1. A Tale of Two Worlds: Gaza and the Global Village
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Readers, please note: Some of the pictures in this article are upsetting.
Gaza Arabs’ life expectancy is well above average, and infant mortality rates are far higher in famine-plagued countries, but world aid continues to pour in to the Hamas-controlled region, according to official data.
Yet Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is asking U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday for more aid, in addition to the billons of dollars of foreign funds the PA has received the past few years. He has cited Israel’s partial blockade of Gaza as the main cause for alleged shortages in Gaza and in villages administered by the United Nations in Judea and Samaria.
Recent photos and statements by Arab sources deny any shortage of food or merchandise in Gaza.
The Israeli government recently sent foreign journalists a link showing a fancy first-class restaurant in Gaza, noting "we have been told the beef stroganoff and cream of spinach soup are highly recommended.".
Statistics provided by the United Nations and the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) show that while famine kills millions of small children in India (pictured), Guatemala and Africa, among other nations, the child mortality rate for Arab "refugees” is 35 per 1,000, compared with 180 per 1,000 in Angola and 116 in Niger.
The term "Palestinian refugees" refers to children who are descendants of Arabs who fled Israel in the 1948 War of Independence and the Six-Day War in 1967. Lebanon and Jordan, among other countries, prefer to keep the Arabs in “refugee camps” to prevent their integrating with the rest of the population, where they might pose a political challenge.
World hunger organizations report that 10-15 million below the age of 5 die each year, and 50,000 people die daily. One-third of all deaths in the world are due to poverty.
The life expectancy for Gaza Arabs is 72 years, nearly five years more than the world average, according to CIA World Factbook statistics. In Swaziland, the life expectancy is less than 40 years, and it is 42 years in Zambia. Photo: Gaza Arabs at sea.
Mainstream media have focused on Gaza as an area where the de facto Hamas government suffered from a lack of funds because of an American financial boycott. Attention also is given to the Israeli embargo, enforced to try to prevent Hamas from adding to its large arsenal of anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, long-range rockets and rifles.
The Palestinian Authority, which contributes half of its budget to Gaza Arabs, has become more dependent on the massive foreign aid it has received since the beginning of the 2000 Second Intifada, also known as the Oslo War.
In contrast, 22 member countries of the OECD Development Assistance Committee, the world's major donors, provided $103.9 billion to fight poverty in 2006, while the Palestinian Authority receives one of the world’s highest foreign subsidies per capita.
It has received nearly $10 billion in foreign aid since 1994 when the PA was formally established. The European Union is the largest donor, followed by the United States, which contributes nearly twice as much as Saudi Arabia.
The aid has enabled the PA, which seeks to become an independent country though located within Israel's borders, to inflate its public payroll to more than 160,000 workers while its education system continues to incite violence against Israel. Donors currently contribute more than $1 billion a year.
The domestic output of the PA economy dropped by 30 percent on a per capita basis since 1999, one year before the Oslo War broke out. The local economy collapsed as neighboring Jewish communities were unable to employ thousands of Arab workers because of terrorist attacks.
However, the World Bank has cited security restrictions on trade in and out of Judea, Samaria and Gaza as one of the reasons for Gaza’s economic problems.
A previous report in the Middle East Quarterly concluded, "Perhaps aid itself does not cause violence, but there is strong evidence that it contributes to a culture of corruption, government malfeasance and terrorism that has had lethal consequences for both Israelis and Palestinians over the past decade."
The researcher, Steven Stotsky, a senior research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), wrote that foreign funding of the Palestinian Authority made it “less dependent on revenue derived from commerce, detaching the PA's solvency from the health of the economy. Thus, while the intifada sent the Palestinian economy into free fall, the PA's coffers swelled. The conditions were thus established that ensured the separation of Palestinian governance from responsibility for the economic health of the Palestinian people.
"Not only did the security forces fail to prevent terrorist attacks, in many cases they colluded with terrorist groups and sometimes perpetrated attacks themselves."
Comment on this story
2. Photo Evidence of ‘Myth of Siege of Gaza’
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
The” myth of the siege of Gaza” has been exploded in a research report that quotes Arab sources that say “Gaza markets are saturated with goods.” The Washington Post reported last week that Gaza “pharmacies look as well-supplied as a typical Rite Aid.”
Reserve IDF officer Lt. Col. Jonathan HaLevi, a researcher for the Institute for Contemporary Affairs, wrote that Israel’s continuing supervised flow of humanitarian aide to Gaza also has helped the Gaza economy rebound.
‘Gaza is not cut off from the outside world,” he wrote, and added that the large supply of goods and merchandise, including fuel oil, that enters Gaza through smuggling tunnels and pipelines from Egypt has actually helped bring down the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel to half the price in Israel.
Claims by United Nations officials, reported without investigation by most mainstream media, have falsely promoted the image of a humanitarian crisis and a scarcity of foods and merchandise in Gaza, implying that Gaza Arabs share the plague of famine as in India and other countries.
HaLevi’s reported stated, “Recently, Rep. Ron Paul told Don Imus on the Fox Business Channel that Israel was "preventing food and medicine from going into Gaza. He said there are 'people that are starving' and closed with a vile suggestion that the situation of the Gazans was 'almost like in concentration camps.'"
However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted to a Congressional committee last April, “The [Gaza] crossings are no longer completely closed…. A lot of what has been said was not permitted to cross is just not accurate.”
Janine Zacharia of the Washington Post reported last week, "If you walk down Gaza City's main thoroughfare -Salah al-Din Street - grocery stores are stocked wall-too-wall with everything from fresh Israeli yogurts and hummus to Cocoa Puffs smuggled in from Egypt.” Smuggled goods are cheaper than the regular price.
The Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency stated last February, "Gaza markets are saturated with goods." Beaches are filled with vacationers as well (photot below).
The de facto Hamas government in Gaza also has received $5 billion in cold cash since it took over control of the area from the rival Fatah faction in a bloody militia war three years ago this month. Hamas also receives millions of dollars in direct aid from Arab countries as well from the United Nations and European Union, which until last November paid for the diesel fuel to run the Gaza power plant.
The French newspaper LeMonde last October quoted Bassem Khoury, minister of national economy for the Palestinian Authority, that Hamas has profited so much from the smuggling tunnel system and outside aid that it “doesn't know what to do with its money. Taxpayers in Europe should know that as a result of this system their money ends up in Hamas' pocket."
HaLevi pointed out that the tunnel system not only supplies Hamas with more weapons it but also “serves such criminal purposes as drug running and trafficking in young women.” The Kuwaiti newspaper Awan last December reported on the phenomenon of "importing" minor girls from Egypt and selling them into prostitution in Gaza, supposedly for purposes of marriage or domestic work.
He said Hamas exploits the smuggling tunnels for “sending fighters for training in Iran and Syria, and for the import of advanced weapons systems, [including] antiaircraft and anti-tank missiles), explosives, and ammunition."
HaLevi maintained, “The position of the human rights organizations, which paint an exaggerated picture of the effects of the siege, is marred by a double standard. On the one hand, they argue vehemently that Israel is still an occupying power and must therefore see to the "security and welfare of the residents of Gaza"; yet on the other hand, the welfare and security of Gaza's residents have been severely harmed by the Hamas regime, with its gradual imposition of Islamic law while violently suppressing the opposition.
“According to their logic, Israel is obligated to help an enemy entity that is attacking it. If this were true, the United States would have a duty to extend assistance to villages in Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban fighters who are attacking coalition forces.”
The flow of weapons into Gaza occasionally is stopped by Egyptian authorities who last May seized a large cache of weapons and explosives that were slated to be smuggled into Gaza from the Sinai. The weapons stockpile included 61 anti-aircraft missiles, 40 anti-tank mines, 15 standard mines, and 5 machine guns with ammunition. Last April 1, an Egyptian newspaper reported that security forces had seized 100 anti-aircraft missiles, 45 rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and 40 explosive devices.
Comment on this story
3. All Aboard: Muslim Clerics Organize Flotilla to Gaza
by Hillel Fendel
The idea of flotillas to Gaza is catching on. Following the notorious terrorist activists’ flotilla of last week, and then one for Gilad Shalit, and another that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan wants to join, now comes the idea for a “Muslim religious leaders” flotilla to Gaza.
Kuwait’s Al-Watan newspaper reports that wanted terrorist Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is behind the efforts to organize what is being called the “Freedom Flotilla.” Qaradawi heads the Union of Muslim Religious Sages, and he has invited its members to take part in the anti-Israel initiative, scheduled for next month.
Qaradawi himself, however, will not take part – for fear that Israel will arrest him. Wanted by Israel for years, he has issued religious decrees encouraging suicide attacks against Israeli and American civilians. He is banned from entering the United States and Great Britain.
Al-Qaradwi also heads the Union of Good, an umbrella organization of more than 50 Islamic funds and foundations around the globe that channels money into Hamas institutions in the PA-controlled territories. In January 2008, Israel outlawed 36 associations belonging to the Union of Good - including Turkey’s IHH, which organized the recent terror-activist flotilla to Gaza.
Regarding Erdogan’s declaration of intent to take part in a flotilla to Gaza, former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan says that such an act should be considered an act of war. “If he boards a ship on its way to Gaza,” Dayan said, “Israel must treat his ship the same way it treated the Marmari.”
Comment on this story
Chill Zone Videos
Before You Boycott IsraelWatch it!
Armageddon Scenario: Israel & the Threat of Nuclear TerrorismRead it!
4. Rabbi Eliyahu's Death Leaves Jonathan Pollard 'an Orphan'
by Malkah Fleisher
While Israel continues to mourn the loss of former Chief Sephardic Rabbi, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, one of the rabbi's most recognized devotees sits alone in his grief.
Jonathan Pollard, who has been imprisoned in the United States for almost 25 years for passing information vital to Israel's security over to the Jewish state, reacted with great sorrow to the loss of Rabbi Eliyahu, who served as his personal rabbi and a public and vocal advocate on Pollard's behalf.
On Pollard's website, jonathanpollard.org, Jonathan and Esther conveyed their pain over the loss of Rabbi Eliyahu.
"Our beloved rav (rabbi), His Honor HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu zt"l (may the memory of the righteous one be blessed), our saintly teacher, our cherished moreh derech (guide), our beloved father, the light of our eyes and crowning glory of our generation has left us to plead before the Kisei HaKavod (G-d's throne) for the Nation of Israel. Now the Geula (redemption) may start in earnest, but the loss is simply too great to bear. And the heart cannot hear it, nor the mind grasp it. We are orphans. Broken-hearted orphans."
In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Pollard's wife Esther further conveyed Jonathan's grief.
"Baruch Dayan HaEmet (Blessed is the True Judge)," began Esther, on behalf of Jonathan. "Not since we both lost our mothers have we experienced such a deep and unbearable loss. We are heartbroken and bereaved. We are orphaned in the deepest sense of the word. The Rabbi left us a wonderful legacy, and that is the important thing upon which we must focus. Throughout all the years that we had the blessing of being part of his life, this was the rabbi who gave us strength. He gave us direction. He gave us hope."
"The Rabbi served all of the nation of Israel as a model of what a true Jew should be. The Rabbi knew no fear, he was strong, he was wise, he was dependable and he was dedicated. He was unwavering in his devotion to the Land and People of Israel. He was a real servant of Hashem. He feared no man - only G-d. This is the model that he gave us, and this is the model which will continue to inspire us. This is the model of the hope worth living for.
"Baruch Hashem (Praise G-d), we have a vast wealth of memories of the time we spent in the presence of the Rabbi. With what good humor, warmth, wisdom and outright kindness he continued again and again to bless us!
"How fortunate are we to have had the tremendous merit of being his children and coming under his influence! May the memory of our beloved Rabbi be a blessing for all of the nation of Israel!”
Rabbi Eliyahu was escorted to his final resting place by an estimated 200,000 people and buried during the night of June 7 near the grave of the 'Chida', famed 18th century Kabbalist and Talmudic scholar, whose remains were brought from Livorno, Italy to Jerusalem in 1960 through Rabbi Eliyahu's efforts..
Comment on this story
5. Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger: No Fast for Gush Katif
by Hillel Fendel
Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has ruled that a fast day should not be instituted over the expulsion from Gush Katif (Katif Bloc) and northern Samaria (Shomron), nor should kinot (traditional dirges) be composed.
The ruling appears in the latest volume of Tchumin (Zomet Institute, Vol. 30), an annual compendium of scholarly articles on matters of modern society and state in Torah law. Rabbi Metzger addresses the question of how to commemorate the tragedy of the Disengagement – the expulsion of 9,000 Jews from Gush Katif and northern Shomron, the destruction of their homes and communities by Israeli forces, the burning of their synagogues by Arabs, and the consequent takeover of the area by Iranian-supported Hamas and its Kassam rockets.
He notes that days of fasting in the Jewish calendar are not a method by which to remember historic dates, but rather a way of encouraging repentance and self-accounting for our sins.
While not minimizing the tragic proportions of the expulsion, Rabbi Metzger gives several reasons why it should not be commemorated by an official day of fasting. For one thing, the rabbis are empowered to make new rulings such as national fast days only in cases where the public, or most of it, can be expected to observe them – which is not the case here.
In addition, he writes, “The subject of the uprooting from Gush Katif was a matter of sharp and painful public debate within the nation, such that a ruling of this sort as a day of mourning is liable to deepen and increase the split in the nation.”
Thirdly, Rabbi Metzger does not believe that there is a body today that has the authority to institute rulings over the entire Jewish nation. At one point, the Sanhedrin – the Supreme Court of the original Jewish state, especially during the Second Temple period – was the ultimate authority. It has never been renewed, though an attempt to do so has been made in this generation; most leading rabbis do not support it, though some actively do.
Rabbi Metzger adds that even kinot – dirges of the type recited on Tisha B’Av – should not be composed. The only official way to commemorate the tragedy, he writes, is by reciting an abridged form of the blessing, “Blessed art Thou… the True Judge” when one sees (for the first time in a month) the site that has been destroyed.
Despite the above, there continue to be calls to fast on the 8th day of the month of Elul, the date in 2005 that the IDF officially left Gaza. Such a call would not be in opposition to Rabbi Metzger’s ruling, which bans only a nationwide ordinance.
In 2008, the Knesset passed the “Gush Katif and Northern Shomron Legacy Center Law,” calling for the establishment of various means, such as a library, research institute and website by which to teach about and memorialize the destroyed areas. In this framework, the Education Ministry conducts a “Gush Katif” week in schools that request it. Only a few schools participated in 2009, but in February of 2010, some 400 schools – mostly of the public-religious stream – took part.
Comment on this story
6. Rabbi M. Eliyahu's Prayer - Found
by Hillel Fendel
Rabbi Shmuel Zaafrani, Rabbi Eliyahu’s longtime assistant, found an important, 53-year-old note in the rabbi’s wallet, just two hours before the late Chief Rabbi was buried last night in one of the largest funerals ever held in Jerusalem. Estimates of 100,000 people on Monday night were reported by Israel TV on Tuesday as having been revised to over 200,000..
Rabbi Zaafrani told Israel National News that Rabbi Eliyahu was the youngest dayan (rabbinical court judge) ever elected, at the age of 28. "He therefore felt very strongly," Rabbi Zaafrani said, "the heavy responsibility that weighed upon him, and so he composed a prayer that he would recite every day before entering the courtroom. The thing is, we never knew the wording of the prayer – until just two hours before the burial, when I found a note in his wallet with the prayer.” See below to read the prayer.
Rabbi Zaafrani then told the story of an amazing “rescue” performed by Rabbi Eliyahu – which the latter attributed to the power of prayer, both his own and that of others. This is the story:
When Rabbi Eliyahu first became a dayan in Be’er Sheva, in 1957, his was the only rabbinical court in the entire south, between Eilat and Be’er Sheva. On his first day on the job, he saw a woman standing outside, praying from a small Book of Psalms. She remained outside all day. The next day, the rabbi saw the same thing, and the next day again, and so on. Finally, he asked the court secretary to ask her to come in. He asked her why she stood outside and prayed all day, and she related in all innocence: ‘I came on Aliyah [immigration to Israel] from Morocco by myself, and they sent me to Be’er Sheva. I asked where the closest rabbinical court was, I was told it was here, and so here I am.’
He asked her, “What are you praying for?” and the woman said, “My husband in Morocco was a taxi driver, and a week after we were married, at the end of the Sheva Brachot [the seven days of wedding festivities], he crashed - and his body was never found... After a while, I went to the rabbis to be declared a widow so that I could remarry, but they said that without a body, they could not be certain that he was dead – and so I remained a ‘chained woman’ [aguna, unable to marry]. But when I came to Israel, I had faith that what the rabbinical courts in Morocco could not accomplish [in permitting me to remarry], the courts in Israel would be able to do.”
Rabbi Eliyahu asked, “So why did you remain outside the court? Why didn’t you come in to the dayanim?”
The woman said, “Who are you? I pray to G-d, not to you!”
Rabbi Eliyahu immediately took up her case. He took all her papers and went to the Baba Sali, who told him of his brother, the Baba Haki, a leading rabbi in the Israeli city of Ramle who was familiar with all those engaged in Jewish burials in Morocco. Rabbi Eliyahu traveled to Ramle, where the Baba Haki told him, “There were only two Jewish kavranim [people engaged in burials] in Morocco, and both have since come to Israel. One lives in Dimona and one lives in Kiryat Ata [near Haifa].”
Rabbi Eliyahu said, “I live in the south, so I might as well try Dimona.” He went to the exact address supplied to him by the Baba Haki – only to find that the man’s family was sitting shiva for him; he had died just a few days earlier.
Quite disappointed, Rabbi Eliyahu went in anyway, shared some words of Torah and solace with the mourning family and friends, and explained why he was there. Immediately, a man jumped up and said, “I am the other kavran, and I know that story! I was the one who buried the taxi driver!”
Rabbi Eliyahu asked him to accompany come him to other rabbis, who questioned him and determined that his testimony was acceptable. Rabbi Eliyahu convened the rabbinical court, and the woman was declared “unchained” and permitted to remarry.
“This is the power of prayer,” Rabbi Eliyahu later said, “both hers and mine.”
Testimony of David Vazana
David Vazana, a neighbor of the Eliyahu family and the head of the Bank of Israel Employees Union, said that Rabbi Eliyahu's death "is simply a terrible loss for Am [the Nation of] Yisrael. As a neighbor, I saw how people would come to his home at all hours of the day, from all walks of life and of all different types, with questions and requests and problems – and he would receive all of them happily and graciously…"
"There were so many incidents in which we saw the fulfillment of the Talmud’s words, ‘the righteous man decrees and G-d fulfills.’ Once, the son of one of the employees at Bank of Israel was critically hurt in a car accident, and was unconscious in Hadassah Ein Kerem. We came to the Rabbi, telling him that the doctors said he has only a few hours left. The Rabbi waved his hand in dismissal and said to do a kaparah [atonement] with money for charity, and that if he still doesn’t open his eyes, then to do the same with a chicken. We did the first, and the boy started to move his arms and legs. The doctors happened to be there and said, ‘It’s nothing, just his last-minute palpitations before death.’ We went back to the Rabbi and he said we must immediately do the kaparah with a chicken. We did that, and the boy opened his eyes the next day... He later made a full recovery and was even able to enlist in the IDF… There were many other stories like this as well.”
Free translation of the prayer composed and recited daily by Rabbi Eliyahu before entering the rabbinical courtroom:
“Master of the Universe, it is revealed and known before You that it was not my idea to stand and serve Your holy nation, to judge and teach. I well know my small worth. I did not seek to do what is beyond me, but my rabbis instructed me to take this path, and this is how You arranged matters… Your wisdom has decreed that I serve the holy nation, teaching and judging… But trembling has overtaken me, fear and shaking have come over me, regarding the terrible danger that faces me and the vast abyss that is open before me…
"I have trust in Your vast mercies… for You are He Who hears prayer. Please G-d, have compassion on all those who sit in justice, and especially upon me, your servant, son of your handmaid, Mordechai ben Mazal. Have mercy on me and give me a heart that hears, as well as knowledge to understand and judge Your people…
"Grant us wisdom, and let us not rule 'impure' that which is 'pure,' nor on that which is 'permitted' shall we say 'forbidden,' nor shall we deem guilty he who is innocent - and vice versa. Save us from all errors, and let my heart be strong, and allow me to rebuke those who oppress others; let us not be tempted to ignore injustice, and give us the merit to correct that which needs to be corrected, institute new regulations and directives when necessary, and to teach Torah, so that the Name of Heaven be sanctified by us. Let the people respect and fear us, and let us remain far from arrogance, anger and pettiness…”
Comment on this story
7. Tali Fahima Joins Islam
by Gil Ronen
Tali Fahima, a Jewish Israeli who served a jail sentence for security offenses, converted to Islam Tuesday in a mosque in Umm El Fahm. According to the local Islamic Movement website, Fahima said that “when I saw Sheikh Raed Salah for the first time I felt that something touched me inside. The man did not speak to me, not even once, but the expression on his face and his modesty called me to Islam.”
Fahima, now 34, was placed under administrative detention in 2004 after she crossed the lines into Palestinian Authority territory at the height of Great Terror War launched by Yasser Arafat. She began spending her days in the company of Zakariah Zubeidi, a wanted Fatah terrorist leader from Jenin. She was charged of assisting Zubeidi by translating an IDF document that had fallen into his hands.
She had also declared publicly, upon hearing that Zubeidi was wanted by the IDF, that she intended to serve as his human shield.
She was convicted in December 2005 of supporting a terror organization, assisting the enemy during wartime, contact with a foreign agent, passing information to the enemy and disobeying a legal order, and sentenced to three years in jail. She was released in early 2007.
Fahima follows in the footsteps of Uri Davis, another well known radical leftist who converted to Islam in 2008. Davis has been a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for decades.
Fahima's name came to mind recently, for many Israelis, when journalist Anat Kam was arrested for suspected treason. The main reason for this, beside the similarity in their alleged deeds, was that Kam sported glasses with the same kind of thick black rims as Fahima.
Comment on this story
More Website News: