Earl Shugerman’s Corner: Chanukha in Haifa – The Holiday of Holidays

December 31, 2009

Earl Shugerman brings every week a serie of stories about Anglo-Saxon immigrants to Israel. This project is aimed to promote a more realistic view of life in Israel.

We’re writing this while the Jews are enjoying the holiday of lights: Chanukah. Chanukah is celebrated as a holiday of joy and memorial to our past.

For eight days we light candles in the Channukia – which represents the miracle of the Menorah in the Temple in the days of the Maccabim.

Haifa, though, is not just a home for the Jews, but also Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Bahai and other religions. The beautiful thing about Haifa is that we celebrate together the differences in our faiths rather than see it as a source of conflict. Each year we have the annual festival of Hag ha Hagim-the holiday of holidays. This festival attracts each year to Wadi Nisnas tens of thousands of visitors.

This year, is the 16th year of the festival. The neighborhood –  has maintained its’ Arabic-Christian atmosphere and identity, and is known for the three churches and the market in the center. The festival takes place at this very lively market. At these times of the year, as Christmas approaches, the neighborhood is ornamented beautifully with Christmas ornaments that add a lot of color to the festival. This celebration is just one of Haifa’s advantages.

Another one of Haifa’s qualities is that you have a variety of lifestyles from the academic environment of the university to the orthodox Jewish community in Hadar to the Christian society in Wadi NisNas where the stores are adorned with Christmas lights and you can buy a real Christmas tree. Of course, there is also the Cababbir neighborhood where the Muslim majority lives peacefully-in a simple yet elegant middle-class environment. One of my favorite activities is to seat with my friends at the Cabbabir center, and enjoy the beautiful view of Haifa.

As we come to the close of the Roman calendar – I say to myself – if the people of Haifa can live in relative peace and harmony – why can’t we do it elsewhere. One of the most inspiring rewards of being an immigrant to Israel is that you have a chance to encounter different religions and cultures, and the personal growth that comes with it as result.

Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas from Haifa!

About the author: Earl Shugerman is a retired American Government public relations specialist,  currently spokesperson in Haifa for The Jewish Agency and a writer specializing in interfaith relations. He has worked together with the Catholic and Southern Baptist Movements, the Reformed Jewish Movement and Muslim groups in interfaith activities.

Understanding Terror Means Connecting the Dots

December 28, 2009

David Harris published  a letter on terrorism in the New York Times, in response to a New York Times article on the Brooklyn Bridge terror attack.

To the Editor:

Re “How to Find the Bridge? First, Pay Your Respects” (news article, December 28, 2009):

The article on the Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp states, “The shooting was considered an act of terrorism.”

Yes, the 1994 shooting of Ari Halberstam was an act of terrorism, but, astonishingly, it was not labeled as such by the F.B.I. until December 2000.

Despite the efforts of elected officials and, above all, Ari’s mother, Devorah Halberstam, the F.B.I. insisted on attributing the horrific crime to “road rage.” Only in 1999 did the F.B.I. initiate a review of the case.

Six years after the shooting, it finally acknowledged the obvious — this was a planned attack to kill Jews, and the van carrying Ari Halberstam and other religious youngsters was an inviting target.

Our country at times still has difficulty connecting the dots and understanding what constitutes terrorism. Witness, for instance, the fatal shootings at Fort Hood in November, and the painfully slow recognition of the killer’s motives, not to mention the pattern of missed signals preceding the attack.

The Halberstam tragedy is a case study in what can go wrong with a terrorism investigation.

It should not require a victim’s determined mother to set the record straight and try to wake up America.

David Harris
Executive Director
American Jewish Committee
New York, December 28, 2009

American Jewish Committee 2010 Annual Meeting

December 23, 2009

When was the last time you…

…received a briefing from the Obama Administration?

             …dined at an Ambassador’s home?

…sang Hatikvah with an Israeli soldier?

                         …heard directly from a head of state?

You will have the opportunity to do all this and more at AJC’s Annual Meeting April 28-30, 2010 in Washington D.C. We encourage you to register now.

You will hear from the Foreign Minister of Spain, Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé, one of the world’s most important leaders in stopping Iran’s nuclear program, as Spain will hold the EU presidency.

You will enjoy intimate access to top policymakers. There will be more exclusive private dinners that were so popular last year. The French Ambassador to the United States will host a small group at his home, among many more to come.

You will engage with the cutting-edge issues that matter most. Expert panelists will debate topics like “The Obama Administration and Israel“,  “Have Human Rights Gone Wrong?” and “Can Europe Be Multicultural?“.

These sessions will fill up fast, so please act quickly.

We hope to see you April 28-30, 2010.

AJC 2010 Annual Meeting
Global Jewish Advocacy
Washington, D.C. on April 28 – April 30, 2010

Grand Hyatt Hotel
1000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 582-1234

Register now!

Plebiszite: Volksabstimmung oder Volksverstimmung?

December 23, 2009

In einem Essay erschienen in der Neuen Zürcher Zeitung klärt der Historiker Christoph Jahr die Frage, wie demokratisch Hitler an die Macht gekommen ist und was Hitlers Machtergreifung für die Debatte um Plebiszite in Deutschland bedeutet. Sind Volksabstimmungen nur noch ein Erfolgsmittel von Populisten?

“Tatsächlich kam Hitler 1933 durch die Entscheidung eines kleinen Zirkels von Beratern des Reichspräsidenten von Hindenburg an die Macht, wobei Letzterer, wie der Historiker Wolfram Pyta jüngst dargelegt hat, keineswegs jene willenlose Marionette war, als die er lange Zeit erschien.

Hitler wurde aber nur deshalb Reichskanzler, weil er zu bieten hatte, woran es den alten konservativen Eliten gebrach: eine Massenbasis.

Und ohne diese waren alle Versuche aussichtslos, Deutschland in einen rechtsautoritären Staat umzuformen, wie die Jahre ab 1930 mit ihren – ab 1932 immer schneller wechselnden – Präsidialkabinetten gezeigt hatten.”

Zum Artikel.

Islamist Extremism and the Murder of Daniel Pearl

December 16, 2009

Senator Joseph Lieberman delivered the Fourth Annual Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture entitled “The End of the War on Terror” at Stanford University on October 18, 2009. The lecture focused on the consequences of Islamist extremism on both western and Muslim countries.

U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman:"“We’re not in a war against Islam. It’s a group of Islamist extremists who have taken the Muslim religion and made it into a political ideology, and I think if we’re not clear about that, we disrespect the overwhelming majority of Muslims who are not extremists."

U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman:"We’re not in a war against Islam. It’s a group of Islamist extremists who have taken the Muslim religion and made it into a political ideology, and I think if we’re not clear about that, we disrespect the overwhelming majority of Muslims who are not extremists."

“What we are witnessing is not a war between civilizations, as the extremists want us to believe, but a civil war within Islam,” the Senator said. Students, teachers, alumni and local residents also engaged the Senator in a challenging question and answer session. This lecture was co-sponsored by the Daniel Pearl Foundation, Stanford University’s Office of the President and Office for Religious Life, and Hillel at Stanford.

Read full story.

Happy Chanukah!

December 11, 2009

At this time of year, we recall how our people prevailed against those who would deny them the right to live and express their Jewish identity.

What better time to take a step back and reflect on how important the work of HIRAM7 REVIEW to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism?

The next generation will thank us for our efforts to act against those who would delegitimize the state of Israel and/or the Jewish people. In this regard, it is incumbent upon us to be modern-day Maccabees.

With sincere appreciation to you for your partnership,

David Berger – Editor & Publisher

Analyse réflexive

December 6, 2009

Beaucoup de ceux qui s’autoproclament «phénoménologues» ont oublié (l’ont-ils su un jour?) que ce qui est fondamental dans l’approche phénoménologique est une chose qu’on peut appeler de manière simple «analyse réflexive».

Beaucoup de «phénoménologues» auto-proclamés consacrent une grande part, si ce n’est la totalité de leurs efforts à construire des argumentaires pour ou contre des thèses, comme cela se fait en philosophie analytique, où beaucoup ne peuvent pas concevoir qu’il puisse même exister d’autres approches que l’argumentative. Au contraire, les authentiques phénoménologues ne produisent généralement pas d’arguments. Ils produisent plutôt des «analyses». Ce que cela signifie sera montré et décrit dans ce texte.

Lester Embree (New School, 1972) a étudié auprès de Edward G. Ballard, Dorion Cairns et Aron Gurwitsch. Il a enseigné à l’Université Northern Illinois, à l’Université Duquesne et maintenant à l’Université Florida Atlantic, où il est William F. Dietrich Eminent Scholar in Philosophy. De 1985 à 2005, il était président du Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology, Inc.

Lire l’introduction.

Commander le livre.

YouTube War: Fighting in a World of Cameras in Every Cell Phone and Photoshop on Every Computer

December 5, 2009

“Modern wars are won on television screens and Internet websites. These are the battlefields that really matter, the arenas that frame the war and the scoreboards that determine the losers and the winners”. Gabriel Weimann in “Hezbollah Dot Com: Hezbollah’s Online Campaign”

Terrorist attacks are media events designed to draw the attention of the press, because the attack itself will have accomplished very little without being viewed by the larger audience provided by media coverage. One of the key goals of terrorists is to shape public attitudes and perceptions and ultimately to undermine the will to fight. Terrorists attempt to accomplish that goal through the manipulation of media coverage.

A paper written by Dr. Cori E. Dauber, Visiting Research Professor at the U.S. Army War College, methodically lays out the nature of this new environment in terms of its implications for a war against media-savvy insurgents, and then considers possible courses of action for the U.S. military strategists as they seek to respond to an enemy that has proven enormously adaptive to this new environment and the new type of warfare it enables.

Read full story.

How Offshore Oil and Gas Production Benefits the Economy and the Environment

December 2, 2009

In a new Heritage Foundation paper, co-founder of environmental non-profit SOS California Bruce Allen argues that offshore oil and gas production can benefit, rather than damage, the economy and the environment.

Conventional wisdom holds that offshore oil and gas production harms the surrounding environment. This blanket ‘wisdom’ ignores the fact that the largest source of marine hydrocarbon pollution is offshore natural oil seepage. It also ignores the fact that offshore oil production has lowered the amount of oil released into the ocean by reducing natural oil seepage, especially in areas with active offshore oil seeps, such as California’s Santa Barbara coast. This Heritage Foundation analysis cites studies, developments, and biological facts that demonstrate often-overlooked benefits of offshore oil and gas production.”

Read full story.

Alan Posener’s Column: Facts about the Swiss minaret controversy

December 2, 2009

by Alan Posener
Die Welt / Welt am Sonntag  / HIRAM7 REVIEW

The Swiss referendum on minarets is still causing an uproar around the world, and rightly so. Those who support the majority decision to ban the building of minarets in Switzerland use some arguments that are worth looking at more closely.

1. The Swiss, says Henryk M. Broder, ex-candidate for post of President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and confidant of the new German Minister of Family Affairs, who appears CC on all his e-mails, the Swiss are the first Europeans to declare their will to fight against the “islamization of their country”: www.welt.de/die-welt/debatte/article5386891/Tit-for-tat.html

Bullshit. With less than half a million Muslims in the country, Switzerland is in no danger of being “islamized”. Were that the case, banning minarets would hardly help. The only connection between banning the building of minarets and “islamization” is that presumably some of the more pious and excitable Muslims will feel less willing to integrate into Swiss society. And one can hardly blame them.

By the way, While flexing their muscles against innocent Bosnians and Turks at home, Switzerland has done nothing to help the war effort in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and Al Qaida are training Djihadists and hope to face down the West in the Long War.

2. Roger Köppel, editor of  the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche, actually titled his commentary on the affair “The Courageous Swiss”.


Doublespeak, it seems, is alive and well and living in Zurich. Since when is it courageous when a 95% majority curbs the rights of a 5% minority? Köppel defends direct democracy, as practised in Switzerland via referendums, a “Damocles sword” against the political class, which has lost touch with the “normal” citizenry and therefore got its comeuppance last Sunday.

Switzerland, a country which is generally ruled by a consensus among the political parties, is undoubtedly a good example of the alienation of the political class from the concerns of ordinary people. That doesn’t give ordinary people the right to take out their frustration on the next best (or most visible) minority. Any democracy functions according to rules; these rules ensure that neither the political elite nor the mass of the people can simply impose their will on the country Or, more importantly, on a minority within the country.

That’s what a constitution is for. If the constitution loses its function of protecting the minority and becomes a vehicle for the enforcement of prejudice, it loses its authority. By voting to include a ban on minarets in their constitution, no less, the Swiss have voted to undermined the authority of their constitution.

3. Both Broder and Köppel argue that the vote in minarets does not infringe on religious freedom, as neither the building of mosques nor the wearing of the hijab, neither Muslim prayer nor Muslim ritual practices are banned. Indeed, the whole referendum was an exercise in futility.

But one asks oneself what the reaction would be if, say, the German authorities were to tell the Jewish communities in Germany how to build and how not to build their synagogues. It stands to reason that a discussion on the pros and cons of a particular design – for a church, mosque, synagogue or bank tower – is not only legitimate, but ought to be the rule rather than the exception. But if one can vote to include a ban on minarets in the constitution, what is to prevent further votes on the way Muslims practice their faith and present themselves in public?

4. Broder points out (as do many others) that in most Islamic countries there are severe limits on the freedom of religion; many point to the fact that in Turkey for instance, the churches are not allowed to own land and build houses of worship. Broder argues for the “tit for tat”-principle: No new mosques in Europe until, say, Turkey allows the building of new churches.

There can be no doubt that the positions of the overwhelming majority of Muslim countries are untenable and downright scandalous. Christian countries like the USA and Germany fight to free Muslim Albanian Kosovars from Serbia; to free Iraqui Shia from Saddam Hussein, to free Muslim Afghanis from the Taliban and their Al Qaida allies. And what thanks do they get? The discrimination and persecution of Christians persists.

But surely the answer cannot be to emulate this scandalous practice? The whole point of being a secular Western society is to rise above such petty squabbles. Turkey for instance will have to decide whether it wants to join the European Union, in which case the churches must enjoy all the rights enjoyed by the state-run Diyanet or religious office – or whether it wishes to remain outside. Switzerland has done an immense disservice to those who are trying to convince the Turks to proceed down the road to Europe. Thanks for that, guys.

It is surely no coincidence that after the worst banking crisis in more than half a century, first a central banker – Thilo Sarrazin – implies that Muslim immigrants are the source of constant problems, then a banking nation decides that four minarets are indicative of “Islamization”. Anyone can have an opinion on minarets, most people would be scared of having to decide on whether or not to bail out banks, how much capitalization to prescribe, how to regulate hedge funds etc. So the “brave Swiss” (bullshit!) pretend that there is simply no banking problem to take care of out there. Instead, they create a “Muslim problem”.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

Statements and opinions expressed in articles therein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the publisher.