Sunday, August 31, 2014

Is Time Working For or Against Israel?

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
For the first time, Israel's country default spread (2.48%) – which reflects the risk premium on government bonds - is similar to that of the US (2.38%).
The trend of Israel's economy from 1948 until today has reaffirmed that time has been working for – and not against – Israel.  Moreover, the ongoing war, terrorism, international pressure and boycotts, which have challenged Israel since its establishment in 1948, have been exposed – in retrospect - as bumps and hurdles on the road to unprecedented economic growth.
The sustained, impressive growth of Israel's economy throughout the last thirty years – in defiance of endemic geopolitical and military adversity - is documented in an August, 2014 study by Dr. Adam Reuter, the CEO of Financial Immunities Consulting and the Chairman of Reuter-Maydan Investment House. For example, Israel's GDP catapulted from $30bn in 1984 to $300bn in 2014; per capita GDP surged from $7,000 to $38,000; public debt to GDP ratio shrunk from 280% to 66%; the external public debt to GDP ratio contracted from 55% to 10%; the budget deficit to GDP ratio decreased from 17% to 3%; the defense budget reduced from 20% to 6%; annual inflation collapsed from 450% to 1%; the foreign exchange reserves swelled from $3bn to $89bn; export rose from $10bn to $90bn; high tech exports expanded from $1bn to $28bn; research and development expenditures to GDP ratio grew from 1.3% to 4.2%; the population of Israel grew from 4.1 million to 8.2 million; etc.. The growth from 1948 is even more impressive: a 2000% growth, from a $1.5bn, to a $300bn, GDP.
Assessing the impact of the Gaza War on Israel's economy against the backdrop of the three previous wars – 2006 against Lebanon's Hezbollah and 2009 and 2012 against Gaza's Hamas – demonstrates an exceptional capability to bounce back rapidly, except for the gradual recovery of tourism, which accounts for 2% of Israel's gross domestic product (GDP).  The pattern of crisis-to-recovery has always featured an abrupt and short-lived crisis followed by a speedy – not a prolonged – recovery (a "V" and not a "U" shaped graph).
For example, according to the Bank of Israel, the 2006 war against Hezbollah triggered an immediate drop of GDP from more than 6% to a negative growth of 1.5%, followed by a swift recovery to almost 10% growth in the following quarter (prior to the global economic meltdown). The effects of the 2009 and 2012 wars were significantly more moderate, but recovery was as rapid.
The 2014 Gaza War is estimated to lower Israel's 2014 GDP by 0.5%.  Based on recent precedents, it will have insignificant influence on foreign investors, most of who seek the knowhow–intensive Israeli high tech companies, which are minimally vulnerable to rocket and missile fire. Moreover, the expanded global interest in Israeli-developed and manufactured, battle-tested defense systems (e.g., the "Iron Dome," "Trophy," "Aqua Shield," "Point Shield," etc.) - which demonstrated their unique capabilities during the Gaza War - is expected to bolster a quick recovery and the continued growth of Israel's economy. 
In 2014, Israel is the world's top exporter of drones, the world's co-leader (along with the US) in the development, manufacturing and launching of small and medium size satellites, the sixth largest exporter of military systems, the 2ndlargest cyber exporter - $3bn in 2013, 5% of total exports and three times larger than Britain's, as well as an emerging natural gas power.
The February, 2014 International Monetary Fund (IMF) Israel Country Report stated: "Israel has been exposed to a series of shocks, including the global crisis and heightened geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. Nevertheless, GDP growth has averaged 4% over the past 5 years, compared with 0.7% on average for OECD countries. Per capita GDP grows more rapidly than in other OECD countries."  The three leading credit rating companies, Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch reaffirmed Israel's high credit rating, emphasizing its fiscal responsibility, economic dynamism and resilience, while lowering the credit rating of many developed economies. According to the OECD annual 2013 report, Israel is the 4th most attractive country for foreign direct investment (FDI) per GDP – 4%, compared to 1.6% in the top 16 economies.  Warren Buffett attests to that distinction: "Israel is the leading, largest and most promising investment hub outside the United States.”  In addition, leading US venture capital funds established Israel-dedicated funds, and over 250 leading US high tech companies established research and development centers in Israel, leveraging Israel's brainpower, which has become a chief pipeline of cutting edge technologies; thus, expanding US employment, research and development and exports. Intel's recent decision to invest $6bn in upgrading one of its six Israeli facilities represents the confidence of the global high tech community in Israel's long term viability.
In contrast to those who wish to boycott Israel, 2013-14 have highlighted Israel's expanding trade and investment global network, especially with the surging economies of China, India and South Korea.
Is time working for or against Israel? The economic indicators from 1948 until today confirm that Israel has experienced splendid economic integration, and unprecedented economic growth, in defiance of ongoing war, terrorism, boycotts and international pressure.

Shmuel Sackett Analyzes Israel’s Options and Future

Don’t miss this lucid analysis of Israel’s present situations and its options for the future on Peretz Eichler’s Front Center Talk News. Click here.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Third of Elul: Stay in the Land! (For the Yahrtzeit of Rav Kook)

By Rabbi Chanan Morrison

One of the last people to speak with Rav Kook before his death was Prof. Hermann Zondek. Director of Jerusalem’s Bikur Cholim hospital, Zondek treated the rabbi during his final illness in a guest house in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem. The doctor was amazed at Rav Kook's concern and empathy for everyone with whom he came in contact - even during his last hours, when suffering intense pain.

Prof. Zondek was an early victim of the rise of Nazism in Germany. In 1933, while treating patients in his Berlin hospital, he was called to his office. There an SS officer informed Zondek that he was dismissed from his position as director of the Berlin City Hospital – effective immediately. His service during World War I as a military physician, his highly-respected medical research, and his well-placed patients, which included German chancellors - these all counted for naught.

That very night, Zondek fled Germany. He later commented, "It was only after I left Germany that I realized that, until 1933, the Jews were living in a fool’s paradise."

