I take this opportunity to wish all a year of peace, good health, abundant love of family and friends, and spiritual growth.
Something disturbing happened in Jerusalem earlier this week, and the story is not yet over:
Temple Mount activists Yehuda Glick, former MK and President of the Shalom Jerusalem Foundation; Tom Nisani, Executive Director of Beyadenu; and Emanuel Brosh, a board member of Beyadenu, went outside the Eastern Wall of the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday, September 19, to pray and blow the shofar in observance of the month of Elul, as Rosh Hashana approaches. The Eastern Wall where they went, near the Golden Gate, is on the eastern side of the Temple Mount. (See below with Brosh, on the left, and Glick.)
Two Arabs then approached them with intent to attack. Members of the Border Guard who arrived at the scene prevented the attack, but then detained the Jews until late evening – not the Arabs, in spite of requests by the activists that they do so. Accusing the activists of being a “provocation,” the police brought them to court seeking an injunction that would prevent them from being in the vicinity of the Old City until October 19, after the Holidays were over.
The Court denied this request, saying the three, who were represented by a lawyer from Honenu, had to stay away only until after 6 am the next day, Tuesday, September 20.
After the time designated by the Court, the three went again to the area outside the Eastern Wall to blow the shofar. The police were apparently going to appeal the court ruling, but in the end, dropped it. And yet, a second time, in spite of the Court ruling, the police made them leave.
Nisani has told me that they intend to petition the Court to prevent the police from harassing them, and that they do intend to go again to blow the shofar outside the Eastern Wall.
This story is hardly unique. Many is the time that Israeli police have opted to restrict Jewish religious rights on Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) in order to avoid friction with Arabs threatening to riot. The Arabs are very good at that: threatening violence to get their way. It works because we let it.
We see a similar attitude in other respects as well: for example, with regard to the fact that Palestinian Arabs, supported by the EU, are stealing our land in Area C and, to an alarming degree, certain Israeli officials – the Civil Admiistration, etc. – are letting it happen.
What all of this speaks to is an unsettling indifference on the part of some Israeli Jews with regard to Jewish rights to the Land. Indifference, or, put another way, failure to understand the immeasurable value of our inheritance.
As the High Holidays – the Days of Awe – approach, I thought this a particularly opportune moment to raise this issue. We are entering a period of personal introspection; but it should be a period, as well, of some very serious national soul searching with regard to this situation.
Take the time to consider Israel’s founding and all of the years since, which have brought us to where we are. Do this with eyes open and it is difficult not to see the measure of the gift, which is nothing short of miraculous. We have come so far, so quickly – winning wars logic tells us we should not have won, accomplishing so much for the State, and for the world.
But do we open our hearts to the full realization that this gift is truly ours?
Sadly, there are Jews who do not, and the implications are huge.
The Land is ours from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea. The Palestinian Arabs like to say this. But, no, it most decidedly does not belong to them. What is so amazing is that we have multiple proofs at all levels that the Land belongs to the Jews. In philosophical terms, this would be referred to as overdetermination: one proof would be sufficient, but there are many.
There is our heritage in this land, going back millenia. The beginning is with the Almighty’s promise to Abraham, made five times. (E.g., Genesis 17:1-2, “The whole land of Canaan…I will give you as an everlasting possession to you and to your descendants.”) And then our ancient history here, documented today in a wealth of archaeological discoveries, not the least of them on the Temple Mount. That history unfolded in Judaea & Samaria, in places such as Hevron and Shilo.
And there is the legal aspect, with the Mandate for Palestine passed unanimously by the League of Nations, which stands as an article of international law. Then uti possidetus juris, an article of international common law that says Israel’s boundaries are the boundaries of Mandate Palestine.
And lastly the fact that we acquired possession of the land in defensive wars.
So nu? Why has this not been internalized by all the nation? Why are there doubts that linger for some: A reluctance to treasure and guard what is ours? A willingness to surrender part of it without a backward glance. It is important to discuss this very difficult and complex problem in the days ahead.
We can be grateful that there are many who do treasure the gift that is Israel. Looking forward mere weeks, to the beginning of November, we will have elections. Their outcome will be critical!! It is imperative that everyone who loves the land come out to vote.
I have picked up the news that Yair Lapid, in NY now as (interim) prime minister of Israel, will address the General Assembly on Thursday. According to reports, he will be endorsing a “two-state solution.”
This is an enormous mistake. Yair Lapid does not get it. May he be soundly defeated in the coming election.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner.