Middle East 2:15 AM 3/10/2014
Jewish World 12:14 AM 3/10/2014
Middle East 1:14 AM 3/10/2014
The Jay Shapiro Hour
Torah Tidbits Audio
If Israel is America's closest ally in the region, then why is Obama trying to tie the Jewish state's hands in the face of an existential threat?
Even as the would-be Hitler of Persia, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, races towards the nuclear finish-line, the man sitting in the White House is doing little to stop him.
Indeed, as the Financial Times reports today, the Obama administration seems more concerned about Israel defending itself against Iran than about the Ayatollah's atomic ambitions.
According to the FT, CIA Chief Leon Panetta paid a secret visit to Israel two weeks ago. His goal was not to reassure the Jewish state or even allay its fears of a second Holocaust. Instead, his primary objective was to make sure that Israel does not attack Iran's nuclear installations without notifying the US in advance.
Doesn't the head of the CIA have better things to do with his time?
It seems that Washington is beginning to panic over a possible Israeli response much more than over the likelihood of Tehran being able to pull the nuclear trigger. Does this make sense?
If Israel is America's closest ally in the region, then why is Obama trying to tie the Jewish state's hands in the face of an existential threat? Whose side is Obama on?
To all those American Jews who cast their ballots for Barack Obama in last November's US Presidential election, it is time to admit the folly of your vote. By putting him in the Oval Office, you might just have endangered the future of the Jewish state.
It may only be May, but I think we already have a winner for the 2009 Chutzpah of the Year Award.
Testifying yesterday before the national commission of inquiry into the treatment of the Jews expelled from Gaza, Yonatan Bassi, who headed the government agency which completely mishandled their resettlement, naturally decided to duck all responsibility for his failures and instead pointed the finger of blame at the victims themselves.
Bassi had the gall to declare that the former residents of Gush Katif, who were summarily thrown out of their homes back in August 2005, were "largely to blame for their own predicament" according to Ha'aretz.
He insisted that the government had done everything it could to help them rebuild their lives, and that they had chosen not to cooperate. "The cow," Bassi said, using a rather odd analogy, "wants to feed more than the calf wants to eat."
I had to read his remarks twice, and pinch myself on the arm, to make sure that this wasn't some kind of heartless joke.
The fact of the matter is that there is almost universal recognition that the so-called "resettlement" of Gaza's Jews was ill-conceived, poorly-planned and disastrously-administered. Indeed, at a press conference yesterday prior to the start of the hearings, Doron Ben Shlomi, the head of the commission of inquiry, revealed that some 30 to 40 percent of Gaza's former Jewish residents still do not have permanent housing despite the passage of nearly 4 years since they were compelled to leave their homes. He noted that there are 300 families who are still stuck in temporary quarters, without the means to find permanent housing.
For Bassi to blame these innocent people who were forcibly uprooted against their will is simply unconscionable and pathetic, and it says more about him than it does about those he is trying to defame.
It takes a real man to admit when he is wrong, the old saying goes. Well, I might add, it takes a real jerk to cast the blame on others for his own failings - as Yonatan Bassi has so clearly demonstrated.
I am off to India today, where my organization Shavei Israel is convening its annual Leadership Training Seminar for members of the Bnei Menashe community. The Bnei Menashe are descendants of a Lost Tribe of Israel who are seeking to return to the Jewish people and to Israel. The seminar is aimed at training local leaders by giving them the knowledge and tools they need to strengthen communal education and programming. G-d willing, I'll return to blogging in early May.
May we only hear good news.
Israel's Christian Friends
By Michael Freund
Tucked away in the southeastern corner of Virginia, the city of Virginia Beach is about the last place one would expect to find a bastion of passionate pro-Israel sentiment.
With its seemingly endless miles of sand, waves and sun, the sprawling resort town, known as the proud host of the annual East Coast Surfing Championships, seems more well-suited to fun and games than to waging a war of ideas on behalf of the Jewish state. Yet it is precisely in this most unexpected of locales that one of Israel's staunchest allies and defenders can be found: Rev. Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, or CBN.
On a visit to the network's studios last week, I was moved by the level of heartfelt support for the Jewish state among the staff members. Nearly every one had been to Israel numerous times, and they described in great detail, and with genuine passion, their profound love for the country and its people.
Take, for example, CBN president and chief operating officer Michael Little, who has been to Israel 47 times and is already making plans for his next visit. And then there is network CEO Gordon Robertson, who described with great feeling his views on the Jewish roots of Christianity, and how the Bible mandates that one must stand with Israel, come what may.
Prior to interviewing me about events in the Middle East for CBN's daily news program, anchorwoman Wendy Griffith did something I never saw a journalist do before. She folded her hands together, bowed her head in prayer and humbly offered a solemn plea: "Bless Your people Israel and keep them safe," she said.
Peering from behind a video camera, one of the cameramen in the studio then quoted verses from Isaiah about the return of the Jewish people to Zion. "I pray about this on a daily basis," he said in earnest.
Where else can one find such a deeply-rooted love and concern for God's chosen people? Of course, the fact that many US Christians support Israel is nothing new. Much has been written in recent years about the closer ties that have been forged between the two - a fact that has generated no small amount of controversy among certain more liberal sectors of US Jewry.
But after my visit to CBN, and based on previous encounters I have had with other pro-Israel evangelical Christians, I am more convinced than ever that the Jewish state needs to undertake a coordinated effort to nurture and broaden this special relationship.
The fact of the matter is that Bible-believing Christians, even more so than US Jews, may represent the best hope for ensuring that long-term American support for Israel remains strong. Like it or not, American Jewry is steadily on the decline, as the realities of mounting intermarriage and assimilation continue to devour untold numbers of young Jews, leaving the community's future viability very much in doubt.
And as the US Jewish community grows smaller in size, its clout and influence will invariably diminish as well. That leaves the tens of millions of evangelical Christians in the US as the best possible vanguard to man the barricades on behalf of defending Israel in Washington.
ACCORDING TO THE Pew Center's 2008 Religious Landscape Survey, 26.3 percent of American adults identify themselves as evangelical Christians, making them the largest religious grouping in the US. And a study conducted by Pew three years ago found overwhelming support for Israel among evangelicals, concluding that "seven-in-ten white evangelicals (69%) believe God gave Israel to the Jewish people, and a solid majority (59%) believes Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy." Naturally, these believers "are much more likely than others to sympathize with Israel in its dispute with the Palestinians," said the report.
Indeed, the list of Christian personalities and organizations working on behalf of Israel in fields ranging from social welfare to public affairs is almost dizzying.
The Kansas-based Unity Coalition for Israel, for example, has built an enormous network, utilizing hundreds of organizations, to educate the American public about Israel.
Pastor John Hagee has turned Christians United for Israel into the largest Christian grassroots movement in the US, with state directors in all 50 states, and an annual Washington summit that brings out thousands of people from across the country to speak out on behalf of the Jewish state.
Veteran Christian broadcasters, such as Hal Lindsey, Janet Parshall and Earl Cox, reach tens of millions of viewers and listeners, explaining Israel's case and defending her from the onslaught of the mainstream press.
And then there is the Rev. Robert Stearns, whose New York-based Eagles Wings has for the past seven years organized an annual "Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem" each October. This year, organizers expect more than 200,000 churches in 175 countries to take part in praying for Israel and its welfare.
Locally, organizations such as the International Christian Embassy, Bridges for Peace and Christians for Israel provide aid to new immigrants, promote aliya and bring thousands of Christian pilgrims each year.
This plethora of activities underlines the extent to which evangelical Christians in the US, Europe and elsewhere can be counted on to back the Jewish state across a variety of spheres.
It is therefore essential that the country take additional steps to further strengthen this burgeoning alliance. This could include the appointment of a roving ambassador to the Christian world, tasked with responsibility for reinforcing Israel-Christian relations, and the convening of an annual summit of pro-Israel Christian leaders in Jerusalem under the auspices of the prime minister.
Rather than focusing solely on the solicitation of Christians' dollars, the country should seek to cement their devotion by more actively reaching out and courting their support, prayers and cooperation.
With so many challenges facing the Jewish state, it is time we recognize a clear and cogent fact: There are large numbers of Christians around the world ready and willing to stand with us.
And, I might add, thank G-d for that.
--- from the March 25 Jerusalem Post
That someone could raise an axe in the air and swing it at children says something very disturbing about the kind of enemy that we face, the hatred that guides their actions, and the immorality they are prepared to embrace
Yesterday, one of Israel's ostensible "peace partners" picked up an axe, stormed into a Jewish community outside Jerusalem, and attacked two innocent Jewish children, murdering a 16-year old teen and wounding a 7-year old child.
It was another horrific, and horrifying, act of terror in the Palestinians' century-long war against the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. And while we may have become 'accustomed' and perhaps even a little numb to reading about such atrocities, that in no way should diminish the severity of this incident in our eyes.
That someone could raise an axe in the air and swing it at children says something very disturbing about the kind of enemy that we face, the hatred that guides their actions, and the immorality they are prepared to embrace. Like it or not, you can not negotiate with an axe, appease it or reason with it.
So don't expect the New York Times or the rest of the mainstream press to make much of an issue of this latest attack, which inconveniently points out the fallacy of their "put the blame on Israel" line of thinking. Instead, they seem intent, together with the Obama administration, to twist Israel's arm and pressure its new government to go down a road of weakness, withdrawal and retreat.
The sad fact is that this only emboldens our enemies still further. Israel has followed this course for the past 16 years, since the signing of the Oslo accords, and all it has brought us is still more violence, horror and grief.
For G-d's sake! They're killing Jewish children - doesn't anybody give a damn?
Apparently, the answer is as chilling as it is simple: a loud and bloody "no".