Monday, April 30, 2007

The Colossal Failures: Olmert, Peretz and Halutz

Israel's most serious and important document in the past 20 years was released today; the Winograd Commission's preliminary report on the mis-management of the second Lebanon war this past summer.

The retired judge said the prime minister:
"...formulated his stance without a second thought, without being presented with a detailed military plan, without considering the complex conditions of fighting in Lebanon."

"There was no organized consultation with others, mainly outside of army, despite his lack of diplomatic and military experience"

"The prime minister is responsible for failing to clearly set out the aims of the war, and for there not being a clear definition of aims of war and ways to achieve them. The war's aims were ambitious, and could not be reached. They were not within reach. All of these factors come together to form a serious failure of judgment, responsibility, and caution"

"The decision to go forward with a harsh, immediate military response was not taken on the basis of a well-planned strategy"

"The IDF's response would result in massive fire on the home front, which the IDF didn't have an answer to. There was no information on the state of the army, despite the need for such information"

"The IDF didn't show creativity in making options available -- It didn't demand that reserves be called up, which would have allowed them to be trained and equipped ahead of a needed ground operation."
On Peretz:
"He has no knowledge or experience on diplomatic, military, government affairs."

He has no knowledge on the use of the military as tool to achieve goals. Nevertheless, he took decisions without consultation, and didn't give enough weight to contrary views. He failed to fulfil his role, and he didn't act out on the basis of a strategic plan."

"He didn't demand or examine the army's plans. He didn't check the methods of the IDF, its plans, and its set targets."
On Halutz:
His personal involvement in government decisions was dominant. He was not ready for the kidnapping. He acted impulsively."

"The chief of staff's culpability is made more severe in light of the fact that he knew that the prime minister and the defense minister had no experience, and his claim that the army was ready and had plan. He had no real answer to the doubts raised over the plan, and didn't present any to the political leadership. In all these areas, the chief of staff failed to fulfill his role, and he did not act with responsibility, good judgment, and professionalism." (quotes via YNET)
OK, so what will happen next?

Olmert and Peretz have announced there isn't any reason for them to resign.

None at all.

Reminds me of a post I wrote during the war this past summer, "A Lament for Leadership."

Israel deserves so much better than the dreck we have leading us.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Israel's Judicial Despots

The Muqata blog doesn't shy away from lambasting the judicial activists of Israel's Supreme Court. Time after time, it never ceases to amaze me that the judicial oligarchy of Israel continues to rule over our citizens with an iron fist.

Just last week, we learned (officially) that Margalit Har-Shefi, the one-time girlfriend of Yigal Amir was in fact, not guilty, and was framed by Israel's prosecution and judicial establishment.
Public Security Minister Ami Ayalon, a former chief of the Shabak (General Security Service) who is currently running for head of the Labor Party, told a group of supporters this month that Margalit Har-Shefi did not know of Yigal Amir's plans [to murder PM Rabin]. "I know of this from intelligence [sources]; I was head of the Shabak," Ayalon told the audience in Ashkelon. "I know that she did not imagine that he would kill the Prime Minister. She was just a part of an insane situation."

Supreme Court Justice Mishael Heshin was heard saying he would "sock it to her" even before he had heard any evidence, and Parole Board Chief retired judge Eli Sharon refused to grant parole because Margalit did not express sufficient remorse. (INN and other Israeli news sources)
So Justice Cheshin wants to "sock it to you" if you happen to be on the right side of the political spectrum.

Don't worry, we received equal time from the Supreme Court's Chief Justice Aharon Barak as well.

Don't take The Muqata's word for it, here's what US Federal Judge Richard A. Posner has to say about Aharon Barak:
Aharon Barak, a long-serving justice (eventually the chief justice) of the Supreme Court of Israel, who recently reached mandatory retirement age, is a prolific writer, and this is his most recent book. It is an important document, less for its intrinsic merits than for its aptness to be considered Exhibit A for why American judges should be extremely wary about citing foreign judicial decisions. Barak is a world-famous judge who dominated his court as completely as John Marshall dominated our Supreme Court. If there were a Nobel Prize for law, Barak would probably be an early recipient. But although he is familiar with the American legal system and supposes himself to be in some sort of sync with liberal American judges, he actually inhabits a completely different--and, to an American, a weirdly different--juristic universe. I have my differences with Robert Bork, but when he remarked, in a review of The Judge in a Democracy, that Barak "establishes a world record for judicial hubris," he came very near the truth.... (TNR)
Many people find it hard to believe that Israel's judges can be so awful, just as many Israelis think that the elite black-shirted Israeli police YASAM shock troops are only used against "evil" settlers.

Israel's students received a taste of the YASAM last week when protesting about rising university tuition rates.

Remember: If you don't challenge the evil when it hits someone else, don't be surprised when they come after you, and there's no one left to stand by your side.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Sunday Roundup from Israel

So much to blog little time.

Israel braces for the Winograd Commission report of the Israeli government and IDF's conduct and operation during last summer's second Lebonon war. A "scooped" copy was leaked to Channel 10 TV on Friday. No real surprises:

1. IDF Commander-in-Chief Dan Halutz acted as an arrogant, narrow-minded, war-chieftain, believing that the IAF could destroy Hizbollah via air supremecy alone.

2. PM Olmert: LOSER. Even more arrogant than Halutz, and claims he will continue as Israel's PM, regardless. (Regardless of how many deaths he was responsible for).

3. Defense Minister Peretz: The most irresponsible politician alive in Israel today, for accepting the position of Defense Minister, when he is isn't capable of grasping basic military concepts (i.e. "war").

Next up: The Student's Strike. Government Black-Shirted Shock Troops (YASAM) bash heads of students, reporters, and anything that gets in their way -- as they used extreme physical violence to force (passive civil disobediently) demonstrating students out of intersections. The students said in response that they will call for a civilian rebellion. My advice: The government will use YASAM shock troops against you 10 times out of 10, and will accuse you of sedition and treason. Your best bet? Pay more tuition for the time being, and then go into politics to dissolve those parties that approve the use of the YASAM to implement totalitarian policy.

Chomesh! Cheers for Chomesh and the valiant pioneers who try to rebuild it! This past Yom Haatzmaut, between 15,000 and 30,000 men, women and children hiked to the ruins of Chomesh, one of the Shomron settlements destroyed by the Disenagegment. Tons of pictures here. I heard a totally spooky story the other night from a friend who went to Kever Yosef in Shechem last week. Too spooky to post, since the IDF will try to find me and extract information about how the night-time excursion took place.

Finally, a kinder and gentler Coca Cola that's healthier and available ONLY in Israel!
Over the past few years, health food trends have been taking the world by storm, but only in Israel will the world's most popular soft drink be manufactured without preservatives or artificial food coloring.

Coca-Cola Israel will be the first to produce a healthier version of the drink, while at the same time maintaining its taste, shelf-life, and of course, kashrut.

The move came following market surveys which clearly showed the Israeli consumer's preference of products without preservatives and artificial colorings. YNET

And last but not least...boy did I get it over the head for my JIB posting last week. How could I forget good blogging friends like the Maggid of Bergenfield, CosmicX, DafNotes, Sarah's View, Batya's Musings, and so many others? How? Because I was blogging on no sleep, with no sincerest apologies. You'll still be invited to the Muqata Waffle Victory Breakfast if we manage to win some JIB awards. On the other hand, I've obviously irked Hot Chanie who wrote me the following short email:

"Jameel: Your blog and blog name are the dumbest on the entire internet. It took me weeks to figure out that you are JEWISH and not some missionary or something. Your comment last week about not advocating my blog for the JIBs requires that I encourage all my five-town friends (and their friends and kids) to vote for every other possible blog, but YOURS. My friends have multiple computers per household, so killing your blog's chance of winning should be as easy as 90 minutes of spinning at our local gym.

Prepare to LOSE.


Hot Chanie

Hmmm. I had better take her threat seriously, and lobby hard this week, since the Muqata blog has some serious competition.

Shavua Tov! (To everyone, but Hot Chanie)


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Post Yom Haatzmaut Post

Now that Yom HaAtzmaut is over, here are a few pictures of what we did that day.

A time honored tradition of Yom HaAtzmaut is the IDF demonstrating to the public all sorts of technology and armor.

Some say this is a haughty, show-off attitude of "secular" Israel believing in it's own military might, without attributing our military success and acumen to help from G-d. (כוחי ועוצם ידי עשה לי את החיל הזה)

Personally, I look at it as the realization of the bracha we say daily,"אוזר ישראל בגבורה" -- we thank G-d for girding Israel with strength.

So our kids play in and around tanks (yes, I'm sure that's an awful militaristic message for impressionable kids), and the combat soldiers help paint faces of kids with camouflage.

And kids get dressed up as soldiers...

(Note, the pictures above are not my kids!)

This proud soldier shows off his handiwork...

And here I am in my award-winning Rachel Corrie pose in front of an armored D9 bulldozer.

But's almost the end of the week, and I haven't yet made my recommendations for who to vote for in the JIBS!

The preliminary list I came up with is...

Jack's Shack
Rabbi Without A Cause
Chana, The Curious Jew
The Renegade Rebbetzin
Ask Shifra
Life in Israel
DovBear (for best Jewish anti-establishment)

But then I realized to make this list official, I would have to list a name next to each category, and I have no time to do that...

Hmmm. What to do?

I will attempt to be brave and say do NOT vote for Hot Chanie (though whoever he/she is will probably torment my blog now). The reason not to vote for her is that she's in the same group as Kasamba, and I think Kasamba's a much better blog!

Fine. Maybe I'll go through the JIBs later and write a longer post, and try not to leave anyone off it. In the meantime...get and and vote!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Outpost Destruction....(and Vote for me!)

JoeSettler thought he would pull a fast one by hijacking my blog to convince you to vote for him. His "illegal outposting" is about to be removed...

Vote MUQATA in the JIB AWARDS! (list of recommendations coming later...)

Vote: The Muqata
Best Designed Blog - First Round Group

Vote: The Muqata
Best News/Current Events Blog (First Round Group A)

Vote: The Muqata
Best Pro-Israel Advocacy Blog (First Round Group B)

Vote: The Muqata
Best Slice of Life in Israel Advocacy Blog (First Round Group A)

Vote: The Muqata
Right Wing Political Blog - First Round Group B

Vote: The Muqata
Best Contribution / Blog that Made a Difference - First Round Group A

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Illegal (out)post (JIBS)

After the JIBS got slightly hacked (and fixed), I noticed another major problem.

You see, for some reason JoeSettler is competing head-to-head against Jameel in every category we are both in - but JoeSettler is losing BIG TIME to the Muqata.

So while we are waiting to see who Jameel recommends we all vote for, here's my solution to the problem - I recommend everyone goes to the JIB Award sites and...

  1. Best Jewish Right Wing Political Blog
  2. Best Slice of Life in Israel Blog Nominations
  3. Best Pro-Israel Advocacy
  4. Best Jewish News/Current Events Blog

(Let's see how long it takes the authorities to take down this illegal (out)post)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hallel on Yom Ha'atzmaut

This post will also appear on

Reciting Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut (YH) seems to be a sticky issue to a lot of people. Hopefully, I can piss some people off today :P. Gil posted about this very issue, listing various reason for and against reciting Hallel on YH. For the purpose of this discussion, I would like to steer away from whether one should recite a bracha or not. I believe that is only a far secondary to the real issue at hand. Also, this is the first time I am attempting to give a “dvar Torah”, so please have mercy, I bruise easily. : ) I also don’t have my source sheet in front of me, so I will do my best with sources (if I can find them) from the internet.

Jews, according to Chazal, (Pesachim 117a) are required to give thanks, when something miraculous happens to them that result in them being saved. If it happens to an individual at a specific place, he should recite Al hanisim (Hallel?) whenever he is at that place again. A community might also declare a day to say Hallel if they were redeemed, but not with a bracha, since it was for a smaller community and not for the entire klal.

One of the main examples of saying Hallel is Chanukah and in my opinion, it is also an example that refutes those that say we should not recite Hallel on YH. Chazal recognized Chanukah as being a miracle worthy of saying Hallel, therefore implying that it was in a sence a geulah. Remember, it was not THE geulah, but A geulah. Rambam (Hilchot Chanukah 3:1-3) discusses that one of the reasons we celebrate Chanukah is because we as Jews were able to claim sovereignty over the the land. Al Hanissim, does not even mention the miracle of the oil but mentions the military achievements. Chazal, as well as we, recognize that it was Gods hand at work when a small band of Jews were able to be victorious. Remember for the past 2000 years, God is hidden. Gone are the days of supernatural miracles (if ever :P). Now, we recognize his work through the natural process. When something extraordinary happens that shift the paths of history into a direction that it could not have happened, we see THAT as a miracle.

Looking at it like that, and seeing how God relates to us now, I will ask the question as the Rabbi I learned with put it. How can you NOT say Hallel? What heter do you have NOT to say it. Who can honestly look at 1948 and say a great miracle did not happen? Jews after 2000 years have control of more land then they did during the Maccabbees. A smaller army was able to thwart off a much larger one. A people that only a few years before were almost obliterated. How can anyone say this is not a great miracle?

The Maharatz Chiyutz (Shabbat 21b) states that no blatant miracle happened like it did during Chanukah. Rambam, as mentions above, states that one of the reasons we DO view it as a miracle is BECAUSE of the hidden aspect of it which manifested itself in a military victory. Purim is a day that we that everyone agrees a great miracle happened. Was there any blatant supernatural miracle there? No of course not. And what sort of miracle was it, it was a a miracle of salvation. No one can deny it. If I remember correctly, one of the reasons we don’t say Hallel on Purim is because we view the Megillah itself as a sort of Hallel. We remember and praise God yearly for that great miracle by reading the megillah.

There are others that say Israel is not a religious country. It serves no value. Messiah did not come yet. There are too many problems. The war is still going on. It was not the entire Klal only those in Israel that were spared

So I ask, what does any of this have to do with the events in 1948. Sure its not a perfect country, and its not run by religious law and the Messiach did not come etc., but the point of giving thanksgiving to God is when there is a great salvation for the Jewish people. Where does it say that Hallel is only to be giving at the end of days when Meshiach comes? All these questions can honestly be answered by looking at the story of Chanukah in which we DO give thanks to God. Messiah never came then either. Most of the Jews did NOT reside within the reclaimed land. The Hashmonaim hardly governed the country as we would like to call a “torah run” land. The Hashmonaim hardly saw eye to eye with the rabbinate and often lead to violence. Yet these rabbanim, or even later ones, still viewed that day as a miracle of salvation for the Jewish people warranted enough to give a special thanks to God.

Yes, we have problems. Yes we have corruption. Yes the land is not run by the laws of Torah. But, how is this different than the time of the Maccabees and after? So because people have been screwing up the gift God gave us, that’s reason to all of a sudden turn our backs and say what we have is not a function of a miracle? Since when did we have a perfect society? So, since we don’t have one, the miracles that DO happen to us are not warranted to give thanks? Israel today is probably better than it ever has been since the days of David. There is more learning Torah then there ever was. So then, how can you say Israel has no value? Jews all around the world have someplace to go. The world, in 1948 recognized Israel. This is no great miracle of salvation?

I think there are a few reasons for people looking at Israel as they do now. I believe there are a lot of emotions involved in this. There has been such a split over Zionism from the beginning that people just don’t WANT to see Gods hand on the side of the Zionists (so to speak). I think people have also very narrow view of what the Redemption is. For them, its either all or nothing. They claim Israel has not achieved what the Redemption is suppose to. Well, since when do you give God thanks only at THE redemption. Saying Hallel is for any redemption. The establishment of Israel, if not the being the beginning of THE redemption is still a redemption. I believe the other problem is the lack of real depth of historical knowledge. In every society, you need a military, an economy, agriculture etc. Jews, for the longest time, have not had their own country to realize how complicated dealings with these things can be. They fluctuate up and down. History takes you down different roads all the time. Its never an all or nothing approach. Hard decisions have to be made by leaders for instance. That’s life. And it always has been like that.

Chazon Ish (Letters of the Chazon Ish, number 97) says that since this generation is so spiritually flawed, we are in no place to institute anything new. He was not referring to YH though. IMO, ideas like this is what set us back. Again, of course we are not perfect, but we have never been. If its not one sin we are doing as a klal, it’s a different one. We may be spiritually flawed, but we are not spiritually dead. That part of our spirit seeks to express itself. It still recognizes God in this world. If we are always going to stand still because of our imperfections, we will get nowhere. It is something within the spirit of the early Zionist (both religious and secular) to see Palestine as the future of the Jews.

IMO, all this debated about the imperfections of Israel and looking at the minutias of how its NOT a miracle because God himself did not appear to us or giving subjective opinions on our spirtuality is beyond wrong. Its almost like spitting in Gods eyes to me. I can’t help thinking God rolling his eyes at us when we cant see the obvious in front of our eyes. Or at least, to use the same logic that we have done in the past.

So in conclusion, I will be saying Hallel for YH. It is the greatest “obvious” miracle of our time. If we can’t view it as a miracle worthy of a special thanks to God then there is something wrong. I will conclude with what the Rabbi said in the shiur along these lines: “That maybe when we open our eyes and see we are being redeemed, we finally will be.”

Happy Yom Ha'atzmaut

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Changing Gears; From Mourning to Celebration

Speaking to Ezzie this afternoon, he asked me the following: "How do Israelis make the switch from Yom HaZikaron to Yom HaAtzmaut? What's it like there now? Describe it..."

It's an excellent question from someone looking from the outside, in.

However, here in Israel, it's the story of our lives.

The sadness and solemnity of Israel's memorial day, "Yom HaZikaron" is painfully raw and encompassing. It affects everyone in Israel, and for this one day, we try to find some basic unity among ourselves.

My blog friend YS sent me this 90 second video clip of how Israel came to a standstill today.

And yet, the sad, dirgesome songs on the radio started disappearing by 4 in the afternoon, and slowly the tempo and optimism picked up.

Israel is used to the rapid change back and forth between mourning and celebration; at the tail end of sukkot, we combine Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah into one day. The merriment of Simchat Torah, hakafot, and completing and restarting the Torah come to a shockingly abrupt halt, as the sobering Yizkor and Prayer for Rain start the Musaf prayer.

So...we're switching gears once again.

I just got back from our annual yishuv celebration and obligatory fireworks display, and we don't forget those who died and made the sacrifice for us to continue living here.

Wishing you all a very Happy Yom HaAtzmaut -- will try to have more posted tomorrow!

May we merit to speedily hear the Shofar heralding the Mashich, and may our kidnapped IDF soldiers return home to their families safely and quickly.

Chag Sameach,


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

For everything there is a season

To everything there is a season, and
a time to every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and
a time to die;
a time to plant, and
a time to pluck up
that which is planted;

A time to kill, and
a time to heal;
a time to break down, and
a time to build up;

A time to weep, and
a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and
a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and
a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and
a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and
a time to lose;
a time to keep, and
a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and
a time to sow;
a time to keep silence, and
a time to speak;

A time to love, and
a time to hate;
a time of war; and
a time of peace.

Today, is Yom HaZikaron in Israel -- our memorial day for our fallen soldiers and civilian victims of Arab terror. I have a posting up about it here, which I suggest everyone reads.

After that bit of introspection it's time to remind our Muqata readers, that it's...


The JIB (Jewish/Israeli Blog awards) are in full swing, and the first round of voting is under way.

The Muqata blog has been graciously nominated for 6 different awards, yet the competition is fierce as I'm up against some of the best in the JBlogosphere.

I won't write that it's a Kiddush Hashem for the Muqata Blog to win an award as other have done in the past. It's simply a feel-good award for my efforts on this blog, and I can also politely show this to DovBear who claims that the Muqata blog is sub-par.

Therefore, I ask you to please consider voting for the Muqata in the following 6 categories

Vote: The Muqata
Best Designed Blog - First Round Group

Vote: The Muqata
Best News/Current Events Blog (First Round Group A)

Vote: The Muqata
Best Pro-Israel Advocacy Blog (First Round Group B)

Vote: The Muqata
Best Slice of Life in Israel Advocacy Blog (First Round Group A)

Vote: The Muqata
Right Wing Political Blog - First Round Group B

Vote: The Muqata
Best Contribution / Blog that Made a Difference - First Round Group A

There are many other categories as well, and I urge you to exercise your Democratic rights of the JBlogosphere, and vote in every category. The voting for all groups starts here.

I will try to put up tomorrow my personal list of favorites for the other groups.

In the meantime -- a meaningful Yom Hazikaron...and a very Happy Yom Haatzmaut (and yes, of course there will be a special Yom Haatzmaut posting here!)


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Israel's Fallen Heroes - One Personal Story

As Israel's afternoon sun slowly sets over Jerusalem, we prepare to commemorate Israel's Memorial Day, "Yom HaZikaron" -- the day we remember the approximately 22,500 who fell defending the Land of Israel since the 1860s when the Jewish people created the early neighborhoods outside the old city of Jerusalem.

The families of the fallen are everywhere, integrated into our lives in Israel. While we live our lives day after day, often, we aren't even aware of those who carry this burden along with them.

Today, I heard Mrs. Cheryl Mandel speak about her son, Daniel.

Daniel "a.k.a. Mendel the Platoon Commander” was killed in battle in Shechem (Nablus) on “Yod Gimel Nissan” at 5am as he led his elite IDF unit in an operation to capture three wanted Palestinian terrorists responsible for the deaths of at least thirty and the injury of over one hundred and forty Israelis.

Despite Mrs. Mandel's calm and quiet demeanor, her determination radiates to all.

"The terrorists won when they killed Daniel, but I won't give them the benefit of another "win" by getting to me as well", she said.

It saddened me to hear her say that, "When Daniel was killed in the line of duty as an IDF solider defending Israel, we were no longer olim chadashim...'new immigrants' we joined the ranks of Israelis as families of fallen soldiers."

I hope that everyone loses their oleh chadash status, without having to undergo such personal tragedy.

She summarized by saying that part of the training her son Daniel underwent, was the 110 kilometer "trek" that IDF soldiers in the Nachal Palsar unit have to run. While her son was not the strongest, he was given the task of carrying the "mag"...the machine gun, which weighs around 25 pounds. Daniel's commander told him, "Mandel, carry it," and he did. It was a very difficult task to run with a "mag"for 110 kilometers, yet he successfully finished the trek carrying it.

Cheryl Mandel likens that trek to her own; G-d, our commanding officer gave her the task of carrying the burden of her son's sacrifice on her trek through life.

Just as her son successfully completed his trek, she hopes to continue living her life (despite the unexpected task thrown her way) and moving forward optimistically, building the Land of Israel.

As this important day starts, please take a few minutes to view the following video (with English subtitles) about this one solider. While there are 22,500 other families and each one has their own story to tell, I would like to present this one tonight about Daniel Mandel.

More information about Daniel can be found at this website, including his family's contact information.

Tonight, we remember those who fell defending Eretz Yisrael, and how through their sacrifice, we are able to continue living, building, and rebuilding our homeland.

Please remember them in your tefillot, learning, and positive actions.

Shavua Tov,


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Important Yom HaZikaron Post coming soon

Just waiting for the video to finish processing on google video.

Should be up by 9 PM Israel time. Please check back to see it.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Beis Yaakov Punishment: Say Tehillim.

One important position on my blog that I adopted last year was that I promote aliya, regardless of a person's individual stream of religious observance. I have Hareidi friends, feel comfortable walking around Mea Shearim, and while I don't own a black hat anymore, it certainly doesn't bother me.

There are many aspects of Hareidi, "ultra" orthodoxy that I admire.

However, the following story sent me to (hat-tip; Marcy) leaves me scratching my head.
Seven pupils at a Beit Ya'akov school in Netanya were punished after they stood up for the siren that sounded Monday in honor of Holocaust Memorial Day (Monday), Yediot Aharonot reported.

According to the report, the school principal removed the girls from their classroom and forced them to stand up for the rest of the day and read psalms.

In Haredi circles, using sirens and "moments of silence" to mark memorial holidays is considered a gentile custom and is discouraged.

Haredi rabbis often encourage their followers to recite psalms or other prayers silently during the siren.
These girls may have been saying tehillim quietly...but the fact that they stood up for the siren (Zionist adoption of "gentile practice") is why they were punished.

And their punishment? They were forced them to stand up for the rest of the day and read that the sort of punishment/negativity about tehillim that Beis Yaakov wishes to impart to their students?

There are many ways the school can educate students about their philosophy of not standing up for a siren on Yom HaShoah, but to use tehillim as a punishment and "punishing" them in the first place will only make them want to rebel, adopt a negative attitude towards tehillim, and worst of all -- they will probably stand quietly again next year.

PS: A shout-out to Annie, who's brother is sitting next to me.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Accusing Shoes, Empty Shoes

"In the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross Militiamen 1944-45"

Reading the text on this memorial plaque, one would think the text was written by AP. Perhaps the English was difficult to translate from the Hungarian, so I'll translate it for you now.

This plaque stands on the bank of the Danube river in Budapest, where the Nazis shot thousands and thousands of Jews, tossing them into the river over the course of 2 years during the Holocaust.

As a memorial, dozens of pairs of shoes have been positioned along the bank -- where Jews of all ages were shot dead at that very location.

I stood there last night.

I've driven past locations in Israel where Jews have been killed by terror attacks. I've been to battlefields in Israel where IDF soldiers lost their lives defending our country. I'd never been before at the site where thousands of Jews were murdered.

The bank of the Danube river is very peaceful at night. It's very quiet and the lights of the bridges and castles gently illuminate the backdrop of the shoe memorial.

Over and over I've heard tour guides say the past few days, "everyone knew the Holocaust was coming...but people stayed...the anti semitism was apparent for wasn't a surprise."

I stare at this pair of a toddler's shoes.

How many children were shot, murdered, and thrown into this river?

The deceptive, peaceful quiet of Europe...the beauty of Hungary and Budapest, is just an illusion.

Europe is soaked in the blood of Jews.

And though today is no longer Yom HaShoah, I still hear the air-raid siren (from Israel) in my head as I look out over the Danube.

And the shoes continue to accuse.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

The JIBs...or else!

I've been threatened with severe bodily harm by Ezzie if I don't post about..."The JIBs". I assume you've all heard about them already, but since nominations are only open till Thursday (tomorrow! The 19th of April), it's time to remind you all.

Nominations are for the following categories:
  • Best All-Around (includes Best Mega Blog, Large Blog, Small Blog, New Blog, Group Blog, Overall)
  • Best Posts (includes Best Overall, Best Humor, Best News, Best Series, Best Podcast, etc.)
  • Best in Class (includes Best Torah, Slice of Life in Israel, Left-Wing, Photoblog, Student Life, etc.)
  • Best Specialty (includes Best Design, Best of the Rest, Best Podcasting/Audio/Videoblog, Best Contribution/Blog that made a Difference)
Last year, I made it to the second round for "Best Israel Advocate" and lost to Little Green Footballs...which is like comparing apples to cellphones since they have tens of thousands of daily readers....versus my 20.

Also, last year I ignored them and didn't ask to be nominated...this year, in the JIB wannabe awards, Joe Settler trounced me as well. Not that Joe doesn't need some moral support from time to time, and I have had many long conversations with him about why he should not stop blogging...but this time, I am putting down my foot and intend to win. DovBear and Hirhurim shouldn't be the only bloggers with 15 JIB awards in their sidebar -- though Hirhurim does have a great site...and DovBear is...provocative.

I am requesting your help in nominating the Muqata blog to achieve greatness through the JIB awards. And not only my blog...but go out an nominate all the great blogs and blog posts out there. Bloggers put hours of time into these posts...and the silly graphic and awards mean the world to them!

Of course, I know this help comes at a price. I'll have to discuss this with Jack the WaffleKing, and get clearance from the Mrs. @ The Muqata, but perhaps a victory waffle-breakfast could be arranged to celebrate winning a JIB or two. The possibilities are endless!

So...get out and nominate! (or just click here) Be creative...with all the groups out there, the Muqata blog should be eligible for something...

Ezzie: Are you happy now? I'd rather be blogging now about a million other things...and posting pictures and stories from my current trip here in Budapest...but Ive devoted this posting to the JIBs.

And I'll post my nominations list tonight as well...all sorts of blogs deserve awards (and bloggers) the Holy Hyrax...and Chana The Curious Jew...and Ask Shifra...and Orthomom deserves one for fighting the forces of evil and ugly...and Kasamba should get one for funniest blog...and the Maggid of Bergenfield is a great new blogger...and we can even cheer up the GodolHador with an award. I could go on and on...which is what I'll do tonight when I blog some more.

As they say here in Budapest..."bye"

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Settlers: The Image of a Pulitzer Prize.

Every day in Budapest has been a world full of blogworthiness, complete with imagery and experience that has burned itself into my being.

Yet, with all the pictures and thoughts I wish to blog, it's impossible not to post the Pulitzer Prize Winning Photo for 2007.

Awarded to Oded Balilty of The Associated Press for his powerful photograph of a lone Jewish woman defying Israeli security forces as they remove illegal settlers in the West Bank.

I blogged about Amona as it was happening here and here...and while I have so much to write about Amona and this picture, the post from Rafi G. sums up how Amona happened to being with.

PM Ehud Olmert said, "I am indestructible. I have been here for 35 years and I have survived everything."

More to come this evening.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Monday, April 16, 2007

Yom Hashoah in Budapest

The sirens didn't wail here in Budapest like they did in Israel this morning. Traffic didn't come to a standstill, people didn't stop working or talking. Life goes on as usual here in Budapest on Yom Hashoah.

This morning I visited the great synagogue of Budapest. This massive structure is over 200 years old, and was initially part of the Neolog "stream" of Judaism...similar to Reform. The Chatam Sofer put a "cherem" on this shul, and I therefore did not enter the building, but took pictures of the outside and visited the areas surrounding the building.

If you click on the picture above, you'll notice dots on top of some of the letters of the pasuk "ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכה" -- and I haven't figured out why.

During the Holocaust the shul was used as a concentration camp. Adolf Eichman had an office behind the rose window in the women's balcony, and the Germans used it as a radio tower. In the courtyard of the synagogue, there are mass graves of thousands of Jews from the ghettos in Budapest.

(picture of mass grave)

Raoul Wallenberg who came to Budapest as secretary of the Swedish Foreign Ministry in July 1944 with instructions to save as many Jews as possible. He issued thousands of Swedish identity documents to Jews to protect them from Nazi deportation and is credited with ultimately saving as many as 100,000 people. He worked with the Swiss consul Charles Lutz, as well as Portuguese and Spanish legations to create "protected" houses and a "protected" ghetto to house the Jews with international identity papers. Wallenberg was last seen leaving the city on January 17, 1945, right after the Soviet army liberated the city.

Wallenberg and other righteous gentiles are memorialized in the shul's courtyard.

In the holocaust museum next door, there were all sorts of objects I had never seen before in real life from the Holocaust.

This dress was made out of tallit -- to degrade and defile it.

Torah scrolls were cut up and used as parts of drums.

The following was rather interesting:

Here is a "Haftorah Scroll"...if you click on it, you'll see that although it's a scroll, there's nikud and simanei kriya written in as well (makes reading it rather easy)

Anti-semitic sentiment in Hungary during the Holocaust...

The Jewish ghetto in Budapest.

This visitor seemed a bit out of place in the museum.

A Chevra Kadisha tzedakka box in the museum...I thought it was rather morbid.

Yet, of everything I saw this morning I found this the most surprising. Outside the museum was the following "souvenir" coin machine...which would engrave on coins different "mementos."

I found the sign on it rather...offensive?

Will write more later.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Leaving on a Jet Plane...

Work calls.


So I'm leaving on a Jet Plane to Budapest tomorrow...on "Malev" airlines. Hopefully, I'll be able to upload pictures from all the different posts I need to put up this week....and you'll see them here soon.

The question is, on Malev Hungarian Airlines, will I see:

Chandeliers at the check in desk
Clear Plastic covers on the airplane seats
Stewardesses with blonde sheitels

And will they serve Goulash for breakfast?

These and other questions to be answered soon.


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Friday, April 13, 2007

Jameel Drunk Again?

Jameel claims he can't post. Suuuure. He's probably too busy chasing terrorists or drinking again. (Hopefully, not both.)

Meanwhile, and I'm sure he'll expand on this, the JIBs have opened for nominations!! Nominations last until next Thursday, with the voting commencing shortly thereafter. Check it out, nominate, and most of all... enjoy!

Wherever Jameel is, I'm sure he'll be happy to be nominated for a JIB. Or ten.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Oh, the things I wanted to write...

For the past 48 hours, blogger has been giving me grief to the point that I could not post (edit buttons were missing) The fix for it (despite what blogger will tell you) is that its not enough to clear our temporary files from your browser's cache, but to also logout and login via the following link:

And now, with only a few minutes left for me to blog today, I present you with the following options:

You the readers now get to chose what I should write about in my next post.

1. Extreme Matza Baking @ 1:30 PM, Erev Pesach
2. Our off-the-beaten-path tiyul in the Shomron on Chol Hamoed
3. Muqata family tiyul to Hevron on Chol Hamoed
4. My fun afikoman presents (mine...not my kids)
5. Jameel Bauer CTU activies (or, what took place between 11:00 PM and 1:00 AM)
6. Potluck posting (or one of your choosing)
7. Or, you can vote for me to go to Kever Yehoshua bin Nun tonight at midnight...and post about that.

The choice is begins now. (5:15 PM, Israel time)


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Peace Now...Jews Later.

The picture above displays the faces of 177 Jews murdered by Palestinian Terrorists after the terrorists were released by Israel.

Released as "gestures" for peace

Released as "gestures" for goodwill during Muslim holidays

Released as "gestures" to the United States, for political brownie points

And what did we get as a result? 177 more Jews were murdered.

The tough call is that kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is being held by Palestinian Authority Hamas terrorists, and they are demanding the release of over 1000 terrorists in Israel's jails.

Do we release these terrorists who will undoubtedly continue their attempts to kill us, to obtain the freedom of Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier who was kidnapped outside of Palestinian-controlled Gaza?

The answer should be, a clear, resounding, "no."

Unfortunately, the Kadima, Labor and Meretz politicians of Israel will release these terrorists in the coming years if they are still in power. They will release these terrorists the same way they have always released terrorists for meaningless "peace" initiatives which have proven themselves as worthless gestures.

When one understands that these terrorists will be released anyway and they will continue to kill Jews, we might as well get Gilad Shalit back now.

It's a terrible situation, but we can count on Israel's Left to release these vermin later on down the road, so let's get Gilad in return.

The ALMAGOR - "Terror Victims Association" disagrees, because they don't want to see more Jews killed.

The problem is, they forget how pathetic Israel's leadership is.

And if we're talking about Israel's Leftwing; Peace Now "activists" arrived in Sderot to hand Defense Minister Amir Peretz a letter demanding that he order the immediate evacuation of settlers who legally purchased a home in Hevron.

They could have demanded that Peretz do something to stop the daily launching of Palestinian Qassam rockets from Gaza, but I guess they have much more important things to do.

So it's not just the Muqata which is upset at Peace Now; Sederot residents were furious at Peace Now...and they had to be restrained by the police.
The Sderot residents, for their part, said the arrival of the Peace Now activists to the city was an ‘act of hypocrisy.’

"Where were they when we suffered from the Qassam rockets?" said Alon Davidi, chairman of the Council for Sderot’s Security. "Our real enemy is in Gaza, not among the West Bank Jews."
Peace Now is still clueless as to who the enemy is.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Ultimate Pesach Experience?

I was going to blog and post a dozen pictures from our amazing matza baking experience at 1:00 PM, erev pesach...or perhaps, our tiyul today to the off-the-beaten-path-national-park, "Maayan HaGevura" near Eli.

However...I think all that pales in comparison to the package we received before chag.

Honestly, I think they need a new copy editor.

(And I'll blog and post about the other things soon :)

Moadim LSimcha!

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

Search the Muqata


Related Posts with Thumbnails