Beyond the Cusp

October 7, 2019

Israel Government Election Potentials

 

Israel held their second elections in order to attempt and allow for some governing coalition to be possible in mid-September. The April elections were inconclusive as the so-called right-wing parties; the religious, nationalist, conservative and/or Zionist parties, reached sixty mandates, one short of the necessary sixty-one mandates. The main reason that no government was able to be formed was due largely to two distinct reasons. The main reason which the media latched onto almost immediately, that Yisrael Beiteinu under the leadership of Avigdor Lieberman made demands which, if adopted, would have cost the support of the Haredi parties and cost the coalition more mandates than Yisrael Beiteinu could add to the attempted coalition. His main efforts demanded that the Haredi lose all or virtually all their deferments from IDF service, requiring all students attend public schools with their Torah and religious schooling being relegated to an after-school activity and other demands for mainstreaming the Haredi communities even against their resistance. The September voting realized the same divide as the April elections and left the sole formation of a government requiring what is called a unity government with Blue-White and Likud sharing the office of the Prime Minister and working together despite their disagreement on virtually every point of governance. Perhaps this is the ideal time to try and explain and define the differences which has the Israeli population so evenly split in halves making forming a government difficult, not impossible, just very difficult.

 

BTC Israeli Election Banner

 

The main points demanded by Avigdor Lieberman is a good starting point as all his policy proposals are largely based on a single premise, forcing the Haredi to meld with the whole of the Israeli society and removing the exceptions they have earned from previous governments. The two main points were education and IDF service. Avigdor Lieberman is making these demands despite strong evidence that the Haredi communities are inexorably moving to meld into the mainstream society even if at a fairly slow rate. He demands that the Haredi be forced to immediately meld into Israeli society losing all deferments for Torah scholars, their religious schools being replaced by the students being placed into the public-school system relegating Torah and religious studies to an after-school exercise. To a neutral observer, one would have to believe that Avigdor Lieberman holds the Haredi and religious communities in contempt and desires to destroy their independence and separation from normative Israeli society. He has attempted to force some of these concepts into law with little if any success and has now decided to demand these concessions up front, taking no chances. As noted above, the Haredi and religious communities have been slowly but surely moving towards melding with the rest of Israeli society without any pressure from the government. They are following the same process as the rest of Israeli society no matter their origins. No matter which groups one would choose to observe, be they the Russians, Haredi, Western European, Eastern European, Ethiopian, North American, South American or some other more exotic of Jews returning to their homelands of Israel, after three, four or at most five generations they are mostly merged with the rest of Israeli society. Their former native tongue is less used even at home except when the grandparents visit as their Hebrew leaves something to be desired.

 

There exist numbers of Haredi entering the IDF completely voluntarily despite being eligible for deferments. Haredi women have already been working with their forming companies themselves such that they can have a comfortable work environment. The Haredi men are lagging behind their better halves, but the number of Haredi men entering the workforce has increased year after year. But this rate, despite showing signs of increasing, apparently is not sufficient for Avigdor Lieberman who would prefer to force it into an established fact already achieved. The Haredi, according to him, have become too large a liability and, if not addressed by the secular community, will soon bankrupt the economy. But, even some in the Haredi community have already realized that their communities are threatened should they continue resisting normalization and are making sure that their children are adequately educated to enter the job market. We expect with time that the male Haredi communities will also form their own start-up companies just as their women are already pursuing. The problem with caving to the demands by Avigdor Lieberman, and similar demands from Yair Lapid of the Blue White Party, is it will very probably cause the slowing of the normalization of the Haredi community as they react to what they perceive as an attack on their way of life. Sometimes, attempting to force change on a community results in the retarding of their changing in the desired direction.

