Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Shamrak Report: Holocaust Commemoration - the Good and the Ugly

by David M. Halbfinger
World leaders, who came to commemorate the Holocaust, were urged to fight Deadly Cancer ! The extraordinary meeting, on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, heard warnings about the present-day rise in anti-Jewish violence.
The gathering in Jerusalem was orchestrated to focus even more on the present day, with anti-Jewish violence and rhetoric spreading across Europe and North America.
King Felipe VI of Spain - whose inherited titles include the Crusader-era King of Jerusalem - urged other world leaders to show an unyielding commitment to fighting the ignorant intolerance, hatred and the total lack of human empathy that permitted and gave birth to the Holocaust.
The actual anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where 1.1 million people were slaughtered, most of them Jews, was observed in Poland on Monday at the site of the infamous death camp near the town of Oswiecim.
President Reuven Rivlin, in remarks as host of the dinner, urged that the point of the Holocaust forum not be lost in the noise of nationalist-tinged disputes (b/w Poland and Russia). The role of political leaders is to shape the future, he said. Leave history for the historians.
I hope and pray that from this room, the message will go out to every country on earth: that the leaders of the world will stand united, will stand united together in the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and extremism, Mr. Rivlin said In defending democracy and democratic values. This is the call of our time.
Anti-Semitic Idiots and Political Prostitutes
Must not be allowed in Israel!
French President Emmanuel Macron has been involved in an altercation with Israeli security officers in Jerusalem's Old City. He shouted at Israeli security officers on a stop at a church in the Old City that France considers its sovereign territory, recalling a similar tussle in Jerusalem involving his predecessor Jacques Chirac in 1996. (The Church belongs to France, but this is the Jewish sovereign stateEven while vising Israel during Holocaust remembrance, Macron couldn't help himself and met Abbas in Ramallah ahead of Holocaust remembrance forumHe is not the only one who met the Holocaust denier, Abbas, during this visit. Other international Anti-Semites, like Prince Charles, also could not resist temptation to snub the Jewish state!)
Welcome to Shamrak Report!
We need unity of Jewish people and true Jewish leadership 
to achieve Jewish National Goal
The right of Jewish people to live in peace
 on all Jewish Ancestral Land!
Zionism is Jewish National Independence Movement!
I began publishing this editorial at the end of 2001.
Please Support Shamrak Report!            
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Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak
Israel has too many narcissistic, opportunistic and even idiotic political 'jesters', but hardly any real Zionist leaders, who are actually care about the future of Israel and the Jewish people!
The International Criminal Court (ICC) will delay its debate into whether it has the jurisdiction to probe alleged Israeli war crimes in Palestinian Authority-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem. (UN involvement is never good for Israel! International Anti-Semites love to smear Israel for as long as possible with fake accusations, dropping the charges quietly laterIt has been done many times before.)
Three Arabs terrorists infiltrate from Gaza and attack soldiers, sparking a firefight which ended in the deaths of the terrorists. (Tolerance must have its limit!)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday presented four options aimed at boosting the protection of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, from sending UN rights monitors and unarmed observers to deploying a military or police force under UN mandate. (UN military units were protecting Hezbollah from Israel's retaliation in Southern Lebanon, and now he wants to facilitate attacks from Gaza.)
Ateret Cohanim organization succeeded in having a Palestinian family evicted from the neighborhood of Silwan, at the southern end of the Temple Mount near the Dung Gate in Jerusalem, on the grounds that the land was owned by Jews before 1948. The Jerusalem neighborhood originally housed Yemenite Jews who arrived in Jerusalem in the late 1800's. The Jewish residents were forced out of the neighborhood and their homes were razed in 1938 by British authorities, (after the British instigated) dangerous Arab revolts in the area. The ruling could set a precedent for the eviction of another 700 Palestinian residents living in Silwan. (Hopefully, more Jewish land will be reclaimed soon!)
Jerusalem will soon become the capital of a global caliphate, a Palestinian preacher has told a crowd of Muslim worshipers at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, before calling on them to seek martyrdom. He told the enthusiastic crowd that three prophecies would soon be fulfilled: that a rightly-guided caliphate will be established, that Jerusalem will be liberated and established as its capital, and that Islam will throw its neighbors to the ground and achieve world domination. The real task of the Muslim faithful is to wage Jihad for the sake of Allah, and make the word of the infidels inferior to the word of Allah, he said, before calling upon them to become martyrs for Allah. (When will the Western BDS supporters and Anti-Semitic idiots realise that after Jews they are next in the list of advancing Islamism ?)
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, ministers and senior officials from 34 countries, members of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), published a statement condemning distortion of the Holocaust and historical revisionism. In recent years, Poland enacted a law that prohibited implicating it in Nazi crimes. Hungary was accused of attempting to obscure its responsibility for the extermination of Jews and Lithuania was accused of clearing the name of a Nazi criminal recognized as a national hero. ( By restricting Jewish immigration from Europe, international Anti-Semites deliberately facilitated the Holocaust, even before the WW2 began! During the war they did nothing to stop or hinder the Nazi genocidal system!)
Jordan s parliament on Sunday approved a draft law banning the import of Israeli natural gas. The motion was passed unanimously by all 130 lawmakers. Earlier this month, Israel began pumping gas to Jordan from its offshore Leviathan gas field. Most Jordanians still view Israel as the enemy, despite a peace treaty between the countries. Israel gives Jordan 50,000,000 cubic meters of water each year, and also agreed to help Jordan use desalination technology in order to find additional water. So, when it comes to water, the Jordanians aren t rejecting the Zionist offering!
Israel s internal security agency, Shin Bet, says it has thwarted over 560 significant terror plots in 2019, including suicide 10 suicide plots, 4 abductions and over 300 shooting attacks. Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman said the attacks were aimed against Israeli civilians and infrastructure. ( No other country would tolerate this security threat! Why does the inapt Israeli leadership is?)
The Palestinian Authority s daily newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida (The New Life) called for murders in Jerusalem to halt the upcoming diplomatic event marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz to be attended by more than 40 world leaders. The opinion piece said: One shot will disrupt the ceremony and one body will cancel the ceremony. Hamas may see this event as a unique chance for an earth-shattering rocket attack on the unprecedented concentration of world leaders in Jerusalem. (Israel must change the ugly status quo, with or without help from the PA! Quiet and Ceasefires do not workRemoval of Israel-hating enemy population from Jewish land is the only optionLet them have New Life somewhere else!)
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Thursday that his nation had not fully learned the lessons of the Holocaust, as Jew-hatred was still growing. Steinmeier vowed to combat anti-Semitism, as well as the poison that is nationalism. He promised to protect Jewish life in Germany and to stand with the State of Israel. ( Words are cheapGermany has been allowing act of Antisemitism to be committed by neo-Nazis, leftists and Muslims. It is one of the main Western 'partners' of Iran.)
Israel s state-owned electric company said Wednesday it was ending power cuts to the West Bank after the Palestinian Authority paid over half of its outstanding debt. of the West Bank over the NIS 1.7 billion ($500 million) debt owed by the main Palestinian power distributor in Judea and Samaria. ( Hospitals and many other bills are still not paid by the PA. Israel must start deducting funds from the PA's taxes, it collects.)
Quote of the Week:
"Have you noticed that all the nations who virtually left the Jewish people in Israel to be slaughtered by Muslims states in 1948, are now being overrun by Muslims who are living off their welfare, gang raping their girls, causing havoc, crime and murders and creating almost dessert like places wherever they populate! Has Israel gone mad, surely to take the enemy behind Israeli lines is straight murder for the Jewish people? It is bad enough that governments are brain dead enough to bring them to the West, but to take them into Israel is unbelievable!" a comment from a Christian friend.
by Dov Trachtman
For the past 19 years, the south has been battered by terrorism from Gaza that has the sole aim of taking human life, and when are the decision-makers going to actually do something to help us?
&The question is not where one of the bomb balloons (or rockets) sent from Gaza will explode, but rather when and how many casualties it will cause. Will our decision-makers only wake up when there are dead and wounded? The State of Israel is suffering from chronic procrastination that is affecting everyone's daily lives, especially those of us living in the south.
It started with mortars and rocket fire, and over the last two years new mechanisms of death such as incendiary kites and bomb balloons have been added to the roster.
It is pure luck that there have not been any victims of these new types of terrorism, but since when have we relied on luck instead of addressing the root of the problem?
Each time, the State of Israel finds another excuse to postpone dealing with the problem.
Sometimes it's the Iranians at the gates, sometimes it's Hezbollah in their tunnels and sometimes its efforts to reach a deal with Hamas.
Sometimes it's because of the right-wing government, sometimes because of the left-wing government and sometimes because of the interim government.
This is what Israeli procrastination looks like: Explosive balloons are delivered to our children in the morning, incendiary kites are dispatched to our farmers at noon and rockets are fired at us all at night.
A sovereign and strong state is not supposed to simply
accept such ugly surreal reality!
Peace Can Only be Made with Defeated Enemies!
...It is the hope of every generation that there will be peace here, but the classic diplomatic paradigm of Israel giving up territories has failed before our eyes time and again. So we have to change our tactics and seek to quell the other side, for peace can only be made with defeated enemies.

