Personal thoughts on current events, cultural events, Israel, Judaism, Jewish/Israel innovations and life from a Jewish perspective - read into that what you may.

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

A Must Read Refresher on Middle East History

Letter from Jerusalem: Palestine is Israel, the Jewish
National Home
By Arlynn Nellhaus

Borders of the Jewish National Home in Palestine as
determined by the San Remo Conference of 1920 (from website).
A recent letter writer to the New York Times professed
her great support for Israel, but said there never
could be peace until the Jewish state gave up "the
occupied territories."
Even Secretary of State Colin Powell (and some times I
do wonder about him), in Louisville used the term
"occupied territory."
Every time Palestinian spokespersons open their
mouths, there is reference to "the occupied
territories." Of course, they know that the word
"occupied" resonates with the implication of foul
But what "occupied territories?"
There never has been an independent country called
"Palestine." Nor is there such thing as "Palestinian
land" – another fictional location from which Israel
is supposed to leave. What needs to be talked about is
"disputed territory."
In fact, Palestine is the name for the British Mandate
intended for a Jewish National Home. The original
Palestinians were all Jews. After 1948, they began
calling themselves Israelis. Therefore, to be logical,
Palestine is Israel. The PLO, formed only in the
1960's after the failure of Pan-Arab nationalist
attempts to eliminate Palestinian Jews living in
Israel and steal Israeli land, instead stole the name
"Palestinian" from its rightful owner -- Israel.
The only people who consistently have claimed and
lived in the land of Israel for 3,500 years are the
Philip Hitti, who was Middle Eastern studies professor
at Princeton, and who never had a nice word to say
about Israel, made that clear in his book on the
history of the Middle East.
His book tells of Semitic tribes always on the move.
The only exception, the only one that maintained a
permanent base, was the Jews. Even the Koran, which
has violent words about Jews, Christians and others
who don't accept the "true faith," states in Suras 5,
10, and 17 that Allah gave the Holy Land to the
Conquerors came and went, including an Arab invasion
in the 7th century. The Ottoman Turks ruled from the
16th to the 20th century, followed by the British
holding a League of Nations Mandate over the land.
Under the British, Southern Syria was called
"Palestine" and included what became Jordan.
After the British lopped off Palestine east of the
Jordan to reward their allies, the Hashemites of
Arabia with a country of their own after they had been
driven out of Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the British Peel
Commission recommended dividing what was left between
Jews and Arabs.
The Jews said yes, the Arabs said no.
When the United Nations voted to do so in 1947, the
Jews again said yes, the Arabs responded with war.
They lost.
The territory, which belonged to no nation, could have
been a Palestinian state 54 years ago. It then was
occupied by Jordan and Egypt. There was no talk of
"Palestinian land."
If you reject a compromise, go to war to get the whole
loaf and lose everything, are you still entitled to
the original offer 54 years later?
Germany went to war a couple of times in the 20th
century, lost both, times and ended up smaller each
In the rest of the world, there is punishment for
aggression. In the Middle East -- if you are an Arab
-- there only is reward.
And in a twist of history, all the land that could
have been an independent Arab state fell to Israel
after the Arab nations tried again in 1967 to destroy
Israel was fighting for its life, not to become the
ruler of Arabs, but that is how it turned out.
The UN Security Council came up with its much vaunted
Resolution 242.
Eugene Rostow, US Undersecretary of State between 1966
and 1969, played a leading role in producing 242. He
says that 242 allows Israel to administer the
territories it took over until "a just and lasting
peace in the Middle East" is achieved.
But today, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, on
which Yasser Arafat signed on the dotted line that he
recognized Israel's right to exist and renounced
terror, Israel gave large amounts of this disputed
territory to the Palestinians.
Today, upwards of 95 percent live under the
Palestinian Authority, a state-in-the-making with its
own post office, police, airport, courts and
government, corrupt as it is – but it's theirs.
So if they are governed by the Palestinian Authority,
what "occupation?" It's a great word to use, for it
can make people think things that don't really exist.
Palestinians complain of having a hard time getting
from one Palestinian Authority area to another, becase
they have to cross Israel.
If they would stop killing Israelis, they wouldn't
have such difficulties. They could try it and see. But
they will not give Israel the promise of one week
without suicide bombings.
It pays to remember, according to a Palestinian
survey, that at least 72 percent of Palestinians
support suicide bombings.
Would you let them into your house?
Just how would you know you are letting in the 28
percent who don't support suicide bombings?
How would you know that the 28 percent that might not
feel like blowing themselves up don't support
shootings or stabbings, instead?
As for "Palestinian-owned land," to believe that every
Palestinian – many of whom are probably descended from
Arab, Syrian, Egyptian, Lebanese or Jordanian
immigrants -- holds title to land, is simply
Fifty-four years ago, most of the land was owned by a
few big Arab landowners. The rest of the Arab
population worked other people's land. They were
landless. It wasn't fair, but that was their system.
Yet the greater part of all the land belonged to the
state – whatever it was at the time: Turkey, Britain,
Jordan or Egypt. And now, except for what has been
relinquished to the Palestinian Authority, Israel is
the state.
And Israel has a valid historic claim to all the land.

Meanwhile, today's Palestinians claim all the land.
The same land. The Land of Israel. (If you think they
only want Gaza and the historic areas of Judea and
Samaria, you haven't been paying attention.)
Even with achievement of the dream of "a just and
lasting peace," UN Security Council 242 does not
require Israel to withdraw from all the territory. It
may keep what it deems it needs for security. And that
is to be negotiated peacefully.
So please, forget the terms "occupied territories" and
"Palestinian lands." Use the correct term, "disputed
territories or lands," and then we can all agree. This
is a territorial dispute.
As for the "settlements" (when did the "settlement" of
Boston become a village, a town, or a city?), under
the Turks and British, could the Jews have put up a
lean-to on land that didn't belong to them -- or that
wasn't state land?
Think about it. The Jewish Agency purchased the land
of Israel, with hard currency, from its legal
owners.Every square dunam.
For example, the land that Kfar Darom is on in Gaza
was purchased under the British, although Jews have
lived in Gaza since the time of the Macabees, whose
miracle we celebrate at Hannukah, more than 100 years
before the Common Era.
And here's a surprise, Palestinians are now living on
Jewish-owned land. The Dehaishe refugee camp is
located on 405 dunams purchased by the Jewish Agency
in 1943.
The British Mandate fully recognized the right of the
Jewish people to settle in the entire Mandate
territory east of the Jordan. That's right, the entire
territory east of the Jordan River is legally
available to Jewish families. It is not a "restricted"
Rostow points out that that right is buttressed by
Article 80 of the UN Charter which says that nothing
shall be construed to alter in any manner the rights
of people or terms of existing international
And the Mandate given to Britain by the League of
Nations was such an "international instrument."
Are the "settlements" an obstacle to peace?
Bin Laden's appeal to an Islamic uprising is an
obstacle to peace.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad's suicide bombings are
obstacle to peace.
Arafat's racist incitement is an obstacle to peace.
Building more homes for peaceful families to live in
peacefully alongside their neighbors is not an
obstacle to peace -- it is an incentive for peace.

Monday, December 03, 2001

A Little Bit of Chizuk for a Horrible Time Period

After this weekends horrific deaths in Yerushalayim
and Haifa I feel utter sadness. Yet it is so hard to
feel sad and to shed a tear because I'm so used to
going on with life after all the other deaths that
take place on an almost daily occurence. That is what
upsets me the most about Arafat and his gang of
terrorists, not only have they taken away my the
bright neshomot of fellow Jews, but they have robbed
me of my natural emotional reaction of sadness,
because they made deaths of Jews a part of my daily

It is such a paradox, to go on with our normal daily
lives, yet also be able to feel our emotions of
sadness. This is not such an easy combonation.
Chazal were smart in allowing us to maintain this
combonation when facing the death of a loved one - a 7
day mourning period before continuing with daily life.
Ultimately, all of us, all of Am Yisrael, need some
type of similar mechanism to allow us to feel our
sadness after each and every senseless death of our
brothers and sisters in Am Yisrael. Instead we scream
and shout one night and then return to work the next
morning, almost as if nothing happened the day before.

There is so much for us to celebrate and be happy
about - our own lives, our family, our personal
celebrations etc. Yet, I believe that we still have
the need to express our deep sadness in order to then
properly feel our happiness, and this is hard to do

A number of weeks ago, I wrote an email expressing my
feelings of anger and despair about today's overall
situation in the world, especially with the hypocrisy
of the world's leaders in dealing with Israel. I
wrote about my personal frustration in not being able
to do enough to make a difference. In repsonse to
that email, I received a very warm response with a
message of chizuk that I want to share with all of you
today, because I feel that it can also be applied to
our situation of sadness and helplessness today. This
little story of chizuk is right below.

In the meantime, may we all see peace, quiet and
tranquility within Israel's borders soon. And may we
then have the time to sit down and look back at the
events of this horrible uprising so that we can think
back and mourn all the precious souls of loved ones
and fellow Jews whom we have lost. I look forward to
such a time to be able to feel my sadness once again.


> > >
> > >A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when
> > suddenly his room filled with light, and God
> > appeared.
> > >The Lord told the man he had work for him to do,
> > and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin.
> > >
> > >The Lord explained that the man was to push
> > the rock with all his might. So, this
> > >the man did, day after day. For many years he
> > toiled from sun up to sun down; his shoulders set
> > squarely
> > >against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving
> > rock, pushing with all of his might. Each night
> > man
> > >returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling
> > that his whole day had been spent in vain.
> > >Since the man was showing discouragement, the
> > Adversary (Satan) decided to enter the picture
> > >by placing thoughts into the weary mind: "you
> > been pushing against that rock for a long time,
> > >and it hasn't moved." Thus, giving the man the
> > impression that the task was impossible and the
> > >he was a failure.These thoughts discouraged and
> > disheartened the man.
> > >
> > >"Why kill myself over this?" he thought. "I'll
> > put in my time, giving just the minimum
> > >effort; and that will be good enough."
> > And that is what he planned to do, until one day
> > >he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take
> > his troubled thoughts to the Lord.
> > >"Lord," he said, "I have labored long and hard in
> > your service, putting all my strength to do that
> > >which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I
> > have not even budged that rock by half a
> > >What is wrong? Why am I failing?"
> > >The Lord responded compassionately, "My friend,
> > when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I
> > >told you that your task was to push against the
> > rock with all of your strength, which you have
> > >Never once did I mention to you that I expected
> > to move it. Your task was to push. And now you
> > to Me
> > >with your strength spent, thinking that you have
> > failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself.
> > Your
> > >arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewy and
> > brown, your hands are callused from constant
> > >pressure, your legs have become massive and hard.
> > Through opposition you have grown much, and your
> > abilities
> > >now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you
> > haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be
> > >obedient and to push and to exercise your faith
> > trust in My wisdom.
> > >This you have done. Now I, My friend, will now
> > the rock."
> > >At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend
> > use our own intellect to decipher what He wants,
> > >when actually what God wants is just a simple
> > obedience and faith in Him. By all means, exercise
> > the faith
> > >that moves mountains, but know that it is still
> > who moves mountains.
> > >
> > >When everything seems to go wrong ... just
> > P.U.S.H.!
> > >When the job gets you down ... just P.U.S.H.!
> > >When people don't react the way you think they
> > should... just P.U.S.H.!
> > >When your money looks "gone" and the bills are
> > due...just P.U.S.H!
> > >When people just don't understand you ... just
> > P.U.S.H.!
> > >
> > >P= Pray
> > >U= Until
> > >S= Something
> > >H= Happens
> > >
> > >Remember!! Judaism is not an all-or-nothing
> > religion. So try to do the best you can.........,
> > >
> > >Rabbi Benny Zippel