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Mazal Tov: Tigers Pick a Jewish Manager

Many know that I am a Detroit baseball fanatic and was crushed at our loss this season to the Red Sox in the American League Championships. But all the mourning and soul-searching has come to an abrupt end on the news that former Detroit Tiger Brad Ausmus — and most importantly former coach of Team Israel — will be the new Tiger’s manager.

This was a very bold move. “I was taken back with how impressive he was,” Dombrowski said. “Every time Brad’s name came up, it was effusive with praise.”

Of course how Ausmus will work out with the most accomplished team in the MLB remains to be seen. The fact that he is Jewish doesn’t really impact that much on the team. We all hope that he has an

ability to motivate a team that has had its spirits crushed by two post-season meltdowns. He will have to be part motivational speaker, part sports psychologist, part manager, and part Detroiter. Not an easy gig.

His Jewishness may indeed play a factor on the season. Look to see matzah this Passover at Comerica Park. And what number has Ausmus chosen to wear? #7, in honor of Shabbos I am sure.

What a great early Chanukah present!

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Divide Over Kotel Prayer Highlights Racism of Palestinian Authority and Muslim Waqf

old har habayit
Jewish communities might be fighting about fair access to the Kotel, but what is missing from the discussion is Jewish use of holy places in Jerusalem. The Muslim Waqf and the Palestinian Authority’s opposition to the Kotel compromise demonstrates their intense racism. Instead of infighting, the Jewish community needs a bold and unified approach regarding access to the holiest Jewish sites and exposing injustice.

A newly released compromise for access to the Kotel calls for development of the Southern part of the Kotel wall for the creation of a mixed prayer area. The plan faces many hurdles. However, it is considered by many to be a fair solution to what seemed not long ago to be an intractable situation. Hopes are high around the world that those who most vehemently seek representation of their religious beliefs, and respect for their prayer choices at the Kotel, will accept the plan.

Even if there is a brokered settlement between opposing Jewish factions, there is a fundamental and historical challenge ahead. The most contentious front against the compromise at the Kotel will be from the Muslim Waqf and the Palestinian Authority which regularly launch protests against any development of Jewish access to places near the Temple Mount.

Jews may be able to reach a compromise, but the Waqf and the PA will not. The PA and Waqf will wage an international campaign claiming Jews are trying to destroy the Temple Mount just as they have alleged in the past. Whatever solution is eventually created, the Waqf and Palestinian Authority will decry it as encroachment on Muslim holy sites.

PA religious affairs minister said recently [http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/PA-objects-to-Israels-Western-Wall-construction-plans-316375] that that creating a Southern Kotel Plaza in order to add an egalitarian/mixed section may “push all of us to new conflicts”. Clearly these statements are intended to be threatening. He is promising a violent and organized reaction against Jewish access to our holy site, and Israeli sovereignty.

Instead of proposing a plan to create the mixed prayer plaza, Israel needs to start negotiations about a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount itself and development of access to the Temple Mount for Jewish worshippers. Jewish worship on the Temple Mount is currently illegal. In May a group from Canadian B’nai Brith, hardly a radical or religiously extreme organization, were met with intense racism, cries of “Allah hu Akbar,” and harassment when they tried to visit the Temple Mount.

“You don’t have to send delegations to Hungary to witness raw antisemitism,” said Frank Dimant, a man known for diplomacy and moderation, “Jews are treated as second-class citizens in the Jewish state.” Ironically one of the leaders of the mission to Israel, Eric Bissell, president of B’nai Brith Canada, was also a delegate to the Global Forum on Anti Semitism taking place that same week in Jerusalem.

The problem of Jewish access to the Temple Mount is of paramount importance to the future of Jewish access to other holy sites of Jerusalem some of which, like the Temple Mount and the Kotel, are clearly outside of pre-1967 borders. A future Palestinian State might make Jewish prayer there illegal. Successive Israeli governments have refused to address this racism over desires to avoid a provocation. The Kotel compromise negotiations have drawn this conflict out in the open and presents an ideal opportunity to bring to the world’s attention the intense racism of the Waqf and PA.

The Israeli position could be spelled out clearly for the West:

Israel seeks to provide all their citizens freedom of religious practice— something that the PA and Waqf are clearly against. Israel stands for tolerance of different religious beliefs and unhindered religious practice. Religions can live side-side and Muslim and Jewish worshippers deserve equal access to the Temple Mount. Israeli proposals could include a Jewish prayer area which does not encroach upon the two mosques on the Mount.

The promised outcry from the PA will present the Jewish community with the undeniable fact that they do not control the destiny of their holiest places.

If the Waqf and the Palestinian Authority succeed in making those hard won plans for compromise and fair access to the Kotel obsolete through their threats of violence, the Jewish community in America, and Israel will face a serious test.

Therefore it is in Jewish and Israeli self-interest to reach a compromise over prayer at the Kotel. Israel and Jewish communities abroad need to stand together in solidarity to ensure fair access to the all Jewish holy places like Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb, rather than be bogged down in intense infighting over mixed prayer at the Kotel. Energy needs to expended upon fair prayer and fighting racism not denominational antipathy. Dueling over who decides what is authentic prayer distracts Jews from historic milestone of unfettered access to the Kotel denied for so many generations by successive occupying powers. It was not so long ago that no Jew could pray at the Kotel at all.

The debate must be change from the narrow question of fair access to a universal one – from “who prays where” at the Kotel, to “who prays where” in Jerusalem.

National Geographic’s Whitewashing of Hamas and the Gaza Tunnels

gaza-tunnel-worker-615-450x300One usually turns to National Geographic to look at the world and marvel at the planet. It covers issues critical to human and animal survival. I love National Geographic and so do my kids.

So imagine my surprise when the Gaza Tunnels article popped up. This lengthy article on the Gaza strip is a whitewashing of a vicious terror group and their means of attaining weapons.The author is James Verini who last year in ForeignPolicy.com wrote on the de facto existence of a Palestinian State,forgot to mention that it was Palestinians who rejected the 1947 UN Partition Plan. He also jumped on the anti-Israel bandwagon “Indeed, no country has been censured as many times by the Security Council (none come close).”

So from the start one would expect that Verini, who might have the best of intentions, has a particularly biased position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the article fails on so many accounts. The most egregious places include willful and misleading information.

The fact that weapons, including bombs, guns, and missile parts are smuggled through these tunnels is completely ignored. Israel is the constant bogey man accused of every problem, and Hamas, a dictatorship that terrorizes its own citizens, looks relatively benign. The fact that Israel trucks in hundreds of tons of aid daily is completely ignored. Read more

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Jewlicious, The Temple Mount, and The Future Of Jerusalem on Foursquare

Can you phantom check-in and fool God?

Who is the mayor of the mount? Is it Ariela Ross, the one who on Foursquare is crowned the mayor? Or does the title — and the significant wealth, honor, prestige, and free fries— belong to a humble Jerusalem blogger named David Abitbol?

Here are some news articles recently published on this matter.

From the JPost:

For Ariela Ross, being the “mayor” of Al-Aksa Mosque and the Old City’s entire Muslim and Christian Quarters is quite natural – as these are the places where she spends much of her spare time….With 66 total “check-ins” as of Wednesday afternoon, Al-Aksa’s coveted mayorship currently remains in Ross’s hands through her own nine check-ins on the increasingly popular smartphone application called Foursquare, which allows users to tell their friends exactly where they are at any given time.

From the NY Media Observer:

She visited the mosque at the invitation of the mother of a Muslim boyfriend, a Bedouin Israeli, but she admitted that many of her check-ins were not strictly from within the mosque itself. “Usually I’m sitting right outside of it,” she said, “but I didn’t see any reason to create a new location” on Foursquare.

As for Abitbol, he frequents the Temple Mount because “it’s really pretty, the workmanship on the mosques is remarkable, the views are great and, most importantly, it is the holiest site in Judaism.”

While he would like to see the Jewish Temple rebuilt one day, he said, he expects the restoration to happen by divine intervention—”not by man.”

A few things I don’t get is how she can be called a nice Jewish girl in the article headline, [Disputed Territories: Nice Jewish Girl Claims Foursquare Mayorship of Temple Mount] and admit to dating a Muslim,  and admitting to phantom check-ins.

Jewlicious has posted many pictures of himself on the Temple Mount. If Ross is the true Mayor, wouldn’t it be right to have a bunch of photos of her on the Temple Mount too? Our researchers looked through her Twitpic account and found none.

Which is why I am writing this whole piece to begin with.

Jewlicious aka David Abitbol is clearly the Foursquare Mayor of the Temple Mount fair and uhm, square. He takes pictures every time he is there. There are no secret visits, or check-in’s during non-Muslim hours.

Mayor Abitbol, I think it is time for your coronation.