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      by Mark B. Kaplan
      Mark Kaplan delivers his TV commentaries in the only way he knows—candidly, with a pinch of sarcasm, and straight from the heart.
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      Mark is the director of the Office for Israeli Constitutional Law (OFICL), advocating Jewish rights to all the Land of Israel under International and Domestic law and lectures and educates about Jewish legal rights.
      From 2002–2006, Mark was INN-TV's news editor, producer, and studio anchor, and he served as the General Manager of Israel Independent TV news from 2006-2009.

      Visit the OFICL web site at
      e-mail me:mkaplan@JusticeNow4israel.com

      Cheshvan 21, 5774, 10/25/2013

      A Spiritual Journey: From Rio to Uman

      Devorah Mei Snidecor is the author of "From Rio to Uman" an amazing life story of Divine Providence.  I spoke with Devorah about her new book.
      "From Rio to Uman" is more than an autobiography; it is an inspiring spiritual  story of how G-d's hand played a direct role in Devorah's discovery of her Jewish roots, her spiritual growth, and  His involvement in her daily life. 
      More information is available on Devorah's web site at http://fromriotouman.wix.com/dmss#!home/cn6p

      Elul 8, 5773, 8/14/2013

      Who'd Give Guns to Teens for playing Russian Roulette?

      My neighbor’s teenage daughter “Ruth” came home despondent.

      Ruth has no friends and met someone with whom she seems to connect, but she is not sure whether to pursue a friendship with this girl, because there were some warning signs that she observed.

      This new friend seems nice enough, but she is a known gang banger who also into heavy drug use.  Ruth told me the girls is even popular with the guys. Well, actually, what Ruth said is that her new friend is not only "very" popular with the guys, she is also sexually active...with a number of guys.

      Ruth wondered if she should continue to hang out with this girl. After all, this girl keeps trying to push Ruth to participate in all the same toxic vices.

      I told Ruth, “Look, this really is not so complicated to figure out. You must  smoke crack, hang out with her gang banging buddies, and sleep around, otherwise, you will be isolating yourself and you will have no friends. I think it is obvious that you will have to change to conform to what your new friend wants you to be unless you want to be alone and have no friends!”

      Now, doesn’t that sound like sound advice?


      What do you mean it sounds stupid and evil?

      Of course it sounds stupid and evil and no  intelligent, clear thinking person would really consider this as  responsible advice. 

      However, this is exactly the advice Israel is getting from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

      According to Jeffrey Goldberg  (Bloomberg View, Aug 12, 2013): 

      “Kerry, capitalizing on this anxiety, has warned Netanyahu in recent weeks that if the current peace talks bear no fruit, Israel may soon be facing an international delegitimization campaign -- in his words – ‘on steroids.’”

      So, what do you think we should choose to do?

      If we don't capitulate to everyone's demands on us, we risk being isolated and unpopular.

      If we give in to peer pressure, we will end up dead.

      Should we risk being lonely and isolated, or should we risk engaging in risky behavior when our friends hand us a revolver and encourage us to play Russian roulette?

      Now this Israelity!

      Av 10, 5773, 7/17/2013

      Is the Lesson of the Destruction Lost?

      Sadly, the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple)  is still in ruins.  The stones from the Temple are being removed by the Muslim Wakf oppressors and being dumped in garbage heaps in violation of Israeli and International Law:

                  Article 21 (3) – Mandate for Palestine:

                   “No antiquity may be disposed of except to the competent Department, unless this   Department renounces the                              acquisition of any such antiquity…”

      To the best of my knowledge, Moshe Dayan’s turning over administration of the Temple Mount does not qualify as such a renouncement.

      How can it be that Jews were kept from the site of the Holy Temple on the very Anniversary date of the destruction of both Temples?

      The Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred. We were all so "frum" that we learned Torah and only ate "BADATZ Mehardin" food but could not treat our brothers with love and compassion. However, our creator demands more of us. He wants us to be “tzadik v’yashar.” Being a Tzadik means being righteous. When we learn Torah and keep the commandments we are called righteous, but there is more demanded of us—to be “Yashar.” Yashar means being “upright.” What does this mean? It means we need to take our Torah inspired behavior to a higher level and intuitively act on a higher moral level without being judgmental.

      This was lacking during the time of the Roman conquest.

      According to the story related in the Talmudic Tractate of Gittin, the breaking point that caused the ultimate defeat of the Jews, destruction of the Holy Temple, and the subsequent exile of the Jews for almost 2000 years was the result of an event where an un-named wealthy Jerusalemite held a party and had instructed his servant to invite his friend, a man named Kamtza. The servant erred and sent the invitation to the host's "enemy," a man named Bar Kamtza.

      Bar Kamtza thought that perhaps the un-named host was hoping to make peace with him and showed up at the party. Unfortunately, the host upset at seeing Bar Kamtza in his house, humiliated the mistakenly invited gust repeatedly. Despite Bar Kamtza's pleas to keep the matter quiet and the host’s refusal to accept Bar Kamtza’s offer to pay for anything he ate, the host insisted the mis-invited guest leave. Bar Kamtza, trying to save face, then offered to pay for half the party, and then offered to pay for the whole party in order not to be publicly humiliated. The host refused and ejected Bar Kamtza from the party. 

      The criticism against the host is not the focus of the story. The main criticism is against the members of the rabbinic community that were in attendance. None of the sages at the party spoke up in Bar Kamtza's defense. The Rabbis were silent as a Jewish man was being humiliated in front of the attendees, who were among the leaders of the community and the "who's who" of society. Surely, the event was reported on the cover of the National Enquirer and posted all over the social media of the day.

      As a Torah observant Jew, I want to be careful about how I speak about Rabbinic leaders, but what has changed in 2,000 years? We have gone way too far when a Torah leader says in the audience of the former chief rabbi/spiritual leader of the Shas party, Rav Ovadiah Yosef, that the National Religious are like Amalek. 

      I still am hoping that this man’s colleagues, including Rav Ovadia Yosef, will speak out against these inciting and damaging comments and publicly declare that the Torah community does not agree with what this rav said. If the rabbis stay silent, how is this case different than the silence of the rabbis in the story of Bar Kamtza?

      Yes, words destroy; silence destroys. Take a look at our most precious holy mountain top and see the ruins of the House the Jewish Nation has held so dear for thousands of years.

      May we merit to see the Holy Temple rebuilt speedily in our days.

      Tammuz 26, 5773, 7/4/2013

      Morsi Deposed—Should We Be Happy?

      I heard in the American media this morning that Israel is happy to have Egypt's Morsi ousted. 

      Are we really happy?

      Am I really happy with it?

      No, I am very unhappy to see the failure of democracy in Egypt; However, I am certainly not surprised. 

      I am unhappy to see a mob rules culture. 

      I don't believe any future leadership in Egypt will be any better for Israel. The Arab/Muslim world, no actually I should say, the whole world has becoming radicalized. Radical Islam/Sharia law has spread or is spreading, as is lawlessness throughout most of the mid east (and Israel is being encouraged to help form another Arab country in the Land of Israel?)  The radical left that has taken over Western culture.

      Israel stands to benefit most from stability, which a coup in Egypt does not provide.

      What will the next Egyptian regime look like?

      How dedicated will they be to maintaining the Peace Treaty with Israel?

      We can only wait, but I have little faith in Egypt or the people's ability to choose a  leader who will respect democracy, and I have less confidence that someone will arise to power in Egypt that will not be part of the anti-Israel machine. 

      Tammuz 1, 5773, 6/9/2013

      Howard Grief Letters pt. 1

      Attorney Howard Grief z"l

      In memory of Howard Grief z"l, the world's foremost authority on Jewish rights to the Land of Israel under international law,  I will be uploading some of his letters I have been CCd on over the years. Howard, who died on June 1,  always welcomed the publication of these letters, and I hope his son Elad, who plans on helping continue Howard's monumental work, will see to it that his letters are eventually compiled into a book for release.

      This first letter  is dated 14 Elul 5769 (Sept 3, 2009), and was addressed to Dr. Joel Fishman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. If some of the "legaleese" gets difficult, or if your Latin is  a little rusty,  Google is a handy tool to have on hand.

      I open the replies to discussion about Howard's letters. If your reply is too long, please feel free to send me an e-mail.


      Jerusalem תובב״א

      14 Elul 5769

      September 3, 2009

      Dr. Joel Fishman

      e-mail: joel.fishman@gmail.com


      Dear Joel,

      I read the article you sent me in French, written by Michel Gurfinkiel, entitled Proche-Orient Jérusalem N’est Pas Une Colonie.

      I agree with the general tenor of the article that France or the Quay d’Orsay as Gurfinkiel calls the French Government and its Foreign Office is terribly biased against Israel in establishing what it says are “des colonies en zone occupée” including “East Jerusalem” (please note that there is no such official designation), as well as Judea and Samaria. French policy under a false cover of “support” is anti-Zionist and shameful that harks back to the very establishment of the Jewish National Home under international law in 1920, as I have documented in my own book The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law.

      However, for the sake of accuracy, I would like to point out one major error in Gurfinkiel’s article that affects me personally.

      Gurfinkiel refers to Professors Eugene Rostow and Julius Stone as his sources for stating the fact that “Israël n’est pas un occupant, mais un souverain légitime” in regard to the “zones conquises”, i.e. Judea, Samaria and Gaza, which in the original Israeli terminology were called the “held territories” of Eretz-Israel both in 1948 and 1967. Neither Rostow nor Stone, great jurists though they may have been, ever in fact made this assertion as Gurfinkiel says. On the contrary, Rostow said the very opposite while Stone raised it only as a possibility (p.115 of his book: Israel and Palestine: Assault on the Law of Nations - 1981). Furthermore, he stated that “in the days of the League of Nations … no conclusion emerged, despite herculean labours, as to the location of territorial sovereignty in Mandated Palestine.” (p.122)

      I have read a good many of the articles written by both jurists. Rostow referred to the “held territories” as the “unallocated territories” of the Mandate for Palestine based on information he received from my late departed friend, Dr. Paul Riebenfeld of New York who originated that term. I personally told Dr. Riebenfeld more than once that this phraseology was wrong since these territories had in fact been allocated to the Jewish People at the San Remo Peace Conference on April 24-25, 1920. Rostow even believed that those territories were “occupied territories” subject to the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 242, a far cry from saying they were under Israeli sovereignty.

      Julius Stone, who was a staunch advocate of Israel, also never claimed as already noted that the “held territories” were under Israeli sovereignty. Like Rostow, he deemed them to be "residual territories” of the Mandate whose status had never been officially determined. In his excellent book he even stated that had the Arab side accepted the UN Partition Resolution of November 29, 1947, the Resolution “would then have acquired [binding] force” (p. 62 and p.101).

      However, in my opinion, the UN Partition Resolution was illegal or null and void ab-initio regardless of whether “the parties at variance accepted it” (Prof. Stone, p.101) because it violated the terms of the then existing Mandate, in particular Article 5 thereof, as well as Article 80 of the UN Charter. Under the terms of the Mandate only Jews had national and political rights to the Land of Israel/Palestine, while the local Arab inhabitants enjoyed “civil and religious rights” as stated in Article 2 of the Mandate. In contravention of the Mandate, the UN illegally awarded national and political rights to the Arab population over a substantial area of Western Palestine. It is evident that since Prof. Julius Stone believed that the partition plan would have been valid had all the parties concerned accepted it, then the Jews did not enjoy sovereignty over the entire land.

      In Prof. Stone’s own words (p.62), “the effect of [an Arab acceptance of the Partition Resolution had it taken place] would have been to allocate sovereign titles inter alia  to Israel, the proposed new Arab state, and the proposed corpus separatum” for Jerusalem. In making this statement, Prof. Stone based himself on the principle known as pacta sunt servanda – i.e. agreements or contracts must be observed or enforced. However, this principle only applies when the agreements or contracts are not contrary to existing law. In the case of the Partition Resolution, the existing law was indeed violated, which meant that this rule did not apply to the situation, as Prof. Stone thought.

      To set the record straight, I originated and advanced the thesis as far back as the mid-1980’s that all of the Land of Israel including the so-called “unallocated territories” of Judea, Samaria and Gaza was reserved exclusively for the Jewish People upon whom sovereignty was devolved under the San Remo Resolution, even though this was not explicitly stated in this Resolution itself but can be logically inferred as a natural consequence of the adoption of the Balfour Declaration as the legal basis for creating and governing Mandated Palestine in conjunction with Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Jewish sovereignty over Palestine in the de jure  sense extended to all parts of the country, even those parts that later fell under the de facto rule of Arab states. During the Mandate period, the British Government exercised the attributes of sovereignty, but was not legally vested with sovereignty over Palestine. Such sovereignty was vested only in the Jewish People, even though it was not exercisable while the British governed the country. When the Mandate period ended at midnight May14-15, 1948, sovereignty over Palestine/the Land of Israel was then transferred to the State of Israel, the legal creation of the Jewish People.

      Israel’s legal case is not advanced by spreading misinformation, or in Gurfinkiel’s case, by misattributing to noted jurists what they never wrote or said.

      I would appreciate it very much if you could let me know your phone numbers at home and at work so that I may contact you from time to time.




      Howard Grief


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