Deal of the Century: Cautious Pessimism

by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

The most pro-Israel American president in history just released the most pro-Israel American peace plan in history, and the first that doesn’t call on Israel to make “painful sacrifices” up front or expect Israeli concessions in exchange for empty words, gestures and ceremonies. Do I think it will bring real peace? Certainly not. But it leaves me cautiously pessimistic for the future (optimism in the Middle East is misplaced until the coming of Moshiach).

The negative: recognition of a Palestinian state is a bone in the throat of every Torah Jew (or should be), as is the potential loss of sovereignty over parts of the heartland of the Jewish people that G-d granted us for eternity. As one rabbi once put it, no generation has the right to compromise the boundaries of the land of Israel that were given to us by the Creator and delineated in the Torah. That land is the possession of the Jewish people for all time and no single individual, group or generation has the moral, halachic or legal right to waive that possession. This sentiment was expressed not by a Religious Zionist but in 1937, by the vociferously anti-Zionist Rav Elchanan Wasserman HY”D, in encouraging opposition to the Peel Commission’s partition plan.

The loss of Israeli territory in the Negev is especially gratuitous and irksome, especially considering the years of war and terror and hostility that the Arabs foisted on Israel. A formal place for them in Yerushalayim is similarly agonizing, even it is doesn’t change much the reality on the ground.

Secondly, the negotiations over the agreement almost presuppose a right-wing government in Israel because a left-wing government would use this basic framework – a tacit acceptance by the right-wing of a Palestinian state and the surrender of more territory – and negotiate into weakness, danger, and vulnerability. There should be no confidence that a right-wing government will rule Israel after the next election (or the one that will follow a few months later). With PM Netanyahu’s formal indictment today, just hours before the White House announcement, his prospects for heading the next government have dimmed even more. Hence the hazards ahead, which will be entrusted to less experienced politicians and leaders.

So why then is this plan not an unmitigated disaster, as has been almost every other American or Israeli peace plan going back to the Rogers plan in 1969? It is because it must be measured not against Paradise but against the status quo. The status quo has worked well for Israel in the last decade. Terror exists but has been drastically reduced, the economy is thriving, personal security and well-being have been enhanced, and the situation in the countries surrounding Israel has superseded any internal anxiety. The “Palestinians” have been marginalized by the Arab world, much less by the West. Their bad choices have finally caught up to them. They have no base of support, no passionate advocates anymore beyond the Israeli and the American Jewish left. They are thus reduced to ranting and raving, making wild threats, burning pictures of President Trump, and chanting. Their vehement opposition to this plan is one of its important selling points.

