Thursday, May 21, 2015

 

Reflections on the 95th Anniversary of the San Remo Conference

In April 1920--95 years ago last month--representatives from Great Britain, Italy, France and Japan met in San Remo, Italy to finalize the boundaries of territories captured by the Allied forces in World War I. The United States attended the conference as a neutral observer. At the San Remo Conference, the Allies reaffirmed the promises made by Great Britain in the 1917 Balfour Declaration, namely that "a national home for the Jewish people" should be established in Palestine and that in doing so "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other county."

It is important to understand that the geographical entity Palestine--there was not then, nor has there ever been, a sovereign country with that name--consisted of the areas now known as Jordan, Israel, Judea/Samaria and Gaza. Palestine was largely uninhabited and almost completely undeveloped agriculturally, economically and industrially. The Jewish people were the last people to create an independent nation there, but that nation--like many others--was conquered by the Roman Empire and then subsequently ruled by a number of other empires. None of those conquerors valued the area for anything other than its strategic importance as a land bridge between Africa and Asia; no regional capitals or significant cities were established by anyone after Rome quelled the third and final Jewish Revolt (132-135 C.E.). For nearly two millenia, the Jewish people dreamed--and prayed daily--to return to their homeland and rebuild an independent state. The defeat of the Ottoman Empire during World War I made it possible to create several independent Arab states and one independent Jewish state in the Mideast.

Three delegations--two Arab and one Jewish (there was no "Palestinian" delegation because Palestine was a geographical designation only)--made presentations at the San Remo Conference. The two Arab delegations focused on the fates of the territories that ultimately became the nations of Syria and Lebanon, while the Jewish delegation wanted to ensure that the Balfour Declaration would be honored. No one objected to the idea of recreating a Jewish State in Palestine and so the San Remo Conference voted unanimously to do so, a decision that was also ratified by the 51 members of the League of Nations. Thus was created a binding obligation under international law.

The British Empire--which was granted trusteeship over the Palestine Mandate until such time as a Jewish State was created there--reneged on their promises and the terms ratified by the San Remo Conference. The British illegally partitioned the Palestine Mandate, slicing off 80% of the territory to create what later became known as Jordan. The remaining portion of Palestine was further partitioned by the United Nations in 1947 after the British abandoned the Palestine Mandate. The Jewish residents of Palestine accepted this partition and built the modern State of Israel, while the surrounding Arab nations--already granted independence--rejected the partition and vowed to destroy the young Jewish State. Israel survived the Arab attempt at genocide, committed in the immediate aftermath of the Nazi Holocaust that decimated European Jewry, and to this day remains the only fully functioning democratic state in the region. The Arab nations could have taken in Arab refugees, much like Israel took in the Jewish refugees who were expelled from or fled Arab countries, but instead the Arab nations decided to keep the Arab refugees in camps to use as propaganda pawns, a practice that continues to this day.

Israel is the only Mideastern country where Arabs can vote in free elections, where women and minorities enjoy full rights and where the economy is not completely controlled by a dictatorship or monarchy. Israel made the desert bloom, Israel has made numerous contributions in the fields of science, medicine and technology and Israel has often extended her hand (and her resources) to help countries that are less fortunate and/or have been beset by natural disasters.

Israel was created under the tenets of international law (including the Balfour Declaration and the San Remo Conference), she has survived repeated attempts by her neighbors to annihilate her and she has made many positive contributions to the international community. Israel has repeatedly given up "land for peace" (including the Sinai Desert, Gaza and portions of Judea/Samaria) only to see those gestures answered by terrorist attacks and calls for Israel's destruction.

The terror and mayhem spreading throughout the Mideast now has nothing to do with Israel. If Israel disappeared today, the violence, death and destruction would continue tomorrow unabated. Yet, some people insist that all of the region's problems would be solved if Israel gave up more land and made herself more vulnerable. Look at a map of the Mideast. You need a magnifying glass to find Israel. Read the international law preceding Israel's creation. Read the long history of brutal Arab and Muslim attacks against Jews, Christians and other minorities in the region. Then ask yourself what really motivates those people who insist that the existence of one tiny, democratic, country within a region otherwise consisting of large, undemocratic Arab/Muslim countries is the main source of discontent, anger and violence?

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Friday, May 8, 2015

 

Don McLean Reflects on Iconic "American Pie" Song

Don McLean's "American Pie" became a chart-topping hit in 1972. It is remembered most for its poetic--and mysterious--lyrics that expressed an aching, heartfelt yearning for a simpler, happier time. The tragic deaths of 22 year old Buddy Holly, 17 year old Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (better known as "the Big Bopper") in a plane crash in 1959 provided the direct inspiration for the song but "American Pie" also referred to a wide range of cultural and political events, including the rise of Communism, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War.

People have tried to parse the lyrics word by word to figure out exactly what each line meant and for many years McLean refused to offer any explanations. That changed, at least a bit, when McLean recently sold the original 16 page working manuscript of the lyrics for $1.2 million at auction. McLean told Rolling Stone, "I'm going to be 70 this year. I have two children and a wife, and none of them seem to have the mercantile instinct. I want to get the best deal that I can for them. It's time."

Here is what McLean wrote on February 13, 2015 in the Christie's auction catalog:

For more than 40 years I have rambled around every state of the union and many, many countries of the world. My primary interests in life have been America, singing, songwriting, and the English language. I love the English language as much as anything in life and words really do mean something. I thought it would be interesting as I reach age 70 to release this work product on the song American Pie so that anyone who might be interested will learn that this song was not a parlor game. It was an indescribable photograph of America that I tried to capture in words and music and then was fortunate enough through the help of others to make a successful recording. I would say to young songwriters who are starting out to immerse yourself in beautiful music and beautiful lyrics and think about every word you say in a song.

The catalog also includes an essay by Douglas Brinkley. Here is a poignant quote from Brinkley's piece:

McLean was a paperboy when, on February 3, 1959, he saw that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson had been tragically killed in an airplane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa. "The next day I went to school in shock and guess what?" McLean recalled. "Nobody cared. Rock n'roll in those days was sort of like hula hoops and Buddy hadn’t had a big hit on the charts since 57." By cathartically writing "American Pie" McLean has guaranteed that the memory of those great musicians lives forever.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

 

How European Myths Fuel Modern Islamic Antisemitism

Last year, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks discussed the emergence of a new antisemitism that is spreading across Europe within living memory of the Holocaust. European antisemitism is not merely confined to the borders of Europe. In a recent article titled The Return of Anti-Semitism, Rabbi Sacks noted how "two classic myths imported from Europe" fuel modern Islamic antisemitism:

The first was the blood libel, the mad idea that Jews kill Christian children to use their blood to make matzo, the unleavened bread eaten during Passover. The idea is absurd, not least because even the tiniest speck of blood in food renders it inedible in Jewish law. The libel was an English invention, born in Norwich around 1144, and was unsuccessfully condemned by several popes. It was introduced into the Middle East by Christians in the 19th century, leading to trials of innocent Jews in Lebanon and Egypt and, most famously, in Damascus in 1840.

The second European myth exported to the Middle East about Jews is "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," whose origins Rabbi Sacks succinctly described:

"The Protocols of the Elders of Zion"—a late 19th-century forgery about a supposed global Jewish conspiracy, produced by members of the czar's secret police and exposed as a fiction by the Times of London as early as 1921—become one of Hitler's favorite texts. In Nazi Germany, it became, as the historian Norman Cohn put it, a "warrant for genocide." The "Protocols" were introduced into the Middle East in Arabic translation in the 1930s by, among others, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, who spent World War II in Berlin, producing Arabic broadcasts for the Nazis.

The blood libel and the forged "Protocols" are taught throughout the Middle East, as Arabs and Muslims train their children to hate Jews. It is very important to understand that this hatred has nothing to do with political conflicts or land, as Rabbi Sacks pointed out:

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, an Egyptian cleric, Muhammad Hussein Yaqub, speaking in January 2009 on Al Rahma, a popular religious TV station in Egypt, made the contours of the new hate impeccably clear: "If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. We will never love them…They are enemies not because they occupied Palestine. They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing…You must believe that we will fight, defeat and annihilate them until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth…You will not survive as long as a single one of us remains." 

Arab/Islamic enmity is directed at Jews for being Jews; it predates the creation of the modern State of Israel and has nothing to do with the policies of that state and/or any grievances (real or imagined) against Israel. If Israel were to accede to every demand of her enemies--up to and including ceasing her very existence--this would not end Arab/Islamic antisemitism, halt the mass production of Arab/Islamic antisemitic propaganda or stop Arab/Islamic terrorist groups from killing Jews.

Arab/Islamic antisemitism will only end when it is not tolerated both in theory and in practice. Arab/Islamic countries must stop teaching the blood libel and the "Protocols" to their young, lest another generation be lost to senseless hatred. Regimes who attempt to cover up their antisemitism by calling it anti-Zionism should not be allowed to get away with being disingenuous about their true intentions and policies. Iran does not promote Holocaust denial because of anything that Israel has done; Iran promotes Holocaust denial because the country's leadership is antisemitic to the core.

Why should anyone who is not Jewish care about this? What difference does it make if the Middle East is filled with people who are spewing antisemitic hatred? Rabbi Sacks offered a powerful response to such narrow-minded, cynical thinking:

At this juncture in the history of hate, we must remember what antisemitism is. It is only contingently, even accidentally, about Jews. Jews die from it, but they are not its only victims. Today Christian communities are being ravaged, terrorized and decimated throughout the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, and scores of Muslims are killed every day by their brothers, with Sunnis arrayed against Shiites, radicals against moderates, the religious against the secular. The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

 

Garry Kasparov Lambastes West's "Weak" Response to Vladimir Putin's Tyranny


In a December 2014 Reason.com interview, former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov did not mince words when asked to assess the West's policies concerning Russian dictator Vladimir Putin:

We have been facing this problem for quite a while. And so many mistakes have been made. These mistakes created an impression for Putin and his cronies and also his clients like Assad and others in the world. Iranian Ayatollahs. The West is weak. The West is not willing to get engaged. So the West will give them anything they want. Before we talk about the right strategy, what the leaders of the free world must do, let's talk about what they must not do. You cannot project weakness. Yes, I know that America will never consider seriously boots on the ground in Ukraine. Why are you talking about it? Why do you say publicly that you will not do that?

I could give you many examples where they violate the simplest rules of negotiation. The secret letter from Obama to the Ayatollahs, without mentioning the fact that it's an insult for Sunni allies. It's the first time that the United States and the free world had a great chance of creating a Sunni coalition to stop Sunni terror. Then stabbing them in the back by writing a letter to the Ayatollahs. By the way, they never responded. And now, at the time when the nuclear deal is about to be reached or not. He's asking them to help with ISIS. ISIS will probably be destroyed. You need more planes, maybe some soldiers, material resources. ISIS is not a global threat, it's very local. For the sake of Iranian cooperation, this relatively small issue to put at stake the global cooperation of Sunnis and also the non-proliferation policies, that's exactly what you're not supposed to do.

Kasparov's harsh and accurate words are particularly meaningful and timely considering the race to stop Iran's jihadist, expansionist regime from building nuclear weapons; this is vitally important, yet President Obama seems oblivious to the danger and downright hostile when anyone (most recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) points out just how catastrophic it would be if Iran builds nuclear weapons. The Middle East is ablaze with jihadist extremism and Iran is fomenting much of it. A nuclear-armed Iran would be a menace to the entire world. The damage that President Obama has done in abandoning America's allies and failing to stand up to tyrannical dictatorships will not be easy to fix.

This problem predates President Obama, though. Kasparov is equally unimpressed by Bill Clinton's administration:

Many talk about Clinton's presidency as a great success. I wouldn't doubt certain achievements in economy. But geopolitically, it was the greatest disaster among all because it's not about the final position. The game is still on. In 1992, America was all powerful. It could design the world map the way it wanted. In 2000, al-Qaeda was ready to strike. So what happened in these eight years?

Eight years of complacency, of doing nothing. Nobody formulated policies for Russia, for Soviet Union, for Islamic terrorism. It requires a global vision. The same way as Winston Churchill, Harry Truman had these policies designed in 1946, in 1947. The Marshall plan. There were plans. Plans they learned from World War II and they knew that to oppose Stalin and to oppose Communism, they needed to come up with a grand strategy and also leadership.

When I hear about potential dangers of confronting Putin today, my first question is, "Is he more dangerous than Joseph Stalin in 1948?" For 11 months, American and British planes had been supplying West Berlin besieged by Stalin's troops. And Joseph Stalin didn't shoot a single American plane. Why? Because Harry Truman already used nuclear weapons. And Stalin, as every good dictator, had an animal instinct. He knew where he could be repulsed. So he knew that Harry Truman could not play a game. It happened in 1962, when Khrushchev recognized that he pushed JFK to the ropes. And Ronald Reagan. And don't tell me that the Soviet Union in 1981, 82, 83, was less powerful than Putin's Russia today.

Harry Truman was a strong President, as was Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are not strong Presidents; they have convinced our enemies that America is weak and it will take a lot of work to disabuse America's enemies of that notion.

After Neville Chamberlain's cowardly appeasement of Adolf Hitler, Chamberlain declared that he had ensured "peace for our time." Chamberlain also said something that is eerily reminiscent of the rhetoric used by those who support President Obama's inaction while the world burns: "How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing." Instead of challenging Hitler early when Hitler's Nazi Germany was not at full strength, Chamberlain preferred to make broad concessions to Hitler, believing Hitler to be a reasonable man who had legitimate grievances that could be resolved through negotiations. Chamberlain did not think that it was worth it to fight Hitler or even to make preparations to fight Hitler merely to help "people of whom we know nothing." That short-sighted attitude persists today. Why should America intervene in far-away conflicts? Why should America care if Iran gets nuclear weapons? Isn't it true that by "imperialistically" dictating to other countries America creates enemies where none previously existed? That kind of thinking is what led to World War II and what made the Holocaust possible. Even 60 years ago, conflicts involving "people of whom we know nothing" quickly threatened the very survival of an America that felt safe because of being shielded by two big oceans.

Hitler took whatever he could take through negotiation and then sought to conquer the rest through war. Putin's Russia and Iran's jihadist regime are following that same blueprint today. Hitler did not have legitimate grievances nor could he be reasoned with or placated. Hitler had strategic goals and he made those goals very clear in his writings and in his speeches. The world was foolish to ignore his words.

When will the West wake up to the dangers posed by today's tyrants, who also speak quite clearly about their ultimate goals? When will a modern-day Winston Churchill or Harry Truman emerge?

Neville Chamberlain was wrong about Adolf Hitler and Chamberlain's mistakes precipitated World War II. President Obama is wrong now about Putin's Russia and about Iran. We can only hope that the consequences of President Obama's mistakes will not be as severe.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

 

Music, the Universal Language

Fans of particular music genres offer take a jaundiced--if not outright disparaging--view of other musical genres. How can one like both classical music and rap or be a fan of both country and soul? Musicians, though, have a much broader and more enlightened view: good music is good music, no matter what it is called and no matter who is composing, singing, playing or performing it.

In a January 2002 "Inside Borders" interview with Tim Pulice, Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Willie Nelson explained his musical philosophy--and I think that he speaks well for a broad range of music creators and music lovers who see/hear past artificial, exclusionary genre fences erected by narrow-minded people:

I've found similarities in all kinds of music. Rap, blues, jazz, whatever--there's a thin line that runs through it all. So it really wasn't a stretch to see how Kid Rock and I could do a song together. Or Bonnie Raitt and Sheryl Crow.

I've always felt that music was the common denominator, that if you could condense the English language into a few small but important words, you could connect with anybody. That's pretty much what a country song was: You'd try to put your ideas into two or three minutes so you could get it played on a radio station. If you were a good enough writer, you could get your point across in that period of time. That was the school in which I grew up.

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

 

The New Antisemitism and the Violence it Incites

For a brief period after the Holocaust, public expressions of blatant antisemitic beliefs were viewed with disfavor in Western society. That polite deference out of respect for the six million Jews massacred by Nazi Germany and her many accomplices gradually waned and, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks declares in the Wall Street Journal, has now largely disappeared:

This year, Europe's Jews enter Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, with a degree of apprehension I have not known in my lifetime. Anti-Semitism has returned to Europe within living memory of the Holocaust. Never again has become ever again.

Two principles of legal writing that I have learned in law school are "Is this true?" and "If this is true, why does it matter?" It is easy to document the reemergence of antisemitism in Europe; orthodox Jews in France are justifiably afraid to publicly demonstrate their faith lest they be accosted on the street and Rabbi Sacks cites a 2013 survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights that revealed that nearly one third of Europe's Jews are thinking of emigrating specifically because of antisemitism (that number is 46% in France and 48% in Hungary, two of many European countries whose native populations enthusiastically participated in the Nazis' program to kill every Jew).

The next question is "Why does the reemergence of European antisemitism matter?" Rabbi Sacks explains:

Historically, as the British Tory MP Michael Gove points out, anti-Semitism has been the early warning signal of a society in danger. That is why the new anti-Semitism needs to be understood--and not only by Jews.

Anti-Semitism was always only obliquely about Jews. They were its victims but not its cause. The politics of hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews. It wasn't Jews alone who suffered under Hitler and Stalin. It is hardly Jews alone who are suffering today under their successors, the radical Islamists of Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Islamic State and their fellow travelers in a seemingly endless list of new mutations.

The assault on Israel and Jews world-wide is part of a larger pattern that includes attacks on Christians and other minority faiths in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia--a religious equivalent of ethnic cleansing. Ultimately, this campaign amounts to an attack on Western democratic freedoms as a whole. If not halted now, it will be Europe itself that will be pushed back toward the Dark Ages.

Many proponents of the new antisemitism attempt to cloak their hatred beneath alleged concern for human rights. They claim that they do not hate Jews but that they merely disagree with Israel's policies. Rabbi Sacks states that no one should be fooled by such rhetoric:

Human rights matter, and they matter regardless of the victim or the perpetrator. It is the sheer disproportion of the accusations against Israel that makes Jews feel that humanitarian concern isn't the prime motive in these cases: More than half of all resolutions adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council since 2006 (when the Council was established) in criticism of a particular country have been directed at Israel. In 2013, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a total of 21 resolutions singling out Israel for censure, according to U.N. Watch, and only four resolutions to protest the actions of the rest of the world's states.

Anti-Semitism has always been, historically, the inability to make space for differences among people, which is the essential foundation of a free society. That is why the politics of hate now assaults Christians, Bahai, Yazidis and many others, including Muslims on the wrong side of the Sunni/Shia divide, as well as Jews. To fight it, we must stand together, people of all faiths and of none. The future of freedom is at stake, and it will be the defining battle of the 21st century.

The new antisemitism threatens not only Jews and not only the State of Israel but rather it threatens civilization as a whole. Israel's enemies are barbaric in thought and in deed and if they are not confronted they will wreak havoc throughout the world. Sadly, even many Jews and the State of Israel fail to recognize this truth. On November 18, two Arab terrorists entered a Jerusalem synagogue and killed five people: Rabbi Avraham Goldberg, Rabbi Arye Kupinsky, Rabbi Kalmen Levin, Rabbi Moshe Twersky and Master Sergeant Zidan Sif, a police officer who died in the line of duty while trying to protect the synagogue.

In Responding to the Slaughter, Caroline Glick describes how--in contrast to Israel's weak, ineffective policies--a strong, proud nation would deal with barbarians who butcher rabbis in a house of worship and how a strong, proud nation would respond to the cheering populace that enthusiastically praises those barbarians:

The horrible truth is that all of the anti-Jewish slaughters perpetrated by our Arab neighbors have been motivated to greater or lesser degrees by Islamic Jew-hatred. The only difference between the past hundred years and now is that today our appeasement-oriented elite is finding it harder to pretend away the obvious fact that we cannot placate our enemies.

No "provocation" by Jews drove two Jerusalem Arabs to pick up meat cleavers and a rifle and slaughter rabbis in worship like sheep and then mutilate their bodies.

No "frustration" with a "lack of progress" in the "peace process," can motivate people to run over Jewish babies or attempt to assassinate a Jewish civil rights activist.

The reason that these terrorists have decided to kill Jews is that they take offense at the fact that in Israel, Jews are free. They take offense because all their lives they have been taught that Jews should live at their mercy, or die by their sword...

With regard to the individual terrorists, the government has made much of its intention to destroy the homes of terrorists. While it sounds good, there is limited evidence of the effectiveness of this punitive measure, which is a relic of the British Mandate.

Rather than destroy their homes, Israel should adopt the US anti-narcotics policy of asset seizure.

All assets directly or indirectly tied to terrorists, including their homes and any other structure where they planned their crimes, and all remittances to them, should be seized and transferred to their victims, to do with what they will.

If Israel hands over the homes of the synagogue butchers to the 24 orphans of Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Rabbi Kalman Levine, Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky and Rabbi Avraham Goldberg, not only will justice be served. The children's inheritance of the homes of their fathers' killers will send a clear and demoralizing message to other would-be killers.

Not only will their atrocities fail to remove the Jews from Israel. Every terrorist will contribute to the Zionist project by donating his home to the Jewish settlement enterprise...

Israel should also revoke citizenship and residency rights not only from terrorists themselves, but from those who enjoy citizenship and residency rights by dint of their relationship with the terrorists.

Wives who received Israeli residency or citizenship rights though marriage to terrorists should have their rights revoked, as should the children of the terrorists...

The actions set forth above: asset seizure, revenue seizure and citizenship/residency abrogation for terrorists and their dependents are steps that Israel can take today, despite the hostile international climate.

There is an authentic Jewish response to barbaric terrorism and it is the response that any thinking, feeling person would advocate: total war. In the wake of the Jerusalem synagogue massacre, Rabbi Mordechai Tzion described why total war is just and essential:

We must remember that we are dealing with an enemy. We are at war. During war we are not merciful to the cruel.  One who is merciful to the cruel is cruel to those who require mercy (Tanchuma, Parashat Metzora 1. Yalkut Shimoni Shmuel 1 #121).  We are the merciful and they are the cruel, and when you are merciful to the cruel, you are cruel to your brothers and sisters. This is a war like any other war.  There is a concept of the total war which means that, while we do not look for wars (we are a Nation which loves peace, searches for peace, and loves all people), if someone attacks us, we respond with all our might...

I remember a joke--although it is certainly not a times for jokes--from Meir Uziel, a comedian and grandson of former Chief Rabbi Ha-Rav Ben Tzion Uziel: In the competition for Ms. Ethical among the 200 nations of the world, we always come in last place, since we are the only ones who show up!  We must certainly be ethical, but to our brothers, not the enemy.

During the Second World War, the Allied powers destroyed neighborhood after neighborhood in Berlin, because everyone understood that there was no other way to wage war. Did King Hussein of Jordan deal with Black September with child gloves? No, he killed 17,000 Palestinians and ended his Intifada once and for all. President Assad killed 21,000 Palestinians in one month when there was an uprising in Syria. And when Hamas wanted to take over Gaza, they killed many, many people. This is the language they speak and understand. This is how we must deal with them.

I remember that a terrorist once attacked a woman in Neveh Dekalim. She lay down on the baby carriage to protect her baby, and he stabbed her fifteen times in the back.  By some miracle, someone came and shot him and saved her.  Later, an unethical reporter interviewed the rescuer on the radio and asked: "How do you feel after killing a person?"  He responded: "The thing which I killed was not a person."  I remembered this and quoted it various times.  I once met someone and I said "shalom."  He said: "You don't know me but you quoted me.  I am the person who killed that thing which was not a person."  I said: "Yashar Koach--Way to go.  Your actions followed what the Rambam says in Moreh Nevuchim (vol. 1 #7)."  The Rambam discusses the "demons" mentioned in the Gemara.  He says that a "demon" looks like a person on the outside, but is a wild animal on the inside.  It is more dangerous than a wild animal in that it has intellect.  People periodically ask me: Is the theory that we came from animals true? I answer: "I do not know. I was not there. The question, however, does not bother me. What bothers me is whether we have left being animals."


Michael Freund also understands that the time and place for diplomacy/concessions by Israel toward her barbaric enemies has long passed:

Armed with guns, knives and a meat cleaver, our “partners in peace” shot, slashed and stabbed their victims, leaving pools of blood and horror in their wake, before being eliminated by the police.

It is difficult to conceive of a more despicable deed.

This act of Palestinian brutality was so heinous that even Israelis hardened by decades of terror responded with disbelief. Indeed, anyone still thinking of giving the Palestinians a state should take a long, hard look at the disturbing photos of the synagogue slaughter that are circulating online.

In one such picture, a Jewish man lies dead on the synagogue floor, wrapped in his tallit and tefillin and surrounded by blood stains, evoking scenes reminiscent of the days when the Cossacks massacred our people. It is a startling and distressing testimony to the savagery of our foes, to the bestial depths of inhumanity to which the Palestinians are willing to descend in their war against the Jewish state.

After all, what kind of human being wakes up in the morning, grabs a few weapons, and then walks into a house of prayer intent on maiming and murdering innocent people? Guns were not sufficient for these savages. They employed axes and knives, which are far more intimate and bloody weapons, the kind that require physical contact with the victim rather than the less personal act of pulling a trigger.

If it is possible for a person to strip away the Divine image with which he was created, then the Palestinian terrorists who perpetrated this attack have surely succeeded in doing so.


Frankly, I am tired of the meaningless mantras and barren babble of many of our politicians. The time for tough talk is over. Now is the time for tough action, for measures that will change the course of events and punish those behind this evil deed.

For God's sake, Jerusalem, Israel's capital, is under attack. Stabbings, stonings, premeditated vehicular attacks, rioting on the Temple Mount and now an assault on a synagogue.

The only way to stop this spiral of violence from spinning further out of control is to go to the source, to the root of the problem.

Simply put, it is time to topple the Palestinian Authority (PA ) and declare to the world once and for all: there will never be a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria.

We must be careful not just to focus on one terrorist attack or even the entire war to destroy first Israel and then Western civilization. It is important to remember and honor the men who were massacred. Zidan Sif bravely fought against the terrorists until they killed him. The four rabbis who were killed were scholars, gentle men of peace; they left behind 24 orphans. The following is reprinted from of the November 21, 2014 newsletter of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim/Jerusalem Chai:

A Plea from the Families of the Kedoshim Murdered this past week by Arab Terrorists

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The widows and orphans of the four Rabbis who were murdered by Arab terrorists this past Tuesday in Yerushalayim issued a letter calling for national solidarity and unity.  


With broken hearts, drenched in tears shed over the spilled blood of holy men--the heads of our families. We call on our brethren wherever they are--let us come together so that we may merit mercy from Heaven, and let's accept upon ourselves to increase love and camaraderie between each individual and each community.
We ask that every person accept upon himself on this Sabbath Eve (Parshat Toldot, November 21-22, 2014), to set aside the day of Shabbat as a day of unconditional love, a day during which we will refrain from words of disagreement and division, from words of gossip and slander.
May this serve to elevate the souls of our husbands and fathers who were slaughtered while sanctifying God's name. God will look down from the heavens, see our suffering, wipe away our tears and put an end to our tribulations. 
May we merit seeing the coming of our Moshiach speedily in our days. Amen
Signed with a torn heart,

Mrs. Chaya Levin and family

Mrs. Bryna Goldberg and family
Mrs. Yaacova Kupinsky and family
Mrs. Bashy Twersky and family

The Jewish people have always wanted to live in peace with their Arab and Muslim brethren. Through hard work, sacrifice, ingenuity and toughness, the Jewish people have created an oasis literally (in terms of making the desert bloom) and figuratively; as Israeli UN Ambassador Prosor recently noted, "Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, less than half a percent are truly free--and they are all citizens of Israel. Israeli Arabs are some of the most educated Arabs in the world. They are our leading physicians and surgeons, they are elected to our parliament, and they serve as judges on our Supreme Court. Millions of men and women in the Middle East would welcome these opportunities and freedom."

The Arab terrorists who entered that synagogue with hate in their hearts and murder on their minds did not kill the so-called "peace process." That "peace process" never existed in the first place. Judaism is a religion of peace and the rabbis who were massacred were men of peace but none of that matters to Israel's enemies, who will not rest until every non-Muslim is subjugated or killed. This brings us full circle to the beginning of this article: Jew-hatred is the early warning signal of a society in danger; the world's reaction (or, sadly, non-reaction) to the Arab/Islamic world's systematic effort to destroy the Jewish State and to massacre individual Jews is a sorry reflection on the current state of the world.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

 

Garry Kasparov Implores the West to Stop Vladimir Putin Before it is Too Late

Since retiring from competition, former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov has focused his formidable intellect on international politics. Earlier this year, Kasparov offered a very blunt evaluation of Vladimir Putin: "Evil, pure evil." While many world leaders are either unable or unwilling to face the danger that Putin represents, Kasparov understands that language is important and that Putin's conduct regarding the Ukraine is a war, not an "incursion." Kasparov declares, "As Russian troops and armored columns advance in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian government begs for aid from the free world it hoped would receive it and protect it as one of its own. The leaders of the free world, meanwhile, are struggling to find the right terminology to free themselves from the moral responsibility to provide that protection."

Kasparov then cuts through all of the rhetoric emanating from so-called leaders who are in fact afraid to take a meaningful stand:

This vocabulary of cowardice emanating from Berlin and Washington today is as disgraceful as the black-is-white propaganda produced by Putin's regime, and even more dangerous. Moscow's smoke screens are hardly necessary in the face of so much willful blindness. Putin's lies are obvious and expected. European leaders and the White House are even more eager than the Kremlin to pretend this conflict is local and so requires nothing more than vague promises from a very safe distance. As George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay on language right before starting work on his novel 1984 (surely not a coincidence): "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." The Western rhetoric of appeasement creates a self-reinforcing loop of mental and moral corruption. Speaking the truth now would mean confessing to many months of lies, just as it took years for Western leaders to finally admit Putin didn't belong in the G-7 club of industrialized democracies...

The U.S., Canada and even Europe have responded to Putin's aggression, it is true, but always a few moves behind, always after the deterrent potential of each action had passed. Strong sanctions and a clear demonstration of support for Ukrainian territorial integrity (as I recommended at the time) would have had real impact when Putin moved on Crimea in February and March. A sign that there would be real consequences would have split his elites as they pondered the loss of their coveted assets in New York City and London...

As one of the pioneers of the analogy I feel the irony in how it has quickly gone from scandal to cliché to compare Putin to Hitler, for better and for worse. Certainly Putin's arrogance and language remind us more and more of Hitler's, as does how well he has been rewarded for them. For this he can thank the overabundance of Chamberlains in the halls of power today--and there is no Churchill in sight."

Kasparov's ominous conclusion foreshadows what will happen next if President Obama and other Western heads of state do not display much more resolve in the face of Putin's aggression:

As always when it comes to stopping dictators, with every delay the price goes up. Western leaders have protested over the potential costs of action [in] Ukraine at every turn only to be faced with the well-established historical fact that the real costs of inaction are always higher. Now the only options left are risky and difficult, and yet they must be tried. The best reason for acting to stop Putin today is brutally simple: it will only get harder tomorrow.

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