Newsletter : 7fax1220.txt
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Germans Make Kosher 'Simcha' Beer
German brewers have begun making kosher beer for Jews, according to the European Jewish
Press. "Simcha", a white pilsner beer, has an alcohol content of 4.9 percent. It sports a
Star of David on its blue and gold label. The barley and hops for the beer are grown
organically in Bavaria; the yeast used to ferment it is made at the brewery and the water
comes from local springs. The beer is produced in accordance with Jewish dietary rules and
under supervision of a Berlin rabbi, but is not suitable for Passover. A halaal,
alcohol-free version for Muslims, is available as well.
Israel Rejects Hamas Truce Offer
By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israel has rejected a ceasefire offer from the Islamic terrorist group Hamas, which
rules the Gaza Strip. Hamas offered Israel the truce a day after 13 Palestinian militants,
including two top commanders, were killed in a wave of Israeli air strikes in Gaza. Israel
launched the raids in response to daily Palestinian rocket attacks.
Hamas official Ghazi Hamad said the ball is in Israel's court. He told Israel Radio
that it takes two parties to make a truce, and Israel should take the first step. He said
if Israel stops incursions, assassinations and air strikes, the Palestinians would halt
But after months of rocket fire on its border communities, Israel is no hurry for a
truce, especially after inflicting serious damage on terrorits in the latest air
Israeli parliamentarian Ephraim Sneh is a former general in the Labor Party, which is
part of the coalition government. He said a truce, or "hudna" as it is called in Arabic,
would benefit Hamas, but not Israel. "A hudna is [a] trap for Israel," he said, "and it is
a timeout for Hamas to become stronger, to receive more arms, more money, more explosives,
and it is nothing that Israel should endorse."
Tensions between Israel and Hamas have increased since the group seized power in Gaza
six months ago, when it routed the forces of the rival Fatah faction led by western-backed
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He seeks a negotiated peace with Israel, while Hamas
refuses to renounce violence or recognize the Jewish state.
Despite the power struggle with Hamas, Abbas' West Bank government said it supports a
truce in Gaza. Palestinian officials said a ceasefire would improve the atmosphere at
peace talks, which resumed a week ago after a seven-year break.
Arabs Desecrate Grave of Biblical Prime Minister Joshua
Jewish worshippers Tuesday were stunned to find Arabs had desecrated the graves of the
biblical Joshua, Caleb and Nun (Joshua's father). Joshua served as the Jewish Nation's
Prime Minister from the year 2488 until 2516 on the Hebrew calendar (1272 BCE - 1300
Members of the One Shechem organization that organizes visits to the graves arrived in
the village of Timnat (Kifl) Haress, near Ariel in Samaria, to prepare for a special
prayer gathering, discovered that Arab vandals had desecrated the village's Jewish tombs.
The tombs of Yehoshua (Joshua) ben Nun, Nun, and Calev (Caleb) ben Yefuneh were covered
with garbage and feces both human and animal, and anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans and
symbols had been painted in the area.
Nevertheless, worshippers gathered at the tombs Tuesday night for special prayers on
the tenth of Tevet, the day Kaddish and other prayers are recited for those whose date of
death is unknown, such as Calev ben Yefuneh. Organizers had cleaned up the damage and
attendees reported a positive experience.
Organizers reported that a wide array of Jews hareidi, national religious and
traditional took part in the visit and prayers. They also praised the cooperation
of security forces, particularly the Efraim Division of the IDF.
The One Shechem organization issued a call to the public to do everything in their
power to preserve the holy sites in Samaria, including Joseph's Tomb in Shechem and to
fight for the right of Jews to visit and worship there freely.
Israel Worried about Hamas Hajjis
By Israel Faxx News Services
Israel believes that hundreds of Palestinians who left on the pretext of a pilgrimage
will receive military training in Iran.
Israel Radio quoted an unidentified senior defense official saying Wednesday that some
1,400 Palestinians who left the Gaza Strip recently as part of an exodus for this week's
hajj in Mecca do not have the required entry permits from Saudi authorities.
Israeli intelligence believes that as many as half of these supposed hajjis are in fact
Hamas members headed for Iran, where they will receive military training to be put to use
in Gaza, the defense official said.
Saudi Arabia issued 1,200 hajj permits to the Palestinian Authority, and Israel
approved those allowed to go on the pilgrimage. Gazans who received permits left for Mecca
via Israel and Egypt.
But Hamas, in a show of defiance, assembled its own roster of hundreds of hajjis, who
left via Egyptian territory, to the disapproval of Israel and the Palestinian
New Patriot Anti-Aircraft System Passes Test With Flying Colors
A new, improved Patriot anti-aircraft missile system passed its tests with flying
colors Tuesday at an IDF base in southern Israel. The trial evaluated the improvements
made to the missiles' operational system with the aim of widening its range and
IDF officials and representatives of the semi-governmental Rafael Advanced Defense
Systems firm watched as an improved Patriot missile, dubbed the "Yahalom" ("diamond" in
Hebrew), was fired at a mock jet in a simulation of an operational mission, successfully
intercepting the target.
Anti-Aircraft Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Danny Milo expressed the IDF's satisfaction
with the system's performance, saying the successful test means Israel's defense abilities
vis-à-vis the "relevant threats" have improved.
The Patriot system, originally designed as an anti-aircraft system, was used by Israel
as an anti-missile defense in 1991 during the Gulf War between the United States and Iraq.
The Jewish State became a proxy target in the conflict, with Iraq firing
surface-to-surface missiles at strategic Israeli targets. Subsequent evaluations found
that the Patriots had provided a very incomplete defense against the missiles fired from
A senior military source was quoted by Ha'aretz as saying the improved Patriot system
can be put into action immediately, based on its successful performance.
Israel is slated to receive a PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability) missile system from
the US, according to media reports. According to a statement on the website of Lockheed
Martin, a US-based defense industry firm, the PAC-3 is "a small, highly agile, kinetic
kill interceptor for defense against tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and
air-breathing threats. The PAC-3TM Missile destroys its targets by direct, body-to-body
impact." It also has 16 launch pods, as opposed to the four-pod batteries Israel currently
Privileging Equality Rights over Religious Freedom
By Daniel Cere (National Post)
The master of one-liners, Henny Youngman, once quipped, "Why do Jewish divorces cost so
much? They're worth it." Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada cranked out a watershed
legal judgment demonstrating that a refusal to grant a Jewish divorce also can prove
In Bruker vs. Marcovitz, the court knocked a few holes through the wall of separation
between religious and civil law. According to Jewish law, only the husband has the right
to grant a religious divorce (get) to his wife. In some cases, when a marriage has been
effectively terminated and a civil divorce has been granted, the husband can still refuse
to grant his wife a religious divorce. In the eyes of Jewish law, she remains married to
her "ex-husband." The ex-wife is left in a state of bondage, a "chained woman" (agunah)
who cannot remarry within the Jewish community. Control of the get offers possibilities
for nasty parting shots by resentful ex-husbands.
Some jurisdictions have established special arrangements to try to deal with this
problem. For example, New York State has passed get laws that require the granting of a
religious divorce before proceeding to civil divorce. In Canada, there have been few legal
remedies for an aggrieved ex-wife-- until now.
Stephanie Bruker is a Jewish woman whose marriage ended in civil divorce in 1980. For
15 years, her ex-husband refused to grant her a get. He relented only when Bruker was
nearly 47 and beyond child-bearing years. She decided to sue for damages. Last Friday, the
Supreme Court of Canada overturned the judgment of Quebec's Court of Appeal and decided in
Bruker's favor. Jewish men refusing to grant a get should be put on notice. From this
point onwards, they are targets for legal action.
The court rejected the husband's argument that his religious freedom would be violated
if he was penalized for not granting a purely "religious" divorce. The judges argued that
infringements on religious freedom can be "significantly outweighed" by "the public's
interest in protecting fundamental values such as equality rights and autonomous choice in
marriage and divorce."
The judgment may provide some relief for Jewish women who feel trapped by the internal
logic of Jewish divorce law. In the long run, however, the arguments advanced to reach
this result could weaken the protection afforded to religion.
First, as the dissenting judges warned, there are dangers in giving the courts a green
light to use their coercive authority to meddle in religious affairs. Two of the justices
argued that the Supreme Court should have stayed out of this religious debate and let
Jewish law struggle to resolve its own internal issues.
They warned that the courts were being transformed from a shield to protect religious
freedom into a sword to coerce particular religious undertakings -- in this case, the
granting of a Jewish divorce.
Second, this judgment signals that gender equality may be crystallizing into a trump
right in relation to religious freedom. The Supreme Court of Canada seems to be drifting
towards the construction of an implicit hierarchy of rights, with gender equality at the
A healthy dose of suspicion should greet proposals to elevate "gender equality" as a
leviathan right ruling over other basic rights. For many, such equality should bleach out
all reference to sex difference in law and public policy. Yet, many faiths -- including
not only Judaism, but also Islam and Catholicism -- retain a strong affirmation of the
significance of sex difference.
If our highest court is willing to wade in on the issue of the Jewish get, one wonders
whether this signals that judicial activism is now ready to take on religion.
(Daniel Cere is assistant professor of religion, ethics, and public policy at McGill
Catholic Leader Rejects Israel's Jewish Identity
Israel's identity as a Jewish state discriminates against non-Jews, its top Roman
Catholic clergyman said in a pre-Christmas address on Wednesday in Jerusalem.
"If there's a state of one religion, other religions are naturally discriminated
against," Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah told reporters at the annual press conference he
holds in Jerusalem before Christmas. In his address, which he read in Arabic and English,
Sabbah said Israel should abandon its Jewish character in favor of a "political, normal
state for Christians, Muslims and Jews."
Sabbah denounced Israel's demand to be recognized as a Jewish state by the Palestinians
and said "God made this land for all three of us, so a suitable state is one who can adapt
itself to the vocation of this land.
"This land cannot be exclusive for anyone," he said, adding that the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict had unleashed "forces of evil" across the Middle East and
that it was Israel's obligation, as to end the warring. "The one who will decide is
Israel. If Israel decides for peace, there will be peace
Until now, there has been
no peace, simply because there has been no willingness to make it."
Sabbah expressed hope for peace in the Holy Land and urged both sides to shun violence,
whether "carried out by the state or by extremists."
Arye Mekel, a spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry, said Israel provides full
religious freedom to people of all faiths. "We reject his claim that other religions are
not enjoying equal rights in Israel." Israel has long pointed out that other countries
call themselves Islamic republics and are not criticized.
Sabbah, who has been the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem since 1987, is the first
Palestinian to hold the post and is frequently critical of Israel. He also lashed out at
Israel for visa restrictions he said were unfair to Christian clergy.
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