Jewishupdates's Blog

January 8, 2010

A7News: IDFs Strongest Retaliation in Gaza Since Cast Lead

Filed under: Uncategorized — jewishupdates @ 12:31 pm

logo.jpgTevet 22, 5770 / Friday, Jan. 08 ’10

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Headlines

  1. IDF’s Strongest Retaliation in Gaza Since Cast Lead
  2. Gaza Terrorists Fire Rocket at Ashkelon, None Hurt
  3. ‘Hamas and Egypt on Collision Course’
  4. Blatantly Anti-Semitic Exchange on C-Span
  5. Arab Shouts ‘Kill Jews’ on Miami Plane
  6. Ben Eliezer: If We Weren’t in Coalition, Ketzaleh Would Be
  7. King David Era Pottery Shard Supports Biblical Narrative
  8. Michael Steinhardt Criticizes the Failures of Jewish Leadership

1. IDF’s Strongest Retaliation in Gaza Since Cast Lead

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

The IDF Thursday night bombed terrorist targets in Gaza, including near Gaza City, in the strongest retaliation against mortar and rocket attacks on Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead a year ago. At least two terrorists were killed, and three tunnels and a weapons factory were successfully targeted. Hamas officials said four other terrorists are missing.

One of the tunnels was in central Gaza and was intended to be used for infiltration into the western Negev in order to execute a terrorist attack against Israeli citizens or IDF soldiers. The tunnel was dug approximately half a mile from the Gaza separation barrier.

Two other tunnels had been used for smuggling weapons under the city of Rafiah, which straddles the Egyptian border. Military intelligence officials have estimated that Hamas has rebuilt its terrorist infrastructure since the end of Cast Lead and that dozens or even of hundreds of tunnels have been built.

The IDF’s swift counter offensive was in response to a massive terrorist attack on the Western Negev, sending people back into the trauma they have suffered for more than nine years. Twenty-four hours before the latest barrage on Israel, Southern Command Major-General Yoav Galant said the Cast Lead offensive was so successful that “we did not experience such a quiet period in the last decade.”

However, he also warned Gaza Belt residents, “We must be wary that the horizon is not yet safe, and we are preparing for the worst if it so happens.”

More than 280 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead until Thursday, when Hamas and allied terrorists fired more than 10 mortar shells and a rocket at Gaza Belt areas. No one was wounded and no damage was reported.

The mortars were fired almost immediately after Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced the anti-Kassam Iron Dome system had successfully passed critical tests and would be operational before next year. Hamas issued a statement that it can overcome the system, which is designed to intercept short range missiles. It claimed that Iron Dome is designed for missiles that are more conventional than the Kassam rocket. One other problem with the system is its cost of $30,000-$40,000 for each unit, compared with the low cost of manufacturing thousands of homemade mortar shells and Kassams.

The terrorist attacks, which included an anti-tank missile, forced Israel to shut down the Kerem Shalom crossing, one of the points of entry for humanitarian goods into Gaza. The same location was the target of terrorists in June 2006, when they attacked an IDF checkpoint, killed two soldiers and kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

Negotiations for his return once again have hit snags, while his physical and psychological condition remains unknown. Hamas has refused to honor the Geneva Convention that requires visits by Red Cross officials.

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2. Gaza Terrorists Fire Rocket at Ashkelon, None Hurt

by Gil Ronen

Gaza terrorists fired a rocket in the direction of the coastal city of Ashkelon Thursday evening. The rocket apparently exploded in agricultural fields south of Ashkelon. There were no reports of casualties or damage.

Police combed the area where the rocket is thought to have fallen, but have not yet located it. A warning siren went off in the area.

Earlier in the evening, terrorists fired an anti-tank missile at an IDF force near the security barrier with Gaza. The IDF force returned fire to the source of the attack. No one was hurt.

Terrorists fired ten mortar rounds at Israel earlier Thursday. At least three of the shells exploded next to a kibbutz located in the Shaar HaNegev Regional Council area. Three other shells landed near the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza, through which humanitarian supplies are shipped almost daily into the region. Following the attack, the Defense Ministry closed the crossing until further notice.

The IAF dropped 520,000 fliers over parts of Gaza adjoining the security fence with Israel Thursday, warning residents to stay at least 300 meters away from the fence and not to ccoperate with smugglers.

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3. ‘Hamas and Egypt on Collision Course’

by Gil Ronen

The clashes at Rafiah between Hamas-controlled mobs and Egyptian security forces will lead to a larger conflict between the two entities, Middle East expert Dr. Mordechai Kedar estimated in an interview for Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew news magazine. “Hamas and the Egyptians are on a collision course and it is only a matter of time until it happens,” he said.

The clashes between Egypt and the Hamas terrorists are representative of a larger struggle, he said, between two schools of thought that are fighting each other for leadership of the Arab world. “On the one hand there is Egypt, a sovereign secular country, and on the other hand there is the new state in Gaza, led by an organization that wants to place the world under the kingdom of Allah,” Dr. Kedar explained.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has reached the moment of truth, Dr. Kedar said. “The Egyptians refuse to let Hamas continue to dig tunnels under their noses,” he said. “The cooperation with Iran threatens Egypt. The Egyptians have already exposed Hamas cells that operated in the country and Mubarak is afraid of losing power.”

The Egyptian strongman faces a true dilemma, the expert from Bar Ilan University said. “On the one hand he needs to rid Egypt of the hornets’ nest of all those Al Qaeda people operating under his nose, but on the other hand if his hand gets too heavy on Hamas in Gaza he exposes himself to a conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood. He has no good option today.”

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4. Blatantly Anti-Semitic Exchange on C-Span

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

A caller on a C-Span interview program Monday complained about "all these Jews" having "way too much power" in America and pushing the U.S. into wars with the Muslim world. He found his comments echoed and expanded upon by the studio guest.

Michael Scheuer, the former director of a CIA unit assigned to track down Osama Bin-Laden, calmly expressed the view that American soldiers are now dying in Iraq for the sake of Israelis. He further claimed that any debate of American support for Israel is squelched in the public sphere.

The interviewer for C-Span’s Washington Journal program did not react to the blatantly anti-Semitic exchange. Several other callers praised Scheuer for his position regarding Israel, adding their own condemnation of the Jewish State and its supporters.

An excerpt of the initial discussion follows:

John (on the phone from Franklin, New York): "Good morning. I, for one, am sick and tired of all these Jews coming on C-Span and other stations and pushing us to go to war against our Muslim friends. They’re willing to spend the last drop of American blood and treasure to get their way in the world. They have way too much power in this country. People like Wolfowitz and Feith and the other neo-cons – that Jewed us into Iraq – and now we’re going to spend the next 60 years rehabilitating our soldiers. I’m sick and tired of it."

C-SPAN host (to Scheuer): "Any comments?"

Scheuer: "Yeah. I think that of course American foreign policy is eventually up to the American people. One of the big things we have not been able to discuss for the past 30 years is our policy towards the Israelis. Whether we want to be involved in fighting Israel’s wars in the future is something that Americans should be able to talk about. They may vote yes. They may want to see their kids killed in Iraq or Yemen or somewhere else to protect Israel. But the question is: we need to talk about it. Ultimately, Israel is a country that is of no particular worth to the United States."

C-SPAN host: "You mean strategically?"

Scheuer: "Strategically. They have no resources we need. Their manpower is minimal. Their association with us is a negative for the United States. Now that’s a fact. What you want to do about that fact is entirely different. But for anyone to stand up in the United States and say that our support for Israel doesn’t hurt us in the Muslim world, or our support for Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship doesn’t hurt us, is to just defy reality."

[Watch the video clip here or the full interview with Scheuer here.]

