It is the practice for us,Orthodox Jews, to count sefira at this time of the year between Pesach to Shavuot. Many communities also study Pirkai Avot - Ethics of the Fathers. It is a time of intense and deepening reflection as well sadness.
A couple of thousand years ago there was a plague among Rabbi Akiva's students and it was not until the 33rd day of the Omer that it stopped or that the students stopped dying. At this moment in time, Israel has been beset by a plague. It is time to put a stop to it.
I have reprinted a letter by Ted Belman below.
An OPEN LETTER TO AMERICAN JEWS
By Ted Belman
I tried to alert you two years ago to Obama’s Muslim Connection and to Obama’s Marxist Connection and together with other bloggers made some headway. In fact Jewish support for Obama dropped as low as 56%. As a result, Obama called on some key Jewish supporters to vouch for him. Alan Dershowitz, Robert Wexler (D-Fl), Martin Peretz and Ed Koch, among others, stepped up to the plate.
Not to be outdone, Rabbis for Obama was formed and it managed to get 400 Rabbis, mostly Reform, to sign a letter in support of Obama and decrying the “lies and smears”.
Jewish support for Obama rebounded. Alarmed, I warned, that Jews can’t vote for Obama and be pro-Israel at the same time. In great detail, I explained why. To no avail. 78% of you voted for Obama. Either you felt there was no conflict between the two or your support for party and abortion rights trumped your support for Israel. After all, how bad could it be?
Now we know. Real bad.
That is unless you ascribe to the views of J-Street and Israel Policy Forum who fully support Obama’s attack on Israel as being “pro-Israel” or unless you support Obama’s outreach to Muslims which distorts history and reality and seeks to replace Israel with Muslim countries in a special relationship with the US or unless you are fully in support of replacing “Global War on Terror” with “Overseas Contingency Operation”, removing “Islamic extremism” from National Security Strategy Document and treating terrorists as criminals, rather than enemy combatants.
A year ago I charged that Obama was upgrading the US relationship with the Muslim world thereby necessitating downgrading her relationship with Israel and set out a strong bill of indictment.
In order to understand what took place thereafter in terms of Obama’s moves against Israel you must understand the conflict from Israel’s perspective.
Pursuant to the San Remo Resolution of 1920 and the Palestine Mandate, both of which have legal efficacy today, Jews were given the right to settle in Judea and Samaria and to reconstitute their national home there. For one hundred years preceding the founding of Israel in 1948, Jews constituted a majority in Jerusalem and Jerusalem was a united city. In the 10 years preceding the declaration, the Arabs massacred many Jews in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and elsewhere and drove them out of Jerusalem and elsewhere.
Ed Koch recently wrote ,
“Ultimately (after Israel was attacked by six Arab countries on the heels of its declaration), a cease fire was arranged by the U.N. and for the next 19 years until 1967, Jordan occupied East Jerusalem, including the old city, which historically had been the capital of King David’s ancient kingdom. During the 19 years that Jordan occupied East Jerusalem, it expelled all of the Jews living in what was historically the Jewish Quarter, and literally destroyed every synagogue and the homes of the Jews. When Israel reunited all of Jerusalem (in 1967), Jews were, of course, allowed to live in any part of the city, and today, more than a quarter of a million Jews live in East Jerusalem. Numerous Arabs live there as well.”
Obama says otherwise. For him, history starts with the Jordanian illegal occupation and annexation . He supports the continuation of that occupation by Jordan’s successors the Arab Palestinians. Why should this be so? Why should the Arabs’ temporary possession of part of the city determine ownership. Why should their policy of making the land judenrein (empty of Jews) be allowed to stand. Worse still, why should the Obama endorse such a policy?
According to Daniel Pipes, Jerusalem or Zion is mentioned over 823 times in the Jewish Bible and in the Koran, not once..
“It is not the place to which they (Muslims) pray, is not once mentioned by name in prayers, and it is connected to no mundane events in Muhammad’s life. The city never served as capital of a sovereign Muslim state, and it never became a cultural or scholarly center. Little of political import by Muslims was initiated there.”
Even when Jordan annexed Jerusalem and occupied it for 19 years she didn’t make Jerusalem the capital of Jordan. Jerusalem has been the undivided capital of Israel for 43 years following its reunification and annexation in 1967.
Yet Obama wants to turn the clock back and force Israel to share Jerusalem. On what basis in law or history or equity can this be supported? It can’t.
In June of last year, under great pressure from Obama, PM Netanyahu made an historic speech at Bar Ilan University in which he accepted the concept of a two state solution for the first time but insisted that Palestine be demilitarized and that the Palestinians publically recognized Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish People. This they refused to do. What was preventing peace was not the occupation, not the settlements but the Arab rejection of the existence of Israel.
Obama ignored these basic conditions and instead, made settlement construction and the settlements themselves, the issue and accused Israel of being the intransigent one. He didn’t limit himself to referencing settlements only in Judea and Samaria but included all building in Jerusalem east of the armistice lines established in 1949.
By doing so he was flying in the face of an April 1990 Congressional resolution, with the Senate concurring, in which they expresses a strong belief that Jerusalem should remain an undivided city and capital of Israel.
Obama, under Jewish pressure sought gestures from the Arabs but when he didn’t succeed, gave up trying. He pressured Netanyahu with all manner of dire threats to Israel’s existence in order to get Netanyahu to announce a settlement freeze. Netanyahu agreed to a temporary freeze not to include Jerusalem, and Sec’y Clinton hailed it as “unprecedented”. Still the Arabs refused to negotiate. Obama in desperation is now threatening to impose a Plan which requires the sharing of Jerusalem and the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Israelis.
He went so far as to blame Israel’s intransigence for costing American lives. He also treated the Prime Minister of Israel shabbily by all accounts.
Obama’s stance ignores Jewish legal and historical rights and refuses any justice to the Jews. He only mouths his support for Israel’s security. But surely she is entitled to more than just security.
Do not think for a moment that if Israel knuckled under and accepted such a plan that peace would be upon her. The Arabs will not accept Israel’s permanent existence in the Middle East. Little would have been accomplished save for the weakening of Israel. America would still be faced with a loosing war in Afghanistan, a nuclear and militant Iran and an unstable Iraq. And Israel would be faced with Iran trying to destroy her with its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas and with the support of Turkey and Syria.
On April 12th, Huffington Post published an article by Ed Koch in which he wrote
“I weep as I witness outrageous verbal attacks on Israel. What makes these verbal assaults and distortions all the more painful is that they are being orchestrated by President Obama.
“I weep today because my president, Barack Obama, in a few weeks has changed the relationship between the U.S. and Israel from that of closest of allies to one in which there is an absence of trust on both sides.”
“On the other hand, our closest ally — the one with the special relationship with the U.S. — has been demeaned and slandered, held responsible by the administration for our problems in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.
“The plan I suspect is to so weaken the resolve of the Jewish state and its leaders so that it will be much easier to impose on Israel an American plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, leaving Israel’s needs for security and defensible borders in the lurch.”
Good for him.
Fortunately on April 13th Obama surprisingly expressed pessimism on the “diplomatic process” and said he cannot force an agreement on the Palestinian Authority and Israel. By Obama’s announcement, he appears to be giving up on imposing a solution for now. That’s great news but what about you, the American Jews?
According to a February poll, “support for Israel vs. the Palestinians has climbed to a stratospheric 85 percent among Republicans, the comparable figure for Democrats is an anemic 48 percent.”. Although a whopping 333 US House Members signed a letter critical of Obama’s treatment of Israel, 91 Democrats — more than a third of the entire Democratic caucus (which included a number of Jewish representatives) declined to sign. Yet this is the party you are affiliated with.
The 2010 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion, commissioned by the American Jewish Committee, found the following,
“On a main point of contention between the two governments – the future of Israeli settlements – 8% of American Jews surveyed said “all” and 56% said “some” settlements should be dismantled as part of an agreement with the Palestinians. Thirty-four percent said none should be removed.
“The survey clearly depicted a strong bond with Israel felt by American Jews. Thirty percent of respondents said they feel “very close,” while 44% said they feel “fairly close.”
“Orthodox Jews expressed stronger levels of identification, with 77% saying they were “very close” to Israel. Younger Jews also eclipsed older counterparts in this regard: 40% of Jews under 40 feel “very close” to Israel, compared to 24% of Jews between 40 and 59.”
“When it came to the peace process, the survey found the vast majority of American Jews, 94%, want the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state in any agreement; 61% support an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”
“Respondents were split regarding a Palestinian state – 48% favor one and 45 oppose this – but 80% said Israel cannot make peace with a Hamas-led government. The survey showed deep suspicion of Arab intentions, with 75% saying the goal of Arabs is the destruction of Israel.”
So I was surprised to read that 47 percent of you approve of Obama’s strategy.
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