Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

So far, no response from the operations manager.
The little jerk could have at least written back and said no.
He hasn’t even come to say anything about it.
Man, if all you have to do to be an operations manager around here is spout crap, I could do that in my sleep.
I’m so tired of the people around here.
Today’s not going to be very nice.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

I wanted to get to this before I get to work, someone pisses me off, and I forget again.
So, here it is.
This week’s open trackback post.
Link to this post, and send a trackback to the same, to enjoy some free publicity.
If your blogging platform doesn’t support trackbacks, use the Wizbang Standalone Trackback Pinger to get the job done.
The Linkfest Haven is a good place to find more blogs that will showcase your work.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

By Helen Eliassian
 
Generations of Jews have protected the holy site. Will the Iranians continue to do so? Women of all religious
backgrounds visit the site to pray for children, bringing colorful curtains and cloths to place on the tombs and to
donate to an adjacent prayer room.

Though the holiday of Purim is celebrated by Jews worldwide, the story, based as it is in Persia, has special
resonance for the Jews of Iran. Recent decades have proved difficult for Persian Jews, many of whom fled the
country after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. From a community of about 100,000, an estimated 25,000 to 35,000
now remain.
 
This month, Jews from across Iran will pray at a shrine in Hamadan, in northwestern
Iran, dedicated to the heroes of the Purim story. They will likely be met upon arrival by
Muslims and Christians, who pray year-round at the unusual shrine. The building
follows the architecture of emamzadeh (”Islamic shrine”), but has walls adorned with
Hebrew inscriptions describing Esther and Mordechai’s origins. In fact, it might come
as a surprise to learn that the story of Purim has resonance for all Iranians.

Not only was Esther a Jewish queen, but, as the wife of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I),
she also continues to be revered as a Persian queen and, thus, an icon of national
Iranian history.

Though her original name, Hadassah, means “hidden” in Hebrew, she is known as
Esther. Scholar and writer Haideh Sahim explains that “Esther” is derived from the
Persian word astaar, meaning “star.” It is believed that Esther and Mordecai were
buried in the shrine at Hamadan, originally called Hegmataneh, in the fifth century
B.C.E.

According to one Persian legend, the resting place and its surrounding land served
as a refuge for Iranians during the Arab conquest of Persia in 621 C.E. As the story
goes, when the Arabs began to conquer the city of Hegmataneh, the people of Iran
came to the gravesite so that the spirit of Esther and Mordechai would protect them.
A monument – the exact date of origin has been disputed, ranging from the 13th to
the 17th century – has been built over the tombs, and both Jewish and non-Jewish
Iranians now believe that the site is holy and cannot be destroyed.
  
For generations, the Jews of Hamadan safeguarded the tomb and the customs of the holiday of Purim. Touba Somekh, a woman who
was instrumental in bringing about the restoration of the site in the 1920s, explained in an interview in 1998, four years before her death,
how the Jews were able to continue maintenance of the tombs.

Somekh used to be an active member of a small women’s group in Hamadan, progressive for its time, named Hadassah, after Esther.
The women would recite Psalms, talk about the news of the day and study together.

Around 1925, Somekh learned that the city government planned to build a wall around the tomb and to take it over, unless the local hebra,
or Jewish organization, could accomplish such a task. Though she was only 15 – and already the mother of two – Somekh immediately
thought of Hadassah’s monetary savings of 300 toman (a significant sum for the day) and boldly declared to her brother-in-law that the
women’s committee had the means to safeguard the shrine. The next day, her brother-in-law informed the members of the hebra of this.

“I began to sweat under the chador,” Somekh remembered. “I was a young girl who had declared something and was now being taken
seriously. What was going to happen?” The women’s committee was indeed able to provide the initial funding for the restoration and
expansion needed at the time.

These days, the shrine – and the holiday in general – is of particular importance to women. Women of all religious backgrounds visit the
site to pray for children, bringing colorful curtains and cloths to place on the tombs and to donate to an adjacent prayer room. It is believed
that a cloth coming into contact with the shrine will be blessed. A person in monetary or spiritual need would then take some raw cloth
and make from it articles of clothing.

Of the Jews left in Iran, only four or five families live in Hamadan, leaving some with fears about the future of the shrine. According to
Houman Sarshar, editor of “Esther’s Children: A Portrait of Iranian Jews,” “To my knowledge, the issue was never one of custody. The
caretaker now is not Jewish. The synagogue attached to the sight is the only functioning one in Hamadan.”

Some believe it is the spirit of Esther and Mordechai that will live on and protect the Jews of Iran, extending a legacy of 2,500 years.
Others, including Sahim, wonder, “Who will take care of our Esther?”

source: Haaretz Daily
 

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

It’s time for this week’s link showcase, better known as the Open Trackback post.
Just send a trackback to the trackback URL, and link to the post as well, and your links will show up after this post.
Enjoy, and hope you find it useful.

Linkfest Haven is also hosting other trackback posts.
So are TMH’s Bacon Bits, Quietly Making Noise, and

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

by Rabbi Yehonatan Chipman

“When Adar enters, joy increases.” The month of Adar is best known for the festival of Purim, which falls in mid-month. A day of total celebration, even
hilarity—but not really a festival day in the formal sense; as the old Yiddish saying has it, “cholera is not an illness, and Purim is not a Yom Tov.”
It is utterly lacking in the halakhic aspects of the Torah- prescribed festivals such as Rosh Hashanah or Pesah: no restrictions on labor, no Hallel,
no Musaf… It is the quintessential weekday; a secular celebration or, as the Hasidic books constantly reiterate, a celebration of the Divine within
the secular.

A well-known aggadah (Shabbat 88a) states that, at Sinai, God “held the mountain over them like a barrel,” telling the Israelites that if they didn’t accept
the Torah, “here shall be your burial place.” Not much of a choice! Torah imposed by compulsion. Today some people would no doubt call it a form of
spiritual rape. A heteronomous ethics based, not on free choice or the training of the inner moral conscience, but of an external law, with which all-too-fallible
man must conform. As we have noted many times over the years—it is this concept more than anything else that rankles with many contemporary Jews. (Albeit
now we are in post-modernity—but isn’t the “post-modern” consciousness, the new quest for “spirituality,” if anything more individualistic, more antithetical
to such thinking, than the “modern”?)

Our aggadah goes on to say that, “later, they again accepted it in the days of Ahasuerus”—this time voluntarily. Purim is thus the festival when we say,
as it were, “It is good to be a Jew!” Carrying this idea one step further, a central motif in Hasidic homiletics sees Adar generally as a time of accepting
Torah, and of doing teshuvah, “out of love.” Adar is thus as a kind of counterpoint to Elul: the latter being a time devoted to repentance based on fear—fear
of punishment, of the verdict of the Divine judge and, on a more sublime level, feelings of awe and being overwhelmed by the terrifying, uncanny, “Wholly
Other” nature of the Divine.

But there is another side to Adar, that also relates to love. The bulk of Torah readings for this month focus upon the construction of the sanctuary.
From the opening words of Parshat Terumah, with which the month usually opens, the Torah takes an abrupt turn. From the very beginning of Bereshit through
Mishpatim, with the exception of two or three odd chapters of civil legislation in the latter, the Torah is one long narrative. It tells the story of
real human beings—from the origins or prehistory of mankind, through the family saga of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the twelve brothers, down to the drama
of the clan-become-nation, enslaved, freed, and brought through the desert to Sinai—throughout, a story with protagonists, action, and numerous conversations
between man and God.

Suddenly, we read chapter after chapter detailing the construction of a building set aside for religious worship, for a “dwelling place” for the Divine.
We occupy ourselves with precious metals, rich fabrics, complex craftsmanship, elaborate priestly raiment. From a God in shirtsleeves, so to speak, we
turn to a God of pomp and ceremony, clothed in crimson and purple robes.

And yet, in a strange way, is not this also an expression of love? Was not Bezalel’s task a labor of love? If God, after all, is transcendent, as He whom
“no man can see and live” (Exod 33:20: a phrase from one of this month’s parshiyot!), whom Isaiah saw “seated on a high and lofty throne, and the hems
of his robes filled the Temple”—If He is all that, then it makes sense that He can only be approached through the solemn ritual of “the silent sanctuary,”
in Knohl’s apt phrase; through elaborate, carefully choreographed service. But that ritual itself (at least at its best) is meant to serve as an instrument
for the burning passion of love, for “the fire that always burns on the altar.”

