A7News: IDF Chief of Staff and Immigrant Soldiers Kindle Chanukah Lights

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IDF Chief of Staff and Immigrant Soldiers Kindle Chanukah Lights

The Chief of Staff lit the Chanukah menorah Thursday with immigrant soldiers and IDF Chief Rabbi Avi Ronsky of the Samaria community of Itamar.

  1. IDF Chief of Staff and Immigrant Soldiers Kindle Chanukah Lights
  2. Arab-Israeli MKs Rail Against Israel
  3. Boim Says Israel, Not U.S., Decides on Construction In Jerusalem
  4. Matisyahu, the Musical Maccabee
  5. Gates: Worry About Iranian Nukes, Not Israel
  6. Bishara’s Replacement Being Investigated For Syria Visit
  7. New Settlement Sites Declared ‘Closed Military Zones’
  8. Just in Time to Play Dreidel: 2-Shekel Coin Makes Appearance

TV Programs
Dec 6: Is the IDF disarming the residents of YESHA? Click to view
Bnei Brak’s Hanukah Miracle Click to view

Radio Programs
Audio: Middle East Expert: National Intelligence Estimate… Click to Listen
Audio: Listen to Anti-Israel British Lawmaker Call Police on… Click to Listen

1. IDF Chief of Staff and Immigrant Soldiers Kindle Chanukah Lights

by Ezra HaLevi

The Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi lit the third candle of Chanukah Thursday night with soldiers and officers who recently came on Aliyah (literally, ascent – used to describe Jewish immigration to Israel) from various countries across the globe.


(Photo: IDF Spokesman)

Most of the soldiers came to Israel by themselves, without their families.

The Chief of Staff related his memories as a young officer taking part in secret operations assisting the Aliyah of the Jews of Ethiopia and told them how he felt then as a Jewish and Israeli officer. He also told them that the heroism of today’s IDF fighters is no less than that of the Macabbees.

The Maccabees, the heroes of the Chanukah festival, stood up to Hellenist cultural pressures and to Jewish assimilationists allied with the Greeks, fomenting and winning a civil war. They returned and rededicated the desecrated Holy Temple, and the small amount of spiritually-untainted oil for the menora (candelabrum) lasted eight days – a sign of Divine approval and the return of miracles to the Temple in Jerusalem.

Pictured on the left in a red beret is IDF Chief Rabbi Avi Ronsky, a resident of the Shomron town of Itamar. Right of him is Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

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2. Arab-Israeli MKs Rail Against Israel

by Hillel Fendel

Arab Knesset Members (MK’s) have made a series of statements and taken actions that call into question their loyalty to the state they serve. Two say Israel is not a Jewish state, another complains of Israeli racism, and a fourth is being investigated for travel to an enemy country.

MK Said Nafa of the Balad Party is to be questioned by police Sunday regarding his visit to Syria a number of months ago. Nafa’s request to visit Syria, which is technically at war with Israel, was rejected this past September by the Interior Ministry, yet he went anyway.

Nafa entered the Knesset several months ago to replace former Balad party leader Azmi Bishara, who escaped to Syria under suspicions of having committed treason. Just last week, an Arab money changer in eastern Jerusalem admitted paying Bishara $390,000 for information on behalf of Hizbullah; Bishara allegedly recommended Haifa-area targets for Hizbullah to attack during last year’s Second Lebanon War.

Another Arab MK of the Balad Party, Jamal Zahalka, is openly against Israel’s Jewishness. Speaking at a recent event in honor of the 40th anniversary of the creation of the PFLP terrorist group, Zahalka said that the PA must change its official stance which currently favors “two states for two peoples” – because this implies that while a new state will be Arab, Israel is a Jewish state.

At the same time, Zahalka stated that the Arabs of Israel and of Judea/Samaria are of one nationality. “Those of us ‘inside’ [Israel] refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish country,” he explained. “[Israel] demands this in order to gain legitimacy to expel our people and to steal the rights of the Palestinian people ‘on the inside’… The various factions must work together. We must protect national Palestinian unity, because it is the most important thing we have.”

Saturday night, Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh (Hadash party) spoke at an Arab event in Nazareth and slammed the Jewish State of Israel as “a sword on our necks.” “Israel received its Jewishness via the expulsion of the Palestinian people,” said the Israeli lawmaker. “We must solve the problem by clinging to our roots” – impyling that the Arabs of Israel and of Judea/Samaria have common roots and a common future. Barakeh and other Hadash party leaders received messages of support from PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, imprisoned arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The “Racism” Report
A group of Arab and far-left MKs have asked that the Knesset Law Committee discuss the latest ACRI civil-rights report – particularly those sections detailing alleged anti-Arab racism. Arab MK Ahmed Tibi said, “Racism has become a central current in Israeli society,” while MK Barakeh said, “The findings did not surprise us. These are the natural results of a campaign of racism led by political leaders.”

Newly-formed HaTikvah Party spokesman Dr. Ron Breiman condemned the MKs’ initiative to discuss the report. “We totally negate any expression of racism, including racism against Jews. Where were these MKs – and especially MK Collette Avital of Labor, who is trying to entice another racist expulsion of Jews by offering money – when the civil rights of the Jews of Gush Katif were trampled? Why are they silent when the government plans to expel Jews from their homes in their own land simply because they are Jewish?”

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3. Boim Says Israel, Not U.S., Decides on Construction In Jerusalem

by Hana Levi Julian

Israel will not be dissuaded from building 300 housing units in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa, regardless of any objections the U.S. or the Palestinian Authority might have, said Housing Minister Ze’ev Boim on Saturday.

In a speech at a regional security conference in Manama, Bahrain, Boim said there was no reason not to carry out the project, despite warnings from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the project might jeopardize talks with the Palestinian Authority.

“The Har Homa neighborhood is located within Jerusalem’s municipal borders where Israeli law applies,” he pointed out, adding there was nothing to prevent construction there, “just as there is nothing preventing construction anywhere else in Israel.”

Rice condemned the project Friday at a news conference following a meeting with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Brussels. “We are in a time when the goal is to build maximum confidence with the parties and this doesn’t help to build confidence,” she said.

“There should not be anything which might prejudge final-status negotiations. It’s even more important now that we are on the eve of the beginning of the negotiations. I made that position clear,” she added.

Boim acknowledged the criticism by Rice, but added that the decision whether or not to build in Jerusalem is an internal matter, not one that belonged in the global arena.

“Secretary of State Rice should be blessed for her efforts in the relaunching of the peace process, but it cannot be that on every occasion this [peace process] will be tied together with the cessation of construction in Jerusalem,” he said.

PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, who called Rice earlier in the week to formally complain about Israel’s decision to go ahead with the building plan, called on the U.S. Saturday to force Israel to halt expansion of existing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. The PA has been insisting that construction in eastern Jerusalem falls into that category.

“We loudly ask the U.S. administration to act as the judge and compel Israel to implement its commitments which the Roadmap plan specified,” said Erekat on Voice of Palestine radio. The first step of the Roadmap plan, which specifies that Israel freeze construction of new outposts as well as natural expansion of existing towns in Judea and Samaria, also calls for the PA to cease all terrorist attacks on Israel and dismantle terrorist infrastructure in its areas.

Rice is expected to return to the region on December 19, according to PA officials, who said U.S. President George W. Bush is also expected to visit January 9 to 11. White House spokesmen would not confirm the dates.

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4. Matisyahu, the Musical Maccabee

by Ezra HaLevi, New York City

Jewish Hassidic reggae star Matisyahu played a groundbreaking Chanukah show with Bob Marley’s band, the Wailers – illuminating Manhattan’s “Roseland” hall on Wednesday night, the second night of the holiday.

Chopping down assimilationism and heralding the decline of Babylon while singing of the return to Zion, Matisyahu illuminated “the belly of the beast” – as he referred to the venue. The Roseland hall is located in the heart of Manhattan’s culture district.

Opening for the Hassidic Jewish musician were the Wailers, the band of the late Jamaican reggae legend Bob Marley.

Matisyahu took the stage, melodically greeting the “sons and daughters of Israel” to scattered cheers, following with a greeting to New York City. The mixed Jewish-Gentile crowd roared with excitement.

His second song had thousands belting out, at the top of their lungs: “Shema Yisrael HaShem Elokeinu HaShem Echad” – the mantra of Jewish faith recited four times each day, meaning: “Hear O Israel, HaShem (literally, ‘The Name’) is G-d, HaShem is One.”

In this midst of his adaptation of Rastaman Chant – singing “Babylon’s throne goin’ down goin’ down, Babylon’s throne goin’ down” – Matisyahu suddenly declared, “Who wants to light up the menorah?” to a thundering response from the crowd. A young man boosted up to light the traditional Chanukah centerpiece modeled after the Temple fixture waved his kippa in the air and pointed to it as if to say: “It pays to stay true to our ancestors – it got me up here on stage.”

Matisyahu darts in and out of various roles throughout his shows. He is teacher and mentor to the throngs of high-schoolers. He is musical virtuoso and trailblazer to the music enthusiasts who, while intrigued by the depth of Jewish tradition and wisdom in his lyrics, are there first and foremost for the music. He is an example of what a Jew can do to spread the Torah’s message to humanity, to Lubavitchers and other Hassidim who curiously attend his shows.

Sharing his name with one of the Macabbees central to the Chanukah story, Matisyahu sings of Jerusalem and a return to Zion to young Jews who have long ago ceased to hear such messages during their two or three visits to synagogue a year. The message is fresh and sincere, yet ancient and resonant:

Jerusalem, if I forget you, let my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do,” he belts out, going on to sum up Jewish history and exhort his people to rebuild the Jewish Temple at the heart of Jerusalem.

In the ancient days, we will return with no delay
Picking up the bounty and the spoils on our way
We’ve been traveling from state to state
And then don’t understand what they say
3,000 years with no place to be
And they want me to give up my milk and honey
Don’t you see, it’s not about the land or the sea
Not the country but the dwelling of his majesty
Rebuild the temple and the crown of glory
Years gone by, about sixty
Burn in the oven in this century
And the gas tried to choke, but it couldn’t choke me
I will not lie down, I will not fall asleep

Matisyahu and Jerusalem
Matisyahu spoke with Israel National Radio’s Ben Bresky on his last tour of the Holy Land, speaking about the difference between performing before audiences around the globe and in the Jewish State. “The Israelis really give themselves over when the music is inspirational,” he said. “Jews love inspiration and particularly Israelis. If the music is exciting and inspirational, they give themselves to it 100 percent – 110 percent.”

One of the members of the often-cynical and stridently left-wing hip-hop group HaDag Nahash approached Matisyahu after a gig in Tel Aviv and told him: “It is so inspirational to see a Jew who is out there as a Jew making it and being accepted, because it’s never really happened before.”

It was quite a transformation from the first encounter between a recently-observant but not yet renowned Matisyahu years ago when the Israeli group was playing at the Lower East Side’s Knitting Factory venue. “I asked them if I could get on stage and they were kinda’ like probably “Who is this Hassidic guy?” They had never heard of me before. And I got up there with them and it was really cool, it was a really powerful moment.”

Matisyahu said “it was nice to come back and collaborate with them, after the success and stuff.”

Growing Interest in Breslov
Recent articles in the US Jewish press talk of Matisyahu distancing himself from Chabad-Lubavitch Hassidut. The artist doesn’t see it that way, but rather is thankful for everything he learned from the sect and is broadening his horizons to include other teachers and teachings within the Hassidic world. “Now I am interested a lot in Rebbe Nachman [of Breslov], in his teachings and writings and stories,” Matisyahu told Bresky. He said he was writing a song for his next album from one of Rebbe Nachman’s stories. Bresky coaxed him to reveal which story. He relented: “The Story of the Seven Beggars and the analysis of a dream by founding Rabbi Nachman of Breslov,” he said.

“I think it’s a good thing to always be changing,” he said. Asked if all his songs about returning to Zion would culminate in his own move to Israel, Matisyahu said a plan to make the Holy Land his home is in the works.

Click here and here for photos of the Chanukah concert at Roseland.

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5. Gates: Worry About Iranian Nukes, Not Israel

by Hana Levi Julian

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates informed attendees at an international security conference Saturday that Israel’s alleged nuclear capabilities are not a threat to the Middle East, but emphasized that nuclear energy in Iranian hands would be a threat to the world.

Gates urged the officials of the Persian Gulf nations at the conference in Manama, Bahrain to back sanctions by the United Nations Security Council which pressure Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program. The Islamic Republic decided against attending the meeting.

“Everywhere you turn, it is the policy of Iran to foment instability and chaos, no matter the strategic value or cost in the blood of innocents – Christians, Jews and Muslims alike,” he said, calling Iranian policy a threat to the U.S. and “all countries within the range of the ballistic missiles Iran is developing.”
Israel is not training terrorists to subvert its neighbors…It has not threatened to destroy any of its neighbors.

Asked whether he believed Israel’s alleged nuclear program jeopardized the region, Gates replied bluntly, “No, I do not.” He denied the U.S. held Iran to a different standard than it did Israel on the issue of nuclear development.

“Israel is not training terrorists to subvert its neighbors. It has not shipped weapons into a place like Iraq to kill thousands of innocent civilians covertly,” he said. “It has not threatened to destroy any of its neighbors. It is not trying to destabilize the government of Lebanon. So I think there are significant differences in terms of both the history and the behavior of the Iranian and Israeli governments. I understand there is a difference of view on that,” he added.

Gates acknowledged that a U.S. intelligence report released last week saying that Iran had ceased nuclear weapons development activities in 2003 had “confused a lot of people around the world in terms of what we are trying to accomplish.”

U.S. intelligence officials also said Monday when they released the report that if Iran continues its uranium enrichment activities it could still create a nuclear weapon within the next three years.

Both the U.S. and Israel are convinced that Iran is actively working to develop a nuclear weapon of mass destruction, despite President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s claims the Islamic Republic is focusing its program on nuclear energy for peaceful domestic use only.

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6. Bishara’s Replacement Being Investigated For Syria Visit

by Ezra HaLevi

The Israel Police invited MK (Balad) Sayid Nafa for an investigation Sunday regarding his illegal visit to Syria earlier this year.

Knesset Member (MK) Nafa replaced former MK Azmi Bishara in the Knesset after Bishara fled the country during an investigation into his alleged aiding of Hizbullah during the Second Lebanon War.

The outspokenly anti-Israel Nafa requested approval from Israel’s Interior Ministry to travel to Syria in September, which is an enemy country officially at war with Israel, and was refused. Nafa decided to travel there anyway, and joined a delegation of 300 Druze religious leaders.

Just last week, an Arab money changer in eastern Jerusalem admitted to paying Bishara $390,000 for information on behalf of Hizbullah. Bishara allegedly recommended Haifa-area targets for Hizbullah to attack during last year’s Second Lebanon War.

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter announced at the time that MK Nafa and members of the Druze delegation that traveled with him to Syria would be prosecuted. “Someone who leaves for an enemy country needs to know he will be dealt with appropriately in accordance with Israeli law,” he said. “And that includes MK Nafa and his delegation.”

Members of the government roundly rebuked Nafa, with fellow Druze MK Majali Whbee saying that Nafa represented an “extreme fringe” of Druze society.

Nafa told the Knesset Ethics Committee last week that he had made the visit as part of a pilgrimage to holy sites in Syria as a member of a delegation of Druze priests. The Committee reprimanded him, saying it was not interested in the criminality of his actions.

Nafa declared in September that “The Druze Intifada has already begun. Resistance is inevitable.”

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7. New Settlement Sites Declared ‘Closed Military Zones’

by Ezra HaLevi

The IDF has declared five areas in Judea and Samaria to be “closed military zones” in a bid to prevent the latest Land of Israel settlement effort.

“The security establishment has recently received information indicating the intentions of various bodies to reach various points in Judea and Samaria with the aim of settling them this Sunday,” a statement said. In fact, announcements detailing the time and location of each new settlement site were placed in newspapers and on bulletin boards in big cities and throughout Judea and Samaria. “The IDF and Israel Police stress, in an unequivocal manner, that a permit was not granted to this event, and that the relevant bodies have no intention of authorizing it.”

Accompanying the statement is a threat to arrest and file criminal charges against anyone trying to settle the Land of Israel at these spots or even transport people there.

Similar threats have been issued on the eve of dozens of past settlement attempts to Homesh, Givat HaEitam and other hilltop communities. The results on the ground have varied from active opposition by security forces to tacit approval and the securing of such events after the fact.

The plans are being coordinated between the Land of Israel Faithful, Youth for Eretz Yisrael, Women in Green and the local grassroots action committees.

“At a time when internal and external enemies are trying to choke us behind fences and walls, daring to tell us that we are not allowed to expand and build in our own land, the most necessary answer is to defy those anti-Semitic decrees by settling the hills of Judea and Samaria,” a communiqué issued by the activists reads. “That is the best way we can show the world that the Jewish people will not agree to give up its land.”

The points targeted for settlement, and telephones for joining are:
• Harchivi, near Elon Moreh: 054 797 3208 (meeting at 4 PM)
• Shvut Ami, near Kedumim: 052 813 3392 (meeting at 4 PM)
• Maoz Esther (‘Esther’s Stronghold’), near Kochav HaShachar: 052 302 5776 (meeting at noon)
• Givat HaOr (‘Hilltop of the Light’), near Beit El: 054 762 1450 (meeting at noon)
• Mevasseret Adumim (E1): 054 566 5036 (meeting at Kikar HaMishtara in Maaleh Adumim at noon)
• Nofei Chashmonaim, neat Chashmonaim: 054 771 8579 (meeting at 2 PM in main square)
• Maalot Halhul, near Kiryat Arba: 050 639 4919 (meeting at 1 PM in main square)
• Netzer, near Alon Shvut: 052 580 2666 (meeting at main square at noon)
• Givat HaEitam, near Efrat, was already ascended on the first night of Chanukah, with a new couple celebrating their post-nuptial Sheva Brachot ceremony there.

For more information visit YishuvNow.com

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8. Just in Time to Play Dreidel: 2-Shekel Coin Makes Appearance

by Hillel Fendel

More than a year after it was first announced, the Bank of Israel has issued a new 2-shekel coin on Sunday – the first change in Israeli currency in nearly 20 years. Children will undoubtedly introduce it into the popular Chanukah game of spinning a top called a dreidel, in which scores are often tracked with coins.

The new coin is 2.16 centimeters in diameter – smaller than the 5-shekel coin and larger than the dime-sized 1-shekel coin. As with other Israeli coins, the 2-shekel piece’s design is based on ancient Jewish coins. It depicts the “horns of plenty” filled with grapes and wheat, alongside a pomegranate, that were engraved into the coins of Yehochanan Hyrcanus over 2,000 years ago.

The new 2-shekel coin released Sunday
Bank of Israel

Yehochanan was a ruler during the Hasmonean period. His ancestors were the Maccabees instrumental in the battles of Chanukah that Jewry is commemorating this week. The coin was to have been issued a while ago, but its production in the Netherlands was delayed.

The addition of the 2-shekel coin will streamline cash payments, the Bank of Israel says, chiefly for high-volume users but also for individuals searching for change in their pockets. It will also save money in coin production and maintenance.

The new 2-shekel coin was designed to be clearly identifiable to the blind, with notches grooved into its side in four places. The piece is nickel-coated and has the Hebrew year of issuance engraved on it. Though it would have been worth some 45 cents when it was first announced over a year ago, the depreciation of the dollar has raised it to 51.6 cents.

Plastic 20’s
Bank of Israel is planning to issue a new 20-shekel bill this coming February to replace the current one. Made out of a type of plastic, it will be able to better withstand the note’s generally high usage. On the other hand, the five-agorot coin will be phased out of use within a year.

Bank of Israel’s latest report states that the public held 25.5 billion shekels in cash in 2006, up 4.6% from the year before. In general, bills comprise 96% of cash circulation. Roughly half of the bills are 100-shekel notes, with the others valued at 20, 50 and 200 shekels.

Of the coins in circulation, just over half of them are 10-agorot coins, used mostly as change for bus travelers. One-shekel coins make up 23% of coin-turnover – up slightly from the year before – while 5- and 10-shekel coins make up 3% each of coin circulation.

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Sunday, Dec. 09 ’07
29 Kislev 5768

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Talit 05:40 05:42
Sunrise 06:25 06:27
Sof Shema 08:57 08:59
Sof Tfila 09:48 09:50
Chatzot 11:29 11:31
Mincha G. 11:59 12:01
Mincha K. 14:27 14:29
Sunset 16:39 16:35
Nightfall 16:52 16:53

Currencies
Update: 05/12/2007
US Dollar 3.845 Ù
GB Sterling 7.8386 Ú
Yen (100) 3.4897 Ú
Euro 5.6571 Ù
Can $ 3.7713 Ú
Swiss Franc 3.4329 Ù


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