Saturday, November 6, 2010
Jewish State - Yes or No
To all my dear Family, Friends and Readers, Shalom!
A recent query from one of my readers, in fact one of the many tourists I have guided over the years, has given me the push to write about a subject which is very much in the news - the Israeli request that the Palestinians declare loud and clear that they recognize Israel as the Jewish State.
Alongside that, and just as much in the news, is the planned Israeli legislation requiring a declaration of allegiance to the Jewish State of Israel when requesting Israeli citizenship.
These two references to "Jewish State" have raised the ire of those who are seeking to delegitimise the State of Israel who claim that Israel, as the Jewish State, has no right to exist. Furthermore they seek the abrogation of the League of Nation resolution, after WWI, which recognized the right of the Jewish people to a homeland in Palestine and UN resolution 181 in 1947 which repeated that recognition. In fact, they tend to deny that there is such a thing as a "Jewish people".
This denial is very similar to Holocaust denial. The proof is there for all to see but deniers refuse to be side-tracked by the facts and by the documented evidence. The Jewish people have chronicled their history, from its inception, in the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament). Much of it is substantiated by finds in archaeological excavations, not only in Israel but in the entire Middle East, and in external sources.
Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel), Leah and Rachel are our patriarchs and matriarchs. Their descendants, through the twelve sons of Jacob, are the original Jewish people, then known both as the twelve tribes of Israel and as Hebrews.
After a long sojourn in Egypt they leave, led by Moses and under Joshua they conquer the Land of Canaan, which God had promised to Abraham and his descendants. When Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai, this people, all descended from Abraham and Sarah, now had a religion - Judaism in modern English. Uniquely, the Israelites were now a people and a religion.
Thus far is perhaps a matter of belief in the veracity of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament). For the non-believers there is other evidence. There are inscriptions found both in Egypt and in Mesopotamia which refer to the various Canaanite peoples. Drawings of the unsuccessful Philistine invasion of Egypt are found in tombs. The same Philistines who invaded the southern coast of the Land of Canaan and against whom the first king of Israel, Saul battled in vain.
By the time we get to King David, just over three thousand years ago, we are on surer ground. Faith and facts. The house of David is mentioned in an inscription found in situ in the excavation at Dan. His city has been excavated in Jerusalem where seals with the names of royal scribes mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures (OT) have been found.
After the death of king Solomon, the kingdom of Israel was rent by civil war. The two southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin were henceforth to be known as the kingdom of Judah. In the eighth century BCE the northern kingdom of Israel was overrun by the Assyrians and the ten tribes were led into exile, to remain lost until the twentieth century. The Jews of Ethiopia are the descendants of one of the tribes and in northern India there are a group of people who identify themselves as the descendants of the tribe of Menashe. Lest we doubt the scriptures, there is reference to this Assyrian campaign in Egyptian annals.
Assyria disappeared from history and it was the Babylonians who conquered the kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE. They destroyed the Temple Solomon had built in Jerusalem and exiled much of the population to the rivers of Babylon where "they wept for Zion". (Psalm 137). Babylon too disappeared from history and within a few decades Cyrus, the king of Persia, allowed the descendants of the exiled Judeans, from which later will come the word "Jew", to return to Judah and to rebuild their Temple.
The book of Ezra opens with the declaration of Cyrus and is almost a verbatim copy of a tablet which was found in an excavation in the Persian archives. This "return to Zion" and the rebuilding of the Temple, the Second Temple, are the last events recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The trials and tribulations of the Jews over the next two thousand five hundred years are well documented in Greek, Roman, Christian and other historical sources as well as in the Talmud and various Jewish writings.
Despite exile and persecution the Jewish people have remained faithful to their religion. Our religion preserved our peoplehood and in the twentieth century our religion and our peoplehood were recognized by the League of Nations and by United Nations. In 1948, in a war not of our choosing, we won our own state, the State of Israel, and we now became a people, a religion, and a nation among the nations of the world.
To deny the history of the Jews, to deny the existence of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem brings to question the accuracy of the Gospel narratives in the NT. To deny the existence of David and Solomon brings to question the accuracy of the Koran where they are both recognized as prophets. To deny the legitimacy of the State of Israel is to question UN resolutions.
Our right to be recognized as a Jewish State is no less than the right of fifty Arab and Moslem counties the be known as the "Islamic republic of ‚Ä¶". Our right to have a flag with the Star of David is no less than the right of Switzerland, Greece, Sweden, Finland and the UK to have a cross on their flags.
Our right to protect our status as a Jewish State of Israel and to expect an oath of allegiance is no less than the right of the Swiss, Germans, Japanese, French and innumerable other countries to protect their individual national heritage.
Denying these rights only to Israel illustrates once again the double standard - one rule for the world, another for Israel.
"Israel can name itself whatever it wants," said the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, while, according to the newspaper HaAretz, his chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said that the Palestinian Authority will never recognize Israel as the Jewish state.
These are chilling words. You may be asking yourselves why this recognition is so important to Israel.
If Israel is to recognise the right of the Palestinians, who have no historical roots in this land, to their state, it should be obvious that the Palestinians in turn have to recognise the three thousand year connection of Jewish people to the same land. If this recognition is not mutual, how can we hope for a genuine peace?
The problem is that the Palestinian identity as a people, which is a less than fifty years in the making, depends entirely on negating the identity and history of the Jewish people. That is why they have to deny that the Jewish Temple lies somewhere beneath the Dome of the Rock.
The PMW, Palestinian Media Watch, sends regular bulletins and clips of what is broadcast in the Palestinian media in Arabic for the Palestinians. Needless to say this is very different from what the non-Palestinian hears.
On 6th October Palestinians were told on PA TV (Fatah) that "the holy sites of Jaffa are in the hands of the settlers". Jaffa is in Israel and is one unit with the one hundred year old city of Tel Aviv, to which the Palestinians also lay claim. The inference here is that settlers are not only those Israelis living in the West Bank but also those living in Israel. And all should be expelled. http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=3466
According to Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on 26th October, during a visit to Bethlehem PA chairman Abbas displayed a stone model of Palestine which erases Israel completely. This needs no explanation. It is the ultimate Palestinian aspiration. http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=3467
Over the last decade or two we have seen the Arab citizens of Israel redefine themselves. Whereas once they saw themselves as Israeli Arabs today many prefer to be known as Palestinians living in Israel. Despite this though, they are definitely not interested in moving from Israel to the future Palestinian state.
The Arab members of Knesset rarely devote themselves to improving the lot of their constituents but prefer to indulge in foreign policy politics and criticize Israel at every possible forum. This unfortunately has boomeranged somewhat as segments of the Israeli public have become more wary of their Arab neighbours.
Below are excerpts from Israeli Arab leaders' comments as presented by MEMRI http://www.memri.org/palestinianmediastudiesproject
'Awad 'Abd Al-Fatah, secretary-general of the National Democratic Assembly party, known as Balad, called for the Israeli Arabs to be recognized as part of the Palestinian struggle, explaining that as members of the Palestinian people they had the right to participate in deliberations over the Palestinian cause.
In an interview for the Qatari daily Al-Raya, MK Haneen Zo'abi, of the Balad party, said that negotiations with Israel undermined the inquiry committees and the boycotts against Israel: "One picture of Palestinian Authority President Abu Mazen shaking hands with Netanyahu wipes away all the achievements of the political inquiry committees and all the calls for boycotting [Israel]. The popular boycotts and the international investigations require a moral [basis] as well as a [firm political] stance... while the path of negotiations is an act of self-sabotage on our part."
MK Taleb Al-Sana, of the United Arab List-Arab Movement for Renewal (Ra'am-Ta'al), called on the Israeli Arabs to unite in refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, since, he said, this is tantamount to recognizing what the Jews view as their historical right to the land. A fellow party member, MK Ahmad Tibi, said that "the Palestinian leadership rejects the contemptible and unacceptable Israeli demand that the PLO recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
In a similar vein, MK Baraka stated that "recognizing [Israel] as a Jewish state constitutes a second nakba for the Palestinian rights," since Israel's aim in seeking such recognition is to gather all the diaspora Jewry in Israel while denying Palestinian refugees the right of return; to legitimize the expulsion of those Palestinians living in Israel; and to annex the settlements and "united Jerusalem" to the state.
 www.aljazeera.net, September 9, 2010.,  Al-Raya (Qatar), September 8, 2010. www.aljazeera.net, September 9, 2010.,  Al-'Arab (Qatar), September 15, 2010. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), October 6, 2010.
In what other democratic country in the world can members of parliament voice such treasonous opinions without fear of retribution?
It took a long time for the truth of the Mohammed el Dura story to come out but thanks to the persistence of Philippe Karsenty it did. The death of this young boy, supposedly by an Israeli soldier, has now been shown to have been staged for the reporters who were present and who were fully aware that the whole event was staged but nevertheless did not hesitate to present it as truth.
A few weeks ago we had a similar incident. Palestinian children were stoning an Israeli driven vehicle in Jerusalem and in a desperate attempt to get away a the driver hit one of the children. The story that went around the world was that a settler (Israeli of course) deliberately ran down innocent Palestinian child on his way home from prayers.
But when all the footage was examined it can clearly be seen that the photographers knew in advance what was about to happen and positioned themselves for the best shots. Not only did the young stone throwers set up an ambush, they were aided by adults who made sure that the ambushed car couldn't escape in reverse because they drove a car behind it to block any escape route.
Please watch the incident in its entirety, not just the abbreviated version for Israel bashing.
The heat waves of October are behind us and hopefully the much needed rains are on their way. But more than we pray for rain, we pray for peace.
Although we understand the need for a strong and deterring Israel Defense Force no one is happy or relaxed while their husbands, their sons and daughters are serving. From personal experience I can tell you that it seems to be even worse when our grand sons and grand daughters are called up to join the ranks!!