And that is all.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

I give you PSALM 125 to contemplate while I work on my new posts.....

Psalm 125

A Song of Ascents.
THOSE WHO trust in, lean on, and confidently hope in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides and stands fast forever.

As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people from this time forth and forever.

For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest upon the land of the [uncompromisingly] righteous, lest the righteous (God's people) stretch forth their hands to iniquity and apostasy.

Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are right [with You and all people] in their hearts.

As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways [of indifference to God], the Lord will lead them forth with the workers of iniquity.

Peace be upon Israel!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Divisiveness, Diversity, and Distinction


Divisiveness, Diversity, and Distinction

Which is a dispute that is not for the sake of Heaven?
The dispute of Korachand all his company
- Ethics of the Fathers, 5:17

Korach, Moses' mutinous cousin, earned the dubious distinction of father and prototype of all quarrelers and divisors. His very name became synonymous with disharmony and conflict. The Talmud goes so far as to proclaim: "Anyone who engages in divisiveness transgresses a Divine prohibition, as it is written: `And he shall not be as Korach and his company' when the Torah wishes to tell us not to agitate disputes and perpetuate disunity, it does so by saying: Don't be like Korach...."

But Korach was no ordinary rabble rouser. He was a leading member of Kehotties, the most prestigious of the Levite families. Joining him in his mutiny against Moses and Aaron were "two hundred and fifty men of Israel leaders of the community, of those regularly called to assembly, men of renown." Korach's difference with Moses was an ideological one, motivated by the way in which he understood Israel's relationship with the Almighty and by the manner in which he felt the nation ought to be structured. And Korach went a lot further than engaging in divisive community politics. He rebelled against the authority of Moses and contested G d's appointment of Aaron as Kohen Gadol (High Priest).

So how is it that every petty squabbler is included in the prohibition ``not to be as Korach''? Obviously, there is something at the heart of Korach's contentions that is the essence of all disunity.

Often, the antithesis of a certain quality is superficially identical to it. This is especially so when it comes to the "root" of a matter: a hairline distinction between two seemingly similar concepts actually translates into all the difference in the world.

The same is true of "peace" and "divisiveness." The source of all divisiveness is something that misleadingly resembles true peace. It is this pseudo peace that lay at the heart of Korach's misguided vision and which ultimately led to his corruption and catastrophic end.

What Exactly Did Korach Want?

What is peace?

"Just as their faces are not alike, so, too, their minds and characters are not alike." Such is the nature of the human race: individuals and peoples differ from each other, divided by distinctions in outlook, emotional orientation, expertise, vocation, and the many other differences, great and small, which set them apart from each other.

Often, these differences give rise to animosity and conflict. And yet, at the core of the human soul is the yearning for peace. We intuitively sense that despite the tremendous (and apparently inherent) differences between us, a state of universal harmony is both desirable and attainable. But what exactly is peace? Is peace the obliteration of the differences between men and nations? Is it the creation of a "separate but equal" society in which differences are preserved but without any distinctions of "superior" and "inferior"? Or is it neither of the above?

But let us examine Korach's dispute. If we understand Korach, we will also understand the fine line that divides true peace from the essence of divisiveness.

What exactly did Korach want? His arguments against Moses and Aaron seem fraught with contradiction. On the one hand, he seems to challenge the very institution of the priesthood (kehunah), maintaining that "as the entire community is holy, and G d is within them, why do you raise yourselves over the congregation of G d?" But from Moses' response we see that Korach actually desired the office of the Kohen Gadol for himself!

This paradox appears time and again in various accounts of Korach's mutiny, in the midrashim and the commentaries. Korach comes across a champion of equality, railing against a "class system" that categorizes levels of holiness within the community (Israelites, Levites, Priests and the High Priest). Yet, in the same breath, he contends that he is the more worthy candidate for the High Priesthood.

Heavenly Waters, Earthly Waters

In the Torah's account of G d's six day creation of the world, each day's work concludes with the statement: "And G d saw what He had created, and behold, it was good." Each day, that is, except the second day, the day that "G d made the firmament [of the heaven], and divided between the waters which are below the firmament and the waters which are above the firmament."

Explains the Midrash: "Why does it not say `it was good' on the second day? Because on that day divisiveness was created; as it is written `it shall divide between water and water.'" However, the Midrash then goes on to point out that on the third day the Torah says, "it was good" twice, because then "the work of the waters," begun on the second day, was completed. In other words, the division effected on the second day was a less than desirable phenomenon, but only because it was not yet complete; on the third day, this divisiveness itself is deemed "good."

Our sages tell us that G d's six days of creation correspond to the six millennia of human endeavor that follow. Therein lies the significance of the Midrash's words: in the third millennium of the world's existence, the element that resolves the conflicts created by diversity was introduced into our lives. This is the Torah, revealed to us at Sinai in the year 2448 from creation.

The Torah "was given to make peace in the world" : peace between the conflicting drives within the heart of man, peace between individuals, peace between peoples, and peace between the creation and its Creator.

The Midrash expresses the peacemaking quality of Torah with the following metaphor:

Once there was a king who decreed: "The people of Rome are forbidden to descend to Syria, and the people of Syria are forbidden to ascend to Rome." Likewise, when G d created the world He decreed and said: "The heavens are G d's, and the earth is given to man." But when He wished to give the Torah to Israel, He rescinded His original decree, and declared: "The lower realms may ascend to the higher realms, and the higher realms may descend to the lower realms."

The schism and decree to separate the heavenly from the earthly, effected by G d's "division of the waters" on the second day of creation, was thus alleviated on the third "day" of history with the revelation at Sinai. No longer were the material and the spiritual two irreconcilable realms. On that day, ``G-d descended upon Mount Sinai,'' ``And to Moses He said, come up to G-d.'' G d reached down to impart of His holiness to the world, and man was empowered to achieve a closeness to G d.

But the Torah does not come to blur the distinction between the holy and the mundane. Nor does it endeavor to create a uniform world society. This would hardly qualify as a state of "peace" any more than a single hued painting or a symphony composed entirely of identical notes could be said to be a "harmonious" creation.

The Torah makes peace in the world by defining the differing roles (man and woman, Jew and non Jew, Israelite, Levite and Kohen, scholar and layman) to comprise the overall mission of humanity.

This is why the Torah is associated with the number three: a single entity or collection of identical entities can spell unanimity but not peace. If "one" represents singularity and "two" connotes divisiveness, then "three" expresses the concept of peace: the existence of two different or even polar entities, but with the addition of a third, unifying element that embraces and pervades them both, containing their differences as diverse but harmonious components of a greater whole.

The "third day" does not undo the divisions of the second. Rather, it introduces a "third" all transcendent element that they all apply their own unique qualities to serve. And it is this introduction of harmony to diversity that "completes" it and renders it "good."

Back To Korach

In light of this, Korach felt, how can we speak of "higher" and "lower" roles in G d's world? How can one say that the High Priest is loftier than the common laborer? True, the Kohen Gadol's life is wholly devoted to spiritual pursuits while the "ordinary" Israelite must contend with the mundanity of the marketplace. But "within them is G d" they serve the Divine purpose no less in the fulfillment of their role than does the Kohen Gadol in the fulfillment of his.

Korach was not opposed to division of the community by vocation, nor to the distinction between spiritual and material. On the contrary, he himself yearned for the spiritual path of the High Priesthood, to serve the Almighty utterly disinvolved from worldly affairs. What he did contest was the way in which Moses defined the division of roles within the people.

"Why do you raise yourselves over the congregation of G d?," he argued. Why this "ladder" of spirituality on which the Moseses and Aarons of the generation occupy a higher rung than the farmer who works his land or the merchant engrossed in his accounts? Why is the "ordinary" Jew told to see Aaron as the one who represents him in the Sanctuary and who facilitates his relationship with G d? Is G d closer to heaven than to earth? Is serving Him by transcending the material more important a part of humanity's mission than utilizing the material existence to fulfill His will? Give me the High Priesthood, said Korach, and I will eliminate the connotations of "leadership" and "superiority" that Moses and Aaron have given it. To me, the most spiritual and the most material bond of lifestyles, and all gradations between, are all distinct but parallel paths in our endeavor to serve the Almighty.

Korach's vision seems the paragon of harmony: diverse elements unified by a common goal. And yet, in neglecting to incorporate a crucial aspect of the Torah's conception of peace, it became the source of all divisiveness and discord.

Korach's "separate but equal" world may unite its various components in that they all serve the same overall goal, but it fails to provide for any connection between them. The paths may converge at the destination, but they are separated by walls which isolate and divide them. And without a give and take relationship between them, without any sense of where they stand vis-a-vis each other, their separateness will inevitably disintegrate into factionalism and conflict.

If we refer back to the Midrash's parable of the Romans and the Syrians, we can see where Korach's vision departs from with the Torah's definition of peace. The distinction between the two realms (the material and the spiritual) is preserved, but there is movement and interrelation between them. And their relationship is defined in terms of "higher" and "lower": the heavenly descends to earth and the earthly ascends to heaven.

As seen by Torah, the gradations of spirituality among the various segments of the people does take the form of a "ladder" a ladder on which the material bound individual looks up to the his more spiritual brother, and the more spiritual reaches down to provide direction and inspiration to the material bound. The farmer gives of his produce to the Kohen; he regards this gift as the holiest part of his yield, as it represents the spiritual focus of all his endeavors. The businessman looks to the scholar as the ideal; he feels trapped and stifled by the demands of his vocation and lives for the daily few minutes which he manages to devote to study.

And the spiritual leader descends to uplift his community. G d defines Aaron's role as one who "raises the lamps" : in addition to (and because of) his "personal" spiritual service of the Almighty, Aaron is the flame which ignites the "soul of man a lamp of G d" calling forth its luminary potential.

All this is not because those who fill the more spiritual roles are more important to the Divine purpose than those who serve it through their involvement with the material. On the contrary, G d's purpose in creation, say our sages, is that ``He desired a dwelling in the lowly realms'' - that the lower realm of the material be transformed into an environment that is hospitable and receptive to His being. In carrying this out, those on the "lowest rung" must play the most central and crucial role. But their specialty lies precisely in that they deal with the lowest elements of creation (that is, those which least express the reality of G d in any manifest way) and direct them towards the higher purpose of serving their Creator.

The moment the material bound individual begins to feel comfortable in his environment, the moment he ceases his striving to escape the material, then, no longer can he truly sublimate it he is now part of it. Only by seeing himself on the bottom looking up, only when his involvement with the mundane is forced by the call of duty as his soul yearns for a more spiritual existence, is he in the position to truly elevate his environment.

Interestingly enough, although Korach disavowed this "vertical" connection between matter and spirit, he himself was a prime example of it. Korach's desire for the High Priesthood, his yearning upward for a rung on the ladder more spiritual than his own, was a positive ambition and the ultimate refutation of his own divisive "peace."

Introductory reading to Ethics of the Fathers:
All Israel has a share in the World to Come, as is stated: ``And your people are all righteous; they shall inherit the land forever. They are the shoot of My planting, the work of My hands, in which I take pride.'' (Sanhedrin, 11:1)

Chapter Five

1. The world was created with ten utterances. What does this come to teach us? Certainly, it could have been created with a single utterance. However, this is in order to make the wicked accountable for destroying a world that was created with ten utterances, and to reward the righteous for sustaining a world that was created with ten utterances.

