Saturday, November 18, 2017

Harvard Does (In) the Temple Mount

As we learn from here, the Julis-Rabinowitz Program  on Jewish and Israeli Law at Harvard Law School, founded out of a recognition that the benefactor's parents and relatives "made sure that the rich heritage of Judaism, including its values and history, and the importance of Israel, both to the Jewish People and the world, were consistent parts of our spiritual and intellectual growth" and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program at Harvard University will be holding an international academic conference on the topic of the "Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif: Conflict, Culture, Law" during November 28-29, 2017.

The Prince himself possibly won't attend as he is under arrest on suspicion of corruption crimes in his native Saudi Arabia.

The aim of the conference is

to explore several specific, interlocking aspects of the dynamic struggle to conceptualize, govern, and control the site...through analysis of its complex history, the evolving religious beliefs and practices that are attached to it, and the intricate legal frameworks in which it is enmeshed...the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif is an important lynchpin in a struggle of global importance, one that merits close attention and engagement by people everywhere. 

Leading scholars of history, religion, culture, and international law to approach these questions from a range of directions.

(By the way,  a conference titled “Marking the Sacred: ​The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem” took place at Providence College on June 5-7, 2017 and involved about thirty scholars who discussed the archaeology and significance of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim perspectives.  Hmm. This one seems to have been much more academic and professional and less political.)

Sounds almost wonderful. An academic conference, Jewish-Muslim cooperation and a high profile platform. Even "Temple Mount" precedes "Haram al-Sharif".

Almost wonderful, though. Almost but not quite.

Let's see the range of speakers.

Noah Feldman, Opening Remarks

Joseph Patrich, “From Restoration to Destruction: 600 years of the Second Jewish Temple”

Beatrice St. Laurent, “Unity in Diversity: Inclusiveness and Globalization in Early Islamic Jerusalem Reflected in the Dome of the Rock and the Haram al-Sharif (638-680)”

Suleiman Mourad, “Al-Haram al-Sharif of Jerusalem in the Muslim Historical Consciousness”

Moshe Halbertal, “Sovereignty and the Sacred: Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif”

Robert O. Smith, “Christian Zionism, the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, and the Contemporary Theopolitics of Jerusalem”

David Cook, “The Haram al-Sharif and Topographical Eschatology”

Jodi Magness, “Why is Jerusalem’s Temple Mount Sacred?”

Jonathan Rubin, “From Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock to Templum Domini and Palatium Salomonis: The Temple Mount in the Frankish Period”

Sarina Chen, “To Challenge and to Obey: The Double Role of Israeli Women in Temple Mount Activist Groups”

Ali Abu Al-Awar, “Al-Aqsa Murabitat’s Accomplishments in the Political and Gender Levels”

David Landes and Assaf Harel, “Freedom of Worship: The Use of Human Rights Discourse by Jewish Temple Mount Activists”

Wasfi Kialani, “The Hashemite King’s Role and Status at Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, 1917-2017”

Nadia Abu El-Haj, “What Would a Shared Archeology Look Like?”

Yitzhak Reiter, “The Dynamics of Status Quo at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif”

Omar M. Dajani, “’Touching the Holy’: How Palestinians Negotiated Jerusalem”

Maymanah Farhat, “The Dome of the Rock in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Arab Art”

Heather Coffey, “Sustaining Vectors of Sacrality in Images of the Prophet’s Ascension (Mi‘raj)”

Pamela Berger, “The Dome of the Rock as Image of the Temple of Solomon”

Maya Balakirsky Katz, “Scaling the Divide: Architectural Scale Models of the Jerusalem Temple”

That's a list for an academic Jewish self-destruct death wish.  And the program deals with law.  No one to discuss the law?  The Law for the Protection of the Holy Places (Whosoever does anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of five years)?  Article 9 of the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty (Each party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship)?

Let's start with Nadia Abu-al Haj. As even the NYTimes reported at the time

In her book...Dr. Abu El-Haj says Israeli archaeologists searched for an ancient Jewish presence to help build the case for a Jewish state. In their quest, she writes, they sometimes used bulldozers, destroying remains of other cultures, including those of Arabs.She concludes her book by saying the ransacking by thousands of Palestinians in 2000 of Joseph’s tomb, a Jewish holy site in the West Bank, “needs to be understood in relation to a colonial-national history” of Israel and the symbolic resonance of artifacts.

The book, to take an extreme example, has been described as

a specious work as it aims to perpetuate under the guise of 'scholarship" the noxious lies perpetrated by Palestinain apologists, such as herself and others

Professor Jacob Lassner's review contained this

This is a book about the politicization of the academy. Her very title is revealing. One would expect a book on archeology to be titled Facts in the Ground, but her title is Facts on the Ground...her focus is less the "archeological practice" she stakes out in the subtitle and more the political uses of archeology, that is "territorial fashioning."


