web analytics
December 4, 2016 / 4 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Return’

The Gordis Not

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Daniel Gordis said “no” to the Levy Report in signing on to the far-left “Open Letter” (and the full text is below) released this week which has been fisked a bit here. At Haaretz, rather than his usual Jerusalem Post base, he defends his co-joining the left-of-center American Jews who decided to become very publicly upset at the publication of the Levy Report on Israel’s rights in, and to, Judea and Samaria.  He published this piece, Choose hope: Don’t adopt the Levy report.

In short, he thinks that:

To state publicly that what we have in Judea and Samaria is not an occupation might be a legally justifiable claim. But it would also signal that it is time to give up even thinking about how a different reality in the Middle East might be achieved. That, we must not do.

Might be?  And why is that “different reality” abhorrent enough for Gordis to join the left-of-center crowd, lend them his name, and that of the Shalem Center?  Is the issue that important for him to decide to run with this group of Israeli critics?

Well, we need to review his thinking and so here are some extracts from his defense:

The letter did not argue that Justice Levy’s legal argument was legally incorrect; it also took no stand on settlement issue writ large…The letter simply asserts that if the Prime Minister adopts the Levy Commission report, he will do Israel serious damage.

And how much damage does the letter cause, and I am not arguing that Gordis, et al., do not have the legal right to publish their thinking, but need it have been such a public shaming?  Here’s how AP had it in an analysis:

Jewish settlements are at the heart of a 3-year-old deadlock in Mideast peace efforts.

Is that the portrayal that Gordis is comfortable with?  He cannot offset that?  The “heart”?  Not the 90-year old Arab total rejection of Jewish nationalism and a Jewish presence anywhere inEretz-Yisrael?

The letter caused no damage or is it only the damage Netanyahu could possibly cause that is a problem?

He then outlines the damage to Pals. are doing to themselves:

Sadly, Israel has no partner with which to make peace. Today’s Palestinian leadership insists on the refugees’ right of return, something Israel cannot permit if it is to remain a Jewish State. The Palestinians have also rejected Netanyahu’s demand that they recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State, something that Israel must insist on if precluding the refugees’ return is to be defensible. Neither of those will change anytime soon.

He skips over a bit of terror, some incitement, the corrupt regime that is the Palestinian Authority vis-a-vis its own people and other aspects of a horrific reality but that is ignored.  Given, though, those two problematic demands, what is Israel to do?

…A wise Israeli leadership would do everything in its power to communicate to the world that beyond those two existential issues [Israel as a Jewish state and the no return of refugees – YM], which are not negotiable, Israel will discuss virtually anything. There are matters on which Israel will compromise, and others on which it will not…

What “anything” is “virtual”? What issues can be compromised?

Jerusalem?

True Arab democracy?

Demilitarization?

IDF presence, long- or short-term on the Jordan River?

Educational curriculum change?

What about Rabin’s formula?  From his October 5,1995 Knesset speech, where he summarized his

…vision of the permanent solution. It will include united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, the country’s security border will be on the River Jordan, there will be no return to the 4 June 1967 lines and new blocs of settlements will be built in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip. He spoke of the coming elections to the Palestinian Council, the IDF’s re-deployment and the creation of three zones in the territories.

Or that isn’t left or liberal enough for Gordis’ fellow-signers?

Israel should not establish itself on principles of law?

…While the Levy Commission insisted that its findings were legal and not political, that distinction would be utterly lost on the international community.

Really?  And here we all thought that the most incriminating charge against Israel’s presence beyond the Green Line, what justifies the BDS movement, was the illegality of it all.  That charge the world does understand but Israel proving that its presence in not illegal is incomprehensible?  “Illegality” subverts Israel’s legitimacy but to disprove that is somehow no good?

Yisrael Medad

Clinton Meets Morsi, Urges Egyptian Control over Hamas

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met President Mohamed Morsi on Saturday, marking the latter’s highest level meeting to date with a U.S. government official.

Clinton restated Washington’s support for Egypt, which has been a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy since 1978. She said the U.S. favors democratic rule in Egypt and urged the return of Egypt’s military to its defense role

Al Ahram on Saturday quoted an anonymous U.S. official who said that, in addition to stable relations with Israel, “the U.S. is expecting Egypt to use the good ties that link the Muslim Brotherhood with the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip to curtail any plans that Hamas might have towards escalation with Israel.”

The U.S. is also expecting President Morsi’s Egypt to remain committed to its traditional policy of limited engagement with Iran, according to Al Ahram.

Also on the list of U.S. expectations is a clear cut commitment from the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president on ensuring respect for the rights of women, Copts, and other minorities in Egypt.

On Sunday Clinton will meet with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the council of generals supervising the transition from the old regime.

“The United States supports the full transition to civilian rule with all that entails,” Clinton said at a news conference after her meeting with Morsi. “But there is more work ahead. And I think the issues around the parliament, the constitution, have to be resolved between and among Egyptians. I will look forward to discussing these issues tomorrow with Field Marshall Tantawi and in working to support the military’s return to a purely national security role.”

Jewish Press Staff

Return to Sender: Knesset Speaker Rivlin’s New Years Greeting ‘Biased,’ ‘Political’

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Tahar Al-Massri, Jordan’s Speaker of Parliament, returned a New Year’s greeting from Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Sunday, claiming that it is “biased and political,” and racist for calling Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

Rivlin had sent a letter to parliamentary speakers around the globe honoring the 2012 New Year. The letter began with Rivlin stating that he was writing from “the Holy City of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.”

Jewish Press Staff

Remembering Hanan Porat

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

In May 1967 Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook spoke to his former Mercaz HaRav students at their annual Independence Day reunion in Jerusalem. Usually a festive day of celebration, this year was different. Rabbi Kook sorrowfully recalled his feeling of despair nineteen years earlier, when the State of Israel was born: “I was torn to pieces. I could not celebrate.” Suddenly he cried out: “They have divided my land. Where is our Hebron? Have we forgotten it? And where is our Shechem? And our Jericho – will we forget them?”

Rabbi Kook’s outburst, his former student Hanan Porat remembered, “echoed in us, as if the spirit of prophecy had descended upon him.” Three weeks later, during the Six-Day War, that prophecy was fulfilled. Porat fought in the Paratroopers Brigade that swept across the Temple Mount, reclaimed the Western Wall for the Jewish people, and liberated the Old City of Jerusalem. As biblical Judea and Samaria fell to the Israel Defense Forces, the State of Israel and the Land of Israel had finally converged.

For Porat, the stunning Israeli victory offered the opportunity for return, restoration and redemption. Until 1948 he had lived with his family in Kfar Etzion, the Orthodox kibbutz a few miles south of Jerusalem. He was among the dozens of children who were evacuated not long before the Arab Legion annihilated their community on the eve of Israel’s proclamation of independence.

Defended to the tragic end, with more than 150 fighters killed in battle and slaughtered after surrendering, Kfar Etzion became an enduring symbol of heroic Zionist resistance. For nineteen years young Porat was among the Gush Etzion survivors who nurtured memories of the tragic disruption and destruction they had endured. “We felt that we’d been torn away,” he remembered. “They cut our roots brutally.”

Every year, on Israel’s annual Day of Remembrance, they gathered in Ramat Rachel at the southern edge of Jerusalem to gaze longingly at the “Lone Tree” in the distance that marked the site of their destroyed community. “Almost all the children became orphans,” Porat would recall sadly, but they were determined to “return and rebuild.”

With Israel triumphant in the Six-Day War, Porat knew the time had come “to return home.” He persistently lobbied government ministers to restore his lost boyhood community. News of his efforts reached Moshe Levinger, another Mercaz HaRav graduate, who was the rabbi at an Orthodox moshav near Petach Tikva. After meeting in Jerusalem they enlarged their group to include Elyakim Haetzni, a brilliant maverick lawyer who had arrived in Palestine from Germany in 1938. Like Rabbi Kook, he had declined to celebrate independence because “we gained a state but lost the Land of Israel.”

