Sunday, April 30, 2006

The End of the Jewish State?

In attempting to justify his "Convergence Plan" (which calls for the expulsion of close to 100,000 Jews from their homes in the Land of Israel), the leader of the Kadima party and Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, argues that this plan is needed to secure the future of the State of Israel as a Jewish State. He expressed this most recently in remarks this past week that he made to the participants of the International Bible Contest for Jewish Youth that will be held on Israel's 58th Independence Day:

...Sometimes reality is complicated and another people lives in parts of our Land. Therefore, we must decide whether to lose Israel's identity as a Jewish state or to give up part of the territory so that Israel will remain a Jewish state. The decisive majority of the people prefer to maintain the Jewish identity of the State of Israel and in order to preserve its Jewish character we must compromise over territories...

How strange is it then to discover that in the coalition guidelines formulated by the Kadima party, which contain the guiding principles that will unite all members of the future government of the State of Israel, the State of Israel is no longer referred to as a Jewish State!

Shas balks at language calling for settlement evacuations

Shas had hoped to finalize details on Thursday before signing a coalition agreement with Kadima... But Shas was reportedly surprised on Friday to receive from Kadima a draft including the statement: "The government shall work to shape the permanent borders of the state as a democratic state with a Jewish majority [...] Israel's territories, whose border will be determined by the government, will require reducing Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria."

It seems that if the incoming Kadima government, led by Ehud Olmert, has its way, the State of Israel will no longer be a Jewish State, rather, it will simply be a "democratic state with a Jewish majority".

Ehud Olmert’s desire to minimize the Jewish character of the State of Israel should come as no surprise - as I highlighted in a post 3 and a half months ago - that less then two weeks into his tenure as acting Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert had already fired the opening shots in his war against the Jewish State.

The implication of such efforts are profound. The Jewish People did not hope, dream, yearn, pray, fight and die over the 2,000 year long Exile in order to return to the Land of Israel merely to be "the only democracy in the Middle East". In spite of how uncomfortable the idea of a Jewish State might make the powers that be in the State of Israel, the foundation of the right of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel is based on the Torah (both Written and Oral), and it is from there that the collective mission and destiny of the Jewish People are set forth. Any effort to undermine Israel as a Jewish State would be to undermine the very right of the Jewish People to a state in the Land of Israel altogether.

We must, as a nation, ask ourselves, "who we are?" and "why we are?". 1st, are we Jews or are we Israelis? 2nd, Should the State of Israel be a Jewish State - that places the mission and interests of the Jewish People above all else, or a state like all others - based on foreign values and culture?

As I mentioned in a recent post, we have before us two destinies and two peoples, only one of which that has a future in this land.

Difficult questions. Difficult answers. Difficult times.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Israel is not the Holocaust

What is the purpose of there existing a Jewish State in the Land of Israel?

In the eyes of many, the answer to the question is that the establishment of the State of Israel was the answer to the Holocaust.

In the State of Israel, the Jewish People would no longer be homeless; no longer be defenseless; they would become masters of their own fate. Every Jew in the world would know that in the State of Israel they had a refuge where they could always run to should the need ever arise.

That, in a nutshell, is the essence and purpose of the State of Israel according to Holocaust survivor and former head of the now defunct, anti-religious Shinui party, Yosef (Tommy) Lapid.

Dear European ambassadors...

...So when you have difficulty understanding us, think about the Holocaust. When you find yourselves searching for our motives, remember the Holocaust. When you try to understand the steps we take, consider the Holocaust...

No tragedy has left such a mark on our consciousness. There is no motivation for our actions behind which you will not find the Holocaust.

With all due respect to Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, who as a survivor, is certainly privileged to speak freely about what the Holocaust means to him, I, as a Jew who chose to move to the Jewish State of Israel, strongly disagree with his remarks.

If our sole justification for establishing a Jewish State in the Land of Israel is the Holocaust, then Iranian President Ahmadinejad is right, when he states:

“60 years have passed since the end of World War II. Why do the Germans and Palestinians need to pay for a war that the present generation was not involved in?... The nations of the West must grant them back their original citizenships. You are the ones that created this problem by bringing Jews to Palestine, and therefore you need to solve it.”

The notion of a Jewish State - the need for the creation of a Homeland for the Jewish People that would solve the "Jewish Question" once and for all - was not introduced by Theodor Herzl, who recognized (as early as 1894) the inability of the Jewish People to find lasting peace in any country that they tried to call home, and it was not a response to the Holocaust.

For nearly 1900 years before the Holocaust, the Jewish People, from the four corners of the earth would turn towards Jerusalem three times a day and ask the G-d of Israel to return them to their ancient and eternal Homeland, where they could live proudly and freely as Jews.

For nearly 1900 years before the Holocaust, at the end of every Peasach Seder, the Jewish People would utter the words, "Next year in Jerusalem"!

The idea of the Jewish State began thousands of years ago, when G-d first spoke to Abraham:

God said to Abram: "Go from your land ... to the land that I will show you." (Genesis 12:1)

This was followed by the establishment of an eternal covenant between the G-d of Israel and Abraham and his future descendants, setting aside the Land of Israel as the Homeland of the Jewish People.

On that day, God made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river the Euphrates. The land of the Kenites, Kenizites, Kadmonites; the Chitties, Perizites, Refaim; the Emorites, Canaanites, Gigashites and Yevusites." (Genesis 15:18-21)

"And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your temporary residence, all the land of Canaan as an eternal possession and I will be a God to them." (Genesis 17:8)

The mission of the Jewish People - a mission that can only be accomplished in the Land of Israel - is laid out in the daily prayer Aleinu, composed by Yehoshua Ben Nun, as he led the Jewish People in their conquest of the Land of Israel:

It is our obligation to praise the Master of all, and to ascribe greatness to the Creator of the beginning, for He has not made us like the nations of the lands, and He has not positioned us like the families of the earth, for He has not assigned our portion like theirs, nor our lot like their populations. For they bow to nonsense and emptiness, and they pray to a god who cannot deliver. But we bow, prostrate ourselves and give thanks to the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, Blessed is He...

We therefore put our hope in You, Hashem our God, to soon behold the glory of your might in banishing idolatry from the earth and the false gods will be utterly exterminated to perfect the world under the Kingdom of Hashem. And all mankind will invoke Your Name... As it says, "And Hashem will be King over the whole earth, and on that day Hashem will be one, and His Name One".

That (in a nutshell) is the mission of the Jewish People and the purpose of there being a Jewish State - to serve as a "Light unto the nations" (Isaiah 42:6), and to perfect the world under the Kingdom of Hashem. It is this Divine mission for which the Jewish People were Chosen by G-d to carry out that should be the motivation behind every action of the Jewish People and State, and not the Holocaust.

Before we have any hope of the nations of the world "understanding" us, we must first learn to understand ourselves.

When is it OK to be a "settler"?

Generally speaking, the media, both in Israel and abroad, are rather clear in their attitude towards Jews living (or buying / building homes) anywhere in Judea, Samaria or eastern Jerusalem.

As an example, consider the following Ha'aretz headline:

Settler group takes over two compounds in E. Jerusalem

(West Bank Mama does a great job highlighting the extreme media bias found in this headline - and article - in her post: Since When is Buying an Apartment Building "Taking Over a Compound"?)

That being the case, when is it ok, in the eyes of the media, for a Jew to move into an apartment in eastern Jerusalem?

When you're Mordechai Vanunuu - the man who betrayed the Jewish People and State by releasing highly classified information relating to Israel's nuclear program, as is apparent from the following headline:

Vanunu to move into east Jerusalem apartment

Could it be that there is a double standard at play here?

For instance, if you are a proud Jew who seeks to strengthen the Jewish State and its hold on the Land of Israel by legally purchasing an apartment in eastern Jerusalem, then you are a settler who is taking over a compound. However, if you happen to be a Jew (who has since converted to Christianity), who is an enemy to both the Jewish State and People, then, in the eyes of the media, you are just a regular guy moving into an apartment that coincidentally happens to be located in eastern Jerusalem.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Perverting the Message of the Holocaust

Today the State of Israel commemorated Yom HaSho'ah - Holocaust Memorial Day.

One of slogans most frequently associated with the Shoah is Never Again.

Never Again... will the Jewish People place their fate (and faith) in the nations of the world.

Never Again... will the Jewish People question the importance of living as sovereign in their Homeland.

Never Again... will Jews sit passively while their brothers and sisters are being persecuted.

Never Again... will Jews believe that they can solve the "Jewish Question" through assimilation and fleeing from their Jewish Heritage and destiny.

Sadly, not all Jews have internalized these messages.

Pain as common denominator

Group of Israeli students – Jewish, Muslim and Christian – visit Polish death camps as part of course on Holocaust, Nakba, and learning to understand each other’s stories.

Thirty students – 15 Jewish and 15 Arab – from the Yizrael Valley Academic College took part in the trip as part of the course “Holocaust and Existence: Humanistic and Multicultural views of the Holocaust.” The course, like the trip itself, is unusual in its characteristics.

During the first semester, students study the Holocaust, and after returning from the death camps they learn about the Nakba, which signifies for Israeli Arabs the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 during Israel's war of independence...

The students tell that after the trip and the ties created among the group, their will for dialogue with the other side, to know the Palestinian perspective, and learn the other side’s pain, was sharpened.

Under the guise of promoting tolerance and co-existence, the memory of the Holocaust and the six million Jews who were slaughtered, along with the foundations of the Jewish State are being destroyed.

Consider the following points:

* In this course, the Holocaust, where six million Jews were slaughtered, is compared with Nakba ("The Catastrophe"), a day of mourning for the Arabs of Israel over the supposed "expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948." (and on which today sits the Jewish State of Israel.

According to the narrative of the Nakba, the Jewish People who settled the Land of Israel and helped to establish the Jewish State are akin to the Nazis, while the Arabs of Israel take on the role of the weak, oppressed and homeless Jews.

* The Arabs of Israel, in their commemoration of the Nakba on the anniversary of the day that the Jewish State of Israel was established, are in fact lamenting the very existence of the Jewish State of Israel.

I imagine that there are a number of key facts that are being left out of this course:

1st, the active involvement of the Arabs (in particular, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini) who worked together with Hitler to bring the destruction of the Holocaust to the Land of Israel.

2nd, the only reason that the Arabs of Israel have a Nakba to commemorate is because they (and 7 Arab countries) failed in their efforts to wipe the newly re-established Jewish State of Israel off the map by attacking the Jewish State the very moment it was established.

Had the neighboring Arab countries not insisted upon the Arabs of Israel leaving their homes before the war in order to make the destruction of the Jewish State easier, they would not have become refugees. As such, the vast majority of Arab refugees only have their Arab brothers to blame.

3rd, had the Arabs of Israel been accepted the United Nations Partition Plan in 1947, they would have had a state of their own. Instead, as has been the case time and time again, the Arabs rejected the Partition Plan because it would have meant that they would have had to accede to the re-establishment a Jewish State in the Land of Israel - something which to this day, they are not prepared to accept.

But, then again, why should we let facts, history and six million murdered Jews stand in the way of "peace"?

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Tale of Two Cities - Israel Edition

Charles Dickens' classic literary work, "A Tale of Two Cities", opens with the following lines:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way...

While the context of Dickens' novel is built upon the French Revolution, I believe these words to be very relevant to the current struggle over the character of the State of Israel - whether it will exist as a Jewish State or as a state and nation like all others.

Consider the following two examples from stories taken from the Israeli media:

Unlimited pride in Tel Aviv

The first Hebrew city wants to be the first gay city. Work is underway in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism to turn Tel Aviv into the international tourist destination for the gay-lesbian community in order to boost business in restaurants, hotels, city attraction sites and beaches...

As part of the fight for pink tourism, a new Israeli-international Web site promoting gay tourism will be launched. Gay Map includes sites in Tel Aviv specialized in gay tourism...

Entrepreneurs in the northern city of Kiryat Shemoneh are making plans to build a "Holy Temple" as part of a soon-to-be established Bible World amusement park.

Like the original in Jerusalem, the model structure will tower over its surroundings, reaching a height of 25 meters (82 feet) and will be an exact replica of Solomon's temple on Jerusalem's Temple Mount, destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.

"Time tunnels" will offer descriptions of the different periods of Jewish history, and will lead visitors to the main hall, which will feature murals depicting Biblical stories.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to "meet" three heroes of the Bible: Abraham, Moses and King David...

A tale of two cities...

One city representing the very best that the Jewish People and State have to offer; the other city, the very worst.

One city representing the steadfast belief of the Jewish People in their Heritage and Faith; the other city, steeped in incredulity, rejecting all that is sacred and holy.

One city representing the 'spring of hope' for the Jewish People in their mission to create a Jewish State in the Land of Israel; the other city, the 'winter of despair', a rejection of the choseness of the Jewish People and Land of Israel.

A tale of two cities - Tel Aviv and Kiryat Shemoneh (along with the Holy Temple in Jerusalem)...

A tale of two peoples - Israelis and Jews...

A tale of two destinies - To be a nation / state like all others or to live as a chosen / holy nation in a truly Jewish State in the Land of Israel...

A tale of two cities, a tale of two peoples, a tale of two destinies...

A tale with only one ending, and where only one has a future...

The choice is ours.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Jews out; Arabs in

Sorry for the blogging hiatus. Over the last ten days, I have been in Zichron Ya'akov, Haifa, Be'er Sheva and Beit Shemesh. Now that I am home, with Peasach and the elections behind us, I hope to get back into the swing of things.


Officially, the motivation behind Ariel Sharon's expulsion of over ten thousand Jews from their homes and the destruction of entire Jewish communities within the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria is the same one driving Ehud Olmert's planned expulsion of nearly one hundred thousand Jews and the destruction of dozens of Jewish communities throughout the Land of Israel.

One would think, Israel being a Jewish State, that the expulsion of Jews from their homes would be a red line not ever to be crossed (or even contemplated), and that every possible effort would be made to find a different solution to overcome the demographic threat.

Yet, we find, that there are those in the government of the State of Israel, the Supreme Court and Israel's media who view things quite differently, and who view the expulsion of Jews, not only as a viable and acceptable option, but as the ideal option.

Mazuz orders probe into Herut's Kleiner for incitement to racism
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ordered a criminal investigation Monday into former MK Michael Kleiner and his Herut party for suspected incitement to racism due to motifs in their campaign posters for the recent elections.

The party put up advertisements on the sides of public buses depicting an Arab woman wrapped in a traditional veil with a caption that read, "this demographic (threat) will poison us."

An anti-racist organization filed a complaint with Justice Dorit Beinish, chairman of the Central Elections Committee, who relayed the complaint to Mazuz.

According to Mazuz, the picture and caption are "clearly directed against the Israeli Arab population, thus raising a real concern that a crime of incitement to racism has been committed."
It is no secret that the demographic threat that the Jewish State of Israel is faced with is not one that can be solved by simply "disengaging" from Judea and Samaria, nor by "converging" the Jewish State into the pre-1967 borders. The true demographic threat against the Jewish State of Israel, as can be seen from the State of Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, is in fact the over 1 million Arabs who posses Israeli citizenship.

It seems that in the eyes of "the powers that be" in the State of Israel, any solution to the demographic threat facing the Jewish State that would involve taking steps in the direction of encouraging Arabs with Israeli citizenship to emigrate is racist and therefore illegal, thus leaving as the only acceptable (and legal) solution, in the eyes of the "powers that be", the expulsion of Jews from their homes and the destruction of entire Jewish communities in the Land of Israel.

For 2,000 years - during the long, bitter night of the Exile - the Jewish People hope, yearned, dreamed and prayed to return to their ancient and eternal Homeland; the one true place in the world where they could live freely and proudly as Jews; the only place in the world where the Jewish People, as a nation, could fulfill their mission in this world.

Since (and immediately prior to) the re-establishment of the State of Israel, the Jews made the desert bloom, ingathered Exiles from the four corners of the Earth, established a military force whose accomplishments are unrivaled by any nation in the world, and have restored the Land of Israel as the center for world Jewry and Torah study - all consistent with the vision of our Prophets.

The one major hurdle that remains for the Jewish People in the Land of Israel to overcome is the appointment of leaders and judges who share the eternal dream of the Jewish People – the establishment of a truly Jewish State in the Land of Israel; a state that, under proper leadership and guidance, will serve as a "Light unto the Nations" and sanctify the name of G-d throughout the world.

Current government officials (whether elected or appointed) need not apply.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Only on E-Bay - Part 2

(Click here for Part 1)

Where there's a Halachic will, there's a technological way...

The following item was recently sold on ebay:


Buy my genuine chametz for a week. You will be getting my chametz for a week – it is sold as is – some of it is brand new but most of it is in crumbs and has been lying around on the floor for up to a year. I need to sell it for Pesach.

This is a lease only - I will not actually send any chametz to you - if you insist I can send a sample box of selected chametz – shipping in the US only 15.00$ flat rate.

Believe it or not, the chametz was sold for $255. Yet, based on the types of questions that bidders (and potential bidders) were asking, - there were 35 bids in total - I would be surprised if any of the bids were made by non-Jews (which would be required for the sale to be valid).


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Hit them where it hurts!

For over 4 years, on an almost daily basis, "Palestinians" from Gaza have been raining Qassam rockets into the Jewish State.

Up until very, very recently, the response of the State of Israel and the IDF to the daily barrage of rockets, despite all the tough talk, has been to:

1) Shell open / empty fields
2) Fortify the roofs and structures in the threatened areas
3) Create an early warning system that warns when rockets are incoming

Quite unsurprisingly, over the course of these four years, a period of time where the residents of the Jewish communities of Sderot and Gush Katif (among many others) had to live under constant threat and fear, not once did we hear of the "Palestinian People" urging the "powers that be" to stop the rocket fire against the Jewish State. One could only assume from this silence, that the average "Palestinian" had no problem with such actions (as could be understood from Hamas' landslide victory in the recent "Palestinian" elections).

All of that changed recently, when the IDF finally began responding to the Qassam rocket attacks by shelling the areas from where they were fired, which happened to be, unsurprisingly enough, very close to "Palestinian" populated areas. Also unsurprising was the fact that all of the sudden, the "Palestinians" who had no problem with the daily rocket attacks into the Jewish State over the last 4 years now are urging the "powers that be" to stop the Qassam rocket fire.

Gazans urge PA to stop Kassams

In the wake of Israel's escalated response, Palestinians living in the northern Gaza Strip have appealed to the new Palestinian Authority government to take immediate action to prevent gunmen from firing Kassam rockets from their neighborhoods at Israel, a senior Hamas official said Tuesday.

Absolutely amazing.

The very 1st moment that the IDF takes steps that truly hold the "Palestinians" accountable for actions taken from areas under their control - or else - the "Palestinian" street makes it clear that they want no part of a confrontation with the IDF, and that the rocket fire must stop.

Let's hope that the leaders of the State of Israel and the IDF are paying attention, and that this "fresh" approach to dealing with Qassam rocket attacks becomes the official policy that will be used in response to all attacks against the Jewish State - and not one that becomes an exception rather than the rule.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Some Quick Peasach Thoughts

1) For the second year in a row, there will be 4 generations of my family sitting at the Peasach Seder - in the Land of Israel - 3 of the generations having made Aliyah within the last 4 years, and the last generation, my almost 2-year old daughter having been born in the ancient and eternal capital of the Jewish People - Jerusalem.

If that isn't a fulfillment of the vision of the Prophets coming to life, of the Jewish People returning to Home to the Land of Israel - I don't know what is.

Now, if only we had the ability to bring the Korban Peasach (Paschal Lamb offering) along with being oleh regel (making the pilgrimage to the Holy Temple on the Passover festival) everything would be perfect.

I guess when we end our Seder with "Next Year in Jerusalem!!!", we still have what to hope, work and pray for.

On the other hand, we still have a little bit of time left until Peasach, maybe...

2) This past week I was privileged to bake she'murah matzah for Peasach - together with many of my friends who work for Arutz-7 - something I had never done before.

For pictures, click here - and no, I am not in any of the pictures (although I think my hands might be).

What made the experience particularly special was that not only was I baking she'murah matzot to be used at my very own Peasach for the very 1st time in my life, but I was doing it in the holy city of Beit El (a place frequented by our Forefathers) with many of my friends who themselves had made Aliyah (following in the footsteps of our Forefather, Avraham), with wheat (one of the 7 species special to the Land of Israel), grown by Jews living in the Land of Israel for Jews living in the Land of Israel.

In spite of the many challenges currently facing the Jewish People in the Land of Israel, we are still blessed with the ability to live as proud Jews in the Land of Israel, coming together on a cool Spring night to bake Matzot as our ancestors did 3,318 years ago as they quickly left behind 210 years of Egyptian bondage, only this time, we did so from the comfort of our own Home - in the Land of Israel -as Jews who can hold their heads high having returned Home from a 2,000 year Exile...

And, as Jews who will sit at their Passover Seder this year as truly free and proud Jews - a freedom that only comes to the Jew who is sovriegn over his Homeland - the Land of Israel.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hey, EU, Lease This - #*&%@!!!

The European Union (EU), made up of the very countries that introduced the term anti-Semitism to the world (as well as its many forms and modern day practices), has proposed a new twist that it believes will help in bringing about a "just" solution to the Arab / Muslim ("Palestinian") war against the Jewish State:

If Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert consults the international community before implementing his "convergence" plan, one suggestion he is likely to hear is that Israel should lease the settlement blocs from the Palestinian Authority rather than annex them outright, a senior European diplomat said Monday...

This concept, the diplomat said, was relatively simple and could be applied to an area like Ma'aleh Adumim. Israel would recognize the area as PA territory and lease the land from the PA, he said. "Israel would admit the land is the Palestinians, and the Palestinians would admit the homes there are Israel's," he said.

Not only is this proposal terribly degrading towards the Jewish State and the rights of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel, but it is historically inaccurate.

* What exactly makes the land that Ma'aleh Adumim sits upon "Palestinian"?

* Was Ma'aleh Adumim or any other place in Israel ever part of an Arab country named Palestine?

* From 1948 - 1967, while Judea, Samaria & eastern Jerusalem were illegally occupied by Jordan, was a "Palestinian State" established?

The answer to all of these questions, of course, is a resounding no.

* According to international law, all land West of the Jordan River can legally be considered as part of the Jewish State of Israel, and should in no way be considered "occupied territory". (For further background: 1, 2, 3 & 4).

It would be unfair, however, to lay all of the blame for this "leasing" proposal at the feet of the EU. In a sense, the leaders of the Jewish State are even more to blame.

Why, you ask?

Even though both historical truth, along with international law, prove beyond a doubt the rights of the Jewish people to a Jewish State throughout the Land of Israel (particularly west of the Jordan River), our leaders remain silent and allow the "occupied territory" canard to grow louder and stronger with every passing day. After all, the nations of the world say, "if the land (Judea & Samaria) really belonged to the Jewish People and State, they would have annexed it following their victory in the Six-Day War".

Instead, our leaders play word games, insisting that areas such as Hebron, Beit El, and Shiloh - of which there can be no questioning the absolute right of the Jewish People to - are neither "occupied" nor "liberated", but "disputed" territory. It is this hesitation to assert our rightful claim to what is historically and legally (and divinely, of course) ours that encourages such insulting proposals from the EU; deadly "peace plans", such as the Oslo Accords; and lastly, emboldens our enemies in their belief that it is only a matter of time before we totally succumb under their relentless attacks.

Moshe Ya'alon, Israel's former Chief of Staff, expressed the consequences of this tragedy best in a recent article by Caroline Glick:

Ya’alon explained what he considers to be the key to Israel’s security.

Israel, he said, has the military capability to defeat its enemies. But for Israel to be able to take the steps it needs to take to win the war being waged for our destruction, Ya’alon explained, first we need to accept the fact that we have an intrinsic, unconditional right to our land and our sovereignty.

Once we understand that our rights are unconditional, we will understand that we have an obligation to wage war against those who work for our destruction. That is, Ya’alon explained, that for Israel to survive, we need to return to our unconditional Zionism.

Compare that with these remarks made less than a year ago by Israel's current Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert (which I posted about here):

We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want that we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies. We want them to be our friends, our partners, our good neighbors, and I believe that this is not impossible.

Two leaders, two paths, and only one that provides any hope for the future of the Jewish People and State.

Let's hope that we have the courage to make the right choice.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Israel Perspectives: Quick Takes - I Have a Dream

So much to write about, so little time.

Let's begin.

1) PA Foreign Minister: ‘No Place’ for Israel on Middle East Map

"I dream of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Gaza home which does not show Israel on it...I hope to have our independent state on all historic Palestine (including Israel)," he said.

And I dream of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Ma'aleh Adumim home which does not have Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, Gaza and Jerusalem cut out of the borders of the Jewish State of Israel.

I also dream of the day when the Jewish State will be led by Jews who will be proud enough to make such declarations and who will work to bring about their realization.

2) Aid organizations in Gaza paralyzed fearing ties with Hamas-led government

Israel will keep the Karni crossing closed on Tuesday, despite the warnings of United Nations aid organizations that the Gaza Strip is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster due to a lack of money and food.

I will re-ask my initial question when I first posted on this issue:

Why is this Israel's problem?

Let the "Palestinians" get all the aid they need from Egypt via the Rafah crossing. The "Palestinians" elected their own government - let them deal with this issue.

3) Forbes Reinforces Claim That Kadima Tool of Oligarchs

Forbes Israel reported Sunday that twelve business groups control Israel's economy - making it among the most concentrated on the globe. The report echoes warnings by journalist Ari Shavit... The report explains that the groups have an inordinate amount of control over Israel's economy, political leaders and media.

Could it be that it really isn't the fault of the Jews of Judea, Samaria (and formerly Aza) for the economic ills that are plaguing Israeli society?

Guess what? You'll never hear that from the Israeli media because they're owned by the "18 Families".

4) Rabbinical Court allows Kohein to marry daughter of non-Jew

In an unusual decision which came on the heels of intervention by the Prime Minister's Office, the High Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem recently ruled that a member of the priestly Kohein caste may marry the daughter of a non-Jew...

The case began in the summer of 2004, when... the court rejected Cohen and Plotnikov on the basis that a member of the priestly Kohein caste, of which Cohen is said to be descended, cannot marry a woman whose father is not Jewish...

Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who is also president of the High Rabbinical Court, said that the court's decision was based not on PMO intervention, but on the opinion of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

I am no expert when it comes to matters of Jewish Law, particularly in this area, but what troubles me is that this is not the first instance where doubt has arisen as to what role political pressure plays on the decisions issued by Israel's Chief Rabbinate, an office beholden to the government.

If the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is to respected as a true authority on matters of Jewish Law and practice, then it must become an independent body, removed from political influence and considerations.

5) Almost cigar - Qassam almost hit cache of inflammable materials, could have caused disaster

Five Qassam rockets were fired Tuesday from the northern Gaza Strip at southern Ashkelon... One of the rockets that landed in the area of Zikim fell near an army base. The rocket that landed in the Ashkelon industrial zone could have caused heavy damages, according to employees at the place.

"A great disaster was prevented today," a source at the industrial area stated. "The rocket landed near a stockpile of highly inflammable materials. One flare could have caused grave damages to the entire vicinity," he added...

When, not if, a Qassam rocket successfully strikes one of these strategic installations and causes a major disaster, both in terms of casualties as well as in other areas, the responsibility will lay solely at the feet of willfully negligent government of Israel who for 4 years has done absolutely nothing to stop the daily rocket fire into the Jewish State.

Any blood spilled will be on their already stained hands.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Shattering the Post-Election Myths

It's time for Myths and Facts: Post-Israeli Elections edition.

Today's myths are sponsored by M.J. Rosenberg (in an Op-Ed from today's Jerusalem Post) of the ultra-Leftist Israel Policy Forum, and the facts are being provided by... yours truly.


By now everyone knows that the results of the election add up to a mandate to end the occupation.


A close look at the election results for the 17th Knesset show nothing of the sort.

* These elections had the lowest voter turnout in the history of the State of Israel. Nearly 40% of those eligible to vote, representative of nearly every segment of the population, chose not to, having either lost faith in the legitimacy / effectiveness of the current political system, parties and elected officials, or they just don't care anymore.

* There were 3 non-Arab parties whose platform included some type of "end the occupation" concept that earned seats in the 17th Knesset (Kadima, Labor, Meretz), who, in total, earned 53 seats - well short of a 61 seat majority needed to form a coalition.

Of the remaining seats that went to non right-wing parties, 7 seats went to the Pensioners party (a party that currently has no platform on anything except for taking care of the elderly), 18 seats went to the ultra-Orthodox Shas and UTJ parties who also do not have an official platform when it comes to the issue of borders (and neither of those parties would constitute Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria as an "occupation"), and lastly, 10 seats were split between the 3 Arab parties whose voters and leaders (more here - halfway into the post) fail to accept Israel as a Jewish State.

So, in short, these election results do not show any indication that a majority of (Jewish) Israelis are clamoring for an "End to the Occupation".


The surprisingly peaceful withdrawal from Gaza demonstrated that the majority of Israelis support territorial withdrawal and the dismantling of settlements in pursuit of disengagement from the Palestinians.


How can this be considered a proof? This represents the ultimate hypocrisy. Rosenberg and Israel Policy Forum advocated strongly against any refusal of orders and expressions of non-violent civil disobedience when it came to the opposition of the expulsion of the 10,000 Jews of Gush Katif, Gaza and the Shomron. To now argue that since the country did not erupt in violent revolt in the wake of the expulsion proves that the majority were in favor?!?

What of the hundreds of thousands who demonstrated against the expulsion? What of the tens of thousands who involved themselves in acts of non-violent civil disobedience?

Consider the following:

* Ariel Sharon (Likud) was elected by a landslide in the 2003 elections on a platform that directly contrasted Amram Mitzna's (Labor) "Disengagement" plan.

The true mandate that Ariel Sharon and the Likud received in the aftermath of the 2003 elections (where nearly 1 in every 3 voters voted Likud) was to eliminate the terror threat posed by the "Palestinians" against the Jewish State - and in that, his expulsion plan completely failed to represent the will of the people.

* The only referendum held on the matter of the expulsion plan - which took place within Ariel Sharon's Likud party - suffered a resounding defeat: 60% opposed, 40% in favor.

* Ariel Sharon was only able to garner a majority within his cabinet for the expulsion by firing those ministers who opposed the expulsion plan and replacing them with those who were willing to betray their ideological convictions in return for cushy ministerial positions (and a BMW, of course).

The same tactic was used by Sharon to build support within the Knesset for the expulsion plan.

At no point did the majority of (Jewish) Israelis ever give their support to Ariel Sharon's expulsion plan.


Ehud Olmert... has a specific policy mandate: getting out of most of the West Bank. He says that parts of Arab Jerusalem could be handed to the Palestinians either in the context of his unilateral plan, or in negotiations.


Ehud Olmert, and by extension, his Kadima party, have no mandate whatsoever.

* How can Ehud Olmert and Kadima have a "specific policy mandate" when fewer than 1 out of every 4 voters (less than 25%) casted their vote for Kadima?

* Consider that from the very moment that Ehud Olmert took over the leadership of Kadima, the party has been losing voters left and right (both figuratively and literally). When Olmert took over the party, Kadima was polling at 44 seats, and they ended up with a paltry 29 seats - a drop of 15 seats, over a third of their support base!

Furthermore, the other two parties on the left who advocated "ending the occupation" also had poor showings at the polls. Meretz dropped from 6 seats to 5, and Labor stayed at the same 19 seats that they had after the 2003 elections, which was viewed then as an unmitigated disaster.


Who would have imagined that Israeli politics would have shifted in this direction less than six years after the collapse of the Camp David negotiations and following the onset of the Aksa Intifada...

Amazingly, even the coming to power of Hamas did not significantly erode the Israeli consensus in favor of territorial compromise with the Palestinians, either unilaterally or through negotiations.

Israelis have simply had it with the occupation.


Wrong. Again, all this shows is that a large segment of the voting public in Israel has lost faith in the electoral system (see above), and explains why nearly 40% of those eligible to vote in the elections found better things to do on election day, and why a large percentage of those who did in fact vote did so while holding their nose.

Consider that the Pensioners party won 7 seats, the equivalent of over 200,000 votes (a party that only came into existence a few months before the election). Many of those who voted for the Pensioners party did so as a protest vote, and others did so out of a feeling that while none of the major parties could be expected to look after their interests (and since our war with the "Palestinians" doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon), perhaps this small party whose single issue is championing the rights of the elderly seemed, to many, as good a vote as any.


It is, of course, easy to be a militant on Israeli-Palestinian issues when you legislate from 6,000 miles away... Needless to say, the American student activists who voted to sustain the occupation will not be joining their Israeli counterparts in patrolling the West Bank and staffing checkpoints.


Rosenberg is half-right in this instance.

He neglects to mention that it is no less easy to advocate expelling tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of Jews from their homes, and for destroying dozens of Jewish communities in the Land of Israel, all to be carried out at the behest of the government of the Jewish State of Israel, while sitting 6,000 miles away.

Of course, neither he, nor his supporters, are likely to ever end up moving to Israel, and as such, will never have to personally expel any Jews from their homes, nor will they have to suffer the consequences of the implementation of such actions.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I was a slave in the Land of Egypt... I think

I vividly recall sitting at the Peasach Seder 4 years ago (when I still lived in NY) where one of my step-father's (non-religious) relatives made the following comment:

Did you see the article from the New York times the other day? The article said that there was absolutely no proof that the Jews were ever slaves in Egypt and that the whole Passover story is basically made up.

At which point I turned to my brother and said, "I guess we don't have to waste our time finishing the rest of the Seder since the New York Times said that the whole thing is made up."

Well, this year, we may not have a New York Times article denying the Exodus from Egypt (yet), but we do have an article in Yediot Achronot (picked up from the Associated Press):

Environmental scientist probes Exodus story

University of Massachusetts professor (Daniel Hillel) says no 'solid' proof to support Torah's claims of national slavery in Egypt and 'miraculous' journey through Red Sea, but admits that story is based on facts of ancient Egypt...

What exactly is the goal of such studies and articles?

Those who believe in G-d and in His teachings will not be swayed by such articles, and those who don't believe that the Bible represents the word of G-d will most likely continue to believe so, regardless of any proof that shows otherwise.

I believe that we might be able to find the answer to this question if we take a closer look at the rest of the article:

Outside the Bible, there’s no hard proof of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt and escape. But Hillel figures if the accounts “were entirely contrived, they could hardly have had such lasting power” and “there appears to be a believable core of authenticity... He considers it unlikely that “a nation would ascribe to itself so humble and humiliating a national beginning as slavery, unless it had some basis in truth...”

Hillel thinks “whoever wrote the story of the Israelites in Egypt must have known the country very well, either must have lived there or must have received the information from others who had. The background is believable, the names seem authentic and the entire atmosphere and sense of place appear genuine...”

The Nile was both a source of drinking water and a waste disposal, raising constant danger of pollution and especially during times of low flow. That could produce massive fish kills, proliferation of frogs that thrive in stagnant water and scourges of insects — just like the Exodus “plagues.”

Then, too, the freak hailstorms and eerie darkness (an eclipse of the sun? a dust storm?) were natural phenomena in Egypt that would have left a lasting impression, he thinks.

Even the parting of the Red Sea — better translated the “reed sea,” which he assumes was a marsh — might have referred to a natural occurrence. Those who escaped could hide in the delta’s reeds while heavily laden troops with chariots got bogged down in the mud and mire. And the pillar of cloud could have been one of the familiar dust devils that reach considerable heights in the region’s deserts.

It seems as if there are two types of people who deny the Biblical account of the Exodus story. One group, like my step-father's relative (and the New York Times) do not believe that the Exodus story ever happened; it's all a fantasy. The 2nd group, made up of individuals like Prof. Hillel do not discount the possibility of the Exodus story being true (at least parts of it), they just deny the possibility of there having been any Divine component to the story.

In reality, there is little difference between the two groups, as both seek to undermine the very principle of the Choseness of the Jewish People.

On the Holiday of Peasach we celebrate the fact that G-d actively took the Jewish People out of Egypt; that He was faithful to the promises made to our Forefathers; that it is He who controls history and nature, rewards and punishes, and that in taking the Jewish People out of Egypt He set us apart from all of the other nations of the world as His Chosen nation - chosen to carry out a divine mission - to perfect the world under the Kingdom of G-d - as set forth in His Torah, which can only be fulfilled in the Land of Israel - the Chosen Land for the Chosen People (as chosen by G-d Himself).

Those who deny the Exodus story are denying choseness of the Jewish People; rejecting the unique mission and destiny bestowed upon the Jewish People by G-d Himself; asserting that the Jewish People are a nation (if that) like all others. Furthermore, they are areguing that there is no such concept as Divine intervention; that G-d does not involve himself in the running of the world and cares not of the actions of His creations (and in particular, His Chosen Nation) - in essence, a belief that everyone is free to live his / her life as he / she sees fit.

It is over this very issue that the fate of the State of Israel is going to be decided.

Is the State of Israel meant to exist as a State like all others, or as a Jewish State?

Should the Jews of Israel aspire to become Israelis whereby they will strive to assimilate foreign values and cultures into every aspect of their lives, and in doing so take their place amongst the nations of the world? Or should the Jews of Israel aspire to create a society built upon our Jewish Heritage, values and teachings; to create an ideal society that will truly serve as a light unto the nations and sanctify the name of G-d in the eyes of the nations of the world?

And, most importantly, does G-d truly care how we answer the above questions?

Either way, you now have something to chew on other than Matza at your Peasach Seder.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Election Recap: Something to believe in...

There have been a number of reasons given as to why the Jewish-nationalist parties (particularly the Likud and the NU-NRP) had such a poor showing in last week's elections here in Israel, and I will not rehash them here.

From my insiders vantage point from the NU-NRP campaign, I believe the reason for the disappointing results is very simple:

The NU-NRP (and the Likud) didn't give the People of Israel a reason to believe...

* That by voting for the NU-NRP (or the Likud) they would be voting for a party who had a viable plan to end the Qassam rocket fire against the Jewish State; to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat; and to provide an alternative approach to dealing with Hamas (and the "Palestinians") short of the Kadima proposed continued retreat from our Homeland.

* That by voting for the NU-NRP (or the Likud) they would be voting for a party that cared about solving the many challenges affecting the average "Joe" within Israeli society - particularly the weaker elements; a party that had an economic vision that would both strengthen Israel's economy while protecting those within society who needed a helping hand.

(It matters little that on the NU-NRP list there were the two most active MKs when it came to dealing with social issues in the 16th Knesset - Shaul Yahalom and Gila Finkelstein of the NRP - since no one knew about it - and now both are out on the street).

* That by voting for the NU-NRP (or the Likud) they would be voting for a party that could restore their faith in the political system; a party that could give them the sense that their vote counted and that they were electing honest representatives who actually cared what they thought (and who would work to implement the will of the people).

* That by voting for the NU-NRP (or the Likud) they would be voting for a party that would be able to restore the pride that used to come naturally to a Jew living in the Jewish State in the Land of Israel.

The Jewish / nationalist / religious parties were, however, successful in convincing the People of Israel, through the incessant negative campaigning carried out against their fellow parties on the right, that all of the parties (whether large or small) on the right were lousy options, and that one could place little hope in the ability of any of them to accomplish anything positive in the 17th Knesset.

All that being said, it's not too late to learn our lesson.

It is doubtful that any coalition formed will last a full four year term, and we are going to need every single day of the next 2.5 - 3 years devoted to restoring the faith and pride of the People of Israel and working towards regaining their trust.

Perhaps most importantly, we must invest all of our collective efforts into allowing the People of Israel to truly believe that the future of the Jewish State can be a bright one; that tomorrow can & will be better than today; and that there are still those who believe in and are committed to bringing about the fulfillment of the destiny of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel.

Let's get busy.

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