Friday, January 29, 2010

No. Tu B'Shevat is not "Jewish Arbor Day." Sigh


I was going through web pages today trying to find something about Tu B'Shevat for today, and I was shocked at what I saw! For example, some websites likened Tu B'Shevat to "Arbor Day" in the US.

Uh. No.

Arbor Day is nice, but it isn't a religious holiday, and it isn't a New Year for trees (i.e. a day from which we can count the age of a tree for religious purposes.)

It also isn't a day of "ecology" where we "come to know mother earth!" You can ascribe ecological benefits to Tu B'Shevat, but that is not its purpose. And that whole "mother earth" thing is just WAY too pagan for me.

Tu B'Shevat, as explained below, is the "fiscal year" for trees regarding Jewish law.

For example, I planted an etrog tree on erev Tu B'Shevat. That was four years ago. I know I am permitted to eat the fruit of that tree because it is more than three years old (if I could ever get the darn thing to set fruit!).

There are two things people do on this day: plant a tree and have a Tu B'Shevat Seder.

Here's where you can download a great seder.

Planting a tree is probably impossible for most of us because we can't dig through the ice, but you can PURCHASE A TREE TO PLANT IN ISRAEL.


Tu B'shevat?
by Eric Simon
(based on a conversation with Rabbi Dov Lipman)

What is Tu B'Shevat?

Any answer ought to start from the same place that all of our Jewish tradition flows from: Torah and Talmud.

The Torah doesn't mention the date, but it is a subject in Tractate Rosh HaShana. In fact, the tractate opens up with the following words:

"There are four new years. On the first of Nisan is the new year for kings and for festivals. On the first of Elul is the new year for the tithe of animals. R Eliazar and R Shimon say on the 1st of Tishrei. On the 1st of Tishrei is the New year for the years, for the shmitta (Sabbatical) and Yovel (Jubilee) years, for the sapling and for the vegetables. On the 1st of Shevat is the New Year for the tree according to Beis Shammai, Beis Hillel say on the 15th."

O.K. So it's a new year for trees. What does that tell us?

Well, tithing is a pretty important concept regarding produce in Israel. Without getting into all the complications of it, suffice it to say that tithing is on a seven-year cycle (the seventh year is the "shmitta" year, where we are not allowed to grow anything in the land of Israel -- btw, this year is a shmitta year), and different years require different tithes, and you are not allowed to pay the tithe of one year with produce from a different year.

Later in the Talmud (RH 14b), we read the following rule: "If one picked fruit from an esrog tree on the eve of the 15th of Shevat before the sun went down, and he then picked more of its fruit after the sun went down, we may not separate the tithes from one batch for the other... either from the new crop for the old or from the old crop for the new one..."

So, the 15th of Shevat marks the end and the beginning of the "fiscal year" for trees.

By the 11th century, we can read from the writings of Rebbenu Gershom (he is probably most well known as the one who issued the decree that a Jew may not marry two wives) that one may not fast on that day, just as we may not fast on Rosh HaShana.

By the 18th century we read in "Kaf HaChayim" that erev Tu B'Shevat there is a custom for special learning, for learning Mishna, Zohar, and to make blessings on fruits and eating it.

So, clearly, there is some religious significance to the day. But what is it?

Before we look into that question, we must digress and talk about Jewish holidays in general. Jewish tradition posits that time is both linear (we are progressing) and circular (that each time of the year has a spiritual similarity to the same point in the other years). And so, just like a place can be holy, a particular time, being simply another dimension, can be holy. Just like a place can have a certain attribute, a particular time can have a certain attribute.

To put it in larger terms, Jewish holidays are _not_ a re-enactment of an event, or simly a memorial or remembrance of an event, but rather it celebrates an appropriate time for a particular aspect of human growth.

Let me give an example: The 10th of Tishrei (Yom Kippur), according to Jewish tradition, is a propitious time for atonement. In fact, that day is so spiritually full of atonement, that a Jew atones for his sins during the year simply by living through that day. (That doesn't mean to blow off Yom Kippur, however -- for Yom Kippur alone does not atone for sins committed _on_ Yom Kippur!) Thus, it is no coincidence that G-d forgave the Jewish people for the sin of the golden calf on the 10th of Tishrei.

So now the question becomes: what is it about the 15th of Shevat and Trees that should relate to us?

Consider the following:

Trees are often a metaphor for humans. Many of us have heard the injunction that during war one may lay siege to a town, but one may not cut down the trees. The entire verse, Deut. 20:19, reads: "When you lay siege to a city for many days to capture it by making war against it, you shall not destroy its tree, wielding an axe against it; for you shall eat of it but not cut it down; for man is a tree of the field..."

Man is a tree?

(I should hasten to point out that halachically speaking, and you can see in this verse where it comes from, that one is only prohibited from cutting down trees that bear fruit!)

In Tractate Ta'anit (7a) we read: Rabbi Zeira explained the strange verse "Ki ha'Adam Eitz ha'Sadeh" (for a man is a tree in the field) with the seemingly contradictory verse there "Ki Mimenu Sochel, ve'Oso Lo Sichros" (for you shall eat of it and not cut it down) -- that if he is a worthy teacher, then eat from him (learn from him). Otherwise, destroy him and cut him down.

Others consider the fruit of one's "tree" as the mitzvos that we do.

And, indeed, trees are often a metaphor for Torah. The most famous expression of this is in Proverbs (3:18): "It is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it."
I'd like to bring in one other tradition about Shevat:

In Jewish tradition, the entire book of Deuteronomy was Moshe's last speech, and he gave it over the last 5 weeks of his life. Tradition posits that he started on the 1st of Shevat. It is said that the average person who was there and listening to it began to feel spiritual growth on the 15th of Shevat -- Tu B'Shevat. (It occurs to me, I wonder if the dispute about the "new year for trees" between Beis Shammai (who asserted it was on the 1st) and Beis Hillel (who asserted it was on the 15th is related to this ... ?).
So, tying it all together:

We see that the 15th of Shevat is an important growth period for trees. We also see that trees, in our tradition, are related to both Torah and to mankind, and that the 15th of Shevat was a time when there was major spiritual growth among Jews.

So, Tu B'Shevat is a time for Jews to focus on "the Tree" -- the Tree of Torah and the Tree of our own spiritual growth, and our potential for growth.

And so, just as we enjoy the fruits of the trees and wish for a good year for trees, I wish you all a good year for growth in Torah (keep on studying!), and for your own spiritual growth.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Man Orphaned by Murder of Father, Sister, Uncle and Grandfather in 1929 Hevron Riots, Passes Away in Israel


My fear is that people will forget the horrors of the Hebron Riots, when a violent mob of arabs went on a rampage through the ancient Jewish town of Hebron, killing everyone they found.

Unfortunately, the stupidity of the British at that time was similar to the stupidity of the Israeli government under Olmert which Bibi allows to continue today. The British "trained" the arabs to serve as police in Hebron, just as the Israeli government has "trained" the PA police to serve as police in Hebron today. When you read the accounts of the massacre, you can't help but see the clear parallels. Why are we so stupid as to repeat history over and over and over again???

Anyone who thinks that arabs have a right to even a inch of Hebron is not only pathologically ignorant of history, but stupid as well.

Anyone who thinks that arabs started killing Jews when Jews "occupied" "palestinian" land are not only stupid, they are liars of the most hideous type.

Here is an account of the rioting:
"On hearing screams in a room I went up a sort of tunnel passage and saw an Arab in the act of cutting off a child's head with a sword. He had already hit him and was having another cut, but on seeing me he tried to aim the stroke at me, but missed; he was practically on the muzzle of my rifle. I shot him low in the groin. Behind him was a Jewish woman smothered in blood with a man I recognized as a[n Arab] police constable named Issa Sherif from Jaffa in mufti. He was standing over the woman with a dagger in his hand. He saw me and bolted into a room close by and tried to shut me out-shouting in Arabic, "Your Honor, I am a policeman." ... I got into the room and shot him."
(Bernard Wasserstein, The British in Palestine: The Mandatory Government and the Arab-Jewish Conflict 1917-1929, Oxford England, Basil Blackwell, 1991)

Here are some pictures, just in case you think the account is overstating the case:

Hebron is an ancient Jewish town. All of the areas around Hebron are areas we have lived on and inhabited for thousands of years. It is the second most Holy city in Israel.

May Hashm's justice rain down on anyone who would even SUGGEST we give one inch of Hebron or one inch of Jerusalem (or one inch of Israel, for that matter) to our enemies!

This man's death is a sign that the rest of us need to take up the burden to NEVER FORGET THE HEBRON RIOTS and NEVER LET THE ARABS PROFIT FROM THESE DEATHS.

May the Peace House and the rest of Hebron be liberated by the courts to again prosper as Jewish homes in a Jewish town where our Jewish ancestors are buried.



Yosef Lazarovski Dies, Survivor of 1929 Hevron Riots

( Yosef Lazarovski, who survived Arab rioting in Hevron in
1929, passed away Thursday. Lazarovski was between five and six years old
when he saw his father, sister and uncle killed in Slonim House, where they
tried to hide from the rioters.

Also killed was his maternal grandfather, who had come to Hevron from
Herzliya for a visit. The body of a yeshiva student who was killed fell and
covered him, and Lazarovski's life was saved because the rioters thought he
was dead. Another sister saved his mother, who was also thought to have died
in the rioting.

He served in the naval wing of the Palmach militia, and when the modern
Jewish state was born, he spent many years in its security services. In his
later years, he campaigned, without response, to be officially declared an
orphan of terrorist activity.

Imam Speaks Out Against Terrorism, Radicalism, and is Rewarded with Radicals Raiding His Mosque, Death Threats


We often say, “If the Moslem community were so interested in stopping the radicalism, then why don’t they speak out about it?”

This Imam did so, and it appears that we have the answer as to why the rest of them don’t condemn the violence and terrorism of other Moslems—they fear for their life!

I should have suspected as much, knowing how it works among the nations as well—all the arab nations fear having diplomatic relations with Israel because they are bullied by the other nations, their trade is restricted, and their citizens are harassed.

I’m sure this has a lot to do with why Turkey has turned from a friend to a foe of Israel in the past few years.

It’s terribly, terribly disappointing, but it is reality.

May Hashm protect this brave Imam, his family, his mosque, and his community.


French Mosque Raided by Islamic Radicals
by Hana Levi Julian

( The head of a mosque in Drancy, a northeastern suburb of Paris, was targeted Monday by a gang of Islamic radicals who interrupted the services and threatened to “liquidate him, this imam of the Jews.”

The mob, about 80-strong, burst into the French mosque, halting a meeting of some 200 other imams led by Hassen Chalghoumi, who has consistently spoken out against Islamic extremism.

The extremists called the Muslim spiritual leader an “infidel” (heathen) and a “renegade.”
At the time, Chalghoumi was chairing a meeting of the Conference of Imams, an organization established just last year to promote better relations between the various faiths in France, especially Jews and Muslims.

“They started to cry Allahu Akbar',” Chalghouri told reporters after the incident. “Then they insulted me, my mosque, the Jewish community and the [French] Republic. They left after an hour and a half.”

Despite the anti-Semitic epithets, however, the attack apparently also stemmed from Chalghoumi's liberal positions on the status of women in Islam. At age 36, he is known in France for his interfaith work with Jewish leaders and his activism with Muslim youth, but is also an especially controversial figure on the issue of women's dress in Islam.

Last week he told the French newspaper Le Parisien, “Having French nationality means wanting to take part in society, at school, at work. But with a bit of cloth over their faces, what can these women share with us? If they want to wear the veil, they can go to a country where it's the tradition, like Saudi Arabia.”

He is known for his support for “a legal ban of the burka, which has no place in France, a country where women have been voting since 1945.” The burka, an all-encompassing robe that covers a woman literally from head to foot, hiding her completely from the eyes of all, is “a prison for women, a tool of sexist domination and Islamist indoctrination,” Chalghoumi told Le Parisien.

One of the younger and most liberal imams in France, the Tunisian-born Chalghoumi, is a naturalized French citizen. He has been repeatedly attacked by Islamic radicals, and has also received death threats in the past in response to his statements against anti-Semitism. Nevertheless, the imam told an interviewer Tuesday on Radio Orient that he would continue to work against extremism and towards improving Muslim-Jewish relations in France. “It is our future that is at stake,” he said.

The imam confirmed that he would file a formal complaint with police against the gang that burst into his mosque on Monday.

The regional Jewish community organization issued a statement supporting Chalghoumi and expressing concern about the attack, calling the incident “serious and worrisome.” According to Sammy Ghozlan, head of the organization, “a real harmony has reigned between the Jewish and Muslim communities” since the arrival of Chalghoumi. Christian organizations were similarly supportive. However, the Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF) was less positive. The group's president said he was not surprised by the attack, adding, “We've warned him several times to moderate his words because he risks attracting these sort of reactions.”

The imam and his mosque are currently under police protection.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shema Olam! Listen Up World! Iran is the New Germany, and Jews are ringing the alarm bell!!


Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Why is it important to study and remember the events of the past?

So they don’t happen again.

I am worried that much of the Jewish community, especially those who are not religious in the Jewish community, often begin practicing “Holocaustism” rather than Judaism.

“Holocaustism” goes beyond remembering and studying the Holocaust as a disgraceful crime against humanity that should never be repeated, to basing their identity--not upon their ancestor’s traditions, faith and belief in Hashm, but -- on the Holocaust.

Yes, it is important to remember what happened. We must never forget, and we must never let anyone else forget either.

The Holocaust, like the litany of previous horrors which have oppressed the Jewish people since ancient times, shows the importance of maintaining and supporting our homeland in Israel and our people.

We must never, ever, be in a position where we cannot go home.

We must never, ever be in a position where we are completely at the mercy of other people.

We must never, ever stop being vigilant in the protection of human rights of Jews and others in the world.

We must never, ever forget.

This is why it is so important to read this article. No, it is not another story of the horrors of the Holocaust. It is a story of the horrors of the holocaust to come if we and the world does not remember.

Jews are a small minority, but Hashm has shown time and time again that what happens to the Jew, soon happens to everyone else.

Maybe it is because we are the first to be victims or maybe . . . Just maybe . . . We are the conscience of the world. We see what is wrong before anyone else sees it, we trumpet the alarm before anyone else trumpets the alarm, and we are the ones that those who would bring evil wish to silence first.

Why does Iran’s dictator want to destroy Israel and kill Jews? Because Iran's plans for the world cannot go forward unless they shut us up.

If they can just get the world to believe them and ignore the Jews, they can develop a Nuclear bomb, and, with that power in their hands, hold everyone hostage to their will.

This isn’t a problem that affects only the Jews and Israel, it is a problem that will affect the world.

They want to destroy us for the same reason that Hitler wanted to destroy us: because we stand for decency and morality in the world.

What is the lesson of the Holocaust? Must Hashm keep repeating that lesson over and over and over again?

Listen up, world! Shema, Olam!!!

If you don’t pay attention, it isn’t just the Jews who suffer!!

“He who blesses you, I will bless; He who curses you, I will curse! Through you will all the nations of the world be blessed.”

'Iran, Nazi Germany must be compared'
27/01/2010 11:52

Comparisons between contemporary Iran and Nazi Germany are not only appropriate, but pertinent and true, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said while on a visit to Hungary on the morning of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which falls on Wednesday.

