Passover – We Have Reason to Rejoice: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 9, 2017 — Tonight, most Israelis, secular as well as observant, will celebrate Passover, the festival of freedom in which we recount our life of slavery and exodus from Egypt and how we became a nation.
Passover Guide for the Perplexed, 2017: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Apr. 9, 2017 — 1. According to Heinrich Heine, the 19th century German poet, “Since the Exodus, freedom has always spoken with a Hebrew accent.”
Assad Had Every Reason to Believe he Would Get Away with Another Chemical Attack. But Trump Surprised Him: Michael Petrou, National Post, Apr. 7, 2017 — “The United States, they play with us, and they lie to us,” Mohammad Gohoul said this February as he sat on the floor of an apartment in Gaziantep, Turkey, where he now lives as a refuge after fleeing Syria and the tortures he endured there.
Did Putin Get the Message?: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Apr. 8, 2017 — After the Trump administration's strike on the Shayrat airfield Thursday, lawmakers, analysts, and the press are asking if the White House has a next move.
Exodus – The Secret of Our Nationhood: Dr. Michael Laitman, Breaking Israel News, Apr. 9, 2017
Tillerson, McMaster, Blame Russia for US Attack on Syria: Jewish Press, Apr. 7, 2017
What Can We Expect in Wake of Syria Chemical Attack?: Clarion Project, Apr. 9, 2017
On Moral Rearmament of the West: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Apr. 8, 2017
Isi Leibler Jerusalem Post, Apr. 9, 2017
Tonight, most Israelis, secular as well as observant, will celebrate Passover, the festival of freedom in which we recount our life of slavery and exodus from Egypt and how we became a nation. The Haggada that we read at the Passover Seder also carries a universal theme of human rights but its focus is the Jewish People, stressing our shared past and our aspirations for a renewal of Jewish sovereignty during 2,000 years of harrowing exile, endless persecutions, expulsion and attempted genocide.
We read in the Haggada that “in every generation they rise against us to destroy us. But the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from them.” We appeal to the Almighty to “pour out Thy wrath” against the wicked and destroy them. The Haggada recounts the Egyptians’ pattern of Jew-hatred: they envied the prosperity of their Jewish minority, enslaved and ultimately engaged in genocide with Pharaoh’s decree to drown all newborn Jewish males. This pattern has recurred throughout the generations as we faced successive enemies: the pagans, the church, secular racist Jew-haters, Nazis and communists. And today there is a global tsunami of antisemitism, especially in Europe where Jews are being transformed into pariahs.
The current threat emanates from the bizarre combination of Islamists and radical leftists, who are renewing the vicious antisemitic propaganda of the 1930s that was a precursor to the Holocaust. In its current manifestation, it is also directed against the Jewish national homeland – the only nation-state in the world whose right to exist is under threat. It is horrifying to observe the culture of death and destruction in the Middle East, the barbaric bloodbaths and millions of civilians displaced from their homes. When we witness the Iranian leaders repeatedly proclaiming their genocidal objectives, we are instinctively reminded of Amalek.
But on Passover, we give thanks to the Almighty and rejoice that our days of powerlessness belong to the past and that we are now strong enough to deter and if necessary overcome the combined forces of all our adversaries. Today we have a State of Israel that provides a haven to all Jews wishing to settle in the Jewish homeland. Other elements in the Haggada resonate with different issues facing us today. Ha Lachma Anya (the bread of affliction) reminds us not to be complacent and to be concerned about the poor and needy and of the scandal of the neglected elderly Holocaust survivors who have been denied the minimum material support to enable them to live out their few remaining years in dignity.
A discussion of the Four Sons can relate to the identity challenges facing Israelis and Diaspora Jews. The chacham, the wise son, is the committed Jew. The tam, the simple son, and she’eino yodea lishol, the one who does not know to ask, are the products of assimilation and loss of Jewish identity. This includes those deprived of a Jewish education by their parents, or those who are apathetic, lazy and unsophisticated, with no desire to acquaint themselves with their Jewish heritage. Ultimately, many become indifferent and disappear. The rasha, the wicked son, symbolizes those Jews who vilify their people. In the contemporary context, this includes Jews engaged in public efforts to undermine Israel, those supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and those allying themselves with our enemies against the Jewish state. Alas, of late, several prominent American Jewish leaders have joined this category.
In Israel, their counterparts are those who seek to transform Israel from a Jewish state to a state of all its citizens or who promote the false narrative of those seeking our destruction. The Haggada poses problems for secular humanist interpretations of history because reason alone cannot explain the unprecedented events associated with our ongoing national renaissance. If one objectively reviews our status, the host of fortuitous “coincidences” that we have witnessed since the rebirth of a Jewish state, there is a strong case to consider that our survival and thriving existence after 2,000 years of dispersion is no less miraculous than the exodus from Egypt.
