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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘country’

The History Of A Miraculous Country: An Interview with Author Daniel Gordis

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

“Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn” (Ecco Press) is the title of Daniel Gordis’s most recent book – his 11th. Gordis is senior vice president of Shalem College and a columnist for the Jerusalem Post and Bloomberg View. His writings have also appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, Azure, Commentary, and Foreign Affairs. Gordis, who holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of Southern California, made aliyah in 1998.

The Jewish Press: You begin your book with a quote from David Ben-Gurion: “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.” What miracles do you see in Israel’s history?

Gordis: The fact that in 1897 Herzl organized the first Zionist Congress in Basel and 50 years later – to the day almost – the United Nations endorsed the partition plan [is a miracle]. If you think about it, only 20 years passed between the first Zionist Congress and the British passing the Balfour Declaration – that’s also an extraordinary accomplishment. Then you think about the fact that in 1948, about five percent of the world’s Jews lived in Israel and now Israel is the world’s largest Jewish community. I think that’s the kind of thing Ben-Gurion was talking about.

Israel was founded on May 14, 1948, yet roughly 40 percent of your book is devoted to the period preceding that date. Why?

Because you can’t really understand Israel unless you understand the Zionist dream of creating a Jewish state. In other words, people who start the history in 1948 encounter a country that is fundamentally in conflict and are not exposed at all to the yearnings of the Jewish people to restore themselves to their ancestral homeland.

The other issue, of course – if you start in 1948 – is you don’t understand that Arab resistance to Israel predates the state by decades. You don’t know anything about 1929 when the Arabs wiped out the hundreds-year-old Hebron Jewish community in the course of a few days, and you don’t know anything about the fact that in 1936 the British suggested that the Jews and Arabs split the land and the Jews said yes and the Arabs said no. So you really can’t start in 1948. It’s like joining a movie in the middle.

One of the Zionists’ remarkable achievements was reviving Hebrew as a living language. Why was Hebrew so important to them? Certainly it would have been easier for them to continue speaking Yiddish, their mother tongue.

Fundamentally, the Zionists wanted to create a new kind of a Jew. David Gruen became David Ben-Gurion, Golda Myerson became Golda Meir, Simon Perski became Shimon Peres, and so on and so forth. Changing their names was not an accident. It was a way of saying, “We want to throw off the shackles of what we think Diaspora Judaism is” – and among those shackles was Yiddish.

In a way, going back to the language of the Bible was going back to the story of the Jewish people before they were exiled. Hebrew is the language of the Jewish people before exile, and Yiddish is the language of the Jews in the Diaspora. The Zionists saw Yiddish as the language of the world they were trying to leave.

In the book, you quote an Israeli historian who wrote, “Plainly it was an excruciating ordeal for Yiddish- and Russian-speaking Jews to employ Hebrew as their daily idiom at home and in the field, when every instinct cried out for relaxation. But they submitted to this discipline….”

Yes, it is remarkable. But it was a very gradual process. It took a generation of people born in Israel for it to really seep its way in. Even people like Ben-Gurion and Begin when they were in the prime minister’s office sometimes spoke Yiddish to their staff.

You write in the book that despite all the hardships Israel faced at its founding, it somehow managed to absorb an astounding number of immigrants. Can you elaborate?

Yes, it was the greatest number of immigrants absorbed per capita. In other words, there were about 800,000 people Israel in 1948, and within a few years it took in a million people. It would be like the United States today taking in 330 million people. It’s an unbelievable accomplishment. There’s apparently no country in the history of the world that has taken in as many immigrants percentage-wise of its population.

It was by no means easy. There was food rationing in the early 1950s and there was not enough shelter, so people were put in maabarot, especially Jews from North African countries. But it’s miraculous that the Jews were somehow able to pull it off.

Today many people discuss Israel’s demographic problem in the West Bank. You write, though, that had 700,000 Arabs not fled Israel in 1948-49, Israel would have suffered a tremendous demographic problem from its very inception. What, then, were the Zionists thinking?

It’s an excellent question. There were two states created by the United Nations on November 29, 1947 – a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Arab state was almost 100 percent Arab, and the Jewish state was 40 percent Arab. The truth of the matter is that if the Arabs had just bided their time and not started a conflict, they probably would have been able to overwhelm the Jewish community with immigration and become the majority.

But the Arabs made the ridiculous mistake of starting a war with Israel, and Ben-Gurion understood that having 40 percent Arabs in the country was not sustainable. So some of the Arabs fled because their leaders fled, but others fled because they were either pushed out or frightened out by Jewish forces. It’s very easy to criticize the steps taken during the War of Independence, but if you think about it, had that not happened, it probably would have been impossible for Israel to be both Jewish and democratic, and the likelihood that the Jewish state could survive as either not Jewish or democratic seems to me very small.

In fact, Benny Morris – who is a very secular kind of left-of-center Israeli historian at Ben Gurion University – said in a Haaretz interview about 10 years ago he thinks Ben-Gurion should have gone further [and forced out even more Arabs].

The subtitle of one of your chapters is “The Rise and Revenge of Israel’s Political Right.” What was this rise and revenge?

It’s the rise of Likud in 1977. By 1977, Menachem Begin had lost eight times. He was 63 years old. The expectation was that he was going to lose for a ninth time and be driven out of politics altogether. But he won a stunning victory, which happened in large measure because the Mizrachi Jews – Jews from North Africa, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, etc. – had come to Israel and basically been pretty badly treated by the European Ashkenazi elite. They were looked down upon because of their different culture, because they weren’t university-educated in many cases, and a little bit because of their darker skin.

Menachem Begin – even though he was a Polish Ashkenazi Jew in every single way – was known for really revering Jews no matter what their background. In the Betar anthem, it says “Ivri, gam b’oni, ben sar – Any Hebrew, no matter how poor, is still the son of a prince.” So Begin showed tremendous respect for these [Mizrachi] Jews, and in 1977 there was a kind of rebellion against the hyper secular elite and the Likud came into power – and has been in power for much of the time since.

Elliot Resnick

A Soldier’s Mother: In My Little Country Today…

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Thousands of people heard the alarm. It is a voice suddenly announcing “Tzeva Adom, Tzeva Adom, Tzeva Adom” (Color Red, Color Red, Color Red – or Red Alert, Red Alert, Red Alert). The voice is calm but insistent. I’ve heard it a few times.

In some places, it can be a siren. It wails loud and clear and your heart begins to race and your brain kicks in as soon as recognition is made. Run. Grab your children and run. Get to safety. A safe room and close the door. A staircase away from windows. Against a wall and bend down. Out in the open – lay down and cover your head. Run. You have 60 seconds. You have 30 seconds. You have 20 seconds. Even an Olympic runner wouldn’t make it.

Listen for the boom. Wait for it. And when you hear it. You gasp in shock. Which is silly because you were waiting for it, anticipating it, right? And still you gasp in shock. And in the silence, the follows the boom, you think. Where is she? Where is he?

A friend who lives very close to Sderot wrote that she was caught outside during the latest attack. She had no choice but to lie on the ground. She felt it shake when the missile landed – inside a city, close to a school.

Another friend wrote that she could feel her house shake.

In my little country today, we were hit by a missile. The siren sounded; the red alert was announced. Children, panicked and frightened, were hurried into bomb shelters. There is no time to explain, no time to deal with their fears. When Aliza was nine years old, in third grade, in the middle of a war where her oldest brother was fighting, an alarm was sounded. It was 2009 and the Gaza war had yet to hit Jerusalem – that would happen in 2012 and 2014, but in 2009, we still believed we were out of range. And then, the siren sounded.

I was in Jerusalem and I heard it. Somehow I knew it was a mistake but I watched from the shelter of my office as others stopped, looked up, and then continued on their way. In the schools, it was a different story. They couldn’t afford to ignore the siren and so they correctly treated it as an attack and rushed the children to shelter.

There was no time to worry about a third grader, or in this case three third grade girls who were frightened and had been separated from their class. Teachers correctly grabbed them and corraled them with their own classes into bomb shelters. But when the doors closed, they had their hands full with terrified first and second graders and no one had time to deal with three crying third graders.

And so she came home and told me about the alarm. Today, more children were terrified, parents worried. The missile came barreling in – this time, they didn’t miss. They hit a city with tens of thousands of people…not far from a school.

Imagine if the same thing happened in your country. Imagine if it was your child’s school. Imagine if you were caught in the open with nowhere to go and 20 seconds to react and find a way to save your life.

My little country is angry tonight; angry for the people in the south who are starting this new year as they have started and ended so many others – under the constant threat of an enemy who believes it is holy and right to attack innocent people while much of the world simply ignores this latest crime.

Paula Stern

Shiloh Musings: The USA is Not a Jewish Country!

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

I was born and raised in the USA, the United States of America. And in the second half of the twentieth century, post-World War Two, it was very much a Christian country. The Jewish population was an extremely vocal minority, and if there were any other religions, one rarely if ever heard from them. And although there certainly were quite a few races other than Caucasian aka white, standards of beauty were primarily WASP, emphasizing straight, light-colored hair, small nose, light eyes, thin eyebrows and oval faces. Shoes were made for narrow feet, and the classic sheath dress was most flattering on narrow hips.

When I took on Jewish Sabbath observance and couldn’t take important standardized tests on Saturdays, at least others had already successfully fought that battle, and there were places designated for Sunday testing, PSAT, SAT, College Boards etc.

After Thanksgiving, public places and public schools were decorated for Christmas, even including religious Nativity scenes. And schools had very Christian religious assemblies/pageants. That is until the local Jewish populations got strong and confident enough to stop it. Sometimes all that was done as a “change” was to add a dreidel and Chanukah Menorah to the Nativity Scene and sing “Dreidel Made Out of Clay” along with “Silent Night.”

And many localities which have never had much of a Jewish presence, things never changed. They stayed unabashedly Christian.

Now, America is changing. Local authorities, schools and universities have to deal with the fact that there is religious diversities and the “minorities” aren’t willing to stay silent or quietly assimilate. Isn’t it all so deja vu? That’s how I felt when I saw the following:

Georgia Jewish students riled by homecoming on Yom Kippur

I, personally, solved the dilemma by becoming more Jewish and not trying to live in two separate worlds simultaneously. I also moved to Israel, where not only are the Jewish Holidays the official ones, but the shoes are wider, too.

Batya Medad

Shiloh Musings: Bibi: Selling Soul and Country to the Devil!

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

I’m just sick over the fact that our Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, didn’t have the guts and faith to hold out on the so-called aid, sic offered by American lame duck President Barack Hussein Obama.

This “package” is poison for the Israeli economy, particularly our military industries. A sovereign leader always has a choice. By accepting the many stringed offer, Netanyahu is showing weakness.

Republican senator: Israel made a mistake signing security deal
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who oversees the U.S. foreign aid budget, opined on Friday that Israel made a mistake by signing a new $38 billion security agreement with the Obama administration, The Associated Press reported.
Graham said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu could have gotten a better deal if he had waited until President Barack Obama left office.
He stated that there is ample support in Congress among Republicans and Democrats for providing Israel with more military aid. And a new U.S. president, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, would be more generous too, he said on a conference call arranged by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

I don’t know how we can get out of it… sigh….

Batya Medad

A Country Fed Up With Politics As Usual

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

I was a young girl in 1980 when Ronald Reagan was nominated at the Republican National Convention in Detroit, the city I grew up in. I remember the excitement in the air, the fanfare that engulfed a depressed city that was still close enough to its glory days to recall them and yearn for their return, yet far enough to sense that they might never come back.

I remember the red, white, and blue balloons that flitted in the air, along with hopes for a redeemer in the form of this new nominee who radiated optimism in the form of pragmatism. And I recall being proud to be part of a process that people believed in; a confidence not owing to my youth or naiveté but to an instinctive trust in America’s exceptionalism and its system.

Almost four decades later, politicians are still clamoring to identify with Reagan and his politics. His famous invocation of the “shining city on the hill” was the most quoted phrase during last month’s Republican National Convention. Even President Obama, in his address to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia a week later, mentioned that “Ronald Reagan called America a shining city on a hill.”

However, no amount of summoning up that shining city is enough to make it reappear today. Irrevocably altered, the American landscape has changed so that the shining city seems more elusive than ever.

Detroit has crumbled and never recovered. The dreams its citizens harbored in 1980 deflated like the balloons that teased an audience into thinking its grandeur might return. The inflation and long, winding gas lines that characterized Jimmy Carter’s incompetence and were responsible for Reagan’s landslide victory disappeared during the Reagan years, but the country would, over the ensuing decades, regress on several levels and face crises far more severe.

We are now on the road to a $20-trillion dollar deficit. Government regulations are stifling those American businesses that are still afloat. Obamacare jacked up healthcare prices for precisely the people it was supposed to help and continues to threaten small businesses. Illegal immigration, with all its costs and damages, is rampant. The quality of education and our military are continually being downgraded. Half the nation is on food stamps and other government programs. And of course the threat from radical Islam looms ever larger and more dangerous.

If this sounds like some sort of doomsday scenario, it is. All the more so because the economic deficit plaguing America is accompanied by a moral and cultural deficit. Driven by agenda-based groups and the media, America is a different country now from the one I grew up in. What was taboo then is now accepted and celebrated; what was opposed then is now silenced and excused. And an ancient vice squad has been replaced by its inverse – the PC Patrol.

Social mores no longer reflect a Judeo-Christian belief system. Nowadays, the more deviant the behavior, the more likely it is to be flaunted. Single motherhood is an acceptable and common alternative to marriage. Gay marriage is applauded, when as late as 1990 homosexuality was still classified a mental disorder by the World Health Organization. And who could have predicted that crossdressers and transsexuals would become the latest aggrieved minority in the liberal imagination?

We are a country whose young people are being taught to glorify America’s enemies and vilify its friends. Allies like Israel, long championed as the only democracy in the Middle East, are castigated by radicals who then incite politicians against it. And a racial divide built on a false narrative threatens the security that used to blanket this country.

