By: Fern Sidman

“How can we remain silent when there is the possibility that the Jewish community of Hevron will be uprooted?” queried Rabbi Simcha Hochbaum, Director of Tourism for the community of Hevron on Tuesday evening, April 5th in New York. Several hundred people gathered at the West Side Institutional Synagogue on Manhattan’s upper west side to attend a special presentation on the timeless legacy that Hevron represents for the Jewish people.

Addressing the history of Hevron, Rabbi Hochbaum said that when the Arab legions forcibly seized Hevron in the 1200s, they immediately erected an ominous sign that said, ‘No dogs and No Jews’. “Until 1967,” he said, “Jews were forced to pray outside the Ma’aras HaMachpela (burial place of the patriarchs and matriarchs). We could only ascend to the infamous 7th step, but now, with G-d’s help, and the brave pioneering spirit of those Jews who have settled in Hevron, we can daven at the burial place of our beloved ancestors.”

One of the world’s oldest cities, Hevron commands a unique and central position in Jewish history as it is the place where the founding family of the Jewish people are interred and the place where the eternal bond between the Jewish people and the land of Israel was forged, thus making it a living, perpetual union that has endured for millennia. Having been instructed by G-d to establish his kingdom there some 3000 years ago, King David ruled Judea from Hevron for the first seven years of his reign before ascending to Jerusalem where the Holy Temple was to be built.

Describing the temerity and the tireless dedication of those who live in Hevron, Rabbi Hochbaum recalled the 10th yahrzeit of Shalhevet Techiya Pass, a 10-month old infant that was killed in Hevron by an Arab terrorist sniper who opened fire with a high powered rifle on March 26, 2001 while she sat in her stroller. “Since Shalhevet’s heinous murder, her parents have had five more children and I have a daughter named after Shalhevet. That is the nature of the indefatigable spirit of the Jewish nation. We make it our obligation to re-build, to survive and thrive in spite of those who seek our destruction,” he observed.

The flourishing and burgeoning Jewish community of Hevron is a testament to the indomitable faith of the Jewish people, he said, adding that every year, tens of thousands of Jews from around the world gather in Hevron to celebrate parshas Chaya Sora; (the Torah portion detailing the account of the purchase of Hevron by the patriarch Abraham). In a voice laden with emotion, Rabbi Hochbaum issued an impassioned appeal to his audience; exhorting them to personally engage in concrete advocacy as it pertains to the preservation of this holy city. “In this month of Nissan, our time of geulah (redemption), the gates of Heaven are open, but it is we who must do the work. It is incumbent upon all Jews to rise up and speak out for Hevron, to become a leader in the movement to save this city; to provide generous financial assistance and most importantly to come to Hevron; to be a part of the essence of the Jewish nation.”

Helen Freedman, executive director of Americans For A Safe Israel (AFSI) served as moderator of the colloquium and was presented with a plaque of appreciation for her decades of service to the Jewish community of Hevron by Hebron Fund executive director, Ari Lieberman. “Today, we extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Helen Freedman and the wonderful people in AFSI for all that they have done and all that they continue to do to support the courageous Jews of Hebron. Each and every year, Helen and the people on her AFSI Chizuk mission to Israel visit Hebron and help to inspire each and every one of us and for that we are eternally indebted,” he said.

As tears welled in her eyes and with a voice cracking with emotion, Ms. Freedman recounted her visits to the burial places of the forefathers and mothers of the Jewish people as those of “passion, love and devotion.” She added that “Taking a bus at midnight to visit the burial place of Yosef HaTzaddik (Joseph, the righteous one) in Schechem was a privilege for me and was an experience that will be etched in my heart and soul forever. One cannot help but break down in tears when witnessing what the Arabs have done to the resting places of those whom we revere for all time. Visiting Hevron and praying at the Ma’aras HaMachpela is simply incredible and just the thought of not being allowed to access this site is too unbearable.”

A moving and powerful video presentation of the Jewish community of Hevron was shown; illustrating the substantive growth of Hevron since 1967, when Rabbi Moshe Levinger and his wife Miriam Levinger, who originally hailed from the Bronx, served as the progenitors of the modern community. Audience members sat in rapt attention as they imbibed the inspiring narration and striking images of those who defied all odds to ensure a Jewish presence in the city of their fathers.

Also addressing the assemblage was Rabbi Allan Schwartz of the West Side Institutional Synagogue who said, “Hevron is the center of the world and the root of the word Hevron comes from the word “Chevrei” which means friends. It was King David who wanted to “Hevronize,” the city of Jerusalem and personally reach out in friendship to the tribe of Binyamin who resided in Jerusalem so as not to hurt their feelings that the capital of the Jewish nation was originally established in Hevron.” He praised Rabbi Hochbaum as a “profound inspiration” and credited him with “changing the face of Hevron in the last 20 years.”

“Hevron is an endemic part of each and every Jew,” intoned Ari Lieberman, the executive director of the Hebron Fund. He encouraged his audience to initiate social media campaigns for the future of Hevron and to come and make a personal visit.


