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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Jewish State’

The Jews of the United States

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Years have passed since Rabbi Kahane penned this essay, but it still rings sadly true today. Rabbi Kahane was known for saying uncomfortable things that comfortable Jews didn’t want to hear. In honor of his yahrtzeit, here’s another one of his brilliant and illuminating writings, which was published almost 25 years ago in The Jewish Press and was recently reprinted in the fabulous, opus, seven-volume collection of Rabbi Kahane’s short writings, “Beyond Words.”

The Jews of the  United States

March 25, 1988

Jewish leaders in Israel and the world have long warned that the Jewish State risks standing bereft of “allies.” That should Israel take “extreme” and provocative action, i.e., be prepared to do the difficult and painful things that it must do in order to survive, it faces the hazard of standing alone against a hostile world. What is just as clear to perceptive Jews is that, should the State of Israel do what is necessary to survive, i.e., take steps that go against the basic grain of liberal, Western democratic views, it risks splitting a large part of the United States Jewish community. And, indeed, the signs of dissent and hostility are there for all to see. They raised their ominous heads during the war in Lebanon, and, emboldened, are louder and more vociferous, today.

Once, in the wake of both the Holocaust and the establishment of the Jewish State, it was simply impossible for any Jew who sought to be recognized as a member of the community, to condemn Israel. The terrible Holocaust and the terror it meant for Jews who lived through that period gave Israel— as the haven for Jews from such future terrors — an immunity from attacks by Jews. But as with all things that are based on emotion, rather than logic and ideology, as times changed and as a generation changed and moved on to make way for another, so did the attitude toward and the status of the Jewish State.

There was always a built-in contradiction within the Jewish Establishment leadership and certainly within the intellectual community. While they supported Israel, they were essentially products of non-Jewish, Western culture and values. They were first and foremost liberals, before they were Jews. Not for them was “my people and Israel, right or wrong.” They wanted “right,” and the standards by which they judged morality were liberal ones. Indeed, they had persuaded themselves that they were also “Jewish,” since peace of mind and conscience — as well as awesome ignorance — demanded the equating of Judaism and Jefferson, the “Hebrew prophets” (sic) and liberalism.

In the first 20 years of the Jewish State, there were few abrasive moments and few opportunities for the ridiculous equation to be tested. But following the Six-Day War, and as the euphoria wore off, as the Yom Kippur War badly tarnished the image of the Israeli Superman, and, most importantly, as the distance from Auschwitz grew longer and a generation grew up that knew not the horrors — things changed. Liberal Jews, with their psychological inability to be winners (losing is so much easier and losers so much more lovable), began to squirm over the “occupied territories,” the use of force by Jews against “civilians, women and children,” albeit to save Jewish lives. Talk began to be heard in certain Jewish circles about Israeli “intransigence” and unwillingness to compromise. The poor “Palestinian” refugees were, more and more, the subject of Jewish concern (though not, apparently, how they had become refugees). The terms “moderate Palestinians” (and even “moderate terrorists”) began to find their place in the lexicon of liberal Jews and certain Jewish Establishment groups.

And then, of course, came Lebanon and Sabra and Shatila, and all the submerged and sublimated liberal hostility to Israel emerged. And that is, of course, the proper term. “Hostility.” And it was hostility on the part of many Jews, especially Reform and Conservative rabbis, who always sensed the impossible contradiction between Zionism and a Jewish State, and the liberal, Westernized values they truly believed in. And so, pulpiteers ordered their congregants to rise at Yom Kippur services and beat their breasts for Israeli sins against helpless “Palestinians.” And more and more Op-Ed pieces by Jews and Jewish leaders began to appear, dissenting from Israel and criticizing her. Until, today, a real and major split is before us. And the question is: What to do about it?

Critical Days with Egypt – On Eroding Force Limits

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

When you interact with a chess player you had better not think like a tic tac toe player.

And Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy is most definitely a chess player.

The decision to temporarily allow Egypt to deploy attack helicopters in Sinai very close to Israel’s border may very well be justified. But with emphasis on “temporary” and with a sincere hope that we were smart enough to formally establish just how unique the circumstances were.

Let’s be clear about the problem:

For years the Egyptians have been trying to erode the Sinai force restrictions set in the peace treaty they signed with Israel. Force restrictions that were a necessary condition for Israel agreeing to restore the Sinai to Egyptian control.

The Egyptians see the force restrictions as impinging on their sovereignty.

We always considered the force restrictions as critical for the Jewish State’s national security and, frankly speaking, with the Moslem Brotherhood leading Egypt, we need the force restrictions more than ever.

When the Egyptians argue for dropping the force restrictions they exploit Israel’s Achilles’ heel: an ongoing Israeli tendency not to chapter-and-verse our agreements and treaties in policy discussions. It’s a tendency to relate to the “spirit” of agreements rather than the actual texts.

In this case, we have the Egyptian narrative that the force limits – in particular in the zone closest to the border with Israel – make it impossible for them to maintain order.

The truth is that, as Mohamed Bassiouny, Egypt’s former ambassador to Israel from 1986 to 2000 told Al-Masry Al-Youm almost a year ago (25/08/2011) “the treaty allows Egypt to put any number of police personnel in this section.”

And the quality and training of those cops is at the discretion of Egypt.

Taken to an extreme: if Egypt wanted to, it could take its most elite commando units and do the paperwork to make them police and deploy them in the border area. A force with both the skill and discipline to be able to do the job without requiring equipment restricted by the treaty. And it could do this without even consulting with Israel.

Again: the treaty, as it stands, provides Egypt the tools to enforce order while still honoring the force restrictions.

And it would be best that Israel makes this point clear both to Egypt and to the relevant elements of the international community.

We simply cannot afford to allow ourselves to be sucked into a situation that these vital force restrictions are eroded.

Originally published at http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=57812

Kosher Hot Dogs and the Dichotomy of Tisha B’Av

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Wailing, fasting and the wearing of ashes, alongside socializing, communing and catching up with old friends in a fun outdoor atmosphere. That is the dichotomy of the 9th of Av in modern day Jerusalem. On the one hand a somber mood, but on the other hand, a paradoxical sense of joviality fills the warm summer night.

It makes sense that some level of happiness is in the air, because after all, we are bewailing the destruction of Jerusalem in a big, beautiful and built Jerusalem. This contrast is highlighted in the Jewish liturgy on the 9th of Av when we say the “Nachem” prayer referring to mournful, destroyed and desolate Jerusalem. However, we say that prayer in one of the hundreds of beautiful Synagogues in the city, or at the courtyard of Jerusalem’s city hall, or at the Western Wall with thousands of our fellow Jewish Israeli citizens who have travelled from other thriving Israeli cities on the paved roads of the Jewish state to pray for the future of Jerusalem.

Indeed, a major change has taken place in Jewish life, and while we keep the same rites as we have kept for 2000 years, our reality is vastly different. To understand the change, here is a parable: Two women are in a room and both are single. One’s husband has just died, while the other is engaged to be married – both are indeed single, but they are in totally different states of mind.

So, too, is the Jewish nation: We have mourned for the last two millennia because we were forcibly dispossessed of our land, our capital was sacked, our Temple destroyed and it was as though our husband was murdered. But now with half the Jewish people in the land of Israel and Jerusalem standing in earthly beauty, we are engaged to be married and await the next stage of fulfillment. Our mourning now is the yearning for a final redemption – like a bride waiting for the wedding canopy, we impatiently await the completion of this great process.

Yet, so many Jews deny the obvious reality. Almost like a mantra, they tell you that nothing has changed, that we are still in exile, that there is no difference between living in Israel and living in the Diaspora. Our own people somehow don’t see the transformation that has opened the doors for our nation to return to lost tradition, speak our national language, fight in a Jewish army, and create a culturally Jewish state on our ancestral land. One gets the impression that some prefer not to see it, lest it break their romance with other dreams, namely, the American Dream.

Recently, I caught an article in the Jewish Journal and it was titled: “They just want kosher Dodger Dogs”. The article went on to say that a consortium of six “accomplished professionals” who are also “season ticket holders” are working to remedy the lack of kosher hot dogs at Dodger Stadium in LA. “We are really just a group of people who feel very strongly that the second-largest Jewish community in the country should have the ability to eat a Jewish hot dog at a ballgame…” said a member of the committee, an attorney.

Seriously? Is this what grown men spend their time on? The Jewish people are engaged in the most exciting project in two thousand years – building a Jewish State. We face enormous challenges to build up, educate, and protect our people, and all this is happening while wealthy season-ticket Kosher-eating Jews are fighting for Kosher hot dogs in Dodger stadium? Are we so comfortable with the status quo that Jewish leaders can spend their time on nonsense?

Even closer to their home, in the great state of California there are serious problems with antisemitism at many colleges, high intermarriage rates, and scores of Jews who are losing all connection with Judaism. Some young Jews don’t stand a chance of getting Jewish schooling, while others are afraid to show their Kippah on campus. Yet a group of wealthy Kosher-eating Jews is not ashamed to go public with their efforts to bring fresh Kosher dogs to their box seats?

Survey: Israelis Think Romney ‘Friendlier’ to Jewish State

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

A survey on American-Israeli relations has concluded that Israelis consider Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to be more ‘friendly’ towards Israel than incumbent Barack Obama, EJP reports.

The poll, commissioned by Bar-Ilan University and the Anti-Defamation League, shows that only 45% of Israeli respondents think Obama is ‘friendly’ towards Israel, and 29% thought Romney would be better for Israel’s interests, compared to 22% who thought the same about Obama.

Surprisingly, after almost four years in office, a full 49% of Israelis polled did not know or would not answer questions regarding Obama’s Israel agenda.

The poll was released ahead of a conference on American-Israeli relations at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University on Sunday and Monday.

A survey published earlier this year by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), 45% of U.S. Jewish voters would choose Romney on the issue of US-Israel relations, compared to 42% for Obama, with 22% of Jews saying it was the most important issue in deciding which candidate to choose.

EJP reported that Israeli officials are saying Romney’s team are preparing for an early campaign visit to Israel at the end of June. Romney’s campaign staff has so far denied this. Jonny Daniels, senior advisor to Knesset Deputy speaker Danny Danon, told EJP the trip is “definitely being planned.”

Obama visited Israel briefly during his 2008 campaign, but skipped it on his tour of the Middle east as president.

Members of the Bukharian Jewish Community Supporting Israel

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Possibly the most colorful group of Israel-loving Jews parading on Fifth Avenue Sunday.

Yoram Ettinger: The Westernization of Muslim Demographics

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

The dramatic Westernization of Muslim demographics contradicts conventional “wisdom.” It requires the re-thinking of economic, social and national security assumptions and the re-evaluation of related policy.

For example, the fertility rates of young Arabs in Judea and Samaria has converged – at three births per woman – with the respective fertility rates of young Israeli Arabs and Jews, while (mostly secular) Jewish fertility rate trends upwards and Arab fertility rates trend downwards.

The Arab fertility rate in Judea and Samaria is declining faster as a derivative of modernity: urbanization (70% rural in 1967 vs. 75% urban in 2012), expanded education especially among women (most of whom complete high school and increasingly attend community colleges), enhanced career mentality and growing integration into the workforce among women (reproductive process starts later and ends earlier), all time-high median wedding age and divorce rate, minimal teen pregnancy (common in 1967 but rare in 2012), family planning and secularization.

According to How Civilizations Die by David Goldman:

“As Muslim fertility shrinks at a rate demographers have never seen before, it is converging on Europe’s low fertility… Iranian women in their 20s, who grew up with five or six siblings, will bear only one or two children during their lifetimes…. By the middle of this century, the belt of Muslim countries from Morocco to Iran will become as gray as depopulating Europe (p. x)…

Demographers have identified several different factors associated with population decline: urbanization, education and literacy…. Children in traditional societies had an economic value, as agricultural labor and as providers for elderly parents; urbanization and pension systems turned children into a cost rather than a source of income…. Dozens of new studies document the link between religious belief and fertility (p. xv)….

[An] Iranian twenty-five year old’s mother married in her teens and had several children by her mid-twenties. Her daughter has postponed family formation, or foregone it altogether, and spent her most fertile years on education and work…. World fertility has fallen by about two children per woman in the past half century – from about 4.5 children per woman to about 2.5. Fertility in the Muslim world has fallen two or three times faster than the world average (pp. 2-3)….

Across the entire Muslim world, university-educated Muslim women bear children at the same rate as their in-fecund European counterparts (p.5-6)….

The only Muslim countries where women still give birth to seven or eight children are the poorest and least literate: Mali, Niger, Somalia and Afghanistan…. Iran’s secular government under the late Shah put enormous efforts into education during the 1970s and 1980s…. Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution slowed but could not stop the literacy movement (p. 11)….”

Hania Zlotnik, Director, UN Population Division, stated that “In most of the Islamic world it’s amazing, the decline in fertility that has happened.” Eight of the 15 countries that experienced the biggest drop in population growth since 1980 are in the Middle East.

Goldman writes that “the only advanced country [other than the USA] to sustain high fertility rates is Israel (p. 199)….”

He criticizes Israeli leaders who based their policy on erroneous demographic assumptions:

“Israeli concessions in the first decade of the 21th century [Rabin’s Oslo, Sharon’s uprooting of Jewish communities in Gaza and Olmert’s unprecedented proposed concessions] were motivated by fear that Arab fecundity would swamp Israel’s Jewish population. In actuality, quite the opposite was occurring” (p. 200).

In fact, Israel’s 2012 Jewish fertility rate – three births per woman – is higher than all Arab countries, other than Sudan, Yemen, Iraq and Jordan, which trend downward. The average Israeli-born Jewish mother exceeds three births. Moreover, Israel’s robust demography yields uniquely promising economic, social, technological and national security ramifications.

According to Goldman,

“Israel will have more young people than Italy or Spain, and as many as Germany, by the end of the century, if fertility remains unchanged. A century and a half after the holocaust, the Jewish State will have more military-age men, and will be able to field a larger land army, than Germany” (pp. 201-t2).

Israel’s rising (especially secular) Jewish fertility rate is in direct correlation to its relatively high-level optimism, collective responsibility, generational continuity (roots and future), patriotism, tradition, faith and value-driven education. Israel’s demographic tailwind is even more powerful, when considering the potential of 500,000 Olim during the next ten years.

Yoram Ettinger: Beyond World Opinion

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

World opinion should not deter Israel from enhancing Jewish roots and national security, expanding the Jewish presence in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, and pre-empting Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorism.

Adverse world opinion and global pressure have always been an integral part of the attack on the Jewish people and the Jewish state. The aim of this global campaign has been to eliminate the unique national, religious, cultural and territorial features of the Jewish people, including Jewish sovereignty over the land of Israel.

The bolstering of Jewish sovereignty generates negative world opinion (except in the U.S. and a few other countries), but enhances respect toward a conviction-driven Jewish state. On the other hand, when Jewish sovereignty retreats and Israel submits to world opinion, it just reflects weakness. Israel will never satisfy world opinion, and such action only further fuels global pressure, which erodes respect toward the Jewish state.

World opinion toward the Jewish state was not improved by Israel’s 1957 and 1982 mega-retreats from the Sinai Peninsula (almost three times as large as Israel), the transfer of 100% of Gaza and 45% of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority, and the 1993 Israeli importation of PLO terrorists to the doorsteps of their intended victims.

However, going against the grain has been a prerequisite for game-changing human endeavors in general, and Jewish initiatives in particular.

Going against the grain has been a Jewish trait since the introduction of Abraham’s monotheism. Moreover, a defiant Jewish people has preserved and advanced the Jewish vision and strategic Jewish goals – while contributing uniquely to humanity – in the face of devastation, decimation, exiles, pogroms, expulsions, public burning, discrimination, forceful conversion and the Holocaust. If they had allowed themselves to be intimidated by world opinion, the Jewish people would have been doomed to oblivion.

Theodore Herzl, the father of modern-day political Zionism, was considered a messianic wishful thinker at the end of the 19th century. He was initially resented by most Jews, ridiculed by demographers, and dismissed by world opinion.

Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s 1948 decision to declare the independence of the Jewish state was opposed by most of his party members, as well as by the U.S. Secretary of State Gen. George Marshall, who was then the most charismatic U.S. leader; the State Department’s bureaucracy; U.S. Defense Secretary James Forestall; the CIA and the New York Times. Israel’s founding father had to overcome a U.S. military embargo while the British supplied arms to the Arabs. Following the War of Independence, he ignored global bullying, refused to consider a return to the pre-war lines and the internationalization of Jerusalem, declared the Israel-controlled parts of Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish state and did not end the “occupation of the Negev.”

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol pre-empted Egypt and Syria, in 1967, in spite of adverse world opinion and specific warnings from the U.S. administration. Eshkol also defied Washington, and the world, by reuniting Jerusalem and launching construction projects in Jerusalem across the 1949 cease-fire (Green) line.

Prime Minister Golda Meir dared to provoke world opinion, laying the foundations for four major neighborhoods in Jerusalem across the Green Line which today house some 150,000 residents.

Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir were criticized and condemned by the world for their claim that Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and the whole of Jerusalem were indivisble parts of the Jewish state. However, their slackened global popularity was matched by deep respect for their principle-driven policies, which made them worthy allies in the face of mutual threats, triggering a significant enhancement of U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation. Begin’s 1981 destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor – which spared the U.S. a nuclear confrontation in 1991 – was carried out despite U.S.-led global condemnation, depicting Israel as a lawless entity.

Contemporary Israeli leaders benefit from dramatically improved circumstances, compared with the meager resources at the disposal of their predecessors, demographically (more than 6 million Jews live in Israel), economically (the best ever economic indicators), technologically (the site of 400 high-tech global giants), industrially (unprecedented trade relations), militarily (expanded cooperation with Western military forces) and scientifically (a leading space power). Moreover, the world is increasingly exposed to the anti-Western explosive Arab and Palestinian street, the deeply and violently fragmented Arab world, the rising threat of Islamic terrorism in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, the intensifying demographic Islamic threat in Europe, and Iran’s nuclearization. Recent polls document bolstered support of Israel in the U.S. (71% favorability according to Gallup, compared with 19% support of the Palestinians).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/yoram-ettinger-beyond-world-opinion/2012/05/17/

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