Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Falsifying History

In the media, on university campuses and certainly in the political debate, there is a systematic movement to falsify and rewrite history in regards to Israel and the Middle-East. It has been the official policy of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Hamas, to deny and to minimize Jewish historical connections to the Land of Israel. Even as Mahmoud Abbas conducts "peace" negotiations with Benyamin Netanyahu, PA-run television aired a documentary on Rosh HaShanah in which, panning to the Western Wall, the narrator explained, “They [Israelis] know for certain that our [Arab] roots are deeper than their false history. We, from the balcony of our homes, look out over [Islamic] holiness and on sin and filth [the Jews praying at the Western Wall].”

To combat this insidious campaign of denial and revisionism, it is necessary to make a few points clear. One of the most ridiculous claims are references to "Palestine". Never in the history of the civilization has there been a sovereign country, ruled by a distinct Arab people, called Palestine. The only independent states that have ever taken shape in the Land of Israel (besides the brief rule of the Crusaders) have been Jewish. Furthermore, the notion of a Palestinian people only took root during the 1960s. Before then, it was the Jews of Israel who were referred to as Palestinians! Only once the Jews became "Israelis" could the Arab appropriate that name for themselves.

Another common claim is that the Land of Israel is sacred to all three major monotheistic religions. This, of course, is nonsense. "Palestine" and Jerusalem are not mentioned at all in the Qur'an! (The Land of Israel, however, is mentioned in relation to Allah bringing the Children of Israel into the Promised Land). The only Islamic connection to Jerusalem is the later claim that Muhammad spiritually visited Jerusalem and ascended to heaven from there. To mark this spot, Muslim caliphs built the Dome of the Rock and the Mosque of Omar on the Temple Mount, emphasizing that the reason why this spot is sacred to Muslims is because the Jewish Temple stood on that spot. Besides these two mosques, Jerusalem plays no other significant role in Islamic theology. The Land of Israel also has no particular sacredness attached to it in Islam, making it different than any other conquered territory. The holy land of Islam is Arabia- not Israel.

In contrast to this, it is in the Land of Israel that the Jewish people developed, flourished and ruled themselves. It is the Promised Land of the Torah. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in the Bible! It has been at the heart and centre of the Jewish conscious ever since King David conquered the city and made it his capital over 3500 years ago. It was to Jerusalem that every single Jewish male made pilgrimage three times a year during Temple Times. It is towards Jerusalem that Jews pray three times a day (Muslims pray towards Mecca), beseeching G-d: "And to Jerusalem, Your city, in mercy return, and dwell in it as You have spoken, and rebuild it speedily in our days, as an eternal structure." Every Jewish wedding is marked with the breaking of a glass in remembrance of the destruction of Jerusalem and the solemn vow of "if I forget thee, O Jerusalem." Every single Passover seder and Yom Kippur fast is ended with the fervent hope and declaration of "Next Year in Jerusalem!" Clearly, not all claims are equal.

One of the most repulsive libels about Israel is that the Arabs are being forced to pay for the sins of the European Holocaust. It must be stated as forcefully as possible that Jews have been in Israel since biblical times, thousands of years before the Arabian tribes burst out of their peninsula, long before Muhammad ever received his first revelation and millennia before the rise of Nazism. It was in the 1920s, two decades before the annihilation of European Jewry, that the world recognized the right of the Jewish people to a homeland in the Land of Israel- they didn't create or bestow these right, but rather recognized preexisting ones.

These false claims are part of a campaign to delegitimize the very foundations of the Jewish state, which are the unbroken Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. Before any significant negotiations or agreements can be made, the world, and particularly the Arab and Muslim world, must recognize the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. Without that, there can be no coexistence.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Jewish Response to Arab Terror

As peace talks are set to begin shortly in Washington, Palestinian terrorists have struck again. In a cold-blooded attack, terrorists opened fire on a Israeli vehicle outside of Kiryat Arbah, murdering two men and two women. Even as the Palestinian leadership is about to sit dawn and supposedly discuss peace with their Israeli counterparts, Palestinian citizens are carrying out murderous attacks against innocent Jewish men, women and children.

This murder is but another demonstration of the uselessness of talks between Israel and the Palestinians. A treaty with the Palestinians is not worth the paper that it is printed on. While Abbas' sincerity to the cause of peace has yet to be proven, his mandate to represent the Palestinian people expired in January 2009. Hamas, ever-committed to the annihilation of the Jewish people and the State of Israel, remains the most popular movement among Palestinians. The most fundamental tenet of Palestinian society is opposition to Zionism and Jewish self-determination. That is why no Palestinian leader can acknowledge Jewish roots in the Land of Israel. That is why Palestinian television continues to refer to Haifa, Lod and Ramle as "occupied cities". That is why Mahmoud Abbas had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the negotiating table, waiting until Bibi's 10 month freeze on settlement construction is about to expire.

As always, the Palestinian goal remains the same: the eradication of "the Zionist entity" and the "liberation of Palestine". While Hamas prefers the direct approach whereas Fatah's strategy is that of the piecemeal "Phased Plan", the ultimate aim is identical. Every Israeli concession brings a new round of Palestinian terror and increased demands. Disengagement from Gaza brought thousands of rockets upon the south of Israel. Freezing Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria only whets the Arab appetite for Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv.

The Palestinians feel that time is on their side. Many Israelis are tired of this seemingly endless conflict and would do almost anything to bring it to an end. If only one more concession will make the Palestinians happy, then so be it- even if that concession means relinquishing control of Israel's most sacred and meaningful sites: Hebron, Shechem, Bethlehem, Beit El, Shiloh, etc.

For the past 10 months, Israel has imposed a moratorium on Jewish building in Judea and Samaria. The freeze is set to expire in September, yet it seems that Bibi, despite intense pressure from his on party, will renew it in order not to arouse the ire of the Americans and the Arabs. The true Jewish response to today's murders would be to immediately lift the freeze and to begin Jewish construction in all parts of the Land of Israel. Such a response would send the clear message that the Jewish return to Zion is not simply a transitory movement but that the Jewish people intend to stay in their homeland. Renewed Jewish building around the graves and homes of its forefathers would make it abundantly clear as to the true owners of the Land of Israel.

Retreat from Hebron means retreat from Jerusalem. Retreat from Jerusalem means retreat from Tel-Aviv. Retreat from Tel-Aviv means retreat into the sea, or at least back into Galut. If we cannot raise our flag in Shechem, the burial place of Joseph on land legally purchased by our forefather Jacob over 3500 years ago, or in Shiloh, the seat of the Tabernacle and religious center of the Jewish people for hundreds of years, how can we claim Tel-Aviv, which is only a century old?

The answer to Palestinian terror is renewed commitment and dedication to the Land of Israel. For every Jew murdered, ten new villages should spring up in the hilltops of Judea and Samaria. We pray that HaShem comfort the victims' families among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem, and through their deaths, we should be inspired to continue rebuilding Zion and Jerusalem.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Case Against Palestinian Statehood

As renewed talks between Israel and the Palestinians get underway, the United States has already assured Mahmoud Abbas of the establishment of a Palestinian state within a years time. Barack Obama, as well as the European Union and other world figures have stated that should talks fail, they would support a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence. While these talks have not even begun, their aim is clear: the creation of a Palestinian state in the heart of Israel. Unfortunately, Israel's leaders do not have the courage to reject this most dangerous goal. Anyone who dares oppose the "two-state solution" mantra is maligned as rejectionist and an obstacle to peace. Despite this, it is essential for all those who care about Israel to explain why a Palestinian state is a historic travesty and will only serve to exacerbate the conflict, rather than end it.

