This column will be a two-week one. We are traveling again, and won’t have access to internet. We have lots of meat in this one, so print the parts out you like to share, and take your time reading.We offer our prayers to the people of Haiti who are suffering due to the large earthquake, and to the thousands of people who have gone there to try to help the needy. From truck drivers to surgeons, - Including Israelis – people are doing the best they can to help.
BLUE STATE BLUES
We want to add our congratulations to the new Senator Brown of Massachusetts. Of course it’s still uncertain where all the Obama-care craziness is headed, but this is one more for the conservative side, though he lacks some creds we wish he had.
Now if he will only stay sensible and not catch Beltway Fever.
NEXT WEEK - THE FIRST THREE CHAPTERS OF
ONE TIME MESSENGERS - PREQUEL,
Our much improved re-write of our very first novel. Don't miss it.
1/21/2010 - Hard Rains; Missiles for Hezbollah; Egyptian War with Hamas?
HARD RAINS IN THE NORTH!
The rains are pouring down in northern Israel. Flooding in various places, and one report says that the concrete sewer caps have been blown off, providing geysers, but then, that’s a picture we don’t need.
Far better is the snow on Mt. Hermon. The skiers are happy. They can travel from the beach at Haifa to the ski resorts in just over an hour. What a place!
Mt. Hermon in the Spring (Ernie Moore)
Jerusalem has not received the rains that are hitting the north. Instead they have been seeing temps in the mid-sixties to seventy and lots of sunshine. That is great for the hardy tourists who go in the winter, but the natives are praying for rain, or the occasional snow storm. Oops. Thursday it is 48 degrees and raining.
Jerusalem Rainbow (Ernie Moore)
One of our favorite places in Israel is Caesarea. It is the best of the ancient and modern. In fact we found a poinsettia that is well over eight feet tall! When it is blooming it will take your breath away.
Golfers are anxiously awaiting the three million dollar renovation to the Golf Course, and then there are tour sites as well.
The hot and cold running aqueduct that is now only an artifact, but one that tourists flock to for great memento-photos is a must visit.
In the port area there is the coliseum where the Apostle Paul made his eloquent presentation to Israel’s King Agrippas actually said “almost thou persuades me to be a Christian,” from which phrase comes the sad Gospel song, “Almost Persuaded” – but lost.
One has to wonder what would have happened if the almost had been a certainty instead.
A giant earthquake deep sixed all the wondrous works of Herod the Great. If you visit, be sure to take in the multimedia presentation to the right of the restaurant areas where the dock juts out into the Med. It is certainly worth your time.
Also there is a holographic presentation of people who were famous in Caesarea. One is the Apostle Paul. Our friend Markus reminded us that Paul’s words are a marvelous presentation of Christianity. Amen!
Now to the latest find…
Medusa Sarcophagus (photo and following test courtesy of IAA)
“A unique archaeological exhibition has opened in Caesarea harbor: for the first time the general public can see an extraordinary 1,700 year old sarcophagus cover that is one of the most impressive ever discovered in Caesarea.
“The cover, which weighs more than 4 tons, is decorated with snake-haired medusa heads and joyful and sad-faced masks. These were taken from the world of the ancient theater where two kinds of plays were customarily presented: comedy and tragedy. The meaning of the Greek word medusa is “guard or sentry”; whoever looked directly at the mythological medusa would be turned to stone immediately. In antiquity they used to produce medusa reliefs on, among other things, tombs and various shields, in the hope that this would ward off the threat.
“Interment in large stone coffins (sarcophagi) was widespread in the Mediterranean basin in the second to fifth centuries CE. This funerary custom was first practiced among pagans and was later also adopted by Jews, Christians and Samaritans. The word sarcophagus is Greek in origin, meaning “flesh-eating”. The sarcophagus has two parts: a rectangular chest-like receptacle in which the deceased was placed and a lid. The sarcophagi were interred inside burial structures (mausoleum; pl. mausolea) or in rock-hewn burial caves. The residents of ancient Caesarea were buried in cemeteries that were located in regions outside the built-up area of the city.
“The impressive sarcophagus cover, which was probably used in the burial of one of Caesarea’s wealthiest denizens in the Roman period, is one of an assortment of unique stone items that were exposed in archaeological excavations and by other means in Caesarea. The items constitute living and tangible evidence of the lives of the rich in Caesarea, at a time when the city was a vibrant Roman provincial capital.
“The Israel Antiquities Authority organized this exhibition together with the Caesarea Development Corporation and Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and views it as the first of many other archaeological exhibitions that will be held in the Caesarea harbor compound, based on the many artifacts that the IAA uncovered there over the years. Exhibition curator – Ayelet Grover of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Exhibit designer: Architect Boaz Kedar
“Another unique find presented in the new exhibition is an item that was part of a large magnificent building and which bears a dedicatory inscription by a woman who was apparently named Cleopatra. It seems that she and her son or daughter were members of a family of local nobility that donated the structure to Colonia Caesarea.
“Also on display here is a sarcophagus that bears an inscription written by Eliphis, a husband, who dedicated the sarcophagus to his beloved wife Manophila. The inscription also states that “man is not immortal and such is life…”.
“The inscriptions are a rich source of information for understanding the history of Caesarea in the Roman and Byzantine periods. We can learn from them about public life in the city; its institutions, political ties and personal relations, and about the city’s residents – their names, professions and religious beliefs. (Courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority)
Wanda and another Caesarea sarcophagus (Ernie Moore)
ISRAEL SENT IDF TEAMS AND ZAKA TO HAITI EARLY
I watched an ABC news broadcast this week as the reporter told how a Turkish team had just rescued a boy from four days in the rubble. As the youngster was pulled from the mass of concrete and dust and slid onto a back-board to get him to the aid station, there it was on the shoulder of the lead medic – the Israeli flag.
