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Palestinian Win at the U.N. Friday

The U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution Friday supporting more investigation into alleged war crimes by Israel in last year’s Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza strip. The resolution solidifies the U.N. acceptance of accusations made against Israel by the Goldstone Report last year.

The biased resolution, known as the “Arab resolution,” which was drafted by Palestinians and consponsored by more than 20 Islamic countries, essentially mandates an ongoing further “independent” investigation into Israel’s operation in Gaza. However, the last independent investigation–last year’s Goldstone Report–has been criticized by Israel and her allies as biased. The report has also been questioned by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Prior to the U.N. vote this week, more than 90 members of the U.S. Congress signed a letter to Clinton which expressed concern that the Goldstone Report was being used “as a tool to delegitimize Israel and sabotage the peace process.”

The report, written by Judge Richard Goldstone, a former chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals, condemned Israel for the use of “disproportionate force” and committing “numerous serious violations of international law.” It included some criticism of the Palestinian role in the conflict, which the draft adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council in October did not include, choosing to focus on blaming Israel instead.

In September, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directly addressed the allegations made by the Goldstone Report when he addressed the U.N. General Assembly, calling it a “perversion of truth.

“Never has a country gone to such extraordinary lengths to remove the enemy’s civilian population from harm’s way,” he said, defending Israel’s actions in Gaza. “We dropped countless flyers over their homes, sent thousands of text messages and called thousands of cell phones asking people to leave.”

Netanyahu eloquently presented the evidence of Israel’s innocence before the U.N. body, but it seems the U.N. body was not listening. The resolution calls for yet another report within five months.

98 nations voted in favor of the resolution, seven against, 31 abstained, and 56 nations did not participate. U.S. deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff voted against the resolution, the Washington Post reported

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Saturday, February 27th, 2010 at 11:28 AM  | acohn

Rabbi Eckstein: Purim, then and now

Rabbi Eckstein’s Message for this week:

This Saturday at sundown, Jews will begin celebrating Purim, perhaps the most festive holiday on the Jewish calendar.

Purim recalls the deliverance of the Jewish people from their enemies nearly 2,400 years ago. The Purim story, found in the biblical book of Esther, is one of the most memorable in the entire Bible, one that Jews will hear read in synagogue during Purim services.

The King of Persia chooses a beautiful young woman named Esther to be his queen, unaware that she is Jewish. Esther hears from Mordecai, her uncle, that the King has entrusted the fate of Persian Jews to Haman, the King’s top adviser. Haman hates the Jews, and issues an order to kill them all.

At great risk to her own life, Esther reveals to the King that she is Jewish and pleads with him to save her people. He agrees to do so, and, in a fitting twist, hands down to the evil Haman the death sentence Haman himself had planned to give the Jews.

Even if Esther’s story is familiar to you, I urge you today to re-read it and reflect upon its timeless message. Esther’s bravery and obedience to God—her willingness to put her own life on the line to save her people—teaches us a valuable lesson about self-sacrifice and purpose that is as true and meaningful today as it was thousands of years ago.

Haman, too, is more than just a historical figure—he is as alive today as he was in biblical times. We recognize Haman in Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinjead, who issues frequent calls for Israel’s destruction. We feel his presence when we read in the news of terrorists who execute murderous attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions around the world. We hear him in the hateful words of Muslim clerics who preach that Jews are the “descendants of apes and pigs.”

One of the messages of Purim—a message that applies to Jews and Christians alike—is that in a world with no shortage of “Hamans,” we need more “Esthers” committed to standing humbly before God and seeking to defend His people…

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Saturday, February 27th, 2010 at 9:02 AM  | Stand For Israel

Everything the U.S. ever wanted to know about UAVs (unmanned drones), it learned from Israel

Earlier this week, we told you about Israel’s newly developed drone, The Eitan, the world’s largest un-manned aerial vehicle (UAV). (These are the drones that keep “eliminating” Taliban leaders and helping U.S. forces in Iraq without imperiling U.S. troops.)

What we didn’t tell you is that a significant part of the U.S. technology has come from Israel, which has been at the forefront of UAV development for decades. The U.S. Air Force did try using unmanned drones for reconnaissance in Vietnam, but eventually shut down all its UAV funding until Israel changed world opinion about UAVs in the early 1980s.

