-- July 19, 2012- Implications of Terror Attack, Fighting in Damascus

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Israel Update
A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

July 19, 2012- Implications of Terror Attack, Fighting in Damascus?

There continue to be conflicting reports about the identity of those behind yesterday's targeted bombing in Bulgaria. The Prime Minister has stated, unequivocally, that Iran is behind the bombing. While the Bulgarians have stated they know who was behind the tragedy, they are still not saying. In the meantime, a picture with an alleged suspect has been making the rounds in the media. If the ID is correct, the bomber is a Sunni Muslim, born in Europe, who is said to have spent time detained in Guantanamo Bay. All of these details will become clear in the next few days.

There have been a couple of alarmist articles in the press in the last day. The first, in Ha'aretz, claimed that the Israeli government will use the bombing as an excuse to launch an attack on Iran. The second, the New York Times, stated that Israel is planning to attack the Syrian chemical weapons facilities to ensure that the chemicals do not fall into the hands of the terrorists. The first story is truly alarmist. There is not doubt that Netanyahu will, and already has tied the terror attacks to Iran's nuclear program. He warned today against allowing any country that supports terrorism to acquire nuclear weapons. For the moment, however, Netanyahu is using the tragedy to gain additional world support for a new and tighter round of sanctions against Iran. In the future... As to the second story, as I already reported, the Israeli government has made it clear that it will attack Hezbollah if it moves to acquire chemical weapons.

The fighting intensified in Damascus today, with the rebels seemingly gaining control of various parts of the city. It would seem the rebels have been sneaking men and material into the city over the last few months, and have waited for the signal that the time was right to try to seize the capital. The outcome should be clear in the next few days. Maybe China and Russia know something that the rest of the world does not. Once again, the two countries vetoed a security council resolution imposing sanctions on the Syrian government. They really seem to be backing the wrong horse, and when Assad falls, they will find themselves with new enemies in Syria.

Last night was the funeral of the leading rabbi of the Haredi movement, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who died at 102. Elyashiv was called the "Posek Ha Dor" (the singular halachic authority of his generation). He was also known for his exceedingly conservative/reactionary rulings. Rabbi Elyashiv refused to allow for brain death, to be a criterion for the purpose of harvesting organ for transplants. This set up a situation where many more Haredim receive organs than were able to donate. Rabbi Elyashiv opposed putting pressure on men who refused to give their wife a Get (halachic writ of divorce). Most importantly, Rabbi Elyashiv was a strong advocate that a conversion should be retroactively annulled, if the convert was found not observe all of the mitzvot. There was one ruling of Rabbi Elyashiv that I really liked. Rabbi Elyashiv ruled that one should not pray in the aisles of planes, if doing so disturbs the other fellow passengers. This ruling does not seem to be kept as strictly by his followers as they followed most of his other rulings.

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