Monday, December 29, 2014

Mourn for Zion, find Redemption?

If you’re like many in Israel, you used to look at news headlines as part of your morning routine. But, like many, you may not do that anymore.

You’d like to read about your Zion. But you can’t. The news has become too hostile, too outrageous—too intensely anti-Zion.

For you, the headlines no longer inform. They depress.

Look at headlines from the last five days alone, December 24 -29, 2014. There seems to be no good news at all for our Jewish Zion.

In fact, lovers of Zion may want to mourn after reading these headlines. For example, leftists in Israel want to see a pro-Arab take-over of Israel’s Knesset (“Radical Leftists Call for Jewish-Arab List to Conquer Knesset”, Arutz Sheva,   December 27, 2014). Anti-Zion newsmakers attack Zionistic Israelis (““Former Shin Bet Chief: Right-wing Parties are 'Destructive'”, Arutz Sheva, December 26, 2014).

Jews are attacked in Jerusalem. First, Jews travelling to a funeral are attacked (“Jews en route to Mount of Olives funeral attacked by Arab youths”, Jerusalem Post, December 28, 2014). A Jewish home is firebombed (““Firebomb Hurled at Residential Home in Jerusalem”, Arutz Sheva, December 28, 2014). Then, unnamed Arabs post a Youtube instructional video on how to stab people (“Palestinians create instructional video on stabbing”, Times of Israel, December 28, 2014).

Arabs continue to talk about conquering us (“Watch: Hamas Shows Off Army 'Ready to Conquer Jerusalem'”, Arutz Sheva, December 27, 2014; and, “Hamas: We will liberate Palestine and Jerusalem”, YNET, December 27, 2014).

The UN prepares yet again to demand an Israeli surrender of ancestral Jewish homeland to create a state for those who seek to destroy us. A new UN proposal, if approved, could result in displacing up to 400,000 Jews. No one cares that this will amputate a part of Zion (“Erekat: UNSC to vote Monday on draft demanding Israeli withdrawal from West Bank”, Jerusalem Post, December 26, 2014).

No one stands up for Zion.

Russia jumps on the Arab bandwagon (“Russia Expresses Support for PA's UN Resolution”, Arutz Sheva, December 26, 2014). Jordan ‘primes the pump’ at the UN (“Jordan to present amended Palestinian statehood resolution to UN”, Jerusalem Post, December 29, 2014).

No one helps Zion.

There’s more bad news. On December 25, 2014, as another religion celebrated its holiday, Jews in Israel seemed happy to participate (“In Israel, I can celebrate Christmas”, Times of Israel, December 25, 2014). Gay pride made headlines (“Dreaming of a pink Christmas: Tel Aviv launches winter LGBT festival”, Haaretz, December 25, 2014). Intermarriage was defended (“You say ‘intermarriage’ like it’s always a bad thing”, Times of Israel, December 25, 2014).

How can a religious Zionist read such things and not weep? These aren’t feel-good stories. They are harbingers of loss.

If, like some in Israel, such stories make you feel like mourning for Zion, don’t get depressed. You see, we learn in Tanach (Zechariah, chapters 12-14) that, during the days leading up to our Final Redemption, we will fight a war called, Gog Umagog. During that war, commentaries say, much mourning will occur (ibid, 12:11). We will, our Heritage tells us, mourn the death of Moshiach Ben Yosef (Succah, 52a).

During the war of Gog Umagog, Moshiach Ben Yosef will be killed (ibid). Then Moshiah Ben David will come (ibid). Our Final Redemption will begin (ArtScroll Talmud, Succah note 1, 52a-1).

During the period of Moshiach Ben Yosef, there will be an ingathering of Jews to Israel. The ancestral Jewish land of Israel will once again be settled. Jerusalem will be rebuilt.

That will be the job of Moshiach Ben Yosef—to ingather Jews, to build Jerusalem and begin fulfilling the commandments dependent upon the land (The Voice of the Turtledove, Pomeranz Bookseller, Jerusalem, p.6). We have done these things in modern Israel.

Perhaps that job of ingathering also includes activities that support the ingathering. Perhaps Moshiach Ben Yosef also will see the settlement and rebuilding of our land--which, of course, we have also done in modern Israel.

Part of the ingathering process is to take the land, possess it (not surrender it) and to settle it (ibid, p 9). It is only after these tasks have been completed that Moshiach Ben Yosef  dies. Then, Moshiach Ben David will come.

We have done all these things in modern Israel. But now, Israel is pressured to give away portions of Zion. How can we move towards Redemption if we unsettle the land?

Here’s a question: what if Moshiach Ben Yosef isn’t a person? What if Moshiach Ben Yosef is an idea? What if that idea is ‘Zion’—the return to and rebuilding of Israel?

There are hints to this concept in Voice of the Turtledove (above, pp 20-21, 22, 25-26, 30-31). The hints are indeed subtle, but once you understand the concept, you realize the hints are there. It is a concept which comes to life through the work of many people over time (ibid, 33) who are called, ‘special messengers’ (ibid, p 36).   

Could this mean that Moshiach Ben Yosef is an idea?

We don’t know. Our Tanach isn’t a fact-book. It’s not a history book. It’s unique. It’s a Book of poetry-that-becomes-fact-and-history.

There’s nothing else like it. It stands alone, defined by rules we can’t understand, containing realities we appreciate only after its poetry has indeed turned into factual history: the destruction of the Temples, the exiles, the persecutions, the return, the blossoming of Israel, etc.

Could the mourning within Zecahaiah (ibid) that precedes the Final Redemption be linked to your depression over today’s anti-Zion news headlines?

Mourning is a sadness over loss. It’s a depression because of loss—or because of the anticipation of a loss.

Isn’t that how you feel about Zion when you see these depressing headlines? How does Zion weaken when intermarriage is approved? How does Zion cry when pieces of her are carved away for those who hate her? Doesn’t Zion mourn over the anticipation of such loss?

Could the eulogies we heard after the recent Har Nof massacre be part of Zechariah’s Redemptive mourning? What if we add to the Har Nof eulogies all the eulogies we heard this summer for the three kidnapped boys, the lone soldiers and others killed in the Gaza fighting? We saw more than a hundred thousand mourners attending those eulogies. Would the accumulated effect of those eulogies be what Zechariah meant when he said (of the days before Redemption), ‘the mourning will become intense in Jerusalem’ (Zechariah, 12:11)?

As we mourn, do the footsteps of Redemption draw near?



Sunday, December 28, 2014

How the ‘Palestinian Cause’ abuses history

Today, I offer to you an essay from the website, frontpage mag. It’s dated December 26, 2014. I have edited it. No comment is necessary. The essay speaks for itself:

Palestinians Attempt to Co-Opt Jewish History

by Ari Lieberman


In December 2011, former US House Speaker and presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, made the following observation regarding Palestinians:

“Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community…”

That comment set off a firestorm of criticism. But it’s actually grounded in historical fact. As historian Benny Morris pointed out in his book, 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War, at the turn of the 20th century, most Arabs residing in the Land of Israel--or “Palestine”--considered themselves to be subjects of the Ottoman Empire. There were some local Arabs with vague nationalistic tendencies, but even this minority considered itself to be part of Greater Syria. There simply was no reference to an independent ‘Palestine’ for a distinct group of people calling themselves ‘Palestinians.’

Morris reminds us that the residents of Arab villages routinely failed to come to the assistance of nearby villages that were under attack by Jewish forces (during the 1948 war), thus reinforcing the view that Arab villagers felt little loyalty to all but clan and village. The notion of a ‘Palestinian people’ was an alien concept to the common Arab villager who was not bound by any sense of duty to assist a neighboring village.

Occasionally, Arabs themselves have acknowledged this fact. In a revealing 1977 interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein stated,

 The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism”.

It was a rare moment of candor. But his was not an isolated admission. In a March 2012 televised address, Hamas Minister of the Interior and of National Security, Fathi Hammad, essentially validated Gingrich’s assessment of the ‘Palestinians’. While pleading for Egypt to assist Gaza, Hammad let loose with a series of embarrassing admissions that were certainly not intended for Western audiences.

“Every Palestinian…throughout Palestine can prove his Arab roots, whether from Saudi Arabia or Yemen or anywhere.” He went on to say that “personally, half my family is Egyptian, we are all like that…Brothers, half the Palestinians are Egyptian and the other half are Saudis…Who are the Palestinians?” he asks rhetorically. “We are Egyptian! We are Arab! We are Muslim!”

Absent from this speech was any recognition of an independent Palestinian identity; instead, his words acknowledge that there is no such identity.  

Lacking their own independent history, culture and identity, Palestinians have adopted a strategy of denying Jewish history. Arafat, for example, flat-out denied the fact that great Jewish Temples, built first by king Solomon and then by Herod, once stood where the Al-Aqsa Mosque currently stands. So ridiculous were his comments that they earned a swift rebuke from President Clinton. Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, has taken a cue from his boss; he also denies Jewish history.

Palestinian Arabs attempt to recruit Western “experts” and academics to their cause. In his book, The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West, and the Future of the Holy City, veteran Israeli diplomat Dore Gold chronicles the length to which Arab-Muslims and their Western supporters will go to deny the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. For example, they argue that much of ancient Jewish history was myth, including the Kingdoms of David and Solomon.

From the Arab perspective, this tactic was a sound one. Sever the ancient historical Jewish connection to Israel and you severely undermine claims of indigenousness. But archaeology doesn’t lie. In 1993, archaeologists discovered a 9th century stele at Tel Dan in northern Israel that clearly referenced the “House of David.” Additional discoveries since then, including finds in Jerusalem, Tel Zayit and at the Fortress of Elah, have further eroded claims by deniers and naysayers.

Not content with denying Jewish history, anti-Israel Arabs have actually attempted to co-opt it by absurdly claiming that Moses and King Saul were Palestinian Muslims who conquered and claimed “Palestine” for the benefit of Palestinians. These risible comments were spewed forth by “Dr.” Omar Ja’ara, a lecturer at Al-Najah University in Nablus and broadcast on Palestinian Authority TV.

Of course, it doesn’t matter that Saul and Moses lived more than 1,700 years before Islam was born. Facts play absolutely no role in Palestinian academia. Empirical data and evidence is ignored. Precedence is given to upholding a false, pernicious and viscerally anti-Semitic narrative that either denies historical fact or co-opts it.

As PLO bigwig Zahir Muhsein candidly noted (above), the claim of a Palestinian identity is a falsehood whose aim is not designed to achieve liberation or advancement for a specific people but rather to subjugate, undermine and destroy another people. For those of you who still remain unconvinced, consider the recent comments made by a prominent sheikh during a religious sermon at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. During his speech, the sheikh never uttered a single desire or longing for Palestinian statehood. Instead, he expressed the desire to join with ISIS in its quest for an Islamic caliphate.  His audience chanted, “amen!”

Few in the West face up to this malevolent reality.

For the full text of this essay, visit frontpage mag.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The ‘Palestinian Cause’: signs of genocide?

According to the narrative of the ‘Palestinian Cause’, Israel occupies ancient ‘Palestinian’ land. The ‘Palestinian’ people seek justice. They want their homeland back. They want their ‘rights’. They want Israeli occupiers out.

The say they war against Israel only because they war against oppression and occupation. They say they fight for a just, ethical cause.

But there’s trouble in this ‘Palestinian’ ethical paradise. Its narrative may not pass the smell test. For example, it turns out that most of the ‘Palestinian’ narrative has no basis in truth. There was never an ancient Arab-only’ Palestine’ that now needs to be ‘free’. There never existed an ancient ‘Palestinian’ people.

The story of an ancient ‘Palestine’ has no archaeological record. There’s no history of ancient ‘Palestinian’ kings, queens, generals or other potentates. Indeed, while so much of anti-Israel rhetoric gets expressed in terms of Islamic belief, it turns out that the words, ‘Palestine’ and ‘Palestinian people’ never appear in the Islamic Koran.

But the words, ‘Jews’ and ‘Israel’, are in the Koran.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement supports the ‘Palestinian’ drive for rights and justice. But it suffers the same flaw. It advertises itself as a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) that will work against Israel until Israel complies with international law and Palestinian rights (BDS Homepage). The movement claims to be “a truly global movement against Israeli Apartheid” (ibid). But, as former (and once proud) supporter Norman Finkelstein discovered, the BDS movement isn’t about ‘Palestinian’ rights (“Finkelstein: BDS Movement is a 'Cult', Arutz Sheva, February 15, 2015).

Yes, Finkelstein said, BDS calls itself a “rights based organization” and claims it is “fighting for rights” and “enforcing the law” (ibid).  But in reality it does no such thing. Instead, its goal is to eliminate Israel (ibid). As Finkelstein puts it, “they [BDS adherents] think they are very clever, but they know that the end result [of their efforts] is that there is no Israel” (ibid).

In other others, this former supporter has concluded that the sole BDS goal is to destroy Israel (ibid).

The justice ‘Palestinians’ demand is not linked to the right to create an independent state. The justice they seek is linked to liberation from an Israeli occupation of ‘Palestine’.

Many do-gooders who join the fight for ‘Palestinian’ justice don’t understand the difference between ‘independent state’ and ‘liberation from Israeli occupation’.  They believe that ‘independence’ and ‘liberation’ are synonyms. They aren’t.

 ‘Independence’ means a desire to be autonomous. ‘Liberation’ is different. As one strongly anti-Israel ‘Palestinian’ website explains, “There is a huge difference between ‘liberation’ and an ‘independent state’. Freedom for Palestinians means much more than establishing a bantustan [state] in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip” (“The sham solidarity of Israel’s Zionist left”, The Electronic Intifada, July 28, 2011).

For the ‘Palestinian Cause’, ‘liberation’ means the complete removal of Jews from modern-day Israel (the land Arabs call ‘Palestine’). Israeli ‘occupation’ occurs when Jews control land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea (which includes all of modern Israel). This is why Hamas recently objected to Mahmoud Abbas’s UN demand for an Israeli withdrawal from Judea-Samaria: such a withdrawal, Hamas declared, doesn’t represent a consensus of the ‘Palestinian’ people (“Hamas Opposes PA's UN Resolution”, Arutz Sheva, December 25, 2014).

You see, the ‘consensus’ of the ‘Palestinian’ people doesn’t seem to be a desire for an independent state. That ‘consensus’ appears almost every day to be the desire to liberate all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, which is just another way of saying its aim is to remove Jews from modern Israel and turn the ‘liberated’ area into an Islamic state called ‘Palestine’ (see the Hamas Charter).

The ‘Palestinian Cause’ has a problem when its supporters ignore self-rule and speak instead of Israel as an Apartheid state that must be dismantled (“Former Canadian Minister of Justice Cotler: ‘Calling Israel an Apartheid State is Not Antisemitic’”, Antony Lerman, June 11, 20-11).  This ‘dismantling’ is not a euphemism for an ‘indenpedent Palestine’. It’s a euphemism for Israel’s destruction (ibid).

The ‘Palestinian Cause’ has a problem when you go to a local march to support the ‘Palestinian struggle’ and see signs that say, ’death to Jews’ (“Anti-Israel protesters clash with police outside Paris synagogue”, Haaretz, July 13, 2014) and ‘Hitler was right’ (“Israel Protesters: ‘Hitler Was Right’”, charisma news, August 13, 2014).

These aren’t signs of the ethical struggle for self-rule. They aren’t signs of a drive for ‘rights’.

They’re signs of genocide.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Man, G-d, peace--and Mahmoud Abbas

In the long history of Man versus G-d, Man has always been a competitor. He has always sought to prove that G-d can be beaten.

That effort began with the Tower of Babel. It’s been going on ever since.

Man knows the first principle of power: you’re nothing until you become king of the hill.

Man wants to be that king. He wants G-dhead for himself.

Man surveys his world. He sees what he calls G-d’s work: poverty, war, oppression. That’s why Man turns against G-d. He says G-d has failed.

Man rejects failure. He wants to succeed. He says success comes when you control the world: the more you control the world, the higher your quality of life will be.

What’s wrong with that? Control disease, extend life. Control science, travel 500 miles in a single day in air conditioned and easy-chair comfort. Control farmland, refrigeration and transportation, eat fresh seasonal food year-round.

The more control Man has gathered for himself, the better life has become. That’s a proven fact. So far, Man’s control of his world has put a human on the moon. It’s conquered disease. It’s given us flat-screen TV, velcro and free internet pornography.

Can it get any better than that? Yes, it could get better--if Man had even more control.

That’s why Man wars against G-d: Man says he can do better.

Ever vigilant, ever competitive—ever patient--Man believes that G-d has made a mistake. In fact, according to Man, G-d has made a fatal mistake.

G-d didn’t stay in the forever-inaccessible Heaven. He didn’t stay hidden. He brought His Presence to earth.

That’s a mistake. Earth is Man’s turf. It’s where Man rules.

Man says it’s G-d’s fatal mistake. You see, when G-d came into this world he Chose to give His name and reputation to the Jews.

According to Man, that was G-d’s fatal error. He picked the wrong Chosen.

Ever since G-d had the gall to offend Man by choosing the Jew as His Chosen, Man has sought to erase that offense. He has sought to erase the inaccessible G-d by erasing the all-too-vulnerable Jew.

The Jew made G-d accessible. But that accessibility made G-d vulnerable.

Man’s plan is simple: if you kill G-d’s Chosen, you discredit the G-d. You ennoble the killer.

Surely, if Man discredited G-d, you’d acknowledge Man’s power. Surely, if Man destroyed G-d’s Chosen, you’d see that Man would be strong enough to put a chicken in every pot, win the War on Poverty and make sure you’ll never look fat again.

Look at what Man’s done so far. In the last hundred years alone, he’s brought you hip-hop music, computers, Starbucks coffee, sports bras and cell phones. He’s improved your life in those hundred years more than in all of past history combined.

Man’s done this because he’s gathered power for himself. He has used that power to improve your life. He has used it also to turn against G-d. Haven’t you noticed that these two trends have developed together?   

The last hundred years have brought incredible scientific and technological advancements to humanity. Those advancements improve your life. They also drive the war against G-d’s Chosen. The rise of Communism in the 1920’s, the rise of Nazism in the 1930’s and the explosion of Islamic-fuelled Jew-hate in the 1940’s, have all employed Man’s advancements in communication, transportation, chemistry and warfare to slaughter close to eight million Jews.

No one had ever killed that many Jews in so short a period of time. But it became possible because Man has grown strong.

Now, in the 21st Century, Man gets even stronger. He closes in on G-d. He closes in on the Jews. He creates human organs in a test tube. He develops drugs to reverse disease. He discovers a new way to destroy G-d’s Chosen.

He discovers Mahmoud Abbas.

Fuelled by the leadership of this Islamic Mahmoud, Man unites with a shared passion. Leftists—Man’s secret anti-G-d terror organization—unite with the EU, the US, the UN, the leadership of several Christian churches and many within Islam. Together, they build a new Tower of Babel. They will do what G-d has failed to do. They will create world peace.

Once, G-d promised the Jews He’d bring world peace. But do you see Him working at it? Do you see any results?

Man works at it. He understands results. He even has a bumper sticker to promote those results: for world peace, destroy Israel.

Mahmoud is strong. He dedicates his life to the work of Man. He leads Man’s war against G-d’s Chosen. Upon his shoulders, he carries Man’s hope. If he succeeds, Man will proclaim, ‘victory’.

All Mahmoud has to do is destroy the homeland G-d Chose for His Chosen.