Tevet 11, 5770 / Monday, Dec. 28 ’09
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- Barak: ’Regular’ Attack Cannot Hit Iran’s Nuclear Plant
- Full-Speed Ahead for 700 Jewish Homes in Eastern Jerusalem
- Terror Victim’s Son’s Message to Youth
- PA Rewards Hamas and Fatah Terrorists for Long Jail Terms
- Analysts See Israel Flexing Economic Muscle in 2010
- A Tale of Two Gazas: Website Pictures Deny ‘Humanitarian Crisis’
- Lieberman Makes it Clear: ‘No to Oslo Illusion and Fantasy’
- Rabbi Melamed: No Clash Between Jewish Law & Battle Orders
1. Barak: ’Regular’ Attack Cannot Hit Iran’s Nuclear Plant
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The recently-revealed Qom nuclear plant in Iran is buried so deep under concrete that a “regular” military attack would not affect it, Defense Minister Ehud Barak revealed to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee on Monday. In other comments, he outraged National Union Knesset Members by comparing some residents of Judea and Samaria with the Irish resistance movement.
Concerning Iran, the Defense Minister said that the Qom nuclear reactor was under construction for several years and is buried in a bunker that is resistant to regular bombing. He did not mention the prospect of a nuclear strike.
Turning to the issue of the Palestinian Authority, the Defense Minister suggested that a recent statement by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas represented a positive development. Abbas said that “’if all the core issues are brought up for discussion, the Palestinian people will see an end to the conflict and to reciprocal demands.”
However, Abbas has said that the ”core issue” of Jerusalem is not negotiable, and that Israel must surrender all parts of the capital that the PA claims, including suburban neighborhoods of Ramot, French Hill and Gilo before he is willing to sit down for talks.
Barak Compares Jews with Irish Resistance
Barak’s appearance before the Knesset committee ran into a stormy protest after he refused to accept a demand from Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad (National Union) that he withdraw his comparison of Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria with the Irish underground. MK Eldad was ordered out of the meeting, and afterwards told Arutz 7, “Barak is a liar and is trying to drag citizens into a war."
Party colleague MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari charged the military establishment with ignoring a connection between the removal of checkpoints with attacks on Jews.
2. Full-Speed Ahead for 700 Jewish Homes in Eastern Jerusalem
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The Netanyahu government is forging ahead with plans to plan 692 new residential units for Jews in eastern Jerusalem and has advertised tenders for construction, despite opposition from U.S. President Barack Obama. They are in addition to approximately 900 new housing units that Israel approved last month in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem, and Israeli officials said that the United States was informed ahead of time of the new building plans
The new homes will be built on Pisgat Zev and Nevei Yaakov, on the northeastern edge of the capital, and at Har Homa, on the southern edge of the city, opposite Gilo and immediately north of Bethlehem. The new construction tenders parallel a building freeze on new homes on Judea and Samaria.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the freeze in order to encourage Palestinian Authority PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations on establishing the PA as an independent country, but he has flatly refused the offer.
Abbas has argued that Israel must honor President Obama’s demand that the freeze be extended to eastern Jerusalem, which the Arab world wants as the seat of a future PA state. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israeli diplomats and consular heads Sunday that the PA will not accept any Israeli concessions, even if it were to surrender all of eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
3. Terror Victim’s Son’s Message to Youth
by Hillel Fendel
As the family of terrorism victim Rabbi Meir Chai continues to “sit shiva” – during which they remain at home for seven days while friends and family visit and try to console them or listen to their pain – a recording of the funeral tribute delivered by his 16-year-old son Eliyahu has been publicized.
The eulogy, delivered with weeping though in a strong voice, concentrated on the message that Eliyah felt his father wanted to leave the youths of his town: a message of faith, Jewish pride, religious observance, and “no revenge.”
The deceased Rabbi Meir, who was murdered in a drive-by shooting by Palestinian terrorists outside his hometown of Shavei Shomron on Thursday night, befriended many youths of all ages.
Eliyahu began as follows: “To all the youths here – you are the best youth there is; I salute you, and I say the same to all our soldiers and to the entire army, to each and every one of you."
He then continued: “Continue Abba’s path: Abba wanted faith! Abba wanted Torah study! Abba wanted prayers! Abba couldn’t bear to see youth without tefillin… If we want to immortalize Abba, then we have to do things like that – not external things. Not to look for revenge, not to beat up Arabs. This is not our solution. The difference between us and them is, that we are human beings! We won’t go to them and kill them just like that; if they come to us, we will kill them, but we won’t go to them! We are Jews! We are holy! We are HUMAN BEINGS!
