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Bernard Madoff’s $50-billion investment fraud wiped billions of dollars from Jewish charities. Madoff the swindler is a close friend of the Diaspora bosses and managed their organizations’ money. The fraternal, completely unsupervised atmosphere allowed Madoff access to Jewish communal coffers. Regrettably, the self-appointed Jewish leaders—who failed to exercise due diligence over the money donated to them by millions of working Jews—won’t be jailed alongside Madoff.

The question arises: why do the charities keep huge amounts of cash when Jewish day schools and similar worthy projects close due to the lack of funding? The immediate answer is that the likes of Madoff benefit from the invested fund, and the “leaders” receive serious kickbacks. Another reason is a popular tax loophole called “planned giving,” when the property, usually inheritance, is transferred to a charity, which then repays its value over the years, allowing the “donor” to switch to a lower tax bracket and avoid capital gains tax.

Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy in Lebanon, called on Egypt to open the border crossing with Gaza and promised mass anti-Egyptian demonstrations in Lebanon.

Egypt is in a difficult situation, as it blockades Gaza just as Israel does. On one hand, arrogant and relatively advanced Egyptians couldn’t care less about other Arabs. On other hand, Egypt cannot accept Iran drawing other Arabs into its orbit.
It would be diplomatically hard for Egypt to open the Rafah crossing in violation of its American-sponsored agreement with Israel. Egypt also doesn’t want a flow of poor, criminal Arabs from Gaza who would radicalize the already unstable Egyptian society. If Obama hints that he would tolerate the Rafah opening, Mubarak would likely lift the blockade implicitly: e.g., by allowing Hamas to break the border barrier.

Shimon Peres and morons like him are proud of this diplomatic achievement. In reality, such intercessions are not only useless but counterproductive. Hamas sees world leaders interceding on behalf of an Israeli corporal, and understands it can up the price for Shalit. Any market trader denigrates the object he’s bargaining for rather than have everyone around praise it.

Israeli media grossly misinterpreted a recent demographic study by Ariel University. According to the report, population growth in the settlements is thrice the Israeli average during the last twelve years. In reality, most of the increase occurred as Israelis, many of them new and poor immigrants, moved to the cheaper West Bank housing. The West Bank’s birth rate is 35 per 1,000 compared to the Israeli average of 20.

But – haredi Jews compose 30 percent of the West Bank population, four times the national average. They have a birth rate approximately four times higher than the national average, so we can guess reliably a birthrate of 80 per 1,000. Thus, out of 1,000 Israeli settlers there are 300 haredim with 24 children; the other 700 settlers have 35-24=11 children, or about 15 per 1,000 – somewhat below the national average of 20 per 1,000. This is because there are plenty of small atheist families in the West Bank, just as in Small Israel.

A year ago, we speculated that the Bush Administration had reached a deal with Iran, in which the mullahs would cut back on their support for Iraqi terrorists in exchange for American tolerance toward their nuclear program.

Rice confirmed our suspicions: the current lull in terrorist attacks in Iraq is due, she said, to the US pressure on Iran. Now, what kind of a pressure can change the minds of mullahs who ignored all international sanctions? The only pressure there was is this: cease supporting terrorism in Iraq or we will put an end to your nuclear program.

As usual, the US Administration used Israel as a bargaining chip with the Arabs.

After police arrested a Muslim who gunned down a rabbi in Raydah, Yemen, other Muslims went on rampage and threw firebombs and grenades into Jewish shops and houses. Less than 400 Jews remain in Yemen; 50,000 left that country after living there for 2,800 years.

The Saudi peace initiative offers Israel peace with Yemeni Jew-haters, among other Arab Jew-hating nations.

The Jews, expelled from all Arab countries, still hesitate to expel their Arabs.

Baruch Marzel and Shalom Wolpe joined hands in the new “Our Eretz Yisrael” party. Baruch Marzel, a long-time assistant of Rabbi Meir Kahane, led the Jewish National Front party.

Shalom Wolpe is a maverick Chabadnik. Among other things, Wolpe publicizes the Rebbe’s saying, “A Palestinian state is a danger to Israel.” The Rebbe famously gave Wolpe his blessing to be poor and spend all his money for the benefit of Jewish people—which he does. Wolpe leads efforts to convince IDF soldiers to refrain from evicting fellow Jews.

Israeli Arab MK Said Nafaa visited the enemy state of Syria and conducted multiple meeting with Hamas in 2007, which is a gross violation of Israeli law. Attorney General Mazuz, so quick to persecute conservative Jews, is still contemplating bringing charges against Nafaa for the clear-cut crime.

A Reuters report confirms the long-standing rumor that Syria demands access to Lake Kineret as part of a peace deal with Israel. Never mind the absurdity of pleading for peace with an Arab aggressor who launched and lost three wars against us, and for the last thirty years has been afraid to so much as bark at Israel.

On the surface, the Kineret shore issue is merely about a few hundred meters of border. In reality, access to Lake Kineret gives Syria marine rights to half of Israel’s only significant aquifer. More than that, the demand is humiliating: the 1922 international border put Syria away from the lake. Syria occupied the seashore during the devastating 1948 War of Independence. So, after losing three wars with Israel, Syria demands that Jews agree to Syrian occupation of Israeli territory, the lake shore. Jews cannot annex the Golan Heights, but Syria can annex the shore.

It must be a high treason for Israeli negotiators even to listen to such demands.

According to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, fully 30 percent of the Palestinian population oppose even the Saudi peace plan, which offers peace with Israel in exchange for demolishing all Jewish settlements and relinquishing the Temple Mount to the Palestinians. That is, about a million Palestinians reject coexistence with Israel on any terms whatsoever. That’s about fifty times the size of Hamas’ armed forces.

Half of Israelis reject any concessions to Palestinians, while two-thirds reject the mass eviction of Jews from the West Bank settlements.

Britain’s Business Secretary Mandelson, a renegade Jew, called for strengthening British economic ties with Palestine. The “cooperation” (exports, that is) is economically insignificant to Britain. Mandelson’s only agenda is political, to bring Britain closer to its traditional Arab allies.

At the same time, many organizations in Britain push for an economic boycott of Israel, who dares defend herself against Arab murderers.

Haaretz reports the resumption of talks on supplying S-300 anti-aircraft batteries to Iran. The Russian move is likely fake: the Israeli Air Force has already proven its ability to jam the stripped-down export version of S-300 in Cyprus exercises. Russians wouldn’t want to see their major weapon discredited in an Israeli attack on Iran. Accordingly, the aim of the negotiations is to re-position Russia as a power to be consulted on Middle Eastern affairs. To that end, Russian diplomats recently defended Iran’s right to a nuclear program and opposed sanctions or military operations in Iran. Russia has fully returned to the Soviet policy of gaining international respect by stirring up trouble everywhere.

Against the background of the financial crisis, Sohnut (Jewish Agency) drastically cut back on its activities. In particular, Sohnut closed Israel’s oldest ulpan (Hebrew school for new immigrants). Downsizing Sohnut is not a bad thing because the agency has long outlived its usefulness: in the absence of aliyah, it thought up various harmful projects, including procurement of fake Jews from Ethiopia.

But it is only for Jews that Sohnut lacks money. After a bus with Russian tourists overturned near Eilat, Sohnut rushed to offer compensation to families of the victims.
In Egypt, tourist buses overturn almost weekly with significant casualties, but somehow the reasonable Arab government doesn’t see it as its business to compensate the victims. The tour was private, the bus was private, the tourists were private citizens—so why should Sohnut spend public money on them?

The Israeli Supreme Court confirmed the local and district courts’ orders releasing Zeev Braudo to house arrest. Police demanded that Zeev, with his broken hand and head concussion, remain in custody until his trial for provoking poor Arabs into beating him almost to death.

The court’s decision came with tongue in cheek: an adult must accompany Zeev twenty-four hours a day every day. The trick is in adult rather than adults: one adult must be with Zeev all the time. Obviously, that can only be his wife, who is now effectively under house arrest along with him. The Braudo family is left with no earners.

December 2008
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