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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘settlement’

Yad Yair Refugees Recite Lamentations at the Ruins of their Homes

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Tazpit reported that on Saturday night, Tisha B’Av 5772, some 50 men, women and children, members of the settlement nucleus of Yad Yair, together with the Benjamin Settlers Committee and residents of Gush Talmonim, mourned the destruction of Jerusalem, and shared their private grief over the destruction of their settlement more than three years ago by the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria.

The group read the book of Lamentations and recited mournful odes for the destruction of the Temple. In an atypical fashion, IDF forces did not interfere with the Jewish presence there, which lasted several hours.

The Jewish activists told Tazpit that they chose the ruins of their homes for the recitation of Lamentations in order to remember well the destruction of the Temple. They also emphasized the strategic importance of the place in blocking the spread of the city of Ramallah, and the fact that the place was bought at full price by Jews, and there are no questions regarding their legal ownership.

Ehud Amiton / Tazpit

Ehud Amiton / Tazpit

According to Hakol HaYehudi, more than twenty years ago, on 11 Nissan, 5751, March 26, 1991, Dolev resident Yair Mendelson was murdered, and local residents wanted to establish a new settlement in his memory. Then Defense Minister Moshe Arens did not approve the settlement, and after a political struggle a military base was built on the spot, with a park in memory of Yair Mendelson next to it. In 2004 the base was dismantled, leaving in the area only a civilian presence, which included an active synagogue and the park, where major events were held frequently.

After the army left the area, the synagogue and the park became subject to incessant harassments by Israeli leftists and by Arabs. Over the years the electrical system was destroyed, the synagogue was looted and set on fire, and the memorial stone was vandalized.

After it became clear to the residents of Gush Talmonim that the army is unable to prevent the looting and destruction of the place, it was decided to exercise the right of the Jewish landowners and establish a settlement. In 2008 left-wing activists, Arabs and journalists burned down the synagogue, and replaced the flags of Israel PLO flags.

In response, on the same day, Jewish settlement began in the place, which lasted four months, until Israeli government forces completely destroyed the place, removing the Yair Mendelsohn memorial stone. The evacuation was carried out by IDF commanders in the field in clear violation of a High Court order issued the same day.

Israeli Settlements an ‘Obstacle to Peace’?

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

One does not have to be an apologist for Israeli settlements in disputed areas to recognize that the constant criticism that has developed around them is unproductive in reaching a peace settlement between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The settlements may be a problem but they are not a serious one. Altogether, they occupy less than three percent of the area of the West Bank, and have a population of about 300,000 there, another 20,000 in the Golan Heights, and 190,000 in east Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. Whether some or many of these settlements will be evacuated by Israel should depend on the nature of the negotiated peace agreement.

In spite of the settlement freeze suggested by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008, and the ten-month moratorium on new construction announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2010, the Palestinians still refused, for over nine months, to enter into peace talks.

The immediate problem is the question of who can legitimately claim sovereignty over the disputed areas of east Jerusalem and the “West Bank,” a term coined by Jordan when it controlled the area from 1949 until 1967. For over four centuries, these areas were provinces of the Turkish Ottoman Empire; after that, from 1922 until 1948, they were ruled by Britain under the Mandate given it by the League of Nations. The areas have never been under any Arab sovereignty.

Jordan declared it had “annexed” the West Bank after the 1948-49 War. Only two countries, Pakistan and Britain, ever recognized that claim; and Britain only de facto, not by full legal recognition. The Palestinians have never had a political state of their own and, when offered the opportunity by the United Nations General Assembly in November 1947, refused to create one. The Golan Heights, about 400 square miles, was ceded to Syria by a Franco-British agreement.

The boundaries of “Palestine,” and the decision about the exercise of sovereign power over it, remain to be determined in an overall peace settlement, as agreed to by all parties concerned in the UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967.

As the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were unallocated parts of the British Mandate, the land held by Israel since the 1967 was determined not to be the accepted legal territory of any particular people or country. Moreover, Jewish settlement in the West Bank was never seen as an intrusion into alien territory as a result of war, nor as a violation of international agreements — either of which would have made settlements illegal.

International law gives no clear answer on the issue of Israeli settlements. The Fourth Geneva Convention does forbid government deportation or “individual or mass forcible transfers” of population into territory it occupies. This Convention was formulated because of the activities during World War II of the Nazi regime, and by inference the Soviet Union, in transferring population into occupied territory for political or racial reasons, or for colonization. As a result of those activities, millions were subjected to forced migration, expulsion, slave labor, and extermination. On this issue two factors are pertinent. One is that Israeli governments have not aimed at any displacement of the population in any of the disputed areas. The other is that neither the Geneva Convention nor any other law prevents the establishment of voluntary settlements on an individual basis, nor on their location, if the underlying purpose is security, public order, or safety, and as long as the settlements do not involve taking private property. It is absurd to suggest that the state of Israel “deported” or “transferred” its own citizens to the territories.

This conclusion was buttressed by a report, in July 2012, of the independent Israeli three-member committee, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy, which held that the classic laws of “occupation” do not apply to “the unique and sui generis historic and legal circumstances of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria spanning over decades.” The committee held that consequently Israelis have the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria, and that the establishment of settlements is not illegal.

Israel has made concessions in the hopes of peace, although scant recognition has been given to them. Israel withdrew all forces and settlers in Sinai after the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979. All 21 Israeli settlements, with 9,000 residents, in the Gaza Strip, as well as all Israeli forces there, were withdrawn by a unilateral Israeli decision in 2005, to give the Gaza Strip a chance to become a thriving independent area. This withdrawal did not, however, result in any positive response, and has not stopped Hamas, the ruling group in Gaza, from constant missile bombardment and missile activity against Israeli civilians in nearby cities.

The settlements in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights remain as a source of contention, whether regarded as illegal or merely ill-advised. Certainly there should be legitimate discussion about them and about the actions of the Israeli government in legitimizing unauthorized outposts in the West Bank. The government distinguishes between the settlements that have been officially sanctioned, and outposts, some on hilltops for security reasons, for example, that settlers built without permission. Between 1991 and 2005 about 100 hilltop outposts were built by activists who believed they were creating “facts on the ground,” but did so without government permits or planning approval.

Israeli authorities are concerned about abuses regarding settlements. The Israeli Supreme Court in June 2012 ordered the dismantling of an outpost named Migron , that contained 50 families, a settlement that had been built on private Arab land. Legal decisions have made clear that settlements were never intended to displace Arab residents of the disputed territories. The settlements have been established for a combination of economic, historic, and military reasons, not ever for purposes of colonialism, or even colonization. A negotiated peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians can easily decide their fate.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org 

Does Freezing Settlements Help Peace?

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

The current US administration has been advocating the freezing of Israeli settlement activity in Judea and Samaria, and so have several global players involved in the peace process. Evidence on the ground, however, seems to suggest that freezing settlement activity only fuels radicalism and terrorism, encourages delegitimizing Israel, deprives Palestinians of decent livelihoods and works significantly against achieving the long-sought peace. On June 4, 2009, when President Obama addressed the Muslim world from Cairo, he said: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements” because they “undermine efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.” Since then, the U.S. has relentlessly been pressuring the Israeli government to freeze the construction of settlements, eventually resulting in a ten month freeze of settlement activities by the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. At one point, Netanyahu demanded that the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel as a Jewish state in exchange for Israel’s settlements’ freeze, an offer the Palestinian Authority had refused.

Pressure on Israel to freeze its settlement activity is also advocated by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who earlier this year called on Israel to halt settlement activity as “goodwill gesture” to the Palestinians. Israel has given such “goodwill gestures” to the Palestinians before, but the reciprocal gestures were never as good-willed. In exchange for “goodwill gestures,” Israel gets concussions. After Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, driving its own Israeli settlers from their homes by force, Hamas utilized the withdrawal for its propaganda, claiming it was a victory over Israel, and then started firing more Kassam rockets from Gaza into southern Israeli cities. After that, Hamas took over the entire Gaza strip by force from the Palestinian Authority and has been ruling there ever since.

It seems the concussions Israel keeps getting from its “goodwill gesture” in Gaza have extended to neighboring Egypt. In an article published by the Washington Institute in January 2012, seasoned Israeli journalist Ehud Yaari reports that since Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula has become a major base for terrorists’ infrastructure, with the Bedouins becoming more radicalized and aiding Hamas with illegal trade. Arms smuggling into Gaza has risen to a record high, with “ever-larger sectors of the northern Sinai population becoming linked to Gaza and falling under the political and ideological influence of Hamas and the like.” All of this leads the inhabitants of the Sinai to think that they are entitled to become another terrorism forefront.

Concussion outcomes from Israel’s withdrawal from land are nothing new. When Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, the Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah quickly expanded the presence of its militants in southern Lebanon to the point of launching an unprecedented rocket attack on Israel in 2006. Why wouldn’t an expansion of an Israeli settlements freeze or a total Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria only lead again to an explosion in terrorist activities as has been the case in other places? Precedents suggest the outcome will not be different.

What is strange is how casual the world has become about asking Israel to stop building settlements on its own land. For example, last May, German President Joachim Gauck called on Israel to make “a goodwill gesture” in its settlement policy. Considering the historical sensitivity between Germany and Israel, one would think the German president would be more cautious about undermining Israel’s right to build homes on its own soil. What can be seen is that the demonization of settlers and settlements has become so regular that it is reaching the point where the delegitimization of Israel is becoming legitimized — probably just what the delegitimizers were hoping for.

The question about the legitimacy or legality of the settlements by itself is puzzling: historically, Judea and Samaria are legitimate parts of Israel — you just have to look at the evidence. The Balfour Declaration by which the British government confirmed that it favoured “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people … and will use its best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object,” was incorporated into the Sèvres peace treaty with Turkey and the British Mandate for Palestine, which was legally commissioned to Great Britain by the League of Nations, the equivalent of today’s United Nations, thus making Israel’s control of the entire British Mandate for Palestine — including Judea and Samaria — an internationally legitimate right. Since the draft of the Mandate was formally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922, it would seem to be in accord with international law.

Former 5th Av. Synagogue President Returns $410 Million to Madoff Victims

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Former money manager J. Ezra Merkin has agreed to turn over hundreds of millions of dollars to duped investors in Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

More than 30 charities invested with Merkin, many of them with a Jewish affiliation.

The NY Post reported at the time that members of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Synagogue, where Merkin served as president, “suffered a $2 billion bloodbath.” Madoff, a non-member, was introduced to them by President Merkin.

Those victims included Ira Rennert, Mort Zuckerman, and Elie Wiesel.

In a settlement announced Monday by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Merkin agreed to pay $405 million to compensate investors over a three-year period, and $5 million to the State of New York to cover fees and costs. It is the first settlement resulting from a government action against Merkin.

A close business associate of Madoff’s, Merkin controlled four funds that invested more than $2 billion with Madoff on behalf of hundreds of investors, including many New Yorkers and charitable organizations.

While investors in Ariel Fund Ltd., Gabriel Capital LP, Ascot Fund Ltd and Ascot Partners LP, whose assets were largely handled by Madoff, lost in excess of $1.2 billion, Merkin received hundreds of millions of dollars in management fees.

“By holding Mr. Merkin accountable, this settlement will help bring justice for the people and institutions that lost millions of dollars,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

According to the statement, for nearly two decades Merkin presented himself as a skilled money manager and used his social and charitable connections to raise more than $4 billion from hundreds of individuals, charities and other investors. Merkin turned over to Madoff all of the money in the Ascot Funds, and a substantial portion of the Ariel and Gabriel Funds.

In misleading offering documents and quarterly reports, Merkin concealed Madoff’s role and misrepresented the role he was playing in managing the funds, the statement said. Acting primarily as a marketer and middleman, Merkin obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in management and incentive fees from his investors.

Investors could recover more than 40 percent of their cash losses. Investors who were not aware of Madoff’s role will receive a higher percentage of their losses, while those who were aware of Madoff’s role will be eligible to receive a smaller percentage.

Among the victims, according to The Associated Press, were the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, New York Law School, Bard College, Harlem Children’s Zone and Homes for the Homeless.

Merkin also is being pursued by Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee charged with returning money to Madoff’s victims. Picard is trying to retrieve $500 million from Merkin and the funds.

Picard has entered agreements to recover $9 billion, more than half the cash claims related to the $64 billion Ponzi scheme.

JTA contributed to this article.

Citing ‘Love your Neighbor,’ JFNA Attacks Chief Rabbi

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

The Jewish Federations of North America slammed Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar’s criticism of the Israeli government’s decision to pay the salaries of some non-Orthodox rabbis.

“It is a fundamental Jewish virtue to ‘love your fellow as yourself.’ We condemn comments that disparage fellow Jews and, in particular, well-established branches of Judaism that represent 80 percent of North American Jewry,” JFNA President and CEO Jerry Silverman said in a statement.

Amar said in an interview Sunday with the Haredi Orthodox Kol Berama radio station that he is convening the Chief Rabbinate Council, made up of Orthodox rabbis throughout Israel, to discuss ways to reverse the government’s decision. The meeting reportedly will take place next week.

“The greatest danger for our generation is the danger of assimilation, and we need to be strong and steadfast in our fight,” Amar said. “It is forbidden to remain silent because there is nothing more serious than this measure.”

He added that the decision to recognize non-Orthodox rabbis could “uproot all the foundations of the Torah.”

Silverman said in his statement that “We know that the Chief Rabbi’s comments and language are completely rejected by the millions of Jewish people whom we represent from all streams, including our Orthodox brethren. Statements such as those made by Rabbi Amar only serve to alienate our fellow Jews from our religion, our people and the Jewish state.”

The agreement announced last month came three weeks after a panel of Israeli Supreme Court judges called on the attorney general to intervene during a hearing on a petition filed more than seven years ago calling for the state to recognize and pay the salaries of rabbis of all streams of Judaism.

Under a settlement negotiated out of court, the non-Orthodox rabbis have the moniker “rabbi of a non-Orthodox community,” and financing for the positions comes from the Culture and Sports Ministry. The decision is limited to regional councils and farming communities and is not intended for large cities.

Redemption

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Close your eyes. Picture a family full of smiles, and joy. See all the moments they spend together and support each other, through blessed times and difficult ones. Picture the holidays filled with warmth and laughter, and the Shabbat with delicious treats, while sitting around the table and hearing divrei Torah. The younger children have not yet really begun to live, whereas the older ones are only just starting their lives.

Then something destroys the serenity. There are soldiers everywhere, holding guns and wearing long, shiny boots. The family is rushed out of their house, their home, and allowed to take only minimal belongings with them. Their new residence is a corner in one of the rooms of a small house, where twenty other families live as well. The hunger and diseases are horrible, and end the lives of many people living in the ghetto.

Now they are being shoved into cattle cars with no room to breathe, with hundreds of other people just as confused as they are. The train ride lasts for more days then they can keep count of; there is no source of food or water to keep their fragile bodies from dying. They leave their wastes in the corners of the car, attracting insects and disease. When their destination is finally reached, the women and men are separated, never to see each other again. They are then led to the gas chambers where their lives are taken from them brutally. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of families like this one were destroyed by the Nazis, may their name and memory be obliterated.

I know this since I walked on my own feet into the gas chambers. I saw the stained walls, and felt the scratches on them made by innocent people with only the simple, and most reasonable desire to live. Statistics show that if the six million Jews had not been murdered almost seventy years ago, the worldwide Jewish population today would have been doubled, if not tripled.

The same question is asked over and over again, how could human beings become so horrific? How is it possible that they acted so maliciously towards innocent people? It is a very difficult question to answer. Humankind is, supposedly, inherently good. The fact of the matter is the Nazi army had long lost their humanity. Being able to look a mother in the eyes, while she hugs her child to her chest as close as she can, trembling, and then take her life with one merciless bullet is not a human act.

The Nazis were abominable in every way. We know today of six death camps throughout Poland, though there might have been more, where numerous Jews might have been murdered, but there are no survivors to confirm it. As frightening of a thought as that might be, the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust grows statistically every year as well, becoming closer to seven million.

I know all of this because it is information I learned on my trip to Poland last year. I trembled while stepping on the blood soaked ground of Treblinka, Chelmno, Majdanek, and Auschwitz where Jews had been slaughtered demonically. I felt the ghetto wall in Warsaw, and I visited Jewish cemeteries that have been around for centuries. I kept trying to picture myself alive during that horrible time, G-d forbid, in order to try to empathize with the holy people who are no longer living, but I just wasn’t able to.

Baruch Hashem, I have the privilege, the prerogative to live in the land that our ancestors had yearned to just set foot in. I can live a normal life as a proud Jew, and not be afraid to hide my religion – I can practice it. I attend a Jewish school, and will be serving my country next year, as it is the ideal way to show gratitude to the land I grew up in, cried in, laughed in. My living in the land promised to us by G-d as a proud Jew and belonging to the Jewish nation, while continuing along the generations is the greatest revenge. They wanted to see us lose our humanity, and we prove to them that the world does not evolve without the Jewish people. They wanted to see our nation aborted, and we fight back with the simplest of weapons – children. The murderers plan was to abolish the Jewish children first, as that would cut the nation short, for without our children there is no future. By living in Israel I am avenging in the simplest way, and that is the only way to show the Germans, the entire world and all the Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites that the Jewish nation is eternal.

PM Establishes Special Committee for Judea and Samaria

Monday, June 18th, 2012

The government on Sunday voted to put a ministerial committee headed by the Prime Minister in charge of Jewish development in Judea and Samaria , the first time in 16 years that the establishment and expansion of Jewish communities in the biblical heartland will not come under the purview of the full government.

In 1996, then-and-current Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu established Decision 150, making the establishment of new communities contingent on full governmental approval.  The rescinding of that decision in 2012 makes the establishment of those communities the responsibility of an 11-member ministerial committee, with the approval of the defense minister.

The committee will be responsible for formulating policy pertaining to unauthorized construction in Judea and Samaria, as well as authorizing construction and demolitions, and it would formulate policies and principles pertaining to state responses to petitions to the High Court of Justice on Judea and Samaria land issues.

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar called the creation of the committee significant.

Political analyst and Knesset insider Jeremy Man Saltan said the new arrangement has more to do with political maneuvering than the establishment of Jewish communities.  “This new committee strips Defense Minister Barak of some but not all of his authority over settlers and settlements,” Saltan told the Jewish Press.   “Most ministerial committees don’t meet that often and I don’t see the Chairman Prime Minister Netanyahu conducting weekly or even monthly meetings. It is a known Bibi trick to create a committee that rarely meets and buys him time. In reality this will mean very little to the settlement enterprise.”

Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon and Government Services Minister Michael Eitan opposed the decision, with Vice Premier and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom, immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, and  Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau abstaining.

The new committee will be headed by the prime minister, and will include Barak, Mofaz, Saar, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin and Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz.

Peace Now executive director Yariv Oppenheimer warned that the committee would authorize additional communities in Judea and Samaria.

Peres Calls for Renewed Peace Talks in Medal Ceremony

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama, Israeli President Shimon Peres called for a renewal of peace talks with the Palestinians.

“Israel and the Palestinians are ripe today to restart” the peace talks, Peres said at the White House ceremony on Wednesday. “A firm basis already exists. A solution of two national states: A Jewish state – Israel. An Arab state – Palestine. The Palestinians are our closest neighbors. I believe they may become our closest friends.”

Peace talks have been stalled since 2010, with the Palestinians demanding a freeze of settlement building in Judea and Samaria, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisting on no preconditions.

Peres, addressing about 140 dignitaries in the White House East Room, also thanked Obama for pressuring Iran to end its suspected nuclear weapons program..

“Mr. President, you worked hard to build a world coalition to meet this immediate threat.,” Peres said. “You started, rightly, with economic sanctions. You made it clear, rightly again, that all options are on the table.”

Obama also emphasized peacemaking in his remarks.

“Shimon knows that a nation’s security depends not just on the strength of its arms, but upon the righteousness of its deeds — its moral compass,” he said. “He knows, as Scripture teaches, that we must not only seek peace, we must pursue it. And so it has been the cause of his life — peace, security and dignity, for Israelis and Palestinians and all Israel’s Arab neighbors.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/peres-calls-for-renewed-peace-talks-in-medal-ceremony/2012/06/14/

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