Archive for the ‘Jerusalem – history’ category

O! Jerusalem

December 26, 2017

O! Jerusalem, Israel National News, Rabbi Berel Wein, December 26, 2017

The city of Jerusalem itself is thriving as perhaps never before in its long and turbulent history. The population is at an all-time high and every neighborhood in the city is experiencing new construction and refurbishment. The light rail system has proven to be a success and the good old green Egged buses are still plying their routes more or less in an orderly fashion and on a scheduled timeline. 

The city has enjoyed an economic upturn and its government has improved many of the services, quietly and without boastful fanfare. The Arab citizens of Jerusalem – they are a little more than 30% of the population here – enjoy a standard of living and opportunity unmatched anywhere else in the Middle East.

Yet, this means nothing regarding the attitude of much of the world as far as Israel and Jerusalem is concerned

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The Jewish people and the world generally were witness this past week to yet another fulfillment of a biblical prophecy. The prophet said that a day will come when all of the nations – or at least a sizable portion of them – will attack Jerusalem and attempt to dislodge the Jewish people from their capital city and its holy environs. 128 nations voted for a UN General Assembly resolution denying the right of Israel and the Jewish people to claim Jerusalem as its capital. 

Among the nations that voted for this resolution were the usual culprits – dictators, slaveholders, warmongers and many others of this ilk. And naturally the hypocritical democracies of Europe never have been able to overcome their anti-Jewish bias, developed over centuries of persecution and discrimination against Jews also supported this nefarious resolution.

There were countries, led by the United States of America, who voted against the resolution and spoke up about its bias and impracticality. In the long view of history those nations who defended Jewish rights eventually were blessed for their wisdom and kindness. The United States of America is the world’s leading democracy and with all of its warts and faults remains a shining beacon of fairness and opportunity for individuals all over the world. 

Supporting Israel’s claim to Jerusalem is just simply choosing right over wrong and realistic history over illusory plans and policies. The United States committed its error in supporting an anti-Israel resolution last year under the Obama administration. And it made good on its policy of long-standing to protect Israel from these continued efforts by the United Nations to undermine its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

There is no use arguing this matter logically or even realistically. It matters little to the world that Jerusalem, for the first time in many centuries, is free for worship to all faiths and peoples. It also matters little that Israel has all of its government offices located in Jerusalem and that Israel as a sovereign nation has long chosen Jerusalem to be its capital. None of this matters because it is not so much that the world wants Jerusalem – after all it was a wasteland and backwater location for many centuries whether under Christian or Moslem rule – it is simply that the world does not want the Jews to have Jerusalem.

There is absolutely no logical explanation for this position but there it is anyway. The terrible virus of anti-Semitism affects all attitudes and positions regarding the state of Israel and certainly regarding Jerusalem. I certainly agree that there are religious difficulties for both the Christian and Moslem worlds regarding the status of Jerusalem as being a Jewish city and the capital of the state of Israel. However just as portions of the Christian clergy and Moslem nations have learned to live with the reality of the existence of the state of Israel – itself a religious difficulty to the theology of these faiths – so too I am confident that they will be able to adjust to the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state. Reality eventually affects beliefs and previously held opinions, even those that were once represented as being sacred and immutable.

The city of Jerusalem itself is thriving as perhaps never before in its long and turbulent history. The population is at an all-time high and every neighborhood in the city is experiencing new construction and refurbishment. The light rail system has proven to be a success and the good old green Egged buses are still plying their routes more or less in an orderly fashion and on a scheduled timeline.

The city has enjoyed an economic upturn and its government has improved many of the services, quietly and without boastful fanfare. The Arab citizens of Jerusalem – they are a little more than 30% of the population here – enjoy a standard of living and opportunity unmatched anywhere else in the Middle East.

Yet, this means nothing regarding the attitude of much of the world as far as Israel and Jerusalem is concerned.

The United Nations resolution, shameful as it is, is nevertheless nonbinding and non-enforceable. It is another one of the paper propaganda victories that the Palestinian Authority revels in, which brings them no closer to a state of their own, which by now most of us suspect they really don’t want anyway.

Jerusalem was supposed to be a bargaining chip to extract greater concessions from Israel on any final agreement. Somehow that chip may now be lost and no longer in play.

On Jerusalem, a response divorced from reality

December 13, 2017

On Jerusalem, a response divorced from reality, Times of IsraelTzachi Hanegbi, December 13, 2017

Much of the world has lambasted President Trump’s recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Recognizing reality is in the interest of peace. Continual denial of reality, and resorting to violence anytime somebody says something you’d prefer they hadn’t is a recipe for perpetual conflict.

There remains only one viable path forward to achieving peace. President Abbas claims he is a man of peace. Saying you are a man of peace is easy, actually being one requires courage. If he is serious, he can prove it now by taking two actions that are entirely within his power: 1. End his constant incitement to violence against Jews in Israel and around the world; and 2. Accept Prime Minister Netanyahu’s repeated offers to negotiate anytime, anywhere without preconditions.

The time for empty slogans, and outright rejection of reality has long since passed. If President Abbas truly wants peace and a better future for his people, the time for action is now.

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Last week, President Donald Trump made an historic announcement. It was consistent with his powers as the President of the United States and in line with the Jerusalem Embassy Act passed overwhelmingly by the United States Congress 22 years ago.

Based on the reactions in the press, by European leaders and across the Muslim world, you would think he had made a broad pronouncement granting Israel dominion over the entire Middle East and declaring the Palestinians devoid of any rights. He did no such thing.

President Trump made a brave decision to keep his word and recognize the simple and indisputable reality that Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. I have served in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, since 1988. I go to work every day in Jerusalem. Across the street from the Knesset is the rime Minister’s office and just up the road is the Supreme Court. When foreign heads of state meet with the Prime Minister they do so in Jerusalem, and when Anwar Sadat came to make peace he delivered his historic address in Jerusalem.

President Trump made clear he was taking no position on the final borders or status of Jerusalem or any other issue of contention between Israel and the Palestinians. He stated that he is determined to reach a peaceful resolution to the conflict in a manner acceptable to both Israel and the Palestinians. In his words, “[w]e are not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved… We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians”.

In response, President Abbas is boycotting Vice President Pence during his visit to Israel and has said the United States has forever abrogated its role as an honest broker. He has called for “days of rage” and endless protests and riots. President Erdogan of Turkey has threatened to cut diplomatic ties with Israel over a purely American decision. In Sweden, a synagogue was firebombed.

There are protests from London to Malaysia. How is it that such a measured announcement, designed to reflect reality, and painstakingly crafted to make clear that the President was not prejudicing the rights of the Palestinians, resulted in such an unhinged response around the world? The President said that the parties themselves should make the decisions that will determine their own future and wants a “great deal for the Palestinians”. Why does being told they have agency over their own future offend the Palestinians or their supporters?

The answer, unfortunately, is that the response has very little to do with what the President actually said and the real world impact of his announcement. The response makes clear that those protesting are not concerned that recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel makes peace harder to attain. They are angry because it may make it easier.

For those who reject the rights of the Jewish people to a state within any borders, any pronouncement that could bring reconciliation to the truth is a threat. Anyone recognizing the fact that the Jewish people have a three thousand year connection to Jerusalem is a threat to those making the absurd claim that Jews are invaders and colonists in our own land.

Those chanting “Khaybar, Khaybar ya yahud” and burning Israeli and American flags are not interested in promoting co-existence. They have no interest in building a better life for the Palestinians, and certainly not for Israelis.

President Trump recognizes the meaning of Jerusalem to the Jewish people. He appreciates that central to our return home was our return to the only capital we have ever known or wanted anywhere in the world. That makes his statement anathema to anti-Semites and anti-Zionists around the world. Make no mistake, most of those protesting are doing so because of their hatred of Jews and Israel, not out of love for the Palestinians or concern for a brighter future.

David Ben Gurion famously said “No city in the world, not even Athens or Rome, ever played as great a role in the life of a nation for so long a time, as Jerusalem has done in the life of the Jewish people”. This statement is still true today.

The truth will never be an impediment to peace. Deluding oneself into believing that a Temple never stood where it once stood, or that the Israeli government does not stand where it now stands is the true impediment to peace.

Much of the world has lambasted President Trump’s recognition that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Recognizing reality is in the interest of peace. Continual denial of reality, and resorting to violence anytime somebody says something you’d prefer they hadn’t is a recipe for perpetual conflict.

There remains only one viable path forward to achieving peace. President Abbas claims he is a man of peace. Saying you are a man of peace is easy, actually being one requires courage. If he is serious, he can prove it now by taking two actions that are entirely within his power: 1. End his constant incitement to violence against Jews in Israel and around the world; and 2. Accept Prime Minister Netanyahu’s repeated offers to negotiate anytime, anywhere without preconditions.

The time for empty slogans, and outright rejection of reality has long since passed. If President Abbas truly wants peace and a better future for his people, the time for action is now.

Tzachi Hanegbi is Minister for Regional Cooperation

America is re-establishing reason and a respect for facts

December 7, 2017

America is re-establishing reason and a respect for facts, Israel National News, Giulio Meotti, December 6, 2017

(Please see also, A Two State Solution for Europe? — DM)

Europe has betrayed Israel. Only America can and must do the right thing. And the right thing is to certify the inalienable and millennial Jewish right to the most beautiful city in the world.

A macabre joke circulated at the airport during the harrowing weeks preceding the 1967 war was “The last one to leave turns off the light”. Today, Jerusalem is full of lights. Hallelujah! Next year in Jerusalem!

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Palestinian Arabs assault Israelis on the Temple Mount? The metal detectors’ fault.

UNESCO Islamizes the places holy to Judaism? Not to worry.

The UN floods the Palestinian propaganda machine with money? Give them more. The European Union marks Israeli goods? Just fine.

For years the world has violated the “status quo” between Israelis and Palestinians. But now that America is re-establishing reason and facts as it should have done since 1995, by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, all the newspapers speak of “provocation”.

If the Jews had to wait for the state to be served on a silver platter, Jews and Holocaust survivors would still be in the Red Cross camps. The Jews had to fight to get their land back and for the last 80 years they have had to defend it with their fingernails and teeth. The world will always find reasons to dismantle Israel piece by piece, all the way to the Ben Gurion international airport (Lydda).

There has never been a moment like this one, when the Middle East is devastated, and the West should be showing its unwavering solidarity with Israel. Instead the always smiling Macron, the UN, the mainstream media all in unison, the Hamas terrorists, the kleptocrat Abbas, the Vatican, the Saudi satrap, the caliph Erdogan, the Jordanian king and the European bureaucrats all agree that the American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is a “provocation”. Because Israel represents a deadly threat to Islamist regimes. Because those who oppose today are those who have focused on “peace” for Israel, rather than on freedom and progress.

Being democratic today means understanding that the enemies of Israel are not only afraid of its weapons, but also of its sensational ideals, on which the Israelis have built their beautiful capital.

Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years and the capital of the State of Israel for 70, whether or not that is recognized by the UN, the EU, Erdogan, Jordan and all those who have always worked with blackmail, threats and wars to turn Israel into an ever smaller ghetto and erect a “Palestine” in its place, not alongside of it. No physical and diplomatic jihad will ever take Jerusalem from the Jews.

The Arab-Islamic world and the Palestinian Arabs themselves, will always find what they see as valid reasons for “burning up the region”. They have always found or manufactured reasons. Tens of thousands of Israelis have been killed in these extraordinary 80 years of war. If the Damascus gate in Jerusalem resembles Israel and not the Syrian Damascus it is only thanks to the Israeli presence.

Much of the international community does not recognize even pre-1948 Israel (see the boycott of Jeremy Corbyn and others of the Balfour Declaration), let alone the post-1967 Israel, the eastern part of Jerusalem where much of Jewish history took place.

Europe has betrayed Israel. Only America can and must do the right thing. And the right thing is to certify the inalienable and millennial Jewish right to the most beautiful city in the world.

A macabre joke circulated at the airport during the harrowing weeks preceding the 1967 war was “The last one to leave turns off the light”. Today, Jerusalem is full of lights. Hallelujah! Next year in Jerusalem!

Jerusalem 101: Why President Trump’s New Policy Is Such a Big Deal

December 6, 2017

Jerusalem 101: Why President Trump’s New Policy Is Such a Big Deal, BreitbartJoel B. Pollak, December 6, 2017

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Trump’s decision also represents a guarantee of Israeli sovereignty in at least part of Jerusalem. As such, it represents the fulfillment of thousands of years of Jewish prayer, and over a century of Zionist efforts to establish and protect a Jewish state in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people.

It is no exaggeration to say that for Jews, recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is an event of almost Biblical significance. And we are witnesses to it.

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President Donald Trump is announcing Wednesday that the U.S. officially recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that the State Department will begin the process of moving the embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

It might be unclear at first why that policy change is so important. Jerusalem is, after all, the de facto capital of Israel. The Israeli parliament (Knesset) is there, as are the prime minister’s office, the president’s residence, the Supreme Court, and all of the executive agencies. Israelis consider Jerusalem their capital whether or not the U.S. recognizes it as such. As a practical matter, the change is symbolic. But as such, it is still extremely important.

To understand why, it is important to understand the history of the city. The Old Testament describes in 2 Samuel 5 how King David conquered the city and made it his capital, over 3000 years ago. It later describes in 1 Kings 8 how David’s son, King Solomon, built the Holy Temple and installed the Ark of the Covenant there. Since then, Jews have always faced Jerusalem in their daily prayers. It is the center of the Jewish faith and the core of Jewish history.

The Bible also tells the story of how the Jews were exiled from Jerusalem by the Babylonians, and later returned to rebuild the Temple. Another exile happened after 70 A.D., when the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and the city itself. Still, many Jews remained, and Jews worldwide prayed for 2,000 years for a return to “Zion.” Jews have been the largest ethnic group in Jerusalem for nearly 200 years, and a majority since the mid-nineteenth century.

Jerusalem is also holy to Christians and to Muslims, though it is less central to either. And under Israeli sovereignty, all religions have enjoyed the freedom to worship at their respective holy sites. The Temple Mount — or Haram ash-Sharif, to Muslims — has only been closed when there are imminent security threats, as radicals have sometimes used that holy site to attack Jews worshipping at the Western Wall — the last remnant of the Temple — below.

Jews began returning to the region in large numbers in the late nineteenth century as part of the Zionist movement, which aimed to re-establish Israel as a modern state, and as a refuge for the persecuted Jews of Europe. In 1917, the British government backed the establishment of a Jewish “national home” in what was then called Palestine (though the Arabs of the region did not call themselves Palestinians), in lands under British control since World War One.

The Jewish community of Jerusalem had, by then, expanded beyond the Old City and developed neighborhoods to the west. In 1947, the United Nations voted to approve the partition of Palestine west of the Jordan River into two states — one Jewish, one Arab. Jerusalem was to be an international city, not under the control of either side. The Jews accepted the plan and declared independence in 1948; the Arabs rejected the plan and declared war instead.

During that war, Arab forces fought to sever the connection between the Jewish community in Jerusalem and the Jewish communities further west. There was only one road to Jerusalem, and it was constantly under attack. In the Old City, Jewish fighters were eventually overrun by Jordanian troops — which, trained by Britain, were the Arab world’s best. Jordan occupied the Old City and flattened the Jewish quarter, ethnically cleansing its inhabitants.

From 1948 to 1967, Jerusalem was divided into two parts. On the western side, Israel established its capital amidst a modern city. On the eastern side, Jordan governed the Old City and the surrounding Arab neighborhoods of the West Bank. There was never any discussion of establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank or a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem. Jews were denied access to the holy sites of the Old City, especially the Western Wall.

In the Six Day War of 1967, Israel — under direct threat of destruction by the surrounding Arab states — won a surprise victory and took control of the Sinai peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. Israeli troops also conquered all of Jerusalem, reuniting it and liberating the Old City. But the Arab states still refused to negotiate with Israel, and most countries declined to place their embassies there for fear of antagonizing the Palestinians.

In the 1990s, when formal negotiations began between Israel and the Palestinians, Jerusalem was one of the most difficult issues — more difficult than the questions of borders and Palestinian refugees. Though Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, it gave the president the power to sign a waiver every six months delaying the embassy move. The idea was to preserve the status quo in Jerusalem so as not to jeopardize ongoing peace talks.

But as administration officials explained to reporters on Tuesday, after more than two decades, it was clear that recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was not a real obstacle to peace. It was clear to all that the western part of Jerusalem, at least, would be under Israeli sovereignty in any conceivable peace agreement. The idea that all of the city would be up for negotiation was little more than a concession to the most extreme Palestinian demands.

As such, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. embassy there is just a recognition of reality. But it is also a courageous decision, showing that the U.S. will stand with our allies regardless of terrorist threats.

President Trump’s decision also represents a guarantee of Israeli sovereignty in at least part of Jerusalem. As such, it represents the fulfillment of thousands of years of Jewish prayer, and over a century of Zionist efforts to establish and protect a Jewish state in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people.

It is no exaggeration to say that for Jews, recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is an event of almost Biblical significance. And we are witnesses to it.