Get the Arabs to make a better offer

By Ted Belman

I recently emailed my article There is no duty to accept peace on Arab terms. and received this reply

    it must be hard being the only virgin left standing — a true believer who is certain that he has found the right truth and would you believe it, it’s on his right side. In your selective parsing of the Salon article you do exactly the same thing you accuse the left of doing of being blind to reality. Your so sure statement that “right wingers do not reject peace…they just reject faux peace on Arab terms” …ignores the fact that regardless of the “absolutist voices”…of which your, I believe, is a Jewish echo, people of good will, however strained that good will is, on the right and on the left, have to continue thinking of peace and struggling with each other for peace, finding the compromises out of “each others terms” so that at some time, children, on both sides, can grow up at peace.” I am reminded of the Yiddish expression “as beyde bale-dinim zaynen gerekht iz shlekht–When both litigants are right its a sorry sight.” It’s time to get beyond the the sorry sight of the two litigants howling their stories of absolute right. Maybe, then Justice will be served — for the Israeli’s for the Palestinians. Maybe.

Here is my response.

You start by making the point that there are Jews and Arabs alike who have absolutist voices. I have no quarrel with this. My article complained that only the Jews are singled out for opprobrium.

Then you offer this platitude, “people of good will, however strained that good will is, on the right and on the left, have to continue thinking of peace and struggling with each other for peace, finding the compromises out of “each others terms””. I have difficulty with this, not because I am not prepared to compromise but because I think it is a futile exercise.

I do not believe that the Arabs are prepared for peace or that they are offering peace. Nothing in their words or actions support a different conclusion.

Please read Why I hate the peace process. The first thing pursuers of peace should do is to provide a better, fairer process. How can Israel proceed in confidence when the deck is stacked against it.

Leaving that aside, let us analogize the process to one where there is an intended sale. The Arabs offer $25 for something that the Jews want $100 for. The Jews then say to the Arabs, “Make me a better offer”. And the Arabs say “go f**k your self”. How long do we continue negotiations when no one will budge. So the pursuers of peace say let’s us moderate the solution and still no one budges. So now the pursuers of peace say let us arbitrate and decide for you. But no one wants to give up their independence to decide the price. So the Arabs say to the international community if you guarantee me my price (ie the Saudi Plan) then I will empower you to force the Jews to accept it. Is that what you are advocating?

Now with all this haggling going on, the pursuers of peace try to make a judgement call on what the price should be. But how can anyone decide on this. Each side has a different valuation. There is no market value. Each side values what it is worth to them to make a deal. There is no compromise solution. Its one or the other. Let us assume the international community takes upon itself to pick either $25 or $100. How can they do this impartially? Nations have interests, not values. Yet they are forcing Israel to accept $25. Let us assume that this community decides that the proper price is $50. Even this would be politically tainted. Why not at the half way mark. It won’t happen because everyone knows, the Arabs won’t budge.

What is the commodity that Jews have for sale? Is it the land between the greenline and the Jordan or is it Israel itself as a Jewish state? The world refers to the occupied land as the former whereas the Arabs refer to it as the later. We know for a fact that it is the latter the Arabs want but let us assume its the former. Now my interlocutor speaks of “compromises”. The Saudi Plan wants 100% of the land with exchanges. Until such time as there is a sign of compromise, there can be no confidence that the Arabs want peace. When you demand 100% you want victory. If the Arabs were to say they will settle for 80% of the land then we have something to talk about even though Jews will then be giving up 80% of their biblical heartland. Jews want peace that much.

Or perhaps the world supports the Saudi Plan as the just solution. Perhaps the world couldn’t care less if it is just but just wants to end the conflict on the only terms possible.

So long as the people of good will are forcing the Jews to accept the Arab terms, they are not people of good will.

So how do we go beyond the “sorry sight of the two litigants howling their stories of absolute right” as you put it. I’ll tell you what. Get the Arabs to offer $50 and we’ll consider it.

Oh, you want an offer from the Jews? How about the Arabs agree to defensible borders as promised by Res 242?

December 23, 2007 | 39 Comments »

39 Comments / 39 Comments

  1. Ted,

    your email partner has been successfully indoctrinised by the christian iedology. He perfectly adopted the christian rhetoric: every time you point out a contradiction, the answer is : “well, blah blah blah”.

  2. salomon I sent a rather detailed reply and it disappeared, if Ted doesent retrieve and repost I will try again later

  3. Salomon Shalom,

    Democracy; I find as many meanings but none ascribe to the characteristics you wish to impute to them.

    Government by the people; especially : rule of the majority b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections<

    As a matter of fact most cultures and societies maintain either all or partially these same attributes whether a Democracy or not. Judaism is ethical and moral but so are many others we do not have a monopoly here!

    The North American Native American was more ethical and moral and religious than 99% of all Europeans and that includes the Vatican!

    Whether Malraux was a socialist or not he was one of their inspirations and Highly respected. You know socialists they only elevate those who agree with them.(call it philosophical reinforcement)

    I agree that some of the qualities you list:freedom, justice, respect for human life, etc. — are embedded in Jewish thought. but they are also embedded in most of the worlds cultures as well even in what you would call primitive societies and cultures! There is nothing intrinsically Jewish in any of these values

    Democracy as Deity? How high up the Value scale would you place your vision of Democracy? 10 being the highest@ I figure he you ans.anything from 8 up for you it has become a Diety, ( your values my opinion)

    Judaism: 1 : a religion developed among the ancient Hebrews and characterized by belief in one transcendent God who has revealed himself to Abraham, Moses, and the Hebrew prophets and by a religious life in accordance with Scriptures and rabbinic traditions 2 : conformity to Jewish rites, ceremonies, and practices 3 : the cultural, social, and religious beliefs and practices of the Jews 4 : the whole body of Jews : the Jewish people

    Judaism is based on particularism = Chosen People plus Chosen Land under the canopy of the revealed Law the Torah!

    Since you do not believe in the Revelation at Sinai, and I do, this is a dividing line between us that cannot be bridged until we find some common ground. I believe Judaism is the only religion that can be explained rationally. I read your excellent essay and other posts and most are very well written now pls listen to the following tapes and then pls E mail me at with any comments.

    You say that “the only thing that has kept the Jewish people is “orthodox Judaism” and I maintain that the Jewish people has survived by the strength of their values and the institutions they derived from them.

    This one has me stumped which institutions are you referring to?

    In the end you have done a very Jewish thing not answered my main questions but turned the discussion to my statements. OK, but I still asK you; WHY BE JEWISH AND IF YOUR CHILDREN WILL REMAIN JEWISH AND YOU GRANDCHILDREN AND THEIR CHILDREN ETC? I WOULD BE HAPPY TO HEAR FROM YOU!

  4. Yamit, I am glad to respond to the many questions you asked me.

    First, consider what you wrote: You say that “Israel must be religiously based on Judaism” and in the next sentence you say that “Judaism is not a religion but a way of life”. I am sure you can clarify this yourself.

    Second, many of your statements are totally inaccurate:

    – Malraux has never been a “socialist”!

    – You say that “Judaism is not democracy” and I maintain that the core values of democracy — freedom, justice, respect for human life, etc. — are embedded in Jewish thought.

    – You say that “I raised democracy to the level of a Deity”; you will be kind enough to show me where I said or implied anything like that!

    – You say that “the only thing that has kept the Jewish people is “orthodox Judaism” and I maintain that the Jewish people has survived by the strength of their values and the institutions they derived from them.

    You may find my thoughts on these and other related matters in this article I wrote close to two years ago:

    Ted, all nation-states have their foundation, without which they would lose their unique character. This is the present tragedy of Europe which is losing much of its Western cultural roots. It is obvious that the Jewish nation-state of Israel is rooted in the values of the Bible. But these values, after 3,000 years of Jewish civilization, are no longer in the exclusive domain of Orthodox Judaism as some may wish to turn the clock back.

  5. Yamit, I am glad to respond to the many questions you asked me.

    First, consider what you wrote: You say that “Israel must be religiously based on Judaism” and in the next sentence you say that “Judaism is not a religion but a way of life”. I am sure you can clarify this yourself.

