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

Aaron Lerner Date: 2 July 2006

Unless COS Halutz, DM Peretz, PM Olmert and the rest of the team are engaged
in a perfectly choreographed operation to trick the Palestinians into
dropping their guard it would appear that instead the team is preparing the
Israeli public for a prisoner exchange with the Qassams continuing to rain
down until one manages to kill enough people that action might be taken – or
not.

No. Israel won’t trade Palestinian prisoners in return for Gilad Shalit.
But what if a week or two after Shalit’s return Israel should decide – in a
move to bolster Mahmoud Abbas’ status – to release hundred of prisoners with
this having absolutely nothing to do with the return of Shalit? (wink
wink).

That’s the plan that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has been trying to
work out. And Israel is praising him for his efforts. The catch appears to
be that Hamas doesn’t want to rely on Mubarak’s guaranty that Israel with
fill their side of the bargain.

With COS Halutz saying that IDF operations alone can’t free Shalit, DM
Peretz explaining that there is no “magic solution” to fighting terror and
the assessment carefully leaked from the meeting of the Olmert Government
that the whole mess could take months to resolve, Israel sends a clear
message to Hamas that it is, indeed, preparing the public to accept a
prisoner exchange – subject of course to it being carried out under a
face-saving label.

Yes, DM Peretz fired off yet another 3 ton warning – saying that Israel
considers all the Hamas leadership to be fair game. But with Israel Air
Force chief Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedy proudly explaining that even a
terrorist about to fire a Qassam won’t be stopped if he holds his son’s hand
while he launches the rocket, the Hamas leadership hardly has a reason to
fear as long as they keep a child or two within arm’s reach.

How did this happen? How did Israel lose its momentum?

It isn’t just that PM Olmert and DM Peretz are no longer able to procreate.

Part of the problem is that Olmert, Peretz and many of the professionals
involved in handling the situation genuinely believe that retreat to the ‘67
border would herald an era of peace and tranquility. The problem isn’t the
Arabs but instead the Israeli public that must be taught, step-by-step, that
all alternatives to full retreat are futile.

Yes, Hamas says they won’t accept such an Israeli retreat. Yes, the
National Conciliation Document makes it clear that both Fatah and Hamas
insist on destroying Israel via the exercise of the right of return. But
the retreat to the ‘67 border crowd is convinced that they know better than
the Arabs. Even if the retreat initially promises only a few months of
quiet, they argue, the Palestinians will be overwhelmed with joy with their
new situation during the lull and abandon their demands as they channel all
their energies into building the new Palestinian state.

Or so the argument goes.

Given that the team is ambivalent about the importance of an Israeli victory
in this episode, they then readily embrace the favorite excuse for a lack of
intestinal fortitude: fear of sanctions.

The spinners in the Olmert team set up this situation by first making it
known that Israel can only act if Uncle Sam gives the nod, thus making it
clear to Washington that it should pressure the Jewish State not to act
decisively as the White House may find itself sharing the blame in Arab eyes
.

It was then only a matter of time before the fear of UN sanctions would be
raised by those in the know to justify inaction.

But does Israel really risk sanctions any more than it did when it carried
out Operation Defensive Shield (which included a media circus over the Jenin
“massacre”)?

With elections coming up in November would the Bush administration really
not impose a veto at the UN if Israel took the kind of decisive action that
many Americans are frankly puzzled Israel isn’t carrying out already given
the circumstances?

No. It simply isn’t true that Israel needs to be able to show rows of
bodies shredded by a Qassam hit in order to “sell” decisive action to the
American public.

And if the Olmert team honestly feels that that is the case, then they are
in the wrong profession.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
INTERNET ADDRESS: imra@netvision.net.il
Website:

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

By Michael Freund The Jerusalem Post, July 2, 2006
www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1150885896185&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

A Web site run by the US State Department that is “designed to bring
international terrorists to justice” fails to identify the perpetrators of
suicide bombings and other attacks in Israel as Palestinians, The Jerusalem
Post has found.

The Rewards for Justice Web site (www.rewardsforjustice.net), is part of a
program administered by the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.

It offers rewards “for information that prevents, frustrates or favorably
resolves acts of international terrorism against US persons or property
worldwide” and gives details of terrorist attacks in which US citizens were
kidnapped, injured or killed.

While the site includes names, photographs and background information about
terrorists wanted for attacks in places such as the Philippines, Yemen and
Italy, it does not provide a single name, biographical detail or even
organizational affiliation for Palestinian terrorists involved in the murder
of Americans.

Instead, the site obliquely refers to them as “individuals and groups
opposed to Middle East peace negotiations” or as “terrorist individuals and
groups opposed to a negotiated peace.”

Since the the Oslo accords were signed in September 1993, dozens of American
citizens have been killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks. These include
three Americans murdered in the October 2003 assault on a US diplomatic
convoy in the Gaza Strip and five US citizens who died in the July 2002
Palestinian bombing at Hebrew University.

Asked to explain why the perpetrators are not identified as Palestinians,
even though Palestinian organizations often claim responsibility for
attacks, State Department spokeswoman Andrea Rogers-Harper said, “The United
States government will pursue the perpetrators of terror attacks against
Americans carried out by any group opposed to the peace process regardless
of their ethnicity.”

“Furthermore,” she told the Post via e-mail, “the reward offer applies to
information leading to the arrest or conviction of any terrorist responsible
for the attacks listed.”

Asked why people behind other terror attacks are identified on the site by
ethnic origin and organizational affiliation, Rogers-Harper said,
“Ethnicities are listed in the biographical details of certain suspects on
the site in the hopes that it could help potential informants identify the
suspects.”

However, she said, since “no biographical data is currently listed on the
Violence in Opposition to the Middle East Peace Negotiations Web page,” the
site makes “no mention of ethnicity” with regard to Palestinians.
As for the failure to list any individual Palestinian terror suspects on the
site, Rogers-Harper insisted this was because, “To date, no reward offer has
been issued with respect to specific individuals that may be wanted in
connection with the incidents listed on the Violence in Opposition to the
Middle East Peace Negotiations Web page.”

“In order for a specific individual to be listed on the site with a reward
offer,” she said, “the program must receive a written request from an agency
within the US government, usually an investigative agency with jurisdiction
over the incident.”

“The request is then put through a thorough interagency review process
before it is submitted for final approval within the Department of State,”
Rogers-Harper said.

Thus far, she said, no such rewards have been offered for information
leading to the capture of specific Palestinian terrorists wanted in
connection with the murder of Americans.

Nevertheless, Rogers-Harper said, “All cases in which Americans are victims
of terrorism are a high priority for the Rewards for Justice program and the
US government as a whole.”

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

By Heidi at Euphoric” title=”http://euphoricreality.com/2006/07/02/guard-the-borders-blogburst-2/”>Euphoric” target=”_blank”>euphoricreality.com/2006/07/02/guard-the-borders-blogburst-2/”>Euphoric Reality

Last year, I experienced a Fourth of July that I never want to repeat. I wrote about it, but at the time, I don’t think my experience registered on anyone’s radar. Here’s part of the description as I posted it last year:

…all day, I was looking forward to the famous Freedom Over Texas Celebration in Houston – one of the top 10 patriotic shows and fireworks displays in the country. I was determined to brave the crowds (which my husband and I typically loathe) with kiddos in tow, in order to enjoy the culminating holiday of our nation’s heritage. We drove an hour to downtown Houston, spent 20 minutes looking for parking, and finally stepped into the crowds to move toward the center of the Celebration.

Here is what I saw as I crossed Allen Parkway near Buffalo Bayou:

There were NO 4th of July decorations – NONE. No red, white, and blue – anywhere.
There were no American flags.
No one was dressed in red, white, and blue except me and my kids.
There were no patriotic songs.
There was no indication of patriotic pride or nationalism in any way…

No one – not one person around us – spoke English.
The music that was blasting through the loudspeakers was Mexican mariachi or some such.
Home made pig skins were sold in baggies – and screeching kids in dirty clothes were hawking water bottles out of grubby coolers.
I saw more green Mexican flags and paraphernalia than anything American-themed.

What is this – Houston, Mexico?! Had I mistakenly ended up in some grungy street carnival in Little Mexico, instead of one of the “Top 10 Patriotic Celebrations in the Country”?! I knew that there was supposed to be military equipment displays somewhere in the center (which I was making a bee-line for), along with stages for Clint Black and LeAnn Rimes. I’m not a country-western aficionado, but I knew that I could most likely expect a moving patriotic song or two. As the crowds surged toward the Freedom Celebration, my family and I lagged more and more behind. Hot, sweaty, and rudely jostled in the rowdy crowd – I grew more and more angry. Looking around, I realized that no one seemed to be there to celebrate the 4th of July. It seemed like any generic public fiesta – just one more reason to party. I stopped walking and finally acknowledged the fact that whatever ‘celebracion’ was going on around us had nothing to do with America. I was far beyond disappointed…I was furious.

We left.

I took a lot of heat in the comments from people who objected to the fact that I objected to a Mexican-themed Fourth of July. But others wrote in comments and via email that they had seen and experienced a similar hi-jacking of our national holiday; they seemed more bewildered than furious. “How did this happen? When did this happen?!” There was no real public indignation.

Fast forward to 2006. This year, the in-your-face waving of the Mexican flag will have much more significance considering the politically-charged events of the past year. In a year that has seen illegal aliens gleefully desecrate Old Glory, and raise the Mexican flag over our own, such an offensive display is guaranteed to raise the ire of red-blooded Americans. After a year’s worth of heavy-handed demands for the rights and privileges of full citizenship, illegal aliens and AINOs (Americans In Name Only) may feel emboldened to wave the Mexican flag during our Independence Day celebrations – just as they did last year with no public outcry.

I, for one, won’t leave a 4th of July celebration like I did last year – furious but silent. I will say something to anyone who flaunts a foreign flag during our Independence Day. I want them to know it’s inappropriate, deliberately incendiary, and offensive to people who deeply love this country and our valiant flag. This year, I have a feeling I won’t be standing alone.


DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN IN YOUR TOWN!

upsidedown.jpg

_________________________________

This has been a production of the Guard the Borders Blogburst. It was started by ” title=”http://euphoricreality.net/”>” target=”_blank”>euphoricreality.net/”>
Euphoric Reality, and serves to keep immigration issues in the forefront of our minds as we’re going about our daily lives and continuing to fight the
War on Terror. If you are concerned with the trend of illegal immigration facing our country, join our Blogburst! Just send an email with your blog name
and url to euphoricrealitynet at gmail dot com.

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

by Barry Freundel

Learning to put down your work and demonstrate that your relationship with God is simply more important.

My father, of blessed memory, though an observant man, was not the most knowledgeable in terms of Jewish sources. Nevertheless, he found many important
ways to express his belief in God and in Judaism. Most prominent among them was his dedication to prayer.

Professionally he was a traveling salesman, selling plumbing and heating supplies throughout New Jersey. I remember him getting up at four o’clock in the
morning so that he could leave our home in Brooklyn and make it to services in a synagogue somewhere near a building site that was the location of his
first appointment for the day. He could easily have gotten up at six or seven and prayed at home, but for him it was necessary to attend synagogue services
as often as humanly possible.

Even in his seventies, my father would walk the eight blocks to the synagogue in rain and snow on the premise that “perhaps some old man won’t show up and
we won’t get a minyan.” In that regard, he was not so much unique as he was a member of a generation for whom prayer was far more essential than it is
for us today.

Our generation expresses its religiosity in dialogue. Study, analysis, lectures, reading, commentary, debate: these are the stock in trade of our religious
experiences. For his generation, prayer was much more essential.

One dramatic indicator of the generational change: over the years, my father went to synagogue half an hour before the regular time for services. He did
this to recite psalms with the other members of the congregation. My synagogue has recently begun an early morning activity some 45 minutes before services,
but in our case, it is the study of Talmud, not the recitation of additional prayers, that brings people together at the crack of dawn. There are many
reasons for the decline of prayer as the central mode of expression of our religious identity, but I want to focus on only one of them in this discussion.
I do so particularly because it is one that those who live in the modern era, with its emphasis on productivity and excessively long work-days, will recognize.

One of the truisms of prayer is that it is a non-expedient activity. By this I mean that praying as long and as intensely as one likes accomplishes nothing
practical, at least as far as is immediately obvious to the one involved in prayer. In essence, then, perhaps God will respond affirmatively to my prayer,
(1) perhaps not, (2) but at the time that I pray, any response is almost always unseen. Even over time it is rare to see a direct correlation between a
specific prayer and God’s response.(3) I can spend an hour and a half in the synagogue praying with all my heart, and at the end of that time, not one
thing has moved from my in-box to my out-box. Further, much of our liturgy consists of praise of God or thanks to Him,(4) not requests.

Proper prayer is a suspension of other activity and a diminishing of one’s focus on material things for the sake of the spiritual and connection with God.

We live in a world that very much measures all activities by their productivity. It may be professional productivity, it may be personal-satisfaction productivity,
it may be financial-gain productivity, but our standard of value is measured by what we have accomplished with the time we have spent. This is a uniquely
Western and materialistic view of the world and of the way we decide whether or not things are important.

Proper prayer cannot occur against this backdrop and this measuring rod. Proper prayer is a suspension of other activity and a diminishing of one’s focus
on material things for the sake of the spiritual and connection with God.

The Talmud says that of our three daily prayers, the one that may be most effective in gaining a response is Minhah, recited in the afternoon.(5) Minhah
is, in fact, an invention of the Jews.

Many societies pray early in the morning when they first wake up to thank God for having gotten them through the dangers of the dark and of sleep. For us,
this is the prayer that we call Shaharit.

So, too, many cultures pray at night as protection against these dangers. For us this is Ma’ariv.

But Judaism invented the idea of midday prayer, or Minhah. When one prays in the middle of the day, one is required to put down one’s work and say that
one’s relationship with God is simply more important.

This is a spiritual, anti-materialistic stance. It is also anti-expedient. It is no wonder then that the Talmud suggests that this is a prayer that may
be well responded to by God.

For those who wish to develop the capacity to pray and to create a relationship with God through the act of speaking to Him, it is this mindset which must
be developed. Prayer means the cessation of worldly activities. It requires the realization that they are in so many ways less important than more spiritual
things. It demands the ability to focus elsewhere than only on the most immediate and most expedient.

The rewards are the act itself. In the sense and to the extent that I feel that I do not have to be a slave to my work and to my worldly pursuits, I have
had an experience of empowerment and freedom that most moderns never encounter. Sadly, those who cannot experience this freedom are lacking something important
in their lives.

I am not talking here about down-time or vacation-time. I’m talking about something that goes far beyond that. For us, down-time and vacation-time tend
to mean filling our days with other types of expedient activities that are different in behavioral content from our professional activities, but that are
not different in spiritual content. The individual who, having some brief time alone in his automobile, cannot drive without the sound of the radio or
the CD player, the individual who, on vacation, over-programs every minute with golf or tours, has not achieved the transcendence of the physical implicit
in the non-expedient prayer experience.

For most of us, the constant need to surround ourselves with stimulation and input means that we do not allow ourselves this transcendent state of being.
Hopefully, more people will try the non-expedient prayer experience and learn to put aside all the small concerns that torment us and fill our days, minute
by minute, so that a more spiritual connection with our existence can be made. It does not matter whether one is Jewish or not, observant or not, religiously
connected or not. If one utters a truly heartfelt prayer, the closeness to God is real. This is explicitly stated in the Book of Psalms (6) and is recited
three times a day as par of our prayers.(7) Certainly, it is easier to pray properly when one worships frequently and is used to the experience of prayer,
but the possibility of real prayer exists for everyone at any and every moment.

For those who need a more expedient reason, I will close by telling the following story. Years ago, I worked in the garment center in Manhattan. My job
was the strenuous task of carrying goods and clothing through the hot city streets of the July and August when I worked that job. I was the only person
of the many whom I encountered in such a position who was wearing a kippah (skullcap).

One of the people I often spoke to in my work was a fellow who sold zippers. I would be sent to him whenever the order for 5,000 zippers for the 5,000 dresses
being made by my company showed up two or three zippers short. In fact, this happened almost every day, which is itself a sad commentary on the business
ethics of some zipper manufacturers of that time. Inevitably, I would make my way to this fellow’s shop to make up the shortfall.

