Monday, March 31, 2014
The Ehud Olmert Banana Republic (Boat) Song:
By Steven Plaut
(to the tune of the Banana Boat Song by Harry Belafonte) based on a Jamaican folk song
EH HOOD, day EH EH HOOD
They shot all night from ole Hezb'Allah
Come, Mr. Tally Mon, tally his corruption
Come, Mr. Tally Mon, tally the corruption
It's six K, five K, four K, Graft!
A beautiful bunch a'ripe defrauding
EH HOOD, day EH EH HOOD
Friday, March 28, 2014
An Open Letter to the Israeli Minister of Health about Species Reassignment Surgery
To Yael German, Minister of Health
From: Steven Plaut
Re: Your proposal for new coverage of health insurance in Israel for "Sex Change" Surgery
Dear Minister German:
I read with great interest you new proposal to require Israeli "Sick Funds" or Health Maintenance Organizations to finance "Sex Change" surgeries for Israelis to be performed outside of Israel. The full story behind your proposal was reported in Haaretz this week - http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.582452 . According to your proposal, the health funds would cover the costs of any Israeli seeking to mutilate himself or herself, or what you prefer to call "genital reassignment surgery."
Now it is true that an Israeli approaching a surgeon and requesting that the surgeon slice off his or her pinky finger for no valid medical reason would be confined to a mental institution, and any surgeon performing such a request would be arrested for assault and mutilation. But you have the sensitivity and insight to appreciate that slicing off a pinky finger is a far worse form of bodily restructuring than slicing off sexual organs.
In any case, I am appealing to you to make your proposal more encompassing and less discriminatory. Why should Israeli health institutions ONLY cover genital reassignment surgery? Why are you refusing to order the health funds to finance species reassignment surgery as well? After all, the failure to finance species reassignment surgery is causing suffering and hardship for many people who were mistakenly born into bodies of the wrong species. It is time to remedy this!
Take me for example, Ever since I was the youngest of fellows, I have always felt that I should have been born a dolphin. I identify with dolphins, embrace dolphins, and see myself as part of the dolphin species. Sure, several psychiatrists have advised me to institutionalize myself in a loony ward. But this simply illustrates how unenlightened are so many of the medical professionals in Israel.
Madame Minister, why should the Israeli health system not pay for the surgery required to allow me to live my life to the fullest as a member of the proper species to which I truly belong, rather than being trapped in an inappropriate body for my entire life? Why should I be denied the opportunity to replace my arms with fins? Why can't I have my own properly functioning tail? Why should I not be able to align my species identity so that I can mate with the other dolphins of my true self-understanding?
My dream in life is to become part of a dolphin performance team in Sea World. But the obstinacy of the Israeli medical system is preventing me from fulfilling my dreams and living the life for which I was actually programmed, probably as far back as when I was in the womb. It is true that I am genetically human, but since when does genetic assignment count for anything? My true inner being is a dolphin, regardless of what genes I have been assigned.
So Madame Minister, end this travesty! End this discrimination. Acknowledge species reassignment surgery to be exactly as legitimate and appropriate as gender reassignment surgery. Do it today!
Professor Steven Plaut
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Lessons for Israel From America’s Civil War in Coping With Treason
Posted By Steven Plaut On March 27, 2014
Israel is currently under a worldwide assault, one whose foundations are anti-Semitism. The campaign of demonization and delegitimizing has many forms, including the economic warfare of the “Boycott, Divest, Sanctions” movement or BDS. The goal of the campaign is the annihilation of Israel and its population, and victory for the movement of Arab terrorism and Islamofascism.
It is impossible to understand fully this assault against Israel and the Jews without an appreciation of the role of Israeli leftwing traitors, collaborating with anti-Israel Arab nationalists. From the beginning, the initiatives calling for worldwide boycotts of Israel have come from a small group of disloyal radical leftist Israelis, many of them holding tenured positions at Israeli universities. These lead the calls for boycotts against their own country and their own employers. They provide a figleaf of respectability for anti-Semites around the world who can claim that even “progressive” Israelis are endorsing their campaign to boycott Israel and Israeli institutions. The disloyal tenured radicals are also the inventors of the canard that Israel is an apartheid regime. They are the moral equivalents of Vichy French and other European collaborators with Nazi Germany during World War II. Their aim is to provide legitimacy, aid and comfort to the enemies of their own country.
The belligerence of the Israeli Radical Left is not restricted to endorsements of BDS. Radical Leftists in Israel have led campaigns for mutiny and insurrection among soldiers designed to persuade Israelis to refuse to serve in the military. The Radical Left wants to impose its political agenda on the country undemocratically, by conditioning army service on the adoption of its own political agenda. (Some rightwing groups have also called upon Israelis to refuse to serve in the military unless their own political agenda is adopted.) In some cases, the radical Leftists have openly endorsed terrorism and violence. In almost all cases the Radical Left opposes freedom of speech for non-leftists.
The Israeli government has always coddled the disloyal radicals and excused their behavior as protected speech. But as the world campaign of anti-Semitic aggression against Israel escalates, it is increasingly clear that something must be done about the treason involving Israeli radical leftists. Simply stated, Israelis who call for BDS warfare against Israel should have their own property seized, sequestered, and confiscated by the state.
Too radical, you say? Undemocratic? Well, think again. The effective means by which Israel can deal with its own Fifth Column may be learned from the history of another great democracy – the United States – in coping with disloyalty. It is time for Israel to deal with sedition the same way that Abraham Lincoln and the Union did.
Shortly after the American Civil War broke out, both the Union and the Confederacy passed confiscation laws that seized the property of those living in the territories of the enemy belligerent. Penalties for disloyalty were not restricted to seizure of property. The Confederacy’s law was called the Sequestration Law and, if anything, went even further than the Confiscation Act of the Union.
The Confiscation Bill S151 of 1862, which replaced a weaker similar American law from 1861 (passed right after the first Battle of Bull Run), was largely the initiative of Lyman Trumbull. He was a Republican Senator from Illinois and chairman of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. He was from a middle class family that traced its origin back to the earliest settlers in New England, and he was a descendent of the Puritan preacher Cotton Mather. After studying law, he settled in the Illinois western wilderness, and forged early close personal ties with Abraham Lincoln. He built a reputation as a highly skilled and intelligent state legislator, and was a moderate on the controversial issues of the day, including abolition. He first served as a representative in the state legislature of the pro-South Democrat Party, but later joined Lincoln in the newly-created Republican Party, where he was disliked by the more radical members of the party due to his moderation.
Trumball’s confiscation law authorized the permanent seizure of all property of anyone involved in treason against the Union, including notably anyone considered to be offering “aid and comfort” to the enemies of the United States. The property in question could be located either in the North or the South, and could be seized without due process. There would be no compensation whatsoever for any property confiscated. The message was: endorse the enemy of your country and forfeit your property!
“Property” included lands, business assets, securities and bank accounts. The law allowed for seizure of assets left as bequests by northerners to family members living in the south. Where a person was considered to be disloyal but his heirs were not, the government would seize dominion over the property as a “life estate,” one lasting as long as that person himself lived, to revert later to his heirs after his death. Conservative legislators who were concerned with due process and uncomfortable with the constitutional implications of complete seizure of property without trial found the idea of seizing a life estate in rebel property to be entirely acceptable. The Act’s orders for seizure of property were made more popular when it explicitly included slaves as “property” that could be seized without trial and without compensation (and freed) by the forces of the United States.
Trumbull was subject to much criticism by more radical politicians for not going further in confiscating the property of supporters of the Confederacy. For example, his bill did not allow wholesale seizure of property of slave owners in the “border states” that had not seceded from the Union, and provided for compensation when any property would be seized from people in those areas. Trumbull was the leading advocate of the doctrine of “dual sovereignty,” which held that those supporting the Confederacy retained certain rights and privileges of citizenship, but at the same time they could be treated in some ways as enemy belligerents. In his words, “We may treat them as traitors and we may treat them as enemies, and we have the right of both belligerent and sovereign so far as they are concerned.”
The Confiscation Acts at the time were considered quite moderate and restrained because of American experience and policies during the War of Independence. During that War, a significant portion of the population was “Loyalist” and supporting Great Britain against American independence. Every one of the original thirteen colonies that were to form the United States confiscated the property of “Loyalists” without trial, and in many cases the Loyalists themselves were expelled en masse from the territories of the United States. Disloyalty had been regarded as legal grounds for seizure of property under English law going as far back as 1351.
In some areas American confiscation began as early as 1775. In November of 1777 the Continental Congress recommended that all colonies seize all property of Loyalists without compensation and sell it at auction. Among the most enthusiastic supporters of this wholesale confiscation were Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Large swaths of land were confiscated in New York and it is estimated that 11% of the property in Boston was seized. “Loyalists” opposed to Independence were considered to have forfeited all rights of protection for their property. After the war ended, no compensation was made to previous owners of “Loyalist” property, with limited exceptions in Vermont and Massachusetts.
Later chapters in American history also saw rigorous measures taken against manifestations of disloyalty. These ranged from the banning of the pro-Nazi German American Bund in 1941 to the wholesale internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II. Ethnic Germans and Italians in the United States were also interned,although in fewer numbers. Before that, the Sedition Act of 1918 (repealed in 1920) implemented a wide range of penalties for disloyalty, including imprisonment up to 20 years. Public figures opposing service in the military and promoting refusal to serve were jailed for sedition, including Eugene V. Debs, leader of the Socialist Party of America.
The lessons for Israel from all this are clear. Radical leftist Israelis, including tenured traitors, who endorse BDS economic warfare against their own country, should be forced to pay a price for their disloyalty and sedition. Those Israelis who are endeavoring to cause economic and financial harm to their own country because of their animosity towards it should suffer harm to their own economic interests. Those who attempt to undermine the willingness of citizens to serve in the military should be subject to personal sanctions, whether they be from the Left or Right.
Most important of all, it is high time that Israel gets serious about dealing with treason and sedition.
 Much of the historic material presented here is based upon Daniel W. Hamilton’s “The Limits of Sovereignty,” University of Chicago Press, 2007.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Bibi's Obamacare-style Boondoggle
Real estate price inflation is probably the number one domestic issue in Israel and Israeli politicians are all obsessed with "doing something" about it. The problem is that in politics, the passion for "doing something" begets boondoggles of the order of magnitude of Obamacare. Not a single Israeli politician understands housing economics and not a single one has any clue as to how to cope with housing inflation.