    Second, many of your statements are totally inaccurate:

    – Malraux has never been a “socialist”!
    – You say that “Judaism is not democracy” and I maintain that the core values of democracy — freedom, justice, respect for human life, etc. — are embedded in Jewish thought.

    – You say that “I raised democracy to the level of a Deity”; you will be kind enough to show me where I said or implied anything like that!
    – You say that “the only thing that has kept the Jewish people is … orthodox Judaism” and I maintain that the Jewish people has survived by the strength of their values and the institutions they derived from them.

    You may find my thoughts on these and other related matters in this article I wrote close to two years ago:

    Ted, all nation-states have their foundation, without which they would lose their unique character. This is the present tragedy of Europe which is losing much of its Western cultural roots. It is obvious that the Jewish nation-state of Israel is rooted in the values of the Bible. But these values, after 3,000 years of Jewish civilization, are no longer in the exclusive domain of Orthodox Judaism as some may wish to turn the clock back.

  6. Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya, stressed:

    Without Torah there is no civic order, and without civic order there is no Torah. Without wisdom there is no fear of G-d, and without fear of G-d there is no wisdom. Without knowledge there is no intelligence, and without intelligence there is no knowledge. Without food there is no Torah, and without Torah there is no food. [Mishna Avot 3:2<


  7. Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook (center) after conquest of it

    “The situation is clear in Israel today,” Rav Tzvi Yehuda taught. “We are fighting a ‘milchemet mitzvah,’ a compulsory war. This is true in the mitzvah’s two meanings. Firstly, this is a compulsory war as defined by the Rambam, who states that a milchemet mitzvah is a war to save Israel from the hand of an enemy (Rambam, Laws of Kings, 5:1). Our army is called the Israel Defense Forces. Thank G-d, this is a very successful name. It would be wonderful if we didn’t require military engagement, but for the time being it is forced upon us.”

    “The second fundamental definition of a compulsory war is added by the Ramban, in the Torah obligation to conquer Eretz Yisrael in every generation (Ramban, Supplement to “Sefer HaMitzvot of the Rambam, Mitzvah #4). Among all of the precepts of the Torah is this military command. It does not enter our minds to choose which precept to do and which to ignore. This is a commandment of the Torah!”

    “The Ramban clearly determines that conquering Eretz Yisrael to ensure Jewish sovereignty here is the milchemet mitzvah of the Torah. This is a precept of the Torah and there is no way of getting around it. There is no nation without a land, and the concrete, living, here-and-now Israel is compelled to hold on to its Land. This precept applies in every generation, and the Ramban emphasizes this three times. The mitzvah includes possessing the Land and dwelling there. Possession of the Land means conquest, and from this the mitzvah of living in the Land is made possible, so that the Land will not lie in desolation.”

    “The danger of being killed (pekuach nefesh) exists in all wars. This is also the case in the milchemet mitzvah of keeping all of Eretz Yisrael in our hands. We enter into war knowing that lives will be endangered. This is the only precept of the Torah that demands this. With every other precept of the Torah which states: ‘Allow yourself to be killed rather than transgress,’ there is absolutely no justification to stand at the outset in the face of certain danger and be killed. If it is possible to escape, one escapes. But the precept to conquer the Land of Israel and rule over it, comes even at the risk of one’s life. As the ‘Minchat Chinuch’ states, danger is not a factor in this mitzvah” (Minchat Chinuch, 425).

    “Furthermore, the Torah commands us to conquer Eretz Yisrael and to establish our sovereignty here. There is no option to abandon any territory, for any reason whatsoever. It is well know that the principle understanding of the ruling of the Torah, ‘To be killed and not to transgress,’ only concerns murder, incest, and worshipping idols. If someone compels us to commit one of these sins at the threat of our lives, we are to be killed rather than do his bidding. This is true in normal situations, but in times of decrees and acts of compulsion against us, even a small matter assumes serious proportions, and one is to sacrifice one’s life. It doesn’t matter where the compulsion comes from, even if, G-d forbid, it comes from other Jews. When forced to violate a commandment of the Torah, a Jew is obliged to give up his life, even regarding a light precept. All the more so over a precept that is equal in weight to all of the commandments of the Torah combined – the mitzvah of living in Israel (Sifre, Reah, 12:29).”

    So, Mike, if you don’t understand what the Torah requires from us regarding the obligation of living in Israel, then listen to someone who does. And if you are afraid of living here, then stop discouraging others, as HaRav Tzvi Yehuda makes clear:

    “In our time, we are in a situation of war, and we must be careful of what we say. We must strengthen the conquest and settlement of the Land with wisdom, boldness, and strength, and by guarding our speech. We must guard against language that leads to discouragement. The Torah forbids this, saying, ‘Lest his brother’s heart melt like his heart.’ The Torah tells us, ‘Let your heart not be faint, fear not and do not tremble, nor be terrified because of them (Devarim, 20).”

    The Talmud states that Hashem gave three wonderful gifts to the Jewish People and all of them are acquired through sufferings: Torah, Eretz Yisrael, and the World to Come (Berachot 5A). Mike, if you are not willing to suffer for your homeland, then stay in Virginia, but don’t spill out your diarrhea on us.

  8. Ted You are 100% correct!! I did some research it is longish but for all the uninformed both jew and Gentile I will list only partial synopsis of what our Talmud says with ref.Then I would like someone to tell me that Giving away Land is the right thing to do under any circumstances;

    There have been many arguments along this line and, of course, there are many opinions on this subject. Yet, the one thing that cannot be denied is the time-transcending idea, as well as the reality, of the existence of the Jewish people. No doubt that every people wants to live and prosper; however, the distinction for the Jewish people is clear — there is no need for the Jewish existence if it is not for the aims served. These objectives are not within the realm of the mundane — they are, indeed, among the most sublime and holy of all possible human ends.

    The Centrality of the Land of Israel

    For purposes of clarity and source reference, it is required that authoritative Jewish texts be summoned to demonstrate the position stated above. To begin this exploration, the topic of a Jewish homeland and its natural consequence, a Jewish polity, are to be examined.

    The Rambam (Mimonides) writes:

      It is forbidden at all times to leave Eretz Yisrael for the Diaspora except: to study Torah; to marry; or to save [one’s property] from the gentiles [lit. the worshippers of the stars and signs]. [After accomplishing these ends,] one must return to Eretz Yisrael.
      Mishne Torah, Sefer Shoftim, The Laws of Kings and Their Wars, Chapter 5, Halakha 9.1

    Maimonides continues in the same halakha:

      Similarly, one may leave Eretz Yisrael to do business. However, it is forbidden [to leave with the intent] of settling permanently in the Diaspora unless the famine in [the land] is so severe that a dinar’s worth of wheat is sold at two dinars. When do these conditions apply? When one possesses financial resources and food is expensive. However, if food is inexpensive, but a person cannot find financial resources or employment and has no money available, he may leave and go to any place where he can find relief. Although it is permitted to leave [Eretz Yisrael] under these circumstances, it is not pious behavior. Behold, Mahlon and Kilyon were two of the great men of the generation [of Ruth] and they left [Eretz Yisrael] only out of great distress. Nevertheless, they were considered by G-d to be worthy of death.2

    Source for Mishne Torah, Sefer Shoftim, The Laws of Kings and Their Wars, Chapter 5, Halakha 9:

    Talmud Bavli, Bava Batra, 91a, Our Rabbis taught: It is not permitted to go forth from the Land of Israel to a foreign country unless two se’ahs are sold for one sela’. R. Shimon said: [This is permitted only] when one cannot find [anything] to buy, but when one is able [to find something] to buy, even if a se’ah cost a sela’ one must not depart. And so said R. Shimon b. Yohai: Elimelekh, Mahlon and Kilyon were [of the] great men of their generation, and they were [also] leaders of their generation. Why, then, were they punished? Because they left Eretz Yisrael for a foreign country; for it is written, And all the city was astir concerning them, and the women said: Is this Naomi? What [is meant by] ‘is this Naomi?’ — R. Yitzhak said: They said, ‘Did you see what befell Naomi who left Eretz Yisrael for a foreign country?’

