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Tu Bishvat: We are planting for the future.

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There is a story in the Talmud of a man who was walking along a road, and came upon an elderly man planting a carob tree. Seeing how old the gardener was, he asked him, "How long does this tree take to bear fruit?" The old man said, "70 years." The first man asked the gardener if he expected to live that long, and the man replied, "What I am planting, I am planting for my children, just as others planted for me."

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The confluence of Thanksgiving and Chanukah seems to have brought more than the usual rush of madness to Chanukah, which has become a major holiday in the United States by virtue of its usual proximity to Christmas.

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The Telegraph: MEET THE SETTLERS -A journey through the West Bank

by Jake Wallis Simons

The "enough blood and tears" speech, which Yitzhak Rabin, then prime minister of Israel, delivered on the White House lawn on Sept 13 1993, is widely regarded as his finest. The Oslo Accord negotiations had been concluded, and a declaration of intent to end hostilities had been signed; he and Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, had just made history by shaking hands, to thunderous applause.

Two years later, Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist opposed to territorial compromise. In 2000, a bloody Intifada erupted across the region, claiming the lives of about 1,000 Israelis and 3,300 Palestinians. Israeli politics came to be dominated by parties from the political Right and the settlements on the West Bank continued to be expanded.

This New Year, please help us "nag" a bit more.

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When Israel's Maariv daily wrote about housing construction in East Jerusalem this summer, it offered exact numbers - down to the individual house.

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Open Zion (Daily Beast): "For Shame" by APN's Rabbi Alana Suskin

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Sahar Segal suggests that American Jews ought to feel no shame for Israel's actions. Her prooftext is the Talmud where it says “kol Yisrael arevim ze la-ze”—all Jews are responsible for one another.

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AFP: "Israel plans more than 1,000 new settlement homes"

Settlement watchdog Peace Now said the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was pursuing the well-worn path of creating facts on the ground in a bid to block any two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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