The basic borders of the Palestinian state as envisioned by the leaders of the United States and the European Union are the territories liberated by Israel from Egypt and Jordan during the 1967 Six Day War, Judea and Samaria with its capital in the eastern half of Jerusalem. The major problem with this vision is that there is nothing particularly Arab or Palestinian about these lands. In fact, never have any of these territories (or any territories ever) been under the rule of a sovereign Palestinian Arab state. If one would search the history books, they would discover that there has never been such a country or political entity. As well, the notion of a unique and distinct Palestinian nation is one that is very recent, having its origins in the 1920s and gaining widespread acceptance in the 1960s. That means that Palestinian nationhood is only at maximum 80 or so years old while the drive for Palestinian statehood barely over 40. On the other hand, Judea and Samaria (and of course Jerusalem) form the heartland of the Jewish people's home in the land of Israel. In Judea and Samaria, one finds the Tomb of the Patriarch in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, the ancient burial places of founders of the Jewish people. One finds Hebron, the original seat of Jewish kingship, Shiloh, the centre of Jewish religious and spiritual life for centuries, Beit El, the site of the Patriach Jacob's famous dream and Shechem (Nablus), purchased by Jacob and burial place of his son Joseph. The Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria goes back three and a half millennia and remains unbroken, except for brief periods of persecution and oppression when Jews were forced from their land. According to simple logic, a history that goes back 3500 years trumps one that does not extend past a few decades.

As Israel currently stands, from the Mediterranean Sea until the Jordan River, it takes an enemy aircraft less than 5 minutes to cross the entire breadth of the country. If Israel were to retreat any further to the indefensible pre-67 borders, that would put every single major Israel city within rocket range. It is not for nothing that Israeli diplomat, Abba Eban, a dove if there ever was one, referred to these borders as "the Auschwitz lines". As the tragic Israeli Disengagement from Gaza testified, Israeli concession bring renewed Arab aggression. The situation in Sderot in which kids go to school in bomb shelters and playgrounds and bus stops are made from reinforced concrete to provide protection from rockets, would be repeated in Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheva. Incoming and outgoing flights at Ben-Gurion Airport would be at the mercy of Palestinian terrorists sitting in the Judea highlands.

The goal of the Palestinians has always been and remains the destruction of the State of Israel. The Fatah Charter spells this out very clearly. Article 12 states the goals as: "Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence. " The Charter has never been revised. In 1974, Fatah, under the leadership of Yasser Arafat, adopted the "Phased Plan" strategy which said that any territory "liberated" from Israel would be used as a Palestinian base of operation to continue to carry out attacks against Israel. A Palestinian state would be used to advance this strategy which has its ultimate aim in the total annihilation of the Jewish state. No Palestinian leader, despite moderate statements to Western media or diplomats, has renounced this goal.

A Palestinian state would be a historic travesty. History testifies that Judea, Samaria and Gaza are Jewish land and have never been under the control of Palestinian Arabs. Furthermore, a Palestinian state would only serve to renew hope that Israel will soon be eliminated and all of "Palestine" will be "reunited". By retreating to the pre-1967 borders, Israel's security and ability to defend itself will be compromised. A peace that comes through the destruction of the Jewish state is a peace that is simply not acceptable.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Shame and Pride

"They hate the Sabbath and they hate the laws of Judaism and they hate the yeshivas and they hate the rabbis. And they hate being Jewish and they hate G-d and they hate Zionism and a Jewish state and the need to be different... And they hate the bitter reality of hundreds of thousands supporting and marching for and believing in all the things that they hate, and so they are prepared to use any and all means to destroy the Jews of Jewishness. And the most most frightening thing is that, in all its ugliness, I have seen and recognized the face of Hatred and Murder Past."

These words were written over 20 years ago by Rabbi Meir Kahane HY"D. Since then, this hate has not diminished but continues to show itself. It shows itself on both sides of the Atlantic, causing harm and damage to those they hate so much. This hate shows itself in Israel when leftist journalists steal military secrets and spy on the army. It shows itself when professors at Hebrew University march hand in hand with Arab and demand the Jews out of Shimon HaTzadik, or when hundreds demonstrate in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem in against Israel's right to self-defense. This hatred rears its ugly head in the United States as "pro-peace" Jewish groups demand that Obama force himself on Israel or when liberal Jews in the government attack and condemn Israel. There are Jews who hate Israel, who hate Judaism and the Jewish people, and who make it their mission to hurt us.

Recently, the New York Review of Books published a lengthy essay by Peter Beinart, The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment, in which he blames Israel's illiberal tendencies and rightward shift for alienating young American Jews. Beinart explains that "the only kind of Zionism they [young American Jews] found attractive was a Zionism that recognized Palestinians as deserving of dignity and capable of peace, and they were quite willing to condemn an Israeli government that did not share those beliefs." American Jews wanted a more "humane, universalistic Zionism" and because Israel could not provide this, they no longer feel an affiliation with Israel.

Beinart's analysis is telling, not because of its conclusions but because of what it says about liberal Jewry. The reason why many young liberal Jews don't give a fig about Israel is because they don't give a fig about Judaism or Jewishness. The American Jewish Establishment has indeed failed them for not instilling within them Jewish pride or values. These young American Jews are the product of three of four generations empty of Jewish belief and practice. The Jewish Establishments are the ones who fought tooth and nail against Jewish education and "parochialism", who ordered Jews: "thou shalt melt!" and who replaced all religious boundaries between Jews and non-Jews. They prided themselves on sending Jewish kids to public schools and on their interfaith seders and events. They preached a message of absolute equality and unity, of brotherhood and love, stressing the universal over the particular. "Being Jewish is being part of a great tradition, like being Irish or black or Vietnamese." So young Jews chose to be human beings rather than to be Jews and now we see the frightening results: over 50% intermarriage rate and a complete disconnect from Israel and the Jewish people.

There has been a parallel process in Israel. The founders of the state tried to create a Zionism and a Jewishness without Judaism, and now what is left among many is a confused group that cares not for Zionism, Jewishness or Judaism. These are the Israelis who wave PLO flags, demanding surrender and appeasement in the face of Arab greed, consumed with guilt over their rights to their land, convinced that they are occupying Arab land. They do not want a Jewish state, a state built on Jewish culture, religion and history, for the Jewish people, but a "state of all its citizens" or, in Shimon Pere's words, "the Singapore of the Middle-East". Their confusing and self-doubt is evident on their faces as they march, chanting "No holiness in an occupied city!"

These young Jews, in Israel and in the Diaspora, are embarrassed of being Jewish, of the baggage that it carries and of the obligations it entails. They are embarrassed of "choseness", of Jewish destiny and fate. As such, they simply want to do away with it. Consider the "utopian" future set out by H.G. Wells:

"And yet between 1940 and 2059, in little more than a century, this antiquated obdurate culture disappeared. It and its Zionist state, its kosher food, the Law and all the rest of its paraphernalia, were completely merged in the human community. The Jews were not suppressed; there was no extermination... but under the Tyranny there was never any specific persecution at all; yet they were educated out of their oddity and racial egotism in little more than three generations. Their attention was distracted from Moses and the Promise to Abraham and the delusion that God made his creation for them alone, and they were taught the truth about their race. The world is as full as ever it was of men and women of Semitic origin, but they belong no more to “Israel”."

This is the aim of these Jewish enemies of Israel. They only wave around their Jewish ancestry as a weapon to attack the Jewish people. Judaism is little more than liberalism to them and as such feel no connection to their Jewish brethren around the world. They ally themselves with every Jew-hater and Israel-basher, adding fuel to the fire as they proclaim their Jewish identity while defaming the Jewish people.

The Jewish Establishment has failed. The secular Zionist system has failed. It has raised a generation of Jews empty of Judaism and who only want to be human beings. How can we rectify this situation?

By returning, by coming back to Judaism, its obligations and its prohibitions, its values, commandments and laws. By acquainting ourselves with Jewish history, connecting to Jewish peoplehood and recognizing Jewish destiny. We must once again become the people who so brazenly defied Pharaoh and slaughtered his idol before the eyes of all of Egypt, the nation who rose up so bravely against the Babylonians, the Greek persecution and the Roman tyranny. We must once again have the pride to declare G-d's Absolute Oneness to the entire world as we sing: "How fortunate we are, how good is our portion, how pleasant is our lot and how nice is our inheritance!"

Monday, May 31, 2010

Terrorism at Sea

The media reports keep coming in. Israeli soldiers have boarded a humanitarian convoy en route to help the suffering people of Gaza. Israeli soldiers attacked the ship and brutally killed peace activists. Gaza is under siege! Gaza is being blockaded! Israel murdered civilians to stop them from bringing food to the poor people in Gaza.

The people aboard the flotilla bound for Gaza were anything but civilian peace activists. They were pro-Hamas provocateurs, terrorists and terrorists sympathizers. They were attempting to violate Israeli sovereignty and deliver support to the Hamas regime in Gaza. They refused clear orders by the Israeli military to stop their advance and to turn back. When Israeli commandoes were forced to board the ship, they were greeted by a lynching crew.

The passengers greeted the soldiers armed with knives, bats, clubs and slingshots. The Israeli Navy commandoes, who were told that they would be confronting rioters, were only armed with crowd control paintball rifles. The terrorists aboard the ship attempted to kidnap commandoes, stabbed them repeatedly and threw stun grenades at them. Only after a difficult fight in which dozens of terrorists were killed were the commandoes able to take control of the ship.

An Israeli army reporter described:

‘The activists had many things ready for an attack on the soldiers,’ Lev-Rom said, ‘including, for instance, a box of 20-30 slingshots with metal balls; these can kill. There were also all sorts of knives and many similar things. These are what they call “cold” weapons, as opposed to live fire. It was quite clear that a lynch had been prepared.’

Lev-Rom said, however, that it appears the army, ‘even though it prepared for many different scenarios, was not ready for this one. The army seems not to have known what type of people were there and what type of weapons they had. It was hard for Israel to conceive that the ship, sponsored by the country of Turkey, would have such weapons. Israel was prepared to deal with anarchists, and instead had to deal with terrorists – that’s the feeling here.’

World leaders are issuing their regular condemnations of Israeli actions. The UN, EU and the US have denounced Israel. Yet, there is little discussion over the motives of the "Free Gaza" flotilla organizers. Their aim was never to alleviate the "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza, mainly because no such "humanitarian crisis" exists. Tons of food and supplies are brought into Gaza every single day. The Palestinian media recently reported the inauguration of Gaza's first Olympic size swimming pool. There are luxury hotels, cafes and restaurants in Gaza!

The goal of this flotilla was to support the Hamas regime in Gaza or to embarrass Israel by provoking a response from them. This armada of hate was organized by Turkey's Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), a radical Islamic organization which serves as a major component for Hamas' fundraising efforts. IHH had a role in Islamic terror in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. ccording to the French magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere testifying at the Seattle trial of would-be al Qaeda Millenium bomber Ahmed Ressamin, the IHH had played ‘[a]n important role’ in the al Qaeda Millenium bomb plot targeting Los Angeles airport. It was also involved in weapons trafficking, and played in addition a key role in galvanizing anti-Western sentiment among Turkish Muslims in the lead-up to the 2003 war in Iraq. Before leaving the port in Turkey, flotilla organizers whipped up anti-Israel hysteria with a genocidal call for slaughter of Jews. These are no peace activists.

This terrorist flotilla achieved its goal of hurting Israel. Its members' "martyrdom" had the desired affect of bringing Israel international condemnation and embarrassment and further isolating and delegitimizing her. This comes at a time when Iran makes uranium enrichment deals with Brazil, Syria, Hamas and Hizbullah have thousands of deadly rockets aimed at Israel's cities and the United States' president exudes hostility and aggression towards Israel. Thankfully, no Israeli soldiers were killed in the clash with the armada's thugs but the public relations damage to Israel is done.

What will be the fallout from this deadly encounter? The Middle-East comes closer to exploding into war...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Red lines and the Green Line

Israel continues to march down the same dangerous path towards concessions and surrender. As proximity talks get under way, Palestinian demands and arrogance grows, without conceding anything towards Israel. They have made it clear that should the result of the talks not be to their liking, they will use all means at their disposal- economic, diplomatic and terror, to harm Israel.

Since the failure of the Oslo Accords, Israel's political establishment has committed itself towards the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. With each subsequent Israeli administration, the supposed "red lines" which Israel would not cross under any circumstances have disappeared. While it was at one point understood that a Palestinian state in Israel's heartland is an existential threat to Israel's survival, today total commitment to this idea is a sign of political moderation. It was once clear that the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria were there to stay; now it is taken for granted by many that the Palestinian state will be judenrein. A repartitioned Jerusalem, once an idea rejected by even the most Left-wing Israelis, is now a subject for discussion.

Every Israeli retreat has whetted the Arab appetite for more Israeli concessions. The architects of the Oslo Accords sold the world and peace-craving Israelis on the necessity to create a second Arab entity in the territory of Mandatory Palestine (ignoring the fact that such a country already exists under the name 'Jordan'). Ehud Barak set the standard for maximum Israel withdrawal when he promised to retreat to Israel's 1949 armistice line. Ariel Sharon made the expulsion of Jews and the destruction of veteran settlements in Gaza a legitimate option. Ehud Olmert reinforced Barak's disastrous policies and capitulated on the last remaining settlements in Judea and Samaria. Because of this, Bibi has imposed a de facto building freeze in Jerusalem. A divided Jerusalem is now in the realm of possibility, with the help of the most anti-Israel American administration ever.

In the Israeli and Diaspora Jewish political spectrum, anyone who is to be considered a moderate favors the surrender of Judea and Samaria. This attitude is one that is leading Israel and the Jewish world to disaster. One cannot find a Jewish leader willing to speak up for the sake of Judea and Samaria. This must end.

It is commonly assumed by many moderate leftists that whatever falls within the pre-'67 Green Lines is Israeli territory while the territory past it is Arab. It must be made absolutely clear that the Green Line is not a border. It is simply where the Jordanian, Egyptian and Israeli armies marked an armistice in 1949. The Green Line marks a ceasefire, not a border. The only reason why what is inside is Jewish while what is outside is Arab is because the advancing Arab armies ethnically cleansed Judea and Samaria of its Jews. The concept of "East Jerusalem" is a result of the Jordanian expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem after they occupied the city in 1948. Jews built "settlements" after 1967 because Jewish communities were destroyed in 1948! Hebron had a Jewish community stretching from biblical times until 1929 when it was destroyed by Arab pogroms. The community of Kfar Etzion was razed when it fell to the Jordanians in 1948. Jews have had an unbroken presence in Judea and Samaria since biblical times, with the exception of the years between its occupation by Jordan in 1948 and its liberation by Israel in 1967. Jordan's illegal expulsion of Jews should not be enshrined under international law. The San Remo Conference and the Mandate for Palestine stipulate that the legal owners of Judea and Samaria are the Jewish people and therefore the Jewish state.

The conflict has never been about territory. It is ridiculous to assume that a return to the pre-'67 border will bring peace when there was no peace before 1967. The Arab states attacked Israel in 1967 to rectify the wrongs of the 1949 borders, which were the result of the Arab rejection of the UN 1947 partition lines. Beyond all of the talk about borders lies the cause of the first Arab assault against Israel in 1948: the refusal of the Arabs to recognize Israel's legitimate right to exist as a Jewish state.

The ultimate goal of the Arab states was laid out at the Palestinian national assembly in July 1968: “Our basic aim is to liberate the land from the Mediterranean to the Jordan. We are not concerned with what happened in June 1967 or with eliminating the consequences of the June war. The Palestinian revolution’s basic concern is uprooting the Zionist entity.” No Palestinian group has ever disavowed this objective, as seen by Mahmoud Abbas' most recent refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The aim of establishing a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria is merely one stage to the ultimate liberation of all of Palestine. The goal is to deprive Israel of strategic borders, to make the state indefensible, to demoralize and demonize it while slicing off parts of it bit by bit. Even the most moderate Palestinian and Arab leader is determined to swamp Israel with millions of hostile Arab refugees through the so-called "Right of Return", demographically putting an end to Israel as a Jewish state.

The Arabs hate Israel because it is a Jewish state, whether its borders be those of 1947, 1949 or 1967. To appease their hunger for destruction, Israel need not surrender Judea and Samaria, its biblical homeland. Every concession has increased Arab demands, while their greed has not abated one iota. When we surrender Judea and Samaria, we make Jerusalem a legitimate target for their aspirations. "Land for peace" is an enormous failure because the conflict has never been about land. When the Arabs want peace, Israel will give them it- for peace.

Monday, May 10, 2010

One Jerusalem Forever!

On the 28th of Iyar 5727 (June 7, 1967), the dream became a reality. With fire and blood, Jerusalem fell and with fire and blood Jerusalem arose again. Finally, the 2000 year old prayer of "Next Year in Jerusalem" had been answered. Jerusalem, the centre of the Jewish people, which had been cut off from Israel when it was re-established in 1948, was reunited. The pledge made by our ancestors by the rivers of Babylon as they were marched off into captivity, of "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem!" was fulfilled by their descendants in the Israeli Defense Force.

Jerusalem is the very heart of the Jewish people. Since King David first conquered Jerusalem and made it into his eternal capital, Jerusalem has occupied a foremost place in the souls and essence of the Jewish people. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in the Tanach. It was here that King Solomon built the First Temple which stood for 410 years, where the returnees from captivity in Babylon built the Second Temple and where we await the rebuilding of the Third Temple, may it be speedily in our days. At a time when London was barely a forest clearing and Rome was only a collection of villages on the Tiber, Jerusalem was already in Jewish hands, seat of the Jewish kings. Long before Paul preached his gospel or Islam swept across the world, Jerusalem was already firmly implanted in the Jewish conscious for thousands of years.

When the wicked Romans cruelly suppressed the Jewish revolt in 70 CE, they razed Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. They drove the remaining Jews from the land and renamed it 'Palestinae', after Israel bitter biblical enemies. Victoriously, they marched the spoils of the Temple throughout the streets of Rome and minted coins declaring triumphantly "Judea Capta"- Judea is defeated. On the site of the destroyed city of Jerusalem, they built a pagan city dedicated to the idols of Rome. The Caesar and his legions were certain that the pesky capital of Jews, which had caused them so much pain and unrest, would never rise again.

Despite this, the Jew never forgot Jerusalem. In all of the lands of his dispersion, whether in Warsaw or Marakesh, Baghdad or the Pale of Settlement, like a magnet the Jew was drawn towards Jerusalem three times a day and lifted his eyes in prayer, beseeching the Almighty: "And to Your city Jerusalem return in mercy and dwell in it as You have spoken". In the middle of the night, Jews arose in lamentation and mourning over the destruction of their Temple and their holy city. Every single year, the Yom Kippur fast and the Passover seder would end with the solemn vow and fervent hope of "Next year in Jerusalem!". The Jew may have been in Iran or Lithuania, Yemen or France but his heart resided in Jerusalem.

In 1948, when G-d saw fit to return sovereignty to His people over His land, the Jordanians attacked Israel and occupied the eastern portion of Jerusalem. They marched every single Jew out of the Old City and proceeded to dynamite and desecrate every synagogue and study hall. The Jordanians used the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives as latrines and used the Western Wall as a garbage dump. Jews were denied access to their holy places for these 19 years.

On the 28th of Iyar, 5727, after being attacked by three combined Arab armies dedicated to "throwing the Jews into the sea", the Israeli army liberated Jerusalem from its Jordanian occupiers. Israeli paratroopers stormed the city and secured it. The earth-shattering call came out: "The Temple Mount is in our hands!" The Chief IDF rabbi blew the Shofar and recited the shehecheyanu blessing as tears poured down the faces of even the most secular soldier as he kissed the stones of the Kotel, realizing the historical significance of the moment. Jerusalem, despoiled and abused by Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Mamluks, Turks and Arabs, had returned to its owners, the Jewish people. Never again would Jerusalem be empty of Jews. The Temple Mount is in our hands! Jerusalem is in our hands!

Today there is talk in the international community of the partitioning and division of Jerusalem. There is strong pressure to once again wrest the city from Jewish hands. However, the promise made by our ancestors in Babylon remains valid, "if I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand lose its cunning; let my tongue cling to my palate if I do not raise Jerusalem above my greatest joy." We today are guardians of this vow. One united Jewish Jerusalem forever. All of the forces in the entire world will never again separate us from Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish people. It is from Jerusalem that we derive our strength and our existence.

"And it shall be at the end of the days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be firmly established at the top of the mountains, and it shall be raised above the hills, and all the nations shall stream to it. And many peoples shall go, and they shall say, "Come, let us go up to the Lord's mount, to the house of the God of Jacob, and let Him teach us of His ways, and we will go in His paths," for out of Zion shall the Torah come forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." May we speedily see the fulfillment of the words of the prophet Yishayahu in our days.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Reminder in Time Square

Terror has returned to the streets of America. Despite all of Obama's attempts at outreach, his calls for brotherhood and acceptance, his distancing from Israel, the Islamic hatred for America has not diminished one iota. Obama's best efforts notwithstanding, Islamic jihadists remains as committed as ever to murdering as many American civilians as they can.

Maybe this latest foiled attack will remind Obama of what Israelis face on a daily basis. The same people who launch rockets at schools in Sderot and who detonate themselves up in Israeli cafes tried to blow up Time Square. Israel is threatened from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Iran by the same people who America is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. As Obama tries to court the Palestinians to the negotiating table, he should remember that they are on the same team as the people who try to wreak havoc, murder and mayhem in the streets of New York.

Obama made it his mission to repair relations with the Islamic world. His first public interview after being inaugurated was with al-Arabiyeh television. He traveled to Cairo to grovel, apologize and make amends with Muslims. He has committed himself to solving the Israeli-Arab conflict, even at the expense of the United State's greatest ally. Obama has publicly flagellated Israel, condemned it mercilessly and humiliated its Prime Minister, without making any demands on the Palestinians, all for the same of without credibility from the Muslim street. He has already managed to extract a settlement freeze on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, tied Israel's hands as Iran races closer to the bomb, put the partition of Jerusalem on the map and damaged relations with Israel. Yet, despite all of these attempts at reconciliation and peacemaking with the Islamic world, Islamic jihadists remain committed to bringing down America.

Muslim extremists do not America because of its support for Israel or because of its interventionist policies. Muslims do not hate Israel because of settlements or "the Occupation". Muslim fundamentalists hate America because it is an Infidel society, based on human rights, democracy and liberty. Muslims hate Israel because they see it as an insult in the heart of the Muslim world- a dhimmi people refusing to submit themselves beneath the yoke of Islam. Islamic jihadists are at war with America because it is non-Muslims. They are dedicated to defeating America, regardless of its president or policies. They are dedicated to overrunning Europe (almost a fait accompli at this point) no matter how much Europe tries to appease or accommodate them. They are dedicating to destroying Israel, whatever its borders or size. Simply put, they are driven to wage war in the name of Allah in order to spread the rule of Islam.

Israel is but the first line in the Muslim assault on the West. As the foiled Time Square plot clearly shows, Israel is not the only victim of Islamic hatred and violence. As the well-known saying goes: "First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people." When Obama promises them Jerusalem, he only whets their appetite for Rome and Washington as well. When he makes it seems that a judenrein Middle-East is in the making, Islamic jihadists are encouraged to take the battle to the streets of London and New York. Israel is the canary in the coal mine. Rest assured though, it always begins with the Jews, but never ends with the Jews.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Safest Place on Earth

Once again, rumours of war are abuzz in the Middle-East. Syria and Israel have begun another round of threat trading, even as Hizbullah rearms, Syria receives new shipments of Scuds and Iran makes alliances with other rogue nations around the world. Iran moves perilously closer every single day to achieving a nuclear bomb with which to wipe the State of Israel off the map, G-d forbid. Tensions are rising as Israel and its neighbours prepare for another war. Despite all of this, Israel remains the safest place of Earth for a Jew.

Around the world, Jews are in a very precarious situation. Anti-semitism worldwide has reach uncontrollable levels with Jews being regularly attacked, synagogues desecrated, Jewish institutions vandalized and an overall hostile attitude towards Jews being the norm. On university campuses on both sides of the Atlantic, Jews are demonized and threatened. Anti-semitism, after going into a brief hibernation following the horrors of Auschwitz, is no longer a taboo. In Europe, decades of liberal immigration policies have transformed the streets of London, Paris and Berlin into those of Riyadh, Marakech and Karachi. The demographic revolution in Europe is irreversible as the continent falls under the domination of the sword and the crescent. The assertive and radicalized Muslim populations in these countries have make clear their desire not to integrate but rather to dominate. They have been waging an intifada against the Jewish populations of Europe, abetted by their leftist collaborators, and this conflict threatens to explode against the Jews at any moment. In the United States, the economy teeters on collapse while the president cynically manipulates the Jewish establishment in a political and diplomatic assault on the State of Israel. This administration intentionally twists the words of its top general to make it seem that Israel- the Jews- are responsible for hatred of America and attacks on American soldiers.

Unfortunately, Jews in the Diaspora may find themselves in mortal danger very soon. The perfect storm is being created- a failing economy, the rise in radical Islam, aided by their liberal allies, as well as a resurgent fascist movement in Eastern Europe, and the return of traditional anti-semitism masqueraded as hostility towards Israel. And yet, do these dangers to Diaspora Jewry not threaten the Jewish state as well?

The first answer is simple: If a Jew must be endangered because he is Jewish, it is best to do so as a Jew in his own Jewish country. It is better to be hated as a Jew while one is living in the Jewish state than to be hated as a Jew living in a foreigner's land.

And what to answer to those who point to the existential danger which looms over the State of Israel? What do we say to those who worry about an Iranian mushroom cloud over Tel-Aviv, G-d forbid? We can point with pride and confidence to the soldiers, air force and army of the State of Israel which are committed to protecting the Jewish people. Yet this answer does not satisfy everyone. What if they fail? How can we trust in planes and tanks?

To this I answer: Do not trust in planes and tanks, but rather in the G-d of Israel. It is inconceivable that G-d would bring His people back from the four corners of the earth, reestablish them sovereign on their own land and lead them victorious through several major wars, only to wipe them out. G-d has a plan for the people of Israel and no harm will befall them. "Behold, the Guardian of Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers!"

Throughout the Torah and Neviim, G-d promises that there will never be a third exile and that He will bring His people back to their land to redeem them. Yes- there are plots against Israel afoot. Yes- Iran is building a bomb. Yes- things looks dark and gloomy. Despite all this, I would rather rely on G-d's word. The Torah guarantees us this. “You will dwell securely in your land; I will provide peace in the land; you will lie down and no one will make you afraid.” May it come speedily in our days.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What is Yom HaAtzmaut?

The Rabbis of the Gemara ask in the Tractate of Shabbat: Mai Chanukkah? "What is Chanukkah?" In regards to Purim as well they ask: "What is Purim?" The Rabbis of the Gemara were certainly familiar with the stories and observances of Chanukkah and Purim. Their question meant: "What is the significance, the purpose and the meaning of Chanukkah and of Purim?" Similarly, today we must ask ourselves: "What is Yom HaAzmaut? What is its essence and its meaning?"

Mai Yom HaAtzmaut? What is Yom HaAtzmaut? What is the significance of the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel after a 2000 year hiatus? What is the meaning of the great signs and wonders, the miracles that accompanied our return to our homeland? What does the revival of a dead language, the ingathering of the Jewish people from North, South, East and West, the blossoming of the deserts of the Land of Israel and the rebuilding of its desolate cities mean? Is this coincidence, haphazard and happenstance, or proof and testament to the existence of the G-d of Israel as ruler and director of history?

Yom HaAtzmaut must be viewed as the atchalta de'Geula, the beginning of our Redemption. How does Redemption come? The Prophet Yishayahu speaks of the Redemption: "In its time, I will hasten it" (60:22). Redemption can come in one of two ways: it can come in the way of "I will hasten it", with incredible miracles, with outpourings of divine kindness and clear revelations, or the way of "in its times", through natural processes, hard work and suffering. As our rabbis teach: "If they merit- I will hasten it. If they don't merit- in its time" (Sanhedrin 98).

The reestablishment of the State of Israel marks the beginning of the Redemption in its time, a redemption hidden and clouded through the forces of nature, devoid of the merit of the Jewish people. If this redemption is not based on our merit, then what is it based on? The Prophet Yechezkel provides us with the answer:

"And I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries. According to their way and their misdeeds did I judge them. And they entered the nations where they came, and they profaned My Holy Name, inasmuch as it was said of them, 'These are the people of the Lord, and they have come out of His land.' But I had pity on My Holy Name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they had come. Therefore, say to the house of Israel; So says the Lord God: Not for your sake do I do this, O house of Israel, but for My Holy Name, which you have profaned among the nations to which they have come. And I will sanctify My great Name, which was profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord-is the declaration of the Lord God-when I will be sanctified through you before their eyes."

The Prophet makes it clear that the essence of exile is Chillul HaShem, the Desecration of G-d's Name, because the nations said: "These are the people of the Lord, and they have come out of His land." The fact that the nation of G-d are exiled from their land is a desecration of G-d's Name, and makes Him seem to be powerless or nonexistent (c"v). Conversely, the return of the Jewish people to their land before the eyes of the entire world is the greatest Kiddush HaShem, Sanctification of G-d's Name, because it proves that G-d alone controls and rules the world.

Exile is a Desecration of G-d's Name. When Jews are weak, when they are persecuted and oppressed, G-d's Name is desecrated. Every pogrom and Inquisition, every blood libel and attack on a Jew is a desecration of G-d's Name. When the nations of the world mock and curse the Jewish people, the blaspheme and deny G-d. When Jews are beaten, expelled, raped and murdered, G-d's Name is humiliated. This denial of G-d and hatred for the Jewish people characterized the Exile. This terrible Desecration of G-d's Name reached its apex during the dark and unspeakable Holocaust, when the nations of the world banded together to annihilate the Jewish people. The wicked Nazis, during the years of the Holocaust, managed to murder one third of the Jewish people, to destroy entire communities in gas chambers and ovens, to turn Jewish fat into soap and Jewish skin into lampshades. They had no mercy on the young, the old, men and women. Jewish powerlessness was at its ultimate as the Nazi sadists taunted the Jews who were marching to their deaths in Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka: "Where is your G-d? Why doesn't He save you?"

This is when the full measure of humiliation and desecration was reached and G-d could no longer bear it. "Not for your sake do I do this, O house of Israel, but for My Holy Name, which you have profaned among the nations to which they have come." And thus G-d declared the beginning of the Redemption, the end of Exile- of Chillul HaShem. This meant the shaking off of the fear of the gentile, of the helplessness and weakness of the Jewish people, of a sovereign and free Jewish state. No longer would Jews cower in fear before their enemies! No more Auschwitz! No more Crusades and Inquisitions! The dream of Jewish strength, of Jewish hands holding Jewish guns defending the Jewish state was now a reality.

Through the incredible miracles of the reestablishment of the State of Israel, G-d demonstrated that He controls human events and shapes its destiny. The rebirth of the Jewish nation from the ashes of Europe, the revival of the Hebrew language, the return of the exiles from Yemen, Poland, Russia, Morocco, Ethiopia, and the four corners of the earth, the victory of the tiny Jewish state against one million Arab troops committed to its annihilation, are all proof of G-d's guiding hand. Yom HaAtzmaut is a day of Kiddush HaShem, when we celebrate G-d's amazing salvations and kindnesses to His people. Never in the annals of history has a nation scattered around the globe come home from two millenia of exile and persecution to reestablish itself in its ancient homeland.

The Prophet Yechezkel gives us a powerful metaphor through which we can understand Yom HaAtzmaut. In a famous vision, the Prophet describes being shown a valley full of dry bones, as far as the eye could see. G-d commanded Yechezkel to prophecy over these dry bones, and these bones grew sinews, muscles and skin. They stood up, yet they were void and empty of spirit. G-d told Yechezkel to prophecy again, and life was blown into these bones. Astonished, G-d explained the meaning of this to Yechezkel:

""Son of man, these bones are all the house of Israel. Behold they say, 'Our bones have become dried up, our hope is lost, we are clean cut off to ourselves.' Therefore, prophesy and say to them, So says the Lord God: Lo! I open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves as My people, and bring you home to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and lead you up out of your graves as My people. And I will put My spirit into you, and you shall live, and I will set you on your land, and you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and have performed it," says the Lord."

G-d showed Yechezkel the shattered communities of Europe, the smoking chimneys of Auschwitz, the mountain of ashes of Majdanek, the killing fields of the Ukraine. He showed him the terrible destruction wrought against the Jewish people. Yechezkel began to lose hope as he saw the bleak reality of the Jewish people. At that moment, G-d's reassurance came to him: "I open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves as My people, and bring you home to the land of Israel." G-d would bring new lift to the dry bones of the Jewish people. They would be reborn in their own country.

When we celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, we must be conscious of this important message. G-d had mercy on His people and sanctified His name among the nations. "What is Yom HaAtzmaut?" Kiddush HaShem! G-d has begun the process, but it is up to us to finish it, to bring the Final Redemption through our own merits, by a return to Him. We must bring the Redemption swiftly and speedily.

May we soon witness the fulfillment of the promise of the Prophet Yechezkel speedily in our days:

"So says the Lord God: On the day that I will have cleansed you from all your iniquities, and I will resettle the cities, and the ruins shall be built up. And the desolate land shall be worked, instead of its lying desolate in the sight of all that pass by. And they shall say, 'This land that was desolate has become like the Garden of Eden, and the cities that were destroyed and desolate and pulled down have become settled as fortified [cities].' And the nations that are left round about you shall know that I, the Lord, have built up the ruined places and have planted the desolate ones; I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will perform [it]. So says the Lord God: I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do for them; I will multiply them-the men-like a flock of sheep. Like the flocks appointed for the holy offerings, like the flocks of Jerusalem on its festivals, so will these cities now laid waste be filled with flocks of men, and they shall know that I am the Lord.""

Amen. Chag HaAtzmaut Sameach!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Real Meaning of Never Again

This is an old post from last Yom HaShoah. I think that it still applies.

"We, pilots of the Israeli Air Force, flying in the skies over the extermination camps, arose from the ashes of the millions of victims, carrying their silent cries, saluting their bravery, and vowing to be a shield to the Jewish Nation, and to its Land, Israel."

An oft-repeated cliche repeated by both Jewish leaders and the international community is that of "never again". Presidents and Prime Ministers visit Yad VaShem, pay tribute at Holocaust Memorials and shed crocodile tears over the Jews murdered in the Holocaust, while proceeding to condemn and attack Israel. The same leaders that stood silently in commemoration of the Holocaust denounced Israel with the most hateful vitriol during its moment of greatest need, as it was fighting to defend itself and its citizens. Never again, they pledged. Never again? Is that really so?

The Holocaust teaches many universal messages. It teaches mankind to be ever vigilant against the forces of hatred and intolerance, whenever they arise against any people or group. It warns us never to allow bigoted speech and ideas fester and grow. It shows the ease with which an entire nation can descend to the depths of depravity and immorality. Yet, for the Jewish people, the Holocaust has one sharp and poignant message: Never again to be weak.

Since the destruction of the Second Temple, for two millenia, Jews lived as strangers in foreign lands, minorities under the rule of others. In Christendom and in Islamic lands, Jews were forced to lived in ghettos, mellahs or juderias, to wear distinctive and humiliating clothing, had restrictions on their professions and employment and endured severe discrimination. Jews were at the mercies of the lords of the land and had to comply with their wishes, whether it be being forced to hear a conversionist sermon delivered by a priest in a synagogue on Shabbat, or to pay a jyziah tax in a debasing ceremony to their Muslim overlords. Jews were spat upon and cursed, beaten and abused at will. The two thousand years of Jewish life in Europe and the Middle-East, with the exception of occasional periods of prosperity and tranquility, was marked with constant fear and insecurity. Ravaged by pogroms and Crusades, Inquisitions and forced conversions, massacres and jihads, Jews lived with their lives always hanging in a narrow balance. A new king or pope, ruler or clergyman, could put the Jews in peril.