2. There were ten generations from Adam to Noah. This is to teach us the extent of G-d's tolerance; for all these generations angered Him, until He brought upon them the waters of the Flood.

There were ten generations from Noah to Abraham. This is to teach us the extent of G-d's tolerance; for all these generations angered Him, until Abraham came and reaped the reward for them all. 3. With ten tests our father Abraham was tested and he withstood them all---in order to make known how great was the love of our father Abraham [for G-d].

4. Ten miracles were performed for our forefathers in Egypt, and another ten at the sea. Ten afflictions were wrought by G-d upon the Egyptians in Egypt, and another ten at the sea. With ten tests our forefathers tested G-d in the desert, as is stated, ``They tested Me these ten times, and did not harken to My voice.''

5. Ten miracles were performed for our forefathers in the Holy Temple: No woman ever miscarried because of the smell of the holy meat. The holy meat never spoiled. Never was a fly seen in the slaughterhouse. Never did the High Priest have an accidental seminal discharge on Yom Kippur. The rains did not extinguish the wood-fire burning upon the altar. The wind did not prevail over the column of smoke [rising from the altar]. No disqualifying problem was ever discovered in the omer offering, the ``two loaves'' or the showbread. They stood crowded but had ample space in which to prostate themselves. Never did a snake or scorpion cause injury in Jerusalem. And no man ever said to his fellow ``My lodging in Jerusalem is too cramped for me.''

6. Ten things were created at twilight of Shabbos eve. These are: the mouth of the earth; the mouth of the well; the mouth of the donkey; the rainbow; the mannah; the staff [of Moses]; the shamir; the writing, the inscription and the tablets [of the Ten Commandments]. Some say also the burial place of Moses and the ram of our father Abraham. And some say also the spirits of destruction as well as the original tongs, for tongs are made with tongs.

7. There are seven things that characterize a boor, and seven that characterize a wise man. A wise man does not speak before one who is greater than him in wisdom or age. He does not interrupt his fellow's words. He does not hasten to answer. His questions are on the subject and his answers to the point. He responds to first things first and to latter things later. Concerning what he did not hear, he says ``I did not hear.'' He concedes to the truth. With the boor, the reverse of all these is the case.

8. Seven types of retribution come to the world, for seven types of sin. When some tithe and others don't, a hunger caused by turmoil ensues: some are hungry, others have their fill of food. When all are unanimous in their failure to tithe, a hunger by drought ensues. For not separating chalah, an utter, annihilating huger results.

Plagues come to the world for those capital crimes mentioned in the Torah that have not been given over to the beth-din, and for desecrating the produce of the sabbatical year.

The sword comes to the world for the procrastination of justice, the corruption of justice, and because of those who misinterpret the Torah.

9. Carnage by wild beasts comes to the world for false oaths and the desecration of G-d's name.

Exile come to the world for idol-worship, sexual promiscuity, murder and the failure to leave the land fallow on the sabbatical year.

There are four time-periods when plagues increase: on the fourth and seventh years [of the sabbatical cycle], on the year following the seventh, and following the festivals of each year. On the fourth year, because of [the neglect of] the tithe to the poor that must be given on the third year; on the seventh, because of the tithe to the poor that must be given on the sixth; on the year after the seventh, because of the produce of the sabbatical year; and following each festival, because of the robbing of the poor of the gifts due to them.

10. There are four types of people: One who says, ``What is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine'' is a boor. One who says ``What is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours''---this is a median characteristic; others say that this is the character of a Sodomite. One who says, ``What is mine is yours, and what is yours is yours'' is a chassid (pious one ). And one who says ``What is mine is mine, and what is yours is mine'' is wicked.

11. There are four types of temperaments. One who is easily angered and easily appeased---his virtue cancels his flaw. One whom it is difficult to anger and difficult to appease---his flaw cancels his virtue. One whom it is difficult to anger and is easily appeased, is a chassid. One who is easily angered and is difficult to appease, is wicked.

12. There are four types of student. One who is quick to understand and quick to forget---his flaw cancels his virtue. One who is slow to understand and slow to forget---his virtue cancels his flaw. One who is quick to understand and slow to forget---his is a good portion. One who is slow to understand and quick to forget---his is a bad portion.

13. There are four types of contributors to charity. One who wants to give but does not want others to give---is begrudging of others. One who wants that others should give but does not want to give---begrudges himself. One who wants that he as well as others should give, is a chassid. One who want neither himself nor others to give, is wicked.

14. There are four types among those who attend the study hall. One who goes but does nothing---has gained the rewards of going. One who does [study] but does not go to the study hall---has gained the rewards of doing. One who goes and does, is a chassid. One who neither goes nor does, is wicked.

15. There are four types among those who sit before the sages: the sponge, the funnel, the strainer and the sieve. The sponge absorbs all. The funnel takes in at one end and lets it out the other. The strainer rejects the wine and retains the sediment. The sieve rejects the coarse flour and retains the fine flour.

16. Any love that is dependent on something---when the thing ceases, the love also ceases. But a love that is not dependent on anything never ceases. Which is a love that is dependent on something? The love of Amnon for Tamar. And one that is not dependent on anything? The love of David and Jonathan.

17. Any dispute that is for the sake of Heaven is destined to endure; one that is not for the sake of Heaven is not destined to endure. Which is a dispute that is for the sake of Heaven? The dispute(s) between Hillel and Shamai. Which is a dispute that is not for the sake of Heaven? The dispute of Korach and all his company.

18. One who causes the community to be meritorious, no sin will come by his hand. One who causes the community to sin, is not given the opportunity to repent. Moses was meritorious and caused the community to be meritorious, so the community's merit is attributed to him; as is stated, ``He did G-d's righteousness, and His laws with Israel.'' Jeroboam the son of Nebat sinned and caused the community to sin, so the community's sin is attributed to him; as is stated, ``For the sins of Jeroboam, which he sinned and caused Israel to sin.''

19. Whoever possesses the following three traits is of the disciples of our father Abraham; and whoever possesses the opposite three traits is of the disciples of the wicked Bilaam. The disciples of our father Abraham have a good eye, a meek spirit and a humble soul. The disciples of the wicked Bilaam have an evil eye, a haughty spirit and a gross soul. What is the difference between the disciples of our father Abraham and the disciples of the wicked Bilaam? The disciples of our father Abraham benefit in this world and inherit the World To Come, and is stated, ``To bequeath to those who love Me there is, and their treasures I shall fill.'' The disciples of the wicked Bilaam inherit purgatory and descent into the pit of destruction, as is stated, ``And You, G-d, shall cast them into the pit of destruction; bloody and deceitful men, they shall not attain half their days. And I shall trust in you.''

20. Judah the son of Teima would say: Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, fleeting as a deer and mighty as a lion to do the will of your Father in Heaven. He would also say: The brazen---to purgatory; the bashful---to paradise. May it be Your will, L-rd our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that the Holy Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days; and grant us our portion in Your Torah.

21. Ben Bag Bag would say: Delve and delve into it, for all is in it; see with it; grow old and worn in it; do not budge from it, for there is nothing better.

Ben Hei Hei would say: According to the pain is the gain.

22. He would also say: Five years is the age for the study of Scripture. Ten, for the study of Mishnah. Thirteen, for the obligation to observe the mitzvot. Fifteen, for the study of Talmud. Eighteen, for marriage. Twenty, to pursue [a livelihood]. Thirty, for strength Forty, for understanding. Fifty, for counsel. Sixty, for sageness. Seventy, for elderness. Eighty, for power. Ninety, to stoop. A hundred-year-old is as one who has died and passed away and has been negated from the world.

Studied at the conclusion of each lesson of the Ethics: Rabbi Chananiah the son of Akashiah would say: G-d desired to merit the people of Israel; therefore, He gave them Torah and mitzvot in abundance. As is stated, ``G-d desired, for sake of his righteousness, that Torah be magnified and made glorious.'' (Makot, 3:16)

FBI's Mueller: Al-Qaida Has Intent to Use Nuclear Weapons

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller's speech

Monday 6/11/07 at the

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism conference in Miami

FBI's Mueller: Al-Qaida Has Intent to Use Nuclear Weapons

Good morning. It is an honor to be here with all of you today.

My thanks to Governor Crist and Mayor Diaz for joining us this morning, and to all those who organized this conference.

I also want to welcome Assistant Secretary John Rood and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak from the Kazakhstan conference. We appreciate your joining us, especially given the time difference.

We are here to discuss one of the most dangerous and deadly threats we face: nuclear terrorism. Few threats fall into the same class in terms of sheer devastation, damage, and loss. Few strike such fear in the hearts of the public. And few threats are so appealing to terrorists around the world, for the same reasons.

It has been said that the September 11th attacks were a "failure of imagination." We cannot fail to imagine the consequences of a nuclear terrorist attack. Nor can we fail to imagine that there are those for whom such an event is the end game.

Prevention must be our end game. Should there be a nuclear attack anywhere in the world, it would mean in some sense that we have failed in our mission. That is why we are here this week.

This morning, I want to talk about the threat of nuclear terrorism. I want to touch on our collective efforts in the United States to keep our citizens safe. And I want to discuss what we in the international community must do to contain this threat.

Our roadmap is clear. We must start with the source: we must secure loose nuclear material. We must share intelligence about those who wish to buy and sell such material, and we must stop those who do. Most importantly, we must stand strong together, for nuclear terrorism is a global threat that requires a global response.

Assessment of the Threat

By some estimates, there is enough highly enriched uranium in global stockpiles to construct thousands of nuclear weapons. And it is safe to assume that there are many individuals who would not think twice about using such weapons.

The economics of supply and demand dictate that someone, somewhere, will provide nuclear material to the highest bidder, and that material will end up in the hands of terrorists.

Al Qaeda has demonstrated a clear intent to acquire weapons of mass destruction. In 1993, Osama bin Laden attempted to buy uranium from a source in the Sudan. He has stated that it is Al Qaeda's duty to acquire weapons of mass destruction. And he has made repeated recruiting pitches for experts in chemistry, physics, and explosives to join his terrorist movement.

Bin Laden is no small thinker. Prior to 2001, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – the mastermind of the September 11th attacks – suggested flying a small plane filled with explosives into CIA Headquarters. As noted by the 9/11 Commission, bin Laden reportedly asked him, "Why do you use an axe when you can use a bulldozer?"

If 9/11 was the "bulldozer" of which bin Laden spoke, we can only imagine the impact of a full-scale nuclear attack.

Unfortunately, Al Qaeda central is not our only concern. We face threats from other terrorist cells around the world, and from homegrown terrorists who are not affiliated with Al Qaeda, but who are inspired by its message of hatred and violence.

Several rogue nations – and even individuals – seek to develop nuclear capabilities. Abdul Khan, for example, was not only the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, he peddled that technology to North Korea, Libya, and Iran. Khan was one of many to prove that it is indeed a seller's market in the so-called atomic bazaar.

We have often said that the next terrorist attack is not a question of if, but when. If we up the ante to a nuclear terrorist attack, we know it is a question of if, but we cannot let it become a question of when. Now is the time to act.

Our Collective Efforts to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism

I want to talk for a moment about our collective roles in combatting nuclear terrorism. While the FBI investigates all acts of terrorism in the United States, the prevention of a nuclear attack is a responsibility shared by many. Our investigations are joint efforts in every sense.

In October 2005, for example, a radiation sensor at the Port of Colombo, in Sri Lanka, triggered an alarm for an outbound shipping container. The container was sent to sea before it could be examined.

Working with their Sri Lankan counterparts, personnel from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy determined that the suspect container could be on one of six ships, three of which were bound for New York. Officials around the world, from Italy to India, screened various containers on these ships as they moved from port to port. Scientists from Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Laboratory worked with FBI experts to analyze why the sensor may have been triggered, and whether any of the containers held weapons-grade nuclear material. FBI agents and analysts searched computer databases for criminal or terrorist ties to the ships in question.

We worked with our state and local counterparts in New York and New Jersey to put response plans into place. As three of the ships pulled into the Port of Newark, FBI personnel and officials from the United States Coast Guard, and Customs and Border Protection, screened and secured several containers.

Although this investigation turned out to be nothing more than the disposal of scrap metal mixed with radioactive material, it illustrates the need for a quick and a coordinated response.

That coordination begins with training. We need to know how best to respond to a pending threat before a real need arises. To that end, we routinely train with federal, state, and local agencies and first responders.

The FBI's Hazardous Devices School, for instance, provides bomb disposal training, using state-of-the-art equipment. In the past 36 years, we have trained more than 20,000 first responders, and nearly 3,000 bomb technicians stand ready to respond if we are threatened with a nuclear terrorist attack.

We also train our law enforcement counterparts across the country and around the world to detect, deter, and disrupt weapons of mass destruction. Field exercises include the smuggling, sale, transport, and use of hazardous material.

The International Counterproliferation Program, for example, is a partnership of the FBI, the Department of Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Together, we are training our foreign partners in WMD detection, border security, undercover investigations, nuclear forensics, and crisis management. To date, we have trained more than 5,000 participants from more than 23 countries.

This September, for example, four of our partners in this Global Initiative – Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Georgia – will participate in an integrated exercise. We will run a hypothetical threat of a radiological dispersal device from start to finish, to see whether we are solid, and where we need to improve.

By training together, we can better work together. In recent years, we have worked with many of you on highly sensitive matters related to the trafficking and threatened use of nuclear material. I am not able to discuss those cases today, because the details remain classified.

The mere existence of these cases, however, with buyers seeking to obtain nuclear materials and willing sellers peddling samples, illustrates the size and the seriousness of the threats we face. These cases also illustrate the continued need for information sharing and collaboration.

Containing the Threat of Nuclear Terrorism

Let me spend a moment discussing how best to contain the threat of nuclear terrorism.

We all face the prospect that at some point in the near future, a terrorist will steal, smuggle, buy, or build a nuclear weapon. We must focus on prevention; we cannot afford to wait for a calling card to announce an attack.

Strong intelligence is our primary asset. We must collect intelligence from those closest to the threat, from port security and border control to state and local law enforcement. And we must share that intelligence with those who need it.

But intelligence alone is not enough. If we uncover information about potential nuclear trafficking or a pending plot, we must be able to move at a moment's notice.

We cannot sit back and wait for others to act. To do so is to continue to feed the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last, as Winston Churchill once said. Our safety lies in protecting not just our own interests, but our collective interests.

We cannot simply hope that stockpiles will be secure, that smugglers will somehow be stopped, that devices will fail to detonate. Hope alone will not suffice.

Each and every country must safeguard its nuclear material. Those who run the black market must be locked up and shut down. Possessing, peddling, and purchasing nuclear material must be prosecuted. And terrorists must be cut off at the source.

Our greatest weapon is unity. That unity is built on intelligence and interagency cooperation. It is built on the idea that, together, we are smarter and stronger than we are standing alone.

No person, no police officer, no agency, and no country can prevent a nuclear terrorist attack on its own. There are too many unlocked doors and unknown players, too many ports and porous borders.

Yet together, we can stop the smuggling of nuclear material. We can stop those who seek to buy such material on the black market. And we can stop terrorists from using this technology to threaten our citizens. We can, and we must.

Throughout the Cold War, the threat of nuclear attack loomed large. In 1962, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy addressed the American people, saying, "My fellow citizens, let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous effort on which we have set out ... Many months of sacrifice and self-discipline lie ahead ... months in which many threats and denunciations will keep us aware of our dangers. But the greatest danger of all would be to do nothing."

The dark days of the Cold War have been relegated to the history books. The United States and Russia ultimately resolved many of their differences through deft diplomacy. But terrorists do not want a seat at the diplomatic table. They do not respond to reason or rationale, nor do they share any desire for peace and prosperity. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Indeed, the greatest danger for each of us here today would be to do nothing. We must take action. And we must do so together. Our safety can only be secured with the help of the international community.

Years ago, we stood across from one another, divided by walls and different ways of life. Today, we stand together in this Global Initiative. We are united in a common cause. It is my sincere hope that in the years to come, we will have no need to meet to address this threat. Let us begin to make that hope a reality.

Thank you and God bless.


A veritable genius!
Bill Clinton expects 21st century to be less violent than 20th

Morality: A Catch-22?

"Torah" by BabbaZee 2003

Morality: A Catch-22?

~ By Levi Brackman

"Ninety percent of my students," the president of a local university told me, "are moral relativists." Moral Relativism, which is practically the state religion of collegiate America, asserts that there is no such thing as supreme moral standards; rather, each society's morality is relative to its own cultural and historical influences.

According to this view, there is no behavior which could be universally wrong. The moral relativist might personally believe a certain behavior to be wrong, but cannot say that the same would apply for others.

In contrast, Moral Absolutism is the belief that there are universal moral standards by which behaviors can be judged. Indeed, the moral absolutist would argue that the prevalence of moral relativism among our country's educated youth is an existential threat to the civilized society America prides itself to be.

The moment we believe that our own values and morals may be negotiable in other societies and cultures, the imperative to conserve these values in our own society is significantly reduced. Consequently, the very foundations of our society are threatened.
But moral absolutism comes with its own set of dangers. We pride ourselves in being a society in which each individual is entitled to make his own decisions on matters of conscience. How would these rights hold up in a society where moral absolutism holds sway? Indeed, the conflict between radical Islam and western liberal democracy falls along similar lines.

Radical Islam would like to impose its moral view on others, and democracies are fighting for individual freedoms.
Choosing between moral absolutism and moral relativism seems like having to decide between two evils of equal intensity. If moral relativism leads to chaos and moral absolutism to tyranny, what's left? Judaism's remarkable response to this dilemma is both balanced and instructive.

Judaism sees morality as absolute. Yet, although it has many moral laws and norms by which Jews are expected to live, its universal morality--the laws which Judaism believes should apply equally to all peoples and cultures--are very basic. Called the seven Noahide laws, the first six are prohibitions against murder, stealing, adultery, cruelty to animals, idolatry and blasphemy.

Thus, Judaism is minimalistic rather than imperialistic about the application of Judaic moral standards on others. Instead of presenting the world with a lawbook, it institutes the seventh Noahide law, which states that justice systems must be set up in each civilization. In other words, each society should decide, through its own regulatory system of justice, which additional moral rules, aside from the six fundamental Noahide laws, should be binding upon itself.

By limiting the number of universally absolute moral laws to the basic half dozen, and then mandating each culture to institute others as they see fit, Judaism treads a middle path between moral relativism and moral absolutism.

Clearly, without a minimum few incontrovertible moral principles, a society has no moral foundations upon which to stand. But on that foundation, each society, drawing on its distinct historic and cultural influences, must decide on the moral issues that confront its day-to-day navigation of civil life.

~ Rabbi Levi I. Brackman is director of Judaism in the Foothills and the author of numerous articles on issues of the day.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Olmert/Bush meeting post at LGF


Unfortunately I am out of time for the afternoon and can't get a post together fast enough on the Olmert and Bush meeting at the White House.

However I do intend to do something very long and comprehensive and get it up tomorrow or the next day...

I am linking the LGF article post and thread here

Read the comments if you want to see some full throttle Spleen,
I blew my nap posting on that thread, LOL!

Memories of better days, dedicated to my friend, an Occasional Reader


This just in from operative "Grumpy":

Guest podcaster Keith Oldermann graciously consented to send this clarifying message to President Bush:

“The strategy of arming one group of terrorists to fight another group of terrorists has proven to be a spectacular failure. So what do we do? Pour more money into the pockets of the PLO.

“President Bush also lent critical support in a phone call to Abbas, who called for a resumption of Mideast peace talks. The Bush administration is expected to soon lift its sanctions on the Palestinian government now that it no longer includes the Islamic Hamas.”

Tell us, please Mr Bush, how lending support to one Jew-hating killer in his fight with other Jew-hating killers is good for America!

Tell America, please, how ANY SUPPORT AT ALL for these Jew-hating, Baha’i-murdering, America-hating killers and murderers can reflect America’s ideals of freedom, truth and justice for all?

Soon, the standard Muslim offer will be made,
Submit and (pay for the privilege of living),
or Die.
Submit, Convert (to Islam) or Die!

If there’s some part of this Koran-based, standard, moderate Muslim mindset that you DO NOT UNDERSTAND, Mr Bush, ask us and we’ll explain.

If Muslim terrorists don’t kill us first!”

Keith Oldermann
Hamas = Fatah


Wake up and smell the Mahdi - Sorry I had to take the story down


I am contacting you regarding the following unauthorized reprint:

We did not provide you written permission to reprint this material and therefore this is a copyright violation. Please remove this content from your website as soon as possible.

I await your response.



Erich Marquardt

Program Manager, Global Terrorism Analysis

The Jamestown Foundation


Note from the Spleen:

I had always thought that if a source link was posted there was no problem linking to any stories on the net
Guess I was wrong!

So sorry.........go to Jamestown to read this story



Even these pathetic assholes understand how dangerous he is.

This from April 2007:

And here you see The Truth about Moqtada's penetration in the Iraqi Army

Grounded in Fantasy says Glick. Compliciots, says The Spleen.

She is far kinder than I am.
I say they are complicit idiots - compliciots, and the depth of this thing knows no end.

Grounded in Fantasy

By Caroline B. Glick

WHY are Bush and Olmert set to embrace Fatah and Abbas today? Why are they abjectly refusing to come to terms with the strategic reality of the Iranian-Syrian onslaught? Why are they insisting that the establishment of a Palestinian state is their strategic goal and doing everything they can to pretend that their goal has not been repeatedly proven absurd?
Iran and its client state Syria have a strategic vision for the Middle East. They wish to take over Lebanon. They wish to destroy Israel. They wish to defeat the US in Iraq. They wish to drive the US and NATO from Afghanistan. They wish to dominate the region by driving the rest of the Arab world to its jihad-supporting knees. Then they wish to apply their vision to the rest of the world. Today, Syria and Iran are ardently advancing their strategic vision for the world through a deliberate strategy of victory by a thousand cuts.

Last week's Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip; Sunday's reopening of the Lebanese front against Israel with the Syrian-ordered rocket attacks on Kiryat Shemona; the now five-week old Syrian ordered low-intensity warfare against Lebanon's pro-Western Siniora government; last week's attack on the al-Askariya mosque in Samarra; the recent intensification of terrorism in Afghanistan and Iran's move to further destabilize the country by violently deporting 100,000 Afghan refugees back to the war-torn country — all of these are moves to advance this clear Iranian-Syrian strategy.
And all these moves have taken place against the backdrop of Syria's refashioning of its military in the image of Hizbullah on steroids and Iran's relentless, unopposed progress in its nuclear weapons program. For their part, both the US and Israel also have a strategic vision. Unfortunately, it is grounded in fantasy. WASHINGTON and Jerusalem wish to solve all the problems of the region and the world by establishing a Palestinian state in Gaza, Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.

While Israel now faces Iranian proxies on two fronts, in their meeting at the White House today US President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will gush about their support for Palestinian statehood. Creepily echoing LSD king Timothy Leary, they will tune out this reality as they drone on about the opportunities that Gaza's transformation into a base for global jihad afford to the notion that promoting the Fatah terrorist organization's control over Judea and Samaria can make the world a better, safer, happier place.
Today Bush and Olmert will announce their full support for Fatah chief and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas's new government. The US will intensify General Keith Dayton's training and arming of Fatah forces. Israel will give Fatah $700 million.

The Europeans and the rest of the international community will give the "moderate, secular" terror group still more money and guns and love. The US will likely also demand that Olmert order the IDF to give Fatah terrorists free reign in Judea and Samaria.
Olmert and Bush claim that by backing Abbas militarily, financially and politically they will be setting up an "alternative Palestine" which will rival Hamas's jihadist Palestine. As this notion has it, envious of the good fortune of their brethren in Judea and Samaria, Gazans will overthrow Hamas and the course will be set for peace — replete with the ethnic cleansing of Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem of all Jewish presence. FATAH FORCES barely raised a finger to prevent their defeat in Gaza in spite of the massive quantities of US arms they received and the military training they underwent at the hands of US General Keith Dayton. Bush, Olmert and all proponents of the notion of strengthening Fatah in Judea and Samaria refuse to answer one simple question: Why would a handover of Judea and Samaria to Abbas's Fatah produce a better outcome than Israel's 2005 handover of Gaza to Abbas's Fatah? They refuse to answer this question because they know full well that the answer is that there is absolutely no reason to believe that the outcome can be better.

They know full well that since replacing Yasser Arafat as head of the PA in 2004, Abbas refused to take any effective action against Hamas. They know that he refused to take action to prevent Hamas's rise to power in Gaza and Judea and Samaria. They know that the guns the US transferred to Fatah in Gaza were surrendered to Hamas without a fight last week. They know that the billions of dollars of international and Israeli assistance to Fatah over the past 14 years never were used to advance the cause of peace.
They know that that money was diverted into the pockets of Fatah strongmen and utilized to build terror militias in which Hamas members were invited to serve. They know that Fatah built a terror superstructure in Judea, Samaria and Gaza which enabled operational cooperation between Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror cells. SO WHY embrace the fantasy that things can be different now, in Judea and Samaria? Rather than provide rational arguments to defend their view that Hamas's takeover of Gaza is an opportunity for peace, proponents of peace fantasies as strategic wisdom explain vacuously that peace is the best alternative to jihad. They whine that those who point out that Israel now borders Iran in Lebanon and Gaza have nothing positive to say. To meet the growing threat in Gaza, they argue that Europeans, or maybe Egyptians and Jordanians can be deployed at the international border with Egypt to stem the weapons and terror personnel flow into Gaza.

To meet the growing threat in Lebanon, Olmert pleads for more UN troops.
Both views ignore the obvious: Gaza has been transformed into an Iranian-sponsored base for global jihad because Egypt has allowed it to be so transformed. Assisted by its Syrian-sponsored Palestinian allies, Hizbullah has rebuilt its arsenals and reasserted its control in southern Lebanon because UN forces in southern Lebanon have done nothing to prevent it from doing so. No country on earth will volunteer to fight Hamas and its jihadist allies in Gaza. No government on earth will voluntarily deploy its forces to counter Hizbullah and Iran in south Lebanon. This is why — until they fled — European monitors at the Rafah terminal were a joke. This is why Spanish troops in UNIFIL devote their time in Lebanon to teaching villagers Spanish.

SO WHY are Bush and Olmert set to embrace Fatah and Abbas today?

Why are they abjectly refusing to come to terms with the strategic reality of the Iranian-Syrian onslaught? Why are they insisting that the establishment of a Palestinian state is their strategic goal and doing everything they can to pretend that their goal has not been repeatedly proven absurd? Well, why should they? As far as Bush is concerned, no American politician has ever paid a price for advancing the cause of peace processes that strengthen terrorists and hostile Arab states at Israel's expense. Bush's predecessor Bill Clinton had Arafat over to visit the White House more often than any other foreign leader and ignored global jihad even when its forces bombed US embassies and warships. And today Clinton receives plaudits for his efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.

By denying that the war against Israel is related to the war in Iraq; by ignoring the strategic links between all the Iranian and Syrian sponsored theaters of war, Bush views gambling with Israel's security as a win-win situation. He will be applauded as a champion of peace and if the chips go down on Israel, well, it won't be Americans being bombed. OLMERT LOOKS to his left and sees president-elect Shimon Peres. Peres, the architect of the Oslo process which placed Israel's national security in the hands of the PLO, has been rewarded for his role in imperiling his country by his similarly morally challenged political colleagues who just bestowed him with Israel's highest office. Olmert looks to his left and his sees incoming defense minister Ehud Barak. In 2000, then prime minister Barak withdrew Israeli forces from Lebanon, and enabled Iran's assertion of control over southern Lebanon through its Hizbullah proxy. In so doing, Barak set the conditions for last summer's war, and quite likely, for this summer's war. By offering Arafat Gaza, 95 percent of Judea and Samaria and half of Jerusalem at Camp David, Barak showed such enormous weakness that he all but invited the Palestinian terror war which Arafat began planning the day he rejected Barak's offer.

For his failure, Barak has been rewarded by his Labor Party, which elected him its new chairman on the basis of his vast "experience," and by the media which has embraced him as a "professional" defense minister. Olmert looks to his right and he sees how the media portrays Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and former IDF Chief of General Staff Moshe Ya'alon as alarmists for claiming that Israel cannot abide by an Iranian-proxy Hamas state on its border. He sees that Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu supported Peres's candidacy as president and have joined their fortunes to Olmert's in a bid to block elections which will bring the Right to power. ISRAEL HAS arguably never faced a more dangerous strategic environment than it faces today. Yet it is not without good options. It can retake control over the Gaza-Sinai border. It can renew its previously successful tactic of killing Hamas terrorists. It can continue its successful campaign of keeping terrorists down in Judea and Samaria, and it can continue preparing for war in the north. All of these options can be sold to the Left.

But today both Bush and Olmert will reject these options in favor of mindless peace process prattle. They will reject reality as they uphold Abbas as a credible leader and shower him with praise, money and arms. Their political fortunes will be utmost in their minds as they do this. And they will be guaranteeing war that will claim the lives of an unknown number of Israeli civilians and soldiers.
Bush and Olmert should know that when the time for reckoning comes they will not be able to claim, along with Peres and Barak that their hands did not shed this blood. Reality has warned them of their folly. But in their low, dishonest opportunism, they have chosen to ignore reality and amuse themselves with fantasies and photo-ops.


Asked a similar question in October 1984 – whether he believed in Armageddon, President Ronald Reagan answered: "Yes, Armageddon could come the day after tomorrow."

Bush’s Favorite Muslim Fanatic

By Robert Spencer

When is a moderate Muslim not a moderate Muslim? How about if he is an employee of a Saudi Wahhabi organization that has been
identified by the Senate Finance Committee as one of a long list of Islamic charities that “finance terrorism and perpetuate violence”?

Last month, the White House appointed Talal Eid, an imam from Quincy, Massachusetts, to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan panel that, according to the Boston Globe , “monitors religious freedom in countries around the world and recommends policies to the president, State Department, and Congress.” Eid is also participating in goodwill missions overseas for the State Department. Ishan Bagby, a University of Kentucky professor and member of the board of directors of the Islamic Society of North America, was pleased with the appointment : “It’s a very good sign that a mainstream, moderate Muslim leader like Imam Eid can be appointed to such a position.” Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American Islamic Relations was pleased also, saying that Eid would bring “valuable perspective” to the Commission.

Eid was forced out of his position as imam of the Islamic Center of New England’s mosque in Quincy in July 2005, some said because he was too moderate. The Bush Administration has been determined since September 11, 2001 to find moderate Muslims with whom it could work and to whom it could show public support; unfortunately, however, in this quest it has sometimes been less discriminating than it should have been, and the case of Talal Eid is a prime example of this.

Talal Eid, reported the Globe in January 2007, “no longer has a mosque.” However, “he still has the original appointment from the Muslim World League, a theological and cultural entity in Saudi Arabia that certifies imams, that sent him to Boston in 1982.” The scrutiny from the Senate Finance Committee is just one of many things about the Muslim World League that should have raised red flags for the Administration when considering Eid’s appointment. Alex Alexiev of the Center for Security Policy told a U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security in 2003 that “there is conclusive evidence from Saudi sources” that the League was “tightly controlled by the [Saudi] government.”

Given that the League’s stated purpose is to “to disseminate Islamic Dawah [proselytization] and expound the teachings of Islam,” this means that it is a vehicle for the propagation of the House of Saud’s Wahhabism, the virulent school of Islamic thought that teaches, in words that appeared on the website of the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. until November 2003 , that “the Muslims are required to raise the banner of Jihad in order to make the Word of Allah supreme in this world, to remove all forms of injustice and oppression, and to defend the Muslims.” Waging jihad in order to make the Word of Allah supreme in this world means fighting against non-Muslims in order to impose Islamic law, Sharia, over them. Evgenii Novikov of The Jamestown Foundation notes, moreover, that the League’s publications are “often radical and vehemently anti-American.”

Nor has the Muslim World League contented itself with promoting jihad by words alone. A jihadist who played a part in an al-Qaeda cell in Boston before 9/11, Nabil al-Marabh, claimed to have worked for the League in Pakistan ; while this may have been his attempt to whitewash his record, also involved with the League in Pakistan was Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law and self-described “best friend,” who at another time worked to set up al-Qaeda front groups in the Philippines.

Does all this mean that Talal Eid is a jihadist and a supporter of Osama bin Laden? No, it doesn’t. But his connection to the Muslim World League is not the only troubling item on his resume. Eid has proposed “five solutions for the unique problems of Muslims in America,” including “the establishment of Sharî‘ah courts which would manage the family affairs of American Muslims and mediate their religious affairs within the scope of American law.”

A similar initiative to introduce Sharia courts for mediation of personal disputes and marriage cases into Canada was defeated in 2005; Muslim women’s groups spearheaded the opposition because of Sharia’s institutionalized subjugation of women. In the thick of the battle, Alia Hogben of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women declared : “We’ve had a flood of e-mails from people asking, ‘How can we help stop what is so dangerous to Muslim women?’” In introducing a motion to disallow Sharia in Quebec in 2005, legislator Fatima Houda-Pepin saw an even greater threat: “The application of Sharia in Canada is part of a strategy to isolate the Muslim community, so it will submit to an archaic vision of Islam. These demands are being pushed by groups in the minority that are using the Charter of Rights to attack the foundation of our democratic institutions.”

Will the U.S. now do what Canada drew back from doing, and introduce private Sharia courts, despite the harm they will cause Muslim women and the encouragement they will provide to establishing the Muslims in the U.S. as a separate, self-governing enclave? Apparently, if Talal Eid gets his way, yes. And that’s why he has no business being on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The Bush Administration should reconsider this appointment, or at very least call upon Eid to renounce any desire to introduce Sharia in any form into U.S. law, as well as all ties to the Muslim World League. After all, George W. Bush said it best: You’re either with the terrorists or with us.

Source Link




Bush Reaching Out to the Muslim Brotherhood?....