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Ask the Rabbi
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.
Cheshvan 26, 5768, 11/7/2007
Jerusalem's Betar soccer team may find itself without fans in the stands for the next half-year, if the soccer federation's tribunal decides so.
Truth tell, ever since I've been in Israel I have never watched a soccer game from inside a stadium, especially in Jerusalem. I love the game - on television. Somehow, the ambience doesn't agree with me. But, like Voltaire, I disagree with punishing someone for saying something, as unpopular as it may be to our left-wing dominated media and the wishy-washy politicians who didn't like the booing of Yitzhak Rabin's memory by Betar fans at Haifa last Sunday evening.
This evening, I watched an interview program on the subject (moderated by a longtime Channel One employee who, a few years back, jumped ship and became the Centrist Party's spokesperson - just to illustrate how "objective" our media is). One guest, Professor Avi Ben-Tzvi, a sports enthusiast, noted, quite properly, that in the United States, unlike in Israel and many countries in Europe, no high chainlink fences separate the fans from the playing field and yet there is little, if at all, violence on the playing field of the sort we see at soccer games where fans pour onto the pitch.
However, as I wrote to him, every baseball fan has at one time or another in his life screamed out "Kill the Umpire!". And, of course, that's the difference. Language, even boisterous language, is protected in America. Actions are not, if they are violent.
No violent action ocurred in Haifa. There was booing and a few catcalls. It was embarassing and uncalled for. But it was not illegal nor violent. To call it, as the federation has done, as "unsporting behavior" and to punish the team and its income from ticket sales, is itself grossly unfair and maybe illegal.
To drag the politics over Rabin's legacy into the sports arena is silly. Rabin played tennis so maybe there's an opportunity for a Rabin Cup playoff. But soccer is another matter as is the ability of Israel's media to itself get violent in whipping up animosity to Betar and its supporters.
Cheshvan 25, 5768, 11/6/2007
A legacy of the 2000 Clinton Parameters is the term "Holy Basin" which refers to the area of the Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion and some Christian holy places which will be administered under a special regime which implied internationalization. His actual words were: "Arab areas are Palestinian and Jewish ones are Israeli. This would imply the Old City as well". And he urged both sides to work on maps to creat maximum contiguity (okay, so that's a non-starter but he was President) and that each religion - not state - would be responsible for its own holy places. There was also the Morantinos 'Non-paper' which dealt with Jerusalem and that stipulated that for three years the Temple Mount would be under international sovereignty including an Islamic state. The Pals. would be custodians. Those proposals finally collapsed in 2001 when Barak announced that the Temple Mount would not be transferred to Arab sovereignty.
The Temple Mount is back on the agenda and on the table but this would be no Holy Basin and its future would be wholly base. Haim Ramon speaks of a "special regime". Some people write of "the politics of verticality" in a vain search for a logical solution.
In the meantime, however, this past year the Temple Mount has been dug up without authorization and without proper supervision. Artifacts have been either dumped or destroyed or stolen. The continuing discrimination of Jews as Jews, rather than as non-identifiable tourists, stays in place. The courts still consider the site too "sensitive" a place and therefore, despite laws protecting Jewish rights, the High Court of Justice protects the government, its police and other bodies who interfere with and who inhibit legal Jewish rights.
There are perhaps a dozen or so groups, organizations and institutions dealing with the Temple Mount as a Jewish holy site. All do good work in the field of education and strenghtening the Israeli public's consciousness towrds the location. Hundreds ascend the Mount weekly for a short walk around in those portions outside the sacred precinct. But there is no protest.
Shurat Ha-Din is seeking to force that charges be brought against the Waqf for violating the law. The Committee Against the Destruction of Temple Mount Antiquities appealed to the High Court of Justice. But this isn't going anywhere fast. This Thursday night, as every month, thousands will be encircling the Temple Mount gates, from the outside.
A protest movement needs to protest. It must be seen and heard. If the fate of Joseph's Tomb in Shchem and the Shalom-Al-Yisrael Synagogue in Jericho are to be avoided, if the Israel government wants Jews to be able to pray at the Western Wall, then something activist must happen.
I can inform you that suggestions have been made but lethargy or lack of funds or lack of excitement is hindering.
I hope I can be blogging on this subject in a more positive vein soon.
Cheshvan 22, 5768, 11/3/2007
The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Israel's air force bombed a Hamas "outpost".
I see a problem here.
New neighborhoods of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are usually called "outposts" in the media. I, for one, refer to them as "outlying neighborhoods".
But if the JPost is going to continue to call Hamas military locations as "positions" that's all right by me - by the way, Haaretz terms the site bombed as a "police position" (?!? "police", aw come on), - then the term "outposts" referring to places were Jewish revenant civilians reside needs to be changed.
Watch your language!
Cheshvan 21, 5768, 11/2/2007
I don't believe in conspiracies but I do believe in evidence. Nevertheless, who killed Yitzhak Rabin isn't the subject of this short post nor will I engage in discussions about that issue (but I will gladly discuss the media's role in creating a false sense of "incitement" running up to the assassination).
What I do want to ask is this: Yigal Amir can be brought into a courtroom with ease and sit quietly for an hour or so and listen to the deliberations and hear the judge's decision (read about developments here) but he can't be brought to his son's brit milah (circumcision) ceremony and there are some who want to prevent the brit from being held even inside the prison?
A courtroom can be secured but a small hall in a synagogue can't? Who is fooling whom? The law is sacred but a 3500 year old religious ceremony is not?
So, this is the Jewish/Democratic state?
Cheshvan 21, 5768, 11/2/2007
The Rabbi of an Orthodox synagogue in Los Angeles has proven that the pulpit should not be thought of as the cockpit.
Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of Bnai David-Judea Congregation has issued a call in the local Jewish Journal weekly to openly discuss the redivision of Jerusalem. Even the Los Angeles Times took note and wrote it up.
I read his article (here) and I am forced to say that I am not very impressed with his logic or his knowledge of international law as well as the history of the Zionist movement, or more properly, is ignoring of that history. To be generous, I'd put him behind a mechitza and give him a condensed seminar to catch up on these issues and more. It is actually embarrassing that this is the face of Orthodox Judaism in LA when it comes to current affairs, Middle East history and using plain sense.
What Kanefsky wants is not to see Jerusalem divided (and here his editor did him a disservice) but that we Jews/Israelis need be honest in telling the story of our conflict since the 1967 war (as if prior to 1967 is irrelevant. of course, if we do relate to the pre-67 period, all of Kanefksy's thinking would be revealed to be pure, you should excuse the expression hogwash) because without that "honesty", no meaningful talks about peace can take place (if the Arabs were just as honest the Rabbi might turn rabid).
He must have just finished reading that inimical book of Gershom Gorenberg, The Accidental Empire, for he writes about the probable illegality of the reestablishment of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza which Gorenberg's book plays up (actually its the opinion of but one legal advisor - who has long since emmigrated to London - which flies in the face of dozens of others holding the opposite opinion, even if we neglect the 3000 year Jewish right to the Land).
I can presume, as we all, that the Rabbi has a grounding in Halacha and the Talmud. Besides learning about the status of Jerusalem in the framework of Jewish tradition, he should also know about the League of Nations Mandate which sought to promote the reconstitution of the Jewish national homeland in the territory that, at the very least, included all of Jerusalem and Judea, Samaria and Gaza if not more (Rabbi, we were forced to partition the Land due to Arab violence that England, not us, surrendered to).
Could it be the Los Angles ambience that has affected his thinking? Can it be that he is delusional and irrational or just playing to the grandstands as this excerpt illustrates:-
"The possibility that the Kotel, the Jewish Quarter or the Temple Mount would return to their former states of Arab sovereignty [no Rabbi, they would be handed over to the PA] is unfathomable to me. At the same time though, to insist that the government not talk about Jerusalem at all...is to insist that Israel come to the negotiating table telling a dishonest story...".
But that bit doesn't make sense. What seems to annoy him is our "story". But if we alter our story to make the other side and him happy, we play into their hands. What has his narrative to do with the fact that the Muslim Waqf is destroying Jewish historical and archeological artifacts? That our antiquities are being dumped? That the governments, backed up by the courts and a weak Chief Rabbinate, deny Jews the right to pray on the Temple Mount, to visit openly as Jews and not just as non-identifiable 'tourists'. That the Mount of Olives is desecrated regularly? Can he not recall what was done, when Jerusalem was divided, to the tombstones of our and maybe his ancestors - pathways and latrine covers?
Rabbi Kanefsky may be the spitiual leader of an Orthodox congregation but he happens also to be an outstanding and unfortunate example of that League of Trembling Israelites, seeking a disconnected high moral ground of a mea culpa stance. He is retreating from Judaism and Zionism, the Jewish cultural and religious tradition and legacy. And worse, he displays little knowledge of what the 'peace meeting' in Annapolis portends.