Thursday, November 6, 2008

N.Y. Times' advice to Israel

Israel is becoming a nation at war with itself. The conflict is not just with militant Palestinians. Militant Jewish settlers in the West Bank clash regularly with Israeli police who remove illegal homes. Israeli security officials have warned of possible assassination attempts on peace-seeking Israeli leaders.

In September, Jewish militants tried to assassinate Professor Zeev Sternhell, a supporter of Peace Now, which documents settlement construction. Settlers are damaging Palestinian property in retaliation for government actions against the outposts.

The Israeli cabinet on Sunday branded the disturbances “a threat to the rule of law and order in Israel.” The situation is so bad that Ehud Olmert, the departing prime minister, announced plans to halt direct or indirect government financing of unauthorized settlements — roughly 100. Another 120 settlements are government-authorized. And any peace deal will inevitably require that the vast majority are shut down.

Mr. Olmert said he would increase the number of law enforcement personnel deployed in the West Bank and move against law-breaking settlers. It was long past time for the government to act. But we fear the measures are more symbolic than real.

Mr. Olmert’s announcement exposed the fact that despite repeated pledges to dismantle settlements, the government is still abetting them. Even if financing is ended, some experts say government services to the outposts like water and electricity will continue.

As a step toward peace, Israel must freeze all settlements and reduce the roadblocks in the West Bank that are strangling the Palestinian economy. To do so, the Israeli government needs the public support of American Jews and moderate Israelis against militants who seek political change through violence.

Israeli voters are expected to choose a new government in February. Mr. Olmert’s designated heir, Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister, failed to put together a coalition government for the right reasons: She refused the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party’s demand that there would be no negotiations on the status of Jerusalem. Such a commitment would have made any peace deal impossible. Ms. Livni’s chief rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, opposes immediate talks on a Palestinian state.

Israelis need a leader who can calm the forces that are tearing Israel apart and also negotiate a just peace. The new American president must be ready to fully support that effort. The lesson of the last few months should be clear to all. Israel will have no peace — with its neighbors or its own citizens — without a peace agreement.


  1. In summary:

    Israel needs to accept our recommended self-destructive policies. It needs to play nice with its enemies and oppress its most loyal citizens. Then we'll write nice things about them.

  2. In summaryII:

    Obama better remember to do what we (The NYT) say and what he presumably has been wanting to do along, and let this serve as an official reminder and guideline.

  3. Hey Garnel and RaP:

    When you send your OWN children off to die in an endless, senseless war against 375 million Arabs then you have the right to an opinion about whether or not Israel should make peace with her neighbors or continue to fight that endless, senseless war.

    As long as you (or your children) are safely sitting in North America or safely in the yeshiva, you are not entitled to an opinion.

    You do not have the right to be an arm chair General safe and secure in America sending the precious sons and daughters of other Jews children off to die as your pawns in a war game that affects you as much as a battle of the chessboard.

    G-d Forbid you or any other Jew should know the pain of losing a child.

    I'll live under Arab rule again ANY day rather than lose another Jewish child in a senseless, endless war.

  4. Enough is enough,

    1) I'm not in America.

    2) Under Arab rule, no Jewish child will lose their lives in a senseless, endless war. They'll lose their lives in pogroms and massacres, assuming there are no forcible conversion campaigns, but no wars.

  5. Enough is enough,

    1) I'm not in America.

    2) Under Arab rule, no Jewish child will lose their lives in a senseless, endless war. They'll lose their lives in pogroms and massacres, assuming there are no forcible conversion campaigns, but no wars.

  6. 16,450 Jewish children (18 year old soldiers are children) were killed in Israeli conflicts during the years 1948-1988.

    The 2006 Lebanon "incursion" caused 4262 Israeli civilians to be injured and 350,000 Israelis to evacuate their homes.

    Jews under Muslim rule lived a virtual paradise compared to those in Europe.

    And many Mizrahi Jews feel that they were much better off under Arab rule than in Israel.

    Did you serve in the IDF?

    Did you send your children off to die in the endless war?

    Unless you know what it is like to send your children off to die, don't ask other Jews to sacrifice their children for your "cause".

    My sons are out of Israel where they will stay. I want to dance at their weddings, not cry at their funerals.

  7. Are you really Jersey Girl under a different name?

    > Jews under Muslim rule lived a virtual paradise compared to those in Europe.

    Yes, in Europe we were fourth class citizens whereas under the Muslims we were third class.
    The myth that Jews had it good under Islam is a lie concocted by the Muslim world as part of their propaganda war against Israel and to cover up that it is virulent anti-Semitism driving their hatred of Israel, not anything political or for love of the so-called Palestinians.

    > And many Mizrahi Jews feel that they were much better off under Arab rule than in Israel.

    Yes, that's why they all ran to Israel first chance they got.

  8. That is not what my family who still live in Casablanca say.

    If Jews in Iran have it so bad, then why do they stay?

    Especially since Nefesh b'Nefesh has offered them 10k per head if they come to Israel?

    Mizrahi Jews did not run to Israel, they were expelled in retaliation for Israel expelling 800,000 Arab Muslims. And then there were the bombs in Baghdad and Cairo planted by the Mossad....

    But you will have to read the memoirs of former Mossad agent Naiem Giladi for that bit of history.

  9. Actually, I have a question, R'DE that I believe relates to the issues surrounding Jewish identity, please if you do not mind.

    Since the advent of Zionisn, Judaism has in many areas stopped being a religion and instead has became a nationality and this is now a part of our history, if you will.

    But how is it that now our Chief Rabbis have permitted Judaism to become not only a nationality but a political front?

    Aish HaTorah, thinly veiled under the Clarion Fund mailed 28 million anti Muslim DVDs to American households and paid for thousands of newspaper ads during the recent US Presidential election campaign in which one of the candidates was being accused of being a "secret Muslim".

    The Clarion Fund claims to be an "educational charity" under IRS 501 C-3 rules and is tax exempt (although many are challenging Aish and Clarion's non exempt status with the IRS now).

    There is also Aish's "Words Can Heal" organization of which Sen. John McCain is a co-sponsor (and now there seems to be evidence that the McCains are the source of funds for both of Aish's Clarion and "Words Can Heal" campaigns).

    A number of concerned Jews in the US have been trying to “follow the money” behind Clarion Fund’s anti-Muslim productions, Obsession and Third Jihad; including tens of millions of dollars provided for production and promotion of these DVDs.

    Raphael Shore, Clarion Fund boss and also director of Aish HaTorah, has refused to divulge the source of funding for these projects.

    But now we know, thanks to Evangelical preacher, O’Neal Dozier, who recently mentioned in one of his sermons that an Aish HaTorah donor funded his distribution of 325,000 copies of Obsession, as well as a separate video equating abortion with child sacrifice, as well as a new magazine, Judeo-Christian View.

    How can Aish HaTorah any longer, be considered a group devoted to studying Torah and bringing Jews back to their religion?

    When will our Rabbis begin to view Aish as a political movement and NOT as a Jewish organization?

    Will the day come when a man registered as a Democrat will be denied honors in the synagogue?

  10. What Do Aish HaTorah, Rabbi Irwin Katsof, Rick Davis, the Ukraine and John McCain Have in Common?
    Oct 25th, 2008 by Richard Silverstein

    Thanks to some interesting research by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous, I’ve pieced together some interesting speculative conjectures about relationships between Aish HaTorah and the McCain campaign. The reason I’ve done so is for several weeks I’ve been trying to figure out why Aish HaTorah and its anti-Muslim political front group, Clarion Fund would be using their films, Obsession and Third Jihad in thinly veiled attempts to help John McCain’s presidential campaign.

    Here are some of the interesting relationships I’ve uncovered:

    Several months ago Huffington Post reported that Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager and lobbyist at Davis-Manafort, not only consulted for the pro-Russian Ukrainian political party, but that he also had substantial real estate holdings in Ukraine which had done very well for him.

    One of Aish HaTorah’s founders is Rabbi Irwin Katsof, a billionaire international business consultant who also has substantial real estate holdings in Ukraine. Katsof runs several companies–the Doheny Global Group, AVest Ukraine, Dohenyavest, and Global Capital Associates. I have not yet been able to discover under what company name/s Davis has been investing in Ukraine or whether there is any overlap between his interests and those of Katsof. If there is, this would be an obvious reason for Katsof/Aish/Clarion to be advancing Davis’ and McCain’s political interests.

    The Doheny website publicizes a tour of Israel and the Ukraine to mark Israel’s 60th anniversary. “Special guests” on the trip that took place June-July, 2008 were Republican luminaries Tom Ridge, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and others. Clearly, Katsof-Doheny’s business dealings with Republicans are long and deep.

    John McCain and Joe Lieberman are honorary co-chairs of Katsof’s charity, Words Can Heal. In his book, Powerful Prayers, for which he collaborated with Larry King, John McCain was one of those noted Americans who contributed an “intimate prayer” which the authors explored. Clearly, Katsof’s relationship with McCain specifically is also “special.”

    Sarah Posner reports at American Prospect that a new group called the National Republican Trust PAC has been trumpeting the mendacious claim that Barack Obama has no right to run for president since his supposedly unfound birth certificate would show he was not born in the U.S. Also, it claims Obama would provide driver’s licenses to terrorists and illegal aliens. What’s interesting here is that a co-founder of this group is Peter Leitner, a long time Republican bioterror specialist at the Pentagon. Leitner, through his company, MaxWell Biocorporation, sits on the board of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council. Also, on this board is Katsof business partner (at Doheny), Jacob Rheuban.

    Will Evans has reported in greater detail on Leitner’s group at NPR.

  11. To Jersey girl of November 7, 2008 6:07 PM, I REALLY must compliment you on this investigative and comprhensive piece if research. Well done! And I mean it!

