Wednesday, December 31, 2014

U.N.S.C. Rejects Palestinian Statehood Resolution


Eight nations vote in favor, leaving Ramallah one vote short

France votes 'yes,' Nigeria abstains

UPDATE: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked those who helped defeat Tuesday's Palestinian attempt to ram an anti-Israel resolution through the U.N. Security Council.

At the same time, the Palestinians announced their intention to vote on whether to join the International Criminal Court as soon as possible, where they hope to charge Israel with "war crimes" despite the obvious hypocrisy of doing so, given their own long history of war crimes.

Netanyahu told the press, "I want to express appreciation and gratitude to the United States and Australia," who voted against bringing the resolution to a confirmation vote.

But he reserved particular gratitude for two African nations who ensured the resolution's defeat. He expressed special appreciation to the President of Rwanda, my friend Paul Kagame, and to the President of Nigeria, my friend Goodluck Jonathan. I spoke with both of them, they promised me personally that they would not support this decision, and they stood by their words. That is what tipped the scales.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Rabbis of Selma

Abraham Heschel and others marched with Martin Luther King

By Elon Green for Tablet Magazine

My wife and I, as we had Christmas Eve to ourselves, went to see Selma. It’s terrific, as good as you’ve heard. And it was immensely satisfying to see figures who, unlike Martin Luther King, Jr., have not achieved great fame given real screen time.

I’m thinking particularly of John Doar, a true hero of the Justice Department; Bayard Rustin, the organizer of the March on Washington; and Amelia Boynton, who helped organize the Selma march. They all deserve to be enshrined, and it’s disgraceful their names are not more widely known.

The entire movie is powerful, but it’s particularly so when clergy across the country drop what they’re doing to join King, in the face of almost certain violence. The rabbis are not on screen much–and that’s fine; it’s not their story–but it’s worth taking the opportunity to briefly revisit their role in Selma.
The most famous of them, surely, is Abraham Joshua Heschel, an enthusiastic supporter of the civil rights movement (as well as a passionate opponent of the war in Vietnam). “You  cannot worship God,” he said, “and then look  at a human being, created by God in God’s own image, as if he or she were an animal.”

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Hilary Clinton on the Daily Show

From earlier this year but worth repeating.

Hillary Clinton on the Daily Show actually explains the facts to John Stewart. When asked by Stewart if she can’t understand the Palistinians turning to Hamas as the only ones fighting to improve their lot, Clinton answers: “When Israel withdrew from Gaza, and I was aware of that, I was in the Senate, I was talking to the people who were organizing it, they left a lot of their businesses. There was a very valuable horticultural business that was set up by the Israelis that had lived in Gaza , and the idea was that this would be literally turned over, money was provided, there would be a fund that would train Palestinians in Gaza to do this work. And basically, the leadership said, ‘We don’t want anything left from Israel.’ Destroyed it all. That mentality, to me, is hard to deal with.”

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

MSU department announces major archaeological find

Office of Public Affairs, MSU

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Six official clay seals found by a Mississippi State University archaeological team at a small site in Israel offer evidence that supports the existence of biblical kings David and Solomon.

Many modern scholars dismiss David and Solomon as mythological figures and believe no kingdom could have existed in the region at the time the Bible recounted their activities. The new finds provide evidence that some type of government activity was conducted there in that period.

Jimmy Hardin, associate professor in the MSU Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, said these clay bullae were used to seal official correspondence in much the same way wax seals were used on official documents in later periods.

Hardin, co-director of the Hesi Regional Project, has been excavating each summer at Khirbet Summeily, a site east of Gaza in southern Israel, since 2011. Hardin's findings were published in the December 2014 issue of Near Eastern Archaeology, a leading, peer-reviewed journal for this field.

"Our preliminary results indicated that this site is integrated into a political entity that is typified by elite activities, suggesting that a state was already being formed in the 10th century B.C.," Hardin said. "We are very positive that these bullae are associated with the Iron Age IIA, which we date to the 10th century B.C., and which lends general support to the historical veracity of David and Solomon as recorded in the Hebrew biblical texts.

"These appear to be the only known examples of bullae from the 10th century, making this discovery unique," he said.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

7 Reasons Jews Should See The Latest 'Hobbit' Movie

By Hody Nemes From the Seesaw at The Jewish Daily Forward

I’m a Tolkienite and a lover of everything hobbit. There, I said it.

As a child, I read — and reread — all the hobbit-related books, painted the Misty Mountains, set a Tolkien poem to music, and played the “Lord of the Rings” Risk board game whenever I got the chance. Theoden’s speech at the Battle of Pelenor Fields, playing on loop, gave me the courage to write my senior thesis in college (“Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise, Riders of Theoden!”). Now I read the series over again almost every year.

For Jewish hobbit folk like me, this is a big week: “The Battle of the Five Armies” is hitting theaters — and on Hanukkah, no less.

Here are 7 Jewish reasons why you should join me in seeing the end of Bilbo’s quest on the silver screen:
1) Erebor is Israel.

When I was a child, my father read two books to me before bedtime: the Book of Joshua and “The Hobbit.” I loved both books and pleaded with him to keep reading long after I should have gone to sleep. The two have become muddled in my mind — and with good reason: both describe great battles (the Battle of the Five Armies and the Battle of Jericho, for starters), magical wizard leaders (Joshua and Gandalf, duh), treasure hunts, and — most importantly — exiled peoples reclaiming their lands.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ancient rock adds evidence of King David’s existence

Stone slab with earliest reference to House of David, on display at Met, said to be ‘one of the most important Biblical artifacts ever found’

By Menachem Wecker, The Times of Israel

NEW YORK (JTA) — Dimly lit, the stone slab, or stele, doesn’t look particularly noteworthy, especially when compared to the more lavish sphinxes, jewelry and cauldrons one encounters en route to the room where it is installed

Indeed, in a Twitter post this fall, art journalist Lee Rosenbaum described the nearly 13-by-16 inch c. 830 BCE rock, as “homely.”

What’s significant about this stone — on view at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of its “Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age” exhibit running through January 4 — is its inscription: “the earliest extra-biblical reference to the House of David.”

“There is no doubt that the inscription is one of the most important artifacts ever found in relation to the Bible,” Eran Arie, curator of Israelite and Persian periods at the Israel Museum, wrote in the exhibit catalog.

As is to be expected with a rock nearly three millennia old, the slab is missing considerable portions, and Arie’s translation of the remaining 13 lines of text is full of ellipses and bracketed additions. What is clear is that the Aram-Damascene king Hazael brags of having killed 70 kings, including of Israel and of the “House of David” (The round number, scholars agree, is probably exaggerated, although Hazael did have a reputation for being ruthless and successful).

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Atheist-turned-Orthodox Christian has a problem with the Star of David

By Raffi Wineburg from the St. Lous Jewish Light

Is wearing a Star of David the same as teaching about religion? (Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

Here’s a tough question: Where might it break the law to wear a Star of David around your neck?

(Hint, the answer is not Nazi Germany.)

Give up? The correct response is the Township of East Pennsboro, Pa., where one man has a filed a formal complaint with the school district after his son’s teacher wore a Star of David necklace to class.

“[Students] are there to learn about education, not to learn about religion,” Ernest Perce, the offended parent told a local ABC affiliate.

Despite his questionable understanding of U.S. public school curriculum (do students learn about education?) Perce’s complaint has some legal backing.

A 1949 Pennsylvania statute holds that “no teacher in any public school shall wear . . . any dress, mark, emblem or insignia indicating the fact that such teacher is a member or adherent of any religious order, sect or denomination.”

The school district has reportedly sided with the teacher, although Perce has vowed to pursue the complaint. He says that the board could be fined and the teacher suspended if no action is taken.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

In the Jewish nation-state kerfuffle, much ado over very little substance

The controversial proposal to pass a law defining Israel’s Jewish status threatens to fell the third Netanyahu government — and for what?

BY HAVIV RETTIG GUR for The Times of Israel

The third government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been marked by infighting and distrust almost from the start. The drafting of ultra-Orthodox youth to national service, reforms to the state rabbinate, the controversial “0% VAT” tax cut for some first-time homebuyers, a constitutional amendment demanding a national referendum before Israel can withdraw from sovereign territory – all these were the subject of bitter public spats between members of the ruling coalition

But none produced the sheer spectacle of angry recriminations witnessed at Sunday’s cabinet meeting over the efforts to draft a constitutional Basic Law formally defining Israel as the Jewish nation-state.

At a cabinet debate over a three-page statement of principles that would guide the drafting of the new law, Finance Minister Yair Lapid charged that the proposal was a “bad” one, and that Likud founder Menachem Begin and the party’s ideological forebear Ze’ev Jabotinsky would have opposed it. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni rallied to defend democracy, she said, by opposing the measure.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Why do people hate Israel?

by Dennis Prager for

We live in a bad world.

There is nothing new about that. The world has been pretty bad since its inception. That’s why God destroyed it and started all over again (with little to show for the new experiment, one might add).
From a moral perspective, look at the world since 2000.

North Korea remains an entire country that is essentially a large concentration camp.

Tibet, one of mankind’s oldest cultures, continues to be occupied and destroyed by China.
Somalia no longer exists as a country. It is an anarchic state in which the cruelest and strongest (usually one and the same) prevail.

In Congo, between 1998 and 2003, about 5.5 million people were killed — nearly the same as the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

In Syria, about 150,000 people have been killed in the last three years, and millions have been rendered homeless.
In Iraq, there is a mass murder from terror bombings almost every week.

In Mexico, since 2006, approximately 120,000 people have been killed in the country’s drug wars.

Iran, a genocide-advocating theocratic dictatorship, is very near having the capacity to make nuclear weapons.
Christian communities in the Middle East are wiped out; Christians in Nigeria are routinely massacred.

Of course, the 20th century was even bloodier, but we are only in the 15th year of the 21st century. Nevertheless, showing how awful the world is for so many of its inhabitants is not my point. My point is that, despite all this evil and suffering, the world has concentrated its attention overwhelmingly on the alleged evils of one country: Israel.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

PM: Palestinian failure to recognize Jewish links to Israel is a 'tragedy'

The Jerusalem Post

It is a “tragedy” that many Palestinians deny any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Monday at the start of a meeting with visiting Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

This marks the first ever visit to Israel of a Serbian prime minister.

“Here, in the State of Israel, the Jewish people have achieved their self-determination in a democratic state that guarantees equal rights for all its peoples, all its citizens, regardless of race, religion or sex,” Netanyahu said, as the debate over the Jewish state bill seemed to animate part of his welcoming comments to Vucic.

“It is indeed a tragedy that so many of our Palestinian neighbors still repudiate the basic facts of history. They deny the more than three thousand year-old connection between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel,” he said.

Netanyahu bewailed what he said was the Palestinian denial of Israel's right to national self- determination, even as they demand that right for themselves.

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