Friday, January 28, 2011

A Jew Must be Free

By Moshe Feiglin

"And if the servant will say, 'I love my master, my wife and my children, I will not go free. And his master shall bring him before G-d and he shall bring him to the door or to the doorpost and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl and he shall serve him forever." (From this week's Torah portion, Mishpatim, Exodus 21:5-6)

The Torah includes a subliminal message in these verses: A Jew must be a free person. "The ear that heard G-d say at Mount Sinai, 'For the Children of Israel are My servants' and went and acquired a human master for himself - shall be pierced." (Rashi in the name of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai)

In the Torah, the laws of servitude are really the laws of exiting servitude. Until approximately one hundred fifty years ago, every American citizen was required by law to turn over a servant who had fled his master. Over three thousand years prior to that, the Torah already commanded, "Do not turn a slave over to his master." (Deuteronomy 23:16) This is in complete contrast to the Hammurabi and other ancient Codes, absurdly considered by some to be the "inspiration" for the Torah.

The foundation of liberty is one of the foundations that distinguishes the Torah from all the codices of other nations: economic liberty, national liberty - all forms of liberty.

Two major issues that have have focused media attention in Israel this week clearly exemplify the foundations of economic and national liberty that are so lacking in our society. This update will explore these issues further.

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Democratically Elected Tyranny

By Shelli Karzen


The Israeli voter cannot directly influence his elected representative. This is due to the fact that the voter does not know his elected representative personally, but only from a party Knesset list. Knesset members therefore do not feel any obligation towards those who elected them, so they don’t act according to their wishes.

originally posted at

Political Scientist Professor Paul Eidelberg thinks that the electoral system in Israel is destructive, and doesn’t allow for true democratic discourse and a stable government. District-based elections won’t cause a revolution, but they would be a necessary first step that could advance a process of healing for Israeli democracy.

Professor Eidelberg, is Israel a democratic state?

“From a social perspective, there are democratic elements in Israel since there aren’t major disparities in status. That is to say, the concept of ‘one man one vote’ still exists, and there are periodic multi-party elections. If we go deeper, though, we find that the problem is actually much larger. Here I’ll quote one of the big thinkers of the 19th century, Alexis de Tocqueville. He describes a system that was in place in France during the revolution as a “Totalitarian Democracy” even though there were democratic elections – his phraseology. Regarding Israel, I’ll mitigate it slightly and call it a democratically elected tyranny. I’m certain that De Tocqueville would have completely agreed with me.”

What characterizes our electoral system?

Separation between citizens and their elected representatives. Very simple. There is evidence that two years after the establishment of the state, Knesset members and community leaders tried to formulate district elections. Ben Gurion rejected it. He said, ‘Separate citizens from the government’. The system remained, and the result is that until today, successive Israeli governments have ignored the citizenry. As of today, only Holland and Israel operate by this electoral system.

Do you have a tangible example of this?

I think that the 2003 elections demonstrate this very well. The people voted Right, and the Likud was in power. But Sharon nullified the results of 2003 when we decided to do the Disengagement. If you completely nullify national elections in this way, we have to ask ourselves if this is really a democracy.

What can you do? 23 Likud Knesset members voted for it!

Absolutely correct, but here I want to point out the next issue. These 23 Knesset members can do such a thing because they don’t have to answer to their voters. The voter does not vote for someone who is running against an opponent, but rather for a list of people sponsored by the party. Let’s assume that these 23 Likud Knesset members had to compete in regional elections against an opponent for a Knesset seat. What would the opponent say? He would say, ‘My honorable opponent cheated you. In the last elections he opposed the Disengagement, but in actuality he voted for it. He cheated you and stole your vote.’”

But it’s impossible to fulfill promises, no? Nevertheless, there’s a different perspective from down here than there is from up there.

Look, we’re not talking about everyday matters here. It could be that a candidate would declare “I’m going to lower taxes” or “I’m going to increase welfare” and not fulfill his word. In these matters there can be changes in the final result. But we’re talking here about matters of life and death! We’re talking about the borders of the state of Israel!

Let’s assume that I vote for a regional representative because I think he faithfully represents my opinions. Can I be sure that he will actually express my outlook?

You will never have absolute certainty that the man you voted for will do what he says he will do. That’s how it is in any system. But what are the chances that that very same man will break his word if he knows that in the next elections he will have a competitor for his Knesset seat? It’s important to know something else: Even if the electoral system will be the most perfect possible, that doesn’t mean that there will be people who will make decisions and do exactly what you want. There are no guarantees. Politics is not mathematics, but a question of probabilities. So even if you design a system that gives the highest possible chances that the person elected to serve will actually stand by his words and promises made during the campaign, all you will get is a certain probability and chance. Certainty you will not get. There is no certainty, but with local/regional elections, the chances are much greater that those elected will be faithful to their platform.

How will the rights of minorities like Arabs and Haredim not be harmed by a regional election system? Their representation would necessarily decrease.

First of all, that depends on the geographical apportioning of the electoral regions. If a small party’s voters are concentrated in a specific area in the country, the party may win as one of the two biggest parties in the area, and so it will have influence on national policy. More than this, did the small parties in Israel that opposed the retreat from Gaza succeed in preventing it? Experience shows that a small party can help the minority group that it represents more if it operates within the framework of a large party.