    However, I would point out one thing. While Irwin Katsoff is free to use his well-known and highly honed business skills and acumen to enrich himself and his partners as well as to enjoy the political freedoms of America and therefore he should not be tainted or "guilty" of anything because he, like tens of millions other Americans and certainly most Orthodox Jews to support McCain. That is not a "crime".

    Yet your efforts to cross the t's and dot the i's to somehow cause legal problems for Aish is really going way too far, when if you start digging deep enough you will find that almost all religious groups, your Sefardic ones included, have their ways of showing favoritism to the political candidates of their choice and somehow or other making sure that the same people who back the religious cause that YOU like also donate funds and hob-nob with the politicians that they approve of and want to see in office (and get favors in return from them of course) this is done all the time, so don't make Aish and Katsoff sound any different.

    But here's the thing, that in digging so deep for all the below-the-surface connections and alliances (and yes, as that old saying goes, politics makes for some oddd bed-fellows) from your tone and intentions it seems that you are on some sort of road to cause harm to Aish rather than cutting them down to size.

    Yes, Aish HaTorah people have been trained by Rav Noach Weinberg to be phenomenol fundraisers, the likes of which the BT and Torah world has never seen!

    They have the mentality of aggressive CEOs and CFs and not like that of humble midos-dikkke little kiruv workers. But the jury is still out on where their essentially selfish and self-focused actitivities will lead them and of what benefit it will be to the Jewish people. My prediction is that while they build exquisite facilities and produce a few hoky and joky-BTs-cum-Aish rabbis who raise lots of cash, in the end, it will all amount to gurnisht mit gurnisht, because the bricks of society need to be made up of lots of individuals and families that can create a functional social system and so far, Aish, with all its efforts has not done so.

    Just ask yourself. Where is there a significant community of Aish people? Not just hundreds of singles who come to their hip events or the dozens of teens that go to Israel on tours, but by now, with all the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS IT HAS RAISED in the last 30 years Aish should have created thousands of families of "Aish people" yet from what is known the numbers are very small in any given place that an Aish rabbi is active, since they spend so much time fundraisng and then the money gets sent to Israel and then it gets pumped into what? Their Internet and MP3 programs or tours around Israel or hosting parties or fat expense accounts for the rabbis and the staffs? They need to be held more accountable, and not be given a free pass by their donors who get mesmerised by all the sweet talk express to nowhere.

    Irwin Katsoff's rise to billionare status (did you really say billionare, wow, I had no idea, I mean, I knew he was bif Aish macher) is a good example of that type of Aish rabbi (even tho Katsoff resigned from Aish itself) yet this type of role-model and "heroR" this is poetntially very harmful over-all to Yiddishkeit and to kiruv when it all revolves around egos, celebrity status and celebrity connections, huge money, investments, and political alliances and dalliances all done by a cultish, secretive, non-accountable, arrogant and immature small group of people, rather than adhering to the classical idealistic ideals of the Baal teshuva that aims to bring all sorts of Jews into Torah Yiddishkeit.

    This is where Chabad trumps Aish because while Chabad also goes for those big donors and mega-bucks and political influence seeking, yet at the same time it has lots of room for plain ordinary people in its systems, like day schools, nursery schools, tezedaka programs, something that Aish sorely lacks. It's doubtful Aish can do it tho, since a Chabad shaliach and his rebbetzin can easily mutate on the spin of a dime from clergy, to fundraiser, to spiritial guide, hachnosas orchim provder, to social worker to community worker to teacher in thousands of locations, Aish rabbis have a much narrower range and repetoire which is essentially that oif fundraiser, jokester, and recruiter for Aish International in Jerusalem, and then start the cycle all over again when they have trageted and reeled in a big fish they have targeted and gets the "ego boost treatment" (an old Chabd trick) from them.

    So while Aish plays the game of elitist mega-buck "masters of the kiruv universe" (give Rav Noach credit, he has created super BTs) but these guys, like Katsoff somehow need to be made aware that they are flying too high, and it is not about their politics or busines which they are entitled to, but it is about their flying off into the stratosphere while not paying enough attention to the equivalants of the "yasom ve'almana" (I am leaving out the "ger" part for now because it's a hot potato issue in our age.) For heavens sake, why are they so cut off from the rest of the mainstream Torah world and in that way they resemble Chabad more than anyone else.

    I hope you understand what I am trying to say, and by the way, is there any way to get this message across to the Aish people or are they as mass-hypnotized as many Chabad people are?

  12. RaP: There have been several "investigative exposes" about Aish in the papers all over the country. I summarized from some of them.

    Aish's attempt to manipulate US elections made national news. I find this frightening with regard to increased Anti Semitism etc in the US.

    Although I agree with everything you have said above, I am still hoping that some of our Rabbis might distance the Jewish religion from both Aish's political activities and some of the things that Chabad does.

    Perhaps if our Rabbinic leaders could separate the cultism of Chabad and Aish from mainsteam Judaism, the Jewish people might be spared some suffering.


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.