Friday, February 29, 2008

Shabbat-O-Gram February 29, 2008 –23 Adar 1, 5768

February 29, 2008 –23 Adar 1, 5768


Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, Stamford, Connecticut

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Contents of the Shabbat O Gram:

(Click to scroll down)

Just the Facts

The (Occasionally) Ranting Rabbi   

 Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunities

Ask the Rabbi

 Spiritual Journey on the Web

The Beth El Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary  

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

Joke for the Week



“Scenes from a Wedding”



Last Sunday, Danielle Tuluca and Sam Sterman

were “married” as part of the 7th grade’s

exploration of the Jewish lifecycle.  Keep checking our

website, for more photos of the wedding,

Temple Rock Café and other recent events


Quote for the Week









Candle lighting: 5:10 pm on Friday, February 15, 2008.  For Havdalah 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  The United Synagogue has updated its candlelighting information. To learn more, click here.



Shabbat Services:


6:30 Friday night in the chapel

6:45 Tot Shabbat


Shabbat morning @ 9:30, Children’s services at 10:30


Morning Minyan:  7:30 Weekdays (including this Monday, Presidents Day), 9:30 Sundays





Now you can become more comfortable with the prayers of our morning service by heading to…



Reminder of our “No School No Shul” policy: On days when Stamford public schools are cancelled or delayed, morning minyan is officially cancelled.  During school vacation weeks, please use your own judgment.  If significant snow has fallen during the night, it is unlikely that our lot will have been plowed out by morning.  On Sunday, when our religious school is cancelled because of weather, minyan is also cancelled.   Friday night and Shabbat morning services are never cancelled, but people are asked to use their own good judgment on days when the weather is very bad.


Torah Reading For Shabbat Morning

Torah Portion: Tetzave


Torah Portion: Exodus 27:20 - 30:10


1: 27:20-28:5

2: 28:6-9

3: 28:10-12

4: 28:13-17

5: 28:18-21

6: 28:22-25

7: 28:26-30

maf: 30:8-10


Haftarah: Ezekiel 43:10 - 43:27









Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunities


Beth El Cares:

Inreach and Outreach



Mitzvah Suggestion for the Week


The Continuing Plight of Sderot


From Jan Gaines:


Dear Friends: Things are building to a crisis here and I don't know how long Olmert can hang on.  The Sderot situation is untenable.  Protests about it are now gathering steam.  Livni, the Foreign Minister, has been discussing the status of Jerusalem even tho Olmert had pledged to Shas that this would not happen "until the end". That is the red line for Shas to leave the govt. The brouhaha over one member of the Winograd commission is still reverberating.  I don't see how Olmert can hang on much longer and all I can say is good riddance.  I don 't know if Kadima will pick another leader or if we will go to elections. But change is coming, and not too soon.  Jan


From Yitzchak Sokoloff of Keshet Tours (who has visited TBE several times)

A letter written to some rabbis who have led trips with Keshet




I'm sure that you have been following the terrible reports out of Sderot, as described in this report below.   Hundreds of  people from Sderot have been in Jerusalem this week to protest their tragic and untenable situation, and this during a cold and rainy week.  As I write this, there are dozens of Sderot residents sleeping in a tent opposite the Prime Minister's Office together with supporters from around the country.


Having been in Sderot itself frequently these last months, members of the Keshet staff felt that we should do whatever possible to support the Sderot residents spiritually and materially. As a result, we have been providing hot meals for the protesters, as well as heaters, sleeping bags and mattresses. We are donating our staff time and equipment, but would appreciate assistance in funding the food that we are providing, at a cost of about $400 per day. 



Anyone who would like to assist us to assist  the residents of Sderot at this important time are welcome to pledge contributions for Sderot relief. We will be using these funds to supplement our efforts to feed the Sderot resident in Jerusalem and to advance other longer-term assistance to Sederot.  Checks can be made out to the Keshet Israel Relief Fund and sent to Informed Choice For Israel 244 North Ave New Rochelle NY 10801, noting that they are intended for our Sderot activities. There are no overhead costs and tax receipts will be issued by Informed Choice For Israel as soon as possible. Keshet will turn your pledges into hot meals immediately with its own funds, so that no time is lost in clearing funds.


You are also welcome to forward this e-mail to any friends you think might be interested in assisting us- perhaps with a sentence about your own experience with Keshet.


Thank you,


Yitzhak Sokoloff

Executive Director

Keshet: The Center for Educational Tourism in Israel



Sent:  Sun, 10 Feb 2008 



Director, Regional News Service for Sderot and the Western Negev

Sderot Information Center for the Western Negev Ltd.

12 Rakefet Street

Sderot, Israel

Messages: 03 636 4017




On Saturday night the 9th of February, two brothers 19 and 8 year old, Rami and Osher Twito, borrowed their mother's credit card to go to the Sderot ATM machine to buy after shave lotion as a birthday present for their father.


Within moments, they  were lying  next to each other in a pool of blood on a Sderot side walk.


Pieces of their legs scattered on the street.  One of Osher's legs was immediately severed.

Osher's  second leg was shattered.  Rami and Osher  were  running for their lives after they heard the RED COLOR siren. They didn't have enough time to run for the shelter which was 100 meters away,  knowing that they only had 15 seconds until the  kassam missile would explode.


Tens of Sderots residents ran to help the boys. Then another siren went  off, and they all  ran for the shelter once again.. A few minutes later, a few residents started to scream to the crowd :


 " Let's go block the streets!!" They started chanted:  We want a military solution!

