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Posts Tagged ‘Zion’

Peter Beinart’s Cocoon

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

In the New York Review of Books, Peter Beinart is upset that the organized American Jewish community doesn’t invite Palestinian Arabs to speak at their events. He believes that American Jews don’t give enough empathy to Palestinian Arabs.

For the most part, Palestinians do not speak in American synagogues or write in the Jewish press. The organization Birthright, which since 1999 has taken almost 350,000 young Diaspora Jews—mostly Americans—to visit Israel, does not venture to Palestinian towns and cities in the West Bank. Of the more than two hundred advertised speakers at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) 2013 Policy Conference, two were Palestinians. By American Jewish standards, that’s high. The American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum earlier this year, which advertised sixty-four speakers, did not include a single Palestinian.

…Guidelines like Hillel’s—which codify the de facto restrictions that exist in many establishment American Jewish groups—make the organized American Jewish community a closed intellectual space, isolated from the experiences and perspectives of roughly half the people under Israeli control. And the result is that American Jewish leaders, even those who harbor no animosity toward Palestinians, know little about the reality of their lives.

Beinart grudgingly admits:

This lack of familiarity with Palestinian life also inclines many in the organized American Jewish world to assume that Palestinian anger toward Israel must be a product solely of Palestinian pathology. Rare is the American Jewish discussion of Israel that does not include some reference to the textbooks and television programs that “teach Palestinians to hate.” These charges have some merit. Palestinian schools and media do traffic in anti-Semitism and promote violence.

But:

Still, what’s often glaringly absent from the American Jewish discussion of Palestinian hatred is any recognition that some of it might stem not from what Palestinians read or hear about the Jewish state, but from the way they interact with it in their daily lives.

Beinart is at least as guilty of willful blindness as the American Jewish establishment he is insulting. His “Open Zion” site all but ignores the Palestinian Arab hate and antisemitism, just as he attempts to minimize it and contextualize it here as a natural result of things Israelis did. He says that most terror attacks are the result of anger at Israeli actions from the first intifada, without mentioning who started the first intifada. No doubt Israel’s initial reaction was more severe than would be acceptable today, but at the time Palestinian Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza would travel freely to pre-1967 Israel and Israelis would visit freely to Arab areas, without fear.

The restrictions that Beinart is so upset about today came because of Palestinian Arab terror, not the other way around.

Moreover, while Beinart talks about checkpoints that exist today, what does he think would happen if a two-state solution that he so passionately supports would occur? They wouldn’t be checkpoints – there would be national borders. Try commuting to another country every day, let alone an enemy country, and see how painless it is.

American Jewish leaders have access to The New York Times, the BBC, the Guardian and, yes, Open Zion. Jewish Americans read Thomas Friedman and Roger Cohen. The idea that they somehow live in a pro-Likud bubble is ridiculous. They know far more about Palestinian Arab claims and grievances than readers of Open Zion know about the day to day incitement against Israel and Jews in Palestinian Arab lives – not just “textbooks and television programs” but virtually every newspaper, every school, every media.

This is the stuff I expose along with MEMRI, Palestinian Media Watch and others.

Beinart would like to pretend that we cherry pick the worst examples. To an extent that is true. That’s how the media works – to show the worst in order to illuminate the facts – something Beinart is doing in this very essay.

However, as someone who reads quite a bit of Arabic media daily, I can assure Beinart and my readers that the hate isn’t an anomaly, while people like Salam Fayyad are the silent majority. No – within the “cocoon” of Palestinian Arab life, there is zero tolerance for any viewpoint that is the least bit conciliatory to real coexistence and peace. The hate is pervasive, not anomalous. Anyone who would speak to an American Jewish organization would, by that very fact, lose all legitimacy from their own people.

New Diaspora Religion: Bagelism

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Last week, the administrator of a popular Facebook group called something like “Kaballah Lite,” asked me not to post blogs on their page that stressed the mitzvah of living in Israel because it made his readers uneasy. First, he wanted to get people involved in “spirituality” and then he’d teach them about Israel, he said.

