The Bible Teaching Ministry of David Hocking
“The Word of our God shall stand forever” Isaiah 40:8

Archive for May, 2012


Thursday, May 31st, 2012

by Gabe Kahn (Arutz Sheva News)

Iran has razed two buildings near a suspected nuclear-trigger test site inside of its sprawling Parchin military complex.

Satellite images taken on May 25 confirm the destruction of two buildings IAEA inspectors have sought access to were published on Wednesday by the Institute for Science and International Security.

“These activities raise further concerns of Iranian efforts to destroy evidence of alleged past nuclear weaponization,” the Washington-based ISIS said in a six-page written analysis.

Diplomats had alluded to the satellite images in closed-door meetings on Iran’s nuclear program earlier this week.

IAEA inspectors have been wrangling with Tehran over access to the Parchin facility since January, where it is believed Iran had constructed a high-explosives test chamber for nuclear detonation research.

“The razing of the two buildings may also indicate that Iran has no intention to allow inspectors access soon,” David Albright and Robert Avagyan wrote for ISIS.

“Iran should immediately allow the IAEA access to Parchin and explain the significance of these apparent clean-up activities,” they added.

Last week, IAEA officials announced they had reached an agreement with Iranian authorities for greater access to Tehran’s nuclear sites, including Parchin.

Iran is under multiple international sanctions stemming from concerns Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons, a charge the Islamic republic denies.

Two IAEA reports published since late 2011 charge Iran has engaged in nuclear research of a military nature, and is enriching far more uranium to 20% than its claims of nuclear medicine research can justify.

Iran has systemically obstructed IAEA inspectors seeking access to its nuclear sites in contravention of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In March, as tensions over access to the Parchin site reached a crescendo, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said “Iran is not telling us everything.”

The building’s destruction – now publicly confirmed – has been broadly interpreted as a part of an Iranian attempt to cover up illicit military nuclear weapons research.

Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon on Wednesday remarked “Iran is deceiving the West all the way to a bomb.”

For “the last three months, while it talks with world powers, Tehran has significantly accelerated the pace of Iranian nuclear enrichment, Yaalon said at an Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv

In that time “they have produced 36 pounds, one-third of the amount that the Iranians need [for a bomb], has been enriched to 20% in the face of Western demands,” he explained.

Yaalon’s comments come ahead of a third round of talks between the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – and Iran in Moscow on June 18 and 19.

Ahead of the second round of failed talks in Bagdad, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said “I see no evidence Iran is ready to end its nuclear program.”

He was joined by Defense Minister Ehud Barak who told reporters he was “skeptical” that Iran was serious, and charged Tehran was using the talks to buy time for nuclear weapons research.


Thursday, May 31st, 2012

by Gabe Kahn (Arutz Sheva News)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he believes his 94-seat super-coalition is a historic opportunity – and mandate – for peace.

“On the peace process,” Netanyahu told attendees at an Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv. “We are 94 Members of Knesset. This is an opportunity to advance the peace process, an opportunity which may not repeat itself, in my opinion, in the next ten years.”

“Waiting and inaction lead to the mere illusion of quiet. We’re on borrowed time,” Netanyahu warned. “We will get stuck in a corner, or we’ll arrive at a wall, and we’ll pay the price… some people today prefer to settle in a coma…”

Netanyahu explained his clear departure from the Likud’s traditional dedication to greater Israel in favor of the so-called two-state solution as a means of avoiding the creation of a binational state.

“A peace agreement with the Palestinians is necessary first and foremost to prevent a bi-national state,” he said. “It is preferable to live in peace. Peace is better than any other situation, but we need to prevent a bi-national state, as well as strengthen the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic country.”

Netanyahu also invoked his Bar Ilan speech, in which he indicated a willingness to cede most of Judea and Samaria while retaining the major Jewish settlement blocs, and control of the Jordan Valley. It is unclear, however, if Netanyahu would annex the Jordan Valley, or simply maintain a military presence there.

“We do not want to rule over the Palestinians, nor do we want the Palestinians to be citizens of the State of Israel,” he said. “That is why three times – in my speech at Bar Ilan, in my speech in the Knesset and later in my speech at the American Congress – I declared that I support and welcome peace between two nation-states – a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, and Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people.”

