September 7, 2016

Those of faith; those of fate

Posted in Judea & Samaria, revenant, Yesha tagged , , , , , at 10:03 pm by yisraelmedad

Those of faith; those of fate
By YISRAEL MEDAD
09/07/2016
I am not an anthropologist but will admit that the sense of participating in a “rite of passage” was unmistakable in this and other marches toward a location to be redeemed and populated by Jews.
Forty years older, veterans of the campaign to establish a Jewish community in Samaria convened last week in a festive gathering to mark Kedumim’s success in receiving government permission to set up camp at the Kadum army base. Wisely, they chose a late summer day rather than the wintry, rainy days they camped out, on the eighth attempt, in December 1975 at Masudiah, the old Turkish railway station near the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Israel, now called Sebastia.

I was there just prior to Tisha Be’av 1974, when that site was first selected by Gush Emunim, mainly because it provided a natural “fort” for protection against the expected army and police evictions. We reached it by car and then on foot, avoiding roadblocks and being chased by security forces. It was the second attempt of the Elon Moreh resettlement group, which wanted a site as close to Nablus as possible. In fact, not too long after Kedumim was eventually set up, the group split, with about half going eastward of Nablus to the current location of Elon Moreh on Mount Kabir, near the original location they sought.

I am not an anthropologist but will admit that the sense of participating in a certain “rite of passage” was unmistakable in this and other marches toward a location to be redeemed and populated by Jews.

Living in Jerusalem’s Bayit Vegan neighborhood at the time, the word went out in synagogues, youth movement clubhouses and grocery stores to get ready. Almost as in a drill, those who mobilized prepared sleeping bags, a change of clothes, or at least underwear and socks, and some sandwiches. Good walking shoes were located deep in a closet and friends were contacted for rides. And then came the notice of the day, hour and destination.

Samaria was empty of Jews at that time. The family of Moshe Sharret had lived in the Arab village of Ein Sinya, north of Ramallah, but had left after two years. The ferocious Arab violence assured that the few Jews who had been living in Nablus could no longer do so. The JNF’s Yosef Weitz had purchased land around Tulkarm in the 1930s and 1940s and in the Jiftlik area in the Lower Jordan Valley. But it was in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, in the heart of Judea, that modern Zionist settlement efforts were directed in the Mandate days, and where a Hashomer Hatzair kibbutz, Revadim, was established on former lands of Nahlin village, in addition to the two moshavim north of the city, Atarot and Neveh Yaakov. All were overrun in the 1948 war the Arabs launched in their attempt to eradicate the nascent State of Israel, as were the Shimon Hatzaddik neighborhood near the American Colony Hotel and the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The post-1967 resettlement efforts of Judea, Samaria and Gaza were assisted by a major realigning of Zionism’s left-of-center camp and not solely due some sort of a religious messianic enthusiasm. The Land of Israel Movement founding members, who signed its manifesto, included two sons of Yitzhak Tabenkin, Rachel Yanait Ben-Tzvi, Antek Zuckerman and Eliezer Livneh as well as Natan Alterman, Haim Guri, Yehuda Burla and Haim Hazaz, all luminaries of Mapai, Kibbutz Meuchad and the Palmach. If there was an “intoxication of the senses,” as Gadi Yatziv phrased it, the attachment to the regions of the Jewish homeland that fell outside Israel’s reach in 1948 bestirred deep if inchoate feelings that the State of Israel and the land of Israel were to become one.

Kfar Etzion was reestablished in September 1967 and Kiryat Arba, on Hebron’s outskirts, was inaugurated after the Passover 1968 renting of a downtown hotel by rabbis Moshe Levinger and Eliezer Waldman. Two of their yeshiva students, Benny Katzover and Menachem Felix, launched the Elon Moreh nucleus already in 1973. The grassroots movement of Gush Emunim only appeared in early 1974, following the nadir of national sentiment in the wake of the Yom Kippur political debacle.

I watched as Yitzhak Rabin flew over our encampment at the Sebastia railway station and read in the next day’s press that he had muttered “porshim,” the derogatory term meaning “dissidents” applied by the official Yishuv leadership to the Irgun and Lehi underground fighters. But it was Shimon Peres – who described in his autobiography how he slept close by David Ben-Gurion, with his rifle under the cot to protect Israel’s first prime minister during the Altalena arms ship episode when Ben-Gurion sought to quash the dissident camp once and for all – who, as defense minister in 1975, arranged the Kedumim compromise which allowed for the Elon Moreh group to stay at Kadum.

From several hundred “beyond the Green Line” residents, the past four decades have resulted in 460,000 Jews living, planting, constructing and producing throughout Judea and Samaria, despite the withdrawal from Sinai and the disengagement from Gaza. Since the UN, US President Barack Obama and several others view Jerusalem’s post-67 neighborhoods as “settlements,” another 210,000 Jews need be added to the population demographic. That represents some 15 percent of the total population of the area known as the Palestinian Authority.

Indeed, four decades ago, the men and the women of faith altered Israel’s political, social and cultural landscape. In the wake of the December 8, 1975, compromise signed by Peres, they became the men and women of fate, of Zionism’s future.

For the 19 years between the War of Independence and the Six Day War, Jews could not live in the areas where Jewish nationalism was fostered. Israelis were prohibited from visiting the Western Wall, where previous generations of Jews prayed. The land was occupied, illegally, by Jordan, but no one was disturbed by a breach of the armistice agreements the United Nations oversaw between Israel and the Arabs states which sought to destroy it. Those were also 19 years of Fedayeen and then PLO terrorist attacks.

All that was swept away in 1967, and in its wake, those of faith, and not solely those who were religiously observant, rallied to assure the future fate of Israel, the state, the land and the people.

The author resides in Shiloh and is a pro-Land of Israel Jewish residency activist.

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August 30, 2009

The 9th of Av’s New Tears

Posted in Judea & Samaria tagged , , at 10:40 pm by yisraelmedad

The 9th of Av’s new tears

President Obama’s policies toward Israel add fresh pain to a day of lament.

July 30, 2009

An apocryphal story is told of Napoleon Bonaparte entering a darkened synagogue and observing weeping Jews, sitting on low stools. Asking what misfortune had occurred to cause such behavior, he was informed that it was the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av.

On that day, as Napoleon learned, Jews commemorate the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem and the fall of the Fortress of Betar. The day, marked with a 25-hour fast and a public reading of the book of Lamentations, signifies not only the loss of Judaism’s singular holy site but the end of independent political sovereignty and the eventual expulsion, a second time, into exile.

On hearing that story, Napoleon exclaimed: “A people that cries these past 2,000 years for their land and temple will surely be rewarded.”

Today, the 9th of Av, there are many new threats to Jerusalem, including the recent diplomatic dissing of Israel by the U.S. Fortunately, the words of President Obama and other U.S. officials have served to reinforce a consensus among Israelis that Jerusalem must remain exclusively under Israeli control and that even communities of Jews living outside the former Green Line, the armistice line drawn after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, must remain a part of Israel.

A liberal Washington think tank, the Center for American Progress, recently conducted a panel discussion based on the premise that the Old City of Jerusalem is the main impediment to solving the Israeli-Arab conflict. The group’s plan recommends that Israel and a future state of Palestine appoint a third-party administrator that would run and police the city. An audience member who asked why the status quo could not be retained was informed by a panelist that that “would be too intangible.”

We have to hope Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton knows better than to upset the status quo. As longtime diplomat Dennis Ross informed us in his book, “The Missing Peace,” the only new idea Yasser Arafat raised at Camp David in 2000 was that the temple didn’t exist in Jerusalem, claiming it had been located in Nablus. Her husband, then-President Clinton, was astonished at this. Instead of “Holocaust denial” we were given “temple denial.”

U.S. policy toward Jerusalem has long tended toward the “denial” side of the equation. If an American living in Jerusalem gives birth to a child in either West Jerusalem or post-1967 East Jerusalem, for example, her progeny is not recognized by the U.S. as being born in Israel. The birth certificate and passport will list only a city name — Jerusalem — as the place of birth.

This rule follows the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual, which notes: “For a person born in Jerusalem, write JERUSALEM as the place of birth in the passport. Do not write Israel, Jordan or West Bank …” The “logic” for this is that Israel is considered by the United States to be “occupying” territories — including Jerusalem — whose final status must be negotiated.

As State Department spokesman Ian Kelly admitted on June 22, before being reined in, the recent Obama administration fixation on a “settlement freeze” also targets neighborhoods in East Jerusalem whose Jewish population’s “natural growth” is to be halted.

And there is more State Department trickery. Births of children of American citizens in any of the Arab towns or Jewish communities outside of Jerusalem and beyond the Green Line will have their birthplace noted, as per the above-mentioned regulations, as the “West Bank.” Is the “West Bank” a state? Is the State Department engaged in creating new states?

This is an illogical and quite unreasonable bureaucratic situation. On the one hand, the State Department has fashioned a new “state” while, on the other, it is ignoring Israel’s status in its own capital.

The “West Bank” never existed as a geopolitical entity until April 1950, when Jordan annexed the area. That annexation, incidentally, was considered by all the world — except for Britain — as an illegal occupation. Yet the U.S. has established the “West Bank,” with the stroke of a pen, as if it were a state entity.

If the U.S. insists on using boundaries dating to 1948, shouldn’t it also use the place names in use at that time? “Judea” and “Samaria” were both names written into the U.N. partition resolution. A baby born to U.S. citizens in Shiloh, for example, should therefore be registered as having been born in “Shiloh, Samaria.”

Today is a day of lament for a long-ago event seared into the collective memory of Jews the world over. But the contemporary pressures the Obama administration has brought on Israel have created another lamentable situation between the two nations. This year, the ancient fast days will also provide an outlet for contemporary frustration over issues of sovereignty, political independence and security.

In Defense of ‘Settlements’

Posted in Judea & Samaria tagged , at 10:36 pm by yisraelmedad

Jews belong in Judea and Samaria as much as Palestinians who stayed in Israel.

June 28, 2009

No one, including a president of the United States of America, can presume to tell me, a Jew, that I cannot live in the area of my national homeland. That’s one of the main reasons my wife and I chose in 1981 to move to Shiloh, a so-called settlement less than 30 miles north of Jerusalem.

After Shiloh was founded in 1978, then-President Carter demanded of Prime Minister Menachem Begin that the village of eight families be removed. Carter, from his first meeting with Begin, pressed him to “freeze” the activity of Jews rebuilding a presence in their historic home. As his former information aide, Shmuel Katz, related, Begin said: “You, Mr. President, have in the United States a number of places with names like Bethlehem, Shiloh and Hebron, and you haven’t the right to tell prospective residents in those places that they are forbidden to live there. Just like you, I have no such right in my country. Every Jew is entitled to reside wherever he pleases.”

We now fast-forward to President Obama, who declared on June 15 in remarks at a news conference with Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, that Jewish communities beyond the Green Line “in past agreements have been categorized as illegal.”

I believe the president has been misled. There can be nothing illegal about a Jew living where Judaism was born. To suggest that residency be permitted or prohibited based on race, religion or ethnic background is dangerously close to employing racist terminology.

Suppose someone suggested that Palestinian villages and towns in pre-1967 Israel were to be called “settlements” and that, to achieve a true peace, Arabs should be removed from their homes. Of course, separation or transfer of Arabs is intolerable, but why is it quite acceptable to demand that Jews be ethnically cleansed from the area? Do not Jews belong in Judea and Samaria as much as Palestinians who stayed in the state of Israel?

Some have questioned why Jews should be allowed to resettle areas in which they didn’t live in the years preceding the 1967 war, areas that were almost empty of Jews before 1948 as well. But why didn’t Jews live in the area at that time? Quite simple: They had been the victims of a three-decades-long ethnic cleansing project that started in 1920, when an Arab attack wiped out a small Jewish farm at Tel Hai in Upper Galilee and was followed by attacks in Jerusalem and, in 1921, in Jaffa and Jerusalem.

In 1929, Hebron’s centuries-old Jewish population was expelled as a result of an Arab pogrom that killed almost 70 Jews. Jews that year removed themselves from Gaza, Nablus and Jenin. The return of my family to Shiloh — and of other Jews to more than 150 other communities over the Green Line since 1967 — is not solely a throwback to claimed biblical rights. Nor is it solely to assert our right to return to areas that were Jewish-populated in the 20th century until Arab violence drove them away. We have returned under a clear fulfillment of international law. There can be no doubt as to the legality of the act of my residency in Shiloh.

I am a revenant — one who has returned after a long absence to ancestral lands. The Supreme Council of the League of Nations adopted principles following the 1920 San Remo Conference aimed at bringing about the “reconstitution” of a Jewish National Home. Article 6 of those principles reads: “The administration of Palestine … shall encourage … close settlement by Jews on the land, including state lands and waste lands.” That “land” was originally delineated to include all of what is today Jordan as well as all the territory west of the Jordan River.

In 1923, Britain created a new political entity, Transjordan, and suspended the right of Jews to live east of the Jordan River. But the region in which I now live was intended to be part of the Jewish National Home. Then, in a historical irony, a Saudi Arabian refugee, Abdallah, fleeing the Wahabis, was afforded the opportunity to establish an Arab kingdom where none had existed previously — only Jews. As a result, in an area where prophets and priests fashioned the most humanist and moral religion and culture on Earth, Jews are now termed “illegals.”

Many people insist that settlements are illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention. But that convention does not apply to Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza district. Its second clause makes it clear that it deals with the occupation of “the territory of a high contracting party.” Judea and Samaria and Gaza, which Israel gained control of in 1967, were not territories of a “high contracting party.” Jewish historical rights that the mandate had recognized were not canceled, and no new sovereign ever took over in Judea and Samaria or in Gaza.

Obama has made his objections to Israeli settlements known. But other U.S. presidents have disagreed. President Reagan’s administration issued a declaration that Israeli settlements were not illegal. Support for that position came from Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, former president of the International Court of Justice, who determined that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria did not constitute “occupation.” It also came from a leading member of Reagan’s administration, the former dean of the Yale Law School and former undersecretary of State, Eugene Rostow, who asserted that “Israel has a stronger claim to the West Bank than any other nation or would-be nation [and] the same legal right to settle the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as it has to settle Haifa or West Jerusalem.”

Any suggestions, then, of “freezing” and halting “natural growth” are themselves not only illegal but quite immoral.

November 23, 2006

The Grounding of Judea and Samaria

Posted in Israel/Zionism, Judea & Samaria, revenant, Uncategorized, Yesha at 1:12 am by yisraelmedad

The grounding of Judea and Samaria



A few months after my family and I moved to Shiloh in 1981, I witnessed a microcosm of the land problem between Jews and Arabs. A section of land was to be put aside for security purposes and, as the legal procedure dictated, the mukhtars of nearby villages were informed and asked to make sure that any resident claiming private ownership rights should show up on a certain day to stake his claim.Sure enough, at the appointed hour, seven Arabs walked onto the area and then were asked to stand on what each claimed as his private plot. Within minutes a difficult situation developed when two villagers stood on the same fertile section, insisting that each owned it. A minute later and they were throwing stones at each other.

We, the residents of Shiloh, the IDF officers and legal officials all stood around amazed. In the end, with no documents, no tax receipts, no maps nor any other reliable proof of ownership, the land was confirmed as “state land” and assigned to its new use.

The new Peace Now report, “Breaking the Law in the West Bank,” besides making the front page of The New York Times, has generated local headlines as well. Claiming access to leaked “precise” information regarding the legal status of the land upon which Jewish revenant communities have been established, the group asserts that a “direct violation of Israeli law” has been done by “the state itself.”

This arguably illegal circumvention of the system, presumably by a Peace Now sympathizer within the civil service, was done to gain a few days advantage over the settlement movement. It’s obviously impossible to respond to the report in all its details with just a few hours notice.

It’s nevertheless not too difficult to point to several shortcomings and misleading information.

In the first instance, Hebron doesn’t appear as a “settlement.” Not at all. One could presume that the purchase of the Machpela Cave by Abraham some 3,000 years before a so-called Palestinian people came into being would indicate that perhaps Jews do have a place in the territory disputed between Jews and Arabs.

For what the Peace Now report does is, in sleight-of-word fashion, ignore the issue of state lands. The three sole classifications of “land area” in the report are private land, survey land and land owned by Jews.

UNTIL 1979, the State of Israel regularly appropriated private land. Karmiel was built this way and even the Ein Kerem neighborhood of Jerusalem benefited from such classifications.

Since, then, however, no Arab private land has been used for the Jewish communities. State (mirie) land is a different matter and, therefore, ignored in the report’s charts. To include it would injure the Peace Now case. The report, it appears, also resurrects the concept of ardh as-sahil – the lands of the fields – which were somehow termed as collectively owned.

As the League of Nations Mandate makes clear, in Article 6, “the Administration of Palestine… shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency… close settlement by Jews on the land, including state lands and waste lands not acquired for public purposes.”

State lands make up the vast majority of the area in Judea and Samaria. Land disputes began with the Turkish Ottoman administration and continued throughout the British Mandate period. At the base of the Peace Now approach is the rehashing of many Arab propaganda claims, now being given legitimization by sympathetic Jews.

As Arabs have asserted, they supposedly owned 93 percent of the land which came to be known as the State of Israel, of which 43% was privately owned and the rest was identified at that time as the Sultan’s Land. Jews owned but 7%. This five-decades old myth is now being resurrected by Peace Now, which is largely funded by foreign sources.

THERE ARE other concerns, such as questionable data. For example, at Karnei Shomron, only 1.47% of the land is noted as Jewish-owned. In fact, almost all the area of the community is Jewish-owned and the same for the Etz Efraim community.

Peace Now doesn’t recognize, it would seem, Jewish land purchases. It would be interesting to learn whether the concern of Peace Now for private land extends to Jews who own property in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, either from pre-state days or afterward, and cannot realize the land’s potential due to Israeli government policy or Arab terrorism, such as at Havat Gilad.

There is also the matter of Arabs who have sold land but then claim otherwise in fear of extra-legal punishment – in other words, they don’t want to be murdered for selling land to Jews.

In addition, the pictures of the land supposedly owned by “West Bank” Jewish communities on the Peace Now Web site are misleading. There is a vast difference between the area displayed and the actual area zoned at various government ministries and civilian administration offices. The boundaries are arbitrary, usually delineated by patrol roads which do not reflect on the actual property definitions.

THERE IS, it need be admitted, a very fundamental chasm between Peace Now and the reality on the ground. Property disputes have always existed, especially since the first land registration –Tabu – law was promulgated from the days of the Turks only in 1858.

But we should not lose sight of the major issue and that is that this conflict is not about private property but one between two nations claiming the same land.

Even if 51% of the land in question was owned by Jews as private property, Peace Now would oppose a Jewish presence in the area. Shiloh, Hebron and Beit El are place names that simply do not resonate with these concessionists. Their goal is simple: to get the Jews out of the territory they want for a future Palestinian state. To this end, even a juggling of terms and data is permissible.

The writer, a volunteer spokesman for the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, comments on political, cultural and media affairs at http://www.myrightword.blogspot.com