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Hanukkah 2018: Conquering the Darkness

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 04:06

(Credit: Feintooner)

Understanding the Danger of Hezbollah on Israel’s Lebanon Border

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 03:41

Israel’s military destroyed a series of attack tunnels built by Hezbollah in Lebanon, which stretch into Israeli territory. Hezbollah is the military proxy of Iran — and one of the strongest military forces in the region. Now, analysts and military planners are debating what will happen next. It is imperative to understand the inherent danger of Hezbollah on Israel’s Lebanon border.

Modern-Day Maccabees and Miracles in the Biblical Heartland

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 03:25

It was around midnight in June 2015, when I received one of the most dreaded phone calls. I was in bed waiting for my husband to return home from another one of his Binyamin League basketball games, when a neighbor called: “There’s been another shooting on the road, your husband is OK, but his cell has no service,” she said.

My mind starts racing and my heart starts pounding.

There were two full cars of guys simply driving home from a basketball game that night. My husband, Benji, born and raised in New York, was one of the drivers. His car was less than one kilometer behind the car that was shot at by terrorists.

Nineteen deadly bullets pierced the first car that night and all four passengers were hit.

This all happened right near the Baal Hatzor Mountain, where Yehuda the Maccabee fought the last battle against the Greeks in the first century BCE – the Hanukkah story – and where God told Abraham, “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever” (Genesis 13:14-15).

Security volunteers from the nearby settlements raced over and started treating the wounded, including A.Y. Katsof, the director of The Heart of Israel.

Katsof recalled looking for the terrorist with his flashlight mounted on his M16, his heart beating fast, knowing that at any minute he could be the next one to be shot.

He then heard people by a car screaming that there was a drive-by shooting, they shot and drove away. He ran toward the injured people and tried to stop the bleeding. A military ambulance came and a few minutes later a helicopter flew overhead. But they had not yet received permission to land because they were worried that the terrorists were still in the area and would shoot at the helicopter.

Malachi Rosenfeld, 25, was among the severely wounded. When the medics finally got him into the ambulance, it took a long hour for the ambulance to get to the nearest hospital. By that time, he had already lost too much blood. Rosenfeld died in the hospital.

“We can’t know what would have happened if things were different,” Katsof said. “But we know that if we had an emergency trauma room closer by, Malachi would have had a better chance. In a lot of similar cases, we know this is the case, too.”

Miraculously, my husband came home to me with a bag of bloody jerseys. Sara and Eliezer Rosenfeld, Malachi’s parents, left their home and ran to the hospital hoping for the miracle they never received.

Thousands of people came to Rosenfeld’s funeral in Kochav Hashachar, a community in the heart of Israel where the Rosenfelds live. Everyone spoke about how their son was always helping other people and how much he loved to play basketball.

No one could hold back tears as Eliezer Rosenfeld gripped his two remaining sons and began to sing.

Through his tears and choked voice, we all heard him sing the soulful song written by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810), “V’afilu B’hastara.” The translation of the song is, “Even in the most concealed​​ of concealed​​ places, certainly​ He of the Blessed name is also found there. I stand with you, even through the hard times that befall upon you.”

Family and friends began to join in. We all felt their painful loss, but even there at the funeral we could see this powerful, unbreakable family embodying the full essence of true and pure faith.

That song is exactly what the holiday of Hanukkah comes to teach us: That even when God seems to be hidden, in those tragic times, He is still there with us, always.

This week, we light candles to commemorate the victory of the war between the Maccabees and the Greeks, and the miracle of finding one tiny, unopened jar of pure oil that miraculously lasted for eight days. In both cases, all seemed hopeless and lost. The holy Temple had been desecrated, but the Maccabees did not give up hope.

The Rosenfelds are modern-day Maccabees, with their unbreakable spirit and unwavering faith, even in the dark times. Rather than wallow in pain, they are taking action to prevent a tragedy like the one that befell their precious son and family to befall others. The Rosenfelds are at the forefront of a new project to build an emergency trauma room in the biblical heartland.

World Needs More Florence Nightingales to Cope with Ageing

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 03:05

Nurses around the world will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth in May 2020. The British woman – known as the Lady with the Lamp – is regarded as the founder of modern nursing.

With people around the world living longer but nevertheless suffering from a wide variety of chronic disease and needing expert medical care, we need a lot more like her. The World Health Organization (WHO) is currently holding the “Nursing Now’ campaign that will run to the end of 2020 to encourage more women – and men – to go into the nursing profession.

She was born in Florence, Italy (hence, her given name) and was an excellent student, urged to succeed by her father. Nightingale became a social reformer, statistician and the foundational philosopher of modern nursing. She continued working until her death in 1910 in London.

Put in charge of nursing British and allied soldiers in Turkey during the Crimean War (1853-6), she devoted herself to patients in the wards, making round also at night with her lamp. She established formal nursing education by setting up the first scientifically based nursing school – the Nightingale School of Nursing at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London when she was 40 years old. She also trained midwives to attend women in childbirth.

A devout liberal Unitarian Christian, she took comfort in her faith and as a teen, she experienced one of several “calls from God” to alleviate human suffering. Ironically, her family did not approve at first of her going into nursing because it was regarded then as a job for men or women from low social classes. But she managed despite their opposition to enroll at Germany’s Institution of Protestant Deaconesses where she learned elementary nursing skills. She went on to train nurses at London’s King’s College Hospital.

It was the Crimean war – when the Ottoman Empire declared war on Russia following a number of disputes over holy places in Jerusalem – that changed her life. While most of the battles were in Russia, British hospitals were mostly in Constantinople (Istanbul), where sanitary conditions were horrible and described as the “Kingdom of Hell.” Nightingale was determined to clean the hospital wards, clean up and feed wounded soldiers properly and establish nursing care standards, thereby reducing the death rate significantly.

Nursing Now is the WHO’s three-year global campaign run in collaboration with the International Council of Nurses by a board made of professionals from 16 countries.

Obviously, there are many more nurses than physicians; doctors do not have such close connections with patients and may not even be able to match their faces with their names. Nurses are at the heart of most health teams, playing a crucial role in treatment in community clinics and medical centers, health promotion and disease prevention. Nurses also have a major role in developing new models of community-based care and supporting local efforts to promote health and prevent disease.

Nursing Now is based on the findings of the Triple Impact report released by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health in the UK for raising the profile of nursing globally and enabling nurses to work to their full potential.

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The report called for raising the number of nurses worldwide and raising the level of the profession, promoting gender equality and supporting economic growth. The authors stressed that investing funds in the health professionals promotes economic growth and argued that employment of more nurses generate many benefits.

The changing needs of the 21st century have given nurses an even greater role to play in the future. New and innovative types of services are needed – more community and home-based, more holistic and people-centered, with increased focus on prevention and making better use of technology. These are all areas where nurses can play a leading role. However, maximizing nurses’ contributions will require that they are properly deployed, valued and included in policy and decision-making.

Nursing Now will work with partners around the world to advocate for more nurses in leadership positions – to help nurses achieve the influence they deserve. It will also help nurses access better education and training, while supporting them to share research and evidence of effective practice.

It will also encourage health leaders to invest in nursing and introduce new models of care that maximize nurses’ contributions to achieving Universal Health Coverage, which would guarantee everyone the right to quality health care without financial hardship.

Thus nursing is no longer emptying out bedpans and bathing patients. Auxiliary workers with much less training do that. Nursing students learn to operate sophisticated electronic equipment and offer complicated treatments hand-in-hand with doctors. There are also nurse practitioners (NPOs) – advanced practice registered nurses who have additional responsibilities for administering patient care than registered nurses. They can prescribe medication, examine patients, diagnose illnesses and provide certain treatments, much like physicians do.

Israel is one of the countries that has joined the Nursing Now campaign. Although it has a relatively young population compared to all European countries, its longevity rates almost have produced an ageing population. The Health Ministry held a festive launch of the campaign to encourage young people to go into nursing. It also aims to expand nurses’ influence on the healthcare system for the benefit of the population. The campaign will raise the profile of nurses, promote international research collaboration on nursing research and creating a network of nursing leaders that will bring change.

More than two decades ago, there were a number of strikes and other protests by Israeli nurses who demanded better salaries, more manpower slots and better advanced training. To a large extent, these goals have been met, and there has been no labor unrest in recent years. Almost all nursing schools are academic, leading to a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and many graduate programs are available. Women and men with academic degrees in other fields from biology to political science are being encouraged to study for two years to become registered nurses.

As a country of Jewish immigration, Israel is also encouraging would-be immigrants who are already nurses to come and pursue their profession here. Licensing exams are given in various languages to help them show their level of skills and knowledge.

ICC Judges’ Bias Against Israel

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 02:00

A year ago, on December 1, 2017, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Fatou Bensouda, decided to close the “Marmara case.” This is the same old story from 2010, in which Israeli forces commandeered a flotilla, led by the Mavi Marmara, on its way to Gaza. Nine activists were killed during the takeover.

Following the incident, a number of investigation committees were established, most prominently that of the UN Security Council, led by former Prime Minister of New Zealand Jeffrey Palmer. The Palmer Committee determined that Israel used excessive force, but that the blockade itself was legal. Following that conclusion, Bensouda decided to close the case in 2014.

In 2015, a committee of three ICC justices demanded the case be reopened. Bensouda appealed the decision. After her appeal was rejected, she again investigated and again decided to close the case.

But last week, a panel of judges ordered the prosecutor to open an investigation, in order to file a claim against Israel. The authority to file a claim, it should be noted, is that of the prosecutor alone. Thus, for years the prosecutor has ruled that there are no grounds for an investigation, and various panels of judges insist on having one anyway.

That Gaza flotilla was an initiative by IHH, a Turkish-Islamic organization. Even before the flotilla set sail, European intelligence sources noted that IHH was linked to the global Jihad movement, including al-Qaeda. The European Union’s delegate to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, Jean-Louis Burgier, affirmed that IHH is connected to the global terrorist network.

When members of the organization were aboard the Mavi Marmara on their way to Gaza, they chanted the song of annihilation, “Khaybar Khaybar, ya Yahud, Jaish Muhammad, sa Yahud” (“Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, Mohammed’s army will return” is a thinly disguised call to murder Jews, referring to a battle in Khaybar when Mohammed slaughtered scores of Jews).

One of the flotilla’s prominent members was Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, who energized the participants with hate speech. Like other members of the global Jihad, IHH members made it clear, even before the incident, that they were destined to be martyrs. Of the 500 participants in the flotilla, 40 were members of the IHH and of the nine killed, eight were IHH members.

A few months after they returned to Turkey, members of IHH traveled to Tehran to meet their ally, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then president of Iran. Saleh Ozer, the organization’s leader, declared: “We are here today with the yearning and determination to build a Middle East without Israel and America.” Similar statements were made by IHH leaders later on.

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All this information, and probably additional information, was available to Bensouda. One cannot “accuse” her of being overly sympathetic to Israel, but she understood that this was a planned provocation by a terrorist organization that forged an alliance with “progressive forces”—the red-green alliance of jihadists and the radical left, whose only common denominator is anti-Semitism.

Considering these facts, an investigation should have been launched against Turkey, which sponsored the flotilla and the IHH, and encouraged and equipped them. In the struggle between Jihad and its supporters and a free country, the West was supposed to side with the latter.

But presumptions go through a dangerous change when it comes to Israel. It is fighting an organization that is recognized as a terrorist organization, whose members declare in advance their desire to become martyrs, an anti-Semitic ideology dominated the deck, but wonder of wonders—the ICC court’s judges repeatedly demand an indictment against Israel.

During the last round of discussions at the UN General Assembly, various committees submitted nine condemnations of Israel—and not even one proposal against any other country in the world. This is a shameful extension of the obsessive bias against Israel. These organizations have an automatic majority against Israel, but what about the judges?!

In the United States, a bipartisan majority in Congress passed the “Hague Invasion Act,” which states that if there is an attempt to arrest an American soldier or an American citizen for prosecution, the United States will invade The Hague in order to release the detainee, which sounds like a strange law. But reality, it turns out, is even stranger.

Reprinted with author’s permission from YNet News

Hanukkah is Not Just a Festival of Lights, but a Festival of Miracles

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 01:00

Jewish survival from ancient times through today is a miracle.

From the time of the 10 plagues in Egypt and the splitting of the Red Sea, to the recent attack by Hamas on Israel – in which the terror group fired more than 500 rockets into tiny Israel with only one Israeli fatality – each one is a miracle.

This year, Jews around the world will celebrate Hanukkah from Sunday at sundown until Dec. 10 at sundown. While the holiday is widely known as the Festival of Lights, it is really the Festival of Miracles. During these eight days, we acknowledge God’s supernatural role in our lives and in the world.

Many people assume that the gift-giving holidays of Hanukkah and Christmas are similar. True, Hanukkah starts on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev and Christmas on the 25th of December, but the similarities between these two holidays start and end there.

While Christmas marks the birth of Jesus, Hanukkah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks and the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem.

To appreciate Hanukkah, a little history is in order:

When King Antiochus IV of Greece reigned over Jerusalem (215 to 174 BCE) he was brutal and barbarous. To unify his empire, he forced the people to renounce their religions and abandon their cultures.

Specifically, the king sought to eradicate anything having to do with the Jewish faith. Shabbat observance, Torah study and keeping kosher were forbidden under penalty of death. The wicked king even removed the Jewish high priest from his post and defiled the holy Temple with Greek idols.

However, a small and greatly outnumbered group of Jews – followers of the righteous Matityahu and his sons, including Simon the Wise and Judah the Strong – united in a fight against the Greeks and in defense of God’s Torah.

Judah was called a Maccabee. The word is an acronym for the Hebrew words Mi Kamocha Ba’eilim Hashem – “Who is like you, O God” – because Judah was committed to fighting to the death out of faith in and love of God.

When King Antiochus learned about the Maccabees, he sent a large military force to wipe them out. Though the king’s army vastly outnumbered the Maccabees in numbers and weapons, with God’s help the small group of Maccabees defeated their powerful adversary and returned to Jerusalem to liberate it.

The Maccabees entered the Temple and cleared it of idols and built a new altar, which was dedicated on the 25th of Kislev in the year 139 BCE.

However, the Maccabees found only enough holy oil to rekindle the golden menorah in the center of the Temple for one day. By a miracle of God that oil burned for eight days.

As such, at the heart of the modern Festival of Lights is the eight-night candle-lighting ceremony, during which Jews recite special blessings. In addition, we add the Hallel prayer and Al HaNissim both in our daily worship and during the recitation of Grace after Meals. This prayer offers thanks to God for “delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few and the wicked into the hands of the righteous.”

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This year, Jews around the world will celebrate Hanukkah from Sunday at sundown until Dec. 10 at sundown. While the holiday is widely known as the Festival of Lights, it is really the Festival of Miracles.

Indeed, the modern return of the people of Israel to the Land of Israel was also a victory of a few over many. And, like the ancient battle against the Greeks, the Israeli army has experienced many great miracles.

Take Israel’s War of Independence. On May 4, 1948, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion declared independence and the modern state of Israel. Then, just 12 hours after declaring independence, eight Arab armies attacked the infant Jewish nation. But little Israel, with only a small amount of weapons, fought and won.

In 1967, against seemingly insurmountable opposition, Israel likewise won in battle, tripling its territory and reuniting Jerusalem under the Israeli flag – for the first time since the Maccabees controlled the city – in the miraculous Six-Day War.

It’s no exaggeration that the very existence of Israel, a tiny Jewish state surrounded by neighbors intent on our destruction, is a miracle. Jewish people are in Israel because of God, who has always had a plan for His land and His people.

And the miracles continue.

Today the Jews have returned to their ancient and everlasting homeland. The once desolate land is fertile and green again, and Israel, the stalwart of democracy in the Middle East, is a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship.

It’s no wonder former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion used to say, “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.”

Reprinted with author’s permission from Fox News

The Jewish Struggle From Time Immemorial

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 00:00

Jew hatred is having a revival in the West. The honeymoon period, a one or two generation hiatus in antisemitism following the Holocaust, is over. Jews, perhaps more successful and noticeable than ever before, seem to be (at least in the popular view) running everything. Add to that the effective, ubiquitous antisemitic propaganda that Islam (especially the Palestinian Arabs) promulgates non-stop. The result: disparagement of Israel as an apartheid state, and hatred of Jews as militant occupiers of so-called Arab land.

Jews are an ancient people, who have always been relatively small in numbers but large in influence. Indeed, a recent poll found that nearly a quarter of Europeans believe Jews have too much global influence and that Israel (and Jews) are aggressors. For this and other reasons, Jews have been hated and vilified through the ages, despite the fact that the foundational beliefs of Judaism are the bedrock of Western values.

The recent Torah portion (parsha) Vayishlach relates the continuing story of Jacob, the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham. Jacob (Yaacov) means “heel” in Hebrew, because he was born into this world clutching the heel of his first born, twin brother Esau. And at times, Jacob acts like a heel.

Jacob was a mild, contemplative, “smooth” man, preferring his mother Rebecca’s tent to the outdoors. Esau was the opposite, ruddy and rough, given to hunting and living in the moment. After Jacob cheated his brother of the honor of receiving their father’s blessing, he ran away, fearing Esau’s wrath. Jacob stayed for many years at his uncle Laban’s house, where he married two wives (+ 2 concubines), but eventually he and his household returned to his birth place, despite Jacob’s fear of Esau’s wrath.

The Torah portion (from Genesis 32) says: [One night during the journey home] Jacob was left alone, and a man [or an angel] wrestled with him until the break of dawn. When the man saw that he could not prevail against Jacob, he dislocated Jacob’s hip socket. And the man said, “Let me go, for dawn is breaking,” but Jacob answered, “I will not let you go unless you have blessed me.” The blessing: “No longer will your name be said to be Jacob, but Israel, for you have exercised mastery with the divine and with men, and you have prevailed.” From then on, Jacob became known as Israel, which means “he who prevails over the Divine.” (If indeed the “man” was an angel, he was a messenger of God.)

Jacob’s struggle was both internal and eternal. His descendants, the Jews, share that struggle, most evident in the millennia-long struggle against those who rise up against them, with arms or more subtly with hatred and prejudice. These battles have included being expelled from the Land of Israel by the Greeks, expelled from our eternal capital Jerusalem by the Romans, murdered by Muslim invaders, then Crusaders, then again by Muslims, then pursued by the Inquisition for our religion, numerous pogroms, all culminating in the slaughter of 6 million by the Nazis and their allies.

In the 15th century, Jews and crypto-Jews found a haven in the New World, especially around the Caribbean Sea. The independence of the United States provided the safest haven of all, as exemplified by President George Washington’s letter (1790) to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, RI, which stated in part: “May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

Unfortunately, Jews are still being made to feel afraid, even in the United States. The recent massacre in a Pittsburgh synagogue was a rude awakening to many, Jews and Christians, that antisemitism is as virulent in America as in Europe and the Middle East, if not as deadly (yet?).

There’s much for American Jews to be concerned about, from all sides. There’s the garden variety antisemitism, which is always nasty, but sometimes just snide. This was the case when the excellent film, A Gentleman’s Agreement, was made in 1954. It tells the story of a reporter (played by Gregory Peck) who pretends to be Jewish in order to write a story on antisemitism.  He quickly discovers the true depths of bigotry and hatred that he didn’t know existed.

Then there’s blatant right wing antisemites (neo-Nazis, KKK, white supremacists, etc.) who hate Jews, Catholics, Blacks, Hispanics, and anyone not like them. These antisemites are dangerous, but not insidious, because they wear their hatred on their sleeves for all to see.

