Archive | September 4th, 2012

Christians disrespected in Christ’s Motherland

NOVANEWS

english.pravda.ru

After the “Arab Spring” the life in a number of countries in the Middle East became dramatically more extreme. In Iraq, Egypt and Syria, life for Christians became very difficult. But there is a Middle Eastern country whose main religion is not Islam. How do Christians live in Israel? Was Prime Minister Netanyahu right when he said that Christians freely profess their faith there?

Speaking recently in Jerusalem, Benjamin Netanyahu said, “If in many countries, such as Syria, Christians live in a state of siege, here, in Israel, they are free to practice their faith.” The Israeli prime minister urged Christians to rally around Israel and protect the Christian civilization from total Islamization posed by the “Arab Spring.”

Netanyahu’s words were heard at the congress of the movement “Christians for Israel” whose members call themselves Christian Zionists. Long before the Christian Zionist Congress, Russian experts voiced the same opinion that Netanyahu expressed. In their view, in the near future, Israel will be the last refuge of Christianity in the Middle East, as other Christian areas of the region will be swept away by the bloody “Arab Spring” and the growth of Islamic fundamentalist tendencies. In a raging ocean of armed jihad and war “a la Somalia,” which threatens the Middle East in the near future, Israel actually looks like Noah’s ark for Christians. But is this true?

Israeli experts interviewed by a reporter of GTimes said that Netanyahu’s words of the free exercise of Christianity in Israel were, to say the least, wishful thinking. “Netanyahu is a pathological liar. There is discrimination against Christians in all areas. Recently one man, accused of baptizing his children, was deported from Israel. “Especially hard is the life of Jewish Christians,” said an Israeli human rights activist Maria Pesikova. “According to the Israeli law, a converted Jew has no right to repatriation, so Christians have to deny their faith when entering the country, in other words, to renounce Christ. Children of Jewish Christians are bullied in schools. Moreover, Christian parents of Jews are not allowed to teach their children faith. If Social Services find out that a Jewish child is a Christian who fasts, prays and goes to the temple with her parents, the authorities have the right to take away custody of the child from the parents, as it is considered child abuse.”

Israeli writer Israel Shamir, who came from the Soviet Union, is a Jew who converted to Orthodoxy. “Israel does not carefully and persistently chase Palestinian Christians to replace them with Christians from Iraq or Syria,” he said in an interview with GTimes. “In the homeland of Jesus Christianity is persecuted: churches are set on fire, there are laws against missionaries. In Knesset the Gospel was publicly destroyed.”

The last reference is to the notorious case on July 17, when a deputy Michael Ben-Ari publicly tore the New Testament and threw it in the trash. The journalists who were in the audience remember the words of Ben-Ari: “This book served and continues to serve as the basis for the persecution and murder of Jews. Its place is in the trash.”

Desecration and destruction of Christian churches began in the early days of Israel. From 1947 to 1967, most of the local Christian churches and monasteries have been taken from the faithful and turned into military camps, depots, and artillery batteries. It got to the point that some Israeli soldiers would relieve themselves at a Christian cemetery.

In 1948, during the Nakba, military blew up a Christian church in the Arab village of Ikret and destroyed nearly all of its residents. Ikret was fully populated by Christian Arabs. They did not want to leave their homes and the graves of their ancestors, and met the Israelis with arms.

During the Six-Day War IDF soldiers again desecrated the Holy Sepulcher and fired guns at a famous Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. In Ramallah, the current capital of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Israeli shelled a women’s Episcopal School, where many Arab girls studied. Many of them drew their last breath in the rubble of the destroyed school.

After the Six Day War, the existence of Christians in Israel became reminiscent of a life on a volcano. Brief periods of peace were alternated by the harassment by radical Zionists. Thugs raped nuns, beat priests, threw stones at Christian procession and hand grenades through the windows of churches.

During the exacerbation of Israeli relations with the Soviet Union, the Russian Orthodox Mission in Jerusalem was subject to attacks. It was considered the KGB residency in Israel. Head of the Mission, Archimandrite Tikhon (Zaitsev) in 2008, recalled that seeing a priest, rabbis would spit at his feet. “Spitting was not that bad, it happened that stones were thrown at us,” he said. By law, rabbis were required to pay fines for these misdemeanors, but all attempts to bring them to justice would end in failure. Bullies and tyrants were either helped by the police, or bailed by the Knesset members.

However, bullying and rape were nothing compared to the tragedy of Palestinian Christianity in the late 1990′s – early 2000s. After 1997, Israel gave the PA a number of controversial areas, and the number of Christians there showed a sharp decline. Muslim fanatics of Fatah and the “Islamic Jihad” considered Christians the “fifth column” of Israel, organized real genocide for their brothers in faith. The PA appealed to Tel Aviv during the persecution of Christians, but Tel Aviv was not touched. Benjamin Netanyahu was Israeli Prime Minister at the time.

For the current Israeli leader, the issue of the Christian denomination is directly linked to his personal situation as a politician. Christians for him are chess pieces in a series of multi-series combinations. Netanyahu admitted that his family never had anything against Christians. Moreover, speaking last Sunday in Jerusalem, Netanyahu vowed to defend the Christian civilization.

Meanwhile, the situation of Christians in Israel is still very controversial. According to a Catholic priest at a parish of Haifa, “for the Israeli, a Christian is a person who should be avoided.” A Christian is pariah and a permanent “irritant” for the orthodox Jews, who, seeing a cross on his neck, can easily spit at him or his feet, expressing their disgust with the “impure.” This applies to all individuals in Israel, Christians, Arabs, Armenians, the Greeks, and the Russian. The most difficult situation, of course, is for the baptized Jews who are strangers in the land of their ancestors.”

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LOL!!! N.Y. rabbis claim Health Department ‘spreading lies’ about circumcision-related rite

NOVANWS

Decrying upcoming vote on consent waver for metzitzah b’peh, rabbis say there is ‘not even an iota of blame or danger’ in the ancient custom.

Haaretz

Ultra-Orthodox rabbis in New York are accusing the city’s Department of Health of “spreading lies” in order to pass a law mandating that parents sign a consent waiver in order to use a controversial circumcision-related rite.

The health department is scheduled to vote next week on the waiver for the use of direct oral-genital suction, known as metzitzah b’peh. The form would indicate that parents are aware of the risk of infection.

Some 200 rabbis have signed a statement alleging that the department “printed and spread lies… in order to justify their evil decree. It is clear to us that there is not even an iota of blame or danger in this ancient and holy custom,” the New York Post reported.

The controversy over metzitzah b’peh was reignited in March after it came to light that an unidentified infant died Sept. 28 at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center from “disseminated herpes simplex virus Type 1, complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction,” according to the death certificate.

Health department investigations of newborns with the herpes virus from 2000 to 2011 have shown that 11 infants contracted the herpes virus when mohels, or ritual circumcisers, placed their mouths directly on the child’s circumcision wound to draw blood away from the circumcision cut, according to a statement from the department. Ten of the infants were hospitalized, at least two developed brain damage and two babies died.

The rite is not used in most Jewish circumcision ceremonies, but many in the Haredi Orthodox community still adhere to it. Haredi leaders have resisted calls to replace direct oral suction with alternative approaches used by some mohels, such as the use of a sterile tube or gauze to take the blood from the circumcision wound.

This entry was posted on September 4, 2012, 2:43 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  1. #1 by Cheryl D. Uzamere on September 4, 2012 – 4:23 pm

    At the website http://unicornbooty.com/blog/2012/03/07/infant-dies-from-herpes-infection-after-rabbi-sucks-blood-from-his-penis-seriously/, the article is entitled “Infant Dies from Herpes Infection After Rabbi Sucks Blood from His Penis (Seriously).”

    The article says: “The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office is investigating the death of an infant boy who contracted herpes from a rabbi who sucked blood from the boy’s penis in a religious circumcision ritual called metzizah b’peh.

    The cause of death was listed as “disseminated herpes simplex virus Type 1, complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction.”

    Mayor Bloomberg Tuesday defended that finding.”

    Let’s get something straight: When a Jew says that a non-Jew spread lies about him, DON’T BELIEVE THE JEW!!!

    America is a county where most people are deathly afraid to offend Jews, let alone lie on them. To offend Jews means to lose your reputation (because they control it). To offend Jews means losing the ability to do business successfully (because they control a great deal of the businesses, not just in America, but all over western Europe). To offend Jews means you must exercise caution when you need healthcare, because, at least in my opinion, once you’ve offended the Jewish community, Jewish surgeons will misdiagnose you and let you die on the operating table. I am a current victim of Ashkenazi Jewish aggression so I know. The psychotic bastards will attack you even when they are wrong.