These teams go all over the world. Their experience in dealing with bombings and war have made them experts in recovery. ZAKA is the organization that is staffed by Orthodox men who are responsible for gathering every bit of human bodies when bombs or other tragedies strike.
I was on Rt. 443 one afternoon when a ZAKA ambulance roared by. My compatriot said, “Somebody’s dead. Bad things ahead.”
It was only a bit further on that we came upon the scene. A garbage truck had struck two tourist busses and four autos. “Bad” was an understatement.
Now they are in Haiti doing their sad duty along with so many from other lands. We pray for them as well as the people they serve.
AFTER 38 HOURS, THE ZAKA INTERNATIONAL RESCUE UNIT DELEGATION IN HAITI PULLED EIGHT STUDENTS ALIVE FROM THE COLLAPSED UNIVERSITY BUILDING ON SATURDAY
“ZAKA delegation head: “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.”
“It was a "Shabbat from hell" for the ZAKA International Rescue Unit delegation in Haiti. The six man ZAKA delegation (four from Israel and two from Mexico) had arrived in Haiti aboard a Mexican air force Hercules, immediately after completing their work in recovery and identification in the Mexico City helicopter crash.
“On arrival, the ZAKA delegation was dispatched to the collapsed 8-storey university building where cries could be heard from the trapped students. After 38 hours of work around the clock working with the Mexican military delegation and other Jewish volunteers from Mexico, the ZAKA volunteers succeeded Saturday in pulling eight students alive from the rubble. …” (courtesy GPO)
WHAT DO THE DEMS AND THE WEST BANK ARABS HAVE IN COMMON?
READ ON THEN WE’LL TALK ABOUT IT. (Obviously written before the election)
After Obama Rally, Dems Pin Blame On Bush
January 17, 2010 By Felicia Sonmez
As audience members streamed out of Pres. Obama's rally on behalf of AG Martha Coakley (D) here tonight, the consensus was that the fault for Coakley's now-floundering MA SEN bid lies with one person -- George W. Bush.
"People are upset because there's so many problems," Rosemary Kverek, 70, a retired Charleston schoolteacher said as tonight's rally wrapped up. "But the problems came from the previous administration. So we're blaming poor Obama, who's working 36 hours a day ... to solve these problems that he inherited."
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), speaking with a gaggle of reporters after the event, said that while state Sen. Scott Brown (R) offers voters a quick fix, in reality, the problems created by "George Bush and his cronies" are not so easily solved.
"If you think there's magic out there and things can be turned around overnight, then you would vote for someone who could promise you that, like Scott Brown," Kennedy said. "If you don't, if you know that it takes eight years for George Bush and his cronies to put our country into this hole ... then you know we have a lot of digging to do, but some work needs to be done and this president's in the process of doing it and we need to get Marcia Coakley to help him to do that."
(Curiously, Kennedy mentioned Coakley repeatedly during his remarks to reporters, each time referring to her as "Marcia," not "Martha.")
EDM – As I read the above news story I thought at first it was some kind of anti-Kennedy joke. But then I realized that, like the Arabs in the West Bank, Gaza, and some inside Israel, they are so fixated on blaming those who disagree with them that they just “don’t get it.”
Regardless of who is in charge of the government in Israel or of the facts of any situation, if you check the news, sooner or later there will be an Arab saying, “Well, this is evidently the result of Israel doing (or not doing) thus and such…” It is almost a genetic clue to their race.
And of course, the Democrat Party apparatchiks are the same way. The country has the worst unemployment, debt factor, and on and on, SINCE Obama took office. Still, the same old nonsense is spouted by these people who just refuse to learn that their massive takeover of government is not what a free people desire or need. They just want the government to get off our backs.
In Israel if the Arabs would take responsibility for their society, at least the parts for which they can bear influence, I can tell you that Israel would respond with more – not less – help and cooperation. But, like the liberals in the US, the Arabs are their own worst enemy.
BEFORE YOU WANT THEM TO CHANGE…
Let me give you some advice. Don’t wish for them to change. Just wish – and do what you can – to keep them from office and power!
Right now America (and Israel in a different way) can see the writing on the wall. The liberals are after power, not the betterment of the nation. They could have worked a hundred ways to help the health care situation without grabbing 1/6 of the economy. But they personify the “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you,” syndrome.
Don’t help me, get off my back and let me help myself. As for the parasites who empower liberals, they are for a free meal. When they don’t eat if they don’t work, some will return to whatever nation they came from and some will learn to work.
So much for my little sermonette!
ISRAEL’S UNMANNED SOLDIERS AND AIRFORCE!
It even involves robotic snakes, fighting machines, and other pieces not yet revealed. When I visited Rafael’s impressive plant and offices some time ago, it was amazing to see the tremendous imagination that goes into these inventions. One “door breaching” rifle was stunning, as I recall. Stunning, but not the top of the line in their production.
Some of their work has been in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan for years.
Later when we had lunch with the owners and officers of other companies, I mentioned that I wanted to know about anti-missile hardware for civilian aircraft. One kind man took the time to tell me what all his company was already doing about it, and invited me to a tour of their facility near Tel Aviv. You will find some of the information on Jake Crabtrees Gulfstream and Yossi’s Dassault. (From the series of thriller novels we write.)
JANUARY 12, 2010
By CHARLES LEVINSON
TEL AVIV, Israel – Israel is developing an army of robotic fighting machines that offers a window onto the potential future of warfare.
Sixty years of near-constant war, a low tolerance for enduring casualties in conflict, and its high-tech industry have long made Israel one of the world's leading innovators of military robotics.
Israel pioneered the use of aerial drones like the Heron, under construction… at Israeli Aerospace Industries.
"We're trying to get to unmanned vehicles everywhere on the battlefield for each platoon in the field," says Lt. Col. Oren Berebbi, head of the Israel Defense Forces' technology branch. "We can do more and more missions without putting a soldier at risk."
