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December 18, 2009

A7News: Jewish Music Banned at Holy Site

Filed under: Uncategorized — jewishupdates @ 12:53 pm

logo.jpgTevet 1, 5770 / Friday, Dec. 18 ’09

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Headlines

  1. Jewish Music Banned at Holy Site
  2. Petition of Hesder Yeshiva Educators in Support of R. Melamed
  3. Moshe Arens: Barak’s Ouster of Hesder Yeshiva ‘Endangers Israel’
  4. Former Minister Yitzchak Levy: Barak Went Too Far
  5. Online Anti-Semitism – “Imagine if Hitler had Facebook”
  6. Police Bar Jews from Temple Mount on Chanukah
  7. Olmert Offered Gaza Expansion for PA State
  8. Im Tirzu Brings Chanukah to Na’alin

1. Jewish Music Banned at Holy Site

by Avi Yellin

The Organization for Human Rights in Judea and Samaria has accused Israeli authorities of unfairly and selectively enforcing laws for Jewish and Arab residents of the mixed city of Hevron. For years, visitors arriving at the Cave of the Patriarchs in the holy city have been greeted by Jewish music emanating from loudspeakers atop the Gutnick Center next door to the ancient site. But on Thursday, the music was banned and Ofer Ochana, a resident of nearby Kiryat Arba, was interrogated and threatened by the police.

Following the investigation, Ochana was warned that if he attempted to broadcast music over the speakers again he would be arrested and brought up on charges. From information received by the Hevron Jewish community, this police action was most likely a direct order from the new military commander of the central region, who also reportedly demanded that the police carefully examine the law and find a criminal offense that could be attributed to Ochana. The police discovered several laws relating to noise being broadcast publicly from a business in a residential neighborhood. Ochana, who also directs a store and banquet hall inside the building, was then summoned, interrogated and warned. His speakers were disabled and the music was silenced.

As a result of these measures, the Organization for Human Rights in Judea and Samaria sent a letter to regional police commander Itzik Rachamim, titled “Selective law enforcement regarding loudspeakers in the vicinity of Ma’arat HaMachpela.”

The letter reads as follows:

“For years Jewish worshipers at the Cave of the Patriarchs have complained about the unreasonable and illegal noise of loudspeakers sounding the Muslim calls to prayer into the area assigned exclusively for Jewish worship, and in the Machpela courtyard. There is no need for this because these areas are not used for Muslim prayer (excepting 10 days a year). Two years ago a professional examination was carried out in order to measure the noise level compared to conventional criteria. The results, delivered to the Hevron DCO reported that ‘if the regulations to prevent hazards (unreasonable noise) from 1990 were applied in this case, the noise levels recorded very highly exceed permissible levels.’

Despite these official inquiries, nothing was done to stop the daily disturbances which greatly impaired daily Jewish worship at the site. This, despite the fact that the Supreme Court recognized the right of prayer as one the foremost of human rights. In light of this, it is very puzzling why Mr. Ofer Ochana is being investigated for playing Jewish prayer music from the speakers (with far less intensity than the Muslim prayer calls) at the Gutnick Center, an area allocated for Jewish worship with the specific goal of creating an atmosphere of Jewish worship. Much graver is the threat that he would be arrested immediately if he dared to play Jewish music in this area again while no similar criminal steps were taken towards the Arab muezzin.

If the criterion which you utilize to examine the decision whether to conduct a criminal investigation and threaten detention is a suspicion of ‘breach of peace’ (the language of Section 194 (a) of the Penal Code) – then there is enough to push the public Jewish worshipers at the Cave of the Patriarchs to take steps which will be understood to reveal that their welfare and tranquility have been violated by the muezzin’s call to prayer…

Your action yesterday can only be defined as selective law enforcement, represents serious denial of freedom of expression and freedom of worship, and only encourages violent reactions. I ask you to explain why this extreme step was taken and, why you do not enforce the law equally, allowing freedom of expression and worship equally to the two religions.”

A Copy of this letter was sent to the Minister of Religious Affairs, other ministers and to several members of Knesset.

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2. Petition of Hesder Yeshiva Educators in Support of R. Melamed

by Gil Ronen

Support for Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, Head of Har Bracha Yeshiva, is growing. A petition supporting Rabbi Melamed in his ideological showdown with the Minister of Defense, signed by rabbis and educators countrywide, has reached Arutz Sheva.

The letter reads as follows:

An open letter
From rabbis/educators in the Hesder yeshivas
To the yeshiva students, and youth awaiting conscription Dear students and youths!

We turn to you at a time in which many in the country are discussing the relationship between Torah commandments and the authority of the military commander.

As educators who send their students to serve in the IDF, we are committed to answer this question in a clear and precise way, as we were taught by our greatest rabbis: Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren of blessed memory, Chief Rabbi Avraham Elkana Shapira of blessed memory, Rabbi Shaul Yisraeli of blessed memory and Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neria of blessed memory.

We have therefore written the following before you:

May you only be strong!

By the grace of G-d we have been given the gift of living in a time of redemption. A time of ingathering of exiles, of establishment of the State and a Jewish defense force, the Israel Defense Force or IDF. All these constitute a great sanctification of G-d’s name and are steps toward the complete redemption.
To our sorrow, for some time now, the army is also being used for purposes that have nothing to do with defending Israel, and are contrary to the will of Hashem, as it appears in the holy Torah. This situation throws the soldiers of the IDF into a reality in which there is a contradiction between the commandments of G-d and the orders of the military commander.

Therefore, we must teach ourselves and all of Israel, that our belief in Hashem the G-d of Israel and the acceptance of the yoke of His Kingdom, are the source of our devotion in the war to assist Israel. We need to make it clear to everyone that this loyalty to Hashem stands above all other loyalties, to the government or to the army.

Through this very trouble shall we be delivered.

We will make it clear that while it is true that the army has one commander – he, too, must be loyal to the G-d of Israel. This clarification will uplift our army to loyalty to Hashem our G-d, a loyalty through which the true Israeli military consciousness shall be clarified. It is not “my power and the might of my hand that hath gotten me this wealth, but the Lord your God… gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8).

The Gemara in Sanhedrin Tractate teaches us that it is a mistake to declare loyalty to a flesh and blood king without noting that our primary loyalty is to the Word of Hashem!

The Yad Ramah [a 12th century Jewish sage from Spain – ed.] explains the passage by saying that any declaration of loyalty must be carried out in the fashion of the sons of Gad and Reuven, who told Joshua: “As we obeyed everything that Moses told us so shall we obey you, only let the Lord your G-d be with you as He was with Moses; Every man who goes against your orders will be put to death, may you only be strong.”

They declared loyalty and then lessened it, in case they would be ordered to transgress against the Torah and its commandments.

We teach our students, the Hesder Yeshiva students, to be loyal soldiers out of a commitment to to the Word of Hashem. We are certain that the Name of the Lord which we bear is what strikes fear into the hearts of our enemies, and it is what awards us with salvation and the glory of victory.

Signed,

Rabbi Yigal Abutbul, Rishon LeTzion Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Ben Tzon Elgazi, Kerem BeYavneh Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Shmuel Eckstein, Afikei Daat Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot
Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai, Kiryat Arba Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Shlomo Binyamin, Lev LaDaat Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot
Rabbi Ariel Bareli, Afikei Daat Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot
Rabbi Ohad Baruchi, Tverya Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Eyal Gefen, Rishon LeTzion Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Chaim Gross, Mitzpeh Eshtamoa Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Amir Garti, Shavei Shomron Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Erez Vatik, Shavei Shomron Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Shiloh Tovi, Afikei Daat Hesder Yeshiva, Sderot
Rabbi Elisha Yinon, Beit Shean Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Yaakov Yehudah Yakir, Beir Orot Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Yitzchak Levi, Kerem BeYavneh Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Yishai Lange, Beit Orot Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Yair Frank, Shiloh Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Nachum Tzafri, Elon Moreh Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Noam Konigsberg, Shaalabim Hesder Yeshiva
Rabi Eliyahu Shachor, Elon Moreh Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Aryeh Stern, Kerem BeYavneh Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Shalom Shmidt, Ramat Gan Hesder Yeshiva
Rabbi Yedidya Shimon, Rishon LeTzion Hesder Yeshiva

The organizers said that the list is a preliminary one.

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3. Moshe Arens: Barak’s Ouster of Hesder Yeshiva ‘Endangers Israel’

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Professor Moshe Arens, former Defense Minister and Ambassador to the US, told Arutz 7 Thursday that Defense Minister Ehud Barak “is endangering the country” by ousting the Har Bracha yeshiva from the Hesder Torah study-soldier program.

Arens, who immigrated to Israel from the United States, charged that Barak’s decision was a “big mistake” that may cost the army the price of losing Hesder students, who often serve in elite combat units.

He said that the government is wrong for involving the army in politics by using soldiers for police actions to expel Jews from their homes. Barak has argued that Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, head of Har Bracha, is mixing politics with the army by suggesting that soldiers not obey expulsion orders, which he and many rabbis consider a violation of Torah law.

Arens, who served three times as Defense Minister, argued that the government has not learned its lesson from the mass expulsions in the “Disengagement” program in 2005, when soldiers helped police expel nearly 10,000 Jews from their homes.

“In the Disengagement, the government deployed soldiers against civilians who had not violated any law. This is not the duty of the IDF, and today, most of the public agrees that the Disengagement was a mistake", Arens told Arutz 7.

He noted that IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi also has said that it would be preferable not to involve the army in civilian expulsions. “If the IDF were not involved in the issue, this problem [with Hesder yeshiva] would go away and what has happened would be seen as a tempest in a teacup.”

Media Bias
The dispute with Rabbi Melamed escalated after he refused to make a sweeping denouncement of protests against expulsion orders to soldiers. However, he explicitly stated that if soldiers had asked for his advice, he would have recommended that they not stage protests within the IDF.

Photo: Rabbi Melamed Israeli media generally played down or ignored that statement until after Barak announced Sunday night he will remove Har Brachah from the Hesder program.

Rabbi Melamed said that Barak’s decision must be overturned because otherwise “the Defense Minister will decide to close another yeshiva because of something he does not like. We are not his soldiers. We are willing to listen, but expect respect from him.”

Support for Rabbi Melamed
Ramat Gan Rabbi Yaakov Ariel backed Rabbi Melamed, saying that “Barak did something that should not be done. Summoning him to a hearing is a humiliation, as if the rabbi is some sort of clerk. Is that the way Barak would act with an academic professor? The real question is whether a democratic country allows freedom of expression– except for rabbis who say what they think.”

Hesder yeshiva rabbis have rallied around Rabbi Melamed. Kiryat Arba yeshiva head, Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, a former American, called Barak’s decision "very grave and in violation of 40-year-old agreements between the IDF and the Hesder yeshivas.”

Otniel Hesder yeshiva head, Rabbi Benny Kalmanzon told Arutz 7 that Barak has found a “new sacrificial lamb” to cover up charges of corruption that have followed the Defense Minister for several years.

Photo: Ehud Barak "Barak has succeeded in destroying the Labor party and now wants a spin to free himself from another issue of corruption on someone else’s account," according to Rabbi Kalmanzon. "He was caught red-handed recently employing an illegal foreign worker in his home, and now he has found a convenient target by picking on Rabbi Melamed to save himself from charges of corruption.

“I am against refusing orders, and I think that the army must be kept out of the political arena, but I call on Hesder yeshiva rabbis to stand as one with the yeshiva,” Rabbi Kalmezon said. He also noted that professors in universities, where he lectures, often preach anti-Israel messages to their students with impunity. “This is an absurd situation when lecturers call for boycotting Israel while receiving salaries from the government,” he explained.

Regarding the proposed removal of Har Bracha from the Hesder program, he said, “I do not understand the logic of causing students not to serve in the army and then complaining that they do not serve.”

Bnei Akiva yeshiva Rabbi Avraham Zuckerman also supported Rabbi Melamed”s refusal to answer Barak’s summons for a “hearing.” The use of the word is means that “Barak decided that Rabbi Melamed sinned. A hearing is for someone who is accused of being guilty," explained Rabbi Zuckerman.

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4. Former Minister Yitzchak Levy: Barak Went Too Far

by Gil Ronen

Former minister Yitzchak Levy estimated Thursday that the crisis between the Defense Ministry and the Hesder yeshivas could be a sign of worse things to come. “I expect that in the coming period we will have to undergo a process of profound discussion and clarification,” he said. “The clarification will focus on the tension that has formed between Jewish Law and democracy, and this tension needs to be worked out.”

The Hesder yeshiva heads need to decide on a common position, he advised. “The heads of the Hesder yeshivas must first clarify among themselves what the policy needs to be, and then go talk to the Defense Ministry’s people.”

The time has come, he said, to go to the public and try to influence it. “We remember the utterance by the Minister of Justice, about the need to follow Torah Law. The secular people railed against that. It is time to explain to them that Torah laws are not Hannibal’s laws, that ‘an eye for an eye’ does not really mean ‘an eye for an eye’ literally. We need to carry out the discussion and clarification, and then deliver a clear message to the nation.”

Levy said that Barak has “climbed a tall tree” in the conflict with Rabbi Eliezer Melamed. “There is a dispute over what is the best thing for everyone. Is the rule what the Defense Minister said or do we need to allow freedom of expression? We are in an uncomfortable situation, but the Minister of Defense cannot tell rabbis to shut up. When the Defense Minister made his decision he brought about the closing of a Hesder yeshiva. This is not the way to do it. If he thinks the rabbi was wrong he should call the rabbi and find out, but why hurt the students?”

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5. Online Anti-Semitism – “Imagine if Hitler had Facebook”

by Yoni Kempinski

Doctor Andre Oboler directed the working group entitled " Anti-Semitism Online: Cyberspace and the Media" at the Conference of the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism. Dr. Oboler, Director of the Community Internet Engagement Project, explained to Arutz Sheva TV that a decade ago online anti-Semitism meant websites which were known by all as anti-Semitic. Today, with the proliferation of internet, online anti-Semitism refers to slurs on Jews insidiously invading social networks, talkbacks and other user-generated content.

[flash:124374]

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6. Police Bar Jews from Temple Mount on Chanukah

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Arab fears of Jews taking over the Temple Mount convinced police to ban Jews from the site during Chanukah, which celebrates the Jews’ return to the Holy Temple. A report in an Israeli newspaper, disseminated worldwide by United Press International (UPI) stated that Jews planned a “mass pilgrimage” numbering in the “hundreds” to the Temple Mount on Thursday.

The “mass” throng actually consisted of only 200 Jews, but the reports set off panic among Arabs and left Jews outside the site as police blocked their entrance, as has happened several times in the past after Arab clerics spread fears of a “Jewish takeover.”

A spokesman for the activists said, “The police provided no reason for their arbitrary decision. At one point police claimed that the Mount was closed due to the Moslem new year, which occurs on Friday and not on Thursday.

UPI reported that the planned “pilgrimage” would test the ”shaky calm” in Jerusalem and quoted a report that Jewish activists’ intentions to ascend the Temple Mount were interpreted by Arab clerics as “as a plan to invade the site or build a synagogue there.”

The news agency also recalled riots during the Sukkot holiday in October, when Arabs also spread rumors of a “Jewish takeover.”

Arab analyst and reporter Amjad Abu Arafeh was quoted by the Bethlehem-based Maan news agency as saying. “It seems this is now a usual event in Jerusalem, threatening the Al-Aqsa Mosque. These groups try to invade Al-Aqsa daily to make their prayers there. Only yesterday several settlers invaded the yards of Al-Aqsa mosque but the Waqf guards and the guards of the mosque were able to get them out.”

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Al-Husayni told the news agency that the “compound faces ongoing threats.” Maan described the Temple Mount as being “believed to be the site of the First and Second Jewish Temples” and that “a few extremist [Jewish] groups call for Israel to conquer the area and build a third temple."

Arab leaders and media have claimed for several years that Israel is plotting to undermine mosques and cause their collapse. Arab propaganada also has increasingly made the claim that the Holy Temples never existed and that Jews have no connection to the site.

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel forbade Jews to ascend the Temple Mount because there are areas there where only Cohanim (members of the priestly tribe of Jews) may go according to Jewish Law and there is a debate about their location. Other rabbis permit Jews to ascend to certain parts of the site after preparations, including immersion in a ritual bath.

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7. Olmert Offered Gaza Expansion for PA State

by Hana Levi Julian

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert suggested transferring to the Palestinian Authority the agricultural fields belonging to kibbutzim and moshavim (agricultural communities) in the Gaza Belt region as part of a final status agreement.

As described in a special report published Thursday by the Ha’aretz newspaper, the Olmert Plan also included transferring a large portion of the nature reserves in the Judean Desert, in exchange for annexation of settlements in areas along the western section of Israel.

The information published in the newspaper was provided by sources who had detailed knowledge about Olmert’s proposals, according to journalist Aluf Benn.

According to the “Olmert Map,” the future border between Israel and Gaza would run next to kibbutzim such as Be’eri, Kissufim and Nir Oz – all of whose fields would be ceded to the Palestinian Authority.

Olmert additionally was willing to cede to the PA for its proposed new state the land in the Beit She’an Valley near Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi, in the Judean Hills near Nataf and Mevo Betar, in the area of Lachish, and in the area of the Yatir Forest.

A total of 327 square kilometers of land from within pre-1967 Israel would have been given to the Palestinian Authority had PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas accepted Olmert’s offer in September 2008.

However, Abbas chose not to respond, and there the matter rested, with negotiations frozen.

In return for these land transfers, Olmert wanted to annex 6.3 percent of Judea and Samaria to Israel. The areas that he wanted to annex are home to 75 percent of the Jewish population in the region.

However, dozens of other Jewish communities in the Jordan Valley, the eastern Samarian hills and the Hevron region would have been expelled in a manner similar to that which took place in the Disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria in 2005.

In exchange for retaining the city of Ma’aleh Adumim, the Gush Etzion bloc, Ariel, Beit Aryeh and the suburbs of Jerusalem, Olmert proposed transferring 5.8 percent of land in Judea and Samaria in addition to that which was already designated as “PA territory”. He was also willing to add a safe-passage route from Hevron to Gaza with no Israeli presence, albeit through territory controlled by Israel.

The detailed map shared by Olmert with Abbas on September 16, 2008 was ultimately not handed over to the PA chairman, according to Olmert’s office, because Abbas refused to continue talks.

Olmert’s office told Ha’aretz in response to the release of details of his plan that although the map had been designed to solve the problem of the borders between Israel and the PA, “Giving Abu Mazen the map was conditioned upon signing a comprehensive and final agreement with the Palestinians so it would not be used as an ‘opening position’ in future negotiations the Palestinians sought to conduct.’”

According to the report, the former prime minister has suggested that his map be used as the basis for reviving talks with the PA. He said that the international community must demand a formal response to Olmert’s proposal from Abbas, and proceed from there. However, he has not given a copy of his detailed map to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

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8. Im Tirzu Brings Chanukah to Na’alin

by Avi Yellin

Activists from the Zionist Im Tirzu organization have joined former IDF Chief of Staff Uzi Dayan in bringing a piece of the Chanukah festival to Israeli soldiers and police officers guarding the security barrier next to Na’alin on Friday. Na’alin is located in close proximity to the Jewish city of Modi’in, where the Maccabean revolt featured in the Chanukah story was initially sparked.

Im Tirtzu activists said that they plan to distribute sufganiyot [jelly doughnuts traditional for the holiday], sing Zionist songs and call for severe penalties against the anti-Israel rioters who routinely engage in violent behavior against Israeli security forces at the site.

The security barrier is a controversial issue in both Israel and abroad. While many Israelis and pro-Israel advocates abroad assert that the barrier prevents anti-Israel terrorism, many critics of the Jewish state argue that it victimizes and creates difficulties for local Arabs. Many Zionist activists and Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria have also criticized the barrier, claiming that it actually victimizes the Jewish people and the Zionist enterprise by dividing the Land of Israel and creating a de facto border in the heart of the Jewish homeland.
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