31 July 2007

Bar Kamtza's Heritage

Modern Orthodoxy Under Attack

{more on Noah Bar Kamtza, see below}

Noah Feldman's intimate critique in the Times seen as raising the question of how to deal with Jews who marry out
Gary Rosenblatt - Editor And Publisher

However tempting, it would be a mistake to dismiss Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman’s personal and pointed critique of Modern Orthodoxy in The New York Times Magazine last Sunday (“Orthodox Paradox”) as merely The Big Kvetch.

His essay, sure to provide fodder for numerous sermons this Shabbat, is a long and bitter complaint that despite his numerous and remarkable professional accomplishments, he has been snubbed by the Brookline, Mass., yeshiva high school from which he graduated with honors in the 1980s.

Despite the fact that Feldman was

valedictorian of his class at Harvard, a Rhodes Scholar and Truman Scholar who completed his doctorate at Oxford in record time and went on to help craft the Iraqi constitution, he and his then-girlfriend were literally

cropped out of a reunion picture of Maimonides School graduates published in the alumni newsletter some years ago, and none of the personal updates he has sent in since have been published. Why? Because the girlfriend — now wife — is Korean-American. Not Jewish.

And Feldman, who aptly describes the yeshiva’s goals of “reconciling the vastly disparate values of tradition and modernity” as seeking to combine “Slobodka and St. Paul’s,” maintains that he has been rejected by his community despite the fact that he has “tried in my own imperfect way to live up to values that the school taught me, expressing my respect and love for the wisdom of the tradition while trying to reconcile Jewish faith with scholarship and engagement in the public sphere.”

Poor Noah, one may think on first read. How primitive and unfair for his former yeshiva to refuse to publicly acknowledge his successes.

But as one continues to read Feldman’s essay, we see that it is he who is unfair in expecting to be lauded by a community whose values he has rejected and in crafting an intellectually dishonest case for himself.

Still, the implicit and more lasting question raised by the essay is how should the Jewish community in general, and the Orthodox community in particular, deal with Jews who have married out?

Sending a message to our children that we deeply value in-marriage for social, religious and communal reasons is all well and good, but what do we do after the fact, once they’ve chosen a non-Jewish partner and conversion is not a part of the conversation?

Unfair Arguments

As for Feldman’s arguments, in insisting that Maimonides himself, the 12th century rabbinic scholar and philosopher, believed that knowing the world was the best way to know God, he ignores the fact that it was Maimonides who codified Jewish law, established the 13 principles of faith, and insisted on adherence to halacha.

Feldman then goes on at some length to cite Jewish law’s tensions over violating the Sabbath to save the life of a non-Jew. But he fails to mention that the dispute is Talmudic, not practical; no Modern Orthodox doctor would hesitate to treat a non-Jew on the Sabbath.

Perhaps most upsetting, and unjust, the only allegedly Modern Orthodox Jews Feldman describes in his essay besides Sen. Joseph Lieberman are Yigal Amir, the assassin of Yitzchak Rabin, and Baruch Goldstein, the American-born physician who murdered 29 Arabs in Hebron in 1994. The two are cited as examples of men who took Jewish imperatives to their logical conclusion by committing murder.

“That’s like judging the peacock by its feces,” noted Rabbi Saul Berman, a scholar and former head of Edah, an organization that promoted Modern Orthodox values.

Indeed, no serious Modern Orthodox Jew is unaware of the tensions between upholding the Torah law and recognizing the values and benefits of Western democratic ideals. Rabbi Berman credits Feldman with pointing out the need to explore such tensions, which when unrecognized or out of balance can produce an Amir of Goldstein, “but it’s not fair to judge the system” by such aberrations, he maintains.

Psychic Pain

In the end, Feldman’s essay is less about Modern Orthodoxy than about his own psychic pain over being rejected. He wants it all: to be embraced if not applauded by the Jewish community whose values he has discarded by marrying out.

As Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, senior scholar at Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, noted in a letter sent to The Times, “fealty to Jewish tradition requires more than a ‘mind-set’ expressing ‘respect and love’ for its teachings; it presupposes certain fundamental normative behaviors. America is a country of choices, but choices have consequences and not every choice is equal. It is unrealistic for Mr. Feldman to expect to maintain good standing in a community whose core foundational behavioral — as well as value — system he has chosen to reject.”

Judaism is not alone in this attitude. Witness, for example, the Catholic Church’s discomfort with former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a divorced Catholic who favors abortion rights, or any religious faith’s attitudes toward members who publicly violate its tenets.

But Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, author and television personality (“Shalom in the Home”), cautions against alienating some of our best and brightest Jews who marry out. Rabbi Boteach has been a friend of Feldman’s since he served as a rabbi at Oxford University where Feldman studied for two years in the early 1990s. In an essay in the Jerusalem Post this week, Rabbi Boteach says that in addition to the “ethical and humanitarian considerations” regarding ostracizing those who intermarry, the approach is ineffective, with intermarriage rates so high.

He argues that the community has a far better chance of winning over the non-Jewish spouse and the Jewish partner through welcoming behavior rather than shunning the couple.

This inreach vs. outreach debate has been part of the American Jewish landscape for a number of years, but there are those who suggest a more nuanced approach.

“There is a difference between a personal and a communal response to intermarrieds,” noted one Jewish educator who knows Feldman from Maimonides School. It’s one thing, he said, to have a personal relationship (and one wonders if Feldman would have felt less hurt if someone from the alumni office had explained the decision not to print his picture). “But for the school not to crow about a graduate who married out — how could he think otherwise?”

Cropping Feldman and his wife out of the photo was “unconscionable,” according to Steven Bayme, national director of contemporary Jewish life at the American Jewish Committee and a graduate of Maimonides School. But he noted that even Feldman acknowledged every minority group requires boundaries to maintain and preserve its own identity and that marrying out is viewed with disfavor by every denomination of Judaism.

“The price for the individual may be tragic,” Bayme said, “but the loss is far more destructive for the community in terms of cultural distinctions and communal cohesion if you remove the boundaries.”

Irreconcilable Issue

What Feldman’s essay points up is that intermarriage is the irreconcilable issue for those who argue that American and Jewish values are compatible. “We’ve sold a lot of Jews a bill of goods when we’ve told them there are no contradictions between being a good Jew and an American,” noted Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University. “In America you are taught you can marry anyone you fall in love with, but Judaism argues that we are a minority culture and will only survive if Jews marry other Jews.”

Sarna chairs an American Jewish Committee task force on attitudes toward non-Jews in the community, and asserts that with an estimated 1.7 million non-Jews living in Jewish households — to put it another way, about 23 percent of those living in Jewish households are not Jewish — this is “a very important debate” for the community to engage in.

Citing the “magnitude” of the issue and the “bitterness that drips out” of Feldman’s essay, Sarna suggests that perhaps it is time for the community to reconsider ways to draw people in rather than ignore or shun them, especially when there are indications that many non-Jews are supportive of raising their children as Jews.

Others would argue that the community already has tilted so far toward outreach and acceptance of non-Jews that there is little incentive left for them to convert to Judaism.

What Noah Feldman has done, consciously or not, is raise some important issues, less about his old yeshiva and Modern Orthodoxy per se than about dealing with Jews who do not see marrying out as leaving the fold.

Conversion is the most obvious and desired solution, but for those who eschew that option, we need to explore ways to encourage their positive exposure to Jewish life.

Feldman would argue that just because he intermarried does not mean he chose to separate himself from his heritage. But being Jewish means not only incorporating the values and traditions, but also remaining part of a community.

For all of Feldman’s candor in the essay, he has nothing to say about where he fits into the community, if at all; whether he wanted his wife to convert; whether they are raising their children as Jews or not; or his feelings about all this. He only owes us such information if he wants our understanding and empathy, which clearly he does.

He does owe Modern Orthodoxy an apology for pinning it with his anger over rejection, knowing full well the rules of engagement. But we in turn owe him a sense of gratitude for a wake-up call, however unpleasant, about the need to struggle more deeply and honestly with the moral and religious tensions and contradictions in Modern Orthodoxy that can never be reconciled, and about learning how to deal more sensitively with those on the outside who may be calling out — in anger and loneliness — for a way back in.

E-mail: Gary@jewishweek.org

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Bar Kamtza Speaks

Q&A With the Author of “Orthodox Paradox”
Joey Kurtzman, July 23, 2007

Noah Feldman
Marrying a shiksa?

TAGS: Education Intermarriage Kookiness Mitt Romney Modern Orthodox Noah Feldman The New York Times Magazine Tradition

Noah Feldman’s “Orthodox Paradox,” an article published in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, is a shanda fer da goyim, a skewed and distasteful takedown that invites non-Jews to gawk at the internal problems of a modern Orthodox Jewish community. Or maybe it’s a poignant and brave discussion of the challenges of bringing a traditional faith into modern life, written by a man who cherishes his people. Either way, it’s kicked up a storm of impassioned chatter throughout the interweb, where you can find both these judgments and many more.

“Orthodox Paradox” hits on themes close to Jewcy's editorial heart, what with Feldman trying to figure out what a cosmopolitan Jew’s to do with this bewildering, antiquated faith that we just can't seem to leave behind. So we had to pick his brain a bit. Feldman, a professor at Harvard Law School who was raised modern Orthodox, agreed to answer my questions via e-mail.

In the hot seat: Noah Feldman

Why did you write this article?

These are issues I've been thinking about for a long time, and that have recurred again and again in my work on the U.S. and the Muslim world. My thinking on those topics is influenced by my education in the modern Orthodox world, and I came to think that others might be engaged with similar issues.

You were surprised when Maimonides—the yeshiva from which you graduated—airbrushed out you and your (non-Jewish) wife from a photo published in the alumni newsletter. Your surprise struck many readers as rather strange, since the community makes no secret of its rejection of intermarriage. It’s a bit as if you’d pulled out a bag of pork rinds, devoured them with relish throughout the evening, and then expressed bewilderment when someone asked you if you'd set them aside until later. What are your critics missing here?

My classmates are great. As it happens, the reunion was lots of fun and we were all warm towards one another, as one would hope. What is troubling about the view you describe—which I never sensed from my classmates—is its implication that somehow modern Orthodox people should be protected from my living my life as I choose. As if choice of life partner were as trivial as a snack. Going to a reunion is a perfectly normal part of life, and choosing not to attend, in order to shield people from my life, would be absurd. People who are comfortable with their own life choices don't get "offended" when others choose differently.

Along with some areas of the African-American community, Jews seem to be one of the only groups in America that can raise holy hell about intermarriage and get away with it. Why do you think this is? And if this aversion to intermarriage is harmful to our community, do you think we would benefit from more external criticism for it?

The comparison to the African American context is intriguing and complex—see Randall Kennedy's book Interracial Intimacies. I do think we need some serious reflection on how best to achieve the goal of continuity. Chabad certainly pursues this goal through practices of inclusion, and I think the rest of the Jewish world could learn a lot from them in this regard. As for criticism, from within or without, I think honesty is the best course.

A teacher of yours argued that Jews should only break Shabbat to save the life of a non-Jew if doing so protects the wellbeing of the Jewish community. He later apologized—but only because he’d said it in front of non-Jews. The idea is that we must watch our words around non-Jews, lest we reveal something about our traditions that will cause them to hate us or harm us. I’m struck by how similar this seems to the controversial Islamic concept of taqiya (utilized by Shia and Druze); that is, the deception of outsiders to protect the community. Is this an accurate comparison? Do Orthodox Jews essentially practice taqiya?

All oppressed communities must surely share the impulse to dissimulation. It includes taqiya but also, for example, casuistical texts allowing Catholics and Protestant to dissimulate when tortured by each other in early modern Europe. But in today's world of readily accessible information, little religious doctrine can remain secret. Anyone with a search engine could find plenty of texts dealing with the issues I discuss in the article—see for example, David Berger's scholarly article "Jews, Gentiles, and the Modern Egalitarian Ethos: Some Tentative Thoughts." What I find unconvincing is the argument that we are better off being silent about these lest they come into common currency or debate. They are already out there, and have been for centuries.

Throughout the piece you identify some very stark contradictions between what you call the "moral substructures" of traditional Judaism and modern life. For example, this debate about saving the life of a non-Jew on Shabbat conflicts drastically with the idea that all lives are of equal value. But then, after laying out these troubling contradictions, you finish the article by throwing your hands in the air and asking "Isn't everyone's life a mass of contradictions?" Isn't that a cop-out? If Judaism is anything, it's the refusal to live incoherently. If we’re serious about the business of adapting the tradition to modern life, don't we need to make tough decisions about what to do with these contradictions, and which aspects of the tradition ought to be deemphasized or reinterpreted? Is it really enough to say, "Gosh, life is so complicated!" and leave it at that?

By writing this piece I am precisely not "leaving it at that." Nor, I suspect, are the most thoughtful among the modern Orthodox and other streams of Judaism, who really are trying to live coherent lives, as I am.

Should Jews take a strong stand against the rules for breaking Shabbat to save a life of a non-Jew? Should religious leaders simply say that this teaching is obsolete and irrelevant, and that today we break Shabbat to save the life of a non-Jew for the simple reason that, as the Jewish doctor in your story said, "a human being is a human being"? And are Orthodox rabbis capable of saying such a thing?

I think my own ethical view is pretty clear. There are various positions in this debate, but the doctor's view could certainly have been expressed by someone with rabbinical ordination.

In your discussion of Baruch Goldstein’s 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinians at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, you write that "It would be a mistake to blame messianic modern Orthodoxy for ultranationalist terror." But you also describe how Goldstein attended services in which he heard the Biblical commandment to "erase the memory of [the Amalekites] from beneath the heavens," and would have been taught that the Amalekites rise again in every generation as the Jewish people’s enemies of the day. So it seems fairly straightforward for Goldstein to have concluded, based on things he’d heard in synagogue, that the Palestinians were today’s Amalekites and that he ought to kill as many as possible.

So my question is this: There is much talk these days about the responsibility of Muslim scholars and holy men to promote a kindly, magnanimous version of their faith, one which will not incite violence against nonbelievers. Do you believe that the Goldstein affair indicates that the Jewish community also ought to examine our faith and teachings to ensure that we are promoting no hatred or violence toward non-Jews?

The Islamic ethics of violence are undergoing a rapid and worrisome transformation for the worse. Muslim scholars—and all Muslims—have a duty to examine their own tradition. Jews have an analogous responsibility. It is easy to let ourselves off the hook and think of Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir as isolated figures. But we need to reflect on how their actions were connected to the ultranationalist messianic settler movement and its ties to mainstream Judaism. And these actions have had global consequences. What would the Mideast look like today if Rabin had lived?

Do you think Mitt Romney's Mormonism is kookier than other traditional belief systems? Are there any traditional communities in the United States whose practices you would find worthy of scrutiny if one of their members were running for President?

There is nothing wrong with scrutinizing the beliefs of candidates who say their religion influences their political judgments, but there is also no reason not to vote for someone just because he is a Latter Day Saint. There is nothing inherently less convincing about ascribing prophecy to Joseph Smith than to Moses or Muhammad. It always requires faith—whether a leap or some other acrobatic movement—to enter into the full consciousness of the religious person.

Many blog posts have already been written about your article. Are there any that you found particularly insightful? Any that led you to rethink something you'd written in the article?

I spent the weekend playing with my kids and haven't read blogs.

I asked the senior writer of the Jewess blog, Rebecca Honig Friedman, if she had any questions for Feldman. The following three questions are hers.

In the article, you mention your rabbi's rather ridiculous reaction to your holding hands with a girl. How would you have the modern Orthodox world deal with the issue of teen sex? Are you familiar with the OU's neigah.org website, and what do you make of it?

I hadn't seen the site until just now. It is obviously reminiscent of the broader national abstinence movement, and another interesting piece of evidence on the cultural interplay between modern orthodoxy and contemporary Christian evangelicalism. The problem is more challenging with respect to gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews: it remains to be seen whether orthodox Judaism can avoid the cultural trend of the evangelical movement and be accepting and welcoming within the bounds of halakha. As for the question of teen sex, honesty is crucial here. The halakha is what it is, and it will inevitably create tensions with sociocultural reality.

How, in your observation, does the role of women play out differently in modern Orthodoxy versus ultra-Orthodoxy or more liberal forms of Judaism?

Books have been written on this, and more need to be. I think modern Orthodox women in some ways face the greatest challenge with respect to modernity and tradition. I don't want to speak on anyone's behalf, but I will say that much of the most creative Jewish engagement with tradition today is coming from women working within a halakhic framework.

Why write this article in the NYT Magazine? What relevance do you hope it will have to not-specifically-Jewish readers?

What community—religious, ethnic, racial, or otherwise—doesn't engage with similar issues of belonging and membership, tradition and modernity?

* This post has been edited for concision since publication.

Noah Bar Kamtza, why not say what is on your mind? Try:
"It's all about me". "What matters to Judaism is irrelevant" "Who cares if I my children will be goyim. And what business is it to you?"

It is offensive to suggest that ChaBaD condones intermarriage. Noah Bar Kamtza should try learning Sichos of the Rebbe. Noah look at Volume 3, 15th Day of Tammuz, 5739, Sichos In English where the Rebbe OBM discusses Ahavas Yisroel:

3. In the concept of Ahavas Yisroel, there is a point that requires explanation: In Tanya, the Alter Rebbe quotes the Talmud that speaks about those about whom “King David... said “I hate them with a consuming hatred ... the heretics and atheists who have no portion in the G-d of Israel.” The Mitzva of Ahavas Yisroel encompasses them as well. We can relate to an object in two ways: 1) through union, or, 2) through negation. The latter is also a means of relation. There, too, a connection is established. Therefore, even the negative feelings that are expressed towards these people are part of the Mitzva of Ahavas Yisroel.

Though these feelings seem to run contrary to the entire concept of Ahavas Yisroel, there is a point of connection. A similar idea helps explain this point. Torah is called “the Torah of Kindness.” However, in the Torah there are also punishments. These punishments are also an expression of kindness.[237]

The Torah is also called the “Torah of truth.” Therefore, its kindness is true kindness, that true kindness motivates G-d “to wash the filth from the daughters of Zion,” (Isaiah 4:4) with punishments. The aim of these punishments is to bring the sinner back to the Jewish fold and to lift him up to the level of a Baal Teshuva, a level higher than that of a perfect Tzaddik. Similarly in our case, the hatred shown to these people removes their negative qualities[238] and allows us to relate to them, in a positive sense, through Ahavas Yisroel, as well.

Noah Bar Kamtza, did you hear what the Rebbe was saying? The Jews should shun you and avoid you for your choices. M'karev? Absolutely. But you must take the first step. You must seek to correct your wrong doing, to seek teshuva. Do you believe your Rebbeim have nachas from you? Go to them and plead for mechila. Then come back and ask to be treated better. Yes, you should have been air-brushed out of a Yeshiva Day School reunion photograph. Stop crying about it, unless those tears are tears of teshuva. Based upon your writing, I believe they are tears of humiliation. Instead, of trying to be the vatron you ran to the Roman authorities to betray and slander the Jews to Rome. Cheshbon nefesh would do you well.

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28 July 2007


US Jewish groups lobby against JNF bill

Michal Lando, THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 28, 2007


The Reform Movement and other liberal Jewish groups are urging the Knesset not to move forward with legislation that would prohibit Arab Israelis from leasing land owned by the Jewish National Fund.

A preliminary reading of the bill, which was approved by a 64-16 margin last week, would allow the Israel Lands Authority to bar Israeli Arabs from leasing any land that it manages. The JNF owns 13 percent of the land in Israel, much of which was paid for by Diaspora Jews.

In 1962, the JNF reached an agreement with the Israel Lands Authority, established in 1961, that allowed the ILA to manage JNF-owned land.

The current bill is intended to bypass a decision by Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz in support of a preliminary court ruling that said non-Jews could not be barred from leasing JNF lands.

The reasoning behind the bill, according to the JNF, is that "the land purchased by the Jewish people for the Jewish people should remain in the hands of its rightful owners."

"It's important for us who had a covenant with the donors, that we honor that covenant," said Russell Robinson, chief executive officer of JNF.

"For 2000 years, I don't remember that we were praying and dreaming that we can't wait to establish a democratic state in the Middle East, but we did say that we can't wait to reestablish a Jewish homeland."

Despite this, the bill has disappointed Israelis and Americans alike, and efforts to try and prevent the bill from moving forward are underway.

A letter on behalf of the board of directors of Ameinu, the US affiliate of the World Zionist Movement, addressed to MK Ze'ev Elkin (Kadima), expressed "profound disappointment" with the recent vote.

"At a time when Israel is trying to show the world that there is no contradiction between a Jewish state and a democratic one, every effort must be made to enforce the principle of equality and equal opportunity for all Israeli citizens," the letter states.

Though Amienu recognizes the "complexities of the situation" at a time of tensions between Israel's Jewish and Arab populations, Israel should demonstrate that the Israeli Arabs "have a stake in the country's future," the letter states.

"The bill is not only unfair to one fifth of Israel's population; it also reinforces the growing perception around the world that Israel is an 'apartheid' state," the letter states.

The Reform Movement is in the process of drafting its own letter opposing the bill, to be sent to Knesset members this week.

"We are quite concerned by the letter and spirit of law," said Rabbi Andrew Davids, executive director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA.)

"This is not the time for Israel to be looking at policies that differentiate between different cohorts of its citizenry."

Though the JNF was entrusted with bringing a Jewish state into being, some institutions need to be "reevaluated," said Davids.

"What we are seeing is the maturation of an Israeli democratic society, and some institutions need to be reevaluated with regards to the current demographics. Israel will never be a state exclusively for Jews," he said.

The New Israel Fund also opposes the bill.

Other Diaspora activists, however, support the bill. ZOA President Morton Klein said he was "very disappointed that Jewish groups would not understand the unique circumstances in Israel."

"Israel is not America. It was created first as a Jewish state, where America was created first as [a] democracy," Klein said.

Klein pointed out other Israeli laws that give Jews privileges not available to non-Jewish Israeli citizens, such as aliya.

"Why don't they publicly complain that Jews can't purchase land anywhere in Jordan, our ally?" said Klein, arguing that in Jordan, selling land to a Jew is an offense punishable by death.

Though the JNF was entrusted with bringing a Jewish state into being, some institutions need to be "reevaluated," said Davids.

"What we are seeing is the maturation of an Israeli democratic society, and some institutions need to be reevaluated with regards to the current demographics. Israel will never be a state exclusively for Jews," he said.

Do you spot the failure of lib-think in the above statement?

Mr. Davids is suggesting that he understands that in the past, Israel was "established" {by whom?} as Jewish, "nowadays" we can re-consider the mistakes of history with our bold vision of world peace, arabian and Jew walking side by side, sharing hummous and old stories like retirees in a convalescent home. He hides his dis-taste for things Jewish under the mis-leading feel goodism of "maturation". He closes his vagary with the thought that, after all, Israel will never be just for the Jews. Non-Jews live in Israel, always have and always will. What does this have to do with the equation of the JNF bill?

The YNET article does a better job explaining the current events in Israel which led to the writing of this legislation

MK Uri Ariel, who presented the bill, explained that "the Israel Land Administration manages the land for the JNF and holds the land in trusts. As the JNF's trustee, the ILA must be true to the fund's principles and goals and to the principle of national ownership of the land.

"For generations, thousands of Jews saved every cent in order to purchase land in the Land of Israel for the Jewish People. The ILA must honor Keren Kayemeth's goals and the wishes of generations of Jews, who wished to purchase land that would be sacred to the Jewish people."

MK Ze'ev Elkin attempted to justify the bill, saying "this bill proposal has come to do historic justice and prevent the State of Israel – with the blatant intervention of the High Court of Justice – from violating the basic pact it made with the JNF. Keren Kayemeth was established by the Jewish People in the Diaspora for a specific purpose, namely, Zionist settlement in the Land of Israel."

Leftist libbies are intervening in the trust of generations of Jews who have given money to the JNF for the purpose of planting trees, redeeming the land for the Jews and promoting Jewish settlement in the holy land of Israel. For once, we can say the Knesset has acted correctly. BTW, the preliminary reading of the bill passed by a 64-16 vote.

Another version of the story can be found here.

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26 July 2007

Religion and Politics

Worship Rudy Less, Like Him More
Thursday, July 26, 2007

A new Gallup Poll attempts to measure the impact of faith on the presidential election, and finds that religious Republicans are less likely to consider Rudy Giuliani their top choice. In fact, Giuliani's greatest support in his party comes from those who never attend church. Among those who attend regularly Giuliani still leads but by just a few points over the as-yet-undeclared Fred Thompson.

The poll also finds Hillary Clinton's popularity extends across all types of worship. Within her party she holds a significant lead across all levels of church attendance. In a head-to-head match-up between Giuliani and Clinton churchgoers do favor Rudy, though those who do not attend prefer Hillary by a good margin.

The full poll is here.
Posted by John DeSio at 8:50 AM
tags: nypress, new york, 2008, polls, rudy giuliani, hillary clinton, fred thompson

The data does not look as bad as the article portrays. Rudy still leads in every category only less so amongst the "regular attendance" category. What it clearly shows is that Fred Thompson, upon actually entering the race will quickly take the lead in the "regular attendance" crowd of republican voters which if one can judge by past voting preference, is heavily weighted to the religious attendance crowd.

{see Churchgoing closely tied to voting patterns}

The Republican chances of winning the White House in 2008 with a lame duck president pushing all-time disapproval numbers are debatable. Running a candidate who is distant from the base of the party and who will not ignite a flame of passionate campaigning by much of the activist base of the party is a recipe for electorial disaster.

Rudy does not fare very well amongst those who do not attend religious services often, (these likely being dyed in the wool democrats) and only loses to Hillary (if the poll can be trusted) in this category. What the poll does not do is weigh the numbers in each category. At least the polling data confirms that the godless love the Clintons.

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Just Surrender and We Will Accept You or You Can't Turn the Clock Backward

'Saudi plan means Israeli acceptance'
Jul. 25, 2007 13:35 | Updated Jul. 26, 2007 1:42

Besides wanting to see other Arab countries in addition to Jordan and Egypt take part in discussions with Israel over the Arab Peace Initiative, Israeli leaders told the visiting Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers on Wednesday that they would like to see more public support from Arab governments for the significant gestures Israel has taken over the last few weeks toward the Palestinians.

These steps include the release of 255 Palestinian prisoners, the "amnesty" granted to nearly 180 wanted men in the West Bank, and the regular transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority. One official said public Arab support for these moves was important in building Israeli public opinion in favor of the diplomatic process.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit and his Jordanian counterpart Abdelelah al-Khatib before their meeting that he would "be more than happy if the next time you come you will bring with you ministers from more Arab countries."

In the meantime, Israel expressed satisfaction with the visit of the two ministers who came to present Israel with the Arab Peace Initiative relaunched in Riyadh last March.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni stressed the "historic" nature of the visit as the "first joint visit to Israel as members of the Arab working group, which was established by the Arab League."

Both Gheit and Khatib were careful in their press conference with Livni not to draw a direct connection to the Arab League.

"This is a visit that comes in accordance with the mandate given to us by the Arab committee assigned by the Arab summit to follow up on the Arab Peace Initiative," Khatib said, reading from a written text. "We are here today to present to the Israeli government, the Israeli people and the Israeli parliament this collective Arab peace offer in order to reach a permanent and comprehensive settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on a two-state solution and on the establishment of an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including east Jerusalem, and of reaching agreement with Israel, Syria and Lebanon based on returning territories occupied since 1967."

Khatib said this offer "constitutes a major opportunity of historic magnitude. It will provide Israel with the security, recognition and acceptance in this region, which Israel has long aspired to."

He said the peace initiative has been endorsed by the vast majority of the members of the international community, including and especially the vast majority of the Muslim countries, members of the Organization of Islamic Conference, including more than 50 Muslim countries and 22 Arab countries.

"The initiative will make Israel part of this region and will enable our people and the entire region to look forward with hope and devote their energy and efforts to achieve growth and prosperity and advance the improvement of life of all in this region," Khatib said.

The Arab Peace Initiative, based on the Saudi peace plan of February 2002, calls for a full Israeli withdrawal from all territories taken in the 1967 Six Day War - including east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights - in exchange for normal ties with the Arab world. It also calls for the return to Israel of Palestinian refugees and their descendents.

While Olmert and Livni have in the past welcomed part of the initiative and rejected other parts, both of them steered clear of publicly articulating Israel's difficulties with the initiative during this visit, preferring instead to dwell on the significance of the visit and how it added to the current diplomatic momentum.

"The Arab Peace Initiative has many elements on how to get to peace in the region," Livni said. "Naturally it reflects the Arab narrative, just as we have our principles. I think it would be a mistake today, precisely at this opportunity, to start a type of argument on each of the clauses."

"One thing we don't need today is to show the difference of all the sides," she said.

Gheit urged Israel to begin talks with the Palestinians on more than just a "political horizon," saying a horizon wasn't enough and that there was a need to move to "agreed steps."

He said he and Khatib would report back to a meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers on Monday about their talks in Israel.

"We also intend to propose some ideas," Gheit said. "However, we are not going to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians. We will be helping both the Israelis and the Palestinians reach the destination of a Palestinian state living side by side by Israel in peace and security for both."

Israeli diplomatic officials expressed satisfaction with the position both Gheit and Khatib expressed, namely that the Arab League does not want to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians, but rather wants to support the negotiation process between the two sides.

In addition to meeting Olmert and Livni, the two foreign ministers also met with President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu. They also appeared before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Meanwhile, the Israeli citizenry has a different plan.

Maariv: 71% Say ‘Disengagement’ Was a Mistake

(IsraelNN.com) According to a poll conducted recently by Maariv, 71% of Israelis believe that the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria was a mistake. 51% believe the expulsion damaged Israel’s security, while 30% believe there was no change and 12% believe Israel is now stronger.

When asked about the possibility of future unilateral withdrawals, only 18% were in favor, eight percent of whom said that the IDF must remain in Judea and Samaria even if Jewish towns are destroyed. 74% oppose destroying Jewish communities without an agreement with the Palestinian Authority. 48% opposed destroying Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria even as part of an agreement with the PA, while 42% were in support.

Olmert is clearly being pressed from three sides.
1)Israelis (constituents)
2)The US (Bush/Condi)
3)Arabians/the rest of the world

The job of PM of Israel is not the position for the weak of heart or the weak of spirit. Olmert, unfortunately is weak of both. Which pressure is the one which Olmert will listen to with the greatest attention?

Secy. Rice: Israel Must End Occupation of 'West Bank'.
Luckily for Olmert, this pressure has an expiration date when Bush and his ice-skating secretary will depart from their offices due to the transition (fumigation) to the next administration no matter who wins the Presidency. At least then the game clock will be reset and we start over.

Olmert should be paying the most attention to the Israeli population. Democracy in Israel however does not include responsive politics, only interest group politics portrayed as statesmanship. You know what kind I mean, "making the hard decisions", code language for following the dictates of everyone who doesn't live in Israel nor vote in Israeli elections.

As for the arabians, who really cares? Offers to surrender have come and gone in the past and nothing has changed. It makes no difference whether or not the offer is accompanied by the threat of violence or accompanied by offers of brotherly love. Surrender is still surrender. In the past, Israel offered everything won by warfare to the arabians merely for "recognition".

The best remembered action at Khartoum, however, was the adoption of the dictum of "Three NOs" with respect to Israel:

1. NO peace with Israel
2. NO recognition of Israel
3. NO negotiations with Israel

Today, however the situation has changed. With the growing nationalist religious outlook in Israel and common sense born from the crucible of half a century of being warred upon, Israelis by and large know that surrender of territory does not bring peace. Yes, you may point to Egypt and say that since the Sinai withdrawal, there has been peace between Israel and Egypt. But the Sinai is not per see Israel. Yehuda/Judea and Shomron/Samaria are very much a part of Israel if not the biblical homeland itself.

The arabians are not entitled to this holy land and no Jew could with a clean conscience hand it to barbarians sworn to rid the land of all her Jewish inhabitants. The arabians have no right to this position. Jews, on the other hand can point to population transfer legitimately, being that almost all of the arabians living in Yosh are not long time residents of the land, merely squatters stuck in Israel who came there between the time of the Turkish and the British. The Jews, of course are native to the land no matter where they may have been born. Arabians, of course are native to Arabia no matter where they may have been born. A little bit of truth injected into this discussion either by Israel or the US would be refreshing. Maybe Fred Thompson will be that breath of fresh air.

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25 July 2007

The Kabbalists Have Spoken?

Kabbalists: Great, Miraculous War Coming

7 Av 5767, July 22, '07
(IsraelNN.com) A report Saturday night quoted several important Kabbalists, as well as senior Ashkenazi Haredi Rabbis, as saying that a major war would take place in Israel “very soon.” The reports quoted a senior Haredi Rabbi, Baruch Avraham Rakovsky, who said that during a recent gathering where senior Kabbalists discussed important issues of the day, it was revealed through a variety of means – including communication with autistic children - that a major war was in the offing. However, great “open miracles, such as those that occurred when the Jews left Egypt,” would take place. The events they were referring to, they said, would clearly be understood as miracles, even to those who were not expert in Kabbalistic studies.

The Kabbalists did not reveal the specific details on the war, but said that Iran would be involved. Already, they said, Hashem was performing miracles: During the past five times that Iranian President Ahmadinejad threatened Israel, they said, major natural catastrophes, such as earthquakes, occured a short time afterwards.

Other Haredi leaders last week told their students similar messages, including Harav Chaim Cohen (“Hachalvan”), who said that Israel was in a position to quickly destroy its enemies, and Harav Chaim Kamienvsky, who said that “Hashem will soon perform great miracles for the Jewish people.”

I am not sure what to say about this but I decided to post it anyway. Someone with some time should track down the Ahmadinejad earthquake equation mentioned above. I just want to know when these Rabbis are holding their regular Kabbalah gatherings if you have to have an invitation? I would like to see what goes on. One can only hope they have "heard" the message correctly and that HaShem will deliver Israel, again through miraculous ways. One should also not be too surprised to see the Zionist mentality take credit for the great victory despite the "open miracles". The nature of Jewish history has always been this way. The affect of a miracle on those who experience it wears off rather quickly. This may be the reason why we are told not to rely upon miracles. The Jew should seek to nulify his own need to base his belief upon miracles and have emuna shalem. Torah instruction begins with reishis chachma etc. The actions of man are guided by but not restricted by HaShem except where the intervention is necessary to produce the outcome that HaShem seeks. Miracles produced during warfare are hard for modern people to understand. May HaShem redeem his people now and bring Moshiach soon.

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22 July 2007

Failed Philosophy, Failed State

Israel Education Ministry 'Nakba' Curriculum

by Hana Levi Julian and Hillel Fendel

(IsraelNN.com) Arab schoolchildren in Israel will be taught next year that the founding of the State of Israel was a tragedy (Nakba in Arabic) in accordance with a widespread Arab view of the event.

The Education Ministry, headed by Prof.Yuli Tamir (Labor), has approved adding the Arab version to the curriculum in response to calls by Arab nationalists who requested the “Nakba” version be taught in their schools.

The new directive approves a Grade 3 textbook "Living Together in Israel," which was written by Arabs who left their homes during the 1948 War of Independence and claim that Israel took their land. The textbook evenhandedly points out that the Arab nations refused to accept the United Nations partition plan creating the Jewish State and a new Trans-Jordan country.

"The Arab narrative deserves to be told in Israel," Tamir explained. Arab MKs congratulated her for her decision, though immediately raised new demands. Arab MK Hana Sweid said Tamir should now incorporate Arab poetry into Jewish school curricula, while MK Jamal Zechalke called for "Arab cultural autonomy" under which Arabs would solely determine Israeli-Arab schools' curricula regarding Arab history and culture.

Other Responses
Reactions from the right were very sharp. MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) said that Prime Minister Olmert, as part of his gestures to PA chairman Abu Mazen, might as well propose that PA officials run Israel's Education Ministry. Porush said that Tamir's decision was shameful and should be retracted.

Former Education Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) declared that teaching Arab children the "Nakba" version of Israel's creation will encourage them to later work against the nation.

MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP), a former Director-General of the Education Ministry, called upon Prime Minister Olmert to fire Tamir for making an "anti-Zionist decision that erases Jewish history and denies the State of Israel as a Jewish state. The Education Minister gives Arabs the legitimacy not to recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people. This decision marks the "Nakba" of Israel's education network."

Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman slammed Tamir as “expressing not only post-Zionism but also political masochism... The Israel left always complicates itself trying to justify the other side without understanding that there is nothing to justify.”

Moshe Feiglin, running for Likud Party Chairman on behalf of the party's Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction, said, "If it is OK to teach Israeli[-Arab] schoolchildren that the Jewish victory in the War for Independence and the establishment of the Jewish State are actually a catastrophe, this means that the State of Israel is an illegitimate and temporary body... Yuli Tamir hereby reveals that she does not identify with the Jewish claim over the Land more than with the Arab claim. If we do not hurry and give Israel a leadership that truly believes in the justness of our existence, Israel will be erased from the map."

Tamir's History
Teaching the "Nakba" to Arabs is the latest in a number of dramatic moves by Tamir, a left-wing professor and Peace Now founder who has campaigned against subsidies for Jewish religious education while backing Arab nationalist programs.

Last year, she ordered that maps of Israel show the 1949 Armistice Line, also known as the Green Line, which draws the borders of Israel as it existed before the Six-Day War in 1967.

Reading this title, I would have thought it to be propaganda from the arabians. The Labor party in Israel obviously believes the version of history which reads that Israel's creation was a mistake and the poor poor palis were the victims of western tampering in their own ancient homeland solely as compensation for the losses suffered by the Jews during World War II.

Atheist Jews cannot be trusted. The lefty thought which leads to a self-hating Jew laying the ground work for tomorrow's civil war should be considered sedition. Don't ask me about freedom of speech. Nakba talk is an act of war. The arabians cannot claim the land and those who left cannot come back. Those arabians who are the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those who did not leave in 1948 cannot re-live a past they did not experience, nor can they seek compensation for it. Afterall, they have no real history. MK Yuli Tamir is a traitor and should be brought upon on charges of incitement.

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20 July 2007

I See Your Hoof, Now Waddle Away

Reform Movement's Chazer Fissel

By: Editorial Board Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Several weeks ago we noted how odd it was for the president of the Union for Reform Judaism to cite as his authority, in the course of an attack on Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, one of the 20th century’s leading Torah sages, Rav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik.

The purported fan of the Rav, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, has published a number of other articles in the Jerusalem Post as part of a series labeled “Reform Reflections.” In “The Settlers Distort Judaism,” he engaged in a rather sophomoric discussion of a Mishna and a pasuk and concluded:

The Eternal One gave us the Land so that we might create there a holy community – a task that we fulfill by observing the mitzvoth, both ritual and ethical, that God has imparted to us and called upon us to obey…. Obviously, there are differences in our Jewish world about what constitutes proper observance of these mitzvot. But this much is clear: none of this has anything to do with borders or settlements. Let the settlers not misuse our tradition for their own purposes.

Another article by Rabbi Yoffie, titled “Put Religion Into Israel’s Schools,” offered the following:

Let the State of Israel create a core curriculum for all its schools. Its purpose would be to tie all Jews in the Jewish state to each other and to the Jewish people throughout the world, and to strengthen the central symbols and democratic values of the State of Israel. It would be pluralistic and tolerant, but openly and assertively Jewish and rooted in Jewish religious tradition.

In yet another article, “The Honor of Torah Study,” the Reform leader presumed to capture the place of Torah study in Judaism and airily concluded that,

At a time when the majority of Jews are blessed to live in a sovereign and democratic Jewish state, and that state is obligated to impose a crushing burden of taxation and military service on her citizens, the honor of Torah can only be preserved if those who study it most intensely help to ease this burden by sharing it fully.

Most recently, in still another article, this one called “Fakers and Pretenders,” Rabbi Yoffie wrote in part:

When a Jew tells you that the Messiah will soon arrive, run for cover…. Today, as in days past, those who find romance in the language of the messianic future are embarking on a perilous path. The Jewish enterprise is devoted to the observance of Torah and fulfilling God’s will; messianic claims, on the other hand, are inevitably used to justify ethical lapses, to promote organizational and personal interest, and to glorify military victories or explain military defeats. Modern-day messianic practitioners – including the religious settlement leaders and the messianic elements of Chabad – have been no exception to this pattern. The result is to undermine rather than advance devotion to Torah.

He went on to quote – selectively and out of context – from the Rambam, who, he wrote, “understood that messianism belongs at the peripheries of Jewish concern.” (Could it be that he simply overlooked the Rambam’s admonition, in his Thirteen Principles of Faith, that one has to expect the Messiah every day?) He then added:

But this should be understood: the Messiah will come when God determines that the time is right, and once God makes that determination, we will know. In the meantime all those who attribute messianic qualities to themselves or to others or who express certainty about the imminence of the Messiah’s coming are fakers and pretenders. All those who claim knowledge of God’s will in these matters claim what they cannot possibly know and are guilty of monumental theological arrogance….

“Theological arrogance” indeed. Frankly, the old Yiddish phrase “chazer fissel” comes to mind. Literally it means “pig’s foot” but has come to refer to a hypocrite. Kosher mammals are defined as those that have cloven hooves and chew their cud. A pig has cloven hooves but does not chew its cud; hence it is not a kosher animal. Outwardly, though, a pig gives the erroneous impression that he is of the kosher variety. Additionally, when lying on the ground a pig will typically thrust its hooves forward as if to highlight this physical attribute. Therefore, a hypocrite is described as someone who proffers his chazer fissel.

Actually, the notion, if not its Yiddish expression, goes well back in Jewish history. Esau was reputed in the Midrash to have tried misleading his father Isaac by posing esoteric religious questions designed to suggest his – Esau’s – serious interest in Jewish law (though he was in fact living a thoroughly dissolute life). In addition, Esau tried to create the impression that he was following in his father’s footsteps by marrying at the age of forty, as had Isaac. Yet his choices were wholly unacceptable. Rashi cites the Midrash and compares Esau to a pig, explaining, “when a pig lies down, it juts its hooves out as if to say, ‘Look I am kosher.’”

Plainly, after more than a century and a half of rejecting halacha as a factor in Jewish life, the Reform movement now senses the need to somehow identify with the widespread resurgence of Torah learning. What’s more, after a similar period of denigrating the notion of a Jewish state, the Reform movement has come to recognize the value of harnessing Israel’s institutions as a way of securing legitimacy for Reform’s revisionist version of Judaism.

But they are fooling no one. As another prominent Reform leader recently acknowledged, “Far more American Jews privately express their Jewish identity through social idealism or involvement in social justice concerns than any other expression of Jewish identity – including support for Israel or Jewish rituals.”

What makes Eric Yoffie so reprehensible and dangerous is the dishonesty in his approach. For as long as most can remember, Reformism did not run from it's collective belief's. Halacha was not relevant, the Torah was a guide for moral development but not a binding Divinely written law, Berlin or Jerusalem were the same, intermarriage was okay because the Jews have no chelek, etc. What better way to anger HaShem, if I may be so bold, then to try to re-write Torah, Biblical commandments and Hilcho's L'Moshe MiSinai?

But Yoffie, since his taking over the helm has changed the rules. He frequently talks about Torah and Jewish morality. He has launched efforts to educate Reformist members in Jewish matters and rightly called his Reformist generation (paraphrased) the most ignorant in history. He has called on Reformist congregations to work on "converting" the non-Jewish spouses (say 40% to 45% of the membership). He has described Torah as the binding fabric of the Jewish world and has, at least on the surface supported Israel.

But what is the meaning of all this when he maintains all the same narishkeit that comes with Reformism? Reform congregations are liberal lap dogs of the democrat party and wrap into their definition of "tikkun olam" more of the "Tikkun, Lerner style" and less of the "Olam" of the collective Jewish soul. At first, I considered trying to define all of this but then decided, let Yoffie speak for himself with a few interspersed comments (in green).

We favor a two-state solution...
but we have said that whatever settlement is reached will require significant territorial compromise by Israel....

{Give the arabians whatever they want because Israel is a land like any other. The settlers, of course are the greatest obstacle to peace. Heck, all of Israel is an obstacle to peace, right?}

We were vocal supporters of the withdrawal from Gaza and we have condemned extremist acts by settlers in unequivocal terms...

{Damn those Jews and their multi million dollar agricultural industry and their now destroyed green houses formerly built over the sand dunes of Gaza. They are, er were, you know the greatest obstacle to peace.}

We have signed letters, passed resolutions, and issued press releases on all of these issues, and have done so for many years; our positions are a matter of public record...
{and you can shut up now too}

I would also argue that the approach of the Orthodox world to conversion -- which has become, essentially, to do everything possible to discourage it -- has been a disaster for Israel and the Jewish world, and that this approach is not mandated by halakha
{yes it is} nor consistent with Orthodox practice throughout much of Jewish history.

Reform Judaism is proud of its embrace of modernity;
{In Yoffie's eyes he and his followers are the only one's who "embrace modernity". Torah is modernity. it is the averos of the world which are old fashioned.} its dynamism and creativity; {make it up as you go along} its inclusiveness; {whether you are Jewish or not, you can have an aliya} its commitment to tikkun olam; {Reformist code language for the DNC platform}its commitment to a Judaism that is always ethical;{one that marries two Bobs, converts the other spouse for convenience with no expectation except that they will pay dues to the congregation, advocate the legality of abortion, advocate arab rights in Israel, and as we saw above and most importantly blame the settlers} its belief in the absolute equality of men and women;{especially the homosexual ones as "rahbies"} and its conception of Judaism as an evolving and developing tradition. {we don't need any angry white guys from Europe telling
us what to do. we are modern, remember?}

Furthermore, while it embraces the idea of mitzvot (commandments from God), it rejects the idea of halakhah (a comprehensive and binding system of Jewish law). Obviously, any religious system that is not halakhic cannot be Orthodox in any way.
{What a twisted and warped mind it requires to divorce mitzvos and halacha? Obviously any religious system without standards of observance is no religion.}

At the same time, we are also proud that as we have grown, we have not been afraid to move in new directions. In the past, we rejected whole elements of our tradition. For example, we tended to accept what we saw as ethical and reject much of what we saw as ritual. More recently, we have come to understand that the distinction between ethical and ritual is arbitrary and spurious and that there is beauty and power in many aspects of ritual that we previously had put aside. More generally, our openness leads us to say that no part of Jewish tradition should be automatically excluded from Reform practice and belief, at least not without careful study of our history and our sources.
{basically, Reformism can't make up it's mind and from day to day, and reinterprets major tenets of it's religious belief as the wind blows. This is curiously similar to the psychological condition known as

Nonetheless, as liberal and modern as we are, we assert the clear distinctions that exist between Jewish values and the values of the world. We assert the compelling power of our ethical teachings.
{What ethical teachings? you have gutted them all!}We assert the possibility of religious commandment. And we need to affirm our values more emphatically than we have in the past. {because you are increasingly being ignored}Those who will listen, will listen; those who will not, will not. But we cannot afford to be unclear about our religious message. {the business of Reformism is business.}

"I disagree with Chabad about practically everything," Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, leader of the liberal Reform Jewish movement, said in a speech last year. "But I envy the selflessness of their young men and women who fan out across the world to serve Jewish communities in distress. We must foster among our members the same sense of mission and spirit of service to the Jewish people."

for Eric Yoffie's latest bit of incomprehensible drivel from his Jpost.com blog see The Good and Bad of Chabad

We are deeply concerned about the growing threat to a woman's right to choose. Reform Jews are not pro-abortion; our tradition permits abortion in some cases and prohibits it in others. But Reform Jews are emphatically pro-choice;
{so we do not really care what the "Jewish" opinion is since Reformism trumps whatever Judaism has to say. This is another example of trophy case religion} we see women as moral agents who must be free to consult their religious principles and their conscience and then decide for themselves. {But the men who are fleeing reform congregations are not moral agents. Maybe there are more former Reformist men who see the contradiction between religious principle and the no-priniciple brought on by conscious thougth bound to nothing but self-interest}.

And what is Judaism? It is not only a religion. It is a complex, many-splendored thing wherein peoplehood, faith, and ethics interact. But Torah is its central pillar. Without Torah, the whole structure collapses.
{Yoffie knows the truth but isn't about to jeopardize a cushy job with a good contract by saying that 'you can't have it both ways'. The Torah is the central pillar and those other things determined by it. They are not at odds, on a continuim or balancing each other on a scale.}

We are not Jewish because we like bagels or borscht belt humor. It is Jewish learning and religious practice that make us Jews. To be sure, ethnicity and culture, gastronomy and nostalgia, language and biology-these are all aspects of our Jewish identity. But they are the superstructure, while the foundation that drives it all is Torah, covenant, and faith.
More than a thousand years ago, Saadyah Gaon said it plainly, Israel is a people only by virtue of its Torah.
{again, Yoffie selectively quoting a Gadol in one area that has meaning for him but not willing to listen to Saadyah's instruction in halacha or prayer. Anyhow, it is a welcome comment by Yoffie eventhough he doesn't really believe it.}

But the primary reason I raise this issue has nothing to do with American pressure or public opinion. It has to do with the threat that settlements pose to Israel 's sovereign survival.
{here we go again. It is the evil settlers not the Arabs who are greatest threat to peace}

In 1980, there were 5,000 settlers in the West Bank and Gaza . In 1993, there were 115,000 settlers, and today there are 230,000 settlers. If settlement growth continues, in a very short time the Jewish and Palestinian populations will be so intertwined that separation will be impossible.
{Mazel Tov, he gets it, maybe}

Fully aware of this, some Palestinian leaders have begun to promote a one-state solution as the only way to end the conflict. "Settlements are expanding," they say, "and a state of our own is no longer feasible. So let there be a single state from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River in which every person, Arab and Jew, will have one vote and equal rights." They make this proposal knowing that this territory will soon have an Arab majority and that a single state will mean the end of Israel.
{Yoffie, where have you been the last 50 years? The arabian barbarians have always called for one state from the river to the sea. it is time for the Jews to have the same commitment}

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism
“Gay and lesbian children are the children of God just as heterosexual children are …We understand those who believe that the Bible opposes gay marriage, even though we read that text in a very different way. But we cannot understand why any two people who make a lifelong commitment to each other should be denied legal guarantees that protect them and their children and benefit the broader society.”
{because two Bob's can marry in a Torah world. Whatever is the law of the land or whatever it might become has no bearing on an Halachic world.}

But I too am a rabbi, of course, and I was present at Greensboro. And I would like you to know that, voting as an individual, I cast my ballot in favor the resolution. I did so because of my belief that our gay and lesbian children, relatives, and friends are in great need of spiritual support; that the Torah's prohibition of homosexuality can reasonably be understood as a general condemnation of ancient cultic practice; that loving, permanent homosexual relationships, once difficult to conceive, are now recognized as an indisputable reality; and that in these relationships, whether or not we see them as "marriages" it is surely true that God and holiness can be present.
{this is such a farce it does not deserve comment except to say again and again that Torah is the modern way which brought morality and virtue to the world. Yoffie's way as portrayed in his comments represents the perversity of the world prior to Torah, prior to the revelation of Avraham}

Controlling guns is not only a political matter, it is a solemn religious obligation. {if Yoffie could point to some place in Tanach where "gun control" is mentioned, his argument may be more compelling} Our gun-flooded society has turned weapons into idols, and the worship of idols must be recognized for what it is-blasphemy. {and Reformism has turned homosexuality into mainstream, turned individual's choices into hederim, and temples into shuls. what IS the greater blasphemy?} And the only appropriate religious response to blasphemy is sustained moral outrage.
We are ready for a knock-down, drag-out, no-holds-barred battle against the NRA, which is the real criminals' lobby in this country, and which is drenched in the blood of murdered children.
{I read a clever comparison on Free Republic related to this subject. "Guns don't kill people any more than pencils write mis-spellings". For Yoffie to argue that the NRA has blood on its hands, he will have to agree that Reformism has caused the greatest destruction of Jewry to date. Why? The actions of Reformism, allowing intermarriage, making phony conversions and providing a way out for Jews instead of bringing them close to Torah and teaching them the truth, has repressed to a great degree the Jewish population in the US. How many of reformist members are Halachically Jewish? Who really knows.}

This realization has led to another serious error by some community leaders. Since the only other place for help to come from is the government, they have endorsed the campaign for government-financed vouchers for private education. And in so doing, they have compromised the most fundamental values of the broader Jewish community.
{the Torah and Gemara speak often about government funded education for everyone in America. Seriously, Rabbi Shmuel Bloom of the Agudah Israel -USA, in an article in Mishpacha magazine last month, claims as one of Agudah's greatest achievements the securing of $150-$200 million government funded support to the yeshivas. Rabbi Bloom points out that this funding occurs despite separation of church and state and has been held up in court. Yoffie is just jealous because in the entire US there are only a tiny handful of reformist schools (22 according to
this article)which describes this great growth, all 22, as "proliferating" while the yeshiva day school movement attendance and the number of schools is growing constantly due to increasing demand. (see The Association of Modern Orthodox Day Schools And Yeshiva High Schools for a small glimpse of some of these schools.)In general, there are neighborhoods in Brooklyn with more than 22 Orthodox schools.}

Support for vouchers is rarely justified in such parochial terms. Supporters claim that their goal is to help the poor and improve public education by creating competition. But this is disingenuous. You don't assist public schools by taking their funding and putting it elsewhere. You don't help the inner cities by creating a program that will mostly benefit the middle-class and the wealthy.
{This is pure democrat demogoguery. You do help the schools by making them compete for students by offering the families the best education possible. The money follows the reputation. The market works, eric. But what does this have to do with Torah?} The people who engineer voucher proposals are almost always those with no interest in maintaining the public schools and whose real aim to is secure funding for their own schools. Protestant groups want money for their private academies, and the Roman Catholic hierarchy wants subsidies for its parochial school system. We can now add to the list Jewish organizations that have supported vouchers, or remained silent, hoping to secure funding for yeshivas and Jewish day schools. {Those orthodox hate the poor little minority, under-privileged xtian children. Shame on them}

I am embarrassed and ashamed when I hear such arguments coming from Jews. The public schools were the ladder that we used to climb from poverty to affluence in American life, and how dare we deny it to others.
{How much is spent per student today compared to "back then"?} And I tremble for our nation when I hear the constant drumbeat of attack on our public school system. The public schools take the poor and the handicapped, the abused and the foster children, the Christian and the Muslim, the Roman Catholic and the Jew. They do more of God's work in a day than most institutions do in a lifetime. {such as?} .If our public schools are broken, then let's fix them, but let's not destroy them in the name of a highfalutin principle that is often nothing more than naked self-interest dressed up as caring. {cynical cynical cynical. naked self-interest? like calling non-jews Jews and marrying guys to each other because it feels good? This is naked self interest. Demanding accountability and result from the public school system is not naked self interest but logic and leadership}

Others have steped up to the plate to criticize Yoffie for his quickness to judge.

Republicans blast Yoffie comments
WASHINGTON (JTA) – The Republican Jewish Coalition blasted a Reform movement leader for comparing religious right groups to Hitler in their treatment of gays and lesbians. “We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933, one of the first things that he did was ban gay organizations,” Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said Nov. 19. Matt Brooks, RJC’s executive director, called the remarks “absolutely outrageous, unacceptable and offensive. To have the respected head of a major Jewish organization equate other people of faith with Hitler and the Nazis should not be tolerated in this society.” URJ spokeswoman Emily Grotta said Yoffie was making a historical reference. “He did not say the religious right was akin to Hitler,” she said. Grotta meant "Well, not exactly, I mean sort of but it's not the same as saying it out right, you know what I mean, like he believes what he says but maybe it wasn't interpreted the way he meant it".

see also Jewish Tribune here

In a major policy address here last week, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the newly renamed Union for Reform Judaism, criticized President Bush’s tax policies and the Republican push to curb abortion rights. But the Reform leader reserved his harshest remarks for Jewish settlers in Gaza and the West Bank.
{what is worse than a tax cut or anti-abortion activity? Evil Settlers!!!!}

{Last but not least, we have Yoffie signing on to a global climate change, (I.E. the sky is falling) "plea for action" letter. Since we began way back at the top with HaRav (Soloveitchik), it might be an appropriate time to point out that it is a well known fact that HaRav was strongly opposed to Jews participating in ecumenical gatherings. While HaRav permitted discussions in the public world of humanitarian and cultural endeavors the wording below leaves a reader wondering "where is the Jewish content? Where is the emuna, the covenant?}

“Many of us share a deep conviction that global climate change presents an unprecedented threat to the
integrity of life on Earth and a challenge to universal values that bind us as human beings.” From a
May 2004 letter entitled, “Earth’s Climate Embraces Us All: A Plea from Religion and Science for Action
on Global Climate Change”, organized by the National Religious Partnership for the Environment,
and signed by the following religious leaders (in addition to numerous scientific authorities): Chairman, Domestic Policy Committee
(signatories excerpted)
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie
Union for Reformed Judaism

A nice observation here by Teyku blog

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16 July 2007

Step Aside Farfour....And The Winner Is?

Bee Stings for Terrorism, Replaces 'Martyred' Farfour

Nahoul the Bee

(IsraelNN.com) Hamas has introduced to children Nahoul the Bee, who replaces Farfour, the Mickey Mouse character who was "martyred" at the hands of Jews in his final performance last month on Palestinian Authority (PA) television. Hamas ordered an end to Farfour's life because of widespread criticism of the use of the Disney character and threats of a lawsuit.

In Nahoul the Bee's debut, he vows to follow Farfour's path of "Islam, heroism and martyrdom," according to translations provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

"I want to continue the path of my cousin Farfour," the bee tells children. "We will take revenge upon the enemies of Allah, the killer of the prophets and of the innocent children, until we liberate Al-Aqsa [Jerusalem] from their impurity."

Bees and mice cousins? I suppose if you believe Jews are descendants of monkeys and pigs then mice and bees can be cousins. With the decreasing bee population in the US, maybe Buzzy's friend Nahoul can come here and help the flowers pollinate instead of enhancing the blossming of hatred in the collective minds of the children of barbarians.

Deut 7:20 G-d your Lord will also send deadly hornets to attack them, so that the survivors hiding from you will also be destroyed.

One does wonder if Nahoul will meet Israel's hero the Tzirah who will chase and destroy Nahoul and all his little friends on "Tomorrow's Pioneers"?

UPDATE: 18 July - Palestine Media Watch presents: Nahool's Introduction

Alas, one final farewell to Farfour:

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05 July 2007

Data Breaches, Junk Mail and Pesky Telephone Calls

July 3, 2007 10:46 AM PDT

Credit agency suffers 'misappropriation' of 2.3 million consumer records

Posted by Robert Vamosi

Florida-based Fidelity National Information Services on Tuesday announced a "misappropriation of consumer data" by a former employee of its Certegy Check Services subsidiary.

The former employee allegedly sold 2.3 million consumer records to a data broker who, in turn, sold the information to various marketing organizations. The records contained information on 2.2 million bank accounts and 990,000 credit card accounts, according to FIS.

"We have no reason to believe that the theft resulted in any subsequent fraudulent activity or financial damage to the consumer, and we are taking the necessary steps to see that any further use of the data stops," Certegy President Renz Nichols said in a statement.

As a precaution against identity theft, Certegy has notified major credit agencies and plans to soon notify all consumers affected by the data breach.

Well, well, well...

I have wondered about what happens to all that data, lost and stolen from business and government alike. I have suggested for a few years that the PII (personal identifying information) that has come up missing was not being exploited for fraudulent purposes but being purchased by marketing companies and debt collection companies.

Lo and behold, what do we have here but a disclosure by Fidelity's check clearing and collection arm Certegy, that 2.3 million sets of PII have been sold to a company responsible for filling the mailboxes of America with the pulp of dead trees, only to be trashed within minutes of its being reviewed by their erstwhile recipients. Where are the enviro-wackos to protest this abuse of precious American forestry products?

This discovery is further verified by recent studies including from the Government Accounting Office which demonstrate that while the number of victims of data breaches is quite high, identity theft resulting from a breach is unlikely.

One day, when the facts are beating the hype, people may come to realize that there are "breaches" and then there are "breaches". Those of us who are active professionally in identity theft matters have known for quite some time that there is a difference between a malicious theft or release of information such as a hacking attack and the loss of a computer which happened to have a file with the PII of a pool of consumers.

Click To Enlarge

Hopefully, this story is the proverbial tip of the iceberg and that more marketing pull breaches will be revealed. But names per dollar will continue to be big business for marketers and debt collectors as it is for id theft fraudsters until the cost of penalties match the value of direct mailing campaigns.

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04 July 2007

Oh Dear Farfour, Who Could Replace You?

Hamas Seeks New Farfur

(IsraelNN.com) Hamas is looking for a new well-known cartoon figure to use in its anti-Israel propaganda, according to Reuters. Producers at Hamas’s Al-Aksa television have announced that a famous Mickey Mouse look-alike known as Farfur will be replaced by other famous characters.

Farfur appeared on a show called “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” which called on young children to fight Israel. The show promoted Islamic supremacy, and encouraged children to carry out suicide bombings. The show ended last week with Farfur being beaten to death by an Israeli official. The show’s child co-host, Sara’a, reported that Farfur was killed “by the killers of children.”

Farfour may be dead, (there are always re-runs) rescuing Hamas and the PA from a wrath worse than IDF attack helicoptors, the Disney world wide legal team, but the creative minds of arabian child abusing television producers are fresh on the job, not the least bit hesitant to continue their perversion. But who will ever replace the dearly departed Farfour?

Here is my choice:

Yep, it is perfect. Who better than the double talking over grown rooster with the an ego bigger than his bill playing the role of Hamas (and thus the pali people)? The barnyard dog could be the Abbas Fatah group and the chicken hawk, the IDF. Yes, this is a winner, Foghorn Leghorn encouraging the arabian children to blow themselves up for the cause of chicken liberation. Then the palis will be free to peck the ground of their imagined ancestrial homeland without fear of humiliating chicken hawk road blocks. The martyred birds will come to the paradise that awaits them, 72 uncut stalks of corn. Where do we send suggestions?

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He Told The Truth!!!!! Amazing....

Abbas Admits Palestinian Arabs Not Original Inhabitants Of Israel

June 26, 2007
Contact: Morton A. Klein, 212-481-1500
New York - Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas, in a speech denouncing the murder and violence committed by Hamas forces in their take-over of Gaza, stated that Hamas had looted and set on fire a church which was older than the Palestinian Arab presence in the Holy Land, thereby admitting that Palestinian Arabs are not the original inhabitants. In a speech on Wednesday to the PLO Central Council, Abbas stated that Hamas has been “murdering, executing people on the street, throwing fighters from tall buildings, and looting security headquarters, public facilities and Christian houses of worship. [Indeed,] even the churches were not spared. One of the oldest churches in Palestine, which stood long before our arrival [in the region], was looted and set on fire. There are Christians among us, and they are our brothers, and now we discover that [according to Hamas] they are enemies and must leave [ Palestine]?!” ( Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), June 22).

The Jewish connection to the land of Israel goes back to biblical times and two Jewish commonwealths existed during biblical and post-biblical times. The original Christians were a breakaway from Judaism and date from Jesus’ time. The Muslim Arabs, in contrast, arrived in the land only centuries later, in the seventh century, occupying Jerusalem in 638. Despite the wealth of historical knowledge existing of Jewish and Christian life in Israel, the PA officially asserts that there is no Jewish connection to Jerusalem, that the Jewish Temple never stood in Jerusalem, that Jesus was a Palestinian, and that Palestinian Arabs are descendants of earlier, Phoenician inhabitants of the land. Yasser Arafat declared once that Palestinian Arabs are descended from a non-existent Canaanite king named Salem, who supposedly preceded the Jewish settlement in the land:

“Those of you who lit the intifada fire must now act as defenders of this young state, whose capital is Jerusalem. It is Bir Salem [the fountain of Salem]. Salem was one of the Canaanite Kings, one of our forefathers. This city is the capital of our children and our children’s children. If not for this belief and conviction of the Palestinian nation, this people would have been erased from the face of the earth, as were so many other nations” (Arafat in an address in Jericho, August 18, 1994, cited by historian Martin Gilbert, New Republic, November 14, 1994).

At the time of the 2000 negotiations, then-Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami recounted that when Israel was offering to concede sovereignty over the Temple Mount to the Palestinian state, the PA was not prepared that the agreement should mention a historical connection between the Jewish people and that place ( Haaretz, July 7, 2004).

ZOA National Chairman of the Board, Dr. Michael Goldblatt said, “Although Abbas undoubtedly did not intend to let slip a statement that the Palestinian Arabs are not the original inhabitants of the land, he did just that in his speech. This is an important admission because it gives the lie to the Palestinian Arab claim that Jews are purely new arrivals whereas Palestinian Arabs are natives from time immemorial. Despite Abbas’ admission, it is clear from recent events, like the destruction of churches and attacks on Christian institutions in Gaza in recent days that extremism, violence and chaos lies in store for all non-Muslims residing in a Palestinian Arab state, should one be created in the near future, a goal supported by so many governments, including the Bush Administration.”

Abu Mazen must have veered off the script. Certainly he remembers as Arafat used to claim that the Palestinis were one of the nations that were conquered by the Israelites (even though they are not mentioned in the Torah). Or maybe, in an emotional fit forgot the lie that the Palis were the Canaanites with whom the children of Israel fought for many years?

The very idea that the Xtians had built churches in the land and were in the land "which stood long before our arrival" is directly in contrast to the official history of the big lie nation. Why Edward Said (Y'Shm), one of the authors of the pali myth, if he were around would be challenged by this Abu Mazen declaration to create a new myth to justify both stories and still claim that the palis were in the land first. Because everyone knows that the Jews were in the land a millennium and a half before the appearance of Yoshka.

Now if Abu Mazen were to be questioned by the liberal MSM as to his statement (which will never happen because the lack of journalistic curiosity) what would he say? Probably blame Israel for changing the status quo of history, for everyone knows the truth. Tis the never ending humiliation of the arabians.

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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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