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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Zion’

Ulpana Hill Residents Apprehensive But Hopeful As Deadline Approaches

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

BEIT EL, ISRAEL – “Gush Katif number two.” “Another Amona.” “It will topple the government, split the nation, and drive an irrevocable wedge between the people and the leadership.”

These and more have been used to describe the very real crisis now unfolding in Israel, particularly in the pro-Land of Israel camp: The inexorable march toward Iyar 9 (May 1), the date by which the government promised the Supreme Court it would destroy five apartment buildings in the Ulpana Hill neighborhood of Beit El.

This is not just your everyday outpost or caravan site. Thirty families, with over 70 children, live there, in beautiful three-and-four story stone structures, just a 25-minute drive north of Jerusalem. Givat HaUlpenah was initiated and funded by the government of Israel under then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak, which also gave the future residents $20,000 grants to live there. Now, these same buildings – with six families in each – face imminent destruction, courtesy of the same government of Israel, and the residents have been offered nowhere to move.

Some 500 people, most of whom were members of the ruling Likud Party, visited the neighborhood on Sunday. Knesset members, residents and others gathered together to either pledge or demand support in the ongoing struggle to save Givat HaUlpenah. Among them was resident Didi Dickstein, chairman of the official Neighborhood Committee and a student at Ariel University. But he actually has an even more interesting – and tragic – entry on his life resume: His parents and one of his nine siblings were brutally murdered by Arab terrorists one Friday afternoon ten years ago as they were on their way to spend Shabbos in the Kiryat Arba area.

“I don’t usually like to tell this story,” Dickstein told The Jewish Press. “In fact, no one at Ariel University knows it. Not only that, but I and my brothers were all granted an exemption from serving in the army, yet we didn’t take it; we have all served or are serving in the IDF.”

But this case is an exception, Dickstein feels: “This is precisely the type of issue that our parents raised us on, and taught us to believe in and work for: Great faith and love of the Land of Israel. [They had moved to the southern Samaria town of Psagot only several months before they were murdered.] They believed in this greatly. My wife and I, personally, are merely renting the apartment that is currently under threat; we can just pick up and leave. But what’s going on now is not just our personal problem; it’s a national struggle.”

Looking at the dry facts of the case might cause one to marvel at the great faith in and love for the state of Israel Dickstein expresses. In brief, the land on which Givat HaUlpena lies was purchased from an Arab over 12 years ago, and construction on the neighborhood received government funding and was completed relatively quickly.

Abruptly, however, something changed: A man with the same name as the seller – they are cousins – claimed he was the actual owner and that his cousin had taken the money fraudulently. His proof? A piece of paper signed by a Palestinian Authority official to that effect.

The powers that be did not wait for a resolution to the “case of the clashing cousins” in a regular District Court, where monetary claims are supposed to be adjudicated. Instead, left-wing elements brought the case to the Supreme Court. When the point was raised that the ownership had not yet been determined, and that one of the cousins was apparently lying, one of the judges – Uzi Fogelman – said, “What, we should wait five years for a decision?”

And so, based on such considerations, together with a government commitment to “empty” the land based on the cousin’s claim and left-wing pressure, the nation’s highest court issued the ruling: “The buildings must be destroyed by May 1.”

As these words are being written on Monday, Prime Minister Netanyahu is convening his top ministers in an attempt to find a solution. He has no more desire than anyone else to see a situation in which soldiers or police have to fight hundreds of citizens, as happened in Amona six years ago, to pave the way for men, women and children to be forcibly removed from their homes – and then to have their homes bulldozed, with cameras from around the world recording all for posterity.

As of now, however, the homes are still set to be razed – but the faith of Didi Dickstein and his neighbors is strong.

“The truth is,” he said, “on a personal level, we have a clear feeling that we are being treated as fourth-class citizens, or lower, denied fair legal proceedings, and that our country is actually against us…. But on a national-historical level, we have no doubts that we are on the right track. This week we will celebrate Israel Independence Day, and we will joyfully sing one of my father’s favorite songs, Kol Tzofayich‘Your watchmen sound their voices…seeing God return to Zion.’ He even named three of his children after this verse: Tzofiyah, Renana, and our nine-year-old brother who was murdered, Shuva-el.”

Zion Oil & Gas to Sponsor This Year’s CUFI Summit

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Zion Oil & Gas announced Wednesday  that it will sponsor both the “Night to Honor Israel” banquet and the “Ambassadors” reception at the 7th Annual Washington-Israel Summit of Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

In a press release, John Brown, Zion Oil and Gas’s Founder and Chairman John Brown said “Zion is proud to be a part of the CUFI Washington-Israel Summit and to support CUFI’s educational and public policy work in support of Israel.”

The company, a Delaware corporation, conducts onshore explorations over 218,000 acres for oil and gas between Haifa and Tel Aviv.

CUFI is a powerful American association of pro-Israel churches and Christian religious organizations with a sizable membership and strong youth movement.

The Summit will take place in Washington, D.C. during July 16-18, 2012 with Pastor John Hagee (CUFI Founder and National Chairman), Michael Oren (Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S.) and Richard Rinberg (Zion’s Chief Executive Officer) scheduled to speak.

Egyptian Grand Mufti in Jerusalem

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, a top Egyptian Islamic cleric, came to Jerusalem to show support for Palestinian claims to eastern Jerusalem on Wednesday, breaking a long-standing taboo imposed by Muslim clerics, professional and private organizations against visiting Israel.

Gomaa, who prayed in the Al-Aqsa mosque situated on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, wrote on his Twitter account that he made the trip to show solidarity with the Palestinians, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Despite a 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt under Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Gamael Abdel Nasser, Egypt and Israel share cold relations.  In September, a mob of several thousand rioters threatened to lynch the diplomatic corps at the Israeli embassy in Cairo, leading to the evacuation of the majority of workers and staff.

The Muslim Brotherhood condemned the visit on Thursday, with Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozian saying “Muslim clerics have taken a position that there is no visiting Jerusalem under continued Israeli occupation.  He violated this opinion of the majority of clerics.  Why, I don’t know.”  Abdel-Akher Hamad, the leader of the fundamentalist Al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya associated Gomaa with the ousted regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and said Gomaa would not enjoy his position for much longer.

Though Gomaa’s position on Israel is unclear, a 2007 report in the Egyptian daily al-Ahram newspaper stated that he considered the famous Jewish blood libel, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to be a forgery, and took a publisher who falsely put his name on an introduction to its Arabic translation to court.

Gomaa was appointed by Mubarak in 2003 to serve as Egypt’s top religious law authority.

Since the expulsion of Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood influence has increased throughout the country, and with it, a decline in sentiment toward Israel.

Jihad in France Just Beginning

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

The Congress of the French branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (UOIF) will take place in the city of Le Bourget, near Paris, from April 6-9. Over 100,000 participants are expected. Six anti-Semitic Islamic preachers who were invited to speak were denied entry into France. Other anti-Semitic Islamic preachers will speak anyway; they are French, they cannot be expelled. They will not be condemned. The French government knows that if it condemned them, it might be confronted by riots in many suburbs. Every year, openly anti-Semitic books are on sale at the Congress of the UOIF, among them the fabricated Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This year will be no different. Several radical Islamist organizations openly advocate — without interference — jihad on French territory. One of them, Forsane Alizza (Pride Riders), was banned by the French government at the end of February: it had started to form a brigade of fighters on French soil. Although officially the organization has disappeared, its members are still active. Eighteen of them were arrested on March 30; they will probably soon be released.

Also, as it is now widely known, on March 19, a man entered a Jewish school, Ozar Hatora, in Toulouse, France, where he killed a rabbi, his two children, and then an eight years old little girl by shooting her three times in the head after dragging her by the hair to place her in front of the camera he was carrying. These were the worst anti-Semitic acts committed on French soil since the three-week kidnapping, torture and murder of Ilan Halimi in February 2006.

After the murders in Toulouse, like commentators and so many other people, the police initially followed the trail of the “extreme right”. A mobilization across the country was to be expected. The mobilization started quickly.

It was soon revealed that the killer who had just shot four Jews was the same man who had murdered three French soldiers, including two Muslims, the week before. All the commentators ferociously incriminated the ‘far right’. Anti-racist associations issued statements denouncing “fascist barbarity raising its ugly head again.”

It then emerged that the man was a French Muslim who had traveled to the mountains of Afghanistan in to train for jihad, Islamic holy war. The police found him, and shot him to death after a rough gunfight.

The mobilization ceased as rapidly as it had begun. Commentators no longer spoke of anti-Semitism. Anti-racist associations became silent. All attention focused on the killer, Mohamed Merah. He was presented as a “nice young man” by his neighbors, then as a “petty criminal” who inexplicably drifted, and finally as a “lone wolf” without any significant connection to terrorist organizations.

It was gradually revealed that his older brother, Abdelkader, now in prison, had links with Islamists in Belgium and the United Kingdom, and organized networks helping young French Muslims join jihadi organizations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

It appeared that the killer, Mohamed Merah had been imprisoned in Afghanistan for planting bombs in Kandahar, and had been placed on the list of dangerous people to be monitored closely by the security services of the United States.

It also appeared that he was under suspicion by the French Department of the Interior, a circumstance that did not prevent him from obtaining an impressive arsenal, and killing several times without arousing immediate suspicions.

More information will emerge. The French mainstream media will reveal it, with obvious reluctance. Every time journalists speak or write about the case, they constantly point out that Mohamed Merah is “not really a Muslim,” and that no one should forget that Islam is a “religion of peace.”

Anti-racist associations have broken their silence and called for vigilance against “racism” in general, and against the risk of “divisions.”

Nicolas Sarkozy has promised sanctions against French youths who go train in jihadi camps and those who visit websites praising jihad. Consequently, Sarkozy was immediately described by almost all other political leaders as a dangerous man.

The worst anti-Semitic crime committed on French soil for decades is no longer described as an anti-Semitic crime by anyone, except Jews, and even Jews choose their words carefully. Now the Jewish school that was attacked as well as other Jewish schools in France are receiving threatening emails, according to Agence France-Presse, Jewish cemeteries are being vandalized in Paris and Nice, and graffiti praising Merah has been appearing over the walls of homes. The assassin justified his act by invoking the “suffering of Gaza’s children,” a suffering described by a growing number of journalists as a “mitigating circumstance.” When Richard Prasquier, president of CRIF (Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France) wanted to say during a newscast that media should cease showing distorted images inciting hatred of Israel, the anchor immediately stopped him, saying, “this is a moment of meditation, not controversy.”

The Lack Of Vision From Zion

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Nothing is new. The recent murder of the Jews in France should surprise no one. It exposes a dismal reality that is taking shape in Europe and throughout the world.

The murderous anti-Semitism that culminated in the Holocaust of European Jewry retreated with the establishment of the State of Israel and bottomed out after Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War. “For the first time, I dared walk outside with a Jewish star around my neck,” related a Chicago Jew at the time.

“This nation that I have created for Me will tell my praises,” says Isaiah in Prophets. The entire world anticipates this Jewish message. When the Jews conquer their land and hold it dear, they testify to God’s presence in the world. As Rashi explains, God created the Land of Israel, He took it from those who were living there, and gave it to His children. It was specifically when we took the Sinai, Judea, Samaria, the Golan and above all – Jerusalem – by storm, despite the Arab refugees, that anti-Semitism practically disappeared.

The world waited for the Jewish nation to imbue the Holy Land with sanctity. It expected holiness and a universal message to emanate from Jerusalem. In the words of British intellectuals, describing their disappointment with Israel, to those of Sapir College Professor Ze’ev Tzahor, “We dreamt of a place in which the new Book of Books would be written as the preface to the redemption of the world. You are, after all, a treasured and unique nation. The world had expectations, and look what you have done.”

The British intellectuals were not concerned with how we got here, but rather with what we will be doing in the future. In their eyes our right to this land is not a function of the past, but rather of the future. It is destiny that makes energies flow and vitalizes existence. When destiny is erased, existence loses its legitimacy and falters.

The Bible-based cultured nations have great expectations from the People of the Book. They want to see a new, inspiring vision emanating from Zion. When this vision is sparkling on the horizon, it inspires and pulls the upper tiers of Western culture to stand by our side. But when no vision emanates from Zion, the basest dregs of the West connect to the wild beasts of the desert.Anti-Semitism is the result of our denial of our destiny in the Land of Israel.

MK Jacob Katz (Ketzale) to French Jews After Murders: Come Home

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Following the murder of Jews in Toulouse, France, Chairman of the National Union MK  Yaakov Katz (Ketzale) expressed his condolences to the families of the dead and called on all French Jews to “immigrate to Israel and strengthen the nation the dwells in Zion.”

“We live in the epoch of the ingathering of the exiles,” MK Katz said. “Here in the land of Israel, the nation of Israel is recovering its national health, and here all its strengths are finding their expression as befits a nation returning to its promised land.”

He added: “We do not put our trust in Sarkozy and Obama, or any other world leader – since 2000 years of exile have proved to us that they are useless as our protectors, and would only bring on our destruction and.”

The MK, a wounded veteran of the Yom Kippur War and founder, 24 years ago, of the Arutz 7 pirate radio station on the high seas, urged French Jews and their leaders to do everything in their power to return to Israel.

“Diaspora Jews have no future,” he reiterated. “The future of Judaism is in the land of Israel. Here the Jewish people are establishing their kingdom heroically, as an example for the world.”

Education The Only Antidote To Israel’s Racial Tensions

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Over the past several weeks, protests have spread throughout Israel calling for a response to racism targeting the country’s Ethiopian community. Sparked by a Channel 2 story on discrimination in Kiryat Malachi, citizens have taken to the streets to show their outrage at the status quo. Though the despicable slurs and actions that triggered these protests are blatant examples of these grievances, they conceal a deeper issue.

Beyond more overt examples, Ethiopian Israelis frequently have a harder time finding a job. They are perceived as a poor, underprivileged community and face the stigma of lacking the capability to contribute equally, even if this myth is belied by reality.

Perhaps even more difficult is the challenge of looking for housing. Homeowners are less likely to rent or sell to Ethiopians, whether as a result of exaggerated stereotypes or outright racism. While some of this is blatant bigotry, the rest is symptomatic of a deeper and far more widespread prejudice – indirect or concealed racism.

This sentiment is dramatized even in circles that would never admit to harboring prejudice. Well-intentioned statements about constructive activity, such as “I volunteer with Ethiopians” or “I donate to Ethiopians,” cast them on the other side of an imaginary but very real fence.

The primary vehicle to overcoming these obstacles is exposing reality through education, gaining knowledge of the range of personal stories.

The lack of education becomes abundantly clear when we consider the breadth of the average Israeli’s knowledge of the Ethiopian Aliyah consists of an ability to name Operations Moses and Solomon and to recite the lyrics to “Hayareach Mashgiach Me’al“, set to music by Shlomo Gronich. At best, this speaks of a widespread ignorance of the Ethiopian communal experience, and at worst to an active attempt to sideline a narrative that is deemed less important.

How many of us know that more than 4,000 Ethiopian Jews lost their lives on the way to Israel? How many know that nearly every family lost at least one loved one? How many know it was not only the Mossad that worked to save the Ethiopian Jews, but an enormous amount of activism from local members of the Ethiopian Jewish community as well?

Emphasizing these truths is critical to developing a true sense of equality, where the imposed image of the Ethiopian charity case is banished for good.

An even stronger tool than speaking of the wider community, however, is exposing Israeli society to the personal accounts of these same Ethiopian immigrants. Each Ethiopian family has its own story of aliyah, uplifting and inspiring for its own reasons. But hearing these stories and gaining entrance to them is something that takes initiative from the public – to ask, to take interest and to invite speakers to schools and communities.

At the same time, it asks the Ethiopian community to share it experiences, which often are buried deep inside. Yet it is precisely this process of mutual effort that offers the potential to reach the equally powerful goal of mutual respect.

One coordinated effort that strives to create tolerance on the basis of these stories is Project Abrah, which sheds light on the stories of Prisoners of Zion – individuals jailed in Ethiopia or neighboring countries as a result of their Zionist activity. As opposed to similar activists coming from Eastern Europe, these individuals, so influential in the modern Zionist project, have been largely unheralded for their actions.

In Project Abrah, both Israeli Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian youth work together to make films on the little known stories of these remarkable individuals. The films emphasize the struggles, sacrifices and ultimate successes of the Ethiopian aliyah, and those people who were instrumental in its achievements.

For Israeli Ethiopians, it is a way to promote intergenerational dialogue, and to utilize the heroic actions of their own community as a foundation for developing communal pride.

For non-Ethiopians, it is a means to understand the community, break down walls and shatter stigmas.  By listening to the stories of others, they begin to internalize the legacy of this community. This, in turn, impacts their interaction with the wider Ethiopian population, changing a relationship based on distance and preconceptions to one of mutual respect and admiration.

As participant Ettie Shimshilashvili from Beersheba said: “I was amazed to find out that people who I see on the bus, around the neighborhood, buying produce at the local market, and parents of my schoolmates are heroes who are responsible for bringing their fellow Ethiopian Jews to Israel. The project made me feel more comfortable speaking with my Ethiopian schoolmates and helped me understand our community better.”

Education – with emphasis on programs that involve personal stories – is the key to bridging cultural gaps in Israeli society. In this way, someone who began as an “other” becomes “another” – a fellow member of a wonderfully diverse community.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/education-the-only-antidote-to-israels-racial-tensions/2012/02/15/

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