Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
The Jews Now Dumping Trump Won't Ever Apologize for Backing Him by Jonathan S. Tobin
There were Jews who joined the pro-Trump assault on the Capitol, arm-in-arm with open antisemites. But while most Jewish Trump voters won't mourn his exit, they don't regret backing him either
Are Jews who backed Donald Trump finally now ready to both renounce him and to concede that they were wrong to support him for the last four years?
That's a question that deserves an answer in the wake of the Capitol riot that finally vindicated some of the fears Trump's critics have voiced in recent years about him being a threat to democracy.
But while many, if not most, of the up to 30 percent of the Jewish electorate who voted for Trump may now want no part of him after his disgraceful conduct in the wake of his election loss, few will be apologizing - and some will still stick with him.
For the most part, Trump's policies were little different from those that any Republican might have pursued. The divide about him was always more about manners and the very different perceptions of the educated and working classes about whether having someone so determined to outrage the establishment was a much needed shock to the system,or a path to chaos and the collapse of democracy.
For those who have always regarded Trump as not merely a proto-authoritarian but also the embodiment of political evil, the events of the last week merely confirmed the assumptions they've always held about him.
For four years, Trump had pushed the envelope of propriety in many respects, using language unheard of in a president. His comments, both those taken out of context and those that were not, were construed as hateful. He shredded precedents of every kind.
But what those who were appalled by Trump failed to understand was that in doing so, he was responding to a genuine sense of grievance on the part of many Americans that the governing classes had ignored their plight, and were operating for their own selfish benefit. His often deliberate use of politically incorrect language delighted them because he was baiting his detractors in the press and the political establishment that they despise.
When Trump's Israeli groupies abandon ship His unconventional instincts served him well on issues as diverse as trade policy, deregulation and Middle East peace. And, at least up until the pandemic hit the nation in 2020, he could claim to have had more successes than setbacks, despite the way he divided the nation. His keeping of his promises to various Republican constituencies — whether it was conservative judges or a historic level of support for Israel — made it all worth it to them.
But his refusal to accept defeat, and then his continued attempts to push a false narrative about a stolen election,were a bridge too far, even for many of the 74 million Americans who voted for him.
His attempt to pressure Georgia election officials to essentially falsify that state's vote was not only outrageous, but then led to a disastrous double defeat in Senate runoffs that cost Republicans control of the upper body. Days later, his incendiary rhetoric at the rally he had organized, intended to pressure Vice President Mike Pence and Congress to overturn the certified results of the election, incited a mob to attack the Capitol building where Congresswas sitting.
Flouting norms about behavior was one thing. Interfering with the peaceful transfer of power after an election — a cornerstone principle of American democracy — was quite another. At this point even many Republicans now agree that he deserves impeachment though the utility of a conviction that would only come after he has already left office seems questionable.
Unfortunately, those expecting a bipartisan consensus about the events of January 6 are bound to be disappointed. And that is as true of the Jewish community as the rest of the nation. After all, there were also Jews in that crowd including some among the Capitol invaders, as well as open anti-Semites.
Just as many Trump supporters believe him when he claims an election he lost decisively was stolen, so too are many unwilling to admit that he incited a riot and that his attempt to invalidate the results was itself illegitimate.
They do so because in a bifurcated political culture in which the two camps isolate themselves from those with opposing views, many are no longer willing to question their own side or accept facts that contradict their pre-existing biases. They believe Trump's opponents are dishonest and accept his claims even if they are untrue.
This isn't solely a product of their having drunk the Trumpist Kool Aid. They point to the fact that most of the mainstream media did eschew even the pretense of objectivity when it came to their coverage of the administration. Trump supporters also point out the contrast between the sympathetic coverage given to violence that emanated from the Black Lives Matter protests as compared to that of the Capitol riot.
That sort of whataboutism doesn't excuse what the Trump mob did. But it does explain why so many Trump supporters — including Jews — are so unmoved by the national reaction to January 6.
To people like Rabbi Dov Fischer, a contributor to the American Spectator who just wrote a piece entitled "Why Trump Will Weather This Nonsense," subtitled "He'll be back," the Capitol riot is no different from any other past example of the left trying to unfairly take down Trump.
Though the president's opponents were wrong about Russia collusion and other alleged scandals, Fischer and other pro-Trump diehards are no longer able to look at their hero's behavior and draw appropriate or honest conclusions about him. Or about his hardcore fans' mob rampage: Fischer writes that he watched "the" video of the Capitol events and determined: "That was not an insurrection; it was a grown-up misbehaving — and, by the way, quite peacefully and jovially."
By contrast, the majority of Jewish Trump voters may have disliked Trump's behavior but believed his conservative and pro-Israel policies were more than enough to convince them to put aside any doubts. Unlike the Trump true believers, they are done with him and, like many of those who cast their ballots for the president, now wish him to go away and allow a lockstep pro-Israel GOP to rebuild without having to go on excusing his misconduct.
