Sunday, 24 March 2019

Trump: U.S. to Recognize Israeli Sovereignty over Golan Heights

From RRW
Trump: U.S. to Recognize Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights
Lori Lowenthal Marcus
March 21, 2019
On Thursday, U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced that it was time for the U.S. to officially grant full recognition to Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israel acquired control over that area in a war which Syria waged against the Jewish State in 1967.
Trump made his announcement using his preferred method of retaining full control over his message, that is, in a tweet from his @RealDonaldTrump Twitter account.
He tweeted: “After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!”
Article II of the U.S. Constitution grants to the President the power to recognize foreign governments. The Supreme Court, in a long series of decisions beginning in the 1930’s, has construed this grant of power to give the president exclusive control over which governments to recognize in a given country.
As a very current example, it is the U.S. President who decides whether this nation will recognize as Venezuela’s president either Nicolas Maduro or Juan Guaido. This presidential power extends to which countries to recognize at all, for example, Taiwan or Mainland China. And so also does it belong to the president alone to decide what are the borders of other countries for purposes of U.S. recognition and U.S. law.
Israel acquired control over the Golan Heights, a dramatically elevated plateau in the area abutting Syria and Israel’s Golan valley, in the 1967 war. It was the third of three fronts waged against Israel by its neighboring Arab countries: first by Egypt from Israel’s south, then by Jordan, along Israel’s southwestern border, and then Syria, to the northwest of Israel. Lebanon also attacked Israel during this six-day long war. But Lebanon played a limited role and, like the other Arab armies, was swiftly and soundly defeated.
In 1981, Israel declared its sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The United Nations refuses to recognize this change in status. One of the largest voting blocs at the U.N. is the virulently anti-Israel Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Trump’s announcement regarding Israeli sovereignty was foreshadowed by two other U.S. government initiatives, one legislative, the other from the State Department.
On Feb. 26, Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced into the Senate, and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI-08) introduced into the House, bills which, for purposes of legislation by the U.S. Congress, would recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The congressional initiatives made clear that the objective was not only to strengthen Israel’s defensive capabilities, but also to bolster U.S. national security .
On March 13, the State Department released its annual Human Rights Reports which discusses the status of human rights throughout the world. In years past, the document referred to the Golan Heights as “occupied” by Israel. That reference was dropped from this year’s report.
The head of the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was a U.S. Army Officer, a congressman, and the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Pompeo is an ardent U.S. national security advocate and is widely considered positively disposed towards Israel.
In addition to the official changes in position signaled by the bills introduced into Congress and the Human Rights Report from the State Department, still another message was recently sent from a U.S. official regarding the Golan Heights.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was in Israel earlier this month. While there, he took a trip to the Golan Heights with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israelis know that without witnessing firsthand the strategic advantage presented by the Golan Heights, it is impossible to understand why it is critical to keep it out of the control of hostile nations, such as Syria and her puppeteers, Iran and Russia.
During his visit, Graham vowed to push for U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. “The Golan is not disputed. It is in the hands of Israel and will always remain in the hands of Israel,” Graham said. “My goal is to try to explain this to the administration.”
Now that the President has spoken on this point over which he has exclusive control, the matter should be put to rest. But no doubt, as with every other major foreign policy initiative undertaken by Trump, especially those seen as supportive of Israel, the hysteria will be swift and vicious. Just as it was with the move of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and as it was with the decision to withdraw from the Nuclear Iran Deal, this latest act will likely be met with intense criticism.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Mussar: Points of View

originally posted  13 July 2013

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's Gateway to Happiness p. 141

"Essential to getting with other people is being able to see things from their Point of View EVEN IF YOU DISAGREE WITH THEM." [Emphasis Mine]


"Essential to getting with other people is being able to see things from their Point of View ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU DISAGREE WITH THEM."

Best Regards,

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Part 3: Interesting Words in the Megillah

From RRW
Guest Blogger: Mitchell First 

                              Interesting Words in the Megillah-Part III
            Haglah (2:6): exiled, caused to go away, from the root G-L-H. This root has two different meanings: “uncover/reveal” and “go away/emigrate.” An interesting issue is whether these two G-L-H  meanings have a common origin.
                Most scholars believe that the two roots have a common origin.  See, e.g, the entry for this root in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, vol. 2. But exactly what the relation is and which meaning came first is still subject to debate.  Phoenician has a root G-L-H which means “uncover.” This suggests that the “uncover” meaning came first. But Ugaritic has a root G-L-Y  which is a verb of motion. This suggests that the “go away/emigrate” meaning came first. (There is still a dispute as to the precise meaning of the root G-L-Y in Ugaritic. It may mean “leave” or it may mean “arrive/enter.” But it does not mean “uncover/reveal.”)
                   If the “uncover/reveal” meaning came first, then “emigration” can be understood as an uncovering of the land. If the “go away/emigrate” meaning came first, then the connection is that when people “go away/emigrate,” the land becomes “uncovered/ revealed.”
                  But there is another way to look at the relationship between the two G-L-H meanings, focusing on the people and not the land. Did you ever pick up a rock and discover ants underneath? The instant they are revealed, they are on the move! By analogy, when enemies come and are G-L-H another people, they are first “uncovering them” by forcing them out of their homes and hiding places. This causes the victims to be on the move. This approach is mentioned by Solomon Mandelkern in his concordance.  
                Pitgam (1:20): decree. Aside from appearing here, this word appears several times in Daniel and Ezra, and one time Kohelet. It is a word of Persian origin.
                Patshegen (3:14):  This word appears three times in the book of Esther, and nowhere else in Tanach. But the book of Ezra has a word “parshegen” that appears three times. Most scholars think that these words are equivalent. The words are of Persian origin and mean “copy.”
               Iyyei Ha-yam (10:1) (islands of the sea): The root of “iyyei” is aleph-yod. This word for island appears once in Esther, once in Genesis (10:5), and many times in the rest of the Nach. Many scholars believe it has an Egyptian origin. This helps to explain its unusual structure.
               Ve-ha-akhashdarpinim (9:3): This word has eleven Hebrew letters. This makes it one of the three longest words in Tanach. (There are two other words with eleven letters. See Yechezkel 16:47 and 20:44.  By the way, the word with the largest gematria in Tanach is “tishtarer” at Numb 16:13. Its gematria is 1500.)
              The original Old Persian word here is “khshatrapanan.” The meaning is “satrap” which comes from the Greek shortening of the Old Persian.   The Megillah adds an initial “aleph” to the Old Persian.
         Something similar happened in the case of the name of the king. His name in Old Persian cuneiform was written as “Khshayarsha,” and the Megillah adds an initial “aleph.” Interestingly, in Elamite cuneiform, the name was written with an initial “i” sound, and in Akkadian cuneiform, the name was usually written with an initial “a” sound. So the Megillah is not doing anything so unusual here by having that initial “aleph.”
           Now let us change topics and address a different root Caf-Bet-Dalet.  We know it means both “weighty” and “honor/respect.” These are similar meanings. When you “honor/respect” something, you are giving it “weight.”
             What about the root Kof-Lamed-Lamed? We usually think this root means “curse.” But in fact “curse” is a later meaning of this root. The original meaning was “something that is light” and (in the piel) “to make light of.” (Hebrew has a different word for “curse”:  aleph-resh-resh.) We all know the Hebrew word “kal” with the meaning “light.” This word comes from the root Kof-Lamed-Lamed. And when you treat something “lightly,” you are giving it “disrespect”!
               A separate issue is why the liver is called Caf-Bet-Dalet . Many scholars have suggested that it was considered “the heavy organ,” either heavy in size or in importance.  Apparently, divination with the liver of animals was widely practiced in the ancient Near East. (Do not expect me to explain this further! I have no idea! But I did learn some fancy words for this practice: “extispicy” and “hepatoscopy.”)
               But other scholars do not relate “heavy” and “liver.” For example, in his An Akkadian Lexical Companion For Biblical Hebrew (2009), p. 154, Hayim Tawil has an entry for “kaved”=heavy, honored, and a separate entry for “kaved=” liver. Nothing in either entry suggests that the two entries are related.             
             On a more mundane level, in Rabbinic and Modern Hebrew the root Caf-Bet-Dalet  sometimes has the meaning “to sweep” the floor. Most likely, it developed this meaning because you treat a place honorably by sweeping it.
              Going back to last week’s article about N-Sh-K:
         1. Psalms 85:11 is another verse that shows that N-Sh-K did not originally mean “kiss” and that it meant something like “touch, attach.”  Here the relevant phrase is: “tzedek ve-shalom nashaku” and “nashaku” is parallel to “nifgashu” (=met). I would like to thank Daniel Klein for this reference.
          2. A new interpretation of Gen. 41:10 was suggested to me: Joseph arranged all the dates in ancient Egypt! The verse states: “ve-al pikha (=according to your command) yishak kol ami”!  (I thank Josh Waxman for this bit of ancient humor.)
Mitchell First is a personal injury attorney and Jewish history scholar. He can be reached at Do not tell his wife that he understands the importance of sweeping the floor!

The Truth Behind the Mask

From RRW

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran on Purim -- hope you enjoy
The Truth Behind the Mask - Jewish Holidays

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Converting Amalek?

Originally published 3/19/08, 11:54 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.

Can one fulfill the mitzvah of destroying Amalek by converting them? There are more sides to this question than one might first think.

See, further,

Have a freilich Purim.
Rabbi Ben Hecht

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Jewish Ledger: The Democrats' Dilemma

From RRW
Click the cover to flip through this weeks Ledger online!
Why the Democrats' Ilhan Omar problem isn't going away
This week's eBlast sponsored by:


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says 
 AIPAC is coming after her. It's not.


"I am a proud Palestinian" 
Expert in Arab, Palestinian affairs speaks candidly to Stamford teens


Sen. Lindsey Graham, on Golan Heights, says he will spearhead effort to recognize Israel's sovereignty


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