THE DAYS OF AWE: THE SHOFAR’S CALL, 5772
In the memory of beloved Malca z’l
“Renew a steadfast spirit within me”
The Shofar blast during the High Holidays reminds us of the just and ethical values of Judaism; it reminds us of our commitments to building a better and just world for all.
Tikun Olam, the mending of the world, is the meaning of the Shofar’s blast: a call for brotherhood, an end to hate, suffering, tyranny. An end to war, blood and tears!
The wonderful Hebrew cry from the heart forHeshbon Hanefesh, a taking stock of our soul, is for inner accounting, a judgment upon oneself. We confess our failure, our missed duties to ourselves and to our fellow men. Heshbon Hanefesh: to bridge or at least narrow the gap between promising and doing! This is Heshbon Hanefesh: the callto narrow this gap, the call for atonement and redemption, redemption of the entire world: Holam Koolo!
As a Holocaust survivor, I hear alarming echoes coming from today’s world, the outrageous call of hate against the Jewish people, the State of Israel, revived global antisemitism, genocidal threats against the Jewish people by terrorist states, the ugly calls for the “delegitimation of the State of Israel.” The heavy gathering clouds calling for hate and crime, remind me of the anguish and fear, the horrible climate I lived through in the years from 1930 on.
Against this, the sound of the Shofar 5772 is a call for brotherhood, for peace, for celebration of creation, for renewal, for a new, promising beginning, for all people.
Shanah Tova—Happy New Year 5772!
May it be one of Peace for the Jewish people, for our beloved State of Israel, for all humanity.
Shanah Tova: Happy New Year to all our CIJR friends and family!
THE CALL OF MY TEENS: THE SHOFAR
Within the little synagogue
The light is dim
The air is hushed around,
The silence seems to pray:
We hear the Shofar sound!
O Shofar, tell us we need not fear,
Though long and hard the way.
O Shofar, bind us with thy holy strains
‘Til each young heart shares in Israel’s pain.
Like a trumpet clear,
Sound anew to the world,
Renew strongest vow:
To bear with pride now the name of Jew
And across the endless years!
(Baruch Cohen is Research Chairman for the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.)
“Israel is in a unique place because we have had the right polices to give ourselves economic strength… military strength…and of course spiritual strength by stressing the general Jewish values.… We have a lot more to do, but I think that as we approach the new year, we can say we have done a great deal and will continue in this path. That is the message I have for the coming year: we have to continue to fortify the state of Israel.…”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, extending New Year’s greetings to the Jewish people, and emphasizing “that the best guarantor of our future is that we build our country…build our society, build our defenses, educate our children—continue to develop the State of Israel.” (Jerusalem Post, September 28.)
“[The United States of America] will continue to stand with Israel because the bond between our nations is unshakable.…”—US President Barack Obama, in his annual Rosh Hashanah address, wishing the Jewish people a “sweet year, health, happiness and peace,” and calling the Jewish New Year a time to “reaffirm friendships, renew commitments, and reflect on values we cherish.” (Jerusalem Post, September 27.)
“1. Within a month there will be a preparatory meeting between the parties to agree an agenda and method of proceeding in the negotiation. 2. At that meeting there will be a commitment by both sides that the objective of any negotiation is to reach an agreement within a timeframe agreed to by the parties but not longer than the end of 2012.… 3. There will be a Donors Conference at which the international community will give full and sustained support to the Palestinian Authority state-building actions developed by Prime Minister Fayyad under the leadership of President Abbas. 4. The Quartet recognizes the achievements of the Palestinian Authority in preparing institutions for statehood.… In this regard, the members of the Quartet will consult to identify additional steps they can actively support towards Palestinian statehood.… 5. The Quartet calls upon the parties to refrain from provocative actions if negotiations are to be effective. The Quartet reiterate[s] the obligations of both parties under the Roadmap. 6. The Quartet commit[s] to remain actively involved and to encourage and review progress.…”—Statement released by the Quartet—comprising the US, EU, Russia and the UN—”reiterate[ing] its urgent appeal to the parties to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without delay or preconditions.” (Independent Media Review and Analysis, September 24.)
“We should go into direct negotiations…without preconditions. Israel has always wanted that, and I have announced that as our intention from day one. The Palestinians have avoided it. They have avoided it because they don’t want to recognize the nation state of the Jewish people, to give up the ghost on the refugees, and to give us the security conditions necessary to the defense of Israel.…”—Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in an interview with the Jerusalem Post, unequivocally calling on the Palestinian Authority to return to the negotiating table, while questioning the PA’s desire to forge “a realistic and enduring peace rather than a fictitious and ephemeral one.” (Jerusalem Post, September 28.)
“When we say that the settlement should be based upon the borders [of June 4, 1967], President [Abbas] understands, we understand, and everybody knows that the greater goal cannot be accomplished in one go. If Israel withdraws from Jerusalem, evacuates the 650,000 settlers, and dismantles the wall—what will become of Israel? It will come to an end.…”—Member of the Fatah Central Committee, Abbas Zaki, in an interview aired on Al-Jazeera September 23, 2011, affirming that the Palestinians’ goal is to “wipe Israel out,” but because it is “not [acceptable] policy to say so, keep it to yourself.…” (MEMRI, September 23.)
“Why would Abbas—former lieutenant of Yasser Arafat, the late terrorist leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—eschew negotiations in favor of a course that may well lead to war? It doesn’t make sense—unless one realizes that, in essentials, Abbas is an unreconstructed PLO devotee. The perceived difference between his persona and Arafat’s is more one of image and style rather than substance. His theatrical performance at the UN followed to the letter the Arab position at the Khartoum Summit after Israel’s stunning victories over the Arabs in the 1967 Six-Day War: ‘No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel.’ Furthermore, later in Ramallah, the PA chairman said his hopes were for a Palestinian ‘Arab Spring’ uprising against Israel.… Given the Palestinians’ implacable intransigence when it comes to concessions, who could ever take seriously the idea that PA representatives would ever entertain the thought of conceding a single grain of sand to Israel in exchange for a secure peace? In this arena of the undefined, Netanyahu’s statement that the UN is the ‘theater of the absurd’ sounds like an accurate appraisal of the entire exercise.”—Executive editor of Friends of Israel, Elwood McQuaid, in “Chasing Arafat’s Dream,” describing PA president Mahmoud Abbas’ ideological opposition to Israel’s existence, a philosophy formerly espoused by his mentor and predecessor, Yasser Arafat. (Jerusalem Magazine, September 28.)
“Hamas was using the so-called Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement as a vehicle to raise its profile in the West Bank. Hamas’s strategy is to replace the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.… The public atmosphere to Hamas is much more lenient. This allows for the creation of operational terror cells. Hamas is taking into consideration the renewal of suicide bombing attacks.”—Col. (res.) Jonathan Fighel, a senior Israeli counterterrorism expert, confirming that Hamas is “gaining influence in the West Bank and acting more freely,” a situation which the terrorist organization may exploit to resume suicide bombings against Israel. (Jerusalem Post, September 13.)
“Same heart and same values. And that I say with great appreciation for your stance and your conviction, for your friendship.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a joint press conference held on the sidelines of the UN general Assembly, thanking Prime Minister Stephen Harper for Canada’s ongoing, steadfast support for Israel. (Globe & Mail, September 21.)
“If we don’t succeed today to reach a negotiation with the Iranians, there is a strong risk of military action.”—French Ambassador to the United Nations, Gerard Araud, warning of military action against Iranian nuclear facilities, as “some countries won’t accept [the] prospect” of the Islamic Republic surpassing the nuclear threshold. (Jerusalem Post, September 28.)
“[Israel] says that Palestine is bombing [it] and that many Israelis have been killed. I would like to see accurate statistics on how many Israelis have been killed by the bombs thrown by Palestinians or by the rockets that were launched by them—10? 20? 100? 200?… But on the other hand we know that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been killed [by Israel].… These are very clear numbers.”—Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a CNN interview, minimizing Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians, and calling on Israel to “Please document [the number of deaths] and let us know!” In a shocking reference to the Holocaust, the Turkish prime minister also accused “Israeli[s of] always resorting back to the issue of genocide in history—they are always acting as if they are the victims.… But neither Turkey nor the Muslims in the region…have ever exerted such cruelty on Israel, but Israel is very cruel in that regard. It shows no mercy.”
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rebuked Erdogan’s statements, saying the “charges against Israel that have nothing to do with the facts.…The Holocaust was the worst crime in history perpetuated against our people. To hear this allegation at the beginning of the 21st century…is outrageous.” Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, also weighed in, calling Erdogan’s administration “a radical Islamic extremist leadership that supports and develops terror.” Lieberman also mocked Erdogan’s accusations, affirming that “ [Erdogan’s performance] was great for us. If I wanted to improve Israeli hasbara [public diplomacy], I would buy media outlets around the world and have Erdogan talk from morning until night.” (Jerusalem Post, September 24 & 26.)
“[Hugo Boss] wishes to express its profound regret to those who suffered harm or hardship at the factory run by Hugo Ferdinand Boss under National Socialist rule.”—Statement issued by fashion company Hugo Boss, apologizing to those mistreated by the company in the process of making uniforms for the Nazi party, following revelations in a new book that Hugo Ferdinand Boss’ clothing factory in the southern German town of Metzingen employed forced laborers during WWII. Hugo Boss has in the past been referred to as “Hitler’s Tailor.” (Jerusalem Post, September 22.)
“Dear President Yudof: We…are deeply distressed by the harassment and intimidation of Jewish students on many University of California campuses. On June 28, 2010, twelve Jewish organizations wrote to you to urge you…address this serious problem. In your reply, you urged Jewish leaders to be patient and have faith in the ability of the newly-established Advisory Councils on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion to address the problem. However it has been over a year, and the Advisory Councils have recommended no policies and issued no public statements informing the UC community about the problem of anti-Semitism or how it will be addressed.… There is now a lawsuit pending against UC Berkeley, from a Jewish student who was physically assaulted by a Muslim student on that campus. Her lawsuit alleges that the administration over the years did not effectively deal with anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation by Muslim and anti-Israel student groups, leading to a ‘dangerous and threatening’ environment for Jewish students. Further, a faculty member at UC Santa Cruz has filed a federal complaint alleging that faculty and administrators on that campus have misused their official university positions to promote a virulently anti-Israel political agenda that has created a hostile environment for many Jewish students.… Now we, as Jewish community members, urge you to address this problem effectively and promptly.…”—Letter written by Leila Beckwith, Professor Emeritus, University of California at Los Angeles and Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, Lecturer, University of California at Santa Cruz, to Mark G. Yudof, President of the University of California, condemning the University for failing to address the issue of anti-Semitism of campus, and demanding that “members and supporters of the California Jewish community…be given a timeline of when substantive measures to address the problem of the harassment and intimidation of Jewish students will be taken on UC campuses.” (September 19.)
“Another year has passed and Gilad is still not with us.… They sent him on a mission almost 2000 days ago, and they haven’t found a way to return him.”—Noam Schalit, father of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, telling Israel Radio that the Schalit family will spend the eve of the Jewish New Year in their Jerusalem protest tent, and calling on the Israeli government “to pay the price to bring [Gilad] home.” (Jerusalem Post, September 28.)
“This data demonstrates the continuing trend of rising aliya and the strengthening of Zionism.…”—Israel’s Minister of Immigrant Absorption, Sofa Landver, praising the approximately 21,300 Jews who immigrated to Israel during the Jewish year of 5771, a 19 percent increase over the previous year. (Jerusalem Post, September 22.)
PALESTINIANS STEPPING UP ANTI-ISRAEL BOYCOTT—(Jerusalem) A Fatah official and advisor to PA president Mahmoud Abbas has announced that the Palestinians are stepping up their boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against Israel. Sabri Saydam said that the Palestinians will embark on a campaign which aims to boycott all Israeli products, not just goods manufactured beyond the Green Line. The campaign will go even further than that, Saydam said: “We will increase pressure on Israeli academic institutions by demanding that universities worldwide…sever academic ties with Israeli institutions.” The Palestinians also plan to boost coordination with various worldwide anti-Israel bodies, which they hope may serve to pressure the UN Security Council into endorsing their statehood bid. (Ynet News, September 27.)
EGYPT SEIZES GAZA-BOUND ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILES IN SINAI—(Jerusalem) Egyptian security forces have seized anti-aircraft missiles and shoulder launchers in the Sinai Peninsula, reportedly destined for the Gaza Strip. According to officials, the weaponry entered Egypt either from Sudan or Libya. Last month, Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm alleged that Egyptian officials were finalizing plans to combat smuggling from the Sinai into Gaza, and Israel Radio reported the same week that Egypt’s army is planning to destroy all tunnels within 14 km. of the border. High-level Egyptian security sources also claim the country is considering establishing a 5-kilometer buffer zone along its border with the Gaza Strip, and that heavy excavation equipment had been moved to the border in order to destroy smuggling tunnels. (Jerusalem Post, September 26.)
VIRTUAL FENCE TO BE SET UP ON ISRAEL-EGYPT BORDER—(Jerusalem) A virtual fence that will aid in the detection and prevention of infiltration attempts will be set up on the Israel-Egypt border in the coming year. Magna Technologies has been entrusted with constructing the virtual fence, which will operate alongside the physical barrier currently being built along the same border. According to Magna, the main advantages of the virtual fence are its abilities to identify objects in a focused and detailed manner and to overcome false alarms. Military officials said last week that the construction of a physical barrier on the Israel-Egypt border will be completed by the end of 2012, rather than 2013 as originally planned. Forty-five kilometers of the barrier have been built over the past eight months and another 100 kilometers are scheduled to be built by the end of this year, leaving the 130 kilometers to be built in 2012. (Israel Defense Forces Website, August 28.)
EGYPT EXTENDS ALLEGED SPY GRAPEL’S REMAND BY 45 DAYS—(Jerusalem) According to Egyptian daily Al Ahram, an Egyptian court has ruled to extend the remand of alleged Mossad spy Ilan Grapel by 45 days, despite an appeal by the US embassy in Cairo that Grapel be released while the investigation was ongoing. Grapel was arrested at his downtown Cairo hotel by Egyptian state security officers in June on suspicion of working for Israeli intelligence to foment sectarian strife and gather intelligence on post-revolution Egypt. The Emory University Law student, and former IDF soldier, traveled to Egypt this summer as part of his work for a charity helping African refugees. The Israeli government categorically denies he was conducting espionage in Egypt. (Jerusalem Post, September 14.)
GOVERNMENT FORCES KILL PROTESTORS IN YEMEN—(San’a, Yemen)—Pro-government forces have killed nearly 50 protestors in two successive days of clashes in Yemen’s capital, as frustration builds over President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s refusal to step down after 33 years in power. Yemen’s protest movement last week stepped up demonstrations after Saleh deputized Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to negotiate further on a Gulf-mediated, U.S.-backed deal under which he would step down in return for immunity from prosecution. Saleh, who returned recently to Yemen from Saudi Arabia, has already backed away three times from signing the deal, thus many believe the move is the latest of many delaying tactics. (Wall Street Journal, September 19.)
US COURT: STUDENTS GUILTY OF DISRUPTING ISRAELI ENVOY—(Jerusalem) The Orange County Superior Court has found 10 Muslim students guilty of disrupting a lecture by Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, at the University of California, Irvine in February 2010. The students were charged with misdemeanor counts after standing up, one by one, and shouting prepared statements at Oren during his speech, including “propagating murder is not an expression of free speech.” Prosecutors say the students broke the law by interrupting the program, despite calls to behave from campus officials. (Ynet news, September 24.)
DIOR DESIGNER GUILTY OF ANTI-SEMITIC SLURS—(Paris) A French court has handed out a $6,000 (Euros) suspended fine to disgraced fashion designer John Galliano after finding him guilty of anti-Semitic behaviour, including shouting “I love Hitler” at a Paris bar earlier this year. The court explained its relatively lenient decision by referring to Galliano’s lack of criminal record and the treatment for drug and alcohol addiction he has sought since his arrest. (Reuters, September 9.)
MONTENEGRO TO MAKE JUDAISM AN OFFICIAL STATE RELIGION—(Jerusalem) Montenegro’s Prime Minister Igor Luksic has announced that his country will recognize Judaism as a state religion. During a meeting held with Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, Luksic said the Jewish faith will receive the same legal status as Roman Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity and Islam. There are only a handful of Jews living in the Montenegro but state officials are hoping that elevating Judaism’s status will encourage interest and investment in Montenegro from Jews around the world. (Jerusalem Post, September 18.)
ISRAEL PLEDGES $1 MILLION TO AUSCHWITZ—(Jerusalem) Israel has pledged $1 million to help preserve Auschwitz; an additional $162 million is currently being raised to create a perpetual fund to pay for ongoing maintenance work at the site of the former Nazi death camp in Poland. About two-thirds of the money already has already been pledged, including $15 million from the United States, $80 million from Germany and $13 million from Poland. Some 1 million Jews were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau between 1940 and 1945. Approximately 1 million people visit the memorial site each year. (JTA, September 25.)