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

An Algerian blogger, who interviewed the Israeli Foreign Ministry's spokesperson for Arab-speaking media, was convicted for purportedly working with the Mossad in gathering foreign intelligence. Read about it HERE.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has apologized for naming Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz in a "Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists." Read about the report HERE.

Canada's Ontario premier-elect will take action to ban the anti-Israel rally that takes place in Toronto each year. Read about it HERE.

Read the blog of a young Israeli with comments of American Jews on Israel's actions against Gaza rioting HERE.

The group IfNotNow, which encourages fellow Jews to be sympathetic to the Palestinian plight, has been tolerated by the Conservative Movement, which seeks to provide a balance on Israeli and Palestinian "narratives." But USCJ has now issued a statement saying that it does not welcome anti-Zionist or anti-Israel rhetoric. Read about it HERE.

The General-Secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Supreme Council in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim organization, appeared at the American Jewish Committee's Global Fourm in Jerusalem and stressed that religious people should embrace compassion and caring for people. Read about his inspirational words HERE.

The media is ignoring the extensive damage to crops and livelihood caused by the mass arson "fire kites" by Palestinians. Read about it HERE.

Campus students should go on the offensive, rather than defensively and cerebrally defending Israel against BDS promoters and resolutions. Read this important article HERE.

Learn about the anti-Semitic behavior of Columbia University's Muslim professor Hamid Da Bashi HERE. anti-Semitic Professor Hamid DaBashi from Columbia University HERESign the petition to condemn and remove him HERE.

In Amsterdam, a courageous Michael Jacobs Jewish activist takes on the BDS movement. Read about him HERE.

Far-right Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz visited the Western Wall, unique to European leaders. Read about his visit to Israel HERE.

Jeffrey Herf, of Middle East Forum, argues to accept that the awful, lying, Donald Trump, who is wrong about most everything, is right about the Iran deal. Read Herf's justification HERE.

As we commemorate the life of Robert F. Kennedy, 50 years after his assasination, we know that he knew the truth about the 600,000 refugees in Palestin that were not indigenous. Read about it HERE.

South African radio and television personality Gareth Cliff has come out on the side of Israelis, saying they have a right to protect themselves and their borders from Palestinians "hellbent on violence." Read about it HERE.

A Kuwaiti Arab of Palestinian descent says "enough with the incitement and shackles of hate! The Jews are not our enemy and they don't hate us– they desire peace." Watch the video HERE.

Watch a video showing that the primary cause of Plaestinian flight on the cusp of the War of Independence was that the Arab and Fedahin troppos ordered that they leave, framing it as temporary until the armies could destroy the fledgling State of Israel. See it HERE.

Get a better understanding of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by understanding the history of the region from the time of the 6-Day War. Read the blog by Ed Harris of the Times of Israel, HERE.

The Trump Administration is putting financial pression on Iran to desist from supporting terroriasm, human rights abuses and destabilizing activities. Read about it HERE.

Students at a Gaza preschool performed a mock hostage-taking of an Israeli solder for their graduation cerelmony. Read about it HERE.

The loss of all human life is a tragedy, and Judaism teaches that it is wrong to celebrate and dance even at the death of enemies. It is also misguided to mourn and ennoble them. Jewish parents were thus outraged when children at a New York public school were instructed to observe a moment of silence for Palestinians killed at the Gaza border. Read about it HERE.

Hebrew Union's Commencement Speaker, author Michael Chabon, demonized Israelis. Read about it HERE.

What lessons can we take from Rosanne's firing by ABC. HERE.

Hamas has plunged the Gaza Strip into poverty and despair, corruption and violence. Bring Hamas to justice at the Hague by signing a petition HERE.

Deir Yassin is a myth which describes the murder of 254 people in a Palestinian village by Israelis in 1948. Professor Eliezer Tauber of Bar-Ilan University debunks the massacre that never really happened HERE.

Linda Sarsour was put in her place by an israeli mother who called out Sarsour's lies in this video.

Students for Justice in Palestine at Stony Brook University have accused their chaplain of betraying the Palestinian people for his support of the campus Hillel. In response to an information table set up for Israel's 70th Independence Day, pro-Palestinian students chanted and held up anti-Zionism signs. Read about it HERE.

Please sign a petition requesting Food & Wine Magazine to stop supporting terrorism and violence against Jews. The magazine recently named an Oakland California Arab bakery to their list of 2018 Restaurants of the Year, painting it as a place where Jews and Arabs can come together to enjoy a meal in peace. Yet the restaurant has a wall-sized mural of a terrorist who has been convicted of two Jerusalem bombings that have killed Hebrew University students. It is irresponsible for this bakery to be chosen by the magazine. Sign the petition HERE. 

Beware of "social justice" trips to Israel. Currently, a goup of self-proclaimed social-justice advocates are touring Israel and the West Bank, but they are made up of anti-Israel members that promote BDS and are involved with efforts to delegitimize Israel. Read about it HERE. 

Our friend from neighboring Cold Spring Harbor congregation Kehillat Shalom, Judy Davis, writes in her latest blog for The Times of Israel of the media's unasked questions about the Gaza riots, HERE.

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers will be introducing legislation to define anti-Semitism in the American education system, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act. Read about it HERE.

Watch a film showing the contrast between the spin and reality of the Gaza riots HERE.

We are experiencing a challenging time of "overlooking" and "mainstreaming" anit-semitism, HERE.

On campuses across the world, anti-Israel groups cover up flyers/notices advertising Jewish for Israel information. Watch a video highlighting this practice at Columbia University, HERE.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Nashville will be hosting the Southern Poverty Law Center's co-founder for a discussion on hate speech. While the SPLC claims it fights hatred, it ignores anti-Semitic expressions of radical Islamists. Read the article HERE.

Israel's Prime Minister wishes the Islamic world a meaningful and successful Ramadan. Let's look to a day when Arab leaders do the same for Jews at Yom Kippur. Watch the video HERE.

Read a piece by Daniel Sugarman, who initially condemned Israel's actions in shooting Gazans rushing Israel's border. Learning that over 80% of those killed trying to breach the border were Hamas operatives, however, he acknowledges that the only viable option is to shoot at the people running at you with the stated aim of killing you and your family. In the light of day, he says, he cannot see how Israel could do anything different. Read his article HERE.

Listen to former Muslim extremeist Maajid Nawaz, who now stands up against radical Muslims, HERE.

Read an article by Alan Dershowitz: Why Does the Media Keep Encouraging Hamas Violence? citing the tactic employed by Hamas to deliberately provoke Israel into actions that result in deaths of Gazans for the anti-Israel headlines they produce. Read the article HERE. 

Instead of trying to destroy Israel, Palestinians should learn from their neighbor– their "miseries" are of their own making. Read Bret Stephens' Opinion Column from the New York Times HERE.

Read and article from The Forward that is perhaps the best, most concise summary of the core issue in the Palestinian conflict, HERE.

Link to a primer on what caused the Palestinian exodus in 1948 HERE.

American Indian Chief Joseph RiverWind recently visited Israel with his wife and noted the common passion of each for freedom and a willingness to fight for and defend their sovereignty. Read about it HERE.

Sign a peititon urging school presidents and chancellors nationwide to implement "The Equity Pledge," calling for equal treatment of all students on campus, HERE.

BDS calls for Israel's destruction, but the world ignores this. Watch this video.

Take a look at the Social Media Public Service Announcement put out by Hamas for the Nakba Day Riots, HERE.

Read the views of "Arabs with Israel" member Bassem Eid, who congratulates Israel on its 70th anniversary and promotes recognition of the State of Israel, HERE.

MIT's Israel program is an example of an American campus getting it right. Their cultural exchange and internship program will have a huge impact with capable and brilliant students in future years. HERE.

Fallout by Jewish women's groups from the Women's March continues as anti-Semitism seems to be emerging from the March leadership by Mallory and Sarsour. HERE. 

Hamas seeks the destruction of Israel and that is the aim of the latest demonstrations. The media forgets to mention this. Watch a video HERE

The Rhode Island Women's March has broken ties with the national Women's March, which continues to work with Tamika Mallory. Mallory is co-president of the March and has refused to denounce anti-Semitic statements made by Louis Farrakhan. Read abut it HERE.

Yet another cause for concern–the BDS 's new target is Israeli banks, HERE.

See a disturbing comparison of anti-Semitism from the Nazi era and how current BDS era HERE.

Read an excellent article by Yossi Klein HaLevi about how Israelis react to the international condemnation of their country for their tough military resonse to the Second Intifada and the attemps to breach Israel's borders HERE.

Mahmoud Abbas' incendiary speech, where he blamed the Jews for their own murder in the Holocaust and denied any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, not only vindicated claims made by Netanuyahu over the years, but more importantly revealed that the Palestinians have no credibility as partners in establishing peace in the region. Even the New York Times seems to have shifted its consistent support of the Palestinian cause. Read about it 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.

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.

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.

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. 

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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