Archive for March, 2010

Miriam’s Cup

March 29, 2010

Miriam’s Cup – A Ritual for Women/A Ritual for Us All
Tomado de United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism

The Passover haggadah is one of the most widely dispersed and read of all Jewish texts. Ironically, the story leading up to the Exodus from slavery contains one of the most femalerich narratives in the Bible, yet the haggadah is devoid of a single female personality; Joheved, Miriam, Shifra, Puah, and Pharaoh’s daughter never appear in its pages.

To provide women with a place in the Passover ritual, many households have begun to place kos Miryam, Miriam’s cup, on the seder table beside the cup of Elijah. It is a reminder of the midrashic tale of Miriam’s well, a miraculous source of water in the desert. As a symbol of women’s presence at the exodus, the kos Miryam reflects a contemporary desire for the inclusion of all Jews at the seder.

Miriam’s cup is an evolving ritual. Some fill it at the beginning of the seder, others after the 10 plagues are read before dayyenu. Others use it in conjunction with Elijah’s cup at the end of the evening. It may be passed around for everyone to take a sip, or pour its contents into individual glasses. Whatever your preference, Miriam’s cup provides a thoughtful ritual to enhance your celebration.

For ideas on crafting your own kos Miryam, creating a women’s seder, and other seder enhancements, go to the Women’s League website, http://www.wlcj.org.

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Henio Żytomirski. A story of one life

March 29, 2010

Henio Żytomirski.

The photograph of a little boy you can see in front of you was taken in one of the main streets of Lublin. There is nothing particular in this picture and you cannot say much about it.

Some citizens of Lublin may be able to recognize the place where the boy stands.
People pass it every day, not paying attention to it. When we look at this photograph, we cannot even specify when it was taken. Perhaps before the war? Or maybe after the war, in the 1950s or the 1960s? Thousands of similar pictures of kids are taken in the streets every day.

However, behind this seemingly casual photo there is the life story of a little Jewish boy, born in 1933 in Lublin, whose name was Henio Żytomirski. He is the kid in the picture. Six year old Henio was to start primary school on 1 September 1939. Yet, World War II broke out on that day and Henio never went to school. He died in 1942 in a gas chamber of Majdanek Nazi concentration camp.

This photograph is the last in the series of his pictures taken by his father every year. The photos have survived and they can be arranged into a small album. Turning over its pages, we can see the photographs of Henio from 1933, 1934 and so on, until the last one from 1939.

When you walk past the place where Henio was standing while his father took this photo of him, think for a moment about this little Jewish boy. We will tell you now his story.

Tomasz Pietrasiewicz
Translated by: Piotr Wojcieszuk

The photograph was taken on 5 July 1939.

The boy stands at the steps of a building. The background indicates the place where the picture was taken. The pre-war address was: 64 Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, the building of the Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego.

The boy stopped for a moment, perhaps during a walk. He was to start school on 1 September 1939. This is his story – a story of a Jewish boy from Lublin, which ended in Majdanek Nazi concentration camp in 1942.

Henio Żytomirski was born in 1933 in Lublin. He lived with his parents Szmuel and Sara Żytomirski in a house at 3 Szewska Street. A dozen or so of his photos survived from the period prior to World War II. They show the boy at various occasions: embraced by his father, with his mother in Litewski Square, with his grandfather in Krakowskie Przedmieście Street, at a birthday party, or at the farewell to his uncle Leon leaving for Palestine in 1937.

The fate of Henio during the war is not known in detail. Without doubt, after the establishment of the ghetto in Podzamcze, Henio’s family moved from 3 Szewska Street to the building at 11 Kowalska Street. From there, Henio and his father were relocated to the ghetto in Majdan Tatarski. Then they were moved to Majdanek. And it is there where Henio’s story ends.

Watch >>> Gallery of Henio’s photographs

Watch >> Gallery of the Żytomirski family’s photographs

The story of the Żytomirski family has been reconstructed with the help of their relative Neta Żytomirska – Avidar, who, having visited the „Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre” Centre, handed over the albums telling about the fate of Henio and his family.

Neta Żytomirska – Avidar lives in Israel. Her father is Leon Żytomirski, Henio’s uncle, who emigrated from Poland just before the war. Neta Avidar is a graphic artist. In 2007 she came to Lublin with the exhibition of her works whose subject matter concerns human feelings: hidden anxieties, suffering and desires, inspired by war experiences of her family.

The albums containing information about Henio Żytomirski and the fate of his family are very special documents. Through them, the story of one person becomes the symbolic fate of Jewish citizens of Lublin who perished during the war.

“Letters to Henio”

We were so deeply moved by the story of Henio that we decided to do something in order to commemorate him.

These are various actions of the educational and inspirational character. Trying to preserve the memory of Henio, we suggested the following ideas:
– writing letters to Henio;
– the last photograph (marking the space) and visiting places connected with Henio’s life;
– projects of teachers who participate every year in the action „Letters to Henio”.

A booklet about Henio has been published, containing photographs from the albums handed over by Neta Żytomirska – Avidar.

Watch >>> Gallery with the booklet about Henio

The story of Henio was also included in the exhibition „A Primer. The Life of Children in Majdanek Concentration Camp” presented in the former Nazi concentration camp Majdanek, barrack no. 53.

The story of Henio was an inspiration behind the multimedia presentation entitled “Henio Żytomirski. A Story,” which includes archive material and photos from the actions “Letters to Henio,” as well as the song “Małe dzieci po to są” (“That’s what little kids are for”) performed by Anna Maria Jopek.

The materials compiled by:
Marta Grudzińska, Monika Krzykała,
Beata Markiewicz, Piotr Sztajdel
Edited by: Joanna Zętar
Translated by: Piotr Wojcieszuk

http://www.tnn.pl/pamiej.php?kat=3385

Haggadah

March 26, 2010

It is hard to think of another classic Jewish text reprinted, rewritten, and re-imagined as often, or as divergently, as the Haggadah. The Passover Seder is the most ubiquitous Jewish observance—fully three-quarters of American Jews participate in a Seder of some kind, as do 80–95 percent of Israelis. The abundance of Haggadot, in other words, reflects the ubiquity of the observance.

Of course, the Haggadah has long been a mirror of Jewish history. Once its text had stabilized by the dawn of the Middle Ages, it became the object of lavish and continuing attention on the part of commentators, illuminators, illustrators, and translators. The advent of printing made it even more available and even more open to interpretation. Because the basic text and structure have remained more or less in place, the many versions offer snapshots of their times and places.

Today that historical diversity is in overdrive. The number of new Haggadot produced every year is overwhelming. Even more dazzling, or dizzying, is the range of perspectives they exhibit: rabbinic, academic, New Age, feminist, ecological, neo-Hasidic, and on and on.

Through the Haggadah and the Seder, wrote the late Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, “the memory of the nation is annually revived and replenished, and the collective hope sustained.” Yet precisely that sense of the collective, not to mention its celebration, seems absent from many of today’s Haggadot, even the best of them. Instead, the journey of Passover is increasingly, intensely, presented as personal and subjective. Here again the Haggadah serves as a mirror of the times.

If today’s radically diverse Haggadot seem to strain Jewish collectivity to the breaking point, will tomorrow’s witness a rebound? There are grounds for hoping so, provided the shared center holds: the calendar, the set of practices, and the old text itself, read, interpreted, reinterpreted, and then read—and sung—once again.

http://www.jewishideasdaily.com/

PBS presents ‘God on Trial’ in Auschwitz

March 20, 2010

By Tom Tugend

The prosecutor reads the charges against God: murder, collaboration with the enemy, breach of contract with His chosen people.

Setting: A barrack in Auschwitz, with some 20 Jewish prisoners, half of whom will be gassed in the morning.

Time: evening, sometime during the Holocaust.

So opens “God on Trial,” an intellectual and emotional masterpiece, airing on PBS stations on Sunday evening, Nov. 9, the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

A half-Jew, once a respected judge in Germany, presides over the trial. A young prisoner is the prosecutor, while his father speaks for the defense. A rabbi, who has committed the entire Torah to memory, cites chapter and verse. Other inmates break in occasionally, drawing on their own experiences to accuse or defend the Almighty.

In his opening statement, the prosecutor recites the history of Jewish persecution, from Babylon to the Romans to Czarist Russia, to show that God has habitually broken his covenant with the children of Israel.

No, counters the defense, it is the Jews who are the contract breakers, because they forgot the Torah.

Prosecutor: Why did God disperse the Jews?

Defense: To spread knowledge of His word throughout the world.

The defense argues that God, like a surgeon, must occasionally remove the gangrene to purify the body and usher in the golden age.

Are you saying that Mengele and Hitler are doing God’s work? the prosecution asks. Do you say that only the righteous will survive? Not true. Only the cunning and shameless will survive — and will these build the nation of Israel?

A former physicist from France asks for rational reasoning. It’s not about faith, it’s about who has the power, he argues.

A cynical inmate notes that the buckles on the belts of German soldiers carry the motto “Gott Mit Uns” — God Is With Us — and suggests that the Almighty has decided to transfer his covenant to someone else.

The nonreligious judge tells the “jury” that the Nazis want to strip them not just of their lives, but also their dignity, and warns that “Now they also want to take away your God, even a foolish god.”

These few examples only hint as the depth and conviction of the give-and-take, which make our customary debates about the existence and belief in God sound like high-school exercises.

It would be wrong to give away the final verdict, or the heart-stopping closing scene, but suffice that both atheists and believers will find some satisfaction and solace.

“God on Trial” was first aired by the BBC and features a superb cast of mostly British actors, including Antony Sher, Rupert Graves, Dominic Cooper, Stellan Skarsgard and Jack Shepherd.

Persistent reports over 60 years have it that something resembling such a trial actually took place in Auschwitz, with Elie Wiesel frequently cited as the authority for the report.

Wiesel himself, speaking from New York, set the record straight.

“When I was in Auschwitz, the former head of a yeshiva and I worked together for about two weeks, carrying bricks,” Wiesel recounted.

When they had a chance to talk together, the rabbi would speculate on the idea of bringing God before a rabbinical court on charges of abandoning his people.

The verdict might be guilty or, at least, that God owed the Jews an explanation for the Holocaust, said Wiesel, who lost track of the rabbi, but presumes he was killed by the Germans. Wiesel doesn’t know whether the rabbi was ever able to realize his idea.

Executive producer Mark Redhead (“Bloody Sunday”) and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce (“Welcome to Sarajevo”) are Christians and, speaking from London, admitted to some trepidation in tackling so sensitive and Jewish a subject.

Cottrell Boyce, a devout Catholic, said, “I first talked to a number of rabbis and was assured that Jews had a long tradition of arguing with God. That impressed me, because Christians would never put God on trial.

“One point I wanted to make is that the spirit of the Jews was not completely crushed by the Holocaust, that they were more than walking skeletons.”

But, essentially, the teleplay is not about the Holocaust, but about God, he said. “Since 9/11 and the tsunami, God seems to be back on the scene again.”

Asked whether the arguments about God’s guilt had shaken his own Catholic faith, he responded, “Sure, it’s shaken all the time, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Redhead went one step further, proposing that the drama is not about the existence of God, “but more about the nature of faith, how we conduct ourselves in the face of savagery, how we try to find solid ground in a bottomless swamp.”

He added, “We are asking about the meaning of life, because if the Holocaust had no meaning, then nothing has any meaning.”

KCET will air “God on Trial” on Masterpiece Contemporary at 9 p.m. on Nov. 9.

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PBS presents ‘God on Trial’ in Auschwitz

By Tom Tugend

http://www.jewishjournal.com/ television/article/pbs_presents_god_on_trial_in_auschwitz_20081106/

The prosecutor reads the charges against God: murder, collaboration with the enemy, breach of contract with His chosen people.

Setting: A barrack in Auschwitz, with some 20 Jewish prisoners, half of whom will be gassed in the morning.

Time: evening, sometime during the Holocaust.

So opens “God on Trial,” an intellectual and emotional masterpiece, airing on PBS stations on Sunday evening, Nov. 9, the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

A half-Jew, once a respected judge in Germany, presides over the trial. A young prisoner is the prosecutor, while his father speaks for the defense. A rabbi, who has committed the entire Torah to memory, cites chapter and verse. Other inmates break in occasionally, drawing on their own experiences to accuse or defend the Almighty.

In his opening statement, the prosecutor recites the history of Jewish persecution, from Babylon to the Romans to Czarist Russia, to show that God has habitually broken his covenant with the children of Israel.

No, counters the defense, it is the Jews who are the contract breakers, because they forgot the Torah.

Prosecutor: Why did God disperse the Jews?

Defense: To spread knowledge of His word throughout the world.

The defense argues that God, like a surgeon, must occasionally remove the gangrene to purify the body and usher in the golden age.

Are you saying that Mengele and Hitler are doing God’s work? the prosecution asks. Do you say that only the righteous will survive? Not true. Only the cunning and shameless will survive — and will these build the nation of Israel?

A former physicist from France asks for rational reasoning. It’s not about faith, it’s about who has the power, he argues.

A cynical inmate notes that the buckles on the belts of German soldiers carry the motto “Gott Mit Uns” — God Is With Us — and suggests that the Almighty has decided to transfer his covenant to someone else.

The nonreligious judge tells the “jury” that the Nazis want to strip them not just of their lives, but also their dignity, and warns that “Now they also want to take away your God, even a foolish god.”

These few examples only hint as the depth and conviction of the give-and-take, which make our customary debates about the existence and belief in God sound like high-school exercises.

It would be wrong to give away the final verdict, or the heart-stopping closing scene, but suffice that both atheists and believers will find some satisfaction and solace.

“God on Trial” was first aired by the BBC and features a superb cast of mostly British actors, including Antony Sher, Rupert Graves, Dominic Cooper, Stellan Skarsgard and Jack Shepherd.

Persistent reports over 60 years have it that something resembling such a trial actually took place in Auschwitz, with Elie Wiesel frequently cited as the authority for the report.

Wiesel himself, speaking from New York, set the record straight.

“When I was in Auschwitz, the former head of a yeshiva and I worked together for about two weeks, carrying bricks,” Wiesel recounted.

When they had a chance to talk together, the rabbi would speculate on the idea of bringing God before a rabbinical court on charges of abandoning his people.

The verdict might be guilty or, at least, that God owed the Jews an explanation for the Holocaust, said Wiesel, who lost track of the rabbi, but presumes he was killed by the Germans. Wiesel doesn’t know whether the rabbi was ever able to realize his idea.

Executive producer Mark Redhead (“Bloody Sunday”) and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce (“Welcome to Sarajevo”) are Christians and, speaking from London, admitted to some trepidation in tackling so sensitive and Jewish a subject.

Cottrell Boyce, a devout Catholic, said, “I first talked to a number of rabbis and was assured that Jews had a long tradition of arguing with God. That impressed me, because Christians would never put God on trial.

“One point I wanted to make is that the spirit of the Jews was not completely crushed by the Holocaust, that they were more than walking skeletons.”

But, essentially, the teleplay is not about the Holocaust, but about God, he said. “Since 9/11 and the tsunami, God seems to be back on the scene again.”

Asked whether the arguments about God’s guilt had shaken his own Catholic faith, he responded, “Sure, it’s shaken all the time, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Redhead went one step further, proposing that the drama is not about the existence of God, “but more about the nature of faith, how we conduct ourselves in the face of savagery, how we try to find solid ground in a bottomless swamp.”

He added, “We are asking about the meaning of life, because if the Holocaust had no meaning, then nothing has any meaning.”

KCET will air “God on Trial” on Masterpiece Contemporary at 9 p.m. on Nov. 9.

http://www.jewishjournal.com/ television/article/pbs_presents_god_on_trial_in_auschwitz_20081106/

‘Israel planning to destroy al Aksa’

March 17, 2010

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
17/03/2010 03:18

Martyrs Brigades calls on PA to release jailed “fighters” to “defend J’lem.”
Talkbacks (41)

The armed wing of Fatah, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, on Tuesday called on the Palestinian Authority to give back the weapons it had confiscated from the group’s gunmen so that they could participate in the “Jerusalem Intifada.” The call came as both the PA and Hamas continued to accuse Israel of planning to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

“We call on all the Palestinian security services in the West Bank to release all Palestinian fighters from prison and to give them back their weapons so that they can join their people in defending Jerusalem against Israeli aggression,” the armed group, which was supposed to have been dismantled years ago in line with understandings between the PA and the US, said in a leaflet distributed in Ramallah.

Under the terms of the understandings reached about three years ago, hundreds of members of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades handed over their weapons to the PA in return for promises that Israel would stop pursuing them and that they would be recruited as policemen in the various security forces.

Israel has since then pardoned dozens of Fatah gunmen who agreed to turn over their weapons and refrain from involvement in terror activities.

This was the first time since then that the Fatah group had called on the PA to return the weapons so that its gunmen could resume armed attacks on Israel.

The group also called on its members to “resist Israeli attempts to turn Jerusalem into a Jewish city and to respond to the series of Israeli assaults on Islamic and Christian holy sites.”

Although the PA leadership has been calling on Palestinians to demonstrate against Israel’s alleged scheme to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount, Palestinian security forces have banned street protests in many Palestinian cities, eyewitnesses told The Jerusalem Post.

They quoted PA security officials as saying that demonstrations were only allowed in areas under Israeli control, including Jerusalem, and that there was no need to protest inside Palestinian cities in the West Bank.

Hatem Abdel Kader, a top Fatah official in Jerusalem and the former PA minister for Jerusalem Affairs, confirmed that the PA security forces were stopping Palestinians from demonstrating in many parts of the West Bank.

Abdel Kader said that the PA and several Palestinian factions were preventing the Palestinians from venting their anger and frustration over Israel’s measures in Jerusalem, including the inauguration of the Hurva Synagogue and plans to build new homes in Jewish neighborhoods in the city.

The Fatah official said that divisions between Fatah and Hamas were also torpedoing Palestinian efforts to launch a new intifada and stand united against Israel.

Hamas and Fatah have already begun referring to the recent wave of violence as al-Quds (Jerusalem) Intifada.

Abdel Kader told Post that he later received a phone call from Tayeb Abdel Rahim, an aide to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, threatening to punish him for stating that the PA was preventing anti-Israel demonstrations in its areas.

“This man thinks he’s the military governor of the West Bank,” Abdel Kader said. “Instead of dealing with the important issue of Jerusalem, Abbas’s office is threatening to punish me for telling the truth. They forgot that I’m an elected member of parliament and that I’m in charge of the Jerusalem portfolio in Fatah.”

The PA leadership in the West Bank on Tuesday sent copies of a letter to members of the Quartet – the US, EU, UN and Russia – urging them to intervene to stop Israel from “creating new facts on the ground, particularly in Jerusalem.” Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat headed with the letters to Moscow, where representatives of the Quartet are scheduled to meet next week. The letter accuses Israel of continuing to expand existing settlements and claims that Israeli authorities are working to “Judaize” Jerusalem.

Abbas Zaki, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, predicted that the violence, which broke out in Jerusalem in the past few days, would escalate “if Israel insisted on pursuing its scheme to rebuild the so-called Temple Mount.”

Zaki and several Fatah and PA officials have in recent days claimed that the inauguration of the newly renovated synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem was part of a conspiracy aimed at destroying the Aksa Mosque.

“The battle for Jerusalem is the battle of all Palestinians and Arabs, regardless of their religion,” Zaki said. “We are facing huge challenges that need to be confronted.”

Hamas also urged Palestinians on Tuesday to step up the protests against Israel’s measures in Jerusalem. The appeal came after the Islamist movement called for a day of “rage” in Jerusalem on Tuesday to protest plans to build new homes in Ramat Shlomo and the inauguration of the old synagogue.

The armed wing of Hamas, Izaddin al-Kassam, said recent events in Jerusalem will lead to “a new explosion in the face of the Zionist entity.” The group called on the PA to stop security coordination with Israel and to allow armed gangs to resume terror attacks against Israelis.

Ahmed Bahr, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, called for a “military strike” against Israel. He claimed that Israel had just built a synagogue on the Temple Mount as part of its plan to destroy the Aksa Mosque. He also called on the Arab countries to withdraw their support for holding indirect talks between Israel and the PA.

http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=171176

SOMEWHERE – Barbra Streisand

March 15, 2010

SOMEWHERE. A Holocaust Memorial.
(Extended version of a previous video)

A BEAUTIFUL, EXTREMELY TOUCHING PRESENTATION BY BARBRA STREISAND. AT THE BEGINNING YOU WILL SEE IMAGES OF THE BOAT ‘THE SAINT LOUIS’ THAT SAILED FROM GERMANY WITH GERMAN JEWS WHO TRIED TO LEAVE. BUT THEY WERE TURNED BACK BY THE ANTI- SEMITIC STATE DEPARTMENT OF PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT. MANY AMERICAN JEWS LOVED HIM. I NEVER REALIZED WHAT A GROUP OF ANTI-SEMITES HE HAD WORKING WITH HIM UNTIL I READ ‘CHUTZPAH’ BY ALAN DERSHOWITZ. FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SNOPE THIS OR READ THE BOOK — ESPECIALLY WHERE HE DESCRIBES WHAT HAPPENED IN THE CAMPS AND WAS BROUGHT TO ONE OF OUR OWN JUSTICES, FELIX FRANFURTER. THIS JUST SICKENS ME. GOOD FOR AMERICA BUT THANK G-D FOR THE STATE OF ISRAEL.

Streisand on “Somewhere”:

“I think its message is universal. One can listen to the lyric of “Somewhere” and relate to it on any level. From whatever walk of life you are, from whatever perspective you have, somehow you can relate to “Somewhere.”

SOMEWHERE (abridged version)

SOMEWHERE: A HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL.
Kristallnacht 1938 and the S.S. St. Louis voyage to Havana, Cuba in 1939. More than 900 jews on a ship bound for Cuba with valid landing permits were denied entry and forced to return to Europe. Many of them perished in the nazi concentration camps.

After the war, a Holocaust Memorial was erected at the Jewish cemetery in Havana with the following description: Honrando la memoria
En este lugar estan enterradas varias pastillas de jabon hechas de grasas humanas hebreas parte de los seis millones victimas de la barbarie nazi ocurrido en el siglo veinte.
Paz a sus restos.

Translation:

“Here are buried several bars of soap made from human fat of jews part of the six million victims of nazi cruelty which took place in the twentieth century.
Rest in peace.”

Quotation:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way”
-Charles Dickens from A TALE OF TWO CITIES.

WHY CAN’T THIS COUNTRY FOLLOW ISRAEL’S LEAD?

March 13, 2010

Friday February 19, 2010 – By Chris Roycroft-Davis*

Excuse me for not sending flowers to the funeral of the terrorist the Israelis bumped off in Dubai.

Unlike the bleeding hearts in the liberal media I’m not shedding any tears.

As military chief of terrorist group Hamas, Mahmoud al Mabhouh had the blood of many Israeli soldiers and civilians on his hands. He was in charge of smuggling rockets and grenades into the Gaza Strip so his murderous gangs could lob them into Israel.

He could hardly complain when a hit squad from Mossad, the Israeli security service, brought his life to a swift end.

To say he had it coming is an understatement.

So why such a fuss about his execution? Why has the Foreign office twisted the arm of the Israeli ambassador? And possibly the most crucial question of all: whose side are we on, the terrorists or those with the courage to stand up to them?

The Israelis don’t mess about, they don’t sit back and take it. You kill one of them and they will kill you. And afterwards they won’t explain, they won’t apologise, they won’t even deny it.

World opinion means nothing – what ever London, Washington or Damascus may say the Israelis are convinced that they are right. ‘An eye for an eye’ is the most basic concept of natural justice, dating back 4,000 years to Babylonian times and is promoted three times in the old Testament. Even in the New Testament Jesus says: Those who take up the sword shall die by the sword.

Did Mahmoud al-Mabhouh reflect on that as he checked in to room 230 at his posh hotel in Dubai? He was the man behind the kidnapping and killing of two Israel soldiers 21 years ago; he had been smuggling arms into the Gaza Strip; he was believed to be in Dubai to buy more weapons from an Iranian dealer. If Mossad agents came to call they were hardly there to inquire after his health.

Unlike Britain, Israel doesn’t tolerate an enemy within. It doesn’t give those who hate them free housing and welfare handouts. It doesn’t let the right of free speech enable them to preach murder on its streets.
Retribution is a vital part of Israel’s psyche. After the Second World War the Israelis spent half a century tracking down evil Nazis. When Israeli athletes were murdered at the 1972 Olympics their Palestinian killers were hunted around the world and eliminated: one by a bomb in his bed, another by a booby-trapped phone.

Who can forget the electrifying raid on Entebbe in 1976 when Israeli special forces stormed a hijacked airliner, killed the terrorists and freed all but three of the hostages? It was a salutary lesson to the world.
You’d think that Britain of all countries would understand the need to pull no punches with those who have sworn to be your enemies. That’s what the SAS did in Northern Ireland for more than 30 years, taking out IRA members before they could perpetrate further outrages. It is what our special forces did in Iraq and are doubtless doing in Afghanistan.

It is what the SAS should be doing today in Somalia, where British yacht couple Paul and Rachel Chandler are being held by pirates. Can you imagine the Israelis allowing two of their people to suffer so long in some fly-blown African hellhole?

Israel has no reason to be ashamed of its actions. As Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman points out: “our security activity is conducted according to the very clear, very cautious and responsible rules of the game.” Rule No 1 of course in any security activity is kill or be killed.
Where Britain has a right to be upset, however, is the way the Israelis have carried out ID theft on the passports of six of our citizens. It’s not the first time they’ve done it and last time they promised they wouldn’t do it again.

One Foreign office source says Britain could cut ties with Mossad if the Israelis have been “found to be acting against British interests”. You might think executing the would terrorist might be precisely in our interests but the career diplomats take a loftier view.

Gordon Brown says Israel has questions to answer about nicking our passports but the implication is that Britain wouldn’t be in the least bit put out if the Israeli hit squad had used fake documents from Libya, Japan, Peru – in fact anywhere other than Britain.

Brown even has the cheek to spout that “a British passport is an important part of being British”. This from a Prime Minister whose policy was to welcome millions of immigrants so he could socially engineer the country to be less British and more likely to vote Labour.
We should take no lessons either from the BBC, which for too long refused to call Hamas suicide bombers “terrorists” and hid behind weasel words like “radicals” and “militants”. Its anti-Israel bias is clear today when BBC News pontificates that Israel “may have scored a costly own goal” by using British identities for what it calls “nefarious activities”.

Make no mistake, I think a British passport is the most valuable document in the world and I don’t like it being used to gain illegal entry to another country. But my top priority will always be security and the world is undoubtedly more secure now Hamas has lost another murderer from its ranks.

*N.E.: the writer, who writes for the Daily Express and the Times is NOT normally pro-Israel

http://www.express.co.uk/ourcomments/view/159169/Why-can-t-this-country-follow-Israel-s-lead-

Sarkozy’s first grandson, circumcised according to Jewish tradition

March 12, 2010

Feb 02, 2010
Paris, France – Bris Performed on French President’s First Grandchild

President Sarkozy with son Jean

Paris, France -French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s first grandson, Solal, was circumcised according to Jewish tradition.

Solal, the son of Jean Sarkozy and Jessica Sebaoun, was born January 13 in the western Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine.

“It happened like all circumcisions, with a rabbi and a mohel,” Jean Balkany, the president’s friend, who was present at the brit for Solal, told Jewish radio Radio J.

President Sarkozy did not attend the brit, apparently because of work-related obligations, but Balkany said the president’s entire family was present, including his parents and brother.

Jessica Sebaoun is “a very observant Sephardic” Jew and the French president “sees no problem with that,” said Balkany, a member of the French parliament and mayor of Levallois-Perret, a town northwest of Paris.

Balkany, who is a Jew (his father was deported to Auschwitz), said that when he met Sarkozy more than 20 years ago, one of their first conversations was about their shared “Jewish origins.”

Sarkozy’s first grandchild was named Solal, after the hero of a novel by Swiss writer Albert Cohen. The first name Solal comes from the Hebrew ‘Solel’ which means “to carve a path,” showing the way for others and leading by example.

Jean Sarkozy is a law student and regional councilor west of Paris. He married former high-school classmate Jessica Sebaoun-Darty, an heiress of a Jewish family that founded the electronics retailer group Darty. The Darty family founded what became an eponymous nationwide chain of big-box home appliance stores, now owned by Britain’s KESA Electricals group.

The French president, who turned 55 last month, has two sons from his first marriage – Jean and Pierre – and a third, 12-year-old Louis, from his second.

Nicolas Sarkozy has Jewish roots as his mother Andrée was born to the Mallah family, one of the oldest Jewish families of Salonika in northern Greece.

Eurovision 2010 Israel Harel Skaat & Anne-Marie David הראל סקעת

March 11, 2010

הראל סקעת
Harel Skaat (Hebrew: הראל סקעת), Israel representative to the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest, singing a duet with Anne-Marie David, on March 8th, 2010; They are singing the evergreen classic winne…
Harel Skaat (Hebrew: הראל סקעת) , Israel representative to the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest, singing a duet with Anne-Marie David, on March 8th, 2010;

They are singing the evergreen classic winner of the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest
“Tu te reconnaîtras” (“You’ll Recognize Yourself”), originaly sung in French by French singer Anne-Marie David representing Luxembourg, was the winning song at the Eurovision Song Contest 1973 on one of the rare occasions when a country has won the contest two years in succession.

“Tu te reconnaîtras” tells of the universality of human experience, that “you’ll recognize yourself” in other people; for instance, in a child who is being punished by a teacher, in the artist who never receives his rightful recognition, “in the one who doubts and in the one who believes”. David recorded her winning entry in five languages; French, German (as “Du bist da”), English (“Wonderful Dream”), Spanish (“Te reconocerás”) and – very unusually – in two entirely different Italian translations, entitled “Il letto del re” (“The King’s Bed”) and “Non si vive di paura” (“You Can’t Live By Fear”) respectively.

The existence of the State of Israel

March 10, 2010

Biden Calls Ties Between U.S. and Israel ‘Unshakable’
The New York Times 09/03/10
By ETHAN BRONNER

JERUSALEM — Calling Washington’s ties to Israel “unshakable,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. opened talks with Israeli leaders on Tuesday, part of a concerted American effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and keep Israel focused on sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program rather than unilateral military action.

On a five-day visit to the Middle East, Mr. Biden is also expected to meet Palestinian and Jordanian leaders and give a speech at Tel Aviv University expressing American solidarity with Israel — a theme that was apparent from the beginning of his discussions here.

Mr. Biden met Tuesday with President Shimon Peres and wrote in a guestbook at the president’s residence that “the bond between our two nations has been and will remain unshakable. Only together can we achieve lasting peace in the region.”

In a conversation with Mr. Peres in front of reporters, Mr. Biden reinforced the point, saying:

“There is absolutely no space between the United States and Israel in terms of Israel’s security. None.”

Mr. Biden later met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. George J. Mitchell, the administration’s Middle East envoy, announced Monday in Jerusalem that Israel and the Palestinians had agreed to start indirect negotiations and that he would be back next week to continue structuring those talks.

They will be the first peace talks in more than a year between the sides, but they have generated only the faintest enthusiasm here. Israeli and Palestinian leaders are skeptical that the other side will really accept a two-state solution. In addition, the contours and powers of a future Palestinian state are in sharp dispute.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ chief negotiator, told Israel’s Army Radio that this seemed likely to be the last chance to achieve two states and indicated that if the effort failed, there would be no choice but to insist that Israelis and Palestinians share one state.

Mr. Erekat added that the Palestinians were prepared to see a small percentage of West Bank territory stay in Israeli hands to accommodate settlements built after the area was conquered by Israel in the 1967 war, but only on the condition that Israel yield an equal amount of land in compensation.

“I’m not saying the borders of ’67; I’m saying the size of ’67,” he said.

Mr. Netanyahu supports two states but wants the Palestinian side to be demilitarized and to accept an Israeli military presence on its future eastern border to prevent the import of weapons and rockets that could be aimed at Israel’s population centers.

The issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and of Jewish residents in East Jerusalem is also expected to be a source of great contention. There are 500,000 Israeli Jews living on land the Palestinians want as part of their state. Even if much of the land they are on were granted to Israeli annexation in exchange for territory for the Palestinians, there would still be a need to relocate tens of thousands of settlers.

Israel announced a 10-month partial freeze on settlement building in November but allowed the completion of about 3,000 units already started and excluded Jerusalem from the moratorium, meaning that construction has not really slowed.

On Monday, as Mr. Biden was heading into the country, the Defense Ministry announced permission for 112 more units in an ultra-Orthodox settlement, Beitar Illit, saying that there were “safety” reasons for the exception and that the units had been approved before the moratorium was announced. The Palestinian leadership condemned the move as Israeli hypocrisy.

A full construction freeze in settlements has been a Palestinian condition for renewing direct talks, and Palestinian leaders say it remains their condition to move from these indirect talks to direct ones.

The coming negotiations are expected to last some months and are being called “proximity talks,” meaning that Israeli and Palestinian leaders will not sit at the same table but will respond to proposals carried by American officials between Jerusalem and the Palestinian leadership’s headquarters in Ramallah, in the West Bank. After thousands of hours of direct talks in past years, this is a sign of how much relations have deteriorated.

Much of Mr. Biden’s attention will be on Iran and assuring Israel that its fear of an Iranian nuclear weapons program is shared by the Obama administration and most of the world. Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but few Western governments believe it.

“I can promise the nation of Israel that we will meet, as allies, any security challenge that we may face,” Mr. Biden told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot in written answers to questions published on Monday. “Iran equipped with nuclear weapons will constitute a threat not only to Israel, but also to the United States.

“Iran’s obtaining nuclear arms will deeply undermine the stability of the entire international community and could lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East that will be extremely dangerous for everyone involved, including to Iran. For this reason, our administration is mobilizing the international community to insist that Iran fulfill its international commitments. If it does not, it will have to deal with serious consequences and with increasing isolation.”

Israel feels that its risk from an Iranian nuclear weapon is greater than almost anyone else’s, given its proximity and the ideology of the Iranian leadership, which calls for the end of the Jewish state, arms Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, groups that oppose the existence of Israel, and frequently denies the reality of the Holocaust.

Israel has been training for a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, but Washington has been pressing it to hold off and help work out a sanctions regime. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the director of the C.I.A. and the national security adviser have all been here with that message. Mr. Biden is expected to say the same.