I am sitting at my computer, trying to make heads or tails of various events here in Israel and elsewhere, and boy is it tough! There’s not a whole lot of clarity right now.
But I’m going to lead off with a good news piece. This one is a bit personal, but it shines a light on who we are:
A young man I am close to is studying in a hesder yeshiva (a yeshiva that combines religious text study and army service) in the hills of Samaria. He told me recently that he had been up for a whole night the week before.
“Studying?” I asked. That would be a plausible assumption. But no, he told me he was guarding sheep. (Picture is just illustrative)
Well, it seems a man who lives near the yeshiva has a herd of sheep, and unless they are guarded all night Arabs come and steal them. (This is a statement of fact, folks.) The man, financially unable to hire full-time guards, stays up at night to watch his sheep. But he cannot do it every night, it’s too exhausting. And so, sometimes students from the yeshiva go out to help. They do this with the sanction of the rosh yeshiva (head of the yeshiva, a highly respected rabbi).
And there’s more. Samaria is a grape-growing region that has developed quite a reputation for its wines. When grapes ripen, they must be picked at the peak of their flavor, or they will not produce the best wine. Here too, the owners of some of the vineyards manage on modest means. They do not have the wherewithal to hire groups of pickers. And so, in September, when the grapes are ripe, this same rosh yeshiva tells his students: “Leave your books, go pick grapes.”
Do the students get paid for this, I asked. “No,” said this young man. “Sometimes they make us a barbecue.”
Learning how to be good Jews in the hills of Samaria.
Then I want to look backwards by two weeks to the 29th of November (Kaf-Tet b’November). So much was happening that I moved past reference to this date, but I believe clarification is in order.
November 29th, 1947 was the day on which the General Assembly of the UN passed Resolution 181 – which is referred to as the “Partition plan” – a plan for dividing Palestine into one state for the Jews and another for the Arabs.
At the time, the Jews of Palestine celebrated – even dancing in the street – because this represented international recognition for the founding of a Jewish state.
And in some circles it is still viewed this way. However, there are several significant points to be made:
Resolutions of the General Assembly are only recommendations and carry no weight in international law. This recommendation would have had legal grounding only if both parties had agreed and between them decided upon a border. But this did not happen. The Jews accepted the recommendation, but the Arabs refused. Thus, the Mandate for Palestine,a binding document in international law – which accorded the Jewish people the land of Palestine for a homeland – remained unchanged.
Some Arabs want to go back now to this time and claim “their” half of Palestine. This is legal sophistry and untenable on all counts.
There are those who imagine that this resolution “founded” the modern state of Israel. This is also untrue. Modern Israel was founded with the Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948. This act rested upon the Mandate for Palestine, of 1922, which stated that “recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” The legal precursor to this was the San Remo Resolution, of 1920, which drew upon the Balfour Declaration, of 1917.
With regard to Amona and the status of the Regulation Bill, there is still a situation of flux:
Residents of Amona announced a couple of days ago that they were preparing for “resistance” to the evacuation. Not a happy prospect. I am with these residents all the way, and know that their rights are being ignored.
I recommend that you read and widely share this highly informative blog “Everything you wanted to know about the Amona case but were afraid to ask.” It provides a powerful perspective on what is wrong with the current situation and why the Amona residents feel as they do (emphasis added):
“Officials in the Attorney General’s office have already admitted that the petitions submitted by the leftist organizations Yesh Din and Peace Now were not motivated by a desire to protect the property rights of the oppressed Palestinians, but were rather submitted in the context of ‘lawfare’ — legal warfare aimed at promoting the interests of Palestinians, the purpose which is to force Israel to unilaterally withdraw from Israel’s heartland without an agreement…
“When the Amona case reached the High Court of Justice, the Land Registrar of the Civil Administration maintained that although Amona was a bare, rocky, abandoned hilltop, its land was registered as private land, meaning that the Jordanian government had registered the land in the name of the local sheikhs and clans. Amona initially argued that the Jordanian registration was not legally binding because the Jordanian occupation had never been recognized by any country other than the United Kingdom and Pakistan…further adding that the land records did not provide evidence of actual ownership, which would be reflected in agricultural cultivation of the land, but that the land was registered as a form of bribery to serve the political interests of the Jordanian government. However, these claims were not relevant because the court took no interest in them, but only wanted to know what the state’s position was…”
There are changes in the system that must be made to ensure justice in our land. But physical resistance by the residents will not change the situation for them now, and my fear is one of violence. Violence of Jew against Jew is obscene and heartbreaking. Not to mention counterproductive. The world loves this, and we shouldn’t give it to them.
Not everyone agrees with me, I know. But MK Yehuda Glick (Likud), a staunch right-winger, is one of many who do:
“If Amona’s residents want to do the right thing and emerge as the victors, they would pack up and move by agreement.
“They would contribute a million times more to Judaism than by unnecessary clashes with security forces. Don’t do it!”
Subsequently, the residents announced – I am not claiming it’s because of what Glick and others said; perhaps, but I don’t know – that the “resistance” would be peaceful.
At the same time, hundreds of border police and soldiers have been training on an army base for the day of the Amona evacuation. That brings knots to the stomach. In 2006, when there was a partial evacuation of Amona, the police dealt with the situation with excessive force. Painful, both literally and figuratively.
Now, it has been announced that there would be no horses used in the evacuation, as was the case last time. This in and of itself represents a de-escalation in their tactics.
What it is comforting to learn about – and what I hope indeed does comfort the residents and reassure them at some level – is that nationalist members of the Knesset – primarily from Habayit Hayehudi – and members of the nationalist community, especially in Judea and Samaria, are rallying, not to help with “resistance,” but to help them cope with being moved out of their homes. There is considerable effort being expended, with concern for what they will need when they are moved out.
There are social workers on the scene. And there is talk about government compensation for the homes and property they will have left.
Caravans are being prepared for them to move into, in a neighboring community, reportedly in nearby Ofra – with talk (unconfirmed) that a permanent community would be established seven miles north at Shvut Rachel. But even the caravans are not yet ready and for this reason the prime minister is once again asking the Court for an additional 30 days in which to prepare.
There is another reason I pray that the evacuation is delayed: As it is currently ordered, it falls on the first day of Chanukah. How ugly for the community’s children. The trauma to the children of the 42 families living there should be the first concern.
There is talk of our being a nation of law. And indeed. But Jewish law must also have heart.
The Regulation bill has passed its first reading in the Knesset, with two more required.
This bill which would offer protection to tens of thousands of other residents of communities in Judea and Samaria who built in good faith, and with some assistance by government agencies, and subsequently were told, or face the prospect of being told, that they were on “Palestinian” land. In these cases, instead of enforced demolition of homes, there would be 125% compensation payment to the Arab owners who document their claims.
In its current formulation the law does not apply to Amona nor to a small number of houses in a few other places – Netiv Avot (in Elazar), Ofra and Eli – where there have already been Court orders regarding demolition.
Those promoting this legislation had hoped to see a speedy second and third reading. But Netanyahu is trying mightily to delay this until after January 20, so that Trump would be in the White House. He continues to exhibit considerable concern about a vindictive response by Obama in the UN.
Concern about Obama is an interesting thing. Clearly, if the Regulation law is in process, Obama knows what’s coming. But there is some feeling, nonetheless, that if the final passage of the bill is scheduled to take place after Obama is out of office, then he will not see this as a personal affront and thus will not respond vigorously now.
Whatever the concerns of our prime minister, however, he is, in my opinion, carrying this caution about Obama to ludicrous extremes. Yesterday, in a “60 minutes” interview, he declared (emphasis added):
“I know Donald Trump. I know him very well. And I think his attitude, his support for Israel is clear. He feels very warmly about the Jewish state, about the Jewish people…
“I’m willing to negotiate with [the Palestinian Authority] at any moment. I haven’t reversed my position…Two states for two peoples…. that’s where I’m focused.
“I’d like to have President Trump, when he gets into the White House, help me work on that…”
No way! Did he really say this now? Yup, he did.
There is considerable debate about whether Netanyahu really wants two states. I’m not going to go there. Even if he does, the timing of this statement is clearly calculated – and aimed towards the current resident of the White House: Don’t worry, Barry, don’t be concerned about the Regulation law. I’m still going to promote two states. No need to get tough with us at the UN.
Now, if you want to talk about being unable to make heads or tails of our situation, consider this, please.
NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman – who engages regularly in fierce one-sided critiques of Israel and has consistently promoted the “two state solution” – also gave an interview last week. And he said, in response to his interviewer telling him that people say he doesn’t understand what’s going on in Jerusalem (emphasis added):
“Maybe they’re right, and I’m perfectly open to that. Maybe Israel will be better off in fact with a one-state solution. Maybe that is the only solution left…
“I understand the security environment, I’ve lived in the Arab world and I’m not ignorant…
“If Israel were stock, I would buy it. Because in the age of acceleration, I think it has a lot of very strong attributes to thrive. But it lives in a neighborhood were you’re going to see a lot of collapsing states….”
No way! Did Thomas Friedman – who just a little over a year ago, outrageously claimed that “Israel plays, when it has to, by what I’ve called ‘Hama rules’ — war without mercy…it will not be deterred by the threat of civilian Arab casualties…” – say this? Yup, he did.
But wait, I’m not done yet. We also have the leftist novelist A.B. Yehoshua who said just days ago:
”We need to start it from Jerusalem. The East Jerusalem Palestinians become citizens.
“The second phase should give citizenship to the 100 thousand Palestinians living in Area C, with social security, minimum wage and equality before the court.
“These are difficult things for a person like me who went with a different vision, but reality requires an answer.”
What he’s talking about here is annexation by Israel of Area C. The original was in Hebrew and this is a translation put up on IMRA by Aaron Lerner.
This is the same A.B. Yehoshua who, two years ago, called on Europe to recognize a Palestinian state, saying this was “a moral and existential act not only for the Palestinians, but first and foremost for the Israelis themselves”?
Yup. One and the same.
Folks, we are looking at a major shift. It’s just that some are slow or reluctant to recognize this. France, for example.
The French are still determined to hold their international peace conference in Paris on December 21, Israel’s refusal to attend notwithstanding. Crazy, because without Israeli participation there would be not even a glimmer of hope of progress. Netanyahu – viewing such a conference as counterproductive, and concerned about providing Abbas with a venue for grandstanding – maintains that only direct negotiations have a chance of being successful.
So the French tried another gambit: they invited Netanyahu to come to Paris and meet with Abbas a day after the conference. Nothing doing, replied Netanyahu: This would be viewed as part of the conference. If the French cancelled the conference, he countered, then he would come to meet Abbas in Paris for direct talks without preconditions.
The French weren’t interested.
The irony here is that France, inundated with radical Muslims, is hardly in a position to be an honest broker. What is more, in light of those radical Muslims, France would be better advised to turn inward to solve its own problems, rather then trying to fix what they perceive to be our problems. Talk about grandstanding. This is a diversion for them.
Speaking of Abbas…
The Fatah Central Committee held a conference at the beginning of this month, for the first time since 2009. For all of the talk of a turnover and Abbas being pushed out, that did not happen. But what I would say is that this is hardly the end of the story.
Abbas was re-elected as head of Fatah on the first day of the conference. Mohammad Dahlan, long time challenger to Abbas, who currently lives in Dubai, was sidelined.
In the election for seats on the Committee, Marwan Barghouti, who is serving multiple life sentences in an Israeli prison for terrorism, received the most votes. This tells us all we need to know about Fatah: This multiple-murderer and planner of terror attacks is their most admired leader.
Following him in vote count was Jabil Rajoub, former head of PA preventative security in Judea and Samaria, and not exactly “mister nice guy” either. Now heading the Palestinian Football Association (a front for a variety of political activities), he has close ties to Hamas, and to Qatar.
Rajoub, whose camp in the Central Committee is strengthening, is likely to be the Committee’s secretary general. And then, keep your eye on him to become Abbas’s successor. This is not going to result in a more moderate PA, rest assured.
In the last several days there have been two strikes inside Syria launched by Israel. In late November, Israel killed four terrorists associated with ISIS, in the Syrian Golan, after IDF soldiers came under fire from them.
The second attack, last Wednesday, according to Lebanese and Syrian websites, hit the Mezzeh Military Aiport outside of Damascus, causing a series of explosions.
The veiled reference to this attack by Minister of Defense Lieberman was that: “We are first and foremost making efforts to maintain the security of our citizens and protect our sovereignty, and trying to protect the smuggling of sophisticated weapons, military equipment and weapons of mass destruction from Syria to Hezbollah.”
Sometimes there is a lack of clarity as to the location from which Israel has launched rockets – across the border from Israeli territory, or from an aircraft that has crossed into Syrian or Lebanese airspace. In the latter attack, it does seem that an Israel jet entered Syrian airspace.
This situation is an on-going one, and has actually escalated, as Iran has had the largesse to provide Hezbollah with additional assistance because of the Obama-inspired sanctions relief.
Please see this very important article by Caroline Glick on the issue – and on the critical need to secure assistance from the Trump administration in cutting back the threat.
Prayer for the State of Israel:
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.