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Those right wing groups are not likely to influence college kids. But they are being brainwashed by progressive left movements such as BDS (boycott, divestment, sanction), JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace), If Not Now, Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine (CJPIP), American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), American Muslims for Palestine, Code Pink, National Students for Justice in Palestine, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights … and more.

American Jews, face it: the fastest growing and most insidious antisemites are on the far left, and probably are quite common at the college which your children or grandchildren attend. These groups, especially the more virulent Jewish ones like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and If Not Now, influence Jewish students to hate Israel and by extension, to hate being Jews. Less virulent ones like Open Hillel and J Street use more subtle strategies to undermine admiration for Israel. Then there are the professors for whom universalism is the goal and Jews an undesirable tribe.

There has been a shift in antisemitism from hatred of Jews to hatred of Israel. In fact, Israel is identified as the “Jew” of nations. The “kosher” anti-Zionism is just a more fashionable kind of Jew-hatred, because of the connection between Jews and Israel. If the idea is to make American and Canadian Jews ashamed of the Jewish country, and by extension, of their Jewish heritage, it is working.

American Jews aren’t used to struggling. Like Jacob, they prefer to stay safely in the “tent,” passively hoping to blend into America’s mainstream. But also like Jacob, Jews must struggle to survive. When Jewish students are confronted by pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel demonstrators, many will back off rather than stand up against it. Their parents, in many cases, have compartmentalized their Judaism to a few synagogue visits per year or membership in a health club at a Jewish Community Center. Also, many Jewish families have no Jewish connections, making it very easy for their children to disassociate themselves from their heritage rather than champion it.

Jews are destined to be a unique people. Many of them fall away because they don’t perceive that its price is worth the rewards, but a core group of Jews will endure and continue our very worthy traditions.


Tue, 12/04/2018 - 09:55

The Land of Israel is described here as ‘fair’ or ‘beautiful,’ in Hebrew tzvi (צבי). The word tzvi also means ‘deer,’ which prompts the Talmud (Ketubot 112a) to compare the Land of Israel to the skin of a deer (see also Daniel 11:16 where the Land of Israel is referred to as eretz ha-tzvi, ‘the beautiful land’). Just as deerskin stretches to fit over the body of the deer but shrinks when removed, so do the physical borders of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) stretch to fit its Jewish inhabitants, but shrink when they are exiled from the land. Perhaps a deeper message can be applied for Israel’s inhabitants as well. Unlike other places in the world, the inhabitants of Israel must “stretch” themselves morally and spiritually to appreciate the holiness of the Land of the Deer, “the fairest of all lands.”

IDF Uncovers Hezbollah Attack Tunnels Penetrating Into Israel

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 09:05

The IDF announced on Tuesday that it is setting out to neutralize another threat to Israel’s existence: Hezbollah terror tunnels dug into the solid rock that separates northern Israel from Lebanon.

Dubbed Operation Northern Shield, the IDF began the process near the town of Metulla. The goal of the operation is to neutralize the plan that Hezbollah calls “Conquering the Galilee,” a plan that would coordinate massive barrages of hundreds of missiles with border infiltrations carried out by 5,000 specially-trained Hezbollah terrorists.

BREAKING: We have just launched Operation Northern Shield to expose and neutralize cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah from #Lebanon to #Israel. #NorthernShield

— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) December 4, 2018

IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told the media that several of the tunnels had penetrated into Israeli territory and that the IDF was working to destroy them, emphasizing that the tunnels “are not yet operationally ready” and therefore did not pose an “immediate threat.”

One tunnel was described as being 80 feet underground, six feet wide, six feet tall, and penetrating 130 feet into Israeli territory. The tunnel extended from under a home in southern Lebanon, extending 600 feet through solid rock and penetrating into Israel.

80+ft underground
6ft wide
6ft tall
130ft into Israeli territory
This Hezbollah attack tunnel extends from under a home in southern Lebanon, 600+ feet through solid rock and into Israel.
Identified. Exposed.#NorthernShield

— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) December 4, 2018

“We see Hezbollah’s actions as a flagrant and blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty,” Conricus said.

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The IDF noted that Hezbollah’s plan was in direct violation of UN Resolution 1701 that was set up to resolve the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. The resolution established the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, implying Hezbollah. On the same day the resolution passed, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that his militia would honor the call for a ceasefire. Nasrallah also said that once the Israeli offensive stops, Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on Israel would stop.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forthright in his praise of the IDF and the necessity of the operation.

“This morning the IDF began Operation Northern Shield, the goal of which is to uncover and neutralize terrorist tunnels from Lebanon,” he said. “We are proud of the fighters and commanders of the IDF for the complex actions and operational successes already in the early stages of the operation. Whoever tries to attack the State of Israel – will pay a heavy price,” he added.

The IDF spokesperson accused Iran of providing the funding and support for Hezbollah’s tunnel program. The IDF encountered Hezbollah tunnels inside Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, though they were used for defensive purposes. Hezbollah was founded in 1982 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards but has become much stronger since the conflict with Israel.

The IDF’s Arabic language spokesman issued a warning to the Lebanese via Twitter to stay away from the tunnels.

Operation Northern Shield began in the wake of a massive air attack allegedly carried out by the IDF against Iran and Hezbollah military sites inside Syria. Israel has admitted to attacking convoys and warehouses of missiles in Syria en route to Hezbollah. It is now assumed that Iran has turned to shipping military supplies directly to Hezbollah via commercial airliners.

Is the Ark of the Covenant in Africa or Is It an Anti-Semitic Hoax?

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 07:23

A theory claiming the Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia has resurfaced. The theory is unproven and seems to be based more in its author’s personal agenda, deep within Replacement Theology rather than archaeology and fact.

Bob Cornuke, a former police investigator, and author of Cornuke theorized in his book In Search of the Ark of the Covenant that around 701 BCE, during the reign of King Manasseh, the Ark was taken from Solomon’s Temple and carried away to Elephantine Island in Egypt. Cornuke points to ruins of a temple that according to his claims, matches the dimensions of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem. Cornuke believes this was an emergency temple built to house the Ark. The Egyptian temple was destroyed in 410 BCE, at which point Cornuke believes the Ark was moved to Ethiopia.

Cornuke and his team from Bible Archaeology, Search & Exploration (BASE) Institute went to Africa to investigate his theory. Cornuke spoke to Ethiopian Christian monks who showed his team artifacts they claimed were from Solomon’s temple. Cornuke surmises the Ark is currently in Axum in northern Ethiopian in the centuries-old St. Mary of Zion Church. The neighboring Chapel of the Tablet is said to contain the Ark. Only one person, appointed as the Guardian, may enter the building and look at the Ark. The Guardian, as his title implies, must protect the Ark and is prohibited from leaving the grounds.

“I was able to speak, through an interpreter, with the Guardian of the Ark, who told me that no other man besides himself could lay eyes on the Ark, that it was an absolutely holy object,” Cornuke wrote about the expedition. “He said that the world would not be allowed to pollute it by looking at it. He added that he and the villagers would protect the Ark with their lives, if necessary.”

Cornuke spoke with a 105-year-old priest who once was the Administrator at St. Mary’s of Zion who claimed he was allowed to see the Ark during a transition period after the death of a previous Guardian and described it as “a gold box with two winged angels on top.”

Cornuke admitted that there was no proof the Ark was in Axum.

“At this juncture, we cannot say with certainty that it is, but neither can we say for certain that it isn’t,” Cornuke wrote. “What we have concluded is that St. Mary’s of Zion church in Axum, Ethiopia, is the resting place either of an incredible replica of the biblical Ark of the Covenant, or, of the actual Ark of the Covenant itself.”

It should be noted that Cornuke describes himself as a Biblical archaeologist, but has no degree or training in archaeology. Cornuke has, in the past, claimed to have found Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia, anchors from the shipwreck of the Christian Apostle Paul in waters near Malta, and Noah’s Ark in Iran. None of these claims have been confirmed by independent researchers outside of his organization.

Cornuke also claims that both Jewish Temples stood to the south of the Temple Mount in an area archaeologists have identified as the City of David. His claims in this regard contradict every piece of archaeological evidence found to date.

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Harry Moskoff, a writer/journalist and investigative archaeologist, disagrees with Cornuke’s theory. In his book, The Ark Report: The Ark of the Covenant and the Tunnels of Israel, Moskoff discusses his theory of the ark’s location based research as well as ancient Jewish sources.

“The Ark is where it has always been for the past 2,700 years; in a sealed room under the Temple Mount, told Breaking Israel News. “The Talmud states this explicitly in several places. There are about 50 tunnels under the Temple Mount that were mapped out about 150 years ago by Sir Charles Warren but never fully explored. Maimonides describes the Ark as being about 45 feet underground at the end of several mazes.”

“Jewish sources state that King Hosea hid the Ark 37 years before the destruction of the First Temple, Moskoff said. “Jerusalem was not even being threatened but he did so out of divine guidance. Based on my sources, I believe it is directly below where the Holy of Holies was. They needed the Ark in order to do the Temple service but they also needed to hide it. Since it was in the same place just buried.”

Moskoff emphasized that the history of the Temple is well-documented in Jewish sources and there are no claims that the Ark, the central feature of the Temple, ever left Jerusalem.

“Persian King Cyrus listed everything taken from the First Temple and the Ark was not on the list,” Moskoff said. “Even when Ezra and Nehemiah built the Second Temple they couldn’t find the Ark. The Talmud states that there were five things from the First Temple that were missing from the Second Temple, and the Ark was one of those things. The Holy of Holies was completely empty.”

Moskoff noted that there have been attempts to search for the Ark.

“When the Knights Templar controlled the Temple Mount during the Crusades, they searched for it but never found it,” Moskoff said. “Rome carried away many Temple items, some of which are believed to still be in the Vatican, but the Ark was not one of them.”

“There is a theory that the Pharaoh Shishak took away the Ark when he sacked the Temple in the 10th Century BCE,” he said, citing the Biblical source.