“We are the youth of the Shomron, of Judea and Samaria, of the entire country… Continue Abba’s path, the path of faith. Go and study in Abba’s memory. If you want to eternalize him, this is what would make him the happiest. How often Abba would tell me, when he would see that it was hard for the youth… how much it hurt him to see our youth without tzitzit, or boys and girls not careful about touching each other… He wanted them to proudly wear tzitzit, to proudly bear the name of the Holy One, Blessed be He! He wanted to see them saying, “I am a Jew! I am a proud Jew! Let people do what they want to me – but I am a proud Jew!” But he never despaired, he loved them very much…"
The hundreds of mourners broke out in sobs as Eliyahu concluded his words with a heart-rending shout, “Abba, I love you! I so much tried to tell you…”
Twelve years ago, shortly after the family’s son Elyasaf was born, Rabbi Meir underwent a serious car accident when an Arab slammed into his car. Rabbi Meir lost consciousness for a short while, and a few weeks later, after he recovered, he told his family that he had been taken to the World to Come, where he pleaded to be able to return to his family – and his request was granted.
Rabbi Chai’s widow Elisheva, relating to rumors that he said he was granted exactly 12 years, which “expired” this week, has said that she does not know whether this detail originated with her deceased husband or elsewhere.
4. PA Rewards Hamas and Fatah Terrorists for Long Jail Terms
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The Palestinian Authority revealed on Sunday that it rewards both Hamas and Fatah terrorists with higher “salaries” for committing more serious terrorist attacks that are followed by convictions for long-term sentences in Israeli prison.
Most of the PA’s funds come from European Union countries, and the United States earlier this month, for the first time ever, included the PA in its foreign aid package with a $500 million grant. Twenty percent of the American money is earmarked for training the PA’s new army, under the guidance of American army General Keith Dayton.
A condition of the aid is that the PA recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept previous agreements with Israel, including a halt to anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist incitement.
The PA Minister for Prisoners told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency Sunday that it pays out three million shekels ($790,000) a month for monthly stipends for prisoners and their families. The minister specifically denied a complaint that Hamas terrorists were being cut off from receiving fund.
The monthly payment amount to 1,000 shekels ($260) but rises to four times that amount, more than $1,000, to terrorists who have served more than 25 years in jail for more serious attacks on Israelis.
In addition, terrorists who are released by Israel receive another 1,200-2,000 shekels ($316-$525) a month for half a year if they were in prison for at least five years. The total payments for their time in jail and release amount to as much $10,000.
5. Analysts See Israel Flexing Economic Muscle in 2010
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Israel, which weathered the global financial disaster better than most countries, will be one of the leaders in economic growth in 2010, investment analysts say. The value of the shekel is likely to increase.
The gross domestic product (GDP) will soar to 3 percent in 2010, compared with near zero this year, the American-based JP Morgan investment house estimates. Its analysts also think that Israel’s growth will jump another 50 percent in 2011, reaching a healthy rate of 4.5 percent, helped by increased consumer purchases and sharp increases in exports and imports.
Most analysts expect that the rate of inflation will continue to rise and reach 3 or 4 percent in the next two years. The Bank of Israel is expected to raise interest rates accordingly, with a quarter of a percent hike anticipated Monday night, when the February rate is to be determined.
Merrill Lynch has forecast a shekel-dollar rate as low as 3.40, slightly above the 12-year low of last year, while JP Morgan estimates it will decline only to around 3.55. Few analysts expect it to rise above four shekels to the dollar. It currently stands just below 3.8. A lower rate might adversely affect exports, leaving companies with fewer shekels for their dollars and Euros that they receive from overseas.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has praised Israel for its handling last year’s financial crisis, which caused chaos in the United States and other countries. The IMF recently said that Israel has been achieving a “safe haven status.”
One sign of a more robust economy is November’s 0.4 percent decline in the unemployment rate. The Internet industry is expected to lead the rebound in the high-technology field – although salaries in the field are not rising.
6. A Tale of Two Gazas: Website Pictures Deny ‘Humanitarian Crisis’
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The Arabic-language PalToday website, based in Gaza, recently posted pictures showing a world of plenty for residents, despite more than two years of reports that the area is suffering from a humanitarian crisis. However, its English website for foreign audiences showed a picture of misery, focusing on a girl who wanted her terrorist father freed by Israel.
