Friday, May 1, 2015

Military Worries Over Troops' Use Of Social Media

File: Former Sgt. Talia Wissner-Levy at her desk. (Jonathan Ben David/IDF)
Israel - Israel’s armed forces see a growing threat in instant messaging applications—both to battlefield secrecy and to the privacy of women soldiers.
According to official military journal Bamahane, the number of troop indictments for sex crimes has almost doubled since 2012, with “infringement of privacy” counts, some involving the collection and sharing of compromising photographs, making up 35 percent of cases.
The journal cited, as one example, a soldier who photo-shopped the face of a female comrade onto an image of another woman’s nude body and pressed her into having sex with him by threatening to disseminate the image.
In another case, a non-commissioned officer was accused of surreptitiously photographing women in the shower.
WhatsApp, the instant messaging application owned by Facebook, has become particularly popular among Israeli conscripts in recent years.
The military’s chief censor, Brigadier-General Sima Vaknin-Gil, said WhatsApp messaging about the Gaza war last July and August was the challenge to operational security that prompted the most discussion in meetings she held at the time with her staff.
“Do I think WhatsApp is liable to be an acute problem in the future? Yes, unequivocally,” Vaknin-Gil told Bamahane, predicting the power of social media would require a review of official secrecy standards in the country.
During the Gaza war, the military said it arrested several soldiers for publishing the names of casualties over the application before next-of-kin could be formally informed. The Israeli military regards such breaches as a security risk as well as a humanitarian issue.
The military has also disciplined troops for allegedly racist comments on Facebook, and in the case of a group of women soldiers, for posting photos of themselves in underwear and combat gear.
Vaknin-Gil said effectively monitoring social media activity in Israel for breaches of military law would be impossible.
“First of all, it’s not under my aegis,” she said. “Secondly, you would have to expand the body called censorship dozens of times over in order to handle all of the existing WhatsApps groups.”
The military’s response appears to be mainly cautionary, for now, by playing up social media cases that lead to the stockade.
“This is a very troublesome phenomenon, and soldiers don’t understand how grave it is,” the chief military prosecutor, Colonel Udi Ben-Eliezer, told Bamahane. “The telephone is easily available, and therefore the crime becomes very easy to do.”

TABLET: How Will History Remember Netanyahu? Unpopular, undeterred, undefeatable. Master of the political machine. And soon to be Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. As Benjamin Netanyahu begins his fourth term, a look forward at his possible legacy.

We went to bed with Peres and woke up with Bibi, Israelis said of the 1996 elections, in which the young Benjamin Netanyahu eked out an upset victory over Shimon Peres. This time it happened again. We went to bed with what looked like a tie, which was surprising enough, and woke up with Bibi.
To say that this was unexpected is an understatement. “Nobody knows anything,” a friend of mine said in the Tel Aviv pub where we watched the exit polls come in. There seemed to be myriad possibilities, everything from a slim Center-Left coalition to a national unity government. But the next morning, we did know, and more decisively than ever before. The Likud party was six seats ahead of its rival, the Zionist Union, and guaranteed to form the next government.
I live, I freely admit, in the Tel Aviv bubble, where Netanyahu is, to say the least, unpopular, but none of us could be blamed for being shocked. Every poll taken before the vote indicated that Netanyahu was more or less finished, soon to be sent home by an electorate that had grown tired of him and genuinely desired a change in leadership. Instead, we found ourselves facing the fact that Netanyahu had not eked out a victory, but soundly thrashed his opponents, returning to office with a genuine mandate and more political capital than ever before.
Whether you think this is a good thing or not depends on your point of view. Certainly, the Obama administration has made its opinion on the matter quite clear. But however one views the outcome, there is no question that Netanyahu has now emerged as the dominant political figure of his generation, and the expression “Bibi, king of Israel” is no longer simple hyperbole.
Netanyahu arouses strong emotions in both his supporters and detractors, but it is impossible to argue with his success. If he survives for another full term, Netanyahu will become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister in 2018. And even if he does not, he has won three elections in a row, this time with a decisive margin that places him well ahead of even his most powerful rivals, no mean feat in the inherently unstable world of Israeli politics.
This is all the more remarkable because, in Israel itself, Netanyahu is not overly loved, nor even particularly popular. He is adored in certain circles on the Right, and certainly by American conservatives, but I cannot count the number of times Israelis have told me that they voted for him because “Who else is there?” Indeed, even when he has been personally unpopular, Israeli voters have consistently cited Netanyahu as the man most fit to be prime minister.
This contradiction can be seen quite clearly in the election results. Though his margin of victory was larger than ever before, it appears to have come almost entirely from those already committed to the Israeli Right. The poor showing of Israel’s smaller Right-wing parties bears this out. It seems that, fearful of a Center-Left victory, those who would normally have voted for Jewish Home or Yisrael Beiteinu bolted for the Likud, giving Netanyahu his lopsided victory. The Right itself is well aware of this. Indeed, in his post-election speech, Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett essentially thanked his voters for not voting for him. Netanyahu, in short, dominated the Right, but failed to achieve the national consensus that has consistently eluded him. They may vote for Netanyahu, but Israelis by and large remain ambivalent about him.
Part of the reason for this is simple aesthetics. In terms of image, Netanyahu, with his telegenic looks and aptitude for the art of spin, is a far more American-style politician than most of his predecessors. For the most part, Israelis tend to prefer leaders who are a bit rumpled in style. Yitzhak Rabin, for example, was famously unable to tie his own tie. Netanyahu looks like he was born into his.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a memorial service for the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, held at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, marking the 17th anniversary of Rabin's assassination, October 28, 2012. Photo: Kobi Gideon / Government Press Office / Flash90
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a memorial service for the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, held at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, marking the 17th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination, October 28, 2012. Photo: Kobi Gideon / Government Press Office / Flash90
In and of itself, this would not be much of a problem, but Netanyahu’s assiduously crafted image helps create the impression that he is, ultimately, a cynical politician rather than a statesman. His much-derided rejection of a Palestinian state on election eve, followed by his swift backtracking, is a classic example. Which is the real Bibi? How much of what he says comes from political expediency, how much from genuine conviction? Does he really mean anything he says? As one Left-wing Israeli told me, “The first thing you have to remember is that Bibi is a liar,” a sentiment that was famously echoed by President Obama and then-French President Nicholas Sarkozy, and likely in numerous foreign capitals. Even many on the Right quietly agree with this impression.
At the same time, however, what many seem like Netanyahu’s cynicism has served him—and Israel—well on numerous occasions. If he is anything, he is a master politician; a chessmaster of the highest level, as his come-from-behind victory last month proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. Faced with fading poll numbers, socioeconomic discontent, and a general sense of “Bibi fatigue,” the prime minister brought all his talents to bear at the last minute and prevailed. He did do it, in part, through scare tactics, as well as his now-regretted rejection of a Palestinian state and some indefensible remarks about Israeli-Arab voters, for which he has since apologized. But scare tactics are an ancient method of political persuasion, and few politicians have refrained from them should they prove useful.
Indeed, there is often a sense that, whether one loves or hates him, Netanyahu tends to get a raw deal. He is often derided and demonized by those who, in the end, are not much different from him. The universally beloved Shimon Peres, for example, was once referred to as “an inveterate schemer” by none other than Yitzhak Rabin himself. Even his latest victory was achieved by methods not dissimilar to those used by President Obama to win a second term: Go negative on your opponents, and do everything possible to pump up one’s electoral base. Yet Netanyahu is, for some reason, held to a different and, in some ways, impossible standard.
U.S. President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while walking from the Oval Office to the South Lawn Drive of the White House, after their meeting on May 20, 2011. Photo: Avi Ohayon / Government Press Office / Flash90
U.S. President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while walking from the Oval Office to the South Lawn Drive of the White House, after their meeting on May 20, 2011. Photo: Avi Ohayon / Government Press Office / Flash90
Netanyahu has also benefited from what his opponents find most distasteful: His relatively bleak view of the possibility of peace with the Palestinians. Whatever his real thoughts may be on a Palestinian state, Netanyahu was an early critic of the Oslo process, which ultimately collapsed into the second intifada. He was equally critical of the disengagement from Gaza, which resulted in continuing missile attacks on Israeli civilians and a series of ever more intense military operations. Whatever Israelis think of such policies, it is difficult for them to deny that Netanyahu was at least partially correct each time.
Nor can it be said that his tenure has been without success. Despite widespread discontent with the rising cost of living and economic inequality, Israel’s macroeconomic numbers are excellent. According to the U.N., its nominal GDP is higher than countries like Finland, Greece, New Zealand, and Ireland; while the International Monetary Fund places its per capita GDP higher than that of Spain, Russia, and India. At the same time, Netanyahu has maintained a fairly measured and careful security policy that, until last summer’s Gaza war, kept things relatively quiet. Nonetheless, it often seems as if his opponents are determined to deny him credit for any of this. Clearly, something about Netanyahu hits a raw nerve.
This attitude was perhaps most eloquently expressed by Israeli writer Ari Shavit as far back as 1997. “When all is said and done,” he wrote,
The truth is that we hate Benjamin Netanyahu so much because the hatred makes life easier for us. Because this hatred responds to our deepest emotional needs. Because hatred of Netanyahu saves us from having to deal with our own internal contradictions and errors. And because hatred of Netanyahu enables us to conveniently forget that before the bubble burst, we had acted like fools.
Indeed, perhaps Netanyahu drives his opponents mad precisely because of this: He has come to be associated with sometimes unpopular but often correct assessments of Israel’s security situation; and while his economic policies have resulted in general discontent, it cannot be denied that they have contributed mightily to Israel’s ability to stay economically afloat in an era of economic crisis and collapse. Even if only unconsciously, many Israelis associate Netanyahu with the possibility of at least temporary prosperity and security, something that, in a region like the Middle East, cannot be easily dismissed. Perhaps Netanyahu’s most fervent critics hate him precisely because they suspect he may have been right all along.
Or perhaps it is simply because Netanyahu is such a skilled and seemingly invulnerable survivor. Despite all the best efforts of his opponents, he refuses to be toppled. Love him or hate him, he is still there. The Israeli political system has devoured leaders as powerful as David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, yet Netanyahu has survived. It is impossible to disregard any politician capable of such a feat. In this sense, Netanyahu’s cynicism has served him well.
It would be a mistake, however, to dismiss or deride Netanyahu as just another cynical politician. His tactics may be cynical, perhaps more cynical than necessary at times, but the man himself is not. There is another side, the other face, of Netanyahu, which is that of an unabashed and passionate idealist.
In many ways, this idealism is an inheritance. His father, the universally respected historian Ben-Zion Netanyahu, was a stalwart of Right-wing Revisionist Zionism; while his brother Yonatan famously gave his life to rescue Israeli hostages in the now-legendary 1976 Entebbe Raid. When Netanyahu speaks of the Jewish state and his dedication to its safety and security, he is not simply playing politics. It is fair to say that he really means it, and his opponents are wrong to claim otherwise.
The strongest proof of this is his consistency on security issues. He has been speaking out for years on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, for example, whether elections were pending or not, and his position has not shifted in the slightest. He was one of the first world leaders to speak out on the Iranian nuclear issue, and from the UN to, controversially, the U.S. Congress, he has asserted that anything short of a deal that completely dismantles Iran’s nuclear infrastructure represents an existential threat to the Jewish state and, indeed, the world. In fact, it is not entirely an exaggeration to suggest that the enactment of consistently tougher sanctions on Iran is partially the result of both Netanyahu’s activism on the subject and the implicit threat that he might order a military strike if the issue is not resolved in a manner that ensures Israel’s security.
His critics tend to disregard all of this this in favor of charging him with engaging in cheap and manipulative tactics. Indeed, Netanyahu’s recent speech to Congress was widely attacked as mere electioneering. But this is highly unlikely. Netanyahu paid, and is still paying, a steep political price for it. The man appears to genuinely believe—and rightfully so—that a nuclear Iran is an existential threat to Israel, and acts accordingly.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint session of Congress for the third time, March 3, 2015. Photo: Heather Reed / flickr
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a joint session of Congress for the third time, March 3, 2015. Photo: Heather Reed / flickr
As mentioned above, Netanyahu has, for the most part, been equally consistent on the peace process. At the time the Oslo accords were signed, he called them a “historic blunder” that would only lead to further violence. Later, he warned that the disengagement from Gaza would result in a Hamas takeover and, again, further violence. He has been, for the most part, vindicated on both points, something that contributed mightily to his first victory in 1996 and his return to office in 2009.
Netanyahu’s numerous clashes with President Obama seem to stem from the same considerations. Whether one agrees with him or not, Netanyahu likely considers the concessions to the Palestinians that Obama has demanded as a genuine threat to Israeli security, and his defense in regard to his supposed rejection of a Palestinian state—that it would be inadvisable in a Middle East that is tearing itself apart—was likely sincere as well.
And it is this sincerity that makes him such a strange and contradictory figure, a bizarre synthesis of cynicism and idealism. At his best, he makes use of his cynicism in the service of his ideals. For the most part, he has succeeded. Indeed, in every confrontation with his domestic and foreign critics—including the Obama administration—he has emerged victorious.
Yet it is possible that, despite his convictions and his unquestionable political skill, Netanyahu may ultimately prove to be a tragic figure. His brinkmanship is high risk, and has come at a high price. The Obama administration’s intense criticism of him following his reelection, including a reportedly contentious phone call that was less congratulatory than hostile, may threaten Israel’s most precious strategic asset. And while his victory was decisive, the Center-Left opposition nonetheless emerged stronger than it has in years. It is entirely possible that, unable to resolve his own inner contradictions, Netanyahu may win every battle and lose the war.
And this may also threaten Netanyahu’s only unrealized ambition. An admirer of leaders like Winston Churchill, Netanyahu clearly wishes, on some level, to be a great man; to emerge from his tenure as a historical figure; someone who, in short, has changed the world, hopefully for the better. Netanyahu is a man of strong beliefs, and possesses the political brilliance to back them up. But throughout his relatively long tenure, the politician has tended to hold back the possibility of the statesman.
Whether Netanyahu will ultimately be able to overcome this remains an open question. Certainly, in regard to his two most prominent opportunities to do so—the Iranian nuclear issue and the peace process—success seems more remote than ever. To be king of Israel is by no means an entirely glorious task. Israel’s kings by and large came to bad ends, and this has often been true of the modern State of Israel’s prime ministers as well. Nonetheless, Netanyahu now has an unprecedented chance to change this; to prove that he does indeed have greatness in him. The question is whether the cynic will allow the idealist to achieve it.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