In this climate of ingrained loathing and despising of the Jews, Hitler came along. He used the traditional anti-semitic motives of the Catholic church as well as new anti-semitic racial theories to stir up the people's hate. The policies of the Nazi Regime, even before the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem was implemented, were designed to crush and dehumanize the Jews. The Jew looked in trepidation at the Nazi brownshirts, Gestapo and SS, unable to defend or stand up for himself. Like animals, Jews were crammed into cattle cars, suffocated in gas chambers and burnt in ovens. The Nazi beasts could not have accomplished their genocide without the help of their Polish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, etc. collaborators and executioners. Nor could they have managed without the world's silent approval. The Pope looked away when the Jews of Rome were rounded up from under his very window. Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill all knew about the death camps, about the killing fields and mass graves in the Ukraine, about the gas chambers and crematorium in Poland, yet closed their doors to Jewish refugees. Allied bombers flew over Auschwitz but the military didn't see the use of bombing the train lines. As Jews needed a place to flee to, the British, at the urging of the Arabs and the Nazi-collaborator Haj Amin al-Husseini, may his name be accursed, prevented Jewish aliyah to the Land of Israel, and even sent refugees back into the hands of the Nazis.

Just yesterday, on Holocaust Memorial Day, a group of partisans who fought the Nazis in the forests of Europe, visited an IDF air force base. One woman asked an officer in our air force if our pilots could reach Iran. "They can reach anywhere," he answered. This answer, powerful and moving for its simplicity, conveys the true meaning of never again. Never again will we wait in vain for Allied planes to bomb the gas chambers. Never again will we wait for world aid which did not come. Never again will we allow ourselves to be weak, to be victimized, to be powerless. Never again will we accept any conditions on where we can live, what we can wear, on our professions or possessions. Never again will we be at the mercies of the gentiles, begging for our lives. This pilot was saying that we may have been 60 years too late for the Jews of Europe, but we were not too late for the Jews of Yemen or Ethiopia. Never again will we be too late! We may not have been able to save the Jews of Warsaw, but our planes reached Iraq and Entebbe. Our planes can fly to Lebanon or Gaza, and they may yet fly to Iran, destroying the enemies of the Jewish people. We will not stand idly by our brothers blood, whether they are being rounded up and deported to annihilation, living under constant bombardment and rocket attacks or in the shadow of a nuclear attack. We know that the world abandoned the Jews to their fate, that deals were not made and safe havens closed off. Today, we can reach anywhere.

Another survivor made her own request of the air force of Israel, "What I ask of you is to make sure that there will not be another Holocaust." As long as brave Jewish men and women don the uniform of the Israeli Defense Force and protect the Jewish people from on land, sea and air, there can never be another Holocaust. We have learnt the terrible price of being weak. Being defenseless and without a homeland came at the horrendous cost of a third of our nation. The hatred of the world for the Jews has not diminished one iota since the trains came to a halt and the crematoriums stopped giving off their accursed smoke. Across Europe and North America, in public forums and university campuses, the Jewish State is being delegitimized and marked as a pariah. We must not heed the words of these haters for we know too well how dearly we pay without a state of our own. The only thing that stands between us and Auschwitz-Birkenau are the soldiers of the IDF. Those who condemned the army going in to Gaza must know that they only went in there to protect and defend the Jewish people. They are what keeps us from the narrow brink, from the mound of ashes at Majdanek, from the halls of shoes and piles of hair. To the Jews of Europe, massacred because of the world's apathy and our own weakness, scattered in the forests of Teblinka, the fields of Birkenau or the mass graves of the Ukraine, we promise never again to be weak, to allow ourselves to be bullied and beaten. For this is the true meaning of "Never Again".

Friday, April 9, 2010

Obama's Czechoslovakia

Obama subscribes to the liberal worldview that believes that the Muslim world is simply reactive and not active in its own right. The hostility between the Islamic and Western world is one wholly provoked by Western, and specifically American, actions. Obama's predecessor, Bush, brought relations with the Islamic world to a new low with his rhetoric, aggressive policies and unilateralism. Obama intends to rectify this situation and inaugurate a new era of peace and co-operation between America, the West and Islam. As Obama said in his June 2009 speech to the Islamic world in Cairo: "I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition."

The price to pay for this new beginning? The sacrifice of Israel on the altar of appeasement of Islamic hatred. In all of Obama's policies regarding Israel since assuming office, his actions have favoured the Palestinians and the Arab world at the expense of the Jewish state. While the Obama administration chose to manufacture a crisis and reprimand Israel over the construction of homes for Jews in its capital, the "moderate" Fatah party was holding a ceremony to rename a public square in honour of the perpetrator of the worst terrorist attack in Israel's history. Apparently, to Obama, Jews building in Jerusalem necessitates public rebuke and shaming of the United State's greatest ally, while Israel's "peace partner" honouring the murderer of 37 innocent Jewish men, women and children, deserves nary a protest.

It was recently reported by security officials that Obama would remove the words 'jihad' and 'Islamic extremism' from US counter-terrorism documents. Of course, it goes without saying that Obama will not remove the words 'jihad' and 'Islamic extremism' from Islamic extremists. This willing blindness to Islamic fundamentalism and jihadist intention fits perfectly with Obama's belief that the root of the problem in the Middle-East is Israel- that the "occupation" and "settlements" fuel the jihadists which attack American and Western targets. The Obama administration deliberately chose to misinterpret the words of US General Petraeus to claim that Israeli policies endanger US troops.

Obama's open hostility to Israel is no secret and was only most recently expressed in his humiliation of Israel's Prime Minister when he came to Washington to deliver a speech before AIPAC. Obama is pressuring Israel to make dangerous concessions: to retreat to the indefensible "Auschwitz lines" of pre-1967, to expel hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes and to partition Jerusalem, Israel's capital. At the same time, he continues to whet Palestinian maximalist aspirations and encourage violence and terror. According to Palestinian officials, Obama encouraged Palestinian 'resistance', meaning terror and violence against Israel.

Obama continues to wave the Iranian threat over Israel's head in order to promote his peace process to nowhere. His year of attempted engagement and diplomacy has failed as Iran is racing ever closer to a nuclear bomb. Even as Obama gathers more world leaders for useless summits over sanctions, Iran unveils third-generation advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment. US support for an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities seems as remote as ever.

Israel is finding itself increasingly isolated, being pushed into a corner by a hostile American president prepared to appease the tyrants and demagogues of the Islamic world at its expense. As Obama pursues more futile policies and actions, Iran continues its genocidal threats and comes closer to building a nuclear bomb with which to attack Israel. For Israel, the clock is ticking for a strike on Iran. It will receive no support from the United States as Obama plans to make Israel his Czechoslovakia. Israel cannot rely on the United States to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities. America will not come to the Jews' rescue- just as it didn't bomb the railway tracks to Auschwitz. Israel can only rely on its own strength, and its Father in Heaven.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Assault on Israel's Heritage

The assault on Israel's Jewish heritage has begun. The American administration has taken taken the side of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in denying Israel's right to build in Jerusalem, and by extension, the deep Jewish historic roots in the Land of Israel. The increasing American pressure for Israel to stop building in its capital and to surrender half of the city to the Palestinians, coupled with the continued assault on Israel's Jewish heritage, serves to delegitimize Israel's right to exist.

