My Rabbinic Colleagues Were Wrong about Jerusalem

Dec. 21 2017

On December 5, all sixteen of the official organizations of Reform Judaism in North America issued a joint statement affirming that the U.S. embassy to Israel should be moved to Jerusalem in principle, but then stating: “we cannot support [the president’s] decision to begin preparing that move now, absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process.” Ammiel Hirsch, the rabbi of a Reform congregation in New York City, dissents:

I want the Jewish world to know that this position is not my position, nor does it reflect the views of multitudes of, perhaps most, Reform Jews. We were wrong on the politics. With the exception of one small hard-left party, there is wall-to-wall agreement among the Zionist parties in the Knesset supporting the embassy move. We have alienated the very people who support and defend us in our campaign [in Israel] for religious pluralism and equitable funding. . . .

More important, we were wrong on the merits. We have yearned for Jerusalem for two millennia. It is the source of our strength, the place where our people was formed, where the Bible was written. Jews lived free and made pilgrimages to Jerusalem for a thousand years. Our national existence changed the world and led to the creation of two other great faiths.

The world’s superpower finally did the right thing, and we opposed it—not on the principle, but on the “timing.” The timing? Now is not the right time? Two-thousand years later and it is still not the right time? As if there is a peace process that the Palestinians are committed to and pursuing with conviction. . . .

We should [instead] urge the international community to disabuse the Palestinian national movement of its exaggerated expectations and its insidious efforts to undermine and erase our connection to Zion. Until that happens, peace is an illusion.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: American Jewry, Israel & Zionism, Israel and the Diaspora, Jerusalem, Reform Judaism

Hamas’s Deadly Escalation at the Gaza Border

Oct. 16 2018

Hamas’s weekly demonstration at the fence separating Gaza from Israel turned bloody last Friday, as operatives used explosives to blow a hole in the barrier and attempted to pass through. The IDF opened fire, killing three and scaring away the rest. Yoni Ben Menachem notes that the demonstrators’ tactics have been growing more aggressive and violent in recent weeks, and the violence is no longer limited to Fridays but is occurring around the clock:

The number of participants in the demonstrations has risen to 20,000. Extensive use has been made of lethal tactics such as throwing explosive charges and grenades at IDF soldiers, and there has been an increase in the launching of incendiary balloons and kites into Israel. At the same time, Hamas supplemented its burning tires with smoke generators at the border to create heavy smoke screens to shield Gazan rioters and allow them to get closer to the border fence and infiltrate into Israel. . . .

[S]ix months of ineffective demonstrations have not achieved anything connected with easing [Israel’s blockade of the Strip]. Therefore, Hamas has decided to increase military pressure on Israel. [Its] ultimate goal has not changed: the complete removal of the embargo; until this is achieved, the violent demonstrations at the border fence will continue.

Hamas’s overall objective is to take the IDF by surprise by blowing up the fence at several points and infiltrating into Israeli territory to harm IDF soldiers or abduct them and take them into the Gaza Strip. . . . The precedent of the 2011 deal in which one Israeli soldier was traded for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners has strengthened the feeling within Hamas that Israel is prepared to pay a heavy price for bringing back captured soldiers alive. . . . Hamas also believes that the campaign is strengthening its position in Palestinian society and is getting the international community to understand that the Palestinian problem is still alive. . . .

The Hamas leadership is not interested in an all-out military confrontation with Israel. The Gaza street is strongly opposed to this, and the Hamas leadership understands that a new war with Israel will result in substantial damage to the organization. Therefore, the idea is to continue with the “Return March” campaign, which will not cost the organization too much and will maintain its rule without paying too high a price for terror.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security