10 Av 5759 July 23, 1999 Issue number 227
Clinton Recycles Promises
Prime Minister Ehud Barak ended his visit in Washington Tuesday, after meeting with Vice President Al Gore and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. He flew from Washington to London, where he met with Prime Minister Tony Blair. American National Security Advisor Sandy Berger said Tuesday that Barak had raised the issue of Jonathan Pollard's release from prison during the talks. Berger said that this will not be part of the peace process. During his meetings with U.S. President Clinton, Prime Minister Barak requested that the U.S. compensate Israel for Wye-related damages, to the tune of billions of dollars. These sums are to cover funding for new settlements for those who will have to leave their homes in the Golan and in Yesha, advanced military equipment, and desalination plants. Clinton reportedly did not agree to give more than what he promised Netanyahu and Peres in the past, such as money for Arrow missile batteries and $1.2 billion for implementing Wye. The Palestinians, for their part, also claim to be unhappy with the Barak-Clinton meetings. They say that no timetable was set for Israeli withdrawals, and that Barak gave no iron-clad guarantee to cease Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria.
Syria expressed satisfaction with the positions Barak expressed in Washington, but is "waiting for concrete actions from Israel." Barak's advisors, too, are very happy with his meetings with U.S. President Clinton. Officials in the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem are concerned, however, with the tone emanating from Cairo. "Barak has driven a knife into the peace process," said Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mussa Tuesday. "A 15-month delay in implementing Wye will endanger the process," declared Yasser Arafat after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "Barak is attempting to link the implementation of the Wye withdrawals and the final status talks," Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reported Wednesday, "but Mubarak is making life tough for him. Barak would like to carry out certain aspects of Wye, such as the passage-route [through Israel] from Gaza to Judea and Samaria, and the freeing of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, but he will try to push off the withdrawals because of the security problems they present." Huberman says that Barak may, if he feels he has to, suggest dropping certain demands from the Palestinians, such as their commitment to collect illegal weapons, in order to delay the withdrawals. "What is infuriating the Prime Minister's office is that Hosni Mubarak is inciting Arafat to harden his postures, just as he did during the Netanyahu years," said Huberman. He noted that any planned withdrawals in Judea and Samaria would have to be re-mapped, as the previous Netanyahu-government maps were never totally agreed upon, nor were they presented to the Palestinians.
Regarding the Arab refugees, Barak told an American television interviewer yesterday, "I don't think that the refugees will be able to return to Israel under any circumstances. A better solution should be found for them in the countries in which they are currently living." (Arutz 7 July 20,21)
Barak and U.S. President Clinton have agreed that over the next 15 months they will effect a "breakthrough in the peace process." The deadline is apparently based around the upcoming American elections in November 2000, as well as on Barak's promise to withdraw from Lebanon within a year and American promises that final-status talks will take place around the same time. The next three steps on the diplomatic agenda involve a Barak-Arafat meeting right after Barak's return from the U.S., a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Albright to the Middle East, and a trip by Barak to Europe and the U.S. "The setting of a deadline for the end of the talks is a grave error, since it will serve as a lever by which to pressure Israel to make concessions" said MK Silvan Shalom, who served as Deputy Defense Minister in the Netanyahu government, criticizing Barak's haste. "Within a few days after taking office, he has already met with Arafat, Mubarak, Abdullah, and Clinton, without having studied the matter, without having held a government meeting on the matter, and he is already telling us that within such-and-such time there will be an agreement... This is no way to do things." It has also been reported that Barak has not even read the position papers prepared for him by his staff, preferring instead to "take a fresh approach to the matter." (Aruth 7 July 18)
Transparent Syrian Requests
Reports from Syria that it has asked terrorist groups in Lebanon to cut back on their anti-Israel activity have been denied and minimized from various quarters. Hizbullah says that such reports are "not worthy of reaction," and the organization is in fact continuing to operate as usual. Arab affairs expert Dr. Guy Bechor told Arutz 7 that it could be that Syria has asked terrorists such as Ahmed Jibril and Naif Hawatme to stop their terrorist tactics and transfer their field of activity to the political arena - "but these two have been out of the terrorism business for a while already, since they barely have any organizations backing them up. I would like to see Syria publicly direct these calls to Hamas and Hizbullah! Hamas leaders sit in Damascus and issue orders to their agents in the territories [Judea and Samaria], and Hizbullah is active against Israel in Lebanon. It is clear that the Syrians' only interest is to have themselves erased from the American list of 'terrorism-sponsoring countries,' such that they can receive sorely-needed American aid." Arutz 7's Haggai Segal asked him, "What does it do to Syrian President Hafez Assad when he hears Ehud Barak talk about peace within 15 months?" "It presents him with a great dilemma," answered Bechor, "because his entire regime is based upon war with Israel. Open borders and Israeli tourists are not exactly what will help his regime survive, he feels. A period of 15 months is too short of a time for him to change his whole conception of his regime, and revamp his entire army and country. Assad is not [the late Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat who can suddenly in one day alter his entire conception. But we'll see, when Barak returns and we hear how Assad reacted, how the wind appears to be blowing."
Regarding a plan to lease the Golan from Syria, such that the Jewish communities would remain in place, Bechor said that this is a non-starter. "Syria sees itself as coming from a position of strength, and just like Egypt did not agree to such a plan in 1979, so too will Syria not agree to this now. This is as opposed to Jordan, which did agree to a plan of this nature, because it saw itself as needing Israel, and wished to contract a peace that would not be 'hard' for Israel. Unfortunately, the arrangements that can be made with the Palestinians and Jordan can most definitely not be made with Syria." (Arutz 7 July 20)
IDF Preparing for Wye
The IDF has already begun preparing for the next Wye withdrawal in Judea and Samaria. Surveying work was carried out today for construction of a new army base near the Palestinian Authority town of Jenin, adjacent to the Jewish community Shaked in northern Shomron. One of the regional army divisions currently stationed in Jenin will move to the new location, while other units will be redirected to the Salam roadblock, just east of Shaked. This split of forces is aimed at "providing maximum protection to the local Yesha communities," according to army sources. The Wye agreement establishes that future withdrawals will take place near Shechem and Ramallah, followed by the area near the Adorayim army base west of Hevron. (Arutz 7 July 19)
Arabs Stone Jews
Dozens of Palestinians rioted Tuesday at the Netzarim Junction, closing the intersection to Jewish traffic. They threw stones at an IDF checkpoint and at Israeli cars. The Palestinian para-military police did not intervene. IDF soldiers dispersed the rioters with rubber bullets. (Arutz 7 July 20)
Sarid Refuses Request to Respect Religious Sensibilities
"Me'ah She'arim is not a holy site." So said Education Minister Yossi Sarid Tuesday to a delegation of residents from the hareidi Jerusalem neighborhood. HaKol MeHashetach News Agency reports that they requested Sarid to ask his staffers in the Education Ministry - which borders on Me'ah She'arim - not to walk through their neighborhood in immodest dress. Women who work in the Ministry complained today that local women assaulted them after they [the workers] refused the locals' offer of shawls with which to cover themselves. The Israel Police encouraged the community leaders, including rabbis, in their decision to meet personally with Sarid. Sarid refused their request, and said that he will instruct his workers to dress as they wish. He added that he is considering providing security protection for his women workers. (Arutz 7 July 20)
Ben-Ami: New Gov't Also Against Orient House
Shlomo Ben-Ami, Minister of Public Security, said Monday that the new government's policy regarding the Orient House is no different than that of the previous government. "The Orient House cannot be a center of Palestinian diplomatic activity," he said. Ben-Ami said that a decision will soon be made whether to execute the closure orders on the building, but Ministry sources said that diplomatic activity there has already been greatly reduced of late. (Arutz 7 July 19)
Pollard in Ill Health
Jonathan Pollard's health is deteriorating. Serving a life sentence in a Butner, North Carolina prison for spying on behalf of Israel, Pollard was taken last week to Duke University Hospital for a CAT-Scan. Shackled in chains, Pollard was transported in a convoy of three armed vehicles, accompanied by eleven Special Operations guards in full combat gear. Pollard continues to suffer from extreme physical symptoms related to unbiopsied growths in his sinus cavities, and complains of nausea, dizziness, and blinding headaches. (Arutz 7 July 18)
Palestinian Hotel Village Planned
The Palestinians are planning an extensive tourist project in Gush Katif, with the declared intention of making life difficult for the Jewish residents there. Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that Palestinian sources say that the project will include a hotel and a gambling casino, although he added that Israeli security figures said they knew nothing about plans for a casino. At a ceremony marking the signing of a contract to fund the project between the relevant Palestinian Authority offices and the Palestinian governors of Khan Yunis and Rafiah last week, the latter announced that the purpose of the project is to "strengthen Palestinian presence as part of the struggle against the settlements." His colleague from Rafiah said that the fight against the settlements is one of the primary missions of the PA. Huberman notes that over two years ago, the PA submitted plans for Israeli approval regarding a tourist village all along the 5-kilometer Palestinian shoreline of Gush Katif. The plans called for three hotel-complexes of 180 rooms each. What made these "hotels" noteworthy was that each room was to be 100 square meters in size (over 1000 sq. ft.), thus that they could easily turn into full-scale apartments and, in the end, a new Palestinian residential area. The IDF has not yet approved or rejected the plans.. (Arutz 7 July 18)
Rabbi: Does Zionism Stop at Temple Mount Gates?
"A weighty Torah-school of thought is against the longings to enter the Temple Mount by natural means, with its accompanying questions of Jewish Law, and the alliance with the 'extremist nationalism' that is leading this move." Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, head of the Tsomet Institute, authored this accusation in the latest edition of one of the most popular weekly pamphlets - Shabbat B'Shabbato - distributed in synagogues throughout the country. He told Arutz 7, "During the early days of Zionism, similar things were said - that only the Messiah will redeem us, and that the Redemption will not be man-made, etc. I cannot understand why some feel that our historic return to our Homeland stops at the gates of the Temple Mount - not to mention the political aspects of ceding our rights to this holy site at this time..." Rabbi Rosen further said, "I cannot understand why some leaders from the Merkaz Harav trend of thought say that this topic should not be up for discussion. On the contrary: there are very important Halakhic [Jewish-legal] and ideological issues here, and they should be dealt with." In response, a student of the said "leaders" told an Arutz-7 correspondent that efforts to reclaim the Temple Mount must be made only after there is an "appropriate national spiritual readiness" for the cause, but that as it is now, these efforts only draw ridicule from most of the public. (Arutz 7 July 20)
Saddam Speaks out Against Israel
AP reports that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein said Saturday that Iraq will not give up its fight against Israel until the Jews leave the region or accept living as citizens under a Palestinian Arab state. "Palestine is Arab. The Zionists must depart from it," Hussein said, adding that other Arab leaders also felt the same way but are reluctant to tell the Israelis. This was the harshest public words Saddam has had for Israel since the 1991 Gulf War. (Arutz 7 July 18)
Israel Still Has Some Leverage
Israel has convinced the Americans - for now - to keep their peacekeeping forces in the Sinai peninsula. The Pentagon decided to accept the Israeli position, and to cancel a previous plan to reduce the American presence in the Sinai. Ha'aretz reports that over the past weeks, Pentagon officials had been claiming that there was no further need to maintain a military force to ensure the long-standing peaceful relations between Israel and Egypt. Israel, however, opposes any change in the multi-national troop deployment, as long as the peace with Egypt remains a "cold peace." The Pentagon finally decided to adopt the Israeli position, fearing that a reduction of the force would weaken the peace process. Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA notes that Israel "won" this round because it still has land 'chips', which the U.S. wants Israel to cede during upcoming negotiations. "This experience is of particular significance as Israel considers arrangements for a 'post chip' era in which it no longer has anything left to offer." (Arutz 7 July 18)
Zionist Women Protest Prize to Mrs. Clinton
The awarding of a prize to U.S. First Lady Hilary Clinton by Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization of America has upset many of its members. A symbolic membership card-burning ceremony was held last week across from the organization's headquarters in New York City, under the auspices of American Friends for a Safe Israel (AFSI). Speaking with Women in Green's Ruth Matar on Arutz-7 last night, AFSI Director Helen Freedman said that she was flooded with calls after Hadassah announced its intention to present its prestigious Henrietta Szold award to Mrs. Clinton. "Many women [joint members of Hadassah and AFSI] called us, asking, 'What are we going to do about this? This is outrageous!'" She noted with sadness that the 300,000 devoted members of Hadassah are currently being led by people who "seem to have forgotten" the organization's Zionist mandate. Hadassah's mission statement asserts that its volunteer members "are motivated and inspired to strengthen their partnership with Israel... Hadassah retains the passion and timeless values of its founder, Henrietta Szold... who was dedicated to Judaism, Zionism, and the American ideal." The anti-Israel bias of Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, is well-documented, according to journalist Steven Emerson, an expert on radical Islamic groups in the United States and author of the documentary "Jihad in America." Emerson told Arutz-7 three weeks ago that the First Lady - currently considering running for New York Senator - has established close ties with anti-Israel Muslim groups. "I have personally written about the many radical Islamic groups that have been embraced by, and invited to, the White House for celebrations and events," Emerson told Ruth Matar. "Mrs. Clinton herself has exhibited a tendency to embrace militant Islamic groups that support terrorism... and that have lauded Hamas."
Emerson confirmed that at the annual conclusion of the Muslim fast period of Ramadan, Mrs. Clinton regularly invites a group of Muslims to the White House, and that she includes, among others, the Executive Director of the American Muslim Council, which is an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. "The 'Brotherhood' openly defends terror attacks, and praises Hamas, and has done fundraising for the defense fund of the World Trade Center terrorists... This is the equivalent of the White House inviting Louis Farrakhan..." In Emerson's opinion, "Mrs. Clinton's pattern of behavior leaves one with little doubt that she is doing this knowingly. I think that she probably believes and identifies with some of the tenets of [these groups]." It should also be noted that Mrs. Clinton was among the first to express open support for the creation of a Palestinian state. (Arutz 7 July 15)
Jews and the Diaspora
Most former Israelis living around the world do not take part in Jewish communal life. Findings submitted at the World Congress of Jewish School Principals in Jerusalem show that about a half-million people have left the country since its establishment. Other findings include: The world Jewish population is currently estimated at slightly over 13 million; less than 20% of the Jews in the former Soviet Union are involved in any form of Jewish communal activity. Perhaps most significantly, outside of Israel, no Jewish populace in any country has a positive growth rate. (Arutz 7 July 20)
Secular Jews For The Temple
"With Causeless Love We Will be Rebuilt." So reads a new bumper sticker being distributed by an organization named "Secular Jews for the Temple," whose goal it is to promote Jewish awareness of the Temple and the Temple Mount. Arutz 7 spoke with one of its members, Ahuvyah Tabenkin of left-wing Kibbutz Ein Harod. "It's true that we don't exactly represent a majority of secular Kibbutz members," he said, "as most of them are busy building themselves materialistically, but the pioneers have always been a minority - the Zionists were a minority among the Jews, those who came to the Land were a minority among the Zionists, those who worked the land were also a minority, and now this group is a minority as well. But I hope that soon we will be the leaders." "Why concentrate on the Temple Mount?" Arutz 7's Ariel Kahane asked. Tabenkin's reply: "The fact that the Arabs pray from there to Mecca, but at the same time don't let us up there [at will], makes the Temple Mount into a symbol of our Exile and humiliation. Similarly, instead of ordering the police to enforce Jewish fundamental rights to pray there, our Supreme Court leaves the decision to the police, according to whether it's 'convenient' or not...
Historically, too, the Mount was not only a place of sacrifices, but also a place of prayer and a symbol of our nationhood. The Arabs, too, feel that as long as they control the Temple Mount, they have a chance to banish us totally from the Land." Arutz 7 asked, "Do you also have religious considerations?" Tabenkin, a bit surprised by the question, responded, "Well, the word 'religious' can be the subject of long discussions. Look, there's the well-known 'vurt' [Yiddish for 'word' or 'thought'] by the Gerrer Rebbe, who said, 'When the Haskalah [Enlightenment] came to the world, with science, physics, etc., we [the religious] left it for the secular Jews, and when Zionism came to the world, we gave that too to the secular, and now we have also left the Repentance Movement for the secular.' Accordingly," concluded Tabenkin, "it looks like we [the secular] will also have to build the Beit HaMikdash." Asked whether he calls for the actual construction of the Temple, he said, "There are many religious authorities, including Maimonides, who say that the Temple must be rebuilt, and so I think it should be done... As a first step, we must show that we control the Temple Mount. Tomorrow is the fast of Tisha B'av and the [anniversary] of the destruction of the Holy Temples, and I call upon all of Israel to come to the Mount on this day and show that it belongs to the Jewish nation." [Arutz 7 Ed. note: Some prominent rabbis permit the ascent to parts of the Temple Mount after certain Halakhic precautions have been taken.] (Arutz 7 July 21)
Gold Fever By Uri Dan
The US apparently thinks it can buy Israel off the Golan Heights.
The royal welcome given Prime Minister Ehud Barak in Washington reminded me of the red carpet President Bill Clinton rolled out for the late Yitzhak Rabin, when he came to sign the Declaration of Principles on September 13, 1993. Barak's remarks, in the speech he gave at the gala dinner in his honor, also sounded like a continuation of of the speech Rabin gave when he shook Yasser Arafat's hand on the White House lawn six years ago.
All this reflected the euphoria-filled atmosphere, the feeling that Barak is poised to renew not just the negotiations with the Palestinians, but particularly the talks with the Syrians. In Washington, I was told that the American optimism is based on the details of Barak's peace initiative, which the premier laid out for Clinton during several hours of discussions.
With regard to Syria, for example, administration officials are convinced that this is "a golden opportunity" for Syrian President Hafez Assad to regain control of the Golan Heights. Washington, I was told, accepts Barak's position that if Assad really wants serious negotiations, there is no reason to condition them on any particular formula. The question is, however, whether Assad will accept this opening position.
During the previous government's tenure, Assad insisted that Rabin had promised to him to return to the June 4, 1967 lines. Now, they claim in Washington, the Syrians are talking as if former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu had secretly promised them the same thing, through his emissary to Assad, Ron Lauder.
With regard to Rabin's alleged promises, unfortunately there is no one to ask. But I knew Rabin well when he served as OC Northern Command and as chief of General Staff, and clashed with the Syrians when they were on the Golan, bombarding communities in the North and continuously threatening fishermen on the Kinneret during the Fifties and Sixties. It's hard for me to believe, therefore, that he had agreed to withdraw to the degree the Syrians are claiming.
We could certainly ask Binyamin Netanyahu, however, or even Lauder. Then it will be clear that the former prime minister refused, justifiably so, to Assad's demand that Israel first submit a map on which Netanyahu's planned line of withdrawal was marked.
BUT you can count on the US administration to do everything it can not to blow this "golden opportunity" to hand over the Golan to Assad.
Madeleine Albright will visit Damascus next month, to explain to Assad that a formula for opening negotiations is irrelevant, because for a full piece agreement, Israel is prepared to make "painful compromises," even though Barak has promised that the Syrians will "not splash their feet in the Kinneret."
In return for a withdrawal of such magnitude, the Clinton administration is prepared to promise Israel a security package that includes billions of dollars, military equipment, electronic warning systems, and anything else that would be needed to convince Israelis to uproot the Golan residents and their communities. Gold is falling on the world markets, so the Americans are waving dollars in front of Israelis' noses instead, to assure that this "golden opportunity" is not missed. The Jews' Golden Calf Syndrome is alive and well. It must be a genetic thing.
Barak now stands before some historic decisions, not just with regard to the Syrians, but with regard to the Palestinians, in the framework of the 15 months he's allotted. Two questions of principle he must deal with, besides the Jewish links to and strategic value of these territories are:
* Will these weapons systems that the US is promising in exchange for territorial compromises help the Jews defend their country, when Israeli society is showing clear signs of rot, hedonism, and disintegration?
* What degree of faith is Barak prepared to put in the Arabs' promises and their signatures on agreements?
Rabin was even more suspicious than Begin when it came to such promises, and that is why both demanded security arrangements, though to this day many of these are being breached, with no Israeli protest.
One would expect that Barak-who participated in intelligence operations even before he became OC Intelligence and then chief of General Staff, and is thus more than familiar with the ability of the Arabs to double- and triple-cross you - would be no less suspicious, particularly when the future of the Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael is at stake. (Jerusalem Post July 22)
Shalom. I wish you a good month, and may G-d turn this month [of sadness] into a time of blessing, salvation and comfort.
In previous years, Arutz 7 did not broadcast during this period of the Nine Days, from the beginning of the month of Av until Tisha B'Av [the 9th day of Av]. This year and last year, the management of Arutz-7 has decided to continue the station's broadcasts during these days. During this period of mourning for our Holy Temple - may it be speedily rebuilt in our times - Jerusalem and the Temple and our national status will be the focus of our broadcasts. We don't wish to suffice with discussing only the laws and customs of these days, but will rather delve into the reasons for these customs, and discuss the destruction of the Temple, what caused it, what brought about our Exile, and how to bring about a change for the better.
Of course, the customs of these days must be studied and preserved. But the ultimate purpose of all these acts, we must remember, is to help us understand the acts that led to the destruction of our Temple, and to arouse us to Repentance and to the mending of our ways.
The destruction of the Temple can be ultimately traced back to the sin of the Spies in the desert - the sin of rejecting the Land. This act led to the destruction of both of our Holy Temples and the exile of our people from our land. The very same date that the People of Israel cried in the desert over the scouts' demoralizing report about the Land, and did not wish to enter - that very day, the 9th of Av, became a "day of weeping" for us throughout our history, beginning with the destruction of both the First and Second Temples, and continuing with various other calamities throughout the generations.
Our repentance in this matter must correspond to the sin. To compensate for our rejection of the Land of Israel, we must increase our love for it. We must remember that it is the land chosen by G-d, and we must recognize its intrinsic value and the advantages it brings those who dwell in it. We must know that this is the Land in which the Divine Presence dwells, and that it is the land of prophecy, in or about which all the prophets received and gave over their Divine messages. This is the land of milk and honey, the land which lacks nothing, the land with every physical and spiritual advantage.
Though all of the above is well-known and simple, the need to review and delve into these points is constant. The more we deepen our bonds with the Land, and the more we increase our love for it, to this extent will the rest of the people of Israel begin to recognize its uniqueness and greatness. As Rabbi Judah HaLevy wrote in his classic work of Jewish thought, HaKuzari: "Jerusalem will not be rebuilt until the people of Israel long for it to the utmost, until they pine for its stones and dirt." This is the feeling that we must attempt to nurture among our fellow Jews.
At this time, when it is within our grasp to build the Land and Jerusalem - for the Land is finally open and available to all its children - we must seize the moment and take action among those Jews who are still in the Exile (Diaspora). We must help them increase their love for the Land, and attempt to bring them to the realization that their place is here. Whoever has relatives or friends abroad must attempt to convince them to either come to stay, or to visit, or to at least send their children, or invest in Israel - in one way or another, every Jew must forge bonds with his Land, each according to his capabilities.
Similarly, the residents of Israel must become more connected to Jerusalem. These days are perfect for visiting the remnant of our Temple, andreflecting in this way our great longing for its rebuilding. It's true that we do not generally take trips or hikes during the Nine Days - but to ascend to Jerusalem is exactly what is required to repair the sin over which we are mourning! Connecting ourselves with the Land of Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple represents the very acts that will compensate for the sins that led to the destruction of our Temples.
Jewish law forbids us from forgetting, even for a short time, the atmosphere of mourning during this period. As the Talmud says, "Once the month of Av arrives, we minimize our happiness." But songs of longing for Jerusalem, songs that express our hope for its rebuilding, songs of verses from Eichah (Lamentations) that instill within us the feelings of love for Jerusalem, sorrow over its destruction, and expectations for its rebuilding - not only are we permitted to sing them, and to play them, but we are obligated to do so. For this is exactly what must be done during these days. The only songs that are prohibited are those which are unconnected with any of the above matters, that are not mitzvah-oriented and do not arouse us to feelings of longing for the Redemption. But songs that cause us to feel the essence of these days - now is the very time that they should be played.
In the past, a certain type of flute music used to be played at funerals, in order to arouse sorrow over the deceased. It was even an obligation, as a way of showing respect to the departed. In the same vein, it is right to use musical instruments in songs that arouse our sorrow and remembrance of the Beit HaMikdash, and to awaken our expectations for its rebuilding. This will be the policy of Arutz-7 when we choose our music during this period.
May it be G-d's will that the Temple be rebuilt speedily in our days, and may this month be turned from a time of sorrow to a time of joy. Shalom, shalom. (Arutz 7 July 16)
Rabbi Melamed is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Bet El, Chairman of Arutz 7, and Co-Chief Rabbi of Bet El.
by Yedidya Atlas
Imagine the following: A Jewish businessman buys a parcel of land in an American city, pays for it with his own funds, and then applies to the local municipality for a permit to build a residential neighborhood of middle class apartments for young Jewish families. To make life easier for his prospective clients, he plans to build a synagogue, a mikveh (ritual bath), a kindergarten and a day-care center, as well as a few small shops. He then meets all legal, zoning, environmental and even archeological requirements established by city, state and federal agencies. Armed with every license and permit known to man, he is openly vilified in the press, and politicians try by executive fiat to block this Jewish businessman from building these homes on his own private property simply because he is a Jew building for Jews.
Imagine. In America it would be called racism, anti-Semitism. In Israel its called Ras el-Amud.
In our true story, the businessman is Dr. Irving Moskowitz, a well-known philanthropist who lives in Florida, although he also has a home in Jerusalem. The liberal-left press doesn't like him, perhaps because most recipients of his largesse are not sufficiently politically-correct, or approved by the proponents of left-wing advocacy journalism.
But, you ask, what and where is Ras el-Amud, and why can't Dr. Moskowitz build on his own land after meeting all legal and technical requirements? Our story begins in the latter half of the previous century.
Some 130 years ago, two of Jerusalem's leading philanthropists, Moshe Wittenberg and Nissan Bak, acting on behalf of the Chabad and Wollin Hassidim Kollels (community groups), purchased a 15-dunam plot (almost four acres) on the southern lower slope of Mt. of Olives (Har HaZeitim) facing Jerusalem's Old City walls. In 1928, Wittenberg and Bak formally transferred ownership of the land to the Kollels.
The Kollels then leased the parcel to an Arab farmer. The Kollel community gabbai (sexton), as the representative of the duly registered owners of the land, paid the property taxes levied by the authorities. This point subsequently became crucial when decades later the Arab leaseholder illegally transferred title deed to his own name.
When the Trans-Jordanian Legion captured the eastern side of Jerusalem in 1948, all Jewish property was transferred to the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property Office. In 1951, the Arab leaseholder went to have the Jordanian Land Registration Office change the name on the title deed over to his own name, while concealing the fact that the land really belonged to Jewish owners. A meticulous Jordanian clerk then discovered the aforementioned tax records paid by the Jews, and the Jordanian Custodian Office attempted to block the leaseholder's being listed as the owner. They did not meet with full success, however, as the tax records alone were ruled insufficient to prove other ownership.
Subsequently, the Jordanian Custodian Office discovered the original title deed of the Land Registry proving Jewish ownership, and applied to the Jordanian Court to invalidate the false registration of the dishonest Arab leaseholder. This was shortly before the 1967 Six-Day War and the Jordanian Court had not yet issued its ruling when the war broke out.
Following the war, with much of the area already densely built, the two Kollel community groups then pursued the case in Israeli courts. The District Court ruled in their favor, but the Arab leaseholder appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also ruled in favor of the true Jewish owners, validating their claim in 1984. Then, in 1990, the Kollel communities sold their land to Dr. Irving Moskowitz.
Moskowitz developed a plan for a 132-dwelling Jewish neighborhood on the privately-owned property. Here began a see-saw. The Jerusalem Municipal Planning Commission, with the agreement of then-Mayor Teddy Kollek, approved the plans. At that point, however, then-Interior Minister Chaim Ramon froze further discussion of the plans. Then came along his successor, Ehud Barak, who cancelled the freeze and deposited the Jerusalem Municipality's approved plans into the State of Israel's Jerusalem District Zoning Commission (which is comprised of representatives of various interested government ministries such as Defense, Interior, Housing, and other public figures) for approval. The District Commission issued final approval on Dec. 10, 1996.
One of the big misnomers promoted by the Palestinian Arabs, Israel's radical Left, and their fellow travelers in the media, is that the new Ma'aleh Har HaZeitim neighborhood is located in "the midst of a Palestinian Arab area whose true name is Ras el-Amud." This is nothing more than a deliberate attempt to mislead the general public. "Ras el-Amud" itself is simply one Arab populated neighborhood on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives. The new Ma'aleh Har HaZeitim project is not part of the Ras el-Amud neighborhood proper, but is simply adjacent to it.
To the west, across the road, adjoining the Old City's Jewish Quarter, is "Ir David" (City of David), a developing Jewish neighborhood above the Shiloah wellspring. The property's eastern boundary is 160 meters from the
Mount of Olives Israeli Police Station (itself located on Jewish-owned property), and past that, another 160 meters northwards, is one of the largest and oldest Jewish cemeteries atop the Mount of Olives, in use from Biblical times until today.
Ma'aleh Har HaZeitim (Mt. of Olives), the so-called "Ras el-Amud" project, is not isolated in an exclusively Arab area. It is a only a mile from Jerusalem's City Hall, just over a mile to the King David Hotel and the new Jerusalem Hilton. The Western Wall in the Old City is less than half a mile away, and the Hebrew University Mount Scopus campus, a mile and a half. Hardy an isolated neighborhood.
Even though Dr. Moskowitz bought the land and obtained all the proper building permits, there are those who shout, "How dare he! It's a provocation!" Imagine that. For a Jew to build homes for other Jews on privately-owned Jewish land in the Holy City of Jerusalem is considered an international chutzpah!
The primary motive behind the objections of the Palestinian Authority and its radical-Left Israeli supporters to the establishment of another Jewish neighborhood in this part of Jerusalem is simply because it prevents -- by its very existence at this location -- the de-facto division of Jerusalem. With Jews living on this side of the Mount of Olives, Arafat and his cohorts will fail to achieve an Arab-dominated area from Palestinian-occupied Jericho to the Temple Mount.
Those who decry the accusations that certain political elements in Israel's Jewish body politic would divide Jerusalem, have only to examine their position vis-a-vis the new Ma'aleh Har HaZeitim neighborhood. It is inconceivable, to this writer at least, that the only Jews who may be permitted on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives are those who are already dead - those who are buried in the cemetery there. Surely in Jerusalem, in the capital of the Jewish State, Jews, of all people, should be able to live wherever they like. (Arutz 7 July 22)
The writer is a senior correspondent and commentator for Arutz7.