Saturday, March 25, 2006

March 25, 2006 – Adar 25, 5766





March 25, 2006 – Adar 25, 5766



Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut



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Contents of the Shabbat O Gram:

(Click to scroll down)


Just the Facts (service schedule)

The Rabid Rabbi

Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunities

Ask the Rabbi

Spiritual Journey on the Web   

Required Reading and Action Items (links to key articles on Israel and Jewish life)

 Announcements (goings on in and around TBE)

Joke for the Week



Purim at TBE

photos are at


At our website you’ll also find my complete Passover “Guide for the Perplexed” and a downloadable Sale of Hametz form



Quote for the Week


“A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times,

 who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion,

whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel






If you have yet to RSVP for Dan’s Bar Mitzvah on 4/22,

please do so at

We want to be sure to get accurate numbers to the caterer.


The Hammermans



Don’t forget the Book Fair this Sunday!!!!  Details below

Friday Evening 

Candle lighting Candle lighting: 5:52pm on Friday, 24 March 2006  - Havdalah is at 6:52 on Saturday eveningFor candle lighting times, other Jewish calendar information, and to download a Jewish calendar to your PDA, click on  To see the festivals of other faiths as well, go to


Alef class (third grade) dinner, service and siddur presentation: 5:45 PM


Kabbalat Shabbat: 6:30 PM – in the sanctuary


Tot Shabbat: 6:45 – in the chapel - We are happy to announce that Tot Shabbat will be hosted this week by Gail G. Trell in celebration of her birthday and those of her grandchildren, Max and Hailey.


Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM – Mazal tov to Matthew Zielinski and Jeffrey Rich, who will become b’nai mitzvah this Shabbat morning!  Because it is a “double,” we expect lots of people, so plan to be here early.  Extra parking at Westhill High School and shuttle transportation will be available.


Children’s services: 10:30

Torah Portion:  Vayakhel-Pekuday: Shabbat ha-Hodesh - Exodus 35:1 - 40:38

1: 37:17-24
2: 37:25-29
3: 38:1-8
4: 38:9-20
5: 38:21-39:1
6: 39:2-7
7: 39:8-21

Shabbat HaChodesh
mafExodus 12:1-20

Haftarah – Shabbat Ha- HodeshI Kings 7:51 - 8:21

See a weekly commentary from the UJC Rabbinic Cabinet, at  Read the Masorti commentary at  University of Judaism,  JTS commentary is at: Torah Sparks can be found at Shabbat Table Talk discussions are at divrei Torah via the Torahnet home page: your Parasha I.Q.:’s Torah commentary archive:  World Zionist Organization Education page, including Nehama Liebowitz archives of parsha commentaries: For a more Kabbalistic/Zionist/Orthodox perspective from Rav Kook, first Chief Rabbi of Israel, go to some probing questions and meditations on key verses of the portion, with a liberal kabbalistic bent, go to or, for Kabbalistic commentaries from the Zohar itself, go to To see the weekly commentary from Hillel, geared to college students and others, go to a Jewish Renewal and feminist approach go to .  For a comprehensive Orthodox viewpoint from the Israeli rabbi, Yaakov Fogelman, go to the Torah Outreach Program at  Guided meditations for each portion by Judith Abrams at For online Parsha quizzes from Pardes in Israel, go to Torah for Kids:  Weekly Lesson of Popular Israeli Rabbi Mordechai Elon - and his parsha sheets:   From Bar Ilan University:

Mincha – Ma’ariv – Havdalah: 5:30PM – Mazal Tov to Alexandra Smith, who will become Bat Mitzvah this Shabbat afternoon!




Morning Minyan: Weekdays at 7:30, Sundays at 9:30 AM







The Rabid Rabbi




The Parent’s Blessing


My article from this week’s Jewish Week can be found online at


This morning my son Dan came to breakfast with a subtle rasp in his otherwise crisp, cherubic voiceNormally that would not be a big deal, but with his bar mitzvah just weeks away, every minuscule vocal deviation becomes a major concern.

The human body virtually reinvents itself every day, replacing billions of dead cells, especially on the skinBut a voice change, like the bar mitzvah itself, is among those landmark events that register most profoundly on the parental Richter scaleThese past few months, similar no-turning-back events have been occurring in my household with alarming frequencyDan got braces a couple of months ago, I got stronger glasses and, not long after that, I gave my other son, Ethan, 15, his first shave.

I’ve always believed in hands-on parenting – 13 years ago, I performed Dan’s brit – and as I navigated my Norelco tripleheader down Ethan’s chin and across his stretched neck, gingerly sidestepping the Adam’s apple and juking the jugular, I noticed some real similarities between the two cuttingsSometimes the blade is necessary but no parent wants to apply a blade to any child, anywhere, at any timeAside from not wanting to cause pain, I shuddered at being a participant in such a miraculous molting, peeling away at the layers of the boy only to reveal the manThe blade only tickled Ethan – I was the one feeling diced.

I shaved him knowing that the alternative would be to let him do it himself, something I had tried on my own teen face nearly a lifetime ago, leaving it looking like the West Side highway after a late winter thaw, littered with scrapes and potholesSo I sheared him, and since then have done it twice more, awed each time not only at my holding over him the power of life and death, but that with each stroke I was midwifing his rebirth into adulthood – and my own into obsolescence.

It is petrifying to be a parent, so much so, in fact, that since the Middle Ages Jewish parents of a bar mitzvah have recited the oddest of blessingsIt reads: “Praised is God, who has relieved me of guilt for whatever becomes of this child.” Historians trace this Baruch Shep’tarani blessing back to the biblical story of Jacob and Esau, brothers whose post-adolescent lives took dramatically different tracksAlthough Rebecca and Isaac were hardly exemplary parents, the blessing validates their unavoidable helplessness in opposing Esau’s wayward waysIn instituting this prayer, the rabbis were implying that there comes a point where parents simply have to let go.

I’m having a lot of trouble doing that.

I live with the dread every day, aware that each letting-go is a dress rehearsal for the ultimate Letting-GoI know that when I die, my children’s first act will be to consummate that separation with the ritual cutting of clothing, every bit as painful as the brit milah and shaved chin, and every bit as necessary for further growth.

Everything happening now is leading up to our being left in the dustFirst they crawl, then walk, then ride a bike, then drive a carThe speed increases with each new step, all the while nature is taking its entropic toll on the parent huffing and puffing behind, falling away like the spent first stage of a Saturn 5With each passing milestone, my ability decreases to ensure their survival – and my own.

I remember exactly when Ethan’s math homework became too tough for me and my embarrassment at discovering that what used to be considered R-rated is now being packaged as PG-13“Meet the Fockers” was an education for all of us. But still I hold on for as long as I can, for as long as they will let me.

As a rabbi who has served the same community for nearly a generation, I feel like I’ve said “Baruch Shep’tarani” hundreds of times, as week after week “my” children have paraded across the pulpit and out into the world, slipping beyond my grasp into adulthoodThere is no “Baruch Shep’tarani” for clergy, however, or for GodOnly parents can love children enough to let them go.

Ethan may unwittingly have been speaking for all my other students when, at his bar mitzvah two years ago, he got up before a packed congregation and said, “I’d like to thank the rabbi ... he’s been like a father to me.” I may have shaved only him, but as the kids come and go, I feel like I’ve been shearing the entire flockI cut – they run.

This next letting-go will be the toughestJust after Passover, I will stand at the Torah and watch Dan ascend, my baby in his fresh-cut suit, looking and sounding like a burgeoning man, with the deepening voice, the braces and the first hint of adolescent blemish on his smooth, dimpled face, I’ll whisper a measured “Baruch Shep’tarani,” clear my throat and, in a raspy, broken undertone, let him know how proud I am.

