Friday, August 15, 2014

Letter to President Barack Obama

Dear President Obama:

I am distressed by the reports that, in the midst of Israel's trying to defend itself against Hamas, a common enemy, your administration changed long-standing procedures to slow down the process of resupplying our only reliable friend and ally in the Middle East.

Israel is on the front lines in a battle between the liberal, democratic Western world and revanchist forces trying to destroy us. We need to stand solidly together.

As you know, Hamas strategically places itself in the midst of populated areas, including schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes, using civilians, including women and children, as human shields. For Hamas, every civilian death is a victory.

As you also know, Israel, even more than us, does whatever it can to avoid harming civilians. The proportion of civilian casualties in Gaza has actually been far lower than that in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Given the way Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and the other terrorist groups in Gaza use civilians as human shields, this is truly astounding and deserves our praise.

Especially given this reality and the nature of our common enemies, criticism of Israel's actions is unjustified and harmful, not just to Israel but to America, to our other friends and allies and even to the people of Gaza, since it encourages Hamas in its use of civilians as human shields. Because of this, in the long run, it effectively condemns more, nameless but innocent civilians to death.

I urge you to reverse policy and stand firmly with our friends and against our enemies. It's critically important that the mistakes of the past, fatally flawed ceasefires, each of which enabled Hamas and the other terror groups to rearm and resume terrorism with even more powerful and lethal weapons, not be repeated.

It must be assured that in the next ceasefire, Gaza be de-terrorized. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah must be disarmed and their terror infrastructure permanently destroyed. Anything less will be a bad ceasefire and will be even worse than no ceasefire.

Sincerely,

Alan Stein

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Truth About Hamas

I received this from a cousin living in Beersheva. Although I don't have the source, the content is consistent with stories I've been told by others.

The truth about Hamas
True and heart breaking story

By Itzik Azar
Translated by Moshe Mekler

July 2014

A letter from Ahmed, son of a friend of mine from Gaza.

Background: I knew Ahmed's father, Mussah, who worked many years ago at a metalworking shop in south Tel Aviv district. A very nice man who used to leave Gaza  every morning at 04:00 am and start working at 6:30am at the metalworking shop in the Tel Aviv.

Mussah worked hard in order to provide for his family to buy an apartment in the city of Gaza.

Ahmed, Mussah's son used to come once in a while to help his father with his work.

Today Ahmed, a is a 30 year old father writes:

"Many years ago when my father had to leave his work in Tel Aviv he started to work in a small metalworking shop in Gaza.

Economy was hard and I used to help him work in order to provide for our family.

A minute after Israel had to leave the Gaza strip at 2006, Pickup trucks started driving around the city with thugs from Hamas raged the streets of the city, They were shooting everywhere and hitting every person that looked like he was against their agenda, people were afraid to walk the streets, my father banned my family to leave the house for a few days.

After a few days only me and my father went outside to the metalworking shop in order to provide for our family, every time we heard a vehicle we would fear and look for a hideout at the shop.

One day a pickup truck filled with Hamas thugs stopped by the shop, they went in and took the owner, two days after he came back with his face down and talked to my father, I sat aside and listened.

I understood Hamas notified him that from today his shop will work for Hamas, and Hamas only.

They set the prices and the demand that was ordered from the shop.

Since that day every morning an armed Hamas member used to come to the shop and give us orders to make winged metal pipes and straight ahead I understood that they were used to launch rockets.

One day a pickup truck drove by and stopped, the Hamas members came down and took my father from the shop, we never saw him again, later I understood they killed him and threw his body to a pit.

Life became harder and harder, work wasn't easy, we got a small allowance that barely was enough for bread and milk.

One day a friend of mine offered me to come with him to do some work, since I needed the money I went with him.

We came to an apartment in Gaza, we were six guys, they put us at the back of a truck, we sat in the dark and couldn't see where were going, we drove for an hour and finally they stopped and we come out of the truck standing in a closed building, we didn't know where we are.

They showed us a whole in the ground and told us to go down, the slope was scary and we found ourselves inside a tunnel, we walked for a few hundred meters and we got to the end where two Hamas members waited for us, they gave us working tools and explained us what to do in order to make the tunnel longer.

Work was hard, we were suffocating from lack of air, we used to work 8 hour shifts and then 4 hours of rest, we stayed in the tunnel for 10 days.

The Hamas members changed every day, they used to scream on us and hit us when they thought supply of work was low, after 10 days they took us out, put us in a truck, gave us little money and drove us back to someplace in Gaza.

We didn't know where we've been, what tunnel we dug, the pay was low but they did pay, I never came back to do that work.

I went back to try to get some work at the metalworking shop but I found that it was closed, I asked the neighbours what happened and they answered with fear that Hamas moved the shop to another location and nobody knew where, they told me that every morning a truck with Hamas members comes, picks up the workers, puts them at the closed back of the truck and drive them away and bring them back late at night.

I found my self working in temporary jobs in order to provide for my family.

We live in constant fear, once in a while a truck full with armed Hamas members comes by and attacks civilians.

We see in Gaza the rich Hamas members living in glamorous houses, driving new cars, sending their children to universities abroad while most of Gaza's citizens living fear and poverty, without the ability to work.

Sometimes the kids are telling that Hamas giving away free candies in different locations around Gaza, the kids go to get the sweets and right after we hear that rockets were launched from the same location.

Israel retaliates to the same location and kids get hurt.

I write you this letter because the situation is very bad.

Luckily for us we are living in the city of Gaza but we have families that live in other parts of the Gaza strip, the Hamas runs a war against Israel, shooting rockets constantly on your communities and we the people of Gaza suffer the consequences, we just have no place to hide.

The members of Hamas are hiding in their bunkers under ground, some of them are not even in the Gaza strip, they are protected and they have no problem to continue to fight.

There were many families that rented Hamas rooms and yards at the back of their homes, the Hamas gave them money to put food on the table and now they fire rockets to Israel from those people's homes, many of the homes get blown by your airforce strikes.

We suffer so much, we're afraid of the Hamas, we're afraid of your bombings, there are huge explosions all the time, we hear the sound of Hamas launching their rockets and we know that a minute their will be another sound of blast from your rockets.

We heard about the tunnels that Hamas dug and I understood that I helped them, what I don't understand is why Hamas is doing everything possible to hurt Israel instead of developing the Gaza strip to make the peoples live better.

I hope everything will end and me and my family will survive, but I lost hope, I know that Hamas will take all the money that the world gives to restore Gaza and use it to build more tunnels, buy more weapons and build more villas for the heads of Hamas.

Hamas's thugs will continue to drive the streets and hurt the civilians.

The only thing I can say is that some of Hamas leaders are hiding in bunkers under hospitals and schools because they know Israel won't hurt them there and that's a shame.

We part that the world will help to free us from the fearful and cruel Hamas rule in the Gaza strip.

I'm sure that if you'll spread this letter you won't expose my fathers real name who was your friend and neither my name.

I pray for death to all Hamas members and that we will get freedom and a chance to live a normal life for our children in Gaza.

I wish we can go back to the days my father worked in Tel Aviv with his good friends in Israel
Inshalla! مرحبا - ‏עם


יולי 2014...

מכתב מאחמד , בן של חבר מעזה
בדרך לא דרך הגיע אלי מכתב מאחמד המתגורר בעיר עזה
רקע
אני הכרתי את אבא של אחמד, מוסה, שעבד לפני הרבה שנים כמסגר במסגרייה בדרום ת"א.

איש נחמד שהיה יוצא כל בוקר מעזה בשעה 04:00 ומתחיל לעבוד ב-06:30 במסגרייה בת"א .

מוסה עשה לעצמו פרנסה טובה והצליח לקנות למשפחתו דירה בעיר עזה ...

אחמד בנו של מוסה היה מגיע מדי פעם עם האבא לעזור לו בעבודה .

אחמד , שהוא כבן 30 היום ואב לילדים כותב .

"לפני שנים כשאבא נאלץ לעזוב את העבודה בת"א הוא התחיל לעבוד במסגרייה קטנה בעזה ...

הפרנסה הייתה קשה ואני הייתי עובד איתו על מנת לעזור בפרנסת הבית ..

בשנת 2006 שיצאתם מרצועת עזה , דקה אחרי התחילו להסתובב בעיר טנדרים עם חבורות בריונים של החמאס שהשתוללו ברחובות .

ירו לכל כיוון , הרביצו והרגו כל מי שנראה להם שהוא נגדם והיה פחד לצאת לרחוב .

אנחנו ישבנו כמה ימים בתוך הבית , אבא לא הרשה לאף אחד לצאת .

לאחר כמה ימים יצאנו רק אבא ואני לעבוד במסגרייה ולהביא קצת פרנסה .

כל פעם ששמענו רכב מתקרב היינו מתמלאים בפחד ומחפשים מקום מסתור .

יום אחד נעצר טנדר עם חבורת בריונים מהחמאס ליד המסגרייה , הם נכנסו למסגרייה ולקחו איתם את בעל המסגרייה ...

אחרי יומיים הוא חזר עם פנים נפולות ודיבר עם אבא , אני ישבתי בצד והקשבתי ...

הבנתי שהחמאס הודיע לו שמהיום המסגרייה שלו תעבוד עבור החמאס , ורק עבור החמאס ...

הם קבעו לו את המחירים וגם את ההספק הנדרש ממנו ...

מאותו יום כל בוקר היה מגיע בריון חמוש מהחמאס , מתיישב במסגרייה ואנחנו היינו מייצרים צינורות עם כנפיים ומתקנים שהבנתי לאחר מכן שנועדו לשיגור רקטות ...

יום אחד הגיע טנדר עם בריונים מהחמאס , התנפלו על אבא שלי ולקחו אותו מהמסגרייה ...

יותר לא ראינו את אבא שלי .

בעל המסגרייה ביקש ממני לא לבוא יותר לעבודה , שאלתי מה קורה עם אבא שלי והתשובה שקיבלתי הייתה שהחמאס גילו כי אבא עבד בת"א וחשדו שהוא משתף פעולה עם ישראל והעבירו אותו למקום של החשודים כמשתפי פעולה ...

מאוחר יותר הבנתי שפשוט הרגו אותו וזרקו את גופתו לבור ...

החיים נהיו קשים יותר ויותר , עבודה לא הייתה ,קיבלנו הקצבה קטנה של כסף כל חודש שבקושי הספיקה ללחם וחלב .

יום אחד הציע לי חבר לבוא איתו לכמה ימי עבודה מיוחדת , מאחר והייתי זקוק לפרנסה הלכתי איתו ...

הגענו לאיזה דירה בעזה , היינו 6 חברה, הכניסו אותנו לארגז של טנדר סגור ישבנו בחושך ולא יכולנו לראות כלום , נסענו כשעה ובסוף הורידו אותנו בתוך מבנה סגור .

לא ידענו איפה אנחנו .

הראו לנו חור באדמה ואמרו לנו לרדת למטה , הירידה הייתה מפחידה ומצאנו עצמנו בתוך תעלה , הלכנו בפנים כמה מאות מטרים והגענו לקצה .

שם חיכו לנו 2 בריונים מהחמאס , נתנו לנו כלי עבודה , הסבירו לנו מה לעשות והתחלנו לחפור ולהאריך את המנהרה ...

העבודה הייתה קשה , האוויר מחניק , עבדנו במשמרות של 8 שעות עבודה ו4 מנוחה .

נשארנו במנהרה כ- 10 ימים , בריוני החמאס התחלפו כל יום , הם היו צועקים ומרביצים לנו כשחשבו שקצב העבודה נמוך.

אחרי כ- 10 ימים הוציאו אותנו , נתנו לכל אחד מאיתנו קצת כסף ושוב לטנדר הסגור והורידו אותנו במרכז עזה .

לא ידענו איפה היינו ואיזו מנהרה חפרנו וגם השכר היה נמוך , אבל היה .

לא חזרתי יותר לעבודה הזו ...

חשבתי לחזור לעבודה במסגרייה , הלכתי לשם והמסגרייה הייתה סגורה ...

שאלתי את השכנים מה קרה והם בפחד אמרו לי שהמסגרייה עברה למקום אחר ואף אחד לא יודע לאן .

הם סיפרו שכל בוקר מגיע טנדר עם ארגז סגור , כל עובדי המסגרייה נכנסים לארגז ורק בלילה מאוחר הם חוזרים.

מצאתי עצמי עובד בעבודות זמניות על מנת להביא אוכל למשפחתי .

כל הזמן אנחנו חיים בפחד , ברחובות מפעם לפעם מגיע טנדר עם בריוני חמאס חמושים , עוצרים תוקפים אזרחים מרביצים יורים הורגים ומסתלקים ...

אנחנו רואים בעזה את העשירים , אנשי החמאס גרים בבתים מפוארים , נוסעים במכוניות חדשות , שולחים את הילדים ללימודים בחו"ל ורוב תושבי עזה חיים בעוני , בלי עבודה ובפחד מבריוני החמאס .

לפעמים הילדים מספרים לי שהחמאס מחלק ממתקים לילדים במקומות שונים ברצועת עזה , הילדים הולכים לקבל ממתקים ומיד אחרי זה אנחנו שומעים ששיגרו משם טילים ורקטות לעבר ישראל ...

ישראל משיבה אש למקום השיגור וילדים נפגעים .

אני כותב לך את המכתב מכיוון שהמצב קשה מאוד מאוד ...

אנחנו למזלנו גרים בעזה אבל ש לנו משפחות שגרות במקומות האחרים ברצועה , החמאס מנהל נגדכם מלחמה כל הזמן יורה טילים על ישובים שלכם, ואנחנו תושבי עזה נפגעים כל הזמן ואין לנו היכן להסתתר ...

אנשי החמאס מאורגנים בבונקרים שלהם מתחת לאדמה , חלק מהם בכלל לא נמצאים ברצועת עזה , הם מוגנים ולא איכפת להם מהמשך המלחמה בעזה .

היו הרבה משפחות שהשכירו לחמאס חדרים או שטח בחצר הבתים שלהם , זה נתן להם פרנסה ועכשיו משוגרים טילים לעבר מישראל מהבתים שלהם . הרבה בתים מופצצים לאחר מכן ע"י מטוסים שלכם ...

אנחנו כל כך סובלים, מפחדים מבריוני החמאס , מפחדים מההפצצות שלכם , כל הזמן פיצוצים גדולים , שומעים שריקה של ירי רקטה או טיל ויודעים שמיד אחרי זה יהיה פיצוץ של פצצה שלכם ...

שמענו גם על המנהרות שהחמאס חפר לישראל והבנתי שגם אני עבדתי בבניית מנהרה כזו , אנחנו לא מבינים למה הם עושים הכל לפגוע בישראל במקום לפתח את הרצועה ולשפר את חיי התושבים ...

מקווה שהכל ייגמר אני ומשפחתי נהיה בחיים .

אבל אין לי תקווה , אני יודע שהחמאס ייקח לעצמו את כל הכסף שהעולם ייתן לשיקום עזה , יקנה עוד נשק ויבנה עוד וילות לבכירי החמאס .

בריוני החמאס ימשיכו לנסוע בטנדרים שלהם ולפגוע באכזריות בנו בתושבים .

אני יכול להגיד לך שאנחנו יודעים שחלק ממפקדי החמאס יושבים בבונקרים מתחת לבית החולים ובית ספר בעזה . הם יודעים שאתם לא תפגעו בהם שם וחבל.

אנחנו מתפללים שהעולם יעזור לנו להשתחרר משלטון הפחד האכזרי של החמאס .

אני בטוח שאם תפיץ את המכתב שלי לא תחשוף את השם האמיתי של אבא שלי שהיה חבר שלך ואת השם שלי.

מתפלל למותם של כל אנשי החמאס ושנזכה לחופש וחיים נורמאליים לילדנו ולנו בעזה .

והלוואי שנחזור לימים בהם אבא עבד בת"א עם החברים הטובים מישראל
אינשאללה مرحبا
אחמ."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I Don't Get It!

This was posted to the CoHaV (Coalition of Hasbarah Volunteers) mailing list by Harris Zvi Green and is reposted here with the permission of the author. Find out more about CoHaV by visiting its websitehttp://www.cohav.org.

I am now 68 years old. I am probably slowing down a bit so please bear with me as I share some of my frustrations with you. I just don't get it.

My parents and teachers of blessed memory taught me to distinguish between right and wrong. It wasn't very difficult. Most of it was actually straight forward, even intuitive. The principles I learned as a kid provided me with the tools to overcome the moral and ethical challenges I faced on my journey through life. I was taught to love, not to hate. I was taught to tolerate what I didn't like. I was taught to respect my fellow man and made aware of my duties to society. I was taught the sanctity of human life.

It seems that not everybody was as fortunate as I was. Too many people, even those who claim to be intelligent, thinking and progressive, were born to different parents and taught by different teachers. They have been taught to hate and that tolerance is not a virtue. For them, human life is merely a commodity. Their distinction between right and wrong is dramatically different to what I was taught.

I read that Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has condemned Israel for not sharing its life saving Iron Dome air defense system with those who fire missiles at Israel's civilian population with the sole intention of killing and maiming as many Israelis as possible. Does she require that my tax dollars be spent on protecting those committed to killing me? I don't get it.

In the same way that capital cities around the world compete with one another to host quality marathons and gay parades, so do they strive to host increasingly violent anti-Israel demonstrations supporting Hamas aggression against Israel. Self-styled leaders of the International Community use hate speech to condemn Israel's actions to defend herself. This hate speech provides the legitimacy for the racist slogans used on the banners at these demonstrations. I don't get it.

The death toll in Syria is rapidly approaching 200,000. Surely that's enough to warrant a demonstration in at least one of the world's capitals? I don't get it.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan uses the most disgusting inflammatory and blatantly anti-Semitic rhetoric against Israel. Who would have believed we would be subjected to this abomination less than 70 years after the Holocaust? The International Community condones his comments by its deafening silence. Has anti-Semitism become politically correct? Surely not.

I don't get it.

Qatar finances state of the art Islamic terror infrastructures. I would have thought this is wrong but Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup.

I don't get it.

After finding missiles stockpiled in their schools, UNWRA advises Hamas this is against the rules. Either store them elsewhere or use them now! A UN clinic was booby-trapped and claimed the lives of Israeli soldiers entering the building. Shouldn't UNICEF be concerned about the Hamas use of children as human shields? I thought UN agencies had humanitarian responsibilities. I don't get it.

The UN hasn't missed an opportunity to claim there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. If there are shortages of food and medical supplies and the housing, education, transport and social service infrastructures are sub-standard, how did the Gazans manage to construct such a sophisticated network of terror tunnels? The video footage now available has to be seen to fully comprehend this. How were they able to stockpile more than 9,000 missiles and other military hardware? I don't get it.

Whatever steps Israel takes to defend her civilians are considered by the International Community as being contrary to International Law or, at best, disproportionate. How does the International Community expect Israel to defend the lives of its citizens against missiles and terror tunnels? I would have thought that proportionate was what it takes to achieve the objective. I don't get it.

So many NGOs have been established to promote human rights. Why do many of them support movements like Hamas whose charter is genocidal and advocates ethnic cleansing? Surely that's wrong. I just don't get it.

Am I missing something? Is it because we are Jewish?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Rabbi Ervin Birnbaum: Don't Allow Your Spirit To Collapse

My Dear Friends,

I just heard the news of the capture of Cptn Hadar Golden by Hamas, by means of a tunnel that was dug be them into Israeli territory, on a day that was designated as a period of cease-fire.

It should be clear to all of us that this war is taking on a brand new coloration. It should be clear to all of us that no matter what Pres. Obama and the UN leadership would say, Israel cannot allow ANY Hamas tunnel to remain functional. It should be clear to all of us that our enemy is a bloodthirsty enemy who has no concern for its own civilians, puts them up as a purposeful shield for its own rocket launchers and arsenals, and is totally dedicated to Israel's destruction. Above all, it should be clear to all of us that Hamas is convinced that after the last shot will be fired, the world will hasten to pour billions into its territory to rebuild it nicer and better and stronger than they were before the conflict started, whereas Israel will stand isolated and condemned before the tribunal of mankind for its so-called "disproportionate" reaction.

This is turning into a war of endurance and nerves. So, as we are about ready to wring our hands in the face of Hamas' temerity, arrogance and -- yes -- unexpected strength, DON'T ALLOW YOUR SPIRIT TO COLLAPSE!!! Bite your lips, shed a tear (by now we shed gallons of them in Israel), lift your chin up and straighten your back. You must be fortified by the conviction that we, the People of Israel, are entitled to our sovereign Land in the Land of our Fathers, no matter what the world says, and no matter to what an extent the world is ready to throw us into the sizzling fires built by Quatar's petro-dollars.

Sisters and brothers, be proud of our unparalleled army. Embrace our wonderful boys and girls who are fighting our battle of survival. Embrace the bereaved families and show them that their pain is our collective pain and the memories of their loved ones are etched in our minds forever. Buy the products of our men and women who -- despite all the dangers -- remain in their border settlements to maintain a Jewish productive presence, though they have no market, no buyers, no backers. I am deeply thankful to you and infinitely proud of you who came today to our absolutely fantastic sale of flowers at Shearim, delivered to us with the generous last-minute help of "Soda Stream" from settlements in the South. As so many of you requested, if the conflict continues we shall repeat this extraordinary experience in the near future.

However, even if the conflict ends very soon -- which is beyond my expectation at this moment -- please join us this coming Monday in our demonstration of solidarity at the holiest place of our People, at the Kotel in Jerusalem, where we shall stand arm in arm and hand in hand, united with the Jewish Past and praying for a Jewish Future of Peace and Security in our one-and-only beautiful Jewish Homeland.

With fervent prayers for Peace, for consolation to our bereaved families, for the wellbeing of our brave soldiers I wish you and your loved ones a Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Ervin Birnbaum

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Top ten things that will happen if Israel allows itself to win in Gaza

Courtesy of Dan Friedman. Thank you, Dan.

1. Iran loses one of its tentacles it meant to use to strangle Israel.

2. Having had one tentacle amputated in Gaza, Iran is loathe to lose the other one in southern Lebanon.

3. Talk about "isolation." A new calculus takes hold in Judea and Samaria. Fatah, the PA and Abbas know they're living from day to day - by the good graces of the IDF.

4. With the pressure relaxed on those fronts, Israel dusts off its plans to destroy Iran's nuclear infrastructure.

5. Having successfully defied Obama and his anti-Zionist cats-paws, Israel still has to respect the lame duck snake, but can do so with greater confidence.

6. Any mention of returning to the "peace process" becomes the punch line to thousands of bad jokes. Even unJew Jon Stewart gets into the act.

7. The Arab World reads Israel's message loud and clear. Your region has a new boss and he is Jewish. Get used to it.

8. The Israeli Left and the anti-Zionist Left in general suffer a devastating body blow. Thomas Friedman goes back to writing about climate change, Peter Beinart gives a lecture to an empty auditorium, and Haaretz is sold to the Onion.

9. J Street, the New Israel Fund, B'Tselem et alia, are booted out of the "big tent" and told they will never march in NYC's Israel Day Parade again. At the same time, Peter Gelb of the Metropolitan Opera rewrites The Death of Klinghoffer and gives it a happy ending. Klinghoffer takes out an Uzi and kills all the Muslim bastards before they kill him. All performances are sold out even though the Times pans it.


10. George Soros dies in his sleep from complications of self-hatred.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

On the Home Front in Netanya

This was sent by Rabbi Ervin Birnbaum as a Shearim newsletter. Shearim is a Russian outreach program in Netanya started by Rabbi Birnbaum.

Dear Friends,

I am inclined to believe that there is no true Jew in the world, certainly none in Israel, whose tension-level did not increase in the course of the last week. I had a dozen phone calls yesterday alone from supporters and friends of Shearim Netanya who are asking what they could do to help in the situation.

The Pikkud Ha'oref (Home Command) invited me yesterday for an emergency meeting. The lieutenant-colonel in charge of the Home Command had only one point on his agenda. Make sure to maintain your people's alertness to the dangers lurking on the horizon. Hamas may be reserving a select group of rockets for a last blast as a cease-fire will be forced upon the field of battle. Please note this possibility and act accordingly. Although Netanya had only one siren-warning during the 16 days of hostilities, we, as well as the whole country are viewed as a battlefield. Therefore, friends, do not allow yourself to relax your alertness.

After the head of the Netanya Home Command closed his topic, he asked us, the five invited chairmen of organizations, for our reactions to the situation. It soon became clear that a large number of people city-wide are craving for opportunities to make their input felt in the crisis. I reported to the small group that one of my members is even ready to drive to the frontline to deliver packages for the soldiers.

The following conclusions could be drawn from the discussion:

(1) What the soldiers need now most is underwear, socks, soap, deodorant, small towel, towelettes, toothbrush, small toothpaste. Add a package or two of potato chips and similar. Attach a small, neat note in the language most familiar to you expressing your gratitude for his/her saving work on behalf of our People and Land, wishing the soldier well and a safe return home. Sign the note giving your name, address, cell/phone number.

Place it all in a box closed by scotch-tape and deliver to Shearim office Sunday or Monday. We will take care of delivery to the front, in partnership with the Home Command.

(2) If you have the space, let us know of your readiness to offer home hospitality, for how many people, for what period.

(3) It can be assumed that once cease-fire will be established, the forces will remain in battle readiness for an additional three-four days. The above suggestions are therefore relevant probably till the end of the month, Thursday, July 31. Of course we may be pleasantly surprised and the tension may relax sooner. Or we may be surprised in the opposite direction and the shelling of the terrorist groups may linger on for a few days more.

Friends, if you wish to act, you have an opportunity.

I am certain that we all join in the prayer for a speedy and successful ending of the present Gaza campaign.

Our hearts go out to the bereaved families who lost loved ones in our defensive action against the terrorists.

May they be comforted by the conviction and the sense of pride that their dear ones died for the noble and sacred cause of defending the only Jewish Homeland on the globe in the millennial Land of our Fathers,

Shalom, Shalom lakarov velarachok -- Peace, Peace to those near and to those far.

Rabbi Ervin Birnbaum

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Israel's Response to U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Israel's Response to U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 
(Communicated by the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva)
14 July 2014
I have read the OHCHR press briefing from Friday, 11 July 2014, and I reject it outright.
I read it with a magnifying glass, looking for any combination of the words "Hamas" and "condemn". I have failed to find it. In the efforts to safeguard the human rights of Israelis, the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights and her Office have failed dismally.
The clarity of her message to Israel is in sharp contrast to the opaqueness of her message to Hamas. She has put to shame George Orwell's doublespeak. She refused, over and over, to acknowledge the fact that Hamas is committing a double war crime: targeting Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians. Israel, on the other hand, is taking measures to avoid harming innocent civilians and to minimize casualties. Hamas exploits Israel's policy by instructing its population to act as human shields for its arsenal of deadly missiles and for its leaders and terrorists.
I react with total disbelief to the High Commissioner of Human Rights' call made to "leaders on all sides" to "abandon their poisonous rhetoric". Israel acted with utmost restraint when rockets started to rain on its cities and villages following the abduction and killing of Eyal, Gil-ad and Naftali, on June 12. Furthermore, Israeli leaders have condemned the murder of Muhammad Abu Khder and the suspects to the murder have already been arrested and await trial.
And Hamas? Where is Hamas' condemnation of the perpetrators? Am I deaf? I cannot hear strong voices of empathy and condolences to the families of the youths, or condemnation of the deed itself. I believe I have perfect hearing, yet I hear nothing. I only hear Hamas celebrating the landing of missiles on the homes of Israeli civilians.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is misguided. The High Commissioner has lost her bearings. Focusing her criticism on Israel is wrong, biased, unjustifiable and, ultimately, unhelpful. If she actually wanted to be helpful in this situation, she would have condemned Hamas in the strongest manner.
So, once again, let me make the realities on the ground crystal clear:
Hamas - an internationally recognized terrorist organization - deliberately embeds its military operations deep in residential areas, and exploits its own civilian population as human shields. These actions are war crimes. Many of Hamas' commanders use their own homes for military purposes - including weapons storage, command and control centers and military communications. In videos uploaded to the IDF's YouTube channel, secondary explosions can be seen following IDF attacks on some of these houses - clearly indicating their military use. Under international law, when the exploitation of residential houses makes an effective contribution to Hamas' military actions, these buildings clearly become legitimate military targets.
When attacking these lawful targets, the IDF makes every effort to ensure such attacks are proportionate and to minimize any unavoidable civilian harm. The IDF has no desire to harm civilians, and is acting solely to weaken Hamas terrorist infrastructure and safeguard our civilians.
The IDF conducts its operations in full accordance with international law. IDF commanders are trained in international law and legal advisors are embedded at the highest level of the chain of command. The IDF employs a range of tools - including distributing flyers, personalized phone calls and text messages - to warn people in the vicinity of an impending attack.
Instead of raising doubts regarding Israel's commitment to the rule of law, the High Commissioner and her Office should be questioning why Hamas deliberately embeds its military operations in residential homes and civilian areas. A terrorist organization that uses its civilian population as human shields, and deliberately fires at the Israeli civilian population, is conducting war crimes - and should be denounced for doing so.
I believe the High Commissioner's concerns for the implementation of Israel's 'Operation Protective Edge' have been fully answered. Her responsibility now is to condemn Hamas and to call on President Abbas to dissolve the Fatah-Hamas "unity government" pact, as well as to support Israel's right to defend itself.
This is the only way to achieve peace in our region.
Eviatar Manor
Ambassador
Permanent Representative

Monday, July 7, 2014

Open Letter to PBS NewsHour

On July 7, PBS NewsHour aired a segment misleadingly titled "Mideast tensions escalate in cycle of retribution for teen killings." The program featured Josef Federman, Dennis Ross, Shibley Telhami and Judy Woodruff.

Prof. Doron Lubinsky of Atlanta sent the following letter about the segment to PBS NewsHour.

On the whole, Judy Woodruff tried to be fair tonight. Even Josef Federman conceded that the rocket attacks from Gaza, were forcing Israelis to stay inside bomb shelters across southern Israel.

Of course, Shibley Telhami talked of "Palestinian desperation". Who is primarily responsible for that "despair"? It is Palestinian leaders such as Arafat and Abbas, who have rejected every resolution to the conflict that allows a permanent Israel (no matter what its boundaries). And then there is Hamas, which regularly broadcasts children's programs calling for the murder of all Jews.

There could have been a Palestinian state in 1948 alongside Israel, but the Arab world instead invaded the tiny Jewish state. There could have been a Palestinian state between 1948 and 1967 when Jordan controlled the West Bank, but there was no talk of it then. There could have been a Palestinian state after the Arab lost the Six-Day War in 1967, but the Arab League vowed "no recognition, no talks, no peace". There could have been a Palestinian state in 2001 under the Clinton plan, but Arafat walked away and started an intifada. There could have been a Palestinian state in 2010 with Olmert, but Abbas refused to respond. There could have been a Palestinian state this year, but Abbas gave Pres. Obama three no's: no to recognition of Israel as a Jewish state; no to compromise on refugees; no to ending the conflict after Palestinian statehood in the West Bank.

So why all the no's? Because the core issue is rejection of any permanent Israel at all. The Palestinian cause was built to dismantle Israel. It's tragedy is that its obsession with destroying Israel far exceeds the desire for statehood. Yes, Abbas might feign acceptance while Israel is making one-sided concessions, but will always ensure that there are further pretexts for conflict. Imagine if the Arab world had uplifted all the Arab refugees in the way Israel uplifted all the Jewish refugees from Arab countries, if they had looked forward rather than backward?

And yes, despite all the cover given to Hamas, it is Hamas that is launching most of the rockets. It is Fatah's own TV and newspapers and officials that praised the kidnapping of the three teens. And it is Israel that arrested the Israeli perpetrators of the despicable murder of the Palestinian teen, while Palestinian society has praised, and given cover to, the murderers of the Israel teens. The mother of one of the Palestinians suspected of the murders praised the purported actions of her son, in public.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dear New York Times: I Must Decline Your Offer

I have received your invitation to resubscribe to the New York Times at a discount.  I must decline that offer.

When I cancelled my subscription earlier this year, I informed you that the reason for that cancellation was my anger and disappointment that your obvious bias against Israel was demonstrated clearly by your editorials and Op-Ed columns.  Even worse, you allowed that bias to openly pervade the supposedly objective coverage in your news section.  I told you that I would consider subscribing again in the future if, and only if, you took the necessary steps to provide fair and objective reporting and, at a minimum, more balance in your selection of editorials and individual columns on the subject.

Judging from the many editorials, columns, and news articles pointed out to me by friends who still read your paper, you have done nothing to curtail the demonstration of such pervasive bias on this subject.  Accordingly, I still do not want your newspaper to come into my home at any price.  As I previously informed you, until I see evidence of a significant change in your policy toward Israel, I will not consider subscribing to your paper again.  Please do not bother to send me any more offers.

Howard Rosenthal
Sarasota, Florida

An Open Letter to the Leadership of the Presbyterian Church

Sent by Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, Senior Rabbi, Stephen Wise Free Synagogue

June 23, 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Faith:

There is a Jewish folktale that defines a friend as one who knows what gives his comrade pain. If we do not know what gives our fellow pain, we cannot be a friend. You have caused us deep pain, the kind of pain that penetrates the heart.

Our friendship has been ruptured not because we may disagree on any specific policy of the government of Israel. Good friends often disagree with, and criticize each other. Rather, you have evolved views that come perilously close to classic Christian animosity towards Judaism.

The recently-published study guide Zionism Unsettled is a disgrace. It is an anti-Zionist screed in the guise of intellectual depth. It is propaganda, a hit job that pulls out a few Jewish writings - frequently out of context - to support the anti-Zionist points you want to make. Every single page of the study guide is flawed and biased.

What don't you accuse Zionism of: ethnic cleansing, racial and religious superiority, and exclusiveness! The guide even goes so far as to compare Zionism with Nazism. You ask whether Paul Tillich, an advocate of Zionism, might have expressed the same prophetic critique against Zionism as he did against Nazism if he only knew how Zionism would develop. (p.38) Have you strayed so far from Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich that you would now seriously suggest that were they alive today Tillich and Niebuhr would be anti-Zionists?

You criticize Israel incessantly. But you are silent about Arab rejectionism, intolerance, and terrorism. Your minds are made up. There is little reflection, little sophistication, and little effort to understand underlying causes. There is only superficial bias: no depth of analysis and no friendship. You even ignore the reality that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christians are comfortable and safe, and Christian holy places are protected and open to all.

It is, indeed, tragic that there is violence in Israel and Palestinian territories. You are not the only liberal movement that seeks peace. We, too, have been fighting for peace our entire lives. But it is even more tragic that Israel has been left with no alternative but to fight against those who have never recognized her and have made it their cause to destroy her.

It is easy to sit in a convention center and debate philosophy and policy far removed from the realities of daily life. It is easy to write resolutions if you have never experienced the fear of sending your children to school in the morning and worrying about whether they will come home at night. It is easy to voice noble sentiments of love and brotherhood if you have never had to don gas masks or spend days on end in an underground shelter. It is easy to condemn the walled section of the security barrier in Bethlehem, utterly ignoring why the security apparatus was built in the first place: That Palestinian terrorists simply crossed into Israel and murdered and maimed thousands of Israelis or climbed onto rooftops in Bethlehem and sniped at Israeli civilians, shooting into homes, schools, shops and playgrounds.

Is it too much to expect fellow liberal believers to take context into account: to understand that our lives are not only about the religious ideal, but also about the real? Is it too much to expect some understanding and some sympathy from fellow religious liberals that we live in an imperfect world, and that we must struggle for justice in the world as it is? Instead, you voice what sounds to us paltry pieties and self-satisfied sanctimonies about peace and "our love for our Jewish brothers."

The test is not whether you can quote religious chapter and verse. The test is to apply religious values to a difficult reality where it takes two to love and two to practice brotherhood and two to make peace. You cannot make peace by yourself. You act as if Israel alone has the sole power and responsibility to make peace: that the Palestinians are potted plants, victims who have no power, no influence and no responsibility.

We hoped that fellow liberals would understand the full complexities of the Middle East. We hoped that fellow liberals would work with us to advance the cause of peace. Instead, you have placed yourselves on the other side. You are on the side of Israel's foes, whether this was your intention or not.

While you attack what you perceive as the exclusivist and even racist elements of Judaism, you mention in Zionism Unsettled the inclusive nature of Islam (p.50). I have no doubt that many Muslims are inclusive. I have met, and deeply respect, many of them, and we have worked together in common cause.

But it is dishonest to ignore the reality that Israel, and the West itself, are fighting not that part of Islam that is inclusive, but the part that is rejectionist. Moderate Muslims are allies in this struggle. If only Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, or just the individual teenager who blows himself up in a restaurant or a hospital were to have read your study guide and be convinced that true Islam is the way of moderation.

In the most recent Anti Defamation League survey, 93% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza express anti-Semitic views. In Lebanon the number is 78%; in Saudi Arabia, 74%, in Jordan, 81%, in Iran, 56%, and throughout the Middle East and North Africa, 74% of the population has an anti-Jewish worldview.

At this moment of anti-humanitarian, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, anti-women's rights, anti-gay, anti-pluralistic, anti-Western tribal savageness in the Middle East - this is the moment that you chose to divest from companies trading with Israel? There is no mention of Israel's fundamental democratic character or sympathy for its struggle to survive in the world's worst neighborhood, encountering challenges the likes of which no other democracy in the world must face.

Divestment is shameful. Boycotting enterprises trading with Israel is reminiscent of dark chapters in Jewish-Christian relations that we thought were forever behind us. You have fallen in with a bad crowd, morally, philosophically and religiously. No matter how much you seek to explain or distinguish, you have fallen in with the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) crowd. These are among the worst and most implacable of Israel's enemies. They are not in favor of what you say you support: two states living side-by-side in peace.

In fact, you will forgive me if I voice my doubts about whether you really do believe in a two-state solution. You made a point of emphasizing Israel's right to exist in the divestment resolution. But if, in your view, Zionism was born in original sin, why uphold Israel's right to exist? If the very basis and purpose of Zionism was to dispossess another people, as you claim in Zionism Unsettled, why now uphold, justify and cleanse a philosophy that you consider ethnic cleansing?

Rather, isn't it more natural first to have an anti-Zionist philosophy, and then to pass resolutions expressing it? That is usually how life unfolds. Statements follow beliefs. All your protestations, clarifications and softening language notwithstanding, your words speak volumes because your beliefs are clear.

You should not be comforted by the relative handful of Jewish activists and academics you have found to support your views. We are a famously argumentative, intellectually pluralistic and ideas-loving people. Jews have always disagreed with each other on everything, including as you point out, on Zionism, itself. Your Jewish supporters are marginal and unrepresentative and cannot be the slender reed upon which to justify your anti-Zionism or renew a productive partnership, if that is even what you want.

Finally, and I say this with the deepest respect, and with no intention to offend: It is not for you to decide what constitutes legitimate Jewish devotion to God. That is for Jews to decide. It is not for you to decide whether Zionism is a legitimate expression of Judaism; that is for Jews to decide. It is for you to decide only whether you will respect our understanding of Judaism.  

Perhaps there is some consolation that the vote on the divestment resolution was so close. On the other hand, the fact that it was so close in the first place is deeply concerning.

I join you in praying for peace; may it come speedily in our day. May we work ceaselessly to bring about that day when all shall sit under vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid: a day when justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Be'shalom,
In peace,


Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch
Senior Rabbi, Stephen Wise Free Synagogue
New York City