    Talmud Bavli, Bava Batra, 91a, R. Hanan b. Raba said in the name of Rav: Elimelekh and Salmon and Peloni Almoni and the father of Naomi all were sons of Nahshon, the son of Aminadav [Sh’mot 5:23]. What does he come to teach us [by this statement]? — That even the merit of one’s ancestors is of no avail when one leaves the Land for a foreign country.

    Rational thought dictates that a man not leave his household in most circumstances and especially in times of difficulty. At the moment in which desperation is at hand, the virtuous display fortitude, strength and most of all presence. The act of leaving, to be conceived of as moral, would require great benefit for the whole of the family and its purposes. When the nation of Israel is understood as the obligation of all its members it is easier to make the comparison to a family and household. As to the reverence placed upon the meaning of holiness ascribed to the Land is, of course, parabolic and intended to draw our attention to the overall significance of Eretz Israel to the purposes of the Jewish people. Without the Land the polity could not exist. Just as without a dwelling place a family is but more individuals in a group, not significant or unique in their identity or culture, mores or habits. A very often quoted reference to this idea is the following halakha.

    Mishne Torah, Sefer Shoftim, The Laws of Kings and Their Wars, Chapter 5, Halakha 10.

    Great Sages would kiss the borders of Eretz Yisrael, kiss its stones, and roll in its dust. Similarly, it says: Behold, your servants hold her stones dear and cherish her dust. [Tehillim 102:15]3

    Source for Halakha 10:

    Talmud Bavli, Ketuvot, 112a, R. Hisda stated: What [was meant] by the Scriptural text, I give thee a pleasant land, the heritage of the deer? Why was the Land of Israel compared to a deer? — To tell that as the skin of a deer cannot contain its flesh so cannot the Land of Israel contain its produce. Another explanation: As the deer is the swiftest among the animals so is the Land of Israel the swiftest of all lands in the ripening of its fruit. If [one should suggest that] as the deer is swift but his flesh is not fat so is the Land of Israel swift to ripen but its fruits are not rich, it was explicitly stated in Scripture, Flowing with milk and honey [thus indicating that they are] richer than milk and honey.

    When R. Zera went up to the Land of Israel and could not find a ferry wherein to cross [a certain river] he grasped a rope bridge and crossed. Thereupon a certain Sadducee sneered at him: ‘Hasty people, that put your mouths before your ears [Na’ase V’nishma’ — Sh’mot 24:7], you are still, as ever, clinging to your hastiness.’ ‘The spot,’ the former replied, ‘which Moshe and Aharon were not worthy [of entering], who could assure me that I should be worthy?’ R. Abba used to kiss the cliffs of Acco. R. Hannina used to repair its obstacles. R. Ammi and R. Assi used to rise [from their seats to move] from the sun to the shade and from to the shade to the sun. R. Hiyya b. Gamda rolled himself in its dust, for it is said in the Scripture, For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and love her dust. [Tehillim 102:15]

    The parabolic reference to the Land is very clear. The reason for the Land is its existence as place, not just any place, but the place in which revelation is to be actualized. The meaning of the deer and of the milk and honey becomes obvious when understood as it was intended by the Sages. That is, as the place in which the maturation of the true polity is possible only through the use of the laws that instruct the taking of the Land in the first place. The polity dictated by the law exceeds the otherwise and commonly accepted use of the Land. The concepts as articulated by the authentic Jewish polity once actualized indeed exceed the physical borders of the Land and have universal consequences.

    A Jew who dwells in the Land ultimately is a reference to the Jew that not only subsists in Eretz Israel, but lives according to the statues defining life in the Land. Therefore, even one who transgresses is afforded forgiveness within the scope of the law of the Jewish polity. It is the system of law that gives definition to habitation in the Land and as a consequence, meaning to the Land. The halakha relating to this issue is the following.

    Mishne Torah, Sefer Shoftim, The Laws of Kings and Their Wars, Chapter 5, Halakha 11.

    The Sages said: The transgressions of one who dwells in Eretz Yisrael are forgiven, as it says: The inhabitant shall not say, ‘I am sick.’ The people who dwell there shall be forgiven for their transgressions. [Isaiah 33:24]

    Even one who walks four cubits there will merit the World to Come and one who is buried there receives atonement as though the place in which he is were an altar of atonement, as it says: His land will atone for his people. [D’varim 32:43] [In contrast, the prophet, Amos [Amos 7:17], used the expression] You shall die in an impure land — a prophecy of retribution.

    There is no comparison between [the merit of] a person who lives in Eretz Yisrael and one brought there after death [for burial]. Nevertheless, great Sages would bring their dead there. Take an example from our Fathers, Ya’akov and Yosef, the righteous.

    Source for Halakha 11:

    Talmud Bavli, Ketuvot, 111a, R. Eleazar said: Whoever is domiciled in the Land of Israel lives without transgression, for it is said in Scripture, And the inhabitants shall not say, ‘I am sick’; the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity. [Isaiah 33:24] Said Raba to Rav Ashi: we apply this to those who suffer from disease.

    R. Anan said: Whosoever is buried in the Land of Israel is deemed to be buried under the altar; since in the latter it is written in Scripture, An altar of earth shalt thou make for me, [Sh’mot 20:21] and in respect to the former it is written in Scripture, And his land doth make expiation for his people. [D’varim 32:43]

    . . . And the spirit to walk therein [Isaiah 42:5], of it, said R. Yirmeyahu b. Abba in the name of R. Yohanan, that whoever walks four cubits in the Land of Israel is assured a place in the World to Come.

    As a participant in the making of the Jewish polity, the individual Jew has assumed upon himself certain fundamental understandings of self and nation. Within this context is the presupposition of revelation as true (i.e., the laws of the Torah transcend time and that human nature remains constant). The notion of Torah as a time transcending document is exhibited in the previous halakhot while the idea of unchanging human nature is first addressed with the halakha that follows and secondly discussed in the following subsection of this work.

    Mishne Torah, Sefer Shoftim, The Laws of Kings and Their Wars, Chapter 5, Halakha 12.

    At all times, a person should dwell in Eretz Yisrael, even in a city whose population is primarily of worshippers of idols, rather than dwell in the Diaspora in a city whose population is primarily Jewish.

    In that all who leave [the land] for the Diaspora is as though he worships idols, as it is says: They have driven me out today from dwelling in the heritage of G-d, saying, ‘Go serve other gods.’ [Shmuel I 26:19] Similarly, [Ezekiel’s (13:9) prophecies of] retribution state: They shall not come to the Land of Israel.

    Just as it is forbidden to leave the Land for the Diaspora, so it is forbidden to leave Bavel for other lands, as it is written: They shall be brought to Bavel and there they shall be [until I take notice of them . . . and restore them to this place, i.e. the Land of Israel]. [Jeremiah 27:22]5

    Source Halakha 12:

    Talmud Bavli, Ketuvot, 110b, Our Rabbis taught: One should always live in the Land of Israel, even in a town most of whose inhabitants are idolaters, but let no one live outside the Land, in a town most of whose inhabitants are Israelites; for whoever lives in the Land of Israel may be considered to have a G-d, but whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who has no G-d. For it is said in Scripture, To give you the Land of Canaan, to be your G-d. [Vayikra 25:38] Has he, then, who does not live in the Land, have no G-d? But [this is what the text intended] to tell you, that whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who worships idols. Similarly it was said in Scripture in [the story of] David, For they have driven me out this day that I should not cleave to the inheritance of the L-rd, saying: Go, serve other gods. [Shmuel I 26:9] Now, whoever said to David, ‘Serve other gods’? But [the text intended] to tell you that whoever lives outside the Land may be regarded as one who worships idols. [Tosafot,’Avoda Zara, 5]

    The Jew living outside the Land, constitutes the worshipping of idols because doing so denies the foundations of the Torah, i.e., the enactment of the Torah, and the living by the statutes of the Law. The project of enacting the Torah can only be legally accomplished in the Land as defined by the Law. The goal of Jewish practice is a single idea that can be dissected into three interrelated and independent subsections. The single idea is to know G-d, that is, to love G-d since the limits of human knowledge subject man’s knowing of G-d to the loving of Him. Subsection one of the idea deals with individual development; subsection two, with national development; and subsection three impacts upon universal development of mankind. Each subsection is dependent on the precepts of the Law, for it is the Law that elucidates these subsections and places definitional perimeters of their understanding. Development of self begins with adherence to all commandments which, in turn, lead to the national responsibility and finally its universal ramifications. Again, it is the participation in the project and what that participation says about the belief in the endeavor itself that is so central. There is such a notion in Jewish law because the foundation of Jewish practice is founded upon the creation of an autonomous Jewish political entity in the Land of Israel. At certain points in Jewish study the simplicity of this idea is overwhelming.

  9. I believe that Israel may be a nation state but it is more than that. This nation state cannot be divorced from its foundation and that is the Hebrew Bible. You cannot cut the people off its foundation. The only question is how much of halacha is to be applied at a national level rather than a personal level. For instance. Do we rely on three thousand years of Jewish jurisprudence or embrace western jurisprudence. Which should take precedence in our constitution.

    Bottom line is, the nation state of Israel must decide how to incorporate its religious foundations. It cannot be divorced from them.

  10. Salomon: To add to what Alex has said let me first ask a critical question of you. If Israel should not be religiously based on Judaism what is your alternative? What then would be the difference between Israel and say Portugal? is being Hebrew speaking Portuguese your vision for us? The non religious here in Israel are no less in many respects as assimilationist as our brothers and sisters in America. Intermarriage has not yet reached any large numbers here due mainly to lack of opportunity and not commitment to Jewish values and and concern for our continuance as a people. Judaism is not a religion but a way of life It is Particular in that it has a purpose and and it is Land centered meaning it revolves around a particular land. So it is people based Land based and Torah based. Security considerations cannot be cited as a prime reason for the existence of a Jewish State. One might argue that it is more dangerous to live in Israel than the Diaspora. Your citing the socialist Andre Malraux, does not help your argument as he has since been discredited and overtaken by events.

    The Question for you Salomon is not what is a Jew but can you ans. the question Why be Jewish? Will your children be Jewish with any certainty, or your grand children and theirs etc. These are the important questions you need to grapple with. Judaism is not Democracy, not Jeffersonian Democracy or any other. It is a foreign concept to Judaism. We have our own laws and rules and norms that we have kept at least some of us for 3500 years compared this fact to your raising the concept of Democracy to near Deity elevation speaks volumes as to where you stand.

    The only element that has kept and maintained the remnant of the Jewish People jewish and intact up till now has been Judaism in its orthodox form. From what I understand from what you have said and advised, were we to adopt your point of view we would disappear within a few generations and by that save our Arab brothers a lot of AMMO!

  11. Hello Alex,

    I agree with much of what you say but I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the Jewish State of Israel must be based on religion to remain Jewish. All great civilizations originated with religious beliefs, as André Malraux observed. When these civilizations mature, their original religious beliefs get embedded in their culture, their traditions, their beliefs, their institutions, etc. So did the Greek, the Chinese, the Indian and the Western civilizations. The Jewish civilization is no exception. They evolved into a distinct people , they recreated their nation in their ancestral land, and they later establish the State of Israel.

    This is a characteristic of the Jewish people, as opposed to the other monotheistic religions, since there is no such thing as a Christian people or a Muslim people. This is also something non-Jews have sometimes difficulty in understanding, hence their endless questioning of “the Jewish State” which they see as anchored in religion (Judaism) and not as a nation-state of the Jewish people. The “reconstitution” of the Jewish nation in 1922 (as shown in the Mandate) clearly refers to the “Jewish people” and not to Judaism, evn though everyone understands that the origin of this people lies in Judaism.

    I believe Israel is already facing a number of problems, without adding a new layer of divisive categorizations. Why is it so hard to view Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people? Let faith and religious observance remain at the personal level, and let all Jews unite in their sense of nationhood.

    Boa noite!;-)

  12. Salomon,

    You have not asked me, but I’ll just offer this: Israel has always been in the religion/secularism limbo from its very inception. The state is secular, just as a lot of its laws. But religion does rule over some basic aspects of law in Israel, the most prominent example of which having always been the marriage issue. It’s not possible to legally marry anyone outside of religion. Either you follow the Halakha or get married abroad.

    The point is how important the specifically religion-based laws are. This is very easy to understand. Religion-based laws are meant to keep Jewish identity. As most high-schooled Westerners know, Jews try to marry only fellow Jews. The reason is that intermarriage has always meant assimilation for Jews – assimilation means you are still a Jew but your grandchild will not be one. Since Israel is supposed to be a Jewish state, and Jewish identity is exclusively determined by religion, there is no way out of the limbo as far as the current definition of democracy is concerned.

    This is not empty talk. On the contrary, it touches the core of our concept of democracy as a positive achievement of our time. Here is the issue: most ethnicities are nowadays primarily defined by common language, habits, national borders and only secondarily by religion. This is very new in human history and is what makes a Catholic American just as American as a Jewish one. It’s a modern, secular definition of nationality. However, this was not the case in the ancient world, when religion was the basis of nationality. That’s why the Torah speaks of the superiority of the Jewish God as opposed to the gods of the nations. The Torah came about as a new revolutionary ideology meant to solve the inherent problems of the others. And it opened the gates for new adherents through conversion. How is this different from Christianity or Islam? In that you are not only embracing a new religion but a new nationality! After all, where in the world would you be granted citizenship in a state by converting to a religion other than in Israel? This simple fact in itself contradicts all claims that Israel be a fully ‘secular’ democracy. It is not and it cannot be, lest its existence as a Jewish state is doomed.

    As you see, Israel MUST be a religion-based state… or cease to be a Jewish state. If it ceases to be a Jewish state, what is it going to be then? A bi-national state? Of course not, because Islam regards all borders as a temporary burden until time is ripe for the re-establishment of the caliphate.

    Here is the answer: all religions have an ideology, since religion has always dictated political decisions from times immemorial. Even in the so-called Western democracies a lot is still determined by religion, except they don’t necessarily use religious terminology – the calendar is Christian, many national holidays are Christian, etc. Have you ever seen a Jewish president in the most pluralistic Western society, the US? Or in France, or a British prime-minister? Can you imagine a Jewish British queen? Of course you can’t, because British crown is all but synonymous with the Anglican church.

    So what’s the point of trying to define Israel as a ‘secular democracy’? This is a myth. Israel ALREADY is a so-called secular democracy. By trying to avoid Israel’s inevitable and obvious religious definition, the West and the people within it who believe the secular democracy myth are merely denying Israel’s right to exist, which is precisely what the West has been doing for 2000 years… nothing new.

  13. Ted,

    The letter that your “interlocutor” wrote you is self-contradictory in that he calls for “Peace” through concessions and yet, at the end, he seems to rely on “Justice”. Since the latter is based on factual truths, the various ongoing “peace processes” negate any sense of “justice.” So, where does he really stand? On peace at any cost? Or on ultimate peace after Justice has been served?

    Two other points:

    1. There is no sense in pursuing negotiations, ANY negotiation, when the objectives of the two parties are not compatible. And that is the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as it turned out to be called.

    2. We should get rid of the notion that Israel is a religion-based state. Nothing can be more harmful that persisting in this idea. Religion-based states cannot be democratic; nation-states can.

  14. My goodness Yamit. Talk about being divorced from the political world in which we live, you seem to be pushing it to the very limit.

    Not a word about the seminal issue of our times, Yugoslavia, and what happened there. A wealth of lessons for Israelis there.

    Not a word about the growing crisis in the capitalist system which is the motor which is driving every capitalist government to do deals with Islamists to safeguard their oil supplies.

    Not a word about the US Government of Bush. Is Rice just a nasty woman or are there reasons behind her courting of the Saudis.

    These are all factors which flow out of the capitalist system.

    What happens Yamit if the banks of the world no longer trust each other. There is collapse of credit. There is mass unemployment. Can the wonderful Christian Zionists of America continue to support the Jews if they lose confidence in the American system, ie they are out on the dole and scrap heap`?

    What happens if Europe closes shop on Israeli computer technology etc. They think that their profits depend on the over 1 billion Muslims.

