Yom Haâ€™Atzmaut 2013
Check Out What Hatzioniâ€™s Up To.
YUPAC 2013 Wow, what an amazing day! On Thursday, several members of MTA's Hatzioni club were invited to join the YUPAC mission to Washington. Ethan Wasserman, YUPAC's previous leader, has a close connection to MTA and was kind enough to continue to help our Israel lobbying and learning eďŹ€orts. Ethan conducted our training session for MTAPAC's first annual mission to Washington a few weeks ago, and also helped with the scheduling.Â On Tuesday night, we all huddled into Weissberg Commons to attend the training session with many college students. Rabbi Brander, Dean of YU's Center for the Jewish Future, delivered an amazing speech about how he used to be a personal assistant for Rabbi Soloveitchik in the final years that he was here on campus as a student. He told of an amusing incident in which Menachem Begin, the prime minister of Israel at the time, personally called Rabbi Soloveitchik and asked him to attend a protest over an anti-Israel event in Massachusetts. Rabbi Brander remembers hearing The Rav say that if Menachem Begin calls on him, how could he ever not listen and not help defend Israel. This was a powerful message of The Rav; we, on this trip, would be having the opportunity to defend Israel, our homeland. We don't live in Israel, but we can still do many great things for the nation, even here in America. Lobbying is of critical importance because, as we know, Israel is America's greatest ally. When visiting members of Congress, we are able to help influence this country's policy making by showing the leaders how much we care about Israel, and why they should care about its welfare as well. A#er Rabbi Brander spoke, Judith Frankiel and Ben Scheiner, the two current leaders of YUPAC, both went through the training slides and answered many questions. A#er this, Jon Kleinhans, the national field organizer for AIPAC, spoke to us and answered questions. I personally was greatly impressed by the professionalism of the evening, even though it was completely run by students. They described lobbying in such a professional and fluid manner that all students, whether having lobbied before or not, knew what to do and what they needed to accomplish at the meetings on Thursday. A#er the training session, we were excited to ascend Capitol Hill.
Thursday began bright and early. For those of us on the YU campus, the morning began with 5:20 A.M. Shacharit in the Rubin Beit Midrash. A#er finishing Shacharit, we went to gather all the necessary food and items for the trip. Finally, a#er loading everything, the trip began. As we le# at 6:15 in the morning, most people fell asleep as soon as we began travelling. They continued to do so until we reached a rest stop where everyone woke up in order for us to daven Mussaf, as it was Rosh Chodesh, and then to subsequently eat lunch. A#er packing up the lunches we boarded the busses again for our next stop, AIPAC headquarters. We arrived at 10:30 and immediately were greeted by Jon. We then heard from Jonathan Kessler, AIPAC’s Leadership Development Director, who proceeded to tell us the story of how in 1943 400 rabbis marched to the capital with over 1 million signatures and proof of what was happening in Europe at the time. Over 2 million Jews had already been murdered. They were trying to submit the proof to Congress. However, no congressmen were willing to meet with them. Finally, one Jewish congressman agreed to meet with them, but as he saw the evidence he said, “Why are you presenting this burden to me. They already don't like the Jews, why are you creating another reason for them to hate us.” Therefore he refused to present it to Congress and turned the rabbis away. They then proceeded to the White House, but were also turned away as the president said he was too busy for them. His secretary agreed to receive the petition, but would not meet with them. They ended up staying in the capital until sunset but then le#, feeling ashamed for not being heard. Jonathan Kessler explained to us that in today's day and age, we have the unique opportunity to be heard. As lobbyists, we are able to go and voice our opinions. This is a unique opportunity, so we shouldn't take it for granted. A#er Jonathan Kessler, we had a teleconference with Rabbi Josh Joseph, vice president of YU. He told all of us how proud YU is of us and he stressed the tremendous importance of our work. A#erwards, to end the AIPAC part of the trip, Ester Kurtz, Director of Legislative Strategy and Policy for AIPAC, reviewed the three topics with us and answered any last minute questions that students had. She has been lobbying for 30 years, so all her tips definitely helped students prepare. Finally, we got on the buses, and a#er a short 10 minute ride finally arrived at our destination, Capitol Hill. As everyone was broken up into groups, I can only tell you my perspective and personal adventure for the rest of the day. My group composed of myself and four other YU/Stern students, and fellow MTAer Shaya Kestenbaum('14). We first visited Congressmen Bill Pascrell Jr.'s oﬃce, congressmen of northern NJ. As we were leaving, he walked in, so he quickly ushered us into his oﬃce for a quick picture with him. This personally was my first time meeting a congressman.
Anyway, a#er that meeting we walked over to the senate buildings, a nice 15 minute walk in the beautiful DC weather. We then proceeded to Senator Menendez's oﬃce where we waited in the waiting room. As we were waiting, we saw the foreign relations committee meeting on the television screen, as Senator Menendez is in charge of the foreign relations committee. It was a hearing regarding the crisis in Syria now. A#erwards, we proceeded to our lobbying, and I mentioned the video we saw in MTA that week of Rabbi Meir Lau telling President Obama not to be late. We just remembered the 6 million Jews murdered, and we cannot risk endangering the 6 million Jews currently in Israel. As we were leaving, we were discussing what we were going to do for the next hour and forty-five minutes, the aid who we spoke to asked us if we would go like to see the foreign relations committee meeting. We said yes, just trying to be nice, but once we walked in, we were amazed to have walked into exactly the same room that we had seen on the television just a half hour before. Even more amazing, was that right across the room, only 30 feet away, was Senator John McCain. To his right, at the center of the semicircle, was Senator Menendez, whom we had just come out of his oﬃce. Instantaneously we were all in awe of walking into such an important meeting. As we saw on the TV before, the discussion was about Syria and whether or not the US should arm the rebels with lethal weapons to aid them in their revolution in Syria. The conversation got heated very quickly, with John McCain asking Ambassador Ford, previous Ambassador to Syria, whether or not he thinks applying a no-fly zone over Syria would help the rebels. Ford replied, “Mr. Senator, I am an economist not a military strategist.” To which Senator McCain immediately responded, “If you are an economist, what are you doing here?” This was met by many chuckles from the audience, including the hundred or so reporters. A#er this interaction, Senator McCain said, “No further questions,” and the panel came to an end. We then le# the room amazed at how lucky we were to have gotten the opportunity to see such a high-level meeting in person. A#er that, our group met the aid of Senator Johnson of Wisconsin (great name) in the hallway outside the hearing room. We all then took a break from the congress and went into the Supreme Court. We went and took a picture outside the room with the 9 Supreme Court seats, one for every justice. A#erwards we enjoyed a short walk back to the Capitol for the final speaker of the day, and probably the most anticipated one of them all, House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor. In the Capitol, all 165 of us gathered to hear the final day’s speech from Congressman Eric Cantor. As a Jew, arguably the most influential Jew in the House, Congressmen Cantor reiterated the fact that what we are doing is so important and to keep it up. He also told us of how he was at the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony that day in Washington. He then concluded with the story that I had actually told Senator Menendez’s aids about regarding Rabbi Lau. Hearing it from him was just amazing, and I am sure everyone in the room felt the exact same way. To conclude the day, we enjoyed a nice pizza and fries dinner on the lawn outside the Capitol. A#er davening Mincha, we proceeded to the buses, thought to be getting back to YU at 11. Amazingly, we arrived back at YU at 11:00 on the dot, something I never did on any trip, getting back exactly on time. In conclusion, I really want to say that the day was made possible by two YU students. They put in so much work, in order to allow us to have such an amazing day. This just comes to show us that, “If there’s a will, there’s a way.” Many times we doubt ourselves and what we can accomplish. However, if we actually said, “no I can do this if I put my mind to it,” many times we will succeed even beyond our wildest dreams.
MK Rabbi Dov Lipman This Wednesday night, members of the Hatzioni club were privileged to attend a speech given by MK Rabbi Dov Lipman at YU. Rabbi Lipman sits in Israel's Knesset and is member of the Yesh Atid party. Rabbi Lipman, an American born Oleh from Silver Spring, Maryland, spoke of his journey from being an American Rebbe to becoming an Israeli Politician. A#er attending Ner Yisroel and teaching in several Yeshiva High Schools, Rabbi Lipman decided to make Aliyah eight years ago to teach in yeshiva. Upon arrival, Rabbi Lipman had absolutely no intention or thought of entering Israeli politics. A#er riots with the Chareidi community in Beit Shemesh brought harm to himself and neighbors, Rabbi Lipman decided the time had come to work for change. He worked within the Beit Shemesh community to create an environment in which the diﬀerent sects could live together without controversy. A short while a#er, Rabbi Lipman got in touch with Israeli TV personality Yair Lapid. The two developed a close relationship with one another and were in agreement on various changes that must be made in Israeli society. When Yair Lapid announced he would be running for a position in Knesset as the chairman of the Yesh Atid party, Rabbi Lipman was asked to join the party, and was placed number seventeen on the party list. A#er two months of campaigning, Rabbi Lipman was elected as a member of Israel's 19th Knesset. Rabbi Lipman reflected on inspirational stories and the life changing experience of being a member of Knesset. He also spoke about what it means to be a religious Jew in a predominantly secular party, and the unity he and his colleagues are trying to foster between the diﬀerent sects of Israeli Society. We thank Rabbi Lipman for allotting time from his busy schedule to visit our campus and speak to our students, and we wish him much success in all his endeavors.
D.C. On the 15th of March, forty-five MTA students, along with ten faculty members, traveled to Washington DC for Hatzioni's first annual MTAPAC mission. The exciting day begun with Shacharis at 6:25am in the Beis Midrash. Shortly a#er davening, we boarded the bus and departed for a five hour bus ride. Once we arrived in Washington DC, our first stop was the Israeli Embassy. We were greeted there by Eli Groner, the Minister of Economic Aﬀairs in the Netanyahu government. He discussed with us the current status of relations between Israel and the United States. We are grateful to Ambassador Michael Oren and his staﬀ for their generosity and willingness to host us. A#erwards, we enjoyed a delicious lunch that was catered by Sammy's from Teaneck (special thanks to Natanel Niazoﬀ for arranging that!) Following lunch, we went to Capitol Hill and divided up into groups that visited the oﬃces of members of congress including Senators John McCain, Bob Menendez, Richard Blumenthal, Marco Rubio, and Mark Warner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor,Congressmen Eliot Engel, Chris Smith, and Congresswoman Grace Meng. We then spent an hour at the Smithsonian Museum and then went to Congregation Kesher Israel for Mincha/Maariv and a Chinese dinner.
Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
BDS Speakers at Brooklyn College by Asher Finkelstein
A little over a month ago, Brooklyn College hosted an event co-sponsored by its political science department featuring two speakers who are proponents of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The announcement that the event would take place led to an outpouring of outrage from the pro-Israel community in which some city politicians threatened to withdraw funding from Brooklyn College if the event went on as planned. This led to a counter-backlash from many, including Mayor Bloomberg, who defended the college’s right to allow the speakers to share their views while at the same time expressing their deep personal disagreement with the BDS movement. The event ended up occurring as planned amid protests outside, and received a disproportionately large amount of media coverage due to the vociferous controversy which had emerged around it. All this has led many in the pro-Israel community to ask a number of important questions in light of what happened. What does the BDS movement really stand for? What is the proper and most eﬀective way to counter eloquent, anti-Israel liberals? What are the limits of academic freedom? I will attempt to provide a basic framework for answering these diﬃcult questions. Let’s start with the easiest: What does the BDS movement really stand for and want? One cannot really definitively say exactly what they want, since this movement is a bandwagon with many diﬀerent types of people with a wide variety of motivations. The one thing they all share is vehement opposition to current Israeli policy regarding the Palestinians, and the desire to force a change with mainly economic international pressure. Despite the diversity of views within the movement, looking at its stated goals provides a pretty clear picture of what it seeks. Here are the three goals mentioned in the movement’s founding document:
Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
Obama’s Trip to Israel
by Yisrael Friedenberg
Last month President Barack Obama took a trip to Israel for the first time as president. He arrived on Wednesday, March 20. He visited many important places around the country, such as Har Herzl and Yad Vashem, and made several speeches. From the outset, the President was very positive in his words to the people of Israel. He made repeated encouraging remarks about the relationship between the United States and Israel, as well as how important Israeli security is to the US. Overall, the trip may be viewed as a great success, both for the President and for the State of Israel. President Obama made his first speech just a#er he had stepped oﬀ of the plane in Tel Aviv. Standing next to Prime Minister Netanyahu on the runway, Obama spoke glowingly of the State of Israel and why America views it as a close friend. He listed several reasons for the latter, including the facts that we are both democracies, that our relationship makes us both more prosperous, and that we both see peace in the Middle East as crucially important; among other things. One thing that clearly stood out in this speech, though, was the fact that the President made repeated references to the fact that the Jewish people do not simply inhabit the State of Israel, but that they are linked to the land of Israel biblically and historically. He referred to Israel as “the historic homeland of the Jewish people,” and made clear the fact that the establishment of the modern State of Israel did not create a new phenomenon, rather it was the rebirth of a tradition that dates back over 3000 years. Dore Gold, Israeli author and former ambassador to the United Nations, spoke about this point in a
Hatzioni: Yom Ha���Atzmaut 2013
recent television interview, saying that this is particularly significant because the fact that the Jewish people have ancient bonds to the land of Israel is seldom seriously considered. The President ended his speech by clearly explaining the significance of the America-Israeli bond. He said: “As I begin this visit, let me say as clearly as I can- the United States of America stands with the State of Israel because it is in our fundamental national security interest to stand with Israel.” Later in the day on Wednesday, the President and Prime Minister held a joint press conference. The main focus of the questions dealt with security in the Middle East, including the situations in Iran and Syria, as well as the peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. The President (as well as the Prime Minister) repeatedly stressed the importance of Israeli security, as well as global security in the case of Iran. The most noticeable thing about the press conference, though, was the fact that the President and Prime Minister seemed to act toward each other in a much more cordial manner than has been seen in the past. As noted in an article in the February edition of Hatzioni entitled “Bibi and Barack: Friends?” (Page 21), the two leaders have not been on particularly friendly terms with one another in the recent past. On this trip, however, they seemed far friendlier than usual. In the press conference, the two poked good-natured jokes at each other’s looks and each did a great deal of laughing about the subject. Obama started his speech at the conference by congratulating the prime minister on his new term in oﬃce. Later on the President made jokes targeting the Israeli media, jokingly saying that they were too inquisitive. The jokes continued as the two teased that maybe this reporter thought that he should ask four questions in the spirit of the holiday (Pesach) that was soon to come. At all of these, both the President and Prime Minister reacted with laughter and smiles toward each other. This is certainly a good sign in the relationship between the two. More importantly, though, the President again stressed the importance of Israel’s security and that the United States will continue to ensure it with “unwavering support.” In this speech President Obama also specified his main purpose in his trip; “to have an opportunity to speak directly to the Israeli people.” He said the he wanted to “let them know that they've got a friend in the United States,” saying that “we have your back,” and “we consider Israel's security of extraordinary importance to us, not just because of the bonds between our peoples but also because of our own national security interests.” This is very important and is a reassuring sign for Israel. On Thursday, March 21, President Obama first went to see the exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Israel Museum, followed by a day of meetings with Palestinian leaders. That a#ernoon, the President gave a speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center. He began the speech with another playful comment, this one addressing the cold relationship he has had with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the past. He said: “Just so you know, any drama between me and my friend Bibi over the years was just a plot to create material for Eretz Nehederet” (Eretz Nehederet is a comical Israeli television show that satirizes political happenings). Obama spoke for close to a full hour, using most of the speech to speak about peace. He spoke about the importance of peace between Israel and its neighbors. He gave many examples of the terrible eﬀects of war from experiences he has had speaking to people who were themselves aﬀected, such as Israeli children with whom he had talked, who told him that they went to bed at night in fear. Obama stressed that we must do all that we can to stop this, and that peace is the only option. He also reaﬃrmed the United States’ support of the State of Israel. He said: “Today, I want to tell you- particularly the young people – that so long as there is a United States of America, Atem lo levad” (“Atem lo levad” is Hebrew for “you are not alone”). The President spent Thursday evening at a dinner hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres. The follow-
Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
-ing day the President went to Har Herzl and Yad Vashem. At the latter he gave a speech about the fact that we have a responsibility to be active, not idle bystanders, so that there will never again be an event as terrible as the Holocaust. In this speech again he made reference to the ancient ties of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, calling it the “historic homeland of the Jewish people.” In general, Obama’s trip can be viewed as a success. He did a fine job at making the points that he hoped to, as well as having a chance to speak directly to the people of Israel, as he intended from when he arrived. On another front, the President and Prime Minister seemed to have gotten over past disagreements and seemed friendlier with each other than in their previous meetings. Obama was generally very supportive of the things that are most important to the Israeli people and government, most specifically, peace. Hopefully this trip will be one of many more productive, friendly meetings between Obama and Netanyahu in the future.
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Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
Natural Gas Discovery Off the Coast of Cyprus
by Jason Blatt
Recently, natural gas was discovered oﬀ of the coast of Cyprus. Cyprus energy oﬃcials say that these Cypriot waters are estimated to hold at least 60 trillion cubic feet of gas. This is approximately 1.7 trillion cubic meters of gas. Not only has Cyprus made a recent natural gas discovery, but so has Israel. This being the case, Cyprus and Israel are pondering the idea of joining together in their production of oil, and selling it to Europe. Israel hasn't confirmed the partnership yet. Cyprus' Foreign Minister said that even without Israel's partnership, the oﬀshore natural gas accumulation is enough to allow for the construction of a gas processing plant. Cyprus would use this plant to export surplus supply. Ioannis Kasoulides, a Cypriot politician, said that Cyprus will continue to talk with Israel about the possibility that both countries can each utilize their own mineral reserves. Cyprus is especially happy about this, as it hopes that its future gas wealth will help slow down the current economic crisis. Kasoulides also said that as of now, it remains unknown whether or not Israel wants to partner-up with Cyprus in its energy plans, but even without Israel the construction of the processing plant will still take place. Another component in this whole deal is Turkey, which doesn't count Cyprus as a sovereign country and doesn't like the idea of their gas search. Not only that, but Turkey also has troubled relations with Israel, another key component in this deal. Nicos Anastasiades, Cyprus' president, will visit Israel towards the end of April 2013. Neither country knows what will result from this visit, but hopefully, it will end up prosperous for both Israel and Cyprus.
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Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
by Ezra Teichman
Ben Zygier, a man of dual Israeli-Australian citizenship, was arrested in 2010. He was held in a maximum security prison in Ramala until his death on December 15, 2010, in what is believed to be a suicide. Until ABC News released the findings of their investigation this past February, the public had almost no knowledge of this situation, as the Israeli government banned news agencies from reporting on the story, due to the high amounts of classified information within the case. A#er ABC came out with its report, the whole situation became a lot clearer. According to Haaretz, Zygier was a warm-hearted Jew who came to Israel for Zionist reasons, who joined the IDF and later became a member of the Mossad. According to The New York Times, Zygier was sent on his first mission in 2005. He went to Europe “with instructions to infiltrate companies that had business relationships with countries like Iran and Syria.” By 2007 he had returned to Israel and was working at a desk job at the Mossad headquarters. During a subsequent internal investigation, Zygier unsuccessfully tried to recruit an Eastern European man as a double agent in an eﬀort to improve his reputation. His failure ended up leading to the arrest of two Israeli informants in Lebanon. The Sydney Morning Herald added that when Mr. Zygier was arrested, he was carrying a disc with classified information that he may have been trying to send to the same European man, to whom he had given the previous information. There have been other reports that he planned to reveal secrets about how Israel used fake passports in certain operations. It’s unclear what exactly the Israeli government believes he did. The whole situation is strange and the bottom line is that so much is unknown. The Israeli government has revealed very little information and has done its best to make sure that nobody else does. But since ABC reported about the incident, Israel has no choice but to address the issue. Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “We are not like other countries. We are an exemplary democracy and maintain the rights of those under investigation and individual rights no less than any other country. However, we are more threatened and face more challenges; therefore, we must maintain proper activity of our security agencies. And therefore, I ask all of you, let the security forces do their work quietly so that we can continue to live in security and tranquility in the state of Israel."
Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
Palestinian Hunger Strikes by Avi Borgen
Over the past couple days; the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have held a hunger strike. The prisoners refused to eat, protesting the alleged torture and death of Arafat Jaradat by the Shin Bet. They are refusing to eat the food that the Israeli government is giving them to enable them to survive. This tactic of essentially killing themselves is supposed to raise awareness for the death of Arafat Jaradat, who was imprisoned for throwing a stone at an Israeli soldier during Israel’s aerial bombing of Gaza last November. An additional goal of the hunger strike is ask the British government to force Israel to get rid of administrative detention. Some hospitalized prisoners said the Britain has to take responsibility for its role in the whole Israel-Palestine aﬀair, and the “subsequent suﬀerings of the Palestinians.” Now, because of illogical and preposterous behavior of the Palestinian prisoners, Israel is being forced to try and find a solution to get them to eat. The Palestinians—in all their infinite wisdom and rationality—decided to riot if any of the prisoners die. Because of this, the Israeli government needs to find a way to get its prisoners to eat. In the occasion that one of the prisoners does indeed kill himself out of starvation, the entire world will condemn Israel for torturing its prisoners, and the Palestinians would riot—most probably killing a few Israelis in the process. If the inmates themselves don’t care about their own health, why should anybody else—especially their enemies.
Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
1. “Ending its (Israel’s) occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall. 2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality. 3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194”. If all Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza as well as the millions of refugees and their descendants who le# Israel years ago were to receive full citizenship, Israel as a Jewish state would be voted out of existence. The chances that the basic rights of Jews would be respected in a Palestinian and possibly terrorist state are quite slim at most. So there is little question that the BDS movement in intent, and most certainly in eﬀect, denies Israel’s right to exist. Many proponents of BDS are quite explicit about this. Writing for Al-akhbar news, As'ad AbuKhalil has said as follows: “(Well-known critic of Israel, Norman) Finkelstein rightly asks whether the real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel. Here, I agree with him that it is. That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.” By rejecting the two-state solution in favor of what is essentially a Palestinian takeover and end to the state of Israel, BDS supporters have shown themselves to be either delusional, anti-Semitic or both. Now that the goals of the BDS movement have been clarified, let’s turn to the specifics of the Brooklyn College controversy. Obviously, it would be highly inappropriate for a public (or private for that matter) university to endorse the BDS movement. However, the university’s political science department merely cosponsored the event, leading to a measure of confusion. What does it mean for a university to sponsor an event? It does not imply endorsement of a view, as universities routinely sponsor events featuring opposing viewpoints, as Brooklyn College has done before. However, it does imply that the university lends legitimacy to the sponsored viewpoint. No university agrees with every speaker they sponsor, but at the same time, no university would sponsor an event featuring a viewpoint they viewed as illegitimate, either because it advocates violent extremism or because it is simply absurd. For example, when was the last time you heard of a university sponsoring a speaker advocating for equal rights for bananas and forced deportation to Mars for all those cruelly eat them? That leads us to question whether it is appropriate for an institution like Brooklyn College to lend legitimacy to the BDS movement. The answer to that question may depend on whether the specific speaker they were sponsoring are motivated by anti-Semitism or erroneous moral or political philosophical notions. It could be however, that their intent is irrelevant, as we will explain below. The two speakers were pro-Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti and feminist philosopher Judith Butler. Butler is Jewish and vehemently opposes attempts to characterize her views on Israel as anti-Semitic. Barghouti is a Palestinian who interestingly enough, is studying at Tel Aviv University, an institution he claims to think should be boycotted, to earn a masters degree. His claim, that a state should be created where Jews and Arabs can live together peacefully and with equality, is somewhat belied by his harsh opposition to those Palestinians who try to engage with Israelis and promote actual peace. It is hard to imagine that Barghouti is not aware what the results of a one-state solution would be under current circumstances. All this puts the two speakers in a hardly definable category which makes it a quite diﬃcult dilemma in terms of academic freedom. People have the right to express what others know or think to be erroneous views. If this was not so, the whole concept of free speech would be out the window. As John Kerry famously said, Americans have the right to be stupid. However, views which are racist or anti-Semitic in intent or eﬀect may be protected by the first amendment if they don’t present a clear danger of violence, but they certainly should not be given
Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
any degree of legitimacy, especially at a public university. While Barghouti and Butler may or may not be anti-Semitic in intent, expressing a viewpoint which in the real world would mean endangering the freedoms and possibly even the lives of countless Jews in Israel is something which cannot be tolerated. Academic freedom has its limits, and the event at Brooklyn College was out of bounds. The final question we must ask is how the pro-Israel community should respond to events such as the one we are discussing. There is a wide consensus that the response to the Brooklyn College event went wrong somewhere. The event, and the BDS movement with it, received far more media attention, much of it positive, than it would have otherwise due to the fierce and highly vocal opposition from the pro-Israel camp, and the counter-backlash from many moderates it caused. A recent article in The Jewish Week entitled, “’Best Practices’ Emerging in BDS Confrontations” described some recent findings by various Jewish institutions as to how best to counter anti-Israel events. One thing which is clear is that Israel must be promoted through positive messaging year-round, not just when a crisis emerges. At the same time, no clear formula has been arrived at as to how such crises should be dealt with when they do emerge. However, there are two crucial points that the pro-Israel community must keep in mind when dealing with these crises. Firstly, even when our opponents are spewing lies, we must counter them with the pure and unadulterated truth, not with exaggerations or minor fabrications of any sort. For example, it is time that some people stop claiming that all those who deny Israel’s right to exist are anti-Semitic in intent. There are many people who have erroneous reasons other than antiSemitism to hold that view. On a similar note, the pro-Israel response to any event cannot be mindless, unequivocal assault. Yelling louder won’t help much if we aren’t yelling intelligent things. Sophisticated viewpoints should be at the forefront of any response. There is an intellectual war at the heart of many of these controversies and it certainly should not be ceded to the other side. Die-hard opponents of Israel won’t be won over by rational argumentation, but the so-called “movable middle” sometimes can be. Many pro-Israel organizations already do a great job exposing the lies behind many anti-Israel arguments and that their work needs to be expanded and should be a prominent feature of any pro-Israel crisis response.
Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
The Meaning of a Jewish State by Meir Finkelstein
The Torah introduces us to the Jewish people and their unique destiny in Parshas Lech Lecha. In the opening pesukim, Hashem guarantees Avraham Avinu that he will father a great nation which will relate to Hashem in a unique way and will be given special protection from Hashem Himself. This, however, would only occur on one condition: Avraham must relocate himself from his familiar and comfortable homeland to Eretz Cana’an. Only there would such a nation emerge and only in that land could they relate to Hashem properly. It is clear from this condition that, from the very outset of Jewish history, geography was going to play a major role in the lives of the Jewish people. There would be a chosen land which they were to inhabit if they wanted to be the chosen nation of Hashem. The Torah makes sure that there is no doubt about this as the entire narrative of the Torah from this point forwards focuses exclusively on the relationship between Bnai Yisrael and Eretz Cana’an (later, Eretz Yisrael): the lives of the Avos in it, Yaakov’s exile from it and longing to return, the exile of their children from it to Mitzrayim, and the lengthy journey to return to it. Eretz Yisrael became a central component of Judaism even before the Torah later defined its essence. This therefore begs the question of why geographical location is such a crucial element of Judaism and Avodas Hashem. Can Hashem not be served from anywhere in the world? What was the purpose of relocating Avraham from his homeland and requiring that Jewish people forever live in Eretz Yisrael? In his very first comment on the Chumash (Beraishis, 1:1), the Ramban hints at the significance of geography by stating that the natural punishment for any sinful nation is exile from its homeland. This was a type of “natural law” set in place by Hashem with the creation of the world. However, it is not until parshas Acharei Mos (18:25) that the Ramban elaborates fully upon the significance of geography. There, he references the pesukim in parshas Ha’azinu (32:8-9) which state: . כי חלק ה' עמו יעקב חבל נחלתו.בהנחל עליון גוים בהפרידו בני אדם יצב גבולות עמים למספר בני ישראל
Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
“When Hashem established nations and divided mankind he set the borders for the Jewish people. Because Hashem’s portion is His nation, Yaakov is the lot of His inheritance.” The Ramban sheds light on these cryptic pesukim by introducing the following concept. When Hashem divided all of mankind into diﬀerent nations and established geographic borders for each one, He assigned a heavenly representative to each nation as well. This is the meaning of the lashon of “bihancheil elyon goyim” – when Hashem established nations in the olam ha’elyon (the heavenly world) which corresponded to the geographic location assigned to that nation in the physical world. However, when it came to Bnai Yisrael, “yatzev gevulos amim limispar Bnai Yisrael” – Hashem Himself established the geographic borders of Bnai Yisrael and did not delegate the task to anyone else. The reason for this is given in the next pasuk – Bnai Yisrael are Hashem’s chosen nation and are therefore worthy of Hashem’s direct protection. To re-iterate in other words, the Ramban has explained that the significance of geography lies in the fact that each land corresponds to a heavenly representative which watches over and protects that land. The nation of the land therefore relates to its unique representative. Eretz Yisrael however, is given no heavenly representative. It is watched over and protected by Hashem Himself and therefore, the people of the land, Bnai Yisrael, relate to Hashem directly when in their land. While we are unable to completely understand the significance of this concept as we are unfamiliar with its kabbalistic roots, Rav Yaakov Neuburger Shlita suggested that the following explanation can partially shed light on the Ramban’s words. The heavenly forces which correspond to each nation in its given land represent the spiritual essence of each nation. Each nation has a unique mandated mission in this world and the fulfillment of that mission is the nation’s spiritual responsibility. No two nations have the same mission; rather, each nation is mandated to perform in accordance with its unique identity. Nations are to create cultures and societies unique to themselves which are expressions of this mission. For example, the French have a unique culture and lifestyle which is diﬀerent than the Spanish who are diﬀerent than the Swiss etc. Each unique culture expresses the nation’s spiritual identity and mission in this world. This only exists though when the nation is in its homeland because it is only there that they can establish such a unique culture. A nation in exile has no culture or national lifestyle. For all nations other than Klal Yisrael, this mission is not to connect to Hashem directly; rather they connect to Hashem in a more roundabout fashion. This is symbolized by their heavenly representatives or intermediaries. Klal Yisrael, on the other hand, are mandated to relate to Hashem directly and create a lifestyle which is the purest expression of spirituality. Like all other national lifestyles, this lifestyle can only emerge when Klal Yisrael are dwelling in Eretz Yisrael and have their own land to develop their culture and society. ! With this in mind, geographical location has great significance in achieving spiritual heights. Had Hashem given Bnai Yisrael only the Torah but not Eretz Yisrael it would have been impossible to properly implement the ideals of the Torah in everyday life. The Torah prescribes a very specific and unique lifestyle. It has guidelines regarding a school’s curriculum, teacher requirements, eating habits, business deals, work schedules (Shabbos), etc. In order for the mitzvos of the Torah to create the pure and spiritually fulfilling lifestyle that they are meant to do, they must be in the Jewish homeland. In exile, they find themselves out of context and unable to create the national lifestyle that Hashem desires. In my mind, a few particular mitzvos define this idea. Take, for example, the mitzvah of Shabbos. The purpose of Shabbos is to infuse a day with spirituality on which one feels closer and more connected to Hashem. Imagine the majesty and grandeur that would be felt on Shabbos if an entire country settled down to experience the day and the environment changed to represent the message of Shabbos. This is what Shabbos can do for Bnai Yisrael in their homeland. In exile however, they day-to-day lifestyle that continues around us detracts from the majesty of Shabbos and it is increasingly diﬃcult to create a spiritual environment within the larger environment around us. A second example can be found in the mitzvah of kashrus. In exile, a Jew gets oﬀ the subway and walks down the streets
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of Manhattan on the way to work passing dozens of non-kosher restaurants and smelling the aroma of every bakery with the knowledge that he is unable to eat there. But imagine a Jewish homeland built on the values of the Torah where the same Jew in the same profession can get oﬀ the train on the way to work and pass one kosher restaurant a#er another and enjoy the environment in which he lives. Furthermore, during the American holiday season we witness the country transform in anticipation of their holidays as they prepare and get into the mood of the season. This defines certain parts of the country for many months - much more time than the actual holiday lasts. The preparation for our holidays on the other hand, while done remarkably well, do not become national events and do not shape the mood of the entire nation. The reason is obvious; we are in America and not in Eretz Yisrael. But imagine a Jewish homeland where the preparations for the Chagim would occur on a national level and the entire country would transform in anticipation of the holiday. Last but not least, in an ideal Jewish homeland, Jewish Yeshiva systems would never face the troubles which are, at times, presented in exile. When Yeshivos are the school system of the land (much as New York City’s public school system is the system of the City, lihavdil) and have the full support and backing of those with political influence they are destined for great success. Examples such as these begin to paint a real picture in our minds of what it means to live a national Torah lifestyle; to have the positives of the greater Jewish community which our generation has been blessed with, even in exile, amplified, perfected, and destined for eternal success. I would like to conclude by using the concept developed to explain a troubling comment of the Sifrei (see Rashi, Devarim [11:18] and Ramban [ibid]). The Sifrei states that mitzvos performed outside of Eretz Yisrael are only practice for when Bnai Yisrael return to Eretz Yisrael. This is immensely troubling because it suggests that Moshe Rabbeinu, Aharon, the Rambam, Rashi, The Vilna Gaon, Rav Moshe Feinstein, and other men of such stature never fulfilled a single mitzvah in their entire lives! For this reason, it would initially appear that the Sifrei is not to be taken literally. However, based on the concept we have developed, perhaps we can explain that it is. On a national level, mitzvos can only exist in Eretz Yisrael. Mitzvos cannot create a culture and a national lifestyle in exile and any attempt to do so in the Jewish communities of exile pale in comparison to what once was and what will once again be in Eretz Yisrael (and what has begun to be already). The communities in which we live are mere imitations of the lifestyle of Eretz Yisrael and are practice for when we return to the land. On a technical individual level though, mitzvos can be fulfilled outside of Eretz Yisrael as well. One can refrain from melachah on Shabbos and technically fulfill the mitzvah of observing Shabbos although he does not experience Shabbos in its ideal form. We can now understand why the very first command to the first Jew was “go from your homeland and your father’s house to the land I will show you”. Eretz Yisrael, as we have defined it - the Torah’s keili or receptor allowing for the implementation of its ideals in practical everyday lifestyle, serves an indispensable role in Avodas Hashem. Our generation has merited to see the beginning of the return of Jewish lifestyle to Eretz Yisrael and it is incumbent upon us to see to it that Torah continues to spread throughout the land. Our celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut would not be complete if we did not take a moment to appreciate the mission that lies ahead of us in furthering the process of the unfolding of our ge’ulah.
Hatzioni Would Like to Wish You a Yom Haâ€™Atzmaut Sameach!
Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
‘Red Lines’ on Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Israeli and American Perspectives on Current Crises in the Middle East By Moshe Bochner The objective of this research paper is to identify the ‘red lines’ drawn by the United States and Israel in response to developments by Syria and Iran in the arena of Weapons of Mass Destruction, the reasons for the diﬀering ‘red lines’, and possible responses by either country should their ‘red lines’ be crossed. The content of this research paper is significant because it addresses a current issue- Weapons of Mass Destruction- and proves that if in the wrong hands, these weapons can cause harm to millions of people, and therefore must be eliminated. The method by which research was conducted for this paper was by locating news articles and direct references detailing the red lines expressed by both countries. Articles that also contained information about possible military responses to Iran and Syria were used to articulate the fragility of the situation from both sides, as well as direct quotations to show the extent of the threats on Israel. A#er employing the aforementioned research methods, it has become obvious that if Iran continues with its uranium enrichment program, Israel will take military action quicker than the United States will, as they fear Iran will develop nuclear weapons. This fear stems from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad outspoken desire to obliterate Israel. But America has less to fear, as their existence is not at stake. Regarding Syria, it was found that Israel will only take military action if its chemical weapons are transferred to Hezbollah, as the organization is bent on destroying Israel. America, though, will only use force if chemical weapons are used on Syrian people, as they have humanitarian concerns.
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A#er reading this research paper, it must be concluded that Iran’s and Syria’s arsenal of nuclear and chemical weapons pose a serious threat to the safety of millions of peoples in the Middle East and the balance of power. Therefore, the issues of Weapons of Mass Destruction in both countries must be dealt with as soon as possible in a civil manner, or the ensuing military confrontations will result in world-wide conflict and widespread death. Ever since the devastation of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs during World War II (WWII), and since the Cold War arms race of Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM’s) and nuclear weaponry, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) have been a sensitive topic for politicians in the international community. Although only a minute percentage of countries actually possess, or have the capability of assembling, such powerful weapons, it is an issue that is o#en the subject of debate in the international community. Many nations fear that countries in the process of producing the necessary components of certain WMD’s, such as nuclear weapons, or those countries already in possession of large stockpiles of other forms of WMD’s, such as chemical weapons, seek to employ these weapons and ultimately destroy entire countries or groups of people It is precisely due to such a fear that countries in danger, namely Israel, and hegemonies, specifically the United States, have drawn ‘red lines’ on the use and development of Weapons of Mass Destruction. In particular, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has drawn a red line on Iran’s nuclear program, setting a line that is both stricter and harsher than that of the United States. Israel has made it no secret that if necessary, their response to Iran crossing this ‘red line’ would come quicker than that of the United States, as Israel believes their country is at a graver risk and has much more at stake with the realities of a nuclear Iran. In addition to thresholds articulated on the ongoing Iranian issue, Israel has also drawn ‘red lines’ on the current situation in Syria- the possible use of chemical weapons in the wake of a twenty-one month old revolution. Such a red line on Syria diﬀers greatly than that the United States. Again, this is because Israel has far more at stake, as the leaders fear for the safety of their citizenry. Therefore, if Syria crosses this ‘red line’ they would elicit a much quicker and harsher response from Israel than from the United States. In the 1950’s, Iran’s nuclear program began with the backing of the United States and other Western Countries. A#er the 1979 revolution, however, the program was le# to die, primarily as a result of the Ayatollah’s disapproval. However, the program began again in earnest with the advent of the Iran- Iraq war, and has progressed until this day. Today, as Iran becomes a force in the Middle East with significant influence over other nations and organizations in the region, they have increased nuclear production. According to a recent report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Tehran intends to double the number of high-intensity centrifuges at its Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant from 700 to 1,400. Using these centrifuges, Iranian scientists can now enrich enough uranium to arm a nuclear weapon. According to Michael Adler of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Iran is already capable of producing a nuclear weapon. Many Israelis believe that Iran may have other enrichment eﬀorts underway, perhaps in secret installations not known to the IAEA, and are therefore much closer to producing a nuclear weapon than was previously believed. Although it is a party to the Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT), whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to attempt to achieve nuclear disarmament, Iran has not complied with its agreement on numerous occasions. For instance, Iran has failed to declare its enrichment program and has allegedly begun weaponization. Israel’s main fear is that Iran will use their nuclear capabilities in an eﬀort to destroy the State and kill all Jews. The fact that Iran conceals parts of its nuclear program only adds to the mass panic. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has outwardly called for the destruction of Israel, saying its existence is an “insult to all humanity”. On Iran’s Quds Day in
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in August, where banners that read “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” were hoisted into the air with rage and disdain, Ahmadinejad declared, “The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumour.” He also promised that “in the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionists” a#er annihilating “the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian Land.” As the danger increases and fear is rampant across Israel and Jewish communities worldwide, Israel’s leadership has decided to bring reality to light in the international community. In his most recent speech to the United Nations in September, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew a clear ‘red line’ on Iran’s nuclear program, as he believes a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat to Israel. He said that a ‘red line’ should be drawn “before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb. Before Iran gets to a point where it’s a few months away, or a few weeks away, from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon”, which may be as soon as the Spring or Summer of 2013. He declared that it is not sensible to rely on intelligence agencies to prevent a possible nuclear attack from Iran a#er they have already produced a weapon; rather, the international community must pressure Iran to discontinue their program and preempt what seems to be a horrible and daunting reality. He believes that if faced with a clear ‘red line’ on their nuclear program, Iran will back down, preventing potential wars and full scale attacks from both sides. Israel’s ‘red line’ is clear cut- the ability of Iran to “produce enough fissile material for a single nuclear device”. If Iran does reach this ‘red line’, which seems probable based on evidence from the IAEA, Israeli leaders have aﬃrmed that they will have no compunctions in flouting United States wishes and may stage a unilateral military strike on Iran, even though the assistance of the far superior and more advanced United States military would be incredibly helpful. In the last week, Netanyahu asserted that “Israel is more capable of addressing this challenge than it was when I took oﬃce four years ago,” referring to possible military action in response to Iran’s nuclear development. Some contend that Netanyahu has had a strike strategy on Iran’s nuclear facilities ready to implement since 2010. In stark contrast to Israel’s ‘red line’ on Iran’s nuclear program, the United States seems less intent on pressuring Iran to reconsider its nuclear agenda. According to an intelligence source, Stratfor, the United States will consider military action only if Iran exhibits the “intent and capability to weaponize a nuclear device.” In eﬀorts to reassure Israeli leaders, President Barack Obama declared he will not allow Iran to create nuclear weapons, and will use force as a last resort to prevent it, as the United States possesses far more powerful bunker busting bombs than Israel does. In recent weeks, United States oﬃcials have said that Obama plans to allow four to five months for talks with Iran to succeed, and only then would he consider military action. But, many American intelligence agencies still believe that Iran is not capable of acquiring nuclear weapons. Although the United States has continuously imposed sanctions on Iran that have acutely damaged the economy, and have enacted embargoes and have frozen Iranian assets, its leadership has not been as forceful as Israel would like. Benjamin Netanyahu has continuously suggested that the United States focus more on Iran, urging Obama to take action before it is too late. Netanyahu reiterated that, if necessary, he will approve a military strike even without aid from the United States. But, the United States will likely be pulled into the ensuing region-wide conflict that is likely to arise. Understanding that the United States does not wish to involve itself in yet another war, Netanyahu has essentially given Obama an ultimatum: stop Iran, or war is imminent. Netanyahu has repeatedly declared that the problem must be confronted in 2013.
