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Posts Tagged ‘Zionism’

Jerusalem Day

Though officially, Jerusalem Day ended hours ago, I’ve been thinking of it all through the daylight hours today.

In Hebrew, it’s called Yom Shichrur Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Liberation Day (rather than Reunification Day, which many people use).  I like the word “liberation” and its meaning.  Yes, Jerusalem was reunified as a result of the Six-Day War, but Jerusalem (and the rest of Judea and Samaria) were actually liberated, meaning that free access to holy sites was restored (at least until the self-delusion of Oslo), free passage was made possible between Israel and these places and with it, increased opportunity for development and improvement of quality of life.

Of course, many of us believe that this liberation didn’t go far enough; these lands weren’t annexed, and in the corrupt, incompetent hands of what would one day style itself the Palestinian Authority, freedom has been severely limited.  (The Jewish areas, under the control of a politically liberal Defense Ministry, have also been choked off, especially of late, from realizing their potential due in part to a dogged insistence that these lands must remain in escrow for a twenty-third Arab state.)  The Arabs here are not much freer under their current government than they were under the neglectful thumb of Jordan.  Had Israel chosen to annex these lands and enfranchised part or all of their inhabitants, history might have been quite different, both for Jews and Arabs.

But even this partial liberation has made its indelible mark on the Jewish psyche.  We are no longer living in a Jerusalem that is not really Jerusalem.  Our Jerusalem, that we built and rebuilt and rebuilt again is in our hands.  We are free to live in any part of it, including those parts which were once Jewish, but over time were overrun by Arabs.  We are free to excavate and explore our history there, uncovering archeological evidence which confirms our presence and sovereignty there dating back 3000 years.  We are free to visit its historical and holy sites, to restore them and provide access to them for tourists, pilgrims of all faiths, and residents alike.

Madmen talk of redividing the city, of awarding half of it (including the Old City, which never saw an Arab before the seventh century) to terrorist organizations committed to Israel’s destruction, in which to build the capital of their new Islamist state.  Such madmen, though, underestimate the bond between the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem.  They haven’t prayed for 2000 years for a return to Jerusalem.  They haven’t asked God every day to bless this city, or prayed for its rebuilding.  They don’t see it mentioned over 600 times in their holy books.  In short, because it isn’t theirs, they can talk of dividing it, Solomon-style, between the two peoples who claim it.  The difference, of course, between the Solomon story and contemporary Jerusalem is that the baby was in Solomon’s hands when he suggested cutting it in half.  With Jerusalem, it’s in our hands.  We are the rightful heirs to it, and we’re not about to let it go.

As God’s hand was clearly behind our liberation of Jerusalem and the rest of Israel (as beautifully documented in Jameel’s post for today), so may it continue to be as others try to take it from us.

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Daniel Gordis, author of Saving Israel (which I reviewed last year) and able spokesman for Israel (even if you don’t agree with everything he says) spoke to a recent delegation of J Street’s Leadership Mission to Israel.  Although he was encouraged by other advocates for Israel not to address them, he took the opportunity to make good on his principle of talking to people he doesn’t necessarily agree with, and to say to their faces exactly why he disagrees with them.  It was a smack-down of the highest order, and entirely worthy of Gordis and Israel’s cause.  (My, my.  Bibi and Danny kicking tushie for Israel in less than a week.  Be still, my beating heart.)  Here are a couple of highlights:

You believe that people who are not willing to make major territorial concessions to the Palestinians right now are not serious about a two-state solution. You think that those of us who claim that we favor a two-state solution but who are not willing to give up the store at this moment are bluffing. Or we’re liars. Or, at best, we’re well-intentioned but misguided. But bottom line, if we’re not willing now to make the concessions that you think are called for, then we’re not really pursuing peace.

But that is arrogance of the worst sort. Does your distance from the conflict give you some moral clarity that we don’t have? Are you smarter than we are? Are you less racist? Why do you assume with such certainty that you have a monopoly on the wisdom needed to get to the goal we both seek?

. . . . .

I still remember the first time I was struck by this tendency of yours to assail Israel when you’d been silent about what Israel’s enemies were doing. It was the first day of the Gaza war at the end of 2008. Sderot had been shelled intermittently for eight years, and relentlessly in the days prior to the beginning of the war. It was obvious that this couldn’t go on, for the first obligation of states to their citizens is to protect them.

For years, Israel had been failing the citizens of Sderot. But when Israel finally decided to do what any legitimate state would do, J Street immediately called for a cessation of hostilities. The war was only hours old, nothing had been accomplished and the citizens of Sderot were still no safer than they had been. But J Street had had enough.

Why? Why had you said almost nothing for all the years that Sderot was being shelled, but within hours of the war’s beginning were calling for it to end? What matters more to you – the safety of Israel’s citizens, or advancing your own moral agenda in our region of the world?

. . . . .

If the way that you’re framing the issues is no longer the way that Israelis and Palestinians are discussing them, is it possible that you are not even addressing the core issues that matter to the people actually in the conflict? Perhaps the time has come to ask yourselves what matters to you more: actually moving the policy needle, or assuaging your own discomfort with the undeniably painful complexities of this conflict. If what you want to do is affect policy, how effective would you say you’ve been thus far?

Read the rest for yourself.  You won’t be sorry.

(hat tip: Jeff W.)

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With Naqba Day coming up (when Palestinian Arabs commemorate the catastrophe of the founding of Israel), Im Tirtzu has published a pamphlet exposing the lies and distortions which make up the Arab “Palestinian” narrative.  Westbankmama provides a brief summary in English of the 70-page Hebrew pamphlet, outlining the main ideas of the document.  In short, they are these:

1) The Arabs attacked the Jews.

2) The Arabs fled.

3) Who is really a refugee?

4) What about the Jewish refugees?

5) The Arabs sided with the Nazis.

Two points that might prove of greatest interest to those unfamiliar with the facts behind the rhetoric are #3 and #4.  In defining refugees, “for every other refugee the world over, the status is just for a person with a long past in a region, and the status is for the person actually displaced. But for the Arabs displaced by the War in 1948, the status has been extended to those residing in a place for just two years, and the status was granted to his children and grandchildren.”  And while the actual number of Arabs displaced (under the universal, and not the revised definition of “refugee”) in 1948 was 560,000, there were 900,000 Jews expelled or forced to flee Arab countries in the decade or so following the foundation of the State of Israel.  In other words, as Westbankmama writes, “for every Arab refugee there are 1.5 Jewish refugees. All of the Jewish refugees were absorbed, mostly by Israel.”

For those who read Hebrew, the pamphlet can be found here.  I also echo Westbankmama’s sentiments that this pamphlet should be translated into Arabic and Farsi and disseminated on the Web.

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The Cap’n and I attended Peach’s second grade class’s ceremony marking Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror) and Yom HaAtzma’ut (Independence Day) this morning.  To see the little girls reading Psalms, enacting a soldier’s leaving home and family and returning safe and sound (baruch Hashem), remembering each of the five members of the Fogel family who were murdered in Itamar, parading in costumes from dozens of countries from which Jews made aliyah in the last 63 years, and doing a dance with Israeli flags ending up in formation of the number “63” was a sight we did not even imagine when we made aliyah nearly five years ago.  Seeing Peach among other Israeli kids, seeing how Israel  is not an abstraction for her but her home, hearing her fluent Hebrew, seeing how she understands the Jewish people’s connection to this land, our history here, the Torah, and the injustice of those who would kill or expel us from here, is so much more than we ever bargained for.

I began to tell the kids at dinner last night, after we had stood for the 8:00 PM air raid siren ushering in Yom HaZikaron, the difference between the day here and Memorial Day in the US, but I just couldn’t.  When kids and their families here commemorate fallen soldiers and victims of terror, it’s Avraham David Moses, an Efrat teen who was murdered in the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva massacre a couple of years ago; Shmuel Gillis, the Efrat oncologist who was shot on the road (inside the Green Line) on his way to work at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital; Yosef Goodman, the son of the owners of our local pizza shop, whose parachute got tangled with his officer’s, and who cut the strings of his own chute to save his officer’s life, falling to his own death; and Daniel Mandel, whose mother works at the same company as the Cap’n, who was killed in the line of duty when searching for wanted terrorists in Nablus in 2003.  Soldiers are not boys from Kentucky and Nebraska who volunteer for an army career, but whom we’ll never see.  Soldiers are Tzvi, Honi, Natan and Doron, Re’ut and Miriam, the boys and girls who live on our street.  White sales, parades, and government commemorations on national television are far more removed (for better and for worse) than what our children experience now.

Living in Gush Etzion is an amazing experience.  We are near where King David was born, and possibly where he herded sheep in his boyhood.  We are near the path that Avraham likely followed when traveling to Jerusalem with his son Yitzhak in the akeida (binding) story.  We are across the road from one of the battlegrounds of the Chanukah story, where the Jews fought Assyrian Greeks riding war elephants, and where Elazar, brother of Yehudah Maccabbee, was killed.  And Gush Etzion was the scene of fighting in May 1948, when the Jordanians overran the land Jews had purchased and farmed for years, and massacred the remaining fighters.  Visitors to Kfar Etzion, a kibbutz which has a field school and a heritage center, can learn more about the foundation of the kibbutzim here and their destruction in the War of Independence in a video presentation which takes place right over the bunker which sheltered Gush Etzion’s last fighters.  The following video tells a similar story:

May the memories of the fallen be blessed, and may we live to see the end of the need for such sacrifice.

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One of the highlights of having relations visiting us in Israel is having the excuse to go out and be tourists.  We live here, we know how blessed we are to live so close to so many amazing historical and archeological sites, yet as it does for most people, life usually gets in the way.

When my parents were here for a couple of weeks, I emailed work to say I was unavailable, and took my parents to the Sorek Caves, the Herodion, the Israel Museum, Mahanei Yehuda (the Jerusalem outdoor market) and the City of David.

The City of David had a particularly glaring moment in the sun a few months ago, when Lesley Stahl brought her  “60 Minutes” crew to do a spot on it for the show.  My blog post of that event highlights some of the more absurd things she said, being much more interested in the sensational political angle (real or imagined) of the site than what it had uncovered.  So after lots of hoopla, none of it substantial (except in the minds of those making it), I was glad at last to tour the site.

Back in 1997, when the Cap’n and I were in our salad days, we used to get shopped and cooked for Shabbat by Thursday night so we could go out Friday morning and see something new.  One Friday morning, we took a walking tour with Ziontours in the Old City of Mount Zion and Silwan, which took us as far as the stairs leading down to the gate which opens to Hezekiah’s Tunnel, a man-made tunnel dug to allow water to flow to the ancient, First Temple-era city of Jerusalem to enable it to hold out against siege.  Our guide at that time told us that it was believed that King David’s palace lay in ruins under the hill we passed on our right when descending to the gate, but that excavation had barely begun at the time.

Fast forward 14 years, and it’s a major archeological park with excavated ruins of what is believed to be either the Palace of Zion (the Jebusite palace where David probably initially took up residence while building his own palace farther up the hill) or David’s palace itself; a structurally intact private home located near the palace owned by one Achiel which represents the design of hillside homes of the day; seals which belonged to officials in the court of David who are mentioned in the Bible; excavated tunnels used first by Jebusites and later expanded by Israelites as part of their water collection and retrieval system; part of the Siloam Pool which was used as a communal mikvah; and part of an excavated road which is believed to lead from the Siloam Pool up to the Temple Mount.  The excavation site is across the Kidron Valley from an area that is currently crowded with Arab homes, but at one time was a Jewish burial ground (being part of the Mount of Olives, which is still the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world), and at one time housed Yemenite Jews who were driven out during the Arab riots of the 1930s.  (Check out the City of David’s website here.)  A 3-D film precedes the guided walking tour through the site, signage is fair (though one gets much more from the experience with a human tour guide), and on a sunny day, the lovely landscaping of the site is breathtaking.  Pottery shards date the site to well within David’s time, and among the odds and ends of implements uncovered in the dig was a lice comb.  (Some things never change.)

In other words, what Lesley Stahl and her crew missed by focusing on politics is the most intensively excavated archeological site in Israel (and perhaps the world), as well as the most important archeological find in Israeli history.  What has been uncovered there confirms that much of what is recorded in the Bible is based on historical fact (with new things being uncovered as the dig progresses), and that Jews have had a continuous presence in Jerusalem for over 3000 years, including sovereignty over it predating that of any other claimants.  These findings are accepted by all major, mainstream archeologists and undercut efforts by Arabs to dismiss claims of Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem, so perhaps it’s no wonder that Lesley Stahl glossed over them in favor of listening to whinging Arabs instead.  (She also glossed over the fact that she and her camera crew were attacked by Arabs the minute they stepped out of their cars to film at the site and had to call City of David security to assist them.)  The fact that neighborhood leaders of both Jewish and Arab residents have complained in recent months about the rabble-rousers from outside the neighborhood entering it to cause problems and try to make it into a flashpoint is testament to the fact that the City of David is a barely-noticed example of peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem.  Had she wanted to, Stahl could have made her piece about the fact that Jews and Arabs live together in harmony near this remarkable archeological site.  She could even have focused on the site itself, and what it has uncovered.  Instead, she chose to air, alongside her interviews with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, the site’s excavation head, and an angry Arab, the Pallywood video that hit YouTube a few months ago of a Jewish man and his son being stoned in their car in a meticulously choreographed and filmed incident which was intended to show how ruthless and evil Jews are when beset by innocent Arab children frustrated by the Occupation.  Her choice of angle, in other words, abandoned intellectual curiosity, science, history, human ingenuity, the thrill of discovery, and journalistic integrity, in favor of joining the ranks of the angry rabble.

But no amount of fact-fudging or petty politicking could change the fact that as I walked through both the wondrous ruins and the small, but stunningly beautiful street of Jewish homes and lovingly tended gardens, much of the sadness, anger, and angst I had been feeling for the previous few weeks melted away, and I was able for a morning to reconnect with our indisputably ancient Jewish roots in this land.  Regardless of what Lesley Stahl, the Western press, envious Arabs, or international “peace activists” may say, we have been here for countless generations, and will be here for countless more.

Ruins of private dwellings, City of David

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A letter from a reader

I recently received the following in my email inbox.

My dear Shimshonit,

While monitoring the activities of my employer’s forces as reflected in news outlets, blogs, and YouTube (such a delightful source of devilry!), I recently came across your blog.

You caught my attention for your spirited defense of history, truth, and fact, especially in relation to Israel.  Really, dear lady, I should have thought someone with your educational background and relative sanity would have more sense.  After all these years, do you still not recognize the futility of such an exercise?

Since I know you yourself have admitted that news agencies are not about news, but about advertising, readership, and ratings, it amazes me that you still think it worthwhile to get frothy about what they print and say.  Do you think for a moment that you—a Jew, an Israeli, a settler even—could possibly alter the ossified mindset of those who oppose you in the court of public opinion?  Do you not know that my employer’s most dedicated servants, in the guise of the “humanistic,” blindly underdog-loving Left, are far more numerous, influential, and powerful than you?  Can you not accept that facts and history have no bearing on the rest of the world, which is too busy concocting slanderous accusations at Israel to see the slaughter that takes place at dozens of other flashpoints on the globe, too set in its ways to listen to others’ opinions, and too lazy to open a book whose recorded facts might challenge its assumptions about the Middle East?

No, Shimshonit, it is time you learned some home truths about this ridiculous planet you live on.  First, you are not popular now, and never will be.  You are a Jew (and a Jew by choice, which I for one will never understand).  And Jews, if you haven’t realized this by now, are crafty, devious, deceptive, and not to be trusted.  This is why, no matter what you say about how you live and see the world, you will never be believed.  You say Arabs have benefited from Israeli rule of Judea and Samaria through jobs and an improved quality of life, and that many would rather live under Israel’s orderly government than a corrupt, chaotic Arab one with no system of universal justice?  You point out that the Palestinian Arab refugee problem was never solved by Israel’s Arab neighbors, who were the ones who created the refugee problem in the first place?  You point to the agreement signed at the 1920 San Remo Conference as evidence that the Arab Palestinian homeland is located in modern-day Jordan, and not in Judea and Samaria?  You point out that Israel’s national claim to Judea and Samaria goes back thousands of years, as opposed the Arab nationalist claims which never existed?  You insist that Jewish holy sites be considered Jewish despite rival Muslim claims, many dating from as recently as 1996?  But my dear, as a Jew you are partial (and your religion is, as always, sadly out of fashion), as an Israeli you are a member of that rogue nation, and as a settler you will always be an extremist, prone to violence and racism.

The religions that oppose you are Islam, Christianity, and secular humanism.  Each has adherents as zealous as the most zealous settler, but their creeds are not your creed.  Their mottoes include slogans such as, “If you can’t convert the Jew, kill him,” “Love your neighbor and hate the Jews,” and “Zionism is racism.”  Anti-Semitism (cleverly disguised as anti-Israel sentiment) inhabits every fiber of their being.  So complain all you like about Israel’s harsh treatment in the press, in the UN, and even in the United States, but don’t claim to be surprised by it.  And whatever you do, don’t think of accusing them of anti-Semitism.  That’s just the sort of thing you Jews accuse anyone of who points out your flaws.

Allow me to give you some friendly advice from someone who takes a genuine interest in your welfare (at least as it concerns your relationship with my employer and his minions).  Give up your blog.  It’s fruitless my dear, and very bad for your blood pressure.  And the next time you sit and wonder if this is all a bad dream, if you’ve been wrong all along and Israel really is the demonic state everyone says it is, embrace that feeling.  And above all, remember what former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said: “Can the whole world be wrong?

Your affectionate reader,

Screwtape

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Jewish American radio host Dennis Prager has a video in his series “Prager University” which seeks to describe “The Middle East Problem” in brief.  Here it is, the Middle East conflict, in six minutes:

Prager aptly describes it as an easy problem to describe, but a difficult problem to solve.  One side wants to exist in peace; the other side wants to destroy it.  The rest is commentary.  Now come to Israel and see for yourselves.

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