What a sick charade. Sick, because no one in the democratic party seemed the least put out when Obama demoted Jerusalem to secondary status leaving Israel sliced like a watermelon, exposed, vulnerable, and there for the taking.
No. What went on yesterday was the opposite of democracy not even so much because the mayor of LA overruled the majority, but because it became so apparent that the only issue here was how Obama would win his election. In school, we were taught that politicians stood for something; that they had moral standards, that they cared for vital issues - anything. Not so today my fellow Americans. Today, anything and everything is up for grabs. Democracies, allies of the US, are sold - or simply thrown away, as disposable as used teabags. Obama had Israel's back on the day he addressed Aipac. Not so the day after. His policies have demonstrated his indifference to Israel's stand on the Arab Israeli conflict, as on the very real existential threat that Iran has issued - and that is his right.He is entitled to his vision for the future of the US - though treating Israel's President with the disdain that he did, when Natanyahu came calling, went way beyond political choice. However, scrambling as he did yesterday to replace Jerusalem on Israel's map crossed all acceptable standards. Jerusalem, America's pawn, has been put back on the chessboard for today, but what about tomorrow? Where will Obama stand then? Then he will stand, as he does today, firmly and staunchly, for himself.
The Human Face of Conflict www.Israelathebook.com
The Iranian threat hangs heavy over Israel as the Jewish New Year draws near. May God help our leaders, our military, and our people.Please read Donniel Hartman's article below:
As this New Year approaches, I find myself having difficulty concentrating on my failures and shortcomings, which have been amply exhibited in the past year. This is neither the result of false self-righteousness nor a weakness of will. My difficulty stems from the fact that I find myself increasingly engulfed by concern for the year that is dawning. In particular, anxiety over a potential Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites. Like most of us, I have no inside knowledge of Israel’s capacity to pull off such an attack; nor do I know whether success will merely delay or permanently set back a nuclear Iran. I am not in possession of the secret position papers which analyze the potential short- and long-term consequences of either a successful attack or a nuclear Iran. I don’t even know whether the ensuing bombardment of Israel’s cities will result in “only” 500 civilian casualties, as Defense Minister Ehud Barak is reported to have stated, or whether the consequences in lives and well-being will be far more significant. Given the fact that there is so much that I do not know, I have hesitated for months to write about Iran, leaving this arena to others – who also do not know.
Who will live and who will die? Blowing the shofar in Lifta, near Jerusalem (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)
As the New Year approaches, however, I have been reminded that the purpose of teshuva is not merely to repent for past mistakes but to reflect on one’s future and to commit to avoiding making new ones. In this context silence is also a position, and one that I am increasingly uncomfortable with.
There is much that I do not know, but there is also much that I do. I know that a nuclear Iran poses grave dangers to much of the world, to its interests in the Middle East, be they political, moral, or economic. I know that a nuclear Iran is dangerous for Israel and significantly increases the threats that we must confront. I know that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ministers of his government are serious people who in the end will always place the well-being of Israel ahead of their political futures and self-interests. I know that Israel will only choose to attack when it feels sufficiently endangered and after military assessments that such an attack will likely succeed.
While I know all of the above, I not only have increased trepidation but serious questions about the legitimacy of such an attack, for there are other things that I also know. I know that blind faith and trust in any human institution is a mistake, a mistake that we Israelis have inclined to in the past, in particular when it comes to the institution of the military and our government, when security issues are at stake. We have discovered all too well that our military is flawed and that individuals in leadership can make wrong decisions despite their good intentions. The blood of our family members has taught us that we are most loyal and loving when we challenge our leadership and when we have a healthy dose of skepticism with regard to Israel’s military might.
I also know that there are multiple obligations if one is to comply with the conditions of just warfare. Just war theory limits military action to instances of self-defense. It allows for a measure of preemptive attacks when the threat is approximating actualization and all other measures have been exhausted. Like most Israelis, I am not concerned with the legitimacy of attacking Iran from the perspective of the harm it would cause Iranians. Their deceitful pursuit of nuclear weapons, their ongoing participation and support for terror and the murder of Israelis and Jews, and the continuous declarations of their leadership calling for the destruction of Israel, have created, I believe, sufficient grounds for classifying a preemptive attack as self-defense and thus legitimate and just.
The conditions of just war, however, do not apply only to the Iranians, but also to Israel’s citizens, who themselves would be put in harm’s way. The covenant we Israelis have with our army is that it is not merely subordinate to the government but to the citizens who are drafted into its service. We willingly endanger ourselves and our children only to the extent that our military maintains its mission, which is embedded in its name, the Israel Defense Forces. The standard of just war for Israeli society requires not merely the existence of a threat but the knowledge that military force is to be used only as a measure of last resort, only when all other measures have been exhausted, and only when there is a high level of certainty that the new threat which will ensue is not greater than the threat being eliminated.
A man tries on a gas mask at a distribution center in Jerusalem, July 25 , 2012 (photo credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)
While I do not know with certainty the answer to whether these conditions have been met, I do know that too many of the most serious people within our defense establishment in the immediate past and the present believe that these conditions have not been met. It is not clear that economic sanctions have failed. It is not clear that an attack will do more than merely delay Iran’s nuclear capabilities. It is not clear that Israel has the military capacity to attack Iran alone and succeed. It is not clear that the consequences of such an attack on Israeli lives and life in Israel will not be catastrophic. With so much that is unclear, I do not feel that the criteria of just war have been met.
I know that, as a general rule, when one thinks that one is the only one who “gets it,” in all probability one does not. Those who think so, more often than not have fallen prey to the sin of arrogance and self-righteousness. I know that Israel has real friends in the world and that a nuclear Iran concerns not merely us but many of our allies. Consequently, I believe that if we have to act alone, we probably shouldn’t.
I do not envy our prime minister, who as the democratically elected leader of Israel has not merely the responsibility but the legal right to make decisions which hold Israel’s survival in the balance. In a democracy, we the citizens, however, are the true sovereign, and our leadership serves at our pleasure, and the majority of Israelis have come out over and again against an attack by Israel alone. Our voices do not count merely at the ballot box but every day.
As we approach the New Year, I who know very little believe that I know enough to say: No. Let us not merely repent for past mistakes but learn from them and employ military options only as a truly last resort, and even then with great hesitation, skepticism, and humility. Only then will our Defense Forces be true to its name and the standards of justice met not merely toward the Iranians but to us Israelis, as well.
I’m delighted to welcome Batya Casper for today’s interview. You’ll discover more about her work and background at the end of the interview.
If you hadn’t been a writer, what would you have been? While I have always loved writing, my career has been that of theater director, teacher, and actor.
What single book has marked your life? If I am forced to choose a single book of the many that have influenced me, I’d have to say Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, despite the fact that I’ve not read it in many years.
What do you wish to do before dying? I want to see my children happy.
Would we recognize who you are today in your childhood self I was too withdrawn and scattered to demonstrate much promise as a child yet, looking back, I see that I’ve become the logical conclusion of what I was then.
What brings you joy? Hiking in the hills of California brings me joy. Walking along the beach in Israel brings me joy. Breakfasting overlooking the Mediterranean. The northern parts of Israel afford me extreme joy. My children bring me ultimate joy –tempered, most times, with my own angst.
Do you believe your writing will be of service to the Jewish people? Is this idea one that matters to you, or is your mission less particular? I trust that the Jewish people will flourish without my input. My aim in Israela, however, was to counteract the black/white media reports that have become so familiar to us and that are so dehumanizing, with stories of a life-loving people haunted on a daily basis by excruciatingly difficult moral and ethical problems. I want my readers to live for a while with individuals who comprise the people of Israel, and to recognize themselves in them.
Beyond subject matter, and the identity of the writer, what characteristics, if any, do you believe contribute to making a publication “Jewish?” I believe that Jewish writing, as any other Jewish art form, is derived from a uniquely Jewish experience, in the same way as Catholic, African American, or Native American writings are informed by theirs. Its use of language, humor and behavior is the expression of a world view derived from its unique history and experience.
What are you afraid of? I’m afraid of conflict in the Middle East. I’m afraid of hatred and violence. I fear for the future of Israel.
Advice for other writers reading this interview? Write to express your passions, your hopes and your fears. Write because you have to, because you cannot not write.
More about Israela:
In my heart, I call to their mothers, ‘Take your sons to your houses. Bind them to your chairs; gag them, blindfold them if necessary until they grow calm. Then teach them, for they have forgotten, about peace, about the blessed life, about a future—a present—without pain.’ Beneath their prayers, in their morning cups of coffee, beneath their love-making and their child-rearing, and in their sorrow, especially in their sorrow when burying their dead, I hear the simmering of heating souls; I smell the charge of armies, of lives exploding uselessly into smithereens. I sit in mourning over a disaster still to come.In Israel, the lives of three women interweave with the story of their country. Ratiba, an Israeli journalist, turns her back on her heritage to marry an Israeli Arab. Her sister Orit, an actor, lives alone and longs for her lost sister. Elisheva is a nurse who dedicates her life to the wounded and the dying. As their lives unfold, the three women find themselves facing choices they would never have envisioned. This is a story of secrets and alienation, yet also of hope and heroism. It is about Arabs who save Jews from disaster and Jews who heal Arabs. It is the story of everyday people torn and desperately searching for the right path. Here, the ancient pulsates in present time and the biblical holds prominence with the secular. Beneath this modern-day drama unfolds the story of a land and its people, revealing the historical trajectory of two peoples, victims and perpetrators of a biblical curse. ‘This perceptive, poignant novel offers a fresh and essential outlook on Israel. With memorable characters and an abundance of drama, Israela is gripping reading.’ – Lou Aronica, New York Times bestselling author
Batya Casper was born in Scotland, spent her early childhood in England, lived for a couple of years as a young adult in South Africa, and has lived on both coasts of the US. Still, for the most part, she grew to adulthood in Israel. She moved to the United States as an adult, has a BA in English literature, and a Masters and Ph.D. in theater Arts from UCLA. Her first published book was a work of theater criticism: Electra: A Gender Sensitive Study of the Myth Based on the Plays (Mcfarland & Co. Publishers, 1995).
Thanks for the great interview, Batya. Readers: please check out her fascinating book. Your comments are always welcome!
Amil wrote: "I am deeply grateful for your understanding of historical events. A seminal achievement of Cyrus the Great is his pioneer work in promotion of human rights. Using the power of his office to good effect, he decreed a universal charter for human rights for all people. The king’s edict for equality of rights for all people served advancing the social and cultural precepts of the diverse people throughout the vast expanse of his empire. Although ethnically Persian, the benevolent king considered himself a trustee of the diverse nationalities of his kingdom. Parochialism and ethnocentrism were alien to this visionary monarch.
An illustration of the benevolent beliefs and practices launched by this great historical visionary is his landmark action 539 B.C. Having conquered Babylon, the benevolent King Cyrus freed the Jews from captivity and empowered them to return to the Promised Land and build their temple.
For his acts of kindness, Cyrus the Great is immortalized in the Bible in several passages and is called “the anointed of the Lord.” The Jews, throughout recorded history, looked to Cyrus’ people, the Iranians, as their friends and protectors against oppressors such as the Seleucids and the Romans.
Cyrus the Great is deeply revered for his great tolerance and just treatment of the conquered nations in his vast empire. He is celebrated, to this day, by the generality of mankind for enshrining fundamental human rights in his Cylinder as the standard for his time and for all times.
In the same way that Cyrus the Great considered all people members of the same human family, the human family of today holds the great trailblazer of human rights as one of its own. The vast plateau that Iran is its heartland at the present has been inhabited by the most diverse people of any region of the planet. Yet, in adherence to the lofty principles of Cyrus, these people found unity in diversity. They have remained loyal to their own unique heritage and successfully linked it to a larger loyalty. The present Iran is a living testimony to this remarkable togetherness where ethnic Persians, Turkic, Kurds, Lurs, Turkmen, Baluchis, Arabs, and others live as one people: a great template for the entire world to emulate.
For some 1400 years the viral disease of Islamism has been devouring the very fabric of our nation and our identity. Millions and generations of our people have paid dearly and often with their lives for this affliction visited upon us. Yet, millions and generations have bravely managed to retain the identity and values that make us proud to be Cyrus’s descendants.
As Iranians, it is propitious at this time to take stock of our present condition and to renew our resolve to do all we must and is in our power to rescue Iran from the suffocating quagmire of Islamism and return our nation to its rightful historic place: A place in the vanguard of a civilized world where justice and liberty rule supreme for the entirety of humanity."","type":22}">
Amil Imani GERMANY: Rabid Muslims beat up Rabbi in front of his young daughter
Anti-Semitism in parts of Europe with large Muslim immigrant populations is at the level of pre-WWII. Most Europeans do not support Israel, but 'Palestine.'
The Jewish Press reports that the final vestige of the 2,000 year old Jewish presence in Egypt has been closed down, For us in the West, the Arab Israeli conflict is a topic for debate. In the Middle East, it is a growing and increasingly harsh reality. Soon, the only Jews in the Middle East will be in Israel, which is a good thing, and the reason that Jews must hold onto it. There are 23 Arab states, some of which have vast stretches of territory; but there is only one Jewish state, and it is no larger than Rhode Island.
A friend recently asked me why Israelis expect the US to "have their back." Why, he wanted to know, do Israelis believe that their relationship with the US is unique? The answer, clearly, is that the US' relationship with Israel is in no way unique. Politics and diplomacy are, at best, a self-interested process. Perhaps in the past, even the recent past, Israel's "friend" status in regards to the Arab Israeli conflict was granted because of its function as the single bastion of democracy in a volatile and irresponsible neighborhood. Obama's policy has been to woo fundamentalist Arab dictatorships in from the cold, to de-fang them, to humor them into being friends with the US and the West. It chooses to gloss over, or ignore, the intensely complex Arab culture which see the West as a threat to its own way of life.
The reason the US should stand up against Iran, its nuclear viability, and its threat to wipe Israel of the map, is not simply to help Israel (thought God knows, that would be nice, too,) but to protect democracies everywhere, not least, to protect US interests in the Middle East and the free world as we have known it, Let there be no doubt: America and its freedoms are threatened by Iran.
Author Batya Casper.