January 26, 2006

On Jewish Access to the Temple Mount

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:44 am by yisraelmedad

Barak Under Pressure to Increase Jewish Access to Temple Mount
By Patrick Goodenough
CNS Jerusalem Bureau Chief
10 August, 1999

Jerusalem (CNS) – An Israeli organization which has been pushing for 30 years for Jewish access to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount urged Prime Minister Ehud Barak Tuesday to use the opportunity provided by illegal Palestinian construction work in the area, and change the prevailing status quo at the site.

Yisrael Medad, who heads the lobby called “To the Mount of the Lord,” told CNSNews.com the group wanted Barak to permit Jews to enter the Temple Mount compound to pray.

He was speaking hours after Israeli police moved swiftly to reseal an entrance which the Islamic authority (the Waqf) opened in the ancient southern wall to the compound, in contravention of the law and the sensitive religious status quo.

The Israeli cabinet announced in a statement that Barak had “said this is the sort of suitable response we will take wherever people will violate the law and try to establish facts on the ground.”

The action came after the Waqf ignored warnings by security officials not to go ahead with the plan to break open the entrance.

Since Israel captured the area from the Jordanians in 1967, it has permitted continued Muslim administration over the Mount, location of two mosques, one of them – Al Aqsa – considered the third holiest in Islam.

The decision was intended as a gesture to the Muslim world, which is particularly sensitive to the fact the mosques fall under Israeli sovereignty. At the same time, many observant Jews are pained that the location of the ancient Temple, their most sacred site, is under the control of a Muslim body that denies Jews access for prayer.

The police action overnight to close the new entrance was taken after long consultations between Barak and security officials, who weighed up the possibility Palestinian violence may erupt as a result. Police presence in the area was stepped up.

The PLO-appointed head of the Waqf, Mufti Ikrama Sabri, called the police operation “a flagrant aggression on the Islamic holy sites.”

Medad said the status quo on the Temple Mount was not being scrupulously maintained, and argued that it should be amended.

“The status quo is a fiction. In recent years, two new underground prayer halls have been opened [by the Muslims]. The renovation works have damaged historical finds from the Jewish period and we assume that this is being done purposely.”

He said Barak could have “turned the tables” on the Waqf by announcing that a new entrance would be built to enable Jews to access the Mount, and designating an area on the platform – “away from the Muslim buildings” and approved by rabbis – which could be used as a synagogue.

Medad stressed that his group, which was formed in 1971, promoted its cause “in the political and legal realm,” unlike other Jewish organizations which have used more virulent forms of protest.

He said “To the Mount of the Lord” has been critical over the years of Israeli governments which had “turned a blind eye” to Muslim activities on the Mount in violation of the status quo.

In September 1996, riots erupted after the Netanyahu government opened an exit to an ancient archeological tunnel running parallel to, but outside of, the Temple Mount compound.

Sixty Arabs and 15 Israelis died during clashes which occurred after Palestinian political and religious leaders accused Israel of desecrating Muslim holy sites.

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Too Big for Here But Link Over

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:41 am by yisraelmedad

 

Jerusalems Temple Mount: A Jewish-Muslim Flashpoint

http://www.acpr.org.il/english-nativ/06-issue/medad-6.htm

Battle of the Bulge on the Temple Mount

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:34 am by yisraelmedad

Israel is caught up in its own historic “Battle of the Bulge.” Some seven years in the making, the outer retaining walls of the Temple Mount, also the location of an Islamic holy site, have begun to bubble outwards. There is an extensive bulge in its southern wall and now another bulge has been located on its western wall, just south and to the right of the Western Wall Plaza. This battle’s resolution need not involve the military but given the determination of the Waqf religious trust institutions and the flabbiness of the thinking and reactions of Israel’s political echelons, an avoidance of further bloodshed would seem nigh impossible — even with the recent involvement of “impartial” Jordanian engineers. The oncoming Ramadan, which will see hundreds of Muslim worshippers atop the Temple Mount, may the precipatory factor.

As is usual with failures of colossal proportions, this matter really began a long time ago. A centuries-old prohibition on entrance to the Temple Mount precincts by rabbinical authorities, despite the permissive leniency of Maimonides and other great luminaries, left the Jews to wail in a small courtyard until the Jordanian conquest and illegal occupation of eastern Jerusalem in 1948. During the British Mandate days, it was through the Temple Mount gates that murderous rioters broke out, following religious incitement by the Grand Mufti. Two weeks after Israel’s retaking of the city in June 1967, Moshe Dayan, who had a reputation for archeological purloining, granted Muslims the internal administration of the site. This act doomed all Jewish remains — historical, religious or cultural — to systematic destruction, elimination or just plain being covered over by tree-plantings, parks or new floor tiles.

During 1995, Shimon Peres, then foreign minister, presumed that he had reached an understanding with Muslims — Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli — who wanted to effect changes in the Mount’s structure. Israel had scrupulously adhered to a status quo, even banning any overt expression of Jewishness at the place including prayer, lectures and Jewish fashion extremes, such as tzitzit fringes hanging outside one’s trousers. Peres mistakenly assumed that if he allowed Muslims to construct a huge underground mosque to hold 5,000 kneeling worshipers, he would be able, in a quid pro quo, to open the exit to the ancient Hasmonean Tunnel. He informed Benjamin Netanyahu of the understanding when the Likud leader was elected prime minister in 1996.

In September 1996, Netanyahu and Jerusalem’s mayor, Ehud Olmert, opened the exit-way and the Arabs promptly opened fire with rifles they were permitted to carry under the Oslo accords. Then Netanyahu allowed the construction of yet another prayer hall, to the east of the new El-Marwani.

It was in August 1999, when the Waqf broke through an exit in the southern wall, that then-prime minister Ehud Barak finally reacted forcefully and had it sealed up within a day. Yasser Arafat, convinced that he would not be able to achieve a peace agreement with Barak at Camp David if he did not reach a compromise over the Temple Mount, reacted by deciding to go to war.

Exploiting a visit by then-Knesset member Ariel Sharon to the compound, a visit coordinated with chief Palestinian Authority officials and Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, Arafat staged riots that escalated the violence already activated by the P.A. — two days earlier, an Israeli soldier was killed by a bomb in Gaza. Two years later, Israel has held almost 700 funerals.

The Temple Mount was selected by Arafat and his Grand Mufti, Sheik Ikrema Sabri, as a prime target in achieving the goal of resurgent Palestine. Working together with the extremist Islamic Movement in Israel, the Mount was raped and disemboweled, the likes of which have not been witnessed since Titus’s troops overran the courtyards 19 centuries ago. What the Taliban did in Afghanistan to two Buddha statues was worthy of news interest and international condemnation, but not the damage committed in Jerusalem.

Nevertheless, Israel’s battle of the bulge is one of its own making. On the one hand, Israeli officialdom has turned a blind eye to the removal of tons of earth, which has dislodged a delicate structural balance at a place where reinforced steel cement was unknown for two millennia and more. Herod was famous and his engineers were excellent, but the bringing in of tractors to bring out soil and disturb columns that hold up the artificial floor at its southern end was an error. Israel, on the other hand, has consistently refused to acknowledge any overt Jewish or Israeli identification with the site. The Religious Affairs Ministry does not supervise, the Antiquities Authority does not oversee and the police restrict themselves to incidents of stones raining down on Jewish worshippers.

At the risk of being an amateur political psychoanalyst, I would suggest that Israel suffers from extreme identity inferiority vis a vis the Temple Mount. Dayan, in the original act of surrender, sought to avoid turning the Arab-Israel conflict into a religious war. But it always was a conflict with a strong religious underpinning. The Jews simply assumed that the Arabs would do as we do; would be as secular as we could; would act as rational as we would. And so, the Chief Rabbinate continued to ban entrance even though the Halacha permitted entrance, at least to certain sections of the Mount. The Supreme Court provided legal justification for the trampling of Jewish civil rights. The police blamed Jews for disturbances of the peace. The media labelled any Temple Mount activist a fanatic.

But the bulge, the physical one threatening to bring down a portion of the Temple Mount and the intangible one that sought to avoid complications by ignoring the site’s crucial link between past and future, will just not go away. Israel is being forced, once again by the Arabs, to confront the reality of what the Jewishness of Israel is and should be.

 

November 1, 2002

January 23, 2006

The PC in the Air

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:36 pm by yisraelmedad

Benny Morris, responding to criticism of remarks he published in the name of Ehud Barak regarding a “culture of lying” in among Palestinian leaders, unabashedly stated “I praise him for his frank and courageous remarks, and it’s too bad that there aren’t many politicians who are prepared to throw down the gauntlet to the dictates of the politically correct and tell the truth like he does.”

Israel’s Hasbara efforts, at all times, has been hamstrung by many factors.  Recent articles on these pages have pointed out some of them.  They include the intolerable level of English of Israel’s representatives, the push-me-pull-you unity government situation, the intensive efforts by Israel’s radical and, at times, anti-Zionist Jewish groups, the lack of women whose faces would grace any camera lens and the unwillingness to graphically illustrate what the Arabs are doing to us.  I wish to  point out some others.

Israel’s officialdom cannot tolerate or even work in coordination with volunteer private initiatives.  Israeli officialdom not only suffers the normal quirks of any bureaucracy but worse, actively seeks to offset or interfere with any other player in the field.  Has anybody heard recently of Minister Tzippi Livni who was slated to be engaged in Hasbara work in the Prime Minister’s office?  Where is she and where is the PM’s Hasbara?

When campus activists are beleaguered, are they sent young, or youngish-looking, speakers who talk in a language collegiates understand and comprehend?  Do the persons that provide them with up-dates and reports do so with enthusiasm and commitment or do they make a presentation that is perfunctory, as part of their job, and after-hours at that?

But Hasbara isn’t only style; it is content.  Israel and its spokespersons have handicapped themselves by refusing to take on the weakest chink in the Arab armor: its mendacity, its corruption and its cultural-religious perversion.  Alarmed that Israel would be blamed for ‘below-the-belt’ racism, Israel has allowed the explosives-belted enemy to literally get away with murder.

For years, several groups (the factionalisation of Jewish organizational life is a theme beyond the scope of this article, to my regret) have been pinpointing the downright anti-semitism in the Arab world and its regional Palestinian offshoot.  Aryeh Stav of NATIV, Itamar Marcus of PMW and Yigal Carmon of MEMRI have been targetting the anti-democratic and intoleration that is the Arab political reality, but for too long they were on the fringes.  To an extent, they still are working off the mainstream.

Another message shunned, one that I promoted recently on a CNN half-hour discussion, is the morality of the disbandment of Jewish communities throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza and the uprooting of one-quarter of a million Jews from their homes.  If peace is contingent upon such a population evacuation, why cannot the mirror-image be raised in polite company?  If “Palestine” must be emptied of its Jews, should then not the Arabs of Israel be faced with the eventuality of moving, on masse, to that future state of Palestine.  If we are going to clean the decks, then let it be done thoroughly.

Such an issue, admittedly, is anathema for official Israeli Hasbara.  But logic dictates that Arab claims, no matter how ridiculous and how dangerous, must be challenged on the moral and even irrational level they are proposed.  Hanan Ashrawi can talk all she wants about occupation but no one would accuse Arafat and Company of pursuing an occupational policy themselves until Michael Freund did so on these pages.  I myself have heard over the years Israeli officials remarking that “we don’t do things like that”.

The time and the circumstances have changed.  The threat of Arab violence obliges the Hasbara operations to change gears and accelerate in the direction and in the methods that achieve a decisive rollback.  There are people that can do the job and if a “reserves call-up” is to be instituted, that too should be done.

The Phenomenon of “Formerly”

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:35 pm by yisraelmedad

Asking my sister at which hotel she and her family were staying on a recent visit she made to Jerusalem, I found myself nonplussed. She said she was at the Inbal and, for a moment, I couldn’t recall if that was an old or new hotel.

At the beginning of the summer, thanks to the fact that my wife Batya is on the teaching staff of the Binyamin Yeshiva High School at Bet El (even though she has suffered periodic extra-curricular activities such as ducking bullets there and on the way), I was able to spend an enjoyable Shabbat at a really new hotel, the Olive Tree (in the new hotel compound across from Meah She’arim that was recently stoned by protestors following the closure of the Orient House – itself a former hotel). But the Inbal? And then it came to me that this was the former Laromme.

Being a bit impish by nature, I then treated my sister Dina to a list of other “formers”: the Dan Panorama is the former Moriah; the Jerusalem Renaissance is the former Ramada Renaissance; the David Citadel is the former Hilton and the Crown Plaza also is the former Hilton. I could go on but I presume the point is understood. Not that hotels change owners but that to be a credible Jerusalemite, one has to know what former status a building or location possesses if one is to be considered truly knowledgeable and genuine.

The ability of knowing the “former” also comes in handy when tracing geneology. Moshe Sharret was formerly Shertok and David Ben-Gurion was formerly a Green. Benjamin Netanyahu’s grandfather was formerly Milokowsky but there is no familial, nor ideological, connection with Ronni Milo also formerly Milokowsky. Ariel Sharon was formerly Scheinerman but Menachem Begin was always Begin although in the Irgun underground years, he carried documents which identified him either as Hans Klinghoffer and Israel Sassover. As for myself, my surname, Medad, was formerly Winkelman and we needn’t repeat the joke about how the Yiddish-speaking Sean Fergeusson came by his name.

I live in Shiloh which the Arabs call Seilun. But Seilun itself, as are many Arab place names, simply preserved the former name of Shiloh. Nablus, an Arabic linguistic corruption of Neapolis, was formerly Shchem. Returning to Jerusalem, Peace Now has campaigned to remove Jews from Ras El-Amoud which the Jewish residents currently call Maaleh Har HaZeitim but which was formerly just plain Jerusalem. Gush Shalom wants all the Jews out of what the Arabs term El-Chalil but what most everyone else knows was formerly Hebron. No one on the Zionist Left is as yet demanding that the Tel Aviv University, the former Arab village of Sheikh Munis, be returned.

The Arabs and their global supporters want Israel to remove itself from the West Bank which was formerly, in official British, American and United Nations maps and correspondence, Judea and Samaria. Moreover, they want to create another Arab state to be called Palestine which also was formerly Judea and Samaria (as even the Christian New Testament makes clear in Mark 1:5 and Acts 8:1) until the conquering Romans came up with the original “make it a former” idea by calling the country first, provincia Judaea, and then dividing it into three units, on both sides of the Jordan River called Palestina Primo, Secundo and Tertio.

It was Ehud Barak who said, in response to the denial by Yasser Arafat that the Temple Mount ever existed on Mount Moriah, that when Jesus turned over the moneychangers’ tables on Mount Moriah, he wasn’t in a mosque but the Jewish Temple, and the Second one at that. It took the news agencies several months to note that the Haram E-Sharif was not “also known as the Temple Mount” but the reverse from a chronological perspective.

It would be my presumption then that with all our progress and development, one should never ignore nor seek to eradicate the “former”.

How ‘Public’ is the Public Broadcasting

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:34 pm by yisraelmedad

In December 1972, T. Clay Whitehead, then head of  White House Office of Telecommunications Policy, appeared before the Indianapolis chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.  Even against the backdrop of the tension between the anti-administration liberal media, the “eastern establishment elite”, and the Nixon Oval Office, Whitehead’s remarks are essential to any deliberation of the pervasive influence of the media.  Media managers and owners, Whitehead maintained, “cannot abdicate responsibility for news judgments…men also stress or suppress information in accordance with their beliefs.  Will…action [be taken] against this ideological plugola?”.

The tug-of-war between CBS, the Washington Post and the Nixon administration is a casebook chapter for any student of media relations with government and the role of a free press.  That battle, however, was fought between private and commercial media outlets in a country whose constitution prohibits the making of any law which abridges the freedom of the press.  Is there a comparable or different situation in Israel, where the electronic broadcasting media is, for all intents and purposes, public?

For example, few know that it was only last year that it became legal for any other radio station except Kol Yisrael and Galei Tzahal, the Army radio (Galatz), to broadcast news of national content rather than local news.  The over a dozen regional radio stations affiliated with the Second Radio and Television Authority (SRATA) were not allowed to broadcast news except relating to their particular area.  How does this reflect on Israel’s pluralistic and democratic character?

The monies for Kol Yisrael and Galatz come out of the pockets of the public, either through the Agra, the television and radio ownership tax (not a license fee as mistakenly thought), or directly from the Defense Ministry budget.  Thus, they are state-sponsored and publicly funded.  Are they, though, “public” in their programming scheduling, show content and adequate balance in their news commentary?  Or is the public supplied with a cultural agenda and news commentary bias from an entrenched media clique that, in the name of press freedom prefer to inculcate rather than perform in a professional ethical manner?  Where is the public in public broadcasting?

Israel’s Media Watch (IMW) reviewed the guest list of a popular radio interview program broadcast over Kol Yisrael.  Hosted by Dalia Ya’iri, the “Another Matter” show is heard five days each week between 8 and 10 AM on the Second Station bandwidth.  Sandwiched between the two hour morning news roundup and a second two hour news interview show hosted by Shelly Yechimovicz, Ya’iri’s program deals regurgitatively with issues that are repeated throughout the day by the Kol Yisrael news department.  IMW focused on the Syrian-Israel negotiations and the question of a possible withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

In the two-month period between December 9, 1999, the day following American President Clinton’s announcement that direct Syrian-Israel talks would reconvene and February 7, 2000, Ya’iri had invited 40 politicians and public figures to air their views on the issue.  Fully three-quarters of those privileged to let the Israeli public know what they thought happened to be persons who supported the Barak government line.  Only 27.5% of those offered an open mike held opinions in opposition to the government’s position.

In a further category, background commentators and experts, those who supposedly provide objective and academic analysis, of the 17 allowed to express their opinions, none could be overtly identified as opposing government policy.  They were either neutral or supported Barak’s moves.  Previous studies of IMW which monitored Ms. Ya’iri’s track record of guests in 1995 and 1998 indicate a constant and clear preference for persons who push left-wing viewpoints.  Beyond the scope of this article is her manner of interviewing and questioning those who are in opposition to her personal opinions.

This form of media presentation is not only an ethics problem, it is inimical to the very essence of a free press.  This is not a concern of fairness but of a situation in which a press corps, funded by the public and, as state employees, protected from normal hiring and firing practices in the private sector, presume to manipulate the equipment and status provided them to act in a biased manner. 

As US Supreme Court Justice William Black pronounced in the Pentagon Papers case in 1971, “the press [is] to serve the governed, not the governors…only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”.  When a media person exploits the editorial discretion allowed him or her to violate professional media ethics codes as well as the law, the public has a right and even duty to seek to protect and defend itself.  In Israel, that defense may even be a matter of survival.

MK Mickey Eitan Proposes a Law

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:33 pm by yisraelmedad

This past week, Likud MK Mickey Eitan tabled a bill of legislation that would place a period of “freeze” on the Attorney-General and the State’s Chief Prosecutor before they may be, if at all, appointed to the Supreme Court bench. The immediate persons affected by the bill, if it is adopted, would be, respectively, Elyakim Rubinstein and Edna Arbel.

If one is looking for a moment in history when this bill began to ferment in Eitan’s mind, one could possibly start with May 2, 1996. On that day, a meeting was convened in the Jerusalem. In attendance were Michael Ben-Yair, then Attorney-General and other senior Justice Ministry officials including Edna Arbel, the State’s Chief Prosecutor, Moshe Lador, Jerusalem District Attorney and his assistant, Liora Chavilio, Talia Sasson, head of the Special Section for Anti-Incitement and Noam Sohlberg, aide to the Attorney-General who later was appointed to the District Court in Jerusalem

In mid-October 1999, three and a half years later, Eitan attempted to quote from the minutes of that conference on a television talk show but was stymied. Elyakim Rubinstein declared the document classified and instructed the show’s producer that it was illegal to read from it. Later, he had a court gag-order issued. Journalist Yoav Yitzhak appealed this decision to the High Court of Justice and won. Justice Daliah Dorner termed the document “humiliating” but not of any security worth. Rubinstein wiped egg off his face and then the public was allowed to know what went on at the meeting.

The meeting’s agenda was what was to be done with the criminal complaint made by Israel’s Media Watch against TV’s Channel One reporter Eitan Oren charging him with being engaged in acts of deceit and violating public trust.

The complaint was made in response to Oren’s airing of a swearing-in ceremony which showed several youngsters, led by Avishai Raviv, swearing over the graves at Mt. Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem to kill non-Jews and even Jews to prevent the continuation of the Oslo process. The Shamgar Commission of Inquiry had sharply attacked the Raviv operation. Its report noted that the ceremony was a “staged play”. An open-minded reading of the document supports the claim that there was collusion between the Israel’s most senior judicial officials and GSS agents who also were present to subvert the due process of law and who strongly pressured Ben-Yair and Arbel not to press charges.

The minutes of their deliberations make any true democrat’s hair stand on end. Despite admissions by those present that the ceremony was not “authentic”, that it was “was staged”, and that the video contained “inauthentic portions”, no charge sheet was ever drawn up. Why?

The answer to that is in the fear of the three Shabak agents for they were there to protect themselves from the possibility of Avishai Raviv, their agent provocateur, from taking the witness stand. The file against Oren was indeed closed but Israel’s Media Watch was informed of this decision only in May 1999, three years later.

The document points to gross negligence by the Head of the GSS, Carmi Gillon and others, in running Raviv. Moreover, the deliberations show a crass callousness towards fundamental individual civil rights.

There seems to have been a conspiracy in that the GSS sought, through Raviv, to delegitimatize the nationalist and religious opposition to the Oslo process. Raviv ran wild and the media was more than happy to oblige and took him from the fringes and put him right up-front and center.

But those who participated in that meeting, including Arbel as well as Rubinstein who attempted an ex post facto cover-up, corrupted justice and undermined democracy. They subverted the rule of law.

Persons such as these do not belong in the black robes of Supreme Court Justices.

Jonathan Pollard is My Hero

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:31 pm by yisraelmedad

Earlier this month, a small get-together was held for the members of the Israeli intelligence operation in Egypt who were incarcerated there for 13 years. They obtained their release to Israel only following the Six Day War. The operation, actually quite unintelligible in hindsight, was dubbed the “Dirty Business” [and later, “the Lavon Affair”] when no one came forward to take responsibility at the time. Subsequently, the government fell. In the 1960s, when David Ben-Gurion reopened the investigation into the affair, it tore Mapai apart and led to recriminations that reverberate to this day.

At this month’s gathering, Meir Amit, former Mossad head, stated that the release of the Egyptian Jewish victims of a botched operation could have been effected sooner if not for “neglect and idleness.” His words are a woeful condemnation of the mindset and the insular thinking which marks the peculiar character of the average Israeli politician as well as our own special brand of civil servant.

Coincidentally, this month also marked a date linked with another Israeli security operation with unsympathetic parallels (not to mention a possible rerun of the political fall-out). On March 5,1986, Jonathan and Anne Pollard were sentenced to terms of life and five years imprisonment respectively, for their roles in providing Israel with highly sensitive American intelligence data relating to Arab military buildup. Many of the details have undergone purposeful misinterpretation, such as the impression that Ann Pollard was a spy – which she wasn’t.

Be this as it may, Jonathan is in his fourth year of solitary confinement. Ann is the sole female resident of the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota. She weights 89 pounds, down from 165, and an esteemed gastroentrologist of 30 years practice termed her condition behind bars as “lethal” and “malignant.” Her prison doctor has taken away all medication to prevent addiction. Magistrate Janice Symchych refused her a medical furlough to obtain private care.

Having been involved with the Pollards for some time, I think that Purim is a particularly poignant time to reconsider some aspects of their tribulations. In fact, I consider Jonathan Pollard my Purim hero.

In the Meggilah, Mordechai does not mince words in making it clear to Esther that her position as queen is not for her own personal convenience. Her silence in the face of a threat to the Jewish people will not only be unhelpful in the extreme but it will not aid her either: “Do not imagine that you will escape…for if you are quiet…you and your father’s house will perish.” (4:13-14)

Jonathan Pollard was not silent. Reviewing the material that passed through Naval Anti-Terrorist Intelligence, and knowing the less-than-enthusiastic appreciation some of his fellow workers had for Israel and Jews, he decided to do something. Rereading his letters and memoranda contained in the book, “Pollard: The Spy’s Story,” as well as the letters he sent me, it is obvious that for all his amateurish espionage habits, Jonathan Pollard is acutely aware of the historical dimensions of what it means to be a Jew.

Indeed, Jonathan is a “Prisoner of Zion” in the keenest ideological sense of the expression. Zion had made him its prisoner. The Zion of Jewish survival, the Zion of the centrality of Israel to Jewish existence, had placed upon his shoulders the awesome responsibility of circumventing laws to assure that chemical weaponry data, among other items of security intelligence withheld from Israel despite a signed American-Israeli agreement, would get to Israel.

Without the information supplied by Pollard, Israel would have been offset in the battle against the PLO – the same group Secretary of State James Baker is nudging us to negotiate with. It was Jonathan’s initiative, and he had no illusions as to the gravity of his actions.

However, now that he is a prisoner, Israel’s official policies seem so inadequate, so unconcentrated, that the Zion of Jonathan’s vision has become an active partner in keeping him a prisoner, rather than gaining his early release, and, at the very least, halt the terrible physical waste US prison and Justice Department officials are bringing down on his wife, Ann, which MK Rabbi Eliezer Waldman witnessed in his visit to her on March 9 in Rochester.

Indeed, Israel’s silence, despite its private humanitarian appeals on their behalf, is unworthy of Jonathan’s very public suffering. The rejection of his request for Israeli citizenship bordered on the callous.

An exegetic interpretation of another verse of the Meggilah may provide the direction for a reordering of priorities. Chapter Five opens with the words: “Esther donned royalty.” A jaded eye might have expected to read that Esther would prefer a ecdysiast duplication of Vashti to attract the king’s favor. My reading, though, is that the message is that it is useless to shed any outer layers or to bend the knee. To stand tall with all the Jewish finery one possesses – to don royalty – is the proper response.

Jonathan Pollard’s prison clothes as well as the bars on his cell and walls surrounding him are all external. Jonathan is garbed with an internal suit of belief, commitment and faith. His actions were a donning of royalty.

Will we in Israel, the cause of his privations and object of his sacrifice, learn to dress in the correct fashion?

Purim is not only a happy holiday but a heroic one as well. Simply put, Jonathan Pollard is our hero.

(published in The Jerusalem Post, March 1989, on Purim)

Pieces of Peace (II)

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:30 pm by yisraelmedad

Amram Mitzna, chairman of the Labor Party, has been quite forthright in his declarations of the policies he intends to pursue, if he becomes Prime Minister.  Those declarations have led to a meeting with American Ambassador Dan Kurtzer, an invitation to visit UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and his emissary, MK Yossi Katz, has already been to Cairo chatting up President Hosni Mubarak.

What is so attractive about Mitzna, it would seem, is his position that he will not necessarily refuse to relate to Yasser Arafat as a partner and will seek to negotiate a withdrawal from Gaza not much different than what was done in Southern Lebanon.  Moreover, if the Palestinian side is not interested in negotiating, never mind, he will be willing unilaterally to retreat.

With MKs Tzali Reshef and Yuli Tamir, former Peace Now activists,  backing him, Miztna is obviously the choice of the more leftist wing of the party.

On May 4, 1948, the President of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, Judah Magnes, despite his advanced sickness (he was to die later in September), was received by the Secretary of the United States having left Palestine some two weeks earlier.  Magnes was one of Zionism’s foremost peace promoters, a pacifist, a Reform Rabbi and a behind-the-scenes go-between with the Grand Mufti since 1929.  He had come with an idea how to stop the fighting that had broken out when Arabs attacked Jews on the morrow of the Partition Resolution one half year earlier.

Mitzna himself has adopted a Magnes-like approach to solving the situation. 

The minutes (published in Foreign Relations of the U.S., 1948, Vol. V, Part 2, 1976, 901-904) show to what extremes peace activists can and will go, and what dangers they trigger in their quest.  Magnes’ solution for ending the hostilities was incredibly simple: he proposed that America cut off the donations made by the Jewish community to the Zionist movement in Palestine.  The record shows him saying: “the Jewish community in Palestine is an artificial development…if contributions from the United States were cut off, the Jewish war machine in Palestine would come to a halt for lack of financial fuel”.  Not content with that plan, Magnes sought to make sure that this “artificial development” would remain so when he insisted that a trusteeship be instituted.

Still unsure how the U.S. would act, the minutes read: “as Dr. Magnes was leaving, he asked permission to direct a very blunt question: ‘do you think there is any chance to impose a solution on Palestine’?”.  The Secretary, George C. Marshall, replied: “imposition of a regime implied the use of force…I did not think it was wise for the U.S. alone to take the responsibility for military commitments in Palestine”.  Marshall, though, facilitated a meeting between Magnes and President Harry S. Truman the  very next day.

Over a half century has elapsed and not much has changed.  The Arabs are still engaged in terror and violence.  Their religious leaders are now promoting suicidal bombings.  Supplied by Israel, the European Union and the United States with money, advice, training and other wherewithals, the Palestinian Authority prepared for and is now waging a campaign of death against Jews, foreign workers, tourists and others.  This campaign includes the brainwashing of schoolchildren through a mobilized curriculum of hate and the propagandizing of the population through a harnessed media system and press.

To this end, Yassir Arafat and colleagues have subjugated the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, denied them democracy, embezzled the foreign contributions intended to improve their lives, abused their human rights, disallowed their civil liberties and refused all attempts to reform the corruption and lack of administrative transparency that set it.  No new “Palestine” was established but an old “Tunisia” was transferred to the shores of Gaza.

The essential venality of the entire enterprise has reached into Israel.  Soldiers and others addicted to drug have been selling weapons to Arabs, Israeli Arabs are participating in the terror, Arab MKs are serving foreign interests and subversively promoting the dismemberment of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and former security agents, such as Yossi Ginossar, have been skimming profits in the many millions of dollars.

Again, the picture is repeating itself.  Faced one hundred years ago with the possibility of economic, health and social advancement, Arab nationalists rejected Zionism.  Up until 1922, they did so in the name of Southern Syria aspirations and then, chancing on a better idea, they opposed the Jewish National Homeland with Palestine.  Political violence began in 1920.  In the following years, in addition to the hundreds of Jewish dead, hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of Arab dead were sacrificed.  And all through the Mandate years, Jewish peace activists and even peace militants, sought to serve the Arab cause in a messianic self-dellusionary vision which sought to weaken Zionism.  Their goals included renouncing the very idea of a state, halting Jewish immigration, removing Jewish ‘colonies’ (as the kibbutzim and moshavot were termed, prior to the current ‘settlements’), rewarding Arab violence and, as the Magnes example indicates, the disarming of the Jews.  Nothing, it seems, would serve as an obstacle in the path of their peace.

Why Arafat should even consider talking with Mitzna given the already-promised end result is beyond logic, it seems.  However, all this activity can be understood if one realizes that the supreme value that has mutated into the status of the most-revered goal is peace.  Not a Jewish state, not a secure state, not an economical viable state but peace.  If that is the measuring stick, then all becomes clear.

This clarity, however, is an apparition of the blind.  It is immoral.  The enthusiasm, the passion, the excitement of struggling for peace, for human rights, all lead to a very real possibility of existential danger for Israel and further death and injury to its citizens, its guests and, in the end, to the Jewish dispersion.  Theirs is a peace of broken pieces.

Palestinian D-Day

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:29 pm by yisraelmedad

The underlying premise of the Oslo Process sought to avoid the reality of Palestinian society in general and in particular, the exomorphic entity, to borrow a linguistic term, which is the Palestine Liberation Organization. In a spin-off from the developing “post Zionism” at that time, in research as well as political and cultural circles, it is no wonder that the advance team sent ahead by Yossi Beilin, himself operating as Shimon Peres’ scout, were two academics. It can be assumed that their scholarly approach lacked the perspective needed to deal with terrorists seeking their prey.

Reviewing the past nine years of “Oslo”, the conclusions are fairly simple. Yassir Arafat and his fellow negotiators, never intended to seek a compromise in any form, qualitative or quantitative. Their expectations were that all of the territories administered by Israel were to become a Palestinian state in toto. In fact, Peres, Beilin and Uri Savir (all three have yet to decide who among them was the true ‘hero’ of the Oslo negotiations), most probably knew that fact. That they have never apologized nor expressed any form of contrition for the way the Palestinians have reneged on the process is an indication that the were fully aware of what they were doing: creating a Palestinian state. They may have sought to disguise the outcome of the process but they knew from the outset that it was a straight line from “Gaza-Jericho First”to “And Last, Israel”.

Palestinian society, ever since the Mandate days, has proven incapable of defending itself from fanatic nationalists and extreme religious rabble-rousers.

Although their economic status has improved, their education level has increased and their ability to receive up-to-date and reliable communications is quite modernized, the behavior is unchanged. Just as they were manipulated and exploited by Haj Amin El-Husseini, just as they were convinced to support the gangs of Azi A-Din el-Kassam and Fauji Kawakji during the 1930s and just as they were active during the main fedayeen period of 1951-56, the Palestinian peasant and city-dweller has let himself be the fodder for irrational violence.

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