Archive for June, 2008

Prisoner Exchange in Jewish Law

It has been reported that Hamas is demanding 1,000 terrorists now in Israeli jails in exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who has been held hostage for two years in Gaza. Hence, let’s consider an article by Rabbi Eliezer Melamed’s on the subject of prisoner exchange in Jewish law, but only insofar as it refers to the imprisonment of Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg in the thirteenth century.

“Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg (1215-1293 c.e.), known as the Maharam, was one of the greatest of the early Jewish codifiers. At the age of seventy he was taken captive and placed in a prison in France. Emperor Rudolf I proceeded to demand an exorbitant sum for his release.

“To understand the full significance of this act it is important to realize that almost all of the rabbis and leaders of the Jewish communities in that generation were the Maharam's students…Even the great rabbis of the generation that followed were greatly influenced by the teachings of the Maharam. The most famous of his students was Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel, known as the Rosh, whose rulings are cited extensively in Rabbi Yosef Karo's Shulchan Arukh. » Continue reading “Prisoner Exchange in Jewish Law”

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Israel’s Illegitimate and Criminal Government: Calling a Spade a Spade

Self-preservation is the first law of nature. Hence, the first purpose of government is to protect the lives of its citizens. A government that fails to protect its citizens forfeits its legitimacy. Such a government should obviously, and of necessity, be terminated by one means or another.

Consider the Israeli town of Sderot, once a town of 25,000 Jewish residents. This town has been terrorized and virtually depopulated. It has been struck by thousands of missiles launched from Gaza. The Arabs can bomb Sderot with impunity thanks to Israel’s cowardly and evil government. This cowardly and evil government has no right to exist. Its continued existence disgraces every Jew in Israel as well as in the Diaspora. This cowardly and evil government encourages terrorism throughout the world—more so when Israel’s ruling elites reward Arab terrorism with Jewish land.

That the people of Israel tolerate such a government places in question Israel’s own right to exist. Perhaps this is the arcane or unconscious reason why we hear voices in America and Europe questioning Israel’s justification? There may be another arcane reason. » Continue reading “Israel’s Illegitimate and Criminal Government: Calling a Spade a Spade”

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Let’s Be Constructive and Cheerful

Aren’t you tired of all the depressing news reported by the media? Aren’t you fed up with the failings of the United States—the bastion of freedom and democracy? Aren’t you dismayed by the hundreds of mosques in the United States preaching jihad? Aren’t you sick of paying more than four dollars per gallon of gasoline?

Are you worried about Iran becoming a nuclear power? Would you like to see President Bush wake up from his torpor and order the US Air Force to bomb Iran? Not a chance. U.S. military forces are tied down in Iraq. American public opinion would call for his impeachment. Besides, bombing Iran will insure Obama’s victory over McCain.

So, let’s ignore dismal reportage and lighten up. » Continue reading “Let’s Be Constructive and Cheerful”

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Poli. Sci. 101 for MK Yitzhak Levy

Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, June 23, 2008.

Knesset Member Yitzhak Levy wants to raise the number of Knesset members from 120 to 150. As reported in The Jerusalem Post last week (June 18, 2008), Levy complains that “the workload placed on MKs had grown to such an extent that it was simply impossible to adequately study the issues upon which MKs were expected to vote in a plenum, as well as in committees in which they sit.”

Mr. Levy also complains that, given the system of coalition cabinet government, some 30 MKs—one out of every four members—currently serves as either a minister or deputy minister, and that’s an additional assignment which distracts from their participation in the legislative function.

Levy’s proposal to increase the Knesset’s membership may be indicative of the incompetence of Israel’s legislative body. Let’s compare the Knesset with the American House of Representatives, beginning with the House. » Continue reading “Poli. Sci. 101 for MK Yitzhak Levy”

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Needed: The Courage to Name and Confront the Enemy

The following, apart from the three concluding paragraphs, is extracted from my book A Jewish Philosophy of History (lightcatcherbooks.com [2006]).

Muslims have never had any doubts about the conflict between Islam and the West. They have always divided the world into the territory of Dar al-Islam, where Islam reigns, and the territory of Dar al-Harb, where infidels reign, but which the Sharia requires Muslims to conquer in the name of Allah.

Islam’s division of humanity suggests to Lee Harris [Civilization and Its Enemies] that Islam is the enemy of civilization [per se]. By civilization he means a standard that can be applied across cultures and across history. He sees civilization as having four prerequisites: a stable social order, the co-operation of individuals pursuing their own interests, the ability to tolerate or socialize with one’s neighbors, and a hatred of violence. Clearly, Islam lacks three of the four prerequisites of Harris’ view of a civilization. What is remarkable is that Dr. Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-born psychiatrist living in America, arrived at the same conclusion. She denied there was clash between the West and Islamic civilization because, in her words, Islam is not a civilization! » Continue reading “Needed: The Courage to Name and Confront the Enemy”

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Naming the Enemy

Comment on the article “The Enemy Has a Name” by Daniel Pipes.

With all due respect to Daniel Pipes, and although I understand his reticence, it is not sufficient to classify the enemy as “Islamism.” Islamism is nothing less than Islam. The Quran, the Hadith, and Islam's murderous history make this crystal clear. But consider the judgment of two astute scholar-statesmen of uncommon urbanity:

Alexis de Tocqueville:

I studied the Quran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad. So far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.

Winston Churchill said as much in 1899, but with chilling significance for Europe today: » Continue reading “Naming the Enemy”

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To Disenfranchise or to Empower the Jewish People

The present writer congratulates those members of the Knesset that supported a bill whereby 60 MKs would be elected in regional districts, while 60 would be elected under the present system of Proportional Representation. This fulfills one provision of a draft constitution set forth in my book Jewish Statesmanship: Lest Israel Fall (2000)—which is not to say this book should be credited for the bill in question.

Although the bill was vetoed by the Shas Party, a member of Ehud Olmert’s coalition government, it should soon resurface as a private member’s bill. At stake is the empowerment of the Jewish people and even the preservation of Israel’s Jewish heritage.

It cannot be said too often that the law that makes Israel a single electoral district in which fixed party slates win Knesset seats via Proportional Representation has effectively disenfranchised the Jews of this country. This law has enabled members of the Knesset, especially those who become prime ministers or cabinet ministers, to violate the abiding beliefs and values of the Jewish people with impunity. A conspicuous culprit is Shas. » Continue reading “To Disenfranchise or to Empower the Jewish People”

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Theocracy Versus Judaism: How the Jews of Israel Have Been Deceived and Disempowered (III)

Part three of a series. View Part one. View Part two.

B. Neither God Nor the People Rule Israel

In Judaism there is no ruling class. In a truly Jewish community, who rules is based primarily on intellectual and moral character. Indeed, the most authentic form of Jewish leadership is that of the teacher, whose power is not political but intellectual and moral.

The fact that education in Israel is required of all members of the community precludes rigid class divisions. Conversely, Torah education is the great unifying force of the Jewish people, a people that honors scholars more than kings. As Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch points out, in a mature Jewish community the center of gravity lies not in any ruling class but in the body of the people. It is hardly an exaggeration to say, therefore, that the leaders of a Jewish community act consistently with the Torah when they make themselves superfluous!

See to it that the peasant behind the plough, the herdsman with his cattle, the weaver at his loom can be your judges and masters, the critics of your conduct and teaching; then at the same time will they be your pupils and friends, they will willingly and joyfully follow your teachings and regulations; they will understand and appreciate the spirit in which you speak and by which you are guided.[1] » Continue reading “Theocracy Versus Judaism: How the Jews of Israel Have Been Deceived and Disempowered (III)”

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The Origin of Anti-Judaism

Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, June 16, 2008.

The origin of anti-Judaism is not, or should not be, a controversial subject. It began quite simply at Sinai, when Israel became the bearer of ethical monotheism in a world steeped in pagan polytheism.

In those days, each nation had its own god or gods and saw no reason why other nations should not have their own gods. Then, suddenly, a nation arose and proclaimed there is only one God—the God of Israel. The Torah proclaims this God as the Creator of heaven and earth, that is, of the entire universe including mankind. Since this God of Israel precludes the existence of other gods, it was only natural that Gentile nations should hate Israel. Let us probe a little deeper.

In pagan times, nations identified their gods with various forces of nature. Hence, it was not simple for them to comprehend how the God of Israel not only transcends nature but is also immanent in nature. A thoughtful person might ask: How could such a Being be one, a unity? But that is precisely what philosophers will eventually call “Absolute Being.” Rabbi Elijah Benamozegh discusses the subject in Israel and Humanity: » Continue reading “The Origin of Anti-Judaism”

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A Matter of Courage

1) Some people ask, “How did Israel ever get into Oslo?”—which journalist Charles Krauthammer called “the biggest diplomatic blunder in history”? One may also ask, “What prevents Israel from getting out of this suicidal blunder?” Why doesn’t Israel’s government simply abrogate Oslo, i.e., the Israel-PLO Agreement of September 1993? After all, the PLO has violated this agreement countless times. Indeed, Oslo has resulted in some 10,000 Jewish casualties.

2) To get out of Oslo we first need to know how Israel got into this death trap in the first place. The simplest answer goes like this: During the 1992 Knesset election campaign, Labor Party leader Yitzhak Rabin said there would be no recognition of, or negotiation with, the PLO. Yet that is precisely what the Rabin government proceeded to do once it was entrenched in office. One may therefore conclude that Oslo is the result of the Labor Party’s betrayal of the nation. All this is true, but too simple.

3) Oslo as not a place so much as a state of mind. Israel’s ruling elites succumbed to the Oslo mentality as soon as Israel won her greatest military victory in the Six Day War of June 1967. A Government of National Unity offered to “return” the land Israel repossessed for a peace treaty. Imagine: returning this strategic and cherished land to the aggressors for a piece of paper! » Continue reading “A Matter of Courage”

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