Professor Paul Eidelberg received his doctorate in Political Science from the University of Chicago. He is the founder and president of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy in Jersualem, and a member of the advisory board of the Ariel Institute for Political Research.

In his book “Jewish Statesmanship,” Professor Eidelberg analyzes the destructive defects that exist in the political institutions in Israel. He shows that the public discourse in Israel suffers from cognitive dissonance, and that this discourse prevents the striving for the realization of Jewish goals. Eidelberg thus redefines key concepts such as “religion and state,” “democracy” and “citizenship,” so that they are congruent with the idea of an authentic Jewish national homeland. The book ends with a first draft of a constitution, based on Jewish principles as well as democratic principles.

A recent “Machar” poll demonstrates the lack of basic trust held by the public in relation to Israel’s Democracy.

More than half of the Israeli public does not believe that their vote in the election booth has any impact.

In a poll taken by the Geocartography Research Institute for “Machar”, a cross section of the Jewish population in Israel was presented with the following question: “How much influence do you think your vote in the national election to the Knesset bears on what happens in Israel?

No influence Insignificantly Moderately Considerably Greatly Unsure

The results of the poll show that 71% of the public believe that their participation in the election bears no more than a moderate influence on the events and decisions made in Israel. More than half of those surveyed, around 51%, think that the influence of their vote is insignificant to none. Only 23% of the population feels that the way they vote has any significant impact.

The results of the poll are clear: Israel’s citizens are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the operation of the most fundamental of Democratic processes— the power to vote. When the majority of the public feels as though they can no longer rely upon national elections to influence the shape and direction of their country, it should be questioned whether that country can still consider itself to be Democratic.

Very low public trust in government institutions in Israel

In parliamentary Democracies, a distinction can be drawn between directly and indirectly elected institutions. In Israel, the public is only able to elect the Knesset and the political parties.

For many years, the Knesset has continually obtained the lowest approval rates among all public institutions in Israel, with the exception of political parties. As demonstrated by the diagram below, these approval rates have followed a relatively steady pattern of decline.

The Knesset’s approval rates for 2000-2009 (including percentage figures)

At the beginning of 2000, the Knesset’s approval rate stood at around 50%, but in the next ten years it fell by around 20%. And although in the immediate aftermath of the 2009 election the approval rate improved slightly, the question remains: why does the only nationally electable Democratic institution in Israel— the Knesset—rate so poorly in the public’s estimation?

One possible explanation is a perceived lack of accountability. Elected representatives do not appear to feel obliged to explain their behavior, however erratic, to the public and seem even less inclined to seek public approval for their actions and decisions. In 2009, 63% of those surveyed believed that Israeli politicians do not care about public opinion, and only 18% of those surveyed believed that they could influence government policies. In other words, Israel’s citizens are painfully aware of the fact that from the moment they are elected into office, their leaders operate on the premise that they can effectively afford to ignore their electorate.

The lack of public trust in the Knesset reflects a fundamental paradox in Israeli politics. On the one hand, the Knesset continually suffers from very low approval ratings. And yet, it is the only public institution that is subject to nationwide elections, in which every citizen over the age of eighteen can participate.

* This data has been obtained from the website of the Israeli Democracy Institute, based on polls measuring the Democracy index for the years 2006 – 2009.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


By Moshe Phillips

A true giant of pro-Israel activism in America is gone. Herb Zweibon, the founder and president of Americans For A Safe Israel / AFSI, died on Tu B’Shevat, January 19, 2011. It seems extremely appropriate that someone who focused so much of his energy, money and time dedicated to bringing peace, security and prosperity to the Land of Israel should have his life forever connected to a holiday that has at its core the themes of Israel’s agriculture and land, the centrality of Jerusalem and the importance of contributing to charity.

Herb Zweibon was born and raised in an extended family that was one of the leading pillars of the Jabotinsky movement in America since the 1940s. He was a successful businessman, was a loving family man and was a highly patriotic American who served in the U.S. military in World War Two. Perhaps those things were all a direct result of his personal internalization of Jabotinsky’s teaching of concepts such as Hadar, self-respect and self-discipline.

No American did more in the last 20 years to make sure that Jabotinsky’s memory was perpetuated than Herb Zweibon.

Here are just a few of the concrete things Herb brought to life to memorialize Jabotinsky:

– Under Herb’s direction AFSI organized and sponsored the annual Manhattan memorial event for Jabotinsky. The keynote speaker at the 2010 event was Douglas Feith and his speech drew significant media attention.

– In 2010 AFSI distributed a biographical booklet about Jabotinsky called Jabotinsky – The Man And The Vision written by AFSI’s Jerusalem representative William Mehlman. It can be found online in its entirety at

– Herb was one of the key financial supporters who enabled Israeli Shmuel Katz to research and write his groundbreaking 1996 two volume biography of Jabotinsky Lone Wolf. Katz wrote in his Introduction that Herb was “first among” the “group of friends” that provided “generous assistance” to him.

– Herb’s dedication to Lone Wolf didn’t stop there. He had AFSI continue to sell and distribute Lone Wolf and Katz’s other classic books even after Katz’s death in 2008.

Herb also wanted to make sure that Jabotinsky was taught to the young people of Israel too. He conceived of a nationwide essay contest for Israeli high school students and was involved in every detail of this highly successful initiative. The inaugural contest was 2010’s which marked the seventieth anniversary of Jabotinsky’s death. The Jabotinsky National Essay Contest had 15 winners and hundreds of competitors with an awards ceremony held in the Knesset.

In addition to memorializing Jabotinsky Herb led AFSI in continuing to focus on key issues that his teacher himself would have concentrated on too had he been alive.

Jerusalem remained a central issue for Herb. The Outpost monthly newsletter published by AFSI always featured a front page column by Herb and very often he wrote about the importance of Jerusalem’s security.

AFSI always stood against any Israeli retreat from Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza. The Jewish communities in Gush Katif had no more committed friends in America than Herb and AFSI. And that support did not end after the so-called Disengagement. Herb’s aim was to make sure that Israeli Settlers never felt abandoned or alone.

AFSI remained steadfastly opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state and sponsored speaking tours featuring Israeli spokespeople who articulated the danger that a PLO/Fatah state would mean to Israel and America.

During Israel’s Operation Peace for Galilee campaign in Lebanon in 1982 AFSI made defending Israel against defamation in the mainstream media a key objective. Before CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) became a national organization and before Honest Reporting was launched, there was AFSI fighting for truth. Under Herb’s direction AFSI produced an hour long documentary video called “NBC in Lebanon: A Study of Media Representation.” The Institute for Palestine Studies published book American Jewish Organizations & Israel by Lee O’Brien called the video “widely distributed” and they were right. No pro-Israel organization in the U.S. had ever produced anything like it.

AFSI executive director at the time, Peter Goldman, was responsible for the NBC exposé. He followed the video up with a 1986 book he co-wrote with Stephen Karetzky titled The Media’s War Against Israel: The Full Expose No One Dared Publish that featured an introduction by Jack Kemp.

Under Herb’s leadership AFSI over the last several years seemed more vital than ever. As the organization approached the 40th anniversary of its founding last year many news plans were underway. Chapters were initiated and re-organized. The website was revamped at An Israeli grassroots website called Maspik Vedai (“Enough, already!”) was given full support in 2009 and it can be seen at A website was launched in 2008 in order to spread the teachings and writings of Shmuel Katz. Visit the website at In 2010 a blog with the title Lessons For Today was added to the website in order to apply Katz’s teachings to today’s events. And Herb’s guiding hand was behind it all.

Herb’s enemies were frequently forced to acknowledge the success of AFSI. Herb pioneered the idea of working with Evangelical Christians in the U.S. to support the Jewish State. Israel basher Grace Halsell noted in her 1986 book Prophecy and Politics, The Secret Alliance Between Israel and the U.S. Christian Right that AFSI pioneered outreach to the Evangelical community. “…the actual credit for making (the late Senator Jesse) Helms do the flip flop (and become an ardent Israel supporter goes to) a conservative Israeli lobbying group, called Americans For A Safe Israel, (they) did that…”

Herb served on the board of directors of the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies based in Houston. Bernard Shapiro, the director of the Freeman Center wrote the following about Herb the day of the funeral: “Jabotinsky and Shmuel Katz were his intellectual and ideological teachers, but Herb was mine.” Herb Zweibon was an excellent teacher to us all. He left an indelible imprint on pro-Israel activism. Our own and future generations were immeasurably enriched by the gift of his long and creative life. May his example and teachings endure, enlighten and inspire for many years to come

Friday, January 21, 2011

Have a Nice Flight

By Moshe Feiglin

Translated from the Makor Rishon newspaper

There I was, after a two and a half day whirlwind trip to the US, stuck in the window seat for my flight home. The two seats next to me were still empty. I hoped that a basketball player wouldn't sit down next to me and cut off all communication between me and the rest of the plane for the next ten hours.

G-d heard my silent prayer and a friendly American couple took their seats next to mine. In their seventies, dressed fashionably in leisure-wear, suntanned and thin. He, tall and strong looking, took the aisle seat, while she, petite, elegant and smiling - just what I had hoped for - took the seat next to me. She immediately and politely introduced herself and her husband.

"This is not our first trip to Israel," she said.

"Better late than never," I answered with appreciation for the solid couple who, in their senior years, had decided to connect to their Homeland through their feet.

"Are you from Israel?"

"Yes, thank G-d. And where are you from?"

"Illinois. Do you know where that is?"

"Of course! My wife's family came from Chicago. Perhaps you know them?"

"No, we don't know them."

"Are you Jewish?" the husband suddenly asked.

"You can't see that I'm Jewish?" I asked, surprised. I immediately understood that not only was the couple next to me not Jewish, but they had probably never met a Jew, which would explain the fact that the kippah on my head meant nothing to them.

They were Evangelists - "Lovers of Israel". A quick survey of the seats around me revealed that I had been seated in the middle of an entire group of Evangelists happily on their way to the "Holy Land."

