Sunday, August 31, 2008



Our eternal city is about to be carved up to satisfy the hunger of terrorist arabs who have no historic claim to her.

And what do we do? We sit on our hands? We wait for the destruction of Jerusalem, Israel, ourselves with calmness, with the impending doom of acceptance?

Why am I sitting here? Why are you sitting there? What are we doing? Are we not supposed to put Jerusalem above our highest joy??

Confirmed: Jerusalem is on negotiating table
After months of denials, Israel admits 'mechanism' for 'dealing with holy city'
Posted: August 31, 2008
1:35 pm Eastern
By Aaron Klein
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

JERUSALEM – After months of denials the status of Jerusalem is on the table during negotiations, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office today confirmed to WND that a mechanism has been created to deal with the issue of the holy city in U.S.-backed Israeli-Palestinian talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state by the end of the year.

"Of all the final status core issues, the issue of Jerusalem is probably the most difficult and unlike some of the other issues, we have yet to start negotiating the future of Jerusalem. Therefore in order to not let the process fall victim to its weakest link, we have the establishment of an agreed upon mechanism that would continue to deal with Jerusalem. That mechanism was created in such a way that it would address the concern of both sides," Mark Regev, Olmert's spokesman, told WND.

Regev would not detail which mechanism had purportedly been created to discuss Jerusalem.

(Story continues below)

According to senior Israeli and Palestinian diplomatic sources, both sides are already negotiating Jerusalem, with Palestinian officials claiming the talks are in advance stages.

Regev commented amid news media reports here today stating Olmert presented Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with a plan for international parties to contribute proposals on how both sides should negotiate the status of Jerusalem. Olmert and Abbas met for a round of advanced talks today.

According to Olmert's proposal, a five-year timetable will be set out for completing a settlement on Jerusalem.

Regev would neither confirm nor deny the reports, which state Olmert's plan is for Jerusalem talks to be held under an international umbrella, where governments and other interested parties, including the Vatican, will be able to contribute their views.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported the proposed Jerusalem negotiations will be held directly between Israel and the Palestinians, and international parties will provide suggestions but would not be able to impose their views on a solution.

Haaretz reported Olmert was planning to include in the negotiations members of the Mideast Quartet – the U.N., U.S., EU and Russia – as well as Jordan, Egypt, the Vatican and possibly the king of Morocco.

According to Palestinian sources directly involved in the negotiations, the reference to "international proposals" is specific to a U.S. plan – first reported last week by WND – that has been floated amongst the parties to deal with dividing Jerusalem in five years.

According to informed Israeli and Palestinian sources, officials from the State Department this year presented both negotiating sides with several proposals for consideration regarding the future status of Jerusalem. It was unclear whether the U.S. proposals were accepted.

One U.S. plan for Jerusalem obtained by WND was divided into timed phases, and among other things called for Israel eventually to consider forfeiting parts of the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site.

According to the first stage of the U.S. proposal, Israel would initially give the PA some municipal and security sovereignty over key Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem. The PA would be allowed to open some official institutions in Jerusalem, could elect a mayor for the Palestinian side of the city and would deploy some kind of so-called basic security force to maintain law and order. The specifics of the force were not detailed in the plan.

The initial stage also calls for the PA to operate Jerusalem municipal institutions, such as offices to oversee trash collection and maintenance of roads.

After five years, if both sides keep specific commitments called for in a larger principal agreement, according to the U.S. plan the PA would be given full sovereignty over agreed upon eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods and discussions would be held regarding an arrangement for the Temple Mount. The plan doesn't specify which parts of the Temple Mount could be forfeited to the Palestinians or whether an international force may be involved.

The PA also could deploy official security forces in Jerusalem separate from a non-defined basic force after the five year period and could also open major governmental institutions, such as a president's office, and offices for the finance and foreign ministries.

The U.S. plan leaves Israel and the PA to negotiate which Jerusalem neighborhoods would become Palestinian.

Standing alongside Abbas at a press conference, Olmert today announced in English that "We have to complete the Annapolis process this year – this year."

The Israeli leader was referring to talks started at last November's U.S.-backed Annapolis conference, which seeks to create a Palestinian state – at least on paper – before President Bush leaves office in January.

According to top diplomatic sources, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who visited the region last week, pressed Israel to sign a document by the end of the year that would include Jerusalem by offering the Palestinians a state in Israel's capital city as well as in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Israeli team would rather conclude an agreement on paper by the end of the year that would give the Palestinians a state in the West Bank, Gaza and some Israeli territory, leaving conclusions on Jerusalem for a later date, the informed diplomatic sources told WND.

The sources said the Palestinian team has been pushing to conclude a deal by January on all core issues, including Jerusalem, and has been petitioning the U.S. to pressure Israel into signing an agreement on paper that offers the Palestinians eastern Jerusalem.

Rice, the sources said, has asked Israeli leaders to bend to what the U.S. refers to as a "compromise position," concluding an Israeli-Palestinian agreement by the end of the year that guarantees sections of Jerusalem to the Palestinians. But Israel would not be required to withdraw from Jerusalem for a period of one to five years.

While Serial Sex Predator Stalks Borough Park, Religious Families Refuse to Cooperate Because of Lashon Hara


Yes, it is the evil tongue which is keeping a sex predator free from the grasp of authorities in Borough Park.

First he snatched an innocent four-year-old girl and sexually molested her. At that time, the family did what was right and reported the attack to the authorities. The authorities kept their mouth shut about who the victim was, but that didn't stop the community from blabbing. Oh no!

The community knew who it was right away, and it was more important to talk about the attack than it was to save a little girl's reputation. Now the poor little girl will be victimized over and over and over again in her life by the evil of gossip.

Now, a fourteen year old girl has been attacked, but the family has stopped cooperating. They won't let their daughter come under the same evil attacks in the community as the poor four-year-old victim. They want to protect their daughter from the community so that she can have a normal life and won't be victimized further by the evil tongues of others.

I can't blame them for that.

We don't know how many victims there are, where the attacks may have occured, or whether the girls are getting any help. We can't. Why? The families are afraid of being talked about. They are afraid of the evil tongue.

The shame that these girls are facing is unwarranted. The shame is upon anyone who would speak, text, write, listen to, read, or take part in any communication which would harm these innocent victims of an evil predator.

The evil predator is alive, well, and ready to prey on more little girls because the authorities can't get any help. The authorities can't get any help because of the evil tongues wagging away in the community.

Is your need for gossip stronger than your need to protect these innocent girls and other innocent girls in the community from this horrible sexual predator?

When you gossip, you make the next victim unlikely to come forward. When you gossip, you allow the next victim to be attacked. When you gossip, you allow the predator to continue harming our innocent girls.

Unless you know something constructive and helpful to the investigation, keep your mouth shut so that the victims can have privacy, honor, and justice.

If you do know something constructive and helpful, speak it to the authorities only. Did you hear something? Do you suspect someone in particular? If you do, speak only to the authorities--no one else. Tell them what you suspect and why and let them figure it out from there. If it is a false lead, let them determine that.

We need to get this guy.

If you don't know anything constructive or helpful, back off and let justice prevail. This isn't some soap opera. This isn't some tantalizing tale. This is a tragedy brought about by a combination of an evil person's actions and the evil of gossip.

Let the victims report the crime, get help, and live normal lives beyond that. Anyone who tries to talk to you about it should be warned in the sternest way possible that all constructive and helpful information should be given to the police and only the police and nothing else should be discussed.

Stop someone who tries to spread gossip and say, "Please do not speak of this ever. You are harming the girls, you are harming our community, and you are harming yourself."

For more information about correct speech, click here.

Posted: 4:35 am
August 31, 2008

Detectives fear a serial sex predator is stalking Borough Park, and are frustrated by the lack of cooperation they're getting from one victim's family, The Post has learned.

The Hasidic family of a 14-year-old girl sexually assaulted on Aug. 3 is not helping detectives hunting her attacker, according to a police source familiar with the investigation.