And another layer of my adult skin will slide awayOnly part of me will survive this ordeal – the part that has learned how to hug with one arm and let go with the other.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman is spiritual leader of Temple Beth-El in Stamford, Conn.



The Israeli Elections…


The Israeli elections are just a few days away, next Tuesday, March 28.  While Israeli politics can always be fascinating, this year takes the cake: the party in the lead didn’t even exist a year ago and its leader remains in a coma.  Whatever happens, the landscape of Israeli politics is about to change as dramatically as the landscape of Palestinian politics changes several weeks ago.


A nice guide with charts can be found online at  Other resources for up-to-the-minute information from the Israeli media:


Jerusalem Online will provide live coverage in English from Israel’s Channel 2 on Tuesday afternoon (evening in Israel, after the polls have closed).  Go to the site at to subscribe (free) in advance for an e-mail code allowing you to get that coverage.


The English language online version of Israel’s popular Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Ynetnews offers comprehensive coverage of the election including news, what each party stands for and reader feedback to commentWell designed and easy to find what you are looking for.


Jerusalem Post
This English language newspaper offers a section on its website devoted to the election with a focus on news and analysisNot as neatly designed as the Ynetnews coverage, so needs some time to find what you are looking for. But does offer some additional information on parties that some other sites do not cover.


Another Israeli-based site in English offering the usual mix of news, parties and candidatesA simple guide to the election which doesn't look as comprehensive as that being offered by Jerusalem Post or Ynetnews.  Haaretz site seems to have left out some of the parties standing for election including Green.


If you are looking to get the election results direct from Israel, then the online Israeli media should offer the best coverage of the day. But there are some downsides to the current coverage.  One annoying common feature all the above have is that they don't provide any direct links to each party after you read about themWhat would have been useful is seeing a link to the party that is written about.


Official Knesset site
But while the media sites may not offer the links to the party sites, Israel's own Knesset website offers links, though to not all parties.  Its site can be found here.


Also there’s Isracast, at  - this new source of Israeli news puts current events into historical perspective.  It’s a very good portal to other sites as well.




Fact Sheet:  Israeli Elections

National elections to the Knesset, Israel ’s parliament, are held once every four years, unless circumstances call for early elections. This year, the election will be held on March 28.

Election day is a holiday.

Every Israeli citizen aged 18 or older has the right to voteThe number of eligible voters for the 2006 elections is 5,014,622On average, in 17 national elections, turnout has averaged 79%.

Israeli law does not provide for absentee ballots, and voting takes place only on Israeli soilThe sole exceptions are Israeli citizens serving on Israeli ships and in Israeli embassies and consulates abroad.

Voters cast one ballot for a political party to represent them in the KnessetThe 120 Knesset seats are assigned in proportion to each party’s percentage of the total national voteHowever, the minimum required for a party to win a Knesset seat is 2% of the total votes cast.

Knesset elections are based on a vote for a party rather than for individualsIn the 2003 election, 29 candidates participatedThe three major parties in this election are KadimaLabor and Likud.

According to the Basic Law: The Knesset, the Central Elections Committee may prevent a candidates’ list from participating in elections if its objectives or actions, expressly or by implication, include one of the following:

  • negation of the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people;
  • negation of the democratic character of the State;
  • incitement to racism.

Every citizen aged 21 or older is eligible for election to the Knesset, provided they have no criminal record, do not hold an official position (the president, state comptroller, judges and senior public officials, as well as the chief-of-staff and high-ranking military officers, may not stand for election to the Knesset unless they have resigned their position at least 100 days before the elections), and the court has not specifically restricted this right (for example, in the rare case of a person convicted of treason).

Prior to the elections, each party presents its platform, and the list of candidates for the Knesset, in order of precedenceThe parties select their candidates for the Knesset in primaries or by other procedures.

Knesset seats are assigned in proportion to each party’s percentage of the total national voteIf a certain party received sufficient votes for 10 seats, for example, the first 10 candidates on its list will enter the Knesset.

According to the Party Financing Law, a treasury allocation for election campaigns is granted to each faction at the rate of one pre-defined “financing unit” per seat won in the previous Knesset elections plus one unit per mandate won in the current Knesset elections, divided by two, plus one additional financing unit. New factions receive a similar allocation, retroactively, based on the number of seats won in the elections.

Since a government requires the Knesset's confidence to function, it must have a supporting coalition of at least 61 of the 120 Knesset membersTo date, no party has received enough Knesset seats to be able to form a government by itself; thus all Israeli governments have been based on coalitions of several parties, with those remaining outside the government making up the opposition.

The Knesset member to whom the task is assigned has a period of 28 days to form a governmentThe President may extend the term by an additional period of time, not exceeding 14 days.

When a government has been formed, the designated prime minister presents it to the Knesset within 45 days of publication of election results in the official gazetteAt this time, he announces its composition, the basic guideline of its policy, and the distribution of functions among its ministersThe prime minister then asks the Knesset for an expression of confidenceThe government is installed when the Knesset has expressed confidence in it by a majority of 61 Knesset members, and the ministers thereupon assume office.

Read all Fact Sheets

Dr. Bard is available for media interviews and speaking engagements on this and other topics.

You can help AICE continue this work by becoming a sponsor of the Jewish Virtual LibraryClick here for more information.


And now, Jan Gaines’ take…


Dear Josh,  Here's what I see with 9 days to go until the election.


1. Kadima is still way ahead, hovering between 40 and 35 seatsThey have no clear platform or message, and each of the leaders seems to have his/her own agenda and messageThis is confusing for the voters, who don't like Olmert but who are going to vote Kadima either because they want one strong party, or because it is the least of the worstNeither of which is a very good reason but because of this proportional representation system it is what they fall back on.


2.  Both Labor and Likud are fighting to just hang on to a minimum of 20 seatsNo one is listeningPols speculate that both leaders will be thrown out after the electionSilvan Shalom is making quiet and nice because he hopes Bibi falls on his face and then Shalom can take over Likud (backed of course by the biggest paper in Israel  which is the family of his pushy wife, Judy .)


3. The big debate now is who will make up the coalition which needs 61-62 seats to governThe parties on the right- - -Israel Beitenu/Avigdor Lieberman,  NRP/National Union, and Shas  are all expected to get about 9 or 10 seats.  That would make an easy coalition with Kadima but would upset the liberals in the country.  However, both Labor (Peretz and Likud/Bibi) say they won't join Kadima under any circumstancesOf course if they are both thrown out it would be another story.


4. The saddest sight to see and hear are those thousands of disgusted and indifferent voters who aren't going to vote at all.  My friend Ida Nudel is one of them.  She claims she has hundreds of Russian friends who will boycott the polls "to send a message".  What these Russians don't realize is that this message never works, but they don't understand the nuances of the Western political system so are standing on their principles.


5. There are 31 parties running.  After the big 3 and the little 3, there are 25, ranging from the Greens  to Greenleafs (legalizing marijuana) to Ethiopians, Pensioners, Divorced Husbands Rights, and so on.  I am supporting one of these small parties because the candidate is an outstanding army man- - name of Uzi Dayan- -who is absolutely incorruptible, has been the national security advisor to 3 prime ministers, founder of the Kinneret Declaration, and  is a person universally liked and trusted by people across the board according to the polls.   I see his problem every day- - People say he's absolutely the most impressive candidate but he can't win and they aren't going to waste a vote.  I can see that argument in the U.S. but here what you need is only 2% of the vote cast to gain a seat.  I counter by asking these people would they prefer voting for someone they don't like or trust just because its a bigger party- - - and they say yesThey won't vote principles or conviction.  Only pragmatism.  As they say, "we're used to the bad guys in the Knesset- - -they are all corrupted".


6.  I find a very discouraged mood in the country, especially since we are facing the Hamas challenge  With the ascent of that party, many people are re-thinking the advisability of unilateral disengagement and the whole idea of the road map with 2 "independent" statesThere is alot to be said for this re-evaluation.  Since withdrawal from Gaza, which we had to do, has only brought Kassams dangerously close to Ashkelon,  why should we give up any land to terrorists who will only get closer to our main cities?   This debate will be playing out in the next monthsUnfortunately Israel and the U.S. talk tough but how long can they hold the line against the Europeans, the Russians and the Chinese, who will all cave inWe are not proactive in our foreign policy but can only be reactive to whatever the PA does, and that hurts us.


7.But don't let me leave you with a grim pictureThe country is gorgeous, safe and filling up with tourists as I speakOn my morning walk we saw 5 tour buses from HollandGermany, the U.S. and one of Jewish Russians from the States coming to visit relatives.  So come on over and enjoy this beautiful and exciting place.  Our security is better than ever, and this year has been the safest ever.   L" Hitraot.    Jan Gaines


The Conservative Movement and Homosexuality:  the Latest


If you’ve been following the recent news on the Law Committee (for background, see March 11th Shabbatogram at, you know that a key issue for the Law Committee is whether a new policy adopted regarding homosexuality would be regarded as a mere “teshuvah” (an interpretation of Jewish law), or a “takkanah,” (the overturning of a Torah law).   In the CJLS (Committee for Law and Jewish Standads), of the twenty five voting members, only six votes on a given “teshuvah” are needed for it to become a valid position within the movement, even if it contradicts another valid opinion, and even if it receives many votes fewer than a majority.  But for a “takkanah,” the threshold is much higher.  That threshold in fact had been raised, very quietly, last year.


Currently there are four responsa being studied by the law committee having to do with gay marriage and ordaining gay rabbis, two for and two against.  The most liberal of them has been called a “takkanah,” by the committee, even though the author did not consider it as such when he submitted it.  These are the issues that faced the Rabbinical Assembly as it convened for its convention this week in Mexico City.   Here’s the report I just received from the convention:


There were two matters concerning the Law Committee that were discussed during the course of the convention.  On Wednesday, as previously requested, the convention voted that to establish a takkanah, the CJLS would require thirteen positive votes instead of the 80% previously required(The Committee has twenty-five voting members.) 


Today, at an early morning Executive Council meeting, a second Law Committee matter, left over from yesterday’s Convention business session, was also discussed.  A motion was raised at the meeting to increase the number of votes within the Committee to declare a paper a takkanah (a legislative like decision) instead of a teshuvah.  The Executive Council decided to maintain the current policy of a majority vote of those present at a CJLS meeting.  The chairman of the CJLS was asked to review this policy with the Law Committee at its next meeting in June and report its deliberations and recommendations back to the Executive Council. 


As mandated in the RA Constitution, six votes remain the required number of votes necessary for a teshuvah to be considered a valid halakhic opinion of the CJLS.


Kass Abelson, our CJLS chairman, reported to the convention that the CJLS was following its standard and usual procedures regarding the papers before it considering the subject of homosexuality.  The papers are currently being revised and will go through a second committee reading with a vote anticipated in December.





For more information, go to

If you are interested in participating in our steering committee, contact me at







Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Projects





Are you aware of the Mill River Playground project -- see web site

I'm sitting on the steering committee and we are looking for men and women to volunteer on all levels but one specific need would be to help out with the childcare while parents are helping to build the playground.  I'm thinking that this would be a wonderful mitzvah project for the teens.  For more information, contact the head of volunteers....Adriana Catlett at



TBE Job Bank (the Highest Level of Tzedakkah)


I received this blurb from a student who is now teaching some of our teens at Kulanu:

A JTS graduate student and Columbia alum is available for Hebrew & Jewish Studies tutoringTake advantage of a friendly, fun and flexible learning experience tailored to your specific needsFor details please call Ariela at 646-369-6887 or email her at




Beth El Cares
Cathy Satz (968-9191;
Cheryl Wolff (968-6361;
BETH EL CARES co-chairs
Blood Drive
Give the Gift of Life! Get involved in a short term mitzvah project that will save lives.  
Who benefits from these blood donations? 
People who are born prematurely, people with auto-immune and other blood disorders, people involved in accidents… 
Many people, including temple members, have received blood transfusions in the past and some people need regular blood transfusions.  
On Sunday, April 30th between 8:30 am and 1:30 pm we need 125 healthy adults who are at least 17 years old, 
weigh at least 110 pounds and have not given blood since the beginning of March.  
The Red Cross will provide the “beds”; we need to put “arms in the beds”.  Color War points will be awarded to your child’s color war team!
Contact Cheryl Wolff to schedule your donation time or to volunteer to help.  


Lock of Love

As promised, Beth El Cares will be hosting another group donation for children and teens to cut their hair for “Locks of Love”.  

If your hair is 10” or longer (in a ponytail), mark Sunday May 7 on your calendar.

Guy Sasson & Company will be coming to Temple Beth El to start haircuts at 12:00 noon

 (right after Religious School)Advance sign-up is required. 

Mother and daughter teams will be acceptedRebecca and Cathy Satz are hopeful they’ll both have their 10” by then-they’re close!


Contact Cathy Satz to schedule your appointment.


Beth El Cares Shabbat

We hope you can join us at Shabbat morning services on Saturday April 15,

when we will be hosting a panel discussion regarding Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. 

We will feature at least two panelists, Gabi Birkner, staff writer for the Jewish Week

who has been to the south several times since Hurricane Katrina and has written some moving reports

and Rosaline Feinstein, congregant, who has also written a moving report detailing her recent visit to the south.

The panel may also include some students who recently spent a few days performing mitzvah projects in New Orleans with the JCC.



Rally to Stop Genocide

Sunday, April 30th

2:00 - 4:00

(Group will gather beginning at 1:00)

The Mall WashingtonDC


Carl Weinberg is working with Beth El Cares to organize a group from Stamford to attend this rally.  

For more information about the rally and other Darfur initiatives,

contact Carl at 539-5560 (day), 322-8675 (evenings) or




Spiritual Journey on the Web


Passover Guides


As we begin our preparations for Passover 2006, many questions naturally ariseYou can find my own “Guide to the Perplexed” at out website,  There is also a downloadable form to sell your hametz to me.  The Rabbinical Assembly also has a Pesach Guide, which can be found by clicking on Pesah Guide 2006.






What is Shabbat Ha-Hodesh?


As Passover approaches, there are several special Shabbats designed to get us ready.  They are called the “Arba Parshiot,” the “four portions,” or special added portions (maftirs).  This week is Shabbat Ha-Hodesh, the “Sabbath of the Month,” because this week we announce the new month of Nisan, the month during which Passover will fall.  The special reading is from Exodus 12There we read that “this month will be for you the first of months.”  Even before the Exodus has taken place, the people are given instructions as to how to celebrate it for generations to come.


In the biblical calendar the spring month is the first of month – back then it was called literally, Hodesh ha-Aviv, “the month of spring.”  The name Nisan was picked up only centuries later in Babylonia (or was it Japan?(sorry).  The Jewish calendar later was shifted so that  the new year would be in the fall, where it now stands. 


Here’s more on the Jewish calendar from “Judaism 101,”



Months of the Jewish Year

The "first month" of the Jewish calendar is the month of Nissan, in the spring, when Passover occursHowever, the Jewish New Year is in Tishri, the seventh month, and that is when the year number is increasedThis concept of different starting points for a year is not as strange as it might seem at first glanceThe American "new year" starts in January, but the new "school year" starts in September, and many businesses have "fiscal years" that start at various times of the yearSimilarly, the Jewish calendar has different starting points for different purposes.

The names of the months of the Jewish calendar were adopted during the time of Ezra, after the return from the Babylonian exileThe names are actually Babylonian month names, brought back to Israel by the returning exilesNote that most of the Bible refers to months by number, not by name.

The Jewish calendar has the following months:





Gregorian Equivalent




30 days





29 days





30 days





29 days





30 days





29 days





30 days





29 or 30 days





30 or 29 days





29 days





30 days



Adar I (leap years only)


30 days



Adar (called Adar II in leap years)

12 (13 in leap years)

29 days


The length of Cheshvan and Kislev are determined by complex calculations involving the time of day of the full moon of the following year's Tishri and the day of the week that Tishri would occur in the following yearAfter many years of blissful ignorance, I finally sat down and worked out the mathematics involved, and I have added a page on The Jewish Calendar: A Closer Look, which may be of interest to those who want a deeper understanding or who want to write a Jewish calendar computer programFor the rest of us, there are plenty of easily accessible computer programs that will calculate the Jewish calendar for more than a millennium to comeI have provided some links below.

Note that the number of days between Nissan and Tishri is always the sameBecause of this, the time from the first major festival (Passover in Nissan) to the last major festival (Sukkot in Tishri) is always the same.




Required Reading and Action Items



Let’s begin with GOOD NEWS from Israel 21c 


Israeli documentary '39 Pounds of Love' makes HBO debut  
39 Pounds of Love, an acclaimed Israeli documentary that tells the story of Ami Ankilewitz, a 39-pound Israeli-American with a rare form of muscular dystrophy and his will to live, will be broadcast throughout the US this month on the HBO/MAX premium cable channelThe message of the film'One must never give up hope for love and for life.' More...


Health | Israel concocts a delicious new therapy   
It's common knowledge that a delicious piece of chocolate can pick you up when you are feeling low - but two psychologists at the Traumatic Brain Injury Unit in Israel's Beit Loewenstein rehabilitation hospital are taking the pleasures of chocolate a step furtherThey have set up the first-of-its-kind chocolate sculpture therapy workshop for outpatients who have suffered head injuriesThe patients learn to melt chocolate and shape it, using it to create sculpturesThey then head over to their regular group therapy session - and, indeed, the work with the chocolate appears to have a therapeutic effect beyond that of typical art therapyMore...


Profiles | Israeli Arab restaurateur is a true optimist  
Jawdat Ibrahim, a native son of the Israeli Arab town of Abu Ghosh, has taken the $22 million he won in the Illinois state lottery and invested it in a brighter future for the next generationFrom a landmark restaurant where he hosts world leaders to a scholarship fund for Arabs and Jews, to a tent where Israelis and Palestinians can cheer on their favorite World Cup soccer teams together, Ibrahim is certain that coexistence is possible - the proof, he says, is all around himCome taste the humous.  More...



The latest on-line writing of TBE’s own Malerie Yolen-Cohen: Click here: Taking Stories to Bed - WriterOnLine


And for some funny new Kashrut symbols, head on over to




now for the rest



Harvard Removes Logo from Controversial Paper - Alex Safian
A controversial research report, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," by Harvard professor Stephen Walt and University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer, no longer sports the Harvard or Kennedy School of Government logos on the version available from the Harvard websiteA new, much more prominent disclaimer on the front page reads: "The two authors of this Working Paper are solely responsible for the views expressed in it.(CAMERA)  (SEE FULL FACT SHEET BELOW)



Fact Sheets

#44: Pseudo-Scholarship on Israel From Harvard*

(March 22, 2006)

By Mitchell Bard

To read the entire fact sheet, or if any of the links fail to operate correctly, go to


Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government has published* a paper, “The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” by Stephen Walt, the academic dean of the school, and John Mearsheimer a University of Chicago political scientist, that is one of the most flawed pieces of propaganda masquerading as scholarship to be produced in recent years.

This 41-page “working paper” has an astounding 40 additional pages of footnotes, many from post-Zionists and anti-Israel sources, in an apparent effort to give this diatribe against Israel and its supporters the veneer of respectabilityThe distortions and outright inaccuracies in the paper demonstrate, however, that documentation does not make a paper scholarly.

Relations With Israel

In the second paragraph, the authors make the astounding statement that since 1967 “the centerpiece of U.S. Middle East policy has been its relationship with Israel” (p. 1)Relations with Israel have since 1948 been only one of five interests the United States has in the regionThe others are oil, economics, stability, and securityFrom 1967 to 1989, the Cold War shaped U.S. policy far more than concern with Israel and, since 1989, a variety of other interests have occupied policymakers attention, including two wars in Iraq and terrorismMoreover, policy toward Israel is driven largely by the desire to increase regional stability and security to insure the supply of oil and maximize trade with the Arabs.

The authors devote several paragraphs (p. 2) to discussing U.S. aid to IsraelThey bemoan the amount given to Israel, but fail to explain the context in which it is given, notably the fact that Israel must compete with enemies who have virtually unlimited budgets to purchase armsThey fail to note that Israel agreed to reduce its economic aid and it will soon not receive anyThey suggest that there is no accountability for military aid, but the truth is that nearly three-fourths of the money is spent in the United States, generating jobs and profits for more than 1,000 companies in 46 states.

The paper says (p. 2) that Israel received money to develop the Lavi aircraft, which “the Pentagon did not want or need.” The Lavi was not meant for U.S. useIt also claims that Israel receives access to intelligence denied to its NATO alliesThis is improbable and neither of the sources listed have access to intelligenceThey also are outdatedThe same paragraph falsely states that the U.S. “turned a blind eye towards Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.” Even the most cursory research into this subject would reveal numerous documents showing U.S. concern and an effort to discourage Israel’s development of these weapons.

It is correct that the United States has vetoed a number of UN resolutions (p. 3), but the authors do not show that this is in any way conflicts with the national interestOn the contrary, blocking one-sided resolutions was consistent with the American effort to serve as an honest brokerThe volume of vetoes is simply a function of the disproportionate number of resolutions condemning IsraelStill, what the authors fail to note is the number of times the United States has not vetoed resolutions and gone along with UN resolutions criticizing IsraelThe paper makes no reference to the fact that Israel is consistently the top supporter of the United States at the UN in contrast to the Arab states, which oppose U.S. positions 80% of the time.

The statement that “the United States also comes to Israel’s rescue in wartime and takes its side when negotiating peace” (p. 3) is simply falseThe United States imposed arms embargoes against Israel in 1948 and 1967, opposed its involvement in the 1956 Sinai campaign, suspended arms shipments and frequently criticized it’s actions during the Lebanon War, and resupplied Israel in 1973 only when it appeared Israel might be defeated by the Soviet-supplied Arab states that had launched a surprise attack. Contrary to the authors’ claims, the United States played no role in the negotiations that preceded the Oslo Accords and frequently took the Palestinians’ side in the subsequent negotiations, forcing Israel, for example, to withdraw from additional territory in 1998 despite the failure of the Palestinian Authority to meet its obligations under the agreements.

Even when the authors get it right, they find a way to criticize U.S. support for IsraelWhile correctly noting Israel’s value as a strategic asset during the Cold War (p. 4), they claim it complicated relations with the Arab world and use the Arab oil embargo as evidenceBut why blame U.S. policy and Israel for an action the Arabs took for their own economic and political interestsAnd what would have been the cost to American interests if the United States had allowed the Soviet Union to dictate the outcome of the 1973 WarThe authors have no trouble identifying the U.S. and Israeli influence on events, but pretend the rest of the world has nothing to do with themMore significantly, an objective analysis of U.S. Middle East policy would show that in direct opposition to the authors’ view, U.S.-Arab relations have improved as U.S. ties with Israel have grown progressively stronger.

They question Israel’s strategic value because it did not prevent the Iranian revolution (p. 4)On what do they base the idea that the United States relied on Israel to prevent the fall of the Shah or to defend Gulf oil suppliesThis was never part of any U.S. security formula.

The authors go further and claim Israel has actually become a “strategic burden” (p. 4) because the U.S. didn’t use Israeli bases during the first Gulf War and because it diverted resources (Patriot missiles) to defend IsraelActually, the U.S. did make use of some Israeli facilities and materials during the warMoreover, the decision to keep Israel out of the war was not a reflection of Israel’s inability to contribute, it was a decision President Bush made based on what many believed was an unjustified fear the coalition against Iraq would break upThe shipment of Patriots to Israel did nothing to hurt the capability of U.S. forces and ultimately did Israel more harm than good as the missiles were found to be ineffective.

Apologists for Terrorism

A particularly outrageous statement is that the terrorist threat “implies that Washington should give Israel a free hand in dealing with the Palestinians and not press Israel to make concessions until all Palestinian terrorists are imprisoned or dead” (p. 4)It has never been the goal of Israel or the U.S. to kill or imprison all terroristsIt is actually the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority, according to the agreements it signed, to arrest all the terrorists and dismantle the terrorist infrastructureIsrael has repeatedly said that if the Palestinians fulfilled their Oslo and road map commitments, it would have no need to pursue terroristsThe authors, however, are not interested at all in Palestinian obligationsUp until it became clear that neither Yasser Arafat nor his successor Mahmoud Abbas had the will and ability to negotiate peace, the United States consistently pressured Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians.

The authors repeat the canard that terror is a response to Israel’s “prolonged campaign to colonize the West Bank and Gaza Strip” (p. 5)How then can they explain the long history of terror that preceded Israel’s capture of those territoriesHow is it colonization for Israelis to move to areas such as Hebron and Gush Etzion where they lived before being expelled by the ArabsWhy don’t Israelis have the right to live in areas that are in disputeOf course, Israel has now disengaged from Gaza and the terror has continued unabated, but the authors simply ignored that fact.

The paper says that the United States is not threatened by groups that terrorize Israel, but more Americans were killed by Hizballah than by any other terrorist group except those murdered on 9/11 by al-QaedaExcluding 9/11, approximately 700 Americans have been killed and 1,600 wounded in terrorist attacks since 1970, many by Palestinian terror organizations.

Another false assertion is that “many al-Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden, are motivated by Israel’s presence in Jerusalem and the plight of the Palestinians” (p. 5)The fact is bin Laden's antipathy toward the United States has never been related to the Arab-Israeli conflictAs Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak noted, “Osama bin Laden made his explosions and then started talking about the PalestiniansHe never talked about them before” (Newsweek, October 29, 2001).

The authors insist the United States wouldn’t be worried about IranIraq or Syria if not for Israel (p. 5)Iran’s antipathy toward the United States, however, dates back decades and has nothing to do with IsraelIran is important because of its size, strategic location, and petroleum reserves and would be a focus of our attention if Israel did not existAs discussed below, U.S. concerns with Iraq and Syria are also based on interests separate from IsraelThe authors argue that it’s not a “strategic disaster” if any or all of these states acquired nuclear weaponsThis is a view at odds with virtually every strategist in the United States and most Western nationsThe fact that BritainGermany and France have led the campaign to prevent Iran from developing the bomb shows how out of touch the authors are with those knowledgeable about the region.

The suggestion that Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons is the reason the other countries want them (p. 6) is also contrary to the factsIran, for example, has nothing to fear from Israel and first wanted nuclear weapons to offset the bomb program of their rivals in IraqThey now are committed to this path for nationalistic reasons that have nothing to do with IsraelIf Israel gave up its arsenal tomorrow, there is no reason to believe the Muslim nations would not accelerate their efforts to get their own nuclear arms in the hope that they would then have a qualitative advantage over Israel.

To try to make the point that Israel is the cause of problems between the Islamic world and the west, the authors cite a letter from 52 former British diplomats to Tony Blair (p. 6)Setting aside the historic Arabist orientation of the British Foreign Office, the proposition ignores the range of more fundamental causes of conflict such as the Arab/Islamic nations’ rejection of Western valuesBlair, himself, does not believe the diplomats and has adopted a pro-Israel policy during his termIn fact, the British policy is one more example of the fallacy of the authors’ thesis that an all powerful pro-Israel lobby is responsible for all of the ills of the Middle East because the United Kingdom has no corrollary to the U.S. lobby.

The paper questions Israel’s strategic value because the authors say Israel is not a loyal ally (p. 6)WhyBecause they say Israel doesn’t do everything the United States wantsWell, as a sovereign nation, Israel sometimes has to determine its own national priorities and these sometimes create conflicts with the United StatesThe authors might have noted that U.S. divisions are more profound with many NATO allies, such as France, but that does not lead them to question France’s valueMoreover, the American public does see Israel as a reliable ally, ranking it after Great BritainCanada and Australia and ahead of JapanFranceGermany and other allies.

The paper asserts (p. 7) that Israel is “portrayed as weak and besieged,” but that has not been the case for decadesIsrael is not weak, it is strong, but it is still facing threats from terrorists and countries that consider themselves at war with Israel (IranSyriaLibyaSaudi Arabia). The authors are again wrong when they suggest that Israel was Goliath rather than David in the 19481956 and 1967 warsIn 1948, Israel was invaded by all its neighbors and its own leaders believed their chances of victory were only 50-50In 1956, Israel was victorious in part because of support from France and Great BritainIn 1967, Israel’s quick victory came as a shock because it was perceived as DavidThe authors also conveniently neglect to mention the 1973 War in which Israel was nearly defeated.

Questioning Israeli Values

An outright calumny is the author’s assertion that Israel does not share America’s liberal democratic values (p. 8)They assert that citizenship is based on blood kinship and insist this is why Israeli Arabs are treated as second-class citizensIf blood kinship was the sole basis of citizenship, one-fifth of the population could not be citizensIn fact, however, all Israelis, Jew and non-Jew, are equal under the lawIsrael is not a perfect society, and discrimination still exists, but that is the case in the United States as wellAmericans have had nearly 230 years to address the inequalities so it should not be surprising that Israel has not resolved all of its social ills in its first 60 years of independenceMoreover, Israel stands out in the Middle East as the only country that shares American values.

The authors make the absurd claim that Israel’s democratic status “is undermined by its refusal to grant the Palestinians a viable state of their own” (p. 8)Israel’s democracy is independent of the PalestiniansThe fact that the Palestinians don’t have a state can be traced back decades to the first peace plans that they rejected because they allowed for the existence of a Jewish statePalestinians who are citizens of the state enjoy full rights, but Israel has no obligation to permit those living in the territories those same guaranteesFurthermore, roughly 98 percent of the Palestinians in the territories are denied fundamental liberal values by the Palestinian Authority that is responsible for their well-beingThe authors say Israel is “colonizing lands on which Palestinians have long dwelt” without presenting any evidence of any such connection to those lands or acknowledging the longstanding Jewish presence and claims to parts of the West Bank.