The pictures on the Arabic-language site were posted for the Eid al Adha Muslim festival, which recalls the forefather Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, who the Bible states was Isaac. The Muslim tradition substitutes Ishmael, father of the Arab peoples, for Isaac.
The pictures on the Arabic-language site are headlined with the caption, "Clothes for Their Children Despite the Siege,” referring to the partial blockade Israel placed on Gaza following the Hamas military coup more than two years ago.
Israel has allowed thousands of trucks, bearing tens of thousands of tons of food, goods and equipment into Gaza, but the United Nations has claimed several times that a humanitarian crisis is “imminent.”
Statistics provided by the Palestinian Authority show that unemployment in the Gaza area dropped in the second quarter this year by 20 percent from 45.5 percent in the second quarter of 2008.
Towards the Eid ad Adha holiday, Israel allowed approximately 7,000 head of cattle into Gaza as well as electricity, communications and water infrastructures, including bringing in equipment and repair teams to repair water and sewer facilities and to repair turbines and parts of the Gaza power station.
Last August, Israel renewed the supply of gasoline for private use, according to the standard determined by the High Court as the threshold sufficient for humanitarian needs. The military coordinator for supervising shipments into Gaza (COGAT) noted, “While the minimum quotas determined by the High Court are only partially filled because of the debts owed by the gas stations in Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, a decision was made by the Coordinator during the summer to meet the threshold set by the High Court.
“Cooking gas has been transferred to Gaza without restriction before, during and, of course, after Operation Cast Lead. It is important to note that the flow of diesel fuel to the power station continued to take place during and after Operation Cast Lead."
While Gaza authorities and foreign media reported that there were no building materials in Gaza and that residents were building houses out of mud, COGAT said it was prepared to coordinate the entrance of materials for repairing and sealing houses that were damaged during Operation Cast Lead.
Officials also said that construction has stopped because Hamas has taken workers from their jobs.
Other projects include approval of a German sewage plant, repair of a flour mill, restoring the American school and a project of greenhouses and chicken coops at the request of the United States Agency for International Development.
COGAT also noted, “The prevailing economy in Gaza is not an official economy but rather an economy of [smuggling] tunnels; there are no shortages in Gaza, but there is a problem of unemployment, primarily for civilians who are not close to Hamas and have no buying power.
7. Lieberman Makes it Clear: ‘No to Oslo Illusion and Fantasy’
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman enhanced his reputation for straight talk Sunday when he told Israeli diplomats “to get the message across very clearly that the Palestinian Authority is not prepared to reach an agreement with Israel." He also said that if Syria wants peace, it can hold direct talks with Jerusalem without Turkish mediation.
In the first-ever meeting with Israeli diplomats stationed around the world, the tough-talking Foreign Minister called the Oslo peace accords an "illusion" that Israel "sold to Europe and the United States." He added, "It is easy to sell illusions and fantasies."
Lieberman told the diplomats, "We have to stop thinking that the whole world is involved with us. It has many other problems and challenges besides the PA-Israeli struggle. We need to ask ourselves, ‘What are the chances of reaching a peace agreement with the PA?’ We have done everything, more than any other country would do. The problem is not Israel’s; it is the PA’s willingness. Even if we return to the 1967 borders, there will not be an end to the conflict. Even if we divide Jerusalem, nothing will change — we will be in the same situation as today."
Repeating what a Russian analyst said at a Middle East conference in Jordan last week, Foreign Minister Lieberman estimated that there will be no lasting agreement in the next decade.
Concerning Syria, he repeated a theme he declared more than a year ago concerning Egypt, that a leader who wants to speak with Israel can come to Jerusalem. He created an uproar in Egypt when he stated that President Hosni Mubarak “can go to hell” if he does not want to visit Jerusalem, which he never has done except for the funeral of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.
The Foreign Minister declared on Sunday that if Syrian President Bashar Assad wants to negotiate with Israel, "It will be only in direct talks, alternating between Jerusalem and Damascus." He rejected out of hand Turkey’s offer to mediate indirect talks, as was done during the administration of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Moving to the subject of Iran, he estimated that anti-Semitism is a bigger danger to Israel than the Iranian nuclear threat. “It is intolerable that world leaders can incite against the State of Israel and deny the Holocaust while continuing to be acceptable in the eyes of the world."
8. Rabbi Melamed: No Clash Between Jewish Law & Battle Orders
by Hillel Fendel
Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, whose Yeshivat Har Bracha has been removed from the IDF’s Hesder arrangement, says Defense Minister Ehud Barak has “forced an artificial clash upon us.”
Hesder is an arrangement in which yeshiva students do not have to choose between army service and Torah studies, but rather perform both over a five-year period. Barak angrily removed Har Bracha from the program recently, following the following series of incidents:
* The offense taken by Gen. Avi Mizrachi, Central District Commander, at Rabbi Melamed’s accusation that much of the army brass is career-oriented and cannot be trusted to make proper strategic decisions
* calls by Rabbi Melamed and others for refusal of orders to demolish Jewish homes and expel Jews
* protest signs waved by religious soldiers on two occasions against the army’s participation in the expulsion of Jews. Rabbi Melamed wrote afterwards that he would not have counseled taking such action, but neither would he condemn those who carried them out.
Barak: We Must Show Who’s Boss
Defense Minister Barak explained that he had no choice but to remove Har Bracha from the Hesder program, in order to show that every soldier must listen only to his commander, and not his rabbi, when receiving orders. This position was backed by many in the political and media establishments.
Rabbi Melamed explains, however, that there is actually no dispute regarding the authority of the commanders in battle situations – and that the “clash” between rabbis and the army has been artificially manufactured in order to arouse hatred against the rabbis.
Excerpts from Rabbi Melamed’s recent article on the topic:
“The public is being incited to think that rabbis are endangering the army – in order to arouse hatred and hostility against the rabbis and their positions. But the truth is that there is no clash at all between the commander and the rabbi on security matters, because Jewish Law obligates [the soldier] to listen to his commander, both in training and in battle. “All the disagreements with the Defense Minister are on matters that are not at all connected with security actions, but rather deal with its ‘outside covering’ – for instance, a commander who does not give time for prayers during training, or orders soldiers to desecrate the Sabbath for no operational reason, or when soldiers are used against their own compatriots. In such cases, when the commander’s orders clash with Jewish Law, which is our collective consciousness, one must refuse the orders. This is what the late Rabbi Shlomo Goren ruled; he was the Chief Rabbi of the IDF and Chief Rabbi of Israel, and the ‘light of the generation’ regarding the army, State and Jewish Law…”
Elsewhere, Rabbi Melamed wrote that one-time IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Chaim Laskov complained to then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion that Rabbi Goren had ruled that soldiers need not listen to commanders who tell them to desecrate the Sabbath. Laskov said that soldiers must first of all follow their commanders’ orders, and afterwards they may complain. Rabbi Goren said that “afterwards” would be too late, as desecrating the Sabbath is like killing someone. Ben-Gurion sided with Rabbi Goren.
To prove his point that Jewish Law does not clash with the army’s operational/military needs, Rabbi Melamed wrote:
“During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, when many Jews were still feeling the great pain of the Gush Katif expulsion, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made a poorly-chosen statement that a victory over Hizbullah in Lebanon would enable Israel to carry out a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria. Many soldiers questioned whether they should enlist in the war effort, if their efforts would be used to pave the way for a withdrawal. “In response to this question, I wrote at the time that it was a mitzvah [Torah commandment] to go out to war, because even when the army leaders are problematic, and even when they issue mistaken commands, it is still a mitzvah to serve in the army – for if we would not have an army, our situation woud be many times worse…
“In contrast, Minister Barak and the army leaders, and the Prime Minister who backed them, have now declared to the entire public that there is in fact a clash between Jewish Law and the army, and that they are not willing to take into account any value other than absolute adherence to the commander’s orders. It follows from what they said that someone who truly wants to keep Jewish Law should not enlist in the army [as opposed to what Rabbi Melamed ruled – ed.]. Then they’ll complain that there aren’t enough soldiers and why aren’t the yeshiva boys enlisting in the army.
“By acting this way, the heads of the army are justifying the hareidi public’s approach that one cannot enlist in the army, because a soldier cannot have two authorities above him…
Simple Solution: Use the Army Only Against Enemy
“The solution is simple: Return the army to its one and only objective – protecting the nation and the land. There will then be no clashes between the commanders and the rabbis, and every soldier will fully identify with his mission. In this way we might even be able to defeat our enemies.”
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