Friday, April 24, 2015

CRIMES Against Children: A California "Judge" Rightfully Under Fire --- YOU can help by CALLING Judge Michael Marc Kellyor, sending a letter, PHONE # --- 657-622-5239 --- 700 Civic Center Drive West, Santa Ana, CA 92791.

CRIMES Against Children: A California "Judge" Rightfully Under Fire


Rabbi Noson Leiter

Paul Mendlowitz - a_unorthodoxjew@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 23, 2015

To The Crackpot Anti-Vaxxers - "Religious or Otherwise"

Another Study Shows No Link Between MMR Vaccine and Autism


Large study published by JAMA shows no link between measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism


A study of 96,000 U.S. children has found no link between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism. 

On the heels of a measles outbreak in California fueled by vaccination fears that scientists call unfounded, another large study has shown no link between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism.

The study examined insurance claims for 96,000 U.S. children born between 2001 and 2007, and found that those who received MMR vaccine didn’t develop autism at a higher rate than unvaccinated children, according to results published Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA. Even children who had older siblings with autism—a group considered at high risk for the disorder—didn’t have increased odds of developing autism after receiving the vaccine, compared with unvaccinated children with autistic older siblings.

“These findings indicate no harmful association between MMR vaccine receipt and ASD even among children already at higher risk for ASD,” the researchers wrote, using the acronym for autism spectrum disorders. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services.

A string of large studies have now debunked the theory that MMR might be linked to autism, including a 2004 review of epidemiological studies by the U.S. Institute of Medicine. Yet some parents still decline to immunize their children, a trend that has sparked scattered measles outbreaks across the U.S. and Europe in recent years.

Parents who have one child with autism are particularly reluctant to vaccinate any additional children, Anjali Jain, lead researcher on the new study, said in an interview. So the researchers decided that younger siblings of children with autism would be particularly important to focus on, she said.

“Hopefully this study is reassuring that there isn’t any additional risk from the vaccine” for such children, said Dr. Jain, a pediatrician and vice president at The Lewin Group, a health-care consulting firm in Falls Church, Va., that conducts research for clients including the U.S. government.

The study’s authors analyzed insurance claims from the Optum Research Database, which is run by a unit of insurance giant UnitedHealth Group Inc. They identified 96,000 children in the database with older siblings, and determined how many of those children and older siblings had received autism diagnoses on claims forms. They also used the claim forms to determine whether the children had received MMR vaccine, and compared autism rates in the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups as a whole, and in children with older siblings with and without autism.

Fred Volkmar, an autism expert at the Child Study Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said the study benefited from a large sample size and “well done analyses.” In an email, he said he hoped the study would “contribute to putting to rest the myth that immunizations cause autism!”

Fear of immunization played a big role in the latest U.S. measles outbreak, which began in California in December 2014, leading to 131 measles cases reported to the California Department of Public Health. California health officials said they documented vaccination status for 81 of the 131 cases; 70% of these 81 cases were in unvaccinated people, and the rest were in people who had received one or more doses of MMR. Two doses of MMR are recommended, and are considered more than 97% effective in preventing measles. California declared the outbreak over on April 17.

Write to Jeanne Whalen at jeanne.whalen@wsj.com


Research involving cohort of 95,000 children is latest research to contradict findings of discredited gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History

Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History 


Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History
Marc B. Shapiro

I am happy to announce that my new book is now with the printer and should be at the distributor by May 4. Amazon and book stores will have the book not long after that. Changing the Immutable has taken quite a long time and I hope readers find that it was worth the wait. One of the main reasons it has taken so long is that some of my time in recent years has been devoted to my posts on the Seforim Blog. When I first started posting here I saw it merely as a pleasant diversion. However, I now see my Seforim Blog posts as an important part of my scholarly writing.  Throughout Changing the Immutable I reference not only my posts but many others that appeared on the Seforim Blog.

I am making this announcement now rather than after the book appears because Amazon is offering a pre-order discount (link). For those who want to wait, I know that Biegeleisen will be selling it at a very good price.

Changing the Immutable focuses on how segments of Judaism's Orthodox society have taken it upon themselves to rewrite the past by covering up and literally cutting out that which does not fit their own world view. 

For reasons ranging from theological considerations to internal religious politics to changing religious standards, such Jewish self-censorship abounds, and author Marc B. Shapiro discusses examples from each category. His analysis is illustrated by a number of images of the original texts next to their censored versions, together with an explanation of what made them problematic and how the issue was resolved. Shapiro considers the concepts of history that underlie such changes, looking at how some Orthodox historiography sees truth as entirely instrumental.

 Drawing on the words of leading rabbis, particularly from the haredi world, he shows that what is important here is not historical truth, but a truth that leads to observance and faith in the Sages. He concludes with a discussion of the concept of truth in the Jewish tradition, and when this truth can be altered. Changing the Immutable also reflects on the paradox of a society that regards itself as traditional, but, at the same time, is uncomfortable with some of the inherited tradition, and thus feels the need to create an idealized view of the past.

Shapiro considers this in context, detailing precedents in Jewish history dating back to talmudic times. Since the objects of censorship have included such figures as Maimonides, Bahya ibn Pakuda, Rashi, Naphtali Herz Wessely, Moses Mendelssohn, the Hatam Sofer, Samson Raphael Hirsch, A. I. Kook, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and J. B. Soloveitchik, as well as issues such as Zionism, biblical interpretation, and attitudes to women and non-Jews, Shapiro's book also serves as a study in Jewish intellectual history and how the ideas of one era do not always find favor with later generations. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Perhaps, just perhaps,Obama is worse than Chamberlain...

Is Obama worse than Chamberlain?

Op-ed: The comparison between Lausanne 2015 and Munich 1938 lets Iran off lightly, as Germany at the time wasn't calling for 'Death to the Jews'.

By Ben-Dror Yemini

When Jan Masaryk, the foreign minister of Czechoslovakia at the time, heard first-hand the English Parliament greet Neville Chamberlain's announcement about a summit meeting with Adolf Hitler with raucous applause, he was rather confused.

After all, the threatening German leader was demanding appeasement in the form of a piece of Masaryk's own country. The summit took place two days later. Representatives of Czechoslovakia weren't even invited. They were simply notified. The rest is history.

The comparison between Lausanne 2015 and Munich 1938 lets Iran off lightly. Because Germany at the time, despite being a dark country, wasn't calling for "Death to England" or "Death to the Jews." It wasn't in control at that stage of four European countries. The Iran of today, however, has been singing its genocidal mantra for years. It preaches and strives for the destruction of the State of Israel. And many, too many, simply don't want to listen.

A few years ago, a leading US newspaper, the Washington Post, conducted a discussion on the question: Did the Iranian leader call for wiping Israel off the map? The arguments raised spoke of mistranslation and other nonsense. The discussion ended. The question marks were erased. The cries of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel "are sounded again and again, with ecstatic fervor, on all levels and by the masses.

Just recently, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei himself joined the masses in calling for "Death to America." The Houthis, Iran's affiliates in Yemen, have a flag bearing the words "Death to America" and "Death to Israel." And a senior Iranian official, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the head of the Basij militia unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, again made it clear on Iranian state television, two days before the agreement was signed, that "wiping Israel off the map is non-negotiable."

Are these statements only made for show? As we speak, Iran continues to equip Hezbollah with far more precise weapons, with the purpose of causing much greater damage to Israel. This is the same Iran that is being choked by sanctions. This is the same Iran whose economy is teetering. But nothing is as important as the ultimate goal – of the warmongering and the destruction of the State of Israel.

It's not that they really can. But they are gripped by fervor. The irrational behavior is reminiscent of those dark days. Even with its forces taking a pounding and on the verge of defeat, Germany continued to pour all its efforts into maintaining its extermination enterprise. But going back to comparisons, Germany of 1939 wasn't preaching destruction; Iran of 2015 is.

The facts are laid out before us. The declarations are crystal clear. The actions are open and widely known. And yet, those same voices keep saying to Israel: Enough already with these comparisons. Why enough? Why shouldn't Israel take the Iranian declarations seriously? Are we oblivious to the murder fest of recent years, recent months, recent days of the Jihadists wherever they may be? Why does the leader of the free world refuse to listen?

The supporters of appeasement with Iran at all costs, who are now lauding the agreement, argue that there is no need for another war because all the wars have only made things worse. Another bit of misdirection. Because the opponents of the agreement weren't demanding that the US embark on another war. On the contrary. The regime of sanctions is proving itself. If Iran was ready to capitulate temporarily, it was due to the sanctions.

Despite its limited means, Iran continues to invest all its energy into weapons, in addition to the nuclear project. What's going to happen without the sanctions? Will Iran become a peace-loving country that seeks reconciliation? Will Iran put the brakes on its expansionist aspirations and will Iran stop aiding Hezbollah? The answers today are well known. In 1938, they were much less clearer.

I wrote a while ago that Obama isn't Chamberlain. The agreement raises some tough questions. Perhaps, just perhaps, he is worse than Chamberlain. I hope to God we're proven wrong.

Ben-Dror Yemini was born in Tel-Aviv, Israel in 1954. He studied Humanities and History in Tel Aviv University, and later on he studies Law. After his university studies, he was appointed advisor to the Israeli Minister of Immigration Absorption and then became the spokesman of the Ministry. In 1984, he began his career as a journalist and essayist. He worked as a lawyer and was a partner in a law firm. Since 2003 he is the opinion-editor of the daily newspaper Maariv and also published many articles and essays in other journals.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Finally, scholars have determined that people don’t use rational, instrumental reasoning when they deal with religious beliefs....

Faith vs. Facts

JERUSALEM — MOST of us find it mind-boggling that some people seem willing to ignore the facts — on climate change, on vaccines, on health care — if the facts conflict with their sense of what someone like them believes. “But those are the facts,” you want to say. “It seems weird to deny them.”

And yet a broad group of scholars is beginning to demonstrate that religious belief and factual belief are indeed different kinds of mental creatures. People process evidence differently when they think with a factual mind-set rather than with a religious mind-set. Even what they count as evidence is different. And they are motivated differently, based on what they conclude. On what grounds do scholars make such claims?

First of all, they have noticed that the very language people use changes when they talk about religious beings, and the changes mean that they think about their realness differently. You do not say, “I believe that my dog is alive.” The fact is so obvious it is not worth stating. You simply talk in ways that presume the dog’s aliveness — you say she’s adorable or hungry or in need of a walk. But to say, “I believe that Jesus Christ is alive” signals that you know that other people might not think so. It also asserts reverence and piety. We seem to regard religious beliefs and factual beliefs with what the philosopher Neil Van Leeuwen calls different “cognitive attitudes.”

Second, these scholars have remarked that when people consider the truth of a religious belief, what the belief does for their lives matters more than, well, the facts. We evaluate factual beliefs often with perceptual evidence. If I believe that the dog is in the study but I find her in the kitchen, I change my belief. We evaluate religious beliefs more with our sense of destiny, purpose and the way we think the world should be. One study found that over 70 percent of people who left a religious cult did so because of a conflict of values. 

They did not complain that the leader’s views were mistaken. They believed that he was a bad person.

Third, these scholars have found that religious and factual beliefs play different roles in interpreting the same events. Religious beliefs explain why, rather than how. People who understand readily that diseases are caused by natural processes might still attribute sickness at a particular time to demons, or healing to an act of God. 

The psychologist Cristine H. Legare and her colleagues recently demonstrated that people use both natural and supernatural explanations in this interdependent way across many cultures. They tell a story, as recounted by Tracy Kidder’s book on the anthropologist and physician Paul Farmer, about a woman who had taken her tuberculosis medication and been cured — and who then told Dr. Farmer that she was going to get back at the person who had used sorcery to make her ill. “But if you believe that,” he cried, “why did you take your medicines?” In response to the great doctor she replied, in essence, “Honey, are you incapable of complexity?”

Moreover, people’s reliance on supernatural explanations increases as they age. It may be tempting to think that children are more likely than adults to reach out to magic to explain something, and that they increasingly put that mind-set to the side as they grow up, but the reverse is true. It’s the young kids who seem skeptical when researchers ask them about gods and ancestors, and the adults who seem clear and firm. It seems that supernatural ideas do things for adults they do not yet do for children.

Finally, scholars have determined that people don’t use rational, instrumental reasoning when they deal with religious beliefs. The anthropologist Scott Atran and his colleagues have shown that sacred values are immune to the normal cost-benefit trade-offs that govern other dimensions of our lives. Sacred values are insensitive to quantity (one cartoon can be a profound insult). They don’t respond to material incentives (if you offer people money to give up something that represents their sacred value, and they often become more intractable in their refusal). 

Sacred values may even have different neural signatures in the brain.

The danger point seems to be when people feel themselves to be completely fused with a group defined by its sacred value.

 When Mr. Atran and his colleagues surveyed young men in two Moroccan neighborhoods associated with militant jihad (one of them home to five men who helped plot the 2004 Madrid train bombings, and then blew themselves up), they found that those who described themselves as closest to their friends and who upheld Shariah law were also more likely to say that they would suffer grievous harm to defend Shariah law. These people become what Mr. Atran calls “devoted actors” who are unconditionally committed to their sacred value, and they are willing to die for it.

One of the interesting things about sacred values, however, is that they are both general (“I am a true Christian”) and particular (“I believe that abortion is murder”). It is possible that this is the key to effective negotiation, because the ambiguity allows the sacred value to be reframed without losing its essential truth. 

Mr. Atran and his colleague Jeremy Ginges argued in a 2012 essay in Science that Jerusalem could be reimagined not as a place but as a portal to heaven. If it were, they suggested, just getting access to the portal, rather than owning it, might suffice.

Or then again, it might not. The recent elections in Israel are a daunting reminder of how tough the challenge is. Still, these new ideas about religious belief should shape the way people negotiate about ownership of the land, just as they should shape the way we think about climate change deniers and vaccine avoiders. People aren’t dumb in not recognizing the facts. They are using a reasoning process that responds to moral arguments more than scientific ones, and we should understand that when we engage.

T. M. Luhrmann is a contributing opinion writer and a professor of anthropology at Stanford.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Israel must attack to remove those nukes before it’s too late!


Op-Ed: Attack Now – Russian Interference Leaves Israel No Choice

The Obama Doctrine – scorn your friends, reward your enemies – has finally reaped the whirlwind, namely Russia and its pledge to provide Iran with an array of the most advanced “defensive” missiles on earth. This leaves Israel with no choice except to act BEFORE those missiles are deployed.

Israel must attack to remove those nukes before it’s too late.

If it was difficult to successfully strike Iran’s nuclear facilities today, tomorrow will be near impossible. So the scientific experts tell us.

The S-300 Surface-to-Air Missile System would provide Iran with an impenetrable shield.

It’s been explained that the S-300 Surface-to-Air Missile System would provide Iran with an impenetrable shield.

If anything, Russia’s move has clarified the situation. Israel’s duty to defend itself has never been more urgent and an attack scaled to wipe out Iran’s nuclear emplacements would likewise be a favor to any number of Sunni states that tremble from Iran’s Shiite encroachments throughout the Arab world.

Read this for one newsman’s heroic efforts to stop a worldwide caliphate, reminding readers that “The Koran Has Arrived And It Has Come To Devour The Bible.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah II told Fox News’ Bret Baier that somebody better do something, quick, seeing Iran on the prowl throughout the Middle East and beyond:  “You’ve got to connect all these dots together.

 All these issues are areas of instability,” declared Abdullah in connection to Iran’s heavy footprints throughout the region.

He cited Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan and his own country as being at risk.

Abdullah did not directly call for help from the United States or Israel, but the hint was unmistakable.

On seeking a deal to stop or stall Iran’s nuclear program, America’s infantile negotiators, led by John Kerry were no match for the ayatollahs. These were children bargaining with grown men. The ayatollahs trifled with Obama’s “best and brightest” during the negotiations and scorned them as laughable losers after the negotiations.

The result was no deal at all. Iran gets to keep arming itself with no one to stop it from growing bolder.

Certainly the United States, under Obama, cannot be counted on to come to the rescue. Thus, a vacuum waiting to be filled.

Enter Vladimir Putin, who saw the perfect opening, an opening he’s been waiting for along the decades to replace America as the dominant world power in the Middle East. He can’t be blamed. Russia does what Russia does because it is Russia. But the United States has no excuse for being so lame.

Putin and the ayatollahs must be dancing at finding Obama and Kerry so easily duped,

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned Putin to voice his displeasure. Apparently Netanyahu was assured that these missiles for Iran are weapons meant only for defense – which is terrible enough since the system could destroy (Israeli) jets trying to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.

But as noted in a recent column here, during the Cuban Missile Crisis Putin’s ancestor Nikita Khrushchev gave similar assurances to John F. Kennedy. No worries. Those missiles are only defensive. Until it turned out differently and the United States was ready to go to war – world war! – to get those Soviet arms removed from Cuba, be they defensive or offensive or both.

Israel finds itself in the same perilous spot as regards Iran. There is no choice but to take action now.

Jack Engelhard writes a regular column for Arutz Sheva. The new thriller from the New York-based novelist, The Bathsheba Deadline, a heroic editor’s singlehanded war on terror and against media bias. Engelhard wrote the int’l bestseller Indecent Proposal that was translated into more than 22 languages and turned into a Paramount motion picture starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. Website: www.jackengelhard.com


Thursday, April 16, 2015


by Anonymous:


It was at the same time hilarious and loathsome to bystanders. On Friday afternoon, April 13, 2007 (two days after Passover 5767), a 31-year-old ultra-Orthodox lawyer jumped to his death from a 69th-floor office of the Empire State Building in NYC. "Only in New York," said a yokel bus driver, "Only in New York." Visiting tourists dashed to the 33rd street to take pictures of the leg severed below a knee, which sluggish cops didn't cover right away. Theresa Colon, a tourist from Virginia, shrieked: "I cried and got sick to my stomach, I pray he knew who God was."

That lawyer knew who God was. He knew it a lot better than silly southerner Ms. Colon would ever know. I know it because that lawyer was a gifted Jewish scholar and my long time chavrusa at the Ner Yisroel of Baltimore, Moshe Menachem Kanovsky zt"l. I recollect the sleepless nights we spent in Bais Midrash going over and over Gemara with Rashi, Tosafos, Rishonim, Acharonim, and Shulchan Aruch. Moshe Kanovsky polished off many masechtos and knew many Mussar books by heart. Moshe Menachem had really earned his Semicha (the rabbinical ordination).

The New York bus driver was also dead wrong. Not "only in New York." In fact, it started in Baltimore, at the Ner Israel Rabbinical College. And I know it started with rabbi Moshe Eisemann. I reminisce how he would unflaggingly approach Moshe Menachem, I recall that Moshe frequented him on Shabbosos. Was Moshe Kanovsky raped by rabbi Eisemann? I can't say for sure. And I will not make it up about my beloved dead chaver merely to get some people "excited" with the new evidence against gay and pedophile rabbi Moshe Eisemann. But something happened. And it happened when Moshe Kanovsky was a student at Ner Yisroel, and it had something to do with rabbi Moshe Eisemann.

Moshe Menachem suddenly became withdrawn and stopped coming to seder. Through much of the day he slept in his dorm room or listened to Rush Limbaugh's talk show. On one occasion he decided to pour out his heart to one of his rebbeim whom he trusted a lot - rabbi Shraga Neuberger. After that Moshe Kanovsky got even more disheartened. What did "rav Shragi" tell him? I talked with Moshe and his roommates who knew about that conversation. This is the story: rabbi Shraga Neuberger (his shaggy beard still proudly displaying bits of his last dinner) laughed off Moshe Menachem's plea for help and added with an acrimonious wink, "I wonder if you will ever find a shidduch (get married) in your lifetime!" I bear witness that those were rabbi Shraga Neuberger's precise words.

Shortly thereafter Moshe Kanovsky left Baltimore for New York City. I doubt that Moshe went there with an intent to be with his father Yaakov. He was always closer to his mother and siblings who lived in Silver Spring (his parents got divorced in Philadelphia when Moshe was eight). Most likely, he assumed that he would get help from his famed uncle rabbi Yaakov Perlow, the Novominsker Rebbe and head of the Agudath Israel of America. Later I discovered that the Rebbe didn't help Moshe Menachem. Was that because his nephew was less important for "der Rebbe" than his relationship with the powerful NIRC, Agudath Israel, and rabbi Moshe Eisemann? I believe so.

Moshe was an educator, a rabbi, a lecturer, Jack-of-all-religious-trades but not a lawyer. Law was never his passion. He had to go to the Cardozo Law School because ostentatiously holy NYC and Baltimore rabbis with much blood on their hands were afraid of his lofty moral standards and did everything in their power to keep him out of the "klei kodesh" field. They also did an outstanding job to fulfill rabbi Shraga Neuberger's after-dinner "prophecy" ("I wonder if you will ever find a shidduch in your lifetime!"). But anyhow Moshe Menachem spent most of his free time learning Torah and helping poor people in NYC with free legal advice and Torah classes.

I had never been a big fan of conspiracy theories, muckraking, or sensationalism. However, I was wholly unprepared to learn about Moshe Kanovsky's suicide. I knew him well as a highly intelligent, kind-hearted, and soft-spoken soul, who knew fairly well even prior to becoming a rabbi what the Jewish Law warns about suicide, and I doubt he could have done it even taking into consideration possible manic depression / post-molestation effects. Likewise, as stated by the newspapers, all his family and friends didn't notice "any significant changes in his emotional state, even as he started working part-time for an attorney in the Empire State Building."

Many posters on the Internet acknowledged that he didn't jump but was pushed out of the window as it appeared from the security cameras' footage. At first it sounds crazy and distorted, but reason out who was that last "client" whom Moshe saw before abruptly interrupting his meeting with him and going to "another room" to jump out of the window? Why were there wrangling statements from Moshe's law firm denying that he ever worked there? What's more, two days prior to Moshe's death, right after Passover, the Vaad Harabbonim (Rabbinical Council of Greater Baltimore) mailed their infamous letter to the members of Baltimore's Orthodox community on the issue of sexual abuse. Moreover, Moshe Menachem died on the day the Baltimore Jewish Times published its cover story on the contemptible sexual predator rabbi Ephraim F. Shapiro!

Questions. Questions with no definitive answers... We want to rid our religion of child molesters, but we disregard the fact that they are not pure rapists. They deliver inspiring lectures, possess a compelling writing style, raise generations of students, establish important connections. Make an effort to uproot these potentates! The iniquitous child-molesting rabbis groom many disciples wholly saturated with their venom who later occupy positions of authority to safeguard their teachers. A parallel comes to mind with the students of the wicked Balaam (who was a sexual pervert too and, according to Sanhedrin 105b, even had relations with his donkey). Balaam's disciples of today also fit nicely with their definition in the Mishna in Pirkei Avos (5:22) as having "an evil eye," "an arrogant spirit," and "a greedy soul."

A small number of people cover up for rapists because they sincerely believe the molesters were slandered, other craven underlings lick the ass of the mighty and powerful because they are no different than them. We know that a person who is a sexual predator or enabler flouts his own religious doctrines. That's the reason the Agudath Israel is a cringing supporter of all Catholic bills - the people whose ancestors were systematically tortured to death and burned at the stake by that very Catholic Church itself!

Eisemanns are covered up by hobnobbing Ner Yisroel and Baltimore Mafia leaders because they are one and the same: all of them need to live in luxury edifices, take expensive vacations, and be "respectable." Learn from the Agudath Israel! That name means "a bundle" or "a bunch" in Hebrew. In truth, they do work like a bunch of thugs. We also need to group together. Until that happens, we will be ignominiously defeated every step of the way! Firing single email shots from behind your browser can't help a great deal. We need to establish an incorruptible, powerful, and brave organization outside the Internet. We need a place to go to where we will never be betrayed by our leaders who are in reality self-appointed narcissistic cowards!

Until that happens, we will be doomed. What happens when you speak up in Baltimore against the "religious" atrocities of explosive, disgruntled, but still "infallible" leaders, who effectively hold all power in their hands? You will be chased out of all shuls by their NIRC-dependent bellowing from the pulpit mealy-mouthed rabbis, ostracized by the indignated and held in thrall to the establishment "community," get threats in the mail, and face mud-slinging and character assassination. You will be forced out of town like rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau's daughter who was molested by her dad. Because at this point in the real (not virtual!) world only these criminals have the real dominance.

The gist of Passover is freedom. One very unwell person on the Internet made a crafty calculation that Moshe Kanovsky was falling down from the Empire State Building for 4.9254203994149455 seconds. It's really irrelevant if Moshe Menachem jumped himself or was plunged by mobsters, because we know who is responsible for his death, which in actuality started many years ago at NIRC. But I believe that in those final five seconds of his short bright life he (like the Jewish children in the days of the Talmud who jumped off the Roman ship to drown themselves in order to escape molestation) was really free. Free from rabbi Moshe Eisemann's sexual improprieties, free from rabbi Shraga Neuberger's sardonic laughter, free from his uncle's hypocrisy. Free from that heinous tinged with cynicism lie that we now call "Orthodox Judaism," which is in reality inimical to every single thing the Torah-true Judaism stood for all the erstwhile generations of our pure grandparents. And those five seconds of freedom were worth an entire life in this world.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Six years of endless attempts to undermine Israel’s diplomatic position and the last few months of bitter, personal and even vulgar criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu culminating in threats to leave it isolated at the United Nations made his protestations absurd if not completely disingenuous...

Why Is Obama’s Stance on Israel Questioned by So Many?


In an interview with the New York Times Thomas Friedman, President Obama purported to be aggrieved that anyone would question his support for Israel or his respect for concerns about its security. Not satisfied with merely asserting his devotion to the Jewish state, he said it was “personally difficult” to hear such criticism and that he would consider his presidency “a failure” if anything he did weakened it.

Six years of endless attempts to undermine Israel’s diplomatic position and the last few months of bitter, personal and even vulgar criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu culminating in threats to leave it isolated at the United Nations made his protestations absurd if not completely disingenuous. But Israelis could at least console themselves that in the course of trying to sell his appeasement of Iran to Congress, he was trying to downplay the crisis in the alliance that he had created. But it only took 24 hours for Obama to answer his own question about why so many Americans and Israelis question his attitude about Israel.

 In another interview, this time with another friendly questioner from the reliably liberal NPR, Obama was dismissed the suggestion that Iran be asked to recognize Israel as part of the nuclear deal he is promoting. His reason: doing so would mean asking Iran to change the nature of its regime. To which critics must respond that this is exactly why it can’t be trusted with a nuclear infrastructure.

Obama said the following to NPR’s Steve Inskeep:
The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won’t sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms. And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.
Obama went on to say that he believed the reason why the deal couldn’t be struck in that matter was because his goal was to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons and that he couldn’t count on it changing.

That makes a sort of superficial sense. And if the as yet unwritten deal actually ensured that Iran could never get a nuclear weapon, he might have a strong case for ignoring the nature of the Iranian government. But despite his ardent salesmanship, he can’t honestly claim that it does.

Obama has made an endless string of concessions that have allowed to keep its nuclear infrastructure, included its fortified bunker at Fordow, not forced it to export its stockpile of nuclear fuel, reveal the extent of its nuclear research and put an expiration date on the restrictions on its program. All this means that Iran can, if it is patient, build up its nuclear capabilities and then have a bomb in short order at the end of the agreement. Or, if it is not that patient, it can easily cheat its way to a weapon due to the weakness of the deal and the lack of a truly strict inspections regime or the ability of the West to quickly reimpose sanctions.

At best, all Obama has accomplished is to delay an Iranian bomb. At worst, he has allowed it to get close to one with Western permission and after having made it impossible to reassemble the international coalition that might have brought Iran to its knees had it been led by an American president with the guts to stick to a tough line rather than one that folded at every opportunity. The reason for this was that Obama’s goal throughout this process was détente with an aggressive, anti-Semitic and tyrannical regime rather than an effort to keep his 2012 campaign promise to eliminate its nuclear program.

Thus, the question about forcing it to recognize Israel is actually an apt one. Having empowered Iran at a time when its quest for regional hegemony via actions in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and now Gaza are scaring Israelis as well as moderate Arabs, it is fair to ask why the deal ignored Tehran’s support for terrorism and its frequent threats to obliterate Israel.

The president is right that to ask Iran to give up its rhetoric about Israel, let alone its policies aimed at bringing its dream of its elimination about, is to seek to change the nature of its theocratic government. But that is exactly why any deal that leaves people who have such goals in possession of thousands of nuclear centrifuges and a stockpile of nuclear fuel and a free pass to build a bomb in 15 years is tantamount to saying you don’t give a damn about Israel’s legitimate worries about Iran.

It was beneath the dignity of the presidency for Obama to feign hurt feelings about criticism for his efforts to undermine the U.S.-Israel alliance. Had he not spent most of his presidency (with the exception of the one year grace period of a Jewish charm offensive that accompanied his re-election campaign) sniping at Netanyahu, tilting the diplomatic playing field in the direction of the Palestinians and ignoring the latter’s consistent rejection of peace, there would be no justifications for questioning his bona fides as a friend of Israel.

But when he treats the vile threats against Israel as an insignificant detail about his prized negotiating partner, he betrays his own mindset that sees the Jewish state’s existential worries as a tiresome drag on his diplomatic ambitions. The president would probably prefer that the Iranians pipe down about their desire to destroy Israel but he doesn’t feel strongly enough about it to let it derail his grand design for a rapprochement with Tehran.

The president can complain about his hurt feelings as much as he wants though to do so strains even the credulity of his most fawning interviewers. But by agreeing to a deal that makes Iran a threshold nuclear power without insisting on it dropping its ideology of hate, the president has answered questions about his negative attitude toward Israel by confirming the worst fears of his critics.



Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Our position was summed up in the slogan “the only thing worse than bombing Iran is letting Iran get the bomb.” And to those like President Obama who charged us with warmongering, our response was that the choice was not between a negotiated settlement and war. It was between a conventional war now and a nuclear war later.

Whenever Barack Obama says, as he often does, that another war in the Middle East is the only alternative to the deal he is making with Iran, his critics immediately accuse him of setting up a straw man, which indeed he also often does. Even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the sternest and most effective critic of Obama’s deal, declares that the true alternative to it is not war but “a better deal.” So, too, leading domestic opponents like Senators Lindsay Graham and Tom Cotton.

Now I consider the agreement Obama has negotiated a dishonorable and dangerous product of appeasement, and so it pains me to side with him against political figures I admire and generally support. Nevertheless, I have to confess that I think he is right in arguing that the only alternative to a deal is war.

By this I do not mean that war is the only alternative to Obama’s deal alone. What I mean is that war is the only alternative to any deal the Iranians would be willing to sign–if, that is, the purpose is really to prevent them from getting the bomb. Obama keeps insisting that this is what his deal will accomplish. But it seems increasingly clear that he no longer thinks, if he ever did, that an Iran armed with nuclear weapons would be so dangerous that it must be prevented at all costs from getting them.

Up until a few years ago, there was hardly any dissent from this conviction. Yet while just about every political leader and pundit throughout the West agreed that the threat of military force had to be “kept on the table” in order for peaceful means to succeed, most of them were confident that a judicious combination of carrots and sticks would do the trick and that military force would never need to be taken off the table and actually used.

There was, however, a small minority–myself included–who contended that the Iranians were so determined to build a nuclear arsenal that nothing, not sanctions and not the chance (in Barack Obama’s words) to “get right with the world,” could ever induce them to give up their pursuit of it. And since we were convinced that negotiations could accomplish nothing but buy the Iranians more time to forge ahead, we also thought that the sooner we bombed their nuclear facilities the better.

We were fully aware that such a course was very risky. It would almost certainly trigger Iranian retaliation against our troops in the region and against Israel, and it might well lead to the dire economic consequences that Iran could let loose by blocking the flow of oil. Yet in our view all this was as nothing compared with the nuclear arms race that an Iranian bomb would set off throughout the Middle East.

Even worse, there was also the high probability that Iran–once possessed of the means to make good on their openly and repeatedly stated dream of “wiping Israel off the map”–would either provoke the Israelis into a preemptive nuclear strike or try to beat them to the punch with a preemptive nuclear strike of its own. Either way, the casualties and the destruction would reach unimaginable heights.

Our position was summed up in the slogan “the only thing worse than bombing Iran is letting Iran get the bomb.” And to those like President Obama who charged us with warmongering, our response was that the choice was not between a negotiated settlement and war. It was between a conventional war now and a nuclear war later.

As for the Obama deal, if its purpose were really to prevent the Iranians from getting the bomb, it would be a total failure, if only because it leaves their nuclear infrastructure intact and gives them plenty of room to cheat. But judging by deeds rather than words, it is reasonable to conclude that what Obama is trying to do is not to keep Iran from getting the bomb but to further his quest for a detente, or even a de facto alliance, with Iran. Already we see the foreshadowing of such an alliance in his willingness to cooperate with the Iranians in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and his reluctance to take any steps in the Middle East (against their ally Syria, for example) that might displease them.

At this point, the slogan that best applies comes from Winston Churchill’s devastating comment on Neville Chamberlain’s pact with Hitler at Munich in 1938: “You were given a choice between dishonor and war. You have chosen dishonor and now you will get war”–and this time a nuclear war at that. Unless, that is, the Israelis were to choose conventional war now over nuclear war later. My guess is that they will, but it is just as likely that Obama, despite his repeated assurances that he “has Israel’s back,” will stop them by threatening to withhold the diplomatic support and the resupply of lost weaponry they would need. In that case God help us all.