    And you have this huge aversion to even mentioning the historical figure of Trotsky from whom there is so much to learn

    Let me repeat a part of what you write above which is

    “Our land is not only a Homeland in the sense that Poland is a for the Poles or Korea is for the Koreans, but rather it is the Land in which we can “Go up to appear and bow down.” The Temple Mount is not sufficient without a good, spacious land around it, but neither is such a land sufficient without the Temple Mount. We are not like the nations of the world, they belong to a land; transfer them to another land and they will belong to it. Nor is this land like the lands of other nations, take away one nation, they will
    belong to another.

    Trotsky, the greatest socialist revolutionary of all time, atheist to his core, in the 30s advocated for Jews the freedom to do just that.

    He said that Jews must get out of Europe, get t Palestine, there create a Jewish state where they are free to practice, or not practice of course, the above.

    He also made it clear that Jews must be safe and he suggested the shifting of antisemitic Arabs so that they would be safe.

    We have to start from something, we have to stand for something, and that is where I stand.

    Jews must have a Homeland where they are free from antisemitism.

    This is why if the Jews are to survive I believe that it can only be done in struggle. They must in Israel defeat the Arab enemy and I believe it can only be done through war. The Jews must become like Cromwells´ Roundheads in this regard anyway.

    Where i disagree perhaps is that the Jews must not be left alone and must seek allies. This is possible and is a question above all of leadership.

    We are fighting an ideology of antisemitism. This is why the present Leftists like Redgrave always hid from her members the above facts about Trotsky.

    There are millions can be won to this but the necessary item that is missing is a party to fight for these principles. It is late but there is no other way.

  15. Hello again Felix: missed you (really), I am not concerned with which economic system is predominate in the world , My personal feeling is what ever works best for the most people. It is not for me a religious imperative but a tool of nations interacting in the world of commerce and trade. Sure this is an over simplification but on the bottom line thats what it comes down too.

    Our major point of disagreement is in the realm of the age old conflict between people of Faith and People with little or no faith. The Conflict between Greek and Jew personifies in microcosm the wider human condition in Macro! Mt. Olympus VS. The Temple Mount and the Hebrew Temple. Most Christians and Muslims understand this conflict but for Rationalists like you I am afraid it might be beyond you:I will print below a little of what I am trying to say and hope you can gain some insight here:

    Our land is not only a Homeland in the sense that Poland is a for the Poles or Korea is for the Koreans, but rather it is the Land in which we can “Go up to appear and bow down.” The Temple Mount is not sufficient without a good, spacious land around it, but neither is such a land sufficient without the Temple Mount. We are not like the nations of the world, they belong to a land; transfer them to another land and they will belong to it. Nor is this land like the lands of other nations, take away one nation, they will
    belong to another. Here a third factor comes into play, supreme and decisive, which does not permit the above occurrences. Jerusalem and the Temple Mount transform our tie to the land into a weltanschauung.

    To compare the Temple Mount to Mount Olympus is to bring everything into focus.

    The Greeks simply took the highest mountain and assumed it to be the home of the gods, that is why, they reasoned, it is the highest and perhaps the most beautiful, because the gods are there. Israel, however, lowers its G-d to a mountain that is not necessarily the highest, that is in fact surrounded by higher peaks, and raises Him to this mountaintop. This is not a matter of a chance physical or geographic occurrence, this is a spiritual choice. There we, find enslavement to natural occurrences, here these are subordinate to spirit. Their philosophy one or another ends in a deep freeze, whether materialistically / physically or idealistically / metaphysically, with the resulting fatalistic / amoral cycles. Here lies the fire of prophecy, flamed by historical and moral dynamics.

    We must reunite Heaven and Earth, which were torn form each other, the tearing being the destruction of the Temple. The mending of this tear is the purpose of Hebrew liberation. As else: land to sustain us, in-gathering of exiles, cultural and physical creativity, growth in strength and morality and beauty, will spring from foundation-stone.



  16. Yamit, at comment #15, brings a nice survey of current, deficient Israeli society, but the blame by the leftists and the politicians on both sides is remarkable. It shows that the arab propaganda is working and prevailing within Israel. This is extremely dangerous and very ironic for the critics of occupation are not only appeasers of the fire-breathing muslim-intolerants, they are also completely blind. For the arab, the Israeli “occupation” does not end at the Green-line — it extends into Tel Aviv, and its contemptible nightlife, as well.
    If the left were composed of “Jews who want to be Jews,” then Israel would have a chance to create an Iron Wall against the gathering evil. Given the internal spiritual corruption, we are on a slippery slope toward national disaster as the external threat enlarges and even merges with the parallel internal rot. [Now the Israeli left promotes the palestinian cause]. Unfortunately, even prayer will not help, as G-d helps no one. We all deserve what we get. We either build-up are own character and the character of our nation or the evil-ones will do it for those who remain.

  17. Ted your comment # 22 is brilliant.
    That is exactly the case: Leftists and moralists and westerners believe that all people must be given a chance, that moral equivalence is the ultimate virtue, that all people seek fairness and peace, that “other” people are no different than “us.” When a Jew looks at an arab, he must understand that he is not looking at another Jew or even a westerner or even a person of “tolerance.” He is looking at a person imbued from birth with a cultural/religious ideology with specific targets and objectives and with specific views formed by his culture/religion on how he is to view us. For him we are infidels –unbelievers — and must be converted, dominated, or killed. That is the Koran; just as it was Mein Kampf for the Nazis. Today we have extreme Islamo-fascists and moderate Islamo-fascists; the difference –speed and method of execution.
    For our survival, it is critical that we understand who we are and who they are. There is a difference, just as there is a difference between good and evil. Folks, you must shake off the generations of Jewish/Yiddish liberalism and the belief that everyone wants to be good. Many of you have been living lives insulated from mass evil. You must know and learn, either the easy way or the hard way, that not everyone wants to be good. There is an entire culture out there that believes and worships a culture of death and evil. They believe in the use of violence in settling disputes and imposing authority as a pathway to honor. This violence commences at home with violence against their children and wives, their neighbors and competing tribes, and so on. Under arab/islamic code, a 5 year old boy has the authority to order his older brother’s wife out of the street and into the home.
    Even the arabs who immigrate to the west do not do so out of a belief in freedom or to escape oppression. They do it for money and they bring with them a loyalty to their own ancient tribes, culture, religion and nation. They believe in the ultimate triumph of their system. Afterall, the resources are in their favor: 1 billion+ muslims- from Nigeria to Indonesia; oil; high birthrate; a willingness to commit violence; a belief that what they do [including violence] is right, moral and desired by Allah; an awareness that the west is morally weak and corrupt, and in an appeasing mode despite 9/11, The momentum is in their favor. The only thing the west has of any concern is technology. But in a matter of time, the muslims too will have equivalent technology.
    To paraphrase Churchill, conflict -not peace is the natural order of life. This the arab believes with every fiber of his being. We Jews persistently try to inject holiness and peace into this rotten world only to get annihilated time and again. As the “yellow canary” in the mine shaft we should be warning the world about Islam — not appeasing them.

    With regard to the commentator bemoaning the 2 claimants and their absolutist positions– he should note that it could very well be, as it is in the arab-israeli conflict— that one side is indeed right and the other side is indeed wrong. The Jewish claim to historic Jewish land pre-dates and is superior to the arab claims. There is no equivalence between the claim of actual historic sovereignty of the Jewish People in Israel-palestine [as western nations acknowledged numerous times and in numerous ways] and the inferior palestinaian-arab claim that merely yearns for sovereignty based on mere long-term residence. Of course the later is backed up by oil, violence and manufactured/perpetuated Trojan Horse grievances. The latter is where leftists and the “absolutist-commentator” get ensnared in the arab propaganda. That, and the fact that certain people [including certain Jews who do not want to be Jewish], who tend toward sympathy for the devil, have a prejudice against the Jewish position even when it is historically and logically correct.
    It is sad to see that Jews can articulate the propaganda of the palestinian-arabs but are not capable of articulating what the historic Jewish claim is. If you don’t want to advocate the Jewish claim, fine. But don’t spout your historic ignorance and defend the practitioners of evil and their inferior bogus claims.

  18. another email

    The most significant thing about the reader’s response you share with us below is that he uses a Yiddish saying as the controlling wisdom for the situation between Israel and the Arabs. It would be far more appropriate to use an (Palestinian) Arabic saying such as: “there are two things worth dying for, land and honor.”

    In using a Yiddish expression as the controlling wisdom, this person acts in the manner of most leftists. When wanting to understand the Arabs, they stand in front of a mirror instead of looking out the window.

  19. There is really so much detail in all of the answers above that it will take me hours to untangle much of it. Yet the issues raised are so vital I must try to respond.

    I feel Ted at the beginning has just not stepped out of the box in answering this guy. He maybe has imprisoned himself in the box nd we need really new thinking.

    Yamit keeps droning on about the same thing. Basically he seems to wish to return to biblical first premises, which may not work, because the bible was of its time and day.

    So in Yamit there is to my mind a divorce from the real world of today.

    Yamit is the guy who said here some weeks ago in relation to Kosovo “Not our problem”. You see he is separated by his insular Judaic mentality from an understanding of the real world. Yamit and Ted are not too farremoved in this regard, because I remember Ted did raise Kosovo and Yugoslavia but then surrendered to Yamit’s narrow insularity by saying that Yugoslavia is important but just not too much time should be spent there.

    Te cental issue to me is Islam. The Palestinians are a misnomer, they are a ploy used by the Arabs to rid the Land of Islam of this thorny bush, the Jews.

    Peace and peaceniks in this regard are fools, and often are antisemites.

    The great issue is not the Arabs but the West. It is the world of capital, yes and Russia also is the land of capital, and has been since the New Course in 1923, if not right from 1917.

    There are two interweaving phenomena here. The Western capitalist world is in crisis, deep crisis. At the cntre is the collapse of Bretton Woods, remember when Nixon removed gold backing from the dolar, and now a collapse of credit confidence. THE BANKS NO LONGER TRUST EACH OTHER.

    When that happens it spells big changes, I would say that two things are on the cards in the world today. They are Fascism or Socialsm. Either capitalism maintains itself or it will be replaced.

    Whether Yamit88 recognses this or not that is the reality which Jews and Israel fight within. We are all part of this all enveloping world capitalist system plunging deeper into crisis.

    Ask why did the US move to destroy Yugoslavia. Coz it stood in the way of the market made up of a billion Chionese, a billion Indians and Russia, which still is rebellious despite Yeltzin and the collapse of the Stalinists.

    So ask also why all the capitalist nations fawn at the feet of the Islamiists. Such as the courting of that hairy goat and thug Gaddafi in Madrid yesterday. CFoz there is a serious market there and the Islamists have power.

    The Jews must oncentrate on possible allies. But perhaps the biggest alloy they could have is to look at the role of the greatest ever revolutionary socialist, Leon Trotsky, 1933 to 1940 I doubt that Yamit will listen but perhaps HE WILL, HAVING A PAT ANSWER IS NOT ALWAYS BEST.

  20. The Arab-Israeli conflict is best understood with the following analogy:

      A Jewish landlord, who has been kept away from his apartment house by forces beyond his control, finally returns to find strange squatters residing in many of the apartment units. These squatters refuse to acknowledge the Jew as the landlord and actually claim that they are the landlord. The Jewish landlord produces an old deed, other documents, and even an old Jewish tenant to verify his ownership– all to no avail. The quarrel goes to the local court which issues a temporary order maintaining the status quo but allowing the landlord to fill any empty apartments with his own tenants.

      When the court does issue a final order splitting the ownership of the apartment building between the landlord and the squatters, it is promptly rejected by the squatters and they then bring in their brothers to squat in the remaining apartments and common areas. The landlord ultimately clears out the brothers and the original dispute continues.

      The squatters now claim they will settle for half ownership, yet they still have squatters in apartments that were clearly in landlord control and also demand more units that are clearly in the landlord’s control.

      Now the landlord passes away leaving 3 sons to continue the claim: one son wants to walk away from the building entirely, another wants to split the ownership with the squatters for the sake of settlement and peace, the third wants to continue the claim until the squatters are removed or submit to the ownership of the landlord as tenants only. In the meantime, some of the squatters and some of the brothers of the squatters continue to claim full ownership to the apartment building. What should the sons do?

      In my mind it is clear, that to split ownership would never eliminate or settle the ultimate claim of the squatters and their brothers to full ownership. Once the squatters become part-owners, new and additional claims for further ownership and control will continue with the help of the outside brothers –who will likely be allowed to reside and share in the apartment units controlled by the squatters (who are now owners) and in parts of the common areas. The landlord’s ownership, which he settled for the sake of peace and failed to pursue to the fullest, is now mangled, degraded and subject to further degradation and claim. The squatters as recognized owners and their brothers as invitees, will now create an environment so intolerable that the tenants of the landlord will fear walking through the common areas or even residing within their own apartments–they will ultimately leave the building and the squatters will ultimately prevail.

    If this analogy is correct, then the only solution is for the Israeli gov’t and the Jewish People (who should be entitled to consultation in any territorial action) should advocate and pursue the historic claim of the Jewish People to Jewish sovereignty in historic Jewish land. In addition, the arab’s Trojan Horse grievances should be exposed –e.g. they helped create and perpetuate the arab refugee claim. They also created the sephardi-jewish refugee problem, but the Israeli gov’t absorbed most of them. Can’t the arab gov’ts absorb their refugees too? Or, must it be perpetuated as a political tool in the conflict, an economic racket and pool for recruiting terrorists?

    It is clear that the Palestinian claim is the vanguard of the greater arab claim. Settlement of the palestinian claim will not resolve the greater claim– the arab/islamic nation’s claim to Tel Aviv and all Israel.

    It is foolish for Israel to define itself by trying to convince the arabs to “recognize” it; by trying to seek “peace” from those who have no conception of peace other than as a mirage which they will gladly sell at the highest extortionist prices.

    The Israelis see this “peace” mirage in the desert, and the arab desert-dwellers help perpetuate this illusion as an opportunity for extortion. They do not have true “peace” to sell–it does not exist in their culture, tribe or religion, especially for Jews.

    How can Israel prevail if it follows western law and sentiments while the arabs follow the law of the squatter and the jungle. The arab will of course evoke western law only when it is to their advantage. Meanwhile between themselves, their crafty leaders in arabic and with a wink, clue their populations into the latest trickery with which to prevail over the Jews and the west. Any mirage will be promised as long as the Israelis pay for it in land. No need for the arabs to go into all out war -which is doomed anyway– for what they can get by the slice, and by installment.

    Their ultimate objective is achievable especially as the dissension among the Jews and the acceptance by many Jews, Israelis and westerners of their Trojan Horse grievances, provides hope.

    No, only by drawing the line —no more peace process only battle -which the arabs respect and understand– and total victory with an Israeli imposed peace, will squelch, and only temporarily, the Islamic blood-lust for domination and control. Without an Islamic Reformation, this is an eternal conflict. Condoleeza Rice’s arrogance in trying to “end the conflict” is merely an attempt to keep the fires in that corner of the Mid-east down till Bush’s term is over and in the process gain great capital from the Saudis for Bush and company now and after they leave office.

  21. It is misleading and unhelpful to cast the issue of the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians as being one of whether or not Israel is under a duty to accept peace on Arab terms.

    Israel is not wrestling with that issue and no one, not even the Muslim world are suggesting Israel has such duty.

    The issue has always been bound up in the question what true and enduring peace is possible between Israel on the one hand and the Palestinians and the Arabs on the other given their opposing claims, interests, needs and aspirations, many of which are mutually exclusive?

    Finding answers to that question however has never been left to these main protagonists to sort out. Indeed the West has been forced to interject itself into the dispute by the Arabs who have global reach and power, not the least of which power is Arab oil.

    Westerners have always had a keen interest in how this Israel – Palestinian/Arab conflict plays out and turns out because Western interests have been put at risk by the Arabs, with the backing of most of the Muslim world.

    Arabs have used their power to create fear in the West that without Western support for the Palestinians and the Arab interests and goals, the Muslim world has the proven ability to put Western interests at grave risk. The Arab oil embargo of the early 1970’s is a painful memory that the West does not want to live through again.

    The rising tide of anti-American and anti-Western sentiment washing over the Muslim Middle East because of events over the last number of years has only intensified Western concerns in that regard and spurred Western nations to push Israel even harder towards a peace solution that appears more and more to be a solution that would see form triumph over substance.

    In speaking recently about Israel’s committment to pursuing peace discussions with the Palestinians, the Olmert government has stated that even with a peace agreement reached that sees an independent Palestinian state coming into existence, the conflict and Palestinian terrorism will still continue.

    It is not that Olmert wants a peace agreement for Israel that will allow Palestinian hatred of Jews and Israel to continue. Rather his government’s expectations, by virtue of the various world political and economic forces weighing against Israel have forced Israel to lower her expectations as to what a peace solution will bring.

    In the result peace for Israel with the Palestinians and Arabs is not a matter of Israel having a duty to accept peace on Arab terms. Rather it is a matter of Israel being forced by powers greater then her to accept some semblance of peace that will bring at least a reduction in her enemy’s hostile and terrorist attacks on her which hopefully will present a sufficient change in circumstance that Israel might be able to strengthen enough and garner greater world and especially Western support to build such no peace – no war situation into a real peace somewhere, sometime down the road.

  22. How about the Arabs agree to defensible borders as promised by Res 242

    They can’t, as that would negate completely the possibility of creating their state, and of course it undermines the actual agenda of eliminating Israel entirely.

    It’s handy for the intractable to have two competing goals…they never have to make any progress.

  23. Moshe A. sends this from Israel

    Shalom, Ted,

    Everybody talks about the importance of compromise. Well, compromise is a great idea; the trouble is that our “negotiating partners” on the Arab side don’t know the meaning of that word. It’s not in their lexicon. Note, for example, that even when we negotiated peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, there was no territorial compromise involved – in either case. They did make an important ideological concession to us in acknowledging our right to be integrated in the Middle East family of nations. Sadat in particular courageously articulated this point when he spoke in the Knesset; and he paid for that with his life. BUT, I REPEAT, THERE WAS NO TERRITORIAL COMPROMISE. The Egyptians had to get every last inch of the Sinai; and the border with Jordan was fixed along the Jordan River (the Jordanians themselves had earlier given up any claims to Judea/Samaria).

    There’s another problem with the Palestinian Arabs’ negotiating tactics. It would be bad enough if they just (as you said) stuck stubbornly to their maximal conditions. But they have been known, on a number of occasions (as in the Oslo talks, for instance), to take a position and then, when the Israeli negotiators approached that position, or indicated that they might agree to it, backtrack and take a harder stance. That makes negotiating a nigh-impossible task, unless you’re ready to just throw in the towel!

    Keep up the good work!

  24. A funny thing happened to Israel on the way to being big players on Wall Street and NasdaQ. We got lost as a nation and as a unified caring people.

    There was a time and not so long ago at that when an elderly person had to stand on a bus half the bus would offer them their seat. If a soldier were Hitching he would have little trouble getting a lift.

    arguments in public were not uncommon with no resulting consequences now people are afraid to open their mouths for fear of getting stabbed as a result. Violent crime has almost surpassed property crime. people would drop in without notice and would be received without a second thought as it was common place Israeli chutzpa. Not so anymore we have become civilized.

    There was a time when going out was a walk downtown or along the beach, Now except for the very young and elderly nobody seems to walk anymore . The automobile has won out.

    There was a time when being an officer in IDF was looked upon in near reverence, not so today! there was a time not so long ago that most sought after occupation was being a full member of Egged bus co op, no longer the case. Lawyers, Businessman, Hi-tec entrepreneurs pop entertainers and fashion models top the list today

    There was a time when higher education was a valued commodity for the sake of being educated today they are factories producing educated idiots for sole purpose of getting best paying jobs(career move). Our streets are cleaner, health spas booked solid, Shushi bars full, night clubs packed bars full and drunk driving and common use of drugs has reached western levels if not surpassed.

    The changes in our society and our view of ourselves happened concurrently with our security situation and our economic development. What should have been a positive societal reality became a big negative , partly due to the structure as the rich got richer which made the poor become poorer so we have a situation similar to the worst of S. America.

    The left blames all our problems on the occupation and preaches evacuation of territories as the panacea for all our ills . Over time our incompetent politicians have adopted this mantra rather than admit personal culpability. This is why to a large extent the lefts message is so persuasive . Its just easier for all the politicians to blame it all on the occupation which becomes policy on either side of our political divide.

  25. Bill Levinson and Alex Eisenberg have it right ! There is only one way to deal with a bully and that’s to hit back as hard as necessary until he/she sees the light of day which in this case has to be that Israel will survive no matter what it takes.

    Diaspora Jews are only safe as long as there is an Israel and Israel can only survive by standing up for itself. Our existence (Israel’s and mine) is not and should not ever be a negotitating point.

  26. Hello Ted,

    Despite Yamit’s strong wording, he/she is right, for good or for bad. When it comes to their relationship to other peoples, Jews (Israeli leaders included) continue to have precisely the same ghetto mentality that they had until the establishment of Israel. Both Islam and Christendom have been viewing Jews as inferiors since the inception of both, just like white Americans and Europeans view blacks and Latin Americans as inferior to them – and they have never changed their sick minds except for a couple of exceptions. It’s useless to talk of compromise with people who are educated to view Jews as natural inferiors, and therefore unworthy of ruling over anyone.

    Israelis are mostly just as ignorant of Jewish history as diaspora Jews. The reason for this is simple: they are taught (except for the religious nationalist minority) they must be a nation like all other nations. And they behave that way all over the world, entirely blind to the fact that the other nations refuse to view them that way. This is a repetition of the Haskalah phenomenon, which gave rise to modern orthodoxy and reform in the 19th century. The only difference, a big one, is that Haskalah had the advantage of earning Jews access to secular education as well, whereas Israelis already have that and are not in need of kissing other peoples’ asses for survival, as they do with the US and Europe. The typical kiss-ass mentality that Israelis have in common with the so-called third world countries is a consequence of bad education, which teaches a bad ideology.

    None of the above has anything to do with rightwing or leftwing politics. It has to do with choosing where you belong as a person (insofar as this is still a possibility). Israel (the people and its state) does pose a huge philosophical and ideological problem to the West: since Jewish identity is defined exclusively by Jewish religion and the Torah ideology (any other definition means a non-Jewish grandchild and assimilation), and given that one of the most basic premises of democracy is religious and ideological tolerance, the West cannot tolerate the existence of a state whose nationhood is defined by its religion and yet claims to be a democracy. This is one of the reasons why Israel is doomed. Israel’s leaders are capable of relinquishing their country to genocidal enemies in their desperate and ridiculous ‘democracy’ showoff, as if Western powers were any concerned about democracy outside of their troubled countries. Islam does try to be a worldwide religion-based state, but Western ideologues have no problem with that because Islam is overtly fascistic.

    I have been saying for a good number of years that no nation is more Christian than Jews. Jews have been giving the other cheek for 2000 years and are repeatedly crucified every century. No Christian nation has ever been so Christian. It is therefore just natural that Islam and Christendom (no matter how secular the latter has become) will react every time the old Jewish nation raises its head in hope of… equality! But this is the Jewish mental equivalent of Tay-Sachs or worse. When Jews who have a country and the military means and the intelligence to defeat a genocidal enemy, who is about to make them suffer just another genocide, simply turn the other cheek and wait for the vultures to eat them, it must be obvious that they suffer from a fatal mental Tay-Sachs. This is unique in its dimension.

    Conclusion: there is no good third way in the face of mortal danger. Either you fight against it with all your forces and try to survive, or you perish… or you cowardly flee as from Gaza, in the most spectacular broadcast of the turn-the-other-cheek piety of the 21st century to date. I find it mind-boggling that so many Israelis were proud of the Gaza expulsion spectacle, as if the world were looking at it as a unique demonstration of ‘courage’ and ‘compliance’ with international accords (that is, ‘obedience’ to their American and European masters).

    Question: what will Israelis do (other than swimming to Cyprus) when they are reduced to a big concentration camp around Tel-Aviv and no more fight is possible?

  27. PSALM 44 “You sell Your nation for no fortune, and You did not inflate their price; You make us a disgrace to our neighbors, the mockery and scorn of those around us; You make us a byword among the peoples, a cause for the nations to shake their heads.”</blockquote>

  28. Why is the World more concerned over the Palis than with the Basques Esukadi One way Israel might take the pressure of the world off our Backs would be to go all out on a major campaign in favor of Basque independence! THINK ABOUT IT

    Actually, it would not be a bad idea to support some movements just to make the point on how wrong the world is to go out of its way to support those who want to destroy Israel – like Palestinians and Hezbollah and Fatah and Hamas.

    There is no end to the list of unsavory movements that would benefit from Israeli support. If support of these movements make the US cringe, well, it could be explained away as a change in intelligence – we no longer find that these groups are pursuing terrorism on a full-time basis; they stopped in 2003.

    Let’s do all we can to support enemies of Russia. That would make Russia – the supplier of nuke hardware, enriched uranium and expertise to the Iranians wake up.

    All of this would not only make the countries who have been funding, supporting and arming enemies of Israel take note; it would also have the collateral benefit of weakening those same movements because, obviously, an endorsement from Israel would be the kiss of death for them because Islamic countries and others would no longer give them the same attention and support if Israel were to appear to be on their side.

  29. Yid with a Lid writes,

    It is incredible what political simpletons Jews are. They shut their eyes to
    one of the most elementary rules of life, that you must not “meet halfway”
    those who do not want to meet you.

    –Ze’ev Jabotinsky, The Iron Wall November 4, 1923

  30. OK, I will say it I don’t want peace! Not if the peace requires me or us to have to pay for it.. How can you buy peace? Is what we have here a simple border dispute like with India and Pakistan or hundreds of other countries around the globe? Or does it go beyond simple real estate disputes? I challenge anyone reading this to give me an example of a real peace made between warring adversaries where the side who won in war begs the defeated to take back what was lost by them and to top it off is willing to pay for the privilege? Then the defeated side refuses to take the generous offer by the victors and demands even more. The winner in trying to co-opt the loser into accepting his generous and magnanimous offer gets defecated upon by the weak loser but not only does he ignore this stinking behavior he declares to all that it isn’t defecation but just common brown rain.

    We all know the story of the swindler who kept selling the Brooklyn Bridge over and over and we came up with the canard THAT THERE IS A SUCKER BORN EVERY DAYAre we the perennial suckers? As a writer with whom I just became acquainted with said in an excellent article
    Before any of us run all googly over prospect of this or any other PEACE PROCESS, I suggest we all pause for a few seconds and define for ourselves what ea. of us thinks the word peace means within the context of Israeli Arab dispute. Then with that done demand that our leaders define what it means to ea. of them and then compare notes. I think this process can be an eye opener for all of Us WHO NEEDS PEACE!

  31. by email

    This fellow’s point of view is symptomatic of those who control the levers of power in Israel.
    Apparently, he cannot distinguish between right and wrong, up and down or left and right.
    He is a preacher of moral equivalence.
    There is no justification for negotiating with Arab-Muslim Nazis.
    There is only total victory for the nation of Israel.
    The Arab Muslims have time, resources and world sympathy on their side.
    This probably will not change.
    In order to survive, Israel must assert herself and do that which she must.
    The type of fellow who wrote this response to you makes me want to vomit.

  32. Invaders enter your home in the middle of the night threaten to kill all of your family but then suddenly recant when they hear that you 25 yr, pro football player might be home at any moment with some of his teammates and offer you a quick take or it leave it deal they will only kill 2 of your children or your wife which choice do you make?

    This is almost the equivalent deals the Arabs and the West expect Israel to make. But like the first scenario we all know that after the fun of watching us squirm they will kill us all no matter what we decide to do!

    So all of your talk of compromises do not hold water even if you could take the religious component out of the equation which in the end you can’t!

  33. Most of you Jews in the Galut remind me of the Israeli Kibbutz movement. This movement began with a purpose an ideology, and an idealism that was all but groundbreaking in their prime. Today they do not exist for any practical reason except in name and ownership of a lot of land. They lost a reason to be so they are not, but in their heyday they controlled Israel as much if not more than any other sector of our society. The Jews in the Galut have pretty much lost any reason to exist as a community and thus cannot keep its future generation within the fold.

    It seems to me in the light of history No ism lasts very long except one and that is real Judaism. It also is evident that all popular isms of the past century and a half were transcendental. They arose with a big bang and exited with a whimper.

    Now for most posters and readers to this blog may be considered pro Israel (and I am sure they are) they view our situation for the most part as a near normal political and geopolitical problems that can be solved as with most normal political and geopolitical problems) This means not entertaining Maximalist positions and a willingness to make some compromises for what even they believe will be peace in our time!

    Except that as Jews and I don”t mean the aberrations of Reform and conservatives mostly in America who know not their Judaism but those who believe and practice their Judaism, Any Idea of the relinquishing any part of the Land of Israel to foreigners and enemies is Blasphemous.

    They believe that the State is not the owner of the Land of Israel but its caretaker and Guardian, as it belongs to the whole Jewish People and their progeny in perpetuity.

    How do we then reconcile these positions those that will give up all for a dream and a promise, those that will make limited compromises and those like me who say not one inch and mean it?

    How can we come to a unified position when there is no unity among ourselves?

    How sad it is that the demand by our leaders of our enemies to first recognize Israel as a Jewish State when it is not and far from being a Jewish State?

    Jewish Law requires us to go to war conquer the enemy, and then either kill them or accept them as vassals providing they accept the 7 Noahide commandments. Then there will be peace!!!!

    Comment by yamit82 ISRAEL

  34. You are absolutely right Gary. I referred to this when I said the Arabs weren’t offering peace.

    But there is another thing.

    What is the commodity that Jews have for sale? Is it the land between the greenline and the Jordan or is it Israel itself as a Jewish state? The world refers to the occupied land as the former whereas the Arabs refer to it as the later. We know for a fact that it is the latter the Arabs want but let us assume its the former. Now my interlocutor speaks of “compromises”. The Saudi Plan wants 100% of the land with exchanges. Until such time as there is a sign of compromise, there can be no confidence that the Arabs want peace. When you demand 100% you want victory. If the Arabs were to say they will settle for 80% of the land then we have something to talk about even though Jews will then be giving up 80% of their biblical heartland. Jews want peace that much.

    If the Arabs recognized that the claim of the Jews to Jerusalem is far more just then the Arab claim and as a result ceded it, that would be a sign of peaceful intentions. If the Arabs recognized Israel and its right not to take back any hostages for peace (refugees) that would also be a sign of peaceful intentions.

  35. I think that your analogy is instructive and accurate but it only partially captures the essence of the problem (which is impossible to understand fully) of dealing with the Palestinians/Arab countries.

    The problem is that even if Israel offered them the full asking price of $100, then that would not be enough. It would represent a down payment on Israel’s eventual demise. If at any time the Arabs decided that they needed more than the full price, they would have no hesitation entering your home as a break and entry and holding you or your family ransom for additional money were they in need of it or just for the fun of terrorizing you (and killing you) for profit.

    The worst part of any deal, as you point out, is that the arbitrators and referees are on the side of the bullies because the bullies have something that the arbitrators want (oil and the kind of peace that will put them on the same side as the bullies who control the resources the referees need).

    There is also something else going on with this peace process and that is the assumption that Israel is invincible and that it really does not need anything (whether we are talking about the symbolic low value of $25 or the asking price of $100). The perception that Israel can afford to give up her security, her land and her sovereignty is a falsehood that Israel has helped to create. By not insisting on parity before entering into negotiations, Israel has created the impression that peace and land and all Islamic crazy demands are for Israel to give/deliver and the other side to take and then insist on more. There is a sense that Israel is the corporation about to give the company away to violent workers backed by others who have similar violent workers in their companies whom must be appeased and satisfied before they violently do the same.

    The only way to come to any understanding or agreements with Arab countries is to exchange peace for peace, not land for peace. If, in the process it makes sense to allocate or trade land for land or other possible solutions, then it will proceed from a mutual respect and once there is a cessation of jihad and extremism which is in effect a tactic designed to hold Israel ransom that has worked because there has not been an equally strong response from Israel to achieve parity at this time.

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