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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘tribes’

Jordan: Is King Abdullah Losing Support of the Tribes?

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Walid Obeidat, Jordan’s new ambassador to Israel, a member of one of Jordan’s largest and most influential tribes, deserves an award for being one of the most courageous diplomats not only in his country, but in the entire Arab world.

His tribe has now “disowned” him because he agreed to serve as ambassador to Israel, which has a peace treaty with Jordan.

This is a particularly harsh punishment: it means that Obeidat would no longer enjoy the backing of his tribe.

Clans often “disown” one of their members when he or she is involved in an extremely serious crime or an act of treason.

It also means that he and his wife and children would be boycotted by the tribe for the rest of their lives.

Obeidat is courageous not only because he decided openly to challenge his tribe, but also for rejecting a $5 million bribe that was offered to him by the tribe in return for turning down the offer.

The tribe had also offered to nominate him as as its candidate in the upcoming parliamentary election, but Obeidat insisted on rejecting that offer, as well.

A defiant Obeidat is set to assume his new job this week after presenting his credentials to President Shimon Peres.

“By accepting this post, he has crossed all the red lines,” the Obeidat tribe said in a statement published last week. “The tribe was and remains loyal to the liberation of all Palestinian land, from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.”

The Jordanian tribe is now planning a huge rally against Israel that will coincide with the ambassador’s arrival in Tel Aviv. Other tribes have been invited to join the rally, posing a major and unprecedented challenge to the monarchy.

By coming out against the decision to appoint a new ambassador to Israel, the Obeidat tribe is openly challenging King Abdullah and questioning his policies and decisions.

The Obeidat’s response to the appointment of the new ambassador is a sign of increased tensions between Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the kingdom’s Bedouin tribes.

This is not about hating Israel as much as it is about King Abdullah losing the traditional support and loyalty of his kingdom’s tribes.

Some of these tribes have recently come out in public against the beleaguered monarch, who is already facing strong criticism for failing to implement meaningful reforms and combat rampant corruption.

Yet these tribes have also stopped the Jordanian authorities from taking legal action against members who are suspected of corruption and other crimes.

Some of the tribes, according to sources in Amman, have formed alliances with the king’s Muslim Brotherhood rivals, who are spearheading the current wave of anti-government protests in Jordan.

There is nothing that King Abdullah can do at this stage other than attempt to “compensate” or “appease” his erstwhile supporters, probably by offering them financial aid and government jobs.

If the king fails to do so, his kingdom will be headed toward more instability in the coming weeks and months.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

When Israeli Journalists Cross The Line

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Over the course of the past week, the Israeli media have been consumed by reports of an impending decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to launch a military strike against Iranian nuclear installations.

The hullabaloo began last Friday with a screaming headline in Yediot Aharonot, the country’s most widely read newspaper, which declared that “Netanyahu and Barak want to attack Iran in the autumn.” The article was penned by Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer, two veteran political reporters and commentators.

Not content with revealing the possible timing of a raid on Israel’s enemies, the story went further and sought to undermine the legitimacy of such an operation by insisting that the move is not supported by senior Israeli security officials.

Let’s stop for a moment and consider the ramifications of this report. Assuming it is true, Yediot Aharonot just gave a heads-up to Iran to bolster its defenses and be prepared for an attack within the next two to three months, something for which the ayatollahs are most certainly grateful.

After all, why should Tehran go to the trouble of investing in intelligence-gathering operations against the Jewish state when journalists at Yediot will do the work for them?

Just in case this was insufficiently damaging to Israel, Yediot’s intrepid duo decided to toss still more gasoline on the flames by intimating that Netanyahu and Barak would like to carry out the attack prior to the U.S. election in order to help Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the race for the White House.

What Yediot Aharonot did was nothing less than scurrilous and shameful. Indeed, it boggles the mind that even as Israel faces an existential threat, and a fateful decision over how to confront it, Israeli journalists would throw caution to the wind and undermine the Jewish state’s national security in such an audacious and carefree manner.

