Thursday, August 31, 2006


Jewish Chaplain

World War II Jewish chaplain
fought hard for his religion, soldiers

By Michael Feldberg

NEW YORK, Aug. 28 (JTA) — After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, Herbert Eskin of Detroit wanted nothing more than to serve his nation as a Jewish military chaplain. However, the Committee for Army and Navy Religious Affairs of the Jewish Welfare Board, the body that endorsed Jewish clergy for the military, thought Eskin lacked the right stuff.
He was a Russian immigrant, spoke with a bit of an accent, lacked a college degree, had no permanent congregation and, above all, was Orthodox. Military chaplaincy requires rabbis to conduct services for Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jews alike; in some circumstances, they must minister to all personnel regardless of their religion.

In the committee’s view, rabbis in uniform had to make a good impression on non-Jews, and Orthodox immigrants like Eskin made committee leaders apprehensive.

But Eskin would prove them wrong.

For two years, the committee rejected Eskin’s appeals for endorsement. Finally he wore them down with a heartfelt appeal.

“When human blood runs in streams, when our form of government is endangered, and when tens of million Jews are fighting for their very existence, I as a Jewish spiritual leader with competent ability, single, young, and physically fit, must take the initiative” in “maintaining the high morale of the men who are fighting barbarism and paganism,” he wrote.

His eloquence apparently worked. A few months later, the committee endorsed Eskin’s application. The army trained him and, in late August 1944, Eskin joined the 100th Infantry Division in the battle for France.

In January 1945, in an unspecified French village, Eskin discovered a synagogue that the Germans had used as a prison. He found the sacrilege unbearable.

“I requested the Burgomeister, in no uncertain terms,” Eskin reported, “that the synagogue be thoroughly cleaned, washed and locked in order to safeguard it from any further demolition and desecration.”

By spring, Eskin’s rage at German treatment of Jewish sacred spaces boiled over.

“At Fenetrage, France, the local Nazis used Jewish tombstones for a sidewalk in front of the Catholic church,” he wrote. “I drove all the way from Heilbron, Germany to Fenetrage.

“When I asked the priest why he permitted such an atrocity to exist in front of his church eight months after the town was liberated, he could not give me a reasonable answer. I took him to the mayor and ordered both of them to have the tombstones removed to the Jewish cemetery within 24 hours,” Eskin wrote, or he would come back with “a truckload of soldiers” and “blast the town with hand grenades.”

According to Eskin, “the tombstones, including the fragments, were placed in the Jewish cemetery by the specified time.”

Eskin’s report for May 1945 recognizes that his chaplaincy extended well beyond the division’s Jewish spiritual needs.

“I visited the field hospitals daily, and it was in one of those hospitals where a Protestant lad from Iowa by the name of Carl C. Denhartog was confined with a very serious chest wound,” he wrote. “As I approached him, he recognized me and smiled. I took hold of his hand.

“Carl kept on holding my hand, and although his forehead was wet with perspiration, he asked me to cover him up and say a prayer with him.

“I knelt down on my knee and whispered in his ear the 23rd Psalm. He repeated it after me word for word, and I concluded the psalm with, ‘Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.’ ”

Eskin concluded, “Carl could not recover from his injuries, they were too severe. He fought for his life to the very end. He died, still holding on to my hand.”

Eskin describes himself as deeply moved by his experience.

“Here was a devout Christian who knew me as the Jewish chaplain in the division and asked me to say his last prayer with him, and by the same token I, a Jewish rabbi, said the last rites with a Christian, in accordance with his faith. At that moment neither of us felt of having differences nor barriers. In action and in spirit, I sensed our comradeship and demonstrated it in my capacity of an army chaplain.”

Eskin received his discharge from active duty in August 1945. He returned to Port Huron, Mich., where he was hired permanently by a Conservative congregation.

The military asked him to stay on as a stateside chaplain working with wounded GI’s at three hospitals in the Detroit area. Eskin later served at the Dearborn Veterans’ Hospital and Selfridge Air Force Base until he reached mandatory retirement age.

The Jewish community center in Stuttgart, Germany is named in his memory.

hat tip ajg


Gelatin Scandal

There are products with the problematic gelatin which are labeled to warn customers. This should have had been done by the Elite-Strauss company.

Class-action called for in alleged Elite-Strauss kashrut violation

By Anat Roeh

A woman and her daughter petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court Monday to recognize a suit they were filing against Elite-Strauss and the Israeli Chief Rabbinate as a class action. The two, residents of Givat Shmuel, keep kosher.

The grounds for the suit are a claim that some of the company's products - including Milki and Daniella dairy desserts and Ski whipped cream cheese - contain imported gelatin produced from beef bones. According to this claim, the animals from which the gelatin was produced were not certified as kosher.

However, the Chief Rabbinate had marked the products in question as kosher.

The plaintiffs, Tova Nagler and her daughter Revital Nagler Mann, who are from Givat Shmuel, keep kosher. They have asked that their suit represent anyone in Israel who keeps kosher and purchased or consumed these products between 1999 and 2004.

According to the suit, prepared by attorneys Keren Tagar and Chaim Stanger, the plaintiffs are religious women whose beliefs forbid them from eating products that are not kosher under Jewish law or that are not approved as kosher by the Israeli rabbinate. The two women claim that during the years in question they purchased and consumed products that were marked as kosher under the supervision of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate.

The suit alleges that during the period in question, however, the aforementioned products contained gelatin produced from beef bones from animals that had not been certified as kosher, such that, Elite-Strauss and the Chief Rabbinate misled the public.

A Strauss Dairies spokesman told TheMarker that the company had not yet received the court papers, but would respond accordingly when their contents had been studied.


More on Olmert's Connections

Friends in high places

By Gidi Weitz and Uri Blau

"Uri Messer?" exults the businessman Gabriel Sebbag. "He's a brand name. He's the real thing. Pure gold. Takes no money until he issues a receipt, implementation in practice. It's good that we have machers like that." In the same conversation, he explained, "Civil servants, you go to them, it takes you a year. With him, it takes you a month."

Attorney Uri Messer would certainly be happy to forgo the compliments that Sebbag is heaping on him. Messer, who has been close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert since they established a law firm as young attorneys, is used to working in the shadows, quietly, away from the spotlight. Part of his livelihood, the "macher" part, as Sebbag puts it, depends on the goodwill of his good friend, Olmert.

Sebbag, who owns the manpower company ORS and is a former mayor of Dimona, decided, with other investors, to establish an aircraft maintenance plant, in cooperation with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), close to the airfield at Nevatim. "My son [Doron Sebbag], who worked with Messer, told me, 'Come on, there's an expert here through whom you can speed up the whole subject of IAI.' Because IAI made me run around to all the different government ministries."

Messer was, in fact, hired to promote the interests of the Sebbag group. At the time, Olmert was minister of industry and trade and deputy prime minister. Sebbag has only praise for the two former partners, Olmert and Messer, for the quick handling of his requests.

Olmert promoted your project?

Sebbag: "Very much so. Supported it and looked after it. He set up an interministerial committee."

Did the committee do anything?

"Sure. It met and approved the project."

The grateful Sebbag also remembers how Olmert invited him to a Friday meeting in his bureau. "I went to the meeting in Jerusalem alone. I remember that I wore a suit and tie, and Olmert told me, take off the jacket and tie, the office is closed, I wanted to meet with you because I have very high regard for your subject." Messer was also at the meeting. A communique issued 10 days later by the ministry stated that Olmert "directed the experts in the ministry and in the Israel Lands Administration to expedite the preparation of the tender to allocate land for the project."

From the outset Sebbag thought that approaching Messer would help him. "Messer is a contractor," he explains. "You want [to get to] the Investment Center - you go to him, he helps you. That's his job. A civil servant, you go to him, he gives you an answer in another two months. What's their hurry?"

People say he can get things done with Olmert.

"Okay, he worked with him in his firm. They were partners in a law firm. He also has access to the Investment Center. He's an expert. Everyone has his own expertise."

Did you feel that it was easy to get to the Industry and Trade Ministry through him?

"Yes. If there was a positive response from IAI, he would move everything ahead: obtaining land, rezoning agricultural land into industrial land."

That's because of the connections?
"Skills. Why do you say connections? Skills. He doesn't get more than the law states, but he speeds it up. That's natural. You're a journalist with Haaretz, and through you I can arrange quickly to write an article in Haaretz. And I deal in manpower - through me you can get work for your girlfriend tomorrow."

Sebbag was not the only entrepreneur who benefited from the friendship of Messer and Olmert. An investigative report by Haaretz Magazine found that during Olmert's tenure as industry and trade minister and as board chairman of Israel Lands Administration (ILA), he worked to advance Messer's interests after the latter provided him with various services for years. Olmert, as the article shows, pushed the ministry's Investment Center and other bodies under his authority to invest millions of shekels in state funds in Messer's clients, even when the ministry's experts objected.