Speaking to Israel Radio, the foreign minister stated that while the victims of the Holocaust must be remembered and commemorated, the Jewish people and the international community must also take heed of the lessons of the tragedy and prevent such an event from ever recurring. “It is enough to take a look at the report which appeared in this week's Der Spiegel,” Lieberman said, referring to intelligence acquired by the German BND which gives credence to suspicions that Iran may be developing two separate nuclear programs – a civilian energy endeavor and a clandestine military one which is directly answerable to the country's defense ministry.

“This is the first time that the leader of a UN member state declares there was no Holocaust,” the foreign minister stressed, in an allusion to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “Iran was responsible for the bombings in Buenos Aires, both against the Israeli embassy and the Jewish community building (AMIA). [Ahmad Vahidi], who was responsible for two terror attacks and the government of Argentina – not the government of Israel – issued an international arrest warrant against him, currently serves as defense minister of Iran. Such a defense minister, with a nuclear arsenal at his fingertips – that is not something to be ignored or trivialized.”

Lieberman clarified that no comparison between Iran and Nazi Germany could be considered an exploitation of the genocide. “Anyone who remembers the rise of the Nazis even before 1938, after the Weimar Republic, anyone who understands history and remembers the reaction of the international community – how they tried to placate [the Nazis], to negotiate, to yield to them – must only think on the annexation of what was then Czechoslovakia.”

While the foreign minister acceded to the fact that the mullah-led Iranian regime was not targeting Jews, he stated that Jews were nonetheless being arrested and tried in the Islamic republic. “I certainly don't envy the Jewish community in Iran. The president of Iran himself keeps calling for a world without Zionism. He is replacing Judaism with Zionism. 'There is no place for Jews in the Middle East,' he says. He tells them to go back to Europe. It is fortunate that he (Ahmadinejad) has yet to acquire the kind of power he aspires to.”

During the interview, Lieberman also touched on the controversial treatment of Turkish Ambassador Oguz Celikkol by the foreign minister's deputy, Danny Ayalon. “It's not just the television show [portraying Mossad agents as baby-snatchers],” he said. “The day after it aired, the Turkish prime minister [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] held a joint press conference with [Lebanese prime minister] Sa'ad Hariri in which they both defined Israel as 'the greatest threat to the security of the international community,' and I won't even repeat all the other expressions [Erdogan] used.”

Asked if he believed the current tension between Israel and Turkey stemmed from the policies of a government led by Erdogan, Lieberman replied that not much could be expected from a prime minister who called Ahmadinejad a “close friend” and stated he would prefer to meet with the “criminal president of Sudan,” Omar Al-Bashir, rather than with President Shimon Peres. He cited a recent EU report which brought to light discrepancies in Turkey's legal system, its use of torture and its refusal to address tensions between Turkish and Greek Cyprus. “We must look outside our little swamp. Change in Turkey is not a change in its stance toward Israel,” Lieberman said. “We have no interest in a deterioration in relations with Turkey. We approach Turkey with respect and appreciation and expect the same.”

On the impasse in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Lieberman was adamant that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government would “clearly” not make any more gestures in order to renew negotiations. “We brought [former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser] Arafat in from Tunis, we gave him land and weapons, we transferred 10,000 Jews from Gush Katif,” the foreign minister said.

“[Former prime minister Ehud] Olmert, [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas and [former US president George W.] Bush sat in Annapolis and we watched Olmert explain that he is ready to return to the '67 borders, to divide Jerusalem, to address the issue of refugees. The [Palestinians] said – 'no, nyet.' If they did not accept these groundbreaking concessions, how will any gestures help?”

Lieberman assessed that since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, barely any progress had been made in peace negotiations. “I don't think the administration of [US President Barack] Obama is na├»ve, only that the international community has a false perception that peace can be forced [on clashing parties],” he told his interviewer. “Peace is achieved through many years of hard work. Security and a [stable] economy must first be ensured. It isn't a question of good will.”

Praising efforts in the international arena by European leaders such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his own host country, Hungary, Lieberman concluded that Israel “must not underestimate its friends.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

250 Doctors, 25 Nurses, 233 Life Saving Surgeries and Ten Babies Later, Hospital Ship Arrives from US, and IDF Packs Up for Home


What a glorious point of pride the IDF Field Hospital, ZAKA, and
Oketz (Search and Rescue Dogs) have provided to their brothers and sisters around the world!

Haven't we all be standing a little taller, smiling a bit more, since word of these heroic Israeli doctors, nurses, and rescue personnel hit the world's airways?

I can't think of a time when Tikkun Olam has been more evident, more boldly represented, and more beautifully rendered than in this, Israel's shining moment on the world stage, doing what it does best: caring for others.

Most of the time, the agencies that assisted in Haiti do their work quietly, without any publicity, and with no thanks but the tearful gratitude of those they help.

However, thanks to a fortunate moment in the spotlight on CNN, Israel's efforts have now been uncovered to the world.

I couldn't be prouder.

Am Yisrael Chai!



IDF Winds Up Haiti Rescue as US Hospital Ship Arrives
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

( IDF rescue and medical teams are packing up for home this week 10 days after they led the world in rendering emergency help for the victims of the Haiti earthquake disaster January 12. A video shows an Israeli search and rescue team saving a 22-year-old Haitian man from the ruins of a three-story building 10 days after the disaster.

The humanitarian effort resulted in an unintended but badly-needed boost to Israel’s image in foreign media after accusations of alleged war crimes in fighting terrorism in Gaza last year and causing an alleged humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Nevertheless, several anti-Israeli websites accused Israel of stealing body organs in Haiti, and the British Guardian published an article about Israel's rescue efforts under the headline "Israel's double standards over Haiti."

Israel already has offered to help search for survivors of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, two miles west of Lebanon early Monday morning, shortly after takeoff from Beirut. Terrorism has been ruled out as the cause of the crash, which occurred during a fierce winter storm. Approximately 90 people, 50 of them Lebanese, were on board.

The IDF aid delegation in Haiti will continue to provide assistance and support even after most of the support team flies back home on Thursday. The supports teams this week built three water towers capable of holding up to 12 thousand liters of water each and built shelters for the homeless.

Israeli civil engineers in Haiti also opened central traffic routes that had been blocked in the aftermath of the earthquake. Medical personnel have performed 233 life-saving surgeries and delivered 10 babies.

The Jewish State’s help in Haiti startled the Western world, especially the United States, whose hospital ship arrived only three days ago and took some of the pressure off Israel’s state of the art field hospital that was featured on major American television outlets four days after it was set up.

Approximately 250 doctors, 25 nurses and support teams participated in the rescue and search efforts that continued even after Haiti officials officially said the rescue operations were over. Two days ago, the Israel team saved an earthquake survivor who had been living under the rubble for 10 days, living on soda and cookies that he found.

The army's ”Oketz” unit sent dogs to look for people trapped in the debris that devastated Port-au-Prince. Orthodox Jews comprised part of the ZAKA rescue team that identified victims and gave first aid to the wounded.

Israel’s long experience in disasters and constant terrorists attacks since before the re-establishment the Jewish State in 1948 has helped the country develop advanced systems for search and rescue missions. Israel's Center for International Cooperation has assisted more than 140 countries, noted Middle analyst Emanuel A. Winston.

Special teams are equipped with fiber-optic cameras and microphones that can be snaked through the rubble to see and hear buried victims deep inside collapsed buildings. Past recipients of Israeli global disaster aid have been Mumbai, the place where Muslim terrorists murdered six Jews at the Chabad House and more than 150 others in nearby hotels more than a year ago.

Israel also sent help to China after an earthquake and to Myanmar after a cyclone in 2008 and assisted Turkish earthquake victims in 1999. Other assistance was given to Peru, India and El Salvador earthquake victims in 2001 and Sri Lankan flood victims in 2003.

New Scholarship on Hannah Szenes Provides Complex Look at National Heroine


It is always difficult to hear the human side of a person we wish to make greater than human.

In this new translation of the writings of Hannah Szenes, Dr. Ruti Glick has not only uncovered a more complex understanding of Szenes, but she has provided us with a much greater understanding about why a young woman like Szenes would have accepted the dangerous mission to paratroop behind enemy lines to fight against the Nazis.

I hope that Glick’s work is only the beginning of the further study of this amazing young woman, her dreams, her aspirations, and her sacrifice to Israel.

I would love to see this translated further—into an English edition, and, perhaps, made into a movie. What a glorious movie it would be! No happy ending, of course, but, as Jews, we have learned that happy endings are not always the point.


The other Hannah
By Tsafi Saar

"In the meantime, I've been working in the dairy barn, but I'm pretty bored with it because I don't really feel like only cleaning the cows and the barn. I'd like to learn to do the milking... Last week I secretly milked a cow... It's incredible that after two years of studying agriculture a person doesn't know how to milk."

These sentences, which Hannah Szenes wrote to her mother about her work at Nahalal, encapsulate the experience of the young Hungarian girl who immigrated to Palestine imbued with ideals: The frustration at not being allowed to do real agricultural work, only various housekeeping tasks, alongside her daring and initiative, her rejection of what she was supposed to do.

Szenes, who became a national symbol of heroism - and ironically also a symbol of equality between the sexes - was a disappointed and lonely immigrant during her few years here, full of criticism of the society of which she so much longed to be a part. This is what emerges from the research compiled by Ruti Glick, which will be presented today at a conference titled "Unforgettable Hebrew Women" at Bar-Ilan University. The conference is marks the retirement of Professor Margalit Shilo, a pioneer in the field of gender studies in Israel.

Szenes, says Glick, experienced many personal, vocational and social difficulties here, which peaked toward the end of her stay at Kibbutz Sdot Yam. The paratrooping mission in Europe appealed to her, in part, because it served as an escape from a disappointing immigration story. The distance between this and the figure engraved in the collective Israeli consciousness is nearly unfathomable.

Szenes was born in 1921 in Budapest, the daughter of successful author and playwright Bela Szenes. Hannah arrived in Palestine in 1939, studied for two years at the agricultural school for girls in Nahalal and was a founder of Kibbutz Sdot Yam.

After enlisting in the pre-state Palmach militia, in 1943 she volunteered for the British Army and joined a group of paratroopers slated to parachute onto European soil as part of the fight against Nazi Germany. The group parachuted into Croatia near the Hungarian border and joined a band of local partisans. In June 1944, Szenes crossed the border into Hungary and was captured. She was tortured in a prison in Budapest and executed in November 1944.

Szenes became a myth. In 1946, two years after her death, a book containing her diary, poems she had written, two plays and 20 letters was published in Hebrew. The book has been reprinted over the years, becoming part of the education of many generations of Israelis. To this day, Israeli schoolchildren are taught about Szenes as a symbol of heroism and sacrifice.

However, Glick notes that Szenes' diary as published in Hebrew was partial and censored. To date the complete diary has been published only in Hungary, in 1991, edited by Anna Szalai. Published alongside the diary are about 200 letters Szenes sent, mostly to her mother in Budapest and her brother in France, which paint a far more complex picture of the young pioneer-poet.

The abbreviated Hebrew version was translated and edited by Szenes' friends in Israel, at her mother's request. Apparently the omissions, along with substitutions like "the land of Israel" for "Palestine," or the transformation of hesitant sentences into unambiguous statements express the young society's need to shape Szenes as a role model, heroine and symbol.

What, for example, was left out? Though Szenes, daughter of an intellectual, assimilated and bourgeois family, wanted to become a farmer, after only a month at Nahalal she wrote: "To tell the truth I can't imagine myself being able to be a worker in the full sense of the word... I can imagine myself only working in something to do with teaching... In moments of courage I dare to think about the school in Nahalal, but without its faults."

This paragraph appeared in the diary in Hebrew, but what came next was omitted. There she details the faults of an important educational institution in the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine: "They don't teach how to work out of joy and desire, and the directors do not evince understanding. Apart from work, they do not invest any thought in life itself, and in the course of the daily work all the agriculture gets lost, especially the "land," the idea of building the land."

Toward the end of her time on Nahalal she wrote: "I already really hate the school and I am waiting impatiently to get out of here." In the laundered Hebrew version this appears as: "I have already had enough of studies and I will wait impatiently for the exams to end."

Next - which also does not appear in the Hebrew version - Szenes wrote: "I want to escape from here already... There is something fundamentally distorting here and an institution like this should not be allowed to exist and sow the seeds of bitterness, lack of faith and a feeling of inferiority in young people's hearts... In recent days I have been in a very bad mood... I don't feel like getting dressed, like living or like dying."

Szenes moved from Nahalal to Kibbutz Sdot Yam, hoping for new challenges. However, she quickly found herself working in the kitchen and the laundry room. "I have great doubts the whole time at work," she wrote. "Every day I stand for hours and launder and ask myself whether this is really my role. I am prepared to do the work, but I feel I have in me unutilized power, and this is so distressing... In a little while it will be three years, the most productive years for learning, for advanced studies - those too were years of learning, important and crucial in my life, but I feel that in my development I have not achieved what I could have and should have."

"In Szenes' writings," says Glick, "a very ambitious personage emerges, who saw Zionism as a way of self-realization. Only very few women came here by themselves at that time. Her mother didn't want her to immigrate and was very worried about her - so almost certainly what is set forth in the letters is just the tip of the iceberg of what was happening in the life and soul of the young Szenes."

This is what Szenes wrote to her mother about her work in the Nahalal warehouse: "I have introduced a number of pretty good inventions to make the work more efficient, complete the equipment in the warehouse and more. I very much like the technical jobs. In this area, they say, I work more like a fellow. And how do I understand the nature of feminine and masculine work? First of all, feminine work is more repetitive, which means maintaining what there is; meanwhile a man's work is more productive and aimed at development. From this it organically derives that feminine work emphasizes the details while masculine work has vision... But in my own work, so I notice, there are more masculine characteristics and other people have pointed this out as well. I am glad about this."

These comments indicate Szenes held a conservative, stereotypical view of the division of labor between the sexes, which apparently derived from her bourgeois background and the times. She didn't consider herself as subjected to discrimination as a woman, viewing domestic service tasks as unprofessional manual labor and nothing more. Her mother did not perform such tasks in Budapest either. The servants did them.

"Her bourgeois class identity was much stronger than her identity as a woman," says Glick. "She did not connect the housework she was given to do to the fact that she was a woman, and at the same time she wanted to be like a man."

If Szenes herself did not feel oppressed as a woman, isn't it problematic to examine her life in terms of gender?

"It's clear she internalized [societal] values, including the division between the private arena for women and the public arena for men," replies Glick. "However, there is a kind of feminism here different from what we know. Not radical, and not socialist like the feminism of the women from the first [waves of] immigration, but one that does empower women in its own way."

True, agrees Glick, among pioneer men there were also many disappointments and failures, but Szenes' difficulty was redoubled because she was a woman: "She very much wanted to adopt the ideology of the new Jew, but the ethos of the pioneer and the fighter was basically masculine. Most of the women did not work in the fields or bear arms. Even when they wanted to take an active part in public life, they often came up against opposition, criticism and ridicule."

Glick points out "the huge gap between Szenes' ambition, her vitality and her desire to contribute to the collective and to herself - and the fact that in the end she found herself doing laundry, day after day, year after year. In this context, the possibility of getting to Hungary, of doing something of great importance and also of seeing her mother was a tremendous escape. This is the story of a woman who sought meaning. Sought, but did not find."

Szenes was disappointed not only by her work life. Neither in Nahalal nor Sdot Yam did she find society to her liking. She was lonely and missed her family very much. At Nahalal she wrote in her diary: "I feel like an empty vessel. Or more precisely - like a vessel with holes in it, so that everything poured into it spills out. There is nothing to savor in anything I'm doing. I need people, not just any people, not just a piece of meat, but people who are close to me in thought, in feeling."

A woman who knew Szenes at that time told Glick in an interview: "I remember she was very smart. With pretty legs, very attractive to intelligent men. She was a personality."

"She had doubts about the social level of the kibbutz members," recalled Rotem, the secretary of Sdot Yam. "She found people meager at the personal level. She was critical. She was head and shoulders above the rest at the beginning - as someone caring, an idealist, a leader. She passed through the skies of Sdot Yam like a comet - she appeared, she blazed and she was extinguished."

"One of the reasons Szenes set out on the mission in Europe - and in my opinion this strengthens the mission, not the other way around, as might be interpreted - was that she felt so frustrated, empty, lost, disappointed, and she saw it as a possibility for fulfilling herself and contributing," says Glick. "This was a mission ... which combined the personal with the collective."

Glick stresses that she does not address the question of whether the paratroops' mission was the right thing to do, a controversy of considerable interest to historians, nor with the idea of heroism: "I want to reveal how the story of her life was tragic, not the story of her death. The story of immigration, not heroism."

In fact, according Glick, the commemoration of Szenes as a symbol and a myth has been to her detriment: "She is a figure who attracted a lot of attention, in part thanks to her writing. How can it be that she left such a large legacy and no one has bothered to translate, publish and research it? There's a dissonance here between the exalted heroine who shaped the nation's main educational ethos and the lack of real interest in her."

"It's possible to understand why Szenes has become larger than life," says Glick. "If we already have an exalted heroine, why do we need a frustrated immigrant? I don't want to say she wasn't a heroine, but the time has come to tell another story as well."

Glick, an editor and translator, grew up in Moshav Kerem Maharal, whose founders were Hungarian speakers. For her research, which she carried out at Bar-Ilan University under the supervision of Shilo and is slated to appear as a book, Glick translated parts of the Hungarian book "Hannah Szenes." She describes enchanting writing with humorous parts.

More than anything else, Glick wants to draw a portrait of Szenes the person, the creative young woman, the immigrant who found herself in a personal-political vortex, whose character and memory were expropriated for national purposes and have become fossilized since then. This charming and complex woman deserves much more.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

All But One Hamas Officials Removed from US Treasury Terror List, Allowing For Free Transfer of Funds from EU to Terrorists in Gaza


Banking may not be as “sexy” as spy-craft or military operations, but it is the bread and butter of terrorism. Without money, the bad-guys not only can’t buy guns, bombs, and missiles, they also can’t fund their operatives—from their intelligence gatherers to life-insurance policies for suicide-bombers.

It takes a lot of cash to get someone to blow themselves up. It takes a lot of credit and international bank transfers to purchase boatloads of munitions and import rocket components.

It takes international specialists (and their salaries) to plan airplane bombings and shooting attacks (don’t forget the Fort Hood massacre was carried out by a so-called “palestinian”!)

The fact that Obama is now allowing this transfer of funds in and out of EU banking centers by whitewashing the terrorist lists is not only stupid, but deadly dangerous.

Now Obama is working hand in glove with EU liberals who would like to see Israel destroyed, and who think that by making nice to terrorists, they will protect their own nation from terrorist attacks.

Tell me, Mr. Obama, how well did that work for the Spanish when they “made nice” to the terrorists, thinking they were safe from terrorism just before the Madrid bombings?

You don’t buy your way out of a terrorist target zone. They don’t want your money or your friendship: they want power. They only way to deal with terrorists is to dry up their assets and destroy their infrastructure—not provide a new funding source!

Every dead and injured victim of Hamas will be on your hands, Obama, and upon the hands of those in the EU who are funneling money to these terrorists.

Shame on you!



US Terror Blacklist Whitewashes Hamas, Enables Funding
by Shimon Cohen and Gil Ronen

( The United States Treasury has taken all but one member of Hamas off the international list of terrorists, thus enabling funds from the European Union to enter Hamas-controlled Gaza.

It is an open secret that large sums of money from the EU flow into Gaza in the guise of humanitarian aid and salaries for officials, but are actually funneled into the coffers of Hamas, which controls Gaza with an iron grip. This method of transferring funds into terrorists' hands could have been blocked by an international lawsuit, but according to journalist Avi Tarango, the United States Treasury has made this impossible by removing all but one Hamas man – Deputy Chairman of the Political Bureau, Musa Abu Marzouk – from the list of international terrorists.

The updated terrorist list, published last week, takes up 443 pages. However, according to Tarango, who went over the list, none of the tens of thousands of people who form Hamas is mentioned – other than Abu Marzuk, who resides in Damascus. The terrorist list is meant for distribution in the world banking system, where the transfer of funds to anyone on the list is prohibited.

Cleared for Funding
Abu Marzouk is listed as having been born in Gaza on February 9, 1951, and as bearing an Egyptian passport with the number 92/664. “While branches of Hamas appear in the list under different names, such as 'The Students of Ayash,' 'The Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza,' 'The Iz A-Din El-Kassam Battalions,' the rest of Hamas's men do not appear on the list at all,” Tarango said.

"Musa Abu-Marzouk's presence on the list means that whoever tries to transfer money to him personally will be rejected by the world banking system and be accused of funding terrorism, but the transfer of funds to any other Hamas man will not arouse suspicion,” he explained.

According to published reports and other sources, the journalist said, the EU sends millions of Euros every month to cover the salaries of 77,000 employees of the Palestinian Authority and about 70,000 recipients of welfare aid in Gaza.

“EU laws define Hamas as a terror organization and therefore the EU people need to verify on a name-by-name basis that none of the people receiving salaries and support is a terrorist,” Tarango said. “This is done by the EU's cash transfer mechanism, PEGASE, which verifies that none of the recipients of salaries are members of Hamas's police force or activists of the military wing of Hamas, by comparing the names as received from the PA treasury department with the list of international terror activists. However, since the newly-updated list contains no Hamas officials except for Marzouk, the European check will find nothing and the funds for Gaza salaries will be transferred in whole to the Gaza banks.”

Friday, January 22, 2010

Two Brits and a Greek National Arrested For Arson of Crete Synagogue, One American Still at Large


This arrest is in response to a series of TERRIBLE attacks on the ancient Jewish population of Crete and their synagogue. In this attack, hundreds of volumes of rare books and records were lost--a loss that can never be replaced.

My hear mourns for this loss, and I pray that the Greek authorities have arrested the right people, and that they will face not only Greek justice, but DEVINE Justice for their acts.

May Hashm be more compassionate than I would be.


Greece: Arrests made in arson attacks on synagogue
Friday, January 22, 2010
By Martin Barillas

On January 22, police apprehended three men who are accused of setting alight an historic synagogue on the Greek island of Crete earlier in the month. Two Britons and a Greek national were arrested, while a US citizen is also sought in connection to the January 16 attack that caused extensive damage to the roof of the 16th century synagogue, its computers, and thousands of precious books. Police have identified the culprits of two assaults on the synagogue as nightclub employees. The two Britons are in their early 20s while the Greek is 33-years-old. They will appear before a prosecutor next week.

Alarmed by the arson, Moses Constantinis of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, said "I can't say I'm happy now; they should have arrested them earlier, after the first attack and not leave the synagogue unprotected."

The Ets Chavim synagogue, in the seaside town of Chania, was set alight twice in 12 days. Serving also as a museum of Jewish life, the synagogue had not received any special protection following the first attack earlier in the month. Since December 2009, extremists described as “fascists” in the media have stirred up the local population. Even while the fascists’ activities had been little noticed, former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis (91), a native of the area, had voiced concern. “Chania is placing itself apart from the rest of Greece,” he said.

The Jewish presence in Greece goes back at least 2,300 years. And the Holocaust also touched the Aegean country when nearly all of the Jewish population of the northern city of Salonika (Thessaloniki) was deported by a specially organized train directly to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland where they were exterminated. At the beginning of the Second World War, the Jewish community in Salonika numbered 48,000 and is now nearly extinct. A monument to their memory was not erected until 1997 and is regularly denigrated with anti-Semitic graffiti and swastikas. On the island of Crete, the last 370 Jews who had not been exterminated there by the Nazis there were put on a ship in 1944 with German soldiers. The ship was bombed by the British. There were no survivors.

Fears of organized anti-Semitism have been piqued recently, not only by the arson in Crete, but also by attacks on Jewish monuments, houses of prayer and graves in Yannina, Volos, Athens, Salonika and Larissai.

The Kathemerini daily of Athens published three articles during the week of January 17-23 expressing concern over the violence and apparent official indifference. No attention to the attacks has been visible on local television and the Greek minister for civil protection has been publicly silent.

In 1995, Greek writer Manolis Rasoulis expressed contentment that Crete had been cleared of Jews, leading to a complaint by the Central Jewish Council in Athens. However, years later, Rasoulis visited Israel and found Greek music was popular there. He then expressed opinions much more sympathetic to the Jewish people. In Crete. Nikos Stavroukalis, the former managing director of the Jewish museum in Athens, completed his life’s work of restoring the synagogue at Chania. It was completed in 2000, despite resistance from local authorities.

Greece, the land where democracy was born, regularly struggles with extremist nationalists and anarchists. Anarchist youths have frequently rioted over the last twenty years and burned offices at Athens University while sometimes joining Socialists and communists in demonstrations against the US and Israeli embassies. Greece also had a homegrown terrorist organization known as ‘November 17’ that assassinated numerous prominent Greeks and US diplomats and soldiers for nearly 30 years.

Rabbi Angel on Shabbat Bo

Going and Coming: Thoughts on Parashat Bo, January 23, 2010
By Rabbi Marc D. Angel

When God first appointed Moses to return to Egypt to lead the Israelites to freedom, He used the word "lekh"--go. The word "go" is repeated a number of times during the early phases of Moses' work. Yet, once the plagues began to afflict the Egyptians, God ordered Moses with a different word, "bo"--come. This week's Torah portion opens with God telling Moses "bo el Par'oh", come to Pharaoh. What is the significance of the words "lekh" (go) and "bo" (come)?

The word "lekh" is a strong commandment. In telling Moses to go to Egypt, God ordered Moses to overcome his inertia. He needed to rally his strength and energy, and begin to move in a new direction. The word "bo" is a softer commandment. God invited Moses to maintain his momentum, to come to Pharaoh and demand the liberation of the Israelites.

For Moses to undertake his mission in the first place, he needed to be told forcefully: go, there's work to be done, overcome your inertia. Once Moses was well into his work, though, he realized that he would not quickly or easily accomplish his goal. There was much unpleasantness and pain, complaints from the Israelites and plagues on the Egyptians. It would have been tempting to lose heart, to give up. Therefore, God gave Moses words of encouragement: come to Pharaoh, don't worry, I'll be there with you.

The words "lekh" and "bo" have relevance to each of our lives. We may have great ideas and ideals, terrific aspirations; but unless we hear the internal word "lekh"--go--we might simply remain in our own dreamworld. Lekh means we have to overcome inertia, we have to mobilize our talents, energies and resources to achieve our goals. But once we've succeeded in starting on our way, it is so easy for us to lose heart. There are always obstacles in the way, costs to be paid, nay-sayers who harden their hearts against us. So we then need to remember the word "bo"--come, maintain focus, maintain the momentum, come to the goals which we have set for ourselves.

"Lekh" challenges us to break from the status quo, to move in new directions, to undertake great challenges. "Bo" reminds us to stay the course, not to lose heart, not to surrender to frustration and setbacks.

Come, let us reason together, let us join forces to create a better Jewish world and a better humanity. Let us go in strength, let us come to our goals in happiness.

***Please share the Angel for Shabbat column with your friends and neighbors. If you are not yet a member of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, please come and join us by enrolling at [1]; or by sending your membership contribution to the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, 8 West 70th Street, New York, NY 10023. Together we can do great things.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Power of Prayer: Flight Diverted Because of Tefillin

UPDATE 1/23/2010

Orthodox Group Calls for Better Training, Greater Understanding after Plane Diversion

NEW YORK, Jan. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Agudath Israel of America, a national organization representing Orthodox Jews in the United States, today issued the following statement regarding the diversion of a flight because of a misunderstanding of Jewish prayer protocols:

Today a U.S. Airways Express flight from New York to Louisville was diverted because an Orthodox Jewish 17-year-old wore his tefillin on the plane, prompting concern among passengers who were unfamiliar with this practice.

Tefillin, or phylacteries, are black leather boxes containing small sacred scrolls. They are tied to the arm and around the head with black leather straps during morning prayers.

For several years, Agudath Israel of America has worked closely with TSA to sensitize the agency to the various religious objects and practices of Orthodox Jews; this effort has been led by Rabbi Abba Cohen, Esq., Agudath Israel's Washington Director and Counsel. Agudath Israel has also reached out to airlines in America and throughout the world to promote a greater understanding of Jewish prayer rituals. Agudath Israel has advocated for, and continues to support, enhanced training for flight attendants.

"To facilitate training and awareness, we recently created a brochure explaining Orthodox customs for individual airlines, and would be happy to share this brochure with other airlines upon request," said Rabbi A. D. Motzen, Agudath Israel's Ohio regional director who oversaw that project.

"At the same time," said Rabbi Mark Kalish, national director of government affairs for Agudath Israel of America, "we have also cautioned members of our own community that they must understand that many citizens may not be familiar with Jewish prayer rituals, and that they should explain the practice to individuals in authority before boarding planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transit."

Agudath Israel of America is fully aware of the challenges we face as a nation regarding the need to prevent terrorism and exercise extreme caution, but we hope that this incident will raise awareness among airline leaders, the traveling public, and members of our own community about the need for greater training and a higher level of understanding of Orthodox practices. An educated public, truly, is a safer public.

SOURCE Agudath Israel of America


This story represents not only a need to train our flight personnel in religious tolerance, but to train our news media as well. For goodness sakes, “a tefillin”??? And now tefillin is “a device.”

What the heck?

It is “tefillin” folks, not “a tefillin,” and yes, those tefillin boxes contain the most powerful substance the world has ever known: Scripture.

This 17 year-old boy was probably praying Amidah and couldn’t answer the flight personnel when they asked what he was doing. They freaked out and caused a major hassle—why? Because they have never been properly trained.

For goodness sakes, the TSA agents know what tefillin is and they get less training than flight crews!

Chautequa Airlines, how about a little training here? You are flying out of NYC—you know, home of HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF RELIGIOUS JEWS.

Wake up! You owe this boy a free round-trip airfare to anywhere he wants to go after this.

What Bozos!!


Plane Quarantined After Being Diverted to Philadelphia
Thursday, January 21, 2010,2933,583542,00.html?test=latestnews#
Fox News

A flight was diverted to Philadelphia from LaGuardia Airport after a passenger was reportedly mistaken for having a bomb.

The U.S. Air flight from LaGuardia to Louisville was diverted after a man allegedly strapped on a "tefillin," a device mistaken as an "explosive device," CBS 3 reports. A tefillin has two small black boxes with straps. One box is placed on the head and the other is tied to the arm.

A law enforcement official says the man questioned is not a threat.

The plane was quarantined in Philadelphia after a number of firetrucks and police officers met them on the tarmac.

Passengers were all safely taken off the USAir flight, run by Chautequa Air.

The airport is reportedly staying open and flights are not affected.

Famous US Jewish Astonomer Indicted as a Possible "Spy" for Possessing Hebrew Catalogue of Archeological Sites, Tourist Photos, Map of Israel


OH NO! A Jew visited Israel several times, worked to try to get contracts for an Israeli company by using his connections to NASA, and . . . Gasp! . . . was in possession of such SHOCKING items as a MAP OF ISRAEL, photos of ASSORTED PLACES IN ISRAEL, and he also had (are you sitting down?) . . . a Hebrew-language catalog of archeological artifacts!

Oh, and he forgot to report that he visited Israel! (Even though his passport was clearly stamped and he obtained a visa. Gee, that is what all spies do, right? Stand in line at Ben Gurion and get their passport stamped, obtain a visa, and drive around the country looking at archeological sites and snapping tourist photos????)


What we have here is a case of a middle-aged man who read too many spy novels, suggested to someone that he wouldn’t mind working for Mossad (Hello! If he was Mossad, do you think he would mention it to some busy-body??), and was implicated in a “spy sting” by the FBI, pretending to be Mossad, and asking him to obtain some documents for him.


He wanted to live a “secret agent man” fantasy, and for that, he lost his career as a world renown astronomer.

What did they indict him for, being stupid? That’s about all he is guilty of!

Seriously, if they did a sting operation on every middle-aged Irish-American Catholic who fantasized about working for the IRA, and every middle-aged English-American who fantasized about being 007 (especially if they had such damning evidence as a map of the UK, an English-language catalogue of archeological artifacts, and photos of rural England. SHOCKING!), or if they indicted every governmental employee who began working for a foreign company and tried to use their influence to win contracts for that company, then we wouldn’t have enough courts and lawyers for them all (and we would probably have to indict every person who ever served in congress and the senate!).

This is a complete crock. Why are they wasting their time, when there are some REAL spies, terrorists, and bad-guys to find???

U.S. Jew indicted as possible Israel spy
By Yossi Melman

New documents presented in federal court in Washington, D.C. reveal deep ties (more than was known) between Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Dr. Stewart David Nozette, an American astronomer accused of spying for Israel.

The media here covered his arrest on October 19, 2009 and then interest waned, though the American media are still monitoring the case.

Two attorneys in the counterespionage unit of the U.S. Department's of Justice National Security division, Deborah Curtis and Heather Schmidt, presented documents found on the scientist's computer. One document, titled "Proposed Operations for 2005-2006," referred to the need to carry out "a penetration of NASA," the U.S. space agency.

Another document, according to the prosecution, shows Nozette attempted to obtain highly confidential material by using his high-level security clearance and infiltrating other people's computers.

Other documents mention the names of Yossi Weiss and Yossi Fishman. Weiss is a former project manager and today the deputy CEO of IAI and head of the company's missile and space division. Fishman was the IAI's representative in the U.S. and is today the CEO of ODF Optronics.

Fishman told Haaretz he knew Nozette the way he knew other Americans employed by the IAI at the time as consultants. "We did not engage in any kind of spying activity or information gathering, perish the thought. The relationship was business as usual."

The IAI is not mentioned specifically by name in the documents. It is referred to as a foreign company or as a space company owned by the Israeli government." Background talks with administration officials indicate the references are indeed to IAI.

Unreported visits
The indictment and the documents indicate that Nozette was employed for nine years as an IAI consultant. Versions vary as to how much he was paid, from $170,000 to $225,000. His direct superior was Israel Aircraft Industries International, a U.S.-registered company.

The FBI searched Nozette's home and computer and found additional proof of his connection to Israel. He visited here several times, but did not report this - as is required by his high security clearance. The FBI confiscated letters he wrote to Israelis, reports he forwarded to the IAI, a map of Israel, photos of assorted places in Israel, a Hebrew-language catalog of archaeological artifacts and other items.

Nozette, 52, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, was arrested after FBI surveillance that included wiretapping and undercover photography. The operation followed the former astronomer's interrogation on suspicion of tax evasion and defrauding the U.S. government. Nozette worked out plea bargain with the Justice Department; he admitted to fraud and accepted a sentence of up to three years in jail, plus a fine of $265,000. His jail term would have started in November, but he was arrested on the new and more serious charge of espionage.

Nozette, who was born in Chicago, has Jewish parents but there is no evidence he ever went to synagogue or Jewish community centers. His neighbors said he was "a Zionist" but without evidence attesting to this. From a young age, his interest was science. He studied at the University of Arizona and earned a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Immediately, in 1983, he went to work for U.S. agencies, including NASA, the Pentagon and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory near San Francisco, which focuses on nuclear weapons. By virtue of these positions, he enjoyed a very high security clearance. One of the important studies he participated in found water at the Moon's southern pole. Nozette subsequently left government work and set up a private company as a consultant to firms in India and the IAI. The latter continues to refuse, vehemently, to address this embarrassing episode, which apparently has not done damage to the company.

Nozette was not the only person employed by the company as a consultant. Over the years, the IAI as well as other Israeli defense-related industries operating in the U.S., such as Elbit and Rafael, hired as consultants dozens of Americans, mainly retired former army officers and senior officials.

Today as well, the IAI and its subsidiaries in the U.S. continue to do business there and to cultivate ties. It is rather clear to them, and this is indeed fairly routine business practice, that to obtain contracts and win grants from the U.S. administration, doors must be opened. For that, people with connections are needed to open those doors. This was one of Nozette's assignments. Against this backdrop he apparently tried (among other things) to help the "penetration" of NASA. IAI, which produces space missile launchers, satellites and other space technologies, hoped to win contracts and development grants and enter joint ventures.

While he was being investigated for fraud, Nozette told a friend he would be willing to work for the Mossad. This information, along with the fact that he was a consultant to the IAI, led the FBI to suspect Nozette of being a Mossad agent, or at least psychologically ready to be one. So a sting operation was set up. An FBI agent pretending to be a Mossad agent met with Nozette and asked him for information. Nozette reportedly agreed, supplied information and received $11,000. These contacts were documented.

The indictment does not mention Israel nor has the administration made any complaints. Nevertheless Israel since its establishment systematically conducted spying missions on U.S. soil - for around a quarter of a century. Primarily, it was nuclear and technological-military spying.

The Jonathan Pollard case brought an end to all spying activities; there is a clear directive from prime ministers, defense ministers, Military Intelligence chiefs and the Mossad on this matter. But the U.S. media and the administration officials have a hard time believing Israel on this subject, and the Nozette case does not contribute to clearing the atmosphere of suspicion regarding future intentions.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rifle Sights Used By US Troops Inscribed With References to Xtian Bible Verses

UPDATE 1/23/2010

No More Jesus Rifles

After ABC News Report, Trijicon Announces Plan to Remove Bible Codes from Gun Sights Provided to U.S. Military

More Photos
An ABC News report earlier this week revealed that the Michigan-based company, which has a contract to provide up to 800,000 scopes to the U.S. military, prints references to New Testament chapters and verses in code next to the model numbers of its scopes. The scopes are used by the U.S. Marine Corps and Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by U.S. allies in those countries, and for the training of Afghan and Iraqi troops.

"Trijicon has proudly served the U.S. military for more than two decades, and our decision to offer to voluntarily remove these references is both prudent and appropriate," said Stephen Bindon, Trijicon president and CEO in a statement. "We want to thank the Department of Defense for the opportunity to work with them and will move as quickly as possible to provide the modification kits for deployment overseas."

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said the Department of Defense "applauds the voluntary actions announced today by Trijicon."


This is a really interesting case. On one hand, it is a private company, and they can do what they want with their products. I can see how the company feels—they are expressing their right to religious expression—and the inscriptions are small and subtle. I also understand that the company wishes to aid the American soldiers, who are largely xtian, and feels they are doing something positive in that regard (i.e. they have good intentions).

On the other hand, the US military has been allowing (and continues to allow) overt xtian proselytizing, and this is just one more example of their willingness to look the other way when it happens. The inscriptions are small, yes; but it is also one more thing that can make those of other faiths feel less welcomed and less “American” than soldiers who are xtian. This can be bad for moral and bad for troop unity.

I am not sure of the halachic implications of using these sites—they obviously don’t render the gun an idol, but they do invoke the blessings of a foreign god . . . So, are they assur?

Too bad we have to ask this question.


Rifles used by U.S. troops include Bible verse inscriptions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Combat rifle sights used by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan carry references to Bible verses, stoking concerns about whether the inscriptions break a government rule that bars proselytizing by American troops.

Military officials said the citations don't violate the ban and they won't stop using the telescoping sights, which allow troops to pinpoint the enemy day or night.

The contractor that makes the equipment, Trijicon, said the U.S. military has been a customer since 1995 and the company has never received any complaints about the Scripture citations.

"We don't publicize this," Tom Munson, Trijicon's director of sales and marketing, said in an interview. "It's not something we make a big deal out of. But when asked, we say, 'Yes, it's there."'

The inscriptions are subtle and appear in raised lettering at the end of the stock number. Trijicon's rifle sights use tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, to create light and help shooters hit what they're aiming for.

Markings on the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight, which is standard issue to U.S. special operations forces, include "JN8:12," a reference to John 8:12: "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, 'I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life,"' according to the King James version of the Bible.

The Trijicon Reflex sight is stamped with 2COR4:6, a reference to part of the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," the King James version reads.

Photos posted on a Defense Department website show Iraqi forces training with rifles equipped with the inscribed sights.

The Defense Department is a major customer of Trijicon's. In 2009 alone, the Marine Corps signed deals worth $66 million for the company's products. Trijicon's scopes and optical devices for guns range in cost from a few hundred dollars to $13,000, according to the company's website.

Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says the biblically inscribed sights could give the Taliban and other enemy forces a propaganda tool: that American troops are Christian crusaders invading Muslim countries.

"I don't have to wonder for a nanosecond how the American public would react if citations from the Koran were being inscribed onto these U.S. armed forces gun sights instead of New Testament citations," Weinstein said. The foundation is a nonprofit watchdog group opposed to religious favoritism within the military.

Weinstein said he has received complaints about the Scripture citations from active-duty and retired members of the military. He said he couldn't identify them because they fear retaliation.

A spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which manages military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the inscribed sights do not violate the ban on proselytizing because there is no effort to distribute the equipment beyond the U.S. troops who use them.

"This situation is not unlike the situation with U.S. currency," said the spokesman, Air Force Maj. John Redfield. "Are we going to stop using money because the bills have 'In God We Trust' on them? As long as the sights meet the combat needs of troops, they'll continue to be used."

Capt. Geraldine Carey, a Marine Corps spokeswoman, said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement that "we are aware of the issue and are concerned with how this may be perceived." Carey said Marine Corps acquisition officials plan to meet with Trijicon to discuss future purchases of the company's sights. The statement did not say what the nature of those discussions would be.

Gary Tallman, an Army spokesman, said the service was not aware of the nature of these markings and its acquisition experts are investigating to determine if Trijicon violated any procurement rules.

Munson, Trijicon's sales director, said the practice of putting Bible references on the sites began nearly 30 years ago by Trijicon's founder, Glyn Bindon, who was killed in a plane crash in 2003. His son Stephen, Trijicon's president, has continued the practice.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

IDF, Zaka on the Front Lines in Haiti


I won't donate to the Red Cross. There are three good reasons for this.

The first is that the Red Cross doesn't support Israel. In fact, it is openly hostile to Israel and against the use of the Magen David Adom symbol. They constantly publish anti-Israel propaganda, and their ambulances are used regularly to shuttle terrorists around.

The second reason I won't give to them is because they are notoriously bad at properly administrating their money. During Hurricane Katrina, when the people of the world opened their hearts and their wallets to assist the Red Cross, the Red Cross mismanaged the money (so how can we be sure they will use the money for Haiti towards Haiti???)

The third is that the Red Cross knew there was a holocaust going on and reported that there was no holocaust--a report that has been used ever since by holocaust deniers.

So where do you give your money? Consider donating to Zaka. Here's a story about why:

Jan 15, 2010 20:10 | Updated Jan 17, 2010 1:06

Rescuers describe 'Shabbat from hell'


The large field hospital established by the IDF Medical Corps at 10 a.m. Shabbat local time was already treating dozens of patients four hours later, when its commander, Lt.-Col. Dr. Itzik Reiss, was able to take a breather and speak to Israeli health reporters via a conference call.

Children with severe fractures set only with cardboard arrived at the hospital for treatment. Some young patients had been freed from rubble but had to have limbs amputated due to severe gangrene, he said. Within a few hours, operations were performed.

The hospital has an emergency room, pediatric, orthopedic, internal medicine, obstetrics and surgery departments, clinics and other facilities. The delivery room and premature baby unit are prepared to function but have not yet received any women or infants.

The patients started arriving after a local hospital, unable to function normally, announced the IDF facility's existence.

Among the staff are Orthodox Jews who went to Haiti even though it was Shabbat. Reiss said they avoided performing unnecessarily tasks like shaving, but did everything needed to save lives. The military personnel are both regular army and reserve soldiers.

It was not clear how many desperate patients would reach the hospital over the coming days, he said. Reiss said he expected victims of infectious disease would start arriving soon.

Haitians were wandering aimlessly in the streets, Reiss said.

"It is very difficult. There is a bad feeling of destruction. It is very sad," he said.

The field hospital may continue operating under Israeli auspices after getting it restocked in two weeks, or it may be turned over to locals, he added.

Meanwhile, the ZAKA rescue and recovery contingent pulled eight students alive from the collapsed university building, after a 38 operation.

"You have to understand that the situation is true madness, and the more time passes, there are more and more bodies, in numbers that cannot be grasped. It is beyond comprehension," said Mati Goldstein, the head of the delegation.

The six-man team - four from Israel and two from Mexico - arrived in Haiti aboard a Mexican Air Force Hercules cargo plane, immediately after completing their work in recovery and identification in the Mexico City helicopter crash that killed philanthropist Moshe Saba and four others.

On arrival, the delegation was dispatched to the collapsed eight-story university building, from which cries could be heard.

After hours of work with rescue equipment provided by the Mexican military, the ZAKA volunteers succeeded in pulling the eight students out alive.

In a disturbing e-mail that Goldstein managed to send to ZAKA headquarters in Jerusalem, he writes of the "Shabbat from hell. Everywhere, the acrid smell of bodies hangs in the air. It's just like the stories we are told of the Holocaust - thousands of bodies everywhere."

Amid the stench and chaos, the ZAKA delegation took time out to recite Shabbat prayers - a surreal sight of haredi men wrapped in prayer shawls standing on the collapsed buildings. Many locals sat quietly in the rubble, staring at the men as they prayed facing Jerusalem.

At the end of the prayers, they crowded around the delegation and kissed the prayer shawls.

Due to the breakdown in communications in Haiti, the ZAKA delegation was unable to make contact before Shabbat with the IDF Home Front Command contingent that is now in the country.