But an interesting thought: in the middle of all this solemnity, this rather “Yekkishe,” disciplined piety and religious action, there is an irruption
of chaos. In the midst of the account of the stately, solemn process of constructing the sanctuary, we read Ki Tisa, the sin of the Golden Calf. Perhaps—and
this is no more than a tentative, rather wild thought—this story may be read as a kind of protest against the making of the Tabernacle. After all, the
making of the Tabernacle represents the channeling of what had hitherto been free and loose and spontaneous and even ecstatic—“They beheld God, and they
ate and drank” (Exod 24:11)—into pomp and circumstance and formal structuring. In this reading, the making of the Calf is a kind of anarchistic, bohemian
rebellion against hierarchical formalism—a la Kotzk, Buber, or the ‘60s hippies. If this is so, then in the famous debate between Rashi and Ramban as
to whether or not there is a necessary chronological sequence to what we are told by the Torah (yesh mukdam ume’uhar ba-Torah / ein mukdam ume’uhar ba-Torah),
then there is a profound logic to the placing of the making of the Calf narrative smack in the middle between Terumah-Tetzaveh, the instruction for making
the Tabernacle, and Vayakhel-Pekudei, its execution.

But then Adar has a second irruption of chaos—Purim itself. Purim is the Festival of Chaos par excellence within the orderly, disciplined rhythm of Jewish
life. Certainly, the manner of its celebration is chaotic: drinking to excess, wearing disguises, symbolically casting off one’s social identity and
role, saying “Purim Torah,” in which we mock all that which is taken with such deadly seriousness all year long.

But there is something chaotic about Purim on a deeper level. It is a day when we let into the liturgy the sense of chaos, of chance, of the random, or
seemingly random, way things happen in history. The story, considered in secular terms, outside of the sacred aura of the synagogue, is scandalous: a
nice Jewish girl essentially prostitutes herself to gain entry to and influence with a stupid but powerful monarch who has a known track record for liking
wine, women and partying; she uses her feminine charms to cajole, seduce, persuade him to act on behalf of her people. The contrast between the “real
life,” the world of realpolitik, and the symbolic, ceremonial sphere, is blatant. Purim is the time when we celebrate God’s presence in the mundane—not
through overt miracles, but in all the sordid reality of the mundane.

As for Purim as joy, as love, as laughter: Consider the overt meaning of Purim: together with the end of Scripture, the end of prophecy, the end of overt
miracles, it is also the beginning of anti-Semitism. And, unlike the imperialistic conquerors like Nebuchadnezzar or the local kings who made trouble
during the days of the judges and the kings, who attacked Israel for practical gain, Haman was a Jew-hater, plain and simple. “There is a certain nation
whose laws and ways are different from every other people.”

There is something chaotic about Anti-Semitism itself. All the theories of sociological, historical causality seem to fall short in attempting to explain
it—or they offer too many different and contradictory theories, which amounts to the same thing. “The Jews are communists, the Jews are capitalists;
the Jews are rootless cosmopolitans, the Jews are clannish and provincial; the Jews assimilate and have no pride in their own culture, the Jews refuse
to assimilate, but dress funny, talk funny, eat funny, and insist on observing all these peculiar rituals; the Jews are atheists, the Jews are religious
fanatics; the Jews killed Christ, the Jews invented Christianity; the Jews are hyper-sexual studs who go around seducing Christian girls, the Jews are
prigs who teach a stern, forbidding morality filled with ‘don’t’s ….” And so on and so forth. And we Jews, for our part, too often say: if we were
only nicer, if we would only do the right thing by them, if we would only end racism, sexism, globalism, if we would only stop the poverty and ignorance
of the Arab world—then they will stop preaching hate and violence, and the world will be filled with human kindness, brotherhood and love. But is it so?
My erstwhile friends from the aging New Left are still trying to understand Islamic radicalism in Neo-Marxist terms, talking about backwardness, economic
exploitation, Fanonian ressentiment, etc.—but it’s all somehow too facile and simplistic, denying the power of religion and identity as forces in the world.
No, we live in an age of folly, and the planet earth seems one giant ship of fools, etc. Oy, do we need a Purimdik yeshu’ah.

To return to the upbeat message of Adar as a month of “teshuvah out of love”: it may sound simpler and more positive than teshuvah out of fear—but is it
really so? Serving God out of fear requires external conformity, watching one’s actions, but it has the advantage that one remains free inside, so to
speak, to feel whatever one feels. “Think what you wish, but do as you are told.” But service out of love is something quite different; it demands one’s
“kishkes,” one’s innermost self. A person has to really love God (whatever that means, deep down), long for Him, be prepared to “do the truth because
it is the truth,” as Rambam puts it, without expectation of reward—consistently, day in and day out, when life is in the pits, as an individual and as
part of a collectivity, even when history itself seems hopeless.

Adar is about the tension between these two moments: of orderly, fixed service of God through the mitzvot—in our case, the pattern of prayer and Torah
that somehow replace the service of the priest in the Temple; and the spontaneous outpouring of joy and love within the chaotic, crazy world of seemingly
chance and wild events.

Two short ideas to conclude: our friend Elana Friedman pointed out that the Hebrew letter that exemplifies the month of Adar is kof, which can stand for
either Kodesh—holy, or Kof—monkey. On Purim, when we let go of the tight control we ordinarily impose on ourselves, and the spirits flow generously, that
which emerges can either be the inner holiness of the soul, the spark of the Divine within us—or a monkey.

Secondly: the Zodaic sign for Adar is Pisces—fish. Why fish? In many places, the Bible divides God’s Creation into three realms: the heavens, the earth,
and “the seas and all that is therein.” Pisces is almost the only month whose symbol belongs to the watery depths. The world beneath the surface of the
water, in the depths of the seas, is almost as mysterious and unknown to us as the distant stars. Perhaps these denizens of the deep represent the unknown,
the unseen, concealed element in life—like the unconscious self that comes to the surface when we drink too much—as on Purim.

We shall have more to say on Purim consciousness, viz. the unity and rulership of God, a bit later.

Postscripts and supplements to follow. For teachings on the parshat hashavua from previous years, see my blog at:
hitzeiyehonatan.blogspot.com/.

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

The Hamas-Russia Connection
By Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 10, 2006

annotated article on
www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=21560

Russia’s determination to undermine the U.S. policy in the Middle East may
well weaken U.S. power. But opposing punitive sanctions for Iran at the U.N.
and endorsing HAMAS is likely to cost Russia dearly.
On March 8, 2006, after discussing the Iran crisis with U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
conveyed Russia’s objections to sanctioning Iran, while warning that “there
is no military solution to this crisis.” Instead, he welcomed the European
Union proposal to continue exploring diplomatic solutions with Iran, despite
years of European-led negotiations that merely allowed Tehran to continue to
develop its nuclear program. And nuclear weapons in Iran, are likely to pose
a grave danger to Russia; much graver than to the U.S.

In a similar move, after visiting the State Department, Lavrov said that the
HAMAS government should receive international funding because HAMAS chief
Khaled Mashaal had assured him that the money would “be spent in a
transparent manner.” And Like Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas before him,
Mashaal promised Lavrov to allow international monitors to ensure this.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Khaled Mashaal noted, “At the Russian
Foreign Ministry we felt that we were being understood.”

Mashaal went on to praise Russia for breaking “the blockade which Israel and
the United States have been trying to impose on us,” and added that his
visit to Russia “opened the door to the entire global community.”

HAMAS wants the international community to accept its goal to destroy
Israel, which Mashaal reiterated on March 6, 2006 on Al Jazeera and Al
Arabiya TV. “If they [Israel] want an all-out war – we are ready. If they
want peace – let them acknowledge the rights of the Palestinian people and
get out of our land.” The demand to turn HAMAS into a mere political party
is unrealistic, he said, elaborating on a February 13 Dream 2 TV interview,
in which HAMAS deputy head and designated terrorist Musa Abu Marzouq
explained the “phased” approach to seek “an independent Palestinian state
with full sovereignty over the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza,” while
unflinchingly insisting that “From the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean]
Sea belongs to the Palestinians …”

This is not only the HAMAS agenda; as evidenced by the large majority of
Palestinians that elected HAMAS, they too, identify with this terrorist
agenda. This should be reason enough for international leaders to avoid
contact with the HAMAS Palestinian Authority government, which can only
serve to legitimize this terror regime.

Russia, for now, is only talking with HAMAS, not funding the terrorist
organization. But its accommodating stance sends exactly the wrong signal to
other members of the international community, who are already opening their
checkbooks. On March 7, 2006, the World Bank granted $42 million to the
HAMAS-led PA. Lavrov expressed the apparent reasoning for the grant, in his
Washington D.C. press conference, the same day, saying that HAMAS would
“hopefully endorse the road map as drafted by the Quartet without any
reservations.” The World Bank grant followed $143 million in emergency aid
granted to the PA by the European Union on February 27, 2006. Clearly, the
international donor community is willing to be duped again by yet another
Palestinian leader.

Wasting no time, HAMAS on March 9, 2006, declared that Lavrov’s hopes are
utterly wrong. Hamas official Assad Farhat said that “Hamas rejects the
Roadmap Plan,” because it is a non-binding “American Zionist” plan. The
HAMAS spokesman reiterated, “After Israel announces she will withdraw to
pre-1967 boundaries, releases Palestinian prisoners, ceases attacks against
the Palestinian people, and agrees to the Palestinian right of return, only
them will Hamas enter into negotiations.”

The international grants should have been avoided not only because HAMAS is
a terrorist organization and proud of it, but because the exact same
promises made by Mashaal’s Palestinian predecessors helped to encourage and
spread terrorism. Those past promises facilitated the disappearance of more
than $10 billion in foreign aid into the coffers of corrupt Palestinian
officials and funded all Palestinian terrorist organizations. That much had
already been recognized even by the Palestinian people who voted HAMAS in,
in part, to clean up the PA’s corruption.

“The vast plunder of EU money by the Palestinian Authority has had much to
do with the electoral success of HAMAS, stated Dr. Charles Tannock, a member
of the European Parliament, on March 1, 2006. He added, “We would be
showing that we have learned absolutely nothing if we sent so much as a
penny to a Palestinian Authority led by HAMAS.”

Yet, it seems that the EU and the World Bank are competing with Iran to fund
the HAMAS led PA. Already, Iran has announced that “they would fulfill all
financial needs of the Palestinian Authority.” Thus, U.S. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice was correct to repeat, on March 9, 2006 at a Senate hearing
that “Iran is a central banker for terror.”

Meanwhile, HAMAS is busily preparing for war. A HAMAS official, identified
as Abu Huzeifa in an interview with Gaza City newspaper Dunia al-Watan,
revealed that since Israel left the Gaza Strip, HAMAS has built training
camps in all Palestinian cities. These camps are training new cadres of
Jihadists. The basic training lasts a month, followed by three more months
of advanced instructions in battle skills, endurance building, marksmanship,
missile launching, commando fighting, hand-to-hand combat, crawling under
fences and urban warfare.

The instructors are HAMAS members trained internationally, most likely in
Lebanon, Syria and Iran. According to Abu Hufeiza, the HAMAS military
production units are diligently developing new weapons, including rockets
and advanced explosives. He emphasized that the al-Kassam Brigades will
remain as HAMAS’ military arm and will continue its struggle to liberate all
Palestinian lands. According to the Dunia al-Watan reporter who accompanied
Abu-Hufeiza to these training camps, each camp occupies over five acres, and
accommodates dozens of trainees.

HAMAS coordinates its activities via an internal communications system known
as SENAO, which is also used to alert thousands of loyalists of Israeli Air
Force strikes. SENAO in addition conveys instructions on where and when to
attack Israelis. Abu Hufaiza ended by warning Israel that if it tries to
reconquer the Gaza Strip, it will face extraordinary resistance.

While HAMAS gets more organized and openly establishes itself in the
territories, the Fatah terrorist arm, Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, on March 1
also announced the start of a new military campaign against Israel: the
Ababil Campaign – named after the legendary birds that dropped stones on the
infidels. This new military campaign aims to launch 200 Kassam rockets at
Israeli towns along the border. This is the so-called “moderate” Fatah, led
by Mahmoud Abbas.

This is the same Abbas who allowed HAMAS to participate in the election in
the first place, without demanding that they disarm and renounce terrorism.
This is the Abbas who told al-Jazeera on March 2, “let us give it [HAMAS] a
chance,” and further offered that HAMAS should “proceed with any course or
program you want.” Moreover, Abbas agreed to transfer all the Palestinian
security forces, excepting one intelligence unit, to HAMAS.

Even if international money supported only civilian and humanitarian
projects, it would be equivalent to giving money to North Korea for
humanitarian purposes – every dollar frees another to spend on its nuclear
project.

Moreover, supporting the HAMAS led PA is also the same as supporting Al
Qaeda. According to Dore Gold, al Qaeda “operations chief Abu Zubaydah
entered the world of terrorism through HAMAS. And according to a 2004 FBI
affidavit, al Qaeda recruited HAMAS members to conduct surveillance against
potential targets in the United States.”

Russia should know better since it suffers obvious susceptibility to
domestic and international Islamic terrorism. Chechen terrorists have since
1991 committed more than 240 terror attacks, killing and wounding thousands
of innocent Russian victims. Traditionally, Russia has quite understandably
taken a hard-line stance against Chechen Islamic terror, presumably thanks
partly to proven Chechen links and ideological affinity to Al Qaeda, and
HAMAS. The Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the
Center for Special Studies revealed last month, that HAMAS supports the
Chechen rebels in their battle for independence against the Russian regime
and considers them part of the global Jihad.

All those factors make Russia’s current HAMAS and Iran policies simply
incomprehensible. It is difficult to understand why Russia would now
simultaneously give succor to HAMAS terrorists and Iran’s thuggish
nuclear-club hopefuls. While Russia attempts to weaken U.S. influence in the
region, doubtless these decisions will come back to bite Moscow sooner
rather than later.

——————————————–
IMRA – Independent Media Review and Analysis
Website: www.imra.org.il

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

IMRA: When Acting PM Ehud Olmert presented his proposal to carry out a
massive retreat from the West Bank following the Gaza retreat model in which
the IDF no longer is present in the area (Kadima candidate Avi Dichter
erroneously claimed earlier this week that Kadima would remove Jewish
communities but continue the IDF presence) in interviews published in the
Israeli papers this weekend, the reporters asked him about the efficacy of
such a plan given the Qassam attacks now hitting Israel since the retreat
from Gaza.

Olmert replied that the problem of Qassam attacks had been addressed by the
IDF “these last days” and was no longer a problem.

1. Qassam rocket lands in south
Shmulik Hadad – YNET 03/11/2006 20:02
www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/CdaNewsFlash/0,2297,L-3226440_3089,00.html

A Qassam rocket has landed between Kibbutz Carmia and Zikim. Security
officials say that the rocket landed in open territory, and there are no
reports of injuries or damage.

Earlier, a 13 year-old girl was treated for shock after a rocket landed
south of Sderot.

2. Teenager suffers shock after Qassam lands south of Sderot

Tova Dadon and Hanan Greenberg – YNET 11 March 2006 18:45
www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/CdaNewsFlash/0,2297,L-3226429_3089,00.html

Magen David Adom paramedics treated a 13 year-old girl who suffered shock
after a Qassam rocket fell in open territory in the Kibbutz Gabim area,
south of Sderot.
The rocket was fired from northern Gaza.

3. 4 Qassams hit Israel

Palestinians fire 4 Qassam rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip; No
injuries reported and no damage caused
Hanan Greenberg YNET 03.10.06, 21:37
www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3226282,00.html

Four Kassam rockets were fired at Israel on Friday, causing no injuries and
no damage.

Two rockets fired from the northern Gaza Strip landed in two communities
south of Ashkelon.

On Friday afternoon, Palestinian policemen defused two Kassams found in a
launch pad in the northern Strip.

Earlier Friday, the IDF’s Red Dawn alert system identified two rockets fired
at Sderot. The rockets exploded in an open field north of the city, IDF
officials said.

The IDF said its latest offensive of firing artillery rounds, targeted
assassinations and aerial strikes at active cells, dealt a severe blow to
terror groups and lead to a decrease in the number of Qassams fired from the
Gaza Strip.

Security officials have decided to impose a full closure on Palestinian
areas starting Saturday night. The curfew will remain in place until
Wednesday.

The decision to impose the curfew ahead of the upcoming Purim holiday was
taken during the weekly situation assessment undertaken Friday morning.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz instructed the IDF and defense establishment to
undertake the utmost effort – including the cancellation of training
sessions and leaves if necessary – to thwart terror attacks ahead of the
Purim holiday and upcoming elections.

()

——————————————–
IMRA – Independent Media Review and Analysis
Website: www.imra.org.il

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Elite units reportedly preparing for activation against Israel ‘when needed’
Posted: March 9, 2006 1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein WND’S JERUSALEM BUREAU
www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49172

JERUSALEM – There have been some indications elite Iranian soldiers
infiltrated Israel and established dormant cells in the West Bank to be
activated by Iran at a later date, security officials told WND.

Israeli and Palestinian security services have searched in the West Bank for
the soldiers, who are thought to be members of the Al-Quds Forces, the
extraterritorial operations unit of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards,
security officials said.

The Iranian agents may have infiltrated as long as three years ago with
instructions to set up inactive cells in the West Bank that would become
operational later, said the officials, adding they do not suspect the agents
are regularly involved in current terror activity or in channeling Iranian
funds to Palestinian terror groups.

“Their purpose would be to create an infrastructure for the day they are
called to act against Israel,” said a senior security official.
The official said information obtained pointed to the Hebron area as a
possible location for the alleged Iranian cells, though he said to date no
suspected Iranian soldiers have been found.

Although Tehran has long financed Palestinian terror organizations, the
infiltration of Iranian soldiers into Israel would mark a significant
escalation of Tehran’s presence in the Palestinian territories.

Israel and the United States have been working with the international
community to isolate Iran, accusing it of attempting to develop an illicit
nuclear weapons program.

There have previously been unconfirmed media reports elite Iranian soldiers,
reportedly members of the Pasdaran, a Revolutionary
Guards rocket unit, took positions at Hezbollah bases in southern Lebanon
close to Israel’s northern border.

Israel says Iran uses the Hezbollah militia as a conduit to channel funds to
Palestinian terror groups, including Islamic Jihad, which took
responsibility for every suicide bombing since several Palestinian groups
agreed to a truce with Israel last year.

This week, WND broke the story a West Bank Islamic Jihad operative opened
what he referred to as an “Iranian ideological embassy” in the Palestinian
territories to espouse Shia Muslim beliefs – including Islam’s waging of a
final, apocalyptic battle against “evil” – and to help spread Iranian
theocracy and rule throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“We want the Palestinian people to be exposed to the Iranian heritage and
Shia principles. [Our goal is] to reinforce the relations between the
Islamic republic of Iran and the Palestinian people. We are part of the
Iranian Islamic project in the Middle East,” Muhamad Gawanmeh, director of
Iran’s new Shia Council in Palestine, said in an interview.

Gawanmeh opened the council’s headquarters in Ramallah, and said there are
plans to expand Iranian offices to several other major Palestinian cities in
the West Bank and Gaza with official sanctioning from Tehran.

The council, which recently also opened an office in Egypt, claims to
already have a membership of several thousand Palestinians.
Gawanmeh said Iran’s Shia Council will not be involved in “military
operations,” but will promote Iranian theocracy to the local population and
serve as a conduit for Tehran’s interests in the area.

“We want the council to be a gate for the Palestinian people to receive the
help of Iran and the Shiate world. We already have large numbers of members
and supporters,” Gawanmed said.

He said the council seeks to espouse Shia Muslim ideology in the
Sunni-dominated Palestinian territories, including the belief in the return
of the Twelfth Imam to lead an apocalyptic world battle against “evil.”

Shia Muslims believe Muhammad’s family – the 12 Imams – were the best
sources of knowledge about the Quran and Islam and were the most trusted
carriers and protectors of Islamic tradition. They believe in a dynasty of
Islamic authorities and promote a hereditary class of spiritual leaders they
believe have divine powers.

Sunni Islam in part follows the teachings of Islamic caliphs who proclaimed
leadership after Muhammad’s passing but were not blood relatives of the
prophet. The caliphs interpreted important parts of Muhammad’s hadith – or
tradition – that Shias reject.

Sunni Muslims make up about 85 percent of Muslims all over the world. The
largest sect of the Shias, called The Twelvers, believe there were 12 imams
after Muhammad and that the last one, Imam Mahdi, still lives, but he cannot
be seen until Allah determines it is time to prepare the faithful for
Judgment Day.

The Twelvers count Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad among their
faithful. They believe Imam Mahdi will return to lead the forces of
righteousness against the forces of evil in a final, apocalyptic world
battle.

Some Mideast analysts fear Ahmadinejad may be pursuing nuclear weapons in
part to precipitate the final, Mahdi-led battle. In a speech in Tehran in
November, Ahmadinejad reportedly said his main mission is to “pave the path
for the glorious reappearance of Imam Mahdi, may Allah hasten his
reappearance.” His Cabinet has reportedly given $17 million to the Jamkaran
mosque, site of a well at which Shia Muslims believe Mahdi disappeared over
a thousand years ago.

The council’s Gawanmeh went on to credit Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal’s
recent visit to Tehran with strengthening official Palestinian ties to the
Iranian leadership and emboldening Iran to sanction the opening of its new
Palestinian office.

“Now that Hamas was adopted by Iran, who announced a huge financial support
to Hamas and to the Palestinian people, and now that Hezbollah is facing a
Zionist-American conspiracy to disarm, we decided that this is the most
suitable moment to declare the foundation of our council in Palestine and to
start acting publicly,” Gawanmeh said.

Iran last week pledged financial support to Hamas to replace an expected
halt of European and U.S. aid to the new Palestinian government.

Media reports said Iran would give as much as $250 million to the PA, but
Hamas officials said no actual amount had been discussed.

Hamas chief Meshaal, in Tehran two weeks ago for a round of talks with
Iranian officials, said Iran would have an increased role with the PA.

——————————————–
IMRA – Independent Media Review and Analysis
Website: www.imra.org.il

Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

Honestly, I’m not sure what his deal is.
If he were really that ethical about it, then he would have quit sooner.
I love Southpark, because it slaughters every sacred cow there is, including my own.
He can’t cry fowl when it’s his turn.

Isaac Hayes announced yesterday that he was quitting Comedy Central’s hit animated show after being the voice of Chef for its first nine seasons.

“There is a place in the world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins,”
Hayes said. “As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices.”

Hayes had defended the show in the past for offending just about everybody.

“This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology,” show co-creator, Matt Stone, told the Associated Press. “He has no problem – and he’s
cashed plenty of checks – with our show making fun of Christians.”

Last season, Stone and Trey Parker poked fun at Scientology and Tom Cruise in the episode, “Trapped in the Closet,” which re-airs at 10 p.m. tomorrow.

Hayes didn’t like the episode.

“But I understand what they’re doing. I told them to take a couple of Scientology courses, and understand what we do,” Hayes said in a January interview
with The Onion.

Stone and Parker also have run afoul of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. The Catholic League applauded Hayes.

“We’re pleased to see somebdoy so ethically minded, taking a stand, and sacrificing his job for something he believes,” said League spokeswoman Kiera
McCaffrey.

Stone and Parker appear tomorrow on “Late Night with David Letterman.” The 10th season of “South Park” debuts next week.

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Originally published at customerservant.com. You can comment here or there.

This really sucks.
I still have overhalf the day left.
Nothing new has happened.
I’ve brought some books to read, and I’ll probably read for a little while.
This has gotten completely ridiculous.
I’m starting to wonder if there’s ever going to be an end to it all.
It’s been over three months now, and still no changes.
Am I going to be condemned to coming in here every day and just sitting around for as long as I’m here?
Last week, when I asked Mr. Frodo about the admin position again, he asked about my ability to go and pick up things from the store if needed.
I still haven’t been able to get in touch with the other blind employee.
Every email address I’ve managed to dig up has failed.
John’s apparently lost several members of the support team within the last couple of days.
One is an in-team trainer, one got fired for reasons I won’t mention on this blog for fear of one of the corporate pinheads seeing this and my geting fired for speaking out as a result.
And the final losses were promoted to supervisor positions on the new project.
Other than that, nothing special, except the New Blog Showcase.
This week, however, it’ll be a little different.
I’m combining it with this week’s Open Trackback post, which means that only blogs three months old or younger should trackback.
If your blogging platform doesn’t support trackbacks, you can use the Wizbang Standalone Trackback Pinger.
There will be another OTBP on Thursday, as usual.
You’ll also want to check with Random Yak, as that’s the next stop for the Blog Showcase.
Confession: I really don’t have the hang of this.
But that should be clean enough for True Confessions Day.