It brings to mind Abba Eban’s famous quip that that “Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” There should be confidence that they will miss this opportunity as well, thus rendering moot Israel’s technical agreement to a Palestinian state and partial renunciation of sovereignty. (Indeed, Israel hasn’t formally accepted those terms; it has simply agreed to use the Trump as the framework for negotiations.) Finally, after many decades, Arab intransigence has cost them. Yes, they should have accepted the original Camp David offer of autonomy in 1978, complied with the Oslo agreement of the 1990’s, embraced the Clinton parameters of the year 2000, the Olmert plan of 2007, etc. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. They didn’t. Their leadership always fails them miserably, if indeed they are truly representative of their people. They have always implemented the game plan of rejecting offers in the hopes of getting a better one at some point, pocketing tangible concessions in exchange for words (the classic has always been “renouncing terror”) and never really conceding anything tangible of their own.

That dynamic has now been reversed, and how that must stick in the craw of the old Oslo, two-state illusion crowd. Now, Israel will within days be able to declare full sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the settlements in Judea and Samaria; a concrete and substantial achievement up front. It is the Palestinian state that has to be created over the course of next four years and only if the Arabs adhere to certain benchmarks that alone would alter the nature of Palestinian society. And if they don’t – and who really thinks they will? – Israel will have pocketed this enormous diplomatic accomplishment at absolutely no cost. That is genius, and credit goes to the diplomatic team that conjured up this strategy. The onus is on the Arabs – to accept the plan as a basis for negotiations even as it makes absolutely no reference to a return of refugees or compensation for loss of homes, and implicitly rejects both. And both of those claims, surely, if raised, would be balanced against similar and more substantive claims by Jews who were forced to flee Arab lands in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

What the Trump Plan has accomplished is force the Palestinians to confront their suicidal ideology and genocidal ambitions head on. That won’t be easy for them, and they will likely be unable to overcome their rabid Jew hatred (although giving their kleptocrats access to $50B might be irresistible enough to compel them to say the right words and open the spigots of money). Tellingly, representatives of three Arab countries were at the White House today, another indication of how the allegiances in the Middle East have shifted in the last several years even as Palestinian diplomacy, if that word can even be used in their context, has remained stagnant. They are trapped in a time warp, the world has passed them by, and their only hope for their future is to come to terms with the new reality. Their old game plan has left them in last place. Hysteria is a poor substitute for statecraft.

But their fallback position in times of diplomatic opportunity has always been terror, and that too engenders some cautious pessimism. Their leadership has already rejected the plan (MK Ahmed Tibi, somehow still a member of Knesset: “this is a wedding without the bride”). It would be unsurprising if missiles and rockets start to fly or if bombs start exploding in cities, r”l. Israel is naturally on high alert but perfection in these matters is difficult to sustain permanently. We will need divine mercy and the thwarting of the evil plans of our enemies.

It is clear that only Donald Trump could have produced such a plan. The deep state of the State Department must be apoplectic, and the Israel haters in the EU must be beside themselves wondering how this happened. The Arabs must be wondering how this guy ever got elected. (They are not alone!) He ran as a disrupter, and this is a characteristic disruption. After annexation of even parts of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley by Israel, the terrain – literal and diplomatic – will be significantly and perhaps even permanently altered. There is still land in Judea and Samaria (about a third) whose disposition will be frozen for four years and awaits negotiations. Time is on Israel’s side.

And it took this President to do it. Perhaps Jews will notice. Israel wins merely by improving the status quo in its favor and would certainly gain if the other side acquiesced in its existence. But that too is unnecessary in the near term. History is made through such decisions. Even if it is not all to my liking, the deal of the century represents a sea change for the region, dramatic and positive steps for Israel and a day of reckoning for the Palestinians. You can oppose a Palestinian state and a further partition of Israel and still implicitly favor this proposal. What makes it an especially good deal for Israel is that the Arabs will reject it – leaving Israel advantaged for the future in a multitude of ways that should inspire chants of “Make Israel Great Again.” Or something like that.

Rav Kook on Parashat Bo: Memories of the Soul

“וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל הָעָם זָכוֹר אֶת הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר יְצָאתֶם מִמִּצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים”

“Moses told the people: Remember (zachor) this day that you have left Egypt, the place of slavery.” (Exod. 13:3)

The word zachor is not in the imperative tense - z'chor! remember! Rather, it is in the infinitive absolute form. This grammatical form indicates that the Torah is not just commanding us to remember the anniversary of the Exodus from Egypt.

Zachor implies a state of being. It describes us as a people who always remember this historic date.

Ben-Gurion and the Mayflower

In 1936, the Peel Commission questioned David Ben-Gurion, then head of the Jewish Agency, concerning Jewish rights to the Land of Israel. Ben-Gurion gave the following reply:

Three hundred years ago, a ship called the Mayflower set sail to the New World. In it were Englishmen unhappy with English society and government, who sought an uninhabited coast to settle and establish a new world. They landed in America and were among the first pioneers and builders of that land.

This was a great event in the history of England and America. But I would like to know: Is there a single Englishman who knows the exact date and hour of the Mayflower’s launch? How much do American children - or grownups - know about this historic trip? Do they know how many people were in the boat? Their names? What they wore? What they ate? Their path of travel? What happened to them on the way? Where they landed?

More than 3,300 years before the Mayflower set sail, the Jews left Egypt. Any Jewish child, whether in America or Russia, Yemen or Germany, knows that his forefathers left Egypt at dawn on the 15th of Nisan. What did they wear? Their belts were tied and their staffs were in their hands. They ate matzot, and arrived at the Red Sea after seven days.

He knows the path of their journey through the desert and the events of those forty years in the desert. They ate manna and slav birds and drank from Miriam’s well. They arrived in Jordan facing Jericho. The child can even quote the family names from the Torah.

Ben-Gurion concluded his address:

Jews worldwide still eat matzah for seven days from the 15th of Nisan. They retell the story of the Exodus, concluding with the fervent wish, “Next Year in Jerusalem.” This is the nature of the Jews.1

Ingrained in Their Collective Soul

Rav Kook explained that the people were not commanded to remember the 15th of Nisan. That was unnecessary! Rather, Moses was informing them that this date would be forever etched in their collective consciousness. On this day, the Jewish people were forever changed. On this day their souls gained eternal freedom.

“This date will be ingrained in the soul of the Jewish people. That is the secret that Moses revealed to the people. They will succeed in understanding the inner nature of their souls. They will know that this day must be remembered. Therefore, the word zachor is in the infinitive absolute form.”

(Adapted from Olat Re’iyah vol. I, p. 37 by Rabbi Chanan Morrison)

See also: Bo: The Exodus and Tefillin

1 The Jewish Case Before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine (Jerusalem, 1947), pp. 63, 65.

The Children of Israel had Light in their Dwelling Places

by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

“There was an opaque darkness in all Egypt, lasting three days. People could not see one another. No one left his place for three days. The Children of Israel, however, had light in their dwelling-places” (Exodus 10:22-23).

Rashi explains that there were different levels of darkness. For three days, people could not see one another. Then, for three days it was even darker and “no one left his place.” Someone sitting could not stand and someone standing could not sit.

This idea bears an allusion to the spiritual and emotional state of human beings. When people are withdrawn into themselves and cut off from their environment, it is as though “people cannot see one another.” Sometimes a person can be so depressed and so cut off from the world that it is as though he cannot move. He cannot change positions. If he is sitting he cannot stand, and if he is standing he cannot sit.

Conversely, if someone wishes to illuminate his soul and his life, and to spread light to those around him, he must “see” his brothers. He must notice them and love them. Such is the meaning of “The Children of Israel had light in their dwelling-places.” When someone is on a level such that he sees and notices every Jew, is connected to his surroundings, and loves G-d’s people and world, he merits to have light in his heart and to spread light to others.

Right now, we need to increase love and faith, to see and notice and love one another. We must follow in the path of Aaron, the High Priest, who loved peace and pursued it, who loved his fellow men and brought them near to the Torah. If we do this, then “all of Israel will have light in their dwelling-places.”

Looking forward to complete salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Tweet and Delete

by Victor Rosenthal

Israel has experienced very heavy rains recently. Several people were killed when they were swept away by floods. In a particularly gruesome case, a young couple died of exposure after being trapped in a water-filled elevator in a basement parking garage. The emergency telephone system was not able to handle the volume of calls generated by the massive storm, and rescuers weren’t alerted until it was too late.

Last Friday afternoon, Qais Abu Ramila, an 8-year old Arab boy from eastern Jerusalem went missing. First responders and hundreds of Arab and Jewish volunteers searched for him until the next morning, when he was found dead, drowned in a deep pool of rainwater near his home.

Another tragedy. Possibly, as his parents said, the Jerusalem municipality should have filled in the pit. Often things aren’t done that should be, and the results are heartbreaking. One hopes lessons are learned.

But there was another side to the case of Abu Ramila, where lessons need to be learned but probably won’t be. Shortly after he disappeared, rumors started that he had been kidnapped by a group of “settlers.” Someone produced a security video that showed a boy being pulled along by the hand by an older man; but the boy’s father said that the child in the video was not his son. Nevertheless, despite a complete lack of evidence, the rumors spread. Some Arabs even tried to enter a nearby Jewish neighborhood in search of the “kidnappers.”

And then social media amplified the blood libel into an international event. Former Palestinian Authority official Hanan Ashrawi retweeted a fanciful tweet by “@RealSeifBitar” – possibly a fake account, presently nonexistent – which accused “a herd of violent #Israeli settlers” of assaulting the boy and throwing him into a well to die. She was followed by others, including professional (since he no longer has a job in the British Parliament) Jew-hater George Galloway, and, shockingly, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who retweeted Ashrawi.

When it became clear that the boy’s death was accidental, Ashrawi deleted her original tweet and tweeted a partial apology, saying “My apologies for retweeting something that’s not fully verified. It seems that the news of his being kidnapped is not certain.”

Not fully verified? Not certain? How about, “a dangerous lie and murderous incitement?” But at least she went this far. Rashida Tlaib simply deleted her retweet. The shameless Galloway left it up and even pinned it to the top of his Twitter account.

Ashrawi and Tlaib are media veterans who fully understand how this plays. In case you don’t, let me lay it out:

First, someone tweets a false accusation. The tweet stays up for a day or so. Many people see it and believe it, especially if the author is a well-known personality like Ashrawi or Tlaib.

Next, the author deletes the tweet. Nobody can see it. The only ones who miss it are those who want to document after the fact that the author engaged in incitement to riot and perhaps terrorism to “revenge” the “crime” committed by Jews.

If the author wishes to prevent damage to their reputation, they may issue a retraction, as Ashrawi did. But of course the unemotional and tentative retraction has little impact compared to the original accusation.

Tweet and delete. If someone complains, shrug. Anyone can make a mistake.

There is no excuse for what they did. They know how the Palestinian rumor machine works. They know that @RealSeifBitar is not a real journalist, and that his vicious language is not that of a reliable source.

They should know that the blood libel that leads to the murder of Jews, sometimes to the destruction of whole Jewish communities, has a long history in both the Christian and the Muslim worlds.

But they don’t care, because it serves their purpose. Because it serves the Palestinian Cause. Because – maybe they would even admit this if you asked – truth for them is not independent of the observer. Truth for a Palestinian is identical with what helps the Cause. And that is defined as what hurts Jews and Israel.

So it is fine to make up massacres that didn’t happen (Jenin, 2002) as did pro-Palestinian journalist Phil Reeves, or to make movies about them like Mohammad Bakri. There’s no problem with accusing Israel of opening the dams to flood Gaza, even when there are no dams in the area. And if you get caught in a lie, no big deal. Just move on.

Tweet and delete. Because the Palestinian Theory of Truth says you can.

Palestinian Elections: How Abbas and Europe Are Trying to Blame Israel

by Khaled Abu Toameh
  • The last time there were Palestinian elections, Hamas won in a landslide. Even if Israel does agree to allow Arab residents of Jerusalem to take part in the Palestinian elections, Abbas will undoubtedly find another excuse to continue his policy of foot-dragging.
  • Abbas and his senior officials in Ramallah have, in fact, turned the PA into a private fiefdom. They have no functioning parliament, no free media, and no open debate. The only people Abbas consults with are his "yes-men" who appear to agree with every word he says. This is how Abbas likes matters, and he obviously sees no reason why Palestinians should waste money and energies on new elections as long as they have him as president for life.
  • As long as Abbas can use the issue of the elections to denounce Israel, why not do so? His friends in the European Union would be more than happy to join him in skewering Israel for not allowing Palestinian elections (if that turned out to be the case). Many EU representatives are Abbas's useful idiots, gladly parroting his every anti-Israel pronouncement.

The Palestinians have been without a functioning parliament since Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. The parliament building is still standing, dusty and unused, in Ramallah, and Palestinian parliament members have continued receiving salaries although they have been doing nothing. (Photo by Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty Images)

This month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas entered the 16th year of his four-year-term in office. Abbas, who was elected to succeed Yasser Arafat in January 2005, has since avoided holding a Palestinian presidential election, each time using a different excuse. While in the past he used to blame his rivals in Hamas for the failure to hold a new election, Abbas is now trying to hold Israel responsible. His attempt seems to be supported by some Europeans.

Abbas's four-year tenure ended in January 2009. Two years earlier, Hamas had violently seized control of the Gaza Strip, by ousting Abbas's Palestinian Authority (PA) regime and throwing some of his loyalists from the top floors of tall buildings.

Back then, Abbas's excuse may have sounded convincing: he and his senior PA officials argued that there was no chance Hamas would allow a free election in the Gaza Strip.

Continue Reading Article

Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Jordan Valley Is Not Up for Negotiation

by Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Jordan Valley, in its full scope and broadest definition, is essential to Israel’s national security. Its retention by Israel requires not only military deployment but a comprehensive development plan—i.e., the construction of housing, roads, and infrastructure—that will establish this territory as Israel’s eastern wing.

Continue to full article ->

Miracles and Nature

by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg 
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh

Parshat Bo begins (Shemot 10:1-2):

Hashem said to Moshe, "Come to Pharaoh, for I have made his heart and the heart of his servants stubborn so that I can put these signs of Mine in his midst; and so that you may relate in the ears of your son and your son's son that I made a mockery of Egypt ... that you may know that I am Hashem.

Miracles are the foundation of belief. Thus, G-d opened the Ten Commandments with the declaration, "I am Hashem, your G-d, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt." (Shemot 20:2) We find, however, an apparent contradiction regarding the issue of miracles.

There are times that we are told to sit by passively and not to do anything, but rather to rely on miracles. For example, at the splitting of the Red Sea Bnei Yisrael were told, "Hashem shall make war for you, and you shall remain silent." (Shemot 14:13) Similarly, Gideon was told in his war against Midian that there were too many soldiers with him, "lest Israel aggrandize itself over Me, saying, ' My own strength has saved Me.'" (Shoftim 7:2) He maintained only three hundred men, and through them Israel was saved. In the same way, King Hezekiah said, in contrast to previous kings, "I do not have the strength neither to kill, nor to chase, nor to sing [praise]. Rather, I will lie on my bed and You will do. G-d said, 'I will do,' as it says, 'An angel of Hashem went out and struck down the Assyrian camp.'" (Midrash Rabbah Eichah 4)

On the other hand, we find that in the battle of Ai Yehoshua was required to take action and to employ military tactics. Similarly, we are familiar with the rule, "We do not rely on miracles." (Pesachim 64b)

Rav Kook zt"l explains that the resolution to this issue depends on the spiritual state of the nation. When Bnei Yisrael are on a high spiritual level and are firm in their belief in G-d, there is no need for overt miracles. The opposite is true; the greatest demonstration of faith is when one follows a natural course of human hishtadlut (endeavor) and Divine help accompanies him in whatever he does. The Ran writes this same idea in his Drashot, on the pasuk, "Remember Hashem, your G-d; that it was He that gave you strength to make wealth." (Devarim 8:18) The pasuk does not say that G-d makes the wealth for you while you sit idle, but rather all the doing is yours and Hashem supports you and gives you the strength to make the wealth!

In this vein, Chazal comment (Shabbat 118b), "One who recites the Hallel every day disgraces and blasphemes," because in doing so he bases belief only on overt miracles alone. However, true belief is recognizing the Divine assistance that is always present in all courses of nature. This is what we say in davening, "On your miracles that are with us every day, and on your wonders that are at every moment."

However, when the nation falls from its spiritual stature -- when it is preoccupied with materialism and does not see the hand of G-d in everything -- man's hishtadlut will not lead to belief. Just the opposite! The more he expends human effort, the more he will think, "My strength and the might of my hand made me all this wealth." (Devarim 8:17) In such a situation, it is necessary to increase the performance of miracles and to minimize human attempt and effort.

In the period of Egypt and the Wilderness, when the nation was young, there was a need for overt miracles in order to establish belief in Yisrael. However, when they entered Eretz Yisrael and were already accustomed to miracles, it was possible to rely on human effort and to see G-d's hand evident in it. In contrast, in the time of Gideon the nation had already sunk to a low spiritual level. The same was true in the times of Hezekiah, after his father, Achaz, tried to abolish the name of G-d from Yisrael. Thus, there was a need to refrain from human initiative and to rely on a miracle in order to strengthen belief.

The ultimate redemption can come in one of two ways. The first is miraculously, "As in the days when you left Egypt I will show it [=the nation] wonders." (Micha 7:15) The second is in a natural manner, "little by little." The superficial view is that if we are worthy we will merit overt miracles; if not, the redemption will come about through natural means. However, according to what we explained above, the opposite is true. In the ideal situation there is no need for miracles, and only if the nation declines will there be a need for miracles.

The Gemara in Yoma (29a) compares the miracles of Egypt and of the first Temple to night and Esther to dawn. "Just as dawn is the end of the night, so too Esther is the end of all miracles." When the dawn breaks there is no longer any need for a candle and it is possible to extinguish it. In the ultimate redemption there will be no need for miracles since there will be a great light, and the Divine Providence will be recognized also in the course of nature.

The Uniqueness of the Jewish Calendar

by Rabbi Dov Berl Wein

This week’s parsha is the introduction to the halachic process of observance of the commandments of the Torah. In every commandment there are numerous layers of meaning and importance. There is the social and moral value that the commandment represents and teaches. There are also the technical minutiae and complex details that comprise the fabric of every commandment. The commandments regarding the observance of Pesach and of the structuring of the Jewish calendar are part of this week’s parsha. The general values of these commandments are apparent to all. Pesach represents for us the value and concept of freedom from bondage and teaches us the beginning history of our people. The calendar has always been a necessity for social and commercial life and keeps us in tune with the changing seasons of the year. These are the general reasons and lessons of these commandments. However, as we also all know, the devil always lies in the details. What is the mechanism that will enable the story of our departure from Egyptian slavery to freedom to remain fresh and vital thousands of years later? Values only have life if they are somehow translated into human action and normative behavior. Theories are wonderful but they rarely survive the tests of time and ever changing circumstances. Every scientific theory is therefore subjected to be proven by physical experiment and validation. Freedom is a great theory but unless somehow put into practical application in society it remains divorced from the realities of everyday existence. Just ask the North Koreans or the Syrians or the Iranians about freedom! It is the technical requirements of the commandment - the matzo, chametz, hagadah, etc. - that alone are able to preserve the value and validate the theory and guarantee its meaningfulness for millennia on end.

The uniqueness of the Jewish calendar lies also in its technical details. The permanent calendar that we now follow, established in the fifth century CE, is a lunar calendar with adjustments to make it fit into a solar year span. The technical halachic details how the last Sanhedrin squared this circle are too numerous and detailed for the scope of this parsha sheet. However, suffice it to say, that if not for those details and calculations our calendar would long ago have disappeared just as the ancient calendars of Egypt, Babylonia, Greece and Rome have disappeared. Many people look at calendars not as Godly commandments but as merely a practical way to mark our passage through time. Thus the details are really not important to them since we are only interested in the so-called result. But in Judaism the details are of equal if not even greater importance than the general value and end result that they represent. In our time, those Jews who for various reasons only concentrated on the values, who were good Jews at heart but observed no commandments or details, rarely were privileged to have Jewish descendants. Of course concentrating only on the details and ignoring the value system that it represents is also a distortion of the Godly word. Seeing both the general value of a commandment and observing its necessary technical details in practice is the guarantee for allowing the Torah to survive amongst the people of Israel for all times.

A Mighty Hand and an Outstretched Arm

by HaRav Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Beit El

"We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and God our Lord took us out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm." We read these words from the Haggadah each year on Seder Night.

The question is: Why do we make special note of the fact that the Almighty took us out with a "mighty hand"? Is God's taking us out of Egypt with a mighty hand it so important? It would seem that the most important thing is the fact that the He took us out of slavery to freedom. Even had God taken us out of Egypt peacefully without striking the Egyptians, we would have to thank Him. Perhaps it would have even been better had He taken us out in a peaceful manner, placing in Pharaoh's heart the desire for peace and goodwill so that he let us go of his own desire. Would this not have been better than to take us out by force, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, making the Egyptians hate us?

The answer to this question is this: It is precisely due to God's taking us out with a "mighty hand" that we must thank Him. God did us a favor, for, by arranging things such, He made it known to the entire world that the Creator of the universe had chosen us to be his people.

All understood the mighty and miraculous plagues to be the work of the hand of God, as it is written, "And the Magicians said, 'This is the finger of God, and the hand of God." Indeed, only the Almighty Creator of the Universe could perform such signs and wonders, and He did this in order to take the People of Israel out of Egypt. This act caused people to conclude that the Jewish people had been chosen as the nation of God. From this point onward, the Jews would forever be seen as the chosen nation of the Almighty, and being God's chosen people serves to guarantee the eternal existence of the Nation of Israel.

When, for example, the Children of Israel sinned with the Golden Calf, and God wanted to destroy them, Moses stood up and prayed to God, telling him that it was unthinkable to eradicate the Jewish people. This would be a desecration of God's name, for when they were redeemed from Egypt it became known to the entire world that the People of Israel are God's people, and if the Almighty were to destroy them, the nations would say that because God was unable to bring them into the Land of Israel, he destroyed them in the wilderness. "Why should the Egyptians be able to say that You took them out with evil intentions..."

We may thus conclude that the plagues which God brought upon Egypt served to publicize the bond between God and the People of Israel, and this fact is what saves the People of Israel from all tribulation throughout the generations. Even if, Heaven forbid, Israel should happen to sin and thus make themselves unworthy of salvation, God, for the sake of His great name which is attached to Israel, comes to their aid, saving them from all distress.

So, God performed a great act of kindness by taking us out of Egypt from slavery to freedom, and, perhaps principally, by striking the Egyptians with great and Divine plagues. In this manner, the name of God became attached to the People of Israel. The honor of Israel is the honor of God. And when Israel suffers (Heaven forbid!), God's name is desecrated. We can therefore rest assured that the Jewish people will persevere forever and be saved from all affliction, even if we are not truly worthy of such.

Therefore, we thank the Almighty for each and every plague which he brought upon the Egyptians. This is what we say in the thanksgiving Hallel prayer on the Passover Night: "To Him who struck the Egyptians through their firstborn - His kindness endures forever! With a mighty hand and an outstretched arm - His kindness endures forever!" These plagues are an act of everlasting Heavenly kindness. Because of them, God protects us.

It is possible to find this concept expressed in Rabbi Yaakov MiLita's commentary to the Passover Haggadah, entitled "Maaseh Nisim."

Liberation Built on Self-Sacrifice

by HaRav Shaul Yisraeli, zt"l

based on Siach Shaul, p. 217-8

The pasuk in Yechezkel (16:6), which we read in the Haggada, repeats the phrase, "In your blood you shall live." The midrash (P’sikta 17) says it refers to the blood of mila and the blood of Korban Pesach. We are forbidden to give the Korban Pesach to a non-Jew or to one who does not have a brit mila (Shemot 12:43,48). Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer says: "In the merit of the blood of brit mila and Korban Pesach, they were liberated from Egypt, and in the merit of the blood of brit mila and Korban Pesach, they will be liberated at the end of ‘the fourth kingdom.’"

The Korban Pesach represents the liberation. We are to eat roasted lamb with the whole family celebrating as a unit at an elaborate meal, on the one hand, and eat matza and maror to remember the past, as well. Only if, at the time of success, we remember the times of affliction, can we be sure that the light of success will not blind us. This is best accomplished when there is first a brit mila.

There are many who are ready to sacrifice for independence as long as that independence seems fit for posh festivities. At that point, one does not want to have to remember the past with its difficulties. One wants to see in the independent nation a new nation, in our case, not the same "Yiddelach" from the exile. A certain self-pride is born, as we see, with a hollow boastfulness, which can eventually turn into empty disregard for others. To combat that, we need the blood of mila. The independence of Israel is a chain of self-sacrifice, whose purpose is not to let us rest on our laurels. Indeed, one who is not circumcised cannot take part in the full Pesach celebration. Without a life of purity, independence can be dangerous.

This is what Chazal (Shemot Rabba 3:4) meant in saying that Bnei Yisrael went down to Egypt with the word "anochi," were taken out with the word "anochi," and will be redeemed at the end of time with "anochi" ("Alas, I (anochi) am sending you Eliya the Prophet"). Some think that one can be liberated without calling out in the name of Hashem (anochi), as the other nations can. Without anochi the hearts of the fathers are not lined up with the hearts of the sons (see Malachi 3:24). This is not only in regard to Torah observance but when things are done wrong, the younger generation will be disillusioned with that which their fathers cherished and fought for. We already see the emergence of youth who feel over-entitlement. That is because one who does not keep on a straight line, will grow increasingly crooked.

For the liberation at the end of the fourth liberation there is a need for preparation done by Eliyahu before the "day of Hashem" and "the offering of Yehuda and Yerushalyim like the days of the past." The navi (ibid. 4) referred to it in a double language that hints about the time of Moshe and the time of Shlomo (Vayikra Rabba 7:4). Both before the time of the particular national emergence (time of Moshe) and before the time that will usher in an era where all of mankind will learn from the Torah emanating from Zion (time of Shlomo) there is a need for Eliyahu to set the stage.

Does Birth Cause a Demographic Crisis?

by HaRav Eliezer Melamed
Rosh HaYeshiva, Har Bracha

Israel’s population is growing at a welcome rate, but there is no room for horror forecasts of resource scarcity * Such forecasts have been refuted repeatedly over the last few decades * The fact is that as the population grows, science and technology become more sophisticated, and more solutions to resource and environmental problems are found * There is room for warnings, as they encourage finding solutions; however, it should be done in a judicious way, and not by scare tactics, which cause moral distortions * There are three levels to the mitzvah of procreation, and there is room for consideration in fulfillment of the third level * The Jewish nation constitutes only 0.15% of the world’s population – we are in existential danger, and must grow

Question about Procreation and the Environment
“My name is Elyashiv Sagi. I grew up in the Golan, and studied in a Hesder Yeshiva. Today I live in a community in Samaria, and serve in Keva (professional corps) in the Israeli Air Force. I recently completed my Bachelor’s degree in Earth Sciences. The question is a personal one, out of genuine concern.”

“I would like to ask the rabbi a fundamental halachic question: In the Torah world, there is wall-to-wall agreement that beyond the Torah obligation to have a son and daughter, it is proper and correct to embellish this mitzvah as best as possible, as hinted in the verses “He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited” and “but in the evening your hands should not be idle.” I have also heard that after the dreadful Holocaust it is even more worthy to embellish this mitzvah and thereby increase the Jewish population.

Here are some statistics on the population in Israel: Currently living in Israel, there are approximately 9.1 million people (not including the Arabs in Judea and Samaria, and the Gaza Strip). The State of Israel is one of the most densely populated in the world – about 440 people per square kilometer. The rate of reproduction in Israel resulting from natural increase and immigration of Jews to Israel is two percent a year, which means the population in Israel is doubled every 35 years. Hence, if the current rate of growth continues, we will reach 18 million within 35 years, and in 70 years, we are expected to reach approximately 36 million, with a density of about 1,800 people per square kilometer.

In our modern lifestyle, we are unaware of the processes preceding a product’s arrival at a store or water’s arrival at the tap, and what happens to garbage after being discarded. But these processes exist and affect us all. Such a growth in population will have far-reaching effects in many ways: presently, the State of Israel is already completely dependent on food imports – we are unable to feed ourselves. Today, the State of Israel already lacks sufficient rainwater. The natural resources we consume, the pollution, and the waste we produce are a simple multiplication of the average amount of waste per person of population size. And today, in a densely populated country such as ours, it is already difficult to find suitable solutions for mountains of waste and pollution of water, soil, and air. Developed areas are growing in direct proportion to population growth, and nature areas are shrinking respectively.

At a certain point, too large a population is not a blessing, but rather, big trouble. When we have 36 million people here, without open spaces, without hiking areas and forests, with mountains of debris, pollution, and countless buildings and roads – won’t it be clear we have to stop? Or maybe just 35 years later, when we will be 72 million?

Clearly, something needs to change – the only question is, when. At a certain point, it is impossible to continue encouraging procreation as we do today. Reality will force us to stop. And if so, shouldn’t we already be talking about it today?

I learned from what Rabbi Yosef Engel wrote in his book “Atvan D’Oreita”, Rule Number 13, that there are two parts to the mitzvah of puru u’revuru (procreation): The Torah mitzvah to have a son and daughter is a mitzvah between man and God, and the mitzvah to add more children as hinted in the verse “He did not create it to be empty” is to the benefit of the world. In light of this, in my humble opinion, we can say today that for the sake of the world, it is preferable not to excel in this mitzvah, because it causes serious harm to humans and the environment.

Also, it seems that in general, environmental issues such as global warming and the like are of no interest to the Gedolei Yisrael (eminent rabbis), and this surprises me, because anyone who has eyes in his head and cares about the environment sees that in our generation, we consume natural resources at a much faster rate than their growth, and produce waste and air pollution in general and in particular carbon dioxide. The way I see it, we are similar to someone who has lived an impossibly high lifestyle for years at the expense of his parents’ inheritance, and leaves the debts to his successors.

This critical issue, fraught with several moral and ethical matters which in not so many years is liable to have a profound effect on all of us, cannot be ignored by society and its rabbis. I would appreciate to hear your opinion, Rabbi, on these issues.”

The Discussion about Environmental Issues
A: It is essential to preface that the conventional discussion about the depletion of natural resources is one full of empty clichés, which, for consecutive generations have turned out to be false. Since Europe’s population began to grow at a rapid rate, concern arose that natural resources would be depleted, and fertility, which was considered a blessing, would turn into a curse. The foremost advocate in this field was Thomas Malthus (1776 – 1834), who argued that the rate of population growth was higher than the rate of food production, and if it continued to grow at such a rate, early in the twentieth century humanity would sink into catastrophes of hunger and thirst, wars and epidemics. Today, there are already in excess of seven billion people, who produce far more food than required. However, because food is not properly distributed, there are starving people. If, for example, Africans used their natural resources efficiently and economically, they could produce several times more quality food, and no one would suffer from hunger.

Human Development is faster than Demographic Growth
The fundamental reason the gloomy projections are unfounded is because the more people there are, the more they develop science and technology, and in so doing, resources increase at a faster rate than population growth and as a result, the standard of living steadily increases.

Guardedly, it is possible to say that we are currently on the verge of scientific breakthroughs that will allow the production of clean energy from the sun, and the production of molecular-level food, so that from basic materials any type of food can be created to suit every palate. In recent years, scientists have been able to artificially develop meat by means of replication of stem cells from animal meat. If this development succeeds commercially, a revolution in the meat market could ensue: the raising of billions of cows and chickens for slaughter would come to an end, the price of meat would decrease, and the pollution associated with the raising of livestock would end. This will create tremendous savings in land, water, and all natural resources.

Academic Educators of Environmental Sciences
Apparently, academic teachers in the field of environmental sciences are not fulfilling their duty and are not presenting their students and the public the full picture, in addition to all their gloomy predictions pronounced with full confidence and accepted by the scientific community which have already been disproved. As scientists, they should have known that scientific progress is faster than population and consumption growth. This is especially true of a free-market, democratic society with fair competition, which produces innovations that far exceed consumption growth. For example, there is a lot of talk about the problem of mountains of “non-biodegradable” plastic, and lo and behold, we now hear about the development of a plastic-eating bacteria which converts it into energy that can be utilized. Another example can be given by the many and harsh arguments of the opponents to the natural gas plan of the Israeli government and Minister Yuval Steinitz, all of which have been refuted one by one, nonetheless, they refuse to learn a lesson. Like Don Quixote of old, they search for the next windmill to determine it a dragon, and declare war on it.

Crises Must Be Dealt with Moderation
While it is clear that in the process of development and progress there are also downsides and crises that need to be addressed, still, it must be done in a realistic and moderate way without intimidation. Still, the environmentalists’ shrill cries must also be taken into consideration, as they also encourage continued diligence on the developments required to deal with environmental pollution. Because in a free society when people are outraged they demand solutions, and as a result, it becomes more lucrative to invest in them. Take for instance recycling. Without their cries we might possibly have had to wait another decade until the demand for it naturally increased, and only then solutions would have been found.

The Danger of Intimidation
When adopting horror predictions, besides the very mistake, they are liable to result in moral distortions. For if indeed, if the situation is so severe, extreme measures must be taken, in the sense of “et la’asot” (‘the time for action has come’). Thus in China, the number of births was limited very cruelly. Similarly, as a result of the theories of Malthus and others like him, the holders of race theory strengthened their position that humanity should encourage races of productive people, and work to reduce others. Or more moderately, to formulate a public position that it is proper to scale down birth, and denounce large families, as is the common position in Western countries. In practice, as a result of this position, Western nations have found themselves in a severe demographic crisis, leading to serious socio-economic problems that place their future in question.

Returning to the Basics of the Mitzvah
However, there is some truth to your question, for at times, a superficial notion of the mitzvah of puru u’revuru leads to serious problems. Therefore, it is appropriate to briefly recapitulate the three levels of the mitzvah: 1) it is a Torah obligation to give birth to a son and daughter, and in order to fulfill the mitzvah, one must make great efforts, including utilizing all conventional medical treatments. 2) Average couples are obligated by Divrei Chachamim (rabbinical ordinance) to try and have about four children. However, if there are exceptional difficulties, physical or mental, they are exempt from this. 3) It is a mitzvah to have more children, but there is room for consideration in this level. If parents know they can raise more children and educate them towards Torah, mitzvot, and derech eretz (good manners), it is a mitzvah for them to continue having more children to the best of their ability. But if they know that with more children the burden will be too heavy, and their lives will be filled with anger and anxiety, there is room for them not to have more children, because although with every additional child they fulfill a mitzvah, on the other hand, in their terrible mental state they will commit sins, and this can adversely affect the education of children. Not only that, but also those who wish to direct their talents to other beneficial avenues in a way that will not leave them strength to raise more children, may do so (Peninei Halakha: Simchat Ha’Bayit U’Birchato 5:6).

It seems that these general rules also answer the problem you raised, for if numerous difficulties arise in providing for children, it is possible to settle for fulfillment of the mitzvah on the second level.

Concerning the issue of the density of the country and its borders, there is room to expand on this issue on another occasion. In the meantime, however, it is important to add that we, the Jewish people, currently comprise a total of only 0.15% of the world’s population. The persecutions, murders, and assimilation put us in existential danger that still remains till this day. And therefore, as you wrote, it is our great duty to encourage families to raise numerous children for the glory of the Torah, the Nation, and the Land, and for the blessing of all nations of the world, as the Torah says: “All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.”