YOM HA’ATZMAUT 5777: HAPPY 69TH BIRTHDAY ISRAEL!

 

Celebrating Yom Haatzmaut in a World of Turmoil: Isi Leibler, Algemeiner, Apr. 30, 2017 — Israel Independence Day symbolizes the empowerment of all Jews in the wake of the most successful renaissance of a nation after two thousand years of exile.

Israel’s Birthday, Abbas and Balfour: Ruthie Blum, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017 — While Israel gears up to celebrate its 69th birthday, the Palestinian Authority is as busy as ever bemoaning the existence of the Jewish state.

The Fight for Zion: Asaf Romirowsky, BESA, Apr. 4, 2017 — For American Jews, Zionism has become a source of debate, controversy, embarrassment, and guilt as they try to come to terms with the activities of the Jewish state and its elected officials.

A Return to Israel from Egypt: More Than Geography: Allan Levine, CIJR, Apr. 27, 2017 — As our bus crossed the Gaza border back into lsrael at Rafiach after spending eight days in Egypt

 

On Topic Links

 

The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel: Jewish Virtual Library

UNESCO’s Anti-Israel Resolution Gets Least Votes Ever: UNWatch, May 2, 2017

Ex-Canadian PM Harper: Popularity of My Support for Israel Among Electorate Makes It Difficult for Trudeau to Go in Different Direction: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, May 1, 2017

Moments in History: What Led up to the Declaration of Israel: Hillel Fendel, Arutz Sheva, May 1, 2017

CELEBRATING YOM HAATZMAUT IN A WORLD OF TURMOIL       

Isi Leibler                                          

Algemeiner, Apr. 30, 2017

 

Israel Independence Day symbolizes the empowerment of all Jews in the wake of the most successful renaissance of a nation after two thousand years of exile. It highlights the dramatic contrast between our status today and that of our powerless kinsmen facing doom on the eve of the Holocaust. It is not a celebration exclusively for Israelis but for Jews throughout the world. But as we celebrate, we should be under no illusions. Our remarkable status is due to our independent power and the fact that we do not rely on the goodwill of others for our survival.

 

The world has not changed or learnt from the tragic consequences of appeasement in the 1930’s which led to Nazi aggression and the Holocaust. Today we witness again a state of global turmoil, confronted by an evil Islamist menace which threatens to undermine the Judeo-Christian moral structures of our civilization.

 

Europe is in a state of near anarchy. The decision by Chancellor Merkel to open Europe to “refugees,” most of whom are anti-democratic and fiercely antisemitic, has created massive demographic and social upheaval. Conventional political parties are disintegrating and populist and radical right wing parties are on the upsurge, with governments obliged to restrict civil liberties to strengthen security.

 

In the US, the liberal left has still not come to terms with the fact that the populist Donald Trump was elected as their president. But he has astounded them by showing that despite his America First policy, he was not reticent in employing force to bring vicious war criminals like Assad to heel and sending a clear message to the North Koreans and Iranians that the days of Obama groveling were over.

 

What is the status of Jews in this insane world? Jews who remain in the diaspora have forfeited the privilege of being part of the greatest miracle of the last 2000 years: the ultimate realization of the most sacred Jewish prayers, faith and hope during endless years of exile and persecution. And today, the high cost of remaining in the diaspora is becoming all too clear. Antisemitism is at an all-time high with Jews in most European countries treated like pariahs, facing constant terror threats and in many cases requiring security forces to guard them at their synagogues and their children in their schools.

 

In the United States madness prevails with far left “liberal” Jews spearheading “Jewish religious” campaigns against Trump. Even mainstream groups like the ADL and sectors of the Reform movement sought to accuse Trump and his administration of either supporting or harboring antisemites. The problem with many of these Jews is that they are utterly ignorant of their Jewish heritage and view Israel through the far-left prism in which regarding it as a colonialist implant is a critical component of their DNA.

 

But despite this dismal picture of Diaspora Jewry, most Jews are reassured that with the existence of an empowered Jewish state always ready and willing to accept them, they will never face the horror that their ancestors experienced in Europe in the 1930’s when no country would grant them haven. But at the end of the day, it is inevitable that it will be a struggle for Jews outside of Israel to retain their identity, whether because of antisemitism or assimilation, and as their commitment to Israel diminishes, so too will their connection to the Jewish people and Judaism. Yom Haatzmaut should be more than a holiday and barbecues. We should focus on the spiritual aspects and seek to convey to younger generations that the rebirth of their nation – which so many seem to take for granted – is truly miraculous.

 

We need only remind ourselves of the incredible devastation that took place 75 years ago following 2000 years of wretched dispersion, persecution, expulsion and murder and climaxing with the Holocaust. We should view this in the light of our resurrected nation which has grown from 600,000 Jews in 1948 to over 6 million Jews today. We should remind ourselves that our vibrant nation state revived the sacred tongue of our ancestors and molded broken refugees and survivors from all corners of the globe into a thriving national culture. Despite being one of the smallest states in the world, Israel has created one of the most powerful global military forces which has defeated superior forces seeking its destruction and today deters its enemies.

 

Israel is an economic miracle with one of the most successful economies in the world, creating more startups in the technological and medical arena per capita than any other country. Over recent years, Israel has discovered vast gas fields which will make it an exporter rather than an importer of energy. And it has produced the most efficient desalinization program in the world which enabled it to overcome the water shortage and provide assistance to other nations.

 

Never in their wildest dreams could those who survived the Holocaust ever have imagined the miraculous success of the recreated nation state based primarily on refugees from Eastern European pogroms, Nazism or Arab persecution. It was a wise decision, reflecting compassion and insight, to directly precede Yom Haatzmaut with Yom Hazikaron, a day to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives in defense of our homeland. Above all, as we celebrate we should pledge to ensure that as a nation we must continue strengthening ourselves militarily, economically and socially. The reason for our extraordinary success in nation-building flows from our inner strength and determination.

 

Israel today has been blessed with an American leader who is deeply sensitive to Jews and has displayed unprecedented support for Israel. We should seek to continue improving our relationship with the Trump administration and cooperate with his efforts to renew peace negotiations. We can hopefully progress toward reaching an accommodation on the settlements, annexing the Golan and have Washington formally recognize Jerusalem as our capital by relocating its embassy.

 

Where appropriate, we should continue building both covert and open alliances even with countries traditionally hostile towards us who share the common threat facing the region from the Iranian terror state. Despite living in a region where barbarism is rampant and facing threats from religious fanatics pledged to our destruction, Israel has never been as strong and secure as it is today. We have every reason to count our blessings, rejoice and give thanks to the Almighty. Chag Sameach.    

 

Contents   

                       

ISRAEL’S BIRTHDAY, ABBAS AND BALFOUR

Ruthie Blum       

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 30, 2017

 

While Israel gears up to celebrate its 69th birthday, the Palestinian Authority is as busy as ever bemoaning the existence of the Jewish state. PA President Mahmoud Abbas does not admit to this, however, particularly when speaking to members of the administration in Washington. The last thing he wants at this moment is to have his invitation to the White House rescinded. He also hopes to continue to manipulate the US State Department into playing the shuttle diplomacy game as a means of keeping himself relevant and blaming Israel for any lack of progress on the peace front.

 

But even his upcoming meeting with US President Donald Trump, scheduled for May 3, did not deter the aging rejectionist from reiterating his threat to sue Britain for the Balfour Declaration, the November 2, 1917, letter sent by British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour to Jewish community leader Walter Rothschild, stating, “His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” This week, the PA received written confirmation from the British government that no apology for the “historic” Balfour Declaration would be issued. “We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel,” it declared. “The task now is to encourage moves towards peace.”

 

The Palestinian campaign to criminalize the Balfour Declaration was launched last summer, with Abbas announcing plans to engage in an international campaign against the United Kingdom. At the end of June, PA Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki attended the Arab League summit in Mauritania – in place of Abbas, whose brother had just died in Qatar – and conveyed his bereaved boss’s message to the Muslim-Arab honchos gathered in Nouakchott: the PA intended to file a lawsuit against Britain for the Balfour Declaration and wanted to enlist the support and assistance of their brethren in this endeavor. A few months later, in September, Abbas demanded an apology for the document in his address to the UN General Assembly, as the UK and Israel began preparations to mark its centennial in 2017.

 

In a piece in The Washington Post in October, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the Balfour Declaration the “symbolic beginning of the denial of our rights.” He failed to mention that it is actually the leaders in the West Bank and Gaza who have ever denied the Arabs of the PA their rights. Well before the Six Day War, when the term “Palestinian people” was coined, Arabs rejected the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine – the original “two-state solution.” They have been refusing to reach any peaceful arrangement with Israel since then.

 

The end result is on display for all to see. Israel has spent nearly seven decades building a booming democratic country, while the Arabs of Palestine have frittered away the time by engaging in acts of destruction. Yes, as the Jewish state marks 69 years since its establishment, 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem and 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, the PA is threatening to take Britain to court. Let Trump be reminded of this before hosting Abbas in the Oval Office and listening to his lies. The rest of us should take a break from discussions of war and peace to toast Balfour – and Israel’s success in a region otherwise characterized by failure.            

 

Contents   

                       

 

THE FIGHT FOR ZION

Asaf Romirowsky                                                          

BESA, Apr. 4, 2017

 

For American Jews, Zionism has become a source of debate, controversy, embarrassment, and guilt as they try to come to terms with the activities of the Jewish state and its elected officials. Consequently, many seek to detach themselves from what used to embody the core of Jewish identity. A case in point is Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a pro-BDS Jewish group that uses its “Jewishness” to validate its cause.

 

While JVP’s desire to persuade the Israeli government to change its policies is legitimate, the growing strength of the BDS movement at large makes the demise of the two-state solution ever more likely. JVP’s executive director, Rebecca Vilkomerson, is notorious for her hard leftist views, as illustrated in her Washington Post op-ed entitled “I’m Jewish, and I want people to boycott Israel.” So strong is JVP’s antipathy to Israel that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has called it “the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist group” in the US. Yet the true essence of Zionism lies in its ability to encapsulate both religious and secular Jewish identities. The current challenge is to identify the component of renewal. The Zionist enterprise did not end with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Each generation must redefine Zionism as it is relevant to them.

 

Theodor Herzl famously wrote in his diary, “Were I to sum up the [1897] Basel Congress in a word – which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly – it would be this: ‘At Basel, I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. If not in five years, certainly in fifty, everyone will know it.’” The difference between Herzl’s generation and post-1948 generations was a first-hand understanding of what the absence of a Jewish state means for Jewish survival. The state represents the difference between autonomy and servility, indeed between life and death. But today’s millennial generation has no memory of a time when Israel did not exist or was ever on the “right side of history.”

 

Given the wedge that has been pushed between Zionism and Judaism, one might even suggest that were Herzl to raise the question of a Jewish homeland today, he might not receive support. The irony is that what initially led Zionist leaders to bond over the idea of a homeland was the growing threat of antisemitism. Today, even as antisemitism is on the rise around the world, anti-Zionism is often viewed as legitimate criticism.

 

Abba Eban dispelled this notion eloquently, stating, “There is no difference whatever between antisemitism and the denial of Israel’s statehood. Classical antisemitism denies the equal right of Jews as citizens within society. Anti-Zionism denies the equal rights of the Jewish people its lawful sovereignty within the community of nations. The common principle in the two cases is discrimination.”

 

But with the popularity of the BDS movement’s crusade against Israel, some American Jews on the left have placed other Jews beyond the pale, as people who cannot be debated due to their abominable views. Moreover, an insidious double standard applies: Jewish organizations like Hillel must include anti-Israel voices or be deemed intolerant or racist. Jewish intellectuals must engage in dialogue with BDS representatives or other Palestinian advocates who demand the ethnic cleansing of Israel, lest they be called cowards and be subjected to insults. And now, leading American Jewish intellectuals have adopted the rhetoric and methods of BDS, to be applied to Jews only. Perhaps the next move will be to follow the Palestinian lead and charge Israelis in international courts.

 

Individuals like Peter Beinart, in his book The Crisis of Zionism, purport to offer so-called “tough love,” an approach that is supposedly required to curb the alleged expansion of the “occupation.” Driven by guilt, Beinart has embraced the left’s move to distance itself from Israel and the Zionist enterprise at large. For Beinart, the answer is a “Zionist” boycott of Israeli settlements and products. Beinart, like many post-Zionists and revisionists, only opposes the “occupation,” which leads him to place all the onus for the lingering Palestinian-Israeli problem on Israel. In this distorted narrative, Israel is largely to blame for the collapse of the Oslo/Camp David process of the 1990s-2000s and for the subsequent failures to revive the peace process. But the centrality of the “settlements” is an empty issue. It deflects from the core problem that truly obstructs a negotiated settlement: the Palestinians’ century-long rejection of a sovereign Jewish state.

 

There is little debate that there will be a redistribution of land in the event that a peace agreement is achieved. Most of the bargaining will be about whether these exchanges will take the shape of a total phased Israeli withdrawal, or an exchange of land annexing the more populous Israeli towns to Israel for other land in the Jordan Valley or Negev Desert. But this must be left to the parties to decide, not imposed by outside powers or guilt-ridden American Jews.

 

Anti-Zionist American Jews have found Israeli counterparts even in the Knesset. This was on display at the AIPAC Policy Conference in late March, at which Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg, whose trip to the conference had been paid by AIPAC, decided to join a protest outside the conference. At the protest, organized by the Jewish anti-establishment group IfNotNow, demonstrators held up signs reading “Reject AIPAC” and “Reject Occupation.” Zandberg justified her decision to participate by saying, “there is no greater deed of patriotism than opposing the occupation.”

 

Stronger Zionist anchors are needed within the Jewish community to overcome the guilt over Israel’s existence rather than its actions. Collective historical memory is absent from today’s discourse on Zionism, especially in America. While there are Zionists on the left and right who still appreciate Jewish history and believe in Jewish destiny, Zionist renewal outside Zion is needed. There is a serious need to teach and appreciate both Herzl’s Zionism and “Start-Up Zionism” if the dream is to be kept alive.

                       

Contents                                                                              

 

A RETURN TO ISRAEL FROM EGYPT: MORE THAN GEOGRAPHY                                                  

Allan Levine                                                                                                                    

CIJR, Apr. 27, 2017

 

As our bus crossed the Gaza border back into Israel at Rafiach after spending eight days in Egypt, on an Academic Study Mission of American Professors for Peace in the Middle East, I was filled with a sense of relief and joy knowing we had returned to Israel and deeply moved at the sight of "green" Israel and the realization that we were "home again" and secure. I was happy at seeing young Israeli men and women soldiers at the border and those who climbed aboard our bus to welcome us. Part of their routine was, of course, checking under our bus and under our seats and in the overhead, to be sure there were no bombs or explosives on board that might endanger us or anyone else. It was the Eve of Purim, 1985.

 

Young, friendly, tense, citizen soldiers.

 

In home spun costumes whose originality

   tells us much more than uniforms and

Absence of militarism and alone

   can convey,

 

They peek in and under, check our bus

   throughout,

Patient, pleasant

   and serious.

 

Knowing too well the cost of smuggled danger,

   and the daily price they pay

For fresh food and water, freedom,

    self-government and civil society.

 

And we applaud the flowers

   anemone, goldenrod and narcissus fields full,

Telling us

   welcome home.

 

 

Allan Levine is Professor Emeritus – Psychology, Los Angeles Valley College and

 contributor to the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Happy Yom Ha’atzmaut!

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel: Jewish Virtual Library—On the day the British Mandate over Palestine expired – Friday, May 14, 1948 – the Jewish People's Council gathered at the Tel Aviv Museum to declare the establishment of the State of Israel. There is no record of who attended the meeting, but 350 invitations were sent out instructing the recipients to keep the information secret.

UNESCO’s Anti-Israel Resolution Gets Least Votes Ever: UNWatch, May 2, 2017—“Israel lost the vote today, but it did score a small moral victory: despite reported fears that Germany’s negotiations with the Palestinians would erode support, Israel in the end won more votes than ever before, including from major democracies like the U.S., Britain, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Ex-Canadian PM Harper: Popularity of My Support for Israel Among Electorate Makes It Difficult for Trudeau to Go in Different Direction: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, May 1, 2017—Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Sunday that the pro-Israel stand he took while in office has made his successor, Justin Trudeau, cautious about moving in a different direction.

Moments in History: What Led up to the Declaration of Israel: Hillel Fendel, Arutz Sheva, May 1, 2017—As Israel's Independence Day arrives – its 69th edition is celebrated on Tuesday, May 2 – let's face it: Not everyone knows exactly what happened when. Ask a given millennial how Israel arose, and as likely as not, the answer will be, "Uh, we were in exile for 2,000 years and then the British left and we had a State."