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June 26, 2016 / 20 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘sovereignty’

Mashiach, Mashiach, Mashiach, Da Da Da Da DaDa

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Who is Mashiach? What is Mashiach? What’s he all about? Strange as it may seem, we learn about Mashiach from the wicked Bilaam, in the Torah portion of Balak. While the verses are obscure, the Rambam explains them in The Laws of Kings and Their Wars. Since many Diasporians picture the Mashiach to be some type of fairytale hero who will whisk them back to Israel on some kind of magical carpet when he flies down to earth dressed like Superman, with super powers and X-ray vision, we will try to present a more realistic, down-to-earth picture.

The name Mashiach (often translated as the Messiah) is derived from a Hebrew word meaning the “anointed one” – Hashem’s anointed king. The belief in the Mashiach’s coming is one of the Thirteen Fundamental Principles of our faith (13 Principles of the Rambam, Principle 12). Since in our very time, the Almighty has been gathering our scattered exiles to Israel from all over the globe, Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook made a point to explain the concept of Mashiach to his students at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem, emphasizing that the Mashiach wasn’t only the ideal Jewish king, but also a gradually developmental process which evolves over time.

The Rambam writes:

“Anyone who does not believe in the Mashiach, or who does not anticipate his coming, not only denies all of the prophets, he denies the validity of the Torah and Moshe Rabenu, our teacher, since the Torah gives witness to him, as it says, ‘When all these things will come upon you (all the tribulations of exile), then the Lord your God will turn your captivity and have compassion on you, and return and gather you from the nations’” (Rambam, Laws of Kings and Their Wars, 11:1).

Believing in the Torah means believing in the Mashiach and yearning for his arrival. As part of the 13 Principles of Faith, we say, “I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Mashiach, and even though he may delay, nevertheless, I look forward to his coming every day.”

This means that when a Jew in the Diaspora is eating a bagel and lox and reading The New York Times, or The Jewish Press, or when he’s going to watch the new Woody Allen movie on Motzei Shabbat, he should be yearning for the Mashiach to come. In the Gemara, Shabbat, it is written, “At the hour when a man faces heavenly judgment, they say to him, did you yearn for the salvation of Israel?” (Shabbat 31A). Yearning for the coming of Mashiach, and the salvation he will bring, is complete Emunah/faith. Thus, the Ramban writes, someone who does not believe in him, or anticipate his coming, denies the prophets of Israel and Moshe, our teacher, since the Torah gives witness to him.

How does the Torah give witness to him? The Rambam answers with the verse, “When all these things will come upon you (all the tribulations of exile), then the Lord your God will turn your captivity and have compassion on you, and return and gather you from the nations” (Devarim, 30:1-3).

Please notice, my friends, that the ingathering of the exiles is proof of the Mashiach. As the Rambam makes clear, the incredible ingathering of our outcasts to the Land of Israel, an occurrence we have witness in our time, this is a revelation of Mashiach, an actual stage in the days of Mashiach, through the concrete aliyah of Jews from all over the globe, and not through miracles.

During the long generation we spent in galut, Mashiach became a misunderstood concept. Partly due to the pernicious infiltration of Xtian doctrines into our collective subconscious, Mashiach was envisioned by many people as a religious superhero who would arrive on the scene in a flash of miracles and wonders, and lead all the Jews out of the ghetto and back to the Promised Land. Helpless and impotent in galut, and constantly at the mercies of the goyim and their governments, we had no way of actualizing our dreams of returning to Zion, and thus this Superman fantasy of Mashiach seemed to be the only way we could be redeemed from the harsh realities of our lives. When centuries passed in waiting and disappointment, a philosophy of passivity arose. We were to pray and wait, and the Mashiach would do all the work when he came. The demand arose that the Redemption occur all at once, and be complete from the start, and not in a gradual, natural, process of historical development and events which came to completion with the passage of time (See our book, Torat Eretz Yisrael, Chapters 11 and 12, from which this essay is condensed.)

Tzvi Fishman

High Walls and Golden Domes

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Amid the recent rocket barrage that has terrorized southern Israel, the Israeli defense community – as well as the general public – has been consoled by the resounding success of the “Iron Dome”, which is reported to have successfully intercepted 85% of all incoming Grad rockets. On the surface, this “good news” offers not only respite from the fear and trauma that permeates Israeli society today, but also offers a much-needed sense of security. In reality though, the Iron Dome represents a total failure of vision and the concept of deterrence for the state of Israel. That is, we wait for our enemies to attack before demonstrating our strength, militarily and morally; and the only measure of success is the effectiveness of our reaction.

No one can deny that the Iron Dome represents a revolution in modern warfare, but this cannot obscure the critical fact that it entrenches a political myopia that has dire ramifications for military strategy. Considering that each Iron Dome battery costs an estimated $50 million, and each missile costs between $70,000-$100,000, the long-term cost for its continued deployment suggests that it should be renamed the “Golden Dome.” Moreover, defense officials have said that Israel needs to deploy at least 13 batteries to effectively safeguard against rockets fired from Gaza and Lebanon. It currently only has three operational batteries, all in the south.

Proponents of the Iron Dome laud the fact that it is able to determine a rocket’s probable target and then decide if it is worth sending one of these costly anti-missiles to protect civilians or let the rocket destroy “a few crops or trees.” Still, our sense of sovereignty is so eroded that we resign ourselves to the violent encroachment on our land by Gaza terrorists, while our sense of power is derived narrowly from our ability to determine the extent of the damage.

A state cannot accept such daily encroachments on its sovereignty as a fait accompli, but the Iron Dome – as well as the separation barrier – has succeeded in normalizing diminished sovereignty and reframing the issue from eliminating the threat to containing it. Indeed, both the Iron Dome and the barrier save lives, but Israel can ill-afford for these these limited “victories” to serve as a substitute for an actual strategy.

The Iron Dome is another, hi-tech manifestation of the siege mentality that guides Israel’s cultural and political narrative. From media to academia to politics, Israel’s celebration of this so-called “strategic” weapon system – that neither neutralizes its threats nor enhances Israel’s geo-political position – is an indictment of the degree to which Israel has accepted this siege mentality, and of its resignation to a permanent defensive posture. Instead of tools of victory, Israel designs modes of survival, where a siege in our backyards and playgrounds is preferable to a frontal assault on our enemies in their territory. But it is only with a proactive outlook and with offensive instrumentalities that threats are neutralized or deterred. Seen through this lens, Israel only truly enjoyed such a posture in the six years between its preemptive Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War.

Iron Dome may represent a new layer of defense, but it in no way brings Israel closer to eliminating the threats emanating from Gaza. Rather, it only keeps us on par with them: our military-technological innovation combating their blockade-busting, weapons-procuring creativity. Wars are not won by repelling attacks, but by taking the initiative. A nation should never make the mistake of believing that such defensive weapons can shield it from overwhelming force. Overwhelming force must always be countered with overwhelming force. Israel’s isolated regional position demands a new paradigm of deterrence, one that Israel can and will employ on an asymmetric battlefield, one that will dominate its enemies and take the battle to them.

Having the right political and military posture requires as a prerequisite cultural vigor that promotes initiative and rewards risk-taking. Yes, Israelis are known for these qualities, but of late they have been employed primarily for defensive purposes. Only by a true recognition and reassertion of its sovereignty in what is clearly a Just War – where inaction and/or passive defense has far worse results than the bellicose but hollow accusation of “disproportionate response” – will circumstances change for Israel.

There are various initiatives that Israel could undertake, depending on what one considers Israel’s greatest threats. They range from reoccupying a buffer area in Gaza and deploying the Iron Dome from within Palestinian territory, to intensifying investment in its UAV and space programs for the purpose of effective cryptologic intelligence-gathering and weaponization. Whatever the direction, it must be forward-thinking and strategic in nature. Israel’s instrumentalities of power should force the enemy to adapt to it, and not vice versa, as with the Iron Dome.

This is the only way to break a siege, not by building one’s walls higher, but by making one’s reach greater and more devastating. Iron Dome, despite the great technology involved and tactical advantages it provides, does neither.

Rafi Harkham and Ariel Harkham

Israel, Vatican Reach Agreement on Sovereignty Issues

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

In understandings reached last weekend between Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and his counterpart from the Vatican, the Church renounced its demand for sovereignty over the location of the “Last Supper” on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. In addition, the Vatican agreed that it would start paying property tax on properties in Israel. In return, Israel agreed to consider giving the Vatican first priority in leasing opportunities and access to the site.

The agreement was the culmination of almost two decades of negotiations between Israel and the Vatican.

Jewish Press Staff

Assad Rejects Arab League Call to Resign

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Bashar al-Assad has rejected an Arab League plan whereby he would be replaced as president by his vice-president as a precursor for the formation of a national unity government.

“Syria rejects the decisions of the Arab League ministerial council . . . and considers them a violation of its national sovereignty and a flagrant interference in its internal affairs,” Syrian state television quoted an official source as saying.

The Arab League also announced that it would extend its largely ineffective and much-maligned observer mission in Syria despite Saudi Arabia’s withdrawal.

“Syria condemns this decision which is part of the conspiracy against Syria,” the official source said, criticizing the League for ignoring Assad’s pledge to institute reforms.

Jewish Press Staff

Jewish population in Judea and Samaria tops 342,000

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

The Jewish population in Judea and Samaria rose by 4.3% in 2011, reaching 342,414.

The statistic was released by the Interior Ministry, and does not count the approximately 275,000 Jews in neighborhoods in Jerusalem over which the PA demands sovereignty, but which Israel deems to be part of undivided Jerusalem.

 

Jewish Press Staff

Abbas Rejects Arafat’s Statehood Strategy

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Over the past several weeks the media have been enamored by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s push to obtain United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state. The media coverage has exclusively focused on the political aspects of Abbas’s effort and its relationship to the so called peace process involving the Israel and PA.

Lost in the circus-like coverage of the UN bid is virtually any mention of the applicable legal issues, despite Abbas’s deliberate departure from Yasir Arafat’s two-decade strategy of seeking approval of the PA’s statehood claim by invoking international law.

Starting in the late 1980s, the PA’s numerous legal advocates, notably led by former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark, have repeatedly tried to wrest judicial recognition of a Palestinian state in  dozens of legal proceedings in the federal courts by arguing that the Palestinians already have a sovereign state under the legal standards of international law.

Despite their best efforts, every attempt (at both the district court and appellate levels in Washington, New York, Rhode Island and Boston) has ended in utter failure.

For several obvious reasons, the strivings of advocacy groups, and even legitimate nationalities, for recognition of independence is not simply a political matter. For instance, without objective legal criteria of sovereignty, dissident groups could capriciously feign independence. Therefore universally recognized norms of international law contain criteria by which a true sovereign state can be identified and recognized.

Unlike Abbas’s current political gambit in the United Nations, Arafat urged U.S. courts to apply these norms of international law to the Palestinians. For decades, the PA’s lawyers (personally supervised by Arafat) have invoked the application of international law arguing that it meets the criteria for statehood.

This strategy began after Palestinian terrorists pushed the wheelchair-bound 69-year-old Leon Klinghoffer over the rails of the Achille Lauro and into the Mediterranean Sea. In response to a suit by the Klinghoffer family, Clark asserted that the PLO could not be held liable because it was in actuality a “State of Palestine” and thus shielded by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, an ancient legal precept that immunizes foreign states from lawsuits. The Klinghoffer court soundly rejected this argument.

Subsequently, enactment of the Anti Terrorism Act of 1990 (also known as the “Klinghoffer Act”) ushered in the modern era of terrorism litigation during which dozens of victims brought suit against the PLO and the PA.  Each time they were sued, Ramsey Clark again raised the sovereign immunity defense, trying both to ward off damage claims and to give judicial birth by obtaining legal recognition of a Palestinian state.  However, every attempt was rebuffed by the federal judges who consistently ruled that the PA did not meet the criteria of sovereignty under international law.

Ironically, in each case the terror victims agreed with Arafat and Clark that the determinative standards for statehood were based on the Montevideo Convention of 1933 as later codified in the Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations § 201 (1987) which requires “an entity that has a defined territory and a permanent population, under the control of its own government, and that engages in, or has the capacity to engage in, formal relations with other such entities.”

The Ungar case, in which two orphans sued the PA for the murder of their parents, was the first to wind its way to an appellate court. After a thorough routing at the trial level, the PA revived its sovereignty arguments in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. In the leading opinion on the subject, Judge Bruce Selya wrote that the PA’s statehood claim “has a quicksilver quality:  it is hard to pin down exactly when or how the defendants assert that Palestine achieved statehood.”

David J. Strachman

Theresa Lato’s Legacy

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
            “My mother will be buried at the Yarkon Cemetary, Geula Hall, on Wednesday, March 17, at 11:30.”
The terse message from Eli Lato delivered a stunning, unexpected blow. Does “will be buried,” mean that Theresa Lato is no more? Is Theresa Lato, the frail, soft-spoken lady who was like a one-woman armada fighting simultaneously on multiple fronts -silenced forever?
Slowly, achingly the knowledge seeped into my consciousness: Theresa Lato, the gentle lady with a passionate commitment to Israel will be interred in the soil of the land she deeply loved.
My sense of loss grew as the car approached the Yarkon Cemetery near Petah Tikva, in central Israel for the funeral. Theresa’s words reverberated within me as I drove past silvery gravestones in the sprawling burial ground:        

      “I do everything in my power to ensure the survival of a sustainable Israel, and a sustainable planet,” I had heard her say with steely determination.
         “By pressuring Israel to give up land the U.S. deprives Israel of its sovereignty,” she had explained.”Surrender of land is irreversible. Loss of habitat is the chief cause of extinction,” she had warned. “For nearly two thousand years during the Diaspora Jews were subject to outrageous abuse, torture and annihilation. With no land of their own, they were defenseless. In 1929, before Israel became a state, Arabs massacred Jews in Hebron, the founding city of Judaism. These atrocities continued for decades, simply because Jews, without their land, were defenseless!”
        And: “Geologic features, like rivers, usually determine national boundaries, they are defense measures. The `West Bank,’ a 1964 terminology to obscure Israel’s historic right to Judea and Samaria, is more than a river bank–it’s territory. Arabs, now called ‘Palestinians,’ never had sovereignty over this territory.”
           Who was Theresa Lato and how did she come by this wisdom that has eluded so
many of our leaders?

          Theresa Lipton was born in the Bronx, N.Y. in 1912. After graduating from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology,nineteen-year-old Theresa worked as a researcher. In 1946 she married Harold Lato, a successful trial lawyer who eventually became Chief of Examiners. With prophetic foresight Theresa founded the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality in 1970, long before most people knew the concept of environmentalism. As her ideas were ahead of their time, Theresa had to struggle to keep the institution alive, expending time and effort on its newsletter, researching and writing groundbreaking articles. By the time the rest of the world caught up to Theresa’s prescience about the significance of environmentalism, her foundation had developed into a strong, active organization, one of Theresa’s remarkable achievements, worthy of the Nobel Prize.

            And how about Theresa Lato’s prescient definition of “sustainable Israel?” “Tiny Israel’s surrender of territories is suicidal when you consider her vulnerability to hostile, land-rich Arab neighbors whose credit rating for keeping promises is subzero!”

        The funeral is over, the larger-than-life woman has been committed to the earth but her voice continues to thunder in my inner world:

           “Israel has a more valid claim to its land than the United States has to America,” I had heard her declare with the certainty of a prophet.
For me Theresa Lato’s legacy lives on beyond the grave.
Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/impact-women-history/theresa-latos-legacy-2/2010/05/12/

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