Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Column One -- Our World: Is America abandoning the fight?

Caroline Glick from the Jerusalem Post has written another humdinger. I've been remiss in not blogging her columns more. Longtime readers of this site know how much I admire her writing. This is another important one.

The top story in Sunday's Washington Post reported that the Bush administration is revising its counter-terrorism strategy.
Judging from US actions over the past several weeks, it would seem that in his second term in office, US President George W. Bush and his administration have transformed their activist policy from the first term into one best characterized by speaking loudly and carrying no stick.

This can be observed by our treatment recently of Abu Mazen, Saudi Arabia and of course -- Iran.

On Thursday the US allowed Iran to begin negotiations toward joining the World Trade Organization." This concession was made apparently as a quid pro quo in exchange for an Iranian promise to suspend uranium enrichment activities until the end of July.

And we know how much a promise from the Iranian government is worth, right? Glick fears that the US's light stance on Iran is because we don't want to rock the boat in Iran prior to the elections. Sadly, the frontrunner appears to be former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Speaking of what awaits the world under a repeat Rafsanjani presidency last Friday Hojatolislam Gholam Hasani, a representative of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told worshipers at a mosque: "You need to vote for Rafsanjani. This way we will finally be able to have for ourselves the atomic bomb to fairly stand up to Israeli weapons." According to a report by Adnkronos news agency, Hasani continued, "Freedom, democracy and stupidities of this type cannot be carried over to any part, and these concepts are out of sync with the principles of Islam. Islam always spoke with the sword in the hand, and I don't see why now we should change attitudes and talk with other civilizations."

Can't get much clearer than that now, can he? I find that surprisingly enough, people in that part of the world actually do make their intentions quite clear -- it seems to be us who are in denial about what their words mean with our apologists and politicians tripping over themselves to stick up for these militant and lethal losers.

She then goes on to tackle Saudi Arabia, especially in the wake of the King's possible passing.

During Abdullah's visit last month at Bush's ranch in Crawford, the only issue on the table from the US side was the price of oil. Democracy, human rights and Saudi support for terror and the insurgency in Iraq were all ignored. Bush made no mention of the fact that one of the members of Abdullah's entourage was barred from entering the US because of his presence on the terror watch list, or of the fact that Saudi authorities rounded up some 40 Christians in the weeks before Abdullah's visit for the crime of practicing Christianity in a private home.

In its dealings with the Saudis, the Americans apparently feel that they are between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, Saudi oil profits finance global jihad. On the other hand, with the world's largest known petroleum reserves, the Saudis exert enormous power over the global economy. If the US presses too hard on Saudi support for terrorism, they can shut down the wells and raise oil prices from their current $50 per barrel to $100 per barrel, plunging the world into a global depression.

Yep, that's a definite hard place. So what's a democracy-seeking country to do? Glick offers up a possibility.

Yet according to the Set America Free Coalition – an unprecedented alliance made up of senior US security experts, labor unions and environmentalist groups – if the US wished it could, for the mere cost of $12 billion over the next four years, move rapidly to end its dependency on foreign oil by developing alternatives to fossil fuel like ethanol and methanol and subsidizing hybrid cars that run on a mix of oil and electricity. The fact that to date, the Bush administration's energy policy involves securing its access to foreign oil, building more refineries and drilling in Alaska, shows clearly that the president and his advisers have yet to decide to deal with Saudi Arabia in a serious manner.

Sadly, she has a point. I don't understand why Bush won't do this. Glick then moves on to Abu Mazen's recent trip to the US.

From the Palestinians' perspective, PA chief Mahmoud Abbas's visit to the White House last week was an unvarnished success. In expanding the responsibilities of US security coordinator to the PA General William Ward to include coordinating Israeli and Palestinian talks on the withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria, the US all but said that it views Israel and the PA as equals and the US role as referee.

Bush reportedly told Abbas that if he rounds up wanted terrorists, the US will force Israel to uproot all unauthorized Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria immediately after Israel throws 10,000 of its citizens out of their homes in Gaza and northern Samaria this summer. The administration is now even backing a PA initiative to bring 1,500 terrorists from Jordan – otherwise known as the Badr Brigade from the Palestine Liberation Army – into Judea and Samaria. All this the US is doing in spite of the fact that Abbas has done nothing to thwart or combat terrorists since taking office. To the contrary, rather than outlaw Hamas he has upgraded it to the status of political party.

Sounds like a freakin' mess to me. Is this really what's happening?

A revised US strategy toward fighting global jihad that placed in the crosshairs the regimes that indoctrinate hundreds of millions of people to believe in jihad would be a welcome policy development. And yet, from the Bush administration's actions on the ground from Teheran to Riyadh to Ramallah, it seems that rather than placing these terror regimes in the crosshairs, the president and his advisers are strengthening them. If this is the case, then Israel is in for one of the toughest periods in its history.

They aren't the only ones.

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Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

U.S. Marine detachment from Annapolis, Maryland assists the 3rd Infantry Old Guard in placing some 290,000 flags at each headstone in preparation for Memorial Day (last year) at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

A sincere thank you for all you do to keep us safe and free.

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The Sad Truth

Hat tip to my friend Jerry, via his friend Mike. This is an excellent article that lays it all out. What you ask? It lays out plain what could end up being one of the worst betrayals the US has ever committed -- against their greatest friend and ally -- Israel.

Father, Forgive Them... by Gerald A. Honigman

For they know full well what they do.

Borrowing and modifying a passage from at least one of the Christian Gospels' versions as to what Jesus' last words were on the cross, we can, unfortunately, better understand what is happening to Israel today.

For Jews, Israel--collectively, the Jewish people--has been the suffering servant of the Bible...one of the areas of disagreement with our Christian brothers. Given this, please to allow me to proceed...

Once again, the Jew of the Nations, Israel, is on the verge of being forced to become the perpetually suffering servant of Jewish history--and this time largely at the hands of its alleged friends.

No one in the State Department or in the White House can claim ignorance about the extreme dangers that they are setting Israel up for. Arab intentions are well known...even those of the so-called "moderates."

Their darling, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, got elected running on a widely-announced platform for Israel's destruction--but by other "more legitimate" means. He consistently still demands, for example, that Israel accept the "right of return" of millions of alleged Arab refugees so that the sole miniscule state of the Jews will be overwhelmed by Arabs who have been raised on homicidal Jew-hatred.

Blown buses bring bad press--so better to destroy Israel "democratically." These are the moderate, Holocaust-denying Abbas' own words.

And Dubya and the Foggy Folks know this well...

As they know that Abbas and his fellow Arafatians have repeatedly called any negotiations with the Jews a Trojan Horse, designed to win back diplomatically what Arab arms have not been able to accomplish on the battlefield. Diplomacy as war by other means, the Arabs well known, post-'67 destruction in phases plan...which American officials also know quite well.

Abbas, like Arafat, offers only a temporary hudna--a ceasefire--(or less) in return for Israel being forced to return to its 1949, United Nations-imposed, 9-mile wide armistice line--not border--existence. Those lines were imposed after six Arab nations invaded a reborn Israel in 1948.

As would become the pattern in later wars as well, the UN did nothing to stop the Arabs' initial aggression, but intervened only when the Jews managed to turn the tide. The UN then stepped in to limit Arab losses. That's how Israel gained its rump state status.

Abbas refuses to confront Hamas and others who openly call for Israel's destruction and has promised to integrate terrorists who specialize in disemboweling Jewish babes and grandmas into his armed forces. Going down this same road before, Israeli soldiers were previously murdered by their similar Arab security "partners."

And Dubya and the Foggy Folks know this well too, as they are aware that a quick visit to any of Abbas' Palestinian Authority's websites, maps, textbooks, schools, television or radio programs, mosques, and such will show that the 22nd Arab state that they intend to create--and second, not first, Arab one created within the original 1920 borders of "Palestine (Jordan created on 80% of the total area)--expects to replace the sole state of the Jews, not live side by side with it.

So, the consequences of what Dubya & Co. are now demanding of Israel--they get quite upset when folks remind them of the obvious analogy with Czechoslovakia, Chamberlain, Munich, Hitler, and the Sudetenland in 1938--fit squarely on their own shoulders.

They know all too well what they do...

Other "friends" sold out that earlier brave democracy to its enemies for at least some disturbingly similar reasons. But how dare those who fear another Munich-style sellout of Israel bring such things up!

On the balance sheet of relative justice regarding distribution of land in the Middle East and North Africa after the collapse of the four century old Ottoman Turkish Empire, it must be repeated time and time again--no matter how upsetting this necessary repetition is to some--that what was to become purely Arab Jordan was indeed created in 1922 out of the original April 25, 1920 borders of the Palestinian Mandate as a gift from the British to their Hashemite Arab allies in World War I. So Arabs have held the lion's share of "Palestine" for three quarters of a century. Most of the almost two dozen states that Arabs already call their own, on over six million square miles of territory, were conquered and forcibly Arabized from millions of non-Arab peoples in the region...Berbers, Kurds, Copts, Black Africans, and so forth. And for every Arab who fled the fighting that Arabs started, there was a Jew from so-called "Arab" lands who fled in the opposite direction. Etc., etc., and so forth.

After Israel was blockaded (a casus belli), became the victim of other hostile acts, and was once again forced to fight a war for its very existence in 1967, it finally became obvious to many that it should not be forced to return to its extremely vulnerable, pre-'67, 9-mile wide, rump state status so that Arabs could get the first part of all that they want in what was left of "Palestine" after the creation of Jordan. As we have seen, for even the so-called "moderates," all of Israel proper is still the openly admitted second part of this wish list.

After much debate, the final draft of United Nations' Security Council Resolution # 242 was passed, specifically did not call for a total Israeli withdrawal to the fragile '49 armistice lines, and called instead for the creation of "secure and recognized" borders to replace those lines.

During a rare, potentially pregnant moment in terms of Arab-Israeli politics, Dubya, back in April 2004, came close to saying the same thing.

Unfortunately, our born-again President now seems to endorse an abortion of that pregnancy.

By shedding the courage to stand by the explicit or implicit implications of his earlier statements, Dubya sets back, rather than enhances, the cause of peace between Arab and Jew in the Middle East. He renews Arab rejectionist dreams by insisting that the Jews remain forever vulnerable and exposed. The destruction in phases plans Arabs have had for Israel, ever since their pre-'67 plans for quick destruction proved a failure, are now proceeding nicely.

Recall that, standing next to Sharon, who became convinced--despite the many arguments that could be made against this--that a Gaza withdrawal was in Israel's best interests (along with some similar moves elsewhere), Dubya stated earlier, before the whole world, and during his run for reelection that Israel should not be expected to return to the '49 armistice lines (his own words) and should not be expected to be overwhelmed by an alleged "return" of millions of Arab refugees.

If Arabs finally understood that, as in other conflicts, a territorial compromise would have to be arrived at here as well, then perhaps--while still a long shot--they would finally get serious about ending their perpetual war with the Jews.

But that was before the November 2004 presidential election.

Unfortunately, Dubya now appears to have been playing some pre-election politics to solidify his key Evangelical supporters in what was forecasted to be a close election.

It worked. I voted for him this time...despite my trepidation over his polluting financiers and such.

But now that he has been reelected, and with little or nothing to lose since he can't run again, it seems that his family's huge oil ties, the influence of close family friend and former Secretary of State "_ _ _ _ the Jews they don't vote for us anyway" James Baker, and a heavily Arabist State Department are converging to sweep Israel's concerns under the rug.

These days, instead, we get a constant barrage of statements from both Dubya and his Secretary of State that Arab state #22 must be no bantustan and must have contiguity and such. Neither of them seem to care about what any of this means for the Jews. The call by Resolution# 242 that Israel's '49 armistice lines should be replaced with "secure and recognized borders" is never even mentioned any more.

How, for instance, will the miniscule, sole state of the Jews remain contiguous itself when Gaza is connected to Judea and Samaria (only recently in history renamed the "West Bank")? Look at a map and, if you can manage to find Israel without a magnifying glass, try connecting Gaza to the West Bank. Now see what this does to Israel. And this can be said regarding other areas as well.

So, when considered in light of the President's evident deliberate amnesia regarding the public letter he gave to Sharon in April 2004, which the latter then used to justify his unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, this amounts to nothing less than a sellout of his former position. And it completely nullifies Sharon's arguments as well.

There is to be no quid pro quo regarding Israel getting the protective buffer elsewhere envisioned by 242. And the Gaza withdrawal will indeed likely send the message that "terrorism works" (Lebanon II) and will serve only as a precedent for forced Israeli withdrawals elsewhere to the '49 Auschwitz lines.

Remember the ads Dubya ran against John Kerry for doing such things? But there he stood at the White House on May 26, 2005, next to Abbas, virtually--if not actually--flipflopping, and proclaiming to the entire world that the '49 armistice lines were the reference point for negotiations and that any deviation must have the approval of the Arabs themselves--those same Arabs whose "moderates" even still insist that Israel within the '49 lines must disappear. Big chance of Israel gaining any increased buffer separating it from those who seek to blow up its kids this way...

And Dubya and the Foggy Folks know all of this too.

This is the same guy who supposedly once noted that some Texas driveways were longer than the width of Israel at its waist, where most of its population and industry are located. And, again, keep in mind that for caving in to all that their would-be executioners ask for, all that the Jews can hope for in return is a temporary cease fire--a hudna--not peace.

The Arafatians have been quite honest about all of this.

They call their plans for the Jews the "Peace of the Quraysh," modeled after the temporary pause Muhammad allowed with that pagan tribe until he gained the strength to deal the final blow.

That the Foggy Folks expect this of the Jews is no shock. They opposed Israel's very right to exist from the get-go. But we were told that Dubya knew better.

Shame on any and all who would shove this down Israel's throat...no matter who they are. And shame on Israel's leaders if they cave into this as well. Many a red-blooded American heart is feeling anguish over these developments right now.

Shedding more crocodile tears, a la the Holocaust, and expressing sympathy over more dead and victimized Jews is not the ticket in a post-Auschwitz era.

Empathy for live ones is what's needed...not applying hypocritical double standards to the Jew of the Nations. But evidently this is too much to ask of even our own nations' leaders, let alone others.

Those who wage war and manipulate and topple governments and who have acquired territories thousands of miles away from home in the name of their own nations' security interests can't seem to figure out that Israel--surrounded by nations still sworn to its demise--also has some crucial security concerns that need to be taken far more seriously.

Returning to the New Testament of my Christian friends, the story is told of the Jesus being sold out for mere shekels of silver.

Jews now ask, what is the Suffering Servant--Israel--once again being sold out for...knowingly, and by those claiming to be friends.?

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Saturday, May 28, 2005

One AIPAC Summary

Larry Weinberg from Israel21c wrote an article about the AIPAC policy conference experience called Sharon changes course at AIPAC.

The annual AIPAC Policy Conference is an extraordinary event. I tell my friends here in America that for people passionate about Israel, the policy conference experience is the most exciting and satisfying thing you can do, that is, other than take an actual trip to Israel itself.

I met Larry at the dessert reception. His article is worth checking out -- especially since I'm still in too much of a jet-lag funk to write up my own summary.

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Friday, May 27, 2005

The Volunteering Experience in Israel

I will continue my AIPAC coverage shortly (I'm still feeling a bit jet-lagged) but in the meantime, I thought you all would enjoy reading about my friend Paul's most recent experience in Israel with Sar-el. We volunteered in Israel together two years ago, and he just got back from doing it again.

I just very recently returned from my sixth three-week stint with Sar-El. The experience was filled with emotion, adventure and excitement, equaling my previous visits to Israel. I keep wondering, when will this phenomenon of exhilaration wear off?

This time, I was posted to a small army base, just north of Haifa. There were a dozen volunteers in our group, all from USA and Canada. Nonetheless, we were a very diverse group. Our work assignments involved mostly vehicle maintenance and warehouse-related tasks.

Rather than sharing with you my own feelings, I think it would be more meaningful to share with you some of the journal entries of other volunteers from my group:

Karl from Long Island: "Why am I coming back again and again to the Land of Israel? Is it for the majestic scenery of Switzerland? Is it for the wide spaces of 'the Land of the Free'? Is it for the museums of France? Or the Fjords of Scandinavia? No! I'm coming to Israel to see the immense sands and rocks being transformed by a nation reborn! What a psychic high ---better than famous museums and landscapes. Thank you Sar-El and our madrichot for the opportunity of living and working with the Israelis, in spite of of the terrible continuous hardships they face!"

Ken from Toronto: "Israel did much more for me than I did for Israel during this wonderful experience with Sar-El."

Esther from Ontario: "In Israel I feel everyone around me is Family."

Helen from Arizona: "This has been one of the most exciting adventures of my entire lifetime. I do travel a lot, but this one beats them all."

Larry from Florida: "This is truly a lifetime experience. I've had a chance to visit Israel, my second country, and meet many wonderful people from all over the world."

I hope you find these comments interesting and inspirational. Shalom, Paul

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

More From AIPAC

Dennis Hastert has put his speech online here and made me work to find it. But for some reason I can't find Harry Reid or Bill Frist's speech. That doesn't thrill me. Are they late? Am I just missing it? I don't know. But Bill Frist's Op/Ed on doubling money we're giving the PA is already online, and that happened today! Hmm...

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AUT Boycott Rescinded

Way to go everyone for your efforts to accomplish this! Check it out here.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Condoleezza Rice -- In Full

You can read Condi's speech here.

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Ariel Sharon -- Part II

They put the speech up, so I'm including it below. I'm so glad I wasted my time scribbling notes on these speeches only to find most of them transcribed online--too funny. But this will be better for you to read than my shorthand attempts. So enjoy. Here you go.

I came here from Jerusalem, the eternal, united and undivided capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people forever and ever. And I would like to use the term "netzach netzachim" - more than forever and ever. I congratulate AIPAC for arranging this successful Policy Conference. It is my pleasure to join you in person and to close this incredible event at such a crucial time for the State of Israel.

Since its founding fifty-five years ago, AIPAC has proven a close friend to Israel. You actively promote issues that improve the bilateral relations between the United States and us. AIPAC’s continued support is more important now than ever before. We attach great importance to the strategic and friendly relationship we have with the United States, especially the current Administration. I want to thank AIPAC for contributing to this. You have done tremendous work in order that we will be able to reach this situation. Thank you for that.

Over a year ago, President Bush and I reached a series of understandings that will help guarantee the future of Israel and preserve Israel’s character and well being as a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders.

Last month I met with President Bush at his ranch in Crawford. During our meeting the President and I reconfirmed our understandings on strategic issues. Clearly, the relations between our two countries are stronger than ever before.

The strength of US-Israel relations is also visible in the unprecedented bi-partisan support Israel receives in the United States Congress and the public. We see eye to eye on strategic issues such as: the global war on terrorism, the need to reach a peaceful solution with the Palestinians according to the Roadmap, the threats to the stability of the Middle East from Syria, Lebanon, and Hizballah and the dangers of a nuclear Iran. Most importantly, Congress confirmed its dedication to Israel’s long-term interests by endorsing the principals of President Bush’s letter.

The Roadmap is the only political plan for a peaceful solution with the Palestinians. The sequence of the Roadmap states that progress will be in stages in order to examine developments. It emphasizes that true peace will only be realized after full security is achieved and terrorism is eliminated.

Over a year ago, in the absence of a Palestinian partner to implementing the Roadmap, I initiated the Disengagement Plan, which was approved by the Government of Israel and the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. Let there be no doubt - the Disengagement Plan will be implemented according to the timetable and the decisions authorized by the Government.

We believe disengagement will increase Israel’s security and reduce friction between the Palestinians and us. It will help advance our national strategic interests, promote our economy and prosperity and advance the development of the Negev and the Galilee.

It is thanks to the disengagement that we can make certain that there will be no entry of Palestinian refugees into Israel. In addition, the major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria will remain an integral part of the State of Israel and will have territorial contiguity with Israel in any final status agreement.

In addition to the understandings I reached with the President, since initiating the Disengagement Plan, it has gained the support of the international community and improved the status of Israel compared to a year ago.

In implementing the Disengagement Plan there is the potential of paving the way to the Roadmap. Though the decision of disengagement was taken unilaterally, Israel is willing to coordinate elements of the plan with the new leadership of the Palestinian Authority. I call upon the leaders of the Palestinian Authority to meet the challenge and coordinate the disengagement with us. The successful coordination of the Disengagement Plan will allow us to embark on a new era of trust and build our relations with the Palestinian Authority.

However, in this pre-Roadmap phase - and we are still in the pre-Roadmap phase - we see great opportunities in the election of Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. We hope he will be able to lead his people and create a democratic law-abiding society that will build its institutions, undergo a broad reform process, fight terrorism and dismantle the infrastructure and dismantle the terrorist organizations. Israel does not intend to lose this opportunity. We will do our utmost to cooperate with the new Palestinian leadership and will take the needed measures to help Chairman Abbas. We are willing to help Chairman Abbas as much as we can, as long as we do not risk our security. That is the red line.

After the election of Chairman Abbas, we reached with him understandings at the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit. Israel agreed to stop all military action in the West Bank and Gaza provided the Palestinians stop all violence and terrorist activities against all Israelis everywhere. And we have done several things: We have released five hundred prisoners. Upon my return to Israel I will present for government approval the release of an additional four hundred. Israel has transferred the security responsibility over two cities to the control of the Palestinian Authority and is willing to reassign more. We take steps that help the economic and humanitarian conditions of the Palestinian population. We are ready to do more.

I appreciate Chairman Abbas’ strategic decision to condemn violence and terrorism. With this approach he can be a partner in implementing the Roadmap and to move the process forward. But, his statements must be translated into real actions on the ground.

Until now, terrorist activities have not yet ceased. The smuggling of weapons and arms production continues, and there is no real prevention of terrorist actions. The progress towards the Roadmap can be achieved only after the terrorist organizations are dismantled. Appeasing the terrorists and engaging them into the Palestinian political system will only strengthen them. These actions will disrupt essential progress to the Roadmap. It is my hope that progress towards the Roadmap will be as fast as possible in order to achieve true peace in the Middle East.

Israel is a peace-seeking country. I said in the past - and I say it also today: I am willing to make painful compromises for peace. I think that the entire world can now see how hard such compromises are. There is one thing on which we will not make any compromises - not now and not in the future - and that is our security.

Two weeks ago, we marked 57 years since the establishment of the State of Israel. In those days, President Harry Truman recognized the State of Israel in contrast to the opinion of all his advisers. He later said and I would like to quote it: “I had faith in Israel before it was established. I have in it now. I believe it has a glorious future before it - not just another sovereign nation, but as an embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.”

And indeed, in its short existence Israel has reached tremendous achievements. We have brought millions of Jewish immigrants from five continents, who speak 82 languages, and they were all absorbed in the State of Israel. They all speak Hebrew, the language of the Bible. We developed advanced health care, research and academic institutions that are among the best in the world, and agriculture which is envied everywhere. I’m very proud of that, being a farmer myself. We have more engineers per capita than any other country, more start-up companies than anywhere else, apart from the ‘Silicon Valley’. We are a part of the exclusive group of countries who launched satellites into space.

This last year has been very challenging for Israel and for me personally. In promoting the Disengagement Plan I paid a heavy political price. But this is where the foresight of strong leadership is realized. Strong leadership is measured by the ability to implement important processes that might initially seem unpopular but eventually bring positive results.

The coming period will not be easy, but I believe in the Israeli society and its ability to successfully overcome this period. I am certain that with the determination of the Israeli public we will be able to emerge from this experience strong and united.

The State of Israel will continue to be a vibrant Jewish and democratic nation - a source of attraction and pride for Jews everywhere. We will continue to bring many Jewish immigrants from all over the world, including North America. And please, my dear friends, start the preparation. We will further advance and develop our science, education and culture, for our benefit, and, in the future, also for the benefit of the peoples of the region.

With God’s help, in the future, my speeches at AIPAC’s policy conference may focus not on security issues but rather on promoting tourism or improving Israel’s technology sector. Together, as one, we will work to achieve this great goal.

Thank you. Israel is grateful for your contribution and dedication. And I would like you to remember - we need you now more than ever, we always needed you, but now we need you more than ever.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Ariel Sharon!

He was very good. These are just my thoughts, since I'm guessing his full speech will be available online shortly. He had a nice sense of humor, which I wasn't expecting. At one point, he discussed being on Bush's Crawford Ranch and marveling that he had more cows (on his farm) than the leader of the free world has. It was endearing. As most of you know, I'm torn on the disengagement issue, feeling for the people who will have to leave their towns, homes, lives, etc... BUT, I do not approve of what happened during Sharon's speech. A man stood up and started shouting about saving Gush Katif. While this may be a noble way to feel, this was NOT the place and surely did NOT win the rest of the room's hearts to his cause. AIPAC does not need that happening at its function. Sure, protest at the front of the building. That's fine. As soon as they security got to this guy, some woman on the other side of the room did the same thing.

But then an amazing thing happened.

The remaining 5,000+ people stood up and started clapping for Sharon -- to drown out what the woman was yelling. It truly was something to witness.

After that, things got back on track. The highlight to me was his saying that Jerusalem would be the capitol of Israel, now and forever... and even longer than forever. What I didn't like was that when he returns to Israel, he plans to put forth a plan to release 400 more prisoners. Oy.

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Hillary Clinton -- Simply Amazing

Most of you know, I'm not overly fond of Hillary. That said, her speech today at the AIPAC policy conference was AMAZING. She is an incredible speaker and as I sat there listening, I got overcome with the feeling (I'm not one to feel psychic but it was an eerie feeling) that I was watching the next president of the United States. Regardless, she is a force to be reckoned with. Please read it here and feel free to ask me questions or comment about it.

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Nancy Pelosi -- Monday Night Gala

I took extensive notes, but my friend sent me the transcription of the speech. Yay! Go figure though. I could have relaxed and listened and not spent the time scribbling furiously. So rather than subject you all to my chicken scratch, I'll simply but the transcription here. I can tell you that Nancy played great in the house. I will work on my notes for the other three, plus the biggies from today. Without further ado, here's Pelosi's speech to those of us at the 2005 AIPAC policy conference.

“Thank you, Amy Friedkin, my dear friend for so many years. Californians, North and South, are proud of your great leadership at AIPAC. And to Bernice Manocherian, President of AIPAC, thank you. All who care about peace in the Middle East are grateful for your strength and wisdom in guiding AIPAC. As a native of Baltimore, I take special pride of your incoming President, Howard Friedman, who will continue in the tradition of outstanding leadership at AIPAC.

“I also want to acknowledge all of the students who are here. It is great to see so many young people taking such an interest in public affairs, especially on one of the critical issues of our time: peace in the Middle East.

“This spring, I was in Israel as part of a congressional trip that also took us to Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. One of the most powerful experiences was taking a helicopter toward Gaza, over the path of the security fence. We set down in a field that belonged to a local kibbutz. It was a cool but sunny day, and the field was starting to bloom with mustard. Mustard is a crop that grows in California, and it felt at that moment as if I were home.

“And then we were told that the reason we had to land in that field, as opposed to our actual destination, was because there had been an infiltration that morning, and they weren’t sure how secure the area was. And that point alone brought us back to the daily reality of Israel: even moments of peace and beauty are haunted by the specter of violence.

“While in Israel, we met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Vice Premier Shimon Perez. From them and from other leaders, we heard something I had not heard in a long time: cautious optimism. This was an attitude quite different from the one that confronted us when I spoke to AIPAC two years ago.

“One thing, however is unchanged: America’s commitment to the safety and security of the State of Israel is unwavering. America and Israel share an unbreakable bond: in peace and war; and in prosperity and in hardship.

“Prime Minister Sharon’s leadership of Israel at this crucial time has been remarkable. He has brought Israel through an extremely challenging period, and now he has made the difficult decision that it is in Israel’s national security interest to disengage from Gaza.

“In the next few months, Israeli settlers will be evacuated entirely from Gaza and from four settlements in the northern West Bank. This courageous decision is gut-wrenching for Israel.

“Israel’s decision can be a decisive milestone on the road to peace. If the Palestinians agree to coordinate with Israel on the evacuation, establish the rule of law, and demonstrate a capacity to govern, the world may be convinced that finally there is a real partner for peace.

“Any progress on the Roadmap for Peace must be based on real change on the ground, as evidenced by the establishment of an accountable, and reconstituted Palestinian security force that prevents terrorism, not promotes it.

“Fortunately, Palestinian Authority President Abbas is no Yasir Arafat. He has condemned terrorism in Arabic, stating that it prolongs the day that the Palestinian goal of statehood can be achieved, and, at least as significant, stating that terrorism is immoral. He has begun to restructure the security services. All that is commendable.

“But he has not removed Arafat’s corrupt cronies from positions of power, nor has he moved to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. That is, I am sorry to say, cause for concern. President Abbas has said his goal is to establish the rule of law, but he has done nowhere near enough to realize that vision, and now he is confronted with a huge challenge: by the end of summer, Israel will be out of Gaza.

“Can Gaza become a pilot case for self-government for a Palestinian state? Or will it become a terrorist haven, a launching pad for rockets into Israel?

“President Abbas must act, for his own good, against those he must know are his enemies and are the enemies of the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

“The United States, just as Israel, wants to see him succeed. That is why I was so pleased when President Bush dispatched Jim Wolfensohn to help with the Gaza withdrawal. It is why I supported additional aid to the Palestinians in the Emergency Supplemental bill that recently passed Congress.

“There are those who contend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. This is absolute nonsense. In truth, the history of the conflict is not over occupation, and never has been: it is over the fundamental right of Israel to exist.

“The greatest threat to Israel’s right to exist, with the prospect of devastating violence, now comes from Iran. For too long, leaders of both political parties in the United States have not done nearly enough to confront the Russians and the Chinese, who have supplied Iran as it has plowed ahead with its nuclear and missile technology.

“Proliferation represents a clear threat to Israel and to America. It must be confronted by an international coalition against proliferation, with a commitment and a coalition every bit as strong as our commitment to the war against terror.

“The people of Israel long for peace and are willing to make the sacrifices to achieve it. We hope that peace and security come soon – and that this moment of opportunity is not lost. As Israel continues to take risks for peace, she will have no friend more steadfast that the United States.

“In the words of Isaiah, we will make ourselves to Israel ‘as hiding places from the winds and shelters from the tempests; as rivers of water in dry places; as shadows of a great rock in a weary land.’

“The United States will stand with Israel now and forever. Now and forever.”

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Monday, May 23, 2005

Could I Be More Tired?

Wow. Long day that started with Condoleezza Rice and ended with the leadership of both the House and the Senate. I promise to go into much more detail over the next several days (C-SPAN is going to show Condi shortly, if anyone sees this quickly). Sunday evening had Natan Sharansky, who was as inspiring as ever. Everyone was excited to hear Condi this morning. She was wonderful though I couldn't pinpoint anything that was said that was actually new, even though it's been said this was her first foreign policy speech on the Middle East. All day it was terrific to hear people pledge their commitment to Israel. This afternoon had an interesting panel discussion on how to win the War on Terror -- between Congresswoman Jane Harmon and Richard Perle, with Dan Senor as the moderator. Great stuff. Tonight, with Dennis Hastert, Nancy Pelosi, Bill Frist and Harry Reid (who announced to us all that the Nuclear Option/filibuster was now off the table), was great because it was encouraging to hear these four very powerful people explain why Israel is so important to them and to America. To be continued when I'm actually wide awake. And then I'll try to actually link to things so what I write can actually make more sense.

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Israel, An American Value...

Once again, keep in mind I took notes as best I could (and I'm tying as I run out the door so I'm not proof reading like I should). I'm not perfect at catching everything nor reading my own handwriting. That said... There is a terrific exhibit available for self-guided tour all day -- a strategic tour of Iran's nuclear fuel cycle. Really helps you to understand how close they are to making nuclear bombs. Some scary stuff.

The morning plenary's star would be Israeli Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni, but it was opened by an impressive young man -- Bakari Sellers of SGA president of Morehouse College, the only all male historically black institution of higher learning in the US. He talked about how much he learned about Israel during his first AIPAC policy conference experience last year and how it's affected him. He then passed the baton, so to speak, to others. People like Sheriff Michael Brown, Ms. Annie McTavish (saying it was her guess that she was the only McTavish in the room) and Representative Linda Sanchez. They all spoke of the impact Israel has had on them, reiterating the theme of the conference -- Israel, an American value.

One of the more interesting speeches was done by Mr. Hugh Hewitt, a nationally syndicated radio talk show. He said there are six fundamentals to know about Israel.

1. It's a creation of International... (sorry I can't recall the word but hopefully you get the idea)
2. Israel is a democracy
3. It is a friend to the US with few equals
4. You don't need to believe in the Bible to support Israel; if you do believe, you must support Israel
5. Israel has never not wanted peace
6. It's a very small country where "risks for peace" can challenge its very existence

Lastly, he denounced his fellow Presbyterians' divestment plan.

Onto Tzipi Livni. She looked at us all (around 5,000) and said this was an image she'd never forget. It was very moving. She said it's a war on three fronts.

1. Global terrorism
2. War against anti-Semitism around the world
3. Fight for the very existence of Israel

They've had 57 years of fighting terror, 57 years of calls for their non-existence. The process of delegitimizing Israel's existence. The two-state solution is based on the need for justice for both people. Refugees need to return -- to their own state. Some Palestinians are trying to make a distinction between the refugee crisis and their own state. To those people, she says, "This is not the meaning of the concept." If Palestinian State based on terror, they'll use it to destroy Israel. They need to dismantle terror. There are two options for Israel.

1. Remain in stagnant position, blaming the Palestinians
2. Change by taking steps, show Israel means business.

If Israel is not in the territory then they can't use them as an excuse for terror.

The role of US: since the April 04 speech of Bush where he said his vision of two homelands -- refugees go to Palestinian state and he supported the vision of two states, made disengagement possible. Different message and different facts are necessary if we hope to maintain freedom of speech and law and order.

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Dessert Reception (Saturday Night)

I arrived a tiny bit early for it so I could register, get my bag of goodies, my ID, etc... I expected a horrible line -- there was NO line. And this is something I've heard repeatedly. It's been such a well-oiled, well organized event. I quickly headed to the reception. There was quite a spread (of course) and plenty of people I know -- tons of fun. I didn't even realize we were going to have two congressional speakers!

Congresswoman (and longtime AIPAC member) Shelley Berkeley from Nevada, whom I've heard before and loved, addressed those of us gathered in the meeting room. She discussed what a pivotal time it is. We're here to make a difference. She told us how she went to Poland two weeks before the official ceremony. While there, the IDF had their own ceremony. They said, "We are 60 years too late but we are here now." As they said this, four Israeli fighter jets buzzed over the crowd. Berkeley reiterated, "We are here now." We need to do what we can to protect Jews, not just here, Israel, the EU but for generations to come.

After her, Congressman Bob Filner followed. He joked about how his district, along California's border with Mexico, has about three Jews in it. Not three percent -- three actual Jews. But his constituents understand how Israel and anti-Semitism can affect them. Because if they go after the Jews, they won't stop there -- and they'll be next. He shared how his father served in World War II. They needed someone who spoke Yiddish to be up front when they liberated Auschwitz and what an amazing experience it was for his father. He said that our strength gives them strength in Congress.

It was a wonderful evening and a great tease of what's to come.

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A Tiny Taste...

Oh my. Tonight we had a dessert reception, welcoming everyone from the Pacific Southwest region to the AIPAC policy conference, and it was CRAZY. Just a small taste of what's to come, I suppose. We had a ton of people there and the room was filled. I will blog more on the people who spoke and what they had to say as soon as I'm able, but I have to get up tomorrow very early and will be back late. That is my way of saying, I will try to get things up ASAP but please be patient. And please forgive me in advance for not visiting your blogs or responding to your comments. If there's something of yours you really want me to get to, I would love for you to leave the link here in my comments. I promise, come Thursday (when I'm home again), I'll be back on a regular schedule.

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Saturday, May 21, 2005

Another True Hero

For the Roman Wanderer(-ess), I provide an Italian tidbit for you all. The ADL honored an Italian police chief for saving Jews during the Holocaust. Posthumously they presented the League's Courage to Care Award to Giovanni Palatucci, who saved the lives of thousands of Jews marked for Nazi death camps. How? He provided them with forged documents and visas.

In 1944, he was accused of conspiracy and deported to Dachau, where he died at age 36 shortly before the camp was liberated.

What an amazing, brave soul.

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Friday, May 20, 2005


Was sitting here, blogging like I usually do -- while watching the news as background noise, and saw a press conference with W and the visiting Denmark prime minister. Heard Israel mentioned, looked up and was like, "What the heck does this Denmark fella have to do with Israel?!" Of course, never did figure that out but since I was now paying a bit more attention, I heard W say something that both surprised me (cause he didn't have a script and it made sense) and thrilled me. How often can I say that? Not even sure what prompted this response, but he described that part of the world with the following description, "...[ they have a view of the world] that is backward and barbaric." Yeah! Calling a spade a spade. Nicely done, Mr. President.

I promise to pay more attention (for my note-taking) at the AIPAC conference. :)

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A Different Perspective

Please read the wonderful article below from Naomi Ragen:


The following article written by a non-Jewish South African gives us an interesting and moving portrait of ourselves in the eyes of others. I guess we need some positive reinforcement, and this is beautiful.


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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Life After Yentl

Sure, he's done more things than the Babs movie, but I thought it'd be the easiest way to let you guys realize who Mandy Patinkin is. And why should you know? Because he's one "Hollywood" guy who is doing something great for Israel.

Film and TV star Mandy Patinkin was among the 100 bicyclists from the US who completed Monday a 265-mile six day bike ride in Israel from Jerusalem to Eilat, - all to benefit a unique environmental program in Israel that unites Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and American students.

Sounds pretty noble. Good for him! (Of course, I haven't had time to research this group but it still got him to Israel -- for the first time in 20 years.)

"Listening to Palestinians and Jews, Germans and Americans, discussing something of common concern - the environment - made me believe that this was the key to solving the peace process," said Patinkin. "We can achieve the impossible."

Way to go, Mandy! Tad naive... but way to go!

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The Esther Has Landed

OK, that was lame. Forgive me. Just wanted to let you guys know I've overcome the first hurdle on my quest to the AIPAC conference -- I survived flying from LAX! What is with airports these days?!

I did the self-check in, which was on one end of the terminal. I looked up to the second level and was pleased to see the security line was rather short. Yay! I was then sent to the other side of the terminal to take my bag to X-ray before it was allowed to be checked through. Didn't matter that the X-ray setup right next to me was empty and the guy looked bored. Nooooooo. I had to go to the other end. So after finishing that, I then had to go back to the other side of the terminal to get the correct escalator up to security (the other, right near the correct X-ray area, was for first class/business only). The security line? SUPER LONG now. Of course. And this helps....what?! And don't get me started on the little conclave of sneezers I was seated with on the plane. I hate flying. But I'm here!

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Love Israel?


Policy Conference is almost here! Today I'm flying to DC! WooHoo! I'll should be seeing Regular Ron while I'm there. Anyone else around and want to have a blogway get-together?

Then consider attending AIPAC's May 2005 Policy Conference in DC, where you can meet around 5,000 others just like you (all religions are welcome; you just have to love Israel). Anyone going?

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Little Has Changed

Daniel Pipes has an interesting article about what things are like now that we're six months into a post-Arafat world.

How do things look half a year after Arafat's death? About as awful as anyone might have expected. Specifically, Mr. Abbas is unambiguously leading the Palestinians to war after the Israeli retreat from Gaza in August 2005.

He then lists some recent developments, courtesy of Abu Mazen. He discusses his hiring terrorists as soldiers, arming them, inciting the population and then the old standby classic -- pretending to arrest terrorists while sending them through the revolving door back to freedom. These things have escalated the violence, despite the "truce" or "cease-fire" that Israel supposedly has with the various terror factions.

The following paragraph mirrors what many of us here along the blogway have been predicting:

More violence could follow in September, as the Palestinians, Gaza now under their belt, begin a new assault on Israel. That round presumably will feature the substantial rocket arsenal that Hamas has been amassing. Israel's chief of staff, Moshe Ya'alon, is on record predicting, "Immediately after the disengagement we can expect a burst of terrorism."

Pipes does see one thing that could possibly stop things in their tracks.

Ironically, the one thing that might prevent this scenario from playing out would be a Hamas victory in the Palestinian council elections scheduled for mid-July. Israeli voices are increasingly calling for the Gaza withdrawal to be postponed or even annulled should Hamas do well, as seems likely. For example, Israel's foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, has said if Hamas wins the elections, it would be "unreasonable" to implement the disengagement plan and allow Hamas to create a "Hamas-stan" in Gaza.

So, there are many possibilities in the next four months. Their common element is that by September, the Arab-Israeli theater will be in yet worse shape than it is today.

I wonder how many lives will be lost in the process.

Personally, I find Abu Mazen more dangerous than Arafat for the simple fact that he can appear moderate, in his western suits, talking the talk. He doesn't walk around like Arafat, in his fatigues, looking like he's at war. People knew what Arafat was; they couldn't continue to fool themselves. Abu Mazen, in his guise as Mr. Abbas, allows people to do just that.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

Color Me Disgusted

Top 5 Movies for this weekend:

Monster in Law (New Line) $24.0 million - opening weekend
Kicking and Screaming (Universal) $20.9 million - opening weekend
Unleashed (Focus) $10.6 million - opening weekend
Kingdom of Heaven (Fox) $9.6 million - 2 wk total $35.1m
Crash (Lions Gate) $7.2 million - 2 wk total $19.8m

The movie with that horrible gruesome twosome won the weekend. What were people thinking going to see that tripe?!

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Israeli Festival -- Postscript

As one can count on animals to mate, buds to flower, seasons to change or Senators to run over people to give a comment on the record, so too can you count on it being freaking hot on the day of the Israeli festival in Los Angeles. Doesn't matter if it's been mild for months. You know you will sweat to death as you walk down the pathways to visit with various merchants and organizations. Paid a nod of appreciation to my pals over at Volunteers for Israel. Stopped by both the ADL and AIPAC booths. Stopped by to say hi to my good friend who works at The Jewish Journal. I then went to a couple of artists and picked up a beautiful Mezuza for the house and a baby's prayer (hamsa), since my friends seem to be having kids like crazy. The highlight of the day was when the crowd went nuts as Israeli pop star Sarit Hadad took the stage. She was terrific! All in all, it was a terrific day.

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Israel's 57th Independence Day Festival

It's finally here! If you're in the area, I hope you'll drop by. I won't be making it there until around 3PM, but I'll try to blog about it this evening for those of you who can't make it, which is probably everyone (except you, Gindy).

April 21

If you're in the LA area on May 15th, you should totally attend this fun festival in the San Fernando Valley. Yes, in the valley. Sorry, that's where it is. I have friends who feel they should have their passport stamped for traveling into the valley but this festival is worth it! Want to know what happens at this festival? According to the Web site:

The Festival includes: non-stop entertainment, fashion show, carnival rides, 200 booths of vendors and Jewish/Israeli organizations, a variety of ethnic food for sale, Israeli folk dancing, arts and crafts, Israeli and Jewish cultural & heritage pavilions, Israeli art exhibit, and an official 57th Independence Day ceremony attended by many local, state and federal governments dignitaries. Entities enjoy enormous exposure before the tens of thousands of attendants who come to celebrate with us.

Maybe I'll see you there.

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Lazy Day

Lazy Day
Originally uploaded by estherhoffman.
Once again, I can't think of anything to say. Pretty much my cat is expressing how I feel. But I wanted to throw in something beautiful, so one of my roses will have to do.

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Friday, May 13, 2005

Army Radio Journalist Admits 'Conspiracy of Silence'

Found this article, which pretty much proves Jerusalem Post's Caroline Glick's point that I blogged about here, which said that the media was protecting Ariel Sharon by being a cheerleader for the Gaza Disengagement. In this new article, the radio journalist shares the following.

"I have failed. We have failed," wrote Kaveh Shafran, political affairs correspondent for Israel Army Radio (Galei Tzahal) in a recent article for the Israeli Institute for Democracy. "As a diplomatic correspondent, I was among those who in the past year were supposed to tell the public exactly what is the disengagement plan, why it was created, how it will be implemented, and to discuss its various aspects, as well as how the Prime Minister functions."
The media kept silent, he added, when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "lied" by saying he would accept the results of a Likud referendum on disengagement. "The media's conspiracy of silence protected Sharon when he fired cabinet ministers who did not support disengagement," he wrote, noting that the media also ignored the High Court's criticism of the dismissals.

There's plenty more. I just hope Caroline Glick saw it and felt a bit of vindication.

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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Yom Ha’atzmaut!

I got the following email from LA's Israeli Consulate. You've probably seen emails like it but what the heck -- it's a wonderful thing to read once again on this very special day.

On the occasion of Israel's 57th birthday, it is time for us to celebrate how far our nation has come in just over half a century. 57 years ago, we were struggling to keep our young nation alive. Today, we are thriving as a global leader in science, technology, medicine, culture, and much more. In honor of 57 years, I wanted to share with you 57 of the many contributions that Israel and Israelis have made to the world.

The 100th smallest country, with less than 1/1000th of the world's population, can lay claim to the following:
1. The cell phone was first developed at the Motorola plant in Israel.
2. Most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel.
3. The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel.
4. Both the Pentium-4 microprocessor for desktop computers and the Centrino processor for laptops were entirely designed, developed and produced in Israel.
5. Voice mail technology was developed in Israel. The Israeli company Amdocs is the largest company in the world in this field.
6. Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only foreign-based research and development facilities in Israel.
7. The program ICQ, which is the technological basis for AOL Instant Messenger, was developed in 1996 by four young Israelis.
8. Disk on Key - a portable, virtual hard disk - was developed by the Israeli company M-Systems.
9. Israel has the highest number of personal computers per capita in the world.
10. Israel has the highest number of university degrees per capita in the world.
11. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin - 109 per 10,000 people - as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed.
12. In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute terms, Israel has the largest number of startup companies than any other country in the world, except the US.
13. With more than 3,000 high-tech companies and startups, Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies in the world - apart from Silicon Valley.
14. Israel is ranked #2 in the world for venture capital funds right behind the United States.
15. Outside the United States and Canada, Israel has the largest number of companies listed on NASDAQ.
16. Israel has the highest average living standards in the Middle East. The per capita income in 2000 was over $17,500, exceeding that of the United Kingdom.
17. On a per capita basis, Israel has the largest number of biotech startups.
18. Twenty four percent of Israel's workforce holds university degrees - ranking third in the industrialized world, after the United States and Holland - and 12 percent hold advanced degrees.
19. Israel has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship - and the highest rate among women and among people over 55 in the world.
20. Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth.
21. Israel has the world's second highest supply of new books per capita.
22. Israel has more museums per capita than any other country.
23. Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation diagnostic instrumentation for breast cancer.
24. An Israeli company developed a computerized system for ensuring proper administration of medications, thus removing human error from medical treatment. Every year in U. S. hospitals 7,000 patients die from treatment mistakes.
25. Israel's Given Imaging developed the PillCam - the first ingestible video camera, which is so small it fits inside a pill. Used to view the small intestine from the inside, the camera helps doctors diagnose cancer and digestive disorders.
26. Researchers in Israel developed a new device that directly helps the heart pump blood. The new device is synchronized with the heart's mechanical operations through a sophisticated system of sensors.
27. Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, with 145 per 10,000, as opposed to 85 in the U.S., over 70 in Japan, and less than 60 in Germany.
28. A new acne treatment developed in Israel causes acne bacteria to self-destruct - all without damaging surroundings skin or tissue.
29. An Israeli company was the first to develop and install a large-scale solar-powered and fully functional electricity generating plant in Southern California's Mojave Desert.
30. The first computer anti-virus software package was developed in Israel back in the 1970's.
31. Major law enforcement agencies use Israeli technologies to monitor voices and messages on conventional phones, mobile phones and e-mails.
32. An Israeli company, Teva, is the world's largest generic pharmaceutical company.
33. A new brain implant has been developed in Israel that can lower the risk of stroke by diverting blood clots away from sensitive areas of the brain.
34. IBM scientists in Israel are playing a vital role in a massive project of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to discover the origins of life on earth.
35. Israeli software company Check Point is the global leader in Virtual Private Network (VPN) and firewall technologies.
36. Israeli company Elta is responsible for the world's first civilian aircraft equipped with technology designed to protect airliners from a missile attack.
37. Mashav, the Israeli Foreign Ministry's Center for International Cooperation has trained over 200,000 international aid workers that have traveled to dozens of countries to help with medicine, agriculture, disaster relief, and many other issues.
38. Israel has, for many years, held the world record in milk production.
39. Rummikub, the third highest selling board game in the world, is manufactured in a family-run plant in the small southern Israeli town of Arad.
40. Drip irrigation - the system that is based on using plastic pipes that release small amounts of water next to crops or plants - was developed by the Israeli engineer Simcha Blas in the 1970's. The invention caused a revolution in agriculture.
41. A design submitted by Israeli-born Michael Arad has been chosen for the World Trade Center Memorial, from amongst 5,000 entries from around the world.
42. Israeli company Retalix created the grocery scanners used at such stores as Costco, Albertson's, and 7-11, as well as 25,000 additional stores and quick-service restaurants throughout the United States.
43. Primate research at Hebrew University is leading to the development of a robotic arm that can respond to the brain commands of a paralyzed person.
44. Two Israeli researchers are generating cancer-killing molecules that will recognize cancerous cells and target them aggressively, while not affecting normal cells.
45. Israeli researchers developed a novel stem cell therapy to treat Parkinson's Disease - using a patient's own bone marrow stem cells to produce the missing chemical that enables restoration of motor movement.
46. Israeli company Silent Communications has developed a type of silent conversation system for cell phones, so users can carry on conversations without saying a word.
47. The Israeli company Wondernet is currently dominating the world market in document signature authentication, with its unique scientific method of verifying handwritten signatures.
48. Israeli Professor Yehuda Finkelstein has discovered the cause of and cure for halitosis (bad breath).
49. Cherry tomatoes were originally supposed to be a snack when they were designed by a group of scientists led by professor Nahum Keidar from the agriculture faculty at the Weizmann Institute of Science, with the cooperation of the Israeli company Zera.
50. The Quicktionary, a pen size scanner that scans a word or a sentence and translates it to a different language, was developed by the Wizcom Company, based in Jerusalem.
51. Professor Ehud Keinan from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology developed a pen that identifies an improvised explosive.
52. The Israeli company Insightec developed an ultrasound system for removing tumors without surgery.
53. Researchers at the Technion have developed an antibiotic that destroys anthrax bacteria as well as the toxins it secretes into the bloodstream of the infected body.
54. Epilady, an electric hair removal system, was developed by Yair Dar and Shimon Yahav from the Goshrim Kibbutz.
55. The sun-heated water tank, a device that converts solar energy into thermal energy and that saves about 4% of the national energy supply, was developed by an engineer from Jerusalem.
56. Dr. Gal Yadid, Dr. Rachel Mayan, and Professor Abraham Weizman from Bar Ilan University developed a form of drug rehabilitation using a natural steroid that is inserted into the brain and develops a resistance for the drugs.
57. Alon Moses from Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and Imanuel Hensky and Carlos Hidelgo-Grass from Hebrew University decoded the mechanism for Streptococcus A.

Happy Independence Day,
Yariv Ovadia
Consul for Communications and Public Affairs

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Oppose the Blacklist of Israeli Academics

Sign the petition to show you oppose this blacklist. Hat tip to Naomi Ragen.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Pro-Israel Palestinians

Daniel Pipes's latest article has some encouraging words -- from the Palestinians themselves -- regarding Israel.

These comments point to Palestinian appreciation for the benefits of elections, rule of law, minority rights, freedom of speech, and a higher standard of living. Amid all the PA's political extremism and terrorism, it is good to know that a Palestinian constituency also exists for normality.

Unfortunately, it remains a furtive constituency with little political sway. The time has come for decent Palestinians to make their voices heard and state that Israel's existence is not the problem but the solution.

If only they would. If only they could.

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Monday, May 09, 2005

World Leaders Commemorate Nazi Defeat

The Jerusalem Post has an AP article about this historic event. George W. Bush stood alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, France's Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Japan's Elvis-loving Junichiro Koizumi and China's President Hu Jintao -- all to mark, as Putin put it, "a day of victory of good over evil." Russia held a parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the Allies' victory over Nazi Germany. Now if we could only parlay this solidarity into a type of world peace. Wouldn't that be a meaningful legacy? Alas, I wasn't born yesterday.

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Stray Dog Saves Infant in Kenya

OK, I realize this is not something I would usually cover, but it's such a sweet story. This dog rescued an infant, carried her across a busy road, through a barbed wire fence to a shed where she and her own puppies were living. How sweet is that?

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Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Blogway's New Look

Is courtesy of Patrick over at Clarity & Resolve. Thank you, Patrick! You are so sweet and talented -- and I think the design is AWESOME! And thanks to Renee for helping me to figure out how to get it up there.

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Happy Mother's Day!

I hope everyone enjoys the day. For pictures of my children, visit Felis's site here. My two girls are the last two at the bottom (and the second one has another pix on the next page). I know Felis would love to have pictures of your "kids" as well. To find out how to get them to him, click here.

For those of you who've lost your mothers or lost your children, I know this day is a hard one and my heart goes out to you.

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Saturday, May 07, 2005

It's Official -- She's Lost Her Mind

On April 28th, Barbra Streisand decided to loosely compare our president, George Bush, to a Nazi:

Bush's actions remind me of Herman Goering's quote during the Nuremberg Trials, where he stated: "...it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Regular Ron (and everyone else) -- want to make a bet Barbra won't have the class to acknowledge her error and apologize? Comparing the president of the United States to a Nazi cheapens what the Nazis did. I can understand many people not really understanding that concept -- I in no way shape or form think Streisand -- a Jew -- doesn't get it. She is simply so filled with hate, she doesn't care. Shame on her.

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San Diego Area -- Alert!

Hat tip to Rory for the following. Walid Shoebat will speak at San Diego State University on Monday May 9th at 7PM. They expect a big crowd. The hall holds 800, and they want to fill the place.

If you live near San Diego, please make an effort to attend. They have had some professors object, stating that "Walid Shoebat is a Racist." Ridiculous.

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Doing My Part

I'm off for the day -- I'm participating in the Revlon Run/Walk for Women (Cancer). Of course, I chose to do the walk rather than run. Me and exercise are not the best of friends. I raised over $1,500 so it's time I go earn it.

UPDATE: I survived (completed in under an hour)! Thanks for your wonderful words and support, everyone. You guys are the BEST!

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Friday, May 06, 2005

Yom Hashoah -- in Israel

This is from an email sent by my friend, Pamela Lazarus, to everyone yesterday who has done Sar-El (volunteered on an IDF base). I thought it was beautiful and that you would all appreciate it.

On this Yom Hashoah, I was proud to stand with our Sar-El unit of soldiers as the siren sounded at 10:00 this morning throughout Israel while the whole country came to a standstill. (Those of you who will be here next Wednesday on Yom Hazikaron -Memorial Day- will experience the same thing.) The Holocaust is over but anti-semitism is not; actually it is increasing. On this day, we must reflect on the past & think of the future. It is very sad that in a recent survey, only 44% of Americans could identify Auschwitz, Dachau & Treblinka as concentration camps. In another study, only a third of Americans knew that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. It is our duty as Jews to fight anti-semitism. The only way to do this is to never forget what happened to our people—our mothers, fathers, grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, & friends. The survivor generation is decreasing in number. It is up to the second & third generations, as well as the rest of us, to continue to educate our children, our neighbors, our students so that the Holocaust is never forgotten.

Last night in his address at the ceremony at Yad Vashem, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said, “The Jews will never again be without a home, without a safe refuge, without protection. Never again will we find ourselves unprepared. Never again.”

In addition to remembering & educating, it is every Jew’s duty (as well as cherished right) to visit Israel. This is our Land.

As I stood with our soldiers, with tears in my eyes during our ceremony here at Sar-El, I thought about how proud I am to be an Israeli citizen living here in Israel. I hope to see more of you & your friends & family here in Israel in the near future.

Pamela Lazarus, Program Coordinator

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Something Everyone Must Read

What does the Qur’an really say about the Jews?

Find out from Felis here.

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Happiest Place On Earth

Today I am off to a special sneak peek of Disneyland's 50th Anniversary Celebration -- closed to the general public. No one can buy tickets. But I'm going with a friend of mine who had an extra ticket. I'll be sure to give your regards to Mickey.



I'm back!

Originally uploaded by estherhoffman.

This is a picture of my pal with Pooh. We had a great time. There were not a lot of people invited to this preview so we barely had any lines really for the rides. We got there first thing for the parade, which we thought was great. We sat with a couple of die-hards. I think the guy had been at Disneyland's opening day fifty years ago! So we got the inside poop from them. They had just been to Disney Paris (formerly known as Euro Disney) and said that by far their parades are much better than Disneyland's. BUT, he heard that this parade was going to be more like Disney Paris so we were anxious to see how the floats rated with them. For the most part -- they felt it was the usual fare. But there were a couple of outstanding floats. Personally, I thought the Lion King one was incredible. Also Ursula's (from The Little Mermaid) was very cool.

We didn't do a ton but we're old anyway, so not too shocking there. We went on Mr Toad's Wild Ride (sucked), Peter Pan (great!), Winnie the Pooh (new and cute!--though they shouldn't give Winnie LSD so he trips like that, whew!), Pirates of the Carribean, the Haunted Mansion, Dumbo and then for the "It's A Small World" -- we went on with my pal's friend and her two-and-a-half year old. It was sooooooo sweet watching this little girl's eyes go as big as saucers as she drank it all in. We decided to leave a bit early to try and beat the traffic back (since we'd done everything we'd wanted to do). Made it back in record time -- yeah! No freebies like i thought there'd be other than the ticket getting in (turns out they don't give freebies out at "previews" but rather at birthday parties; this is the 50th celebration but the official party isn't until July) but it was still a great day. Glad I'm back early though. I'm pooped!

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Must Reads

Naomi Ragen had two great articles of interest posted today. She shared Natan Sharansky's resignation letter as well as a speech from our favorite Lebanese Christian/Pro-Israel activist, Brigitte Gabriel, delivered at Columbia back in March. She really rails on the ACLU -- so enjoy.

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Need Your Feedback

Hi All --

A friend of mine is asking for great sites with lots of traffic that are Los Angles-centric or Jewish-centric (since she works for an LA-based Jewish publication). I really don't know what anyone's traffic is, and I'm not terribly savvy about all the blogs out there so I thought I'd turn to you guys for help. Any ideas? Thanks in advance.

Gindy, I've given her your site already. :)

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Monday, May 02, 2005

Oh. My. G-d.

Natan Sharansky, Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, has resigned to protest Israel's failure to condition the disengagement plan on democratic reforms in the Palestinian Authority. Wow.

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Playing Into Their Hands -- Part II

Enough already. The news networks need to stop promoting everything Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has to say. They can't cast stones at Al-Jazeera and then do the exact same thing. So stop telling us about the threats he's making against everyone and their mother, every great building out there -- a big fat "DUH" to them all! We get it. But what they fail to realize is that the object of terrorism is to terrorize people. If you stop helping him do that by announcing every little thing he wants out there, he is neutralized to a large degree. Thoughts?

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Sunday, May 01, 2005

Playing Into Their Hands

Not the smartest move President Bush has ever made. Holding hands in Arab culture means far more than in our own. I'm afraid this shot will come back to bite him in the... um... political capital -- and the rest of us in many more ways.

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