Wednesday, 30 December 2009

UNIVERSAL TORAH: VAYECHI

UNIVERSAL TORAH: VAYECHI


By Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Torah Reading: VAYECHI Gen. 47:28-50:26. Haftara: I Kings 2:1-12.

AND JACOB LIVED.

"And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years" (Gen. 47:28). These were "good" years (17 is the gematria of TOV = "good") as opposed to the first one hundred and thirty years of Jacob's 147-year life. The first hundred and thirty years were riddled with suffering. Through the suffering Jacob endured while struggling to build his family, the House of Israel, he rectified Adam's 130 years of separation from Eve (see Rashi on Genesis 4:25), during which Adam wasted his seed and created demons, instead of peopling the world with Bney Adam.

G-d's first command to Adam was "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and conquer it" (Gen. 1:28). As explained by Rabbi Nachman (Likutey Moharan II:7), this commandment is fulfilled not by producing anthropoid monsters but by giving birth to, raising and educating true Children of Adam, who bear the TZURAH ("form") of ADAM, who was made "in the image of G-d".

Ever since Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, their generations were flawed. Cain killed Abel, Canaan sodomized Noah, the Sodomites wanted to sodomize the angels, the kings of Egypt and of the Philistines and the crown prince of Shechem kidnapped women, Ishmael lived by the sword, Esau was a rapist.

Only Jacob was SHALEM, "Whole" or "Perfect" (Gen. 32:18): Jacob bore the true TZURAH of ADAM, of whom it is said: "And upon the likeness of the throne was a likeness having the appearance of ADAM upon it from above" (Ezekiel 1:26). When man perfects himself, G-d shines through him and is thus revealed in the world.

Jacob is sometimes called Yaakov, sometimes Yisrael. Yaakov is "small" ("Yaakov her SMALL son" Gen. 27:15; "How will Yaakov rise, for he is SMALL" Amos 7:5). In his "small" aspect -- his time of struggle and suffering (MOCHIN D'KATNUS, "constricted consciousness") -- Jacob signifies that the revelation of G-d is as yet incomplete and is still proceeding in stages. But Yisrael, Israel, is Jacob's name of greatness -- "for you have struggled with G-d and with men and you have prevailed" (Gen. 32:29).In his "great" aspect (MOCHIN D'GADLUS, "expanded consciousness") Jacob -- Israel -- signifies that G-d's greatness is revealed and manifest in the world.

This was the case at the time of the Exodus from Egypt and the Giving of the Torah, when the entire world shook with G-d's self-revelation. It was the case during the reigns of King David and his son Solomon, who built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. And it will be the case again in the near future, when G-d's House of Prayer for All the Nations will stand in the center of the world on Mount Moriah in the Holy City of Jerusalem. [The intensity of the hatred in much of the world today for all that goes by the name of Israel signifies how far the world is from HaShem. But "the people that go in darkness will see great light and those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, light has shone upon them" (Isaiah 9:11).]

Our parshah of VAYECHI puts the seal on the first of the Five Books of Moses, the book of Genesis (Bereishis), portraying Jacob, the rectified Adam, in his "good" years at the end of his life. They are good years, because Jacob is now reunited with Joseph, who is in his place of true glory ruling over Egypt. Jacob's main love was essentially for Rachel. It was for her that he served Laban, and it was because Joseph was Rachel's firstborn that "Israel loved Joseph out of all his sons" (Gen. 37:3). While Leah signifies the "hidden realm", Rachel signifies G-d's glory revealed in and through this world. This comes about when Jacob-Israel (=ADAM, the Soul complete with its Nefesh, Ru'ach and Neshamah levels) conquers Esau (=the Serpent, ASIYAH, the realm of material activity), using this world to build a sanctuary for G-d.

Our parshah of VAYECHI also contains a number of specific allusions to the Temple in Jerusalem, as in Jacob's blessing to Judah (Gen. 49:11) and especially his blessing to Benjamin (ibid. v. 27). The Temple Altar stood in the territory of Benjamin, son of Rachel. Thus in Jacob's funeral procession, his twelve sons carried him up to the Land of Israel in the same positions in which their descendents the twelve tribes encamped around the Sanctuary in the Wilderness. Jacob and his sons, the House of Israel, are the Sanctuary in which G-d dwells in the world. "And I will dwell within them" (Exodus 25:8).

* * *

HEAR O ISRAEL!

Jacob spent the final "good" years of his life fulfilling the commandment to be spiritually fruitful -- by educating the young, especially his grandson Ephraim (see Rashi on Gen. 48:1: "Ephraim was habitually with Jacob learning"). Jacob'sfinal blessings, will and testament to his sons, with their harsh chastisements, were also intended to be educational.

According to tradition, "At the time when Jacob our father assembled his sons in Egypt at the hour of his death, he commanded and spurred them on in the unification of the name of G-d and that they should follow the path of HaShem that Abraham and Isaac his father walked. He asked them and said, 'My sons, maybe someone among you is flawed and does not stand with me in the Unification of the Name.?' They all answered and said, 'Hear Israel HaShem our G-d HaShem is One' -- that is, 'Hear from us, our father Israel, HaShem our G-d HaShem is one'. The old man answered 'Blessed be the Name of the Glory of His Kingship for ever and ever!' And this is why all Israel has the custom of repeating the expression of the praise used by Israel when he was an old man after this verse". (Rambam, Laws of Recital of Shema Ch. 1:4).

* * *

JACOB'S BLESSINGS

Jacob's death-bed blessings to his sons contain some of the most beautiful flights of Biblical poetry. It is noteworthy that Onkelos, author of the best-known Aramaic Targum (= "translation") of the Five Books of Moses, departs here from his usual practice of giving the simplest, clearest PSHAT (= "simple meaning") of the Biblical text except where DRUSH, Midrash, "searching out" beneath the surface is absolutely indispensable. However here, as in the case of some other highly poetic passages (the Song at the Sea, Bilaam's blessings, the Song of Moses -- HA-AZINU -- and his final blessings), Onkelos felt obliged to introduce MIDRASH into his Targum in order to bring out the essential meaning of the text, which contains allusions to all historical periods and especially the time of Mashiach.

Thus it is Onkelos who informs us that SHILOH (Gen. 49:10) is Mashiach. The Tribes are compared to various animals. Judah is a lion, Issachar is a wide-boned donkey, Dan is a serpent, Naftali a gracious hind, Benjamin a preying fox. In the case of Jacob's children, the animal qualities are elevated in order to destroy the wicked and give the victory to G-d. Thus Onkelos translates Gen. 49:14-15 as: "Yissachar will be wealthy in possessions and his inheritance is between the boundaries. And he saw that his share is good and that the land produces fruits. And he conquered the territories of the nations and destroyed their inhabitants and those who remain of them will serve him and pay him taxes." Onkelos translates the blessing of Benjamin (v. 49:27: "Benjamin is a preying fox, in the morning he devours the prey, in the evening he divides the prey") as: "In the land of Benjamin the Shechinah will dwell (= TISHREI) and in his inheritance the Holy Temple will be built, in the morning and in the afternoon the priests will offer sacrifices and in the evening they will divide the rest of their portions from the other offerings".

Onkelos himself was a GER TZEDEK ("righteous convert"). He was the son of the sister of the Roman Emperor Titus." It is said that before Onkelos converted, he raised the spirits of Titus, Balaam, and Yeshu from hell in order to find out the truth. All three confirmed that the nation of Israel is held in the highest repute in the world to come (Gittin 56b, 57a). Onkelos learned Torah from Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus ("Rabbi Eliezer the Great") and Rabbi Yehoshua, who were outstanding students of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai and were also the teacher-partners of Rabbi Akiva. Onkelos' Targum is the first and most authoritative "commentary" on the Torah.

* * *

AND THE DWELLER OF THE LAND OF THE CANAANITE SAW.

When Joseph went up with his brothers to bury Jacob, "they came to the threshing floor of Atad (= bramble)" (Gen. 50:10). According to Rashi, "It was surrounded by brambles. All the kings of Canaan and princes of Ishmael came to war, but when they saw the crown of Joseph hung on Jacob's ARON (= Ark), they all stood and hung their crowns and surrounded him with crowns from the threshing-floor which was surrounded by a fence of brambles.

The kings and Canaan and princes of Ishmael were confounded by the ARON, the holy ark of Jacob, crowned with the crown of Joseph.

According to tradition, this took place on during Chanukah-time. Jacob's HISTALKUS (ascent) was on 15th Tishri, the first night of Succos. The Egyptians wept for him seventy days, upon which Joseph and his brothers went up to Israel to bury him. The seventieth day after 15th of Tishri is 25th Kislev, the first day of Chanukah. The initial letters of the four Hebrew words in the verse "and the dweller of the land of the Canaanite saw" are the permutation of the name of HaShem that holds sway in the month of Kislev (see Kavanos of Rosh Chodesh Musaf prayers).

There is an integral conceptual connection between Jacob's funeral procession and Chanukah, which is the time of the inauguration of the Temple. Jacob's twelve sons, the holy House of Israel, under the leadership of Joseph the Tzaddik, were taking Jacob -- the archetypal House-Builder -- to his final, eternal house and home in the Cave of Machpelah, the resting place of Adam and Eve as well as the patriarchs and matriarchs.

The funeral procession was a "rehearsal" for the formation in which the twelve tribes would would bring the Ark of the Covenant up from the wilderness and into the Holy Land. This is paradigmatic of the building of the Holy Temple, the House of G-d on the spot where Jacob had his dream of the ladder: "This is none other than the House of G-d and this is the Gate of Heaven" (Gen. 28:17). That place is alluded to in the opening word of the Torah, BEREISHIS, the letters of which, when re-arranged, spell out BAYIS ROSH, the House that is Head (=Tefilin shel Rosh). It was to that place that Joseph promised his brothers that they would return from Egypt: "G-d will surely redeem you and bring you up from this land to the Land which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob" (Gen. 50:24).

CHAZAK! CHAZAK! VE-NIS-CHAZEK!
"Be strong! Be strong -- and we will be strong!"

Shabbat Shalom!

Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum

--
AZAMRA INSTITUTE
PO Box 50037 Jerusalem 91500 Israel
Website: www.azamra.org

Love of the Land: World's Largest Desalinization Plant comes On-line in Israel

World's Largest Desalinization Plant comes On-line in Israel


Charlie Ettinson
Thoughts: A Buck Each
30 December 09

The world's largest water desalinization plant has begun operation in Hadera, in Israel. The plant should be able to provide 300 million cubic meters of water every year which is just shy of one third of the water Israel's National Water Carrier currently provides. The new facility will be the cornerstone of Israel's new national water carrier which, rather than relying on natural sources of water such as the Sea of Galilee--already under heavy strain--will rely on desalinized water.

As a first point, it may not be true that this plant is the largest in the world.
This article, for example, suggests that the largest water desalinization plant in the world just opened in Saudi Arabia. It's possible that this plant has overshadowed the Saudi one, or perhaps it's a different type of facility. It really is immaterial, but could nonetheless be an error in the original article.

Secondly, though desalinization can have negative environmental effects, this is a project that should be welcomed. Given the extreme damage being done to the sea of Galilee by the large amount of water being withdrawn from it, any small environmental impact in the Mediterranean could be eclipsed by the benefits of reducing pressure on the Sea of Galilee and on the Jordan river and Dead Sea which it feeds.

(Read full post)

Love of the Land: World's Largest Desalinization Plant comes On-line in Israel

Israel Matzav: UN 'expert' calls for sanctions against Israel

UN 'expert' calls for sanctions against Israel

A United Nations 'expert' has called for imposing sanctions on Israel for its continued 'blockade' of the Gaza Strip.

“Obviously Israel does not respond to language of diplomacy, which has encouraged the lifting of the blockade and so what I am suggesting is that it has to be reinforced by a threat of adverse economic consequences for Israel,” Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, told UN Radio.

“That probably is something that is politically unlikely to happen, but unless it happens, it really does suggest that the United States and the Quartet and the EU [European Union] don’t take these calls for lifting the blockade very seriously and are unaffected by Israel’s continuing defiance of those calls,” he said, referring to the diplomatic Quartet of the UN, EU, Russia and US, which have been calling for a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), the main UN body tending to the needs of some 4 million Palestinian refugees, said today Gaza had been “bombed back, not to the Stone Age, but to the mud age,” because UNRWA was reduced to building houses out of mud after the 22-day offensive Israel said it launched to end rocket attacks against it.

“The Israeli blockade has meant that almost no reconstruction materials have been allowed to move into Gaza even though 60,000 homes were either damaged or completely destroyed. So we in UNRWA have been saying ‘let's lift this senseless blockage,’” UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told UN Radio.

“We are the United Nations and we always hope that diplomacy will prevail, and it will prevail above the rationale of warfare. But if you look at what is going on in Gaza, and if you look at the continued blockade and the fact that that blockade is radicalizing a population there, then one has to have one’s doubts.”

For the record, Falk is a 9/11 truther who has been barred from entering Israel at all. And aid allowed into Gaza by the IDF has increased by 900% in 2009 as compared with 2008. But that doesn't fit with the narrative that the UN wants to perpetuate about Gaza. According to the UN, Gaza is starving. Decide for yourselves.

He looks real hungry, doesn't he?

Israel Matzav: UN 'expert' calls for sanctions against Israel

Life in Israel: Learning from El AL (video)

Learning from El AL (video)




Life in Israel: Learning from El AL (video)

Love of the Land: Security for Israel, By Israel

Security for Israel, By Israel

Rabbi Meir Chai Hy”d


JINSA
Report #: 950
28 December 09

[Note: at the Sunday funeral of the three men, thousands of Palestinians chanted anti-PA slogans, accusing the Palestinian Authority of "collusion" with Israel to arrest, disarm and kill Fatah military operatives. A largely unreported story is the unhappiness of Palestinians with the ruthlessness of the PA security forces in hunting down its internal enemies-Hamas, to be sure, but recalcitrant Fatah members and others as well. The United States and international "human rights" organizations have been completely and utterly silent about vicious abuses taking place inside the PA. It may be that the Palestinian public is reaching the limits of its patience with its own security force.]

On Thursday, three Palestinians murdered teacher and father of seven Rabbi Meir Chai in the West Bank. On Friday, Israeli forces surrounded the Nablus homes of the three suspects, all members of Fatah's al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, and demanded they surrender. Israeli intelligence had identified the men and cautioned that all three were armed. One came out holding his wife in front of him. The second refused to come out of his house, which was filled with family members. The third went to his attic and was shouting "Allah Akhbar" as the Israelis came upstairs. All three, but no others, were killed.

According to Ha'aretz, the Obama Administration, acting on complaints from the Palestinian Authority, requested that Israel "explain." The Palestinians had asked the United States to condemn the raid as a violation of Palestinian authority in Area A, saying Israel should have asked the PA security forces to arrest the three. American officials received both the intelligence information and the details of the operation, and thus far at least, the administration has declined to offer an opinion.

Which is wise, as there are bigger issues at play here.

(Read full report)


Love of the Land: Security for Israel, By Israel

Israel Matzav: Forgetting the lessons of 9/11

Forgetting the lessons of 9/11

Jeff Jacoby reminds us of some of the forgotten lessons of 9/11 of which we were reminded by the attempt to bring down Delta 253 in the skies of Detroit and southern Canada last week. To me, this is the key lesson.

Terrorists can always adapt to new restrictions. After 9/11, knives and sharp metal objects were banned from carry-on luggage, so Richard Reid attempted to detonate a shoe bomb. Thereafter everyone's shoes were checked, so the 2006 Heathrow plotters planned to use liquid-based explosives. Now liquids are strictly limited, so Abdulmutallab smuggled PETN, an explosive powder, in his underwear. There is no physical constraint that determined jihadists cannot find a way to circumvent. Yet US airport security remains obstinately reactive -- focused on intercepting dangerous things, instead of intercepting dangerous people. Unwilling to incorporate ethnic and religious profiling in our air-travel security procedures, we have saddled ourselves with a mediocre security system that inconveniences everyone while protecting no one.

How quickly we forget. Read the whole thing and remember.

Israel Matzav: Forgetting the lessons of 9/11

Israel Matzav: Rabbi Meir Chai's murderers lauded as 'Palestinian' heroes

Rabbi Meir Chai's murderers lauded as 'Palestinian' heroes

Palestinian Media Watch is reporting that 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen is turning the three murderers of Rabbi Meir Chai HY"D (may God avenge his blood) into 'Palestinian' heroes.

The response of the PA has been unequivocal support and backing for the terrorists. Since Friday, the leadership of the PA, the heads of Fatah, the heads of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and the PA-controlled media have continuously portrayed the killers as Palestinian heroes and Shahids -- holy Martyrs -- while describing Israel's killing of the three terrorists as "murder in cold blood" and "assassination."

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas declared the killers "Shahids" (holy Martyrs) and sent his personal emissary to visit the families:

"Secretary General of the Presidents Bureau, Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim, conveyed condolences on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas to the residents of Nablus and to the families of the three Shahids [Martyrs] for the Martyrdom of their sons, who were assassinated by Israeli occupation forces yesterday morning. He conveyed to the fighting families letters of condolences from the President [Abbas] and updated them as to [Abbas's] decision to declare them as Shahids [Martyrs] of the Palestinian revolution..."

Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim: "Without doubt, what the [Israeli] occupation authorities have carried out is a wild and barbaric act and a deliberate, malicious assassination in cold blood."
[PA TV (Fatah) News, Dec. 27, 2009]

PA Prime Minster Salam Fayyad [the Western-looking 'moderate' CiJ] went even further, personally visiting the families of the terrorists along with other senior PA officials.

"Prime Minister visits Nablus and conveys condolences to the families of the Shahids (Martyrs). Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad today visited the city of Nablus in the wake of the Israeli military operation, and presented condolences to the families of the three Martyrs who were murdered by the occupation forces.

Dr. Fayyad was accompanied by Internal Affairs Minister Dr. Said Abu Ali, leaders of the security agencies, and Police Director-General Major General Hazem Atallah, and they visited the house of mourning, which was held in the Trade Unions compound in the city... The Prime Minister condemned the Israeli military operation in the city."
[WAFA news agency, Dec. 26, 2009]

Read the whole thing.

The 'peace partner' doesn't fight terror and complains when someone else fights terror on its behalf. The 'peace partner' isn't really a peace partner after all.

What could go wrong?


Israel Matzav: Rabbi Meir Chai's murderers lauded as 'Palestinian' heroes

Israel Matzav: Obama still can't take 'no' for an answer

Obama still can't take 'no' for an answer

Glenn Kessler has a lengthy column in the Washington Post about the preparations that the United States is making for sanctions against Iran.

Now, in what may be a difficult balancing act, officials say the administration wants to carefully target sanctions to avoid alienating the Iranian public -- while keeping the door ajar to a resolution of the struggle over Iran's nuclear program. The aim of any sanctions is to force the Tehran government to the negotiating table, rather than to punish it for either its apparent push to develop a nuclear weapon or its treatment of its people.

"We have never been attracted to the idea of trying to get the whole world to cordon off their economy," said a senior U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. "We have to be deft at this, because it matters how the Iranian people interpret their isolation -- whether they fault the regime or are fooled into thinking we are to blame."

As a result, top officials show little apparent interest in legislation racing through Congress that would punish companies that sell refined petroleum to Iran. "Sanctions would not be an alternative to engagement," another senior official said. "Our intention is to keep the door open."

Did anyone ask the Iranian people how they feel about sanctions against their country? Everything I have seen indicates that the Iranian people want the government and the Revolutionary Guard hit and hit hard. The Iranian people, according to every report I have seen, are willing to suffer under a sanctions regimen if it will overthrow the government. But of course Obama, who is still convinced that someday - someday - Ali Khameni will invite him for dinner and a conversation, is unwilling to do anything that would bring about regime change in Iran.

Moreover, the time for pinpoint targeted sanctions was a year ago when Iran wasn't so close to a nuclear weapon. A year ago, there was (or might have been) time for a go-slow approach. But with a year wasted on YouTube greetings and love letters, there is no longer time for the pinpoint targeted approach. Iran has to be stopped. Anything that doesn't work almost instantaneously is practically useless at this point. Obama is convinced that a nuclear Iran can be contained. He is unwilling to even start the fight. He has given it up even before it has begun. It is likely to remain to Israel and to Israel alone to try to stop - or at least slow down - the Iranian nuclear juggernaut.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Obama still can't take 'no' for an answer

Israel Matzav: Obama votes 'present' on 'Palestinian' terror

Obama votes 'present' on 'Palestinian' terror

A US Federal judge is angry at the Obama administration's refusal to take a stance in the lawsuit of the family of Esh Kodesh Gilmore HY"D (may God avenge his blood), an American who was murdered by a 'Palestinian' terrorist in the early days of the 'second intifada' (also known as the Oslo War).

In an opinion filed Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler complained that the Obama administration was "particularly unhelpful" and the State Department "mealy-mouthed" in refusing to provide official guidance on the complex foreign policy issues involved in the case. Kessler was attempting to decide whether the Palestinian Authority should be granted a trial it recently sought or forced to pay a default judgment because of past decisions not to defend itself against the lawsuit. Gilmore's family claims the PLO's Tanzim branch was responsible for his death in the shooting outside an Israeli government office in East Jerusalem.

"The Executive Branch of the United States has been particularly unhelpful in resolving this difficult Motion," Kessler wrote. "The Court requested that the State Department file a Statement of Interest in order to understand the international ramifications of any order it might enter, and to be apprised of our Government’s position about such ramifications. In this case, as in Knox v. The Palestinian Liberation Organization. ... the State Department declined to do so. Instead it filed the identical mealy-mouthed Notice there as it did in this case. That Notice, for all practical purposes, said nothing and certainly provided no substantive guidance whatsoever to the Court regarding the Government’s position or concerns about any impact a decision might have on the delicate situation in the Middle East."

The U.S. government's two-page filing last month in the Gilmore case is, indeed, vague. After explicitly declining to take a formal position, the government lawyers said this: "The United States supports just compensation for victims of terrorism from those responsible for their losses and has encouraged all parties to resolve these cases to their mutual benefit. At the same time, the United States remains concerned about the potentially significant impact that these default cases may have on the defendants’ financial and political viability."

If the 'Palestinian Authority' goes broke, the Obumbler will just have to create a new one with which to torment Israel's existence. So just like he did in Congress, he continues to vote 'present.' But the President of the United States cannot vote 'present.' The buck stops here.

What could go wrong?

Israel Matzav: Obama votes 'present' on 'Palestinian' terror

Israel Matzav: Ayalon explains why Israel has the best claim

Ayalon explains why Israel has the best claim

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon explains why Israel has the best claim to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and that none of the drafters of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 ever contemplated Israel's return to the 1949 armistice lines.

The name "West Bank" was first used in 1950 by the Jordanians when they annexed the land to differentiate it from the rest of the country, which is on the east bank of the river Jordan. The boundaries of this territory were set only one year before during the armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan that ended the war that began in 1948 when five Arab armies invaded the nascent Jewish State. It was at Jordan's insistence that the 1949 armistice line became not a recognized international border but only a line separating armies. The Armistice Agreement specifically stated: "No provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims, and positions of either Party hereto in the peaceful settlement of the Palestine questions, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations." (Italics added.) This boundary became the famous "Green Line," so named because the military officials during the armistice talks used a green pen to draw the line on the map.

After the Six Day War, when once again Arab armies sought to destroy Israel and the Jewish state subsequently captured the West Bank and other territory, the United Nations sought to create an enduring solution to the conflict. U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 is probably one of the most misunderstood documents in the international arena. While many, especially the Palestinians, push the idea that the document demands that Israel return everything captured over the Green Line, nothing could be further from the truth. The resolution calls for "peace within secure and recognized boundaries," but nowhere does it mention where those boundaries should be.

It is best to understand the intentions of the drafters of the resolution before considering other interpretations. Eugene V. Rostow, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in 1967 and a drafter of the resolution, stated in 1990: "Security Council Resolution 242 and (subsequent U.N. Security Council Resolution) 338... rest on two principles, Israel may administer the territory until its Arab neighbors make peace; and when peace is made, Israel should withdraw to "secure and recognized borders," which need not be the same as the Armistice Demarcation Lines of 194."

Lord Caradon, the British U.N. Ambassador at the time and the resolution's main drafter who introduced it to the Council, said in 1974 unequivocally that, "It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial."

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. at the time, former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, made the issue even clearer when he stated in 1973 that, "the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal." This would encompass "less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territory, inasmuch as Israel's prior frontiers had proven to be notably insecure."

Even the Soviet delegate to the U.N., Vasily Kuznetsov, who fought against the final text, conceded that the resolution gave Israel the right to "withdraw its forces only to those lines it considers appropriate."



Israel Matzav: Ayalon explains why Israel has the best claim

Israel Matzav: Egypt claims Netanyahu willing to go back to '49 armistice lines

Egypt claims Netanyahu willing to go back to '49 armistice lines

After President Mubarak's meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday, the Egyptian government is claiming that Netanyahu is willing to return to the 1949 armistice lines that existed before the Six Day War.

The government of Egypt offered Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rare praise following a meeting on Tuesday at Cairo’s Presidential Palace. After the Israeli premier met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and other senior Egyptian officials, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit praised Netanyahu, claiming that Israel is prepared to withdraw to its 1967 borders.

I guess it would be an offense to Gheit's honor to admit that he didn't manage to talk Netanyahu into anything.

Israel Matzav: Egypt claims Netanyahu willing to go back to '49 armistice lines

Israel Matzav: EU claims funding NGO's isn't interfering

EU claims funding NGO's isn't interfering

In an interview with the JPost, Andrew Standley, the European Union's new ambassador to Israel, claims that European funding of NGO's is not interfering with Israel's internal politics.

"There is a certain perception in Israeli society that what we are financing in Israel and in this region is unique, and that these are programs aimed at influencing public policy in Israel," Andrew Standley said. "The reality is that these are global programs, and the kind of actions that we are supporting in Israel can and are just as easily funded in places like China, India, Indonesia and even the US."

Standley, a self-defined "committed European with a British passport" who took over his duties in October, said the organizations funded deal with global issues, "whether the rights of women, minorities or support for democracy. These are global programs, so there are organizations in this part of the world that submit proposals and they receive funding just as organizations do in Peru, Pakistan and wherever."

The EU ambassador's comments came amid efforts by some politicians and groups to either curb or make more transparent the funding that NGOs receive from abroad. A conference on the impact and transparency of European funding to Israeli NGOs was held in the Knesset earlier this month.

I don't buy this. And neither does NGO Monitor's Gerald Steinberg.

Gerald Steinberg, the executive director of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, said the fundamental problem with European funding of these organizations was it's lack of transparency.

"If EU officials like the ambassador believe that the funding is based on global principles, and Israel is not being treated differently, why is Israel not provided documentation to verify this? It is all done in secret," Steinberg said, referring to a 1999 protocol that showed an Israeli NGO was funded in order to convince Shas voters to vote for the left wing.

When Steinberg was reminded that this happened 10 years ago, he replied that the problem was that the protocols and minutes of meetings where these types of decisions are made were not made public.

"The ambassador, like other EU officials, makes broad claims about the basis of the funding, but the evidence we have, which is limited, doesn't support that the criteria are global. We don't know how the process works, it is all done in secret, and no evaluations are published [as to] why certain groups get funded year after year," Steinberg said.

Indeed.

Israel Matzav: EU claims funding NGO's isn't interfering

Israel Matzav: 'Israel doesn't have an independent strike capability against Iran'

'Israel doesn't have an independent strike capability against Iran'

Writing in Haaretz, Amos Harel worries that Israel does not have the capability to inflict real damage on Iran in the event that it undertakes a strike against the Islamist nation's nuclear weapons capability.

It must be stated plainly: Israel does not have independent strike capability against Iran - not in the broad sense of the term. The air force is capable of delivering a certain amount of explosives to a given target and bringing most of its aircraft back home intact. But it is doubtful whether Israel can allow itself to act against the wishes of the United States - to stand alone against an Iranian response and begin an open-ended operation against a nation of 70 million people.

An attack must be the last resort, not just another option placed on the table. It is best to disabuse ourselves of illusions about our ability to dictate a new Mideast order. That is the lesson learned, in blood, by Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon in Lebanon in 1982 and by George W. Bush in Iraq in 2003.

My gut reaction is that if Iran is getting close to the bomb and if no one else is acting (can anyone out there really see Obama going after Iran militarily?), Israel will have no choice but to act. So we will have to give it our best shot and pray for a miracle. We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.


Israel Matzav: 'Israel doesn't have an independent strike capability against Iran'

Israel Matzav: An expert who gets it

An expert who gets it

The New York Times publishes a rather disappointing article about full body scanners - the next invasion of privacy that American air travelers will be asked to endure in order to avoid doing what ought to be done to prevent terrorism in the air. Tell me honestly: How many of you are comfortable having a full body picture taken of you through your clothes even if you are told that the machine cannot save any pictures and the person viewing them is in a separate room?

At the end of the article - finally - there's an interview with an expert named Bruce Schneier, who unlike the others actually understands that the full body scan is an embarrassment that isn't going to prevent terrorism.

Bruce Schneier, a security expert who has been critical of the technology, said the latest incident had not changed his mind.

If there are a hundred tactics and I protect against two of them, I’m not making you safer,” he said. “If we use full-body scanning, they’re going to do something else.”

The millions of dollars being spent on new equipment, he said, would be better invested in investigation and intelligence work to detect bombers before they get to any airport.

In other words, the money should be spent looking for terrorists and not for the things they carry with them. That's correct. Now all you need to add to it is profiling once they get to the airport as the final precaution.

There's more from Schneier here (Hat Tip: Volokh Conspiracy).

Israel Matzav: An expert who gets it

Israel Matzav: Hamas threatens more kidnappings

Hamas threatens more kidnappings

Hamas is threatening to kidnap more IDF soldiers in the event that they don't get what they have demanded for kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit. As if they won't kidnap more IDF soldiers if they do get what they want for Shalit.

In an earlier statement, Hamdan hinted at Hamas' intention to kidnap additional Israeli soldiers if Israel doesn't accept the group's demands.

Al-Arabiya claims that a high-ranking Hamas political official was the source of the station's report. The source reportedly said consent to the Israeli proposal would ultimately damage Hamas' standing.

And 'our friends the Egyptians' are trying to goad Hamas into holding out for more.

On Tuesday immediately following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt?s foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said Egypt does not support the expulsion of prisoners or Israel?s refusal to release other prisoners.

The foreign minister was seen as trying to embarrass Hamas into rejecting the Israeli offer, which is not viewed favorably by the Egyptians because completion of the deal would strengthen Hamas.

Peace anyone?

Israel Matzav: Hamas threatens more kidnappings

Israel Matzav: Islamists removing inscription from Ezekiel's tomb in Iraq

Islamists removing inscription from Ezekiel's tomb in Iraq

In a bid to erase all Jewish connections to Iraq, in which Jews lived for approximately 2000 years, the original Hebrew inscriptions and ornamentation are being removed (or have been removed) from the tomb of Ezekiel (Yechezkel), the prophet who lived during the period of the destruction of the First Jewish Temple (approximately 600 years before the common era) (Hat Tip: Judith W via Twitter).

Four months ago a German-based Iraqi journalist tipped off the Association of Jewish Academics from Iraq in Israel that plans were afoot to build a mosque on the site of the shrine of the Jewish prophet Ezekiel at al-Kifl, this was first reported on the "Point of No Return" news blog. The rumours were investigated by a philo-Semitic Iraqi Shi'a, Dr. Jabbar Jamal al-Din, a lecturer in Jewish Thought at the Kufa University. They were denied by the shrine's director. Now a report by Ur News revives fears that in the absence of Jews on the ground, nothing, not even UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), stands in the way of politically-motivated plans to erase all Jewish traces of this ancient holy site.

Drastic changes taking place currently at the tomb of Ezekiel will change its character and prompt UNESCO to delete it as a protected site on the World Heritage List, similar to what happened to the historic city of Babylon, where old buildings were demolished and new layers of construction added.

Prof. Shmuel Moreh, the Chairman of the Association of Jewish Academics from Iraqi, Israel Prize Laureate in Arabic Literature and emeritus Professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has indicted that the Arabic news stories have tipped him that the Archeological Authority in Iraq has started a campaign to erase the Jewish aspects of the tomb of the prophet Ezekiel and the original inlay Hebrew inscriptions have been destroyed and covered by new Arabic inscriptions and Islamic symbols.
Read the whole thing. It's disgraceful, but unfortunately not all that surprising. Building mosques on sites that are holy to other religion is a Muslim modus operandi going back a long time. Think "Temple Mount."
Israel Matzav: Islamists removing inscription from Ezekiel's tomb in Iraq

Israel Matzav: Tone-deaf moron files request to visit Iran

Tone-deaf moron files request to visit Iran

Could his timing be any worse? Fox News is reporting that in the middle of the anti-government riots, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) has filed an application for permission to visit Iran.

Sen. John Kerry has filed a formal request to visit Iran, Iranian news agencies reported Tuesday -- news made public in the middle of the government's bloody crackdown on dissidents that has left more than a dozen dead.

While representatives for Kerry have so far not confirmed whether he intends to travel to Tehran, a spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry said the country's parliament is already considering the Massachusetts Democrat's official overture.

Calling him tone deaf seems too kind. He has all the tact of a bull in a china shop.

What would happen if Israel or the US attacked Iran while he was there? Hmmm.

Israel Matzav: Tone-deaf moron files request to visit Iran

Israel Matzav: What happened to our defensible borders?

What happened to our defensible borders?

Rick Richman reports that US Special Middle East envoy George Mitchell will be arriving here after the New Year and that he will have a letter of assurances for Israel. The letter will probably track a statement made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month.

We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirementsand the Israeli goal of a Jewish state .

Rick finds that wording troubling.

Letters of assurance have previously played an important part in the peace process. In 1997, Secretary of State Christopher wrote to Israel to assure it that the U.S. supported “defensible borders” for Israel as the conclusion of the peace process. In 2004, President Bush reassured Israel of the “steadfast commitment” of the U.S. to defensible borders. In his “Let Me Be Clear” address to AIPAC in 2008, Barack Obama stated that “any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders,” reflecting the longstanding U.S. commitment.

The absence of any reference to “defensible borders” in Secretary Clinton’s statement is thus both conspicuous and troubling, particularly because the administration has repeatedly refused this year to answer whether it considers itself bound by the Bush letter. Even the reference to “secure and recognized” borders is expressed in Clinton’s statement simply as an Israeli “goal” rather than as a U.S. commitment.

There is a significant difference between the prior letters given to Israel and the new “letter of guarantees” that may be given to the Palestinians. The letters to Israel were provided in exchange for tangible concessions: withdrawals from significant territories in Hebron and Gaza. They were parts of negotiated deals; they were not mere statements of policy subject to change. The possible “letter of guarantee” for the Palestinians, on the other hand, is simply for an agreement to resume negotiations, with no Palestinian concession on any issue – and on a basis that omits any reference to defensible borders.

I find a lot of other things about Clinton's statement troubling, but I am not troubled by all the same things that trouble Rick. Let's go through it line by line. There's some good news here as well.

First phrase: "We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome...." Are the good-faith negotiations between the parties or are other persons at the table? It's inconceivable to me that Clinton doesn't envision the US being at the table, but "mutually agree on an outcome" is clearly a reference to the parties. That means she's rejecting imposing a 'solution' or just sending in the troops to create one (sorry Andrew and Samantha), and that's good news.

Second phrase: "which ends the conflict..." That's also good news for two reasons. First, Israel cannot agree to any deal which does not end the conflict. Second, the 'Palestinians' won't agree to any deal which ends the conflict, because the conflict is their raison d'etre. That statement kills the deal right there if it's part of both letters.

Third phrase: "reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps,..." I'm less bothered than Rick is by the reference later on to an 'Israeli goal,' because the 'Palestinian' formulation includes a 'Palestinian goal' and not a US commitment. If the letter to the 'Palestinians' dovetails with that language, that's good news. But it also means the 'Palestinians' are unlikely to come to the table. They will likely demand as a precondition to coming to the table that the US and Israel commit to Israel returning to the 1967 lines (or the 1949 armistice lines as I prefer to call them). That's not going to happen.

The reference to an 'independent and viable' state is also less troublesome than it could have been. 'Independent' doesn't equate with militarized (see Andorra). Moreover, there's a key word missing here: contiguous. I have argued many times on this blog that if a 'Palestinian' state is contiguous, then by definition the Jewish state would be neither contiguous nor secure. Thus Clinton's omission of the word contiguous from her formulation, if tracked in the letter to the 'Palestinians,' is significant.

The phrase "based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps" is something less than the 2004 Bush letter that made a specific commitment to the 'settlement blocs' remaining in Israel, but is more than Clinton's previous total rejection of that letter. It also would not preclude the administration adopting that letter in the future. And if the 'Palestinians' dig in their heels (as the Syrians have done) and insist on an Israeli commitment to return to the 1967 lines as a precondition to starting negotiations, they won't be coming to the table and Clinton is signaling that she won't support that.

Fourth phrase: "and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state"As I noted above, I am less bothered by the fact that this is phrased as an "Israeli goal" because the 'Palestinian' side of the statement is phrased as a 'Palestinian goal.' The use of the term 'Jewish state,' especially along with 'ends the conflict,' is important because it signals to the 'Palestinians' that the United States will not support a 'right of return.' If this administration won't support a 'right of return' it's not likely that any future American administration will support one either. Will the 'Palestinians' come to the table on that basis?

Fifth phrase: "with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements" Rick is bothered that Clinton didn't say 'defensible' here and I share his concern. On the other hand, how could borders be 'secure' and 'meet Israeli security requirements' (as determined by Israel since this is phrased as an 'Israeli goal'?) without being 'defensible'? That's almost inconceivable to me. Unless someone else is going to determine our security requirements for us.

Moreover, the phrase "that reflect subsequent developments" would again be something less than the Bush letter (which I believe uses the same phrase), but more than Clinton's total rejection of that letter. It doesn't commit the Obama administration to the 'settlement blocs' but it definitely shows an expectation that we're not going to go back to the 1967 borders. And it's hard to argue that 'reflect subsequent developments' is limited to the Jerusalem neighborhoods that Abu Mazen conceded to Olmert.

There's a big caveat to all this: We need to see both letters. We need to be sure that regardless of what's written to us (which will almost certainly be made public), the Obama administration is not making contradictory commitments to the 'Palestinians.' The commitments being made to both sides by the United States (and by the 'quartet') need to be on the table. Will they be? Don't hold your breath. That the letters to the respective sides may not be on the table is the most bothersome thing of all.

Israel Matzav: What happened to our defensible borders?

Israel Matzav: Khameni planning to escape to Russia

Khameni planning to escape to Russia

Midwest Jim reports based on Iranian web sites that Iran's 'supreme leader,' Ayatollah Ali Khameni (pictured) is planning to escape to Russia from the anti-government rebels who are currently sweeping his country.

Today Planet Iran posted a letter written on the official Islamic Regime letterhead that discusses Khamenei’s possible to escape to Russia.

Iran Global website has exposed a document that discloses information on Khamenei and various authorities of the regime’s possible escape to Russia.

The document is on the National Security Agency of the Islamic regime’s letterhead addressed from the office of the High Assembly of the Islamic Republic’s National Security official [name is redacted] to an individual [name redacted] in the revolutionary guards. The letter is dated 6th of Dey (December 27th).

Jim goes on to report that there is a plane standing by to take Khameni out of the country.

Reports from Iran indicate that the Supreme National Security Council has ordered a complete check-up of the jet which is on standby to fly Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei and his family to Russia should the situation in Iran spiral out of control.

Panzramic reports that Khameni is now the one who matters, not Ahmadinejad (Hat Tip: Instapundit).

As I mentioned below, I've been communicating with a young woman in Tehran who is an active participant in the protests. L, as I will call her, messaged me this morning with this:

At 10:30 we were at Azadi Street (Freedom Street). The crowd was moving so slowly in little crowds. We were silent with a bit of fear. Near Enghelab Square, we joined with each other and made a huge crowd, and a huge crowd of people move toward us, and we join each other. After that, we started protesting by saying "Down with Khamenei!". I should say that Ahmadinejad isn't important anymore. The focus of the movement is on the leadership.

This is an interesting bit of information. This movement was started because of the rigged re-election of Ahmadinejad. It now has little to do with him, and it is focused on ousting the regime. I think they are going to do it.

Hmmm.

Israel Matzav: Khameni planning to escape to Russia

Israel Matzav: Iran threatens Britain

Iran threatens Britian

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki threatened to 'slap Britain in the mouth' after British Foreign Secretary David Miliband (pictured) expressed support for anti-government rebels in Iran.

Manouchehr Mottaki responded after UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband hailed the "great courage" of Iranians who staged opposition protests on Sunday.

Iran says the clashes, which resulted in at least eight people being killed, were inspired and aided by the West.

The UK ambassador is being summoned by Iran to receive a formal complaint.

Mr Mottaki said the protesters "should not be encouraged by a few... statements by certain countries".

He added: "They should not pin their hopes on them. Britain will get slapped in the mouth if it does not stop its nonsense."

Mr Mottaki's speech was broadcast on Iranian television with an English translation on screen.

I would suggest that the British ambassador go straight from the Foreign Ministry to the airport after that meeting and offer to take all British citizens with him. It's long overdue.


Israel Matzav: Iran threatens Britain

Israel Matzav: 'Goldstone illusion' wins award

'Goldstone illusion' wins award

The New Republic reports that a Moshe Halbertal essay published by it, which was called The Goldstone Illusion, has received a Sidney Award from New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Among those recognized was Moshe Halbertal's "The Goldstone Illusion," which we published in November. Here's what Brooks had to say about it:

Here’s a typical problem: Hamas fires rockets from apartment buildings. Israel calls the residents of the buildings to warn them a counterattack is coming. Hamas then escorts the residents to the roof, knowing Israeli drones will not fire on crowded roofs. Israel then deploys a “roof-knocking missile,” a weapon designed to scare people off roofs in preparation for an attack. Halbertal wrestles with the moral boundaries that should guide this kind of warfare.

It's a wonderful piece, and you can read the whole thing here.

Yes, it's worth reading.

Israel Matzav: 'Goldstone illusion' wins award

Israel Matzav: Iran close to deal to import 1350 tons of enriched uranium

Iran close to deal to import 1350 tons of enriched uranium

The Associated Press reports that Iran is on the verge of completing a deal to import 1350 tons of enriched uranium from Kazakhstan.

Such a purified uranium ore deal would be significant because Tehran appears to be running out of the material, which it needs to feed its uranium enrichment program.

A summary of the report obtained by the Associated Press on Tuesday said the deal could be completed within weeks. It said Tehran was willing to pay $450 million, or close to 315 million euros, for the shipment.

The report was drawn up by a member nation of the International Atomic energy agency and provided to the AP on condition that the country not be identified because of the confidential nature of the information.

...

A senior UN official said the agency was aware of the intelligence report's assessment but could not yet draw conclusions. He demanded anonymity for discussing confidential information.

A Western diplomat from a member of the IAEA's 35-nation board said the report was causing concern among countries that have seen it and generating intelligence chatter. The diplomat also requested anonymity for discussing intelligence information.

The price is high because of the secret nature of the deal and due to Iran's commitment to keep secret the elements supplying the material, said the summary.

An official of the country that drew up the report said elements referred to state employees acting on their own without approval of the Kazakh government.

After-hours calls put in to offices of Kazatomprom, the Kazak state uranium company, in Kazakhstan and Moscow, were not answered Tuesday. Iranian nuclear officials also did not pick up their telephones.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not return President Obumbler's courtesy calls to ask about this report and to invite Ahmadinejad to dinner, although his foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said

"We can no longer wait and if they do not agree with the purchase or exchange, then we will do the 20 percent enrichment process by ourselves," Mottaki said.

What could go wrong?


Israel Matzav: Iran close to deal to import 1350 tons of enriched uranium

Israel Matzav: El Al, Air France jets nearly crash in midair

El Al, Air France jets nearly crash in midair

Now this is frightening.

Israel's Channel 2 television reported on Tuesday that a New York-bound El Al passenger jet came within 300 meters of an Air France passenger jet over the skies of Belgrade (Serbia) on Monday night.

According to the report, the Serbian air controller made a mistake and instructed the Air France airplane to fly on a route already used by the El Al plane, so that the jets were on a collision course.

The two planes were about to crash in midair, but emergency alarms alerted both pilots and the El-Al plane changed course at the last minute, when the distance between the aircraft was only 300 meters.

Serbian authorities reportedly claimed that the Serbian air controller was responsible for the incident and aviation authorities there launched an investigation into the near-accident.

Give the El Al pilot a medal. Wow.

Israel Matzav: El Al, Air France jets nearly crash in midair

Love of the Land: Blaming Israel First

Blaming Israel First


P. David Hornik
FrontPageMag.com
30 December 09

From Van Jones to Valerie Jarrett, the Obama has made a series of politically extreme personnel appointments that it has since come to regret. Its latest hire bids fair to continue the pattern. President Obama has appointed an “anti-Semitism czar,” Hannah Rosenthal, who appears singularly unqualified for the job. Her first target of criticism has not been an anti-Semitic exponent or event. Rather, it is Israel’s Jewish ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, who has drawn her ire for the offense of disparaging a liberal group with which Rosenthal has been affiliated.

Not surprisingly for a liberal-Democratic administration, Rosenthal has a liberal-Democratic background. She worked for the Department of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration, and in 1992 and 1996 was a leader of the Wisconsin Clinton-Gore campaigns. From 2000 to 2005 she was executive director of the liberal Jewish Council for Public Affairs. More recently she’s been on the advisory council of the ostensibly “pro-Israel, pro-peace” J Street and JStreetPAC.

Ideally, it shouldn’t matter. Isn’t “to monitor and combat anti-Semitism”—from the “anti-Semitism czar’s” official job title—a bipartisan concern for Jews and a consensus concern for all decent people? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Some Jews define themselves highly invidiously in opposition to other Jews. Rosenthal appears to be one of them.

(Read full article)


Love of the Land: Blaming Israel First

Love of the Land: Book Review: "The Invention of the Jewish People"

Book Review: "The Invention of the Jewish People"


Ricki Hollander
CAMERA
Media Analysis
30 December 09

The Invention of the Jewish People
Shlomo Sand, Translated by Yael Lotan
Verso, London New York, 2009


When it comes to undermining the legitimacy of the Jewish state, there is no thesis too absurd to be published. In fact, one can assume that any book attacking the idea of Jewish nationalism will gain a following (and even garner awards), regardless of how preposterous the underlying thesis.

Such is the case with "The Invention of the Jewish People" a book by Shlomo Sand who teaches French history at Tel Aviv University. The thesis: There is no such thing as a Jewish people; today's Jews have no connection to biblical Israelites or to Jews who inhabited Israel during the time of the Second Temple; rather, they are descended from disparate groups of people who converted to Judaism and had no ties to the land of Israel. Conversely, there was no exile of Jews from the land of Israel; most Jews remained in the land, converted to Islam and were the progenitors of present-day Palestinians.

Sand acknowledges his mission is to prove invalid the foundation of Zionism – the idea of a Jewish state built on a Jewish ancestral homeland -- and to promote instead the idea of a single non-Jewish state of Arabs and Jews. His qualifications for this project lie – not in Jewish history scholarship (his field is French nationalism and cinema), but – in his communist, anti-nationalist and anti-Zionist background and politics (which he proudly mentions in the book's preface). His thesis whereby Arabs – and not Jews– are the rightful inheritors of the land provides the support for his political argument.

What about the earlier historical writings that negate his theories? Sand discards them as the fabrications of 19th and 20th century Jewish historians who fabricated "myths" and constructed "memories" of Jewish nationhood. Moreover, he contends the invented version of events was kept alive in Jewish history departments throughout Israel, the U.S. and Europe by Zionists who "created an iron-jawed vise that prevented any deviation from the dominant narrative."

The author does not pretend to reveal any new primary source material. His conceit is that he is keener and more honest than the "authorized" experts in Jewish history whom he disparages, and that he, by contrast, is uncovering "surprising connections" and offering "unexpected insights."

(Read full review)

Related: Review by Simon Schama

Love of the Land: Book Review: "The Invention of the Jewish People"

Love of the Land: Donald Macintyre's Tunnel Vision

Donald Macintyre's Tunnel Vision


Honest Reporting/Backspin
30 December 09

Donald Macintyre looks at Gaza one year after the war in a special dispatch written for The New Statesman. One particular statement startles me, because Macintyre has been covering Israel for The Independent for several years. He writes:

The war was started with the stated purpose of ending the surge of rocket attacks on southern Israel by Gaza militants. These began when a ceasefire broke down, after an Israeli raid in November.

After discovering a 245 meter tunnel leading into Israel, which the Palestinians intended to use to kidnap IDF soldiers, the army launched an incursion to destroy the tunnel. Hamas responded with 35 Qassam rockets.

For those of us not afflicted with Macintyre's tunnel vision, the cease fire broke down when Hamas dug that tunnel.

UPDATE Dec. 30: The article was trimmed down, and this particular snippet isn't there anymore. Looks like I happened to get a peek at some content that wasn't intended to be published online; here's the note at the bottom of the page:

To read the full version of this piece, pick up a copy of this week's New Statesman, available in all good newsagents.



Love of the Land: Donald Macintyre's Tunnel Vision
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