roshei chodoshim – He sanctifies Israel and the first day of all months.” But it can literally mean “He sanctifies Yisrael and “brand new heads.”

Our nation is forever ready to admit our mistakes and begin all over. With the coming of each new moon, we are aware that we may start afresh.

This is also evident in our morning declaration of Modeh Ani, the origin of which is in the book of Eichah (3:23) which states, “Hashems kindness is new every morning – great is Your belief [in us, to improve in the coming day]. One of the reasons Hashem loves His people is that they are always willing to start over.

Two small examples that are actually big were related to me by Rabbi Mordechai Goldstein, shlita, head of the Diaspora Yeshiva on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, where I am currently studying.

The first: A man survived hell in a concentration camp only to discover that his entire family had perished – parents, siblings, wife and children. Everyone.

Dov Shurin

What’s Wrong With the Star-K Kosher Phone?

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

About a month ago the Star-K, a world renowned Kashrus agency, announced that they were certifying kosher phones. These phones have no access to the Internet, cannot place or receive text messages, cannot take photos, and most importantly, cannot be hacked to perform any of these tasks.

It’s not troubling to me that people would want a phone that is insulated from certain tasks. Although I think it is an unnecessary measure and perhaps counter productive, I don’t begrudge people their personal self control restraints.

What is troubling is that a kashrus agency is part of this initiative. A kashrus agency should be concerned with one thing and one thing only. Their singular concern should be the kosher status of the food. I don’t even think that a kashrus agency must concern itself with humanitarian or other ethical issues that may arise. I have no problem with a secondary agency coming in and providing a secondary level of supervision. But the kosher status of the food cannot be affected by anything other its status as kosher food.

So when I see a kashrus agency entering into the phone market, I see an agency that should be worried about kosher status of food but is now legislating morality. It’s not even as if the technical skills involved in kosher supervision overlap the neutering of cell phones. They have nothing to do with each other. I don’t think it is smart for kosher supervision to be intertwined or even related to morality supervision.

Similarly, when kosher supervision agencies make demands on the clientele or ambience of an eating establishment I believe they are overstepping their bounds. There are restaurants that are not allowed to be open at certain hours because they will lose their hechsher if they are open. This is far beyond the scope of kosher supervision. Tell me if the food is kosher and I will decide if I want to patronize the restaurant. That is all we need from a kashrus agency. The stretching of their authority serves no important purpose for the public. It seems to me that it is merely a self-serving, self-righteous way to legislate their morality. If they can legislate phones and who can eat where, what’s next?

I am not making a slippery slope argument. I am pointing out that there is no logical connection between the kosher status of food and the kosher status of a phone. There is also no relationship between the kosher status of a restaurant and whether teenagers are hanging out. In other words, the kashrus agencies are already legislating their morality. There is no reason to think it only will apply in these two instances because there is no connection between these two things and the kosher status of food.

We need to stop using the word kosher for things other than food. Yes, the word is a general term but it has evolved into a word that describes whether food can be eaten by orthodox Jews who keep kosher. We don’t eat anything that is not kosher. Using the word kosher for phones and Internet implies that the non-kosher versions are not allowed to be used. This is sophomoric and divisive.

If anything, the kashrus agencies should be concerned with the ethics and morality of the actual food. This is something they have resisted time and time again. I am not recommending they get into the ethics of food business, but if they must expand their business and purview of supervision I think that is the first place they should be looking to legislate seeing as they have the knowledge and expertise to monitor and report on that aspect of food production. But teens mingling and phones? They don’t belong there at all.

Visit Fink or Swim.

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink

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