We want the army to do what's right and to fight the enemy!"


There was utter despair on the people's faces -  helplessness of the fathers and mothers carrying their children.  


What a Sabbath in Sderot, with 40 missile attacks fired at Sderot.


Thinking about Friday night.  Sitting at a Sabbath dinner with the Gad Family. Hava Gad is the Sderot Parents Association spokeswoman A siren was fired while the soup was being served.


The whole family took cover in their hall way, which is the safest  place in the house.


The missile fell across the street. A boom rocked the house. Hava collapsed.  Tzfania her husband , a reserve military officer,  leaned over Hava, calming her down. Their 9 year old son- Yanai played his own role   supporting  with his mother, calming her down,


A few seconds later another explosion. And then another one… It quiets down and everyone returned to the Sabbath  table


And then another missile attack. Tsfania opened the back door for their puppy to hide for shelter in their hall way.


Hava,  bent over eve more than before, said  that she is  going to throw  up. Tsfania  holds her tight


Yanai, once again comforting his mother, mentions, matter of factly, that  on  Friday morning a missile exploded in the soccer field next to their school,  and that they were lucky that they weren't allowed to go out, for security reasons…


As the meal finished, the children played games on the floor, and then, an enormous explosion…


This time, Hava screamed  and collapsed on the floor, shivering… Tsfania went to the other room to get her a pill, and asked  her if he should call an ambulance to evacuate her.


Yaani again hugged  and kissed her, telling her that it fell a blocks away from here and that there is nothing to worry about… Yaani looked up and said that  they should learn medicine in school, for cases like these…  A fourth grader who sees himself as a paramedic at the age of nine.


Walking  the streets of Sderot on the Sabbath  afternoon,  to get a feeling about what people are going through,  a few brave children went out to play in the sunny beautiful day.


Every group of children had something had something to do with the rocket reality


A four year old, mumbling while playing next to the synagogue- 'Tseva Adom, Tseva Adom' "RED COLOR RED COLOR"…


And then  there was the nearby Sderot Ethiopian community , where children were arguing with each other , debating , which school was hit more by the rockets… Children were playing with toys,  throwing them up to the air, and yelling- "A Kassam!" and then make a noise of an explosion…


Watching these children,  you think of the recent statement from  Dr Roni Beger from Natal Trauma Treatment Center, that anywhere between  70%- 94% of the children in Sderot now suffer from PTS- Post Traumatic Stress Symptoms.


Dr. Adrianna Katz,  head of the Sderot Mental Health Center, notes that most of these

Children are going to be affected for life…


And then there was the perspective of the experts –


Dr. Reuven Ehrlich, the head of Intelligence and Terror Information Center, visited Sderot last week and reported that over 8,000 missile attacks had occurred over the past seven  years


Tzachi Hanegbi, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee,  last Tuesday requested ten minutes of air time on the Voice of Israel Radio newsreel, where he demanded that the Israeli army kill the terrorists who  give the orders to fire the missiles…not only the missile launchers.  In other words, to kill Gaza's political leaders who meet every Saturday afternoon for their weekly meeting, where they decide where and when to terrorize Jews.


For some reason, HaNegbi's suggestion has not been picked up.

At the same time, at least 800 homes here in Sderot have no protected rooms where someone can take cover during a missile attack. Prime Minister Olmert has vetoed the offer  of a private philanthropist to  fund  to install these protected rooms. Why? Olmert's office does not answer as to why he places 800 families in a life threatening situation in their own homes


Yet the unkindest cut of all came from Washington.


On Thursday, the US State Department issued a strong statement to warn Israel to show concern for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. A call placed on Friday to the US embassy to ask whether the US State Department would issue a statement about the humanitarian crisis in Sderot and the Western Negev went unanswered.


Meanwhile, not one Jewish group and not one human rights organization issued a single statement of protest or horror about our city under siege.



Bar/Bat Mitzvah Projects:


Keep watching for projects to appear in this space….






Source – the Midway Jewish Center Cyber-Shul and my colleague Rabbi Rafi Rank

Dear Cyber Rav,


I know that Kaddish is generally recited for 11 months.  But it’s a leap year and the year is not 12 months but 13?  It would therefore seem that I should say kaddish for 12 months.  Now my sister has done a little research into the matter and she discovered that just about everybody says that even in a leap year, kaddish is recited for 11 months.  And from one Orthodox site, she found the following— The period that the mourner recites the Kaddish for parents is, theoretically, a full calendar year. The deceased is considered to be under Divine judgment for that period.

Some communities, therefore, adhere to the custom that Kaddish be recited for 12 months in all cases. However, because the full year is considered to be the duration of judgment for the wicked, and we presume that our parents do not fall into that category, the practice in most communities is to recite the Kaddish for only 11 months. Even on leap years, which last thirteen months, the Kaddish is recited for only 11 months.

So CyberRav, I am confused—do you say 11, 12 or possibly even 13?

In Mourning, But for How Long?


Dear In Mourning,


I hope I can answer you without sounding too convoluted, but it may take a few paragraphs before I can get to the heart of the matter, so bear with me.


First of all, in an age of attenuated Jewish practice, I love the fact that you have chosen to say kaddish.  The principal question is not so much whether we recite kaddish for 11, 12 or 13 months, but whether a Jew has chosen to recite kaddish on a regular basis at all.  You have.  And because you have, I believe that you have made a halakhically-valid choice that affirms your identity as a Jew, solidifies your relationship with God, and denies death victory to the extent that each day, you honor the memory of a loved one.  How fabulous is that! 


Okay--so we still have this question of just how long one must say Kaddish.  Your sister has come up with an answer about kaddish that beautifully points to the interplay between Jewish practice and mythology.  The myth--that the deceased is under divine judgment for a year, and that a year is the period for the wholly wicked--impacts on how long we ought to say kaddish.  If, as some would suggest, the kaddish helps the deceased move into a higher heaven, and that its recitation for a year would be an insult to a parent because it would imply wickedness, then a respectful and devoted child would certainly stop saying kaddish in advance of the 12th month.  So that is the explanation of the 11 month kaddish as opposed to a 12 month kaddish which would correspond to the duration of mourning itself.


Now let's take this one step further.  Do you believe in a God that judges the deceased for a maximum of 12 months?  If you do, then there is no further discussion because the system, as explained above, is perfectly logical.  But if you don't, then that 11 month kaddish--if you follow it at all-- is going to require some other explanation.


Let me throw in my own thoughts only to give you an idea of where I am coming from, but not necessarily where you have to be or are.  I don't believe in a God that judges the deceased for a maximum of 12 months.  God's got better things to do.   I do believe that we are accountable to God each and every day of our lives.  But on the day of death, our judgment is sealed.  Whether people will remember us lovingly or hate us for crimes and sins we've committed, will be wholly dependent on how we lived our lives, not  on how God renders our fate during the 12 months following death.


Some of my colleagues, thinking as I do, thus tell people to say kaddish for 12 months.  Why say kaddish for eleven months if it is based on a mythology that no longer speaks to us!  Would saying kaddish for 12 months be a  shameful act?  We should only be smitten with people who rush each day to synagogue to say kaddish for the full year!


Nevertheless, I am, at the heart of it all, deeply respectful of tradition, and I would contend that saying kaddish for 12 months is no more respectful than saying it for 11 months.  So if there is a tradition of saying it for 11 months, let's follow that tradition.


But--now we have the problem of leap year.  What happens when the year during which we are saying kaddish is not a 12 month year but a thirteen month year?  Do we still say kaddish for 11 months or 12?  And this is where I actually encourage (if asked) a stricter position than tradition would demand.  Since my 11 month kaddish is not based on the idea of a 12 month period of punishment to begin with, but on the idea of stopping a month before the year is up, I encourage people to say kaddish for 12 months, because in a leap year, that is one month before the year is up.


Kaddish is a prayer which makes no mention of death, mourning, grieving, the deceased's soul, or any such matter, but rather is a praising of God.  Somehow the evolutionary thrust of Jewish history has been to move children in mourning to say kaddish for a year's time, and thank God for the blessing of our parents, the miracle of our own birth, and to teach our children that some day, they should be disciplined enough to say kaddish for us and thus declare that death cannot erase the memory of a loved one.  It's a great tradition and saying it an extra month, far from being a sin, strikes me as a big mitzvah.


Now here is the really good news.  Whatever you decide will be kosher.  You have at least two traditions to follow.  What matters here is not so much what you actually choose to say kaddish 11 or 12 months.  What matters more is your rationale for choosing what you ultimately decide to choose.


And, of course, I'll be really interested in hearing about your rationale.

Rabbi Rafi Rank









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The Beth El Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary






Required Reading and Action Items






Israeli Website Speaks to Arab World in Its Own Language - Sheera Claire Frenkel

Hours after Hizbullah terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyeh was killed in Damascus, the responses of Israeli officials and other voices from the Western world were quickly translated into Arabic and offered, for the first time, by an Israeli-run website speaking to the Arab world. "To communicate and reach the Arab world, it is important to communicate in their own language. We translate materials from progressive and democratic voices in the West into Arabic and make them available to Arab people in the Middle East who otherwise cannot access the material," said Zvi Mazel, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt and head of the new site -

    Mazel, whose project falls under the auspices of the Jerusalem Ce nter for Public Affairs think tank, has a history of involvement with similar projects. He has already created a section on the center's Hebrew website which translates Arabic texts into Hebrew, to allow Israelis better insight into emerging thinking from the Arab-speaking world. "We are already getting feedback and hope to grow and establish a broader audience," said Mazel of the new site launched three months ago. He recounts an e-mail received this week from a reader in Yemen who wanted to find ways to work "in cooperation with the site to stop" extremist Muslim voices that are dominating the region. Other readers, however, blast the site as a "Zionist enterprise." "Of course, I know we cannot reach everyone - and we won't appeal to everyone. At least now this information is out there and available in Arabic," said Mazel. (Jerusalem Post)


now for the rest

Prime source: Daily Alert of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs


The Elimination of Imad Mughniyeh - Editorial (Ha'aretz)

  • In December 2006, Israel's Supreme Court authorized the defense establishment to carry out targeted killings as an unavoidable part of the war against terror. This license to kill was restricted through a number of stringent conditions. It cannot come in revenge, or as punishment for a past terrorist act, but to prevent future terrorism. The threat posed by that person must be "strong and convincing" and the person must be party to "continuous activity." The Supreme Court forbids its use when the person can be arrested without posing a threat to the lives of soldiers.

  • It seems that according to the rules set by the Supreme Court, Imad Mughniyeh justly deserved his assassination. When there is no choice, when terrorism directed against Western, Israeli and Jewish targets is evil and senseless, and cannot be contained through diplomatic means, no method has been invented that is more reasonable than the assassination of those who have made terrorism their life's work.

  • The argument that the price of Mughniyeh's assassination may be high and cost human lives is not applicable in this case, when no one can assess what the cost would be if Mughniyeh was allowed to live. There can be no doubt about the future plans of the person who was considered Hizbullah's chief strategist and head of its operations.

  • In a war where there is no possibility of compromise that can end it, the sole option possible is the use of force. In the foreseeable future, it seems, all that Israel can do is deter and foil terrorism, in parallel with peace talks with those who have been weaned from terrorism.


Top Hizbullah Terrorist Leader Killed in Damascus Bombing

Hizbullah says one of its leaders, Imad Mughniyeh, has been killed in a bombing in Damascus. (BBC News)

    Imad Mughniyeh, head of special overseas operations for Hizbullah, was originally a member of Fatah in southern Lebanon and served in Force-17, Arafat's personal guard. In the 1980s he was responsible for planning the kidnapping of Western hostages in Lebanon and the attacks on the U.S. Embassy and Marine headquarters in Beirut that killed 241 Americans. He planned two bomb attacks in Argentina against the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish Community Center. In 2003 he was involved in attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq. (Daily Alert-1Dec03)

    See also Hizbullah Terror Ch ief Was More Wanted than Nasrallah - Yossi Melman

Imad Mughniyeh first started as head of security for Hizbullah, afterwards leading their operational command, until he reached his current status of "super chief of staff." Mughniyeh was the number one wanted terrorist on Israel's list, ahead of Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah. (Ha'aretz)

        See also Hizbullah Commander on U.S. "Most Wanted" List Killed (CNN)


Hizbullah's Mughniyeh: Not Everyone Is Replaceable - Amir Oren

Mughniyeh's assassination will challenge the myth that "everyone can be replaced." This myth aims to keep Israel and other countries from targeting senior figures in terrorist organizations, under the theory that there is no point in taking such action if it further enrages the masses and stokes their determination to rally to the cause. Moreover, sometimes the successor is more effective and worse for Israel than his predecessor. The standard example is the killing of Hizbullah leader Abbas Musawi 16 years ago. If Musawi was trouble, his successor, Hassan Nasrallah, is worse trouble.

    Judging from the behavior of Nasrallah and Mughniyeh, we can conclude that they doubted the assumption that they are replaceable. Whoever decided to murder Lebanese leaders Bashir Gemeyal and Rafik Hariri did not avoid such attacks because ot her leaders would have filled their spot. The murderers assumed, justifiably, that the quality of the original cannot be imitated. Mughniyeh belonged to the blacklist of arch-terrorists whose organizations will find it very difficult to replace them. (Ha'aretz)


Hamas Must End Attacks on Israel - Editorial

If the terrorists of Hamas were firing lethal rockets into any country besides Israel, howls of outrage would rise from every corner of the world. The double standard is immoral and unacceptable, just as Hamas' rocket attacks on Israel's civilian communities like Sderot are increasingly intolerable. Since Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza in 2005, more than 4,000 rocket and mortar shells have been fired at Israel, 420 this year alone. Homes, buildings, roads and power lines have been destroyed. The number of wounded Israelis, terrorized civilians and traumatized children rises by the day. Backed by Syria and Iran, Hamas is determined to prevent Israel from reaching a peace deal with Palestinians on the West Bank.

    Meanwhile, the world looks the other way, but Israelis can't afford to. An Israeli ground invasion of Gaza would clearly be a last resort, but what are the choices? All nations have a right to self-defense. When Israel exercises this right, as it eventually must, barring an end to attacks from Gaza, no one should be surprised. (Miami Herald)


Hamas Must Stand Down - Osama Al-Sharif

Hamas is looking increasingly like a spent force. Hamas is slowly turning into a liability for all Palestinians, putting its own political interests above those of its besieged people. One could sympathize with claims that the coup that Hamas carried out in the summer of last year came to pre-empt a certain conspiracy by a Fatah leader, Mohammad Dahlan, and the CIA to topple the movement and create a new power system in Gaza. But today Hamas has lost the moral high ground, and its intransigence to keep control of Gaza at any cost is dangerous, if not suicidal.

    Few could find excuses for the movement's decision to raise the ante with Israel and provoke a series of reactions that could include a complete invasion and reoccupation of Gaza. Hamas has rejected offers to reopen the international crossing po ints in accordance with signed agreements and treaties. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)


Dead in Damascus - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)

  • Before Osama bin Laden took the spotlight, Mughniyeh was probably the world's most wanted and elusive terrorist, a man with an FBI price tag of $5 million on his head. He masterminded some of Hizbullah's deadliest attacks in the 1980s and 1990s, including:

o   The 241 U.S. Marines and 58 French soldiers who died in the 1983 truck bombings in Beirut along with 63 civilians, including 17 Americans, who died in the simultaneous bombing of the U.S. embassy there.

o   Robert Stethem, the Navy diver whose beaten body was left on the tarmac during the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847.

o   William Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut who was kidnapped, tortured and killed in the mid-1980s.

o   Twenty-nine people who died in the 1992 bombing of Israel's embassy in Buenos Aires and 85 more killed in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish Center in Buenos Aires.