Distorting the Peace Process

Another falsehood is the claim that the Zionists were not interested in the partition of Palestine (p. 9)They take a Ben-Gurion quotation cited from post-Zionist authors to suggest that it was the Jews rather than the Palestinians who had a policy of stages whereby they expected to expand beyond the partition lines to take over all of PalestineThe facts show otherwiseIt was the Zionists who reluctantly accepted chopping up their homeland into the kind of cantons the Palestinians now complain about in the hope that this would bring peaceWhile the Jews accepted partition and, today, again offer the Palestinians a partition plan, it is the Arabs who have repeatedly rejected any proposal that would not lead to the destruction of Israel.

The authors also resurrect the discredited arguments that Israel had a policy to transfer the Palestinians and drove 700,000 Palestinians into exile (p. 9)If they had read the source of these claims more closely, they would have seen that his research did not support this conclusion and that, contrary to the authors’ claims, he did provide evidence that many Arabs fled because their leaders told them to do so.

The paper falsely reports (p. 10) that “Israeli leaders have repeatedly sought to deny the Palestinians’ national ambitions.” On the contrary, Israel has since 1967 expressed a willingness to trade land for securityThe Palestinians, however, have rejected each overture and responded to concessions of land with greater terrorHad the Palestinians accepted the autonomy plan offered by Menachem Begin as part of the Israel-Egyptian peace treaty, they would today have a stateIf they had fulfilled the terms of the Oslo agreements, they would today have a stateIf they had accepted the Barak offer at Camp David, they would today have a state, and if they had fulfilled the terms of the road map for peace, they would today have a state.

The authors’ repetition of the canard that Barak offered the Palestinians a set of “Bantustans” also exposes their limited research (p. 10)Clearly, they failed to read the book by Clinton’s chief negotiator, Dennis Ross, or the many articles that documented the generosity of the Israeli offer and Yasser Arafat’s unwillingness to make peace under any conditions.

The myopia of the authors is apparent in the claim that “Israel’s conduct is not morally distinguishable from the actions of its opponents” (p. 10)Perhaps they can provide a list of all the Israeli suicide bombers who have blown up Palestinian schools, buses and cafesThe evidence for the authors’ claim is that Zionists in the 1940s engaged in terror tacticsIt is true that some Jews did employ terrorism at that time and they were condemned for doing so by the Zionist establishmentThis is in contrast to the Palestinian Authority which is the sponsor of the terror against Jews today.

Rewriting History

The paper accuses the Zionists of “ethnic cleansing,” an outrageous claim for which there is no evidence (p. 11)To the contrary, it is easily refuted by the fact that 150,000 Palestinians were allowed to remain as citizens of Israel and that the Zionists always anticipated a significant Arab population within the state’s borders.

Once again citing post-Zionist histories, the authors claim that between 1949 and 1956 “Israeli security forces killed between 2,700 and 5,000 Arab infiltrators, the overwhelming majority of them unarmed” (p. 11)That’s a pretty wide margin of error and fails to put into context the terror war being waged by the Arabs at that timeThe suggestion that large numbers were unarmed raises the question of why they were infiltratingHere’s part of what the authors left out: During roughly the same period, Israel reported to the UN 1,843 cases of armed robbery and theft, 1,339 cases of armed clashes with Egyptian armed forces, 435 cases of incursion from Egyptian controlled territory, and 172 cases of sabotage perpetrated by Egyptian military units and fedayeen in IsraelThese incidents killed 101 Israelis and left 364 woundedIn 1956 alone, 28 Israelis were killed and 127 wounded (Security Council Official Records, S/3706, October 30, 1956, p. 14).

The authors accuse the IDF of excessive violence in the Palestinian War because the ratio of Palestinians killed is higher than that of the Israelis (p. 11)They are now equating Israelis who are killed riding on buses and sipping coffee at cafes with Arabs killed by troops trying to prevent these atrocitiesWould the authors be happier if the figures were evenIsn’t it enough for them that nearly 2,000 Israelis have been murderedThe disproportionate number of Palestinian casualties is primarily a result of the number of Palestinians involved in violence and is the inevitable result poorly-trained irregulars attacking a well-trained regular armyThe unfortunate death of noncombatants is largely due to the habit of Palestinian gunmen and terrorists using civilians as shieldsMoreover, Israeli troops do not target innocent Palestinians, but Palestinian terrorists do target Israeli civilians.

On page 12 we learn the authors are apologists for terrorThey say the Palestinians’ “behavior is not surprising” because they “believe they have no other way to force Israeli concessions.” Terrorism is not Israel’s faultIt is not the result of “occupation.” And it certainly is not the only response available to the Palestinians’ discontentmentPalestinians have an option for improving their situation, it is called negotiationsAnd that is not the only option eitherThe Palestinians could also choose the nonviolent path taken by Martin Luther King or GandhiThey have chosen, however, to pursue a war of terror instead of a process for peace.

It's The Lobby's Fault

The thesis of the paper is not really addressed until page 13 when the authors start to make the case that it is the “Israel Lobby” that is responsible for distorting U.S. policyThey start with a distortion of their own by suggesting that Israel is not a salient issue for Jews by citing a survey showing that 36% of American Jews are not emotionally attached to IsraelThe American Jewish Committee, however, has asked a similar question for several years and found in 2005 that 77% of American Jews feel fairly or very close to Israel.

Throughout the discussion of the lobby, the authors repeatedly refer to Israel’s “expansionist policies” (pp. 13-14, 25, 40) without presenting any evidence for the use of this phraseOn the contrary, Israel is the only “expansionist” power in history that has repeatedly given up territory (after the 1956 war, signing the treaty with Egypt and the Oslo agreements)Most recently, Israel evacuated the entire Gaza Strip and a part of SamariaIn addition, Israeli leaders have repeatedly offered to withdraw from as much as 97% of the territories in exchange for peace with the Palestinians, a fact never mentioned in the paper.

In describing the lobby, the paper mentions only Jews, evangelical Christians, and gentile neoconservatives as supporters of Israel (p. 14)In highlighting the evangelicals and neocons, the authors suggest a narrow base of support for Israel and pick out two groups that are particularly controversial among liberals and the more general publicWhat the authors fail to do is mention the broad-based support for Israel reflected by the most recent Gallup poll (February 2006), which found that sympathy for Israel was 59 percent compared to only 15 percent for the PalestiniansOne remarkable aspect of the lobby they ignore is that its members cross boundaries of race, gender, age and ideology.

For a paper purporting to be based on scholarship, it is particularly weak in its discussion of the well-researched area of interest group behavior (p. 15)The authors assert that “pro-Arab interest groups are weak to non-existent,” but fail to define or examine the Arab lobbyIt is true that pro-Arab organizations are weak, but the lobby also includes the petrodiplomatic complex, which is far more influential.

A major theme of the section on the lobby is that the pro-Israel community is determined to stifle debate and negative news about Israel (p. 15)It is true that the lobby, like other interest groups, wants to make its case, but to suggest that Middle East politics is not the subject of heated debate in Congress, the Executive Branch and the media is simply to put one’s head in the sandNo shortage of information is available on all sides of the issues, and much of the critical analysis comes from Israel, where the raucous democracy and freewheeling press routinely publicize the good, the bad and the ugly of Israeli society and politics.

The authors describe the effectiveness of the Israeli lobby, but make a specious logical jump to the conclusion that AIPAC, the pro-Israel community’s principal representatives to public officials, is a “de facto agent for a foreign government” (p. 17)This has been a claim of Israel’s detractors for some time and part of their campaign to place lobbying restrictions on the organization, but AIPAC does not represent the government of Israel and its employees are not paid by IsraelAIPAC represents the views of the majority of Americans who believe a strong U.S.-Israel relationship is in America’s interestAIPAC’s policies often coincide with Israeli positions, but not always, and the organization has studiously avoided taking positions on some of the more contentious issues of Israeli politics, such as settlements.

If the authors had read the literature, in particular, The Water's Edge And Beyond, they would have seen the evidence does not support their claim that “the Lobby also has significant leverage over the Executive branch” (p. 17)The lobby’s influence is primarily over economic issues decided in the LegislatureIt has very little influence on the Executive and virtually none on issues of war and peace, regardless of where they are decided.





Illusions of False Security - Hillel Halkin
The Israeli raid on a Jericho jail last week was yet another lesson in the futility of third-party intervention in situations of national conflictThe captured men - five of them convicted, in a rare Palestinian trial of terrorists, of assassinating Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi - were imprisoned as part of an American-brokered deal that ended a 2002 Israeli siege of Arafat's Ramallah compound, in which they had taken refugeThe agreement was that they would be incarcerated in Jericho, with U.S. and British observers posted in the jail to make sure they didn't escapeIt was last week's hasty departure of these observers, concerned for their safety under a Hamas government, that led to the Israeli action.
    In a word, as long as the PA was committed to keeping the men in prison, the observers were unnecessaryThe minute there was a need for the observers, they vanished, obeying instructions from their superiorsSuch is the fate of international interventions of this kindThey work perfectly when they are superfluous and collapse the minute they are notThis was similar to the UN peacekeeping force that fled Sinai in May 1967, paving the way for the Six-Day WarFor Israel, the lesson is clearNeutral "peacekeepers" between it and the Arab states are always undesirable(New York Sun)


Iran Crisis Could Lead to a Nuclear-Armed World - Jessica T. Mathews
The idea that "it's too late" to stop Iran's progress toward building nuclear weapons is technologically wrong"There's nothing we can do about it" ignores a range of options between economic sanctions and going to warThis crisis is only proximately about IranMore important, it is about the likely consequence that Saudi ArabiaTurkey, and Egypt would produce their own bombs and the nonproliferation regime would collapseWhat is at stake is not a choice between 9 and 10 nuclear weapons states, but a choice between 9 and 30 or more.
    If we fail to pursue this effort with unwavering, clear-minded diplomacy, a nuclear-armed world will be the Bush administration's chief legacy, no matter how the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism turn outThe writer is the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (New York Times)


Israel Lobby - Ruth R. Wisse (Wall Street Journal, 22Mar06)

  • The thesis of Professors Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago is that a loose association of special-interest groups has persuaded the country to sacrifice its interests to a foreign power.
  • Organized as a prosecutorial indictment rather than an inquiry, their essay does not tell us why the "Israel Lobby" should have formed in the first placeThe 21 countries of the Arab League with ties to 1.2 billion Muslims world-wide are nowhere present as active political agents.
  • There is no mention of the Arab rejection of the UN's partition of Palestine in 1948; no 58-year Arab League boycott of Israel and companies trading with Israel; no Arab attacks of 1948, 1967, and 1973; no Arab-Soviet resolution at the UN defining Zionism as racism; no monetary and strategic support for Arab terrorism against Jews and Israel; and no Hamas dedication to destroying the Jewish state.
  • The authors do not ask why Arab aggression and Muslim "rage against Israel" should have morphed into a war against the U.S. and the WestIsrael's existence elicits Arab and Muslim hostility, hence in their view Israel is to blame for Arab and Muslim carnage.
  • When the authors imply that the bipartisan support of Israel in Congress is a result of Jewish influence, they function as classic conspiracy theorists who attribute decisions to nefarious alliances rather than to the choices of a democratic electorateTheir contempt for fellow citizens dictates their claims of a gullible and stupid AmericaTheir insistence that American support for Israel is bought and paid for by the Lobby heaps scorn on American judgment and values.
  • Americans don't support Israel because of the strength of any lobby; Israel earns American support the hard way.

    See also Study Decrying "Israel Lobby" Marred by Numerous Errors - Alex Safian
"The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by Professors Walt and Mearsheimer is riddled with errors of fact, logic and omission, has inaccurate citations, and displays extremely poor judgment regarding sourcesIs it true that U.S. policy in the Middle East, and specifically our support for Israel, is due almost entirely to the activities of the "Israel Lobby?The authors are hardly the first to so argue, though their report ignores all prior serious work on the subject, including the seminal book refuting such claims by the late Professor A.F.K. OrganskiThe $36 Billion Bargain: Strategy and Politics in U.S. Assistance to Israel.
    The report is a deep embarrassment to both Harvard University and the University of ChicagoWhile Mearsheimer and Walt are free to make any assertions they like, no matter how baseless, Harvard University should have nothing to do with such shoddy, biased work(CAMERA)


Hamas Unlikely to Moderate - Interview with Matthew Levitt by Bernard Gwertzman (Council on Foreign Relations)

Terrorism expert Matthew Levitt is deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Treasury Department.

  • "Being the government, I don't think, is going to moderate Hamas in the leastAnd the reason for that is they have a model they have already articulated that they intend to follow, which is the model of Hizballah in the north."
  • "Months before the election, Hamas announced it was going to be setting up a standing militia, the Qassam Brigade; it would not take the place of, but would sit parallel to, existing terrorist wings."
  • "Abbas al-Sayyid is the convicted mastermind of the Passover bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanya....[He told me:] 'I as a Muslim cannot cede any part of what I believe to be an Islamic endowment - all of Israel, presently Israel - to the Jews or anybody elseIf I were to agree to a temporary truce, that would be exactly what it is, temporary.'"
  • "Al-Sayyid said 'temporary' can mean a generation or two, but he added: 'If I were to subscribe to one of these long-term ceasefires, don't think that I would not continue to train my son, who would enable his son to eventually consider the struggle, the fight, to regain all of this Islamic endowment that is now Israel.'"


Israel May Be Next Al-Qaeda Battleground - Steven Gutkin (AP/Washington Post)
    Signs are mounting that al-Qaeda terrorists are setting their sights on Israel and the Palestinian territories as their next jihad battleground.
    Al-Qaeda's inroads are still preliminary, but officials fear a doomsday scenario if it takes root.
    Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon have established contacts with al-Qaeda followers linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to two Israeli officials.
    See also Al-Qaeda, Zarqawi, and Israel: Is There a New Jihadi Threat Destabilizing the Eastern Front? - Dore Gold and Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (JCPA)







MYTH #213

"The Jews have no claim to the land they call Israel."


A common misperception is that all the Jews were forced into the Diaspora by the Romans after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E. and then, 1,800 years later, suddenly returned to Palestine demanding their country back. In reality, the Jewish people have maintained ties to their historic homeland for more than 3,700 years.

The Jewish people base their claim to the Land of Israel on at least four premises: 1) the Jewish people settled and developed the land; 2) the international community granted political sovereignty in Palestine to the Jewish people; 3) the territory was captured in defensive wars and 4) God promised the land to the patriarch Abraham.

Even after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and the beginning of the exile, Jewish life in the Land of Israel continued and often flourished. Large communities were reestablished in Jerusalem and Tiberias by the ninth century. In the 11th century, Jewish communities grew in RafahGazaAshkelonJaffa and Caesarea. The Crusaders massacred many Jews during the 12th century, but the community rebounded in the next two centuries as large numbers of rabbis and Jewish pilgrims immigrated to Jerusalem and the Galilee. Prominent rabbis established communities in SafedJerusalem and elsewhere during the next 300 years.

