Friday, March 30, 2012

Cantor Yitzchok Meir Helfgot sings "Eilu Devorim" for Rav Chaim Kanievesky at a Sheva Brachos.

MBD sings Sholom Aleichem with the Shira Choir

Lighting a Chanukah Menorah Underwater

If the Passover Story Were Reported by The New York Slimes Daniel P. Waxman

The cycle of violence between the Jews & the Egyptians continues with no end in sight in Egypt. After eight previous plagues that have destroyed the Egyptian infrastructure and disrupted the lives of ordinary Egyptian citizens, the Jews launched a new offensive this week in the form of the plague of darkness.

Western journalists were particularly enraged by this plague. "It is simply impossible to report when you can't see an inch in front of you,"complained a frustrated Thomas Friedman. "I have heard from my reliable Egyptian contacts that in the midst of the blanket of blackness, the Jews were annihilating thousands of Egyptians. Their word is solid enough evidence for me."

While the Jews contend that the plagues are justified given the harsh slavery imposed upon them by the Egyptians, Pharaoh, the Egyptian leader, rebuts this claim. "If only the plagues would let up, there would be no slavery. We just want to live plague-free. It is the right of every society."

Saeb Erekat, an Egyptian spokesperson, complains that slavery is justifiable given the Jews' superior weaponry supplied to them by the superpower God.

The Europeans are particularly enraged by the latest Jewish offensive. "The Jewish aggression must cease if there is to be peace in the region. The Jews should go back to slavery for the good of the rest of the world," stated an angry French President Jacques Chirac. Even several Jews agree. Adam Shapiro, a Jew, has barricaded himself within Pharaoh's chambers to protect Pharaoh from what is feared will be the next plague, the death of the firstborn. Mr. Shapiro claims that while slavery is not necessarily a good thing, it is the product of the plagues and when the plagues end, so will the slavery. "The Jews have gone too far with plagues such as locusts and epidemic which have virtually destroyed the Egyptian economy," Mr. Shapiro laments. "The Egyptians are really a very nice people and Pharaoh is kind of huggable once you get to know him," gushes Shapiro.

The United States is demanding that Moses and Aaron, the Jewish leaders, continue to negotiate with Pharaoh. While Moses points out that Pharaoh had made promise after promise to free the Jewish people only to immediately break them and thereafter impose harsher and harsher slavery, Richard Boucher of the State Department assails the latest offensive. "Pharaoh is not in complete control of the taskmasters," Mr. Boucher states. "The Jews must return to the negotiating table and will accomplish nothing through these plagues." The latest round of violence comes in the face of a bold new Saudi peace overture. If only the Jews will give up their language, change their names to Egyptian names and cease having male children, the Arab nations will incline toward peace with them, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah declared

Gilad Schalit Meets Prime Minister Netanyahu

Freed captive Gilad Shalit, an IDF soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas and held incommunicado for over 5 years, visited Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Thursday and thanked him for securing his release. He was accopmanied by his parents, Noam and Aviva Shalit. The conversation went thus:
Prime Minister: How are you?
Gilad Shalit: Fine
PM: You look great. Really great. You were… you've gained a little, right?
Gilad: Yes, I gained a little. Six kilos.
PM: Six kilos? You still have some more room…
Gilad: There is some, but not much.
PM: Overall, you are feeling good?
Gilad: Overall, yes.
PM: Getting better? That's important.
Shalit: Yes.
PM: I see that you have been going to basketball games.
Gilad: I went to one. And I went to one in the United States, too. The All-Stars.
PM: You're back home. Returning to life.
You are recovering well, right? It is just great to see him. I am very happy.
And what do you plan to do? Are you planning your time, or are you in processes…
Gilad: I am supposed to be released from the army soon.
PM: Mazal tov…
Aviva: We came to say thank you – this is from us.
PM: Should I open it?
Aviva: Of course.
PM: From the Hula Reserve… drawings of the Hula…
Gilad: We went there.
The book bore a handwritten dedication:
To the Prime Minister, Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu – impressions from the Hula Valley and the world of birds and water fowl that symbolize freedom and liberty that have no substitute, from Gilad and the Shalit family.
Gilad: On this occasion I want to thank you… I did not have the opportunity… when I landed I was very excited… I am very glad to meet you, and that in the end you succeeded in bringing me back.
PM: I congratulate you on your release from the IDF. And I wish you a happy Holiday of Liberation [Pesach].
Aviva Shalit: Hence the timing of the visit.
PM:I think it gets a new character and special meaning. An exodus from Egypt… or let's call it an exodus from Gaza. From slavery to freedom and from darkness to light, in the fullest sense. And I am glad that you are proving that you are getting over everything. It was great. Just great. Happy Holiday of Liberty.

Helfgot At Sheva Brachos, With Rav Kanievsky

Israeli Diplomat’s ‘Spanking’ of J Street Conference Removed from Organization History; Read Entire Speech in the Jewish Press

J Street's leader Jeremy Ben-Ami opened the 2012 J Street conference believing he received official Israeli recognition. Reality was stunningly different.
J Street's leader Jeremy Ben-Ami opened the 2012 J Street conference believing he received official Israeli recognition. Reality was stunningly different.
Photo Credit: Screen shot
Israeli Deputy Ambassador to the US Baruch Bina addressed thousands of J Street supporters last week, after his appearance there had been initially hailed as the beginning of a thawing of the official Israeli approach to the largely leftist and pro-Palestinian organization.
Ha’aretz was among those rejoicing in what appeared like a major coup:
“The official Israeli presence at the J Street conference is more prominent this year than usual. This year the embassy will be represented by its second-ranking diplomat, Baruch Bina, who will actually address the group. Bina has ambassadorial ranking and was until recently in charge of relations with the United States in the Foreign Ministry.”
Leo Rennet of the American Thinker pointed out that J Street’s leader Jeremy Ben-Ami “gloated over his organization’s ability to snare Bina as its stellar attraction.” Apparently, listing Bina as a guest on the conference program was marking J Street as a Jewish voice on Israel.
As it turned out, Ben-Ami was in for a big surprise.
How big a surprise? Here’s the page on the J Street website dedicated to the conference. It offers screen after screen of video clips of every speaker at the 2012 conference. Arabs and Jews, rabbis and secularists, men and women. Only one video clip is missing. I suspect you’ll never find that one, at least not anywhere near J Street. The Baruch Bina speech has been removed from J Street’s official history. Try searching for “Baruch Bina” on the website, you’ll get the curt statement: “No results found.” It never happened.
[A few hours after this article had been posted, someone at the J Street website rushed to the video page and entered the line: "Remarks from the J Street Gala Dinner by Jeremy Ben-Ami, Anat Hoffman, Barukh Binah, Theodore Bikel, Davidi Gilo, and Ehud Olmert" above the very last video, which is a 2 hour and 45 minute long recording of the entire evening.
When working on this article, myself and another Jewish Press editor have tried feeding all the various possibilities of spelling the Deputy Ambassador's name (Barukh, Baruch, Bina, Binah) and got zero results. That's how we know the line has been added after we published the piece.
Another clue – in their rush to erase the evidence of their erasing the evidence, the folks from J Street listed the people on the tape out of sequence, probably from memory.
Compare the treatment all the top videos received, with names and titles, clipped just right to present each individual speaker – compared to the Binah speech, which is buried around minute 35 of a 165-minute long video.
As always, the attempt to cover up the coverup is the most humiliating… YY]
Bina was welcomed with a standing ovation, which slowly transformed into shocked silence as the diplomat proceeded to rebuke his audience, or as Leo Rennet put it, “administer a forceful spanking” to J Street and its agenda.
We bring you the entire speech delivered by Baruch Bina at the 2012 J Street Conference in Washington, D.C. on March 26, 2012, courtesy of the Israeli embassy website. We think it’s a masterpiece:
Sixty-five years ago, there could not have been a Jewish ambassador, representing the Jewish State, speaking to a Jewish audience in a flourishing and confident diaspora. Today, I come before you, my Friends, to greet and congratulate you on your third conference and to discuss our common goals and possible disagreements.
Our story is always exciting and un-expected, but in the last 150 years we have surprised even ourselves. We rose from the Ghettos of East Europe and the Malah of North Africa to create a dynamic, resourceful and vibrant democracy in an unusually hostile and oppressive region.
Nobody is perfect; and, as a 7th generation Israeli born I know full well what needs to be fixed in my own society. I salute those individuals and organizations working for grass-roots improvements within Israel, and I personally attempt these corrections every four years when I cast my vote. Sometimes I have it my way, and sometimes I do not. It is called Democracy.
I understand that you, my friends, are all about future and hope. So are we, the young and most energetic country that we are. But while our view is towards the future, we dare not forget our past. History must not shackle us, but its lessons must guide us. And please, do not tell me that it is no longer relevant, because it is. (It is alive and scorching just like the trail left by an Israeli Air force F-16, flown over Poland’s valleys of death by the granddaughter of the commanders of a Ghetto revolt. It is alive in ink on paper as long as a 12 year old, an 8th generation Israeli born, dedicates her Bat Mitzvah Book to “members of my family whom I never met”, though nobody coached her in this direction.
We look today to our two flourishing communities – in Israel, and here in the United States; each shoulders an historic and current responsibility for the survival of the Jewish people. Our relations are therefore of the utmost importance, and we must guide them with principles that will ensure our partnership.
I come to you today not only as the second highest ranking Israeli diplomat in the US, but as a brother (and I have an extensive American family). We share your democratic values. But unlike your secure existence between these happy shores, an ocean apart from the bad guys, our borders are curved and dusty, and made of missiles and mayhem. As we continue to face intolerable threats, we sometimes have to make decisions of life and death. We welcome the opinions of our brethren in the Diaspora, especially on issues of Jewish identity and pluralism, but at the end of the day, it is we, the Israelis, who must bear the ultimate burden and may have to pay the ultimate price. And we, dear Friends and Family, have no margins of error; none whatsoever.
So, we need you to stand with us. It is as simple as that and someone ought to say it. Internal activism is a central part of democratic society, but Pressures on the elected government of Israel can present us with a problem, when we need you the most.
In this spirit of democracy and openness, I have to broach an issue with you, for J Street is not just an NGO that publishes a magazine and states an opinion in the free market if ideas. It is an organization that lobbies congress. You practice not only free speech but a legislative agenda. You don’t only publish op-eds, you bring members of Congress to the region. I respectfully submit that this relatively new role lays responsibilities before you which I am not certain have always been adequately considered. Thus, when you bring lawmakers to Israel, please make sure that they come out with a full picture.You may be critical of settlements, but if you choose to show the most extreme, it behooves you to present the greater mass of moderates as well. If you show them negative aspects of checkpoints, please show as well the catastrophe and grief of terror victims. If you show them Israel’s failings, show them also our triumphs such as the aliyah of the Jewish community of Ethiopia.  I urge you to strive for balance, so that these lawmakers may become friends of Israel who might be critical, and not critics of Israel who are not friends
I welcome the evolution in J-Street’s position, which brought about the recognition of the ultimate need to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities. I hope that this will be followed by adopting President Obama’s policy that all the options, including a military effort, are on the table.
Likewise, I welcome your position against one-sided resolutions on settlements, and I hope that you will never go back to opposing a veto cast by the Obama administration, like you did in January of 2011.
I would like to express our appreciation of J Street’s active repudiation of BDS, and of your activity on campus to help stem this insidious ideology. Our shared view is that BDS is not a form of criticism, but a blatant, though veiled attack. I hope that the leaders of the BDS movement will not be welcomed at J Street, and that all calls for boycott will continue to be refuted. They use such appearances as a means of gaining legitimacy, and whatever actually happens in your fora, they report to their supports that they were greeted at J Street with enthusiasm and consent. Please don’t let yourselves be used. They aren’t honest players.
Regarding Iran, this radical, ideological regime represents an unparalleled danger to world peace and stability and a very serious threat to Israel, as its leaders continue calling for our annihilation. For this regime to have nuclear military capability is simply unacceptable. A nuclear Iran will never be contained.
Israel’s position is very clear. We support the initiative lead by the United States to take all possible measures in order to make sure that Iran gives up its nuclear military ambitions. We applaud President Obama’s clarification that all options are on the table, economic sanctions, diplomacy, and including the military effort.
Our region indeed harbors forces of radical ideology, unwilling to accept our very existence as a free nation in our own country, and while we pursue and seek peace, the Ayatollahs of Iran call loudly for our annihilation. They seek to develop nuclear weapons and support terror groups in Lebanon and in Gaza who attack us constantly and defy our right to exist.
Regarding our peace policy, a vision that Israel was established with. It is the vision of our prophets, from Isaiah to Herzl. Without peace our security will not be complete, but without security there will be no real peace.
The sands of the Arab Spring may go on shifting, but Israel remains committed to achieving peace with our Palestinian neighbors. We wish them well. Yet, our efforts to directly negotiate all issues are constantly thwarted by Palestinian rejection. We are willing to put all the contentious issues on the table, in order to bring an end to the conflict. But time after time we find out that the metaphoric table was removed, or cut, or blown up in the flames of Terror. We urge the Palestinian leadership to lead their people in the arduous path of peace, as true leaders do, and to forgo the game of the past, the game of hatred and virulent incitement. It is not a game of political Quidditch that we play here; it is a heavy-duty selection of choices that we must make.  A Hamas government is not a harbinger of peace and neither is an Iranian-backed Hezbollah regime.
However, the proof of the pudding, my friends, is in the eating, and so far we are only fed with the old, stale and hateful anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish slogans, as if nothing is happening. I read the sober remarks of Judea Pearle, father of the late WSJ reporter Daniel Pearle, over the last weekend. He said: “I grew up in Israel in a culture of peace and coexistence … but I do not see a hint of that on the other side … there is still no Palestinian leader who can go back to his people with the words ‘end of conflict’” on his lips.
So, while we cling on to our quest for peace we must be very careful and keep our shields up. Especially when repressive regimes such as Iran’s or Syria’s continue to butcher their own citizenry (like in Teheran 2 years ago and in Homs, 2 days ago); especially when they go on spewing their venom, and especially when they strive to build a nuclear arsenal that might attempt, God forbid, to put an end to the Jewish Question, this time in the Middle East.
We are grateful for President Obama’s statement that, “When there are efforts to boycott or divest from Israel, we will stand against them. And whenever an effort is made to delegitimize the state of Israel, my administration has opposed them.”  We are just as appreciative of the US administration steadfast support in the Human rights council in Geneva, and in other international fora, rebuffing one-sided unbalanced resolutions on the settlements, and the US insistence on Palestinian return to the negotiating table. I am sure you share with us the bond of “special relations” between Israel and the United States.
I have mentioned some of the challenges that we face, but I come before you today as the proud envoy of a cheerful and optimistic country. We should celebrate our tiny, little country. You all know of our superb military, our research universities, and our Nobel laureates, the contributions we make in science, health and Agro-tech. But how many of you know that, according to UNESCO figures, Israel ranks first, alongside the UK, in the number of new titles per capita per year?
We are still driven by the old flame, compelling us to exceed our potential, and this is the true essence and meaning of being a Zionist today.
Friends, I urge you to stand by our side as Americans, as members of your community, as Jews. For the sake of our forefathers and our future, we must keep our brotherhood strong.
Pamella Geller of Atlas Shrugged reported:
As the audience sat in near-silence, Twitter users who were live-tweeting the event immediately began detailing the mood in the conference hall. “Awkward! Israeli #2 Ambassador Barukh Binah is slamming #JStreet at its annual gala,” Twitter user @MeatyButcher wrote. @EmilyCadei added, “#Israel deputy chief of mission addresses/scolds #JStreet gala, NOT well received, heard some hisses.”
By the way, Leo Rennet pointed out that the NY Times has ignored Bina’s speech altogether. “None of Bina’s remarks, let alone his presence, made its way into the pages of the New York Times,” he wrote, adding, “With copious coverage of all the pro-J Street doings and utterances at the conference, why was this discordant note overlooked?”

Shlomo Carlebach - Reb Nachman Says

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The New Anti-Semitism - Why does the international community hate Israel so much? Victor Davis Hanson

Not long ago, the Economist ran an unsigned editorial called the “Auschwitz Complex.” The unnamed author blamed serial Middle East tensions on both Israel’s unwarranted sense of victimhood, accrued from the Holocaust, and its unwillingness to  “to give up its empire.” As far as Israel’s paranoid obsessions with the specter of a nuclear Iran, the author dismissed any real threat by announcing that “Iran makes an appealing enemy for Israelis,” and that “Israelis have psychologically displaced the source of their anxiety onto a more distant target: Iran.”
It is hard to fathom how a democracy of seven million people by any stretch of the imagination is an “empire.” Israel, after all, fought three existential wars over its 1947 borders, when the issue at hand was not manifest destiny, but the efforts of its many enemies to exterminate or deport its population. I would not otherwise know how to characterize the Arab promise of more than a half-century of “pushing the Jews into Mediterranean.”
While it is true that Israeli forces stayed put on neighboring lands after the 1967 war, subsequent governments eventually withdrew from the Sinai, southern Lebanon, and Gaza—areas from which attacks were and are still staged against it. The Economist’s choice of “appealing” is an odd modifying adjective of the noun “enemy,” particularly for Iran, which has both promised to wipe out Israel and is desperately attempting to find the nuclear means to reify that boast.  
The Economist article is fairly representative of European anger at Israel, a country that is despised by most of the nations that make up the UN roster. Or as Nicky Larkin, an Irish documentary filmmaker and once vehement anti-Israel activist, recently confessed, “An Irish artist is supposed to sign boycotts, wear a PLO scarf, and remonstrate loudly about The Occupation. But it’s not just artists who are supposed to hate Israel. Being anti-Israel is supposed to be part of our Irish identity, the same way we are supposed to resent the English.”
What then are the sources for widespread hatred of Israel? Such venom cannot be explained just by political differences with its Arab and Islamic neighbors. After all, take any major issue of contention—occupied land, refugees, a divided Jerusalem, cross border incursions—and then ask why the world focuses disproportionately on Israel when similar such disputes are commonplace throughout the globe.
Over half a million Jews have been ethnically cleansed from Arab capitals since 1947.
Does the world much care about the principle of occupation? Not really. Consider land that has been “occupied” in the fashion of the West Bank since World War II. Russia won’t give up the southern Kurile Islands it took from Japan. Tibet ceased to exist as a sovereign country—well before the 1967 Middle East War—when it was absorbed by Communist China. Turkish forces since their 1974 invasion have occupied large swaths of Cyprus. East Prussia ceased to exist in 1945, after 13 million German refugees were displaced from ancestral homelands that dated back 500 years.
The 112-mile green line that runs through downtown Nicosia to divide Cyprus makes Jerusalem look united in comparison. Over 500,000 Jews have been ethnically-cleansed from Arab capitals since 1947, in waves of pogroms that come every few decades. Why are they not considered refugees the way the Palestinians are?
The point is not that the world community should not focus on Israel’s disputes with its neighbors, but that it singles Israel out for its purported transgressions in a fashion that it does not for nearly identical disagreements elsewhere. Over 75 percent of recent United Nations resolutions target Israel, which has been cited for human rights violations far more than the Sudan, Congo, or Rwanda, where millions have perished in little-noticed genocides. Why is the international community so anti-Israel?
A new sort of fashionable and socially acceptable anti-Semitism looms large. For much of the past two millennia in the West, hatred of the Jews was a crude prejudice, rich with state-sanctioned religious, economic, and social biases. By the same token, dissidents, leftists, and anti-establishmentarians once took up the cause of decrying anti-Semitism, an Enlightenment theme until well after World War II.
No more—with the establishment of Israel, anti-Semitism metamorphosized in two unforeseen ways. First, it became a near obsession of the modern Left, which associated the creation of the Jewish state with a sort of Western hegemonic impulse. That Israel was democratic and protected human rights in a way unlike its autocratic neighbors mattered nothing. To the international Left, Israel was a religious, imperialistic, and surrogate West in the Middle East.
The new anti-Semites are not crass and vulgar. They are sophisticated intellectuals.
After the 1967 war, when a once vulnerable Israel emerged victorious and apparently unstoppable, Jews lost any lingering sympathy from the horrors of World War II and Israel became a full-fledged Western over-dog, closely associated with its new patron, the much envied and hated United States. Not only were the new anti-Semites no longer just buffoonish skinheads, neo-Nazis, and Klansmen, but they were polished and sophisticated intellectuals. Deploring anti-Semitic illiterates in white sheets was rather easy; but countering Hamas cartoons of Jews as apes and pigs in West Bank newspapers was difficult when they were disseminated in the name of free speech at U.C. Berkeley.
There was a second facet of the new anti-Semitism. The establishment of the state of Israel itself also served as a respectable cloak for anti-Semitism. One now spoke not of disliking Jews, but only of despising the Jewish state and seeing Palestinians as if they were victims analogous to minority groups within the West. From Oxford dons to award-wining novelists, it became socially acceptable to decry the creation of Israel in a way it was not to say that the Jews were again causing trouble. Alleging that “Jews” had too much influence was still retrograde, but worrying about the power of the “Jewish lobby” was suddenly politically-correct.
Oil, of course, played an even larger role. By the 1960s, the West was heavily dependent on Persian Gulf and North African oil and gas, and by the 1990s, was in a rivalry with emerging economies in India and China to ensure steady Middle East supplies. After the deleterious oil cutoff of 1973, the Arab world proved not just that it was willing to use oil as an anti-Israel weapon, but also that it could do so quite effectively.
On the flip side, since the 1960s, trillions of petrodollars have flowed into the Islamic Middle East, not just ensuring that Israel’s enemies now were armed, ascendant, and flanked by powerful Western friends, but through contributions, donations, and endowments also deeply embedded within Western thought and society itself. Universities suddenly sought endowed Middle East professorships and legions of full tuition-paying Middle East undergraduates. Had Israel the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia, then “occupied” Palestine might have resonated at the UN about as much as Ossetia, Kashmir, or the Western Sahara does today. 
"Being anti-Israel is supposed to be part of our Irish identity," says a filmmaker
Size matters as well. Israel is tiny; its enemies, legion. For many in the world, demography is everything: would an opinion-maker or journalist rather side with seven million Israelis or 400 million of their enemies in the largely Islamic Middle East? And if Israel had clearly done well in the 1947, 1956, and 1967 wars, after the next round of fighting in 1973, 1982, and 2006, critics smelled weakness and found it more comfortable to prefer the soon-to-be winning side. As a result, diplomats, military officers, journalists, writers, and actors found it easier to count heads and choose the path of least resistance—given Israel’s recent inability to defeat quickly and decisively its Arab adversaries.
The terrorism of the last thirty years loomed large as well. If in the 1970s, Western governments feared that their Olympic games, their jet airliners, their embassies, and their sports teams might by attacked by secular left-wing Palestinian terrorists, by the late 1990s they were even more afraid that radical Islamist suicide bombers and terrorists would strike not just abroad, but inside Europe and North America itself. After 9/11, to draw a cartoon in Denmark mocking a Jewish rabbi would earn either praise or indifference; but to caricature Mohammed or the Koran ensured threats of assassination in the heart of postmodern, humanitarian Europe.
Intellectuals are not moral supermen, and supposedly courageous muckraking writers and journalists prefer, we have seen, to live without fear than to accurately describe the situation on the ground in the Middle East. For many intellectuals, the choice of lauding or disliking Israel was not just based on careerist self-interest, but also on a careful calculus that Western nations, for all their talk of free speech, were as terrified of terrorists as were the latters’ targets. Criticize or caricature radical Islam, and a terrorist was more likely to get you than your fearful Western government was to protect you. Ask Salman Rushdie or Kurt Westergaard.
Finally, Israel in the West has become analogous to something like the uncool image of Sarah Palin—a target of mindless and uniformed invective that nevertheless serves as a sort of cachet or membership card into the right circles. Filmmakers do not usually shoot sympathetic documentaries about Israel—not if they want grants from foundations and social acceptance from their peers and overseers. Visiting journalists and authors might hotel in Israel, but their professional work on the West Bank will be praised and supported to the degree that it is pro-Palestinian and shunned should it be either balanced or pro-Israeli.
Will the image of Israel ever be reversed? Only if the above criteria are altered—a damning indictment that popular antipathy has little to do with the reality of Israel’s predicament. 

US State Department dodging question: Is Jerusalem the capital of Israel?

QUESTION: Yesterday there was a bit of a kerfuffle over an announcement that was made by the Department about the travel of your boss.
QUESTION: Is it the State Department’s position that Jerusalem is not part of Israel?
MS. NULAND: Well, you know that our position on Jerusalem has not changed. The first Media Note was issued in error without appropriate clearances. We reissued the note to make clear that Under Secretary – Acting Under Secretary for R, Kathy Stephens, will be traveling to Algiers, Doha, Amman, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem. With regard to our Jerusalem policy, it’s a permanent status issue; it’s got to be resolved through negotiations between the parties.
QUESTION: Is it the view of the United States that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, notwithstanding the question about the Embassy, the location of the U.S. Embassy?
MS. NULAND: We are not going to prejudge the outcome of those negotiations, including the final status of Jerusalem.
QUESTION: Does that mean that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?
MS. NULAND: Jerusalem is a permanent status issue; it’s got to be resolved through negotiations.
QUESTION: That seems to suggest that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Is that correct or not?
MS. NULAND: I have just spoken to this issue --
QUESTION: No, no. But --
MS. NULAND: -- and I have nothing further to say on it.
QUESTION: You’ve spoken to the issue but didn’t answer the question, and I think there’s a lot of people out there who are interested in hearing a real answer and not saying – and not trying to duck and say that this has got to be resolved by negotiations between the two sides.
MS. NULAND: That is our --
QUESTION: What is the capital of Israel?
MS. NULAND: Our policy with regard to Jerusalem is it has to be solved through negotiations. That’s all I have to say on this issue.
QUESTION: What is the capital of Israel?
MS. NULAND: Our Embassy, as you know, is located in Tel Aviv.
QUESTION: So does that mean that you regard Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel?
MS. NULAND: The issue on Jerusalem has to be settled through negotiations.
Lalit, thank you.
QUESTION: I just want to go back to – I want to clarify something.
QUESTION: Perhaps give you an out on your Jerusalem answer. Is it your position that all of Jerusalem is a final status issue or do you think – or is it just East Jerusalem?
MS. NULAND: Matt, I don’t have anything further to what I said 17 times on that subject. Okay?
QUESTION: All right. So hold on – so – I just want to make sure, you’re saying that all of Jerusalem, not just East Jerusalem, is a final status issue?
MS. NULAND: Matt, I don’t have anything further on Jerusalem to what I’ve already said.

This has been the US' long standing position across the decades and many administrations. It appears that the official US position is that Jerusalem was meant to be a corpus separatum, an international city, in the 1947 partition plan and as such its status - including the Israeli side of the Green Line - is still up in the air. This is in marked contradiction to the other US position that everything west of the Green Line is part of Israel. Nevertheless, the US refused to recognize Israel's declaration of Jerusalem as its capital in 1949, and that remains in effect.

In response, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made a statement:

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today called on the Administration to publically recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. During today’s Department of State press briefing, the Department’s spokesperson refused to answer whether Jerusalem is located in Israel and whether it is the capital of Israel. The questions were related to a press release issued Monday by the Department that noted ongoing travel by a Department official to “Algeria, Qatar, Jordan, Jerusalem, and Israel,” implying that Jerusalem and Israel are two distinct entities. State later issued a release noting the official’s travel to “Algiers, Doha, Amman, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv.” Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“For more than three years, the Obama Administration has followed in the flawed footsteps of its predecessors by refusing to fully implement U.S. law and move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“Now, the Administration has gone even further. A mistake on a press release is understandable, but today the Administration doubled down on its determination to treat Jerusalem as separate from Israel. Where does the Administration think Jerusalem is? On Mars?

“Legitimizing the myth that Jerusalem isn’t part of Israel undermines our ally Israel’s sovereign right to designate its own capital, and lends credibility to efforts by Palestinian leaders and extremists who continue to deny the connection of the Jewish people to their historic capital, Jerusalem.

“The Administration needs to face reality, recognize publicly that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, and fully enforce U.S. law by moving our embassy to Jerusalem.”
Israel's Foreign Ministry also responded:
“Jerusalem is Israel’s capital by decision of the Knesset and nothing can change that,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. “Every country is entitled to choose its own capital and it is not for others to designate any one else’s capital. It’s our capital, no matter what anyone else is saying.”
Keep in mind though that if the long-dead "international city" idea is part of the reason for the US' position, then that means that Bethlehem, which was meant to be part of it as well, is also up for negotiations. In fact, the area of Jerusalem envisioned in the 1947 partition plan is much larger than greater Jerusalem is today, in all directions:

I have never yet heard any State Department spokesperson say that Bethlehem - most of which is in Area A, under full PA control - is up for final-status negotiations. But if you follow the logic, it must be. (Maybe Ramallah is also a final-status issue.)

Perhaps that would be a good follow-up question for Ms. Nuland. Or is the State Department more worried about angering Arabs than angering Jews?

UPDATE: A good article on the evolution of US attitudes towards Jerusalem is here.

Don't call the Global March to Jerusalem anti-semitic! Here is a picture on the Facebook page of the Global March to Jerusalem - Australian National Committee:

But don't call them anti-semitic! They really hate that!

This is actually a slightly edited version of a cartoon by known anti-semitic cartoonist Emad Hajjaj, a Palestinian Jordanian.

The Global March to Jerusalem is planned for this Friday. Thousands of supposedly "peaceful" people from all over the world will approach Israel's borders, and their mob mentality will ensure that dozens will attempt to enter Israel.

They'll be shot as any hostile person approaching any country illegally would be shot. Some might be killed by land-mines on the Arab sides of the borders. Headlines will scream about how Israel kills innocent, unarmed civilians.

It's street theater with people willing to get themselves killed.

Which is exactly what they are hoping for. Sacrificing a few hotheads is a small price to pay for some juicy headlines. And if no one gets killed, no one would care.

By the way, it seems most interesting that on a week when Israel is going to be effectively attacked from all directions, the Guardian decides that they want to write an article about how the fences Israel builds on its borders are somehow sucking the soul of the nation, or something.

The Israeli Opera

Palestinian and Israeli Farmers Participate in Joint Conference for Improvement of Gazan Economy

On March 2012, more than 30,000 farmers from all over the world attended the 26th agricultural exhibition in Tel-Aviv. A delegation from the Gaza Strip was among the participants. During the exhibition, the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) also arranged training workshops for the Palestinian farmers. The activities of COGAT over the past year have been fruitful. In total, the exports from the Gaza Strip to Europe were 450 tons of strawberries, 50 tons of peppers, 69 tons of tomatoes and 3.5 million bunches of flowers.

Jon Stewart: Shaq Talks Jewish

Israel Buys Azeri Air Field on Iran's Northern Border Foreign Policy magazine reports Israel has purchased an Azeri airfield on Iran's northern border, prompting the U.S. to watch very closely.

Foreign Policy magazine reported in an exclusive piece this week that Israel has purchased an Azeri airfield on Iran's northern border, prompting the United States to watch very closely. Journalist Mark Perry wrote the Obama administration is monitoring Israel's relations with Azerbaijan, particularly its military ties.
Israel has tightened up its relations with Baku over the past several years, helping Azerbaijan modernize its military with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and becoming its second-largest customer for oil.
In particular, the $1.6 billion Israeli deal to jointly manufacture 60 drones of various types with Azerbaijan infuriated Turkey, according to a retired U.S. diplomat quoted in the report. The IDF canceled a $150 million contract to develop and manufacture drones with the Turkish military after Ankara demanded an apology following the Mavi Marmara flotilla attempt to breach Israel's maritime blockade of Gaza.
“The Israelis have bought an airfield,” an official told the journalist, “and the airfield is called Azerbaijan.”
The Americans believe Israel may use the site as a springboard for an attack on Iran's nuclear plants, or as a landing and refueling spot following one. The site could also be used for aircraft needed for search, rescue and recovery in the wake of an attack.
“We're watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it,” an official told the Foreign Policy writer.

Arabs translating the Talmud to understand the evil that is Israel

From JPost:
A think tank on Middle East affairs in Jordan has for the first time published a translation of the Babylonian Talmud in Arabic.

Middle East Studies Center based in Amman produced the 20-volume work, which took six years to complete and is the labor of 95 translators, language experts and editors.

The center’s director Jawad Ahmad refused to speak about the project with The Jerusalem Post and a member of the staff said that Ahmad would not speak with the Israeli press.

Information on the project available on the think tank’s website describes the Babylonian Talmud as “the most important work of historical Judaism and its religious teachings and theories of Jewish groups.” The center took on the Arabic translation of the Babylonian Talmud, it says, to understand the religious and philosophical roots and thought of the Orthodox Jewish mentality and will “open broad horizons for academic researchers to understand Jewish religious thought and to understand its ramifications throughout history.”

According to Dr. Mordechai Kedar, director of a new center for Middle East and Islamic Studies at Bar-Ilan University and an expert in Arabic literature and Middle East affairs, the Talmud is usually portrayed very negatively in the Muslim and Arab world.

“I doubt this new translation was done out of the goodness of their heart,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “The Muslim world generally looks upon the Talmud as a kind of prototype for the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” Kedar said in reference to the early 20th century fabrication purporting to contain Jewish plans for world domination.

The difference, Kedar explained, is that Jews do not deny the authenticity of the Talmud and therefore those looking for evidence in Jewish culture of hatred of Arabs, Muslims and non-Jews can take selective quotations and passages from the text to show how Jews denigrate and disparage these groups.

Dr. Esther Webman, an expert in Muslim-Jewish Relations and Arab anti-Semitism at Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, largely concurred with this analysis.

“The Talmud in the Muslim world is considered to be the main source of Jewish iniquity,” she said. “They highlight aspects of it which are not so flattering and put it at the forefront of their presentation of it. Essentially, they use the Talmud as a tool to accuse Jews of certain habits and traits, so it is portrayed as the epitome of the Jewish and the Zionist mentality.

“It is part and parcel of the expansion of anti-Semitism into the Arab world,” Webman said.

According to Kedar, Islamic scholars are generally unfamiliar with Jewish sources, but academics in the Muslim world use the Talmud to “explain” Jewish behavior.

“Israel is a puzzle for the Muslim world,” Kedar said. “It’s a small country made by refugees who built a successful Western-style state, with high GDP per capita, which has won wars and where Arabs enjoy a much better lifestyle than most other places.

“They don’t understand how this can work; it looks like some kind of satanic enterprise to them when most Arab states are more or less failures, so they want to understand the cultural and religious roots of their enemy, to maybe solve this puzzle one day and perhaps in the end defeat Israel.”perhaps in the end defeat Israel.”
A poked around a little and saw some earlier attempts to translate the Talmud into Arabic. One Arabic scholar named Nabil Fayyad translated some of it; here is his translation of the first few Mishnayot of Avodah Zarah along with portions of the Gemara. 

In 2010, Al Masry al Youm had an essay about the origins of the Talmud, mentioning the irony that Arabs used to know the Talmud in the era of their prophets. That article only spoke about the Mishnah, though, so a professor of Talmudic studies at Ain Shams University wrote another article to set the record straight. In it she claims that the Gemara was written down only after the rise of Islam and as a reaction to it -and that the rabbis then excised all mentions of Islam! (This is of course false; the Koran has some influence from the Talmud.) She also says that there was an Arabic translation of Mishnah Kedushin in 1982, she translated the Mishnah of Ketubot in 1995, and she was about to introduce a translation of Berachot. 

I also found a book called "The Battle of Existence Between the Koran and the Talmud." 

SERAPHIC SECRET: College Democrats Invite Farrakhan to Campus

Louis Farrakhan: "The Black man and woman have always been looked upon as the 'property' of White America; and particularly, members of the Jewish community. They've always looked at you as 'belonging' to them."—Speech at Mosque Maryam,Chicago, 3/7/10

Let’s see if I understand this correctly: Democrats who claim to champion intolerance of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, gender inequality, etc., are perfectly okay with a racist Jew-hater.
Indeed, not just passively okay with the man who has for decades referred to Judaism as “The Synagogue of Satan” and a “gutter religion” but a coalition of Democrat student clubs including the Alabama A&M Democrats and the Alabama A&M Poetry Club, at Alabama A&M, have invited Louis Farrakhan to speak on their campus.
Poetry club president Kris Taylor told WHNT the Farrakhan appearance, which comes on the heels of anti-Jewish comments by the Nation of Islam leader, is intended to “uplift” and bring “positive energy.”
“There’s going to be positive energy coming from this,” Taylor told WHNT. “I don’t believe he’s going to come here and bash the Jews…There should be no division when you’re trying to uplift and bring positive energy to something.”
Which makes Farrakhan sound like just another brand of aromatherapy.
Here’s just a small sample of Farrakhan’s positive energy:
“Did you know that the Koran says that Jews are the most violent of people. I didn’t write it, but I’m living to see it.”
—Saviours’ Day, Chicago, Illinois, 2/26/12
“I think we have made a grave mistake; we have been deceived into thinking that the Jews have been our allies in our recent civil rights struggle… Yes, he poses as your friend. He’s with you as an agent, he’s with you as a manager, he’s with you as an investor, he’s with you as a guide in economic development, but he has never asked you to do what he has done. He networks with other rich, influential Jews and he buys, he invests, he’s in trade and commerce.”
—Interview with Washington, DC, radio station WPFW-FM, 4/1/10
“Some of you think that I’m just somebody who’s got something out for the Jewish people. You’re stupid. Do you think I would waste my time if I did not think it was important for you to know Satan? My job is to pull the cover off of Satan so that he will never deceive you and the people of the world again.”
—Saviours’ Day, Rosemont, Illinois, 2/27/11
Imagine how these Democrats would react if Ann Coulter were invited to their campus by Republican students. Navy Seals would have to provide security.
I can guarantee that these same students who seek positive energy from Farrakhan are calling for George Zimmerman’s head on a platter.
For these Democrats, tolerance of genuine intolerance is perfectly tolerable.
Oh, almost forgot: Farrakhan also puts out a lot of positive energy regarding homosexuals:
“The Jewish people have said that Hollywood is theirs. Can any of you deny that they are the masters of Hollywood, where sex, lesbianism, homosexuality and violence are promoted?”
—Speech at Mosque Maryam,Chicago, 3/7/10