31 May 2007

Fred Thompson's Hypothetical Question


By Fred Thompson

Let me ask you a hypothetical question. What do you think America would do if Canadian soldiers were firing dozens of missiles every day into Buffalo, N.Y.? What do you think our response would be if Mexican troops for two years had launched daily rocket attacks on San Diego — and bragged about it?

I can tell you, our response would look nothing like Israel’s restrained and pinpoint reactions to daily missile attacks from Gaza. We would use whatever means necessary to win the war. There would likely be numerous casualties on our enemy’s side, but we would rightfully hold those who attacked us responsible.

More than 1,300 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza since Palestinians were given control two years ago. Israelis, however, have gone to incredible lengths to stop the war against them without harming Palestinian non-combatants. But make no mistake, Israel is at war. The elected Hamas government regularly repeats its official promise to destroy Israel entirely and replace it with an Islamic state. Hamas openly took credit for killing one woman and wounding dozens more last week alone.

The Palestinian strategy is to purposely target and kill Israeli civilians. Then, when Israel goes after those launching the attacks, Palestinians claim to be the victims. If Palestinian civilians aren’t hurt in the Israeli attacks, they stage injuries and deaths.

Too often, they garner sympathy and support from a gullible or anti-Semitic media in the international community.

Israelis, themselves, are often incapable of facing the damage they inflict in self-defense. Knowing this, Islamic extremists are using their own populations as human shields.

I’m beginning to wonder how much longer this vicious plot will work though. International sympathy for Palestinians has diminished as the same Islamofascist extremists have brought havoc to Madrid, Bali, Somalia, London and elsewhere. More importantly, Israelis themselves are suffering so badly, they may be on the verge of losing their sympathy for the people who have sworn to kill them.

Imagine what it would be like to live, knowing that a rocket could fall on you or your children at any minute. Half of those who live nearest to Gaza have fled their homes. Those remaining are traumatized by daily warning sirens and explosions.

The irony is that Israel has the military might to easily win the war that is being waged against them today. They haven’t used that might, in the past, out of compassion for Palestinian civilians and because it could trigger a wider regional conflict.

That balance of power is about to change, though. If Iran develops nuclear weapons, the very existence of this tiny nation of Israel will be threatened. The Iranian regime has left little doubt that it intends to see Israel “wiped off the map.” Hamas is using the same language, not coincidentally, and has announced it will begin launching missiles into Israel from the West Bank too.

If the world doesn’t act to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it must be prepared for the consequences of Israel defending itself.

— Fred Thompson is an actor and former United States senator from Tennessee.


{listen to FDT deliver this talk}

Well, what else is there to say except that someone please hand carry a copy of this commentary to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and to Foggy Bottom.

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29 May 2007

JTA blog: Good for the Jews?

Intermarriage destroys Judaism - does intramarriage equal racism?

By Esther D. Kustanowitz

We're all familiar with the people who claim the secret to Jewish continuity is twofold: Step One: Marry Jewish (preferably really young). Step Two: Crank out Jewish babies (with the conventional wisdom that when it comes to bringing babies into the world, you give until it hurts and worry about Jewish
education later). This implicates anyone who is a) not married b) not married to a Jew or c) married to a Jew but not reproducing for some reason as party to "Hitler's posthumous triumph."

There are also people who claim that proponents of intramarriage are the ones who are ruining everything, and that it's nothing more than racism to suggest that Jews should only marry Jews. "Judaism should be open to anyone! Why don't you just take the sentence and replace 'Jews' with 'whites' and you'll see how elitist you are," they scream. (As Chanan Tigay noted in his Culture Schlock post from earlier this week, non-Jews are even looking to Jdate to provide them with Jewish spouses. This also leads us to be unsure as to whether we should celebrate at early reports – currently denied by publicists – that Leonardo DiCaprio had impregnated his Israeli girlfriend model Bar Rafaeli.)

Then there are the larger communal issues – like how one defines a Jew in this day and age, or whether families who are already interfaith should be reached out to, welcomed, or rejected from synagogue and Jewish community life. And then there are the journalists, who create a vast number of posts and articles in the Jewish press about this issue. We (and yes, I'm a party to this as well) express hopes that our Jewish celebrities should date within the tribe, not because of happy accident, but because it is important to them. But does that make us elitists? Racists? And do we gain anything from the debate other than intellectual exercise?

Beneath this admittedly incendiary post title lies a language infused with violence, paranoia and blame. And whether you're destroying Judaism or advocating racism, no one wins.

In truth, there is no such thing as "inter-marriage". A Jew cannot be "married" to a non-Jew in Halacha. Marriage implies, by definition, a Jewish male and female who are permitted to enter a sanctified state as husband and wife, a Kesuba, a Chupa, Eidim, Harai etc.

Therefore, the calculation of racism is not a real one and merely serves to be a lightening rod used by anti-Jews to raise the anxiety of the non-Jews. And even if Jewish marriage could be interpreted through twisted eyes as "racist", so what? Who really cares what the enemies of Torah think?

Further, the definition of Jew when framed in an halachic debate means one thing and framed within common language means another. Halacha is pretty clear on the matter. The popular opinion is unclear and subject to the whims of the day. I prefer to choose the Halachic approach.

The writer states in her last sentence, "And whether you're destroying Judaism or advocating racism, no one wins." A little retread analysis: Destroying Judaism = no Jewish children. Advocating racism = Jewish marriage with Jewish children. What is she really trying to say? Kustanowitz asks "And do we gain anything from the debate other than intellectual exercise?" Ms. Kustanowitz, yes we gain from the debate. Until the truth is told, maam, the problem cannot be corrected. All the "outreach" to the non-Jewish partner in the marriage is worthless until there is "in-reach" to the Jewish partner. The goal of the "in-reach" should be to promote halachic, normative Jewish observance. A Reform or Conservative "converted" partner where the life-style is no-different than before the "conversion" is window dressing and does not turn a non-Jewish child into a Jewish one. And even if we accept the "conversion", or the "converted" partner is committed to Judaism (in a Reform or Conservative sense) what is the educational message to that child?

Ms. Kustanowitz, there are those of us who will tell the truth whether you wish to do so or not. Whether or not your purpose is to add to the "debate", draw attention to yourself or contribute to the "koola affect" (see the article below about Sodomistic Rabbis) for the purpose of moving the "accepted standard" to no standard, I do not know. However, what the article does not contribute to is Torah. It is as we say, a Torah of truth.

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The Road to S'dom

"Sodomite Rabbis": The History Behind the Conservative Movement’s Acceptance of Openly Homosexual Rabbis

This is a long but well researched article from The Jewish Voice and Opinion May 2007 edition written by Catriel Sugarman documenting the decline of the Conservative movement from a "modernized" halachic structure to a post-halachic model of convenience driven, finger in the wind cult.

This article outlines in a systematic approach the route of Conservatism from Torah Judaism (which it never really was based upon Solomon Schechter's statement quoted in the article):

"it is not a mere coincidence that the first representatives of the historical school were also the first Jewish scholars who proved themselves more or less ready to join the modern school of Biblical Criticism, and even to contribute their share to it…Tradition becomes thus the means whereby the modern divine compensates himself for the loss of the Bible …"

to today's non-halachic Jewish cult. The article continues quoting Schechter:

"The center of authority is actually removed from the Bible and placed in some living body ... the collective conscience of Catholic Israel and embodied in the Universal Synagogue," he wrote, meaning that decisions on Jewish Law are to be determined largely by the practices of klal Yisrael, the whole of the (observant) Jewish community.

"It is neither Scripture nor primitive Judaism [sic], but general custom which forms the real rule of practice," he wrote.

Catriel Sugarman comments on this point (analyzing a statement by Neil Gilman):

This represented a radical break from the traditional methods of understanding, studying, and interpreting Torah. Once the Conservative movement took this decisive step and replaced Revelation with the proclivities of "Catholic Israel," halachic authority perforce diminished and, once denuded of Divine sanction, began to wither away.

The writer has pointed out the distinction between what is called "orthodox" better, Torah Judaism and the non-traditional cults. This very same phenomenon described by the writer arises every time where man-made fantasy social structures in history wind their way into the backrooms of an elite few who steer the masses under their charge in a direction they so desire.

It doesn't matter if it is religious or not, the same being true with politics. The core of Judaic belief in One G-d, the Creator, the Father, the Judge, in large part restricts the fall into absurdity. The Rabbinic system has prevailed and endured as possibly the oldest structured system of leadership in the world. The non-traditional movements have benefited from this ordered process of halachic application and in the same breath criticize it's very existence. However, in discussing Conservatism, we will see the writer explains that the common path of autocracy gave way to religio-populism. It is interesting to note that populism in the political sphere is reviled by the heavily democrat voting "Conservative" membership.

Take for instance the following observation by the writer:
On the contrary, by abandoning inconvenient halachic principles and by not emphasizing personal observance, the Conservative movement made itself the address for hundreds of thousands of upwardly mobile, religiously apathetic Eastern European immigrants and their children who wanted to "Americanize" their Judaism, and for whom Classical Reform was not an option.

The very definition of what we would today call "focus group" politics led Conservatism in the direction in which today openly homosexual Rabbis are a reality. Where did it start? "Americanize{d}" their Judaism seems to jump out. Now there is nothing wrong with "Americanizing" when it comes to liberty, the ability to live your dreams, the political culture, free assembly, etc.

Judaism (except where in common with all religion as it relates to the right to worship as one sees fit) is not subject to Americanism. This point was made clearly by the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe who proclaimed upon his arrival to the "golden medina" in 1940, "America is no different", meaning that Torah is as real in the USA as it was in the old world. It seems the leaders of Conservatism in America in the 1920's didn't consult with the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Another example of abandoning inconvenient halachic principles and focus group based religion is found in the words of a 1958 "United Synagogue Review" quoted by Sugarman:

The pro-Conservative propaganda in the targeted synagogues centered so exclusively on the issue of "mixed seating" that Dr. Bernard Segal, executive director of the United Synagogue of America, complained in the "United Synagogue Review" (1958) that "we have introduced family pews, organ music, English readings. Our cantors have turned around to face the congregations … All of these were never intended to be ends in themselves or principles of the Conservative movement … Unfortunately, in the minds of too many, these expedients have come to represent the sum and substance of the Conservative movement."

As far back as 1958, Segal is admitting, Conservatism was defined not by religious principles but how it was differentiated from traditional Jewish practice and law.

Much of the remainder of the article discusses the "Driving Teshuva" (the permission to drive to the synagogue which was interpreted as carte blanche permission to drive anywhere and do anything), more on Mechitza, egalitarianism, and female ordination, intellectual honesty, political correctness and hardball politics played by the leadership of the movement vis a vis the Talmud faculty of JTS.

The article reads as a recipe book for de-construction of Torah Judaism. Step by Step, Conservatism undermined the yesodos of Torah until it created a new entity, a non-halachic, and non-Torah based religion.

Finally, we wind our way through the confusion of religion and liberal social policy to 5767:

Many see the Conservative movement’s legitimizing homosexuality as "the "Driving Teshuvah" all over again. "The CJLS is again being asked to legitimate a [forbidden] private act in the public sphere. It is the ‘Driving Teshuva’ all over again," said Rabbi Lowel Weiss, who warned against the long-term ramifications of legitimizing homosexuality.

Ya’ir Sheleg, in a penetrating article in Ha’aretz, quoted, "a senior source" who fears the long-term implications for the Conservative movement of permitting the ordaining of homosexuals and lesbians and countenancing "commitment ceremonies" for same-sex couples.

According to Mr. Sheleg, after a halachic concession on the homosexual issue, the movement would find it difficult to insist on any halachic position on any issue.

"If the movement recognizes homosexuals, it will lose its halachic character completely. In that case, we will also have to concede our position that we do not recognize as Jewish a person whose father is Jewish but whose mother is not, and then there will really be no difference between us and Reform," said the source.

Indeed, Conservatism is no different than Reformism. Each seeks it's own path, separate from but nostalgically looking back at Torah. But what did we read above about the origins of Conservatism? the Conservative movement made itself the address for hundreds of thousands of upwardly mobile, religiously apathetic Eastern European immigrants and their children who wanted to "Americanize" their Judaism, and for whom Classical Reform was not an option.? Has Reform changed so much, growing more "Conservative" and Conservatism become so non-traditional that the two movements have finally come to terms, a re-uniting of sorts in the offing? Probably, but first there must be a test.

In the sefer Vedibarta Bam — And You Shall Speak of Them written by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky for this week's sedra Beha'alosecha, Rabbi Bogomilsky comments on the pasuk, "And it came to pass when the Ark set forward... Return, O G-d, to the myriad of thousands of Israel" (10:35-36) asking:
QUESTION: Why are there nunin hakufin — inverted "nuns" — setting off the two verses of "vayehi binso'a"?

The Rabbi explains:
In Aramaic the word "nun" means fish (see Onkelos 11:5). The life of a fish depends in a large measure on its ability to swim upstream. If it permits itself to be swept along by the current of the rapids or the tide, it will be scuttled and squashed. It is only because Hashem has endowed the fish with the precious instinct of self-preservation, whereby it is able to swim upstream against the current, that it can survive and increase.
Jews have been compared to fish. Our forefather Yaakov blessed his children that "veyidgu larov bekerev ha'aretz" — "and may they increase abundantly like fish in the midst of the earth." His intent was that just as live fish swim against the tide, so his children should swim upstream and resist the temptation to take the easy way of going with the tide of fads and crazes which lead to the dissolution of our teachings and the scuttling of our people.

The message of the nunin hakufin — "inverted nuns" — in connection with "vayehi binso'a ha'Aron" is that to travel with the holy Ark a Jew must be ready to go against the tide and proudly stand resolute in his convictions.

Against the tide and proudly stand resolute in his convictions; this is the precise opposite of the development of Conservatism (and Reformism too) as described by Catriel Sugarman in the article. The tide rolled in and took these movements with it back to a sea of confusion.

Yes, the test of movement mergers will be the egos. Mergers require give and take, some things stay, some things go. A new entity appears where two once stood. In the end, marriage is made up of two individuals who unite to become a pair. But, when you know more than G-d, why bother compromising?

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25 May 2007

Ahmadinejad: the Jews Are Like Animals

(IsraelNN.com) Iranian President Ahmadinejad Friday launched one of his most malevolent tirades against the Jewish people to date.

"There is a group that holds the Palestinians under occupation as they protect their mothers and fathers, and presents them as terrorists," Ahmadinejad said. "Do these criminals believe in G-d and the Bible of Moses? They are like animals, they have no belief in G-d. We oppose the criminals who make bad use of Judaism."

Well Imanutjob speaks again. His word's above soooo echo the Midrash's account of Haman's letter to the provinces under Achashveiros. Such polemics are often found in the words of the great anti-Jews of history.

Animals is being kind, its usually the descendants of pigs and monkeys. I do not dare speak for Jewry but I think it is fair to say that Judaism doesn't need Imanutjob's help. We mess things up pretty well ourselves.

Those of us, who in the mind of the President of Iran 'make bad use of Judaism' apparently do not include his Neturai Karta friends who joined him for a Holocaust denial conference last winter. If he really wants to help Jews, and be useful, he can offer the NK crowd sanctuary. It seems that Imanutjob seems to like those type Jews (Neturai Karta) better than the rest of us "animals". In that way even Imanutjob can find a purpose in the world besides as target practice for smart bombs.

For a little background on the most current Haman (and his Lebanese comrade) try The Islamic Mein Kampf put together by David Horowitz.

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22 May 2007

The Dream Presidential Campaign

Reagan Vs. Kennedy

In a year where the Presidential campaign for 2008 is running at a frenzied pace, a year earlier than it should be, and characterized by a crop of less than encouraging candidates (not including the still unannounced Fred Thompson), the above article from NR led me to think about what 1968, 1972, 1976 or 1980 presidential elections could have, without the intervention of the unfortunate turn of history, could have looked like.

On May 15, 1967, then Governor Reagan engaged in a world wide debate on stage with the left's then idolized Sen. Robert Kennedy (Bobby as the world would remember him as) with the Viet Nam war as the subject. The NR story relates how the underestimated Reagan ate Bobby for dinner much to the surprise of the liberal media.

Imagine the presidential campaign that could have been. Not just because Reagan, by the evidence available was the superior debator, not because Reagan was, well...Reagan and not because Bobby, appeared as, well.... as an uptight New Englander, but because the possibilities to put the champion of the right vs. the champion of left up for the American people to see, question, and evaluate. Compared to a possible Hillary or Obama vs. McCain, Guiliani, etc (again Thompson excluded) race, one is left hungering for the greatness that was America's political past. And, more personally to me, I am led to remember my President, Ronald Reagan in all his glory and grandeur. Read the article and imagine with me.

(UPDATE) The reference for this post came from a FreeRepublic posting. FR Poster "always right" posted the transcript of the debate which is post #22 which can be found here.

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21 May 2007

Fred and Cameras...they just love him....

Fred teaches Mikey about camera angles

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The Battle of Cuba

(UPDATE) Well, everyone has heard about it now, most have seen it and those who haven't aren't online. For the record, here is Fred and Mikey,again, well Fred again, Mikey is the burned bread popping out of the toaster.


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18 May 2007

Gavi's Upshernish

Upshernish information from Chabad.org

What Is Done?

As mentioned, it is customary to hold or at least start the upsherinish in a holy setting, in a synagogue or a house of study. Both the mother and father should be present at the upsherinish. In addition, relatives and friends of the family are invited to participate, for it is customary to hold the celebration with many people, recalling the verse:1 “The glory of the King is among the multitude of people.”2

The child should wear tzitzis for this ceremony.3 A person of spiritual stature is asked to be the first to snip off a lock of the child’s hair. On one occasion,4 the Rebbe advised that the first person to cut the hair should be a kohen, then a levi, and then, a yisrael. Afterwards, each of the people in attendance may be given a turn.5
(It is not necessary to finish cutting the child’s hair at the upsherinish. A portion can be cut off there and the remainder cut off at home or by a barber. One should not, however, employ a gentile barber for this purpose.6)

The Rebbe would begin by cutting the hair near the peyos, close to the child’s ear. The rationale appears that since the purpose of the custom is to train the child to observe the mitzvah of not shaving his peyos, the cutting should begin there.7
The hair should be collected and buried, rather than thrown in the garbage. The Minchas Elazar would weigh the hairs and give an equivalent amount of coins to charity.8

Based on a letter from the Rebbe’s father,9 there are many who follow the practice of giving the child whose hair is being cut money to give to tzedakah. In that letter, the Rebbe’s father draws a parallel to the custom of giving Chanukah gelt.

At the ceremony, the child whose hair is being cut should recite the verse Torah Tzivah. There are many who have the other children in attendance complete the recitation of the twelve pesukim selected by the Rebbe.
Some mark the occasion with a celebratory feast. At the very least, pastry and L’Chayims10 should be served. The child should be given an opportunity to recite blessings. Many enhance the celebration with song and music.11


Proverbs 14:28. We have translated the verse according to its exegetical context in Berachos 53a, et al.

Shaarei Teshuvah 531:7.

An association is drawn between this mitzvah and this practice because locks of hair are also referred to as tzitzis. As mentioned on page 12, from the time of the upsherinish onward, a child should continue observing the mitzvah of tzitzis in a consistent manner.

In a directive given to Rabbi Yitzchak David Groner.

There is no difficulty with giving women a chance to participate in this practice (see Kores Itim, pp. 69-70; Ziv Minhagim, p. 105). (Needless to say, the men and the women should not mix, but the child may be brought to the place where the women are congregating so that they can also cut off a portion of his hair.) Indeed, certain authorities advise the mother to cut off some hair. Since she has a responsibility in educating the child, she should take part in the ceremony initiating his education.

S’dei Chemed, Asifas Dinim, Chol HaMoed, sec. 5).

Others including the Skleneler Rebbe and the chassid, R. Itchah, the Masmid, would begin cutting at the place where ultimately the child would put on tefillin.

Segulos Yisrael, Maereches Gimmel, sec. 25.

Likkutei Levi Yitzchak, Igros, p. 355.

Traditional Jewish toasts for good fortune.

See Shaarei Yerushalayim, p. 47.

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What Words Offend Arabs? The Truth.

Children's Poetry Booklet Recalled After Arabs Complain
(Israeli censorship kowtows to Arabs.
When Will We Tell The Truth Without Fear)

(IsraelNN.com 7 Sivan 5768/June 10, '08) Ynet's web site and Arab complaints against a ten-year-old boy's poem about terrorists has resulted in the recall of all of the Nes Ziona municipality's children's poetry booklets.

Ynet boasts that its coverage of the poem resulted in its being recalled.

The text of the poem (Ynet's translation):

Ahmed's bunker has surprises galore: Grenades, rifles are hung on the wall. Ahmed is planning another bombing!What a bunker Ahmed has, who causes daily harm.Ahmed knows how to make a bomb. Ahmed is Ahmed, that's who he is, so don't forget to be careful of him.We get blasted while they have a blast!Ahmed and his friends could be wealthy and sunny, if only they wouldn't buy rockets with all their money.

Poetry competition director Marika Berkowitz, who published the booklet, was surprised at the protests and told Ynet: "This is the boy's creation and this is what he wanted to express. Of course there should be a limit, but I think the there is no racism here. 'Ahmed' is a general term for the enemy. These are the murmurings of an innocent child."

The Education Ministry told Ynet: "The local authority that published the booklet should have guided the students in a more correct manner through the schools. The district will investigate the issue with the local authorities."
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