  • Mughniyeh died in a car bombing, probably orchestrated by the Mossad, though Israel denies it. It'd be nice to think the CIA was up to this, but we have our doubts.

    See also Mughniyeh Directed Execution of U.S. Peace Envoy in Beirut - Sara A. Carter and Bill Gertz

A classified Defense Intelligence Agency report stated that Mughniyeh "was in charge of the execution" of Marine Corps Col. William Higgins, who was captured by Hizbullah terrorists while serving the UN on a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon in 1988. (Washington Times)


Olmert: Iran "Moving Forward" on Atom Bomb

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday in Berlin that Israel still "is of the opinion that the Iranians are moving forward with their plans to create a capacity for non-conventional weapons." "Tell me, why does Iran need enriched uranium at a time when they are supplied by (the) Russians the nuclear fuel for the civilian projects?...What else do they plan for which they need the most sophisticated ballistic missiles?" "Iran is a force that is talking explicitly about using the power in order to liquidate other countries, and I think this is a good enough reason why we should focus on Iran and do everything to prevent Iran from having nuclear capacity," he said. (AP/International Herald Tribune)


Gulf Arabs See Israel Stopping Iran Bomb - Mark Trevelyan (Reuters)

    Gulf states believe Israel will destroy Iran's nuclear program rather than allow it to acquire an atomic bomb, an adviser to the Kuwaiti government and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said on Tuesday.

    If Iran did build the bomb, said adviser Sami Alfaraj, then the Jewish state might be one of the countries - along with the U.S. and Pakistan - Gulf Arab nations would ask to provide a "nuclear umbrella" to guarantee their security.

    Alfaraj, president of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies, said Israel might bomb Iranian nuclear facilities in the same way it destroyed Iraq's atomic reactor at Osirak in 1981.


The Bush Administration and the Middle East - Reuel Marc Gerecht

The Levant has not been kind to the Bush administration. The Israeli-Palestinian confrontation is as it was in 2000: an event controlled by the continuing Islamist evolution of the Palestinian people, who do not in sufficient numbers countenance peace with a Jewish state. The only real question remaining is whether the Fatah dictatorship on the West Bank will evolve quickly or slowly into a spiritual twin of Hamas. President Bush got the order backwards in his post-Annapolis speeches, suggesting that the Palestinians need to be able to envision a complete state living side by side with Israel so that democracy can triumph. Democracy did triumph among the Palestinians - Hamas won. Arab autocrats sign peace treaties with Israel; Arab democrats won't.

    Increasingly, Muslims, especially devout Musli ms, are backing democratic politics because they see this as the only way to restore legitimacy to government. Democracy, not dictatorship, opens societies to debates, which fundamentalists may well win. Elections that allow fundamentalists a chance to triumph - not police-state repression - is the key to eventually destroying the appeal of the extremists. As always, bin Laden is a helpful guide: If he loathes democracy among Muslims, it's a good reason to support it.

    Hamas' triumph in the Palestinian elections of January 2006 probably put the last nail in the coffin of the Bush administration's efforts to encourage reform in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the two countries that drove the spread of modern Islamic radicalism. Even the relatively moderate, state-supported version of the Saudi Wahhabi faith is inimical to what Muslims historically have considered mainstream. It is also organically anti-American. On a global level, it is more dangerous than anything th at has ever come out of Iran. The writer is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. (Weekly Standard)


Annapolis - Road to Nowhere - Zalman Shoval

In an unimplementable "shelf agreement," Israel will be seen to have committed itself to certain far-reaching steps that it has not implemented. On the one hand, this will be seen as the starting point for any future negotiations, and on the other hand, it will invite increasing pressure on Israel, with the added element of ongoing terror.

    When Israel originally accepted the Roadmap, it was stipulated that there would be no negotiations on the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza (Phases 2 and 3) until the Palestinians first fulfill their security commitments in accordance with Phase 1. If those pre-conditions for negotiations from 2003 have already melted away four years later, then why shouldn't Annapolis pre-conditions for implementation of the "shelf agreement" melt away four years from now? The writer served as Israel's ambassador to the Washington (1990-93, 1998-2000). (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)


If They Fire on Us, We Have to Fight Back Without Hesitation - President Shimon Peres (President of Israel Spokesperson's Office/IMRA)

President Shimon Peres said Tuesday:

  • "Three things must be done in view of the situation in Sderot and Gaza. The first, there must be complete solidarity among the society in Israel. All the people must be united with and must strengthen the citizens of Sderot - not only Tel Aviv but all the cities in Israel must identify with Sderot. When the leg of the small boy, Osher Tawito, was amputated, it was as if the leg of an entire generation was amputated. Everyone must be part of the pain of the family and the suffering of the inhabitants of Sderot."

  • "The second thing that needs to be done - If they fire on us, we must fight back without hesitation and without compromise. The people of Israel are a people which defends itself and does not want war. We do not want to harm innocent citizens, but we will not permit our enemies to harm our citizens."

  • Third, "worldwide public opinion must be recruited - both in the political and diplomatic track and in widespread international information, as despicable crimes are being perpetrated against Sderot, crimes which are against international law. The moment the firing of missiles on Israel stops - quiet will reign in Gaza. The world must understand this. The head of the Hamas in Gaza must know that those who are harmed, eventually, will be those who break the law itself."


Hamas Leaders in Hiding - Diaa Hadid

Hamas leaders in Gaza turned off their cell phones, avoided public appearances and were sleeping in safe houses after Israel threatened Monday to target those responsible for Palestinian rocket attacks on border towns.

    On Monday, Vice Premier Haim Ramon said, "I believe the combination of (Israeli) steps against Hamas in Gaza will bring an end to the Hamas regime in Gaza." It might take a few months, but "the Hamas regime in Gaza will not last." Ramon also scaled back hopes for a peace treaty this year with moderate Palestinians, saying the goal now is a "declaration of principles."

    Also Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, "I don't see the Palestinians giving Gaza back to Fatah....Outside developments might bring this about." Israel, which is negotiating a peace deal with Palestinians based in the West Bank, has made it clear it has no intention of implementing any accord until Hamas is removed from power in Gaza. (AP/Washington Post)


Rep. Tom Lantos, Holocaust Survivor, Dies at 80 - Adam Bernstein

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Cal.), whose experience as the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress shaped his strong support for human rights, died Monday of esophageal cancer. Lantos, born in Budapest to Hungarian Jews, served 14 terms in the House where he was senior Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. He was co-chairman and founder of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, a group that highlights human rights violations around the world. In 2006, he was among several members of Congress willingly arrested for protesting outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington to denounce the government's role in the killings in Darfur.

    During the Nazi occupation of Hungary, Lantos twice escaped from a forced labor camp. The second time, he found safety in a Budapest apartment r ented by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. Wearing a military cadet uniform, Lantos used his Aryan appearance - light hair and blue eyes - to deliver food and other supplies to Jews in other safe houses Wallenberg rented. (Washington Post)

    See also The Lantos Legacy - Editorial

Tom Lantos had the aura of a statesman: wavy white hair and dignified old world bearing. But there was nothing restrained about the causes he took on in the name of human rights. Genocide in Sudan, repression in Burma, support for the Dalai Lama and pressure on Japan to apologize for sex slaves in World War II were among the issues that Lantos raised unabashedly. His example as a thoughtful and tough-minded statesman will endure. The U.S. Congress will miss a leader of his stature and principle. (San Francisco Chronicle)


Palestinians Ask U.S. to Intervene in Suits Over Terrorist Attacks - Glenn Kessler

The State Department is considering supporting the Palestinian Authority in its quest to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments won by American victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel. Palestinian officials have argued that it makes no sense for the U.S. to be providing millions of dollars in aid to the PA while U.S. courts are threatening to bankrupt it. Secretary of State Rice wrote 13 months ago that "the United States is not party to these enforcement proceedings." But in December, a U.S. federal judge asked the government whether it would get involved, creating the current dilemma for the administration.

    Victims said that a U.S. intervention with the courts would make a mockery of the administration's fight against terrorism. "If th e State Department tips the scales of justice against the victims in order to support adjudicated terrorists, the war on terrorism will be seen throughout the world as a farce," said David J. Strachman, a Rhode Island lawyer who has spearheaded many of the lawsuits. (Washington Post)


Sderot as Stalingrad - Bradley Burston

The longer the siege against the civilian population of Sderot continues, the more the Palestinians are seen more as aggressors and less as victims. Palestinian rocket fire has turned Sderot into a version of Stalingrad, whose stand against the Germans in World War II came to be viewed by many as the turning point in the war. The world is beginning to view the people of Sderot as true victims of brutality against civilians. The Kassam rockets have acted to delegitimize the Palestinians as a people capable of governing an independent state.

    The perceived message of the Kassam is: "We will drive you out of Sderot, and from Ashkelon after that, and out of all the kibbutzim that line the Israeli-Gaza border that were one of the strongest voices in favor of the establishment of a Palestinian state. Land for peace is dead. Israel is dead. It's only a m atter of time." (Ha'aretz)


Gaza, Stripped - Dennis Ross

The irony of Palestinians literally streaming out of Gaza was not lost on some Arab observers. In recent days, Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed, the director of Al-Arabiya television, and Tariq Alhomayed, the editor of Asharq Alawsat, both drew attention to the failures of Hamas governance; the utter illogic of its rocket-firing policy, for which Palestinians pay a heavy price; and Hamas' terrible indifference to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza.

    Egypt made commitments to Israel at the time of its withdrawal from Gaza on smuggling and the border that have not been fulfilled. Given that history, if Egypt now finds a way to allow Hamas to gain far more control over the border and acquiesces about Hamas being able to bring whoever and whatever it wants into Gaza, Israel will not only face a greater threat but also conclude th at commitments made by others on security amount to little more than slogans. The writer is counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (New Republic)


Bush's Mideast U-Turn - Bassem Eid and Natan Sharansky (Wall Street Journal)

  • On June 24, 2002, President Bush presented his vision for an Israeli-Palestinian peace. The real breakthrough of Bush's vision was not his call for a two-state solution or even the call for Palestinians to "choose leaders not compromised by terror." Rather, the breakthrough was in making peace conditional on a fundamental transformation of Palestinian society:

  • "I call upon [Palestinians] to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts....A Palestinian state will never be created by terror - it will be built through reform. And reform must be more than cosmetic change, or veiled attempt to preserve the status quo. True reform will require entirely new political and economic institutions, based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism."

  • Bush's speech was supposed to shift the focus to where it should have always been: on helping Palestinians build a decent society that would protect the rights of their own people and promote peace with its neighbors. It was supposed to begin the hard work of helping Palestinians reconstruct their civil society, build a free economy, establish real courts, reform their security services, and revamp their educational system.