In February, Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu announced that he would add Mearat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, in Hebron and Kever Rachel, Rachel's Tomb, in Bethlehem to a list of Jewish and Zionist heritage sites. Mearat HaMachpela is believed to be the burial place of the biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well as their wives Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. Rachel's Tomb is described in the Book of Genesis as the site where Jacob buried his wife Rachel following her death during childbirth. These two holy sites are incontestable proof of the deep biblical and historic Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.

Rioting on the part of the Palestinians, and international condemnation, followed Bibi's recognition of Israel's Jewish heritage. Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas called the move "a serious provocation" while Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh threated a third intifada. Throughout Israel, Arabs rioted, vandalized Jewish property and attacked soldiers. In Hebron, Arabs threw glass bottles at IDF patrols while in Jaffa, local Arabs, aided by Israeli leftists, threw molotov cocktails at buses. The UNESCO Director General released a statement expressing "concern" over the move. The US State Department called it "provocative and unhelpful". The absurdity of the situation reached its apex with full scale denial of the Jewish heritage of these sites by Turkey's premier Erdogan told a Saudi newspaper that the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb “were not and never will be Jewish sites, but Islamic sites.”

The next target in the assault on Israel's heritage was Jerusalem. When US envoy to the region, George Mitchell, was visiting Israel with the intention of starting indirect talks between Israel and Fatah, Israel's Minister of the Interiour Eli Yishai announced announced the construction of 1,600 Jewish apartments in the Jewish neighbourhood of Ramat Shlomo. Mitchell claimed that this routine construction was part of an Israel effort to humiliate him. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the announcement "an insult" while Obama's top adviser, David Axelrod, called it "an affront". When Bibi visited Washington in order to deliver a speech to AIPAC, Obama treated him with disdain and humiliated him. There was no photo-op between Bibi and Obama and no state dinner. Obama showed his displeasure by leaving Bibi to wait for him for forty minuted while he had dinner with his family. Israel's PM received a treatment that that would have been considered shameful for the leader of Angola.

Obama's pandering to the Arabs has encouraged them in their war against Israel and the Jewish people. His harsh stance on Jerusalem and his embarrassing treatment of Bibi has made the Arabs harden their position and to continue their assault against Israel. Fatah called for Muslims to converge on the al-Aksa mosque to protect it from Jewish attempts to destroy it. Hamas escalated Muslim rioting by calling for "a Day of Rage" against Israel. The reason: Israel's rebuilding of the 17th century Churva synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem. The synagogue, built in the four centuries ago by Rabbi Judah Ha-Chassid, has been destroyed twice, the latest time by the Jordanians in 1967. After the Jordanians illegally divided up Jerusalem in 1967, they expelled the Jewish population from the Old City and proceeded to desecrate synagogues, yeshivot and Jewish sites in Jerusalem. To symbolize the destruction of Jerusalem's Jewish community, the Jordanian army dynamited the Churva synagogue and used its ruins as a stable. Israel's restoration of the most significant medieval synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem causes Islamic rage and violence. Hamas' ambassador in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, told the Al-Jazeera satellite channel that the opening of the Hurva Synagogue formed part of a larger Israeli attempt to “invent” a Jewish history for Jerusalem.

Israel's Jewish heritage is consistently under attack. It has long been a policy of both Fatah and Hamas, as well as the larger Arab and Islamic worlds, to deny the historical fact of the Jewish roots and presence in the Land of Israel. This denial is strengthened by the Obama administration's portrayal of Jewish construction in Israel's capital as "settlements" and "threats to peace". Obama's hostility towards Israel ignores the fact that Jerusalem is, and always has been, a Jewish city. It has been at the heart of the Jewish conscious ever since King David made it his capital over 3500 years ago and his son Solomon built the First Temple on Mount Moriah.

Internationally, a campaign is underway to paint Israel as an illegitimate colonial power. By erasing the Jewish people's roots in the Land of Israel and portraying Jews as European interlopers who stole Palestine from the natives, anti-Israel propagandists pave the way for the annihilation of the State of Israel. Since Israel is based on an original sin of land theft in 1948, Islamic genocidal threats and terror are perfectly acceptable means of "resistance". Any Israeli attempt at self-defense is automatically "war crimes", a colonial dictator repressing the aspiration of the indigenous people.

Israel will not be able to win the war against its enemies unless it sets the record straight. The State of Israel draws its legitimacy from the legacy of king David and Solomon, from Judah the Maccabbee and Bar Kochba. Zionism is the natural expression of two thousand years of Jewish longing to return home, to rebuild their country from which they were forcibly removed by Roman centurions and legionnaires. What gives Israel the moral upper-hand in the conflict is the fact that the Land of Israel belongs indisputably to the Jewish people. It was in the Land of Israel that the Jewish people arose, built two Commonwealths, and fought courageously before being carried away by first the Babylonians and then the Romans. It was the Land of Israel in which Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sojourned, in which David fought and Solomon built, in which Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied and called the wayward Jews to repent. It was the Land that, upon remembering its glory, the exiled Jews sat down by the rivers of Babylon and wept. It is the Land upon whose agricultural cycle the Jewish calendar and holidays revolve. It is the Land which our Sages taught that the entire Torah rests. Jewish settlement and presence in Israel predates that of the British in Britain, the French in France, or the Romans in Rome. When the Greeks were only beginning to ponder the great philosophical questions, the Jews had already left Egypt, conquered the Land, established Jerusalem as their capital, built the Temple there, split into two kingdoms, been exiled by the Babylonians for 50 years, and returned to rebuild under Ezra and Nehemia.

Even after the vast majorities of Jews were carried into captivity by the Romans, the Land was never bereft of a Jewish presence. The center of Jewish life spread to the Galilee and then to the Golan, and during the ages, pious Jews settled in the holy cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed and Tiberias. For the great masses who could not ascend and return home, Israel remained the focal point of their intense longing and desire. Every single year, at the end of every Passover Seder and Yom Kippur fast, every Jew would declare: Next Year in Jerusalem! At every Jewish wedding, a cup is broken and a vow is made: If I forget thee, O Jerusalem... Three times a day, every day, observant Jews turn towards the East and beseech G-d, "may our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy". A Jew cannot even eat a cookie without thanking G-d "for the good and spacious land which You gave our ancestors as an inheritance".

Any peace agreement must be based on the recognition that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, the land in which our people arose and developed. Our answer to the haters must be that of Simon the Maccabee, which he wrote to the Seleucid king Antiochus: "We have neither taken foreign land nor seized foreign property, but only the inheritance of our fathers, which at one time had been unjustly taken by our enemies. Now that we have the opportunity, we are firmly holding the inheritance of our fathers." The relationship of the Jews and their Land is one of love, longing, tearful separation and joyous return.

As the holiday of Passover approaches, we must remember the fifth promise of Redemption, corresponding to the Cup of Eliyahu and the fifth cup of wine at the seder: "I will bring you to the land, concerning which I raised My hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and I will give it to you as a heritage; I am the Lord.'"

Chag Kasher v'Sameach