Eretz Yisrael Time

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Thursday, May 31, 2007
It's about time a leading Rabbi gave a public statement on the Jewish outlook on war.

Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (former Chief Rabbi) in a letter to Olmert explicitely stated that their is no cause to worry about enemy civilian casualties in a war to protect Israel.

Furthermore he said it is forbidden to risk the live of Jewish civilians and soldiers for fear of killing enemy civilians (such as what Israel did in Chomat Magen and Lebanon).

He said that the Palestinians can and do maintain a collective responsibility for what goes on in their own cities.

'In the letter, Eliyahu quoted from Psalms. "I will pursue my enemies and apprehend them and I will not desist until I have eradicated them."'

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
From the JP:
“A group of internationally renowned Israeli authors and university presidents demanded Wednesday that Israel grant Palestinian students from the Gaza Strip free movement to superior universities in the West Bank.”

Listen, I fully understand what they are saying.

First of all, how long is the expected life span of an engineering student in Gaza? Not very long when you factor in work accidents and guided missiles. West Bank students clearly face fewer life challenges when it comes to dodging Apache copters.

Of course, then there is the other consideration.

The typical West Bank student suffers from a shortage of apprenticeship prospects, not to mention the lack of “on the job training” opportunities in the field. With all the IDF raids, no one seems to be able to graduate to central Israel, nor pick up even the most basic skills needed to start making Kassams and better road side bombs.

So for your average Gazan and West Banker free movement for educational purposes would provide everyone with wonderful opportunities.

Gazan engineering students would get to live a little longer, and West Bank engineering students would get to learn from their more experienced co-educationalists.

I fully agree. Let’s open the floodgates.

Sunday, May 27, 2007
It’s strange. There was a time when the Golan was almost completely in the national consensus. Except for the extreme left, and their short-sighted political adventurist/opportunist, no one questioned our right or need for the Golan or the Hermon mountain.

Yet, here we are, with Olmert, Peres and their followers both publicly and anonymously announcing on a near daily basis that we must be rid of the Golan if we want to prop up a third world repressive regime (I mean Syria, not Israel), and the idea, quite scarily, is gaining momentum.

I don’t think it has to do with the Jewish artifacts, archeology, and history that is being uncovered all the time on the Golan. Though God forbid we should find more links to our past.

It couldn’t be because the percentage of Religious Jews (compared to non-religious Jews) living on the Golan might be higher than that of even Judea and Samaria.

To be honest, I don’t know why.

But Ha’aretz is reporting on a new hiking trail that was just inaugurated for the Golan.

So you are probably saying to yourself, see JoeSettler is wrong. Israel does want the Golan.

Except you would be wrong.

You see this trail was developed by the Golan Tourism Association in response to the not so subtle snub they got from Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.

You see, the SPNI has an important and defining hiking trail that traverses Israel called “Shvil Yisrael” or the “Israel Trail. If you go to the map though you’ll notice that it is rather selective as to where it goes.

Obviously it would never go into Judea or Samaria, but there was a conscious decision to not include the Golan as part of the “Israel Trail” for political reasons!

So while the SPNI helped develop and mark the Golan Trail, it is done as a completely separate track.

While the SPNI has the right to define their trails however they want, and while they obviously do have trails in the Golan, and along the Jordan River, you have to admit that purposely not including the Golan as part of the Israel Trail is about as political a statement as you can make.
Little did I know that on Friday when I went for a Top Secret Pow-Wow with Baruch Marzel at Ma'arat HaMachpela...

That I would bump into, none other than, Jameel and his son (and the rest of the Muqata clan - all armed to the teeth mind you)...

It seems that son number 2 (of 18) from wife # 1 (of 4) was putting on his tefillin for the first time. After some mumbled explanation as to what I was doing at the Tomb of the Patriarchs (I obviously couldn't mention the secret meeting with Baruch Marzel) I was invited to daven with Muqata clan.

With me at the Pow-Wow was one of my extended relatives (who we'll call Aleph).


Aleph's grandmother and great-uncles were prominent members of the Hebron community until 1929, owning homes and property going back to "time immemorial".

During the 1929 Arab massacre of the Jewish community of Hebron the family managed to escape through a series of miracles.

But, the family got separated in the turmoil of the massacre.

Aleph’s grandfather made it to Jerusalem, while Aleph’s grandmother and some of her brothers couldn’t manage to sneak past the marauding Arabs and found themselves trapped.

Suddenly, an Arab neighbor (whom they had good relations with) grabbed them and hid them inside the Maarat Hamachpela. After hours of hiding, some British soldiers extracted them and brought them to Jerusalem.

At that point they learned that one of Aleph’s many uncles (a baby at the time) was left behind in one of their homes!

So a rescue mission was organized by the family and they then snuck back into Hevron during the massacre, got to the house, found the baby and snuck back into Jerusalem –again through another series of miracles.

On the way out we drove by Beit HaShalom – the building recently acquired by the Jewish Hebron Community.

Friday, May 25, 2007
I was in Sanhendria yesterday. Had dinner with the family at "Pizza City".

I would rank their pizza at being as good as pizza in New York (which is, of course, my highest ranking).

Check it out.

Tell them JoeSettler sent you.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
The JP is reporting that corporations from Allied countries have been selling advanced nuclear technology to Iran.

Though it seems that after an explosion in January at one of the nuclear facilities, Iran is beginning to realize that the materials sold to them may have been purposefully flawed and “manipulated” by those companies.

It reminds me of a movie JerusalemCop once pointed out to me called “Deterrence”.

Isn't that just the height of hypocrisy?

Hamas leaders are worried that Israel may target the Hamas leaders, and suddenly there is talk from them that the Kassam attacks may subside or end.

It’s not even that these guys are cowards (which they obviously are). It’s how they openly demand martyrdom from their followers, but when given the opportunity themselves, they run, hide, and surrender.


Of course this doesn’t mean that Israel wins.

It just means that Hamas will manage to diffuse a stronger attack against them, while leaving the window open to launch attacks against us using an alternative strategy (before returning again to the Kassams) such as suicide bombers.

Monday, May 21, 2007
I really hope I am not the only blogger writing about this.

There were a number of articles today describing the freedoms the Shin Bet is permitting itself in infringing on the rights of citizens.

Utilizing the term “subversive” as their permit, the Shin Bet says it is allowed to use all means such as wiretaps (without a warrant obviously) and other information gathering tools (such as reading your emails before they reach you) to invade your privacy.

No need to prove anything to a judge, no need for “ticking bombs”, just whatever the S”B decides by themselves as being “subversive” is all that is needed.

Great, so not only do we have corrupt politicians running the country, now we have enforcement agencies with no limits, restrictions, or watchdogs, taking on some serious extralegal powers.

A perfect match.

I wish I could meet an Israeli who knew the definition of the word democracy and what civil rights really means.

Sunday, May 20, 2007
The Kosher Internet issue is really small fry compared to the current discussions in Chareidi circles on Kosher Cellphones.

I'll be honest, I don't know what exactly they are selling with the Kosher Phone. I've heard some of my Chareidi relatives swear by it, "it's a must, if you are frum", and I've heard some Chareidi relatives swear at it, "the idea is idiotic".

Yet, the notion is now seriously infiltrating the Chareidi world (yes, I know the product is over a year old, but now you see advertisements all over the Chareidi neighborhoods as it makes serious inroads) and will soon become a basic obligation.

I used to think that all the Chumras in America were a result of not living in Israel and the need to do "more" in order to feel religious. Yet, with discussions and proclamations going on here, I am no longer so sure about that theory.

I honestly don’t understand the need for “certification”. If you don’t want 3G features on your phone, then don’t buy a 3G phone. I’m still not sure how SMS isn’t kosher, but I’m sure someone will explain it to me. And from what I recall, legislation passed blocking immediate access to certain numbers unless you explicitly ask for them to be unblocked (or not, I don’t remember for sure) – but either way it certainly requires a conscious decision to make that phone call.

Yet I’ve already heard of Bnei Brak schools not accepting children in if their parents don’t have only Kosher cellphones.

Moving back to the internet issue, CNN has an interesting article on a study done of 40 countries (and the PA) regarding internet censorship (excluding Bnei Brak, Elad, Beitar, Kiryat Sefer, etc.).

The one thing that the PA and Israel have in common is that neither government has censorship/filtering on internet access. Of course we both have internal censorship/filtering and that is what I am discussing now.

So going back to Kosher Internet, I would agree that unlike cellphones, the “risk” is not just of “accidentally” visiting problematic sites, but having those sites forced onto your computer by mistyping, pop-ups and junk mail - which is far more likely, real and realistic scenario – not to mention the wholesale downloading of movies – a not so secret problem in the Chareidi community.

IMHO, the mounting edicts to have computers and internet thrown out of the house are extreme, as there are perfectly fine technical solutions that can solve the problem (and I am not against self-controlled/maintained censorship).

As any parent knows, one can buy software filters that prevent everything and anything from reaching your child (even AOL has children accounts that filter things out before they reach your home), and I am not against “Kosher” ISPs (and they exist) that automatically provide such services.

Of course there is a problem with Kosher ISPs as “Kosher” sites can also (inadvertently) get blocked and you are at the whim of the ISP who decides what you can or can’t have access to – and that might even include basic, required reading sites like the Jerusalem Post or JoeSettler!

(Now, an ISP that gave you a checklist of what to filter out would be very interesting).

But still, it comes back to that ugly problem that it is not you who is controlling your access and limitations when it comes to the internet, but rather an external social structure that forces you to follow them to their farthest extremes if you want to remain an “acceptable” member of the general community.

One of the biggest problems facing the Chareidi community is the social pressure that a few key individuals are able to place on the community as a whole.

I know quite a number of Chareidim who (privately) completely disagree with these pronouncements but feel forced to go along if they want to keep their kids in their schools, or not be social outcasts (and I know others who think these are wonderful ideas).

On the other hand, knowing the severity of the movie download issue in the Chareidi community – perhaps they do have a point there.

But still, it comes down to the fringe in the community doing the policing and creating rulings rather than the mainstream community.

As I said, the Chareidi community has a big problem in that even the nonconformists need to conform.

You would be surprised to learn that certain families/individual carry a lot of weight, not because they are “Big Rabbis”, but simply by their key position as school headmasters (i.e. Beis Yaakov’s such as Wolf and Kahaneman to name two large ones in B”B), and if you want your kid in a good (or the right) school then you must conform to their demands - (“good” and “right” having shidduch connotations).

Who would dare lead a revolution or even a minor disagreement in such a closed knit community knowing that your kid could be expelled and his or her future destroyed, not to mention becoming a social outcast among your friends (who secretly agree with you, but don’t want the same to happen to them)?

Perhaps in a future post I will discuss other closed mostly homogenous communities such as Ramat Aviv and Kibbutzim and how they damage both themselves and the rest of the country, and whether such ideologically closed communities are a good idea or not, but certainly everyone has a right to assemble and live in a community that reflects your value system - but what happens when that community become too closed and also happen to control or have influence in key societal/government positions?

(Kosher) Food for thought.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Jameel claims that the drums of war are beginning to beat.

I'm going to go out on a limb here, when I say I am very skeptical that we will reach that point in the immediate future.

Yeah, Sderot is being bombarded, and sure we even sent in a few tanks and did an airstrike or two, but a full out (or even partial) war?

My gut, right at this moment, just keeps saying that it won't happen.

Sure, it would be an easy way for both Olmert and Peretz to rehabilitate their images, but I think they were wishing/hoping for at least a few more months till they had to even begin to think of war, and right now they are frozen in the headlights.

They face another problem, and they know it.

What would be the goal of the war, and how would they achieve it?

The first is obvious, fewer rocket strikes per day - no more grandiose claims by Olmert that he will stop them completely - which relates to the second part of the question.

The only way to achieve absolute quiet is to liberate Gaza again.

And there in lies the crux of the problem.

Targeted strikes have only limited effect, and just like last year they should be used to soften up the targets to let the ground troops go in.

But, Olmert won't let the ground troops in, because the only way to maintain the quiet is to stay inside - something he doesn't want.

So Olmert is stuck, he has only one hope, and that is that someone in the PA will gain more control and lower the rocket rates.

In the meantime he will continue with targeted attacks of limited value, to create an illusion that he is doing something (just like they do with the wall), and the attacks will escalate.

The real questions are, what do the Arabs need to hit, and how many need to die before Olmert finds himself forced to act in a serious manner? And how far will he then be willing to go once he commits.

But like I said, short of a major (and I mean major - increased volleys on Sderot don't count) disaster, I just don't see this escalating to the level where Israel is prepared to wipe out the terrorist infrastructure once and for all.

There is an alternative which is just as scary.

Olmert will go for a short war, with the goal of forcing a UN or multinational peacekeeping force into Gaza - just like Lebanon.

It's an easy solution, because then the weapons and infrastructure buildup that will go on under UN observation will delay the inevitable - but delay it enough so that it will at least be someone else's problem.

As a final thought, can anyone explain to me the Left's infatuation with Barak? You would think after last summer, everyone would realize how dangerous this man is to Israel's security - yet here he is - a front runner.

Short memories is just too easy an answer.


(Updated: May 8, 2007) Well, here's egg on my face. I'm not quite sure how things changed, but apparently I am a finalist in the JIBS!!! I'll be in the Best Right Wing Blog Category - link/voting details to follow as soon as I know them. (Oh, and sorry to all of you I "phooeyed")


Thursday, May 17, 2007
A high-school was hit in Sderot today; evacuation of the town has begun.

Gadaimak is taking the reins as the government has left the residents of Sderot to their own resources.

Besides offering the residents of Sderot a free respite, Gadaimak is touring the town on Friday to see about reinforcing the homes so that people can continue to live there without being killed by a missile strike.

The government continues to do nothing other than shoot missiles into empty fields.

As RafiG (and I in the past have )suggested, it's high time the residents of Sderot started to shoot back on their own - while there are still residents in Sderot.
Ha'aretz is reporting that the hearing aid business is booming in Sderot. Apparently the Kassam alert sirens are so loud and heard so often that residents are suffering permanant hearing damage.
What's with Palestinians and trying to abuse the medical industry to commit murder?

Seriously. First they try to use ambulances to get suicide bombers into Little Israel, then they try to use Palestinians patients undergoing medical treated in Little Israel in an attempt to blow up a hospital. They use ambulances in they Pallywood propaganda and for transporting terrorists, rockets, and weapons.

Now they use "Doctors without Borders" to infiltrate into Little Israel in an attempt to murder some Jews.

We know how barbaric they are, but it still astounds me that they are willing to hurt, kill and abuse the very same people who dedicate their lives to helping them or are at the receiving end of the help these people and services provide.

Of course, the EU will say we have to ignore these abuses and let their ambulances and medics through without inspections, but thankfully Israel still hasn't completely lost all sechel yet.

But we're close.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
There are three questions we need to ask about the Gaza (un)civil war.

1) Is it sustainable?
2) Is it containable?
3) What steps need to be taken to ensure sustainment and containment?

The problem with these questions is that they would all be moot if Israel would simply go back in, reconquer the region, resettle it with Jews, and kick out the problematic Gazans to Egypt and let it be their problem.

But alas as no one in the Israeli government is prepared to take such steps, so we must consider plan B.

In answer to question 1, I definitely believe we can ensure that this civil war continues.

To answer 3a, first we need to make sure all sides and individuals have access to small arms and ammunition. A move the government and the EU have already undertaken. Next we need to ensure that all sides have enough intelligence information as to the exact locations their Gazan adversaries and opposition. And finally, we should make sure to instigate them against one other during potential lull in the fighting.

That should ensure sustainability.

In answer to question 2, is more problematic as the government isn’t prepared to take the minimum steps required to stop the Kassams. The actual steps involve reconquering the region, but at a minimum, making their staging and launching areas a(n expanding) no-man zone would be a good start. Of course, this would mean eventually emptying out Gaza, but that is the end-goal.

Certainly shutting off their water and electricity at every attack, and airdropping notes in Arabic that state clearly that the water and electricity are turned off because of the Kassam attacks should have some positive effect on containment.

This will help also help with sustainment.

So that should answer question 3b.

In short the Gazan civil war can be made containable and sustainable. It is only a matter of choice.

RafiG also has a solution.
Unless you running around with your head in the sand (talk about mixing metaphors) then you are probably aware of the war in Gaza against Israel.

Mystical paths was IMing his friend Shlomo Wollins in Sderot when a barrage of rockets hit around him. Here is a transcript of the conversation, and here is a short video of the attack on his house.

Meanwhile, the Gazans have entered yet another truce, which like every other truce of theirs was immediately broken.

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that the Gazan hospitals are running out of blood as “most Palestinians ignored appeals from hospitals for blood donations”.

Some “nation” we are fighting, or not fighting, as after 30 missiles have landed on Jerusalem Day, the State of Israel has yet to respond. It’s still a long day, but the first presumption is that Olmert and Peretz are frozen in fear, and all their talk of fixing things based on Winnograd was and is, as we all knew, nothing more than talk to keep their seats of power.

Would there be a war if only one side showed up?

That's a dumb question, because if the mountain won't go to Mohammad, then Mohammad and his rockets will go to the mountain.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
How often do you get to put up a title like that?
The truth is, I'm having a great time with the JIB Awards. But the managers/committee made one big mistake which they will definitely have to fix next year (and I hope there will be JIB Awards again next year).

(They made 2 mistakes actually, next year, voters should register to vote via an email account to minimize the purposeful disruptions someone is trying to do to the contest).

There is no question they will have to make a professional blog category and a normal blog category - and no intermixing between the two.

And every blog in Arutz-7 will fall in the professional category (regardless of the content).

The JIB Awards, as they are structured now, are a popularity contest, not a quality contest, and while in a quality contest my blog would beat all of their blogs hands down, the reality is that my readership is dwarfed by their newspaper, so when they tell their readers to vote for their blogs - on their front page, of course they are going to wipe out the rest of us normal bloggers.

Though truth be told, after reading their article I was expecting to be losing by a few thousand votes, not a mere 100.

I have no problem with commercially promoting your blog, after all, that's what this contest is about - getting new people to read your blog.

But not to denigrate (too much) their blogs, how many people would actually read them if they weren't published on Arutz-7?

Maybe Olmert was right for shutting them down afterall!

I am going to moderate comments on this post with a heavy hand. I don't want people to assume that I am giving license and liberty to attack the JIB Awards or Arutz-7 - as I highly respect both and the people involved with them.
Monday, May 14, 2007
This past winter the Settler family was invited to a (Yuppie) kosher restaurant one evening in Tel Aviv with some friends and family. Admittedly, the first time in years that we went out to a Yuppie place in Tel Aviv in the evening.

The Settler family walked in with our not-black outfits, baby carriage and a minor delay at the door because the guard didn’t know what a gun license looks like, not to mention the Orange T”Z cover.

I can’t begin to say how out of place we looked there.

The only ones not dressed in black. The only ones with children. Not the only Kippah, because it is a kosher establishment. Clothing and hair styles completely different from what we are used to seeing in say the Jerusalem restaurants.

It was a bit surreal, very otherworldly.

As many of you probably know, the Aroma café – a Jerusalem institution for some, just (or at least one branch) went kosher.

Yesterday afternoon the wife decided that we will try it out.

So in we walked, into a poor man’s Tel Aviv!

Everyone dressed in black. Almost not a single Kippah in sight. Round table discussions going on in each corner, etc.

I suddenly felt myself being transported back to that evening in Tel Aviv, merely by walking through those Emek Refaim doors.

Talk about two Jerusalems.

The truth is, I knew the Left and Yuppies of Jerusalem must hang out somewhere, but never having entered a non-Kosher restaurant in the past I never saw them.

When Aroma went Kosher, they didn’t flee their watering hole but entrenched themselves against the upcoming invasion.

Still, it’s interesting; one can still see the subtle differences between Jerusalem’s Yuppies (young and old) and Tel Aviv’s.

So while I felt transported, it felt like I entered a poor man’s Tel Aviv (just like Tel Aviv reminds me of a poor man’s Miami Beach).

I had the Portobello sandwich.

Afterwards I took the kids to Pizza Sababa and got us a pie.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Ok, we all know the Eurovision sucks, but they've really taken it too far this time.

A while ago I reported on the TeaPacks controversy (controversial only if you are European) and how their song was being blocked from the Eurovision contest.

Then, after it was allowed, Eurovision wouldn’t let them use their entire video background.

Now during the stage one of the contest, the TeaPacks video was cut out for 5 seconds during the international broadcast.

Now Teapacks is out of the finals.

And people claim the JIBs have problems!?
Thursday, May 10, 2007
There's a joke in Israel that those who don't make it as criminals become cops.

Arutz-7 has a disturbing, though far from unbelievable article/video on their site which alleges that the police forged a video to try to prove that they gave orders, in advance, NOT to use excessive force in Amona.

The Arutz-7 team takes apart this video in their video showing serious inconsistencies and other problems with the video which seem to indicate that it is a forgery.

One would think that after the obviously edited Kepler video, they’d get a little bit smarter (either by doing the videos better, or by not doing them at all).

I will only say, watch the video for yourself and decide.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
This past hour I received over 20 spam messages from just one company alone: Michlelet Selah, part of the Sela Group

This doesn't include what they've been filling my inbox up with all week long.

They've used the following spam companies:
Shahaf - Managed by someone who identifies herself as Keren Hume. Email:

EML - Managed by someone who identifies himself as Ofer Hen. Email address:

And another spam company in China.

I am going to use this blog as a platform to tell everyone to stay far away from Michlelet Selah.

What are they going to teach you about hi-tech? How to be a spammer? Apparently.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Dang, it’s been a busy week outside the house.

My parents are semi-retired. They’d be in full retirement, but it takes a few decades to pay off yeshiva tuition.

Anyway, their dream is to make aliyah (which is pretty funny, because I have a friend who now won’t make Aliyah now that his parents did).

Anyway, as much as they like and support the “settlement enterprise” they are city people and need their easy access to Ben Yehuda and the Kotel, so Jerusalem is the only option as far as they are concerned.

There’s an ad for Tovei Ha’Ir running on my blog, which is a “Senior Residence Center” oriented to the (active) English speaking retiree.

More as a joke than anything else (and part of the JoeSettler mission to go where the news is), I decided to visit the place (it’s at the edge of Geulah).

Trust me when I say I was not expecting what I saw.

Imagine the Laromme Inbal hotel with glass elevators, and an atmosphere reminiscent of Grossinger’s and the Homowack. You start to get the idea.

This place isn’t so much an old-age home as it is a 5-star resort with old people (and all their family coming to visit and use the hotel facilities).

I forgot to ask for prices when I was there (I was too busy riding up and down the glass elevator with my oldest kid).

I’m still debating whether to tell my parents about this place or not, I’d hate to have to leave the country.
Last week I read an article about a shul in Ikea (hattip: Muqata for finding me the link)

So as part of the JoeSettler policy of going to the scene and getting the inside story, I packed up the Settler family and traveled into parts of Israel usually reserved for the Leftist elites (actually Ikea’s biggest buyers are from the “territories”). (Special Thanks to Jameel for directions from Kvish 6).

I even took pictures of the shul (but am having trouble downloading them from my phone, so they will have to wait).

There is a sign there explaining that the shul’s furniture was designed and built by Kibbutz Lavi – and is presumably for sale, though no price tag was visible.

But that is hardly the point of this post.

Last time I went to Ikea was the week they went Kosher sometime last year I think – I immediately wanted to try it out their cafeteria which in the past I merely had to pass by.

What was interesting was the reactions of the people in the shul, “There’s a shul/minyan in IKEA!” being the most common exclamation.

But that isn’t the whole story.

You see, ever since Mathew Bronfman took over Ikea, the store has undergone an even more serious change, beyond opening a shul and going kosher.

You see, the store is now closed on Shabbat (open Thursday nights till midnight, and Motzei Shabbat a ½ hour after Shabbat ends).

Of course if you listen to the rhetoric of the secularist in this country and their demands to open malls on Shabbat as a basic economic necessity you would be confused by this decision.

Furthermore you would be confused by the results.

You see, not only has IKEA not suffered economic devastation by closing on Shabbat, but their business improved.

In fact, since becoming Shomer Shabbat, IKEA Israel sales have improved to the point where all employees received a 2.5 month bonus on their salaries at the end of the year – their largest bonus ever, because it was their best year ever.

Let that be a lesson.
I woke up this morning to find a flurry of activity in my backyard.

At first I assumed it was because they finally decided if the fence was going to go to the right or left around my house – or more likely right through it.

None of the workers would talk to me, claiming secrecy, so I turned on the news to quickly learn that the Hebrew University team turning over my vegetable garden was in fact looking for King Herod.

And as turns out Herod’s tomb was found… in my backyard.

JoeSettler on top of Herodium (in the center - with the gun)

JoeSettler inside the mountain (apparently, and unknowingly, right near the tomb)

This of course presents a difficulty.

You see, Herod, a controversial, often rightfully vilified Jewish king (unless you’re a Palestinian, and then he was apparently a Palestinian king as I actually heard an Arab tour guide explain to his gullible group of tourists on top of Herodium, seen standing behind me to the right in the picture) who built quite a lot of Jewish buildings in Israel is also going to find himself on the wrong side of the fence.

While, the area he is buried in is has been demarcated as a nature reserve (or Area B – it is hard to really see on the map) and the exact route is still under discussion, it is pretty clear that, just like other important Jewish religious and historic landmarks, Herod will find his grave under the proper supervision and protection of the Palestinians (think Joseph’s Tomb).

(Links to Maps: Here and Here)

Of course, maybe, like the Jews of Gush Katif, the Israeli government will dig Herod up and march his body through Jerusalem, and like Faisel Husseini, they’ll rebury him on the Temple Mount, right next to the Wailing Wall Herod built to hold the expanded Jewish Temple he built on top of it.

On the other hand, maybe this means my house will end up inside the fence after all (not that the fence should be built at all).
Monday, May 07, 2007
The picture in the previous post is that of the Ramban shul (also known as the Hurva - as it was destroyed) in the Old City under reconstruction. You know, the one with the arch (which used to be a dome).

One rumor has it, that the Israeli government had a deal with local Arabs not to rebuild it (not to mention local politics that prevented it from being rebuilt).

One story has it that in exchange, the rather out of place mosque attached to the shul wouldn’t be used (which I believe even has people living in it).

Unfortunately I don't know the details, but the forces of good have won and the shul is being rebuilt after having been destroyed by the Jordanians (in their let's respect Jewish Holy Places campaign) in 1948.

I have this story 2nd hand as it was originally told by Rav Neventzal of the Old City, so I may be fuzzy with some of the details.

Apparently, the land the mosque was on used to also be Jewish property. One day the (Jewish) owner got into a fight with his mother, and decided that the best way to get back at her would be to sell the land to Arabs to be used as a Mosque. So that’s what he did, and that is how a mosque got built attached to the Ramban shul.

The story came with a moral, but I don’t remember what it was at the moment – but I can think of a few off-hand.

For further information.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Tzipi Livini managed to knock herself right out of the running for PM. Tzipi's greatest skill appears to be knowing whose coattails to hang on to on the ride up.

Unfortunately for her, when you reach the top, there's no one to hang on to anymore and you have to stand on your own.

She quite clearly showed the public that she couldn't manage that minor little feat.

That's one loser contender out of the picture.
There’s a time when everything changes. Some people have been talking about the JBlogosphere having changed, and depending when you started blogging depends on which change you see as the most significant and gloomy (or happy). I’ve been blogging a lot longer than most people realize (I used to write under a different name, and don’t waste your time trying to figure it out) so none of the recent changes seem too major to me, just part of the process of maturation and mainstreaming.

If you’ve driven around the various settlements lately you’ll see that the Jblogosphere isn’t alone – and that the golden age of the settlements seems to have come and gone (depending on when you first “settled”).

Once upon a time, settlements were bedroom communities with houses and lawns.

Nowadays you’re lucky if you can find even a mere 2 family attached house, as townhouse rows, and more often, apartment complexes are becoming the latest fad.

Personally I find it upsetting that one moves to the suburbs only to find that your village is slowly (or quickly) turning into another Har Homa - where the population density is in reality far higher than anything Gaza even pretends to claim.

Some people see this as an outgrowth of the restriction on expansion being placed on the settlements. No more room to move outward, so instead we’ll go upward.

But there is another possibility.

Settlements are not just building up, they are growing up.

No longer are we sleepy bedroom communities, where everyone knows their neighbor, and everything else that goes along with that small town atmosphere.

No, settlements are in, and the contractors and municipalities see that.

When an area isn’t in demand, then houses with lawns are built to attract people to the location, but when demand is high, well that it is time to maximize what you have and build buildings and stuff in as many people as you can (and take out as many dollars as you can get).

The golden age of the settlements is passing. Settlements, big and small, understand and feel the great demand for housing that has been going on as of late, and the response is apartment complexes.

The small towns are turning into big towns, and the big towns are turning into small cities.

So yes, it’s a shame that the Israeli dream of concrete jungles and utter lack of city planning are taking over what was once rural suburbs and satellite communities. On the other hand, the settlements are now coming into their own and reaching the maturity that established communities take as they reach the next stage of their growth pattern.

So while the changes are less than ideal for those who were looking for a nice life close to, but not in the city, on the other hand, it is a wonderful sign that the settlement enterprise really is succeeding, mainstreaming, and further entrenching itself despite the actions of the government and other subversive fifth columnists.

Change Happens.

You've certainly seen this picture before (or rather the before of this picture). Anyone (outside of Israel only) care to guess. Once you do I'll tell you a story.
May I take this time to recommend to readers the "Leadership Yeshiva Academy".

LYA is a Yeshiva for student to combine yeshiva learning with an active environment.

In addition to all the regular shiurim (and an Israeli chavrusah from the neighboring Hesder yeshiva), LYA offers college transferable credits on poli-sci & archeology courses, and an amazing outdoors experience which includes regular hikes, navigation training, bike tours, pre-IDF training, and other physically active outdoors courses.

Of course part of the time is spent on personal growth, as their goal is to help create the next generation of leaders (leaders, not neccessarily rabbis).

So if that sounds interesting check out LYA.

If you need something more virtual, I would recommend Rabbi Brovender's Atid's WebYeshiva.

Via Video Conference over the internet, you can learn as if sitting in a Yeshiva, with Shiurim on multiple subjects at a range of levels. I highly recommended WebYeshiva too.
Friday, May 04, 2007
I don't have time before Shabbat to write and put everything up.

Sunday I hope to have an article up about...

1) Construction in the Settlements.

2) A famous picture you won't recognize anymore.

3) And what Medrash Shmuel guys (some yeshiva I've never heard of) do (or don't do actually) in their free time.

See you then,

Shabbat Shalom
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
I reported here that a breakthrough was achieved. Apparently I spoke too soon.

Oh well.
I saw this on DigitalIsrael today, and the cynical side of me just had to make a joke, so here's my version of their post.

Lev Leviyav has just bought the New York Times building. In response the New York Times has decided to abandon the building for a new location.

Isn't my version so much better?
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