Now Yair Lapid and Netanyahu himself have proposed two companion confused and clueless "programs" for "fixing" the housing market. These programs are so awful that the Chief Economist of the Ministry of Finance resigned in protest, and the programs have been condemned by the Bank of Israel and other people who have studied freshman economics.
Basically Lapid's program calls for a massive subsidization of housing in the form of exemption for new housing from the Value Added Tax for selected new buyers (second-hand housing is already exempt). When everything in the country is subject to the Value Added Tax except housing, this amounts to a massive subsidy for housing. Subsidizing housing drives up demand for it and causes prices to rise.
Under Lapid's program, qualified "new buyers," meaning young couples who have served in the military or national service, would be entitled to the exemption. There is nothing wrong with conferring large preferences upon those who have served the country, but this housing subsidy program will simply drive housing prices much higher. (The Radical Left is already whining that it discriminates against Arabs. Actually, it would discriminate against those Arabs who do NOT do military or national service. But in spite of that, it is still a mind numbingly stupid program!) The proposal also invites endless litigation by people seeking to be recognized as "new buyers" for purposes of the law. It is hard to imagine a more effective program to drive housing inflation higher.
Netanyahu's companion proposal is even stupider. Having pretended for decades that he is a free marketer, Netanyahu wants to impose a regimen of all-encompassing price controls on the market, to be called "target prices." He wants to provide subsidized land allotments to contractors who agree to sell housing units at less than full market prices to consumers. But guess what - the true price of housing is not affected one iota by this economic camouflage. Market clearing prices of housing are not affected whatsoever by this. Providing land at less than market prices to contractors is the most incredibly ignorant idea one could come up with for reducing housing prices.
Both programs would involve massive expansion in the governmental bureaucracy that would oversee them and would end up in endless litigation and distortion of markets. Both proposals are so unworkable that history books are likely to compare these career ending programs by Netanyahu and Lapid to the career ending Obamacare, which may yet drive the Democrat Party into oblivion.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
1. The headlines are shrieking that two major American Jewish organizations are denouncing Moshe "Bogie" Yaalon for his criticism of American policy and demanding that he apologize. Haaretz and leftist Ynet are giddy in delight. But just who are these two "American Jewish organizations."
The first is the National Jewish Democratic Council, which is simply the name of the pro-Obama group of Jews who are active in the Democrat Party. It is run by Rabbi Jack Moline, a buddy of Rahm Emanuel and initiator of the group (Pseudo-) "Rabbis for Obama.".
The second is the so-called "Israel Policy Forum," a leftist organization today loosely associated with the left wing of the Israeli Labor Party. It evidently is largely funded by Charles Bronfman these days. Among the prominent leftists on its board are "Rabbi" Eric Yoffie, Steven M. Cohen, and in the past "Rabbi" Arthur Waskow, the drug-touting Israel-hating Marxist "theologian," was on its staff. A nice expose of both "Jewish" groups is here: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israeli-media-2-us-jewish-groups-attack-yaalons-comments-true/2014/03/23/
It is a badge of honor for Bogie that these folks are attacking him.
2. If there are any out there still not sure about what "J Street" is, then wonder no more. The "J" in "J Street" clearly stands for Jihad:
J Street Endorses Palestinian Refusal to Recognize Israel as Jewish State
BY: Washington Free Beacon Staff
In a development that is not sending shockwaves through the pro-Israel community, the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” advocacy group J Street has declared its support for the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
In a statement posted on the group’s website, executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami says that to “keep moving forward, both [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] now need to give a little.”
Netanyahu, he says, must drop his insistence that Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish State because “it is simply unrealistic and unreasonable to expect any Palestinian leader to consent” to such a demand.
Ben-Ami never goes on to say what Abbas “needs to give.”
J Street’s advocacy for the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state follows a nearly unbroken period of advocacy for Palestinian and Iranian interests since the group’s founding in 2008. J Street took the Hamas position on Israel during Operation Cast Lead later that year, accusing the IDF of war crimes and promoting the discredited Goldstone Report. It lobbied for the Iranian regime’s position against Iran sanctions. It defended the terrorists who attacked IDF soldiers on the 2010 Gaza flotilla. J Street also took the Palestinian and Arab League position on a UN Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements in 2011.
Friday, March 21, 2014
1. So obvious that even the French understand: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/1.581034
French interior minister: Anti-Zionism is new anti-Semitism
2. I mentioned this recently but - given the news stories - it is worth mentioning again. In the kate 1920s a group of Jewish communists living in "Palestine" decided that their real mission in life was building socialism. They made "aliya" from Israel to the Soviet Union and the established at least one kibbutz in the Crimean peninsula. That is correct - there once was a Jewish-Israeli kibbutz operating the Crimea, placed there to help build Soviet "socialism" and promote Soviet power.
The story of this kibbutz is in Haaretz today - see http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-features/.premium-1.581166
It is a comfort to know that nearly all of the kibbutzniks in question were liquidated by Stalin during the purges. As far as I know, only one escaped with his life, returned to Israel and became a rightwing Zionist.
3. Knesset Member from the Labor Party Eitan Cabel is pushing a law that would prohibit the distribution of Israel Hayom, the pro-Netanyahu freebie daily newspaper that is wiping the floor with the other daily newspapers in Israel.
Cabel claims he wants Israel Hayom prohibited in order to create true fair competition for Israeli newspapers. He also no doubt wants to create true fair competition in Israeli politics by banning all political parties except for the Israeli Labor Party and then interning all people who are not members of the Labor Party in special camps.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
In its early decades of existence, public policy in Israel was governed by near-totalitarian interference by the government in every micro-decision of the lives of Israelis. The government told Israelis where to live, what to eat, what to buy, where to work, and how to live. While democratically elected, the government sought to impose a Bolshevik style command and control system over the economy.
Decades of liberalization later, the instinct of Israeli politicians, even those supposedly from parties devoted to “free market” ideas, still reverts with kneejerk regularity to Bolshevik regulation and interference. Last year the Knesset passed a law setting minimum prices for books and prohibiting discounts. Every politician spouting “ideas” for “solving” the housing problems of Israel invariably ends up advocating rent controls and price controls. But it would be hard to find anything as absurd and anti-democratic as the new Knesset initiative to prohibit distribution of free newspapers.
The new proposal for media bolshevism is the brainchild of six Knesset Members from six Knesset factions, including the supposed free-market conservative party of Naftali Bennett and the supposed Rightwing party of Avigdor Lieberman. The bill before the Knesset is designed as an attack against the Israel Hayom daily newspaper, which has become the Israeli paper with the greatest circulation. The bill wants to prohibit distribution of free newspapers.
Well sort of. It is really just an attack against one newspaper. Other newspapers in Israel are handed out free and are not the target. The Jerusalem Post has a freebie it distributes in Hebrew. It would be exempt from the law because it does not have a Friday edition. Why having a Friday edition makes a newspaper censorable is something not explained by the Knesset bolshies. Yediot Ahronot has a freebie edition of its own. Television news and radio news is free. And freebie newspapers are distributed in every country in Europe and every city in the US.
The nominal initiator of the bill is Eitan Cabel, an anti-democratic backbencher from the Labor Party. Years ago Cabel was behind the Bolshevik campaign by the Labor Party to shut down the Arutz 7 radio station (which later became a web site). Cabel had no problem with the ultra-leftist “pirate radio station” run by Abbie Nathan, but insisted that the Rightwingers of Arutz 7 should be prevented from exercising their freedom of speech. Cabel was also a central figure in the McCarthyist crusade of the Israeli Left to blame the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin on the exercise of freedom of speech by non-leftists. He fought against the release from prison of Yigal Amir’s girlfriend, Margalit Har-Sheffi, jailed for not preventing Amir from committing his crime. Cabel also did not prevent Amir from committing his crime but was not jailed for this.
Yediot Ahronot is evidently behind the censorship bill. Its position as the leading newspaper in Israel based on market share was turned on its head by Israel Hayom. Moreover, both Yediot and Haaretz are far-leftist newspapers, while Israel Hayom is pluralistic but predominantly right-leaning. That of course is all the more reason why a Knesset attempt at shutting it down should be resisted as anti-democratic. Instead we see this gaggle of politicians, including from “Rightwing” parties, joining the censorship campaign. If Bennett’s party and Lieberman’s party go ahead and support this bill, they will join the list of parties for whom no believer in democracy can vote in the next election.
Monday, March 17, 2014
The Crowned of Damascus
By: Steven Plaut
Published: November 1st, 2006
"For the soul was ransomed from the pit of darkness, and life shall see light."
- Job 33:28
Its origins are in the medieval Spanish kingdom of Castille, in the early thirteenth century, well before Columbus left for the Americas. It was at some point purchased with coins minted during the reign of Queen Isabella's half-brother, Henry IV. Then Isabella became queen, marrying Ferdinand of Aragon, and they completed the Reconquista and turned their attention to ethnic cleansing.
After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, it showed up in Constantinople, where it was purchased with florin coins minted during the reign of Sultan Selim I, father of Suleiman the Magnificent. And from there it somehow got to Damascus, where it remained - hidden from the eyes of outsiders - until it was redeemed from the land of Aram, the land from which Abraham departed on his mission.
And it's priceless.
The Keter or Crown of Damascus is neither as well known nor quite as authoritative as its cousin, the Keter of Aleppo. Each "crown" is actually a hand-written complete biblical codex, containing vowels and cantillation (trop) signs, printed out in book form.
The Crown of Aleppo was used by Maimonides and is considered the most precise and oldest surviving such manuscript of the Torah. But fewer than two-thirds of its pages have survived, and some of those are damaged or partly burnt.
The Crown of Damascus, by contrast, is in mint condition. Every page has survived intact. Its last page is an incredible calligraphy image of the final chapter of Chronicles in the form of aKiddush cup.
The entire manuscript was written by a single scribe, in dark brown ink text letters and with lighter brown ink for the vowels and cantillation marks. In Damascus it was used for study only on the holiday of Shavuot by the congregation formed by those expelled from Spain.
In some ways its recovery was the "crowning" achievement of one Judy Feld Carr.
Every schoolchild in North America has heard of Harriet Tubman, who smuggled slaves from the American South to freedom in the North via the "Underground Railroad" before the Civil War. Her smuggling operations rescued some 300 slaves.
