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Sunday, December 2, 2007

All We Need is Love


After reading my blog entries so far, you must all be convinced that I hate all Muslims. This is just not the case.

There is a story about a Medieval Rabbi, Rabbi Shmuel Hanagid, who was an adviser to the Sultan. One day, while Rabbi Shmuel was walking with the Sultan, a man started cursing Rabbi Shmuel. The Sultan was outraged. He commanded Rabbi Shmuel to cut out the man's tongue.

Rabbi Shmuel couldn't cut out the man's tongue. So he thought about what he could do to change the man's mind about him. He sent him some gifts.

The next time Rabbi Shmuel was out walking with the Sultan, the man again started shouting at Rabbi Shmuel, only this time he was praising Rabbi Shmuel. The Sultan turned to him and asked, "didn't I command you to cut out that man's tongue?" Rabbi Shmuel answered him, "I did as you asked, your majesty, I cut out his cursing tongue and replaced it with a praising tongue."

I wish we could take all the people who hate Jews and hate Israel and "cut out" their cursing tongues and replace them with praising tongues. But, unfortunately, giving gifts to these people doesn't change their opinion of us for the better. It only convinces them that we are morally weak and that G-d is on their side.

There are Muslims (and former Muslims) out there who support Israel and fight the Islamofascist. Unfortunately, there aren't enough of them yet. I say yet because I see more and more people joining this group. I hear stories of people who knew even when they were young and being taught to hate Jews and Israel knew this was not right. This gives me hope for the future.

Jews say hello and good-bye with the word Shalom which means peace. We crave peace. We desire peace. We fight for peace (as oxymoronic as that sounds). Every day, at least 3 times a day, we pray for peace in the Amida and in every Whole Kaddish or Mourner's Kaddish (said many times throughout the prayer services daily), we say Oseh Shalom BiM'Romav, Hu Ya'aseh Shalom Aleinu -- may the One who makes peace on high make peace upon all of us. If we could have peace by giving gifts to our enemies, we would.

But, unfortunately, it's not that easy. We are dealing with people who are using Israel and Jews as a scapegoat. The leaders want their people to think that Israel and the Jews are the problem when in reality, it is their leaders who are causing all the horrors in their lives. It is their leaders who are keeping the money that the US, Europe and Israel (yes, Israel) are giving them for themselves rather than using that money to help the people. Instead of building schools and parks and hospitals and an infrastructure, they are using the money to build bombs and train terror murderers and spread lies about Israel. What a shame for the world that so many people are falling for those lies. And what a shame for the free world that they are giving in so easily to the enemies of liberty.

Happy Hanuka everyone. May the light of Hanuka spread to the hearts of our enemies and turn them into friends.

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According to my on-line Webster's dictionary, Racism means:

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

The same dictionary defines race as:
a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits

Recently, someone called a Yeshiva (a Jewish religious school) "racist" because they didn't want to admit students who weren't Jewish.

I guess the people who did this didn't know what "racist" means or that a policy of a Yeshiva to not admit non-Jewish students didn't mean it wasn't admitting African American or Eastern Asian or even Native American people. Or perhaps these people were being racist to assume that all Jews are Caucasian. As a matter of fact, at my synagogue this morning, I saw people whom I know who are in at least 2 of those three previous categories.

So why was this school accused of racism? I don't know. It makes almost as much sense as calling Israel "racist". If you were to walk through the streets of Israel, you would see people from every race. Israel has admitted people from just about every country in the world, Jews and Gentiles. Israel makes no distinction when it comes to admitting people. (A list of the groups of people who have made Israel their home would include Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Baha'i -- it would also include Ethiopian Jews and Gentiles, Vietnamese Boat People and Black Hebrews.)

Catholic schools (or other religious schools) would, by contrast, not have an issue with admitting Jewish students. This is because they see their school as a way to convert others to their religious beliefs. Since we as Jews aren't trying to convert others, we see Gentile students in our school as "people who are trying to convert our children to their religion" and this is something we are trying to avoid by sending our children to Yeshivot (plural of Yeshiva).

I have noticed that people, especially people who hate, have a tendency to accuse others of doing what they do, for example, if you are a liar, you think everyone is a liar. There was a basketball player who a few years back made a nasty comment about Jews, accusing us of trying to convert everyone to Judaism! I'm sure that any of you who either are converts to Judaism, have friends (or relatives) who are converts or are in the process of converting would have a major chuckle about that. The ironies of this statement are many, but the two most glaring ironies are:

1) Jews not only don't encourage people to convert to Judaism, we try to discourage them -- we know it's harder to be Jewish and we don't want someone to go from being a good Gentile (who is responsible for the 7 Noahide laws) to being a no-so-good Jew (who is responsible for 613 laws, including keeping kosher, keeping Shabbat and keeping the family purity laws, none of which are required of Gentiles). This, in our world view, is not good for a person's souls and we don't want to adversely affect a person's soul.

2) Over the Centuries, people of other religions have tried to convert us to their religions. This includes the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Roman pagans, the Roman Christians, Muslims, the Catholic Church, the Spanish Inquisition, Martin Luther, Jews for J***s and other fundamentalist Christians nowadays. This list is by no means complete, just a quick overview. Many of the groups on that list used coercion including convert of die! strategies (and many Jews did die rather than convert).

It is the same logic (or lack thereof) that leads people to call Jews (and, by extension, Israel) "racist". They are just reflecting their own prejudices and presuming that we hold these prejudices too.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Which witch is which?


It says in Shmot (Exodus) "Mahashefa al tikhye" -- a witch will not live. I think it's interesting that despite this admonition, and the general negative feelings about witches in the Tanakh (Jewish bible), it is fictional stories about witches that most show Torah ethics for the late 20th Century/early 21st Century generations.

The popular ideology of late states that there is no such thing as good and evil -- it is all relative. There is a strong "ethic" (if I can use that word for it) pushing moral relativism. "Moral Relativism" basically holds that there is no "good" or "evil", everything is relative and must be taken within the context of the setting or the society it happens in.

The Tora and people of strong moral fiber know this is not the case. There are absolutes of "good" and "evil". Murder is evil, this is why it is called "murder" and not "killing". "Killing" can be justified; "Murder" cannot. This is why the Tora says "you shall not murder" not, despite multiple inaccurate translations, "you shall not kill".

As I mentioned in a previous entry in this blog, J.K. Rowling, in her Harry Potter series, makes it quite clear that there is morality, there is a system of "good" and "evil" and there are absolutes of each. Lord Voldemort is evil, not because of who he is or what his standing the in the community is. He is evil because he chooses to kill and destroy and subjugate others.

Perhaps not as popular as the Harry Potter series, but equally moral in its message, is the television program "Charmed". "Charmed" is about three sisters who are witches. They use their powers to demons and warlocks (the powers of evil). They make no bones about their mission in this world -- they are here to fight evil. Throughout the years this series was in first run (it is currently shown in reruns) the sisters "vanquished" (which, basically, means killed) demons and other evil beings. These demons were looking for power and would kill anyone who got in their way (or people who could give them power).

What I loved about "Charmed" was that they were unapologetic about the sisters' work. The program didn't get wishy-washy. Even when it seemed counter-intuitive, they fought evil.

And that is what we need to do. We need to realize that there is only one way to defeat evil -- we need to destroy evil. As long as evil is out there, we are in danger. Both "Charmed" and "Harry Potter" ended their series with good triumphing over evil and a look into the future -- a future without evil.

This said to me that the fight, no matter how horrible it is, is worth the effort. It is worthwhile to do whatever necessary to destroy evil and return Good in the essential sense. It is the Platonic Good, the ideal Good, the quintessential Good. And, after all, isn't that what we all want?

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Peace Demonstration


I heard after Shabbat yesterday that there was a peace demonstration in Israel. I found this rather amusing, mostly in the ironic sense. It kind of struck me as amusing in the same way it would strike me as amusing for a child to throw a tantrum until there was snow on the ground. The government of Israel can't make peace any more than the child's parents can make it snow.

There's a saying (I'm not sure who originated it, but it is so true): "If the Arabs put down their guns tomorrow, there would be no conflict. If the Israelis put down their guns tomorrow, there would be no Israel." This isn't just a bit of doggerel -- it's very, very true.

The roots of this "conflict" are in the corrupt demagogues who rule the area and the rabid anti-Jewish feelings the pervade the earth. Because there are only about 15 million Jews in a world of six and a half billion people (with most of the Jews concentrated in the US -- mostly the Northeast, Florida and California -- and Israel -- Only 5 countries have Jewish populations greater than 1% of their population and in no countries do Jews make up more than 2.5% of the population), most people in the world have never met a single Jew in their entire lives. They depend on the media for their view of the Jews and Israel (mind you, the entire population of Israel is barely over 7 million with Jews making up less than 5.5 million).

It is amazing that so many people see the Jews (who make up about .2% of the world's population) and Israel (which is populated by barely over .1% of the world's population in an area that is less than .15% of the world's land mass*) as the central "problem" of the world.

But this world view stems from the inability (or unwillingness) of the leaders of the surrounding countries to give their people a reasonable standard of living. The leaders of most of the countries in the Middle East are corrupt and self-centered. They need to get the minds of their people away from blaming them for their poverty and their harsh lives. Toward this end, they give the people something and someone to hate, a scapegoat to direct all their vitriol toward. That something is Israel and those someones are the Jews.

If the people in the countries that surround Israel were ever to ween themselves from the constant nursing at the breast of hatred they might actually notice that the people in Israel have the highest standard of living in the Middle East. They would notice that in Israel, all are welcome (whereas the rest of the Middle East, for all intents and purposes, is Judenrein[free of Jews] and relatively free of Christians and other non-Muslims), in Israel we agree to disagree without killing our detractors, in Israel women are not treated like chattel. And their leaders are afraid of this. So, in order to keep their people "in place", they feed them a consistent diet of hatred.

Despite this unvarying diet of animosity, there are people who are realizing that Israel is the solution not the problem. There are Muslims and former Muslims (like Salmon Rushdie, Irshad Manji, Nonie Darwish and others) and non-Muslims who grew up in Muslim countries or spent a lot of time around Muslims (like Brigitte Gabriel, Joseph Farrah and the late Oriana Fallaci) who are raising their voices and working hard to bring true peace to the world.

It is unfortunate that it will probably take war to reach that true peace because it will only be through war that we will be able to show the majority of Muslims that their lives don't have to be horrible. We need to be in a position to show these people that Islam can be a religion of peace and that everyone prospers when we all live in peace. But as long as these countries are governed by unscrupulous men who don't have their people's best interests at heart there can never be true peace.

* These percentages mean that there are about 2 Jews for every 1000 people in the world and 1 Israeli for every 1000 non-Israelis and that Israel has 1 1/2 square kilometers for every 1000 square miles in the world. By way of comparison, there are 50 Americans per 1000 people in the world, about 323 Christians per 1000 people and about almost 170 Muslims per 1000 people on earth.

Thursday, November 22, 2007




Police in New York arming burglers and theives in hopes that they will fight with (and kill) all the murderers and rapists on the streets.


Mexico starts bombing Southern Texas, killing people, including children, and putting the people in Southern Texas in fear of their lives. Mexico claims they are doing this because the US took Texas in an illegal war.


Young Canadian men and women strap bombs to their bodies and detonate them in the middle of crowded US places like Grand Central Station in New York, a McDonald's in Chicago, and an Atlanta Braves games. They are protesting, we are told, the US "annexation" of the states of Oregon and Washington.

How long do you think the US government would stand for these things?

So why is Israel expected to give guns to the terrorist Fatah organization? Why is Israel expected to give land (NOT, mind you, give BACK, since it never belonged to the Palestinians in the first place) to their enemies who will use the land to bomb Israel, like they are using the land formerly known as Gush Katif. Why is Israel expected to open its land up to people who are trying to kill Israel's people, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Baha'i, Hindu, Zoroastrian and just about every religion on the planet, with homicide bombs?

Israel is held to a different standard from all the other countries in the world. For some reason, the world feels the need to allow Israel's enemies to do whatever they want. They feel the need to kowtow to the Islamofascists and criticize Israel for everything Israel does (and even fabricate lies to add to the criticism while ignoring example after example of Palestinian horror).

I can't really understand this. Why do people think that if they allow the Islamofascists free reign the Islamofascists will leave them alone?

At the New England Holocaust Memorial is a poem (attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)):

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

The people of the world need to realize that just as the Islamofascists have subjugated the people of Afghanistan, Iran, and are working on subjugating the people of France, Italy, Scandinavia, Holland and many other countries in Europe, just as the people of India know, and many people in Israel and the US know, the Islamofascist will not stop with Israel! They are intent on turning the world into one gigantic Sharia government. And unless we stop them, unless we stand up to them, unless we fight them with everything we have, that's just what they are going to do.

People who value freedom and liberty need to fight and need to vote in leaders who know the importance of the fight. After 9/11, so many people knew what had to be done. Why have they forgotten in the space of 6 years? Nothing has changed except the urgency of the fight and the urgency of the victory.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Why Do the PMs all have Major Brain Leak?


I'm trying to figure out why the people in the Prime Minister's position in Israel are so stupid. Maybe I'm missing something. But I can't understand it.

The first time I was in Israel, Shimon Peres was PM and he spoke to the people in my program. I was overwhelmed with one feeling about him as he spoke -- what a total jerk he was. I know many politicians aren't quite Rhodes Scholars, but Peres really struck me as being totally full of himself, totally unconcerned about anything outside himself, and just totally empty of basic knowledge.

Now when I say "basic knowledge", I mean things like basic history. For example, they don't seem to know, or tend to forget, about another terrorist (who was palsy-walsy with The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem) who decided that the "final solution" to the "Jewish problem" was to "liquidate" all the Jews. I wonder if Peres, Sharon and Olmert would have given Hitler all he wanted. I'm kind of glad they weren't around during the pre-WWII (and early WWII) era or we all might not be here period.

But we don't even have to go back to WWII to see the folly of giving land to the Palestinian Authority. All we have to do is go back a couple of years to the time when the Israeli government handed over Gush Katif on a silver platter. There were no concessions made by the PA for this. The good people of Gush Katif, who bravely acted as a buffer zone between Palestinian missiles and the rest of the Israeli population while turning the dessert of Gaza into a short-lived paradise, were unceremoniously removed from their homes, homes the Israeli government had encouraged them to build. Many of these people are still living as refugees, paying mortgages on homes that don't even exist anymore.

And how did the PA repay us for such an altruistic, one-sided show of magnanimity? They rewarded us by turning our former paradise into a war zone, a place from which to lob bombs as a premium for our largess.

So why, pray tell, are the leaders of the free world encouraging Olmert to make the same mistake again? Why is the world so quick to repeat the mistakes of Gaza, of Oslo, of Munich? Haven't we yet learned that evil people will never be satisfied with our beneficence? Why must we repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again ad nauseum (and until the literal end of the world, at the rate we are going)? Why can't we find leaders who are intelligent enough to understand that the PA is only one part of the Islamofascist puzzle. Al Qaida, the PA, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Aksa, Fatah -- all are different names of tentacles of the evil octopus. And our world won't be safe until the entire monster is destroyed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Vietnam and My Generation


I grew up in the Vietnam era. By the time I was old enough to know, most of us knew that the war in Vietnam was a huge mistake. We had seen the footage on TV. We heard about the massacres of civilians. Our side, we thought, had never massacred civilians before. We learned about all the terrible things that were happening and we protested. We protested with rallies, we protested with letters to the editor or articles, we protested with songs. And the more we protested, the more we felt that war was just not the best way to resolve any issue.

As a matter of fact, in my opinion, the Vietnam War and its predecessor, the Korean War, did a lot to damage the heroic image of the military in the US.

World War II was the classic war of Good vs. Evil. Hitler epitomized the evil in this world and, while his partners in war (Mussolini of Italy and Tojo of Japan) weren't quite as evil as he was, the US and its allies had right on their side to the extent that they were fighting this evil. And after WWII, people saw war as a way to deal with evil, a way to fight the enemies of righteousness, liberty and freedom.

Unfortunately, most of the people who are around today didn't live through WWII. Most of the information we have about war is from M*A*S*H, the very popular TV show (from a movie that came from a book) about doctors in the Korean War. Though the program took place during the Korean War, we all knew in out heart of hearts that they were really talking about the Vietnam War.

And that left us with a bad impression of war. Part of that impression is well-deserved. War, after all, is fought by young men (and women), people who have their whole lives ahead of them unless their lives are cut tragically short. War causes destruction of lives and of property leaving many people dead and many more homeless and mourning dead relatives.

But there are times when war is necessary. And, because of the bad taste Vietnam and Korea left in our collective mouths, and on our collective psyches, people have a hard time understanding this. They have a hard time understanding that, had Israel lost any of the wars it has been involved in, from the 1948 War of Independence, to the 1956 Sinai Campaign, the 6 Day War of 1967, the 1973 Yom Kippur War and on and on to the recent Lebanon War, Israel would have ceased to exist.

So Israel is condemned for defending itself. But that's not the only issue with war in the recent past. The US and Israel both need to fight to survive. We need to fight evil in every form.

But because we in the US fought an unfortunate war that lasted for over 10 years and was broadcast into our living rooms in every gory detail, people still think, as Benjamin Franklin said, that there's never been a good war or a bad peace. But I disagree with both ends of that statement. WWII was a good war. What we have now with terrorists and Islamofascists is a bad peace.

And, so, we need to see that Vietnam is not the only face of war. We need to realize that in some cases, war is the only answer. We cannot afford to allow our distaste of war to cloud our judgment. We need to be strong and show the enemies of freedom that they can't get away with threatening our lives and our way of life. We need to be the Supermen and fight for Truth, Justice and the American Way. And we need to do it now.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Evolution, Revolution


I am currently reading a book about the Darwin awards. These awards are given to people who, by their own stupidity, take themselves out of the gene pool. It's a generally enjoyable and informative book that is easy to read in the facilities. But I got to a segment this morning that really bothered me. The authors of this book decided to use this chapter as a platform to make fun of people who don't treat the theory of evolution as "halakhat Tora mi'sinai" (the law of the Tora given "on high" to Moses on Mount Sinai).

I'm as scientific as the next person (Math and Science were my best subjects in school -- with history a close third), but I have a problem with people acting as though evolution (a theory, remember?) is definitely true and the Tora is definitely false (they then act, by extension, as though anyone who believes in G-d or follows any religion is a fool).

Granted, most of the people who are acting this way have only been exposed to the Christian version of the creation story and the fundamentalist interpretation (which is that the Tora version is totally literal).

I have to admit that I wasn't there when the world came into being, but, then again, neither were any of the scientists who bow down at the altar of evolution. So my version of what happened is no less valid than their version. (Keep in mind, science thinkers, our knowledge of science is far from complete -- much of what we "knew" just 50 years ago has been debunked or replaced. How do you know we won't find something in the next 50 years that will make people who swallowed the "evolution" theory whole look like fools?)

This is my version, more or less. G-d created the world. Over time (which was short for G-d but long for us) G-d created the stars and the planets, the nebulae and the galaxies, the sun and the stars and the moons. Then (S)He turned to Earth and began creating life on earth. G-d started with plant life (because that would be food for animal life and it makes sense to put the food on the table before you invite the guests). Then G-d moved on to the animal life, the lower animals, creepy crawlies and water life, then reptiles (in there, at some point, was the age of the dinosaurs), then birds, then mammals and then people. When G-d wrote the Tora to describe all this, (S)He used time terms that people could comprehend, using the model of a week, so that (S)He could give people a forced rest on the 7th day by saying "even G-d rested on the 7th day". This, of course, is metaphorical. G-d doesn't need to rest (and, for all intents and purposes, can't since G-d is the One who runs the show, so to speak.)

Now, I have to tell you. I don't label people who don't believe this version "fools" or "heretics". Nobody who is alive today was there then, so no one knows for sure. I believe that G-d wrote the Tora, so I believe that every word in the Tora is true. But I also know that the Tora is made up of two parts -- the written and the oral Tora. Without the Oral Tora, the written Tora doesn't make sense. It's as though you read your roommates notes to a lecture class -- you really don't understand the notes without the lecture.

My point in all this is why do people feel that it's either one or the other? Why do people think they have to reject one story for the other? I suppose this comes down to the fundamentalist way of looking at the "bible". There are people out there who believe the "bible" is meant to be taken literally (something that is nearly impossible to do, IMHO). The strangest part of this is that they believe that it is meant to be taken literally as it is translated, into English, in the King James version! That is, not only is it meant to be taken literally, but it's meant to be taken literally in a language it wasn't even written in!

Hebrew is a very rich language, with nuances of meaning that just can't be captured in a translation. For example, it says that the Children of Israel came out of Egypt "Hamushim". The commentaries come up with at least two meanings for this word -- armed, or 1/5 (from the same root as Hamesh, which means 5, Hamsa, which is supposed to represent the hand of G-d, and Humash, the Hebrew word for the 5 books of Moses). Another example is the Hebrew word "Et". "Et" is a preposition that really has no meaning in English (or any other language I've been exposed to except Hebrew). I can't come up with a translation for it, but I know when I'm writing or speaking where it belongs in a sentence. In the Tora, there are usually additional meanings gleaned from the word "Et" -- as in the commandment "Kabeid Et Aviha V'Et Imeha" "Honor your father and mother" -- the "Et"s there are said to represent grandparents or older siblings.

So what is the "take home" message I'm aiming for here? I guess it's threefold:
1) The Tora (and "bible") are not meant to be taken literally
2) There is no reason one can't believe in both the Tora ("bible") version of creation and evolution
3) The Tora and Science are parts of the same whole -- G-d created them both. And, therefore, they can't be contradictory. I agree with Maimonides on this -- if you find a contradiction, you must be misunderstanding or misinterpreting either the science or the Tora.

Mennonite Company and Israel


Our local Jewish newspaper's lead story this week was about a store in our community called "Ten Thousand Villages". This store is a franchise (it might be lurking in your community too). It is owned by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC).

Investigation by the newspaper into the policies of this organization began with a local Jewish resident who went into the store and found out that the store doesn't buy from Israel or China. She understood why they would not want to buy from China (China's record of human rights violations and trade abuses is well known), but why Israel (and why was Israel the only other country included in their ban)? This was especially vexing because this store's policy included Jewish Israel in their ban but not "Palestine".

Without going into the litany of lies and misinformation this group is spreading about Israel (it is extensive and it appears to me in the article that this group is very dangerous -- I did a google for their site and searched "Israel" there and got this list of articles about Israel) but lies and misinformation aside, I'm at a loss to explain something....

I grew up in the 60s -- I was part of the pacifist anti-war generation. I understand the pacifist perspective and, for the most part, agree with it (though I withhold my pacifism when the choice is "fight or be killed", but I digress....). So I am totally floored when a group of people who is supposedly dedicated to pacifism supports a group of people whose only recent "contribution" to society as a whole has been war, killing, destroying and just general mayhem.

This group of people took the Gaza areas of Gush Katif which were thriving with farms and beautiful homes and turned it into a barren area, devoid of vegetation, used it then (and use it now) and a launching pad for missiles (which they use to attack and kill Israeli citizens, including children) and a training area for terrorists. This is what they do with land that was handed over to them on a silver platter. They didn't have to promise (much less keep the promise) to recognize Israel and condemn terrorism.

But the Mennonite Central Committee in its infinite "wisdom" has decided that these warlike people are more deserving of financial (and moral -- boy, is the the wrong word for the Palestinians or what????) support than the peaceful citizens of the State of Israel, a Sovereign state, a member of the United Nations since they've been a nation, a seeker of peace, a defender of its own people, who, I might add, include Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha'i (this peaceful religion thinks so highly of Israel that its world headquarters is in the Israeli port city of Haifa), includes people of all racial and national origins, and, while it is a Jewish state (the only Jewish State in the world in an area of land about the size of New Jersey), has pretty much universal suffrage and politicians from all ethnic groups, a country that is a standout in the area of Human Rights in a part of the world where Human Rights violations are so common they aren't even questioned.

By throwing their support behind the evil regimes of the Palestinians, the Mennonite Central Committee places itself squarely in the camp of the liars, the haters, and the war mongers. And, as long as they do that, we have to make sure we never give them a cent of our hard earned money. We can't be sure it won't go to support our enemies and the enemies of the free world.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Free Elections


I went this morning to vote, as I do twice a year (once for the primaries and once for the general election). It's something that as an American, I take for granted. I also take for granted that no one is going to arrest me, beat me up, kill me or generally cause me pain or injury for whom I vote.

On my way home (we live less than three blocks from the polling place, so I walked), I was thinking about elections. You see, it's not elections that make a free society, it's a free and secret election. Only in an election where your vote is totally secret and totally your choice can elections be totally free.

Dictatorships make a show of being part of a free society by staging elections. Much of the time, there isn't even another candidate -- it's just a "yes" or "no" vote and woe be it to anyone who votes "no"!

Even in the elections in the Palestinian territories where Hamas won the elections against Fatah, the election was rigged because people feared for their lives if they voted for Fatah. And, lest you think this was like an election between John Kerry and George W. Bush, Fatah is no more a partner for peace than Hamas.

The thing is that in the Western world, we are so used to secret ballots that we don't realize what the enemies of liberty are doing. We hear the world "election" and we think freedom. But elections aren't free if there's no secret ballot. Elections aren't free if the "politicians" use terror tactics to force people to vote for them. Elections aren't free if there really is no choice.

So, next time you hear of an "election" in a country where there never were elections before, check to see if there's really a choice. And check to see if the people are really the ones choosing. If these elements aren't there, you know the "election" is only for show.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

"Perfect" Jews


I know I'm slow on the uptake when it comes to news (this is because I'm not a news hound and I depend on my best friend to keep me abreast of anything important). I just heard from her about Anne Coulter and her comment about what she considered a "perfect world". She said that to her, the NY Republican convention was the perfect place, everyone happy, republican and Christian (mind you, I can't imagine there would be anything that big in NY without any Jews, but we'll go on from here.....) The interviewer, who just happened to be Jewish, asked her about Judaism and Jews and she said that they needed to "perfect" the Jews.

"Perfect" us? If I didn't know this was code (J4J code, that is) for "converting" us, I would be wondering what in heck she meant. Well, for those of you who didn't know, "perfecting" Jews means converting us to Christianity. After all, in their eyes, it doesn't matter how you live your life. It doesn't matter if you are a good person or a bad person, if you accept JC as your "personal savior" then you will go to heaven when you die and if you don't accept JC as your "personal savior" then you will burn for all eternity in the pits of hell. (Mind you, Dante, in his book "The Inferno" -- part of his "Divine Comedy" -- shows most of hell as being icy and cold, like evil people's cold hearts, but I digress).

A Rabbi I know told a story about a cousin of his who was a Rabbi in Jerusalem and he was walking with his students on Ben Yehuda Street, a pedestrian mall area in the center of Jerusalem. It was the "holiday" season (that is, the winter holiday season). There was a man in middle of the pedestrian area talking about the "Good News" he wanted to share. The Rabbi decided to talk to this man himself, rather than have one of his students "shoo" the man. He went over and engaged the "Good Newsler". "So," the Rabbi asked, "what is this 'good news'?" "Oh," said the Good Newsler, "that 'he' died for our sins. And if you accept 'him', you will go to heaven!". "Oh, that's interesting," said the Rabbi. "I have a question for you -- the Neurenberg criminals, who were responsible for the murder of millions of people, went to mass before they were hanged. Where did they go after they died?" "Oh," said the Good Newsler, "they went straight to heaven." The Rabbi continued his question,"and the 1.5 million Jewish babies who the Nazis murdered, where did they go?" The Good Newsler answered, "they went to hell." The Rabbi smiled. "Well, I have to tell you, if I have a choice between going to heaven with Nazi war criminals and going to hell with 1.5 million Jewish babies, I'd rather be in hell."

As I said in my last blog entry, Christians don't seem to get it. It's funny (that's funny ironic, not funny "ha,ha") that Christians don't seem to realize that without Judaism there is no Christianity. Christianity is based on Judaism. But Christianity contradicts the Tora, so it can't be true.

I ask Christians (who are open to talking to me about it) if they believe in the "Old Testament" and they generally tell me that, yes, they do. And I ask them if they believe in the "New Testament" and they generally tell me that, yes, they do. So I tell them that if you believe in the "New Testament", you must believe that an Omniscient, Omnipresent G-d changed His/Her mind. If G-d changes His/Her mind, how do you know when (S)He stops? How do you know that the Muslims aren't right, or the Mormons?

I then tell them that I know what I believe is right because G-d doesn't change His/Her mind. The Tora is it.

So in our mind, "perfection" or "perfecting" ourselves (tikkun in Hebrew) means moving the observances of our lives more into sync with the Tora, not less. We perfect ourselves and the world (tikkun olam) by trying our hardest to do what Hashem (G-d) wants of us as stated in the Tora.

Perfection in the Tora view would be achieved only when the entire world starts keeping the Tora, the Gentiles keeping their mitzvot (laws) and Jews keeping our mitzvot.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Jewish Sandwich


Last night, I was one of the privileged few (I heard 15 hundred???) who was part of Brigitte Gabriel's conference call "town meeting". I missed the beginning (I was talking to my best friend), but I was on the phone listening (with the mute on the phone) for over a half hour.

Brigitte Gabriel's organization, American Congress for Truth, is trying to defeat Islamofascism in the United States and the World. For that I applaud her and the organization.

But as a Jew (in particular, an Orthodox Zionistic Jew) I have an issue. The issue is not specifically with Brigitte. We have for centuries had to deal with hatred and people wanting to destroy us and most of the time they fell into one of two categories: the Hamans of the world (represented by Purim), who wanted to destroy our bodies, and the Antiochuses of the world (represented by Hanuka), who wanted to destroy our souls.

Hitler was a Haman. Torquemada, for all the Jews whose murder he had a hand in, was an Antiochus.

But in this century we have to deal with both Haman and Antiochus. The Muslims want to kill us like Haman and the Christians, with all their "love bombing" and deceptive Messianic tactics, like Antiochus, want our souls.

This puts us in a very strange position. Politics makes strange bedfellows and for us right now we have to "to go bed", so to speak, with the Christian right, the very people who are after our souls with their financial support of Jews for Jesus, because they are the people in the US who are actually supportive of Israel. These are the people who visit Israel, who get up on their Radio and Television shows and promote Israel. These are the people who are working on fighting the Islamofascists, the ones who lauded Israel for attacking terrorists in the south of (the Syrian puppet regime of) Lebanon.

But these are also the people who are trying to convert us. These are the people who think that their quickest route to heaven is by converting Jews. These are the people who believe we will burn in hell for all eternity. And these are the people, who, in their heart of hearts, believe that when Jesus "returns" in his "second coming", those of us who don't join them in the final war of Armageddon will die.

These are the people who use the word "crusade" to describe a holy mission against the Muslims. But what they either don't know or choose to forget is that for us Jews, the Crusades were hardly a picnic. Just as we are today, we were sandwiched between the two big religious "super powers".

What neither side seems to understand (probably because both sides are so entrenched in societies where their religion holds sway to the extent that they don't need to analyze other ideas) is that there is a very good reason that Jews have historically not converted. Obviously, it's not because we lived in societies where OUR religion held sway. So maybe, just maybe, there's something more to Judaism than either "side" wants to admit. Maybe, just maybe, our way of life is so meaningful that we just don't want to live any other way. But as a Rabbi I know once said, it's like being inside a circle and all the people inside the circle understand what's great about the circle. But the people outside the circle don't understand. And they probably never will until they come into the circle, if only for a short time.

Judaism, unlike Christianity and Islam, doesn't claim that its adherents have a corner on truth, justice or goodness. We don't say that if you aren't Jewish you will "burn in hell for all eternity". That's because we don't have to scare people into following our Tora. The Tora has a special place for Gentiles. There are laws that non-Jews are responsible for. These are basically moral laws, like not murdering (yes, murdering -- it doesn't say in the 10 "commandments" that you shall not kill, it says you shall not MURDER), not stealing, not having inappropriate sexual relations (like adultery and incest), setting up courts, not worshiping idols, not pulling a limb off a live animal, etc.

We don't need to scare people into following our Tora because we know that following the Tora is to everyone's benefit. From my perspective, you only need to scare people into following your religion if you instinctively know it's not the truth.

So what can we do? How can we protect ourselves from the two pieces of bread in the Jewish Sandwich? I don't know. But one thing I do know -- we can't protect ourselves by giving away our land or by arming our enemies or by ignoring the missionaries. We can't protect ourselves by ignoring the Tora. And we can't protect ourselves by turning our backs on G-d.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Harry Potter and the current world situation


There are too many people out there who don't understand the concept of good vs. evil. Thankfully, J. K. Rowling gave us a road map. Her road map is not on that calls for the destruction of Israel and the free world to the Islamofascists of the world. Her road map is a guide not only to what constitutes good and what constitutes evil, her road map is a guide for the destruction of evil and the ultimate triumph of good.

If the leaders of the free world had read Harry Potter the way millions of children, teenagers and even adults had, they might see that while Harry Potter is a magnificently crafted children's story, a modern fairy tale, it is also an allegory of the millennia-old battles between good and evil.

Lord Voldemort, the main villain in the Harry Potter books, tries to blur the lines. He tries to convince Harry that there is truly no good or evil, only power. But Harry's fight throughout the series is not simply with Lord Voldemort, it is also within himself.

When Harry begins Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry he and the other "first year" students are separated into houses by the "sorting hat". While the hat is on Harry's head, the hat says that he can't decide whether to place Harry in Gryffindor house, the house of the most valiant wizards, or Slytherin house, the house where Lord Voldemort and most of his followers came from. Harry says over and over "not Slytherin" so the hat places him in Gryffindor. Later on, when Harry asks Dumbledore, the school's headmaster and Harry's mentor, why he was put in Gryffindor and not Slytherin, Dumbledore tells him it was because he used his force of will -- that HE, Harry, had asked for it. In other words, it's not the situation you are born into that shows who and what you are, it's the decisions you make in your life. In other words, day in and day out we have decisions to make and it is these decisions that show our "house", so to speak. It is our decisions that show who we are.

Many people in the world take the easy way out. They think they can placate evil by doing what evil asks of them. But what they don't realize or don't want to realize is that evil can never be placated. Hitler proved this at Munich, Arafat proved this when Barak offered him 95% of what he asked for and his answer was to start the intifada, the Islamofascists of Hamas and Fatah have proven this by turning the thriving Gaza community of Gush Katif into a launching pad for missiles, Al Qaida proved it when they destroyed historic statues in Afghanistan. Evil shows it's evil by its actions. And good needs to defeat evil. And this does not happen with negotiations. This does not happen with wimpy "all for show" military engagements. This only happens when the standard bearers for good are willing to fight an all out war with evil, a war like the final battle of the final installment of the Harry Potter saga. Only that sort of war will clear the way for good to triumph.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Repeating Bad Mistakes


I believe it was Einstein who said that "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

I realize that it doesn't exactly take a Rhodes Scholar to be president of the United States (though we have had one). And it doesn't take a Rocket Scientist to be Prime Minister of Israel. But even these esteemed leaders ought to be able to figure out after the Gaza debacle that "peace talks" with Hamas and Fata and discussions about carving up Israel proper and Jerusalem will not bring peace with the "Palestinian Authority".

It is quite clear that the only way we could possibly have peace with "elected" terrorist dictatorship of Gaza is to defeat them in an all-out, not holds bar war. Until we show them that their actions have consequences, they will never stop doing them.

For some absolutely bizarre reason which I cannot fathom, the world seems to think that giving the "Palestinians" what they say they want will get them to leave everyone alone. But since Al Qaida has stated their goal is to make the world into one big unhappy Sharia state the world is either so blinded by hatred of Jews or just so incredibly stupid as to think that these terror mongers can be appeased by a few acres of land. These people will not be happy until they own the world. Which, G-d willing, will be never.

But if, G-d forbid, they ever got what they wanted, it would be the end of the world because having the world and ruling the world are altogether different things. Hamas already has Gaza. And what are they doing with it? Nothing really. They are not using it to build homes for Palestinian refugees. They are not establishing a peaceful state, building schools, hospitals, and a general infrastructure for their people.

When Jews resettled Israel, they spent their time and effort building a country. That country has its problems, but it generally runs well and gives its people the services they need to survive. The same cannot be said for Gaza. Gaza is a case study, a laboratory experiment in terrorist statehood. And that experiment is a dismal failure. Is the Gaza experiment what we want for the whole of Israel? Is it what we want for the whole world? If we don't want the entire world or even the entire Israel to turn into the failed experiment named "Gaza" we must work hard to elect intelligent, aware leaders. The French, despite their dismal history in this regard, have taken a giant step in the right direction by electing a leader who may just help them solve their internal and external terrorism issues. We in the US and Israel need to do the same.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Mets, Football and Israel


I'm a big sports fan. And, like the protagonist of the TV show "My Boys", I use a lot of sports analogies.

I'm sure by now most people have heard of the major crash and burn that happened to the Mets this baseball season. I've been a Mets fan for a very long time.

At the beginning of the year, the Mets were "the team to beat". From early in the season, they held the first place position in the Eastern Division of the National League. I was proud to be a Mets fan. But as the Mets went from 7 games ahead in the middle of September to 2nd place and out of the playoffs by the end of the season (losing 12 of their last 17 games), I went from pride to frustration and confusion.

I realized that I feel the same way about Israel and the United States. When I was growing up, Israel was the underdog, the David going against the Goliath of the Arab/Muslim countries. They defeated their enemies in wars even before I was born and when I was young -- in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973. They gained territory in these defensive wars that made their borders more defensible, reducing their military needs in the process.

The United States has been one of the world's "super powers". With the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war, the United States emerged as the super power and the standard bearer for freedom, western values, justice and equality.

But somewhere along the line, the United States and Israel started "playing" the world "game" like a strong football team playing a weak football team and only allowing their Defense to play. (In American football, teams have both Offensive squads and Defensive squads. The Offense tries to score and the Defense tries to prevent the other team from scoring. So even if the strongest football team would play the weakest football team the strongest team would easily lose if their offense didn't try to score.) The United States and Israel have become too concerned with world opinion. They've been playing "defense" when they should be playing "offense" too, for a balanced attack.

Israel should be actively fighting against the Palestinian "forces" who were given Gaza on a silver platter and are using this land not for housing for "refugees", not for government offices, not for anything to help their people but to lob bombs that are killing and maiming Jewish children and adults living in nearby communities.

And the United States is acting like a "peace keeping" force in Iraq. The US military should be permitted to "play offense" or fight this war like a war, not like a peace keeping effort. The enemy never surrendered and as such, the US in Iraq is still at war.

I remember the pride I felt as a child being a Jewish American. I remember feeling pride in Israel especially during the six-day war and the Yom Kippur war, when Israel successfully defended itself. I remember feeling pride when I hear that Israel bombed an Iraqi nuclear plant. I remember feeling pride in the US for spreading freedom throughout the world.

But today, both countries have lost their "bite", they are only allowing their defensive squad "on the field". I'm feeling the same way about my countries (The US and Israel) as I am about my Mets -- I'm still loyal. But I really wish they all would start defending themselves.

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