Got that pioneering spirit? You’re invited to help build Israel’s periphery by planting roots in southern soil with Nefesh B’Nefesh.
Earlier this month in Washington, Prime Minister Netanyahu bent over backward to placate President Obama and Palestinian Authority President Abbas. Urging everyone to “think outside the box,” he called for a “historic compromise” between Israelis and Palestinians. Even before negotiations began, Netanyahu reassured Abbas: “You are my partner in peace.”
That very week, as if to demonstrate the folly of Netanyahu’s expectations, Palestinians acted with pitiless brutality. Hamas terrorists murdered four Israelis from Beit Hagai outside Hebron. Yitzhak and Talya Imes left six orphaned children. Kochava Even-Hayim, mother of a young daughter, was in her ninth month of pregnancy. Avishai Shindler had only recently moved to Beit Hagai with his wife.
This horrific tragedy had no discernible impact on Netanyahu. He was not deflected from his hollow rhetoric of peace, nor did he return to Israel for the multiple funerals. He seemed content merely to reiterate that “the Jewish people are not strangers in our homeland . But we recognize that another people share this land with us.”
He must have been pleased when a New York Times editorial, with its predictable rhetorical denial whenever Israelis are murdered, praised him for not leaving Washington after the massacre by Hamas “rejectionists.”
There are, to be sure, multiple issues for Israelis and Palestinians to resolve: final boundaries; the status of Jerusalem; the return of so-called Palestinian refugees (the overwhelming majority of whom have been born since 1948); and, not least, the status of Jewish “settlements,” the communities built since the Six-Day War in Judea and Samaria, the biblical homeland of the Jewish people.
At the moment, the settlement issue looms largest. The ten-month moratorium on settlement construction, to which the Netanyahu government agreed after vigorous arm-twisting by Obama, is due to expire on September 26. Shored up by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu has declared he will not extend it. If he doesn’t, Abbas has promised to exit the newest chapter in the “peace process” charade that began at Oslo nearly twenty years ago.
Will Netanyahu flinch or stand firm when Obama holds his hand to the fire?
Anyone who believes that settlement in the Land of Israel is what Zionism has always been about may, for good reason, be wary of Netanyahu’s assurances. In 1997, during his first term as prime minister, he caved in to pressure from President Clinton to relinquish all but a tiny sliver of Hebron to the Palestinian Authority. In their most ancient holy city, burial place of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs, Jews are confined to a ghetto, surrounded by (and also living among) hostile Palestinians – including those who committed the recent murders.
For more than forty years Jewish settlements have provided a litmus test for Israeli prime ministers. In one vital respect, they all have failed it. Regardless of their party affiliation, or their location on the hawk/dove spectrum (personified at its extremes by Ariel Sharon and Shimon Peres), they have declined to articulate the compelling, indeed irrefutable, justifications for these settlements in this location.
There is, of course, the two-thousand-year-old yearning of religious Jews, endlessly repeated in prayer, to return to their ancient homeland. And settlement, after all, is what Zionism has always been about. But Israeli politicians have been oblivious to the reinforcement of these claims, ever since 1920, under international law. Their silence reinforces the incessant and erroneous worldwide allegations that settlements violate international legal norms.
By now, however, an array of legal scholars has convincingly demonstrated otherwise. The Balfour Declaration of 1917, calling for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” was endorsed by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine three years later at the San Remo Conference. The Mandate recognized “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine,” where they would now be guaranteed the right of “close settlement.” Geographically defined, “Palestine” comprised the land east and west of the Jordan River that eventually became Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
Jewish settlement in Palestine was limited in only one respect: Great Britain, the Mandatory Trustee, retained the discretion to “withhold” the right of Jews to settle east but not west of the Jordan River. Consistent with that solitary exception, Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill removed the land east of the river, comprising three-quarters of Palestine, to create Trans-Jordan (now Jordan). But the right of Jews to “close settlement” in truncated Palestine, west of the Jordan River, and to build their national home there, remained unchanged.
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Starting next week, Professor Beres’s column will be on summer hiatus until September. * * * * * In June 1998, Prof. Beres, following publication of an op-ed article in The New York Times, was invited by then-Swiss Ambassador Thomas Borer to present personal testimony before the specially-constituted Swiss Commission on World War II in [...]
Israel is a country that understands security concerns. Many civil rights have been sacrificed in the name of security and Israelis are used to being checked every time they enter a shopping center, a large store or any public building. Americans recently learned that they, too, are subject to many checks on their most private activities.
Without a clear worldview, it is impossible to coherently deal with the challenge of the strategic changes taking place throughout the world – and particularly in the Middle East. Before our very eyes, a worldwide and local revolution is unfolding; their significance is greater than both World Wars combined.
No one can envy President Obama’s current dilemma over Syria.
His decision to begin arming the Syrian rebels challenging Bashar Assad’s regime drew charges that the rebel forces are driven by jihad movements, particularly al Qaeda. Further, many rebel spokesmen have regularly denounced Israel and suggested that once in power they will end Mr. Assad’s policy of not rocking the boat with Israel. How, then, critics ask, could the president align the U.S. with the rebels?
In a gushing report on the election of Hassan Rohani as Iran’s new president, The New York Times began with this: “In a striking repudiation of the ultraconservatives who wield power in Iran, voters…overwhelmingly elected a mild-mannered cleric who advocates greater personal freedoms and a more conciliatory approach to the world.”
Last month in this space we noted that the New York State Assembly was considering legislation that would prohibit domestic insurers from including on their financial statements investments in companies that engage in investment activities in Iran. These financial statements are relied upon by the state to determine whether the company is solvent and able to pay claims. That bill has since passed the Assembly, but the New York State Senate is balking at passing it as well.
There is no other candidate running for mayor who supports our community’s values as Salgado does.
If the eyes are the window to the soul, then children’s eyes are the window to the Almighty Himself.
Adding Turkey to the list of volatile states would mean even more uncertainty for Israel.
Is there no one who remembers this recent history?
Making Rouhani the president was a brilliant strategic move for Khamene’i.
Noone, least of all me, wants to see any Arab child suffer, God forbid.
The Sanctuary was built with an ezrat nashim, a separate area for women.
One of my searing early memories from Israel is a visit nearly four decades ago to the Ghetto Fighters Museum in the Beit Lohamei Hagetaot kibbutz. The world’s first Holocaust museum, it was built soon after the Independence War by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”
For anyone with historical memory the expulsion of Jews – by the Romans, English, French, Spaniards, Nazis, and Muslims – instantly evokes tragic episodes in Jewish history. Now the state of Israel expels Jews from their homes. Something is amiss in Zion.
Near the end of the nineteenth century, Theodor Herzl, the Viennese journalist who would wrestle with the plight of Jews amid the enticements and dangers of modernity, felt trapped. For his son’s sake he considered conversion to Christianity; to solve the vexing “Jewish Question” he even fantasized the mass conversion of Jews.
The recent kerfluffle over Israeli government video ads and billboard posters, designed to entice wayward yordim to return home, instead exposed the troubled psyche of American Jews.
In the good old days, Forest Hills, New York – where I grew up between 1939 and 1951 – was a shtetl for assimilated American Jews. Like my parents, all our neighbors were American-born offspring of Eastern European immigrants. A generation removed from their identity conflicts, we children knew that Forest Hills, liberated from Judaism, was our promised land.
With Sgt. Gilad Shalit safely returned in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian terrorists and murderers, celebration – propelled by wishful avoidance – spread throughout Israel.
In May 1967 Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook spoke to his former Mercaz HaRav students at their annual Independence Day reunion in Jerusalem. Usually a festive day of celebration, this year was different. Rabbi Kook sorrowfully recalled his feeling of despair nineteen years earlier, when the State of Israel was born: “I was torn to pieces. I could not celebrate.” Suddenly he cried out: “They have divided my land. Where is our Hebron? Have we forgotten it? And where is our Shechem? And our Jericho – will we forget them?”
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