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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Jewish History’

President Rivlin: Israel Is Democratic and Jewish and Tribal, and There Are Arabs, Too

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

The 16th Annual Herzliya conference opened at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, with a discussion by Israeli senior ministers and political party leaders on the joint initiative “Shared Israeli Hope.” President Reuven Rivlin opened his keynote address saying Israeli society has transitioned from being made up of a clear majority and minorities into a society made up of four main sectors or tribes, which are becoming more and more equal in size: secular, Modern Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox and Arab.

“We must speak the truth; this is not something that we expected,” he said, noting that many had called him a post-Zionist following his previous Herzliya conference address and questioned, “Is anyone who discusses the issues of Israeli identity, post-Zionist?” He explained that Israel was “Four tribes, four competing, different stories, about who we are, and what we want to be.” He noted that “the headline of the conference should have been, ‘Israeli hope: to be or not to be.’” He said that “a year ago there were those that interpreted my words as yet another typical, joyful presidential call… but first and foremost, my words were intended to serve as a call to wake up to the gaps and inadequacies between the reality of Israeli society and the system of Israeli institutions.” Looking ahead he said, “We are obliged to strive for institutional and systematic changes which must be conducted as a national effort… we must recognize that there are material and structural barriers to forming shared rules of the game for the different sectors… The creation of a shared Israeli identity and a shared Israeli hope is a mighty and noble process which will take a generation.”

One of the main engines for change Rivlin discussed was that of academia and employment. “Academia and the Israeli labor market will become an engine of real change, only when academic institutions and employers view the establishment of the Israeli dream – for a young man from Ofakim, a young woman from Bnei Brak, a young man from Jatt and a young woman from Binyamin – as a national mission of paramount professional and economic interests… Academia and the labor market today cater mainly to two tribes, but there are two more.”

He noted that if Israeli society were willing to embrace the necessary changes, the State of Israel would serve as a model for others, “A Jewish and democratic state; democratic and Jewish is one in the same.”

Following the president’s keynote address, senior ministers and political party leaders were given the opportunity to respond.

MK Naftali Bennett, Minister of Education and Minister of Diaspora Affairs, and Chairman of Habayit Hayehudi party, began his address by taking the audience on a journey to 3,000 years in the past: “We are in a sovereign state. A Jewish State under the rule of King David with great economic and political power.” He traced Jewish history through the periods, explaining how Jews in the Diaspora lived in survival mode, “Zionism was based on survival and security.” He noted that now, back in the Jewish homeland, Jews no longer needed to be afraid and could “break into a new creativity without being afraid,” adding that the new generation of Zionism needed to be based on “destiny.” He stressed that Judaism was a religion focused on contending “with the reality of the world and bringing values into it.”

Directing his address to his role as minister of education, Bennett said, “I am the minister of education of all children in Israel… they are all my children and they are equal regardless of their color, religion, politics or anything else. We express this with an intensity unlike anything else in Israel.” He also noted how his office had adjusted budget allocations to ensure that adequate funds were appropriated to areas in need in Robin Hood fashion: “We take from the strong and give to the week… when I took on my position… per capita more funds were invested in wealthier areas.”

MK Aryeh Deri, Minister of the Interior and Minister of Development of the Negev and Galilee, and Chairman of the Shas Party, said, possibly ignoring the entire books of Numbers and Deuteronomy: “It was never the dream that one [nation] should get rid of the other.” He stressed that the Arab citizens “truly want to integrate within us and be a part and parcel with us… We need to show them that we respect their culture, heritage and history… We have no desire to mix cultures but rather to live together in one state” with full equality and egalitarian rights. Also paying an homage to the man from Sherwood Forest, Deri said, “There are steps, even as painful as they may be, where we will take from the big… and give to the smaller ones.” He added that any “discourse of hatred” needed to immediately be stopped. To a round of applause he stated, “In our state it is prohibited that we should accept any racism or discourse of racism.” He should have possibly share this with the minister of Religious Services from his own party, who announced a while back (I paraphrase) that non-Orthodox Jews are not really Jewish.

MK Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint Arab List, opened his address noting all the ideals and values that he shared with the president: “Bringing the various populations closer to one another. Advancing the general welfare of all citizens. Building shared citizenship.” But he added that there are “important things that we cannot ignore… The basic thing that guides me in politics is my deep internal conviction that the guiding interests of both people are equal. Everyone wants the blessing of life.”

He emphasized the principles of nationalism: “What does it mean to be a citizen? What does it mean to be a national? We want complete equality on the national level and the civil social level.” He said that it was impossible to only talk about the economy and citizenship without nationalism. He also noted how he was always steered to discuss the future rather than the past: “We have a deep pain. In the heart of every Arab. The injustices of the past. And it hurts me so much when I hear narratives of 3,000, 4,000 years and I am told not to talk about the narratives of 60 years but to look into the future.”

By that narrative, MK Odeh referred to the fact that the Arabs of Mandatory Palestine had a chance to receive two thirds of the land if only they accepted that the Jews could have one third — and they refused. They wanted instead to murder all the Jews of the land with the help of the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. They failed and have yet to recover from the shame and disappointment of that terrible failure.

Odeh focused specific attention on the subjects of unrecognized villages and said that it would not hurt anyone for the state to “state recognizes the terrible massacre of Kafir Qasim and the massive injustices and confiscation of land.” He stated that his party’s stance was two states for two people, side by side with complete equality for both but “crimes occurred and we have to talk about that… There are citizens of the State of Israel who are not allowed to return to their land… Will it harm one Jewish person…. If people of Mahalul are returned to Mahalul… To build 80 villages… Will it harm one Jewish person?… We need to talk about civil and national rights for Arabs in Israel and it doesn’t have to harm anyone. The opposite. That is what will heal these two people.”

Naturally, when MK Odeh speaks of two states, he really means four states: three purely Arab — Jordan, the PA and Gaza, and one 20% Arab — Israel.

MK Zahava Galon, Chairman of Meretz, said that the “elephant in the room” was that the Arabs do not have their own state and we are “50 years into the occupation of the territories.” She said that no discussion could take place regarding the demographic question without talking about occupying this nation and controlling their lives.

Taking on the judicial perspective of “Shared Israeli Hope,” Chief Justice Miriam Naor, president of the Supreme Court, noted that “Our image as a democratic society requires a balance between the individual and society.” She said that the legal system plays a role in advancing Israeli partnerships and creating boundaries. “Discrimination undermines social solidarity. The courts are responsible for eradicating discrimination.”

Which is why they are appointing their own judges, evading the control of the legislator on judicial selections — because as soon as you let the people make their own decisions they’re bound to start discriminating.

David Israel

Rare Cache of Silver Coins From Hasmonean Period Found in Modi’in

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

More proof that Jews lived and prospered in the Land of Israel long before the so-called “Palestinian Arabs” ever walked this piece of real estate…

During the time of the Hasmoneans, a Jewish family of means owned an estate in Modi’in which had an olive grove and a press with which to produce olive oil, as well as vineyards and wine presses for the production of wine. And the family patriarch was a coin collector.

He was clearly a man of means: but something must have happened, and the family was forced to flee. Just before quitting their estate, he hid his coins between the massive stones in a wall, hoping to retrieve them later. But it was not to be, and it is only now, millennia later, his fellow Jews have discovered the treasure, and are learning his story.

* * *

The hoard of silver coins dating to the Hasmonean period (126 BCE) was exposed in April, in an archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority is currently conducting near Modi‘in, with the participation of local youth. The excavation is being carried out prior to the construction of a new neighborhood, at the initiative of the Modi‘in-Maccabim-Re‘ut municipality. The treasure was hidden in a rock crevice, up against a wall of an impressive agricultural estate that was discovered during the excavation there.

 IAA archaeologist Shahar Krispin during the discovery of the silver coin hoard that was found in the estate house in Modi'in.

IAA archaeologist Shahar Krispin during the discovery of the silver coin hoard that was found in the estate house in Modi’in.

Avraham Tendler, director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said “This is a rare cache of silver coins from the Hasmonean period comprised of shekels and half-shekels (tetradrachms and didrachms) that were minted in the city of Tyre and bear the images of the king, Antiochus VII and his brother Demetrius II.

“The cache that we found is compelling evidence that one of the members of the estate who had saved his income for months needed to leave the house for some unknown reason. He buried his money in the hope of coming back and collecting it, but was apparently unfortunate and never returned.

“It is exciting to think that the coin hoard was waiting here 2,140 years until we exposed it,” Tendler said.

“The cache, which consists of 16 coins, contains one or two coins from every year between 135–126 BCE, and a total of nine consecutive years are represented, explained Dr. Donald Tzvi Ariel, head of the Coin Department at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“It seems that some thought went into collecting the coins, and it is possible that the person who buried the cache was a coin collector. He acted in just the same way as stamp and coin collectors manage collections today.”

“The findings from our excavation show that it was a Jewish family that established an agricultural estate on this hill during the Hasmonean period,” Tendler added.

Aerial photograph of the Hasmonean estate house in Modi'in.

Aerial photograph of the Hasmonean estate house in Modi’in.

“The family members planted olive trees and vineyards on the neighboring hills and grew grain in valleys. An industrial area that includes an olive press and storehouses where the olive oil was kept is currently being uncovered next to the estate.

“Dozens of rock-hewn winepresses that reflect the importance of viticulture and the wine industry in the area were exposed in the cultivation plots next to the estate. The estate house was built of massive walls in order to provide security from the attacks of marauding bandits.”

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu Answers the Big Lies Against Israel

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the opportunity during his speech to the 37th World Zionist Congress, to speak from his Zionist heart to the hearts of Zionists everywhere.

Netanyahu used the occasion to rally supporters of Israel and to call upon them to spread the truth about Zionism and Israel. He spoke during the midst of a wave of terror in Israel unlike any in recent time. The stabbing, shooting, car-ramming attacks on Israeli citizens just during the month of October alone has unnerved many. Once again the media and the outside world uses moral equivalency or worse to condemn Israel for the terror unleashed against its citizens.

Netanyahu’s rock steady speech enlisted all supporters of Israel in the battalion of truth tellers about Israel. The physical attacks are being endured solely by Israelis, but the fight against the vilification of the Jewish State is something in which everyone can and must participate.

The ammunition Netanyahu provided the troops he enlisted consists solely of truth. The truths that can and will deflate the myths perpetuated by so many against the Jewish State.

In all, Netanyahu summarized into Ten Big Lies being told about Israel, and he provided answers to all of them. The entire speech can be found here.

The First Big Lie: Israel is trying to change the Status Quo on Har Habayit (Temple Mount). No, Israel is not. But here are additional facts you need to back up this categorical statement. First, King Solomon built the Temple Mount 3,000 years ago. That’s 1,500 years before the birth of Islam. The current arrangement, despite Israel’s victory in a defensive war against Jordan in 1967 which previously controlled the site, is that Muslims may visit the Temple Mount and pray there, while non-Muslims are permitted to visit only between Sunday and Thursday and Jews are not permitted ever to pray there. Over the past year, three and a half million Muslims visited the Temple Mount, 80,000 Christians and a mere 12,000 Jews.

The Second Big Lie: Israel is trying to destroy Al-Aksa Mosque. Netanyahu told an anecdote about how, just after his grandfather arrived in Israel, there was a terrorist attack because Arabs claimed Jews were trying to destroy the Al-Aksa Mosque. That was in 1920. Jews were attacked based on this false claim again in 1921, and in 1929. And it’s still happening today. So, Netanyahu explained, “this lie is about a hundred years old. It fomented many, many attacks. The Temple Mount stands. The al-Aqsa Mosque stands. But the lie stands too, it persists.”

The Third Big Lie is that there has been a surge in settlement construction, Netanyahu explained. The truth, however, is that the number of units built in the “settlements” has gone down from 5,000 annually under Ehud Barak, to 1,900 under Sharon, down to 1,700 under Olmert. Under Netanyahu’s reign, the number is down to 1500. As Netanyahu said, “some surge.”

The Fourth Big Lie is that Israelis are executing Palestinians. Netanyahu used Abbas’s public charge that Israel executed a young teenager, Ahmen Mansara, to show the absurdity of this charge. In fact, Mansara had just viciously stabbed a 13 year old Israeli boy riding on his bicycle. Israelis stopped Mansara, but they certainly didn’t kill him. In fact, Mansara was treated in Hadassah Hospital and released. The Israeli victim, however, is still in that hospital, desperately trying to live.

The Fifth Big Lie is that Israel uses excessive force. To this claim, Netanyahu asks people to consider what the police forces in New York or Paris or Moscow would do if people ran through the streets of their cities trying to stab their citizens with knives or screwdrivers. Israel’s instructions are clear: if there’s a threat to life, take action to neutralize it. Period.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

WWII-Era Jewish Café Reopens in Shanghai

Friday, August 28th, 2015

A café that was a popular spot for Jewish refugees in Shanghai during World War II has been rebuilt and reopened in the city’s Hongkou district.

The Zum Weissen Rossi’l café, better known as the White Horse Café, first opened in 1939. On hand for the reopening were city and district government officials, the consulate general of Israel in Shanghai and family members of the original owners.

“The feeling is excellent, like going back home,” said 74-year-old Ron Klinger, one of the family members, Xinhua reported.

“Our families are very grateful to the city and district government for restoring the cafe,” Klinger said.

Klinger’s grandparents, who fled to Shanghai from Vienna in 1939, ran the café until 1949, when they relocated to Australia. Klinger’s parents also met at the café and got married in February 1941. He was born the same year.

It is estimated that around 23,000 European Jews fled to Shanghai during World War II to escape Nazi persecution, joining already established Chinese Jewish communities from Baghdad and Russia. The Jewish refugees were restricted to a small area that became known as the “Shanghai Ghetto” by the Japanese, who had occupied the city in 1937. Nearly all of Shanghai’s Jewish community left the city following WWII and the Chinese Communist revolution in 1949.

JNS News Service

American Woman Punched by Muslim on Temple Mount

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

An older Jewish woman who recently immigrated to Israel from the United States on aliyah was attacked when she made her first trip to the Temple Mount this week.

Brenda Rubin, a resident of Jerusalem, was a new Israeli for seven months when she was punched in the ribs Tuesday morning by a burka-clad Muslim woman.

Because the attacker was wearing a burka, as were those around her, security personnel obviously knew it would be impossible to identify with certainty who the attacker had been — possibly a factor in the planning of the Arab harassment campaign in the first place.

“It was my first time on the Mount and it was a very important thing for me,” she said. “This woman in black came in between our lines and gave me a big punch under my rib on my side that I’m still feeling.”

Burka-clad Muslim women who harassed a group of Jews visiting the Temple Mount. One of them viciously punched a Jewish woman in the ribs. No arrest was made.

When Rubin reported the attack to a police officer immediately after, he brusquely told her to “file a complaint” (at the nearby police station – after leaving the Temple Mount.)

He took no further action, even though the group of burka-clad Muslim women from which her attacker emerged was still standing nearby, harassing a small group of Jews.

“I feel like, we came to Israel, this is our Land, we didn’t come here to be shivering Jews,” Rubin said in a taped interview afterwards. “It’s really painful that somebody could feel they could come and use the name of God to come and hurt us.”

According to a Facebook post by The Temple Institute, “Muslim women are paid a daily stipend by the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas) to be present on the Temple Mount during the hours that Jews are allowed on the Mount, and to verbally and physically harass the Jewish worshipers from the moment they enter the Mount to the moment they exit the Mount.

“The Israel police, following strict orders, do nothing to prevent the attacks nor intervene once the attacks have occurred, (due to government fear of offending the Muslims).”

The Temple Mount is the holiest site on earth in Judaism, and the third holiest site in Islam. Nevertheless, the Israeli government has allowed Jordan to govern the site via the Islamic Waqf Authority. Jews are regularly mistreated at the site and sometimes attacked; often they are denied access to the site altogether, despite legal rights to the contrary.

Rubin, who still feels pain in her side, added, “I would like the people who feel that there is some commonality, to come [to the Mount] and walk around on some morning and see… how we’re being harassed – and that’s very disturbing.”

A text at the end of the videotaped interview states in Hebrew: “This time, the blow came as a punch; but the next time could be a knife.”

Hana Levi Julian

Spain Passes Citizenship Restoration Law for Jews Expelled in 1492

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

It has only taken a half a millenium, but on Thursday Spain passed a law granting citizenship to any descendant of Jews expelled from the country in 1492.

The law – which took three years to create – was hailed as a “historic rehabilitation” by Justice Minister Rafael Catala and Foreign Minister Manuel Garcia Margallo.

It was in 1492, as Colombus was preparing to set sail to explore the New World that Jews were given an ultimatum: convert to Christianity, or leave.

Those who stayed and pretended to convert became known over the centuries as “Marranos” – the “hidden” ones – or “Anusim” – the “forced” ones. Their descendants are scattered throughout the world, including many who later ended up intermarrying with Muslims, some who live in Judea and Samaria. Their families still keep fragments of Jewish traditions in their homes, although most no longer remember why.

The Jews who chose to preserve their identity and left, fled to North Africa and the Middle East, many of whom arrived in what is now known as Turkey.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain said in an official statement on Thursday that passage of the law in Madrid had launched a “new stage in the history of the relationship between Spain and the Jewish world; a new period of encounter, dialogue and harmony.

Contrary to what one might think, the descendants of those expelled not harbored feelings of hatred or resentment but rather the contrary, they cultivated a deep love for the land they were from and intense loyalty to tradition and language received of their elders,” the statement continued.

The law goes into effect in October, when the Jewish community can begin the process of checking the lineage of anyone who wishes to activate their once-proud centuries-old Spanish citizenship.

That process involves proving one’s ancestry, showing a basic knowledge of Spain and its culture, and embarking upon a minimum of one pilot trip to the country. In addition, one must pay an application fee of 100 Euros for the privilege. So much for “restoration.”

Under Israel’s Law of Return, any person is entitled to citizenship in the Jewish State if he or she can prove that one grandparent — either maternal or paternal — is Jewish. The pace of the “ingathering of the (Jewish) exiles” described in the Torah has been growing over the past decade. Jews who were driven from the Land of Israel by the Romans and the Babylonians have begun to return through the efforts of groups such as Michael Freund’s Shavei Israel, Nefesh B’Nefesh and others.

Hana Levi Julian

Peter Beinart’s Bilaam Moment

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

The great biblical wizard Bilaam was one of the most frustrated men in history. Bilaam tried on three consecutive mornings back in the early 1200s BCE to curse the nation of Israel, only to end up composing such poetic praises that we Jews now say them every day in our morning prayers.

Columnist Peter Beinart, a frequent contributor to Haaretz, The Atlantic and the National Journal, is probably not an enemy of Israel on the scale of his predecessor, but, this week, his criticism of both Israel and the American right have backfired in a similar fashion to Bilaam’s, leaving Beinart’s readers with poetic praises where harsh rebukes were intended.

Beinart writes:

“Today’s conservatives love Israel,” for “the American right, Israel embodies the values that Obama’s U.S. no longer does,” because “they believe the West’s great enemy is ‘radical Islam,’ and the West’s great outpost, on the frontlines against Islamic terror, is Israel. It’s modern; it’s democratic; it’s pro-American. And it’s under attack from the same forces that want to destroy the United States.”

Beinart also attacks Netanyahu, because Netanyahu believes America and Israel are good, and radical Islamists are bad:

“Netanyahu… believes that America and Israel are utterly virtuous while our Islamic enemies are utterly evil.”

Could anyone make a better case for Israel’s triumphant achievements in a mere 67 years or praise Israel’s value system more than what Beinart has unintentionally just done?

Yes, of course, the author probably intended for this entire list to be read out in an ironic tone, while implying a lack of intellectual subtlety on the right with his repeated use of “utterly”, but tone is a tough thing to write, especially from within one’s echo chamber, and an ironistician of Beinart’s stature should know better…

Moreover, according to Beinart, “it’s not just that Israel represents the West. It’s that Israel represents the West at a time when many conservatives feel the United States no longer does.”

That’s the extent of the fun part—because Beinart next delves into fairly ugly racism, suggesting that the shift in the right’s view of the Administration is born by “demographic change,” meaning conservative fear of brown and black people teeming in the streets of America.

That must be it, according to Beinart:

“the United States has become less Christian, less nationalistic and less white. And for many on the right, Barack Obama — a black man with a Muslim father who grew up in Indonesia and supposedly considers American power a bad thing — personifies this shift.”

In other words, in Beinart’s universe, conservatives don’t make up their minds based on the outcome of seven years of presidential policies—it’s because the guy is black.

So much for the piquant note about Beinart, the prophet of Zionist doom, singing an unintentional love song for Israel. Or maybe we’ll just edit out those ugly parts when we canonize his article.

His other point, later on, is actually cogent:

“Conservatives love Israel for the same reason anti-Zionists hate it. Think about the words Israel’s harshest foes use to describe it: colonial, imperial, settler, apartheid. What they all convey is that Israel is a foreign creation, imposed by Europeans, and sustained by the United States, at the native population’s expense. For the American right, being a Western outpost in the Middle East makes Israel heroic. For the anti-Zionist left, it makes Israel illegitimate.”

What an entertaining idea, the right’s Israel-the-shining-outpost is precisely the same as the left’s Israel the blood-dripping-colonial-invader. Obviously, Beinart is enamored with the latter option, but the facts belie that entire argument.

We Jews in Israel are not colonialists but an indigenous, middle-eastern nation whose return to our homeland was followed by an unprecedented flourishing of what had been a desolate desert for two millennia.

JoeSettler

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/peter-beinarts-bilaam-moment/2015/04/30/

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