Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gerry Ziering's Monthly Zionist Letter

Every time I sit down to write about Eretz Yisrael I find new reasons to love the land. Having just returned from a tour of Spain, I can appreciate Israel even more. We set out for a one week tour of Andalusia, the seat of the Expulsion and the Inquisition. The Jews were living happily and in prosperity for over 500 years. First they lived under Moslem rule and then Christian rule after the Christians re-conquered the country from the Moors and Islamic sects whom had moved north from Africa to conquer Spain. While the Jews lived reasonable well under Moslem rule they still had dhimmi status (second class citizens). When the Christians re-conquered their country, Jewish life became even better than it was. It was called the “Golden Age”. Jews were able to own real estate, have professions and be advisors to kings and queens. Such personalities as Ibn Givirol, Yehuda HaLevi, and Maimonides lived in Spain during this period. This lasted until 1492 when King Ferdinand signed the order to expel all Jews from Spain. Today the Jewish population of Spain is almost non-existent. The total number of Jews is listed at 12,000 and of those there are very few halachic Jews left. All traces of Jews and Judaism were removed from Spain. All the Synagogues were either destroyed or converted to churches, the Jewish quarters were totally obliterated or inhabited by Christians. In Cordova we saw one grave from a Jewish cemetery left in tact in an underground parking garage and several tunnels in which the Jews probably used to hide and escape through. A Jew is an oddity in Spain today. Kosher food is all but impossible to find (we found one tiny kosher restaurant in Madrid which was open only from 8:30 P.M). I thought often of what it must have been like during those terrible times. People were being chased from their homes, being forced to convert, and some were killed. Those who converted were always being watched to see if they showed any signs of still being Jewish, such as not working on Shabbat, praying, or lighting a candle on Erev Shabbat. Those that were suspected were brought to the inquisitors and most of the time, they were killed. On my last walk around Cordova at night, as we passed the Mezquita and the large churches I could feel the inquisitor breathing down my neck.

From there we flew back to Israel. The sun was shining and Israeli music was playing. The plane we flew on was El Al, our own national airline. We got off the plane and alit to a bustling crowd of Jews running to get planes to all countries of the world. They were doctors, layers, financiers, high tech engineers; elderly and children, religious and not yet religious. Everybody was speaking Hebrew, our national language. A couple of guards at the door were Ethiopian Jews. My cab driver back to Jerusalem was a Russian Jew. It was great to be home.

I read a nice article in the OU publication “Torah Tidbits” by a resident of Beit El, Joel Rebibo. He talks about when Nadiv and Avihu were killed for bringing strange fire before Hashem. Aaron and his sons were told not to mourn but the Jewish people are told to weep and mourn. Between these two instructions there are 4 words: ועל כל העדה יקצף …and he became wrathful with the whole assembly… The Ohr Hachaim says it is because the people did not mourn and show appreciation for who Nadiv and Avihu were. The gemorrah says they were even greater than Moshe and Aaron. To say “how sad” when people like Nadiv and Avihu are taken from us and then go on with our lives is a Chilul Hashem. Similarly, to say “how nice” at the fact that Eretz Yisrael is for the first time in 2000 years under Jewish sovereignty, is to fail to appreciate that this is the land our Creator chose as his most precious prize, together with the Torah, to give to the Jewish people. While not everyone can merit living in Eretz Yisrael, everyone must be aware of what it has always meant to Am Yisrael, and a decision not to live here must be a conscious one that involves tremendous soul searching.

This past week there were two events that were very noteworthy. The first was a pigua at Binyanei HaUma where a bomb was set off killing 1 woman and injuring many, and the second was the first international marathon to be held in Jerusalem. The first event reminded us how important it is that we have our own state and how vigilant we must constantly be to maintain it. Far from being afraid to be here at times like these, I was proud to be amongst our people in a difficult “hour”. The second event showed the world how beautiful Jerusalem, Israel and the Jewish people are. 1000 runners from foreign countries ran up and down the hills of Jerusalem along with thousands of Israelis. People clapped and cheered and shouted “Am Yisrael Chai” as they ran through the streets. The entire center of the city was closed to vehicular traffic and colored flags and water stations were everywhere. Along the route the runners could view the many wonderful sights in the city such as the walls of the Old City, ancient Yafo street, the Great Synagogue and many others. It symbolized to me the youth, the vigor, the openness and our love of life. To have such a magnificent event only two days after the bombing was a credit to the indomitable Jewish spirit.

Gerry Ziering

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Jewish Approach to Ending Traffic Accidents

By Moshe Feiglin

24 Adar Bet, 5771
March 30, '11

Translated from the NRG website

Twelve-year-old Yael was standing on a traffic island, waiting for the light to turn green so that she could cross the street at the pedestrian crossing. Mark Patrick, driving and drunk, ran her over. It's been 15 months since the accident, but Yael is still in a coma. The doctors have already broached the possibility of organ donation with her parents. The murderer at the wheel - the Torah calls it unintentional murder, but murder nonetheless - received a 1,000 shekel fine (approximately $350) and was ordered to perform 600 hours of community service. His driver's license was revoked for 6 years.

I can sorrowfully say that I can fully identify with the pain of Yael's family. For eight months now, I have been conducting my life from the rehabilitation ward in Tel Hashomer Hospital where my son David is hospitalized after a serious car accident. Thank G-d, David emerged from his coma after almost two months - in the merit of the prayers of the entire Nation of Israel and good people throughout the world, my wife's amazing devotion to our son and the excellent care that he has received from the medical staff. Words can never suffice to thank everyone. David's condition has improved immensely, but he still has a long and difficult road ahead of him. I hope that Yael and her family will experience similar miracles.

