Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rabbi Sadan and the IDF Chief-of-Staff

The word, ‘Hesder’ in Hebrew loosely translates into English as, ‘arrangement.’ It’s a curious word to assign to an education academy. But it’s accurate.

A Hesder Yeshiva (Torah academy) is a place where young men over the age of eighteen go for advanced Talmudic study in an ‘arrangement’ with the government of Israel (hence, the title, ‘Hesder’). The ‘arrangement’ is that these draft-eligible young men don’t go directly from High School into the army. They do something else. 

Normally, an eighteen year old Israeli male serves from one-to-three years in the IDF, depending upon the details of his personal situation. Once his service period ends, that young man either goes directly into the work-force or, commonly, into college.

Those who volunteer to go through the Hesder ‘arrangement’ don’t commit to serve a one-to-three year period. They typically commit to a five year stint that requires a pre- and post-army Torah commitment. This means that a young man will serve 16 months in the army as a full-time soldier and 44 months in the Yeshiva as a full-time student.

It’s a concept that works. It attracts approximately one of every five Religious Zionist High School graduates. It allows these religious youth to fulfill an ideal of full and active participation in Israel’s army, while still engaging in intense Torah study during their formative years (“About Yeshivot Hesder – Combining Military IDF Service with Advanced Talmudic Studies”, eTeacherHebrew Homepage, no date). According to one census, there are some 68 Hesder programs with perhaps 8,500 participants.

Hesder isn’t a way to get out of serving. It isn’t a way to avoid combat. In fact, almost all Hesder students volunteer specifically for combat duty.

The Hesder program has created an entirely new phenomena for Israel: combat-experienced Rabbis, Yeshiva leaders and army officers who serve their country and their G-d. They are changing the face of Israel, the face of the IDF and the chain-of-command within the IDF.  

One of the leaders of the Hesder ‘arrangement’ is Rabbi Eli Sadan, who has been called a pioneer of the Hesder concept. He is credited with being one of the founders of the first Hesder Yeshiva, in the town of Eli. At his Yeshiva, more than half of his Hesder graduates have served as officers in combat units.

He’s an important man. When he speaks, people listen.

Yesterday (October 20, 2014), he spoke. In an interview broadcast on Israel TV, he suggested that he would oppose any attempt to appoint a religious IDF Chief-of-Staff.

In the religious-military world of IDF-Hesder, you might expect a different point of view. You might expect him to be the first to call for a religious Chief-of-Staff. But he doesn’t.

He argues that Israel isn’t ready for a Torah-committed Army leader. He believes that, today, too many people in Israel would fear seeing a religious man in such a position. He believes that the majority of Israelis don’t want a religious Chief-of-Staff. He said, "I don't want there to be, for even one moment, a feeling in the country that the religious are forcing themselves on the public and leading the country to a place that most people don't want to go. That would be terrible, it would destroy the country” (“Rabbi: Religious IDF Chief of Staff Would be Calamity”, Arutz Sheva, October 20, 2014). Therefore, he concluded, he would oppose it.

What do you think of that?

Certainly, he’s correct to be sensitive to the realities of religious politics in Israel. Too often, religion is a ‘hot-button’ used by politicians and the media to incite against the religious. Being sensitive to such hate is smart.

Nevertheless, Rav Sadan could have been more judicious. He should not have given the media the chance to highlight so negative a comment.

Religious Zionism will not build its base by telling Israel’s TV audience that Israelis are afraid of religious Jews.

Perhaps his Religious Zionist message should have been: ‘Religion is important. But it shouldn’t be the main criteria for appointing a Chief-of-Staff. It also shouldn’t be the reason to reject a candidate for Chief-of-Staff. The only criteria should be competence. Therefore, if the best candidate is observant, I can see no reason to reject him. I believe that the Israeli people would understand that. I believe that Israelis understand how important a competent Chief-of-Staff is to our communal survival. I believe that the Israeli public would accept a G-d-fearing leader—if he’s the best choice.’

Religious Zionism gains strength in the political and public arena. It will reap benefits when it remembers that negative comments can be unproductive.

Fortunately, his negative words will not end the world. Perhaps the next time he speaks on the subject he could think more creatively. Perhaps he can suggest that Israelis are actually more willing to accept religious leaders than most of us believe.

There are always two ways to say the same thing. Religious Zionists might want to remember that.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Religious Zionism and the Crusade Against Israel

There is a Modern Crusade against Israel and the Jews. It is a Christian- and Muslim-inspired coalition founded on Jew-hate. It aims to take our land from us. It seeks our destruction. 

Look at recent headlines.

In Israel, the ‘Silent Intifada’ against the Jewish State continues. Arabs attack Jews (“Arab Terrorists Try to Burn Jews Alive in Jerusalem”, Arutz Sheva, October 17, 2014). Arabs desecrate Judaism’s holiest site, The Temple Mount (“Muslims on Temple Mount Attack Police with Fireworks, Rocks and Live Ammunition”, Israelvideonetwork, October 9, 2014).  

In Europe, anti-Semitism reaches fearsome heights (“‘Gas the Jews!’: European anti-Semitism during the Gaza crisis”, Vox, July 21, 2014). Jew-hate reaches epic proportions (“Antisemitism on rise across Europe 'in worst times since the Nazis'”, The Guardian, August 7, 2014). The European Union supports anti-Semitism with its diplomatic warfare against Israel (“EU Officials Weighing 'Settler Travel Ban' to Press Israel”, Arutz Sheva, October 14, 2014).

In New York, the United Nations (UN) continues to seek advice for ‘peace’ in the Middle East. But it ignores Israel. It prefers a terror organization (Hezbollah) that has declared Israel “an enemy of all humanity” (“UN Envoy Meets Hezbollah Leader Who Called to Destroy Israel”, Arutz Sheva, October 17, 2014).

In Washington, D.C., the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, pursues his own ‘peace’ in the Middle East. But he ignores Arab Jew-hate. He declares that Israel’s failure to implement a two-state solution created The Islamic State (“Kerry Blames ISIS on Failure in Israeli Peace Talks”, Arutz Sheva, October 17, 2014).

For more than a thousand years, anti-Semitism has called Jews the representation of absolute evil (“The untold truth: 150 million Europeans hate Israel”, antisemitism.org, July 14, 2013). Today, the world prepares a Modern Crusade to ‘exorcise’ that evil.

In South Africa, politicians demonize the Jewish State. They declare that, unique among the nations, Israel’s very existence is a humanitarian evil (“Israel’s founding a ‘crime against humanity,’ says South Africa’s ANC”, Times of Israel, September 14, 2014).

In America, Protestant clergy blame Israel for Arab Jew-hate (“Presbyterian Church group: Zionism is the problem”, Times of Israel, February 11, 2014). They equate Zionism with a bastardized brand of Christian exceptionalism that they claim led to the Nazi Holocaust (ibid). They say Zionism is heresy (“Presbyterian stances causing tension with Jews”, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 22, 2014).

From the Vatican, the Catholic Church says it wants Israel to surrender both the Western Wall and the world’s holiest Jewish site, The Temple Mount (“Op-Ed:  Expose: The Vatican - PLO Pact”, Arutz Sheva, February 9, 2102). The Church of England, meanwhile, supports UK Anglican clerics who hate Jews (“Christians who hate Jews”, Arutz Sheva, February 19, 2012).

Christianity is busy. It wants ‘justice’ in the Middle East. But instead of justice, it creates “a kind of demonology that bans Israel from the family of nations” (ibid). For ‘justice’, Christianity participates in a Crusade that demonizes the Jewish Israel.

The Haftorah we read at the beginning of our holiday, Succot, spoke to us of the nations gathering to attack the Jewish Nation. Now, more than two thousand years later, our news headlines report on that gathering storm.

The rabidly anti-Semitic Hamas Charter declares that Jews cause international strife. The US Secretary of State echoes that declaration. King David spoke of the collusion between Edom and Ishmael (Psalm 83). Almost three thousand years later, our news headlines report it to us.

Religious Zionism, which calls for Jews to embrace both G-d and Israel, is not frightened by the hate—or the Crusade. The first Rashi (1040-1105) commentary we read in this past Torah Portion, B’reisheit, explains why: G-d began the Torah with the story of Creation in order to remind us that, when individuals and nations sin, they ‘qualify’ to be expelled from their place of settlement. Adam and Eve were expelled from their place of settlement (the Garden of Eden) because of sin. The generation of the Flood was removed from the world altogether for its sins. The generation of the Dispersion (Parshat Noah) was removed from its land of settlement because of sin (The Ramban, B’reisheit, 1:1).

The Ramban (c1194-c1276) tells us (ibid) that Creation is all about G-d. He creates. He gives life. He punishes. One way He punishes is by banishing individuals and nations. That’s why the Canaanites were expelled from their land (when the Jews replaced them). It’s also why Jews were exiled from Israel. They sinned.

Secular ‘Zionists’ are overwhelmed by the pressure that emanates from the Christian- and Muslim-inspired Crusade. But our Torah’s very first Rashi creates the foundation stone to resist that pressure:  we are here because G-d brought us here. This land is ours because G-d gave it to us (“Rabbi Moshe Lichtman, Eretz Yisrael in the Parshah, Devorah Publishing, Jerusalem, p.19-21).

Religious Zionists have the answer for Modern Crusaders who peddle hate in order to take away our land: you have no rights here. This land comes to us from G-d, not you. We are His Chosen. He Chose to put us here. The Bible is our deed.

The G-d of Israel has a Story for you to read. It’s the Story of the Jewish Redemption.

Israel lives to empower that Story. Religious Zionism lives because G-d created that Story.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Religious Zionism must rise to speak for Israel

Arabs step up their campaign to demonize Israel. Arab hate splashes across Israel’s headlines. The Arab means to conquer Israel. His Jew-hate burns white-hot.

You see it in the headlines. The Palestinian Authority (PA) peddles hate. It continues to push the anti-Jewish medieval blood libel into our collective face. It has no shame.

First, in July, 2014, it used the actual blood libel—that Jews kill children to harvest blood for Jewish Matzah (“Mahmoud Abbas's TV Says Israel Poisoned Gaza Wells”, Arutz Sheva, October 19, 2014). Now, it pushes a variation: PA TV now claims that Israel poisoned water wells in Gaza during the recent Gaza-Israel war (ibid).

Muslims desecrate The Temple Mount (“Shocking: Muslims Daub Swastika on Temple Mount”, Arutz Sheva, October 19, 2014). PA leader Mahmoud Abbas encourages violence against Jews on the Mount. He calls for Arabs to ‘resist’ Jews on the Mount ‘by all means necessary’ (“Abbas Calls to Stop Jews Visiting Temple Mount Using 'All Means'”, Arutz Sheva, October, 18, 2014). Abbas dehumanizes Jews by calling those who ascend to Judaism’s holiest site, ‘a herd of cattle’ (“Abbas Calls Jews Visiting Temple Mount 'Herd of Cattle'”, Arutz Sheva, October 18, 2014).

Who will stand up for Israel? Who will resist this onslaught?  Jewish national leadership won’t. Our leaders say nothing. Why?

Do they agree with Abbas?

Israel will never hold on to the Temple Mount if the only voice that speaks of it says, ‘The Temple Mount is Muslim. Jews are forbidden there’.

Israel will never hold on to Joseph’s Tomb if the only words spoken about it are, ‘This is a mosque. Jews are forbidden here’.

Israel is besieged. It’s surrounded. It doesn’t just retreat before the nations at the UN or the EU. It retreats from its own land. It retreats from its own holy sites. It retreats before every Arab slur.

Who will stand up for Israel? The Left won’t. It hates Israel almost as much as the Arab. The Center won’t. It thinks it can compromise with the Arab. The Right can’t. They can’t convince anyone that Israel has a right to exist.

The only voice that can defend Jewish Israel is the voice that calls to G-d. Only through G-d will we claim sovereignty here. We have no other argument. The nations won’t stand for any other argument.

Of course, they won’t stand for this argument, either. But as we learn from the first Rashi in the Torah—which we have just read--the comment that we are here because G-d gave this place to us isn’t meant for the nations. It’s not meant for the Arabs who attack us. It’s meant for us; for until we stand up to make that declaration, we will not have the courage to fight. Until we call out G-d’s name, we will not be able to resist the onslaught of the Crusade that gathers to bury us.

Without G-d, we will surrender to those who lust to destroy us. Without a link to G-d, we cannot hold the land. It will disappear.

The only people in Israel who have the faith to stand up for G-d and Israel are the Religious Zionists who have committed to both G-d and Israel. No one else will stand up. No one else seems to believe what our Torah tells us.

In the past, religious Jews have been reluctant to act in so public a manner. Such aggressiveness wasn’t part of our upbringing.

That has to change. HaShem is testing us. Read the headlines. We are savaged. We are demonized. We are dehumanized. We are criminalized.

Do we hold onto what is ours by retreating? Do we keep what G-d gave us by yielding?

We do not. We will not.

But we can succeed when we stand up. We can certainly succeed when we stand up for G-d, who gave us this precious land as a gift.

So far, we have failed this test. We haven’t stood up. Therefore, our hold upon the land grows weaker.

We haven’t spoken of G-d. We haven’t spoken of His gift. We haven’t spoken loudly enough about the land. As a result, the Arab grows stronger. He grows bolder. He becomes increasingly hostile, increasingly demanding: Jerusalem is his, he says. He wants it. He lusts for it.  

We must stand up. We must speak up. We must declare, ‘This is our land. This is our capital city. This is our Temple Mount. This is our Tomb of Joseph’. We must speak up for G-d. We must say, ‘This is our land because G-d gave it to us, not you’.

Where are the Religious Zionists? They are the ones who love G-d and the land. They are the Jews who truly understand the link between G-d, the land and us.

Religious Zionists: stand up now!




Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Succot, Jewish prophesy and your evening news

Our daily news headlines are filled with dread for Israel. Arabs riot on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site (“Rioters hole up in mosque amid violent Temple Mount melee”, The Times of Israel, October 8, 2014). During July-August, 2014, Arabs attacked Jews in Jerusalem more than 150 times (“'Silent Intifada' Rages in Jerusalem”, israel today, September 17, 2014). The mayor of Jerusalem fears for the future (“Barkat Tells Netanyahu Jerusalem's 'Silent Intifada' Must End”, Arutz Sheva, October 3, 2014).

The West threatens Israel. It acts as if it’s about to join the ‘Palestinian cause’ in earnest (“Sweden to recognize state of Palestine as US, EU leaders criticize Israel’s new settlement plan”, wtfrly.com, October 3, 2014).

Israel feels backed into a corner (“Israel alarmed at Sweden's plan to recognize Palestinian state”, Los Angeles Times, October 5, 2014). Its position on the international stage erodes (“Sweden’s recognition of Palestine will license activists”, mondoweiss, October7, 2014). Israel fears that the EU is preparing to tell Israel, ‘we don’t care about negotiations anymore; we just want a ‘Palestine’; and if you don’t agree to that, we’ll use sanctions against you (“Swedish Recognition of 'Palestine' - A Sign of Things to Come?”, Arutz Sheva, October 7, 2014).

Israel is cornered. It has no friends. The entire world seems to gather to demonize and criminalize the Jewish State.

What’s going on here?

Tomorrow morning, October 9, 2014, Jews around the world will get a look at the answer to this question. Tomorrow morning, Jews who go to synagogue services for the Holiday we call, Succot, will read a Haftorah portion from Zecharyahu (14:1-24). In that Haftorah, the prophet Zecharyahu appears to reference today’s headlines: he describe a war prompted by nations who gather together to attack Israel.

Isn’t that what your headlines suggest?

Using the poetry of prophesy, Zecharyahu presents a scenario that is familiar to all who read the news. He describes the day when the nations of the world will attack Jerusalem.

Our Sages teach that the war Zecharyahu describes contains sometimes-obscure language. They are uncertain how literally we should take his words. His words might be metaphor (see The Midrash Says on the Weekly Haftaros, Volume 5, Book of Devarim, Rabbi Moshe Weissman, Bnay Yakov, publications, 2003, p 427).

Our headline news stories aren’t metaphor. In real time, they  echo Zecharayhu’s words.

The nations of the world attack Israel. They attack Jerusalem. They want to see Jerusalem divided. They want to see East Jerusalem (at the very least) to be taken from the Jews. They want that to be the capital of the new Arab ‘Palestine’.

Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, is in East Jerusalem. The Arabs have already declared that there will be no ‘Israelis’ (Jews) in their new ‘Palestine’ (“Abbas: There Will be No Israelis in 'Palestine'”, Arutz Sheva, July 30, 2013). If Israel is forced to give up East Jerusalem, Jews will forever be sealed off from their holiest religious site, just as they had been between 1948-1967, after Jordan had seized and occupied all of East Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount.

The nations don’t care about Judaism’s holiest site. They don’t care about a Jewish Jerusalem. They don’t care about Israel.

They care about the ‘Palestinian cause’. They care about attacking Israel. They want to see the Arabs get ‘their Jerusalem’.  

The war in Zecharyahu marks the beginning of the Final Jewish Redemption. It’s a war that will be led by Gog UMagog, which our Heritage translates as ‘the leader Gog from the nation of Magog’ (see Avodau Zarah, 3b, the ArtScroll edition). The words ‘Gog UMagog’ do not appear in this Haftorah. But most commentaries agree that this text refers to Gog from Magog (The Midrash Says, ibid, p. 428).

Gog is a leader who creates a coalition of nations to attack the Jewish State (see Yechezkel, the ArtScroll edition, Chapter 38:2, Note 2). He comes from a land far from Israel (ibid). According to our Sages, that land could be modern Germany, Iran, Turkey, Russia—or someplace west of Russia (ibid).

More than one commentary teaches that the chief ally of Gog will be Edom, the irreconcilable enemy of Israel (ibid). As you may know, in our Heritage, Edom is typically identified as ‘The Christian West’.

‘Gog’ will enlist the Christian West and the Arab to attack Israel.

‘Gog’ is a powerful leader who will create a coalition of nations to come to Israel—either physically or diplomatically, or both—to ‘attack’ Israel and Jerusalem. In some way, he will be connected to Edom—the West (the US?). The fighting force which will attack Israel will come primarily from Persia (Iran) and Ishmael (the Arab).

Can you picture that happening? Can you picture an American President so disgusted with Israel that he decides not to defend Israel at the UN? Can you picture such a President then being asked by the UN to form a coalition to advance against Israel—for peace?

This picture of Edom (the West) joining with Ishmael (the Arab) to attack the Jewish state doesn’t just appears in our Tanach—primarily in Zecharyahu, Yechezkel and Daniel. It also appears in our Midrashic commentary (ibid, Note 2)--and in our headlines.

We are reminded of this—the poetic prophecy and our daily headlines—when we read King David’s Tehillim (Psalms), who wrote the following words in Psalm 83:

“behold, Your foes are in uproar and those who hate You have raised their head. Against Your nation [Israel] they plot deviously. They take counsel [the UN?] against those sheltered by You. They said, ‘Come, let us cut them off from nationhood, so Israel’s name will not be remembered anymore!’[the Hamas and PLO Charters]. For they take counsel together unanimously, they strike a covenant against You [the UN vote for ‘Palestinian’ statehood]—[they include] the tents of Edom [the West] and Ishmaelites [the Arab], of Moab, and Hagrites, Geval and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia and the inhabitants of Tyre”.

That’s a coalition of nations come together to destroy Israel. Many today who seek to dismantle G-d’s Jewish Israel descend in some way from this ancient coalition. Once again, they join together to plot deviously against Israel.

The G-d of Israel has a Jewish Story for you to see. It’s a Story that focuses on Israel.

This Story will unfold in history. You will see it unfold through the headlines you read every day.

It’s the Story of the Final Redemption of the Jewish people. It’s prophecy-in-the-news.

Whose side will you be on when the G-d of Israel rescues Jewish Israel?




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The New Israel Fund makes a mistake

The New Israel Fund (NIF) is a Jewish Non-Government Organization (NGO) that operates in Israel. Like many such organizations, its income comes primarily—if not exclusively—from donors. Without those donors, the NIF—like many of its peers throughout the NGO world--might not exist.

The NIF may be unique. In an Israel where many ‘good-works’ groups exist almost exclusively because of non-paid volunteers, NIF is the 800-pund gorilla who wears Parada, not Thrift-shop specials. Over the past 30 years, it has doled out something like 200 million US dollars to more than 800 organizations in Israel (NGO Monitor, September 2, 2012). In a small country like Israel, that kind of cash carries a lot of clout (“Where Does the New Israel Fund's Money Go?”, The Algemeiner, September 23, 2014).

According to its Homepage, NIF uses that money for good deeds. Primarily, it’s used to make Israel a ‘liberal, pluralistic and just society’ (ibid). The NIF distributes its collected monies, it says, ‘to build a better Israel’ (ibid).

Not everyone agrees with that sentiment. Some believe that NIF works ‘to undermine the very foundations of the State of Israel’ (ibid). Some argue that those who work for NIF are too often aggressively anti-Israel (ibid).

The NIF denies it is anti-Israel.

The NIF is very rich. It gives out a lot of money in Israel. It doesn’t reveal much about where its money goes—or where it came from. The NIF is also very sensitive about criticism. It will sue those who criticize it too sharply (“Hey, NIF! Criticism is a Democratic Right”, Jerusalem Post, February 4, 2010). For an organization that appears to some to work full-time to criticize Israel, it seems too often to have a rather thin skin (ibid).

The NIF is in the news again. But it isn’t being criticized. It seems that, despite its position as the 800-pound gorilla in Israel’s NGO universe, it isn’t satisfied with its progress. It isn’t satisfied with how much money it receives. It wants more.

NIF has a vision. It sees Israel as a country under assault. It believes that Israel’s pluralist, democratic nature is at risk—and that risk, it believes, is growing (“Rebranded New Israel Fund adapts right-wing tools”, Times of Israel, October 6, 2014). It believes that individuals with undemocratic views have accumulated too much power in Israel.

The NIF acknowledges that Israel was originally established to be both a Jewish homeland and a democracy (NIF Homepage, ‘New Initiatives for Democracy’). But it appears in my opinion to be extremely concerned, perhaps even alarmed, that the Jewish part of Israel now means more to Israeli Jews than ‘democracy’. According to the Times of Israel, the NIF wants to ‘rebrand’. It wants to stop that ‘Jewish’ assault.

To this end, it has created a ‘New Initiatives for Democracy’ campaign. Its goal with this campaign is to create greater equality and democracy in Israel (if you wish to support these ‘initiatives’, please note that NIF Board Members have agreed to match every donation you make, up to 500,000 USD).

NIF wants to ‘return Israel to its liberal roots’ (ibid). You may note that the NIF doesn’t say it has the same concern for Israel’s Jewish roots. In fact, the words, ‘Jewish’ or ‘Jewish roots’ or ‘religious roots’ are nowhere to be found in its description of its ‘New Initiatives’ goals.

NIF makes a mistake. Israel doesn’t exist today because it’s a ‘democracy’. Jews didn’t return to this desert land to re-establish Israel’s sovereignty after a nearly 2,000-year hiatus in order to create ‘democracy’ in the Middle East. ‘Democracy’ isn’t what brought us back to Israel. The Jewish dream of our Divinely-granted Jewish homeland brought us back.

NIF makes a serious mistake. Israel will not survive by embracing a Leftist definition of ‘democracy’. Israel won’t survive by dropping its ‘Jewishness’ for ‘democracy’.

Israel will survive the way Jews have always survived: by committing to follow the Torah.

How do we know this? We know it because those Jews who,  four generations ago, replaced their Jewishness with a political ideology aren’t Jewish any more. Those Jews have few if any Jewish great-grandchildren.

But those Jews who, four generations ago, embraced the Torah with love and devotion—and transmitted that love and devotion to their children—now have many, many, many Jewish great-grandchildren.

The NIF is mistaken. Israel doesn’t survive because it works at ‘democracy’. It survives because Jews recognize the power and the love of the G-d of Israel.

The G-d of Israel has a Jewish Story He wants you to see. That Story is the unfolding Redemption of the Jewish people.

Will the NIF’s effort to promote ‘democracy’ in place of ‘Jewishness’ in Israel play a role in fulfilling Jewish Biblical prophecy?

Stay tuned. This Story is just beginning.

The G-d of Israel won’t disappoint you.

The ‘peace’ of Hanan Ashrawi and her PLO

Senior Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) [also called, Fatah] official Hanan Ashrawi has a long history of anti-Israel rhetoric. As you’ll see in a moment, that rhetoric has more to do with destroying Israel than motivating Israel to make peace.

This week, she speaks against Israel in the name of peace. The West may want a lasting ‘peace’ plan for Arab and Jew. It may want ‘two states that will live side-by-side in peace and security’. But the ‘peace’ Hanan Ashrawi wants has nothing to do with the West. Her peace plan comes from the PLO Charter, which doesn’t promote a Western-style peace for Israel.

Her latest attack against Israel was prompted by Israeli and US reactions to comments by Sweden’s new Prime Minister, Stefan Loefven. In his inaugural address to the Swedish parliament (on Yom Kippur), Loefven announced he would recognize a new ‘Palestinian state’ (“Sweden to recognize Palestinian state: PM”, Arab News, October 6, 2014).

With that announcement, Loefven became the first Head-of-State in Western Europe to recognize ‘Palestine’ before final negotiations between the two parties had been completed (“Sweden Recognizes 'Palestine' as a State”, Arutz Sheva, October 4, 2014). Leofven made this announcement because the Party he heads, the Social Democrats, wants the UN to recognize ‘Palestine’, something the Party he replaces didn’t.  Loefven’s support for ‘Palestine’ comes from his Party’s  ‘election manifesto’, which had stated, in part, that ‘Israel’s war crimes must be investigated and the occupation of Gaza lifted’ (ibid, Arab News).

This Swedish support for a ‘Palestine’ is important. It will make other members of the EU ‘sit up and pay attention’ to ‘Palestinian’ statehood (“Sweden to recognize state of Palestine as US, EU leaders criticize Israel’s new settlement plan”, wtfrly.com, October 3, 2014). It will also put more pressure on Israel, whose ‘commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the ‘Palestinians’(ibid) is seen by most of the world as the sole impediment to Arab-Israel peace.

But Israel isn’t the impediment to peace. The Arabs are. Anyone who reads the PLO (and Hamas) Charter(s) will realize that the sole impediment to peace in the Middle East is the Arab goal to destroy Israel.

Because of that goal, there will never be peace with Israel.

If you want to see a real-life representation of that goal, look at the Fatah (PLO) logo: it doesn’t show the new ‘Palestine’ sitting alongside the Jewish Israel (as the West thinks); it shows the new ‘Palestine’ in place of the Jewish Israel.

Hanan Ashrawi marinates her soul in that goal. She has no interest in living next to a Jewish Israel. She has no interest in negotiating anything with that Jewish enemy. The PLO Charter won’t allow it.

When both the US and Israel reacted negatively to the Swedish PM’s announcement to recognize ‘Palestine’, Ashrawi responded harshly to that negative response (which stated that Sweden’s commitment to a Palestinian state was premature). She accused both Israel and the US of failing ‘to address the very basis of the values upon which the United Nations was founded’, (“PLO Blasts Israel for Saying PA Statehood Should Follow Talks”, Arutz Sheva, October, 6, 2014).

Ashrawi invokes the values of the United Nations. Well, those values focus on peace and security for Member States (UN Charter, Article One). Those values focus on nations developing ‘friendly relations’ with one another (ibid).

Ahsrawi doesn’t want friendship with Israel. She will not sit down with Israel to discuss settling the Arab dispute (over land) with Israel (UN Charter, Article Two).

Peace—and settling disputes peacefully through cooperation (ibid, Article One)--are not her goals. Removing Israel from the map is her goal.

She calls upon all nations to recognize ‘Palestine’ ‘as an investment in peace’ (ibid). But statehood without negotiation with Israel is not an investment in peace. It’s the first deposit in the hoped-for final Arab war against Israel.

The peace the UN was founded upon requires that sovereign states “live together in peace with one another as good neighbours” (UN Charter, Preamble). But that is not the peace Hanan Ashrawi has in mind for Israel. The ‘peace’ she wants is the ‘peace’ that the PLO Charter defines in its Article 22: “the liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence [Israel] and will contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East” [emphasis mine].

In case you didn’t get that, the peace she wants is the peace that Arabs believe will settle upon the Middle East after Israel has been destroyed.

Hanan Ashrawi uses words of peace. But her intent is to destroy a sovereign Member of the UN.

The G-d of Israel has a Jewish Story for you to see. It is the Story of the Final Redemption of the Jewish people.

Will the PLO and Hanan Ashrawi play a role in that Redemption?

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 6, 2014

How should the West view Hamas, IS and Israel?

On September 29, 2014, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the United Nations General Assembly. In his speech, he declared that Hamas wants to destroy Israel. But, he said, referring to the similarity between Hamas and The Islamic State (IS), “Hamas has a broader objective. They [sic] also want a caliphate. Hamas shares the global ambitions of its fellow militant Islamists,” the IS (“Transcript of Benjamin Netanyahu's address to the 2014 UN General Assembly”, Haaretz, September 29, 2014).

Netanyahu had made this association because he felt that “Israel's fight against Hamas and the US military campaign against the Islamic State are part of the same cause --the defeat of Islamic extremism” (ibid).

On the surface, he made perfect sense. Both the US and Israel, each in its own way and each for its own reasons, face a threat from Islamic extremism. But his linking Hamas with the IS didn’t sit well with everyone. Apparently, some either can’t give credence to anything a Jewish leader of Israel says, or they are reluctant to grant Israel any right to discuss Islamic extremism--or, they are so focused on the general threat we face from Islamic extremists they completely dismiss the threat Jewish Israel faces from Hamas.
For example, Nathan Brown, writing in The Jewish Daily Forward (“Netanyahu's Convenient Lies About ISIS and Hamas”, September 30, 2014), dismisses Netanyahu’s attempt to compare Hamas to IS. He further argues that IS brutality is not the problem. The real problem, he suggests, is that IS political adeptness is admired by so many Arabs. He argues that Arabs aren’t so much challenged by the Stone Age brutality of IS as they are by ‘political realities’ the IS raises. He concludes that Israel would be wiser to face the ‘political realities’ it has with Hamas than to demonize Hamas with non-productive comparisons.

His argument is intriguing, nuanced—and extremely dangerous. It suggests you should ignore the violence and ideology of the IS and look instead at its political influence. His focus downplays the IS’s brutal drive for Islamic rule just as IS threatens to overrun a region that contains more than half of the world’s oil supply (“Mideast Risks Warlord Era as Jihadists Rise, Nations Fail”, Bloomberg News, October 3, 2014). 

Brown presents an interesting argument—if you want to deflect your audience from any urgency over the danger IS creates for Western economic stability. Political influence isn’t the issue here. If the IS shuts off the West’s oil supply, the West won’t be talking about IS political influence.

Larry Derfner isn’t so nuanced with his argument against Netanyahu’s associating Hamas with IS (“No, Hamas isn’t ISIS, ISIS isn’t Hamas”, +972Magazine, August 24, 2014).  He sees any attempt to equate Hamas with IS as nothing more than an ‘idiotic’ and crude attempt to brainwash us to side with Israel’s oppression of the ‘Palestinians’. He says Hamas is different from IS: “Hamas is not slaughtering and beheading and crucifying people by the thousands, it’s not committing gang rape, it’s not massacring people because they practice a different religion” (ibid). He says the most telling difference between Hamas and IS is that Hamas is a nationalistic movement, fighting to free its people—and IS is not. This difference, he argues, is crucial because “ISIS is a threat to take over all of Iraq (and maybe later Syria); Hamas isn’t a threat to take over a blade of grass in Israel” (ibid).

Derfner doesn’t say that Hamas has no intent to take over Israel. He simply argues that Hamas isn’t like IS because it isn’t a threat to Israel, while IS is certainly a threat to Iraq.

Put another way, Derfner suggests that if Hamas isn’t an imminent threat to Israel, it’s wrong to call it a form of extremist Islam—as if it is beheadings or rapes that determine a terror organization’s extremism and not the rhetoric, ideology, incitement, dehumanization and persistent attacks that come out of that terror organization.

Seven weeks after Derfner published his attack of Netanyahu (who had already compared Hamas to IS before his UN speech), Hamas agreed with Netanyahu. It announced that, yes, it did indeed want an Islamic state (“Hamas Agrees with Netanyahu: 'We want an Islamic State'”, Arutz Sheva, October 2, 2014).

This is disturbing. In the face of brutal Islamic terror organizations (Hamas and IS) which threaten the Western world, Western essayists dismiss both the threat and the messenger (Netanyahu) who spells out that threat.  

The truth is, Netanyahu is correct. Hamas and IS come from the same poisonous tree. They share ideological DNA markers that come directly from that tree: radical Islam and terrorism.

Here are a couple of survival tips. First, it’s never a good idea to advise someone about to go into battle to don a blindfold. Second, it’s never a good idea to dismiss the only participant who has actually fought a similar enemy.

Apparently, Brown and Derfner prefer blindness.

The G-d of Israel has a Jewish Story He wants you to see. That Story is about how the Final Jewish Redemption unfolds.

Will IS, Hamas and a scorn for Israel play a part in that Story?

Stay tuned.