Why does the State of Israel observe the Jewish national day of mourning called Tisha b’Av every year?

Tisha b’Av is a Jewish fast day which has been commemorated annually on the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. for the last 2500 years. It commemorates the destruction of the two Jewish temples built in Jerusalem that . The first temple was destroyed in 423 BC by the Babylonians and the second temple was destroyed by the Romans  in 70 Ad. Both events symbolized the end of Jewish sovereignty in those eras and both entailed the exile of the Jewish people exiled from their native land.  Today happens to be Tisha B’Av,  and while normally I commemorate this day outside of the modern State of Israel, this year I am fortunate to be spending it in Jerusalem, Israel. In fact, I can tell you that this is no minor fast, either in the diaspora or in Israel. In addition to a full day of fasting and prayer, many institutions sponsor talks and film screenings relevant to the theme of the destruction of the temple and the exile of the Jewish people in history.  The question for me is why does the State of Israel and the Jewish people all over the world, continue to observe this National Day of Mourning, today, since we now have a sovereign Jewish state in the ancient land of Israel.

One answer from the religious community, the community which regulates these religious rituals, is that although we now have political sovereignty, we have not yet achieved spiritual sovereignty in which all peoples respect each other and work together for the common good. This hope in the potential for a shared future of social goodness and peace – the future messianic times – as we all know, sadly, has not yet arrived. Our history tells us that the destruction and exiles of the Jewish people were caused not so much by the external forces but the internal divisions of the Jews of the time, that prevented a united front against the enemies.

Although the State of Israel can lay claim to many incredible achievements of the last 70 years, our history warns us not to rest on our laurels but to be vigilant and eager to improve our social fabric and unity of the Jewish people under the Divine rules of Justice and Mercy prescribed for us in our Torah.

In Jerusalem, on Tish b’A I participated in a film festival called “The Earth Trembles”: Contemporary Israeli films on contemporary social and political subjects were screened in the presence of the producers and actors.

The strength of the Jewish people is in its capacity to remember, not to forget, and to learn from the past. This is the ongoing task of the study of Torah, our holy books, which are meant to teach us the path how to improve the world we live in, not only for ourselves, but for all mankind.

Education for all, starting at birth, is a very large part of the Jewish endeavor. This is why it is hard to pull the wool over our eyes when others try to interpret our motives.

 

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’ speech, at the January 14 meeting of the PLO’s Central Council lasted two hours.

Mahmoud Abbas, photo via Office of the President of Russia

Appealing to fashionable legal and moral fads, particularly in Western Europe, Abbas again set forth the supposedly problematic aspects of Zionism. His “historical survey” undoubtedly fails the minimum test of facts, but it is uncritically accepted in many circles.

Israeli Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen parsed his speech and here is his rebuttal. BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 738, February 12, 2018

 

  • “By every historical account, the Zionist revolution – the incredible ingathering of the exiles and the establishment of the flourishing and highly successful state of Israel – is a unique and unprecedented phenomenon. Those who insist on viewing it as yet another immigration wave among the 20th century global population movements fail to grasp the real nature of this revolution. In this respect, Abbas touched the key issue that, in his eyes, made the Palestinians the main victim of Zionism: if the Jews yearn for a safe haven, and the international community wants to provide them with one, why does it have to be in Palestine, at the Palestinians’ expense?
  • Of all the leaders of the Zionist movement, it was Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, who dealt most extensively with the kinds of claims made by Abbas. Below are several passages from Abbas’s address followed by statements by Ben-Gurion on the same topic.
  • Abbas: “How did the problem in our region begin? They talk about the Balfour Declaration, promulgated a hundred years ago. They criticize us – why do we talk about something that happened a hundred years ago? And we say: ‘We will keep talking about the declaration until Britain apologizes and recognizes a Palestinian state’.”
  • Ben-Gurion: “Our right to the Land of Israel does not stem from the Mandate and the Balfour Declaration. It precedes those. The Bible is our mandate… I can state in the name of the Jewish People: The Bible is our mandate, the Bible that was written by us in our Hebrew language, and in this land itself, is our mandate. Our historical right has existed since our beginnings as the Jewish People, and the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate recognize and confirm that right” (testimony to the Peel Royal Commission, January 1937, Bama’archa, vol. 1, pp. 77-78).
  • “A homeland is not given as a gift and is not acquired by means of political rights and contracts. It is not purchased with gold and is not conquered by force, but is built with sweat. This homeland is a historical creation and a collective endeavor of a people, the fruit of its physical, spiritual, and moral labor down through the generations. … The Land of Israel will be ours not when the Turks, the English, or the next peace conference agrees to it, and it is undersigned in a diplomatic treaty – but when we, the Jews, build it. We will not attain the real, true, and lasting right to the land from others, but from our labor. For the Land of Israel to be ours, we must build it; the mission of our revival movement is the building of the land” (New York, September 1915, Mema’amad Le’am, p. 10).
  • Abbas: “The Egyptian thinker Abd al-Wahab al-Masri described the Zionist entity in this way: ‘The goal of Israel’s creation is to establish a colonial state that has no connection to Judaism’ – that is, it exploits the Jews to its end.”
  • Ben-Gurion: “The Jewish religion is a national religion, and it encapsulates all the historical experiences of the People Israel from its inception to the present; hence it is not easy to distinguish between the national side and the religious side” (Kochavim Ve’afar, p. 128).
  • “Zionism is a faithful striving for the eternity of Israel, and in these years the eternity of Israel is embodied in the state of Israel and in the Book of Books” (Kochavim Ve’afar, p. 155).
  • “Zionism – as the faith of the People Israel down through the generations – determined that the Land of Israel would solve the ‘question of the Jews’ in its entirety. Not a partial solution for a people, and not a solution for part of the people, but a full solution for an entire people. That is, for every Jew who needs and desires to live in the ancestral homeland… The People of Israel never believed in a duality of matter and spirit. Without the physical presence of the people in the land, its spiritual presence will not be built. The spiritual center of the Jewish People can exist only in the worldly center” (Speech to the 20th Zionist Congress, August 1937, Bama’archa, vol. 1, p. 238).
  • “The state of Israel is the fruit of the vision of the Jewish People’s redemption down through the generations… and with the establishment of the state, the redemption vision was not realized. Because the overwhelming majority of the Jewish People are still dispersed among the nations, and the Jewish state is still not the fulfillment of the Jewish redemption, it is only the main tool and means to its redemption” (Kochavim Ve’afar, p. 92).
  • Abbas: “Herzl was an educated person who dealt with theater and poetry and did not have a connection to the Zionist story. He dealt with the issue only because the Jewish question began to arise in Europe. The Jews were desperate because of general problems and a crisis within their communities, not because of their religion.”
  • Ben-Gurion: “From a Jewish standpoint Zionism is not just a flight from persecution and restrictive laws, but primarily love of a homeland and a vision of the rise of a nation-state. Our Zionism is composed of a national ideology, a feeling of love for the land, an aspiration to political independence. And of a desire and a need to settle in the Land of Israel. Take away from Zionism the hundreds-years-long love for the ancestral homeland, take away from Zionism the political aspiration to independence – and Zionism is emptied of its content” (Bama’archa, vol. 2, p. 48).
  • “The definition of Zionism’s ‘ultimate goal’ is nothing but the full and complete redemption of the People Israel in its land, the ingathering of the exiles, national sovereignty” (February 1937, Bama’archa, vol. 1, p. 190).
  • “What happened in the Land of Israel last year, what is happening every day to the Jews of Yemen, casts a cruel light on the chances for the ‘spiritual center’ of a Jewish minority in an Arab environment. But some of the champions of ‘the majority’ and the Jewish state, too, distort the true content of Zionism. A Jewish majority – is that indeed the goal? Let’s assume that there are a million Arabs in the country. Do a million-plus-one Jews constitute a solution for the question of the Jewish People? The realization of Zionism does not depend on the number of non-Jews in the country – but on the number of Jews who have the ability and the desire to settle there. It is not the number of non-Jews that is decisive – it is the desire and the need of the Jewish People and the capability of the country that is decisive, and this capability, too, is not predetermined but depends on the creative energies of the Jewish People” (February 1937, Bama’aracha, vol. 1, p. 158).

I believe that this is why we continue to observe the fast of T’isha b’Av – because we have so much to learn from both the heroes and villains of the past, we cannot afford to discard any part of our multifaceted history as we move forward towards the Messianic era, which we believe depends not just on grace but on the concerted memory and efforts of each and everyone of us.

Author: Abigail Hirsch, MSW, filmmaker, blogger, Hungarian born, Canadian Jew, currently living in Jerusalem, Israel

Ari Fuld – an Ordinary Extraordinary American-Israeli Jewish Hero

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Yesterday Ari Fuld was knifed in the back at a mall by a snot-nosed teenage Palestinian terrorist.  Ari chased the terrorist and shot him. Both of them lay on the pavement. Ari sadly, father of four and supporter of thousands, succumbed to his wounds and was buried last night at 11pm.

Am Yisrael Chai! The state of Israel lives! in joy and fulfillment because we have many people like Ari Fuld,  – not just the IDF – our teenage citizen army – but ordinary citizens of all ages and everywhere, who continue every day to ensure our safety and to ensure that we all live in security with joy and fulfillment. One snot nosed teenager can’t take that away! I am in Jerusalem and I feel safer here in Jerusalem than in New York or Montreal or anywhere else in the world because here everybody watches out for everybody. Here is Ari Feld speaking about his commitment a few short months ago interviewed by the Jewish Journal in Los Angeles.

 

And Ari Fuld, our ordinary extraordinary hero, will be mourned by all of the State of Israel and by Jews and non-Jews all over the world who appreciate the value of every single life.

And i just saw this post in Breaking Israel News which gives an additional flavour and insight into Ari Fuld. If you read the next part of this post you may begin to understand how the  Torah/our Sacred-Word-of-G-d-Text influences how a Jew Lives his faith every day of his life. I quote:

That Ari Fuld, may his memory be for a blessing, whose name means lion, was a fierce advocate for Israel is well-known.

What might be less well-known is that he took time on Fridays, just before Shabbat, to teach the upcoming week’s Torah portion live on Facebook, often beside his beloved barbeque grill, in his beloved community of Efrat. Fuld taught Torah to thousands of Jews and Christians all over the world, while preparing food for his family’s Shabbat meals.

 

A Torah Tribute To Ari Fuld In His Own Words

 

 

 

What is the Source of Antisemitism in Islam?

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Arab protococols_egypt_1976What is the source of antisemitism in Islam? What is the cause of Muslim antisemitism? Why have Arab countries and the Palestinians been so adamantly against accepting and acknowledging the Jewish narrative, the continuous Jewish presence in the Holy Land, and the Jewish state of Israel? Professor Mordechai Kedar, explains this very well:

This was one of a series of talks on antisemitism sponsored by  ISGAP – Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism at McGill University in January 2015.

Prof. Kedar explains that Mohammad borrowed extensively from the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians but when Jews and Christians refused to accept his doctrines, he systematically attacked their communities with his mercenaries for the denial of his message. Islam makes the claim that only the Islamic version of G-d is permissible anywhere in the world: That all messages of Jews and Christians are deceptive and invalid: That Islam is the one and only true religion i.e. the true version of reality. This very conveniently self serving doctrine has been followed up by Mohammad and his successors by the murder of Jews and Christians. This has been the source of Islamic precepts of Jew hatred and animosity towards Jews and Christians and Pagans throughout the centuries.

As Professor Kedar pointed out Muslims have a different view of history, and different values than those that have developed in the western democracies. Their concept of peace is “the peace of Sharia”, and Sharia can brook no compromise with other religions or cultures. For Westerners this is a hard lesson to accept: but it has to be faced if we are to understand the current state of conflict in the middle East between between Islam and the West, and between Islam and Israel, and between Islam and Jews.

In addition to the Islamic precepts demeaning Jews and infidels, European/Nazi ideas of Jew hatred have also permeated the Arab world via the Mufti of Jerusalem, an ally and friend of Hitler.

A living monument to European anti-Jewish hatred and misunderstanding is enshrined in the many publications of the forged Russian document: “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion“. Prof. Kedar pointed out that this document is being widely published and disseminated all over the Arab world and has been published widely there since the 1920’s. Apparently, no one has told the Arabs of the Middle East that this was and is a forged antisemitic document published by the Russians. The Egyptians have been misguided to the point that when they opened the New Library of Alexandria in Egypt, The Protocols of the Elders was chosen as one of the two most important books representative of Jews and Judaism. It was only removed when the Israeli ambassador, who was present at the opening advised them about the origins of this book which never had any reality connection whatsoever to any living Jews in the world or to Judaism.

If you have never heard of the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, I quote below from wikipedia.

“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion or The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion is an antisemitic hoax purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination.[1] It was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the 20th century. The Protocols purports to document the minutes of a late 19th-century meeting of Jewish leaders discussing their goal of global Jewish hegemony by subverting the morals of Gentiles, and by controlling the press and the world’s economies.

Henry Ford funded printing of 500,000 copies that were distributed throughout the US in the 1920s. Adolf Hitler was a major proponent. It was studied, as if factual, in German classrooms after the Nazis came to power in 1933,[2] despite having been exposed as fraudulent by The Times of London in 1921. It is still widely available today in numerous languages, in print and on the Internet, and continues to be presented by some proponents as a genuine document.”

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other similar books such as Mein Kampf, written by Hitler himself formalized the rampant antisemitism of Europe in the 19th century and made it sound rational and authoritative. These two works formed the basis of the irrational Jew hatred (otherwise known as antisemitism) in Europe and Russia of the 20th century. These books disseminated irrational notions about “The Jews”  which lead directly to the acceptance of the genocidal murder of at least six million “Jews” identified as such by the third Reich. Publication of both texts has been banned in many countries due to their libelous and destructive nature.

This fraudulent book, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”  is considered to be G-d’s truth in the Arab World as evidenced by the many publications and republications in the last several years. Some of the covers of these publications are reproduced here:

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Even if you do not read Arabic, the cover pictures associating Jews and Judaism with snakes and worse is clear.

Alongside antisemitic publications, one can find hundreds if not thousands of videos on you-tube espousing these ideas.

As unpleasant as this is, it has to be faced if anyone wants to understand the sources of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment in the Muslim world, and also in the ranks of the non-Muslim, European, anti-Jewish, antisemitic ranks. This virulent antisemitism, finds its voice amplified and easily spread on the internet.

Sadly few Western pundits or journalists have faced this dark truth about Islam when discussing Israel or the Middle East.

Sir Rabbi Jonathon Sacks, essay “The Face of Evil” sheds some light on analyzing irrational hatreds and the most virulent power of irrational hatreds such as antisemitism. I quote,

When hate depends on a specific cause, it ends once the cause disappears. Causeless, baseless hate, – irrational hate – can last forever.”

After 9/11, when the horror and trauma had subsided, Americans found themselves asking what had happened and why. Was it a disaster? A tragedy? A crime? An act of war? It did not seem to fit the pre-existing paradigms. And why had it happened? The question most often asked about Al Qaeda was, ‘Why do they hate us?

Just like the surprised Americans who woke up the day after the 9/11 tragedies asking “Why do they hate us?” Jews have asked the same question – “Why do they hate us?”. Antisemitism, the hate unjustly directed at Jews can and has morphed to meet the political needs of various regimes and religious groups. It has become a cutting edge tool to advance aspirations for power and dominance. In the middle ages it was used as a tool by the Catholic Church: In Russia: It was used as a tool by the Russian Czar: in Nazi Germany, Hitler used it to advance his ideology, and Islam has also used it, since its beginnings to assert dominance. None of these tyrants knew or understood anything about Jews  or Judaism. They were all spinning their Jew-baiting tales as a means to an end.

As Ruth Wisse has so ably pointed out, “antisemitism has nothing to do with Jews: it has everything to do with the antisemites. Antisemitism has very little to do with the realities of Jews or of Israel. It has everything to do with the power of irrational hatred as a self aggrandizing tool, and as an instrument for political dominance. Ruth Wisse, below analyzes very well, antisemitism and its effects not only on Jews but also on how it affects those who practice antisemitism.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GDDJrTuWos

 

 

 

Comparisons between Israel and Canada

I re-read this article from Kevin Myers recently, and it brought to mind many similarities between Israel and Canada.

“Until the deaths of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops are deployed in the region. And as always, Canada will bury its dead, just as the rest of the world, as always will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does…” (Sunday Telegraph)

The article is reminiscent of a cause that is close to my heart: the many achievements and sacrifices of Israel on behalf of her neighbors and allies that goes completely unappreciated almost immediately after it is reported. What immediately comes to mind is the recent earthquake in Haiti, where Israel sent a complete hospital with staff on the ground and was the first to arrive on the scene, but there are many more that have been detailed in the past…

Shocking on both counts but worth reflecting on…

The parallel that I perceive is that of a tiny minority whose accomplishments are swallowed up by the majority. In terms of Jews they were swallowed up, first by Rome, then by Christianity – and later Jwish texts and practices were appropriated by the Muslim faith in the 7th. century). Most present day Muslims are convinced that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob originated in the Muslim faith and Christians are not aware that what they call the defunct “old testament” is actually the original and current lively foundation of Jewish religion and Jewish life.

I would encourage you to read the rest of the article from the Telegraph. It is a good read. It is funny how it took someone in England to put it into words and proper perspective.

Kevin Myers is an Irish journalist and commentator, who currently writes for the Irish Independent. He is a former contributor to The Irish Times newspaper, where he wrote the An Irishman’s Diary column several times weekly. Until 2005, he also wrote for the Sunday Telegraph in the UK.