In the fifth year of King Rechavam (Rehoboam), King Shishak of Egypt marched against Yerushalayim. 26  and carried off the treasures of the House of Hashem and the treasures of the royal palace. He carried off everything; he even carried off all the golden shields that Shlomo had made. I Kings 14:25-26

“But it is clear that the ark was not taken away at this time. We have many accounts of the Ark being in the Temple after that so the Ark was not taken away,” Moskoff said. “And if it was, it clearly would have been mentioned in the Biblical account.”

Moskoff suggested that the church in Ethiopia may contain an artifact though not the Ark of the Covenant containing the stone tablets given to Moses on Mount Sinai.

“The Talmud says that duplicates of many of the Temple utensils were made in case they became ritually impure,” Moskoff said. “Though it is not mentioned explicitly and it is highly unlikely, it could be that a duplicate Ark was made and that is what is in Ethiopia. We also know that the Egyptians made things resembling the Ark of the Covenant. There might be something in Ethiopia but it is certainly not the Ark of the Covenant.”

Moskoff believes the motives behind Cornuke’s theory is based in Replacement Theology much more than a historical curiosity.

“This is Replacement Theology with a pretty cover story that really makes no sense,” Moskoff said. “The Arabs and anyone who does not want the Temple to be rebuilt try very hard to put as much distance between the Jews and the Temple Mount as possible, even going as far as to contradicting archaeological evidence and historical accounts. It is based in theology but has real-world anti-Israel political implications.”

Moskoff’s theory and search for the ark are based in facts and research but his motives are religious.

“The Ark is what brings the Shechina to the Temple Mount,” Moskoff said. “Without the Ark, the Temple Mount is not holy; not to the Jews and not to anyone.”

Six13 – Bohemian Chanukah (a Queen Adaptation)

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 06:16

Is this just fantasy? No, it’s our Hanukkah tribute to one of the greatest and most epic songs of all time. Ready, Freddie? Kindle the lights, remember the Maccabees, and rock on. CHAG SAMEACH!

Rare Chanukiyot Exhibition at Israel Museum Reflects Jewish Historical Journey

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 05:49

This Chanukah (the Jewish Festival of Lights), the Israel Museum displays 150 of its collection of 1,000 chanukiot – the largest collection of its kind in the world. The Chanukah menorahs, exhibited in the museum’s Jewish Art and Culture Wing, include pieces from an array of ancient Jewish diaspora communities in Spain, Morocco, Italy, Germany, Austria, France, Holland, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Algeria, Tunisia, Russia and Ukraine.


While it is unclear how long Jews have been celebrating with the tradition of lighting candles, archaeologists have found clay chanukiot dating back to the beginning of the Middle Ages. The oldest chanukiah in the collection dates back to the first century.

Mirroring the immigrants themselves who gathered in Israel as a part of the process of kibbutz galuyot (ingathering of the exiles), many brought the artifacts from the four corners of the earth to become part of a collection at the museum. According to senior curator Dr. Rachel Sarfati, the pieces “reflect a historical journey through the Jewish communities that existed in these countries.”

“We can decipher where and when the chanukiot are from based on the motifs designed on the lamps,” she told Breaking Israel News.  Urban landscapes often shaped chanukiah design. For example, a chanukiah with a design similar to a gothic church in Western Europe with horseshoes typical of Islamic art is likely from the Spanish kingdom in the 13-14th century when the architecture featured gothic, Islamic style architecture. A chanukiah on display from Spain resembles the Alhambra palace. Italian chanukiot feature fountains, popular in Italian cities. Chanukiot from Poland resemble wooden synagogues with an entrance, featuring extra branches for Shabbat candles so the menorah could be used year round. Some chanukiot portray a leader from a given chanukiah’s country of origin. “Historical events created value to the Jewish communities,” said Sarfati. “The Jews would express this value through a gesture or homage to their leaders and architecture.”

Based on the shape and design of the chanukiot, one can learn a lot about the relationship between Jews and non-Jews in a given place and time. Where Jews were unpopular, the chanukiot tend to be physically small and were not often placed in windows. Where Jews were well-liked, chanukiot are larger, ornately decorated and were often placed outside on the street. For example, the chanukiot from Jerusalem are box-shaped until today, as Jews would place them outside of their homes in the winter weather.

The most valuable chanukiah in the collection was made in Germany in the 19th century. “In Europe during this time, Jews would commission Christians to make their ritual objects, including silver chanukiot, reflecting both the economic abilities of Jews during this time as well as the close relationship between Jews and Christians in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria and Hungary from the 13th century to the 16th century.”

Now, placing the freestanding chanukiah (as well as chanukiot with dominant backs to reflect the light) in a window is popular around the world, reflecting a “changing situation.” Jews who felt unprotected used to avoid a display of customs in public, maintained Sarfati. Now, she said, Jews around the world have again begun to place chanukiot in windows to publicize the miracle. “Most of the chanukiyot were used by their owners for lighting Chanukah candles at home, while some, primarily the largest ones, were displayed in synagogues and in public spaces.”

The story of Chanukah itself commemorates the miracle of victory and oil the Jews found over two centuries ago in Jerusalem, before the beginning of Christianity. According to a Talmudic legend, Syrian king (Antiochus) made the Jews worship Greek gods and erected a statue of himself in the Second Jewish Temple, ordering them to bow down to it. As the Ten Commandments forbade Jews to worship idols, they refused and the Maccabees rebelled, eventually recapturing Jerusalem from the Syrians. However, the Temple had been destroyed and as they were cleaning and repairing, they rededicated the Temple to God by lighting a lamp (menorah), a symbol of God’s presence. Although just one small jar of oil was found, enough for only one day, the oil miraculously lasted eight days.

As such, many chanukiya artists incorporate into their creations design elements from the Temple and the menorah that stood within it. Biblical motifs often include the branches similar to the lamps used in the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, with the calyx and petal design described in the Bible:

And on the menorah itself there shall be four cups shaped like almond-blossoms, each with calyx and petals” (Exodus 25:34)

German hanukiya with Biblical motifs. (Credit: Israel Museum)

While the Temple menorah has seven branches (and this type of menorah is prohibited to use outside of the Temple) the Chanukah menorah has eight branches, plus a raised shamash light used to kindle the other lights and commemorate the miracle. Other design elements include the face of the Holy Ark, the candle-lighting blessing or words to the traditional song “Hanerot Hallelu” (“These Candles”) and the image of a cohen (priest) lighting the Temple menorah. “All of these Jewish symbols enhance the meaning and celebration of Chanukah,” added Sarfati.

“It’s a spiritual atmosphere in Israel during Chanukah,” she said. “Here in Jerusalem, walking outside, one can see Chanukah lamps on both sides of the streets.” Although diverse, what unites the chanukiot from around the world, Sarfati posed, is their purpose – to observe the same ritual and law of publicizing the miracle that occurred some 2,500 years ago.

US Encourages Europe to Punish Iran for Recent Missile Test

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 05:08

The United States urged Europe on Monday to impose sanctions on Iran following the regime testing a ballistic missile last week.

“We would like to see the European Union [impose] sanctions that target Iran’s missile program,” said Brian Hook, senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State and special envoy for Iran.

Hook addressed the press on his way to a summit of top NATO officials in Brussels.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to meet with leaders from Germany, France and the United Kingdom, all of whom were part of the negotiations behind the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, which the U.S. withdrew from in May.

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“This is a continuing discussion that the secretary has had with his E3 counterparts about Iran’s missile testing and missile proliferation and regional aggression,” said Hook. “I believe that we are making progress toward getting a proposal tabled in Brussels that would designate the individuals and the entities that are facilitating Iran’s missile program.”

“It is a grave and escalating threat, and nations around the world—not just Europe—need to do everything they can to be targeting Iran’s missile program,” he added.

This development comes as Iran test-fired a ballistic missile on Saturday “that is capable of carrying multiple warheads” and “violates U.N. Security Council resolution 2231 that bans Iran from undertaking ‘any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic-missile technology,’ ” Pompeo said that day.

“As we have been warning for some time, Iran’s missile testing and missile proliferation is growing. We are accumulating risk of escalation in the region if we fail to restore deterrence,” he added. “We condemn these activities and call upon Iran to cease immediately all activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

Ultra-Orthodox Jews Willing to Pursue Secular Studies – But at a Price

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 04:47

The most important commandment for the Jewish People besides living in the Land of Israel is the study of Torah. But numerous great sages over the millennia did not confine themselves solely to the Torah. Maimonides was a prominent physician; Hillel was a woodchopper; various Talmudic sages were tailors, farmers, cotton dealers, field laborers, builders, scribes, shoemakers, cattle raisers, silk merchants, beer brewers and even wine smellers.

In the U.S. and elsewhere in the Diaspora, modern Orthodox Jews (men and women) have for many years gone on to higher education and worked in regular jobs and also study Jewish texts in their spare time. Ultra-Orthodox (haredi) Jews abroad have also done this from the 20th century.

But in Israel, partly due to the decimation of haredi Jews in the Holocaust, most ultra-Orthodox men abandoned all secular studies. From childhood, boys are sent to schools that focus almost primarily on religious studies and learned only a bare minimum of arithmetic and Hebrew grammar; forgoing sciences, English and mathematics, not to mention world history, philosophy, music and art.

Very few have studied for a high school matriculation exam – only 13% of boys earning a matriculation certificate compared to 70% for the general population – that would entitle them to college or university. For example, there are very few haredi physicians except those who came from abroad and settled in Israel.

The girls and women, on the other hand, who are not regarded in haredi circles as being bound to study Torah, are able to study secular subjects, but usually at a much lower level than their national religious and secular counterparts. Ultra-Orthodox Israeli women have been educated just enough to provide them with a job so they can support their families in teaching and other low-paid jobs while their husbands study Torah and receive relatively small yeshiva stipends. So about half of haredi families, which include almost seven children on average, are living on or under the poverty level.