True, many Americans may be thriving individually, but collectively our nation is on a downward spiral. And those who are leading it or who aspire to lead it are cheerleading the descent rather than trying to prevent it.

The relationship between culture and politics is an interdependent one, as is the relationship between voter and politician. Which is why this upcoming election is so profoundly significant. It is not just an election between two candidates and two parties whose differences range as far as bubble up or trickle down.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, in 1994 only 30 percent of Democrats considered themselves liberal, a number that doubled by 2014. This problem is confounded by the reality that what is deemed liberal today was thought extreme or radical twenty years ago. Consider an Iowa poll earlier this year that revealed that 4-in-10 likely Democratic caucus-goers described themselves as socialist. Thus, the Democratic platforms of twenty years ago and today are similar in virtually nothing but party name.

The fact is, millions of Americans would not have felt “the bern” had the climate not been ripe for such an embrace. Bernie Sanders tapped into an enormous subset of Americans who apparently slumbered through the end of the Cold War and the abject failure of brutal communist regimes. And Hillary Clinton continues to pander to that very crowd by painting a rosy and disingenuous picture of what America would look like with even more government handouts.

An even clearer reflection of the country’s discontent came from the other side of the political spectrum, as political novice Donald Trump, endlessly mocked by the nation’s elites, stormed through the Republican primaries, leaving the campaigns of more than a dozen mainstream establishment politicians a smoking crater.

With so many Americans of differing political views agreeing that the country is way off track and that conventional politicians don’t hold the answer, there is at least some reason for hope. The clock probably can’t be turned back to that shining city on a hill, but we still might be able to make America great again.

Sara Lehmann

A Soldier’s Mother: In My Little Country

Monday, July 18th, 2016

It’s been a heck of a busy day.

Early in the morning, my phone beeped with news that shouldn’t have been shared. A grenade had gone off in the north…there were injuries, possibly fatalities. Hours later, this was confirmed and at this moment, a family is flying to Israel to attend the funeral tomorrow of their 20 year old son, who came to Israel to live here, to serve in the army, as several other children in the family have already done.

Later, it would come out that the grenade that detonated killed two soldiers, one was the lone soldier whose family is flying now; the second was a Druze soldier from the north. Ironic because a short while after he died, another Druze, this one a security guard for the light rail in Jerusalem, saved dozens if not hundreds of lives when he identified and with another guard rushed to stop a terrorist armed with bombs who was about to get on the light rail in the center of Jerusalem.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough excitement in my little country. A drone was intercepted by Patriot missiles as it infiltrated into Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights.

There are days that are roller coasters of emotion here. Even the hint of a soldier’s death brings on terror and pain. When you hear that a terrorist attack has been averted, the sun shines a bit brighter, you walk a bit more sure that whatever diving plan there is, Israel remains protected.

When you hear that Israel has fired a missile to ward off a threat, you think war might be coming, yet again to your small country.

My first thought when I heard about the almost-terror attack this morning was that I was grateful that there would be no funerals, no mourning families. In the end, there are two families in Israel who are in mourning now. Tomorrow, there will be a a funeral – of a 20 year old soldier whose family is flying in from New Jersey right now.

In the end, tomorrow, I will go to the funeral of a lone soldier who died for Israel today and somewhere in the sadness, I’ll try to remember, as always, that there are blessings in life despite the pain.

Paula Stern

Iran Claims It Foiled ‘Bombing, Terrorist Attack Plots Across Country’ by ‘Takfiri’

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said it had foiled a number of bombing and terrorist attack plots across the country. In a statement on Monday, the ministry said the operation was one of the biggest of its kind against Takfiri terrorists in Tehran and some other provinces.

Takfiri is a common Shiite reference to Sunni Muslims who accuse them of apostasy. The accusation itself is called takfir, derived from the word kafir (unbeliever), which sounds a lot like the Hebrew kofer-heretic. Accusing other Muslims of being takfiris is a sectarian slur, used heavily since the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, in which Shiite and Suni forces are facing each other, with the Shiites being allied with the Alawites, who are an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The only group with the authority to declare a member of an Abrahamic religion a kafir are the scholars of the ulema — Imams of important mosques, Sharia judges, and teachers of the major religious universities. But with so many splinter groups growing out of the Wahhabist/Salafist tradition and splitting mainstream Suni Islam, any Muslim today feels free to call another Muslim a takfir.

And so Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has identified the members of takfiri groups who were aiming to plant bombs in Iran “especially during the holy fasting days of Ramadan.” According to the report, those infidels were arrested, their bombs were safely detonated and their equipment was seized.

Further information will be provided after more investigations and interrogation of the culprits.

Have a joyous Ramadan.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/iran-claims-it-foiled-bombing-terrorist-attack-plots-across-country-by-takfiri/2016/06/20/

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