    Sucking a penis is a sex act, I don’t care what anybody says. There are tools that rabbis can use to suction the blood from a baby’s penis. When surgeons operate, they keep handy the machine that suctions blood. Hell, even a turkey baster can draw blood. Why don’t they use it, instead of putting their filthy mouths of a baby’s penis?

    Have we open a can of worms? Can male homosexuality in the Jewish community be associated with a baby getting his first blow job from a rabbi?

    Oops, sorry. I better be careful before some Jew says I’m lying on the Jews (like I care).

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Pay and you will be saved: the stringent code of Kabbalah Laam

NOVANEWS

Haaretz

A drab industrial building on Jabotinsky Road in Petah Tikva. Between Shahaf washing machine parts and Gaya Rooms for Rent by the Hour lies the modest entrance to the main building of the Kabbalah Laam organization. In less than an hour, the daily lecture by Michael Laitman would begin, and the parking lot was already buzzing. A stream of men of all ages, religious and secular, began to arrive; most swiped a magnetic card at the entrance.

“It opens the door and also transmits a report to the person at the computer as to who arrived when,” a former member of the group will explain later. “Ten minutes after the lesson begins, the guy in charge calls those who didn’t show up. Many of the people are woken by the phone call and come, others give excuses, some don’t answer, and others get yelled at by their wives, because the whole family gets woken up.”

The guard at the door nods in welcome to the arrivals. Day in and day out, 365 days a year, in every season and all kinds of weather, they come. Around 200 men, sometimes more. Two floors of offices and classrooms, rows of faucets and hot water urns for coffee and tea, a large study hall where the lessons are held and broadcast live on TV and online. And there is also a large roof, with an array of fitness equipment, chairs and a smoking area overlooking a typical local, urban landscape.

“Isn’t it hard to get up at this hour every night?” I ask a young man who’s been part of the group for more than a decade.

“You get used to it,” he replies.

“And what happens in the morning, when you have to go to work?” I press him.

“Luckily, I don’t start work until 11,” he says with a smile. “But there are people who just go to bed early − at 9 P.M.”

Women do not show up; they watch the lessons from home. “We come here to study and you have to be able to concentrate,” explains the young man, explaining graphically the kind of distraction a female presence might cause. He himself met his wife through Kabbalah Laam. “If it hadn’t been that way, it would have been hard,” he says. “I’d have to explain it all to her, involve her in it, too.”

Like many of the people here, this young man plans to move closer to this area. It’s 2:45 and he hurries to get a good seat in the main hall. The photographer and I follow. We leave our bags at the entrance to the room like all the other students.

But then Avihu Sofer, a prominent Kabbalah Laam activist, arrives. “Come outside,” he says to us, and escorts us out of the building. This is a kabbala organization − and a sign is hanging at the entrance for the “Arevut Movement,” whose aim, says its website, is “to put the value of mutual responsibility at the center of the public discourse in Israeli society” − and everyone is ostensibly welcome, but not the photographer or me.

“You were not invited here,” Sofer says, and turns to go back inside. Before disappearing, he turns around for a moment and says: “Don’t you have anything better to do at 3 A.M.?”

Kabbalah Laam, founded by Michael Laitman, is dedicated to the teaching and dissemination of kabbala. The organization is run by a nonprofit association called Bnei Baruch, founded in 1997. In the United States, Canada and Germany, there are sister organizations of Bnei Baruch, under the same name. Kabbalah Laam has one major competitor for the hearts of believers: the Kabbalah Center founded by Shraga Berg, whose most famous student is the singer Madonna.

At Kabbalah Laam one also finds some local celebrities, including singer Arkadi Duchin and actor Sasha Damidov. According to the book, “Kabbalah for Beginners” ‏(in Hebrew‏), put out by the Bnei Baruch organization, “the wisdom of kabbala” can provide the answers to questions like “What is my purpose in this world? What does the future hold? And, how can one avoid unnecessary anguish and achieve tranquillity and confidence?”

Kabbala, says the book, “gives a person the ability to ask any question and arrive at the inner, personal experience that will give him the full answer … There are precise, genuinely scientific explanations here for how to achieve that supreme feeling of boundless pleasure and to gain total control over the course of your life…

Rabbi Michael Laitman, the student and personal aide of Rabbi Baruch Ashlag, is the one who teaches us how to properly understand the texts and, through them, to achieve the goal for which they were created.”

Though his followers call him “rabbi,” they acknowledge that Laitman never underwent ordination and that the title is mostly an honorific. The Kabbalah Laam website explains that in 1991, after the death of his mentor, Rabbi Ashlag ‏(known as the Rabash‏), “Rabbi Dr. Michael Laitman” − a professor of ontology, with a Ph.D. in philosophy and kabbala and a master’s of science in bio-cybernetics − founded Bnei Baruch, naming it after his teacher, “whose side he never left in the final 12 years of his life, from 1979-1991. Dr. Laitman was Ashlag’s prime student, personal assistant and is recognized as the successor of Rabash’s teaching method.”

Ashlag was the eldest son of Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag ‏(aka Ba’al Hasulam‏), author of “Hasulam” ‏(“The Ladder”‏), a commentary on the Book of Zohar. According to the website, Kabbalah Laam bases its lessons and activities on the teachings of these two great spiritual leaders. In 1995, with the aim of sharing the wisdom of kabbala with all, Laitman founded his organization.

Bnei Baruch was established mainly by immigrants from the former Soviet Union, but in recent years its activity has expanded to other sectors of Israeli society. Shai Ben-Tal, a doctoral student in Jewish philosophy at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, has been researching it for several years.

“According to Bnei Baruch, kabbala is the natural heir of science,” he explains. “Traditional science has reached the end of the road, and the time has come for a new scientific method to take its place on the stage of history and lead humanity to the final stage in its progress.”

Tomer Persico, an expert on new religious movements in Israel who has been monitoring the organization’s activity for some years and writing about it on his site ‏(tomerpersico.com‏), estimates that it currently has 50,000 local followers.

“Bnei Baruch,” he says, “is the most successful new religious movement in Israel. They present a popular adaptation of the kabbala of Rabbi Ashlag, which stresses the community ethos on the one hand and the internal transformative process on the other, as ways of getting closer to the godliness they identify with the universe itself. In addition, they are motivated by a totalitarian messianic vision that envisions, in the not-too-distant future, a government of kabbalists who cannot be challenged.”

Many followers get up to listen to the daily lesson by Laitman at the Petah Tikva center between 3:10-6 A.M., which is also broadcast live on the Internet and on Channel 66, launched by his organization.

In the broadcasts, Laitman, with a trim beard, wearing a starched white shirt and black jacket, a thick book open before him, lectures to and answers questions from the all-male audience. He doesn’t seem to exude much charisma.

Furthermore, to anyone unfamiliar with this discourse, some of it is liable to sound rather impenetrable. For example: “What is absence?” asked a student at the lesson on February 8.

“It’s a lack of connection,” replies Laitman. “It’s me searching for what you’re lacking and you searching for what I’m lacking, so we’re connected. Solely in this way. A connection means I am connected to what you’re lacking and you are connected to what I am lacking. Each one is connected to the heart of the other. I know from the start that you want a connection with the Creator. That is: What is a Creator? The power of love. You want to arrive at the connection to love. Love is called the whole connection, the full connection. Such a full connection that there is a real mutual connection between the two of them. You know there is a ‘mutation’ in the connection in sparkplugs, that exactly fit each other. As if they make one whole, as if they’re one. What one is missing matches what the other is missing. Male on this side, female on the other side. There is this kind of absence and that kind of absence, and they connect and complement one another.”

Answering every question

Avihu Sofer, who has been with Laitman from the start, is one of Kabbalah Laam’s most prominent activists and spokesmen. When we meet the day before the visit to the movement’s center, he is friendly and articulate. Like other people at the organization, he repeats his messages; there is no hint of doubt. These people clearly feel the need to spread what they refer to as “the wisdom of kabbala.”

Sofer says that at first there were just a few dozen students, but now Laitman has approximately two million followers around the world ‏(the number of people registered on the Kabbalah Laam website‏). He says there are hundreds of thousands in the United States and Europe, fewer in South America, and about 50,000-80,000 in Israel, which is the organization’s “spiritual center.” He says there are also students in the Palestinian Authority, Turkey, Iran and even some Ukrainian neo-Nazis who saw the light after they came across the group’s website .

“The wisdom of kabbalah is ancient, 3,500 years old for certain,” says Sofer. “One day, Abraham discovered his Creator … [and had] a need to discover some kind of spiritual reality beyond … Then he began a kind of quest for the self. This process continues and at some stage a certain wisdom develops that gathers people around the idea of ‘Love they neighbor as thyself.’ The understanding is that only through proper relationships with people can we achieve the revelation of the power that we call ‘the Creator.’ The Creator in kabbala wisdom is not God sitting on some cloud, but a spiritual power, a spiritual trait that we call the trait of influence, the trait of giving.