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THE BEST JEWISH ACAPELLA EVER! Chabadsker niggun! Berry Weber

Elder Of Ziyon - Israel News: Young Arabs worldwide say they love Israel and the IDF

Al-Monitor reports:

It all began as a personal project by a young Israeli Arab who lives in northern Israel. He wanted to use social networking to convince other Israeli Arabs that the Israel Defense Forces are not some “army of evil” and that its soldiers are not as bloodthirsty as they tend to be portrayed in Arab propaganda films. He soon learned, however, that in the digital age, there is no end to surprises. Instead of messages and responses from the Israeli Arab audience he was targeting, he began receiving messages of peace and love from young Arab men and women from across the Arab world.

M. is an Israeli Arab Muslim who served in the IDF. He spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. Last year, he came across a series of billboards sponsored by the Balad Party as part of its campaign against the recruitment of Israeli Arabs into the IDF. He decided to fight back. “I saw the signs that were hung in Arab villages, and I kept track of the Facebook campaign being run by activists of Balad and the other Arab parties under the name ‘TZaHaL ma bistahal’ ['The IDF isn’t worth it']. It infuriated me,” he said.

“Activists would show up in the main square of Shfaram with bits of rubble, as if the rubble were from Gaza. They carried big signs too, as if they were trying to say, ‘Look what the army that is calling on you to enlist is actually doing in the Gaza Strip.’ Some of the activists would even paint their faces red, as if they were injured, while they tried to relay their message of ‘Don’t enlist!’ to young Bedouin, Druze, Christians and Muslims. I decided to respond to them on Facebook, so I made a page called ‘TZaHaL bistahal’ ['The IDF is worth it'], but instead of getting responses from the young Arabs to whom I was directing my personal campaign, I started to get photos and texts from young people around the Arab world. My jaw dropped.”

The photos and video clips sent from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and other countries can be found on the Facebook page "BeTzaHaL" ("In the IDF"), and there are lots of them. One young woman from Saudi Arabia filmed a green Saudi passport. Her voice plays in the background, against a street scene in Jeddah, with a message for the people of Israel: “Good evening. I am a young woman from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. I am a member of one of the better-known tribes of the Hijaz, and I am showing you Darajeh Square, a famous landmark in Jeddah. I’d like to send a message of peace and love to Israel and its dear citizens. I know it is surprising that a Saudi Arabian citizen sends a message to the people of Israel, but it is a basic principle of democracy that everyone is free to voice an opinion. I hope the Arabs will be sensible like me and recognize the fact that Israel also has rights to the lands of Palestine.”

A young man from Iraq shot a picture of his passport along the Tigris River. “I want to send a message of peace and love to the dear Israeli people,” he says. “I decided to shoot this video and tell you, ‘True, we are two countries that do not have friendly relations, but that doesn’t matter. I believe that the number of people who support Israel here will grow consistently.’”

Other young people send M. photos of their passports with handwritten messages in Hebrew, Arabic and English. It is always the same: “We love Israel.” One Egyptian police officer took it a step further by including his police cap along with his passport in the shot and wrote in Arabic, “We love, love, love Israel and its army.” He even added a picture of a heart with a Star of David in the middle of it.

M. said that the whole thing began with a young Coptic woman from Egypt who emigrated to the United States, where she experienced racism and manifestations of hatred toward Copts. “I quickly learned that she also speaks Hebrew, like many young people who studied Hebrew at Cairo University,” he said. “So I said to her, ‘Why don’t you do a little something to spread the message, so that people in other countries will see and hear that there are other voices in the Middle East?’ She sent a photo of her passport, and pretty soon I started getting pictures of passports from all across the Arab world. The very next photo came from Iraq.”

M. also engages the senders in private conversations, which are not posted publicly. “After I got the video from Baghdad, I asked the person who sent me the clip what it was that caused him to express support for Israel. He responded, ‘You’d be surprised. I’m not the only one. There are a lot of young people here who think like me. Everything that is happening to us here in Iraq — the killings, the terrorism, the veritable bloodbath — showed us that Israel has nothing to do with it. There are many young people living in Iraq today who have no religion. They are fed up with the religious wars between Sunnis and Shiites and want to live their lives without religion.”

M. says that he has also been receiving messages from a young student in Jordan. A member of a prominent clan, she claims to have many senior army officers in her family. What impresses her most about Israel is its liberalism. “I was amazed to learn that they have gay pride parades and that single-sex marriages [performed abroad] are accepted there,” she confided to M. “She told me that although she realized that her sexual orientation is different, in a traditional society she cannot come out as a lesbian, especially since she is a member of a prestigious clan. All she can do is be envious of the fact that in Israel, just a few dozen miles from the Jordanian border, a whole different life is possible.”

Over the past year, M. continued to receive a daily stream of messages from young Arabs, shedding light on yet another aspect of the dramatic changes underway in the Arab world. Yes, there are wars, revolutions and a return to traditional religions. There are bloody struggles between Shiites and Sunnis and the Islamic State has risen. At the same time, however, many young people long for another reality, even if perhaps it cannot be implemented in their own countries. Syria and Iraq have been torn apart, Yemen is fighting the rise of the Houthis and in Egypt, young people continue to dream of how liberalism and democracy might one day beat back religious zealotry.

It is certainly possible that the phenomenon encountered by M. during his private protest is a fringe one, but in an era of open skies and open Internet, no leader, not even a dictator, can block borders once they have been breached.

The Facebook page has some great videos.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

David's Citadel from a different View

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It all began with an excited late-night phone call from my nephew, Aryeh Hager in Bnai Brak.

"Dodah Mira," they found the gravesites of your father and grandfather, he shouted. Speaking in Yiddish, he told me that a Rabbi Aaron Rotter, also of Bnai Brak, had been in the Ukraine searching for the gravesite of his parents and, coincidentally, had found the location of the graves of my father, Rabbi Baruch Hager (Z.TZL.) and my grandfather, the Horodenker Rebbe, Rabbi Yechiel Michel Hager (Z.TZL.) .

Actually, the story began more than half a century ago. I was born in Tchernowitz, at that time part of Romania. As a youngster, I was taken, together with my family, to the Transnista Concentration Camp in the Ukraine. Forty-five members of my family were taken to the camp and five of us survived, my mother, my aunt and uncle, my brother and myself. My father and grandfather had perished in the camp, both on the same day. 

At the conclusion of the war, when we were freed from the camp, we were taken to Israel. And I never knew where my father and grandfather had been  buried. I knew that it was somewhere in  the location of the Transnista Concentration Camp, but I never knew the precise location. Naturally, we were never able to put up a matzevah  . (monument)  at these graves.

My nephew very excitedly told me that his late father (my brother), Rabbi Moshe Hager, the Antineer Rebbe, had throughout his life always spoken about the fact that he wished he would one day be able to visit the graves of his father and grandfather.

Unfortunately, he passed away just a few years ago without ever realizing this dream. His son, Aryeh, however, was determined to visit the graves.

As soon as we heard this, my husband, Shmuel (Dr. Samuel I. Cohen, Executive Vice President of the Jewish National Fund) and I decided that we were going to join Aryeh in the Ukraine and, together with him, arrange for a Hakomas Matzevah (unveiling). We made all of our travel arrangements but, at. the last minute, my husband was unable to make the trip. My newly-married son, Michael, however did make the trip in his place.

We flew to Vienna and then to Kiev, and at the Kiev airport, we were met by my nephew, Aryeh, and a driver from the yeshiva in Vinnitsa, where Aryeh and Rabbi Rotter were staying. We drove for
4 1/2 hours from the airport, stopping at Babi Yar on the way, and saw the park-like areas that had once been soaked with blood in massive graves. During the drive, we passed through dozens of small villages and hamlets and realized that we were in another world; a primitive, impoverished countryside, totally unrelated to a metropolitan city like New York. In many of the areas there was no electricity, no lights, broken dirt roads, no automobiles, no public transportation, etc. As we drove to Vinnitsa, my nephew told us that he had brought with him a gravesite marker with the names of my father and grandfather that would be affixed to a cement block tombstone which would be put up sometime before Thursday. This meant that we would have to remain on until after Shabbos.

Late that night, after our arrival in Vinnitsa, we decided to do everything possible to try to have the Hakamos Matzevah on Wednesday.  In th middle of the night Rabbi Rotter, Aryeh and I met with one of the drivers from the Yeshiva and offered to pay him a substantial amount if he would drive us early Wednesday morning to see if it would be possible to have the matzevah put up earlier than planned.

We left Vinnitsa at about 3 A.M. and drove for about 4 hours to the site of what had been the Transnista Concentration Camp; drove, for the most part, on the unsafe roads, without any lights, and certainly without any direction signs. When we arrived at the Camp early in the morning, we were surprised to see that the workmen had already completed the matzevah for my father and grandfather and had already affixed the granite marker with their names.

I cannot begin to describe the emotions of the moment. After more than half a century, I was face to face with the graves of my father and grandfather.

Suddenly, for the first time in my life, I found myself talking to my father. With tears that never stopped flowing, I told him about my husband, my children, my grandchildren, my life and my prayers. For the first time in my life I found that I was able to speak to him directly and say, "Tatteh." My son, who is
a Kohen, stood from afar and recorded the experience with his camera. Rabbi Rotter chanted the El Ma-leh  Rachamim. We said Tehillim. You can 't imagine the prayers that came through our lips and from our hearts.

When we finally decided to leave, broken-hearted at the thought that I was leaving my father and grandfather alone in this G-dforsaken area, I told my son, "we'll be back," thinking to myself that sometime in the future we would make another visit.

To our utter amazement, in the midst of a very quiet and peaceful farm area, the original cemetery of the Transnista Camp still exists and many, if not most, of the matzevahs are still intact. Rabbi Rotter was able to locate the exact sites of the graves of my father and grandfather. Of course, having been in the Camp, together with us, he remembered that their graves were immediately adjacent to a person for whom there was a matzevah, and he remembered the exact location..

As we drove back to Vinnitsa, another 4-hour trip, my thoughts covered the span of more than five decades since my father had died in the Camp; all that I had been through; all my experiences as a youngster growing up in Israel, all my lifelong secret hopes that one day I would find the gravesite of my father.

Although broken-hearted at having to leave the cemetery, I had a sense of fulfillment that this dream of mine had finally come true.

When we came back to Vinnitsa, a young lady, one of the wives of the American rabbis stationed there to do Kirev work among Russian youngsters, asked me if I would do her a great favor and accompany her to the Mikvah that evening. Tired and exhausted as I was, how could I resist this mitzvah. To my great surprise, there, in the midst of nowheres, was a perfectly Kosher Mikvah used, when necessary, by the young women who were prepared to live in the Ukraine for 2-3 years for the sake of bringing young Russian children to Yiddishkeit.

When we arrived at the Yeshiva where we were staying we spent the next few hours reviewing all of the nisim in connection with the visit, the fact that my son was able to get a ticket and accompany me at the very last minute, the fact that the Ukrainian drivers were able to find the Transnista Camp, the fact that the workers had put the matzevah up earlier than expected, and that finally, finally, I had been able to pour my heart out to my father after all these years.

I was concerned that my son, Michael, was exhausted and didn't dare suggest to him that we go back to the cemetery.  However, as we talked, Michael turned to me and said, "Mommy, if we jump in the car now and drive to Transnista, we can still make it back to Kiev in time to get the plane to the U.S. and make it home for Shabbos, and we did.

Once again, we recruited one of the Ukranian drivers for a midnight ride through the countryside. We arrived at the Transnista area at the break of dawn. I ran to the gravesites. Once again, my heart poured out with prayer and, this time, I knew for sure that I would be back. I knew where my father was buried and I knew that he would want me to visit him again.

During our brief visit in Vinnitsa I also had an opportunity to have a very brief visit with my husband 's first cousin, Esther Burstein, the granddaughter of Rabbi Shmuel Burstein-Hacohen, the sister of the Ma-danei Shmuel, the Minchas Shabbos, etc. She's a spritely woman of 76, a former economist, who will be going on aliyah to Israel later this summer .

Totally exhausted, but totally fulfilled, we made the trip to the airport on time and were back in our homes Thursday evening. The trip began on Monday evening and ended on Thursday evening, 4 days in total, but it was an odyssey of a lifetime. We encompassed more than 5 centuries in these 4 days.

Almost as if we traversed form one world to another and back. We sped into the Ukraine and shtetl of yesteryear to visit with not only my father and grandfather, but our zaydehs and bubbas of yesteryear.

How many people have an opportunity to turn back the clock and visit Ukranian shtetl life of 200 years ago? How many people have the opportunity to find the gravesites of their parents after more than half a century? I did, together with my son, Michael, and the colossal emotional impact of this trip and visit will be with us for the rest of our lives.

Encounter Between German Lady And Israeli High School Students At Auschwitz

The First Temple Period Ophel City Walls Site

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Palestinian Antisemitism: Jews plan to conquer world; Judaism permits killing Gentiles

Jewish plan to conquer the world is true

Judaism is extreme, permits killing Gentiles

Fatah spokesperson quotes
the Russian forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
- the fictitious Jewish plan to subjugate the world -
as if it were a true document

Gaza university professor:
The Jewish religion is based on extremism.
It permits stealing from and killing Gentiles

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik  

In a recent interview on Palestinian Authority TV about Israel's policies regarding the Gaza Strip, a Fatah spokesperson, Osama Al-Qawasmi, quoted the Russian forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as if it were a true document: 

Fatah spokesperson Osama Al-Qawasmi: "According to Israel's ideology, strategy and policy from 1956 until now, Gaza is outside the Israeli ideological thinking. Even in theirProtocols [of the Elders of Zion] and even in their Bible [it says]: "Don't live in Gaza."  
[Official PA TV, April 5, 2015]

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is an Antisemitic forgery describing how Jews allegedly plan to subjugate the world under Jewish rule. It was published in Russia in 1903 and translated into multiple languages. In 1921, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was exposed as a false document.Palestinian Media Watch has documented that Palestinians present The Protocols as a true manifestation of Jews' and Israelis' aspirations for the future.

PA TV also recently served as a platform for demonizing statements by a Gazan university professor. In an interview, Dr. Ibrahim Abrash, political science professor at the Al-Azhar University, explained that Judaism is based on extremism and that it permits stealing from and killing Gentiles:   

Dr. Ibrahim Abrash, political science professor, Al-Azhar University in Gaza: "The structure of the Zionist ideology, and even the structure of the Jewish religion, are based on extremism. The term 'Gentiles' exists in the Jewish religion, 'us vs. the Gentiles,' and it is permitted to steal from and kill Gentiles. The Zionist ideology came into being, based on denial the existence of the other, the denial and lack of recognition of us, the Palestinians."
[Official PA TV, March 29, 2015]

Click to see more examples of Palestinian demonization of Jews and Israelis.

The Ghosts That Haunt an Iran Accord

The Iran deal is probably going to happen — and this is a good thing. The Islamic Republic ostensibly gives up its surreptitious race for the bomb in exchange for an end to economic sanctions. Absolutely, there are grave uncertainties, but the alternative may well be a military conflagration that is in no one’s interest. For the first time in 36 years, the deal also opens the door just a crack to the possibility of a major strategic rapprochement between America and the Shiite Islamic community, including not only Iran but also Lebanon’s Hezbollah. After all, we now share a common enemy: the so-called Islamic State.

And, though no one mentions it, Iran needs at least a hundred billion dollars of foreign investment to modernize its oil fields, and American oil companies are eager to bid for these contracts once sanctions are lifted.

But here’s the rub: Largely forgotten are two judgments handed down in U.S. Federal District Courts. Dammarell vs. the Islamic Republic of Iran (2003) and Peterson vs. the Islamic Republic of Iran (2007) held Iran responsible for truck bomb attacks on the United States Embassy in Beirut in April 1983 and a similar attack on the U.S. Marines barracks in October of that year. Seventeen Americans were killed in the embassy attack — including eight C.I.A. officers — and 32 Lebanese employees died. Two hundred and forty-one U.S. servicemen were killed in the Marine barracks bombing. Both civil suits, and one later filed by the Lebanese employees resulted in multibillion dollar judgments against Iran. The Iranian government, which did not respond to the lawsuit or defend itself at trial, has yet to pay a penny to any of the families of the victims or the survivors.

These outstanding judgments represent a major stumbling block to any diplomatic resolution of Washington’s troubled relations with Tehran. It is hard to imagine any scenario in which the Iranians agree to accept responsibility for truck bomb attacks that occurred more than three decades ago. And yet it is equally unimaginable that the Obama administration could ignore the Federal District Court judgments entered on behalf of so many American civilians, servicemen and intelligence officers. When the economic embargo against Iran is lifted, the lawyers representing these claimants will demand that these judgments be paid — and they are sure to go after any American corporations doing business with Iran. (Congress made this possible in January 2008 with a law that permits federal courts to seize commercial funds flowing between American companies and Iranian entities, such as the Iranian National Oil Company, and direct these monies to the victims of the Iranian attacks.)

No doubts exist about Iran’s responsibility. One of those who died in the Beirut Embassy bombing was Robert Ames, the C.I.A.’s top expert on the Middle East. Ames was legendary inside C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va., for having penetrated Yasir Arafat’s P.L.O., forming a deep friendship with Arafat’s intelligence chief, Ali Hassan Salameh. A seasoned clandestine officer, Ames regularly briefed President Ronald Reagan in the White House. After the embassy bombing, President Reagan noted in his diary, “We lost [name deleted] our top research man on the Middle East.” Six months later, after a second truck bomb hit the Marine barracks, Reagan wrote, “We all believe Iranians did this bombing, just as they did with our embassy last April.”

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
Washington had its suspicions but no hard evidence that Iran had launched the attacks. But now we have the names of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers responsible for these deaths. One of them is Ali Reza Asgari, a Guard intelligence officer stationed in Baalbek, Lebanon, throughout the 1980s. Asgari later served as Iran’s deputy defense minister. But according to numerous Western news reports, in 2007 Asgari defected, apparently to the United States, bringing with him a laptop filled with information about Iran’s nuclear weapons program and much information about his training of Hezbollah’s intelligence apparatus in the 1980s and ’90s.

Some of President George W. Bush’s National Security Council advisers evidently believed that the intelligence Asgari brought to the table on the Iranian nuclear program was invaluable. In effect, national security trumped whatever justice the United States government owed to the memory of Robert Ames and all of Asgari’s other victims. It was a cold calculation. When one high-level intelligence official in the Bush White House was asked about Asgari’s asylum, he responded, “At the unclassified level, I cannot elaborate on the issue.”

No one in official Washington can talk about Asgari. It’s an official secret. The C.I.A. “categorically” denies that they had anything to do with “arranging” his defection. Yes, Asgari “arranged” his own defection. But quite unbelievably, the C.I.A. claims not to know where he resides today. We now know that Asgari visited Leidschendam, in the Netherlands, in the spring of 2013. He gave testimony to the United Nations Special Tribune for Lebanon investigating the assassination in 2005 of the country’s prime minister, Rafik Hariri. Obviously, if Asgari was in the Netherlands he traveled under the protection of some Western intelligence organization.

Why Is Pakistan More Legitimate than Israel? Dennis Prager

Whenever I have received a call from a listener to my radio show challenging Israel's legitimacy, I have asked these people if they ever called a radio show to challenge any other country's legitimacy. In particular, I ask, have they ever questioned the legitimacy of Pakistan?
The answer, of course, is always "no." In fact, no caller ever understood why I even mentioned Pakistan.
There are two reasons for this.
First, of all the 200-plus countries in the world, only Israel's legitimacy is challenged. So mentioning any other country seems strange to a caller. Second, almost no one outside of India and Pakistan knows anything about the founding of Pakistan.
Only months before the U.N. adopted a proposal to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state in 1947, India was partitioned into a Muslim and a Hindu state. The Hindu state was, of course, India. And the Muslim state became known as Pakistan. It comprises 310,000 square miles, about 40,000 square miles larger than Texas.
In both cases, the declaration of an independent state resulted in violence. As soon as the newly established state of Israel was declared in May 1948, it was invaded by six Arab armies. And the partition of India led to a terrible violence between Muslims and Hindus.
According to the final report of the United Nations Conciliation Commission from Dec. 28, 1949, the 1948 war of Israel's independence created 726,000 Arabs refugees. Many sources put the figure at about 200,000 less. A roughly equal number of Jewish refugees -- approximately 700,000 -- were created when they were forcibly expelled from the Arab countries where they had lived for countless generations. In addition, approximately 10,000 Arabs were killed in the fighting that ensued after the Arab invasion of Israel.
Now let's turn to the creation of Pakistan. According to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, the creation of Pakistan resulted in 14 million refugees -- Hindus fleeing Pakistan and Muslims fleeing India. Assuming a 50-50 split, the creation of Pakistan produced about seven million Hindu refugees -- at least 10 times the number of Arab refugees that resulted from the war surrounding Israel's creation. And the Mideast war, it should be recalled, was started by the Arab nations surrounding Israel. Were it not for the Arab rejection of Israel's creation (and existence within any borders) and the subsequent Arab invasion, there would have been no Arab refugees.
And regarding deaths, the highest estimate of Arab deaths during the 1948 war following the partition of Palestine is 10,000. The number of deaths that resulted from the creation of Pakistan is around one million.
In addition, according to the Indian government, at least 86,000 women were raped. Most historians believe the number to be far higher. The number of women raped when Israel was established is close to zero. From all evidence I could find, the highest estimate was 12.
Given the spectacularly larger number of refugees and deaths caused by the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan, why does no one ever question the legitimacy of Pakistan's existence?
This question is particularly valid given another fact: Never before in history was there a Pakistan. It was a completely new nation. Moreover, its creation was made possible solely because of Muslim invasion. It was Muslims who invaded India, and killed about 60 million Hindus during the thousand-year Muslim rule of India. The area now known as Pakistan was Hindu until the Muslims invaded it in A.D. 711.
On the other and, modern Israel is the third Jewish state in the geographic area known as Palestine. The first was destroyed in 586 B.C., the second in A.D. 70. And there was never a non-Jewish sovereign state in Palestine.
So, given all these facts, why is Israel's legitimacy challenged, while the legitimacy of Pakistan, a state that had never before existed and whose creation resulted in the largest mass migration in recorded history, is never challenged?
The answer is so obvious that only those who graduated from college, and especially from graduate school, need to be told: Israel is the one Jewish state in the world. So, while there are 49 Muslim-majority countries and 22 Arab states, much of the world questions or outright only rejects the right of the one Jewish state, the size of New Jersey, to exist.
If you are a member of the Presbyterian Church, send these facts to the leaders of the Presbyterian Church USA who voted to boycott Israel. If you are a student in Middle Eastern Studies -- or for that matter, almost any other humanities department -- and your professor is anti-Israel, ask your professor why Pakistan is legitimate and Israel isn't.
They won't have a good answer. Their opposition to Israel isn't based on moral considerations.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

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Nazi Surrender Telegram to Go Up for Auction

Karl Donitz
Karl Donitz
US government
Seventy years after V-E Day, the Nazis' surrender order has resurfaced - and will be auctioned off in New York.
Nazi Navy chief Karl Dönitz wrote the order as he hid on a naval base in Northwest Germany on May 9, 1945.
The surviving piece of telegram paper is expected to garner between $20,000-$30,000 in an auction Wednesday at Bonhams, according to the Guardian.
In it, Dönitz orders an unconditional surrender and notes that all hostilities will cease at 1:00 am.
“This was unavoidable in order to prevent the complete destruction of certain parts of the front, which was expected to occur in a short time, and, in so doing, to save as many people as possible for Germany,” Dönitz stated.
Bonhams curator Tom Lamb noted that the telegraph's survival is rare; the Nazis had a "scorched-earth" policy that destroyed most of their records as the war ended.
The slip of paper survived after it was found in the attache case of Luftwaffe Field Marshal Robert von Greim, to whom the notice is addressed, after he was arrested by US forces outside of Prague.
Nazi memorabilia has become a popular - and controversial - auctionhouse sale.
Earlier this month, a British auction house auctioned off the suit of Gestapo leader Hermann Goering, after the curator noticed that the suit had sweat stains - distinguishing an original from a replica. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Avraham‎ׁ The Jewish Shepherd

How Israeli Desalination Technology Is Helping Solve California’s Devastating Drought

Four years of devastating droughts in California have pushed cities and counties in the Golden State to seriously consider turning to the one drinking source that is not depleting anytime soon – seawater. With the Pacific Ocean abutting their shores, water desalination may be the much-needed solution for Californians. But desalination has its disadvantages, the chief ones being the high costs and the potential environmental damage.
To address these challenges, California is turning to the world leader in cutting edge desalination technology – Israel. A $1 billion desalination project is already underway in San Diego County – which will be the largest seawater desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere – and Israeli engineers have been called in for their expertise.
Currently under construction in Carlsbad, 35 miles north of San Diego, the plant could potentially provide Californians with 54 million gallons of water a day. The plant is using technology Israelis have been using for years, reverse-osmosis, which involves forcing seawater through a film with tiny holes that allow only water molecules to pass through, while the larger salt molecules cannot.
San Diego area
“A complete game changer for desalination in the US”
2014 was California’s third driest year in 119 years and according to the US Geological Survey; it was also the warmest year in recorded history, leading California to declare a drought state of emergency last year. Earlier this month, another frightening figure was published: The California Department of Water Resources measured the statewide water content of Sierra snowpack (which provides about one-third of the water used by California’s cities and farms) at 5 percent, the lowest level since 1950. In response, the governor recently announced mandatory State-wide water cutbacks.
Despite this, the Golden State has only a handful of small desalination plants. But with the help of Israel Desalination Enterprises (IDE Technologies), the $1 billion desalination plant San Diego is due to become reality next year. According to IDE – which is also working on desalination projects in China, India and Australia – the Carlsbad project is a “complete game changer for desalination in the US.” This project is expected to provide clean water to 300,000 people and generate roughly $50 million annually for the regional economy. “The plant overcame significant practical, regulatory and economic hurdles to deliver a cost-effective and environmentally friendly water supply,” IDE said.
Critics of the reverse-osmosis technology have claimed that it is too costly and requires too much energy, making it environmentally damaging. But IDE Technologies says its production costs are among the world’s lowest and that it can provide an average family’s water needs for roughly $300-$500 a year. Israel’s largest desalination plant, for example, sells desalinated water to the Israeli government for about 60 cents per cubic meter, which is lower than traditional water purification methods. Using highly efficient pumps, the plant also consumes less energy than similar desalination stations around the globe.

Necessity is the mother of invention
Israel, a land that is two-thirds arid, has long been forced to come up with creative ways to conserve, recycle and desalinate water. The country has become a leader in the field of water preservation, coming up with industry-changing technologies such as drip irrigation in 1964. In fact, the serious attention Israel has paid to its water supplied means that the country now has a water surplus – a first in its history. About 40 percent of Israel’s tap water is desalinated sea water – a figure expected to reach 50 percent by 2016 – and so is a large part of the water for agriculture.
And with an estimated 1.8 billion people around the globe who don’t have adequate access to clean water, desalination technologies developed in Israel are in high demand.
Sorek desalination plant
Israelis quench the thirst of Marshall Islands residents  
In the Marshall Islands, for example, an island country located near the equator in the Pacific Ocean with a serious shortage in drinking water, Israeli company GAL Water Technologies has introduced a one-of-its-kind emergency water purification vehicle, called the GalMobile. According to the company, the main challenge when large scale natural disasters or terrorist attack strike, is lack of fresh clean water in the first 72 hours. The GalMobile is then highly efficient as a self-contained automatic vehicle that can connect to any possible water source – like rivers, lakes, oceans, brackish water and wells – and produce drinking water at WHO water standards.
For the past two decades, GAL has also provided water treatment technologies on a humanitarian basis to African nations.
GAL's desalination vehicle
But despite its past achievements, Israeli desalination technology will largely be measured on the success in San Diego. If that reverse osmosis plant achieves its goals, we can expect to see many more Israeli engineers teaching the world about the benefits of desalination.