Since the trial of Shimon Sheves, things have been clear. (Sheves, who was director general of the Prime Minister's Office during Yitzhak Rabin's second term as prime minister, was accused of having taken steps to expedite and advance a tender dealing with construction. He was acquitted by reason of doubt by the Supreme Court in January 2003. The state attorney at the time, Edna Arbel, now a Supreme Court justice, appealed and in January 2004 the Supreme Court overturned its previous decision and convicted Sheves.)

According to the court and to the rules of the Asher Commission to prevent conflicts of interest, Olmert was barred from dealing with his friend's business matters. He should have reported to the state comptroller before starting to handle requests that Messer sought to move ahead through him (see box). Even if there was the slightest doubt, he should have gone to the attorney general and asked for guidelines as to whether to transfer the matter to a different minister or at least to make a decision together with another minister. Olmert did not do that.

Messer-Olmert-Zaken & Partners

Messer and Olmert met in the mid-1970s in the law firm of Uzi Atzmon. In 1977 they left Atzmon's firm together with attorney Baruch Adler and also took the secretary, Shula Zaken. The law firm of Ehud Olmert & Partners came into being. Olmert left the firm in 1988, but to this day Messer and Zaken are the two central figures in his political life. The three are heart-and-soul friends.

Messer, 55, was born in Haifa but over the years became an integral part of the Jerusalem judicial elite. His wife, Davida Lachman-Messer, is a deputy attorney general. Messer's office is far more modest than the ornate places of some of his Tel Aviv colleagues. He will not be caught smoking a Cuban cigar or wearing a suit that cost thousands of dollars.

Messer takes part in the prime minister's intimate forums, which correspond to Ariel Sharon's "ranch forum." Last week Olmert invited him to a discussion in his home with his closest advisers about creating a commission to examine the second Lebanon war.

At the same time, Messer is also Olmert's lawyer in private real estate deals. A few months ago, he testified before the state comptroller in the affair of Olmert's purchase of a home on Cremieux Street in Jerusalem's trendy German Colony neighborhood. According to the investigative journalist Yoav Yitzhak, Olmert allegedly was given a large discount on the price from the entrepreneurs in return for advancing a stalled project through his connections in the Jerusalem Municipality. The matter is still under investigation.

The services that Messer has provided to Olmert are not confined to buying or selling homes. Since 1998 Messer has headed an association called United Jerusalem, which ran Olmert's campaign for mayor, and dealt, on a volunteer basis, with the association's affairs, donations and financial deficits. Given the fees that a lawyer like Messer charges his clients, the services he provided to Olmert within the association framework are worth a great deal. Messer continued to operate in the name of this association even after Olmert became industry and trade minister, in 2003. He sent letters and economic reports on its behalf to the registrar of associations.

"Uri and Ehud are really close," says a person who knows them both. "Uri dealt with Ehud's most sensitive political affairs: the association for his election, the donations. They are intimate partners to secrets."

The Haaretz investigation found that before Olmert became industry and trade minister, Messer had nothing to do with previous ministers there. After Olmert became minister, Messer began to visit the ministry as a lobbyist for businessmen and industrialists. "Three years ago we hardly knew who he was," a senior ministry official says. "But look what happened in the period when Olmert was industry and trade minister."

In some cases the two, Olmert and his loyalist Messer, took part in the same meetings, without any of those present being bothered by the possible conflict of interests. "Messer wandered around the ministry plenty of times," says a senior official there. "The officials always had an uneasy feeling about dealing with his affairs."

How did it work in practice?

"The method is simple," another official says. "As soon as a difficulty arises having to so with the ministry's bureaucracy, one turns to Mr. Messer, tell him that so-and-so is the problem, get on the case. Apart from him no one gets treatment like that, certainly not ... When a company has a problem in connection with the ministry, Messer sits with them and says, 'Don't worry, I'll take care of it for you.'"

What sort of 'taking care'?

"Everything, everything. Problems with the directors, with the units, in the bureau of the minister or the director general, with the Investment Center. If the state comptroller investigates it, he'll find much that is interesting here."

A $25 million decision

Just a few kilometers from Dimona, in the heart of the desert, the dream of the Be'er Sheva entrepreneur Ephraim (Pima) Feinblum is being realized. Feinblum dreamed about building a factory to produce silica, a material used mainly to manufacture "green" tires for vehicles. The experts in the industry and trade ministry were not persuaded of the economic feasibility of that dream, but it is going to cost the state $15 million.

For a decade, Feinblum, formerly chairman of Mekorot, the national water company, fought a legal battle against Israel Chemicals Ltd. over the production of silica. In 2001 arbitration between the sides concluded with Israel Chemicals agreeing to pay Feinblum millions of dollars (a loan with no returns, Feinblum says) if he were to receive from the Industry and Trade Ministry an "approved plant" citation within three years. The deadline was set for February 2004.

At the beginning of 2003, Feinblum submitted a request to the Investment Center for financial grants for a factory to be built in Dimona. One of the strongest government bodies in the economic sphere, the Investment Center deals with the intention of entrepreneurs to establish or expand industries in development areas. The status of an approved plant gives the entrepreneur tax benefits and grants of millions of shekels from the state.

One of the key criteria examined by the Investment Center is the economic feasibility of a project. The Investment Center is supposed to ensure that the state's funds will not be put at risk in wild-eyed adventures of failed businessmen or be turned over to crooks in sting operations. In the past the state invested huge sums in plants that the entrepreneurs never intended to build in the first place.

According to Feinblum, his plan encountered opposition from the expert level in the Industry and Trade Ministry. The director of the ministry's unit for chemicals and the environment, Ohad Ornstein, a leading professional authority in the field, raised many objections to providing the grants for the silica plant, and to this day he remains completely unconvinced of its economic viability.

Ornstein, who is considered a professional civil servant and served under other ministers as well, argued, in part, that there is no proved market for the plant's product. "In one of the meetings I got upset with him, because he doesn't understand anything about chemistry," Feinblum recalls. "He repeated that the material doesn't work and that it can't be sold and so on ... It's the first time I had difficulties like this in establishing a plant."

Ornstein declined to be interviewed for this article, but Haaretz Magazine has learned that he was backed by the Investment Center director at the time, Shmuel Mordechai. According to Feinblum, if it had been up to Ornstein and Mordechai, the plant would not have been authorized. When Feinblum realized that his life's project (and the millions from Israel Chemicals) were both liable to go down the tubes, he made no secret of his anger.

On one occasion, he also told Ornstein that he should be fired. Feinblum: "He told me, 'Run to the ministers, try to do something.' I told him that if I had to go to the ministers, I would have no need of his approval. I would get it anyway." In a visit we paid to Dimona, Feinblum told us that on another occasion he told Shmuel Mordechai, "You just think I can't open doors to get to the minister."

Feinblum found the key to the minister's door in the person of Uri Messer. Feinblum: "I have known Messer for a long time ... He helped me explain the importance of the project, that's all." Afterward he added, "He does work for me - speeding up a meeting, coming with me to a meeting."

He could arrange meetings with Olmert faster than other people could?

Feinblum: "Yes, but is there anything wrong with that?"

After hiring Messer, Feinblum was treated with the kind of respect that many businessmen can only dream of: personal and close treatment by the minister and his aides in the procedures involved in building the plant. Some of the meetings in Olmert's bureau were conducted with the participation of Olmert himself, Messer, entrepreneurs and officials from the ministry and from the Investment Center. In a meeting held in Olmert's office in July 2003, Messer explained to those present that what was at stake was not only the grant from the Investment Center but also the millions from Israel Chemicals.

Ornstein detailed his reservations and explained that 90 percent of this world market is controlled by five bodies, which operate as a sort of cartel, and therefore "we demand proof of the product's marketability." Messer said that it would be difficult to show proven marketability as long as there was no approval in principle for the project.

Olmert summed up the meeting. He said that, taking into consideration the tight schedule for starting to build the plant - by February 2004 - he was instructing the Investment Center to conclude within six weeks the examination relating to the request to approve the project. He also explained that attorney Messer and Doron Levy, one of Feinblum's staff, would provide the Investment Center with all the material required to conclude the examination and would present to him the track chosen by Feinblum to receive grants.

This meeting was followed by others at the ministry about the project. Says Ronen Peled, deputy CEO of Dimona Silica Industries, "Olmert said he believes in the plant and that in his understanding it has economic ability and that there was no reason to say an unequivocal no here ... He said he wanted this plant to be built."

A month later, in December 2003, the Ministry of Industry and Trade informed Feinblum in writing that his silica plant had been approved. Investment Center director Shmuel Mordechai eventually authorized the project in the center's directorate. The decision translated into a $15 million grant from the state, plus another $10 million from Israel Chemicals - a total of $25 million for a project about which senior officials in the Industry and Trade Ministry have reservations or object to altogether, but one which the minister's friend and private lawyer was hired to promote.

Olmert's baby

After the minister gave the push, Mordechai authorized the generous grant for the silica plant in the Investment Center directorate, but appended to the authorization a restrictive document containing many obligatory conditions. One of the conditions was a marketing plan to include contracts with future customers for 75 percent of the production. Mordechai also insisted that the new company conduct an industrial pilot on a significant scale (effectively amounting to the construction of a small plant) to prove that the material would work.

Those were only part of the restrictions. "We didn't object to the reservations, because we didn't have time," Peled relates. "The rope was around our neck."

"His conditions were absurd," Feinblum complains. "It's impossible to conclude marketing contracts without knowing when I will complete the plant."

Olmert removed Shmuel Mordechai as head of the Investment Center in the middle of 2004. Press reports said that the two were in disagreement over the Capital Investments Encouragement Law. Mordechai told confidants that he had been subjected to political pressure to assist projects that were close to the minister and to the officials in his bureau. After a period of a few months during which Industry and Trade Ministry director general Raanan Dinur - who is now director general of the Prime Minister's Office - took over as head of the Investment Center, a new permanent director, Hezi Zeig, was appointed. Under his tenure, all the restrictions that Mordechai had imposed on the plant were gradually lifted. Some were replaced by easier conditions. "They removed nearly all the nonsense," Feinblum himself sums up.

"This plant is Olmert's baby," Peled says as we drive south to see the project. "We voted for Kadima in part to express thanks for the help he gave us. He promised that he will come to cut the ribbon when the plant opens."

In January 2004, Olmert took time off from the burning issues on his agenda to be driven to the dunes of Dimona and lay the plant's cornerstone. He came to Dimona with his friend and lawyer, Uri Messer. Olmert said at the ceremony that he considered it very important to create new jobs in Dimona and that the plant's establishment would help the Negev develop. He added that he hoped the plant would be the harbinger of momentum in the south. The media quoted the executives' declarations that the plant will employ 300 people and that its development cost would be $80 million. Olmert had his photograph taken with Feinblum and returned to Jerusalem.

Four days later, Olmert appeared before the Knesset Economic Committee at a meeting dealing with the activity of the Investment Center. He told the committee, "Just four days ago I laid the cornerstone for a plant in Dimona. I'm fighting to establish a plant there - the silica plant of Pima Feinblum - which was authorized by the Investment Center."

At the ceremony, the Industry and Trade Ministry announced that the plant would open in two years. It has yet to open. Feinblum maintains that the delay is due to foot-dragging in the Investment Center and in the ministry.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Industry and Trade said in response: "In essence the Investment Center is a body which at the end of the day is meant to take risks, like any body that chooses to invest in a company, such as banks, private investors, venture capital funds and so forth ... It is possible that the great caution taken by the center led to delays, in part, as it carried out checks concerning the identity of the investors and their financial capability, and reviewed the production process."

The ministry added that in 2005 the restrictions imposed on the company were reexamined, and after satisfactory replies were received from the entrepreneurs they were lifted in a decision by the directorate which "was approved unanimously, including by the representative of the treasury budget division."

The help provided by Olmert and his officials did not stop with laying the cornerstone. Olmert instructed the ministry to fund 75 percent of the land development costs. The ministry also helped pay for building the access road to the site. Uri Messer was also present at the meeting in Olmert's bureau that dealt with the access road. Olmert's advisers pressed officials in the Investment Center to promote the project and assist Feinblum as much as possible. A spokesperson for the Industry and Trade Ministry: "The entrepreneur received the land and construction of the plant has now begun. The ministry took part in funding the access roads to the plant. A western access road has been completed and an eastern access road is being built."

Feinblum is convinced that the bureaucrats will eat their hats and that the plant will be a spectacular economic success. He has recruited three foreign investors - Russian businessmen. The most prominent of them is Dimitri Bossov, formerly on the staff of the oligarch Lev Chernoy, the brother of Mikhail Chernoy, and today the right-hand man of the exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky. "These are not guys who just throw money away," Feinblum asserts.

Pouring oil on troubled levies

Another intervention in decisions of the Industry and Trade Ministry in which Ehud Olmert and Uri Messer were involved concerns the import levies placed on cooking oil. This issue has been the subject of wrangling between Israeli industrialists and major importers for years. At the end of the 1990s the Industry and Trade Ministry decided, after requesting expert opinions, to gradually lower the levies on oils and unprocessed soybeans, from which oil is extracted (with the byproducts used as animal fodder) until their total abolition.

On July 7, 2003, the newly installed minister of industry and trade, Ehud Olmert, decided to adopt the recommendation of his director general, Raanan Dinur, to reduce the levy to just three percent. This would result in a reduction of the price of imported oils - good news for consumers and perhaps especially for food companies such as Osem, which use oil to manufacture a large part of their products.

The main objectors to this move are the Israeli oil companies and especially the largest of them, Shemen Industries. Shemen is owned by businessman Haim Fink. In July 2003, the company decided to appeal against the ministry's decision. Even before this, the company organized 13 MKs to pass a private bill to raise the levy.

The oil importers and the chambers of commerce wanted the levy canceled altogether. The latter stated at the time that nothing had been done, owing to "pressures exerted by those with vested interests, headed by Shemen." The high price of the oils, they explained, was seriously hurting consumers, especially the disadvantaged groups, because they were used as raw materials in the manufacture of many foods.

Shemen now brought in reinforcements in the person of attorney Messer. At the end of July, a meeting was held in the office of Industry and Trade minister Olmert with the participation of Fink, Shemen managing director Boaz Zafrir, ministry experts, a Shemen lobbyist and Messer. Zafrir stated that the oil industry merited government protection. However, Zvia Dori, responsible for domestic commerce in the ministry, recalled the promise that Shemen had given the antitrust commissioner that it would not oppose the lowering of the levy.

In 2001, when Shemen wanted to buy another company, the transaction was approved on condition that in the two years following the merger Shemen would not object to the reduction of the levy on oil and unprocessed soybeans by 1 percent. Accordingly, the levy on oil should have gone down from 4 percent to 3, and the levy on soybeans from 4.5 to 3.5 percent. At the end of the meeting, Zafrir asked for a quick decision, as the levy was about to expire.

Olmert promised to consult with the officials and update the participants about his decision. The result was not long in coming. After the meeting, the ministry issued an amended press release stating that "deputy prime minister and minister of Industry and Trade Ehud Olmert this week signed an order imposing a levy on the import of oils, which will stand at 4 percent." One meeting in Messer's presence was enough to persuade the minister.

Zafrir: "Olmert took matters into his hands and said that industry is more important to him than commerce, or no less. We tried to prevent the reduction of the levies and we succeeded in leaving the existing situation, more or less." Zafrir believes that from Shemen's point of view it was especially significant that the levy on soybeans from South America remained high, at 7.5 percent.

According to Zafrir, Messer represented Shemen not only in this matter but also in "real estate affairs." The high levies on oils are still intact. Says Haim Oz, deputy director general of the organization of chambers of commerce: "The levy was supposed to be canceled in 2000. The Shemen company exerted very strong pressure on Olmert regarding the levy, which is harmful to consumers, who pay a very steep price for imported oil."

Staff members of Olmert's bureau handled personally additional matters having to do with the ministry and the Investment Center in which attorney Messer was involved. In 2001, a high-tech company called Asicom received authorization from the Investment Center for assistance to a company plant in the south of the country. The company did not make use of the funding for about two years. It then asked the Investment Center to amend the agreement to make it apply to a different plant. Here, too, Messer was hired to help.

A senior official of Asicom explains that because of the bureaucracy in the Investment Center, "you have to keep operating through machers, people who re experts in every iota of the law, who know how to get your paper from the bottom of the pile to the top ... The fees the machers ask for are based on the amounts they say they will save you ..."

This time, at the advice of the company's accountant, the CEO went to Messer to get the request dealt with, and paid him an advance of about NIS 80,000. "At the meeting he gave the impression that he has connections of one kind or another that we don't have, and thanks to that, he will advance our cause," the senior official said. "There is no trace of this in writing, but as I recall he described himself as someone who can get things done in the Investment Center, and that's why he received the advance."

What did he tell you about his connections?

"In the meeting it was noted that Shmuel Mordechai didn't like the authorization we received in 2001 and did all he could to void it of content. What Messer said is that 'it will come to him from above.' How many people are there above the director of the Investment Center?"

The upshot was that Asicom got the benefit it requested, but the senior company official maintains that it was not Messer who helped and therefore he did not get anything more than the advance. "It turned out to be just talk, and in the end I did the whole process with the Investment Center by myself. The center's authorization came through only in 2005. It was very naive to think that one person with a few connections would succeed in this task."

Response by attorney Uri Messner


Kahan Commission criticized Admoni, but

Olmert made him head of panel

By Amir Oren

Nahum Admoni, who was chosen by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to head an inquiry into the government's conduct of the second Lebanon War, was himself criticized by a state commission of inquiry for his own conduct during the first Lebanon war.

The Kahan Commission did not demand that Admoni resign his position as head of the Mossad, due mainly to fact that he had assumed this position not long before the Sabra and Chatila massacres - the events that the commission investigated - took place. But a senior jurist who has studied inquiry commissions since the 1970s noted yesterday that this might make it difficult for Admoni to be sharply critical of Olmert, who also took office not long before the war broke out.

The jurist added that Admoni's agreement to head the panel was surprising, since he resigned after only a few meetings from another governmental committee that was set up to investigate the Mossad's botched assassination of Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in 1997. His explanation for quitting that panel was that a former member of the governmental establishment could not properly investigate the government.

The Kahan Commission investigated a massacre of Palestinians in Beirut's Sabra and Chatila refugee camps by the Phalangists, a Lebanese Christian militia allied with Israel. The massacre took place during Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

Admoni was criticized in the commission's report for failing to give Menachem Begin's government "an unequivocal warning about the danger entailed in the Phalangists' entry into the camps - an entry about which the head of the Mossad said nothing in the situation assessment that he gave the cabinet meeting."

Admoni "expressed no reservations about the Phalangists' entry into the camps," the report continued. "Precisely because of the Mossad's connection with the Phalangists, the head of the Mossad was obligated to address the possibility of an act of revenge" for the assassination of Bashir Gemayel, Lebanon's president-elect and head of the Phalangist Party.

Moreover, the report said, some of Admoni's explanations for this failure were unsatisfactory. For instance, it said, his claim that no revenge attack was feared because the Mossad believed that Gemayel was killed not by Palestinians but by a Lebanese group, the Murabitoun, was "far from convincing" - both because it was not clear that the Phalangists shared this assessment, and because in any case, the Palestinians and the Murabitoun had joined forces in fighting the Phalangists.

The commission also criticized contradictions in Admoni's testimony. For instance, he initially said that had he been asked by the cabinet, he would have supported allowing the Phalangists to enter the camps, but would have insisted on "warning them not to commit a massacre." Later, however, he told the commission that the Mossad had no information indicating that Phalangist atrocities were even a possibility.

Nevertheless, while the commission ultimately demanded the resignations of then defense minister Ariel Sharon, then Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Rafael Eitan and then head of Military Intelligence Yehoshua Saguy, it decided not to recommend Admoni's dismissal, since he had risen to the job of Mossad chief (from his previous position as deputy chief) only two days before Gemayel was killed and four days before attending his first cabinet meeting on the issue. After such a short time in office, it said, Admoni could not reasonably have been expected to diverge from the Mossad's prevailing view of the Phalangists as completely reliable.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


From People Who Know!

Hostage Crisis
What is Kofi Annan doing for the kidnapped Israeli soldiers?


Monday, August 28, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

As the parents of Daniel Pearl, The Wall Street Journal's reporter who was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Pakistan in 2002, we share the anguish of the families of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers, and their frustration with the international community for failing to secure the release of their loved ones. For more than six weeks now, these soldiers and their families live each day tortured by unimaginable fears and shattered hopes, praying desperately for the nightmare to end; we relive this nightmare each time an innocent person falls victim to the inhumanity of terrorist abduction.

Whatever success the U.N. Security Council would presume to claim, it cannot be said that Resolution 1701 has effectively addressed the direct cause of the fighting--the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser, 31, and Eldad Regev, 26, by Hezbollah, and the earlier abduction of Gilad Shalit, 19, by Hamas. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for the unconditional release of these soldiers has been ignored. Moreover, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, the terrorists have not only seized the soldiers as hostages for political blackmail, they have not allowed the Red Cross to visit them. Their families do not know their physical condition; they have no proof they are even alive.

And so now these families of Ehud, Eldad and Gilad are asking to meet with Kofi Annan. They wish to plead with the secretary-general to use the full weight of his moral authority to mobilize and intensify the efforts of the international community he leads--an influential body that has managed to compel two fierce armies to cease hostilities--to address this flagrant violation of humanitarian law.
On that score, these families are correct: The time has come for Mr. Annan to personally and aggressively intervene, and to insist publicly that, at the minimum, the Red Cross, or his personal humanitarian representatives, be given immediate access to these soldiers.

Will he? It seems unlikely. Sadly, this is not the first time that concerned parents have turned to Mr. Annan in much the same circumstances. Six years ago, another delegation of distressed families came to the U.N. with a similar tragedy, following the abduction of three Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah from under the noses of Unifil and, by some accounts, with their help. The investigation that was subsequently conducted found that the U.N. had made "serious errors in judgment" by hiding information that "would have been helpful in an assessment of the condition of the three abducted soldiers." At that time, the U.N.'s interest in appearing "neutral" overshadowed its commitment to the preservation of human lives. The world cannot afford a repeat of such inaction and poor judgment.

Undoubtedly, the secretary-general will tell the families of Ehud, Eldad and Gilad that he has dispatched a high-level team to Beirut that will urge the release of their loved ones. But that team negotiates behind closed doors. And by not publicly demanding the unfettered access of humanitarian representatives to the kidnapped soldiers, Mr. Annan has deprived his team of the force of credibility and seriousness they need in those negotiations.

When our son Daniel was in captivity, millions of people around the world prayed for his safe return. In that prayer, they made a solemn pledge never to allow abductions of innocent people to become the norm of civilized society, no matter the political purpose, regardless of grievance or goal.
Kofi Annan's resolve against these acts of terrorism will determine to a great extent what norms will govern our society in generations to come, and whether organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas will gloat in unruly appetite or be reined in by moral principles. We urge Mr. Annan to make bold and brave efforts to ensure--as a legacy and gift--that we will not allow our children and our world be taken captive by terror. Mr. Secretary-General, this time, help bring the boys back home.

Mr. and Mrs. Pearl are co-founders of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, a U.N.-affiliated NGO.

hat tip to ajg


Meet the New Messiah by Shmuel Sackett

I couldn't agree more! I've been writing against Ya'alon on Shiloh Musings, so it's nice to have company.

A new Messiah has arrived for the right wing and every body is jumping for joy. "We are saved!" says one. "This guy will destroy Hamas and Hezzbollah!" says another. "No more land deals, no more Gush Katif betrayals!" says a third.

Who is this new savior? Who is this great man riding into Jerusalem to save the day, end the peace process, build more settlements, rid the country of terror and make us all live happily-ever-after? Haven't you heard? It's General Moshe "Boogey" Ya'alon... so stand up and shout "HOORAY!!!"

I can see it now. The YESHA council will quickly endorse him, assuring every one that this is the man we must elect to end all of our problems. Bibi Netanyahu will rush to embrace him and will promise to appoint him as his Defense Minister in a Bibi-led coalition and finally, Jewish American right-wing groups will have him as their guest speaker in their Manhattan fundraising dinners.

Sounds good? Want to start partying? If so, please do it without me. I have been down that road before, or as they say; "Been there, done that!"

Boogey Ya'alon is a very nice guy and does indeed talk tough. He has been on the American talk-show circuit these past few months and has said all of the right things. There's only one problem... and it's a big one. Boogey Ya'alon is not connected to G-d and will therefore fail miserably as his predecessors did before him.

If you think Ya'alon will be any different consider the following; Is he as tough as Ariel Sharon? Did he build as many settlements as Sharon? Does the left-wing in Israel hate him as much as they did Sharon? Let me say it as clearly as I can: If Ariel Sharon failed, Boogey Ya'alon will fail ten times more... and shame on you if you haven't figured that out by now!

When Rabin and Peres were running the show, nobody spoke tougher than Bibi... and what happened?

When terror was raining down on Israel, General Shaul Mofaz assured every one that he would enter politics and stop the terrorists, yet terrorism is growing and Mofaz is fading.

When the Gaza Disengagement Plan was being debated, nobody fought against it harder than Uzi Landau yet he still spoke about -- and advocated -- "painful concessions" (just for a higher "price")

When Oslo was signed, nobody screamed louder than Limor Livnat and Silvan Shalom, yet BOTH today SUPPORT the creation of a Palestinian State!

Even Natan Sharansky, another fan favorite, loudly criticized the Peace Process yet as minister in the government he SUPPORTED the plan to give away 90% of Hebron!

