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July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘disengagement’

The Formula for Holding On to the Land

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

We usually worry about the unknown future, since not knowing what to expect can exacerbate a difficult situation. Putting this in terms of the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel,” the darkness of the tunnel represents the doubt of the unknown and the light symbolizes the certainty of knowing.

From time immemorial people have sought relief from worry not by waiting patiently for the passage of time – or the end of the tunnel – but by striving to develop knowledge of what the future may hold. The nations of the ancient world sought advice and instruction from necromancers, the crystal-ball soothsayers and readers of hand lines who probed the unknown.

Jews are forbidden (Devarim18:9-15) forbidden from seeking enlightenment from such sources (even if those sources should at times prove to be accurate) and are bidden to rely in such matters solely on the pronouncements of our prophets, who possess the divine power to accurately predict future events.

In the context of the above-mentioned verses dealing with this issue, the Torah enjoins us to be “tamim,” whole and complete (ibid 18:15), and not to imitate those who seek information from the necromancers. Rashi comments (ibid): “Walk with Him with tmimus, look forward to Him, and don’t delve deeply into the future, but whatever comes upon you accept with tmimus, and then you will be with Him and of His portion.”

The question Rashi seems to be addressing is: Why should there be an emphasis on the extreme other end of the spectrum? Why is it necessary to be tamim, in the full observance of all the mitzvot, in order not to transgress these few prohibitions? This seems to lead Rashi to conclude that tamim here does not mean whole and complete, as it does in many other contexts, but rather “simple,” lacking sophistication and astuteness –as, for example, the tam, the simple son of the Haggadah.

In our context: you must remain unsophisticated and may not delve on getting to know what the future holds, even at the cost of remaining incomplete and lacking that type of knowledge.

The next question Rashi then addresses is: If indeed we are not allowed to probe into the future, is there nonetheless a “kosher” way that may enable us to prepare for possible calamities? After all, a fairly accurate weather prediction enables us to better plan for a possible tornado or tsunami, and thus tone down our worry.

To offset this question, Rashi adds: (a) “Look forward to (the help of) God”; (b) “Don’t delve deeply into what the future holds”; and (c) “But whatever comes upon you accept with tmimus.”

This may be explained as follows: God abhors our being preoccupied with and delving deeply into the predictions of necromancers (even if accurate), but wants us to “look forward to His help” and offset worry about the future by adopting an attitude of full acceptance regarding whatever the future may hold.

Accordingly, worry is mitigated through unconditional acceptance rather than through whatever clarity one can gain about the future. We must still understand why Rashi adds further: “You will be with Him and as His portion.” It is because of the general theme of these verses, which is: “Do not seek predictions of the necromancers for God abhors this and is therefore chasing these evil nations out of the Holy Land.”

By implication, then, if one follows the injunctions of steering clear of the pundits and necromancers and instead puts his full trust in God and accepts what He has in store for him, it will secure his hold on the Holy Land and, in effect, set the stage to truly be “with Him and His Portion.”

Retired Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy Dies at Age 72

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Retired Supreme Court Edmund Levy, who headed a three-man committee that debunked allegations that Israel is an “occupier,” died Tuesday night at the age of 72.

He served on the Supreme Court from 2000 to 2011, capping a legal career that began with studies at Tel Aviv University several years after his family immigrated to Israel from Iraq.

Levy was the only dissenting justice who ruled in favor of petitioners against the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif and four communities in northern Samaria in 2005.

Levy immigrated to Israel from Iraq as a child in the early 1950s. He studied law at Tel Aviv University and served as a military

The “Levy Committee” in 2012 wrote a lengthy document that supported the rights of Jews to live everywhere in Judea and Samaria.

Gush Katif Expellees Looking Forward to Permanent Homes

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

The Gush Katif Committee has worked for several months with Housing minister Uri Ariel, and the Tnufa administration headed by Yisrael Melachi, to develop a working plan for the victims of the mass expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif in 2005.

The committee’s targets are to develop new communities, which besides fulfilling the obligation to help the expulsion victims also will help strengthen Israel’s periphery; dismantle the temporary caravilla sites by the end of 2015 with every resident finally living in a permanent home; completing the rehabilitation process; and helping to restore the unique social framework of the communities.

The Cabinet has signed an agreement to help the new Gush Katif communities and provide guidance for families seeking to move to their permanent homes. The agreement joins the all-too-short list of previous government agreements seeking to help rehabilitate the former residents of Gush Katif.

The $40 million plan includes providing professional guidance, lowering rent on the caravilla and selling the lot in order to purchase a house in another community, it also will help provide funding to complete infrastructure work in the new Gush Katif communities of Shvei Darom and Palmachi, which will enable those families to finally start building their permanent homes.

Former Ambassador for Israel Again Ambassador for a Smaller Israel

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Have you seen the cartoon of a man holding a gun to his own head, with the caption, “Stop or I’ll shoot!”?  If so, you know where this column is going.

Recently retired Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren left his post after what must have seemed to him like four and a half very long years.

Now that Oren is no longer representing what the media he must love incessantly refers to as the hawkish Binyamin Netanyahu, the newly former ambassador is no longer diplomatically bound to have his mouth buttoned shut.

And with the new Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. firmly ensconced and actually comfortable with the positions of Israeli Prime Minister Netanayahu, Oren is once again speaking out of the side of his mouth connected to his inner Disengager.

Oren told an audience at Georgetown University in February of 2009, that he was amongst a minority of Israelis and was an outlier at the foundation where he then hung his hat: “I am one of the last remaining unilateralists.”

It was Oren’s belief in 2009, as it appears to remain so today, that in order for Israel to remain a Jewish state it would have to withdraw from the disputed territories popularly known as the West Bank.

What he said then was that in order for Israel to remain a Jewish State it had to maintain a Jewish majority and that in order for that to happen it would have to “redraw its borders and withdraw from its settlements in the West Bank.” (What Oren actually said was that Israel would have to withdraw its borders and withdraw from its settlements, but that only makes sense if what he meant to say was that the borders would have to be redrawn, not withdrawn.)

This past Saturday, Jan. 11, the day former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died, a eulogy for Sharon penned by Michael Oren appeared on the CNN website.

The eulogy is relatively short, only 802 words, but Oren managed to get in some beautiful oratory. It opens with: “Written on every page of Israel’s history, in ink and in blood, is the name Ariel Sharon.” Oren is a masterful writer, a lovely speaker and appears to be a very decent man.

But.

Oren also managed to weave in to his presentatio of Sharon’s legacy the message that the former ambassador is still clinging to his earlier view that in order to save itself, tiny Israel must constrict still further.

Along the way Oren revealed that where he saw Sharon acting to protect Israel’s security, Oren saw those acts then and described those actions now as ones taken without considerations about peace. But when Sharon pulled out the Israelis he himself had placed in communities in Gaza, Oren described Sharon as “pivoting toward peace.”

Oren is still clinging to the idea that the further concentrated Jews are in a land called Israel, the more secure they will be.

Indeed, Oren concludes his ode to Sharon on CNN by using the public platform to promote his own view of a Smaller Israel.

He uses the opportunity to first compare secretary of state John Kerry to the (good) Sharon, the Sharon “pivoting toward peace.” Oren points to Kerry’s current efforts “to pursue a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians,” and says that Israelis are asking “what happens if the peace process fails?”

It is unclear how many Israelis are actually wandering through the streets asking that question. Most reliable polls show there are very few Israelis (let alone Palestinian or any other kinds of Arabs) who have for a single moment thought that this time the U.S. peace pipe would ignite a change in attitudes by the parties directly involved.  Nonetheless, that is how Oren wrote his opening for sharing his personal view, this one unfettered by diplomatic blinks and nods. Should this current peace process break down Israel should…..make itself smaller!  Why wait for the Palestinian Arabs to have to give up anything like, oh, incitement against Israel or educating their children to believe Jews slaughter Arabs for the fun of it?

Wearing Orange? Don’t Visit Sharon Lying in State

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Guards at the Knesset made sure that no one wearing anything with the color orange in it was allowed onto the Knesset grounds for Sharon’s lying in state.

Orange was the color of the protest against Sharon’s Disengagement plan from Gush Katif.

Guards checked visitors carefully for orange bracelets, shirts, banners, and other orange colored clothing or paraphernalia.

One person, inadvertently wearing an orange shirt unrelated to the Gush Katif protest, was turned away from the Knesset grounds and not allowed to pay his respects to the former Prime Minister.

Weather Forecast: Chance of Rockets Raining on Sharon’s Funeral

Monday, January 13th, 2014

The Israel Air Force (IAF) and General Security Services (Shabak) are on high state of alert ahead of former Prime Minister Sharon’s funeral, according to a report in Maariv.

Ariel Sharon is to be buried Monday in his Negev “Sycamore Ranch” (“Havat Shikmim”), which is within range of Gaza’s rockets.

There is concern within the security forces that the Gazans might decide to shoot rockets at the funeral, and so, have launched “Operation Kalaniot” to try to prevent any rockets from being launched and hitting the ranch during the funeral.

An Iron Dome anti-rocket system will also be deployed to protect the funeral.

In 2007, a rocket from Gaza hit and exploded on the ranch.

After Sharon pulled Israel out of the Gaza Strip, Gaza became a terror base that has put millions of Israelis within rocket range of Gaza’s terrorists, and semi-regularly requires that residents of Israel’s south go into bomb shelters and reinforced sewer pipes so as to not get injured or killed from falling rockets.

Israel’s security has significantly diminished since the 2005 expulsion of Jews from their homes in Gush Katif and Gaza.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make even deeper expulsions and pullouts from additional Israeli territories.

Political Expediency…or Adjusting to Reality?

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

As Israelis settle in under a new government led once again by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they might do well to ask themselves this question: Other than having served as Israeli prime ministers after beginning their political careers as mainstays of the political right, what do Menachem Begin, Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert have in common?

It is safe to say that none of them, before attaining power, would have supported the policies each pursued while in office. Before their premierships all four held clearly hawkish diplomatic, national security and territorial views; once elected, however, their tilt to the center and even to the center-left on these same issues was just as clear.

Labor prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak often matched their pre-prime ministerial rhetoric with their performances in office. The “principled” hawks were expected to do likewise – namely to practice what they had preached.

But did they?

Let’s examine some of their words before assuming office and their actions after they attained it.

Begin’s words: “The partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized…. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever” (November 30, 1947, the day after the UN vote for the partition of Palestine.)

Begin’s actions: Responding to Anwar Sadat and Jimmy Carter’s insistence that a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict include a Palestinian right to self-governance, Begin agreed to Palestinian “self-rule” or “autonomy” in Judea and Samaria. This arguably meant that Begin compromised on his view that “Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever.”

Netanyahu’s words: “This [the 2008 Israel-Hamas cease-fire] is not a relaxation, it’s an Israeli agreement to the rearming of Hamas. What are we getting for this?” (Netanyahu at the time was opposition leader.)

Netanyahu’s actions: If history is any guide, Netanyahu must surely know that the aftermath of the recent cessation of fighting between Hamas and Israel – a halt that he, as prime minister, approved – will likely resemble the 2008 truce he opposed: a lull until the next round of fighting initiated by a rearmed Hamas.

By acting so inconsistently on the same terrorist threat just four years apart, Netanyahu, it appears, put personal political needs ahead of the national interest in 2008 and again now – both, ironically, just prior to Knesset elections. In 2008 it behooved him to sound hawkish; in 2012 it suited him to be more flexible.

Shouldn’t a noted terrorism expert know better?

Sharon’s words: “Everybody has to…grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours” (Sharon, foreign minister at the time, was addressing a meeting of the Tzomet Party on November 15, 1998).

Sharon’s actions: Sharon went from being one of Israel’s most vocal advocates of expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank and a champion of its presence in Gaza during prior ministerial positions to, as prime minister, unilaterally withdrawing fully from Gaza and from four settlements in the northern West Bank (without the benefit of any peace overtures from the Palestinians).

His clear about-face gave the Palestinians the chance to elect Hamas – sworn to Israel’s destruction – to power in Gaza, enabling it to regularly batter southern Israel with deadly rockets. Sharon’s prowess on the battlefield is, to many, overshadowed by what is perhaps the most blatant political, military and security flip-flop in Israel’s history.

Olmert’s words: “The formula for the parameters of a unilateral solution are: to maximize the number of Jews; to minimize the number of Palestinians; not to withdraw to the 1967 border; and not to divide Jerusalem” (Olmert was serving double duty as minister of Industry, Trade and Labor and minister of Communications when he spoke to David Landau of Haaretz on November 13, 2003).

Olmert’s actions: Only four years after expressing those decidedly hard-line sentiments, Prime Minister Olmert made this generous offer to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the U.S.-hosted Annapolis Conference in Maryland: Israeli relinquishment of parts of East Jerusalem, with Jerusalem’s Old City – and its religious sites – administered by an international group.

So much for Olmert’s 2003 pledge – before he became Israel’s prime minister – to “not…withdraw to the 1967 border and not to divide Jerusalem.”

* * *

Should Israelis understand and accept the political reality that politicians often must retreat from pronouncements made during their days in the loyal opposition in order to govern responsibly once they’ve attained power? Or should those politicians be called out for their patronizing pre-power rhetoric?

Do Israelis believe it’s OK for political aspirants to say whatever they feel is necessary to gain power? Or should practicing what one preaches always be the political rule?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/political-expediencyor-adjusting-to-reality/2013/04/24/

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