“All of us human beings have within us the power through a common process that we build together, to rise above our personal egoism, which is continually pushing us to focus just on our own pleasure. How do we do this? By means of a very orderly and organized learning process that has been led by the kabbalists for years … Now egoism has reached such a level where either we’ll destroy ourselves together − and we see that the world is advancing toward this quite well − or we find a way to rise above the personal egoism in each of us and to build proper relations here. This is what every student of the ‘wisdom of kabbala’ aspires to.”

Says Gilad Shadmon, another prominent student of Laitman’s and a long-time member of the organization: “I see that the spreading of the ‘wisdom of kabbala’ does good wherever we reach and encourages the values of love for one’s fellow man. We see that the study of the wisdom of kabbala opens people up and makes them very sensitive, especially in terms of interpersonal relations. The fact that our activity has been growing and expanding from year to year shows that the world today needs this. In a world in which everyone is butting heads and searching for one another, we believe that the good will come and that we will know how to cooperate and to achieve a feeling of security for every person in the society in which he lives.”

Prof. Moshe Idel of the Hebrew University, a senior scholar at the Hartman Institute and an Israel Prize laureate in Jewish philosophy, is not impressed. “I don’t know what he’s doing and I’m not sure anyone really understands it,” he says in regard to Laitman. “In academia, there are assumed to be many types of kabbala. Kabbala has a history, and there are disagreements and debates, while for him it is one clear, unified thing. We are trying very hard to understand and he already has.”

How close is their description of kabbala to what you know of it?

Idel: “Minimally close. Historically, I do not accept that it is related to Abraham and all of those stories. It’s a much later phenomenon. Of course, you can find in the kabbala discussions of proper relationships, but there are other things that are much more important and don’t appear here [in the teachings of Laitman]at all, such as the emphasis on the uniqueness of the Jewish people, and on the imperative to be fruitful and multiply.”

What is the difference between the various organizations that teach kabbala?

“Each of these organizations presumes that there is just one kabbala and that it is the master of it. Kabbala varies among the organizations, but they share the belief that there is one clear doctrine and that it can be imparted to people.”

What do you think of these movements that attract hundreds of thousands of believers?

“I’m not sure that these people are believers. People stay there for a time and then go on their way. People by nature are searching for meaning. Once upon a time they went to yoga, and now they go to this ‘supermarket.’”

They say that if we don’t use the wisdom of kabbala, we’re lost.

“You think it will help? If that’s what it depends on, then I’m not too optimistic.”

To repair the world

Many organizations would be happy to be where Bnei Baruch is sitting financially. According to its most recent financial report, for 2010, it recorded a net profit of NIS 2.5 million. The year before, it was NIS 1.1 million. Income for 2010 stood at NIS 21 million ‏(a significant increase over 2009’s total of NIS 13.5 million‏). A large part of this sum, nearly NIS 10 million, came from donations, and the rest from other sources: more than NIS 6.5 million from income from conferences in Israel and abroad, about NIS 1.7 million from the sale of books and tapes, and about NIS 1.5 million from the facilities the organization runs, in which it offers lessons and courses for payment.

Expenses also jumped in 2010: NIS 6.7 million was spent on overhead, compared to NIS 3.4 million the year before. The cost of the various events produced by Bnei Baruch came to NIS 3.9 million, while the printing of books and the broadcast of lessons on the Kabbalah Laam channel cost the foundation NIS 3.7 million. But income far outpaced expenses, leaving NIS 2.5 million in the organization’s coffers.

Despite the nice profits made by this nonprofit group, the sums received by Bnei Baruch in the form of what it calls “grants and donations” was quite modest: Just NIS 23,000 in 2010 and NIS 50,000 in 2009. Fundraising abroad was on a smaller scale: The American branch of Bnei Baruch ‏(where Michael Laitman’s son Uri Laitman is one of the directors‏) raised $470,000 in 2011, a decrease of $200,000 from the previous year. The Canadian branch, of which the younger Laitman is also a member, raised $145,000 in 2010.

Donors to the Israeli organization are divided into two main groups. The first are affluent people with ties to the movement’s activity in Israel or abroad, who contribute sums of as much as hundred of thousands of shekels a year ‏(in 2010, Leonid Makaron, a millionaire from Russia, made the largest single donation, of a half-million shekels‏). The second group consists of smaller donors, including local activists, who are asked to contribute maaser − a tithe amounting to one-tenth of their salary as a donation. The Kabbalah Laam website explains: “Maaser is a physical means to bond with other souls. Even if you don’t give it any serious thought or special intention, it still works! A person’s soul is said to comprise 10 parts called eser sefirot [10 attributes through which God manifests himself]. In his spiritual work a person ‘draws light’ with which he can correct nine parts of his soul ‏(the first nine sefirot‏), and through them feel the Upper Abundance. However, in the tenth part of his soul, sefirat malchut [kingship], a person cannot receive the Abundance, until he reaches gmar tikkun [literally, the end of correction, repair] − the final stage in which all the other souls are corrected. This is why kabbalists set the terms for paying maa0ser from the very beginning of the wisdom of kabbala.

“If we wish to be in congruence with the bestowal of the Upper Force upon us, we must decide that from the Abundance we receive in this world we will use only nine-tenths for personal ‏(physical‏) needs, and allocate one-tenth for the benefit of humanity, for the correction of the world.”

‘What are you afraid of?’

Kabbalah Laam comprises various committees, dealing with social, absorption-related, financial matters and so on. The main core − called “the inner group” or “the community” by insiders − is estimated to number 300-400 people. These are the people who come every day, in the middle of the night, to the Petah Tikva center to hear Laitman’s talks. Most live as close by as possible, in Petah Tikva. They are also the ones who keep up the “project” of disseminating the group’s kabbala doctrine. Those who work for this project receive a relatively low salary of a few thousand shekels a month.

Last year, a major lawsuit was submitted in Tel Aviv District Court against Bnei Baruch and several members of the organization. The plaintiffs, Ronen and Sigal Dabach, who claimed they were members for more than seven years and belonged to the inner sanctum, asked the court to order the organization to pay them NIS 5 million in damages for alleged copyright violations.

Ronen Dabach described how he established a band called Hador Ha’aharon ‏(The Last Generation‏) to help spread Bnei Baruch’s ideas. He claimed that several band members and the movement pushed him away and stole his copyright.

Beyond the copyright issues, the complaint also gives an unflattering picture of Bnei Baruch’s activity: “In this episode, [the organization] acted in a violent, aggressive and extortionist manner,” say the plaintiffs, adding that members of Bnei Baruch “are completely subject to the group’s authority and decisions, and live in a kind of bubble that is almost completely cut off from the familiar lifestyle of the ordinary citizen … Bnei Baruch has codes of behavior and rules that do not go hand in hand with the laws of the State of Israel.”

The Dabachs charge that the group’s officials serve as a spiritual authority for the followers, who respond to their influence and decisions “in a nearly blind manner.” The couple’s case is currently being heard in Tel Aviv District Court.

Similar things were said by others who have left Bnei Baruch. Na’ama ‏(not her real name‏) and her husband were part of the inner group in the last decade. “This place left us with a very bitter taste,” she says. “Everything is ‘the rabbi said, the rabbi said.’ There’s fear and we were unable to make even the smallest decisions.”

Na’ama says her husband immigrated to Israel after meeting her at a Bnei Baruch seminar abroad. In Israel he became part of the inner circle, where he was exposed to things that made him uncomfortable. For one thing, she says, “he wanted there to be more transparency in the organization.” The response was not long in coming, she adds. “They just ostracized him. We lived in the same place [as other organization members − U.B.], and they stopped saying hello to him in the street.” The couple subsequently left the group, and Na’ama says, “It took a long time for our wounds to heal.”

Noam ‏(not his real name‏), in his early twenties, was a member of the inner group for two and a half years, until 18 months ago. Among that circle, he says, “there is a sense of community, a lot of discussion and a desire to solve all kinds of things. I think it’s the only place that offers a genuine solution to what’s happening in the world.” But in the same breath, he goes on to say, “I can agree with opponents of the organization who say that it creates some kind of doubt and fear.”

What do you mean?

Noam: “They deal with things that a lot of people try to run away from in their day-to-day lives: confronting the self, confronting a certain truth. Not everyone is cut out for it, and I wasn’t. I came out with a lot of hard feelings.”

Do people get to situations where they’re emotionally unstable?

“I came out of there in a mental crisis, but I think it has to do with the way I relate to things. Each person sees things his own way and takes them differently.”

Other evidence of this fear could be seen in the answers given to a question distributed to members two weeks ago: “What is most important to you in life?! What do you fear most?!” Many wrote about losing the connection with the group: “For me the group is the only life-raft! My big fear is losing the connection with it and to thereby lose the opportunity of a connection with the Creator,” wrote one respondent.

