Saturday, September 03, 2005

PM Sharon Sends Condolence Letter and Offer of Medical Assistance to the American People

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon this evening (Thursday), 1.9.05, sent a letter to US President George W. Bush in which he expressed condolences on behalf of the Government and people of Israel over the disaster that struck the American people.

Prime Minister Sharon also offered US President Bush comprehensive and urgent medical assistance following the natural disaster.

Prime Minister Sharon's letter, including the offer of comprehensive medical assistance, was sent after Health Minister Danny Naveh and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz checked the formats for extending medical assistance, including the dispatch of medical teams numbering hundreds of people, considerable medical equipment, medicines and additional necessary equipment.

UJC, other Jewish groups launch Katrina relief efforts

by Nathan Guttman, THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 3, 2005

American Jews began raising money to assist victims of hurricane Katrina that hit the gulf coast this Monday. The United Jewish Communities (UJC), an umbrella organization of Jewish federations in North America, established a special emergency fund and is receiving, since Tuesday, donations from Jews who wish to help the relief effort.

More than $600,000 has been raised by the end of the week and the UJC expects many more donations in the course of the next days.

The UJC fund will also deal with contributions funneled through other major Jewish organizations, among them the Joint, AIPAC and the American Jewish World Service.

The donations are meant to help the Jewish and the general population in the states hit by the hurricane – Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida. The Jewish federations in the affected areas will help coordinate the relief efforts and assess the needs on the ground.

Carol Smokler, chair of the emergency committee at the UJC, said that the Jewish community has always been at the forefront of responding to human and natural disasters, adding that the Jewish federations of North America will "respond rapidly to ease the challenges and suffering of our Jewish brethren and their neighbors".

In an open letter sent out this Friday to members of the Jewish federations, Howard Rieger, president of the UJC, said that the Jewish community is working tirelessly to respond to the needs of the hurricane struck areas and to the specific needs of the Jewish communities in these areas – reconstruction of community buildings, replacing sacred books and helping communities get ready for the high holidays.

Rieger stressed in his letter that the Jewish community must not forget the need to help other people in America and around the world that are also suffering. "Today, New Orleans and Mississippi. But today is also Darfur the former Soviet Union, the hungry in North America or Israel or the Southeast Asian communities wiped out by the tsunami", wrote Rieger.

Friday, September 02, 2005

WA Symphony plays anti-Semitic music

For subscribers to the WA Symphony Masters Series, which (tomorrow evening 3/9/05) includes a piece from Richard Wagner's "last card" opera "The Parsifal", I'm posting this extract from Wikipedia...

...Wagner promulgated many anti-semitic views over the course of his life, through both conversation and numerous writings. He frequently accused Jews, and in particular Jewish musicians, of being a harmful foreign element in Germany, and called for the abandonment of Jewish culture and their assimilation into German culture. Some scholars have argued that his operas also contain hidden anti-Semitic messages, but this claim is disputed.

Wagner's first and most controversial anti-Semitic essay was "Das Judenthum in der Musik", originally published in 1850 in the Neue Zeitschrift under the pen-name "K. Freigedenk" ("free thought"). The essay purported to explain "popular dislike" of the music of Jewish composers such as Wagner's contemporaries, Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer. Wagner wrote that the German people were repelled by Jews due to their alien appearance and behavior — "freaks of Nature" blabbering in "creaking, squeaking, buzzing" voices — so that "with all our speaking and writing in favour of the Jews' emancipation, we always felt instinctively repelled by any actual, operative contact with them." He argued that Jewish musicians were only capable of producing music that was shallow and artificial, a parroting of true music, for they had no connection to "the genuine spirit of the Folk". In the conclusion to the essay, he wrote of the Jews that "only one thing can redeem you from the burden of your curse: the redemption of Ahasuerus – going under!" Although this has been taken to mean actual physical annihilation, in the context of the essay it refers to the eradication of Judaism and the conversion of Jews to Christianity; in essence he called for the complete assimilation of the Jews into mainstream German culture.

The initial publication of the article attracted little attention, but Wagner republished it as a pamphlet under his own name in 1869, leading to several public protests at performances of Die Meistersinger.

Wagner attacked the Jews in several other essays. In "What is German?" (1878), for example, he wrote that "The Jew... [took] German intellectual labour into his own hands; and thus we see an odious travesty of the German spirit upheld to-day before the German Folk, as its imputed likeness. It is to be feared, ere long the nation may really take this simulacrum for its mirrored image: then one of the finest natural dispositions in all the human race were done to death, perchance for ever." (*** see note below)

...After Wagner's death in 1883, Bayreuth became a meeting place for a group of extreme right-wing Wagner fans that came to be known as the Bayreuth circle, endorsed by Cosima (Wagner's wife - sandgroper), who was much more anti-Semitic than Richard.

....Wagner's works have been blacklisted in the modern state of Israel, and what few performances have occurred have evoked much controversy. Although they are commonly broadcast on government-owned radio and television stations, attempts at staging public performances have been halted by protests, especially by Holocaust survivors. For instance, after Daniel Barenboim conducted a passage from Tristan and Isolde as an encore at the 2001 Israel Festival, a parliamentary committee urged a boycott of the conductor, and an initially scheduled performance of Die Walk├╝re had to be withdrawn. On another occasion, Zubin Mehta played Wagner in Israel in spite of walkouts and jeers from the audience.

...Overall, Richard Wagner is hard not to find anti-Semitic, but has had varied religious views over his life and an odd mix of beliefs and friends.

Personally, I'll sit out the Parsifal performance in the lobby, and wait for the Beethoven which follows (music from a real mensch). Otherwise, if I'm in the auditorium at the time, I'm liable to disturb the Wagner performance with a loud rendition of Hatikva - Sandgroper

*** As Wagner's second wife, Cosima recorded in her diary on 28.3.1881, Richard Wagner called Parsifal 'a retort to Gobineau', who had characterized the Germans as the 'last card' of nature, probably a reference to his despair that evolution was destroying his beloved, superior "Aryan race..."

Opinion: Israeli-Palestinian talks at this time doomed to failure

This opinion piece by Shlomo Avineri is a "must-read", reprinted in full from Ynetnews - Opinion - Say "No" to Road Map, 1/9/05. Shlomo Avineri is a professor of political science at the Hebrew University and former director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (emphasis added - Sangroper) ...

The completion of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northwestern Samaria raises the question of the next political moves. International parties, as well as groups in Israel, are talking about an attempt to go back to the U.S.-brokered Road Map peace initiative.

There would be no greater mistake. The Road Map was never more than a list of desires and the fact is everything that took place on the ground, namely an Israeli withdrawal of historic significance and a relative lull in violence on the part of Palestinian terror groups, did not stem from the Map, but rather, political wants on both sides.

This will be the case in the future, too.

The gaps between the Israeli and Palestinian positions, which emerged in the Camp David negotiations in 2000, have not narrowed. The opposite may be true, following four years of massive Palestinian terror attacks and harsh Israeli responses.

Whoever thinks gaps related to final-status borders, the future of more than 200,000 West Bank settlers, and the questions of Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugee problem, can be bridged now, is simply living in a world of delusions and illusions.

Even a more limited agenda, such as negotiations on the establishment of a Palestinian state within “temporary borders,” is unrealistic. It is clear that the Palestinians will insist that the deal also outline the permanent borders of such state, something Israel would not agree to.

More unilateral moves?
What can be done then? Only several unilateral moves on both sides. On the part of Israel: Seriously consider the possibility of disengaging from close to 20 isolated West Bank communities. Such move, despite the inherent difficulties, is politically viable and would provide the Palestinians with an area that enjoys territorial contiguity.

On the Palestinian side: The strengthening of Palestinian Authority control over its security services and armed militias, including the Hamas. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas knows well that no Israeli government would hold talks with him unless he’s the master of his own house.

He already formulated the objective of “one government, one law, one rifle” – now we’ll be able to see if he can realize it.

What is also needed is the beginning of an internal Palestinian process where the leadership tells refugees in the camps, in contradiction to the propaganda they’ve been fed in the past 50 years, that they will not be returning to Israel.

Those who say this will be difficult for the Palestinians are correct, of course. The evacuation of Gush Katif was also difficult. Painful decisions are essential, but on both sides, not only on the part of Israel.

Such moves would reduce the friction, and perhaps lay the groundwork for meaningful talks in the future. Whoever rushes into negotiations now is doomed for failure, and such failure, as was proven in Camp David, does not mark a return to square one, but rather, a fall into an abyss.

PA: Israel doesn't deserve reward from Pakistan

From Ynetnews 1/9/2005, by Ali Waked ....

Pakistani foreign minister (L) with Shalom (Photo: AP)

Palestinian officials expressed disgruntlement regarding meeting between Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and his Pakistani counterpart, which focused on possibility of establishing diplomatic relations between the countries. Senior Hamas member Khaled Mashal says, even if Abbas gave the Pakistanis green light to hold the meeting he barely represents himself.

...The Palestinians were not satisfied with clarifications presented by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who said his country would not recognize Israel as long as Israeli presence in the territories persists.

PA Minister of Information Nabil Shaath told Al-Jazeerah, Israel has done nothing so a country such as Pakistan should reward it with a prize.... “We cannot dictate Pakistan’s foreign policy, but we expect our friends and allies to demand that Israel give us our rights back in return.”

Senior Hamas member Khaled Mashal said in response to the meeting, “We staunchly condemn the meeting that took place while Israel continues to conquer our land and populate Jerusalem with Jews.” “Even if the report whereby (PA Chairman) Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) gave the Pakistanis the green light to hold the meeting is true – he barely represents himself. I am certain Fatah and the entire Palestinian nation object to the meeting,” he said.

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine issued a statement saying, “This is political gain that was offered to Israel for nothing. Unfortunately, the Pakistani concessions regarding the country’s relations with Israel and the U.S. are taking place while Israel’s expansion policy continues at the expense of the Palestinian nation and the continued conquest of Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as at a time when refugees are prevented from exercising their right to return to their homes.”

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Chabad Hurricane Relief Fund

If you wish to donate to the Hurricane Relief Fund, please visit the following link:

Chabad Hurricane Relief Fund

For up to date news:

Chabad Hurricane Relief

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Foreign Aid - to terrorists

Italian Red Cross helped Iraqi terrorists

On Thursday, August 25, 2005; 20:11 GMT, CNN reported that the Italian Red Cross treated four 'presumed Iraqi terrorists' at its Baghdad hospital to secure the release of two kidnapped Italian aid workers, according to a media report.

Maurizio Scelli, the outgoing commissioner of the aid organization, is reported to have said the deal to free the two was kept secret from U.S. officials.

Red Cross spokesman Fabrizio Centofanti later confirmed to CNN that the organization had treated the Iraqis. "It did help presumed Iraqi terrorists, but it did so in the spirit of the Red Cross to help out everyone in need."

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office... said the Red Cross was independent and did not answer to the government.

Scelli, who was present at the handover of the two aid workers on September 28, said he helped to secure the women's release. He told La Stampa that the decision to hide details about the operation from U.S. officials was approved by Gianni Letta, Berlusconi's right-hand man.

Honour is a two-way street

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: Aug. 28, 2005 2:57 Updated Aug. 28, 2005 14:07 "The politics of honor in the Middle East", By GERALD STEINBERG ...

In a recent column on Iran's attempts to acquire nuclear weapons, Rami Khouri advised the US government and the International Atomic Energy Agency to avoid insulting Iran or impinging on its honor. Khouri, editor-at-large of the Beirut-based Daily Star and a respected Arab analyst, makes many to references to honor, particularly in discussing Palestinian-Israeli relations. And this is not exceptional, as honor is one of the most repeated themes in politics and human relations.

But it is also very problematic. In the case of Iran, for example, after the shadow government under the control of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei climbed far out on a limb by building and then operating illicit uranium enrichment plants, we are told that the response must avoid insulting Iranian honor. Similarly, the apologists for Yasser Arafat's failure to discuss any compromise proposals at the Camp David summit in July 2000 are still trying to sell the claim that this was due to perceived insults on the part of Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton.

In many cases, 'honor' is also a one-way street. Iran's dignity must be protected, but there is no parallel concern regarding the stream of Iranian insults directed at 'the Great Satan' or 'the Little Satan' (Israel). And there are no references to honor when missiles are paraded through the streets of Teheran with placards declaring 'Wipe Israel off the Map.' In the same vein, while Israelis are often chastised for alleged insults to Arab dignity, there is no international outcry when Israeli and American flags are burned in the public squares of Arab cities.

This double standard, which gives selective license for insults and threats, and protection from penalties for violating commitments and treaties, is often excused in terms of cultural differences. According to the dominant diplomatic and academic theories, Eastern cultures are more sensitive to issues of status and dignity than those in the West. Therefore, we are told, US, European and Israeli negotiators (in this sense, Israel is part of the West) must be particularly careful to avoid any words or actions that might be seen as demeaning, but must themselves be immune to such concerns.

Arabs and Muslims are often seen as obsessed by honor. Young women murdered by family members are considered to be victims of "honor killings," and legal proceedings, including punishment, are very lenient. In this and many other areas, the sanctity of culture often excuses behavior that, in other circumstances, would be condemned as unacceptable.

.... "culture" can often be a source of manipulation. The relative acceptance of Arab honor killings reflects the low status of women and male dominance in these societies. In these cases, personal codes of honor are substitutes for a functioning legal system based on
equality and justice.

Similarly, in international politics factors such as national honor and dignity gain exaggerated importance in the absence of a functioning and equitable legal system. Honor provides a convenient cover for pursuing policies that would otherwise lead to sanctions, or even military responses.....

The writer directs the Program on Conflict Management at Bar-Ilan University and is the editor of

Beersheba suicide attack - 2 seriously wounded

From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World Aug. 28, 2005 8:37 Updated Aug. 28, 2005 15:48, By ARIEH O'SULLIVAN, MARGOT DUDKEVITCH AND JPOST STAFF ...

A suicide bomb attack at the entrance to the central bus station in Beersheba critically wounded two security guards Sunday morning and caused a total of 48 people to be evacuated to the Soroka Medical Center.

Soroka Medical Center emergency number: 12-55-177

Forty-six of the 48 evacuees to Soroka were only lightly wounded. Most were witnesses who were treated for shock.

A Beersheba taxi driver who was arrested on suspicion that he drove the suicide bomber to the scene of the attack was released from police custody after they determined that he had no connection to the bomber. Following the bombing, police have arrested dozens of illegal Palestinians living in the Beersheba area.

Security forces say ...that initial indications showed that it was likely that the bomber came from southern West Bank.... Construction of the security fence there has not yet been completed.

The attack is almost identical to a suicide bombing in Beersheba one year ago, on August 31, 2004, which came from Hebron hills. ...The area is known to be rife with wildcat terror cells who operate without orders from above and have not abided by the ceasefire.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office severely condemned the bombing ... and charged the Palestinian Authority for failing to take action against terrorism.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat also condemned the attack. ...

Israeli PM faces West Bank gamble

From BBC NEWS World Middle East Israeli PM faces West Bank gamble: By Jonathan Marcus, BBC News diplomatic correspondent ...

Ariel Sharon intends to hold on to the large West Bank settlements. Even as Israeli forces moved in to clear four West Bank settlements, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reaffirmed his commitment to settlement construction. Mr Sharon was referring to the large blocs of Ariel and Maale Adumim, and controversial plans for new suburbs linking the latter to Jerusalem.

He has made no secret of his intention to hold on the major West Bank blocs. His stance could lead to confrontation with the US if it insists Israel give them up as part of a wider peace deal.
But Mr Sharon believes the US will not force Israel to take that step. He takes as justification for this view a letter he received from US President George W Bush in April 2004 which talks of 'new realities on the ground'.

...But it is far from clear that this is the way the Bush administration sees things.
It wants to revive the internationally-backed peace plan - the 'road map' - which insists at the outset on a freeze in Israeli settlement construction.

...So, on the face of things, Israel's pullout from Gaza has just laid the grounds for a potential diplomatic confrontation between Mr Bush and Mr Sharon.

...Much now depends upon what happens in Gaza. Will the Palestinians focus on peaceful reconstruction or will radical groups seek to use the abandoned settlements as launch-pads for attacks into Israel? ...

Israel urges PA to crack down on Hamas after video release

From Jerusalem post Aug. 27, 2005 4:51 Updated Aug. 27, 2005 18:18 By ASSOCIATED PRESS GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip ...

Hamas on Saturday released a rare videotape of a man it said is the bombmaker pursued by Israeli security forces for more than a decade. The man, identifying himself as Israel's most-wanted terrorist Muhammad Deif, described Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as a victory for armed resistance, rejected calls for his group to disarm, and vowed to continue attacks on Israel until the Jewish state is erased from the map. 'You are leaving Gaza today in shame,' he said. 'Today you are leaving hell. But we promise you that tomorrow all Palestine will be hell for you, God willing.'

Israeli officials on Saturday urged the Palestinian Authority to crack down on Hamas following the release of the videotape. Gideon Meir, a senior Foreign Ministry official, said the Gaza pullout was aimed in part at improving the atmosphere between Israel and the Palestinians. He said the comments by Deif threaten the chances of resuming peace talks, which Israel has said would depend on the Palestinian Authority's willingness to disarm militant groups...

JPost Staff contributed to this report