 

The question is why Avigdor Lieberman is pressing to force things on the Haredi communities which they are already starting to do on their own. The reason is almost purely political. His Yisrael Beiteinu Party had been losing support as their membership aged. His very public insistence on forcing the normalization of the Haredi community, including attacking their school systems, is designed to bring additional voters into his party, or at least voting for his party. Lieberman is tapping into some of the far left and far right and other pro-secular (read anti-religion) Israelis in addition to his normal voting support. His tactic has worked to this point, but only time will tell if this choice will prove all that advantageous with time. The surprise was that Yisrael Beiteinu would not be part of any right-wing coalition without some major concessions. This has been the sticking point making the forming of a coalition by Prime Minister Netanyahu as Avigdor Lieberman has all but refused to join such a coalition unless the Haredi Parties and communities allow for his life-changing new laws demanding their complete surrender to a secular life. This would lead to the Haredi not sitting in a coalition where Avigdor Lieberman’s demands were being met. On the other side, Blue White Party cannot form a government even with the mandates coming up just a few votes short. In order to form a governing coalition, Blue White Party would be required to persuade the Arab Parties, or at least a fair number of these parties consisting of Arab, Communist and other parties. The problem with such a coalition is that once again Avigdor Lieberman. Should he ever sit in a coalition with Arab Parties, his support would all but evaporate and it would be the end of his political life. This is the conundrum faced by both the Likud Party and the Blue White Party in forming a ruling coalition.

 

Some have suggested that Blue White might persuade one or both Haredi Parties into forming a coalition with their holding the Prime Minister office. Should Blue White attempt such a coalition, they would run into a large difficulty. Avigdor Lieberman is far from the only politician who desires forcing the immediate normalization of the entirety of the Haredi communities. Another politician who has made much of his name by making these demands is Yair Lapid, the number two (or three depending who you ask) person in the Blue White Party and one who would share the office of Prime Minister should they manage to form a coalition. Blue White would be required to disband their relationship with Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid Party. This would severely cripple any hopes of forming a coalition even should they be able to bring the Haredi onboard. The only other means, according to almost all observers, is for the Likud Party and Blue White Party to ameliorate their differences and find some common ground. Yair Lapid would be required to forgive his demands on the Haredi and Likud would need to back off their promises for annexation of the Jewish communities in the Shomron (West Bank) and both come to terms on several other issues including some concerning economic policies. This eventuality, to us, appears to be next to impossible. Yes, the two parties might manage to reach sufficient agreement to form a unity government, but any such governing coalition would be unstable and unlikely to last more than a few months, maybe a year. Such a government is not a solution and there may not be any viable solution considering all the particulars.

 

That leads to consideration of what might resolve this situation of such an evenly divided nation. The first point which is required to be considered is how seriously the average Israeli has been affected by there not being a coalition or Knesset, Israeli parliament, addressing any problems or difficulties since April and now a second hung election not producing a coalition. If the numerous people we have interacted with are any example, Israel is mostly functioning smoothly without any ruling coalition and a functioning Knesset. The government is still functioning largely fine as the several departments remain staffed and are simply quietly doing their jobs and providing their services. There will not be any new laws or regulations without the Knesset, but many would claim that such is a good thing. There is a better than even chance that there will be no government formed from the September elections and yet another election may be required.

 

The divide in Israeli society is not as extreme as these vote tallies appear to indicate. Much of the divide is a result of the ramifications of the devastating Oslo Accords. On the political right, there is a strong resistance to the “Two-State Solution” because of the allowing for an Arab state in the heart of Israel holding the overlooking mountainous region around the Tel Aviv metropolitan region where over three quarters of Israeli population, production, utilities and almost everything else exists. Their fear is simply rockets threatening the tallest skyscrapers of Tel Aviv using line-of-sight-targeting as well as increasing terrorism as a result. Many who still support granting the Arabs a state in most, if not all, of the Shomron believe what their far left leadership claim that by giving the Arabs these lands, despite all their promises to continue demanding more, will bring peace and security if only those religious zealots on the right would come to their senses. For those who wish to know exactly what any Arab state in the Shomron would become, they need look no further than Gaza where the Arabs were given their own region completely devoided of any Israelis since early September of 2005 as a result of the Gaza withdrawal which resulted from recommendations initiated by United State Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and fully backed by President George W. Bush and pressured by them upon the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who was required to form a new government in order to find sufficient support for enacting their insistent demand. Despite such evidence, much of the world still insists that Israel surrender everything and anything the Arab powers demand. There is another divide within the Israeli Jewish community, namely the religious and the secular. Even the religious have a divide between Haredi and the other factions including Reform Judaism, Traditional Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Conservative and other non-Haredi religious Jews. People need to understand that Judaism is different than other religions as the Jews are also a People. This leads to there being Jews by birth but not practicing Judaism as their religion with some actually having joined a different religion while being born and remaining a Jew biologically.