By the early 19th century — years before the birth of the modern Zionist movement — more than 10,000 Jews lived throughout what is today Israel (Dan Bahat, ed. Twenty Centuries of Jewish Life in the Holy Land, Jerusalem: The Israel Economist, 1976, pp. 61-63.). The 78 years of nation-building, beginning in 1870, culminated in the reestablishment of the Jewish State.

Israel’s international “birth certificate” was validated by the promise of the Bible; uninterrupted Jewish settlement from the time of Joshua onward; the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the League of Nations Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration; the United Nations partition resolution of 1947; Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949; the recognition of Israel by most other states; and, most of all, the society created by Israel’s people in decades of thriving, dynamic national existence.

This article can be found at

Source: REVISED Myths & Facts Online -- A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Mitchell G. Bard.

To order a copy of the NEW paperback edition of Myths and Facts, click HEREThe previous edition of Myths & Facts is also available in Spanish, German, French, Russian, Portuguese, Swedish, and Hebrew.

Dr. Bard is available for media interviews and speaking engagements on this and other topics.

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Passover is just around the corner!



for kids & adults of all ages!

Enhance your seder with a new Hagaddah!

Join us for the TBE Jewish Bookfair! 

Sunday, March 26, 8:45 - 12:30

Downstairs in the Social Hall

All students will have a chance to browse during Religious School with their class.  A schedule will be sent home so you can be there when your child visits the Book Fair…  You can also, of course, check out the selection at drop-off and after pick-up!

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Topic: Jewish Values –Gossip

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9:00 AM “How to Run the Best Seder in Town

Temple Beth El to Honor Past Presidents - Dancing Through the Years

On April 1, 2006, Temple Beth El will host its annual dinner dance where we will pay tribute to our past presidents.  This is not an April Fool’s Joke!  Come join us as we go "Dancing Through the Years” led by a band featuring music from the ‘70’s, 80’s and ‘90’s, and of course, the preceding decades. The festivities will start at 7:30 p.m.

The community is invited to join us as we express our gratitude for the commitment and achievements of these lay leaders, 14 men, and one brave woman in their midst, who have dedicated a minimum of two years of their lives to benefit Temple Beth El.  Of course, these two years do not include the work they did leading up to their tenure as presidents and their continued involvement with Temple Beth El since their presidencies ended. Temple Beth El past presidents and honorees are:

Gordon Brown, Rosalea Fisher, Al Golin, Fred Golove, Jack Greenberg,

Ron Gross, Marty Israel, Herb Kahan, Alan Kalter, Mark Lapine, Milton Mann,

Neil Perlman, Gerald Poch, Brian Rogol and Jack Wofsey

For more information, to purchase tickets to the dinner dance or to buy an ad in the commemorative journal, please contact Temple Beth El at 322-6901.

"Five Rabbis, Four Questions: (and then some):

A Pre-Pesach Pow-wow With Stamford's Board of Rabbis"


The Stamford Board of Rabbis will host a panel discussion about the themes of Passover on Wed., April 5 at Temple Beth El, 350 Roxbury Rd at 7:00 PM.   In an informal, participatory setting, the rabbis will discuss the ins and outs of the Haggadah, the ritual items on the seder plate, Jewish concepts of freedom and tips for a great family Seder, along with other questions. 


The Board of Rabbis, currently chaired by Rabbi Ira Ebbin, meets monthly, serving important leadership functions in the community, including advocacy, education and community building.  Programs such as these are especially helpful in promoting Jewish awareness in a spirit of communal solidarity. 


The panel, featuring Rabbis Ira Ebbin, Marc Disick, Daniel Cohen, Phil Schechter and Joshua Hammerman, will be moderated by Ilana De Laney, the community's director of education.  The event is co-sponsored by the Community Commission of Jewish Education of the United Jewish Federation, along with the Board of Rabbis.  The program is free and open to the public. 

Sisterhood is inviting you to a Ladies’ Nite Out!

Thursday, April 6, 2006

At Temple Beth El

7:00 Shopping Bazaar opens
7:30 Fashion Show begins

See the latest fashions from


Designer clothes at off-prices

Join us for a fun-filled evening!

Enjoy shopping at our Spring shopping bazaar.

Sample dairy desserts from the new soon-to-be-released Sisterhood Cookbook – “From Our Table to Yours.”

 Preparations by Dr. Fran Ginsburg and her team of Sisterhood chefs!

View the latest fashions modeled by our very own Sisterhood members:  Marlyn Agatstein, Amy Fishkow Benjamin, Rachel Benjamin, Sarah Benjamin, Alana Kasindorf, Jeannie Kasindorf, Jodi Maxner, Sue Shapiro, and Mia Weinstein
Hair by Guy Sasson and Makeup by Sue Berkoff

New and Fabulous Silent Auction plus our favorite Raffle prizes (1/$5 and 5/$20).

Patron               $20 ($25 door)               Make checks payable to Sisterhood and send to:
Non-member     $25                                 Eileen H. Rosner, c/o Temple Beth El
Sponsor             $36                                 350 Roxbury Road, Stamford, CT 06902
Benefactor        $54
Prepaid Raffles (1/$5 and 5/$20)

Mindy Fishman         Maureen Leffand
203.594.9171            203.569.7024

First Ever! Sisterhood Cookbook

Available in September 2006

Delicious Recipes! Kosher! Family Favorites!

Please help to defray the costs

\be a sponsor, place an ad, order your copies now ($18 each).

**Proceeds to fund kitchen renovation and other TBE capital improvements**

**Call Beth Silver 967-8852 for information**


And for Kosher computers, thanks to Susan Rich for this week’s smile…

You can now get Kosher computers (Made in Israel) 

called a DELLSHALOM. It is selling at such a good

price I bought one. It arrived yesterday. If you are

considering a kosher computer, you should know there

are some important upgrades and changes from the

typical computer you are used to, such as:

-- The cursor moves from right to left. It comes with

two hard drives: -one for fleyshedik (business

software) and one for milchedik (games).

-- Instead of getting a "General Protection Fault"

error, my PC now gets "Farklempt."

-- The Chanukah screen saver includes "Flying


-- The PC shuts down automatically at sundown on

Friday evenings.

-- If my computer dies, I have to dispose of it within

24 hours.

-- The "Start" button has been replaced with the

"Let's go!! I'm not getting any younger!" button.

-- When disconnecting external devices from the back

of my PC, I am instructed to "Remove the cable from

the PC's toches."

-- The multimedia player has been renamed to: "Nu, so

play my music already!"

-- Internet Explorer has a spinning "Star of David" in

the upper right corner.

-- I hear "Hava Nagila" during startup.

-- Microsoft Office now includes, "A little byte of

this, and a little byte of that."

-- When running "Scan Disk" it prompts with a "You

want I should fix this?" message.

-- When my PC is working too hard, I occasionally hear

a loud "Oy Gevalt!"

-- There is a "monitor cleaning solution" from

Manischewitz that advertises it gets rid of the

"schmutz un drek" on your monitor.

-- After 20 minutes of no activity, my PC goes


-- Computer viruses can now be cured with some chicken


-- If you decide not to shut down the computer in the

prescribed manner, the following message appears: "You

should be ashamed of yourself."

-- When Spell-check finds an error it prompts, "Is this

the best you can do?"

-- When I look at erotic images, my computer says, "If

your mother knew you did this, she would die."

-- But best of all, if you have a kosher computer, you

can't get Spam!

Previous Shabbat-O-Grams can be accessed directly from our web site (

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