Israel Police have announced that the Temple Mount will be closed to Jews this coming Sunday, the eve of Rosh Hashana.
Temple Mount activists condemned the decision, which they called another “surrender to the terrorists.”
A police notice tacked on the door to the Temple Mount Thursday morning said: “As is done each year, the Temple Mount will be closed to visitors on Rosh Hashana HaHajira, the Al-Hijra (1Muharram) New Year’s Day.
Al-Hijra, marks the Hegira in 622 CE, when the prophet Mohammed, founder of Islam, moved from Mecca to Medina and established the first Islamic state, marking the beginning of Islam as a monotheistic community.
It is celebrated as the Islamic New Year, but doesn’t rate as high as the two major religious festivals on the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. According to the BBC, there are no specific religious rituals required on this day.
Nevertheless, this coming Sunday evening also marks the start of the Jewish new year and is the second holiest day on the Hebrew calendar, surpassed only by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, 10 days later.
Jews consider this a time of sanctification, rededication and renewal. For the Israeli government to decide to close the holiest site in all Judaism to Jews on this day, in deference to Muslim sensitivities, is a grave move indeed.
It is important to note, however, that the Temple Mount will be open to allow Jews to visit during the Rosh Hashana holiday itself, during regular visiting hours.
Israeli Knesset members and government ministers are not allowed to ascend to the Temple Mount at any time whatsoever, under a directive of the prime minister.
I was born and raised in the USA, the United States of America. And in the second half of the twentieth century, post-World War Two, it was very much a Christian country. The Jewish population was an extremely vocal minority, and if there were any other religions, one rarely if ever heard from them. And although there certainly were quite a few races other than Caucasian aka white, standards of beauty were primarily WASP, emphasizing straight, light-colored hair, small nose, light eyes, thin eyebrows and oval faces. Shoes were made for narrow feet, and the classic sheath dress was most flattering on narrow hips.
When I took on Jewish Sabbath observance and couldn’t take important standardized tests on Saturdays, at least others had already successfully fought that battle, and there were places designated for Sunday testing, PSAT, SAT, College Boards etc.
After Thanksgiving, public places and public schools were decorated for Christmas, even including religious Nativity scenes. And schools had very Christian religious assemblies/pageants. That is until the local Jewish populations got strong and confident enough to stop it. Sometimes all that was done as a “change” was to add a dreidel and Chanukah Menorah to the Nativity Scene and sing “Dreidel Made Out of Clay” along with “Silent Night.”
And many localities which have never had much of a Jewish presence, things never changed. They stayed unabashedly Christian.
Now, America is changing. Local authorities, schools and universities have to deal with the fact that there is religious diversities and the “minorities” aren’t willing to stay silent or quietly assimilate. Isn’t it all so deja vu? That’s how I felt when I saw the following:
I, personally, solved the dilemma by becoming more Jewish and not trying to live in two separate worlds simultaneously. I also moved to Israel, where not only are the Jewish Holidays the official ones, but the shoes are wider, too.
A golem (Heb: Shapeless lump) is a creature formed out of a dust or mud that’s brought to life by ritual incantations and sequences of Hebrew letters on a scroll dumped into its mouth. In Jewish lore, after it has been brought to life by a human creator, the golem becomes a helper, a companion, or a rescuer of an imperiled Jewish community. In many golem stories, as in the later Frankenstein tales, the creature runs amok and becomes a threat to its creator.
The myth of artificial life – from homunculi and cyborgs to robots and androids – is the focus of an extensive thematic exhibition about the golem at the Jewish Museum Berlin. This most prominent of Jewish legendary figures has inspired generations of artists and writers to this day.
“Our exhibition presents the golem from a variety of perspectives, from its inception in a Jewish mystical ritual to its role as a subject of popular storytelling in film and its afterlife in artistic and digital realms,” says a museum press release. “The golem symbolizes each era’s dreaded dangers and hopes for redemption. The exhibition uses the golem figure to examine topics like creativity, creation, power, and redemption.”
The exhibition demonstrates the thematic richness of the material, as is apparent from medieval manuscripts, many-layered narratives, and works of art from the last two hundred years. Whether in painting, sculpture, object art, video, installation art, photography, or illustration, the golem is very much alive and, with it, the question of what it means to be human.