Click here for a short Hebrew video clip of David making the traditional blessing at the scene of the accident for having experienced a miracle. David first makes the blessing and then says, "Thank G-d, I am standing, I am talking, I am alive - thanks to the Holy One, Blessed Be He" ) The driver who made a u-turn over a white line, smashing my son's head into an electric pole, has already gotten his license back. His trial has not yet begun. I met a brilliant young computer genius in the rehab ward. He was run over at a pedestrian crosswalk and left strewn on the road in the rain for three hours. The boy is broken in body and spirit. The driver eventually returned to the scene of the accident and was not charged with hit-and-run driving but with abandonment, which carries a lighter sentence. She is also back on the road.

I have seen many more cases like these. The common denominator of them all is that the victims of the MVAs are treated by the state, while the perpetrators of the horror are disconnected from any interaction with their victims.

Slowly, a basic plan to rectify the dire MVA situation has formed in my head. The plan will not bring justice or relief to the victims, but can dramatically reduce the number of people murdered on the roads.

One of Judaism's prime principles is that every man is a king. He must rule over himself. He enjoys complete freedom of choice and thus, is completely responsible for his actions. A person who unintentionally caused damage is still responsible for the results of his negligence. A murderer is a murderer, even if he did not mean to murder. True, he is an unintentional murderer, but the definition still remains. He does not deserve the death penalty, but he must bear responsibility for his actions.

In the first stages after my son's accident, I had no interest in who caused the accident and how it happened. All of my energies were focused on David. Slowly but surely, though, the strange fact that there was no interaction between my son and the person who injured him filtered into my consciousness. The State of Israel has erected an iron curtain between the perpetrator and the victim. The state compensates the victim and is supposed to punish the perpetrator. Legally, the victim is recognized as a side in the ensuing court case, but in practice he has almost no influence on the entire process.

This strange situation probably stems from good intentions. Instead of forcing the victims of MVAs to chase after the murderers on the road for their compensation, the state (by means of mandatory insurance) takes care of it. There is no doubt that this eases the bureaucratic pain that the victims must endure and that they are better off than people who are injured in other types of accidents. But while good intentions are fine, we all know what path they pave.

Before explaining my plan, I would like to ask all the drivers reading this article a simple question: What do you prefer? To drive at a speed of 130 kilometers per hour or to drive without insurance? Please be honest.
Almost everyone who I asked immediately answered that they prefer to drive at 130 kilometers per hour. In other words, when we purchase mandatory insurance, we are actually purchasing a license to kill. We pay the fine in advance, along with all the other drivers in Israel. As soon as we have paid our mandatory insurance, we turn the responsibility for driving safety from personal accountability to the state's responsibility.

The procedure that makes it easy for the victims to receive their compensation actually encourages drivers to drive less carefully than they would if they thought they would have to pay for damages from their own pockets. It adds more and more victims to the rosters of those who will be able to easily collect compensation. What can we do? If we rescind mandatory insurance, most of the victims will not receive compensation. The cost of rehabilitation and help for MVA victims is immense. If a person will not be lucky enough to be run over by a millionaire, he will likely not receive the compensation that he needs.

Obviously, mandatory insurance should not be rescinded. But the responsibility for the victim should remain with the guilty driver and end with the state, and not vice versa. Today, the responsibility begins with the state and ends with the state. Just as a person who divorces remains responsible and must continue to support his children, so a person who hurts another must remain responsible for his actions - even if he did nothing wrong from a purely legal standpoint.

This means that we will no longer be able to rely on insurance. If a driver hurts somebody, the responsibility to compensate the victim will be on his shoulders. All the measures that the state takes against a divorced father who does not pay child support - from prohibiting him from leaving the country to confiscation of his salary - will hover over our heads every time we get behind the steering wheel.

The insurance will enter the picture, as per the decision of the court, in the following instances: If all the driver's funds are insufficient to compensate the victim or if the court will be convinced that the driver acted responsibly and an external force caused the accident. In this case, the court will be allowed to divide the compensation payment between the driver and/or the insurance company.

The main idea behind this approach is that the responsibility returns to the driver. He will never know if the court will be lenient with him or how much it will order the State to pay in his stead. The responsibility will remain firmly on the driver's shoulders and all that he would be able to do in case of an accident would be to pray for a lenient court decision.

I think that if this proposal would be adopted, we would be able to put many of the traffic laws back into mothballs. Many people would prefer to use public transportation. Where responsibility prevails, laws are not necessary.

Sounds threatening? Are we willing to assume responsibility for our actions? That is the million-dollar question. Most people prefer the current situation because nobody believes that he is the next in line. Instead, we attempt to escape to all sorts of solution that cost billions; more police, more infrastructure - all important solutions, but they do not change the essence of the situation because they do not get down to its roots.

This proposal deals with the problem at its source. It can save hundreds of lives annually and prevent the injury of thousands more. This solution does not cost anything, will ensure that the victims receive proper rehabilitation, is based on Jewish principles and will drastically reduce MVAs in our country. Are we willing to take responsibility and adopt it?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Der Sturmer Always Precedes Auschwitz

By Moshe Feiglin

And Moses said to Aaron: 'This is what G-d spoke, saying, with those close to Me I will be sanctified and before all the nation I will be glorified,' and Aaron was silent. (From this week's Torah portion, Shemini, Leviticus 10:3)

And Aaron was silent.
The words stop here.
Even thoughts stop.
Every attempt to explain falls short of the plane on which the question was evoked.
All that is left is emunah, faith in G-d, without which life is meaningless.
Emunah and acceptance of G-d's decrees.
And silence.


There may not be an answer to the "Why?" But the answer to the "How?" is crystal clear.
The physical destruction of the Jews in the Holocaust was preceded by the destruction of their honor and their right to exist. Der Sturmer preceded Auschwitz. Before people or an entire nation can be destroyed, they must first be stripped of their basic human image. They must be made illegitimate. A long and fundamental process in which the Jews of Europe were transformed into objects of derision was the necessary prelude to their physical destruction.

Today, the State of Israel is in the throes of the same process. Achmadinijad - the modern-day Amalek - was the first to publicly talk of Israel's destruction and to make the actual preparations to carry out his evil scheme. This type of rhetoric should have been brought to a rapid end by his elimination. The fact that Achmadinijad was not assassinated has delegitimized Israel.

As this is being written, missiles are exploding in Israel's southern towns and cities and a bomb in Jerusalem has killed one and maimed tens of others. But Israel is afraid to eliminate the threat, fearing international condemnation. If Israel does not prove that it is capable of defending itself and exacting a steep price from those who seek to destroy it, the situation can only go from bad to worse, G-d forbid.

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Audacity of Hope, Israel Style

By Jason Gold

This past Monday evening, I was privileged, along with 350 other forward thinking American Jews, to see the future leader of Israel at the annual US Manhigut Yehudit dinner. Watching and listening to Moshe Feiglin, I couldn't help but reflect back to when I first met him and comparing and contrasting the man who stood at the lectern with the man I met some eight years ago. The man in front of me was as focused as always but now more polished and eloquent. His political life has been shaped by significant gains as well as past mistakes made and by recent personal upheaval with the near-death and now slow but steady miraculous recovery (thank G-d) of his son. Yet, despite the nicer suit and tie and better command of the English language, the message has not changed nor has the mission wavered. The delivery is different, no more personal attacks on any Israeli politician; more on what the true Jewish state will look like; but the message stays on point even when discussing the gut-wrenching massacre of the Fogel family at Itamar. It is clear to see that his stature has risen in Israel as has his power base in the Likud. It is also clear that this man will be Prime Minister of Israel sooner than most people think.

Most of all, during the dinner I felt hope. Not Obama-style "hope and change" nonsense but real hope for the future leadership of Israel; a leadership that will restore Jewish pride and have a state based on Jewish values. And so with that, I direct the following message to all my Jewish brothers and sisters in the Diaspora that I have been speaking to about Manhigut Yehudit all these years who have been hesitant to jump on board the Feiglin bandwagon: I realize that for whatever reason you feel it is necessary to throw your money at the same recycled politicians be they right or left but who all end up doing the left's bidding (see Sharon, Bibi I, Bibi II). I realize that you also think that leaders of the small parties on the right like Ketzeleh or Aryeh Eldad, who have both done some great things for the National Religious camp, will actually make a difference politically, or that Avigdor Lieberman will actually care about preserving the Jewish character of the state after he creates an Arab state in Judea & Samaria (as he states on his website that he will do). I realize you think that Bibi is really brilliant and that he must have a secret plan that he is cleverly disguising as a sellout of Yesha and Yerushalayim.

Will you continue the self-delusion with any or all of the above while avoiding getting involved by convincing yourselves that "Feiglin doesn't have a chance". It has been said that if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for everything. Now is the time to take a stand for Israel and the Jewish People. The only way to do this is to support Feiglin. Be part of the solution and not part of the problem. You can keep marginalizing Manhigut Yehudit, but understand no one is laughing at Moshe Feiglin anymore. Keep wringing your hands on why babies are slaughtered in their beds and why bombs are going off in bus kiosks and why the South is being used for target practice and why nothing is being done. Look in fear at the events going on in the Arab countries that has a G-dless Israeli leadership quaking in its collective shoes. Or perhaps try to do something to change the current culture. Try to at least help bring in leadership that can lead and articulate our G-d-given right to all of the Land of Israel. If Sarah Palin can do it and rightly tell us to stop apologizing for everything we do, then why can't our own leadership do the same? I challenge you to help me and many others change the paradigm. I challenge you to have the real audacity or chutzpah of hope for the Land of Israel. May we all see very soon the rise of the true Jewish State of Israel.

The Beginning of the End for Israel's Left

By Moshe Feiglin

18 Adar Bet, 5771
March 24, '11

An uncomfortable feeling filled me in the face of the Itamar massacre. Everyone is in shock. I feel horrible pain. But I am not shocked.

Shock is the result of surprise. And I am not surprised by what happened. I honestly don't understand why others are surprised, either. We didn't read what they did to the bodies of the 35 Gush Etzion martyrs? We didn't live through years of suicide bombings? Just recently, Israel released the terrorist Samir Kuntar, who smashed the skull of 4 year old Einat Haran on the Nahariya beach years ago. What is the difference between this murderer and the murderer of Hadas Fogel? What has changed? This is how the Arabs act. There is nothing to be surprised about.

The shock most severely affected those people who, with all their might, insisted on deceiving themselves. They convinced themselves that we are in a peace process; that all the Arabs want are political rights, sovereignty, self-definition and the like. They wanted so badly to be normal. On the way they fashioned an enemy for themselves who demanded what they wanted him to demand. Now they are shocked. For a moment they had to face the truth: This enemy is not normal and his goal is not what their Western minds are trying to force into reality. Logical goals like self-definition and other palatable concepts are not part of the true picture.

Slaughter of a sleeping baby is unacceptable as a tool in the struggle for any type of liberation. It comes from a dark place, from a place that simply wants to destroy you. It is Ukrainian, Polish, German behavior. Actually, it is behavior with which we are quite familiar - behavior that says to the shocked Israeli, "What are you talking about? I do not want you out of Shechem and Ramallah. I have them, anyway. All the money that you invest there will not make me like you. I simply want you out of this world. Go back to the Ukrainians, the Polish, the Austrians and the Germans. Let them take care of you. I did not slaughter the baby because she is an occupier on my sovereign soil. I slaughtered her because she is a Jew."

This is the source of the shock: The understanding that there is nobody with whom to make peace, because they do not want to. The Arabs simply cannot stand the fact that we live anywhere in the world - certainly not in the Land of Israel.

In the past, the leftist elite managed to deal with the shock engendered by terror attacks. Their quintessentially demagogic and confusing slogan, "We will not let the enemies of peace achieve their goal" (and so we will continue with the retreats euphemistically known as the peace process) worked quite well on the public. But now it seems that something is starting to change. The massacre in Itamar shocked Israeli society more than similar attacks in the past because it no longer has anywhere to hide from the conclusions. The Oslo-spin no longer works.

The Itamar massacre was perpetrated on the backdrop of the collapse of the regimes in Arab lands. Mubarak's ouster revealed the fragility of our peace agreement with Egypt. It brought to the surface the fact that the dictators sold us the illusion of peace in the lowest dosage possible to keep us ignoring how their countrymen really felt about Israel. Suddenly, in Tahrir Square, the photograph of the hated dictator is waved high with the symbol most despised by the masses: Not the swastika, but the Star of David. Suddenly, the Jordanian Minister of Justice praises the murderer of the young girls from Beit Shemesh. When the nation is out in the streets, the murderer is no longer a crazed soldier. And if we no longer have peace with Egypt and Jordan, what can we possibly expect from the murderous animals in Awarta? The bottom line is that the Arab world is changing. What we are witnessing now is just the beginning. We are well on the way to becoming once again a "nation that dwells alone."

That is what made the Itamar massacre so shocking, brought all our top statesmen to the funeral, created the new perspective in the reporting of the tragedy and the live coverage on Army Radio.

And so, since yesterday, I sit here in the corner, frustrated and frightened, internalizing that it is possible that in the end we will not have the peace that we dreamed of," wrote Guy Maroz in Ma'ariv after the massacre.

He even gives a tongue in cheek clue as to the only hope that he can think of: "Since yesterday, I want to hide under the wide Messianic dress of (settler leader - mf) Daniella Weiss."

We are at the threshold of a new reality. On the one hand, we are still firmly meshed onto the Western, Oslo playing field. We do not attack, but only retaliate. We are completely subordinate to the Western values that always force us to try to prove that we are the most miserable victims on the block. We are still very far from the ability to substantially change direction. On the other hand, though, the entire playing field is crumbling away.

Never fear - the shock will dissipate and Guy Maroz and all his friends will revert to their "peace" consciousness. Soon they will demand the destruction of the settlements. After all, this is reality, not a feel-good Hollywood movie. The consciousness of a nation does not change overnight. But within all the events and upheavals, there is a major change taking place: The virtual Oslo ground is crumbling under the feet of the elites that are nurtured by it. The new playing field is going to be "Daniella's wide dress."

Well, not exactly Daniella. We do not expect to win a political victory that will allow us to change the rules of the game in Israel. On the contrary. The game itself is about to change. The only relevant players in the new game will be those of us who have toiled throughout the years for a genuinely Jewish state.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Don't Play the Horror Index Game

I did not look at the pictures. The Yesha Council requested permission to publicize them and the Fogel family agreed. I respect their decision, but I did not look and I am glad that the media did not publicize them.

It's not that I cannot look at the horror. One must do what is necessary. But the problem in this particular case is that by publicizing the pictures, we are trying to portray ourselves as defenseless victims - to use the horror to make our case. The Yesha Council is attempting to convince the Israeli public, who will then proceed to convince the world that, "It is not true that we are the strong bad guys in this story. Look at how victimized we are!"

In the era of live coverage of every news event, the new factor that determines who gets world sympathy is the horror index. Whoever gets a photo-op of worse victimization is the winner. For 24 hours after the excruciating horror in Itamar, we enjoyed a dubious victory. Since we have chosen to play on the horror index field, we even got some building permits while the sights of the atrocity were still fresh in everyone's minds. But the "window of opportunity" closed very quickly. After all, Japan is also suffering terribly and the frenetic pace of the news quickly covers yesterday's feelings with a fresh coat of news-inspired adrenalin. Furthermore, on most days, the Arabs portray themselves as the victims better than we do - thank G-d. It is a bad mistake to start playing the victim game. We have no chance of winning. It is a game that brings no honor to our nation or to our victims.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The "Rule of Law" Act

By Moshe Feiglin

And Isabel his wife said to him, now you will have kingdom over Israel, arise, eat bread and satiate your heart and I will give you the vineyard of Navot the Jezreelite. And she wrote decrees in the name of Achav and she signed them with his seal and she sent the decrees to the elders and to the Horim in his city, who dwelled with Navot. And she wrote in the decrees, declare a fast and seat Navot at the head of the people. (Kings II, 21:7-9)

And he sent royal decrees to all the states of the king, each state in its form of writing and each nation in its language, so that every man would rule in his home and speak the language of his nation.
(The Scroll of Esther 1:22)

What do the decrees of Isabel and Ahashverosh have in common? In both cases, they are an attempt to squelch justified disobedience. In both cases, the decrees are based on "the law."

Navot the Jezreelite is unwilling to sell his family inheritance. Vashti is unwilling to embarrass herself in public. In the face of disobedience that is obviously just, all that a king can use is the most corrupt of tools: The rule of law.

It is impossible to miss the similarity in style. They make laws, sign them with the royal seal and send them throughout the kingdom. It is reminiscent of the Evacuation/Compensation law, enacted with careful attention to the letter of the law. This was not a criminal act, heaven forbid. It was the product of an orderly legislative process that encompasses everyone!

When the assassination plot of Bigtan and Teresh is exposed, there is no need for all this. Everyone understands that they will receive the death penalty. But when justice is not with the king, he can always pull the "rule of law" act out of his hat.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Purim

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's not the Right, it's Reality

(Editor's note: this article was written before this week's horrific massacre of the Fogel family at Itamar)

By Moshe Feiglin

10 Adar Bet, 5771
March 16, '11

Translated from Ma'ariv's NRG website

If the entire conflict between Right and Left in Israel were to be played out in sterile conditions, the Left would win. It would destroy all the settlements, get rid of the settlers and establish the State of Tel Aviv, the Singapore of the Middle East - just as Shimon Peres envisioned. It is not at all a matter of majority and minority. The Left has always been a minority. But it has also always been equipped with a strong ideology and leadership mentality. Opposing it is the Jewish majority that is motivated more by sentiment than by ideology. It is a majority that is incapable of ruling.

The Left is not losing sleep over the Right, and certainly not over the Religious. What opposes the Left and its plans is simply - reality. Since the Camp David Accords and at a more accelerated pace -since the Oslo Accords - the method that Israel uses to realize its dream of normalcy, of being a nation like all other nations, a state of all its citizens, the Singapore of the Middle East - is to make treaties with dictators who will do the work for us.

The method is supposed to work as follows: While it is true that the neighboring nations do not want us, do not like us and certainly are not interested in peace with us, it does not really matter. They are ruled by dictators and dictators can be bribed. The idea is to make it worthwhile for the dictator to continue perpetuating the illusion of normal ties with us. These dictators will help us be rid of the "occupied territories" and the settlers. In our merit they will receive international stature and endless payoffs and will hide reality from us.

This was how it worked for years. Within the framework of this method, we rehabilitated dictators who were the pariah of the world.

Not only did this method work with dictators outside Israel - it worked inside Israel, as well. An entire stratum of "insiders" in Israel has enjoyed easy access to economic, social and political power as a result of those peace accords.

One small example of this is the energy that Israel consumes. All of it comes from Egypt, from the oil wells that were in our hands and developed by Israel in the Sinai. Until just a few weeks ago, this energy made its way to Israel in exchange for a hefty price. The "peacemakers" on both sides of the border profited handsomely from this energy deal. Those same Israelis have also made it a habit to oppose the development of any other gas or oil wells in Israel.

Now Arab society is revolting. The rule is returning to the people and even if the powers that be in Israel try to convince us that soon the gas from Egypt will flow again into Israel - and even if it does flow for a bit - it makes no difference. The 30 year "window of opportunity" so beloved by the Left has been closed.

The bubble has burst and reality is being broadcast from Tahrir Square. What we saw there is the hated Mubarak festooned with the object of the people's hatred: a Star of David. The people in Israel will understand sooner or later that they have no choice. There is no peace, there was no peace and there will be no peace with our neighbors - until we fulfill our destiny. As long as we flee our identity, they do not accept our legitimate right to be here - and justifiably so.

It will not help the regime in Israel to shoot at settlers in an attempt to prove that we have no identity. The Left will likely continue with more and more outrageous actions like this, just like a wounded animal. It will not help us to propose more and more interim peace plans, it will not help us to give the Arabs the Jordan Valley and I do not know what new brilliant idea Bibi will try to sell Washington next month to buy just a bit more time. None of this will help. The ground under our feet is crumbling. The playing field upon which we have played the normalcy game has simply disappeared and we are left here with ourselves and our identity.

The Camp David and Oslo mentality upon which the political game in Israel has been played out is finished. Presumably, many radical leftists will leave Israel. They have no sentimental issues and when they realize that their vision of Zionist assimilation is finished because reality - not the Right - will not allow it, they will simply get up and leave.

Suddenly, we, the Jewish majority, will be left here by ourselves, without the Oslo vision. We will have to create a new vision, a new horizon that will give meaning to our lives here. This vision will no longer be a vision of disconnection and escape from our Jewish identity. It will be a vision that highlights our Jewish identity and true liberty. The leader who will be able to forge this vision into tangible reality will lead Israel.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Moment of Truth for Leftists

(Editors note: from the Yediot Achranot English website,

Op-ed: Following attack, leftists must decide whether they're 'useful idiots' or anti-Semites
By Assaf Wohl

Hello there, global leftist:

Almost every day, Israel's citizens are told of more displays of hostility by you against us. Often we are informed of various boycotts imposed on Israeli goods, the cancellation of cultural events in Israel, and even attempts to boycott Israeli academia.

This past week I watched Pink Floyd's Roger Waters urging a boycott on Israel. His arguments included an embarrassing combination of charges, including the finest lies taken from al-Jazeera's propaganda. The most prominent argument was Israel's portrayal as a racist "apartheid state" that sets up a wall separating Arabs and Jews.

Now, listen to what happened Saturday. One or more terrorists infiltrated the community of Itamar, which is located beyond the protective fence. They butchered five family members with knives, including an 11-year-old child, a four-year-old boy, and a three-months-old baby girl.

Gaza residents celebrated the massacre, so this is not a case of individual madness. These are the same Palestinians who celebrated the death of thousands at the Twin Towers. These are the same people who are standing at the squares of Tehran, Damascus, Beirut and even Istanbul, screaming "Death to Israel." As it turns out, "Israel" can also be a baby.

Let's put ideology aside for a moment and only talk numbers. Before the fence was built, premeditated acts of horror were perpetrated within Israel regularly. In 2002 alone, some 189 Israelis were massacred in 53 terror attacks. As the fence kept expanding, hostilities declined, until in 2009 they stood at zero. So these are the numbers.

My conclusions, which are only premised on the data presented above, are simple: With a fence in place, there are no massacres. Without a fence, hundreds of civilians are massacred. Hence, those interested in removing the fence support the slaughter of Israelis. So why do you, dear leftist, endorse massacres in practice?

Useful idiots

Ask yourself the following question: Why do you compare the premeditated slaughter of civilians to unintentional harm to civilians who serve as a human shield for rocket launchers and suicide bombers? There are two possible answers here.

The first answer, my leftist comrade, is that you're simply an idiot. Don't be insulted, my friend, you're not "just an idiot." You are an idiot of the type Lenin referred to as "useful idiot." What does that mean? You're simply being exploited.

You are being exploited by global Islam in a bid to eliminate a democratic state. After all, you would not be able to survive even five minutes in the alternative they prepare for you. If you want, you can look into the state of freedom of expression, prosecution of Christians, stoning of women and hanging of homosexuals in the Muslim world.

You likely believe that you are legitimately criticizing the State of Israel. Yet here you're lying to yourself a little. There is no state like Israel, surrounded by an ocean of billions of people calling for its extermination. Its neighbors, who realized they cannot defeat it on the battlefield, are simply exploiting you: They fire rockets at our kindergartens from the safety behind your back – yes, you, the one calling for boycotts and screaming "apartheid."


The second and less flattering possibility is that you're not a "useful idiot," but rather, a mere anti-Semite. Is there another way for you to explain your obsession with Israel? Do you show the same determined disapproval towards China, Iran, Syria, Venezuela or North Korea?

The campaign against the Jewish state is disproportional in a way that cannot be explained away. I too admit that the Jews are an especially annoying people. Yet we do not tend to explode on buses as a form of revenge; not even in Germany. At most we'll argue with you until you die of boredom.

Perhaps you believe that you'd be able to clear your conscience of the persecution of Jews and Holocaust if only you prove that we're worse than you. Perhaps the fact that the annoying Jews, according to the Bible at least, introduced to the world the morality which Islam and Christianity are premised on drives you nuts. Maybe you are interested in highlighting our injustices because someone branded us as the "Chosen People." One way or another, I have no intention to again march into the gas chambers because of a 3,000-year-old story.

By the way, guess what the next target for extermination is? You really don't know? Go ahead and look in the mirror. In Brussels, Paris, London and Malmo you shall soon be an extinct species fighting for its survival under Islamic laws. And while you're at it at the mirror, look at yourself and say the following: "Now, after I read this, I am no longer a useful idiot. Rather, I am an anti-Semite who is assisting the murder of Jews, in practice."

Does it seem exaggerated to you? Maybe so. But in the bottom line, as far as the outcome is concerned, this is precisely what you're doing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Animal Sacrifices? Holiness

By Moshe Feiglin

We usually read this week's Torah portion perfunctorily, not really connecting to its message. This week's Torah portion, Vayikra (and many of the other Torah portions in the book of Leviticus) is about the various animal sacrifices performed in the Holy Temple. Modern man cannot grasp the connection between the ritual slaughtering of animals and connecting to the Creator. A slaughterhouse seems diametrically opposed to the Holy Temple.

The reason for this inability to connect to animal sacrifices has nothing to do with animal rights. After all, most people have no problem biting into a juicy steak. The bite of steak comes to quiet hunger and to satiate a physical appetite. We can easily understand and accept that. But the thought that an apparently similar action can fill a spiritual need cannot be easily integrated into our modern consciousness. A priest is not supposed to marry and a person who is busy perfecting the physical world is expected to accept his inferior spiritual status. Our difficulties with animal sacrifices stem from the fact that we no longer have the holistic consciousness that would allow us to understand them. The Holy Temple is not the problem; we are.

Those people who have the merit to ascend to the Temple Mount in purity are familiar with the northern side of the plateau. There, at the place where the plaza that was north of the altar is in full view, the Mishna in Tractate Zevachim that we read every morning becomes tangible and inspiring:

"What is the place of the sacrifices? The kodshei kodashim are slaughtered in the north, the bull and the goat are slaughtered in the north and their blood is gathered in the holy vessel in the north."

The Mishnah goes on to depict the specific place in the Temple where the animals are slaughtered. Most of them are slaughtered exactly at this northern point. Suddenly, the technical words that we read in this week's Torah portion or mumble every morning, totally disconnected, come alive. Suddenly, the heart opens again and ascends from the grave of destruction and exile to a complete and connected reality.

And the question no longer exists.

Shabbat Shalom

Anticipation and Revolutions

By Moshe Feiglin

4 Adar II, 5771
March 10, '11

Editor's note:
This article was written following last week's extreme police brutality at the demolition of Jewish homes on the Gilad Farm hilltop community.

Amona was the beginning of Olmert's end. If Netanyahu will allow those same dark forces to continue to lead the nation in the direction we saw this week on the Gilad Farm, it will be the end of his government, as well.

Olmert had calculated that if Sharon expelled the Jews from Gush Katif and his political base strengthened as a result, he would do the same. And if Sharon acted with determination, then he - Olmert - would do even better and act with cruelty. But Olmert misread the map. The public was disgusted by the pictures from Amona. His popularity clearly began to erode from the day that his troops descended on Amona until it dissipated into oblivion.

Netanyahu is not the same type of scoundrel as Olmert. As he explained in the Likud faction meeting, he is under strong international pressure, to which he has apparently succumbed. Netanyahu left the conditions of surrender to others. It is reasonable to assume that it suited him well to allow Ehud Barak, Shai Nitzan and their cohorts to stage this week's war against the hilltop pioneers; settlers and builders of the Land of Israel, in an attempt to lay new ground rules for dealing with them.

Whether Netanyahu knew of their intended actions or not, he cannot escape his responsibility for the abominable conduct of his police forces. If he does not absolutely negate the use of weapons against settlers, his political end will be similar to Olmert's.

There is a question, however, that we must ask: Why does this happen time and again to Religious Zionism?
In his monumental commentary on his times, brilliant author, philosopher and Lehi fighter Shabtai Ben Dov (1924-1979) humbly criticized Rabbi Kook's approach to the emerging State of Israel. In my humble opinion, Ben Dov's criticism explains Kfar Maimon, the Gilad Farm and everything in between.

After an introduction in which Ben Dov writes how much he admires and respects Rabbi Kook's vision he continues (excerpts): "Although Rabbi Kook envisioned the dialectic of the redemption and knew that in the future it would take place through the separation of the dynamic foundation from the static tradition and their renewed bond on a Messianic base, he himself remained entirely subject to the static foundation. In other words, although he envisioned the entire process from beginning to end, he remained a visionary, an onlooker. He maintained the old, exile-pattern anticipation so that it would be prepared to contribute its part in the holistic merging that will be created sometime in the future."

Those who are simply in anticipation-mode cannot exit the gates of Kfar Maimon. And when they finally do emerge to their own form of disengagement - instead of merging with the dynamic redemptive foundation - they open the gate to public demonization, despite the basic sympathy that the public has for their cause.

The Gilad Farm pioneers are true heroes and we stand behind them and their positive energies. The police and those who gave them their abominable orders will ultimately pay for their conduct and we will do all that we can to ensure that justice is done soon. But it is important to understand that it is impossible to run away from responsibility. We cannot flee our responsibility to lead Israel. We cannot flee to the "state supremacy approach" that answers Amen after every abomination of the regime and not to the hilltop approach that separates itself from the rest of the nation. Although the hilltop approach engenders much more respect, both approaches flee the responsibility to lead the Nation of Israel to its destiny, preferring to remain in anticipation-mode.

We have entered an era of revolutions. The revolutionary winds blowing through the Middle East will not skip over Israel. We do not know when it will happen and how it will take place. But the hunger for meaning in our lives in Israel will ultimately prevail. When the sovereignty will return to the people, even the tyranny of the leftist bureaucrats in the Justice Ministry will not be able to overcome the Jewish revolution.

The new leaders of tomorrow will be those who have prepared themselves for that moment. This is the prism through which to understand all of Manhigut Yehudit's actions today.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Jewish Rights on the Temple Mount?

The past years have seen a flurry of Jewish activity surrounding the Temple Mount. Public pressure brought about significant (albeit insufficient) change in the opportunities to ascend the Temple Mount and we endorse all those who worked hard to make this possible. In the past two months, however, we have experienced a downturn. Israel's Police have begun to take action against individuals who frequent the Temple Mount. Apparently, they are trying to reverse the trend of ascent to the Mount. Rabbi Yehudah Glick, who heads the Fund for Temple Mount Heritage and the Human Rights on the Temple Mount organization, has been disgracefully persecuted. The police have not even stopped at undermining his income. They have taken the same type of actions against other steady Temple Mount ascenders, as well.

We cannot remain silent in the face of this abuse. Manhigut Yehudit has published an initial report on the abuse of Jewish human rights on the Temple Mount, which was distributed to the Knesset Members. With G-d's help, it will lead to a Knesset meeting that will demand that the situation be rectified. In order to allow us to continue to monitor the conduct of Israel's government through its police forces, we request of all those who ascend the Temple Mount to share testimony, photos or films of any police (mis)conduct that discriminates against Jews on the Temple Mount. Please send the information to

Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Price of “Dignity”

By Erez Nir


A person’s dignity – as well as his good name – is not a virtual matter. There can be serious damage to a person if his dignity has been injured and our sages reckoned the damage to dignity just like any other tangible damage.

“When two men strive against each other and the wife of one man draws near to deliver her husband out of the hand of the one who smites him and puts forth her hand and takes him by in his private area, then you shall cut off her hand – your eye shall not have pity.” Deuteronomy: 25:11-12

These verses, which appear chauvinistic and barbarian, are taken from one of the more difficult passages that appear in the Bible. Here is the picture: two men are fighting. The wife of one of the men, who cares for her husband’s welfare, interferes and hits the opponent in the groin. The Torah commanded that a woman who dared to intervene in a man’s fight would have her hand cut off. This is the pshat, the superficial explanation.

However, sages learned through the Oral Law that the Torah conveys an eternal spirit in those texts that were written for a particular place or at a particular time. The eternal foundation of the Torah is not centered in the body or appearance of the verses but rather in their undisclosed spirit which our Sages call ‘Midrash.’

Our sages, Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Judah, disagreed about the covert spirit behind these verses but on one point they certainly agreed: in the here and now, it is neither appropriate to apply the rules at face value, nor does the Torah intend it to be so. In this case, the time that has elapsed requires an explanation which will reveal the hidden, inner spirit – the spirit which is to be implemented in a changing world. We focus on the explanation of Rabbi Judah, inSifri:“… ‘have no pity’ – this means monetary compensation.”

Rabbi Judah understood that a woman must pay a particular payment when she takes this kind of action. This explanation has created a new Mishnaic definition of payment to be made for damages. This payment is called “shame-money.” From the hard-line attitude taken by the text towards the action of the woman, our Rabbis learn that there is a special penalty for the shame that one person causes another.

The case of this woman is just one example of shaming another individual irrespective of other actual damage. The Mishna makes a distinction between “shame-money” and other payments for damages. The perpetrator pays “shame-money” in addition to other fines resulting from the damage. A person’s dignity is thus worth money!

The Sages in the Gemara applied this principle by grading the payments to be made in accordance with the tool or object that caused the blow. “He slapped another person, he must pay 200 zuz. If he slapped him with the back of his hand, 400 zuz. If he shouted in his ear, pulled his hair, spit in his face, removed his garment or uncovered a woman’s hair – he must pay 400 zuz. It all depends on his dignity.” (Baba Kama 8:6) For these subtle psychological differentiations, our sages decided on different amounts of compensation for “shame-money.”

Today, this sounds completely irrelevant. We are, after all, pragmatic people and the damage is, after all, exactly the same damage: – a slap is the same slap and violence is the same violence.

But has the technique of the violence become unimportant to us because we have “progressed”? Or maybe the opposite is true – maybe we have blocked our senses from an entire field of reality – a field which, in our case, concerns metaphysical matters such as “dignity.”

Could it be that 2000 years ago there was a certain understanding about human dignity and freedom, which has become lost today? An entire dimension of the way we perceive reality has become lost – the spiritual dimension. We no longer feel, we no longer understand its importance and strength – and thus we have become unable to grasp the danger and the damage. In our world today human dignity has no importance unless we can also prove that loss of dignity has caused financial damage to the victim, in a tangible, quantifiable way. Material things have value – dignity has none.

The Torah, however, appreciates the dignity of man and makes the point “your eyes shall not have pity” to demonstrate the importance of punishment for the person who humiliates his friend. The same is true of anyone suspected of any other offense: If we really valued a person’s honor, we wouldn’t rush to “shed his blood” so lightly in the press before he’s been proven guilty in the name of “the public’s right to know” – just as we wouldn’t rush to take his money. Maybe it would be worthwhile to “cut off” the long arm of “the public’s right to know” in order to defend the privacy of the individual citizen.

Friday, March 04, 2011

The Paradox of G-d's House on Earth

By Moshe Feiglin

The concept of a Temple, a physical place that humans build to serve as G-d's dwelling place, as described in this week's Torah portion, Pekudai, is paradoxical. In his speech at the dedication ceremony of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, King Solomon touches upon this enigma:

Then Solomon said, G-d said that He would dwell in the thick darkness." (From this week's Haftarah,
Kings I, 8:12)

In other words, first and foremost, I did not dream up this Temple on my own. G-d directed us to build it: "And they will make for Me a Temple and I will dwell within them." This is the Divine directive that I fulfilled. The Holy Temple is not the place where the pagan idol worshipper "coerces" G-d, as it were, to descend to him. On the contrary: It is G-d Who has directed us to build Him a dwelling place, and we have merely fulfilled his directive.

While G-d indeed commanded us to build Him a home on earth, the question remains: "
Will G-d really dwell on the earth, for the heavens and heaven of heavens cannot contain You, how much more so this house that I have built?" (Kings I, 8:27)

How can the infinite contain the finite?

And may You hear the prayers of your servant and of your Nation, Israel, who will pray toward this place and You will hear in your dwelling place in heaven and You will hear and forgive." (ibid 28)

Did Solomon answer the question? Not really. Perhaps what he is saying is that a human cannot really understand this connection between the physical and the meta-physical. It is G-d Who chose this physical place from which we can come close to Him and pray the most direct and effective prayers to Him. It is G-d Who chose to "touch" the world through this point on earth.

The Temple Mount and the Temple are like the brain in a human body. It is the place where body and soul meet; the physical and the meta-physical. No doctor can explain what takes place at the point of that encounter and apparently, no human can answer King Solomon's question. But we do know that our return to the Temple Mount and the rebuilding of the Temple, will, with G-d's help, renew the entire world.

Shabbat Shalom