Vive la France!

Holy Shi'ite! Islam's double standard


Jewish World Review June 2, 2005 / 24 Iyar, 5765


By Cal Thomas

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Muslim countries apply a double standard when it comes to the treatment of religious books and people who differ in faith and practice from their dogma

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Pentagon has acknowledged five instances in which guards or interrogators at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, handled the Koran in such a way as to cause offense to some who believe it is the revealed word of Allah. Three are said to have been three deliberate and two unintentional.

Amnesty International has put the United States high on the list of countries it says are guilty of prisoner and human rights abuses because of the way suspected terrorists are treated. The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Richard Myers, rebutted the notion of inappropriate treatment of detainees last weekend when he told Fox News Sunday that these are people who would "slit our throats, our children's throats" were they to be set free.

Islamic countries apply a double standard when it comes to the treatment of "holy books" and people who differ in faith and practice from Islamic dogma. While Islamic groups in the United States are engaged in "sensitivity training" sessions for non-Muslims that have included federal workers, the Ohio National Guard and U.S. Air Force Academy, there are no such training sessions directed at Muslims to teach them tolerance for non-Islamic faiths. Quite the contrary.

While the slightest verbal or physical slight of any Muslim in America is immediately condemned by activist groups and sometimes the U.S. government, the denigration of Jews and Christians throughout much of the Islamic world is theological and political business as usual. Jews are regularly referred to as "apes and pigs," mostly because that is what the Koran calls them.

According to the MEMRI-TV Monitor Project, which observes the way Jews, especially, are portrayed throughout the Middle East, a Jordanian produced program titled "Stories From Before the Verses Came Down" was aired in February on Saudi Iqra TV. The soap opera contained familiar anti-Semitic stuff, including blaming ancient Jews for distorting their own Torah to make it seem like Mohammad could not be the "true prophet" and portraying a Jewish character saying, "We are the slayers of prophets, and we live off their blood! We live for destroying them"

According to a report authored by former CIA Director James Woolsey for Freedom House, the government of Saudi Arabia has made it a practice to disseminate propaganda about Jews, Christians and America through mosques in the U.S. and through schools, many of which are funded by the extremist Wahhabi Islamic sect.

The 89-page report titled, "Saudi publications on hate ideology fill American mosques," concludes that propaganda collected from U.S. mosques shows a "totalitarian ideology of hatred that can incite to violence." The report also says such mosques are in the minority, but how many are needed to train terrorists who might attack the U.S. with biological, chemical or nuclear weapons?

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Throughout much of the Islamic world, the practice of Christianity and Judaism is severely restricted, if not outlawed. The Freedom House report said Saudi publications "state that it is a religious obligation for Muslims to hate Christians and Jews" and that, under Saudi law, Muslims who convert to any other faith "are to be put to death."

In a column four years ago, The Washington Post's Richard Cohen wrote, "The Arab world is the last bastion of unbridled, unashamed, unhidden and unbelievable anti-Semitism. Hitlerian myths get published in the popular press as incontrovertible truths. The Holocaust either gets minimized or denied. … How the Arab world will ever come to terms with Israel when Israelis are portrayed as the devil incarnate is hard to figure out." Little, if anything, has changed since he wrote those words.

Despite the Western diplomatic talk about Arabs and Palestinians living in peace with even a geographically reduced Israel, the Arab world demonstrates no intention of coming to terms with Israel or the Jewish (or Christian) people, unless those terms involve their complete subjugation to Islam, or their deaths.

The State Department acknowledged for the first time during the Clinton Administration that Christians — from China, to the Sudan, to the Middle East — have become the most persecuted faith group in the world. Yet those persecutors are not pressured into the kind of sensitivity training Muslim groups in America demand at the slightest slight, whether actual, imagined or concocted.

To accept this Islamic double standard creates a significant threat to the United States.

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Elias Friedman A.S., NREMT-P
& Pongo the Spotted Wonder!

Standing tall after challenges


Jewish World Review June 2, 2005 / 24 Iyar, 5765


By Rabbi Berel Wein

Interested in purchasing the book from which this series is excerpted, please click here.

"Our forefather Abraham was tested with ten trials and he withstood them all — to show the degree of our forefather Abraham's love of the Divine."

                      Pirkei Avos 5:4

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The true measure of a person is how one reacts to pressure, disappointment, danger, and difficulty.

There are those who grow from such experiences, and there are those who falter because of them. For most people, it is better not to be tempted and not to be tested.

In the Jewish daily morning prayers we ask G-d not to subject our faith and moral deportment to tests and undue stress, but no one really escapes being tested. The marketplace and the office, the street and the culture of society, the media and the human failings of supposed heroes, all rise to challenge our Jewish convictions, faith, and life style.

Our tests in life are numerous and complex, sometimes blatant, mostly subtle. In fact, the Rabbis attest that the more righteous and pious a person attempts to become, the more likely it is that he will be constantly tested. Thus, we can appreciate that the tests of Abraham, too, were many and varied.

In fact, there is no unanimity among the commentators as to what his particular ten tests were. If we will add up all the varying tests offered by the different commentators we will arrive at a number far higher than ten. All agree, however, that the Akeidah — G-d's command that Abraham sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar at Mount Moriah was one of the tests, if not the primary one.

The Jewish people internalized the test of the Akeidah within their national life. It is no exaggeration to say that the Jewish people have always lived in the shadow of the Akeidah, and it is the greatness of Israel that it has survived and even prospered in a world of this constant test. Jewry has emerged greater from every Akeidah in its history.

AND HE WITHSTOOD [LIT. HE STOOD] THEM ALL. In my opinion, the important lesson of this mishnah lies in these words. Abraham stood tall after every test. He became greater. Thus he could be tested again in the surety that he would not be broken by the continued challenges thrust upon him. This was the essential difference between Abraham and Noah. Noah overcame one great challenge in his lifetime — the building of the Ark and the flood — but was unable to deal with the challenges of the post-flood world. He lived for well over three hundred years after the flood, but he retired from the fray after his one great challenge. Not so Abraham who influenced mankind primarily because of his ability to became even greater from every challenge and test.

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Throughout history, simply being a Jew has been a major test. It is a test that no Jew escapes, not those who attempt to completely assimilate nor those who disdain the outside world and attempt to isolate themselves from it. Built into the Jewish DNA, so to speak, is this tenacious attribute of our father Abraham, the ability and willingness to face tests and challenges and overcome them. Abraham, who is the symbol of goodness, kindness, and tolerance, and who could therefore be mistaken as just a "good guy," is in reality the tenacious person of faith, strong in heart and stubborn in behavior, who cannot be shaken from his belief in G-d and the positive future of human destiny, even by ten tests.

Emergency Medical Service News

The picture of the burning gas well in the first story is pretty neat. I'll bet its pretty hot around there!


Gas well explosion forces 9 families to evacuate
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Grants Available for South Dakota Firefighters and EMTs
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EMS News

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City, county negotiate EMS funding
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New Name For Tax Has EMS Worried About Contributions
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... formally ceases serving Scottsdale June 30, Rural/Metro-owned Southwest Ambulance will be providing service to Scottsdale for up to a year -- until the ...

New ambulance for district hospital
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A DISTRICT hospital received an ambulance on Tuesday from a festival organising committee to strengthen its fleet. The Nadi Bula ...

Mission to launch air ambulance
ic SurreyOnline.co.uk - Surrey,England,UK
... Mr Philpott is chief executive of Kent Air Ambulance Trust and he is aiming to make the trust's life-saving helicopter service available for emergencies in ...

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Paramedic Who Bit Parrot's Head Off Gets Probation
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A paramedic who bit the head off a live pet parrot at a party will not go to jail, according to Local 6 News. Bruce Coates, 34, was at a party in Feb. ...

Patient's kick puts paramedic in hospital
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... A 37-year-old South Haven woman, Kelly Katona, was arrested for beating a police officer, slugging a firefighter/paramedic , resisting police and public ...

Currin retires: Fire captain will teach
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... Now, at the paramedic level, EMTs administer cardiac drugs and place tracheal tubes for breathing, Currin said. ... He was certified as a paramedic in 1996. ...

Cyclist News

Cyclist Armstrong misses out on Discovery Channel team race
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BY SAM CARCHIDI. PHILADELPHIA - (KRT) - Lance Armstrong won't make a farewell-tour stop in Philadelphia on Sunday, won't try to climb ...

American cyclist Tyler Hamilton appeals to overturn doping ban
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Cyclist shows his heart
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Aboard his recumbent tricycle, Mr Pearson, flanked by other riders, cycled into Maryborough to complete his trek around Victoria. ...

Lotz resigns from cycling team
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Dutch cyclist Marc Lotz has resigned from the Quick Step team because of a doping violation. The ProTour cycling team said in a ...

Martinez cyclist discovers right criterium for success
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By Joe Stiglich. Kim Cunningham's first organized bicycle race was a memorable one -- for all the wrong reasons. The gun sounded ...

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Comprehensive Health Services to Provide Onsite Health Units and ...
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ELMONT, NY--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 1, 2005--Comprehensive Health Services (CHS), an occupational health and wellness services company, will be providing ...

Refining Emergency Severity Index Triage Criteria
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... white (54%), African American (28%), Hispanic (9%) and Asian (3%). The distribution of arrival mode was self (73%), emergency medical services (21%), police (2 ...

Bicycle News

Duluth students hope to build community, one bicycle at a time
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... The plan, which is part of the school's spring symposium series, is to place bikes at several existing city bicycle racks in downtown and Canal Park. ...

Seven Marlborough residents to bicycle in Great Mass Getaway
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WALTHAM -- Seven Marlborough residents are training hard in preparation for a 150-mile bike ride June 25-26 to benefit the Central New England Chapter of the ...

Two hurt in crash of motorcycle, bicycle
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The Winnebago County Sheriff's Department said Ronald J. Schacherl, 39, of Oshkosh, was riding a bicycle east on G when he turned left in front of an ...

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... Perhaps schools should look at what many work places do ... Grace Hospital/Deer Lodge Centre put a big bicycle cage in the yard with a keyed door. ...

Zany Umbrella Circus to present 'Tinker'
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... and clowns. Conspire with some renegade welders, bicycle mechanics and musicians. The result ... Or a bicycle on steroids. "We kind of came ...

Coming Soon: A National EMS Administration?


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

By Joseph Cahill, jcahill@domprep.com
Emergency Medicine Channel Master
Download T.I.P.S. Issue 01-June-05

Establishment of a national office representing city, state, and federal EMS (Emergency Medical Services) departments and agencies is a proposal that has been discussed for years. Last month, George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute gave the proposal new impetus with the release of an "Issue Brief" titled Back to the Future: An Agenda for Federal Leadership of Emergency Medical Services.

Background: The United States Fire Administration (USFA) is a subunit of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS ). The goal of USFA is to improve the quality of fire protection within the United States. The USFA's organizational structure is broken down into four components to match the agency's major roles: fire statistics and data; fire education and training; public education; and fire technology.

The USFA does an exceptional job in meeting all four goals for the collective U.S. firefighting community. Not surprisingly, inclusion of the USFA in the Department of Homeland Security has heated up the discussion of establishing a National EMS Administration as well. The argument goes somewhat as follows: In the emergency-response world as well as in the homeland-security world the availability of a cadre of responders who can provide lifesaving care, immediately and on the scene of a disaster or terrorist incident, both to the public and to other responders can mean the difference – literally – between life and death. (This is why many SWAT teams and rescue units have specially trained paramedics on their teams.) The importance of this role should be reflected in the type of support and resources provided at the federal, state, and local levels.

What Is EMS and Why Is it in DOT?
EMS, simply put, is a system devised to provide medical care while transporting sick or injured people to the hospital. During the early age of EMS, ambulances were run by mortuaries and often served double duty as hearses, very little if any medical treatment was provided, and the "ambulance" was simply two strong backs and a ride. After the publication of the National Academy of Science's ( NAS) White Paper Accidental Death and Disability: the Neglected Disease of Modern Society, ambulances moved forward from the two-strong-backs stage to a model for providing first aid at the scene. The NAS White Paper pointed to accidents as the major cause of death among the young and suggested that many of these deaths could and would have been prevented if simple lifesaving care had been provided prior to arrival at the hospital.

Because the White Paper's principal focus was on car accident fatalities and injuries, the federal role in EMS has always been assigned to the Department of Transportation (DOT) – more specifically, to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration ( NHTSA). This first-aid model has grown to encompass the entire scope of emergency medicine. Paramedics now provide medications on the scene and carry out various lifesaving techniques both on the scene and in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

An important divide within EMS has always been emergency versus non-emergency. Emergency or 911 ambulance work is just what it sounds like: transportation from the scene of the emergency to the hospital. Many patients are too fragile, though, or are bed- bound, and/or require too much care to travel home from the hospital – or to other ancillary treatment facilities – in anything but an ambulance. Today, this is the realm of the non-emergency ambulance.

Despite this distinction, these two functions are regulated in the same way and, to perform in either realm, the ambulance must have the same equipment and staffing. Often the same ambulance will perform both roles within the community.

The other important ways in which EMS is divided as a community is similar to those within the firefighting community – volunteers vs. paid career staff; municipal government agency vs. third-party; and the varying types of units involved.

A Vital Component of the First-Responder Mix
"Why all the commotion – it's just ambulance drivers [who are involved]?" That is a question that is frequently asked (here it should be noted that the term "ambulance driver" is considered by most in the EMS community to be pejorative). Why? The answer is that, because almost everyone needs emergency care and a fast ride to the hospital at some time in his or her life, the kinds of emergencies that the DHS was created to prepare for require trained medical staff significantly more than the "normal" emergency does.

Consider one of the principal events that led to the creation of the DHS – namely, the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, and specifically the attack on the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City. Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics rushed to the scene of the disaster along with firefighters and police officers, carrying out their role of providing patient care in the plaza surrounding the WTC – until they were chased from their positions by the falling towers.

It is indicative of the dedication of these professionals that, like their police and firefighter counterparts, they dusted themselves off and walked back toward the plaza after the collapses. At that point, the New York Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue Team (NYTF-1) moved in to join the search for survivors in the moonscape of WTC; the paramedics and EMS physicians were an integral part of that team, and continue to serve in that role today.

The simple answer to the question is the same for the WTC collapse on 9/11 as it is to the two-car accident on the highway: Patients do better when they are provided early care.

One of the major distinctions between the fire, police, and EMS communities is that, although there are some for-profit EMS agencies, there are very few for-profit police or fire agencies. This distinction is often pointed out in the form of a question: "Should we [ i.e., the state, federal, or local government] be funding the training of the staff of a for-profit agency?" A partial answer is that "we" already are. According to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS) "JEMS 200", an annual survey of the EMS systems of the 200 most populous cities in the United States, 35 of the nation's 100 most heavily populated cities use one or more private carriers to complement their own 911 ambulance systems.

Many other cities and municipalities not large enough to make the list of 100 most populous cities also contract out at least some of their EMS work. In addition, many hospitals provide EMS services to the communities surrounding them. Many of these contractors and hospitals provide non-emergency transport as part of their day-to-day operations, and many also follow a plan that allows them to use all of their ambulances for either 911 or non-emergency calls.

As a result of this dual role (911 and non-emergency), there is no way to exclude those that do not make emergency runs from any agency that has responsibility for 911 calls. More important, however, is that during a catastrophic emergency even non-emergency ambulances will almost certainly be pressed into service. There was, in fact, a line of 25-30 non-emergency units on West Street, above the WTC, on 11 September 2001, and Yamel Merino, a MetroCare EMT, was lost that day as a result of answering a response assigned by the 911 system.

Why a NEMSA?
The reasons why many senior officials at every level of government say a National EMS Administration (NEMSA) is needed are much the same as those that drove the creation of the United States Fire Administration – i.e., the need for national EMS statistics and data; for the education and training of EMS personnel; for a public-education program in the EMS field; and for a national center for the advancement of EMS technology and science. Perhaps the most important reason, though, to shift federal EMS authority into the Department of Homeland Security through creation of a NEMSA is to give this critical first-responder community the ability to compete for training and federal funding within the overall federal bureaucracy.

Today, many local EMS agencies are unable to fulfill their domestic preparedness training needs in a meaningful, effective, and cost-effective, way. In reality, most of them simply do not have the resources needed to support responder-training or public-education programs on their own. There are some exceptions, of course, such as a few of the major municipal EMS agencies – the EMS agencies in New York City and Seattle, for example, have a wealth of experience and data about what they do. However, most other cities and towns throughout the United States are protected by relatively small, often volunteer, organizations.

Even a small local department may be able to develop an exceptionally good program focused on a single need or requirement – usually, though, because it has someone who is both knowledgeable and experienced in that particular field. The same department, though, may be out of date and/or lacking expertise in many other areas. A national-level program would allow all EMS departments and agencies to pool their expertise to meet a significantly varied menu of needs and priorities, contributing when and where they can to other departments, and drawing from those other departments the expertise and experience they may be lacking.

EMS Statistics and Data
Although there are many studies that indicate one medical treatment may be better than another, few address the specific needs of the pre-hospital environment. Moreover, the same studies often are driven by a manufacturer's need to demonstrate effectiveness and safety. A national data program could not only study specific treatments, but also look at the national EMS system as a while, in the same way that fire statistics collected by USFA look at firefighting as a whole.

One might ask why and how it helps to compile data "without a focus and a goal." The answer is that extraordinary findings often emerge when data is compiled over a large system and for a considerable length of time. That is why the USFA compiles fire data. In short, because unknown, and often unsuspected, patterns emerge from such data, and questions can be raised that might otherwise never have been asked. Most local EMS agencies do not do the volume of work required to allow them to look at the data collected in a statistically significant way. By spreading the data collection nationally, the volume of information compiled rises to a relevant level rather quickly.

A National EMS Technology and Science Center;
The Education and Training of EMS Personnel

In addition to the collection of data, there logically should be a way to promote the creation and/or improvement of technology based on that data. Most comparisons of equipment and techniques within the EMS community are either funded by an EMS manufacturer, or occur as a side effect of a program supported by a national organization, or are set up in an ad hoc fashion to meet the needs of a specific EMS entity. There is no current federal entity assigned to review, support, and/or promote EMS science and technology.

There also is no national EMS training center. There are, though, a number of national emergency training centers – among the most notable are the National Fire Academy ( NFA), the Emergency Management Institute (EMI), the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and the FBI Academy – and a number of contractor facilities focused primarily on homeland security and first-responder training.

Although some federally funded training programs address EMS issues, most do so as a tangential task, and not as the main focus of the program. As a result, EMS participants in such programs frequently gain additional knowledge (about a fire issue, for example) but have to meld that information into their EMS work. The problem with this approach is that each individual processes the information in a different way, based on his or her experience and other training, and this leads to an inconsistent and often incoherent final result.

A national EMS training center would provide the same benefits to emergency first responders in the EMS world as it does to those in the fire and law enforcement worlds.

A More Equitable Distribution of Resources
The main reason why many realistic advocates support creation of a NEMSA is to put EMS on an equal footing with other first-responder communities in terms of their respective positions within the federal bureaucracy. Currently, EMS receives only about four percent of the DHS budget. Considering that there are approximately the same number of EMS workers as there are policemen or firefighters – and that, as noted earlier, many of the same structural divisions exist within each of these communities – this is a somewhat troubling statistic. An examination of what is termed "call volume" finds that police departments generally receive the most calls, followed by EMS agencies, and then fire departments. There are a number of reasons for this disparity – including, of course, the praiseworthy effectiveness of the USFA both in promoting fire-prevention programs and in compiling fire data.

In short, what EMS lacks is a strong advocate agency that can compete at the federal level. Fire and police departments have – and both need and deserve – grant programs that help cover their normal operating costs. But the EMS community does not. Expensive pieces of fire apparatus can be purchased with grant funding, moreover, but EMS equipment usually cannot.

The bottom line is that, if EMS is ever to receive the recognition it deserves as one of the nation's primary first-response communities – and, as a result, be funded and supported more equitably than it now is – it must have a federal advocate agency focused primarily on EMS. If and when enough citizens realize that their own survival, in times of national disasters or other emergencies, including terrorist attacks, depends primarily on the abilities, experience, and dedication of the EMS personnel on the scene, the current inequitable distribution of funding may change. Until then, the EMS community will continue its status as a second-class citizen.

Elias Friedman A.S., NREMT-P
& Pongo the Spotted Wonder!


Very Funny!

Elias Friedman A.S., NREMT-P
& Pongo the Spotted Wonder!

Austin Bay Blog � UPDATED: Fisking Amnesty, Persevering After Moral Compromise

Hat Tip to Austin Bay Blog

U.S. Supreme Court affirms religious rights for prisoners

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Courtesy of the Aleph Institute
Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar, founder and chairman of the Aleph Institute, left, wraps tefillin with an inmate behind bars.
By Matthew E. Berger
WASHINGTON, May 31 (JTA) — Kosher meals and other expressions of religion may become more accessible for state and federal prisoners in America, after the U.S. Supreme Court this week upheld the constitutional right to religious accommodation for minorities in prisons.

In a unanimous decision delivered Tuesday, the high court found the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Prisons Act to be constitutional. The ruling said religious accommodations should be allowed in prisons unless they conflict with a compelling government interest.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the law does not promote religion, as an appeals court had determined, because it does not single out any faith above others.

The Supreme Court also said the law would not place an undue burden on prisons, as the state of Ohio, which challenged the law, had argued.

"We do not read RLUIPA to elevate accommodation of religious observances over an institution's need to maintain order and safety," Ginsburg wrote, using the acronym for the legislation enacted in 2000.

"Our decisions indicate that an accommodation must be measured so that it does not override other significant interests."

The ruling was welcomed by American Jewish organizations across the religious and political spectrum. Many Jewish groups had worked to get the legislation passed in Congress.

Many said an alternative decision could have substantially limited the rights of lawmakers to provide any accommodations for religion.

Marc Stern, counsel for the American Jewish Congress, said the ruling ends the debate over whether government accommodation of religion is equivalent to the establishment of religion. The focus, he said, will now shift to determining the limits of appropriate accommodation.

"It will end the recurring argument about whether prison officials are required to provide religiously acceptable meals," said Stern, who served as co-counsel for the petitioners, representing the Bush administration and several prison inmates.

"The states will now have to come forward with real justification" for denying access to books, worship services and religious materials, like yarmulkes and tefillin, he said.

During oral arguments for the case, Cutter v. Wilkinson, in March, the Supreme Court justices had discussed access to kosher meals as an example of religious interests that should be fulfilled.

Arguing for the plaintiffs, acting U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement said that if state governments accepted federal funds for prison meals, the federal government could ensure that kosher meals were provided.

The court did not rule on another aspect of the law, which requires the government to have a compelling reason if it denies religious organizations reasonable land use.

Stern said that since the court didn't address this issue, it would be easier to defend the constitutionality of the zoning provision under the law, which makes it easier for synagogues and other religious institutions to be built.

Though Jews make up a small proportion of the prison population, they often are discriminated against and denied religious materials, such as kosher meals and tefillin, advocates for Jewish prisoners say.

It is unclear how many Jews are in prison, because the government does not keep statistics on inmates' religion. Chaplain Gary Friedman, chairman of Jewish Prisoner Services International, said his organization is in touch with 5,500 inmates, but estimates the number of Jews in prison could be double that.

Friedman said he is "absolutely delighted" at the ruling, saying it would help prevent phony claims of burdens on prisons to prevent religious expression.

"At one point, all a prison had to do was make a claim," he said. "Clearly, now it is a much heavier hammer and they are going to have to substantiate any claim of compelling government interest."

But, Friedman said, the question will now turn on whether the Justice Department enforces the law.

The case before the court stemmed from complaints by members of several fringe religions — Wicca, Asatru and the Church of Jesus Christ — who filed lawsuits after being denied the ability to worship and buy religious books and ceremonial items in prison.

A U.S. district court in Ohio ruled for the plaintiffs in 2001, saying the act did not violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution — which prevents the state from endorsing a particular religion — because government itself can through legislation alleviate its own restrictions.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reversed the decision in 2003, arguing that the legislation unfairly advances religion by "giving greater protection to religious rights than to other constitutionally protected rights."

The Supreme Court's ruling Tuesday reversed the appeals court.

In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a broader version of the legislation, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, ruling that Congress did not have the authority to enact a law that the court said infringed on states' rights.

Michael Lieberman, Washington counsel for the Anti-Defamation League, noted that Tuesday's opinion cited information and statistics provided to Congress from Jewish organizations during debate over the 2000 legislation.

He said that careful drafting of legislation can help determine a law's constitutionality, and the court can rely in part on that kind of data.

The legislation passed in 2000 had been supported by a wide swath of Jewish groups, many of whom joined the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and other civil liberties groups in a brief backing the petitioners in the case. Those groups included the American Jewish Committee, the ADL, B'nai B'rith International, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and all the major Jewish religious movements.

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Fighting to Protect Her Gift to Japanese Women

The New York Times

May 28, 2005
Peter Blakely for The New York Times

"There are women who don't know what has gone on before," said Beate Sirota Gordon.


IN the back of a theater here, two gray-haired women perched on the edge of their seats, nodding their heads, clapping their hands silently. On the stage, Beate Sirota Gordon, a snowy-haired American grandmother, implored Japanese women to rise in defense of the Japanese Constitution's equal rights clause, which was fundamental, she said, to their rights as women.

She should know. At age 22, she wrote it.

"Japanese women should keep fighting for their rights," Beate-san, as she is known here, said in Japanese to applause from the sold-out crowd.

For half a century, Ms. Gordon and the 24 other Americans who drafted Japan's Constitution in six intense days in 1946 kept a pact of silence sworn to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the postwar American occupation commander. That broke down about a decade ago, and since then Ms. Gordon has left the comfort of retirement and her Manhattan apartment once or twice a year for a lecture tour in Japan.

But now she finds herself, at 81, at the front of a drive by Japanese women to protect "her" Article 24, which proclaims "the essential equality of the sexes." Last year, a constitutional panel of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party denounced the women's rights article as promoting "egoism in postwar Japan, leading to the collapse of family and community."

"I never thought they would attack it," said Ms. Gordon, who only a few years ago was lionized in "A String of Pearls," a Japanese play about the writing of the Constitution, as seen through her eyes.

Conservatives blame the "American imposed" clause for a variety of social ills, including a plunging marriage rate, an anemic birthrate and increasing delinquency in the schools. The clause seems safe for now, but only because the conservatives decided in April to concentrate on winning parliamentary approval to change Article 9, which prohibits Japan from using war to settle disputes.

"It is a threat, and the women realize that, and that is why they are so vociferous," Ms. Gordon said, referring to the reception she received on a punishing eight-city, 12-event speaking and interview tour through Japan in April.

"Beate's Gift," a movie about the legacy of the equal rights amendment, recently opened in theaters around Japan. Hurried through production to parry conservative arguments, the movie splices interviews with successful professional women with Ms. Gordon's account of writing the equal rights article.

"There are now women governors, women mayors, women who are in the media, filmmakers, writers, presidents of companies," Ms. Gordon said at the movie's April 30 debut. "There are women who don't know what has gone on before. Knowing how different it was 60 years ago will encourage them to go on and protect these rights."

A RARE witness to history, Beate-san arrived in Japan at age 5 in 1929, traveling with her parents, Jewish émigrés, on a ship from Vladivostok, Russia. Her father, a pianist, was embarking on what became 16 years of teaching and giving concerts in Japan. Her first memory is arriving at Yokohama Harbor, looking at the dock crowded with people with black hair and black eyes, and asking, "Mama, are they all brothers and sisters?"

But within a decade she had acculturated, learning fluent Japanese through her contact with the stream of artists and intellectuals coming to the house. But she retained an outsider's eye.

"I saw the women walking behind the men in the street," she recalled. "I saw how the mothers prepared the food when the husband came home with his friends from the office. She would serve them dinner, without even talking, then go into the kitchen with the children."

As a teenager, she recalled, Japanese girlfriends would "prepare for marriage, learning flower arranging, but would not even meet their future husbands."

The outbreak of war caught her at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., and her parents at home in Tokyo. During the war she made American government radio broadcasts beamed to Japan, researched Japan for Time magazine, and, in January 1945, became a United States citizen. After the war she raced to Tokyo to track down her parents, who had been detained in a mountain village. As one of a handful of Caucasians with a strong command of Japanese, she became the translator for the constitution writers.

General MacArthur rejected two attempts by Japanese politicians to write constitutions that did little to weaken the country's feudal society and the role of the emperor, and decided the Americans would have to do it. The general's lawyer, Brig. Gen. Courtney Whitney, "called us in and said, 'Ladies and gentlemen, you are now a constitutional assembly and you will now write a new draft of the Japanese Constitution, and it has to be done in seven days,' " she recalled. "We were stunned."

In her memoir, "The Only Woman in the Room," she recounts how in the grueling week of debates, almost all of the clauses that emerged from her Underwood typewriter ended up in the trash basket.

"Colonel Kades said, 'My God, you have given Japanese women more rights than in the American Constitution,' " she recalled, referring to Lt. Col. Charles L. Kades, head of the constitutional steering committee. "I said, 'Colonel Kades, that's not very difficult to do, because women are not in the American Constitution.' "

The test came when the draft was submitted to a group of Japanese ministers and politicians for approval. Japan's prewar civil code regarded wives as incompetent. In 1946, Japanese women had virtually no rights of inheritance, property or divorce, or even to choose their own husbands.

"Immediately they said, 'This doesn't fit our culture, doesn't fit our history; it doesn't fit our way of life,' " Ms. Gordon said of a 2 a.m. confrontation. But during the previous 14 hours of debates, the young American woman had won the gratitude of the Japanese leaders for backing them in previous disagreements with the Americans.

As she recalled it, "Colonel Kades said, 'Miss Sirota has her heart set on the women's rights clause, so why don't we pass it?' "

Asked what "her" article said, Ms. Gordon started reciting the text, then faltered.

"Oh, I have it right here," she said, pulling from around her neck a pink printed silk scarf. "This was made by my fan club here."

"Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis," she said, reading the scarf, which was printed in the six languages she speaks - English, Japanese, Russian, German, French and Spanish. "With regard to choice of spouse, property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile, divorce and other matters pertaining to marriage and the family, laws shall be enacted from the standpoint of individual dignity and the essential equality of the sexes."

For critics who say these are imported concepts, Ms. Gordon told her audience that many of Japan's core cultural attributes were borrowed from overseas - Buddhism, ceramics, ancient court music and the character writing system.

Conservatives who want to turn the clock back to more traditional roles for women will not succeed, she maintained. "After 60 years, it would be very hard to amend it now, it is so much part of Japan's culture."

Lively Parsha - Bamidbar

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Lively Everyone has a special task; the Torah tells you how to do it

The spaceship left Planet Earth in a ball of fire. Man's latest journey to the moon was underway. From his spectacular view in the pilot's seat, Jack could see the breathtaking sight of Planet Earth getting smaller and smaller. His mission, once reaching the moon, would have enormous consequences for all life on the planet.

Suddenly, as he was maneuvering the spaceship, Jack heard static on his radio. "This is a bad sign," proclaimed the worried astronaut. "My radio link to mission control at Cape Kennedy is the only way I can complete my mission. Without the instructions from the supercomputers down there I'll never make it to the moon, and never get back to Planet Earth. I'll end up as an asteroid!"

Jack frantically made adjustments to his radio until finally the message came across crystal clear. "Turn this! Open this! Adjust that!" Jack sighed relief, thrilled to comply with the instructions.

Looking at this scene, we might wonder: Why doesn't Jack reply to mission control, "Leave me alone! Why are you telling me what to do all the time?" Obviously Jack understands that he has a mission to accomplish and only with the help of "Ground Control" can he hope to accomplish it and get home safely.

Judaism says we are all astronauts. The only difference is that we came from above, to this world, with a mission to accomplish. When we come to the next world the first question we will be asked is: "Did you fulfill your mission?"

If we reply, "What mission? I didn't know I had a mission!" They will ask, "Did you really think the purpose of your life was to eat, drink, and be merry? It must have occurred to you at some time that there is something higher and more elevated to life!"

The Torah is our "radio" giving us the "Instructions for Living from Sky Control": the Almighty Himself. We must make sure our receiver is working properly and we are getting the proper messages! (Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe)


The main theme of this biblical book is "Divine Providence." God guides the ways of all the nations, and on the individual level, every person is guided throughout his life by God! We live our lives with the notion that I just "happen" to be born to these parents, at this place, in this time - so as long as I'm here anyway I might as well enjoy myself!

Wrong! You were specifically born to these parents, in this specific place and time, because you have a mission to accomplish and only you are programmed to do this job. Since the beginning of time and until the end of time, there has never been or will ever be someone exactly like you! God runs the world, and each of us has a unique mission on this Earth. Plus the Jewish people have an important contribution to make on civilization.

The Book of Numbers reveals Divine Providence that occurred during the 40 years the Jewish people were camping and traveling in the wilderness. As we will see, the Mitzvot introduced in this book also relate to the theme of God's concern for the welfare of every individual.


The Torah commands Moses and Aaron to count the people.

Question: Why not have some clerk do it?

Second Question: Why is the census called "lift up the heads," as we saw in Parshat Ki Tisa? What's so elevating about being counted?

Answer: True prophets had the ability - at one glance - to reveal a person's positive and negative traits and what his mission in the world should be (Vilna Gaon)! Even the 16th century sage Arizal could read one's misdeeds on his face.

When the individual Jews stood before Moses and Aaron and received their blessings, it was truly an elevating experience. (As opposed to the secular world where a census or an election is somewhat demeaning because you're "just another faceless number.")


By striving for a higher level of holiness, a person can actually raise the level of Divine Providence he receives - and even extend that for all generations! Levi, the son of Jacob, outlived all his brothers and had the most profound effect on his children. This one tribe continued the old traditions, circumcising even in Egypt, and were the only entire tribe not to participate in the Golden Calf. When Moses descended Mount Sinai and proclaimed: "Whoever is on God's side - come to me!" Only the tribe of Levi responded. They administered punishment to those who had overtly sinned with the calf (only 3,000, one-half of one percent of the population). This gave the Levites a special for all generations!

The great early-20th century sage, the Chafetz Chaim (who was a Kohen), once demanded to know why a certain visitor was not a Kohen or a Levi. "Because my father wasn't," the visitor answered.

The sage then asked rhetorically: "So why wasn't your father and grandfather a Kohen or Levi? Because when Moses made his proclamation, my ancestors reacted and yours didn't. The lesson is that the next time you hear, 'Whoever is on God's side, come to me' - you go!"


Every tribe had a banner with a particular color (corresponding to the color of his stone on the High Priest's breastplate) and a specific location in relation to the center of the camp. These were the same directions that they stood (at Jacob's request) as pallbearers at Jacob's funeral. (See Parshat Vayechi)

The sight of the Israelite camp was breathtaking. In the center was the gorgeous Tabernacle surrounded on 4 sides by the Levites (the 3 Levitical families, plus Moses on the 4th side). From there, in each direction, 3 tribes spread out - all worshiping one Creator!

The Midrash says that this corresponds to the scene in Heaven above, of the myriad camps of angels surrounding the "Chariot" of the Almighty! In the "Kedusha" daily prayer as well, we point out this connection. "May we sanctify your name in the world as the angels do in the highest heavens."

In the Shabbat "Musaf" prayer we say: "A crown shall they place on your head, the angels swarming above, and your people Israel gathered below, together they will sanctify Your name." The angels, so to speak, have the Jewish people as their partner in praising God.

In the biblical "love parable" of "Song of Songs," the nations of the world try to seduce the "Shulamit" (one of peace, acronym for the Jewish people) "let us look upon you!" meaning we will give you high positions and great wealth and honor if you will only forsake your old lover and join us! The reply is: "What can you nations of the world offer us, that even remotely compares to the sign of love we had in the camps?" (Song of Songs 7:1) (Notice how "camps" is plural, denoting the camp of the Angels and the camp of Israel!)

At Sinai, the heavens opened and the people had a glimpse of the camp of the angels. This picture of the camps surrounding the Tabernacle, along with the angels above, is the picture of perfection in this world.


The image of the Israelite camp is like a wheel with many spokes all leading to one hub. There have always been many ways to be a "good Jew." There are 12 tribes. There are Kohanim, Levites and Israelites. There are Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and different brands of Chassidim. There are hundreds of communities worldwide with different customs and stressing different priorities.

Yet all these groups are committed to the same goal: a close relationship with God, following the path of Torah law. This is distinguished from a "Jewish Pluralism" that forsakes the framework of Torah beliefs, which effectively detaches the spokes from their hub. As one example, nobody will claim in the name of pluralism that Jews for Jesus is a valid branch of Judaism! (Rabbi Motti Berger)


The tribe of Levi was counted from the age of 30 days - as opposed to the other Israelite tribes who were counted from the age of 20 years. We find the mother of Moses, Yocheved, was counted as Jewish soul number 70 when Jacob went down to Egypt, even though she was a newborn baby. After 30 days (when we assume the birth was healthy), he becomes "Guard of the Holy Guarding."

Moses complained: "It is certainly not dignified for me to enter all their tents and count the cradles." God replied, "You make the effort and it will be done." At every opening of the tents, God appeared and Moses heard a voice informing him exactly how many Jewish babies were in that tent. This is why the Torah refers to the census as "By the mouth of God." (Num. 3:16)


The Torah lists every tribe, along with the name of their prince, their banner, and their exact population. The tribes range from 32,200 (Menashe) up to 74,600 (Yehudah) with the sum total of the Twelve Tribes as 603,550 (not counting Levi).

Then we are commanded to count the tribe of Levi separately. They were the smallest tribe, numbering only 22,000 (and that's from 30 days!). The rabbis explain the reason: When Pharaoh proclaimed "Build up Egypt Day" (see Parshat Shmot), only the tribe of Levi failed to show up, as they were engrossed in Torah study. Thus the decree of forced labor did not affect them.

Since God works "measure for measure," and "as they oppressed them so did they increase" (Exodus 1:12), this did not apply to the Tribe of Levi who only increased "naturally."

Note: From the 3 sons of Levi and 8 grandsons (including Moses's father) in the short span of 2 generations (Moses was only 80 at the time), they somehow produced 22,000 boys, and presumably an equal number of girls! That's an average of 2,750 for each grandchild of Levi - and yet this is considered a natural increase.


The exact number of Levites was 22,300. Of these, 300 Levites were themselves firstborn, and had to redeem themselves first. That left 22,000 Levites who needed to redeem 22,273 firstborns of other tribes who were not innocent at the Golden Calf. Since they could only redeem 22,000, the extra 273 (determined by lots) had to give 5 shekels to redeem themselves.


The Parsha ends with every Levite family being assigned a specific task to accomplish. In the desert, this meant carrying the Tabernacle when they traveled. In the Temple, they performed other functions such as singing and playing instruments during the sacrificial ceremonies, as well as opening and locking the heavy iron gates.

The Talmud relates that one elderly Levite had a difficult time moving the gate, and asked another Levite - whose job was singing - to assist him. The second Levite replied that it's forbidden to exchange tasks. This is an important life lesson. When my first child was born, I was reminded of the verse "And what is man that you appoint tasks for him to accomplish?" (Psalms 8:5) What a formidable appointment! To raise a Jewish child, to become a good person and Jew, in the full sense of the word.

If one is hired to do a job, it should be perceived as a task given to him by God to accomplish, and like a soldier, not to leave their post. Even marriage is an opportunity and responsibility. You must become the best spouse, parent, teacher, etc. that you are capable of.

We are all like the astronaut on his way to the moon. Make sure your radio is working, and you utilize the Torah's profound instructions to accomplish your mission in this world.

This article can also be read at: http://www.aish.com/torahportion/livelyparsha/Lively_Parsha_Bamidbar.asp

Author Biography:

Rabbi Avi Geller has been a senior lecturer at Aish Hatorah since 1980. He is an alumnus of Lakewood, Be&#39er Yaakov and Mir Yeshiva and gives a very popular weekly Parsha class in Jerusalem&#39s Old City. Over 80 tapes available at Aish audio center, including 50 tapes on the entire Chumash, Mitzvah series, and Holiday series. He lives in Jerusalem with wife and 8 children.

Buy audio tapes by Avi Geller online: click here.

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Jewish World Review June 1, 2005 / 23 Iyar, 5765


By Michael Ledeen

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Washington Post gets full marks for exposing the alarming lack of seriousness with which President Bush is now dealing with what is euphemistically called "The Global War Against Terrorism." Numerous key positions — including the State Department's top slot, vacated at the end of last year by Cofer Black, and the head of the new counterterrorism center — are vacant, and the National Security Council is working hard to define our current strategy, led by the impressive Frances Townsend.

After nearly four years?

Indeed, if you talk to military officers engaged in the GWOT, more often than not you will hear a lament, because that war has yet to be defined. Despite all of the president's tough talk, despite the often extraordinary performance of our soldiers and some notable accomplishments by intelligence officers, the "enemy" remains vague, and we are mainly playing a sucker's game of responding to attacks and helping those who help us on the ground, as in post-Fallujah Iraq. Our other main claim to fame in fighting terrorism, Afghanistan, is currently suffering from cynical neglect by us and our allies, and from considerable corruption, some of it our own.

Another Turning Point

In short, as the president's critics are rightly reminding him, more time has passed since 9/11 than transpired between Pearl Harbor and the surrender of the Japanese empire, and our most lethal enemies are still in power and still killing our people and our friends. It is good that the desire for freedom is now manifest among the oppressed peoples of the Middle East and Central Asia, and it is very good that dramatic strides toward self-government have been taken by the Georgians, Kyrgistanis, Ukrainians, Iraqis, and Lebanese. But it is not good enough. Indeed, it is shameful that we have yet to seriously challenge the legitimacy of the terror masters in Tehran and Damascus, who represent the keystone of the terrorist edifice.

Our enemies know this, because, to their delight and perhaps their surprise as well, they are still in power throughout the Middle East. Until and unless they are removed, the terror war will continue, our friends in the region will be killed, tortured, and incarcerated, and the president's vision of regional democratic revolution will go down the memory hole. He is at yet another great turning point, and, as after the fall of Afghanistan and again after the defenestration of Saddam's Baghdad, he is drifting, perhaps hoping that he has risked enough, that history is firmly on his side, and even — although it is hard to imagine — that the Europeans are helping the spread of freedom.

It is not so. In matters of war, peace, and revolution, winners are characterized by the constancy of their vision and the relentlessness of their pursuit of it. The French, Germans, and British are trying to restrain the revolution, not to encourage it, as their pathetic vaudeville-style negotiations with Iran abundantly demonstrate. One expects to hear one of their foreign ministers on the evening news, pronouncing Groucho's immortal words: "I got principles. And if you don't like 'em, I got other principles..."

President Bush has indeed unleashed the specter of revolution upon the hidebound and tyrannical rulers of the Middle East, but they have not accepted it as their destiny. Indeed, in several of the main battlegrounds — Iran and Syria, for example — advocates of freedom are being rounded up and delivered to jailers, torturers, and executioners. A month ago, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, sensing that Washington had lost its nerve, arrested Nizar Restinawi, one of the founders of the Arab Human Rights Organization, and a vigorous opponent of the oppression to which his people have been long subjected. Then, 40 students were arrested in Latykiah. No explanation was offered. In mid-May, the widely respected Kurdish Sufi leader, Sheikh Maachouk Khaznawi, was kidnapped by the authorities. Ten thousand people marched in protest, as the regime announced it had no knowledge of Khaznawi's fate. A few days ago, Assad ordered the arrest of the head of the Arab Human Rights Organization, Mohammad Raadoun.

Why Some Silence?

So far as I can tell, no one in this administration has denounced the new wave of oppression, as one would have expected them to have done. Why the silence? Does the president believe that democracy will spread even if outspoken democrats are crushed? Does he believe that the Assad regime can be reformed? To speak so clearly for the spread of freedom, and then remain mute when those who rise in support of freedom are bludgeoned, is to repeat the terrible mistake of his father in 1991, who infamously inspired an uprising against Saddam and then abandoned the Shiites and Kurds to mass graves and torture.

On Iran, our language is as tougher, and it is most welcome. On the eve of Memorial Day, Secretary Rice proclaimed Iran "probably [?] the most important state sponsor of terrorists, including terrorists who are doing their best to frustrate the hopes of the Palestinian people for a state" and branded it as "a country that does have (an) abominable human rights record." Fine words, but, as in the Syrian case, they do not deal with the matters at hand. Iran is headed toward another phony presidential election on June 17, with the usual charade intended to deceive all would-be appeasers into believing that Iranian elections are like those in Wichita, Kansas. More than 1,000 candidates stepped forward, and the Guardian Council (that is, the Guardians of the mullahcracy) selected six, including one of the country's leading murderers, former president Rafsanjani. The impotent group known as the "reformers" protested their exclusion, whereupon the Great Dictator Khamenei added two of them to the list.

The Iranian people are not deceived, and all reliable reports from Iran tell us that few of them intend to vote. Knowing this, the regime has announced that non-voters will be treated as criminals, deprived of educational opportunities, forbidden to travel, and banned from government employment. Why have our diplomats not denounced the electoral scam and the frantic efforts to compel the Iranians to act in the pathetic comedy? The most authoritative religious figure in Iran, the Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, told Reuters that the Iranians understood the election was a fraud, because the president has no authority. Khamenei holds it all. In open rebellion against the Islamic Republic, Montazeri said that the Supreme Leader "should limit his role to religious matters and to ensuring that laws conformed to Islam." In short, that the Islamic Republic must be dismantled. Meanwhile, the Iranians and the Syrians continue to support the terror war against us in Iraq. Here again, everyone knows it — nobody raised an eyebrow at the recent rumors that Zarqawi had taken refuge in Iran, because everyone knows he has long had Iranian support for his barbaric actions — yet our leaders are strangely unwilling to draw the obvious conclusion: The regimes must go.

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I do not understand why Bush, Rice, and Rumsfeld should be less forthcoming than an 83-year-old Grand Ayatollah under virtual house arrest in Qom. In his final days in office, Colin Powell went around the world announcing that the United States was not calling for regime change in Iran, and no one in Washington has gainsaid those words. Nor has anyone called for regime change in Damascus. In each case, official rhetoric, and apparently formal policy as well, are directed toward matters of less significance in the Global War: the nuclear ambitions of the Iranian mullahs, and the domination of Lebanon by the Syrian Baathists and their murderous Hezbollah allies.

Yet it is clear to anyone with eyes to see that even these lesser goals cannot be accomplished so long as Assad rules Syria, and the mullahs rule Iran.

There is no escape from these imperatives, and no amount of clever diplomatic scheming with the failed governments of France and Germany — both of whom have been boisterously rejected by their own electorates in the past two weeks — and the feckless British Foreign Office can possibly accomplish them. If President Bush is serious about spreading freedom, then he must finally and openly demand an end to the dictatorships that oppose freedom with all their might.

Freedom is our greatest weapon against the terrorists, and we do not always need to send armies to support its spread. Syria and Iran are ripe for revolution, and the dictators know it. The revolutionaries are looking to Washington for clear and material support. They are not getting it today. Twice in the past, the president slid into a similar funk, first permitting himself to be gulled by the Saudis into believing he had to make a deal with Arafat before he was entitled to liberate Iraq, then permitting the British to drag out the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom with endless votes in the Security Council. Each time he realized his error, and pressed on with greater vigor. It's time for him to do that again. He should revisit his definition of the Global War on Terror: a battle against a network of terrorists, and the countries that support them. A long battle perhaps, but a clear one, with clearly identified enemies and with a wide variety of tactics to bring them down.

Faster. Please?

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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.

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Elias Friedman A.S., NREMT-P
& Pongo the Spotted Wonder!