Middle East 5:43 AM 3/7/2014
Middle East 3:13 AM 3/7/2014
Inside Israel 1:14 AM 3/7/2014
Life Lessons with Judy Simon
I am a resident of Shiloh, with my wife and children, and now grandchildren, since 1981, having come on Aliyah in 1970. I have served in a volunteer capacity as a Yesha Council spokesperson, twice a member of Amana's secretariat, Benjamin Regional Council plenum member and mayor of Shiloh. I was a parliamentary aide for Geula Cohen and two other MKs, an advisor to a Minister, vice-chairman and executive director of Israel's Media Watch and currently, am Information and Content Resource coordinator for the Begin Heritage Center.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, interviewed for an upcoming Canadian TV broadcast, on the occasion of Canad'a state visit of PM Harper, was quoted as saying the following to the interviewer, CTV’s Lisa LaFlamme:
“...Now in the Palestinian state, the way its being contemplated, no Jew can live there, it has to be Jew free, ethnic cleansing...they can’t contemplate Jews living there.”
“I think the issue of settlements will be resolved, the question of the territories, in general, will be resolved in the negotiations...“It’s not about settlements, it’s not about territory, and it’s not even about a Palestinian state, which we agreed right from the start to recognize. It’s about a Jewish state...they’re not willing to recognize the Jewish state, the nation state of the Jewish people. There’s something wrong there.”
Of course Netanyahu is correct but it is worse than that.
It is not only the negating of the Jewish national ethos. It is not what I term Palestinianism, which is the "Disinventivity Model of Nationalism". What it is is a theological-rooted denial of the Jew as a Jew.
As explained, since we didn't "get the job done', we are no longer the 'Chosen People'. That is just an echo of the Christian view - and we know where that led.
Despite attempts otherwise, the Quranic verses are quite negative about the Jews, in a religious, personal and national view. Sura 47, in particular, are quite clear on the subject. And as even Benny Morris concluded, after decades of research, the Arav opposition to Zionism was couched in Islamist Jihadi conceptualization:
If until now the War of Independence was characterized as a "territorial struggle between two national groups or a political battle with a military façade," in his new book, Morris claims that the facts necessitate a different assessment: "The War of Independence was a jihad—an Islamic holy war" as well as a territorial and political war.
Lamm: You mean a religious war from square one?
Morris: What I discovered in the documentation relating to the war, at least from the Arab side, was that the war had a religious character, that the central element in the war was an imperative to launch jihad. There were other imperatives of course, political and others—but the most important from the enemy's perspective was the element of the infidels who had the nerve to take control over sacred Muslim lands and the need to uproot them from there. The decisive majority in the Arab world saw the war first and foremost as a holy war, but until today historians have not examined the documentation that proves this. In my view, they have also ignored Arab rhetoric of the day, which universally included religious hatred against the Jews, because they thought the Arabs adopted this as normal speech that did not emanate from deep mental resources. They thought this was something superficial, that everyone talked like this. But I am positive the Arab spokesmen in 1948 did go beyond this and clearly and explicitly talked about jihad...
It is difficult to verbalize that to audiences who presume we're saying such things either to cover up our own "price tag' actions or we're just crazy. But a way must be found to sharpen the message, to clarify to our friends and those who still prefer to be more comfortable with anti-Semitism that the Arab hostility is not based on what we do in "their Palestine" but on who we are in relation to their religion.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday made a clear and forthright statement:
"Not for one moment do we deny this; this is our land. We are not foreigners in Jerusalem, Beit El or Hebron. We know what we want to achieve but this achievement cannot erase the rights of the State of Israel, the rights of the Jewish People, and the basic right to a Jewish national state. I reiterate that in my view, this is the root of both the conflict and the incitement, the non-recognition of this basic fact."
Yes, It Is Our Land, Mr. Netanyahu!
If my English comprehension is as good as I think it is - and as good as it should be - this element:
"We know what we want to achieve but this achievement cannot erase the rights of the State of Israel, the rights of the Jewish People, and the basic right to a Jewish national state"
means he is convinced many Jews will not be living in locations where we have full rights to be living when peace is achieved.
What do you think?
Am I miscomprehending?
I was recently in England, participating in the Limmud Conference and on the Shabbat of Shemot, I presented this Dvar Torah at a Kiddush in Golders Green:
In Chapter 4 of Exodus, in charging Moses with his mission to redeem the Children of Israel and to take them out of slavery and bring them to the Land of Promise, God instructs Moses in verses 22-23:
And thou shall say unto Pharaoh: Thus saith the LORD: Israel is My son, My first-born. And I have said unto thee: Let My son go, that he may serve Me…
The Hebrew verb employed for “serve” is vayavduni (ויַעַבְדֵנִי) and yet, in the next chapter, when Moses appears before Pharoah for the first time to make his demand face-to-face, the message, in verse 1, is different:
'Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel: Let My people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness.'
And the Hebrew verb is וְיָחֹגּוּ , vayachogu, which is more indicative of a celebration. Of course, Jewish holidays were marked by sacrificial worship but nevertheless, Moses was not quoting God but, perhaps, interpreting Him for Pharoah. Hasbara.
Rashi’s commentary, quoting from the Midrash Rabbah, highlights that when Moses set off for the palace with Aharon, he was accompanied by the 70 Elders with whom he had shared the charge he had been tasked with by God but that they began dropping off and slipping away and by the time he arrived at his destination, Moses was alone, with his brother.
Leaders can be outstanding personalities. Intelligent, energetic and fearless, feeling the sense of public responsibility, they are the right person at the right place at the right time. They can formulate a vision for the public and explain to foreign powers why the country needs to do what it does.
But if they begin to feel a sense of a lack of full backing from those they are to represent, even they may feel a necessity to alter what was the original purpose, even if only out of a momentary lack of confidence and even they think what they are expressing is just a “different way of saying things”.
Moses heard God’s words, and, as we read in 4:30, Aharon spoke to the Elders
all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses.
Did he? All? Without the Elders with him, when the moment came to inform Pharaoh what God wanted, the content was altered, if only but slightly.
Perhaps Moses felt that Pharoah could not grasp the full import of Judaism’s monotheism in that God was to be “served” in a form or worship that created a unique bond between the human and the Divine. He changed the term to something that Pharoah could more easily understand to one in which what was understood by Pharoah was that the Children of Israel were to have a festival but not that their allegiance was to be reserved for someone other than Pharoah. The two terms were not exclusive for a Jewish understanding but for the non-Jewish ear, there is a difference. God was demanding that His authority was to override that of a temporal ruler. The point of the festival was not an enjoyment for the slaves, of a simple ‘good time’, but a reordering of their commitment, from one “god” to another God.
Is there a political lesson here?
Perhaps. Even two.
In the first instance, Hasbara does have its limits. You can alter the format of the message, its formulation, its presentation, even its impact. But if you get caught up with word-play, you just may lose the message entirely.
And in the second instance, even the most talented leaders can fail if the people are not behind them. In a democracy, even after electing a leader, the people still continue to have a task which is to back their leaders and assure thereby that they are doing what they should and what was agreed upon.
At this first moment in history of someone "speaking truth to power", there was a faltering.
Let us hope this lesson has been learned.
A thought came to me (no, not in a brilliant flash of light) regarding the Temple Mount.
One of the central difficulties in advancing the full implementation of the Law for the Protection of the Holy Places is the position of the High Court of Jusice which views the issue not fully in terms of juridicial application.
The Law states:
The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.
Whosoever desecrates or otherwise violates a Holy Place shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of seven years.
Whosoever does anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of five years.
This Law shall add to, and not derogate from, any other law.
The Minister of Religious Affairs is charged with the implementation of this Law, and he may, after consultation with, or upon the proposal of, representatives of the religions concerned and with the consent of the Minister of Justice make regulations as to any matter relating to such implementation.
There are several problems.
In the first instance, the whole policy of the governments of Israel since 1967 has been - do not alter in any way the status quo. That might be acceptable but as we know, or should, the status quo only applies to Jews. Muslims have constructed two undergound mosques (and we recently discovered that the Barclay Gate vestibule has also been rennovated) in addition to gardening (to cover up Herodian paving stones), walkways, building open-air prayer platforms Iwnere they play soccer) and they hold political demonstrations within the esplanade. Oh, and besides Sheikh Raed Salah being prosecuted for incitement, have you ever heard of a Muslim tried for hurting my feelings when they destroy historical and cultural and religious artifacts on the Temple Mount?
In the second instance, the "sensitivity" quotient of the site, that is, its "flashpoint level", is what concerns the justices, not justice, not human rights, not what the law guarantees. To estimate that, the justices depend on the ... police. They have no independent verification method to confirm what the police tell them.
And in the third instance, that last element in the law - the "regulations" - is a real stumbling-block. In the last forty-six years, they have not been made. So, the judges say, how can we provide you with assistance if there exist no regulations.
What would those regulations define? Well, the days Jews can enter freely; the hours of those days; the places where Jews can exercise their freedom of access, their freedom of worship.
A Catch-22 situation in a sense. If there are no regulations, the argument goes, how can we permit you to do something, like praying, if it is administratively non-existent? After all, in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron there are regulations.
All this has bothered me for decades. But the flash came.
If the lack of regulations handicap the court from providing Jews our rights, well, the lack of such should equally handicap the government from preventing us from having our rights fulfilled. Full bureaucratic equality.
What's 'good' for the government, and is 'bad' for us, should be turned on its head: what's 'bad' for the government must be 'good' for us. If the regulations are required for us to possess and exercise rights, regulations must be applicable to the government in order for it to prevent us our rights. But, since the regulations do not exist, how can the government deny us rights, except in the case of immediate threats to public order.
Is that flashy or what?