The owner was Jewish, and noticed my head-covering. He told me that although he had never before been observant, when his father died, he began to go to
synagogue to recite Kaddish, the mourner’s prayer recited for one day short of 11 months after the death of a parent.(8) In that context, he had discovered
the experience of prayer. It was his belief that because he was now coming to work a little bit later each day and taking some time off in the middle of
the day to pray, his stress level had gone down. As a result, his ulcers had gone away and he was much calmer and nicer in his interactions with people.
Although he was making a little less money than he had previously made, he was saving that money and more in reduced medical costs.

Some would say that I have now provided a purely expedient reason to pray. But I would say that all I have done is indicate that living a more spiritual
lifestyle and finding some time where one is able to see beyond the petty burdens of one’s day-to-day existence, is by its very nature a healthier way
to function.

There are those who may need to hear about this physical manifestation of improved health in order to be motivated to give prayer a try, while others will
understand that the very spirituality of the experience is why it promotes health. The well-being that prayer brings is not just physical health, but mental
and spiritual harmony as well.

An excerpt from
Contemporary Orthodox Judaism’s Response to Modernity, Ktav Publishing House

FOOTNOTES:

1. A classic example of a very brief but successful prayer can be found in Numbers 12:13 (see Rashi ad loc., s.v. refah nah) and Berakhot 34a. See also
Nachmanides, commentary to Exodus 33:7.

2. For an example of a prayer that received a negative response, see Deuteronomy 3:23-27.

3. We generally leave our prayers at the point described by the words from the Prayer for the New Month, recited on the Sabbath before the renewal of the
lunar cycle, that “the wishes of our hearts be fulfilled for happiness.” In other words, that god take our prayers and fulfill them in His way and in His
time. Philip Birnbaum, Daily Prayer Book (New York, 1949), p. 381.

4. All prayers are to begin with praise and end with thanks, Berakhot 34a. This is true of the Amidah, our central prayer, and it is also true of the general
structure of the morning prayers, which begin with verses of praise (Pesukei d’Zimra) and end with Aleinu.

5. Berakhot 6b.

6. Psalm 145:18.

7. In the Ashrei prayer. Birnbaum, Daily Prayer Book, pp. 57, 127 and 157.

8. Maurice Lamm, The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning (New York, 1969), pp. 149-175; Leon Wieseltier, Kaddish (New York, 1998).

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

This sounds very good, especially in this extremely hot weather.
Enjoy.
If anyone tries it before I do, let me know how it turns out.

Creamy Honey Dressing (See Below)
1 pound cooked smoked turkey or chicken, cut into 1/4-inch strips (4 cups)
8 ounces provolone or Swiss cheese, cut into cubes
4 medium celery stalks, sliced (2 cups)
1 cup honey-roasted cashews
1 quart strawberry, cut in half (4 cups)
Salad greens, if desired
Cashews, if desired
Strawberry, if desired

1.
Prepare Creamy Honey Dressing.
2.
Add remaining ingredients except strawberries; toss. Add strawberries;
carefully toss until evenly coated. If desired, serve on salad greens, and
garnish
with additional cashews and strawberries.

Creamy Honey Dressing

1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons ground mustard
3 teaspoons lemon juice

1.

Stir together all ingredients in large bowl.

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

I was woken up by the sound of wrustling outside my bedroom window.
I heard the gate creek, which shouldn’t have happened because the gate was supposed to be shut.
So of course, I did the best thing I could think of, which was to call the police.
The officer said it was a good thing I called because the specimens of brilliance hired by the apartment complex to paint the place left everyone’s gate wide-open.
Brilliant guys, brilliant.
Anyway, it wasn’t people, but lots of plastic and cardboard boxes wrustling around out there.
It just sounded way too much like someone moving around in the bushes, which even the cop agreed with.
He said a box came at him and he almost shot it.
He also said he’d be around tonight and tomorrow night since he expects the painters will be back after the holiday, and everyone’s gates will undoubtedly be left open.
When I got home from work yesterday, I noticed the painters were out there, and heard several of them speaking Spanish to each other.
Maybe I shouldn’t have, but the first thing I thought was “illegals.”
I feel slightly bad for thinking that, but only slightly.
I should write a thank-you letter to the apartment complex for looking out for our security.
Yes, the gate and/or fence could be kicked down, but that’s not the point.
Right now, anyone can just walk right in.

