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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish State’

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).

Cyber Warfront: Hacker Group Warns Israel of ‘Reign of Terror’

Friday, February 10th, 2012

The hacker group Anonymous released a video today warning Israel of an impending “reign of terror” for alleged “crimes against humanity”.

The group, who was responsible for exposing an email exchange in which Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad was coached on how to conduct himself in an interview, has decided to set its sights on the Jewish state.

“For too long, we have tolerated your crimes against humanity and allowed your sins to go unpunished,” their message said. “You claim to be democratic, yet in reality, this is far from the truth. In fact, your only goal is to better the lives of a select few while carelessly trampling the liberties of the masses.”

 

Jewish State, Zionist Conflict

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Near the end of the nineteenth century, Theodor Herzl, the Viennese journalist who would wrestle with the plight of Jews amid the enticements and dangers of modernity, felt trapped. For his son’s sake he considered conversion to Christianity; to solve the vexing “Jewish Question” he even fantasized the mass conversion of Jews.

Yet Herzl also worried lest the freedom enjoyed by newly emancipated Jews lead to assimilation (as, indeed, it did for Herzl himself). In the end, he decided the solution could be found in Zionism, the nascent national movement that had begun to inspire handfuls of Russian lovers of Zion (known as Hovevei Zion) to relocate to Palestine and rebuild a Jewish community there.

The virulent French anti-Semitism that erupted in 1894 with the scandalous trial and conviction of Captain Alfred Dreyfus for treason convinced Herzl that Jews were “one people” needing a state of their own. “We have sincerely tried everywhere to merge with the national communities in which we live, seeking only to preserve the faith of our fathers,” he wrote. But, he concluded, “it is not permitted us.” Religion alone was insufficient.

Herzl’s The Jewish State, published two years later, was his plea for a Zionist solution to the Jewish problem. But Herzl was too much the assimilated Viennese gentleman to want anything other than an “aristocratic republic” (preferably modeled on Switzerland), which would become an “outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism” in the Middle East.

His dream of a Jewish state was conspicuous for its Jewish barrenness. Jewish history, for Herzl, was a burden from which emancipated Jews, even Zionists, must escape. Religion offended him: “We do not mean to found a theocracy,” he wrote, “but a tolerant modern civil state” in which “our clergy” would not have “even the slightest chance to assert their whims.” His Jerusalem would feature a grand Temple, emptied of Jewish content, and an Old City that would become “an international centre which all nations might regard as their home.”

In Herzl’s multilingual state “every man can preserve the language in which his thoughts are at home.” After all, he wondered, “Who among us knows enough Hebrew to ask for a train ticket?” Yiddish, the “stunted and twisted jargon” of Eastern European Jews, was a ghetto remnant deserving to be eradicated. Jewish culture must draw upon Enlightenment virtues: “justice, truth, liberty, progress, humanity, and beauty.” Herzl cared little about the location of a Jewish state; as between Argentina and Palestine he was indifferent.

Herzl’s call for the revival of Jewish nationalism proved equally offensive to the Protestrabbiner (as he labeled his European religious opponents) as it did to the enlightened and emancipated Jews of modernity. Because American Jews already stood on “freedom’s holy soil,” prominent Reform rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise declared, Zionism was nothing more than “a momentary inebriation of morbid minds.”

* * * * *

Secular Zionists succeeded in creating the old-new land of Herzl’s imagination. Against seeming insuperable odds, Israel not only survived the murderous hostility of its enemies; it flourished. Finally, Jews could once again live as citizens in their own country and, if necessary, die defending it.

But neither the Zionist movement nor its ultimate fulfillment in Jewish statehood could resolve the underlying tension between competing Israeli and Diaspora visions of Jewish modernity: independence or assimilation. Jewish leaders in the United States were infuriated when Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion appealed to young American Jews to make aliyah to the fledgling state. Then and ever since, the overwhelming majority of American Jews have preferred to remain where they are, ever more closely identified with the liberalism that has been their entry ticket to mainstream American society.

It might be said that American Jews have remained faithful to the teaching of Jeremiah after the Babylonian exile: “Build houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them.” Indeed, when Ezra led the exiled community from Babylon back to Jerusalem, he discovered an “unclean” land whose Israelites, hardly immune to the enticements of foreign cultures, had adopted their “abominations.” Exile, even then, might also occur at home.

The pursuit of normality, given the tragedies and horrors of Jewish history, inspired Zionism, and statehood was its astonishing – and historically unprecedented – achievement. But the tension between a normal and a chosen people, between secular liberalism and Judaism, would remain deeply embedded in the fledgling state. Indeed, Israel has long displayed its own Zionist version of the tale of two cities, with Tel Aviv as the apex of secular Zionist hedonism and Jerusalem as the sanctuary of Jewish history and memory.

Built a century ago on sand dunes along the Mediterranean shore, Tel Aviv symbolized the Zionist repudiation of Jewish memory. With its back to the geographical cradle of Jewish history in the Samarian hills, it faced west toward modern sources of inspiration, at first Europe – witness the Bauhaus architecture in the old city center – and eventually the United States.

Disorder And Early Sorrow: Israel’s Special Vulnerability to Global Chaos

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

In the past I have written about global anarchy and its strategic implications for Israel. Today, I want to assess something far more specific and ominous: global chaotic disintegration. Such an unraveling is already an evident fact of life in several different parts of the world. Moreover, substantial and sudden extensions of this perilous condition to other far-flung parts of our planet are both plausible and probable.

International law will not save Israel. Assorted treaty expectations notwithstanding, including President Barack Obama’s still unratified New Start agreement, nuclear and biological weapons may soon spread uncontrollably. Perhaps even in utterly unseen increments, these “unthinkable” weapons would then quickly become thinkable.

There are foreseeable interactions between individual catastrophic harms, so-called synergies, that could make the existential risks of global chaos even more pressing.

From the specific standpoint of Israel, the dangers are both particular and unique. Facing not only a growing nuclear threat from Iran, but also the more or less simultaneous appearance of Palestine, the Jewish State could find itself engulfed in mass-casualty terrorism, and/or in unconventional war. As to any long-promised security assistance from the United States, President Obama could offer little more than compassionate American help in burying the myriad dead.

The probability of genuine Middle East chaos could be enlarged by conceivable instances of enemy irrationality. If Israel should begin to face a Jihadi adversary that values certain presumed religious expectations more highly than even its own physical survival, Israel’s deterrent could be immobilized. This could mean a heightened threat of nuclear and/or biological war. As I have written here before, it might also place Israel in the recognizable cross hairs of mass-destruction terrorism.

“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed,” says the poet W.B. Yeats, “and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.” Now assembled in almost two hundred armed tribal camps properly called nation-states, all peoples coexist uneasily and insecurely on a plainly anarchic planet. The core origins of this decentralized world lie in the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which put a codified end to the Thirty Years War. But now, anarchy is far more portentous than ever before, owing to the unprecedented fusion of chaos with authentically apocalyptic weaponry.

In time, even with the United Nations and its associated “international community,” there will be no safety in arms, no rescues from political authority, and no reassuring answers from science. New wars may rage until every flower of culture is trampled, and until all things human are leveled in a vast and primal disorder.

In history and world politics, anarchy is a very old story. Chaos, however, is not. There is a distinctly meaningful difference.

Chaos and anarchy actually represent opposite end points of the same continuum.Perversely, mere anarchy, or the absence of central world authority, is “normal.” Chaos, however, is sui generis. It is thoroughly “abnormal.”

Since the seventeenth century, our anarchic world is best described as a system. What happens in any one part of this world, therefore, necessarily affects what happens in some or all of the other parts. When a deterioration is marked, and begins to spread from one nation to another, the corrosive effects can undermine regional and international stability. When this deterioration is rapid and catastrophic, as it would be following the start of any unconventional war and/or unconventional terrorism, the corollary effects would be correspondingly immediate and overwhelming. These effects would be chaotic.

Aware that even an incremental collapse of remaining world authority structures will impact its friends as well as its enemies, leaders of the Jewish State will need to advance certain precise and plausible premonitions of collapse in order to chart durable paths to survival. Such indispensable considerations are likely not yet underway. Instead, the only paths under serious consideration seem to be the badly potholed highways of President Obama’s road map.

Israel’s leaders are now wasting precious time with their polite considerations of twisted and clichéd American cartographies. Soon, they will need to consider how they should respond to international life in a global state of nature.The specific triggering mechanism of our disordered world’s descent into chaos could originate from a variety of different mass-casualty attacks against Israel, or from similar attacks against other western democracies. Even the traditionally “powerful” United States would not be immune to this starkly remorseless vulnerability.

Chaotic disintegration of the world system would, among other things, transform the Israeli system. Such a transformation could involve total or near-total destruction. In anticipation, Israel will have to orient its strategic planning to an assortment of worst-case prospects, now focusing much more deliberately on a wide range of primarily self-help security options.

For Israel, if it wishes to survive, certain prominent diplomatic processes of peacemaking that are conveniently but erroneously premised on “scientific” assumptions of reason and rationality will have to be renounced.

Israel’s persistently one-sided surrender of territories, its mistaken reluctance to accept certain critical preemption options, and its periodic releases of live terrorists in exchange for slain Jews may never bring about direct defeat. Taken together, however, these synergistic policy errors will have a cumulatively weakening effect on Israel. Whether the principal effect here will be one that “merely” impairs the Jewish State’s commitment to endure, or one that also opens it up operationally to a devastating missile attack, and/or to major acts of terror, is still not clear.

For Israel, anarchy and disorder are inevitable. What might still be avoided, however, are chaos, mega-destruction and early sorrow.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on terrorism and nuclear security matters. Born in Zürich, Switzerland, and Chair of Project Daniel (Israel), he is the author of ten books on international relations and international law, including some of the earliest major works on Israel’s nuclear strategy. Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs analyst for The Jewish Press.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/disorder-and-early-sorrow-israels-special-vulnerability-to-global-chaos/2011/01/19/

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