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Clearly, the United States does not have a sense of urgency regarding Iran’s nuclear development equivalent to that of Israel. The main reason for this disparity is the United States disinterest in once again involving itself in Middle Eastern wars and aﬀairs. Another reason is because Obama does not wish to enrage the Muslim world and bring terrorism to its streets. Israel, on the other hand, has a smaller military, less equipment, is more apt to an Iranian attack, and has the lives of its citizens and its existence at stake. It is obvious that Israel’s ‘red- line’ will be reached sooner than the United States, and therefore, a preemptive Israeli strike on Iran is a near certainty, as it has much more at stake than America. In July, the sixteenth month of Syria’s ongoing revolution, a spokesman for the Ba’ath Party’s foreign ministry indicated that the government would use chemical weapons if attacked by a foreign country. It has also been reported that the ‘ruling’ regime has threatened to use chemical weapons in al-Zabadani, and has distributed gas masks to its’ troops. Major- General Adnan Sillu stated that prior to his defection, there were plans put in place by Syrian oﬃcials to use chemical weapons on civilians and the opposition movement. In recent weeks, Syrian forces reportedly loaded bombs with components of sarin gas, a deadly nerve gas, which must be used within sixty days. As the Syrian government continues to lose power and land to the opposition forces and an end to the fighting does not seem near, the possibility of chemical weapons being deployed increases daily. In response to reports and accusations that Syria possesses extremely powerful and deadly chemical weapons, Israel’s ambassador to the United States Michael Oren has drawn a ‘red line’. He stated that any evidence of chemical weapons being transferred from the Assad regime to the extremist group Hezbollah would be a ‘game changer’ for Israel. Oren voiced his concern, stating: “Can you imagine if Hezbollah and its 70,000 rockets would get its hand on chemical weapons? That could kill thousands of people.” When he called the movement of chemical weapons a ‘game changer’, Oren implied that Israel would use military force to combat Hezbollah if they received these dangerous weapons. The reason that Israel will respond forcibly against Hezbollah if they receive such weapons is because of Hezbollah’s predilection to kill Israelis and destroy the country in its entirety. In November, Hezbollah leader Sheik Nasrallah warned Israel that in a future war thousands of rockets would be fired towards major population centers in Israel, promising that he will turn Israeli’s lives to “hell.” Thus, Israel’s response to the possibility of Hezbollah acquiring chemical weapons will be stern and forceful, as they fear that Hezbollah may use these chemical weapons against Israel. As they closely monitor the movement of Syrian chemical weapons, the United States has also declared a ‘red line’. President Barack Obama asserted that there would be ‘consequences’ if Syrian President Bashar AlAssad uses chemical weapons on Syrian citizens or opposition forces. Echoing his words, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton stressed that if the United States found “credible evidence that the Assad administration has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people”, the American government plans on taking action. Clinton did not specify what the consequences of finding “credible evidence” would be, although she is likely referring to military action. Some have suggested that the United States best option would be to wipe out the Syrian air force that would release the chemical weapons, thus preventing use of these weapons on Syrian people. The United States will respond to the movement of chemical weapons in Syria in such a manner mostly for humanitarian reasons, as they fear for the safety of innocent Syrian people under Assad’s rule. But another reason for their involvement may be to increase the extent of their hegemonic powers in the Middle East and to indirectly and passively display their opposition to Iran, Syria’s “strategic” ally.
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As Iran continues to develop its nuclear program with little opposition from the international community and Syria is torn asunder by a lengthy revolution, the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction has come to the forefront of American and Israeli foreign policy. In response to Iran continuously advancing its nuclear program to the extent that the creation of a nuclear weapon seems imminent, Israel has a drawn a clear ‘red line’: if Iran enriches enough uranium to create a nuclear weapon, Israel will be forced to take military action against them, with or without the United States beside them. The United States ‘red line’ would be passed if Iran displays intent to use a nuclear weapon, and Obama plans to use force only as a last resort. Clearly, Israel will be quicker to respond to Iranian nuclear development, as its existence is at stake, while the United States would prefer not to involve itself in Middle Eastern conflicts once again. Regarding war torn Syria, Israel has drawn a ‘red line’ far diﬀerent than the United States: the passing of chemical weapons to the extremist group Hezbollah will cause Israel to take military action. The United States, on the other hand, has resolved to “take action” if these chemical weapons are used on the Syrian people. Again, Israel’s response diﬀers because they fear for the safety of its people as Hezbollah perpetually threatens to destroy them, while America’s ‘red line’ is a result of humanitarianism. As such grave threats from both Hezbollah and Iran grip Israel, a military clash with either, or both, may come in the near future, and America may stand idly by to preserve their own interests, much like the 1981 bombing of the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq.
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Chems on the Move: The Increasingly Explosive WMD Situation in Syria by Jesse Tawil Hezbollah and Al Qaeda already have chemical weapons. Now what? As many of you may know, the ongoing conflict in Syria has garnered much attention from observers worldwide, with the issue of Syria’s chemical weapons one of the most pressing. What if the regime collapses without a proper safety net to guard the chems? What if terrorists get their hands on the chems? What if the regime uses them, either against its own people or to provoke a neighbor into war? What if indeed?! Don’t worry people, because you can rest well knowing an answer to these questions. Yes, the weapons are secure...with HEZBOLLAH. WHAAA%???? Terrorists with chems!?!? Unfortunately, this isn’t recent. This happened 8 months ago. That’s right, 8 months ago. According to an article in the Washington Post a few months ago, a Syrian defector who was in the chemical weapons department said that Hezbollah had already been given some chemical weapons from Syria, and that in addition, the Syrian government put the chemical weapons laboratories in giant trucks to hide them from Western intelligence agencies (CIA,Mossad, M16) and the rebels. In other words, the nukes are loose and anyone could get it, even Jabhat al Nusra, the al qaeda front group spearheading the armed rebellion. (According to an article in Debkafile, they already do. Damn it!!) The questions, especially as rational people, should start to flood the government oﬃces across the world. Why did the government keep us in the dark? Why didn’t they do something about it? Why didn’t we intervene? Why? Why? WHY??!! I can’t say why we got into this mess other than the obvious (the governments panicked early, and now we’re all stuck in this quagmire) but I will say how we got into this mess and what Israel and America should do about it.
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Shortly a#er the Libyan Revolution of 2011 started to wind down, with NATO’s bombing campaign drawing to a close, the Syrian Revolution started going militant (the opposition was peaceful for the first six months of the uprising). When asked about the possibility of foreign intervention in Syria to protect the civilians from being slaughtered by Bashar Assad’s army (while secretly hoping this would lead to his overthrow), Col Rassmussen, NATO’s chief oﬃcer flatly ruled out the possibility of intervention in Syria, citing a lack of regional support and the consensus of the international community. That was true of the world powers, particularly as Russia and China, Syria’s main world power backers, would never agree with the West a#er being, what they perceived, tricked into overthrowing Col Gaddafi’s regime in Libya by succumbing to the West’s demands to intervene in Libya before Gaddafi wiped out Benghazi, capital of the Libyan Revolt. Bashar al Assad tried to dispel any idea of intervention, saying on numerous occasions that Syria would become an Afghanistan if intervention occurred, that a rebel victory would negatively impact the region, and even threatened to use the chemical weapons on foreign powers if they attacked Syria, a threat he later retracted. Russia and China used their veto powers more than once to block any meaningful U.N. measures designed to punish Syria, and are actively involved in propping up his regime. But the claim that there was enough regional support for an idea to intervene in Syria was just stupid. The Gulf Monarchies, in particular of pro West Sunni States, were ecstatic that an opportunity to get back at Iran for the loss of Iraq in the sectarian war in the Middle East had risen, and they desperately wanted to arm the Syrian rebels, who were just starting to coalesce into the Free Syrian Army, which for the first six months of the uprising was the only rebel group fighting the government. Repeat, only, before the Jabhat al Nusra group (the Al Qaeda group that has spearheaded many of the most recent rebel gains and a big reason why the naysayers screwed us all over) started building into a major rebel group comprised of many foreign jihadists. But the West didn’t want to support arming the rebels was because we thought there were terrorists on the ground. Therefore, we forbade the Gulf from aiding the rebels at all, only non lethal aid for the first year of the insurgency. What a waste. One of the boneheaded reasons we didn’t intervene in Syria was because we were afraid of Syria becoming a divided state like Iraq if we gave the opposition (mainly Sunni) weapons to defeat Bashar’s Alawite government, it would lead to the weakening of Syria’s central government, control of the chems, and flood an already dangerous region with yet more weapons, with the ramifications aﬀecting every major regional dynamic. From the Israeli Arab wars to terrorism, sectarianism and WMD’s as well as the Kurdish issue, which spans four countries and has been a source of misery for all parties involved, Syria, the so called experts said, had to be le# alone, and that it would be over soon, with either side winning in the end. Morons. We listened and now we got burned with this. So anyways, the civil war went on, and before you knew it, the rebels, despite not having any foreign aid or any military assistance whatsoever, were encroaching on Damascus the capital in February 2012 and had taken controls of swaths of the countryside, o#en with bloody retaliation from the Syrian army. Something in Assad’s head snapped, and two months later it seemed like the tables had turned on the rebels and that Assad was closing in for the victory. Sure enough, Kofi Annan comes along with his poorly enforced peace plan, which bought the beleaguered rebels enough time to regroup and get enough weapons from the Gulf Monarchs, who finally got the green light from America to aid the rebels, albeit with limited quantities of small arms. Three months later they invaded Damascus and Aleppo, only to see part of their gains melt before their eyes. Since then its been a slow road back towards conquering Syria, but lately things have been looking up, although slowly. You’re probably wondering, alright, what’s Jess digging at. Now I’m getting to it. From the beginning of the revolution, a major fear was that Assad would use the chemical weapons on his own people, on a hostile neighbor (Israel, Turkey, Jordan) or even transfer his chemical weapons to Hezbollah and other pro Iranian
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terror groups in the region. For the first year no one really thought about the chems until the rebels looked like they were going to emerge victorious, which prompted the pro Assad lobby in America (yes, a lobby for a hostile state, I know) to firmly quash any idea of supporting the rebels while still insisting there was a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria even though Assad had all along scorned us and spurned our eﬀorts to reach out to him. The rest of the international community could only issue vague warnings about the danger in Syria and that something has to be done to ensure the Syrians don’t cross any red line. Every time the question of control of the chemical weapons came up, it prompted the world powers to stop all meaningful talk of aiding the rebels until they realized they couldn’t hold out any longer because the worst predictions had come true. Last year, the West repeatedly threatened Syria with military action over improper usage of the chemical weapons, especially when reports came out that the Syrians were consolidating their chems into fewer locations. Russia “assured” us that nothing illegal or fishy was happening. How naive. The Russians, in collusion with the Iranians, were helping Assad get his chemical weapons ready for use against the region AND to give away to Hezbollah to use against its enemies, mainly Israel (Gulp). Throw in the fact that the government lost some of the chems in battle to the Nusra group and we’re talking about two mutually hostile terrorist groups with chems aimed against each other and want to then use it on Israel and Jordan a#erwards. In other words, all we did was whine about Syria’s chems like a bunch of old grandmas and demand something be done about it, yet no one stepped forth to set a proposal “we wanted”. Pfeh. Obama’s leading from behind was the worst game of Hot Potato I can remember since the Benchwarmers. So now that we know what went wrong (too much hand wringing and foot dragging on the issue) what could we do now with the knowledge that we botched the last year and a half. I say three things. One is that, yes, the Syrian opposition is notoriously divided and its hard to find a partner to achieve Western strategic goals in Syria. But now we are atoning for that, somewhat, by training and arming moderate rebel elements in Syria, something which should have been a long time ago. It took Jordan this long to realize that trying to maintain the status quo was only going to backfire hard on them. They now have to support 300k refugees in a weak economy. The second is that we should send in a special ops contingent, along with a force of trusted rebels, and have them locate all chemical weapons facilities, then call in airstrikes to bomb the lights out of the labs. Just like Israel did to Syria in 2007 with the nuke reactor. As for the loose chems in the lab trucks, what can I say. At least if we destroy most of the chems the terrorists will run out of their own soon enough.(fingers crossed) And finally, to reach out to those who share our common views and goals and support them, because a#er Bashar goes, the intra rebel fighting will be headline news, along with the sectarian conflict. So hopefully if the bureaucrats in DC and Jerusalem get their acts together, they can salvage what has been a massive waste of an opportunity.
Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
Syrians: Nothing More, Nothing Less by Rafael Anapolle Syrian rebels said on Thursday, March 28, 2013, that rebel forces had hit an Iranian plane while it was on the runway in the Damascus airport because the plane was suspected of carrying weapons into the country. According to reports from a Syrian rebel source, the forces spontaneously fired at the plane as it landed at Damascus airport and the plane went up in flames a#er being hit. Al Jazeera, a news agency, quoted conflicting sources that said the smoke from the explosion and fighting in the area caused a stoppage to passenger traﬃc. The network reported that the Syrian oﬃcial media said, “a fire broke out because of an electrical short-circuit.” The Syrian Arab News Agency quoted the Damascus International Airport Administration as “denying the reports”, stating that “the airport continued to operate normally.” The report stated, “News circulated by some media outlets, which are partners in the bloodshed of the Syrians, regarding the airport is false and untrue.” In my opinion, this unconfirmed rumor, where Syrian rebels reported that an airplane was “shot into flames because it was suspected of carrying weapons from Iran”, is complete lies. Meanwhile, the Damascus International Airport claimed that nothing had happened. Personally, I believe that the rebels have released this unconfirmed rumor as a distraction for the Syrians and to try to get Israel’s attention. Throughout this civil war in Syria, there has been multiple times where the war has caused Israel to get involved. I believe that the rebels are trying to get Israel to oﬀer support to the rebels and fight by their side. We know that if these reports are confirmed to be true Israel will become extremely interested in the “possibility” of intervening in the conflict in Syria. However, I don’t believe that this rebel report was true, because, if you look closely at the picture released, it would appear to be completely fraudulent. Ultimately, we have to always be open-minded and think of the results that could emerge from this rumor in the unlikely case that it is, actually, true.
Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
My Shabbos In Amona by Aryeh Schonbrun
My purpose in writing this short piece is to relate to my audience the feelings I experienced while visiting an important village in the Samaria (Binyamin County) in Israel. Twenty minutes due north of Jerusalem, adjacent to an established, suburban settlement named ( עופרהOfra), rests a quiet hilltop village. The village, founded in 1995, consists of around forty large families, all living in semi-temporary structures amidst an unbelievably gorgeous background of natural streams, olive trees and the semi-mountainous terrain that separates עמונה from the surrounding Jewish and Arab villages. In eﬀect, these villagers have found a quaint, rustic lifestyle for themselves upon an uninhabited mount in the Samarian steppe, within commuting distance of Jerusalem, Ariel (a central Samarian city) and the Mercaz. This lifestyle, though, is not without obstacles, and has been under attack from its founding around twenty years ago. While the inhabitants live in relative peace with their Arab and Jewish neighbors, the Israeli government, led by the Israeli High Court, has repeatedly threatened, and carried out destruction upon the small village. In early 2006, pent-up anger over the Gush Katif and Northern Samaria destructions led to a standoﬀ with army troops that has epitomized the settlement movement ever since. Many were hurt, including two members of the Israeli Knesset, as a result of the forced evacuation and the subsequent destruction of nine permanent houses that were built on the village’s land. While not all the Israeli public supported the anti-government protests, the clash, televised live on national television, stunned the Israeli populace at the army’s show of brutality upon the mostly-peaceful and greatly outnumbered protesters. Seven years have passed since the tumult, but the scars remain. Children play in the remnants of their former homes, reminded of the day their army betrayed them with every walk to shul, every ride to school. The community has since regrouped, grown once more, but the specter of another evacuation is always a tangible fear and a near point on the horizon. Recently, the Israeli Supreme Court has put the issue back on its radar,
Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
adjusting its sights and waiting for the right moment to act again on their assumption that the settlement is “illegal.” It has designated early April for the execution of the destruction, but we shall wait and see if it will actually come to pass. Even in the face of this uncertainty, the villagers continue with their lives, raising children, contributing to society and to their special community. They are active members of mainstream Israeli society, serving full terms in the army, paying their taxes to county and state governments. They do not consider themselves to be anything other than normal families who wish to live in peace in their hilltop village. To be honest, I was half-expecting messianic meshugaim, devoted to the ideal ( )מצווהof יישוב ארץ ישראל (settlement of the holy land), with little regard to what the law or morality might say about their actions. In fact, I found quite the opposite: a vibrant, engaging, hospitable, loving community, with common goals and values. One that honors and recognizes both the State of Israel, as well as natural democratic and moral values as they pertain to their unique position in the Judeo-Arab relations in the Judea and Samaria. It is my wish to assign a name, face and meaning to this amazing place, allowing for it to mean more to us than just a point on the contested map of the West Bank. I hope to humanize the conflict, thus giving us room to reconsider what is really meant by the terms “settler” and “illegal,” and to provide a starting point for continued productive discussion on what Israel means to us as [religious] Jews.
Weinstein’s Travel’s by Eli Weinstein Not too deep in the sandy Judean desert of Israel, less than an hour from the holiest city in the world, lies a canyon named for its history, not its size. The hike is not the site where Moshe Rabbeinu battled Og the giant in the Torah, it's actually named a#er the Sumac plant that grows there which is Og in Hebrew. Nahal Og is a perfect hike for an adventurous family looking for a short tiyul. The hike through the canyon should take an American family between one and two hours and if you make aliya- you could do it in less than an hour. Nahal Og features the classic israeli rugged-rocky type hike with the gorgeous eroded canyon to gawk at during the tiyul. It ends in a loop so you won't end up by the dead sea with no car or water and feel that sense of complete hopelessness-which is never fun. Just make sure to read the sign that shows where to exit to the parking lot instead of continuing through the hike (which I did by mistake- you know when you end up by the dead sea with no car or water and feel that sense of complete hopelessness?) which would take you to the dead sea a#er three more hours of walking. The most diﬃcult the hike gets is when you must climb a twenty-metal-rung ladder a few times. Take your kids- but first make Aliyah so that it can be hiked more eﬃciently. For all the mothers out there who are terrified of the Israeli Tiyulim, this one's for you.
Faces In Politics
By David Aaronson
Last November, Israel' s Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, announced he would retire from politics, once a new coalition government is formed. Barak has served as Defense Minister since 2007. in the governments of Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu. He was also chairman of the le#ist Labor Party, until forming the Atzmaut Party in 2011. He was the Prime Minister of Israel from 1999 until 2001, during which he oﬀered Yasser Arafat a Palestinian State, consisting of the entire Gaza Strip, all of the West Bank, and 97% of East Jerusalem. Arafat rejected the oﬀer and then launched the Second intifada against Israel. Barak, 70, was recently awarded with a medal of honor by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. He has been mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Shimon Peres as the next President of Israel.
John Kerry was sworn in last week as the 68th United States Secretary of State. He replaces Hillary Clinton, who has retired from politics. Kerry, a Democrat, had served as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts since 1985. He was chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, having visited Israel dozens of times. During his unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2004, it was revealed that Kerry's late father, Richard, was born to a Jewish family of Kohanim, before later embracing Catholicism. Secretary Kerry's paternal grandparents were Fritz and Ida Cohen of Europe. Fearing persecution for their Jewish faith, they changed thwir last name from' Cohen' to' Kerry.' Upon discovering his Jewish roots, the secretary's brother, Cameron Kerry, underwent a formal conversion to Judaism. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed his happiness over Kerry's new job. The Prime Minister recalled when Kerry paid him a shiva visit, following the loss of his father. Immediately a#er taking oﬃce, Kerry telephoned both Netanyahu and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, urging them to resume direct peace talks. Kerry's first trip abroad as Secretary of State was to Israel, at the end of February.
Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013
Interview With Dovi Guggenheim By Ari Walach Dov Guggenheim made Aliyah from MTA in 10th grade Dov Guggenheim(DG) is currently learning in a school called Yeshiva Techonit Madaait, Maale Adumim The following is an interview conducted by Ari Wallach(AW): AW: How did you learn about the Yeshiva Techonit Madaait, Maale Adumim? DG: I have a couple of close friends who learn there and they have a stellar reputation. AW: Are you moving with your family? DG: No, I’m moving alone. I’m living at friends in Efrat. AW: Why did you want to move to Israel so badly? DG: I always had a very positive attitude about Israel. I lived there for a year and I visit very o#en, and the ruach and atmosphere there is second to none. I love everything about the country. It’s truly hard to explain how deeply ingrained my love of Israel is- it’s something you feel when you’re there. Come visit and I’ll show you why. AW: What were your top moments/things in MTA?
Hatzioni: Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2013 DG: 1) Rabbi Pearl’s shiur in the 9th grade
Page 35 Phone: +972584735288 AW: Where was your favorite place in MTA?
2) the spirit 3) the friends I have!!
DG: The den and the library were nice, and Golan has to be up there, but the best place has to be the beis!!!!
4) The teachers/admins!! 5) The culture/ diversity 6) Schwarma Laﬀa; hakol DG: If you (MTA) guys want to contact me: Email: email@example.com Facebook: Dov Guggenheim Instagram: @dovguggenheim Twitter: @DGuggenheim
AW: Did you enjoy the Likrat Shabbat the best for your last day in MTA? DG: That, and the warmth and encouragement of everyone regarding my Aliyah
by Ari Walach
• On Friday May 14, 1948, the 5th of Iyar 5708, Israel was founded. • Israel was attacked for the first time a few days later, it became known as the Independence War. • David Ben-Gurion was Israel’s first prime minister • The Arizal Shul is one of the most famous shuls in Tzefat. It is so famous because it is one of the oldest shuls around Israel. • Rachel was buried in Kever Rachel in Beit Lechem. • The largest city in Israel is Jerusalem. • The capital of Israel is also Jerusalem. • There were 33,000 people who made Aliyah as of March 2013 with Nefesh B’Nefesh. • 2,500 people who made Aliyah went into the army as of March 2013. • Dov Guggenheim made aliyah on 3/5/13
The Team Editors in Chief: Shlomo Anapolle, Binyamin Pfeiﬀer, & Eli Weinstein
Design: Natanel Niazoﬀ Photography: Shimmy Socol Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Eli Cohn Rosh Yeshiva and Head of School: Rabbi Taubes
The front cover features a member of the Hatzioni club: Yehoshua Szafranski.
Staff: Meir Finkelstein, Avi Borgen, Moshe Bochner, Jesse Tawil, David Aaronson, Ari Walach, Ezra Teichman, Asher Finkelstein, Yisrael Friedenberg, Rafael Anapolle, Jason Blatt, & (Could be you)
Junior Editors: Shaya Kestenbaum & Natanel Niazoﬀ