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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.

Read more at Times of Israel

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

Mahmoud Abbas Comes to the UN to Walk away from the Negotiating Table

Feb. 22 2018

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, addressed the United Nations Security Council during one of its regular discussions of the “Palestine question.” He used the opportunity to elaborate on the Palestinians’ “5,000-year history” in the land of Israel, after which he moved on to demand—among other things—that the U.S. reverse its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The editors of the Weekly Standard comment:

It’s convenient for Abbas to suggest a condition to which he knows the United States won’t accede. It allows him to do what he does best—walk away from the table. Which is what he did on Tuesday, literally. After his speech, Abbas and his coterie of bureaucrats walked out of the council chamber, snubbing the next two speakers, the Israeli ambassador Danny Danon and the U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley, . . . [in order to have his] photograph taken with the Belgian foreign minister.

Abbas has neither the power nor the will to make peace. It’s the perennial problem afflicting Palestinian leadership. If he compromises on the alleged “right of return”—the chimerical idea that Palestinians can re-occupy the lands from which they [or their ancestors] fled, in effect obliterating the Israeli state—he will be deposed by political adversaries. Thus his contradictory strategy: to prolong his pageantry in international forums such as the UN, and to fashion himself a “moderate” even as he finances and incites terror. He seems to believe time is on his side. But it’s not. He’s eighty-two. While he continues his performative intransigence, he further immiserates the people he claims to represent.

In a sense, it was entirely appropriate that Abbas walked out. In that sullen act, he [exemplified] his own approach to peacemaking: when difficulties arise, vacate the premises and seek out photographers.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Nikki Haley, Politics & Current Affairs, United Nations