For Israel’s Magen David Adom – a Pyrrhic Victory

“If that’s a victory, we’d hate to see a defeat,” declared the Dec. 9, 2005 editorial of the Wall Street Journal – the most influential daily in the United States. The editorial referred to Magen David Adom’s (MDA) admission to the International Red Cross, in exchange for relinquishing the red Star of David for a red crystal/diamond (unless the host country allows the MDA personnel to insert the Red Star of David into the crystal/diamond).

The stance of the Wall Street Journal, which is a staunch supporter of Israel, demonstrates the erosion in Israel’s strategic image as a result of its sweeping concessions since 1993.

MDA’s capitulation – with the active encouragement of Israel’s government – reflects the spirit of Oslo, which has defined every Israeli Prime Minister since 1992, and has transformed “Red Lines” into “pink lines”, in order to avoid pressure.

This state of mind represents weakness as if it were strength, appeasement as determination, vacillation as restraint, adherence and devotion to roots, principles and patriotism as extremism, and iron-clad historical and security assets as “barren hills”, negotiation cards and liabilities.

However, nations don’t concede their national ethos and values – certainly not the 3,000-year-old ones – for any benefits, but as an expression of caving in to pressure. History shows that sovereignty and national security rest on ironclad assets, which tend to exact a short-term cost, but yield long term benefits. The neglect of such national properties demonstrates weakness. It adds fuel to the fire of pressure and terrorism.

Arab countries have never conceded their Red Crescent symbol, in order to join the Red Cross. They consider Israel’s concession of the Star of David as one more symptom of Israel’s disengagement from its roots and another symptom of going soft, rather than a sign of restraint and strength. [emphasis added]

Magen David Adom’s capitulation – even its willingness to enter into negotiation over the fate of its historic symbol – would have never even been considered by any Prime Minister prior to 1992 (from Ben Gurion to Shamir). But then the Oslo state of mind has afflicted Israel’s policy makers. The current form of capitulation is just another stage in the dramatic erosion of Israel’s steadfastness and power of deterrence. It has joined the steep, slippery slope of withdrawals and flimsiness: Snatching thousands of PLO terrorists from oblivion in Yemen, Iraq, Sudan and Tunisia and importing them to the door steps of their intended victims, putting Jerusalem on the negotiation table, coming to terms with a growing balance of terror with the Palestinian Authority and Hizbullah, ignoring hate education in the PA and Abu Mazen’s central role in directing the escalation of incitement and terrorism, recognizing Hamas as a “political organization” running for elections, bowing to Condoleezza Rice’s demand to give away control of the Gaza passages thus facilitating a flow of terrorists and military hardware to Gaza, Judea and Samaria, etc.

Until the 1992 transformation of state of mind, Israeli prime ministers resisted much heavier pressure. Therefore, their views were not accepted but they gained in respect, and ultimately enhanced strategic relations with the United States.

Magen David Adom’s capitulation is yet another Pyrrhic victory for a policy that sacrifices a long term national security, an eternal vision and 4,000 year old roots and principles on the altar of short-term tactics and quick and tenuous political gratifications. [emphasis added]

The MDA capitulation is yet another case of defying the lessons of history, which have proven that the preservation of roots has preserved the Jewish people and facilitated the renewal of sovereignty on its soil. Pyrrhic victories have caused cracks in Israel’s sovereignty and have transformed Israel from a prototype of defiance to a role model of retreat and submission to pressure [emphasis added].

Yoram Ettinger

The Year of the Good Soldier-Samaritan

At this time of the year it is important to recognize who the real Samaritans are. They are the members of the U.S. Armed Forces who are doing good around the world. As Tom Bevan writes in RealClearPolitics,

But as we sit back and reflect on a year filled with such turmoil and human tragedy, it should be obvious who the true Samaritans are: the members of the United States military.

Let us be crystal clear: the primary purpose of our Armed Forces is not to run around the world and do good deeds but to kill our enemies and protect and defend the United States of America. Be that as it may, nowhere else can you find a group of individuals doing more good for more people across the globe. Nowhere else can you find a group of professionals more courageous or more committed to the honorable principles to which they’ve pledged their lives.

Read the whole article.

Also, an Ohio member of the Army National Guard who was deployed to New Orleans in connection with Hurricane Katrina has started a blog, Camp Katrina that highlights stories about the humanitarian efforts of the U.S. Military in the Gulf area. They are doing great work there and I highly recommend you check out the blog, and while you are at it, send a thank you to Spc. Phil Van Treuren, Ohio Army National Guard, JAG Corps at

The Union for Reform Judaism has lost its way

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Lawrence Kaplan writes, “The Union for Reform Judaism stands for many causes. It’s no longer so clear that Jews count among them.”

The Union for Reform Judaism, which represents the largest branch of organized Judaism in the United States, constitutes the extreme left of American political thought and of American Jews. The concern of the Union is no longer “what is best for the Jews,” but what is best for the cause of American political liberalism.


Judging by the Union’s vocal opposition to the war, the problem, if anything, appears to be the reverse: What is “good for the Jews” seems to concern the organization less than what is good for American liberalism. A premature withdrawal from Iraq would be devastating to the cause of the Jewish state. That observation does not reflect the motives for having gone to war, but simply the outcome of abandoning a fellow democracy without condition and regardless of consequence — and the obvious consequence would be Iraq’s transformation into a den of terror. None of this seems to have made an impression on the reform Jewish organization.

The Union, which “came to these views based on Jewish teachings on war” and likens itself to “the rabbis of the Talmud,” has no claim to heightened moral awareness. Not only because it twists the words of those very rabbis (as with any religious text, the Talmud offers ammunition to multiple points of view, invoked to defend everything from Israel’s invasion of Lebanon to the “axis of evil” formulation). And not only because the Union’s intrusion into the public square comes from an organization that claims to be in the midst of an “ongoing defense of the wall of separation between church and state.” No, the real problem is that the Union grounds its arguments squarely in the traditions of secular humanism, and then purposefully conflates them with the traditions of religious Judaism.

True, the worldly admonition tikkun olam — repair the world — is one of Judaism’s signatures. But the Union isn’t about repairing the world. Is it really necessary, after all, to point out that its insistence on a U.S. withdrawal does nothing to further the Union’s call to “support the democratically elected Iraqi government”? Or that the “international community” that it invokes at every turn would sooner the Union’s members no longer existed? Or that the biblical injunction to “not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor,” one among many kernels of Jewish law the Union ostentatiously cites in defense of its Iraq position, means not abandoning Iraq to its fate?

Apparently so, because for all its confusions, the Union really does amount to an authentic expression of the political inclinations that define American Judaism today. As evinced by the Union’s position on Iraq, those inclinations defy easy logic. The American Jewish community’s attachment to the political left goes beyond obstinacy — to the point of running counter to the very requirements of that same community. Hence, when asked to choose between the security of Jews, on the one hand, and clichés about social equality and inadequate domestic expenditures, on the other, Reform Jewish leaders have put what they presume to be the secular equivalent to Judaism above the interests of Judaism itself. The Union for Reform Judaism stands for many causes. It’s no longer so clear that Jews count among them.

The Union for Reform Judaism has departed from its Jewish roots.

Spielberg’s Munich – Fantasy Fiction

For those of you who want to know what REALLY happened at the 1972 Olympics and the aftermath, forget anti-Israel leftist Tony Kushner’s script produced by Steven Spielberg. That is a biased attempt to equate Palestinian terrorists with innocent Israeli Olympic athletes.

You should get Aaron Klein’s excellent book, “Striking Back : The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel’s Deadly Response.”

Tony Kushner is a known Jewish leftist who hates Israel. He feels that if only Israel would stop killing Palestinian terrorists, there would be peace in the Middle East. Steven Spielberg naively agrees and feels that it is Israeli “intransigence” that is the reason there is no peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. It is that foolish naivete on the left that gets Israelis (and Americans) killed.

Read the real story.

Previous post: Munich stands for Appeasement

Reflections on Chanukah, 2005

By Yoram Ettinger

The following are not my original ideas, but rather the ideas of a number of Jewish thinkers:

1. ORIGIN OF THE NAME, CHANUKAH: THE HOLIDAY OF EDUCATION. According to the first book of The Maccabees, Yehuda (who succeeded Mattityahu) ordered the Jewish People to observe an eight day holiday on the 25th day of the month of Kislev, in order to commemorate the INAUGURATION (CHANUKAH in Hebrew) of the holy altar and the Temple, following Syrian desecration. A key feature of Chanukah is EDUCATION of the family (The Hebrew word for education is CHINUKH, spelled with the first four of the five letters of Chanukah). The Hebrew word, Chanukah, consists of two words, CHANU (they rested/stationed) and KAH (25), which refers to the fact that the Maccabees re-consecrated the Temple on the 25th day of the month of Kislev (purging it from the idolatries installed by the Seleucids). Some have suggested that the celebration of Christmas on December 25th and the celebration of the New Year 8 days later (January 1) have their origin in the 25th day of Kislev (which always “accompanies” December) and the 8 days of Chanukah as well as the eight days of circumcision.

2. ORIGIN OF THE NAME, MACCABEE. Yehuda’s middle name was Maccabee, derived possibly from the Hebrew word MAKEVET (The Power Hammer), which described Yehuda’s tenacious fighting capabilities. It may have derived from the Hebrew verb CABEH (to extinguish), which described the fate of Yehuda’s adversaries. Another possible interpretation of the name is that MACCABEE is the Hebrew acronym of “Who could resemble you among Gods, Jehovah” (“Mi Camokha Ba’elim Adonye” in Hebrew).

3. HOLIDAY OF LIGHT AND REMEMBRANCE. The first day of Chanukah – the holiday of light – is on the 25th day of Kislev, the month of miracles (e.g. Noah’s Rainbow appeared in Kislev). Moses completed the construction of the Holy Arc on the 25th day of Kislev, as was the date of the laying the foundation of the second Temple by Nehemaya. The 25th (Hebrew) word in Genesis is LIGHT (“OR” in Hebrew). A Jewish metaphor for the Torah is light. The 25th stop of the People of Israel – on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land – was Hashmona (same root as Hasmoneans in Hebrew). Chanukah commemorates the victory of Light (Maccabees) over Darkness. While light stands for remembrance, darkness (Chashecha in Hebrew) stands for FORGETFULNESS (Schichecha in Hebrew, spelled with the same Hebrew letters as Chashecah/darkness).

4. CHANUKAH DEMONSTRATES THAT WISDOM IS SUPERIOR TO KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING. Jewish definition of intellect and Jewish history demonstrate the superiority of Khokhma (faith in divinely inspired wisdom, morality and capabilities) over Beena (human understanding and interpretations) and Da’att (human intelligence/knowledge). The Greek/Syrian culture was based on the superiority of human knowledge and (tenuous) moral standards. The Greeks/Syrians felt constrained, and therefore threatened, by Jewish faith in divine (permanent) morality. Chanukah demonstrates the victory of divine morality over convenience-driven human definition of morality.

5. EIGHT DAYS OF CHANUKAH REPRESENT DIVINE CAPABILITIES AND OPTIMISM. The ancient Temple Menorah consisted of seven branches, which commemorated the seven days of creation. The Chanukah Menorah has eight branches, reflecting the additional level of divine capabilities over and beyond human expectations: The victory of the few over the many and the lasting of one day supply of oil for eight days. Some have suggested that the 8 day celebration was designed to make up for the holiday of Tabernacles, which could not be celebrated by the Maccabees due to the war. The shape of “Eight” represents infinity: No end to divine capabilities to enhance human fortunes, as evidenced by the survival of the Jewish People against all odds. The root of the Hebrew word for “eight” (Shmonah) is “oil” (Shemen), which is also the root of “Hasmonean” (Hashmonayim).

6. A LESSON TO ISRAEL’s LEADERSHIP: Simon the Maccabee – who succeeded Judah and Jonathan the Maccabees – responded to an ultimatum by the Assyrian/Greek Emperor Antiochus (Maccabees A, Chapter 15, verse 33: “We have not occupied a foreign land; We have not ruled a foreign land; We have liberated the land of our forefathers from foreign occupation.” Thus responded Simon the Maccabee to Emperor Antiochus’ ultimatum to end “occupation” of Jaffa, Jerusalem, Gezer, Ekron and Gaza.

7. THE ORIGINAL “REBELLION AGAINST TYRANTS IS OBEDIENCE TO GOD”. The Maccabees were a tiny minority – condemned by the “pragmatic” Jewish establishment – upon launching their rebellion against an oppressive super-power. They were referred by Jewish “intellectuals” as “the enemies of peace” and “extremists.” They prevailed due to their principle-driven, determined and can-do state-of-mind. They have demonstrated the victory of the few over the many, right over wrong and truth over lies. The Maccabees have become a role-model for America’s Founding Fathers, including Paul Revere and the organizers of the Boston Tea Party.

8. ORIGIN OF “GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH” and “Live Free Or Die”. The Maccabees’ sacrifice and political Incorrectness has preserved and inspired today’s Jewish religion, language, culture and sovereignty. They followed in the footsteps of Abraham, Pinchas the High Priest, Joshua&Calev, King David and Elijah.

9. HISTORICAL CONTEXT. Alexander The Great – who held Judaism in high esteem and whose Egyptian heir Ptolemy II translated the Torah to Greek – died in 323BC. Consequently, the Greek Empire disintegrated into five, and thirty years later into three, kingdoms: Macedonia, Syria and Egypt. The Land of Israel was always militarily contested by Syria and Egypt (and Gaza was always the main invasion route!). In 198BC, Israel was conquered by the ancient Syrians. In 175BC, a new king assumed power in Syria, Antiochus (IV) Epiphanies, who viewed the Jews as pro-Egyptians and held Judaism with contempt. In 169BC, on his way to Syria from a military victory over Egypt, he devastated Jerusalem, massacred a large number of Jews, forbade the practice of Judaism (including the Sabbath, circumcision, etc.) and desecrated Jerusalem and the Temple. The rebellion against the Syrian (Seleucid) kingdom featured the Hasmonean (MACCABEE) family: Mattityahu, a priest from the small town of Modi’in, and his five sons, Yochanan, Yehuda, Simon, Jonathan and Elazar. The heroic (and tactically creative) battles conducted by the Maccabees, were consistent with the reputation of Jews as superb warriors, who were hired often as mercenaries by Egypt, Rome and other global and regional powers.

10. CHANUKA-PASSOVER-PURIM. The heroes of Passover and Purim had no choice but to defy their enemies. The Maccabees refused physical peace in return for spiritual assimilation and a sellout of the cradle of Jewish history. They were willing to pay any price for the protection of their values and heritage. Chanukah symbolizes the victory of conviction and roots over short-term convenience and over opportunism/cynicism (currently known as “pragmatism”).

11. NO FREE LUNCH FOR SOVEREIGN PEOPLES. Chanukah serves as another reminder that free people must be ready to fight – and sacrifice – for the right to be sovereign and free, especially in violent and unpredictable neighborhoods.

“Munich” stands for “appeasement”

Kate Wright has written an excellent article at The American Thinker on Steven Spielberg’s new movie, “Munich.” Munich is a film that attempts to show a moral equivalence between the killing of innocent Israeli athletes by Arab terrorists and the subsequent hunting down and killing of those terrorists by Israelis.

The Israeli athletes who were assassinated by the PLO in Munich in 1972 did not die by tragedy, nor by moral failings. They were slaughtered. This was a massacre of innocents. At that time, and today, there are no doubts about what happened at the Olympics. We saw much of it live on television. Creating a fictional story about the secret Israeli response—based on speculative feelings of a fictional protagonist – distorts the truth of what actually happened in history.


This is the fictional story of a young Israeli named Avner (Eric Bana) who relinquishes his identity as a Mossad officer to lead the secret Israeli mission to track down 11 PLO operatives presumed to be responsible for planning and executing the Olympic slaughter. Because the mission is secret, Avner operates through highly paid informers. Neither Avner, nor his four-man team is privy to the Mossad’s strategy, nor are they apprised of the specific history and deeds of each targeted Palestinian.


The primary narrative is Avner’s internal story, expressed as conflict with Ephraim, the Mossad Chief (Geoffrey Rush), and Avner’s four-man team. Without a powerful onscreen antagonist who presents conflicting story values, Spielberg relies on flash-cuts from the opening sequence of the Munich slaughter to create tension. Unfortunately, story motivation cannot substitute for onscreen conflict, so the audience drifts away from the Israeli mission’s strategic assassinations, and instead redefines and experiences them as a series of consecutive murders Sicilian style. What begins as an extremely well-motivated story deliberately descends into an episodic narrative about vengeance, framed by rationalization.

Read more of this excellent article about Spielberg’s misguided attempt to depict Israeli “intransigence” as the principal cause of the failure to resolve the conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Israelis.

After the excellent “Schindler’s List” one is disappointed that Spielberg has such difficulty discerning the moral distinctions in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

I, for one, will not include “Munich” on my “must see” list this season.

Read “INDIANA SPIELBERG AND HIS JEWISH PROBLEM” at Horsefeathers for more background on this topic.

Also read Debbie Schlussel’s article at Front Page Magazine titled, “Spielberg’s Munich Pact.”

Stop negotiating with Iran and start the military campaign

Mohamed ElBaradei, chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said last week that Iran is only a few months away from producing a nuclear bomb–and suggested that the way to prevent this is “to go back to the negotiating table” (i.e., cave in to extortion). Following his suggestion would be suicidal.

No amount of negotiation will persuade the Iranian theocrats to give
up their longtime quest for nuclear bombs. To ensure Iran will not
produce–or use–nuclear bombs, the United States and its allies must
destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities and wipe out its regime–and must do
so without delay.

Iran presents a much greater danger to the United States’ security
than did Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Once Iran gets hold of nuclear bombs, the United States will be an easy target for blackmail and a likely target for mass destruction. As one of the principal ideological sources of Islamist totalitarianism, Iran is an avowed enemy of the United States and a leading state sponsor of terrorism.

It finances, trains, shelters and equips terrorists from organizations
like al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. Iran is currently
waging a proxy war against the United States in Iraq and killing
American soldiers by the dozens (if not by the hundreds). Under those
circumstances the United States has a moral right–indeed, a moral
obligation–to defend its people from Iran’s threats and preempt
future terrorist attacks.

The Iranian regime has repeatedly threatened to use its soon-to-be-produced nuclear weapons to wipe Israel off the map. It has repeatedly called for “Death to America.” These threats must be taken seriously. We did not take Osama bin Laden’s threats seriously, and lost the Twin Towers. We do not want to make the same mistake with
Iran, and lose all of Manhattan.

David Holcberg
Ayn Rand Institute
Irvine, CA