A Connecticut Yankee in the Wrong Court

Connecticut is a small American state, one of the six so-named New England states because they were settled during the period of British colonial rule prior to the American Revolution. It has a rich culture and a highly esteemed university, YALE, in the city of New Haven.

Yale University was founded in 1701, seventy-five years before American independence in 1776.

Its earliest founders were Puritans, a religious group of Christian bible scholars who cherished the laws of freedom and democracy for all its inhabitants as they read in the Hebrew scriptures, then known as the Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible.

The Hebrew language, along with Greek and Latin, were considered the world’s three great classical languages and accordingly Hebrew was given first place in the Yale University’s long history.

The motto of Yale, established by its several Hebrew-speaking Christian scholars was a two-word sentence taken from the Hebrew Bible in its reference to the breastplate worn by Aaron, the High Priest of ancient Israel in the Jerusalem Holy Temple and the brother of Moses the law-giver.

“URIM V’THUMMIM” was translated from the Hebrew into Latin as “Light and Truth”. Those were the values which Yale University, since 1701, has expected from all its students and future scholars.

From Yale’s very beginning, all freshman students were required to study Biblical Hebrew language and grammar in order to be able to read the Holy Bible in its original tongue.

Like its later neighbor, Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Yale required students at commencement or graduation ceremonies to make brief remarks in Hebrew.

The original Urim and Thummim disappeared with the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BCE (Before the Common Era), but thousands of years later its words still fly proudly inscribed on the banners of Connecticut’s famed Yale University.

I do not personally know anyone who lives in that charming American state but there is one man named Jonah who, over the years, has responded negatively to many of my published articles dealing with life and society in our State of Israel. He despises our alleged mis-treatment of the cultural heritage of our 20 % non-Jewish population.

Little angers me more than that mis-led tragic assumption. I have written responses to his comments informing him of all the rights from which all our citizens benefit.

There is absolutely no distinction for national health insurance between Jews and non-Jews. There are no entry quotas to all of our universities between Jewish and non-Jewish students as once were in the United States.. There are no restrictions on appointing Arab and Druze judges to our courts and Justices to our Supreme Court. The Druze minority, the most beloved, honored and respected of our minorities, have risen to the highest places of honor in our military forces, in our legal system, and in our cultural artistic contributions.

I have often made my own very personal disagreements with the mis-guided (in my opinion) policies of the present government under the regime of Binyamin Netanyahu. I had voted for him in two previous elections but never again. In his quest for a golden legacy he has shamed us all.

First, I objected to the Nation-State Bill which he pushed into passage. By declaring Israel as the State of the JEWISH people, he has turned our non-Jewish population of Muslims, Christians, Druze, Circassians and Bahaists, into what they believe is second-class citizens.

It would have been preferable to declare Israel as the Democratic State of All Citizens of Israel, in order to avoid the pain now caused by the new Nation-State law.

I opposed the change, after more than 100 years, of removing Arabic from our three official legal languages. This was a slap in the face to the millions of our Arabic-speaking citizens and it should be restored to its rightful place since 1917.

Second, I have made my position on annexation quite clear. I am opposed to taking land which had been assured to the Palestinians as the basis of their future Palestinian State. Agreeable adjustments can be made guaranteeing Israel of the rights to its ancient four-thousand year old sacred places, Shiloh and Bet-El.

I am fortunately not alone in my opposition to many of the details in the Trump-Netanyahu proposed Deal of the Century which the Palestinians and others term the “Death” of the Century

The world is against us. Annexation of a certain portion of land in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) must, according to the terms in the Trump peace plan, be conducted with the Palestinian leadership in a face-to-face meeting to discuss the proposed plan with suggestions for corrections amenable to both sides. There have been no face-to-face meetings despite a Palestinian willingness to sit down with us and talk quietly together for an end to 100 years of hostility.

To refrain from doing so is a violation of International Law. Holland is a beautiful country. I have lived there and taught there. But I would not like to see us being hauled into the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

But now I return to the Connecticut Yankee, a master critic of Israeli politics. (Welcome to the crowd !)

Let us examine the source of his name. Jonah was one of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible. His Hebrew name (Yona) means a “dove”. But he is not like the dove of peace who informed Noah in the Ark that the waters of the great flood had receded and the earth was now dry to walk upon.

The Bible informs us that Jonah was the son of Amittai, whose Hebrew name means “my truth”.

Scholarly modern sources inform us that the son was much unlike his father. One had truth and one did not.

It is written that “a long-established expression among sailors and naval personnel, the name ‘ Jonah’ is used to refer to a sailor or a passenger whose presence on board brings bad luck and endangers the ship— a person who carries a jinx, one who will bring bad luck to any enterprise”. (Wikipedia)

The Jonah in Connecticut may be a Yankee but he is not in the Court of King Arthur.

Rather, on the contrary, he is in the Court of public opinion. And his odds of winning are not great. (Not with me in any case).

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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