The three men planned their strategy for the return of Jews to Gush Etzion and nearby Hebron (“part of our genetic code,” Haetzni insisted), whose Jewish community had been destroyed during the Arab rioting in 1929. But neither Prime Minister Eshkol nor Defense Minister Dayan, who hoped to exchange land for peace with their Arab enemies, would meet with them.

Porat was not deterred. Just before Rosh Hashanah a convoy of cars, led by an armored bus from the 1948 exodus, returned to Gush Etzion. He viewed the restored community as only “the spearhead of the struggle for the Greater Land Of Israel.”

The following spring Porat joined dozens of Israelis to celebrate Passover at the Park Hotel in Hebron, rented for the week by Rabbi Levinger. Marking the birth of the restored Jewish community of Hebron, it was an extraordinary gathering of the future leaders of the Jewish settlement movement. Five years later Hanan Porat’s restored home in Gush Etzion became the launching pad for the return of Jews to biblical Samaria.

After the disastrous Yom Kippur War caught Israel unprepared, shattering illusions of its invulnerability, Gush Emunim (“Bloc of the Faithful”) emerged to revitalize Zionism. Its founding convention was held in Gush Etzion. Porat wrote its manifesto, stressing “the sacred duty of every Jew to inhabit and repossess every portion of the ancestral inheritance.”

Sharply critical of the yearning for normalization that had come to characterize mainstream secular Zionism, it called for “a great awakening of the Jewish people towards full implementation of the Zionist vision.” Committed to “restoring the pioneering and sacrificial spirit of the past,” it asserted that “there is no Zionism without Judaism, and no Judaism without Zionism.”

Jerold S. Auerbach

Return to Dachau: A Unique Gathering (Part II)

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010
The last living link to the Holocaust is quite a responsibility.”  
Remarkably, a number of sensitive young Germans and a few others from beyond Germany’s borders have taken on the responsibility and the challenge.
An outstanding example is Eva Gruberova from Slovakia.  Eva has devoted her professional life to researching and documenting the Shoa, so that mankind, learning of its unprecedented horrors, will not allow them to recur. Together with her husband, Helmut Zeller, whom she met at the Süddeutsche Zeitung (South-German Newspaper) where they both work as journalists, she explores the history of the Third Reich and its persecution of the Jews. “One of our first dates was the exhibit in Munich that dealt with crimes of the Wehrmacht in World War II,” she recalls. “We are bound to each other not only by deep love and friendship, but by our mutual interest in the Holocaust.”
Eva was born and raised in Kosice, Czechoslovakia, where she completed her studies, earning her first degree in philosophy. Receiving a stipend to continue her studies at a German university she enrolled at the Institute of Higher Studies in Frankfurt an Main for political science and ethics and later at the Institute for Philosophy in Munich.
            And it was here that she got in contact with the Süddeutsche Zeitung and her childhood dream of becoming a journalist reawakened. She made a dramatic shift, terminated her studies and plunged into writing for various newspapers.
“I still remember my first article I wrote from Germany for a Czech newspaper. It was a review of Daniel Goldhagen’s provocative book, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, which claims that the Nazis were but ordinary, middle-class Germans who willingly cooperated in killing Jews.”  She seemed to agree with the thesis which then prompted her to search for signs of German recognition of collective guilt.
            “That’s the reason I came to Germany: I was curious, how do the Germans cope with this history, do they feel shame? I must admit I hated the Germans then. For me every German was a Nazi. Today, however, I believe the Germans have made in the last 20 years great strides in educating about their past. As a journalist I often accompany German pupils to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial site, and this 4th generation is so open and interested that I, despite the sad contents, enjoy the tour,” Eva Gruberova confesses, and adds that she wishes that in other countries, especially in her home, Slovakia, there would be such openness and interest.
“About five years ago,” she continues, “I started to research and write a book about the ‘forgotten Jews,’ of Eastern Europe. I have visited an old age home in Bratislava where the residents are Holocaust survivors. There are women there who went with the very first transport in March 1942 to Auschwitz-Birkenau Many of them have never spoken of their experiences and they were very surprised with my interest. Some are even today afraid to admit that they are Jews. This disturbed me very deeply.”

            In Dachau Eva Gruberova had come across the picture of the seven young mothers with their babies born in the concentration camp. She could not believe her eyes. Her astonishment motivated her passionate search for sources and the discovery of the incredible story resulted in the deeply moving film, “Geboren im KZ” (Born in the CC) co-produced by Eva Gruberova and a colleague, Martina Gawaz, and the magnificent reunion of the “babies” from the world over, organized by her and team-mates at the Dachau Memorial site.

           I left Dachau with a sense of liberation. Here I met the new Germans, heard their voices, looked into their eyes and sensed genuine concern. Here a Holocaust cannot happen again.

Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson

Return to Dachau: A Unique Gathering (Part I)

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010
Last March I received an invitation to the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. It was signed: KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau.”
I was taken aback. Is Dachau still a place on the face of the earth?
Sixty-five years ago I, a fourteen-year old scary skeleton, could barely comprehend the overwhelming news of freedom Americans liberation. Over the years with the birth of children, grandchildren and thank G-d, great grandchildren, the hell of Dachau has begun to recede into the distance. And now: an invitation to return.
The invitation told of a special exhibit and film commemorating a most phenomenal event: the miraculous survival of seven young Jewish mothers and their babies born in a Dachau sub-camp in the winter of 1944/45. Six of the seven babies, living in parts of the world, were expected to attend the exhibit.
In an earlier column I described the fate of my fellow Augsburg camp inmate, Miriam Rosenthal who, seven months pregnant, was shipped to Auschwitz to be gassed. The Russian occupation of Auschwitz forced her jailers to take her to Kaufering at Dachau where she was put into a wooden barrack with six other young pregnant Jewish women. Labeled the “Schwangerkommando” (pregnant commando), they had to do forced labor until their date of delivery and immediately after giving birth. They gave birth one by one without medical or nursing assistance, suffering from cold, starvation and appalling sanitary conditions — to seven healthy babies!
When  Dachau was taken by the Americans on April 29, 1945, the seven young Jewish women — Eva Fleischmann, Sara Grun, Ilboya Kovacs, Elisabeth Legmann, Dora Lowi, Miriam Rosenthal and Magda Schwartz —were liberated with their live infants born in the death camp. All seven infants – George, Jossi, Leslie, Marika, Agnes, Judit and Suzi – grew to adulthood in various parts of the world – seven saved, while one and a half million Jewish children were murdered in the Nazi hell.
Of the seven mothers only Eva Fleischmann and Miriam Rosenthal are alive today. However, neither Miriam Rosenthal from Canada nor Eva Fleischmann from Slovakia could undertake the arduous journey to attend the exhibit.
For me this phenomenal exhibit was the impetus to return to Dachau. I wanted to be present at the reunion of the Dachau babies, now sixty-five year old grandmothers and grandfathers. I wanted to experience first-hand the commemoration of seven divine miracles.
When I met Miriam’s baby, Dr. Leslie Rosenthal and his wife, grandparents of nine, Miriam’s brother, Mordechai Schwartz, came painfully to mind. I agonized over the irony that while Miriam and Leslie survived the Nazi hell in Germany, Mordechai lost his life to British Jew-hatred in the Jewish National Home. A committed Zionist, Mordechai went to Eretz Yisrael in 1934 and as a committed Jew was executed in 1939. During the bloody Arab riots against Jews, he killed one Arab as the latter hurled violent threats at him and all Jews in Eretz Israel. Despite numerous justified defense pleas the British Mandatory authorities carried out Mordechai Schwarz’s death sentence.
At the reunion of the surviving seven, Leslie Rosenthal remarked: “The babies, that’s what I call them:  my camp brothers and sisters…. We could be the last living link to the Holocaust, so that’s quite a responsibility.”

(To Be Continued)

Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson

Moses’ Spies in Art

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Growing up, I used to enjoy reading S. Weissman’s Little Midrash Says (published 1986) and carefully studying Siegmund Forst’s illustrations of the weekly Torah portion. At the time, I had no idea how many of Forst’s drawings were derived from earlier traditions of biblical illustration (many of them Christian), but I was particularly struck by the moral readability of the narratives. It was always a cinch to figure out who was a good character and who was evil; you could read it on their faces. The heroes were always smiling widely and the villains looked ugly and angry at the world.

 

Unsurprisingly, this technique of revealing characters’ true colors (or their perceived characteristics) in their faces, which seems to be more of a Hellenistic than a Jewish approach, dates much further back than the 1980s. Medieval anti-Semitic illuminated manuscripts often depicted Jews with hooked noses, hunched backs and ugly faces and there are indications that ancient theatrical masks similarly exaggerated characters’ features. It makes sense to apply artistic license in instances like these, just as many movies today cast the hero in white and the villain in dark clothes.

 

Moses’ 12 spies, who surface in this week’s Torah portion of Sh’lach as the Israelites’ scouts to the Holy Land, can be viewed, if not as evil, then at the very least as having questionable motives (with the exception of Caleb and Joshua). Their denouncement of Canaan as “a land that consumes its inhabitants” (Numbers 13:32) and their subsequent campaign to convince the Israelites to pine for their time in Egypt led to a punishment of 40 years of wandering in the desert.

 

Richard McBee. “Return of the Spies.” Relief sculpture. 24″ x 30″. 1984.

 

Artists have pasted the spies’ evil designs on their faces. In a late 15th-century Flemish book of hours, attributed to the so-called Master of the Prayer Book of Maximilian, the two spies, who wear pointed hats, carry a very large cluster of grapes on a rod, per Numbers 13:23. Like the verse says, it takes two spies to carry the branch and the attached cluster of grapes, though the artist neglects to depict the other fruits mentioned in the verse: pomegranates and figs.

 

Rather than depicting the grape cluster (no doubt evoking the spies’ intoxication with their fear of the Canaanite giants) tied to the pole, the Flemish master shows the rod slid between two branches of the cluster, held in place by gravity. The cluster is about half as tall as the spies and slightly wider than they. The spy in front wears a goofy expression while the second spy, whose face is covered by his hat (hinting at his blindness), is even more the dunce.

 

At the spies’ feet, and climbing up the branches around them, are several snails. Although it is possible that the artist has misinterpreted Numbers 13:33, where the spies speculate that they appeared like “grasshoppers” to the Canaanite giants, it is hard to imagine the artist confusing grasshoppers and snails, given the appearance of the word “chagav” in other contexts like 2 Chronicles 7:13, where it clearly refers to some kind of locust.

 

In “Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art,” Michael Camille cites a paper by Lilian Randall, titled “The Snail in Gothic Marginal Warfare” [Speculum, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Jul., 1962), pp. 358-367], which argues that snails have been viewed by scholars in a variety of ways. The 19th-century critic Champfleury saw them as “agricultural pests,” while a Flemish historian of caricature saw snails safe inside their shells as “a satire on the powerful who in their fortified castles laughed at the threat of the poor whom they exploited.” Randall goes one step further and identifies snails with the cowardice of the Lombards, a Germanic people, whom Camille notes, “not only bore the stigma of being turncoats but who, along with the Jews, were Europe’s bankers.” Not only are Moses’ spies evil on account of their immature facial expressions and dunce caps; they are also surrounded by symbols of cowardice.

 

Detail of Nicolas Poussin’s “Autumn, or The Bunch of Grapes of the Promised Land.” 

1600-1664. 117 x 160 cm. Louvre.

 

In the 16th-century Swiss painter Tobias Stimmer’s woodcut “The Spies Bring Back the Cluster of Grapes from the Land of Canaan,” the spies look particular ugly and fierce, as they do in Jost Amman’s woodcut by the same name. Stimmer’s work has the notable distinction of featuring other spies, carrying backpacks, in the background.

 

All of the dozens of medieval prints and illuminations I studied show the spies carrying just the grapes, with the exception of the c. 1450 colored pen drawing, “Spies return from Canaan carrying a large bunch of grapes,” by the anonymous illustrator of Speculum humanae salvationis, in which the spies carry another food which resembles an acorn but is probably a fig.

 

Many works (like Michiel van der Borch’s 1332 “The Spies return with the grapes”) show poorly formed grapes, and many of the clusters look more like bunches of bananas. Several of the figures are visibly weighed down by the grapes, as in a 1478 woodcut, “The Spies Returning from Canaan,” perhaps a reference to Christian identification of the grapes on the rod with Jesus. If that is what Christian artists truly had in mind, it makes sense that they would have depicted the Jewish pole bearers in a negative light and often with walking sticks, evoking the Wandering Jew. (Though it is worth noting later artists like Poussin used the scene to depict a secular theme – autumn – rather than a sacred one. Richard McBee has written brilliantly on this image in “Poussin’s Bible,” The Jewish Press, April 30, 2008.)

 

One of the earliest possible depictions of the scene is a frieze in the west fa?ade at the Gothic Cathedral of St. Etienne (c. 1270-1280, France), which shows spies in a vineyard, perhaps Moses’ spies, as two appear to carry a basket of grapes between them. But the scene has often been confused or mislabeled, as in a gothic stained glass “redemption window” from an early 13th-century church (with 20th century restoration) in Canterbury, Kent, which shows two spies with grapes mistitled “Joshua’s Spies in Canaan (the Grapes of Eschol).”

 

 

John Bradford. “Return of the Spies.”

 

 

Contemporary depictions of the spies, of which works by Archie Rand, John Bradford and Richard McBee are foremost – although there is a miniature rendition of the spies in the bottom right corner of Chagall’s tapestry “The Entry into Jerusalem,” 1963-1964 – show a very different scene.

 

Rand’s work, which has one of the spies say (via cartoon bubble), “We got to the land you sent us to. And yea, it’s really flowing with milk and honey – you can see from the fruit,” is compositionally similar (if flipped 180 degrees) to Pieter Bruegel’s “The Hunters in the Snow.” The Canaan Rand’s figures emerge from is rendered with bold strokes and a colorful palette, as the spies head down toward a more dreary place. Their sin seems to stem from inability to explain a world of dramatic aesthetics to denizens of the desert doldrums.

 

Bradford’s spies, like Moses and the rest of the Israelites, are nearly indistinguishable from the landscape and it is difficult to identify where walking sticks end and trees begin. If their sin was speaking ill of the land of Canaan, they were spreading lies about themselves as well, so embedded are they in the landscape.

 

Archie Rand. “The Return of the Spies.” 1992. Exhibited at Arthur Roger Gallery, fall 1992. Photograph by: Larry Qualls.

 

But if Rand and Bradford focus more on the landscape that surrounds the figures, as Poussin does but in sharp contrast to the medieval depictions which portrayed the figures alone, McBee focuses on the spies making their pitch to the Israelites. One can see sheer terror on the faces of the spies’ audience members, who fear for their lives and their families’ safety. Where many of his predecessors focused on the spies’ psychology and immorality, McBee is far more interested in the bystanders who receive their dark message. In so doing, McBee has broadened the scope from the Classical (and individualized) heroes and villains to the larger mass of people, which of course, includes us all as well.

 

 

Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blogs.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com.

Menachem Wecker

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/moses-spies-in-art/2010/06/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: