Friday, December 19, 2014

EU has no legal right to recognise states - Nigel Farage and James Carver @UKIP

YNET: Palestinian boycott of Israeli goods faltering Economic boycott faltering due to lack of substitutes of Israeli products, and the dissipation of some of the anger toward Israel over the Gaza summer war.

WEST BANK – A Palestinian official has admitted that the Palestinian boycott of goods made in Israel is faltering, both because of a lack of substitutes of Israeli products, and the dissipation of some of the anger toward Israel over last summer’s fighting with Hamas in the Gaza Strip that left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead.

The boycott is part of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, which aims to make Israel pay an economic price for its continued control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

“There has been a decline in the boycott on some items – most of the Israeli food products are still being boycotted, but the main problem is fruits and vegetables,” PLO Executive Committee member and BDS advocate Mustafa Bargouti told The Media Line. “The boycott reached its peak during the war,” he added.

An Israeli government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed that the Palestinian boycott was having an effect on his country last summer.

“There were some days in specific areas where Israeli products were not purchased. These cases during Operation Protective Edge were caused and motivated by Palestinian business entities that had an economic interest in reducing the volume of the import from Israel,” the official told The Media Line.

Pro-Palestinian protesters at Woolworths (Photo: AFP)
Pro-Palestinian protesters at Woolworths (Photo: AFP)

At the same time, Coordination for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) has told The Media Line that following the Israeli-Hamas conflict, the numbers of trucks carrying Israeli products that entered the West Bank this year, 22,810 were fewer than in 2013 when the total reached 23,945.

This could be the reason why Bargouti, also the President of the Palestinian National Initiative (Al Mubadara), still classifies the boycott as “successful.”

However, the Israeli government official denied that the Palestinian boycott is having a real effect on the Israeli economy.
“The export of Israeli products to the Palestinian Authority areas continues normally,” he said.

Palestinian economists say it is hard to find accurate statistics on how much Israel has been affected by the Palestinian boycott, but they agree that enthusiasm for boycotting Israeli goods is declining on the Palestinian street.

"If the boycott of Israeli goods reached its peak during the war on Gaza, and was at 80 percent, now it is no more than 20-30 percent," Birzeit University professor Nasr Abdelkarim told The Media Line.

He said items such as water, gas, oil, electricity, were impossible to boycott. Total imports from Israel are $4.5 billion annually. He says $3.5 billion are things like electricity and water that the Palestinians do not have the resources to produce themselves, leaving $1 billion of goods that could be boycotted.

“There were really no numbers in the beginning of how many people were boycotting,” Palestinian economist Jafar Sadaqa told The Media Line. He says the increase in West Bank residents using non-Israeli products was a reaction to what Palestinians see as Israeli aggression in Gaza rather than a “nationalistic decision.”

Settlement-made products marked in Ireland supermarket.
Settlement-made products marked in Ireland supermarket.

“From what I hear or see on the streets, the boycott campaign has lessened and regrettably the fear is that this was temporary due to the anger over Gaza,” he told The Media Line.

Palestinian journalist Mohamed Abu Resh says that this past Ramadan - the month-long Palestinian month of prayer and fasting, which often includes parties and feasting at night - was the most serious the boycott has ever been. Palestinians boycott Israeli goods as “a type of struggle against fighting the presence of the Israeli occupation,” he added.

Abu Resh says he thinks the boycott would have continued with full force had Palestinians been “consistent” in purchasing only goods manufactured in the Palestinian territories.

Omar Salah, who runs Abu Rami Stores in the West Bank village of Abu Dis, says his customers are still supporting the boycott, although they do not talk about it as much. “Today, the Israeli product has lost its credibility among the Palestinian consumer,” he told The Media Line.

He says Palestinians come in seeking alternatives from countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Salah, better known by his nickname “Abu Rami,” points to Israeli made Ketchup bottles sitting on the counter. “See those? I took those off the shelves today because they expired," he said. He says he orders what the customer wants.

“Monthly, I used to get ten boxes of Osem pretzels, now I just get two boxes,” he said pointing to the shelf that contains the Israeli snack.

Palestinian activists protesting at Rami Levy supermarket store against settlement products (Photo: Eyal Reuven)
Palestinian activists protesting at Rami Levy supermarket store against settlement products (Photo: Eyal Reuven)

When Salam Fayyad was the Palestinian Prime Minister, his government launched a campaign against “products from Israeli settlements only and not on all Israeli products manufactured inside Israel.” That boycott has since been extended, at least unofficially, to all Israeli products, without differentiating where they were made.

Salah says it’s not possible to do a complete boycott of Israeli goods. As an example, he says Palestinians have been unable to make a substitute for sugar free products.

During the Israel-Hamas fighting in Gaza, Ramallah resident Ibtisam Basim would go door to door asking residents to open their refrigerator and kitchen cabinets. If she found Israeli products, she would ask them to use Palestinian products.

“We always talked about boycotting but no one really took it serious until the Gaza massacre happened and people really boycotted and were happy to do so,” Basim told The Media Line. Four months later, she does not go house to house anymore but says her family is supporting the boycott of all Israeli products.

“I shouldn’t preach that everyone should boycott but I do admit it’s much harder for people living in the occupied Palestinian territories,” she said.

Bargouti agrees.

“It’s easier for outside countries to do so because they control their own market and because they have alternative sources. Here there are no substitutes,” he said.

Abdelkarim also says the momentum of international boycotts is growing.

Last month, the Leicester city council in England decided to boycott goods that came from Israeli factories in the West Bank because it “condemns the Government of Israel for its continuing illegal occupation of Palestine’s East Jerusalem and the West Bank” and resolves “to boycott any produce originating from illegal Israeli settlements.” Other European countries such as France and Spain are joining the BDS movements.

While Sadaqa says it’s “hard” to say how much the boycott even affected Israel, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon says Israel was never in danger.

“We were not facing a situation where we felt threatened because the whole thing is illegitimate, extremist and anti-democratic,” he told The Media Line.

But businesses were affected. Soda Stream, an Israeli company that makes and sells seltzer machines for home use, re-located its factory from the West Bank to Israel due to the numerous calls to ban it. It also means that hundreds of Palestinian employees could lose their jobs.

Nahshon says the boycott was “doomed to fail” and never stood a chance. Calling it “useless”, he says cutting Israeli products “only incites hatred.”

But Palestinian journalist Mohamed Abu Resh says when a peace deal is eventually struck between Palestinians and Israelis, a boycott will not be necessary.

“There will be two states where the borders will be clear, where both sides enjoy importing and exporting and where there will be justice. People would be racist to boycott Israel then,” he said.

The Video About Israel That Antisemits Wished They Could Have Banned It from Youtube Bill Whittle makes the historical and moral case for Israel, and shows just who, indeed, are the tyrants and aggressors in the Middle East…

Israeli Air force NASTY SURPRISE for Iran military

Another great idea for the Israeli air force this new bomb will prove very useful for the Israeli air force and will boost Israeli military power. The "SPICE" (Smart, Precise Impact, Cost-Effective) is an Israeli-developed, EO/GPS-guided guidance kit for converting air-droppable unguided bombs into precision guided bombs.

A derivative of the "Popeye" (AGM-142 Have Nap) air-to-surface missile, the "Spice" is a product of Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. It achieved initial operational capability during 2003, in Israeli Air Force F-16 squadrons.

The "Spice" munition is more advanced than most EO-guided bombs (GBU-15, for example), since it combines the advantages of satellite guidance (such as the ability to engage camouflaged and hidden targets; to provide a "drop-and-forget" option for several such targets simultaneously; and to operate in all weather and lighting conditions) and those of electro-optical guidance (such as the ability to provide "man-in-the-loop" guidance for extremely high precision; the ability to engage relocatable targets; lower CEP than that of satellite-guided munitions; and independence from external information sources like satellites) into one bomb – reducing the amount of munitions (and hence, payload) that an aircraft has to carry for a given strike mission, increasing its combat radius and maneuverability. This multiple guidance methods selectability is especially important in an "information warfare" battlefield, where an aircraft might approach a surface target while it is, for example, masked with smoke (in which case satellite guidance would be required) or moving around (in which case electro-optical guidance would be required).

Another advantage of the "Spice" is its ability to be fed, preflight, with up to 100 different targets it may have to engage. The one target it will actually engage may then be selected, inflight, by an aircrewman.

Since it has a total of 12 control surfaces in 3 groups (fore, mid-body and tail), the "Spice" has a very long glide range, of about 60 kilometers. This allows a striking aircraft to release a bomb at a target without entering the threat envelope of most short- and medium-range air defense systems which might protect it. This is achieved while saving the higher costs associated with propelled munitions.

Warhead: Mk. 83 (453 kg) or Mk. 84 (907 kg)
CEP: 3 meters
Guidance type: CCD\IIR with GPS\INS
Carrying-capable aircraft: F-15, F-16, Tornado
Spice 1000. An add-on kit for 1000 lb warheads such as the MK-83, BLU-110, RAP-1000 and others. The weapon has deployable wings similar to the JSOW and the SDB that substantially increase its range and facilitate the integration to light fighter aircraft.
Spice 2000. An add-on kit for 2000 lb warheads such as the MK-84, BLU-109, RAP-2000 and others.
Spice 250. A 113 kg (249 lb) glide bomb designed as a complete system rather than an add-on kit, with a stand-off range of 54 nmi (100 km; 62 mi).[1]

On the ground, an unguided bomb is fitted with a "Spice" guidance kit.