I felt ridiculous. Here I was in the middle of a Christian congregation, looking for my wife's long-lost relatives.

"We love Jews," the husband interrupted my train of thought.
I was pleased to be the object of the man's love. If one must be stuck next to somebody for ten hours, it is best to be stuck next to someone who loves you, isn't it?

"We're also Jews!" he added and upon my look of amazement added, "sort of." I kept my thoughts on identity theft to myself. After all, I still had ten hours to sit next to them.

An interesting conversation developed between us. They did not know me, but I understood who I was dealing with and answered them in a sort of Bible-ese that fit their pre-conceptions of Jews.

"I thank God for seating us next to you," said the husband.
I nodded uncomfortably.

By the time the plane took off, I was fast asleep. Our conversation resumed close to landing.

"What do you think of this?" the wife asked as she pulled a brochure out of her purse and handed it to me.

I looked inside. "All that you have to do is to believe in Jesus and he will forgive all your sins," it said.

"I'm the conservative type," I answered with a smile. "I have done very well with the Old Testament for the past three thousand years, and I think I will renew my subscription for at least the next three thousand."

"O.K., the woman said, slightly embarrassed, understanding that I wasn't so naive, after all. Her smile disappeared and the pleasant atmosphere disappeared along with it.

Countless important Israeli NGOs and organizations fall into this Christian "love of Israel" trap and stretch out their hands for their generous contributions. Even if they will not admit it, the end always includes the little brochure - just like the brochure that my polite flight neighbor pulled out toward the end of our journey. There are no free lunches. The final result is the baptism of Jews.

In the past, when I discovered that the friendly non-Jew generously donating to Manhigut Yehudit was - despite his declarations - a devout Christian, I cut off all monetary relations with him.

The nationalist and religious organizations that receive Christian aid must understand that there is no such thing as a Christian who is not a missionary toward the entire world, just as there is no 'religious' Jew who is not a 'missionary' toward his Jewish brethren on some level.

Every truly religious Jew - even if he is not into Jewish outreach - is happy to hear of more and more of his Jewish brothers who have joined the ranks of the Observant, simply because the Torah includes every Jew. It is impossible to believe in the Torah and not to hope that every Jew will observe its commandments. The same is true of Christianity - just that it sees all of humanity as a target for its mission.

The Golden Rule does not make exceptions for important Jewish organizations: He who has the gold still makes the rules. When you accept a contribution from a Christian - as nice and sympathetic as he may be - you turn your organization into a channel for missionary influence.

Friday, January 14, 2011


By Moshe Feiglin

And the Children of Israel walked on the dry land in the sea and the water was a wall for them on their right and on their left. (From this week's Torah portion, B'shalach, Exodus 14:29)

The splitting of the Red Sea, with walls of water standing upright and not drowning the Children of Israel is certainly a great miracle. But a major part of the miracle was the fact that the Children of Israel recognized the event as a miracle in real time.

The existence of the Nation of Israel is not natural. Frederick the Great of Prussia asked a Lutheran minister for proof of G-d. "The Jews," replied the minister, "the Jews." This non-Jew wisely saw the walls of water to the right and to the left of the Nation of Israel throughout the millennia and came to the conclusion that most people arrive at only when seeing a miracle with their own eyes.

Today, the walls of water still stand to our right and to our left. As in the time of the Exodus, the only path open to us remains the same: "And G-d said to Moses, 'Speak to the Children of Israel and let them go forward'."

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Unfaithfulness and Punishment: The Katzav Version

By Moshe Feiglin

8 Shevat, 5771
Jan. 13, '11

Translated from the NRG website

Moshe Katzav is guilty of what nobody dared accuse him, and completely innocent of the main crimes for which he was convicted. Harassment of one sort or another may have taken place in this story. If it happened, it is reprehensible. But rape? Certainly not.

It was not the media and judicial lynch that reached its crescendo last week with Katzav's conviction that convinced me that Moshe Katzav conducted himself in an ugly manner. The impression that a person like me, who made an effort not to listen to the cacophony of accusations surrounding this story since its inception, has - is that fidelity was not a top priority for Israel's eighth president. If this impression is true, it is enough reason for the man to be punished.

The problem is, though, that if we use the parameters of harassment and disloyalty, we would have to demand trials for many of our leaders, past and present; prime ministers, ministers, Supreme Court justices and senior defense officials.

It does not seem reasonable to me that a victim of rape would "turn the world upside down" in the words of the court, to return to work with the man who "raped" her, and would send him love letters - and all of this would not awaken a reasonable doubt with the three judges. But despite the fact that nothing could be proven and that there was much more than reasonable doubt in this case, the judges would have had to be made of steel to acquit Katzav in the public "lynch" atmosphere that this story has generated.

The cultural platform for the media/judicial lynch against Katzav is based on betrayal. It is steadily gaining ground. Disloyalty to any solid reality is the name of the game: Disloyalty to G-d, Whom we have been denying for almost 200 years, disloyalty to our nation, our Land, our state, our community, our family, our spouses and even our own gender identity.

To realize this vision of betrayal, the attack has to be focused on separation/borders and authority. To create the world - solid reality, life - G-d had to separate between the heavens and dry land, between earth and water. Life begins when the cell differentiates and divides. The power of life is the power to preserve these borders. And the preservation of borders requires authority. Without borders between distinct entities and the authority that preserves them in their place, the world would return to its primordial chaotic state.

Feminism undermines all structure by breaking down the most basic authority in human society - the authority that builds the family unit. The result is that the woman is expected to function as a man - making women the main victims of feminism. All that is left of her femininity is her body, which quickly falls victim to the latest criminal or fashion outrages.

For his part, the man has to be a bit feminine; to shave his body, pierce it and tattoo it. There is no room anywhere for love. Instead, a war is waged between the genders. New, impossible laws attempt to restore some order to the resulting chaos, to no avail. The more laws legislated to protect women, the more they suffer harassment and violence.

The "coalition" identified a fat fish with which to fulfill its vision of a world without structure or authority; a man at the top of the pyramid; the President himself. Not only is he a man, but he is of Sephardic descent, traditional, a Likud politician - the symbol of all the "primitive" authority that we are trying to undermine.

While we're at it, we will strengthen the judicial branch at the expense of the legislative branch, the status of the Left against the Right that dared elect a president that was "one of their own" and the status of the media, directly attacked by Katzav. And so, a truly unholy alliance was forged against the man. Moshe Katzav had no chance - and maybe he didn't deserve it.

I do not identify with the practice of some religious people who explain others' misfortunes as Divine punishment. Some people in the Orange camp like to show how whoever had a hand in the Expulsion from Gush Katif has since suffered hardships. One must admit that statistically, there is food for thought in this claim. G-d does run the world and sometimes poetic justice is quite visibly at work. Nobody, though, can really understand G-d's reasons for afflicting some and not others. Second-guessing Him on why a particular person suffers a particular hardship does not add anything to our service of G-d.

In Katzav's case, though, he himself has considered this connection. After the accusations against him made headlines, he met one of the main anti-Expulsion activists. With no prompting and totally of his own initiative, Katzav said to him: "I am not guilty of what I am being accused, but I know that this is happening to me because of the way that I treated the residents of Gush Katif."

The political camp that worked to get Katzav elected to the presidency expected that when Israel turned into Sodom and perpetrated the grand rape of the Gush Katif settlers -the victims would find a warm shoulder of support at the President's residence. Loyalty - remember?

But President Katzav chose instead to render his services to the coalition of betrayal and destruction. "From the time that the decision was made, you must accept it," the President broadcast live to the victims on the eve of their destruction. Now, when the same coalition has dug its claws into his own body, he must demand of himself what he demanded of them - and accept his fate.

When all is said and done, I wish Moshe Katzav a long life of pleasure from his lovely family. He can likely look forward to the Garden of Eden after he dies - because in this world, he has already been through Hell.

Big Money for "Peace"makers

Since the merry days of Oslo, big money has flowed into the pockets of the Middle-East's senior "peace"makers. Top security officials enlisted by the Rabin government to conduct the peace talks with Arafat, may his name be blotted out, entered into partnerships with Martin Schlaf and Arafat in the casino in Jericho, the thriving "peace" cement business and disturbingly more corrupt deals. The Hebrew book, Inside Arafat's Pocket by Azrad Lev documents how the people in the most senior government positions (head of PM's office, senior advisors to the PM) literally sold Israel down the river in exchange for the opportunity to put astronomic sums of money into their own pockets.

This phenomenon is still alive and well. The Nof Tzion building project, located east of the Jewish neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv in Jerusalem, encountered financial difficulties. Suddenly, Dov Weisglass, confidante of Ariel Sharon and one of the most influential officials in the Israeli government in the last decade, appears and attempts to transfer the entire project to a "Palestinian" entrepreneur. In other words, Weisglass is trying to sell Jerusalem to the Arabs - under a rightist government

Friday, January 07, 2011

Pharaoh's Defeat

By Moshe Feiglin

And Moses and Aaron were brought again to Pharaoh; and he said to them: 'Go, serve Hashem your God; who exactly is going?' (From this week's Torah portion, Bo, Exodus 10:8)

The real issue debated in the exchange between Pharaoh, Moses and Aaron is Pharaoh's political/theological status. "The river is mine and I made myself," says Pharaoh, according to the Midrash. Modern man has repeated this statement in varying forms, many times over. I am the focal point of creation, it is my will that determines what will be and everything else is simply a narrative or other post-modern postulation.

Pharaoh's regime is the culmination of the worship of man. It is the complete opposite of the message of liberty with which the Creator, through the Nation of Israel, imbues humanity.

The threat of the plague of locusts begins to erode Pharaoh's self confidence. He is already willing to negotiate. And like a seasoned politician, he does all that he can to keep all the cards - political and theological - in his hands.
And Moses and Aaron were brought again to Pharaoh -
Pharaoh speaks to Moses through an intermediary. He protects his regal distance and status.

'Go, serve Hashem your God -
not the G-d of all G-ds, but your G-d.

Who exactly is going? -
Pharaoh wants a report. He shows Moses and Aaron that the Jews are still under his jurisdiction.

After the plague of hail, the seasoned politician backs down a bit from his political stand, but not from his theology. His personal status has been challenged. But he still holds firmly to the idolatrous idea that G-d is the G-d of the Jews, alone. In other words, I - Pharaoh - am god. But there is another god with whom I have entered into a conflict: And Pharaoh hurried to call for Moses and Aaron and he said, ' I have sinned to Hashem your G-d and to you.' (Exodus 10:16)

After the plague of darkness, Pharaoh no longer insists that the G-d of the Jews is theirs alone. From here on in, the G-d of Israel is the One G-d:
And Pharaoh called Moses and he said, 'Go, worship G-d. Just leave your flocks and cattle behind. Your children will also go with you.'
(Exodus 10:24)

With the last remnants of his strength, Pharaoh attempts to cling to his power. As the end approaches, the fading despot becomes very dangerous:
And Pharaoh said to him, 'Leave from before me. Just beware not to see my face again, for on the day that you see my face, you will die. (Exodus 10:28)

Now Pharaoh receives the blow most dangerous to any leader:
"And G-d made the nation find favor in the eyes of Egypt. The man, Moses, was also very great in the land of Egypt and in the eyes of the servants of Pharaoh and the eyes of the nation. (Exodus 11:3)

It makes no difference who is sitting on the throne. What really matters is where the heart of the nation resides. From that point on, Moses can carry out a coup and rule the empire instead of Pharaoh:
And he called for Moses and Aaron in the night and he said, 'Arise and go out from my nation, all of you and the Children of Israel, and go to worship G-d, as you said. Your flocks and cattle shall be in your midst, take them, as you have said. Go out and bless me, as well.

Pharaoh's defeat - both political and theological - is complete. Get out and stop threatening my regime. And from wherever you will be, bless me as well - for your G-d is The G-d.

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Israel's Stepfather

By Shmuel Lerman

Uncle Sam I want you_big2

Israel’s dependence on the US does not stem from a need for monetary aid or support in the international arena. Israel can manage alone, but it does not want to: American aid fills its need for a moral and cultural “father”. The move from an asymmetrical protectorate relationship to a relationship based on mutual respect and cooperation depends on Israel’s ability to return to itself and to its unique culture. In this way, we will be able to conduct our relations with the US on the foundation of the alliance between the Jewish State and the “State of Jewish values.”

The relationship between the US and Israel is a mirror that can help us understand Israeli mentality. For a better understanding, it is important to analyze the ethical foundation upon which the United States was established and America’s current political and public approach to Israel. The result will be an anomaly; Israel has all the conditions it needs to conduct its relations with the world’s greatest power on the basis of mutual respect and cooperation. But in reality, the situation is just the opposite: The US exhorts Israel not to build in the Jewish neighborhoods in its capital; the US has imprisoned an Israeli agent for twenty five years; the US president puts his feet up on the desk when speaking with Israel’s prime minister – and makes sure that the picture gets out to the media. What are the underlying reasons for this situation?

America: “The Jewish Values State”

The Protestant foundations of faith in G-d and the Bible and the uncompromising drive for liberty and the willingness to fight for it created a special closeness between America’s founding fathers and Jewish heritage. The Jews’ redemption from Egypt became a source of inspiration for the American struggle for liberty and later, for the abolitionist movement; America’s founding fathers almost made Hebrew the official language of their fledgling country; countless American towns bear Biblical names like Bethlehem and Hebron.

Yoram Ettinger: “The alliance between the US and Israel is really an alliance between the only Jewish State in the world and the only Judeo-christian state in the world or ‘the state of Jewish values’ – as they call themselves.”

Yoram Ettinger, former envoy at the Israeli Embassy in Washington and expert on Israel-American relations, thinks that the American ethos has a deep affinity to authentic Israeli culture. “The alliance between the US and Israel is deeper than strategic considerations of threats, common interests or good chemistry between leaders. This alliance is based on an ethical foundation second to none in the entire world. The beginnings of the foundation were built in the seventeenth century – by the first settlers in the New World. The Founding Fathers saw themselves as the forgers of a modern alliance – the root of the word “federal” means “alliance” – between G-d and man. This approach was influenced by Jewish history, particularly Biblical history. A statue of Moses stands tall in the center of the General Assembly Hall of the House of Representatives and also in America’s Supreme Court. The official logo of Yale University is the Hebrew Urim and Thummim, the Oracle worn by the High Priest in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The US-Israel relationship is actually an alliance between the only Jewish state in the world and the only Judeo-christian state in the world, or the ‘State of Jewish Values,’ as they call themselves.”

This ethical foundation of American culture is not detached from what is happening today in America. Israel currently enjoys solid support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Tens of millions of Evangelical Christians support Israel and see its establishment as the fulfillment of the vision of the prophets. All the presidents of this generation have declared America’s commitment to Israel’s existence and prosperity. Even crises between the two nations have never caused a rupture that is impossible to mend.

On this background, we can ask why Israel doesn’t connect to these factors and develop a relationship with the US based on mutual respect and cooperation.

