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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘nation’

The European Problem with Zionism

Monday, October 29th, 2012

The always-perceptive Daniel Gordis explains the significance of the ludicrous and stunningly narcissistic decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the dysfunctional European Union:

The Nobel Committee noted that “the dreadful suffering in World War II demonstrated the need for a new Europe.” Who understood that better than the Jews, millions of whom had been exterminated in Germany and Poland with little response from the rest of the world? But as they staggered out of what remained of postwar Europe, the Jews drew conclusions about their future that immediately put them at odds with Europe’s forward-thinkers.

European intellectuals decided that the nation-state was a model that needed to be relegated to the ash heap of history; the Jews, in contrast, decided that the only thing that would avert their continual victimization was creating a nation-state of their own.

So naturally, Gordis continues, the Europeans dislike Jewish nationalism — Zionism — and its concrete realization, Israel:

Thus, the Jewish state, without question the world’s highest-profile example of the ethnic nation-state, emerged onto the international stage just as Europe decided that the model had run its course. That is why historian Tony Judt called Israel “an anachronism,” urging that it be dismantled.

Widespread European disdain for Israel, while certainly fueled by both the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Muslim immigration to Europe, was thus all but inevitable.

Yes, Israel affords civil rights and freedom of worship to its many minorities; but it makes no attempt to deny that there is one specific people, one particular narrative, one religion to which is it most centrally committed. The State of Israel is, to paraphrase Lincoln, “by the Jews, of the Jews and for the Jews.” How could those who labored to create the European Union not consider the very idea of a Jewish state anathema?

Of course, Gordis is right. And not only does the EU’s ideological problem with Israel express itself at the UN and in the EU’s expensive support for the Palestinian cause, but a continuing (and also expensive) attempt to subvert Israel’s democratic government byfunding extreme left-wing NGOs in Israel.

In fact, it’s not only the Europeans, but many who call themselves ‘progressives’ in the US who criticize Israel for its Jewish nationalism, which they wrongly characterize as ‘racism’. Here in America, the Left can put its money where its anti-Zionist mouth is by donating to theNew Israel Fund.

Gordis politely leaves it as an ideological disagreement and goes on to suggest that

Zionism, Israel’s leaders must begin to insist, should not be seen as the last gasp of a discredited worldview, but rather as a millennia-old claim that human difference is noble and that the preservation of ethnic distinctiveness is a deep-seated and natural human aspiration.

I certainly agree, but how can I fail to notice that it is only Jewish nationalism that evokes such a negative reaction on the part of the Europeans and the Left? They don’t seem to have a problem with ethnic homogeneity in countries like Japan (which is now dealing with foreign workers who don’t want to go home in a poor economy), nor to a great extent with the ethnic chauvinism of Arabs, the doctrine of Muslim superiority in Islamic nations, or the real and blatant racism in Saudi Arabia or the Sudan.

No, I’m afraid that there’s more to it than just an ideological disagreement!

Visit FresnoZionism.org.

Vic Rosenthal

Sarah And Hagar

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

A historical drama unfolds before our eyes in this week’s Torah portion. It is a dramatic confrontation whose impact has shaped Jewish history for thousands of years.

Sarah and Hagar, two women – two worlds – faced each other.

On the one hand Sarah, Avraham’s wife and the mistress of the household; on the other, Hagar, the defiant slave girl, Avraham’s concubine, chosen by Sarah as a surrogate mother.

Can you picture yourself in Sarah’s position? Would you be able to make the ultimate sacrifice as Sarah did, elevating her maid to the position of her husband’s concubine for the sake of providing him with an heir, as he so keenly desired?

But Hagar proved less than equal to the task. As soon as she was certain of her pregnancy, Hagar displayed the characteristic arrogance of those who achieve a sudden rise in status without a corresponding growth in dignity.

Of the two women, it was Sarah who emerged victorious from the conflict: she retained her dominant position while Hagar, humiliated, fled to the desert. It was there that Hagar learned through divine prophecy of her destiny to give birth to Yishmael, “v’hoo yihyeh pereh adam, yado bakol v’yad kol bo — and he shall be a savage creature; his hand shall be against every one, and every one’s hand shall be against him.” (Bereshit, 16:12)

This prophetic pronouncement established Yishmael’s propensity for violence and lawlessness and his descendants’ future history as a road map of an incessant war of terror without borders.

The savagery of Arab history, the Muslims’ centuries long, bloody incursions against their neighbors, is well documented. Was fourteenth century Arab historian, Ibn Khaldun echoing the Biblical prophecy when he wrote in his Muqqadima (Introduction to History): “The Arabs are a savage nation… savagery has become their character and nature… it is their nature to plunder whatever other people possess… they are not concerned with laws. It is noteworthy how civilizations always collapsed in places the Arabs took over, and how such settlements were depopulated. The Yemen where the Arabs live is in ruins. The same applies to contemporary Syria.”

Was Susan Hatis Rolef, dovish editor of the Labor Party monthly SPECTRUM, doing the same when she wrote in the Jerusalem Post (August 13, 1990): “But we know, and we have known ever since modern Zionism began over a 100 years ago, that the other nation which inhabits this land has an extremely violent and brutal streak in it, which is part of its cultural heritage and is unlikely to change overnight.”

And yet, I believe, for Hagar the most painful aspect of the Divine revelation was the command to face reality – to return to the civilized world of Avraham’s household and peacefully submit to its laws, accepting Sarah’s rightful, dominant position. Hagar did so and Yishmael was born there, destined however to leave it early for the wilderness, choosing to live by the laws of violent physical force.

In the dramatic confrontation between the two women, Sarah and Hagar, a symbolic pre-enactment of history took place. The sons of Hagar have yet to learn to face the reality of their situation. They have yet to learn to rise above their impulsive nature of savagery and submit to the laws of civilization, where nations respect the possessions of others, and refrain from plundering what is not rightfully theirs. They have yet to acquire a set of values other than violence inherited from historical antecedents.

And the sons of Sarah – is it their destiny to painfully reassert their rights to Avraham’s legacy time and again – or perhaps there will come a time when their survival in this land will not be analogous with reiterated victory.

Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson

Inviting Tragedies?

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

There’s a superstitious thought that when you invite tragedy, it happily walks through the door. A second, more pragmatic view, is that when you prepare for it, you are better able to cope. Israel takes the second view as today we once again take part in the Turning Point 6 nation-wide exercise preparing us not only for earthquakes, but several other disasters.

According to INN, yesterday’s drill included:

The IDF rehearsed an emergency scenario in which an earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale takes place in Eilat at 11:00 a.m. and a second, even stronger quake, subsequently hits northern Israel.

According to the scenario, MDA then receives reports of thousands of buildings collapsing throughout Israel, damage to hospitals, power outages and more.

In addition, the drill included a tsunami wave, a school in ruins, a mass casualty situation on Nahariya’s train station, a crash landing of a jet plane in Eilat, building collapses at Hebrew University and two prisons, a train wreck and more.

The drill had MDA emergency crews treating 2,600 “casualties” throughout Israel, 1,800 of them in moderate to serious condition.

Over two THOUSAND casualties…take a look at this video – it is, in every sense, a real exercise. Yes, there are subtle differences – the soldiers are not running around – many are standing and watching. In a real tragedy, they would likely all be in movement, trying to help where the could. Another difference, the “wounded” soldier on the stretcher was smiling and talking to the other soldiers as they carry him away. These are the faces that calm us as we watch – let them smile. Let them laugh. Please, let it never be real.

<iframe width=”450″ height=”253″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/7khxOxrRzCo” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Paula R. Stern

Crowley’s Interference Saved Obama From Another Shellacking

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Candy Crowley, the moderator of the presidential debate at Hofstra University on October 16,  interfered in this U.S. presidential race in a way no one ever has before and – let’s hope – no one ever will again. Crowley loudly validated President Barack Obama’s version of reality – and contradicted Governor Mitt Romney’s recollection of actual reality – regarding what the president said in the Rose Garden about what happened in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2011.

During the debate President Obama said he called the murder of four Americans an act of terrorism.  Romney said he didn’t.  Crowley said he did.  And Crowley told them they had to move along.

And then the debate did, in fact, move on. And the one opportunity during this debate that voters had to understand what Obama knew, when did he know it, and what did he call it, was lost.

So what did the President say to the American people about the tragedy in Benghazi when he spoke to them from the Rose Garden on September 12?

Obama referred to the violence that killed our compatriots as “an attack.”  He said it three times, “an attack,” and then he referred elliptically – but unmistakably –  to a movie that “denigrated” the religion of Islam, as the cause of that attack.  Four paragraphs into his address, the President said,

Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.  None.  The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.

The words “terrorist acts” were not mentioned until much later, until after the president talked about what happened on “9/11,” the first tragic September 11 in our nation’s history: “Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks.”

Not until the tenth paragraph of a 13 paragraph address did the President say anything about terror.  That was when he said, “no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”

So, the president repeatedly described what happened to Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Dougherty and Tyrone S. Woods as “an attack,” and he clearly and publicly connected the cause of that attack with a movie, The Innocence of Muslims, that enraged some Muslims because they believed it denigrated Islam.

And while the President may have referred to the the murder of Americans in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, as “an act of terror,” his use of the word “terror” was not used to mean terrorism as we have come to understand that term:  as “senseless violence intended to lead to death because of a difference in world view.”   Instead, the President used the term terror, when he finally did, in his address in the Rose Garden on that day because the violence occurred not during a war, and because it was directed against non-combatants.

Is it fair to make that distinction?

That might depend on what you think the meaning of the word “is” is.

 

Here is the transcript from Obama’s now famous Rose Garden speech:

Remarks by the President on the Deaths of U.S. Embassy Staff in Libya

Rose Garden

10:43 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Every day, all across the world, American diplomats and civilians work tirelessly to advance the interests and values of our nation.  Often, they are away from their families.  Sometimes, they brave great danger.

Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  Among those killed was our Ambassador, Chris Stevens, as well as Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith.  We are still notifying the families of the others who were killed.  And today, the American people stand united in holding the families of the four Americans in our thoughts and in our prayers.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.  We’re working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats.  I’ve also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world.  And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.

Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.  None.  The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.

Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya.  Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans.  Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried Ambassador Stevens’s body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died.

It’s especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi because it is a city that he helped to save.  At the height of the Libyan revolution, Chris led our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  With characteristic skill, courage, and resolve, he built partnerships with Libyan revolutionaries, and helped them as they planned to build a new Libya.  When the Qaddafi regime came to an end, Chris was there to serve as our ambassador to the new Libya, and he worked tirelessly to support this young democracy, and I think both Secretary Clinton and I relied deeply on his knowledge of the situation on the ground there.  He was a role model to all who worked with him and to the young diplomats who aspire to walk in his footsteps.

Along with his colleagues, Chris died in a country that is still striving to emerge from the recent experience of war. Today, the loss of these four Americans is fresh, but our memories of them linger on.  I have no doubt that their legacy will live on through the work that they did far from our shores and in the hearts of those who love them back home.

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks.  We mourned with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi.

As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.

But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers.  These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity.  They should give every American great pride in the country that they served, and the hope that our flag represents to people around the globe who also yearn to live in freedom and with dignity.

We grieve with their families, but let us carry on their memory, and let us continue their work of seeking a stronger America and a better world for all of our children.

Thank you.  May God bless the memory of those we lost and may God bless the United States of America.

END   10:48 A.M. EDT

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Major League Judaism

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Browsing through a news website, I noticed that the World Series is just two weeks away. I haven’t followed baseball for 30 years, ever since making aliyah. When I lived in America, and thought I was an American, I loved baseball, like everyone else. But baseball doesn’t interest me anymore. I don’t even know what teams are in the running this year. The World Series has absolutely nothing to do with the Redemption of Am Yisrael, so who cares?

But maybe we can borrow a few metaphors from baseball to help America Jews understand that Judaism in the Diaspora is the Little Leagues. Now that we all can come home to Eretz Yisrael, there’s no reason to remain in the exile, getting all excited about foreign gentile pastimes, cheering gentile center fielders and first basemen who date Hollywood floosies, in a world where one out of a thousand players is a Jew. Let’s face it – Medinat Yisrael is the Yankee Stadium of Jewry and  Jewish life in Israel is the Major Leagues.

For example, everyone knows that the real baseball is the Major League baseball in America. In comparison, baseball in Japan is a laugh. No matter how skilled the players may be, Japanese baseball just doesn’t look real. It’s out of place. Baseball doesn’t belong in Tokyo. At best, it is a poor imitation of the real major leagues, with the unmatchable CRACK of a Louisville Slugger bat pummeling a fastball into the bleachers at Yankee Stadium to the unmatchable ROAR of the crowd and the smell of American hot dogs, spilled beer and roasted peanuts.

Just as Japanese baseball league is a poor imitation of Major League baseball, the Judaism of the Diaspora is a poor imitation of the Judaism of Eretz Yisrael.

As we wrote regarding the holiday of Sukkot, you simply can’t compare Jewish life in Israel versus Jewish life in foreign gentile lands. No matter how much private Yiddishkeit there is in Monsey or Boro Park, it’s the minor leagues compared to the NATIONAL Jewish life of the Land of Israel, which has all of the Yiddishkeit of Boro Park in Bnei Brak and Mea Shearim, plus a thousand things more. This is obvious. No one can argue this. The attention of the entire world is focused on Israel. In comparison, who cares what is going on in Monsey or Melbourne? The real Jewish news is happening here in Israel. When it comes to being a Jew, there is nothing like it at all.

In a letter, Rabbi Kook writes:

The source of the moral baseness which continues to darken the world stems from the lack of recognition regarding the value and wisdom of the Land of Israel. Thus the sin of the Spies, who spoke derogatorily about the pleasant Land, remains uncorrected. To rectify this, the Land’s praise, splendor, holiness, and honor must be declared to all the world (Letters, Vol.1, 112-113).

Our Sages have long ago noted the exalted level of Eretz Yisrael in saying, “There is no Torah like the Torah of Eretz Yisrael” (Bereshit Rabbah,16:7). There is so, not only because over two-thirds of the Mishna deals specifically with Jewish life in Eretz Yisrael, and because of the many mitzvot which can only be performed here – the Torah of the Land of Israel is immeasurably more elevated because the Jewish people possess true NATIONAL vitality only in the Land of Israel.

Outside of the Land, Jews can excel as individuals in all fields of endeavor; including great Torah scholars, but the light of God cannot appear in its intended NATIONAL format. Only in the Land of Israel can the Jews be a KINGDOM of priests and a holy NATION (Shemot, 19:6). The Zohar emphasizes that the Jews can be a NATION only inIsrael, and not outside of it, where we are minorities in other people’s lands. (Zohar, Vayikra, 93B). Prophecies of Redemption all involve the return of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel and the restoration of Jewish sovereignty over the Land. The Jewish people’s unique prophetic talent is dependent on being in the Land of Israel (Kuzari, 1:95; 2:8-24). The Temple can only be rebuilt on the Temple Mount, and the full revelation of God’s Presence is exclusive to Eretz Yisrael, as the prophet teaches, “For Torah will go forth from Zion, and the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem” (Isaiah, 2:3).

Tzvi Fishman

The Pita That Revived Terror

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

“And all the nations will see that the Name of God is called upon you, and they will fear you” (Deuteronomy 28:10).

During the First Lebanon War, the IDF forced the PLO terrorists all the way to the Beirut port and then to Tunisia. The PLO, which had lost its stronghold in Lebanon, was shattered. Salach Taamri, the most senior and admired terrorist captured by the IDF, was imprisoned in the Ansar detention camp. He was a broken man.

Later, Taamri was interviewed by journalist Aharon Barnea for the book he would write about him, To be Captive. In Barnea’s book, Taamri describes the situation of the terror organization prior to Pesach, 28 years ago. “I concluded,” said Taamri, “that we had no chance to overpower Israel’s financial and military prowess, and that we should make do with the crumbs that they would throw us and fold up all our flags.”

Taamri, an intellectual and patriot, willingly cooperated with his captors. The other prisoners understood from their admired commander that the end had come and that the war was lost. And then, Taamri continued, a surprising event took place that turned everything upside down.

“My hands were holding the cold bars and I was looking from inside my dark jail cell toward the hall where an Israeli guard was walking. I saw him from far. He was walking slowly, holding something in his hand that he would constantly bring close to his mouth. He would bring it close and then distance it. When he was close to my cell, I called to him. I saw that he was eating a pita. He would bite, chew, bite and chew.

“You are a Jew,” I said to him. “Why are you eating chametz on Pesach? Don’t you know that it is forbidden for a Jew to eat chametz on this holiday?”

“I am not committed to the things that happened to my people during the exodus from Egypt 2,000 years ago. I have no connection to it,” said the Jewish prison guard.

Taamri continued: “I sat on the mattress in my cell and said to myself, ‘A nation of people who do not have a connection with their past; who are willing to publicly desecrate the laws of their faith, is a nation that has cut off the roots from its land. We will be able to achieve our goals.’ On that night, my approach completely changed. I couldn’t fall asleep. In all those hours of darkness, I replayed that scene with the Jewish prison guard.

“The next morning I gathered the Palestinian leadership in the prison, all those who knew my opinion over the years. I told them about my experience and the conclusions that I reached. I clarified to everyone that from that morning, we were embarking on a new course: a war for everything. Not for a small percentage and not for crumbs that they would throw us. For opposing us was a nation that lacked the connection to its roots, a nation not interested in its past. Thus, its motivation was necessarily void of any will to struggle and fight.”

Since then, Taamri says that he has told his story to tens of thousands of people and has convinced all of them that the approach must be changed to this: the Palestinians must struggle without compromise.

Taamri was elected to the Palestinian parliament and indeed convinced his friends, breathing new spirit into the war against Israel. The damage done by that pita eaten by the Israeli soldier on Pesach cannot be exaggerated.

The question mark hovering over the right of the Jewish state to exist – and as a result, over its right to defend itself in the face of existential threat – is directly connected to our identity as God’s nation.

When the nations of the world see that God’s Name is called upon us, when we know who we are, understand what we represent and are at peace with our destiny, the power of deterrence that the terrorist Taamri initially felt will be established. But when we are not interested in God’s Name being called upon us, the nations can openly plan to destroy us – with nuclear weapons or in any other way. And they will do so without fear.

Moshe Feiglin

The World’s Leader: Israel

Monday, September 24th, 2012

We have learned that the force of t’shuva is perpetually at work, propelling all of life toward perfection. While the enlightenment of mankind is a gradually developing process, the day is soon coming when the wonder of t’shuva will capture all imaginations and hearts.

In this saga of universal redemption, where do the Jewish People fit in? What role do they play? Just as one might expect, Am Yisrael is to be the leader, blazing the trail for all other peoples to follow. Rabbi Kook writes:

The Jewish People, because of their enhanced spiritual nature, will be the first nation in the world to do t’shuva. The special spirit of t’shuva will initially be revealed in this portion of humanity.Israelis propelled from within to be united with God’s light in the world, which is free of transgression and wrongdoing. Every falling away (from its connection to God) blemishes the wholeness of its inner perfection, yet in the end, its powerful life-force will triumph over the deviation, and it will return to complete health. This complete health will start to invigorate (the nation) with great strength and the light of t’shuva will shine within her first. Afterward, Israel will be the special channel to spread life’s inner yearning for t’shuva to all of the world, to lighten the world’s darkness and elevate its stature (Orot HaT’shuva, 5:8.  See also The Art of T’shuva, Ch. 16).

As we mentioned in a previous blog, Israel’s enhanced spiritual nature lies in its unique holiness and connection to God. “For thou art a holy people to the Lord thy God; the Lord thy God has chosen thee to be a special people to Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Devarim, 7:6).

The Nation of Israel has an exalted inner content which radiates God’s blessing to the world. This segula, or unique Divine connection, encompasses all of the Jewish People. It is our national soul. Blemishes caused by sin are always external to the soul of the nation, leaving no permanent scar.

Israel’s deep, inner yearning to be connected to God, triumphs in the end, banishing all darkness. We are not speaking about a spiritual awakening of scattered individuals. THE WHOLE NATION RETURNS TO GOD. True to the prophecy of Moses, the whole nation will return to live by the Torah. Politicians and soldiers, artists and farmers, teachers and judges will have one common purpose — to sanctify life’s every endeavor. Israel will return to being itself — “A kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Shemot, 19:6).

The revelation of Israel’s holiness will bring more light to the world than the sun. Mankind will be blinded and stunned. All people will proclaim:

Surely this great Nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is so great that has God so near to them… and what Nation is so great that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all of this Torah? (Devarim, 4:6-8).

This awakened, Holy Nation will demand a new life order, the correction of all wrong, the uprooting of all evil, rescue for the downtrodden, equality for all people, food for all children, salvation from a life of paganism and sin.

Inspired by the Holy Nation of Israel, mankind will abandon its vain and misguided paths, and a mighty spirit of t’shuva will be ignited throughout the world. Nations will flock to Israel to learn the ways of the Jews, as it is written:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s House shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all the nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Yaacov; and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths, for out of Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Yisheyahu, 2:2-4).

An example of Israel’s future influence on the nations will help make this utopian scenario more clear. Rabbi Kook writes that t’shuva is ever-present in the inner fabric of existence because it was brought into being before the creation of the world. Before sin had occurred, a remedy for it had already been prepared.

Tzvi Fishman

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