“I’m most afraid of being cut off from the group, of being thrown off the path and losing the sense of importance of the mission. I’m also very afraid that I’m not succeeding in giving my all to thinking about society at every moment, and thus am preventing the group from reaching the goal,” another woman wrote.

Making mistakes

In 2006, members of the inner community received an email from a member of Kabbalah Laam ‏(who is not part of the administration‏) who still sends out frequent updates on activities. This one came with an attachment entitled “Regulations for members of Bnei Baruch,” listing various rules of behavior. But no one was asked to sign the document and it was not presented to them as an official document of the organization.

The document is also mentioned in Ben-Tal’s research; Bnei Baruch people say Ben-Tal has done the most serious study of the group. The following rules appear: “The view of the group ranks supreme; once the group has made a decision, it is better to be mistaken together with the group than to be right alone; it is incumbent upon each person to defend the group and himself from other ‘spiritual’ movements and their like, and if someone deviates from the group’s path, he must inform the members immediately and the members must help him return to the path; a member who sees another member violating the group’s rules, the rules of mutual responsibility, is obliged to report this to the group committee or court. If he does not do so, he is a party to the violation, and if the group finds out about this, he shall be treated in accordance with the group’s rules;

“One is not to participate in or accept any other ‘spiritual’ direction; one is not to read any material other than that which is accepted in the group; one is not to listen to another rabbi; monthly maaser payments and all other obligatory payments ‏(maintenance costs, food, etc.‏) must be paid on time! If there is a financial problem, one must contact the social aid department; to be married; to participate in the members’ meetings; to participate in all group events, and activities and joint meals; to take part in Shabbat and holiday activities; To read the article by cell phone at 1:45 P.M.; to go to bed no later than 9:30 P.M.; to read a section [of kabbala] at bedtime; to be careful not to offend the rabbi, the group and the path of the Ba’al Hasulam and Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag; not to leave the study hall during the lesson with the sole exception of the need to use the restroom; those sitting at the central table and in front of the cameras are not to leave at all;

“When the rabbi begins to speak, to cease all other talk and to listen; singing begins and ends only at the signal from the rabbi or the member responsible for this; no foreign literature is to be brought into the Bnei Baruch center except for dissemination purposes; no forms of media that are unedited and uncensored ‏(video, audio, texts, etc‏.) to outside parties …”

Former members of Kabbalah Laam with whom Haaretz spoke confirmed that they received this document by email, and said it did reflect in general the way things worked in the organization at the time. Contacted two weeks ago, representatives from Kabbalah Laam wished to make clear that the organization has no official, binding regulations and that they are not responsible for materials disseminated by other parties of their own accord.

Harmful to children

Members of Bnei Baruch receive an email almost daily from the organization, from someone called “BB Pnimi.” These messages show what sort of terminology the movement uses and offer a glimpse of what goes on inside. An email sent two weeks ago, for example, warns: “Spiritual emergency! Dear member! Sage of the generation! We are in a time of emergency! Members of the weekly spiritual committee. We tried and tried to think of how we are as a society. We cannot escape the feeling that we are truly ‏(!‏) in a time of emergency demanding unification among us!!”

Three weeks ago, community members received a letter concerning Laitman’s trip to a conference in Ukraine, which attests to the very close relationship between him and his followers: “The teacher traveled there deliberately not to pressure the students in a material way, because so far they see the materialism and do not yet see the inner world,” the letter began, quoting Laitman himself.

“And when the teacher is physically far away, they must strive to act as if there is no distance, and this can only happen by likening the spiritual form, for then the nearness is spiritual. And he feels that he hasn’t gone away from them, for he certainly has nothing to do with distance and time, since he is connected with them of himself, just as the Creator is connected with all of us, but not us with Him. And therefore, the group has its work to do here.”

Besides such updates and instructions, BB Pnimi also reports on troubling incidents. “A letter to the community from the spiritual directorate” − that was the heading of an email sent out a few months ago. It revealed that a group of six women affiliated with the movement had created their own group with strict rules, some of which they also applied to their children.

“For some time now, a number of women who were members of the community have decided not to respect the rules of behavior expected from members of the community and the group,” it said. “These women [the names are listed − U.B.] have created for themselves and their children a separate and closed group within the society, using propaganda with the aim of establishing their group and its rules of behavior. Some of the women have also made it a custom to wake their young children every night to watch the morning lessons …

“Obviously this is unacceptable, non-normative behavior that is harmful both to the children and to the group’s image. Such behavior should be denounced and uprooted. Therefore, a decision has been made to ban the continued participation of these women and their children in the community’s activities, without exception. This applies both to physically coming to the center, participating in classes, meals, conferences, trips and so on. A message to this effect was already sent and received by the women … It is important to note that there is no restriction on the continued activity of their husbands within the group’s framework.”

Haaretz managed to contact two of the women cited in the letter. One said she was not familiar with the matter and requested that we “write nice things.” The second declined to comment and hung up.

Responses from Bnei Baruch

Regarding the rabbinic title of Rabbi Laitman: Rabbi Laitman is not an ordained rabbi. He does not engage in running religious services of any type. The title “rabbi” connoting a great and important person in the field of the wisdom of kabbala was given to him by his students who view him this way. This matter is explained on the Kabbalah Laam website in the section entitled “About Rabbi Laitman” and is cited in other public statements made by the association.

Regarding the increase in Bnei Baruch’s profit: This is not profit. We are a nonprofit organization and therefore this is surplus income beyond expenses for that calendar period. At the end of 2011, the surplus decreased again to less than a million, and is used for ongoing activity. Please note that the organization’s funds are used solely for the sake of its goals. Such a surplus is very low in relation to the organization’s regular activity − it makes the activity possible and does not continue to accumulate. The association’s use of the funds and its bookkeeping is continually overseen by the organization’s accountant, an internal auditor, a financial director, an oversight committee, the board and the registrar of nonprofit organizations. In addition, the organization has been given confirmation of proper administration by the registrar of nonprofit organizations.

Regarding the “regulations document” sent to organization members: Bnei Baruch has a set of regulations that appears and is published by the registrar of nonprofit organizations. This is the only set of regulations to which it is bound. Throughout the 17 years of its existence, there have been many initiatives on the part of students to put together a range of additional regulations. Not one of these initiatives was ever adopted by Bnei Baruch as an official or unofficial version, and they were all rejected by its administration.

Regarding the Dabachs’ lawsuit: This is a legal proceeding that is currently pending in court and a detailed defense brief was submitted rebuffing each and every claim, and the untruthful assertions of the Dabach family. Ronen Dabach is someone who has made a habit of making false statements and inciting against the organization because he and his family were banned from its various study frameworks due to violent and outrageous behavior on his part, for which a court restraining order was also requested and issued. The organization is currently preparing a libel claim against various publications and statements made by the Dabach couple.

Regarding the group of women who were expelled: Bnei Baruch invites every person to come and study. In very rare cases when we are unable to alter a person’s behavior, situations may arise in which the person is expelled from the study framework. In light of the fact that the information in our possession was no more than rumor, we did not feel it was our role to contact the welfare authorities.

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Israeli lobby ultimate winner of US election: Analyst

NOVANEWS
An interview with former US Senate candidate, Mark Dankof

We are looking at more debt; we’re looking at more overextension of military empire; we’re looking at more irresponsible foreign policy and interventionist foreign policy abroad. We are looking at crumbling economic and cultural infrastructure from within in the United States regardless of who wins this election….This is all a prescription for gridlock and this gridlock is going to facilitate the ongoing control of the American political and economic process by the usual players, the bankers and your other guests have already cited that very well, the oil and natural gas consortiums and other multinational corporations and the Israeli lobby.”

Regardless of who wins the US presidential election, the country is controlled by bankers, oil consortiums and the Israeli lobby and headed for more debt, military adventurism and interventionist foreign policy, says an analyst.

Press TV has conducted an interview with former US Senate candidate, Mark Dankof, to further discuss the issue.

The program also offers the opinions of two other guests: Occupy movement organizer, Mark Mason and activist and Occupy movement protester, Caleb Maupin.

What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Mark Dankof, you hear that amount (money spent on campaign for US presidential elections), what do you think? I mean obviously looking at the amount of money that’s being poured in the first question that comes to mind favors need to be returned, tell us what you think when for example Romney’s top donors are Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley?

Dankof Well, it tells you everything that you need to know, and just as a microcosm of the larger problem take a look at [America’s eighth-wealthiest person] Sheldon Adelson, the Zionist owner of the Sands Casino in Vegas and the fact that he was bankrolling Newt Gingrich through these super PACs that supposedly could be legally distanced from the official campaign of Gingrich. He is not doing the same thing for Romney.

Adelson boasted that he is going to put 100 million dollars into this Romney effort through this super PAC and the whole process is a sick joke. It’s bought and paid for and at the end of the day people wonder why both the Republican and Democratic parties in this country are as corrupt as they are. This is clearly at the root of the problem.

Press TV: Mark Dankof, isn’t it interesting that in either of the candidates, the incumbent being Obama and Mitt Romney the candidate there is really not too much talk or emphasis placed on Afghanistan except for Obama perhaps here and there talking about this withdrawal that he has ended two wars. But what’s on the horizon? What are the Americans seeing? A country that is suffering from one of the largest deficits on paper, 14 trillion as is cited. Are they going to be looking for four more years of the same no matter who gets elected?

Dankof: That‘s exactly what it’s going to be and it seems to me that the important thing here is not simply to talk about the 16 or 17 trillion dollar national debt in terms of what’s on budget but the 222 trillion dollar debt in regard to the off budget speaking about both Social Security and Medicare and all of the unfunded liability there.

And then whether you’re looking at Barack Obama who came in four years ago as an anti-war candidate and looks now like a darker skin version of George Bush and Dick Cheney or whether we turn to Mitt Romney who wants to bring defense spending up now to four percent of GDP and who wants obviously a war with Iran even more so than Mr. Obama does, I think this is absolutely hopeless as far as the American people are concerned.

We are looking at more debt; we’re looking at more overextension of military empire; we’re looking at more irresponsible foreign policy and interventionist foreign policy abroad. We are looking at crumbling economic and cultural infrastructure from within in the United States regardless of who wins this election.

The fact of the matter is I’m going to predict that Mr. Obama will win this election despite his record by the skin of his teeth. The Republicans will maintain control of the House of Representatives. There will be roughly a 50/50 split in the senate one way or the other.

This is all a prescription for gridlock and this gridlock is going to facilitate the ongoing control of the American political and economic process by the usual players, the bankers and your other guests have already cited that very well, the oil and natural gas consortiums and other multinational corporations and the Israeli lobby.

I think it’s obvious when you put that together who the winners are the losers and for the average American, right, left or center who is a decent person and who is not in on any of this, he or she is the ultimate loser as well as millions of innocent people around the world whose lives are being destroyed by these policies too.

Press TV: The fact, Mark Dankof, that this lack of admittance by the parties regarding these serious issues, of course unemployment perhaps based on some analysts ranks at the top of the list but looking at the quality of life in the United States, I’m sure you’ve heard for the past four weeks now there is some high profile shootings that have taken place by the Empire State Building; there was one in Old Bridge in New Jersey, prior to that again in New York City there was a man that was running around with a knife and four weeks in a row not to mention what happened in Chicago.

And of course these are the ones that are getting reported. I mean these issues got to get addressed and perhaps the Occupy movement is one of the best portrayals of many different areas that Americans have disgruntled to say the least. Why aren’t these, either the incumbent Obama or Mitt Romney addressing Occupy movement topics?

Dankof: Well, I think your other guests have already answered that question better than I. When you look at the people who bankroll them, who own them and who own their parties, it’s very obvious why they are not addressing these kinds of issues.

When it comes to these recent shootings in the United States as I argued on the Fars News Agency Program quite some time ago and subsequently on Press TV, I personally believe that the biggest problem in the United States is that the drug and sexual revolutions of the 1960s have produced a level of family destruction and a level of immorality and violence in the United States that now taken in conjunction with this economic downturn has produced an increasing climate of lawlessness and an increasing climate of anarchy in hate, in desperation that I think has facilitated many of these tragedies.

The truly frightening thing to me is that I fully suspect that there is going to be a major diversionary tactic undertaken either by Barack Obama or by Mitt Romney, depending on who the big handlers are going to decide is in fact going to win this election in November.

The fact of the matter is the diversionary tactic is going to be in my view a lighter war in the Middle East, whether there is a false flag incident in the United States or in the Persian Gulf, it gets started, the fact of the matter is that since they have no answers for the average American in regard to the economy, in regard to jobs, in regard to deficits, in regard to societal and cultural disintegration degeneracy, the one thing that they can offer is a diversionary war using a diversionary issue just as 9/11 I argue was used for that.

In 2001 we are going to see a bigger version of that this time in this country or abroad to get us on the next phase of this insane policy of being involved in these ongoing imperial wars in the Middle East whereas as your other guests have already pointed out the winners in that will be the winners that we always see in these wars and that’s the bankers.

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Nazi ‘Price tag’ vandals consistently escape prosecution

NOVANEWS

Latrun Monastery arson joins dozens of similar cases in past few years, but hardly any indictments have been filed. Yesha Council chairman blames Shin Bet

ynet

Hate messages, arson and no indictments: Dozens of “price tag” acts, which have taken place in the past few years, have resulted in just a few indictments in what has been described by Yesha Council chairman as a “complete failure by the Shin Bet.”

The investigation of the Latrun Monastery arson case, which is being handled by the polcie’s International Crimes Unit, may lead to a different outcome, but the data reveals an obvious trend.

Among the most notable cases are the mosque arson in Beit Fajr in October 2011, the raid on the Binyamin Spatial Brigade and mosque arsons in the villages of Qusra and Burqa earlier last year.

Similar incidents were also recorded in the past three months in Neve Shalom, Kafr Jaba and Jelazon. No indictments or arrests were made. In fact, only a small number of indictments have been filed in relation to “price tag” incidents in the past few years, in sharp contrast to the growing scope of the phenomenon itself.

While Rightist elements strongly condemned the Latrun arson as well as the “price tag” phenomenon in general, they also pointed fingers at Israel’s security forces.

“It’s unacceptable that the Shin Bet produces zero indictments and 100% failures,” Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan charged.

Considered by many as the settlers’ main representative, Dayan added that “this corrupt phenomenon has followed us for years.”

He further added: “There have been at least seven cases of mosque arsons, countless car arsons, including those of police cars, the throwing of stones, firebombs and hate messages. It’s inconceivable that our glorified Shin Bet cannot handle these groups of thugs.”

“One can count the indictments on one hand and still have fingers left. It creates a feeling of impunity and also gives way for conspiracy theories.”

Considered a moderate among the settlers, Dayan admitted that the settler leaders’ silence throughout the years served to encourage the vandals. He added that the method of restraining orders is not effective. “It’s time that the Shin Bet produces results.”

Easy targets

Churches and monasteries have long become a favored target for “price tag” vandals, but the heads of the Catholic Church in Israel fail to see the link between Migron and the Latrun Monastery. “It’s an easy target that makes no sense,” a source told Ynet.

The Council of Bishops in Israel, to which the Latrun Monastery belongs to and which represent that Latin Church, denounced the act.

Father David Neuhaus, a Jesuit Catholic priest who serves as the Patriarchal Vicar, expressed his concern, as well: “This series of events, which has been going on for month, where Christian sites are being targeted.

“We have to ask what’s going on and why would someone who seeks revenge over the government policy on Migron or other settlements would think they have the right to attack Christians.

“The Latrun Monastery has prayers services in French and the monks learn Hebrew so they can be respectful towards Israeli visitors,” he stressed.

Acting Jerusalem Police Chief Manny Yitzhaki told Ynet that “There are various individuals involved. We are sparing no effort in the investigation, on both the district and national levels, to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

“I wouldn’t say this was an escalation, but this is a very serious event meant to harm the fabric of relation with this sector.”

“People are naturally shaken and afraid, because (‘price tag’) acts are now everywhere,” a source at the Interior Ministry’s Religious Denominations department told Ynet.

“The heads of the communities speak of an overall uneasy feeling. We’re very worried about this because it’s getting worse. This has to be dealt with both though education as well as punitively,” he said.

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A Major Failure by Washington

NOVANEWS

A Blast From the Past: The Non-Aligned Movement

By Eric Margolis

This week’s Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference in Tehran brought nostalgic memories of the Cold War and world-bestriding leaders like Nehru, Nasser, Castro, Nkrumah, and Sukarno. However, most of them were disasters for their nations, but they certainly were colorful and interesting.

In spite of intense efforts by the US and Israel to deter attendance at the Tehran meeting – backed by a wave of western media attacks on the conclave – over 150 nations and international bodies attended.

This big turnout marked a major failure by Washington to further tighten its siege of Iran. Of particular note was the presence of India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh. India refused to bow to US pressure to boycott the event and announced future energy, trade and transport deals with Tehran.

Iran plays a key role in India’s plans to expand its influence over Afghanistan and Central Asia. India is building a new, strategic rail line linking the Iranian port of Chahbahar to western Afghanistan. Iran supplies over 11% of India’s fast-growing demand for energy. Delhi increasingly worries about the security of its Mideast energy imports.

As I wrote a decade ago in my first book, War at the Top of the World, the US and India may one day become rivals for Mideast oil and gas resources – and, indeed, for control of the Gulf. India’s refusal to go along with US policy further underlines the gradual shift to Asia of the world’s center of strategic and economic gravity.

To Washington’s further annoyance, Egypt’s new president, Mohammed Morsi, shrugged off threats of a cut in US aid and flew to Tehran. Under the 30-year Mubarak dictatorship, Egypt had been a bulwark against Iran. But no more. The increasingly assertive, independent Morsi made clear that Egypt would follow its own foreign policy interests rather than those of the US and Israel, as in the past.

Morsi has surprised just about everyone. When he stumbled into power earlier this year he was regarded as a plodding nobody, selected by the all-powerful military to do its bidding and not make trouble. The Muslim Brotherhood leader, a former space engineer, threw off his cloak of humility and quickly proceeded to muzzle Egypt’s bullying US-backed military, the key to US domination of Egypt for the past 40 years.

How Morsi pulled this off without facing a military coup remains a mystery. But he certainly had the backing of most Egyptians. It took Turkey’s Islamist Lite government a decade to push the swaggering generals back to their barracks and bring real democracy.

The Egyptian leader stunned everyone by openly blasting the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, calling for its replacement by an elected, democratic government. Egyptian intervention in the bloody Syrian conflict may help pave a way to a peaceful settlement. It could also rekindle ancient Egyptian-Syrian rivalry for leadership of the Arab world.

In spite of issuing dulcet banalities about Egypt’s turn to democracy, Washington is extremely unhappy with Egypt’s newly elected government. Egypt will no longer be a discreet defender and ally of Israel, as under Mubarak, but a rival power that genuinely demands a Palestinian state and sees no reason to confront Iran or other US foes.

The US is responding to Egypt’s newfound independence by muttering about cuts to its annual $1.3 billion donations to Egypt’s military and millions more in secret payments. However, the Saudis and Gulf Arabs are lending cash-strapped Cairo $3 billion and the US-run IMF another $4.8 billion in loans. Interestingly, President Morsi just visited China where he received pledges of aid.

In past years, most non-aligned conferences, whose objective was to find a middle way between the West and Soviet Empire, produced only hot air, often quite anti-American. As America’s world power declines after the loss of two wars and deep recession, the NAM meeting in Tehran maybe a step, albeit small, towards moving away from today’s unipolar world towards a more balanced, equitable international system.

Iran’s supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei loosed a Parthian Shaft at the summit’s end. He called the United Nations Security Council outdated, unbalanced, and an instrument of the western powers. Khamenei called for a major reform of the world institution. Few delegates disagreed with him.

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia. ericmargolis.com

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Russia: Syria Rebels’ Airport Threat ‘Unacceptable’

NOVANEWS

Russia: Syria Rebels’ Airport Threat ‘Unacceptable’

en.rian.ru

Russia said on Monday it would work with other countries to ensure that the rebel Free Syria Army stops making “unacceptable” threats, following the announcement on Friday that the FSA now views Syria’s two biggest civil airports as “military targets,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said on its website.

“These kinds of threats are absolutely unacceptable,” the Foreign Ministry commentary said.

“They are a gross violation of international law, first and foremost the Chicago Convention of 1944 governing international civil aviation,” it said, and called on countries that have influence with the FSA to put an end to the threats.

The FSA earlier warned airlines to suspend service to Damascus and Aleppo, saying rebel forces could begin attacking airports in the two cities as early as Tuesday, the London-based daily Asharq Alawsat reported on Friday, citing the FSA’s high command.

“The civil airports of Damascus and Aleppo may become targets of FSA attacks beginning on Tuesday next week, since they are being used by the criminal regime for military aviation to carry out strikes against Syrian rebels,” the report said.

The Syrian air force was forced to begin using civil airports due to a string of successful rebel attacks on military bases, including one on an airfield near Idlib that destroyed 10 military planes, it said.

But the Russian Foreign Ministry said the rebels are approaching a “red line, beyond which lie actions that in no way differ from the crimes of Al-Qaeda.”

Full responsibility for such “terror attacks” would be borne by the FSA and “its enablers,” the commentary said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov wrote on his Twitter account on Saturday that the FSA’s threat was the product of “irresponsible” deliveries of portable surface-to-air missiles to rebel forces.

Simultaneously with the threat of attacks on civil airports, the Foreign Ministry advised Russians not to travel to Syria and advised Russians already in Syria to find the safest available routes out of the country.

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Entangled With IsraHell

NOVANEWS

Shutterstock.com / ruskpp

A guarantee of support for a strike against Iran overlooks the lessons of the First World War.

Phillip Giraldi

Israel’s attempt to steer American foreign policy has been nowhere more evident than in the sustained campaign to move the United States in the direction of war with Iran, a war that serves no American interest unless one believes that Tehran is willing to spend billions of dollars to develop a nuclear weapon only to hand off the result to a terrorist group.

The most recent overtures by the Israeli government have pushed the United States to make a declaration that negotiations with Iran have failed and will not be continued. For Israel, this is a necessary first step towards an American military intervention, as failed negotiations mean there is no way out of the impasse but by war, if the Iranians do not unilaterally concede on every disputed point.

Two recent op-eds have elaborated the argument, promoting the necessity of convincing the Israelis that the United States is absolutely serious about using military force against Iran if the Iranians seek to retain any capacity to enrich uranium. One might note in passing that this new red line, sometimes also called the abstract “capability” to create a nuclear weapon, has been achieved by moving the goal posts back considerably. At one time Iran was threatened with a military response if it actually acquired a nuclear weapon (which is still the official position of the Obama administration), but earlier benchmarks within that policy saying that enrichment should not exceed 20 percent or that the enrichment should not take place on Iranian soil have been abandoned in favor of what now amounts to zero tolerance. Those who note that Iran, which is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is under IAEA inspection, has a clear legal right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes have been ignored in favor of those who believe that Iran is somehow a special case.

On August 17, the Washington Post and The New York Times featured op-eds explaining why the United States must do more to convince Israel not to attack Iran this year. Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israel’s military intelligence who is believed to be close to the country’s political leadership, argued in the Post that Obama must basically convince the Israelis that he will use force against Iran if sanctions do not convince the country’s leadership to abandon enrichment of nuclear fuel. Over at the Times, Dennis Ross, a former senior U.S. diplomat who has been described as Israel’s lawyer, made pretty much the same arguments. Both advocated giving Israel refueling tankers and special munitions that would enable an attack on Iran to be more effective, thereby widening the window of opportunity for sanctions to work, in light of Israeli arguments that hardened Iranian sites might soon be invulnerable to attack. Ross advocates giving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively a blank check, asking him what he will need to attack Iran and granting the Israeli government commitments for a full range of U.S. military support. Both Yadlin and Ross argue that it is necessary to create the conditions for Israel to delay a possible attack until 2013. As Yadlin puts it, “if the United States wants Israel to give sanctions and diplomacy more time, Israelis must know that they will not be left high and dry if these options fail.”

Assuming that Ross and Yadlin are speaking for the Israeli government, which is almost certainly the case, Israel is essentially demanding a commitment from Washington to attack Iran unless the issue of Iran’s ability to enrich uranium is resolved through negotiation or through Iranian surrender of that right. In return, Israel will not attack Iran before the American election. So in effect, Washington would be promising to fight a war later if Israel does not start one now.

Israel knows it cannot successfully attack Iran unilaterally and must have the United States along to do the heavy lifting. It also knows that the threat to attack Iran before the election is a powerful weapon, with neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama welcoming such a potentially game-changing diversion from their debate on the economy and jobs.

Critics like Arnaud de Borchgrave have correctly noted that many former generals and intelligence officers in the United States and Israel have, in fact, decided that the basic premise is wrong. Iran does not pose a threat that could not be contained even if it does some day make the political decision to obtain a crude nuclear device. Launching a new war in the Middle East to prevent it from doing so would create “mayhem” throughout the region, guarantee a breakdown in Egypt-Israel relations, and create a perfect breeding ground for the civil war in Syria to spill out and lead to turmoil among all of its neighbors. American ships in the Persian Gulf would be attacked, unrest in Bahrain would turn to revolution, and the Palestinians would stage a new intifada. Israel would be bombarded from Lebanon and from Iran. Gas prices would soar, economic recovery would stall worldwide, and European nations now struggling to deal with unprecedented unemployment levels would watch the eurozone collapse before the rage of hundreds of thousands protesters in the streets. Americans would again become the targets of international terrorism.

And there is another serious objection to going along with the Israeli government’s thinking. Israel is by its own volition not an ally of the United States in any technical sense because alliances are troublesome things that require rules of engagement and reciprocity, limiting the partners’ ability to act independently. If Israel obtains a virtual commitment from the United States to go to war in 2013, it would mean enjoying the benefits of having a powerful patron to do its fighting without any obligation in return, beyond delaying unilateral military action until a more suitable time. A guarantee from Washington for Israel’s security which still permits unilateral action by Netanyahu is all too reminiscent of the entangling arrangements that led to World War I. The fact that the murder of an Austrian Archduke in the Balkans led to a world war that killed tens of millions was due to promises not unlike what Israel is demanding today.

