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HOME IS WHERE THE HEARTLAND IS By Jonina Pritzker

There is a famous story in Jewish tradition about two women who are fighting over a baby, each claiming that the baby belongs to her. They appear before King Solomon, whose wisdom was legendary, to have the king decide between them as to which woman was the real mother. King Solomon’s solution was to cut the baby in half, awarding half the child to each woman. At that point, the true mother stepped forward, heartbroken at the thought of taking a knife to the child, and begged the king not to harm her son. By this act, King Solomon recognized that this was the real mother, and he entrusted the infant back to his mother’s loving care.

This story comes to mind as I watch with outrage the current deliberations over the Land of Israel, as strong voices urge Israel to relinquish land that has borne the name and history of the Jewish people for four millennia

Perennial adversaries of the Jewish people, and even traditional allies, have all aligned themselves with the chopping block, ready to slice up the Jewish homeland. Every excuse is given; every threat of dire circumstances, that will be the result if Israel does not agree to cut out its own heart, is articulated.

All the while, self-professed “friends” of the Jewish people have the indecency to say that this is “for Israel’s own good.”

Hearing besieged Israelis and beleaguered Jews around the world being forced under this attack to defend the importance and centrality of different pieces of the Land of Israel is much like watching a person trying to explain why both his legs and his heart are indispensible.

Pieces of the Jewish homeland have become the fodder for international debate, the heart and limbs callously severed and bandied about by those who clearly do not understand the significance that Yehuda V’Shomron, Judea and Samaria, have for the Jewish people, the significance that the Jewish soul – which we call Jerusalem – has for the Jewish people. The deepest roots a Jew can have are found in these places.

There has been a continuous Jewish presence in the Land of Israel from ancient times until today, and this Jewish presence began in Judea and Samaria; this is the birthplace of the Jewish nation.

In the days of the Patriarchs, we read of our Biblical families in Shechem which is in Samaria. “Abram passed into the land as far as the site of Shechem, until the Plain of Moreh…G-d appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.’ ”(Genesis 12:6-7).

In the third generation, the Patriarch Jacob purchases land in Shechem, at the site where his son Joseph would ultimately be buried. “Jacob arrived…at the city of Shechem…He bought the parcel of land…for one hundred kesitahs.” (Genesis 33:18-19).

During the time of Joshua, the nation of Israel gathered at Shechem to renew their covenant with G-d. “Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem…Joshua made a covenant with the people that day…in Shechem.” (Joshua 24:1-25).

Shechem was the place where King Solomon’s son Rechoboam chose to be enthroned. ”Rechoboam went to Shechem, for all of Israel had come to Shechem to make him king (I Kings 12:1). With the subsequent division of the kingdom, Jeroboam established Shechem as his capital in the northern kingdom. “Jeroboam built (up) Shechem in the Mountain of Ephraim and dwelled in it…” (I Kings 12:25).

The roots of the Jewish people are found throughout Judea and Samaria, each city and holy site reflecting the history of the people of Israel in the land of Israel.

The Matriarch Rachel was buried in Bethlehem, a city in Judea. “Thus Rachel died and was buried on the road to Ephrat, which is Bethlehem. Jacob set up a monument over her grave; it is the monument of Rachel’s grave until this day.” (Genesis 35:19-20).

Centuries later, Boaz would meet Ruth in Bethlehem; she would later give birth to the line of the Davidic monarchy. King David was their great grandson. G-d instructed the prophet Samuel, “Fill your horn with oil and go forth – I shall send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have seen a king for Myself among his sons.”(I Samuel 16:1).

Jews have prayed in Bethlehem at the holy site of Kever Rachel, Rachel’s Tomb, through the centuries. Rachel is seen as a source of comfort and solace; shedding tears on behalf of her children: ”Rachel weeps for her children; she refuses to be consoled…”(Jeremiah 31:14).

In 1830 the Turks issued a royal decree recognizing Jewish rights at this Jewish holy site. The governor of Damascus instructed the Mufti of Jerusalem that “the tomb of esteemed Rachel…they (the Jews) are accustomed to visit it from ancient days; and no one is permitted to prevent them or oppose them (from doing) this.”

This decree was a necessary response to the harassment that Jews had endured in trying to visit Rachel’s Tomb. At times, they were physically attacked; they often had to pay extortion money to the local Arabs to ensure free passage and to protect the holy site from vandalism.

In 1841, Sir Moses Montefiore was granted permission to build a room onto Rachel’s Tomb; this was to protect both the grave and those visiting it.

Bethel, another city within these regions of Judea and Samaria, was called by the Patriarch Jacob “the gate of heaven.” It was here that Jacob dreamt of a ladder reaching to heaven. It was in Bethel that G-d gave Jacob a second name and made to Jacob the covenantal promise of the land of Israel and the people of Israel. “Then G-d said to him, ‘Your name shall not always be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name…a nation…shall descend from you, and kings shall issue from your lions. The land that I gave to Abraham and to Isaac, I will give to you; and to your offspring after you, I will give the land.’” (Genesis 35:10-12).

During the time of the Judges, Deborah would sit pronouncing judgments near Bethel on Mount Ephraim.

After the Israelites re-entered the Land of Israel under the leadership of Joshua, they lived according to tribe. If anyone has ever ridden on a bus in Tel Aviv, the Dan bus line is a reminder that the tribe of Dan was situated in the area of modern-day Tel Aviv, along the coast of the Mediterranean.

The tribes of Israel lived throughout the land of Israel, and they lived on both sides of the Jordan River. On the eastern bank of the Jordan River lived the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasheh.

All of the tribes of Israel would gather in Shiloh located in Samaria. Shiloh was the city of Priests where the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was kept before it was brought to Jerusalem. Shiloh was the spiritual center of Israel for centuries. “The entire assembly of the Children of Israel gathered at Shiloh and erected the Tent of Meeting there…”(Joshua 18:1).

It was in Shiloh that Hannah prayed for a son and was answered, later giving birth to the prophet Samuel.

 

And then there is Hebron in Judea. It would be difficult to find another place with more Jewish history than that which we find in the city of Hebron. Hebron was the very first place acquired by the first Jew, the Patriarch Abraham. He purchased Ma’arat HaMachpela, the cave of Machpela, in order to bury his wife Sarah. “And Abraham weighed out to Ephron…400 silver shekels…And afterwards Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah facing Mamre, which is in Hebron…” (Genesis 23:16-19).

The Cave of Machpelah in Hebron is the burial place for all of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs except for Rachel.

Hebron was the first capital of the kingdom of David, where David ruled for seven and a half years before then establishing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Hebron was an important city for King Hezekiah, when the Assyrians were the world’s aggressors. Hebron was also a critical military area, both at the time of the Maccabees, and during the time of Bar Kochba.

 

David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of the modern State of Israel said, “Three cities hold a great and unique place in the ancient history of our people: Shechem, Hebron, and Jerusalem…Hebron is worthy to be Jerusalem’s sister.”

In a complete affront to its millennia-long roots in Hebron, the Jewish community of Hebron was forcibly removed from there, after the massacre of 1929 and the subsequent Arab riots. In August of 1929, the Jews of Hebron, men, women, and children, were brutally massacred. The slaughter was bloody and frenzied; parents were murdered in front of their children; neither the old nor the young were spared. The Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini had been inciting the Arabs, using the pretext that Muslim holy places were under attack. Then, employing another tactic that was used then as it is today, he challenged the Jewish connection to the Kotel, the Western Wall that sits adjacent to the holy Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.

Despite the fact that The Supreme Muslim Council itself issued a guide to the Temple Mount in 1925 which clearly states, “Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute,” there has been an ongoing attempt to obscure and deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. We are still seeing this ploy today, as those who want to destroy all evidence of Israel’s connection to the land bulldoze the archaeological remains of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, this most sacred Jewish site.  These uprooted and destroyed pieces of history are regularly discarded into the valley next to the sacred Temple Mount, from which dedicated groups and individuals work to salvage these desecrated remains.

What was the British response to the horrific massacre of 1929, as well as, to the subsequent Arab riots of 1936-39, the British, who, at the unanimous direction of the League of Nations, were tasked at that time with reconstituting the Jewish people in their historic homeland? The British reaction was not to defend the remaining Jews. Their reaction was not to affirm the ancient, historical connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, the connection which was recognized and ratified by all the nations of the world only a few years earlier in the Mandate that the League of Nations had entrusted to Great Britain to facilitate. On the contrary, the British response was to evacuate this ancient Jewish community and tear the Jews from their roots because England refused to stand up for the truth and confront the Arab aggression.

We see this same rejection and subversion of Jewish rights in Judea and Samaria today. In fact, despite the Jewish roots that go back to the very beginning of Jewish history, these are the regions that are consistently put on the chopping block in any current discussion about Israel.

Furthermore, those Jews who live in Judea and Samaria, who simply refuse to abandon the Jewish home, history, and heritage, are regularly vilified and are the victims of verbal, economic, and even mortal assaults.

Talia and Yitzchak Ames, Avishai Schindler, and Kochava Even-Haim were massacred by Arab terrorists near Hebron in 2010. Talia and Yitchak’s six children were left as orphans, as their pregnant mother and their father were murdered for the “crime” of being Jews. These Jews were vilified for refusing to leave their home and for wanting to live near the ancient Jewish city of Hebron where a Jew purchased property nearly 4000 years ago. Avishai Schindler was a yeshiva student who had just been married. Kochava Even-Haim was a teacher who left behind an eight-year-old daughter.

We see violence perpetrated against the Jews of Samaria, as well. When Jews want to visit Joseph’s Tomb in the city of Shechem, they go under the cover of night and watchful eyes of the Israel Defense Forces, since attacks on Jews visiting the site are common.

Joseph’s bones, which the Children of Israel had brought up from Egypt, they buried in Shechem, in the portion of the field that Jacob acquired…for a hundred kesitahs; and it became a heritage for the children of Joseph.”(Joshua 24:32).

After all of the assurances that the Arab authorities supervising the area would respect this holy site, in October of 2000, the tomb of Joseph was, nonetheless, desecrated, along with the Yeshiva Od Yosef Chai, the Jewish house of study, which stood next to the tomb. The holy site was ransacked and burned. Rabbi Hillel Lieberman, one of the founders of the Yeshiva, was slain as he attempted to save the sacred site and its holy items from destruction.

In 2011, 24-year-old father of four Ben Yoseph Livnat was shot and killed as he and other Breslav Hasidim attempted to visit the tomb.

Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem has been subjected to unceasing acts of vandalism, desecration, and arson. Jews trying to visit and pray at this sacred place are repeatedly met with violence.

In Samaria, near the city of Shechem, the towns of Elon Moreh, Har Bracha, Yitzhar, and Itamar were founded. These modern communities are nestled in the hill country, with Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal towering above, “And all Israel and its elders and officers and its judges stood on this side and that of the Ark opposite the Kohanim, the Levites, bearers of the Ark of the Covenant…half of them on the slope of Mount Gerizim and half of them on the slope of Mount Ebal.”(Joshua 8:33).

The town of Itamar was named for Itamar HaKohen (Priest), son of Aaron the Priest. “The labor of the Levites was under the authority of Itamar, son of Aaron the Kohen.” (Exodus 38:21).

In March of 2011, on a Sabbath evening, Udi Fogel, 36, his wife Ruth, 35, and three of their children, Yoav, 11, Eldad, 4, and Hadas, 3 months, were brutally murdered in their home in Itamar by Arab terrorists from a neighboring town.

They were killed for the “crime” of being Jews who would not leave their home, Jews who wanted to live in the birthplace of the Jewish people.

The rejection and subversion of Jewish rights in Judea and Samaria, and the violence perpetrated against the Jews in these regions, are unrelenting.

The ongoing attempt to obscure the Jewish Biblical, spiritual, historical, and legal rights to Judea and Samaria is extended further by the deceitful claim that Jews are “occupiers” in this land. Given the fact that the Land of Israel was never the sovereign country of any nation but the Jewish one, Jews cannot be deemed “occupiers” in their own land, a fact affirmed by international law.

 

The historical and religious rights of the Jewish people to the land of Israel were affirmed and codified in international law at the San Remo Conference of 1920, a meeting of the Principal Allied Powers of WWI to determine the future of the former territories of the Ottoman Empire. At this conference, where international agreement was also reached regarding the establishment of other countries in the region, such as Syria, and Iraq, a binding agreement was reached between these world powers “to reconstitute the ancient Jewish State within its historic borders.”

Recognizing the ancient and continuous, historical and spiritual connection between the nation of Israel and the land of Israel, the San Remo Resolution specifically included this spiritual heartland of Samaria and Judea as part of the area designated for reestablishing the Jewish National Homeland, along with all the land that is between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, all the land that currently comprises the country of Jordan, as well as, the Golan Heights and Gaza.

 

This mandate, which was then ratified by a unanimous vote of The League of Nations, affirmed the Jewish right to settle anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, which is where these regions of Samaria and Judea are found. This right is enshrined to this day in international law.

The San Remo Conference, along with various treaties following World War I, succeeded in establishing independent countries sought by the Arab nationalists; Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan were all established out of what had been provinces of the Ottoman Empire.

Yet, when it came to similarly recognizing the rights of the Jewish nation to the Jewish homeland, there were those who consistently sought to prevent Jewish self-determination and sovereignty in the Jewish homeland of Israel. This was despite the fact that the world clearly recognized, by international law and treaty, the right of the Jewish nation to reestablish the Jewish National Homeland.

We continue to see this same rejection of Jewish rights to the land of Israel today. We continue to hear the persistent demand that Jews give up their homeland. And we hear the unremitting vilification of those Jews who are unwilling to do so.

GREAT LIST OF QUOTES ON ZIONISM PART V COLLECTED BY CHICO NOOJI

 

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“Israel continues to resemble quick-silver, that strange, liquid metal,
whose restless globules run in all directions without mingling with
anything they touch, but reunite in large masses as soon as they
meet again.”

– Pierre Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, French economist. 1843 – 1916 AD

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“The resourcefulness of the modern Jews, both in mind and soul, is extraordinary.
(…) The Jews, however, are beyond all doubt the strongest, toughest, and purest
race at present living in Europe; they know how to succeed even under the
worst conditions (in fact better than under favorable ones) by means of virtues
of some sort – which one would like nowadays to label as vices – owing above all to
a resolute faith which does not need to be ashamed before modern idea. (…) It is
certain that the Jew, if he desired – or if they were driven to it, as the antisemites
seem to wish – could now have the ascendancy, nay, literally the supremacy, over
Europe; that they are not working or planning for that end is equally sure.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher. 1844 – 1900 AD

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“Zionism has succeeded in bringing back into the fold many men and women,
both here and in Europe, who otherwise would have been lost to Judaism. It
has given them a new interest in the synagogue and everything Jewish, and
put before them an ideal worthy of their love and sacrifice (…) Zionism is the
declaration of Jewish independence from all kinds of slavery, whether material
or spiritual.”

– Solomon Schechter, Moldavian-Jewish rabbi. 1847 – 1915 AD

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“Here we start with a pure race of unusual intellectual vigor and power, the Jews,
long thrown by circumstances into an environment which has brought out many of
their faculties in a very high degree. They are the oldest civilized race now remaining
on earth; they are artistic, musical, literary, exceptionally philosophic, and hereditarily
cultivated.”

– Grant Allen, Canadian author and novelist. 1848 – 1899 AD

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“If Zionism can be developed into a working scheme, the benefit it would
bring to the Jewish people – especially perhaps to that section of it which
most deserves our pity – would be great and lasting. It is not merely that
large numbers of them would thus find a refuge from religious and social
persecution; but that they would bear corporate responsibilities, and enjoy
corporate opportunities of a kind which, from the nature of the case, they
can never possess as citizens of any non-Jewish state.”

– Arthur James Balfour, 49th British Prime Minister. 1848 – 1930 AD

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“Zionism is a new word for a very old thing, so far as it merely expresses the
longing of the Jewish people for Zion. Since the destruction of the Second
Temple by Titus, since the dispersion of the Jews throughout the world, this
ancient people has not ceased to long fervently for a return to the lost land
of their fathers nor to entertain for it a determined hope.”

– Max Nordau, Austrian-Jewish physician, author and Zionist. 1849 – 1923 AD

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“As the Ghetto melts away under the disintegrating forces of modernity, a new
cement must be created to hold together whatever is individual in the Jew.
Nationality is the rationale and Zionism the saving policy of modern Judaism.”
Max Heller, rabbi of New Orleans. 1850 – 1929 AD

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“You are a people without a land; there is a land without a people. Be united.
Fulfill the dreams of your old poets and patriarchs. Go back, go back to the
land of Abraham.”

– John Lawson Stoddard, American writer, hymn writer and lecturer. 1850 – 1931 AD

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“The Hebrew language is the only glue which holds together our scattered bones.
It also holds together the rings in the chain of time. It binds us to those who built
pyramids, to those who shed their blood on the ramparts of Jerusalem, and to those
who, at the burning stakes, cried Shema Yisrael!”

– Yitskhok Leybush Peretz, Polish-Jewish author.  1852 – 1915 AD

GREAT LIST OF QUOTES ON ZIONISM PART IV COLLECTED BY CHICO NOOJI

 


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“If other national movements which have risen before our eyes were their own
justification, can it still be questioned whether the Jews have a similar right? They play
a larger part in the life of the civilized nations, and they have rendered greater service
to humanity; they have a greater past and history, a common, unmixed descent, an
indestructible vigor, an unshakable faith, and an unexampled martyrology; the peoples
have sinned against them more grievously than against any other nation. Is not that
enough to make them capable and worthy of possessing a fatherland? The struggle of
the Jews for national unity and independence as an established nation not only
possesses the inherent justification that belongs to the struggle of every oppressed
people, but it is also calculated to win the support of the people by whom we are
now unwanted. This struggle must become an irresistible factor of contemporary
international politics and destined for future greatness.”
– Leon Pinsker, Russian-Jewish physician and Zionist. 1821 – 1891 AD

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“As long as the world lasts, all who want to make progress in
righteousness will come to Israel for inspiration as to the people
who had the sense for righteousness most glowing and strongest.”

– Matthew Arnold, English poet and cultural critic. 1822 – 1888 AD

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“The idea itself is natural, fine and just. Who can challenge the rights of the
Jews in Palestine? Good Lord, historically it is really your country. What a
wonderful spectacle that will be when a people as resourceful as the Jews
will once again be an independent nation, honored and complacent, able to
make its contribution to needy humanity in the field of morals, as in the past.”
– Yousef al-Khalidi, Palestinian Arab mayor of Jerusalem. 1829 – 1907 AD

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“The Jew is that sacred being who has brought down from heaven the everlasting fire, and has
illumined with it the entire world. He is the religious source, spring, and fountain out of which all
the rest of the peoples have drawn their beliefs and their religions. The Jew is the pioneer of liberty.
Even in those olden days, when the people were divided into but two distinct classes, slaves and
masters – even so long ago had the law of Moses prohibited the practice of keeping a person in bondage for more than six years. The Jew is the pioneer of civilization. Ignorance was condemned in olden Palestine more even than it is today in civilized Europe. Moreover, in those wild and barbarous days, when neither life nor the death of anyone counted for anything at all, Rabbi Akiba did not refrain from expressing himself openly against capital punishment, a practice which is recognized today as a highly civilized way of punishment. The Jew is the emblem of civil and religious toleration. ‘Love the stranger and the sojourner’, Moses commands, ‘because you have been strangers in the land of Egypt.'”

– Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist, moral thinker and social reformer. 1831 – 1902 AD

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“What invested the Jew of all times with an economic, and in part also spiritual,
superiority over other people has been, first, his thrift and temperance, cultivated
by his religious law and moral code; second, his actually boundless attachment to
and care of his wife and children; and third, his capacity and desire for learning,
which stands out even more significantly and irresistibly among the poor than
among the rich.”

– Dr. Isaac Rülf, rabbi of Memel in East Prussia. 1831 – 1902 AD

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“If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one per cent of the human
race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star-dust lost in the blaze of the Milky
Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always
been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his
commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his
bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art,
music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to
the weakness of his numbers.”

Mark Twain, American author. 1835 – 1910 AD

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“We Gentiles owe our life to Israel. It is Israel who has brought us the message
that God is one, and that God is a just and righteous God, and demands
righteousness of his children. It is Israel that has brought us the message that
God is our Father. It is Israel who, in bringing us the divine law, has laid the
foundation of liberty. It is Israel who had the first free institutions the world
ever saw. When our own unchristian prejudices flame out against the Jewish
people, let us remember that all that we have and all that we are we owe,
under God, to what Judaism has given us.”

– Lyman Abbott, American theologian, editor and author. 1835 – 1922 AD

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“Why shall not the powers which under the treaty of Berlin, in 1878, gave Bulgaria to the Bulgarians and Serbia
to the Serbians now give Palestine back to the Jews?…These provinces, as well as Romania, Montenegro, and
Greece, were wrested from the Turks and given to their natural owners. Does not Palestine as rightfully belong
to the Jews? (…) The general law of dereliction does not apply to the Jews in regard to Palestine, for they never
abandoned the land. They made no treaty; they did not even surrender. They simply succumbed, after the most
desperate conflict, to the overwhelming power of the Romans. (…)
According to God’s distribution of nations,
Palestine is their home – an inalienable possession from which they were expelled by force… Let us now restore
them to the land of which they were so cruelly despoiled by our Roman ancestors.”

– William Eugene Blackstone, American evangelist and Christian Zionist. 1841 – 1935 AD

GREAT LIST OF QUOTES ON ZIONISM PART III COLLECTED BY CHICO NOOJI

 


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“One of the most important points in the faith of the Church is
the gathering of Israel, that happy time when God will turn to
them a pure language, and the earth will be filled with sacred
knowledge as the waters cover the great deep.”

– Joseph Smith, American Mormon prophet. 1805 – 1844 AD

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“Judaism is not a mere adjunct to life: it comprises all of life. To be a Jew is not a mere
part, it is the sum total of our task in life. To be a Jew in the synagogue and the kitchen,
in the field and the warehouse, in the office and the pulpit… with the needle and the
graving-tool, with the pen and the chisel – that is what it means to be a Jew. (…) Judaism
is an untouchable sanctuary which must not be subjected to human judgment nor
subordinated to human considerations.”
– Samson Raphael Hirsch, German-Jewish chief rabbi of Moravia. 1808 – 1888 AD

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“Restoring persecuted Jews to their national home in Palestine is a noble
dream and one shared by many Americans. My chiropodist is a Jew who
has so many times put me upon my feet, that I would have no objection
to giving his countrymen a leg up.”

– Abraham Lincoln, 16th American President. 1809 – 1865 AD

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“Judaism (…) is not a temporary passing, it is a human ancient good,
which reached its full value within a particularly qualified tribe, carries
continuous force within itself and must strive for its extension over the
whole of humanity. (…) We shall not abandon the name of ‘Jews’, which,
though much reviled, has been linked with the purest knowledge of God,
the noblest freedom of the spirit and refinement of morals.”

– Abraham Geiger, German-Jewish Reform rabbi. 1810 – 1874 AD

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“Judaism is not a passive religion, but an active life factor which has coalesced
with the national consciousness into one organic whole. It is primarily the
expression of a nationality whose history for thousands of years coincides with
the history of the development of a humanity and the Jews are a nation which,
having once acted as the leaven of the social world, is destined to be resurrected
with the rest of civilized nations.”

– Moses Hess, German-Jewish philosopher and socialist. 1812 – 1875 AD

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In an unexpected and deeply shameful manner, the racial hatred and
fanaticism of the Middle Ages is being rekindled in various places and
directed against our fellow Jewish citizens. What is being forgotten
here is that many of them have bestowed benefit and honor upon the
fatherland through their industry and talent in commerce and trade, in
the arts and sciences.”

– Theodor Mommsen, German historian and author. 1817 – 1903 AD

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“Why not give Palestine back to [the Jews] again? According to God’s
distribution of nations it is their home, an inalienable possession from which
they were expelled by force. Under their cultivation it was a remarkably fruitful
land, sustaining millions of Israelites, who industriously tilled its hillsides and valleys.
They were agriculturalists and producers as well as a nation of great commercial
importance – the centre of civilization and religion.”

– George Eliot, English writer, novelist and journalist. 1819 – 1880 AD

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“So many Jews on such a day! And how cheerfully and colorfully
they are clothed! Now I still see that with so much pleasure. The
Jewish finery on the shabbat has always attracted me more than
the cold, barren reformedness.”

– Eduard Douwes Dekker (Multatuli), Dutch writer and anti-colonialist. 1820 – 1887 AD

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“No nation has been able to establish itself, as a nation in Palestine up to this
day, no national union and no national spirit have prevailed there. The motley,
impoverished tribes which have occupied it have held it as mere tenants at will,
temporary landowners, evidently waiting for those entitled to the permanent
possession of the soil.”

– John William Dawson, Canadian geologist and anthropologist. 1820 – 1899 AD

WHAT WAS STEINITZ TALKING ABOUT?

Intelligence Minister Steinitz has been quoted by news sources as saying that “if the trickle of rockets from Gaza continues, we’ll have no choice but to enter and eliminate the Hamas rule, allowing the Palestinian Authority (PA) to rule Gaza again”. His comments came following another rocket attack on Friday night emanating from Gaza and directed towards Eilat.

The question of whether or not Israel should attack Hamas, invade Gaza, or carry out an operation to replace the rule of the Gaza strip with the PA is flawed. If Israel intended to fulfill any of these objectives it should have done so already. As always timing of military actions is of the utmost important.

Some of the likely results from attacking Gaza at this point in the game should be clear.

1) Israel carries out a largescale operation against Hamas and other Gaza based terrorists: Such an operation will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the so called ‘peace process’. Abbas may be backed into a corner of pulling out of the talks when civilians are consequently caught in the crossfire.

2) Israel carried out a largescale operation to the point where Hamas is totally dismantled and other terror groups suffer significant losses: Such an eventuation would only take place with much loss of life on both sides. The duration from start to finish would be relatively long when compared to other operations that have only sought to deter Hamas.

Perhaps the most significant result would be increased US, EU, and world pressure for Israel to sign a ‘peace agreement’ with the PA since the latter would now be in control of all the territory it claims to desire and represent.

Regardless of what Israel chooses to do it will make their political positions more difficult to maintain. They will be unable to remain committed to the ‘peace process’ if they take the first option, and they will suffer from increased pressure and leverage if they elect to go with the second option.

Despite the downfalls of either of the two options, and the unacceptability of having rockets fired at its civilian populations, one has to wonder on what basis Steinitz has made such a bold declaration. If the trickle of rocket fire by non-Hamas affiliated groups is enough to warrant such comments and intentions then surely the same should and must be said of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”). The number of casualties—whether injury or death—is far greater from terrorists based from these areas. They two are mostly unaffiliated with the PA, although many are affiliated with Fatah: the party that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas still heads.

If threat of injury from terrorists warrants a widescale operation to remove the governing body who Israel views as responsible for the area from which the terrorism emanates, then Judea and Samaria should be scaled well above Gaza on any ‘List of Priorities’.

Some would say that such a suggestion threatens the ‘peace process’. They would be correct. However it would only threaten the ‘peace process’ as much as Steinitz’s Gaza operation plan and with arguably more security and political benefit.

Originally posted on Times of Israel blogs

Is Abbas the last Palestinian Authority president? by Mudar Zahran

After Israel’s most recent military operation in Gaza, which ended with a cease-fire, Hamas has been claiming victory and enjoying popularity with the Palestinians, which comes as a setback for Hamas’s rivals; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction.

With Hamas popularity on the rise, Abbas was left with one desperate option to boost his image: pressing his quest for UN recognition of Palestine as an independent state.

Still, Abbas has other problems in his own house; there is friction within Abbas’s Fatah, as Abbas’s rival, Muhammad Dahlan, is still very influential and has a huge following.

Dahlan was a senior member of the Fatah Central Committee and the chief of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service. For years, he served as the main Palestinian counterterrorism coordination figure with Israel.

Abbas’s Fatah managed to expel Dahlan in June 2011 following allegations by Abbas that Dahlan had murdered Arafat using poison.

Dahlan lives in exile now, but he has the money and the followers to disrupt Abbas nonetheless, if not necessarily to topple him. It is not unlikely that rivalry between Abbas and Dahlan would evolve into further friction between their followers should Abbas exhibit further signs of weakness or step down.

In addition, the Arab Spring has drawn attention from the Palestinian cause as a whole and from Abbas as the poster child for the Arab-Israeli conflict; the media now has Syria, Egypt and other hot-spots to cover over Abbas’s heart-felt speeches, or his meetings with world leaders.

As a result, Palestinians in the West Bank are no longer seeing Abbas in the international media, or mingling with world leaders, and are therefore focusing more on their miserable living conditions, which, as revealed by a recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 70 percent of them believe are due to PA corruption.

Last October, prominent Israeli political scholar and Arabist Mordechai Kedar told a crowd in London that “the biggest victim of the Arab Spring is the Palestinian cause, as the world’s media is no longer occupied with it” – and with the fading significance of the Palestinian cause goes Abbas’s own significance.

Adding to Abbas’s woes is that the Palestinians in the West Bank do not seem to be too enthusiastic about his quest to gain UN recognition for Palestine as an independent state.

While Abbas’s UN stunt succeeded – Palestine is now an observer state in the UN – its very success could cause Abbas’s disappearance from the political scene, because the Oslo peace agreement requires the Palestinians to not unilaterally seek international recognition as a state, and therefore Abbas’s stunt gives Israel the full legal right to end Oslo altogether.

BUT SAY he does disappear, due to a “Palestinian Spring,” a coup by his rivals or even retirement – the man is 77 after all – would the PA survive? First of all, the PA is not favored within its own jurisdiction, as confirmed by the above-mentioned poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. In 2005, renowned scholar Daniel Pipes reported Palestinians under the PA were already saying that “Israel’s hell was better than Arafat’s paradise,” and considering that Arafat had much more credit with the Palestinians than does Abbas, one can only imagine how Palestinians would view a PA without even Abbas.

In fact, a 2011 poll conducted by Pechter Middle East Polls in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations, when asked if they preferred to become a citizen of Palestine, with all of the rights and privileges of other citizens of Palestine, or a citizen of Israel, only 30 percent chose Palestinian citizenship.”

True, Abbas’s second in command, Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, has a reputation for transparency and decency, but since Abbas appointed him in June 2007, the Palestinian Legislative Council has not confirmed his appointment. It is therefore, unlikely he would be able to secure the presidency.

With no heir apparent for Abbas, who could secure public support and control the various military factions? With the PA’s reputation for corruption and the disapproval of it among the Palestinian public, it is possible that the PA’s future will be in jeopardy if Abbas steps down, quits, or retires.

While there are a few who argue that the West Bank should be handed to the Hashemite regime in Jordan, King Abdullah faces his own domestic challenges. Despite the media’s low coverage of unrest in Jordan, there is an on-going, relentless public call to topple the Hashemite regime. Those hoping the Jordanian regime could play a future role in the West Bank ignore the possibility that the Hashemite regime itself might not exist in the near future.

It is about time those concerned with peace and regional stability start considering contingency plans for a West Bank without Abbas, and possibly even without the Palestinian Authority. There is much to consider, and not necessarily as much time.

Confusing The World With the Facts on “Palestine” by Eli Hertz

The Arabs invented a special national entity in the 1960s called the Palestinians, specifically for political gain. They brand Israelis as invaders and claim the geographic area called Palestine belongs exclusively to the Arabs.

The word Palestine is not even Arabic. It is a word coined by the Romans around 135 CE from the name of a seagoing Aegean people who settled on the coast of Canaan in antiquity – the Philistines. The name was chosen to replace Judea, as a sign that Jewish sovereignty had been eradicated following the Jewish revolts against Rome at that time.

In the course of time, the Latin name Philistia was further bastardized into Palistina or Palestine. During the next 2,000 years, What had been renamed Palestine was never an independent state belonging to any people, nor did a Palestinian people, distinct from other Arabs, appear during 1,300 years of Muslim hegemony in Palestine under Arab and Ottoman rule.

Palestine was and is solely a geographic name. Therefore, it is not surprising that in modern times the name ‘Palestine’ or ‘Palestinian’ was applied as an adjective to all inhabitants of the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River – Palestine Jews and Palestine Arabs alike. In fact, until the 1960s, most Arabs in Palestine preferred to identify themselves merely as part of the great Arab nation or citizens of “southern Syria.”

The term ‘Palestinian’ as a noun was usurped and co-opted by the Arabs in the 1960s as a tactic initiated by Yasser Arafat to brand Jews as intruders on someone else’s turf. He mendaciously presented Arab residents of Israel and the “Territories” as indigenous inhabitants since time immemorial. This fabrication of peoplehood allowed Palestinian Arabs to gain parity with the Jewish people as a nation deserving of an independent state.

Historically, Before the Arabs Fabricated the Palestinian People as an Exclusively Arab Phenomenon, No Such Group Existed

Countless official British Mandate-vintage documents speak of ‘the Jews’ and ‘the Arabs’ of Palestine – not ‘Jews and Palestinians.’

Ironically, before local Jews began calling themselves Israelis in 1948 (the name ‘Israel’ was chosen for the newly-established Jewish state), the term ‘Palestine’ applied almost exclusively to Jews and the institutions founded by new Jewish immigrants in the first half of the 20th century, before independence.

Some examples include*:

• The Jerusalem Post, founded in 1932, was called the Palestine Post until 1948.

• Bank Leumi L’Israel was called the “Anglo-Palestine Bank, a Jewish Company.”

• The Jewish Agency – an arm of the Zionist movement engaged in Jewish settlement since 1929 – was called the Jewish Agency for Palestine.

• The house organ of American Zionism in the 1930s was called New Palestine.

• Today’s Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1936 by German Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany, was called the “Palestine Symphony Orchestra, composed of some 70 Palestinian Jews.”

• The United Jewish Appeal (UJA) was established in 1939 as a merger of the United Palestine Appeal and the fundraising arm of the Joint Distribution Committee.

Encouraged by their success at historical revisionism and brainwashing the world with the ‘Big Lie’ of a Palestinian people, Palestinian Arabs have more recently begun to claim they are the descendants of the Philistines and even the Stone Age Canaanites.

Based on that myth, they can claim to have been ‘victimized’ twice by the Jews: In the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites and by the Israelis in modern times – a total fabrication.

Archaeologists explain that the Philistines were a Mediterranean people who settled along the coast of Canaan in 1100 BCE. They have no connection to the Arab nation, a desert people who emerged from the Arabian Peninsula.

Contradictions abound, Palestinian leaders claim to be descended from the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Jebusites and the first Christians. They also co-opt Jesus and ignore his Jewishness, at the same time claiming the Jews never were a people and never built the Holy Temples in Jerusalem.

There Has Never Been a Sovereign Arab State in Palestine

The artificiality of a Palestinian identity is reflected in the attitudes and actions of neighboring Arab nations who never established a Palestinian state. It also is expressed in the utterances and loyalties of so-called Palestinians.

Only twice in Jerusalem’s history has it served as a national capital. The first time was as the capital of the two Jewish Commonwealths during the First and Second Temple periods, as described in the Bible, reinforced by archaeological evidence and numerous ancient documents.

The second time is in modern times as the capital of the State of Israel. It has never served as an Arab capital for the simple reason that there has never been a Palestinian Arab state.

The rhetoric by Arab leaders on behalf of the Palestinian Arabs rings hollow, for the Arabs in neighboring lands, who control 99.9 percent of the Middle East land, have never recognized as a Palestinian entity. They have always considered Palestine and its Arab inhabitants part of the great ‘Arab nation,’ historically and politically as an integral part of Greater Syria.

The Arabs never established a Palestinian Arab state when the UN offered a partition plan in 1947 to establish “an Arab and a Jewish state” (they did not term it a Palestinian state, it should be noted). Nor did the Arabs recognize or establish a Palestinian Arab state during the two decades prior to the Six-Day War when area of Judea and Samaria (“West Bank”) was under Jordanian control and Gaza was under Egyptian control; nor did the Palestinian Arabs clamor for autonomy or independence during those years under Jordanian and Egyptian rule.

Well before the 1967 decision to create a new Arab people called ‘Palestinians,’ when the word ‘Palestinian’ was associated with Jewish endeavors, Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, a local Arab leader, testified in 1937 before a British investigative body – the Peel Commission – saying: “There is no such country [as Palestine]! Palestine is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries, part of Syria.”

What Are We Negotiating? By Michael Wolfowicz

Recently, as many as 100,000 readers were delighted to receive their copy of the second issue of the new ‘Sovereignty’ political journal.  This publication was started by Nadia Matar’s Women in Green movement and was made available in both Hebrew and English.  The need for such a publication, and the important void which it has filled was long overdue.

For decades the right has left the war of ideas to the left and instead has focussed on changing facts on the ground.  In light of the most recent push—led by US Sec. of State Kerry—to give up our heartland for the creation of another Arab state, the time has most definitely come to dispel the rhetoric that has plagued and infected the Israeli discourse for decades.

Even Bibi has apparently bought in to the left’s traditional arguments.  Israel basically has two options, according to the now broadly accepted premise:  Carry out a ‘two state solution’ in the creation of a ‘Palestinian’ state and in turn maintain Israel’s Jewish and Democratic character.  Fail to do this and end up with a bi-national state in which either the Jewish or Democratic features will ultimately have to be sacrificed.

What Sovereignty has done, and is doing, is highlighting the fact that Israel need not be constrained to such a choose-one-or-the-other’ fate.  It has thus far presented a number of different ideas that could be alternatives to the ‘two state solution’.  Arguably the most right-wing alternative is Annexation of Judea & Samaria, and then coming up with solutions about how to maintain the desired characters of the state following that step.  This idea denies that Israel must give citizenship to all 1-2 million Arab residents following annexation (something that is not outrageous by any means).

Does Israel really need an alternative?  Does Israel need to formally annex the territories?  I believe that after the nationalist camp has advertised the fact that alternatives do in fact exist, it will eventually need to band together around one single plan in order to succeed against those who would eagerly give up our land, our rights, and our sovereignty.  There is that word again, ‘sovereignty’, and this is the idea—as is the name of the political journal—around which the right can and should be rallied.

The state of Israel, created in 1948, can trace its foundation back to a single and regularly overlooked document, the San Remo document of 1920.  This document describes the outline of the ‘Land of Israel’, (or ‘Jewish National Home’) an important term when dealing with subsequent documents relating to Israel, the State of Israel, and Israeli law.  The ‘Land of Israel’ was never changed in international law after San Remo, only facts on the ground changed, the most important of which was the creation of Trans-Jordan (Jordan), which cut off some 70% of the ‘Land of Israel’ (together with modern day Israel constituting the British Mandate for Palestine).

In 1948, following the War of Independence, Ben Gurion used an interesting law in order to formerly incorporate—not ‘annex’—territories held by the Israeli forces that fell outside of the 1947 partition plan lines.  This included places such as Beer Sheva, where the world today doesn’t dare question Israel’s sovereignty.

Unfortunately and erroneously, on June 27, 1967, Section 11B of the Law and Administration Ordinance was enacted.  Disregarding the 1967 victory, and till today, the law states that:

“Any law applying to the whole of the State of Israel shall be deemed to apply to the whole of the area including both the area of the State of Israel and any part of Palestine which the Minister of Defence has defined by proclamation as being held by the Defence Army of Israel”

Since Judea and Samaria were part of the British Mandate for Palestine, they are also part of the Jewish National Home as defined at San Remo, and since the IDF had declared its hold over the area by proclamation, both in 1967 and until this day by way of action, the law of the State ought to have been applied to it – and could have been applied to it, but wasn’t.

According to the late legal expert Howard Grief, Israel thus

“failed at the appropriate moment to utilize the leading precedent established in his [sic Meir Shamgar] own country when, during the War of Independence, additional areas of the Land of Israel were recovered by the IDF, that were thenceforth subject to the law of the State. The above facts and precedent were simply ignored or never even thought of”.

If the precedent law would have been followed, or if it were to be followed, then another Israeli law would make the act of annexation at this juncture unnecessary.

Israel’s Basic Law-Israel Lands reads:

The ownership of Israel lands, being the lands in Israel of the State, the Development Authority, or the KKL, shall not be transferred either by sale or in any other manner.

It is unlikely that in 1967 the Eshkol government, acting on the advice of its top legal authority Meir Shamgar, could have foreseen the predicament we face today.  While it is undoubtedly important and overdue to express counters to the ‘Two-state solution’, Israel’s right must rally around a single idea if they wish to see that form of national suicide defeated.  And that idea is sovereignty, the rights enshrined at San Remo and later supported by Israel’s own laws.

Could it be that based on this rendition it is actually illegal vis-à-vis Israeli law for anyone to try and transfer any parts of the Jewish National Home to any other entity?  Have all governments since 1967 that have negotiated parts of the Jewish National Home been acting in contravention to Israeli law?

After all, what is actually being negotiated at the moment?  Our sovereignty.

In the late 1970’s, former Indonesian FM Malik said in reference to demands on the Philippines for Mindanao sovereignty; ‘no sovereign state worthy of the title could agree to such a thing’. ”

*(Note:I must credit the great work of the late Howard Grief, ZT”L for his excellent research on the legalities of Israel’s borders).

Inappropriate Use of the Fourth Geneva Convention by Eli Hertz

Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War Does Not Effect Jewish Rights to the Land of Israel

Background

The language of Article 49 was crafted in the wake of World War II and the Nazi occupation – an occupation that led to a war of aggression in which Nazi Germany attacked its neighbors with impunity, committing a host of atrocities against civilian populations, including deportation and displacement of local populations in occupied Europe. Millions were sent to forced labor camps and those of particular ethnic origin, most notably the Jews, were sent to their deaths in the gas chambers. The drafters of Article 49 were concerned with preventing future genocide against humanity. Critics and enemies of Israel, including members of the UN and organs such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have come to use the Geneva Convention as a weapon against Israel, even when statements by authoritative analysts, scholars and drafters of the document contradict everything said by those who distort history for politically motivated reasons.

It is common knowledge that from its birth, Israel follows customarily international humanitarian law without being told or forced to do so by outside authorities.

“Occupied Territory”

The term “occupied territory,” which appears in the Fourth Geneva Convention, originated as a result of the Nazi occupation of Europe. Though it has become common parlance to describe the West Bank and Gaza as “occupied territories,” there is no legal basis for using this term in connection to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Professor Julius Stone, a leading authority on the Law of Nations, categorically rejected the use of the term “occupied territory” to describe the territories controlled by Israel on the following counts:

(1) Article 49 relates to the invasion of sovereign states and is inapplicable because the West Bank did not and does not belong to any other state.

(2) The drafting history of Article 49 [Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War] – that is, preventing “genocidal objectives” must be taken into account. Those conditions do not exist in Israel’s case.

(3) Settlement of Jews in the West Bank is voluntary and does not displace local inhabitants. Moreover, Stone asserted: that “no serious dilution (much less extinction) of native populations” [exists]; rather “a dramatic improvement in the economic situation of the [local Palestinian] inhabitants since 1967 [has occurred].”

Deportation and Forced Transfer

Arab opposition to Jewish settlements is based on the last paragraph of Article 49. The “Occupying Power” may not “Deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

One can hardly believe this baseless ICJ assertion that Israel, the only free and democratic country in the Middle East used “deportation” and “forced transfer” of its own population into “occupied territories.”

Article 2 of the Fourth Geneva Convention

Article 2 of the Fourth Geneva Convention applies only to conflicts that “arise between two or more high Contracting Parties,” which is not the case at hand, as Israel is the only High Contracting Party (or state) in this conflict, and Jordan never was. Thus, the Fourth Geneva Convention is inapplicable!

Professor Stone touches on the applicability of Article 49 of the Geneva Convention, writing on the subject in 1980:

“That because of the ex iniuria principle [unjust acts cannot create law], Jordan never had nor now has any legal title in the West Bank, nor does any other state even claim such title. Article 49 seems thus simply not applicable. Even if it were, it may be added that the facts of recent voluntary settlements seem not to be caught by the intent of Article 49 which is rather directed at the forced transfer of the belligerent’s inhabitants to the occupied territory, or the displacement of the local inhabitants, for other than security reasons.

Support to Stone’s assertion can be found in Sir Professor Elihu Lauterpacht’s writing in 1968:

“Thus Jordan’s occupation of the Old City-and indeed of the whole of the area west of the Jordan river-entirely lacked legal justification; and being defective in this way could not form any basis for Jordan validly to fill the sovereignty vacuum in the Old City [and whole of the area west of the Jordan River].”

Professor Eugene Rostow, past Dean of Yale Law School, U.S. under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and a key draftee of UN Security Council Resolution 242, concluded that the Fourth Geneva Convention is not applicable to Israel’s legal position and notes:

“The opposition to Jewish settlements in the West Bank also relied on a legal argument – that such settlements violated the Fourth Geneva Convention forbidding the occupying power from transferring its own citizens into the occupied territories. How that Convention could apply to Jews who already had a legal right, protected by Article 80 of the United Nations Charter, to live in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, was never explained.” It seems that the International Court of Justice never explained it either.

Article 80

Article 80 of the United Nations Charter specifically created in San Francisco on 26 June 1945, recognizes the continued validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, or already existing international instruments including those adopted by the League of Nations, such as the “Mandate for Palestine.” Jews legal rights of settlements survived the British withdrawal in 1948.

The International Court of Justice [ICJ], Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court [ICC), and the Fourth Geneva Convention lack the authority to affect ownership of the Territories of Judea and Samaria known also as the West Bank.

Holding On to Our Homeland: No You Cannot Tell My People By Howard Teich

An interesting thing happened when I watched the movie, Mandela: Long Road to Freedom.  I listened, and learned, and applied his thinking to Judea and Samaria. His concern was apartheid and that the powerful people in South Africa were directing the destiny of his people, and he asked the right question, “Am I to allow that powerful person to tell my people where to be!”

Well, I say the same thing, “Are we to allow the world powers to tell the Jewish people that they cannot live in their Biblical homeland, Judea and Samaria, and take away our rights to control our own destiny there?  I say no on every level.

Let’s really take a look.  The Israel of today is a small sliver of land; one country carved out of the wide expanse of the former Ottoman Empire, with the Arabs being given the overwhelming bulk of the land for their numerous countries and kingdoms, including a country for the Palestinian people, Jordan.  With the League of Nations unanimously declaring in 1920, “whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine, and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country,” and with the Balfour Declaration, the San Remo Conference and the Treaty of Sevres, the League of Nations, the U.N.”s declaration of statehood, and so many wars and treaties later, the issue of Israel’s right to all the land that it now has reclaimed must be a closed issue.

As Churchill voiced it, the Jewish people returning to its land in Palestine are “further development of an existing community,” and he added that it should be known that the Jewish people “are in Palestine as of right.”

Fact:  The Arabs refuse to recognize the right of the Jewish people to have even one state of their own, notwithstanding the reality of Israel as a leading country in the world.  The Arabs want to destroy Israel, and the Jewish community wants it to continue to exist.  That is the essence of the continuing problem.  Israel has shrunk its land in the name of peace, sacrificing its rightful land – land it reclaimed in wars brought against it by the Arabs with the directed intention of destroyingIsrael, or as they term it, throwing Israel and the Jewish people back into the Sea.

Fact:  With 700,000 Jewish people now living in Judea and Samaria, including post-1967 Jerusalem, the Jewish homeland is now being reconstituted in its ancient homeland after 2,000 years.  Hebron, Beit-El, Shiloh, Shechem, and Bethlehem are all Jewish centers of great significance in our biblical history, and each continuing to thrive with Jewish people living on the land.  Dani Dayan, chief foreign envoy of The Yesha Council, put it succinctly, “The Jewish communities of Judea andSamaria are not only legal but are impeccably legitimate. Shiloh in Samaria and Hebron in Judea are the cradles of Jewish civilization, and as such the centers of the Jewish sovereignty, preceding even Jerusalem. These are the sites in which the ancient Jewish Tabernacle stood and where the founding fathers and mothers of the Jewish people were buried, where King David set up his first capital and where Jews have lived from time immemorial.”

Now, let’s take a realistic look at what will happen if this land would be handed over to the Palestinian Arabs as part of a supposed peace plan.  First, all Jews would be forced to leave, be forced to march out of their sacred land and remove remnants of their current civilization there.  In fact, if the withdrawals for peace with Egypt in the Sinai, and with the Palestinians in  Gaza are a guide, not only will every Jewish person, house, synagogue, greenhouse and flower have to be removed, even every Jew who was buried there will have to have their graves moved out.  Yes, all of that was required when Israel left Yamit and Sharm El Sheik in the Sinai, and Gush Katif in Gaza,.  We will never forget, and we cannot ever have that happen.  Never again!

This is not just an Israeli issue.  It affects all Jewish people, in Israel and in Diaspora, for after withdrawal the worldwide Jewish community can expect to never visit its sacred places again, as we would not be allowed back on the land.  And, there may not be another opportunity for future generations, as one could reasonably expect that the Palestinian Arabs, with control in their hands, will attempt to destroy each and every Jewish site in Judea and Samaria, to essentially eliminate all remnants of a Jewish civilization on that land.  That’s their way of insuring an end to a Jewish future there, by destroying a Jewish past.

Well, world, that’s not who we are.  As a Jewish people, we will not stand by and let that happen.  Jewish survival has always been based on forging ahead.  Going back to the time of Moses, the Jewish people were not willing to remain as slaves, and a leader emerged to take us out.  Whenever we have faith, and believe in a guiding hand, we forge ahead.

When Moses was told to lead his people into the Promised Land, Canaan, the Jewish people knew they would face battles from people who did not want them to live there. Yet they had faith, and were victorious.  In the multiple wars in Israel, with odds against the Jewish people, Israel won each time.  Notwithstanding the Holocaust where the Europeans destroyed six million of our own, the Jewish people forged ahead when they may have collapsed, and now live in a golden age in our history, in Israel, in America, and throughout the Diaspora.

We have seen Jewish land and property taken away previously in Europe and in the Arab countries.  So, is this a surprise?  Not really.  We have seen the removal of Jews from their territory previously in Europe and in the Arab countries.  So, is this a surprise?  Not really.  We have seen worse previously from Europe and the Arab countries, threatening our very existence, so if they press for policies today that once again, though more subtly, threaten the very existence of Israel and the vibrancy of a Jewish civilization in Judea and Samaria, we should not be really surprised.

A great Jewish Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, in the early 1900s took a tough stand when the British controlled the lands  that were to be divided into the countries of the modern Middle East.  He rightly stated that what comprised Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Israel was always Jewish land, and that any Arab claims on the land would simply be attempts to steal the land.  So, it is time today for the Jews to surprise the world, and to say, in his words, “no, you cannot steal our land”.

Let’s be clear about the land in question.  Israel has every right to each and every inch of that land, by historical and legal right.  It is outrageous that the world today should declare once again its position that Jews have no place in their ancestral homeland, and should essentially say, “get out.”

Israel was attacked in 1967 and 1973, defended itself, and in the process was able to reclaim land that was wrongfully taken from it:  Judea, Samaria and part ofJerusalem.  Jordan controlled that land for years, although only two countries in the world had recognized their claim to it.  In 1988. 10 years after Israel made a great sacrifice for peace by giving back nearly 50 percent of its land, Sinai, to Egypt, and in the midst of the first intifada by Arafat, the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies issued a landmark report, “Israel’s Options for Peace”.  Six options were given after much study, with a seventh recommendation forming the basis for the two-state solution.

The Jaffee Center Report called for defensible borders for Israel, and security arrangements, never calling for the return of all the land.  It was the expectation thatIsrael would retain control of the Jordan Valley, and that Jews would remain in Judea and Samaria after the Palestinian state was established side-by-side withIsrael.  There would be demilitarization of the land, early warning and air-defense systems, a significant transition period for testing before any sovereignty was given up, and peace treaties in the works with other Arab countries..  It was never intended, nor even contemplated, that Jews would entirely leave the land as part of the peace, for that’s no peace at all.

Today, from the history of negotiations and current statements in the media, thinking exists that Israel should return to the 1967 land status, trade parts of its land if it wants to remain in any part of Judea and Samaria, force all Jews to remove themselves and their communities of generations, as well as IDF forces and outposts, even early-warning stations, and then have on the table discussion of the status of Jerusalem, and have the Temple Mount remain off-limit to Jews.  And of course, there’s the issue of refugees.

This is insanity at best, and relative suicide at worst.  Changes since 1988 include the total withdrawal from Gush-Katif; the establishment of a Hamas-led Gaza with no Israeli controls; a Hezbullah power-center in Lebanon; turmoil and danger in Syria;  Egypt continuing in a revolutionary swirl; and an enemy in Iran with its stated policy of eradicating Israel, and thousands upon thousands of missiles targeted for Israel, with the future potential of nuclear and chemical warheads.

So, when powerful people in the world see fit to cast their design on the future of the Jewish people, we have to say to them, “No, you cannot tell my people to give up our ancestral homeland that Israel reclaimed in wars defending their land, and that is my history and my legacy, and now guards the security perimeters required potentially for Israel’s future existence.”    Whether the recent policy decisions on Iran prove right or wrong, we’ll see in the future.  What is now more eminently clear is that the case for remaining in Judea and Samaria became much stronger.

Forge ahead, the world Jewish community must, for this is the historic land of the entire Jewish community.  So, we say to Israel, which is our front-line there, build communities today, and continue to rediscover our ancient communities lost for thousands of years.  That must be the plan.  I have called for annexation of Judea and Samaria for years, and once again call on the Knesset and Prime Minister to make that choice.  Do it in 2014, for Israel and for all the Jewish people in Diaspora.

The Palestinian Arabs can choose to remain in Judea and Samaria, a choice the Jewish people would not have if that land ever became a Palestinian state.  The fact is that Jews and Arabs live together on that land today, and their economy is doing well, and the fact is they are living mostly at peace and mostly well.  Yes, there are limitations today, and in a new situation of peace without leadership impediments, the future can be bright for all peoples on that land.  So, forge ahead, Israel, and we will be with you.

Once again citing the words of Nelson Mandela from the four walls of his cell, as taken from President Obama’s eulogy, “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll;  I am the master of my fate,  I am the captain of my soul!”

No, world, you cannot tell my People what to do with our land.  The Jewish people’s  history and future are in Judea and Samaria.  It is time to take a stand for our claim, our right and our legacy, and it is time to do so now.

Published in the Long Island Jewish World/ Manhattan Sentinel, January 10-16. 2014

What is the Levy Report?

In January, 2012, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed a committee to examine the status of Israeli building in Judea and Samaria. Edmund Levy, former Justice and Vice President of the Supreme Court, headed the committee; its other members were Alan Baker, ambassador and international lawyer, and Tehiya Shapira, retired Tel Aviv District Court judge. Their report, “The Status of Building in Judea and Samaria” was released on July 8, 2012.

The committee concluded that, based on international law, because of both historical and legal factors, Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is not an “occupation” or “illegitimate,” and that Israel has the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria.

The report recommended that all scheduled demolitions be halted and guidelines be put in place so that communities in Judea and Samaria should be allowed to continue to build and grow.

The report was met with much media attention. Many politicians hailed the report and called for its implementation, but because of political pressure from the United States, it was quickly shelved and never brought before any ministerial committee.

Just as quickly as it appeared, it was gone.

Why is it so important?

The report is of critical importance, now more than ever.

At a time when the international community is once again screaming at Israel to stop the “illegitimate” building in the “Occupied West Bank,” Israel must respond. “It is legal!” We must be able to state that a government-appointed committee, led by the former Vice President of the Supreme Court, concluded that there is no occupation, and that we have legal grounds to live and build in Judea and Samaria.

A recent survey has shown that close to two thirds of Israeli Jews are unaware of Israel’s legal claims to the West Bank, or they believe it to be illegal under international law. That same survey showed that up to half of those would reconsider the eviction of settlements if they believed that they were legal under international law. We must educate the Israeli public about the report, which concludes that our presence in Judah and Samaria is legal.

At a time when Israel is once again at the negotiation table, we must change the perception that the pre-1967 borders are the starting point of any negotiations. The attitude must be that Israel has legal claims to Judea and Samaria, and that anything it relinquishes, it does as the legal owner and not as one returning something stolen.

The 350,000 Jews living in Judea and Samaria live without basic civil rights. A growing family cannot add a simple extension to their home. At any moment, an order can be issued for their houses to be demolished. We must implement the recommendations of the Levy report which set in place a process for building and growth in Judea and Samaria and remove the threat of eviction from dozens of communities.

Join our campaign to raise awareness of Israel’s legal rights to Judea and Samaria, and to implement the Levy Report’s recommendations.

See a summary of the legal arguments of the report, as well as its conclusions in English here http://bit.ly/1gaZIxi.

Washington’s arm twisting campaign

We have already lost count of the number of times that US Secretary of State John Kerry has visited Israel over the past few months. Is it ten or eleven times? Israeli patriots resent the intensive American pressure coming from the Obama administration to force Israel into yet another agreement with the PLO. Twenty years into the failed Oslo Accords, the dreamy ideologues still refuse to face the facts and acknowledge that this course for “peace” was built entirely on false assumptions.

The PLO leadership makes no effort to hide the fact that they refuse to recognize any right of the Jewish people to a state of their own. Actually, they don’t even acknowledge the Jews as a people at all, but rather as a religion that does not require a state – and surely not on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, in any case.

Kerry’s stated goal for this shuttle diplomacy is to see a final agreement between Israel and the PLO within months, but calling his conduct “diplomacy” is questionable; it is really more like an arm twisting campaign.

“The US’ careless policies in other MENA situations over the past two years should raise major concerns”The question that all local players should be asking is: “On what basis does the US administration flash around their ‘wisdom’ on how things should be done in this region?” If you examine the seemingly endless list of American fiascoes in MENA, Bengazi, Egypt and Syria, not to mention Iraq and Afghanistan, you will notice that US policy hasn’t recently provided any positive accomplishments to point to or uphold as winning concepts to copy.

America’s strongest argument is “Well, we have a lot of money to flash around…” But is that still really the case? With the USA now in debt 17 trillion dollars to China and still counting, maybe the time has come for MENA countries to start to face east and ignore the obnoxious pressure from the western countries that can hardly pay their own bills.

Secretary Kerry’s arrogance and unconcern for the people who live here has been exposed in new dimensions, as reported by Maariv’s Shalom Yerushalmi. He shares his personal experience of being one of hundreds of Jerusalem drivers forced to wait in their cars at police roadblocks set up in Jerusalem to provide clear passage for Kerry on his return from Ramallah to Jerusalem in the first hours of the worst snow storm to hit this region in the past one hundred and fifty years.

Ultimately, the heavy snow locked many cars on the highway and made it impossible for the city’s limited snow plows to access and clear the roads. These cars lay stuck in the middle of the road until after the snow storm on Sunday, four days later. Drivers had no choice but to abandon their cars and attempt to reach their homes by other means.

Kerry’s insistence on coming here uninvited again and again, with no regard for the discomfort that this causes to the local population is a microcosm of the current US administration’s disregard for the well-being of our local population. In addition, the US’ careless policies in other MENA situations over the past two years should raise major concerns for our regional leaders, whom the Americans are trying to push around.

Published on YourMiddleEast.com

On European Council resolution on “Children’s Right to Physical Integrity.”

In October of this year, the European Council passed a resolution entitled “Children’s Right to Physical Integrity.” This effort –  spearheaded by German MP Marlene Rupprecht – is said to protect children from physical violence. In this case, the physical violence the committee is addressing is not war, famine, racism or even sexual abuse. But now, their focus is on acts carried out by the children’s parents, for their own well-being, according to the parents’ understanding.

The listing of “circumcision of young boys” as one the types of violence that concerns the committee has caused major concern in the Jewish world. Rabbis, community activists and even representatives from Israel’s Knesset and government have voiced dismay at the EU resolution. Though led by a German MP, it passed by a very large majority in the council’s vote.

Only a handful of members of the council voted against the resolution – mostly representatives from Muslim countries like Turkey and Azerbaijan. Although circumcision is a very sensitive issue for Jews and almost all Jewish men are circumcised, Jews make up only a very small percentage of all the circumcised men in the world. According to the World Health Organization, about 30% of the men in the world are circumcised. Jewish men make up less than 1% of the total 661 million, while Muslims account for about 70%.

To give you a perspective on the other types of bodily mutilation that Rupprecht’s report is including with circumcision for religious reasons, the list also includes female genital mutilation and early childhood medical interventions in the case of intersex children. The list also addresses the subjection to or coercion of children in the categories of piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.

Circumcision is a very sensitive issue in the Jewish community – largely because it is an important mitzvah – a commandment of the Torah, which goes all the way back to Abraham, the father of our nation, who circumcised himself and his sons as a sign of his covenant with God. However, there are further implications involved. Banning the practice of circumcision has historically been a tactic employed to oppress Jews throughout the ages. The Greeks, Stalinists and Nazis all took turns passing laws outlawing circumcision. From those dark periods of Jewish history, we are taught the tales of acts of bravery by Jews who risked their well-being and everything else just to carry out the obligations of our faith.

So in this age of liberalism, Jews are shocked to again be confronted with open efforts to ban circumcision in a central democratic body of western civilization. What is behind the efforts of Ms. Rupprecht? Is there an xenophobic agenda hiding behind her words of concern for the welfare of children? Is this a new way for European law makers to say “Jews are not welcome in these parts – change your customs or leave”?

Ultimately, that would be the result of a ban on circumcision for Jewish boys. Alternatives could include underground ceremonies, which would be counter-productive if the original goal was to provide more of a safe atmosphere for the children involved.

Some have suggested that Israeli embassies provide sanctuary for local Jews to have their Brit Milah ceremonies and so to bypass local laws restricting circumcision. But would that set a precedent for other countries to allow their unusual norms into the west? Say, if Saudi Arabia were to copy the concept and provide their embassies as bases for marrying off young girls?

I would be glad to hear back from readers with thoughts on this issue and suggested solutions for this crisis.

Published on Times of Israel, Dec. 15, 2013

Israeli Message to the UN General Assembly

The Speech I Would Like to Hear as Binyamin Netanyahu Addresses the United Nations General Assembly.

Leaders of the nations of the world, I address you today in New York just days after the Jewish people commemorated 5774 years since God’s creation of this world. The nation of Israel has a long and rich history. Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, our fathers, walked the land of Israel and heard the divine promise that this land would be the inheritance of their sons forever. Our mighty kings David and Solomon ruled over the land with the wisdom of the Torah as their guide. Our great Temple stood as the central focus of Jerusalem and was the place where the entire nation of Israel would gather three times each year for the festivals of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot.

Nearly 2000 years ago, our country was overrun by Roman imperialism when the conquering Romans, out of hate and envy, destroyed our Temple and holy capital city of Jerusalem and banished our fathers from the land.

The Jewish people spread to the four corners of the globe, where they have been hosted by almost each and every one of the lands represented here. Often, that hospitality was not kind, and at times it became outright oppressive. Living or dying with inquisitions and pogroms became part of the stateless reality for the Jewish people. But we never gave up hope for a return to our homeland. From those same four corners of the earth, Jews have faced Jerusalem three times daily to pray that HaShem, the God of Israel, would have mercy on His nation and gather us back to our homeland. Over the past hundred years, the world has witnessed a unique and amazing phenomenon – the gathering of a nation and its re-establishment as a country and culture in its historic homeland. Against all odds, the nation of Israel was reborn. Our prayers have been answered; a Jewish flag flies over a Jewish parliament in the Jewish capital, protected by a Jewish army.

I am aware that there are some people who are not happy about Israel existing as a Jewish state in the historic homeland of the Jews. To those, all I can say is “too bad, I realize that you can’t make everyone happy.” Our response to that will be to continue to do the best we can in all fields. There is much benefit that the international community could derive by learning from Israel. Due to our poor relationships with our neighbor states, we have had no choice but to be outstanding in developing defense systems, but we also excel in high tech and medicine. Although we are a tiny country, we make an effort to provide medical assistance to other peoples in need and are quick to offer emergency relief at times of crisis. In spite of the above-mentioned strained relations with our neighbors, many, many Arabs have still received first rate medical care in Israeli hospitals. These include hundreds of Syrian civilians hurt in the ongoing civil war there, as well as many thousands of Palestinians from Gaza, Judea and Samaria.

By the way, I must express my great gratitude to HaShem, the God of Israel, who has given us the ability to again be an independent nation standing on our own ground. In 1967, the heartland, Judea and Samaria – with Jerusalem in its center – again came under Israeli rule. So it shall be: Israel will never leave those lands again. Judea and Samaria will always be a part of the State of Israel on the same standing with the Galil and Negev. Jerusalem is our capital – the center of our nation.

We extend a hand in peace to our neighbors. Normal relations would benefit all sides. We would be glad to use our technology for the benefit of the entire region. Israel is a world leader in recycling water. In agriculture, we are currently using 70% water that has been purified and re-used for irrigation. In a dry desert region with water resources becoming scarce, it is a shame not to be able to share the wisdom that we have gained from experience.

But on the other hand, I must point out to those who breathe hate and speak of annihilating the Jewish state and hurting our people wherever they might be, that Israel has a very long arm and a finger that is always on the trigger. The Torah teaches us that if one rises to kill you, you should kill him first. If pressed against the wall, you know that we will always shoot first and ask questions later.

To this gathering, the UNGA, I must be frank: you have failed too many times in your mission to protect those in need. Your impotence in the Syrian situation is embarrassing. Still, as in years past, you tend to focus too much of your effort on criticizing Israel. I am sorry to have to say this to your faces, but there is an abundance of hypocrisy in this organization. Human rights in many of your countries are lacking. Clean up your own ship before you send mock flotillas to the people of Gaza. With all your talk of Israeli oppression of Palestinians, you fail to explain how the Palestinians under Israeli control have a longer life expectancy than citizens of many Arab countries. For 70 years, you have cultivated the myth of millions of Palestinian refugees, while you ignore one million Jews who were expelled from Arab lands in the first decade of Israel’s existence. Israel absorbed the Jewish refugees with no help from the Arab world, who ran them out and exploited the properties and wealth they left behind. The Arab world must recognize and allow those who have lived in their countries – and surely those who were born in them – to integrate and become citizens of those countries.

As I now return to my home, I call on all international leaders to come meet me in Israel and to establish proper diplomatic relations – starting with maintaining your country’s embassy in our capital – Jerusalem.

Obama is welcome, but he won’t change anything

American President Barack Obama will be making his premiere visit to Israel next week. This will be the first time that he has visited here since he was first elected, over four years ago. The teams in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office and other administrative branches of government here are working very hard to ensure a pleasant stay for Mr. Obama. In the news, we read that he will have dinner with Israel’s new beauty queen, Yityish Titi Aynaw, a young lady who was born in Ethiopia and emigrated to Israel as a child.

We are not sure, however, if he will visit Israel’s most holy place, the Temple Mount, since the Islamic Hamas organization has issued a severe warning that a visit there would be “a diplomatic catastrophe.”

According to some reports, the American president plans to insult Israel’s academic community by excluding students of Ariel University from his address to Israeli university students. I had actually suggested that the president take a tour of Shomron to see the Barkan Industrial Park, the university and our organic farms and wineries. It’s a shame that he will be missing out on this tour.

I won’t be here during his visit, as I will be leading a delegation to the EU parliament in Brussels. Our group, headed by Shomron Regional Director Gershon Mesika, will be meeting members of the European Union Parliament to defend the products manufactured in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), in light of the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton’s statements calling for labelling and boycotting products from Judea and Samaria.

Many international officials are not aware of the benefits produced by the Jewish communities for both Jews and Arabs in this region the development and workplaces that they provide. We who live here are convinced that if the public and policy-makers had a more even picture of the reality on the ground, their opinions on the future of this area might be very different.

If President Obama and Catherine Ashton really care about the people who live here, they should be encouraging the expansion of Jewish communities (settlements) and support investment in projects that would bring more workplaces to the region.

Many have asked me if I expect President Obama’s visit to be a “game changer” on the peace process in the region, and if he will revive the Two State program. In truth, I think that Obama will have a nice visit in Israel. Then he will go home and life here will continue as it was before. People here are tired of arrogant western politicians who think that they know better than we do, how we can best get along with each other.

The Two State idea that the West has been pushing on us has proven, over the past 20 years, to be a total failure, as was the entire Oslo process. The plan of bringing in the PLO from Tunis to take control of the local Arab population in Judea and Samaria has brought only tragedy. The international community has funnelled in billions and billions of dollars, meant to assist the Palestinians in developing an economy that can provide for its residents. The donor states know that their money have been embezzled by the PLO leadership, but they continue to refuse to open their eyes and acknowledge that the Two State program is actually the biggest obstacle to peace.

I doubt that Obama is really interested in learning about the real problems of this area, nor do I expect that he has much to offer here. His visit will be short; he will be treated well and receive some media coverage. But he will go home and is primarily expected to find solutions to America’s problems. I wish him luck.

Published on YourMiddleEast.com April 2013

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