  • The current peacemaking round will prove disastrous because it ignores what is most important. Rather than begin the long and difficult process to transform Palestinian society and ultimately pave the road to peace, the administration has consistently supported quick and foolish solutions: from crafting a "road map" that only paid lip service to reform; to backing a unilateral disengagement that by its nature ignored Palestinian society; to pressing for snap elections that preceded rather than followed reform and thereby brought Hamas to power.

  • Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayad have become the new "moderates" who need to be strengthened at all costs. Rather than establish a clear link between support for the PA and reform, and openly embrace the genuine Palestinian reformers who are the democratic world's true allies, Abbas is promised billions despite having done nothing. With the media entirely under his control, incitement continues and no one raises serious objections.

  • President Bush should spend his final year in office helping Palestinians begin the transformation of their society so that the vision he once spoke of so eloquently will have a chance to come to fruition some day. We have wasted too much time strengthening leaders and reaching for the moon. Let's start strengthening Palestinian society and begin a real peace process once and for all.

Mr. Eid is executive director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. Mr. Sharansky is chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies.


Hamas TV Children Sing: "We Will Never Recognize Israel" - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch/IMRA)

    Hamas' Al-Aksa Television's children's show "Tomorrow's Pioneers" previously featured Farfur the mouse and Nahul the bee, both "martyred" by Israelis.

    On Feb. 8, the Hamas rabbit, named Assud (lion), boasted, "I, Assud, will finish off the Jews and eat them." The girl hostess agrees: "Allah Willing!"

    In the latest episode, we learn that Assud has come from Lebanon "in order to return to the homeland and liberate it."

    The program ends with singing: "We will never recognize Israel." And the hostess emphasizes: "until we liberate our homeland from the Zionist filth."

    View Video: Hamas Rabbit Wants to Eat Jews (Palestinian Media Watch/YouTube )


The Fraudulent Scholarship of Professors Walt and Mearsheimer - Alex Safian

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer uses numerous false or falsified quotations attributed to Israeli leaders to make its argument. Thus they claim that the following statement by Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, proved that Israel was always intent on expelling and dispossessing the Palestinians: "After the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine" (p. 93). The quote is from a meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive, and here's what Ben-Gurion actually said according to the meeting protocol:

    "Mr. Ben-Gurion: The starting point for a solution of the question of the Arabs in the Jewish state is, in his view, the need to prepare the ground for an Arab-Jewish agreement; he supports the Jewish state [on a small part of Palestine], not because he is satisfied with part of the country, but on the basis of the assumption that after we constitute a large force following the establishment of the state - we will cancel the partition [of the country between Jews and Arabs] and we will expand throughout the Land of Israel."

    "Mr. Shapira [a JAE member]: By force as well?"

    "Mr. Ben-Gurion: Through mutual understanding and Jewish-Arab agreement. So long as we are weak and few the Arabs have neither the need nor the interest to conclude an alliance with us....We are obliged to run the state in such a way that will win us the friendship of the Arabs both within and outside the state." In other words, Ben-Gurion was stating exactly the opposite of what Walt and Mearsheimer would have their readers believe. (CAMERA)


The Poisonous Myth of "Israeli Apartheid" - Alan Baker

Last week, various university campuses hosted events connected to Israeli Apartheid Week. This annual international phenomenon, which began in 2005, serves as an opportunity for those who demonize Israel to spew hatred. A major theme is that Israel is the Middle East equivalent of South Africa's infamous apartheid regime. This comparison betrays an acute ignorance - both of the meaning of the word "apartheid" and of the nature of the State of Israel. Apartheid is the state-sanctioned and -generated degradation of one or more ethnic groups, based on an assumption of racial inferiority. How anyone could seriously equate Israel with such a system defies logic.

    Israel is a liberal democracy, guaranteeing civil, religious and social equality to all its citizens - including Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze and Baha'is. Israel's Arab citizens have the right to vote, and are represented by three Arab political parties in Israel's parliament. Followers of the Baha'i religion, who are persecuted in Iran, maintain their central religious institutions in Haifa and Acre in Israel.

    Arabic is an official language, together with Hebrew. All legislation, jurisprudence and official documentation appear in Arabic. Road signs are in Hebrew and Arabic. There is an Arab member of the Israeli cabinet and an Arab judge on the Supreme Court. One third of the staff of Israel's Hadassah Hospital are Arab. Arabs have complete and equal access to all Israeli universities and Haifa University, for example, is 20% Arab. Does any of this sound like "apartheid"? The writer is the Israeli ambassador to Canada. (National Post-Canada)

    See also Apartheid Label Is Grossly Misappli ed to Israel - Gary Yevelev

Apartheid Week is one of many symptoms of the unjust double standard that the international community has applied to Israel since its birth. Critics target Israel's Law of Return for Jews as an "apartheid" policy while almost identical citizenship laws in countries like Germany and Ireland go unnoticed. Almost no one criticizes Jordan for its law barring Jews from becoming citizens. The irresponsible use of "apartheid" dilutes the power of the word, hinders efforts at peace, and leads to ignorance of other glaring cases of injustice, both in the Middle East and worldwide. (Daily Californian)



ISRAEL: Myths and Facts


“Israel’s policy of assassinating Palestinian terrorists is immoral and counterproductive.”