If the United States commits to unconditional support for an Israeli attack on Iran, it will be a surrender of one of the defining attributes of national sovereignty: the power to choose when and where to go to war. Amos Yadlin suggests at one point that President Obama go to Congress and get approval in advance to take military action “to prevent Iran’s acquisition of a military nuclear capability.” Such a pre-approval for war certainly raises constitutional issues, but it also creates a virtual casus belli because Iran already has the “capability” to enrich uranium for potential military uses. A guarantee precludes any consideration that the United States might actually have an overriding national interest to avoid a war. It denies that the United States should be able to exercise complete sovereignty over the issue of Iran, and it also freezes the status quo, as if new ways of looking at the problem of the Iranian nuclear program could not evolve over the next few months.

Washington should make no commitment to anyone about what it will do vis-à-vis Iran in 2013 no matter what inducements are offered. As the 19th-century British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston put it, “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.” Let America’s actual interests dictate U.S. foreign policy.

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Christian monastery near Jerusalem vandalized, door set on fire

NOVANEWS

A priest walks between graffiti reading in Hebrew, “Jesus is a monkey” (L), which was sprayed on the wall of the Christian monastery near Jerusalem, September 4, 2012. Photo by AFP

haaretz.com

The door of a Christian monastery in Latrun, near Jerusalem, was set on fire on Tuesday morning, and anti-Christian slogans were found spray-painted on the monastery’s walls.

The arson and graffiti are suspected to be a “price tag” attack, following the recent evacuation of Migron, a settlement outpost in the West Bank.

Monks residing at the monastery noticed the burning door on Tuesday morning, and called police after extinguishing the flames. Graffiti sprayed on the monastery walls included the words “Migron,” and “Jesus is a monkey.”

One of the monks that resides at the monastery claimed that the acts of vandalism and arson are the first such acts of their kind in the monastery’s 122 year history.

The Jerusalem Police’s central unit has opened an investigation into the incident.

Baruch Marzel, a right-wing activist, connected the attack to the evacuation of Migron. “We said that evacuating Migron could fan the flames. There’s an entire community that feels very bitter,” said Marzel.

“Price tag” attacks are generally carried out by West Bank settlers and their supporters against Palestinian targets, often in retaliation for moves against settlements

Israel’s Reform movement leader denounced the attack. “The attack on the monastery is additional proof that Israeli society is experiencing a wave of racism,” he said.

Kadima MK Nachman Shai also condemned the attack. “The attack on the Latrun monastery is an ugly, despicable act, which reflects the religious extremism that exists in the Jewish state.”

The incident is the first “price tag” attack to take place at the monastery. Roughly three months ago, racist graffiti was found at the nearby Jewish-Arab town of Neve Shalom. Then, the tires of 14 cars parked along the town’s main road were slashed, and slogans such as “death to Arabs,” “revenge,” and “Ulpana outpost,” were found sprayed on the vehicles.

In February, similar anti-Christian graffiti was found sprayed on the walls of the Greek church at a monastery in Jerusalem’s Valley of the Cross, and a Baptist Church in central Jerusalem. In both incidents, the graffiti included phrases such as “Jesus is dead,” “Death to Christians,” “Mary is a prostitute,” and “price tag.”

Vandals desecrate Latrun Monastery

Door of Christian holy site torched; ‘Jesus is a monkey’, names of West Bank outposts spray-painted on walls. ‘Whoever did this has no God,’ says monastery guard. Police launch investigation

ynet

Vandals set fire to the entrance door of the Latrun Monastery early Tuesday and spray-painted slogans against the Christian religion on its walls, including names of West Bank outposts and “Jesus is a monkey”.

The Jerusalem District Police launched an investigation into the incident.

The monastery’s wooden door caught fire. The abbot, Father Louie, told Ynet: “At around 3:30 am, a monk sleeping in one of the guest rooms heard a noise, went outside and saw the door burning. He entered our rooms and began shouting and waking us up.

“I went outside and saw the entire door on fire. He put out the fire with an extinguisher we had. If he hadn’t done that, everything would have caught fire.”

Names of outposts on monastery’s walls (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

The monastery’s guard, Elias, called the police. “I didn’t see anything,” he said. “At around 3:30 am I drove by and didn’t see anything suspicious. Ten minutes later I saw the door on fire and the graffiti.

“I’m sure that whoever did it came from the olive grove because the gate isn’t high there and one can easily jump over it. Unfortunately, there are no security cameras here.”

The monks appeared very offended by the incident.

“I know there is some tension, but I don’t understand why it has to do with us,” said Father Louie. “We’re Christians and we have nothing to do with it. We try to do everything with love. We are saddened by this incident. It’s a shame that some people are unwilling to live with and accept people who are different.”

Latrun Monastery (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

Acting Jerusalem District Police Commander Meni Yitzhaki visited the monastery on Tuesday morning.

“We’ve appointed a special investigation team to look into the incident,” he said. “We are taking it very seriously and view it as extremely severe. This is the reason I have come here. We’ll catch the vandals and handle the situation with other security elements. We are very sorry about this incident.”

“This monastery has many visitors,” noted the guard, Elias. “People come in all the time. The monks go to sleep early and no one noticed a thing. Whoever did this has no God, they just say they do.”

The police have been preparing for “price tag” actions by extreme right-wing activists, which are usually directed at Palestinians, following the evacuation of the West Bank outpost of Migron in recent days.

The targeting of a Christian symbol has the potential of making waves in the Western world, which is widely covering the situation in Jerusalem and its surroundings.

This isn’t the first time a Christian site has been the target of such an operation. In February, vandals daubed “Death to Christianity” on a Jerusalem church and slashed the tires of three vehicles parked nearby.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Christian monastery near Jerusalem vandalized, door set on fire

Is Palestine a lost cause?

NOVANEWS

By Alan Hart

Alan Hart outlines a strategy for saving the Palestinian cause from extinction: making Israel accountable for its occupation by dissolving the quisling Palestinian Authority and exposing Zionism’s propaganda, and mobilizing Palestinians everywhere to engage by peaceful and democratic means in the struggle to end the Zionization of their homeland.

A long version of the question “Is Palestine a lost cause?” would be something like this:

Given that in the 46th year of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank Jewish settlers are continuing to consolidate their hold on the territory’s land and water resources by stealing more and more of both, thus demonstrating not only Zionism’s contempt for international law but, also, that the only peace Israel’s leaders are interested in is one that requires a complete Palestinian surrender to Zionism’s will, is there any real prospect, in any foreseeable future, of justice for the Palestinians?

Two-state non-solution and ethnic cleansing

It is probably still the case that, in the name of Arafat-like pragmatism, a majority of the oppressed Palestinians would regard the establishment of a state of their own on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem its capital as an acceptable minimum amount of justice.

They are, of course, fully aware that in such a scenario the right of return for those dispossessed of their land and their rights in 1948 and again in 1967 would have to be limited to return to the territory of the Palestinian mini-state, which would mean, because of the lack of space, that only a relatively small number of the dispossessed Palestinians and their descendants would be able to return. (Arafat and his leadership colleagues calculated that initially not more than 100,000 would be able to return.) The rest would have to settle for financial compensation.

“Though not yet buried, the two-state solution has long been dead, killed by Israel’s colonization with the complicity of the major powers and, by default, the regimes of an impotent Arab order.”

Beyond that the Palestinians of a mini-state would entertain the hope, as Arafat did when he persuaded the institutions of Palestinian decision-making to accept the need for unthinkable compromise with Israel (peace with it in return for only 22 per cent of their land, thus legitimizing Israel’s occupation of the other 78 per cent) that a genuine two-state solution could lead in one or two generations to one state by mutual consent. In that event there would be greater scope for more diaspora Palestinians to exercise their right of return.

But it isn’t going to happen. Though not yet buried, the two-state solution has long been dead, killed by Israel’s colonization with the complicity of the major powers and, by default, the regimes of an impotent Arab order. As I document in detail in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, the Arab regimes never had any intention of fighting Israel to liberate Palestine or using the leverage they have to press the US to require Israel to end its occupation of land grabbed in 1967.

As I also reveal in my book, the most explicit statement about why the two-state solution has long been dead was made to me in early 1980 by Shimon Peres. He was then the leader of Israel’s Labour Party, in opposition and hoping to win Israel’s next election and deny Menachem Begin a second term in office as prime minister. I was then acting as the linkman in a secret and exploratory dialogue between Peres and Arafat. At a point in our very first conversation for this initiative, Peres said that he feared it was “already too late”. I asked him why. He replied:

Every day that passes sees new bricks on new settlements. Begin knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s creating the conditions for a Jewish civil war. He knows that no Israeli prime minister is going down in history as the one who gave the order to the Jewish army to shoot large numbers of Jews [to end the occupation. Pause.] I’m not.

Obvious question. If it was too late in 1980 when there were only about 70,000 illegal Jewish settlers on the occupied West Bank, including Arab East Jerusalem, how much more too late is it today when they number in excess of 500,000, with that number rising on an almost daily basis, thanks in large part to funding assistance from America’s Christian fundamentalists?

In passing, it is interesting to note that the US State Department has now defined Israeli settler violence against Palestinians as “terrorism”.

It is now clear beyond any doubt that the most any Zionist leadership will offer the Palestinians for peace is a maximum of 35-40 per cent of the West Bank (the Sharon plan) in the shape of two, three or fourbantustans which the Palestinians could call a state if they wished. This is and always will be totally unacceptable to all Palestinians.

“As things are and look like going, I believe the course is set for a final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine.”

As things are and look like going, I believe the course is set for a final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

I mean that when Israel’s leaders conclude that their policy of making life hell for the occupied Palestinians in the hope of causing them to abandon their struggle and leave in large numbers has failed, and that they can’t bring on a puppet Palestinian leader who will force his people to accept crumbs from Zionism’s table, they will create a pretext to drive the Palestinians off the West Bank and into Jordan or wherever. One possible pretext could come about with a classic false flag operation – Mossad agents posing as Palestinian terrorists to plant bombs and kill Israeli Jews.

What about the Palestinians of the blockaded Gaza Strip? According to the latest UN report, it will not be “a liveable place” by 2020 unless action is taken to improve basic services in the territory. My guess is that, in Zionism’s plan for the future, the Gaza Strip’s Palestinians will be left to sink deeper and deeper into poverty, misery and despair in the hope – Zionism’s hope – that this will eventually cause large numbers of them to flee and seek a new life elsewhere. If that doesn’t happen, Israel’s leaders will have the option of creating a pretext for a Gaza Strip ethnic cleansing operation by military means.

After months of reflection, my conclusion is not only that the Zionist state of Israel is a monster beyond control but that Palestine IS a lost cause UNLESS… The main purpose of this article is to put some flesh on the bone of what I see as the “unless scenario”.

In it there are two initiatives for the Palestinians themselves to take.

Strategy for salvation

Dissolving the Palestinian Authority

The first is to demand and insist upon the dissolution of the impotent and discredited Palestinian Authority (PA) in order to make Israel completely responsible and therefore fully accountable for its occupation.

Palestinian woman holding hands in air in despair

Without the PA’s American-trained security forces to keep the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank (Hamas supporters especially) under control for Israel, having to take complete responsibility for occupation would be costly financially and in terms of the additional call on Israel’s own security resources.

More to the point, if the Zionist (not Jewish) state had complete responsibility for the occupation, calling and holding it to account for its defiance of international law and its occupation policies would be, in theory, less than what it is at present – a mission impossible

But if theory is to be turned into practise, something very significant has to happen.

Only governments can call and hold Zionism to account for its crimes, but they won’t act unless they are pushed to do so by informed public opinion. The problem, as I never tire of saying and writing, is that public opinion, in the U.S. especially, is too uninformed – too conditioned by Zionist propaganda – to do the pushing in big enough numbers. So here’s the question: With the mainstream media unwilling to come to grips with the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel, how can the citizens of nations be informed and empowered to do the pushing in big enough numbers?

Universal lobby for Palestinian rights

There are hundreds of groups of all faiths and none around the world which call and campaign for justice for the Palestinians, but (generally speaking) they are each and all doing their own little things in isolation, which makes them like flies to be swatted away by Zionism. In that light, I think the informing to mobilize public opinion to push governments can only be done if groups of all faiths and none everywhere which call and campaign for justice for the Palestinians collaborate and form one (Zionist-like) universal lobby. The internet makes the necessary collaboration and coordination perfectly possible.

The strategy of a universal lobby for Palestinian rights should be determined by asking and answering one question. Why, really, has Zionism succeeded to date?

The short answer is its success in selling propaganda lies about the making and sustaining of the conflict as truth; an amazing achievement that was assisted by having the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust to play as a blackmail card.

It follows, or so it seems to me, that the first priority of a coordinated, universal lobbying campaign for justice for the Palestinians should be to present in forums and on platforms of every kind the documented evidence which exposes Zionism’s propaganda lies for the nonsense they are.

Four of the many essential truths to be communicated are:

  • That almost all if not all the Jews who went to Palestine in answer to Zionism’s call had no biological connection whatsoever to the ancient Hebrews and therefore no claim on the land;
  • That Israel was created mainly by Zionist terrorism and ethnic cleansing;
  • That Israel’s existence has never been threatened by any combination of Arab force – i.e. Israel has not lived in constant danger of annihilation, the “driving into the sea” of its Jews; and
  • That it was Israel not the Arabs which closed the door to prospects for peace time and time again.

I am assuming (am I guilty of wishful thinking?) that if the citizens of nations, Westerners especially and Americans in particular, were aware of the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining of the conflict, they would insist that their governments called the Zionist monster to account – not only for the sake of justice for the Palestinians but also to best protect the interests of all, including the Jews of the world…

Now to the second initiative the Palestinians could and, in my view, should take if they are to play their part in preventing Palestine becoming a lost cause.

Engaging the Palestinian diaspora

“…if the Zionist colonial project is to be contained and defeated, the incredible, almost superhuman steadfastness of the occupied and oppressed Palestinians must be supplemented by practical, effective and coordinated Palestinian diaspora action.”

Obviously, the dissolution of the PA will only happen if enough Palestinians demand it. But in my view it’s not only the occupied and oppressed Palestinians who need to do the demanding. In my view, it’s time for Palestinians everywhere to become engaged by peaceful and democratic means in the struggle to end the Zionization of their homeland. Put another way, if the Zionist colonial project is to be contained and defeated, the incredible, almost superhuman steadfastness of the occupied and oppressed Palestinians must be supplemented by practical, effective and coordinated Palestinian diaspora action. For what purpose?

Not only to bring about the dissolution of the PA but to have it replaced as soon as possible by a restructured and reinvigorated Palestine National Council (PNC). Once upon a time this now sidelined parliament-in-exile represented Palestinians nearly everywhere in the world and was the supreme decision-making body on the Palestinian side. Even Arafat was accountable to it…

For the PNC to be brought back to life restructured and reinvigorated there would have to be elections to it in communities throughout the Palestinian diaspora.

The composition of the Palestinian diaspora by countries and numbers of Palestinians resident in them is roughly the following: Jordan – 2,900,000; Israel – 1,600,000; Syria – 800,000; Chile – 500,000; Lebanon – 490,000; Saudi Arabia – 280,245; Egypt – 270,245; United States – 270,000; Honduras –250,000; Venezuela – 245,120; United Arab Emirates – 170,000; Germany –159,000; Mexico – 158,000; Qatar – 100,000; Kuwait – 70,000; El Salvador – 70,000 Brazil – 59,000; Iraq – 57,000; Yemen – 55,000; Canada – 50,975; Australia – 45,000; Libya – 44,000; Denmark – 32,152; United Kingdom – 30,000; Sweden – 25,500; Peru – 20,000; Columbia – 20,000; Spain – 12,000; Pakistan – 10,500; Netherlands – 9,000; Greece – 7,500; Norway – 7,000; France – 5,000; Guatemala – 3,500; Austria – 3,000; Switzerland – 2,000; Turkey – 1,000; and India – 300.

The prime task of a restructured and reinvigorated PNC would be to debate and determine Palestinian policy and then represent it by speaking to power with one credible voice. That could only assist the task of empowering the citizens of nations with the truth of history.

There is also a joint initiative which a universal lobby for Palestinian rights and a restructured and reinvigorated PNC could embark upon that would of itself be a game changer. Just imagine what would happen if a million or more diaspora Palestinians, other Arabs and peoples of all faiths and none marched peacefully on Greater Israel from Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

I can see only two ways in which any Israeli government could react. It could order the army to shoot to kill in unthinkable numbers – a reaction that would so horrify the world that governments, including the one in Washington DC, would have no choice but to take whatever steps were necessary to bring Zionism’s colonial enterprise to an end; or it, the Israeli government, pushed perhaps by a majority of its own people, could say something like: “We are now ready to be serious about real peace even if the outcome of negotiations is one state for all, provided only that the wellbeing and security of all its citizens,. Arabs and Jews, is guaranteed.”

I have suggested the need for such a march in the past. It really could be organized if the groups of all faiths and none everywhere who call and campaign for justice for the Palestinians put their act together.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Is Palestine a lost cause?

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