IM Issue 7 – October 2007


Image In a developing story, the Jerusalem Post cited US sources that a recent IAF air strike claimed by Syria on its territory was linked to a North Korean shipment of suspected nuclear material delivered three days before the attack. 

  Israel protected the secrecy of the mission by briefing only those pilots who actually carried out the strike, and not the pilots of the planes providing cover.The strike pilots involved in the attack – believed to be flying the US-made F-15I Ra’am  (Thunder) – were told details only after they had taken off.
    The source, The Washington Post, reported that Israel had satellite imagery showing possible North Korean involvement with Syria on a nuclear facility. Previously, U.S. officials, confirming the Israeli air strikes, said they were to target weapons believed headed for Hezbollah. Other speculation has been that Israel was seeking information about long-range missiles pointed at Israel, testing Syrian air defenses, or testing out a possible air route to its archenemy Iran.
    Syria announced that it would submit a complaint to the UN Security Council over the alleged IAF entry into Syrian airspace on September 5th during which it alleged Israeli aircraft dropped “live ammunitions”. Speaking though its Foreign Minister, Syria held little hope for success at the body “since it backs Israel it will not condemn it.”  An IDF defense official told The Jerusalem Post, “We are past the peak in the tension and Israel has no interest in going to war against Syria and the Syrians also know they have nothing to gain by going to war with us.” While the tension was lessening, the defense establishment was still closely watching the military buildup along Syria’s side of the Golan Heights. IDF units deployed along the border were still maintaining a high level of alert. Though experts believe the chances of war are slim, the defense establishment is concerned that Syria might decide to respond to the alleged IAF strike with a military reprisal or terrorist attacks – possibly along the Golan Heights or by operating terror cells abroad and in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
    There is speculation that the issue will focus scrutiny on IAF training exercises in Turkish airspace which generally take place in south-central Turkey, far from the Syrian border. In response to the alleged incident, Turkey expressed concern that “such developments may lead to additional tensions at a time when [the] region is passing through a critical period.” Turkey expected “the sides to act with restraint.” The Turkish government would not confirm claims that the IAF planes took off from Turkish territory. Unmarked aircraft fuel tanks were found in two Turkish provinces shortly after the allegations were made.
    Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said recently that “whoever sponsors terrorists will be harmed; we will reach them anywhere.” It was not clear whether those comments referred to Syria. Israel’s official representatives have maintained a complete blackout on any news relating to the matter.
Rabbi Meir said in the Pirke Avot: “Whosoever labors in the Torah for its own sake merits many things; and not only so, but the whole world is indebted to him”.  For six weeks this summer I studied at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem. This was not a college program that I did for credit. The Conservative Yeshiva’s educational philosophy is lishma, learning for the sake of learning, which was why I and over a hundred other Jews of all ages and places were there. The topics varied; I studied Hebrew, Torah, Psalms, Midrash, and countless more subjects. The Conservative Yeshiva let me pick what classes I wanted; I loved how accommodating they were to each person’s Hebrew level and personal Jewish background. There was daily davening, which I led on occasion because not only does the Yeshiva encourage participation but also teaches the service to all willing to learn. The incredible Rabbis and fellow students I have met deepened my connection to Israel and Conservative Judaism. As Rabbi Tarfon said in the infamous selection from Pirke Avot: “If you have studied much Torah, much reward will be given to you”. The reward of lishma, learning for the sake of learning, is unbelievably satisfying that it only makes me want to return to the Conservative Yeshiva and learn. I would urge anyone with the desire to seriously study Judaism in Israel to highly consider this program for next summer.  By: Sharon Rosenblatt

Israel and Young American Jews — The Problem and the Solution
In a troubling article, “So What’s Their Problem With Israel?”, U.S. News & World Report recently focused attention on what it described as the flagging attitude of young American Jews toward support for Israel. The report concluded that “Jews under 35 show greater levels of detachment and even alienation from Israel than do any older age groups of American Jews.” Regrettably, this does not come as much of a surprise to some of us. In fact, as part of the TBS Israel Affairs Committee’s review of the overall feeling in the congregation toward Israel the message came through clearly that young American Jews don’t have the passion toward Israel as did their predecessors.
What changed?
American Jews’ grandparents lived through the horror that was the reality of Hitler’s attempt for the “ultimate solution” only to witness the joint miracles that were the establishment of the State of Israel and its survival in the subsequent war for its annihilation. A generation later, their parents rejoiced in the swift Israeli victory in the 1967 Six Day War. Or, the existential survival of Israel against overwhelming odds from the surprise attack by its Arab neighbors during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The latter, an event that unified America’s Jews as no other as they first prayed in fear for the survival of the Jewish state and then rejoiced in the defeat of its enemies. Entebbe. Peace with Egypt. Success followed success and each gave American Jews a sense of pride from their support of Israel.
What’s the problem?
Israel, now almost 60 years old, has always existed to young Jews. The joy tempered with pain over its birth and panicked concern for its very survival were for others — not them. The problem is that Israel’s survival as a haven for worldwide Jewry is not appreciated for the miracle its existence represents. Is Israel taken for granted by young American Jewry? The article answers this questions by citing the sobering statistic that “less than half (48%) of the under-35 cohort would take the destruction of Israel as a personal tragedy.”
What’s the solution?
The author argues the single event that counters the trend toward disaffection is the effect of visits to Israel. Simply put, “the more American Jews travel to Israel and the more time they spend there, the more attached to it they feel.” The solution is clear: “… for fortifying commitment to Israel and preventing alienation, Israel travel is even more important, and most important for younger Jews.” An excellent way to introduce Jews aged 18-26 to Israel is through the Taglit– Birthright Israel program ( ).

 LINKS . . .
Mitzvah Messenger Project — — The project collects items here that are needed in Israel. They are then carried by messengers with plans to travel to Jerusalem who add them to their luggage. All items are described as being “schmooshable” and may be placed in the suitcase of the courier. The reason for the use of messengers is that the items would be prohibitively expensive to mail to Israel. To date, items delivered through the project have included 250 wedding dresses, 150 bags of baby clothing, 50 bags of school supplies, stuffed animals for sick children, eyeglasses, and various items of clothing. Those wishing to participate as a courier are issued 13 gallon plastic bags with drawstrings full of one type of item so that it may be easily opened for checking during the security process. Once brought to Jerusalem the items can be delivered to an identified drop-off person or it can be picked up where the courier is staying. All contact and drop-off information is provided before leaving for Israel. Mitzvah Messengers are needed due to a large backlog of items needing couriers.

With this issue we inaugurate a new feature, “TBS — Experiences in Israel”. In it, we will print stories relating to experiences that members of the TBS family have had in Israel. If your family has an Israel-related story that you would like to share with the congregation in Israel Matters! please send them to us.
Judging from the positive feedback received, we are gratified that you enjoy reading Israel Matters! Please continue to let us know if there are any matters involving Israel that you would like to see addressed and we will try to accommodate your requests.
As always, we look forward to your comments about Israel Matters! Send them by email to Ed and Randy Berns, Co-chairs of the TBS Israel Affairs Committee, at: