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Ask the Rabbi
News & Call-In with Tamar Yonah
Yisrael Medad is a revenant resident of Shiloh, in the Hills of Efrayim north of Jerusalem. He arrived in Israel with his wife, Batya, in 1970 and lived in the renewing Jewish Quarter, eventually moving to Shiloh in 1981.
Currently the Menachem Begin Center's Information Resource Director, he has previously been director of Israel's Media Watch, a Knesset aide to three Members of Knesset and a lecturer in Zionist History. He assists the Yesha Council in it's contacts with the Foreign Media in a volunteer capacity, is active on behalf of Jewish rights on the Temple Mount and is involved in various Jewish and Zionist activist causes. He contributes a Hebrew-language media column to Besheva and publishes op-eds in the Jerusalem Post and other periodicals.
When I spent a Shabbat in Holliswood, Queens two weeks ago, I took advantage of Parshat Korach during my presentation during the pre-Mincha talk to point out that the real problem with the story of the revolt of Korach is that after the swallowing up of Korach and the 250, the fire, the plague and the censers and the appearance of the cloud, the people were still non-believing in the leadership of Moshe. And, in a similar fashion today, the real problem is not bad politicians but that the vast majority of the populace lets the leaders get away. They always have the power to make things right but fail. Politicians we expect to be corrupt, semi or otherwise, but we should also have faith in the ability of the people to see through and react.
Today, while going home, I had an example of the Israeli mentality which, I suggest, shows how screwed up things are.
They are tearing up the stretch of road at the beginning of Emek Refaim and leading to the King David Hotel and some sidewalk as well. Coming from the Begin Center, I stood at where the bus stop used to be (they removed it this morning) and where there was a break in the barriers that separated the road from the reduced sidewalk. I admit, I did not see that some100 yards further towards the German Colony they had set up a substitute bus stop. And so, when the bus came along, I only then noticed the stop. I started to move towards the bus and, fortunately, it had to stop, due to the traffic light turning red up ahead, right where I was originally standing.
I knocked on the door, gestured and then shouted to the driver that I was unaware that the stop had been moved. He ignored me, staring straight ahead. Again I banged, gently, on the door and made an apologetic face. Nothing.
So, I started to step toward the front of the bus and began to remove my pen from my pocket in order to take down his license plate number. He immediately opened the door to shout at me but, despite my age, I quckly step backwards, thrust my right arm with my bag into the doorway, and took one step up into the bus. He tried closing the door on me but, like Shimshon HaGibbor of old, I pried open the doors. He then yelled at me, saying, "you think I'm afraid of you hatzaga (show)?" and I replied, "I guess so, after all, you did open the door."
He then tried to yell some more but I moved off to the back,
Now, I didn't try to stop the movement of the bus or interfere with it. The driver had stopped to wait for a change of light and for the traffic in front to move. The stop had just been altered that morning. But he had to be "in charge" over a little thing like that.
A societal trait of your average Israeli.
With that attitude, who cares about Qassams, prisoner exchanges or Eretz-Yisrael?
I celebrated Queen Elizabeth II's birthday at the home of the British Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Tim Phillips. It was reported in Greer Fay Cashman's society column in the Jerusalem Post and was accompanied by a protest from the Palestinian Authority's Saeb Erekat. It even made the Daily Telegraph in England.
It also, I have learned, made Hansard's, the diary of the House of Commons.
Here's an exchange from June 24th:
Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): ... I am interested, however, to know what he means by “location of settlements”. Article 49 of the fourth Geneva convention is extremely clear that colonisation of occupied territory is illegal. The settlements in all of the occupied territory are the biggest physical obstacle to a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Now that a ceasefire is in place, surely the Palestinians can expect us to pursue the matter under international law. What kind of signal does it send when settlers’ leaders are then invited by Her Majesty’s ambassador to Israel to a party celebrating the Queen’s birthday?
Dr. Kim Howells Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office: Not very helpful signals, and I agree entirely with the hon. Gentleman that this is the time to push the Israelis hard on the question of illegal settlements. Clearly, they are illegal and are not helping the Annapolis process in the least. Indeed, they are an obstacle to progress.
So I wrote to him thus:
I found it disturbing that you, Sir, would so readily agree with MP Blunt that my invitation, along with two others, to the Queens birthday celebration at Ambassador Phillips' official residence as well as on the issue of the presumed "illegality" of my home village was not helpful and that there is a need for a "push".
I would suggest to you that my home village of Shiloh is not an "obstacle" nor illegal and that Amb. Phillips' invitation was entirely in order. This seems to appear to you, surely, a complex issue but it need not be coloured by personal biases based on political ideologies obtained some 40 years ago.
To be concise: the Jewish people's homeland for over 1500 years was lost as a political entity after being conquered by the Romans, a second time, in 135 CE (your AD). It then became known as "Palestine". It was conquered by Arabs only in 638 CE. In 1917, HMG recognized the right of Jewish return to its homeland. 1919, at the Versailles Peace Conference, in 1920 at the San Remo Conference and in 1922, at the Supreme Council of the League of Nations, that right was eternalized in international law as the "reconstitution of the Jewish homeland". The territory of that right, which included "close settlement", extended to both sides of the Jordan River. The following year, Great Britain backtracked and authored a territorial partition, to be followed by yet another partition plan in 1937 and consummating in the 1947 UN Partition Resolution. All these comprised a reneging on that primary right. No Arab entity, genuine or fictitious such as the "Palestinian people", ever agreed to accept any Jewish presence anywhere in the area. Thus, in the post-1967 era, Jews have simply, Mr. Minister, returned home.
Of course, my full explanation of such would be too long for a letter but I am sure that your staff could prepare for you a brief from these sites:
As regards the matter of my physical presence at the celebration, I am sure that you, Sir, would find it offensive to be rejected and nullified simply for being what you are rather than doing anything criminal or illegal and that is my reaction. On a more pragmatic level, how could HMG ever learn anything if the officials simply ignore a situation. I have been engaged in discussions with FO diplomats for three decades, have visited the FO at King Charles Street and at my home in Shiloh have received delegations of MPs and others. I find your attitude quite shortsighted.
If you wish to continue this discussion, even if for your position as Minister of State, if not your own personal edification, I am, Sir, at your service.
I have a wedding coming up to take place in Manhattan, so for the next two weeks I can't promise a regular blogging schedule (as if I have one). I also cannot be able to assure regular review of comments that my blog receives.
That being so, I have decided to deal with a subject some readers of mine seem to get stuck on which is quite simply disagreements with my position and outlook on issues they don't accept my thinking or rational.
Did you read this, published on Arutz 7? -
"Establishing a new outpost next to an existing community is not the right strategy," according to the committee. Instead, it advises activists to block road intersections and build new communities elsewhere.
If I understand this correctly, this new 'committee' accepts the inevitability of the destruction of caravans or other structures or even whole communities (the reference, though, is to the 'outpost' communities). They acknowledge the greater power of the police and their brutality and the anti-Eretz Yisrael attitude of the Civil Administration and members of the Ministry of Justice. They suggest a reaction of building at another location. A principle, I grasp it, has now been fixed: if a community may suffer damage, it is better to respond somewhere else. Don't fight at the destroyed place but move on. Of course, hopefully, that location will eventually be rebuilt if you succeed in the struggle.
That being so, I asked myself (and I ask you), what is the essential difference between that approach and that of the Yesha Council? The Council has been attempting to preserve large outposts by negotiating over smaller, perhaps insignificant locations for the purpose of strengthening over-all the physical, economic, security and legal presence. Each location on its own merits and the willingness of the residents. It does not negate any achievement but also recognizes exigencies, even if only temporary.
A second issue that is linked with this is the proposal that instead of a defeatist, harmful Yesha Council, the state of "Yehudah" should be pursued. In other words, while we can't really protect a few caravans, we can set up a new state. A state that maybe 3.3% of Israel's Jews support and 3.4% of World Jewry supports (actually, I made up those figures and I guess the numbers are lower). A state that is separated along a north-south axis by Jerusalem and firmly controlled by regular Zionists (to be connected by a bridge? A tunnel?). A state that cannot protect itself (unless we bring back those Jewish Legion dogs). A state which even less than 5% of its residents aren't interested in creating (again, I'm guessing on the numbers).
This state is the most logical response. So they say.
I don't agree. But you probably guessed that.
And so, we have two weeks while I'm gone (or not) to come up with a better idea.
Think about it.
And a big mazal tov to the couple.
I am not a news editor at Arutz 7, so this is the best I can do:
You've read this about destruction at Yitzhar. This is a direct result of the intervention of Sec'y of State Condoleeza Rice. I know.
Here's a picture showing an attempt to protest and delay security forces:
(Photo Credit: Yonah Tzoref)