Tag: tisha b’av


We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.


Rejecting Despair and Confronting the Challenges: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, July 21, 2015 — I will not add to the flow of articles that have more than adequately analyzed the horrendous long-term consequences of U.S. President Barack Obama’s capitulation to the Iranian ayatollah…

Friedman’s Fantasy: Michael Devolin, Jihad Watch, Apr. 2, 2015  — “A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.”

Suing to Profit From a Nazi’s Diaries: Roger Kimball, Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2015 — This spring marked the 70th anniversary of the effective end of the Nazi regime.

Nine Days in Av: Stewart Weiss, Jerusalem Post, July 16, 2015— Friday, July 17, begins the semi-mourning period popularly known as “The Nine Days.”


On Topic Links


J Street Launches Campaign Backing Iran Deal; AIPAC Calls for Rejection of Accord: JTA, July 16, 2015

Look Before Leaping: Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, Mar. 25, 2015

The New York Times vs. Israel: Jerold Auerbach, Algemeiner, June 10, 2015

Globe & Mail Presents Dubious Anti-Israel Organization’s Report as “Credible”: Honest Reporting, June 10, 2015

When Tisha B’Av Occurs On Shabbat Or Sunday: Raphael Grunfeld, Jewish Press, July 23, 2015



NINE DAYS IN AV                                                                                                     

Stewart Weiss                                                                                                                

Jerusalem Post, July 16, 2015


Friday, July 17, begins the semi-mourning period popularly known as “The Nine Days.” Culminating in Tisha Be’av – one of only two 25-hour fasts in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur being the other – this period calls for a lessening of festivities, a moratorium on weddings and a general mood of solemnity.


This is a calamitous chunk of our calendar, for it was during these dates that numerous catastrophes befell the Jewish people, the most devastating of which were the destruction of both Holy Temples in Jerusalem and the loss of our independence.


It is a tribute to our culture – not to mention an ongoing proof of our eternal history – that we are prepared to draw attention to our failings and foibles no less than to our successes and celebrations, in a constant struggle for self-improvement. As every athlete knows, you learn more from your losses than from your wins, and so each year we struggle to understand what went wrong, why and how the events of the “Black Fast” occurred, and what we can do to rectify those mistakes so they will not happen again.


The Rabbis of the Talmud make it crystal clear that the hurban, the Destruction, was a function of our own sinful actions, and not the result of some political or military decision imposed on us from the outside. As a preeminent people that continually defies the norms of history, it is we ourselves, and not those around us, who control our fate. If we so merit it, no force can dislodge us. But if we fail to live up to the high standard set for us, then “the Almighty has many messengers” at His disposal. As the Talmud succinctly puts it, the Romans were not responsible for our defeat; they were merely “grinding already-ground flour.”


It is therefore worthwhile to review the comments of our Sages regarding Tisha Be’av, to see if we have made any progress over the last 2,000 years. Tractate Shabbat lists several reasons for the tragedy, beginning, appropriately, with Abaye’s statement that Jerusalem was destroyed due to desecration of the Shabbat. In halachic terms, Shabbat is not only considered the most important holiday of the year – surpassing even Yom Kippur – but it is the primary yardstick by which we measure religious commitment. It is the one question we ask to qualify potential witnesses (e.g., to a wedding), and it was one of a very few ritual commandments whose violation could actually result in the death penalty being administered by a human court.


But the significance of Shabbat is not only a legal consideration; Shabbat is what gives the Jewish state its uniqueness, its soul, its spiritual core. It is the single most important ingredient in preventing Israel from falling into the trap of becoming a state like any other state. And it is remarkable how Shabbat in Israel has made such an amazing “comeback” in recent years, as we have seen some of even the most nonobservant kibbutzim building on-site synagogues, and study programs as well as batei knesset in Tel Aviv fill to capacity each Shabbat. Ra’anana, I’m proud to say, boasts 85 synagogues – and more on the way. “Seven days without Shabbat,” it’s been said, “makes one weak!” Rabbi Hamnuna comments, “Jerusalem was destroyed because we neglected the education of our young.” Israel struggles with its education system – overcrowded classrooms, changes in the matriculation requirements with each new education minister, overall lack of decorum – but on the whole, we turn out some pretty bright students.


We have one of the highest literacy rates in the world (97.8 percent) and we spend 7.5% of our GDP on education – more than Canada, Japan, America, England or Australia. Want to know just how “smart” we are? Go into any kindergarten, and talk to the children. They’ll make you want to go back to school! Ula remarks: “Jerusalem was destroyed because there was not enough shame between people.” We are a society that is often high on blame but short on shame. Blame deflects our problems onto others and impedes our self-improvement. But shame can actually be a virtue; it can keep our ego and our arrogance in check – if we get ashamed by the right things – and lead us back to more pristine behavior.


I am ashamed when our country shows leniency to terrorists; when drivers lose control and act rudely and belligerently on our highways; when MKs fail to act with dignity and decorum in the Knesset; when “rabbis” abuse their power (and their congregants); when I succumb to anger, disillusion or lack of faith. Shame is the emotional partner of humility, and humility is the doorway to enlightenment and respect for others…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






Isi Leibler                                       

Candidly Speaking, July 21, 2015  


I will not add to the flow of articles that have more than adequately analyzed the horrendous long-term consequences of U.S. President Barack Obama’s capitulation to the Iranian ayatollah, who to this day explicitly identifies the destruction of Israel as a primary objective and endorses calls of death to America and Israel by his followers.


Iran is an Islamic global counterpart to Hitler’s dictatorship in its fiendish denial of human rights. Yet the U.S. is effectively rewarding and reinforcing the leading global promoter of terrorism for its ongoing commitment and fanatic determination to undermine the democratic world. Beyond transforming Iran into a threshold nuclear state, Obama has provided Tehran with $150 billion to intensify its global terrorist activities, in addition to the removal of embargoes of conventional arms and ballistic missiles, thus bringing European and North American cities into the range of Iranian missiles.


It has repeatedly been described as “the worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history” and will be recorded as an act of infamy that not merely threatens the survival of Israel and the moderate Arab regimes in the region but capitulates to a fanatic Islamic terrorist state, some of whose leaders would be willing to facilitate a premature paradise for its citizens by engaging in suicidal initiatives in order to bring forward the “end of days.” The U.S. has demeaned itself as a world power and lost the confidence of its traditional friends who have witnessed Obama’s lies, his repudiation of crucial assurances initially made in relation to Iran and his betrayal and abandonment of longstanding allies while groveling to rogue states and dictatorships…


We must now strategize a new approach. In the short-term, our efforts must be directed toward convincing Congress and the American people of the diabolical global consequences if this agreement is consummated. The prospects of reversing, or at least introducing additional control or supervisory mechanisms instead of blindly trusting the duplicitous Iranians, are not good. However, we must do all possible to persuade Congress to reject the deal, and if necessary achieve a two-thirds majority vote in the House of Representatives and the Senate in order to override the president’s veto. That would require a substantial number of Democrats to join the majority Republicans in opposing their president and places special pressure on the 28 Jewish legislators, especially Senator Chuck Schumer who represents a major Jewish constituency but also seeks to become the Senate Democratic leader.


