Archive for June 26th, 2008

“‘Refusenik’ – Refuses to Tell the Whole Story” A Movie Review by Fern Sidman

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

‘Refusenik’ – Refuses to Tell the Whole Story

A film directed by Laura Bialis

Review by: FERN SIDMAN

The film ‘Refusenik’ is a seminal retrospective documentary chronicling the thirty year history of the struggle to liberate Soviet Jews from the spiritual shackles of bondage that was endemic to their existence in the former USSR. Told through the eyes and brave voices of such celebrity dissidents as Anatoly (Natan) Scharansky, Vladimir Slepak, Yosef Begun, Yosef Mendelevitch, Ida Nudel, Sylva Zalmanson, Alexander Kholmiansky and Yuli Edelstein, director Laura Bialis takes us on a multi-faceted journey of the creation of a revolutionary global grass-roots movement for freedom from tyranny and oppression.

Having been denied the right to live as clearly identifiable Jews by a repressive and often brutal totalitarian regime for several decades, a group of Soviet Jewish dissidents, also known as prisoners of conscience, courageously and overtly challenged the draconian dictates of the Politburo.

As Jews yearning to re-connect with their tradition and faith, their opportunities to express their Judaism were proscribed to them by the Soviets. They were prevented from attending synagogue, nor could they learn Hebrew, eat kosher food or conduct holiday rituals. All vestiges of Jewish life were expunged from Soviet society and any attempt to lead an observant Jewish life was classified as treachery. Any Jew who dared to practice the faith of their ancestors and challenge the monolith of Communism was publicly excoriated as a criminal and traitor. To solidify their position on the Jewish question to the general populace, the Soviets unleashed a vitriolic campaign of anti-Zionist propaganda that permeated both the educational system and the media.

Suffice it to say, those Soviet Jews seeking to emigrate to Israel were denied exit visas, placed under intense governmental scrutiny and surveillance and labeled enemies of the state. The punitive measures enforced against them included incessant harassment, the denial of admission to universities, ridicule in the media, termination of employment and the final unspeakable horror of arrest, a show trial and imprisonment in the Gulag of Soviet forced labor camps.

Bialis begins by providing us with a brief lesson on the centuries old tradition of blatant anti-Semitism in the motherland. The murderous pogroms of Czarist Russia and the Stalinist purges are the blood stained backdrop for the protracted battle of and for religious emancipation. History records that Jews were loyal citizens of the Czarist regimes, having fought with uncommon valor and bravery in the Russian military and later in time were in the forefront of establishing a new “classless” society as foretold by Marx and Lenin; free of racism and religious persecution. Their utopian ideals and dreams of an authentically egalitarian society were soon torn asunder and utterly shattered by the brutal realities of totalitarianism.

The film includes rare and never seen before footage of the early days of the Soviet Jewish struggle, smuggled out of the USSR by the BBC. In broken English, we hear the testimony of the dissidents; cramped into a small apartment, some speaking in hushed tones, sending out their own personal message in a bottle. When word of their plight reached the shores of the Western world the nascent student protest movements were poised to explode on the American landscape. The year was 1964, and young people were brimming with ideological enthusiasm. Jews were not immune to the contagious spirit.

Thus, ‘Refusenik’ focuses on and lauds the efforts of such liberation movements as the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry and a whole host of local councils established for the sole purpose of bringing the spotlight on the agenda of Soviet Jews. We are guided through a step-by-step manual on how to build a grass roots movement as we see the various demonstrations held for Soviet Jews, as well as concerts, petition drives and the courting of sympathetic politicians. We hear from the founder of SSSJ, Jacob Birnbaum and New York director, Glenn Richter who speak of persuading people to come to demonstrations that were held at the Soviet Consulate in New York and the Soviet Embassy in Washington. As we imbibe the visuals of such historic moments we learn that the genesis of this movement saw a handful of students including writer Yossi HaLevi Klein (a Holocaust survivor’s son) who were hell bent on making amends for the deafening silence and callow indifference of a previous generation of American Jews who did not take to the streets when their brethren were being butchered by the Nazis.

We hear excerpts from the speeches of the late Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, a Cold War anti-Communist Democrat from Washington state, who in 1974 co-sponsored the Jackson-Vanik amendment in the Senate. The amendment called for the denial of normal trade relations to certain countries with non-market economies that restricted the freedom of emigration. The amendment was intended to help refugees, particularly minorities, specifically Jews, to emigrate from the Soviet Bloc. We also listen to the words of such West Coast activists as Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and drapery manufacturer Si Frumkin who regale us with old war stories about the early days of the Soviet Jewish struggle in Los Angeles and the various and sundry activities that were organized on their behalf.

‘Refusenik’ however, tragically fails us as it consciously omits a huge and critically important chunk of history as it pertains to activism on behalf of Soviet Jews. What we don’t hear or ever see in this film for other than a split second is the vitally significant contributions of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane and his Jewish Defense League as progenitors in the battle to save Soviet Jews from being spiritually decimated. It was Rabbi Kahane who was the first to give voice to the fact that the Soviets would not be moved or persuaded to release their Jews until and if their precious detente with the US were seriously threatened. Indeed, it was the Soviets who desperately needed lucrative trade agreements with the US, and therefore the United States possessed a great deal of political leverage with them. It was he who insisted that US foreign policy (as it applied to the Soviets) include human rights issues.

While students of history may agree or disagree, it is common knowledge that it was the JDL’s utilization of anti-establishment activities on behalf of Soviet Jews that put this issue on page one of the newspapers; in a place where people saw it and began to care about it and more importantly began to take concrete action for it. It was the JDL who were the ones who vandalized Soviet property, threatened the safety of Soviet diplomats and engaged in the kinds of activities that these “nice Jews” who sponsored this film would rather not remember or think about. It was Rabbi Kahane who taught the world that it is the militant that serves as the gadfly to the moderate, forcing him to do things he never would have dreamt of. The glaring omissions of such a potent segment of Jewish activism in the US is downright appalling and smacks of the kind of news blackouts that were once associated with such government controlled media outlets as Pravda and Isvestia.

The film takes great pains to memorialize the efforts of those who had the temerity to smuggle crucial information and Jewish religious articles to their kinsmen in Russia as well as the heroic ventures of Soviet Jewish activists. The film explores the events leading up to the Leningrad plane hijacking incident of May 15, 1970, when a group of Soviet dissidents lead by Eduard Kuznetsov and Mark Dymshits attempted to hijack a 12 seat civilian airliner in which they alone were passengers in order to escape to the West. The group was tried and two were sentenced to death, however due to intense international pressure, their sentence was commuted. We are choked with palpable emotion as we watch the tale of Anatoly (Natan) Scharansky, who having just married his wife Avital was deported to Siberia where he spent 12 grueling years at the hands of his oppressors while enduring mind numbing interrogations and barbaric torture. Throughout it all, he never acquiesced to the demands of his captors and never relinquished his desire to remain a proud Jew who wished to live a full Jewish life in the Land of Israel.

Ultimately, we are left with a joyous conclusion as ‘Refusenik’ documents the eventual relaxation of Soviet emigration policies and the mass exodus of Soviet Jews to Israel. What is most interesting are the comments of former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev who expressed sadness that those Jews who he attended university with and who possessed such brilliance would want to leave the USSR. We almost feel sorry for him, as though he has lost his best friends, yet we hasten to remind ourselves how initially reluctant he was to address human rights issues while engaging in disarmament summits with President Reagan.

‘Refusenik’ is a documentary that will inspire and give hope to all oppressed peoples and will serve as a stellar educational tool for a new generation of young people who know very little about the courageous few who carved a path of freedom, despite the punishments that were inflicted upon them by their tormentors. Having said this, the filmmakers still need to be taken to task for the historical distortions and omissions that are clearly prevalent here. Any revised version of history causes alarm and must be addressed in the strongest of terms. We can only hope that a new generation of filmmakers dedicated to accuracy and to conveying the unexpurgated truth, will produce more documentaries of this genre.

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Fern Sidman holds a B.A, in political science from Brooklyn College. She was the educational coordinator for the Betar Youth Movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She was national director of the Jewish Defense League from 1983-1985. She was a researcher for several books written by Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZTK”L. She was the managing editor of the publication entitled, The Voice of Judea, and is a regular contributor to its web site. She is currently a writer and journalist living in New York City. Her articles have appeared in The Jewish Press, The Jewish Advocate, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and numerous Jewish and general web sites including, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Pipes and Michael Freund.
We are delighted to have Ms. Sidman as a regular contributor to the Jesus is Lord, A Worshipping Christian’s Blog.

Dem Congressman Pledges: I’ll ‘Rip Apart’ Child-Rape Victims on the Stand

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

This is not a message I’d appreciate hearing from my congressman. I’m glad he’s not mine.

“I’m gonna rip them apart,” Fagan said of child victims. “I’m going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined, that when they’re 8 years old, they throw up; when they’re 12 years old, they won’t sleep; when they’re 19 years old, they’ll have nightmares and they’ll never have a relationship with anybody.”

This sheds a lot of light on not only his character, but the character of lawyers in general.

Massachusetts politician and defense attorney Rep. James Fagan is under intense public scrutiny after he promised to “rip apart” child victims of rape who testify if the state imposes strict sentences for sex offenders.

Fagan, a Democrat, made his controversial remarks on the state House floor, Fox News reported.

“I’m gonna rip them apart,” Fagan said of child victims. “I’m going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined, that when they’re 8 years old, they throw up; when they’re 12 years old, they won’t sleep; when they’re 19 years old, they’ll have nightmares and they’ll never have a relationship with anybody.”

As a defense attorney, Fagan said he would prevent accused child sex offenders from experiencing a “mandatory sentence of those draconian proportions.”

According to the report, his statements angered both colleagues and activists.

“I thought his comments were over the top and unnecessary,” said Bradley Jones, Massachusetts House minority leader. “I appreciate that he’s a defense attorney, and felt he had a point to make, but I think it was unnecessary. It was excessive.”

Mark Lunsford, a Florida father who lost his 9-year-old daughter after she was kidnapped, wrapped in a trash bag and buried alive by a sex offender in 2005, said he was shocked by Fagan’s remarks. He told the Boston Herald that Fagan should have more respect for the rights of sexually abused children.

“Why doesn’t he figure out a way to defend that child and put these kind of people away instead of trying to figure ways for defense attorneys to get around Jessica’s Law?” Lunsford asked. “These are very serious crimes that nobody wants to take serious. What about the rights of these children?

Original Link.

If Christians Don’t Vote, Obama Will Probably Win

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Christians, we still need to vote our values. Obama’s stance on just about everything chills me to the bone. I believe that most of us will deeply regret it if we allow Obama to win the presidency. I will admit though, it almost comes down to voting for the “lesser of two evils”. In my mind, McCain is the lesser of the two evils, by a long shot.

If Christian conservatives stay on the sidelines during the fall campaign, presidential hopeful John McCain probably stays in the Senate.

Christian conservatives provided much of the on-the-ground, door-to-door activity for President Bush’s 2004 re-election in Ohio and in other swing states. Without them, the less-organized and lower-profile McCain campaign is likely to struggle to replicate Bush’s success. And so far, there’s been scant sign that the Republican nominee-in-waiting is making inroads among these fervent believers.

“I don’t know that McCain’s campaign realizes they cannot win without evangelicals,” said David Domke, a professor of communication at the University of Washington who studies religion and politics. “What you see with McCain is just a real struggle to find his footing with evangelicals.”

Family groups in Ohio outlined their doubts about the Arizona senator in a meeting with McCain’s advisers last weekend. They’re concerned about his record on abortion rights and on campaign finance laws that they believe limited their ability to criticize candidates who are pro-choice on abortion.

“There’s certainly a little reservation about Mr. McCain. I think the VP choice is going to be important,” said Chris Long, president of the Ohio Christian Alliance. “If they choose a conservative for the VP, that will help his campaign. It would go a long way of sending a positive message to evangelicals.”

Marlys Popma, McCain’s director of evangelical outreach, was one of two aides who met with the forum and reminded them of McCain’s record supporting school choice while opposing abortion rights and Internet pornography. She said the campaign understands the interest in the vice presidential nominee, but she noted that McCain “is the one who is going to be nominating judges. He’s going to be the one who is signing or not signing bills.”

“John McCain is their guy,” Popma said. “John McCain’s record is what will bring individuals to him. I think there are some people out there who do not know John McCain’s record.”

McCain’s senior aides try to downplay the fissure with this part of the GOP’s base. They say their internal polling data suggests McCain has the support of three-quarters of white evangelicals in swing states, slightly less than Bush finished with. They also stress that McCain is against abortion rights, even if it’s not the centerpiece of his campaign.

Original Link.

“Unprecedented Lightning Strikes Bring Fires” by Michael G. Mickey

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

The Associated Press opened one of its stories last week on the gay marriages taking place in California in open defiance of Almighty God as follows:

Serenaded by a gay men’s chorus, showered with rose petals and toasted with champagne, hundreds of tearful same-sex couples got married across the state Tuesday in what some are calling California’s new Summer of Love.

Wearing everything from T-shirts to tuxedos and lavish gowns, they rushed down to county clerks’ offices to obtain marriage licenses and exchange vows on the first full day that gay marriage became legal in California by order of the state’s highest court. They were joined by jubilant crowds that came to witness the event.

So festive, isn’t it all? No fear of God, His wrath, or even embarrassment that long-held sexual moralities common to all long-standing societies are being cast aside. Eat, drink and be…gay!

Abomination or a good way to generate revenue?

On the topic of same-sex marriage, the following comments were made by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom recently in an article entitled “California sees business boom from gay weddings” (emphasis added mine):

“I think you’re going to see tens of thousands of couples and their families descend on San Francisco. People are looking at this as an opportunity to come and support their families, their partners and also the city’s economy.”

While I have been tempted to write a scathing rebuttal to all the same-sex jubilation taking place in the state of California reminiscent to the atmosphere in Sodom and Gomorrah preceding God’s wrath falling upon those wicked cities, I have restrained myself.

The one thing I did consider addressing was the notion, as expressed by Newsom and others in the state, that California was surely going to experience an economic boom as a result of the same-sex marriage fiasco. Pondering comments like Newsom’s I mused,”Do these people not realize that God could look their way, blink in disgust and wipe out all their profits?”

Blink?

Lo and behold, I came upon a story in the news last night that grabbed my attention. It was an Associated Press article that opened as follows, emphasis added mine:

More than 840 wildfires sparked by an “unprecedented” lightning storm are burning across Northern California, alarming the governor and requiring the help of firefighters from Nevada and Oregon.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was told late Sunday evening that the state had 520 fires, and he found it “quite shocking” that by Monday morning the number had risen above 700.

In the latest update of the story, posted 1 hour and 40 minutes ago as I write this commentary, the headline is reading “Lightning sparks 800-plus fires in California”.

If this story hasn’t sparked a thought in your mind that God may be supernaturally ensuring that California’s expected economic windfall doesn’t occur as expected, there’s more to consider.

Del Walters, assistant regional chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, is quoted in the article as putting the number of fires raging in California at a walloping 842.

Not only that, I want you to notice the language used and the numbers quoted concerning this lightning event as relayed by Walters (emphasis added mine), “This is an unprecedented lightning storm in California, that it lasted as long as it did, 5,000 to 6,000 lightning strikes. We are finding fires all the time.”

While I’m fully aware that wildfires take place in California on a routine basis, this event seems to have been dramatic in both scope and intensity the way I’m reading it. Maybe this wasn’t as dramatic as I’m reading it to have been. I’m not sure but I am sure of this: God can make His presence known whenever He likes. Sometimes He can do so dramatically, particularly during times when He is being mocked. Perhaps this was one of those occasions – a bit of an eye-opener for those willing to see it. I leave that for each reader to decide on their own. Regardless, whether the ‘unprecedented’ lightning storm that caused all of the fires, costing California no telling how much money to combat, was a judgment against what is presently going on there or not, it should serve as a reminder that God, although His mercy is abundant, still plays a role in the affairs of mankind. Praise God that He always will, from my perspective!

The Homosexual Agenda and Prophecy

In Bible prophecy we’re told that in the days leading up to the return of Christ, it will be as it was in the days of Lot, when he lived in Sodom and Gomorrah. (Luke 17:28-30)

While conditions in Sodom caused just and righteous Lot to feel vexed often, he was eventually and supernaturally I might add delivered from that place by God. (2nd Peter 2:7-8) As soon as Lot was whisked away to safety, the wrath of God, in the form of fire from heaven, fell on the wicked and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:29)

Closing Thoughts

2nd Peter 2:9: The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

The Bible tells us, in Revelation 3:10, that an hour of temptation is going to come upon all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth. Prior to that, the godly, just like Lot, are going to be delivered out of both the temptation to come and the wrath of God via the Rapture of the Church.

In one of yesterday’s commentaries, I encouraged my readers to remain at their posts until relieved of duty. Even so, while there’s still work to be done here and we need to occupy until He comes, looking at the world around us should put a little spring in our step, in spite of how troubling much of what we’re seeing often is to us.

Why? Because when these things BEGIN to happen, we are to look up for our redemption draweth nigh! (Luke 21:28)

6-25-08 Update: In striking contrast to what happened in this instance, it is now being reported that, in all of 2007, there were 574 lightning-sparked fires. Compare this to 842 in just one day and we see why the fire that fell from heaven in this instance was unique and, indeed, unprecedented.

Original Link.

Breaking News: DC Gun Ban Struck Down By Supreme Court

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Yeah!!!! Score one for the good guys!!!
No link yet, but here is the text from the email alert:

SUPREME COURT RULES FOR GUN OWNERS IN HISTORIC 2ND AMENDMENT CASE, STRIKES DOWN D.C. HANDGUN BAN

**Watch FOX News Channel or go to http://foxnews.com for more

Update:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court says Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting, the justices’ first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history.

The court’s 5-4 ruling strikes down the District of Columbia’s 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment. The decision goes further than even the Bush administration wanted, but probably leaves most firearms laws intact.

The court had not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The basic issue for the justices was whether the amendment protects an individual’s right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for four colleagues, said the Constitution does not permit “the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.”

In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the majority “would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons.”

He said such evidence “is nowhere to be found.

What a great day this is turning out to be!!!
Thank you God!!

Original Link.

Parental Rights Overruled

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

I expect this type of thing to make it’s way into the United States soon.

U.S. pro-family advocates are reacting to a Canadian court’s decision to overrule a father who grounded his 12-year-old daughter.

Such judicial activism is not a new idea, nor is it limited to Canada. The 12-year-old Quebecois sued her father after being grounded from a school trip for posting photos of herself on an online dating site. Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, says the statute used by the court was supposed to be limited to cases of “extreme abuse.”

“There’s no abuse in this case,” Wright contends. “A father was doing his parental duty of trying to protect his daughter from bad decisions — and instead, the court has sided with the bad decision.

Original Link.

Pali Terrorist Violate “Cease Fire” Again

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

No surprise here.

The Gaza truce was violated again on Thursday as terrorists fired a Kassam rocket at the western Negev.

The rocket landed near a gas station in the Sha’ar Hanegev region, causing no casualties or damage.

The Fatah-affiliated Aksa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. In a text message sent to reporters, it said “the truce must include the West Bank and all sorts of aggression must stop.”

Nevertheless, Israel has stated on numerous occasions that it holds Hamas responsible for any attack emanating from Gaza, irrespective of which faction carries it out.

The rocket attack was the third time that the cease-fire was broken by Palestinians since it went into effect last Thursday. On Tuesday, Islamic Jihad fired three Kassam rockets at the South, damaging a Sderot home, and a mortar shell was fired at Israel the previous day.

Thursday’s rocket fire came as Hamas accused Israel of violating the terms of the cease-fire after the Defense Ministry decided to keep the Gaza border crossings closed for the day, except for special humanitarian cases, in response to Tuesday’s attack.

“If the crossings remain closed, the truce will collapse,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

Defense officials had said Wednesday night that they planned to open the crossings between Gaza and Israel on Friday if there were no more violations of the cease-fire.

Original Link.

Marriage Protection Act introduced in Senate

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Every time the people are allowed to vote on this issue, they equivocally reaffirm that marriage is between one man and one woman.

On Wednesday, Republican Senator Roger Wicker introduced the Marriage Protection Act, a measure aimed at amending the Constitution to declare that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

Wicker says the move is necessary because “activist judges are attempting to redefine one of our nation’s most sacred institutions.” The Mississippi lawmaker notes that “19 states have passed laws and 26 states have amended their constitution to protect traditional marriage.”

“Rather than giving unelected judges the opportunity to legislate from the bench, this amendment will reaffirm what most Americans believe … marriage is between a man and a woman,” Wicker says.

Original Link.