Friday, August 31, 2007

Abbas' group vows rocket attacks despite amnesty


Do you ever think Olmert feels like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football?

Fatah terror organization claims debut of new, more deadly projectile
Posted: August 31, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein
© 2007

JERUSALEM – A top leader of the so-called "military wing" of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party vowed in a WND interview his terror group would continue firing rockets from the Gaza Strip at nearby Jewish communities regardless of peace negotiations reportedly taking place between Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed to WND they have a new rocket in Gaza that can travel further than those previously fired from the territory.

The Brigades, who last month were offered amnesty by Olmert, took credit for a Qassam rocket attack yesterday that scored a direct hit on a house in the Israeli city of Sderot, a town of about 25,000 residents located three miles from the Gaza border. Two were injured in the attack.

"No matter what happens in negotiations, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades will keep shooting these rockets at the Zionists," Abu Lel Muntasser, chief of the Brigades in the southern Gaza Strip, told WND.

Muntasser and other Brigades leaders said the past few days they fired a new kind of rocket, called the Al Aqsa 107. They declined to give specifics of the claimed new rocket other than to say it has a larger engine and contains more explosives than rockets previously fired from Gaza.

Abbas' Brigades also fired rockets this past Tuesday during a summit between the Palestinian leader and Olmert.

In a gesture to Abbas' Olmert last month granted amnesty to 178 West Bank-based members of the Brigades, Fatah's declared military wing which took responsibility along with the Islamic Jihad terror group for every suicide bombing in Israel the past two years.

Israel issued documents for the 178 Fatah fugitives to sign, pledging their resignation from any so-called paramilitary organizations. The wanted militants – who comprise much of the senior Brigades leadership – also were required to turn in their weapons, spend a week in a PA holding area and restrict their movements to the area in which they reside for three months. After that, they would be allowed to move freely throughout the West Bank.

In spite of the amnesty deal, Brigades members, including those taken off Israel's wanted list, have been carrying out attacks in recent weeks, security sources said.

Last week, a Brigades gunman fired at Israeli soldiers at the Hawara checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Nablus. Brigades sources said group members perpetuated "dozens" of shootings against Israeli forces since last month. Over the weekend, the Israeli Defense Forces searched the house of a Brigades gunman who was accused of carrying out recent shooting attacks, security sources said.

Ayad Frehat, a Brigades leader in the West Bank city of Jenin, told WND last week his group in the West Bank would not disarm or cease attacks on the Jewish state in spite of an amnesty.

"We respect our leaders but will keep fighting until Israel withdraws completely from the West Bank. We are the resistance. We will keep fighting and never give up our weapons until Israel withdraws," said Frehat.

"Whenever the Israeli army acts in the West Bank, we will fight side-by-side with our brothers from the other resistance movements," Frehat said.

Earlier this month, WND broke the story how Israel captured an armed Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades member who was smuggling bullets from Jenin to Nablus, but let him go after it was determined he was on a list of wanted gunmen granted amnesty by Olmert.

WND also reported this week Olmert was considering granting amnesty to hundreds more Brigades gunmen and may allowed the return to Bethlehem of 26 Brigades leaders who were exiled after seizing the city's Church of the Nativity in 2002. The Nativity church is the believed birthplace of Jesus.

FOWL' RITUAL: Rabbis re-examine chicken swinging


OK, I don't do the chicken swinging thing, but I owned chickens for a long time, and I know that when you pick them up by the legs, they go into a semi-hypnotized state where they don't move and, therefore, don't get hurt if you are trying to move them from, say, one pen to the next or carry them down the street to your friend's house.

If you hold them nicely, under their belly, they freak, and hurt themselves (and you too).

So, even though the "leg hold" thing looks like it hurts them, it doesn't. It's the safest way to handle a chicken.

Just my farm-girl thoughts here.


August 31, 2007 -- Rabbis in Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish and Hasidic communities are taking a hard look at an annual religious ceremony in which the faithful swing live chickens over their heads.

Called kapparot, the fowl-whirling event occurs each year between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur - which take place next month - and is meant to transfer the sins of the believer to the chicken, which is then sacrificed.

But after a series of troubling incidents, in which birds were found improperly dumped after the ceremony, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has its feathers in a bunch.

They've been circulating a video showing the chickens being tossed around like garbage in filthy conditions after a ceremony.

"The kapparot ritual must be examined. It is a serious health concern that children handle live, feces-covered and possibly diseased chickens and wade through the blood of slaughtered poultry," PETA said in a letter sent to the city Health Department.

Earlier this month, a group of about a dozen respected rabbis met to look at the evidence of trouble. Afterward, they called for an upgrade of the process, including how the birds are trucked in, where they are held before the ritual, and how they are slaughtered.

"It's not going to be stopped," said Isaac Abraham, a Hasidic community activist. "We have to make sure everything is done in a proper way."

Abraham said that at least 50,000 chickens are used in ceremonies across Brooklyn.

They are usually gripped by their feet and neck and briefly swung above the head.

The birds are then handed over to be slaughtered. Most wind up as a meal for someone.

Abraham said that the swinging is not cruel.

"It doesn't hurt them," he said. "[They are held] just like you see any animal pick up its cubs by the neck."

PETA and the Hasidic community have long battled over the ceremony, and have even clashed at protests.

PETA spokesman Bruce Freidrich said the chicken swinging is not required, and some Jewish communities have abandoned the practice.

According to The Forward newspaper, some Orthodox groups swing money over their heads instead of chickens. Also, some historical Jewish thinkers, such as Moses Maimonides, deemed the practice pagan and argued it should be abandoned, the paper said.

PETA even invoked the threat of bird flu being spread by mass handling of chickens.

"The risk of communicable avian diseases and bacterial contamination is alarming, and the inhumane treatment and mishandling of animals at every stage of the process must be prevented," the group said.

The Health Department did not immediately have a comment on the letter from PETA.

Abraham, however, said that the Hasidic community has no plan to end kapparot.

"It's a ceremony that has to be done," he said. "It's not going to be stopped."

Ahmadinejad claims 'Zionists' behind Swedish cartoon


I don't know how you do it, my brothers and sisters, but you control the world! Too bad you can't get access to your own holy places, huh?

Published: 28th August 2007 18:33 CET

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that "Zionists" were behind a cartoon in Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda, which depicted the head of the Prophet Mohammed on a dog's body. The drawing sparked an official protest by Tehran to Stockholm.

"They do not want the Swedish government to be a friend of other nations. I strongly believe they are behind it (the cartoon). They thrive on conflict and war," he said.

The claim came during a tirade against Israel, in which Ahmadineja accused Zionists of sowing conflict, publishing offensive cartoons and "lying about being Jewish."

"Zionists are people without any religion," Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly predicted that Israel is doomed to disappear, told a news conference in Tehran.

"They are lying about being Jewish because religion means brotherhood, friendship and respecting other divine religions," he said.

"They are an organised minority who have infiltrated the world. They are not even a 10,000-strong organization," he said.

"Anywhere they are found there is war. Anywhere where there is war they are behind it," Ahmadinejad added.

Echoing his previous predictions about Israel's future, the president said:

"If the world is calm, people, Europeans, Germans even, will uproot them."

Iran's foreign ministry on Monday summoned a Swedish diplomat to protest against the cartoon in Nerikes Allehanda, an Örebro-based regional newspaper .

The leader writer behind the editorial accompanied by the cartoon in question on Tuesday defended his piece.

"The right to caricature a religion and the right to practice a religion are connected," Lars Ströman told The Local. Meanwhile, he has received support from the Swedish Association of Newspaper Publishers, which said it was important to defend the publication of controversial work.

Iran's government denies charges of anti-Semitism, pointing to the peaceful existence in Iran of a 20,000-strong Jewish community, the largest in the Middle East outside Israel.

Poll: 62% don't know next year is shmita year


Well, of course they think it is irrelevant. They think anything that doesn't have to do with discos, cell phones, the internet, and making them feel good about being themselves is irrelevant. They are self-absorbed--that's why they are secular and not religious. Hello? We're talking about people who eat pork and go shopping on Shabbat. Of course they don't care about Shmita!


Most Israelis ignorant of fact coming Jewish year is shmita year; many non-religious Jews feel shmita irrelevant today,7340,L-3442872,00.html
Published: 08.31.07, 10:16 / Israel Jewish Scene

The Jewish shmita (sabbatical) year starts in two and-a-half weeks, but most Israelis are unaware of this fact, a poll conducted by the Smith Institute among 500 adult Jewish Israelis found.

According to the Torah, during the shmita year, which takes place once every seven years, farmland in the Land of Israel has to remain uncultivated.

While 71% of respondents knew what the term "shmita" meant (91% of the religious public and about two-thirds of the observant and non-religious public), 62% of them did not know that the coming Jewish year of 5768 was a shmita year.

When asked for their view on the practice of shmita, 78% of religious and haredi respondents said that it represented ecological, social and spiritual values and that it should be implemented in our times, despite the difficulties in doing so.

Meanwhile, 43% of the non-religious public said that the concept of shmita was relevant for times when most people were farmers, and that it was no longer relevant today.

Most of the religious and haredi participants (56%) stated that the Chief Rabbinate should be the authority deciding on shmita year matters, while most non-religious (52%) and traditional Jews (58%) said that a government office should be in charge of shmita issues.

Olmert Offers Judea, Samaria, Divides J'lem in Draft Accord


Do you think he knows that such a plan would mean civil war in Israel? Do you think he is aware that the entire country would fall if he did such a thing?

I’m sure he knows, but his own power is more important than the country. Always has been, always will be. After all, If he can’t be PM, then Israel shouldn’t exist, right?

And it isn’t much better with anyone that could be named to replace him. They are all the lap-dogs of Condi and Abbas.

by Gil Ronen

( Israel's government has agreed, in writing, to hand over 6,250 square kilometers of land – the equivalent of its entire biblical and strategic heartland - to an Arab terror state. So reports Dr. Guy Bechor, a leading expert on Arab affairs, who also supplies some of the details of the negotiations.

Bechor reports, based on "leaks from the Palestinian side," that Israel has, in the past few days, presented Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas at least one draft of an "agreement of principles."

The agreement calls for a state named Palestine to be established alongside Israel, and have a territory of 6,250 square kilometers: the equivalent of all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
"Palestine" will be demilitarized.
Most of the Jewish communities built in Judea and Samaria over the past 40 years are to demolished and their inhabitants expelled, according to the plan. The remaining communities are to be concentrated in small salients
Most of the Jewish communities built in Judea and Samaria over the past 40 years are to demolished and their inhabitants expelled.
for which the Arab state will be compensated with additional territory elsewhere in present-day Israel.
A passage of some sort will connect Gaza and Judea and Samaria. It will be under Jewish sovereignty and Palestinian administration.
Israel agrees to redivide Jerusalem. Arab neighborhoods will be under Arab sovereignty and Jewish ones under Jewish sovereignty. Mention is made of "religious areas," but further details are not known as of yet. Each side will recognize the other's spiritual needs.
The "refugee" question is not mentioned at all, and Bechor reports that this is the main sticking point. Abbas is insisting that Arabs descended from those who fled Israel in 1948 be allowed to return to Israel, at least in principle.

Bechor says that Abbas and his men have gone over the draft and are not pleased; they know how to negotiate, he notes. In a recent interview with PA TV, Abbas said that "declarations of principles are a waste of time" and "useless." What the PA wants, he said, is a clear timetable for establishing Palestine, as well as an Israeli pullback, demolition of Jewish communities and "return of refugees" (i.e., the flooding of Israel with Arab citizens).

The Arabs are hoping Israel will become more pliable in November, when an international diplomatic conference, sponsored by the US, is to be held in an attempt to hammer out an accord.

An official close to Mahmoud Abbas, Mustafa Bargouti, said that the idea of a conference is "an Israeli trap" and that nothing will come of it.

Lieberman: 'Peace Now' Are Hellenists


And he is absolutely right. They are Hellenists. Believe me, they would be right up there helping to erect statues of Zeus in the Holy of Holies if they weren’t so afraid of upsetting the “religious sensibilities” of the arabs by visiting the Temple Mount.


( Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman called Peace Now's activists "Hellenists," in a dedication ceremony for the reopened road.from eastern Gush Etzion and the Herodion area to Jerusalem.

Lieberman made the comment in referring to the anti-Zionist organization's report on Israel's investment in roads in Judea and Samaria. "Hellenists" were Jews who preferred Greek culture to Judaim in Second Temple times.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hevron's Jews: Gov't Must Return Jewish Property


Yes, yes, and yes!

I am so glad that this report has come out. I hope it gets the recognition and results it deserves, and that the Jews of Hevron are finally shown to be what they are: protectors of a Jewish Legacy in a historically, spiritually, and religiously significant and, beyond a doubt, 100% Jewish city.

Enough with the rewarding terrorist thugs and their ancestors for their violent and criminal behavior.

Justice must be served, and justice means that Jewish properties must be returned to Jews (Including ALL of our HOLY PLACES—i.e. The Temple mount, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Joseph’s Tomb . . . Etc. etc. etc.)

This doesn’t mean they won’t have access to those places that they regard as holy to their religion. It is historically, politically, and morally clear that, when Jews have control of these places, they are protected, and everyone has access (Jews, Arabs, Xtians, Druze, etc). When they have control, holy sites are destroyed and only arabs have access!

by Hillel Fendel

( The Hevron Jewish Community has released a sharp, detailed report accusing the Israeli Government of breach of trust, abuse, and hostility towards the Jewish owners of Arab-stolen property in the City of the Patriarchs.

Entitled "The State of Israel's Management of the Stolen Jewish Property in Hevron," the report was issued this month in honor of the 78th anniversary of the Hevron massacre. In August 1929, Arabs brutally murdered 67 of their Jewish neighbors in their homes and in the local yeshiva. The Jewish survivors were then removed from Hevron, leaving behind their homes and land to be stolen by the Arabs. Only after the 1967 Six Day War did Jews return permanently to reclaim their homes and property. They soon found, however, that doing so under Israeli rule was not to be as easy as they thought.

...a major failure of legal, historic and moral significance

The report begins by terming itself a "grave indictment" against those in the government who, "for decades have been exploiting their standing and have tried to apply their full influence to prevent the return of the Jewish properties to their owners, and to prevent the correction of the historic injustice of the 1929 pogroms."

The report aims to "detail how, for a generation, the State of Israel has been betraying its mission as the representative of the Jewish Nation in the City of its Forefathers, with disdain, disregard and even hostility vis-a-vis its historic mission of rehabilitating the ancient Hevron community that was destroyed by Arab rioters..."

In short, the report "presents a major failure of legal, historic and moral significance."

What Happened When?
The writers feel that a historic perspective is necessary, and Chapter One recounts the massacre of 1929, followed by the transfer of most of the property to Jordan's "Trustee of Enemy Zionist Property" in 1948. With no one to stop them, the Jordanians proceeded to:

  • bulldoze the Jewish quarter's houses;
  • destroy and desecrate the Avraham Avinu synagogue, building atop it a sheep sty, garbage dump, and public restroom;
  • destroy and vandalize the ancient Jewish cemetery, using the gravestones for local construction;
  • and station an outdoor market for food and goods in the Jewish-owned property.

Parts of the property were rented out by the Jordanian Trustee to local Arabs, while other parts were ignored by the Trustee, and were simply taken over by private or public elements without being registered. "There is actually no proper and full registration anywhere of the stolen Jewish property in Hevron, because of faulty management by both the Jordanian conquerors and the Israel Trustee," the report states.

Israel Takes Over From Jordan
The Israeli Trustee received control of the property in 1967 following the liberation of the Biblical homeland areas of Jerusalem, Judea (including Hevron), Samaria, and more. "It now had a historic Jewish-moral opportunity to correct the injustice and restore Jewish life to Hevron - but it did so only partially, despite repeated requests by both the owners and the Jewish Community of Hevron that had received power of attorney to settle most of the properties."

The function of the Trustee is to act in the best interests of those he is representing, the report states, and to ensure that the property does not remain desolate. "Yet Israel constantly and systematically did the opposite... For instance, regarding Hevron property that had been consecrated to a Jewish religious trust, the Supreme Court ruled that Israel could manage it as if it owned it. At the same time, regarding the Moslem Waqf properties in Judea and Samaria, the State does not intervene at all - even when the Waqf works in tandem with terror organizations."

The report says that by allowing many of the properties to remain vacant and desolate, it is abrogating its basic obligations as a Trustee: "The Trustee/State absurdly overlooks the Arab renters' obligations, while at the same time making extra sure their rights are not harmed... thus ignoring his obligations towards both the property (by leaving it vacant and desolate) and the owners (by not letting them move in)."

Tel Romeida, For Example
Two Jewish-owned plots of land (Bloc 34416, plots 52 and 53) at the heights of the Tel Romeida neighborhood stand adjacent to an IDF base and Jewish homes in the neighborhood - yet the government bans Jews from setting foot there. The land had been rented to an Arab, but the contract was stopped by the Civil Administration in 2000.

The Jewish Community of Hevron, granted power of attorney by the owners, has asked several times to be allowed to rent the land. In 2003, the IDF Central Region Commander agreed - but to this day nothing has been done to allow the Jews to move in, and it remains desolate. At the same time, the State/Trustee also does very little to stop Arab infiltration and illegal usage of the area - whereas Jews who have tried to enter the plots have been arrested and tried.

This is a perfect example, the report states, of the government's hostile attitude towards the Jews of Hevron: "These plots have all the necessary conditions - land owned by Jews who have given official power of attorney to the Jewish Community, no Arab 'third party,' security permits, and the submission of proper requests throughout the years - and yet despite all, the property remains desolate, in clear violation of the owners' will."

Moving into the Market
The area now known as the Marketplace - the part of the Avraham Avinu neighborhood that the Jordanians turned into an outdoor market - is undisputedly Jewish-owned. After the IDF closed down the Jordanian market because of the security dangers it presented, and after it stood desolate for seven years, and immediately after the murder of the infant Shalhevet Pass by an Arab sniper terrorist, several Jewish families moved into the storefronts and turned them into their homes.
The Jews fulfilled their end of the bargain - but Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said the State need not fulfill its side

This led to a drawn-out legal battle in which the State demanded to expel the Jews. The State's main claim was that families who moved in illegally should not be rewarded. The report notes the absurdity: "In the [State's] eyes, the 'sinners' who must not be rewarded are the Jews who acted in accordance with the owners' wishes and by their request - and not the Arabs who murdered and threw out the Jews in 1929!"

Finally, at the end of 2005, an agreement was worked out according to which the Jewish occupants would leave, to be replaced shortly afterwards by other Jewish families who would rent the buildings. The Jews fulfilled their end of the bargain - but Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said the State need not fulfill its side, because of "legal and political considerations."

After having been thus betrayed, two families moved back in to adjacent buildings - and were brutally and violently removed by army and police forces earlier this month. This expulsion, the report states, is a "mocking symbol of the hostility and disdain that the State of Israel has for the stolen Jewish property," from several aspects:

  • The eviction was not required, as the Supreme Court merely ruled that it was legal, not obligatory;
  • it was meant only to impart a lesson that 'sinners should not be rewarded' - when in fact it was clear to all that their requests to move in had been ignored for years, leaving Jewish-owned property vacant and desolate;
  • it was done against two families that had left peaceably on their own in the past, based on a government promise that was not fulfilled;
  • it was tremendously violent and destructive. The properties were turned into ruins - in opposition to the Trustee's obligation to preserve the property, and an indication that the government to ensure that no Jews ever live there. It was the first time since 1929 that a synagogue had been destroyed in Hevron - and the destroyers were Israeli soldiers and policemen.

The report also notes the State's extra-harsh approach towards Jews who wish to actualize their rights to the Jewish property - especially in comparison with the forgiving approach towards Arabs who infiltrate into these areas. For instance, a Jewish teenager was caught sleeping in one of the refurbished apartments in the market area. The police arrested him and demanded that he be distanced from the area for 60 days, claiming, "The State affirms the existence of a policy, approved by the Justice Ministry, calling for extra precautions to ensure that the Hevron market area remains empty."

The judge asked the State representative about the closure order placed upon the apartments for "security reasons": "Why do these security reasons necessitate only the closing of the apartments, yet allow people to walk by there? Is it more dangerous for people to enter the apartments than to merely walk by?"

The State's representative answered, "This is the judgment of the Central Commander..." However, he did not add that the order was issued by the Central Commander at the behest of the Deputy Attorney General, Shai Nitzan, for the purpose of preventing Jewish entry into the storefronts.

Conclusion: End the Israeli Trusteeship!
Israel's hostile approach cannot be due to its opposition to Jewish presence in Hevron, the report states: "The government of Israel has recognized, ever since a Cabinet decision in 1980, the legitimacy of Jewish habitation in Hevron - and even anchored this right in an international agreement, the Hevron Accord of 1997."

"However," the report continues, "as the Trustee of the property, Israel relates to the Jewish owners as an enemy. This is an absurd and intolerable situation for anyone who sees Israel as the country of the Jewish Nation."

The writers of the report therefore call upon the State of Israel to end its trusteeship immediately, "especially given the fact that in 1995, a peace treaty was signed with Jordan - ending the state of war between the two countries, ending Israel's status as an 'enemy' vis-a-vis Jordan, and ending the need for Israel to fill the shoes of Jordan's Trustee of Enemy Zionist Property..."

"Alternatively," the report concludes, "Israel's policy makers must instruct all the government echelons to immediately stop the systematic harassment and discrimination of the owners of the stolen Jewish property... The State must first repair the damage it did in the market property, and then begin corrective reverse discrimination, leading to the restoration of dynamic Jewish life in Hevron as it was before the pogrom of 1929."

Protests Pay Off, E. Gush Etzion-Jerusalem Road to Open Friday


See? Jews behaving badly (protests) gets a lot more reaction from the government than Jews agreeing to concessions or trying to politely ask for things.

This is something everyone learns very quickly in Israel, isn’t it? If you stand in line politely, you will never get service. You must push to the front and demand things, or you don’t get them.

Where are our demands? Why haven’t we held up “peace talks” to demand access to our own Holy Temple? Why haven’t we demanded protection of Jewish towns? Why haven’t we demanded the stop of terrorist activities?

Strange that the Arabs have learned this lesson, but our own government doesn’t seem to get it?

I think the MKs need to spend a bit more time in line at falafel stands and grocery stores and health clinics and a little less time at gala soirée's where they are waited upon hand and foot.

They have come to think they are deserving of things and have forgotten how to fight for them.

by Ezra HaLevi

( After years of work by activists and the local municipality, eastern Gush Etzion will now be reconnected directly to Jerusalem.

The new road, which will be opened Friday morning, will make the drive from eastern Gush Etzion to Jerusalem less than ten minutes. Residents now travel upwards of 45 minutes, much of it in the wrong direction, to reach the capital.

Eastern Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem and straddling the Judea Desert, has been isolated from the capital ever since the start of the Oslo War in 2000, when the road connecting it to the capital was deemed too dangerous to drive on.

Prior to that, residents still faced intermittent attacks following the Oslo Accords and the deployment of armed PLO forces in nearby Bethlehem.

In the mid-90s, when about 90 percent of the residents of Judea and Samaria benefited from Rabin government’s construction of bypass roads leading around areas handed over to the PLO, eastern Gush Etzion was not included.

Protests in Recent Years
Several grassroots protests aimed to pressure the government to open the road, which lay nearly finished for over a year. Local residents of Tekoa, Nokdim, Maaleh Rechavam, Meitzad, Pnei Kedem and Maaleh Amos stood to benefit most from the road’s opening, but residents of western Gush Etzion towns like Efrat also sought the opening of the road as an alternative route when traffic tie-ups or accidents block off the main Tunnels Road on the Jerusalem-Hevron Highway.

Marches were held and activists tried to traverse the remaining unpaved segment of the road. Last December, MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said at one of the protests: “It is Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Chief of Police Moshe Karadi who are preventing the opening of this road. They are doing so for political reasons alone.”

Now, with Peretz out of the picture after losing Labor Party elections and Karadi forcibly retired due to corruption, the road is finally being opened this Friday.

The Announcement
Last week, Gush Etzion’s municipality sent out a message announcing the road’s opening. “After many years of anticipation, and countless efforts with government offices we are happy to finally announce the opening of the new Jerusalem – Gush Herodion Highway (or Zaatra bypass road). The name Gush Herodion Highway comes from the fact that the road runs just below the flat-topped Herodion fortress constructed by King Herod. The King’s tomb was recently uncovered at the site as well.

The highway will open at 6 AM, Friday, August 31, with a festive ceremony at the Mizmoria Junction at the Jerusalem side of the highway following a convoy leaving from the Herodion at 7:30 AM.

“In the first stage, the highway will be open daily from 6am-6pm only,” the municipality wrote to residents. “We are continuing to work together with the IDF to extend the hours.”

Activists Happy, Apprehensive
Anita Finkelstein, who heads Tekoa’s grassroots Action Committee, says she has been waiting for the construction of the bypass road since it was mentioned to her upon her moving to Tekoa 21 years ago.

She and her neighbors are still apprehensive. They have been informed before of the opening of the road and are waiting until they see it with their own eyes until they believe it. They are reluctant to take the opening of the road as a sign that they will now be included "inside" the route of the Partition Wall - which they are now set to be excluded from.

Overall, however, local activists are pleased that one of their goals has been reached. “All of us feel that everything we did was important to bringing this day,” Finkelstein says. “We hope and pray that it will encourage tourism in the region and that more and more people will decide to live here.”

Sheikh Salah accuses Israel of wanting to build Jewish temple near al-Aqsa


Uh, sorry to break this to you, Sheiky Baby, but your Al Aqsa is BUILT UPON THE JEWISH TEMPLE.

Hello? We were there first. You were still praying to stars and bushes and the like when we built it. Remember? Islam didn't exist until LONG AFTER Judaism and Xtianity were well established.

However, in the interest of keeping us from further offending you, why don’t you move your damned Mosque? We’ll help you pack!

Published: 08.30.07, 14:09 / Israel News

The head of the Islamic Movement northern branch Sheikh Raed Salah accused Israel of conspiring to encroach on parts of the Temple Mount to build a Jewish temple near the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Salah called on the Arab and Mulism world to prevent Israel from building "its imaginary temple." (Ali Waked)

Israeli tennis stars unveil plan


Good for them! My suggestion is that they start providing scholarships for kids at JCCs. There are just too many kids who can’t afford the $150 per sport + JCC membership (usually $700-900 a year) that it takes to participate.

Instead, those kids end up at the YMCA/YWCA sports camps where all the games are on Shabbat, and none of their friends are Jewish.

My sons couldn't participate in sports at all until we moved to a place where there was a sizable Jewish community because all the practices and/or games were on Shabbat. It was very difficult for them. Even in school, the athletics are all on Shabbat. (Football? Friday Night. Baseball? Saturday afternoon. Soccer? Saturday morning. Volleyball? Practices, Friday night and games Saturday Morning. Basketball? Games Friday night, practices Saturday afternoon.)


Israeli tennis pros Andy Ram, left, and Jonathan Erlich are starting a foundation to help young American Jews in their athletic pursuits.
By Jacob Berkman Published: 08/28/2007

NEW YORK (JTA) -- In the philanthropic equivalent of a return volley, two top Israeli tennis players who have received the support of American Jews want to raise money for disadvantaged American Jewish children.

Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich, a doubles pair ranked sixth in the world, are trying to start a foundation that would provide grants to young American Jews for their athletic training.

The Jewish Sports Foundation would award grants based on financial need, athletic acumen, positive character traits and community service.

Ram, 27, and Erlich, 30, in New York this week for the U.S. Open, told JTA they wanted to give back to American Jews who have financially supported athletic training programs in Israel and opened their homes to them.

Their goal is to create a greater avenue for cultivating athletes in the Jewish community, which typically focuses more on academic and cultural pursuits.

"The foundation is a pretty new idea," Erlich said. "You don't see too many Jewish athletes around. We think this will give American Jews a way to find athletes and to give them something different."

Not that Jews shouldn't be doctors and lawyers, the athletes said, but both fare well monetarily on the tennis court rather than in the courtroom. Each won nearly $250,000 in 2006 and boast more than $1 million in career earnings.

Plus there is potential income from endorsements in Israel: Ram and Erlich say they cannot walk the streets without being recognized.

Longtime friends, they became doubles partners in 2001. Ram sat out 2002 with back and knee injuries, but they have been Israel's most successful sports duo since they reunited.

In 2005, they reached the Wimbledon semifinals. The pair have won 10 titles together; this month they won the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati.

Ram has achieved success without Erlich, too. He became Israel's first grand slam champion when he captured the Wimbledon mixed doubles title last year with Vera Zvonareva, a Russian. This year he paired with a French player, Nathalie Dechy, to take the French Open mixed doubles crown.

Noting the support they receive from the American Jewish community, Ram and Erlich say they rarely stay in hotels while playing eight to nine months a year in the United States. Rather they spend most of their time with host families.

"We just want to give back to the American Jews," Ram said.

Their foundation is inspired in part by the Israel Tennis Centers, a network of 14 not-for-profit facilities that teaches tennis and life lessons through the game. Some 350,000 Israeli children, including Ram, have passed through the centers since they opened in 1976.

The centers are funded primarily by American donors -- the direction that charity dollars typically flow between Israel and American Jews.

Ram and Erlich are attempting to change the course. Their foundation is in its early stages, according to Leslie Bernstein, a political and public relations strategist who is doing most of the legwork in starting the operation, including trying to attain 501(c)3 status. The tennis pros plan on approaching several prominent American Jewish athletes for funding.

The Israelis say they want to challenge two stereotypes: that all Jews are wealthy and no Jews are athletes.

"When you talk to a lot of Americans and ask about Jewish athletes, the only name you really hear is Sandy Koufax -- and that was 40 years ago," Bernstein said.

IBL Will Return


I hope the IBL continues, and that it catches on and does well. I know it is hard to get something going, but I love the fact that they are making a go of it!

Yaffi Spodek and Noach Lawrence
The Jerusalem Post (

The Israel Baseball League will return next season, officials say, despite low attendance and some players' concerns that insufficient outreach and low marketing have stunted efforts to popularize the sport in Israel.

"The league is definitely coming back next year," IBL founder Larry Baras told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. "We even have tryouts for next season scheduled already for Aug. 19."

The league will not expand past the existing six teams for the second year, but there are plans to build several baseball fields.

Locations under consideration include Bet Shemesh, Jerusalem, Netanya, Beersheva and Eilat.

"We are working together with the Jewish National Fund and the municipalities to help us raise the money and find the expertise needed to build these fields," Baras said.

Baras acknowledged that the league has experienced some financial difficulties.

The IBL is financed by a general ownership, an arrangement that is not ideal because the funds need to be disbursed among all six teams.

"We are definitely looking at what makes sense as far as selling individual teams," Baras said. "Having local ownership is really an important part of success."

Until this week, the league had paid Sport5 to televise Sunday games, which were then repeated in Israel all week and broadcast in some parts of the United States on Comcast.

"But this was a very expensive proposition for us, and we are trying to negotiate to work something out based on our financial considerations," Baras said.

Now, the only remaining game that will possibly be televised is the championship Aug. 19, with Baras working hard to ensure that it is broadcast, despite its coinciding with a soccer game.

Another issue that has plagued the league all season is lack of support from native Israelis, evident by the poor attendance at games.

The overwhelming majority of IBL fans are Americans who have made aliyah or are visiting for the summer.

At Sportek in Tel Aviv on Monday, 75 people were in the crowd for the game between the Bet Shemesh Blue Sox and the Netanya Tigers, according to facilities manager David Rattner, a number that is only slightly lower than the average of 100 to 125 fans at the field.

Attendance is generally lower at Sportek games because "this whole area [north Tel Aviv] is very Israeli," Blue Sox pitcher Jeff Moore said.

Gezer field often attracts crowds of several hundred people because its home teams, the Blue Sox and the Modi'in Miracle, hail from cities with larger Anglo-Israeli immigrant populations.

IBL public relations director Nathaniel Edelstein urged critics to compare the IBL's attendance figures not with "those of the major leagues or even minor leagues [in America], which isn't fair," but rather with those of European leagues.

"They don't get the kind of numbers that we're getting," he said. "They get 30 people a game, and it's all friends and family."

Baras agreed, saying: "An average of 300 people per game during the start-up season is impressive."

Still, some feel the small crowds are indicative of a broader trend: the Israeli public's lukewarm reception to the sport of baseball.

"When we go out to bars and restaurants, we tell the person seating us, 'We play in the Israel Baseball League' " Netanya pitcher Leon Feingold said. Half the time, he said, "people say,'What?' "

More Americans than Israelis know about the IBL, Feingold said. When the league was launched, it won copious coverage abroad, as expected, but as the weeks progressed, few Israeli media outlets seized on the IBL.

"It's not seen as newsworthy or sportsworthy," he said.

The decision to give the teams English names may also account for the Israelis' indifference to the sport.

IBL officials originally wanted to use Hebrew names - the Tigers were going to be Namarei Netanya - but Israelis persuaded them to use the English transliterated names.

"Israelis were telling us that that was the trend here, which is kind of sad," Baras said. "We weren't trying to lead it in that direction, but that was the general consensus here."

Baras said he believes that "subliminally, people are still associating baseball with Americans."

Feingold also cited as problematic the fact that the IBL's headquarters are in Boston, while only "a skeleton crew" operates in Israel. Edelstein confirmed that the IBL's staff in Israel consists of only 10 people.

Rattner agreed, saying: "The problem this year was that we were understaffed. There were lots of great ideas but not enough people to implement them."

Overextended in this way, the IBL passed up some "common-sense outreach opportunities," Blue Sox outfielder-pitcher Alan Gardner said. "I'm not saying the people running the league don't have common sense, but ... there were grass-roots opportunities that were missed."

Gardner suggested yearbook signings and ticket giveaways in bookstores, or informal games of catch on the Tel Aviv beach.

A few activities like those have been planned, such as an upcoming team visit to the Netanya Mall to sign autographs. On Tuesday morning, 11 players representing all six teams went to Ben Gurion International Airport to greet a Nefesh B'Nefesh flight of new immigrants.

The IBL should not only sponsor more community outreach, players said, but also step up promotion.

"It's kind of discouraging that some games don't draw that many fans, but it's tough because we're competing here with soccer and basketball," Bet Shemesh outfielder Sean Slaughter said.

Despite the problems, many players said they would gladly return to the IBL next year.

"Morale goes up and down," Netanya pitcher Fabian Almenta said, "but as long as we're playing ball, eating and getting paid, we're happy."

"There is a positive feeling among the players, which has gradually improved throughout the season as the league has accommodated us," Bet Shemesh pitcher Rafael Bergstrom added, saying that at the start of the season the league did not treat the players as well as expected, with laundry left for days and a lack of proper training conditions and equipment.

"All the trivial things don't seem to matter as much anymore once you get out on the field and realize how amazing it is that you're playing baseball in Israel."

"I'm extremely excited to be here," Natanya outfielder Dan Rootenberg said. "I'm loving it and would definitely come back for the second year."

"It will take a few years for baseball to catch on here, but I really think it's been a successful season," Baras said. "It has done so much to link Americans and Jews, and it has helped people to think of Israel in a different light, not only as a place related to religion and war. The league has brought about 1,000 people to Israel for the first time in their lives this summer, and that is a real accomplishment."



And what they don’t say . . . Hilly (Hillel) Kristal, of course, was a Jew.

Rest well.


P.S. For more info on Jews and Punk, see:

August 30, 2007 -- He took a run-down bar on the Bowery that he said stank of "dirty old men, vomit and urine," and built a legend - launching the careers of acts such as Blondie, the Ramones, Talking Heads and Patti Smith.

Hilly Kristal, founder of New York's iconic CBGB, died Tuesday from complications of lung cancer. He was 75.

The New Jersey native never intended to create the punk rock revolution in the 1970s.

"The question most often asked of me is, 'What does CBGB stand for?' I reply, 'It stands for the kind of music I intended to have, but not the kind that we became famous for: country, bluegrass, blues," Kristal wrote.

Opened in 1973, CBGB quickly became known as a gritty, grimy club that somehow had the hottest new acts on its stage, night after night.

"He created a club that started on a small, out-of-the-way skid row, and saw it go around the world," said Lenny Kaye, a longtime member of the Patti Smith Group. "Everywhere you travel around the world, you saw somebody wearing a CBGB T-shirt."

The club on Bowery at Bleecker Street closed down last October after Kristal lost a battle to fight eviction.

Kristal was born on his family's farm in Highstown, N.J., in 1931. As a teenager, he moved to New York with dreams of becoming a singer. In the 1950s, he did take to the stage, serving as a member of the choir at Radio City.

In the 1960s, Kristal became manager at the Greenwich Village jazz club the Village Vanguard, an experience that may have given him the idea to open a club of his own.

"I thought it would be a whole lot of fun to have my own club with all this kind of music playing there. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, things didn't quite work out the way I'd expected," Kristal wrote in his history of CBGB.

Kristal was an unlikely avatar of punk music.

"At first, they didn't play so well," he once said of the seminal punk bands that came to CBGB in the mid-1970s. "I certainly didn't love every band that played CBGB's but I did love to encourage them to do their own thing, to challenge the establishment."

He became a beloved figure to the performers who used his small venue as a launching pad to stardom.

"In an era when disco was the mainstream, Hilly took a chance and gambled," said Ramones drummer Marky Ramone. "The gamble paid off for both him and for us. We are all grateful to him and will miss him."

David Byrne, lead singer of Talking Heads, remembered Kristal's low-key demeanor and generosity.

"Other clubs were all about models and beautiful people, and he was about letting the musicians in for free, to hear music and get cheap beers," Byrne said. "It automatically created a scene, and we'd just hang out all night."

At the time of his death, Kristal was working to keep CBGB alive, with plans to open new outlets in other cities, including Las Vegas.

Kristal is survived by a daughter, Lisa Kristal Burgman, and a son, Mark Dana Kristal. With Post Wire Services

How "Illegal" Settlers Saved Israel


Well, it doesn't really matter how much the right yells from the rooftops that we are saving Israel, that is, until the left-media notice, I guess . . .

By P. David Hornik | 8/30/2007

An article this week in Israel’s second largest daily Maariv (in Hebrew) notes the preponderance of national-religious Jews in the officer corps of the Israel Defense Forces. Senior commentator Ben Caspit cites unconfirmed figures that no less than 50 percent of the IDF’s young combat officers are national-religious, as were 40 percent of the cadets in the latest course of the IDF’s officer training (combat and noncombat) school.

The article represents an acknowledgment by a major secular journalist that religious Jews have become, as Caspit puts it, “the IDF’s backbone.” The national-religious sector (as distinct from the ultra-Orthodox sector, very few of whose members serve in the IDF at all) accounts for only about 10-15 percent of the total population and so is now vastly overrepresented in the officer corps.

“Any way we look at it,” says Caspit (as translated in a report about the article by Gil Ronen), “it’s about education...It is clear that the religious Zionist movement’s educational institutions continue to disseminate values, Zionism, Judaism and mission orientation. The religious youth is mission-oriented. [It sets out to] conquer the hilltops, and then to conquer the military service and the officership.”

The politically-loaded phrase “conquer the hilltops” now refers in Israeli parlance to settlement of the West Bank, an enterprise in which national-religious Israelis are also overrepresented and have long been the spearhead. In other words, a sector that has long been vilified by Israel’s secular-Left elite now shows, by a considerable magnitude, statistically greater motivation for military leadership than the general population and has become a key factor in Israel’s security and survival.

All who profess friendship and support for Israel should presumably take an interest in this reality that has emerged. All plans for “peace” and a Palestinian state envision that some number of “West Bank settlers”—of whom this highly motivated Israeli sector forms a substantial part—will be forcibly removed from their homes in the interest of creating the Jew-free state that the Palestinians say they require.

As Gil Ronen notes, the abovementioned “statistics are significant [because] many religious soldiers have been refusing orders to evict Jews from their homes in [the West Bank] and Gaza. If half of the IDF’s new officers are religious, this means that the refusal movement could indeed have a deep deterrent impact on the IDF and government when and if it decides to attempt additional pullouts from territory.”

If so, one wonders if conservative, biblically-religious Americans like George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice must inevitably take the Israeli secular-Left view of such national-religious Israelis as lawbreaking nuisances instead of the admirable, idealistic people, ready to serve and sacrifice for their country, that they actually are.

It is difficult to square any profession of biblical religiosity with the belief that peace requires turning the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria, into yet another exclusively Muslim domain from which many Jews—many of whom live there out of deep biblical motivation—must be forcibly expelled.

The notion is beloved not only of the largely-atheist Israeli Left but also of largely-atheist leftists everywhere. In some sort of fantasy world, Bush and Rice would rethink it instead of continuing to push Israel toward dangerous, and possibly ruinously-divisive, concessions to Muslim supremacism.
P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Tel Aviv. He blogs at He can be reached at

Farmers fear haredi monopoly of fruit and vegetable market ahead of shmita


Holiness often follows profit margin, I have observed . . .

Aug 29, 2007 22:51 | Updated Aug 29, 2007 22:51

Farmers are concerned that a haredi power struggle to monopolize the fruit and vegetable market in the upcoming shmita [Sabbatical] year could cause growers as much as a NIS 700 million loss and result in a sharp rise in retail produce prices.

Yusta Bleier, Chairman of the Farmers Association, said Wednesday that fruit and vegetable growers were "very concerned" about "aggressive marketing tactics" being pursued by certain haredi kosher supervision organizations.

"Haredi kosher supervisors are trying to monopolize all the major retail chains," said Bleier, "And many local rabbis are refusing to allow fruits and vegetable that are not under haredi-run kosher supervision to be sold in their towns and cities, even when the majority of residents are not even religious."

According to Orthodox Jewish law, in the upcoming shmita year - which begins on Rosh Hashana (September 13) - all farmers in Israel are to observe a complete sabbatical from working their fields. Only absolutely critical labor is permitted, and the fruits grown during the shmita year must be treated as holy.

Grapes, apples, oranges and other perennial crops may be grown, but only under certain restrictions. For instance, irrigation is permitted only insomuch as it prevents the death of the trees and the loss of most of the fruit. Any additional watering is prohibited.

Also, these fruits cannot be marketed commercially nor can they be exported from the land of Israel.

For the purpose of shmita, the land of Israel is not identical to the borders of the modern state, but based on the limits of Jewish settlement over 2,000 years ago. For instance, anything south of Grofit, a town in the southern Negev [Arava] near Eilat, is considered outside the borders of the land of Israel, and anything grown there is exempt from shmita.

As opposed to the fruit of trees, crops which are planted annually cannot be grown at all unless they are planted and begin growing before shmita year or are grown during the shmita year inside a greenhouse in a flower pot via hydroponics.

These restrictions make it impossible to grow large field crops such as corn, wheat, potatoes, carrots and onions. The restrictions also forbid the farmer to make a profit on his produce.

However, in Jewish legal tradition there is a solution to the restrictions of the shmita year. Known as "heiter mechira," which can be loosely translated as "the sale option," the solution entails selling Jewish-owned land in Israel to a non-Jew, preferably a citizen who is pro-Israeli such as a Druze or a patriotic Arab Israeli.

Once the land is transferred to the possession of the non-Jew it loses its holiness. As a result, the land can be worked freely, and fruits and vegetables grown on this land carry no special sanctity. Jewish farmers, both secular and religious, rely on heiter mechira as an economically viable halachic solution that enables them to continue to work and market their produce.

But haredi rabbinic leadership has traditionally opposed heiter mechira since it was first introduced at the end of the 19th century. The haredi rabbis scoff at the attempt to stage a fake "sale" of the land so as to permit farmers to continue to work as usual during the shmita year.

Instead, haredi rabbis demand that all fruits and vegetables be bought from non-Jewish, mostly Arab, farmers inside Israel who have legally registered ownership of their land or from farmers outside Israel.

Haredi leaders are also trying to put pressure on the Agriculture Ministry to increase produce imports, which would be a serious blow to local farmers.

In previous shmita years, said Bleier, haredi rabbis were concerned solely with providing kosher supervision over fruits and vegetables earmarked for their own followers.

"But this shmita year the haredim have become much more aggressive. They are now waging a war against heiter mechira. They are doing everything they can to block the sale of heiter mechira produce.

"But we won't let them. If we need to we'll set up our own fruit and vegetable stands outside the supermarket chains and sell our own produce."

In several cities local rabbis have announced that they will refuse to allow heiter mechira produce to be sold in their cities. Grocery stores will have to choose between no kosher supervision whatsoever and the stringent, haredi supervision.

For instance, the rabbis of Rehovot, Petah Tikva and Herzliya have already announced they will not allow the sale of heiter mechira. Wholesalers in Herzliya have petitioned the Supreme Court to force the local rabbi to allow the sale of heiter mechira. The wholesalers argue that since the majority of Herzliya's residents are not haredi the local rabbi cannot coerce them to accept a stringent haredi kosher supervision.

In Bat Yam, Ra'anana, Afula, Kfar Saba and Ashdod the chief rabbis are also opposed to the sale of heiter mechira.

In Jerusalem, where there is no chief rabbi, the situation is similar. Only the more stringent kosher operations will be allowed to give supervision.

Rabbi Moshe Rauchverger, a senior member of the Shmita Council in the Chief Rabbinate, said that the rabbinate's policy was to allow each local rabbi to decide for himself which kosher supervision to adopt. Rauchverger admitted that this shmita year a concerted effort was made by the rabbinate and its head, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger, to reduce to a minimum the use of heiter mechira. In fact, one of the reasons Metzger received haredi support for his appointment as chief rabbi was the promise he gave to oppose heiter mechira.

Instead, two rabbis - Avraham Yosef, son of Ovadia Yosef and Ze'ev Weitman, the rabbi of the Tnuva Dairy - were half-heartedly appointed by the chief rabbinate to implement heiter mechira.

Bleier said that annual agricultural production in Israel was NIS 7 billion. While last shmita, the haredi market only accounted for about 6-7% of the market for agricultural goods, the demand has grown so that today they represent about 17% of the market, translating into a loss for farmers of about NIS 700m.

However, the head of shmita year kosher supervision for the Edah Haredit denied his organization, which is the single largest kosher supervision apparatus catering to the haredi population, has any interest in monopolizing non haredi markets.

"We are focusing solely on predominantly haredi areas such as the haredi neighborhoods in Ashdod, Beit Shemesh, Modi'in Ilit, Beiter Ilit and Safed."

The Edah Haredit source admitted, though, that his competitor, Efrati's Kashrut Le'mehadrin, was pursuing an aggressive campaign to expand his organization's influence beyond the haredi sphere.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Orthodating gone meshuga?


The whole situation of division of the sexes in ways never even imagined by our parents and grandparents is a big problem. Even when the young men and women get together, they don't know how to talk to one another because they have NEVER been around a person of the opposite gender who wasn't related to them.

One who adds to Torah subtracts. In this case, they are subtracting far too many opportunities for successful Jewish marriages. There is no reason to sit apart unless the men are praying. Can we PLEASE get our young people together??? This whole thing is completely ridiculous!

Aug 29, 2007 20:46 | Updated Aug 29, 2007 20:46

'Rather than being selective about a potential spouse's values, ambitions and character," says EndTheMadness founder Chananya Weissman, "a growing number [of observant singles] are focused on things like what high school the person went to, or what the parents or siblings do for a living. This is not content that has any basis in terms of starting a marriage."

As a result, he claims, fewer and fewer are finding mates, and more and more are divorcing the ones they have.

This state of affairs has been a source of worry to Weissman - a 29-year-old unmarried rabbi and owner of an eBay company - who established his non-profit organization nearly five years ago to combat it.

At fault, he argues, are several factors converging simultaneously. One is a shift on the part of the younger generation toward more stringency where rituals such as modesty are concerned - which makes "normal" meeting opportunities between boys and girls scarce. Another, a byproduct of the first, is the increasing reliance on matchmakers. This wouldn't be so bad, says Weissman - a resident of New York, where the bulk of his organization's activities take place - if pairing up people for blind dates involved substantive considerations, rather than superficial ones.

In an hour-long interview in Jerusalem (where, earlier this month, EndTheMadness sponsored a two-part discussion series, in conjunction with Habe'er and Congregation Beit Yosef, on the challenges facing the Orthodox dating scene), Weissman urges people to get to know themselves before seeking a significant other. He also bemoans what he believes is a lack of faith in God in the realm of spouse-searching. "If we date in an ethical and healthy way," Weissman assures, "He will guide us through the process, just as He does in every other aspect of our lives."

Why "EndTheMadness"? What's the madness you're referring to?

It's the insanity that's taken over the Orthodox dating world. It's a corruption of Jewish values; a change of attitudes from the days when our parents and grandparents were dating. Today, many otherwise intelligent and reasonable people go about their search for a spouse in an abnormal way.

What do you mean?

Our parents and grandparents could meet socially in many different ways, even within the framework of Jewish law. They would meet in the synagogue, in school, in summer camp, at political rallies, wedding meals - perfectly normal and natural places for people to meet. Nowadays, a lot of those avenues have been closed off for singles.


Ostensibly because of modesty and Jewish law, but the pendulum has swung a bit too far. The price that's paid is that singles aren't meeting and getting married.

Are you saying that the younger generation is more frum [observant] than their parents?

Ostensibly, but this extreme behavior isn't really frum. There are rabbis married today who met their wives at social functions back then - so it was perfectly normal in the framework of Jewish law. But today it's being interpreted differently, which is why singles are not having the same opportunities to meet.

How did this happen?

What often happens in New York City, where I grew up, is that kids from Orthodox families might even attend a co-ed school for 17 years, and then they go to Israel for six months or a year and sort of "frum out" and change their whole value system.

Why Israel, of all places - which has the reputation of being not observant enough?

Many kids from Orthodox homes go to very sheltered yeshivas, where the influence of the rabbis is very strong. And while they're learning Torah, which is good for them, sometimes they simultaneously undo all the perfectly good values their parents have taught them. Young kids are very impressionable, and it's not healthy for them to be abandoning everything that they've been taught for the first 17 years of their lives in a short time span.

Do the parents of such kids generally disapprove when their kids go to Israel and transform? Or are they relieved that their daughters are staying away from boys?

A lot of them are torn. On the one hand, they see their children coming closer to their Judaism, and they're very proud of it. On the other hand, they might have issues with some of the changes they see in their kids. This is a very difficult situation, because there's a lot of social pressure on these kids, many of whom simply follow a path of Judaism that is expected of them, as opposed to one that's based on learning and research. And that's how they're making choices.

What kind of pressure is being exerted on them in relation to choosing a potential spouse?

One thing girls are often told when they're in Israel is that they should only look for a boy who's planning on learning Torah for the rest of his life. Some of these girls might have grown up in homes in which it was normal for both the husband and the wife to have gone to college and work for a living, and now they're being told to completely change their value system - to marry somebody with no plans of ever going to college or getting a job. Obviously, that lifestyle would be very different for them. That's one example of a radical change the girls are being pressured into.

Pressured by whom?

By their teachers in Israel and by their social circle. They see what their friends are doing, and they feel pressure to do the same things. For example, the girls will see their friends going out on dates and getting married, and they'll feel pressured to get married as well, even though they might not be ready for it. There's not a certain age at which people are ready to get married; it's a certain stage in life and growth. Some people are ready at 18 and some are not ready until they're in their 30s. But seeing your friends get married is not a very good reason for doing it.

What you're saying could be construed as contradictory. On the one hand, you're saying that Orthodox singles are finding it hard to meet and marry; on the other hand, you're saying they're liable to get married too quickly because they see all their friends doing it.

It's both. Because they have fewer opportunities to mingle, these people are relying more on shadchanim [matchmakers]. The shadchanim begin by nitpicking on the details of what constitutes a good match, and the singles themselves nitpick along with them. Now, if you are going to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you certainly should be picky. However, singles today are being picky about the wrong sorts of things. Rather than being selective about a potential spouse's values, ambitions and character, a growing number are focused on things like what high school the person went to, or what the parents or siblings do for a living - not content that has any basis in terms of starting a marriage with somebody. When a single chooses not even to go out with somebody on a first date based on such things, it's a big problem.

You make it sound as though this phenomenon only occurs in the Orthodox community. In fact, it's something you could say about all singles.

It's not necessarily restricted to the Orthodox. But I'm an Orthodox Jew, and these are the people I associate with most closely. And I see it happening a lot more than it used to.

What do you mean by "Orthodox"?

I'm using the term in a general sense. In fact, I'm actually starting a campaign to get rid of all the labels, since labeling is part of the problem. If a matchmaker asks a person what he's looking for in a potential spouse, and the person says, "I'm looking for someone modern Orthodox," what does that mean, really? It can mean 10 different things to 10 different people. I was once screening people for one of the Shabbat retreats we ran, and I asked participants to tell me a little bit about themselves, for the purpose of matching them up with hosts and meals, etc. Some gave me very thoughtful answers - about their personalities, their goals in life, different challenges they face, different qualities they're proud to have - indicating that they really know who they are, and the kind of person they would be happy with. Others gave me short answers like, "I'm modern Orthodox," to which I replied, "Excuse me, I've never heard that term before. Can you tell me what it means?"

One girl explained that it means she watches movies. So I said, "OK, why don't you just tell me you watch movies, then?"

When I probed a little deeper, people would really struggle. They got frustrated and upset, and couldn't really tell me anything. I actually advised some of them to go out on a date with themselves for a few hours and do some hard thinking about who they really are. If you don't know who you are, you don't have a very good chance of finding somebody who's right for you.

Suspicion: Peres Paid for Arab Vote w/ Leniency to Arab Killers


Well, this makes sense. The corruption continues . . .

You know, I was just talking to my mother about Israel and how it is so sad that we, the Jewish people, the light among the nations, have to be led by such corrupt leaders. I know there is an accounting at the end, but I wish we wouldn’t let them have a free hand at the wholesale destruction of our traditions, our people, and our land in the meantime.

What is wrong with the MKs? Why do they let these things continue??? I guess the corruption is so wide and so deep and so much a part of their everyday lives, that they are like fish in water—they only notice when it is missing, and they will suffocate for the lack of it.

In my book, a leader who would sacrifice justice in order to buy some votes from those who have pledged their hatred and destruction of our lives, our land, and our tradition is the worst kind of treasonous villain.

But, men are responsible for the sins against men, and G-d is responsible for the sins against G-d. While Peres and the lot of them are here, we should deal with him as he should be dealt with—with the justice that he is so lacking in.

by Hillel Fendel

( Hevron activists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir have asked Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to investigate the motives behind President Shimon Peres's decision to reduce the prison sentences of five Arab murderers.

Peres announced his decision Tuesday to quantify the sentences of five Israeli-Arabs from the north who brutally murdered 12-year-old Danny Katz of Haifa in 1983. The five were twice convicted of the murders, after then-Chief Justice Aharon Barak ordered a second trial in 1999 - against the opinions of two lower courts, ex-Chief Justice Meir Shamgar, and the police.

The murderers were sentenced to life in prison, which at the time was equal to a 24-year prison term; however, the sentencing judge added on another 27 years in order to prevent them from being granted parole.

Peres has now circumvented this caveat, ordering the sentences of two of them to stand at 45 years, and 30 years for the other three. They become eligible after serving two-thirds of their terms, such that the three are liable to be freed any day. The other two, who were also convicted of murdering female Israeli soldier Daphna Carmon in 1987, will be eligible for parole in 2015.

Ben-Gvir and Marzel have sent an urgent letter to the Attorney General and to State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss asking that they investigate the President's motives in reducing the sentences.

"There is a genuine suspicion that Peres made this decision in exchange for the votes of Arab MKs during the Knesset's Presidential election earlier this summer," Marzel and Ben-Gvir explained. They also threatened to file an appeal with the Supreme Court if their letter is ignored.

Peres, aware of the outburst of public opposition to his decision, has tried to explain himself. "I can understand the pain and outcry of the Katz family," Peres said, "whose son Danny was murdered by evil men." However, he said, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and a judicial committee agreed that the sentences could be commuted.

Peres explained why he, Friedmann and the committee agreed on punishments - 45 and 30 years - that were much higher than the customary life sentence at the time they were tried, which was 24 years. He said this was because of the severity of the crime. The bottom line, however, is that two of them are already eligible for parole.

Danny Katz's body was discovered in a cave near the Arab village of Sakhnin four days after he disappeared from the vicinity of his home. He had been strangled and Sodomized.