Such action necessitates Israeli politicians to urgently set aside their narrow politics and speak out with one voice in order to neutralize claims that it is only right-wing elements in Israeli society that oppose the Iranian deal. To his credit, Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog has already fully endorsed Netanyahu’s efforts in opposing the current deal. He has bitterly condemned the agreement and stated that he would visit the U.S. and warn the Americans that, if consummated, it “will unleash a lion from the cage” and enable an “empire of hate and evil” to undermine Israel’s security as well as global stability. More than ever, the time is now opportune for Herzog to override the radicals is his own camp and join a unity government. Were he to assume the role of foreign minister, Israel would be speaking with one voice which would make an enormous impact on global public opinion. Rumors suggest that negotiations are taking place to bring this about, which would be welcomed by the overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens.


Israel’s challenge is to persuade congressional Democrats to stand up and if necessary repudiate their own president, not merely because he is endangering Israel but because he is undermining the standing and security of the United States and paving the way for the emergence of an evil global power that could unleash a blight on mankind for future generations. The relatively feeble response to date by the traditionally robust American Jewish leadership has been a significant factor in failing to inhibit Obama from implementing anti-Israeli policies — at total variance with the inclinations of the majority of Americans and their congressional leaders.


Belatedly, there is now some movement. Howard Kohr, executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has launched a major campaign to persuade Congress to reject the deal. Malcolm Hoenlein expressed his personal opposition when he recently visited Israel with the newly elected head of the President’s Conference. But that umbrella body, operating by consensus, has yet to make a clear-cut condemnatory statement.


To his credit, Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, in what was possibly his last major public statement prior to his retirement, outrightly condemned the Obama administration. Many smaller organizations led by the Zionist Organization of America have bitterly protested against Obama’s betrayal but most American groups responded in a tepid manner, even after Herzog forthrightly condemned the deal. The American Jewish Committee headed by David Harris expressed concern but avoided calling on members to lobby Congress to veto the deal.


To their shame, the leadership bodies of the Conservative and Reform movements responded with deafening silence, at best, but many of their “progressive” rabbis are actively supporting Obama. Needless to say, J Street, the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organization, boasts that it is spending millions of dollars to lobby Congress to support the bill…                                                                                                            

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    




FRIEDMAN’S FANTASY                                                                                           

Michael Devolin                                      

Jihad Watch, Apr. 2, 2015 


Writing of America’s relationship with Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s Iran, Efraim Karsh recounts that, “So entrenched had the idea of this Iranian-American symbiosis become that successive US administrations came to view Iranian interests as indistinguishable from their own.” It would seem that Thomas Friedman is still infected with this illusion. In his recent New York Times article, Look Before Leaping, a title falsely implying he is not suggesting a “leap of faith,” Mr. Friedman propounds that, “America’s interest lie not with either the Saudis or the Iranian ideologues winning, but rather with balancing the two against each other until they get exhausted enough to stop prosecuting their ancient Shiite-Sunni, Persian-Arab feud.”


I perceive the prediction “until they get exhausted” used in the same sentence as “their ancient Shiite-Sunni, Persian-Arab feud” to be utterly oxymoronic. For the same reason the State of Israel can promise political compromises to the so-called Palestinians “when they decide to recognize Israel as a Jewish state” simply because they can count on the fact that traditional Islamic hatred of all things Jewish will never allow the Arab Muslim to live in peace within or alongside a country of Jews. “Wisdom is also a defense.”


If this feud (more accurately defined as Shiites versus Sunnis) between the Saudis and the Iranians is by now ancient, I cannot foresee either side becoming exhausted in the near future. I see a pattern of Islamic intransigence here. GlobalSecurity.org reports that during the Iran-Iraq war, “…more than one and a half million war and war-related casualties — perhaps as many as a million people died, many more were wounded, and millions were made refugees. Iran acknowledged that nearly 300,000 people died in the war…Iran’s losses may have included more than 1 million people killed or maimed.”


Iran’s dictatorship is remembered by many, regarding that war, for its 1983 “human wave offensives” along the 40 kilometer stretch near Al Amarah where, in one day alone, 6000 Iranian soldiers were killed in action. I wonder how long Mr. Friedman believes it would take this regime, now so close to becoming nuclear-armed, and given its history of vending the lives of its soldiers and its citizens as mere holy fodder in time of war, to become “exhausted” with “prosecuting” that “ancient Shiite-Sunni, Persian-Arab feud”?


Friedman promises that, “Patching up the United States-Iran relationship could enable America to better manage and balance the Sunni Arab Taliban in Afghanistan and counterbalance the Sunni jihadists, like those in the Islamic State, or ISIS…” What “United States-Iran relationship” is Mr. Friedman referring to? Last time I looked, there was no “United States-Iran” relationship.” Scott Peterson of Christian Science Monitor remarked in 2010, regarding celebrations in Iran of the anniversary of the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran that, “Anti-US students chanted ‘death to America’ and predicted the fall of the ‘great Satan,’ the nation still officially most vilified by the Islamic Republic, during the annually staged event.


Anti-Americanism has remained a pillar of the Islamic revolution…” John Limbert, a former American hostage during the takeover and described in Peterson’s article as the “State Department’s top official at that time on Iran, confessed that, ““Past efforts to move the relationship to something more productive…have foundered on misunderstandings, mistrust, and the assumption that anything the other side agrees to must be bad for us.”


In the last paragraph of his dreamy ideation, Mr. Friedman challenges his readers: “So before you make up your mind on the Iran deal, ask how it affects Israel, the country most threatened by Iran. But also ask how it fits into a wider United States strategy aimed at quelling tensions in the Middle East with the least involvement necessary…” Well, first of all, a lot of pundits on Middle Eastern politics, especially pro-Arab pundits, would posit that American involvement anywhere in the world where Muslims and Islamic statehood are concerned is cause for more harm than good.


A lot of pundits of the pro-American side (of which I am one) would posit that American (or Canadian or British) involvement—in any measure—with peoples so inculcated with Islamic taught anti-American and anti-Western hatred inevitably becomes a waste of our time and the lives of our sons and daughters. What is the Christian proverb? “Don’t throw you pearls before the swine.” Or as Jesse Klein succinctly put it in the National Post recently, “At some point, we have to come to the realization that it’s not worth spilling our blood and wasting our treasure to intervene in a civil war in which both sides want to kill us.”


As for the State of Israel and the threat of Iran’s nuclear posturing, “how it affects Israel,” easy for Mr. Friedman, living, virtually, light years away from such a severe existence as that endured every day by Israeli Jews, to bet the lives of 6 million of them in selling the puerile fantasy to his readers that this Iranian regime will suddenly renounce a millennia-old hatred of the Jews and its imperial ambitions for a new-found love affair with America, the Great Satan. I’ll sooner have angels flying out of my ass.


Following Mr. Friedman’s career as a journalist in the last few years, after reading critiques of his work with much broader range than my own, I am constantly reminded of Nicholas Murray Butler’s famous quote, which reads, “An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.” It seems Mr. Friedman is become more a salesman and less and less an expert on the Muslim Middle East. But then again, untruths and fantasy are today common fare for the Western journalist. They dream at the expense of the democratic freedoms of others, for the sake of our enemies, regardless of the consequences for our friends, in this case the State of Israel and the Jewish people. It’s Western journalism, and of late such insouciant and imprudent dreams go with the territory.​              





SUING TO PROFIT FROM A NAZI’S DIARIES                                                                                  

Roger Kimball

Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2015


This spring marked the 70th anniversary of the effective end of the Nazi regime. On April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler shot himself in his bunker as the Soviet army bore down upon his lair. The next day Joseph Goebbels, his rodentine minister of propaganda, committed suicide with his wife, after having their six children injected with morphine and then crushing ampules of cyanide in their mouths to finish them off. You might think that after 70 years the rotten stench of the Nazi regime would have totally dissipated. But no. That mephitic swamp still produces the odd belch.


That criminals should not be allowed to profit from exploiting their criminal activity is about as close as we are likely to get to a universally agreed-upon moral principle. Yet last week an appeals court in Munich—by coincidence, the site of Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, the event that really got the Nazi ball rolling in 1923—upheld an earlier decision that the heirs of Joseph Goebbels were entitled to compensation because a recent biography quoted from his diaries without permission.


The lawsuit was brought last year against Random House Germany, whose imprint, Siedler, published Peter Longerich’s “Goebbels: A Biography” in 2010. (An English translation was published in the United States and Britain in May.) Mr. Longerich, now a professor of modern German history at Royal Holloway, a college of the University of London, draws heavily on Goebbels’s diaries, which run to some 30 volumes. Goebbels began his near-daily entries on his 26th birthday, in 1923, and stopped on April 10, 1945, a couple of weeks shy of his personal armageddon.


The sum in question is not large—about $7,000—but the moral offense is incalculable. Cordula Schacht, a lawyer who claims to hold the copyright to the diaries and to represent Goebbels’s heirs, filed the suit. Rainer Dresen, general counsel to Random House Germany, told London’s Guardian newspaper that he offered to pay the royalties if Ms. Schacht agreed to donate the proceeds to a Holocaust charity. He said she rejected the offer, insisting that the money go to Goebbels’s relatives, including the descendants of his siblings. Mr. Dresen speculates that other publishers have paid for the use of Goebbels’s diaries. “We’re the first publishing house who avoided that—and have been sued.”


Cordula Schacht is a daughter of Hjalmar Schacht, Hitler’s early minister of economics and president of the Reichsbank. Although he was instrumental in helping Hitler lay the economic foundation for the Third Reich, Hjalmar Schacht later turned against the regime (he was distantly connected with the July 1944 plot against Hitler) and was acquitted of war crimes at Nuremberg. Ms. Schacht’s involvement in the Goebbels diaries stems from a relationship she had as a legal adviser to François Genoud, a shadowy Swiss banker who might have stepped straight out of “The Odessa File.” Born in 1915, Genoud was an early and stalwart Hitler enthusiast. The carnage of the war and murder of six million Jews did nothing to dampen his ardor. “Hitler was a great leader,” Genoud said many years later, “and if he had won the war the world would be a better place today.”


Along the way, Genoud—who committed suicide in 1996—financed the legal defenses of Adolf Eichmann and Klaus Barbie, “the butcher of Lyons” who personally tortured French prisoners of the Gestapo. Genoud supported the Ayatollah Khomeini during his exile in Paris; he also was a friend and financial adviser of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem before the war. During the war, Haj Amin, a vicious anti-Semite who dreamed of murdering Jewish émigrés to Palestine, helped the Nazis recruit Bosnian Muslims for the Waffen-SS. He lived on until 1974. Genoud was the executor of Goebbels’s will and purchased rights to his diaries in 1955. According to the British historian Richard J. Evans, Genoud transferred his interest in Goebbels’s diaries to Cordula Schacht in 1996 shortly before his death. She has since claimed to be the copyright holder, though, as Mr. Evans notes, the Bavarian State also claims to own the copyright.


This Byzantine legal story should not obscure the very clear moral that David Cesarani, a historian at Royal Holloway, set forth. “If the owners of copyright want acknowledgment or token payment, that is fair enough. If they want fees that are then paid to a good cause, that is irksome but reasonable. However, if they want to profit personally from the writings of Nazi ancestors, criminals, and/or to control the extent of usage, that is unacceptable and verges on the obscene.” I’d say this episode crosses that threshold. Random House Germany intends to appeal the case to the German supreme court. I hope they prevail.                 




CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!


On Topic                                                                                        


J Street Launches Campaign Backing Iran Deal; AIPAC Calls for Rejection of Accord: JTA, July 16, 2015—AIPAC called on Congress to reject the Iran nuclear deal, saying it does not meet critical markers that the influential pro-Israel lobby outlined in recent weeks. But the liberal Jewish Middle East lobby J Street announced a multimillion-dollar campaign to support the agreement.

Look Before Leaping: Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, Mar. 25, 2015 —I can think of many good reasons to go ahead with the nuclear deal with Iran, and I can think of just as many reasons not to. So, if you’re confused, let me see if I can confuse you even more.

The New York Times vs. Israel: Jerold Auerbach, Algemeiner, June 10, 2015—A deep sigh of editorial relief was discernible at The New York Times following the Supreme Court decision in Zivotofsky v. Kerry, the Jerusalem passport case.

Globe & Mail Presents Dubious Anti-Israel Organization’s Report as “Credible”: Honest Reporting, June 10, 2015—On June 6, Globe and Mail reporter Patrick Martin published an article for online subscribers exclusively entitled: “Report on Gaza war raises questions about Israel’s ‘moral army’ claim” which presented the allegations of Breaking the Silence (BtS) – an anti-Israel NGO which produced a report it claimed detailed alleged abuses by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip last summer – as “credible,” despite that this organization has been discredited due to its agenda, flawed methodology, and foreign sources of funding.

When Tisha B’Av Occurs On Shabbat Or Sunday: Raphael Grunfeld, Jewish Press, July 23, 2015—Five tragedies occurred on Tisha B’Av. It was decreed that those who left Egypt would not enter the land of Israel, the first and second Temples were destroyed, the city of Betar was captured with thousands massacred, and Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the razed Temple. Consequently, Tisha B’Av was declared a day of national mourning and a fast day.








THE 9TH OF AV – TISHA B’AV : Whither the Temple Mount?

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Giving Up the Temple Mount?: Steven Plaut, Front Page Magazine, July 16, 2013—The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the holiest place on earth according to Judaism.  It is where both Biblical Temples stood, whose destruction is commemorated this week with fasting and mourning on the Ninth day of the month of Av according to the religious calendar. 


Mourning a Self-Imposed Exile: Evelyn Gordon, Jerusalem Post, July 15, 2013 —Ever since Jerusalem was liberated in 1967, Tisha Be’Av, the day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple that falls this week, has sparked debates over whether continued mourning is appropriate when rebuilt Jerusalem is flourishing in a reestablished Jewish state. Yet the day provides a needed reminder of the degree to which, even in Israel, Jews remain in a self-imposed exile: For the first time in history, we have ceded control of our holiest site voluntarily rather than against our will.


Other People’s Sin’at Chinam: Yair Rosenberg, Tablet Magazine, July 15, 2013— “What do you think about baseless hatred?” This is not the sort of question most academics are used to being asked, let alone by reporters. But at this time of year, when Jewish tradition mourns the destruction of the First and Second Temples, it’s exactly the sort of query regularly put to Hebrew University’s Isaiah Gafni, a preeminent historian of rabbinic Judaism. That’s because the rabbis of the Talmud famously attributed some of these tragedies to sin’at chinam, or baseless hatred among Jews, which brought about divine punishment.


On Topic Links


Tisha B’Av on a Kuwait Military Base: A Lesson in Jewish Unity: David Frommer, Tablet Magazine, July 15, 2013
The Ninth Of Av: Business As Usual?: Eli Kavon, Jerusalem Post, July 14, 2013

Adam Czerniakow, Tisha B’av, and Cooperating With Our Own Destruction: Stand for Israel, July 15, 2013




Steven Plaut

Front Page Magazine, July 16, 2013


The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the holiest place on earth according to Judaism.  It is where both Biblical Temples stood, whose destruction is commemorated this week with fasting and mourning on the Ninth day of the month of Av according to the religious calendar.  The Western Wall is considered holy only because of its proximity to the Temple Mount.  Jews everywhere in the world pray while facing the Temple Mount, and if they were to pray on the Mount itself they would face the Holy of Holies, the singularity point in between the cherubs that were positioned on top of the Temple Ark inside the Temple.  While God’s presence is everywhere, according to Judaism, its most intense concentration is at that point.  The Western Wall is simply the guard wall around the perimeter of the Temple Mount, and is of Herodian (Roman) origin standing upon earlier Hasmonean foundations.


The site has religious significance for Christians as well.  After the destruction of the Second Temple, churches were sometimes erected there. When the Muslims conquered the area, they followed the practice of building mosques or proclaiming as sacred to Islam the religious sites of other religions.  The Muslim general Umar bin al-Khattab was the second Caliph and led the armies of Islam.  In his writings he expressed scorn for Jerusalem and never acknowledged its sanctity.  When a temporary mosque was erected on the Temple Mount (long pre-dating the current Al-Aqsa mosque structure),  it was placed in the southern edge of the Mount.  A general in the armies of Umar, an ex-Jew who had converted to Islam, pointed out to Umar that placing the mosque in the northern section of the Mount would allow Muslims to pray while facing both the Holy of Holies of the Jews and Mecca.  Umar insisted that it be placed on the southern margin so that Muslims would pray facing Mecca but with their backsides toward the Holy of Holies.  That is where the Al-Aqsa mosque stands today.


Thus, the southern edge of the Mount, that is located above the ruins of what archeologists call Solomon’s Stables, has religious significance for Muslims.   In the center of the Temple Mount is another structure known as the Dome of the Rock, famous for its golden domed roof.  Some refer to it mistakenly as the “Mosque of Omar.”   But the structure is not a mosque at all and has no special religious significance for Muslims.  The problem is that this structure sits exactly on the spot that most (but not all) experts, archeologists and rabbis, believe is where the Holy of Holies once stood.  It also contains the “Foundation Stone,” which has religious significance for Judaism.


The Israeli army conquered the Temple Mount in 1967 in the Six Day War, when Israel liberated Jerusalem from the illegal Jordanian occupation.  At the time Israel should have dismantled the “Dome of the Rock” and moved it elsewhere, while leaving the Al-Aqsa mosque in peace.  Muslims could then continue to control and administer everything associated with the mosque.  But doing so did not require Israel to relinquish control over every inch of the Temple Mount.  The Israeli government nevertheless decided to pursue tranquility through appeasement and cowardice (sound familiar?).  Not only would the Muslim religious authority be granted de facto hegemony over the entire Temple Mount, they would also be granted the power to prohibit or restrict entry to it for Jews.


This has been the status quo ever since.  Jews are often prevented altogether from entering the Mount.  At other times, Jews are permitted some limited access, but under condition that they do not pray while on the Mount.  Jews whose lips move quietly while on the Mount have been arrested and evicted, motivating a few to learn ventriloquism.  Anyone daring to prostrate themselves while on the Mount in the direction of the Holy of Holies is treated even more harshly.  So here we have the spectacle of the Israeli government backing a prohibition on Jews praying in the holiest site of Judaism for fear of upsetting Muslims.


Meanwhile, serious collateral damage from Israel’s cowardly decision to maintain Muslim control of the Mount has been the systematic destruction of artifacts and antiquities uncovered on the Mount by the Muslims, particularly in cases where the artifacts clearly point to the ancient Jewish presence on the Mount.  Islamic radicals, including the “moderates” from the Palestinian Authority, have long denied that there ever were Biblical temples on the site, mountains of overwhelming archeological and historic evidence notwithstanding.  They have destroyed priceless evidence to the contrary. UNESCO has never uttered a word in protest.  It should be noted that radical Muslims also object to Jews praying at the Western Wall, which they also deny has religious significance for Jews.  Jews at the Wall are regularly assaulted by stone-throwing Muslims on the Mount.


The status of the Temple Mount and the question of public access to it for Jews is further complicated because of some seemingly bizarre and esoteric features of Jewish religious law.  Rabbinic law prohibits Jews from entering the grounds where the Temples stood while they are in a “state of impurity.”  The notion of “state of impurity” is a Biblical one, where one becomes “impure” by having any contact with a dead body, including being present in a cemetery or funeral.  This impurity is not a moral judgment, and in some cases indeed one is commanded to make oneself “impure” (such as attending a relative’s funeral or burying a corpse found in public space), but merely serves as a basis for prohibiting entrance into the Temple for ritualistic purposes.  The Biblical “cure” for the impurity using ashes from a special red heifer cannot be used today because no such bona fide animals are available. The bottom line is that according to Jewish rabbinic law itself, Jews may not enter the grounds where the Temple stood, and especially not where the Holy of Holies stood.


On the one hand, the Jewish religious restrictions upon Jews make the politics of the Temple Mount seemingly easier to surmount.  Religious Jews do not seek access to the center of the Mount for religious purposes, the area where the Dome of the Rock now stands.  On the other hand, most of the Temple Mount is clearly outside the grounds of the Biblical Temple, in areas where the “impure” may enter, and there is no reason why Jews cannot enter these and conduct prayers there.  (No one is seeking to conduct Jewish religious activities inside the Al-Aqsa mosque!!)  But radical Muslim hegemonists consider this an affront to Islam.  Not only must Jews be denied access to the Temple Mount to “defend” the Mosque, but Jews should be denied any sovereignty or presence in Jerusalem altogether.


All of the above puts some results from a recent public opinion poll into proper perspective.  As published in Makor Rishon, July 12, 2013, the vast majority of Israelis oppose construction of a new Temple now, and opposition among religious Jews is even stronger.   Those who say they favor building of the New Temple may actually mean they’d like the Messiah to show up and order such a move, not that government bureaucrats do so.  No one seems opposed to “preparing” for the coming Messianic Age by doing things like tailoring garments for Temple priests, forging Temple trumpets, or learning the rabbinic laws concerning conduct of Temple ritual.  Even the most ornery atheist can find nothing in such things objectionable.   A minority of Israeli Jews favor some preliminary construction for a new Temple building, presumably including dismantling and relocating the Dome of the Rock, but no such proposal is being seriously considered by the government.


Interestingly, a full 72% of Israeli Jews favor partitioning of the territory of the Temple Mount so that Muslim control and administration is restricted to the Al-Aqsa mosque, and where Jews would have access to other parts of the grounds.  A large plurality favor legal initiatives that protect Jewish rights of access to the Mount, including the right to conduct prayers there.


More generally, the entire legal status quo for the Temple Mount, under which Israel relinquishes control to the Muslim religious authorities, serves as yet another reminder that Jewish self-abasement and cowardice do not win Israel any tolerance or goodwill.  The time has come for Israel to make it clear that it will no longer seek peace via gestures of debasement of Jewish dignity nor by auto-suppression of the legitimate religious rights of Jews.  If the Muslim world should ever wish to come to terms with Israel and seek an actual modus vivendi, then it will have to do so with an Israel that insists on the defense of legitimate Jewish religious rights, including their right of access to (at least) parts of the Temple Mount.





