Archive for September, 2012

Back in April, I wrote an article for Ynet which touched on the Iranian nuclear issue. I argued that only a handful of people have sufficient insight into Israeli military capabilities and civil defence structure, and the minutiae of the Iranian nuclear programme, to make a truly informed call over whether the Israeli government should resort to military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

I believe that the Israeli government has not just a right but a duty to do what it must to defend its country against the threat of nuclear aggression from the Iranian regime. Speaking in practical terms, should that include military action? I don’t have enough information to say.

Continue Reading

This is a guest post from Daniel Levy

I just love being Sephardi (my family is originally Turkish). In fact, I find it to be one of the simple pleasures in life! Below are some comic observations on being a Sephardi, or Mizrahi Jew. Funny thing is most of it’s true for me!

1. You refer to Arabs, Kurds and Turks as “cousins”

2. You like the sound of spoken Arabic

3. Your synagogue’s chazzan sounds like he’s chanting in Arabic most of the time. And you love it!

4. If you don’t hate Arabs your relatives are not only unable to understand why, but will quite possibly see you as a traitor and want to disown you

5. When you announce to your family that you’re learning Arabic, you get knowing nods and comments such as “Sensible; know your enemy”

6. In your family supporting the two-state solution is tantamount to betraying Israel

7. You have a natural sense of rhythm when dancing to Middle Eastern music

Continue Reading

I thought I’d share two articles I read today. Both of them really made me think.

Firstly, the brilliant Mark Gardner of the CST has posted about a French far-right politician who has called for a ban on Muslim veils and Jewish kippot. This shows once again that where there is Islamophobia, antisemitism is often present as well.

The other article is by Zahava Englard. Her son is an IDF soldier, serving on the border with Syria. She writes powerfully and beautifully as a mother, vividly explaining how it feels to have a son in such an increasingly volatile position:

So we read the news. We sit on pins and needles. We try to ignore the sickening churning in our guts, and swallow the cry that keeps inching up in our throats.

It’s worth reading her article in full. Maybe share it, too. Real life stories are such a powerful way of making the world realise what life is really like for the Israeli people.

Her words are all the more poignant today, after an IDF soldier was killed on the Egypt border as he defended his country from terrorist attack. Prayers are with his family.

I’m upset to hear that Rabbi Yisroel Lew of Chabad Bloomsbury has recently suffered an antisemitic attack in London.

Rabbi Lew is a magnificent man. He has been a good friend and a personal inspiration to me. It is so typical of his inspirational approach to life that, in discussing the attack with the JC, he ended on a note of hope.

Wishing him, his family, and all my Jewish friends, shana tova.

Eleven years ago today,19 Muslims hijacked planes in America, but 1.2 billion Muslims did not.

Some 38 years ago today, the Chabad Rebbe made a statement that was true then, was true on September 11, 2001, and is true today.

He said: ‘Particularly in these times, there is a great need to illuminate the darkness in our world. We see wild events and wild behaviors taking place in the world around us, events that have never before transpired, and which stem from utter darkness.

‘It’s because of this that wherever a person may end up, he or she has to light a lamp, a spiritual lamp, or at least a candle, or even a little flame, to illuminate that darkness.’

Thoughts are with all people who were killed, injured or bereaved by, or as a result of, the 9/11 attacks.

I wrote here of my admiration for the Chasidim, particularly the great Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

Below is one of my favourite of the Rebbe’s writings, from the magnificent book Bringing Heaven Down To Earth, which was compiled by Tzvi Freeman.

‘There are people who do much good, but with pessimism – because to them the world in an inherently bad place. They do good things, but without light and vitality. Who knows how long it can last?

‘We must know that this world is not a dark, sinister jungle, but a garden. And not just any garden, but G-d’s own pleasure garden, full of beauty, wonderful fruits and fragrances, a place where G-d desires to be with all his essence.

‘If the taste to us is bitter, it is only because we must first peel away the outer shell to find the fruit inside.’

Wondrous. Happy gardening everyone.

Read about Chabad Bloomsbury’s important work here. Follow me on Twitter here.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has pulled out of a speaking engagement in Johannesburg because he refuses to speak alongside Tony Blair. Explaining his decision, Tutu says Blair and George W Bush should face trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague over the Iraq war.

Blair can consider Tutu’s snub a badge of honour. After all, Tutu has some very colourful views about international affairs. He has made sinister and inaccurate insinuations about a “Jewish lobby” in America. He has frequently compared Israel to apartheid South Africa, and argued that Zionism has “very many parallels with racism”.

Tutu has also urged the Jewish people to “pray for” the Nazis, and is a subscriber to the obscene ‘they of all people’ argument.

So I doubt Blair, who has brilliantly responded to Tutu’s outburst, will lose much sleep over this. Indeed, one wonders what is really going on here. Tutu agreed to speak with Blair, accepted the fee, and signed-off promotional posters featuring him with the former PM.

At what stage did he decide that actually, no, he absolutely couldn’t bring himself to speak alongside him?

 

Read about my new book. Follow me on Twitter at @AllThatChas.

© Copyright Chas Newkey-Burden. All Rights Reserved. Thanks to Chris Morris.