Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Illegitimaty of Olmart's Actions

I just read a brief prepared (Hebrew) by a Dr. Brayman which brought up a number of interesting points. It basically challenges the legitimacy of any controversial action on the part of Arik Sharon's/Ehud Olmart's "government".

What we have here is:

  • a "transition Government" traditionally encouraged to be careful not to undertake controversial policies in the eve of an election; (Legal Opinions to Previous Transition Governments)
  • that is acting without any brakes or balancing mechanisms in Israel's already brittle democracy;
  • a "party" that has no majority in the Keneset moreover a party that has not received even one vote.

There can be little doubt that the real agenda of Olmart and those who support him are not issues of "Law & Order" or even "Proper Government" but either to take advantage of the time between now and the elections to establish some very violent and destructive precedents or at least establish themselves as Anti-Jewish / Anti-Religious bashers that can deliver, not just talk about delivering.

Hatred as Precondition for Civil War

I just read an article by Eliakim Haetzni on the Katif.net site. Here is an excerpt from his conclusions:

And what did Sharon's cronies imagine? Did they think that you can turn pioneers into refugees overnight, or the nation's best into dust without causing a severe emotional reaction? The Chief of Staff showing the same arrogance that he has shown ever since he was appointed to be the commander of the "disengagement", has not absorbed, and it seems, is not capable of absorbing, the full significance of the disengagement-the disengagement within the Jewish camp, disengagement from settlement, Zionist and Jewish values-disengagement from the land of Israel. This Chief of Staff threatens to close the Hesder Yeshivot, to throw out soldiers from the army, and to refuse to recruit youth who refuse to accept the fact of expulsion. One could think that he is so inundated with idealistic high quality youth that he can waste them. Just like the young men, advisors of King Rehoboam, he does not see how he tragically and irrevocably divides and destroys the kingdom.

Young girls and boys who saw how, in North Neveh Daniel (Sde Boaz), the police fired tear gas into a small narrow building into which youngsters had crowded and barricaded themselves, and the shocking result, are lost to the state forever. Try and explain to them the difference between the state and the government when they see the representatives and servants of the state mobilized against the very enterprise that they have been taught all their lives to believe as being the essence of Zionism. There is no cure for this rift.

One who sees, again and again, acts of destruction carried out by the government itself in the outposts and in the settlements - the abuse of a widow, her property and her babies in the middle of a cold night on Hill 26 in Kiryat Arba, the policemen's violence, the monstrous steel bulldozers demolishing intimate family dwellings, soldiers and officers hitting people with their rifle-butts what do they do to his soul especially if itÂ’s a young tender soul that has not yet been formed? Are the Mofazes and the Olmerts still capable of understanding what they are doing, how much destruction they are sowing in hundreds and thousands of young souls? Their advisors, the same glowing Ahitofel-like psychologists who with satanic efficiency prepared the psychological background for the expulsion, who knew how to change Jewish youngsters in uniform into robots and other youngsters, their victims, into crying rags; all these professionals are not capable of understanding the connection between the masked faces in the Hebron market and the souls that have become "masked" against the state, its laws, its rulers, its institutions and security forces.

What do the leftist "Israel haters", those who publicly long for the "Altalena" and for the "Holy Cannon" want? Do the want the cannon to fire upon and kill some of us and return the Leftist "hegemony" and rule for another couple of generations? If so, what should right-wing religious Jews who do not get killed by the cannon do, go away from here? Should they hide in rat-holes? The Left understands and knows so well to describe the process of "one who sows a breeze will reap a storm", in relation to the Arabs. The Left knows very well how to point out the hatred an Arab family feels when an Arab house is demolished and the expected natural reaction that must come as thunder follows lightning; the violence, especially violence which in the eyes of the victim is seen as being random, evil, unjustified and inhuman. What do they think, the wise-guys, Weisglass and "Abuvillainan? Do they think that Jews have no soul, no feelings, and no reactions, including irrational reactions? No anger and no grudges and loathing? No desire for revenge and even hatred?

I have seen the hatred of the Left for decades and have been left wondering how the national- religious do not hate, on the contrary, they keep on pathetically trying to capture the hearts of those who hate them. "Ahavat Hinam" (unconditional love) is the expression they have coined. No more. After the expulsion and with the shadow of more expulsions looming over us, I feel, for the first time, deep hatred on the part of the right-wing national religious. And there is no other certain recipe for destruction of the nation than the internal hatred syndrome, when Jews hate each other more than their common enemy. At the time of the Second Temple, the Romans were the enemy, now it is the Arabs before whose wondering eyes, the police and the army destroyed 25 settlements and is about to destroy Jewish dwellings in the market-place in Hebron where in the past Jewish blood flowed from the knives and the axes of the Arab pogrom.

It is only a step away before the Jewish police open fire on young Jews with rubber coated bullets and the next step will be the first Jewish fatality, G-d Forbid, from this side or the other, what's the difference? Its only a short distance. This can happen today in Hebron or tomorrow in Amona. At the beginning everyone will be shocked and in fear but they will get used to it and the civil war, (lit. war amongst brothers) will become something routine like it was in the days of the Sikirikin and in the days of Kamtza Bar-Kamtza, when in the end, the internal fire consumed everything.

Brakes were installed in cars to prevent sliding or rolling downhill out of control. Brakes and checks are built-in in society and government, especially in a democracy, to prevent events from going out of control. These checks consist of opposing forces in the system which can stop or at least slow-down unwanted events. The Americans have installed checks and balances in their system. To our regret, Sharon's one-man rule has neutralised the internal forces, which from the time the state was formed, during very stormy times, managed to check and control any internal destructive forces. Sharon installed new "diskettes" in the heads of the General Security Services, the Mosad, the Police, the Army and the bureaucracy and has turned them into robots. He has destroyed the Likud and the N.R.P., neutralised the settlers' leadership, dismantled Shinui, trimmed down the Labour Party and if the public opinion polls are to be believed, G-d Forbid, the country will be ruled by an unstoppable regime; a monstrous party called "Kadima" with no purpose, no logic and certainly no heart, empty of ideals, power for the sake of power. And the use of force will bring more force as a reaction until we Jews will be so sick of each other that the Arabs will have only to finish us off as the Romans did.

The only question left to ask is: is there no one left among the elite, the academics, the rabbinate, the giant bureaucracy, the heads of the GSS and the Police, lawyers and the intelligentsia, who sees that destruction of the settlements is the beginning of the destruction of the state?

I have to concur with much of what Eliakim wrote, except for one critical point. Every Shabbat our home is filled with youth. My children who are still in High School and their friends; older children serving in the Army or studying in college ... and their friends. In all our contacts we hear optimism and a kind of resignation to a long and difficult struggle, but no hatred. Sometimes frustration, often anger at certain violent actions of the police or abuses of the justice system, but never hatred.

I cannot see my children raising a hand against another Jew. I know they have had to "defend" themselves against brutal police, but as well as I know them, I cannot see them willingly participating in a premeditated action to physically harm another Jew, even those Jews that deny their Jewishness (the black uniformed, skin-headed shock troops of the Israel Police, for instance).

Tell me kids , you read these musings of mine, am I simply naive?

Illusion of Democracy

Several friends have asked me why I am so critical of "The Only Democracy in the Middle East". Over the past few years I have grown more and more critical of the "Illusion of Democracy" perpetrated here in Israel. Not to deny that it has some benefits entirely, my criticism is that "democracy" is a tool, not an "ultimate value" in and of itself.

Israel's democracy is not "representative" of the wishes of the People, as the politician have absolutely no accountability to the electorate! The political process therefore draws not upon the values the people support but those the political parties generate and support. Part of this is the result of the fact that Israel's political system is really just a transplant of the Zionist Congress from pre second-World-War Europe. The compromises and ideologies that fueled those movements gradually metamorphosed into today's political parties, but true "democratic" process has little to do with how the actors are chosen or policies determined. There are no "riding associations" like in the Canadian parliamentary system. The average party member has little power in determining either policy or selecting representative. These are really accomplished by the various power-brokers in the guise of "Central Committees". Israeli politicians are not in anyway accountable to their electorate. As Arik Sharon has demonstrated, they can even contradict and ignore their own party's decision if it so suits them.