Abu el-Haj's reading of Israeli academic culture and its relationship to the politics of statehood politicizes the work of Israel's scholarly establishment in a way that can be misleading. Even when granting certain Israeli archeologists their academic integrity, she tends to describe their findings as bent by the state for its own political purposes. This is inaccurate... In the end, Abu el-Haj misrepresents the Israeli passion for archeology.

Earlier this year, we learned that

Abu El-Haj is a supporter of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions and was among the leaders in the effort to push forward a resolution in the American Anthropological Association endorsing it (the resolution was narrowly rejected by the membership)

and as prominent investigative reporter Rachel Frommer has informed us, internal emails of a parallel group revealed that

The leadership of the American Studies Association (ASA) was "covertly pack[ed]" with professors known to be in favor of an academic boycott of Israel as part of a surreptitious effort to push the professional academic organization to adopt such a position

Not very academic that. 

Then there are David Landes and Assaf Harel.  Landes I personally heard at a Limmud Conference in England and was not impressed by his scholarship and certainly not by his political bent.  Harel definitely is a scholar.  He has written in the in-house journal of the radical leftist Van Leer Institute of a 

 persisting but altered centrality of messianism within the settlement project

and also that 

Alon Shvut offers one example of a successful amalgamation of messianism and Zionism

One need not be sympathetic to a subject one lectures on. One also need not be unsympathetic.

Omar Dajani  served as legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team in peace talks with Israel. In that capacity, he participated in negotiations of borders, security, and economic issues, including summits at Camp David and Taba.

Maya Balakirsky Katz has been published what seems an interesting book and her article is "Avi Yonah’s Model of Second Temple Jerusalem and the Development of Israeli Visual Culture". However, she does write on the model's use in a "public messianic campaign of Brooklyn-based Chabad Hasidim" as "contentious".

Sarina Chen's doctorate was published as a book, "Speedily in Our Days: The Temple Activists and The National Religious Society in Israel (Hebrew)" but almost a decade after it was completed.  It is woefully out-of-date as it does not deal with the major trend shift that has occurred in the past four-five years.

Yitzhak Reiter is an excellent choice, if he decides to confront unabashedly the Islamic campaigns he has studied that deny Jewish history and incite, based on falsehoods, to kill Jews. He is not at all pro-Temple Mount.

Jodi Magness wrote that letter correcting a NYTimes' error regarding the Temple Mount and is an outstanding archaeologist.

Joseph Patrich's findings are that the rock on which the Dome of the Rock is built is outside the confines of the Temple and he was at pains to stress "that his research on the location of the sanctuary on the Temple Mount is purely academic, and should not be dealt with in a political context."

Moshe Halbertal, a participant at solidarity protests on behalf of Sheikh Jarrah, thinks that Judaism has moved beyond the Temple Mount, a sort of orthodox Reform position. In a forum last year, he put forth the question, “Will the State of Israel survive the religion of Israel?”

Ali Abu Al-Awar, of whom I know nothing, is talking on the accomplishments of Al-Aqsa's Murabitat. The banned Murabitat is a proscribed organization, funded by the Islamic Movement-North, which for three years engaged in violence, both verbal and physical, including spitting at, pushing, bansheeing and endangering the safety of young children (and were suspected of planting glass shards on the pathways taken by religiously-observant Jews who walk them barefooted.  He may be reiterating the research of Salwa Alenat.  Four years ago I termed them the Wicked Witches of the Waqf.

Suleiman Mourad at least does not deny the Temple Mount's Biblical roots.

Robert O. Smith asserted that this summer's post-murder of three Israeli policemen confrontation at the Temple Mount was a "nonviolent movement" of "mass Palestinian nonviolent resistance" despite the multiple rock-throwing incidents at the site, not to mention various terrorist murders.  My reading of his thinking, that there was a "validation of religion as an effective component of resistance to state domination again changes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" was one of his pure excitement. Whether it was one of spiritual ecstasy is still, er, up in the air.  And he adds that "As much as Israel factors religious claims into its models of governance and security, it does so from a distinctively ethnocentric perspective". Does Islam do that as well? Or does it not?

That's enough, I think, to illustrate the conference's "balance".

No Nadav Shragai. No Dr. Shmuel Berkowitz, author of two books on the subject, The War of the Holy Places and How Fearful is This Place . Nor Dr. Moti Inbari.  No experts who might be even empathetic.  Maybe they couldn't come? Were they approached?

I, for what it is worth, am disappointed.  I was sure the staff at the Center could have organized a better conference. Why they didn't, I do not know.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Childish Congresswoman

If you have read this:

A Minnesota congresswoman has introduced a bill that seeks to prevent the United States from funding Israel’s military detention of Palestinian children.
The legislation introduced Tuesday by Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat, has at least nine co-sponsors. It would require the secretary of state to certify annually that U.S. assistance to Israel has not been used in the previous year to militarily detain, interrogate or abuse Palestinian children.
“The purpose of this act is to promote and protect the human rights of Palestinian children and to ensure that United States taxpayer funds shall not be used to support the military detention of Palestinian children,” the bill reads.
you are probably upset.

You may be upset because you know that "children" includes youngsters up to age 18 who are educated by the Palestinian Authority to riot, maim and even kill as terrorists in the tradition that has been inculcated in Arab kids since, at least, 1920 in the region because they have been taught to view Zionism as evil and Jews as has been recounted by using the terms:

wlad al-mayit’ [children of death],  “wlad al-mot” [children of death, a variant of wlad al-mayit]

and you may think, has the Congresswoman done anything to support programs to limit funding to the Palestinian Authority to halt its incitement actions like naming schools after terrorists, etc.?

You may be upset knowing that among the endorsers of this move are the Churches for Middle East Peace and Jewish Voices for Peace who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel as well as Defense for Children International - Palestine, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Mennonite Central Committee, Presbyterian Church (USA), the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights and United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR).

You may be upset knowing that Israel, under the circumstances does its best to assure the safety of children (and I have been involved when I did reserve duty in dealing with youngsters who need to be detained or questioned) and that there will always be, unfortunately, a small percentage of problems.

You can review these publications:

to be better aware of the reality.

You can review material at Palestinian Media Watch.

You can write or fax* the Congresswoman.  Tweet to her. Reach out on Facebook.

Just don't let her think she is correct in her actions.


2256 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-6631
Fax: (202) 225-1968


661 LaSalle Street, Suite 110
St. Paul, MN 55114
Phone: (651) 224-9191

Fax: (651) 224-3056


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How Bad Was Ms. Hotovely?

Melanie Phillips did not take kindly to Deputy Minister Tzipi Hotovely listening to her being interviewed on the BBC (starts at 1:31:00):

The interview with Tzipi Hotovely was a car crash. In the face of Robinson’s unleashed aggression Hotovely simply didn’t have a clue. The encounter illustrated yet again that the Israelis have zero understanding of the big lie behind everything British Israel-bashers hurl at Israel – that its behaviour is fundamentally unconscionable because the Jews displaced the indigenous inhabitants and rightful inheritors of the land.

As a result, Hotovely missed the point every time and thus failed to counter Robinson’s allegations with core facts that the listening and uninformed British public badly needed to hear. When Robinson falsely claimed again that the Balfour declaration’s undertaking to protect Arab rights was “unfinished business”, Hotovely replied that Israel’s Arabs did have rights. She was talking, however, about civil and religious rights, totally failing to grasp that Robinson was talking about political rights – which were never in the declaration.

Then Robinson started accusing Israel of denying those Balfour rights to the Arabs living under Israeli “occupation”. Hotovely should have replied that these Arabs were not Israel citizens and therefore not entitled to the rights afforded to Israel’s citizens, including Israeli Arabs. Instead she resorted to the knee-jerk and irrelevant political point about the Jews’ own claim to Judea and Samaria. Even when Robinson further compounded his own error by stating falsely that the Balfour declaration had said “nothing should be done which prejudices the rights of the Palestinian people”, she failed to say it had said nothing of the sort because there was no identifiable “Palestinian” Arab people at that time. Instead she spluttered, correctly but irerelevantly (sic), about the Palestinians’ refusal to coexist with Israel.

She was, in short, beyond hopeless, reflecting the profound and enduring failure of Israeli diplomacy even to understand the world in which it has to manoeuvre.

I listened to the segment.

Hotovely does mention international recognition. And she properly links that as an act which was connected to thousands of years of Jewish history, which appears in the Balfour Declaration and incorporated in the League of Nations decision to award to Great Britain the Mandate over Palestine.

She makes a general, non-religious, statement that it is natural to have a homeland.

She emphasizes that the Arabs-called-Palestinians themselves refused the opportunities for their own self-determination achievement although the intricacy in this is indeed dangerous for it is murky. 

And she stresses that there is no Arab recognition of any Jewish national identity.

All these do not justify much of what Melanie writes.

True, there is a method to dealing with what the host was doing including shutting her off, moving on to another subject while dropping an aside on the previous subject which she was not properly allowed to respond to although I think at twice she stopped him in his tracks and replied.

Yes, she did fail to adequately clarify what I have been writing for years that the quite intentional and consistent over the years non-mention of "Arabs" as a specific "community" in all the documents and rather preferring multiple communities existing at the time without specific "political" rights all indicate that primary and sole political, national sovereignty was to be awarded to the Jewish people.

Yes, she did address the issue of second-class citizens but did not make the distinction properly that the Arab population of Judea and Samaria has its own government agency, the Palestinian Authority.  That there are no elections or civil liberties or other rights is their fault, not Israel's.

