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September 29, 2009: Post Yom Kippur

October 22, 2009

I hope that everyone who observed Yom Kippur yesterday found peace and a spiritual high.
Now we head for the most joyous of holidays:  Sukkot, which begins Friday night and lasts until Saturday night a week later here in Israel, and a day longer in Galut — outside of Israel. 
Please know that, while I will post a couple of times this week, it is unlikely that I will during the holiday.
For anyone who makes phone calls from N. America to Israel, be aware that we have ended summer time and are only 6 hours ahead of you now.
I thank all of those who wrote to inform me that the e-mail form which I had shared for Congressman Tom  Price — who had sent a letter of support to PM Netanyahu — is available only to his constituents. 
There are several alternative ways of reaching him:
There is another e-mail address: tom@mail.house.gov (thanks, Helen F). 
Fax him in Washington at 202-225-4656 (thanks, Sandor and Bunny).
E-mail Paul Teller, executive director of the House Republican Study Group that Price chairs:   Paul.Teller@mail.house.gov. Explain that you had trouble reaching the Congressman directly but wish to thank him. (Because I have contact with him, that is what I did.)
Congressman Price will be pleased to know that you understand that there are friends of Israel in Congress who do not think as Obama does.  Such friends need to know they are appreciated.
I want to share a fascinating brief video clip of PM Netanyahu giving an interview right after his UN talk last week (thanks, Minka).
Barry Rubin had a piece in today’s Post, in which he maintains that Obama has now swung away from a anti-Israel approach to something a bit more “evenhanded.”  While I do not agree with everything Rubin says, I found some of the points he makes in this particular piece quite interesting:
Rubin acknowledges forthrightly that there have been many negative influences on Obama with regard to his attitude toward Israel, most significantly:
“Indoctrinated by the far left into the Third World, ‘anti-imperialist’ narrative, Obama disliked Israel and saw it as evil, taught by such people as Rashid Khalidi, an Edward Said acolyte and Palestinian propagandist, and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an outright anti-Semite.”
Had matters gone otherwise, he says, the disaster many people foresaw might indeed have taken place.  But, he maintains, there have been some intervening variables that have shifted the situation:
[] Obama learned that being anti-Israel was a political liability. As a political animal, he knew this required a shift.
[] Congressional members (bless them!) are exhibiting a pro-Israel stance — which, after a period of silence, has increased as Obama’s popularity has decreased.  As he needs them for support on other issues, he prefers not to cross them in great measure on this matter. (This makes our communication with Congresspersons all the more important.)
[] “…as always, intransigence on the Arab and Palestinian side was so extreme that even the Obama administration couldn’t ignore it. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas was absolutely so uncooperative with Obama, throwing away an incredible strategic opportunity.  Obama thought Arab states would fall in line behind him — especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia — but they refused to help.  It is said that his meeting with the Saudi king, who went into an anti-Israel diatribe, was a particular shock….”
So here we see that Obama’s pie-in-the-sky plans have come smack up against reality.  He will not admit it publicly, but it has to be dawning on him that it is not Israel that is the problem. 
If there were no other evidence, this alone would stand to demonstrate that the Palestinians in particular and the Arabs more generally do not want a Palestinian state (certainly not one “living side by side in peace with Israel”).  For they were working with the most pro-Arab US president of all times, and had they cooperated with him, he would have moved in many ways on their behalf.  What they want is Israel’s destruction.
[] And then this:
“[Obama’s] attempts to pressure Israel failed, thanks to the Israeli government. A key factor here was the tough, superb maneuvering of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu…
“The government could not possibly have handled Obama better.”  (Emphasis is mine.)
This is where “playing the game” while drawing red lines paid off.  I know that ideological purists would have preferred that Netanyahu would said that we won’t sit with the Palestinians, but this worked better. Yes, he said, he’ll talk to Abbas without pre-conditions.  Yes, we all want to work for peace. But it’s reasonable to demand that the PA state be demilitarized, and that the Palestinians accept Israel as the Jewish state, and that we retain control of Jerusalem.  All non-starters from the PA side, which has demonstrated its total intransigence.
And so, once again, I provide here contact information for Netanyahu, so that you are able to thank him and encourage him:
Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369) 

Phone: 03-610-9898 (From the US: 011-972-3-610-9898) 

E-mail:  pm_eng2@it.pmo.gov.il (underscore after pm)


Returning to Rubin.  Among the evidence he offers that Obama is not tilting so very anti-Israel any longer: 

[] Mention of Israel as a Jewish state in his UN address. 

[] A change on settlement demands — not freeze but “restraint.” 

[] Continued US-Israel joint military exercises. 

[] An emphasis on the need for talks without pre-conditions “thus specifically rejecting the Palestinian demand — which originated with him [Obama] — of a settlement freeze first.”

 [] Not echoing the Arab demand that Israel join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.  



So we start the New Year with hope, and a sense of gratitude, and resolve to stay strong. 


A word here about the demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.  

It is Arab policy to attempt to undermine the very Jewishness of our state, including from within.  (There are Israeli-Arab organizations that claim it’s “prejudicial” for us to have Jewish symbols in the state.) One possible tactic of the Palestinians is to recognize “Israel,” but then attempt to push through “return of refugees” so that ultimately what is called “Israel” would become — G-d forbid — an Arab majority nation.  The prime minister’s demand stands against this. 

Even more importantly, at an ideological/religious level, the Arabs don’t accept our existence here. This is at the core of the conflict. Allowing the Jews to have a state in the midst of “Muslim” land is anathema to the Arabs.  This demand, that we be recognized as officially Jewish, exposes this attitude.  It should be a simple thing, yes?  A Palestinian state for Palestinian Arabs, Israel for Jews.  But the Palestinians will never agree to this.  

Perhaps in time people will begin to wonder exactly why — and begin to get it.  But in the meantime, as long as this is a basic demand for negotiating a Palestinian state, it, de facto, assures that there won’t be one for the simple reason that the Arabs are not sincere.  


In the hours before Yom Kippur, riots took place, first on the Temple Mount, and then spreading to the Old City.  This was precipitated by the visit of a group of 15 Jews, accompanied by a police escort, to the Temple Mount. Muslim worshippers on the Mount threw stones at the visitors and police alike. 

As tensions on the Mount — which was closed off to worshippers — subsided, riots began in the Old City.  Apparently rumors were spread of an “invasion” on the Mount by “settlers.”  Such claims are common, especially by radical Islamic Arabs in Israel — seeking a way to foment trouble. 

By Sunday night (the beginning of Yom Kippur!), rioting had spread to the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Isawiya, where police reported some 20 firebombs. 

This is an issue of enormous importance.  The Arabs maintain that the Mount is “theirs” and that any Jewish presence represents a provocation.  

Unfortunately, Israel (specifically Moshe Dayan) “fed” this illusion when we took the Mount in 1967 (from Jordan, not “Palestinians”) and then — being the “good guys” and generous — promptly allowed the Muslim Wakf (trust) to assume supervision of day-to-day Mount activities (under our jurisdiction), as the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa Mosque are on the Mount.  That was an act of enormous innocence (or enormous foolishness), as it was presumed that this sharing would be appreciated and good will reciprocated.

It must never be forgotten that the Mount is the most revered of Jewish sites: the locality of a wealth of Jewish tradition going back to Torah, and the place where the Temples stood.  We did not GIVE them the Mount.  Not only, in real terms, is it sacred, it is also a symbol of our ancient Jewish nationhood. 

There have been governments that allowed Arab desecration of archeological ruins to take place on the Mount without intervening for fear of Arab rioting.  So shockingly ludicrous is the situation that Jews are forbidden to pray on the Mount. 


Said PA negotiator Saeb Erekat with regard to this incident:  

“At a time when President Obama is trying to bridge the divide between Palestinians and Israelis, and to get negotiations back on track, Israel is deliberately escalating tensions in Jerusalem. 

“We’ve seen this before, and we know what the consequences are.”    

Undoubtedly, Erekat was referring to the perfectly legal and reasonably managed visit (with a nod from PA security) of Ariel Sharon to the Mount in 2000, which was used as a pretext for choreographed violence that began the Second Intifada. 


IMRA today carries a press release by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights with regard to this incident.


Dr. Aaron Lerner, director of IMRA, comments: 

“If anyone thought that it was possible to work out some kind of arrangement that relied on the Arabs to act in a pluralistic manner in anything relating to the Temple Mount then take a look at what the leading secular Palestinian human rights NGO has to say about an incident in which some non-Moslems being escorted on a visit to the Temple Mount were pelted with rocks by Moslems.” 

Said the press release:
“The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the Israeli government’s decision to allow Jewish settler groups to enter the yards of the al-Aksa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem…
“…East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian Territories that were occupied by Israel following the June 1967 war.

“…Measures taken by Israeli occupation authorities following the occupation of the city, in the foremost, the Israeli Knesset’s decision on 28 June 1967 to annex the city, its decision on 30 July 1980 considering ‘complete and united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel’ and the decision to expand the municipal boundaries, are flagrant violations of international law and United Nations resolutions.
“…PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, jointly or individually, to fulfill their legal and moral obligations to ensure Israel’s respect for the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) according to Article 1 of the Convention, and believes that the international silence and inaction encourage Israel to act as a State above law and perpetrate more violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law, including efforts intended to establish a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem.”
Our stand against such nonsense must be strong.

“The Good News Corner”
I was charmed by this and hope you will be, as well. Before Yom Kippur, YNet put out a piece regarding Israel’s most beautiful synagogues.  Because it was before the holiday, it includes times of services and such, which are now irrelevant.  But if you scroll past this, you will see some absolutely stunning, and very varied, synagogue interiors.
Part of what makes it special is precisely that variation, which is the result of the ingathering of the people:  the various cultures that developed for Jews in different places, Jews now come home.  So you see a Chasidic shul, and a synagogue with Indian (Cochin) flavor, Caucasian, and Tunisian, etc.
Skim all the way down, and enjoy:



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