My second complaint is the fact that the "conventional wisdom" in Israel's political world is that the body of values a democratic system of government should draw from are "Western Secular" values, with a clear negation of anything identifiably Jewish. The US system apparently draws upon an ethos of "melting pot" and "immigrants" who left old-world cultures to join in the great-American-dream. But with all due respect to the principles upon which the American democratic experience is founded, it is not the only approach ... as Canada, England, Germany etc. etc will demonstrate. There is nothing illogical about a country deciding to draw upon its religious and cultural roots but employing the methods of democratic process to arrive at important collective decisions or manage the process of government.

If Israeli democracy would be "accountable" I'm certain the "political process" would influence the selection of decision makers who would reflect the values of the society. Israel is, despite it seemingly secular exterior, a very Jewish country.

The Reality of Democracy

I noticed this in a recent Toronto Star article:
If Israel and the West do not accept the results of the Palestinian election, it will only validate the claim by Islamic fundamentalists that parliamentary democracy is acceptable to the West only if serves the interests of the U.S., not the Arab people.

If Israel makes the election of Hamas an excuse not to engage with the Palestinians, cynics will not be wrong to ask: Where was this engagement when Fatah was in power? After all, Israel had 10 years to thrash out a deal with Fatah, but refused to do so and spared no chance to undermine the PA and dismiss Fatah.

I love the one-sided "Israel is totally responsible" approach to these two Muslim writers. I question if the fact that Hitler was elected into power (with half the popular votes of Hamas!) means that his agenda to wage war on anyone and everyone who refuses to agree to his dictates means that the "tool of governing" called "democracy" is any less valid. If anything it certainly justifies the devastation visited upon the German People when their war of conquest swayed the 'wrong way'.

The fact that the Palestinian People chose to empower the most virulent unabashed anti-Jewish movement within their political world does not mean Israel (or the West) have to recognize them without condition. Like a friend of mine once said to me about a similar issue: "You want to play on the Golf-Club Greens? You gotta pay the Golf-Club Fees!". If Hamas wants to be recognized as a responsible government amongst the community of nations, it will have to 'play by the rules' of responsible nations. It shouldn't be surprised if it is banned from using the 'greens' if it isn't willing to pay it's 'dues'!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Be Careful What You Wish For!

"The Hamas members were dancing with their flags, and they announced Sharia law will soon rule in the Palestinian territories," said a source. Today's clashes [celebrating the Hamas victory in the PA elections] were the latest in a series of reports indicating Hamas is seeking to impose Taliban-like Islamic rule on the Palestinians. A Hamas-run council in the West Bank recently barred an open-air music and dance festival, declaring it was against Islam. "This is not acceptable," festival head Eman Hamouri told reporters at the time, accusing Hamas of trying to force its values on others. "We condemn this and we have sought the help of the Palestinian parliament to discuss this serious issue."
I wonder how many Palestinians, very Western in their life-style, influenced by Israel for almost 40 years, are going to willingly adopt the stringent restrictions on their private and public lives that Hamas evidently aspires to enforce!

I've said it for over twenty years! Stop hiring them, and eventually they will go away. Without the Israeli economy they will leave and find employment (and eventually lives) elsewhere. Hamas are simply going to increase the incentive to look for a better life somewhere else!

Getting A Little Respect

Thinking about the interview in which the Hamas leader said "Israel respects us when we are strong, therefore it is likely we will have a long struggle." I couldn't help remember a story a neighbor of mine once told me back in the early seventies.

S.H. was working as a civilian for the IDF and often accompanied the officer in charge of the Southern Hebron Hills area on his travels. One day they dropped in to visit the Muktar (Leader) of the village of Adurayim half way between Hebron and Beersheva.

As they sipped the obligatory bitter sweet coffee and exchanged pleasantries it was clear that the Muktar held the military officer and the country he represented in disdain. As it was a very open and freewheeling conversation, my neighbor decided to join in and ask some questions that bothered him!

"Why do you hold Israel in such disdain? Before Israel took over the responsibility for your area you had no electricity, no running water, no health services! Since Israel took over you have all of these! Don't we deserve at least some begrudding respect for these?"

The Arab thought for a moment and then, through his interpreter who was obviously uncomfortable with being in the middle of this conversation, he answered.

"In this village they tell the story of a caravan traveling from Hebron to Egypt in the late 1980's that was ambushed by bandits somewhere between Hebron and Beersheva. When the news arrived in Beersheva, the Turkish government sent a patrol commanded by a Corporal to the area. When the unit could not find the bandits, they came to this village and selected the first twenty men they could find and strung them up in the street with all the villagers assembled. The Corporal informed us that the next time he would be sent out to punish bandits, he would string up fifty men!"

Sipping his coffee the Muktar waited for the story to sink in. Finally realizing that my friend still didn't understand, he continued.

"When the Turkish needed to take care of things, they sent a Corporal who strung up people indiscriminately in the streets. When you Jews captured this village, the next day I had Moshe Dayan himself sitting here drinking coffee with me, [trying to establish rapport/dialog]. I should respect the Israeli's? In this village we still talk about that Corporal, who notices which Jew comes for coffee. "

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Is Dialog Possible?

In response to several apparently innocent email messages from a local Arab, I decided to offer my correspondent the opportunity to use his willingness to be open and exchange information for some greater purpose than satisfy each other's curiosity. To that end I set up a blog (tentatively) called "Between Shilo & Turmos Ayya", the names of our two communities, separated by 2 kilometres and a clash of civilizations. You can read our exchanges and follow the development of our dialog by subscribing for "Updates" on the site.

It occured to me that (hopefully) we weren't the only intrepid explorers into the uncharted territory of cross-civilization dialog. I discovered a recent article in the Canadian Jewish News describing a joint Arab-Jewish literary journal published by university students there.

A group of Jewish and Arab university students want to show that it is possible to have differences on the Middle East conflict and co-operate on a project that aims to allow each side to understand the other a little better.

The six students – three Jewish, three Arab – are editors of a soon-to-be published literary journal that allows young Canadians of Jewish and Arab origin to honestly express their thoughts and feelings on the conflict through stories, poems, essays and photos.
Way to go guys! I hope you publish your material online as well!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Rumours & Truth

I hate to admit it, I don't always agree with the man but for once, I couldn't have said it better!

Lieutenant Colonel (Res.) Meir Indor, who heads the Almagor Terror Victims Association, brought up the absurd legal situation when he was interviewed by Israel Radio Tuesday morning. Indor was asked how he could allow his 16-year-old daughter to join protesters in Hevron who the interviewer referred to as "lawbreakers."

"The lawbreakers are the politicians in uniforms of the police and IDF who are making cynical use of the drastic security legal condition of 'closed military zone' in order to prevent legitimate protest and improve the Kadima Party's standing in the polls," Indor responded. "I wish I could take off from work and join my daughter there and you can be sure that once anyone touches the Shalhevet neighborhood, many of us will drop what we are doing and come prevent it as well."
Although this time my kids are not involved, I think there has not been a major demonstration over the Land of Israel in the past year at least one or more of my family members were actively involved. I've heard people talk about the "violence prone" dissaffected youth who are in Hevron not because they care about the Land of Israel but because it gives them an opportunity to vandalize and make trouble. If you hear enough people say similar things often enough you begin to wonder if there isn't some truth to it. Then you read things like the following from people who are on-the-scene:

Youth learning Torah
Hevron resident and director of the Human Rights for Residents of Judea and Samaria organization Orit Struck responded to the Yesha Council's call for the Jewish residents to expel the young Jewish activists saying that anybody who is not in the city has no idea what is going on there and is forced to rely on the reports by a very hostile press corps. "These youth are incredibly dedicated, and have committed themselves to a determine struggle, whose ground rules we have reviewed with them," she said.

Hevron resident David Wilder issued a statement Monday evening outlining several distortions being broadcast by the media regarding the protests going on in the city. He added nothing but praise for the young activists: "These youth are neither hoodlums or hooligans, as the media are calling them," said Wilder. "Rather, they are some of the most ideologically motivated people in Israel today. These kids are true lovers of their land. These youngsters are still crying the pain of expulsion from Gush Katif and northern Samaria. Their hearts are still bleeding the wounds of our land being abandoned to our enemies. They hurt the hurt of thousands of homeless Jews, who committed no crime but to live in Gush Katif."

Addressing the determined and sometimes violent nature of the youth's protests, Wilder said: "Sixteen-year-olds don't react the same way as fifty-year-olds. Sometimes, the reactions are exaggerated; but then again, remember what they are fighting for. Contrast these young people to how many youth have been stabbed at Israeli nightclubs due to 'love' or drugs or alcohol, or all three of the above. Dozens and dozens, almost every weekend another act of real violence. These young in Hevron are fighting for the good of our land, of our people, of our Torah."

What do you think?
Whom should I believe?

Monday, January 16, 2006


It never ceases to amaze me how everything in the world has it's opposite, but more often than not that "opposite" is couched in the same language as the 'original'. The example that caught my eye and prompted this post was a quote from a facinating article in the Chicago Tribune, exploring the Muslim Brotherhood in America!
"Leaders were told that during prayer meetings they should focus on fundamentals, including "the primary goal of the Brotherhood: setting up the rule of God upon the Earth."

By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Sam Roe
and Laurie CohenTribune staff reporters
Chicago Tribune

Now think about Jewish litergy: What is the ultimate objective of Judaism? To bring G-d's kingdom to this world. In the Jewish concept there is the understanding (Aleynu L'Shabeach) that all nations will come around to the realization that the various "gods" they worship are all really manifestations of the "One True G-d" and in doing so will come to mutual respect and cooperation.

I wonder what the Muslim Brotherhood means when it says the primary goal (of Islam) is "setting up the rule of God upon the Earth"?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Irony of Oslo

The "upside" of the following news item is that all those Palestinian loving Jews on the radical Left will now feel better about all the money Israel invested in "by-pass" roads during the Oslo period. They were originally created to make it possible for Israeli traffic to travel through the non-Palestinian controlled areas safely, while permitting a withdrawal of Israel security forces from Palestinian controlled areas. From time to time I would read of the "hundreds of millions" spent on roads intended for "settlers Only" as I would stand on the side of these roads watching Arab traffic pass by, waiting for the occasional Jew to offer me a lift.

Now these roads will become forbidden to Jewish traffic, and THAT will be a reason to rejoice!
The next step in the government's attempts to implement the US backed road map for setting up a Palestinian state, may be to prohibit Jews from driving on the main highway in Judea and Samaria.

Main Road in Judea and Samaria May be Closed to Jewish Traffic
By Scott Shiloh
Israel National News

The military authority charged with building the security barrier roughly along the state's pre-1967 boundaries, Keshet Tsvaim, has already drafted a proposal to restrict Jewish traffic on the highway. If implemented, the proposal would force Jews to travel dozens of miles out of the way in order to reach their homes or get to work.

The main road running north-south down the central spine of Judea and Samaria is Route 60, a highway which to a large extent follows a route used since Biblical times.

The road, connects many major Biblical and historical sites, from Beersheva in the Negev, through Hevron, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Bet El, Shiloh, Schechem, Jenin, Afula, and Nazereth, in the Galilee.

Ironically, much of the road was repaved and re-routed following the Oslo accords at the cost of millions of shekels to the Israeli taxpayer, in order to bypass Arab populated cities. The new route was designed to facilitate safe, swift, and secure, civilian vehicular traffic for Arab and Jewish residents alike.

Now if Keshet Tzvaim has its way, Jewish residents living in communities located literally on Route 60 will not be able to use the road to reach their destinations.

Residents of Elon Moreh, Har Brachah, Shiloh, and Eli, for example, who wished to drive southward to Jerusalem, would be forced to take a detour dozens of miles eastward to the Alon road. That road is a narrow circuitous route on the edge of the desert, strewn with innumerable safety and security hazards.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Fences Make Good Neighbours

[In response to a Political Rant disguised as an Architecture Article in January 1, 2006 New York Times]

Dear Sirs,

There is so much I could say about your very distorted view of the Security Fence in your article on January 1st titled "A Line in the Sand".

"The wall destroys the space for those who once occupied the middle ground: those who refuse to divide the world into good and bad, civilization and barbarity."

Let it suffice to say that my twenty-eight year old niece who's only crime was to be a young Jewess taking her daughter for pizza in the heart of Jerusalem, lies comatose for the past four years, the result of a suicide bomber's attempt to destroy the fabric of Israeli society. It is not we that "divided the world into good and bad, civilization and barbarity." It was the Palestinian Arabs by their very actions!

"It [the security fence] threatens to sever the threads, already fragile, that might one day be woven into a more tolerant image of coexistence."

The Palestinians have already severed any threads with over 2,400 terror attacks over four years! When our Palestinian neighbors decide to live in peaceful coexistence the gates can open and commerce and culture shared. Until then I have many other nieces and nephews that need to be protected from people who don't understand the concept of peace coexistence.

Yoel Ben-Avraham
Shilo, Benyamin, Israel

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke
Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 - 1797)

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Between Xian & Jew

When you dig down deep underneath the "sectarian theology", I'd like to believe that everyone who believes that human kind was in some fashion "created" by a "supreme being" senses the underlying oneness that unites us all. The following excerpt from an article that explores both the pros and the cons of the "commonality" between believing Jews and evangelical Christians, includes the following excerpt.

Among Evangelicals, A Kinship With Jews
Some Skeptical of Growing Phenomenon
By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post
Sunday, January 8, 2006

He also has a personal story. The pivotal moment of Mooneyham's childhood came at age 7 when his parents, in the middle of a divorce, took him and his three sisters to a church parking lot in Burlington, N.C., and parceled them out to relatives for a few weeks. Those few weeks turned into years. The family never came together again.

Nearly 45 years later, the pastor was watching television before a Sunday morning church service when he came upon an infomercial by Rabbi Yechiel Z. Eckstein, founder of a group called the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Eckstein was standing in Israel with an elderly woman from Russia who said she was finally home.

"She started crying, he started crying, and I started crying," Mooneyham said. "Then I said, 'Lord, help me, because I'm really going to throw my congregation a curveball today. We're going to help Jews -- we're not going to witness to them, we're just going to help them. Because I know what home means.' "

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Tragedy of It All!

It is truly a tragic situation when good, decent people are relieved when tragedy befalls another Jew. It is not that these normally decent good hearted people want Arik Sharon to suffer or even die. They just want him out-of-the-way! As a result of divine providence or if you'd prefer blind fate, it looks like they'll get what they want.

The real tragedy is that Arik Sharon is not the problem. He has become the symbol, or focal point of the problem, perhaps even the "agent", but not the problem itself.

If so, then what IS the problem?

In my humble opinion the problem stems from the basic dichotomy and duplicity implicit in the movement(s) that founded the state. On one hand they needed to be perceived both by the Jewish People and the International Community as the legitimate representatives of the Jewish People, empowered to realize the Jewish People's millennium old aspiration to return as a people to the Land of Israel. On the other, they were totally alienated from the life blood of the Jewish People, its Torah and tradition. To compensate the nascent Zionist movement borrowed the language and outward trappings of Judaism without accepting any of its inner essence. The result was the ability to win the adherence and cooperation of all but the most strictly observant Jews, exploiting their energies, capital and children, all the while growing more and more alienated from the raison d'etre of Jewish existence.

What we are witnessing in this last decade is the Left's conscious or unconscious decision to stop "playing the game". Perhaps it is the realization that demographically they have no future. Cautious estimates forecast that by 2020 the secular Jewish population will be less than 25% of the overall population. The Observant Religious Jews and non-Jewish vying for the remaining 75%. Perhaps it is simply the impatience of the newest generation so completely cut off from the Jewish roots of their grandparents, coupled with the quintessential Israeli chutzpah that knows no justification for compromise or respect for others. Whatever the reason, the Oslo initiatives, and especially the "Disengagement" policies have brought the State of Israel to a crossroads from which there is no turning back.

Either these "Israeli" forces, succeed in forcing their anti-Jewish agenda on the people, or the (I'd like to believe) majority of Jews who came here because they wanted to live as Jews in a Jewish state somehow find a way to work together and gradually bring the state back in the direction of Jewish values and the realization of the age old aspirations of the Jewish People. Let us hope we do manage to find a way to effect this resolution without bloodshed.

Christmas in Jerusalem

Appro to my post yesterday, and an interesting conversation I had with a coworker on the same issue, coincidentally, as I was writing the post - I tumbled onto a long and detailed article decribing the Israeli crimes against the Palestinians and how there is no hope for "peace" or "normalacy". Jay Michaelson describes the aspirations of the "secular" zionist like this:

"At its core, secular Zionism was about the belief that there should be a place in the world where Jews are normal. This is what the lefties miss when they talk about a "bi-national state" -- that without the specifically Jewish character of Israel, Jewishness ceases to be normal. It becomes what it is in every other country in the world, the dozen Arab ones included: an aberration, a difference. Maybe a productive one -- but not a chosen one, and therefore not entirely just. We can't be normal until being Jewish is normal, the Zionists said, and the only way for that to be is for there to be a place where Christmas is extra, but Chanukah is taken for granted."

When he tries to sum up the view of the world as he understands the religious zionist sees it, he describes it thus:

"Normalcy is the opposite of what religious Zionism has aspired to create. It never wanted to be ordinary; it wanted to be special. Israel would be not a country like any other, but rather a light unto the nations, a nation that dwells alone, the beginning of the dawn of redemption. The soil itself is holy; the promise that God makes is exclusive to the Jews; and to speak of 'normalcy' is to shrug off the unique, Divine mission of the Jewish people. These ideas may once have given consolation to a scattered nation, and they can be inspiring aspirations. But coupled with guns, the reactionary and irrational delusions of an anti-modern ideology leads to a dangerous denial of reality. Jewish priorities get turned upside-down. Grabbing sacred territory becomes more important than preserving human life; bringing the messiah more important than bringing peace. Nothing is normal; everything is either holy or evil."

In my many conversations with Jews who do not believe in Torah, I've struggled to understand why they would suffer decades of deliberate attacks against their person and property, would continue to live in a constant state of insecurity, when all they have to do is get a visa and move to California or Ontario and "dissappear".

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Follow Up to " The Orange Ray of Hope"

To My Reader in Montreal, Shalom,

First of all ... thank you for your long and detailed response!

I think it is also important to remember that Western democracy is far from perfect and the fact that the West maintains that their democracy is the "way" to go in the Middle East, is just not right. How can the West assume to even think that they have the market on correct forms of government? I know the answer there, (because of the christian preoccupation with dominance!)

My dear friend, there is a world of difference between an imperfect form of "democracy" where at least the basic principles of "accountability of the elected to the elector" are at least in place, and the grotesque illusion of democracy of most Middle Eastern regimes (unfortunately more and more Israeli itself)! Brian Mulroney might have gotten away with highway robbery when his party exploited every parliamentary loophole to push through the NAFTA without adequate review and debate ... but his party suffered the most resounding defeat in the history of any western democracy as a result!

Living in the U.S. for so long and immigrating to Canada 5 years ago, I have learned a few things. I don't think there we know what a correct form of democracy is, whether it be in the U.S. format or a Parliamentary format.

I agree, although after careful consideration I personally prefer the British/Canadian/Australian parliamentary system to America's or France's republican system.

In my religious studies I've become quite cynical of where I have come from, and I believe that in order to finally attain "Peace" someone must come forth and create a "zone of truce and peace" where everyone must realize what is truly at stake. This is not about the holy sites, and keeping them for whomever, this is about giving the next generation of children a place to live, in a hopeful world where humanity matters and the killing Stops!

Cynicism is the first step to true understanding - you learn to question all alternatives equally! ;-)
Unfortunately there is evil in the world ... people who deny the principle that all men are created equally. As long as this is true, the "superior" will always seek to dominate and/or eliminate the "inferior". It does not matter whether that superiority stems from ideology or what passes as religion. Remind me to share with you my personal insight on this question.

I saw a report on CTV tonight about a policeman in Ramallah and the fact that masked/armed gun men walk the streets as they do is so foreign to me.

Welcome to the insane world of western media - they are touting these masked men as "the hope of Palestinian democracy". Like our tubby little Chinese friend once said, if this is democracy, it is democracy that realizes that all power comes from the barrels of rifles!

We all - at some point - must agree on one point, that Peace and Co-existence is a viable Possibility. How we are to achieve this is beyond my comprehension.

I wish I could ... unfortunately after living in the reality of the Middle East for thirty five years I have come to realize that "Peace and Coexistence" are only possible where there is mutual respect. As long as the predominate Arab/Muslim population denies the rights of non-Muslims, there can be no real 'peace' and definite not a coexistence of equals!

Sorry friend!


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Sunday, January 01, 2006

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The Orange Ray of Hope

I sometimes ask my wife how she feels about being Jewish. The question isn't as facile as you might think. When your Jewishness is the result of your personal decision and not an inheritance from your parents and grandaparents, the very idea of Jewishness takes on an additional flavour and import. I like to ask my wife (and somethimes my children who don't have patience for their father's introspection) to have a basis of comparison, or perhaps to benefit from the "grounding" she/they provide.

Most Torah knowledgeable Jews know that classically, wantabe converts to Judaism are discouraged. When a candidate for conversion comes to the Rabbinic Court (Beit Din), traditionally the Beit Din describes the difficulties of life as a Jew, the persecutions, the exiles and the general insecurity of life as a Jew in a hostile world. If the candidate demonstrates a good knowledge of Judaism and is sincere in their desire to become a Jew, but especially despite the Beit Din's exhortations the candidate still asks to be accepted, normally the Beit Din accepts them.

Converting and making Aliyah in 1972, before the Yom Kippur War and quickly identifying with the 'National Religious' movement shortly after my arrival in Israel, the dire warnings of the Beit Din seems some how anachronistic and out-of-step with the reality in which I found myself here in Israel. Israel survived the three major challenges to her existence, the War of Independence, the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War. As an economy Israel succeeded in branching out beyond the initial exporter of agricultural products toward the exploitation of the Jewish People's most valuable commodity - Jewish intellect! Moreover, as a Jew who valued Jewish tradition and scholarship this period marked the greatest expansion of Torah learning of any time in Jewish history.

Today, with the approaching showdown between those Jews who came to Israel to live Jewish lives and those Jews who appear bent on turning Israel into a secular "democracry of all its citizens", I seriously wonder where my family's future lies. The systematic effort on the part of the anti-Jewish forces to dismantle the system of religious services in the state by closing down the Ministry of Religious Affairs. The systematic disenfranchisement of not only the "Ultra Religious" (non-Zionist) but also the National Religious camp by cutting funding to religious schools by 70%, when the per-capita funding was lower than that to non-religious schools before the cut! The systematic effort to make it increasingly difficult to both serve in the IDF and remain true to the ideals of Jewish faith. The systematic recruitment of the media in the promotion of one side of the great nationa debate and the effective silencing of all voices of opposition. And then finally, ultimate challenge to the realization of the Jewish People's millenium old aspiration to live in the Land of Israel, the exile and destruction of the communities of Gush Kastif, and the growing threat of the exile of similar destruction of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

With all due respect to the befuddled Israeli's who do not have a deep and meaningful Jewish identity, I would never have fought in three wars, nor will I encourage my children to risk their lives to defend a travesty of democracry which systematically promotes values antithetical to those we believe in. If the "Israeli's" and their Christian and Muslim friends want to defend the right of the ruling oligarchy to continue to disenfranchise them and to exploit the resources of the state to enrich the few while the many grow increasingly impoverished ... there is no logical reason why I should join them. I was willing to live with Israel's "imperfections" as long as I had hope that eventually we would gradually succeed in correcting the many "deficiencies", as long as I felt there was a genuine dialogue between the "Jews" and the "Israeli's". With the growing one-sidedness of the "debate" and the systematic exploitation of government sanctioned force to enforce government decisions not arrived at through a popular vote - my hopes for a more Jewish, more democratic more just State of Israel are rapidly waning.

The one real ray of light in the growing struggle between those who want a Jewish state and those who want a state devoid of anything except empty lip-service to Jewishness, are the "Orange". These, predominately youthfull, passionately idealistic people just might have the key to saving the soul of a Jewish Israel.