On the eve of the Jewish New Year, Israelis are experiencing a sense of depression, as well as a sense of acceptance. We are smarter than we were last year, and more cynical. We have less faith in the world at large, but more faith in our own abilities to persevere. We are angrier than we were last year, but we are also more united and gentler with our own. We are a year older, a year wiser, and a year more isolated than we were before.
We have lost our fathers and mothers, our sons and daughters, our grandparents and doctors. We have lost our teachers and rabbis, our students and artists. We have lost a father the day after his son's wedding, and a father and a young bride the day before she was to be married. We have lost so much, and somewhere in the midst of all this loss, we have found ourselves again. Many have come here to live at a time when “normal” people would be running in the other direction. Israel is ours and we finally understand that it does not matter what the world says or does. We cannot change them, cannot convince them. We can only do what we must.
Last year, we still believed there could be a peaceful solution, that a roadmap could be found to lead us out before we hit bottom. For the sake of peace, we thought last year, we would tear our land apart, divide our communities. We would cut our heart, divide our soul. We would sacrifice and achieve peace and, with that peace, retain access, if not ownership, to our history, portions of our land, places in our hearts.
This year, we hit bottom. We buried our babies and those about to be born. We ached in places we didn’t know we could hurt, cried tears we thought had long since been spent, and watched the blood flow in our land. And finally, across the political spectrum we understood that peace, the greatest of our dreams, our deepest hope, could not be attained through surrender, withdrawal, submission and acceptance. The price they demanded was simply too high, too much. But more importantly, they were not prepared to pay equally, not prepared to even deliver on what we paid for.
This year, as in the two that preceded it, they attacked our buses, our cafes, our way of life. They ambushed our soldiers, our young. They kidnapped, stoned, bombed, lynched and tortured us. They desecrated our holy places, burned them, smashed them. They terrorized our roads and our cities. They tried to deny our connection with Jerusalem, attempted to write their history by rewriting ours. Lies, murder, deceit, betrayal. An arsenal of immorality was cloaked in their holy terms of martyrdom.
But with the new year, comes rebirth. Fathers are raising their motherless infants. Wives who lost their husbands are birthing their children in a final promise to hold on to the connection between the future and the past.
Our planes flew over Auschwitz and we asked forgiveness to the millions who died there. We came 60 years too late, but it won’t happen again. Maybe this time, this time, we will not cave in to the demands and the blackmail of others. Our greatest allies and our cursed enemies all ask us to show restraint, while our children cry that they cannot take it anymore, that they are afraid. We are learning to listen to our children.
A new year is upon us. An anniversary of three years passing. Three years in which we have been hunted, while being accused of being the hunter. We have been bombed, while being accused of being the bombers. They tell us that we incite, we target, we kill. And yet, each of our operations comes in response to their actions. We target killers who have sent their booby-trapped sons into our midst drugged on the lies of future paradise.
It is hard, after three years, to believe that there will suddenly be an end to this violence, that the day will come soon when we can put our children on buses and not force them to call, when we can leave them at bus stations and not hold our breathes, fearing that we will hear a boom as we drive away.
But under the pessimism and the depression, as in the deepest months of winter, there is a blossom of hope and optimism beginning to grow. We will survive this. We have rededicated ourselves to the State. We will not surrender our rights to live here. So, despite Cafe Hillel blowing up, we still had to search for a table when we went out to eat. Despite the No. 2 bus being targeted, my daughter and son still have to stand on the ride home during rush hour. Despite the malls and stores that are being attacked, I still had to wait until the tourists had finished purchasing a whole load of presents before buying my husband his birthday gift.
Our eyes were watchful as we ate in the cafe. My daughter was nervous on the bus, and the tourist asked if we weren’t a little afraid to live here as she made her purchase. But we eat and drink, we ride the buses and we buy our gifts. In short, we live in our country, because that is the choice we were commanded to make long ago. “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore, choose life, that both you and your children may live.” (Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:19)
As we prepare to celebrate the new year, the last year can be summed up simply as a choice made. We chose peace long ago, and that has not changed. But peace is not an option so long as Yasser Arafat, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah will not allow it. And so, in the absence of peace, we have chosen life.
May we all be written into the book of life for the coming year, and may only our enemies know the sorrow they would inflict upon us.
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A New Year's Message from the Publisher of Israel InsiderBy Reuven Koret - September 26, 2003
It has been a difficult year for those who care about Israel, and for us who live here.
For three years running, we have been forced to deal with a savage assault by terrorists and their state sponsors, unprecedented in its viciousness. Guards stand outside our restaurants and our institutions. We eye passersby to ensure that they are not wearing explosive belts. We choose our tables to offer protection against blast and shrapnel.
On the diplomatic front, we have reached a point where the United States is our only true friend and with us, the only unwavering defenders against radical Islam. The rest of the world is either in league with the jihadists, or cowed by rising Muslim populations, mumbling pleading appeasements and pathetic rationalizations for not fighting back.
Jew-hatred is creeping back. It will not go away. Israel has become the world's Jew, whipping boy for the perverse pleasure of the anti-Semites. Sometimes it seems that Israel is treated as at once Jesus, valued only after being victimized and savaged, and Judas, blamed for allegedly causing our own sufferings.
In the real world the result has been little short of catastrophic. All the accomplishments of Israeli science and technology, which fueled such prosperity in the 1990s, are overwhelmed by the burst high tech bubble and the dearth of visitors and investments.
As a publisher, it means that advertising has dried up. It means that there is a glut of unemployed web developers and designers, ready to work for peanuts. It means that the local market for building dynamic websites has dried up. And we are the lucky ones.
In other industries there is even greater suffering. A million Israelis -- a sixth of our population -- are mired in real poverty, unable to obtain adequate health care, sufficient food. Education and social services are sacrificed. Good people are forced to retire early.
But. In Israel there is always a but. We are a nation of six million, equal in numbers to those killed by the Germans and their assorted helpers in the Holocaust. But we are the only nation in the world where the Jewish population is growing.
We are the only nation in the world which lives by the Jewish calendar, beats to the rhythm of the Jewish Sabbath and the Jewish holidays. Despite all, we love life, fight for it passionately.
We are the only nation that speaks the Hebrew language, resurrected within the last century from the parchments of the Bible, Our Book. We have a beautiful nation which has the diversity of California, without (most of) the smog and (so far) the earthquakes.
We have beautiful men and women, brave soldiers, gifted scientists and dedicated physicians. We have more than our share of authors and artists, dancers and dreamers. We live fully, intensely. If we have suffered, as a people and a nation, it has not killed us. It has made us stronger. If we have been disillusioned, we continue to dream.
This year the dangerous illusions of the "roadmap" were smashed to pieces. This year our enemies again didn't miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Once again, those who have eyes to see realize that our enemies do not wish to live beside us but instead of us.
The illusion that "occupation" is the main problem has also been shattered, since our enemies make it clear that they consider Tel Aviv to be occupied territory, and will not give up on their "right" to destroy the Jewish state by overwhelming us demographically.
One of our enemies has this year been destroyed, and another has been put on notice that they will face the consequences if it continues to develop weapons of mass destruction.
I am not a fan of the separation fence, but its erection is now an inevitability, an interim stage which may bring a bit more security and a little more definition to our amorphous state as we evolve into the nation with a mission we are destined to fulfill. May we do so speedily.
As publisher and builder of dynamic websites, our company has reached a position where we can enable diverse voices not often heard in the mainstream to express themselves. We have contributed voices that seek to communicate how Israelis see themselves and their world. We have provided the members of our reading community with a unique ability to talk back in public, to make their voices heard.
Each of us involved in producing Israel Insider cares deeply about our publication. We care about our readers, even those who don't agree with our perspective on this issue or that. Indeed, our staff writers often don't agree among themselves, and make no secret of our disagreements. We respect our readers enough to let them judge for themselves.
We invite you to write to us, or just to "talk back," whenever the inspiration strikes you.
We have been honored to serve you in this last difficult year, and we will continue to serve you, come what may, in the new one.
May it be a joyous, healthy and peaceful year, for the Jewish People, for Israel, and for all those who love and care about us.
As I survey the fragile planet we call home, my mind makes note of the chaos, blood, and tears. The cries of a million lost souls shatter the night in a million corners of the earth. The sensitive, compassionate among them try to feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the naked. One by one their energies dissipate. They try to hold back the tide with a teaspoon and then see the impossibility of the task. The Jewish people are but a cosmic speck in this universe. To many Jews who feel deeply about their own people, that speck becomes the whole world. Other Jews are irrevocably tied to non-Jewish pursuits.
May we as a people open our eyes and begin to see the world as it really is. Without becoming depressed and morose, we must realize that there are powerful forces in the world that wish us ill. May we mobilize our strength to fight our enemies until they are defeated. May we not succumb to false prophets of peace. We all want peace. We pray for peace in our Sabbath services every Friday night. After thousands of years, being victims of persecution, expulsion, extermination, and discrimination, it is natural that we yearn for peace with every ounce of our bodies and souls. It is because our hunger for peace is so strong that we must be doubly cautious not to fall for a pseudo-peace. Today none of us believe Chamberlain really negotiated "peace in our time" with Hitler. Why do some Jews believe that Peres and Rabin really negotiated "peace" with Arafat, one of today's Hitlers? The Jewish people must learn the value of unity in the face of so many enemies who wish them ill.
I pray that Israelis who have fought in countless wars will understand that there is no magic cure, though they crave to be free of constant conflict. As Jews we are all involved in this historic struggle to survive. It is not our fate or that of the Israelis that we should retire from this struggle.
There is another battlefield here in America where the Jewish people is being tested and I pray that they win. That is the battle with assimilation, the struggle for continuity of Jewish life. History very clearly tells us that Jews can survive any persecution, but show a great tendency to assimilate and disappear where conditions are favorable. This seductive kiss of death is very hard to fight and I don't have all the answers. One thing is clear: where there is a strong intensity of religious upbringing, complete with Jewish day schools, the process of assimilation can be slowed. My prayer for the Jewish people would be a rapid growth in attendance in Jewish day schools. Also the Jewish population will have to shift to a more traditional form of Judaism. In two or three generations more than 80% of Reform Jews will have disappeared. The main survivors will be Orthodox and Conservative Jewry and the Lubavitch Movement.
In 1967, during a visit to Israel immediately following the Six Day War, I prayed at the Wall for the first time. I had expected the stones to be rough and weathered after all this time, but they were smooth from 2000 years of touching and kissing. The gentle caresses of Jews over the ages had worn soft finger grooves in the hard rock. As I placed my hands on this magnificent relic of our forefathers, I felt a surge of light and energy the likes of which I had never known. In what had to have been but the flash of a second, I felt at one with Jews from all periods of history.
In an instant I saw the continuity of Jewish history and its unbreakable connection with Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel). I understood how modern Israel is the beginning of the Third Temple Period and the spiritual heir to Joshua, Saul, David, Solomon, the Maccabees and Bar Kokhba. I frequently write about the security reasons for incorporating Judea, Samaria, and Gaza into the body of Israel. There is another side to this issue and that is the spiritual-religious side. The truth, which many find inconvenient, is that the Land of Israel was promised by G-d to Abraham and his seed in perpetuity. The Land of Israel is not speculative real estate to be bartered away for seductive promises of peace. The hills and valleys of Judea and Samaria contain the collective memory of the Jewish people. It was here that the Israelites first entered the Holy Land. And it was here they fought the battles, built the towns, elected their kings and were preached to by their prophets and judges. And it was on this soil that they wrote the Holy Scriptures we call our Bible.
In my blinding flash of insight at the Wall, I also understood that Israel on its own soil was more powerful than the sum of its weapons and men. Jews who had wandered the earth powerless for two millenniums attained great power when re-united with the soil of Israel.
One thing is clear to me: the Lord has blessed Israel by re-uniting Jerusalem and bringing Judea, Samaria, and Gaza back under its control. It would be a horrendous sin against G-d and common sense for Israel to renounce this inheritance to which it is entitled. Israel holds these lands as a sacred trust for the Jewish people in perpetuity. It would not only be sinful, but also criminal, to abuse that trust by denying future generations of Jews their Holy Land -- the Land of their Fathers -- the one tiny spot on planet earth given to them by G-d.
As we approach Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, I see Am Yisrael in great pain. I say to the suffering people of Israel. We are an ancient people with a glorious history. Though we suffer from weak leadership, we are greater than our leaders. Our souls are greater than the terrorists and their allies in the Palestinian Authority. We will never be defeated by their bullets and bombs. We have never submitted. We have never renounced our claim to Eretz Yisrael. We are a Holy People, despite our pain. We have vision where our leaders sometime are blind. Our courage is greater than the mean and cruel world which has oppressed us.
BEWARE THE RISEN PEOPLEI have a vision and a dream that I must reveal as we approach these Days of Awe: In the name of G-d, the Almighty, Defender of His People, Israel, I say to my people's enemies: Beware of the thing that is coming, that will take what you would not give. That will free the people of Israel from your atrocities. I say to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: Be aware of the Risen People who will sweep the Arab scourge into the dustbin of history. Know that the Jewish soul will be set free. The spectacular victories of the Israeli army and the return to Zion demonstrated that power. But it wasn't a miracle. It was just the soul of the Jew coming to its own. It was just the Jewish soul freed at last to be itself.
And I see it coming, the Jewish soul released to be itself. I see a new proud Jewish government coming to power in Israel. A government that reclaims the Jewish Holy Places and restores Jewish sovereignty in all of Eretz Yisrael. I see Moslem control and Islamic sites removed from the Temple Mount to make it ready for Moshiach. I see the enemies of Israel, who raise up their hands to murder or injure Jews, driven from our Holy Land. I see the secular Jews of Israel and the world becoming more observant and returning to the Torah. I see religious Jews becoming more tolerant of diversity in Jewish practice.
I see a new Israeli foreign policy that grovels before no nation, no matter how powerful. I see Israel's Foreign Minister informing every nation that their embassies must be in Jerusalem. If they don't respect Israel's capital, then may have a consulate in Tel Aviv. I see the government demanding that the Vatican return all the property it has stolen from the Jewish people during the last 2000 years. Maybe they will refuse and we could always hold their property in Israel as a down payment. The Vatican has been used to dealing with obsequious groveling Jews, but now they would see proud fearless Jews. I see an Israeli government that would change its relationship with America from one of subservience to one of equal alliance.
Yes, I have a dream (apologies to MLK) that Jews will no longer debate the obvious: like whether to hold onto what is theirs or trade it away; whether to struggle for survival or to give up from fatigue. I have a dream that the Jews of the kibbutz and the Jews of YESHA will be reborn as brothers and patriots. From the Galilee to Eilat, all the people of Israel will share the same dream of a powerful independent Zionist nation. I have a dream that this strong, proud independent Israel will win the respect of all the nations of the world, including the Arabs. Instead of the contempt it has earned in recent years, Israel will again be a light unto the nations. And finally, I have a dream that this new Israel will find the peace it so dearly deserves. A peace with strength and self-respect. As I look back at 4000 years of Jewish history, I have but one urgent hope and prayer: We must make this dream a reality. There is no alternative.
May the Lord, bless the leaders of Israel with the courage to pursue peace, and the wisdom to know when it is not attainable. May the Lord bless the Jews who return to Zion and give them jobs and new friends to ease their transition into Israeli life. May the Lord bless the war-weary Israeli people with the stamina to bear up under the strain, if peace not just around the corner. May they understand that their fate may be that of endless struggle to survive in a hostile world and may they have the strength to understand that there is still no alternative (ein brera). May the people of Israel prosper and go from success to success never forgetting that their destiny lies in their might, their righteousness and their faith in HaShem. SHANA TOV!
Bernard J. Shapiro is executive director of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies
Jerusalem Newswire Editorial Staff - September 26, 2003
About six weeks before he died Wednesday, globally renowned and beloved Bible teacher and Christian author Derek Prince told a visiting US Senator international developments today indicated that God was busy restoring Israel and judging the nations of the world.
This affirmation of Prince's belief in the centrality of Israel to events shaping our lives was shared with hundreds of believers and fellow lovers of Zion who gathered in a Jerusalem church Friday for a glorious funeral service to send the 88-year-old Briton "home."
After the service, the worshippers followed the coffin through the busy pre-Rosh Hashana city streets to a quiet Christian cemetery in the heart of western Jerusalem, laying Prince's body to rest just meters from where the most recent 'suicide' bomb attack took the lives of seven Israeli Jews.
Prince saw in Islam's virulent hatred of Israel a major force being used to push Jews and Christians closer together after centuries of animosity, suspicion and fear.
Revelation in JerusalemThe pastor, teacher and author, who considered Jerusalem his hometown, was discharged from the British Army and re-entered civilian life in the ancient city at the end of World War Two, four years before Israel's national homeland was reborn.
One night in 1946, while standing near the Mount of Olives, he had been awakened to the integrality of the land and people of Israel to the Bible, and consequently to himself as a Bible-believing Christian.
As he described it, he realized that "geographically, the Bible is set in the land of Israel; historically, its theme is the people of Israel."
Detached from this geographical context, countless historical and prophetic passages of Scripture were "meaningless."
The destiny of Israel and the ChurchAmong the more than 45 books authored by Prince on a wide variety of subjects of interest to Christians were "The Last Word on the Middle East" (Derek Prince Ministries, USA, 1982), and "The Destiny of Israel and the Church" (Word Publishing, Milton Keynes, 1992).
In the latter he writes:
"Christians from Gentile backgrounds owe their entire spiritual inheritance to Israel. One appropriate way for them to acknowledge their indebtedness is to stand by Israel in the midst of their present pressures, and to uphold them with faithful intercession."Prince saw that the anti-God forces in the world, including Islam, were being used to push Christians and Jews closer together after centuries of animosity and persecution.
While many Israelis and Jews in the United States have commented recently on the strength of support for Israel that exists today in the evangelical Christian world, especially since the outbreak of the Oslo War (Al-Aqsa intifada) Prince already noted back in 1982 that:
"The State of Israel … is beginning to realize that its firmest and most influential friends today are found among Bible-believing Christians worldwide."
Israel the watershedPrince believed that the restored nation of Israel was a watershed, a line of separation between nations, and that God would judge nations on whether they stood with His restoration purposes for Israel, or opposed them. "Rulers and nations will determine their own destiny by how they respond to what God does for Israel," he wrote.
"God has revealed clearly in His Word that He intends to restore Israel, and that He requires all other nations to cooperate with His purpose. Any nation that rejects the revelation of God's Word has, in effect, rejected God Himself, and must suffer the consequences."
God is judging the nationsAccording to a close friend of Prince's who spoke during the funeral service Friday, US Senator Sam Brownback had visited the then ill-weakened man in his Jerusalem home about six weeks ago, and asked him how he understood what was happening in the world today.
Struggling to get the words out, Prince had finally managed to answer:
"God is restoring Israel. And God is judging the nations."by Derek Prince;
"No country has suffered such unjustified attack and consistent discrimination within the UN system. The time has come to end this campaign of diplomatic incitement."- Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom to the United Nations General Assembly, September 25, 2003. Full speech here.
"Serving in the army is not 'request hour' on a radio music show."- Prime Minister Ariel Sharon commenting on the pilots refusing to serve. Story here.
"I want to be honest and I don't care what they say, I believe ... it was right to give him (Arafat) the Nobel Prize."- Shimon Peres, at an international peace symposium held as part of his 80th birthday celebrations.
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