Still on the ground, each bomb's memory may be loaded with up to 100 different targets, complete with their image (usually acquired by imagery intelligence) and geographical coordinates.

The bomb is then loaded on a strike aircraft. In the pylon to which the bomb is attached there is a datalink between the aircraft's cockpit and the bomb.

As the aircraft flies in the air and approaches a target, either the Weapon Systems Officer (WSO – the backseater in such aircraft as the F-15E Strike Eagle or F-16I Sufa) or pilot (in single-seat aircraft) can use the TV\IIR display in the cockpit to see the image the bomb sends to him. Once he selected one of the preprogrammed targets, or fed the bomb with a target himself (by feeding it with either an image or geographical coordinates to home on), the bomb is ready for release into a guided trajectory.

Once the bomb is released, it begins searching its target in order to acquire it and home on it. This can be done in several ways:

First, there is pure CCD or IIR (for low lighting conditions) image matching, when the guidance section uses algorithms in order to match the target image in its memory with the image provided by the seeker, and align the center of the seeker's FOV with the desired image.

Second, if the CCD\IIR seeker can not acquire its target for any reason (such as visual obstructions), the bomb can automatically switch to GPS\INS guidance. This means that the bomb aspires to bring itself to the target's altitude at a known geographical location. The bomb receives data on its current location from GPS satellites, or from an inertial navigation system in the bomb itself, that has been fed, through the pylon datalink, with the dropping aircraft's coordinates a fraction of a second before drop, and can therefore calculate its own coordinates from the dropping time and on.
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Six13 - Chanukah Rights!

A Titanic Victory and a Small Cruse of Oil Eyes Fixed on Eternity By: Rabbi YY Jacobson

David Brooks, in an engaging article on Hanukah in the New York Times (The Hanukah Story, NY Times, December 10, 2009), sheds light on the brighter side of the Greeks who emphasized the power of reason and the importance of individual conscience and brought theaters, gymnasiums and debating societies to the cities. He also illuminates the darker side of the Maccabees, who liberated the Jews from barbaric Syrian-Greek oppression, but whose own regime became corrupt, brutal and reactionary. The Maccabees became religious oppressors themselves, fatefully inviting the Romans into Jerusalem.

While admiring the Greek contributions to civilization -- its politics, philosophy, art and architecture – it is easy to forget what Greek society was really like. Mr. Brooks fails to discuss the barbaric daily practices in the Hellenist culture -- infanticide, pedophilia, pederasty, the "Spartan Lifestyle," and the glorification of torture in many instances. None other than Aristotle himself, the teacher of Alexander the Great, argued in his Politics (VII.16) that killing children was essential to the functioning of society. He wrote: "There must be a law that no imperfect or maimed child shall be brought up. And to avoid an excess in population, some children must be exposed [i.e. thrown on the trash heap or left out in the woods to die]. For a limit must be fixed to the population of the state."
But let us focus here on the actual Hanukah narrative. A brief historical introduction is important.

The festival of Hanukah commemorates an extraordinary victory -- of the Maccabees, a relatively small and dedicated force of fighters, against one of the great imperial powers of classical antiquity, the Seleucid branch of the Alexandrian empire.
This story takes us back 2100 years ago, to the year 164 BCE, some 150 years before the birth of Christianity and two centuries before the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans. Israel was then under the rule of the empire of Alexander the Great. A Syrian ruler Antiochus the 5th ascended the throne and he was determined to impose his values on the Jewish people. He forbade the practice of Judaism, set up a statue of Zeus in the Temple, and systematically desecrated Jerusalem's holy sites. Jews who were caught practicing Judaism were tortutred to death. This was tyranny on a grand scale. Sadly, he was helped in this endeavor by two Jewish high priests, Jason and Menelaus, who assisted him in banning the Jewish lifestyle and turning the Temple into an interdenominational house of worship on Greek lines.
To put it into historical perspective, had Antiochus succeeded, Judaism would have died. Its daughter religions -- Christianity and Islam – would have, of course, never come to be.
A small group of Jews, led by the elderly priest Matityahu and his sons, rose in revolt. They fought a brilliant campaign, and within three years they had recaptured Jerusalem, removed sacrilegious objects from the Temple, and restored Jewish autonomy. It was, as we say in the Hanukah prayers, a victory for 'the weak against the strong, and the few against the many.' Religious liberty was established and the Temple was rededicated. Hanukah means "rededication."
This was a remarkable event and an extraordinary triumph. We, the Jewish people, are here today only because of the courage and vision of this small group of determined Jews who would not allow their G-d and their Torah to be reduced to the dustbins of history by the Syrian-Greek tyrant.
Yet astonishingly, the Talmud, the classical text of Jewish law and literature, gives us a very different perspective on the Hanukah festival.
“What is Hanukah?” asks the Talmud (Talmud, Shabbat 21b.) The answer given is this:
“When the Greeks entered the Sanctuary, they contaminated all its oil. Then, when the royal Hasmonean family overpowered and was victorious over them, they searched and found only a single cruse of pure oil that was sealed with the seal of the High Priest—enough to light the menorah (candelabra) for a single day. A miracle occurred, and they lit the menorah with this oil for eight days. The following year, they established these [eight days] as days of festivity and praise and thanksgiving for G-d.”
So, according to the Talmud, the festival of Hanukah is less about the military victory of a small band of Jews against one of the mightiest armies on earth, and more about the miracle of the oil. The Talmud makes only a passing reference to the military victory (“when the royal Hasmonean family overpowered and was victorious”), and focuses exclusively on the story with the oil, as if this were the only significant event commemorated by the festival of Hanukah.

This is strange. The miracle of the oil, it would seem, was of minor significance relative to the military victory. Besides the fact that this was a miracle that occurred behind the closed doors of the Temple with only a few priests to behold, it was an event concerning a religious symbol without any consequences on life, death and liberty. If the Jews would have been defeated by the Greeks, there would be no Jews today; if the oil would have not burnt for eight days, so what? The menorah would have not been kindled. Would the latkes taste any worse?
Let us grease the question with a contemporary touch.
Imagine that following the extraordinary Israeli victory of the 1967 six-day war, during which six Arab armies were determined to exterminate Israel and its three million Jews, a candle located in a Jerusalem synagogue would have burned for six days. Sure, it would have added a nice sentimental touch to the euphoria of Israel’s salvation, but would have this, rather than the deliverance of millions of innocent human beings from a second holocaust, been the cause of celebration? Would this detail even make it to the front page of the media?
Similarly, the burning of the Temple candelabra for eight days was, no doubt, a heart-warming follow up to a great victory. It was a demonstrative sign that G-d cherished the sacrifice of His children and had rewarded them with an astounding miracle. Yet it is clear that this was merely the icing on the cake, a coup-de-grace to a historical momentous victory on the battlefield. Yet the Talmud turns this minor detail into the decisive motif for the Hanukah celebration?
What is more, the miracle with the oil is the only element of the Hanukah events that we commemorate to this very day. We have no custom or ritual commemorating a miraculous triumph. What we do have is the kindling of a menorah for eight days, commemorating the fact that the oil in the Temple menorah lasted for eight days. How are we to understand this?
The answer allows us to appreciate the essential ingredient that has defined 4,000 years of Jewish history. The military victory was extraordinary; yet it didn't last. The dynasty of the Hasmonean family became entrenched in civil war and corruption. 210 years after Hanukah, in 68 CE, the Temple was destroyed, this time by the Romans. Jerusalem was plundered, Judea was decimated and the Jewish people exiled. It was the beginning of a period of Jewish powerlessness, dispersion and persecution which had lasted almost two millennia.
Unfortunately, the political and military victory of Hanukah did not last. What lasted was the spiritual miracle -- the faith which, like the oil, was inextinguishable.
Strength that is founded on military power alone is temporary. It may endure for long periods of time, but ultimately, its might will wane and it will be defeated by another power. Strength that is founded on moral and spiritual light can never be destroyed.
The sages who instituted the Hanukah holiday keenly understood this truth. With their eyes focused on eternity, the rabbis of the Second Temple era grasped that the timeless core of Hanukah was not the victory on the battlefield alone, but rather the fact that this military triumph led to the re-kindling of the sacred light and the moral torch. The military victory was an enormously significant event that we must be deeply grateful for. Yet what makes Hanukah a vibrant and heart-stirring holiday thousands of years later across the globe is the story of a little cruse of oil that would not cease to cast its brightness even in the darkest of nights and among the mightiest of winds.
David Brooks writes that “Rabbis later added the lamp miracle to give God at least a bit part in the proceedings.” He missed the point. The oil miracle constitutes the very foundation of the Hanukah holiday.
For more than two millennia, Jews have been gathering around their Hanukah candelabras, kindling each night an additional candle. As they gazed at the dancing flame atop their menorahs they can hear the candles sharing their story. It consisted of a simple punch line: The flame of Jewish faith, the flame of Torah, the flame of the Mitzvos, would never be extinguished. The candles were right: Judaism lives.
Imperial Greece and Rome have long since disappeared. Civilizations built on power never last. Those built on care for the powerless never die. What matters in the long run is not simply political, military or economic strength but how we light the flame of the human spirit, how we ignite the light of faith that brings more brightness and warmth to the world.

The Drasha Addressed to Napoleon Bonaparte

Yosef found himself in the dungeon together with Pharaoh's wine butler (Sar HaMashkim). He interpreted for him his dream: "The three clusters are three days. In another three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and will restore you to your post and you will place Pharaoh's cup in his hand as was the former practice when you were his cupbearer." [Bereshis 40: 12-13]
  Yosef then added the following words: "If only you would think of me (ki im zechartani) with yourself when he benefits you, and you will do me a kindness, if you please, and mention me to Pharaoh, then you would get me out of this building." [Beresis 40:14].

  The words "ki im zechartani" give the impression that Yosef is giving this dream interpretation SO THAT the Sar HaMashkim should remember Yosef to Pharaoh. This additional statement, introduced by the words "ki im zechartani," seems like a somewhat inappropriate insertion by Yosef. They are not part of the dream.
  We would unde rstand if Yosef appended a personal request for a favor to his interpretation of the dream and would have said, "By the way, I would appreciate it if..." However, this is not the way Yosef expressed it. Yosef makes it sound like the Wine Butler is getting out of jail SO THAT he will be able to intervene with Pharaoh in gaining Yosef's release from prison.
  Rav Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky, zt"l, once told me the following incident. When Napoleon had achieved one of his major military victories, he threw a party and asked all the assembled to say a toast. Everyone got up and said a few words but they left Napoleon unsatisfied. Napoleon had a close connection with the Jews. He knew that in this town there was a Rabbi. He told his servant to go summon the Rabbi to the party to say a few words on the occasion of his victory.
  The Rabbi was awakened in the middle of the night by Napoleon's servant and was brought in the chariot of the king to the banquet. Napoleon requested that he give a speech –- on the spot -- in honor of the occasion.
  What does a Rabbi know from politics? What does a Rabbi know from military campaigns? But a Rabbi knows the Parsha of the week. It happened to be Parshas Vayeshev. The Rabbi explained to Napoleon "pshat" (the simple interpretation) of the above-cited pasuk.
  The Rabbi said that when a simple person commits a crime and is indicted, prosecuted, and convicted of the crime, he can always appeal. But when an important person commits a crime and is indicted and prosecuted then his chances of appeal are far less. Why is that? In those corrupt times, the only people prosecuted were the downtrodden in society. The legal system did not start up with the elite of society. They only started up with those who could not defend themselves.
  If they are already indicting and prosecuting and convicting an important person, they must have the goods on him so badly that it was simply impossible to look the oth er way. The person must be as guilty as sin. Appeals will be worthless. If he were not guilty, they would not have started up with him in the first place. But sometimes, even for an important person, an appeal can help.
  But what happens if a minister in the government is indicted and convicted? What are his chances that he can appeal and be successful? Slim to none. Governments are hesitant to uncover their own corruption. If they are already prosecuting and convicting him he must be so guilty that appeals will have virtually no chance of success.
  For a minister who was convicted to be returned to the same position of power that he previously held is literally impossible. This never happens.
  Yosef spelled this out to the Sar HaMashkim. "Listen, you were guilty. You were convicted and you served time. But you are going to be restored to your original position and serve wine to the king again. That is miraculous. It can only be happening for one reason – s o that you will be able to remember me to the king. The Almighty wants to use you as the instrument for my release from prison."
  In other words the "ki im zechartani" [so that you mention me...] is indeed part of the explanation of the dream. This is the only reason that such a thing can happen.
  The Rabbi then turned to Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, and said: "Napoleon you have met military success the likes of which have not been seen since Alexander the Great. Why did you merit such success? You have merited it because you have been good to the Jews. You have extended freedoms to them that they never had in Europe. That is why all these successes have come your way. Whenever you are blessed with success, now and in the future, you should remember: 'ki im zechartani' – it is only because you have been good to the Jews in the past and so that you can be good to the Jews in the future."

‘Homely’ ancient rock adds evidence of King David’s existence

"House of David" inscription, part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Assyria to .." exhibit.

NEW YORK (JTA) — Dimly lit, the stone slab, or stele, doesn’t look particularly noteworthy, especially when compared to the more lavish sphinxes, jewelry and cauldrons one encounters en route to the room where it is installed.
Indeed, in a Twitter post this fall, art journalist Lee Rosenbaum described the nearly 13-by-16 inch c. 830 BCE rock, which resembles an aardvark or elephant, as “homely.”
What’s significant about this stone — on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of its “Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age” exhibit running through Jan. 4 — is its inscription, which is the earliest extra-biblical reference to the House of David.
“There is no doubt that the inscription is one of the most important artifacts ever found in relation to the Bible,” Eran Arie, curator of Israelite and Persian periods at the Israel Museum, wrote in the exhibit catalog.
The rock was discovered in 1993 by archaeologist Avraham Biran as part of Hebrew Union College’s excavation at Tel Dan, and, as is to be expected with a rock nearly three millennia old, the slab is missing considerable portions. Arie’s translation of the remaining 13 lines of text is full of ellipses and bracketed additions. What is clear is that the Aram-Damascene king Hazael brags of having killed 70 kings, including of Israel and of the “House of David.” (The round number, scholars agree, is probably exaggerated, although Hazael did have a reputation for being ruthless and successful.)
The breaks in the stone neither obstruct nor obscure the “bytdvd,” or House of David, inscription, which remains “absolutely intact and clear,” said Ira Spar, professor of history and ancient studies at Ramapo College in New Jersey and a research Assyriologist at the Metropolitan Museum.
Epigraphers and biblical historians agree almost unanimously that the letters “bytdvd” refer to the House of King David, according to Spar.
“While it is clear that David was king of Israel, the archaeological evidence for the extent of his kingdom remains unclear,” he said.
Despite its “extraordinary inscription,” the rock, a seventh century BCE “Annals of Sennacherib” that tells of a siege of Jerusalem mentioned in the Bible, and a 10th-century BCE “Taanach Cult Stand” that may feature a depiction of the Jewish God, have been “curiously” ignored in reviews of the Met’s exhibit, notes the Biblical Archaeology Society website.
Steven Fine, a professor of Jewish history and director of the Center for Israel Studies at Yeshiva University, agrees that the lack of attention is curious.
“It’s astonishing how little the Jewish press has noticed it,” he said.
Although the inscription has received scant attention, Fine says he has observed widespread public interest in biblical-era artifacts. When he led tours as curator of the University of Southern California’s archaeological collections in the 1980s, Fine reported hearing many “oohs” and “aahs” when he showed an oil lamp from the First Temple period.
“Why? Because they heard about King David,” he said.
“People care about this stuff. They don’t care about the Middle Ages that much. They care about biblical history … and it’s part of the grappling with secularization that makes this so important to some people.”
Even without this latest piece of evidence, Rabbi David Wolpe, author of the 2014 book “David: The Divided Heart,” said in an interview that there was near-unanimous consensus among scholars that David existed. But Wolpe, of the Conservative Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, added that “the size and scope of his kingdom were probably far less than was once thought.”
In the catalog for the “Assyria to Iberia” exhibit, the Israel Museum’s Arie wrote that the inscription’s matter-of-fact invocation of David’s name just some 150 years after his reign amounts to a “clear indication that the ‘House of David’ was known throughout the region and that the king’s reputation was not a literary invention of a much later period.” This, he adds, “clearly validates the biblical description of a figure named David becoming the founder of the dynasty of Judahite kings in Jerusalem.”
Fine also thinks that most scholars accept a historical David, but he notes that some — those who align themselves with what is known as the Copenhagen School of biblical interpretation — don’t agree that David is a historical shoo-in.
“These things go in a range,” he said.
Although archaeologists tend broadly to be uncomfortable with text, Fine says, some might say that if there is a King David, he is “just a name” about whom we don’t know anything, while others would view David through the “eyes of Jewish history” and law.
Fine says public interest in biblical-era artifacts is good for the field, even if it is sometimes oversimplified on popular television programs.
“There wouldn’t be a field if it wasn’t for all this interest,” he said. “All of us started as little kids with that kind of stuff.”

Read more:

Hanukkah menorah lighting at 2014 terror attack site in Gush etzion.

Hanukkah menorah lighting at 2014 terror attack site in Gush etzion.

It's Chanukah Night! [Official 2014 Video] by Lenny Solomon and Etan G - The Jewish Rapper

Joshua Bell: My favorite Violinist, he's a Master of his art form. This is an emotional, fantastic journey. The Holocaust, a violin, and our history

הכינור, סטראדיוואריוס נדיר, בידיו של ילד פלא יהודי מצ'נסטוחובה, פולין – ברוניסלב הוברמן
מגולל סיפור חובק עולם על גיבורים יהודים שהתייצבו מול הנאצים.
זיגמונט רולט ששרד את זוועות הנאצים בצ'נסטוחובה מספר על הקמתה של התזמורת הפילהרמונית הישראלית, סיפור ששזור בקורותיהם של ריינהרד היידריך ויוזף גבלס, של טוסקניני ואלברט איינשטיין.
סיפורם של אודישנים שקבעו את חייהם או מותם של הנבחנים.
את הסיפור מלווה מוסיקה שמיימית שמנגן הכנר ג'ושוע בל והיא כמו נכתבה במיוחד עבור סרט זה, על ידי יוהנס ברהמס.
במאי הסרט - חיים הכט
מפיק הסרט - רואי מנדל

A.Dershowitz: The Case Against Harvard Boycotting SodaStream

I write to commend President Faust’s decision to investigate the unilateral action of the Harvard University Dining Services to boycott SodaStream products. 
I have visited the SodaStream factory and spoken to many of its Palestinian-Arab employees, who love working for a company that pays them high wages and provides excellent working conditions. I saw Jews and Muslims, Israeli and Palestinians, working together and producing an excellent product that is both healthy and economical. 
The SodaStream factory I visited was in Ma’ale Adumim—a suburb of Jerusalem that Palestinian Authority leaders acknowledge will remain part of Israel in any negotiated resolution of the conflict. I was told this directly by Palestinian president Mohammad Abbas and by former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. 
Accordingly, although the factory is in an area beyond the Armistice lines of 1949, it is not really disputed territory. Nor does it pose any barrier to a two-state solution. Moreover, Israel offered to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians in late 2000 and early 2001 and in2008, but the Palestinian Authority did not accept either offer. Had these generous offers been accepted, the dispute would have ended and Ma’ale Adumim would have been recognized as part of Israel. So the Palestinian leadership shares responsibility for the continuation of the conflict and the unresolved status of the area in which SodaStream operates. Punishing only Israel—and Israeli companies—for not resolving the conflict serves only to disincentivize the Palestinian Authority from accepting compromise solutions.
The students who sought the boycott of SodaStream invoked human rights. But it is they who are causing the firing of more than 500 Palestinian workers who would like to continue to earn a living at SodaStream. As a result of misguided boycotts, such as the one unilaterally adopted by the Harvard University Dining Services, SodaStream has been forced to move its factory to an area in Israel where few, if any, Arabs can be employed. This is not a victory for human rights. It is a victory for human wrongs.
I have no doubt that some students and other members of the Harvard community may be offended by the presence of SodaStream machines. Let them show their displeasure by not using the machines instead of preventing others who are not offended from obtaining their health benefits. Many students are also offended by their removal. Why should the views of the former prevail over those of the latter? I’m sure that some students are offended by any products made in Israel, just as some are offended by products made in Arab or Muslim countries that oppress gays, Christians and women. Why should the Harvard University Dining Service—or a few handfuls of students— get to decide whose feelings of being offended count and whose don’t? 
In addition to the substantive error made by HUDS, there is also an important issue of process. What right does a Harvard University entity have to join the boycott movement against Israel without full and open discussion by the entire university community, including students, faculty, alumni and administration? Even the president and provost were unaware of this divisive decision until they read about it in the Crimson. As Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 wrote, “Harvard University’s procurement decisions should not and will not be driven by individuals’ views of highly contested matters of political controversy.” 
Were those who made the boycott decision even aware of the arguments on the other side, such as those listed above? The decision of the HUDS must be rescinded immediately and a process should be instituted for discussing this issue openly with all points of view and all members of the university community represented. The end result should be freedom of choice: those who disapprove of SodaStream should be free to drink Pepsi. But those who don’t disapprove should be free to drink SodaStream. 

Kesher Update - New Shiur for Chanukah - Kesher Shel Kayama Shabbos Chanuka - English

A new Shiur has been added to the Shiur-Line for Chanukah
To listen to the Shiur
In the US call 646-439-3000
In Israel call 072-224-3000

Ask your average person what the nes of Chanukah was - invariably the answer will be the following - how upon entering the Bais Hamikdosh the Yidden discovered that everything was made tamei by the Yevanim. However in the end, the Kohanim found one sealed container of pure oil - enough to burn for one day. Yet it burned on and on for eight days.
Examining the Tefila of Al Hanisim however, we do not any mention of the nes of the oil. We see mention of the military victory - many in the hands of few, resha’im won over by Tzadikim. The Yevanim tried to make us give up the Torah and Hashem saved us from their hands. Noticeably absent, is any mention of the small flask of oil that burned for eight days.
Explanation is needed.
Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz explains that without a doubt the most important thing that happened was that Hashem saved the Yidden. No more would we be at the mercy of the Yevanim and their evil decrees. The nes of the oil - while definitely something special wasn’t a necessity; after all, the Halacha is that when the entire tzibur is impure they are allowed to use impure oil. Besides, it had been some time since the Menorah was last lit in the Bais Hamikdosh….. Would it have been so terrible to wait until they procured pure oil to light the Menorah as proscribed?
Keeping this in mind the question returns. If lighting the menorah with Tahor oil at that time wasn’t crucial, why do we choose to commemorate the Nes of Chanukah with the Menorah?
Rav Chaim explains with a mashal. If one were to walk into a room and observe a woman changing a baby – it might be difficult for him to know for certain whether she’s a babysitter or the child’s mother - there’s no way of knowing. However if when she’s finished she gives the baby a kiss we can be sure it’s the mother.
A child has much to be thankful for - the mother changes the baby, dresses and feeds it - but that’s not what makes the baby happy and smile. It’s when the mother kisses the baby that he feels and appreciates his mother’s love.
So to with the Nes of Chanukah. There was no doubt that Hashem would save us. Hashem promised that the Torah would never be lost from the Jewish people. The pach shemen however was something extra - something that was not necessary for the survival of the Jewish people and yet Hashem gave it to us. A special kiss from our Father in Heaven, and it’s that kiss that clearly expresses Hashem’s love for us.
Of course we are thankful to Hashem for saving us from the Yevanim - and for that Chazal composed the tefilla of Al Hanissim. But for Hashem’s extra kiss of the pach shemen, we say thank you with the Menorah - by lighting a new candle every night and by going the extra mile to make this mitzva special - in appreciation of the Nes of the pach shemen, because that is where we see Hashem's love shining through.
The Gemorah in Shabbos tell us that the mitzvah of Chanukah is for each household to light one candle each night of Chanukah. A family who wants to fulfill this mitzvah “l’mihadrin” has everyone in the house light a candle every night. Those who want to perform the mitzva in a “mehadrin min hamihadrin” fashion start the first night with one candle and add a candle each night, lighting eight candles each on the last night of Chanukah.
We are not satisfied at merely performing this mitzvah in a “mehadrin min hamihadrin” way. One could use regular candles – but we try to find the best, purest olive oil, wool wicks, and of course a beautiful silver menorah!
Why do we do this? Where else do we find a concept of going so far beyond what is required by Halacha? One candle per night is sufficient for the mitzvah of Chanukah - yet we go on, seeking more and more hidurim to make this mitzvah as special as possible – and this is only a mitzvah d’rabanan!
Chazal tell us that when Klal Yisroel left Mitzrayim and entered the Yam Suf, Hashem performed all typed of spectacular nissim for Klal Yisroel; there were even sweets and delicacies available for the picking from the walls of the sea!
Here too we need to ask, why? What was the point? We just left Mitzrayim! Centuries of slavery were finally behind us! We saw the mighty Egyptians crushed by the ten plagues. As Klal Yisroel approached the Yam Suf even the lowliest maidservant was exposed to Nissim greater than those seen by the Navi Yechezkal. And yet, despite all these incredible miracles, the Torah sees fit to stress that we received candies!!! Who cares about candies when you just walked through the ocean?!!!?
However, the truth is that even after all these wonderful Nissim, Klal Yisroel might still be wondering “Why did Hashem take us out of Mitzrayim?”
There were two possible answers to that question. Either because Hashem has promised Avrohom Avinu that he would take us out and so He did, even if we weren’t deserving - because a promise is a promise. Or - possible reason number two; Hashem loves us and that is why He took us out of Mitzrayim – no more, no less.
Which would explain why He gave us sweets - those extra gifts that weren’t necessary. He did it for one reason, to show us His love. Hashem wasn’t doing this because He had to, but because He wanted to……. He wanted us to feel the love He has for us.
At that moment what did we do? We returned that very love to Hashem!
There is one mitzvah that Klal Yisroel tries very hard to keep, yet it’s a mitzvah that Hashem never gave us. We say it every day in Davening; “Ze Kali V’anveihu.” After Kriyas Yam Suf, Klal Yisroel sang Shira to Hashem and promised to reciprocate the great love that exists between us, back to Hashem.
Hiddur Mitzvah, Hashem never asked us to do this for Him, yet we do so on our own initiative and volition - to show Hashem that we love him, and we are happy to do His Mitzvos. More than that – we actually want to do His Mitzvos and are not merely doing so out of obligation.

And so when it comes to Chanukah we go above and beyond, to acknowledge the love that Hashem showed us and to try in our own small way to show him that we too love him. We take that small mitzvah d’rabanan and make it beautiful, adding a candle of oil every night – for each member of the family, not because we have to – but because we want to!
(Adapted from Rav Nissan Kaplan’s Kesher Shel Kayama)