Friday, March 4, 2011

"I Was Blind feat. Binyamin": My Newest Song on Youtube

Interview With Joel Pollack

A few months ago, I interviewed Joel Pollack, a staunch defender of the State of Israel and Jewish interests living in Chicago. The following is the contents of my interview...

As the 2011 Congressional race is heating up, Joel Pollak, a religious Jewish candidate, finds himself envisioning what it would be like to serve the interests of his community while standing up for the values he holds dear. I recently had an opportunity to interview Joel. I contacted his representative, Shalom Klein who passed on my queries to Joel.

I asked some rather provocative question. Joel’s replies were, in some ways, what I expected them to be. He’s a blend of a rookie politician with some very insightful opinions and a man with high ethical standards who is not afraid to stand up for people and issues that hit close to home.
Here’s what Joel had to say:

1. Please tell us a little about your background: Who were your mentors growing up? Which events had the most profound influence on your career? How did you decide to get involved in politics?

My most important mentor was my father, who is a doctor of great ability and integrity. His career had a great influence on mine, though I chose not to study medicine. He stood up to corruption in the organ allocation system at his hospital, and fought and won a seven-year battle. I learned from him how tough it is to fight for what you believe in--and also how important. I decided to get involved in politics because of the urgency of the issues we are facing today--especially the economic issues. We are making bad decisions that will have a profoundly negative effect on our future prosperity and freedom--and the freedom of the world--if we don't set things right.

2. What is your political agenda? What would you do to create more jobs in the district? How would you handle the current health care crisis? How would you address the Iranian threat? What would you do about illegal immigrants?

The most important priority is to create jobs. We can do that by: 1. passing an investment tax credit, which will give businesses 10% back of everything they invest in new capital; 2. cutting corporate and capital gains taxes, which are among the highest in the world; 3. cutting wasteful federal spending, which is undermining confidence in our financial future; 4. creating a "jobs budget" for each new regulatory law passed by Congress, so legislators must vote knowing how many jobs it will create or destroy; and 5. turning our district into an innovation corridor by encouraging investment in high-tech industry and infrastructure.

On health care, I believe that we must scrap the bill that passed in March and start over. The bill will increase costs, cut benefits for seniors, and force people out of their current insurance plans--without fully covering those with pre-existing conditions. We need to start with simple reforms: 1. allowing people to buy insurance across state lines; 2. tort reform to lower the cost of defensive medicine; 3. expanded Medical Savings Accounts, and tax credits for insurance, so people can control their own policies and take their policies with them when they change jobs; and 4. create private-public partnerships to cover those with pre-existing conditions in high-risk pools.

We must stand up to Iran and make sure there is a military option on the table and ready to be used if negotiations and sanctions do not work. We have to make the alternative to negotiation worse than negotiation, or else Iran will not concede anything. We also need to encourage the movement for human rights and democracy in Iran, both to pressure the regime and to foster the kind of political change that could make this confrontation a distant memory.

On immigration: we need to secure the border first, and then pass immigration reform that streamlines the process of legal immigration, particularly for skilled immigrants. Those already here illegally, who have not committed additional offenses, should be allowed to either join a guest worker program that would deny the possibility of permanent residency and cut off certain benefits, or else apply for permanent residency but go through the entire process anew at the "back of the line" behind legal immigrants.

3. Please grade the current administration on a scale of 1-10 (1 being worst). Please give your reasoning for this.

I'd give it a 3, which in my view is a failing grade. The administration should get some credit for reinforcing our troops in Afghanistan and for stabilizing the stock market somewhat through the stress tests and easing of mark-to-market rules in 2009. Overall, however, its foreign and economic policies have been very bad and are leading America in a direction that is even worse.

5. Should American continue its involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Yes, as long as Iran remains a threat and Pakistan is in danger of being overrun by radical forces. We have to do more to build stronger alliances with countries that share our values and interests in the region--especially Israel and India.

4. If elected to Congress, would you actively pursue the release of Jonathan Pollard? Rubashkin? Why or why not?

Pollard - I would advocate for his release, because his sentence was excessive. Rubashkin - I would advocate for a shorter sentence, because though he will have to serve time, the sentence seems excessive. There is a limit to what Congress can and ought to do about these matters, but I will add my voice to those who are speaking out.