Earlier in the same interview, however, Scheuer made it clear what he felt should be done regarding Israel. In his opinion, the U.S. should "persuade" Islamic terrorists threatening America "to focus their anger" on Israel and on oppressive Middle Eastern regimes.

American Jewish Groups ‘Hurt’ Critics of Israel
Scheuer also later elaborated on what he said is the way criticism of Israel is prevented.

A caller named Nicki from Maryland thanked him for his comments on Israel and asked, "Why is it that the United States does not want to talk about Israel?" Prefacing his remarks by asserting that "Israel has every right to do what it needs to do" to defend itself, including the development of nuclear weapons, Scheuer said that the U.S. has no real interest in either Israel or the Palestinian Authority. "That is a religious war in which we have no stake," he continued.

Scheuer: "Why don’t we talk about that? Because AIPAC and other influential American Jewish groups are extraordinarily involved in the funding of American political campaigns and have the ability to reach out and make sure that people lose their jobs, or are otherwise hurt, if they dare to criticize Israel."

Scheuer went on to claim that he lost a job with the Jamestown Foundation think tank for saying that then-presidential candidate Barack Obama was "doing what I call the Tel-Aviv Two Step". As a result, he claimed, "the donors to that foundation" ordered that he be terminated. He concluded the discussion of Jewish political influence by saying, "You know, you always talk about the Israel Lobby and its power, but to see it up close and personal aimed right at me was very educational. In fact, it was worth the experience of losing a job."

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5. Arab Shouts ‘Kill Jews’ on Miami Plane

by Gil Ronen

An Arab airline passenger in Miami shouted "I want to kill all the Jews!" before police forced him off a Northwest Airlines plane in Florida Wednesday night, the Associated Press reported.

The man is named Mansor Muhammad Asad, 43, of Toledo, Ohio, according to a Miami-Dade Police Department statement. He was arrested and charged with threats against a public servant, disorderly conduct and resisting an officer non violently. An FBI spokeswoman said there were no indications that the incident was related to terrorism. The FBI was initially called in to investigate the incident, but is no longer involved in the investigation and sees it as a matter for local authorities.

Authorities used a stun gun to subdue Asad on the jet bridge after he charged at an officer with fists clenched. He reportedly also “chanted in a foreign language” – the report does not elaborate – and threatened officers when they searched him. "I’m not afraid of you cops, I’ve gotten in fights with cops in Ohio and broke their arms in three places," he reportedly said. "I’ve broken skulls too!" Witnesses told investigators that Asad was loud, disruptive and claimed to be Palestinian.

The fracas forced the plane, which was taxiing on the runway at Miami International Airport, to turn around.

Officers didn’t find any weapons or explosives on Asad, who was reportedly “agitated and aggressive at times.” Police said that alcohol did not appear to be a factor in his behavior.

AP reported that according to the Transportation Security Administration, three of Asad’s companions were also taken off the plane and questioned. The flight departed to its planned destination after a search was conducted.

Asad was transported to a Miami-Dade County jail after his arrest.

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6. Ben Eliezer: If We Weren’t in Coalition, Ketzaleh Would Be

by Gil Ronen

Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Binyamin Ben-Eliezer expressed sorrow over Labor MK Ophir Pines’s resignation from the Knesset Thursday, and told his fellow party members that “if we were not in the government – Ketzaleh would be” – a reference to MK Yaakov ("Ketzaleh") Katz, Chairman of the National Union party.

Ben-Eliezer reacted to Pines’s accusation that Labor should not have joined the “right-wing” Netanyahu government by saying that the government was not right-wing at all. By joining it, he added, Labor prevented the nationalists from steering the government.

Ben Eliezer spoke at a meeting of the Labor Party Bureau. “Unfortunately,” he said, “we are experts at stabbing ourselves. A party is a house, a house with foundations, and it is strong. Maybe the residents of the house are not good, but the house is strong. The ideology which Bibi [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu] is following is the ideology of this house, right here, and he is not following the Revisionist ideology.”