One last point on the issue of law:  the international legal authorization and approval of a Jewish national home in Palestine was predicated on, we must recognize, the religious and cultural history of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel as acknowledged by the leaders of the powers at the time.  In other words, it is a circle and inter-connnected.   Melanie and Tzipi go together.

Room for improvement, surely.  Hopeless, though?  Not so much.


Allow Them A State

I caught a letter from a Richmond, Virginia - "Palestinians and Jews deserve a homeland" - which reads, in part:

Editor, Times-Dispatch:   In his letter, “It’s time to pass anti-BDS legistlation,” Rabbi Dovid Asher makes a case for Virginia to enact legislation outlawing BDS: boycott, divestment, or sanctions against products made in Israel...
The U.S. government and its citizens have remained staunch supporters of Israel’s right to exist ever since its formation in 1947. However, ongoing economic support of Netanyahu’s government has been called into question as it continues to defy calls by the international community to cease illegal West Bank settlements, endangering hopes for a Palestinian homeland...I support Israel’s right to exist; that does not make me anti-Islamic. Likewise, supporting a homeland for the Palestinians does not make me anti-Semitic; neither does objecting to a renegade Israeli government that defies U.N. mandates by continuing to promote Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
The Palestinian is as much my brother as the Jew. Only if each is allowed a secure and acceptable homeland will there be any chance of peace in the Middle East. If governments, including our own, fail to act in this regard, we as citizens have every right, affirmed as free speech by the Supreme Court, to make our displeasure known by peacefully boycotting Israeli products. The best way for the rabbi to fight anti-Semitism is to work for a Palestinian homeland.

I left this comment:

To David Elliot's letter:
He writes of "allowed a secure and acceptable homeland"
The Arabs of Palestine who viewed themselves actually as Southern Syrians rejected a "homeland" in the 1920s preferring a demand to be reunited with Syria.In 1922, two-thirds of historic Palestine became an Arab state, Jordan.In 1937, a Partition of Western Palestine was proposed which was rejected by the Arabs residing in the territory.In 1947, again they rejected a state.In 1967, Israel as willing to surrender up all territories except for Jerusalem. They rejected that, too.In 1977, an autonomy plan was proposed by Israel. It was 2000-01, 97% yielding of territory proposed. Rejected.In 2008, Olmert "gives Abbas 98%". Rejected.In 2009, Netanyahu suspends all construction. Arabs refuse to negotiate.
Maybe something is wrong with those Arabs? And with Elliot?


Perhaps Yesha's Great Political Victory

Labor Party Leader Avi Gabbay criticized the Israeli left on Monday, saying that they have forgotten their Jewish values.

"In 1997, Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu] said that 'the left has forgotten what it means to be Jewish.' Do you know what the left did in response? Forgot [how] to be Jews..People feel that I am closer to Jewish values. We are Jews. We live in a Jewish state. I also think that one of the problems of Labor Party members is that [they] distanced themselves from it," Gabbay said.

Some, Gabbay said, say that the Israeli left if "only liberal," saying that this view is wrong. "We are Jews and we need to speak about our Jewish values. It all began with our Torah, our halakha [Jewish religious laws], and our shared heritage. It all begins there," he said.

About a month ago, Gabbay said he will not sit with Arab-majority Joint List in Knesset, even in order to form a coalition. "I won't sit with the Joint Arab list in the same government. Period. Just so it's clear." He continued, "you see their behavior. I don't see a single thing that brings us together or connects us or that would allow us to sit together in the same government." 

A few days after these comments, Gabbay was asked in an interview on Channel 2 whether the settlements of Ofra and Eli will be evacuated. Gabbay said, "If we reach a peace agreement, it's possible to find solutions that don't require evacuation." 


Sunday, November 12, 2017

What Roth Wrought (UPDATED -Twice)

To follow up on the Hotovely-Princeton Hillel mishap:

I tried to zero in on how the decision to cancel the Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel's talk seemed so, well, klutzy.

Now we read that Daniel Kurtzer had been in communication with Rabbi Julie Roth

The decision to postpone/cancel the visit was wrong, plain and simple. Rabbi Julie Roth, the Center for Jewish Life’s director, regretted that decision almost immediately, as she told me the morning after the fact.

So, some 10 hours or so prior to her talk sponsored ultimately by Chabad taking place, there was a window in which Roth could have reversed herself and still had Ms. Hotovely as a Hillel guest.  Although Kurtzer notes that

By that time, however, the Israeli Consulate had already reached out to the university Chabad

That really means nothing.  If Roth had called up both Hotovely and the Chabad Rabbi and said, "a mistake was made and I'm setting it aright and the Depury Minister will indeed speak under Hillel auspices", I am fairly sure Chabad would have stood down and Ms.Hotovely would have been mollified and accepted the renewed invitation.

But Roth did not do that.


Was she afraid of those progressives?

Did she freeze?

Did she lose Ms. Hotovely's phone number? 

Did she want to make a statement of her own political ideological outlook, which seems to be pro-New Israel Fund?  Did her more (?) radical husband interfere?

Let's not lose sight of the original opening salvo against Hotovely which was not that Roth had not followed a vetting standard procedure.  It was that the Alliance of Jewish Progressives asserted

“We firmly reject the CJL’s choice to host a racist speaker like Hotovely..."

Right at the start Roth should have shut them down and put them in their place. Racist?  Really now Roth.

I repeat from my earlier blog post: she couldn't call up on Sunday evening the committee members for a vote of confirmation?

Hillel, it was reported, was to have received some $7 million dollars from the Israel government through the Mosaic program.  Is she really so obtuse to act in such a manner to a major funder?

What has Roth wrought?


Ari Fuld interviews Eric Fingerhut who tried to explaining his own official explanation, and wanted to concentrate on the apology part.

"She [Roth] made the wrong decision"
"She should have acted differently".


I now see (in Hebrew) that Kalman Liebskind asked Hillel if they'll open a channel of communication with Tzipi and meet with her.

They replied, maybe but not now.  And he asked, why not now? And they had no response.


Judea and Samaria Before The Ethnic-Cleansing

In June 1967, the IDF entered and assumed the administration of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, districts of the former Palestine Mandate.

They were empty of Jews. Not one. And these areas were the heart of the Jewish national homeland. Jews had been living there.

During 1948-1967, no Jews lived in those areas because they were removed by 1948 or later, they were not permitted to reside in the area.  And they were removed in an organized ethnic-cleansing campaign between 1920-1948 led by the Mufti with notable pogroms in 1920, 1921, 1929 and then the 1936-39 period.

The area itself had been occupied by Jordan (Judea and Samaria) and by Egypt (Gaza) during the 1948 war launched by Arabs against the nascent Israel.  Most of those areas were scheduled to become part of an Arab start according to the recommendation of the United Nations in its November 29, 1947 Partition Plan.

While that plan was accepted by the Jewish community living in Mandate Palestine, the Arabs rejected it and began violent murderous hostilities the next day.

Those occupations by Jordan and Egypt were illegal and never recognized internationally.  While Gaza was under a regime of military occupation, Jordan annexed the area and attached it to its kingdom of the east of the Jordan River. It awarded the territory the name 'West Bank' in April 1950.

But to return to the Jews of those areas.  I have blogged previously about Gaza's Jews. And of Judea and Samaria and those are just two of many.

I have just read Dothan Goren's "U'Va L'Tzion Goel" which details land purchases by Jews  at the end of the Ottoman period of occupation of the Land of Israel specifically motivated by religious goals in and around Jerusalem.  Last week I referenced it to detail land purchases north of Jerusalem in close proximity to the Tomb of Samuel the Prophet.

Now I will list the most outstanding instances of land purchases up until 1914  or so in and around Jerusalem.

And let's recall: the Jewish people are the only people that were required to buy back their stolen and occupied homeland.

Area of Western Wall

Starting in the early 19th century, building and courtyards were purchased adjacent to the Kotel alleyway in the Mugrhabi Quarter by Moses Montiefiore 1828, Shmarya Luria 1833-35, the Sefardi Community Trust 1845. During his 1888 visit, Edmond Rothschild attempted to arrange for a transfer of ownership of the whole quarter as it was Waqf category. In 1908, the Odessa Geula Society tried as did David Tzvi Schneerson in 1911. In 1915 even Pasha Djemal suggested the houses near the alleyway be bought up by the Jews. Immediately after the city's conquest by England, attempts were renewed.

Outside the Old City

In 1878, the Garden of the Kings Tombs or Kalba Shua was purchased by Amalia Bertrand but in 1885, her executor PĂ©reire, transferred ownership to the French Consulate.

The first pf several purchases adjacent to the the Cave of Shimon HaTzaddik took place in 1876.  Just west of there was founded the Nahalat Shimon neighborhood that by 1916 included 93 families and 253 persons.

Areas at the Sanhedria Tombs were purchased in 1914.

All throughout the 19th century, parts of the Mount of Olives cemetery were purchased from nearby villagers to enlarge the ancient plots to accommodate the growing Jewish population needs.

In 1840, the Meyuchas family bought land in Kfar Shiloach (Silwan) and after the arrival of Jews from Yemen in the 1880s, additional plots were obtained. It as known as the Yemenite Village and at its height, the community was home to 144 Yemenite Jewish families.

I've already blogged on the purchases near the Tomb of Samuel the Prophet north of Jerusalem.

Some pictures of that era around Jerusalem showing how sparse was the domiciles in the area:

Emek Refaim -

North of the Old City and in the upper left-hand side, the Batei Hungarim is marked 11-

Wadi Joz and environs -

In the south, the right to renovate Rachel's Tomb had to be bought.

Directly opposite the Tomb, two plots were bought by the Kalischer Family and by Nathan Strauss (of Macy's fame):

In 1875, Mordechai Yaffe bought a plot of land across from Rachel's Tomb as an envoy of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer, who believed that reclaiming the land of Eretz Yisrael was the first step toward the redemption of the Jewish people...[but] the Ottomans declared it abandoned property, and the Muslim Waqf (religious trust) illegally occupied it in 1924...Nearby, the Jewish philanthropist Nathan Strauss purchased another piece of property [in 1912], which was transferred to the Jewish National Fund upon his death in 1931.

Even land in Anata was purchased through an intermediary in 1914. And earlier, Qalandia:


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Greater Shiloh

Maybe one day, the Shiloh Bloc of 11 communities and currently over 8,000 Jewish residents will expand and increase and will also be termed Greater Shiloh:

In the meantime, it's a church in Alabama.


Friday, November 10, 2017

A Post-Balfour Post

The Balfour Declaration has come, and gone.

Now for a short post-Balfour observation.

The Declaration and Balfour personally were attacked, some starting about three years ago.  Haaretz was in the thick of it.  How dare the liberators of the Ottoman Empire do what they wished to do?  

No matter that the Arabs were engaged in the very same diplomacy maneuvering as the Zionists, McMahon-Hussein and Lawrence and all that.

You have this, too:

Lawrence guided the prince into the terrible error of signing a document that appeared to provide Arab support for a Jewish Palestine. Lawrence, an artisan of half-truths, likely provided purposefully misleading translations in the meetings held between Faisal and Chaim Weizmann, head of the British Zionist Federation and later first president of Israel, glossing over the (very substantial) differences between the two sides and staging a reconciliation between Arab and Zionist interests. At best, it was a clumsy attempt to save British honor from the awful embarrassment of its conflicting wartime commitments in the Hussein–McMahon Correspondence, which included Palestine in the Arab kingdom [really? the British Government have held that the intent of the McMahon Correspondence was not to promise Palestine to Hussein], and the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which promised a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

I'll make it short.

Were the Zionists all that bad in trying to regain the historic homeland?

Consider this:

anti-imperialists, such as Mohandas Gandhi and WEB Du Bois, vigorously supported the war aims of their white overlords, hoping to secure dignity for their compatriots in the aftermath.

Zionism equals Gandhi.

Consider that.

Routing Rosner: Peace Is Not A Dirty Word

While the headline asks

How Did ‘Peace’ Become a Dirty Word in Israel?

in the body of his text we have this

How has “peace” become such a politically charged term? Jews include the word “shalom,” or peace, in their daily prayers; they use the word as a greeting regularly. But in the political arena, many Israelis are no longer willing to say that peace is their goal for their country, because they fear that saying so will make them sound fainthearted or deluded or — God forbid! — like leftists.
Israelis have developed two strategies as they shun the politically poisonous word “peace.” The right generally avoids the subject entirely. Since it believes peace is not a realistic goal, there is nothing to talk about. 
and in addition, there's this:

by “peace” in this context, I mean what Mr. Rabin wanted: a concrete and stable peace with their Palestinian neighbors. 
But we know what Rabin wanted, and what he didn't want, and it wasn't what the Israeli Left is promoting.

A month before he was assassinated, he spoke in the Knesset in a debate on an Interim Agreement arrangement as part of the Oslo Process and said:

In the framework of the permanent solution, we aspire to reach, first and foremost, the State of Israel as a Jewish state, at least 80% of whose citizens will be, and are, Jews.

At the same time, we also promise that the non-Jewish citizens of Israel -- Muslim, Christian, Druze and others -- will enjoy full personal, religious and civil rights, like those of any Israeli citizen. Judaism and racism are diametrically opposed.

We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority. The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.

And these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:

A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev -- as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.

B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.

C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the "Green Line," prior to the Six Day War.

D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.

The Left when never accept this today (and it didn't then). They even make up stories based on hearsay that Rabin really didn't believe in what he said.

What is true is that the term "peace" has been sullied, denuded of what it should mean.

It should mean a Jewish state. Security. Freedom of worship at Jewish holy sites. It should mean reconstituting the Jewish national home. It should mean a loyal citizenry who deserve and require full civil liberties, rights and freedoms, without discrimination.

And for that we have the Left, both pre-state and post-Oslo to 'thank' for that peace is viewed with trepidation and disbelief.



Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Amman When?

As far as I knew, the capital of Jordan, Amman, is built on the ruins of Rabbath-Ammon.

But now I read:

In the final decades of Ottoman rule, several waves of refugees from the Russian Empire's North Caucasus region immigrated to Transjordan, where they founded Amman and other agricultural villages.

That's from  Vladimir Hamed-Troyansky's article on Circassian Refugees and the Making of Amman 1878-1914.

The Jordanians are really late-comers.


Hillel At Princeton: On the Roof?

Most of us have heard, or should have, of the adventures of Hillel the Elder on a roof on a snowy night.  As recorded in Yoma 35b

Hillel the Elder every day he used to work and earn one tropaic, half of which he would give to the watchman at the house of study; the other half he used on food for himself and the members of his household. One day he was unable to earn anything, so the watchman at the house of study did not let him in. He then climbed [to the roof] and hung on, sitting over the opening of the skylight, so that he could hear the words of the living God from the mouths of Shemaiah and Avtalion. It is said that the was a Sabbath eve in the winter solstice, and snow came down on him from heaven. When the dawn rose, Shemaiah said to Avtalion, "Brother Avtalion, every day this house is bright with light, but today it is dark. Is the day cloudy?" When they looked up, they saw the figure of a man in the skylight. They climbed to the roof and found Hillel, covered with three cubits of snow. They removed the snow from him, bathed and anointed him, and, as they seated him in front of an open fire, they said, "This man deserves to have the Sabbath profaned on his behalf."...

Hillel of Princeton seems to be stuck up on a roof (cross-posted at TOI).

The bare facts about the Hotovely-Princeton Hillel Affair are known.

Protests from a dovish Jewish campus group, the Alliance of Jewish Progressives (AJP) caused the Hillel of Princeton University to cancel a scheduled talk by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely that was to take place this past Monday evening at the last moment. Chabad picked up the talk.  By the way, they did this maneuver in a parallel fashion recently.  And while she stiff-armed J Street's hosting of an exhibition of Breaking the Silence, she blmaed her refusal on "timing":

The CJL did not oppose J Street bringing the organization to speak on campus, wrote Rabbi Roth in an email to the Prince.
“However, given the sensitivities related to the timing of the event overlapping with Yom HaZakiron, the day commemorating Israeli soldiers killed in battle and in terrorist attacks, and Yom Ha’atzmaut, the celebration of Israel’s Independence Day, we did not want to host the program in the building,” she wrote.

The protest went public in a letter published in the campus daily. Afterwards, AJP claimed they were only upset that proper procedures for inviting guests to events of the Center for Jewish Living were not followed through on,but were quite forthright that

We firmly reject the CJL’s choice to host a racist speaker like Hotovely while it continues to quiet progressive voices.

I see now that Rachel Frommer has a great quote:

Mikaela Gerwin, co-president of AJP who attended Hotovely's talk, maintained that the deputy foreign minister has said "hateful things" about Palestinians and non-Orthodox Jewish religious sects, but that her group may have misstepped in claiming racism.
"That’s a complicated word," she said.
Gerwin added that nothing Hotovely said at Princeton struck her as racist, but that it was a generally uninteresting speech that lacked nuance.

And Frommer adds:

the AJP is being disingenuous in now framing its complaint as being with Hillel's event policies, the student said.

"AJP didn’t once mention the IAC until after the event took place. The name of the protest was ‘stop hate,'" said the student. "This wasn't about having a debate about ideas, and it wasn't about process. This was about stopping Hotovely coming at all."

While Deputy Minister Michael Oren demanded a boycott, I tweeted him

No, more should come until the Hillel staff there is removed

At the campus newspaper article I commented that its content is what someone has called an "Reality inversion alert" -

You write:
“Hotovely’s alarming vision for the future of the region is coupled with a complete rejection of Palestinian history and connection to key sites such as the Haram al-Sharif [Temple Mount]."But it is the Muslims, from the Mufti to Arafat to Abbas who reject any Jewish claim to or identity with Mount Moriah, the First and Second Temples, the attempt to build a Third Temple in 363 CE or anything Jewish about Jerusalem. Have the signees ever studied anything about Jewish history...Do they possess knowledge or slogans? Outlook or out-of-touch? This is all so embarrassing for we Jews who, of whatever political stripe, at least actually know something of what we speak and write.

I added that

throwing around a charge of "racism" really gets one no where when, on the record, the most racist element in the conflict are Arabs who wish to deny a ethnic national community any political, civil and human rights the international community recognized and guaranteed consistently since 1917

A late-burner was the AJP post-event claim that they were misunderstood:

MK Hotovely clearly misunderstands the intricacies of the Princeton Jewish community and the aims of our protest. Our Hillel’s response to the concerns of progressive Jewish students does not constitute a “liberal dictatorship.” Rather, the events of the past two days show the CJL’s commitment to more equitable standards of inclusivity and diversity.

But they weren't. They clearly sought to shut her down,

“We firmly reject the CJL’s choice to host a racist speaker like Hotovely..."

and succeeded, while claiming all they wanted was for the rules for inviting speakers, the "Israel policy", by applied equally. P.S. Their activity at Chabad was titled:

Stand Against Chabad-Sponsored Hatred

and characterized as one that "deserves intense pushback".

Be that as it may, what raised eyebrows even more was AJP's claim that a Jewish Agency shaliah was somehow involved. They published

On the evening of Nov. 5, in an email to students and members of the community who planned to attend an address by Tzipi Hotovely, a member of Israel’s Knesset, Rabbi Julie Roth, the executive director of the Center for Jewish Life, and the CJL Israel Fellow, Lior Sharir, announced they would be postponing Hotovely’s visit to the CJL pending further review by the Israel Advisory Committee.

Yigal Palmor left a comment at my Facebook post, writing:

We've checked and I can confirm that any suggestion that the Shaliach was behind the cancellation is *untrue*. Hillel have published an apology and it clearly shows this had nothing to do with the shaliach...the Shaliach had nothing to do with the cancellation.

I should trust him as he is, after all, Director of Public Affairs and Communications at The Jewish Agency for Israel. I did ask him if he would call out AJP as liars. I am still waiting.

What is even more intriguing than an Israeli-funded shaliah quashing a government minister's right to free speech is the role of Rabbi Roth. Could she not have simply picked up a phone and within 5-10 minutes received a confirmation that Ms. Hotovely's right to appear at Hillel is approved? Did she really think Hotovely is a racist and her arrival should be stymied by rules?

UPDATE: from Daniel Kurtzer -

The decision to postpone/cancel the visit was wrong, plain and simple. Rabbi Julie Roth, the Center for Jewish Life’s director, regretted that decision almost immediately, as she told me on Monday morning after the fact.

Rabbi Roth is active in the New Israel Fund. She's #163 on this petition and #1868 on this one. She has full free speech. Even progressive free speech. And she has unique insight into other radical groups as her husband is Rabbi Justus Baird who has written:

The Torah was received in the diaspora. Most of Jewish history was lived out in the diaspora. Diaspora Judaism deserves a foundational, equal place in the self-identity of the Jewish people, right alongside the Jewish state.

That is, I should stress, a legitimate opinion. It is also radical and skewed, but that's my opinion. The Diaspora, I think, does not deserve, in Judaism, equality to Israel.

He's with Rabbis Without Borders. They, at least, hold to the principle that a Rabbi should "strive[s] to be aware of the partial truth in a view with which we deeply disagree". He is on the Rabbis & Cantors Board of J Street. He identifies with T'ruah and he and his wife have donated a sum of between $1,00-$2,499 to the group.

T'ruah promotes positions - and I don't know if one would term them mainstream, radical, progressive or extreme - that include that they

advocate for an end to the military occupation of the West Bank and an end to the continued expansion of the settlements that extend this occupation, that infringe on the human rights of Palestinians, and that compromise the safety and security of Israelis...We urge all members of the North American Jewish community to engage in debate and disagreement for the sake of greater truth, justice, and peace.

That sounds to me a little like...Tzipi Hotovely and her predicament which someone termed an example of moral panic by left-wingers.

And at T'ruah they

are concerned about efforts to shut out a growing segment of our community based on their support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Despite our disagreements with this movement, we believe that the Jewish community is strengthened by vigorous debate on issues that are vital to the well-being of Israel and the worldwide Jewish community.

That sounds very much like support for AJP.

He was a supporter of Linda Sarsour as published at TOI:

“Anyone who has worked closely with Linda knows that she has a deep love for and appreciation for Judaism and Jews,” he said. “Linda and I don’t agree on everything about Israel, Palestine or about other issues, and that is OK with me. I fully support CUNY giving a pubic platform to Linda Sarsour, and I think its graduates have a lot to learn from her voice.”

Hillel has apologized. But I still cannot figure out Rabbi Roth's role in all this. Was she too busy? 

Why didn't she convene the committee to obtain approval prior to the protest? Why couldn't she do that in a quick round of phone calls after the AJP protest? She is signed on the 'apology' that notes Hotovely's appearance cancellation was done

because it had not been reviewed by the Center for Jewish Life’s Israel Advisory Committee, which is designed to review and facilitate a broad range of Israel programming throughout the year...This was not a good enough reason to postpone the event... we should have engaged a broader range of students in this program from the beginning...

I am sorry but that sounds very weak and less plausible each time I read it. Was there any doubt in Roth's mind that Hotovely should be a welcome guest? Or does she think providing her a platform, perhaps, should be debated? Did she really think she was a racist and that AJP had the power over her to stop the event? Does she agree with her husband that the Diaspora is at a level of offsetting Israel?

Why hasn't AJP been called out on suggesting Sharir was not involved? Did they lie or what? Why haven't we heard of an investigation or a review of what occurred? Will Rabbi Roth be censured or found innocent of any possible wrongdoing?

Until Next Year in Jerusalem?

(with thanks to AB)


Now this about Rabbi Roth and Nonie Darwish and this quote

Grinberg told the Tory that he felt “a lot of pressure from Rabbi Roth to cancel.”

She has a record

P.S.  And yes, there are others who argue in favor of shutting down Hotovely.


I am mentioned by Caroline Glick and in the Hebrew version, too.