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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Menachem Begin’

PM Netanyahu: ‘Gaza is Iran’s Forward Position’

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

In a speech before the Knesset on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tied the the recent rocket attacks emanating from Gaza to the Iran threat, saying that “Gaza is Iran’s forward position.”

Netanyahu was speaking at a special Knesset session, called after 40 MKs signed a bill requiring the prime minister to give an accounting to the legislature. The session was titled “The political, economical and social failures of Netanyahu’s government.”

The Prime Minister used the opportunity to launch an offensive against his political opponents, lambasting them for the 2005 disengagement from Gaza: “Iran was let into Gaza, but it wasn’t we that let Iran into Gaza, it was you.”

Netanyahu said that Iran had taken over the Gaza Strip through its proxy, Hamas, and that Iran – not the Palestinians – is “the dominant element driving events in Gaza…Iran is building the infrastructures, Iran provides the money, and and in many cases Iran gives the orders.”

Referring to the divergent positions between Israel and the US regarding the imminence of the Iranian threat and the prudence of a military strike, he said that the US was unequivocal in its support for “Israel’s right to be able to defend itself by itself.” Nevertheless, he said he would act to protect Israel with or without US support, evoking former Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s decision to bomb Iraq’s reactor in 1981: “He was well aware of the international scrutiny – including from the United States and President Reagan, but he nevertheless fulfilled his duty.”

The Prime Minister also brushed aside claims that he was focusing on the Iran issue in order to avoid making peace with the Palestinians, saying that “it would be a dangerous illusion to think that such an agreement would stop Iran and its proxies.”

Ethiopian Community Gets Well-Wishes from PM

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a holiday greeting to the Ethiopian community in honor of the upcoming Sigd holiday, which is celebrated on the 29th of the Jewish month of Heshvan – this year, November 26:

“My brothers, members of the Ethiopian community in Israel, I would like to greet you on the Sigd festival, the special holiday for the Ethiopian community, that symbolizes the covenant and the yearning to return to the Land of Israel.

While you have been celebrating this holiday for hundreds of years, it has received a different significance upon your return to the Land of Israel.  Naturally, you have continued to celebrate it here, as we all celebrate the Jewish holidays.  I am especially proud that the Knesset has adopted the Sigd festival as an official holiday like all of our holidays from the various communities, which together constitute the mosaic of the tribes of Israel.

Almost 30 years have passed since the beginning of the large scale immigration of the Ethiopian community and alongside prime ministers such as Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, I am proud to have had – and still have – the privilege of bringing members of the community to Israel and to see to their social welfare, their absorption and their becoming part of Israeli society.

I know that the way to the State of Israel and absorption in it has not always been easy and even today members of the community are finding certain things difficult, and we are trying to help them.  However, integration has been impressive and it is encouraging; it gives the essence to this idea of returning to Zion and combining the absorption of the tribes of Israel.

We will continue to work towards the absorption and strengthening of the Ethiopian community in Israel and we will continue to celebrate our holiday, the Sigd festival.”

Sigd is celebrated 50 days after Yom Kippur and symbolizes the acceptance of the Ethiopian Jewish community – also known as Beta Israel – of the Torah.

How Low We Have Fallen

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

It seems like almost yesterday when, after the Camp David accords initiated by President Carter, former Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin, a”h, told me, “Rebbetzin, I have just returned from an American concentration camp. The pressure that President Carter exerted upon me was greater than anyone can imagine. And then, to top it off, he wanted to put Jerusalem on the bargaining table as well. When I vehemently objected, he tried to reassure me by telling me that we would not be negotiating, but merely ‘discussing’ Jerusalem.” After all, the president added, ‘There’s no harm in discussing.’

“To explain my position, I related to the president the story of the U’Nesaneh Tokef prayer that we recite on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.”

And that which Menachem Begin related to President Carter speaks to us more powerfully today than ever before.

The prayer itself was composed by the eminent sage, Rabbi Amnon, who lived about 1,000 years ago in Mainz, Germany. The Bishop of Mainz, who was the most powerful man in the city, befriended Rabbi Amnon and tried to prevail upon him to convert, but Rabbi Amnon consistently rebuffed all pleadings. Despite all his imprecations and promises of riches as well as threats of terrible consequences, Rabbi Amnon stood strong as a rock in his faith in Hashem and loyalty to Torah.

On one occasion, however, the bishop’s exhortations became so intense, so overbearing that, just to obtain a little respite, Rabbi Amnon asked to be given three days to consider the matter. No sooner did Rabbi Amnon depart from the bishop’s palace, than he was overcome by terrible anguish. A torturous question kept repeating itself in his mind, heart, and soul. “How? How could I have said that? What if future generations who hear of this conclude that I succumbed to pressure and considered conversion for even a second? How could I have fallen so low?”

For the next three days, Rabbi Amnon prayed, fasted, and wept and no one could console him. When the appointed time passed and Rabbi Amnon did not return to the palace of the bishop, soldiers came to fetch him and forcibly took him away.

“Why didn’t you come?” the bishop demanded menacingly.

Everyone in the chamber waited with baited breath for Rabbi Amnon’s response and they were shocked to hear him say in a determined, powerful voice, “Your Honor, allow me to pronounce my own punishment for not having come. This tongue that spoke falsehood and said that I would consider conversion, has to be severed. Please know that never for a moment was that even a possibility for me.”

In a fury, the Bishop responded, “Your tongue spoke correctly, but your feet that did not bring you here acted treacherously… and he immediately ordered his henchmen to cut off Rabbi Amnon’s feet joint by joint, toe by toe… and after each barbaric amputation the question was repeated: “Are you willing to convert?”

But Rabbi Amnon resisted the torture and would not relent, so the bishop ordered that the same be done to his hands and fingers. Thus mutilated and crippled, Rabbi Amnon was sent home in a wheelbarrow with his severed limbs at his side.

It was a few days before Rosh Hashanah, and when the great awesome day arrived, Rabbi Amnon asked to be taken to shul. As the congregation got ready to recite the holy Kedushah, Rabbi Amnon requested to be taken to the Holy Ark and there, in a trembling voice, he composed and recited the U’Nesaneh Tokef prayer – and with those words, his pure soul returned to its Creator.

A few days later, Rabbi Amnon appeared in a dream to Rabbi Kalonymus ben Meshulam, a great Torah scholar in Mainz. In the dream, Rabbi Amnon taught him the prayer and asked that it be sent to all Jewish communities – and today, it is an integral part of the High Holy Days liturgy.

It was that story through which Menachem Begin explained to President Carter why he could not even discuss Jerusalem. “For if I did,” Prime Minister Begin continued, “I too would have the same fate as Rabbi Amnon.”

That story seems to have occurred eons ago. Today, the Israeli prime minister is not only willing to discuss Jerusalem, but he has indicated his readiness to give away a great part of it – and the silence of our people is deafening. How could we have fallen so low in such a short period of time?

As I write these words, yet another incident comes to mind. Soon after the Six- Day War, I was in Hebron, the city of our holy Patriarchs and Matriarchs. At that time, I had a little discussion with a local Arab. “This land,” he claimed, “belongs to us,” and to prove his point, he said, “Your own King Solomon would agree. When the two mothers came to Solomon claiming ownership of the same baby, Solomon decreed that the baby be cut in half. One of the women cried out ‘No!’ to which Solomon responded, ‘She is the real mother.’

“We,” the Arab said, “will never allow our land to be cut up. We will fight to the end until we get it back – but you are willing to see it sliced up and given away. So you see, it is our land, not yours.”

Already, in the wake of the Six-Day War this policy of giving away our G-d- given land started. The logic behind it was that the Arabs would appreciate our generosity and live with us in harmony. And the secularists argued that we didn’t really need those religious places. History however, has proven that not only have they failed to be grateful, but on the contrary, with every “giveaway” their violence has increased, their hatred has intensified, and today their determination to wipe Israel off the map has become their official policy and unabashedly, they proclaim it to the entire world. As for us, we have learned nothing. We keep returning to the same self-destructive bargaining table – and now it is Yehudah, Shomron, and Yerushalayim that are on the “giveaway.”

What will it take to wake up our nation? How far do we have to fall before we come to appreciate the gift that Hashem gave us at Sinai – the gift which proclaims that Torah, the Jewish People, the Land of Israel chad hu – are one.

May Hashem have mercy on all of us and despite ourselves seal us in the Book of Life and Blessing. Kesivah v’chasimah tovah to all our readers and Klal Yisrael.

Migron First

Wednesday, January 28th, 2004

In Israel, when a politician wants to label the start of a process, he often uses the concept “. . . first!” In other words, let’s start “here” and see what happens. If it works out, then we will continue the process.

Who would have believed just a few short years ago that Arik Sharon, a right-wing leader, would be willing to make one-sided concessions to expel Jews from their homes, without anything in return from our enemies? It is funny to me that even Shimon Peres has expressed opposition to Sharon’s one-sided concessions.

Everyone railed against Rechavam Zeevi (HY”D) when he suggested transferring Arabs from their homes in order to make Israel a safer country. It was considered inhumane, unjust and prejudiced. Yet, when Sharon openly plans to expel Jews from their homes, it is considered just, democratic and reasonable.

What is Migron? Four years ago, several families fulfilled their dream of setting up a  community on a hillside. The community is a young vibrant settlement made up of workers, soldiers and Torah scholars who joined together to establish a town of Torah Jews. Today more than 40 families live in Migron.

The evil decree that threatens to evict them from their homes hit them suddenly. With sadness but with implicit faith in Hashem, they have decided to passively defend their homes against this decree in the hope that the decree will be rescinded. They have called upon Jews from around the country to join them in their struggle.

Migron is just a trial balloon floated by the Likud government that has brazenly abandoned all of its Zionistic principles and promises. It is fear of America and of Europe that is propelling these tired leaders to take unilateral steps of capitulation. Migron is the first step in a process that will lead to a true “transfer” of Jews out of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. If the dismantling of Migron succeeds, my community and many others like it will be in jeopardy.

The dismantling of the city of Yamit near the Sinai by a previous Likud government was heralded as the beginning of “peace” with Egypt and the other Arab states. Menachem Begin was fooled by American and European “guarantees” into making concessions and he believed that it was the beginning of a new era of peace and prosperity. What peace? Which
prosperity? All we see are continuous condemnations and repeated attempts to undermine Israel and throw us out of the UN.

What will be the result of the pillaging and sacking of Migron? Will Arafat move even one
centimeter closer to reducing terror, or will he be encouraged to keep up the terror because it gets results? Will this “transfer” result in peace, stability and prosperity, or is it just the beginning of another horrifying process of displacing Jews from their homes?

What kind of gesture is the self-destruction of Jewish communities? Migron is a blossoming
community, not empty caravans. Is American pressure so strong and so intimidating that Sharon is being forced to knuckle under? Has Sharon become so afraid that he has forgotten what it is to lead?

One-sided concessions! What a pleasant term for such a mistaken idea. When have the Arabs made any concessions? Maybe we should insist that the United States make one-sided concessions to Saddam Hussein? Why is no one calling for the US to negotiate with Saddam? He is still the only legal governor of Iraq. No one has replaced him legally, yet. Why is
Arafat greeted as a hero by all of Europe?

I guess Arafat chose his enemies well. When Jews are the victims, the non-Jewish world calls for negotiations with the terrorists. They call for concessions and for understanding. When non-Jews are the victims, America will rush in with blazing guns and no thought of concessions, negotiations or concern for collateral damage.

Unfortunately, we again are seeing an older generation of Jewish leaders who have become fearful and meek and who cannot handle the international pressure that is aimed at any Jewish success. If Migron is first, will Bet El, Hashmonaim and Kiryat Sefer be next? All of us (G-d forbid) are in danger of being evicted from our homes. Forty nice Jewish families are about to lose their homes. They are about to be expelled and “transferred” for political reasons.
What do you plan to do about it? Will we be silent, again?

Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com.

Mike Wallace, Loathsome Again

Wednesday, July 10th, 2002

Readers will recall that a few months back the Monitor had words of uncharacteristic praise for Mike Wallace, who had just conducted an interview with Yasir Arafat that was far more skeptical than the fawning media treatment usually accorded the Palestinian leader.

Alas, the Monitor must report that the “60 Minutes” mainstay has reverted to his familiar pro-Palestinian stance with alarming alacrity. As if to make up for that momentary lapse with Arafat in Ramallah, Wallace has been doing the PLO proud on a recent round of radio talk-show appearances and, most strikingly, during a media forum at Washington’s Brookings Institution.

It was at the latter event that Wallace’s animosity toward Israel was made transparently clear, and more than once. First, the forum’s co-moderator, Stephen Hess of Brookings, brought up an interview Wallace had done with the late Menachem Begin. (Co-moderator Marvin Kalb of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center at least offered a theoretical defense of Begin, though he was quick to point out that he himself did not necessarily agree with it.)

Hess: You asked [Begin] whether he, thirty years ago, was not the Yasir Arafat of today.

Wallace: That’s correct.

Hess: And what did he say?

Wallace: ….He was stunned and angry at me. But the fact of the matter is that Menachem Begin and the people of the Stern Gang were terrorists back then in their efforts to find themselves a free Israel. It infuriated him to be compared with Yasir Arafat, but if you look into the history of what Menachem Begin did, it is not, to some degree, dissimilar.

Kalb: Let me pick that up. It’s kind of interesting you raise the point. Begin took action … against the people who were governing the land he wanted. Arafat took action by hijacking airplanes … filled with people who had nothing to do with the land that he wanted for a Palestine. So it seems to me that one could argue – I wouldn’t, but one could argue ? that the question is totally unfair and ahistorical.

Wallace: He made his point and let’s move ahead. [Laughter]

Having airily dismissed Kalb’s observations without even a perfunctory rebuttal, Wallace settled in for some relatively innocuous chit-chat. And then came a question from an audience member about how, in the wake of Sept. 11, American journalists were coping with the pressure of balancing patriotism with objectivity. Though the questioner mentioned neither Israel nor the Palestinians, here’s how Wallace chose to respond (Marvin Kalb, to his credit, again attempted to interject some balance):

Wallace: I will say, for instance, would it be unpatriotic if I were to do a story about the Palestinians, let’s say, and say about the Palestinians, hey, you know something?….these people who are blowing themselves up have spent the last 30 years…living in refugee camps, living in abominable conditions. Even some of the, and there’s fear of this in Israel now, some of the Palestinians who live inside Israel itself are treated as second or third class citizens. Whether it’s schools, tours, roads, etc. This is well known….When you go to, I was in Ramallah to talk to Arafat two months ago. When you realize that they cannot go from one Arab place to another in the West Bank ?

Kalb: They can go.

Wallace: They can go? They can go, Marvin, but they cannot go the way you that even you and I might be able to go. They are stopped, they are searched, they are regarded as guilty until proved innocent. It is impossible – it is impossible – I know that this is absolutely true. The Israelis have seen to it that there is no real body of Palestine, so to speak, there is not sufficient ability to go from one, from Jenin to Bethlehem to Ramallah to whatever.

All I’m suggesting is that a suicide bomber is giving up his or her life to a certain degree because of brain wash – to a certain degree because – And if you – We tried to tell those stories, we tried to tell that story…. I do not believe, I don’t think that we fully understand here in America, and particularly in the Palestinian/ Israeli business, we don’t understand the situation over there sufficiently.

(Continued Next Week)

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Caveat Emptor

Friday, June 22nd, 2001
There’s a new book out that, due to its subject matter, is certain to attract the interest of many a Monitor reader. Be warned, however, that the book in question – “Irreconcilable Differences” The Waning of the American Jewish Love Affair with Israel? – is a truly awful piece of work, hardly worth the time and effort of anyone who doesn’t get paid to review such a wretched endeavor.  Not, mind you, that the Monitor fails to recognize the need for a book that takes an intelligent, comprehensive and objective look at the evolving relationship between Israel and American Jews. Unfortunately, “intelligent, comprehensive and objective” is not the type of book that Steven T. Rosenthal, an associate professor of history at the University of Hartford, has written.What he’s given us instead is a tendentious, sloppy, error-filled volume that fast-forwards through a century’s worth of history, with particular emphasis on the years 1977-2000. That he does it all in just 197 pages should in itself serve as something of a red flag; a topic this rich and complex would seem to require more than a Cliff’s Notes level of treatment.

Where to begin with this mess? You want mistakes? Rosenthal makes plenty of them, leaving one to wonder whether any knowledgeable person at Brandeis University Press actually read the manuscript before its publication.

What is there to say about a history professor who repeatedly misspells the names of Nahum Goldmann – a central figure in Zionist history – and Elie Wiesel – surely one of the most famous Jews alive today – throughout his book?

And what is one to think of a history professor who throughout his text botches the name of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations? It certainly is a mouthful of a name, but the organization it belongs to does, after all, play a seminal role in the story Rosenthal purports to tell.Or how about a history professor who in one part of his book incorrectly places the signing of the Oslo accords in October 1993, while in another part correctly places it in September of that year? A history professor who has the historic mass expulsion of Palestinians from Jordan into Lebanon taking place in 1971, when in fact it occurred in 1970?Beyond his carelessness with facts, Rosenthal makes some claims that are questionable at best, as when he describes Menachem Begin as having been “personally Orthodox.” (Begin did have an abiding appreciation for Jewish customs and culture, but to call him “Orthodox” is such a stretch that it almost constitutes an assault on truth.)

Rosenthal’s lack of objectivity is one more factor that renders this book an exercise in futility. It’s one thing to present so slanted a version of history if one is writing a polemic on behalf of one position or another, but this book is billed as a “full-scale examination of the nature and development of the American Jewish response to Israel.”Just how unsubtle is Rosenthal’s subjectivity? Let’s see: he simplistically describes Vladimir Jabotinsky as someone who “emphasized the importance of power over morality”; he decries what he calls Israel’s “troubling growth of racism embodied in Menachem Begin’s reference to Palestinians as “beasts with two legs” (never mind that Begin was in fact referring to PLO terrorists); and he swooningly describes the first intifada as perhaps “the most important event in the past twenty-five years of Israeli history….that the rioters could not be intimidated was unprecedented. Troops sent to put them down faced stones and rocks thrown by otherwise unarmed teenagers, who refused to disperse and bared their chests, daring the soldiers to shoot them.”And so goes the tone of this one-sided tract masquerading as straight history. But then, if straight history were what this book’s publishers really wanted, Rosenthal was never suited to the task. As he recently admitted to an interviewer at Salon.com, “in an Israeli context, I would be in the “Peace Now” camp.” Now he tells us.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/caveat-emptor-3/2001/06/22/

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