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

It’s thundering outside, and according to the weather report, we’re supposed to get rain.
I like it when it rains at night, because I happen to hold the view (which is probably very irrational) that would-be prowlers and other idiots, including drunks, go inside when it rains, which means normal people are OK.
It’s really bad when I’ve come to the point in my life where the first thing I think when I hear wrustling outside my window is “start shooting.”
Or maybe not.

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

The Pentagon has banned security clearance to Americans with relatives in Israel.

Government sources and attorneys said the Pentagon has sought and succeeded in removing security clearance from dozens of Americans, mostly Jews, who either
lived, worked or have relatives in Israel. Official documents report that American Jews, employed by major defense contractors and denied access to military
projects, were asked by Pentagon examiners whether they would join a U.S. attack on Israel and abandon their relatives if the Jewish state was threatened.

“The policy didn’t start yesterday,” a Pentagon source said. “But those applying for security clearance are coming under greater scrutiny than ever for
ties with foreign countries, and that especially includes Israel.”

In some cases, the sources said, the Pentagon even sought to remove the security clearance of high-ranking U.S. officers who served as consultants in Israel.
Some of the Pentagon’s decisions were overturned on appeal.

“There’s always been accusations of dual loyalty all along with American Jews who worked on classified programs,” a congressional staffer who oversees the
Pentagon said.

“But since the Phalcon episode the situation for anybody with ties to Israel has gotten worse,” the staffer said, referring to the episode in which Israel
tried to sell an early-warning aircraft to China in 2000.

A report said the Pentagon has sought to increasingly restrict access to Americans with relatives in Israel. The report said more and more Americans with
Israeli connections have been excluded from U.S. defense projects based on hearsay as well as claims that they would come under Israeli government pressure.
In 2000, the Pentagon issued directives that denied security clearance to anybody with an Israeli or other foreign passport.

“Prior involvement with the Israeli defense industry or any contact with Israeli security will probably cause denial [of U.S. security clearance],” said
the report, entitled, “Israel, Foreign Preference- Foreign Influence Cases.”

Authored by Sheldon Cohen, a Washington-based attorney who specializes in national security cases, the report reviewed 47 security clearance hearings held
by the Pentagon since 1996 in which applicants were accused of ties with Israel. Eighteen of the 47 applicants were granted clearances, but the report
cited other cases in which Israel was not named, rather referred to as “Country A.”

During hearings by the Pentagon’s Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals, officials and judges asserted that Israel was spying on the United States. They
have cited the 2005 indictment of two pro-Israeli lobbyists as evidence of Israeli espionage. Last year, Pentagon analyst Lawrence

Franklin was sentenced to 12 years for relaying classified information to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee and an Israeli diplomat.

“The Israeli government is actively engaged in military and industrial espionage in the United States,” a Pentagon administrative judge ruled. “An Israeli
citizen working in the U.S. who has access to proprietary information is likely to be a target of such espionage.”

The Pentagon board also asked applicants whether they would disclose classified information to increase the security of Israel so “his family in Israel
could live in peace and safety or to reduce threats to the lives of Israeli military personnel.”

The board ruled that strong family ties to Israel or another foreign country could be sufficient to deny security clearance.

The report said applicants were asked whether they would fight with the U.S. military against Israel in a “hypothetical conflict.” Those who did not pledge
to fight Israel were denied security clearance by the Appeals Board.

“The Appeal Board rejected the Administrative Judge’s assumption that Israel did not pose a serious security risk because it was a country friendly to the
U.S.,” the report said. “It held that such a view ignores the historic reality that relations between nations can shift, and that even friendly nations
can have profound disagreements with the United States over matters which they view as important to their vital interests or national security.”

At one point, the Pentagon sought to deny security clearance to a highly decorated U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel who upon retirement served as a consultant
to the Israeli Defense Ministry on its foreign military sales program. A judge ruled the officer had been acting for a foreign interest because he was
paid by a U.S. company that sold weapons to Israel. The Appeals Board rejected the Pentagon argument.

“The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the Appeal Board will affirm all denials and reverse all grants of clearance, except if the case is so compelling
that it could not withstand public criticism for its decision,” the report said.

“One is left with a sense of arbitrariness and unpredictability,” the report added.

www.americasnewspaper.co.

Where are all the anti-racial profilers now?
I guarantee you, if you replaced the word Jews with blacks, or any other minority group, the left would be screaming bloody murder.
So why not for Jews?
And we’re not even talking about an enemy nation, we’re talking about one that’s an ally.
This usually gets mentioned whenever the U.S. wants yet another concession from Israel, and, sadly, all Israel’s government will do is wring its hands and wonder why.

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

Trust me, it wasn’t impressive in the slightest.
Here are some highlights.

Why, when it comes to terrorism in Afghanistan or Iraq, does the U.S. apply a strong hand – but when it’s Palestinian terrorism against Israel, there’s
not the same tenacity and determination?

Good question.
Here’s Anne’s response.

Probably because of the formidable left-wing lobby, which has now added anti-Semitism to its sins.

See how much sense that doesn’t make?
Anne, last time I checked, answering questions with some sort of off-the-wall response like that is usually indicative of comprehension problems at best, and dodging the issues at worst.
How about, “The U.S. doesn’t apply the same standard to the Palestinians it does to the Israelis because the Bush administration, as well as all previous administrations since at least Carter, doesn’t want to piss off the Arabs because they’re afraid the Arabs won’t play along in the game we call the “war on terror”?”
And it gets better.

Have you ever visited Israel?

No, but I have been to Miami if that’s any help….

Nice little slur there, Anne.
Sounds to me like you’ve got some anti-semitism issues you need to deal with before you try to deal with the problems of the entire country as a whole.
Change has to start with oneself.
I actually watched Ms. Coulter on one of the news networks shortly after the scandal involving the 911 widows, and was struck by what seemed to me to be her inability to actually answer a question directly.
This article confirmed my suspicion that she is unable to do that.
What bothers me even more though is that there are intelligent conservatives who readily give this woman a pass on whatever she says.
As regards the “War on terror,” Anne says that the current administration has fought it magnificently.
OK, sure, if you consider fighting the war on terror as not actually going after, but propping up the real enemies, (Saudi Arabia, Syria), and woffling when it comes to terrorist groups like Hamas.
And while we’re at it, let’s discard the term “War on Terror,” and call it what it should be called: the “War on terrorists.”
You fight people, not ideologies.
And if we’re going to fight, as I believe we should, then let’s do it right, instead of beating around the bush.

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

by Rabbi Yehonatan Chipman

Tammuz. The time when the sun is at its zenith. Long days of intense, often harsh heat. Tammuz is the turning-point of the seasons; Tekufat Tammuz
is the Hebrew counterpoint to the summer solstice. The beginning of the proverbial “long hot summer.” In one Talmudic tradition Tammuz is described as
a time of special danger, when a person who walks alone in mid-day of Tammuz is exposed to the deleterious effects of ketev-merari (a phrase from Deut
32:24), a vague, harmful demonic force…. The light and warmth of the sun, one of the ultimate sources of all natural blessing and even of life itself,
can be a curse when there is too much of it, too intense (shades of global warming?).

In Jewish history, too, Tammuz is a time of harshness. Midway through the month is the 17th of Tammuz, the second of the four fast days for the destruction
of Jerusalem, the traditional date of the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem (before the Destruction of the Second Temple; 2 Kings 25:3-4 gives the date
for breaching of the walls in the First Temple period as the 9th of Tammuz). As such, it is the beginning of the Three Weeks, bein ma-metzarim, “between
the breaches”—the period leading up to Tisha b’Av. It is a time of mourning, of denying ourselves certain physical pleasures and comforts, and of sober
reflection—not so much over individual faults, but of collective responsibility and sin.

An important Rabbinic tradition notes that, whereas the First Temple was destroyed because of “bloodshed, licentiousness, and idolatry”—the three cardinal
sins in Judaism—the Second Temple was destroyed “because of causeless hatred”—what we might today call factionalism: a situation in which religious and
national-political ideologies become the center of individual identity, running amok, and simple human empathy was lost in the shuffle.

But one ought not to make light of the sins of First Temple paganism either. Sexual licentiousness and ritual bloodshed seem to go hand in hand with certain
kinds of paganism. Interestingly, Tammuz was the name of one of the pagan deities worshipped during that age—the only such whose name is associated with
that of a Hebrew month. Tammuz—originally the Sumerian shephered god Dumuzid, or the Akkadian Dumuzzi—was consort of the female Inanna/Ishtar, whose death
and rebirth were associated with the intense like heat and drought of mid-summer followed by rebirth, through rituals of mourning. “The women weeping
for the Tammuz” described by the prophet Ezekiel (8:6-14) was among the shocking sights he observed when he was taken to the inner sanctum of the Temple
in Jerusalem.

A third feature signaling the character of this month is the sequence of Torah portions read. During Tammuz, we read and almost always complete the second
half of Sefer Bamidbar, the Book of Numbers. As we have observed on other occasions, this is in some ways the most difficult book on which to get a handle.
It seems a potpourri of laws, stories, rebellions, and disasters.

In the first half of the book (roughly speaking: the parshiyot read in Sivan) , there is a sense of timelessness, of suspended animation, of being “nowhere”
in the desert. There is no interaction with other peoples; no real material needs (the Israelites eat the miraculous manna that falls every morning;
they drink water from the “Well of Miriam”; their garments and shoes don’t wear out). To be flippant, one might compare it to a reality show, in which
people are thrown upon their own resources simply to get on with one another, and the strengths and weaknesses of human nature (mostly the latter) are
revealed in all their nakedness. Or perhaps it can be compared to Sartre’s play No Exit; in which three people are shut in a room for eternity and the
conflicts among them play themselves out. “Hell is other people” becomes the motto.

The second half of the book is somehow more down to earth: there is interaction with other nations, as well as a sense of expectancy, of readiness, of
preparing to enter the land. A number of sections go down to the smallest technical details of how to settle the Land, of its boundaries, of dividing
the land among the tribes, of “extra-territorial” Levitical cities and cities of refuge—and even of how to handle an unusual case of inheritance in a family
where there are only daughters. There is also a change of leadership: Joshua instead of Moses; Pinhas instead of Aharon.

In Hukat and Balak the focus is on interaction (mostly violent) with other nations: the battles with Sihon and Og; fragments of ancient war poetry;
and the strange story of the sorcerer/prophet Bilaam, in which the people of Israel are observed entirely from without. There are more rebellions and
examples of poor behavior on the part of the people: the plague sent among the people for their lack of faith, and the brazen serpent sent to cure it;
and the sexual straying with the Midianite women at Baal Peor.

If one were to seek one central theme, it would be: the confrontation with a harsh, difficult reality (like that symbolized in Jewish history by the three
weeks?). The basic question asked by the Torah, if one may put it thus, is: how does one bring the lofty, unitive vision of Sinai down into the nitty-gritty
harshness, even cruelty, of the desert? Ironically, as these words are being written we find ourselves in the midst of a mini-war with the Palestinians,
one more chapter in a seemingly endless, “no exit” situation of ultimately pointless, un-winnable tribal warfare not so different from that portrayed in
these chapters of Torah.

As for the astrological symbolism: Tammuz is the month of Cancer: the crab, a sea crustaceans, living within a hard, protective shell (a symbol of turning
inward?); a dangerous creature that can snap and bite and even hurt badly. A crabby person is constantly grumpy and complaining. I don’t know whether
the two are connected (although whenever believers in astrology say “So-and-so is a Cancer” it always seems to have a particularly sinister ring), but
the homonymous cancer is a dreaded disease in which unseen disease cells multiply silently, destroying healthy organs over a period of months and years.
All of which are an apt enough collection of metaphors for what can go wrong in life, on both the personal and national level.

(For more essays by Rabbi Chipman, visit his blog