All of these people listed above -- as well as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert -- were once the "darlings" of the right wing. Every single one of them, including Olmert, spoke at right wing dinners in New York and received thunderous applause from the crowd. Yet, where are they today? Bibi hugged Arafat and gave him 30,000 more guns than Peres. Limor Livnat and Silvan Shalom are advocating a terror state in the heart of Israel. Mofaz left Likud for the Kadima party and is desperately trying to give away as much of YESHA as possible. And Olmert? Well, you know all about him...

Don't fool yourself. I BEG YOU not to fool yourself! General Ya'alon will be no different! His tough speeches will quickly be forgotten and we will be back at "square one". His lack of devotion to G-d will cause him to fail and buckle under the pressure. This has been shown and proven time and time again. Ya'alon will be no different.

Israel needs a real Jewish leader, even if he doesn't have high IDF credentials, a degree from MIT or eloquent speaking skills. That leader needs to be connected to G-d with all his heart and soul. He needs to understand the unique role the Jewish people play in the world and accept the obligations and responsibilities of being part of G-d's Chosen People. He needs to meticulously follow the Torah, especially those parts that pertain to a Jewish leader; "(The Torah) shall be with him, and he shall read from it all the days of his life, so that he will learn to fear G-d, his G-d, to observe all the words of the Torah... to perform them, so that his heart does not become haughty over his brethren..." (Devarim 17:19-20) He needs to fight the Jewish enemy with no mercy, reserving his compassion for his own people. He needs to lead with faith and trust in the G-d of his forefathers. He needs to educate his people in the values and concepts of Judaism and connect them to their Father in Heaven with love and happiness.

THIS is what the Jewish People need... and this is why Moshe "Boogey" Ya'alon is not the man. Don't be fooled by his IDF credentials or strong statements. Following and trusting in him is like running after -- yet another -- false Messiah. Don't make that mistake again.

Monday, August 28, 2006


A Report from an E-Pal Up North

freify at netvision dot net dot il wrote:

This is the one we experienced first hand.
We were on our way to a shopping mall in Haifa, when the sirens went off, traffic stopped,
and all left their vehicles. Two loud explosions were heard, and suddenly smoke billowed
about 300 meters away. When we contiued driving we could see the fire.
Lucky only glass was blown from windows during this one, and from what we learned
later, noone was injured.

I've had a strange, exciting life, always finding myself close to where the action was.
Starting with the Nazi period, Korea, 3 mile island nuclear scare, Mt. Helena's
eruption, the largest recorded earthquake in California, which shook us up, the
wars in Israel, beginning with the Yom Kippur war....etc.

Not wishing to push my luck....enough is genug.




The year has passed, what can one do
When leaves fall from the tree.
I close my book, take one last look
But summer turns to flee.
And so once more, I shut the door
And take a stroll with you.

The ram's horn blows, the men pray
And children return to school.
And quick and fast, I see at last
Elul partings are so cruel.
The year is done, yet everyone
Would have it wait a day.

I gaze back with some regret
There's much I could have done.
White empty pages, missed wages
Sword not yet drawn from stone.
Must brush the dog, clear the bog
Be cheerful and cease to fret.

G-d seals our fate up in heaven
Autumn politely leaves her card.
We fall and slip, skid and trip
Yet advance though it is hard.
We needn't cry at the year's passing by
Because here comes 5767!

By Shifra Shomron
3 Elul 5766/ 28.8.06
Nitzan Caravilla site

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Meet My Neighbor

This article includes an interview with a neighbor. He's relatively new to Shiloh. The funny thing is that he's also from Great Neck. I remember his father from the Great Neck Synagogue and our parents were friends.

but I only met him in Shiloh. It's strange how these sorts of things happen....

Friday, August 25, 2006


Save 2 Jews


Dear Friends,

Many things have changed since the war in Lebanon. But one thing has not yet changed in our country: the legal persecution of loyal Jews whose only crime is wanting to live in the Land of Israel and trying to defend themselves when attacked by Arabs.

We call upon all of you to read the kakfaesque story of Danny and Itzik Halamish, two brothers who live in Maaleh Rehavam (a small community of 30 residents, in the Judean desert not far from Tekoa) . Danny and Itzik are dear personal friends of ours and we will do all we can to prevent them from going to jail. Itzik and Danny are two out of 5 sons of the Halamish family. The Halamish parents were among the founders of the community of Ofra. They have raised 5 wonderful sons , all proud and loyal Jews. Four of them decided to follow in the footsteps of their parents and be the second generation of Halamishes that would found a new community in the land of Israel. Together with friends, the Halamish boys founded Maaleh Rehavam 4 years ago.

Itzik is 27 years old and works as a builder of homes and as a carpenter. Women in Green leaders and members met Itzik in Kfar Yam,Gush Katif, where he spent the last few months helping to build tent cities for those outsiders who came to support GK. They have stayed in close contact since then. Danny is 36 years old, married to Limor and they have a one year old baby girl, Naama.

If we do not intervene, those 2 wonderful Jews might end up in jail for months- accused and found guilty of things they never did. We must help them gather the funds to cover the expenses for an appeal. Please help them by:

1) taking the few minutes necessary to read the story

2) forward the story to all of your different lists-

3) if you can, help them financially. For details as to how to send tax

deductible donations, see at the end of the story.

With love from Israel, Ruth and Nadia Matar, Women in Green

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Danny and Itzik Halamish ­ trial summary
(Please Disseminate)

Background: A number of incidents have occurred in Gush Etzion in which Jews have been attacked by, or with the aid of, Arab shepherds: Dov Driben was murdered by Arab shepherds; two children, Kobi Mandel and Yossi Ashram, were murdered in the Haritun Cave by Arab shepherds; prior to the murderous attack on the settlement of Carmei Zur, Arab shepherds observed the settlement for 30 days and constructed a model of it on a sand table in an orchard near the settlement; About two months ago, Arab shepherds stabbed a Jewish couple near a spring close to the settlement of Bat Ayin. The IDF regards the shepherds as a threat, and consequently refers to them as such in briefings given to guards, and also drives them away from the proximity of Jewish settlements. At the beginning of 2004 Arab shepherds began approaching the region of Ma'aleh Rehavam and Sdeh Bar. The IDF, in cooperation with the security officer of Sdeh Bar, drove them off on several occasions.

The Incident: On February 21, 2004, Arab shepherds again approached the settlement of Ma'aleh Rehavam, in a place that was not the usual one for grazing. The Sdeh Bar Security Officer, Baruch Feldbaum, attempted unsuccessfully to drive them away. Feldbaum requested help from Ma'aleh Rehavam. Two members of the Ma'aleh Rehavam Fast Response Team, Danny and Itzik Halamish, joined him and drove with him to the place, to which in the meantime additional Arab shepherds had arrived. The Arabs refused to leave the place. More and more Arabs arrived, and their level of hostility increased as their numbers grew. When there were about 20 Arabs near the Jews, with even more Arabs approaching, the Arabs close to the Jews threatened them with stones and sticks, and began surrounding Danny and Itzik. Baruch was standing a few dozen yards further back. At this stage Itzik fired a single warning shot in the air from his pistol, but this had no effect. Baruch Feldbaum fired a few shots aimed at the ground, and thus enabled Danny and Itzik to withdraw. The Jews retreated and drove away from the place. One Arab received a superficial wound from ricochets of stones. The Arabs contacted the police and filed a complaint about being attacked.

The Treatment of the Complaint: The police arrested Baruch, Danny and Itzik. They were interrogated for three days using a variety of methods, that included lies, threats, and false accusations. (The police attempted to accuse them of the murder of an Arab who had been in the region of the Arab village of Tekoa.) The Jews maintained that the Arabs had in fact attacked them, but the police ignored this claim and refused to check it out. The police have impounded the Jews’ weapons in order to examine them. The weapons were taken from them and were not returned, but neither were they examined. Near the duty officer's desk in the Etzion police station, there was attached to the wall a notice issued by the police general staff stating that the residents of the Jewish hill settlements are problematic and that one of the aims of the police in 2004 was to submit 20 charges against them. During the interrogation the chief interrogator told Baruch that the police intended to submit a charge sheet against the Jews regardless of the results of the interrogation. The Jews were charged with assault and injury under aggravating circumstances, as well as acts of recklessness and negligence. The Arabs were not summonsed for an interrogation or even a clarification, and the police admitted in court that they did not intend to interrogate the Arabs at all.

The Judicial Process: According to the Hebrew judicial process as laid down in the Bible, the function of the judge is to investigate and question and thus arrive at the truth. The State of Israel does not use the Hebrew judicial process but employs instead the adversary legal system, which is based on the method of rivalry. In this method the prosecution attacks and the accused defends himself. The judge does not interfere in the discussion but gives a ruling based only on the material presented to him. This method originated in Europe and is based on the principle of a duel between knights. (Each party hires a knight to fight on his behalf and the judge decides the winner.) In this method the personal opinion of the judge can be decisive regarding the result of the trial. In Britain and the US this method is balanced by means of a jury ­ a group of ordinary people (not lawyers) whose function is to determine if the accused is guilty or not. This method prevents a person being found guilty or innocent, as the case may be, in circumstances that an ordinary person would consider unreasonable. In Israel there is no jury and the judge gives a ruling as he sees fit. In Israel the judges are appointed by other judges, and cannot be dismissed. A judge approaching retirement or who otherwise does not expect a promotion is not under any form of supervision or criticism.

The Trial: The prosecution claimed that the Jews came to the place with the intention of harming the Arabs, and that the Arabs were grazing their flocks innocently. The prosecution claimed that the IDF does not regards the shepherds as a threat, even though the prosecution witness from the regional brigade HQ gave evidence to the contrary. Four Arab prosecution witnesses gave contradictory evidence: their evidence conflicted with their statements in the police station on the day of the incident; and their evidence contradicted that of each other, regarding important details, such as who fired, and whether the shots were fired before or after the arguments between the Jews and the Arabs. The Arabs gave evidence, and the prosecution claimed, that an Arab child aged 4 was injured in his head from the shots fired. The army paramedic who accompanied the soldiers who met the Arabs making the complaint, gave evidence that he was shown an Arab child aged 8 with no injuries. The defense argued that it was the Security Officer's function to look after the security of the settlers and to drive off the Arabs from places near the residential areas, and that Danny and Itzik acted under the orders of the Security Officer. Even if Baruch acted in excess of his authority, they were still supposed to conform with his instructions. The defense claimed that the Arabs were the attackers, and that the Jews acted in self defense.

The Court Ruling: The accused were found guilty of all the charges. All their arguments were rejected. The conviction was based on two principles: Firstly, the judge ruled that the evidence of the Arabs was reliable, in contrast to the evidence of the Jews that was not, because the Arabs gave evidence without contradictions while the Jews contradicted themselves. The judge did not indicate what were the contradictions in the evidence of the Jews, and ignored the obvious contradictions in the evidence of the Arabs, including those indicated specifically by the defense. Secondly, the judge ruled that the situation in which the Jews were surrounded by dozens of Arabs armed with stones and sticks, with additional Arabs approaching, was not dangerous, nor was there any reason to think that it was dangerous. The judge ignored the arguments of the defense mentioned here, as well as additional arguments. It should also be mentioned that during the hearings regarding extension of the period of detention, even before the Jews had made any statement, the evidence was examined by Justice of the Peace Shimoni and District Judge Ravid. Both judges wrote that the evidence indicated that the claim of self defense put forward by the defense could not be rejected out of hand. The Security Officer, Baruch, was sentenced to one year's imprisonment, that was later reduced to six months after two appeals. Danny and Itzik are likely to receive a similar sentence. This is not an exceptional case. Settlers are being brought to trial in a systematic way. For example, ten years ago an Arab terrorist ran down Jewish hitch-hikers at the Giva Tzarfatit junction in Jerusalem. The terrorist was shot and killed by several people who were present at the time. The police arrested one of the Jews who had shot the terrorist and confiscated his pistol. The police issued a press statement saying that the investigation had indicated that this was a road accident and not a terrorist attack. On the very same day an Arab terrorist organization announced that they were responsible for the attack, and the police were forced to rescind their statement. The person who shot the Arab terrorist received a commendation from the IDF, but the police refused to return his gun to him. Danny and Itzik were part of the Rapid Response Team of Ma'aleh Rehavam, but they are now not permitted to possess a gun. The defense of their settlement has been gravely harmed as a result of this incident. This is not the only case in which the police have damaged the security of the settlers.

Danny and Itzik Halamish intend to appeal against their conviction. The appeal will cost a lot of money (tens of thousands of dollars). If you wish to help, you can send a contribution to HONENU.

The HONENU Non Profit organization provides legal aid to hundreds of Jews who are participating in the struggle for Eretz Israel. Contributions to Honenu are recognized for tax purposes in Israel (Regd. non profit organization No. 580386571, according to section 46B of the income tax law); and in the USA (Tax ID: 30-0198003). Honenu will transfer the money to Danny and Itzik without deducting a fee. Should any money remain after the appeal, it will be given to Honenu.

Please mail Shekel checks to Halamish, Ofra 90627, Israel.

For Tax-deductible dollar checks please write check to "HONENU".

Do not forget to earmark it: "for Danny and Itzik Halamish" and send it to: HONENU, 8204 Lefferts Blvd, Suite 381 Kew Gardens, New York 11415, USA.

Women For Israel's Tomorrow (Women in Green)
POB 7352, Jerusalem 91072, Israel
Tel: 972-2-624-9887 Fax: 972-2-624-5380


UN = M-UN-ich

Did you ever notice that before? The United Nations never learned from the notorious Munich Agreement:

Read this:
thanks ck




August 16, 2006 -- HISTORIANS will look back at this weekend's cease-fire agreement in Lebanon as a pivotal moment in the war on terror. It is pivotal in the same sense that the Munich agreement between Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain was pivotal in an earlier battle against the enemies of freedom. The accord in October 1938 revealed to the world that the solidarity of the Western allies was a sham, and that the balance of power had shifted to the fascist dictators.
Resolution 1701 shows that, for the time being at least, the balance has likewise shifted to the terrorists and their state sponsors. Like Munich, it marks the triumph of the principle of putting off until tomorrow what needs to be done today. Like Munich, it will mean not peace in our time, but a bigger war in our future.

In that sense, the cease-fire may be even more momentous than Munich, and a greater blunder. In 1938 Chamberlain and other appeasers had the excuse that they were trying to prevent an armed conflict no one wanted. Today, of course, that conflict is already here. Historians will conclude that by supporting U.N. Resolution 1701 and getting Israel to agree, the Bush administration has in effect declared that its global war on terror is over. We have reverted to the pre-9/11 box of tools, if not necessarily the pre-9/11 mindset. From now on, the worst Iran, Syria, and North Korea will have to worry about are serial resolutions in the United Nations. Terrorists will be busy dodging Justice Department subpoenas, not Tomahawk missiles.

Our enemies know better. They know the war is only entering a new stage, and they know who the winners and losers were last weekend.

The clear losers were the United States and Israel. Israel has sacrificed lives and treasure, and had its honor dragged through the mud of international opinion, for no purpose. America squandered its political capital at the start of the crisis by getting moderate Arab regimes to condemn Hezbollah instead of Israel. They did so because they thought Hezbollah was about to be annihilated. However, they soon realized their mistake. They now know Tehran and Damascus will set the agenda in the Middle East, not Washington. The Arab League's support for this U.N.-brokered deal is just one more measure of our strategic failure.

The other loser is Lebanon. The price of peace in 1938 was de jure dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, as Germany annexed the Sudetenland. The price of Resolution 1701 is de facto dismemberment of Lebanon. A large, well-armed terrorist army acting at the behest of a foreign power now controls the southern half of Lebanon, and pulls the strings in the other half. The facade of Lebanese self-government has been preserved. As a territorial state, it may even last longer than Czechoslovakia did (Hitler gave the Czechs five months before he annexed the rest of their country).

But other states in the region will have learned their lesson. Faced by an internal terrorist organization, especially one with links with Tehran, they will have to make accommodations. No white knight in the guise of U.S. Marines will ride to their rescue; no Israeli tanks and F-16s will do their dirty work for them. Appeasement will be the order of the day.

That includes Iraq. The disarming of Sunni and Shia militias, the necessary first step to ending sectarian violence there, will be postponed - perhaps for good. On the contrary, this crisis has taught Iraq's Shia minority that extremism pays, particularly the Iranian kind.

For everyone in the Middle East knows Iran is the clear winner. Only the diplomats and politicians, including the Bush administration, will pretend otherwise. Iran has emerged as the clear champion of anti-Israeli feeling and radical Islam. The Iranians have their useful puppet in Syria; they have their proxy armies in place with Hezbollah and Hamas. They have been able to install missiles, even Revolutionary Guards, in Lebanon with impunity. Sunni regimes in the region will move to strike their own deals with Iran, just as Eastern European states did with Germany after Czechoslovakia. That includes Iraq; the lesson will not be lost on Russia and China, either. And all the while, the Iranians proceed with their nuclear plans - with the same impunity.

Finally, the other winners are the conventional diplomats at the State Department, especially Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns. In a narrow professional sense, appeasement is their business. They never saw the point to a "war on terror they are delighted to take back the initiative from the hawks at the Pentagon and the White House.

The war in Iraq has clearly sapped the moral strength of the Bush administration. The men of Munich acquiesced to Hitler because another world war like the first seemed unthinkable. The Bush administration clearly feels it cannot face another major confrontation even with a second-rate power like Iran. Yet by calling off the war on terror, it has only postponed that conflict.

"We have passed an awful milestone in our history," Winston Churchill said after the Munich agreement was signed. "Do not suppose this is the end . . . This is only the first sip, the first foretaste, of a bitter cup that will be proffered to us year by year." Despite the failure of appeasement, Churchill still believed the Western democracies would make the "supreme recovery" and take up the banner for freedom again. The United States and the forces of democracy will recover from this debacle - even with a Democratic Congress in 2006 and a Democratic president in 2008. The reason will not be because Bush's opponents have a better strategy, or a clearer vision, or even a Winston Churchill waiting in the wings. It will be because our enemies will give us no choice.

Less than a year after Munich, Nazi panzers rolled into Poland. Instead of fighting a short, limited war over Czechoslovakia, the Western democracies ended up fighting a world war, the most destructive in history. The war with the mullahs of Iran is coming. It is only a question of whether it will be at a time or on a ground of our choosing, or theirs - and whether it is fought within the shadow of a mushroom cloud.

Arthur Herman is the author most recently of "To Rule The Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World." He is completing a book on Churchill and Gandhi.

Thursday, August 24, 2006



Here's the site with all the details about the fraud in the media by the Arabs. The international mainstream media participated in it, as the reporters staged scenes to make it look like Israel killed and damaged more Arabs.

They show the stories and methods behind the headlines and pictures.

For example:
The Red Cross Ambulance Incident

How the Media Legitimized an Anti-Israel Hoax and Changed the Course of a War

It's a must-see!

thanks Boris

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Excellent article from ynet

Ronny Sofer / The upper echelon:Who'll investigate the secret seven?

There's a fragile ceasefire in Lebanon, and Amir Peretz is rushing to investigate the security establishment's functioning during the war. But who's going to check out answers provided by the decision makers?

Published: 08.20.06, 23:07

"Commissions of inquiry are great for politicians. They are a great place to bury burning issues," said one worried government minister this week. "Look at the Or Commission that investigated attacks on Arab Israelis at the beginning of the intifada. The political echelon is cleansed, the lower levels pay the price, but much less than would have been expected."

The mood in the halls of the Knesset and government ministers' offices was focused on the coming investigation of the war's failures. But everyone we spoke to was prepared to wait until the last soldiers are out of Lebanon, to see if the war is realy over, to wait and see if this fragile ceasefire, based on the prowess of the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL, really holds.

But Defense Minister Amir Peretz isn't waiting. He's appointed the Lipkin-Shahak commission to investigate the defense establishment. Perhaps Peretz would have preferred a commission to investigate the army's performance, rather than the sub-peformance of the policy makers.

Asking questions
The big question from this war is who will investigate Amir Peretz, Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni? Who will investigate the secret seven, the cabinet, the government? Who will look into the way in which the decision to go to war was made in a few hours, without considering the depth of the army's ability to fight Hizbullah? Who will investigate the zig-zagging orders?

Who will examine Olmert's Fire Zone of the first kilometer in Lebanon and Peretz's six-to-seven kilometer security zone? Who will look into the orders to throw so many soldiers (and resultant injuries) towards the Litani the last Friday of the war, orders signed jointly by Olmert and Peretz, a moment before the Security Council passed its resolution, with the agreement of Olmert and Peretz?

Who will ask if we should have sacrificed 158 soldiers for diplomatic goals that were not realized? For the release of kidnapped soldiers who remain in captivity? Who will ask if we should have invested more than NIS 20 billion in the war, only to have Hizbullah remain on the border?

Who will ask if it was correct to send a million-plus Israelis to bomb shelters, only to bring them out again with life-long trauma, when Iran and Syria are doing all they can to avoid the UN embargo to re-arm the still-living Nasrallah with new anti-tank weapons that will be coming our way during the next round?

"If there were elections in another month, maybe it would be correct not to establish a commission of inquiry," said one Labor Party government minister. "But there are no elections on the horizon, and the public has no democratic tool to judge those who initiated and administered the war.

"So all that is left is to establish a commission, to demand answers from those who made these decisions. Even if it takes time, until all the soldiers are out of Lebanon and there is a chance to see if the ceasefire is worth more than the paper it's printed on, such a move is necessary to conduct a fundamental investigation at home."

Livni meets the north
Last Tuesday, a few hours before flying to meet Kofi Annan in New York, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni came to give support to mayors of towns in the north. In the beautiful city hall in Carmiel, Adi Eldar told her he headed the strongest town in the north, but in light of the situation he couldn't guarantee municipal salaries would be paid this month.

Livni's got no checks to hand out, so all she could offer was a bit of sympathy and a vague promise that the national government would not abandon the Galilee.

It was so hot in Tiberias one could see the steam coming off the Sea of Galilee. Mayor Zohar Oved promises Tiberias can withstand another round of fighting. Outside his air conditioned office, security guard Farouk Eliyahu says:

"Tiberias was a ghost town. We've never had anything like it here. Everything was closed: Restaurants, hotels, stores. I say it's too bad Livni, Peretz and Olmert tied our generals' hands. If we were going to pay such a heavy price anyway, we should have finished Hizbullah."

45 minutes to the north, in a room that was once a concert hall, Kiryat Shmonah city counselors are listening to Livni talk about the diplomatic gains of the war. Not everyone agrees, to say the least. Reporters ask the same questions, Livni gives the same answers.

More criticism

Outside, 48-year-old mother of four Nava Danino sits on a bench. She would have been happy to host Livni at home, to show her the shards of glass caused by the katyusha. She would have asked Livni to help bring insurance adjustors around, so she could clean up already and bring her children home.

The price she paid doesn't appear to her: "Tzipi Livni screwed up, big-time," she said painfully. "I've been wandering around the country with my family for a month, and at the end of the day, they ended it all without even bringing home the soldiers Hizbullah kidnapped." She sat just meters from Livni, but didn't get to speak to the foreign minister.

Wherever Livni, went, similar stories were told and accusations made, about government ministers paying perfunctory visits to discharge their obligations.

"Not one government minister saw fit to spend a night in a bomb shelter. Neither did any Knesset members," said Eli Levi, of Kiryat Motzkin, bitterly.

"Let them come to city hall to see what all the ruckus is all about. They fought this war on our backs, without bothering to find out what it's like to spend a night in a shelter," he said, trying to peep through the sealed windows of the white Volvo parked in the driveway.

"They never breathed the dampness, sat in 35 degree (95 F) heat in a shelter with no air conditioning, or had to deal with frightened infants for five weeks of katyusha attacks."

From the foreign minister's point of view to the embittered north was meant to disrupt the overall picture that sees a link between Jerusalem, Beirut, paris and Washington. With no cynicism at all, she had a lot of sympathy for Levy from Kiryat Motzkin, for Danino from Kiryat Shmonah, and for Farouk from Tiberias. But she had a plan to catch, to go and meet Kofi Annan in New York.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


The lessons of Lebanon - II by LENNY BEN-DAVID

The lessons of Lebanon - II

The war did not go well. It's easy to point to Hizbullah's six years of preparations, its fanatic devotion to death, and an endless supply of technologically advanced Iranian and Syrian weapons. But the analysis of what went wrong must first be focused on ourselves.

Five of my sons and sons-in-law fought in this war. Now coming out of Lebanon and surviving some of the bloodiest fighting, they are filled with anger. Their short-term and long-term orders were confused and ever-changing. The emergency stocks for their reserve units were in horrible condition. One reservist special forces unit lacked basic communications equipment, they were provided guns that they had never trained on, and their rushed training was done in conditions unlike anything they would see in Lebanon.

Truly by the grace of God, one son missed his death by a few seconds and yards. Instead he had to evacuate dozens of dead and wounded under fire. The evacuation force never came, and the survivors had to carry the dead, wounded and themselves miles back to the Israeli lines.

Over the course of the war soldiers were held back for weeks when they were ready to charge. When they were finally dispatched, they were given unachievable missions in impossible time constraints. Soldiers were sent on daytime missions that should have been carried out only under the cover of darkness. Some died as a result.

My generation has failed our sons. Not because we failed to give them the proper equipment. We failed to provide them and ourselves with proper leadership. At the start of this war I never felt such a lack of confidence in our national and political leadership. At this point in the war - and I suspect it is only half-time - I feel despair.

Last week, the commander-in-chief of the IDF admitted that at the moment Israeli soldiers were chasing after their abducted comrades and engaged in fighting Hizbullah on July 12 - on the eve of the war - he was busy selling his stock portfolio. The police meanwhile charged a senior Kadima Member of Knesset, Tzahi Hanegbi, with bribery and a handful of other crimes. And today, the police announced that they would charge Minister Haim Ramon with sexual abuse.

What shame! Did we receive the leaders we deserve?

ALL OF this has been a long time coming. There was no public outcry when aides to Israeli prime ministers made fortunes in under-the-table kickback deals with Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian cronies. Why, for instance, were the Palestinians paying high prices for cement and gasoline from Israeli companies when they could have gotten the products at a fraction from Arab companies? Why were Israeli officials and their relatives involved in the Palestinian casino?

What Israeli officials profited from the disengagement from Gaza? Is there any truth to the claim by the eccentric Israeli-French billionaire, Shmuel Flatto-Sharon, that the northern Gaza Jewish settlements were demolished to make way for a Palestinian casino with a silent Israeli partner? We dismissed it then as a crank claim, but today, who knows? Palestinian rockets are now fired from those sites.

We were silent when senior IDF officials were allegedly fired and replaced by army friends of Ariel Sharon's sons and cronies. Are we paying the price today in the army's malfeasance, nonfeasance and misfeasance?

Columnists in the Hebrew press are questioning where in the war are the sons of the `branja, Israel's political, media and financial elite. Their sons don't seem to show up in the casualty lists, because, as one columnist charged, their children are overseas, do not serve, or sit at cushy office jobs in the army.

We stood quiet while the civil rights of thousands of Jews from Gaza were trampled by the police. We didn't realize that the government's abandonment of these citizens in 2005 would be a precursor to the neglect of hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens in the bomb shelters of the north in 2006.

How much IDF and government planning, manpower and resources went into the disengagement last year that could have been expended on preparing for the Hizbullah war this summer?

I have always opposed airing Israel's dirty laundry in public, but perhaps it is time to do it. Israel's supporters are pouring out their sympathy and dollars to help rebuild Israel's north. They must make sure the millions of dollars are not going to be funneled through the companies of political cronies and party hacks.

I know of what I speak. After the December 2004 Tsunami, I was approached by American sources looking for immediate supplies of water for Asia. Water from Israel could expedite delivery considerably. I approached an Israeli minister for assistance. The call back came from a political party hack who had already figured out the percentage that would go to political purposes.

The great political sage from Okefenokee Swamp, Pogo, expressed Israel's predicament best some 30 years ago when he proclaimed, "We has met the enemy, and he is us!"

Israel has another war on its hands. In the Hizbullah war, our citizens performed unselfishly with extraordinary valor, patriotism and volunteer spirit. They reacted in ways their leaders did not deserve.

Now Israel's citizens must battle again, this time in Israel's own political arena.

The writer served as Israel's deputy chief of mission in the Washington Embassy. Today he is an international consultant to corporations and foreign governments.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Jewish Refugees in Cyprus

Jewish Refugees in Cyprus
Zionism in Regression

By Shifra Shomron
14th of Av 5766/ 8 August 2006
Nitzan Caravilla site

We've all seen the movie Exodus. In one of the first thrilling scenes, a young man jumps off the truck convoy of 'illegal immigrants' taking them back to the ship to be interned on the island of Cyprus. Our young man punches a British soldier, leaves his bag on the truck and frantically dashes away. He is risking his life for freedom and for his land. He swiftly clambers up a stone fortress – two Brits are hot on his tail – reaches the top and…no escape! The Brits reach him; he punches one, picks up a large stone to throw at the other. He's grasped, a wrestle ensues; he's flung off the stone wall and lands with his clothes torn, bloody and unconscious. The Brits pick him up and carry him away.

Yes, once – a mere matter of fifty odd years ago – we were prepared to fight so as to stay in Israel and not be dragged off to Cyprus.

How things have changed: now Haifa and Krayot residents are buying 'refuge apartments' in Cyprus according to Ynet news (7 August 2006). Four families have already purchased furnished apartments in Limassul and other towns. If more rockets fall in Haifa, these families are packed and ready to move.

So, the secular Zionist dream has failed: Israel is not a refuge for Jews. Israel is not – but Cyprus is. The lovely island of Cyprus to which Holocaust survivors were dragged kicking and screaming. They reached there and were placed in encampments surrounded by barbed wire, British soldiers at the entrance, and wooden bunks in the rooms.

But after all, now Cyprus is modern and developed: high rise apartments, English fluency, inducted to the European Union… Forward! To Cyprus!

And what about Israel? What about our torn and bloodied country?

Our country is torn, because we have been tearing pieces off to fling to the jackals surrounding us.

Our country is bloodied, because the jackals keep lunging, snapping and biting… and we restrain.

Since Israel is restraining itself from properly defending the residents of Haifa, Krayot, Tsfat, S'derot etc… perhaps the Israeli government should reach an agreement with Cyprus permitting building large encampments.

We'll provide the barbed wire.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


To Revive the Memories

To Revive the Memories

By Amichai Gross, Nitzan Caravilla Site.
Translated by Shifra Shomron, Nitzan Caravilla Site.
5 Av 5766/ 30 July 2006

Many memories are placed in a special department in my heart, categorized according to subject and date, arranged neatly on shelves, refusing to be covered with dust – as if they are yelling: use us!

And I walk among the shelves, browsing, contemplating, and remembering.

There's the grass outside my house, the grass that was bordered with a pomegranate tree and a fig tree, an etrog, a lemon and a tangerine, a pecan and a mango, and of course the olive tree – the one that got hit by a mortar. And between the grass and the house is the court – a small tiled area and a hoop stuck in the wall. That's where I played basketball with Ariel and Yishai and Ofer and Itamar and Guy and Aaron.

And I continue, I move to another shelf and find myself riding a bike on the hill up to Gadid, and when I reach the summit I stop and look to the right. All of Neve Dekalim is spread out before me, from the industrial area until the Ulpana. In the middle I recognize the "Beit HaLachmi" intersection and the antenna on the regional council building. In the distance I see the Moasii Bedouin tribe and not far from there – the sea.

And on the next shelf I see the fort we had in a tree in the dunes between the synagogue and the 'sand neighborhood', from which we would go to the big dune in order to slide down it with an old shutter.
And thus I continue and pass much archive material that was gathered during eighteen and a half years. I pass between the shelves, peek to the right and peek to the left; I want to see it all. To remember.

And here is the community's Kiddush in the hall under the synagogue, and the basketball tournament in the summer (Neve Dekalim is the champion!), and the Shabbat prayers at Bnei Akiva (youth group/synagogue), and walking to the sea – the prettiest sea in the country, and I feel exactly as if right now I am at sea, in a sea of memories.

And there is no end to these memories. Every small detail is included in them. Every event, every experience, every emotion.

And suddenly I stop. "Summer 5765" (2005) is written on the shelf next to me. And I remember prayers, demonstrations, road-blocks, police, soldiers, more prayers, and (soldiers) knocking at the door, crying, bus, and hotel. Houses destroyed, lives destroyed. And then emerges the memory of the sign at the traffic circle between Netzer Hazani and Katif, the same sign that once read "Atnachta – a warm corner for soldiers", the same sign that later read, "We will yet return".

Someone once asked me, "Why do you save all these memories?" And at first it seemed that there was something in his words. It's all gone, it's all destroyed, and how will memories help?

However remembering is not just gazing into the past; rather studying it, taking the good from it and applying it to the present. Likewise also to remember a person who died G-d forbid is not just to look at his pictures and tell stories about him; but to take his good qualities and embrace them, and thus 'revive' him.

We can learn many things from the Gush Katif residents: simplicity – their manual labor and connection to our Land, the immense amount of charity they did in the entire southern region, the inner strength that kept them continuously facing all the trials, the brotherhood and unity – accepting everyone as he is, and above all: the firm faith – faith in G-d, faith in the Jewish nation, faith that all G-d does is for the best.

And in our case it's even more than that. In this case we must not only 'revive' the strong forces that existed in the Gush, but also reach political conclusions. There is no doubt that we have proven that just as our warnings before the Oslo Accords were correct, so were our warnings before the expulsion correct. The terror in Gaza has grown stronger and has reached dimensions that have forced the government to return the army to the area. There were weary souls who said, "War is despicable" calling us "Doomsayers" preferring to trust our enemies, since only thus will the peace come. And we were the ones who accurately read the enemy and know what their real driving force is, we who were considered extremists-delusional-strange-paranoid – we were correct. And likewise we are correct regarding the "Convergence Plan".

A very hard year has passed, very hard. A year in which we were tried by complicated trials. We dealt with situations that were not simple. We rose, we overcame the obstacles, and we continue forwards with strength and with faith. We mustn't despair. We all see the recent national awakening; the sobering up and the new understanding that the Jewish nation must be determined and must fight for its land in a way that will determine the outcome of this war, in a firm and unequivocal way. There is still much to improve but the goal is clear.

We must strengthen and improve the national awareness, continue and cling onto the hope – and remember.
We'll remember and won't forget, we'll remember and return!


guest bloggers

As you may have noticed, I've invited the Shomron Family, expellees from Neve Dekalim to post while I'm away, since I've been posting their articles for quite a while.

Enjoy, they have plenty to say, a very talented family.

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