In 10 to 15 years, one-third of Israel's military machines will be unmanned, predicts Giora Katz, vice president of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., one of Israel's leading weapons manufacturers.
"We are moving into the robotic era," says Mr. Katz.
Over 40 countries have military-robotics programs today. The U.S. and much of the rest of the world is betting big on the role of aerial drones: Even Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite guerrilla force in Lebanon, flew four Iranian-made drones against Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War.
When the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, it had just a handful of drones. Today, U.S. forces have around 7,000 unmanned vehicles in the air and an additional 12,000 on the ground, used for tasks including reconnaissance, airstrikes and bomb disposal.
In 2009, for the first time, the U.S. Air Force trained more "pilots" for unmanned aircraft than for manned fighters and bombers.
U.S. and Japanese robotics programs rival Israel's technological know-how, but Israel has shown it can move quickly to develop and deploy new devices, to meet battlefield needs, military officials say.
"The Israelis do it differently, not because they're more clever than we are, but because they live in a tough neighborhood and need to respond fast to operational issues," says Thomas Tate, a former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who now oversees defense cooperation between the U.S. and Israel.
Among the recently deployed technologies that set Israel ahead of the curve is the Guardium unmanned ground vehicle, which now drives itself along the Gaza and Lebanese borders. The Guardium was deployed to patrol for infiltrators in the wake of the abduction of soldiers doing the same job in 2006. The Guardium, developed by G-nius Ltd., is essentially an armored off-road golf cart with a suite of optical sensors and surveillance gear. It was put into the field for the first time 10 months ago.
In the 2006 Lebanon War, Israeli soldiers took a beating opening supply routes and ferrying food and ammunition through hostile territory to the front lines. In the Gaza conflict in January 2009, Israel unveiled remote-controlled bulldozers to help address that issue.
Within the next year, Israeli engineers expect to deploy the voice-commanded, six-wheeled Rex robot, capable of carrying 550 pounds of gear alongside advancing infantry.
After bomb-laden fishing boats tried to take out an Israeli Navy frigate off the coast off Gaza in 2002, Rafael designed the Protector SV, an unmanned, heavily armed speedboat that today makes up a growing part of the Israeli naval fleet. The Singapore Navy has also purchased the boat and is using it in patrols in the Persian Gulf.
After Syrian missile batteries in Lebanon took a heavy toll on Israeli fighter jets in the 1973 war, Israel developed the first modern unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV.
When Israel next invaded Lebanon in 1981, the real-time images provided by those unmanned aircraft helped Israel wipe out Syrian air defenses, without a single downed pilot. The world, including the U.S., took notice.
The Pentagon set aside its long-held skepticism about the advantages of unmanned aircraft and, in the early 1980s, bought a prototype designed by former Israeli Air Force engineer Abraham Karem. That prototype morphed into the modern-day Predator, which is made by General Dynamics Corp.
Unlike the U.S. and other militaries, where UAVs are flown by certified, costly-to-train fighter pilots, Israeli defense companies have recently built their UAVs to allow an average 18-year-old recruit with just a few months' training to pilot them.
Military analysts say unmanned fighting vehicles could have a far-reaching strategic impact on the sort of asymmetrical conflicts the U.S. is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and that Israel faces against enemies such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
In such conflicts, robotic vehicles will allow modern conventional armies to minimize the advantages guerrilla opponents gain by their increased willingness to sacrifice their lives in order to inflict casualties on the enemy.
However, there are also fears that when countries no longer fear losing soldiers' lives in combat thanks to the ability to wage war with unmanned vehicles, they may prove more willing to initiate conflict.
In coming years, engineers say unmanned air, sea and ground vehicles will increasingly work together without any human involvement. Israel and the U.S. have already faced backlash over civilian deaths caused by drone-fired missiles in Gaza, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those ethical dilemmas could increase as robots become more independent of their human masters.
Rafael’s Skylite Drone (Ernie Moore)
THE POSTURING AND RHETORIC IS OVER, NOW BACK TO BUSINESS! (EDM)
Barak holds talks with Turkish FM in 'very friendly atmosphere'
Jan. 17, 2010
Yaakov Katz and AP , THE JERUSALEM POST
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Turkey's foreign and defense ministers on Sunday to try to repair ties between the allies that were further strained last week by a diplomatic row in which Israel was forced to apologize for its treatment of the Turkish ambassador.
Barak and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu held a three-and-a-half-hour meeting, which an Israeli official said was conducted in a "very friendly atmosphere." The official, traveling with Barak, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The defense minister later met with his Turkish counterpart, Vecdi Gonul.
The two were expected to announce the finalization a long-delayed multimillion dollar deal for the delivery of 10 unmanned aerial vehicles to Turkey. …
THE DANGEROUS NEIGHBORHOOD NORTH OF ISRAEL
This week an American source says that Syria allowed Hezbollah terrorists to train in Syria on the use of SA2 anti-aircraft missile batteries. This from a Kuwaiti paper.
In case you are wondering if this is just a toy, I would remind you that it was a Russian SA2 that shot down U-2 pilot Frances Gary Powers. It could wreak havoc with Israel’s airforce.
That indeed stirred up Israel. Their recon planes as well as combat flights cover Lebanon constantly, filming moves by Hezbollah as they prepare for the next war with Israel. Yes, I said “the next war with Israel.”
As sure as God makes little green apples there will be another war in the north. Why? Because if the terrorist leaders don’t allow their men to fight Israel occasionally they get tempted to kick the leaders out and become the new leaders themselves. That certainly won’t do, so they go to war. A lot of them get killed, which then causes the orphans and other relatives to hate Israel and makes for great recruiting to the future ranks of Hezbollah.
Syria of course, hates Israel. Consider that with all their anti-air defenses Israel two years ago took out the North Korean built nuclear facility. The jets with the Star of David have repeatedly done fly-bys over both President Assad’s palace.
And Arab nations love proxies. They get to attack Israel but they don’t lose face by having their own men killed or captured. They have the enjoyment of seeing Israel in someone’s crosshairs and the world’s nations cursing Israel again for its war-like behaviour.
And after all, Syria has the Russian hardware but not the guts to employ it themselves.
Israel has already warned Syria against “crossing the red line” by giving Hezbollah the missiles. What if they do? Expect Israel to attack both the locations of the missiles in Lebanon as well as take out lots of infrastructure inside Syria as well.
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU’D HEARD EVERYTHING!
Meir Dagan is an older man with lots of scalp showing. He is the Director of Mossad, and has more secrets than Elizabeth Taylor.
Though Dagan is not much like my own super-hero character, Yossi Cumi, this week the Egyptian daily paper l-Ahram said that the Iranian nuclear program “would have been successfully completed years ago” were it not for the Mossad Chief. The paper called him the “superman of Israel.”
It added that the steps taken by Dagan against Teheran included diplomatic action to embarrass the Islamic republic, action to fuel opposition protests, assassinations and covert attacks against nuclear facilities. Israel had no comment.
What’s going on? Egypt, like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and a host of other primarily Sunni Arab nations are terrified that Iran will get nuclear bombs and then proceed to threaten all the other Arab countries and attempt takeovers. Farfetched? Not at all.
Sunnis and Shiites are mortal enemies unless they are fighting Israel. After forty years of working with Israel, both Egypt and Jordan’s governments have learned that Israel is not the enemy, though they both go through the motions to slap Israel regularly to keep their population happy.
IT’S STARTED AGAIN.
When Benjamin Netanyahu was Prime Minister the first time, back in the 90s, the liberal media inside Israel went to war against Bibi’s blonde-haired, blue-eyed wife, Sarah.
She spent money like she was Cleopatra. She had a nasty personality and thought she was better than everyone else. She had a sharp tongue and used it too often. She criticized everyone. She even abused political power by getting favors from government employees to do her personal bidding.
Eventually Bibi left office. Not of course, just over Sarah’s attacks, but that contributed, we believe.
Now Bibi is back, and so are the attacks. Same ones, though this time, guess what – a proxy! A housekeeper for the Netanyahu’s is suing her for over 300,000 shekels; over $75K.
Will it work? Probably not again. But it is indicative of the rancor that has taken politics. If you doubt it, just ask Sarah Palin, another Sarah under attack.
It could happen. With Egypt’s construction of the buried steel wall it is erecting along the 7.5 mile border with Gaza, Hamas and the tribal chieftans in Gaza are furious.
What many folks don’t realize is that Gaza is actually a tribal enclave. Families, tribes, cousins and more cousins are gathered in villages, based on blood ties. It is the same in many parts of Israel, and Jerusalem, even. Hamas and other terrorist groups inside Gaza are loose affiliations of these groups, and organize their smuggling (for a fee no doubt), distribution of the hardware, and use of the missiles.
The vast majority of the consumer goods, drugs and weaponry come into Gaza through tunnels that would have made the Viet Cong drool. And not only tunnels. Concrete bunker complexes, according to one of our sources in the Israel Military.
Even back with Ari Sharon was Southern Commander this was a challenge. You will find more on this in his autobiography, Warrior.
With Egypt’s construction threatening to shut down the tunnel trade, Hamas and the other entities are furious. It has been a struggle between Hamas and Egypt for a while, with Hamas actually replacing Egypt as the chief negotiators in the Shalit prisoner exchange deal. They instead went with a German national. After that was when Egypt went to the underground wall.
Will Hamas go to war? It is entirely possible. Two weeks ago there was a “battle” at the border with one Egyptian policeman killed by Gaza fire and lots of Gazans with blunt force trauma.
I remind you that the Gazans have a well-deserved reputation for absolute craziness. Everyone knows it. The Egyptians don’t want Gaza, but with Israel having pulled out now (excepting the rare military exercise) it could well be Egypt who is forced to take the initiative and move their army into Gaza. Stay tuned.
Analysis: Planned southern border fence turns the screws on Hamas in Gaza
Jan. 12, 2010
Yaakov Katz , THE JERUSALEM POST
Israel's decision to erect a fence along its southern border with Egypt will, in the long run, curb the flow of prostitutes, drugs and illegal workers into the country.
In the more immediate term, it is another expression of Israel and Egypt closing in on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
The border's closure will prevent potential terror infiltrations into Israel via the "U Track" - dubbed such by the IDF's Southern Command - a reference to the crossing of terrorists from Gaza to Sinai and then back into Israel.
In the past year, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and IDF succeeded in thwarting several dozen attempts by terrorists to infiltrate into Israel from the Sinai Peninsula. A fence along the border would make these infiltration attempts even more difficult, if not impossible. This is already the situation along Israel's border with Gaza, where there is a fence.
The decision to build the fence, however, is not merely a move against infiltrations. It also is part of a larger Israeli-Egyptian strategy to turn the screws on Hamas and up the pressure on the terror group and its Gaza-based government.
This process started over a month ago at the height of negotiations for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Then, government officials poured cold water on Hamas expectations that following a prisoner swap Israel would lift the blockade over the Gaza Strip.
Next was Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's decision several weeks ago to begin construction of an underground steel barrier along the Philadelphi Corridor, which is lined with hundreds of weapon-smuggling tunnels, to curb the flow of weaponry into Gaza.
Work on the barrier has continued despite Hamas condemnations and violent demonstrations and will reportedly reach a depth of close to 30 meters. While this will not completely stop the smuggling, it will make it much more difficult for Hamas to dig tunnels since they will have to be deeper.
Egypt has also announced that it will no longer allow aid convoys to enter Gaza from its territory.
Next was the testing of the Iron Dome last week, during which the missile defense system successfully intercepted several barrages of rockets, including Kassams, Katyushas and mortars.
The message to Hamas from all of this is clear: the siege on Gaza will continue and even escalate from Israel and Egypt. In addition, in about six months, rocket attacks won't be as effective as they are today, since the Iron Dome system will be deployed along the border.
All of this together has put Hamas under a tremendous amount of pressure, and the IDF believes this to be the main reason behind the recent escalation in rocket attacks against the South.
While the rockets are not being shot by Hamas cells, Hamas is allowing other groups - such as Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees - to shoot into Israel and blow off steam.
IMAGINE! I AGREE WITH SHAS. – WELL, ALMOST.
I hate to admit it but I am old enough to remember the “blue laws” that closed most businesses on Sunday.
Obviously rooted in the Shabbat (Sabbath- which is actually Saturday not Sunday) history, it wasn’t possible to go to the hardware store, buy groceries, or other goods. The stores were closed. Families actually gathered on Sunday, and spent time eating Grandma’s fried chicken and mashed potatoes. (No Sabbath rules here with lots of chicken (meat) and mashed potatoes made with tons of butter, and milk. Perhaps even a bit of thick, rich cream (dairy.)
Still it was nice.
Now in Israel, with Shas, the Sephardic Jewish political party, gaining more and more power, they are trying to turn Israel from a democracy into a theocracy – with them playing God, it seems to most of us.
I agree that Shabbat is a wonderful, quiet day of rest in Jerusalem (though much of Israel doesn’t observe it as strictly as the capitol.) A nice walk, relaxing from the busy week. It is tremendous.
But I’m not for giving Shas the keys to the kingdom.
Shas: 'Close business on Shabbat to get license'
Jan. 12, 2010
Matthew Wagner , THE JERUSALEM POST
Closing one's business on Shabbat would be a condition for obtaining a business license, if Shas has its way.
Shas Chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced this week that he was supporting a measure being debated by the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, which is chaired by MK David Azoulai (Shas).
Shas's Shabbat initiative is being launched as the Finance Ministry and employers' organizations attempt to reform the business licensing process.
It also comes after Shas's spiritual mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said in his weekly sermon on Saturday night that Shabbat desecraters are "stupid" and "worse than animals."
Yosef's comments were made during a review of Shabbat laws.
According to the new directives being drafted by Shas, every new business that applies for a business license in the city where it is located will be requested to declare allegiance to the Work and Rest Hours Law, Yishai's spokesman, Ro'i Lachmanovitch, said Monday.
"We are not planning to change the status quo," said Lachmanovitch. "This has nothing to do with religion, either. It is a move that protects workers from being forced to work on the national day of rest."
Yishai's demand, however, might interfere with attempts by the Treasury and employers' groups to shorten and simplify the process of granting business licenses.
In principle, it is illegal to employ Jewish workers on Shabbat, though the Work and Rest Hours Law deems certain entities exceptions, among them the IDF; police and other security-related institutions; hospitals or other essential health services such as pharmacies; utilities; hotels; and other businesses deemed to be of essential need to the state.
Businesses in the last category must receive a permit from a special panel that includes the prime minister, the religious affairs minister and the industry, trade and labor minister.
Even in these situations, a worker is permitted to refuse to be employed on Shabbat and cannot be discriminated against by the employer, although his work conditions can be changed accordingly in a "reasonable" manner.
In reality, the law is not enforced. The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, which is responsible in principle for sending out inspectors to ensure that businesses don't operate on Shabbat, lacks the necessary manpower. In addition, fines against businesses are often too low to deter businesses that profit from staying open on Shabbat.
Although Yishai's spokesman did not say this, the new Shas initiative might introduce an additional measure intimidating businesses open on Shabbat - revocation of business licenses.
Uriel Lynn, chairman of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, who took part in the negotiations on the reform, warned Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz over the weekend that "if the changes in the business licensing law are approved, it will change from a law encouraging businesses to a law oppressing businesses, aimed at enforcing other laws relating to religious matters, labor laws, and so on.
"This will be another impossible burden on opening and managing businesses," he said.
However, a Shas source said that "it is terrible that in the Jewish state rapacious economic interests and the pursuit of profits take precedence over ensuring that no Jew works on the day of rest against his will."
REMEMBER, AMERICANS FOUGHT TO FREE IRAQ! TO THIS?
We came across an interesting article recently that is about eradicating the Prophet Ezekiel’s Jewish identity from Al Kifl, the small town south of Baghdad.
Erasing Ezekiel's Jewish identity
Jan. 15, 2010
KSENIA SVETLOVA , THE JERUSALEM POST
For centuries Jews, Christians and Muslims came to Al-Kifl, a small town south of Baghdad, to visit the tomb of the Prophet Ezekiel and pray.
The distinctive Jewish character of the Al-Kifl shrine, namely the Hebrew inscriptions and the Torah Ark, never bothered the gentile worshipers. In the 14th century a minaret was built next to the shrine, but the interior design remained Jewish. The vast majority of Iraq's Jewish community left some 60 years ago, but Shi'ites took good care of the holy site.
Recently "Ur," a local Iraqi news agency, reported that a huge mosque will be built on top of the grave by Iraq's Antiquities and Heritage Authority, while Hebrew inscriptions and ornaments are being removed from the site, all as part of renovations.
Prof. Shmuel Moreh of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, winner of the 1999 Israel Prize in Middle Eastern studies and chairman of the Association of Jewish Academics from Iraq, speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, confirmed the report.
"I first heard the news of tomb desecration from a friend of mine who is a German scholar. After visiting the site he called me and said that some Hebrew inscriptions on the grave were covered by plaster and that a mosque is planned to be built on top of the tomb. He told me that he found the changes at the tomb disturbing and warned me that I'd better act quickly, before any irreversible damage will be inflicted," Moreh said.
"I had contacted Mr. Shelomo Alfassa, US director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, and told him about this situation. Then I saw the report from the Ur news agency, mentioning the decision of the Antiquities and Heritage Authority to build a mosque and to erase the Hebrew inscriptions and ornaments," Moreh said.
He asked friends to check out the developments at the site. The most recent to visit the shrine said that some of the inscriptions are now hidden by a layer of plaster.
Iraqi press reports claim that the building must be destroyed because of its poor condition. However, Alfassa believes that Iraq's Antiquities and Heritage Authority "has been pressured by Islamists to historically cleanse all evidence of a Jewish connection to Iraq - a land where Jews had lived for over a thousand years before the advent of Islam."
According to the Baghdad-born Moreh, many of the Muslims who visit the tomb today are unaware Ezekiel was a Jew.
Iraq, the biblical Aram Naharaim, is rich in Jewish religious sites. Not only Ezekiel is buried there, but also Ezra, Daniel, Nehemiah, Nahum and Jonah. (Another tomb attributed to Ezekiel is located in Dezful, in southwestern Iran.)
Soon after the US-led invasion in 2003, Iraqi authorities indicated that they intended to take good care of the Jewish sites, which might become an powerful tourist magnet. In May 2009, the Tourism Ministry declared that it intended to preserve all of Iraq's heritage sites, regardless of creed, and would soon begin the renovation of Ezekiel's tomb.
But the future of Jewish sacred sites looks grim in the intolerant current climate of post-Saddam Iraq, where only eight Jews are left, the Christian minority is severely persecuted by the fundamentalists and ancient Shi'ite mosques are blown up.
"Let's hope that the Jewish sites will be spared, but someone must intervene before it's too late," Moreh warned.
AS we’ve reported previously this is building of mosques atop other religious sites is not news. It is standard operating procedure throughout the world. Let Arabs have their way and every Christian, Jewish, whatever religion’s sites will be trashed first, and then soon thereafter a mosque will arise from the ashes.
Eradicate Ezekiel, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Nahum, and Jonah? No, for the Word of God is ever strong and sharper than a two-edged sword. Islam will not conquer that!
YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE THIS STORY THAT WILL INFURIATE YOU, FRUSTRATE YOU AND AT THE SAME TIME, THE LAST PARAGRAPH WILL INTEREST YOU MORE THAN ALL THOSE PREVIOUS.
Guest Columnist: A forbidden visit to the Temple Mount
Jan. 14, 2010
DAVID KIRSHENBAUM , THE JERUSALEM POST
The day before the recent wedding of my daughter, Sharona, I had the awesome privilege of accompanying her, together with my son, Elie, to the Temple Mount. In addition to that much-anticipated visit, we had planned on spending the morning together, strolling the streets of Jerusalem, enjoying a father-daughter brunch and tending to last-minute preparations for the wedding. Instead, our visit to the Temple Mount was abruptly cut short and Sharona and I were detained until noon in a Jerusalem police station for actions deemed dangerous to the safety of the public and state.
Only hours after we were removed from the Temple Mount did I learn what it was that the police had determined made us public menaces. During separate questioning, I was asked, "Was your daughter swaying?"
Incredulous, I asked the officer to repeat the question, thinking perhaps I hadn't heard right.
"You know," and the good officer nodded his head back and forth, explaining, in a hostile manner, how that was quite obviously a provocative action and, therefore, an unlawful movement for a Jew to make on the Temple Mount.
AS I watched this officer bobbing his head and telling me why it was so bad and dangerous, what jumped into mind were the episodes in the classic M*A*S*H television series that mercilessly mocked the intelligence and shallow thinking of army brass.
But this was not comedy or satire. It was real, and it was sad. In fact, the shameful combination of the blatant racism of the Wakf, authorized by the government to monitor every movement on the Temple Mount of any non-Muslim visitor (in practice, the authority is primarily exercised in the case of those who appear to be religious Jews) and the craven police appeasement that my daughter and I experienced on her wedding eve surpassed that which I described in these pages in two recent columns ("Intolerance on the Temple Mount," September 27; "Where's the compromise over the Temple Mount?," November 1).
I suppose I should have been more mindful of the extent of the Wakf hatred and bigotry I described in the more recent article that responded to a Jerusalem Post editorial on the subject: "Even when a religious Jew simply pauses on the Temple Mount for the 'silent meditation and inspiration' [supported by the Post], this is often too much for the Wakf thought police." But while I had seen more than a few cases of an offending group being ordered to keep moving, I had never seen them taken to the police station for fingerprinting.
WHAT FOLLOWS is a brief description of actions by a Jew that are deemed a danger to the public safety in the State of Israel today. I was standing with my son and daughter on the north side of the Temple Mount, looking toward where the First and Second Temples stood. As we paused, I noted the astounding nature of just where it was that we were situated, and I mentioned the names of ancestors who, I said, must be looking down upon us with immense pride and joyful disbelief.
It was at this point that I heard somebody yell - either the Wakf member who was shadowing us the whole time or the Israeli policeman named Mahmoud - that we were praying. I later learned that by this time Sharona had already started her menacing movements, nodding her head in agreement to what I had been saying. I told Mahmoud that we were not praying (heaven forbid), and I continued. I explained to my children that while, for the time being, we were unable to pray out loud or in any formal way, prayer can also be done in our hearts and minds and that there could be no better place and time, especially for Sharona, standing as we were on the Temple Mount the day before her wedding, to think about the Israeli captives and MIAs and those sick and wounded in dire need of healing.
A few seconds later we heard the yelling again about praying, Mahmoud called for backup, and Sharona and I were driven away to the first of our encounters with various members of the police. First there were searches, then separate questioning by a police investigator - in which Sharona was addressed in a most obnoxious manner - and finally a meeting with the police commander responsible for the Temple Mount area.
DURING THE discussions with both the police investigator and the Temple Mount commanding officer, it was extremely distressing to note the extent to which they had surrendered to threats of Muslim violence. I asked each of them what they would do if a Jewish group threatened violence unless Muslims were banned from praying at al-Aksa. Would they forbid Muslim prayer or arrest the Jews for incitement? I urged them to stop being so afraid and take seriously their mandate to enforce public order, rather than forbidding the most fundamental of civil rights to make their jobs easier.
The extent of the flagrant injustice in the current arrangement on the Temple Mount can perhaps be better appreciated if we were to consider a comparable demand made by Jews of the Saudi government to forbid Muslim prayer on Islam's holiest spot at the Kaaba in Mecca (no non-Muslim is even allowed entry to Islam's two holiest cities - Mecca and Medina), or a demand by Jews or Muslims of the Vatican to prohibit Christian prayers at St. Peter's Basilica. Both would be viewed as sheer lunacy and, of course, are inconceivable.
Only in the case of the Temple Mount do we countenance such extreme religious imperialism. And only with Islam do we indulge and accommodate the ludicrous historic revisionism that attempts to obliterate the historic Jewish connection and claim to Jerusalem, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem and Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, and even denies the very existence of the First and Second Temples.
THE JEWISH state, its government and security forces dare not allow threats of Arab violence to separate the Jewish people from its holiest spot. Nor will we give up on our belief in the clarion call of the prophet Isaiah that, one day, the Temple Mount shall be "a house of prayer for all nations."
When it became apparent that my daughter and I were going to be spending at least part of the day before her wedding in police detention, she was, understandably, a bit upset. I told Sharona that long before her children reached the age she is today, Jews would be praying on the Temple Mount in the kind of numbers they do today at the Western Wall. Then, she would tell her children the hard-to-believe story of how she was arrested the day before her wedding because her silent prayer on the Temple Mount was considered a danger to public safety.
The writer is an attorney in Israel and New York.
OH, MAHMOUD, YOU FUNNY GUY!
Claiming that Israel wants to murder him, and that they killed Arafat, his predecessor,
Mahmoud Abbas, head of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority has visions of grandeur.
First of all there is more evidence that Arafat died of AIDS than of Israel taking him out. Even Arabs concede that he never went anywhere without his bodyguard/boyfriend.
And why would Israel want to kill a man whom they has so marginalized that he was ludicrous as he lived like a rat in his ruined headquarters in Ramallah. Only in his own eyes was he the powerful terrorist chieftain.
And apparently Abbas suffers from the same visions of grandeur. Israel wants him alive and flopping around like a dying carp on a river bank. He cannot make sensible decisions. He cannot get over the fact that Hamas indeed wants him dead and the West Bank in their hands. He cannot stir the hearts of his own Fatah terrorist group and political party to win the hearts of the Arabs in the West Bank, much less Gaza.
Abbas is exactly the man the Israelis want in power for the Arabs. Ineffective, abusive of his power by surrounding himself with sycophants and corrupt cronies, whining about building homes – even for Arabs – inside Jerusalem and the West Bank. He is mocked by Arabs and maligned by Jews. Nobody but his own Arab brothers could want him dead.
AL QAEDA AND HAMAS WAR IN GAZA?
Stranger things could happen. We mentioned earlier the possibility of Egypt going in to Gaza. Believe me, if Hamas is defeated by al Qaeda, it is almost a certainty.
The following analysis by some of the sharper minds at the J-Post is worth a read:
The Gaza quagmire
Jan. 18, 2010
THE JERUSALEM POST
Since Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, and violently seized power in Gaza a year later, Israel has been seeking to expedite the Islamist group's demise without resorting to an all-out effort at military victory. The hope is that Hamas will continue to be denied international legitimacy and will gradually lose its capacity to run Gaza, and that an organization overtly committed to Israel's destruction will be replaced by more moderate leadership.
Hence the Israeli government chose not to order the IDF to oust Hamas from Gaza during Operation Cast Lead a year ago, and is instead maintaining an economic blockade on the Strip.
Now, on its side of the border, Egypt is tightening its siege on Hamas, constructing an underground barrier that aims to cut off the arms- and goods-smuggling tunnels that serve as a lifeline for the Hamas quasi-state.
Plainly, Hamas is worried by the potential impact on its capacity to proceed with its campaign of jihad against Israel, and its capacity to meet the needs of the Gaza populace. It orchestrated violent protests at the border earlier this month, including a gunfight in which an Egyptian soldier was killed, betraying the depth of its concern.
But despite protests against the Egyptian barrier elsewhere in the region too, Egypt has remained unmoved. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a perennial threat to the Mubarak government, and Cairo has evidently decided that Hamas's smuggling activities and the threat of increased Hamas influence in the Sinai Peninsula represent a challenge to Egyptian sovereignty.
At this point, there are few signs that the Hamas regime in Gaza is truly shaking. Indeed, Hamas proved all-too capable of restoring its rule even in the aftermath of the devastating impact of Cast Lead.
But were Hamas to begin to lose its grip, it is far from clear that the joint Israeli and Egyptian hope, of the return of secular Fatah rule to Gaza, enabling a new stability, is well-founded.
AMONG THE alternative Gaza succession scenarios, indeed, is the prospect of the flourishing of the Al-Qaida-inspired global jihadi camp.
This camp has been trying to establish a foothold in Gaza for years, so far with only limited success. It learned the hard way last year that its presence may be tolerated by Hamas only if it does not pose an open challenge.
Thus, when Sheikh Abdel-Latif Moussa used a Friday afternoon sermon at his Rafah mosque last August to declare southern Gaza to be an Islamic emirate - a first step in the process toward the al-Qaida goal of an Islamic caliphate - the Hamas response was brutal. Hundreds of Hamas gunmen stormed the mosque, firing rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns at the building, killing or injuring nearly everyone inside.
Global jihadis in Gaza have been licking their wounds ever since, trying to rebuild their forces without aggravating Hamas again.
According to one recent study, they have also attempted to solicit the support and recognition of the "official" al-Qaida network of Osama bin Laden.
The study, carried out by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and co-authored by former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) deputy director-general Yoram Cohen, said al-Qaida is proving reluctant to provide the would-be holy warriors in Gaza with its seal of approval… for the time being.
Although al-Qaida has long chastised Hamas for failing to look beyond Israel and link up with bin Laden's global war, it is also skeptical over the survivability and ideological commitment of global jihadis in Gaza, the study said. The jihadis remain hopeful, however, and claim to be plotting large-scale attacks in a bid to earn al-Qaida's approval.
Al-Qaida has proven its ability to move into the vacuum left behind by failed states, and convert territories with no sovereignty into bases for global jihad. For now, Hamas retains a firm grip on Gaza, and the prospect of its replacement by an even more radical entity, made up of a coalition of al-Qaida-affiliated organizations dedicated to bin Laden's global war, is remote.
But the ambition is certainly there. And the existence of so dark a scenario only underlines the escalated complexity of attempting to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when the Palestinian people are divided into two distinct, mutually hostile, geographic and political entities.
FLAILING AT FAYYAD
The Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority is Salam Fayyad. He is more or less a balanced Palestinian who sees that improving the lives of Arab citizens is wiser than making war on Israel which the Arabs cannot possibly win.
The problem with Fayyad is that there is no glory in getting a job, being regular and on time to work, owning a home and making payments on time. It is BORING!
How much better to swagger downtown with an AK slung over your shoulder and a pineapple grenade stuck to your belt! At least if you are under thirty. And get paid by the PA government as a “security force” member. That is how it works for lots of Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah members today.
Fayyad wants to change that. Dump lots of these shadow terrorists from the payroll, use the money to build roads, schools and hospitals. Show the Europeans and other Westerners where their billions in foreign aid is going, and of course beg for more.
These days are dangerous for Fayyad. Recently there was talk that he was a conspirator with Israel during the days of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. That could get him killed in the street like a rabid dog. This is not just talk. It has happened to scores of others.
Why would West Bank Arabs care? Because hating Jews is far better than hating Hamas.
These days of earthquakes in Haiti make for interesting talk. I heard an American grousing because more money and aid was already in Haiti than the total that went to New Orleans after Katrina. I don’t know if it is true or not. Truthfully it doesn’t really matter. Not all the money and aid is from American coffers.
But it does show one thing, which was also defined by the Brown win in Mass. Americans are starting to think about what is going on. About how the government is throwing money at things, and who is profiting by it all.
For years now many US citizens seemed to not understand that the government does not produce anything. Businesses produce. Government confiscates. That is exactly what taxes are. Confiscation of what has been produced by American citizens and businesses.
For years, too it has been the worker against the company. I remember an employee cussing a company of which I was a manager. I listened for a while, then I asked him, “And how many people do you employ?
“This company that you are mad at provides you a nice enough income that you can own your own home, two cars, and you even get to drive your service truck home at night instead of having to drive one of those cars to work each day. You have health care provided for you and your whole family at a fraction of the cost.
“You don’t provide a job to anyone, but you feel free to whine about the company that does that for you. Granted you work hard, and I know you do, because I watch you. I’m your boss. It just seems real ungrateful for a man to get his job, his work clothes, his income, and health coverage and then trash the company that pays for it all.”
What I got in return was an angry stare. When I pushed it a bit, he admitted that all I’d said was true. He had been repeating the last stupid statement he’d heard from someone else, not thinking for himself.
I have always believed that “you oughta dance with the one what brung ya!” In other words if you take the pay, you ride for the brand. You work for a company, then do your job, be thankful for what you’re getting, and have a positive attitude about it.
If the company is not delivering the pay, corrupt or otherwise not worth working for, then look for something else.
REMEMBER, the time to get a job is when you have one. In other words, don’t quit, then start looking for a job. No sensible boss wants to hire someone who wasn’t wise enough to keep a paycheck coming in.
The liberals feed the “class warfare” mentality. They want leaders and worker at each others’ throats. That is foolish. What it does is build a “welfare mentality.”
It is not a “right” for you to have a job, it is a privilege. If it is a right, then who has the obligation to provide it to you.
And what about someone who says you owe them a job. You know, if the shoe is on the other foot that it’s nonsense.
There are a ton of these little tidbits around.
THINK CREATIVELY. THINK FOR YOURSELF. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK IS A FACT.
Analyze it. What you consider true may not be true at all. It may be some slick political chatter invented to get you to vote in some way that will trash our free enterprise society.
America is the greatest nation in the world. I defy anyone to challenge that statement. But it didn’t become great through confiscatory taxes, having the government control all the output of the business community, or through socialist thinking in schools from kindergarten to post graduate university studies.
It is about time that more people who stand up and are counted like Scott Brown and Sarah Palin and yes, Rush Limbaugh and even the wacky Glen Beck are listened to. You sure won’t like all they say, or agree with some of the nonsense the last two put out (they are entertainers, first and foremost), but you will profit more from their philosophy than most of the politicians in either major party today.
Remember it is not politics that will rescue America. It is the godly principles in the Bible incorporated by godly, honest, and strong believers.
Thanks for reading our column. The first week of February we’ll feature a couple of chapters from the new rewrite of One Time Messengers – Prequel. I hope you enjoy it. It will be available for sale soon.
Genesis 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Psalm 25:22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.
Psalm 60:12 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.
Psalm 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.
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