The problems with the Lubavitch

The Israelis and Gaza…the religious right
April 8, 2009, 5:19 pm
Filed under: Israel, separation of church and state | Tags: , ,

More Allegations Surface in Israeli Accounts of Gaza War (March 21, 2009)


Tyler Hicks

Times Topics: Israel

In 1990, Mr. Zamir, then a parachute company commander in the reserves, was sentenced to prison for refusing to guard a ceremony involving religious Jews visiting the West Bank city of Nablus. For some, that refusal is a badge of honor; for others it is an act of insubordination.

JERUSALEM — The publication late last week of eyewitness accounts by Israeli soldiers alleging acute mistreatment of Palestinian civilians in the recent Gaza fighting highlights a debate here about the rules of war. But it also exposes something else: the clash between secular liberals and religious nationalists for control over the army and society.

AFTERMATH A sign of the intense violence: A donkey’s carcass lies where it was shot.

Several of the testimonies, published by an institute that runs a premilitary course and is affiliated with the left-leaning secular kibbutz movement, showed a distinct impatience with religious soldiers, portraying them as self-appointed holy warriors.

A soldier, identified by the pseudonym Ram, is quoted as saying that in Gaza, “the rabbinate brought in a lot of booklets and articles and their message was very clear: We are the Jewish people, we came to this land by a miracle, God brought us back to this land and now we need to fight to expel the non-Jews who are interfering with our conquest of this holy land. This was the main message, and the whole sense many soldiers had in this operation was of a religious war.”

Dany Zamir, the director of the one-year premilitary course who solicited the testimonies and then leaked them, leading to a promise by the military to investigate, is quoted in the transcripts as expressing anguish over the growing religious nationalist elements of the military.

“If clerics are anointing us with oil and sticking holy books in our hands, and if the soldiers in these units aren’t representative of the whole spectrum of the Jewish people, but rather of certain segments of the population, what can we expect?” he said. “To whom do we complain?”

For the first four decades of Israel’s existence, the army — like many of the country’s institutions — was dominated by kibbutz members who saw themselves as secular, Western and educated. In the past decade or two, religious nationalists, including many from the settler movement in the West Bank, have moved into more and more positions of military responsibility. (In Israeli society, they are a growing force, distinct from, and more modern than, the black-garbed ultra-Orthodox, who are excused from military service.)

In many cases, the religious nationalists have ascended to command positions from precisely the kind of premilitary college course that Mr. Zamir runs — but theirs are run by the religious movements rather than his secular one, meaning that the competition between him and them is both ideological and careerist.

“The officer corps of the elite Golani Brigade is now heavily populated by religious right-wing graduates of the preparatory academies,” noted Moshe Halbertal, a Jewish philosophy professor who co-wrote the military code of ethics and who is himself religiously observant but politically liberal. “The religious right is trying to have an impact on Israeli society through the army.”

For Mr. Halbertal, like for the vast majority of Israelis, the army is an especially sensitive institution because it has always functioned as a social cauldron, throwing together people from all walks of life and scores of ethnic and national backgrounds, and helping form them into a cohesive society with social networks that carry on throughout their lives.

Those who oppose the religious right have been especially concerned about the influence of the military’s chief rabbi, Brig. Gen. Avichai Rontzki, who is himself a West Bank settler and who was very active during the war, spending most of it in the company of the troops in the field.

He took a quotation from a classical Hebrew text and turned it into a slogan during the war: “He who is merciful to the cruel will end up being cruel to the merciful.”

A controversy then arose when a booklet handed out to soldiers was found to contain a rabbinical edict against showing the enemy mercy. The Defense Ministry reprimanded the rabbi.

At the time, in January, Avshalom Vilan, then a leftist member of Parliament, accused the rabbi of having “turned the Israeli military’s activity from fighting out of necessity into a holy war.”

Immediately after Israel withdrew its settlers and soldiers from Gaza in 2005 and then from several West Bank settlements, there was a call to disband certain religious programs in the army because some soldiers in them said they would refuse to obey future orders to disband settlements. After the rise of Hamas in Gaza and the increase in rocket attacks on Israel, that discussion died down.

But Yaron Ezrahi, a leftist political scientist at Hebrew University who has been lecturing to military commanders, said that the call to close those programs should now be revived because what was evident in Gaza was that the humanistic tradition from which a code of ethics is derived was not being sufficiently observed there.

The dispute over control of the army is not only ideological. It is also personal, as all politics is in this small, intimate country. Those who disagree with the chief rabbi have vilified him. Those who are unhappy with what Mr. Zamir did by leaking the transcript of the Gaza soldiers’ testimonies last week have spread word that he is a leftist ideologue out to harm Israel.

treason. A quiet campaign began on Thursday regarding Mr. Zamir’s leftist sympathies, to discredit the transcript he publicized.

At the same time, Rabbi Rontzki’s numerous sayings and writings have been making the rounds among leftist intellectuals. He has written, for example, that what others call “humanistic values” are simply subjective feelings that should be subordinate to following the law of the Torah.

He has also said that the main reason for a Jewish doctor to treat a non-Jew on the Sabbath, when work is prohibited but treating the sick and injured is expected, is to avoid exposing Diaspora Jews to hatred.

Mr. Halbertal, the Jewish philosopher who opposes the attitude of Rabbi Rontzki, said the divide that is growing in Israel is not only between religious and secular Jews but among the religious themselves. The debate is over three issues — the sanctity of land versus life; the relationship between messianism and Zionism; and the place of non-Jews in a sovereign Jewish state.

The religious left argues that the right has made a fetish of the land of Israel instead of letting life take precedence, he said. The religious left also rejects the messianic nature of the right’s Zionist discourse, and it argues that Jewish tradition values all life, not primarily Jewish life.

“The right tends to make an equation between authenticity and brutality, as if the idea of humanism were a Western and alien implant to Judaism,” he said. “They seem not to know that nationalism and fascism are also Western ideas and that hypernationalism is not Jewish at all.”


The Israel Right and Hindu Right…. how they used the Lubavitch in Mumbai and the Indian Government
December 29, 2008, 5:21 pm
Filed under: separation of church and state

India’s Reckless Road To Washington Through Tel Aviv

By Vijay Prashad

26 December, 2008


On Thursday, November 27, in the middle of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, Imran Babar, one of the terrorists, called India TV from Nariman House. He used a cellphone that belonged to Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, the co-director of the Chabad-Lubavitch Center. The following day, Babar and his associates killed Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka. The phone call he made was not long. Babar opened with a comment that made little sense to most people: “You call [Israel’s] army staff to visit Kashmir. Who are they to come to J &K [Jammu and Kashmir]? This is a matter between us and Hindus, the Hindu government. Why does Israel come here?”

Little is known of Babar’s babbles outside the confines of Hakirya, the “campus” of the Israeli high command, and of South Block, which houses the Indian External Affairs and Defense ministries. What he referred to are the growing military and security ties between India and Israel. As well, he might have referenced the now rather solid links between the Hindu Right and the Israeli Right, and how their view of the conflicts that run from Jerusalem to Srinagar mirror those of the jihadis like Babar. Imran Babar and his fellow terrorists come to their critique from the standard anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism that blinds many aggrieved jihadis. Rather than make a concrete assessment of their grievances, they take refuge in as mythical a world as sketched out by the Israeli Right-Hindu Right, where Jews, Hindus and America are arrayed against Muslims.

That the terrorists attacked the Chabad-Lubavitch Center has renewed the call to see the commonalities between the victims of terrorism, whether those in a Haifa restaurant or a Mumbai train, between 9/11 and 11/26. To do so flattens out a significant differences, and reduces the violence to their acts themselves rather than to the social context that leads people to acts of terror. Mumbai provokes the Right to seek recourse to the solutions of war and surveillance, methods that might create a moment’s sense of security before the wily adversary finds a new technological means to strike back. There is no common technical solution: better sniper rifles or iris scanners, better intelligence databases or cattle prods. The weapons used to deal the fatal blow to the terrorists are also incubators of a new generation of terrorists. This is an elementary lesson, lost to those who seek the silver bullet.

Why Does Israel Come Here?

On September 10, 2008, Israel’s top army official, General Avi Mizrahi landed in New Delhi. He met with India’s leading army, navy and air force officials before leaving for a short visit to Jammu and Kashmir. Mizrahi, a long-standing officer in the Israeli Defense Force, lectured senior Indian army officers at the Akhnur Military Base, near the Indo-Pakistan border, on the theme of counterterrorism. Later, in Srinagar, Mizrahi and his Indian counterpart, Army Chief Deepak Kapoor agreed to joint counterterrorism activities, notably for Israeli commandoes to train Indian soldiers in urban combat.

The Mizrahi visit in 2008 is not extraordinary. He had been to India in February 2007. In June 2007, Major General Moshe Kaplinsky brought a team of IDF officers to Jammu and Kashmir, where they met senior Indian officials at the 16 Corps headquarters at Nagrota in the Jammu region near the India-Pakistan border. Kaplinsky’s team discussed the problem of infiltration, how militants from the Pakistani side enter the India. The 720-kilometer barbed wire fence, an echo of Israel’s wall, has not prevented the transit of militants. Kaplinsky came to push other, high-tech means, such as night-vision devices, to help interdict militants. En route to Israel, Kaplinsky’s team went to the Mumbai-based Western Naval Command.

In January 2008, to continue these contacts, the IDF’s chief, Brigadier General Pinchas Buchris came to India and met the top civilians and the top brass. They discussed the procedures to share intelligence on terrorist activity. A week after Buchris returned to Israel, India’s Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta spent time in Jerusalem, meeting IDF heads Gabi Askhenazi and Buchris. Between 2007 and early 2008, all three Indian defense chiefs visited Israel. The framework for these meetings is the 2002 agreement to form an Indo-Israeli Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, a long-standing attempt to create an entente between the armies of India and Israel, and to consolidate the immense arms trade between the two countries (India is now Israel’s largest arms buyer).

The impetus for the relations goes back to the 1990s, when the governing Congress Party began to dismantle the dirigiste Indian State and to withdraw from India’s long-standing non-aligned policy. The Congress government believed that it was time to reassess its relations with the United States, and that the best way to get to Washington was through Tel Aviv. Stronger ties with Israel might soften the reticence in Washington toward India, and lead it to loosen its bonds with Pakistan and China. India banked on Israel to play the broker with Washington. (This is the argument of my book, Namaste Sharon: Hindutva and Sharonism Under U. S. Hegemony, New Delhi: LeftWord, 2003).

In January 1992, the Indian government recognized the state of Israel. The next month, Defense Minister Sharad Pawar called for Indo-Israeli cooperation on counter-terrorism. Israel’s Director-General of Police Ya’acov Lapidot visited India for an international police convention, and returned to Israel with news that the Indian government wanted Israeli expertise on counter-terror operations. Government spokesperson Benjamin Netanyahu told India Abroad (29 February 1992) that Israel “developed expertise in dealing with terrorism at the field level and also internationally, at the political and legal level, and would be happy to share it with India.” In the Congress years, the main arena of cooperation came in arms deals, as India’s massive purchases provided stability to Israel’s previously volatile arms industry.

When the Hindu Right came to power in the late 1990s, it hastened both the economic “liberalization” policy (with a Minister for Privatization in office) and it shifted its attentions to Washington, DC and Tel Aviv: an axis of the three powers against what it called Islamic terrorism was to be the new foundation of India’s emergent foreign policy. The close relationship between Netanyahu (then Prime Minister) and L. K. Advani (the Home Minister of India, and a brigand of the Hard Right) smoothed the path to intensive collaboration. Advani admires Netanyahu’s personal history as a member of the Sayeret Matcal (special forces) unit of the IDF; Advani himself has no such on-the-ground experience. In 1995, when in Israel, Advani happily received Netanyahu’s new book, Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism.

Advani has since made it his practice to quote from the book, particularly the view that a “free society must know what they are fighting,” which is the “rising tide of Islamic terrorism.” This was all honey in Advani’s ear. He drew the central concepts of his counter-terrorism policy from his friends in the Israeli government: a wall at the border, threats of “hot pursuit” across it; demur against political negotiation, escalation of rhetoric; limits on civil liberties when it comes to suspects in terror cases. Netanyahu had purposely refused to distinguish between Iran and Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, the PLO and the Muslim Brotherhood. Advani too began to collapse the distinction between Kashmiri separatist groups and post-Afghan war terror outfits based in Pakistan, between aggrieved Indian Muslims and Pakistani proxy forces. As well, Netanyahu and Advani crafted a stage on which to enact an endless battle between Democracy and Terrorism, where the role of Democracy is played by the United States, Israel and India and where the role of Terrorism is played by Islam. It is all simple and dangerous.

During his June 2000 visit to Israel, Advani underscored his adoption of Netanyahu’s framework during a lecture at the Indian Embassy. “In recent years we have been facing a growing internal security problem,” he said. “We are concerned with cross-border terrorism launched by proxies of Pakistan. We share with Israel a common perception of terrorism as a menace, even more so when coupled with religious fundamentalism. Our mutual determination to combat terrorism is the basis for discussions with Israel, whose reputation in dealing with such problems is quite successful.” Advani invited a team of Israeli counter-terrorism experts to tour Jammu and Kashmir in September 2000. Led by Eli Katzir, an aide to Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the team conducted a feasibility study of India’s military security needs and offered suggestions for Israeli assistance. Three years later, Israel and India signed a military-arms pact that included a specific training mission. Israeli forces would train four new Special Forces battalions of the Indian Army; other battalions would learn the practice of “irregular warfare” and work with the Northern Command in Kashmir.

When the Hindu Right lost the election in 2004 to a Congress-led alliance, the pace of contacts lessened. With both Advani and Netanyahu in the shadows, the alliance lost its main champions. The Congress government recognized how toxic this alliance would be, unnecessarily inflaming an already difficult relationship with Pakistan. This was also recognized within Israel. Efraim Inbar, director of Israel’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, who is actively involved in the Indo-Israeli contacts, recognizes the political problem; “this kind of cooperation needs to be secret if it can be,” he told Newsweek. The military and arms deals between India and Israel continued, even if it was now treated as a sideshow. India remains a major importer of Israeli arms. What lingers in the shadows is the Israeli work in Kashmir. Little is officially revealed of it, even as leaks here and there hint at the extent of the contacts.

Technocrats of Terrorism

Ami Pedazhur, a political scientist from the University of Austin-Texas, joins the chorus on the New York Times op-ed page with suggestions for the Indian government after Mumbai (“From Munich to Mumbai,” December 20). Rather than see anything new in the Mumbai attacks, Pedazhur conjoins it with an unbroken history that stretches back at least to the 1972 Munich attacks. What links Munich to Mumbai is neither the identity of those who kill nor those who are killed, but the means by which the killing occurs. Analysts of terrorism, like Pedazhur, are technocrats of counter-terrorist actions. They study how terrorists operate, and so what best security and military force can constrain them. The public policy that stems from this sort of technocratic view of terrorism has one end, to restrain the terrorist with more security checkpoints, more hot pursuit.

Why does the Indian government take advice from a government whose own security services have a dismal record of preventing terror attacks and whose own armed forces have failed to create stability on its borders? Israel’s weaponry works fine. But Israel’s counter-terror expertise is questionable. Pedazhur takes pride in Israel’s counterterrorism policy. What pride there can be in a regime that maintains its safety through a ruthless military strategy is questionable. The Israeli government, regardless of the party in charge, is conspicuous not only for its treatment of the Palestinians but also, significantly, for its failure to create a secure society for its own citizens. It is easy enough to make the Palestinians the author of the troubles, but this of course ignores the intransigence of Israel’s political leadership to produce a settlement. Because it cannot make a political peace, the Israeli authorities have perfected various technological means to minimize the consequences of its failures. This is what it wishes to export to India. For India, the imports signal the surrender of its leadership to the current imbroglio. Gated countries wallow in fear and hatred.

The costs of the Tel Aviv-New Delhi-Washington axis are too much to bear, at least for India. India cannot afford to mimic Israel’s failed neighborhood policy, nor can it follow the U. S. example that seeks to solve its problems by aerial bombardment. South Asia requires a regional solution to what is without doubt a regional problem, one with its roots in the Afghan jihad of the 1980s as much as the unresolved Kashmir question (with close to a million troops in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian government runs what is tantamount to an occupation – they provide the opposite of security for the residents of the state). When the Afghan civil wars came to a unjust quiet in the early 1990s, the various foreign fighters returned to their homelands, emboldened by their self-perception of their victorious struggle: they went to Chechnya, the Philippines, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and into the Kashmir struggle. Pakistan and India are equally victims of these veterans of the jihad, and both have a vested interest in their demobilization. But more than that, there is a danger that as the U. S. amps up its war in Afghanistan and treats Pakistan with contempt, the jihadis will take out their wrath with the same kind of ferocity as they demonstrated in Mumbai. Rather than risk a failed military strategy against the jihadis, it is time for a regional conference on human security, one that includes better cooperation between the states and a program for the lives of those who are driven to the compounds of hatred through their many, many grievances.

Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT His new book is The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, New York: The New Press, 2007. He can be reached at:

Court battle against Lubavitch Menorahs in Poughkeepsie
December 17, 2008, 6:53 pm
Filed under: Real Estate, separation of church and state | Tags: ,

Judge lets menorah stay at city corner

By Larry Hertz • Poughkeepsie Journal • December 11, 2008

A large menorah that has been a part of holiday displays in downtown Poughkeepsie for the past two decades may be erected again this year at the

city’s main intersection, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The 22-foot symbol of the eight-day Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, owned by Town of Poughkeepsie Rabbi Yacov Borenstein, has been the subject of a yearlong court battle between the rabbi and city officials and four city residents.

The city and four intervenors in the lawsuit contended the use of city workers to help Borenstein erect and light the menorah during the eight days of Hanukkah constituted a violation of the principle of the separation of church and state.

The city enacted a policy last month permitting religious and nonreligious holiday displays to be placed only on a city-owned lot on Main Street, about 250 feet east of the Market Street intersection, where the menorah has been placed during holiday seasons since 1996. Under the new policy, the city would not help any group erect its displays.

But in his ruling, acting state Supreme Court Justice James D. Pagones said the rabbi could erect the menorah, with the city’s help, on the sidewalk at Main and Market streets – in part because the city traditionally uses public funds to put up wreaths and garlands on utility poles downtown and to decorate two Christmas trees on city-owned property. The judge said he considered such items to be primarily symbols of the Christian holiday of Christmas.

“If this court were to … exclude the eight-day display of a single menorah from the holiday celebration,” Pagones wrote in his 24-page decision, “the result would be that the principal effect of the holiday celebration would be to promote Christianity and inhibit Judaism without any rational basis, thereby violating the Establishment Clause (of the Constitution).”

Mayor will consult

City Mayor John Tkazyik said he planned to consult with the corporation counsel’s office to consider whether to appeal Pagones’ ruling.

“This decision leaves the city with two very unacceptable choices,” Tkazyik said. “One, to continue the practice of using city resources and funds to travel out of town to a private property and put up a privately owned religious symbol, then participate in religious ceremonies during the duration of Hanukkah; and two, to remove all lights and holiday displays on public property in the city.”

Tkazyik said the judge’s decision appeared to imply the city’s annual holiday celebration, called the Festival of Lights, “is suddenly illegal.”

“The people of this city I represent should be upset by the choice the court has left us with,” the mayor said. “This city could use a bit of cheerfulness.”

Poughkeepsie attorney Jack Economou, who represented the four city residents who intervened on the city’s behalf, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Borenstein said he was pleased with Pagones’ ruling, saying he believed it was consistent with the message of Hanukkah.

“The menorah is a symbol of religious freedom, and the concept of Hanukkah is to add more light to the world,” he said. “I hope this ruling will bring peace and unity to the community and to the world at large.”

According to Jewish scripture in the Talmud, the lighting of the menorah stems from a conflict more than 2,000 years ago between Jews and a Syrian ruler who attempted to prevent Jews from practicing their religion.

Smaller menorahs planned

Borenstein said the menorah he places in downtown Poughkeepsie every December is certainly the largest of such symbols his organization, Chabad Lubavitch, owns. But he said the group planned to erect about 40 smaller menorahs at other public and private sites, such as shopping malls, in Dutchess, Ulster and Orange counties when Hanukkah begins Dec. 21.

The dispute over the menorah began November 2007 when city officials informed Borenstein they would not help him erect it or light it, citing concerns about the separation of church and state. But Pagones issued a temporary injunction directing city workers to erect the menorah and provide a “cherry picker” truck to enable the rabbi to light it each evening of Hanukkah.

After Borenstein went to court seeking to make Pagones’ order permanent, the city and the four city residents represented by Economou then filed papers opposing Borenstein’s request.

Reach Larry Hertz at or 845-437-4824.

“Frozen Chosen” Jew close to the Lubavitch may be Alaska’s new Senator
November 1, 2008, 5:18 pm
Filed under: Ethics, politics, separation of church and state | Tags: , ,

Haaretz israel news English

In heavily GOP Alaska, ‘Frozen Chosen’ Jewish Democrat may take state’s lone seat in House

By Brett Lieberman, The Forward

a 30-degree day in Anchorage, referencing a nickname that the state’s Jews often use for themselves.

Polls show Berkowitz, a former state legislator, is leading 17-term Republican incumbent Rep. Don Young, who has been engulfed by ethics questions over whether he earmarked federal money to projects that benefited campaign contributors. The state’s oil-for-gifts scandal involving the oil industry and several top Alaskan leaders, including U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, who is on trial in Washingotn, also has benefited Berkowitz.

Young, whose closest race in the last six years was a 17-point blowout, has become one of national Democrats? top targets this election cycle. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is advertising in Alaska for the first time that anybody can recall. And Berkowitz has gone head-to-head raising money with Young, the powerful former House appropriations chairman who has steered millions of federal dollars to home state projects.

Despite their small numbers, Jews were often central players in Alaskan history before the territory became a state in 1959. Jewish fur merchants were influential in opening up commerce and helped persuade the American government to purchase the 586,000-square-mile area from Russia for $7.2 million in 1867. Jews were also involved in founding major institutions, such as the University of Alaska, according to the Alaska Jewish Historical Museum.

Although it’s been a while since a Jewish Alaskan has held a statewide position, several Jews have occupied significant public offices. Among them were Leopold David, Anchorage?s first mayor; Jay Rabonovitz, a former chief justice of the Alaskan State Supreme Court; and Ernest Gruening, a New York Jew who was appointed the first governor of Alaska when it was a territory and later was elected as one of the newly admitted state’s first two senators.

Like many Alaskans, Berkowitz came from somewhere else. “My story is not that different from a lot of people up here,” he told the Forward in a phone interview. “This is the way I think America should be. If you work hard, you can achieve whatever you want to achieve.”

The Harvard University graduate who earned a master?s degree at Cambridge University and a law degree from Hastings College, first arrived in Alaska to clerk for a judge in 1990. He now has several businesses, including a renewable energy start-up.

He served 10 years in the state legislature, including eight as state House minority leader, where he proposed some of the earliest measures to invest in renewable and alternative energy. When first elected, he was the lone Jewish legislator. Later, when Jewish membership peaked at around six members, they formed what they jokingly referred to as the “yamulcaucus.” But besides joking about their common heritage, the Jewish lawmakers never found enough reason to meet formally.

Berkowitz is not affiliated with any of the state’s handful of synagogues and doesn’t consider himself very religious. Yet he’s close with Rabbi Yossi Greenberg of the Lubavitch Jewish Center in Anchorage and has clearly been influenced by Jewish traditions: he had a bar mitzvah, was married under a chuppah, and held a brit milah for his son, Noah. (He also has a daughter named Hannah.) “By heritage, it’s very much who I am,” he said.

He met his wife, Mara Kimmel, who is Jewish, in Alaska. “Everybody was always trying to set me up,” he said, noting that he and his wife actually met on their own.

“The heritage is important in terms of the quest for social justice and equal opportunity for all,” Berkowitz said. “You watch in this country how native people have been oppressed and discriminated against. That?s a story that resonates with me.”

If Berkowitz is elected, Greenberg predicts, “he would be a star, like Sarah Palin is a star, he will be a star in Congress.”

The comparison to Palin, who has enjoyed good relations with the state’s Jewish community, including Berkowitz, is perhaps ironic. If the ethics cloud over Young, Stevens and the state’s political establishment created the opportunity for Berkowitz to be competitive in the election, it was Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s selection of Palin that may threaten Berkowitz’s chances the most. She has helped fire up a Republican base demoralized by the scandals and a large Election Day turnout is expected to benefit Young.

Berkowitz and other Democrats insist the state is becoming ?purple,? but statistics show that the 75,000 registered Democrats remain a minority among the 490,000 registered voters. There are more than 125,000 registered Republicans, and many of the remaining voters lean Republican.

Berkowitz’s faith has not been an issue in a campaign dominated by ethics, energy, health care, crime and Young’s demeanor, but some attacks have been interpreted as thinly veiled bigotry – including allegations that he was a rich Jew from California.

Berkowitz says his religion may be an issue for some voters, but he’s got bigger problems. “I suspect that the people who don’t like me because I’m Jewish don’t like me more because I?m a Democrat,” he said.

More Jewish World news and features

Sarah Palin and her relationship to the Lubavitch
October 26, 2008, 4:38 pm
Filed under: Ethics, separation of church and state | Tags: ,

“In fact, in recent years while governor of Alaska,Sarah Palin, the proud hockey mom even met with rabbis from the Chabad Lubavitch sect of Hasidic Orthodox Judaism. The Lubavitchers are a racist, fanatically anti-Gentile organization which declares non-Jews not to even be human beings at all, but refuse and animals. Yet there is not a peep from the Jew Tube about this radical Jewish sect which courts presidents and prime ministers. Governor Palin is surely bright enough to know that she must bend to the will of Big Jewry or be obliterated by its beast-like machine of defamation and slander. And so she does, smiling her adorably cute smile and winking at the Goyim knowingly as she embraces the Jewish tribalists who loathe every value she holds dear and who especially hate every white person who draws breath. We can be sure that if elected, Palin will continue to carry out the savage aims of Jewish supremacism or be immediately damned by the media.”

Do any other Democrats have a problem with this? The first in line would probably be the Lubavitch!
July 13, 2008, 10:48 pm
Filed under: separation of church and state, unfaithful | Tags: ,

Obama Urges More Aid to Faith-Based Groups

By JOSH GERSTEIN, Staff Reporter of the Sun | July 2, 2008

new Dialog.Box(‘feedback’);
new Dialog.Box(‘article_email’);
Senator Obama is calling for an expansion of one of President Bush‘s signature domestic initiatives: a hotly debated program to deliver more federal aid through so-called faith-based groups affiliated with churches and other religious institutions.

Senator Obama talks to the Reverend Bill Briggs yesterday as he tours the East Community Ministry in Zanesville.

“While these groups are often made up of folks who’ve come together around a common faith, they’re usually working to help people of all faiths or of no faith at all and they’re particularly well-placed to offer help,” Mr. Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery at an appearance yesterday in Zanesville, Ohio. “I believe that change comes not from the top down, but from the bottom up, and few are closer to the people than our churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques.”

Mr. Obama’s embrace of the faith-based program was seen by many analysts as part of a concerted shift to the political center by the presumptive Democratic nominee, though he denied yesterday that any such shift was under way. He said the idea to solicit more involvement by religious groups had roots in the work of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, as well as Mr. Bush.

A former head of Mr. Bush’s faith-based initiative, John DiIulio Jr., lavished praise on Mr. Obama’s proposal. “Many good community-serving initiatives can be built, expanded, or sustained on the common ground that Senator Obama has staked out for us here,” Mr. DiIulio said.

Early reports from the Associated Press and elsewhere about Mr. Obama’s plan triggered a wave of concern in some quarters that he was planning to permit groups to fire and hire on the basis of religion while operating government-funded programs.

“There was a bit of panic around here when the first reports came in,” a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Robert Boston, said. However, the panic subsided as it became clear Mr. Obama did not intend to allow religious-based discrimination with taxpayer money. “It’s not full-blown like we first thought,” Mr. Boston said.

During a news conference following his speech yesterday, Mr. Obama was asked to clarify his stance. “If a church or a synagogue wants to hire using its own money for its own membership, they can obviously hire people of their own faith. That makes perfect sense. If they are getting federal money to run programs that are providing services to the public, then both in the provision of those services and in the hiring they have to abide by” anti-discrimination laws, he said.

Asked about hiring gays in such programs, Mr. Obama noted there is no federal law against sexual-orientation discrimination, but he said religious groups would have to abide by state laws that bar the practice.

In a written statement yesterday afternoon, the executive director of Americans United, the Reverend Barry Lynn, described Mr. Obama’s faith-based foray as misguided. “I am disappointed,” he said. “This initiative has been a failure on all counts, and it ought to be shut down, not expanded.”

However, the church-state separation activist welcomed the presumptive Democratic nominee’s talk about enforcing the anti-discrimination rules. “It is imperative that public funds not pay for proselytizing or subsidize discrimination in hiring,” Rev. Lynn said. “Obama has promised that he will not support publicly funded proselytism or discrimination in hiring, and that’s an important commitment.”

Mission of this blog
January 1, 2008, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Ethics, separation of church and state, Uncategorized

Lubavitch Chabads are multiplying all over this nation at a huge rate. I have been involved in litigation against one and through my research I have found that my situation was happening in other communities but no one has connected these different cases to a movement by this group. Currently there are 3000 Chabads in the U.S. and they plan in the next 5 years to have 8000. The Lubavitch came in the 50’s with about 2000 followers and are currently about 200,000.

This sect takes residential real estate and uses it for a place to do their business. They take all of this real estate off the tax roles and live rent-free and tax free just by holding services in their living rooms. They avoid taxes with their 501C status while at the same time use the services of the fire, police and all other infrastructure services which their tax paying neighbors are paying for in residential neighborhoods….. which are the only neighborhoods that they target.

The Lubavitch are very quietly anti Israel as they feel it is much too secular and they believe that their Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson who died in 1994 will return soon as their messiah. The established Jewish American community does not recognize the Lubavitch. Most of the Rabbis are not licensed or have not even graduated from any recognized universities. They also use cash, bartering and foreign money to augment there lifestyles. They are amassing enormous amounts of residential real estate nationally without paying any taxes.

There is a” bait and switch “mentality to this group. Tell the community that you are buying a house for residential use and then turn it in to a house of worship. Their entitlement is very obvious when you try to fight them. Currently, there are several court cases about this issue, and many other cases that towns are fighting these groups on zoning violations in their own local municipals. They are operating abusive scams in the name of RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act) and other religious accommodation laws.

This particular group will always build and operate first without compliance or permits in violation of zoning and then scream religious persecution when anyone attempts to get them to comply.

This is not only about who pays tax. It is about landowners and tenants rights and the ability of this sect to suppress those rights and amass tax free donations and real estate while forcing local businesses to comply with their rules and regulations all via intimidation tactics. This is a national problem that must be addressed.

But no one media organization has connected all these different situations to a grand movement by the Lubavitch. In the following pages I have copied just a few of the many newspaper, magazine and web articles about this subject.

I do believe that I am one of the few people to win against the Lubavitch. I had excellent lawyers, Judges that listened and wrote case law decisions and strong

New York City rent laws.

I will try to inform you each week of other cases that these chabads have in cities throughout the U.S. with local real estate authorities and citizens of these communities.