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Showing posts from 2016

The King's Son, The Gulf War and Obama

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Along with millions of my countrymen, I have been appalled at Obama and Kerry's 11th hour abandonment of Israel, the US's loyal and stalwart democratic ally in the Middle East.

Seeking spiritual meaning in these macro-events, I recall the experience of living in Israel during the first Gulf War (1990-91).

Thirty-nine Scud Missiles were fired from Iraq into Israel during that war. With each rocket, the warning sirens blared and we Israelis ran for our 'sealed-rooms', put on our gas masks, and prayed.

According to reports, either 39 or 38 Scud Missiles hit Israel, with a total casualty toll of two deaths (one reportedly a heart attack), one severely wounded, ten seriously wounded and around 230 people lightly wounded.

According to reports, there was an additional Scud Alarm sounded in Israel at the end of the Gulf War, but that missile never hit Israel. Instead, that single Scud missile was fired at Saudi Arabia and hit a US barraks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 …

Reviews of Photo Aps

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If you, like me, are from the era of Kodak Instamatic, Polaroid, and (for the more sophisticated), Single Lens Reflex, then you probably share my awe for the power of 'simple' phone cameras, and the wizardry now offered by photo processing aps.

Over the past year I have been discovering the amazing power of my (then new) Samsung Galaxy S5 phone camera.

The quality of simple 'snaps', can be astounding, and the behind the camera operations, functions and options are also (with a little practice) impressive.

But the ultimate photographic experience is combining the sophisticated little camera on the phone, with a range of (usually free) photo processing aps.

Perhaps the most popular photo ap is Instagram, used by over 500 million people, which offers photo editing, a range of beautifying filters and a social media combo - allowing you to publicise your great photos to people/friends who may be appreciative of you and your work.

You are warmly invited to "follow"…

The Quantum Effect of Polls

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If you ask 10,000 people who they are going to vote for, and 6000 say Blue, and 4000 say Red, then within a very small margin of error, you can predict that out of a million voters, around 600,000 will vote Blue, and 400,000 will vote Red.

Donald Trump's unexpected victory is the fourth time we have recently seen the pollsters and political commentators get it absolutely wrong.

The Brexit shock, the British National Elections Tory trouncing of Labour, and  Netanyahu's victory in the last Israeli election, were similarly against every poll prediction and the pontifications of every credible political commentator.

What is apparently at stake is not just the credibility of polls, or of political commentators, but the very basis of statistics. If political polls are worthless, then perhaps their mathematical basis is also bunk?

Or, as Churchill would have it - "there's lies, damned lies, and statistics".

However, these same statistical theories used by the pollster…

Response to UNESCO: Jews on Temple Mount

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UNESCO's outrageous revisionist proclamations, denying the historical link between Jews and Temple Mount, cries out for an appropriate response.

Israeli Governments since 1967 have claimed Israel's rights to sovereignty on the Mount, but have then consistently refused to implement these same rights. Indeed, the current regulations forbidding Jewish prayer or ceremony on the Temple Mount, and the hostile & suspicious reception dealt out to Jewish visitors by the Israeli security forces, play directly into the hands of UNESCO and other re-writers of history.

If we the Jews do not exhibit and implement our deepest bonds to Temple Mount, why should the gentiles care any more for this connection than we do?

Instead of actively discouraging Jews from going up to Temple Mount, the Israeli Government should be encouraging, educating, promoting, and protecting a massive Jewish presence there.

Today, only a few thousand highly committed Jews venture onto the Mount each year.

Howeve…

Please Blow

Barry Chamish (OBM) & Me

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There is a saying that a man holding a hammer is looking for a nail.

I was saddened to hear that Barry Chamish died this week, at 64.

I had a brief encounter with Barry probably around 1999, shortly after the publication of Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin? (1998).

I admired Barry's courage in publicising his detailed theories about the Rabin murder, at a time when the left wing purge and harassment of the right wing was in its hey-day.

I invited Barry to my home in the still-young Ramat Beit Shemesh, and held a parlour meeting for the public to hear his presentation.

We (literally) had a packed house with (I guess) nearly 100 people crammed into my salon.

Barry arrived extremely late.

This was in the days before cellphone were ubiquitous, and so we only heard the reason for his mysterious delay after Barry arrived, flustered and upset, at our house.

Barry had arrived by taxi, which he ordered after dumping his car at a gas station somewhere on the Route 38.

The reason he had dumped hi…

Under the Radar in China

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Chabad regularly astound me with their remarkable mission to provide Jewish services absolutely wherever Jews may be present on the globe.

I had the privilege and pleasure of visiting Chabad in China recently, during a business trip.

The rabbi there explained how they operate - in a grey area, under the radar.

On the one hand, China's constitution upholds freedom of religion.

On the other hand, there are just five religious organizations which are officially recognised; these are (see Wikipedia)  the Buddhist Association of China, Chinese Taoist Association, Islamic Association of China, Three-Self Patriotic Movement (ie Protestantism) and Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.

Judaism, with a tiny minority following in this vast country, understandably, is off the list of five.

Therefore, by the letter of the law, any Jewish organized religious activity is officially banned.

This is why the Chabad locations are outwardly discrete - no signage, banners, outsized Chanukiot, nothi…

End of Cheap Made In China?

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I spent the past week in China, traveling for business in Shanghai and Chongqing.

It is my second visit, the previous being about a year ago.

Both times I was struck by the counter-intuitional lack of bargains available in the shops in China.

The first visit, I came with a wish-list of gadgets requested by members of my family.

I returned with some not-cheap phones, tablets, bluetooth speakers etc.

The bill was not dissimilar to what one might pay after some bargain-hunting in Israel and on the internet.  Furthermore, there were problems using this equipment in Hebrew and in Israel.

This time, I didn't take a shopping list.

Indeed a Chabad Rabbi in Shanghai told me that he doesn't buy anything anymore in China - but rather stocks-up on everything he needs on his occasional visits to the USA. He told me that, even if the goods are made in China, their quality and price will be better in the USA.

Further investigation and observation showed that the cost of Chinese labour is in…

MExit

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I have recently returned from a trip to visit my family in England.

They are still all a-chatter about Brexit, and the consequences.

Following Britain's lead, I propose that Netanyahu also calls a referendum in Israel.

The question should be:

Should Israel remain in the Middle East? 

Otherwise known at MExit.

If MExit carries the day, as I'm confident it will, Israel will remove itself from our current nightmare neighbors of Lebanon, Syria (RIP), Jordan, Egypt, and Gaza.

Quite where we, or our current neighbors, will relocate, will be thrashed out following a MExit majority.

Four Children Died in Israel This Year - Forgotten in the Car - Get This Gadgtet

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Yet another baby died yesterday in an oven-hot car.



This time it was the baby's grandmother; a social worker. Totally regular, level minded lady. No different from me and you. Simply forgot.



According to Israel's child safety organization (I heard the interview on the radio this morning), these incidents tend to happen when people break their routine. In the case of the grandmother, she wasn't used to routinely picking up and dropping off this baby. It is natural and powerful that our minds go into auto-pilot, which is usually fine. But not when there's an added non-routine factor - in this case a baby on your back seat.



There is potentially life-saving gadget is available in Beit Shemesh from Keren Yosef and also from Yad Sarah throughout Israel.



See the attached video.



There are also apps, tips (like leaving your cellphone on the baby's seat) and gadgets (pressure cushion activated etc).



The time to act is NOW, rather than simply returning to each of our routin…

Hilarious speech by Ugandan President at Israel Entebbe Raid commemorati...

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The above video is the highlights/lowlights of President Museveni, Ugandan President's madcap speech during the 40th Anniversary ceremony at Entebbe Airport, in the presence of Benjamin Netanyahu.

The full rambling and unique speech is here, for those with patience (25 mins) and an enduring sense of the absurd:

https://youtu.be/rkM9xBkrwgQ

Israel's Soft Opponents Evaporating

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Israel has 'hard' enemies who spare no resources to attack Israel physically, and in any other way. These include Hamas, The Palestinian Authority, Iran, and most Arab States (aside from Egypt and Jordan)., and the BDS Movement.

Israel also has soft opponents - who habitually and unfairly criticise and undermine Israel's actions, within a context of respectability.
These 'soft opponents' include the UN, EU, Barak Obama, and much of the world's press.

The EU launched it's latest offensive on Israel in their Middle East Peace Initiative, on 3rd June, following and supporting France's own initiative, and assembled 28 foreign ministers, but not Israel, to give their backing to an International Conference. This conference is highly likely to be anti-Israeli from-birth and is looking to impose a 'settlement' on Israel. This initiative has been strongly criticised by the Israeli Government.

Another soft opponent of Israel is Tony Blair, who was offic…

Our Disgust - Their Tools of Trade

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It is impossible for Jews, or indeed any other civilised humans, to fathom the evil of (literally) millions of Arabs, and to understand the moral blindness of the hundreds of millions who support them.

Israelis are reeling from the murders last week of 12 year old Hallel Arielasleep  in her bed at her home in Kiryat Arba, and the car-shooting murder of Rabbi Michael Marc, head of Otniel Hesder Yeshiva, and father of 10 kids.

The stabbing terrorist's mother is reported to have praised the depraved and horrific actions of her son.

“My son is a hero…My son died as a martyr defending Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque. Praise God, he is united with the martyrs before him, and he is not better than them. God willing, all of them will follow this path, all the youth of Palestine.”

The Palestinian Authority, the "legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people",  put out a statement of condolences to the family of...the terrorist.

I find it impossible to begin to understand …

My Take on Turkey-Israel

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Between the years 2005 until 2011 I visited Turkey extensively, averaging five or six times each year. I developed close friendships and happy customers there throughout that period.

This came crashing down with the Marmara incident in 2010, and then the UN Report in 2011 (which largely absolved Israel) which ironically was the last straw for the Turks.

My main customers were issued an anti-Israeli directive by their government, and I was officially persona non-grata.

From my perspective, the Marmara protest fleet (flotilla) was a deliberate provocation against Israel, directly supported by the Government of Turkey. Their pretense that this was a humanitarian aid mission was a thinly veiled charade.

It was a political protest. It was planned to spotlight the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, subject Israel to international political pressure, and thereby politically further the cause of Hamas.

However, the flotilla was not a terror or military attack on Israel. The protest ships w…

Justice Not Served

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Frankly, I found those Kahane crowd scenes- both the cheerers and the jeerers - ugly & repulsive.

I saw Rabbi Meir Kahane on a couple of occasions in Jerusalem when I was an impressionable student discovering 'real' Judaism and, while I saw value in the books of his I read, I was extremely uncomfortable with his speeches and politics, and the raw emotions he evoked in his supporters and opponents.

There has been much water under the bridge, both nationally and personally, since those early 1980's scenarios.

Rabbi Meir Kahane's assassination in 1990 and of his son & daughter in law Rav Binyamin Zeev  and Talya Kahane in 2000 (by the PLO Force 17, near Ofra) were almost fatal blows also to Kahane's ideas and legacy.

Fringe politicians, such as Michael Ben-Ari and Baruch Marzel have attempted to resurrect a Kahanist presence in the Kenesset, standing in many elections, and with only one success in 2009.

In August 2015, Rabbi Meir Kahane's grandson Meir Et…

God, Google and the NSA

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This week I googled "flights to Frankfurt" and suddenly I am getting adverts popping up on unrelated websites and communications, about flights, hotels, hire cars etc in Frankfurt.

This blog rarely gets theological, so let's try it out.

One of the challenges for God fearing Jews is to endeavour to comprehend the scope and scale of God.

It seems frankly incredible that God is on the one hand the Creator of the World, and yet knows all about and even controls our lives (the only thing we apparently control is our own "fear of Heaven": "everything is the hands of Heaven, except fear of Heaven"), for the billions of people on earth, and even the workings of an ant.

Indeed this is the crux of the Theism vs Deism dispute, a hot topic in the 17th and 18th Centuries, promoted in the writings of Voltaire.

Voltaire held that God is the Creator of the world, and set natural law in motion, but is not involved in the days to day running of our affairs. Voltaire …

David's Portraits

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I have previously posted (here and here) that I have recently taken up my Galaxy 5S cellphone camera, which is remarkably agile, and I am experimenting with PicsArt and Instagram.

Here are some of the latest photos, with a 'focus' on portraits.






ISIS at the Eurovision

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This is a particularly sharp satire.

Sweden, the hosts of last night's Eurovision are perhaps the most extreme case of left wing liberalism, resulting in a moral blindness on the Middle East & Israel, best exemplified by their foot-in-mouth Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.

Abbu, being a play on Abba, Sweden's greatest Eurovision and pop-music success ever.
The four severed heads are those of that famous four Abba members.

The song references the Muslim mass-migration/invasion of Europe, encouraged by Sweden, the terrorist murders in the Paris Hyper-Kascher food market and Islamic homophobia.

And a catchy tune to boot. (Better IMHO than most of the real Eurovision songs).

12 points.

Independence Day in Beit Shemesh

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Surprising Akko

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As we set out on a day-trip northwards during the Pesach vacation, one of my two accompanying sons suggested we visit Akko...

There were no objections, so with a couple of corrective taps on Waze, we changed course towards the ancient coastal port.

It has been around a decade since my last look around Akko, and I remembered it then as a run-down version of Jaffa, with a smattering of the Moslem Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.  I had distinct memories from my previous visit of feeling uncomfortable wondering in Akko's dark alleys with predominantly Arab population (it was the tail end of the Second Intifada).

We parked just outside the Old City walls and casually toured around the various sites.

Our first stop was at a folk/ethnographic museum, "Treasures in the Wall Museum", located in the ancient wall. There was a quaint exhibition of various craftsmen's workshops. Quite a lot of the exhibition material were items I recollect from my childhood, and seeing the…

The Absent Son

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One of our sons was absent from our seder table this year.
Raphael was in jail.
Raphael is the leader of the "Return To The (Temple) Mount" Movement (Chozrim LeHar).
The series of events began when Raphael, his wife and two children arrived at our home on Thursday evening to join us for the first day of Passover. 
Awaiting Raphael, outside our house, were two patrol cars and a crowd of police officers, who served Raphael with a restraining order, forbidding Raphael to visit Jerusalem.
This was in order to prevent Raphael from going to the Old City on Friday (Passover Eve), where he might make attempts to bring a Passover Sacrifice.
Unperturbed by the restraining order, Raphael set out Friday morning to the Old City of Jerusalem.
He was met there by police officers, who arrested Raphael along with about 20 other young folks, for "disturbing the peace" and, in Raphael's case, breaking his restraining order. 
Whereas the others were all promptly released, Raphael…

Why the decline in stabbing terror attacks?

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(Notwithstanding today's report about an explosion on a bus in Jerusalem...).
After 6 months of almost daily terror attacks, the pace of mayhem and murder has noticeably slowed.
Since October, 2015, Arab terrorists have attacked Israelis, generally acting without organizational logistics, but rather solo individuals or, at most, small groups of friends, using knives, cars and sometime guns, resulting in a tragic death toll of 36 Israelis.
In the past month and a half, however, these horrors somewhat and thankfully abated.
Of course, the future is uncertain, and who knows what tomorrow may hold, heaven forbid. But the recent past is incontrovertible fact.
Less attacks.
According to the IDF, March saw an overall number of 6 terrorism incidents (including shootings, stabbings, and vehicle rammings), compared to 56 in February, 45 in January, and 40 in December.
April appears to have followed, so far, the same pattern of dramatically decreased number of terror attacks.
I haven't…

Passover Sacrifice to be Reenacted Facing Temple Mount Next Week

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Guest Author: Batsheva Cohen

The public reenactment of the Passover Sacrifice, which has become a popular spring-time event these past few years, will be getting closer to the actual site of the Temple Mount next week. In addition, the organizers are offering a (k'zayit-sized) piece of the Paschal Sacrifice in order to fulfill the biblical commandment, should that become a possibility.

This year's reenactment may prove to be an even more festive event than ever as many new participants are planning to arrive from all parts of the country in order to take part in this free but priceless opportunity!

The past Paschal Reenactments were held in a school courtyard which became more cramped each year due to the growing popularity of the important event. For this reason the organizers decided to move the event this year to the more spacious location of Mitzpeh Beit Orot, between Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives, near Emek Tzurim, which faces Judaism's holiest and most relevant…