The exhibition is being held at the Jewish Museum Berlin’s Old Building, level 1, Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin, September 23, 2016 to January 29, 2017.
A Jewish minor was detained by police on Temple Mount Sunday morning, when he toured the area with a group and was accused of praying to God, which Jews are prohibited from doing there, legal aid society Honenu reported. Honenu attorney Rehavia Piltz is providing legal representation to the minor.
The website FiveThirtyEight, whose Editor in Chief Nate Silver is possibly the most trusted odds maker in North America, published a report Wednesday suggesting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is being abandoned by Jewish donors. To measure the relationship between Republicans and Jewish supporters, FiveThirtyEight took in data about campaign contributors, because there’s no other reliable way to measure Jewish voting, seeing as Jews make less than 2% of the US population, so that in a representative sample of 1,000 Americans, which is the accepted norm, you get about 20 people who say they are Jewish, and so pollster don’t really have enough to work with on Jewish voters, except for their donations. The AJC poll released last week claimed to offer reliable information on Jewish voter behavior, but one poll does not a reliable behavior reflect.
The FiveThirtyEight authors were hoping that Studying Jewish political contributors would offer a “useful signal,” because, while they may be an insignificant percentage of the population, Jews make up a much larger share of campaign contributors. So that if one discerned a significant swing in their donation behavior, one might assume the entire tribe is reacting in a similar fashion.
So they looked at every contribution of more than $200 to a federal candidate, in data provided by Catalist, a political data vendor which offers reasonably reliable estimates on whether a US voter is Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, Hindu, Buddhist or other. Jews are easier to verify this way, because they often have recognizable names and live in geographic clusters. Yes, Upper West Siders, we mean you, but we don’t mean you, former Senator William Cohen of Maine.
Now the results: in 2012, about 70% of Jewish money and Jewish votes (the total given was $160 million) went to President Obama. But in 2016, out of the $95 million given to presidential campaigns so far by Jewish donors, according to FiveThirtyEight, 84% went to Democrats, only 16% to Republicans, including all 16 losers in the primaries. Meanwhile, discounting the Jewish money donated to primary losers, 95% of all Jewish contributions went to Clinton.
But here is the result that’s the most devastating in terms of Jewish support for Trump: as a percentage of all contributors, Jews made up 18% of Obama’s donors and 7% of Romney’s donors in 2012. In 2016, 20% of Clinton’s donors are probably Jewish, only 3% of Trump’s donors have stood at Mount Sinai.
With such a dramatic shift in numbers, assuming they are reliable (having been following Nate Silver for a while, we believe they are), we can’t discount as “leftists” all the Jews who are sending their $200 donations to Clinton, because they probably aren’t. It’s safer to say that Donald Trump has yet to convince Jewish voters that they can trust him as leader of the free world. They barely trust Hillary, for that matter.
The stirring words of democracy in the preamble to the United States Constitution – “We the People” – comprise one of the most iconic expressions of freedom in human history, as powerful in their emphatic proclamation as they are meaningful in their eloquent brevity.
The words gallantly symbolize love of liberty, hatred of tyranny, and the governing of a free and fair society by honorable jurisprudence. Perhaps no other phrase has come to define the embrace of liberty and what it means to stand together as a collective group to ensure the interests of the commonality.
That illustrious phrase is so ingrained in the public mind that it is part of the popular vernacular. Indeed, “We the people” can be utilized by any group as a statement of principle and purpose. Applied to the Jewish people it would go something like this:
We the Jewish People are a proud people, a righteous people, a humane people, who have survived thousands of years of persecution and suffering to carry on our wondrous heritage and pass on the inextinguishable torch of Judaism to the future children of Israel.
Being Jewish is in our bone and marrow, our heart and soul, and our bond to our Jewish religion is everlasting and indestructible.
We are a people of many voices but we are a people of one family. We want nothing more than to live in peace and to be friend and ally to those who accept us as such and to join amicably with other peaceful nations to help make the world a better place.
We wish not only to enrich the world as a people but to join with others in helping those in need everywhere. Sadly, the loathsome filament of hatred continues to encircle the globe and much work is needed to dissolve its coarse threads.
