Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
It's our history, stupidBy MOSHE DANN
The economy, terrorism and national defense are priorities for every country. But Israel adds an essential factor: historical memory.
Egypt has its pyramids; Rome has its Colosseum; Athens has its Acropolis - but, citizens of state, the native populations feel little or no connection to their ancient cultures; their archeological sites are for tourists.
Jews, however, regard historical sites as confirmations of biblical references, providing intimate emotional links between present and past. Historical sites are bonds of identity, the reason that Jews are drawn to , despite the difficulties, and why they struggle to survive in their homeland. Life may be more comfortable in other places; here, from the time of the Bible to modern times, it's where much of Jewish history happened. That is why this is so meaningful.
Jewish national and religious consciousness - indisputably rooted exclusively in Eretz Yisrael - is the primary basis for the State of Israel's existence. The return of the Jewish people to its ancient homeland is the fulfillment of ancient prophesies and prayer - the core of its ethos and national identity and central to the process of redemption.
Confirmed by history, each new archeological discovery is a thrilling reminder of where and how Jews lived thousands of years ago. As if "beamed down," we are transported into that ancient world which lives again through us. The return of the Jewish people to Israel, the process of ingathering from around the world, the rebuilding and flourishing of a state is nothing less than a renaissance of the Jewish people.
But, as much as we are proud of our accomplishments, it fuels the enmity of our enemies. That our historical and legal claim to Eretz Yisrael is disputed by those who deny Israel's right to exist is understandable. Recognition of any part of that claim would undermine any alternative (Palestinian/Syrian) national/historic rights. Yet, some Jews, including Israelis, propose the abandonment of Judea and Samaria, the heartland of Jewish history, to form a second Palestinian state, which would be, of course, terror-based and Judenrein.
DENYING OUR sovereignty over any area of our ancient homeland negates our historic claims and our country's legal right to exist in any portion of its homeland. If it's "the occupation," then what's the difference between Tel Aviv and "the settlements," except location? And what makes one place holier than another? There is no authentic "Palestinian" archeology because there never was a coherent "Palestinian" ethnic, cultural or social group. Jews who lived in British Mandate Palestine used the term as a political reference; Arabs did not.
That Israel is a leader in high-tech, and sciences, a nominally democratic country committed to the principles of egalitarianism, social and cultural freedom, a bastion of Western values is very nice; these are not, however, a reason to exist.
Israel's raison d'etre is its continuity as the ancient/modern homeland of the Jewish people. Without acknowledging that historical reference, Jews have no better claim to "Palestine" than any other group.
The issue is not simply over territory, or sovereignty, or the legal rights of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael, but to create a uniquely Jewish civilization.
That challenge must be defined, grounded in Jewish history, tradition and culture. Approached from the perspective of peoplehood, and contemporary political expediency, such efforts are doomed to irrelevancy.
To deny or distance oneself from one's history is self-rejection; to embrace one's history is affirmation. The great irony in the current debate over the nature of Zionism is that those who argue for secularism deny the legacy of the past; those who argue for a Torah-based state are in danger of exclusivity.
Attacked from all sides, physically by Arab and Muslim countries, and rhetorically by much of the international community, the UN and many NGOs, Israel's struggle as a nation is rooted in its connection to an authentic revealed history and its adherence to Torah values. Paradoxically, both religious and secular Zionism thrust Jews toward an engagement with history centered in the Land of Israel. Both cling to the uniqueness of Jewish history and it is precisely this link between the Jewish people, the Land of Israel and Torah that makes Zionism different from all other nationalisms. Israel's rebirth and flourishing prove that we are not at the end of history, but rather its continuing relevance, meaning and hope for all mankind.
The writer, a former assistant professor of history, is a writer and journalist living in Jerusalem. email@example.com
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Today is the 67th anniversary of Yair Stern's murder by the British. Yair was a Jewish urban revolutionary who founded and led the Lehi Zionist organization in the struggle for the establishment of Israel.
You can read more about his life and his struggle here.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Some important information about United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine):
- The 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine was a United Nations General Assembly resolution and not a UN Security Council resolution. This is significant because only the UN Security Council has the legal authority to make decisions which member governments must carry out under the United Nations Charter.
- UN General Assembly Resolution 181 was, according to its own language, merely a recommendation. The resolution is in no way legally binding on any nation or group.
- Although UN General Assembly Resolution 181 was accepted by the official Zionist leadership, it was rejected by not only the Arab leaders but also by the Jewish fighters who had successfully freed the Land of Israel from British rule. All of western Palestine (from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea) was liberated by the Jewish underground (both Lehi and Etzel) from the British administration which had been occupying the territory while working diligently to prevent the creation of a Jewish state.
- UN General Assembly Resolution 181 was if anything an anti-Israel resolution as it sought to shrink the size of the Jewish state and internationalize Israel's capital city of Jerusalem, thus robbing the Jewish people of lands freed by them from British rule.
- When seven Arab armies (two of which were armed, trained and led by British officers) attacked the State of Israel following UN General Assembly Resolution 181, the United Nations did nothing to interfere in what looked to be the imminent destruction of the re-born Jewish state. But when the tide of battle turned and Israel began beating back the invading forces, the UN dispatched Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte as their mediator in the conflict. Benradotte did everything in his power to limit the success of Israel's military until he was finally gunned down by Jewish underground fighters in Jerusalem.
SO WHY IS THE STATE OF ISRAEL OFTEN ATRIBUTED TO THE UNITED NATIONS PARTITION PLAN?
Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, in an attempt to legitimize both his rule and the claim that his diplomatic efforts (and not the Jewish underground's heroic struggle for freedom) won the Jewish nation a state, inaugurated November 29th as a day of commemoration for the UN partition plan. As part of its general policy of belittling the underground's role in founding the country, Israel's school system educated entire generations of Jews to view the partition plan as a great diplomatic victory responsible for Jewish political independence. This misinformation has had a damaging effect on the Israeli public. Because Israelis learn in school that they have a state due to the UN giving it to them rather than because young Jews were ready to fight and sacrifice for political freedom, the obvious conclusion is that in order to keep the Jewish state alive, Israel must appease the international community (this is a good example of a problem that occurs when leaders who oppose revolution assume power after the revolution succeeds).