Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Melbourne Jewish Xmas story

From JB, (Brooklyn, NY):
I see you have been including some of the 'flavour of the season' on your blog, so how did you miss a most interesting Aussie Kratzmach story - published 10 years ago in the Yated - written by Melbourne's S. B. Abelesz?

Thanks for bringing it to our attention - AJN Watch

(For more details about the doctor in the above photographs click here.)

This story happened last year to Chaim K., whose business manufactures and supplies blinds to commercial and private buildings.

A day earlier he had been called by a builder to give a quote for the supply of blinds to a new apartment block.

When Chaim arrived there - as always, wearing his yarmulke - the builder, a giant of a man with tattoos on both arms, greeted him with: "Are you Jewish?"

A little concerned, Chaim answered: "Yes, but what difference does that make?"

The builder responded with: "The job is yours!"

No quote, no nothing!

A now-surprised Chaim asked him the reason for the puzzling behavior.

The builder replied that some 20 years ago his baby became very sick on Xmas day. He tried calling doctors everywhere but to no avail -- no one would come for at least several hours.

Meanwhile the child was having convulsions and the parents were getting extremely desperate. So they rushed him to Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital.

Upon arrival they raced up to the duty nurse and asked if there were any doctors available. She calmed down the agitated parents and told them that they were extremely lucky. Since it was Xmas, their baby would be cared for by the very best specialists in town.

The anxious parents, who had just gone through hell trying to find any doctor at all, were quite puzzled by her words and couldn't understand what she meant, until she explained that due to the holiday all doctors and specialists on duty are Jewish and they are all first-class.

As she finished talking, a doctor wearing a yarmulke hurried in, took the child and told the parents to relax and not to worry as their son will be well-looked-after.

The boy needed immediate surgery which was indeed undertaken and completed successfully and, as the nurse had said, all the doctors in attendance were Jewish.

"To this day," the builder continued, "I am grateful to those Jewish doctors and specialists who saved our son's life. And that is why, once I realized you were Jewish, I gave you the order without any further talk."

The gentile giant added: "There is no way that I am ever going into a hospital on the Jewish New Year!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Question to Lamm and Chester - 2

Further to our post "Question to Lamm and Chester: You want Sudanese illegals and Arabs living near your kids?", here's a couple of articles from Arutz Sheva highlighting the serious issues created by Israel's illegal immigrants.

Katz: Tel Aviv Luxury Areas Flooded Next by Illegal Immigrants

 MK Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz (National Union) is warning northern Tel Aviv residents to unite with the rest of the city in fighting an influx of illegal immigrants, or face a flood.

Katz argued Wednesday that wealthy residents of northern Tel Aviv cannot abandon the city's impoverished southern neighborhoods in the fight against the influx of illegal immigrants without the flood eventually reaching the north as well.

“Soon thousands will be protesting in central Tel Aviv and in a year or two thousands will be protesting in the north, as many of them carry AIDS and tuberculosis,” he said. Katz was referring to Tuesday's rally against illegal immigrants living in southern Tel Aviv.

“The silence of the residents in northern Tel Aviv is like the orchestra playing on the deck of the Titanic while its stern is sinking,” Katz commented.

High Percentage of Migrants are HIV Carriers

According to a new report released this week by the Health Ministry, 17 percent of HIV carriers in Israel are illegal immigrants.

In addition, 13 percent of those with tuberculosis, are migrants, according to the report. The ministry said it is reportedly examining ways to develop a network in which to offer medical services to the illegal immigrants.

‘Bleeding Hearts Making Israel a Country of Goyim and Criminals’

A former hareidi religious legislator warned the government on Tuesday to stop “bleeding hearts” from making the country a refuge for non-Jews and criminals.

Journalist Yisrael Eichler, a former Knesset Member in the United Torah Judaism party, told Arutz 7 that while non-Jews from poor countries come to Israel, “the media prefers to deal with a screwball who puts up posters” and feel sorry for foreign workers and refugees who are flooding the country.

“I call on all the religious Knesset Members to immediately stop this wave that is turning Israel into a refuge for Russian and African non-Jews as well as criminals who flee from their native countries," he said.

