Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I can't let this pass over without posting.

Here is a copy of a comment I left on Rav Harry's blog, Emet v Emunah, concerning his most recent post discussing Netanyahu's declaration that Jerusalem is not a "settlement."

Last night my husband and I and many other members of the Jewish community attended a lecture and reception at the University. The speaker was Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PA legislature, and the community here is quite upset over her speech. To sum it up plainly, her words to us were: "Jerusalem is a palestinian city!" During the two hour event Ms. Ashrawi repeatedly asserted that Jews had no historical link to the land of Israel, did not admit to any right of Israel to exist as a nation, and her narrative of the last 70 years sounded as if they were Amish pacifists who had been brutally enslaved and occupied by rabid bulldogs. There was not one bit of admission of terrorism or violence on her side - to her Israel is evil incarnate and it was clear by her omissions and direct statements that the Arabs have no intention whatsoever of having peace with Israel. These absurd claims and revisionist history and bald face lies were heard by an auditorium of several hundred people, including top organizational leaders of the multi-county area Jewish community, that sat there dumbfounded. Her speech was supposed to be "part two" of a dialog that began with a visit from Olmert last fall - a visit in which he came out in support of a two state solution. Ms. Ashrawi indicated she did not believe in one. What we got out of her words (though it was not directly stated) was that until all Jews are either exterminated or fled from Israel, they will continue to "resist." The community here is very upset. These are not the words of a "peace partner," though Ms. Ashrawi is supposed to be "for peace." It was particularly insulting for her to say that our claim to Jerusalem, Hebron, etc., should have nothing to do with religion - so what exactly is their claim to the Temple Mount about, if not religion? It was insulting to our intelligence and far more of us came out of the University grounds seriously kicking around statements about "expulsions" and "deportations" than about any two-state solution. There certainly isn't going to be any real peace with this people.

And finally this is a note I received from Rabbi Marc Angel. The first part of my email to him was about something else, then I added my frustration regarding this incident. His reply invokes Passover:

...Hanan Ashrawi is a terrible person, highly anti-Israel and very aggressive. It is a pity that she gets invited to speak anywhere. Her tone is always hostile to Israel, and extremely unfair.

Don't be discouraged! When confronted with hatred and ugliness, the Jewish response is to be optimistic, and focused on the future. Israel's wellbeing, fortunately, does not depend on Hanan Ashrawi. It depends on Israel remaining strong, courageous, and democratic. It depends on our loyalty and commitment. Whenever I read an anti-Israel article or hear an anti-Israel diatribe, I go out and buy Israeli made products or invest in Israeli stocks. The way we defeat the enemy is by building and strengthening Israel. Send emails to friends and acquaintances in Israel, and offer your words of support and encouragement.

In spite of the many anti-israel articles and speakers, the American public remains highly supportive of Israel by a large margin. We need to remember that, and build on that. Support the work of AIPAC. Support your local pro-Israel politicians. Get your friends and neighbors to do likewise.

In the Haggadah that we'll be reading in a few days, we are reminded that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt for centuries. And yet, God redeemed them, and gave them the Ten Commandments. This tiny ex-slave people changed human civilization for the better. We've always had enemies to confront--and we've always ultimately won, and done great things for humanity. We will continue to win long after Hanan Ashrawi and her likes are long forgotten. Please feel free to pass along this message to your friends and neighbors who may find it of value. Best wishes.

Rabbi Marc D. Angel, Founder and Director
Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals
8 West 70th Street
New York, NY 10023
212 362 4764

Amen. While relocalization is a laudable goal - one that we personally pursue - Jews also need to support each other, collectively, of course (as I have also written previously and as Rabbi Angel here reiterates). "Rugged individualism" is just "divide and conquer" in disguise. We are far stronger standing together than standing alone, and standing with God is even better.

Have a wonderful Pesach. Shalom!

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