A Jewish man covered in a prayer shawl prays in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank, Dec. 18, 2016.
The clash between Israel and Iran in the Syrian arena Feb. 10 has sparked fears of an escalation into all-out war, and rightly so. The risk of thousands of precision missiles fired at Israel resulting in thousands of casualties and devastating the Israeli economy is prompting decision-makers in Jerusalem to step on the brakes. The regime in Tehran also has good reasons to exercise caution: War with Israel would play into the hands of US President Donald Trump and the Republican camp, both seeking to undo the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran. Its end would result in renewed sanctions on Iran, dealing a severe blow to millions of Iranians.
When neither side has a rational interest in escalation, one can assume each will make every effort to avoid one. However, the same cannot be said when a group of self-appointed warriors of God holds sway over political decisions. Enlightened states hospitalize or incarcerate people who undermine national strategic interests for the sake of “sanctifying God’s name.” The State of Israel, on the other hand, caters to a fundamentalist group willing to sacrifice its sons and daughters for a piece of land. The Jews call them “martyrs,” and for Muslims they’re “shahids,” an Arabic word that also means martyr. Jewish rabbis promise their dead a life in Paradise. Muslim clerics add a bonus: 72 virgins awaiting the shahids in Paradise.
On Feb. 5, Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal of the West Bank settlement Har Bracha was murdered in a terror attack outside Ariel, another settlement. Eliezer Melamed, the rabbi of Har Bracha and founder of the rabbinical seminar located on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Nablus, delivered a eulogy at his graveside. “Recently, Rabbi Itamar and his wife Miriam spoke about the possibility that one of them would be killed for the sanctification of God’s name, and agreed that they were prepared to courageously rise to the challenge,” Melamed said. This spiritual leader of a significant religious Zionist group, a community rabbi whose salary is paid by Israeli taxpayers, consoled the mourners by saying, “Blessed is one who merits dying for the mitzvah [godly command] of settling the Land of Israel.”
Ordinary people watching four children accompany their father to his grave see a human tragedy. For some, the murder of an Israeli citizen by an Arab is further proof that there’s no partner for peace. For others, it shows that the time has come to vacate the Israeli settlements. Melamed and his disciples view the death of a friend or relative at the hands of a terrorist as the realization of a divine mission. “The best revenge is to keep building, to build another neighborhood and another neighborhood, and to turn Har Bracha into a city,” Melamed exhorted the mourners.
The young widow also wishes to endow her husband’s murder with metaphysical significance by turning her sorrow into a tool with which to dig the foundations of additional settlement homes. “We trust you that in this case, as well, you will help us provide the real answer, which is the expansion and construction of Har Bracha,” Miriam Ben-Gal told Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who came to pay a condolence call. The mother of four small children who will grow up fatherless in a hostile neighborhood explained to her visitor, “Our grip on this land is critical.” Quite right. Every settlement outpost is critical in the settlers’ struggle to scuttle prospects of a diplomatic agreement with the Palestinians.
The two-state solution — the only alternative to Israel’s becoming a binational or apartheid state — would involve vacating isolated West Bank settlements such as Har Bracha, Itamar and Havat Gilad to make way for a Palestinian state. However, successive Israeli governments have taught the settlers that every murder of one of their own holds the potential for another outpost, for another obstacle on the road to compromise. For example, following the March 2011 murder of five members of the Fogel family from Itamar, their friends established a new outpost adjacent to the settlement, and the government approved the construction of hundreds of new housing units in the occupied territory. Thirty days after the terror attack, the cornerstone was laid for a rabbinical house of study in Itamar that would bear the name of the head of the family, Ehud Fogel.
Rabbi Raziel Shevach, a Havat Gilad outpost resident who was murdered in a terror attack last month, was interred in a new makeshift cemetery established the day after the attack, a clear sign of the intention to turn the outpost into a permanent settlement. Indeed, on Feb. 4 the government approved plans to make the outpost into an authorized settlement.
A new book by Neima Barzel, “Redemption Now: The beliefs and activities of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Israeli society,” illustrates the central role played by death and war in the messianic plans of national-religious Zionism. She cites remarks by Amnon Shapira, the former secretary-general of the religious Bnei Akiva youth movement, who said, “Judaism does not view life itself as the one and only supreme value.” The book also quotes Yisrael Hess, one-time rabbi of Bar-Ilan University, who pledged, “The day will come when we will all be called upon to carry out a holy war, the mitzvah war to obliterate Amalek,” a reference to the ancient people considered the archenemies of the Israelites.
At a Jan. 21 seminar held by Tel Aviv University’s Steinmetz Center for Peace Research to discuss Barzel’s book, writer Haim Be’er accused the settlers of violating three fundamental Jewish precepts that ban bloodshed, incest and idolatry at all cost. Be’er reminded his listeners of the Jewish Underground, the West Bank settlers who carried out violent attacks in the 1980s against Palestinians, arguing that the settlers had infected Israeli soldiers with violence and vulgarity. “This is a disgrace that I attribute to the control of another people,” said Be’er, himself a graduate of religious Zionist education. Noting the sin of forbidden sexual relations committed in recent years by a handful of rabbis within religious Zionism, he added that attributing sanctity to the biblical Land of Israel — today’s West Bank— was nothing short of idolatry.
When a limited clash with Iran threatened to drag Israel into a bloody war, Russian President Vladimir Putin came to the rescue and calmed both sides. But when a fundamentalist Jewish minority imposes on Israel a religious war to the end — or to the coming of the messiah, whichever happens first — no one comes to Israel’s salvation. The latest contribution by the only man in the position to save Israel from the disaster of its 50-year occupation of another people, Trump, was advice for Israel to be “very careful” with the settlement enterprise. Despite his own advice, the president called his hasty, controversial Dec. 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel his most important achievement since being sworn in.
Jeremy Corbyn leads a pro-Palestinian demonstration in London in 2014, one year before becoming Labour Party leader. Photo: File.
This marked a massive rise from the previous such survey, in which only 39% of Jews believed Corbyn was antisemitic.
British Jews also expressed an extremely low opinion of the Labour Party in general. The poll showed that 85.6% believed Labour suffered from “very high” levels of antisemitism.
Corbyn and his party have been beset with a series of high-profile antisemitism scandals for several years, which has resulted in the resignation and suspension of several prominent officials. Corbyn himself was recently caught on video saying that “Zionists” did not understand “English irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time.”
Makuya in Jerusalem 201 (YouTube)
Like an apple tree among trees of the forest, So is my beloved among the youths. I delight to sit in his shade, And his fruit is sweet to my mouth. (Song of Songs 2:3)
For ten days in late August, Israeli Rabbi Benny Lau and his wife, Rabbanit Noah Lau, traveled from Jerusalem to Japan to lead Bible study for groups of Makuya Japanese Christians. The Laus traveled to five Japanese towns and spent three days together at a weekend conference with 3,400 members of the Makuya group.
Makuya is Japanese for the Hebrew word Mishkan, the tent of meeting, where human beings come into contact with God. The Mishkan was the portable sanctuary that the Israelites used in the desert, before entering Israel and building the First Holy Temple.
The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. (Psalm 11:5)
Brazilian presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro. (Credit: Agencia O Globo)
Jair Bolsonaro, the front-runner in the upcoming presidential election in Brazil, was stabbed during a campaign rally Thursday and was undergoing surgery.
The far-right politician, whose heated rhetoric has electrified some voters and angered others – -who accuse him of racism and homophobia – in a deeply polarized electorate, was attacked amid a crowd in the south-east state of Minas Gerais. Bolsonaro has performed strongly in recent opinion polls.
Those same polls suggested that he will likely receive the most votes in next month’s presidential elections, especially if the country’s former president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva (‘Lula’) remains blocked from standing. He is currently in prison, but is appealing against his candidacy ban – imposed after his conviction for corruption.
Republican lawmakers have made it clear they have no intention of repealing Obamacare in the current Congress.
Republicans in the nation’s top lawmaking body have never really wanted to get rid of Obamacare. They would prefer to present the program, which David Horowitz correctly describes as “the greatest assault on individual freedom and individual choice in our lifetimes,” as a villain and whip up sentiment against it and run against it every election. They view Obamacare as good for the business of politics. They may chip away at it from time to time or tinker with it at the margins, but make no mistake: these creatures of Washington want to keep it in place. This is the Republicans’ dirty secret.
The Trump administration has decided to reopen a case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, previously closed by the Obama administration in 2014, alleging that the university had allowed Jewish students to be subjected to a hostile environment in violation of Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act. The issue, ignored by the Obama administration, was whether the students were discriminated against based on their actual or perceived Jewish ancestry or ethnicity. Kenneth L. Marcus, the new assistant secretary of education for civil rights, decided that the case deserved another look.
Nestled in the Han River in the middle of South Korea’s bustling capital of Seoul, Yeoui Island is hardly where one would expect to find the largest mega-church in the world. Home to the city’s business and financial district, its skyline dotted with skyscrapers, the island boasts some of the country’s most powerful institutions, such as the Korean stock exchange and the headquarters of LG, the international conglomerate.
The AfD’s opponents, who often brand the party as “far right” or “extremist,” claim that the party’s alleged ties to neo-Nazi groups pose an existential threat to Germany’s constitutional order. The AfD’s supporters counter that Germany’s politically correct establishment, afraid of losing its power and influence, is attempting to outlaw a legitimate party that has pledged to put the interests of German citizens first.
Israel’s Palestinian foes regard “martyrdom” as the supremely highest expression of Islamic sacredness. Nonetheless, there are certain conspicuously prominent disjunctions between the relevant obligations of faith and expectations of international law. Unambiguously, only the latter set of obligations can offer a suitably authoritative source for assessing Palestinian resorts to armed force.
This is the case even when the stated objective of such resorts would be “self-determination” and/or “national liberation.”
“Setting fire to the ground,” a “major catastrophe,” bringing “new instability” are the headlines that have greeted Donald Trump’s unorthodox decisions over the past year. Withdrawing from UNESCO, moving the US Embassy, leaving the Iran deal and cutting funding to UNRWA and funding for Pakistan were seen as extreme decisions in the Middle East and around the world. Insofar as there is a “Trump Doctrine,” it has been to call this bluff.
In the mind-set of Trump and his team, the time has come for the United States to move quickly to reverse decades of foreign policy norms, ending the status quo, and ripping up what the previous administrations did.
The jihadi assault on and massacre of Christians continued unabated throughout the Muslim word. According to one report titled, “Armed gangs WIPE OUT 15 villages in mass Christian slaughter in Nigeria,” several Islamic terrorists “stormed through 15 villages to massacre Christians and destroy their churches in a violent crackdown against the religion…. Dozens of people have been killed after the gangs ransacked towns and villages to clear them of all aspects of the Christian faith.
Wars are raging in various parts of the Middle East, although there is a tendency not to call the conflicts by that name because of the fear conjured up by the word.
One conflagration is the war Iran is waging against those – headed by Israel – who stand in the way of its plans to take over the entire Middle East.
Another is the Assad regime’s war to take back control of the entire country, and a third is the PLO’s battle for survival.
Much has been written about the first of these wars, and reports have claimed that from early 2017 on, Israel has launched over 200 attacks in Syria, mainly at targets connected to Iran.