Ironically, Judy Feld Carr is still largely unknown, even among North American Jews. In large part that is probably because of the secrecy in which she operated, for nearly three decades, as the Harriet Tubman of Syrian Jews.
But rescuing the Crown of Damascus is only one dramatic highlight of a heroic career: Judy saved the lives of 3,228 Syrian Jews (of about 4,500 who would eventually escape Syria) and she did so almost single-handedly. While some Syrian Jews were captured or killed in various escape attempts, Carr did not lose a single one in any of the escape operations she organized and managed.
Like so many strange things in this world, this story begins with a Plaut. Rabbi Gunther Plaut, a well-known Toronto figure and distant relative of your humble correspondent, was, in the early 1970's, among the first to bring the plight of Syrian Jewry to the attention of the world.
While the persecution of Soviet Jews was making headlines, few were aware of the brutal persecutions in Syria. The organized Jewish community preferred to keep the subject under wraps and to pursue quiet, polite - and ineffective - lobbying on behalf of Syria's Jews.
Rabbi Plaut's calls to action electrified Judy Feld, a musicologist and mother of three, who had grown up in small-town Ontario and later moved to Toronto. Together with her husband, Dr. Ronald Feld, they decided to commit themselves to doing something about the plight of Syrian Jews.
The Syrian Jewish community traces its origins back to biblical days. Much of Syria was incorporated into King David's realm and parts were again later ruled by the Hasmoneans. Benjamin of Tudela, the famous traveler and writer, visited Damascus in 1170, reporting on a Jewish community there that numbered about 3,000. The Bartenura, a medieval Italian commentator on the Mishna, visited the community and described the lush gardens and luxurious homes of the Damascus Jews.
Before the arrival of the refugees from Spain, most Syrian Jews were musta'arabim, Arabic-speaking Jews, with their own liturgy. They were strongly influenced by the mystics of Safed and produced several leading kabbalists.
Syrian Jewry had been reinforced over the centuries by waves of immigrants, including Spanish Jews after the expulsion of 1492 and others from Italy, Sicily and Morocco. The menfolk worked in a variety of trades and engaged in commerce. The women developed a special local cuisine, which included samboosak (half-moon pastry filled with cheese or meat), coconut marmalade (especially for Passover) and sharbat loz, a cold drink made from almond syrup.
By the first half of the twentieth century, much of the Syrian Jewish community had emigrated. Many reached Israel, especially after the Syrian pogroms of 1947. Others went to Brazil, Brooklyn, and Deal, New Jersey.
For one reason or another, several thousand Jews stayed behind in Syria. By the 1960's they were living under a permanent state of siege, brutalized by the totalitarian Ba'ath regime, under surveillance of the secret police and facing the perpetual threat of violence.
Quite literally the host for German war criminals, the Syrian government carried on its own anti-Zionist jihad against its Jewish citizens. Jews had special identity cards stamped, in large red letters, "Mossawi," an Arabic expression for Jew (derived from the name Moses), and were prohibited from walking more than three kilometers from their homes.
Judy and her husband committed themselves to helping and redeeming Syria's Jews in any way possible. But they had to begin the battle from scratch, with no idea how to proceed.
They commenced with publicity campaigns and meetings with activists, trying to nudge the Jewish organizations of Canada and other countries into taking a stronger position on, and a more vocal interest in, the plight of Syrian Jews. They produced brochures and booklets that circulated throughout the Jewish world. (I can recall distributing them on campus as an undergraduate in Philadelphia.) More important, they began surreptitious activities to rescue as many Syrian Jews as possible.
Most of the details of the rescue operations are still secret. While "Mrs. Judy," as Syrian Jews the world over affectionately call her, is reluctant to discuss those details, an indirect acknowledgment of their sophistication and importance came recently from the Israeli intelligence services, which published a cover story about her exploits in their newsletter.
Some of the stories of the rescues were revealed in The Ransomed of God, a 1999 book by University of Toronto historian Harold Troper. Evidently, there were two "exit strategies." In many cases Syrian Jews were ransomed, with monies greasing the right palms in Damascus. In other cases, "illegal" escape schemes were hatched, with the exact routes still unknown (my personal guess is through Turkey).
Judy's code name for those involved in the operations was always "gin." An elaborate secret language was developed for communication with those inside Syria, based largely on Chinese cooking terminology, sometimes on biblical code citations. When some young Syrian Jews were arrested, a message reached her from Syria, citing Jeremiah on Rachel weeping for her children. The meaning was clear.
The personal mission of "Mrs. Judy" becomes all the more incredible when one realizes the circumstances under which she was forced to carry on. Before a single Jew had been successfully rescued, Judy's husband died suddenly in 1973. It was only four months after they'd succeeded in sending in the first box of books to Jews in Syria.
Now a young widow with three children, Judy wasted no time on hesitation and doubt. She decided to pursue alone the mission she had shared with her husband, now with even more devotion and energy.
A fund, named after her late husband, was set up by their Toronto synagogue, which raised the money needed for the operations. The amounts she collected are still unknown to the public. When her own father died, she was late for the funeral - she had to spend most of that day raising $50,000 to rescue an entire family in immediate danger. Only when they were safe did she allow herself the "luxury" of beginning the mourning process.
The clandestine efforts and operations escalated. "Canada was the perfect place from which to run the activities," she explained to me. "It's a country that's never on the front page, never the center of attention. I could operate without drawing media attention. And no one was mad at Canada, or paying it much mind."
The first ransomed Syrian Jew was an elderly rabbi from Aleppo. Early on, one person at a time was brought out; later, whole families. Sometimes parents in Syria were faced with a "Sophie's Choice" type dilemma, having to select a single child to be taken out in any given ransom or escape operation.
By that time Judy had married Donald Carr, a successful Toronto attorney and father of three who had lost his wife at a young age. She continued her work with the backing of her new family. The family always knew when she was about to leave for a trip related to her mission - the warning sign came when she would start cooking up unusually large quantities of food.
Outside her family, virtually no one knew what she was doing; even her beneficiaries did not know her name, only rumors about some mysterious woman in Canada managing the operations. If the Syrian secret police heard those same rumors they no doubt dismissed them as disinformation.
The first public revelation of her role in the rescues came in 1995, when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin decided to go public. The chief rabbi of Syria had just been allowed to leave the country. Judy would have preferred that Rabin hold his tongue a bit longer to allow the operations to continue in secret.
Some months later she was to be presented with a Merit Award for her life's work by my own school, the University of Haifa. Rabin insisted on personally presenting her with the award. But it was not to be. Three days before the ceremony he was assassinated by Yigal Amir.
Today a grandmother of thirteen, Judy doesn't seek public accolades for her years of work and rescue, though she has received, in addition to the aforementioned recognition from the University of Haifa, a number of honors - among them the Order of Canada and the Simon Wiesenthal Award for Tolerance, Justice and Human Rights.
"I have always been reluctant to inject myself into the lives of the people I rescued," she explained to me. "I do not need to harvest expressions of thanks. I want them to get on with their lives."
Besides human beings, there were many artifacts and books she managed to redeem from their Syrian prison. She herself traveled to pick up a Torah scroll that had just been smuggled out of Syria, carrying it to Canada inside a hockey bag. (One can only imagine the looks on the faces of the airport security people.) The books and artifacts were donated to museums in Israel. President Moshe Katsav invited her to his home to thank her in person on behalf of Israel.
The Crown of Damascus was particularly difficult to rescue because the Syrian authorities were aware of its monetary value. When Judy at last had it safely in her possession in Toronto, the first thing she did was to make sure it was genuine. She asked a Tunisian-born scribe to inspect it carefully. After doing so, he burst into sobs.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"I have just seen the face of God," he replied.
Curiously, now that Syria is effectively judenrein, its leaders have been trying to improve its image (under intense pressure from an American administration that regards their country as part of the axis of evil) by extending "feelers" to Syria's expatriate Jews. The former Syrian ambassador to the United States, Imad Mustapha, initiated meetings with some Syrian Jews in Brooklyn and in 2004 accompanied a small group of them on a visit to Syria.
Should a more moderate Syria ever emerge and abandon its devotion to terror and aggression against Israel and the West - something unlikely to happen as long as the junior Assad and his Ba'ath storm troopers hold power - then perhaps these Syrian Jews will play an important role.
As for the Crown of Damascus, it's in its rightful home at last.
When the chief rabbi of Syria was finally permitted to leave that country in 1995, it was officially for the purpose of a "visit" to the U.S. But once he was free, Rabbi Ibrahim Hamra traveled to Canada and then the U.S. before moving permanently to Israel.
When he arrived at Ben Gurion Airport he was carrying a plastic shopping bag. It contained the Crown of Damascus, which Judy and he were conveying to the Israel National Library in Jerusalem. And there it has remained. Judy had insisted that Rabbi Hamra (who, like so many of the Jews ransomed from Syria, named one of his own daughters Judy) carry it himself, restoring it from Aram to Zion with his own hands.
Today, thanks in great measure to the untiring, heroic work of Judy Feld Carr, only about 30 Jews, most of them elderly, remain in Syria.
New Article on Carr published this week:
Friday, March 14, 2014
About Kerry's Claim that the "Palestinians" have already Recognized Israel as a Jewish State
By Steven Plaut
When Shimon Peres and his junta began the Oslo "process," the "deal" with the Palestinians was supposed to be that Israel would recognize the PLO as a legitimate side to the conflict and as representative of the "Palestinian People" in exchange for the PLO recognizing the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state.
Israel did, and the PLO did not.
The idiocy of Oslo is evident in the fact that here we are - two decades later - and still arguing over whether the "Palestinian Authority" needs to recognize the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state. The latest twist is that Mister Horse Face, John Kerry, does not see any reason why the "Palestinians" need to recognize Israel at all. Instead, Israel should just keep making concessions to them, and should abandon the completely unreasonable demand that the "Palestinians" recognize the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state.
Moreover, Kerry has a new invention. He claims that Yassir Arafat actually recognized Israel twice as a Jewish state. He found evidence of these in old video clips. Well, evidently no one bothered to let Arafat know that he had done so. Let us recall that Arafat never changed the "Palestinian Covenant" that demanded that all of Israel be exterminated.
Kerry is simply deconstructing some old speeches of Arafat and twisting the words to make it appear like Arafat recognized Israel. No doubt he found something like Arafat saying that all the people in the Jewish state need to be thrown into the sea, and Kerry understands from this that Arafat "recognized the Jewish state."
Now if indeed Arafat really HAD recognized Israel as a legitimate Jewish state, then there would be no reason whatsoever for Israel to make concessions and abandon the demand that Abu Mazen and his horde also recognize Israel as a legitimate Jewish state. If Arafat has already recognized Israel, what does the Palestinian Authority lose from doing the same? Let Abu Mazen proclaim three times a day that not only is Israel a Jewish state but it is legitimate that Israel be a Jewish state. If he were to do so, surely the Israeli electorate would then be happy to conduct negotiations and make more concessions.
In fact of course Abu Mazen and the rest of the Terrorocracy proclaim three times a day that they will NEVER recognize Israel as a Jewish state. So even if Arafat HAD recognized Israel, which he hadn't, this would be completely irrelevant. Kerry's conclusion is that Israel has to stop its obstinate insistence on being recognized by the "Palestinians."
If Netanyahu had an ounce of self-dignity and intelligence, he would announce that until Abu Mazen starts proclaiming three times a day that Israel is a legitimate Jewish state (and not simply proclaim that it is de facto an empirical Jewish state), then Israel will shut off all the utilities, including electricity and water, to all areas under the rule of the Palestinian Authority, deny all residents of those areas the right of passage through Israel and the right to work in Israel, and will freeze all their bank accounts.
How is that for a response to a refusal to recognize Israel? If Kerry whines about it, Netanyahu can simply point out that he is responding the exact same way that Abraham Lincoln responded to Confederates who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Union!
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
1. It seems that the guiding principle for so much of Netanyahu's policy is to apologize to foreign anti-Semites every time Israelis are attacked by violent terrorists. This is how Netanyahu "defused" the tensions with Turkey after Turkish Islamofascist terrorists attacked and attempted to murder unarmed Israeli troops. Then yesterday a Palestinian "judge" living in Jordan attacked an IDF soldier at the border bridge and attempted to grab his weapon. The terrorist was shot to death. Netanyahu issued a statement of "regret" and sent it to Jordan.
2. As good a reason as any why you should regard the Hebrew University as a hostile anti-Zionist institution: http://isracampus.org.il/third%20level%20pages/HebrewU%20-%20Daniel%20Blatman%20-%20Israel%20a%20Racist%20Cancer.htm
3. The jihad against the freedom of speech of non-leftists continues in Israel at full steam. The newest attack is the indictment of two rabbis who urged Israeli soldiers to disobey orders when they would be ordered to evict Jewish settlers from their homes. The two rabbis are Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpo and Shabtai Weintraub. See http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/178374#.UyA_wfmSz-o .
I happen to disagree with the Rabbis' opinion. I also happen to think that these Rabbis should enjoy freedom of speech to express opinions of which I disagree.
Let us note that not a single one of the hundreds of tenured Leftists and fellow travelers who called upon Israeli soldiers to mutiny and refuse to obey orders and to refuse to serve in the "Occupied Territories" has ever been arrested or indicted. So, in other words, indicting people for calling on soldiers to refuse to obey orders is just the latest selective anti-democratic tactic of the campaign against freedom of speech for non-leftists. Evidently the new indictments are the work of the anti-democratic leftist Deputy Attorney General Shai Nitzan who was appointed by the Likud government. Nitzan's ideas about freedom of speech resemble somewhat those of the leaders of North Korea.
Guess how many "human rights" NGOs in Israel protested against the suppression of the freedom of speech of these Rabbis! Guess how many Israeli law professors defended their freedom of speech!
More on Leftwing Fascism in Israel: http://isracampus.org.il/third%20level%20pages/Israeli%20extremism%20-%20Haaretz%20Questions%20What%20Constitutes%20Legitimate%20Expression.htm
4. The Knesset just raised the minimum vote needed for parliamentary representation from 2% to 3.25% of the popular vote. That is still far too low. No party getting a mere 3.25% of votes would ever get into the US Congress or the British House of Commons. In any case, the Radical Left has been foaming at the mouth and having conniptions all week. The 3.25% threshold makes it impossible for picayune radical leftist groups to attempt to run for the parliament. It also can weed out some of the Arab fascist groups who run. The Arab parties would need to unite and run as a single list, but they tend to bicker and quarrel and may not be able to do so, since the run the range from Stalinists to 12th century Islamists. The Left whines that the law is "anti-democratic." But since when is it democratic to allow picayune fringe groups attracting two percent of voters to have parliamentary clout in national decision making. If the US had such a cutoff, the Congress would have reps from PETA, the "911 Troofer" conspiracy nuts, and the militia groups like the one that blew up Oklahoma City.
It occurs to me that if Israel REALLY wants a functional parliament consisting of capable people serving the nation and not wasting money and time, maybe it should consider raising the threshold for Knesset representation for a party to 110% of the popular vote.