When I replied that according to the Kaballah everything in Israel is spiritual, the rocks, the trees, the tomato fields, even the secular Jews, and that Eretz Yisrael represents the exalted sefirah of Malchut, without which the spiritual blueprint of the world is shattered and God’s Presence doesn’t appear on Earth, he answered that the uninitiated can’t understand this very basic foundation upon which the Kaballah is based. First, they have to learn about the joy of spiritualism, he said.

That’s a little like baking an apple pie and leaving out the apples. After the pie is finished, you can’t go back and stick in the apples. They haven’t been cooked! So too, you can’t teach Judaism and leave out the Land of Israel, and then stick it in at the end, as if it’s just some added spicing. The apples aren’t something extra – they’re the essence of the pie itself. So too with Judaism – the Jewish life in the Land of Israel isn’t just another ingredient – it’s the filling. It’s the pie itself.

Another Facebook group about being “frum” in New York also kicked me off its list. When I asked why, the administrator said that she was trying to bring unaffiliated Jews closer to the joys of Orthodoxy and my writings about Israel raised uncomfortable “political” issues for liberal New York Jews, and turned them away from pure Judaism. Pure Judaism? Without the Land of Israel?

Sorry, but that isn’t Judaism. It’s a new religion. Maybe, to give her, and others who think like her, the benefit of the doubt, you could call it “Diaspora Judaism.” But it isn’t Torah. Eretz Yisrael isn’t a peripheral matter to Yiddishkeit, or merely a nice place to visit to feel proud to be a Jew. Building the Jewish Nation in Israel is the very goal of the Torah. Over two-thirds of the Mishna concern the commandments that can only be performed in the Land of Israel. “For from Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of God from Yerushalayim.” Not from Brooklyn, Monsey, Beverly Hills, Toronto, or Mexico City.

So along with Reform and Conservative Judaism, which aren’t Judaism at all, we can add Diaspora Judaism. It’s closer to Orthodox Judaism than the others, but huge chucks of the Torah are still missing. Let’s call this new religion of Diaspora Jews, “Bagel Judaism,” or “Bagelism,” because its center, the Land of Israel, is missing.

The countries of the Diasporas may be very enjoyable places, like the taste of a bagel, but something is missing. Diasporas can come in all sorts of flavors, just like plain bagels, and sesame, onion, pumpernickel, and whole wheat bagels, but they are all empty in the middle. The center, the Land of Israel, is missing! Diasporas have synagogues, and Shabbos, glatt kosher restaurants and yeshivas, but the center, the Redemptional focus of the Torah and Prophets, the desire to return to Zion, and the all-important national component of Judaism are missing. Take for example the “Kedusha” we say during our Shachrit prayers on Shabbat: “When will You return to Zion? Speedily, in our days, may You dwell there forever. May You be exalted and sanctified in Jerusalem, Your city throughout all generations and to all eternity.” Zion and Jerusalem -not Brooklyn, Beverly Hills, Boca, Buenos Aries, or Berlin.

Without the Land of Israel and Jerusalem, without a national Jewish calendar, a Jewish army, a Jewish government, without all of the mitzvot that apply n the Land, children who grow up speaking Hebrew, and Jews who marry Jews and not gentiles, the Judaism of the Diaspora is a hollow Judaism. Just like a bagel, the outside ring is tasty, but the center is missing. Like a bagel, the Judaism of the Diaspora is missing its heart. When you relish the bagel and don’t notice the gaping hole in the middle, then something is wrong with your Judaism.

Yasser Arafat, Pallywood Zombie

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Yasser Arafat’s tomb has been opened, samples taken from his body by a Palestinian medical team, and placed in the hands of “forensic experts” from several countries.

Arafat’s porcine widow Suha claims that she found traces of radioactive polonium 232 on clothes that she had kept since his death in 2004, although the hypothesis that he was poisoned by polonium isphysically impossible (see also here).

