Before I begin the subject of this post, I note that tomorrow night is New Year’s Eve on the secular calendar. My usual comment is that I pay scant attention to it – other than making sure I change the date on my postings. For me, new year is Rosh Hashana, marked by contemplation and prayer.
But this year I am paying attention. It’s been an awful year. Looking forward, I wish for all of you a year of health, connection to family and friends, peace and prosperity.
And here we move to the heart of this posting, with regard to making up facts. It’s an “anything goes” world we live in, a world in which truth has diminished value. What matters is making the political points that serve your goals. So, if you invent a “fact,” and are able to sell it to others as “truth,” you will come out ahead.
A blatant example of this, which emerges during this season, is the claim by Palestinian Arabs that “Jesus was a Palestinian.” The point is to show that “Palestinians” harken back two-thousand years in the land. If Jesus was a Jew, then it is acknowledgement that the Jews were in the land.
Honest Reporting explains the issue thus (emphasis added):
“Jesus was born in Judea…and identified as a Jew…Anyone referring to ‘Palestine’ in the first century C.E. would have earned themselves a strange look, especially from the indigenous Aramaic-speaking Jews…
“A century later, the area was renamed. After a Jewish revolt was crushed in the 2nd Century CE, the vast majority of Jews were exiled and the Roman emperor Hadrian subsequently had the region entitled ‘Syria Palaestina’ after the Jews’ ancient enemies, the Philistines, in an antagonistic move designed to demonstrate that the Jews were no longer owners of the land.
“Put simply, an Aramaic-speaking Jew living a century before this change of name would never have called himself Palestinian.”
Thus can we appreciate the cartoon put out by Likud Herut UK. (With thanks to Ardie Geldman, who had put this up, calling it to my attention.)
This particular claim by Palestinian Arabs is simply emblematic of many broader claims with which we must deal not only in December but all year long. They say that the Temple Mount is theirs, that Jerusalem is theirs (see more on these issues below), and so forth.
We have an obligation not only to be alert to these misrepresentations, but to challenge them in public forums. As we do so, it’s a good idea to elaborate, explaining that even when the term “Palestinian” was utilized, it simply referred to residents of the area of Palestine, which was, until the Mandate for Palestine, an appendage to one empire or another. It did not refer to a “Palestinian people.” During the Mandate period the term was with reference to Jews.
A libelous charge that surfaced from church figures inside of Israel and Judea & Samaria, joined by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is greatly perturbing. They claim that Christians are being driven by out by “radical local groups with extremist ideologies.” Read: Jews.
Writes Melanie Phillips, the Archbishop of Jerusalem, Hosam Naoum (pictured), warned about a crisis of Christian survival “in the Holy Land.” “…Naoum claimed on Britain’s GB news channel that Christianity was on the point of extinction in the Holy Land as a result of pressure from “extremists and radicals,” especially in Jerusalem.
“Anyone with any connection to reality would have been perplexed by all this. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the country’s Christian population actually increased last year by 1.4 percent. Indeed, Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christians are flourishing.” (Emphasis added here and below.)
I believe it is pertinent to point out that Archbishop Naoum is a Palestinian Arab.
Notes Phillips, the coy reference by church leaders to “‘radical groups’ obscures the identity of those who really are driving Christians out of the ‘Holy Land’ — Arab Muslims.
“As Honest Reporting points out, the Christian charity Open Doors explicitly attributed the steep decline of Christians in the area to ‘Islamic oppression,’ explaining that ‘Islamic extremist militants’ in the Palestinian Authority-administered ‘West Bank’ were causing Christians to fear violent attacks.
“A 2019 report by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies illustrated the point. In April 2019, Christian residents of Jifna, near Ramallah, begged the P.A. for protection after Muslim gunmen stormed their village following a complaint that the son of a Fatah-affiliated leader had attacked a Christian woman’s family.
“The P.A. police turned a blind eye as armed rioters connected to Fatah, the political party that controls the P.A., lobbed petrol bombs at homes and fired live rounds into the air…
“In 2005, when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, there were approximately 5,000 Christians living there. After Hamas seized control, its affiliates began targeting Christians with kidnappings, murders, forced conversion and attacks on churches and Christian-owned businesses. Now fewer than one thousand Christians remain in Gaza.
“The churches mentioned none of this. Instead, Welby and Naoum write that “the growth of settler communities and travel restrictions brought about by the West Bank separation wall have deepened the isolation of Christian villages and curtailed economic and social possibilities.”
I want to segue from this to the issue of the US Consulate on Agron Street that the Americans had planned to turn into a de facto embassy for the Palestinian Authority.
At present, these plans are on hold, apparently because of the push-back by the government of Israel and Israelis in large numbers. A signal lesson here.
I report on this here for two reasons. One is the obvious: that US reluctance to move ahead is to be celebrated.
But there is another, which ties directly into the matter of the truth of a situation, a truth that is often elusive. The argument has been made that allowing the US to move ahead with plans for the consulate weakens Israel’s control over all of Jerusalem as a united capital, and brings with it the specter of a Jerusalem once again divided.
Yet what PA officials have in mind was actually much worse. Pay attention to the words of PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh spoken to activists during a meeting he had with them in Tulkarm on December 27.
The report on this came via TPS; I make the assumption that Shtayyeh, when addressing the activists, spoke in Arabic (emphasis added):
“We are focusing on the consulate because we want an American address that will take care of Palestinian affairs and form the nucleus of an American embassy in Palestine and express the recognition that Jerusalem is occupied Arab land.”
The consulate in question is on Agron Street in western Jerusalem, the part of the capital that those who advocate dividing the city insist would be Israeli.
Shtayyeh’s words put the lie to this. I’ve read statements like this from him before. Every now and then he and other PA leaders let the truth slip: They want ALL of Jerusalem; they believe it all belongs to them and should be their capital.
This is not something we can afford to forget. You know what they say about giving an inch (or a centimeter).
Unfortunately, it seems that our minister of defense Benny Gantz is prepared to give not just a centimeter, but, figuratively, several meters.
Tuesday night, January 28, the news broke that Gantz was hosting the PA’s Mahmoud Abbas in his home in Rosh Ha’Ayin. This rang bells. What? I wondered. Is he planning on serving Abbas tea and crumpets? This was the first meeting inside of Israel between Abbas and a major Israeli official in 11 years. An army base or an office would not have sufficed as the venue? This was all too cozy.
The following day, Ze’ev Elkin – who left Likud to join Sa’ar’s New Hope party, which is in the coalition – observed that the meeting was not necessary at all because there is continuous contact with the PA.
“I would not invite to my home a person who pays salaries to those who murder Israelis,” he said.
According to a communique from the Defense Ministry, the meeting was held to address “a number of security and civilian topics: advancing confidence-building measures in economic and civilian areas.” Gantz had “emphasized the parties’ shared interest in deepening security coordination, maintaining regional stability and preventing terror and violence.” (Emphasis added)
Is he for real? Abbas interested in preventing terror? Well, yes. For a price. And that’s what it is all about. Appeasing Abbas sufficiently so that he (hopefully) reins in terror.
The next day it became apparent what Gantz offered in hopes of staving off “terror and violence.”
“The benefits package, which the Defense Ministry described as a series of ‘confidence-building measures,’ includes advances for tax payments collected by Israel on the PA’s behalf, amounting to 100 million shekels and status approvals on a humanitarian basis for 6,000 residents of Judea and Samaria, and an additional status approval for 3,500 Gaza residents.” (Emphasis added)
This is both intolerable, and, in my opinion, very stupid. Gantz is one of those who do not realize that concessions make us appear weak and thus invite more terror, not less. Apparently he chose to take seriously Abbas’s statement that that he would not support a return to violence in the West Bank “even if a gun was held to my head.” Right…
Threats of terror are utilized by the PA to control Israel. Note the warning Abbas delivered at the same time that he was declaring he would not support terror: “changes to the religious status quo on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem could lead to an ‘unstoppable’ escalation.”
“Unstoppable” means that even he would not be able to control it. But this is just one more distortion of the truth: The reality is that the PA stokes Arab anger about “Al Aksa,” putting out all sorts of fallacious warnings about how Israel is about to destroy their mosque. Abbas makes this threat because experience tells him it works.
Abbas’s threat to Gantz regarding the Temple Mount may have been motivated by a discussion that ensued at a meeting of the Knesset’s Public Security Committee on Monday. The meeting had been initiated by MKs Amichai Chikli (Yamina), Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionists), and Miki Zohar (Likud),
together with the “Beyadenu – Returning to the Temple Mount” organization, in order to examine the discrimination endured by Jews with regard to the Temple Mount.
“MK Simcha Rothman accused the police of ‘acting as a contractor for a terrorist organization. Your job is not to maintain the quiet but to uphold the law. The Jews do not break the law. Your solution to keep Jews away [to avoid violence] is illegitimate. A Jew who ascends the Temple Mount cannot tolerate harassment. The discrimination on the mountain and its recent aggravation must stop.’”
Right on, Simcha! The police practice of limiting the Jewish presence on the Mount whenever violence is threatened is intolerable.
I am not so naïve as to think the entire situation on the Mount is about to change because the Committee is considering this issue now. But I find it hopeful that it is being considered. Please Heaven, we may be headed in a good direction on this.
So it’s not all bad as we move into 2022. Predictions as to how matters will go are close to impossible. Gantz’s move was applauded on the left by Meretz, and roundly criticized on the right.
And where was Prime Minister Bennett (self-proclaimed “right-winger”) in the midst of all of this? First I read that he gave his approval, and then that he was opposed. Gil Hoffman, JPost political analyst, explained that Bennett told associates that he was opposed but couldn’t stop it. So who’s in charge here? Caroline Glick is on the mark when she refers to Bennett as an “empty suit.”
The US State Department spokesman Ned Price declared the US “very pleased” that Gantz hosted Abbas at his home. We would not have expected anything else. Was anticipation that this would be the case a motivating factor for Gantz?
Deputy Minster Abir Kara (Yamina) says the coalition will collapse if there is a “peace process.”
“I will also dismantle the government over the evacuation of settlements. The days of land for peace are over…I know we will not be able to implement Israeli law over Judea and Samaria, but you can be sure that we will not evacuate an inch of one of the existing settlements.” (Emphasis added)
Speaking of settlements, I close with this information:
Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, head of the New Hope party, on Tuesday voiced support for legalizing Homesh.
“A Jew was recently murdered [when leaving] Homesh by Islamic Jihad and in my opinion we must not go and clear the yeshiva at the moment.
“There is an extremist terror organization that committed a murder and if the yeshiva is evacuated, it could be interpreted as an ‘achievement’ for the same terror organization.”
When he was asked if he supported legalizing Homesh, he replied, “I’m in favor.”
This, too, is tentative (“at the moment”). Yet it marks a small movement in the right direction. I will venture to say that Homesh will not be dismantled now. This is cause for celebration – and it would be cause for even greater celebration if it were to be regulated.
The larger question is whether Sa’ar, who also claims to be right-wing, would remain in the coalition if a “two-state solution” were to be advanced.
So New Year’s Eve is upon us. Aside from the fact that it comes on a Friday night, which precludes much celebration by observant Jews, I would humbly suggest that celebration is not in order in any event. A terrible year is going out, but we don’t know yet what will be coming in.
Pray, my friends, with all your hearts.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.