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If Not Now, When?

nymag.com

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” So said the 1st century Jewish sage ‘Hillel the Elder’, or ‘Hillel the Wiser’ (as I prefer to call him), whom most—if not all—of you I’m sure are familiar with. Same goes with the above aphorism, his most well-known saying. It serves also, by name and by idea, the ‘IfNotNow’ movement, “founded in July 2014 to protest American Jewish institutional support for Israel’s actions during the 2014 Israeli-Gaza conflict (according to Wikipedia). Their first action was to recite the Jewish prayer of mourning, the Mourner’s Kaddish, for all Palestinian and Israeli victims of the war outside the offices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.”

But before I move on to the reason I’m writing about it now, a confession: In the summer of 2002 I led a group of Jewish students from UC Davis and Sacramento State on a ‘Birthright’ trip to Israel. That experience was especially dear to me, visiting the old country with young people who have never visited the ‘land of milk and honey’ before. And while we stopped almost daily at various places, to sit in a circle and discuss the significance of our visit in those places—including historical facts and political implications, not shying away from some hard questions—we did not visit the occupied territories, other than the Golan Heights.

Admittingly, times in 2002 were very different. The trip—an act of not insignificant courage on the part of the students and their parents—began short of two weeks after the vicious terrorist attack in the Tel Aviv’s Dolphinarium where 21 Israelis, 16 of them teenagers, were murdered. Jerusalem was terrorized by random, if frequent terrorist attacks on buses and in street cafes. Security during the trip was a prime concern, and the possibility of visiting the West Bank was not even remotely on the agenda. The decision to stop in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood (if I remember correctly), and allow the students to stroll around, visit shops and cafes for an hour or two, was a major headache. Visiting Hebron, Ramallah, or even some close by settlements was impossible.

Now, you may ask, why am I bringing it up? Here’s why: I first learned of the ‘IfNotNow’ movement when it was associated—even blamed for—in the Israeli media for a trickle of Jewish students who, while visiting Israel as part of the ‘Birthright’ trip, decided that they wanted to see for themselves—how audacious of them, really?—the occupied territories of the West Bank, and learn firsthand what life there is all about for the Palestinian population, what the occupation does to them, the Israeli Army rule and role, the checkpoints (see the picture above) effect on everyday life. In short, they wanted to know, and sort out the truth for themselves, not eat without questions what was spoon-fed to them by the trip’s organizers and counselors.

A storm irrupted, of course. The rebellious students were ostracized by the trip’s tour guides, and those in charge did not allow then to continue with the scheduled trip, and I believe they had to pay their way back home to America by themselves. Still, the movement grew, as more and more conscientious young people continued to demand to know the truth: What really the Jewish state is doing, inflicting such pain on the Palestinian People? And to what end? It was also, immediately associated with the IfNotNow movement as the catalyst to this new phenomenon. Blaming that movement for starting this mini-rebellious in the first place.

Now whether this is true I don’t know, and “frankly, I don’t give a damn.” The crux of the matter, and with it the battle for the hearts and minds of young Jews, is what matters most. Which brings me to a story in Haaretz that I recently shared on Facebook, where a young woman demonstrating on behalf of ‘IfNotNow’ wore a shirt imprinted with this slogan: “The Jewish people future demands Palestinian freedom.” How refreshing, how appropriate: Hitting the occupation’s nail right on its head. This is something I believed in for a long time, and referred to not once on this blog. I therefore applaud all these young Jewish students and not students, urging them to keep demonstrating all around the country with this slogan carried upfront (again, see above picture).

However, it is important to point out that the Palestinian people deserves justice—historically and currently—no matter what, and not only because by granting them this justice the future of the Jewish people will also be secured. More so: The Zionist dream and endeavor of establishing Israel as the secured home for the Jewish people, cannot be fully achieved without granting similar rights to the Palestinian people. This simple equation, which I’ve tried to explain many times to American Jews since immigrating—with considerable resistance and abuse from their side—still exists today at the core of this historic conflict.

What Hillel, the most famous of Jewish sages knew so well more than 2000 years ago was that one, you—as a person and as a people—have to STRIVE to achieve justice for yourself. But that second, if this justice is JUST for yourself—again, as a person and as a people—then what is the justification for it, really? And third that the TASK of achieving this justice—for you and for the other—cannot wait. It must be work for now. Without delay!

* The ‘Leave a Comment’ link is the last tag below, in blue.

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‘Deal of the Century’ Revealed!

jpost.com

BREAKING NEWS: You are about to learn the details—minus necessary redactions here and there—of President Trump and peace-negotiator-in-chief Jerad Kushner (with the blessing of the architect behind the scenes, PM Benjamin Netanyahu), long-in-the-making peace plan for solving—once and for all!—the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

How did I get hold of it, you ask? Ah, well… you know me, I can’t lie. And the truth is, I woke up one morning this last week from unsettling dreams (to paraphrase Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’), and found myself in bed changed into an enlightened man. And in my head, lo and behold, was the entire plan. The whole deal, people, plain and simple.

I got out of bed and stumbled onto my computer and hit the keyboard full-forced, as my mind was obsessed with telling you all about it. But wait, I have some military-experience, some security-service background too, and even without anybody telling me what to do, I decided—‘conscientious’ is my middle name—to do some extra work on the document and give you just the summary, redacted here and there for security reasons, in order not to jeopardize the successful negotiation and implementation of the plan.

Enough talking. Here it is then, point-by-point, starting with what NOT in the plan. First—there will NOT be a Palestinian state. Second—East Jerusalem will NOT be the capital of a future Palestinian state. Third—there will NOT be a right-of-return for the Palestinian People (even those born in old Palestine, now Israel—but all Jews, wherever they are born, will continue to have the-right-of return throughout the land, from the river to the sea.) Fourth—the new Palestinian entity will NOT have an army. Fifth—the Palestinians will NOT have an uncontrolled, free-flowing land connection between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Now to what the Palestinians WILL have. On the outskirts of Jerusalem, they WILL have the Abu Dis village as their capital (if they really need it, since they won’t have an independent state anyhow, and might as well stay in Ramallah). They WILL have a full autonomy in the places—areas, towns, villages—which are currently under their control. They WILL have a huge, tremendous—the biggest ever!—financial and economic aid from the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. And to top it all, they WILL be allowed to breathe freely—no taxes at all!—the clear, Biblical Judean Hills air, and to work, marry, even have sexual intercourse as much as they wish, and have children who will grow up in their beautiful—controlled albeit by Israel—Autonomy Plus.

As for Israel: Not a single settlement and not a single settler, WILL be evacuated from what used to be called—very wrongly!—the “Occupied Territories.” All these areas, the roads leading to them and the walls protecting them, WILL be annexed to Israel proper, and WILL be known from now on (in this document and elsewhere) as “Judea and Samaria.” Israel WILL have the entire, undivided, eternal Jerusalem as its capital (granting free access to the Holy sites, regardless of religion). Israel WILL continue to have its security-services and army-forces patrolling and controlling the Palestinian-territories (whatever they wish to call it). Needless to say, Israel WILL continue its presence and control of the Jordan Valley, safeguarding its eastern front.

Addendum to this summery. Hostility: Must cease and desist between the two parties; any violation WILL render this agreement null. Armed Forces: The Palestinian Autonomy WILL have no army, as stated, other than police; the Israeli State WILL continue to develop and extend its army as needed, including as many nuclear warheads it deems necessary (under this agreement, Israel WILL never again be asked to join the ‘Non-Proliferation Treaty’.) Traveling: The Palestinian People WILL travel freely between their towns and villages, but WILL need special permits to travel to Israel or abroad, and WILL continue to pass through check-points. Israel WILL maintain control of sea, land, and air. However, under a special arrangement with the liberal city of Tel Aviv, the Palestinian People WILL be able to freely enjoy the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea, and even to look longingly at Jaffa, where their ancestors had used to live before the war of 1948.

Lastly: By signing this peace-deal, the parties accept it wholly without reservations. As reward for the Palestinian Authority choosing corporation over corruption, Israel WILL host a celebratory soccer match between the parties in the near future. Likewise, the great President Trump—best leader ever!—WILL host the leaders of the two parties in the White House for an elaborate signing ceremony, with Roseanne Barr as MC, with a grand party to follow at the Trump Hotel, financed entirely by MbS, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, with Vladimir Putin in attendance.

THIS JUST IN: Israel, the Jewish State, has agreed already to sign this deal. Palestine, the Arab Autonomy, hasn’t done so yet. My “sources” at the administration are telling me that they can surrender and sign it, or commit suicide. Entirely up to them.

* The ‘Leave a Comment’ link is the last tag below, in blue.

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