Monday, December 29, 2008

What is Victory?

Shalom All,

What is victory? I keep hearing that victory is "stopping the rocket fire." Well...if that is victory then victory is unattainable. It takes a handful of people to smuggle in a rocket and launch it. No, that cannot be victory.

In my mind victory is the point at which Palestinians themselves go after the people launching the rockets and use deadly force if necessary to stop their own from violating the peace. Nothing short of that is victory.

What it is going to take to get there is both extreme suffering to the point that not only do Gazans believe that it CAN get worse than it is, but that it DEFINITELY WILL get worse, if they do not stop rockets from leaving their territory. On top of that must be a reasonable belief that when those rockets do stop, things will get a whole lot better than they are now.

One cannot win a battle against another's honor and pride. One can win a battle if one uses reason against reason. It needs to be made abundantly clear that victory for the Palestinian people lies in stopping the rocket fire, making peace with Israel, and establishing prosperity and freedom for themselves at peace alongside it. I do not believe that Hamas is capable of accomplishing that vision, but I do believe that to be the vision that must be shared, the vision that must be created.

Those who call for an immediate cessation of violence do not understand that they are at the same time calling for the surrender of the Palestinian people to a future of hatred and suffering, a future devoid of the hope of freedom and prosperity, a future that can only be accomplished for them with the removal of Hamas and the implementation of peace. They call for the cessation of the process to overthrow tyranny and hatred and the process of instilling real hope in the hearts and minds of the people. In their zeal to avoid bloodshed, they avoid any hope of bringing Shalom and Salaam to the peoples at war.

The words said by Patrick Henry on March 23, 1775 ring eerily true:

"There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come."

"It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"


Saturday, December 27, 2008

On the Events in Gaza

Shalom All,

Shalom means an absence of the threat of violence. It is not simply an absence of violence. Shalom is a sense of well-being. Constant barrages of rocket and mortar fire eliminate a sense of shalom.

There are numerous ways to analyze the ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. Certainly, it is not a conflict of military equals. It is not a conflict among ethical equals either. One side tries, not always succeeding, to target only military, militant, and governmental targets. The other side deliberately tries to target civilians, women and children all the better. It is not a conflict in which both sides wish to live peaceably with one another. One side wishes peace and receives ongoing attacks. The other side wishes the destruction and removal of the other, calling for an ongoing struggle to eliminate their enemy rather than attempt to make a lasting peace.

Governments will condemn Israel's strikes on Gaza and on Hamas installations. The international community will say, "There are civilian deaths!" The response to that contention is very simple, "There will be civilian deaths." Hamas and Islamic Jihad attack Israel from within densely populated areas and therefore Israel must attack them within densely populated areas. When militants routinely launch attacks while accompanied by children both to teach them how to conduct attacks and to present Israel with an ethical dilemma, what choice does Israel have? What is the dilemma? Militants give Israel the choice of allowing its civilians be attacked indiscriminately or to retaliate against the militants using civilians, including children, as shields.

The very concept that wars may be fought without civilian casualties is illogical. The only way that peace will come to Israel or the Palestinians is for one side to inflict so much harm on the other that one side will surrender. That level of harm cannot possibly solely consist of attacks on soldiers. Soldiers expect to be attacked and to die in wars. Wars come to an end when civilians realize that ongoing conflict will result in their being harmed more and that hope for them lies in stopping the conflict. Only then will peace come. Hence, to an extent, avoiding involving civilians in a conflict can and usually will prolong the conflict indefinitely.

The concept of proportionality in war is likewise illogical. A man holding a gun, who is being attacked by someone wielding a knife, should not drop the gun and grab a knife. He should shoot his attacker. Eventually a man holding a gun who is being attacked by people throwing rocks will either need to withdraw and let the rock throwers win or he will need to shoot the rock throwers until they withdraw. Israel has developed technologies to handle rock throwers and Molotov cocktail throwers without killing them, it has no such technologies to handle rocket and mortar fire that target its civilians. Its only response to such attacks is to use deadly force and to use deadly force that could potentially affect people who are nearby. Civilians who aid and abet as well as civilians who simply happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time become part and parcel of legitimate military targets. Using human shields, attacking from within civilian populations, is a war crime, NOT attacking those who are attacking from among human shields.

The deaths of the civilians are the responsibility of those originating attacks from or hiding within their midst. Those who defend Hamas' ability to attack from among civilians and who condemn Israel's attempts to attack them are in fact aiding Hamas in its commission of war crimes and encouraging others to commit the same war crimes in the future, knowing them to be effective against moral and ethical opponents.

The only reason that Israel is blamed repeatedly for civilian deaths is because blaming those who purposefully use human shields in the hope of creating civilian casualties is not politically correct. This is especially true when those very same people are accused of using terrorism against the West in which they deliberately target our civilians. We might be accused of piling on were we to insinuate, much less point out, that neither do they care about their own civilians and simply use their deaths as propaganda tools, posting the pictures of bloodied children whose families and whose government deliberately put them into harm's way, or at least allowed them to enter it, as a way to garner sympathy for their cause and to evoke hatred of Israel. The dead, after all, become shahids, holy martyrs. One can find no few television shows, sermons by pro-Hamas imams, and speeches by Hamas leaders advocating for Shehada, martyrdom, even of children, as the pinnacle of demonstrating faith. Children's shows are Hamas television have repeatedly proclaimed this theme.

It is a sick and twisted philosophy that is in gross violation of what I understand Islam to teach and certainly of the Islam practiced by the vast majority of Muslims in the world. Yet, the only condemnation heard from the Muslim community is directed at Israel. Where are the condemnations of Hamas as anti-Muslim? Where are the condemnations of Hamas as being in direct violation of the Qura'an? Is the hatred of Israel and the Jews so strong as to compel well meaning people to ignore the truth? Can Jews and Muslims get along? Absolutely! Can true Muslims and those who would encourage children to seek martyrdom rather than a peaceful life coexist? I do not believe so.

Israel seeks peace and has offered peace. Hamas seeks war and has offered war. Yes, it has thrown in an occasional cease-fire, but only to make it easier to rearm and wage war later.
Hamas' hope is the destruction of peace and the destruction of the Jewish state with the ultimate aim of creating a Palestinian state upon all of Gaza, the West Bank, and the land that is now Israel. Hamas has stated this goal over and over again. It is written in the Hamas charter and is uttered whenever its leadership speaks about the possibility of long term peace and the recognition of Israel. There will be no peace, there will be no recognition. Yet, these sick and twisted individuals will be defended in the press by people who mean well, people who believe that no father or mother could possibly wish to endanger their children, much less to encourage them to seek danger, despite the articles and television programs proclaiming exactly that philosophy, and therefore such civilian casualties as undoubtedly will occur must be caused by irresponsibility or even ill intent on Israel's part.

This, known to be false by Hamas' leaders, becomes the rallying cry to the Western world. "They are killing us," they yell, neglecting to point out that it is exactly that which was their hope in promoting violence against Israel, creating a culture of violence against Israel, Jews, and the West, and through continually provoking Israel through rockets, mortars, and cross border attacks. Their goal in all of this, as it has been for many years now, was to create the very level of conflict that faces Israel and the Palestinians today.

Israel warned Hamas. America warned Hamas. Even Egypt warned Hamas to stop firing rockets and mortars into Israel. Hamas turned up its nose and threw shoes in the face of its friends.
During a massive Hamas rally in Gaza City to mark twenty-one years since its founding a little more than a week ago, a Hamas member dressed as kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit was led to the stage by Hamas militants. The activist, who was dressed in an IDF uniform, pleaded for his life in Hebrew and begged the Israeli government to do its utmost to return him home. "Shalom to my father and mother, I miss my father, I miss my mother," the "soldier" declared as hundreds of thousands of Hamas supporters shouted, "We will never recognize Israel."

Translated into plain English my friends, that means "We will never desire peace with Israel."


Friday, December 26, 2008

Madoff and Antiochus IV

Sermon and Comprehensive Report on the Madoff Scandal
December 26, 2008
Rabbi David Jay Kaufman

Who is he anyhow, an actor?" "No." "A dentist?"
"...No, he's a gambler."
Gatsby hesitated, then added cooly:
"He's the man who fixed the World Series back in 1919."
"Fixed the World Series?" I repeated. The idea staggered me.
I remembered, of course, that the World Series had been fixed in 1919, but if I had thought of it at all I would have thought of it as something that merely happened, the end of an inevitable chain. It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people--with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe.
"How did he happen to do that?" I asked after a minute.
"He just saw the opportunity."
[F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby]

The man in question in the Great Gatsby was Arnold Rothstein, the reputed funder of the Black-Sox Scandal. The words used by Fitzgerald could hardly be more apt in reference to Bernard Madoff.

In the wake of the $50 billion Madoff scandal charitable foundations are bankrupt, many others struggling to survive, and a multitude facing significant losses either to their assets through losses involving investments with Bernard Madoff or to their income because their benefactors suffered losses. This all comes at horrible time for the economy, when both assets and income were already depressed.

The scheme itself was simple, pay off older investors with deposits made by newer investors. I was recently sent a cartoon in which a policeman asks Madoff where he got this idea. His answer? "Social Security."

To an extent, investing in Madoff's fund was like buying an annuity. He paid 8-12% on your money every year. Those individuals and organizations who had been long invested with Madoff made off, I just couldn't resist, with more money than they otherwise would have gotten. Had they known that they were receiving money that they should keep to rebuild their corpus, some would have easily done so. Many reinvested the dividend which meant that not only did Madoff take their principal and hand it over to others, but their reinvestments were treated the same way. Some investors were worried about Madoff and took their money out over the past few years. Of these, a few saw their investments increase substantially, now known to have come largely, if not solely, through robbing one investor to pay another. Of these, several have said that they were worried that they had made the wrong decision as Madoff’s returns just kept coming.

It seems that of the investors who did flock to Madoff, virtually all of them saw Bernie Madoff's fund as a way to receive a steady income and maintain wealth. They saw it as a hedge fund, a safe investment.

Philanthropies and philanthropists entrusted their money with Madoff and spread their 10% dividends around the world. A grossly disproportional amount of those funds went to Jewish institutions and causes. Of those, a high percentage involved Orthodox institutions and Zionist causes.

But Madoff also wiped out pension funds for firefighters and teachers. He eliminated or dramatically reduced foundations that helped to fund bone marrow research, constructed hospitals, funded educational institutions, created libraries in poor communities, fought domestic violence, fed the hungry, clothed the naked and lifted the fallen. To put it bluntly, he grasped the hands that were doing God's work in making our world a better place, took the money that they gave him, and then chopped those hands off.

What are the implications for Jews? It is almost laughable to ask.

I delivered sermons and wrote articles about Shalom Rubashkin and the concept of Shandeh fur de Goyim, an embarrassment for the Jews. How can I even begin to address Madoff? Rubashkin was like leaving the bathroom with toilet paper stuck to your shoe whereas Madoff was like leaving home forgetting to put on clothes.

That story by Hans Christian Andersen may be perfectly apt here. Madoff sold investors on a vision that was entirely fictitious. He left the Jewish philanthropic world parading proudly without any clothes.

The damage to Jewish philanthropies has been catastrophic. The damage to Jewish philanthropists equally as bad at a minimum. We may never know the true extent of the personal wealth lost. The damage done to the concept of the philanthropic Jew and to Jewish communal trust is tremendous, after all he was a Member of the Tribe who moved through elite Tribal circles like a financial messiah. The damage done to the concept of Or L'goyim, being a light unto the nations, is yet to be determined. In Rubashkin and Madoff, the Jewish world has two prominent Jews whose Jewishness is worn on their sleeves, who publicly served the Jewish community and the Orthodox Jewish community in particular and who have done such egregious wrongs that they tarnished everyone connected to the Jewish community.

Bradley Burston may have said it best in his Haaretz Article published less than a week after the scandal broke:

For the true anti-Semite, Christmas came early this year. The anti-Semite's new Santa is Bernard Madoff. The answer to every Jew-hater's wish list.

The Aryan Nation at its most delusional couldn't have come up with anything to rival this: The former chairman of Nasdaq turns out, also, to be treasurer of the board of trustees at Yeshiva University and chairman of the university's business school. Rich beyond human comprehension, he handles fortunes for others, buying and selling in a trading empire that skirts investment banks and other possible sources of regulation. He redefines avarice, knowingly and personally bilking charities and retirees in the most classic of con games.

Even better, for those obsessed with the idea that Jews control finance, entertainment and the media, is the idea that Madoff's greed was uncontrollable enough that he targeted fellow Jews, even Holocaust survivors, some of them his own friends, as well as Israeli companies who insured Jews, including Holocaust survivors.

The beauty part, for the anti-Semite: Madoff's machinations, which could have been put to use for the sake of humanity, have directly harmed Jewish welfare and charity institutions. He has managed to harm contemporary Jewry in ways anti-Semites could only dream about...In the words of prominent educator Avraham Infeld, he "obliterated" long-standing charitable foundations for Jewish causes in Israel, Eastern Europe and North America.

The New York Post was more direct. "Working the so-called "Jewish circuit" of well-heeled Jews he met at country clubs on Long Island and in Palm Beach, and through his position on the boards of directors of several prominent Jewish institutions, he was entrusted with entire family fortunes. "The guy was totally respected. He was a heymishe Jewish guy. He had sweet old ladies and he let their children in," said a Manhattan lawyer who invested with Madoff.

Rabbi David Wolpe, commenting on the scandal, noted that Madoff violated the Ten Commandments, thou shall not steal.

In my mind, he made a mockery of the Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not steal--$50 billion. But not only that. Thou shalt not murder—it might be stretching it slightly, but there already was a suicide directly connected to the Madoff scandal and the loss of charitable contributions and programs for hospitals and other human services will certainly cost lives. Honor thy mother and father—Madoff destroyed family foundations, programs caring for the elderly, foundations giving to museums, religious institutions, schools, etc... Thou shalt not covet—country clubs, mansions, parties, social status. He made himself an idol, bowed down to wealth, and forgot all about God, truth, righteousness and kindness. He bore false witness with almost every utterance, swindling the haughty and the humble alike.

I have complied numerous articles on the Madoff scandal and as comprehensive an accounting of the damages as I could. I cannot share it all with you tonight, because I cannot ask you to stay here that long.

Schools, universities, hospitals, museums, synagogues, social services and other institutions in the Jewish world and beyond will pay an enormous price for this scandal. Gabrielle Berkner wrote on last week in the Forward that:

The president of the Jewish Funders Network, Mark Charendoff, has called Madoff’s collapse “the atomic bomb in the world of Jewish philanthropy.” The president of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research, Gary Tobin, spoke in equally dire terms: “For the philanthropic elite who invested with him, the means they would be giving away for many more years is gone. The long-term effects of dollars that would have been contributed is severe.”

I will speak about several organizations and if you would like a copy of the entire compilation taken from various articles, I would be happy to share it with you.


In The Jewish Daily Foward, Anthony Weiss quoted a victim of the scandal as saying, "It's like finding out that your father is a felon."

Madoff’s collapse has gone off like an atomic blast in the midst of that world, leaving behind the wreckage of shattered lives and fortunes, and creating a gaping hole where there were once billions of dollars — and, more importantly, implicit trust.

It is this trust that makes possible the very existence of the relatively intimate world of Jewish philanthropy, where charity and business often mix. The loss of money and trust together has dealt Jewish philanthropy — a pillar of American philanthropy — a blow from which it will not recover anytime soon.

“He has savaged Jewish civil society for a decade,” said one philanthropic recipient, who spoke of receiving “30, 40 calls from longtime donor friends who told me about the money they lost.” The recipient spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his donors and his institution.
The fraud has also wiped out or severely damaged the finances of wealthy Jews who, though less famous, are among the most reliable donors to Jewish causes. At the exclusive Palm Beach Country Club, where Madoff recruited many of his clients, philanthropic giving was a requirement for membership.

“This scandal has wiped out a generation of Jewish wealth,” said Brad Friedman, a lawyer representing a number of the victims of the alleged Madoff scam. “Let’s not kid ourselves, this is the most philanthropic community in America.”

Jewish philanthropic experts estimate that the total losses in Jewish giving — to both Jewish and non-Jewish causes — could run into billions of dollars.

“You’ll see organizations going out of business,” said Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network, which advises wealthy Jewish donors. “Staff will get fired, programs will get slashed. In some cases, you could see organizations merge. We just don’t know yet.”

The idea still staggers me. "It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of the Jewish people—with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe." Then again this week we mark the holiday celebrating the defeat of such a man, Antiochus IV, who looted the Temple in Jerusalem. Now, like then, we have to band together, rebuild, and dedicate ourselves anew. That is the very meaning of Chanukah.

"Who can retell the things that befell us, who can count them?"

Happy Chanukah and Shabbat Shalom,-David

A compilation of articles and resources on the Madoff scandal follows

Initially this was a word document and there were indented paragraphs and regular ones. One cannot tell the difference in this format. Articles are taken from the NYTimes, Jewish Week, Haaretz Daily, NYPost, Forward, Wall Street Journal, Jerusalem Post, Telegraph and many other newspapers and sites. Very little below is original to me.

As I have worked to compile information on the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, estimated by Madoff himself to involve approximately $50 billion in wealth lost, it has been difficult to find a comprehensive article. The scope of the scandal reaches into so many different corners and goes so deeply in the exclusive worlds of high society and private banking that it is only the public face of the scandal that seems accessible, few beyond those who must be held accountable to reveal their losses seem to be doing so. Individual investors have lost hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars and very little of those losses have been reported publically.

Initially, he tapped local money pulled in from country clubs and charity dinners, where investors sought him out to casually plead with him to manage their savings so they could start reaping the steady, solid returns their envied friends were getting.

Whatever else Mr. Madoff’s game was, it was certainly this: The first worldwide Ponzi scheme — a fraud that lasted longer, reached wider and cut deeper than any similar scheme in history, entirely eclipsing the puny regional ambitions of Charles Ponzi, the Boston swindler who gave his name to the scheme nearly a century ago.
“Absolutely — there has been nothing like this, nothing that we could call truly global,” said Mitchell Zuckoff, the author of “Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend” and a professor at Boston University. These classic schemes typically prey on local trust, he added. “So this says what we increasingly know to be true about the world: The barriers have come down; money knows no borders, no limits.”
While many of the known victims of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities are prominent Jewish executives and organizations — Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Spitzers, Yeshiva University, the Elie Wiesel Foundation and charities set up by the publisher Mortimer B. Zuckerman and the Hollywood director Steven Spielberg — it now appears that anyone with money was a potential target. Indeed, at one point, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, a large sovereign wealth fund in the Middle East, had entrusted some $400 million to Mr. Madoff’s firm.
Regulators say Mr. Madoff himself estimated that $50 billion in personal and institutional wealth from around the world was gone. It vanished from the estates of the North Shore of Long Island, from the beachfront suites of Palm Beach, from the exclusive enclaves of Europe. Before it evaporated, it helped finance Mr. Madoff’s coddled lifestyle, with a Manhattan apartment, a beachfront mansion in the Hamptons, a small villa overlooking Cap d’Antibes on the French Riviera, a Mayfair office in London and yachts in New York, Florida and the Mediterranean.
At Oak Ridge Country Club, in suburban Hopkins, Minn., known for a prosperous Jewish membership, many who belonged were introduced to the Madoff firm by one of his friends, Mike Engler.
The quiet message became familiar in similar pockets of Jewish wealth and trust: “I know Bernie. I can get you in.” Mr. Engler died in 1994, but many Oak Ridge members remained clients of Mr. Madoff. One elderly member, who said he was too embarrassed to be named, said he had lost tens of millions of dollars, and had friends who had been “completely wiped out.”
"It's easy to remember how to pronounce his name now, he made off with our money." That was a statement that I heard in the days shortly after the scandal broke.

"There is no innocent explanation." That was Bernard Madoff's response when asked about the money missing from his investment accounts. "One big lie" was another.

"One big lie" led to an estimated $50 billion lost by banks, hedge funds, insurance companies, schools, pension funds, universities, hospitals, charitable organizations, philanthropists and more than a few individuals who had felt blessed to have their money handled by Bernard Madoff and to have those assets make relatively high 10% returns year after year whether the economy was good or bad. A grossly disproportionate percentage of the investors with Madoff were Jews and of them a large percentage were Orthodox Jews. Of the institutions and organizations affected, Jewish organizations were in the overwhelming majority.

Schools, universities, hospitals, museums, synagogues, social services and other institutions in the Jewish world and beyond will pay an enormous price for this scandal. Gabrielle Berkner wrote on last week in the Forward that:
The president of the Jewish Funders Network, Mark Charendoff, has called Madoff’s collapse “the atomic bomb in the world of Jewish philanthropy.” The president of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research, Gary Tobin, spoke in equally dire terms: “For the philanthropic elite who invested with him, the means they would be giving away for many more years is gone. The long-term effects of dollars that would have been contributed is severe.”

The Information in Italics concerning organizations affected by the Madoff scandal primarily comes from the Forward:

The Chais Family Foundation which supported numerous educational programs to the tune of $12.5 million per year was "completely obliterated," losing approximately $178 million, and has now closed its doors. Haaretz Daily, one of the major Israeli newspapers, showed a picture of the Chais Family Foundation library in Mevasseret, Israel as it detailed the mounting philanthropic losses caused by the scandal.
The Yeshaya Horowitz Foundation disbursed about $140 million over the past 15 years in Israel. Started by an anonymous donor, it funded basic medical research - advancing theoretical knowledge in science and medicine with no immediate commercial value. Such work, however, often sets the stage for private industry to take over. Horowitz money paid for doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships, and was just now covering the completion of a lab to be jointly operated by Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University. Now it appears that the Yeshaya Horowitz Foundation has been wiped out.
Yeshiva University, upon whose board Bernard Madoff served for years as treasurer, lost at least $110 million. Madoff also chaired the school's business school.
Technion, Israel's Institute of Technology, approximately $7 million, but its American fundraising arm, American Technion Society lost an additional $72 million.

Members of "Fifth Avenue Synagogue" in New York City, with 300 members, estimate combined personal and foundational losses approaching $2 billion. Ira Rennert, chairman of the synagogue's board estimates losses of $200 million personally.

Elie Wiesel's Foundation for Humanity which ran enrichment centers for Ethiopian-Jewish youth in Israel, funded programs that promote cross-cultural dialogue and awarded an annual ethics prize lost “Substantially all” of the foundation’s assets according to its Web site, an estimated $37 million.
Hadassah, the Women's organization, estimates losses of $90 million dollars or one-third of the organization's endowment. Hadassah funds the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem and numerous health care initiatives, education, and at risk youth enrichment programs in Israel and the United States.

The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation of Boston lost some $145 million. In 2006, this $324 million foundation gave away $12.9 million; of that much went to Jewish causes— including Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Home for the Aged in Palm Beach. Brandeis University received some $3 million in support.
Bloomberg News reports that all but $1 million of the funds in New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg’s charitable foundation were invested with Madoff. In 2006, Lautenberg gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Jewish causes — including a total of $357,000 to United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ, tax returns show. The foundation is estimated to have lost approximately $13 million.
Robert I. Lappin says that both his foundation's $8 million in assets and no small amount of his own wealth were invested with Madoff and are now gone. The 16-year-old charity funded teen trips to Israel, enrichment programs for Jewish educators, and interfaith outreach initiatives. The foundation closed on December 12.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Steven Spielberg's Charity, "the Wunderkinder Foundation, in the past appears to have invested a significant portion of its assets with Mr. Madoff, based on regulatory filings." It said that in 2006, profits from Madoff's firm accounted for some 70 percent of the interest and dividend income of the foundation. Wunderkinder Foundation is estimated to have lost tens of millions of dollars. Tax returns from 2007 show that director Steven Spielberg’s charitable organization gave a total of $8.6 million to hospitals, universities, synagogues, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and other institutions and organizations.

Mortimer Zuckerman, a real estate mogul in New York, and past Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, says that his charitable foundation lost an estimated $30 million of its $300 million endowment with Madoff.

Charles I. and Mary Kaplan Foundation of Rockville, Maryland lost $29 million. It was a major donor to the JCC of Greater Washington and to the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

United Jewish Endowment Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is said to have lost $10 million. The fund supports Jewish institutions and services, and general social services, in and around the nation’s capital. The losses represent less than 10% of the fund’s investment portfolio, according to a press release from the organization.
The Madoff Family Foundation of New York set up by Bernard for his family had $19 million in theoretical assets evaporate, but in the real world, Jewish charities as the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation and the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan were counting on receiving donations from it.
The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles lost $18 million. The foundation manages the endowments of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, among other local Jewish social services providers. Madoff-related losses represent about 5% of the foundation’s assets; the federation is said to have lost $6.4 million, or 11% of its endowment funds.
Jerome Fisher, founder of Nine West fashion house and a major donor to Jewish and Israeli causes estimates at least a $150 million loss.
J. Ezra Merkin personally and Ascot Partners, a hedge fund, lost an estimated $1.8 billion. Merkin, the scion of a philanthropic family known for its support of Modern Orthodox causes, resigned as a YU trustee and as chairman of its investment committee on Friday following Madoff's arrest a day earlier.
The Ramaz School in New York is said to have lost $6 million. At the Modern Orthodox day school affiliated with Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, Madoff-related losses have impacted the endowment, but they will not affect its faculty and staff pension program, school officials said.
North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System says that it lost $5.7 million in assets.
Mitzi & Warren Eisenberg Family Foundation of Union, N.J. lost $5.1 million of a $100 million-plus endowment. The foundation gives to educational and health care institutions, and to scores of Jewish and Israel charities. In 2006, it donated $950,000 to the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey.
L Bravmann Foundation of Riverdale, N.Y. lost $5 million with Madoff. In 2006, the $20 million charitable foundation gave more than $1 million to the donor-advised Jewish Communal Fund, and smaller sums to other Jewish organizations.
Jewish Funds for Justice of New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore lost $3.9 million. The social justice organization funds congregation-based community organizing initiatives and other programs.
Maimonides School of Boston estimates its loss to be $3–5 million. The Modern Orthodox day school, founded in 1937 by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, lost an estimated 60% of a bequest that helps pay for operating costs.
Arthur and Sydelle F. Meyer Charitable Foundation of West Palm Beach,Florida lost $3.7 million. The charity gives to a wide range of cultural and educational causes and Jewish and Israeli institutions. The Meyer family reportedly lost additional funds that were in a charitable trust. The foundation will close, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun an Upper East Side Modern Orthodox synagogue affiliated with the Ramaz School lost $3.5 of its endowment.
Yad Sarah in Jerusalem lost $1.5 million. The organization provides health care and welfare services for disabled and elderly individuals.
SAR a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school Riverdale, N.Y. had $1.3 million invested or about one-third of its $3.7 million endowment.
American Jewish Congress which supports upgrading Israel’s role in NATO and advocates on behalf of religious freedom stateside sustained significant but unspecified losses. A trust fund left to the organization by Lillian and Martin Steinberg was managed by Madoff, as was a second part of the American Jewish Congress’s endowment fund.
Philip and Murial Berman Foundation of Allentown, Pa. lost a substantial amount of its estimated $42 million in assets. Last year, the foundation gave a total of $318,000 to a wide range of Jewish and arts organizations; donations included $50,000 to Hadassah, and smaller five-figure gifts to American Friends of Hebrew University, United Jewish Communities and the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
The Betty and Norman F. Levy Foundation of New York also lost substantially. A portion of its $244 million in assets was invested with Madoff. Among the Foundation’s contributions last year were a $100,00 to the vehicle Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, $100,000 to the UJA-Federation New York, and nearly $30 million to the JEHT Foundation — a criminal justice reform organization that is expected to close in the wake of Madoff’s collapse.
The Picower Foundation of Palm Beach, Florida which had nearly $1 billion in assets, will shutter amid Madoff woes. According to its 2007 tax return, the Foundation last year gave away $23 million — including $225,000 to the Limmud NY conference of Jewish learning; $185,000 to the Jewish Outreach Institute; $109,278 to the Foundation for Jewish Camping, and $100,000 to a program that aids children and families living in Sderot, Israel. Medical research centers, after-school programs, and human rights organizations were also beneficiaries. The foundation has given $268 million to groups like the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Human Rights First, the New York Public Library and the Children’s Health Fund since it was established in 1989 by Barbara Picower and her husband, the investor Jeffry M. Picower, in Palm Beach, Fla.
Listed previously at $1 billion, the foundation’s assets were managed by Bernard L. Madoff, Mrs. Picower said in a statement, and his “act of fraud has had a devastating impact on tens of thousands of lives as well as numerous philanthropic foundations and nonprofit organizations.”
Jeff Wilpon, owner of the New York Mets, lost in the tens of millions of dollars invested with Madoff.
This list of woes does not even include pension funds. Pensions and Investments Online stated that:
The $6.5 billion New Mexico Educational Retirement Board, Santa Fe, stands to lose $8 million to $10 million through its $170 million investment in Austin Capital Partners’ Safe Harbor Fund. CIO Bob Jacksha said fund officials and trustees still are evaluating the impact.
The $270 million New Orleans City Employees’ Retirement System could lose about $350,000 from Madoff investments made in its combined $5 million allocation to hedge funds of funds managed by Meridian Capital Partners and UBP Asset Management, said Jerry Davis, chairman of the board of trustees.
The biggest institutional investor loss uncovered so far is $41 million by the Fairfield (Conn.) Town Retirement Fund. The $233 million plan had 17.6%, or $41 million, invested as of Nov. 30 in the MAXAM Absolute Return Fund, managed by Madoff Investment Securities.
Shell company's pension fund lost $45 million. Dr. Robert Dawe of Fairfield-based Orthopaedic Specialty Group said Tuesday the doctors have been in contact with lawyers trying to sort out this mess that blindsided them. The group's entire retirement fund, which covers more than 130 people, was invested with Bernard Madoff Investment Securities LLC.
Geneva-based Union Bancaire Privée is the best-known private bank to get hit, with $700 million of its clients’ money invested with Mr. Madoff. Large banks like HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland lent more than $1.5 billion to money management firms, which leveraged larger returns on their investments with Madoff. In return, these big banks received collateral in the form of assets in Madoff's firm, which are most likely worthless now.
The latest European victim to reveal losses is Bank Medici of Austria. Two funds at the bank, based in Vienna and 75 percent owned by its chairwoman, Sonja Kohn, invested $2.1 billion entirely in Madoff's firm, the bank said on Tuesday. So far, financial institutions on the Continent and in the United Kingdom have announced $10 billion worth of exposure.
BNP Paribas has nearly $500 million in exposure to Madoff, a major contributor to the $1.4 billion loss the Paris giant's corporate and investment banking unit announced on Tuesday for the first 11 months of 2008.
One of the hardest-hit European victims, Optimal Investment Services of Geneva, was unusually concentrated in Madoff's firm. A unit of Santander of Spain, Optimal had $3.1 billion invested with Madoff through its Optimal Strategic U.S. Equity Fund, out of a total of $10.5 billion under management.
Harel, Clal, and Phoenix, Israeli Insurance firms, lost millions of dollars with Madoff.
Investment firms handling retirement funds for hundreds of clients invested heavily and lost heavily. Brighton Co. of Beverly Hills, was sued this week in federal court in Los Angeles. In the suit, Michael Chaleff of Arlington, Va., said he and other investors had lost about $250 million on investment partnerships that Brighton placed with Madoff. The head of Brighton, according to the suit, is Stanley Chais of Beverly Hills, which bring us back to the Chais Family Foundation.
In The Jewish Daily Foward, Anthony Weiss quoted a victim of the scandal as saying, "It's like finding out that your father is a felon."
Madoff’s collapse has gone off like an atomic blast in the midst of that world, leaving behind the wreckage of shattered lives and fortunes, and creating a gaping hole where there were once billions of dollars — and, more importantly, implicit trust.
It is this trust that makes possible the very existence of the relatively intimate world of Jewish philanthropy, where charity and business often mix. The loss of money and trust together has dealt Jewish philanthropy — a pillar of American philanthropy — a blow from which it will not recover anytime soon.
“He has savaged Jewish civil society for a decade,” said one philanthropic recipient, who spoke of receiving “30, 40 calls from longtime donor friends who told me about the money they lost.” The recipient spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his donors and his institution.
The fraud has also wiped out or severely damaged the finances of wealthy Jews who, though less famous, are among the most reliable donors to Jewish causes. At the exclusive Palm Beach Country Club, where Madoff recruited many of his clients, philanthropic giving was a requirement for membership.
“This scandal has wiped out a generation of Jewish wealth,” said Brad Friedman, a lawyer representing a number of the victims of the alleged Madoff scam. “Let’s not kid ourselves, this is the most philanthropic community in America.”
Jewish philanthropic experts estimate that the total losses in Jewish giving — to both Jewish and non-Jewish causes — could run into billions of dollars.
“You’ll see organizations going out of business,” said Mark Charendoff, president of the Jewish Funders Network, which advises wealthy Jewish donors. “Staff will get fired, programs will get slashed. In some cases, you could see organizations merge. We just don’t know yet.”
Remember that many organizations were invested in organizations that invested their money with Madoff. For example, Tufts University which invested $20 million with Ascot Partners which was then invested with Madoff.
How did this all happen?
Mark Seal, a longtime veteran of Jewish organizations, in an interview by the Forward, recalls watching Madoff make his pitch twice to Jewish organizations — once in the early 1990s, and once 10 years later. Each time, Seal said, he was struck by Madoff’s combination of confidence and low-key charm, and by the sense of familiarity he conveyed.
“His pitch was one part technology and one part record and one part that he was a lovely guy and you felt that — it’s funny, in retrospect — you felt a certain amount of integrity,” Seal told the Forward. “That was his presentation, in essence — his reputation and his personality.”
Unlike some prominent Wall Street figures who built their fortunes during the heady 1980s and ’90s, Mr. Madoff never became a household name among American investors. But in the clubby world of Jewish philanthropy in the New York area, his increasing wealth and growing reputation among market insiders added polish to his personal prestige.
He became a generous donor, then a courted board member and, finally, the money manager of choice for many prominent regional charities.
Madoff’s sterling reputation, his affable personality and his apparent financial acumen allowed him to move easily through the clubby Jewish philanthropic circles of New York and Palm Beach, Fla. Madoff served on prominent boards, such as that of Yeshiva University; fellow board members, and even other money managers, sought after him to invest their money.
Dozens of now-outraged Madoff investors recall that special lure — the sense that they were being allowed into an inner circle, one that was not available to just anyone. A lawyer would call a client, saying: “I’m setting up a fund for Bernie Madoff. Do you want in?” Or an accountant at a golf club might tell his partner for the day: “I can make an introduction. Let me know.” Deals were struck in steakhouses and at charity events, sometimes by Mr. Madoff himself, but with increasing frequency by friends acting on his behalf.
He could not have had a more effective recruiter than Jacob Ezra Merkin, a lion of Wall Street who would be president of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue. Mr. Merkin’s father, Hermann, was the founding president of the synagogue and Herman Wouk, the author, wrote its constitution.
As a direct descendant of the founder of modern Orthodox Judaism and a graduate of Columbia’s English department and Harvard’s law school, Mr. Merkin easily held his own in a congregation that included such luminaries as the author Elie Wiesel, the deal maker Ronald O. Perelman and Ira Rennert, a wealthy financier perhaps best known for building one of the biggest houses and compounds in the Hamptons.
One source who sat on boards with Merkin told The New York Jewish Week, "You have to know Ezra to really understand how this could have happened. He is brilliant and incredibly well connected in the Jewish and financial community, with a long and incredible success rate in investments. Plus, he can be at times charming and considerate - as well as intimidating."
According to The Jewish Week, several people noted that when questioned or challenged about the wisdom of investing heavily in one fund rather than diversifying, "Ezra would ask, 'Why would you reduce your concentration in your best performing fund?'"
Philanthropies embraced him. He headed the investment committee for the UJA-Federation of New York for 10 years and was on the boards of Yeshiva University, Carnegie Hall and other nonprofit organizations. He became the chairman of GMAC.
Installed in these lofty positions of trust, Ezra Merkin seemed to be a Wall Street wise man who could be trusted completely to manage other people’s money. One vehicle through which he did that was a fund called Ascot Partners.
Ascot itself attracted $1.8 billion in investments, almost all of which was entrusted to Mr. Madoff. New York Law School put $3 million into Ascot two years ago, and has now initiated a lawsuit in federal court that accuses Mr. Merkin of abdicating his duties to the partnership.
If the wealthy Jewish world he occupied was his launch pad, the wealthy promoters he cultivated at Fairfield Greenwich were his booster rocket.
The Fairfield Sentry fund was one of several so-called feeder funds that became portals through which money from wealthy foreign investors would could capitalize on Mr. Madoff’s investment prowess — collecting those exclusive, steady returns that had made him the toast of Palm Beach and the North Shore so many years ago.
The Sentry fund quickly became Fairfield’s signature product, and it boasted of stellar returns. In marketing materials, Fairfield trumpeted Sentry’s 11 percent annual return over the last 15 years, with only 13 losing months. It was a track record that grew increasingly attractive as markets grew more volatile in recent years.
Though Fairfield Greenwich has its headquarters in New York City and its founder, Mr. Noel, operated from his hometown, Greenwich, Conn., a recent report showed that foreign investors provided 95 percent of its managed assets — with 68 percent in Europe, 6 percent in Asia, and 4 percent in the Middle East.
One of his most visible representatives was Andrés Piedrahita, a Colombian who had married Mr. Noel’s eldest daughter, Corina, and was eventually named a Fairfield founding partner. Based in Madrid and London, Mr. Piedrahita became one of the firm’s most visible representatives in the world of European banking and investment. But his brothers-in-law also had international roots. Yanko Della Schiava, who married Lisina Noel, was the son of the editor of Cosmopolitan in Italy and of the editor of Harper’s Bazaar in Italy and France. Philip J. Toub, who married Alix Noel, is the son of a director of the Saronic Shipping Company, in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Piedrahita, Mr. Della Schiava and others, Fairfield reaped many millions of dollars in investor capital from Europe. The firm set up feeder programs with institutions like Banco Santander, Swedish Bank Nordea and Banque Benedict Hentsch. All became conduits that carried fresh money to Mr. Madoff.
There was also the small Austrian merchant bank, Bank Medici, which had $2.1 billion invested in funds that ultimately wound up under Mr. Madoff’s control. It collected those investments through two main funds, the Herald USA Fund and the smaller Herald Luxemburg Fund, sold to banks, insurance companies and pension funds since 2004.
Bank Medici sold the funds to investors around the world from its offices in New York, Vienna, Gibraltar, Zurich and Milan. About 93 percent of the funds’ investors are outside Austria. Just last month, the Herald USA fund won Germany’s annual Hedge Fund Awards for “proving consistency in turbulent times.“
Indeed, often with the assistance of feeder funds, Mr. Madoff was now in a position to seek and procure money from Arab investors, too. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest of the world’s sovereign wealth funds, with assets estimated earlier this year to be approaching $700 billion, wound up in the same boat as Jewish charities in New York: caught in the collapse of Bernie Madoff.
In early 2005, the investment authority had invested approximately $400 million with Mr. Madoff, by way of the Fairfield Sentry Fund, according to a profile of the firm that it prepared for a prospective buyer in 2007. Fairfield Sentry had more than $7 billion invested with Mr. Madoff and was his largest investor; now, it says, it is his largest victim.
Early on Dec. 10, he shocked his sons by suggesting that the firm pay out several million dollars in bonuses two months ahead of schedule. When pressed by his sons for a reason, he grew agitated and insisted that they all leave the office and continue the conversation at his apartment on East 64th Street.
It was there, at midmorning, that he told his sons that his business was “a big lie” and, “basically, a giant Ponzi scheme.” There was nothing left, he told them — and he fully expected to go to jail.

Sources used:,7340,L-3641412,00.html

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Shandeh fur de Goyim

Shandeh fur de Goyim

It has been an embarrassing few months in Iowa. The ridiculously unethical and outrageously illegal behavior and practices of which Agriprocessors in Postville has been accused and now charged have frankly shamed the Jews. If we have to discuss whether or not meat is kosher which is slaughtered in a plant that knew its workers could not legally work, aided them in violating the law, and potentially also knew that some at the plant were abusive to them, what does kosher mean? For that matter, what does being Jewish mean? Tikkun Olam, the repair of the world, is not about reinforcing the lining of pockets at the expense of principles. We, Jews, feel guilty for the sins of the few among us. There is such a thing as a "Shandeh fur de Goyim," "Embarrassment for us in the eyes of the Gentiles." The actions of Shalom Rubashkin and others in Agriprocessors' employ are such a shandeh.

This led me to wonder, "Why is it that only Jews feel embarrassed when those who claim to be pious co-religionists astound in their hypocrisy? Why is there no such thing as an embarrassment for Christians or Muslims?" It seems to be understood by Christians and Muslims that their radical nut cases are NOT REPRESENTATIVE of them, why do we feel that ours are? Perhaps, it is an ingrained fear that we are held accountable collectively and have been historically, particularly by Christians and Muslims?

In my mind, the reality is that Christians and Muslims should be embarrassed by their brethren who sin while supposedly acting in a "religious" manner, just as we are embarrassed by those in Postville. That embarrassment, that guilt that we feel over actions of others in which we played no part, helps drive us to make the world better. That guilt makes us care about more than just ourselves. Perhaps, it is that which is the light we must shine unto the nations. It is the very concept of the shandeh. It drives us to do better.

Just a thought,


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ahmadinejad speech at the UN

Shalom All,

Just before Rosh Hashanah, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, came to the United States in order to address the United Nations. I am not going to address the issue of whether or not he should have been invited to do so. Instead, I would like to look at some of what he actually said in his address.

What Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at the UN on September 23:

"The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a miniscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner. It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premiere nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gatherings, swear their allegiance and commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support. This means that the great people of America and various nations of Europe need to obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people. These nations are spending their dignity and resources on the crimes and occupations and the threats of the Zionist network against their will."

Those who believe that Judenhass, the hatred of Jews, ended with the Holocaust, think again. I questioned myself as to whether or not I should include his words in this article or simply summarize them because they are so offensive. I decided that bringing them to light in our community was the best way to make clear the threat that Iran poses to Israel, to the United States, and to its allies. I could have simply said that Ahmadinejad had blamed the evils of the world on the Jews and you might have been upset, but it would have made little of an impact upon you. You might have said, "No, he really is anti-Israel, not anti-Jewish."

Ahmadinejad rejected accusations he was anti-Semitic, saying his criticism was aimed at the "Zionist regime" for its oppression of the Palestinians rather than at Jews. You might have seen or heard his denial, "As soon as anyone objects to the behavior of the Zionist regime, they're accused of being anti-Semitic, whereas the Jewish people are not Zionists," Ahmadinejad said. "Zionism is a political party that has nothing to do with Jewish people."

By actually looking at what he said, there is no doubt that it is classic anti-Judaism that is at work. By "Zionists," the President of Iran clearly meant "most Jews."

He meant that Jewish causes, Zionist causes, clearly violate the "dignity, integrity, and rights of the American and European people." In his mind, Jews manipulate the politicians of the world through deceit and stealth. Further, Jews control the world's finances, politics, and media. Ahmadinejad argues that world leaders need to obey these Jews, "obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people."

This is NOT criticism of Israel. This is not even criticism of America and Europe's support for Israel. This is blatant Jew-hatred, full of conspiracies straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. That such words were uttered in the United Nations is a disgrace to the institution, an institution whose mission to bring peace to the nations of the world is jeopardized by its inability to take the side of righteousness and justice as well as by the ease in which a tyranny of the majority is allowed to corrupt its ideals and persecute minorities.

Ahmadinejad did not end his despicable address with the above. He continued with words eerily similar to another Jew-hating dictator who attempted to confuse the opinions of world leaders and mask his intentions by calling for peace. Ahmadinejad stated:

"Friends and Colleagues, all these are due to the manner in which the immoral and the powerful view the world, humankind, freedom, obeisance to God, and justice. The thoughts and deeds of those who think they are superior to others and consider others as second-class and inferior, who intend to remain out of the divine circle, to be the absolute slaves of their materialistic and selfish desires, who intend to expand their aggressive and domineering natures, constitute the roots of today's problems in human societies. They are the great hindrances to the actualization of material and spiritual prosperity and to security, peace and brotherhood among nations."

Simply put, it is the fault of the Jews called "Zionists" that there is no "actualization of material and spiritual prosperity" or "security, peace and brotherhood among nations." It is amazing to realize how powerful Jew-haters believe Jews to be. It is shocking to us to see those words in print, to hear them said.

We can act as if we understand Jew-hatred. We can rationalize the use of the verb "To Jew Down," perhaps as some in the Asian world do, as a compliment to Jewish business savvy, rather than as an insulting statement about Jewish concern for money. They don't mean any insult by it. Neither do those who accuse Israel of oppression of the Palestinians on a par with the Nazis and Apartheid South Africa. They are making criticisms of Israel! Really? Of course they are doing more than that. They are demonizing Israel and often by inference all Jews, at least those Jews who do not join them in demonizing Israel.

Ahmadinejad wants "peace!" so he says. He and other leaders of his nation continue to speak of a world without Israel or America. His nation, rich with oil wealth, seeks nuclear power. No thoughts about creating a warhead or two from the project, so they say. Yet they have accelerated their nuclear program and have worked to create missiles both capable of reaching Israel and parts of Europe and capable of arming with a nuclear warhead or a biological or chemical one.

Ahmadinejad wants "peace!" so he says. So said another dictator who hated Jews. This November, we mark the 70th anniversary of Krystalnacht. Posters from around that time are eerily familiar.

In one, the man, whose name should be blotted out, stands with his hand raised. Underneath his picture are the words, "I now ask the German people to strengthen my faith and to give me through the strength of its will the strength I need to continue to fight courageously at any time for its honor and its freedom, and to be able to further its economic prosperity. I ask it particularly to support me in my struggle for true peace."

In a second, from a few years later, around 1943, we see a curtain pulled back to reveal the face of a Jew proudly staring down at a burning village with the caption, "The Jew: The inciter of war, the prolonger of war."

It has not gone away, my friends. The President of Iran stood at the podium in the General Assembly of the United Nations and stated plainly, "They are the great hindrances to the actualization of material and spiritual prosperity and to security, peace and brotherhood among nations."

Yet this man was hosted, in fact, honored and feted, by pacifist Christian groups during his visit to America during an interfaith celebration of Ramadan, an iftar meal, breaking the fast. The groups, behind the September 25th event at the Grand Hyatt Hotel and who should rightly be ashamed are the Americans Friends Service Committee, Mennonite Central Committee, Quaker United Nations Office, Religions for Peace and the World Council of Churches. Ahmadinejad dined with around two hundred people of various faiths including Mennonites, a Jew (only one of which I know was in attendance, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, founder of the Shomer Shalom peace movement and one of the early forces behind the Jewish Renewal movement in America) and Zoroastrians who said they wanted to promote peace by meeting such a prominent foe of the United States.

The President of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, said in response to hearing about the participation of Christian groups in welcoming Ahmadinejad, “Catholics need to stand with their Jewish brothers and sisters in protesting this obscene event. Ahmadinejad is a menace to freedom-loving people the world over, and the sight of religious groups embracing him is nauseating,”

I cannot agree more. Honoring such a man makes a mockery of the pursuit of peace and the pursuit of well being for the nations of the world. Hundreds of Jews, Christians, and others protested outside the hotel during the dinner.

As we mark the 70th anniversary of Krystalnacht this month and celebrate Chanukah, a holiday symbolizing a time when our people triumphed over those who would have destroyed us, let us remember the threats that our people face in the world today. The leading face of that threat was invited to address the United Nations, received applause for his remarks which contained blatant anti-Jewish sentiments, and was honored by people who seek to bring peace to the world. That should give us all pause.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Resignation after the Resignation

Shalom All,

That Ehud Olmert will not run for the leadership of Kadima in upcoming elections is hardly surprising. Not only is he facing accusations of corruption, but almost no one thinks that he has done a good job as Prime Minister. He led Israel through a disasterous mess in Lebanon, allowed Hamas to take over Gaza, watches as qassam after qassam lands in S'derot and simply gave in to Hizballah in a prisoner exchange. If the Israeli economy were not doing very well, Olmert would have been ousted long ago. Frankly, Olmert is no longer the issue. The issue is what happens now.

For certain, Israel cannot procede with any serious negotiations until a new Prime Minister takes office. The peace process is therefore on hold. For a little while, so are any plans to attack Iran or seek an agreement with Syria. Who will become the new PM?

Tsipi Livni is the favorite choice of many. She is a moderate who unlike the other choices does not have a long laundry list of negatives. I tend to believe that with the threat of a nuclear Iran increasing, Bibi Netanyahu has a fair shot at becoming the next Prime Minister and a strike on Iran would almost certainly follow his election.

It will be interesting to see what happens.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Deal that Made No Sense

Shalom All,

This week, Israel's captured soldiers finally were brought home. The amazing rescue effort, reminiscent of Entebbe, in which Israeli commandos rescued Regev and Goldwasser alive while delivering significant casualties on the side of Hizballah served to both raise the confidence of the Israeli population in its military and to scare those who would try to kidnap its citizens. The Arab world is laughing at Hizballah now!

Laughing. Well that much is true. The difference is that the Arabs are laughing at Israel and Israel is crying. Two mutilated corpses. That is what was brought home. That is what Hizballah handed over to Israel in order to receive the bodies of dozens of Hizballah fighters and to assure the release of several of its fighters including Sami Kuntar, a notorious child killer terrorist. Elation, joy, exstasy, pure unadulterated glee greeted Kuntar as he crossed into Lebanon and laughter at the weakness of Israel.

Negotiate with terrorists? Not Israel. No, Israel will simply give in to demands, going the extra mile to ensure that every organization that wants to kill its citizens will try to capture them in order to trade their mutilated corpses for live child killers. Hamas' leadership said today, "How much more should a live Israeli be worth?"

I did not write when this first was announced. I was too angry, too disgusted. I had dreamt that Israel had implanted Kuntar with a bomb and would detonate him alongside Nasrallah. There he is on TV for all the world to see, alive...and laughing.

A commentator that I heard recently remarked that "Why should groups bother to keep Israelis alive after capture if Israel will pay that much for them dead?" Israel needs to force Hamas to give up Shalit. It cannot negotiate.

This was a sad week in the history of Israel.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Obama, AIPAC, and Conspiracy Theories

Shalom to All,

Much of what I send out to my Israel list is purely informative and often includes statements made by anti-Israel sources, anti-Jewish sources, and other sources that are prominent players in the Middle East. We need to know what our enemies are thinking. That is why, for example, when the news about Postville came out, I didn't just look at the DMReg, the Times, and CNN. I looked at Vanguard News Network to see what the American Nazi Party was saying.

In this particular case, it is really interesting to see how those who oppose Israel have reacted to Barack Obama's extremely pro-Israel speech at AIPAC. Many among Israel's antagonists saw Obama as a candidate for changing America's pro-Israel stance. Especially in the Arab world, this was true. At AIPAC, Barack Obama made a speech that upset Israel's antagonists in a big way. He declared himself, not only a friend of Israel, but a strong friend of a strong Israel. In fact, Obama's speech at AIPAC was more pro-Israel's bargaining position in negotiations with the Palestinians than was Ehud Olmert's.

People like Avnery and Tikkun, along with others on the political far left who regularly bash Israel were shocked by what was said by the man who they thought was "their candidate" at AIPAC as opposed to Hillary Clinton, who they already knew to be a strong supporter of Israel. Those on the far left believed that as a black man and a "Muslim," and they regularly cite his Muslim upbringing (having a Muslim father and going to a Muslim school in a Muslim country)and not his espoused Christian beliefs, Barack Obama would understand the plight of Muslims and non-whites around the world and that he would certainly take on the "Zionists" that are "oppressing" the non-white Arabs, be they Muslim or Christian. The political right among Israel supporters also assumed this to be true and therefore had been strongly opposed to Obama. A lot of that changed with Obama's speech at AIPAC.

In Israel, Sever Plocker, a regular columnist (not remotely politically correct) for Ynetnews wrote that the fact that he, seen as the champion of those who regularly bash Israel, simply stood up and prominently supported Israel in numerous ways was one of the greatest gifts that Israel could have received. It was clear that a President Obama would be a friend of Israel and not a friend of those who would destroy it.

Condemnations came swiftly from President Abbas concerning Obama's Jerusalem statements and from many on the political left concerning what had to be "American Zionist influences." Even aside from the "undivided Jerusalem" statement, there was concern about that. How else could Barack Obama be a friend of Israel, much less such a strong friend. Some have said, particularly among Republican supporters, that he was saying what the group wanted to hear and not what he actually believes. Perhaps, it is simply because he is a brilliant man and knows right from wrong that he is a supporter of Israel? I tend to think that is why most of us support Israel. Regardless, this declaration opened up a field day for Israel and Jew haters around the world. There had to be a conspiracy at work. Obama, a black man with a Muslim father, could not possibly be an ally of Israel, symbol for them of white power and oppression.

Gaddafi's opinion is one of many similar statements that I have seen. His is the only one that I have ever seen that blames JFK's assassination on the Mossad. Yet, it is amazing just how broad the level of conspiratorial thought goes and just how scary the anti-Israel sentiments are, particularly among Palestinian activists. All you have to do is google "Obama Zionist" and you will find tens of thousands of citations, no small number discussing the nature of the conspiracy at work that led to Barack Obama's support for Israel. We will likely see much more of this coming from the Arab world as we near the election. The Arab world and Walt and Mearsheimer, who no doubt will add this episode to their list of evidence of influence by the "Israel Lobby," will without fail argue that it is because of a vast Zionist conspiracy.

Gaddafi is a nut case who thankfully no longer has a nuclear weapons program, but unfortunately the general sentiments of his statements seem to be more widespread in the Arab world and Gaddafi is still the leader of a nation, so his opinion actually has some influence. Having seen numerous "scholars" in the Arab world go about blaming Israel from everything from 9/11 to AIDS, it is not surprising to see Arab leaders blame Israel for just about anything. There are even leaders in the Arab world who will tell you that PEPSI stands for "Pay Each Penny Save Israel." The fact that statement makes no sense is besides the point.

Israel's detractors simply cannot understand how Barack Obama, who they thought was their champion, supports Israel unless he is facing threat. That is the mindset at work.

I do not know what conspiracy theories will arise concerning John McCain or the various candidates for VP positions. Should Joe Lieberman find his way onto the Republican ticket, I'm sure that there will be no end of conspiracy theories.

In the meantime, having heard from all of the candidates at AIPAC, I feel secure in the knowledge that the next President of the United States will be a friend of Israel, whoever he may be.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sermon on Postville

May 23, 2008
Rabbi David Jay Kaufman

In his commentary on this week’s Parasha, Behukotai, Rabbi Yehuda Appel wrote:

In the parsha, God addresses the Jewish people collectively, informing them of the severity of judgements - ranging from illness to exile - that they will face if they do not follow His path. The harshness of these afflictions can be seen as a direct correlation to the importance of the Jewish people's mission. As the nation who has been entrusted with God's instructions for creating a perfect society, the Jewish people are held to a higher standard.

Rabbi Shraga Simmons wrote:

The idea that "choices are meaningful" is so basic to Judaism that it is expressed in the very first verse of the Bible: "In the beginning, God created heaven and earth."

In my mind, in the Jewish Tradition, we are told to “Remember the stranger, for you were a stranger in the land of Egypt.” We are told to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Hillel taught us, “Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you. All the rest is commentary. Go and learn.” Maimonides Ladder of Tsedakah places giving someone the opportunity and ability to support him or herself on the highest rung. To embrace and help the needy is not only encouraged in our Tradition, but literally commanded of us. With this all in mind, how are we supposed to react to what occurred in Postville?

It is difficult to figure out where to begin responding or even from which perspective to begin. There are the immigration issues, the worker abuse allegations, questionable Kashrut practices, environmental violations, fines and criminal charges that have piled up over the past few years alone. Then there are concerns of how this event affects the Jewish community both as perceived by others and as we interact with each other. Finally, there are broader Jewish religious issues and issues of social action to address.

Not long ago, in December of 2004, a video produced by PETA during an undercover investigation at the Agriprocessors plant was released which showed animals suffering horribly as they were being slaughtered. These same practices were in principle defended as Halakhic, meaning according to the Jewish legal code, though numerous rabbinical authorities have strongly questioned that argument and challenged the Orthodox Union’s assessment.

The inhumane slaughter practices at Agriprocessors are so out of accord with proper Kosher slaughter that the Orthodox Union’s own leadership in Israel has questioned whether or not it should be allowed to be imported. Even the Orthodox Union has begun to agree with the liberal branches of Judaism that for meat to be considered “Kosher” it must be morally and ethically slaughtered.

Reports about the practices in Postville in the past few years are why many Reform and Conservative Jews are working to establish Hekhsher Tzedek, a righteous Kashrut certification, and not simply a minimally acceptable slaughter technique which in my mind, our minds, is not even minimally acceptable, but unacceptable.

On Tuesday (last week), members of the Conservative movement's Hekhsher Tzedek Commission condemned the company, saying that keeping kosher requires more than just adherence to ritual matters, but also sensitivity to the environment and respect for workers and animals. The Hekhsher Tzedek initiative is in part a response to past allegations of misconduct at Agriprocessors.

"The actions of this company have brought shame upon the entire Jewish community," the commission said.

"Yesterday’s discovery, along with the other violations of the ethical standards set forth by our Torah and our tradition underscore the need for Hekhsher Tzedek. To be sure, halacha has never limited its concern to the ritual elements of kashrut alone."

Yet as troubling as issues related to the nature of the Kashrut at the Agriprocessors plant are, they are far from the most problematic in my mind.

The massive violations of immigration laws and accusations of worker abuse, paying below minimum wages, and employing underage workers are simply not acceptable in any form. They not only violate the sovereign law of the land, but they violate so many principles of Jewish law that I do not have the time to list them all, violate a basic level of human ethics, violate the trust of those who would have purchased from the company, and cannot reflect worse on the Jewish Tradition and the Jewish people.

This is particularly true because our local newspaper went out of its way to reinforce the Jewish religious nature of the owners of Agriprocessors and even used decade old stock photos of Orthodox Jews at prayer in Postville to illustrate that point. In looking at reactions to the events in Postville, I checked several anti-Jewish hate sites. As you might imagine, there was no small amount of glee. The Vanguard News Network, the website for the American Nazi Party, went so far as to say its efforts in working undercover at Agriprocessors and reporting to ICE, Immigration Customs Enforcement, helped lead to ICE raiding the company and that they would continue to work hard to rid the community of the criminal Jews.

On these websites, the owners of Agriprocessors were not simply business owners that were caught breaking the rules, but they were portrayed as Jews flaunting the rules and exploiting their local community in order to make a buck off of needy immigrants.

Then this week, AFTER the arrests of hundreds of workers at the plant, Federal authorities charged that a methamphetamine laboratory was operating at the site and that employees carried weapons to work!

In the 60-page application for a search warrant, federal agents revealed details of their six-month probe of Agriprocessors. The investigation involved 12 federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the departments of labor and agriculture. According to the application, a former plant supervisor told investigators that some 80 percent of the workforce was illegal, evidently including at least some rabbis responsible for kosher supervision, who, a source included in the document suggested, entered the United States from Canada without proper immigration documents. The source also claimed to have confronted a human resources manager with Social Security cards from three employees that had the same number. The manager laughed when the matter was raised.

There seems to have been a callous disregard for the law, both Jewish law and Civil Law, at Agriprocessors. One cannot justify any of the criminal behavior that took place in Postville, nor the impact that behavior had upon the employees in the plant, their families, and the community. Our thoughts are with all of those who have been adversely impacted.While it is clear that the centerpiece of this investigation was illegality and immorality on the part of Agriprocessors, the story is also a reflection of our nation’s failed immigration laws and practices which regularly result in trauma for illegal workers and their families as well as in reduced wages and benefits for legal workers. It is time for immigration reform.

There is another lesson in the Torah portion from this week that is relevant. Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky, talking about the curses mentioned should the people not follow the right path taught about the verse "And you shall run the flight of one who flees from a sword, yet no one is pursuing you" (Leviticus 26:36). He wrote:

Simply explained, the Torah is telling us of the inherent fear that we shall have from the suffering that we have endured. We shall run at the slightest thought, even when there is no one in pursuit.

Perhaps this week, the Torah alludes to another form of curse. "When there is pain and suffering, when there is persecution and oppression, yet the world ignores the cries of those suffering - as if " no one is pursuing," -- that is a terrible curse, too. Perhaps that curse is as unfortunate as when the aggressors are clearly recognized for whom they are. Often our greatest enemies are not recognized as such. We are told that they are our partners and our fears are nothing but paranoia. Even our past experiences are being discredited by deniers, scoffers and skeptics.

We cannot control the ears and eyes of our detractors, but we can do our utmost to tell the story and make sure that they live on. And we can do our best to hear, too, the pain and suffering of those who cry to us, to make sure we understand the pursuers behind the pain.

What does all of this mean for the Jews? Well, those who hate the Jews will still hate the Jews tomorrow. They have a bit more fodder to work on recruiting the next generation. The Vanguard News Network will move on to bashing Obama again.

For the most part, the broader community will treat Postville the way that it should, namely as yet another meat processing plant that employed a large number of illegal immigrants and which was raided. Granted there are some additional criminal complaints in addition to those. There will be questions about the future of Postville, a town which was struggling before the Rubashkins came to town and which now faces the loss of no small percentage of its population and wealth. Yet, the greatest problem remaining to be faced may actually be one within the Jewish community.

We have a very real dilemma. There is one Kosher deli in the metro area, Maccabee Deli. It’s owner is a member of Chabad, a friend of the owners of Agriprocessors, who sends several of his children to school in Postville and who purchases his meat from the plant there. This is not surprising since Agriprocessors provides most of the Glatt Kosher meat in this country. Many Kosher Delis are in the same boat.

The Maccabee Deli is a community institution. In many ways, it is the heart of Orthodox community. Do we boycott it? What happens to those who need Kosher food in Des Moines if we do? The meat that has come from that plant has been approved as Kosher by the Orthodox Union. Will we insist on Hekhsher Tzedek, telling the Orthodox Union, the dominant group dealing with Kosher food in this country, that we Reform and Conservative Jews, most of whom don’t even follow the Halakhah much if at all, know what should be Kosher and what should not be so and that they are wrong?

Many among us, Reform and Conservative Jews, do not even keep Kosher, yet perhaps that is only in the traditional sense. Some of us buy Fair-Trade products when we can, eat organic foods if we can, and avoid purchasing products made by companies and in places wherein workers are exploited. Many drive hybrid vehicles and many more would likely do so if we could afford one. We change out our regular light bulbs for energy efficient ones and we push for divestment from places like Darfur.

The social activist in me asks, “How can we not boycott anything having to do with Agriprocessors?”

The rebel, the prophetic part of me, asks, “How can we not condemn these actions?” and suggests further that, “Of course, we can tell the Orthodox establishment that we disagree, after all, isn’t that how Reform Judaism came to be in the first place?” The advocate for Klal Yisrael, concerned with the implications for our Jewish community asks, “How can we take action that will harm, possibly irrevocably, an institution vital to the life of a good part of the Jewish community in which we live?”

The answers to these questions will be different for each of us. You will make your own decisions. As for me, I have decided not to knowingly consume products that come from Agriprocessors and that I will join with those pursuing Hekhsher Tzedek, a righteous Kashrut. Yet I will not act beyond those decisions in such a way that will harm our Jewish community though my own advocacy. We all, as Jewish adults, must take the responsibility for our actions and inaction.

Let us, strive for a higher standard, whether or not we feel that we should be held to one. Let us continue to “Remember the stranger, for you (WE – all of us) were a stranger in the land of Egypt.” This Shabbat may we, laboring to repair our broken world, in the words of Rabbi Kamenetzky, “Do our best to hear the pain and suffering of those who cry to us.”

Shabbat Shalom.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Endorsers versus Candidates

Shalom All,

We are at a point in elections where it seems to matter MORE who endorses a candidate than it does what the candidate actually stands for. There is a choice of TWO parties here people. EVERYONE will be choosing one of them or else not voting. McCain will be supported by people who don't support Obama/Clinton. They will be supported by those who oppose McCain. What a revelation! Someone who opposes reproductive choice opposes Obama/Clinton! I'm shocked! Shall we point out that there is no short list of those who are Pro-Choice who have views on Israel that are slightly problematic? Should I be making my electoral decision on Farrakahan/Sharpton vs Hagee/Paisley???

Perhaps I should look to the debate between Pastor Wright and Pastor Manning (the latter, a Harlem based African-American whose ridiculous tirade against Obama in favor of Clinton was in my mind purely despicable)? If you want to see Pastor Manning point out the exploitation of Obama girl and talk about Obama's family ancestry in a manner that I would have thought no minister would do, much less one in the African-American community just google "Manning Obama" or go to Youtube, look it up, and watch it until it makes you sick, which won't be long.

We certainly shouldn't be forgetting separation of church and state, but we have to stop acting as if the election is between endorsers. Obama, Clinton, and McCain should be chosen or not chosen because of what they believe and what they can do to make our nation and our world better, not because of the idiots (of course defined by whom you personally support and whom you do not) who have chosen them already.

Just a thought,


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Carter, Kadish, and Oh the Tsuris!

It has been a bit of a strange week on the Israel issues front. First, former President Jimmy Carter decided to personally solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by meeting with Hamas and relaying his demands, oops, I mean THEIR demands, to Israel. Should Israel give in entirely, Hamas will consider "peace," which as was clarified recently means a "tactical peace" during which Hamas would work toward gaining military advantage so as to be more effective when breaking the "peace" at a later time. The real negotiations happened when Carter came to Israel and relayed Hamas' demands, namely, "Give us what we want or we'll continue to attack your women and children with qassams and bombs and we'll blow up your crossing posts, your means of continuing occupation and oppression of our people by supplying our population with necessary humanitarian aid!" Israel's response to Carter was of course, "Couldn't you have wandered around Sderot for a while? It's fun there. The 'color red' alert means the game is starting and you need to run into the open and try to catch the qassams before they hit the ground."

Pardon my sarcasm. I know that President Carter at least had some hope, however misplaced, that he could indeed have made a positive impact toward bringing peace, though one could argue that peace would be more for Hamas than for Israel. Clearly, President Carter's foray into Israel-Hamas relations could not have been a bigger waste of time, unless its purpose was to allow both Hamas and Carter to vent about their disdain for Israel.

Then, of course, on the heels of the Carter visit, Mr. Kadish was arrested and charged with espionage dating back 25 years. Not that he has been conducting espionage FOR 25 years, but that it occurred 25 years ago. Furthermore, it appears that whatever "secret" documents, not "Top Secret" documents like Jonathan Pollard, were involved, they are likely now no longer "secret." This arrest some suggest was aimed at making a Presidential pardon of Jonathan Pollard more difficult. Others suggest that it was timed to undermine President Bush's visit to Israel for its 60th anniversary celebration.

I would argue that it is more likely that the timing of the arrest is meant to pressure Israel into revealing its nuclear capabilities as part of a comprehensive Middle East peace plan that was supposed to begin taking shape with President Carter's visit and that the two events, the arrest and Carter's visit, were coordinated. Yet, there is an even more likely source of pressure, James Baker III or Brent Snowcroft, who some say may be John McCain's choices as Middle East envoys and who were prominent players in the Reagan Administration.

You may remember James Baker for his "F--- the Jews! They don't vote for us anyway." You may not have seen his even worse 1992 statement, ""Don't worry, Jews remember the Holocaust, but they forget insults as soon as they smell cash." N.Y. Post, March 6, 1992.

Another possible reason for charging Kadish at this point was the revelation of photos related to the Syrian-Korean nuclear reactor that did not exist and which the US refused to support Israel when it attacked. Perhaps, there was concern that the US would be accused of failing to work with its closest ally and holding back vital security information? Another possibility is that Kadish is the one responsible for relaying information on the Syrian nuclear reactor to Israel and that some did not want Israel to possess that information for fear that it would do exactly what it did, namely destroy the reactor while drawing attention to strong links between Syria, North Korea, and Iran relating to cooperation on producing NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Perhaps, the US State Department or another agency did not want this information, so contrary to the recently revealed NIE on Iran, to be brought to light and was not happy, even embarassed and angry, when it was?

That said, Israel should not have spied on its ally in the past and should not in the future. It just gives people like these reasons to hate Israel and Jews. Furthermore, there are clearly elements that do not care about supporting Israel as an ally, if not outright anti-Israel elements, at work in the US State Department and intelligence agencies, who will seize every opportuntiy to demonize Israel.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rockets and Occupation


Recently I received a reply to one of my posts on this blog stating in essence that rockets aimed at Israel from Gaza were a response to "occupation" and that if Israel wanted the rocket fire to end, it should end the "occupation." I did not bother to publish this response, which was posted anonymously. I thought instead that I would address the fuller argument.

The "It's the Occupation Stupid" explanation employed universally by many pro-Palestinian activists assumes multiple things which are either unfounded or poorly so. Let me list them with explanations as to why.

1. Palestinian violence against Israel/Jews began in 1967 with the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, called "Occupied Territory" by most and "Disputed Territory" by others.

The latter term is employed by those who argue that since the WB was a part of Jordan and Gaza part of Egypt, both of which have subsequently made peace with Israel, that these territories are therefore no longer "occupied" in the sense that those governments which were recognized as the governing bodies of those territories no longer claim them. Palestinian activists claim, FALSELY, that these territories are and have been "Palestinian Territories" and therefore Israel is occupying Palestinian territory. Since there is not today and has never been a Palestinian state, this simply cannot be true legally despite claims made by those recognized as leaders of the Palestinian people today. A peace process that seeks a two state solution to the conflict seeks to CREATE a Palestinian state along side Israel, not to restore one. As for the beginnings of violence against Jews, see below.

2. Palestinian violence against Jews started in 1947-1948 while Arabs and Jews lived peacefully up until that point.

This is entirely false. Violence against Jews by Palestinians began as a response to Jewish immigration after World War I. Haj Amin Al-Husseini, recognized as the father of Palestinian nationalism, who became the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and who later aided the NAZIs in their recruitment of Muslim soldiers in the Baltic region, led riots in which many Jews in British Mandate Palestine were killed. In 1929, the Jews of Hebron were massacred. These were all BEFORE the NAZIs even came to power, much less after World War II. The argument that Palestinian hostility against Jews resulted from the post-war creation of a Jewish state is therefore also FALSE, much less that such violence began post-1967.

3. Rocket fire is the result of occupation since 1967.

This is actually quite simple to prove false. The parties doing the rocket fire state both orally and in writing that their efforts are designed to end the occupation of Palestinian lands which they define as being all of BRITISH MANDATE PALESTINE, not just Gaza and the West Bank, but all of Israel as well. Hence, those firing rockets are not fighting Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, but truly fighting the war of 1948 and will not stop firing rockets until Israel ceases to exist. Therefore the idea that Israel can make any concessions that will stop the rocket fire is FALSE.

4. Rocket fire is the result of occupation of Gaza.

This is also FALSE. After Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, rocket fire intensified. Hence a different goal must be the aim of those rocketing. I already stated that goal in the above paragraph.

Stop the rocket fire? End the goal of destroying Israel.

It's NOT about the "Occupation" stupid, it's about HATRED OF THE JEWS.