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Yes, Miky, There Are Rabbis in Montana


HELENA, Mont. — In Montana, a rabbi is an unusual sight. So when a Hasidic one walked into the State Capitol last December, with his long beard, black hat and long black coat, a police officer grabbed his bomb-sniffing German shepherd and went to ask the exotic visitor a few questions.


Though there are few Jews in Montana today, there once were many. In the late 19th century, there were thriving Jewish populations in the mining towns, where Jews emigrated to work as butchers, clothiers, jewelers, tailors and the like.


The city of Butte had kosher markets, a Jewish mayor, a B’nai B’rith lodge and three synagogues. Helena, the capital city, had Temple Emanu-El, built in 1891 with a seating capacity of 500.


The elegant original facade still stands, but the building was sold and converted to offices in the 1930s, when the congregation had dwindled to almost nothing, the Jewish population having mostly assimilated or moved on to bigger cities.


There is a Jewish cemetery in Helena, too, with tombstones dating to 1866. But more Jews are buried in Helena than currently live here.


And yet, in a minor revival, Montana now has three rabbis, two in Bozeman and one (appropriately) in Whitefish. They were all at the Capitol on the first night of Hannukah last year to light a menorah in the ornate Capitol rotunda, amid 100-year-old murals depicting Sacajawea meeting Lewis and Clark, the Indians beating Custer, and the railway being built. The security officer and the dog followed the rabbi into the rotunda, to size him up.


Hanukkah has a special significance in Montana these days. In Billings in 1993, vandals broke windows in homes that were displaying menorahs. In a response organized by local church leaders, more than 10,000 of the city’s residents and shopkeepers put make-shift menorahs in their own windows, to protect the city’s three dozen or so Jewish families. The vandalism stopped.


Lately, the only commotion about Hanukkah has been the annual haggling among the rabbis over who gets to light the menorah at the Capitol. (It has since been resolved — at this year’s lighting, on Dec. 16, they will each light a candle; in the future they will take turns going first.)


Last year, the rabbinic debate resumed as the hour of lighting neared and 20 or so Jewish Montanans filed into the Capitol.


One woman could be heard reporting, excitedly, that a supermarket in Great Falls would be carrying matzo next Passover; a guy from Missoula was telling everyone that he had just gotten a shipment of pastrami from Katz’s Deli in New York.


The menorah was lighted and Hebrew prayers chanted, while the officer watched from a distance with his dog. He figured he would let it all go down and then move in when the ceremony was done. The dog sat at attention, watching the ceremony with a peculiar expression on its face, a look of intense interest. When the ceremony was over, the officer approached the Hasidic rabbi.


“I’m Officer John Fosket of the Helena Police,” he said. “This is Miky, our security dog. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”


Miky, pronounced Mikey, is in a Diaspora of his own. He was born in an animal shelter in

Holland and shipped as a puppy to Israel, where he was trained by the Israeli Defense Forces to sniff out explosives. Then one day, Miky got a plane ticket to America. Rather than spend the standard $20,000 on a bomb dog, the Helena Police Department had shopped around and discovered that it could import a surplus bomb dog from the Israeli forces for the price of the flight. So Miky came to his new home in Helena, to join the police force.


The problem, the officer explained, was that Miky had been trained entirely in Hebrew.

When Officer Fosket got Miky, he was handed a list of a dozen Hebrew commands and expressions, like “Hi’ sha’ er” (stay!), Ch’pess (search!), and “Kelev tov” (good doggy). He made flashcards and tried practicing with Miky. But poor Miky didn’t respond.


Officer Fosket (who is not Jewish) suspected he wasn’t pronouncing the words properly. He tried a Hebrew instructional audio-book from the local library, but no luck. The dog didn’t always understand what he was being ordered to do. Or maybe Miky was just using his owner’s bad pronunciation as an excuse to ignore him. Either way, the policeman needed a rabbi.


And now he had found one. They worked through a few pronunciations, and the rabbi, Chaim Bruk, is now on call to work with Miky and his owner as needed. Officer Fosket has since learned to pronounce the tricky Israeli “ch” sound, and Miky has become a new star on the police force. The two were even brought in by the Secret Service to work a recent presidential visit.


So all is well in the Jewish community here because the Hasidic rabbi is helping the Montana cop speak Hebrew to his dog. It is good news all around. The officer keeps the Capitol safe, and the Hebrew pooch is feeling more at home hearing his native tongue.


But the big winner is the rabbi, a recent arrival from Brooklyn who is working hard (against tough odds) to bring his Lubavitch movement to Montana. He has been scouring the state for anyone who can speak Hebrew, and is elated to have found a German shepherd he can talk to.




Israel's title to Palestine,
under international law


From The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel Under International Law by Howard Grief, international lawyer, 10/2008,, ISBN-10: 9657344522, ISBN-13: 9789657344521), 710 pages. .

Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel did not arise from the UN’s 1947 partition plan (which was merely advisory) or from British abandonment of the Mandate over Palestine in 1948. Rather, Jewish sovereignty was recognized in 1920 when the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council (Britain, France, Italy and Japan), meeting in San Remo, Italy, "converted the 1917 'Balfour Declaration' into a binding legal document."

"Binding?" “…its wording gave effect to the provisions of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations and became incorporated into the Mandate for Palestine.” The Jewish people retained sovereignty despite the British acting as their agents by running the Mandate.

The end of the Mandate did not terminate the Jewish people’s rights to all of Palestine as it had been defined, to also include northwestern Golan and Jordan. Under the doctrine of estoppel, those rights cannot be abrogated by countries that formerly had recognized them.


For example, “The U.S. endorsed Jewish sovereignty over Palestine in all its ‘historical parts and dimensions.’ The U.S. cannot now declare Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria as an illegal ‘occupation’ of lands upon which it favors the creation of a Palestinian State. The 1924 Anglo-American Convention on Palestine made the U.S. a ‘contracting party’ to the Mandate, further reinforcing a unanimously passed Joint Resolution of the 67th Congress two years earlier, signed by President Warren G. Harding, recognizing a future Jewish State in ‘the whole of Palestine.’"

The “…Mandate for Palestine that was ceremoniously incorporated into U.S. law in 1924 ‘was a constitution for the projected Jewish state that made no provision for an Arab state and which especially prohibited the partition of the country. Thus, he concludes, the fierce exception the U.S. has taken to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and its unremitting pressure for creation of a "Palestinian State" amount to a repudiation of its signature to the Anglo-American Convention on Palestine. It is in violation of American law and America's obligations under international law.”

If PM Begin had annexed Judea, Samaria, and Gaza right away, they would not have gone through stages in the popular mind from non-allocated to disputed to “occupied” (Winston Mideast Analysis, 12/3).









World Bank Gives Palestinian Authority
$64 Million



The World Bank has given $64 million to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to help it prepare for statehood.


Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad signed the agreement on Sunday. World Bank official Shamshad Akhtar says the goal is to boost Fayyad's plan to set up institutions for a state within two years, though talks with Israel are stalemated.


A World Bank delegation visiting the West Bank and Gaza Strip will also look for ways to ease entry of construction materials into Gaza.


Last winter Israel launched a three-week military offensive there to stop daily rocket fire, causing widespread destruction. Israel refuses to let building materials into Gaza, fearing they would end up in the hands of Gaza's Hamas rulers.





Israel settlement freeze inspectors accompanied by brutish guards



Residents of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria have taken to physically blocking entry to government inspectors sent to issue no-work orders and enforce Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's settlement freeze.


So on Sunday, the government responded by ordering units of Israel's hard-nosed Yasam anti-terror police unit to accompany the inspectors. Yasam officers are known for being very effective in their efforts to battle terrorists, but are even more known for their brutal tactics when deployed against fellow Israelis.


In one incident on Sunday at the Samarian town of Kedumim, Yasam officers reportedly struck the town's mayor and threw several young local girls to the ground to clear a way for the inspectors.


The government of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert came under heavy fire for deploying Yasam officers against young Jewish settlers trying to prevent the destruction of small settler outposts. A number of young, unarmed Jews were severely wounded in those clashes nearly two years ago.


Meanwhile, Netanyahu on Sunday reminded average Israelis that the settlers are their brothers, sent to settle Judea and Samaria much as Jews were sent to settle Tel Aviv a century earlier. Netanyahu's settlement freeze and settler opposition to it has resulted in increased public vilification of those Jews who hold to their biblical mandate to settle all of the land given by God to their forefathers.


The prime minister reiterated that the settlement freeze will end in 10 months, regardless of how the international community views the situation.




Ukraine academic:
Israel imported 25,000 kids for their organs


Ukraine PM Yulia Tymoshenko


Stories appearing on several Ukrainian Web sites claim Israel has brought around some 25,000 Ukrainian children into the country over the past two years in order to harvest their organs.

The claim, which was made by a Ukrainian philosophy professor and author at a pseudo-academic conference in Kiev five days ago, is the latest expression of a wave of anti-Semitism in the country. It comes a few months after a Swedish tabloid ran an article alleging that Israel Defense Forces soldiers have killed Palestinian civilians for their organs.

Jews, Israel and anti-Semitism have become a major motif of the presidential election campaign in Ukraine, with some figures making anti-Semitic statements and others condemning them. Some candidates, including a Jew and someone whose rivals claim is Jewish, blame a third rival - Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko - for bringing anti-Semitism into the race.



Israel stocks up;

TEL AVIV (MarketWatch) -- Israeli stocks were poised to rise for a fourth day on Thursday, led by strength in Ormat Industries, Israel Chemicals and the banks.


Late in the trading day, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange's benchmark TA-25 Index rose 1.14% two 1113.51 while the TA-100 Index /quotes/comstock/!ta100 (XX:TA100 1,037, +12.61, +1.23%) added 1.07% to 1035.15.


The Tel-Tech 15 Index of top technology issues climbed 0.73% to 230.84.


The most-active issue was Ormat, trading up 0.4%. The company is parent of Ormat Technologies, /quotes/comstock/13*!ora/quotes/nls/ora (ORA 43.01, +0.01, +0.03%) the producer of geothermal power plants.


Israel Chemicals shares jumped 4.2%.



Crisis Spurs Migration to Israel


JERUSALEM -- Immigration into Israel and the Palestinian West Bank is surging after the financial crisis and economic downturn evaporated jobs elsewhere.


After years of a brain drain from the region, and despite the lack of a peace settlement, by the end of this month about 4,000 North American Jews will have immigrated to Israel this year, an increase of 33% over 2008 and the most in one year since 1973, according to Nefesh B'Nefesh, an organization that oversees and assists with immigration to Israel from North America.


Immigrants to Israel often have a longstanding desire to move, but the economic crisis has pushed them to make the jump this year, said Danny Oberman, executive vice president of Israel operations for Nefesh B'Nefesh. "The economy has a lot to do with it," Mr. Oberman said.


The crisis is also having an impact on the West Bank, which is seeing the return of hundreds of Palestinians, mostly from the Persian Gulf, looking for work as the economy there sours. The West Bank economy -- separate from Israel's -- is expected to grow 5% in 2009.


Israel's economy, fueled mainly by the software, biomedical, weapons-manufacturing and diamond sectors, has grown at least 4% a year from 2004 to 2008. And Israel has a lower unemployment rate than the U.S., at 7.8%, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, next to 10.2% in October in the U.S. The Bank of Israel has raised interest rates twice since August, to its current level of 1%, at a time when banks around the world are cutting rates or leaving them low.


Israel also has almost no exposure to Dubai debt because the Arab League boycott prevents Israelis from investing there. That boycott also lessens the impact the Dubai crisis might normally have had on Israeli exports.


Palestinian Minister of National Economy Hassan Abu-Libdeh cautions that the Palestinian economy might ultimately suffer from the downturn in Dubai, because many Palestinian families rely on remittances sent from relatives working there. Oussama Kanaan, IMF representative in the West Bank and Gaza, said Palestinian remittances made up 10% of Palestinian gross domestic product in 2008. Income from Palestinians working in Israel makes up an additional 12% of Palestinian GDP.


In Israel, North American immigrants are making significant contributions to the economy, according to a recent study by consulting firm Deloitte Information Technologies Israel Ltd. U.S. immigrants who came between 2002 and 2008 have contributed directly 989 million shekels ($262 million) to the Israeli economy, the study said.


Zumi Brody immigrated to Israel with his wife and four young children in August. Mr. Brody, a vice president of a bank, said he had to sell his home in St. Louis for less than what he paid for it to make the move, but paying at least $10,000 per child to attend Jewish day school would have been burdensome. In Israel, his children can attend a state-funded school and still learn Hebrew and Jewish studies.


The increase in immigration from America also shows a change in the image and economy of Israel. The country is in the process of entering the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and has been upgraded from a developing to a developed economy, said Glenn Yago, an economist at the Milken Institute in Jerusalem.


This wave of American immigration suggests that Israel is shifting "from its primary, historical role as a refuge of last resort to a human- and financial-capital destination of first resort," Mr. Yago said.




Obama delays moving US Embassy to Jerusalem


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is delaying moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.


A 1995 U.S. law recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital and ordered that the embassy be relocated there. But the law also permits the president to delay the move for six-month periods, based on national security grounds.


Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush invoked the clause during their presidencies.

Obama notified Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of his decision on Thursday. He first delayed moving the embassy in June.


The location of the embassy is a sensitive issue in efforts to negotiate peace in the Middle East.




Israel police

'arrest Mossad spy on training exercise'


A trainee spy for Israel's secret service agency Mossad was arrested by Tel Aviv police while taking part in a training operation, media reports say.


The young trainee was spotted by a female passer-by as he planted a fake bomb under a vehicle in the capital. He was only able to persuade police he was a spy after being taken in by an officer for questioning on Monday.


The authorities have refused to comment on the story although Israeli media outlets have expressed their surprise.


'Just a drill'


Mossad does not tell local uniformed police about its training exercises.

The country's commercial Channel 10 said it hoped the agent's operatives were "more effective abroad", AFP news agency reported.


Niva Ben-Harush, the woman who reported the novice's suspicious behaviour to police, told Ynet News that 15 minutes after she made the call, Tel Aviv's port was closed and people evacuated.  She said police initially asked her to come with them and identify the suspect. "But after a few minutes, they told me it was just a drill," she said.


Up to three agency employees were believed to have been suspended following the incident.




US, Israel
'don't have guts' to attack: Iran



BRASILIA (AFP) - Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said late Monday that US and Israeli military threats against Iran were a thing of the past, and that, in any case, “they don’t have the courage” to attack Iran.

“The age of military attacks is over, now we’ve reached the time for dialogue and understanding. Weapons and threats are a thing of the past,” the Iranian told a joint Press conference with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, closing his one-day visit.

Fielding a question on whether he feared an attack from Israel or the US, Ahmadinejad said armed confrontation was no longer a possibility. That’s clear “even for mentally challenged people,” he said with a smile.


Twitter co-founder in Israel

to speak about social networking and business



Co-founder of Twitter Biz Stone is in Israel for the first time to speak at a conference being held on Tuesday night by the College of Management Academic Studies. The networking conference, intended for the college's alumni, will focus on the topic of social networking sites.


Despite being a leader among social sites with over 40 million registered users, Twitter does not charge a membership fee and remains free of advertising.


"2010 I think will be the year we start focusing a little more on revenue," Stone said at a press conference in Tel Aviv the morning before the conference. "We still have a lot of product work to do."






Palin Ignites New Debate On GOP Support For Israel


Jewish Democrats say she’s the best thing that could happen to them in 2012, and Republicans say she’s almost beside the point as Jewish voters sour on President Barack Obama’s Israel policies, runaway budget deficits and a faltering domestic agenda.

Welcome to the first skirmishes of Campaign 2012 and the adventures of Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee and maybe the latest in a line of Evangelical Christians who think Bible prophecy is being fulfilled in today’s Middle East conflict.

Palin, touring to promote her new book “Going Rogue,” sparked reactions ranging from concern to bafflement when she criticized Obama administration pressure on Israel over Jewish settlements — and said settlement growth is needed for the many Jews who will be “flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead.”

Was she simply misinformed about recent immigration trends in Israel — or was she echoing popular millennial prophecies that predict a great ingathering of Jews in the last days before Israel is consumed in the terrible wars signaling the coming of the Christian Messiah?

A leading analyst of the religion-politics intersection said the latter is the only likely interpretation.  “This notion of Jews flocking to Israel in the days and weeks ahead can only come from a pre-millennialist perspective,” Mark Silk, a Trinity College professor and director of the school’s Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life, told The Jewish Week. “It seems to be her frame of reference when it comes to the Middle East.”

A prominent Jewish Republican, though, scoffed at that interpretation.

“This was just Sarah being Sarah,” said this political veteran, who asked not to be identified. “This is a sideshow; the real issue is President Obama’s failed domestic agenda and his even worse Middle East policies.”



Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest at Intel Israel plant


Police detain a demonstrator at the Intel chip factory in Jerusalem


JERUSALEM, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews demonstrated on Saturday at Intel Corp.'s new electronic chip plant in Israel, in protest against work taking place at the site on the Jewish Sabbath.


Policemen dispersed the crowd and arrested several protesters for violent conduct, a police spokesman said.


The protesters said opening the plant for work on Saturday was a desecration of the Sabbath, which runs from Friday night to Saturday night. Ultra-Orthodox Jews held a similar protest last week outside the plant.


The protests highlighted tensions between Israel's largely secular Jewish population and an Orthodox Jewish minority that insists the Jewish state follow ancient religious laws that prohibit driving or working on the Jewish Sabbath.


Ultra-Orthodox Jews have held similar demonstrations in the city over the past few months to protest at the opening of a parking lot on Saturdays.