Revisionist Zionism refers to the Zionist ideology of Zev Jabotinsky and the founders of the Herut party, to which Likud is a successor, which held that Israel’s rightful territory stretches beyond the Jordan River.

"I am very sorry about Ophir’s departure,” the veteran minister said. “I appointed him Party Secretary when I was Party Chairman. Ophir is one of the best parliamentarians I know in the Israeli Knesset. This good parliamentarian had every quality in him except one – patience. I regret his departure, but I salute him for the way he said farewell to the party.”

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7. King David Era Pottery Shard Supports Biblical Narrative

by Avi Yellin

A breakthrough in the research of the Hebrew Scriptures has shed new light on the period in which the Bible books of the Prophets were written. Professor Gershon Galil of the Department of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa has deciphered an inscription dating from the 10th century BCE (the period of King David’s reign) and has proven the inscription to be ancient Hebrew, thus making it the earliest known example of Hebrew writing.

The significance of this breakthrough relates to the fact that at least some of the Biblical scriptures are now proven to have been composed hundreds of years before the dates presented today in research and that the Kingdom of Israel already existed at that time.

The inscription itself, which was written in ink on a 15×16.5cm trapezoid pottery shard, was discovered a year and a half ago at excavations that were carried out by Professor Yosef Garfinkel near the Elah valley, south of Jerusalem, and west of Hevron.

The researchers dated the inscription back to the 10th century BCE, which was the period of King David’s reign, but the question of the language used in this inscription remained unanswered, making it impossible to prove whether it was in fact Hebrew or another Semitic language.

Professor Galil’s deciphering of the ancient writing testifies to it being authentic Hebrew based on its use of verbs particular to the Hebrew language and content specific to Hebrew culture not adopted by other regional cultures at the time.

“This text is a social statement, relating to slaves, widows and orphans. It uses verbs that were characteristic of Hebrew, such as "asah" (did) and "avad" (worked), which were rarely used in other regional languages. Particular words that appear in the text, such as "almana" (widow) are specific to Hebrew and are written differently in other local languages. The content itself was also unfamiliar to all the cultures in the region besides the Hebrew society: The present inscription provides social elements similar to those found in the Biblical prophecies and very different from prophecies written by other cultures postulating glorification of the gods and taking care of their physical needs”

Galil added that once this deciphering is received at research centers, the inscription will become the earliest Hebrew inscription to be found, testifying to Hebrew writing abilities as early as the 10th century BCE. This stands opposed to the dating of the composition of the Bible in much current academic research, which does not recognize the possibility that the Bible or parts of it could have been written during this ancient period.

Galil also noted that the inscription was discovered in a provincial Judean town, explaining that if there were scribes in the periphery, it can be assumed that those inhabiting the central region and Jerusalem were even more proficient writers. “It can now be maintained that it was highly reasonable that during the 10th century BCE, during the reign of King David, there were scribes in Israel who were able to write literary texts and complex historiographies such as the books of Judges and Samuel.” He added that the complexity of the text, along with the impressive fortifications revealed at the site, refute theories that attempt to deny the existence of the Kingdom of Israel at that time.

The contents of the text express social sensitivity to the fragile position of weaker members of society and the inscription testifies to the presence of strangers within the Israeli society as far back as this ancient period, calling on native Hebrews to provide support for these strangers. It advocates care for widows and orphans and encourages the king – who at that time had the responsibility of curbing social inequality – to be involved in improving Israeli society. This inscription is similar in its content to Biblical scriptures (Isaiah 1:17, Psalms 72:3, Exodus 23:3, and others), but according to Galil it is not copied from any Biblical text.

The deciphered text:

[…………………………………]
1′ ’l t‘ś w‘bd ’[t ….…]
2′ špt [‘]b[d] w’lm[n] špt yt[m]
3′ [w]gr [r]b ‘ll rb [d]l w
4′ ’[l]mn šqm ybd mlk
5′ ’[b]yn [w]‘bd šk gr t[mk]

[……………………………………………………]
1′ you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
2′ Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
3′ [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
4′ the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
5′ Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.

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8. Michael Steinhardt Criticizes the Failures of Jewish Leadership

by Avi Yellin

Michael Steinhardt, one of world Jewry’s most philanthropic benefactors and a co-founder of Birthright Israel, delivered a scathing criticism this week of all that he sees wrong with the Jewish world today and singled out non-Orthodox life.

In a television interview on Thursday with Mark S. Golub of Shalom TV, Steinhardt expressed his deep disappointment with the traditional Hebrew school system and characterized many of the young people he has met through Birthright Israel as “Jewish barbarians” who have never in their lives even experienced a Sabbath dinner.

Steinhardt, who identifies himself as anything but an Orthodox Jew, had especially harsh criticism for non-Orthodox Jewish life in the Diaspora. He expresses his disappointment and anger with those often described as “wonderful educators” in the Reform and Conservative movements for having done “such a poor job under-educating our next generations” and by failing to distinguish Jewish values from Christian ones.

From Steinhardt’s perspective, it has become virtually impossible to identify a non-Orthodox Jewish student at any secular university from a non-Jewish student. “I think that many of the trends that we have seen – such as the fact that 55-60 percent of non-Orthodox Jews are marrying out, such as the fact that only 15 percent of total philanthropy of Jews goes to Jewish causes – are reflective of that fact that non-Orthodox Jewish education in America has been, and continues to be, a shandah – an abysmal failure.”

Steinhardt also blasted the Jewish leadership in America, saying that there has been much too much emphasis on the Holocaust – “an event of extraordinary enormity” – and misplaced fears about anti-Semitism in America. “Anti-Semitism has always been far more mythical than real in America; it’s as if organizations have to create the bogeyman of anti-Semitism in order to raise money.”

Steinhardt further argued that as long as the Jewish community is obsessed with the Holocaust and anti-Semitism, these concerns detract “from our ability to think about the Jewish future – because it’s hard to be focused intensively on the Holocaust and, at the same time, to think about what we want to accomplish and what we want to be in the 21st Century.”

Steinhardt offered a foreboding assessment for the future of Diaspora Jewry. “It is a moribund Jewish world, continuously losing its young people, whose tzedaka has dramatically changed where only a small fraction of total philanthropy is going to Jewish causes; interest in Israel is declining; the number of American Jews going to Israel is not growing; where the culmination of Jewish life seems to be (for the young person) the bar mitzvah – and from there it is all downhill.”

While Steinhardt maintains that the most effective tool in instilling a sense of Jewish identity in young people is for them to visit the Land of Israel, he does not hold back from criticizing Israeli politicians and post-Zionist aspects of modern Israeli culture. “Its [Israel’s] politicians are, writ large, awful; its businessmen are of less than glorious quality; and when you walk down Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv and you look around at these people and you say, ‘This is who you admire?’ I often say it’s easier to be a Zionist in Manhattan than it is in Tel Aviv.”

But despite the challenges that exist in the modern Jewish state, Steinhardt admits that Israel has always been his great love and even his “substitute for religion.”

“While the religion of Judaism is so deeply disappointing – its practice, its verbiage, its inability to reflect realistically upon our lives; I could forgive almost anything vis-à-vis Israel. Israel was and still is my Jewish miracle!”

Overall, Steinhardt expressed joy and appreciation for being able to contribute to and participate in Jewish life to the extent that he has. “I really have been fortunate having the freedom to make my own choices, to have contributed as I have contributed, to have expressed myself with the freedom to be as nasty as I am to the ‘Jewish establishment’ – deservedly so! And it’s been a wonderful experience.”

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