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February 27, 2015 / 8 Adar , 5775
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A Tu B’Shvat Tribute to Israel

The grape harvest in Ofek Vineyard in Zur Hadassah.

The grape harvest in Ofek Vineyard in Zur Hadassah.
Photo Credit: Flash90

These facts, long-recognized, despite the misinformation that is currently being circulated, were codified in international law at the San Remo Conference of 1920, a meeting of the Allied Powers of WWI, to decide the future of the former territories of the Ottoman Empire. At this conference, where international agreement was also reached regarding the establishment of other countries in the region, such as Syria, and Iraq, a binding agreement was reached between these world powers “to reconstitute the ancient Jewish State within its historic borders.” The desire to restore the Jewish people to their native land was ratified by a unanimous vote of The League of Nations, which then entrusted Great Britain with facilitating Jewish immigration and encouraging “close settlement by Jews on the Land.” This mandate affirmed the Jewish right to settle anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, a right enshrined to this day in international law.

Many attempts have been made to re-write history, attempts to deny the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. There has been an ongoing effort, by those who want to destroy all evidence of Israel’s connection to the land, to bulldoze the archaeological remains of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, our most sacred Jewish site.  These uprooted and destroyed pieces of history are regularly discarded into the valley next to our sacred Temple Mount. There are dedicated groups and individuals who work to salvage these desecrated remains.

There are also those who regularly attempt to advance false narratives about the Land of Israel, to denigrate the modern State of Israel and criminalize the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. They regularly advance false accusations of Israel being occupiers of Arab land, and attempt to criminalize the State of Israel by demanding a boycott of the country.

“Occupation” refers to the holding and control of an area by a foreign force. Given the fact that the Land of Israel was never the sovereign country of any nation but the Jewish one, Jews cannot be deemed “occupiers” in their own land, a fact, once again, affirmed by international law.

Since the founding of the modern State of Israel, Israel has built a thriving country that protects the rights of its citizens, protects freedom of religion and ensures that all religions have access to their religious sites – something that was not allowed when Israel was not governing Jerusalem. Israel protects a free press, minority rights, and women’s rights in a part of the world where such rights and protections are alien. Minorities participate in all areas of civic life, serving as professionals in all fields, as justices, and as diplomats. While the horrific persecution of Christians has become rampant in the Middle East, and the Christian population is dwindling, Israel is a safe haven for such minorities. As the Vicar of St George’s Church in Baghdad Canon Andrew White says of Israel, it is “the only place in the Middle East [where] Christians are really safe.” In fact, the Christian community in Israel is growing.

During the 20th century, when the vast majority of the 850,000 Jews who were living in Arab countries and Iran had to flee for their lives – leaving behind billions of dollars in property in their hundred, or even, thousand-year-old communities – Israel provided a safe haven for approximately 600,000 of these Jewish refugees. Israel continued to provide a homeland for persecuted Jews, such as Jews from the former Soviet Union, Europe, as well as, Jews from Ethiopia who were saved and brought to Israel through such missions as Operation Moses and Operation Solomon. Israel continues to provide a welcoming country for Jews who are fleeing the often violent anti-Semitism that they encounter today around the world.

About the Author: Yishai Fleisher is the Contributing Editor and PR manager at the JewishPress.com, and Israel's only English language broadcast radio show host (Galey Yisrael 106.5FM). Yishai is an Israeli Paratrooper, a graduate of Cardozo Law School, and the founder of Kumah ("Arise" in Hebrew), an NGO dedicated to promoting Zionism and strengthening Israel's national character. Yishai is married to Malkah, they have two children, and they live on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.


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