 

What will happen if Israel is required to hold a third election within one year? Well, Israel will be the butt of additional late-night jokes on television as well as at the water cooler. We are used to such things and will survive, if not thrive. The outcome of such a future election will be largely identical to the average of the two former elections. The possibility that there will result a government coalition is fairly slim. What has been frustrating is that the voting has favored a right-wing coalition approaching sixty-percent of the votes cast. With a couple of right-wing parties not attaining threshold, their voters were not included with those attempting to form a coalition. The left-wing and Arab parties formed partnerships such that all their voters would have party groups which would pass threshold. One reason that some of these right-wing parties failed to reach threshold was due to misleading polling which showed them receiving two to three times as many votes as they actually attained. What was interesting was that the further left the polling data, the higher these parties were polled to receive. There are those who believe that these misleading polling numbers were intentional hoping to prevent these parties from accepting joining other parties and thus wasting right-wing votes. So, we have conspiracy theorists here in Israel, we are not surprised. Whether or not the right-wing smaller parties will have learned anything remains to be seen. We can expect the polling results to be just as slanted attempting to reduce the representation of these supporters of these parties should they remain running alone. The other problem is something unique to the Israeli parliamentary system. Both Likud and Blue White were guilty of this problem as they each spent more time attacking the parties who would be their normal parties than those on the opposite side politically. With the predominant campaigning being used to maximize the two largest parties by attacking the smaller parties with similar or more polarized positions hoping to gain more mandates for themselves at these other parties’ expense. This may be part of what has led to the hung elections as it might be costing their potential coalition mandates as a result. Additionally, there are the misrepresentations which are almost always a part of any political contest. Israelis are fortunate that life remains largely unaffected by the political impasse being faced. Still, President Rivlin is pressing the two large parties to find some means of working together in a unity government. Thus far, we are facing a situation where leaders of Blue White refusing to sit in a government where the Prime Minister is under investigation of misconduct, even if the investigations are found to be purely politically motivated. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu is not ready to pass the leadership of Likud. Perhaps the upcoming Likud primary election scheduled in the near future will solve that situation by choosing a new leader. The odds of such are almost nonexistent, but stranger things have been known to happen and we will just need to wait and see what the future will bring.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

November 11, 2018

Is Third Lebanon War Inevitable?

 

Israel is doing all she is able in order to at least stall war with slim hopes of avoiding it all together. Israel has sent messages pleading with the Lebanese government to end the adaptation of the largest of the one-hundred-fifty-thousands of rockets into guided missiles with within ten-meter accuracy and some even tighter control. Iran has been shipping guidance packages which can be added to normal rockets turning them into guided missiles capable of targeting any Israeli site and be assured of striking them. Israel has made the upgrade of these rockets into guided missiles a red-line which must not be crossed as allowing such leaves Israel under a definitive threat. Needless to point out, but when one places a red line before any of the many Iranian functionaries, such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Houthis and Hezballah, Iran will push them past that red-line just to goad Israel by providing a threat level which cannot be permitted on her border. It is bad enough that Iran has stocked Hezballah with over one-hundred-fifty-thousands of rockets of varying sizes and ranges (see table below), but now Iran is providing guidance packages and advisors who taught Hezballah how to retrofit mere rockets making them into guided missiles which transforms the threat level beyond what Israel can permit. This message is being provided to be passed on to Lebanese government, specifically Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri by French President Emmanuel Macron who was to deliver the Israeli warning. The choice is very simple and plainly put, either Lebanon prevents any further retooling of the Hezballah rocket inventory or Israel will break everything Hezballah is utilizing for this purpose and probably somewhat more. This would lay waste to large areas of Beirut as well as the surrounding countryside, the Bekaa Valley and most of the areas south of the Litani River.

 

Hezballah Rocket & Missile Threat

Hezballah Rocket & Missile Threat

 

According to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, Hezballah was not to rearm, was to remove all offensive capabilities including manpower from south of the Litani River, abandon and destroy the tunnel and bunker network north of the Israeli border up to the Litani River and not engage Israel with a threat of her destruction. United Nations forces were to enforce these terms and should they fail, circumventing or contravening any of these stipulations was to be considered a casus belli instituting a state of war. Hezballah has ignored, transgressed and shredded every item in this treaty often using United Nations vehicles to transport rockets, munitions, terrorist fighters and support people almost everywhere south of the Litani River. Hezballah has not only repaired but expanded, extended and more fully integrated their tunnels, bunkers, rocket firing position and storage areas throughout the regions south of the Litani River. Hezballah has restocked and augmented their rockets with M-600’s, Zelzal-2 and Scud-D rockets approaching one-hundred-thousand of these longer range rockets as well as presumably incorporated the entire arsenal of the Lebanese Army at their command should they be required to engage with Israel. Israel has observed this build-up but drew a red-line in the sand that she would not tolerate guided missiles which could be made to strike any specific target within Israel potentially causing grievous harm to Israeli infrastructure and her people. This was why Israel had bombed a number of the recent attempts which were providing guided missiles to Hezballah from Iran. Now Iran has taken a different tactic, they have been providing Hezballah with special adapter kits consisting of guidance fins and a targeting system which refits unguided rockets transforming them into guided missiles capable of striking specific targets within Israel.

 

How does the addition of guidance packages to thousands of long-range rockets really change anything when the sheer numbers of Hezballah rockets meant that Israel could be virtually blanketed by rockets. The reality is while Hezballah has these many tens of thousands of larger rockets and could presumably blanket Israel from the north to the southern tip, by making them into guided missiles they can specifically target nuclear power stations in Haifa poisoning the entire area with a blanket of radiation, the Dimona Research Reactor, the skyscrapers in Tel Aviv, train terminals and any other infrastructure including the larger shelters where thousands of Israelis will have gathered to be safe from the rockets. Striking one of these larger shelters with four or five guided missiles one after the other would likely compromise the structure rendering it unsafe and potentially collapsing the structure killing many hundreds of civilians. Further, there will be a limited number of these larger rockets capable of being fired before Israel would strike the launch facilities including the mobile launchers preventing a second wave. Now that first wave of newly converted guided missiles would be capable of crippling Israeli infrastructure killing electrical power to much of the nation as well as destroying fuel reserves and other vital infrastructure. Additionally, Hezballah has been provided with a number of the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems (see image below). These are the identical units which Russia provided Bashir al-Assad with as a threat to Israeli air operations over Syria. These would require detection and destruction before the majority of Israel jet fighters would be safe flying over Lebanon, especially when making a strike run. The limited number of fifth generation F-35 aircraft would be required to make the first attacks on these systems as their stealth makes them less threatened by this system which uses radar guidance. These systems were a game changer providing Hezballah with advance anti-aircraft capabilities which is capable of intercepting the F-15’s and F-16’s or any other aircraft other than the F-35’s recently added to the Israeli Air Force.

 

Russian Produced S-300 Anti-Aircraft Missiles with Radar System and Control Vehicle

Russian Produced S-300 Anti-Aircraft Missiles
with Radar System and Control Vehicle

 

The Hezballah threat which has continued to slowly but surely build its threat level to the point where permitting any further escalation would make Hezballah a definitive threat which Israel could no longer permit to choose the time of any confrontation. The safety of many Israelis depends on the IDF initiating any war with Hezballah should Hezballah initiate such a conflict and posses guidance package enhanced rockets which could be used to target Israeli military and civilian airfields. One could hope that Iron Dome and other interception systems would intercept a large majority, still even should 90% or more be intercepted out of one-thousand missiles, should the current escalation continue for another six months, such still leaves one-hundred missiles striking their targets. This would allow one-hundred rockets, missiles, mortars and other projectiles striking Israel for ever thousand rockets fired. This would mean that Hezballah currently could have fifteen-thousand rockets strike Israel. This is why the Israeli Air Force must be capable of taking out the vast majority of everything from the smallest rockets to the largest guided missiles. International Law permits nations instigating acts of war against any force across any border which is preparing to have and deliver destruction which is beyond the ability of the nation to absorb and survive. For a country such as the United States or Russia, there exist very few nations which could deliver such destruction upon them and none of these nations share a border with them. Israel, by comparison, is the approximate size of New Jersey and her neighboring nations, even the wreck which is Syria, are intent upon her destruction. Hezballah is currently, with heavy Iranian assistance, crossing the threshold beyond that which Israel can tolerate. The other terror group with their own semi-autonomous region, Hamas, has been threatening Israel and has already caused significant damage burning down virtually every field of crops within fifteen miles or so of the Gaza border with Israel. Israel cannot leave both Hezballah and Hamas in a position to strike at her at the time of their choosing, as such, an attack could hinder Israeli abilities to respond with sufficient swiftness.

 

With Iran controlling Hezballah and the two main terror groups in Gaza, Islamic Jihad and Hamas, Israel might very well wake one morning with a war engaging from the north or the south and by the end of the day have a second front break-out on the opposite border thus requiring Israel to commit to a two fronts war. This is not the best of scenarios and would require nearly shutting the country down and calling up virtually all combat reservists. Israel practices such a call-up ever two years just to be able to iron out any difficulties which may erupt as a consequence of such a training mission. When performing such a difficult call-up during a two front war, there would be guaranteed confusion which would take some precious time to iron out. Some of the Commanding Generals on the General Staff have claimed that Israel is incapable of fighting a two front war against the two groups in Gaza and Hezballah in Lebanon. What could make matters even worse would be if IRGC Iranian troops as well as the Iranian Quds Force also attacked Israel along the Golan Heights and rest of the Syrian border with Bashir al-Assad providing protection from aircraft with his improved S-300 antiaircraft systems as well as giving them air support and artillery support as well. There is even the possibility of the Russian forces in Syria allowing the deploying of their S-400 anti-air defense systems, the most advanced systems the Russians currently deploy. The Russians allowing the use of their advanced F-400 systems might be sufficient coverage against the Israeli F-35 stealth fighters, but maybe not. Such would be the first use official test of the presumed superiority of the F-35 stealth fighters in actual combat against the Russian anti-aircraft systems. Israel would gladly forgo any such war as any time spent in a state of war, especially if it required calling up significant numbers of reserves as that is what results in shutting down much of the Israeli economy. That is what makes any war so costly to Israel, and that is before we have to count the devastating loss of life, especially innocent life on either side.

 

Israel has attempted to express the problem in a number of different ways. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu made the threat of the conversion of rockets into guided missiles the central theme of his United Nations speech. He laid out exactly where the underground facilities carrying out the conversion were located including pictures of the soccer field under which two of these conversion sites were operating. He covered the southern Beirut neighborhoods where support operations and coordination was being handled. Prime Minister Netanyahu told that Israel could not allow this threat to continue and grow any further and that should Iran continue using Hezballah to be their proxy with which to attack Israel, that Israel knows the real power behind those forces attempting to destroy the Jewish State. Israel stated that the continued operations to make these missiles into existential threats would force Israel to act and implied that under some circumstances, Israel might find it to her advantage to engage Iran directly to end her supplying Hezballah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas with weapons to use against Israel. Trying to avoid an inevitable war has to be frustrating. Where does an Israeli leader turn for help in preventing such a war. There have been messages sent through France, the United States, and even been mentioned in the Al Hayat newspaper where it stated that Israeli National Security Adviser Eitan Ben-David has told French officials that Israel was seeking a diplomatic solution before embarking on a military operation. They cannot claim that nobody warned them any longer and perhaps it is their intention to provoke a war with Israel, but perhaps not at this time. In part of Netanyahu’s speech, he warned Hezbollah that, “Israel knows what you are doing, Israel knows where you are doing it, and Israel will not let you get away with it.” Also, this past January, Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson, Brigadier General Ronen Manelis, wrote an op-ed to a Lebanese newspaper in which he directed a warning to Hezbollah that their efforts to manufacture rockets inside Lebanon would plunge the region into war. There is not much more Israel can do yet still the leadership of Hezballah insists on continuing to upgrade their rockets into guided missiles coming ever closer to that number where Israel chooses to act. The resultant war would also be devastating for Lebanon and would almost wipe everything south of the Litani River with the length and breadth of the Bekaa Valley as well as much of Beirut where this work is being conducted. One item which is often overlooked is that Israel also has rockets and numerous guided missiles with which to strike at targets including those buried deep underground. This little fact is also of supreme importance to one individual and any in his bunker with him, dear Nasrallah, we know where you are hiding and even when you change locations, so; you better look out, you better not shout, no threats to Israel you spout and running all about, for the IDF is coming for you.

 

This threat of war can be dismantled and not intentionally made worse and worse until Israel absolutely must strike as leaving such a number of guided missiles ready to strike at the heart of the nation killing untold numbers due to the increased accuracy. Should these guided missiles be utilized on central Tel Aviv striking many of the towers, bringing any of them down would result in a massive loss of life. Such would be an Israeli 9/11, something nobody outside of the Arab and Muslim worlds desire seeing. There would be candy handed out in the streets of Gaza and around the Middle East in celebration of the death of so many Israelis as any who happened to be Israeli Arabs, well, that is what you get for working alongside Jews. These forces including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezballah, IRGC, Quds Force, Palestinian Authority, PLO, the leadership of Iran and others around the Middle East and North Africa, all fight for and pray for and hope for the eventual taking back of the land where Israel currently stands. These forces love this land so much they are willing to burn it to the ground and leaving it a slag heap of radioactive debris which would leave it uninhabitable for the next few decades if not centuries. That is how much they love the land, but it goes with their mantra which states that they love death as Israelis love life, and that is why they will defeat Israel. Their accusation is absolutely correct except that they will not win, as life is stronger simply because it is based on love and light and not on hate and darkness as their culture of death has become. Israel desires to build, invent, plant, nurture and make advances which will benefit all of humankind while they desire to kill, destroy and tear down and then cannot figure out why they are incapable of advancement. Life, light and love must win out here in Israel otherwise the world is at risk of falling into a prolonged dark age which will take science and industry back about a thousand years and leave much of what has been built fallen to the ground in twisted ruins. That is the future we must, as the human race, choose between, light, love and life or darkness, hate and death. We choose life. We give love. We spread light to chase away the darkness. Remember that a single candle with its tiny flame can illuminate an entire room chasing out its darkness even from the corners.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

April 10, 2018

Rabbi Jacobs Still Protesting Netanyahu on Infiltrators

 

North America Reform Movement President Rabbi Rick Jacobs has jumped into Israeli politics once again making the same wrong assumptions about Judaism and Torah. What put a burr on his saddle is that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has called for an investigation of the New Israel Fund due to their recent interference in Israeli foreign affairs by lobbying and paying for protesting in Rwanda pressuring them into refusing to honor their deal of accepting the African infiltrators from Israel. According to the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu was quoted explaining the difficulty and the responsibility for the current difficulties stating, “Over the last two years I worked with Rwanda so that it would be the ‘third country’ to absorb infiltrators we would deport against their will. That is the only legal way that remained for us to remove the infiltrators against their will, since all our others moves were disqualified on legal grounds.” Netanyahu further added, “in recent weeks, after tremendous pressure on Rwanda from the New Israel Fund and sources in the European Union, Rwanda folded on the agreement and refused to absorb infiltrators who would be removed from Israel by force.”

 

Rabbi Jacobs Tweeted a response to the Jerusalem Post article stating, “Shocked & angered by PM @Netanyahu’s attacks on @NewIsraelFund, which for decades has been a trusted champion of an Israel embodying the prophetic ideals of our Jewish tradition, including economic justice, religious freedom, human rights & more.” Rabbi Jacobs Tweeting did not end there as he added, “If the PM is looking to assign blame for the tragic plight of asylum seekers, he can look no further than the mirror.” Rabbi Jacobs continued on with, “From fomenting fear with his use of the term “infiltrators” to the humanitarian disaster of detention centers to yesterday’s shameful flip-flop on an UN-brokered deal to positively resolve the situation, he has done the wrong thing time & again.” We are going to assume that Rabbi Jacobs is also in favor of amnesty for every illegal immigrant in the United States.

 

We are not alone in our fear and alarm at the actions and political alignment of Rabbi Jacobs. Allow us to quote from a press release by the ZOA, “The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed concern at the appointment of Rabbi Richard Jacobs as head of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). Included among our concerns is the fact that Rabbi Jacobs is a member of the Rabbinic Cabinet of J Street, the extremist, George Soros-funded lobby group that takes positions to the left of the Israeli Labor and far-left Meretz parties, recently opposed sanctions on Iran, and urged President Barack Obama not to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning as “illegal” Jewish homes and communities in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. Jacobs is also a long-time board member and advocate of the New Israel Fund (NIF), which is a leading promoter and funder of organizations that advocate boycotting, divesting from, and imposing sanctions upon, Israel (BDS) as well as other groups involved in delegitimizing Israel and mounting ‘lawfare’ suits against Israeli political and military officials, causing these officials to not visit certain European countries. The ZOA is concerned by Rabbi Jacobs’ close association with J Street and NIF and thus at the prospect of the Reform movement becoming a captive of the beliefs and actions of both organizations. We hope the Reform movement, under Jacob’s leadership, will not become an unnamed arm and political ally of these organizations.”

 

North America Reform Movement President Rabbi Rick Jacobs

North America Reform Movement President Rabbi Rick Jacobs

 

The first sign that the unfortunate has taken over Rabbi Jacob’s mind to a point where he has confused the leftist extreme wing of the Democrat Party and gone over to the point of supporting Israel’s enemies came in his first Tweet. When he sided with the “NewIsraelFund, which for decades has been a trusted champion of an Israel embodying the prophetic ideals of our Jewish tradition, including economic justice, religious freedom, human rights & more,” we saw the signs of the disease. Yes, Judaism supports religious freedom and treating each and every person with respect unless they first show disrespect or worse, antagonism. His inclusion of “economic justice” is a sign of his being a purveyor of leftist dogma. Where Judaism does have the mechanisms to care for the elderly and the poor, but economic justice, another means of saying wealth redistribution, that does not exist in Judaism. Torah allows a man to retain what he has earned. Each is responsible for giving ten percent to charity which includes assisting one’s own family as charity begins at home. But evening out income such that nobody is permitted to gain excess wealth, this is not Judaism. Rabbi Jacobs has shown numerous other indications that he has aligned his Judaism with his leftist political beliefs and twisted Torah to fit his politics, and not used Torah as the guide for his life and his interactions with others.

 

We decided to let you hear from Rabbi Rick Jacobs in his own words taken from his Address to the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial Celebrations. These are excerpts from his talk. (Our comments will be contained within parentheses.) “Our movement is stronger because of the congregations that are visionary and courageous enough to reinvent the core functions of synagogue life, from new models of education to new models of membership to new models of spiritual practice…” (Change is good, provided it is all based on Torah, yet he does not mention Torah in his call for change.) “Like any established organization in a time of change, ours must be willing to ask ourselves which old habits need to be shaken up. Not because it’s nice to get an upgrade once in awhile – but because the forces we face demand our urgent attention and action.” “And when we ask ourselves those ever-present, ever-important questions – How can we can ensure that we stay relevant and effective? What new questions do we need to answer and what assumptions do we need to challenge? – we should take a cue from the successes we’ve seen.” (More relevance and change reacting to the world, yet where is the following of Judaism’s history and guidance from the Torah?) “When we ask the participants of our youth programs to tell us what it means to them to be Jewish, what do they say? They want to feel part of a real community.” (Torah life anyone?) “Our synagogues and programs have the power to turn that purpose into something real – somewhere to go, someone to talk to, something to do when this moment feels too overwhelming. A community that speaks and listens with respect, that welcomes a diversity of views, and that isn’t afraid to take a moral stand.” “It is only on Shabbat that we call seven aliyot to the bimah. No day sees more aliyot. No day is holier. And the beauty of this tradition is that on our calendar, no holiday is more common.” (Finally we hear something purely Jewish and from Torah, Shabbat, the blessing which Hashem gave the Jewish people, the first people to have a day of rest every week, the weekend is Jewish.) “those who express their faith the way we do: not only through ritual and study, but through tikkun olam and tzedakah, through social justice programs and a Judaism with the courage and backbone to stand up for those who need a voice. For refugees, undocumented immigrants, the LGBTQ community, victims of our criminal justice system, interfaith families, Jews of color – and those of us who reject the false choice between standing against racism and standing beside Israel.” (Here Rabbi Jacobs uses known code words which mean a kind of Judaism somewhat removed from Torah such as, ‘tikkun olam’ which they interpret as save the world through leftist policies, ‘social justice programs,’ ‘refugees, undocumented immigrants’ these are listed together by purpose as the leftists consider them to be one and the same as we saw in the criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his use of the term ‘Infiltrators’ and the intent to deport them where Rabbi Jacobs sees them as refugees who must be absorbed.) “we can make it clear that social justice activism on campus and Jewish life on campus can be one and the same.” “In an age when more and more young people don’t put down deep roots, when more are planning an interfaith or same-sex wedding, but fewer are members of congregations, it’s not always so easy to find a rabbi or a cantor to officiate. All the more reason we should never turn our backs on them.” (Well, we guess that is it for Torah Judaism as we had figured.) “we have to remember that if the Judaism we offer our young people doesn’t speak to the great moral issues of the day, it won’t speak to them.” (That is good, but what forms their relationship to the ‘great moral issues of the day.’)