"The detectives have hit a stone wall right now," the source said. "Beyond a basic interview, they are not getting any cooperation."

The family appears concerned about the girl's identity getting out, which would greatly limit her chances of eventually getting married within the tight-knit religious culture, community leaders and neighbors said last week.

Based on DNA evidence, police have connected the attack to the predator who snatched a 4-year-old Hasidic girl on July 16, 2007.

Detectives suspect that the fiend is a serial sex attacker, and that other victims may not have come forward, according to the police source.

"Serial rapists by definition don't stop at one or two," the insider said.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents the area, acknowledged the sociological hurdles the police are facing.

"Unfortunately, the shame and all these other concerns come in the picture," he told The Post. "But this is something that we have to overcome in our communities.

"Sometimes these concerns, real or perceived, overpower the need to protect the community from evil criminal individuals. For someone not to cooperate verges on a violation of law."

The police were careful not to identify the 4-year-old victim last summer, but many in the close Hasidic community quickly found out.

"Everybody knew everything about everything," one neighbor said last week. "There were text messages sent out with the exact location."

After both assaults, the NYPD quickly parked a mobile command unit in the area and added foot patrols.

Over the past several weeks, the department has also positioned sporadic roadblocks near where the girls were snatched and found.

Stop the Destruction of Israel!


Below is an urgent action alert from Women in Green concerning the secret agreement being formed between the lame-duck US President and the all-but-cooked goose government of Ehud Olmert.

We need to stop this ridiculous "Peace" agreement which will destroy Israel.

Unity Coalition for Israel


Momentous negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are taking place virtually unnoticed while we are preoccupied with United States elections.

A lame duck United States administration, very low in popularity polls, and an Israeli Prime Minister leaving office under a cloud of suspicion for corruption should not be making far-reaching Middle East policy decisions that will bind the next heads of State. Almost unnoticed by the media, the map of Israel is being dramatically altered.
The State Department with steady pressure from Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is overseeing the demise of Israel. Twenty-two Arab countries are pushing for yet another Arab state to be carved out of the one and only tiny State of Israel. This is a recipe for Israeli self-destruction. Under the cover of U.S. presidential convention hoopla, Israel's future is quietly and surreptitiously being determined.

Please take a few minutes to send this important Urgent Action Alert to Prime Minister Olmert and the Knesset Members.

Copies will also be sent to President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Rice, and the White House Jewish desk.

Rice Visit: PA State Closer than Ever
Hillel Fendel
August 26, 2008

( Negotiations between Israel and PA continue at a "crazy" pace, agreement on dividing Jerusalem is "closer than ever," and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is pushing for a nearly-complete agreement on a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria by January. So reports Aaron Klein of WorldNetDaily (WND).

Secretary Rice, completing a visit to the region today (Tuesday), has been pressing Israel to sign a document by the end of the year that would divide Jerusalem. Rice says Israel must agree to a Palestinian state capital in Jerusalem - Israel`s own capital - and a full Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Despite official Israeli government denials, Jerusalem is thus very much on the negotiating table. The Shas Party, which has said it would quit the government if Jerusalem were to be negotiated, remains firmly in the government coalition.

The Rice Compromise: Israel Remains in Jerusalem for 1-5 Years
Klein quotes top diplomatic sources involved in the talks as saying that Rice has been pushing for a "compromise" between Israel and the PA that would involve Israel`s withdrawal from eastern Jerusalem, including the Old City, within one to five years.

The Israeli team, led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, is willing to conclude an agreement on a Palestinian state by the end of the year, but wants to leave talks to decide the fate of Jerusalem for a later date. The PA team, however, wants a deal by January on all core issues, including the Holy City.

The Rice compromise, the sources told WND, asks Israeli leaders to bend and agree to promise sections of Jerusalem to the PA - but not to actually withdraw before one to five years have passed. U.S. President George W. Bush would then, just days before his term in office ends, issue an official letter guaranteeing U.S. support for the agreement.

High Intensity Talks
WND`s Klein quoted an unnamed Palestinian Authority negotiator saying that the intensity and frequency of Israeli-Palestinian talks in recent weeks have been "crazy," and that the sides have been meeting on a daily basis, usually at the highest levels. The negotiator further said Jerusalem is being discussed by both sides, and that the two teams are "closer than ever" on coming to an agreement on the status of the city. "This claim was verified to WND by other diplomatic sources involved in the negotiations," Klein wrote.

Reports of the past few months say that the Olmert-Livni negotiators are prepared to give up well over 90% of Judea and Samaria, as well as land for a "safe passage" between those areas and Gaza. This, despite the results of the withdrawal from Gaza three years ago, which include the takeover of the area by Hamas and incessant rocket attacks on nearby Israeli areas.

To Participate in the Action Alert, click on the link below to view the letter. You may use the letter as is or change anyway you like.

ACTION ALERT - Stop Secret Agreement

Women For Israel's Tomorrow (Women in Green)
POB 7352, Jerusalem 91072, Israel
Tel: 972-2-624-9887 Fax: 972-2-624-5380

To subscribe to the Women in Green list,
please send a blank email message to:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

It's About Time Our Rabbis Announced That Chabadism is not Judaism


No wonder the messianic Chabad flag is yellow:

The yellow flag

The solid yellow flag, or caution flag, universally requires drivers to slow down due to a hazard on the track.

The flag is a caution flag--one that warns others that the derech may be blocked.

This story is the "yellow flag" that should get us wondering whether or not we should consider giving support, respect, or even recognition to Chabad. It has become something outside the relm of Judaism and, I believe, a new type of xtian sect.

Over time, it has been the messianist zeal of strange streams of so-called Jews that have represented some of the most painful chapters in the history of Judaism.

Our scholars and rabbis need to take a stand on these people and say it like it is: they are no longer practicing Judaism, they are praticing a religion know as "Chabadism."

If one converts via Chabad, they shouldn't be considered Jews.

If they practice Chabadism, they should be regarded the same as those Jews who have become Catholic or Buddist or any other religion--they are still Jews, but they must make teshuva.

I know this is a hard decision to make, especially considering the fact that Chabad has become such a financial powerhouse--funding schools, shuls, mikvot, and community activities--but it must be done.

Right now, secular Jews who have a lot of money aren't giving it to legitimate Jewish institutions, they are giving it to Chabad because they don't know any better.

We must teach them. We must reach them. We must make sure that there is a clear distinction between what Chabad is doing and what Jews should do before we lose millions of Jews to a new religion.

By the time we see the red flag, it will be too late.


The Crown Heights Lubavitchers
Ecstatic Jews, a messiah proclaimed, and the consequential divisions
By Elizabeth Dwoskin

Like many other young men in Crown Heights, Itzik Balulu studies the Talmud and other Jewish texts from early in the morning to well into the night.

But you should see his ride. When he's not ensconced in 770 Eastern Parkway, the center of the Chabad-Lubavitch universe, the 26-year-old Israeli and his crew drive around in a blinged-out Cadillac, a regular kandy-kolored streamline baby. Oy vey.

The Caddy, which they bought a few years ago, is bright yellow and covered with enormous decals featuring a "King Messiah" crown and a picture of the messiah himself: Rebbe Menachem M. Schneerson. A dollar bill is attached to the upper right corner of the windshield—a symbol of the rebbe's practice of handing out dollar bills to his visitors to give to charity.

Among Lubavitchers, the rebbe is more than revered. Officially, he died 14 years ago. But to many Lubavitchers, dead he's not, and the messiah—not just for Jews, but the entire planet—he most certainly is.

When they aren't studying, the yeshiva boys doggedly tool around the city and install yellow flags in homes and businesses. The flags look a lot like the images on the car: a crown and the words "Long Live the King Messiah Forever and Ever." Balulu installed seven last week and just ordered a thousand more from a factory in China. He plans to go to India next year: The rebbe, he says, has advised him to be a Chabad emissary.

For now, Balulu goes to Union Square every Friday afternoon to hand out Chabad materials and to "bar-mitzvah" non-observant Jews. He and the boys usually set up shop beside an Amish cheese vendor at the weekly farmers' market. They tend to get into friendly discussions with passersby, like a recent confab they had with a teenage Korean Christian missionary and the Pennsylvania Amish vendor over the meaning of Orthodox Judaism. Their target, however, is secular Jews. From behind their table festooned with (what else?) yellow flags, the boys ask Jews to pray with them—specifically to repeat, word for word, a prayer referred to as the Yechi chant, which identifies the rebbe as the messiah. Yes, the Messiah.

Schneerson's the reason you see dark-suited young men like Balulu in Union Square every Friday calling to passersby and asking: "Are you Jewish?"—and also the reason there are Chabad houses in Laos and Bangkok and South Africa.

The nerve center, however, remains 770 Eastern Parkway, which has such cachet because it was the home and synagogue of Schneerson, the Chabad-Lubavitch's head rabbi from 1950 until his death in 1994. He is credited with turning a demoralized group of Lubavitch Jews that had moved to Brooklyn in the wake of World War II into a multimillion-dollar global empire that spans more than 70 countries, boasts hundreds of thousands of devotees, and has established beachheads on more than 100 American college campuses.

You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in Crown Heights who could point to a single character flaw that the rebbe possessed—or still possesses, because people like Sara Kanevsky insist that he never died.

Kanevsky's is a world of constant miracles. Pictures of the rebbe plaster the walls of her third-floor apartment. Every night, she and her friends put on a trance CD of traditional Yiddish hymns set to techno music, and they dance for hours. They take belly-dancing classes that can start at midnight. Her cell-phone ringtone plays the Hebrew messianic slogan Yechi ha Melech, which roughly translates as "Long Live the King Messiah Forever and Ever." She answers the phone with these same words.

Not all Lubavitchers have gotten the message. Even as Chabad has grown into a billion-dollar empire in the wake of the rebbe's death, the battle lines between those who accept Schneerson's demise and those who don't have hardened.

Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a spokesman for Chabad, describes the behavior of people like Kanevsky as "more painful than words"—an abuse of the rebbe's message. For some Jews within and outside Chabad, messianism, with its prophecy of a sort of second coming, smacks too much of Christianity. Others say it violates the monotheistic religion's prohibitions against idolatry. And some think it cultish or just too simplistic—a caricature of Jewish teachings.

"At the end of the day, running around saying, 'My guy is the messiah' over and over—it's an echo chamber," says Shmotkin, a 39-year-old rabbi. "And what the rebbe was creating was the opposite of an echo chamber."

Meanwhile, the conflict continues to reverberate. In Crown Heights, messianists and non-messianists pray in separate synagogues, listen to different radio programs, and study in separate houses of learning. Many messianists wear yellow lapel pins adorned with crowns and erect matching yellow flags on the façades of their homes. The two groups do not intermarry.

In a way, Kanevsky herself is a cornerstone of the controversy. A court battle between the two camps is connected to Kanevsky's arrest for doggedly hanging onto the cornerstone of 770 Eastern Parkway during a contretemps outside the building in 2004: The Chabad leadership had obtained a restraining order against the messianists after they defaced the stone. That case is still on appeal.

Meanwhile, the fight continues to play out right inside the building. Chabad, the empire, has its headquarters on the third floor, and it's at war with many of the people who pray and study in the synagogue below.

Last December, as a part of the same court battle, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled that the owners of the building had the right to remove a banner that the messianists had placed over the Torah ark in the downstairs synagogue. The banner, proclaiming the rebbe "King Messiah Forever and Ever," had been put up by four messianist trustees who were elected to run the synagogue. Naturally enough, they're appealing the judge's ruling.

There are two things that most Lubavitchers agree on: Crown Heights is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and for the messianists, 770 is the holy nerve center. Some consider the building to be the resurrection of the Great Temple, destroyed in Jerusalem in 70 CE. Young people incorporate 770 into their e-mail addresses; older folks try to buy houses with that auspicious number and have built exact replicas of the Neo-Gothic building, which once housed a medical clinic, in places as far-flung as Argentina and Brazil.

Portraits of the rebbe and his wife are fixtures in just about every home. Schneerson was a powerful figure who received heads of state and advised multimillionaire financiers, and his followers cherish their memories of him, even at a house next to his (ostensible) Long Island grave, where the video Encounters With the Rebbe plays on a continuous loop.

Now about that grave: Unlike the thousands of other Lubavitchers, Sara Kanevsky has never paid a visit. She doesn't know who or what is in the grave, but she's certain it's not the rebbe. On the anniversary of his death this past July, while more than 50,000 people waited on a four-hour line outside the cemetery, midnight buses rolled in from Canada, and Israelis camped out for the weekend in the Chabad house next-door, Kanevsky went to 770 to celebrate.

Kanevsky does a lot of celebrating when others are mourning. She says that in the time of redemption, all rules are reversed. Two years ago, she walked around eating ice cream in 770 on a fast day, which led to her being kicked out. And on the most recent fast day this summer, she talked with some Chabad members in Florida who were enjoying a spaghetti dinner. Kanevsky has even written a book in four languages on the new rules.

She acknowledges that to some people in Crown Heights, she appears to be a nut. But even that, she says, is part of the program. "The rebbe says you have to be crazy about moshiach," she says, using the Hebrew word for "messiah." "Miracles are crazy."

Those lubavitchers who believe that Schneerson is the messiah became more vocal about it after the rebbe suffered a debilitating stroke in 1992.

In the preceding year, Schneerson himself had begun to tell his followers that the redemption was imminent. He urged them to do everything in their power to bring it about.

Though he never referred to himself directly as the messiah (the rebbe rarely spoke about himself), some people began to see it that way. At religious gatherings, hundreds of people shouted the Yechi chant. It's unclear what the rebbe thought of these outcries. Messianists say he shook his fist in support; confidantes claim that he was pained by the sight of it; and still others aren't sure whether, after the stroke, the rebbe was able to understand the implications of what was happening before his eyes.

No one really knows how many Lubavitchers believe that Schneerson is the messiah. It's been a mostly futile effort trying to quantify them, though some have tried methods like counting yellow flags. This is partly due to the gradations of belief among the messianists: While many believe that the rebbe's death was an illusion, there are some who accept it but are convinced that he will one day be resurrected; others who believe deeply that he is the messiah but don't publicize it, preferring to keep the whole thing a matter of the heart; and still others who aren't 100 percent sure either way but are afraid to really talk about it, since it has become such a contentious matter. And then there are those, like Kanevsky and Balulu, who proclaim their faith to everyone they meet.

A youthful, 40-year-old mother of seven, Kanevsky and her friends live their lives in a state of near-ecstasy. And while fervor and joyousness are central to all forms of Hasidic Judaism, the messianists' exuberance is unusual.

The crown lies easy upon their heads. In fact, as Kanevsky stands before a cluster of five women sitting on benches in 770, she's wearing not only a form-fitting black skirt and a long-haired wig, but also a necklace with a golden crown attached to it—the symbol of the King Messiah. The jewel-studded crown is larger than her palm. She has two cell phones pressed to her ears. Another cell phone and an iPod rest on the bench in front of her. The devices are recording her daily three-hour radio address and workshop, the topic of which is the redemption. The address is being broadcast live over the Internet. A blown-up portrait of the rebbe has been placed on a bench behind them.

The women pass around grapefruits, figs, and homemade baked tilapia in a large aluminum catering tray. "We call this the fish of the redemption," says regular attendee Devorah Leah Blau as she fills her plate (a friend is rocking Blau's baby).

Kanevsky is largely self-taught, but when she has a question of any significance, she says she consults the rebbe. Like Balulu and others, she does this by either placing a note or asking a question aloud in front of a stack of books containing his collected letters. Then she turns to a page at random and finds that the rebbe has left an answer there. Last week, for example, she wondered in a dream whether her friend Ruth would become a millionaire. When she opened the book, she says, the date of her friend's birthday was on the page—a sign that the rebbe was listening.

After Kanevsky's class ends, she stashes the rebbe's photo behind a bookcase in the women's section. "Did I tell you about the time I got arrested?" she asks. Then she bolts out the door and onto the promenade, which is elevated about 10 feet above the sidewalk. She looks over a stairwell and points down below, to a cornerstone in the façade of the building. In 2002, the Chabad leadership placed a plaque engraved with the words "of blessed memory" beside the cornerstone in honor of Schneerson. The messianists, resenting the implication that Schneerson was no longer alive, vandalized the plaque and put their own in its place. Multiple riots erupted in front of 770, and the police put up barriers and surrounded the plaque.

During one pf the uprisings, Kanevsky saw the commotion and decided to leap from the promenade. But wearing high heels, she fell, and people thought she had broken her ankle. Then she got up and ran to the cornerstone. Her friend Ruth jumped in after her. The women held onto the stone until the police pulled them away.

Zalman Shmotkin acknowledges that Jewish law allows for a great wise figure in every generation, but he's not convinced that Schneerson should be considered the king messiah of them all. Shmotkin, who has an office on the third floor of 770, says he never prays in the building's synagogue. One of his deepest fears is that people will see messianism as the face of Chabad, and that this will alienate them from the rebbe's teachings. "It's so not what we're about," he says.

"It violates common sense and makes the movement seem insane," says David Berger, a historian and the author of The Rebbe, the Messiah, and the Scandal of Orthodox Indifference. "They think it turns people off to Hasidic teaching, and it's a sincere concern."

Berger, himself an observant Jew, says that while researching the book, he watched videos that were filmed at 770 after the rebbe's death. In one, people cleared a path across the synagogue to allow the invisible rebbe to walk to his chair. "When people tell me that the kind of scene I just described is crazy," he says, "I react by saying that there are millions of people in the world who are perfectly normal and intelligent people, who believe that the priest is holding a piece of bread and that this bread is the real presence of Jesus of Nazareth."

With the Lubavitchers as with Christians, messianic beliefs are nuanced, Berger says. He thinks that most Luba- vitchers, either secretly or openly, do believe that the rebbe is the messiah, but that only a small fraction believe he is still alive.

That contention has made Berger the target of severe attacks in the Lubavitch world. And though he staunchly opposes the movement, he says that there are strong theological underpinnings both to the messianism and even to the "seemingly crazy assertion" that the rebbe really didn't die.

"Judaism says that in every generation, there is a righteous person that connects the world to the divine energy," he explains. "If there is no leader, the world would actually cease to exist. So the fact that the rebbe has died and that the world continues to exist is a conundrum to them, and it leads them to believe that the rebbe must not have died. But even people who believe he did die find this to be a challenging question." They resolve it, he adds, by opining that we're living in strange times, or that the rebbe is still providing the divine connection from his grave.

Kanevsky finishes her class in the late afternoon. By that time, Crown Heights is a rush of preparations for Sabbath. She passes hat shops with old-world lettering on their façades, ancient gumball machines, and elderly women begging for some Sabbath charity on the sidewalk. Kanevsky gives each of the women a few dollars and walks into a glatt-kosher meat store. The store sells things like goulash and schnitzel, but Kanevsky is looking for a special kosher chicken.

The store appears to be out of stock. The clerk—who doesn't wear a yellow pin—says to Kanevsky, in Hebrew: "With your luck, Yechi ha Melech, you'll find the meat." She reaches into a pile and finds the last package for sale. Yet another miracle.

Kanevsky continues walking, buying flowers from an Israeli child. She stops in a Caribbean-owned dry cleaners to pick up a jacket and laments that she is out of the moshiach business cards that she normally carries around. Then she remembers that she gave them all out on the subway earlier in the day. As she passes a group of men, one of them calls out: "Moshiach!"

Kanevsky looks over her shoulder. "See? They believe it, too, but don't show it," she says, almost surprised that someone would keep the greatest thing in the world a secret. Then she smiles. "They know what I represent."

Vienna Preserves Remains of Destroyed Synagogue in Underground Museum


The sins of he Catholic Church have not been forgotten by generations of Jews, and they will probably never be forgiven. Reading about the forced conversions, expulsions, and burnings that took place still effect me on a very deep level.

I read about the small toy horse and rider, and I think about the last moments of a child's life, hiding in the community synagogue while it is burned down around him, screaming "Shema Ysrael!" at the top of his lungs to fight against the heat and the smoke.

I think of other children, carried away from their families, screaming, by priests and nuns and forced to submit to a foreign god. Stripped of their heritage, their hope, and their families, their lives were destroyed.

I think of mothers and fathers, wracked with pain, forced onto rudderless boats in chains and robbed of their greatest possession: their children.

This is a horror story, told in an underground bunker. I am not surprised that, on their way to remembering the Holocaust, Hashm has lead the people of Vienna to remember that it is only one of many.

Vienna's underground synagogue
Aug. 21, 2008

It happened in 1421 in Vienna. It had happened in 1182 in Paris, in 1290 in England and in 1348 in Strasbourg, then part of Germany. The Jews were forcibly converted, killed or expelled and their synagogue destroyed. In some cases they returned within a few years, but in England and Vienna not for hundreds of years. In Vienna the poorer Jews who refused to convert to Christianity were deprived of their meager property and foodstuff and set on rudderless boats on the Danube which floated them into Hungary, where it seems they managed to survive. But Vienna did not see them again for 200 years.

Why was the Viennese community brought to a sudden end in 1421? On the one hand it was the usual complaint of the severe indebtedness of the aristocracy to the few rich Jewish moneylenders; on the other, the large number of impoverished Jews who were considered to be a drain on the city. But in the case of Vienna, all the Jews, as well as others, were under the jurisdiction and protection of Duke Albrecht V, so he could not lose face by expelling them, as he had been asked to do by the pope. A libel was then concocted, as elsewhere, that the Jews had desecrated the host, the symbol of the body of Christ, and so it became an ecclesiastical matter and outside the competence of the duke.

On May 23, 1420, at the behest of the Church, Duke Albrecht ordered the forcible conversion of the Jews. Those that had not converted or escaped or been sent off in the boats were burned at the stake on March 12, 1421, and their beautiful synagogue destroyed.

Centuries later, after the horrors of the Holocaust, the city of Vienna agreed to erect a memorial to the victims of the Nazi camps and in 1995 a design was selected for erection in the Judenplatz, the central area of medieval Jewry in Vienna. The chosen memorial was to be an empty stone-faced building with locked doors, designed by the British sculptress Rachel Whitehouse, to symbolize the locking out and destruction of Viennese Jewry by the Nazis. Luckily, before this rather anodyne memorial was erected, the city decided to send in its archeological team to dig down under the Judenplatz to see if there were any remains of its past. The result was sensational.

Less than three meters below ground level, the experts came across the stump walls and foundations of the medieval synagogue that had been destroyed in 1421. Its ground plan was clear and the archeologists could discern that it had stood over a period of 200 years, in three distinct phases. Nearby they went down even further and found that the whole area had been used to build wooden barracks in the second century for the Roman soldiers that had occupied the area, then called Vindobona.

To the credit of the city fathers, their experts were allowed to work for three years to make a meticulous record of the three phases of the synagogue and to preserve its remains within an underground annex to what was to become the Jewish Museum of medieval Vienna. What did this medieval synagogue look like? As usual with archeological digs, a certain amount of imagination is required, but here there were a large number of clues. The whole history of the terrible events of 1420/1 had been recorded in a Hebrew document called the Gezera of Vienna, which aimed to warn other cities of what the future might hold for them.

The Gezera is a contemporary document written in a heavily Jewish style, recording the great fortitude of the Jews that refused to convert and predicting the early defeat and demise of the duke. It is written with pride and authority and reflects the past importance of the community and its shul. This is confirmed by the archeological finds.

The earliest synagogue was a simple rectangular room and can be dated to around 1236, by the find of a coin, an Austrian penny of that date, on the surface of the plaster floor. The wall with the ark faced southeast, the direction of Jerusalem. There was a small entrance lobby to the north and a narrow women's annex to the south, with window-slits into the main chamber.

Some years later, when presumably the community had increased in number and wealth, the synagogue was largely rebuilt to double the size by increasing its length and setting two columns in the interior to change the simple room into a double vaulted nave with a central bima (reader's platform), rather like the famous Altneu Shul of Prague, which dates from 1270. It had a rectangular bima, while that of Vienna was clearly hexagonal, a unique feature. The hexagon was formed by slender Gothic columns and hung with oil lamps, remains of which were found in the debris alongside.

In the last phase of the synagogue, which dates to about 1350 or later, the double-barreled hall was again extended, the ark placed on a raised platform and pushed further east, and several side rooms added which were probably used for study and may even have housed a small yeshiva. The text of the Gezera suggests that one was active in Vienna in the later years of the community. This time the women's annex was also increased, which it had not been in the second phase.

Among finds in the debris of the destruction were a fine wooden comb (of the kind still used today to check for lice eggs), a large drinking beaker, the remains of a small toy horse and rider and a metal stylus, as used for writing on wax. The handle was in the shape of a young boy, and possibly these finds indicate the use of the rooms for a Hebrew school for youngsters. Another find was a medieval key, perhaps even the key used by the shamash (beadle) to lock up the synagogue.

Nine lead tokens, the size of large coins, were also found. They were embossed with formal designs, such as an eagle, a rosette and one with two kings holding a crown, and they are unique in Austria. Though not definitely of Jewish origin, it is tempting to see them as associated with the money-lending trade, and they may have counted as ersatz money for use among the Jewish merchants.

Today these remains are beautifully exhibited in the underground museum, which is regularly visited by non-Jewish schoolchildren to give them a flavor of early Jewish life in their capital.

After the destruction of 1421, it was not until 1624 that the Emperor Ferdinand II allowed the Jews to return and settle in Leopoldstadt, a suburb situated between two arms of the newly-regulated Danube, and by 1670 there were 137 dwellings there housing some 500 Jewish families.

But it was not until 200 years later, in 1825, that another synagogue was built in the main town, the first one to be erected there after the destroyed medieval one. It was designed by a non-Jewish architect, famous for his theaters, and built behind a residential façade, as required by the Catholic Church at that time. Thus it escaped the destruction of the November 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom that destroyed the 59 other Jewish prayer halls of Vienna. Nevertheless the interior was later ransacked by the Nazis, but has now been restored to its former theatrical glory.

The Stadttempel, as it is called, is the glory of modern-day Jewish Vienna, but even with its checkered life of 180 years, it cannot compare with the remains of the medieval synagogue of pre-1421, so beautifully displayed in the underground museum under the Judenplatz, which dates active Jewish life in the city back to some 800 years ago.

The writer is a fellow of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archeological Research in Jerusalem.

"I know! Let's Lock Up The Women!"--What were the Breslov Thinking???


Look, I really like the Breslover Hassidim. They have a really nice, joyful, clear-eyed attitude about Jewish worship, but sometimes even the best of us make a really serious error in judgement.

First, I have to say that some of this story just doesn't pass the "smell test." For example, Ynet saying that the new dress code for women was "Meah Shearim" standards. Hello! The dress code is hardly "
Meah Shearim standards" if it is, as Ynet reports, requiring long sleeves, a skirt, stockings and a head covering. That means, technically, I could go there dressed in a long-sleeved t-shirt, jean skirt with slits, pantyhose, and a baseball cap. Believe me, if I wore that in Meah Shearim I wouldn't be allowed in the synagogue. Pleeze.

If Ynet wants to report on this, they don't need to get into bashing the religious in whatever way they can. The story itself is very upsetting, without the added drama that Ynet tries to add on--especially if you have ever been to the synagogue in question.

Even on a winter's day, the women's section is hot, crowded (standing room only usually), with absolutely no ventilation. From the women's section you can hardly know what is going on on the Bimah anyway, let alone tell when the last prayer is coming on.

Imagine being stuck in a crowded elevator on a humid summer's day, and I think you might get an idea of what it must be like to be locked in that women's section for 15 minutes at the end of services so that the men can leave.

Yes, the street is congested, yes, everyone stands around there like so many sheep, and yes, people probably get pushed up against each other--but why is the answer to lock up the women? This is such a hillul Hashm! What are we, the Talliban??

How about respectfully suggesting that the men say an extra 20 minutes for study? Then, it becomes a Kiddush Hashm! Maybe all the men wouldn't stay, but it would limit the number who were leaving and relieve the congestion somewhat.

It would also give the women enough time to get home and get lunch on the table before their husband comes home while still staying until the last prayer is said. The way they are doing it now, the men stay to wait for their wives (out of respect), and the women have to walk out into a crowd of waiting men--which is probably more immodest than the original problem!

Women locked inside Breslov synagogue
New guidelines imposed by Safed's Breslov community determine women must leave Shabbat service before final prayer or they are locked inside gallery until men make their exit; women undecided as to whether rule is respectful or degrading,7340,L-3587545,00.html
Pnina Geffen
Published: 08.28.08, 07:22 / Israel Jewish Scene

Guests that have recently stayed in cabins in Safed owned by the city's Hasidic Breslov community were surprised to discover that a new list of guidelines was being imposed: Women had to dress according to Meah Shearim standards (meaning long sleeves, long skirt, stockings, and a head cover for married women).

But apparently this was not enough for the community to meet its own modesty requirements, and recently a new rule was implemented, requiring different exit times from the synagogue following Shabbat prayers.

According to the new rule, women must leave the synagogue before the 'Aleinu Leshabeach' prayer is recited, after which the women's gallery is locked for 15 minutes, during which the men make their exit. The women's gallery is then reopened to allow those who didn't make it out in time to leave.

The Breslov community's synagogue in Safed is a popular spot for Saturday services due to its old-world architecture and authentic Hasidic dances. It is owned by Rabbi Elazar Mordechai Koenig, whose father was a student of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov's closest pupil.

The decision to separate between women and men exiting the synagogue stems from Safed's structure, known for its narrow alleyways and streets. The synagogue opens onto one such street, forcing the people coming out after services to crowd together, and forcing the men to restrict the women's exit.

"In the beginning we thought someone had locked the women's gallery from outside by mistake, but as time went on we realized we had been locked in purposefully, without being informed," said Noa, a guest who attended Shabbat services.

"It was horrible; dozens of women banging on the door trying to get out. In the men's gallery someone yelled to the manager 'the women have been locked in!' The men didn't know about it either, and many of them stood helplessly outside waiting for their wives."

Degrading or respectful?
Avital, resident of Safed and the wife of a yeshiva student, was also surprised. "We've been praying here for years, I'm pretty shocked. It's really degrading to lock up women like that," she said.

Maya, a member of the community, had a different opinion. "They're degraded that boys aren't crowding and pushing between them? This separation doesn't degrade me, just the opposite, it respects me. I can leave in peace a little before the end of prayers without all of the pushing outside," she explained.

Her husband Ofer agrees with her. "The Torah commands us to maintain holiness not just inside the home but also outside, in the public sphere," he claims. "It's true that it's not natural, but the Torah isn't natural, it wants to correct our nature and make us better people.

"Today urges have become natural, like you have to accept it unconditionally. I want to curb the urge rather than have it curb me. Today the situation is, urges are fine and the Torah is not." Regarding the lack of notification about the locking of the women's gallery Maya said a sign had been hung, "but perhaps they didn't see it."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dead Sea Scrolls to be available online


This raises an interesting question: If we are viewing the scrolls in High Res and we have the name of Hashm before us, are we permitted to close the window? Are we allowed to erase the file?

Aug 27, 2008 10:44 | Updated Aug 27, 2008 11:16

Israel will display the entire Dead Sea Scrolls on the Internet, The New York Times reported Wednesday. The scrolls are made up of thousands of fragments and digitally photographing all of them is a task of Herculean proportions.

The scientists working on the project, led by Simon Tanner, use high-powered cameras with resolution and clarity many times greater than those of conventional models, and also lights that emit neither heat nor ultraviolet rays.

They are also uncovering previously illegible sections and letters of the scrolls, and these discoveries might have significant scholarly impact.

The 2,000-year-old scrolls were found in the late 1940s in caves near the Dead Sea east of Jerusalem, and contain the earliest known copies of every book of the Hebrew Bible (missing only the Book of Esther), as well as apocryphal texts and descriptions of rituals of a Jewish sect at the time of Jesus. The texts, mostly inscribed on parchment but some on papyrus, date from the third century BCE to the first century CE.

Several of the scrolls which were found in bigger pieces are permanently displayed at the Israel Museum in its dimly lighted Shrine of the Book. Most of what was found is separated into 15,000 fragments that make up about 900 documents, fueling a longstanding debate on how to order the fragments as well as the origin and meaning of what is written on them.

After the scrolls were initially discovered they were tightly held by a small circle of scholars. In 2001 they were published in their entirety, but debate over them seems only to grow.

Scholars continually ask the Israel Antiquities Authority, the custodian of the scrolls, for access to them, and museums around the world seek to display them. Next month, the Jewish Museum of New York will begin an exhibition of six of the scrolls.

The keepers of the scrolls, people like Pnina Shor, head of the conservation department of the antiquities authority, are happy about the interest awarded the scrolls but say that each time a scroll is exposed to light, humidity and heat, it deteriorates. She says even without such exposure there is deterioration because of the ink used on some of the scrolls as well as the residue from the Scotch tape used by the 1950s scholars in piecing together fragments.

The entire collection was photographed only once in the past - in the 1950s using infrared - and those photographs are stored in a climate-controlled room because they show things already lost from some of the scrolls. The old infrared pictures will also be scanned in the new digital effort.

"The project began as a conservation necessity," Ms. Shor explained. "We wanted to monitor the deterioration of the scrolls and realized we needed to take precise photographs to watch the process. That's when we decided to do a comprehensive set of photos, both in color and infrared, to monitor selectively what is happening. We realized then that we could make the entire set of pictures available online to everyone, meaning that anyone will be able to see the scrolls in the kind of detail that no one has until now."

The process will probably take one to two years - more before it is available online - and is being led by Greg Bearman, who retired from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Data collection is directed by Simon Tanner of Kings College London.
Jonathan Ben-Dov, a professor of biblical studies at the University of Haifa, is taking part in the digitalization project. Watching the technicians gingerly move a fragment into place for a photograph, he said that it had long been very difficult for senior scholars to get access.

Once this project is completed, he said with wonder, "every undergraduate will be able to have a detailed look at them from numerous angles."

Is Our Most Important Religious Site is Too Holy for Us?


But we let arabs defile it daily with prayers directed to Mecca--their backsides facing the Holy of Holies, their bulldozers ripping out its insides, it's stones bulging from the weight of 10,000 muslims atop it--yet we are told we must stay away?

We must fight for our Holy Temple Mount. There is no mitzvah in grieving its loss, there is only a mitzvah in reclaiming it, rededicating it, rebuilding it.

I strongly believe that G-d helps those who help themselves. We need to show Hashm our dedication, our wish to have the Temple rebuilt--not just talk about it. I understand that our rabbis are locked in a great debate about whether it is proper to visit the Temple Mount without the ashes of the red heifer to purify ourselves, but meanwhile, our heritage is falling to ruin!

The reason the arabs are up there is because we haven't lived up to our obligation to put Jerusalem above our highest joy. We are too interested in whether we have the right kind of kippah, or whether we are wearing the right kind of clothes, or whether my rabbi is greater than your rabbi while the Temple is ignored or, worse, offered to the highest bidder.

When Hashm levels the current building, we must be standing ready to rebuild immediately before the Cuckoo birds lay their eggs again in our nest.


Reclaiming Judaism's holiest place
By Nadav Shragai

The police at the Mugrabi Gate, at the entrance to the Temple Mount, are used to the sight. Every few days a group of ultra-Orthodox Temple Mount Faithful congregates in front of the gate. A few of them wear the black kneesocks and tasseled tie belt of the Belzer Hassidic sect, while others are American youths, students from the Mir Yeshiva. Occasionally they are joined by Gerer Hassidim, and of course national-religious Jews, with their crocheted skullcaps. Only after a thorough check of the worshipers' bags, to make sure they contain no prayer books, prayer shawls or phylacteries, do the police allow them to enter the Temple Mount compound.

This unusual "coalition," which has been visiting the mount at least once a week for years, is defined in the ultra-Orthodox world as somewhere between eccentric and untouchable, but primarily as rebelling against a halakhic prohibition stating that today there is theoretically no greater sin than entering the Temple Mount; that anyone who violates this ruling is doomed to an untimely death.

In recent years the circle of those rebelling against that ruling is growing. Last month Rabbi Moshe Tendler, the son-in-law of the late Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, considered the greatest "decider" (posek) of halakha (Jewish law) among American Jewry in the last generation, visited the Temple Mount accompanied by members of the Temple Mount Institute. Tendler expressed his solidarity with the ultra-Orthodox group, which does not heed the ruling, but rather believes, like many national-religious halakhists, that certain parts of the mount are permissible to Jews today; areas that are not part of the original Temple Mount, and which the Temple did not occupy.

Furthermore, a few months ago an emissary visited the Temple Mount on behalf of ultra-Orthodox rabbinical judge, who concluded that, contrary to the ruling of the most revered ultra-Orthodox rabbis, under certain circumstances it is possible to allow the entry of Jews to the Temple Mount. The well-known judge hastened to share his findings with his close circle, family and friends, but they just as quickly cooled his enthusiasm, warning him against publishing his conclusions.

In the ultra-Orthodox world there is absolutely no tolerance for anyone who violates the prohibition against visiting the Temple Mount. Tendler, who openly visited the mount, has been roundly censured. About 20 years ago the Belz Hassidic Elboim family, which founded the Movement for Establishing the Temple faced similar responses, but continues to visit the Temple Mount every week.

Yosef Elboim, the movement's leader, has had excommunication orders issued against him, disallowing him from being counted in a minyan; the mezuzahs have been torn off the doorpost at the entrance to his house, and his front door was set on fire. In Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, announcements were plastered on the notice boards, denouncing him and the "other sinners" who joined him. The harassment stopped only after Elboim's friends responded by protesting outside the home of the then rabbi of the ultra-Orthodox Ezrat Torah neighborhood, the late Rabbi Simcha Bunim Waldenberg.

This week, when the most respected ultra-Orthodox rabbis saw the widening crack in their following, and amid growing fears that others would be drawn toward the lenient national-religious ruling, the rabbis mounted a counteroffensive. Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, instructed Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who presides over the Western Wall, to reissue the rabbinical ruling from 40 years ago, forbidding visits to the mount. "The rabbis who allow this are mistaken," announced Yosef, "and they will ultimately be held accountable."

Elyashiv asked Rabinowitz to put up a sign and post a guard to warn people of the serious prohibition, and Kanievsky stressed that the defiling of the Temple and its sanctity is worse than all the sins in the Torah.

Elboim and his like-minded rabbi friends, however, believe otherwise, and are encouraged by their widening circle. They coordinate their visits with the police and have no desire to publicize their actions. "We prefer a quiet, modest visit to the Temple Mount than singing from the gates and trumpeting from the ramparts," they say.

Motti Inbari, whose book "Jewish Fundamentalism and the Temple Mount" was recently published by Magnes Press (in Hebrew), says that from Elboim's perspective, "a physical presence on the mount, in fulfillment of a religious precept, is immeasurably more significant than public demonstrations and assemblies, and for him, the conquest of the mount means a constant presence there, even if in small groups and with no publicity."

In the meantime, a new initiative on the Temple Mount is slowly taking form, and it, too, has ultra-Orthodox backers, mainly from the group that calls itself the Sanhedrin. Prof. Hillel Weiss proposes reinstating the custom of Hakhel on the Temple Mount, with the participation of the heads of state and the nation's leaders.

Hakhel was held once every seven years in ancient times, during the festival of Sukkot after a Shmita year, when hundreds of thousands of Jews would assemble on the Temple Mount and the king would read to them from the Torah (as described in Deuteronomy 31:10-13).

During Sukkot 1988, this ritual was held in the Western Wall plaza, with the participation of the president, the head of the Supreme Court and the chief rabbis. Weiss, who since that time has become a controversial figure, would like to repeat that event, but up on the Temple Mount. Hakhel will not be marked on the mount this year, but there will be a great tumult here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ford Foundation Continues It's Heritage of Hate


G-d bless the JTA and their unrelenting coverage of the ongoing anti-Semitism of the Ford Foundation. It all began with Henry himself--proud Jew-hater that he was--and his close and chummy relationship with Hitler (Ford had a picture of Hitler on his Desk, Hitler had a picture of Ford). The ideas of Henry have obviously permeated his family, even today--and that family still sways the Foundation.

I have never purchased a Ford, and I won't own a Ford. Any Jew who owns a Ford should be ashamed of themselves for supporting such a hate-filled anti-Jewish company.

Yes, I know there are very few companies with clean hands, but in the dirty hands category, Ford stands alone.

Even foul-mouthed Sarah Silverman knows that there are just some things Jews shouldn't do . . . and buying a German car (or, I think, it's American equivalent) just isn't kosher. Youtube of Sarah Silverman performing (Warning! Offensive Language and Content--don't play this around the kids!!).

Ford Foundation still funds anti-Israel groups
by michael j. jordan


Seven years ago, Israel became a punching bag for several thousand human rights activists from around the world who gathered for a United Nations anti-racism conference in Durban, South Africa.

While the Jewish state was the target, the Ford Foundation also suffered a serious black eye after it emerged that many of the anti-Israel activists in Durban were egged on by Ford-funded groups.

Hoping to head off a similar debacle, Ford says it will not pay for any organization to participate in the first follow-up conference to Durban, slated for April 2009 in Geneva.

This announcement comes nearly five years after Ford, America’s second-largest philanthropic institution, adopted what experts describe as the most stringent grant guidelines in the nonprofit world.

Yet despite such steps and the foundation’s public criticism of what transpired seven years ago, Ford is still funding several organizations that engage in the “Durban strategy” — a two-pronged tactic that paints Israel as a “racist, apartheid” nation and isolates the Jewish state through boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

The Ford funding enables groups to wage low-key diplomatic and economic warfare against Israel, dragging the Palestinian conflict into the media and onto the Internet and college campuses.

As Ford was announcing its decision not to support the 2009 anti-racism forum, its Web site touted a 2008-09 grant for $305,000 to the Arab NGO Network for Development, which features a map on its Web site that fails to note the existence of Israel. One of the two Palestinian members on its coordination committee belongs to the pro-boycott Palestinian NGO Network, or PNGO, a key organizer at Durban.

Although PNGO is no longer receiving grants from Ford, the network works closely with at least three Ford grantee organizations.

Ford, which has assets of about $13 billion and gives away more than $500 million annually, was endowed with funds donated by Henry and Edsel Ford but no longer maintains any ties to the Ford Motor Co.

The foundation does not support groups that solely advocate boycotts, but signing onto a boycott or divestment effort is not itself a deal breaker for funding, according to Ford’s vice president of communications, Marta Tellado.

Tellado said the foundation never supported the anti-apartheid movement against South Africa, but it recognizes that “historically, boycott is seen as a legitimate, nonviolent means of expression.”

“We don’t think the idea of a boycott can be generalized to mean it’s aimed at the destruction of a country,” Tellado said. “But we understand that it’s a flashpoint” in the conflict today.

With preparations under way for the follow-up U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Geneva, there are strong indications that Israel again will be singled out for opprobrium.

Tellado said the Ford Foundation wants no part of it.

“Experience totally informs our decision,” she said. “This reflects our concern for the meeting’s ability to be constructive.”

This and other steps — like severing relations with several zealous NGOs — garner Ford praise from even its toughest critics.

After a JTA investigation in 2003 revealed the Ford-Durban link, Ford issued its new guidelines for grantees. Experts say the revisions were the most extensive seen in philanthropic circles. The guidelines elicited accusations of free-speech infringement from the American Civil Liberties Union and a slew of top U.S. universities.

Under the guidelines, Ford grantees must agree not to “carry on propaganda” or “promote or engage in violence, terrorism, bigotry or the destruction of any State, nor will it make subgrants to any entity that engages in these activities.”

Although no Ford grantee was linked to terrorism per se, some appeared to condone violence and terror. Ford has since stopped funding those groups.

Yet a new JTA investigation has uncovered several grantees that engage in the twin “Israel is apartheid” and “boycott and divest” campaigns.

“That is the essence of the Durban strategy: demonize and delegitimize Israel to the degree that it gains no external support and eventually is unable to function,” said Gerald Steinberg, the executive director of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor.

“I wouldn’t say this is a strong, consistent pattern, but it’s more than minor leakage. Ford should take a more proactive approach so its monies are not abused.”

Beneficiaries of Ford funds include:

n The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights; Muwatin: Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy; the Palestinian Center for Human Rights; and Miftah: the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy. All these groups signed onto boycott and divestment petitions.

  • Al Haq. The West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva in the “Goals and Objectives” section of its Web page cites “participation in civil society discourse and activities regarding divestment, boycott and sanctions.” Last year it urged the U.N. General Assembly to recall the “political, economic, military and cultural isolation of South Africa” as “such measures must be considered in relation to Israel.”
  • The Arab NGO Network for Development. Its Web site prominently features a section called “Eye on Gaza” with links to 10 related documents. Among them are an article titled “The Israeli Recipe for 2008: Genocide in Gaza” and a March news release of the Euro-Mediterranean NGO Platform — another Ford grantee — accusing Israel of “massacres,” “war crimes” and “genocide.”

Observers say that the activities of some Ford grantees point to the challenge that any huge, decentralized organization faces in monitoring its partners. Ford boasts 4,000 grantees around the world.

The issue may boil down to Ford’s interpretation of terms such as “promote,” “bigotry” or “propaganda.”

“We’re not in the business of censorship because that flies in the face of our values,” Tellado said. “Having said that, you really do need to monitor because words do matter. We realize there is a lot of hyperbole bandied about and not backed up by fact.”

For their part, the Ford-funded NGOs say branding Israel “apartheid” is one way to “raise awareness” globally.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights received a two-year, $370,000 Ford grant for 2005-07 “for a program of legal advocacy and defense of human rights and the rule of law and promotion of democratic processes in Gaza.”

Even Steinberg of NGO Monitor praises the rights group for being one of the rare Palestinian organizations to condemn various abuses committed by the Palestinian authorities and police.

But in November 2006, the center also issued an “action alert” in which it joined with the Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign — a network devoted to the boycott movement — in calling on the world to hold “Apartheid Israel” accountable for its “war crimes.”

Jaber Wishah, the Palestinian Center’s deputy director, said that by employing the term apartheid, “we are trying to raise awareness of the illegal and brutal behavior of the Israeli occupying force and the very discriminatory policies that the Israeli judicial system provides cover for.”

“The strategy of boycotts and divestment should be adopted to put an end to the Israeli policy of discrimination,” he said.

Joharah Baker, an editorial writer for Miftah, another Ford grantee, concedes that equating Israel with South Africa is not quite accurate, as “no two situations are exactly the same.” But many comparisons can be drawn, she said — the separation between the two peoples, and also separating Palestinians from Palestinians.

“Once there’s such a well-known comparison, people can draw those parallels and it becomes much more tangible in their mind,” she said. “It’s not that we’re misusing the term or that Palestinians misuse the term. I’m saying it’s very apartheid-like because of the nature of the conflict.”

For JTA’s complete investigation of the Ford Foundation, go to

Why Didn't the Israelites Pray for Moses?

Thoughts for Shabbat August 23, 2008
by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

In last week's Torah portion, Va-et-hanan, we read of Moses' plea to the Almighty to let him enter the Promised Land. With consummate humility and piety, Moses prayed that God would allow him the satisfaction of completing his mission as leader of the Israelites. He had devoted forty difficult years in the wilderness, in the hope of bringing the people of Israel into the land of milk and honey. In spite of Moses' heartfelt prayer, the Almighty did not rescind HIs verdict that Moses was not to enter the Promised Land. God told him to ascend the mountain and look at the land in the distance--that was as close as Moses would get to his goal.

A question arises: why do we hear nothing at all about the Israelites' reaction to God's decree? Why didn't they pray on behalf of their faithful leader? Why didn't they announce to God that they themselves would not enter the Promised Land unless Moses were allowed to enter with them? Why was there no expression of loyalty to or empathy with Moses?

After all that Moses had done for them, it would seem obvious that the people of Israel would have sought God's mercy and kindness to their leader and teacher. But there is no record of their concern at all.

Perhaps this week's Torah portion, Ekev, offers a hint of an answer. Moses reminds the Israelites that during their forty years in the wilderness God provided them with Manna from heaven; He provided them with clothing that didn't wear out; He protected their feet from swelling. In short, the Israelites did not have to worry about their day to day provisions. In a certain sense, then, they grew complacent. Their material needs were provided to them miraculously. While this was certainly a good thing for them, it also had a downside. They became so self-satisfied, that their ability to empathize about the needs of others was diminished. A Judeo-Spanish proverb has it that one with a full stomach does not understand the pain of the one who is hungry.

The Israelites had wandered for forty years. They were anxious to get into the Promised Land. Their focus was on their own needs. They didn't think much about the feelings of Moses. After all, if God judged that Moses should not enter the Land, then so be it. They didn't have time or interest to create a stir: they wanted to move forward, with or without Moses didn't really matter very much.

The Torah may be teaching us--by the silence of the Israelites--something very deep (and troubling) about human nature. It wasn't that the Israelites were bad people. No, they were simply "normal" people who wanted to get on with their lives. They "used" Moses as long as he was available. When he could no longer deliver them goods and services, they turned their thoughts to the next leader and to their future journeys. When God told Moses he would not enter the Promised Land, the Israelites offered no resistance, no prayers, no solace to Moses. In their eyes, he had become a "lame duck".

While the behavior of the Israelites was "normal", it nevertheless should raise questions in our own minds. If we were in their situation, would we have shown empathy for Moses? Would we have joined him in praying to God? Would we have made a clear demonstration of loyalty and appreciation?

In our modern society, one of the common complaints is that people are expendable. Loyalty and devotion are made subservient to utilitarian concerns and "market forces". People are used--and then discarded.

The behavior of the Israelites--as so much of modern behavior--is "normal". Yet, our task isn't to be satisfied with being "normal". We need to strive for true righteousness. True righteousness requires us to be sensitive, compassionate, loyal, appreciative.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jewish Democrats? This is the Face of Your Party?


Eeeeew. Disgusting.

You might as well round it out and invite Cynthia McKenney, David Duke, and Hitler.

Aug 22, 2008 0:54 | Updated Aug 22, 2008 1:25
Carter to speak at Democratic gathering

Both major US parties rolled out presidential convention line-ups this week packed with speakers who should appeal to Jewish voters. But Republicans say the Democrats are also featuring one politician who damages more than helps their appeal for that constituency's vote.

Former Democratic president Jimmy Carter will be among those appearing on Monday night in Denver, the first day of the four-day convention. The Republican convention will run from September 1-4 in Minneapolis.

The Republican Jewish Coalition has attacked Carter's inclusion, accusing him of displaying "a troubling anti-Israel bias" for his recent visit with Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal and his "error-filled, egregiously biased book," Palestine: Peace not Apartheid.

Some Democrats are also displeased. "I don't think that seeing Jimmy Carter makes anyone who cares about Israel comfortable," said one Jewish Democrat attending next week's convention, who acknowledged, however, "He's a former president of the United States from the Democratic party and they're almost obliged to give him a speaking role."

A Democratic Party official pointed out that former living presidents were accommodated by both parties, and stressed that Congressional party leaders as well presumptive nominee Barack Obama had publicly disagreed with Carter's attitude toward Israel.

Because of that stance, according to Democratic party sources, Carter's profile at the convention has been downgraded, with him relegated to speaking early on Monday when audience attention should be at a minimum. He is not expected to discuss the Middle East.

Democrats are also counting on other speakers popular with the Jewish community to compensate for his appearance. Jewish legislators Robert Wexler, a representative from Florida and an early backer of Obama, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, and Rahm Emmanuel, the House's Democratic Caucus chairman and a representative from Obama's home state of Illinois, and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell are all scheduled to appear. Sen. Hillary Clinton, whom large numbers of Jews preferred over her rival Obama, will be the "headline, prime-time speaker" on Tuesday.

The GOP also have a number of Jewish speakers, including Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, the state hosting the convention, and Gov. Linda Lingle of Hawaii, the state where Obama grew up. The most prominent, however, will be Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who two presidential elections ago took the stage at the Democratic convention as Al Gore's running mate.

Lieberman once again finds himself on the short list for VP choices, but this time for presumptive Republican nominee John McCain. Lieberman has spent considerable time stumping for McCain and growing close to a politician known for valuing personal relationships and following his instincts rather than conventional wisdom.

Lieberman, a registered Independent who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate, is set to speak on the Republican convention's opening night in a bid to emphasize McCain's "maverick" reputation and willingness to cross party lines in an attempt to woo undecided voters as well as the Jewish community. In a similar vein, former New York City major Rudy Giuliani deliver the keynote address on Tuesday night. The favorite of Jewish Republicans before he dropped out of the race, the featured address by a pro-choice figure is an attempt to sway moderates.

The Democratic National Committee is also trying to win over Jewish voters with nonpolitical participants at its convention.

A record seven rabbis will take part in the events surrounding the convention, with four denominations - Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist - represented. Rabbi Tzvi Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, will deliver a keynote speech at the interfaith gathering to be held Sunday ahead of the convention's opening, and the invocation ahead of Obama's acceptance speech on Thursday night will be delivered by Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Rabbi Ira Flax, a former army chaplain and rabbi of Beth Israel in Biloxi, Mississippi, whose synagogue was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, will offer the invocation at the Republican convention on September 3.

With thousands of America's political leaders and members of the media gathered in the same place, the conventions also present an opportunity for interest groups and advocacy organizations to promote their causes.

The Israel Project, which tries to present Israel's case to the media and American public, will be broadcasting 1,300 TV spots on four major cable news networks during the two conventions.

They will focus on US and Israeli joint projects to reduce the world's dependence on Middle East oil as well as a warning of the danger posed by Iran.

The ad campaigns and other outreach efforts, include polling, leaflets, and volunteers, over the two weeks amounts to a $1 million campaign by The Israel Project.

"There are going to be interest groups there who will spend $1m. on a party," said Israel Project President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, referring to the wining and dining that rounds out the convention scene. The Jewish community has traditionally held galas at both conventions, but this year will only hold events to honor Jewish and pro-Israel politicians.

"We don't want to be feeding people shrimp. We want to be feeding people substance," she said, adding that if the Israel Project did provide any food, "it won't be treif."