There are those who would like to see our demise. To them we say:
History shows you can stifle us, ostracize us, expel us, torture us, even murder us in incomprehensible numbers, but we always surmount tragedies to revivify and come back more determined and steadfast than ever to practice our beloved faith and enjoy basic inalienable human rights while acting as a light unto the nations – the light being the teachings and doctrines of our eternal Torah.
We the Jewish People shall never be shackled in pursuing our faith and in our continuous worship of the Creator of the universe. Our Jewish light will only glow brighter and brighter over time.
We are the Hebrew nation, strong and resilient, vibrant and compassionate, moral and fair. To us, life is our most precious gift from God. We try to always be compassionate and empathetic, charitable and benevolent. We endeavor to follow our sacred commandments, to lead righteous lives, to be a beacon of rectitude unto others.
Of course, we are not a perfect people. As humans we have faults and foibles, follies and flaws, just as all other mere mortals, but we always strive to be the best Jews and citizens we can possibly be.
We are of a people of God that reaches back over 3,000 years. We are the children of the Israelites – of our ancestors who settled in the land of Canaan, now Israel; of those who received the Torah on Mount Sinai; of the brave Maccabees; of those who were slaughtered at Betar and in the Inquisition and the Holocaust; of those who valiantly fought for the modern state of Israel.
Our Jewish history is a history that is at once magnificent and tragic, but after all the years, after all the persecutions, massacres, and near annihilations of our ancestors, We the Jewish People are still here, which is no small miracle just as the modern state of Israel is no small miracle.
We are a people who, though scattered around the world, love and support the Jewish homeland. For those of us who do not live there, Israel is – and always will be – our spiritual home.
We the Jewish People are one people under one God Who lights the path we walk on. And with all of the above in mind we know our epic journey will end in triumph, and that before that grand and glorious time there will be many more heroic stories of We the Jewish People.
Those of us who care about the well-being of Israel are part of a movement.
We no longer generally think of it in such terms because Zionism fulfilled itself in 1948 and over the decades Jewish supporters of Israel have lost that sense of solidarity – that movement sensibility – that made the reestablishment of Israel possible to begin with.
What I am calling the “Movement for Jewish Freedom” is an attempt to reengage Zionism as a political movement grounded in solidarity with other groups who share common interests.
I imagine it as a subset of the movement for indigenous rights which, itself, is a subset of the international movement for the maintenance of liberal-democracies.
The Movement for Jewish Freedom is highly individualistic, fiercely idiosyncratic, and entirely non-partisan. It includes people as diverse from one another as Pamela Geller is from Alan Dershowitz.
Because the ideal of liberal-democracy is, by necessity, at the core of the Movement for Jewish Freedom it must oppose Islamic jurisprudence (al-Sharia). The reason for that is because al-Sharia is non-democratic and, according to its central precepts, must strip women, Gay people, and Infidels (kuffar) of their most basic civil liberties… often in a grotesquely violent manner.
Jewish Freedom Under the Umbrella of Liberal-Democracy and Indigenous Rights
Many people who come out of the progressive-wing of the movement will squirm at notions like the necessity to “maintain liberal-democracies throughout the world.” It will resonate as right-wing in a sort-of vaguely amorphous manner for many people. The word “neo-con” will quickly come to mind for some.
When I poke around the alleys and byways of the pro-Israel movement, however, I do not see much desire to impose liberal-democracy onto parts of the world that do not want it. This is a matter of culture. Some cultures are open to liberal-democracy and some are not. Liberal-democracy cannot be imposed upon cultures that do not want it, because then it would no longer be liberal democracy, now would it?.
Nonetheless, under the larger umbrella of liberal-democracy stands the movement for indigenous rights.
The movement for Jewish rights, in our ancestral homeland, is just one part of the much larger series of indigenous struggles throughout the world. The movement for the maintenance of liberal-democracy is key to indigenous rights because it is only through liberal-democratic systems that indigenous rights can be pursued as a matter of social justice. While the wheels of justice may grind slowly in the liberal-democratic West, at least they grind. In non-democratic systems, such as those bowing to Islamic law, submission is enforced through state violence. You get no discussion under these terms.
What you get are cracked skulls, wretched prisons, and torture.
A rising star within the Movement for Jewish Freedom, and a stalwart defender of indigenous rights, is Ryan Bellerose. Bellerose, a Métis from Canada – and the lone, sole American-style football playing, Native-American Zionist in the history of the universe – makes the point that Jewish people who care about the well-being of Israel would do well to embrace our own sense of indigeneity because we are, in fact, the only people on the planet with anything resembling a claim to indigenous status in that tiny part of the world.
Indeed, our ancestors lived and built and fought and made families in the Land of Israel for at least 3,500 years.
Our presence there well precedes the development of formal history. Thus to refer to the Arab invaders, who marched upon Judea and Samaria millennia later, as “indigenous” is to spit in the face of history.
I would submit to you that in order for the Movement for Jewish Freedom to advance toward its goal of Jewish autonomy on historically Jewish land – free from perpetual jihadi harassment and the constant screeching for genocide that so often comes out of the mosques – then we need to embrace our own sense as an indigenous people, among other indigenous people, fighting for rights of autonomy upon our own land.
As Bellerose has written, and I paraphrase, it is not merely a matter of standing on our tippy-toes, waving our hands in the air, and saying, “Hey! We’re indigenous, too!” Instead, we need to politically engage with other indigenous peoples in a direct manner.
This will be difficult for many pro-Jewish / pro-Israel advocates because we do not generally think of ourselves in such terms and because the Palestinian-Arabs have already claimed that slot. But they have done so in a demonstrably false manner and we need always be ready to point this out.
In short, we need to stand with other indigenous peoples struggling for autonomy within liberal-democratic systems.
Our political opponents often seem comfortable with non-democratic forms of government. We, however, cannot afford to be. Nor, from any ethical perspective, would we want to be.
Some Varieties of Zionist Experience
The Movement for Jewish Freedom is diverse.
It includes Democrats and Republicans and those unregistered with any political party, such as myself. It includes hard-right conservatives and even a few hard-left progressives. (Difficult to imagine, I know.)
We are across-the-board, politically, ethnically, and across religious identities. Most activists in the movement naturally tend to be Jewish people, but some movement activists are not Jewish. Bellerose is clearly not Jewish and neither is another great friend and activist within the movement, Chloe Valdary.
But those who are friendly toward the movement come from all religious backgrounds. The most prominent of these, of course, are American Evangelical Christians who are earnest about Genesis 12:2 and 12:3, which reads:
And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
There are also, of course, plenty of Catholics who believe in Jewish autonomy in the Land of Israel. Plenty of Hindus and Buddhists and Theosophists and Rastafarians and even the random Muslim, or two.
One of the reasons for pro-Israel diversity around the world is disapproval of the jihadi tendencies among some within the Muslim faith. Our friends and supporters often recognize that al-Sharia is not only non-democratic, but highly fascistic in its implementation, thereby creating at least some sympathy for the Jewish people in the Middle East.
Jews and Christians lived as second and third-class non-citizens under the imperial boot of Islamic rule for thirteen centuries until the demise of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. That, I think, was probably more than enough.
Furthermore, of course, al-Sharia is not some noxious, but irrelevant, relic from the past, but is the reality of life for hundreds of millions of people from North Africa to the Arab world, on the continent of Asia, all the way to Jakarta.
Throughout the world all sorts of people from all sorts of different faiths and backgrounds and politics recognize this and are potential allies because they, too, understand that there is something deeply sadistic about any religious legal tradition that advocates, for example, the chopping off of a hand and a foot, from opposite sides of the body, as a form of “justice.”
There are also ex-Muslims, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who oppose Qur’anic law, not to mention self-identified practicing Muslim reformers who acknowledge that Sharia seriously impinges upon the civil liberties of women, Gay people, and all “unbelievers.”
Those of us who actively promote the movement for Jewish rights or Jewish liberty or Jewish freedom (whatever you want to say) include academicians like Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm who edited The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, which, as an aside, includes a piece by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, of the AMCHA Initiative, entitled, “Interrogating the Academic Boycotters of Israel on American Campuses” that I well recommend.
The movement also includes prominent bloggers, such as the Elder of Ziyon, who – when he isn’t plotting with the other Elders to take over first the world and then the rest of the universe – can be found exposing media hypocrisy and the kind of general nonsense that usually swirls around coverage of the Long Arab War Against the Jews.
It also includes artists and musicians, such as Matisyahu, and even much loved cartoonists, like Yaakov Kirschen, the creator of Dry Bones.
But, most importantly, it includes just regular Jews, and regular friends of regular Jews, who do not like the entirely unjust way that Israel is treated by the international community and who do not very much appreciate the kind of long-standing, Koranically-based, hatred and violence that gave us 9/11 and the recent destruction of the ancient city of Palmyra, by the Islamic State (IS), in Syria.
Diaspora Jews, particularly of the left-leaning variety and for perfectly understandable reasons, are deeply uncomfortable with even the notion of “enemy.”
No normal people want enemies. Normal people do not want war or to be forced into a position where they must take action against another people.
Unfortunately, the Jewish people, generation upon generation, century upon century, faced grinding hostility by both Europeans and Arab-Muslims. Thankfully, the Christian peoples have moved beyond institutionalized Jew Hatred and today some of our best friends on the planet come out of the western churches.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of the mosques.
Our enemies include virtually every single Arab government and much (if not most) of their religious leadership.
Our enemies do not include Muslims, in general, but merely those who would subject the rest of us to the mercies of Islamic law.
Furthermore, much of the western-left, almost the entirety of the United Nations, the European Union and the Obama administration, have proven themselves consistently hostile to the well-being of the Jewish people through being consistently hostile to the well-being of the Jewish State.
This hostility is justified on the grounds that Israel is a racist, colonialist, imperialist, apartheid state that has pushed the innocent indigenous population off of their land, while refusing to allow them autonomy in a state of their own on that land.
And that is the “Palestinian Narrative” in a concise form.
In truth, Palestinian-Arab nationalism emerged out of the larger Arab nation as a weapon. At the very core of “Palestinian” identity is the cruel goal of eliminating the Jewish State of Israel. It is their very reason to be as an allegedly distinct people. Hostility toward Israel, and towards Jews, is the glue that binds them and allows them to claim a distinct ethnicity, of sorts.
Because Israel is the Dhimmi that Got Away and the Arabs don’t like it.
Jewish sovereignty on the land of our ancestors is understood not only as a terrible humiliation to the entire Arab nation, but as a direct violation of the will of Allah. Thus Jihad is both obligatory and sacred.
The very existence of Israel flies in the face of Qur’anic imperatives to maintain and expand Dar al-Islam at the expense of all non-Muslims. The dhimmi is supposed to be humiliated upon paying the Jizya – they had to crawl – but it is Israeli Jews who have humiliated their former social superiors, through surviving and thriving in freedom from dhimmitude within the State of Israel.
Meanwhile almost the entire Muslim world wallows in poverty and ignorance, violence and genocide against Zoroastrians and Christians and Yazidis and the Ba’hai, and the constant intra-Muslim warfare between Shia and Sunni… and almost all of this they blame on the West or on the insidious, international “Zionist conspiracy.”
The Arabs, “Palestinian” or otherwise, are not the victims of the Jews.
On the contrary, it is the Jewish minority in the Middle East who have been constantly persecuted by the great Muslim majority in that part of the world from the early 7th century until the present. It is not merely the Palestinian-Arabs, but virtually the entire Arab and Muslim worlds that are perpetually endeavoring to squeeze the Jews out of Israel, by any means necessary. These means include war and violence and intifada, lawfare, international diplomatic aggressions, the movement to Boycott, Divest from, and Sanction Israel (BDS), heritage theft and attempts at heritage obliteration, cognitive warfare (pdf) and Pallywood.
We can break down the contemporary phases of the Long Arab War Against the Jews as follows:
Phase 1, 1920 – 1947: Riots and Massacres
Phase 2, November 1947 – April 1948: The Civil War in Palestine Phase 3, 1948 – 1973: Conventional Warfare Phase 4, 1964 – Present: The Terror War Phase 5, 1975 – Present: The Delegitimization Effort
There is a possibility that we can eventually overcome this perpetual hostility, but it will not come from Israeli concessions because those concessions are always pocketed by the Palestinian-Arabs and then used as the starting point for demands on further concessions.
Instead, we need solidarity among ourselves and among our allies within a political framework that benefits both.