Even if it wasn’t polonium, many Palestinians are convinced that he was poisoned. Here is an example of their reasoning:

Dr. Bashir Abdullah, a physician on the Palestinian team of investigators, said Tuesday that Arafat’s death “cannot be explained in the framework of disease, and therefore our explanation is that there must have been poisonous material.”

Now that is what I call a scientific diagnosis! I wonder what his ‘investigation’ will reveal? Especially since the samples were taken by Palestinians.

Of course Arafat was in terrible shape at 75, had been badly injured in a plane crash some years before from which he had not fully recovered, and had incompetent doctors (the Dr. Abdullah quoted above is an example). It’s not at all surprising that he died when he did.

Naturally they want to blame Israel. But no one has come up with a good explanation of why Israel, which could have killed Arafat in the years when he was relevant, would wait until he was 75 and ailing to do so. Barry Rubin writes,

…there was a clear Israeli decision not to kill Arafat taken in the 1970s. A much-seen photo of Arafat taken through the scope of an Israeli sniper rifle in southern Lebanon was circulated following Arafat’s 1982 evacuation from Beirut. If Israel had wanted to kill Arafat it had numerous opportunities to do so when it mattered, not at the end of his career when he was largely discredited.

Incidentally, the Israelis-poisoned-him theme has been used repeatedly in the case of others whose death obviously had other causes. The Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini and the publishing mogul Robert Maxwell immediately come to mind. This kind of thing is merely a modern-day version of theProtocols of the Elders of Zion.

Rubin goes on to discuss why this kind of no-evidence libel against Israel spreads so readily:

A fair-minded observer might start thinking: something different is going on here, some hidden agenda or psychological factor that impels Israel and the Jews being put into a special category with negative implications in today’s world. As it once was for so many centuries.

It is business as usual for Arab media to find murderous conspiracies that can be blamed on Jews or Israel. What I find surprising is the degree to which the mainstream Western media take this absolute rubbish seriously.

For example, an AP news article by Karin Laub quotes Suha Arafat, numerous Palestinian officials, doctors, etc. all suggesting that the Original Terrorist was poisoned (there is one short quotation from an Israeli saying that Israel had no reason to kill him at that point). But most importantly, there is no indication that many observers — including some who are not at all friendly to Israel — think that the conspiracy theory is simply insane. The takeaway from this article could be described as “hmm, maybe there’s something to this.”

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour interviewed Suha Arafat and wrote a similar article, also with a one-line denial by an Israeli spokesperson. This article is a bit better than Laub’s, because it presents some of the reasons that the polonium theory is unlikely to be true. But again, the impression it leaves is that the jury is still out on whether Arafat was poisoned (and if he was, no possible suspects beyond Israel are discussed).

Neither Laub nor Amanpour give anything but a passing mention toArafat’s remarkable history of murder and terrorism, although both refer to his Nobel Prize.

A Google News search shows similar ‘reporting’ from numerous sources.

This has all of the signs of a Pallywood production. The independent investigators, working with samples of the terrorist’s flesh provided by Palestinians, will — shockingly — find evidence of poison!

And you can bet that Karin Laub and Christiane Amanpour will be on the scene to speculate about who killed the great leader of the Palestinian people.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

We Are Seeing Moshiach in Action!

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

The Pillar of Cloud, otherwise known as the Clouds of Glory, or Amud HaAnan, protected the Jewish People in the Wilderness, and the “Amud HaAnan” Operation which Tzahal has now undertaken is intended to protect our beleaguered citizens in the south. But it is much more than that.

Rabbi Kook writes:

“When there is a great war in the world, the power of Moshiach awakens. The time of the song bird has come, with the weeding away of tyrants. The evil ones are obliterated from the world, the world becomes more perfected, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our Land.

“And after the war has climaxed, the world is revitalized with a new spirit, and the ‘Footsteps of the Moshiach  are exceedingly revealed. The greater the war’s measure, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the greater the expectation for the ‘Footsteps of the Moshiach’ which the war reveals…

“With great insight, incredible valor, with deep and penetrating logic, with true desire, and with clear understanding, we need to receive the exalted contents of the light of G-d which is revealed in wondrous action in the workings of precisely these wars.”

Rabbi Kook ends his essay by quoting from our morning prayers. Make no mistake. This is what Operation “Amud HaAnan” is really all about:

“The Master of wars, sower of righteousness, Who causes salvation to sprout, the Creator or cures, awesome in praise, the Master of wonders, Who renews His goodness every day the act of Creation, cause a new light to shine upon Zion, and may we all be privileged to see its light” (Orot, 2:1).

Hashem is the Master of wars. And now, as citizens in the south of Israel sit anxiously in their bomb shelters, Hashem is at war. Hashem is weeding out tyrants, the killers of Jewish men, women, and children. Hashem is obliterating evil ones from the world, the murderers from the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. The Moshiach has awakened. He is sitting in the cockpit beside our pilots as they soar over Gaza, cleansing and perfecting the world. While the Israeli Army is fighting, Hashem is sowing righteousness. Hashem is causing salvation to sprout. He is causing a new light to shine upon Zion, and it is our task to open our eyes and see it. No, my friends, this is not a mere war – this is Moshiach in action!

The Mashiach is not only the ideal Jewish king, but a process which evolves over time. The Gemara informs us that, “There are 2000 years of Moshiach  (Sanhedrin 97A).  In Tractate Megilla, we learn that, “War is also the beginning of Redemption” (Megilla 17B). The Rambam tells us that one of Moshiach’s premier tasks is to fight the wars of Hashem (Laws of Kings and Their Wars, 11:4).

Yes, Operation “Amud HaAnan” has come to protect our citizens, to teach Hamas a painful lesson, and to return our power of detriment, but when you watch the footage on TV, know that you are watching the “Footsteps of Moshiach ” You are witnessing the Sanctification of G-d in the world. Let the word go forth, “There is a living G-d in Israel!”

Yes, war is hell. Yes, if war could be abandoned, the world would be a better place. But the Redemption of Am Yisrael also comes through wars. In the roar of our jets streaking over Gaza, Moshiach is on the way! When evil doers are uprooted from the world, the light of Moshiach appears. The greater the magnitude and force of the war, the greater the revelation of Moshiach which follows.

Our hearts and prayers are with the soldiers of Israel. May Hashem grant them and their commanders the holy courage and valor to finish the job and wipe out the evil in our midst, for the betterment of the world. And may we all be privileged to see and enjoy the new light shining on Zion!

 

Gentlemen, To the Land of Israel!

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Rabbi Kook emphasizes that the true t’shuva of the Jewish People is in our return to Eretz Yisrael. Again and again, in his letters and speeches as Israel’s first Chief Rabbi, he urged the Jewish People to return home to Zion. One public proclamation, sent out all over the Diaspora, years before the Holocaust, was entitled, “The Great Call.”

To the Land of Israel, gentlemen, to the Land of Israel! Let us utter this appeal in one voice, in a great and never-ending cry. Come to the Land of Israel, dear brothers, come to the Land of Israel. Save your souls, the soul of your generation, the soul of the entire Nation; save her from desolation and destruction, save her from decay and degradation, save her from defilement and all evil — from all of the suffering and oppression that threatens to come upon her in all the lands of the world without exception or distinction….

Escape with your lives and come to Israel. God’s voice beckons us; His hand is outstretched to us; His spirit within our hearts unites us, encourages us, and obliges us all to cry in a great, powerful and awesome voice: Brothers! Children of Israel, beloved and dear brethren, come to the Land of Israel, do not tarry with arrangements and bureaucratic matters; rescue yourselves, gather, come to the Land of Israel…

From the time we were exiled from our Land, the Torah has accompanied Israel into exile, wandering from Babylon to France, Spain,Germany, Eastern and Central Europe, Poland, Russia, and elsewhere. Now, how happy we would be if we were able to say that the Torah has returned to her first place, to the Land of Israel, together with the People of Israel, who continue to multiply in the Holy Land.

Who is so blind that he does not see the Lord’s hand guiding us in this, and does not feel obligated to work along with God in this endeavor? A Heavenly Voice in the future will cry aloud on top of the mountains and say, ‘Whoever has wrought with God, let him come and receive his reward’ (Vayikra Rabbah, 27:2). Who can exempt himself from doing his part in bringing additional blessing and swifter salvation; from awakening many hearts to return to the Holy Land, to the Lord’s legacy, that they may become a part of it, to settle it with enterprises and buildings, to purchase property, to plant and sow, to do everything necessary for the foundation of life of a stable and organized settlement.

Another public proclamation was addressed to Orthodox communities to urge their aliyah to Israel. In establishing a movement called “The Banner of Jerusalem,” Rabbi Kook called upon all religious Jews to come to Israel to rebuild the Nation’s spiritual life, just as the secular Zionists were rebuilding the physical:

Jews! We call you to the sacred task of building our Jewish nation in our Holy Land, in Eretz Yisrael. Come to us, rally together under the “Banner of Jerusalem” which we now raise aloft before the whole Jewish religious public.

We all know the banner of Zion which unites a certain portion of our brethren on the basis of our Jewish secular interests in the Land of Israel. But there are many who have not joined the ranks of those who bear the Zionist flag, and a great many who feel it impossible to do so. We simply record the plain fact that this is so, without questioning its veracity.

Yet it cannot be that the largest, most natural, and earnest portion of Jewry, the majority of the Jewish religious public, should remain indifferent to the wonderful events of the present, and not lend a hand in the holy task of building our Nation on our sacred soil because of so-called objections….

Jews, all the loyal believers in the Jewish faith, there can be no doubt that the Divine power is now manifesting itself amongst us in the great world events of our time. We are certainly called to return to our ancient home in the Land of Israel, there to renew our ancient holy life….

We religious Jews must all profoundly know and believe that the Divine hand is now leading us openly to our highest, ideal destiny. We must make known to the whole world, the true meaning of the present wondrous happenings, whose purpose is so clearly the hastening of our Redemption and salvation, from which will also spring forth the Redemption and salvation of all mankind.

With the flaming, illuminating, Divine faith, with all the luster of our holy Torah, with the vitality of all of the most refined and devout Jews, we shall carry our flag, the ‘Banner of Jerusalem’ by which alone the banner of Zion will also be properly hoisted. For the value of Jewish secular power will be revealed to the world only in the light of our holy Jewish spiritual power, emphasized by the uplifted voices of the whole religious Jewish world community, who set out with holy enthusiasm to the task of our national construction, of our return to the Land of Israel, by the grace of the Divine and illuminating light, ‘O House of Jacob, come, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.’

Focus on Israeli humanitarianism: Eye from Zion

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Eye from Zion, established in 2007 by Israeli businessman Nati Marcus, is a humanitarian organization dedicated to giving the gift of sight to poor people in developing countries.

Israeli volunteers travel anywhere they are needed to treat patients, sending experienced ophthalmologists, advanced equipment, and operating room nurses to cities in Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Myanmar and dozens of other countries around the world.

Eye from Zion doctors also instruct the local health professionals in developing countries they visit in modern medical techniques – while also donating medicine and equipment – enabling the local medical teams to eventually function independently.

Nati Marcus explained to me, via email, his motivation for starting Eye from Zion:

Each person to whom we restore sight, especially the children, is a world unto itself.

Along with my usual work, we built an organisation that has restored the sight of thousands of blind people across the globe by performing eye operations by instructing medical groups in developing countries. I succeeded.

I am a businessman, but four years ago I decided to something more serious with my life that could change the life of people across the world.

Video about Eye From Zion’s work:

Hagiang, Vietnam

Ethiopia

Careroon

Monks in Myanmar after surgery

Girl in Myanmar after surgery

Eye from Zion founder Nati Marcus

Visit CifWatch.com.

Zionism, Neologism and Nationalism

Friday, August 31st, 2012

There has never been agreement about Zionism. Not only is the idea of Jewish nationalism controversial, the very word “Zionism” arouses unique passions, as a recent controversy highlights. It was recently reported that the Jewish Federation of North America had dropped the word “Zionism” from a planning document. In a vehement denial, the Federation clarified that this was not so: It was merely a single individual on a subcommittee who proposed dropping the phrase “Zionist enterprise.” The proposal, the Federation emphasized, went nowhere.

So, the word Zionism, uniquely among terms related to nationalist movements, arouses attacks and defenses. But is “Zionism” even a useful or relevant term in the 21st century? And what does the answer to this question say about the state of the Jews and the Jewish state?

The term Zionism was invented in 1890 by Nathan Birnbaum in his periodical Selbstemanzipation! (Self-Emancipation!) to describe a national-political movement for the restoration of Jews to “Zion.” The term was popularized by Theodor Herzl, then used to characterize movements ranging from cultural to labor-oriented, from religious to secular.

The plasticity of the term is not just a modern phenomenon. The term “Zion” appears in the Bible over 100 times. It referred originally to the Jebusite fortress in Jerusalem conquered by David, then to a hill in Jerusalem. Most commonly, it was a synonym for the land as a whole, especially in exilic times. Israel and Judah were the names of the biblical-era kingdoms of the north and south, respectively, one destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.E. and the other by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E. But, unsurprisingly, the exilic authors—like Birnbaum and his successors—found “Zion” a more encompassing term to describe the national movement, since it blends the religious, territorial, and national dimensions of the aspiration to restore Jewish sovereignty.

Zionism was among the last European-based nationalist movements. It had odd features, including the fact that it was based initially only in a diaspora. Even stranger was its success: A Jewish national home was created. The name “Zion” was rejected, and the state was named Israel; but the term for the national movement, Zionism, has remained. Thus the neologism invented to describe a national movement was retained after the nation-state was successfully created under a different name. The term Zionism is now an anachronism, only slightly less so than “self-emancipation.” But what could possibly take its place?

Most national movements do not have associated neologisms. There is no specific term for Brazilian nationalism, at least one known in the broader world. The Breton nationalist movement—Emsav—and Kemalism, the “six-arrowed” national ideology of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey—are equally unknown outside their countries’ borders. But Zionism is known globally, and reviled globally.

Since the beginning, Zionism’s enemies have made a uniquely concerted effort to wrest control of the term from its proponents, to besmirch the brand. The infamous 1975 United Nations General Assembly resolution declaring that “Zionism is racism” was the culmination of over two decades of patient Soviet propaganda, eagerly consumed and amplified by the Muslim, Arab, and non-aligned worlds. Since then, Zionism has become the paradigm of “extreme nationalism,” imperialism, and “settler-colonialism” in the eyes of intellectuals and activists alike. The term “Zionist entity” so favored by Palestinian and Arab spokesman is an explicit statement that the idea and reality of a Jewish state are illegitimate. To defend Zionism is, in some circles, to defend an almost mythically evil concept.

Attacks on Zionism are thus clarifying. Enemies of “Zionism,” as a term and a concept, attack not just the actual state of Israel but the aspirational aspect of Jewish nationalism and Jewish sovereignty. That is, it attacks the very idea of a Jewish state as illegitimate, not simply the manner in which the state conducts itself. If such attacks were founded in uniform opposition to all nationalism, they would at least have some consistency and intellectual foundation—but, of course, they are not.

It should be said simply that attacks directed solely at Zionism and not at any other national movement are anti-Semitism. When Jewish—not Breton or Turkish, Irish or Iraqi—nationalism is deemed illegitimate and the actual state of Israel condemned to extinction in the name of “historical justice” or some other Orwellian euphemism, this is an especially pure example of anti-Semitism. So, too, is the relegation of Jews to a permanent diaspora and, thus, perpetual minority status. Whether or not such condemnations come from Jews is irrelevant. Jews need not live in Israel or even support Israel, but to deny the idea of a Jewish state is to deny Jews their past and future.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/zionism-neologism-and-nationalism/2012/08/31/

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