Evelyn Gordon

Jerusalem Post, July 15, 2013


Ever since Jerusalem was liberated in 1967, Tisha Be’Av, the day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple that falls this week, has sparked debates over whether continued mourning is appropriate when rebuilt Jerusalem is flourishing in a reestablished Jewish state. Yet the day provides a needed reminder of the degree to which, even in Israel, Jews remain in a self-imposed exile: For the first time in history, we have ceded control of our holiest site voluntarily rather than against our will.


The good news, as a new poll shows, is that Israel’s Jews are starting to grasp the inappropriateness of this abdication: Though only a minority favors rebuilding the Temple, solid majorities agree both that Israel should reassert control of the Temple Mount and that it should use this control to enable Jews as well as Muslims to pray there, just as it does at Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs (Machpela). The bad news is that we remain far from translating this realization into practice.


There was nothing voluntary about the losses Tisha B’Av commemorates: Babylon destroyed the First Temple after vanquishing the Jews in battle; Rome destroyed the second after doing the same. Nor, for millennia, was there any doubt about our desire to rectify that loss: Jews began building the Second Temple on the ruins of the first the moment the area’s then-hegemon, Persia, permitted them to return from exile and start work; when it, too, was destroyed, countless generations prayed to be able to return and rebuild it again.


Modern Israel initially seemed to follow this same pattern. There was nothing voluntary about its loss of half of Jerusalem during the War of Independence, and when the Six-Day War provided an opportunity to recoup this loss, Israel seized it. Immediately afterward, the government annexed East Jerusalem, alone of all the territories captured in 1967. Thousands of Jews flocked to the Temple’s last surviving remnant, the Western Wall, to celebrate its liberation. Mordechai Gur, whose brigade liberated the Old City, announced his success in a now-iconic broadcast: “The Temple Mount is in our hands!” Like generations before him, Gur understood that the Mount was the Jewish people’s heart and soul; thus it was the Mount whose liberation he proudly proclaimed – not the Old City, the Jewish Quarter, or even the Western Wall.


But then, something unexpected happened: Secular Jews who hoped to trade most of the newly acquired territories for peace, and sought to prove their bona fides, joined forces with religious Jews who deemed the Mount too holy to profane by a Jewish presence (though oddly, not a Muslim one). Together, they voted to abandon the Mount and return de facto control to the Muslim Wakf. Consequently, to this day, Jews are forbidden even to open a prayer book or recite a Psalm on the Mount, and Jewish visitors are allowed up only in small groups, when they aren’t barred altogether.


As I’ve written before, this decision had numerous harmful consequences. First, it betrayed Israel’s fundamental obligation to protect Jewish rights: Today, Jewish policemen routinely arrest Jews for the “crime” of seeking to pray at Judaism’s holiest site.


Second, it undermined Israel’s longstanding demand to retain Jerusalem as its united capital: How is the world to believe we truly care about Jerusalem when we voluntarily ceded control of its holiest Jewish site, not even demanding anything in exchange, and obediently enforce the Wakf’s ban on Jewish prayer there while letting Muslims worship freely?


Third, it encouraged the Arab belief that violence pays, because every time they riot on the Mount, or even threaten to riot, Israel responds by closing it to Jews – sometimes for years, as in 2000-2003.


But perhaps worst of all, it encouraged our enemies’ belief that they can someday destroy us, by demonstrating that deep in our psyches, we ourselves aren’t sure of our right to a sovereign state here. For no people confident of the justice of its cause could voluntarily cede its holiest site to others.


It’s therefore encouraging that Israeli Jews are starting to understand how problematic this is. In a poll conducted last month for the Joint Forum of Temple Mount Organizations, 49% of respondents deemed it “important” or “very important” for Jews to visit the Mount, handily outnumbering the 37% who considered it unimportant. Significantly, this included a plurality of secular and traditional Jews as well as 78% of religious Zionists; only the ultra-Orthodox overwhelmingly considered it unimportant. Moreover, 55% of respondents expressed personal interest in visiting the Mount, including 60% of secular and traditional respondents (compared to 20% of the ultra-Orthodox).


Unsurprisingly, only a minority expressed interest in praying there; many Israeli Jews have no interest in praying anywhere. But fully 59% – including even a plurality of the ultra-Orthodox – thought Israel should impose an arrangement on the Mount similar to that at Machpela, where both Muslims and Jews can worship freely in separate sections of the site. This would actually be even easier on the Mount, since unlike at Machpela, Jews and Muslims don’t want to pray in the same spot: All Jewish religious authorities agree that the area containing the Mount’s mosques is currently forbidden to Jews.


A majority of respondents also want Israel to wield de facto control over the Mount – a necessary precursor to such an arrangement. Almost one-fifth of respondents incorrectly thought it already does. But of the others, 47% thought the state should be in charge, while another 11% wanted a Jewish religious authority in control.

Unfortunately, the government is way behind the public on this issue. Nevertheless, if enough of the public were to press hard enough for long enough, no democratic government could remain indifferent forever.


Forty-six years after Gur’s proclamation, the Temple Mount still isn’t in our hands. Thus this week, Jews will once again justly mourn their exile from their holiest site. But it’s vital to remember that this exile, unlike the others, is self-imposed. Hence if we are ever to realize our tradition’s promise that Tisha Be’Av will someday become a day of rejoicing rather than mourning, it’s our responsibility to work to end it.





Yair Rosenberg

Tablet Magazine, July 15, 2013


“What do you think about baseless hatred?” This is not the sort of question most academics are used to being asked, let alone by reporters. But at this time of year, when Jewish tradition mourns the destruction of the First and Second Temples, it’s exactly the sort of query regularly put to Hebrew University’s Isaiah Gafni, a preeminent historian of rabbinic Judaism. That’s because the rabbis of the Talmud famously attributed some of these tragedies to sin’at chinam, or baseless hatred among Jews, which brought about divine punishment.


Now, Israeli journalists are not really interested in Gafni’s scholarly opinion of the term. “What they’re trying to say,” he observes in one of his public lectures, “is that there’s as much sin’at chinam now as there was then.” The reporters want Gafni to use his academic credentials to bolster their social critique of contemporary Israel, which is deeply divided along factional lines. But he refuses to play along. “I’ve really gotten sick of that question, and I usually try to answer now saying: ‘I really don’t know, because I am not plagued with sin’at chinam. The people that I hate really deserve it!” He chuckles. “Usually they kind of hang up on me. This is not what they wanted.”


But Gafni’s seemingly unserious riposte makes a serious point. “No one is ever guilty of sin’at chinam,” he notes. “It’s always the other person that’s guilty of hating me.” Our own animosities are always justified in our eyes; it’s only hatred harbored by others that we consider groundless. A quick glance at modern political invocations of the charge of sin’at chinam perfectly illustrates Gafni’s principle: for many Jewish ideologues, sin’at chinam is the perpetual sin of other people, specifically those they disagree with.


“The true face of the fascist purveyors of sin’at chinam,” thunders a blogger for the London Jewish Chronicle, are “the settlers and their great pretender friends.” Of course, for a sympathizer of the settler movement, sin’at chinam was evident when “those Jews who did move trailers onto hills within their existing towns were dislodged by the IDF.” In the eyes of hawkish pro-Israel advocates, the dovish group J Street promulgates baseless hatred. Yet some of the liberal lobby’s supporters believe they have found the true purveyors of sin’at chinam: right-wing Zionists organizations like NGO Monitor. “We will show that sin’at chinam will soon be a way of the past if our voices have anything to say about it!” proclaim Women of the Wall. “Stop practicing sin’at chinam, baseless hatred, and you will find it mysteriously vanishes. It’s easy to have peace and unity — just pray with us, and don’t try to change us,” admonish their opponents, a group called Women for the Wall. And so on.


Setting aside completely the merits of these individual critiques, they all miss the point. Nothing could be further from the spirit of Tisha B’Av, tomorrow’s national fast day, than using its moral vocabulary to impugn others. In fact, when it comes to explaining the root causes of the destruction of the Temple, the Talmud teaches the very opposite lesson: that we must root out baseless hatred within ourselves.


“The destruction of Jerusalem came about through a Kamzta and a Bar Kamzta,” declares the Babylonian Talmud (Gittin 55b). A “certain man,” the rabbis recount, had a friend named Kamtza and an enemy named Bar Kamtza. This individual threw a party, and sent his servant to invite the former. But the messenger erred and instead brought the host’s soundalike foe, Bar Kamtza. And so, in full view of the many rabbis in attendance, the host ejected Bar Kamtza from the festivities, even after he offered to pay for the entire party rather than face such public humiliation. Embittered by this experience, and particularly incensed at the rabbis who stood by while he was shamed, Bar Kamtza slanderously denounced the Jews to the Roman emperor, setting in motion the conquest of Jerusalem.


What’s striking about this tale is that it apportions blames to the people recounting it, namely, the rabbis who did not intervene at the party. The host of the affair, the ostensible culprit, is never even named. While the Talmudic sages could easily have pinned the entire episode on him, they chose instead to share the blame themselves. National tragedy, in the traditional understanding, is not an opportunity to assert our own sense of superiority, but to foster a spirit of self-critique. As the Mussaf prayer every Rosh Chodesh reminds us, “because of our sins, we were exiled from our land.”


On Tisha B’Av, of all days, we are not meant to point to flaws outside ourselves, however apparent they may be, but rather to examine those within. After all, we can never truly know the minds and motivations of others. The only baseless hatred we can diagnose is our own.



On Topic

Tisha B’Av on a Kuwait Military Base Gives a Chaplain a Lesson in Jewish Unity: David Frommer, Tablet Magazine, July 15, 2013—Tisha B’Av couldn’t come fast enough. It was strange to be fixated on this holiday, since commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples had never figured prominently in my Reform Jewish upbringing on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.


The Ninth Of Av: Business As Usual?: Eli Kavon, Jerusalem Post, July 14, 2013—The Ninth of Av is a traditional day of mourning and fasting on the Jewish calendar. On Tisha Be’av, Jews around the world remember the Babylonian destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE, the Roman razing of Jerusalem in 70 CE, and the fall of Betar—the last stronghold of the Bar Kochba Revolt – in 135 CE. Other disasters, as well, occurred on the Ninth of Av in Jewish history.


Adam Czerniakow, Tisha B’av, and Cooperating With Our Own Destruction: Stand for Israel, July 15, 2013—On July 23, 1942, the Nazis began mass deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto to the death camp of Treblinka. Over the next nine months, the Germans would send some 300,000 Jews from the Ghetto to the gas chambers – culminating with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in April of 1943.


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Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org




Baruch Cohen


Tisha B’av (The Ninth of Av) is the traditional day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Today, our enemies are calling again for the destruction of our Temple, Israel’s Capital, the Capital of the Jewish People: Jerusalem.


We, today’s Jews, must not forget or ignore the ongoing calls to destroy Israel and Jerusalem. Tisha B’av must be a clear reminder; we must alert our people, and the world, to the real danger which the State of Israel faces.


Tisha B’av recalls the terrible price, the enormous sacrifices, paid during our history, for our existence as Am Israel, and for the State of Israel. Today, Am Israel Chai, the people of Israel Lives!


Zionism, more than any other movement in our modern history, has successfully brought us together—Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, socialist, liberal, right-winger, left-winger. We are Am Ehad, one people, and we have One Israel, One State.


Strong, and always united, together, under one indestructible Rock, one flag, one unique banner of Zionism: we are the People of Israel, the State of Israel.


Am Israel Chai!


Long live the Eternal People and the State of Israel!


(Baruch Cohen is Research Chairman at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.)


[In a sad Tisha B’Av moment the London Olympics
begin without recognizing Israel’s 1972 martyrs—Ed


David Roumani

Jerusalem Post, July 19, 2012


As this year’s Israeli delegation [of Olympic athletes] prepares to head to London to compete in the 2012 Olympics, [they] will surely remember the courageous athletes from the ‘72 Munich Games.

An event that took place Tuesday evening [July 17] in Talpiyot shed light on what the Olympics represent.

“The Olympics are a symbol of freedom and peace between nations” said Dan Alon, an Olympic Fencer from the ‘72 Israeli delegation, to a large crowd at the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel (AACI).

Alon, a survivor of the Munich Massacre, is featured in the documentary “The Eleventh Day: The Survivors of Munich ‘72”

Alon began fencing when he was only twelve years old and quickly made a name for himself, earning bragging rights as Israel’s Junior Champion, and following national service, Israeli’s National Champion.

Born in Tel Aviv, Dan, like many other athletes today, had a singular dream—to participate in the Olympics.

Dan spoke to the crowd about his own experiences at the Olympics, and recounted the horrific events that occurred.

Weightlifters, Moshe Weinstein, and Joseph Romano, both whom Alon called, “Tremendous human beings, and very dedicated athletes,” tried to fight off the terrorists, and as a result lost their lives.…

For the Israeli delegation, the Olympics wasn’t just a competition, it was a chance to show the world that the nation of Israel was thriving. Alon expressed that being the first Israeli team to compete since World War II was a once in a lifetime opportunity “to show the world, that we are here, and still alive!”…

Athletics competitions are decided by mere milliseconds of a difference. A few milliseconds was the difference that some of the Israeli Olympians had, to try and save their teammates.

Though the games continued after the terrible massacre, according to Alon, “some of the players from various countries decided that in light of what had happened, they would pack their bags and return home—for this I applaud them.”

For Alon, and other Israeli Olympians, one of the most important aspects of the Olympics is that they know the people of Israel will always be by their side. Some of the pain and suffering he felt returning to Israel after the massacre was alleviated when he stepped off the plane.

“When we land[ed] at the airport, and I [saw] these beautiful Israeli people, waiting for us—thousands of them, it was something I will never forget.”

(Dan Alon was CIJR’s special guest at the Institute’s 2006 Annual Gala celebration)

Abraham Cooper

National Post  Jul 27, 2012

I remember that sunny summer afternoon in 1984, standing on Pico Boulevard in West Los Angeles, transfixed as the Olympic Flame passed by, on the final leg of its international journey. It was making its way from the Santa Monica Pier (carried there by, you guessed it, former USC great O.J. Simpson) en route to the 1960 Decathlon Gold Medalist, Rafer Johnson, who would ascend the stairs of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and rekindle the flame on the site of the 1932 Games.

It was an exciting moment for everyone in our neighborhood, young and old. Truth be told, that Torch symbolizes everything that is great about the Olympics. But even before the opening ceremonies, controversies enveloped the 1984 Games.

For one thing, there was the tit-for-tat Soviet-led 14-nation boycott in response to the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Games over the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. … And there was the refusal of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to honor 11 Israeli athletes brutally murdered during the 1972 Munich Games by Palestinian terrorists. It was just one of the many opportunities for the IOC to address the pain of the families of the slain athletes and to correct its disgusting behavior in Munich, when it initially refused to delay the games even for an hour when the atrocity came to its ignoble end on a nearby military airfield.…

Given what happened in 1984, it came as no surprise that this year, the IOC is shamelessly refusing Barack Obama’s request and those of decent people everywhere to invest in a moment of silence at the Games in London for those 11 souls. In doing so, today’s IOC leadership displays a remarkable continuity with immoral decisions of the past. At the 1936 Munich Games, for instance, the IOC delivered on a golden platter what Adolph Hitler desired: international legitimacy despite his regime’s barbaric anti-Jewish racist laws.

What purpose would a moment of silence at the 2012 London Games serve? It would send a message that, at the Olympics at least, it is not geopolitical business as usual; that the memory of murdered Israeli athletes would be as valued as other Olympians who died; and that the Olympics would not cave to a two-tiered system, driven by Arab and Muslim nations.

So this year, since the spineless IOC President won’t, we will join NBC’s Bob Costas’ for an on-air minute of silence, and suggest we all add a second Minute of Silence—for the death of the Olympics Flames’ promise of a level moral playing field for all.

David Feith

Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2012

What are the Olympics for? Awesome displays of physical ability, mainly, but with a heavy helping of politics—from mere kumbaya globalism to notorious whitewashes of Nazism and Communism. On rare occasion, though, the Games inspire displays of sound political judgment. This year’s first medalist in that category is television anchor Bob Costas.

The NBC veteran has revealed that his broadcast of the July 27 opening ceremony will include a minute of silence for the 11 Israeli Olympians murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Games 40 years ago—a minute of silence that the International Olympic Committee has refused to arrange on its own. Mr. Costas explained to Hollywood Reporter magazine: “I intend to note that the IOC denied the request. Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive.” So he’ll tell viewers “here’s a minute of silence right now.” Judging from the 2008 ceremony, 35 million Americans could be watching.

Mr. Costas is hardly alone in finding the Munich killings worthy of commemoration. Others who have spoken up include President Barack Obama (“absolutely,” the White House said Thursday), all U.S. senators, every Australian and Canadian parliamentarian, Germany’s foreign minister and some 100,000 online petitioners. But none has shaken the IOC from its decades-long refusal—and none has Mr. Costas’s opportunity to impose an unofficial but almost uniquely high-profile minute of silence.

The IOC, for its part, contends that it is simply upholding Olympic tradition. “The [slain athletes’] families were repeatedly told by long-time IOC President Juan Samaranch that the Olympic movement avoided political issues,” historian Deborah Lipstadt wrote in Tablet magazine this week. “He seemed to have forgotten that at the 1996 opening ceremony he spoke about the Bosnian war. Politics were also present at the 2002 games, which opened with a minute of silence for the victims of 9/11.”…

To be sure, the IOC is upholding tradition in treating the Munich massacre as a mild nuisance best forgotten. This tradition dates back to the day of the attack, when officials agreed to suspend competition only after an international outcry, nearly 12 hours after the Israelis were first killed or taken hostage. “The Games must go on,” IOC President Avery Brundage said the next day, and countries’ flags weren’t to be flown at half-mast because 10 Arab nations had objected. Ever since, the case against a minute of silence has rested largely on fears of an Arab boycott.…

The Munich attack was an unprecedented media event—likely more so than its perpetrators could have even dreamed, as it unfolded over almost 24 hours of live television. It ended with now-famous words from Jim McKay of ABC news: “Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They’ve now said that there were 11 hostages—two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight. They’re all gone.”

Before his death in 2008, McKay spoke frequently about Munich, sometimes alongside relatives of the slain athletes. (“That day was the end of innocence in sports,” he wrote in 2002.) Now Bob Costas takes up McKay’s admirable tradition—before tens of millions of TV viewers.

Jose Maria Aznar

Times of London, July 24, 2012

When we are about to mark the 40th anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the Olympic Village in Munich, in which 11 Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian terrorists, it is a real paradox to see Israel excluded from the first meeting of the Global Counter-terrorism Forum.

This initiative, led by the United States and attended by 29 countries and the European Union, took place last month in an effort to improve the co-ordination of counter-terrorism policies at global level. Why wasn’t Israel invited? The meeting was held in Istanbul and no one wanted to “provoke” the host, the Islamist Government of the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Worse still, in July, the forum organised its first victims-of-terrorism meeting. Not only was Israel excluded, but Israeli victims had no place in its official speeches. When we see deadly terrorist attacks such as the recent one in Bulgaria, targeting tourists simply because they were Israeli, the marginalisation of Israel is totally unacceptable.

As a terrorism victim myself, who was fortunate to survive a car-bomb attack, I cannot understand or justify the marginalisation of other terrorist victims just for political reasons. If we extrapolate Israel’s experience of slaughter to Britain, it would mean that in the past 12 years about 11,000 British citizens would have died and 60,000 would have been injured in terrorist attacks. In the case of the United States, the figures would be 65,000 dead and 300,000 injured. Israel’s ordeal is far from insignificant.

It is even more poignant if one considers Israel’s willingness to face up to terrorism and the practical experience that it has acquired to defeat it. Israel has much to contribute in this area and everyone else has a lot to learn if we really want to defeat the terrorists.

Fiamma Nirenstein, the vice-president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies (and a member of the Friends of Israel Initiative) has made a proposal that is as fair as it is attractive—to hold a moment of silence at the London Olympics in memory of the 1972 massacre. Remembering is important, first, because of the victims, but also because many Europeans adopted the wrong attitude towards Palestinian terrorism after the Munich attack. The culprits who were arrested were later quietly released for fear of further attacks. And because of that initial fear the terrorists knew how to take advantage of the situation and to press for more rewards.

I have experienced terrorism at first hand. Many of my friends and some political colleagues have been killed by terrorists whose only merit was to have a hood, a gun or a bomb. Nonetheless, even in the most difficult times, I have always believed that weakness and appeasement are the wrong choices. Terrorism is not a natural phenomenon; it doesn’t happen spontaneously; its not something ethereal. It can and must be fought using all the tools provided by the law and democracy—and most importantly, it can be defeated if there is the will to defeat it. Israel has provided ample proof that it possesses that will, since its own existence is at stake.

To marginalise or isolate Israel to avoid irritating Turkey is a big mistake.…Isolation not only renders Israel weaker against its enemies, but also makes all Westerners weaker. And the practitioners of terrorism know all too well how to exploit our differences.

Remembering Munich 40 years on should be a useful reminder of our successes and failures. It should help us to enhance our collective abilities to fight terrorism. Israel is key in this fight. Israel is a part of the West. Israel is not the problem; it is part of the solution. We will become the problem if we continue to cold-shoulder Israel, the country most affected by terrorism and, possibly, the one that knows best how to defeat it.

(Jose Maria Aznar was Prime Minister of Spain from 1996 to 2004
and is chairman of the Friends of Israel Initiative.)

Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein

Jerusalem Post, July 26, 2012

…As the nations of the world gather for the Olympic Games, flags wave proudly in the wind, representing the more than 200 participating countries. Every flag represents a country marked by borders which determine the athletes’ nationality.…

What makes these nations different? Who drew up these borders in the first place? They were drawn up arbitrarily by force of circumstances; is that enough to form nationhood? Evidently, it is: So much hinges on a border, which is merely an imperfectly—and often capriciously—drawn line.…

Among the many national flags at the Olympic Games, there is one that represents the most ancient of the nations, the only one which exists with its original land, language, religion and values as it had when it was born thousands of years ago: Israel. It is also the only country on earth whose original borders are not artificially nor arbitrarily created by human beings but delineated clearly in the Bible, a book which came into the world more than 3,330 years ago, authored by G-d Himself. As the Torah states (Numbers 34:1-12): “G-d spoke to Moshe saying… This is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance… Your southern border shall be from the edge of the Dead Sea to the east…

“The border shall go around from Atzmon to the stream of Egypt. The western border shall be for you the Mediterranean Sea… This shall be for you the northern border… The border shall descend and extend to the bank of the Kinneret Sea to the east.

“The border shall descend to the Jordan [River], and its outskirts shall be the Dead Sea…”

In 1947, the United Nations allocated a much smaller portion within these borders as the area for the modern State of Israel. Since the Six Day War many countries have declared Israel’s presence in the West Bank an “illegal occupation.”…

How is it possible that the only nation in the world whose borders are not arbitrary, and who has an ancient, unbroken connection to its land is accused of illegal occupation? It is a particularly bitter irony when young nations of the world, barely a hundred years old themselves, accuse the oldest nation of all of colonialism, and deny its right to exist within its ancient borders.…

The audacity of those who contest Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is historically bizarre and unconscionable. Three thousand years ago the great capitals of today did not even exist; there was no London, Paris, Washington or Moscow—but Jerusalem was a Jewish city, and it was the capital of the Jewish state. Since the Roman conquest of Israel about 2,000 years ago, Jews mention the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple at every wedding and funeral… in every prayer service and every time we say Grace after Meals. If Jerusalem is not the capital of the Jewish people and the Jewish state, then the very concept of a capital city has no meaning.

The Olympic Games officially open on the 27th of July. It is remarkable that on the Jewish calendar this date corresponds to Tisha B’av—the very day which, more than any other, demonstrates the eternal Jewish connection to Jerusalem and Israel. It is the fast day on which we mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple some 2,500 years and then again, almost 2,000 years ago.…

It is not only a day of sorrow, but also of repentance and reconnection with the Divine moral mission and destiny of the Jewish People. There is a well-known legend of Napoleon Bonaparte walking into a dimly lit synagogue on Tisha Be’av night. He asked why the congregants were sitting on the floor… mourning the destruction of Jerusalem and their Temple some 1,800 years before. Reportedly, Napoleon then said that a nation which remembers and is connected to its historic mission and destiny in such a way will one day regain its land, Jerusalem and its Temple.

Perhaps this year the kings, presidents and world leaders gathered in London for the Olympic Games will follow in the footsteps of Napoleon and find a synagogue to enter on Tisha B’av. Maybe then they will finally appreciate the eternal Jewish connection to Israel, Jerusalem and the values of the Torah…that [have] sustained the oldest, most resilient and ever-vital nation on earth, which has seen so many others burst onto the stage of history only to disappear forever. Maybe then they too will glimpse the truth of the world’s eternal nation.

(Warren Goldstein is chief rabbi of South Africa.)

Reflections for Tisha B’Av, David M. Weinberg

Tisha B'Av, the mournful commemoration of Jewish national destruction and self-destruction which falls this weekend, hasn’t quite reached the status of Yom Kippur as a day of reflection and repentance. But it should. Especially here in modern Israel.

We are repeating so many of the mistakes made by our ancestors in the First and Second Jewish Commonwealth periods; mistakes which have, in past, brought about social decay, moral decline and political disintegration.

All of us ought take a spell from our regular regimen this Sunday, have a seat on the floor, and take a hard, contemplative look at the social or political group we each respectively belong to, and at the state we are building. Or should I say — at the state we are in danger of mangling into ruin.

Of course, doing so requires a capacity for self-criticism and a hefty dose of humility. In Israel these days, humility is in short supply.

The rich and the successful, and the politically powerful, exude a preening pride and overbearing self-confidence that leaves no room for self-doubt, change or compromise. Israelis are, as a rule, unrepentantly certain that their individual viewpoint is absolutely correct, barring all others.

Nevertheless, our society as a whole has a few things to mend. Among the issues we all might want to reflect about this Tisha B'Av are:

  • Violence in society: We’re cavalierly murdering each other in disputes over beach chairs, parking spots, and TV programs. Last week, yet another husband murdered his wife. To that, you can add over 20,000 cases of violence within the family each year; 60,000 burglaries; 14,000 drug related offenses, and so on.

Who is going to act to reduce the violence in our schools? Fifty percent of our kids have experienced classroom violence in grades six through ten; 45% report “a lot” of hooliganism, bullying or property destruction in their school; and 14% have required medical attention from injuries sustained in school violence.

  • Economic injustice in society: The average gross income among the top decile of Israelis — the richest ten% of the population — is 48 times the average income in the lowest decile. Put another way, 25 times more money goes to the richest fifth of the population than to the poorest fifth. There is not one Western country, not even the U.S., which comes even close to Israel in the inequality of income distribution. Who is going to ensure socio-economic justice?
  • Educational failures: Seven percent of our youth drop-out of school every year in grades nine through eleven — that is 20,000 kids. In Sderot the drop-out rate is a whopping 21%; 28% in Netivot. New immigrants are also dropping out of high school at a higher-than-acceptable rate. Only 48% of high school students pass their matriculation exams. Who is going to overhaul our educational system?
  • Hatred sowed by politicians: Once upon a time we tended to chalk-up the rough talk to Israeli ‘character’ and shrug it off. But the disgraceful level to which some politicians have sunk over the past year — particularly in the debate over draft of Haredi men — is alarming. Moderation, nuance, restraint and reasonableness have become orphan concepts in this country’s political landscape. The prevailing culture is 'kasach' — unbridled, untamed confrontation. It’s no wonder that there is no exact Hebrew translation for ‘civility’ and ‘subtlety’. We probably wouldn’t know what to make of the words or how to apply them.

So on Tisha B'Av it’s worth remembering that a previous Jewish commonwealth disintegrated, our sages say, because everybody hated each other. And because leaders led the vulgarization of society, instead of preventing it. Thus we need leaders who eschew inflammatory, seditious demagoguery.

We ought to be able draft many haredim, for example, without demonizing them. The opposition ought to be able to challenge the prime minister for national leadership without having to portray him as a profligate liar in order to get across its messages of hope and peace. The politics of defamation have been tried before in this country with disastrous and tragic results. Beware.

  • Jewish and Zionist identity of society: The attenuation of a proud Zionist-Jewish perspective in our schoolbooks, media, culture and arts scene dangerously threatens to strip us of the moral strength necessary to persevere in the continuing struggle for Israel’s place in the Middle East. It is time to stop and ask ourselves: Has our heightened capacity for self-criticism gone too far? Isn’t it time to re-energize our national spirit with a little historical perspective that allows us to recognize the essential morality of the Jewish return to Zion?

What better moment than Tisha B'Av to remind ourselves of our unassailable and unmatchable claim to Jerusalem; to reaffirm the deep roots of Jewish identity and Israeli nationality that run through ancient Jerusalem — far beyond the practical calculus of municipal demographics, security concerns and political timetables?

So this Tisha B'Av, let us recommit ourselves to an overhaul of society: to more refined use of language in public discourse, just a little less hacking at each other politically, a touch more tolerance in education, more honesty in business and increased philanthropy, a crackdown on crime, fairer distribution of the national burden, more concern for the widow, orphan and unemployed, and some reverence for heritage and Zionist achievement.

Source: IsraelHayom