During the First Lebanon War in 1982, the IDF used small UAVs to trick radar installations into becoming active in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, thus revealing their locations. Once spotted, regular Israeli fighter places moved in to destroy the radar sites.

According to this interesting article in Popular Mechanics, the Bekaa Valley campaign convinced the Americans that UAVs had major potential. (They’re spending $5.4 billion on UAVs in this year alone!)

The article continues with specifics about how the Eitan might play into an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear installations:

The Eitan can carry a ton of payload and can reach Iran’s nuclear facilities, which the United Nations last week determined is hiding an active weapons program. But that does not mean these will be used as bombers. The IAF has been buying and upgrading airplanes specifically for long-distance strikes such as a potential attack against Iran. At least 50 F-15 Raam and F-16 Soufa aircraft have been converted by installing extra fuel tanks for greater range and countermeasures to defeat radar and missiles. So maybe the warplane/UAV tag team presented at the “operational acceptance ceremony” speaks to how manned and unmanned aircraft will work together on missions: The drone provides information while the manned airplanes drop the guided munitions.

Working from high altitudes, the Eitan will likely be used to provide prestrike information on targets, to eavesdrop on electronic communications and to send battle damage assessments back after an attack. It will also undoubtably be used to monitor any…

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Friday, February 26th, 2010 at 5:00 PM  | Stand For Israel

New book tells story of Hamas founder’s son who became a Christian — and spied for Israel

Israel is buzzing with the news that one of the most valuable Palestinian informants to Israel’s security service is none other than the son of one of the founders of Hamas.

In an interview published in full in Friday’s Ha’aretz magazine, Mosab Hassan Yousef discussed the decade he spent passing information about Hamas to Israel, exposed of a number of terrorist cells, and prevented dozens of suicide bombings and assassination attempts on Israeli figures.

According to Ha’aretz, Yousef–the oldest son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of Hamas’ founders and its top official in the West Bank– was considered the most reliable of the security services’ sources on Hamas,:

… earning himself the nickname “the Green Prince” – using the color of the Islamist group’s flag, and “prince” because of his pedigree …

During the second intifada, intelligence Yousef supplied led to the arrests of a number of high-ranking Palestinian figures responsible for planning deadly suicide bombings. These included Ibrahim Hamid (a Hamas military commander in the West Bank, Marwan Barghouti (founder of the Fatah-linked Tanzim militia) and Abdullah Barghouti (a Hamas bomb-maker with no close relation to the Fatah figure). Yousef was also responsible for thwarting Israel’s plan to assassinate his father.

Perhaps even more dangerous for Yousef than spying for Israel, however, is the fact that Yousef converted to Christianity 10 years ago. Yousef, now 32, fled the West Bank in 2007 and now lives in California. In 2008, he went public with his conversion — also in an interview with Ha’aretz.

After the article about his faith ran, the al-Qaida-affiliated Global Islamic Media Front released a statement calling for his death. Quoting Mohamed, the statement said, “Whoever alters his religion, kill him.” [emphasis theirs]

It is only now–on the eve of publication of Son of Hamas, his new book, which is being released by Tyndale next month–that Yousef is going public about his work with Israel. The book a childhood spent being groomed for the Hamas leadership, about his conversion and faith (his…

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Friday, February 26th, 2010 at 3:52 PM  | Stand For Israel

New book tells story of Hamas founder's son who became a Christian — and spied for Israel

Israel is buzzing with the news that one of the most valuable Palestinian informants to Israel’s security service is none other than the son of one of the founders of Hamas.

In an interview published in full in Friday’s Ha’aretz magazine, Mosab Hassan Yousef discussed the decade he spent passing information about Hamas to Israel, exposed of a number of terrorist cells, and prevented dozens of suicide bombings and assassination attempts on Israeli figures.

According to Ha’aretz, Yousef–the oldest son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of Hamas’ founders and its top official in the West Bank– was considered the most reliable of the security services’ sources on Hamas,:

… earning himself the nickname “the Green Prince” – using the color of the Islamist group’s flag, and “prince” because of his pedigree …

During the second intifada, intelligence Yousef supplied led to the arrests of a number of high-ranking Palestinian figures responsible for planning deadly suicide bombings. These included Ibrahim Hamid (a Hamas military commander in the West Bank, Marwan Barghouti (founder of the Fatah-linked Tanzim militia) and Abdullah Barghouti (a Hamas bomb-maker with no close relation to the Fatah figure). Yousef was also responsible for thwarting Israel’s plan to assassinate his father.

Perhaps even more dangerous for Yousef than spying for Israel, however, is the fact that Yousef converted to Christianity 10 years ago. Yousef, now 32, fled the West Bank in 2007 and now lives in California. In 2008, he went public with his conversion — also in an interview with Ha’aretz.

After the article about his faith ran, the al-Qaida-affiliated Global Islamic Media Front released a statement calling for his death. Quoting Mohamed, the statement said, “Whoever alters his religion, kill him.” [emphasis theirs]

It is only now–on the eve of publication of Son of Hamas, his new book, which is being released by Tyndale next month–that Yousef is going public about his work with Israel. The book a childhood spent being groomed for the Hamas leadership, about his conversion and faith (his…

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Friday, February 26th, 2010 at 3:52 PM  | Stand For Israel

The Book of Esther and Purim teach that God’s face may be hidden, but His redemptive power is real

“Mishe’nichnas Adar marbim b’simcha!” — “When Adar arrives, our joy increases”

– timeless Purim song

You may already know that Purim–which begins Saturday night–is often called the most joyous of Jewish holidays (it’s certainly the most raucous). But as much as merriment is at the center of the celebration, the holiday really marks the hidden ways in which God redeems and what Esther 9:1 calls “v’nahafoch hu” (“turning upside down”) –  the ways in which those who oppress and persecute will eventually have the tables turned on them and face Divine justice.

Adar brings joy

Purim itself is celebrated on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar* (which corresponds to this Saturday night and Sunday), but, as the holiday’s best-known Purim song tells us, joy increases as soon as the month of Adar dawns — culminating in the wild festivities of Purim, in which Israeli cities and Jewish neighborhoods around the world are filled with little children dressed as everything from the heroic Queen Esther or the sagely Mordechai to little policemen, tiny brides (always a hit with little girls) or, charmingly, High Priests; families rushing around delivering gifts of food and candy to one another; and more than a few tipsy stragglers singing and dancing on their way to a festive meal.

Just as stores in America begin filling with costumes in the month before Halloween, in Israel, stores begin stocking costumes as spring begins to dawn (the holiday falls four weeks before Passover, which usually marks the end of Israel’s rainy season).

The first holiday of exile

Purim is the first holiday of the Jewish exile. Following the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E., the Jews were driven out of Israel and a good portion settled in Babylonia, then a part of the Persian empire. Through a series of seemingly unrelated events, a young Jewish woman named Hadassah was conscripted into the King’s harem and eventually became Queen. Her uncle Mordechai  directed her to hide her Jewishness and, in fact, she gave her name as “Esther,” which means “hidden”…

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Friday, February 26th, 2010 at 12:47 PM  | Stand For Israel

The Book of Esther and Purim teach that God's face may be hidden, but His redemptive power is real

“Mishe’nichnas Adar marbim b’simcha!” — “When Adar arrives, our joy increases”

– timeless Purim song

You may already know that Purim–which begins Saturday night–is often called the most joyous of Jewish holidays (it’s certainly the most raucous). But as much as merriment is at the center of the celebration, the holiday really marks the hidden ways in which God redeems and what Esther 9:1 calls “v’nahafoch hu” (“turning upside down”) –  the ways in which those who oppress and persecute will eventually have the tables turned on them and face Divine justice.

Adar brings joy

Purim itself is celebrated on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar* (which corresponds to this Saturday night and Sunday), but, as the holiday’s best-known Purim song tells us, joy increases as soon as the month of Adar dawns — culminating in the wild festivities of Purim, in which Israeli cities and Jewish neighborhoods around the world are filled with little children dressed as everything from the heroic Queen Esther or the sagely Mordechai to little policemen, tiny brides (always a hit with little girls) or, charmingly, High Priests; families rushing around delivering gifts of food and candy to one another; and more than a few tipsy stragglers singing and dancing on their way to a festive meal.

Just as stores in America begin filling with costumes in the month before Halloween, in Israel, stores begin stocking costumes as spring begins to dawn (the holiday falls four weeks before Passover, which usually marks the end of Israel’s rainy season).

The first holiday of exile

Purim is the first holiday of the Jewish exile. Following the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E., the Jews were driven out of Israel and a good portion settled in Babylonia, then a part of the Persian empire. Through a series of seemingly unrelated events, a young Jewish woman named Hadassah was conscripted into the King’s harem and eventually became Queen. Her uncle Mordechai  directed her to hide her Jewishness and, in fact, she gave her name as “Esther,” which means “hidden”…

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Friday, February 26th, 2010 at 12:47 PM  | Stand For Israel

SFI supporters have no confidence in sanctions

Last week we polled the recipients of our weekly Stand for Israel enewsletter if they thought new economic sanctions would stop Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Here’s what they said:

82%: No, no economic sanctions will stop Iran

16%: The sanctions will have to be tougher than any that have been proposed in order to be effective

2%: Yes, the current level of sanctions will be effective in pressuring Iran into giving up its quest for nuclear capabilities

Incidentally, if you’re not already a subscriber to the enewsletter, sign up here.

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Thursday, February 25th, 2010 at 4:30 PM  | David Kuner

Historical preservation triggers Hebron violence

Jewish communities in Hebron have faced violence this week, following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement of two new additions to the official list of Israeli national heritage sites.

The sites are Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb, both located in the contested West Bank zone (where Hebron is the largest city). “People must be familiar with their homeland and its cultural and historical vistas,” Netanyahu said on Sunday of his plan to dedicate $100 million to rehabilitate the two sites.

Rioting started in Hebron following the announcement, with further violence after a statement made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday. In what Netanyahu called “a dishonest, hypocritical campaign,” Abbas claims the move illustrates that Israel’s leadership has no desire for peace.

Abbas also warned of a “war of religions” that could be triggered by enshrining Israel’s faith heritage at the sites. Netanyahu pointed to to Israel’s demonstrated freedom of religion policy in response.

The U.S. also criticized the move. “US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the administration viewed the move as provocative and unhelpful to the goal of getting the two sides back to the table,” reported the Jerusalem Post.

But the Palestinian response is ongoing: “Dozens of Palestinians are burning tires and are throwing stones at IDF soldiers,” according to the IDF. “Soldiers responding to the violence are doing so with demonstration dispersal methods. No casualties or damage to property have been reported.”

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Thursday, February 25th, 2010 at 3:02 PM  | acohn

Former VP Gore invests in Israeli “green” company

Former Vice President Al Gore may have his hands full dealing with ongoing controversies arising from climategate, but his “green” venture capital fund is up to productive work: It just announced $10 million in funding for GreenRoad Technologies, an Israeli start-up company with technology that promotes safe driving.

Gore’s cleantech fund Generation Investment Management LLP announced the funding this week, joining other funders, including Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Green Ventures, Israeli business daily Globes reported Monday.

Founded in 2002, GreenRoad technology helps “drivers and fleets to reduce crashes, improve fuel economy and reduce overall vehicle operating costs,” according to the company’s website.

The company says that customers can realize a 50 percent reduction in accident-related costs and a 10 percent reduction in gas usage in the first year, Globes reported:

Like many Israeli high-tech firms, GreenRoad is headquartered near San Francisco but its research and development center is in Or Yehuda, a city near Tel Aviv. It also has sales offices throughout the US and UK.

Many firms choose to move headquarters overseas due to Israel’s prohibitively high taxes and difficult bureaucracy, but keep their research and development divisions in Israel.

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Thursday, February 25th, 2010 at 12:55 PM  | Stand For Israel

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State of Israel"

Rabbi's Commentary
Together in Hope, Courage, and Faith

Recent terror attacks against nations founded on principles of peace, democracy, and the value of human life have been carried out by those who find these godly principles troubling and threatening. But despite the constant threat, these biblical ideals assure us Who will win this war.


Read Rabbi Eckstein's message »

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