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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Beit El’

Kerry’s Dream and Abbas’ Nightmare Meet in Biblical Beit El

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

The Israeli government has announced a new step in plans to build 300 new homes in Beit El, in  northern Samaria, just as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to convince Mahmoud Abbas to return to talks if Israel slaps a freeze on building for Jews in Judea and Samaria.

Reports from Israeli sources earlier this week stated that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has buckled under pressure from Kerry, and probably President Barack Obama, to freeze construction to bring Abbas back to the so-called negotiating table.

“Negotiations” in Arab Doublespeak means that Israel must accept Palestinian Authority territorial and political demands or they will be forced down its throat, either by the United Nations or by “resistance,” another Doublespeak word, which means terror.

No government  official has denied the reports of a “de facto” building freeze, and Prime Minister Netanyahu is conveniently in China.

Kerry hosted the government’s unofficial Minister for the Peace Process, Tzipi Livni, in Washington last week and continued discussions with her in Rome this week, where he said he will return to Israel in two weeks.

Journalists covering the State Department asked why he is returning after having been here last month, but the reports of the unofficial freeze provide the obvious answer.

But smack in the middle of Kerry’s Big Momentum – run as fast as you can with the ball so that everyone is too dazzled to see that the ball is a bomb – the government announced the next step for building 296 more homes in Beit El.

The town is not just another community in Samaria. More than 6.000 national religious Jews live there. Beit El is a symbol of the national religious movement in Judea and Samaria. A yeshiva bearing the town’s Biblical name has wide influence across the country. It is home to two of the most prominent national religious rabbis in Israel, Rabbi Zalman Melamed, head of Yeshiva Beit El, and Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, who is widely respected and consulted by many Jews who are not part of the “club.”

After the announcement of the preliminary approval of the homes, the Palestinian Authority immediately said everyone can forget about trying to dig up the bones of the peace process.

As with almost every announcement of building new homes, the one in Beit El refers only to one of several bureaucratic steps before the bulldozers can start digging, not less than a year from now.

Israel has been through this time after time, the most famous incident being the announcement of another bureaucratic stage having been completed for building homes in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, claimed by the Palestinian Authority.

The news broke just as Vice President Joe Biden was landing in Israel, causing high tension between Jerusalem and Washington for a long time.

Coincidental or not with Kerry’s dream for resumed direct talks between Netanyahu and Abbas, the Beit El housing project proves that Israel is trying to “sabotage” Kerry’s efforts, according to senior PA negotiator Saeb Erekat.

“We condemn this new decision which is proof that the Israeli government wants to sabotage and ruin the US administration’s efforts to revive the peace process,” he said. “This is a message to the American administration and a blow to the peace process. This aims to drag the region into violence instead of peace and stability.”

Violence.

Erekat did not even have the diplomacy to say “resistance.”

It is out-and-out violence, and obviously Kerry would blame Israel if the Arabs kill more Jews. Otherwise he would have to go back on his statement earlier this year that the proof that Abbas is such a great peace partner can be found in the fact that not even one Jew was murdered by Palestinian Authority terrorists in 2012.

What about 2011? Well, that is history. Let’s look at the present and not the past and talk peace.

And what about the present the year 2013? Uh, yeah, well, sure, a Palestinian Authority terrorist stabbed to death a father of five, but that was an isolated incident, and after all, the murderer was not a member of a known terrorist gang.

Kerry does not have to defend himself. He has Livni to do that for him. Both of them desperately need a peace agreement, Kerry because he wants to be president and Livni because she needs something to justify her being politically alive. The latest polls shows that her party would win zero seats in if elections were held today.

Settlers Cancel Event with IDF Commander to Protest Pro-Arab Stance

Monday, May 6th, 2013

The stabbing murder of Eviatar Borowski at Tapuach junction in Samaria has brought to a head the bitter relationship between local Jewish residents and the head of the IDF Central Command Major General Nitzan Alon. The Jewish residents blame Maj. Gen. Alon’s policy of containing Arab violence combined with zero tolerance of suspected Jewish violence for the deterioration of security under his command.

According to Hakol Hayehudi, many residents and public officials in Judea and Samaria have been calling recently for the dismissal of Maj. Gen. Alon, because of the worst security situation in the area since Operation Defensive Shield a decade ago.

Eviatar Borowski’s widow also published a letter saying Alon is “heartless” and calling for his dismissal.

Maj. Gen. Alon’s ties with Israel’s extreme left are considered among the strongest in the IDF top echelon. His wife, Mor Alon, is a known supporter of “Machsom Watch” which documents the activities of IDF soldiers at checkpoints in Judea and Samaria.

For some reason, the leaders of the town of Beit El picked a time when public uproar against Alon is gaining momentum to embrace the IDF commander and invite him to be the guest of honor in the main event of Jerusalem Day, at a local synagogue.

The invitation, sent out before the murder, dismayed many local residents. But in recent days the grumbling has grown into loud protest, and on Sunday residents hung fliers around town protesting Alon’s invitation.

“Inviting someone like Nitzan Alon to the town of Beit El of all places, and on the day of the liberation of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, is an insult to a substantial portion of the population,” the flyer, distributed to community mailboxes, declared. “We ask that you act to revoke his participation as a guest of honor at the prayer ceremony.”

The flyer contains outrageous quotes by Alon, like his statement after the murder of the Fogel family, when he said it was “a price tag price tag,” referring to the campaign by some Jews to impose a cost in loss of property to Arab hostilities.

It appears that the protest, which was joined by many Beit El residents, including public figures and rabbis, left an impression. On Sunday, the Beit El leadership informed Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon that he was no longer welcome.

90 New Homes for Beit El

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Construction of ninety new apartments in Beit El has been given approval by the Ministry of Defense.

The construction is part of the 300 apartment compensation plan for Beit El following the evacuation of the Givat Ulpana neighborhood.

As tenders have already begin to be issued, construction could begin in just a few months time.

Netanyahu Toys With Loyal Voters, Puts Yesha Report On Hold

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

What is the source of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s apparent scorn for the religious, Land of Israel-faithful public in Israel?

Over the years, starting from his first term as prime minister in 1996-99, and certainly since he was elected again three years ago, Netanyahu has mastered the art of showing friendship and warmth to the religious-Zionist community while keeping them at arm’s length politically. Though the moderate Jewish Home party was invited to join his coalition government, its influence is limited, as it has only three Knesset seats, the minimum permitted. Its counterpart, the less compromising National Union, was originally courted by Netanyahu but he never actually offered it a place in the government; many felt this was his plan from the outset.

In terms of facts on the ground, under Netanyahu a ten-month construction freeze was imposed on the Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria (Yesha); unofficially, it lasted even longer in many places. Not only that, but five apartment buildings in the thriving Givat HaUlpena neighborhood in Beit El were allowed to be dismantled, as was Migron nearby, and Givat Assaf and Amona are still on the chopping block.

But the blow Netanyahu dealt the residents of Yesha just this week possibly smarts the most of all. He decided, at least for now, to accept the ambivalent counsel of his Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, and not adopt the Levy Report. This, even though elections are coming, at which times incumbent candidates generally try to find favor with their natural constituencies.

What is the Levy Report, and what did Weinstein recommend? The report, prepared by a special commission headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, finds that Yesha is not “occupied” but is essentially Israeli. It similarly concludes that the outposts therein are not illegal under international law, and that Israel can and should legalize them as soon as possible.

Official government acceptance of the Levy Report would mean removal of the various bureaucratic and political obstacles that have rendered Jewish construction in Yesha so difficult over the years. Even more fundamentally, an Israeli government decision to this effect tells the Jewish and international communities in a very straightforward manner: “This is our land!”

The Levy Commission explains that Yesha, together with most of the rest of Israel, was assigned to the Jewish people back in 1920 by the leading powers of the time at the San Remo Conference, and later, by the League of Nations. After the 1948 War of Independence, Jordan “annexed” Yesha, but no one other than Pakistan and Great Britain recognized it. The 1967 Six-Day War enabled Israel to return to what had been legally granted the Jewish people 47 years earlier – such as Jerusalem suburbs Ramat Eshkol, Gilo, Ramat Eshkol, and the Old City.

Though the Arabs continue to term these Jerusalem neighborhoods “illegal settlements,” the Levy Report makes quite clear that these areas were never Jordanian but were allocated to the Jewish people. It also belies the false claim that Israel is in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention by building and settling Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. The Convention, from 1949, details rules and guidelines for “occupied territories” – which Yesha is not, since it was not captured from its legal sovereign. In any event, the report states, the term “occupation” cannot apply to such a long period as 45 years, with no end in sight.

Netanyahu was said to be considering adopting merely the report’s conclusions but not the ceremonial declarations that Yesha is Israel’s, etc. The Land of Israel camp was gearing up to try to stomach this position, but then along came Attorney General Weinstein. In his letter to Netanyahu, he stated that with elections approaching, the government must “moderate its governmental activities.” Netanyahu jumped to interpret this as a ban on adopting the Levi Report altogether.

However, Weinstein’s letter actually does not come close to outlawing the report. For one thing, the current government was not toppled and did not lose its Knesset majority, and therefore it retains its mandate to govern as it sees fit.

In addition, a decision to adopt the Levi Report is by no means a “pre-election grab,” as the report has been on the public agenda since it was submitted three months ago.

Several Likud cabinet ministers, including Yisrael Katz, Silvan Shalom, and Limor Livnat, have gone on record in support of the Levi Report. Just this past Monday evening, mayors and activists from Yesha held a major meeting, demanding that the government fully adopt the Levi Report.

It remains to be seen whether the pressure will work – or if Netanyahu will continue to toy with the Land of Israel faithful, confident that once again many of them will work tirelessly for his reelection under the assumption that he is the least of the evils.

In addition to visiting Yerushalayim, there are many other ways readers can become effective advocates for keeping Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty. For information on bus tours in news-making areas of Jerusalem, send an e-mail to tours@keepjerusalem.org or visit the Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech website at www.keepjerusalem.org.

Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel’s minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now reside in Beit El.

Jerusalem Scores Media Victory, PA Keeps Lying

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

A big week for Jerusalem: Britain’s Press Complaints Commission ruled that newspapers may not refer to Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, and Palestinian Media Watch publicized five recent examples of the Palestinian Authority’s ongoing attempts to erase Jewish history in Yerushalayim.

The British media flap over Jerusalem began six months ago, when the London-based Guardian correctly identified the holy city as Israel’s capital – and then was pressured to apologize for doing so. As a result, the media watchdog organization Honest Reporting filed a complaint with the UK Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

The PPC is a non-governmental regulatory body that can force media outlets to issue corrections of what it deems “inaccurate, misleading or distorted information.” At first the PPC rejected Honest Reporting’s complaint but reversed course after the latter initiated legal proceedings.

The PPC’s final ruling was that The Guardian was “wrong to refer to Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital,” as this “had the potential to mislead readers.”

Honest Reporting was justifiably proud. “The ruling set a precedent on British coverage of Israel,” the organization announced, “effectively barring all British publications from referring to Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital.” CEO Joe Hyams added the following practical ramification:

“Fatuous claims over the status of Tel Aviv as a means to delegitimize Jerusalem as Israel’s rightful capital will no longer be acceptable.”

The decision has already made its mark. Just in the past few days alone, two other British papers – the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail – issued apologies for having referred to Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital. The Mail even went so far as to say it had “mistakenly suggested that Israel’s government was in Tel Aviv when it is, of course, in Jerusalem.”

Several countries had embassies in Jerusalem for decades after Israel declared its independence; unfortunately, not one now remains. Thus, the battle for international recognition of Yerushalayim as unequivocally and eternally Israel’s is far from over. But since the pen is often mightier than the sword, and the keyboard even more so, let us take hope from this media victory, and continue to work toward the day that the nations will realize, as the Prophet Isaiah foretold, that their “house of prayer for all peoples” is in truth the “house of the God of Israel.”

The Palestinian Authority, for its part, is doing all it can to promote the opposite of the above truth. Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported that the PA continues to deny both Jerusalem’s Jewish history and the Holy Temple’s existence. The PA consistently refers to the Beit HaMikdash as the “alleged Temple,” as if it never existed – thus denying the very Bible that more than 2 billion Jews and Christians (and many Muslims, at least in principle) swear by.

PMW notes that usage of the term “alleged Temple” to deny Jewish history has been PA policy under Mahmoud Abbas – known for his “moderation” – for many years. PMW issued a list of five recent instances, out of more than 100 since the beginning of 2011, of the PA libel that Israel plans to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and replace it with the “alleged Temple.”

For instance, PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Adnan Al-Husseini called last month for an “aggressive Arab, Islamic, and international stand to protect the holy places of Islam and Christianity in Jerusalem, especially the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” He added that for a long time Al-Aqsa has been subject to premeditated Israeli steps aimed at dividing it, “thus facilitating the process of building the alleged Temple on its ruins.”

Similarly, the PA’s Islamic-Christian Council for Jerusalem and the Holy Places declared last month that Israel’s recent excavations beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque foundations are “a final warning [before] the mosque’s destruction.” The council also declared that “Israeli occupation forces plan to damage and weaken the blessed mosque’s foundations, so that they will easily collapse at the first opportunity.”

In addition, council Secretary-General Dr. Hanna Issa called the digging under the Al-Aqsa foundations a “clear statement of the occupation’s intentions [regarding] the mosque, and its decision to cause its collapse and build the alleged Temple on its ruins.”

Many Jews who have dedicated their lives toward the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash hope the above warnings are both justified and correct, but fear strongly that they are not.

The Democratic Party And Jerusalem: Another Amendment Required

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Once again we see that no matter what happens, Yerushalayim keeps popping up in the center of world events. Just last week, the Democratic Party was innocently preparing the re-election bid of the incumbent leader of the free world, when it abruptly found itself having to deal with a major brouhaha concerning its omission of Jerusalem from its platform – and an even larger commotion when it put it back in.

It was not immediately clear which part of the debacle – the beginning, end, or middle – was the most embarrassing, awkward and vote-costly for the Democrats.

It began when protests erupted from various quarters against the platform’s omission of Jerusalem. Among those complaining were the Orthodox Union, the Republican Jewish Coalition, and some Israeli Knesset Members. The OU stated, “At a time when Arab leaders persistently… deny the ancient Jewish connection to our holy city, the decision of national leaders of the Democratic Party to go silent on this issue is extremely disappointing… Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, and America’s national leaders do no service to the people of the Mideast or the world by refusing to acknowledge [this].”

An official Republican Party statement charged that the Obama administration is “painfully out of touch with the mainstream of the Jewish community, which knows that Jerusalem… must remain the undivided capital of the Jewish State of Israel.”

From both wings of the Israeli Knesset also came condemnation. Meretz party chair MK Zahava Gal-On expressed concern that Jerusalem was not “on the agenda of the Democrats,” while Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Danny Danon, of the Likud’s more nationalist wing, said the omission stemmed from Obama’s hostility to Israel. “The things Obama says about Jewish rights in Jerusalem are… an ongoing policy,” Danon said. “We can clearly say that he is no friend of the State of Israel.”

In response, the Democrats tried damage control, at Obama’s behest, but it backfired. At the convention itself, the party changed the platform, adding three short sentences about Jerusalem’s future as Israel’s undivided capital and it being subject to negotiations. This was supposed to be a nod to Israel’s supporters, though the thought of negotiating one’s holy capital with one’s enemies is not a particularly serene one; see below.

Approval of the change was supposed to be made official by a voice vote, requiring an “easy” two-thirds majority. It wasn’t so simple, however, and the chairman’s confusion was painfully apparent when the vocal “aye” and “nay” votes were heard equally loudly. He called for another vote, and then a third, with the same result each time – until finally he overrode both his hearing and democratic compunctions and declared, “In the opinion of the chair, 2/3 of the delegates have voted in the affirmative and the resolution has been adopted.”

Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin, the leading candidate to be Israel’s next president, said that the addition of Jerusalem to the platform was no reason for optimism, because its original omission had been no oversight. “I am certain that President Obama restored Jerusalem to the platform only because of political and electoral pressure,” Rivlin said, “and because of the sharp criticism in Israel and the U.S.”

The Republicans were also quick on the draw to capitalize on the Democratic flip-flop. The Republican Jewish Coalition released an ad for Jewish newspapers in states with sizeable Jewish populations, charging that the Democrats are “split when it comes to supporting Israel…. It’s become painfully clear that this party is no longer the Democratic Party of our parents’ generation.”

Even many Democrats are still unhappy with the corrected party platform. Some were disappointed that it still does not say Israel is America’s most reliable ally in the Middle East, while others bemoaned the lack of a declaration that the Arab refugee issue will be resolved only within the confines of a PA state.

And of course, the Palestinian Authority was quick to condemn. A top aide to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas said a failure to recognize the PA claims in Jerusalem, as in the revised platform, will “destroy the peace process” and lead to “endless war.”

This threat is actually somewhat laughable, in the light of a most fascinating development in the field of Israeli revisionist history. Renowned “New Historian” Prof. Benny Morris, famous for having publicized alleged Israeli massacres such as Dir Yassin and more, and for having refused to serve in the reserves in Judea and Samaria, has lately taken a decidedly hawkish stance. He said that it is mainly due to Arab intransigence and desire to destroy Israel totally that the current Mideast conflict “has no solution.”

Jerusalem, Washington, And The Iranian Question

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

The Jewish people have had bitter experience in recent decades with enemies who repeatedly vow to destroy them. Despite this, here are some of the arguments being presented as to why Israel should not attack Iran:

● Israel will require American support – meaning intelligence, equipment, diplomacy – for whatever actions it takes against Iran.

● An Israeli attack might not succeed, and/or might only delay the Iranian nuclear program.

● A strike could trigger rocket attacks against Israel, followed by a drawn-out war.

● Obama truly wants to prevent Iran from going nuclear, and an Israeli attack would weaken his hand.

On the other hand, here are some of the arguments in favor of a pre-emptive Israeli strike:

● Iranian leaders have repeatedly stated their goal of destroying Israel. Nuclear weapons will allow them to realize this goal – or to continue to threaten to do so while encouraging Hamas and Hizbullah to attack Israel.

● An Israeli attack will not lead to all-out war, for neither Iran nor Israel are interested in it; each side will carefully measure its actions and responses so as to ensure that war does not occur.

● Diplomacy has run its course, with even UN diplomats now saying Iran uses negotiations as a stalling tactic. Similarly, the sanctions are too late, as Israel can’t afford to wait a year or two to see if they will be successful.

● A Wall Street Journal editorial said that because of the U.S. presidential election, American opposition is no longer red but yellow. Washington knows the time to act against Iran is running out, and Obama will be hard-pressed to oppose an Israeli strike with Election Day approaching.

As the editorial put it, “If the U.S. has no serious intention to go beyond sanctions, Israel’s only alternative to action is to accept a nuclear Iran and then stand by as the rest of its neighbors acquire nuclear weapons of their own. That scenario is the probable end of Israel.” In short, it is a zero-sum game: Either Obama will go for it, thus “saving” Israel, or he won’t, and then Israel must attack.

This leaves the $64,000 question: Will Obama bomb Iran?

It is known that Netanyahu leans toward bombing Iran, and that his political ally on this is Defense Minister Ehud Barak. “Thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions will be difficult,” Barak has said, “but dealing with this challenge after they have been realized will be much more complex and dangerous.” He has also made it clear that a nuclear Iran will lead to an arms race in the entire Arab world, thus “destabilizing” the Middle East – quite clearly an understatement.

One of the major puzzles of Israeli politics has long been: What is Ehud Barak doing in Netanyahu’s government? Formerly head of the Labor Party, Barak heads the Defense Ministry and is even one of Netanyahu’s deputy prime ministers. It has long been surmised that Netanyahu keeps him around solely because he needs his experience, support and encouragement for a strike on Iran.

Following this logic, it is apparent that Netanyahu is truly quite strongly in favor of hitting Iran – because he pays a high political price for keeping Barak around, especially among his one of his most important voting blocs: The residents of Judea and Samaria (Yesha). As governor of the IDF-run region in his capacity as head of the Defense Ministry, Barak has repeatedly angered this sector with his refusal to approve Jewish construction, outposts and even towns in Yesha. He has ordered demolitions of houses and outposts, and many young activists have been arrested and even banned from Yesha under his watch.

Just this week Barak publicized a letter he wrote to Netanyahu “advising” him not to approve the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel – in the heart of the Shomron – before the Supreme Court rules on it. Education Minister Gideon Saar and influential Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin were furious at Barak, saying he had pulled a “transparent” trick and violated the coalition agreement. Their anger only seems to underline their certainty that Barak’s “recommendation” will be in fact adopted – because ridding Israel of the Iranian nuclear threat trumps all.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/keeping-jerusalem/jerusalem-washington-and-the-iranian-question/2012/09/06/

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