Friday, September 22, 2006

Just in time for Rosh Hashana - polls showing start of national awakening in Israel

1. Shana Tova!

2. Why did Israel lose the last war? Because of thinking like this:
Deputy-General Guy of the Givati Brigades currently patrolling southern
Lebanon said Friday morning that even if Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan
Nasrallah attends the Hizbullah victory rally later that day, the IDF will
not attempt to assassinate him.

3. The Judicial Left suffers yet another defeat.

Fifteen year old Jewish girl, victim of Israeli judicial persecution for
expressing her views, at last released from prison:

4. WSJ Editorial:
September 19, 2006

Benedict the Brave
September 19, 2006; Page A20

It's a familiar spectacle: furious demands for an apology, threats, riots,
violence. Anything can trigger so-called Muslim fury: a novel by a
British-Indian writer, newspaper cartoons in a small Nordic country or,
this past week, a talk on theology by the head of the Roman Catholic

In a lecture on "Faith and Reason" at the University of Regensburg in
Germany, Benedict XVI cited one of the last emperors of Byzantium, Manuel
II Paleologus. Stressing the 14th-century emperor's "startling
brusqueness," the pope quoted him as saying: "Show me just what Mohammed
brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and
inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he

Taken alone, these are strong words. However, the pope didn't endorse the
comment that he twice emphasized was not his own. No matter. As with
Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses," which millions of outraged Muslims
didn't bother to read (including Ayatollah Khomeini, who put the bounty on
the novelist's life), what Benedict XVI meant or even said isn't the
issue. Once again, many Muslim leaders are inciting their faithful against
perceived slights and trying to proscribe how free societies discuss one
of the world's major religions.

Several Iraqi terrorist groups called for attacks on the Vatican. A cleric
linked to Somalia's ruling Islamist movement urged Muslims to "hunt down"
and kill the pope. In an apparently linked attack Sunday in Mogadishu, a
nun was gunned down in a children's hospital. Pakistan's parliament
unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the pontiff and demanding an

Under pressure and no doubt to stop any further violence, the pope on
Sunday did so. "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a
few passages of my address . . . which were considered offensive to the
sensibility of Muslims," he told pilgrims at his Castelgandolfo summer
residence. The quote doesn't "in any way express my personal thought. I
hope this serves to appease hearts."

It was a gracious gesture on the pope's part, especially because his
original argument deserves to be heard, not least by Muslims. The
offending quotation was a small part in a chain of argument that led to
his main thesis about the close relationship between reason and belief.
Without the right balance between the two, the pontiff said, mankind is
condemned to the "pathologies and life-threatening diseases associated
with religion and reason" -- in short, political and religious fanaticism.

In Christianity, God is inseparable from reason. "In the beginning was the
Word," the pope quotes from the Gospel according to John. "God acts with
logos. Logos means both reason and word," he explained. "The inner
rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek philosophical inquiry was
an event of decisive importance not only from the standpoint of history of
religions, but also from that of world history. . . . This convergence,
with the subsequent addition of the Roman heritage, created Europe."

The question raised by the pope is whether this convergence has taken
place in Islam as well. He quotes the Lebanese Catholic theologist
Theodore Khoury, who said that "for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely
transcendent, his will is not bound up with any of our categories." If
this is true, can there be dialogue at all between Islam and the West? For
the pope, the precondition for any meaningful interfaith discussions is a
religion tempered by reason: "It is to this great logos, to this breadth
of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures," he

This is not an invitation to the usual feel-good interfaith round-tables.
It is a request for dialogue with one condition -- that everyone at the
table reject the irrationality of religiously motivated violence. The pope
isn't condemning Islam; he is inviting it to join rather than reject the
modern world.

By their reaction to the pope's speech, some Muslim leaders showed again
that Islam has a problem with modernity that is going to have to be solved
by a debate within Islam. The day Muslims condemn Islamic terror with the
same vehemence they condemn those who criticize Islam, an attempt at
dialogue -- and at improving relations between the Western and Islamic
worlds -- can begin.

URL for this article:

5. Just in time for the Days of Awe - Judgment Day Arrives:
Olmert's popularity plunges; Netanyahu back in the lead
Polls released on Thursday morning showed that public support for Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert has plunged since the war in Lebanon was drawing to
an end.

One poll conducted by Dahaf and published in Yediot Ahronot found that
only 7% said that the prime minister was the most worthy figure to head
the government.

Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu lead the pack, with a 27% approval rating,
followed by Avigdor Liberman with 15%, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni who
received 14%, Vice Premier Shimon Peres 12%, Transportation Minister Shaul
Mofaz 5% and former prime minister Ehud Barak with only 3% of the vote.
Closing the list is Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who until not long ago
had aspirations to become premier, but now has to settle for only a 1%
approval rating.

The Dahaf poll of 499 people had margin of error of 4.5%.

68 percent of those interviewed were unhappy with Olmert's performance,
compared to 40 percent in a poll on August 11 - days before a cease-fire
was declared.

The poll also found that if an election were held today, Netanyahu's Likud
party would win 24 of 120 parliament seats, compared to just 16 for
Kadima, which currently holds 29 seats.

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