Needless to say, the Yediot report naturally compelled other journalists to focus their attention on the story and see what they could dig up as well.

Not to be outdone, Israel’s Channel 2 television decided to devote most of its Friday night news program to the issue of Iran, informing viewers that the premier has “almost finally” decided to launch a military strike in the autumn against Iran. The final decision, it declared, would be taken soon.

Don’t be surprised if in the coming weeks there are more revelations to come, as journalists work their sources and seek to squeeze out still more scoops and headlines on what promises to be a big story.

To be sure, the reporters at Yediot and Channel 2 would argue that they were just doing their jobs, gathering information and keeping the public informed about a major development.

Is an impending Israeli attack on Iran a good story? For sure. Is it relevant to public debate? Absolutely.

But that does not mean it is right or responsible to report it.

As the old saying in boxing has it, “Never telegraph your punches.” You don’t indicate to your opponent what you are planning to do or when, for the simple reason that he can then take the requisite countermeasures to undermine the effectiveness of your plans.

This is so obvious that it should not even need to be said.

And yet this basic, simple truth does not seem to have mattered all that much to some of Israel’s leading journalists.

If I were a pilot in the Israeli air force, or a soldier in the special forces, I would be scratching my head and wondering why the media would choose to endanger us all by letting Iran know when to expect an attack.

This is the kind of reckless reporting that not only affects people’s lives but could very well endanger them. It is possible that Israel’s young men and women in uniform will soon be asked to risk life and limb to take out Iran’s nuclear program. Was there really a need to let the Iranians know when to be ready?

Don’t get me wrong. I am all in favor of a vibrant and free press, one which challenges governments and serves as a watchdog for protecting democracy and civil liberties.

But there is a fine line between responsible reporting and undermining the national interest.

Cut U.S. Funding To The UN

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

In recent weeks the United Nations has gone on the warpath against Israel, defaming the Jewish state and providing aid and comfort to its enemies.

Indeed, in a series of moves, the world body has sent the Jewish state a clear and unmistakable message that its decades-old hostility remains as potent as ever.

First, there was the decision last month by UNESCO – the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – to establish a chair at the Islamic University of Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas and has become a hotbed of Muslim extremism and terror.

This is the very same university whose laboratories have been used by Hamas to produce explosives and rockets that were later deployed against Israel. And in May, the University’s dean of Koranic studies called for the Islamic conquest of Spain and the Vatican.

It is simply unconscionable that UNESCO, which is ostensibly dedicated to “building peace in the minds of men and women”, would choose to partner with a Hamas-run outfit that inculcates students with anti-Israel and anti-Western values.

Not to be outdone, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) decided to get into the act last week by turning up the heat on Israel.

At the close of its 20th session in Geneva, the august body appointed a three-member fact-finding team to be dispatched to the Middle East.

But have no fear: the diplomatic trio in question will not be garnering frequent-flyer miles to investigate the Syrian government’s slaughter of its own civilians, nor will it be rushing through airport security to get a first-hand look at the fundamentalist takeover in Egypt.

Instead, despite all the turmoil in the region, the UNHRC is determined to get to the bottom of what it considers to be a far more vexing problem: ongoing Jewish housing construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

That’s right. A Jew enclosing a porch in Ariel, or extending a living room in Hebron, apparently poses a more significant threat to the rights of all humanity than rising Islamic fundamentalist extremism or the crushing of dissent.

The move comes following a UNHRC resolution passed back in March which employed all the classic anti-Israel bias and one-sidedness that has become standard fare in the halls of the UN.

Lest anyone had been toying with the naïve thought that the UNHRC might give Israel a fair hearing, the text of the resolution went out of its way to bash the Jewish state and its policies in the harshest of terms.

In its preamble, the decision affirmed that “Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law and constitute very serious violations of international humanitarian law and of the human rights of the Palestinian people therein.”

It also expressed “grave concern” about “the continuation by Israel, the occupying Power, of settlement building and expansion.”

The UNHRC then defined the mandate of its investigative team, instructing it to explore “the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people.”

What do you think the chances are that Israel will get a fair hearing?

Not surprisingly, Israel was quick to reject the proposed UNHRC mission, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor saying, “The fact-finding mission will find no cooperation in Israel and its members will not be allowed to enter Israel and the territories.”

“Its existence,” he added, “embodies the inherent distortion that typifies the UNHRC treatment of Israel and the hijacking of the important human rights agenda by non-democratic countries.”

And then, to top it all off, came reports in the Israeli press that the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has been supporting and even building illegal structures for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria.

OCHA has ignored repeated Israeli requests to cease such activities, to the point where the government is now said to be considering imposing sanctions on its employees.

This is nothing less than a deliberate snub of Israel and its sovereignty and violates all norms of diplomatic decency.

Clearly, as the above examples illustrate, the UN remains as antagonistic as ever toward the Jewish state, treating it in ways it would not dare to treat any other country.

Let’s Connect…Diversely

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Living in 2012 means being ‘connected.’ We are ‘connected’ to our cell-phones, our emails, our Facebook ‘Friends’ , and various email lists of interest.

In a world of so many ‘connections’, it’s hard to believe that connecting to our own family- our fellow Jews, would be such an elevated challenge. Indeed, on one such email list, the following story was posted on a few days ago:

” ….my grandchildren, who look quite obviously Haredi, came to visit me in my town, which is overwhelmingly of a National Religious character. My 13 year-old son took them to the park and immediately, the resident children at play, began to shout epithets at my grandchildren, ‘Stinky dirty Haredim,’ they cried. ‘Go play in your own parks.’…grandchildren who immediately left the park and returned to my home to spend the rest of their visit indoors and safe from the hatred extended toward them during what should have been a pleasant visit to Grandma.”

While kids will be kids (and yes, kids can be cruel even if their parents are far from it), and while the same has happened in (so-called) Haredi communities to those not complying with their local fashion of dress, and while these may just be isolated incidents in a park that usually portrays unity and friendliness, I am still profoundly appalled and disturbed to read of such an event.

“Why bad things happen to good people” is the cardinal question to which even Moshe Rabbeinu didn’t get a clear answer (according to one opinion in Tractate Berachot 7a). Thus, I am not about to say that the above incident is a ‘heavenly sign’ of sorts. However, when bad things occur, all will agree (ibid, 5a) that it’s a good time for a wake-up call – to ask if our actions, deeds, educational system, and general behavior is where is should be.

While I feel remain deeply privileged to be part of such a special community, “perfection” is a word that only exists in the dictionary. As we head deeper into these Three Weeks of mourning, a time still upon us due to the “Sinat Chinam” – senseless hatred – that dominated the eve of the 2nd Temple destruction (Tractate Yoma 9b), allow me to bring up three issues that I humbly believe should be reiterated, and refurbished in our actions, when such an event can transpire during such a sensitive time of the year:

Tolerance to some - Jews have usually been tolerant to groups that stand far from their own vantage point and lifestyle. Thus, I can naturally see the very same kids in the park acting cordially to secular Jews, and even to non-Jews as well. Ironically, the “challenge” of tolerance begins when we meet a group of people who share 85% of our own lifestyle; they daven thrice daily, they keep kosher homes, they devote time to learning Torah, they adhere to a standard of modesty and of course, they are Shomer Shabbat. It’s here that, for some reason, we don’t have the same “tolerance” that we bestow upon those that seem far our own lifestyle! Is it a sense of danger, lack of self-confidence or something else, that naturally allows us to be “tolerant” towards groups far from where we stand, and yet so judgmental and intolerant towards ones that are so similar? If we are to be tolerant, then it should be directed to all sides of the spectrum, especially those that are within the realm of Shemirat Torah Umitzvot. Yes, the 15% of dressing differently, our relationship towards the State of Israel, secular endeavors, joining the army and more, will still be “dividers” between our respective communities, and strong debates will yet go on. But will our level of tolerance towards groups who have passed the 15% mark be extended to those closer to it?  If we believe in Tolerance, it can and should run the entire gamut.

Diversity is not a dirty word - Beyond the need for tolerance towards those closer to us, I believe a deeper challenge lies before our communities, one that is not being spoken about enough in the “heat of the debate” in Israel of late; diversity is not a “b’diavad” - it’s not an Ex Post Facto of “three Jews, five opinions,” or the hardships of our long exile! Rather, it’s my view that, after accepting and fulfilling the “Yoke of Heaven,” - the dictates of Jewish Law -that God never intended for all of us to be the same:

The Dodgers Never Left Brooklyn

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

I’m not talking about Duke Snider, Carl Furillo, Joe Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Junior Gilliam, Don Newcombe, Don Drysdale, Johnny Padres, Sandy Amaros, the young Sandy Koufax, and the rest of the old-time Brookline Dodgers.

(For your information, I remembered all those names without having to look them up on Google. In fact, when the old Dodger ballpark, Ebbets Field, was being torn down to make room for apartment buildings, my Dad snuck us into the stadium, where we dug up some earth from center field, where Duke Snider once roamed – as if it were blessed soil from the Holy Land – and took it home to put in our planter as a lasting memorial. Woe that I don’t remember Mishnayos as well as I remember starting Dodger line-ups!)

No, I’m not talking about those famed Brooklyn Bums, who stuffed their bats and gloves into duffle bags and deserted New York for the even smoggier shores of LA. I am talking about the other dodgers of Brooklyn, all those who still linger in Boro Park and Flatbush and Williamsburg and Crown Heights and Ocean Parkway and don’t come on aliyah.

I’m speaking about the Aliyah Dodgers, the Diaspora Giants, the Ultra-Orthodox Williamsburg White Sox, the Assimilated Cardinals, and the OU Washington Nationals.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook would tell his students: “We don’t pick and chose what mitzvot to do. We don’t say, ‘This mitzvah is easy and pleasing to me, I will do it, but this mitzvah is hard and not so pleasing, so I won’t. We aren’t half-believers like the Spies in the Wilderness, about whom the Torah testifies, ‘In this matter, you didn’t believe in the Lord your God’ (Devarim, 1:32). In the matter of making aliyah to Israel they didn’t believe. In contrast, we find the true approach to Torah of, ‘Everything that the Lord said, we will do and listen’ (Shemot, 24:7). We will do it whether it pleases us or not. We believe in all of the Torah with complete emunah” (See, Torat Eretz Yisrael, Ch.1).

Once again, I am not speaking about people who, for whatever valid reason, are unable to come on aliyah. Let’s say, in a rough approximation, that 20% of the Jews in America fall into this category. Whether it’s because they have sick parents to care for, or no way of making a living in Israel, or any other legitimate excuse, let’s agree for the moment that they can’t come – but what about their children? What’s preventing them? Are they any less Jewish than my children? Why should my children have to serve in the Israeli Army (which is a great mitzvah that we are happy to do) and fight to defend the Jewish Homeland, while the Diaspora Dodgers go to ball games and spend the same three years getting stoned in college? And what about the 80% who could come – but don’t?

Let’s remember that the root cause of the destruction that befell our Nation on Tisha B’Av was the unwilling of the Spies in the Wilderness to journey on to the Land of Israel, which occurred on the very same date (Megilla 29A. See The Book of our Heritage, Ch.16, on the month of Av).

My beloved brothers and sisters in the Diaspora- when you are in shul this coming Shabbos, during the Torah reading of Matot, before the typical lavish Diaspora Kiddush and free open bar (which could make even the most ardent Zionist forget about Jerusalem with its line-up of Chivas Regals, Jack Daniels, and Johnny Walker Blacks), try to concentrate on the message of the parsha:

“Now a very great multitude of cattle had the children of Brooklyn, and the children of the Five Towns and Boca, a very great multitude… and they said to Moshe, ‘If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession – bring us not over the Jordan.’ And Moshe said, ‘Shall your brethren go to war, and shall you sit here? And wherefore will you turn away the heart of the Children of Israel from going over into the Land which the Lord has given them? Thus did your fathers when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to see the Land. For when they went up unto the valley of Eshkol and saw the Land, they turned away the heart of the Children of Israel, that they should not go into the Land which the Lord had given them. And the anger of the Lord kindled on that day (Tisha B’Av), and He swore saying, ‘Surely none of these men that came up out of the land of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the Land I swore unto Avraham, unto Yitzhak, and unto Yaacov, because they have not wholly followed Me, save Calev ben Yefuneh and Yehoshua ben Nun, because they have wholly followed the Lord’” (Bamidbar, 32:1-12).

Mordechai Kedar: Tribal Democracy

Friday, July 13th, 2012

At the end of last week, for the first time in its history, free democratic elections were held in Libya for the 200 members of the Transitional Legislative Council; 120 “independent” members, meaning representatives of tribes and cities, and 80 representatives from nationwide political parties. As of this writing, the official results have still not been publicized, but according to the assessment of observers, Islamic forces have won a minority of seats in parliament. It should be mentioned that during the past year a Salafi jihadist stream led by Abd al-Hakim Belhadj appeared in Libya, which was a cause of very great concern to some external observers.

Libya is a desert country, part of the dry, arid Great Sahara Desert. Life in the desert constrains its residents to live within a family framework, the size of which is limited by available sources of livelihood in the desert environment. Near a spring and its vegetation, which provides food and drink for them and their flocks, they would prefer to remain within a larger framework which would enable them to defend the sources of their livelihood. But in this arid environment of scant resources, they practice that which Abraham said to Lot in the Judean Desert “Please part from me” (Genesis 13: 9) and thus they live within smaller frameworks. The smaller the group, the more solidarity, toughness and cruelty is demanded in order to defend itself, its sources of livelihood and the honor of its daughters and wives from outsiders,

In Libya there is another factor which has had the effect of increasing tribal cohesion, and this is the dictatorial control of Qadhaffi. In the context of life under a dictator, in which the tribe also serves as a defense of the individual against the oppression of the regime, the regime must work with the tribe, which defends the individual, in such a way as to arrive at agreements with the tribe and to honor its autonomy, its leaders and its laws and customs. The desert tribe gives its members immunity from the state apparatuses; the situation of the Bedouin in the Negev vis a vis the Israeli government and in Sinai vis a vis the Egyptian government, are a good examples of this.

The conditions of the desert together with the dictatorship of Qadhaffi created a situation where the great majority of the Libyan population was engaged in an ongoing battle against the forces of nature and the cruelty of man. This situation strengthened the tribal frameworks and turned them into fearless and merciless fighting militiamen. The difficulties create toughness, the battle justifies violence and the problems strengthen solidarity. This situation explains why Qadhaffi had to be so cruel in order to impose his rule upon the population, because there must be a match between the level of violence practiced by a society and the violence that a regime must use in order to subdue a society to submit to his authority for an extended period. There are rumors in Libya that the number of kalashnikovs possessed by the populace is twice the number of residents. Even if this rumor is an exaggeration, it is not far from the bitter and violent reality of this state, because people have weapons and will use them whenever a disagreement arises between them, and where a society engages in blood feuds, it is very difficult to put an end to them, and they continue for a long time and cause many casualties.

The Western democratic model is built on a basic rule, which is that everyone – individuals as well as groups – is constrained not to act with violence but to conduct disagreements and conflicts between them in a legitimate way, not by violence. Another rule is the importance of the individual who goes to the poll and votes according to his conscience, not according to the dictates of his family. However the elimination of the tribal framework and its function is an impossible task in the short run, and therefore young democracies must allow traditional, ethnic, tribal, religious and sectarian frameworks to express themselves, within a young democratic system. This forces it to fight for its legitimacy and survival vis a vis long-standing frameworks that are traditional, legitimate, strong, and sometimes violent .

Take Back The Holy Sites

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Displaying their customary respect for Jewish holy sites, Palestinian vandals struck again last month, desecrating an ancient synagogue in Naaran near Jericho.

In addition to damaging priceless relics, the perpetrators spray-painted swastikas, Palestinian flags and political slogans, adding insult to injury in their hate-filled assault.

The defilement of the site was discovered by a group of Israeli worshippers who visit it regularly to maintain a Jewish presence in the area.

The synagogue in question was built more than 1,500 years ago, predating the establishment of Islam and serving as tangible proof that the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel preceded that of our foes.

Indeed, perhaps that is one of the reasons why the Palestinians attacked it. After all, the Naaran synagogue gives the lie to their dubious claim to the land.

Needless to say, this latest outrage received virtually no coverage in the mainstream press. Only a handful of Israeli news outlets bothered to mention it, and the international media showed no interest in sharing the story with their audiences.

Contrast this with the whirlwind of reports last October when an Israeli Arab mosque was desecrated and you begin to get a sense of the hypocrisy at work in the media. Indeed, the incident in Naaran is just the latest in a long line of Palestinian acts of sacrilege that have targeted Jewish religious sites.

Remember Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (Nablus)?

It was nearly twelve years ago, on October 7, 2000, that the IDF withdrew from the site under cover of darkness after a joint assault launched by Palestinian police and terrorists. The Palestinians, of course, agreed to protect the tomb, but that promise quickly went up in smoke. Several hours later the burial ground of the biblical Joseph had been reduced to debris.

Palestinians armed with pick-axes and hammers attacked the tomb, smashing the stone structure and ripping it apart, brick by brick. They burned Jewish prayer books and other religious articles and subsequently began transforming the site into a mosque. It was then and there, at Joseph’s Tomb, just days after the start of the Second Intifada, that the Palestinians learned two very dangerous lessons – lessons that continue to haunt Israel until today.

First, they saw that violence pays. Israel’s retreat from Joseph’s Tomb was the first time Israel had fled under fire, abandoning territory to Palestinian control under threat of the gun.

Second, the Palestinians learned they could deliberately assault Jewish sites of immense historical, religious or emotional significance without fear of retribution from Israel.

The same holds true of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where successive Israeli governments have failed to stand up to wanton Palestinian acts of desecration. And therein lies the “original sin” of various Israeli policymakers, who have consistently capitulated, retreated and withdrawn whenever the Palestinians have trampled on some of our most important national symbols.

Instead of displaying some elementary Jewish pride and confronting the Palestinians to prevent them from assaulting what is holy to us, we prefer to shrug our collective shoulders, look away in shame, and hope for the best.

That may have made sense when the extent of our national power was limited to community councils in the shtetls of Eastern Europe, but surviving in the modern-day Middle East requires an entirely different approach.

For far too long we have inculcated in the Palestinians a sense of impunity when it comes to vandalizing or defiling Jewish holy sites, and it is time for this to change. In light of the Palestinians’ serial abuse of Jewish holy sites, it should be clear to all that they cannot, must not, be entrusted with safeguarding or administering them under any circumstances whatsoever.

The Palestinians have once again failed to demonstrate even the modicum of decency and civility that calls for respecting houses of worship that belong to others.

And so Israel should not hesitate to do what should have been done already: take back Joseph’s Tomb, reassert its sovereignty over the Temple Mount, and eject the PA- controlled Muslim Wakf from the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

These three sites, more than any others, symbolize our ties to this Land, and the abiding faith upon which they are based. It is time for all of them to return to sole Israeli control, along with all Jewish holy sites in Judea and Samaria.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/fundamentally-freund/take-back-the-holy-sites/2012/06/13/

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