Beyond the Cusp

May 18, 2015

A Test of True Zionism, Yerushalayim

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The true test of a Zionist and of Zionism generally lies with the answer to a single question, where does your heart lie when you think of a Jewish State. There is but one acceptable answer, ‘My heart lies with Jerusalem and with the building within of the Temple, the Throne of G0d.’ This is true as we proclaim every year at the end of our Passover Seder in every Jewish home, “Next year in Jerusalem.” The final truth lies within Psalms in the powerful words within the lines to the “Song of Babylon” written in Psalm 137 which reads:

1) By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
2) Upon the willows in the midst thereof we hanged up our harps.
3) For there they that led us captive asked of us words of song, and our tormentors asked of us mirth.
4) How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land?
5) If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
6) Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I fail to count Jerusalem the greatest of all my joys.
7) Remember, O LORD, against the children of Edom the day of Jerusalem; who said: ‘Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation thereof.’
8) O daughter of Babylon, you will be destroyed! A blessing on anyone who pays you back for the way you treated us!
9) A blessing on anyone who seizes your babies and smashes them against a rock!

This is the test which the new Israeli government led by Prime Minister Netanyahu as there will be calls from much of Europe and the Western World with a few notable exceptions; Canada will oppose such a demand be lain upon Israel for as long as Stephen Harper remains their Prime Minister and likely carried on for as long as his Conservative Party holds on to power in the Canadian elections. There is also a strong possibility that Great Britain will also not favor the division of Jerusalem providing the Israelis put forward a strong face of determination to never allow the dividing of their Capital City or the loss of the Temple Mount and all the importance which that holds. Other than these two it would fall to any conservative or traditional party to take the lead for any other nation to oppose such a demand. The crux of why this may become an immediate crisis belongs to President Barack Obama who as the leader of the United States will be left to direct and dictate the manner that United States Ambassador Samantha Power will vote and whether or not she would utilize the United States veto power to block any Security Council Resolutions which would call for Israel to return to the Green Line which describes the armistice lines from the 1948 – 1949 War launched by over a half dozen Arab States to annihilate the nascent State of Israel which divided Jerusalem. Many wish to demand that Israel grant Eastern Jerusalem to the Arabs to use as the capital for their state, ignoring the fact that Israel annexed the entirety of Jerusalem after reuniting the two halves of Jerusalem in 1967 and by doing so included all the Arab residents who had resided under the Jordanian occupation permanent resident status which makes the individual to hold all rights as an Israeli citizen with the exception of political rights. The Israelis actually are only required to grant any Arabs or other non-Jews all rights but withhold political rights according to the San Remo Conference and the British Mandate, both included as valid by the United Nations Charter in Article 80. Israel went as far as to grant the former Jordanian citizens who were included in the reunification annexation of Eastern Jerusalem partial political rights when they were permitted voting rights in Jerusalem city elections. This one further indication proving that all of Jerusalem belongs to Israel and it will never be permitted peaceably to be torn in half; to this too do we say “Never Again!”

 

Any government which would permit the division of Jerusalem will find itself on the wrong side of the people of Israel who in polling have supported and demanded that Jerusalem remain unified and the Capital City of Israel for this time and forevermore into the future and never ending usually surpassing 75% and even reaching over 90% in numerous local polling. Thus we can easily conclude that any platform which supports the division of Jerusalem as one of their main planks in their platform can forget gaining a majority no matter what their social programs or other money promised to particular groups in order to convert their opposition to splitting Jerusalem muted while they are a part of the coalition such a party might manage to make. The problem is that such a government would be extremely unstable for as soon as a vote came to permit the splitting of Jerusalem or the making of Jerusalem an ‘International City’ presumably managed and run by an agency of the United Nations the promises made not to vote against such a resolution brought before the Knesset would probably not be honored by a significant number of Ministers from such parties who would vote against any such resolution. Furthermore, the Israeli Supreme Court has recognized the annexation of Jerusalem and thus they also might step in to invalidate anything passed through the Knesset and signed by the Prime Minister making any such deal void and without support by the government without opposing the Supreme Court and facing dissolution of the government and new elections. This would place the central issue of the ensuing campaign the division of Jerusalem and losing any possibility that the rights of Jews to visit holy sites in the Old City and around and on the Temple Mount as once the Arabs have control over Eastern Jerusalem such attempts by Jews to visit these sights would result in their death as soon as they were identified. This situation itself, and such extremes required to visit other holy sites described above, are sufficient to reject any proposal for peace which would preclude access by any Israeli to the Temple Mount or the numerous holy sites of Judea and Samaria.

 

That brings up the other point which is often claimed about the universality of the holy sites and their access being guaranteed for all peoples. This was part of the claim made when the IDF was pulled from Hevron and the majority of the city was relegated to Arab control. This required the strong presence of Israeli security personnel to keep the Cave of the Patriarchs, the Cave of Machpelah, in order to make it safe for Israelis to visit this holy site. The worst case scenario comes from Joseph’s Tomb, Kever Yoseph (Hebrew: קבר יוסף) which is located in the outskirts of Nablus and is completely within Arab areas of control, as they enjoy an almost completely autonomous region within the parts of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) of Area A and B, which according to all agreements is a place of holy pilgrimage or visitation for prayers and other religious purposes and is set apart as to be made available and safe passage to and from this holy place of great importance to the Jews. The reality is something completely different. There is one visit permitted each month, with permitted being very loosely defined, which is arranged by the IDF were one or two busses, heavily armored made bullet proof and strongly reinforced to withstand mines, and a convoy of IDF troops fully armed for security who escort the few fortunate visitors to the tomb somewhat after midnight and steal away back to the safety of Israeli governed lands making very sure they have left at least an hour before sunrise. Even with this covert action there have been times when the convoy was set upon and for reasons of security the trip is cancelled and a retreat to safety becomes the main objective. The trip can be cancelled right before they were to depart if IDF intelligence reports that trouble such as an ambush is a definitive probability. Part of the time spent at each visit is used to cleanup and repair as much of the destruction done to the tomb since the previous month’s visit, whether it was a single month or three or more months since the last visit. The tomb is violated every time after the Israelis try to make it presentable and given the honor it deserves and the Arabs apparently do similarly but have little respect or honor felt towards Kever Yoseph.

 

The manner and security required for visits to Joseph’s tomb, Rachel’s Tomb, Kever Rachel (Hebrew: קבר רחל), which is a place where women will visit for special prayers the first of each Hebrew calendar month and also require heavy security as it is located northern outskirts of Bethlehem which is within the disputed areas and under shared Arab and Israeli security and Arab semi-autonomous rule and this often leads to the Jewish women being assaulted with rocks and other items hurled at them which most often do not strike within the high walls placed around Rachel’s grave and the women are completely safe within the rebuilt dome which grants them freedom from assault as they pray and neaten the area making the tomb a more honored place. This would be the requirement and limitations placed on the Temple Mount and the Western and other walls of the Temple Mount, the final point of defense in days which are hopefully permanently behind us as Jerusalem deserves a future free of strife and sacking as has been its unfortunate history and may Jerusalem never again feel deserted by her faithful servants whose hearts are gladdened by a visit to her ancient walls and its grasping for a degree of modernity. Israel must demand that all of Jerusalem remain under complete Israeli rule as it has only been since June 1967 that every religion is permitted their rights to visit the Temple Mount and witness the city, both its centuries old buildings intermixed in areas with modern structure thankfully mostly in a style which has them more blend than clash with their surroundings. Let us end with the most remembered lines from Psalm 137 lines 5 and 6 as they speak strongly and resonate at least in this Israeli’s heart, mind and especially and primarily my soul.

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I fail to count Jerusalem the greatest of all my joys.

 

Beyond the Cusp

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July 25, 2013

The Israel I Learned in Bible Class in my Youth

Over the years we covered the stories in the Old Testament, also called the Jewish Bible, and were taught many stories about the ancient Hebrews and Israelites as they were known depending on which period of ancient Jewish history you are talking about. There were also the biblical figures whose nationality was left unstated or other than one of the ancient names used by the earliest Jews. One well known example being Noah who while being a believer and obedient follower of G0d was not Jewish as he predates Abraham who is the father of the Jewish religion. We were also taught that in many ways the real originator of Judaism as we know it today was Moses who is referred to as the law-giver as he gave the Jews the Ten Commandments and the Torah in which are contained the laws which Jews are to observe. What fascinated me were the stories of the Israelites once they had settled in the Promised Lands and their struggles and how they seemed to be constantly falling away from following their Commandments only to face hardships which often took the form of outside civilizations invading their lands and how when facing defeat or other hardships they would find their way back to following the path laid out for them by G0d through His Laws. As with any young boy, I was always most interested in their battles and the tactics and maneuvers they used to repel or defend against these invaders.

 

There was one feature of almost all of these battles which strikes me as being of paramount importance to modern times and the problems concerning Israel and the constant demands that they surrender lands to the Arabs, Bedouins, Palestinians or whomever. The one constant in these battles were the Judean Hills which the ancient Israelites used to great advantage as it seemed that everybody who invaded used chariots and heavily armored infantry while the Israelites utilized archers, slingers, and mostly light infantry. When your strength is mobility and speed and the other army uses brute force and heavy equipment, then you pick the worst terrain you can find in which to confront them. The other tactical weapon the ancient Israelites would use was to try fight holding the invaders off and not directly engaging them until the seasons of rain were upon the lands making chariots next to useless. Apparently their lands had a tendency to become swamp-like which made the use of even horses difficult and often defeated every advantage the invaders normally enjoyed.

 

Then there was the most famous stronghold, Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a great walled city that had the most wonderful secret that enabled it to hold out against sieges, a culvert that was dug, concealed underground, which brought fresh spring waters into the city supplying the one absolute necessity, water. This not only provided drinking water but water for all purposes and apparently Jerusalem had enormous stores of grains and foods kept by the Priests within the Temple complex. Jerusalem also had tunnels that allowed raids to be loosed on any siege force which would come seemingly out of nowhere, strike, and disappear almost as fast as they had appeared never leaving any traceable signs. It is little wonder that Jerusalem was not conquered as frequently as most other cities. Add to the mystique that is the history of Jerusalem the fascinating tale of how King David as a warrior led a small band into the city by the very channel which supplied water to conquer the prize that became the eternal Capital City for the Jewish People from that day forward. Jerusalem was far more than just the Capital City and fortress of last resort, Jerusalem was the cultural and religious center of the Israelites. It was the central hub that wed the twelve tribes into one peoples. This was where three times every year every Jew would make their pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the three Jewish pilgrimage holidays, Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. Much of Jewish life, customs, and religious observance in the ancient times revolved around the Temple in Jerusalem. There are many of the six-hundred-thirteen commandments which are at the core of Jewish belief which pertain solely to the Temple and the rituals which must be carried out in the holy place. Some pertain to daily, weekly, or monthly observances and others to particular services attached to certain holidays. Until the Jews are permitted to erect the Third Temple these commandments go unfulfilled.

 

There is one story which I found particularly unusual and it has to do with the initial conquest of the lands from the Canaanites at the beginning of Israelite history after the Exodus from slavery in ancient Egypt, and it pertains to right before they received their last instructions from Moses, as he would not cross the Jordan with them, and before Joshua as Moses’s successor led them against the walled fortress of Jericho. Two of the Tribes of Israelites, Dan and Rueben, who were made up of herders found the lands east of the Jordan River to be favorable for grazing their herds and approached Moses with a request to settle these lands. Moses was less than receptive to their request and admonished them for attempting to forgo their obligation to conquer the lands as commanded and instead leave all of the warfare to the other tribes to go alone. They replied that not only would they assist with the conquering of the Promised Lands but that they would take the lead in every battle and not take up their flocks until every tribe had received their lands. They asked only that they be allowed to build pens to hold their flocks and a defendable city to hold their women and children in safety. This too enraged Moses who reprimanded them for their placing the safety and security of their flocks ahead of that of their women and children. After Moses had sufficiently cowed them he allowed for them to proceed and reminded them of their promise and had them restate their intent to make honest on their promise to the other tribes.

 

What does all of this have to do with modern times? Well, the Israelites of today have not requested to have those lands the tribes of Dan and Rueben settled east of the Jordan River despite these lands being well described in the historical record of the early Jewish tribes, the Bible. The debate the world has forced upon the Jews is for them to sacrifice some of the lands where much of their most important events throughout their history took place. The world is demanding that the Jews surrender half of the city which has been at the heart of their world for over three-thousand years. The Jewish tribes had a civilization centered around Jerusalem before either Confucius or Buddha was preaching their philosophies and religious beliefs. There are demands that Israel allow the descendants of the Arabs who were displaced largely due to their own fleeing the oncoming warfare under the promise given them by the Mufti of Jerusalem that once the Jews had been eradicated they would be allowed to take from the spoils and have possession of all the land. Something of a miracle came to pass and Israel survived and even could be said to have thrived. Despite the constant claims for these Arab refugees who have been imprisoned by their brethren, nobody has bothered to demand restitution or the return to their lands of the over three-quarters of a million Jews who were forced through persecutions to flee much of the Arab and Muslim world after the formation of Israel. The majority of these Jews made what could be called a second exodus to Israel where they were welcomed and absorbed into the society and not placed in squalid camps for the next sixty-five plus years. What was nothing more than an exchange of populations similar to numerous other such exchanges that have taken place through recent history, this one is treated as something different, something other than ordinary. Nobody is demanding that restitution be made or a return forced for the Hindus and Buddhists who migrated in one direction and the Muslims who migrated in the other direction when India and Pakistan became separate entities. Similar comparisons can be made with the lands that were taken from Germany after the World War and presented to France and Poland. Furthermore, when after the War of Israeli Independence when Jordan claimed the areas of Judea and Samaria and renamed them the West Bank and made the Jews depart from lands they owned and gave the Arabs citizenship and divided the Jewish lands presenting them to those who were owed favor, the entire world including the Arab and Muslim nations with the exception of Britain and Pakistan refused to recognize the Jordanian claims. Here is a question, who exactly did the world believe that land belonged to that they refused to recognize the Jordanian annexation? There were no such peoples invented as of yet called Palestinians as when people referred to Palestinians at that time and before 1948 they meant the Jews living under the British rule. The British even had a Palestine Brigade fighting in the Sinai and North Africa during World War II which was made up entirely of Jews from the British Mandate Lands. There were no Arabs as they mostly fought on the side of the German Nazis during World War II and hated the British. So, the lands that the Jordanians called the West Bank and the rest of history called Judea and Samaria should belong to whoever was believed to have been the rightful owners while the world condemned and refused to recognize Jordanian ownership. A small hint, they believed it rightfully belonged to Israel, surprise.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

October 16, 2011

The Lesson Necessary from Gilad Shalit Ransom

Gilad Shalit is likely coming home at long last after five years of horrors not spoken about in polite company, yet Gilad and those close to him will be dealing with his torturous five years and their effects upon his sanity, mental well-being, and ability to live in any manner of tranquility. In exchange for the freedom of Gilad Shalit, Israel is paying a very dear price. Over a thousand perpetrators of terror, some of them being the worst of the worst with the blood of many Israelis in their history, are being released. It is known that, almost to person, these masters of terror will return to their trade in human suffering. Many are expressing opposition and calling into debate the rightness of these actions. Such debate is useless except for claiming to be of better judgment though those claiming such are not and have never been in positions, under similar pressures, and held the weight of such responsibility as those who made this decision. This is the time to welcome back into our hearts and arms the soldier and human being, Gilad Shalit, and share with his family, friends, and fellow service members the joy of the end of his ordeal. After all, it is Sukkot, a time of celebration and remembrance, so let us celebrate the Festival of the Tabernacles and celebrate the sweet taste of freedom which Gilad Shalit can now feel with every breath he takes, back in the sunlight and with those who care for him and out of the hands of the barbarians.

For those who disagree with whether or not this was a wise decision made by those with whom we have placed our trust, that is a debate still to be held. The debate should not be about whether we should have made such a deal, but how can we avoid being placed in such a compromised position in the future. My initial feelings would be classified as being of the “if only” variety, if only we could guarantee that at no time in the future would any Israeli fall into the craven hands of our sworn enemies. Unfortunately, that is not something that mere mortal man can ensure no matter to what extents we go to in order to reach such a lofty goal. With such realizations taken in mind, our debate has to be what steps are available that will prevent such a deal from ever reoccurring in the future. This hard but necessary debate is exactly what must be addressed, and not just by our political leadership, and not just also our religious leadership, but by all Israelis from all ends of our society as we are all equally liable to fall victim of such a kidnapping. We need to address what our options are to be as if we knew that the next hostage was going to be ourselves, not a friend, family member, co-worker, or casual acquaintance, but actually ourselves. So, you, or me, are being held by Hamas, Hezballah, or whichever terror organization. Exactly what would we wish to be the situation and what would we wish for the government to be able to arrange to gain our release? What would each of us find acceptable for our own release from the horrendous situation which Gilad Shalit faced for the past five years?

I have a feeling that most will find my feelings to be extreme and completely unacceptable, but that is an area with which I have become very familiar. My belief is that the answer we seek is found in our Torah and the instructions we received so long ago in the wilderness at the foot of Mount Sinai. The punishment demanded for the intentional, planned, calculated, premeditated, hate-filled, organized, wholesale, cold-blooded murderous slaughter of innocents by these terror masters by Torah is they have forfeited their own life. Since often these perpetrators of such heinous horrors proudly admit their repulsive actions, and do so with pride and exuberance, their innocence is not in question. The only way that assures that no such trades are possible is to remove any possibility that such a trade be even demanded. The perpetrators of such terror against Israelis in particular, or Jews, are no different than Eichmann or those who wish to spread death and suffering amongst our people deserves the same considerations. To continue to allow the perpetrators of such monstrously heinous acts against the people of Israel to live in a virtual clubhouse for terrorists and simply await the kidnapping of an innocent Israeli in order to have their get-out-of-jail ticket punched is ridiculous and foolhardy. It is past time to treat those who deal in the death of Israelis and Jews with the same regard. Throughout our history there have been those who have risen to kill us. Every generation has its own tribe of Amalekites who persecute and torment. We know who our Amalekites are and history has shown that there is but one answer when dealing with the likes of the Amalekites, so we need to learn from our past and learn from our ancestors and use that which has been given to us as our holy guide, our Torah.

Beyond the Cusp

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