Today is a travel day - but I'm not traveling until this evening.
The 'Palestinian police' beat to death Ahmad Izz Halaweh, a 'Palestinian' who was arrested for being involved in shooting two 'Palestinian police' to death in Shchem (Nablus). It goes without saying that Hamas is claiming that Halaweh's death constitutes a 'new height' of 'collaboration with Israel' as if Israel cares about an inter-'Palestinian' fight in a 'Palestinian' city.
Governor of Nablus Akram Rujoub later pronounced him dead.
graphic photo shared on social media of Halaweh after the brutal attack
showed his face, neck, and shoulders badly bruised and swollen.
Halaweh, reportedly the most prominent Nablus-area leader of Fatah's
military wing the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, was the third civilian to be
killed by Palestinian security officers following Thursday’s shooting.
Huh? A leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is a 'civilian'?
Shortly after Halaweh’s killing,
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced that a special
committee would be formed to look into Halaweh’s death and publicly
share the results of the investigation, calling the situation
Good luck with that....
Hamdallah also called on Palestinians wanted by Palestinian police to turn themselves in.
Yes, 'turn yourselves in or we will kill you. But just give them a 'state' and they'll stop behaving this way. Right....
Meanwhile, while you're passing the popcorn, here comes the United Nations....
In a statement released Tuesday
afternoon, James Heenan, the head of the UN Human Rights Office in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory, said the UN agency was “extremely
concerned about the apparent extrajudicial execution."
welcome the prompt announcement of an investigation into the killing by
Prime Minister Hamdallah, and urge the Palestinian authorities to hold
independent investigations into the string of events since last week
that have now seen five people lose their lives." Heenan
insisted that the security officers involved in the “unlawful killings”
be "brought to justice and be suspended, pending the completion of the
no place for such acts in a State of Palestine that seeks to abide by
international human rights law," Heenan said, concluding that "Our
Office will follow this case closely.”
The rabbi of Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh, North Carolina announced on Friday that the trip to Arafat's tomb is off.
On Friday, August 19, 2016, 10:15 AM, Beth Meyer Synagogue wrote:
August 19, 2016
Shalom Beth Meyer Family,
I write to you with a very heavy heart.
The past few weeks have been
extraordinarily painful for me, Rabbi Jenny, our congregation's leaders,
and many in the Beth Meyer family and extended Jewish community. This
letter - which admittedly is quite lengthy - is designed
to provide a detailed explanation of how this situation came about and
how I have chosen to resolve it.
During my time at Beth Meyer, I have led
four "pilgrimage" trips to Israel that visited many of the historic and
spiritually-rich sites that lift the soul and build one's love for and
connection to the State of Israel. These tours
included stops at sites that illustrate the threats and precarious
security issues Israel faces on a daily basis. I will continue to offer
such tours in the future.
A few months ago, I invited Beth Meyer
members to participate in a trip to Israel and the West Bank under the
auspices of MEJDI Tours, a company that provides customized educational
tours in regions worldwide suffering from conflict.
In this case, the tour was to be a "dual-narrative" tour with both
Israeli and Palestinian tour guides that would visit Israel and the West
This process began some two years ago
when I first heard of MEJDI Tours and began to look into the
organization. I learned that MEJDI, in the past, has partnered with the
Israeli Ministry of Tourism, the Israeli Foreign Ministry,
Israeli educational institutions and numerous American synagogues. In
addition, MEJDI has been featured in a range of respected media outlets,
including Haaretz, Forbes and National Geographic Explorer.
After thoroughly researching MEJDI's
credentials with rabbis and Jewish leaders across the U.S. and Israel, I
was comfortable that MEJDI was, in fact, a non-partisan tour operator
that offers individuals unique immersive experiences
to learn about complex issues first-hand. MEJDI does not preach or
support any specific agenda or form of hate, violence or terror. Rather,
it is an apolitical organization that believes increased education and
understanding can help build bridges across cultures
and stimulate peace.
While studying in Israel in the summer
of 2015, I took the opportunity to tour the West Bank in a group that
had with it a Palestinian MEJDI guide. It was, to say the least, a
profound (and often surprising) experience that allowed
me to hear perspectives few of us ever hear. For example, the guide was
highly critical of the Palestinian Authority and its leaders, both past
and present. He condemned violence by Palestinians and emphasized that
he "despises Hamas." When I asked challenging
questions, his responses recognized weaknesses in Palestinian
positions. Moreover, he mocked the backwardness of the Arab world, as
well as its lack of support for human rights and democracy. And, while
he did criticize a number of Israeli government policies,
his words were balanced, thoughtful and nuanced.
After reviewing this idea with Beth
Meyer's leaders and securing their approval, I invited the Beth Meyer
family to participate in a MEJDI tour next spring. I wholeheartedly
believed I was helping to provide a rare opportunity
for seasoned Israel travelers to learn about the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict in a broader, deeper way. With expert guides who would be both
supportive and critical of their own government's policies, I hoped
participants would gain new insights and hear from
peace-makers working on the ground to make a difference. I thought,
perhaps naively, that this MEJDI tour would offer a different kind of
experience for Zionist, Israel-loving Jews who want to explore the many
intricacies of this terrible conflict.
For some in the congregation, there was
immediate interest in participating and many quickly submitted their
deposits. For others, there was no interest at all. Some congregants
asked thoughtful questions, and others criticized
my attempt to organize such a trip due to their belief that the
itinerary was unbalanced. And there were some who expressed serious
concerns about the potential damage the tour could cause the Beth Meyer
community and the image of the State of Israel.
While my intentions were pure, my heart
broke as I listened to the pain my actions had caused some congregants. I
listened carefully to this feedback and discussed what I heard with
Rabbi Jenny and synagogue leaders.
After deep reflection and
soul-searching, I have decided to cancel the trip. To anyone who feels
confused, hurt or upset on account of my actions, I sincerely apologize
and ask your forgiveness.
Please know my decision was not made
because I don't believe in the tour's value - I do. Nor was it made
because a handful of individuals outside of our holy congregation - none
of whom have ever talked or met with me - spread
inaccurate and misleading information about Rabbi Jenny and me that
spawned threats of personal violence. In this season of Tisha B'Av when
we remember the many tragedies of our people, personally experiencing
this kind of sinat hinam (baseless hatred) was
Rather, I made this decision because I
deeply love Beth Meyer and what we, as a family, have built these past
11+ years. And I want to emphasize that my love embraces each and every
one of you, regardless of where you land on the
spiritual, social or political spectra. I am touched that so many
congregants pleaded with me to move forward as planned, but I cannot -
and will not - do anything that jeopardizes the integrity of the Beth
I want to thank everyone who has shared
their thoughts with me about this issue. Most particularly, I want to
acknowledge the input and guidance I received from our President Eric
Lamb, the Beth Meyer Synagogue Executive Board,
lay leaders and, of course, my wife and partner, Jenny.
Just as the Torah teaches that God
created the world with immense variety, so too my vision of our
congregation is one where we accept and celebrate both the common bonds
and differences among us. Civil discussion, respectful debate
and honoring diverse opinions are Jewish values that our people have
embraced for millennia. They are the values that form the foundation of
my rabbinate, and they are the values that make Beth Meyer such a
When appropriate and rooted in Jewish
values, I will continue to take public positions on issues where I
believe my contribution can be constructive. I want to stress, however,
that I do not and never will expect to have consensus
across our membership on any issue, least of all, the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (In fact, if all I heard was a unanimous
"Amen," I would think something was wrong. It wouldn't be Jewish, and it
wouldn't be the Beth Meyer that I cherish!)
At some point in the future, perhaps,
our congregation may again consider an educational initiative such as a
MEJDI tour. But that would happen only after there has been ample
opportunity for all interested members to learn about
the opportunity and discuss it thoroughly with input from a broad
cross-section of our members.
In that spirit, I invite anyone who has
questions about this situation or would like to share any other
concerns to contact me via e-mail (email@example.com ) or phone (919.848.1420).
I will be delighted to sit down and hear your thoughts and ideas.
This episode, though challenging, has
been a valuable learning experience for all of us. I pray that we use it
to deepen the bonds we share and inspire us to continue nurturing the
Beth Meyer family and strengthening our commitment
to and love of God, the Torah, the Jewish people, the State of Israel
and one another.
At this moment, perhaps more than ever, I
thank God and each of you for the privilege of serving as Beth Meyer's
rabbi. Rabbi Jenny and I, along with our entire family, look forward to
welcoming the New Year with our holy, hamish (warm)
congregation at the High Holy Days.
B'ahavah (With love),
Rabbi Eric Solomon
Something tells me there may still be a trip in the future....
The problem with trying to 'understand the other' is that it only works if it's a two-way street. In Israel, much of our population spent 1993-2000 trying to 'understand the other.' Unfortunately, it was never a two-way street (and we suffered plenty of terror attacks during that period) and it ended in a full-blown intifadeh that left hundreds of Israelis dead, wounded, widowed and orphaned.
The 'conflict' is insoluble because only one side is interested in a solution. Most Israelis now have had enough pain inflicted on them that they get that. I hope the rest of world Jewry comes around without suffering all the pain that we suffered.
EXCLUSIVE/ Two independent sources told EurActiv.com that the US has
started transferring nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania,
against the background of worsening relations between Washington and
According to one of the sources, the transfer has been very challenging in technical and political terms.
“It’s not easy to move 20+ nukes,” said the source, on conditions of anonymity.
According to a recent report by the Simson Center,
since the Cold War, some 50 US tactical nuclear weapons have been
stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik air base, approximately 100 kilometres
from the Syrian border.
During the failed coup in Turkey in July, Incirlik’s power was cut,
and the Turkish government prohibited US aircraft from flying in or out.
Eventually, the base commander was arrested and implicated in the coup.
Whether the US could have maintained control of the weapons in the
event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable
question, the report says.
Another source told EurActiv.com that the US-Turkey relations had
deteriorated so much following the coup that Washington no longer
trusted Ankara to host the weapons. The American weapons are being moved
to the Deveselu air base in Romania, the source said.
Deveselu, near the city of Caracal, is the new home of the US missile shield, which has infuriated Russia.
The Romanians are denying the story. And of course, no one else is confirming it.
According to practice dating from the Cold War, leaked information
regarding the presence of US nuclear weapons on European soil has never
been officially confirmed. It is, however, public knowledge that
Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy host US nuclear weapons.
From Israel's perspective, anything that gets nuclear weapons away from Turkey is good for the Jews.
Anyone who recognizes this picture and can identify the person in it before they read this post deserves a prize.
This post is slightly off topic, as in it doesn't directly deal with Israel. Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is one of my college classmates (for the record, another is David M. ("Dave") Friedman, the 'Israel adviser' to Donald Trump). Rabbi Pruzansky is the rabbi of a shul in Teaneck, New Jersey where many of my friends consider him to be a 'controversial' figure.
About a week ago, I told someone somewhere in social media that this election in the US reminds me of the 1972 Nixon-McGovern election. I was a little too young to vote, but I can recall arguing with my parents that they should vote for Nixon because 'he may be a crook, but at least he's our crook.' Nixon was gone two years later, but I certainly have no regrets for having supported him.
Rabbi Pruzansky is a historian and compares this election to a much older one of which I was not aware. He compares it to the election of 1856. The picture at the top is the guy who lost that election.
Imagine for a moment a US presidential election between two
candidates, neither of whom is particularly beloved to the populace. One
candidate is an undistinguished former Senator and lackluster Secretary
of State who had few if any accomplishments in office but is breaking a
social barrier by running for the presidency, and the other is a
wealthy businessman with dictatorial tendencies and a populist streak
and inspires devotion in his followers and fear and loathing in his
adversaries. Even members of his own extended family support his
opponent. Imagine also that exactly four years after one of these
individuals is elected – after four years in office of abject failure,
with simmering problems and no solutions – that utter catastrophe
befalls the nation.
We need not let our imagination run that wild because such was the
fateful election of 1856 that pitted James Buchanan against John C.
Fremont. Buchanan, a Democrat, had served without distinction in the
House and Senate, and as Secretary of State under President Polk. His
sole qualification for the presidency, aside from the boxes checked off
on his resume, was that immediately before the election season he was
serving as American ambassador in Great Britain and so was removed from
the disputes then raging over slavery. He remains the only lifelong
bachelor ever to serve as president, shattering once and for all that
important impediment to high office.
His opponent was the colorful Republican John C. Fremont, whose long
locks flowed over his ears and whose beard gave him a dashing
appearance. Fremont was a wealthy businessman who gained his fortune in
an unorthodox way. He was by profession an explorer, one of many
Americans to go west in the 1840’s blazing new trails and expanding
America’s horizons. He ventured as far as California, and when the
Mexican-American War erupted in 1846, Fremont was awarded a commission
as a Lt.-Colonel, won several battles in California (including in the
area of Santa Barbara) and almost immediately declared himself the
military governor of California.
That did not sit well with his superiors. Fremont was eventually
court-martialed and convicted but had his sentence commuted by President
Polk. Back in California, Fremont found his fortune when his Mexican
workers discovered enormous quantities of gold on land Fremont claimed
as his own. He parlayed that gold into the purchase and development of
extensive real estate holdings, especially around San Francisco, and
into a career in politics, briefly as Senator from California and then
the run for President as the first candidate ever of the newly-minted
There was a third-party candidate as well in this election. Former
president Millard Fillmore ran on the ticket of the self-proclaimed
“American Party,” nicknamed the “Know-Nothings.” They were a party with a
single cause – opposition to immigration; at that time, the disfavored
immigrants were Catholics from Europe. There is no truth to the rumor
that Fillmore promised to build a wall along the Eastern seaboard to
prevent Catholic immigration and have the Vatican pay for it. In any
event, American society today is much more efficient, so Fillmore’s
party has been subsumed by one of our two parties.
All things considered, Fremont was the superior candidate and despite
his intriguing resume would have made a better president, but who
knows? Buchanan the Democrat was pro-slavery in an understated way, and
as a northerner (the only president ever to be born in Pennsylvania), it
was assumed he would attract some Northern votes along with those of
the Southern pro-slavery crowd. Fremont the Republican was anti-slavery,
as were most Republicans of that era, and that moral stance forced his
own father-in-law, Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, to oppose
Fremont and support Buchanan.
Democrats accused Fremont of being unfit for the presidency and
claimed that he would surely provoke a civil war. In the end , of
course, it was Buchanan who won and whose failures as president made the
Civil War, the bloodiest in American history, inevitable.
was closer than it seemed. Buchanan won 45% of the vote to Fremont’s
33%, but the anti-immigrant Fillmore earned a startling 22% of the vote
as the third-party candidate. Absent Fillmore’s involvement and
siphoning of votes from the other two candidates, Fremont might have won
and American history might not have taken the dark turn it did. Fremont
carried most of the north, but even lost his own state of California;
Buchanan swept the slave south and his home state of Pennsylvania (then,
the second largest state after New York). Fillmore won Maryland and
that’s all, and soon faded into obscurity.
Buchanan as President, despite his gaudy resume, allowed the fight
over slavery to escalate. He supported the Dred Scott decision wherein
the Supreme Court ruled that Congress had no authority to prohibit
slavery in the territories and basically allowed this moral and civil
problem to fester. It festered into the outbreak of the Civil War a
month after Buchanan left office and Abraham Lincoln was sworn in. Such
is the price for failed leadership in a time of crisis and for stale
ideas when new thinking is required.
Fremont fought in the Civil War for the Union, later moved to New
York, died in 1890, and is buried in Sparkill, New York in Rockland
County, just a few miles south of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Is past prologue?
Continue reading here. By the way, there is a city along the California coast not far from San Francisco named Fremont, California. Yes, named after the same John C. Fremont (although you have to go his Wikipedia page to confirm that).
> Thank you for being in touch with me personally regarding the
unfortunate insinuation, opprobrium and personal defamation that has
surfaced based on the inaccurate and reckless premeditated judgments
from a member in our community about the draft of an itinerary
to Israel in June, 2017. The refusal to have communicated directly
with me has added hate and peril into this world.
> I very much appreciate your requests to help.
> Here's where things stand -- if you can communicate this
information to expanding circles and to folks who have reached out to
you, or whom you know would be interested to have a fuller/current
briefing, this would help to bring accuracy to a volatile and
> 1. The draft of the itinerary that has gone public is no longer accurate. That itinerary was cancelled.
> 2. There will be a trip to Israel in June, 2017 that will be
planned with a different itinerary in the coming weeks, with the input
of the leadership of Agudas Achim. I believe that the goals of
exploring Israel as it wrestles with its status as a democracy
and Jewish state can be achieved in alternative, affirming ways -- and
rest assured, the new itinerary will not stop at the grave of Arafat.
> Please do not hesitate to be in touch as we continue to strive to
build engagement, literacy, and positive excitement for Israel within
our community -- and as we look to keep each other safe and well.
> Am Yisrael Chai.
> Neil Blumofe
> Rabbi. > ___________________ > Neil F. Blumofe, Rabbi
> > Congregation Agudas Achim > P.O. Box 28400 > Austin, Texas USA 78755-8400
The emphasis added was mine - not in the original.
Raleigh, North Carolina is not the only place where a rabbi thinks that Judaism requires him to go worship at the tomb of the father of terrorism. I'd like to introduce you to Rabbi Neil Blumofe of Congregation Agudas Achim (it's Conservative - contrary to what some of my Orthodox friends might conclude from the name) in Austin, Texas.
Below is a letter written by Richard Brook, a congregant of Rabbi Blumofe, who vehemently objects to Blumofe's idol worship.
Yes, the visit to Arafat's tomb is on Day 11. But it's only the start of the problems with this tour. This is how people are being educated to Judaism?
As it happens, I was in Austin two years ago on business, as some of you might recall. Congregation Agudas Achim is located in a huge gated complex that was donated by Michael Dell, the chairman of Dell Computers, who donated $1.8 million to American Friends of the IDF in 2014. The complex includes a day school, a community center, and Orthodox, Conservative and Reform synagogues (although when I was there in November 2014, the Orthodox synagogue was meeting in a classroom in the school). One has to wonder whether Mr. Dell is aware of what is going on at his campus, and whether visiting Yasser Arafat's tomb violates the terms of the land grant to Congregation Agudas Achim (I have no way of getting a copy of that grant - just raising the issue).
For the record, Mr. Brook has been in touch with me directly, and gave me permission to publish his letter (Hat Tips: Richard Allen and Sloan Rachmuth).
The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas announced that one of its
operatives was electrocuted to death while working on a tunnel in the
Gaza Strip on Saturday, Israel Army Radio reported. The news comes as residents of Gaza who seek to rebuild their homes face difficulty in securing the necessary electricity and other resources, which are routinely appropriated by Hamas.
Israel was forced to increase
the amount of electricity it sends to Gaza in June after repeated
shutdowns at Gaza’s only power plant due to a payment dispute between
Hamas and Fatah. Because of this infighting, Gaza residents usually only
have six to eight
hours of electricity per day. The lack of power has also caused
failures at Gaza’s new $100 million sewage treatment facility, which was
built with financing from the World Bank.
It's nice to be able to laugh at Hamas once in a while, but really this is not such a joke.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, formerly the head of the
research division of Israeli military intelligence and later
the director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, told reporters in
May that the discovery of the tunnels was a sign that Hamas was
preparing for another war against Israel. He added that the tunnel
digging means that “they definitely invest a lot in making the necessary
preparations so that in the next round, when they decide to start it,
they will be able to inflict the heaviest damage on Israel, including
through those tunnels.”
Commenting on the efforts Hamas was putting into its terror tunnels
at the expense of Gazans, long time Palestinian affairs correspondent
Khaled Abu Toameh observed, “the last thing Hamas cares about is the welfare of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,”
Haaretz’s defense correspondent Amos Harel wrote
in January that “Hamas is investing great efforts and huge sums in the
tunnel project. It is reasonable to assume that the number of tunnels
crossing under the border is close to that on the eve of Protective
Edge,” or the 2014 Gaza war.
But give them a 'state' and the 'Palestinians' will know exactly what to do. The Euroweenies will help them. Oh... wait... Hamas HAS a state in Gaza, and this is what they are doing with it.
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-four years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 12 to 32 years and seven grandchildren. Three of our children are married! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com