The explanation given by the shapers of Israeli policy is that Israel’s need for US financial aid and political support in the international arena tie our hands and do not allow us to conduct an independent policy toward the US. An analysis of these reasons, however, will show a completely different picture and point to an essential flaw.

American Aid

The Israeli citizen sees America as Israel’s supporting pillar. Despite Israel’s flourishing economy, development of advanced weaponry and emerging independence in energy production, the impression that Israel lives thanks to American handouts still prevails in Israeli society.

One factor that cements this impression is American economic aid to Israel. The dry facts, though, completely contradict common knowledge in Israel. American economic aid today amounts to 1.4% of Israel’s GNP. This is a tiny percentage of Israel’s national annual income and Israel must forgo it. The political, military and financial price tag attached to American “aid” is very high.

American Aid to Israel: Red: Civilian Aid Blue: Military Aid

Not only that, but Israel, home to 7.5 million residents, is in 12th place in its per capita imports from America – similar to India with it 1,120,000,000 residents or Brazil with 172,000,000. Israel exports to the US account for 35% of its annual exports.

Commerce and Trade Balance Purple:Import plus Export Green: Trade Balance Red: ImportBlue: Export

Analyst Ronnie Barrett investigated American financial aid to Israel while he was a member of the research team of the Institute for National Security Research in Tel Aviv University. Barrett thinks that Israel must forgo this aid and notes that one of the reasons for our dependence on US economic aid is political: “Israel sees the economic aid as a powerful public symbol of US support and a strong signal on the strength of the relations between the two countries.

Barrett’s analysis points to the fact that Israel’s acceptance of US economic aid stems from a deep and concealed place: The will to be supported! If we do not accept financial aid, we will not have a “stepfather” who leads us – and we do not have a different father.

The Political Arena

Professor Ezra Zohar, author of “A Concubine in the Middle East” thinks that Israel gives the US more than the US has ever given Israel. He recalls, among other intelligence favors, Israel’s 1966 transfer of the MiG 21 to the US air force that saved American billions. In his opinion, American economic aid is no longer necessary for Israel today, while it still needs American assistance in the international arena. If so, why doesn’t Israel conduct an independent policy with the US?

“Because for two thousand years, we were taught not to act independently. This is a type of exile. By the way, some of our leaders did not study in Israel, and brought these values with them from abroad. In addition, Israel maintains a deep dependence on western culture. This undoubtedly influences the government’s steps. The result is that when the American Senate finally decided to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, it was the Israeli government that opposed the move.” Here, too, the failure is clear: The ethical-Biblical America wishes to conduct itself with a similar Israel. But Israel prefers to flee its identity and to conduct itself as a protectorate –despite the forces in the US that seek to move in the opposite direction.

It’s not the Money, it’s the Feeling of Protection

Warm relations with the leader of the free world are certainly a clear Israeli interest. But instead of founding those relations on the basis of equality, as is the norm in international relations, Israel prefers to see itself as a protectorate of America.


The answer to that question can be found in the depths of the Israeli ethos- constantly in a state of crisis. The declared goal of Zionism was to establish a normal country in Israel. In other words, to return to Zion and leave the curse of the exile – associated with Jewish culture – back in exile. One can certainly understand and even identify with the processes that led to this thought. But the result was that the State of Israel surrendered the ethical foundation that justified its existence – and searched for replacements in the form of America and the culture that it represents. In the process, we turned ourselves into an American protectorate. More than the American umbrella is political/military, it is cultural and ethical. If we stand up to America, the symbol of Western culture, we will pull the cultural carpet out from under our feet

Israel surrendered the ethical foundation that justified its existence – and sought to replace it with America and the culture that it represents. In the process, we turned ourselves into an American protectorate. More than the American umbrella is political/military, it is cultural and ethical.

A New Relationship

Obviously, Israel must return to itself and its original culture and achieve a new Israeli mentality: An independent nation that has a unique and original cultural ethos and knows where it is going. This new mentality will allow us to reach out to the nations of the world and particularly, to the US.

This new mentality is essential. There is also a different America. An America that threatens the values of culture and Biblical faith; an America steadily assimilating into the opposite values. Inside America, more and more voices are calling for internal disengagement from Israel’s founding values: family, productivity and national pride. This has in turn caused the Americans to elect a president from an unclear family background, who “solves” the economic crisis by printing more and more money and whose religion is still unknown. This loss of values has caused a severe economic and social crisis and the worst is yet to come.

The challenge that we face as we come to establish a healthy and stable relationship with the US is to return to ourselves and connect with all those healthy foundations that still maintain a majority in American public life. The future of our relations with America depends upon our ability to establish them on the alliance between the Jewish State and the state of Jewish values.”

It's Me, Not Him

By Moti Karpel

The international campaign of hostility and demonization of Israel has reached unprecedented levels. While in the past, such campaigns have assumed the guise of mere criticism of Israel’s policies, the rhetoric underlying the current onslaught questions the legitimacy of Israel’s very existence. We have turned from a country that, not so long ago, was widely supported and even admired (Six Days War, the Entebbe operation), into a global target for derision. The many attempts to defend Israel, employing digital media dissemination and Jewish volunteers from overseas – are to no avail: the hostility campaign grows stronger and stronger by the day.

Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State, once famously remarked that Israel does not have foreign policy, just internal affairs. Generally, we accept this statement and the corresponding conclusion that our foreign policy should be kept separate from our internal affairs. Although Kissinger was a Jew, his political doctrine, at least on this particular point, is foreign to us. Original Israeli thinking, not to be confused with the stereotypical Israeli thinking, brings us to the opposite conclusion: The political and international problems of Israel, or those of any other country for that matter, are nothing more than a reflection of its social consciousness and spiritual wellbeing. Accordingly, the State of Israel essentially has no external problems, but only internal difficulties. We have no problems with the Arabs, European Union or the United States— but only with ourselves.

We can learn this principle from the tradition of Israeli thinking. The Baal Shem Tov explains the meaning of Divine Providence with an original interpretation of a saying from the Sages: “Know what is above you.” Know, the Baal Shem Tov explains, that everything from Above –comes from you. Everything that happens to a person is actually a reflection of his internal world. Our consciousness is not just a snapshot of reality, but rather an active and creative molder of the very same reality. Reality is not coerced, final and absolute; we establish it by projecting our thoughts, feelings and deeds. Contradictory to western interpretations that see external reality as objective necessity, the traditional Israeli understanding is that the seemingly objective reality is really just a reflection of human consciousness.

This is the basis for the concept of freedom of choice, for the fact that a person is free in the face of reality waiting to be molded. The flip side of that coin is total responsibility. Together with the liberty granted him, man became responsible for his fate and for the external reality surrounding him. He cannot complain about it.

Our return to the Land of Israel is, among other things, the transformation of this principle regarding the correct proportions between internal consciousness and external reality from a personal principle to national guidance. It is even a basis for designing policy. A nation that lives with authentic Israeli consciousness knows that the root of all the problems with which it deals are not outside – in a given objective, political or geopolitical situation – but within itself. The international situation that we face, that on the surface seems to be compelling reality, is not the final and imperative fact, but rather a reflection of our consciousness. This compels us to assume full responsibility for all that happens around us, but also empowers us to change reality.

An authentic Israeli analysis of our foreign affairs problems would have to focus on the essence – specifically on our essence – and not on technicalities. The might of the international campaign against Israel is not nourished by the strength of the Arabs or anti-Israel organizations throughout the world, but by our weakness – which our enemies easily identify, prey upon and use to draw their strength. Our international weakness is a reflection of our internal weakness – sign of a deep ideological crisis that is troubling Israeli society, rooted in the sinking of the Zionist consciousness. When there is no “what” for which to live, no “how” will help.

The real place to counter this attack, then, is not in the hallways of the UN but in the recesses of our hearts. We must understand who we are, once again. From where did we come and where are we going? What are the historical objectives of the Nation of Israel? What issues are part of the Return to Zion and the State of Israel and what is the fitting ideological basis for the soul of the State of Israel and Israeli society?

When we find real answers for these questions, we will once again tap into our life force. When we once again project the power of authentic Israeli life, our international standing will completely change. We do not have problems with the Arabs or with the other nations of the world, but with ourselves, alone.

The Foreign Migrant Controversy

Two weeks ago Tuesday a debate on foreign migrants took place in the Tel-Aviv Jaffa College. Famous media personality Yael Dayan and Attorney Yonatan Feller represented the organizations working in favor of the migrants, Shlomo Maslawi represented the neighborhoods suffering from the sharp rise in violent crime since the migrants have infiltrated the poor sections of Israel's cities and Moshe Feiglin represented a completely different angle on the crisis.

From the very onset, the three other representatives began to clash over the technical aspects of the problem; the rise in crime and its impact on the residents of the neighborhoods. Moshe Feiglin insisted on debating the principles at the foundation of the conflict. "I must assume that the foreign workers, like most people, are good and honest people," he said. "What I cannot accept is the attempt to frame the debate as a struggle between racists (from the Right) and hypocrites (from the Left). I do not accept as fact that one side likes people less than the other and I have also discovered hypocrisy on both sides of the fence."

"I will explain with a simple example," he continued. "Just a few years ago, the State of Israel decided to implement the ethnic cleansing of ten thousand Jews who were legally living in Gush Katif. We could debate if it was justifiable for them to settle there or not. But what ultimately happened was that for a set of values dear to a particular political camp, they were willing to expel women, children and the elderly from their homes."

"And now," Feiglin stated, "the very same people who propelled the expulsion forward with all their might and even enjoyed it, are fighting against the present expulsion of foreign workers. Clearly, then, the internal motivation that determines their position on this subject has nothing to do with humaneness, love of people or anything like that."

"So what is the source of the debate?" the journalist asked.

"The source of the debate lies in the way that one perceives his Jewish identity," Moshe answered. "Yael Dayan, who just a moment ago expressed scorn for those people who oppose intermarriage, showed us that the preservation of Jewish identity is not significant to her. Those people who desire to strengthen Israel's Jewish identity are opposed to absorbing waves of foreign migrant workers, while those who would like to dilute Israel's Jewish identity and make it "multi-cultural" prefer to encourage it."