Ian Silverman, Rabbi

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Autonomy and Equal rights 

December 28 passed without much notice, but on the Jewish calendar, it was observed as a fast day–one of four–commemorating a significant aspect of the Babylonian occupation and destruction, in 586 BCE, of Judaea, the remaining Israelite national entity. In this case, on the 10 of Teveth, Nebuchadnezer surrounded and laid siege to Jerusalem. It took two and a half years, but eventually that siege would lead to the attack on the city and the destruction of the first Temple. With it would go Jewish sovereignty and autonomy for some 400 years, until the successful victory of the Hashmoneans from the Seluicid Greeks in 165 BCE. Alas, Jerusalem would not be a pure autonomous state for long. Soon, the Romans resumed a custodial rule until the Second Temple (which has been rebuilt in the Persian period of Ezra, in the 5th century) was also razed to the ground by Titus. Judaea's inhabitants exiled to other places in the Roman Empire or escaped into the western or northern Jewish communities, such as Yavneh, Lod, Tiberius, Caesaria, Tzefad, Tzipori and others. What that initial conquest meant for Jews, however, was a loss of sovereignty and national autonomy, which was not fully restored until 1948, when the international community gave sanction to the nation of Israel–the fulfillment of a national homeland, expressing a long-suppressed right to national self determination. The Jewish people once again, after two millennia, were given the equal rights of a people represented in a nation state. 

70 years after that momentous event in world history, the Trump administration recognized Israel's right to determine its own capital, representing yet another important milestone. This was a reckoning of the reality on the ground, as Israel's national infrastructure is all located in Jerusalem. The capital is located within the green line, an area that Israel captured in the defensive War of Independence, when five nations attacked her upon the UN announcement of its legitimacy. And it is located in an area that was a part of the partition plan of the Jewish State of 1947 by the United Nations. The western section of Jerusalem has been in Israel’s hands for seventy years. While the Partition Plan accepted by the Yishuv leadership–and rejected by the Arab leadership– included the concept of an internationally administrated Jerusalem, with all religious sites under neither Arab nor Israeli sovereignty. In view of the virulent efforts of terror and intimidation from 1948-1967, when the eastern quadrant was in Jordanian hands, this arrangement is ill-advised and counter to Israel’s security obligations to its inhabitants. Nor is it feasible that Judaism’s most sacred sites, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount be removed from from Israeli sovereignty, especially in view of the UN Security Council Resolution (sadly accepted without veto by the Obama administration). These were the very areas where Jordanians regularly took pot shots at the western side of Jerusalem, destroyed synagogues and used Jewish gravestones for a pathway to their Intercontinental Hotel. The notion that these precious holding be surrendered to a future State of Palestine after Israel’s sacrifice in a defensive war to capture them is frankly morally and religiously untenable to Israel. Israel is committed to the status quo–equal access to all religious worship in mosque and church in all of the walled city, and to religious autonomy in administering the sites, so long as such activities are not harmful or malevolent in nature.

 

In my mind, there are many issues we Jews might have with the current administration's policies on the domestic front and in international relations. We have an obligation, as good citizens and as practitioners of Jewish values, to challenge Mr. Trump and his policies. But in this area, I believe he is on solid ground. He did not foreclose negotiating some of Jerusalem as a foothold in a future Palestinian State. He did not endorse the end of Oslo's objective of a two state solution. In time, I believe that history will look kindly on this affirmation of the congressional intention to allow Israel the capitol of its choosing on its own sovereign territory. Mr. Trump did not take sides and become a dishonest broker, as many claim. He acknowledged the starting position of any Israeli realistic compromise, which is that Jewish Jerusalem and a section of the old quarter, on which the western wall stands, shall be in Israeli hands. (Contrary to Palestinian claims, "Eastern Jerusalem" was never exclusively Arab. It was only all Arab between 1948 and 1967, because in 1948 the Jordanians kicked out tens of thousands of Jewish residents from the Jewish quarter of the Old City). What he did do was proclaim to the Arab world that delusions that Jews are not indigenous to Jerusalem and the land of Israel in general, and seeking to spread such false narratives, will boomerang. In my humble opinion, our president acted on a bipartisan congressional bill, approved in 1995, that makes the point that the Jewish people have a right to their national sovereignty and at least an equal right to Jerusalem as their Capitol. 

It is interesting that we will also celebrate the life of a great advocate for equal rights and civil rights in January, the great African-American leader Martin Luther King Jr. You might be interested to know that unlike some recent leadership, he was fully behind the right of the Jewish people to the State of Israel. Here is some of what he said, courtesy of StandWithUs:

"Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality."  

“Israel's right to exist as a state in security is incontestable.” 

“When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism…” 

 King’s associates have attested to his sentiments:

“I can say with absolute certainty that Martin abhorred anti-Semitism in all its forms, including anti-Zionism.” 
—Clarence B. Jones, personal attorney and close adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. 

“Martin… warned repeatedly that anti-Semitism would soon be disguised as anti-Zionism.” 
—Clarence B. Jones, personal attorney and close adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. 

“[MLK] understood that a special relationship exists between African Americans and Jews… He knew that both peoples were uprooted involuntarily from their homelands. He knew that both peoples were shaped by the tragic experience of slavery. He knew that both peoples were forced to live in ghettoes, victims of segregation… He knew that both peoples were subject to laws passed with the particular intent of oppressing them simply because they were Jewish or black. He knew that both peoples have been subjected to oppression and genocide on a level unprecedented in history.”
—Rep. John Lewis, former civil rights leader who worked with Martin Luther King Jr.  

It is my hope that someday, the Jewish community and the African-American community will end their current confrontational state. There is no doubt that opportunities for cooperation exist on so many fronts. Rabbi AJ Heschel knew from his own personal experience that civil rights and equal rights for all is the trajectory of a civilized world. May we pursue it at home as well as insist on it by all of Israel's critics and enemies abroad. And may we celebrate the acknowledgment of Jerusalem as the ancestral and national home that it rightfully is. 

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Israel Items of Interest

KEEP CURRENT WITH THE LATEST NEWS IN ISRAELI ADVOCACY, THE DAILY ALERT HERE.

An Israeli company has developed a means to evaluate the freshness of foods. Read about it HERE.

Israeli startup Zebra Medical Vision, offers an online software that can provide a second opinion on CT scans by analyzing the information and producing a medical report within 90% accuracy. Read about it HERE.

Film recommendation: Mekonen, the story of an Ethiopian Jew who makes peace with an emotional past and embraces his future in Israel, becoming a decorated officer in the IDF while remaining true to his African roots and culture.

Did you know that the first victim of 9-11 was an Israeli Special Forces Veteran who rushed the cockpit of American Airlines Flight 11 to stop the hijackers, but was murdered in his attempt to stop these al-Queda terrorists. Watch a quick video, HERE. 

Read about a small guitar workshop in Jaffa, creating the finest instruments, HERE.

A PhD student at Hebrew University has won an award for developing a test to detect Parkinson's Disease. Read about it HERE.

Three years after publishing an anti-Israel letter in the medical journal, The Lancet, the editor admits he has deep regrets and has dedicated the latest issue to highlighting health care in Israel. Read about it HERE.

Read an article by Chris Coons and Marco Rubio from the Wall Street Journal, "Every Senator Agrees the UN Must Change," HERE.

Israel's medical clowns- they cheer up sick kids, reduce anxiety, decrease pain, and alleviate depression. They are Jews, Christian Arabs, and others. Watch a YouTube video about them HERE.

Learn about the connection of Jews with Israel, the decades-long quest of Israel for peace with it's neighbors, the failure of Palestinian leadership to turn conflict into coexistence, and the contrast between the fate of Palestinian and Jewish refugees from the Arab-Israel conflict, HERE. 

Women of the IDF video

 

Rabbi Silverman's Suggested Sites to See

Organized riots continue at Israel's southern border, as Palestinians clash with IDF soldiers, now sending burning kites over the fence to set Israel's fields afire. Read about it HERE.

Now 100, Binyamin Brenzel came to Isreal from his native Lvov, Ukraine. Read a letter he wrote to his sister in New York upon the establishment of the State of Israel as he awaited news on the radio of the UN Partition Plan in 1947, HERE.

As Israel celebrates its 70th birthday, read David Harris' blog from the Times of Israel, reflecting on Israel's accomplishments and challenges, HERE.

Read a brillian analysis of the perils facing the Islamic nations in the Middle East. With so many states in a fragile condition and devoid of nation-building elements, including tose of the PA and Gaza, one wonders about the lasting nature of any brokered peace agreement with Israel, even in the unlikely event that such a deal could be accomplished, HERE.

Donate toward medical treatments for injured Israeli soldiers HERE.

Watch and important video showing the proximity of Israeli families to the Gaza border and just what is at stake in allowing the border to be penetrated. For some reason this simple information is not made explicit in press coverage. HERE.

Read David Harris' blog in The Times of Israel, highlighting the stark differences between Hamas and Israel- and that while Hamas threatens and harasses Israel, it is only Israel's response that is under scrutiny, HERE.

Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik was the keynote speaker at the Global Conference on Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem. Read about her address HERE.

Read Israeli President Rivlin's speech as he led the 30th annual March of the Living from the gates of Auschwitz to Auschwitz-Birkenau HERE.

Due to the British Labour Party's anti-Semitic statements and actions of late, Israel's Labor Party has suspended ties. Read about it HERE.

Gino Bartali was an Italian bicyclist who saved hundreds of Jews in the Holocaust. His story is being made into a film by Jerusalem U. Donate toward this effort to tell the world about his inspiring life. HERE.

Hear the REAL story behind Gaza's "peaceful" protests at the Israeli border HERE. Hamas is orchestrating the violence at the border in their latest effort to destroy Israel, yet Israel is taking all the blame. Read about it HERE. 
Read Hadassah National President Ellen Hershkin's letter to the Washington Post to urge for fair reporting on the situation in Gaza HERE.

In honor of Yom Hashoah, listent to a moving rendition by over 600 survivors and their families singing Oprah Haza's "Chai/I am Still Alive," written 35 years ago, HERE.

Stick with "Zionism" rather than running from it and letting the haters win. Read a blog from the Times of Israel, HERE.

Even the Palestinian Authority is accusing Hamas of sending children to their deaths in Gaza to grab headlines. Why doesn't the world nor the media believe these words from the mouths of Palestinians? And the irony: As Palestinians rolled burning tires toward the border, a Hamas spokesman is condemnins Israel for stopping the import of new tires to Gaza and now there is a tire shortage. Read about it HERE.

In the face of Britain's Labour Party anti-semitism, watch an uplifting Passover message in a video by Prime Minister Theresa May HERE.

Abbas' senior advisor is accusing Hamas of intentionally sendint Gaza Palestinians to "go and die" at the border demonstrations for the sole purpose of creating soundbites for TV and the media. Read and watch a video HERE.

Last week's conflict between Israel and Palestinians brought condemnation upon Israel for the killing and wounding of many Palestinians. But the Hamas-affiliated demonstration was orchestrated to use the 30,000 civilian participants as human shields with the sole purpose of triggering an Israeli response to maximize civilian casualties. Another round of these riots is scheduled, and will peak in May on the day the Palestinians term "Nakba." Read about it HERE.

Chuck Schumer's address at AIPAC brought a "reality assessment" of positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict, outlining 10 principles of a new US concensus that brings Democrats in line with Republicans. Read the article HERE. 

Jews are being murdered in France_Again! Jews are reviled on both the far right and far left. Should French Jews leave and head for Israel? Read a NYTimes Opinion piece HERE. 
France will be charging two men with the brutal anti-Semitic murder of an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor. Read about it HERE. 

 

Western European nations, claiming to be against racism and supremacism, lavishly fund Muslim Jew-hatred. Read about it HERE.

As we are mindful of slavery at this time of Passover, remember that slavery still exists in the Sudan, and that Louis Farrakhan, who has accepted millions from the Nation of Islam to keep quiet on the issue of slavery, should be decried for selling out on his own people. Read the story HERE.

Watch a couple short feel-good videos:
Reunion of Palestinian hero and the Jews he rescued HERE
NFL players visit Israel HERE

A Pakistani Muslim scholar and lecturer on the Holcaust at Manhattan College understands the need for the Jewish State and the importance of learning the many lessons the Shoah teaches. Read about her HERE.

Iceland has put forth a bill banning circumcision that may threaten the future of the small Jewish community there. Sign the petition HERE.

Israel's Arab curriculum is a crime, according to the PA Minister of Education because Israeli Arab children are missing out on why they should hate Isrealis. Read HERE.

The Women's March is losing staffers and supports because the leadership refuses to denounce a rant by Louis Farrakhan. Read about it HERE.

Congress passed pro-Israel legislation, inlcuding the Taylor Force Act. Thank members of Congress for their support HERE.

Anti-Israel campaigns on campuses are attacks on the norms and values of the university and with it, on the norms and values at the heart of Western civilization. Anti-Israelism is not about an exchange of dialogue, debate and an free exchange of ideas but rather, to silence such things. Read the article from The Tablet, HERE.

Although some argue that Jews are the alien population to Palestine, implanted by the British, in fact, Jews are the indigenous population in this area based on historical and genetic documentation. It is the Palestinians, however, who are there as a result of converts from those indigenous pre-modern Jews and Christians who submitted to Islam, Muslim invaders, and Arab immigrants. Read about it HERE. 

Congress has passed the Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act, sanctioning Hamas for using civilians as human shields. Read about it HERE.

Senators Corker and Menendez are urging the State Department to engage in a diplomatic solution with our allies to preent Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon. Urge your senator to sign the letter HERE.

Learn the proper protocol to handle Palestinian activists on campuses as exemplified by Georgetown University HERE.

A video about all the wonderful aid Israel provides worldwide, that will bring a tear to your eyes HERE.

 

 

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