The recent arrest of a non-Jewish Russian immigrant, charged with the gruesome murder of two parents, two children and two of their grandparents, sparked Eichler’s anger at Israel’s liberal immigration policies. Russian authorities asked Israel to extradite the suspect three years ago for armed robbery, but the government allowed him to remain in the country.

Many European countries are closing their doors to immigrants from Asian and African countries, and the United States regularly deports illegal immigrants.

Israel currently is embroiled in efforts by mainstream media and secular groups to prevent the deportation of children of illegal immigrants, deflecting a campaign led by National Union MK Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz against the growing infiltration of thousands of Sudanese and other Africans.

Southern cities, such as Arad and Be’er Sheva, are being flooded with Africans who, along with the growing Bedouin population, threatened to leave Jews as a minority in the Negev.

“Everyone feels sorry for the children of foreign workers, but what about the 750,000 poor Jewish children in Israel? No one feels sorry for them,” Eichler noted.

“Why doesn’t a Jew want to leave his own country and move to Israel if he has no reason to do so? Why do non-Jewish people from Russia and Ukraine want to come here when there are other countries in the world?” he asked.

Answering his own questions, Eichler castigated the media and “bleeding hearts” who support the growing non-Jewish population. He praised the aliyah of Jews from Russia but charged former Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir for the "crime of deciding to bring non-Jews along with Jews.”

He told a story of a Jew who moved to Israel from the former Soviet bloc, where he had been attacked several times by anti-Semites. The immigrant met the same non-Jewish attacker on a bus in Israel and asked him how he arrived in Israel. The man answered, “I found a Jewish girl friend and made Aliyah.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nittel, Natalie and Jewish Santas

Friday night is again "Nittel Nacht". Here are a few snippets and snaps showing how this event is commemorated amongst many in our community.

Nittel Nacht  [Text from Wikipedia
Nittel Nacht is a name given to Christmas Eve by Jewish scholars in the 17th century, although Rabbi Samuel Eides already observed the day by the late 16th century. In the Middle Ages (in Christendom), Jews were forbidden from appearing in public during the high Christmas holidays, and as such the day marked the beginning of a siege of sorts for certain Jewish populations. Jewish mystics believed apostates were conceived on Nittel Nacht. Studying the Torah was also forbidden, although some read the Toledot Yeshu instead. Passing the time playing card games was also popular.

After the advent of the Gregorian Calendar, Orthodox Christians and Catholic Christians observed Christmas Eve on two separate dates; this led to Rabbinic debate, and Nittel Nacht is observed in accordance with the local Christian community. Certain pious Jews observe Nittel Nacht twice each year.

By the 20th century, Judeo-Christian relations had matured to where these customs faded in popularity, although Nittel Nacht is still observed by certain Orthodox groups.

Nittel nacht in 770:

The previous two Lubavitcher rebbes (obm) playing chess on Nittel Nacht

More photographs here.

Other article on the topic here, here, here and here.
Note: AJN Watch takes no responsibilty for the "Kashrut" of those sites.

On a slightly more serious note, we wonder how many families who have named their daughters "Natalie" realise that the meaning of the name  is associated with "Nittel", ie, "birthday of JC" or "born on Xmas" ?

Here's a selection from several "Meanings of Names" sites confirming this:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Question to Lamm and Chester: You want Sudanese illegals and Arabs living near your kids?

(Received from an Israeli reader):

Dear AJN Watch.
A friend has just sent me a scan of the comments by Danny Lamm and Philip Chester re the statement by our Rabanim against renting properties to undersirables. I would appreciate if you could post these few words on behalf of all ex-Aussies in Israel.

                                      -Former Melbourne Bnei Akiva member

Even if Philip Chester and Danny Lamm were simply doing the politically correct thing in condemning that Rabanim and didn't really mean it at all, it is still damaging and a massive Chutzpah.

Fancy issuing a statement welcoming potential crooks and murderers into our cities and our neighbourhoods!

Do Lamm and Chester have any family members in Israel? And if so how many Sudanese or Arabs live in their street?  And what do those family members think about their view?

The rabbis here, together with the community leaders know exactly what problems they create - both gashmiut and ruchniut, as well as the crimes and attacks perpetuated by these people.

Sitting in your safe Caulfield mansions and preaching to us is not welcome.

In future, please keep your useless and unhelpful advice to yourself.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chabad Menorah turf wars: Calling the local galach...

Previously Chanukah was about celebrating the victory of the war of the Chashmonaim against the Hellenists. These days Chanukah seems to celebrate turf wars in Chabadland - at least in our CBD. See here and here.

Now another seemingly ridiculous battle by 2 Chabad rabbis which took place in some unheard of township somewhere in New York state has been brought to our attention. And suggestions are being made that they get the local galach to make peace. Fair dinkum! See the penultimate paragraph of the second article.

Back-to-back menorah lightings in Millbrook
By CHRISTINE BATES - Staff Reporter
December, 17, 2009

MILLBROOK — Two menorah lightings happened in front of the Thorne Building in the village as two rabbis held back-to-back celebratory events on the second day of Hanukkah, Saturday, Dec. 12.

First to arrive in front of the Thorne building was Rabbi Yakov Borenstein from Chabad of the Mid-Hudson Valley. According to Hindy Borenstein, the rabbi’s wife, he was able to secure permission from the village at the last minute to begin a celebration at 6:30 p.m.

Borenstein said that for the 6:30 ceremony Curtis Roth of Millbrook stood on a ladder and lit two candles on a portable 9-foot aluminum menorah; Borenstein then offered a message of bringing light to the world. About 30 area residents joined in the celebration, which included Hanukkah songs, music and traditional holiday food. By 7:20 p.m. the menorah had been packed up, and cars were pulling away from the curb.

A new crowd of about 30 people formed on the sidewalk for the second menorah lighting at 7:30 p.m.

Sheldon and Adele Lobel, Millbrook residents, said they noticed a sign at the library advertising the 7:30 p.m. event and were excited for Millbrook’s first evening of public menorah lightings.

Charlotte Mann said she had heard there would also be a menorah made out of canned food that would be donated to a food pantry.
The crowd was a bit restless in the cold when Rabbi Hanoch Hecht, also known as the “Six-Minute Rabbi,” of the Rhinebeck Jewish Center, pulled up some time after 7:30 with his family and set up a large, rustic, wooden menorah. Hecht had received official permission from the village several weeks before, and the event had been widely publicized, including in The Millerton News.

Hecht lit the central candle, and then two more candles, one for each night of Hanukkah. He stood to the side of the lighted candles and spoke about placing a menorah “by the window, adding one candle every night to overcome darkness in a step-by step-process.”
His words were followed by Hanukkah songs, warm latkes made by Tzivie, the rabbi’s wife, and sufganiot, powdered sugar jelly doughnuts.

And then we get this from the Chabad Info site (which admittedly isn't considered "mainstream" Lubavitch).

Here we were grumbling about having footballers at the Menorah lightings while at the same time our brethren over there are getting galochim to do the honors! (What say, next year we invite the Greek Orthodox Archbishop to light the Shamash?)
Shliach Hosts Chanukah Party in Church

A priest was welcomed to light the Shamash at a Chanukah gathering organized by Rhinebeck Jewish Center's spiritual leader Rabbi Hanoch Hecht, before the party moved indoors, to the local church. On his site, the rabbi claims to be a fighter of cults and missionaries.

 The public lighting of a menorah in front of the Thorne Building to commemorate Hanukkah occurred in Millbrook for the first time last year, twice on the same night.

This year Rabbi Yacov Borenstein, after lighting the first candle on Wednesday night atop the Walkway Over the Hudson, brought his towering menorah to Millbrook on Thursday, Dec. 2, the second night of Hanukkah, to remain in place until Dec. 9.

The observance of Hanukkah with hot cider, latkes and jelly doughnuts is becoming part of the Millbrook holiday season. Town of Washington Supervisor Florence Prisco, Millbrook’s Deputy Mayor Stan Morse, Paula Redmond from the Millbrook Business Association and Doug Fisher, minister of Grace Episcopal Church, participated. Prisco and Morse greeted the gathering, and Prisco helped to light the second candle with a blow torch as Curtis Ross stood on the ladder to reach the light.

“It’s a safe ladder,” said the rabbi. “I have good insurance.”

All of the candles were then switched on so people could read the words to Hanukkah songs.

In the cold evening air, Borenstein and his wife, Hindy, talked about the meaning of the Jewish holiday. “A little light dispels the darkness and makes the world a better place,” said the rabbi. “It’s not asking much.”

He recounted the story of the Maccabees, who were outnumbered and surrounded by Greek soldiers, and the miracle of the lamp oil, which lasted for eight days.

Following the ceremony, the leftover food and tables were packed up, and the rabbi drove off in his car with a small menorah with three glowing lights attached to its roof.

On Sunday night, Dec. 5, Rabbi Hanoch Hecht from the Rhinebeck Chabad conducted another Hanukkah celebration in front of the Thorne Building, attended by a large number of Millbrook residents.

The Rev. Fisher lit the central candle, known as the shamash or helper candle, and Rabbi Hecht lighted five more for the fifth night of Hanukkah. After a brief prayer and dancing, the group quickly adjourned to the warmth of the parish house of Grace Episcopal Church across the street for hot coffee, latkes and donuts.

The rabbi distributed Hanukkah gelt, chocolate wrapped to look like large gold coins, and Fisher welcomed everyone. The last time the church had an event bringing religions together was in 2002 after 911, when a rabbi spoke at the church and Muslims, Jews and Christians got together at the parish house.

The Millbrook organizers of the event, Steve Peter, Adele and Sheldon Lobel and Joan Blankstein, were very happy that the evening had brought the entire community together.

Lobel suggested that perhaps Fisher could get the two rabbis together before the event next year to have just one Hanukkah lighting. They have already purchased the menorah.

“We want to do good things,” said Lobel.

Monday, December 13, 2010

3 + 3 = 7 ?

UJEB is probably one of the most important organizations in Melbourne - offering an essential and non-overlapping service in educating those children in our community who are not enrolled in a Jewish day school.

We support it with all our heart and hope that you do too.

But how does 3 plus 3 doesn’t add up to 7…?

Their parents must be SO proud!

Sending kids to a Jewish youth group used to mean that you hoped they would spend their time there being imbued with Jewish and mentchlich values and ideals.
Habonim, it seems, has decided to go in the opposite direction.

We wonder how happy the parents are about this.

(Also it’s quite obvious that the AJN can’t find anything else newsworthy to report about this group.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

NY Jewish Week: Why is Israel 'Schnorring'?

This is not the type of article one would expect to read in the AJN. And understandably so. After all a major proportion of that newspaper's revenue comes from the massive “shnorr” campaigns by various Israeli governmental and semi-governmental entities.

(And, by the way, isn’t it somewhat incongruous that the banner for this article in the New York Jewish Week has ads 'shnorring' for Israel's Magen David Adom?)
As Jewish organizations scramble to muster aid to a northern Israel scorched by a wildfire the government was hard-pressed to contain, the relief effort has triggered a debate over who should pick up the tab for an evident lack of preparedness.

In his blog on The Atlantic Monthly’s website, Jeffrey Goldberg, a former IDF soldier and author not known as an Israel critic, questioned in a series of posts why Jews in the diaspora should absorb the firefighting costs of a government that presides over a thriving economy, and one that has been widely acclaimed for its technological innovation.

“Israel’s per capita GDP is nearly $30,000,” wrote Goldberg. “Israel is a rich country. The fact that it doesn’t possess adequate firefighting equipment is its own fault. The fact that the leadership of its fire service is incompetent is its own fault. At some point, the good-hearted Diaspora Jews who still think of Israel as a charity case are going to have to tell their cousins to learn to fully fund basic services like firefighting if they want to be thought of as citizens of an advanced country.”Goldberg, whose posts have ignited their own firestorm of feedback, is not alone in rapping Israel’s government.

Writing in The Jerusalem Post on Monday, Daniel Gordis, without addressing the fundraising campaigns, noted that the catastrophe, which cost 42 lives, pointed to a jarring lack of preparedness as well as infrastructure problems and bad decision-making, such as the order to send into the fire zone a bus full of prison-guard cadets that was consumed, killing everyone aboard as well as the Haifa police chief. That horrific incident accounted for nearly all the casualties.

“The real issue is that just beneath the veneer of this startup nation with its hi-tech firms, its glistening Tel Aviv glass and chrome towers and its luxury hotels lining the beaches of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, this is a country plagued by ailing and unsupervised infrastructure,” wrote Gordis, who is senior vice president of the Shalem Center think tank. “The most honest moment of the entire Carmel Forest catastrophe came Thursday evening, when a fire service spokesperson virtually cried in an interview with Channel 2, saying that the country was completely out of fire-fighting materials, that equipment wasn’t working, and that somehow the fire had to be stopped, because ‘the State of Israel is at stake.’ ”

Israel, one of the most sparsely forested nations, has about 1,400 firefighters protecting 7.6 million people. The state appeared out of its league in responding to an earlier catastrophe, again in northern Israel, when in 2006, Hezbollah rockets smashed communities near the border as Israeli troops routed terrorists from southern Lebanon. Then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was assailed for inaction and embarrassed when a Russian-born billionaire, Arcadi Gaydamak stepped in to facilitate the evacuation of thousands of residents.

This time around, Israel’s spontaneous, perhaps desperate, response was evident in a story circulating from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s press office involving the city’s deputy fire commissioner, who, at the request of the consulate here, worked the phones last Thursday to find a supply of fire-retardant foam.
“We don’t use it here in New York, where we only have occasional brush fires,” Deputy Commissioner Frank Gribbon said in an interview Tuesday. “So we turned to the U.S. Forestry Department.” That put Gribbon on the phone with companies in San Francisco and St. Louis that turned out to be subsidiaries of a company based in Tel Aviv, Israel Chemicals Ltd.

By the end of the day Gribbon had assurances that the Israeli company was sending a planeload of the foam to Israel.
“In a crisis, sometimes this is what happens,” said Gribbon of the irony.

The Jewish National Fund has kicked off a $10 million campaign for fire relief, with $500,000 already sent to Israel. The organization will refocus its previously scheduled benefit concert on Dec. 12 at Hofstra University on Long Island, originally intended to raise money for a reservoir, toward reforestation and aid to the victims.

The Atlantic’s Goldberg suggests that instead of contributing to JNF, concerned donors should consider victims of the fire such as the Yemin Orde orphanage near Haifa, which was severely damaged in the fire.

JNF CEO Russell Robinson, said Goldberg’s assertion that the government should go it alone “shows a complete lack of understanding and ignorance.

“The same could be said about the U.S. and [Hurricane] Katrina or special campaigns for floods or mudslides or wildfires in Montana or 9/11. That means we should only be dealing with things for which are prepared?”

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, noted on Tuesday the difference between the government of Israel asking for money, which it has not done, and supporters of the Jewish state wanting to show solidarity through checkbooks and donation boxes.“This is a response by a Jewish community that feels they want to help,” said Hoenlein. “There are legitimate internal questions that have to be addressed about how much infrastructure they have and how the response was delayed. But it’s very hard for any country to have the capacity to handle something they haven’t experienced before. To sustain the fleet of airplanes you need [to fight forest fires] is difficult for any country.”

“People are distorting this as some sort of embarrassment that the country feels they have to appeal for help.”

In an interview on Tuesday, Goldberg said that while the government has not directly asked for donations, “it doesn’t have to have its hand out because it knows the JNF will get diaspora Jews to [donate] so they can waste money on whatever they waste money on.”

He said since his initial blog post he has heard from supportive Israelis who also oppose what Goldberg calls “schnorring” for fire equipment funds.

“They’re big boys in the Israeli government,” said Goldberg. “They’ve had years of incompetence on this issue. The air force got out of the fire suppression business 10 years ago. Are you a ‘startup nation’ or not?”

He was referring to a book by Dan Senor and Saul Singer subtitled “The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle.”

In a blog linked to Goldberg’s, Yaacov Lozowick, a Jerusalem historian, noted that given the magnitude of the drought-fueled flames as they raced through the forest, it is not likely that any level of preparation would have made a significant impact. Still, Lozowick noted that “Israel is a sovereign country with a functioning state, and we’ll deal with whatever needs to be dealt with. Lost lives are lost forever, but all the other parts of the story will be fixed; even the charred forest will eventually recover, though it may take a generation.”

Donations, he said, are better sent to earthquake relief in Haiti or flood relief in Pakistan.

But even as the last embers smolder, there are no signs of the fundraising abating, as Jewish organizations here open their hearts and wallets to help Israel, often in the spotlight for helping other countries in their times of need, cope with its own large-scale disaster.

Funds have been established by the Jewish Federations of North America, American Jewish Committee and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. AJC said on Tuesday it will make an initial donation of $100,000 from its Israel Emergency Assistance Fund and will sponsor tree-planting ceremonies for ambassadors of countries that helped quench the flames, including Azerbaijan, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Holland, Italy, Jordan, Romania, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the U.S.

J Street, the pro-peace-process lobby, announced on Monday a $10,000 donation to match an additional $10,000 the lobbying group will raise to help rebuild damaged communities in the north. “Many of us have spent considerable time in the north — hiking, living, and exploring a lush and fascinating part of Israel — and some of us have family and friends affected directly by the fires,” said the Washington-based organization in an e-mail. “We want to do our part.”

The Orthodox Union and National Council of Young Israel each called on their member congregations to help. The OU established its own fund, the OU-Forest Fire campaign, while Young Israel will collect funds for the Israel Trauma Coalition, an organization formed to help communities in the north affected by missile attacks during the 2006 war against Hezbollah. The coalition partners with more than 60 organizations to deliver services. Both the OU and Young Israel promised to absorb administrative costs to enable 100 percent of donations to go to Israel.

Also pitching in is the American fundraising arm for the University of Haifa, which established an emergency appeal with a multi-million dollar goal to provide humanitarian support to the university community. “Our students and faculty live in the communities threatened and devastated by the fire and the campus itself is vulnerable,” said Aaron Ben-Ze’ev, the university’s president.

Goldberg said he personally donated to the Jewish Federation of North America emergency fund and plans to go to Israel in two weeks with his family in search of a volunteer opportunity.

“I feel this very deeply,” he said. “And it’s because I feel it so deeply that I’m pissed off.”

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bayamim haHAM bizman hazeh...???

Only in America!
However after posting the above we received a second photograph and caption:
Chanukah is coming early this year. To prepare, Walmart, is offering a special deal on swine meat...something sure to peak the interest of our Jewish brothers.
Thanks to Marketing Blunder of the Week fan Dave C who spotted this in Connecticut.
Seems this is all just a Photoshop hoax...(but  why is 'spiral ham' so much more expensive than 'boneless'...?)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

NZ Shechita scandal: "Carter must go"

So it's not only Michael Danby who is calling for the departure of New Zealand Agriculture Minister David Carter. Here is a recent piece from the NZ left-wing website "The Standard" making the same demand and accusing Carter for  conflict of interests, corruption and breaking the law.

Carter must go

Agriculture Minister David Carter has been exposed abusing his ministerial powers to protect the trade interests of his private investments. Earlier this year, Carter banned Jewish religious slaughtering practices because of perceived risks to the meat trade with Muslim nations after being briefed by companies he owns that take part in the trade.

The issue was this: both Jewish and Muslim religious practice requires animals that are about to be slaughtered for food to be prayed over and have their necks slit. In an exemption from normal practice, New Zealand has dispensation from some Muslim clerics to stun the animals before halal slaughter. No such exemption exists for animals killed under shechita, the Jewish rules (nothing in this post should be taken as defending shechita or halal, it’s about rule of law).

As I understand it, most of the meat produced in New Zealand is slaughtered according to halal because its easier that way for the meat producers sending meat to the large Muslim markets. In contrast, just 2,000 chickens and 300 sheep a year are slaughtered for the small observant Jewish population.

The right of the Jewish community to continue its practice had been affirmed numerous times in the past decade on human rights grounds.

Meat exporters feared that if Muslim importers became aware that Jews were being allowed to slaughter animals without stunning them while Muslims were being required to make an exemption to their rules and allow stunning, they would perceive it as special treatment for Jews over Muslims and refuse to buy New Zealand meat. This had not happened in all the time the meat exporters had been raising their concerns but still they were worried.

Then along came the new minister, David Carter, who just so happens to own shares in Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group, both of which export halal meat to the Muslim market and “a 1200ha cattle breeding property in Teddington, a fattening unit at Southbridge and shares in a property in Waiau.” The meat exporters, including ones he part owns, lobbied him on the issue of banning schechita to protect the halal trade.
What Carter should have done when considering the issue of shechita slaughter is say ‘well, I’ve got major financial interests in one of the parties that has skin in this game. There is no way I can make a decision without a perception that my personal interests have coloured my judgment. I have a conflict of interest’. He should have then passed the issue on to his associate minister.

But he didn’t.

Instead, he handled the issue himself and decided to ban shectita.

To compound the conflict of interest, in making his decision Carter broke the rules. The law around animal slaughtering does not allow the minister to consider trade implications. Carter was only allows to consider animal welfare in making his decision. Yet the paper trial clearly shows that Carter did consider trade implications. Not only did he have a conflict of interest that should have barred him from making a decision in the first place, when it came to making the decision, Carter broke the rules to take special note of the consequences for companies he owns.

I’m going to say that again because it’s very important: in making his decision, Carter broke the law and the conflict of interest rules by considering the business implications for companies that he has a financial interest in.

What followed was the Jewish community taking a judicial review of Carter’s decision (where a court decides if the decision was made according to the rules). It appears Carter had lost one case and was about to lose another when he suddenly agreed to drop the ban on shechita. Crown Law won’t say how much the taxpayer has spent trying to defend Carter’s corruption.

I don’t see how a minister who acts with a clear conflict of interest to make a decision that advantages his personal financial interests and breaks the law to do so can be allowed to remain in office.

John Key, according to the report, is ‘relaxed’.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Rabbi Dovid Rubinfeld does it again!

Maoz Tsur - as you have never heard (or seen) it before.

The rabbi's Rosh Hashono musical messsage had over 103,000 views.
How many will this one get?

Michael Danby - battling the "Hellenists" in New Zealand

Michael Danby, by by taking a very public stand on behalf of the Jewish community of New Zealand against an allegedly corrupt Minister, has again confirmed that he is a courageous and fearless champion for the rights of Jews (and indeed other minorities) not only here in Australia - but anywhere in the world where their freedom to practice their religion is under threat.

How fitting that his most recent combat is taking place during Chanukah - the festival that celebrates the victory of the Jewish nation over the Hellenists of old whose intention was להשכיחם תורתך ולהעבירם מחוקי רצונך.

On behalf of Jews everywhere, Michael, we thank you, we salute you and we are proud of you!

Danby said if the allegations against Carter were proven, his decision was "unethical and discriminatory.”

“What kind of minister would sell out his countrymen to foreign powers because he secretly thought it would be of some commercial advantage?" Danby asked. “In Australia he would be driven out of public life. That’s what Prime Minister John Key should do with Minister Carter.”

Carter, who denies the allegations, declared the ban on shechitah on May 27. Jewish leaders filed a lawsuit against Carter that was due to be heard Monday in the High Court in Wellington, but on Nov. 26, lawyers for Carter agreed to allow the kosher slaughter of poultry, averting a potentially embarrassing legal showdown between the Jewish community and the Kiwi government, whose leader, Key, is the son of a Jewish refugee.

No deal has yet been struck on lamb; kosher beef will likely have to be imported from Australia.

The Jewish community argued that the ban was a breach of New Zealand’s Bill of Rights. Shechitah has been carried out in New Zealand since 1843.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bangladeshi report on New Zealand's Shechitah ban

AJN Watch presents its readers with a very interesting article from "Blitz" - a Bangladashi publication whhose pro-Jewish and Israel stance is something of a rrity in the Muslim world. Its banner states:

This article claims that the New Zealand authorities have been selling "treif" - which they  describe as "non-kosher [haram]" meat to Muslim countries - a fact that has only been disclosed now after the eruption of the scandal behind the Shechitah ban created by the Agriculture Minister David Carter whose financial interests in a company that exports meat to Muslim countries have only now been exposed.

Jews and Muslims are forbidden to consume blood. If an animal is stunned before slaughter, not all its blood will drain away.

Silver Fern Farms as well as Alliance Group Limited are New Zealand's leading procurers, processors and marketers of sheep, lamb, beef and venison. According to laws in New Zealand, animals are stunned before being killed [kosher and halal slaughter is banned according to law of the country]. Iceland, Norway and Sweden also banned kosher and halal slaughter in the past. Under the newly instated Animal Welfare Commercial Slaughter Code in New Zealand, announced by Agriculture Minister David Carter, commercially killed animals would have to be stunned before slaughter. Under the new law, animals are being given electric shock or injection with the objective of getting it stunned [unconscious]. Subsequently the animal is killed either through slaughter or stabbing. In such case, the meat remains both non-kosher and haram for Jews and Muslims.

Before the Second World War, religious slaughter was tolerated in Europe, except for four countries [Switzerland in 1893, Norway in 1930, Poland and Sweden in 1938]. Religious slaughter without stunning was prohibited in several countries in Europe from 1936 to 1944 under the occupation of Nazi Germany [Germany in 1936, Italy in 1938, then in the majority of the other European countries according to the Nazi Germany occupation progress between 1940 and 1944]. The ritual method of slaughter as practiced in Islam and Judaism has been described as inhumane by animal welfare organizations in the U.K. and the U.S.A., who have stated that it "causes severe suffering to animals."

In 1978, a study incorporating EEG [electroencephalograph] with electrodes surgically implanted on the skull of 17 sheep and 15 calves, and conducted by Wilhelm Schulze et al. at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Germany concluded that "the slaughter in the form of a ritual cut is, if carried out properly, painless in sheep and calves according to EEG recordings and the missing defensive actions" [of the animals] and that "For sheep, there were in part severe reactions both in bloodletting cut and the pain stimuli" when captive bolt stunning [CBS] was used.

In 2003, the Farm Animal Welfare Council [FAWC], an independent advisory group, concluded that the way halal and kosher meat is produced causes severe suffering to animals and should be banned immediately. FAWC argued that cattle required up to two minutes to bleed to death when such means are employed. The Chairperson of FAWC at the time, Judy MacArthur Clark, added, "this is a major incision into the animal and to say that it doesn't suffer is quite ridiculous."

Halal and kosher butchers deny that their method of killing animals is cruel and expressed anger over the FAWC recommendation. In April 2008, the Food and Farming minister in the United Kingdom, Lord Rooker, stated that halal and kosher meat should be labeled when it is put on sale, so that members of the public can decide whether or not they want to buy food from animals that have been bled to death. He was quoted as saying, "I object to the method of slaughter ... my choice as a customer is that I would want to buy meat that has been looked after, and slaughtered in the most humane way possible."

The same years, the French Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fishing has published ASIDCOM's Bibliographical Report on Religious Slaughter and the Welfare of Animals, as a contribution within the framework of a meeting on animals and society organized in the first half of the year 2008. This report quotes scientific papers and French veterinary PhD which support the equality or even possible superiority of religious slaughter to other methods of slaughter. This report quotes in particular the Ph.D work of Dr Pouillaude which concludes by: "religious slaughter would thus be a less stressing mode of slaughter. Conclusions of all the scientific experiments converge towards a firmly supported certainty: properly carried out, religious slaughter is the most humane way because it leads to less trauma to animals to be killed to be consumed for its meat".

For the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Humane Society International, "the animals that are slaughtered according to kosher and halal should be securely restrained, particularly the head and neck, before cutting the throat" as "movements [during slaughter] results in a poor cut, bad bleeding, slow loss of consciousness, if at all, and pain."

At the European Airlines and New Zealand airlines as well as hotels and restaurants are serving non-kosher as well as haram meat to the customers, without informing that the animal was stunned and killed with bolt gun. There is visibly tremendous campaign in United Kingdom against kosher and halal slaughter of animals. Some of the leading politicians in United Kingdom are also campaigning against kosher and halal slaughter and suggesting that halal and kosher meat should be banned in that country. They term kosher and halal slaughter as "barbaric method."

Another report on the accusations agains the Minister:
Click here for more.

And another article about the Shechitah ban in Blitz:
More here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Have a lichtigen Chanukah!!!

From Judah Maccaboy: Enjoy!

And listen to that old favourite, Tom Lehrer's
 "I'm spending Chanukah in Santa Monica":

I'm spending Hannukah
in Santa Monica,
Wearing sandals,
lighting candles
by the sea,

I spent Shavuos
in East Saint Louis,
A charming spot,
but clearly not
the spot for me...

Those eastern winters,
I can't endure 'em
So every year I pack my gear
and come out here 'til Purim

Rosh Hashona
I spend in Arizona
And Yom Kippah
way down in Mississippah
But in December
there's just one place for me

Mid the California flora
I'll be lighting my Menorah
Like a baby in its cradle
I'll be playing with my Draydel
Here's to Judas Maccabeus,
boy if he could only see us

Spending Hannukah,
in Santa Monica,
by the sea!