Friday, March 29, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Obama's Act of Cowardice

The President of the United States came to Israel for a visit. Instead of addressing the legally elected representatives of the nation in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, he chose to talk to a different crowd. The people who were lucky enough to be present at Obama's speech were college students chosen by the United States Embassy in Israel. The Embassy tellingly excluded students from the university in Ariel.

You can read what he said here. I will not comment on particulars of the speech. In general, he regurgitated typical leftist talking points, complete with references to "settler violence" and "occupation". Obama knew that the nonsense that he wanted to utter would not go unanswered in the Knesset. Therefore he instructed the Embassy to choose a crowd to his liking: star-struck students who would come to cheer the celebrity who came from overseas. What an act of cowardice! What a fake! This is what has become of the United States presidency.

For me, this speech ruined the good impression that he made at the airport. It was almost as bad as the infamous Cairo speech. To quote the late Yitzchak Shamir, "They are the same Arabs, and it is the same sea." We can now add, "And he is the same Obama."

Quote of the Day

"I really take the view now that if someone says he should not be released after 28 years, just pretend that he's a Filipino-American or a Greek-American and pardon him." - former CIA director James Woolsey on those who are opposed to releasing Jonathan Pollard

President Obama Recognizes the Jewish People's Historical Claim to the Land of Israel

To tell you the truth, I'm too busy preparing for Passover to closely follow President Obama's trip to Israel. However, I did hear him say something that was music to my ears:
I know that in stepping foot on this land, I walk with you on the historic homeland of the Jewish people. More than 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people lived here, tended the land here, prayed to God here. And after centuries of exile and persecution, unparalleled in the history of man, the founding of the Jewish state of Israel, was a rebirth, a redemption, unlike any in history. Today, the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah are fulfilling the dream of the ages: to be masters of their own fate in their own sovereign state. Just as we have for these past 65 years, the United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend.
Thank you Mr. President. You are absolutely correct. We, the Jews, are revenants that have returned to our ancient homeland. Enjoy your stay here in the land of Israel.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Jerusalem Calatrava Bridge Update

Okay, there is nothing really new here. The bridge and the light train have become a part of the daily routine for many Jerusalemites and have found their place on the landscape. (Click on the pics for an enlargement.)

Cars cross the tracks in Kiryat Moshe after the train passes by:

Near the bridge looking north:

The mast in all of its glory:

The view from the top:

A train ascending the bridge near the Central Bus Station:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The New Israeli Draft Plan

INN has published details of the new draft plan as agreed upon by the three major partners in the new coaliton: Likud-Beiteinu, Yesh Atid, and HaBayit HaYehudi:
Sources in Bayit Yehudi said they had managed to alleviate some of the harsher strictures that Yesh Atid had sought in the agreement, and had even improved the standing of yeshivas in some ways. Among those accomplishments, party sources said, was the recognition by the state for the first time of the importance of Torah study.

The coalition agreement will read “the State of Israel recognizes the importance and centrality of Torah study as a central value of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.” Students who do receive exemptions will be receiving them as Torah students upholding these values, as opposed to receiving them for “academic excellence,” as Yesh Atid had sought to have them termed.

In addition, the draft of yeshiva students will begin at age 21, instead of age 18 – giving students an automatic deferment of three years. At that point, they will have to serve two years, like all other Israelis, as the coalition agreement calls for an eventual reduction of service for all Israelis to two years, instead of the current three years.

The reduction in service for all will be possible as a result of the extra manpower the army will have with the inclusion of hareidi yeshiva students. The army will significantly increase the number of Nachal Hareidi units to accommodate the new recruits. A wide-ranging plan for the drafting of women that Lapid had sought was also shelved, Bayit Yehudi said.

Yeshiva students who refuse to appear for military service will not be criminally charged, as had been planned. Instead they will be subject to economic sanctions, losing virtually all government support. Party officials said that this aspect of the agreement would avoid the “doomsday” scenarios hareidi political leaders portrayed of jack-booted military police marching into yeshiva study halls and pulling students away from their Talmud folios. No arrests will be made in yeshivas, the deal specifies.

The number of students who will be exempted for Torah study will be 1,800, far more than the 400 Lapid had suggested. The plan will take effect only in 2017, and students who are beyond enlistment age up until that time will not be “grandfathered” into the arrangement.

The article does not tell us if the plan has anything to say about the drafting of Arabs. Neither does it inform us of what will be the status of the various Hesder programs under this plan. Is the 1,800 exemptions per student-year, or is it the grand total? (I think that it is the grand total.) How will it be decided who gets these exemptions? Can you imagine what kind of Hareidi infighting this could cause?

If this plan goes into effect, what will the reaction of the ultra-Orthodox? Since the plan apparently does not talk about drafting Arabs, I imagine that the Hareidim will take their case to the High Court of Justice, saying that the plan is discriminatory. I do not expect the court to help them, because drafting Hareidim has been on the secular agenda for so long. They will resort to their regular legal newspeak to sanction the law.

It is obvious that many Hareidim will forgo government benefits in order to avoid army service and to continue the way of life that they are accustomed to. What's more, since this is being done against their will of the Hareidi rabbis, many of special programs that exist today that are geared towards the ultra-Orthodox, such as “Bina B'Yarok”, may be shunned.

I also suspect that there are those who will choose to live abroad. The land of Israel is acquired through affliction, and not everybody is ready to pay the price.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"We are the Reason the Temple is Not Rebuilt"

This is interesting especially at this time of year, when Jews all over the world are reading the Book of Leviticus in the synagogue and preparing for Passover. I do not necessarily agree with everything that Rabbi Richman says here but it is certainly food for thought:

Esther Pollard's Heartfelt Appeal to President Obama

Will the President listen?

Friday, March 08, 2013

Our Unfortunate Situation

Yes, the situation is a mess. Relations between the National Religious public and the ultra-Orthodox are tense. The UOs are mad at the NRs for making a political pact with Yair Lapid. Although I understand that Naftali Bennett was really forced into this pact because of Netanyahu's desire to keep him and the Jewish Home party out of the government, I cannot say that I am happy about it. I wanted to see a different pact, and I warned what would happen if such a pact would not be formed:
The religious parties are now faced with a great task: to strive for unity! This unity must not be a unity of "lets grit our teeth and bear them". It must be a unity of mutual respect, founded on humbleness and the ability to see beyond one's own shteeble.

HaBayit HaYehudi went a long way on the road to unity before the elections, and it payed off in the polling booth. Now they, along with Shas and Yahadut HaTorah, must bury the hatchet, and find the way to sanctify God's name in the public sphere. The public will not forgive them if they fail.

Instead, we have this unfortunate situation. The man ultimately responsible is Prime Minister Netanyahu. He is the one who destroyed the natural Right/Religious/ultra-Orthodox block. In the previous elections he left the National Union out of the government, in spite of numerous promises to bring them in. In the current elections the Likud-Beiteinu campaign found nothing better to do than to besmirch the Jewish Home party. The Jewish Home party tried to form a block with Shas and UTJ. Since these efforts did not bear fruit, Bennett, like I wrote previously, had a choice between making a pact with Lapid or sitting in the opposition.

As far as the government that will be formed, they should know that any attempt to conscript Hareidim against their will is doomed to fail. Bennett will have to prove that he really is an "ach", a brother, to the ultra-Orthodox public who feels, justifiably or not, betrayed. The Jewish Home Party will have to stand like a fortified wall against the anti-Torah forces in the Yesh Atid party, as well as other anti-Torah MKs in the Knesset.

HH #400

It's amazing that this thing is still alive and kicking.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Talking About Pollard in the Knesset

MKs Yoni Shetbon and Nachman Shai initiated a special discussion in the Knesset today regarding Jonathan Pollard. MK Moshe Feiglin reiterated that if President Obama comes to Israel before releasing Pollard from prison, he (Moshe Feiglin) will boycott Obama's speech in the Knesset. Her urged other MKs to do the same:

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