5. How are you any different from people who've been running the State of Illinois in the recent past? Why should people vote for you?

I'm different because I have a fundamentally different philosophy. I believe that a representative should represent the people in Washington, not Washington to the people. People should vote for me because I stand for the right ideas at the right time, and because I listen to my district first.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Interview with Gil: 2nd Old Article Revisited

I met Gil about a year into my studies at Tel-Aviv. He was a loyal Likudnik. Sharon was Prime Minister. This was a man Gil had looked up to for many years. I'd participated in mass demonstrations calling on Sharon to strengthen his resolve to continue fighting terrorism and not give in to the Palestinians' demands. He was already beginning to falter but many like Gil continued believing Sharon could do no wrong. 

It's been some years since then. I gave up on Sharon's "experiment" a lot later than others. I, too, looked up to this man growing up. I interviewed Gil after the disengagement from Gush Katif. Olmert was leading the country. Here is the interview:

It was my first year at Tel-Aviv University. I had by now breathed the stale, oppressive breath of campus politics: empty slogans calling for peace and friendship, rallies praising young Israelis refusing to serve in the West Bank and Gaza for fear of hurting Palestinians.

Me: Please tell me some details about yourself. Where did you serve in the army? What kind of activity were you involved in during your university tenure? What is your political background?

Gil: I served in for 3 years, just like any Israeli draftee. I was assigned to field intelligence, where my job was to operate detection equipment that alerted the army of cross-border infiltrations. At times I was called on to deter the infiltrators.

In the university I studied physics. Now I am completing a degree in Management of Logistics. I used to be an activist in a student cell associated with the Likud. Though I hoped for greater involvement within the party, I soon discovered how childish and short-sighted my ambitions were.

During my involvement with the Likud, I got a heart-wrenching glimpse of the inner workings of the party.  My experience was a mixture of shame and desperation. I realized how limited my contribution was and how little impact the ideals I was brought up with had on the party. I felt helpless.

I’ve since quit working with the Likud, and spend more time and energy on studies and holding a job. I have not forgotten my dreams or lost any of the zeal for the cause I believe in. But I’ve postponed my activity until a better opportunity presents itself. I hope this time comes with a new generation of Likud leadership. 

I am a member of a long line of Ze’ev Zhabotinsky followers. My late grandfather even heard one of Zhabotinsky's legendary speeches in Romania.

I believe the Jewish people are a nation equal to other nations in rights and responsibilities. I was brought up to believe in human rights, and that Zionism’s cause is to pursue and ensure human rights for the Jewish people. Among these rights are self determination, sovereignty and the right to self defense.

These rights are natural for us, Jews, as a nation. The bitter lesson of the Holocaust taught us that these natural rights must be achieved and secured or else we, Jews, perish.

The current political drifts in Israel seem to contradict much of what I believe in. I feel Zionism is currently very low on the priority list of most Israelis. We take so many things for granted while mistaking unrealistic hopes for facts. Lack of knowledge causes vacuums in the souls of modern Israelis. They are filled with twisted morality and foreign values.

The result is a feeling of confusion and helplessness with regards to all major issues in our lives, especially those demanding moral clarity and swift determination. I hope that this is just a phase we are going through. The high ideals of Zionism are coming down from their pedestal and settling down amidst the dust.

Zionism must become a natural, healthy attitude for the masses of Israelis, as nationalism should amongst any other nation that wishes to live safely. Yet, I cannot avoid the ominous feeling that something has gone terribly wrong. Many Jews have forgotten their own rights or even their natural motivation for self preservation. Sometimes I wonder whether we, Jews, wish to exist at all.

Me: What are your opinions concerning the recent actions of the Olmert government?

Gil: All recent events are symptoms of the crisis which lies at the root of all this. They are the result of lost values, ignorance, and the downgrading of Zionism’s legitimacy. We have been left with few role models, after postmodernist "unbiased" research has systematically murdered their character, or placed their motives and actions completely out of context. 

It seems that our society and the government which leads it have “unlearned” all the crises and dangers which propelled so many Jews to flee Europe. Again we throw the responsibility for our defense on others, blaming our inaction on the strategic need to maintain healthy relations with the U.S.  Suddenly, our very right to exist is taken for granted by our society. Suddenly, we blame ourselves for things we are not responsible for and deny ourselves rights we deserve.

Me: What mistakes has the Israeli government made since the elections?

Gil: In the war against terrorism, Olmert's government showed forbearance where determined action was demanded. This signals weakness and results in casualties amongst Jewish civilians. The public’s security is the first responsibility of any government. During the many years of the escalation of terrorism against our civilians, our government has failed to provide either security or   plan for victory. Who needs leaders who can't do their job?

Though security is our priority, there is still much to do in liberalizing the economy, improving government supervision of the great monopolies, and expanding and modernizing infrastructure. The education system in Israel has been deteriorating because of a host of problems. The dreaded red tape is growing and prohibiting development while providing the perfect environment for corruption. Israeli civilians must fear rampaging crime rates alongside with terrorism.

Bad management and too little political backing shrank the police’s ability to combat crime effectively. The legal system functions as an isolated kingdom of its own, resisting any input or attempt towards reform. All this results in bottleneck, an overburdened system, lengthy procedures, waiting lists and rather strange, tragic-comic sentencing in courts.

Olmert's government has a lot on its hands. It's too early, though, to consider whether a real solution is on the way. So far I don't see one coming, and I doubt the ability of the government to deliver.

Me: What, in your opinion, should the government do to stop Palestinian terrorism?

Gil: I have always believed that the "Iron Wall" doctrine is our best path towards real peace. In a nutshell, it means that only the fear of greater violence may prevent current violence. As long as the enemy believes in violence as the best instrument to obtain their goals there will be either war or we will concede our rights, all the natural human rights Zionism tried ensuring in the first place.

While it is a paradox, war can bring peace. The enemy can be taught the errors of his tactics; forced to accept peace the moment he realizes the horrors of war; that violence against us will only serve to draw him away from his goals.

Germany and Japan were turned into pacifist societies only after they were both forced to reject war. They were defeated, humiliated and driven to poverty by the superior powers of the allied nations. Their defeat was burnt into their minds so hard it made them fear and hate militarization.

The spread of Islamist fundamentalism forces me to consider the possibility, in which there are no specific goals for the terrorist's violence. It is more apparent that in the terrorists’ skewed interpretation of Jihad, war and violence are their only goals. They fight and die for the sake of death. Causing grief and despair is not only the means but the ends. All are results of freak interpretations of Jihad’s religious implications.

Me: Describe your thoughts concerning the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.

Gil: The kidnapping of an Israeli soldier from our border is most troubling.
I dare say “kidnapped” and not “taken prisoner”, because his kidnappers were terrorists. Fighters who are dressed as civilians and hide among civilians, who ignore all articles of the Geneva Convention regarding the rules of engagement and handling of prisoners, are terrorists.

The kidnappers have denied the prisoner any rights. He cannot relate what his conditions are. We don't even know if Gilad is dead or alive. If he's alive, he has the rights to medical attention, food, the right to send letters or meet the Red Cross. All his rights are being denied.

Some people consider attacking soldiers "legitimate". Whatever one may label it, attacking soldiers is a cause for war. Imagine a Mexican militia attacking American soldiers along the border. What do you think the reaction of the American government and its armed forces would be?

The kidnapping is troubling for more reasons as well: One would have thought the Arabs had satisfied their territorial demands in the region, but the kidnapping proved us wrong. A majority of Israelis always trusted the fences and barriers to provide them with security. The kidnapping proved them wrong. Israelis have trusted their government and army to take care of its citizens’ safety. In response for constant Kassam bombarding of Sderot and the Negev, we would expect the army to launch a punishing blow to deter our enemies from carrying out future attacks. We were proved wrong again.

The kidnapping of Gilad and the shelling of Sderot may be viewed as tests for Israelis’ instinct of self defense. Our reaction and subsequent lack of such instinct may be a serious symptom of a much more sinister condition. Are we, Israeli Jews, so disheartened we have lost our sense of self preservation? Is our survival conditional on others’ affirmation?

Me: What is your opinion concerning Jonathan Pollard's imprisonment in the U.S.?

Gil: Jonathan Pollard’s tragedy is a stain on Israel's government, on our peoples’ solidarity with, and compassion toward those who serve it. How can we ever ask somebody to spy or work for us, when we can't offer them real backing?
I fear it seems as if Israel has abandoned Pollard. There is not enough compassion for him in Israel's government.

From what I've been reading, Pollard is held in appalling conditions. Are they necessary? Can't Israel do something to ease his jail time, if not to release him altogether?

Spying on friendly countries does look ugly, but in reality, this is life. Real friends like Israel and the U.S. do not withhold critical information from one anther. Had Israel the need to spy on the U.S, it could only mean Israel and the U.S. are not the good friends we would like to think they were.

Perhaps Israel should complain more of American submarines or spy planes flying into our territory. Maybe American spies have been caught in Israel as well, but the stories have been censored or dumped by the press. I'd love to see Pollard liberated and back in Israel.

Me: Do you see the current government as a "Jewish government"? Why or why not?

Gil: A Jewish government is a government motivated by Jewish vision, one that holds Zionist values and ideals. Zionism is designed to advance the natural rights of the Jewish people, our right for security and self determination, and sovereignty over our land.

Olmert's government seems less and less equal to its tasks. It is bent on further concessions; on putting more efforts into ignoring our security issues and avoiding solving them.

A Jewish government is a government which adopts Jewish morality and justice. Jewish justice may be defined by the three elements: equality, reciprocity, and self responsibility.

Instead, Israel’s government and the society led by it seem to adopt foreign ideas of morality, which include "turning the other cheek", forgiveness at all costs and "innocence or irresponsibility" as definitions for moral superiority. Lacking the sincerity needed to lead a real life with such values, the public is left unprotected, confused, and helpless.    

In Memory of Binyamin Kahane: An Old Article Revisited

I wrote this article while living in Israel. I wanted to see how much I've changed since then so I edited it for future use. The revised parts are in orange, the color of Gush Katif and the religious Zionist movement.

Rav Meir Kahane may not have been a prophet but he was definitely not a criminal, as sources in the leftist media have continued to portray him. At the outset of his career, the Rabbi was known for his adamant support of Soviet Jewry, his unequivocal calls for Jewish self-determination and Jewish pride.

The Rabbi was known for his books and lectures against assimilation, his position on Halacha with regards to Israeli politics and on the grave implications of what has come to be known as “Disengagement”, his calls for a transfer of the Israeli Arabs, as well as his reminders that the Holocaust was not just a “thing of the past”; that Jews worldwide would be at the whim of their Gentile neighbors if they didn’t return to Israel. He called on American Jews especially to heed his call for Aliya.

Rabbi Kahane’s worst trait was his followers, whom he could never hold in check. Many of these have not followed the Rabbi’s teachings, turning to violence as a result of having had the government turn its back on them.

The Rabbi was no rogue. Unlike of Arab parties calling on their constituency to murder Jews, Kahane’s party, “Kach”, which called on Israel’s government to take stronger measures to prevent and repel Arab terror, and ultimately implement the transfer of all “Palestinians” to neighboring Arab countries never incited Jews to murder Arabs or fellow Jews. Unfortunately, Kach was expelled from the Knesset in 1984 by the Shamir/Peres government.

Kahane was assassinated in N.Y. in 1989 by El-Sayid Nosair a well-known Palestinian terrorist. The assassination was organized by the blind Sheik Rachman who would end up serving a life sentence for planning to blow up the twin towers. His plot had been funded by Osama Bin-Laden.

He was successfully defended by none other then prominent N.Y. attorney William Kunstler, a self-loathing Jew. El-Sayid was convicted for the manslaughter of a N.Y. police officer.  He was cleared of charges of having murdered the man who had fought so bravely for the freedom of Soviet Jews when others were afraid to insult the Soviets for their atrocities in Afghanistan, a man who single-handedly founded the JDL, a Rabbi who had withstood the onslaught of the self-righteous Israeli media which tried its very utmost to vilify the him for not being the politically-correct, self-apologist it had become.

We immigrated to America the year of Rabbi Kahane’s death. At the time I had no notion of my true identity. My father had been a refusnik who had broken the law by studying Hebrew. My parents were fired from work and needed to look for employment elsewhere as soon as light was shed on news of their wanting to “betray Mother Russia” by fleeing to the West.

How I found out who I really was, how I attended a Jewish day-school, how I joined, then quit Kach, how I made Aliya is irrelevant. What’s important is that Rabbi Kahane’s ideas played a key role in my life. For this I will forever be grateful and keep the memory of the Rabbi sacred in my heart no matter what anyone thinks or says about him.

When I was just out of high school and looking for direction in life, I found the Torah lectures and teachings of Meir Kahane’s son, Binyamin Ze’ev Kahane. But I never got an opportunity to meet the young rebel. Binyamin was murdered by an Arab terrorist seven months before I made Aliya.

Arutz-7’s Hana Levi Julian reported yesterday that “Khaled Shawish,  a senior commander in the Al-Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades terrorist organization, sponsored by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, was cornered in his car by Israeli forces in Ramallah.”

“The top terrorist (had) spent the past few years hiding out in Chairman Abbas’ headquarters in the Muqata compound, where former PLO chairman Yasser Arafat lived out his last years trapped by the IDF…Binyamin-Ze'ev Kahane, the son of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, and his wife Talia were shot to death and their five daughters seriously wounded in a December 2000 terror attack in which Shawish played a key role.”

I could not help but wince reading this news. The terrorist guilty of having murdered Binyamin will undoubtedly be set free at some point in a prisoner exchange. Millions of people around the world are still convinced that Kahane was a racist militant who wanted nothing less than to kill all the Arabs. Kach remains banned in both Israel and the U.S. and on the American terrorist list. Kach activists these days remain unwanted elements of our society because of unfair media portrayal.

The Kach movement is stagnant. Its funds have run out, and the party is nowhere near the status it had ascended to in the early 80’s. Thousands of Jews around the world support Kach and its principles, but this may not be enough. We need legitimacy. We need the world to accept us and to know that the Rabbi was right.

Perhaps if someone murders Shawish, as Baruch Marzel has suggested, vengeance may be had. A family almost completely wiped out may get at long last get its due. But the name of Meir Kahane remains politically-incorrect, banned, misapplied by the media and the Left.  This will not change until fundamental change is brought to Kach circles. The Rabbi’s followers must hearken to the Torah.

We are the fruits of the Rabbi’s labors. We must return to Israel and make sure his ideas are brought to fruition. The Arabs should be brought to their knees as they were following the Six-Day War. We should not have to fear for our lives in our historical homeland. Arabs should not be represented in the Knesset, nor should they be allowed to run for election. They should not have voting rights. In fact, Kahane was absolutely right! Transfer is the only solution if the Jewish people are to ever live “a free nation in our land!”

But if Kach and Kahane Chai are to regain their former legitimacy, the followers of Meir and Binyamin Kahane (H”YD) must finally begin heeding the Rabbis words. The Rabbi preached transferring the Arabs-not murdering them. He preached rejecting and marginalizing left wing Jews-not assassinating them.  

Some former Kach activists have been misrepresenting the very ideas they preach. We must shy away from instigating conflict with Arab and left wing “peace” activists. The only purpose such conflict serves is to unwittingly strengthen their will to continue fighting us. This fight is carried out on their terms. We mustn’t be misled into thinking that hurting a “pro-peace” activist here and there will serve the religious-Zionist cause.

Not having known Binyamin, I still miss him. I miss his leadership skills and his ability to set a positive example for so many of us living in the Diaspora. I hope to return to Israel and help unify the Jewish people around the Rabbi’s ideas. Like Zhabotinsky and Begin, he preached Jewish self-determination and self-defense. We must not lose sight of these ideals because in the end, they will overcome the hatred and loathing of those who seek out destruction, whether they be Arab or Jewish and ultimately, we must control our passions because sometimes, our actions contradict the very foundation of what we've been struggling to accomplish since time immemorial.

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