Israel is faced with a nearly impossible situation in attempting to protect its civilian population from Palestinians who are prepared to blow themselves up to murder innocent Jews. One strategy for dealing with the problem has been to pursue negotiations to resolve all of the conflicts with the Palestinians and offer to trade land for peace. After Israel gave back much of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and offered virtually all of the remainder, however, the Palestinians chose to use violence to try to force Israel to capitulate to all their demands.


“The assassination of Hamas head Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 2004 played in the world as the killing of a crippled holy man by Israeli rockets as he was leaving the mosque in a wheelchair after morning prayers. Because of secrecy surrounding the operation, no file was prepared to explain why he was being killed, that he was an arch-terrorist who had, two days previously, sent two Gaza suicide bombers into Ashdod Port in an attempt to cause a mega-blast of the fuel and nitrates stored there. Or that he had been directly responsible for the deaths of scores, if not hundreds of Israelis.” 

— Columnist Hirsh Goodman40


A second strategy is for Israel to “exercise restraint,” that is, not respond to Palestinian terror. The international community lauds Israel when it turns the other cheek after heinous attacks. While this restraint might win praise from world leaders, it does nothing to assuage the pain of the victims or to prevent further attacks. Moreover, the same nations that urge Israel to exercise control have often reacted forcefully when put in similar situations. For example, the British assassinated Nazis after World War II and targeted IRA terrorists in Northern Ireland. The Clinton Administration attempted to assassinate Osama bin Laden in 1998 in retaliation for his role in the bombings of the United States embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. The Administration of George W. Bush has said it also would not hesitate to kill bin Laden and has targeted a number of other al-Qaeda operatives.41On November 4, 2002, for example, the United States killed six suspected al-Qaeda members in Yemen with a Hellfire missile fired from an unmanned CIA drone at the car in which they were traveling.42


In April 1986, after the U.S. determined that Libya had directed the terrorist bombing of a West Berlin discotheque that killed one American and injured 200 others, it launched a raid on a series of Libyan targets, including President Muammar Qaddafi’s home. Qaddafi escaped, but his infant daughter was killed and two of his other children were wounded. In addition, a missile went off track and caused fatalities in a civilian neighborhood. President Reagan justified the action as self-defense against Libya’s state-sponsored terrorism. “As a matter of self-defense, any nation victimized by terrorism has an inherent right to respond with force to deter new acts of terror. I felt we must show Qaddafi that there was a price he would have to pay for that kind of behavior and that we wouldn’t let him get away with it.” 43 More recently, George W. Bush ordered “hits” on the Iraqi political leadership during the 2003 war in Iraq.


Israel has chosen a third option – eliminating the masterminds of terror attacks. It is a policy that is supported by a vast majority of the public (70 percent in an August 2001 Haaretz poll supported the general policy and a similar percentage in 2003 specifically backed the attempt to kill the leader of Hamas). The policy is also supported by the American public according to an August 2001 poll by the America Middle East Information Network. The survey found that 73 percent of respondents felt Israel was justified in killing terrorists if it had proof they were planning bombings or other attacks that could kill Israelis.44


Then Deputy Chief of Staff Major-General Moshe Ya’alon explained the policy this way:


There are no executions without a trial. There is no avenging someone who had carried out an attack a month ago. We are acting against those who are waging terror against us. We prefer to arrest them and have detained over 1,000. But if we can’t, and the Palestinians won’t, then we have no other choice but to defend ourselves.45

The Israeli government also went through a legal process before adopting the policy of targeted killings. Israel’s attorney general reviewed the policy and determined that it is legal under Israeli and international law.46


Targeting the terrorists has a number of benefits. First, it places a price on terror: Israelis can’t be attacked with impunity anymore, for terrorists know that if they target others, they will become targets themselves. Second, it is a method of self-defense: pre-emptive strikes eliminate the people who would otherwise murder Israelis. While it is true that there are others to take their place, they can do so only with the knowledge they too will become targets, and leaders are not easily replaceable. Third, it throws the terrorists off balance. Extremists can no longer nonchalantly plan an operation; rather, they must stay on the move, look over their shoulders at all times, and work much harder to carry out their goals.


Of course, the policy also has costs. Besides international condemnation, Israel risks revealing informers who often provide the information needed to find the terrorists. Soldiers also must engage in sometimes high-risk operations that occasionally cause tragic collateral damage to property and persons.

The most common criticism of “targeted killings” is that they do no good because they perpetuate a cycle of violence whereby the terrorists seek revenge. This is probably the least compelling argument against the policy, because the people who blow themselves up to become martyrs could always find a justification for their actions. They are determined to bomb the Jews out of the Middle East and will not stop until their goal is achieved.


Case Study

In August 2002, we had all the leadership of Hamas — Sheikh Yassin and all his military one room in a three-story house and we knew we needed a 2,000-pound bomb to eliminate all of them — the whole leadership, 16 people, all the worst terrorists. Think about having Osama bin Laden and all the top leadership of al-Qaeda in one house. However, due to the criticism in Israeli society and in the media, and due to the consequences of innocent Palestinians being killed, a 2,000-pound bomb was not approved and we hit the building with a much smaller bomb. There was a lot of dust, a lot of noise, but they all got up and ran away and we missed the opportunity. So the ethical dilemmas are always there.47


40Hirsh Goodman, “A Lesson Learned,” Jerusalem Report, (September 19, 2005).