It was decided that the ceremony, majestic in its simplicity, would be held in the modestly-sized hall of the museum on Rothschild Boulevard, once home to the first mayor of Tel Aviv, Meir Dizengoff. … On the eastern side of the hall, facing blue-white national flags…and a large portrait of the visionary of the Jewish state, Dr. Theodor Herzl…below a long table was positioned. … In front of the table, on a dais, 18 chairs were placed [for members of the State Council]. … At exactly 4pm, there was the sound of a wooden gavel pounding on the table. All those gathered joined in the singing of Hatikvah. … The audience listened most attentively to the words of the Prime Minister [David Ben-Gurion]: “Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.” (Dr. Mordechai Naor, The Friday That Changed Destiny, p.72-73)
“Hast du g’hert a me’isah? Did you ever hear of such a thing? exclaimed Menachem Begin. Lord Carrington in London has the chutzpah to tell me what I should be doing here in Jerusalem! I read it in a press report from the Whitehall this morning. The British foreign secretary and the Israeli Prime Minister had a chronic dislike of each other. “I shall issue a statement!” Begin stated
“Jerusalem was a Jewish capital long before London became the capital of the United Kingdom, and when King David moved the capital from Hebron to Jerusalem the civilized world had not yet heard of the city of London.
“By what right does the United Nations dare tell us where the capital of Israel should be? Who abrogated to them the right to tell us where the office of the Prime Minister of Israel should be? Did the founders of the proud American nation ask anybody’s permission before they declared Washington their capital? Did they?…If Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel what is? Peta Tikva? And did not the builders of Washington endow that city with a D C? So did the builders of Jerusalem endow the city with a D C- David’s Capital!” (Yehuda Avner, A Letter from Zion, 06/06/2003)
“We Jews did not choose Jerusalem unilaterally. History chose Jerusalem unilaterally. King David chose Jerusalem unilaterally 3,000 years ago. Which is why Jerusalem reunited and indivisible, is the eternal capital of the Jewish people. And so it shall remain forever and ever.” (Prime Minister Menachem Begin.)
And yet, in 1937 David Ben-Gurion, who at the time represented the Jewish Agency, even before the new state was declared, gave testimony in front of the Peel Committee regarding the Land of Israel, and Lord Peel began questioning Ben-Gurion with a simple question, “Where were you born?”
“Plonsk, Poland,” answered Ben-Gurion. After a period of silence Lord Peel stated, “Strange. All of the Arab leaders who have appeared before me were born in Palestine. Most of the Jewish leaders who have appeared before me were born in Eastern Europe… Mr. Ben-Gurion, the Arab people have a kushan entitling them to this land. [A kushan was an Ottoman land deed.] Do you have a document saying that Palestine belongs to you?”
And with that, Ben-Gurion asked Lord Peel if he were a sincere and believing Christian. Peel graciously replied that he was. It is said that Ben-Gurion then paused as he noticed the Bible on which he had sworn to give honest testimony, and with a slight smile he slowly reached for the Bible and holding it up for all in the chamber to see, and then triumphantly exclaimed, “Here is your kushan, here is your document. It is the world’s most respected book and I believe that you and other British Christians regard it with as much respect and reverence as do the Jewish people!”
It should be remembered it was Pope Paul II who, when he visited Israel, made the profound statement in Jerusalem that the Land of Israel maybe holy to three religions but the Land was given by G-d only to the Jewish people. Although the Pope was also familiar with the Holy Bible, it did take the Vatican almost 50 years to recognize Israel as the State of the Jews and come to terms with the reality. With the Jews returning to their Promised Land, promised by G-d no less, Christianized replacement theology went right out the window although I’m not so sure they’re happy about it.
So too with the move of the American embassy, which after an overwhelming congressional vote in 1995 and 23 years of obfuscation, was finally moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence. Could there have been a more perfect day? Yet it seems there are some that are none too happy with the statement the move made. So if you’re making people unhappy, and they’re going to be unhappy anyway, why not just add another controversy to keep them twirling like dervishes? No problem, as the Knesset recently passed the Nation-State Law, which only took 70 years after the Declaration of the State (better late than never), reaffirming that Israel is a Jewish state, which every Jew on the planet and every literate non-Jew on the planet knew was the case well before the vote in the Knesset. Yet the usual suspects seem awfully unhappy with the not-so-newish situations.
“Is there a unifying principle to this madness? Israel is suffering from a new phenomenon and … the opposition is irrelevant,” questions Rabbi Donniel “Two-State” Hartman, President of the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. I can’t say I’m sad to again dance on Hartman’s superficial realities.
And then there’s Bradley Burston, a liberal columnist for the left-wing newspaper of record ironically named Ha’aretz (The Land) who wrote, “Till now leftists believed the occupation was UNsustainable … it is accepting of illiberal (?) rule … that there’s this bizarre quasi-colonial situation(?) in the West Bank…” Aside from their displeasure and inane statements, I must give these two credit since they live in Israel, raised their families in Israel, served in Israel’s army, and have paid taxes to the Jewish State. They have skin in the game. Disgruntled, but not threatening to make aliyah to Canada.
But it’s really the Americanized, liberal, non-Orthodox Jews and various Jewish organizational leadership whose discomfort, pain and angst I’m enjoying the most. They live in a mental state called Hypocristan. All those sanctimonious, intolerant, pseudo pro-Israelites. Why are so many of our liberal Americanized members of the tribe having such difficulties? Could it be that they may not be as pro-Israel as they profess or want others to believe?
“Jerusalem has always been the most delicate issue in every discussion about peace,” said Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. “So we’re very concerned that the announcement will either delay or undermine the very, very important resuming of a serious peace process.” What rock has this fellow been hiding under for the last 25 years? Jacobs drones on, “The damage that will be done by this new Nation-State law to the legitimacy of the Zionist vision and to the (liberal) values of the State of Israel as a democratic and Jewish nation is enormous…” Deaf, dumb and blind? Willfully ignorant? Take your pick.
“Trump is causing severe damage to the prospects of Middle East peace, imperiling lives and degrading U.S. leadership,” said Debra DeLee, president of Americans for Peace Now. So its Trump’s fault that in 1995 the Congress of the United States overwhelmingly voted to move the American Embassy and while other presidents repeatedly lied when promising the move, Trump kept his promise and now he’s the bad guy. I think that could be called certifiably nuts!
Surprisingly, B’nai Brith International and the American Jewish Committee welcomed President Trump’s decision. Yet, Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, expressed his concern that there are several parts of the Nation-State Law that “American Jews would struggle with.” He fears that its focus on the Jewish aspects of Israel will alienate young American Jews who are “so social-justice conscious today.” (Chicago Jewish News, 07/20/18) Too Jewish for Jerry?
And with those pearls of leadership’s wisdom, it doesn’t take much to understand why Americanized non-Orthodox Diaspora Jews are irrelevant where Israel is concerned. Silverman’s honesty is commendable even if it exposes the sad reality of how pitifully low young Americanized Jews attachment to Israel and Judaism has sunk. You bet Jerry is concerned since in the years to come the Federation can kiss its youthful “social justice” donors “Hasta la vista, Baby!”
Let me remind my liberal, democracy-loving, Jewish state-supporting quislings of the Democratic party quislings of a time not long ago when the Obama administration stated it would take “a more balanced approach” in the Israel-Palestinian Arab peace process. The Obama-Clinton administration was insisting that for the sake of peace, Jews – not Israelis – would not be allowed to live in eastern Jerusalem and in the historical lands of Judea and Samaria.
“I want you to imagine the outrage … the gnashing of teeth that would ensue if … Muslims were told they could no longer live in certain parts of Israel – let alone their own country. … It’s the 1930s all over again. This time, it’s the enlightened liberal voices of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama who are telling Jews where they can live … and how far they must bend if they want to live at all. … There is simply no other accurate way to explain the machinations behind the latest demands on Israel… Why would they be so intent to create, by definition, a racist, anti-Jewish state that doesn’t even tolerate the mere presence of Jews?” (Joseph Farah, World Net Daily, 06/27/09)
In Israel’s national anthem “Hatikvah,” there is a most important phrase – to be an Am Chofshi b’Artzeinu – a free people in our own land. That was the calling.
From all the liberals of Jewish persuasion, we hear repeatedly that they want Israel to be democratic and Jewish. But the liberals are clearly shown to be the hypocrites. Israel is democratic. Fact: It voted for a right-leaning government led by Benjamin Netanyahu. Fact: Recent polls indicate that if elections were held today, the right-of-center coalition would get an even larger majority. Fact: The once-powerful and controlling left of center Labor Party is no longer relevant in Israel. That’s what 25 years of Oslo has done to the new electorate.
And in fact, Israel is becoming more Jewish every day – not Americanized, anything-goes Jewish, but a more traditional Jewish, where there is more observance of Jewish values – which are not necessarily Americanized liberal values. More Israeli Jews are studying Torah in Tel Aviv than ever before. More Israeli Jews are lighting Shabbat candles and observing Shabbat than ever before. Over 90 percent of all Israel Jews attend a Passover seder.
This summer, as I relaxed sitting on a bench on Ben Yehuda mall in Jerusalem, I saw something that made me smile and at the same time choked me up. A good-looking, long dark haired twenty-something girl, dressed in a very short skirt and loose fitting provocative blouse was about to walk into a store. As she was about to enter she casually kissed her fingers and turned to touch the mezuzah.
You want democratic and Jewish? That’s what Israel is becoming more each day. And Americanized liberal Jews should appreciate how their wishes are being realized in the amazing Land promised to our people long ago.
Shabbat Shalom / Shana Tova, 08/24/18
Jack “Yehoshua” Berger *
* Back issues archived at TimesofIsrael.com