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      Fundamentally Freund
      by Michael Freund
      An alternative approach to Israeli political commentary.
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      Michael Freund is Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists "lost Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people. He writes a syndicated column and feature stories for the Jerusalem Post. Previously, he served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Israeli Prime Minister´s Office under former premier Benjamin Netanyahu. A native of New York, he holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He has lived in Israel for the past decade.
      Tammuz 4, 5769, 6/26/2009

      Michael Jackson, Anti-Semite

      Back in November 2005, Jackson was caught on tape in a voicemail to one of his former business managers calling Jews "leeches".
      While much of the world mourns the untimely death of the "King of Pop" Michael Jackson, it is worth recalling one of Mr. Jackson's more unfortunate qualities: he was an anti-Semite.

      In case you think I am making this up, allow me to refresh your memory.

      Back in November 2005, Jackson was caught on tape in a voicemail to one of his former business managers calling Jews "leeches". The tapes were played on ABC's Good Morning America program, and Jackson was heard saying, "They suck…they're like leeches. It's a conspiracy. The Jews do it on purpose."

      And in 1995, Jackson provoked a firestorm of protest when he released an album called HIStory containing a song entitled "They don't care about us" which had the following lyrics: "Jew me, sue me" and "Kick me, kike me". He subsequently promised to re-record the song and delete the offending lyrics.

      But then, in February 1996, Jackson nonetheless released a video of the song in which he had re-instated the brazenly anti-Semitic remarks.

      So before you go shedding a tear in Michael Jackson's memory, take a moment and consider the hate that he spewed against Jews, both in private and in public.

      And then maybe you'll consider saving those tears for someone far more deserving.


      Sivan 13, 5769, 6/5/2009

      What was Obama thinking?

      US President Barack Obama's speech yesterday in Cairo may very well go down in history as a turning point, though not of the sort that the mainstream media and pundits are hoping for.

      Rather than heralding a new era in relations between the West and Islam, the president's performance projected weakness and lack of resolve. And while his charm and poise may work well with voters in Middle America, among the radicals and jihadists of the Middle East they will be viewed with litte more than contempt and derision.

      Indeed, the very opening of his remarks reveal just how out of touch Obama is with the reality on the ground in the region.

      The president started off by saying the following, "Good afternoon. I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has had stood as a beacon of Islamic learning. And for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt's advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress."

      Did he say "harmony between tradition and progress"?

      What Obama undoubtedly did not realize is that Grand Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the man who stands at the head of Al-Azhar, is anything but a beacon of progress.

      Back in November 2004, Tantawi led the prayer services at Yasser Arafat's funeral in Ramallah, where he praised the Palestinian terrorist by saying, "Arafat has done his duty as a defender of the Palestinian cause, with courage and honesty".

      Furthermore, as historian Benny Morris noted in The New Republic last year, Tantawi authored a book in the late 1960s called The Jews in the Qur'an and the Traditions which was reissued in 1986 and which said as follows: "The Qur'an describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e., killing the prophets of Allah, corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places, consuming the people's wealth frivolously, refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted lasciviousness ... only a minority of Jews keep their word.... [But] not all Jews are the same. The good ones become Muslims."

      And, as Morris further pointed out, Tantawi has called Jews "the descendants of apes and pigs."

      What was Obama thinking in heaping praise on an institution run by such a man? Is this the type of person to be held up as an example of "the harmony between tradition and progress"?

      If you listen carefully, you can hear the sounds of snickering in Damascus, Teheran and Riyadh, as the region's extremists enjoy a good laugh at the naivete of America's commander-in-chief.


      Sivan 10, 5769, 6/2/2009

      Obama turns the screws on Israel

      Who does Obama think he is to be speaking so brusquely to Israel?
      In advance of his upcoming speech in Cairo to the Arab world, there is mounting evidence that US President Barack Obama is turning up the pressure on Israel in order to appease the Muslim world.

      A Reuters story today contains some absolutely astonishing tidbits of information which, if true, demonstrate the extent to which the new administration in Washington feels free to dictate to Israel about its behavior.

      According to the report, George Mitchell, Obama's Middle East envoy, told Israeli officials at a meeting in London last week that, "The president doesn't want to see even one cement mixer in the West Bank", which was a rather undiplomatic way of saying that he wants all construction of Jewish homes in the area to cease.

      What kind of way is that to speak to an ally? Who does Obama think he is to be speaking so brusquely to Israel?

      But wait, it gets worse.....

      The Reuters story also quotes an unnamed political source revealing a bombshell, asserting that Israel's leaders are being kept in the dark about the contents of Obama's upcoming speech. "They are waiting to hear (Obama's) speech. They have no idea what he will say. With Bush they would have had the draft in advance. But they are in the dark. This is part of the American withdrawal of cooperation."

      That is a sure enough sign that whatever Obama plans to say about the Middle East, it will certainly come as an unpleasant surprise for Israel and its supporters.

      Stay tuned....

      Iyar 27, 5769, 5/21/2009

      Jerusalem is ours forever!!

      What the Romans sought to quash forever has miraculously come back to life, and we must be grateful to G-d for the mercy He has shown in bringing about our wondrous return.
      This Friday marks 42 years on the Hebrew calendar since Israeli forces liberated eastern Jerusalem and restored the Temple Mount and the Western Wall to Jewish hands.
      But with the passing of each year, it is hard to escape the gnawing feeling that the reunified city is increasingly coming under siege yet again. Never, it seems, has the pressure been so great for Israel to divide it and "share" it with our enemies.
      As I argue in the column below, just like the Jews of centuries past we must not be deterred. Israel must continue to build, expanding Jewish Jerusalem whether our friends and foes like it or not.
      Have a happy Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Liberation Day),
      Michael Freund

      The Longest Battle

      By Michael Freund

      The emperor Vespasian must be rolling over in his grave. Some 19 centuries after the nefarious Roman ruler sent his legions to pillage Jerusalem under the command of his son Titus, the city once again serves as the united capital of a sovereign Jewish state.

      It just goes to show what a difference two millennia can make. Back then, at the height of the struggle, the Romans were convinced of their own superiority. They looked down on the Jews with contempt, making light of their religious beliefs and military prowess, and confident that they would crush them once and for all.

      In his book The Jewish War, the historian Josephus records the speech given by Titus to his men as he urged them to press forward in the battle for Jerusalem. "It is unbecoming you, who are Romans and my soldiers," Titus told them, "to be inferior to Jews, either in action of the hand, or in courage of the soul." He did not hesitate to assure them of "a certain and sudden victory," stressing the "immortality of those men who are slain in the midst of their martial bravery."

      Interestingly, if you replace the word "Romans" with "jihadists," Titus starts to sound a lot like an ancient version of a Hamas or al-Qaeda operative.

      The Romans, of course, did eventually prevail, murdering some 1.1 million Jews during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and taking another 97,000 into captivity, many of whom were either sold into slavery or fed to the lions.

      The Jewish commonwealth was snuffed out, the long and dark exile began and the Temple and its sacred daily rituals were abruptly taken from us. Nonetheless, despite the devastating blow which the Jewish people were dealt, here we are in 2009, preparing once again to celebrate Yom Yerushalayim.

      THIS FRIDAY marks 42 years on the Hebrew calendar since that wonderful day back in 1967 when Israel liberated the Old City and proudly raised the blue-and-white over the Temple Mount.

      What the Romans sought to quash forever has miraculously come back to life, and we must be grateful to G-d for the mercy He has shown in bringing about our wondrous return.

      And yet, even as commemorate this very special day, it is hard not to escape the gnawing feeling that with each passing year, the reunified city of Jerusalem is increasingly coming under siege yet again. Never, it seems, has the pressure been so great, with most of the world demanding that we "share" or "internationalize" the city, and criticizing even the most mundane of governmental actions regarding Jerusalem.

      Earlier this month, for example, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a special report slamming Israel for demolishing Palestinian homes built without permits in the eastern part of the city. This was followed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon blasting the Jewish state publicly for its policies in this regard. And back in March, during her visit to the region, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also highlighted the issue of house demolitions, saying that they were "not in keeping with the obligations entered into under the road map."

      Where else in the world does the enforcement of local building codes generate such condemnation? It is a sign of how obsessed the international community has become with twisting our collective arm to redivide the city in order to make way for a Palestinian state.

      Indeed, they want nothing less than to see a Palestinian flag flying over Jerusalem. How will we ever be able to withstand such pressure? In this respect, it is worth recalling an episode that took place more than a century ago here in Jerusalem, one that contains within it the key to ensuring our continued control over the Holy City.

      ON LAG BA'OMER in 1869, the cornerstone was laid for Nahalat Shiva, the first Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem built outside the walls of the Old City. Two of the main people behind its establishment were Rabbi Yosef Rivlin and Rabbi Yoel Moshe Salomon, and they were aided in their efforts by Rabbi Meir Auerbach and Rabbi Binyamin Beinish Salant (who was the son of Jerusalem's chief rabbi at the time, Rabbi Shmuel Salant, a relative of mine).

      By 1875, some 50 Jewish families were living in the area. As author Dovid Rossof recounts in his wonderful book, Where Heaven Touches Earth: Jewish Life in Jerusalem From Medieval Times to the Present, the community quickly came under intense pressure from its Arab neighbors. One night, Rivlin was awakened to the sounds of a commotion. When he looked through the window, he saw a group of Arab men mulling about. Their leader exhorted them, "Remember! Slaughter them all and then take their lumber!" Dozens of Arabs armed with clubs, daggers and guns rapidly approached the entrance to the neighborhood, preparing to attack.

      Rivlin reached for his gun and his shofar. He stood by the window and concentrated deeply for several seconds, before bringing the shofar to his lips and blowing the notes that are sounded on Rosh Hashana. He took a breath and then fired a shot out the window, before proceeding to blow the shofar yet again.

      Suddenly, the Arabs were struck with terror. "Run for your lives!" one shouted hysterically. "The Jews are killing us!" yelled another, and the group fled in panic and disarray. Later, the residents learned that the Arabs had planned to kill them all and take their possessions.

      "This time," Rivlin told his neighbors, "The L-rd was with us. Let us pray that the fear which G-d put into them will keep them away from us forever."

      Just as it was over a century ago, Jerusalem is again under siege. And just as our adversaries then sought to remove the Jewish presence from parts of the city, they now seek to do so once more. But like the residents of Nahalat Shiva, we must not be deterred. They continued to build, expanding Jewish Jerusalem whether their foes liked it or not. And that too must be our guide.

      Whether it is the E1 project connecting Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim, or the nascent Jewish neighborhoods near the Beit Orot yeshiva and the Tomb of Shimon Hatzaddik, it is essential that Israel continue to develop these areas. They will strengthen our capital and reinforce its Jewish majority, safeguarding the city and preventing it from ever being divided. Even in the face of American and Arab opposition, we must press forward with these important plans.

      By doing so, we can ensure that Jerusalem will remain ours, never again to be taken away. The last laugh will belong neither to Vespasian or to Titus, nor even their modern-day surrogates, but rather to the descendants of Judah whom they sought to destroy - which is, after all, as it should be.

      --- from the May 20 Jerusalem Post

      Iyar 25, 5769, 5/19/2009

      So, there's no military solution to terror?

      Guess what? Sri Lanka just defeated terror militarily.
      One of the primary assumptions of the Left went up in smoke yesterday, but don't expect to hear too much about it in the mainstream press.

      For years, the Left has drummed it into our heads that "there is no military solution" to terror, hence Israel has no choice but to negotiate with those seeking our destruction.

      But on the island nation of Sri Lanka, off the coast of India, the government there just succeeded in proving how wrong the Left is.

      After a quarter-century long campaign of terror waged by a group called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the government crushed the terrorists once and for all, with Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rakapaksa triumphantly telling his people they were at long last "liberated from separatist terror".

      The head of the LTTE, a murderous thug named Velupillai Prabhakaran, was found dead on the battlefield along with his top cronies, bringing an end to his attempt to carve out an independent Tamil state.

      In effect, Sri Lanka defied the critics and the naysayers, rolled up its sleeves and fought to free its people from the grip of the terrorists. Of course, had they listened to the likes of Israel's Left, and followed its policy prescriptions, they would likely have capitulated to the terrorists long ago. Now, however, the people of Sri Lanka can look forward to a future free of suicide bombings, massacres of civilians and other terrorist outrages.

      So the next time someone repeats the mantra and tells you: "But there is no military solution", just point them in the direction of the Indian Ocean and tell them to look at Sri Lanka.