 

Rabbi Jacobs also believes that the Rabbis in his Reform Judaism organization should perform same-sex marriages as well as inter-faith marriages even with Ministers or Priests co-officiating. He supports strong firearms control, ending hate speech which is code words for speech codes and ending the debate in favor of leftist thought, while claiming unending love and support for Israel he simultaneously has criticized Jerusalem and West Bank policy and settlements while castigating a long list of the current government positions, he suggested that Reform Jews should understand the errors and victims on both sides of the conflict, claims the occupation threatens Zionism, speaks extensively on the rabbinic concept of tikkun loam positing that it means repairing the world, and finally Rabbi Jacobs would fit in the opposition of the Israeli government as he was quoted stating that “many Jews, especially younger ones, feel that Israel has become too intolerant not just of Arab citizens of Israel, but also of non-Orthodox Jews, Ethiopian Jews, LGBT,” while expressing concern over “the weakening of democratic institutions like the Supreme Court as a result of constant attacks by the ultra-Orthodox and far right.

 

He speaks regularly and strongly demanding Israel change the Rabbinate such that it become more like his North America Reform Movement and accept the leftist agenda he near constantly harangues Israeli Orthodoxy as being closed minded and disconnected from the major form of Judaism, Reform Judaism. He demands Israel allow civil marriages and supports the problematic Supreme Court which had believed that they had the last say in every and anything in Israeli society to the point the Justices had been negating laws passed by the Knesset while writing new laws themselves and even countermanded orders given by IDF commanders during the last Gaza War. This was fine for Rabbi Jacobs and the restraining of the out of control court he calls destruction of Israeli democracy. How ending a dictatorial Supreme Court is ending democracy befuddles us. He believes that Israel is supposed to bend to the United States and because Reform Judaism is the most populous form of Judaism in the United States, Israel must change to match the United States. This is a problem here in Israel as well as the opposition parties also demand that Israel bend to the will of the Reform Jews in the United States, adopt the policies of the Democrat Party, and allow the left to rule. Rabbi Jacobs also would support having the United States to follow the leftist political wagon and allow the Democrat Party to rule unopposed in order to enact what he believes is the only means for society to survive. In Israel and in the United States the leftists are pushing for allowing anybody who crosses the border to stay and to be granted citizenship, the illegal immigrants in the United States and the African Infiltrators in Israel. They want secular marriages without restriction such that same-sex marriages are performed, inter-faith marriages are permitted, and both are permitted be treated as Jewish. They call for women to have full equality but not just under the law, in employment, within social fabric but also within religion such that women are permitted to be ordained as Rabbis, women conduct themselves as men in services with wearing of Tefillin, carry the Torah, read Torah as part of services and use blessings which are normally reserved for men only.

 

Both groups demand that there be an area at the Western Wall reserved for couples as well as Reform and other non-Orthodox services and even when an area was made available at a secondary location relatively close to the main wall it was hardly ever visited despite being made alternative Judaism friendly. The claim was it was not the same and they demand that they be placed at the main area visible to all which would greatly distress the Orthodox Jews praying there, but that is the main objective though it remains unstated. Rabbi Jacobs and his allies in the United States along with the leftists in the opposition in Israel both are demanding the same rights, that their side is permitted to decide all items politically, civilly, culturally, domestically, socially and in every sector and region of daily life even to include religiously. Their belief is that the leftists are the sole authorities and all of people’s lives must be turned over to their discretion with any dissenting concepts are to be automatically rejected. This is what the governing leaders of both nations, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, are facing with a general dissent which is unrelenting and hate-filled spread all over social media and in general demonstrations occurring weekly or more often. This is a situation which could be very dangerous in two of the seemingly central democracies, Israel in the entire Middle East and the United States as the world leader.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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