“I believe there is very broad support among the people for such a peace agreement,” he repeated, adding “One based on mutual respect and security for Israel. By security, I mean substantive security arrangements on the ground that provide a response to the ongoing threats and any new threats that are introduced.

Netanyahu also sought to shift the onus for negotiations to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who has used a laundry list of preconditions as a fait accompli to forestall talks and pursue a unilateral track.

“I believe that the unity government under my leadership is an expression of this broad support, and I call again on Mahmoud Abbas not to miss this unique opportunity and give peace a chance,” Netanyahu said.

“Let me clarify – I have not set any conditions to enter into negotiations,” he said, repeating his willingness to begin negotiations immediately. “Certainly I will have conditions to conclude negotiations, and so will Mahmoud Abbas. This is natural and it is the reason we conduct negotiations. But this is why I say to Abbas – don’t miss out on this opportunity to extend your hand in peace.”

“If I had to say it another way,” Netanyahu said, quoting the 1969 John Lennon single, “I would say, ‘President Abbas, all we are saying is ‘give peace a chance.'”

“This is a real opportunity. It will not necessarily be repeated in general or political history, but it exists now and peace negotiations need two sides. One side is ready and willing. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians is in the clear interest of both peoples.”

Critics of Netanyahu’s push to pursue peace say he has failed to adjust to the clear unilateral paradigm adopted by senior PLO officials – and that his government has not shifted its strategic posture to secure Israel’s interests as a result.

Abbas continues to demand Israel accept the indefensible pre-1967 lines as final borders, release all Arab terrorists from its jails, and halt construction for a second time before talks begin.

The previous 10-month construction freeze in the ‘disputed territories’ by Israel was not only rebuffed, but met with Abbas failed unilateral statehood bid at the United Nations last September.

They did not define “popular resistance,” regional observers note Article 9 of the PLO charter continues to assert, “Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase.”

It also maintains “Palestine” is defined by the British Mandate and is “indivisible” – thus leaving no room for Israel to exist at all. PLO officials have refused to amend their charter numerous times since the 1993 Oslo Accords were signed.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said at the same conference, “If it is impossible to reach an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, we should consider an interim arrangement, or even a unilateral disengagement.”


Thursday, May 31st, 2012


Thanks to a recent reinstatement of foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority (P.A.), our tax dollars are now being used to proliferate anti-Israeli sentiment among Palestinian children and to recruit Palestinian men for ongoing terrorist activities aimed at the nation of Israel.

Foreign aid and other supportive actions toward an organization sworn to Israel’s destruction are both ill-advised and wildly dangerous.

Last year, United States aid to the Palestinian Authority was frozen during their failed attempt to declare “statehood” and thereby gain recognition by the United Nations. But last month, President Obama overrode Congress and quietly lifted the ban on aid to the Palestinians under the guise of “assisting in infrastructure, education, humanitarian aid, and health projects,” and in favor of “the national security interests of the United States.”

“Palestinian lawmaker Abdallah said the money ‘is not a substitute for American wrong policy’ and derided the United States for being impotent in criticizing Israeli policies.”

The United States has contributed about $500 million annually to the Palestinians over the past decade, including millions to train “security forces.” Our tax dollars are used to support P.A. terrorism.

In justifying the reinstatement of the Palestinian aid, President Obama’s National Security Council spokesperson, Tommy Vietor, said… “The P.A. has recognized Israel’s right to exist, renounced violence, and accepted previous agreements, including the Roadmap,” to a peace plan.

Itamar Marcus, the head of Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli research institute, refutes the Obama Administration’s rationale as foolish due to “totally, totally false information.”

Marcus reported to staffers on Capitol Hill…The Palestinian Authority is in total violation of these principles detailed by the White House, and actually uses U.S. aid to teach its youth to hate Israel and become violent terrorists intent on eliminating the Jewish state.
For instance, during a broadcast of a popular Palestinian children’s show earlier this month, a child is praised for stating: “Our enemy, Zion, is Satan with a tail.” Now, a music video produced by Palestinians used for recruiting young men for the “revolution” has emerged. The video declares…“To its men, to its men, the revolution calls to its men.” The images in this video are of Palestinian men training for and engaging in warfare, and includes images of much younger men throwing rocks. Some Palestinian leaders have dedicated their entire lives to the annihilation of Israel and have made them their blood-sworn enemy.


Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu (Arutz Sheva News)

Iran is convinced that Israel and the United States are unable to stage an attack on its nuclear facilities, Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) Wednesday morning.

He added that Iran is only trying to buy time while it tries to reach the point where it cannot be successfully attacked and can develop the capability to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

Speaking at an INSS conference at Tel Aviv University, Barak warned, “The Iranian threat is significant and is not disappearing. We are at a fateful crossroads.” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spelled out at the conference Tuesday night Israel’s demands from the world powers trying to reach an agreement with Iran over international supervision of its nuclear program. Iran already is enriching 20 percent grade uranium, a key element for a nuclear weapon, and Israel wants it to be restricted to “zero enrichment.”

“Why not draw clear red lines,” Barak said in his lecture, adding that the Iranian Ayatollah and his aides “are not dumb and correctly understand [their nuclear program] is being exposed and that action might be taken to endanger their progress.

Barak also warned, “The practicality of their actions is to buy more time until it is immune to an attack and can take the additional step of manufacturing a nuclear weapon.”

He explained that the “Iranians work systematically and patiently” towards their nuclear objective.

The Defense Minster said the world’s objective must be “to stop Iran from gaining nuclear capability, and no option should be taken off the table.”

He said that besides the Iranian threat, Israel faces other challenges from terrorism in general and from the entire situation in the Middle East.

Noting that he and Prime Minister Netanyahu do not “take decisions by ourselves in some dark room,” Barak declared, “The government of Israel is responsible for taking decisions on the future of the security of the country – and I carefully add for the Jewish people, most of whom live in our tiny country.”


Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

by Rachel Hirshfeld (IsraelNationalNews)

Germany is “very concerned” about Iran’s nuclear program posing a threat to Europe, as well as the Middle East, German President Joachim Gauck said in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

“I’m very concerned about Iran’s nuclear program. It represents not only a concrete danger for Israel but for the whole region and potentially even for us in Europe,” he said upon meeting Israeli President Shimon Peres.

He nonetheless asserted the need for finding a diplomatic solution to the conflict. “Germany is committed to a diplomatic solution based on sanctions,” he said, referring to increased sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic by Western powers in an effort to curtail the regime’s nuclear ambitions.

“Iran’s President is threatening a new Shoah. We cannot ignore that,” Gauck said.

“The commitment to Israel’s security and right to exist is a determining factor of Germany’s politics.”

During his visit, the German President visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum and met with the families of the slain Israeli athletes, who were murdered by Arab terrorists during the 1972 Munich Games 40 years ago.

He also met Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich, an official statement said.

Peres welcomed the German Premier saying, “During the 47 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries, we have built an extensive network of close ties that are not solely reserved to statesmen and diplomats, but also encompass our two peoples.”

“Within this framework there is the need for an open, sincere and candid dialogue among German and Israeli youth, in which they will discuss the past and build the future,” he said.


Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

One of our dearest friends has died today! Israeli General Shimon Erem! General Shimon is survived by his wife Danielle. The funeral is set for 1:00 PM at Hillside Jewish Cemetery on Wednesday, May 30, 2012.

After service in the British army in WWII, Shimon became involved in clandestine operations to smuggle Jewish refugees into Israel. He also served as General in the Israeli Defense Forces.

After moving to the United States in 1970, he was involved in strategic research, both with the Department of Defense and American intelligence agencies. He was active in AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. He was also a former president of Benei Brith in the western USA and former Chair of the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces.

General Erem held Master degrees in economics (Columbia University) and in agriculture (Hebrew University in Jerusalem).
His wife, Danielle, holds a Doctorate in Law from the French University in Beirut, Lebanon.

General Erem has been at the forefront of efforts to garner support of Israel among American Christians and to build bridges between Israeli and Christian communities.

His dynamic presentations, his commitment to Biblical truth, his love for people, and his untiring efforts to influence both Jews and Christians to support the Nation of Israel will not soon be forgotten.

A debt of gratitude we all owe to this loyal servant of the LORD GOD of Israel!


Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

by Chana Ya’ar (Arutz Sheva News)

Iranian security experts report a virus far more dangerous than the Stuxnet worm has struck the country’s computer systems.

Dubbed the “Flame,” the virus is one that has struck not only Iran, however, but a number of other enemies of Israel as well.

The Kaspersky Internet security firm is calling the “Flame” data-stealing virus the “most sophisticated cyber-weapon yet unleashed” and hinted it may have been created by the makers of the Stuxnet worm.

Kaspersky called the virus a “cyber-espionage worm” designed to collect and delete sensitive information, primarily in Middle Eastern countries.

The “Flame” has struck at least 600 specific computer systems in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority, Kaspersky malware expert Vitaly Kamluk told the BBC. He added that the virus has probably been operating discreetly for at least two years.

“This virus is stronger than its predecessor,” he said. “It is one that could only have been created by a state or other large entity.”

Problems in Iran’s computer systems are also continuing to surface in connection with the 2010 “Stuxnet” virus. The malware successfully disabled the computers that operated Iran’s uranium enrichment facility. More than 16,000 of the Natanz facility’s centrifuges were destroyed as a result of the cyber attack.


Monday, May 28th, 2012

By David Dolan

The Israeli political scene was shaken to its core during May when the main opposition Kadima party unexpectedly joined the coalition government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu after Kadima leaders vowed never to do so. This has left Israel with one of its strongest governments ever, with over three-fourths of the current Knesset members included in the broad “national unity” coalition. Only the emergency government formed on the eve of the Six-Day War in 1967 was larger. The political earthquake sparked off immediate speculation in Israel and abroad that the unforeseen marriage between the country’s two largest political parties, Likud and Kadima, might portend another crucial conflict ahead—this time an Israeli military attack upon nuclear production targets in the hostile Shiite Muslim country of Iran.

Kadima’s surprise decision to join the government came just over one month after Shaul Mofaz was elected party leader, defeating former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a fierce opponent of Prime Minister Netanyahu. The dramatic merger was the apparent result of the PM’s early May announcement that he had decided to move up national parliamentary elections from October 2013 to September of this year. This came after several public opinion surveys showed his Likud party would gain several more seats if national elections were held this year, while Kadima would lose around half of its current 28 seats. The veteran Premier seemingly hoped his proposal to advance the vote would draw Mofaz into his current coalition government, which it obviously did, thus staving off any need for early elections.

The new unity government policy guidelines focus on two controversial issues that have long been hotly debated in Israel: Spreading the military draft, or at least compulsory community service, to all young Israelis, including ultra-Orthodox Jews and all Arab-Israeli citizens, and reformation of the country’s electoral system. With 94 Knesset members now part of the ruling coalition, it is thought that significant legislation touching upon both issues has a real chance to finally pass muster in the 120 member Knesset. Until now, ultra-Orthodox parties, especially Shas, always threatened to bring down the various coalitions they were partners in if such legislation was enacted.

The speculation about an attack on Iranian nuclear targets was partially propelled by the fact that Kadima’s new leader had a long and distinguished military career, and would therefore prove a real asset inside the cabinet if Israel goes to war with the Shiite regime and its regional allies. After serving in all of Israel’s armed conflicts from the Six-Day War onward, Mofaz was appointed Armed Forces Chief of Staff during Netanyahu’s first term as Prime Minister in 1998. In 2002, then-Likud leader Ariel Sharon named him Defense Minister, citing his skilled performance in quelling the armed Palestinian Al Aksa revolt that broke out in September 2000.
Meanwhile Iran’s armed forces chief vowed during the month that his country would stick to its declared goal to eventually annihilate Israel, demonstrating once again just how serious is the Shiite regime’s frequent vow to wipe out the world’s only Jewish State. This came just one week before senior diplomats from six world powers met once again with their Iranian counterparts to try and persuade them to halt, or at least scale back, their country’s threatening uranium enrichment program. As expected in Jerusalem, the talks produced little discernable results. Just before the diplomats gathered in Baghdad, Iran’s controversial President denied his country is interested in producing nuclear weapons, a contention not at all believed by Israeli officials. A top expert on Iran’s nuclear program said Tehran has already enriched enough uranium to quickly assemble several nuclear bombs. To the north of Israel, fierce fighting between supporters and opponents of brutal Syrian dictator Bashar Assad ominously spread to neighboring Lebanon during the month, where the heavily-armed Iranian-backed Hizbullah militia is based.

With his broad, more centrist government in place, PM Netanyahu sent a letter to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas urging him to quickly return to the negotiating table. However the PA leader rebuffed the invitation and announced he would visit Cairo and other Arab capitals to brief them on his stand. Earlier in the month, Abbas phoned Netanyahu to offer condolences on the passing of his father, who died in Jerusalem at the ripe age of 102. Meanwhile the Israeli public and police were focused during May on a growing crime wave in south Tel Aviv involving illegal African migrants, who number around 50,000 in the area. Calls for them to be quickly repatriated to their homelands, mainly Eritrea and Sudan, grew as the alarming crime wave intensified.

As feared in Israel, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate for President of Egypt, Muhammad Mursi, came out on top in the first round of elections held late in the month. The extremist politician—who is highly critical of the Jewish State, calls for a Muslim caliphate to eventually rule over the region, and advocates scaling back relations with Israel, if not breaking them off entirely—will face Ahmed Shafiq, the last Prime Minister to serve under ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Although the final ballot is scheduled to take place the middle of June, challenges to the veracity of the preliminary vote might put off the second round election.


In late March, the main opposition Kadima party held a national leadership vote, only the second contest inside the party since Ariel Sharon broke away from the Likud in 2005 to form the new center-left party. Nearly 15,000 registered Kadima members voted in polling booths set up all over the country. When the results were announced, Shaul Mofaz was the runaway winner, trouncing his opponent, then-party leader Tzipi Livni, by a whopping 61.7% to 37.3%. The defeated Livni, known for her visceral loathing of Netanyahu, resigned from the Knesset in early May. Soon afterwards, Mofaz took the dramatic step of accepting PM Netanyahu’s invitation to join his conservative coalition government.
Demonstrating his current political clout, the veteran Likud leader (hailed during May as “King Bibi” on an American Time magazine cover due to his enhanced political power) was able to persuade all of his coalition partners to accept the addition of Kadima into the broad unity government. This was despite the fact that the 11-seat Shas party, which was the third largest in Netanyahu’s previous coalition and holds four cabinet posts, is light years away from the center-left secular party. Shas virulently opposes Kadima’s calls for non-religious civil marriages in Israel and its demands for a radical change in the current military draft laws, as mentioned above. However Shas leaders apparently realized they would only serve to significantly weaken their own power and influence—not to mention lose their government largess—if they tried to veto the new unity marriage deal, or exited the Netanyahu coalition. After all, the Likud party and Kadima alone comprise nearly half the seats in the current Knesset, and the two other main coalition partners, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party (with 15 seats) and Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s Independence Party (5), were very unlikely to ever bolt the coalition. So the new unity government would have remained strong and viable even if Shas had headed for the opposition doors, rendering it pointless to do so.

It was crystal clear to all Israeli political pundits why Shaul Mofaz—who vowed earlier this year to never join a Netanyahu-led government—and Ehud Barak were eager to see the cancellation of advanced elections. Opinion surveys published by several Israeli newspapers in early May revealed that while the Likud party would move up from its current 27 seats to at least 30 (with some polls going as high as 32), Kadima would shrink from its existing 28 seats to around 13, less than half its current total. Shas would drop from 11 seats to just 7 or 8, while Defense Minister Barak’s new party, which split away from Labor early last year, would not even secure enough votes to make it into the next Knesset. Mofaz is apparently hoping that his entrance into the unity government, and appointment as Acting Premier when Netanyahu is out of the country, will enhance his power and stature and thus win his party more mandates than the current polls predict in the scheduled late 2013 elections. Barak will at least secure another year and half in his important role as Defense Minister during a time when a military showdown with Iran, and possibly with Hizbullah, Hamas and Syria as well, seems increasingly probable.

Most Israeli political analysts concur that “Bibi’s” almost unprecedented political power (only David Ben Gurion will have served longer as Prime Minister by this time next year) is the result of several factors. Chief among them is the virtual collapse of the American-brokered peace process with the Palestinians that was initiated by the once dominant Labor party in the early 1990s, which has never been successfully revived following the violent Al Aksa uprising that tore the land apart one decade ago. Ehud Barak is best remembered for trying, and failing, to secure a final peace accord with PA leader Yasser Arafat on the eve of the blood-soaked Palestinian revolt after defeating Netanyahu in the 1999 national vote. Mofaz is the leader of a party that was mostly formed by Likud members who supported Ariel Sharon’s infamous Gaza withdrawal in 2005. As Netanyahu accurately predicted at the time, that fiercely contested pullout only led to a new wave of deadly rocket and terrorist attacks emanating from the Palestinian coastal zone, which fell under total Hamas control in 2007. Many analysts expect that some current Kadima Knesset members will return to their original Likud home in the coming months, further strengthening Netanyahu’s influence and prestige.


Predicting that “We are going to achieve great things,” Benjamin Netanyahu held a press conference with Shaul Mofaz at his side on May 8th, the same day the unexpected political merger was announced. The two party leaders hailed their coalition accord as “historic,” terming it also “a source of hope for Israel.” Answering questions concerning his about face following earlier pledges to stay out of a Netanyahu-led government, Mofaz averred that he had “put the need for unity” above his previous statements and long-term political career. He added it had “been a mistake” for his Kadima predecessor, Tzipi Livni, to turn down Netanyahu’s invitation to join his new government in 2009. When other reporters questioned the ability of the broad coalition to hold together, Netanyahu insisted the media should not “rush to bury” the new alliance, adding, “I think I’m steering the state and my party effectively.”

The Premier stated that “Israel needs stability” at this time, insisting his accord with Kadima would bring that about. The statement was met with instant heckling by a legislator from the small left-wing Meretz party who shouted out that Netanyahu had “sunk to new levels of shamefulness,” a position espoused by most members of leftist Jewish and Arab Israeli political parties, groups and media outlets. However the interruption did not seem to faze the popular PM, who went on to outline “the historic opportunities” that the 94 Knesset member alliance proffers in the areas of reforming the military draft and electoral systems, and reviving the moribund peace process. He noted that opinion polls demonstrate there is “wide public consensus” concerning these issues, meaning the secular Jewish majority in the country could easily have their reform wishes met in the face of vocal religious and Arab opposition if only their preponderant Knesset representatives are willing to work together.
Netanyahu hinted several times that major challenges loom on the immediate horizon, making the need for national unity both urgent and essential. This was widely interpreted as an allusion to a possible pending IDF military strike on Iran’s nuclear program and the expected Iranian-led regional counterattack upon Israel, plus the growing armed conflict inside Syria, now spreading to Lebanon, and the ascension of Islamic militants to power in Egypt. Initially he stated rather mildly that “this is the time for unity,” then adding a bit more strongly “It is a defining moment.” Stepping up his tone, he stressed that “this unity is not a fiction…it is truly designed to strengthen Israel at a time of immense regional upheaval.” In other words, he was insisting that the unity accord is not just a political act meant to strengthen his personal position, but an urgent national need at a critical time in the modern history of Israel and the explosive region.

All of the remaining small Knesset opposition parties poured scorn on the broad coalition deal, predicting it would quickly fall apart. Labor politician Isaac Herzog, son of the late President Chaim Herzog who was born and raised in Belfast, said the accord would “produce so much revulsion in the country” that it would work to expand Labor’s predicted pickup of seats in the next election. Recent polls projected that under new populist Labor party leader and former television news presenter Shelly Yachimovich, Labor would have captured around 15 seats had early elections been held this year, meaning the once mighty party has every reason to vehemently oppose the new unity deal.


The political, electoral and social reforms that Netanyahu and Mofaz agreed to pursue have been hot button issues in Israel for several decades. Currently Israel’s electoral system is entirely based on “proportional representation,” meaning no individual politician is ever chosen to either sit in the Knesset or become Prime Minister. Instead, party candidate lists are voted into the legislature. The threshold to win a seat is currently set at a mere two per cent of the overall national vote, meaning several small fringe parties usually make it into the legislature along with three or four larger secular parties, several Orthodox Jewish parties, and various Arab Israeli parties. To form a viable coalition, the candidate for Premier—who normally comes from the largest Knesset party, but not necessarily, as was the case with Netanyahu in 2009 when Kadima gained one more mandate than Likud—must knit together a coalition quilt whose survival is often at the mercy of the smallest parties involved. The new broad unity coalition is thought to have a fighting chance to enact proposed legislation to directly elect at least a portion of Knesset members in regional ballots, meaning the victors would most likely come from one of the large secular parties. This would diminish the number of Orthodox and Arab Knesset members since neither group is dominant in any one region.

An even more emotional issue for the two minority groups is the long-held issue of equal national service for all Israeli citizens. Currently most young ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and women are able to easily secure exemptions from compulsory military conscription, along with all Arab citizens, meaning the burden of defense falls to a full extent on the mostly non-observant Jewish public. This fact has long produced tensions in Israeli society, and even sometimes violence, given that many men in particular are forced to do extra annual reserve duty well into their adult years since around twenty per cent of all Jewish Israeli males contribute no service at all.
The issue came to the fore earlier this year when the Supreme Court overturned the 2002 “Tal Law,” which basically enshrined already existing arrangements where most ultra-Orthodox males could avoid the military draft by declaring themselves fulltime students at one of the hundreds of Jewish religious seminaries which dot the land. Both the Yisrael Beiteinu and Kadima parties have been calling for new legislation that would mandate some form of national service for all Israelis, as have several other smaller parties, with the understanding that most ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arab citizens would choose to serve in their local communities rather than in the military. The two coalition parties also want to see civil marriages and burials made legal in the Jewish State, which is naturally strongly opposed by Shas and other Orthodox parties. It is thought that most Likud members will support the proposed alterations to the Tal Law, as agreed to by Netanyahu in his coalition agreement with Mofaz, but will oppose the even more emotive issue of allowing civil weddings and interments in Israel.

There are several other hurdles that lie ahead for the new unity government. One is Netanyahu’s promise to appoint some Kadima legislators to cabinet positions by late this summer, meaning some current ministers will be forced to evacuate their posts. This is bound to stir up tensions inside the Likud and other coalition partners. Plus Mofaz only pledged to keep Kadima in the government until the end of this year, meaning new elections might be held during the first part of 2013 instead of the scheduled October. Still, many analysts say the broad government gives Israel a unique opportunity to enact some popular and necessary reforms, and to show its many enemies that they face a united people determined to survive as a thriving country located at the center of the world.


Monday, May 28th, 2012

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu (Arutz Sheva News)

Iran, with Hizbullah compliance, is behind plots to kill U.S. officials and Jews with sniper fire and bombs, The Washington Post reported Monday in its lead article.

The information on the plots is another thread in the growing web of apparent international terrorism backed by Iran against Americans and Jews and which so far has produced attempted assassinations and several reported plots. “There is not yet a smoking gun, but the pattern is clear, and each day the volume of evidence grows,” said a Western diplomat, quoted by the Washington Post.

India has determined that Iran was behind an assassination attempt on the wife of an Israeli embassy official several months ago, and plots in Baku as well as a bomb blast in Bangkok have been traced to Iran.

The Washington Post stated that U.S. intelligence officials knew in November that Iran was behind plans for snipers to use silencer-rifles and a car bomb to kill American embassy employees in Azerbaijan

Shortly afterwards, Azerbaijan arrested more than 20 suspects, but the newspaper added, “U.S. and Middle Eastern officials now see the attempts as part of a broader campaign by Iran-linked operatives to kill foreign diplomats in at least seven countries over a span of 13 months.”

Half a dozen Israelis, as well as two officials from Saudi Arabia, were among those who were on the terrorists’ hit list.

Recent information implicates Hizbullah, heavily financed by Iran, in the plots, but there is no conclusive evidence.

As Iran engages the international community in talks over its nuclear program, the threats have taken a lower profile, but a Western diplomat told the Washington newspaper, “What happens if the talks fail — that’s anyone’s guess.”

Azerbaijan and its neighbor Iran are on difficult terms, with Iran accusing its neighbor of being an ally of Israel, which allegedly has struck an agreement allowing Israel to use its air space, and possible its territory, to stage an attack on Iranian nuclear installations.

Azerbaijan revealed several months ago that 10 Iranians were involved in plots for smuggling weapons and explosives into the country to kill Jews in Baku.

Other terrorist plots include the foiled assassination of Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington earlier this year and plots to kill diplomats in several Asian countries, including Turkey and Pakistan


Saturday, May 26th, 2012

by Jerusalem Post Staff

A major theme running throughout the book of Ruth is loving kindness. The public reading of the Book of Ruth gives Shavuot, a holiday with many dimensions of meaning, yet another facet of profundity. At the center of the book is Ruth’s physical and spiritual journey away from Moabite culture, her embrace of the Jewish people via her mother-in-law Naomi and her subsequent remarriage to Boaz.

There is the loving kindness conveyed by Ruth to Naomi by her decision to abandon her homeland and follow her mother-in-law to the land of Israel. There is Naomi’s reciprocal compassion for Ruth, first in her attempt to convince Ruth not to leave all that is familiar for a foreign land and people, and later in her endeavor to help Ruth integrate into Judean society. And there is Boaz’s kindness towards Ruth and Naomi.

Today over three thousand years later, non-Jews are still following in Ruth’s footsteps. Thousands are abandoning the religion into which they were born and raised and choosing to tie their fate to the Jewish people and to live in the first Jewish state in nearly two thousand years.

Unfortunately many of the converts who come to the modern State of Israel encounter not the loving kindness and warmth of modern-day Boazs and Naomis but the passion for red tape, the thickskulled callousness and the xenophobic fears of bureaucrats, religious functionaries and other assorted government lackeys, closed-minded rabbis and uncaring politicians.

This fact was evident from a new report released ahead of Shavuot by ITIM: Resources and Advocacy for Jewish Life. ITIM, an organization founded by Orthodox Rabbi Seth Farber to navigate the incredibly complex and aggravating maze of bureaucracy created by a state-funded Orthodox Rabbinate that sees its duty not so much as serving the public as protecting a stringent, uncompromising form of Orthodoxy from “corruption” by outside sources – including by converts to Judaism whose intentions are perennially suspect.

And this fundamental suspicion of converts – or prospective converts – has infiltrated into the ranks of the ostensibly non-sectarian Interior Ministry, whose job is to implement immigration policy not scrutinize the authenticity of an individual’s spiritual faith.

One of the latest bureaucratic hurdles erected by the Interior Ministry, under the guidance of Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the ultra-Orthodox, Sephardi Shas party, targets couples living in Israel in which a Jew married a non-Jew in a civil ceremony. According to a new policy adopted by the ministry, this non-Jewish spouse who shows an interest in converting to Judaism is ineligible to apply to do so for a year-and-a-half after coming to Israel.

In another measure recently adopted by the Interior Ministry, children of converts who wish to immigrate to Israel must allow their parent to be submitted to an extensive interrogation – including a detailed letter explaining the motivation for conversion, the amount of time spent preparing for conversion and proof that both before and after the conversion the parent lived within a Jewish community.

But perhaps the most aggravating measure adopted by the Interior Minister requires that converts undergo an interrogation like the one described above not just to immigrate to Israel but even to receive a student visa to study at a yeshiva or some other institute of Jewish studies. Inexplicably, converts who come to Israel on a student visa to study at a secular institution – a university or a college for instance – do not need to undergo such an interrogation.

In this sort of atmosphere of suspicion it should come as no surprise that the number of conversions performed in Israel by the state-funded conversion authority and the IDF’s NATIV project have been on the decline since 2008, as documented in ITIM’s report.

Instead of adopting arbitrary decrees that cause incalculable anguish to individuals whose only crime is a love of the people of Israel, the Interior Ministry and other government bodies should pay attention to the public reading this Shavuot. They have a lot to learn from the Book of Ruth’s message of loving kindness.

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