Sunday, December 16, 2012

December Ponderings

Beryl Ratzer, author of "A Historical Tour of the Holy Land," periodically sends out an interesting newsletter. This is her December newsletter, which may also be read on her web site. 


Here we are, almost halfway through both Hanukah and December and I still haven’t fully processed the events of November. It began with a few days of long-awaited rain and, for me, with twelve days exploring the country, from the snowcapped Hermon Mountain in the north to sunny Eilat in the south, with twenty six delightful Australian tourists, interested in absolutely everything. 

What none of us expected was that their Israel experience would include a brief war, “Pillar of Defense” (in Hebrew “Pillar of Cloud” Ex 13:21), a rush to the bomb shelter in our Jerusalem hotel and a chance meeting with a family who were taking a vacation from their Ashkelon home which had been repeatedly attacked over the last months by rockets fired from Gaza Strip, that very same Gaza Strip which they had left when Israel evacuated it in 2005. 

For months the world turned a blind eye on the thousands of rockets, missiles and mortars raining down on Israeli towns and villages, fired from the Gaza Strip. When Israel decided to retaliate the world very briefly supported the Israeli precision bombing of strategic targets before returning to the customary condemnation of Israel and our “disproportionate” actions.

Then came the 29th of November the very date when, sixty five years ago, the UN voted to partition Palestine, then under British Mandate rule, into two entities, one for the Jewish Palestinians and one for the Arab Palestinians. Resolution 181 was joyfully accepted by Jews and vehemently rejected by the Arabs. The Jews established the State of Israel. As they had no claims of nationhood instead of doing the same, the Arabs declared war on the nascent Israel, a war which they lost and then called this missed opportunity a Naqba, a disaster.

On 29th November this year, 2012, the UN voted to recognize the Palestinians as a non-member state. In one fell sweep, UN resolutions 242 and 338 were tossed into the rubbish bin along with all the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, from the Declaration of Principles signed by PM Rabin and Yasser Arafat in 1993, the Wye River Memorandum in 1998, the Camp David Agreements and the Road Map.

The Palestinians no longer feel the need to recognize Israel, to negotiate a final settlement with Israel or to stop their attacks on Israel. Why should they? By winning the media war, the PR war, which has denied the history of the Jewish people in this land, despite written and archeological proof and virtually erasing all the previous agreements signed with Israel, all calling for direct negotiations, the world has given them all they asked for, and more, with no strings attached.

It has taken a long time but I think that most people here in Israel have come to realise that we have no one to rely on but ourselves. The world turned a blind eye while over six million Jews were slaughtered during WWII and the world is turning a deaf ear to threats to “wipe Israel off the map”, to the Palestinian glorification of those who will commit suicide if they can kill a few Jews at the same time, Jews – not Israelis, to the claim that Israel does not and has not any right to exist.

Nor is it concerned that the Palestinian demand for a state includes the proviso that it be totally Judenrein, absolutely without one Israeli or one Jew, which is the same thing as far as they are concerned, thereby proving that anti-Israel, anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are one and the same thing. Hitler failed to achieve this in Europe but there are Arab and Moslem countries which have succeeded. 

Not surprisingly, overlooked is the fact that the more than a million Arabs, Moslem, Christian and Druze,  living in Israel are Israeli citizens with the right to vote in elections and have 16 members (out of 120) in the outgoing Knesset.  

Please take the time to see these two brief presentations, directly from ‘the horse’s mouth’.

In a world rife with civil wars, massacres, military revolts, starvation, human trafficking, women and child abuse, dictatorships and economic upheavals the world is pre-occupied with a potential plan to perhaps build a few thousand homes in Jerusalem, the three thousand year old capital of the Jewish people, area E1 which adjoins it and Israeli ‘settlements’ in general.

I doubt if there are many people that know the area E1 is a barren hilly piece of land a mere twelve square kilometers (4.6 square miles) in size, on the road which descends through the Judean desert from Jerusalem to Jericho. Try and picture the size. I also doubt also if many people know that the ‘settlements’ take up a mere 2% of all the land of the West Bank.

The world obsession with Israel is disproportionate to say the least. And it explains why we are beginning to realise how accurate were the words of the first century sage, Rabbi Hillel, who said "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if not now, when?"

This is the same Rabbi Hillel who, when asked to explain Judaism while his interlocutor stood on one leg, replied:  "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn."

In these days of political correctness I end with the innocuous “Seasons greetings”!

Beryl Ratzer
Author of "A Historical Tour of the Holy Land

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