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Wednesday, Dec. 26 ’12, Tevet 13, 5773
1. ‘LITTLE CHANCE OF WAR IN 2013,’ SAYS FORMER IDF INTEL CHIEF 2. US LIBERAL JEWS’ WAR ON ORTHODOXY AT KOTEL 3. COURT MAY BE ASKED TO STOP ‘DESTRUCTION OF HISTORY’ 4. US, RUSSIA HOPE FOR SYRIAN POWER TRANSFER BY FEBRUARY 5. RARE FIND OF TEMPLE ERA ARTIFACTS NEAR JERUSALEM 6. DRIVERS ANGRY: ARABS ATTACKED, SOLDIERS DID NOTHING 7. IRAN BEGINS NAVAL MANEUVERS IN THE PERSIAN GULF 8. THE AUSCHWITZ BOXER – A SURVIVING HOLOCAUST STORY
1. ‘LITTLE CHANCE OF WAR IN 2013,’ SAYS FORMER IDF INTEL CHIEF by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Israel”s enemies probably will not wage war in 2013, and the Palestinian Authority will not make concessions,” former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told a seminar at the University of Haifa.
“If I had to stand before the Cabinet today and estimate the probability of war in 2013, I would say there probably will be none,” he stated. Yadlin explained that Hizbullah is well aware that Israel”s deterrence is very high.
He also noted that Israel is threatened just as much by the campaign to make it appear illegitimate as it is by missiles and rockets.
Concerning Iran, Yadlin estimated that although the nuclear threat recently has been taken off the daily agenda as am “immediate” problem, it will return in 2013. “The moment that Iran has a nuclear weapon, it will become a direct threat to Israel,” he declared.
“The moment that Iranians decide to take the last start towards dropping a bomb, it will take them 4-6 months to achieve this.”
He said that the United States remains the “strongest and greatest” power in the world and that Israel should work to make sure the American administration does not distant itself from Israel. “President Obama has publicly stated he will not agree to allow a nuclear-armed Iran, and Israel and the United States see eye-to-eye on this,” he added.
Yadlin explained that there is a problem of trust. He said, “Sometimes, many politicians do not carry out after elections the promises they made before elections. There is a problem to accept a declaration on such a critical subject as the Iranian threat.”
He added there also is a problem connected to “relations between two specific individuals,” meaning President Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Yadlin also expressed serous doubts that the Palestinian Authority will agree to any concessions, including giving up the demand to flood Israel with several million foreign Arabs claiming Israel as home.
He said that he thinks Israel should give up parts of eastern Jerusalem but recognized that it is irrelevant because of Abbas” refusal to compromise.
“The Palestinian Authority cannot out…concessions and therefore has chosen a very well-crafter strategy to get the world make Israel accept concessions while the PA makes none at all,” he observed.
Yadlin said that in the event of a stalemate, Israel must take the initiative and withdraw from most of Judea and Samaria, but only after implementing lessons learned from mistakes it made in the way it pulled forces out of Lebanon and Gaza,.
He said that Israel made a costly mistake in giving up security over the Philadelphi smuggling route along the Gazan-Egyptian border, and that the country must retain the Jordan Valley during any withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.
The second mistake, he said, was Israel”s total withdrawal from Gaza, “up until the last inch.” “We though by doing so, would gain legitimacy in the eyes of the world, but we got absolutely nothing out of it,” according to Yadlin.
2. US LIBERAL JEWS’ WAR ON ORTHODOXY AT KOTEL by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
A Diaspora campaign, promoted by the NY Times, is pressuring Netanyahu to consider a radical change in traditional Jewish customs held for generations at the Western Wall, known as the Kotel in Hebrew, and and allow women to pray with men”s religious prayer shawls there.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has stepped in to ask Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky “to study the issue and suggest ways to make the site more accommodating to all Jews,” New York Times new Jerusalem bureau chief Judi Rudoren wrote Wednesday.
“The Prime Minister thinks the Western Wall has to be a site that expresses the unity of the Jewish people, both inside Israel and outside the state of Israel,” Netanyahu”s senior adviser Ron Dermer told her. “He wants to preserve the unity of world Jewry. This is an important component of Israel”s strength.”
A woman who prays regularly at the site responded to Arutz Sheva, saying that the Prime Minister did not define what “accommodating to all Jews” might entail, but that it is clear that offending the traditionally Orthodox and hareidi-religious women who are present at the holy site from dawn to dusk for prayers would not preserve unity at all – unless they are not intended to be part of that unity.
The so-called “Women of the Wall” movement, headed by Reform and some Conservative American immigrants, succeeded this past week in winning liberal media support for their cause from Rudoren.
After promoting their cause earlier this week, she followed up Tuesday with a report of “outrage” in the Diaspora over the deeply-rooted Jewish tradition to maintain modesty and protect the sexes from dropping barriers between sexes, a modern liberal trend that has encouraged a loss of family and moral values in Western countries.
The issue of women wearing a prayer shawl and reading from the Torah at the Western Wall appears on the surface to be harmless, so it has been adopted as a cause célèbre as part of the Reform and Conservative movements’ decades-old attempt to destroy the Orthodox Jewish authority that dates back to the time of Moses.
The issue of confronting halakhic authority is not new in the Jewish world. The Bible describes attempts by Korach to usurp Moses” authority because “all of the Jewish people are holy.”
Similarly, the catchy, fashionable slogan of “equality,” with a push from Rudoren, has kept the Women of the Wall”s demands on the front pages in the United States.
Previous high-profile protests by the Women of the Wall failed to convince the High Court to rule against Orthodox Jewish authority at the holy site, and the justices refused their demand to carry Torah scrolls at the Wall.
However, the court later allowed them to do so at a more isolated area, known as Robinson”s Arch, south of the Western Wall Plaza.
The effort by Reform and Conservative leaders to be accepted as equals to Orthodox rabbis is the opening shot in what is bound to be a power struggle on issues far beyond that of women”s wearing a prayer shawl.
Rudoren unintentionally revealed their goals by writing that the issue “has deepened a divide between the Jewish state and the Jewish Diaspora at a time when Israel is battling international isolation over its settlement policy.” The reform movement, as well as The New York Times, oppose Jewish rights to live in all of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria .
Tuesday”s report included openly biased writing, stating that “particularly leaders of the reform and conservative movements in the United States, complain that the government”s recent aggressive enforcement of restrictions at the wall has turned a national monument into an ultra-Orthodox synagogue.”
There was no explanation of the term “aggressive,” and the restrictions are those that have been in force for ages and are in the rules laid down by the Kotel Rabbinate. There also is no evidence that the Western Wall is an “ultra-orthodox” synagogue. The report also ignores the existence of large Orthodox congregations of religious Zionist, Hassidic and Lithuanian yeshiva sectors in the Diaspora who are against any changes in the customs at the Kotel.
Sharansky confirmed to Rudoren that the Prime Minister asked him to study the issue, a political and religious hot potato, and that he hopes to hand in recommendations in “a few months.”
The Liberal Diaspora recently has pressured the Jewish Agency into passing a resolution calling for a “satisfactory approach to the issue of prayer at the Western Wall.”
Sharansky did not directly answer Radoren”s question if women one day will be able to read the Torah and wear prayer shawls at the Western Wall.
“I imagine very easily a situation where everybody will have their opportunity to express their solidarity with Judaism and the Jewish people and the state of Israel in a way he or she wants, without undermining the other,” he said.
Mixed men and women”s prayer service is totally unacceptable in the Orthodox community and not only among “ultra-orthodox” Jews, as mainstream media implies.
Using a prayer shawl is halakhically permitted, but is rare. It is the custom of some women in women’s prayer groups or on the women’s side of the synagogue in recent times, as is holding the Torah in a women’s service. However, women’s reading the Torah is even less prevalent in women’s prayer groups and allowed only without reciting the blessings.
The Kotel, however, has special status and the overwhelming number or worshipers there are traditionally or hareidi Orthodox, groups that vehemently oppose those changes and who represent continuity in custom and observance..
3. COURT MAY BE ASKED TO STOP ‘DESTRUCTION OF HISTORY’ by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The High Court may be the last resort for archaeologists to order Netanyahu to stop allowing the Waqf to destroy history at the holy site.
Following the latest disclosures of massive removal and dumping of dirt containing artifacts from the area of the Holy Temples, attorney Aviad Vesuli told Arutz Sheva he would appeal to the High Court.
He noted that Muslim authorities on the Temple Mount are “brazenly” ignoring previous rulings prohibiting them from removing debris without giving advance notice of 30 days – so that the Israel Antiquities Authority can inspect the material and decide whether it can be removed. Instead, Arab workers are continuing to haul out debris from the holy site and dump it in piles of garbage.
Archaeologist Tzachi Zweig-Devira told Arutz Sheva earlier this week that previous examinations of debris hauled out of the Temple Mount site revealed signatures of Kohanim (Temple priests) mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah and remains of the Holy Temple plaza.
Activists will hold a protest on Wednesday opposite the northern Gate of the Tribes at the Temple Mount and said if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not act, they will appeal to the court.
“We are most surprised and shocked by your failures to stop this grave robbery of artifacts and brazen abandonment of the High Court ruling, to which you have in effect given your agreement,” Vesuli wrote the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Eli Yishai.
He also wrote to the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Justice and Tourism ministers, the Jerusalem police commander and the government prosecutor.
The removal of debris containing proof of the Holy Temples under Jewish sovereignty is part of a Palestinian Authority campaign to claim spuriously that the holy site belongs exclusively to Muslims and that the Temples never existed.
At the entrance to the Temple Mount, a Waqf sign says, “The Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard and everything in it is Islamic property.”
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has said that since the Temple Mount is part of Israeli territory, Israeli law applies there, including antiquities laws and laws regarding building and planning.
According to Zweig-Devira, the Waqf is also failing to protect beams from the period of the First Temple, leaving them exposed to the rains and not placing plastic on them to protect them from bad weather.
He noted that Waqf officials removed a pile of artifacts on Sunday, when there were no visitors to the Temple Mount, and there was no monitoring by IAA officials.
4. US, RUSSIA HOPE FOR SYRIAN POWER TRANSFER BY FEBRUARY by Chana Ya’ar
The US and Russia are hoping to accomplish a change in Syria’s regime by the end of February, according to a Kuwaiti newspaper report.
The daily Al-Rai newspaper quoted diplomatic sources this week as saying the two world superpowers were hoping to formulate a plan for a transition of power in Damascus within the next 10 weeks.
The plan will include an agreement for the United Nations Security Council to sponsor a Syrian transitional government as part of the effort to stop the savagery that has so far led to nearly 50,000 deaths in less than two years.
Despite assurances that its regime would never turn its chemical weaponry on its own people, it has become clear that Syrian Army troops have indeed done the unthinkable.
The London-based A-Sharq al-Awsat Arabic language newspaper on Wednesday quoted a Syrian defector who said that chemical weapons were used by Syrian troops who bombed civilians and rebels in the Homs province.
Abd al-Salam Abd al-Razaq, who had once served as a staff member in the Syrian Army chemical warfare division, said the bombing used sarin-type nerve gas. He added that he believed it was ordered by President Bashar al-Assad as a means of measuring the reactions of the international community.
“Using the gas in Homs was Assad’s way of feeling the international community’s pulse on the matter,” Razaq explained.
Assad has been warned repeatedly by the United States, the European Union, NATO and the United Nations that any use of his chemical weapons arsenal would be considered a crossing of “the red line.”
5. RARE FIND OF TEMPLE ERA ARTIFACTS NEAR JERUSALEM by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The discovery, like may others, was made during road excavation, this time at a new section of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway, known as Highway 1. The archaeological site is known as Tel Motza, at the Motza turnoff less than five miles west of Jerusalem.
A ritual building and a cache of sacred vessels date back approximately 2,750 years.
“The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judae at the time of the First Temple,” according to Anna Eirikh, Dr. Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
“The uniqueness of the structure is even more remarkable because of the vicinity of the site’s proximity to the capital city of Jerusalem, which acted as the Kingdom’s main sacred center at the time,” they added. According to the archaeologists, “Among other finds, the site has yielded pottery figurines of men, one of them bearded, whose significance is still unknown.”
Tel Motza and the surrounding region are renowned for their prime archaeological importance. Many finds have previously been uncovered at the site, from a variety of different periods. From the 1990s to the beginning of the present millennium, the site was excavated in preparation for the new route taken by Highway 1.
At the time, the site’s archaeologists proposed once more identifying the site with the Biblical settlement “Mozah” mentioned in the Book of Joshua – a town in the tribal lands of Benjamin bordering on Judaea (Joshua 18: 26). The proposal was based, among other things, on the discovery at the site of a public building, a large structure with storehouses, and a considerable number of silos.
Archaeologists identified the site as a storehouse, run by high-ranking officials, for Jerusalem’s grain supplies.
The current excavations have revealed evidence that provides another aspect to our understanding of the site. “The current excavation has revealed part of a large structure, from the early days of the monarchic period (Iron Age IIA),” the archaeologists said. “The walls of the structure are massive, and it includes a wide, east-facing entrance, conforming to the tradition of temple construction in the ancient Near East: the rays of the sun rising in the east would have illuminated the object placed inside the temple first, symbolizing the divine presence within.
“A square structure which was probably an altar was exposed in the temple courtyard, and the cache of sacred vessels was found near the structure. The assemblage includes ritual pottery vessels, with fragments of chalices (bowls on a high base which were used in sacred rituals), decorated ritual pedestals, and a number of pottery figurines of two kinds: the first, small heads in human form (anthropomorphic) with a flat headdress and curling hair; the second, figurines of animals (zoomorphic) – mainly of harnessed animals.”
The archeologists stress that “The find of the sacred structure together with the accompanying cache of sacred vessels, and especially the significant coastal influence evident in the anthropomorphic figurines, still require extensive research.”
Ritual elements in the Kingdom of Judah are recorded in archaeological research, especially from the numerous finds of pottery figurines and other sacred objects found at many sites in Israel, and these are usually attributed to domestic rituals.
However, the remains of ritual platforms and temples used for ritual ceremonies have only been found at a few sites of this period.
According to the site’s directors, “The finds recently discovered at Tel Motza provide rare archaeological evidence for the existence of temples and ritual enclosures in the Kingdom of Judah in general, and in the Jerusalem region in particular, prior to the religious reforms throughout the kingdom at the end of the monarchic period (at the time of Hezekiah and Isaiah), which abolished all ritual sites, concentrating ritual practices solely at the Temple in Jerusalem.”
6. DRIVERS ANGRY: ARABS ATTACKED, SOLDIERS DID NOTHING by Maayana Miskin
Soldiers recently stood by and watched as Arabs attacked Jewish motorists in the Hevron region, a resident has reported.
Nehama Fishelvitch of Kiryat ARba was driving from her workplace in Tekoa toward her home on Monday when suddenly she encountered an Arab mob. Dozens of men hurled heavy stoned at her car, causing serious damage.
Nehama and her two female passengers managed to escape the ambush. Then, she told Arutz Sheva, “I saw two soldiers who saw what had happened but did nothing.”
“I opened the window, and they told me there was nothing they could do,” she recalled.
Several other drivers were attacked as well, and their cars damaged, she said. It was a miracle that nobody was hurt, she added.
“When we got to the police station to file a complaint we saw all of the cars and also a bus that had been damaged. Unfortunately, the soldiers did nothing,” she said. “They could have at least blocked the road, or fired in the air, but no, nothing.”
The situation must change, she declared. “We have to give the army the tools to deal with situations like these. I drive there every day, we have to prevent similar cases in the future.”
Additional sources told Arutz Sheva that, following the attacks Fischelvitz reported, additional troops were sent to the scene to disperse the attackers.
Military sources said that the IDF takes attacks on motorists seriously and has the tools to deal with them.
A similar incident occurred one month ago, when Arabs attacked motorists north of Jerusalem and police did nothing.
7. IRAN BEGINS NAVAL MANEUVERS IN THE PERSIAN GULF by Elad Benari
Iran on Tuesday launched naval maneuvers in the Gulf, and announced plans for another exercise in the strategic Strait of Hormuz later this week, AFP reported.
Revolutionary Guards naval units began a four-day exercise inside Iranian waters at South Pars, a joint gas field between Iran and Qatar, a Guards spokesman was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.
The drill, dubbed “Fajr 91,” is aimed at honing “capabilities in executing defensive and security scenarios,” Admiral Alireza Nasseri said without elaborating.
The Guards are tasked with defending Iran’s territorial waters in the Gulf.
The regular navy, meanwhile, on December 28 begins an exercise dubbed “Velayat 91,” covering an area that includes the Strait of Hormuz, the Sea of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean, navy chief Admiral Habibollah Sayari said in remarks reported by the ISNA news agency.
Warships, submarines and missile defense systems will be used and tested during the exercise, Sayari said.
“We will definitely respect the maritime border of our neighbors, and conduct the maneuvers based on international law,” Sayari said.
“Iran aims to demonstrate its defensive naval capabilities by conducting this exercise, and send a message of peace and friendship to regional countries,” he was quoted by AFP as having said.
Iran frequently conducts missile tests and maneuvers to underline its military muscle and has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil tanker traffic should it be attacked.
The strait is a narrow channel at the entrance of the Gulf through which a third of the world’s traded oil passes.
The United States has warned Iran that any attempt to close the strait would be viewed as a “red line” — grounds for U.S. military action.
Iran’s navy, with 17,000 servicemen, is tasked with defending Iranian interests in the Indian Ocean and beyond. Its offshore forces are limited to half a dozen small frigates and destroyers, and three Russian Kilo class submarines.
Iran regularly denounces the regional presence of foreign forces, including the U.S., particularly those stationed in the Gulf. It says the security of the region must be ensured “by regional countries.”
Arab monarchies on the opposite side of the Gulf from Iran are worried by what they see as territorial ambitions by the Islamic republic, which frequently stresses Persia’s historic dominance over the waterway.
8. THE AUSCHWITZ BOXER – A SURVIVING HOLOCAUST STORY by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The memory of Prisoner Number 77 still brings hope to the heart of Auschwitz survivor Tadeusz Sobolewicz as he remembers how his friend boxed for bread in the notorious Nazi German camp.
The story of fellow inmate and boxer Tadeusz Pietrzykowski has been all but forgotten nearly seven decades after the end of World War II, AFP reported.
The very idea of sport at Auschwitz seems preposterous.
The camp was set up by the Nazis in southern Poland after their 1939 invasion to hold and kill Polish political prisoners, and was to become a hub of the Holocaust, during which the Nazis murdered six million Jews.
Polish author Marta Bogacka, in a new book “The Auschwitz Boxer”, has brought the story of Pietrzykowski, little known outside Poland, back into the spotlight.
To Sobolewicz, 89, it still seems like yesterday.
“The first bout took place on a Sunday in March 1941 next to the Auschwitz kitchens, between Tadeusz Pietrzykowski and the German ‘kapo’ Walter Dunning,” he told AFP, using the term for the common criminals deployed by the Nazis as overseers.
A rumor went around that Dunning, a former middleweight professional who had fallen foul of the law, was looking for an opponent in exchange for a loaf of bread and some margarine.
Pietrzykowski, a pre-war bantam weight at the boxing club Legia Warsaw, rose to the challenge. “Teddy, as the Polish media nicknamed him before the war, must have weighed about 45 kilos (99 pounds), and Walter around 70 (154 pounds),” Sobolewicz said.
In peacetime, the maximum fighting weight in Pietrzykowski’s category was 54 kilos, and 75 kilos in Dunning’s.
In June 1940 Pietrzykowski had been on the first train convoy of 700 Polish political prisoners deported to Auschwitz — a former army barracks in the city of Oswiecim. “So he was already very thin after eight months of backbreaking work and malnutrition,” Sobolewicz said.
“He was the smaller of the two, but he was agile and fast. He had an incredible punch, aimed right for the stomach, and knew how to duck his opponent’s blows. He won the fight and got his bread and margarine. You have to admit that the Germans kept their promise.”
More fights were to follow.
Pietrzykowski threw himself into them, knowing full well that he risked death by starvation.
For his fellow inmates, every blow he struck was a source of pride and hope. “We were elated. We said to ourselves, ‘As long as there’s a Pole punching a German in the face, Poland’s not finished’,” Sobolewicz said.
After Germany’s defeat by the Soviets at the Battle of Stalingrad in early 1943, the camp guards from the Nazis’ notorious SS sought ways to forget that the tide of the war was turning, Sobolewicz said. They watched the matches — pitting prisoners between themselves as well as against the kapos – and placed bets.
After the first scratch bouts, the camp authorities let the boxers build a proper ring and allowed them to make gloves, according to Bogacka’s research.
Pietrzykowski notched up some 40 fights, and around 20 more after he was transferred to the Neuengamme camp in northern Germany in 1943. He survived the war, passing away in 1991 in Bielsko-Biala in southern Poland.
His most celebrated Auschwitz match was against Schally Hottenach, a 96-kilo German. He won with a second-round knockout. That bout inspired the 1963 film “The Boxer and Death” by Slovak director Peter Solan.
Auschwitz’s twin death camp of Birkenau was purpose-built nearby in 1942.
Jews from across Europe — often told by the Nazis that they were being resettled” in the East — were sent there directly by train to be murdered in its gas chambers. The new arrivals had a meager chance of surviving thanks to the “selection”, where the SS picked out individuals deemed suitable for forced labor because of their peacetime professions.
Boxers were on the list.
Jewish middleweight Salamo Barouch, from Greece, was one who survived as a result, though he is not known to have faced Pietrzykowski in the ring.
The camp also saw football matches.
“The kapos wanted to amuse themselves. They played football amongst themselves, but taking on players of a different nationality brought an extra edge,” said Kazimierz Albin, who escaped in February 1943 and joined the Polish resistance. “And for us, being on the team meant getting extra food rations and being given lighter forced labor, so it was a chance to survive,” recalled Albin, 90.
Adam Cyra, a historian at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, said a football pitch was set up to the right of the Birkenau train ramp. “For people who were about to die, the vision of prisoners playing football against the kapos was meant to be reassuring,” he said.
A million Jews perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau, along with tens of thousands of others including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war, between 1940 and its liberation by the Red Army in January 1945.
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