Having Fun with Tragedy

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

This morning on KPRC’s website there was a story about a fellow who got killed trying to cross one of our freeways. Idle curiosity had me reading the details; turns out he was fleeing the police.

“According to police, the victim was a suspect in an altercation in downtown Houston. He then got on a METRO bus and exits at the Acres Homes stop, according to police. METRO police apprehended him at a James Coney Island on the northbound feeder road, police said. The man got into a confrontation with officers and proceeds to run across the freeway, police said.”

“HPD said the man managed to get across the northbound lanes on I-45 but was hit by a Ford Expedition and possibly two other vehicles as he tried to cross the southbound lanes on I-45, police said.”

There’s a scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; actually a couple of scenes come to mind. “Next time I say, Let’s go to Bolivia…” I can’t picture Butch and Sundance heading out of town on a Metro bus much less scuffling with police at James’ Coney Island.

The professional trackers were hot on their trail, looking back once in a while, “Who are those guys?” rapidly making their way across rocky terrain, higher and higher. Surrounded with no way out and faced with the decision; “We could shoot it out or jump” followed by Sundance’s, “I can’t swim.” Butch laughs while moving ever closer to the edge, the river far below, “Hell, the fall will probably kill you.” The two of them step off into the arms of gravity, “Ohhhhhhh…(think of a letter, any letter)…hit!”

I could have used the movie, Speed, lots of action there too. Towards the end, the mad bomber’s holding the detonation device while our hero is wrestling with him on top of a speeding out of control train. “You know what I like about you. You’re tall.” Splat, as the overhead marker catches the bad guy and takes his head off.

The same basic scene was in another movie, Narrow Margin; Gene Hackman playing the part of a resolute prosecutor trying to get a key witness to testify against a murdering thug. While on top of the speeding train, about to get blasted by one of the many bad guy’s hired guns and approaching a tunnel, “You know what I like about you… You’re tall.” Thump, the bad lady meets her final reward.

I may have altered the exact dialogue; but the ending left little for the imagination. Forgive my retired night shift cop humor; it comes up at the most extraordinary times. Getting slammed by an Expedition going sixty miles an hour couldn’t have been better than a comfortable jail cell for the night. He must never have heard the old saying, “You may beat the rap; but you can’t beat the ride.”

As a matter of minor interest; both of my daughters have wrecked cars at that particular location. I think there’s an evil spirit built into the roadway and the City of Houston should put up road signs, “Bad Karma Ahead, Exit Now!” Okay, I admit it; I should probably seek professional counseling.

This article has been cross-posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government & The American Constitution.”


Cuban Unionist Tours U.S. – Offers International Communist Labor Federation Support

By: Trevor Loudon
New Zeal

According to the Communist Party USA‘s latest Peoples World, union workers at the Los Angeles Workers United hall, home of the Laundry, Distribution Centers and Skills and Manufacturing Workers, “listened with excitement” to an address by Gilda Chacon Bravo, a leader of the former Soviet front, and still communist controlled, World Federation of Trade Unions.

Gilda Chacon Bravo

Chacon is the first Cuban trade union representative to be granted a visa to the United States in several years and is touring the country.

WFTU has 70 million affiliated members, with 150 organizations in Latin America alone. The U.S. and Canada are the only countries in the Western Hemisphere that have no affiliates.

Said Chacon:

“One of the main objectives of our tour is to have an exchange on labor issues here, and introduce the federation to the North American labor movement so we can support and show solidarity with your struggles. What is happening in Wisconsin and other parts of your country are opportunities that the U.S. working class should not miss.”

This is the time, she added, to unite for dignified jobs and confront the attacks on collective bargaining rights.

“The tactics that are being used against you, as workers, have been used on workers throughout Latin America. The blame is being placed on the workers, but we say the fault lies with those who caused the crisis, the transnational corporations and their neo-liberal policies.”

Ms Chacon invited everyone present to the Trade Union Conference of the Americas to be held in August in Nicaragua. From Alaska to Patagonia, social organizations and workers who want to attend are welcome, “At this conference we’ll join together with the goal of finding solutions to the common problems we face as workers” she said.

The Cuban trade unionist continued, “The most important result of these conferences is that attendees come to the conclusion that the current economic system can no longer offer us what we need and thus we must find other alternatives. If you ask me what system that would be, as a Cuban, I would say it is socialism.”

Abayomi Azikiwe, Gilda Chacon Bravo, Detroit, March 11

In Detroit, Gilda Chacon Bravo met with members of the United Auto Workers Union and members of the pro-Cuba/North Korea Workers World Party, including local leader Abayomi Azikiwe.

No stranger to foreign visitors, Azikiwe was one of several W.W.P. activists to attend September 21, 2010, New York meeting, with President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


Red Reps 6: Larry Agran, Irvine California Councilor and One Time Socialist Presidential Hopeful

By: Trevor Loudon
New Zeal

Red Reps 5 here.

Barack Obama was not the first Democratic Socialists of America-affiliated candidate to run for President of the United States of America.

Larry Agran

That honor belongs to several-time Irvine California mayor and city councilor Larry Agran.

In 1992, Larry Agran, already a controversial figure in Southern California, unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party nomination for President. Agran was generally ignored by the media during his candidacy, though he initially polled as well as more nationally known leftists such as Iowa’s Tom Harkin and fellow Californian Jerry Brown.

Democratic Party officials excluded Agran from most debates on various grounds, even having him arrested when he interrupted to ask to participate.

Two years earlier Agran had been “outed” as a member of the U.S.’s largest Marxist organization Democratic Socialists of America, by the socialist’s own publication, Democratic Left.

DSA’s Democratic Left, Jan./Feb. 1990, page 7

Perhaps the Democrats, only three years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, weren’t quite ready to have a Marxist on the their Presidential ticket ?

How times have changed.

Despite failing on the national stage, Larry Agran has had a big impact on the local scene.

As of 2010, Agran served as Mayor Pro Tem on the Irvine City Council. He is one of the most prominent Democrat politicians in Orange County, an area famous for its conservatism, and undoubtedly one of the most powerful politicians in the county.

By the 1980s, Irvine was one of the fastest growing cities in California, a major center of aerospace, computer and high-tech manufacturing – even deemed by US News and World Report as the “best place to live in America.”

Larry Agran, a Harvard Law school educated San Fernando Valley native, moved to Irvine in 1975.

In 1978, Agran ran a very sophisticated (and successful) campaign for city council, backed by Tom Hayden’s radical Campaign for Economic Democracy (C.E.D.).

About the same time, and not too far away, a young Barack Obama, was hanging around with the C.E.D. crowd at Occidental college, near Los Angeles.

In his early years on the council, Larry Agran, was a minority of one. Portraying himself as a moderate environmentalist, he built up a following by attacking Irvine Company, which founded the planned city and owned about a third of its land.

Outside of Irvine, Agran founded the 1,000-member Local Elected Officials group in 1983, to “promote local responses to non-local matters: world peace, apartheid, nuclear weapons, Central America…”

Agran’s Bulletin of Municipal Foreign Policy carried articles like, “Some tips for Building Nicaraguan Sister Cities” and “Think Globally, Sue Locally,” as well as endorsements from the likes of D.S.A. member Noam Chomsky.

According to then conservative journalist, turned leftist Media Matters attack dog, David Brock:

Under Agran’s influence 900 resolutions passed around the country in favor of a nuclear weapons freeze; 118 laws banning nuclear weapons production in local jurisdictions, an effort that coincided with the failure of the freeze movement; refusals by 120 cities to cooperate in a civil defense program proposed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which forced the scuttling of the plan; more than 100 policies prohibiting cities from links with firms doing business in South Africa; 1,300 sister-city arrangements between American cities and foreign cities, “especially so-called adversary cities,” as Agran has phrased it; and 22 local declarations of “sanctuary” for Salvadoran refugees, a political movement designed to foster opposition to US policy in Central America.

Agran was quoted as saying that the ultimate aim of the movement is to: “take back foreign policy from the federal government.”

Agran spoke of the “illegal US wars in Vietnam and Grenada.” He advocated an immediate, unilateral ban on nuclear weapons testing and described the US policy of support for the anti-communist Nicaraguan resistance as “a policy that ultimately had as its objective the killing of Nicaraguan citizens and the violent overthrow of their popular revolution.”

Agran even called for the entire budget of President Reagan’s “Strategic Defense Initiative” to be used to “help cities cope with growing traffic problems.”

Yet despite all this, Agran was time and time re-elected in a county that gave Ronald Reagan and George Bush I the highest votes in the U.S.

Agran was helped all along by a fawning press and the fact that he usually outspent his opponents by many fold.

As one local blogger put it:

It’s become conventional wisdom that Agran–one of Orange County’s most unethical, pompous and dictatorial public figures–wins because Irvine’s residents are too busy to focus attention on local politics.

And that’s the problem. Larry Agran and other leftist local politicians are able to have national impact, because many conservatives just do not see the importance of local races. Believe me – the socialists do.

Hopefully, enough Americans will wake up to correct that mistake.


Watcher’s Council Nominations: Low Budget Edition

From: The Watcher’s Council

Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere, and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday.

This week’s Council contest is dedicated to Rep. Paul Ryan.

Council News:

Our own Bookworm’s new E-book, The Bookworm Turns: A Secret Conservative In Liberal Land is finally out, and is even better than I imagined it would be. Available at Amazon.

This week, Restoring Honor Starts Here, Monkey In The Middle and Maggie’s Notebook took advantage of my generous offer of link whorage and earned honorable mention status.

You can, too. Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.

Simply e-mail me a link at [email protected] with the subject heading ‘Honorable Mention’ no later than Monday 6 PM PST to be considered for our honorable mention category and return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week.

It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members, while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?

So, let’s see what we have this week….and don’t forget to tune in Thursday for this week’s Head to Head!

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions