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August 27, 2016 / 23 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘History’

Welcome to Israel with Ezri Tubi

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Ezri Tubi give a tour of Israel’s historical roots.

Video of the Day

Israelis and Arabs: “Etzion Bloc Should Be Center of Peace, Not War”

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

By Anna Rudnitsky/TPS

Efrat (TPS) – Arabs and Israelis met on Tuesday evening at the library of the Etzion-bloc community of Efrat to learn about the history of Jewish-Arab relations in the region and about the cooperation that has existed between them throughout the past century.

“We thought that it was important to show that Jewish-Arab relations do not have to be hostile and that they actually used to be friendly, at least here in Gush Etzion. We think that there is even hope for this today, despite the difficult and often bloody reality we live in,” Kfar Etzion Field School Director Yaron Rozental, who helped organize the event, told TPS.

Historian Yohanan Ben-Yaakov shared stories about the establishment of Jewish settlements in the region that he said may not be as well known as others. “Israelis are usually familiar with war stories about the Etzion bloc, about brave Jewish fighters and the numerous sacrifices that they made,” he said. “It is always presented as a very simple story—there were good guys and bad guys, and the good guys won. Relations between Jews and Arabs here were not always that black and white.”

Ben-Yaakov spoke about the settlement of Migdal Eder, the inhabitants of which were saved during the pogroms of 1929 by Arabs from the neighboring village of Beit Ummar, and about Kfar Etzion founder Shmuel Holzman’s son, a Jewish doctor who opened an infirmary near the Etzion bloc junction in 1929 with the intention of helping the local Arab population.

“It’s written in the Torah that Esau hates Yaakov, and everybody remembers these words. Few know what is written later, that he kissed him with his whole heart. These two feelings go hand in hand here today as well and it is up to us to choose between love and hatred,” Ben Yaakov concluded.

The event also featured speakers such as Dr. Yitzhak Glick, brother of MK Yehuda Glick, who received the Moskowitz Prize in 2012 for the free medical assistance he has provided to the people of the Etzion bloc, including to Palestinians, who know him as “our doctor.”

“Gush Etzion must be the center of peace not just in Israel, but in the world,” Dr. Glick maintained.

The event was also organized by Roots, a grassroots initiative which regularly facilitates meetings between Israelis and Arabs. The organization helped bring several Arabs from the nearby villages of Beit Ummar and Yatta to the event. Roots co-founder Khaled Abu Awwad said that he believes that such events could be more effective in bringing peace to the Middle East than meetings between Abbas and Netanyahu.

“Peace between our peoples must grow from the bottom up and only we can break the walls of alienation and hatred that have been put up between us,” he said. “We belong to this land, but the land does not belong to anyone so we must learn to live here together in peace.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Abbas Sues History. Not a Parody.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

{Originally posted to the Commentary Magazine website}

This week, the leaders of the Palestinian Authority decided to take action. It wasn’t to reform their corrupt government, make progress toward genuine peace, or anything else that might improve the plight of their people. Instead, they’re going to sue Britain over the 1917 Balfour Declaration. It’s no joke. The Palestinians are serious about legal action to undo a historical document. The plan is the brainchild of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas and was announced by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki. They are asking Arab states to support them and plan to launch the suit in an as yet unnamed international court.
Is this a publicity stunt intended to buttress their campaign to get the United Nations to recognize their independence without first making peace with Israel? Maybe. Perhaps they think some court in an increasingly anti-Semitic Europe might actually rule in their favor. But though walking back a century of history is pretty much the definition of futility, this effort not only speaks volumes about the inanity of Palestinian politics, it also demonstrates why peace is not possible for the foreseeable future.

The Balfour Declaration was a brief statement issued in a public letter in which the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour said the following:

His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

The text didn’t commit the British to building a Jewish state and also pointedly including language that protected the rights of Arabs living in an area that today encompasses all of Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan. By 1917, Jews had already begun to return to their ancient homeland (from which they had never completely departed) in large numbers, but Balfour’s letter was the first formal recognition by a great power of the justice of the cause for which Zionists had been working the previous 20 years and for which Jews had prayed for 2,000 years.

It’s true that the British decision to back the Zionists was as much the result of London buying into anti-Semitic myths about Jewish power (that would presumably solidify U.S. support for the war against Germany as well as keeping Russia in the fight) as it was also philo-Semitism and sympathy for Zionism on the part of men like David Lloyd-George and Balfour. The British promise led to the creation of a Mandate for Palestine by the League of Nations after World War I that was tasked with facilitating the creation of a Jewish national home. That’s why Palestinians who rejected any idea of sharing the land a century ago as much as they do today regard the declaration as the start of all their troubles.

The irony is that while the Arabs are seeking legal redress against Britain for setting in motion the process that led to Jewish statehood, the truth is that they soon betrayed their promise to the Zionists. By 1939, Britain had shut the gates to Palestine to Jews fleeing Hitler, a move that might have destroyed the growing Jewish polity and doomed millions to die in the Holocaust.

But even if we ignore that historical fact, the real blame for the plight of the Palestinians (a term that only began to be associated with Arabs rather than Jews after the birth of the State of Israel in 1948) belongs to their own leadership. They rejected every offer of partition from the 1930s to the current day. Instead, they choose war and with each defeat their share of the country decreased. Nevertheless, they were still offered a state in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza, and a share of Jerusalem by Israel and rejected each one. If they are seeking intervention by the UN or international courts, it is only because they refuse to engage in direct negotiations with the Israelis. Doing so would require them to make peace and end the conflict for all time.

But there is more to this than just a diplomatic evasion. By focusing on Balfour and treating it as illegal, what the Palestinians are doing is rejecting the very legitimacy of the Jewish presence anywhere in the country. It is not for nothing that Abbas has often referred to pre-1967 Israel as being occupied territory rather than just the West Bank.

For years, those intent on pressuring Israel into making more territorial concessions to the Palestinians have tried to claim that “moderates” like Abbas truly want peace. But every peace negotiation or Israeli gesture such as Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal of every soldier, settler, and settlement from Gaza in 2005 hasn’t budged the Palestinians from the same intransigent position they’ve held since they rejected Balfour, the Mandate, and the 1947 UN partition plan.

So rather than merely a nonsensical diversion into fantasy, the Palestinian lawsuit illustrates the plain fact that their goal remains reversing the verdict of history altogether; not merely a demand for an Israeli pullout from the West Bank and Jerusalem. This reflects the state of Palestinian public opinion and the fact that their national identity has remained intrinsically tied to the century-old war against Zionism. Not until they give up this futile quest will peace be possible–something that the majority of Israelis already understand but which has eluded the U.S. government and many liberal American Jews.

As the Obama administration and the Europeans plot their next move to pressure Israel into making the same mistake in the West Bank that Sharon made in Gaza, they ought to be paying attention to the signals Abbas is sending to the world. So long as the Palestinians are still trying to erase Balfour, the idea that they are prepared to accept the state of Israel is the real joke.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Mahmoud Abbas Hopes to Sue UK Over 100-yr-old Balfour Declaration

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Barely a year before the 100th anniversary of the issuing of the Balfour Declaration, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is hoping to force the United Kingdom to withdraw, renounce or rewrite the document that called for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

As he watches the rapid, vibrant growth of the Jewish State and the soaring corruption and failures of the PA government – despite billions of dollars pumped in by foreign governments – Abbas has now decided to sue the British government over the Balfour Declaration.

According to Daoud Kuttab, a former Ferris professor at Princeton University, Abbas is “said to have requested in Nawqshod Arab League to help sue britain’s (sic) for Balfour’s declaration.”

Abbas is no novice to rewriting history. He is a longtime Holocaust denier who cleverly acknowledges the “unforgivable crime against the Jewish nation,” as he told Haaretz in 2003,” but whose doctoral dissertation simply blames the Zionist Jews for the demise of their European brethren.

Entitled “The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism,” Abbas wrote a conspiracy theory about the Holocaust, opining that the Zionists collaborated with the Nazis in order to inspire more immigration to Palestine.

“The Zionist movement led a broad campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule in order to around the government’s hatred of them, to fuel vengeance against them, and to expand the mass extermination.” Abbas contends in the book that the Zionists were the Nazis’ “basic partner in crime.”

On November 17, 1917, the British government published a letter written by Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour, addressed to Lord Rothschild, endorsing the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish People in Palestine. The text of the letter read as follows:

I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Hana Levi Julian

Through The Eyes Of History

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

“Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon HaKohen, appeased My anger against Bnai Yisrael by taking My revenge amidst them, and so I didn’t have to destroy them with My vengeance.” – Bamidbar 25:11

 

Parshas Balak ends with the daughters of Moab enticing the young Jewish men to sin. This quickly led to idol worship, and many Jewish men served Baal Peor.

At the height of the debacle, Zimri, one of the heads of shevet Shimon, took a Moabite princess and brought her into the encampment of the Jews, making a public spectacle of the act. Because he was a leader of the Jewish people, this was a grave threat to the survival of the nation. A plague broke out, and thousands of Jews died.

Pinchas Runs to Moshe

Pinchas saw what was happening and ran to Moshe for advice. Moshe directed him to take action. At the risk of his life and against all odds, Pinchas walked into the mob and miraculously killed both Zimri and the Moabite woman. No sooner did their dead bodies hit the floor than the plague stopped. It was a clear and obvious sign that Pinchas had acted correctly. By acting with courage and alacrity, he saved the Jews from destruction. Clearly, he was a hero.

Yet the very next parshah, Pinchas, opens with a pasuk repeating his lineage: “Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon.” Rashi explains that the Torah delineates his ancestry because he was the subject of derision. The other shvatim mocked him, “Did you see this son of idol worshipers? His mother’s father fattened calves to serve to idols, and he has the audacity to kill the head of a shevet!” The Torah therefore repeats that he was a direct descendent of Aharon to let us know he was justified in what he did.

This Rashi is difficult to understand as it implies that people looked at what Pinchas did and assumed he was wrong. Yet he had direct orders from Moshe Rabbeinu. Many miracles happened to allow him to succeed, and a plague that killed 24,000 people stopped only when he finally killed Zimri. How is it possible that anyone could see Pinchas as anything other than a hero?

The answer is that there are often two distinct perspectives of an event: the perspective from living in the moment, and the perspective of history. While the episode is playing out, it is often difficult to identify real issues and motives; changes are happening too quickly, things are moving at too feverish a pace, and clarity is elusive. After the fact, when the dust settles and some time has passed, what transpired is often viewed from a different focus, and what was then obscure is now obvious.

Understanding the Criticism of Pinchas

To the people living in the time of Pinchas, there was justification for what Zimri did. The rationale might well have been that by bringing the Moabite woman into the Jewish camp, she wouldn’t pull the Jewish men away to serve idols. But whatever the logic, there were arguments for and against. The point was that a great man – the head of a shevet – did this act, and it wasn’t at all clear he was wrong. It is only after the fact, when we have the perspective of history, that we can see the test and the temptation with absolute clarity.

Each generation has it tests, and one of the most difficult tasks for a later generation is to look back and understand the test of an earlier era. Often when we look back, we can’t understand how the people living then could have done what they did. We flippantly assume, “We would never have acted that way! Had we been living in Spain in the mid-1500s, we would have fled the country or given up our lives – no question about it. Had we come over to these shores in the 1920s, of course, we would have kept Shabbos and kashrus.”

The reason we can’t even see the temptation is that we are judging the generation according to our social climate. But the social environment was vastly different. The norms of society – what was expected and accepted, what was valued and revered – were quite different. And as such, the social pressure was very different than it is now.

This concept has great relevance to us. We face nisayonos today that previous generations would laugh at. Most of us live in two-income households, are working long, hard hours, and are still barely able to make ends meet. If our great-grandparents were to look down at our generation, they would be flabbergasted. “What in the world did you need such a fancy house for? A separate bedroom for each child? Each child gets a new outfit? Different types of shoes for weekdays and for Shabbos?”

Our great-grandmothers would ask us, “What in the world do you need this lavish wedding for?” And we would sheepishly answer, “Alta Bubbie, this is only the vort!” The reality is that we live a lifestyle that previous generations couldn’t envision or imagine.

But it comes at a cost. The greatest cost is time. Time to learn. Time to daven. Time to be good parents. Time to be a supportive spouse. And more than anything, time to think about what we are on this planet to accomplish.

While we live in the wealthiest of times, in many ways we are the poorest of the poor. By refocusing on our priorities and understanding the pull of our times, we can recognize the tests of our generation and fortify ourselves to overcome them.

 

To view Rabbi Shafier’s parsha video, click here.

Jewish Press Staff

UNESCO has a Curious Definition of “History”

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s blog, Elder of Ziyon}

Times of Israel reports:

The UN cultural body’s World Heritage Committee is set to vote on a controversial draft resolution challenging Jewish historical ties to the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount and calling of a return to the “historic status quo” on the holy site. A similar resolution was adopted by the organization’s executive board in April, a move that infuriated Israel.

A revised joint Palestinian-Jordanian draft resolution on “the Old City of Jerusalem and its walls” was submitted to the 21-member committee which is convening for its annual meeting in Istanbul, Turkey. The text calls for a return of the Temple Mount and the al-Aqsa Mosque to “the historic status quo,” a status that existed before the 1967 war.

The language of “historic status quo” is new and wasn’t in the April resolution.

The wording implies that the anomalous situation in Jerusalem during the 19 years between 1948 and 1967 was not anomalous at all, but was a “historic status quo.”

While this absurd draft resolution denies any Jewish connection to Judaism’s holiest site on the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, the use of the word “historic” to refer to before 1967 could easily be used to claim that any Jewish presence in the Old City is a violation of the 1948-1967 situation when Jordan ensured that the Old City was Jew-free.

The PLO and Jordan have an interestingly skewed definition of “historic.” After all, neither Jordan nor the Palestinian Arab people existed a hundred years ago, if you try to look for them in any contemporaneous newspaper articles or books.

The Palestinians use the word “Historic Palestine” to refer to the borders of British Mandate Palestine, an entity that existed for less than three decades. There are no maps of “historic Palestine” that include those borders prior to 1920.

By emphasizing the word “historic’ to refer to events that are a blink in the eye of history, the Palestinians and Jordanians are attempting to remove any Jewish connection to the only historic Jewish land.

After all, if events that happened in the 20th century are “historic,” then anything before than is prehistoric and irrelevant.

The intentional misuse of the word “historic” is an attempt to ethnically cleansethe Jewish people from history – and to inflate the value of the recently invented Jordanian and Palestinian Arab people.

Perhaps Israel should submit a new resolution to return Jerusalem to the historic status quo of how it was under King Solomon. At the very least it could expose how the Arabs are trying to hijack the very word.

Elder of Ziyon

History Repeats Itself

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

If an unlearned person were to wander into an operating room while a surgical team was amputating a patient’s leg, he would be aghast. What cruelty! What horrible people these doctors are! If he wandered into an operating room where a patient’s ailing heart was being removed from his body, the bystander would be even more appalled. What savagery! What hateful creatures these doctors are! Of course, the opposite is the case. The doctors are good people, acting compassionately to save the patient’s life. Because the physicians are people too, with feelings like everyone else, taking these drastic surgical measures is upsetting for them also, but they proceed with their wok, precisely out of their feelings of care for the patient, knowing that the surgery is necessary for the patient’s ultimate good.

So too, when I point out the inherent illness of the Diaspora. For a Jew to live in the Diaspora is like a fish living out of water. The fish can flop around for a time, but eventually it will die. The Diaspora was never meant to last. It is a punishment that is meant to end with the return of the Jews to Israel. The Talmud describes the Diaspora as darkness. The Prophet, Ezekiel, describes it as a valley of dried bones. In the Diaspora, wherever it may be, the Jewish People are dry, scattered bones. We have no national Jewish body. Rather we get whatever nourishment we can from foreign countries, but we are always a minority in someone else’s land. The Jewish People only has real life, and can only exist as an independent NATION, when we are living in our own Jewish land, the Holy Land, and not in a gentile country.

Many people have a hard time understanding this because the focus of their lives is on their own private existence. Basically, they live for themselves. If things are going well with them they are happy. The fact that 70% of the Jews in America are assimilating doesn’t bother them. In their home, things are fine. They have money, freedom to do what they want, they send their children to top colleges, what could be better? It’s a little like a person with a silent cancer spreading through his whole body. As long as his brain is still working, he thinks everything is as good as can be. The disease is destroying his body, but he believes everything is great. In the Diaspora, in every Diaspora, even in America, Joe Cohen or Miriam Schwartz may be doing just dandy, but the Jewish People are dying as a whole.

So I try to open people’s eyes to the real situation. True, it is like getting the blind to see. People like to cling to their delusions. In Spain, the Jews were the top of society until the Inquisition reminded them that they weren’t wanted. The Jews of Germany rubbed elbows with the elite of the Republic until Hitler rose to power. Rabbi Kook and Zeev Jabotinsky warned of the storm that was approaching, but the Jews held fast to their illusions. “You’re exaggerating!” they replied. “Jews have never had it better!” Rabbi Kook wrote passionate letters to the heads of European Jewry, but they refused to listen. Even as they were marched off to the gas chamber, many Jews thought that things would be all right.

Unfortunately, the old adage is true. History repeats itself. People who think that it can’t happen in America are deluding themselves. There is already a silent Holocaust devastating 70% of American Jewry, leading the Jewish People into the gas chamber of intermarriage. The esteemed Torah giant, Rabbi Yaacov Emden wrote before the Holocaust:

“When it seems to us, in our present peaceful existence outside of the Land of Israel, that we have found another Eretz Yisrael and Jerusalem, this to me is the most poignant, deepest, most obvious and direct cause of all of the awful, frightening, monstrous, and unimaginable destructions that we have experienced in the Diaspora” (Siddur Beit Yaacov, Introduction, pg.13).

The universally revered Torah Sage, the “Ohr Samaoch,” Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen from Dvinsk, writes in his classic treatise, the “Meshech Chochmah,” that “if a Jew thinks that Berlin is Jerusalem, then a raging stormwind will uproot him by his trunk, a tempest will arise and spread its roaring waves and swallow and destroy, and rage forth without pity” (Meshech Chochmah, pg.191).

I love the Jewish People. That’s why I write what I write. It is the people who keep quiet and hide the truth who are the enemies of the Jews, not me. The leaders of the Jewish communities in the Diaspora who, being deluded themselves, close their eyes to the cancer of the Diaspora, enjoying their positions of leadership and honor, enjoying the moment, while ignoring the storm clouds ahead. Unfortunately, their vision is tragically shortsighted. History repeats itself. What happened in Spain and Germany will, in one way or another, transpire in America, and France, and England, as well. The exile isn’t meant to last forever. Why wait for its painful end? You can save yourselves now. At least for the sake of your children. If you truly love them, you can still rescue them now. Don’t wait until it’s too late. It is far wiser to learn from history then to deny and ignore it!

 

 

Tzvi Fishman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/history-repeats-itself-2/2016/07/06/

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