Is it fair to ask them to apologize for believing his moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, holding the Palestinian Authority accountable for subsidizing terrorism, withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the Abraham Accords normalization agreements for Israel was worth it?
To Trump's detractors,the answer is yes. But to those who believe the Trump administration's achievements would not have happened under any other president, and that the whole point of politics is policy rather than promoting public virtue, the answer is still no.
Much like the rest of the GOP, pro-Israel Republicans don't think of themselves as having sold their souls for a few policy achievements. To the contrary, they point out that it was Trump who changed his positions, not them.
Trump entered politics as a conventional New York liberal with no history of stands on any issue other than trade. By the time he took office he had adopted the Republican agenda on social issues like abortion and the need for conservative judges, tax cuts and deregulation. That also meant positions on Middle East issues that aligned him with Likudniks and supporters of the settlement movement, like his lawyer David Friedman, who was subsequently appointed ambassador to Israel, not to mention his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Just as political conservatives can say the significance of, among other things, the 6-3 conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court achieved by his nominations outweighs other concerns, pro-Trump Jews are likely to say his stands on Israel would have been enough to justify their support.
That's largely true even if they are dismayed about the disgraceful conclusion to his presidency, which, as horrible as it was, was ultimately a feeble gesture rather than an actual coup.
Nor is it likely that the majority of Israelis whom, polls said, liked Trump, would choose to turn back the clock and accept four years of Hillary Clinton's likely continuation of Barack Obama's unpopular policies in exchange for what did happen.
His supporters are hardly alone in being willing to excuse the foibles or even worse from a political leader in exchange for policy positions that they think are not merely important but a matter of life and death. While Trump is clearly an extreme example, just as Democrats have put up with flawed leaders like Bill Clinton and now Joe Biden, so, too, will Republicans in the future, if it means keeping the other side out of power.
That kind of thinking about politics is a function of the way politics has largely replaced the role religion once played in the lives of Americans. So long as such debates are conducted in a manner in which both sides of the spectrum believe each other to be not merely wrong but evil, and lacking good intentions, a consensus on what constitutes disqualifying behavior will always be elusive.
Most of his Jewish voters will not mourn Trump's departure from the stage now, but they will also have no regrets for their role in electing someone who gave them more or less everything they wanted from a president in terms of policy. What's more, they will do so in the belief that those who disagree with them would have done, and will do, the same to advance their own agenda.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of the Jewish News Syndicate. Twitter: @jonathans_tobin
A disaster and a tragedy for America, Jews and decent people everywhere
Those trying to defend principles of law and constitutional order against the left have been grievously undermined.
Melanie Phillips ,
(JNS) If freedom is indivisible, so are the rule of law, constitutional order and respect for the democratic process.
That's why the appalling events that took place on Capitol Hill on Wednesday are so shattering to one group in particular.
Of course, every person who supports those orderly principles—the core of any civilized society—will have looked on aghast as a violent mob stormed the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to fling themselves to the floor in terror as the process of certifying a president was brought to a halt.
Everyone who regards America as the standard-bearer of Western values will have been appalled by the spectacle of the constitutional order being so violently breached. Whatever the provocation, however strong the belief may be that the election process was fraudulent, the only way to resolve this is through lawful and democratic means. There is no cause that can justify violence in a free society.
But the people who are perhaps the most distraught by what happened are those who feel most betrayed by the person who bears responsibility—not just for the disorder itself, but also for having now undermined the increasingly desperate defense of good against evil.
That person is President Donald Trump. And among those who are so very distressed, the people who now have most cause to fear for the future are the Jews who supported him, towards whose interests as a people he was arguably the most sympathetic president there has ever been but whose trust he has now so wantonly squandered.
Many of Trump's Jewish supporters, like others who voted for him, disapproved of his manifest personality and temperamental flaws. Nevertheless, those who backed him understood that he was arguably the only significant bulwark against the enormous threat posed by the left to the West's core democratic and social values.
Such people watched America being defamed in schools and universities as intrinsically racist. They watched as their history was rewritten by propaganda falsely casting their nation as springing from evil and oppression.
They watched as conservative thinkers were hounded off university platforms or out of academic posts for having views that did not conform to the left-wing consensus.
They watched as the Democrats backed the thugs of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, even as they burned and trashed American cities. They watched as the Democrats gave illegal immigrants convicted of even major crimes "sanctuary" from law enforcement.
They watched as the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was disrupted by left-wing activists.
They watched as Trump was subjected for most of his term to an arguably illegal and certainly subversive attempt by an alliance of administration officials and Democrat politicians to lever him out of office through a campaign of baseless smears.
Yet in an Orwellian inversion of reality, the Democrats and their propaganda mouthpieces in the mainstream media accused the president himself of being a threat to the constitution and the rule of law.
Now, though, Trump has appallingly proved them right. Until this week, he had confined himself to constitutional means to press his charge that the election had been fraudulent.
On Wednesday, however, he utterly destroyed his claim to be upholding constitutional order against those who threaten it. Urging people to "take back the country," as he did at his morning rally for thousands of already wound-up supporters, was an open call to insurrection.
His belated exhortation to obey the rule of law was risible considering he had set these unlawful events in motion. And even after he finally called on his supporters to go home, he actually justified and excused the violence.
The results of his behavior are incalculable. It has made it unlikely that any Republican will now have the stomach to subject the evidence of election fraud to proper investigation.
And with the Republicans having lost control of the Senate in this week's Georgia runoffs—for which, absent proof of further claims of election fraud, Trump's behavior must take the blame—an ever-more extremist Democratic Party will no longer be constrained by congressional checks and balances.
All decent people should now be alarmed. Jews have particular cause to be so. For the party that now has untrammeled power poses a threat to the security of both Israel and American Jews.
Not that most American Jews see it that way. They are, however, part of a gathering tragedy for which the Georgia run-offs provided a cameo.
One of those elected to the Senate, Rev. Raphael Warnock, has a record of supporting hateful and irrational positions on Israel. The other new senator, Jon Ossoff, belongs to the majority section of the Jewish community which supports the Democratic Party despite its increasing toleration of such positions.
It is disturbing, for example, that the Democrats ever selected Warnock as their candidate.
In 2019, he signed a letter by faith leaders which referred to "the heavy militarization of the West Bank, reminiscent of the military occupation of Namibia by apartheid South Africa."
In a 2018 sermon, he said after a visit to Israel: "We saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey." Brushing off Palestinian violence, he referred to young Palestinians "struggling for their very lives, struggling for water and struggling for their human dignity" against Israel.
These are boilerplate lies on the left that incite murderous hatred of Israel and Jews around the world. Warnock subsequently doubled down on his remarks by claiming that he was "speaking to the issue of activists and human rights and the ability of people to be heard."
Moreover, he has supported the extremist pastor Jeremiah Wright, who infamously said "God damn America," blamed "them Jews" for not being able to be in contact with his former congregant, former President Barack Obama, and stated that "ethnic cleansing is going on in Gaza."
Yet in 2008, Warnock said: "We celebrate Rev. Wright in the same way that we celebrate the truth-telling tradition of the black church, which when preachers tell the truth, very often it makes people uncomfortable."
Given all this, his subsequent protestations that he loves America, supports Israel and believes in its security appeared opportunistic and disingenuous.
Tragically, though, as so often in Jewish history, there are Jews who are actively helping this onslaught against truth, justice and decency. Liberal American Jews have supported Warnock with the Jewish Democratic Council of America circulating a petition claiming that he was the victim of "baseless claims and attacks."
Such Jews have continued to support the Democrats regardless of Obama's hostility to Israel or his empowerment of Iran. They continue to support them regardless of their embrace of the poisonous Jew-hater, Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan, and "The Squad" of Democrat Congresswomen who are given to anti-Israel or anti-Jewish statements.
And now, with the Democrats unconstrained, we will all be forced to watch as the arguably criminal conspiracy to destroy a president is buried; as the anti-white, anti-West, anti-Jew Black Lives Matter movement is invited to set the social agenda; as the Palestinian Arabs are again empowered and incentivized to resume their campaign to exterminate Israel; and as America allows two of the most lethal threats to the free world—Iran and China—to walk all over it.
The moral case against the Democrats had been solid and overwhelming. But now, with Trump having betrayed the rule of law and constitutional order, those trying to defend these principles against the left have been grievously undermined.
What a disaster. What a tragedy—for America, for the West and for decent people everywhere.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for "The Times of London," her personal and political memoir, "Guardian Angel," has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, "The Legacy." Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access her work.
Initial Pfizer study suggests vaccine works against UK virus variant
Research, which hasn't yet been peer-reviewed, indicates vaccine could also work against South African strain, but more testing needed; Israeli health official welcomes news
A Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant sign in Portage, Michigan, December 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
New research suggests that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine can protect against a mutation found in two highly contagious variants of the coronavirus that erupted in Britain and South Africa.
Those variants are causing global concern. They both share a common mutation called N501Y, a slight alteration on one spot of the spike protein that coats the virus. That change is believed to be the reason they can spread so easily.
Most of the vaccines being rolled out around the world train the body to recognize that spike protein and fight it. Pfizer teamed with researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for laboratory tests to see if the mutation affected its vaccine's ability to do so.
They used blood samples from 20 people who received the vaccine, made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, during a large study of the shots. Antibodies from those vaccine recipients successfully fended off the virus in lab dishes, according to the study posted late Thursday on an online site for researchers.
The study is preliminary and has not yet been reviewed by experts, a key step for medical research.
But "it was a very reassuring finding that at least this mutation, which was one of the ones people are most concerned about, does not seem to be a problem" for the vaccine, said Pfizer chief scientific officer Dr. Philip Dormitzer.
Viruses constantly undergo minor changes as they spread from person to person. Scientists have used these slight modifications to track how the coronavirus has moved around the globe since it was first detected in China about a year ago.
British scientists have said the variant found in the UK – which has become the dominant type in parts of England — still seemed to be susceptible to vaccines.
That mutant strain has now been found in the US and numerous other countries, including Israel, where the deputy director of the Health Ministry, Itamar Grotto, welcomed the new study Friday in an interview with Army Radio.
But the variant first discovered in South Africa has an additional mutation that has scientists on edge, one named E484K.
The Pfizer study found that the vaccine appeared to work against 15 additional possible virus mutations, but E484K wasn't among those tested. Dormitzer said it is next on the list.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, recently said vaccines are designed to recognize multiple parts of the spike protein, making it unlikely a single mutation could be enough to block them. But scientists around the world are conducting research with different vaccines to find out.
Dormitzer said if the virus eventually mutates enough that the vaccine needs adjusting – much like flu shots are adjusted most years – that tweaking the recipe wouldn't be difficult for his company's shot and similar ones. The vaccine is made with a piece of the virus genetic code, simple to switch, although it's not clear what kind of additional testing regulators would require to make such a change.
Dormitzer said this was only the beginning "of ongoing monitoring of virus changes to see if any of them might impact on vaccine coverage.
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
My Goal was to lose 10 pounds. Only have 14 to go.
Ate salad for dinner. Mostly croutons and tomatoes. Really just one big round crouton covered with tomato sauce, and cheese. FINE, it was a pizza.... OK, I ate a pizza! Are you happy now?
Senility has been a smooth transition for me.
Remember back when we were kids and every time it was below zero outside they closed school? Yeah, Me neither.
I love approaching 80, I learn something new every day and forget 5 other things.I think I'll just put an "Out of Order" sticker on my forehead and call it a day.
Just remember, once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed. It's weird being the same age as old people. When I was a kid I wanted to be older…this is not what I expected. Chocolate is God's way of telling us he likes us a little bit chubby. It's probably my age that tricks people into thinking I'm an adult.
Marriage Counselor: Your wife says you never buy her flowers. Is that true? Him: To be honest, I never knew she sold flowers.
Never sing in the shower! Singing leads to dancing, dancing leads to slipping, and slipping leads to paramedics seeing you naked. So remember…Don't sing!
I see people about my age mountain climbing; I feel good getting my leg through my underwear without losing my balance.
So if a cow doesn't produce milk, is it a milk dud or an udder failure?
If you can't think of a word say "I forgot the English word for it." That way people will think you're bilingual instead of an idiot.
I'm at a place in my life where errands are starting to count as going out.
Cronacoaster: noun; the ups and downs of a pandemic. One day you're loving your bubble, doing workouts, baking banana bread and going for long walks. The next you're crying, drinking gin for breakfast and missing people you don't even like.
Don't be worried about your smartphone or TV spying on you. Your vacuum cleaner has been collecting dirt on you for years.
I don't always go the extra mile, but when I do it's because I missed my exit.
You don't realize how old you are until you sit on the floor and then try to get back up.
We all get heavier as we get older, because there's a lot more information in our heads.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it
The Portion of Bo
Unleavened Bread and Bitter Herbs in the Exodus from Egypt
The plagues fall upon Egypt one after one- each from a different direction and each more destructive than its predecessor. But Pharaoh does not give in. He remains adamant in his intransigence even while his own people suffer.
With the plague of darkness Pharaoh finally seems ready to concede: "And Pharaoh called to Moses and said "Go worship G-d" (Exodus 10;24)".
Moses' response "And also our cattle will go with us; not a single] hoof will remain... (Exodus 10;26)".
Pharaoh becomes irritated and says to Moses "You shall no longer see my face… (Exodus 10;28)".
At this stage comes the Almighty's command to observe the Passover sacrifice while still in Egypt- before the exodus.
And on the very night when all the Israelites are assembled in their homes and eating of the sacrifice, the Egyptians suffer the deaths of their firstborn and Pharaoh orders the Children of Israel to leave Egypt posthaste. With no time remaining for the dough to rise they take it together with the remains of the sacrifice and the bitter herbs on their shoulders and prepare to leave Egypt (Rashi on the verse).
The letter "reish" in the word "misharotam" (leftovers) (Exodus 12;34) is written with two "horns", alluding to the leftovers of the matzah and maror of the very first Passover sacrifice celebrated in Egypt even before the plague of the slaying of the firstborn.
I've also emphasized the letter "lamed" in the word "besimlotam" (their garments) for perhaps this too is related but I have not found a source for this.
The Juice Keepers: Technion Students Use Viruses to Stop Juice from Spoiling
Students at the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, The Technion, have harnessed a virus — a bacteriophage — found in the environment of fruit trees to prevent spoilage of fruit juices – a phenomenon that causes tens of millions of dollars' worth of damage each year.
The development earned the students from the Technion's Faculties of Biotechnology & Food Engineering, and Biology first prize in a competition held as part of the MicroBiome-Push project conducted within "Food Solutions", an educational program of the European food consortium, EIT Food.
Professor Marcelle Machluf, dean of the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, said, "International projects such as this are the very essence of the Faculty and its way of teaching future generations to think outside the box, to be entrepreneurial, and to broaden the knowledge we are able to provide in the classroom."
The international competition was held in the framework of the MicroBiome-Push project, which is part of the Food Solutions educational program. The goal was to solve problems in the food sector by connecting companies in the food industry (PepsiCo, Puratos and Agricolus) with undergraduate and graduate students from four universities – the Technion, the University of Turin in Italy, the University of Reading in the UK, and the University of Helsinki in Finland. Nine groups of students competed, including two from the Technion.
The two Technion groups chose challenges posed by the global PepsiCo corporation.
The first was to solve the problem of spoilage of fruit juices, while the second was to utilize the potato peels that are left over from the production of potato chips.
The groups were accompanied by four mentors from the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering: Professor Yoav Livney, who headed the Technion's activity in the project, Professor Yechezkel Kashi, Assistant Professor Avi Shpigelman, and Associate Professor Uri Lesmes.
According to the mentors, "The two Technion teams did an amazing job, and despite the limitations posed by COVID-19, they succeeded in creating original, effective solutions. What's more, they presented the viability of the ideas to the corporations and showed their inherent business potential."
Members of the winning team, the Microbes, are Itzik Engelberg, Alon Romano, Leechen Mashiah, and Rachel Bitton, and members of the second Technion group, Biomy, are Omer Sabbah, Yuping Kao, Or Shapira, Michael Buzaglo, and Lior Kaufman.
The Microbes chose to address the acute problem of spoilage of natural fruit juices, which in the US alone causes damage estimated at around $32 million each year. The culprit is ACB, or Alicyclobacillus acidoterrestris.
This bacterium, found in the ground in which fruit trees grow as well as in all parts of the tree itself, although not harmful to humans, releases a natural substance called guaiacol into the juice, spoiling its taste and smell.
This occurs in a broad variety of juices, including orange, mango, pear, grape, tomato, and others, and leads to the loss of large quantities of juice, as well as massive financial losses.
In the course of evolution, the bacterium has developed high resistance to hostile environmental conditions, enabling it to also survive the processes involved in juice production – cleaning, extraction, pasteurization, and filling.
As a rule, pasteurization is efficient in destroying bacteria that are harmful to health or adversely affect juice quality. But this is not the case with ACB, since the juice cannot be heated to higher pasteurization temperatures or for a longer time without compromising its quality and nutritional values.
PepsiCo has been looking for a creative solution that will prevent this harmful phenomenon.
"Since the problem has its origins in nature – a bacterium that lives in the soil – we looked for a natural solution," explain doctoral students and team members Alon Romano and Itzik Engelberg.
"After all, nature is a 'laboratory' that has been perfecting its solutions for billions of years, and our assumption was that solutions that developed in the evolutionary process could also serve us as a solution for dealing with the problem of ACB in the food industry."
After much searching and numerous analyses, the choice was a bacteriophage, a virus that infects bacteria naturally and in a very specific way.
Bacteriophages are abundant in nature, and following strenuous research, the group succeeded in isolating and identifying a bacteriophage that destroys the harmful bacteria. It takes just a small dose to efficiently eliminate the bacteria, and because it does so selectively, it is safe for use and it has no harmful effects on human health.
The fact that this is a natural, inexpensive solution that does not involve genetic engineering is expected to expedite the application of the technology in juices and to reduce the need for preservatives. Moreover, the addition of the virus to the juice does not affect it in terms of religious dietary laws – Jewish (kashrut) and Islamic (halal).
The second Technion group, Biomy, also tackled a far from simple challenge and developed the PotatALL concept, which includes a number of creative solutions for treating potato peels left over in the process of producing potato chips.
Team members presented a process to produce from the peels a raw material used to create eco-friendly packaging, as well as a dip made from potato peel. This comprehensive and creative solution also met with the judges' praise. The intention is for the dip to be served in small packs similar to ketchup, along with fries, and to package it in the eco-friendly packaging made from the peel. The solution provides a perfect way to fully utilize all parts of the potatoes while mitigating the environmental impact.
United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov has informed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that when he concludes his service to the region on December 31 he will not be available to take up a role as UN envoy to Libya.
Mladenov cited "personal and family reasons" for his resignation, according to a statement by UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.
The Middle East envoy was to replace Ghassan Salame, who stepped down as the UN Libya envoy this past March due to stress, according to the Reuters news agency.
Instead, Acting Libya envoy Stephanie Williams will continue in the position, Dujarric said.
Norwegian Tor Wennesland has been appointed to succeed Mladenov as the new UN Special Envoy to the Middle East.
TAU, IAA in Research Revealing Evidence of Trade between India and Israel 3,700 Years Ago
A new study by an international team that included researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority reveals that as early as the 16th century BCE there was significant global trade between India and Southeast Asia, and Israel. The trade included exotic foods such as soybeans, bananas, and turmeric – almost a thousand years before the first evidence of the presence of these foods in the Middle East.
The study focused on food scraps identified in the dental plaque of people buried in the 16th century BCE in Tel Megiddo in northern Israel, and the 11th century BCE in Tel Irani near Kiryat Gat in the south.
The remains of various foods were found in the teeth of these people, including food from Southeast Asia such as soybeans, bananas, and turmeric.
The study was conducted by Prof. Philipp Stockhammer of the University of Munich, and researchers from various institutions around the world including, from Tel Aviv University, Prof. Israel Finkelstein and Dr. Mario Martin of the Jacob Alkov Department of Archeology, and Dr. Yanir Milevsky and Dmitry Yagorov from the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Cultures at the Israel Antiquities Authority.
When we imagine the urban market in Megiddo 3,700 years ago, we think of local ingredients such as wheat, dates, and sesame, and, indeed, according to the researchers, ancient proteins and micro-fossils from these foods were found in the jaws of the ancient residents of the city. But with them were also found remnants of soybeans, bananas, and turmeric, and, according to the researchers, nowhere in the world has older evidence of soybeans, bananas, and turmeric been found outside of South and East Asia. The recent discovery predates their presence in the area of the Land of Israel and in the Mediterranean Basin by hundreds of years (turmeric) and even by a thousand years (soybeans).
This means that as early as the second millennium BCE, long-distance trade in exotic fruits, spices and oils existed between South Asia and the Land of Israel, through Mesopotamia or Egypt – suggesting globalization in the Bronze and Iron Ages. Of course, bananas would not have survived the journey from Southeast Asia to Megiddo, which suggests they were sold and consumed as dried fruit – very much like the lovely banana chips on your supermarket shelf.
"This is clear evidence of trade with Southeast Asia as early as the 16th century BCE, much earlier than the researchers have assumed so far," explains Prof. Finkelstein. "We discovered similar evidence for long-distance trade a few years ago in a study of molecular remains in pottery vessels from that period in Megiddo, a study that yielded evidence of vanilla root imports. But more is hidden than known in terms of details about the ways of trade and the manner of transferring the goods."
"In the excavation, we conducted at Tel Irani, we discovered, surprisingly, a cemetery from the Early Iron Age – about 3,100 years ago," said Dr. Yanir Milevsky and Dimitri Yagorov of the IAA. "In some of the graves we found families buried together – children buried next to their parents. Alongside the buried, we discovered burial offerings: bowls, jars, and jugs, buried with the dead in the belief that the vessels would be used by them in the next world. Animal bones were also found in some of the vessels, mainly sheep and goats, food for the dead. We intend to investigate these excavated vessels to examine whether in some of them there are remnants of bananas and sesame seeds, as found in the teeth of the buried. In addition, we are conducting research with Prof. Stockhammer with DNA testing to try and understand who these people were and where they came from."
Researchers believe soybeans were first domesticated in today's China in the seventh millennium BCE. The banana was first domesticated in New Guinea, in the fifth millennium BCE, and it arrived in West Africa 4,000 years later. But so far, no earlier spread of the fruit in the Middle East has been known.
The turmeric and soy proteins were found in the jaw of one man from Megiddo, and banana proteins in two jaws from Tel Irani, therefore it isn't known to what extent these foods were available to any consumer from any social class. But the researchers estimate that these were people who probably belonged to a relatively upper class in the city-state of Megiddo. This is evident in the structure of the tombs and the offerings placed in them.
In addition, the researchers found evidence of sesame consumption in the jaws from both Megiddo and Tel Arani, showing that sesame became a significant part of the local cuisine as early as the second millennium BCE.
"The study demonstrates the possibilities inherent in combining the exact and natural sciences in modern archaeological research," concludes Prof. Finkelstein. "Traditional archaeology, which can be called macro-archaeology, provides visible data, such as buildings, pottery, jewelry, and weapons. But a whole world of other data, of great importance, is revealed only under a microscope using advanced analytical methods."
Rav Mohilever And The Origins Of Modern Rabbinic Zionism
As a passionate Zionist and the founder of modern religious Zionism, Rav Samuel Mohilever (1824-1898) was at the forefront of the philosophy and theology of settling Eretz Yisrael, and it was his conception of Eretz Yisrael as a mercaz ruchani (spiritual center) that later became Mizrachi, the foundation of the modern religious Zionist movement.
Throughout his life, he was committed to the goals of attaining a deep attachment to the mitzvah of settling Eretz Yisrael; tolerating non-observant Jews as a prerequisite of achieving unity among the Jewish people; and rebuilding the Jewish homeland.
Rav Mohilever was attracted to the idea of settling Eretz Yisrael even before the infamous 1881 Russian pogroms but, in their wake, his efforts to that end became stronger. He traveled to Brody and Lvov to encourage the mass of refugees who fled Russia to make aliyah and to urge philanthropists to direct greater financial support to migration to Eretz Yisrael. He remained faithful to the importance of aliyah even after many Russian rabbis withdrew their support of Chovevei Tzion because the movement was headed by maskilim (modern Jewish intellectuals influenced by the Enlightenment).
Chovevei Tzion (literally "the lovers of Zion") was founded as a loose confederation in Eastern Europe to promote aliyah and advance Jewish agricultural development in EretzYisrael. Credited with building the foundations of modern Zionism, it became officially constituted as a group in 1884 when 34 delegates met at a historic conference in Kattowitz, Germany and elected Rav Mohilever as its first president.
As the leader of Chovevei Tzion, Rav Mohilever influenced Baron Edmond Rothschild to extend aid to the first settlement in Eretz Yisrael and convinced him to establish a settlement there for Jewish farmers arriving from Russia. As rav of Bialystok (1883-1898), he persuaded his community to settle in Petach Tikvah and, through his influence, a board of rabbis was appointed to ensure that the settlement work there was carried out in accordance with halacha.
In an important, but controversial, halachic decision, he ruled that Jewish farmers could work the land of Eretz Yisrael in 1889, a shemittah year. The Bible prohibits tilling the land on shemittah, so the Jews who had returned to Eretz Yisrael in the early 1880s and supported themselves primarily through the production and export of agricultural products – particularly wine and citrus fruits – theoretically were required to let their land lie fallow.
Most the leadership of Chovevei Tzion, however, argued that the entire "Eretz Yisrael project" would fail if Jewish farmers failed to work the land for an entire year, and Baron Rothschild threatened to pull his support for an enterprise that he believed would be destroyed through shemittah observance.
When the leading rabbinic authorities in EretzYisrael – Rav Shmuel Salant and Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin – refused to issue any exception to permit farming work, the settlers turned to their religious leaders back in Europe and beseeched them, given the exigencies of the economy of Eretz Yisrael and as a matter of their very survival, to find a way around the strict shemittah laws.
The threat of the collapse of the Jewish settlements and the withdrawal of Baron Rothschild's support led to a meeting in Vilna of three preeminent European halachic authorities: Rav Yehoshua Trunk of Kutno, Rav Shmuel Zanvil Kleppfish of Warsaw, and Rav Mohilever of Bialystok. The three great rabbanim fashioned an exception, which came to be known as a heter mechirah, pursuant to which a one-year sale of Jewish farmland to non-Jews would be permitted as a means to bypass the shemittah prohibitions (which all halachic authorities agree only extend to working land in Eretz Yisrael owned by Jews).
This exception, on its face, was specifically designed to be temporary and conditioned on the approval of the great Rav Yitzchak Elchonon Spector who, in a long responsum, did approve. Nonetheless, the greater Jerusalem rabbinate, as well as most leading European rabbinic leaders, were passionately opposed to the heter mechirah, including most prominently the Brisker Rav, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik; the Netziv, Rav Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin of Volozhin; and Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch of Frankfurt. The use of the heter mechirah remains controversial to this day.
After speaking at the Chovevei Tzion conference in Odessa (1891), R. Mohilever went on to lead a group tour of Eretz Yisrael and, upon his return, he published an open letter in which he urged Jews to work toward the settlement of the land. He joined the World Zionist Organization upon its founding by Theodor Herzl and, though he could not attend the First Congress (1897) because of his old age and frail condition, his letter of greeting to the delegates was formally read at the Congress, which was one of its highlights.
In the last letter he wrote before his death, Rav Mohilever called upon the Jews of Russia to support the Jewish Colonial Trust, the first Zionist bank. Founded at the Second Zionist Congress and formally incorporated in London in 1899, it was intended to serve as the financial instrument of the Zionist Organization and to obtain capital and credit to help attain a charter for Eretz Yisrael.
Exhibited here is an original sketch of Rav Mohilever by fervent Zionist Herman Struck (1876-1944), considered one of the most important print artists of Germany and EretzYisrael in the first half of the 20th century. His favorite artistic technique was copper etching and its related processes, though he also was a master of the lithograph, and his artistic legacy originates from his love of the print medium as well as from his landscape and portrait drawings. He later turned to the use of color to represent the stark beauty of the Levant and to better reflect the ever-changing nuances of light in the landscapes of Eretz Yisrael.
Born into a rabbinical family in Vilna, R. Mohilever was ordained by the Volozhin Yeshiva (1842) before assuming rabbinic posts in his native Glebokie (1848), Szaki (1854), Suwalki (1860), and Radom (1868). In each place, his hallmark was total involvement in community affairs.
In his articles, which were published in Ha-Levanon, he stressed cooperation with the maskilim for the welfare of the community and demanded that the rabbinical leadership combine Torah with secular wisdom. He also notably attempted to unite rabbis and maskilim in response to the summons issued by the Russian Ministry of Education under Count Uvarov to attend an 1873 St. Petersburg conference to discuss the Russian plan to reform Jewish education.
In this handwritten 1892 letter on his embossed Bialystok letterhead, Rav Mohilever writes to Rabbi Chaim Yosef Yafeh (Jaffe) congratulating him on his marriage and discussing land in Eretz Yisrael:
Friday, eve of the Holy Sabbath 8th Teveth 5612
The honored one, friend of my soul, the industrious rav, your mouth is most sweet, and you are altogether lovely, who loves your Land with all your heart and soul, standing out among the many in your fear of G-d, Chayim Yosef Yafeh, may your light shine and to all that is yours, much peace and blessing.
I have received your precious correspondence with deep pleasure. I have drunk from your tidings that you have found a wife, found a good thing in all the particulars, may G-d consent that you and she live in pleasance and quietude to long days. Likewise, I am praying that G-d in His mercy send speedy, swift and complete healing to his dear son Yesha'yah, may he live amongst all the other sick Jews, amen! – Regarding what you wrote to me that the clerk there will not set his eye upon him. What can I know from afar? For as it seems to me that there is. In particular, a hospital and a physician and a department certainly is there. Also, surely your son-in-law, the perfect Mr. Horwitz, is in the Holy Land. And when he writes to the clerk in Zichron Yaakov, there is no doubt that the clerk will heed his words.
As to the matter of the lands that they purchased in the Holy Land. I have already received letters from my honored and exalted friend R. Moshe Bramson, may his light shine, and the fellows of his society in Kaunas [Kovno]. Also, from the society in Riga. I have already written in this matter to the committee in Odessa and shall hope that it will all be peacefully settled, even though perhaps it will drag on some more time. Is not the Land of Israel one of the things that come through tribulations? But hope to G-d that the ban by the government of Turkey against the coming of our brethren the children of Israel through the gates of the Holy Land will soon expire.
And, thus, I am your friend who pursues your well-being and wisher of your success.
Rav Jaffe (1845-1898), the "Maggid of Vekshne," was one of the founders of the Chovevei Tzion and a renowned orator in Vilna on behalf of the movement. Moshe Bramson was a political activist who represented the Jews of Kovno at the Chovevei Tzion Congress at Kattowitz (1884).
Much to the chagrin of the local Arabs, the First Aliyah, which began in 1881 and lasted until about 1903, brought about 30,000 Jews, mostly from Eastern Europe and Yemen, to Eretz Yisrael. In discussing the Ottoman ban on Jewish immigration and his fervent hope that the Turkish government would reverse course on its anti-aliyah policy, R. Mohilever was almost certainly referring to the petition sent only a few months earlier by a group of Arab notables to the central Ottoman government in Istanbul calling for the cessation of Jewish immigration and the end of all land sales to Jews.
Exhibited here is the original tragic public notice by the gabbaim (managers) of Sha'arei Torah announcing the death of R. Mohilever.
"And Samuel died, and all of Israel gathered to mourn him." [I Samuel 25:1] On the death of our faithful shepherd, the leader of our nation, Will eulogize and cry with mourning distress, all lovers of Zion and our holy land, will howl with broken spirit and tears that flow like water.
The announcement goes on to proclaim a gathering on the 2nd of Tammuz, 1898 (the originally scheduled printed date, which was overwritten, was for three days later) at 11:00 for a eulogy to be delivered by Rav Naftali Hertz Halevi on the great loss sustained by the Jewish people and Eretz Yisrael. The document closes with "He who comforts Zion and Jerusalem will comfort all who mourn [R. Mohilever's] loss."
A disciple of the Maharil Diskin, Rav Naftali Hertz HaLevi Weidbaum (1852-1902) made aliyah in 1884 from his native Lithuania to Jerusalem, where he lectured at the Degel Torah Yeshiva and taught classes on Kabbalah which were attended by the leading Lithuanian Kabbalists at the time. In 1886, Rav Shmuel Salant appointed him to the rabbinate of Jaffa and settlements in Eretz Yisrael, and he became the first rav of the Ashkenazi community in Jaffa.
R. Mohilever was buried in the Bagnowka Cemetery, which he had established in 1892 as Chief Rabbi of Bialystok. However, in 1991, almost a century after his death, his remains were exhumed and reburied in Israel. A large funeral was held on November 10, 1991, and was attended by a Knesset delegation, Chief Rabbi Avraham Shapira, an Orthodox youth delegation, and about 1,000 people from across Eretz Yisrael.
Gan Shmuel, a kibbutz established in 1913 in northern Israel east of Chadera, was named for him.