The greatest miracle was the reestablishment of a Jewish state, which rose like a phoenix from the ashes of the Holocaust, when at the United Nations, during the height of the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Union for the first time voted together in favor of the creation of a Jewish state. Subsequently, the fledgling state, against all odds, defeated the combined forces of surrounding Arab states, which was later followed with the miracle of the Six Day War.
Another miracle key to Israel’s survival has been kibbutz galuyot – the ingathering of the exiles – in which Jews from all corners of the world, from the former Soviet Union to Ethiopia, made aliya, swelling Israel’s Jewish population from 600,0000 in 1948 to over six million today. Israel has successfully integrated new immigrants, molding them into a vibrant nation in which ancient Hebrew was revived as a living language. We have benefited from a mass aliya which ensued from the extraordinary liberation of Soviet Jewry, spearheaded by a few hundred assimilated Jews who courageously triumphed against the most powerful totalitarian country in the world…
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Jewish Press, Apr. 9, 2017
1. According to Heinrich Heine, the 19th century German poet, “Since the Exodus, freedom has always spoken with a Hebrew accent.”
2. Moses’ “Let my people go” paved the road to the Exodus. In 1850, it became a code song for black slaves, who were freed by Harriet Tubman’s (“Mama Moses”) “Underground Railroad.” Paul Robeson and Louis Armstrong enhanced its popularity through the lyrics: “When Israel was Egypt’s land, let my people go! Oppressed so hard they could not stand, let my people go! Go down Moses, way down in Egypt’s land; tell old Pharaoh to let my people go….!” On December 11, 1964, upon accepting the Nobel Prize, Martin Luther King, Jr., “the Moses of his age”, said: “The Bible tells the thrilling story of how Moses stood in Pharaoh’s court centuries ago and cried, ‘Let my people go!’”
3. The Exodus has been an integral part of the American story since the landing of the 17th century early Pilgrims, who considered themselves “the people of the modern day Exodus,” who departed from “the modern day Egypt” (Britain), rebelled against “the modern day Pharaoh,” (King James I and King Charles I), crossed “the modern day Red Sea” (the Atlantic Ocean) and headed toward “the modern day Promised Land” (America). Hence, the abundance of US sites bearing Biblical names, such as Jerusalem, Salem (the original name of Jerusalem), Bethel, Shiloh, Ephrata’, Tekoa’, Bethlehem, Moriah, Zion, etc.
4. The Exodus is mentioned 50 times in the Torah, equal to the 50 years of the Jubilee – the Biblical symbol of liberty – which is featured on the Liberty Bell (installed in 1751 – the 50th anniversary of William Penn’s Charter of Privileges): “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof (Leviticus, 25:10).” Moses received the Torah – which includes 50 gates of wisdom – 50 days following the Exodus, as celebrated by the Shavou’ot/Pentecost Holiday. And, there are 50 States in the United States, whose Hebrew name is ארצות הברית, the States of the Covenant.
5. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense – “the cement of the Revolution” – referred to King George as “the hardened, sullen-tempered Pharaoh of England.” John Adams and Thomas Jefferson – the 2nd and 3rd US presidents – and Benjamin Franklin, proposed the Parting of the Sea as the official US seal. The proposal was tabled, but the chosen seal features thirteen stars (colonies), above the Eagle, in the shape of a Star of David. Ezra Stiles, the President of Yale University – which features on its shield “Urim and Thummim,” the power of the High Priest during the Exodus – stated on May 8, 1873: “Moses, the man of God, assembled three million people, the number of people in America in 1776.” Theodore White wrote in The Making of the President 1960: “It is as if Kennedy, a younger Moses, had led an elderly Joshua [LBJ] to the height of Mount Nebo…and there shown him the Promised Land which he himself would never be entering, but which Joshua would make his own.” In 2017, the bust of Moses faces the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and eight statues and engravings of Moses and the Tablets are featured in the US Supreme Court.
6. A documentation of the Exodus – which took place in the second half of the 15th century BCE, during the reign of Egypt’s Amenhotep II – was provided by the late Prof. Yehudah Elitzur, one of Israel’s pioneers of Biblical research. Accordingly, the 40-year national coalescing of the Jewish people – while wandering in the desert – took place when Egypt was ruled by Thutmose IV. Joshua conquered Canaan when Egypt was ruled by Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV, who were preoccupied with domestic affairs, refraining from expansionist operations. Moreover, letters which were discovered in Tel el Amarna, the capital city of ancient Egypt, documented that the 14th century BCE Pharaoh, Amenhotep IV, was informed by the rulers of Jerusalem, Samaria and other parts of Canaan, about a military offensive launched by the “Habirus” (Hebrews and other Semitic tribes), which corresponded to the timing of Joshua’s offensive against the same rulers. Amenhotep IV was a determined reformer, who introduced monotheism, possibly influenced by the nationally and religiously game-changing Exodus. Further documentation of the Exodus is provided by Dr. Joshua Berman of Bar Ilan University.
7. Passover is the oldest Jewish national liberation holiday, highlighting the mutually-inclusive aspects of Judaism: religion, nationality, culture/morality, language and history. Passover highlights individual and national liberty and optimism, which have played a critical role in preserving Judaism, Jews and the yearning to reconstruct the Jewish Homeland, in defiance of the 40 years in the desert and the 2,500 year of exile, destruction, pogroms, the Holocaust, boycotts, wars, terrorism and anti-Semitism.
8. Passover stipulates that human rejuvenation – just like the rejuvenation of nature – must be driven by roots/memory/history. Therefore, parents are instructed to educate their children about the lessons of Passover. Passover was an early edition of the 19th century Spring of Nations. It is celebrated in the spring, the bud of nature. Spring is mentioned 3 times in the Torah, all in reference to the Exodus. Passover – which commemorates the creation of the Jewish nation – lasts seven days, just like the creation of the universe.
9. Passover’s centrality in Judaism is highlighted by the first of the Ten Commandments: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” The Passover ethos is included in daily Jewish prayers, Shabbat and holiday prayers, the blessing over the wine, the blessing upon circumcision, the prayer fixed in the Mezuzah (doorpost) and in the annual family retelling of the Exodus on the eve of Passover. Passover symbolizes the unity of – and interdependence between – the People of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the Land of Israel…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
National Post, Apr. 7, 2017
“The United States, they play with us, and they lie to us,” Mohammad Gohoul said this February as he sat on the floor of an apartment in Gaziantep, Turkey, where he now lives as a refuge after fleeing Syria and the tortures he endured there. Gohoul took part in the demonstrations against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad that broke out in 2011. He says he wanted Syrians to live in a democracy. “We would go to Western embassies and leave flowers there,” he says, a gesture of admiration and a request for support.
Assad met these protests with deadly force. Gohoul was arrested. In his Gaziantep apartment, he showed how he was blindfolded and his hands were bound while he was beaten and shocked with electricity. “For nine months, I didn’t see the sun,” he said. After his release, he went to opposition-held Aleppo and then came to Turkey when Aleppo fell to the Syrian regime late last year. When Gohoul and other Syrians speak of America’s “lies” and games, they refer to an August 2011 statement made by then-U.S. President Barack Obama that Assad should step aside, which wasn’t followed by any steps to make that happen, and especially to Obama’s “red line” comments on the use of chemical weapons.
Such an event, Obama said in 2012, would change his “calculus” regarding military engagement in Syria. But when Assad’s regime launched a sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta the following year, killing some 1,400 civilians, Obama famously backed away from retaliation. Instead, he agreed to a Russian-brokered deal that was supposed to have resulted in Syria giving up its chemical weapons stockpiles. The utter failure of Obama’s decision has been exposed with horrific results by this week’s poison gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun in northern Syria. More than 80 people were killed, including at least 27 children.
Assad had every reason to believe he would get away with it. The current American president, Donald Trump, made his isolationist bent explicitly clear shortly after the Ghouta chemical weapons attack and while Obama was still president: “We should stop talking, stay out of Syria and other countries that hate us, rebuild our own country and make it strong and great again-USA!” he tweeted in 2013. And just last week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Assad’s rule was a “political reality that we have to accept.” Assad, it seemed, could count on U.S. ambivalence regardless of his crimes.
Instead, Trump surprised the world. The 59 cruise missiles he ordered launched at the Shayrat Airfield, from where America believes the chemical weapons attack originated, represent a stark policy reversal for the U.S. president. It is one for which he deserves credit. It is worth underlining that while Obama publicly sought to rebuild America’s relations with the “Muslim world,” he did little while Syria was torn asunder, and while Assad brought death to hundreds of thousands of its citizens. It is Trump, for all his Muslim-bashing nativism, who has finally deployed American military force against the most prolific murderer in that country.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland delivered an awkwardly worded statement yesterday in which she said Assad’s chemical attack “raises grave questions” about the possibility of working with his regime. But Prime Minister Trudeau — also to his credit — has said Canada “fully supports” the American airstrikes. That statement puts Canada alongside many American allies, including its traditional Sunni Muslim ones in the Middle East, such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which had been disappointed by Obama’s decision not to strike Syria four years ago. Trump’s decision will go some way toward improving those strained ties…
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Weekly Standard, Apr. 8, 2017
After the Trump administration's strike on the Shayrat airfield Thursday, lawmakers, analysts, and the press are asking if the White House has a next move. Certainly it was important to signal that the use of chemical weapons is something the United States could not tolerate. As President Trump explained Thursday, it is a "vital national security of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons." That is, the Trump administration enforced the redline against the use of chemical weapons that the previous White House ignored. Further, by citing the possible "spread" of those unconventional arms, Trump was alluding to the organization that is the likeliest recipient of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal—Hezbollah, Iran's praetorian guard in the eastern Mediterranean.
Thus the strike underscored that the Trump administration's understanding of the Syrian conflict is broader than that of its predecessor. Where the Obama White House limited its focus in the Syrian arena to an anti-ISIS campaign, Trump struck a blow against the Iranian axis. Tehran and its allies are no longer dealing with an American president eager to strike a bargain with them. The new White House has put Iranian ally Bashar al-Assad on notice. However, the 59 tomahawk missiles launched at Shayrat is perhaps best understood as a message to Russia.
The White House acted less than 48 hours after receiving intelligence regarding Tuesday's chemical weapons attack. The Trump White House knew immediately who was behind the attack and named names—Syrian government forces. The Russians were putting out a different story. They claimed that Jabhat al-Nusra had a chemical weapons factory in Khan Shaykun and that a strike with attack helicopters created the plume that killed civilians on Tuesday.
"We know from our ability to monitor that this story was false," a senior administration official told the Weekly Standard. "The aircraft that flew from Shayrat airbase to Khan Shaykun were tracked. Furthermore, no group like Nusra has ever had ever had the ability to make Sarin in Syria. To weaponize Sarin is quite a sophisticated thing. Opposition groups have not shown that they have that ability, but the Assad regime does." Presumably, the American government had access to the same intelligence resources when Assad previously used chemical weapons. However, the Obama administration's standard response was to ignore intelligence regarding the use of Syria's unconventional arsenal and avoid or downplay attribution of responsibility.
For instance, when Israeli intelligence showed in April 2013 who was responsible for gassing men, women, and children,a Pentagon official contended that "the use of chemical weapons in an environment like Syria is very difficult to confirm." When Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Washington in May 2013 and brought evidence of the attacks and intelligence regarding who conducted and ordered them, President Obama said that he needed "specific information about what exactly is happening there." Thus, there should have been little surprise when Obama decided not to strike Assad regime targets in September 2013 to enforce the American redline against the use of chemical weapons. Obama had shown repeatedly that he resisted blaming Assad for deploying chemical weapons—punishing him for it was almost unimaginable.
However, Obama's failure to act is not because of what Trump White House officials like Sean Spicer are calling his "weakness." No, the previous president brushed aside intelligence and then walked back military force because he believed that an attack on Assad was likely to crash his signature foreign policy initiative, the nuclear agreement with Iran. The Iran deal shaped both Syria policy (an anti-ISIS campaign predicated on leaving Assad untouched) and the Obama administration's larger Middle East strategy, a realignment with Iran. Obama downgraded traditional allies like Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and NATO member Turkey, while upgrading the Iranians, and opening wide a window of opportunity for Russia, grateful to once again be a player in the Middle East, after a forty-year absence.
Thursday's operation should be seen as part of a broader effort to rebalance America's regional interests in opposition to the Iranian axis and Russia. The tomahawk strikes were the big news of the week, overshadowing the fact that the new White House welcomed the leaders of two traditional American regional allies—Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and King Abdullah of Jordan. Sisi was treated as a leper by the Obama administration, and Abdullah sidelined. If the Jordanian king was concerned about the presence of Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia on his border, the Obama White House told him to take his concerns to Moscow, where Sisi also visited hat in hand. They had no choice—the Obama administration was not interested in protecting the regional security architecture the United States had built over 70 years…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Chag Sameach!
No Daily Briefing Will Be Published on Tuesday, Apr. 10
Exodus – The Secret of Our Nationhood: Dr. Michael Laitman, Breaking Israel News, Apr. 9, 2017—Each Passover, we focus our attention on the historic struggle between Moses and Pharaoh, and the enslavement of the Hebrews. Yet, the story of our people in Egypt is more than a collective memory; it is an accurate depiction of our current situation.
Tillerson, McMaster, Blame Russia for US Attack on Syria: Jewish Press, Apr. 7, 2017—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Director H. R. McMaster on Thursday held a press conference to review the sudden change in US policy regarding Syria, pinning the responsibility for the nerve gas attack against Syrian civilians on President Bashar al-Assad’s chief enabler, the Russian government.
What Can We Expect in Wake of Syria Chemical Attack? (Video): Clarion Project, Apr. 9, 2017
On Moral Rearmament of the West: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Apr. 8, 2017— According to an in-depth survey published last week in Israel Hayom, Israeli youth believe deeply and optimistically in the future of this country. 85% of Israeli kids in grades 11 and 12 love the country. 89% plan to stay here, no matter what. 85% think that the IDF is the most moral army in the world. 65% say it would be worthy to die for country, if necessary. 63% feel that social solidarity, volunteerism, and family values are what make Israel great.