Final Request

Two years later, the doctor was working in Jerusalem, treating the aged chief rabbi in his final days. "A person's true nature is revealed during illness," he noted. "The Rav bore his terrible suffering with great wisdom."

Zondek recalled:

"In his final hour, he was in severe pain. The room was full of people; and his colleague-student Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Charlap sat by his bed.

"About half an hour before his death, the rabbi took my hand in his. With great emotion, he told me,

"I hope that the prominent sons of our people will not leave our land, but will remain here to help build it up. Please, stay here in the Land of Israel!"
"The truth is that this incident took place not long after I had come to the country. I had many difficulties adjusting. Much of what I found was not to my taste, and I was strongly considering leaving the country. But the Rav's heartfelt appeal, at that critical juncture, was one of the most important factors that helped me decide to stay in our land. As a result, I put down roots here."

(Adapted from Shivchei HaRe'iyah, p. 304.)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Jewish Survivors and Their Progeny Against Israel

The ad placed by Holocaust survivors in The New York Times. Photo: New York Observer.
The Jewish enemies of Israel, if they are sufficiently profligate in the expenditure of claptrap, often come to the aid of her defenders. Early this summer (2014) I wrote the following paragraph in the prologue to a book (entitled Jews Against Themselves) that I was sending off to my publisher:
“I have not attempted a systematic taxonomy of all the species of Jews arrayed under the genus ‘enemies of Israel,’ a monumental task that would require an Encyclopedia to include the following: Jewish Progressives against Israel;  Jewish Queers  against Israel; Haredimagainst Israel; Holocaust Survivors against Israel;  Children of Holocaust Survivors against Israel; Jewish Voice for Peace; Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors against Israel; Survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto against Israel; J Street;  Jewish Postmodernists against Israel; Jewish Berkeley Professors against Israel; Post-Zionists against Israel; Jewish Members of MESA [Middle East Studies Association] against Israel; Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (JBIG, also called, seasonally, London’s Jewish Christmas Carolers against Israel); and so on and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Despite this, there will always be readers who express astonishment that there are Jews who question the Jewish right to live as a natural right, or hate Israel and are ashamed to have a state. Surely they are as rare as singing mice or card-playing pigs? Alas, no.”
I felt more or less content with that Swiftian list, yet also sensed that something was missing from it. The recent publication, first in Britain’s Guardian on August 15, and then in The New York Times on August 23, of an ad accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza and calling for “full economic, cultural, and academic boycott of Israel” told me what it was. The ad was placed by “Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors” and also “friends of survivors,” “friend of many survivors,” “cousins of survivors,” “cousins of victims of Nazis in Ukraine,” “the great niece of an uncle who shot himself,” “spouse of hidden child,” and “relative of victims.” Where defamation of Israel is concerned, imagination cannot keep pace with the fantastic moral coarseness of the defamers.
According to the 327 (mostly unknown) signatories of this fiery, vitriolic, and obscene assault on the state of Israel as the one true inheritor of Nazism, and on Elie Wiesel (who dares to say that Jews have done enough dying), the death factories and outdoor killing centers and vast machinery of murder of the Germans and their allies were, for those who managed to survive them, schools of moral instruction and intellectual acumen. These gifts have enabled them to pass judgment on the latest Hamas-Israel conflict and come down unreservedly on the side of Hamas, the Islamist version of Nazism whose declared purpose is to destroy Israel and “to kill Jews wherever you find them.”
It does not occur to the “survivors” (if that is indeed what they really are) and their progeny that persecuting governments and persecuting religions, while breeding vices in those who hold power, are well known to breed answering vices in those who are powerless and suffering. The signatories assume that the death camps were such seminal teachers of moral scruple that their influence has been passed on, to the children, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren of survivors. I had failed to include these genetically privileged people in my list; and their numbers are vast, perhaps uncountable, among the variegated species of Jews within the genus “Jewish enemies of Israel.” A grievous omission on my part, to be sure, if the offspring of survivors, even unto the thousandth generation, are genetically authorized to decide which nations may live, and which must die.
Three names among the signatories caught my attention: Daniel Boyarin, Hedy Epstein, and Anna Baltzer. The first lists himself as “great grandson” of victims of Nazism. A University of California, Berkeley professor (of Talmud), Boyarin has identified himself as a Jew “destined by fate, psychology, personal history, or whatever, to be drawn to Christianity,” and has warned that “My Judaism may be dying at Nablus, Daheishe, Beteen,” (i.e., places the Israeli army has entered to pursue people inclined to massacre Jews). Boyarin belongs to what has been called the “sissy” school of contemporary Jewish thinkers. He calls himself “oddly gendered” and would replace the “muscular” Judaism of the Zionism he hates with a feminized Judaism that he claims to find in rabbinic texts. For him the moral center of Jewish history is a celebration of the renunciation of national interest, as if that were the only criterion of a just politics. He and others in the sissy school deem it praiseworthy in Jews never (or so they believe) in the past to have picked up the gun or the knife, as if a man unable to eat should be praised for his ability to fast. But when Israel is being bombed, Boyarin is less queasy about violence, and now takes the side of Hamas, which has been firing thousands of missiles at Israeli citizens for weeks on end. No matter the circumstances, Boyarin keeps repeating, with steam-engine regularity, that Jews are “collectively engaged in war/wars against Muslims,” and likens all Israeli self-defense to the Nazi Holocaust.
Then there is Hedy Epstein. a professional “survivor” (she left Germany as a child in 1939) and member of the pro-Hamas International Solidarity Movement. Since she believes that slavery, like the Nazi camps, also (unwittingly) provided ethical instruction and refinement to its victims, she makes a point of turning up in marches (most recently in Ferguson, Missouri) to support African-American race racketeers like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and never misses an opportunity to spew venom at Israel. She is a 90-year old version of the late Rachel Corrie–inveterate “slumming” do-gooders who confuse doing good with feeling good about what they are doing.
Anna Baltzer, popping up in the “Grandchildren” category of the ad, is really Anna Piller. But after becoming a full-throated and virtually full-time apologist for Hamas, an activist (like Epstein) in the International Solidarity Movement, and in the BDS movement, she decided to conceal her identity from a still living grandmother who was both a Holocaust survivor and a strong supporter of Israel. For people like Baltzer, it is not the sin but its disclosure that must be taken seriously. The very grandmother who enabled Piller-Baltzer to preface all her solemn idiocies about Israeli “apartheid” with “As a Jew” was thus afforded some protection from knowing that her granddaughter was speechifying in Presbyterian churches and similar venues on behalf of a Jew-killing  organization. (Was there ever a shrewder reply to the question “Who Is a Jew?” than the one given by the Hebrew novelist Yosef Haim Brenner when he said that “A Jew is someone with Jewish grandchildren”?) In the case of Piller-Baltzer (and no doubt in scores just like it) we have the epistemological paradox of a biologically-based claim to moral wisdom that is confuted by the very ancestor invoked to justify it.
Perhaps the last (though not infallible) word on this latest deformation of the Holocaust should be left to the late Primo Levi, whose decency and wisdom survived in but was not created by Auschwitz:
“The ‘saved’ of the Lager were not the best, those predestined to do good; the bearers of a message. What I had seen and lived through proved the exact contrary. Preferably the worst survived, the selfish, the violent, the insensitive, the collaborators of the ‘grey zones’, the spies. It was not a certain rule… but it was, nevertheless, a rule. I felt innocent, yes, but enrolled among the saved and therefore in permanent search of a justification in my own eyes and those of others. The worst survived, that is, the fittest; the best all died.” – (Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved)
Edward Alexander is the author of, among other books, The Resonance of Dust: Holocaust Literature and Jewish Fate (Ohio State University Press, 1979).

Shoftim: The Royal Sefer Torah

 By Rav Mordechai Rabinovitch

And it shall be, when he sits upon the throne of his kingdom, he shall write [for] himself  the text of this law in a scroll, out of that which is before the Kohanim the Levites” (Devarim 17:18).   What is meant by “out of that which is before the Kohahim”?
The Ralbag suggests that the reference is to the Torah Scroll described in Parshat Vayelech (Devarim 31:9).  There we are told that Moshe wrote a Torah scroll, and gave it to the Kohanim and to the Elders of Israel (= Sanhedrin).  Further on (Devarim 31:26), instructions are given to place this Torah with the Ark (ארון) in the Tabernacle.  Evidently, this Torah was the authoritative copy, referred to in rabbinic literature as the “sefer ha-azarah“, “the book of the Temple courtyard” (see Keilim 15: 6; Rashi Bava Bathra 14b s.v. ספר עזרה).  When the king writes a “royal” Sefer Torah, it is proofread against the authoritative copy which was “before the Kohanim” (Devarim 17:18), namely the Torah presented to the Kohanim and the Sanhedrin (= the elders of Israel).  Accordingly, Yerushalmi (Sanhedrin 2:6) states: The King proofreads his Torah against the Temple copy under the authority of the Sanhedrin of seventy-one (Rambam, Hil. Sefer Torah 7:2, Hil. Melachim 3:1).
What is the purpose of this royal Sefer Torah?  The Torah (Devarim 17:19-20) immediately explains: “It shall be with him, and he shall read it all his life, so that he will learn to fear Hashem his G-d, to keep all the words of this Torah, and these statutes to do them. Lest his mind become arrogant over his fellow, and lest he veer from the commandments to the right or to the left“.  In the ancient polytheistic world, a monarch was often viewed as a deity, not only by his subjects but even by himself!  After all, was he not omnipotent and subservient to none, and hence an equal of the gods?
It does not take too much imagination to envisage where such an attitude can lead.  But the Torah’s monarch is different. From the start he must write a royal Torah scroll to impress upon himself that even as King, he is a subject of Hashem and bound by the Torah’s laws, just like all the Jews.  And he has to take this Torah scroll with him wherever he goes (Rambam, Hil. Sefer Torah 7:2, Hil. Melachim 3:1).  Just in case he has a memory lapse and starts to “lord it” over his subjects, they will point to the Torah he is carrying and remind him that he is mortal just like them.  And even when he is alone pondering matters of state, he will see the Torah that must be with him at all times, and remember his limitations.
Whether or not the Torah sees a monarchy as the ideal form of government (see Abravanel), it is clear that whatever form of government is leading the Jewish state, the head of the state must be informed by the humility, moderation,  and fear of G-d, demanded by the Torah of a monarch.  We hope and pray that one day, when the State of Israel finally elects a G-d fearing Jew to serve as Prime Minister, that Prime Minister will not allow power to go to his head, and will instead sanctify the name of Hashem as never before, by leading an entire nation to follow his example in serving Hashem.
Shabbat Shalom.

The Preparation: HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Shoftim 5774

Parashat Shoftim 5774
Rabbi Nachman Kahana
Elul, the last month of this year 5774, begins this week. Elul begins a period of introspection lasting through Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur and Shemini Atzeret, when we contemplate the deeds we performed or refrained from doing, in the passing year.
It is also a time to deliberate what the near or far future may or may not hold. Where are we heading as individuals? What might prevail in one’s region of the planet and the state of the world?
The following are some scenarios regarding what we might be experiencing in the near future, based on our holy Jewish sources.
The Great Amora Rava (Megila 17b) states that the codifiers of the Tefila (prayer) liturgy were aware through tradition that the final redemption of Am Yisrael will occur in a Shevi’it year (a 7-year cyclical Sabbatical year), hence the prayer for our final redemption is to be recited in the 7th of the 18 prayers which comprise the Amida.
The Gemara questions Rava’s statement by a Breita (Tanna’ic source) that states that in the period of our redemption, the Sabbatical year will be the scene of great wars; however, the actual redemption will occur in the year following the Sabbatical year, so the prayer for redemption should be recited in the 8th blessing not in the seventh?
Rava replied that the Breita is correct that the 7th year will witness huge international wars while the actual redemption of Am Yisrael will occur in the 8th year. However, since the advent of wars against the enemies of the Jewish people in the 7th year will signal the beginning of the Jewish redemption to be completed in the 8th year, the proper place for prayers for redemption is the 7th blessing of Amida.
This coming year – 5775, beginning on September 25, will be a Sabbatical year. If it will, in fact, be the Sabbatical year referred to by the Breita than we must prepare for a year of world-wide confrontation and conflagration. According to what we see today, the major possibilities for international conflicts are as follows:
1. Parts of Europe will be dragged into a frenzy of war by what is now occurring between Russia and Ukraine. Western Europe’s major cities will be looted, burned, pillaged and plundered by millions of Moslems whose minds have been forever poisoned to revere and emulate Mohammed, the arch murderer who taught his disciples to use “allah” as a weapon to subdue and suppress.
2. The winds of war will engulf Egypt, as they perceive the loss of the Nile waters to upstream countries. Egypt has always been an enemy of Israel, and it would not take much for it to join with the other Arab nations in a war against Israel.
3. The Christian nations of Africa will enter the fray against their Moslem neighbors, and the “green” continent will become the “red” continent with the spillover into Israel.
4. The United States which was borne through wanton murder of the indigenous “Indian” peoples, and began its ascent to economic success on the backs of black slaves, will have to answer to the god of history. The detonator which will explode that society will be “establishment” anti-Semitism transferred to the masses through the media and academia. Many Jews will soon struggle to leave the US for Israel, but will be barred from doing so by US authorities.
4. The US will re-enact the Selective Service (draft) Law reversing the trend set by Obama of turning tanks into food stamps for the blacks, into turning food stamps into tanks.
The draft will become necessary to protect America’s foreign interests, and to prepare for internal mass insurrection by tens of millions of indigents and Moslems who will be prepared to burn down the great cities of that country.
When the draft will be restored, it will rake into its net both men and women, religious and otherwise, yeshiva students along with Moslem campus agitators.
5. The UN will pass near unanimous resolutions aimed at eliminating the State of Israel. The United States will join with the majority, causing great consternation in every sensible human being. Some people here who are not totally dedicated to the Holy Land, and others who lack fundamental trust in HaShem will try to leave, but will not find a country willing to accept them.
6. The enormous military threats to the Medina will cause this nation to return to HaShem in teshuva. The military will have a greater voice in day-to-day decisions of State, and the military will be led by God-fearing men.
7. China will attempt to extend its hegemony over vast areas of the Pacific, coming into conflict with the US Navy’s powerful fleet.
8. Iran will play a major military role, even to the degree of endangering the world order. The Zohar (end of Parashat Va’ai’ra in Shemot) states that Yishmael will provoke three wars: one on the ocean, one on land and the third near Yerushalayim – and Yishmael will be destroyed.
9. The Gemara (last chapter of Sanhedrin) reveals some tell-tale signs of the coming of the Mashiach. It will be a time when every nation will be in dispute with its neighbors; the oceans will become depleted of fish, we will be beset with worries and fears.
10. All the above vectors will at some point coalesce into one united force against the Jewish nation in Eretz Yisrael. At that point our Father-in-Heaven will save His children Yisrael in the most astonishing, unanticipated, electrifying ways, defying all human imagination.
None of the above are figments of my imagination. They are all recorded or alluded to within the Talmud and Midrashim.
If indeed this coming Sabbatical year is the one which our rabbis knew will precede the year of our redemption, then every thinking Jew should begin preparing for the initial period of trials and tribulations to be followed by miracles never before seen or spoken of.
“Preparation” means to come under HaShem’s protective wing in Eretz Yisrael, and performing acts of teshuva to become worthy of being among those who will merit to see the destruction of evil in the world and the fulfillment of our prophets’ holy words.
Yishayahu’s prophecy in last week’s haftara (54,17):
כל כלי יוצר עליך לא יצלח וכל לשון תקום אתך למשפט תרשיעי זאת נחלת עבדי ה’ וצדקתם מאתי נאם ה
Every weapon forged against you will not prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication before Me
And in the haftara of this week’s parsha – Shoftim (52,10)
חשף ה’ את זרוע קדשו לעיני כל הגוים וראו כל אפסי ארץ את ישועת א-להינו
The Lord will lay bare his holy arm (to punish the wicked) in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.
Shabbat Shalom,
Nachman Kahana
Copyright © 5774/2014 Nachman Kahana

The "Anti" Legislator

By Rabbi Yisrael Rosen
Dean of the Zomet Institute
"Words of Controversy at Your Gates" [Devarim 17:8]
A Legislative "Blitz"
The head "educational" MK from "The Movement" Party, Eliezer Stern (who in the past was the Education Chief of the IDF), strikes again: "Hesder Yeshiva students should be conscripted into the IDF for three weeks in the summer, during the 'vacation time' between the Ninth of Av and Rosh Chodesh Elul." The former general fires away in all directions, but his aim is always pointed at those who are (evidently) the "objects of his hatred," all of the accepted institutions of religious Zionism. The "knitted kippa" MK, whose entrance fee for becoming part of the Movement seems to have been based on a continuing "controversy with religious Zionism," wears out his brain with a daily key question: "What can I do to teach a lesson to religious Zionism, including its rabbis and leaders?" And the energetic MK has an ultimate weapon at his disposal: a multitude of proposed educational laws in the realms of religion and the state, the state and religion, Judaism and society, society and Judaism, and anything remotely connected to such subjects.
In spite of the fact that hundreds and thousands of the Hesder yeshiva students are serving on the frontlines and in units that participate in the fighting and that provide logistical support, the frantic MK has turned to the Minister of Defense and the IDF Chief of Staff to demand that they draft into Operation Protective Edge all the reserve Hesder soldiers who have not yet been called up. He has an ongoing war with the Hesder yeshivot, and here is yet another opportunity for him to gain some points in his efforts to irritate them. The general's personal weapons are always ready: He can propose a new law! And we have already been told that he is evidently preparing a law to draft the Hesder soldiers for the next round of fighting.
The MK's favorite "baby" is the "Conversion Law." In spite of the heated operation going on in the south, the general is showing stark dedication to the cause and he does not relent in his efforts to promote the controversial law (or an equivalent government decision), now that it has passed its first reading in the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee of the Knesset. Even though he knows very well that the law will not increase the number of conversions in Israel if the Chief Rabbinate is opposed (which it is), he has nevertheless played a precious and desirable card: He has managed a legal operation which can weaken the power of the Chief Rabbinate and the existing religious Zionist system of conversion. Those who are in the know about constitutional and legal matters claim that what lies behind this proposal which seems so innocuous is a sophisticated operational objective: to open the conversion process to Reform and Conservative rabbis...
The "Operation Legislator" Program
Well, by methods which we cannot reveal here, we have received a list of laws soon to be proposed by this energetic MK. I cannot guarantee that all the laws will appear in the public realm soon, but we can assume that these ideas and other similar ones are waiting in the pipelines for the "right" opportunity. To tell the truth, I do not understand them all, and we might even agree to some of them, but the important thing is to get the overall picture. The goal is not merely anti-religious legislation but to penetrate deep into the entire realm of the traditions of Yisrael throughout all past generations.
(1) The Law of the Silent Mikveh Attendants: An attendant will be forbidden to ask the women who come to the mikveh anything, or to talk to them at all. Preference in hiring attendants will be given to women who are dumb or who have a speech impediment, or to women who do not speak Hebrew. Here is what is written in the justification for the law: "Some of those who come to immerse are single, and some even wear makeup, and so on."
(2) Shemitta Leftovers Sanitation Law: Every public institution will be prohibited from throwing the remains of any food into a "Shemitta garbage can." As is explained in the justification for the law, this is related to: ecology, sanitation, economics, sociology, and chareidization.
(3) Electrical Equipment Law: (also known as the Refrigerator Law) – It will be forbidden for a salesmen to show equipment with a special setup for Shabbat unless this is directly requested by the customer. As is explained, this is related to "personal rights."
(4) Daily Times Law: (In professional slang, this is known as the Rabeinu Tam and Magen Avraham Law) – This law prohibits publishing in calendars or otherwise publicizing the times of sunrise and sunset according to stringent opinions without also noting the more lenient times. From the explanation of the law: "We sense a trend of religious fanaticism and a search for exilic stringency."
(5) The Kitniot Law: In a "mixed" couple, both Ashkenazi and Sephardi (no matter which is which), "kitniot" (legumes) must be eaten on Pesach. As is noted, "It is unthinkable that the halacha or customs should be allowed to interfere with the behavior of modern Israeli society."
(6) The Women's Kiddush Law: This will require that in any weekly gathering where the Kiddush is recited a woman will perform the service every second week. As is noted in the reasons for the law, "Any comment is superfluous."
(7) The Mi Shebeirah Law: Every congregation that has at least twenty-five members, men and women, must recite the "Mi Shebeirach" prayer for the good of the IDF soldiers every Shabbat. Failure to comply will incur personal criminal responsibility and financial sanctions on the rabbi, the head of the community, the head gabbai, and the chazzan.
(8) The Wedding Loudspeaker Law: At any wedding where there is a loudspeaker system for the band, a choir, or the rabbi's sermon, the system must be used during the wedding ceremony and not turned off. From the justification for the law: "Radical elements have recently begun to turn off the amplifier out of a fear that the groom will hear the blessings recited by the rabbi both live and through the loudspeaker. Such stringency stems from a lack of enlightenment, and the only way to uproot it is through strong legislative action, together with strict enforcement.
Other proposals are being considered, but we have run out of room. (To be continued...)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When Emunah is not Enough

By Shmuel Sackett

The big word on the streets these days is “Emunah”. Best selling books such as “The Garden of Emunah” can be found everywhere and shiurim on this important subject are given daily. I am a big fan of Emunah and it guides my every move but talking all day about Emunah tends to take away from what is REALLY needed which is: “The Garden of ACTION”. This is the difference between “believing” what will happen versus “making” it happen. Allow me to offer this as your personal Rosh Ha’Shanah goal (otherwise known as the Jewish New Year’s resolution): Make 5745 a year which you don’t only believe and trust in Hashem but a year where you turn those beliefs and goals into positive actions! Make it happen people… and make it happen NOW!!!
Do you believe that Jews belong in Israel?
Do you believe that after 2,000 years of being in the exile, Hashem has returned us to our land?
If this is your belief, then take the actions necessary to open the present given to you by Hashem. Don’t just look at the box with that fancy gift-wrapping paper – OPEN IT!! Take a look at what your Father and King has given you… yes YOU!! He gave this present to YOU – a member of His chosen people.
If you think I’m kidding, please think otherwise and start paying attention to what is being read in shul.
From last week’s Torah reading – Parshas Re’eh (14:2) “For you are a holy people to Hashem, your G-d, and Hashem has chosen YOU for Himself to be a treasured people, from among all the people on the face of the earth.”
Do you realize what that means? Billions of people out there in the world from across the globe and Hashem chose the small, tiny Jewish nation to be His personal people. What an amazing honor, privilege and responsibility! We belong to Hashem… exclusively! Wow!!
And what about what we just read a few days ago in Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh? We said the following, “Because You chose the nation of Israel from among all
the nations of the world…”
If you davenned Mussaf, you said these words and even if you didn’t, I know you believe them but here’s my question:
While you believe it, do you LIVE it?
By “living it”, I really mean; do you ACT UPON IT?
Both the Torah and the Tefila says that we are the chosen people which means that Hashem has great plans for us, far above the other nations of the world.
This is the time to turn that belief into serious action.
Therefore, stop saying empty phrases like, “Next year in Jerusalem” and start acting upon it!
Stop singing about Moshiach and start figuring out how to pick him up at the airport!
And most importantly of all, stop just believing as a Jew and start living as one!
Let me explain what that means. I meet people who tell me that they wished they lived in Israel. I must admit that I don’t understand that statement. What does it mean “you wish”?? Go and do it! People who wanted to be doctors didn’t “wish” all day long! They went to university, got good grades then entered medical school where they slaved for years. After that came the boards and internship and residency. Nobody was just “wishing” – they were working hard at turning their dreams into realities. The same thing with life in Israel. Unlike the “The Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy simply clicked her heels and went back to Kansas, life in Israel requires hard work. It can be done – but only if you realize that belief and Emunah are not enough. Life in Israel is what is necessary to live as a complete and total Jew and Hashem would never ask us to do something that was impossible.
Therefore, after you finish reading “Garden of Emunah” start planting your own garden that takes those ideas and teachings and turns them into serious actions. Remember what our fathers and mothers said before receiving the Torah: “Na’ah’seh ve’Nish’mah” – We will DO and we will listen… the “DOING” came first!! Follow their example and make 5775 a year of Jewish action for you and your entire family!

Make Gaza the Israeli Riviera of the Middle East

By Moshe Feiglin

The collapse of support for PM Netanyahu (from 82% during the ground incursion in Gaza to 38% today) was to be expected. The job of every state and head of state is to provide his/her citizens with security. If the security of the citizens is compromised, the leadership loses support.
All those disappointed people, however, must understand the dynamics of their worsening security situation. If you would ask them if they believe that there is no choice but for Israel to annex Gaza and turn it into an Israeli city, like Jaffa, most would look at you as if you were hallucinating. So although there is definitely a problem with our leadership, the public is looking in the wrong place for a solution.
Since Oslo, most Israelis believe that the Oslo two-state solution will alleviate Israel’s security problems. But the Oslo mentality is the root of the problem. The public cannot expect Netanyahu to conjure up a solution from within this faulty consciousness.
I am completely opposed to an Israeli invasion of Gaza if it is only to retreat once again or to rule colonial-style over the Arab population. I am opposed to any temporary solution that will endanger our soldiers.
Israel must conquer Gaza and help its residents to emigrate. Their other option would be to live there with a solid Jewish majority. Gaza must become a thriving Israeli city – the Riviera of the Middle East – with modern tourism, high-tech and all the amenities of a modern city.  This is the only realistic solution.
There are 4 elements to my plan:
  1. Israel must recognize that this is our land, not theirs – Gaza included. No more talk of the Oslo two-state solution. One state for one People.
  2. The IDF must conquer Gaza according to all the Western military doctrines.
  3. Encourage and provide aid for Arab emigration. Instead of the nearly trillion shekels that Israel has invested to date in the Oslo two-state solution, we can invest in an emigration basket to allow the Gazans to relocate with financial security. Financially secure immigrants are welcomed in most countries.
  4. Encourage aliyah to Israel and Jewish settlement in Gaza. Within the next decade, we will be seeing 1.5 new Jewish immigrants to Israel. Our demographic situation is excellent. Encourage veteran Israelis and new immigrants to make their homes in Gaza and make it flourish.
This is the only pragmatic, realistic solution on the horizon. To accomplish it, we need leadership that believes that this is our Land.

Moshe Feiglin: The Key to Victory in Gaza and World Peace is on the Temple Mount

For English subtitles, click on the captions icon at the bottom of the YouTube screen.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Jerusalem Post: Likud MK Feiglin Proposes Paying Arabs to Leave Gaza

Israel should be paying Arab families $100,000 each to leave the Gaza Strip and move to a different country, Likud MK Moshe Feiglin proposed Monday in a controversial post on his personal Facebook page.

Feiglin suggested the idea as his own opinion and not that of his Likud party or the government that it leads. He has presented such ideas in the past and they have not been adopted by other politicians.
He renewed the call Monday following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s vow in Sunday’s cabinet meeting to compensate Jewish families from the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip who have left their homes.
“The cost of a bomb to destroy a building in Gaza costs Israel $80,000,” Feiglin wrote. “If Israel would give that money to the Gazan family living in the building in order to help them to emigrate, they would do so willingly.”
Feiglin called for destroying the Hamas, conquering Gaza, and turning it into a flourishing Jewish region. He noted that Gaza was a Jewish city during Biblical times.
“The Arabs living in Gaza will have two choices,” he wrote. “They could continue to perpetuate their refugee status in Gaza, as is the situation today, or take $100,000 to emigrate to a different country.”
In an interview. Feiglin cited a recent survey that found that Gazans would rather live in a different country. He noted that there are many countries with large populations of Arabs from the land of Israel, such as Chile.
“There are a few good countries who want to take them, they want to go, and they can leave with a nice amount of money in their pockets, not like the Jews were refugees from Arab countries in the 1950s,” he said.
Feiglin said it was ridiculous that instead of giving money to Arabs to live in “a better place,” Israel was bombing them while giving money to Jews to leave their homes.
The British Daily Mail newspaper caused a controversy three weeks ago when it headlined a similar proposal by Feiglin“Israeli official calls for concentration camps in Gaza.”
Feiglin did not use such a term and vigorously denied implying anything similar when he suggested creating tent encampments on the Sinai border.
“I said we should prevent them from being harmed,” he said. “They should have enough time to move to a protected area. I think the people of Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki would have loved to get an offer like that from the US and the Brits.”
Feiglin criticized Netanyahu for his policies on Gaza, which he finds too moderate.
“Of course he is going to let Hamas stay in power in Gaza,” he said. “He wants Hamas to stay in power, because he doesn’t want to control Gaza.”

Who will Emigrate? Us or Them?

By Moshe Feiglin

On Monday, MK Moshe Feiglin noted that PM Netanyahu did not accept his proposal for an emigration basket for the Arabs of Gaza. “Instead,” he said, “an emigration basket is now being put together for the Jews of the towns bordering on Gaza. 

Who knows? Maybe Tel-Avivians who tire of the rockets will also request government aid to migrate elsewhere. Why not?” 
“It is history’s Law of Connected Vessels,” Feiglin continued. “The question is not if people will be forced to emigrate. The question is simply who those people will be…”

Israel Must Abandon the Oslo Mentality and Reconnect to our Land

By Moshe Feiglin

A bomb to destroy a building in Gaza costs Israel $80,000. If Israel would give that money to the Gazan family living in the building in order to help them to emigrate, they would do so willingly. 
But first we must decide that this Land belongs to the Jewish Nation exclusively. Gaza is ours. We must conquer it, destroy the Hamas and turn it into a flourishing city.
The Arabs living in Gaza will have two choices: Continue to perpetuate their refugee status in Gaza, as is the situation today. Or take $100,000 to emigrate to a different country. 
This solution is not dependent on a third party. It is a Jewish solution, dependent only on Israeli resolve to shed the Oslo mentality and reconnect to our Land.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

OECD: Israel attracts Foreign Investors

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger

1. The Gaza War has demonstrated the impressive performance of the Iron Dome short-range missile defense system, the Trophy active defense system for tanks and armed personnel carriers, and additional Israeli-developed military systems. This is enhancing respect for Israel's defense and commercial high tech sector, and increasing interest in buying Israeli technology products and acquiring – and investing in – Israeli high tech companies. 
2. Israel is India's 4th largest supplier of military systems, following the US, Russia and France. India is the world's largest importer of military systems (Globes, August 14).
2. According to the OECD annual report, Israel is the 4th most attractive country for foreign direct investment(FDI) per Growth Domestic Product (GDP) – 4% of GDP, compared to 1.4% of foreign direct investment per GDP in developed countries and 1.6% in the top 16 economies. Luxembourg, Ireland and Chile are ahead of Israel. The scope of foreign direct investment demonstrates the level of confidence in the long term viability of economic growth (Globes Business Daily, August 20, 2014).
3. Israel's MobilEye raised $1.02bn on Wall Street (reflecting a $5.3bn market value), the highest ever Israeli public offering there: Cellcom - $400mn in 2007, Delek Logistics - $193mn in 2012, Alon USA - $188mn in 2005, Delek USA - $184mn in 2006, Alon USA Partners - $184mn in 2012, Ness Technologies - $161mn in 2004, BigBand - $160mn in 2007, Kite Pharma - $147mn in 2014 and Saifan - $135mn in 2005 (Globes, August 4).
Israel's BioBlast, MacroCure and VBL raised 435mn, $53mn and $65mn respectively on NASDAQ (Globes, August 1). 
4. The Swiss pharmaceutical giant, Novartis, has agreed to take a 15% stake in Israel's Gamida Cell (stem cell therapies) in a deal that could reach over $600mn.  Novartis will invest $35mn immediately, with a buyout option, pending a series of milestones in 2015 (Reuters, August 19).
America's 3D Systems acquired Israel's Simbionix for $120mn (Globes, August 1).
Sweden's Vostok NaftaLondon's Access Industries (Len Balvatnik) and other investors participated in a $150mn round by Israel's Get Taxi (Globes, August 14).
Yahoo made its 2nd Israeli acquisition in two months, purchasing ClarityRay for $15mn-$20mn.  Both acquisitions serve as Yahoo's research and development centers in Israel (Globes, August 18).

5.  Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan managed an $85mn round by Israel's IronSource (Globes, August 12). China's Catalyst CEL fund invests $42mn in Israel's Lamina Technologies. The Boston/Silicon Valley-based Bessemer Venture Partners and the Silicon Valley-based Accel Partners led a $30mn 3rd round by Israel's Fiverr (August 13).Russia's Trellas invested $30mn in Israel's VidMind (Globes, August 7). The San Francisco-based SR OneGSK Pharmaceuticals, the NYC-based Orbid Med fund and the Denmark-based Lundberk Pharmaceuticals invested $23mn in Israel's Atox Bio (Globes, July 25). Boston/Silicon Valley-based Battery Ventures and Silicon Valley-basedGreylock Partners participated in an $11mn 2nd round of private placement by Israel's Guardicore (Globes, August 20). General Electric led a $10mn round in Israel's ThetaRay (Globes, July 30).  Hong Kong's Horizon Ventures (Li Ka Shing) led, along with Blumberg Capital, a $6.5mn round of private placement in Israel's FeeX (Globes, August 22).
6.  Britain's BG signed a $30bn letter of intent for the acquisition of Israeli natural gas beginning in 2018 (Globes, June 30). 

In a Letter to PM Netanyahu, MK Moshe Feiglin Warns of Dangerous Escalation of Hamas Violence on the Temple Mount

To Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu:

Dear Sir,
Over the past number of days, the Hamas representatives on the Temple Mount have escalated their struggle against Jews who visit the site.
This escalation of violence includes the capture, pillaging and burning of the police station on the Mount, the waving of Hamas and ISIS flags and most serious of all, physical attacks against Jewish visitors, including women and children.
At the Knesset Interior Committee meeting on the 17 Av (August 13, ’14), I warned that the conduct of the Israeli police on the Temple Mount may bring about the murder of Jews on there. I demanded the distancing of the groups of Hamas provocateurs from the Mount, or at the very least to distance them from the Jewish groups who visit the Temple Mount.
At my last visit to the Temple Mount on 21 Av (August 18), the police proved that they are capable of preventing these groups from accessing the site and from coming near me and the group accompanying me. I do not understand why other Jewish visitors are discriminated against on the Mount and are abandoned by the police to abuse that is becoming more violent daily.
For years, Israel has been deceiving itself into thinking that it can manage the height of the flames on the Temple Mount without restoring its control there. What we are now experiencing in Gaza shows that this approach results in the complete opposite: Violence on the Mount is escalating and becoming a very real threat to Jewish life, while we are losing Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem in particular and the entire Land of Israel in general.
I warn you once again that the approach that does not allow the police to remove the Hamas representatives from the Temple Mount will cause a terrible tragedy, G-d forbid.
Jews are chased, humiliated and stricken on the Temple Mount just because they are Jews. All this takes place under the auspices of the Israeli Police, which accompanies the Jewish groups, allowing the Hamas rioters to run rampant practically freely. At the same time, the police are careful to arrest any Jew who dares move his lips – lest he pray, Heaven forefend. This policy will, tragically, lead to bloodshed. You and your government will not be able to wash your hands of the blood and claim innocence.
I warn once again that lack of decisive victory against the Hamas on the Temple Mount and every other place dangerously undermines Israel’s existence – even more than all the tunnels in the Gaza Strip. The sense of victory that we allow our enemies to feel in the heart of our capital fans the flames of their hope to defeat us – and encourages them and all their allies around the world to continue their efforts to destroy us.
I call upon you, Mr. Prime Minister of Israel, to return to yourself. Remember the words of the  poet of castigation and faith, Uri Tzvi Greenberg: “He who controls the Mount controls the Land”. Fulfill your duty to safeguard our Nation’s security and sovereignty in the heart of our capital and in the entire Land of Israel.
Moshe Feiglin

Temple Mount: No Wedding by Correspondence

By Moshe Feiglin
But for the place that Hashem your G-d will choose, of all your tribes, to put His Name there, and you shall seek out His Divine Presence and you shall come to there.” (Deuteronomy 12:5)
Time and again our Torah portion reminds us about the place of the Holy Temple, the place that G-d chose: The Temple Mount. “You shall seek out His Divine Presence,” says the Torah, “and you shall come to there.” We are obligated to ascend to the Temple Mount. For there is no such thing as a wedding by correspondence.
“I will be for you for a G-d and you shall be for me a Nation,” – from the Mount. From the place where everything connects: The Nation’s body and its divine soul; the physical and the metaphysical. The Mount is the source of life; it is there that Israel becomes a living Nation: The Nation of Israel, truly alive and fulfilling its universal destiny.
Until the Six Day War in 1967, when the Mount was captive in foreign hands, the loving couple – G-d and the Nation of Israel – was forced to make due with long-distance correspondence. We had to suffice ourselves with prayer and anticipation. We drew fortitude and safeguarded our identity from the Mount and our expectation to return to it. And then, we miraculously returned to our Land. But from the moment that our Father returned the Mount to our hands and we continue to write letters from afar instead of uniting with Him, we are essentially declaring that we are not interested in a wedding and establishing a family. We have forgotten our destiny and have fallen in love with letter-writing.
“He who controls the Mount controls the entire Land,” wrote the famous poet Uri Tzvi Greenberg. The Temple Mount is like the heart in the body. When we abandoned it to the Hamas, we abandoned ourselves to the terror organization. The spiritual foundation for the solution to Gaza is on the Temple Mount.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Do not Have a Bad Heart

By Rabbi Mordechai Greenberg
Rosh Yeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh
Many times the Torah tells us to give charity, but in this week's portion it adds a command that is related to the heart. "Give to him and your heart should not feel bad when you give to him" [Devarim 15:10]. This also appears in the halachic ruling. "When giving, one should do so in a pleasant way, with joy and a good heart... And if one gives it with an angry and bad look, the reward is lost." [TUR Yoreh Dei'ah 249]. In the Siddur of the ARI it is written that the main reward in the world to come is for joy while giving charity, even more than for the charity itself.
This is something that should be studied in some detail. How can a person conquer his natural selfish and miserly feelings and be happy and full of joy for the fact that he is required to give away his hard-earned wages?
Evidently the answer to this question can be found in last week's Torah portion. There we were told, "Lest you eat and are satiated, and you will build good houses and dwell in them... And you will say, My power and the strength of my hand gave me all of this wealth. Rather, you should remember that your G-d is the one who gives you the strength to become wealthy." [Devarim 8:12,17-18]. The RAN writes in his tenth sermon that there are indeed some people who have great powers and unique traits, such as an understanding of wisdom, or the skill of amassing many possessions and becoming wealthy – such that it may really be true that their wealth stems from their own talents. However, even such a person must remember who gave him the power to become rich. The RAN emphasizes that it is not written, "He gave you the wealth." Certainly the man gathered the wealth, but we must always remember who gave us the strength to become wealthy.
Understanding this principle, that G-d gives us the strength to gather possessions, means that when a person gives charity he is not giving away something that belongs to him because he has pity on the poor person, but that his role can be compared to that of a treasurer who has been assigned the task of distributing money in the name of the Holy One, Blessed be He. Here is what David said when he finished collecting the funds for building the Temple: "The wealth and the glory come from You... And who am I and who are Your people that we have the strength to contribute so much? However, everything is Yours, and we have given it to You from Your own hand." [Divrei Hayamim I 29:12,14]. This can be compared to a child who asks his mother for money in order to buy her a birthday present. It is written, "Give Him from what is His, because you and your possessions all belong to Him" [Avot 3:7]. And, in Midrash Shmuel, "Many people were created to serve as nothing more than utensils and hands for the Holy One, Blessed be He."
Based on this, the "Lover of Yisrael" wrote that this explains the meaning of the verse, "Give to him and your heart should not feel bad... for because of this fact G-d will bless you." It does not mean that you will be blessed in the future because you perform the mitzva of charity, rather it refers to the past. "That is why you were blessed with more wealth than you need for yourself... He decreed that the deposit would be in your hands."
In this way, Rav Kook explained the halacha of pei'ah, leaving a portion of grain in the field to be collected by poor people. The owner is not allowed to distribute the gift, and the poor people must come into the field and gather it themselves. In this way the gift will take on an aspect of justice, and the poor man "will – as it were – be taking what is rightfully his, not in a fashion of kindness and pity."
When one gives charity out of a feeling of performing a mission, the act is one of joy and happiness.