When haredi Jews were only a small percentage of the population during the early decades after the establishment of the State of Israel, this did not bother national leaders. But the haredi sector is young; the number of ultra-Orthodox Jews in the country rose last year to one million – about 12% of the Israel population. Approximately 300,000 pupils study in the haredi school system, about 18% of all pupils in the country. There are more than 115,000 ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students over the age of 18, and 65% of them are married.

Israel’s leaders began to worry that in the next generation, there will not be enough working hands to keep the economy going. As it is, women in the growing Arab population are unemployed to the same degree as haredi men. According to predictions by the Israel Democracy Institute, the haredi sector may comprise 16% of the total population by 2030, and 30% of all Israelis and 40% of the Jewish population in 35 years after that. The cabinet even decided last year to allocate at least 7% of all jobs in the public sector to the ultra-Orthodox community, with the aim of increasing employment rates among them.

Numerous haredi men have married American and other foreign haredi brides who are used to a higher standard of living while also valuing Torah study. The women want to enjoy comfortable homes, cars, modern furniture and good food that their Israeli husbands could not provide.

Therefore, many haredi men have been encouraged to study enough secular subjects to qualify for institutes of higher learning and become lawyers, accountants, engineers, nurses and others in well-paying professions. About half of the men are now employed. This has not been encouraged by many ultra-Orthodox rabbis and politicians who prefer to keep the men under their control – and not thinking on their own – in yeshivas.

For decades, haredi Jews have taken advantage of their significant political power while living a segregated lifestyle. The men fight to be exempted from service in the Israel Defense Forces. Ultra-Orthodox politicians insist on financial benefits to the sector and aid to their separate school networks whose curricula are strictly supervised.

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But how will haredi men get a higher education if most of them refuse to sit next to – or even share a campus building – with women?

In an effort to encourage ultra-Orthodox men to go to colleges and universities, the Council for Higher Education (CHE, a supreme body affiliated with the Education Ministry) has decided to permit segregation of the genders if it does not denigrate women and is decided upon voluntarily by the college or university.

Until recently, the CHE said that men and women students may be only in separate classrooms, but now, colleges and universities can hold classes for each gender on different days or have completely separate sections of campuses. The council said that while gender equality “without coercion” was important, their target was getting more haredi Israelis into higher education and employment.

There are several colleges and universities that already boast separate days or hours for men and women, including Bar-Ilan University, the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Ashkelon Academic College, the College of Management and Ono Academic College. The Jerusalem College of Engineering-Lev Academic College has for decades offered separate campuses for men and women to study engineering and other subjects. This arrangement has raised their incomes and increased their student bodies.

But it is feared that as the number of haredi students increases in these institutions, they will demand separation also in cafeterias and other parts of the campuses. This could cause discomfort, inequality and downright discrimination against non-haredi women.  

The backlash has already begun. The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities – the official adviser of the government on all matters of science – has issued a statement opposing the CHE decision on gender separation. Chartered by law in 1961, the academy acts as a national focal point for Israeli scholarship in both the natural sciences and the humanities and is comprised of some 115 of the country’s most distinguished scientists and scholars.

The academy’s council and its former presidents said they “vehemently oppose the CHE’s position that permits the introduction of different study days for men and women on academic campuses, as well as the separation of men and women on campus, provided it is not coercive.”

The CHE’s position, the academy continued, “undermines the foundations on which the Israeli academia is based, and allowing separate space runs against the principle of equality: Women are today a central component of Israeli academic teaching and research, and gender equality in academia has not yet been fully realized,” wrote the academy, whose president is a highly accomplished woman attorney, Prof. Nili Cohen.

“Allowing separate school days and campuses in practice constitutes for the gradual exclusion of women, which harms human dignity and necessarily leads to a decline in the academic level, the quality of teaching and research and the academic functioning of the universities. It will also harm the status of Israeli academia and Israeli science in the world,” they declared.

“The CHE’s current position is a continuation of a previous, narrower decision that permitted separation in the classrooms only, and further illustrates the danger of deterioration,” the academy council continued.

“We support the inclusion of haredi Jews in academia, but we cannot accept the argument that the only way to integrate them must involve sacrificing a fundamental principle on which academia is based. We call upon the CHE to rescind its decision and to continue to act vigorously to realize the principle of gender equality.” The academy also called on the Knesset to halt any legislative process that seeks to legalize gender segregation in academia.

Netanyahu and Bolsonaro: The Start of a Beautiful Friendship?

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 04:04

Israel and Brazil have a lot in common. There is now an opportunity for the relationship between the two countries to flourish. At least that is what Brazil’s newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro is promising. He is staunchly pro-Israel, as are many of his supporters. Is this the start of a beautiful friendship between the two leaders and the two countries?

Do You Know Israel’s Special Ethnic Foods?

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 03:46

Along with the miraculous “ingathering of the exiles” to the Holy Land came an influx of cuisine with varied flavors, textures and styles. Although approximately 75 percent of Israelis ethnically identify themselves as Jewish, they stem from places all over the world.

“Prior to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the Jewish people were dispersed all over the world,” explained Rabbi Shmuel Lipsker, administrator for Colel Chabad, Israel’s longest running charity, to Breaking Israel News. “When the exiled nation returned to their homeland, they brought with them customs and cuisines acquired along their journey.”

Israel now consists of: Ashkenazi Jews, who generally descend from Germany, northern France, America, England and South Africa; Russian Jews, who are ethnically from Eastern Europe; Mizrahi (Eastern) Jews, who are generally from Spain, Portugal, France, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Morocco and Tunisia; Ethiopian Jews, Indian Jews and more.

Though Israel is often viewed as an advanced “start up nation,” there are 1.8 million citizens living under the poverty line, due, in part, to its constant influx of immigrants. Colel Chabad has been feeding and taking care of the Holy Land’s impoverished residents for over 230 years!

As part of Colel Chabad’s Food Security Initiative with Israel’s Ministry of Welfare, the charity organization is doing more than giving food. It is providing struggling families and individuals with a level of dignity, respecting their history and culture by giving ethnically desired food staples.

Recognizing that poverty is difficult in and of itself, the organization, which is always striving to raise the bar on helping those in need, now provides food for the hungry with their unique cultural food preferences in mind.

“For those with exotic taste, Israel is a haven for delicious food from all over the world,” continued Rabbi Lipsker. “Some cultures eat more potatoes and pasta while others eat more beans and rice. Colel Chabad is now giving food baskets to match the clientele we are feeding.”

Colel Chabad’s food packing centers are located in 48 municipalities around Israel. The centers are staffed by volunteers in order to save on overhead costs as well as to offer a charitable outlet to those seeking to help those in need.

Packages of dry goods, fresh vegetables, fruits, and housewares, are included in the tens of thousands of boxes delivered to homes all across Israel each month. The new initiative is carefully designed to not only ensure that poor families have nutritious food, but that the food is also enjoyed by the recipients based on their specific cultural backgrounds.

“Everyday Colel Chabad helps people survive,” shared Rabbi Lipsker. “We know that struggling families skip meals because they cannot afford food. The food we give is literally a life-saver for so many. No family should go hungry.”

Israel’s governmental welfare department is responsible for monitoring who qualifies and receives help. “Israel’s welfare department has an entire staff just checking family income and expenses,” said Rabbi Lipsker. “But, once they get the governmental OK for aid, Colel Chabad steps in and is concerned that every person receives what they need in a satisfying and caring way.”

The flavors and wide variety of food preferences for Israeli citizens is fascinating. For example, descendants from Middle Eastern countries often enjoy couscous, rice, chickpeas, and eggplant. Yemenites enjoy jachnoon, a pastry baked overnight and fenugreek.

Those of Ashkenazi descent might like stuffed cabbage, caramelized and peppery noodle kugel or cholent – a long cooking stew of meat, beans and barley.

With the influx of Jews from Ethiopia, who have limited or no western education, Colel Chabad helps many of these families survive. “We spoke with the Ethiopian community to clarify which products were most needed so that they would not only have the food they were used to but also find it a bit easier to make Israel their home,” noted Rabbi Lipsker.

Colel Chabad is finding that their carefully designed food packages accomplish something more than feeding the hungry. They help people become more self-sufficient.

“When people realize that they are thought about as valuable and respected individuals, their self confidence and desire to succeed increases,” shared Rabbi Lipsker. “That care and concern brings hope and builds the confidence needed to strive for a better life.”

To donate to Colel Chabad, please click here.

Written in cooperation with Colel Chabad.

Batya’s Beauty: In the Shomron, One Artist is Bringing Light into the World

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 03:03

In a small studio on top of “Hill 851,” several kilometers outside of the Jewish community of Itamar in the Shomron, Batya Erdstein is shaping the future.

“I love knowing I am taking the clay – dead and cold, and I am manipulating it and firing it,” Erdstein told Breaking Israel News. “It almost turns alive when it comes out of the kiln, and it makes people happy and brings beauty to the world.”

Through her pottery, she said, “I can imprint my ideas on the world and share the beauty of the Land of Israel, of what is growing outside my windows, according to the seasons and the Jewish holidays.”


For Erdstein, a trained nurse who fell into a career as an artist 10 years ago when her husband purchased her a pottery wheel, ceramics are spiritual and holy.

On a windy afternoon, sitting in her colorful studio high above most of the rest of Israel, Erdstein looked out her windows to the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea and masses of rolling hills and valleys.

“Hashem formed man from the dust of the earth. He blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being,” she said, quoting from Genesis 2:7, which tells the story of how God created people.

Blue cup with leaf stamp. (Courtesy)

“When God created man, he took the earth (adam, in Hebrew) and blew into it a soul,” she said. “When I am working on the wheel, in my own very small way, I am blowing or infusing some type of spirit into the clay. I always try to be conscious of my thoughts when I am on the wheel, and the energy and the hopes that I have for the piece I am creating.

“I try to be conscious that I am doing God’s work, and using this earth, blowing light into it, to make people happy.”

Erdstein, whose first name is translated as “daughter of God,” opened her studio four years ago when her family moved to the hilltop. She said much of her pottery is practical – she likes to creates vases, bowls, plates and candlesticks – but each piece has some spiritual element, as well.

“Whether it is the color that reminds me of the ocean, or the olive tree pressed onto some of the pieces that reminds people of the land of Israel, or the pomegranates that celebrate the Jewish New Year, I want people who buy these products to feel connected to Israel and the Jewish people,” said Erdstein. “I really want them to feel connected to God – that is the ultimate.”



A small serving platter sits by the window. Painted on it are two trees. And on their branches are tiny, colorful birds. It is an image of the prophecies coming alive at her doorstep.

“When I came here, there were no birds,” Erdstein explained. “The wind is so fierce here that few trees could stand. But we started planting. Then, one morning, I thought I heard the song of birds. I looked out my window and they were there, all of a sudden, sitting perched on the trees we had planted.

“I just remember letting out a sigh,” she said. “We are coming back. We are re-awakening God’s land.”

But life for Erdstein has not always been easy.

She grew up in California “like a regular California girl,” with her Yemenite mother and Danish father. At 17, she felt her soul was suffocating. On her own, she decided to explore her Jewish roots in the land of Israel. Within days, she recalled, “I fell in love with Israel and the land.”

Erdstein said she believes that her Jewish forefathers – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – called to her in the States, begged her to “Wake up! This is not what life is about.”

For her first years in Israel, she learned Torah in Jerusalem. Then, she met her soulmate, Baruch (which means blessing in Hebrew), and they married. Today, she is the mother of six children, ages 4 to 22.

The couple spent most of their married life in the mystical city of Safed, until four years ago, Erdstein had another calling. This time, God told her to move to the biblical heartland and build her home and ceramics studio in hills of the Shomron.

“I did not consciously say I want to be here,” said Erdstein. “I feel like God brought me here.”

When she broke ground on her studio, she immediately received a notice from the government to halt, that it would dismantle her building. However, Erdstein and her husband ripped up the notice and continued on.

Pomegranate candle holders (Courtesy)

They likewise started planting trees.

“The climate here is wild,” Erdstein told Breaking Israel News. “There is a fierce wind and it’s cold. The soil is packed with rocks and thorns.”

Erdstein took a permaculture class so she could learn to better utilize the patterns and resilient features observed in the area’s natural ecosystem, rather than fight against it.

“God gave this land to us, and it is not for us to take pictures of its beauty or capture it for the movies,” she said. “We are supposed to connect with it, to get our hands dirty. I am here, taking and using the gift that God gave me.”

She is also helping to protect the State of Israel. She said that by being on this hilltop, the Israeli army has a reason to patrol in her area, giving the army better lookout points and generally increasing security for all residents of the Shomron.

“I am sure out being around has stopped death,” said Erdstein.

Though there have been a number of incidents in her area, including a 2011 terror attack that was so bloody it was later coined the “Itamar massacre.”

Batya Erdstein holds one of her ceramic creations, printed with birds sitting in trees. (Credit: Maayan Hoffman/Breaking Israel News)

On March 11, 2001, an Arab extremist attacked a Jewish family in their home, murdering five members – Ruth Fogel (35), Udi Fogel (36), Hadas (3 months), Yoav (11), Elad (4) – while they were asleep in their beds.

“It can get intense,” said Erdstein. “Sometimes I am scared.”

But she said since moving to the Shomron she lives with purpose.

“We love it and we are willing to work hard to accomplish something big in this time of redemption and this time of the ingathering of the nations back to Israel,” she said. “There is a teaching that the more you give to someone, the more you love them.

“That is how I feel in this place,” she continued, “The more we plant trees, develop the land, tell people about the prophecies being fulfilled here, the more it grows on us. The peace is awesome. It’s beautiful.”

Erdstein hosts groups of tourists in her studio and sells her pottery online. She encourages visitors of all faiths to come and be overwhelmed by God’s Torah and His land. She said the Torah teaches that God will bless those who bless Israel.

“We are here to manifest God’s prophecy of the Jews coming back to the land,” she said. “It is for our children and our grandchildren, but it is also for the children and grandchildren of the whole world.

“This place should be filled with trees, with life,” said Erdstein. “I used to say I would die to live here. Now I say, ‘I live to live here.’”


US Claims it Killed ISIS Commander, Syria Says US Hit its Forces

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 02:00

In a bizarre series of events on Sunday the Syrian regime claimed that the US hit its forces south of Sukhna “The military source said in a statement to SANA: The forces of the ‘International Alliance’ attacked several missiles at around 8:00 pm on some sites of the Syrian Arab Army in Jabal Gharab south of the city of Sukhna in the eastern Homs countryside. The military source pointed out that the damage was limited to material materials.”

Yet the Pentagon said it took out an ISIS commander.

Coalition forces conducted precision strikes against a senior ISIS member, Abu al Umarayn, and several other ISIS members on Dec. 2 in the Badiyah Desert, Syria. Al Umarayn had given indications of posing an imminent threat to Coalition Forces and he was involved in the killing of American Citizen and former U.S. Army Ranger, Peter Kassig.  He has been linked to and directly involved with executing several other prisoners as a senior ISIS member. Coalition  airstrikes continue to disrupt ISIS command and control on the battlefield as we remove key figures from their ranks.

-US Coalition statement

Syrian state media claimed that the US-led Coalition fired missiles at its forces in Homs governorate on Sunday night. The claim comes amid rumors on social media that the Coalition targeted Syrian forces in the desert north of the Coalition-controlled Tanaf Garrison. However, the US said that a Coalition airstrike had killed an Islamic State commander named Abu al-Umarayn in the Syrian desert. He was accused of involvement in the murder of US aid worker Peter Kassig in November 2014.

After 8pm several accounts that follow conflict in Syria claimed that the Syrian regime’s 21st mechanized brigade was struck by 14 rockets. They claimed the rockets had been fired from Tanaf, an area in Syria near where the Jordanian and Iraqi borders meet. According to these reports either the US air force or rockets fired from an M142 HIMARS battery had been used when Syrian regime forces came within 55km of the Coalition garrison in Tanaf. The garrison has been working with anti-ISIS forces for several years but the Syrian regime opposes the US presence. In the past the US has warned pro-Syrian militias from entering the area and has fired at them.

The Syrian SANA state media said that the regime’s forces were struck by “several missiles” in the area south of Sukhna, a town on the road from Palmyra to Deir ez-Zor. The media claimed limited damage had been done. It comes three days after air strikes targeted an area south of Damascus. Syria did not blame any country for the airstrikes on Thursday and sought to downplay their importance.

The US Coalition told CNN and Fox News that a US drone had targeted Al-Umarayn on Sunday. Lucas Tomlinson Fox News Pentagon correspondent reported that Al-Umarayn was involved in the murder of Kassig, a former US Army Ranger who was executed in Syria in 2014 by ISIS.

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The missile strike on Sunday is being blamed on the US by Damascus and if it is confirmed it will be a rare example of the US targeting the Syrian regime. The US assertion that it targeted ISIS would also illustrate an expansion of anti-ISIS strikes into areas controlled by the regime west of the Euphrates. The US and SDF are fighting ISIS in Hajin on the Euphrates river.

In June 2017 the US targeted pro-Syrian regime groups near Tanf. In February of this year US forces in Syria engaged a large column of pro-regime fighters that had crossed the Euphrates and attacked the Syrian Democratic Forces, who are partners of the Coalition in the battle against ISIS. In April the US, UK and France launched airstrikes on Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons.

The decision to strike an ISIS commander in Homs Governorate and in the desert area shows that the US is hunting in a wider range of areas in Syria. For the regime this also means that they want to warn the US against more incursions. But they don’t have a way to prevent them. Oddly the regime claimed the attack on the ISIS commander was actually an attack on its forces. Why they made this claim is unclear.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Seth Frantzman

Switzerland: “Creeping EU Accession”

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 01:00

The EU has now increased the pressure by resorting to blackmail: Brussels is making its recognition of Switzerland’s SIX Swiss Exchange, the fourth-largest stock market in Europe, contingent on Swiss acceptance of the framework agreement.

The measure was opposed by a coalition of Swiss business groups, which convincingly argued that it was a question of economics and access to international markets for the export-dependent country. “Ultimately, it is about maintaining prosperity in Switzerland and keeping the companies and jobs here,” said Monika Rühl, director of the business group Economiesuisse.

“The SVP rejects a one-sided submission to EU institutions, aimed at establishing an institutional connection of Switzerland to the EU apparatus, with a dynamic EU legal takeover and, ultimately, the subordination of Switzerland to the EU Court of Justice. A dynamic adoption of EU law would be another massive erosion of our direct democracy.” — Swiss People’s Party.

(Image source: iStock)

Swiss voters have resoundingly rejected a referendum calling for the Swiss Constitution to take precedence over international treaties and law.

Two-thirds (66.2%) of voters in the November 25 referendum opposed the “self-determination” initiative, put forward by the eurosceptic Swiss People’s Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei, SVP), the largest party in the Swiss parliament.

SVP leaders had argued that the new law was necessary to safeguard national sovereignty from further encroachment by supranational organizations such as the European Union and the United Nations.

The Swiss government countered that the proposal would undermine Switzerland’s economic stability as it would require Bern to amend existing bilateral agreements with the EU, the country’s largest trade partner, to bring them into compliance with the Swiss Constitution.

The proposal’s defeat comes ahead of pending decisions by the Swiss government over whether to sign a wide-ranging EU “framework agreement,” and a controversial UN “migration pact.”

Switzerland is not a member of the EU, but has gained access to the European single market by signing a series of bilateral agreements in which Switzerland has given away large slices of its national sovereignty, including control over boundaries and immigration. In all, Switzerland has more than 120 bilateral agreements that govern its relations with the European Union.

The EU is now pressing Switzerland to sign a comprehensive “framework agreement” that would require Bern to cede even more sovereignty to Brussels. The EU, for instance, wants Switzerland to subject itself to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). If Switzerland complies with the demand, the ECJ would outrank the Swiss Supreme Court as the final arbiter of legal disputes in the country.

The EU has now increased the pressure by resorting to blackmail: Brussels is making its continued recognition of Switzerland’s SIX Swiss Exchange, the fourth-largest stock market in Europe, contingent on Swiss acceptance of the framework agreement. Switzerland’s current stock exchange agreement with the EU expires at the end of December; failure to renew it would deprive the Swiss exchange of EU-based business that generates more than half its volume.

Swiss leaders have said they doubt that any proposed treaty could win the backing of parliament or voters in a referendum under the Swiss system of direct democracy.

Bloomberg News encapsulated the dilemma facing Switzerland:

“The Swiss government now faces the prospect of choosing between two evils: agree to the EU framework deal only to have it torpedoed by voters in a referendum, or renege on the treaty and risk reprisals from Brussels that hurt the economy.”

A key point of contention in Swiss-EU relations revolves around a long-running dispute over the EU’s “Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons.” The agreement, which Switzerland signed in June 1999, allows EU citizens to live and work in Switzerland, and vice versa. The original agreement applied to 15 EU member states, but with the enlargement of the European Union in 2004, 2007 and 2013, the agreement now applies to 28 EU member states, including the poorer countries in Eastern Europe.

In an effort to curb the increasing amount of crime associated with immigration, Swiss voters in November 2010 approved a referendum to deport foreigners who commit serious crimes in Switzerland.

The EU warned that deporting EU citizens for any reason would be a violation of Switzerland’s treaty obligations regarding the free movement of persons. The Swiss parliament, seeking to avoid economic reprisals, eventually passed a watered-down law aimed at reconciling the will of Swiss voters with Switzerland’s obligations under EU law.

SVP MP Adrian Amstutz argued that in its zeal to please the EU, the Swiss parliament’s new deportation law would prove to be worthless in practice:

“According to the parliament’s implementation of the law for the deportation initiative, courts would have the possibility to put aside a deportation — even in the case of the most serious offenses — via the hardship clause. Current legal practices show that judges would frequently make use of this option. As a consequence, hardly any foreign criminals would be deported.”

In February 2014, Swiss voters approved a referendum to reintroduce quotas for immigration from EU countries. Proponents of the quotas argued that foreign workers were driving down wages and increasing demand for housing, health, education and transport.

The EU warned that any restrictions on access to the Swiss labor market would violate the agreement on the freedom of movement of persons, and threatened “serious consequences.” The Swiss parliament again yielded to EU pressure, this time by passing watered-down restrictions on immigration.

Another flashpoint in bilateral relations involves the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). In November 2014, the ECHR prohibited Switzerland from sending Afghan asylum seekers back to Italy. Although Italian authorities had agreed to take them back, the ECHR ruled that doing so would violate Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Prohibition of Inhuman and Degrading Treatments) because of overcrowding and poor conditions at Italian asylum facilities.

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SVP leader Christoph Blocher criticized the ECHR for ignoring the principle of subsidiarity, which holds that decisions should be taken, if possible, at the local level:

“Don’t we trust federal judges to decide on human rights issues? We had those principles written into our constitution well before the ECHR. The problem with the convention is that it decides things from far away. The consequences, what happens next, don’t concern the judges.”

Martin Schubarth, a former Swiss federal judge, echoed those concerns:

“It is unacceptable that a small panel of [ECHR] judges, who generally lack the expert knowledge about the [Swiss] legislative authority, handle matters in an undemocratic way instead of the [Swiss] authority itself.”

In February 2018, Swiss public television SRF reported that the European Commission had presented the Swiss government with a 19-page “sin list” of Swiss violations of EU law.

Switzerland’s ongoing disputes with the EU, and the concomitant erosion of Swiss sovereignty, prompted the SVP to sponsor the referendum to ensure the precedence of Swiss law.

The sponsor of the initiative, SVP MP Hans-Ueli Vogt, expressed surprise at the scale of the defeat — a rare setback for the SVP, one of the most successful anti-EU parties in Europe — but said he would continue to fight against “creeping EU accession.”

The measure was opposed by a coalition of Swiss business groups, which convincingly argued that the referendum was a question of economics and access to international markets for the export-dependent country. “Ultimately, it is about maintaining prosperity in Switzerland and keeping the companies and jobs here,” said Monika Rühl, director of the business group Economiesuisse.

Some Swiss newspapers described result of the referendum as a “fiasco” and a “serious setback” for the SVP. Others were more circumspect. “The object of the initiative was very legitimate: it was about national sovereignty and its relationship with international law in a globalized world,” noted La Liberté, a paper based in Fribourg. The Geneva-based L’Express added:

“The SVP suffered a defeat because it failed to mobilize and convince beyond its base. The voters wanted a pragmatic assessment between international law and national law. Depending on the situation, one or the other should apply. The definitive prevalence of one over the other, on the other hand, is not shared by the majority.”

La Tribune de Genève wrote: “What the Swiss have supported this Sunday is a pragmatic, negotiated, piecemeal approach to our national interests. Voting is in no way a declaration of love to a European Union in crisis.”

The Swiss People’s Party said that despite the loss, the referendum “brought a welcome and suppressed debate about the relationship between Swiss law and international law and the importance of direct democracy.” The SVP added that its fight for Swiss self-determination would continue:

“First of all, the SVP demands that Switzerland not join the UN migration pact. We are counting on the pledges of the representatives of the other parties, that at the very least it is presented to the parliament with the aim of holding a referendum on the matter, so that Swiss voters can have their say about such a far-reaching pact.

“Secondly, the SVP rejects a one-sided submission to EU institutions, aimed at establishing an institutional connection of Switzerland to the EU apparatus, with a dynamic EU legal takeover and, ultimately, the subordination of Switzerland to the EU Court of Justice. A dynamic adoption of EU law would be another massive erosion of our direct democracy.”

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute

Israel Must Reevaluate Its Policy of Nuclear Ambiguity

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 00:00

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,023, December 2, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In view of growing Middle Eastern turmoil since the Arab upheavals of 2011, the time has come for Israel to review the efficacy of its traditional policy of deliberate nuclear ambiguity.

Given the upheavals cascading throughout the Middle East since 2011, Israel now faces a unique dilemma. Notwithstanding the logical underpinnings and coherence of its own unilateral foreign policies, whatever Jerusalem should decide to do or not do about the “big picture,” a vision that could include the advent of a nuclear Iran as a regional hegemon and heightened Shiite-Sunni infighting, this ever-volatile region could slip irretrievably into a still deeper level of chaos.

If Israel is to remain secure in such an environment, it will have to re-evaluate its policy of deliberate nuclear ambiguity.

To date, the “bomb-in-the-basement” policy has made good sense for Israel. Both friends and foes recognize that it possesses significant nuclear capabilities that are both survivable and capable of penetrating enemy defenses. Indeed, for adversaries not to acknowledge these capabilities would require a self-imposed intellectual deficit.

But what should Israel do about its nuclear posture going forward? How should this ambiguous stance be adapted to the convergent and inter-penetrating threats of still-impending Middle Eastern/North African revolutions, a nuclear Iran, and Israel’s more or less constant concern about negotiating agreements with state and sub-state (terrorist) organizations?

Conventional wisdom assumes that credible nuclear deterrence is somehow an automatic consequence of merely holding nuclear weapons. By this argument, removing Israel’s nuclear bomb from the “basement” would elicit new waves of global condemnation without offering any commensurate benefits.

But conventional wisdom is not always wise. The pertinent strategic issues for Israel are not simple or straightforward. In the arcane world of Israeli nuclear deterrence, it can never be adequate that enemy states simply acknowledge the existence of the Jewish State’s nuclear arsenal. Rather, these states must believe that Israel holds usable nuclear weapons, and that Jerusalem would be willing to employ them in certain circumstances.

The Middle East’s endemic instabilities create good reason to doubt that Israel would benefit from a continuation of the policy of deliberate nuclear ambiguity. It would seem, moreover, from certain developments within Israel’s defense and intelligence communities, that the country’s senior leadership fully understands such informed skepticism. To best augment such an understanding, Israel’s nuclear strategists should proceed interrogatively – in effect, creating a continuously self-refined “strategic dialectic” from which suitable answers and policies could then be incrementally extracted or systematically deduced.

A basic point now warrants reiteration. Israel is imperiled by existential threats that fully justify its possession of nuclear weapons and that require a correspondingly purposeful strategic doctrine. Without such weapons and doctrine, Israel cannot survive over time, especially if neighboring regimes become more adversarial, more jihadist, and/or less risk-averse.

Nuclear weapons and a correspondingly purposeful nuclear doctrine could prove vital to those more-or-less predictable scenarios requiring preemptive action and/or retaliation.

Generically, military doctrine describes how a country’s national forces would fight in plausible combat operations. But the full importance of doctrine lies not only in the ways it can animate and unify military forces, but also in the particular fashion with which it can transmit messages. In other words, doctrine can serve a state (especially an endemically beleaguered state) as a critical form of communication with both friends and foes.

Israel can benefit from such a broadened understanding of doctrine. The principal risks facing Israel are specific, not generic. This is because its adversaries in the region can be joined by: 1) the prospective new Arab state of “Palestine;” and 2) a newly nuclear Iran.  In the worst case, such inauspicious “joinings” would take place at the same time.

For Israel, merely possessing nuclear weapons, even when fully recognized by enemy states, can never automatically ensure successful deterrence. Though possibly counter-intuitive, a selective and nuanced end to deliberate ambiguity could substantially improve the overall credibility of Israel’s nuclear deterrent. With this in mind, the injurious potential of enemy attacks in the future could be reduced by making selectively available additional information concerning the security of Israel’s nuclear weapon response capabilities.

This information, limited yet explicit, would center on major and inter-penetrating issues of Israeli nuclear capability and decisional willingness.

Skeptics will likely disagree. It does, after all, appear reasonable to assert that nuclear ambiguity has worked so farArguably, while Israel’s current nuclear policy has done little to deter multiple conventional terrorist attacks, it has succeeded in keeping the country’s enemies, whether singly or in collaboration, from mounting any authentically existential aggressions.

But as nineteenth-century Prussian strategic theorist Karl von Clausewitz observed in his classic essay On War, there comes a military tipping point when “mass counts.” Israel is very small.  Its enemies have always had a huge advantage in terms of “mass.” Perhaps more than any other imperiled state on earth, Israel needs to steer clear of such a tipping point.

An integral part of Israel’s multi-layered security system lies in effective ballistic missile defenses, primarily the Arrow. Yet even the well-regarded and successfully tested Arrow, augmented by the newer, shorter-range and systematically integrated operations of Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and related active defenses, could never achieve a sufficiently high probability of intercept to protect Israeli civilians. No system of missile defense can ever be entirely “leak-proof,” and even a single incoming nuclear missile that somehow managed to penetrate Arrow or its corollary defenses could conceivably kill tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of Israelis.

Leaving aside a jihadist takeover of nuclear Pakistan, the most obviously unacceptable “leakage” threat would come from an eventually nuclear Iran. To be effectively deterred, a nuclear Iran would need to be convinced that Israel’s atomic weapons were both invulnerable and penetration-capable.

Any Iranian judgments about Israel’s capability and willingness to retaliate with nuclear weapons would depend largely upon prior knowledge of these weapons, including their degree of protection from surprise attack as well as their capacity to punch through Iranian active and passive defenses.

A nuclear weapons-capable Iran may already be a fait accompli. For whatever reasons, neither the international community in general nor Israel in particular has managed to create sufficient credibility concerning timely preemptive action. Such a critical defensive action would require complex operational capabilities, and could generate Iranian counter actions that could have a very significant impact on the entire Middle East.

It is likely that Israel has already undertaken major steps in cyber-defense and cyber-war, but even the most strenuous efforts in this direction would not be enough to stop Iran altogether. The sanctions leveled at Tehran over the years have had an economic impact, but have had no determinable effect in terms of halting Iranian nuclearization or Tehran’s enhancements of intercontinental ballistic missile testing.

A nuclear Iran could decide to share some of its nuclear components and materials with Hezbollah or with other terrorist groups. To prevent this, Jerusalem would need to convince Iran, inter alia, that it possesses a range of usable nuclear options.  

Jerusalem should now be calculating (vis-à-vis a prospectively nuclear Iran) the degree of subtlety with which it should consider communicating key portions of its nuclear status. Certain general details could be released about the availability and survivability of lower-yield weaponsNaturally, Israel should never reveal any specific information about its nuclear strategy, hardening, or yield-related capabilities.

It is important to bear in mind that an Israeli move from ambiguity to disclosure would not necessarily help in the case of an irrational nuclear enemy. It is possible that certain elements of the Iranian leadership might subscribe to certain end-times visions of a Shiite apocalypse. By definition, such an enemy would not value its own continued national survival more highly than any other preference or combination of preferences.

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Were its leaders to be or to become non-rational, Iran could effectively become a nuclear suicide-bomber in macrocosm. Such a destabilizing prospect is improbable, perhaps even at the very outer fringes of plausibility, but it is not inconceivable. A more-or-less similar prospect exists in already nuclear and distinctly coup-vulnerable Pakistan.

To protect itself against military strikes from irrational enemies, particularly attacks that could carry existential costs, Israel will need to reconsider virtually every aspect and function of its nuclear arsenal and doctrine.

Removing the bomb from Israel’s “basement” could enhance Israel’s strategic deterrence to the extent that it would heighten enemy perceptions of the severity of the risks involved. This would also bring to mind the so-called Samson Option, which could allow enemy decision-makers to grasp that Israel is prepared to do whatever is needed to survive.

Irrespective of its preferred level of ambiguity, Israel’s nuclear strategy must always remain oriented towards deterrence, not war-fighting. The Samson Option refers to a policy that would be based in part upon some implicit threat of massive nuclear retaliation for certain specific enemy aggressions. Israel’s small size means, among other things, that any nuclear attack would threaten Israel’s very existence and therefore could not be tolerated.

A Samson Option would make sense only in last-resort or near last-resort scenarios. If it is to be part of a credible deterrent, a corresponding end to Israel’s deliberate ambiguity is essential. The really tough part of this transformational process will be determining the proper timing for any such action vis-à-vis Israel’s core security requirements, and also the expectations of the international community. In any event, the Samson Option should never be confused with Israel’s overriding security objective: to seek stable deterrence at the lowest possible levels of military conflict.

In the often counter-intuitive strategic world, it can sometimes be rational to pretend irrationality. The nuclear deterrence benefits of pretended irrationality would depend, at least in part, upon an enemy state’s awareness of Israel’s intention to apply counter-value targeting when responding to a nuclear attack. But, once again, Israeli decision-makers would need to be wary of releasing too much specific information. Also worrisome, of course, is that the American president could be perceived as more-or-less genuinely irrational, prodding “anticipatory preemptions” against the US directly or (depending on particulars) against close allies such as Israel.

None of this is meant to suggest that an Israeli movement away from deliberate nuclear ambiguity would be helpful only on matters specifically involving nuclear threats. The credibility and cost-effectiveness of any Israeli nuclear retaliatory threat would be greatest where the expected aggression was similarly nuclear. Still, there are circumstances in which a determined enemy or coalition of enemies might contemplate launching “only” a devastating conventional first strike against Israel, and conclude that such a move would be sensible because it would not elicit Israeli nuclear retaliation.

If, however, the aggressors were aware that Israel was in possession of a wide array of capable and secure nuclear retaliatory forces, both in terms of range and yield, these enemies would be more likely to be successfully deterred. In this scenario, as a consequence of incremental and nuanced disclosures, Jerusalem would have signaled its adversaries that it can and will cross the nuclear retaliatory threshold in order to punish the inflicting of any potentially existential national harm.

In more narrowly military parlance, Israel’s actions would be designed to better ensure “escalation dominance.” The nuclear deterrence advantages to Israel of taking certain steps away from nuclear ambiguity would lie in the signal it sends: that Israel will not need to retaliate with massive and disproportionate nuclear force. It will have other (more believable) retaliatory options.

Such advantages could extend beyond the enhancement of credible threats of Israeli nuclear retaliation to supporting credible threats of Israeli nuclear counter-retaliation. If, for example, Israel should initiate a non-nuclear defensive first strike against Iran before that state becomes nuclear capable (not an “aggression,” but an act of “anticipatory self-defense” under international law), the likelihood of massive Iranian conventional retaliation could be diminished if there had already been open Israeli threats of nuclear counter-retaliation. In essence, by following an incremental path away from deliberate nuclear ambiguity, Israel would be less likely to replicate America’s much earlier nuclear posture vis-à-vis the then Soviet Union: a posture of threatening only “massive retaliation.”

In the final analysis, specific and valuable security benefits would likely accrue to Israel as a result of a selective and incremental end to deliberate nuclear ambiguity. The optimal time to begin such an “end” may not yet have come, but it will have arrived the moment Iran or any other obvious foe verifiably crosses the nuclear threshold. If and when that moment arrives, Israel should have already configured 1) its optimal allocation of nuclear assets; and 2) the precise extent to which that configuration should be disclosed. Such preparation could meaningfully enhance the credibility of its nuclear deterrence posture.

A fully recognizable second-strike nuclear force should then be revealed. Of necessity, such a robust strategic force – hardened, multiplied, and dispersed – would be fashioned to inflict a decisive retaliatory blow against major enemy cities. Iran or another prospective nuclear adversary, so long as it is led by rational decision-makers, should be made to understand that the costs of any planned aggression against Israel would always exceed any conceivable gains.

To more comprehensively protect itself against potentially irrational nuclear adversaries, Israel still has no logical alternative to developing a conventional preemption option. Operationally, there can be no reasonable assurance of success against multiple hardened and dispersed targets. Regarding deterrence, however, “irrational” is not the same as “crazy.” Even an irrational enemy leadership can still maintain national preference orderings or hierarchies that are both consistent and transitive. For example, an irrational leadership can be subject to threats of deterrence that credibly threaten deeply held religious as well as public values. The principal difficulty for Israel is in ascertaining the precise nature of those core enemy values. Should it be determined that an Iranian leadership were genuinely “crazy;” that is, without any decipherable or predictable ordering of preferences, usual deterrence bets could necessarily give way to preemption.

By definition, such determinations are strategic rather than jurisprudential. From the discrete standpoint of international law, perhaps in view of Iran’s genocidal threats against Israel, a preemption option could still represent a permissible expression of anticipatory self-defense. Again, this purely legal judgment would be entirely separate from any parallel or coincident assessments of operational success. For now, at least, these assessments all point overwhelmingly to the avoidance of exercising any residual preemption option.

In the final analysis, whether or not a prompt or incremental shift from deliberate nuclear ambiguity to express nuclear disclosure is indicated will depend upon several complex and interdependent factors. They include the specific types of nuclear weapons involved; the presumed reciprocal calculations of designated enemy leaders (state and sub-state); the expected effects on rational decision-making processes by these enemy leaders; and the expected effects on both Israeli and adversarial command/control/communication processes. Correspondingly, if bringing Israel’s bomb out of the “basement” were ever expected to produce selected enemy pre-delegations of nuclear launch authority and/or new and seemingly less stable launch-on-warning procedures, the likelihood of unauthorized or accidental nuclear wars could be increased. It follows that Israel must prepare to continuously upgrade its national military nuclear strategy – in particular its longstanding policy of deliberate nuclear ambiguity.

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies