Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Understanding the Complexity of Conversion

As we approach Passover and think about being a stranger and the way we should be treating "strangers," this article discusses the ways we must support those going through conversion to Judaism in Israel.

Rabbi Mario

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Embrace the stranger in our midst
Even if we cannot eradicate the complexity of our tradition’s attitude to conversion, we must understand the pain it causes for those who seek to join us.
March 28, 2012, 11:04

A conversion to Judaism in a rabbinic court (photo credit: Flash 90)

One would need a heart of stone not to be deeply touched by the pseudonymously written column “A Convert in a Strange Land.” Here is the voice of a woman raised in the Jewish community, whose prospective conversion does not entail leaving a previous religion behind, who presumably has the support of her family – yet for whom, despite all this, an awareness of Judaism’s conflicting attitudes to converts is the source of great pain.

The author of this moving column is quite right in pointing to Judaism’s complex attitude to converts. In many ways, the tradition seems to welcome them, declaring that a convert is an Israelite in all respects (Bava Metzia 47b) and warning that one who derides the convert violates as many as 46 negative commandments (Bava Metziah 59b). Mishnah Bava Metzia (4:10) even forbids a Jew from reminding a convert that his ancestors were Gentiles.

However, as our writer correctly asserts, matters are not as simple as that. Indeed, the Jewish tradition has always been conflicted about conversion as a possibility and about converts as members of the Jewish community. The Talmud states in several places (Yevamot 47b among them) that “converts are as burdensome to [the People of] Israel as leprosy.” Other unflattering comments can also be found. This ambivalent outlook stems, in all likelihood, from the fact that the Jewish people is more than a theological community; it is a historical and ethnic one as well. One can adopt a theology, but it is much more difficult (and perhaps even impossible) to fully adopt a history or an ethnicity. Could that explain why the convert is called a ger, which means “stranger”?

One can adopt a theology, but it is far more difficult to adopt a history. Young Chinese men study Torah to prepare for their Orthodox conversion (photo credit: Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Joining a community that insists that you are wholly accepted and yet does not completely believe it has to be more painful than any of us who were born to two Jewish parents can begin to imagine. Our author’s crie de coeur ought to be a reminder of the pain experienced by many in our community. Even if we cannot eradicate the complexity of our tradition’s attitude to conversion (which reflects the complex nature of what Judaism is), we ought to at least heighten our understanding of the pain this complex attitude creates for those who seek to join us.

But no less important is the fact that there is something that we can do. The mere fact that the author of this moving column did not want her real name used, for fear that it would complicate her conversion process, shows how callous, and even vindictive, conversion has become in recent years. One of the points that we sought to make in our new book, “Pledges of Jewish Allegiance: Conversion, Law, and Policy-Making in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Orthodox Responsa,” is that Orthodox rulings on conversion have sometimes gone to great lengths to recognize the emotional trauma that conversion or the refusal to accept a convert can entail.

Those rabbinic authorities that have increasingly turned the conversion process (both in Israel and abroad) into a needlessly cruel and dismissive process would do well to reflect on the profound pathos and empathy for the convert that once characterized the worldviews of their equally Orthodox forebears.
Compassion: Legalize it

To cite but one of the many halakhic authorities we discuss, Rabbi David Z. Hoffmann, the most important Orthodox German rabbi in the decades before his death in 1921, regularly refused to ignore the human dimension of cases that came before him. In the case of a man already civilly married to a Jewish woman who was pregnant, Hoffmann understood that the likelihood that this man would be ritually observant was close to nil. That, one might imagine, could have been enough for Hoffmann to turn him away. But Hoffmann noted that if the beit dinrefused to convert her husband, his wife would be humiliated and, should the husband leave her, would possibly be forced to dwell alone.

Hoffmann even expressed concern for the children who would be born from this union. These children, who were halakhic Jews, might be drawn after their father and his religion should he not be converted. “And these sheep,” Hoffmann mused, “how did they sin?”

In today’s Orthodox world, that man would stand no chance of being converted. Consideration for his wife’s loneliness or his children’s upbringing would almost certainly be ignored. Not terribly long ago, though, some Orthodox authorities understood that the greater the halakhic expertise, the greater was the latitude that could be employed to address human pain. What have we lost today? The halakhic genius, or the simple care for human beings?

What have we lost today? The halakhic genius, or the simple care for human beings?

Authors typically have many hopes when they write a book. Our primary academic agenda in writing our book was to illustrate that many Orthodox legal authorities saw themselves not only as halakhic arbiters, but as shapers of Jewish public policy. Yet books can do many things simultaneously. If our “Pledges of Jewish Allegiance” also helps to raise awareness of the ways in which Orthodox authorities once unabashedly factored simple human compassion into their legal rulings, leading committed Jews today to begin to demand that people like the author of “A Convert in a Strange Land” be treated differently than is too often the case today, we will be very gratified.

The Jewish community will, undoubtedly, be profoundly colored by the sorts of converts that it accepts. But it will be shaped, no less, by the pathos we muster as we formulate policy that is both halakhically sound as well as sociologically wise.

Kadima candidates face off on religion, state

This article tells us about the discussions and differing opinions now shaping Israeli society. Are we facing a drastic change through the Kadimah party?

New voices should be heard and respected as Israel approaches her 64th birthday.

I welcome your comments…

Rabbi Analia

Kadima candidates face off on religion, state


03/26/2012 01:35

Livni skeptical about compromise with ultra-Orthodox parties; Mofaz: Haredim understand they must serve in IDF.

Kadima leadership candidates Tzipi Livni and Shaul Mofaz faced off on issues of religion and state at an event hosted by the Pluralistic Faction in the Masorti Movement on Sunday.

Religion and state should not be totally separate in Israel, Livni said at the event in Kfar Saba, but religion and politics must be separate to some degree. She called for Judaism to be symbolically connected to Israel, but said that all citizens must have freedom.

“In Israel, everyone must be given an equal chance,” Mofaz declared. “Israel must be more liberal, and update itself for 2012.”

The Kadima MK added that marriage has become a major issue on the political agenda that must be resolved, saying that “no one can take away the right to start a family,” and the government must be sensitive and flexible on these matters.

However, when asked specifically if he will allow Conservative rabbis to marry couples, Mofaz said that he believes civil marriages should be expanded to include Jewish people.

Livni also discussed civil marriages as the best way to reach a compromise with the rabbinate.

However, Livni was skeptical about the possibility of ever compromising with haredi parties, citing her experiences as immigrant absorption minister and justice minister with matters of conversion and rabbinical courts, in which she was unable to reach a middle ground.

She said a strong Kadima is necessary in order to build a coalition without haredi parties that would bring equality in the “burdens” relating to the military and economic arenas by requiring haredim to serve in the IDF and study the Education Ministry’s core curriculum.

“I have nothing against haredim; they are part of my nation. I am not trying to split the nation; I am for unity. We need to be united around a joint purpose,” Livni said, explaining that a core curriculum would teach values like democracy, which would in turn encourage young haredim to enlist in the IDF and join the workforce.

If changes are not made soon, she added, citizens of Israel will pay the price for years to come.

Mofaz predicted that there would be more social protests this summer, which would be focused on the “unequal division of the burden.” He explained that, as chief of staff in the IDF, he opposed the Tal Law, which allowed full-time yeshiva students to receive an exemption from IDF service, on grounds that it legalized inequality.

As chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, he said that he was working on new legislation to replace the Tal Law, which will allow the IDF to choose which 18-year-olds it will recruit and which should do civilian national service.

Mofaz explained that he has discussed the matter with haredi leaders, saying that they understand the importance of IDF service and that it will help haredim join the workforce.

Livni closed her speech by encouraging Kadima members to vote on Tuesday.

“The weather report says it will drizzle on Tuesday,” she said. “If you let the drizzle stop you on the way to the polls, you will be responsible for the downpour in Israel’s future.”

Meanwhile, sources close to Mofaz and MK Avi Dichter (Kadima) denied a report that Mofaz had promised Dichter his post as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in return for Dichter quitting the race and endorsing him on Thursday.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Story of Exodus

A wonderful video to start preparing to retell the story of the Exodus. Enjoy!!!


Rabbi Mario

Israel Calling for a Retraction on Toulouse-Gaza Comparison

With a piercing pain in our souls, we read about the murder of French Jews in France. Anti-Semitic acts like this one have been a constant reality throughout our history.  Each act is unique and each life is priceless. We mourn the loss of children and adult in this tragic episode that leaves us speechless but encourages us to act and defend our principles and our Jewish identity.

May the memories of those victims be remembered for blessings.

Tehey Zichram Baruch.

Rabbi Analia

Israel to Ashton: Retract Toulouse-Gaza comparison


03/20/2012 09:17
EU foreign policy chief related shooting of French Jews in Toulouse to "what is happening in Gaza"; Ban condemns attack.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni each criticized EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday for relating the murder of French Jews in Toulouse with "what is happening in Gaza."

Speaking during a visit to China, Liberman said that the comparison was inappropriate and that he hopes that she retracts her statement. The children Ashton should be talking about, he continued, "are the ones in southern Israel who live in constant fear of rocket attacks [launched against] them from Gaza."

Ashton told a group of Palestinian youth in Brussels on Monday: "When we think about what happened today in Toulouse, we remember what happened in Norway last year, we know what is happening in Syria, and we see what is happening in Gaza and other places - we remember young people and children who lose their lives."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak harshly condemned the statement, calling it "outrageous and far from reality."

"The IDF operates with maximum caution in Gaza in order to prevent harm to innocents," Barak said. "I hope that the EU's foreign minister will quickly realize the mistake she made and withdraw her comments."

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni also called on Ashton to retract the statement, which she called "unacceptable, outrageous and wrong."

"There is no similarity between an act of hatred or a leader killing members of his nation and a country fighting terror, even if civilians are harmed," Livni added.

Ashton's statement came after a gunman opened fire at a crowd of parents and children outside a Jewish school in Toulouse, France on Monday, killing four people.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai also denounced Ashton's statement Tuesday and called for her resignation.

"The statement by Lady Ashton further harms the ability of the European Union to be an honest broker" between Israel and the Palestinians, Yishai said.

"[Ashton] can no longer serve in her position," the interior minister added.

Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The End of the Seven Year Forgery Trial

An interesting article on the end of a seven year trial on a case that fascinated the world and created all kind of theories.


Rabbi Mario

Copies from Times of Israel
Oded Golan is not guilty of forgery. So is the ‘James ossuary’ for real?
The failure of a high-profile prosecution for antiquities fraud perpetuates the mystery of a find hailed as physical proof that Jesus existed.

Oded Golan, the Tel Aviv collector accused of forging biblical artifacts, was at the center of a seven-year trial that ended in his acquittal Wednesday. But he was never its star — that role belonged to the artifacts themselves.

While the significance of the exoneration for Golan himself is obvious, what it means for the antiquities is less clear.

The most famous of the artifacts is a stone box known as the “James ossuary,” exhibited at the Royal Ontario Museum a decade ago and touted by some scholars as the first archaeological evidence for the existence of Jesus. It bears an Aramaic inscription reading, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”

Oded Golan was acquitted Wednesday of forging antiquities, but the judge did not rule whether the artifacts in question were genuine or fake (photo credit: AP/Sebastian Scheiner).

The prosecution claimed Golan had taken a genuine but common ossuary inscribed with the words “James, son of Joseph,” and added the words “brother of Jesus,” turning it into a find of global importance and vast worth. Then, according to the charge, he manufactured a fake patina — the thin film of grime that typically accumulates over centuries — and applied it to the new inscription to make it seem ancient.

He was also accused of manufacturing the ancient Hebrew inscription on a rectangular piece of stone known as the “Jehoash tablet,” which recounted a Temple renovation by a king of Jerusalem in the 9th century B.C.E. If genuine, the tablet is one of the most spectacular items ever to have surfaced in the world of biblical archaeology.

Golan was also accused of forging a string of other artifacts, including clay seal imprints, a lamp, and a ceramic decanter. He denied all of the accusations and was acquitted of all charges of forgery and fraud. The judge convicted him only of lesser offenses: possessing objects suspected of being stolen and selling antiquities without a license.

The case offered a glimpse at the murky world of biblical antiquities, where objects often surface not in excavations but on the black market, their origins unclear and their authenticity difficult or impossible to confirm. Golan said he had obtained most of the objects in question, including the ossuary, from dealers, most of them Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The Jehoash tablet, with an inscription in ancient Hebrew, was one of the objects at the center of the trial (photo credit: Courtesy the Israel Antiquities Authority).

The thirst for objects that offer a physical link to the world of the Bible, and the sums involved — the Jehoash tablet was purportedly offered to the Israel Museum for $4 million, though no sale ever took place — would make objects of this type well worth a forger’s time.

The Golan case has had the effect of making collectors and experts more suspicious of forgeries, and museums have reviewed their collections looking for fakes. Because of the trial, the Israel Antiquities Authority wrote in its response to the verdict, “there has been an almost complete cessation of the publication of finds that come from the antiquities market without first knowing their exact place of discovery, and the trade in written documents and seals derived from illicit antiquities excavations has been halted almost entirely.”

In his ruling Wednesday, the judge went out of his way to say that the fact Golan had been found not guilty did not mean the artifacts were real.

His decision to clear Golan of forging the inscription on the James ossuary, he wrote, “does not mean that the inscription on the ossuary is authentic or that it was written 2,000 years ago. This will continue to be studied by scientists and archaeologists, and time will tell.

“Moreover,” he wrote, “it was not proven in any way that the words ‘the brother of Jesus’ necessarily refer to the ‘Jesus’ who appears in Christian writings.”

This applies to all of the artifacts in question, he added several hundred pages later in the lengthy text of his decision: “All that has been established is that the tools and the science currently at the disposal of the experts who testified were not sufficient to prove the alleged forgeries beyond a reasonable doubt as is required by criminal law.”

In short, the case’s conclusion does not establish whether or not the James ossuary, the Jehoash tablet, or any of the artifacts in questions are historic discoveries or slick fakes. The only clear conclusion to be drawn from the trial, perhaps, is a frustrating one: Where ancient artifacts are concerned, that distinction is nearly impossible to make.

“The trial was a collision of two worlds — criminal prosecution and scholarly archaeology,” said journalist Matthew Kalman, the editor of The Jerusalem Report and the only reporter to cover the entire trial.

“The two simply speak different languages,” he said. “The verdict will not make a difference to the archaeologists arguing about the whether the artifacts are authentic.”

Returning to Normalcy

How do you define "normalcy"?

Going back to the old bitter routine of rocket attacks and Israel's right of self-defense,
 our attention is deviated from the threats of Iran because the south of our beloved Eretz is once again exposed to the unknown.

In this article, Donniel Hartman expresses his thoughts about how do we define "normalcy" in a place where confusion and uncertainty reign.

We welcome your thoughts.

May we see the light of peace in the near future.
Rabbi Analia

Returning to Normalcy: The Old “Cycle of Violence”

11.03.2012, by Donniel Hartman

After weeks in which all that was talked about was “the existential threat” of a nuclear Iran, it was somewhat comforting in a macabre sense to return back to “normalcy” and the “regular” conflict between Israel and the terrorist groups who populate Gaza.

Israel assassinated Popular Resistance Committee Secretary-General Zuhir al-Qaisi, the known terrorist leader who was involved in the planning of an imminent terrorist attack from Sinai. In response, more than 100 rockets were fired at Israeli civilian population centers. In response to that, Israel bombed munitions factories and missile launching pads in Gaza. In world parlance, the above is often coined, “a cycle of violence,” in which all sides are encouraged to exercise self-restraint.

Should we exercise self-restraint? Should we engage in pre-emptive, targeted assassinations, knowing full well the “cycle of violence” that will ensue? I cannot speak to the military efficacy of Israel’s actions, as I am not a qualified military expert. I am, however, both a citizen of Israel and a teacher of Jewish law and thought, and I can speak from those perspectives.

Let me speak first as an Israeli. An essential part of our national ethos is to be pro-actively engaged in shaping our future. While full independence and complete self-sufficiency are myths, as a sovereign state, we nevertheless aspire to determine our own destiny to the best of our ability. We look at events and factors which may seem to be grim and declare: Yes, we can. This may cause discomfort among some who want the status quo to be preserved, not necessarily at all costs, but often, it seems, at our cost. They want the conflict to be resolved, and the problem to simply go away. Alas, the problem is still here, and the conflict is very much alive.

As an Israeli, I want my government to do everything in its power to change the status quo. This requires courageous moves of diplomacy but also audacity on the battlefield. I don’t want a government which is arrogant enough to believe that it can do anything, and that for every problem there is a military solution. I do, however, want a government which is willing to experiment with the means at its disposal to make the lives of those who aim to harm me and my fellow citizens both difficult and extremely dangerous. As I said, I cannot judge the military efficacy of each military act, but as a citizen of Israel I embrace the need to act and to attempt to proactively give us the security that we deserve.

As a teacher of Jewish law and thought, what do I think about targeted killings? While the Jewish tradition elevates the sanctity of life as one of its highest values and sees all of humanity as equal in value, for we were all created in the image of God, it does not merely allow but obligates acts of self-defense. As human beings, we are endowed with power in order to complete and repair the world. At times this requires of us generosity of spirit and social responsibility and action. At other times, however, it requires that we use that power in order to root out evil. When we do so, we are neither acting immorally nor amorally, but rather fulfilling our core moral responsibility. One cannot be committed to the sanctity of life in general without being committed to valuing the sanctity of one’s own life. Self-defense is a higher moral expression than self-sacrifice. Our tradition teaches us, “haba l’horg’cha hashkem l’horgo,” (“When someone arises to kill you, pre-empt them, and kill them first.” Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 62b) and in so doing, gives moral legitimacy to pre-emptive acts of self-defense.

Pre-emption, however, is a slippery term and can, in a slippery slope, morph into aggression. While power can be a vehicle for profound moral expression, it can also corrupt. Targeted killings of known terrorist leaders, those with blood on their hands and the self-expressed desire and capacity to spill more blood, are not morally ambiguous, but rather acts of tikkun olam, repairing the world.

I hate to see 20 percent of Israel living under the threat of missiles. I am pained by the fact that they must bear the brunt of our actions. I am thankful that the Iron Dome missile defense system is able to mitigate somewhat the price that is demanded of them.

At the same time, I recognize that evil exists, and that it is our responsibility as Israelis and moral duty as Jews to see this evil, and even if we cannot destroy it completely, to do everything in our power to limit it and to not allow its terrorist intent to rule our neighborhood. In doing so, we are not instigating a cycle of violence, but rather giving expression to the value we place on life and our right as a sovereign people to try to provide a safer future for our citizens.

I pray and expect that the innovativeness on the battlefield will not lead to arrogance and that the pro-active use of power will always be accompanied by pro-active attempts to make this use of power unnecessary. When we do so, we will be fulfilling our mission as Israelis and Jews.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Israel and Energy

Making the desert boom
02/27/2012 22:59

However great the economic impact of Israel’s energy sector transformation will be, the interdependent geopolitical consequences look even more astonishing.
We are now witnessing a transformation of the energy landscape of Israel. In the short term, Israel is actually suffering from an energy shortage. Warnings of blackouts and higher electricity rates are the result of recent attacks on the natural gas pipeline between Egypt and Israel, as well as the unexpected decline in production from Israel’s sole existing domestic off-shore gas site, known as the Mary B field.

Notwithstanding the current energy crunch, Israel is poised to become energy independent and a net energy exporter within this decade in light of significant discoveries of both off-shore natural gas reserves and onshore deposits of shale oil.

Some quick statistics: The Tamar, Leviathan and Tanin 1 natural gas fields, located off the coast of Haifa, together account for around 730 billion cubic meters of gas. Israel consumes only 3.25 billion cubic meters of gas per year, so these reserves will eventually negate the need to import natural gas and potentially allow for exporting large quantities of this energy source (experts estimate approximately $3 billion a year in added revenue).

Furthermore, these discoveries will drastically reduce the need to import coal – a CO2 emitting fossil fuel Israel currently relies on to generate 40 percent of its electricity.

Shale deposits deep under the surface of Israel could potentially dwarf these abundant natural gas discoveries.

Exploration conducted by Israel Energy Initiatives (IEI), revealed that Israel could be sitting on vast shale oil reserves, approximately 250 billion barrels of oil, third only to the United States and perhaps China. Comparatively, Saudi Arabia has proven reserves of about 260 billion barrels. Israel consumes around 100 million barrels of oil a year (imported mostly from Russia and former Soviet states), accounting for around 50% of its primary energy consumption. If IEI’s bold project comes to fruition, by 2020, Israel could be extracting some 50,000 barrels per day (bpd), around 1/6th of its daily imports at 282,000 bpd.

While these discoveries – especially with respect to the shale oil – present profound environmental, health, security, feasibility and cost hurdles, large energy consuming states such as China and India have already begun to court Israel in an effort to diversify their energy portfolios and meet the growing energy demands of their economies. Israel, for its part, has responded to Asian overtures with a bold plan, approved unanimously this week by the Israeli cabinet, to build the first railway between its Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts. This so-called “Med-Red” railway would create an alternative to Egypt’s Suez Canal, effectively creating a new land bridge between Europe and Asia. This concept is especially attractive given Egypt’s current instability and opaque future, as well as the possible closure of the Straits of Hormuz.

For Israel, it’s not only about the billions of dollars in additional revenue – the strategic value of hosting such a vital commercial route is just as, if not more, significant.

China has signaled a willingness to invest in the Med-Red project. With this intertwining of the Chinese and Israeli economies, we may see a shift of Chinese policy in the Middle East – a more balanced diplomacy that takes into account not only China’s Gulf and Iranian interests, but those of Israel as well. Such a policy shift could have repercussions on the UN Security Council – where critical Chinese votes against Israeli interests have become the norm rather than the exception.

Energy security, new revenue streams, and the upgrade of relations with emerging global powers such as China and India couldn’t come at a better time for Israel. The traditional list of allies of Israel has grown thin – a consequence of the Arab Spring, strategic policy shifts in Turkey, and growing resentment within Europe over perceived obstructionism by the Netanyahu-led government.

As Israel’s economy grows due to these energy sector discoveries, so too will its resilience to anti-Israel efforts such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign.

As for the United States, the historic interlocutor for peace in the Middle East, financial and security interests dictate a continued presence in the region for the foreseeable future. However, the United States has its own energy independence goals, as stated most recently in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address where he emphatically called for an “American-made energy” industry. As America invests in its own oil, natural gas and shale reserves, it will become less dependent on Middle East oil. In fact, it’s already happening: President Obama declared that last year the US relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years.

The American public, not to mention the US Treasury, is drained from two long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As we have seen in Libya and with the inclusion of the Middle East Quartet in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the United States is becoming more comfortable “leading from behind,” receding somewhat from its previously dominant position in order to get its financial house in order. As incentives decrease for costly Middle- Eastern entanglements, the US-Israel alliance could see a waning as well.

If the US eventually retreats from the forefront of the Arab-Israeli conflict, it seems China is situated to fill that void. China is a vocal supporter of the two-state solution, but maintains “pro-Palestinian” positions with respect to east Jerusalem, Israeli settlement expansion and Palestine’s UN membership bid. These positions, while controversial, would help energize the perpetually stalled peace talks. American failures to broker a peace deal have been blamed by some on its inability to neutrally arbitrate and its unwillingness to put the appropriate pressure on its ally Israel. A Chinese-led effort would ameliorate these concerns and give the peace process a much needed fresh start. Also, China has far more influence over Iran than does the US (China-Iran trade is a booming $45 billion), so any Chinese- brokered peace deal would likely be more comprehensive than anything the US could offer – a boon to Israel.

However great the economic impact of Israel’s energy sector transformation will be, the interdependent geopolitical consequences look even more astonishing.

Nicholas Saidel received his law degree from Georgetown University and his Master’s Degree in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is associate director of the Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis & Response (ISTAR) at the University of Pennsylvania. Harvey Rubin, M.D., PhD., is a Professor of Medicine and Computer Science at the University of Pennsylvania and founder and director of ISTAR.

Netanyahu's Speech to AIPAC 2012

Haverim yekarim,
       Once again, we come back absolutely energized by the 2012 AIPAC Policy Conference. Once again, this bipartisan institution showed the importance of a strong partnership between the United States and the State of Israel. Under the motto of "Shared Values, Shared Vision," we rediscovered the essence of each one of our voices and the transcendence of our participation in advocating for Israel as it faces many challenges in the global arena as well as internal problems. Nevertheless, Israel succeeds in being one of the most avant-guard countries in the world. How can this miracle happen? The creative minds of the Israeli society, resiliency, hope, and a progressive mindset are some of the ingredients for success.
        Let me share the full speech of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with you.

Rabbi Analia.

Copied from 
Full Text of Netanyahu Speech to AIPAC 2012
MARCH 5, 2012 10:40 PM

Full text of the speech delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to delegates at the AIPAC pilocy conference in Washington D.C. 2012.

5 March, 2012

Thank you. Todah rabah.

Thank you very much.

Sara and I want to thank you for that wonderful reception. This applause that could be heard as far away as Jerusalem . Jerusalem – the eternal and united capital of Israel.

Thank you Howard, Rosy, Michael, and thank you all the leadership of AIPAC. Thank you for everything that you do.

I know that more than a half of the members of Congress are in attendance here tonight. I deeply appreciate your being here.

Michael, you said that when I spoke last May, in Congress, you – the members of congress – stood up to applaud the State of Israel.

Now I ask for another applause. Now I ask the 13,000 friends of Israel who are here tonight to stand up and applaud you – the representatives of the United States for standing up for Israel. Democrats and Republicans alike, I salute your unwavering support to the Jewish state

I want to send a special message to a great friend of Israel who is not here tonight: Senator Mark Kirk, the co-author of the Kirk-Menendez Iran Sanctions Act.

Senator Kirk, I know you’re watching this tonight. Please get well soon. America needs you; Israel needs you.

I send you wishes for a speedy recovery. So get well and get back to work.

I also want to recognize Yossi Peled, who is here tonight. Yossi, would you please stand up.

Yossi was born in Belgium. His parents hid him with a Christian family during the Holocaust, World War II. His father and many other members of his family were murdered at Auschwitz.

His mother survived the Holocaust, returned to reclaim Yossi, and brought him to Israel. He became one of Israel’s bravest and greatest generals. And today, he serves as a minister in my cabinet.

Yossi’s life is the story of the Jewish people – the story of a powerless and stateless people who became a strong and proud nation, able to defend itself.

And ladies and gentlemen, Israel must always reserve the right to defend itself.

I want to recognize Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. Michael, you’re doing an outstanding job. Thank you for all you do for our country. And thank you for everything you are doing for the friendship between Israel and the United States.

I also want to recognize Ambassador Dan Shapiro, the United States’ Ambassador to Israel. President Obama is right, your Hebrew is improving, though it is not on par with Michael Oren’s. Dan, we appreciate your efforts to strengthen the alliance between America and Israel.

Are there any students here tonight?

Is there anyone here from Florida?

from New York?

from Wisconsin? — that’s important. I’ll tell you about it later

from California?

You’re the future, and thank you all for ensuring the future of the great alliance between America and Israel.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tonight, I’d like to talk to you about a subject that no one has been talking about recently…: Iran.

Every day, I open the newspapers and read about these redlines and these timelines. I read about what Israel has supposedly decided to do, or what Israel might do.

Well, I’m not going to talk to you about what Israel will do or will not do, I never talk about that. But I do want to talk to you about the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran. I want to explain why Iran must never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

President Obama has reiterated his commitment to prevent that from happening. He stated clearly that all options are on the table, and that American policy is not containment.

Well, Israel has exactly the same policy — We are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; we leave all options on the table; and containment is definitely not an option.

The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal.

A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped.

Amazingly, some people refuse to acknowledge that Iran’s goal is to develop nuclear weapons. You see, Iran claims to do everything it’s doing, that it’s enriching uranium to develop medical isotopes.

Yeah, that’s right.

A country that builds underground nuclear facilities, develops intercontinental ballistic missiles, manufactures thousands of centrifuges, and that absorbs crippling sanctions, is doing all that in order to advance…medical research.

So you see, when that Iranian ICBM is flying through the air to a location near you, you’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s only carrying medical isotopes.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then what is it?

That’s right, it’s a duck. But this duck is a nuclear duck. And it’s time the world started calling a duck a duck.

Fortunately, President Obama and most world leaders understand that the claim that Iran’s goal is not to develop nuclear weapons is simply ridiculous.

Yet incredibly, some are prepared to accept an idea only slightly less preposterous: that we should accept a world in which the Ayatollahs have atomic bombs.

Sure, they say, Iran is cruel, but it’s not crazy. It’s detestable but it’s deterrable.

My friends,

Responsible leaders should not bet the security of their countries on the belief that the world’s most dangerous regimes won’t use the world’s most dangerous weapons.

And I promise you that as Prime Minister, I will never gamble with the security of the State of Israel.

From the beginning, the Ayatollah regime has broken every international rule and flouted every norm. It has seized embassies, targeted diplomats. It sends its own children through mine fields; it hangs gays and stones women; it supports Assad’s brutal slaughter of the Syrian people; it is the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism: It sponsors Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa, even South America.

Iran’s proxies have dispatched hundreds of suicide bombers, planted thousands of roadside bombs, and they fired over twenty thousand missiles at civilians.

Through terror from the skies and terror on the ground, Iran is responsible for the murder of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans.

In 1983, Iran’s proxy Hezbollah blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon, killing 240 US Marines. In the last decade, it’s been responsible for murdering and maiming American soldiers in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

Just a few months ago, it tried to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the US in a restaurant just a few blocks from here. The assassins didn’t care that several Senators and members of Congress would have been murdered in the process.

Now this is real chutzpa, Iran accuses the American government of orchestrating 9/11, and that’s as brazen as denying the Holocaust, and they do…

Iran calls for Israel’s destruction, and they work for its destruction – each day, every day.

This is how Iran behaves today, without nuclear weapons. Think of how they will behave tomorrow, with nuclear weapons. Iran will be even more reckless and a lot more dangerous.

There’s been plenty of talk recently about the costs of stopping Iran. I think it’s time we started talking about the costs of not stopping Iran.

A nuclear-armed Iran would dramatically increase terrorism by giving terrorists a nuclear umbrella. Let me try to explain what that means, a nuclear umbrella.

It means that Iran’s terror proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas will be emboldened to attack the United States, Israel, and other countries because they will be backed by a power that has atomic weapons. So the terrorism could grow tenfold.

A nuclear-armed Iran could choke off the world’s oil supply and make real its threat to close the Straits of Hormouz.

If you’re worried about the price of oil today, imagine how high oil prices could get once a nuclear-armed Iran starts blackmailing the world.

If Iran gets nuclear weapons, it would set off a mad dash by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. The world’s most volatile region would become a nuclear tinderbox waiting to go off.

And here’s the worst nightmare of all, with nuclear weapons, Iran could threaten all of us with nuclear terrorism.

It could put a nuclear device in a ship heading to any port or in a truck parked in any city, anywhere in the world.

I want you to think about what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in the hands of those who lead millions of radicals who chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

When you think about that m you’ll reach a simple conclusion: for the sake of our prosperity, for the sake of our security, for the sake of our children, Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons!

Of course, the best outcome would be if Iran decided to abandon its nuclear weapons program peacefully. No one would be happier than me and the people of Israel if Iran dismantled its program.

But so far, that hasn’t happened. For fifteen years, I’ve been warning that a nuclear-armed Iran is a grave danger to my country and to the peace and security of the entire world.

For the last decade, the international community has tried diplomacy. It hasn’t worked.

For six years, the international community has applied sanctions. That hasn’t worked either.

I appreciate President Obama’s recent efforts to impose even tougher sanctions against Iran. These sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy, but unfortunately, Iran’s nuclear program continues to march forward.

Israel has waited patiently for the international community to resolve this issue. We’ve waited for diplomacy to work. We’ve waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer.

As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Some commentators would have you believe that stopping Iran from getting the bomb is more dangerous than letting Iran have the bomb. They say that a military confrontation with Iran would undermine the efforts already underway; that it would be ineffective; and that it would provoke an even more vindictive response by Iran.

I’ve heard these arguments before. In fact, I’ve read them before — In my desk, I have copies of an exchange of letters between the World Jewish Congress and the United States War Department.

Here are the letters:

The year was 1944. The World Jewish Congress implored the American government to bomb Auschwitz. The reply came five days later. I want to read it to you.

Such an operation could be executed only by diverting considerable air support essential to the success of our forces elsewhere…

and in any case, it would be of such doubtful efficacy that it would not warrant the use of our resources…

And, my friends, here’s the most remarkable sentence of all, and I quote:

Such an effort might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans.

Think about that – “even more vindictive action” — than the Holocaust.

My Friends,

2012 is not 1944. The American government today is different. You heard it in President Obama’s speech yesterday.

But here’s my point:

The Jewish people are also different. Today we have a state of our own. And the purpose of the Jewish state is to defend Jewish lives and to secure the Jewish future.

Never again will we not be masters of the fate of our very survival. Never again.

That is why Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.

We deeply appreciate the great alliance between our two countries. But when it comes to Israel’s survival, we must always remain the masters of our fate.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel’s fate is to continue to be the forward position of freedom in the Middle East. The only place in the Middle East where minorities enjoy full civil rights; the only place in the Middle East where Arabs enjoy full civil rights; the only place in the Middle East where Christians are free to practice their faith; the only place in the Middle East where real judges protect the rule of law.

And as Prime Minister of Israel, I will always protect Israel’s democracy – always. I will never allow anything to threaten Israel’s democratic way of life. and most especially, I will never tolerate any discrimination against women.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This week, we will read how one woman changed Jewish history.

In Synagogues throughout the world, the Jewish people will celebrate the festival of Purim. We will read how some 2,500 years ago, a Persian anti-Semite tried to annihilate the Jewish people.

And we will read how that plot was foiled by one courageous woman – Esther.

In every generation, there are those who wish to destroy the Jewish people.

In this generation, we are blessed to live in an age when there is a Jewish state capable of defending the Jewish people.

And we are doubly blessed to have so many friends like you, Jews and non-Jews alike, who love the State of Israel and support its right to defend itself.

So as I leave you tonight I thank you for your friendship. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for standing up for the one and only Jewish state.

Thank you all and happy Purim.