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

Bnei Brak Erasing Zionism from Street Signs

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Bnei Brak, Israel’s largest predominantly Haredi city, has announced it is cleansing its street names from any hints of religious Zionism in favor of names of Haredi rabbis, including Knesset Members whose  questionable contribution to the country consisted of pumping as much as the taxpayers’ money as possible into the coffers of Haredi yeshivas.

Mayor Avraham Rubinstein assured residents that they can voice their objections before the decision is carried out, and that the city even will inform relatives of those whose names no longer will appear.

For example, the street named after Moshe Sharett, Israel’s second prime minister, will disappear.

This is not the first time the city has removed a Zionist name. “Herzl Street” no longer exists. He was not only the founder of modern Zionism but also was fiercely secular.

But a wholesale removal of Zionist names in a city that was built by religious Zionists is another nail in the coffin for co-existence between Haredi anti-Zionists and secular and religious Zionists.

Kibbutz Galuyot Street, named after the concept of Israel’s being a collective society for Jews from the Diaspora, will be named after Rabbi Shalom Berman Street, who headed the Ponevezh Yeshiva.

Even Jerusalem Street is too Zionist for Bnei Brak, probably because Mea Shearim has not taken over the entire capital. The street now will be named after Shlomo Ungar, who also was head of a yeshiva.

Second Aliyah Street no longer will exist, and in its place, a street sign will read “Admor from Lublin.”

“Mother of Moshavot” Street will changed to “Rabbi Avraham Shapira Street,” named after a Haredi Knesset Member.

Religious Zionists are a dying species in Bnei Brak. One of them, a worker for the city, told the Hebrew-language newspaper Maariv, “Changing the names of streets named after religious Zionists who built the country and who were part of the reestablishment of Israel is tantamount to the expulsion of the remaining religious residents in the city.”

The announcement of the changes comes on the eve of Tisha B’Av, the day of mourning of the destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples due to Israel’s sins, including self-hatred.

The news of the erasing of Zionist names in Bnei Brak is just what anti-Zionist non-Jews, such as the Iranian government, wants to hear.

Its government-controlled Press TV apparently has a “friend” among the Haredi anti-Zionist community in Israel because the Iranian media outlet gladly published the news on its front page Sunday.

It noted that Bnei Brak’s “majority…are Haredi Jews, most of whom oppose Zionism because of its secular orientation. They also believe it is forbidden for the Jews to rule in Palestine before the arrival of the messiah.”

These European and American Ideas May Be Dangerous to your Health

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

In a YNet op-ed, Hagai Segal writes,

Our Declaration of Independence includes 650 words. The word “Jewish,” in its different forms, appears 20 times, while the word “democracy” doesn’t even appear once.

The people who drafted the declaration and signed it had the highest regard for democratic values, but first and foremost they wanted to stress its Jewish side. Perhaps they said to themselves that there are many democracies in the world, but only one Jewish country. It’s important to protect it.

These days it’s even more important. From the outside and from within attempts are being made to undermine the Jewish character of the Jewish state. The dark forces rely on the fatigue of the Zionist material in order to internationalize Israel and declare it a state of all its citizens. They are taking advantage of the fact that over the years the fashion here has changed, and democracy has been emphasized at the expense of Judaism.

The Israeli Left takes its cues from Western Europe and the U.S. From Europe it gets the ideas of multiculturalism, postnationalism, hedonism and hatred of religion. Together these are a recipe for a low native birthrate and a rapidly increasing, non-assimilating Muslim population. Europe is rapidly moving toward a point of no return, in which, paradoxically, the very features of its Enlightenment culture that support openness and egalitarianism will lead to its replacement by a distinctly non-democratic, authoritarian Islamic one.

America is another source of ideas, in this case the absolute maximum of freedom of expression. Where else would the outrageous Westboro Baptist Church be tolerated? American freedom of expression is remarkable in the world, and that may be in part because the US is a large nation both physically and by population, with friendly neighbors, separated by oceans from its enemies. It is also composed of diverse groups that more or less buy into the general narrative of the nation. That doesn’t mean that nothing can bring it down, but it can absorb a great deal of internal and external pressure without breaking.

Israel, on the other hand, is small and surrounded by enemies. One out of every five Israelis is an Arab, the same ethnicity of most of its enemies, who — while he may be loyal to the state — almost certainly believes in a historical narrative in which the state is not only illegitimate, but his oppressor, responsible for the dispossession of his relatives in the great ‘disaster’ of 1948. There are also Jewish Israelis who believe, for religious reasons, that Jewish sovereignty is an abomination.

There are also great external pressures opposed to emphasizing the Jewishness of the state. To a large extent they come from Europe, which is jealous of Israel’s cultural and economic vitality, angered that is succeeding on a path so divergent from Europe’s, and suffused with guilt about the recent genocide of its own Jewish population. Europe is acting on its beliefs, both by explicit pro-Arab diplomacy, and by covertly expending millions of Euros to support NGOs in Israel that promote its anti-nationalist (and even anti-state) line.

Another force is the American Jewish Left, as represented by the New Israel Fund (NIF) and to some extent by the Union for Reform Judaism. The NIF is particularly dangerous, supporting Israeli Arab groups that would like to redefine the state as binational.

A state that requires sacrifice from its people to survive, will only get it if there is a compelling ideological motivation driving its citizens to make the requisite sacrifices. This is how Israel has survived until now. But there is no compelling ideology for maintaining a “state of its citizens” next door to Hizballah, Hamas, the Muslim Brothers and whatever vicious regime will rule Syria.

Jews yearned for Jerusalem for 2000 years, and Zionists have struggled for more than 100 — and are continuing to struggle — to restore and now preserve Jewish sovereignty in Land of Israel, which I believe has become a necessary condition for the survival of the Jews as a people. I can’t see today’s Judaism surviving another diaspora. A great deal is at stake here.

‘Judaism Rejects Zionism’

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

On a beautiful Sunday morning in May, I was driving south on the West Side Highway in New York City, heading towards the Israel Day Parade. As my car made it’s way along the mighty Hudson river, I marvelled on how awesome this city is. I saw myriads of buff joggers, happy barbecues taking place on well-tended Riverside park lawns, and of course, the imposing, surreal, gigantic skyscrapers that adorn this world-capital metropolis.

I travel often to New York to promote a stronger connection between North American Jews and Israel, and to encourage Aliyah, and every time I go I am struck by the thought: How is the Aliyah idea going to compete? This place just has too much of a magnetic pull and Jews have everything here – financial success, the best of world culture, freedom to worship, and all in relative safety, in the shadow of this great city.

While I was pondering this, I saw an airplane flying low over the Hudson River, at first thinking it was a WWII relic. But then I realized it was one of those propeller planes that tow a sign for people to read at the beach. I could make out the first letter was a “J” and so I guessed it was Christian advertising promoting you-know-who. “New York is still a non-Jewish town, and Jews will never feel fully comfortable here” I thought. But as the plane got closer, the sign said something else, something very Jewishy indeed.

It read: “Judaism rejects Zionism and the State of Israel -NK, USA.”

Yup, Neturei Karta rented a plane and flew an anti-Zionist sign from the Rockaways all the way up past Manhattan – all in an effort to push back against the Israel Day Parade. Now I felt totally dejected, because I realized how doubly hard it will be to detach Jews from New York. Not only is the city tantalizing, but there is a conscious effort being made to disconnect Jews from Israel.

You may argue that Neturei Karta is an extremist group and is unrepresentative of American Jewry, and that is true. But they are not the only ones mounting a distance-yourself-from-Israel campaign. On both ends of the Jewish political spectrum there are movements which seek to disengage Jews from Israel.

For some in the Progressive movement it has been in vogue to see Israel as immoral, repressive, racist, as an apartheid state, and even equivalent to the Nazi regime. In a recent article featured on Tikkun Magazine’s website, reprinted from Haaretz, the writer asserts:

“The practice of denying the Palestinians their basic civil rights in the occupied territories under the army’s colonial regime – exemplified by the scandalous policy of administrative detentions and the disappearing of people in Israeli prisons for years because of their opposition to repression and humiliation – is frighteningly similar to the persecution practiced by the dark regimes of the 20th century against their opponents.”

These Progressives may believe they are helping Israel through their criticism, but the real effect is that Jews who come in contact with them are distanced from Israel. Israel is decidedly not their country because it does not meet their progressive Jewish moral standards, or in other words: their Judaism rejects Zionism. “Forget it man, Israel is a mess,” says the liberal-minded Jewish student on campus.

The ultra-Orthodox Chariedim may come from the polar opposite world view, but they too have a Jewish moral reason to get some distance from Israel: Israel is not religious enough, not Torah enough. According to this doctrine Israel was built as a secular State by those antagonistic to Judaism and today is still run by those antagonistic to Judaism. The coercive secularism of Zionism is at the root of the real Israel, and the advent of Yair Lapid only prove that nothing has changed.

Hamodia, the self-described, “Daily Newspaper of Torah Jewry,” had this as the opening line of a recent article: “Secular politicians in Israel — not all of them, but those who are leading the campaign for an ‘equal sharing of the defense burden’ — want to deal the chareidim a crushing defeat.”

How ironic. Both of these Jewish groups could see Israel in a totally different light if they only chose to.

Jewish Agency Officials Meet in Ukraine for First Time

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Hundreds of Jewish and Zionist leaders from across the globe are meeting at the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency in Kiev, Ukraine, the first time they have met outside of Israel.

Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky said at the opening plenary Sunday that since the fall of the Iron Curtain, more than a million Jews from the former Soviet Union have made Aliyah with the assistance of world Jewry, whom he praised for their contribution to the immigration of Soviet Jewry.

Minister for Immigrant Absorption, Sofa Landover noted the important contribution that immigrants from the former Soviet Union, including doctors, artists, scientists and musicians had made to strengthen the State of Israel.

The Chief Rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine, Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, said at the opening plenary that the conference was one of the most important events in the 25 year history of the revitalized Jewish community in Kiev.

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Forty-One: War

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

After a year of prayer, and hard, back-breaking work on the soil, patches of greenery reappeared in the fields of Olat HaShachar. Fruit trees budded. Tomatoes sprouted once again on their vines. God’s anger seemed to have passed, leaving the settlers with a new hope for the future. Even Shilo was filled with a revitalized spirit. As it turned out, his eyes never feasted on the money-paved streets of New York. His Rebbe had answered his letter asking for permission to go to America with the command that he stay in Eretz Yisrael, where with patience, everything would work out for the best. With the Rebbe’s encouragement, the carpenter set back to work with a renewed belief in his mission of rebuilding the Holy Land.

While their life wasn’t easy, Tevye strove to be content with his lot. As the Sages taught, the truly rich man was the man who was happy with what he had. Tevye was naturally optimistic by nature, and it was important to be a beacon of faith for the morale of the community. True, there was a long list of things to complain about, but who had the strength? After a long day of labor, Tevye would eat and gladly collapse into bed. On the Sabbath, he studied a little Torah with Guttmacher’s son. But his greatest pleasure came from his son. The golden-skinned toddler could walk and even put simple sentences together. He spoke Hebrew, the language which his father and mother spoke in the house. With an indescribable pleasure, worth more than all of the wealth in the world, Tevye taught his son the words of the Shema Yisrael prayer. When Sharagi asked Tevye why he didn’t teach the boy Yiddish, Tevye answered that Yiddish belonged to the past. Their future was in the mountains and plains of Eretz Yisrael, and not any longer in the confines of a ghetto.

The east winds which had brought the locusts were replaced by winds from a different direction. Each time a wagon arrived from Jaffa, settlers ran to meet it to hear the latest news about the war which was raging in Europe. At the beginning of the bloody conflagration, the battle between Germany, Russia, England, and France didn’t affect the small Jewish colony in Palestine, but when Turkey became an ally of the German Kaiser, things began to change. At first, many of the settlers wanted Germany to win and crush the Czar’s army, to punish the Russians for their oppression of the Jews. But when the Turk’s secret pact with the Germans was revealed, the Jews sided with the British, hoping that England’s forces in Egypt would roust the Turks and expel them from Eretz Yisrael.

One Friday afternoon, Hava and Isaac arrived in Olat HaShachar for a family reunion. Hava was pregnant with a child, and her Talmudic husband was pregnant with news. The former Hevedke had changed so completely that he bore no resemblance to the Russian poet of the past. His beard was longer than Tevye’s. He wore glasses, and covered his barbered blond hair with a hat. His baggy black jacket hid his muscular build, and he no longer held himself straight, but rather stooped in a humble pose which made him seem much smaller than he was.

With shining eyes and great excitement, he spoke at the evening meal, telling them everything he had heard about the war, and about Rabbi Kook’s visit to Europe. Hodel and Hillel, along with Ruchel with Nachman, joined them for the meal, and of course, Nachman listened intently to every word which Isaac related about the revered Rabbi Kook. For Tevye, it was a supreme Sabbath joy to have his family together. Like the cluster of glowing Sabbath candles which his wife and daughters had lit, a radiance shone on his face.

“Before the war broke out,” Isaac related, “the Agudat Yisrael organization in Germany invited Rabbi Kook to come to Berlin to participate in a rabbinical congress against the Zionist movement. Agudah represents the German ultra-orthodox who are adamantly opposed to the secularists. They believed that by having Rabbi Kook at their assembly, they could deal a blow to the Zionists who had been trying to win world approval for the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. At first, the Rav couldn’t decide whether to attend the congress or not. He said it was extremely painful for him to leave the Holy Land’s shores, but he felt he might be able to influence the Agudah rabbis to moderate their opposition to the Zionist cause. Finally, his doctor recommended that a few weeks stay in a Swiss sanatorium might be beneficial to the Rebbetzin’s ailing health, so the Rav agreed to make the journey for the sake of his wife. When the war broke out, the congress was canceled, and the Rav was stranded in Switzerland with no way of returning to Jaffa. Apparently, all passenger ships have been refitted and turned into ships of war.”

Google and the Defenders of Kfar Etzion

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Gush Etzion is an area southeast of Jerusalem, which contains several “settlements.” One of them is Kibbutz Kfar Etzion. Part of the Palestine Mandate from 1917 to 1948, and the Ottoman empire before that, it was purchased from local Arabs and settled by Yemenite Jews in 1927.  They lived there on and off (they were driven out several times by Arab “riots”) until May 1948 when the invading Jordanian army overran it and massacred all but four of its defenders. All of the West Bank and East Jerusalem were made Jew-free by the Jordanians, who illegally occupied the area until 1967, when the kibbutz was reestablished.

The Haganah sent thirty-five men to relieve the besieged kibbutzim of Gush Etzion in January 1948, following an Arab attack. They were wiped out and their bodies mutilated after an Arab shepherd, whom they unwisely set free after encountering him on the way, reported their presence. They are referred to as the lamed hey, “the thirty-five.”

Let me spell it out more clearly: Jews lived there on land they owned. The kibbutzim of Gush Etzion (there were four of them) represented the realization of the promise made by the world to the Jewish people in the Palestine Mandate, that there would be a national home in the land of Israel. Arabs violently resisted their presence, and when Jordan violated the U.N. charter by invading and occupying Judea and Samaria in 1948, Jews were murdered or expelled. Not one Jew was allowed to remain on the Jordanian side of the cease-fire line. Because they were Jews.

But in the eyes of the “international community,” the ethnic cleansing of the area east of the 1949 armistice line and the 19-year Jordanian occupation thereof transformed Gush Etzion into Arab land, land that today “belongs” to the new non-member-state of the U.N., “Palestine.”

Apparently this magical transmutation was recognized by Google, because when Jewish residents of Gush Etzion tried to use Google’s search engine this month, they received a message suggesting that they switch to the appropriate page for their location, Google Palestine (Google.ps), in Arabic, rather than the Hebrew-language Google Israel (Google.il) they had been using. This follows Google’s recent decision to re-title Google.ps “Palestine” instead of “Palestinian territories.”

Some people think this is much ado about nothing, and at a time when nobody knows if Israel will be at war with Hizballah, Syria and Iran tomorrow, they have a point.

But it is indicative of a much bigger problem. In its desire to present itself as a peace-loving member of the “international community,” Israeli governments have not asserted the historic right of the Jewish people, guaranteed in international law, to the land of Israel. They have not challenged the U.N.’s abdication of its responsibility, inherited from the League of Nations, to preserve this right. They have allowed the Arab position, that the Jews are colonialist interlopers occupying Arab land, to become the conventional wisdom.

I am not saying that it isn’t possible for Israel to agree to a negotiated settlement that would transfer some part of the area of the original mandate to Arab sovereignty, assuming that it could be consistent with Israel’s security. But this has to be negotiated from the starting point that the Jewish people have prima facie rights to Judea and Samaria, not the Palestinian Arabs.

This distortion underlies the position of the U.S. that Israel should withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines “with land swaps.” In other words, the U.S. believes that the armistice lines represent the boundaries of “Arab land” and so if Israel annexes any of it, the Arabs must be “compensated.” Why? The land wasn’t theirs to begin with!

Recent Israeli governments have argued for holding onto parts of the territories for security reasons, an argument which makes eminent sense. But they have generally avoided firmly asserting that Israel, on behalf of the Jewish people, holds the legal title to the land and has the right to dispose of it as it sees fit. The Arabs, of course, aren’t shy in saying that it’s all theirs, and that in addition, Jews aren’t allowed to live there.

The Jewish Connection to Israel: Sephardic Aliyot

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

The anti-Israel community often attempts delegitimize the State of Israel by using the rhetorical argument that the Jewish people left Israel following the Bar Kokhba Revolt, were absent from the area for 2000 years, and didn’t return to their ancestral homeland until the rise of the Zionist movement. The reality is that the Jewish people were never absent from the Land of Israel, for Jews continued to live in as well as settle the Land of Israel despite all of the hardships associated with it since ancient times.

For example, 34 synagogues were found in the Golan Heights dating from the late Roman era up until the Arab conquest. There was also a strong Jewish community present in Ein Gedi that continued to flourish up through the sixth century until Byzantine persecutions brought that community to an end. Additionally, a Jewish community found in Baram existed up through the Crusader period and population estimates from the seventh century as well as from 1517 following the Crusades and Black Plague also indicate a Jewish presence in the land of Israel.

The Sephardic Aliyah to Israel

Aside from ancient and medieval Jewish communities that existed within Israel the Jewish Diaspora never lost touch with their ancestral homeland. Hundreds of years prior to the founding of the Zionist movement there were Jewish communities which made Aliyah in the Middle Ages. One of these medieval Aliyot was that of the Sephardic Jewish community which fled Spain following the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition in order to live under Ottoman rule in the Holy Land. Between 1391 through the fifteenth century, a significant number of Jews immigrated to the Holy Land as a response to the persecution they endured in Spain and Portugal.

According to the scholar Jane Gerber, writing in her book The Jews of Spain:

Entire family groups’ banded together and rented ships to make their way to Palestine since they were barred from Christian vessels. This movement contrasted sharply with the previous migration, which involved primarily the scholarly and the elderly who sought burial in the Holy Land. Soon, the Sephardic settlement in Jerusalem increased noticeably, and by the mid-century the community had become so heterogeneous that Hebrew, the only language shared by all, became its spoken language.

Dona Gracia Nasi

In fact, during the height of the Ottoman Empire, one brave Jewish woman of the Renaissance, Dona Gracia Nasi, sought to set up a semi-autonomous Jewish province in the area of Tiberius, Israel. Despite local Arab and French opposition, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent supported the project. Many modern historians evidently view Dona Gracia Nasi’s attempt to establish a Jewish province in Tiberius as part of a larger attempt to revive Jewish statehood prior to the rise of Zionism.

According to Andree Aelion Brooks’ The Woman Who Defied Kings: the Life and Times of Dona Gracia Nasi:

In Tiberius, the newcomers were soon taking over abandoned structures, renovating deserted houses, restoring gaping roofs, clearing the rubble and quarreling in typical Jewish fashion. By 1564 the revival was sufficiently far along that yet another traveler recalled that the scent from the date palm, orange and pine trees was so overpowering that it was almost suffocating. Yet another talked effusively of a wilderness turned into a Garden of Eden. Almost all of the residents, noted one of these travelers, were former conversos from Spain and Portugal!

Although the Tiberius community went into decline after Dona Gracia Nasi passed away, there are some Jews living in Israel today who can trace their residency in the Holy Land back to this Aliyah, known as the Old Yishuv.

Visit United with Israel.

Tevye in the Promised Land, Chapter Forty: Locusts

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Two thousand years before, the armies of Rome had conquered Jerusalem and razed the holy Jerusalem Temple. The Rabbis taught that Rome was not the cause of the Kingdom of Israel’s downfall, but rather the hatred which prevailed at the time between the Jews themselves. The House of Israel was divided within, and this is what brought about the nation’s destruction by a foreign conqueror.

At first, Tevye stood paralyzed. The low flying cloud approached with menacing swiftness. All over the colony, field workers were shielding their faces from a dry, stinging wind. A gusty hamsin was not an unusual thing, but a desert wind had never been followed by the ominously descending black cloud. The Arab workers who had been hired since the start of the strike threw down their tools.

Jarad! Jarad!” they hollered, running away in fear.

More clouds appeared, one following the other like battalions. A gust of wind blew a dozen locusts directly at Tevye’s face. He swatted at them and watched them fall to the ground. Suddenly, the dense cloud swooped down upon him. Futilely, he tried to shield the corn stalks with his body, but his efforts were hopeless. Hundreds and thousands of locusts rained down on the field. They battered Tevye all over his body. Wings flapped in his face. There was nothing that he could do. Falling down on his knees, Tevye clutched his head in his arms and prayed.

Long minutes passed. When the roar of the storm abated, Tevye looked up. Locusts blanketed all of the corn. The ears were invisible. The stalks had turned into columns of the Heaven-sent demons. The corn field had turned into a forest of locusts.

All over the settlement, the scene was the same. Locusts covered the wheat fields, the orchards, the vineyards, and the vegetable gardens. Stalk after stalk, vine after vine, branch after branch, were enveloped with the plague. The shocked settlers were still inspecting the scope of the damage when yet another hot wind blew out of the east and a second black cloud swept over the plain. Defenseless against the great swarms, the Jews ran for shelter inside of their houses and tents. The roar of the locusts sounded over their rooftops like the thunder of heavenly chariots.

Locusts crawled under doorways and battered against tightly closed shutters. With brooms, hysterical women beat at the creatures which fell down from the cracks in their roofs.

By late afternoon, the prisoners could once again venture forth from their houses. The evil wind had vanished, but the army of locusts remained on the crops. Tevye had never seen anything like it. The nearest thing to his memory was a late Russian frost. With sunken expressions, the settlers weighed the devastation. A year’s work was doomed. Tevye’s own tomato patch had disappeared under the heaps of insects in his garden. There were so many of them, he could hear them munching away. When he kicked them off a vine, others quickly took their place. Stunned by the nightmare, he cast a glance up to Heaven. This new plague was worse than the mosquitoes and swamps.

“Are we made out of iron that You test us like this?” he asked, raising his hands to the sky. “Is it fair to send millions of locusts against a handful of men? Why? Tell me why?”

“It’s a punishment from God,” Carmel said, standing beside him, holding their son in her arms.

“Yes,” Tevye said. “We don’t always behave like we should. But if He wanted us to be angels, He should have created us with wings.

Elisha blew on a shofar, summoning the settlers together. After leading the afternoon prayer, Nachman stood before the congregation with a Bible in his hand. Even the striking workers were present, feeling an equal sense of tragedy and loss.

“When a disaster falls upon the community, we are all called upon to examine our deeds,” he exhorted. “All of the feuding, the curses, the words spoken in anger and hatred between brothers, this is the cause of this terrible plague. Listen to the words of the Prophet….”

Not a man in the room made a rustle. Everyone sat in the synagogue and listened intently as Nachman read from the Book. Outside the door, the woman crowded together to hear.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/the-book-shelf/tevye-in-the-promised-land-books/tevye-in-the-promised-land-chapter-forty-locusts/2013/05/23/

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