Thursday, January 12, 2006

A7news: Olmert's First Major Decision: Jerusalem Arabs to Vote in PA Election?

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Decision by Tomorrow: Jerusalem Arabs to Vote in PA Election?
Sharon's aide Dov Weisglass consults today with security chiefs on whether Jerusalem Arabs will vote in upcoming PA elections. Abu Mazen threatens to cancel elections over the issue.
Full Story Below

 1. Decision by Tomorrow: Jerusalem Arabs to Vote in PA Election?
 2. Mofaz Pre-empts, Says Israel Will Allow Jerusalem Arabs to Vote
 3. Sharon´s Condition Improves Slightly
 4. Arab MK: Sharon “a Criminal,” “a Butcher,” “Swimming in Blood”
 5. Tale of Two Threatened Neighborhoods
 6. Fast of Asarah B'Tevet
 7. Sea of Galilee Rising Slowly
 8. Sanhedrin Recognizes Council to Teach Humanity ´Laws of Noah´
 9. On A7radio: The Future - Can We Make it the Utopia We Want?

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Editor: Hillel Fendel
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
10 Tevet 5766
Beit Orot


1. Decision by Tomorrow: Jerusalem Arabs to Vote in PA Election?
By Hillel Fendel

Sharon's aide Dov Weisglass consults today with security chiefs on whether Jerusalem Arabs will vote in upcoming PA elections. Abu Mazen threatens to cancel elections over the issue.

The final decision will be made by Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the first major one he will make since assuming the authorities of the ill Ariel Sharon.

The Palestinian Authority is scheduled to hold an election for its legislature on Jan. 25. The PA has held such an election only once before, ten years ago.

Although Jerusalem is sovereign Israeli territory, a provision in the 1995 Oslo Interim Agreement requires Israel to enable at least some PA Arabs to vote in eastern Jerusalem post offices, in an arrangement similar to that used for absentee voters. However, the agreement also forbids terrorist groups from taking part in the elections.

There is little that Israel can do to enforce the ban against Hamas in most areas of the Palestinian Authority, except for threatening, as it has done, not to help facilitate the election. In Jerusalem, however, the stakes are higher, as Israel does not want to allow Hamas a foothold its capital city.

On the other hand, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has threatened to call off the election if Jerusalem Arabs are not permitted to vote. Abu Mazen is not anxious to hold the election in the first place, based on public opinion polls showing that Hamas will do very well against him. Israel does not want to be blamed for the canceling of the elections.

Recommendations for a final decision are being formulated today, and will be submitted to Acting PM Olmert today or tomorrow.

Among those taking part in the consultations, which are being held in Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz's office, are top representatives of the IDF, Foreign Ministry, General Security Service, Public Security Ministry - and Dov Weisglass. Weisglass, who has discussed the issue with American officials, is actively associated with his law firm Weissglass-Almagor that until recently was the law firm of record representing the Jericho Casino and other Palestinian Authority interests, including a group of PA figures who wish to build a casino in southern Gaza. The new casino is to be owned, reported investigative journalist David Bedein, by those who own the Jericho Casino: the PA, an Austrian casino company, the Austrian Bank BAWAG and Martin Schlaff - all of them clients of Weissglass' office.

In the previous PA election, only some 1,000 Jerusalem Arabs voted in eastern Jerusalem post offices, while tens of thousands of others preferred to vote elsewhere or not at all.

Israel yesterday allowed some PA electioneering in Jerusalem, but said that Hamas and other terrorist groups would not be permitted to campaign. Fatah, however, will be allowed to campaign, even though it is armed and has perpetrated many terror attacks against Israel. This is because, as Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra's spokesman Yehuda Maman explained to IMRA, Fatah is not considered "radical."
Ezra himself later said that Fatah accepts the Road Map plan, which Hamas does not.

The decision to allow the campaigning was made in the Prime Minister's Bureau. That office confirmed today that it had received Arutz-7's queries of yesterday regarding the legality of such a decision, given the Oslo ban on PA political activity in Jerusalem, saying that it will contact Arutz-7 when a response is ready.

At a press conference in Gaza last night (Monday), Abu Mazen said that he had received "promises from the United States that the elections would be held in Jerusalem as they were in 1996... I am not ceding, and will not cede, Jerusalem and its residents' rights to take part in the election." He has reportedly threatened to call off elections altogether or, alternatively, to quit if Hamas wins the election.

Gaza commentators quoted on the Hebrew NFC news site said, "The anarchy in the areas is liable to lead to the collapse of Fatah." In light of this, a U.S. administration official who was asked about the promises Abu Mazen said he received from the U.S. about Jerusalem elections, told Ynet, "Abu Mazen should concentrate on making sure the elections are held altogether, and not just in Jerusalem."

A more official response came from U.S. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack, who would not comment on whether assurances were given, saying only, "This is a matter for the Israelis and Palestinians to decide."

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2. Mofaz Pre-empts, Says Israel Will Allow Jerusalem Arabs to Vote
By Hillel Fendel

Defense Minister Mofaz says PA elections will be held in Jerusalem in the same framework as ten years ago. Though final decision has not yet been made, gov't is being attacked for splitting capital.

Mofaz made the remarks as he toured the area in which the partition wall is being built around Jerusalem.

The decision is not final, however, and will be made by Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today or tomorrow.

Labor Party leader and Prime Ministerial candidate Amir Peretz said he's pleased with the apparent decision to allow Jerusalem Arabs to vote in the PA election, which, he says, will prevent them from voting for the Knesset in the future.

MK Ophir Pines (Labor) said, "The government made every possible mistake on its way to making the right decision. It harmed Israel's international standing and strengthened Hamas and the extremists in the Palestinian Authority."

Repeating that which was long said about Yasser Arafat, Pines said, "The government should have helped Abu Mazen and the moderate elements in the PA leadership hold the elections, and thus stabilize their leadership as opposed to Hamas."

Former Minister Natan Sharansky, running for a spot on the Likud list of Knesset candidates, said, "It is very sad; we're apparently not willing or able to stand on anything..."

Asked about the point raised by Peretz, Sharansky said, "Yes, annexing and keeping our holy city of Jerusalem means we will have to accept 150,000 or so Arabs who are living in eastern Jerusalem as citizens - if they agree to be loyal citizens of the state." Others have noted that the Arabs of Jerusalem are no different than the Arabs of the Galilee and Negev, and that the Arabs of Jerusalem already receive National Insurance and other Israeli benefits.

The National Union response to the apparent decision:
"There is no limit to the cynicism and hypocrisy of the left wing, led by the Kadima Party. On the one hand, they embrace Jerusalem, talking about its historic importance and promise to keep it whole - and on the other hand, they allow Arabs of the eastern part to take part in Palestinian Authority elections. We will fight these defeatist trends and make sure that Jerusalem will not be torn away from the Nation of Israel."

MK Sha'ul Yahalom (National Religious Party) said, "The government is giving ammunition to those who want to divide Jerusalem."

Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that if Mofaz is correct in predicting Olmert's decision, it represents a cave-in to U.S. pressure, as well as to threats that Israel would be blamed for blocking the elections.

"The U.S. has exerted pressure to allow the Arabs to vote in post offices, as occurred in 1996," Huberman said. "The idea was that it would be like absentee ballots, with residents mailing the ballot to other polling places. In actuality, however, it was much more like a genuine polling station; election officials were present, and the ballots were not mailed, but were rather placed in a box that looked exactly like a ballot box. So in the end, we had - and will apparently have again - voting for the Palestinian Authority legislature, including for Hamas candidates, in Israel's own capital... This is another major concession on the part of Israel, one of many of late."

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3. Sharon´s Condition Improves Slightly
By Hillel Fendel

Reports from Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital in Jerusalem are that the patient moved his left leg slightly for the first time, moved his right limbs slightly more vigorously than yesterday, and has begun to breathe more independently. He is still connected to a respirator, however.

Aides close to Sharon said that doctors had told them they see on the monitors his brain-wave responses to noise and speech around him.
The condition of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon continues to be critical/stable - but slight signs of increasing improvement continued to be registered.

Yesterday, Hadassah Director-General Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef and Neurosurgery Department Head Prof. Felix Umansky reported that they had begun decreasing the coma-inducing medicines Sharon had been receiving. Soon afterwards, the Prime Minister moved his right leg and hand in response to pain stimuli. He also began to breathe on his own.

Another official briefing from the hospital staff is set for 17:05 this afternoon (Tuesday).

The doctors treating Sharon plan to continue to reduce the medicines until he totally awakens from his induced coma. They do not expect to know the precise extent of damage to Sharon's brain for an unspecified period.

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4. Arab MK: Sharon “a Criminal,” “a Butcher,” “Swimming in Blood”
By Scott Shiloh

As Prime Minister Ariel Sharon lies incapacitated with a massive stroke, an Arab Member of Israel's Knesset, Abed Al-Malik Dahamshe, gives his opinion of Sharon to Islam Online.

MK Abed Al-Malik Dahamshe (United Arab List) has been representing Israel’s Arab citizens democratically in the Knesset for nine years.

In a recent question-and-answer session for the Internet portal Islam Online, Dahamshe was asked to comment on how he saw developments in the Middle East as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, hospitalized with a debilitating stroke, moves off the political stage.

Dahamshe, whose views regarding the State of Israel are reflective of other Arab MKs, responded by severely maligning Sharon, calling him the "butcher of the Palestinian people," "a criminal," and a man "swimming in Palestinian blood."

Some excerpts from interview follow, as a way of providing a window into the hearts and minds of some Arab Members of Knesset. (More excerpts can be seen on the website of Palestinian Media Watch.


"First of all the end of Sharon should not concern the Muslims. He was a butcher and part of a state which will not exist within the next 50 years. Partly due to the increasing Muslim population who have Israeli passports. If Israel is a true democracy then demographically the Muslims will outnumber the Jews and could vote out the zionist [sic] regime. My question is as the Muslim population within Israel increases will the Knesset experience a shift in its views?"


"…I was one of the most hostile parliament members against Sharon in the Parliament and I was never afraid to describe him as the butcher of the Palestinian people, and that he is a criminal who killed hundreds of Palestinians and Arabs, specifically the Egyptian prisoners and Sabra and Shateela [sic].

"I told him in person one day, when he said he is [sic] not going to release Palestinian prisoners because their hands are stained with blood, I told how dare you say this while you have been swimming in the [sic] Palestinian blood and here you are the Prime Minister.

" I also advised him to go to hell and leave his responsibilities for somebody else if he doesn't end the bloodshed and give the two people the chance to get out of the circle of violence...

"And when Sharon came to the Parliament and he wanted to withdraw from Gaza and dismantle its settlements and some of those in northern West Bank, I declared my position and the positions of United Arab List that we will not raise our hands against any withdrawal.

"This was when other Arab parties in the Parliament opposed the disengagement plan ... I told my Arab colleagues, that this historical event, and destruction of settlements by Sharon himself, who's the only one capable of this, and all of this will happen within specific timetable...

"Who should be worried from losing [sic] Sharon? It's the Israeli people and the Israeli politics [sic] that seemed to be as children who lost their father. For the Palestinian people, I am not concerned about the presence or the absence of Sharon, what worries me, the chaos across the Palestinian territories.

"The Palestinians have struggled for many years, during two intifadas, and throughout this time they have maintained their national unity, destroying Sharon's dreams, the Israeli hero which Israel overwhelmingly agreed that he is the only one who's capable of maintaining the security for Israel and like the other Israeli leaders. Because Sharon won many wars he convinced his people that he can provide them with security.

"He asked for 100 days to secure Israel, he was given much more time, and eventually came to the Knesset saying that the conflict with Palestinians cannot be solved only by the military machine but also with other tools...

"Because of the steadfastness and tolerance of the Palestinian people, they have absorbed the Sharonist violence throughout many years in which Sharon has practiced unlimited violence against the innocent people and their leaders.

"He has destructed [sic] cities and uprooted trees while whole world [sic] witnessing this with silence of Washington and most the European and even the Arab countries who stopped even condemning the Sharonist war crimes against Palestinians...

"For the Palestinian people it's better for be [sic] unified against the outside threats. We should rebuild ourselves from the inside and we shouldn't be worried of what may come from the outside ... because if we are strong from the inside we will be able to face any sort of danger."

[Islam Online, January 6, 2005].

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5. Tale of Two Threatened Neighborhoods
By Hillel Fendel

Two Jewish neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria are threatened with evacuation and destruction in the coming days - and are reacting differently. The two are in Hevron and in Ofrah.

The Hevron Jewish Community leadership is calling upon Jews all over the country to flock to the city in order to protect the Mitzpe Shalhevet neighborhood from destruction. The people of Amonah, overlooking Ofrah in the Binyamin region, on the other hand, are taking a "wait and see" approach for the meanwhile.

The Hevron neighborhood is located on land owned by Jews for over 500 years, but was populated by Jordanian Arabs after Israel's War of Independence. Israel's Supreme Court recently decreed that the land be "restored" to the Arabs, and local Jews say the IDF is preparing to carry out the order within the coming days.

Signs of the struggle the residents say can be expected in the event of an attempted expulsion were seen a week ago, when dozens of special-unit "Yassam" policemen and soldiers attempted to distribute expulsion orders to the 11 Jewish families living in the Jewish Quarter neighborhood. Both civilians and soldiers were lightly hurt in the ensuing fracas.

A prayer rally will be held this afternoon, on the fast of the 10th of Tevet, beginning with the recitation of Psalms at 3:30 PM. In between the Mincha and Maariv prayer services, words of encouragement will be offered by Hevron Rabbis Dov Lior and Moshe Levinger.

Beginning tomorrow, Hevron residents are hoping that hundreds of people will arrive in the city "in preparation for the possible attempt to expel Hevron families from their homes in Mitzpe Shalhevet." Large tents and subsidized meals will be available, but private tents, sleeping bags, warm clothing and a strong spirit are also recommended. Study programs and other activities will be available.

The Hevron Jewish Community reports that Israel's security forces have begun mobilizing in preparation for the planned expulsion. A camera has been placed atop an army post tower on the Abu Sneineh hills, facing the Mitzpe Shalhevet neighborhood. It was from those hills in 2001 that an Arab sniper placed 10-month-old Shalhevet Pass in his gun sights and fired a fatal bullet into her brain.

In addition, Hevron sources report, a Riot Squad member was seen entering another guard tower located at Gross Square, also equipped with cameras.

Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi of Rome, head of the Cultural Institute of the Italian Muslim Association, will be present. A vocal critic of Saudi Wahhabism (militant Islam) and an ardent supporter of Israel, Sheikh Palazzi is currently visiting Israel and will speak on Wednesday at the OU Israel Center on "Wahhabi World War III: How the West can Win."

About an hour's drive to the north, nine houses in Amona are also scheduled for destruction - and residents say it could happen any day. The Supreme Court ruled this past summer, in response to a petition by the extremist left-wing Peace Now organization, that the structures built there illegal and must be destroyed.

Peace Now maintained that the houses were built on land registered in the name of a private Arab citizen - but residents say this man has never shown up to claim the land. The government said at the time that because of "political sensitivity," it would rather wait until after the retreat from Gaza before beginning to act against Jews in Judea and Samaria. It is now feared that the decision might be implemented as early as next week.

Peace Now demands that the army demolish illegal structures. Illegal Arab construction in Judea, Samaria, and the Negev, however, dwarfs the extent of unauthorized Jewish building. A spokesman for the Negev District Police said recently that the Arabs have erected over 35,000 illegal structures in that region. Few if any of these structures are ever demolished.

Some three dozen families live in Amona, but none of them live in the structures to be demolished. Instead, they live in two-room caravans (mobile homes without wheels). "For a young couple to live in a caravan with one or two children is not impossible," one young mother who lives in Amona said, "but with four children, it's simply impossible." At least one family has moved out of Amona [and is now living in another Yesha town] because of the poor prospects that they will be able to move into a real house.

As in Hevron, the residents have made a call for concerned Jews to come and help them resist the army bulldozers - but have put it on hold in light of the uncertain government situation and intimations that the army might postpone the action.
But if and when the time comes, the residents hope that Jews will come to help them. "If these buildings are destroyed," one man said, "it means the beginning of the end for all of Judea and Samaria."

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6. Fast of Asarah B'Tevet
By Hillel Fendel

Jews around the world are fasting or otherwise commemorating the 10th of the Jewish month of Tevet, marking the start of a siege leading to the destruction of the first Holy Temple 2,500 years ago.

The siege was emplaced around Jerusalem for three years by the superpower of the time, Babylonia. The ensuing destruction of Jerusalem led to the exile of the Jews to Babylonia (today's Iraq). Further information on the siege can be found in the Book of Kings II, chapter 25.

The fast is the shortest of the six annual Jewish fasts, ending at 5:22 PM in Jerusalem and approximately 5:10 PM in New York.

The 10th of Tevet (Asarah B'Tevet) has also been designated by Israel's Chief Rabbinate as the day of mourning for Holocaust victims whose date of death is unknown. The day is known as the "Day of General Kaddish (mourners' prayer)."

The renowned Maimonides wrote in his Jewish Law Code, "The essential significance of the fast of the Tenth of Tevet, as well as that of the other fast days, is not primarily the grief and mourning which they evoke. Their aim is rather to awaken the hearts towards repentance; to recall to us, both the evil deeds of our fathers, and our own evil deeds, which caused anguish to befall both them and us and thereby to cause us to return towards the good."

Rabbi Avraham Danzig of Poland (1748-1820) wrote in his work Chaye Adam, "...Therefore, the people who fast but engage in pointless activities, grasp what is of secondary importance and miss what is essential. Nevertheless, repentance alone without fasting is also insufficient, because there is a positive commandment of Rabbinic origin to fast on this day."

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7. Sea of Galilee Rising Slowly
By Hillel Fendel

The level of Lake Kinneret, Israel's largest water reservoir, continues to rise gradually. It has gained close to 20 million cubic meters of late - 1% of Israel's water needs.

Increasing 1.5 centimeters over the past 24 hours, the lake still has 9.3 feet to go to reach its optimal level.

Also known as the Sea of Galilee, it began to rise last month, after the usual summer evaporation and dry season lowered its level to its lowest point in over two years. It stood some 33 inches higher at this time last year.

The exact numbers: The Kinneret now stands at 211.64 meters below sea level. The optimal level is 208.8 meters below sea level, such that another 2.84 meters of water is desired this winter.

Each ten centimeters (2.5 inches) of Kinneret height mean another 17 million cubic meters of water.

Like other countries, Israel faces water shortage problems - but has taken technological steps to deal with the problem. Some 60% of the country's sewage water is recycled, and just a few months ago, it opened the world's largest desalination plant of its kind. The new Ashkelon Seawater Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) plant is set to ultimately provide an annual 100 million cubic meters of water – roughly 5%-6% of Israel’s total water needs, and approximately 15% of the country’s domestic consumer demand.

The current weather reports call for heavy rains over the next few days. If the maximum Kineret level is reached, authorities must open the dams in order to prevent flooding in Tiberias and Ein Gev.

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8. Sanhedrin Recognizes Council to Teach Humanity ´Laws of Noah´
By Ezra HaLevi

A group of non-Jewish delegates have come to Jerusalem to pledge their loyalty to the Laws of Noah. They appeared before the nascent Sanhedrin, which established a High Council for B'nai Noach.

The ten delegates appeared before a special session of the Jewish High Court of 71 Rabbis led by its Nassi (President) Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz. B'nai Noach, literally "Children of Noah," also known as Noahides, are non-Jews who take upon themselves the Torah's obligations for all members of the human race. The seven such laws were passed on via Noah following the Flood, as documented in Genesis (see below).

The gathering took place under a banner quoting the Biblical passage in Tzefania 3:9which refers to "all the nations... speak[ing] a pure language... proclaim[ing] the name of G-d."

The Noahide delegates stood before the nascent Sanhedrin, which was reestablished over a year ago in Tiberias, following the renewal of Biblical ordination, and has met regularly since then. "Each one [of the B'nai Noach] comes with a name he has made in the world, as a teacher and example in his community of observance of the seven laws of Noah," said Rabbi Michael Bar-Ron, the Sanhedrin's emissary who facilitated the council's organization, introducing the delegates. "At great physical and financial expense, they have flown across the world to Jerusalem, the holy city, to pledge before the court and all mankind, their allegiance to the Seven Laws of Noah, the laws of the Creator."

Each of the Noahide representatives stood before the Sanhedrin and pledged:

"I pledge my allegiance to HaShem, G-d of Israel, Creator and King of the Universe, to His Torah and its representatives, the developing Sanhedrin. I hereby pledge to uphold the Seven Laws of Noah in all their details, according to Oral Law of Moses under the guidance of the developing Sanhedrin. May HaShem bless and aid me, my fellow council members and all B'nai Noach in all our endeavors for the sake of His name. Blessed are You G-d, King of the universe, who has caused me to live, sustained me, and brought me to this day."

Roger Grattan, a council aide who lives in Maine, told Arutz-7 prior to the ceremony, "I am sure that this will be a paragraph in the history of civilization, although one could also write books on it. It is also the fulfillment of prophecy." The core members of the council are Indian Foreign Relations Coordinator Bud Gill, Billy Jack Dial, Andrew Overall, Adam Penrod, Jacob Scharff, Chairman Larry Borntrager, Honorary Noahide Council Elder Vendyl Jones, Tennessee Noahide Community Head Jack Saunders and Council Speaker Jim Long.

Long addressed the rabbis of the court, requesting formal recognition of the Noahide Council: "Your honor, esteemed rabbis of the developing Sanhedrin. We are here because of your Torah. Rabbis before you elevated the Torah and it drew us in; before that, we stumbled in darkness. Everyone here today can tell you that in the past we have experienced the need to consolidate our efforts to make the world aware of the truth."

Rabbi Even-Israel Steinsaltz, on behalf of the Sanhedrin, replied: "We hereby recognize these men as the first high council of B'nai Noach in accordance with the conditions they have accepted upon themselves."

Rabbi Steinsaltz spoke about the role of the Jewish people in bringing the Laws of Noah to the world:
"I am part of this Jewish family and I have nothing bad to say about that family, but you don't go up to a man on the street and ask him to join your family. Instead you talk to him about joining the true belief in the Creator and about implementing divine justice toward his fellow man. We are setting up a global mission here – not to recruit people, but to bring them to the realization that there is one G-d."

The Nassi explained that this aspect of Judaism lay dormant for years, as the Jewish people dealt with remaining alive and keeping the Torah in the exile.

Rabbi Steinsaltz called for an extensive project to be undertaken to help B'nai Noah in the nitty-gritty details of the observance of the religion. "A Shulhan Arukh [Jewish Law Code] for B'nai Noah must be written so that the individual can have guidance as to what to do," Steinzaltz said, referring to the compendium of practical Jewish law written by Rabbi Yosef Karo of Tzfat in the 1560's that is still used today.

He then addressed the ten B'nai Noah representatives, who had endured hours of Hebrew speeches throughout the day, in English:

"There are those people, so far only a small number, who say, 'We are bound by the covenant of Adam and the covenant of Noah and we know we have to perform and fulfill our obligations.' We, as Jews, have the same religion as you.

"Within the nation of Israel there is one tribe that deals with the Temple – the priests. We Jews are a specific tribe in the world that was chosen to be a tribe of priests – hereditary priests. Because of this we have special duties. Being a priest does not mean we are cut off from the other people. While the people of the world are all different units in the armies of the Lord, we are a special commando unit that maybe doesn't get paid more, but has special assignments that may be more dangerous."

Rabbi Even-Israel spoke about the difficulties that would confront the B'nai Noah movement as it grows:
"When we are speaking in general, almost every human being can more or less accept the laws of Noah, but when we get to particulars we will come to serious points, at which we disagree with Christianity and Islam.

"It is one thing when a religion is small, but as it gets bigger there will be huge pressures. We will be there beside you. We are members of the same religion that was given by the Almighty to humanity. Part of it was given to the Jews and part of it was given to humanity as a whole."

The Nassi added that while there are those who doubt the ability of the Sanhedrin to be more than an idea leading up to the true reestablished court, the Noahide Council cannot be doubted or criticized due to its pure motives and unprecedented mission.

Rabbi Yaakov Ariel of the Temple Institute said that although Tuesday is the Fast of the Tenth of Tevet, which commemorates the beginning of the destruction, "Our sitting in Jerusalem now, alongside B'nai Noach, demonstrates the revival and the fulfillment of the words of the prophets." Rabbi Ariel told those gathered that he had seen a rainbow that morning, "the closest thing to seeing Noah himself - the symbol of the covenant between G-d and humanity as witnessed by Noah."

Famed archaeologist and Noahide leader Vendyl Jones addressed a festive banquet held for the Council members, speaking about the Seven Laws of Noah. He explained, in detail, the verses in the first eleven chapters of Genesis from which the seven laws are elucidated, saying that he always understood the first six, but never understood the law proscribing the eating of a limb of a living animal - until he remembered his cattle-branding days in Texas: "We would brand and castrate the cattle when I was young, and at night we would all sit around the campfire and eat what they called 'mountain oysters'" – the testicles of the still-living animals.

Rabbi Nachman Kahane, Av Beit HaDin, spoke in English. "G-d created a primitive world," he said. "We don't grow loaves of bread, but grain that must be harvested, ground up and baked. We were meant to be partners with G-d. Unfortunately, throughout history, perversions of this idea grew. How can you be G-d's partner if you are damned and born with original sin? How can you be a partner of G-d if your religion tells you to send your children to shopping malls to blow people up? What we are creating today is a reconnection between the people and G-d. G-d is saying to humanity – everyone has a job. I happen to be a priest - I have a particular task for when the Temple is built - but all of us have a specific task just the same; I am no better."

Jones told Kahane that his brother, slain Knesset Member Rabbi Meir Kahane, together with Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, had organized one of the first conferences for B'nai Noah nearly 20 years ago.

Conference on Noahide Council

Earlier in the day, several speakers addressed issues surrounding the B'nai Noah movement as part of a conference on the establishment of the B'nai Noah Council.

Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, a leader of the Italian Muslim Assembly, addressed the assembly, speaking about B'nai Noah in Islam: "Islamic law holds within it the seven laws of Noah and can be taught correctly to the Muslims of the world... I remember reading that a new Sanhedrin was created in Jerusalem [and] my impression was very positive - I thought maybe something new had been created to allow the Jewish people to project moral and legal clarity to counterbalance the lack of it in our world."

Palazzi added that the project of creating a council of Noahide teachers would hopefully counter the negative educational effect of the Gaza withdrawal, "which taught the opposite to my people - it convinced many that only terrorism works."

Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Zini, who heads Yeshiva Or V'Yishuah and is the rabbi of Haifa's Technion, spoke about the intuitive natural truths of the laws of Noah. "We must create a formal connection between the nation of Israel and the B'nai Noah to show the world that we are a nation of holy priests, as is dictated in our Torah," he said, speaking partly in French as well, as the conference will be available on the Sanhedrin's web site for viewing by prospective B'nai Noah worldwide.

Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, who received the blessing of leading hareidi-religious Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv to engage in the project of creating a court and infrastructure for B'nai Noah, addressed the conference as well. Rabbi Schwartz is the Deputy Av Beit HaDin [literally, Court Elder] of the Sanhedrin and the Av Beit HaDin for the B'nai Noah court. He spoke on the topic of "B'nai Noah and World Peace."

"The Islamic Jihad against the world has restored religion to the center of the world's consciousness," Schwartz said. "Over 30 years ago, someone by the name of Eisenberg sent a proposal to the United Nations saying that there will never be world peace unless the citizens of the globe agree on certain principles of faith. It was adopted by the UN as one of its official documents but was not followed up upon and has since been forgotten. We are here today to follow up on that document and remind the UN why it exists. There will be world peace when the whole world agrees that there is one G-d. There are people who do not think what I am about to say is worthwhile, but I suggested years ago that we begin to translate our books, which are meant for the nations of the world, into Arabic as well [Schwartz has authored many books on practical observance for Noahides –ed.]. It is not by coincidence that we have this nation alongside us, surrounding and living inside the land upon our return to it, who also preserves the heritage of Abraham our father."

Schwartz has indeed translated his books to Arabic, with the help of an Arab man he met at a bus stop who asked him a Mishanaic question, telling him he had already translated the Mishna, a codification of Jewish oral law. He said the entire printing has been sold out. "Muslim parents have thanked me for teaching their child that there is a different way to heaven than becoming a shahid, a martyr," he said.

Rabbi Schwartz explained that although one of the purposes of the Jewish people's exile was to disseminate belief in the Torah's truths around the world, their return to Israel has brought with it the technology to redouble our efforts from here:
"The moment we came to Israel, communication technology flourished. The telephone and radio spread rapidly, and computers and internet came soon after, changing the entire concept of communication and education. When we were in the exile, we were there to teach the world, and now that we have returned to the Land of Israel, G-d has given us the tools to do the work from here."

Rabbi David Zilbershlag, Director of Meir Panim and Koach Latet, both innovative charity associations, spoke about rectifying the misdeeds of Noah's generation, the generation of the Flood. Zilbershlag said that the new Council of Noahides must focus on kindness and charity, as that was the basis of G-d's covenant with Noah (the lack of which resulted in the destruction of Noah's entire generation) and His later covenant with Abraham.

"It is hard to distribute and spread an idea that is negative, as the laws of Noah are phrased," Zilbershlag said. "We must make a great effort to find and distribute the relevant positive commandments in our tradition throughout the world as well, and the most basic of these is that of following in the footsteps of Abraham our father."

Rabbi Eliyahu Essas, a former refusenik and founder of the Teshuva (return to Judaism) movement in the USSR, spoke about establishing outreach within Israel to help gentiles who moved from the former Soviet Union to Israel become aware of the Noahide laws:
"There are at least 400,000 out of the million people who came to Israel who are not Jewish according to Jewish law. There are many who think they are Jews, but do not have a Jewish mother and are therefore not Jewish according to Jewish law. 150,000 have no blood connection to the nation of Israel – spouses of Jews and relatives who came under the Law of Return. Then there are 30,000 who have nothing to do with the Jewish people, coming with forged documents. Over there, Jews wanted to be Russians; here, Russians want to be Jews.

"Should we harass such a person to convert, should we leave him alone, or should we try to get him to become a Ben Noah?" Essas asked, refraining from offering answers and saying that such complicated matters must be dealt with by both the Noahide Council and the Sanhedrin's B'nai Noah Beit Din. He added that the problem of intermarriage was not discussed by previous generations because it did not exist in such numbers. "We are dealing with 50% of families in the former Soviet Union and even more in North America. So if one spouse is a Jew and one is a Ben Noah, what will be their status? I want to raise these issues and offer a prayer to the Almighty to help us find wise solutions."

Council Looking Forward

Spokesman Jim Long outlined the Council's goals:
"Education is a vital part of our effort and we need you to help us with this. We need to make sure that developing Noahide groups do not split into denominations. As we move into the public eye, we will be viewed as heretics by many. We each come from other religions and must develop ways to approach them in a manner in which they listen without closing their ears. The Noahide movement is a Torah-based template for an ethical way of life. The Creator requires humanity to uphold these laws as per His covenant with Noah.

"Anyone who reads the Bible can see that your Torah is your constitution, your Bill of Rights and your deed to the Land of Israel. We have plans to publish Noahide prayer books, children's books and documentaries on science and the world through the lens of the Torah."

"We have heard that G-d is with you," Long concluded.

For more information, the Council secretary can be contacted at:

The Seven Laws of Noah are:

Shefichat damim - Do not murder or commit suicide.
Avodah zarah – Pray and offer sacrifices only to G-d. Do not worship false gods/idols.
Gilui arayot - Do not be sexually immoral (no incest, sodomy, bestiality, castration and adultery), crossbreed animals or perform castration.
Ever Min HaChai - Do not eat a part of a live animal or consume blood.
Birkat Hashem - Do not utter G-d's name in vain, curse G-d or pursue the occult. Honor your parents.
Gezel - Do not steal or kidnap.
Dinim - Set up righteous and honest courts and apply fair justice in judging offenders and uphold the principles of the last five.

(Photos: Ezra HaLevi)

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