Sunday, March 09, 2014
1. The Ku Klux Klan comes to the University of Haifa: http://isracampus.org.il/third%20level%20pages/HaifaU%20-%20Micah%20Leshem%20-%20joins%20KKK.htm
2. As you know, Israel has always dealt with mass murdering suicide bombers by being nice to their families. Their family members can often draw social security survivorship benefits, welfare, and pensions. When Israel blew up the homes of such murderers, the caring Left and its satellites lobbied against such actions against the "innocent" family members of the terrorists. Israel then started boarding up the houses, and later just single rooms in the houses used by the terrorist, as an alternative to heartless demolition of the entire building. That too was condemned by the compassionate lefties. The Left has always insisted that the only permissible way to cope with suicide bombers is for Israel to capitulate to the demands of the murderers.
There just is no other alternative, right?
Well, seems that someone forgot to tell China about that. As you recall, China in recent days had to deal with its own wave of Tibetan suicide protesters. These are not mass murderers, simply Buddhist protesters who commit suicide to draw attention to the Chinese oppression of Tibet. Guess what. The Chinese do NOT cope with these people by capitulating to their demands. Here is what they do:
Most of the self-immolations have occurred in China’s Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefectures, east of Tibet, where the Dzorge County government has announced that it will take innocent people hostage en masse, said the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD.) The edict warned that if there is a self-immolation, the government will “strike hard” against these hostages and methodically take away their human rights, and make life for the innocent survivors unbearable,
This warning is very simple, said TCHRD: “If there is a self-immolation, the local government will attack your family, village, and monastery.” …
Family members of self-immolators will be blacklisted, deprived of their political rights, and banned from government employment. Their home and land will be confiscated, and they will be prohibited from starting a business. They will be excluded from all welfare benefits for 3 years and barred from traveling to Lhasa or to foreign countries. Family members will be unable to find work or permanent housing and will not be permitted to borrow money, TCHRD said.
Monasteries and villages will be fined amounts from 10,000-500,000 yuan ($1,648 to $82,414) in the form of a deposit to ensure against future self-immolations. In the case of a self-immolation, the money will be forfeited, and a new deposit required. The self-immolator’s village or monastery will be prevented from receiving financial assistance in the future, effectively preventing the creation of any new business, TCHRD said. Villagers will be forbidden the use of farmland and grasslands.
3. Haaretz is the Palestinian newspaper printed in Hebrew, the anti-Israel newspaper from which the Israeli Radical Left imbibes its Treason Du Jour.
In recent days Haaretz has found a new cause. It is denouncing Israel for being responsible for the oppression of homosexuals in Uganda. As you know, the Uganda government just adopted barbaric rules against homosexuals, including tossing them into prison for life sentences. This triggered outrage and protests. The Israeli government maintains correct diplomatic relations with Uganda and decided not to destroy those through loud denunciations of Uganda for its gay bashing. I doubt there is anyone in Israel who endorses the Uganda policies, and as you know Israel is one of the most tolerant places on earth when it comes to homosexuals. Israelis do not exactly "favor" homosexuality as a behavior but think violence and nastiness towards homosexuals is wrong. But Haaretz repeatedly denounced ISRAEL for "enabling" Uganda by not leading a campaign against Uganda.
Ok, Haaretz bashing Israel for anything and everything is not exactly news. But there is an interesting twist to this. The very same Haaretz has been bizarrely silent about the recent anti-homosexual policies of Putin before and during the winter Olympics in Sochi. Not only did Haaretz not denounce Israel and Israeli settlements as being somehow responsible for those, IT NEVER EVER DENOUNCED RUSSIA OR PUTIN EITHER! It has also been handling the Russian invasion of the Ukraine with delicate kid gloves, avoiding even the appearance of denouncing Putin and Russia. Haaretz is all to happy to remind everyone of the rich tradition of anti-Semitism in the Ukraine, while downplaying Putin's imperialist aspirations.
Well, Amnon Lord, writing in Maariv and Makor Rishon over the weekend, offers an explanation. He suggests it may have something to do with one of the major stockholders of Haaretz these days, one Leonid Nevzlin. Comrade Nevzlin is a Russian oligarch with complicated relations with Putin. Two years back he purchased 20% of the shares in Haaretz. See this: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/haaretz-announces-leonid-nevzlin-acquires-20-percent-of-haaretz-shares-1.367159 He made his fortune as sidekick of Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The latter had been jailed by Putin and was recently released. Lord suggests that Nevzlin has used his weight at Haaretz to pressure the paper to tread lightly regarding Putin and indeed to suck up to Putin. This presumably to persuade Putin to go easy on Khodorkovsky and the interests of Khodorkovsky and Nevzlin.
So aside from the natural instincts of the semi-communist Haaretz editorial officers to identify with any Neo-Soviet behavior by Russia, one of its main stockholders may be dictating an Appease-Putin set of editorial positions in the paper for his own narrow self-interests.
If true, we would then have the spectacle of the ownership directors of Haaretz including not only some non-Jewish German industrialists whose wealth was derived in the Nazi era, but also oligarchs flirting with Putin and his Neo-Soviet policies regarding Ukraine.
4. The Hebrew U's supporter of the Rwanda Solution for the Jews:http://isracampus.org.il/third%20level%20pages/Editorial%20-%20Lee%20Kaplan%20-%20HebrewU%20-%20Dimitry%20Shumsky%20-%20Clearly%20not%20Sharansky.htm
Thursday, March 06, 2014
Purim Posting from 1997: