Middle East 12:43 PM 4/16/2014
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Jewish World 9:53 AM 4/16/2014
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Tamar Yonah is one of Israel's most popular English-speaking radio show hosts. She made Aliyah from Southern California and after serving in the Israeli army began a prolific career in radio, including production, news and program development. She was the original creator and producer of 'The Aliyah Show' and still works whenever she can in that field. Tamar is a political activist, wife and mother residing in Judea and Samaria and currently hosts the top-rated shows of The Weekend Edition & The Tamar Yonah Show. Her award winning blog covers current events, religion, politics and anything else that's on her mind.
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It started with two women. They were settlers in the Land of Israel.
The news was bad. Jews were dying, being blown up in busses, in cafes, and shot on the road like ducks in a shooting gallery. People were being murdered and maimed almost everyday. Prime Minister Ehud Barak was leading the country at that time and he had just come out with a whopper of an announcement that he was going to split Jerusalem, and hand over Har Habayit (The Temple Mount) where our Holy temple stood, as well as give over our homes in YESHA to arch terrorist Yasser Arafat (yimach shmo - may his name be erased) in order to establish a Palestinian State. "How can this be?" the women said.
The two women then sat together in concentration. They thought back to another time when the Jewish people were suffering many tragedies in Israel. They remembered 2,000 years ago when our ancestors were attacked by the Roman army. Jews were dying in the streets, slaughtered, our land was taken over and the survivors were taken as slaves into Exile. It was a great tragedy and there was much suffering amongst the Jewish People. We have learned that this happened to us because of the most serious sin of sinat chinam - causeless hatred. The two women looked at our society today and saw that we were in the SAME situation. There were suspicions and fights between the Secular vs. the Religious, the Left Wing vs. the Right wing, the Ashkenaz vs. the Sephard, and perhaps most surprising of all, the Religious vs. other Religious! These women saw that after 2,000 years, Am Yisrael (the Nation of Israel) has made no tikkun (repair or fixing) for it's sin of sinat chinam, and they started a movement to try and 'fix' this and help merit G-d's love and protection.
After all, there are holidays like Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Cancer Awareness day, Diabetes Awareness, -why not a Jewish Unity / Ahavat Yisrael Day?
The two women (both mothers with children in school) decided to make an 'Ahavat Yisrael Day'. A day where people can concentrate on what unifies the Jewish People instead of what divides us. A day where we learn to appreciate each other and our unique ways of contributing to our nation. But how to do it? They couldn't just advertise and HOPE people would show up to a celebration. They knew that was not the route to go. And so they decided to approach the principal of their children?s elementary school. Here, they thought, was only one person they had to convince, but who could bring hundreds of students and parents to an assembly. BINGO!
I was fortunate and attended the celebration of Ahavat Yisrael Day and I will describe to you the beautiful and holy feeling of tikkun (repair work) we did that day.
All the school (and parents who were able to) came and gathered in the auditorium. The Rabbi prepared a d'var Torah (words from the Torah) and spoke about causeless hatred and causeless love for one's fellow. Afterwards, the two women got up and spoke about ahavat yisrael in their community, speaking directly to the children and giving them examples of how they themselves might be harboring prejudices of other Jews who live in a nearby community, who have a different rabbi they go by, and have different customs. They asked the children if they indeed recognized that though it is nice to talk about practicing ahavat yisrael, that they themselves in reality also may be harboring suspicions and hatred against their Jewish neighbors and so violating this important mitzvah (commandment). Many children shook their heads in agreement that they recognized this prejudice in themselves and wanted to do a tikkun, a 'fixing'?.
Afterwards, each of the 1st - 6th grades each got up and performed in front of the school, something on the topic of Ahavat Yisrael. The first grade sang a song, while another younger grade did a type of circle dance, and the older grades put on skits showing how each individual Jew is important in the make up of our nation. The secular may work for humanistic causes, serve in the army and do ground work, while the national religious community settle the land, farm, and excel in patriotism and mitzvoth, and the Haredi population take a firm hold on Torah study, modesty and Kiruv ( bringing Jews back to Torah observance). -- Of course, there is overlapping of these talents in all three societies, and the children were just generalizing, (the Israeli army consists of secular, national religious and Haredim) but it proved the point that each community had its strengths and contributed in their own way.
After the assembly, the children and parents were led outside to the school's courtyard and each child was given a helium balloon which they would launch into the air all at the same time. A laminated card was attached to a string on each balloon which stated:
Shalom, we are kids from the school (one of the) settlement schools, and we are doing a project on Ahavat Yisrael and Achdut Ha'am (National Unity). We are asking that whoever finds this balloon, that they please help us with our goal of spreading good deeds and fellowship between the Nation of Israel. As part of our project, we are asking you to either give charity, help an elderly person, or even just look at people differently and start giving them the benefit of the doubt, and do this for people you would normally NOT do it for because you wither do not have much contact with them or you may have categorized them as people from a community that you do not appreciate. Then, after doing this good deed, we ask you to please contact us (at a given telephone number) and tell us:
a) where you found the balloon, and
b) tell us what good deed you did.
The note was then signed in the name of all the children from the school.
The 2 women and the principal of the school hoped to be able to later report back to the classes what the results were of this project. Now, Israel also has Arab villages which are near Jewish communities and everyone was wondering the wind would carry the balloons to the Jews it was intended to reach.
As the children excitedly held onto their balloons, the smiling Rabbi led a brief prayer asking G-d to please accept our efforts to spread random acts of loving kindness, and our attempt to do a tikkun for the 'causeless hatred' which still lingers today. Then, all together we LAUNCHED the Ahavat Yisrael Balloons into the sky! Thankfully, the wind carried the balloons not towards Ramallah, but up high into the sky towards Jerusalem. (Short note - the army was notified that we were going to launch balloons so they shouldn't think it was some terror plot by terrorists trying to send something into Israeli population centers. <grin>)
The balloon launch was a beautiful site and a holy undertaking to do a tikkun, hopefully involving Jews from all over the country.
After the ceremony, the 5th and 6th grade classes all sat down at their desks and wrote a letter to Israel?s Minister of Education, (at that time it was Limor Livnat). They asked her ? each in their own words and handwriting, to please institute an official day on the calendar for an Ahavat Yisrael Day. A day where just like when we have Memorial Day or Holocaust Day, and schools change their schedules and invite guest speakers to share their stories, that schools also have speakers from all sectors of society enter classrooms all over the country and speak about what we have in common and how each can contribute in their own way to the Nation of Israel. After all, there are holidays like Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Cancer Awareness day, Diabetes Awareness, -why not a Jewish Unity / Ahavat Yisrael Day? The letters from the children were then sent off with photos from the Ahavat Yisrael Day, in a large manila envelope to the Minister.
And what was the result of the Ahavat Yisrael/balloon project? If this were a Hollywood movie, we would have had upbeat background music with scenes of people finding balloons all over Israel. - Places like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Tiberias, Beer Sheva, etc. etc. The background music would continue as we saw people from all over do a good deed, and then having the school office receive hundreds of calls. But this is not a Hollywood movie. In fact, the school did not receive one phone call from anyone. How is it possible that hundreds of balloons rose up to the sky and not one was reported to be found (except a couple that got caught in the telephone and electricity lines on the settlement itself). Could it be that as the balloons rose into the sky carried off by our prayers and the wind, that they all went straight up to G-d?
I like to think so.
I like to think that G-d cherished this ahavat Yisrael effort so much, that He kept the balloons in some special place in Heaven.
*** Want to start an Ahavat Yisrael Day in your community? Email Tamar and she will send you free of charge, the simple steps to take to make this happen in your community anywhere in the world. To email, see the upper right hand column of this page.
The Function and Purpose of the Presidency
by Moshe Gurel, Executive Director, President's Office
At this time, with the political system in Israel tense and in a state of unrest, and anticipating the upcoming national Knesset elections, more prominence is placed on the unique role and status of the President of the State and the importance of the institution of the Presidency.
Israeli democracy, as in other countries in the free world that have parliamentary systems, was established by its founders with measures in place to ensure the non-partisan status of the Office of the President. To maintain uninterrupted integrity of government, the founders made the institution of the Presidency (one of the symbols of Israeli sovereignty) representative of all sectors of the State of Israel.
"The Basic Law: The Presidency" states: "The State of Israel is headed by the President." The President of the State serves in the highest office and is not a part of the three branches of government. The President has no political status.
"The Basic Law: The Presidency" was designed to ensure the independence of the President and the President's status so that the President can represent national values and norms that are not politically controversial and so that the President can express opinions on public issues that are in the national consensus.
Out of loyalty to and responsibility for this high office, the President may neither intervene politically nor express personal views on issues that divide the public. The President protects the national system and the unity of the citizens of the State.
The status and policy of the President reinforces the sense of partnership between the citizens and the State, as well as between the people and their national symbols; the feelings of belonging and affiliation are also bolstered.
The High Court handed down in its ruling that the President of the State "stands above all three branches of government . . . and personifies the state itself in his being." (1962)
Being set apart from the other government authorities and from politics is what shapes the role of the President as a unifying and non-partisan force.
The political system in Israel is intense and stormy. Political controversy is widespread, touches upon almost every aspect of the lives of the citizens, and may harm the unity of the people. The institution of the Presidency is different. There are very few organizations and institutions in the country that are free from political considerations. The Presidency is an anchor of stability, providing a sense of Statehood, continuity, and unity. The Presidency is a supreme institution of State and is not part of the political debate or political discourse. The citizens of the State from all sectors and all regions feel a connection and affiliation with the Presidency.
Furthermore, the State of Israel, the State of the Jewish people and a democracy, is the spiritual center for the Jewish people in the Diaspora. Thousands of Jewish communities in the worldwide Diaspora feel a spiritual connection to the State of Israel through their connection to the President of the State and the institution of the Presidency.
Throughout his term of office, President Katsav has received many delegations of Jewish communities from all over the world who came to see the President of the State. Likewise, the President, on his visits abroad, takes pains to ensure that an important part of his schedule is devoted to visiting the Jewish communities in the Diaspora.
Some of the Jewish communities abroad note that they relate to the President not just as the President of the State of Israel, but as the President of Israel - the President of the Jewish people.
The Knesset felt it necessary to stress the independence of the office of the Presidency. To show that independence, the Knesset granted the President the authority to appoint senior office holders in a way that emphasizes their independence from anything political or controversial.
The President appoints secular court judges, rabbinical judges to religious courts, and the kadis to the courts of Muslim law. The President appoints the members of the Council on Higher Education, the National Academy of Science, the Broadcasting Authority, the Authority to Rehabilitate Prisoners, the Chief Rabbinical Council, and the Wolf Foundation, as well as the Governor of the Bank of Israel, and others.
The autonomy and validity of these senior appointments is assured by the non-political nature and independent status of the Presidency.
The President also confirms and endorses the credentials of the Israeli ambassadors leaving to take up posts representing Israel around the world and receives the credentials of the foreign diplomats who have been sent to Israel.
Paragraph 11a of the Basic Law charges the President with the responsibility to sign every bill into law (except those that pertain to the powers of the President), as well as international or bilateral treaties that have been ratified by the Knesset.
Additional powers granted in "The Basic Law: The Government":
How can the citizens of Israel feel "unity and cohesion" towards their president, when their president says he believes in and wants to see a quarter of a million law abiding citizens uorooted from their homes?
When a new government is formed, the President delegates the job of establishing that government to one of the members of Knesset. This may be after elections, after a no-confidence vote, after the resignation of the prime minister, or the resignation of the government. This authority, which is well known in most parliamentary forms of government, requires judgment and is exercised after consulting with the various Knesset factions and is based on the President's personal evaluation of who has the best chances of forming a government.
According to paragraph 29a of the Law, Presidential consent is required for the dissolution of the Knesset by decision of the Prime Minister when two conditions have been fulfilled - that a majority opposes the government and that this prevents the orderly operation of the government. Under these circumstances, the President may have influence, if the President is convinced that these two conditions have not been fulfilled. In that situation, the President may be able to convince the Prime Ministers to avoid dissolving the Knesset.
Fulfilling these duties during a time of national crisis and political instability has given those serving in this position the power of influence. The President enjoys an image of neutrality, which grants a measure of freedom of action and ability to affect political dynamics, simply because the President is a symbol of national unity and the guardian of the basic principles of Israeli society.
The President receives ongoing reports from the Prime Minister and governmental ministers, the Chief of Staff of the IDF, the Heads of the Intelligence community (the Mossad and the Security Services), and others. In this way, the President has an understanding of the surrounding circumstances that guide the proceedings of the political system and does not take action in a vacuum on subjects of national importance.
Socially, it is clear that a society as replete with controversy as Israeli society finds it difficult to focus on shared symbols, and this is vital to the functioning of a civilian society. Inasmuch as the President of the State is also the address for appeals from minorities and different sectors of the population, the President can alleviate the sense of alienation from society for these citizens and can lessen their sense of deprivation, raising their problems for consideration as part of the national agenda.
Unfortunately, in the present Israeli reality, there is not full cohesion and identification of all of the citizens of the State with the symbols of State, such as the flag and the national anthem. However, the President, by fulfilling the duties and by the authority granted by the Basic Law, can be a force of unity and cohesion. All citizens can feel connected and affiliated with the Presidency, a common denominator for all Israeli society, with whom everyone identifies.
The institution of the Presidency is a supplementary institution of the government in Israel. The President is given duties and powers that cannot be granted to other institutions of government, both in times of stability and serenity as well as in times of crisis and controversy. (END) ***
Now, please decide for yourself whether Shimon Peres is not violating the office of the President of Israel. And if he is doing so, by stating that he will continue to push for peace, which lies in the realm of politics, foreign policy and Knesset authority, why he should indeed not be impeached from this office?
How can the citizens of Israel feel "connected and affiliated " towards their president, when their president says he believes in and wants to see a quarter of a million law abiding citizens uorooted from their homes?
When those in the Knesset watched as Shimon Peres became the official president of Israel, and they called out, "Yechi, Yechi, Yechi" (You will live!, or Long live...) those three times, perhaps all of us citizens who are tired of being trampled on and having a double standard when it comes to enforcement of laws, we should be shouting instead: "Impeach! Impeach! Impeach!"
Gosh you guys are good! The captions that you left for the pictures were very creative. I also asked Yishai to pick out his favorite of the captions for the photos.
Here are the winning captions.
Tamar: "I get the last word in today!"
Tovia: "No, you don't!"
Tamar: "Yes, I do!"
Tovia: "No, you don't!" Tamar: "Yes, I do!"
Tovia: "No, you don't!"
(repeat ad nauseum...)
Moshe Meir, Calif.
"Did you say something intelligent, Tovia?"
Shlomo Wollins, Sderot-Golan
Tamar tells Tovia how to make chicken soup.
Yaz, Hoboken NJ
"El Presidente says: "Make Aliyah or else."
"I heard that there is a Jew somewhere between East Timor and Sulawesi who has not made aliyah yet. Let's go get him!!!"
Moshe Meir, S. Carlos, CA, USA
ISRAEL - Come for the Cuban Cigars, stay for the holiness! Jeff, Jerusalem
WINNERS: Will the winners please email me with their snail mail addresses and their preference for a Hebrew/Jewish Music CD or T-shirt? (If a T-shirt, please let me know the size you want, S-M-L-XL ) A link to my email is above in the right hand column.
Honorable Mentions: No prize, but you made me laugh and you get a mitzvah for that!
Thanks to all of you who left a caption. Many more were really funny and brought a smile to my face. Again, you all are really creative!
See Chaim. See Chaim walk. See Chaim walk ALONE. Why was Chaim walking alone?
Chaim Saperia is a good guy. He's an Israeli who owns a string of pet shops, lives in the Golan, and is tired, tired, tired of the government 'spitting in our faces'. He went on a trek of approx. 250 kilometers on foot, from his home in the Golan, until Jerusalem. He walked along the highways where drivers and passersby could see him. He would stop in different towns, set up a table, and speak to people about his protest against the government ignoring the people's wishes, whether it is for Olmert's resignation, a change in government, a respect for the people, -whatever. But the problem was, that the TV ignored Chaim. A few radio stations gave him time, but the TV wasn't that interested. No one wanted to give him any news time or send a camera down. I guess the president's sex scandal was more important than a citizen carrying a flag down from the Golan in protest, hoping others would join him, not unlike Vickie Knafu that did this a few years ago from the south of the country up to Jerusalem, and got loads and loads of TV attention and was crowned the media darling of the working class.
Chaim walks (left) with his T shirt that says, "Enough, Stop Spitting on us".
I interviewed Chaim for the last two Weekend Editions Shows on the radio. Click HERE to hear him on the last leg of his protest march. He was a lone marcher most all the way. He never had a chance. Why was the TV uninterested? We have at least three major news channels that have one hour news programs every night, in addition to all the 'talking heads' shows before and after the main news broadcasts. Why didn't they make time for this story?
I think Chaim needed 2 things...
1) A solution or a demand to be fulfilled by the government, not just a message that he is angry and that the government is 'spitting in our faces'.
2) He needed a 'gimmick'. Walking from the Golan to Jerusalem was good, but it didn't cut it for prime time TV news. Sports did, weather did, sex scandals did, as well as other news stories. So what should Chaim have done?