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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Six Day War’

Tunisia to Jews: Keep Coming to Djerba for Lag B’Omer

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

The annual Jewish Lag B’Omer pilgrimage to the oldest synagogue in Africa should be maintained as a symbol of Tunisian openness, according to Tunisia’s tourism minister on Tuesday.

Jews have been living on the island of  Djerba since 500 BC, with the local synagogue believed to be the oldest in Africa.  In the 1960s, Tunisia’s Jewish community numbered 100,000.  Most Jews left following the 1967 Six Day War.  Now, almost all of Tunisia’s 1,500 Jews reside on the island near the border of Libya.  Djerba was once called the “Island of Cohanim” because so many of the Jewish families there could trace their ancestry back to Moses’ brother Aaron, the first High Priest and father of the priestly class.

Elyes Fakhfakh’s public support for the annual Jewish event comes as the rise of fundamentalist Islamic Salafi groups threatens to drive out Tunisia’s remaining Jewish population.  Anti-Semitic rhetoric has increased since the overthrow of longtime president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011 as part of the Arab Spring.  Unrest in Tunisia led to the cancellation of Lag B’Omer events that year.  Several thousand Jews – many of whom immigrated to France from Tunisia – are anticipated to attend this year.  On March 9-10, they will celebrate the victory of the Jews over the Romans prior to the destruction of the Second Temple, as well as the passing of the writer of the mystical Zohar, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

Fakhfakh called the annual Jewish celebration in Djerba a rite which “should not change because it illustrates the openness of Tunisia to the world.”  Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali of the Ennahda party Monday concurred with Fakhfakh, saying “the Jewish pilgrims are welcome to Djerba”.

On April 11, Tunisian President Moncep Marzouki, accompanied by Tunisian grand rabbi Haim Bitan, laid a wreath and observed a moment of silence to remember the victims of an Al-Qaida truck bombing, which killed 21 people at the El Djerba synagogue on Djerba ten years ago.  Included in the killings were 16 tourists – 14 from Germany and 2 from France.  At the event, Marzouki called discrimination against Jews and attacks on their person or property “forbidden” and called Jews “an integral part of our people.”

On March 25, Salafi activists demonstrated in favor of the implementation of sharia Islamic law, chanting slogans to “prepare for the fight against the Jews”.

Under the rule of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Jews enjoyed official protected status, a privilege which has not been renewed by the new Islamist government.

EU Report: Israel Judaizing Jerusalem

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

A report by the European Union says that Israel’s policies are  diminishing the prospects of Jerusalem becoming the “shared capital” of Israel and a future Palestinian state.

The EU Heads of Mission Report on East Jerusalem calls on the EU to enact laws that discourages business that benefit Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and accuses Israel of conducting a campaign to “emphasize the Jewish identity of the city, at the expense of its Muslim and Christian residents,” echoing recent attacks on Israel of  ‘Judaizing Jerusalem’ by Iran and Hamas.

The report recommends information-sharing on Jewish activists in East Jerusalem to assess whether such individuals should be allowed to enter EU member states, and also calls for the reinstatement of the Palestine Liberation Organization in East Jerusalem.

“Without Jerusalem as the future capital of two states, a sustainable peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will not be possible,” read the first lines of the report, which is currently making the rounds at foreign ministries across the globe.

Israel maintains that Jerusalem is the the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish State, and this position was enacted into law by its annexation of east Jerusalem on June 27, 1967, following its recapture in the Six-Day War. Prior to the Six-Day War, east Jerusalem was under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Jordan.

Congressmen In Jerusalem: ‘Capital Must Remain United, Israeli’

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

JERUSALEM – Four U.S. congressmen took a Friday tour of eastern Jerusalem earlier this month and received a strategic briefing, courtesy of the Im Eshkachech-Keep Jerusalem organization.

The lawmakers, all Republicans, also visited Hebron and other areas in Judea and Samaria, in a visit that was kept publicly quiet until it was over. As Chaim Silberstein, head of Im Eshkachech, later said, “These representatives do not need to be lectured about being pro-Israel, but they did request tools to help them defend a united Jerusalem in Congress and in the American public.”

The four were Reps. Doug Lamborn of Colorado, co-chair of the Republican Israel Caucus; Louie Gohmert of Texas; John Fleming of Louisiana; and Randy Forbes of Virginia.

“Jerusalem must remain the undivided and eternal capital of the State of Israel,” Lamborn declared. Gohmert went even further, asserting that the “Land of Israel and Jerusalem were given by God to the Jewish People, and giving them up would be both immoral and nonsensical.”

Their Jerusalem tour began at Ammunition Hill, site of a Six-Day War battle that helped secure Jerusalem for Israel. The multimedia presentation put the cease-fire lines in military, geographic and historic perspective.

Next on the itinerary was the gravesite of Shmuel HaNavi (Nebi Samuel). Silberstein provided the visitors with maps and aerial photos to give them a “solid understanding of the geographic and legal realities of eastern Jerusalem.”

The high altitude site of Nebi Samuel, used by Jordan to attack Israeli positions in the 1948 and 1967 wars, provided the congressmen with “a commanding view of the security fence, the growing Arab population, and the chokehold that Jews in the capital would suffer if the city were to be divided,” said Silberstein.

From Nebi Samuel they traveled farther north, taking clear note of the high standard of living in Arab neighborhoods. “When I mentioned polls showing that the majority of eastern Jerusalem Arabs want to continue living under Israeli rule rather than in a Palestinian Authority state,” said Silberstein, “they said they could understand why.”

They then proceeded to the site of the biblical Givat Sha’ul. In 1967, the late King Hussein of Jordan was serenely building himself a summer palace on this scenic hilltop when his workers were abruptly interrupted by the Six-Day War, during which Israel liberated the area in mid-construction. Ever since, the partially completed and instantly recognizable skeleton of the almost-palace has stood untouched on the hill.

Originally a lone structure amid pristine mountaintops, it now provides a breathtaking view of the many surrounding Jewish and Arab neighborhoods – and, noted Silberstein, an appropriate background for Im Eshkachech’s presentation on the strategic and security ramifications of dividing Jerusalem.

The Americans were also treated to a panoramic view of Jerusalem from the Mt. of Olives, overlooking the Old City and the Temple Mount.

 

The Right Not To Be Thrown Into The Sea

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

This month marks the 44th anniversary of one of the most momentous miracles of modern times, when Israel, facing annihilation at the hands of its enemies, emerged triumphant in the 1967 Six-Day War.
 
Existential fear quickly dissolved into breathtaking joy as the Jewish state vanquished its foes, reuniting Jerusalem and reclaiming large swathes of our ancient homeland.
 
Our adversaries, who had gleefully pledged to feed us to the fish in the Mediterranean, were forced to look on as their troops beat a hasty and humiliating retreat.
 
The stunning victory of 1967 had all the markings of Divine intervention. It was a gift from Heaven to a besieged and beleaguered people.
 
After nearly two millennia we were reunited at last with the cradle of Jewish civilization in Judea and Samaria, and with the heart of the nation, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
 
And yet it seems, more than four decades later, that many Jews and Israelis still just cannot forgive themselves for winning.
 
In what has become an annual ritual, a variety of media pundits, left-wing activists and even some officials launch into mournful sessions of hand-wringing and breast-beating. They bemoan the outcome of the Six-Day War, grumble about Israel’s success in reclaiming Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, and sound as if they would have preferred going down in defeat.
 
Displaying an extraordinary lack of appreciation and an exceptional lack of historical perspective, these critics long to give up the hard-earned fruits of that war of self-defense to the Palestinians, all in the vain hope of mollifying an incorrigible foe.
 
How could so many forget so much in so short a time?
 
It seems the only way to explain this phenomenon is to borrow a term from psychology: Certain parts of the Israeli public and world Jewry are clearly suffering from what I refer to as “Battered Nation Syndrome.”
 
Like a victim of ongoing domestic abuse, the advocates of surrender to the Palestinians cannot muster the wherewithal to hit back at the abuser. All the hallmarks of the syndrome are there.
 
Naturally, this distorted worldview results in an almost obsessive focus on Israel’s perceived faults as lying at the root of the conflict with our neighbors.
 
Consequently, the actions of the Palestinians are downplayed and minimized, excused and ignored, and Israel’s policy-making process instead begins to resemble a good old-fashioned self-inflicted guilt trip.
 
But it is time to break out of this collective funk and start viewing the world the way it really is.
 
To begin with, Israel should stop apologizing for defeating the Arab states in 1967. Like any other nation, we have the right to defend ourselves, and we have the right not to be thrown into the sea.
 
What many of the defeatists conveniently choose to ignore is what led up to the 1967 war: increased Palestinian terror, massive Arab military buildups, and public threats by Arab leaders to annihilate the Jewish state.
 
They also forget that two years prior to 1967, back when Israel did not yet “occupy” the territories, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol put forward a proposal that could have resolved the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all.
 
Speaking to the Knesset on May 17, 1965, Eshkol suggested turning the 1949 armistice agreements into peace treaties, and offered to hold direct talks with the Arab states in order to do so.
 
Pointing out that Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon combined had 60 times the land area of the Jewish state, the premier noted that there was no logical reason for the Arabs to continue to pursue war.
 
Instead, he offered a vision of peace that included open borders, bilateral trade, economic cooperation and freedom of access to the holy sites.
 
All he asked in return, said Eshkol, was “full respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the states in the region.”
 
But Israel’s offer of peace was met two years later with a clear and unequivocal Arab response. Egypt and Syria mobilized their armies and their people, and vowed to destroy the Jewish state.
 
Fortunately, with God’s help we were able to defeat them, depriving our enemies of the territorial platform from which they had sought our destruction.
 
Instead of grumbling about the result, we should be rejoicing in it.
 
The fact is that Israel neither asked for war nor initiated it in 1967, so let’s stop acting like we did.
 
We do not owe the Arabs anything for defeating them, and we certainly do not need to give them any further territory from which to attack us.
 

They tried to kill us. We won. Get over it.

 

 

Michael Freund is the founder and chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based organization that assists lost tribes and “hidden Jewish communities” to return to the Jewish people. He can be contacted at michael@shavei.org. His column appears the third week of each month.

Revising The Six-Day War

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Every few years at around this time the Monitor reflects on how perceptions have changed so drastically regarding Israel’s massive victory in the 1967 Six-Day War.

   Revisionists whose initial attempts at recasting Israel’s image from David to Goliath were focused on events surrounding Israel’s creation began, in the early 1980s, to characterize the Six-Day War – which for the first decade or so after its occurrence was widely seen as a case of Israel’s justified response to Arab threats and mobilization of forces – as an act of premeditated Israeli aggression.
   Not that there weren’t critics of Israel ready to pounce on the Jewish state even in the immediate aftermath of the war. On July 7, 1967, the executive committee of the liberal National Council of Churches released a statement lambasting Israel for the “unilateral retention of lands she has occupied since June 5.”
   Also on July 7, 1967, a remarkable letter in The New York Times made the equation between Israelis and Nazis that in later years would become all too familiar:
   “All persons who seek to view the Middle East problem with honesty and objectivity will stand aghast at Israel’s onslaught, the most violent, ruthless (and successful) aggression since Hitler’s blitzkrieg across Western Europe in the summer of 1940, aiming not at victory but at annihilation,” wrote Dr. Henry P. Van Dusen, a former president of Union Theological Seminary, the academic centerpiece of liberal Protestantism in America.
By and large, however, most Americans – and Europeans, for that matter – cheered Israel’s triumph in the Six-Day War. But as Israel over the years came to lose favor among liberal and leftist academics and journalists, there was a significant shift in the way the war was portrayed.
Post-Zionist Israeli academics played no small role in the recasting of Israeli officials as opportunistic warmongers who used the supposedly empty threats of bellicose Arab leaders as an excuse to gobble up vast expanses of Arab territory.
By the late 1980s this remarkably dishonest narrative had become the accepted wisdom in liberal academic and media precincts and has remained so ever since. When the English translation of Israeli journalist (and pioneering post-Zionist) Tom Segev’s book on the Six-Day War was published in 2007, reviewers in liberal newspapers and magazines fell all over themselves in praising the book’s Israel-as-aggressor theme.
Every now and then, however, an article or a column will appear – invariably from a conservative writer – reminding readers about what really happened in 1967. The military historian and New York Post columnist Ralph Peters wrote just such a piece in 2007, on the 40th anniversary of the war.
Reading the revisionists, he wrote, one would think that “prior to June 1967, Israelis had lived in an Age of Aquarius, eating lotus blossoms amid friendly Bedouin neighbors who tucked them in at night. The critics also imply that, by some unexplained magic, Israel might have avoided war and its consequences.”
Contrary to the doomsayers, “June 1967 announced Israel as a regional great power – less than 20 years after the state’s desperate founding . In the real world, outcomes aren’t perfect. There are no wars to end all wars. The proper question is, ‘Are you better off than before the shooting started?’ Judged by that common-sense standard, Israel is vastly better off than it was on the eve of the Six-Day War. Thanks to the heroes of June 1967, Israel survived. Miracle enough.”
Peters’s words echoed the spirit of a column written two decades earlier by George F. Will.
“It has been 20 years since those six days that shook the world,” Will wrote. “Because of what happened then, a united Jerusalem is capital of Israel, and Israel never again will be 12 miles wide at the waist. Because of the war the West Bank, which Jordan seized militarily and held for 19 years, is rightfully Israel’s to dispose of as it deems prudent.

“And, because of the echoing thunderclap from Israel 20 Junes ago, the security of Israel and hence the spiritual well-being of world Jewry have been enhanced. The Holocaust ended in 1945, but the Holocaust as aspiration was not destroyed until June 1967, when Israel smashed encircling armies that had the inescapably genocidal mission of obliterating the national gathering of Jews.”

 

 

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

It Doesn’t Make Sense – Or Does It?

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Some years after the Six-Day War, I was invited to address the IDF as well as various communities in Israel. In the euphoria that followed the spectacular victory of the Six-Day War, gratitude to Hashem, proclaiming His guiding hand, was blatantly missing.

We deluded ourselves into believing “kochi v’otzem yadie – my strength, my might achieved this.” I was so terribly afraid of the consequences of this attitude that I called a press conference in the hope that someone might listen.

“The nations of the world begrudge us victory,” I said. “Yes, for a few moments after the Holocaust, their consciences bothered them But, alas, I knew that would soon pass and the hatred would resurface. There is only one way we can protect ourselves, and that is to have Israel’s representatives at the UN and throughout the world unabashedly proclaim that we returned to our G-d-given land- that our right to that land was granted by Almighty G-d Himself and we have a deed to prove it. And even as we make that declaration, we must point to our Torah and read the passages that state unequivocally that this land will belong to us, the Jewish people, for all eternity; that G-d Himself deeded it to us as an eternal inheritance; that the covenant sealed at Sinai proclaims that we the Jewish people, the Torah, and the land are one.”

My plea went unheeded. At best, people smiled at my naiveté, while others just dismissed it as “religious fanaticism.” And all these years later, nothing has changed. With the exception of Menachem Begin, not one of Israel’s leaders has mentioned Hashem or recognized it was His guiding hand that enabled Israel to triumph. This failure to recognize Hashem is evident in many areas. Israel’s beautiful, moving anthem, Hatikvah, would be so much more meaningful if G-d’s name were mentioned. I could cite other examples, but what is important is that we understand we are a holy nation that stood at Sinai and heard the voice of G-d, and that voice is embedded in our neshamas.

With every passing year, the demonization of the Jewish state escalates. Where once, for a very brief moment, Israeli soldiers were held in esteem, today they are regarded as oppressors of the downtrodden who occupy land that does not belong to them.

In vain does Israel reach out with compassion to those who attack it; in vain does Israel extend the hand of peace. From the very moment of Israel’s rebirth, Jewish blood has flowed freely in the land, but few were the voices raised on our behalf. Even so, we are witnessing today something we thought would never occur.

I write this not because, G-d forbid, I want to criticize our people, but precisely because I love our people and our land. We have undergone more than enough suffering already, and in this time of crisis, even as in pre-Holocaust Europe, doors are once again being shut against us. Before it’s too late, we have to recognize that our help, our salvation, will come not from Washington or any other capital on earth. But it can and will come from the greatest capital of all – the Heavenly Capital. It is only there that our destiny is shaped.

It is that Capital to which we must cry out – and if we do, our help will come.

President Obama last week called on Israel to return to its pre-Six-Day War borders, a suicidal course the Jewish state can never consider. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, delivered a powerful response, explaining how, throughout the centuries, the Jewish people suffered barbaric torture and persecution that saw millions slaughtered, but never renounced their right to the land of Israel or their hope of return. He spoke from the heart and you had to be a stone not to be moved by it. But with all that, there was one word that was blatantly missing, and the absence of that word renders Israel vulnerable to further attack. That one word was Hashem – Almighty G-d.

If only, I thought to myself, he had added to his powerful plea, “We have returned to ourG-d given land.” But that one sentence never surfaced.

The next time you see and hear mobs shouting that Israel and the Jews must be exterminated, consider what would happen if the word “blacks” were substituted for “Jews.” And ask yourself what country, other than Israel, is expected to hand over its land to a people who openly proclaim that they will never recognize that country’s right to exist.

What’s more, think about whether any other nation has given up a large chunk of territory, removing thousands of its own citizens by force, giving up homes, synagogues, and land they converted from a desert into beautiful gardens and orchards – only to see that place become a launching pad for deadly terrorist attacks.

And it wasn’t only these places. Remember Oslo, when Israel gave up land for the creation of a Palestinian state and then supplied weapons for a Palestinian police force, only to see those weapons turned against it? Why, having seen and experienced all this, would anyone believe the answer is to give away yet more territory to people who have shown time and again that their singular agenda is to wipe Israel off the map?

Prime Minister Netanyahu explained that Israel is a nation that suffered one Holocaust too many and cannot risk another slaughter. Instead of understanding his plea, he was chastised in the media for lecturing the president in the White House.

There is something here that does not make sense, something every rational mind can only wonder at. And yet there is an answer, a solution, an antidote: “If only My people would heed Me . If Israel would walk in My ways, in an instant I would subdue their foes, and against their tormentors turn my hand…” (Psalm 81)

The War Room Israel Needs

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Throughout its 62 years of independent existence, Israel has had to defend itself from attacks by Arab states and in more recent decades from Palestinian terrorism and the Lebanese Shi’ite Hizbullah. Despite its existential struggle against the genocidal intentions of the Arab world and the Palestinians, Israel failed to establish an Information Ministry that would contextually present a Middle East reality: A Jewish democratic state struggling against dictatorial regimes that deny democratic rights to their people and religious freedom to minorities, and who choose to impede the progress of their people while using Israel as the scapegoat.

In the early days of the state, the horrors of the Holocaust loomed large in the minds of Europeans and Americans, and the bravery of a band of Jews who defended themselves, and ultimately defeated five Arab armies, elicited the admiration of the political Left as well as segments of the political Right. Israel was portrayed as the proverbial “David” fighting the Arab “Goliath.”

Israel’s stunning victory in the 1967 Six-Day War changed the way the country was viewed. No longer the perennial “victim,” it was now seen by many in academia and the media as a tool of “American imperialism.” The Left resented Israel’s strong pro-American tilt and, in short order, found a new “victim” to support – the Palestinian Arabs. Little attention was given by the Left to the foundational underpinnings of the Palestine Liberation Organization or that it was created by Egypt’s dictator Nasser to harass the Jewish state. Moreover, they ignored the fact that the PLO was formed in 1964, long before the Six-Day War and that its charter called for the liquidation of Israel.

In other words, the true “struggle” of the Palestinians was not to create a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza but rather to replace the Jewish state of Israel.

Israel’s policy makers were and have been dismissive of allocating resources for a Ministry of Information or to a central agency that would articulate Israel’s side of the story. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War and with the help of billions of petro-dollars, the Arabs were able to enlist the services of the best European and American P.R. firms and lobbyists. They created a powerful narrative: Israel as “occupier” and “victimizer,” the Palestinians as “victims.” The Left, historically attracted to “liberation,” whether in theological or political terms, quickly embraced the narrative and the cause.

The 1977 surprise victory of the Likud Party in Israel over the establishment Labor (in power since the founding of the state in 1948) presented an immediate need to create an Information Ministry. Menachem Begin, the newly elected and much vilified Israeli prime minister, asked a trusted colleague and friend, political commentator Shmuel Katz, to head the new ministry. Begin had selected Moshe Dayan, the symbol of Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, to be foreign minister. Dayan gave Begin an ultimatum: either Information stays as a section in the Foreign Ministry or Begin would have to look for another foreign minister. Begin relented.

In an August 16, 2001 Jerusalem Post piece, Shmuel Katz wrote: “To the aid of the Arabs have come a host of allies. Classic anti-Semitism, of course, now posing as ‘legitimate’ political anti-Zionism, but also a battery of the leading media in the world. Examples: The Times of London, Le Monde, the BBC, CNN, etc. In all of them there are regular distortions or suppression of news – so as to make the Arabs look good and the Jews look bad . Israel’s reply is exemplified by the opinions expressed by two foreign ministers, each in his time responsible for hasbara: Moshe Dayan, who said ‘We don’t need hasbara. It is important what we do, not what we say,’ and Shimon Peres who believed that we shouldn’t trouble our heads with history.”

Katz saw the role of Israeli hasbara (public relations and information) as one of not just “occasional sudden sallies” but as a separate and permanent department in the government headed by a minister dedicated to this specific mission. “He can have no other business, and in the debates at the cabinet table he must inject an appreciation of the impact of information. His senior staff must maintain a 24-hour-a-day service, must be experts on all the subjects which have a bearing on the dispute with the Arabs: Jewish history in Eretz Israel, Zionist history and the British Mandate, the history of Arab claims “

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-war-room-israel-needs/2010/09/01/

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