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Pope denounces Holocaust “horror”

Pope Benedict XVI marked Holocaust Remembrance Day yesterday by denouncing the “horror” of the Holocaust and the “unheard of brutality” of death camps created by Nazi Germany, AP reported.

Benedict called the death camps “abhorrent and inhumane places,” issued an appeal “that such tragedies never repeat themselves,” and turned his thoughts to the “countless victims of a blind racial and religious hatred.”

He told his weekly audience the memory of those events, and especially “the tragedy of the Shoah that has struck the Jewish people,” should induce respect for all mankind. Shoah is Hebrew for the Holocaust.

Pope Benedict’s personal biography is particularly meaningful (or controversial) for Vatican-Jewish relations. Born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany in 1927, the future Pope was conscripted into the Hitler Youth at 14. According to Catholic media reports, he refused to attend meetings (membership was mandatory for boys of that age). Pope Benedict has said that his father bitterly opposed the Nazis as opponents of Catholicism and that a cousin of his–who had Down Syndrome–was murdered because of Nazi eugenicist policies.

Though his predecessor Pope John Paul II had warm relations with the Jewish community and Israel, most commentators say that Jewish-Vatican relations have been more strained since Pope Benedict’s ascension in 2005.

Questions remain about the role of Pope Pius II, whom Jews say did not do enough to stop the slaughter of Jews during the Holocaust. Though Pope Benedict has not yet approved a decree naming Pius a saint (a move initiated by John Paul II), he has paid tribute to Pius. Pope Benedict has also approved liturgical changes the Jewish community has found problematic and made other moves relating to the Holocaust the Jewish and Israeli leaders have found problematic.

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Thursday, January 28th, 2010 at 1:03 AM  | Stand For Israel

Pope denounces Holocaust "horror"

Pope Benedict XVI marked Holocaust Remembrance Day yesterday by denouncing the “horror” of the Holocaust and the “unheard of brutality” of death camps created by Nazi Germany, AP reported.

Benedict called the death camps “abhorrent and inhumane places,” issued an appeal “that such tragedies never repeat themselves,” and turned his thoughts to the “countless victims of a blind racial and religious hatred.”

He told his weekly audience the memory of those events, and especially “the tragedy of the Shoah that has struck the Jewish people,” should induce respect for all mankind. Shoah is Hebrew for the Holocaust.

Pope Benedict’s personal biography is particularly meaningful (or controversial) for Vatican-Jewish relations. Born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany in 1927, the future Pope was conscripted into the Hitler Youth at 14. According to Catholic media reports, he refused to attend meetings (membership was mandatory for boys of that age). Pope Benedict has said that his father bitterly opposed the Nazis as opponents of Catholicism and that a cousin of his–who had Down Syndrome–was murdered because of Nazi eugenicist policies.

Though his predecessor Pope John Paul II had warm relations with the Jewish community and Israel, most commentators say that Jewish-Vatican relations have been more strained since Pope Benedict’s ascension in 2005.

Questions remain about the role of Pope Pius II, whom Jews say did not do enough to stop the slaughter of Jews during the Holocaust. Though Pope Benedict has not yet approved a decree naming Pius a saint (a move initiated by John Paul II), he has paid tribute to Pius. Pope Benedict has also approved liturgical changes the Jewish community has found problematic and made other moves relating to the Holocaust the Jewish and Israeli leaders have found problematic.

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Thursday, January 28th, 2010 at 1:03 AM  | Stand For Israel

Israel’s enemies will do anything to turn a “good” into a “bad”

Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz is one of Israel’s most indefatigable advocates. He is skilled at making the case not only for her right to exist, but for her virtue –and he is particularly skilled at doing so in the belly of the beast, deep among the anti-Israel left among academics and others of the self-designated “cultural elite.”

He’s a prolific author and writer and blogs regularly on “The Huffington Post,” a massive group blog that caters to Hollywood types and the intellectuals who love them. He marvels that while:

most objective observers throughout the world marvel at Israel’s efficiency and generosity in leading the medical aid efforts in Haiti, some bigots insist on using these efforts as an occasion to continue their attack on the Jewish state. Both the neo-Nazi hard right and the neo-Stalinist hard left cannot help but to demonize Israel, regardless of what Israel does.

Critics, he says, complain that Israel shouldn’t be sending medical assistance to such a faraway place as Haiti but should instead be sending it to nearby Gaza:

They fail to note the difference between Haiti and Gaza. Haiti is not at war with Israel. Haiti has not pledged itself to Israel’s destruction. Haiti has not fired 8,000 rockets at Israeli civilians. Gaza, on the other hand, has a popularly elected government that has done and continues to do all of the above.

Moreover, there is no comparison between the tens of thousands of Haitians who died as a result of a natural disaster, and the people of Gaza — who suffer far less from what is, essentially, a self-inflicted wound.

Nor, do Israel’s perennial enemies make notice of the huge gulf between tiny and resource-poor Israel, and the resource-rich Arab and Muslim nations:

While Israel digs deeply into its treasury and manpower to send medical assistance a quarter of the way around the world, Arab and Muslim nations are generally missing when it comes to relief efforts. Israel is sending more aid per capita than any country in the world.

Most saliently, he says that:

Israel will be extremely generous to the…

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Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 at 3:13 PM  | Stand For Israel

Israel's enemies will do anything to turn a "good" into a "bad"

Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz is one of Israel’s most indefatigable advocates. He is skilled at making the case not only for her right to exist, but for her virtue –and he is particularly skilled at doing so in the belly of the beast, deep among the anti-Israel left among academics and others of the self-designated “cultural elite.”

He’s a prolific author and writer and blogs regularly on “The Huffington Post,” a massive group blog that caters to Hollywood types and the intellectuals who love them. He marvels that while:

most objective observers throughout the world marvel at Israel’s efficiency and generosity in leading the medical aid efforts in Haiti, some bigots insist on using these efforts as an occasion to continue their attack on the Jewish state. Both the neo-Nazi hard right and the neo-Stalinist hard left cannot help but to demonize Israel, regardless of what Israel does.

Critics, he says, complain that Israel shouldn’t be sending medical assistance to such a faraway place as Haiti but should instead be sending it to nearby Gaza:

They fail to note the difference between Haiti and Gaza. Haiti is not at war with Israel. Haiti has not pledged itself to Israel’s destruction. Haiti has not fired 8,000 rockets at Israeli civilians. Gaza, on the other hand, has a popularly elected government that has done and continues to do all of the above.

Moreover, there is no comparison between the tens of thousands of Haitians who died as a result of a natural disaster, and the people of Gaza — who suffer far less from what is, essentially, a self-inflicted wound.

Nor, do Israel’s perennial enemies make notice of the huge gulf between tiny and resource-poor Israel, and the resource-rich Arab and Muslim nations:

While Israel digs deeply into its treasury and manpower to send medical assistance a quarter of the way around the world, Arab and Muslim nations are generally missing when it comes to relief efforts. Israel is sending more aid per capita than any country in the world.

Most saliently, he says that:

Israel will be extremely generous to the…

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Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 at 3:13 PM  | Stand For Israel

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

As the world observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it’s worth revisiting Rabbi Eckstein’s reflections on the day:

In November 2005, the United Nations designated January 27 — the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz — as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day to pause and remember the defining event of 20th century history.

When the Russian army marched into Auschwitz, even hardened soldiers were appalled at what they saw. Surviving prisoners, most of whom were ill, dying, and so thin that they resembled walking skeletons, came toward the troops, weeping with gratitude. Years later, one solider described the scene that he could not erase from his mind: “When I saw the people, it was skin and bones. They had no shoes, and it was freezing. They couldn’t even turn their heads, they stood like dead people … I was shocked, devastated.”

Though it seems hard to believe, this occurred just 65 years ago. Of course, in our fast-moving world the events of 65 years ago can seem like ancient history. We like to think we live in a more civilized time, and the threat of another Holocaust seems remote.

But perhaps the world has not changed as much as we think it has. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called repeatedly, and continues to call, for the destruction of Israel, and arms terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah that are actively working toward destroying the Jewish state. Around the world, reports of anti-Semitic violence have skyrocketed. Israel is routinely subject to unfair and harsh criticism simply for trying to defend her people.

All of this shows us that anti-Semitism, the driving force behind the Holocaust, is alive and well. As the world pauses to remember the six million Jews murdered by the Nazi death machine, we need to keep that sobering fact in mind.

In his 1986 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Jewish author Elie Wiesel — a Holocaust survivor who wrote a stirring memoir called “Night” about his experiences in the Nazi death camps — told of his resolve after the Holocaust. “I swore never…

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Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 at 12:30 PM  | Stand For Israel

Hamas TV: All children wish for “martyrdom”

From the invaluable PMW:

A Hamas TV program for children is once again promoting martyrdom for Allah as a positive goal for kids.

In the most recent episode of the show “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” the child host asks a 10-year-old girl who phones into the program whether she had been afraid of dying during the 2009 Gaza war.

“No, I wasn’t afraid,” the little girl says. “I wished for martyrdom for Allah.”

The host responded, “We all wish for this.”

The exchange is more than just another example of Hamas’s continued promotion of Shahada for children. The young caller’s response also proves the success of years of propaganda by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) to indoctrinate children to aspire to Martyrdom for Allah, and to believe that seeking death is a greater value than seeking life.

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Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 at 11:15 AM  | Stand For Israel

Hamas TV: All children wish for "martyrdom"

From the invaluable PMW:

A Hamas TV program for children is once again promoting martyrdom for Allah as a positive goal for kids.

In the most recent episode of the show “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” the child host asks a 10-year-old girl who phones into the program whether she had been afraid of dying during the 2009 Gaza war.

“No, I wasn’t afraid,” the little girl says. “I wished for martyrdom for Allah.”

The host responded, “We all wish for this.”

The exchange is more than just another example of Hamas’s continued promotion of Shahada for children. The young caller’s response also proves the success of years of propaganda by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) to indoctrinate children to aspire to Martyrdom for Allah, and to believe that seeking death is a greater value than seeking life.

Comments (0) »

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 at 11:15 AM  | Stand For Israel

Get right down to it: Israel calls Goldstone report “anti-Semitism”

The UN is waiting for Israel’s official response to the Goldstone report, the UN’s “fact finding commission” on the 22-day Gaza war which charges Israel with deliberately and disproportionately targeting civilians, among other crimes, but is silent about any misdeeds on the part of Hamas. The official response is expected as early as Thursday.

In advance of traveling to New York to present Israel’s response, Israeli Minister Yuli Edelstein told Yediot Aharonot that “The Goldstone Report … and similar reports, are simply a type of anti-Semitism.

AFP interpreted the Yediot report as suggesting that Israel “is planning an all-out attack on the report to coincide with Wednesday’s anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz.”

“The connection between the Goldstone Report and the international Holocaust memorial day is not an easy thing. On the other hand, however, we must learn the lessons from what happened,” Edelstein, the Minister of Information and Diaspora Affairs, said.

“Then too, those who yelled out were told that Hitler is a clown and that all the gloomy predictions of the 1930s were nonsense,” he added.

The UN General Assembly endorsed the report’s findings in November. In the same month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on the President and the Secretary of State to reject the report and oppose any further consideration of it in the UN. The measure passed overwhelmingly with only 36 voting against it. To see if your representative was among the few who opposed it, go here.

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Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 at 7:23 AM  | Stand For Israel

Get right down to it: Israel calls Goldstone report "anti-Semitism"

The UN is waiting for Israel’s official response to the Goldstone report, the UN’s “fact finding commission” on the 22-day Gaza war which charges Israel with deliberately and disproportionately targeting civilians, among other crimes, but is silent about any misdeeds on the part of Hamas. The official response is expected as early as Thursday.

In advance of traveling to New York to present Israel’s response, Israeli Minister Yuli Edelstein told Yediot Aharonot that “The Goldstone Report … and similar reports, are simply a type of anti-Semitism.

AFP interpreted the Yediot report as suggesting that Israel “is planning an all-out attack on the report to coincide with Wednesday’s anniversary of the 1945 liberation of Auschwitz.”

“The connection between the Goldstone Report and the international Holocaust memorial day is not an easy thing. On the other hand, however, we must learn the lessons from what happened,” Edelstein, the Minister of Information and Diaspora Affairs, said.

“Then too, those who yelled out were told that Hitler is a clown and that all the gloomy predictions of the 1930s were nonsense,” he added.

The UN General Assembly endorsed the report’s findings in November. In the same month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on the President and the Secretary of State to reject the report and oppose any further consideration of it in the UN. The measure passed overwhelmingly with only 36 voting against it. To see if your representative was among the few who opposed it, go here.

Comments (0) »

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010 at 7:23 AM  | Stand For Israel

Israeli green firm scores $350 million in funding

Two years ago, the Israeli-led firm “Better Place” (weird name, we know) was founded to produce technology that reduces dependence on fossil fuels. One of their first major projects has been solving one of the main barriers to getting electric cars into mainstream use: The fact that, while the technology to manufacture non-gas-powered cars exists, no car maker is going to mass-produce them because the necessary infrastructure to support them doesn’t exist (think corner gas stations with the ability to quickly re-charge electric batteries).

The firm plans to market electric cars similar to the way that cellphones are marketed:  The consumer signs a service contract that provides him with subsidized hardware (a cellphone or, in this case, an electric car) and then pays a monthly fee (airtime for a phone, mileage for a car). Better Place partnered with Renault and Nissan to produce the cars, and they’re producing the batteries.

Besides the obvious environmental and political benefits (um, does anyone really want to be sending money to Saudi Arabia or Iran?), the plans would negate consumers’ worries over fluctuating gas prices.

Unstable (and generally sky-rocketing) oil prices have wreaked havoc over the last few years: American consumers went nuts when average gas prices topped $4/gallon in 2008 — though Americans pay far less than in many other parts of the world. At the end of 2009, Israelis paid the equivalent of around $6.20/gallon, while Americans were paying only around $2.65.

Better Place posits that running their cars will be significantly cheaper:

“With $100 a barrel oil, we’ve crossed a historic threshold where electricity and batteries provide a cheaper alternative for consumers,” Founder Shai Agassi told the New York Times. “You buy a car to go an infinite distance, and we need to create the same feeling for an electric car — that you can fill it up when you stop or sleep and go an infinite distance.”

Better Place lithium-ion batteries are expected to run 124 miles per charge, but the even more important vision is creating and building the infrastructure necessary to keep the cars going — whether parking meter-like…

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Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 at 2:24 PM  | Stand For Israel
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State of Israel"

Rabbi's Commentary
God Is Present This Holy Season

Even as efforts for peace seem to be at an impasse all around the world, the Passover story can give us hope and affirmation that God is always present in our lives, and even when situations seem impossible, He is working in ways we cannot imagine.


Read Rabbi Eckstein's message »

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