One Step Closer to Being Pushed Into The Sea

“Palestinians Still Embrace Spirit of 1947”
Jonathan Tobin
Commentary Magazine

Jon Tobin and I don’t agree on everything, but even if you are the furthest thing from a neocon, you need to read this op/ed from yesterday.

The quote that everyone should have emblazoned on their consciousness is this one:

The main truth about this conflict has always been guided by one fact: neither the Palestinians nor their backers were willing then to acknowledge the rights of the Jews. It is only now after decades of intransigence that the Arabs say they want a state. But the common thread from 1947 to today’s debate is the willingness of much of the world to delegitimize Jewish rights and to bypass negotiations.

Even to a moderate like me who has never hesitated to lambaste Israel’s leadership (especially Bibi’s Likud) for the continuing idiocy around the settlements issue, it is becoming painfully clear that the Palestinian goals have never changed. A two-state solution increasingly appears to be a stepping-stone toward a single-state solution. For if it were not, the Palestinian Authority would have recognized Israel’s right to exist long ago.

The painful truth is that successive waves of Palestinian leaders – starting from the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in 1926 to Mahmoud Abbas and the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, et al – have talked themselves into a corner. Even if they wanted to recognize Israel, their legitimacy among their people now depends on their dedication to pushing the Jews into the sea.

That is sad. Because that makes this conflict less about a land agreement and more existential for both sides. And an existential conflict can never lead to peace.

Egyptian authorities reportedly seize 1.7 million documents proving Jewish ownership of assets in Cairo

Egyptian authorities reportedly seize 1.7 million documents proving Jewish ownership of assets in Cairo | The Times of Israel.

Nice. Between this and the Egyptian President’s trip to support Gaza, how long until Egypt abrogates the Camp David accords.

A Thoughtful Point on Atheism

Furthermore, to say that religion is evil because religious people have committed heinous acts in the name of religion is like saying medicine is evil because Dr. Josef Mengele committed heinous acts against the subjects of his Auschwitz experiments in the name of medical research. One can take any constructive enterprise and use it for destructive purposes. This offers no grounds for condemning the enterprise itself.

via The Atheist Crusade.

I would not condemn an atheist or secularist because of the acts of Josef Stalin. Why is it that Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens would condemn my faith for the acts of a totally unrelated fanatic?

Sharing is a Two-Way Street

Is Israel’s left justified in suspecting that the diaspora leaders’ efforts to strengthen Jewish identity are coloured by the country’s rightist-religious Zeitgeist? If so, they will always exclude Jewish liberals. Worse, they will shore up an aggressive pro-Israel loyalism that denies the only feasible future for a Jewish, democratic Israel: sharing the land with a Palestinian state. Israel needs to recover its pragmatic Zionism. It cannot afford a governing ethos infused by a religious fundamentalism concerned chiefly with settlement, conquest and conflict.

via Looking ahead: A Jewish spring? | The Economist.

I’d feel a lot better about sharing the land with a Palestinian state if I could be sure that the Palestinians weren’t just going to use the two-state solution as a stepping stone to shoving us into the Mediterranean.

UTJ – A Denomination, or a Post-Denominational Movement

Union for Traditional Judaism.

I was fascinated in my reading of the recent special report in The Economist about the growing movement toward post-denominational Judaism. For those of our faith who are moving past institutional distinctions, it’s not about whether you’re Haredi, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist, but whether you’re on the path of Teshuvah.

My first exposure to this approach came through Chabad in Beijing, and radio personality Denis Prager also openly practices a trans-Denominational form of Judaism, incorporating the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements in his life.

But there are more sparks of the movement, and one of them is the Union of Traditional Judaism, a group whose beliefs fall between Conservative and Modern Orthodox articles of faith. The group seems interesting, but I wonder whether it is trying to hew a road between Orthodox and Conservative, or genuinely attempting to transcend such distinctions. I sincerely hope it is the latter.

Washington blames Hamas for escalation

Washington defends Israel, blames Hamas for escalation | The Times of Israel.

Thanks, Mr. Obama.

Please Don’t Tell Me the NYT Possesses No Editorial Bias

The paper: NY Times. The dateline: Tel Aviv. The byline? Ethan Bronner — who looks at the Hamas weapons stockpile. I’m disappointed his lede starts out saying the conflict began when Israel assassinated Ahmad Jabari. Was the rocket fire leading up to it just chopped liver to Bronner?

via Live Blogging Israel’s Media War 11/18/2012 | HonestReporting.

And there is no media bias in the mainstream media against Israel? Or have the standards of journalism at the Gray Lady sunk so low that the facts no longer matter?

I’d say it’s a tossup.

Study Online: Rav Kook

 

A. I. Kook (d. 1935), Chief Rabbi of Palestine

A. I. Kook (d. 1935), Chief Rabbi of Palestine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rabbi Kook on Weekly Torah Portion (Parsha), Jewish Holidays and Psalms (Tehillim).

Rabbi Chanan Morrison’s superior site that offers commentary on the Torah, the Tehillim, and the events on the Jewish calendar based on the teachings of Rabbi Abraham Israel Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel.

The site is a treasure trove and worth spending time – at least an hour a week – looking through what is on offer.

A Little History

August 15, 2005. The residents of the Israeli ...

August 15, 2005. The residents of the Israeli community Neve Dekalim are forcibly evacuated from their homes in Gaza. The evacuation of Neve Dekalim was part of the Gaza Disengagement, which occurred during the summer of 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Disengagement – August 2005.

How Israel peacefully and unilaterally gave up the administration of Gaza, despite domestic opposition, in the fervent hope that it would be enough to begin a final peace process.

I had a talk with a friend the other day who was in the IDF at the time. He grew emotional explaining how it broke his heart to drag fellow Israelis out of Gaza in August 2005, but he did it because it was his duty, and because he hoped (like all of us) that it would mean progress toward peace.

It didn’t, and this should ever be an illustration that words like “hope” and “good faith” are increasingly hollow when dealing with the leaders of the PA and Hamas.

Tanach and Politics

God’s Politics | Foreign Affairs.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is, atop his many other virtues, one of the great social philosophers of our time. In a world seemingly intent on either building walls between the religious or the secular – or on delegitimizing one or the other – Sachs builds bridges without attempting to invade. 

His review of political philosopher Michael Walzer’s “In God’s Shadow” is a supreme example of his calm balance. In it, Sacks offers illuminating glimpses at Walzer’s thinking without injecting judgment. Regardless of their philosophical differences (and having read both men I am aware that those differences are not insubstantial,) Sacks draws out the commonalities in their thinking. Walzer notes that in the full analysis the Tanach spells out no coherent political ethos. Sacks, unsurprised if not delighted by the conclusion, agrees. It is not politics, after all, with which the Hebrew Bible concerns itself, and Jewish ethics (most notably the Pirkei Avot) almost compels Jews to eschew politics.

The takeaway is compelling: even though the Hebrew bible espouses no single political ethos, it is a a useful, indeed indispensable, guide for civil society and non-political virtues. Walzer and Sacks together spin a conclusion unlikely to please the “Christian Nation” crowd in the US or the Haredim in Israel: the implicit political message of the Tanach is that faith and politics rule over separate realms.