Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why I Don’t Observe Jerusalem Day Anymore

Well, I will make this quick. I used to observe Jerusalem Day. I said to myself, "Whatever you think about the politics, at least you can admit that it's nice you can go to the Kotel. Isn't that worth being thankful for?"

Sure, I'm thankful that I can go to the Old City and to the holy places. But that gratitude doesn't trump my negative feelings about what has happened to Jerusalem since 1967.

Let us start with the annexation of Jerusalem, which nobody in the world recognizes. Let us then talk about the eviction of Palestinians from their homes to facilitate real-estate deals in the Jewish Quarter (which is legally segregated), an artificial construction that mirrors in a sense what Israelis have done to every place to which they returned: mulitiplied the area and call it by the same name. (Gush Etziyon and Jerusalem are good examples). Then let us talk about the years of neglect in housing and services for East Jerusalem. And of course, the Judaization of the city by encircling it with Jewish neighborhoods and Jews coming into the heart of Arab neighborhoods

And in Jewish Jerusalem, what do we have? The elimination of green spaces, the uglification of the city, the failure to preserve historical buildings, the crowded neighborhoods,, the adding of several floors to existing buildings, the poor municipal services,the absentee owners, the flight from the city, the poverty, the extremism, the neighborhood ghettoes. All this has gotten worse, not better, since 1967. Been downtown lately? Enough said.

When Zion is redeemed through justice, and when the word of the Lord goes forth from Jerusalem, then I will change my views.

Until then, three things keep me here: good food, good weather, and family/friends. Oh, and the National Library. Who can ask for anything more?


Y. Ben-David said...

So the world doesn't "recognize our control of Jerusalem". Am I supposed to lose sleep over that, or something? When have the Jews ever been popular in the eyes of "world opinion"? World Opinion gave the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama, Arafat and Henry Kissinger.

I am surpised you have visited the Kotel and Jewish Quarter. After all, they are illegal settlements just like the rest in Judea/Samaria, captured in an illegal war of aggression by Israel in 1967, according to your view of things. In any event, the Palestinian Narrative say they are nothing more than a fraud made up by Zionists in the 19th century in order to mobilize the Jews in Europe to bring them to Arab Palestine in order to steal it. As a multicultural "progressive", you should have been more sensitive to their narrative and not carried out a provocation by visiting these places.
You said in a posting some time ago that you don't travel on Highway 443 since it is in illegal occupied Palestinian territory. How is visiting the Kotel (the former Mughrabi Quarter where the founder of the Palestinian Revolution Yasser Arafat claimed to be born). How is visiting the Kotel any different? (BTW-Highway 1-the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv road also goes through occupied land near Park Canada....does that weigh on your concience?)

So don't celebrate Jerusalem Day. There are others who will.

Jerry Haber said...

Yehudi Ham -- I have lots of good things to say about Jews -- all kinds of Jews, including you, Y Ben David, but that is not what I think is a Yehudi Ham. A Yehudi Ham is a Yehudi who is warm to all people. And that is a matter of personality. I know cold leftists and warm rightists.

By the way, though you are right I don't write about Israel's achievements in my blog, I think it has a lot of achievements. So did Edward Said, by the way. Nothing is black and white.

Whooaa, don't forget I have been defending liberal Zionists lately in my exchange with Moor.

You see, unlike my leftwing friends, I live in a modern orthodox community. Some of my best friends are moderate right to Judaeo-fascist.

As for going to the kotel, I have a hekhsher from Rabbi Yassir Avi Ammar, who was willing to let the Israelis have the kotel because he remembered Jews davening there when he was young.

As for 443, when Palestinians are allowed to use all of it, I will use it. That is why I go on route 1. I don't use apartheid roads unless I absolutely have to, and I almost never have to.

Tobias said...

Tell me, Y.Ben-David, which of the following characterizations best describes you?
a) You want to expel Arabs from as much territory as possible and settle it with Jews in a colonial conquest?
b) Then again, maybe you want to keep Arabs under Israeli control because you take sadistic pleasure in the idea of Arabs being subjugated and ruled by Jews?
c) Quite the contrary, you just love Arabs - maybe most of your friends are Arabs - and you just can't bear the idea of them becoming citizens of a Palestinian state instead of Israel. You're actively campaigning for citizens' rights and the one-state solution right now.

Because, you know, there are literally no other rational explanations why anybody would want to keep Israeli control over areas of the West Bank arbitrarily and nonsensically designated "Jerusalem", 90+% of which never were part of the city before the mid-20th century.
Either expulsion is your agenda, or oppression is, or inclusion is. Or you're just plain crazy.
There are no other logical possibilities

P.S.: Feel free to make an attempt to disprove this. You're guaranteed to fail, however.
P.P.S.: Don't even start with some nonsense about 'holy sites'. These are such a miniscule part of the territory we're talking about that you probably couldn't find them on a map of the whole unwieldy sprawl you irrationally call "Jerusalem".

Y. Ben-David said...

The current boundaries of Jerusalem were drawn up by then-General Rehavam Ze'evi, shortly after the 6-Day War. He was given the mission of making the city safe from being fired upon from Arab-controlled areas in the event that all the other territories in Judea/Samaria would be given up. There were also oddities like the shoestring that goes up to the Atarot Airport which was done, presumably because they wanted an airport near Jerusalem and because there had been a moshav in the aread before 1948 that was lost in the War of Independece...similar to the situation of Neve Yaakov which also was a moshav before 1948.
Now, one can argue that the borders are not "holy" and that some outlying areas could be given up, but that wouldn't solve anything. The Palestinians are not interested so much in Abu Dis and the like, but rather the Old City and the Holy Sites, because having the Jews volunatarily give up their holy sites would be a massive, historic victory for the forces of Islam. Thus, they will not accept anything less than the complete division of the city, a reversion to the situation from 1948-1967.

Regarding the future....there is only one possible outcome.....a continuation of the status quo, with the Palestinians under their two autonomous regimes, endless negotiations and possible outbreaks of violence. The Arabs are not interested in making peace on any terms with Israel because they believe time is working on their side (even though the opposite is actually true). Why should the leaders of the Palestinians go down in history as traitors, similar to Sadat, by making the concessions needed to reach an agreement, primarily giving up the Palestinian Right of Return, when they can wait, and, as they see it, receive massive Israeli concessions and withdrawals without the Palestinians giving up anything and continuing to hold all their existing demands and grievances into the indefinite future.
You must remember, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and possible future PM Tzippi Livni have clearly stated that "it is a vital interest of Israel to create a Palestinian state as soon as possible". Do you really think Abu Mazen and HAMAS want to help Israel out by doing that? If the PM of Israel claims that Israel is "doomed" if it doesn't get an agreement with the Arabs as soon as possible, why should the Arabs want an agreement at all?

PS-I oppose any talk of expelling either Jews or Arabs from any parts of the country. Aside from the moral issue, it wouldn't solve anything, just as the expulsion/flight of the Arabs in 1948 did not lead to peace, either.

Tobias said...

"I oppose any talk of expelling either Jews or Arabs from any parts of the country."
I'll gladly believe that you oppose talking of that.

"there is only one possible outcome.....a continuation of the status quo, with the Palestinians under their two autonomous regimes, endless negotiations and possible outbreaks of violence."
So, b). Thanks for clearing that up.

Oh, and by the way, the old 'They don't want peace anyway so it doesn't matter how much we continue with our oppression and colonization no matter how intrinsically wrong it is' might fool... a... hm... no, I can't think of anybody who could both comprehend that argument and be fooled by it.

Peter H said...

Why should the leaders of the Palestinians go down in history as traitors, similar to Sadat, by making the concessions needed to reach an agreement, primarily giving up the Palestinian Right of Return, when they can wait, and, as they see it, receive massive Israeli concessions and withdrawals without the Palestinians giving up anything and continuing to hold all their existing demands and grievances into the indefinite future.

I see no reason why Palestinian concessions on the (internationally-recognized) right of return have to precede the creation of a Palestinian state and an end to the Occupation. Negotiate the details of Palestinian statehood, borders and security arrangements first, and let the more contentious refugee issue (as well as the holy sites in Jerusalem) be negotiated later on a state-to-state basis.

Y. Ben-David said...

Peter H-
This is the line Bernard Avishai and others are pushing....reach agreement on "easy things" like the borders, implement them and then get on to the "difficult matters".
IT seemed at the time Ariel Sharon was thinking something along these lines...shortly before he collapsed, he was talking about unilterally giving up almost all of Judea/Samaria without a peace agreement or Palestinian cooperation, and he would then say to the world "see, they now have their state on almost all the territory they are demanding so get off our backs". I assume that he would have left Jerusalem out of the matter.
Of course, we know see that everyone in Israel has soured on that approach. Sharon assured everyone before he destroyed Gush Katif that once Israel left the Gaza Strip in the event that there should be attacks from there Israel would have cart blanche to bomb the heck out of them and the whole world would understand . Of course, Goldstone proved that was not the case, so support for Sharon's approach has evaporated.

But let's say we try your approach, Peter. Everyone now knows the territorial issue has been defined by the Palestinians as nothing less than a complete withdrawal to the pre-67 lines, including all of east Jerusalem. Brzezinksi and Scowcroft have stated that the peace agreement Obama will have to end up imposing involves this complete withdrawal in return for the Palestinians agreeing to give up their demand for the "Right of Return".
So while everyone now knows that territorial dimension of the agreement, the Palestinians have made it clear that they will NOT give up their demand for the Right of Return. So now, even though Obama and the Arabs now agree on the territorial issue, the matter then shifts to imposing this on Israel. Now, maybe there is an Israeli gov't that could agree to this but ON CONDITION that the Palestinians give up the demand for the return. NO Israeli gov't will agree to the right of return. SO do you think an Israeli gov't will then carry out this withdrawal which would mean turning all of Judaism's holiest sites to the Palestinians (presumably in return for vague promises of allowing Jewish access to them, just like those that were included in the 1949 Armistice agreements with Jordan but which were never honored) AND forcing the 500,000 Jews living over the pre-67 lines (300,000 in Judea/Samaria and 200,000 in Jerusalem), all this without ending the conflict and with all Palestinian grievances still unresolved?

Y. Ben-David said...

Jerusalem named one of the top 10 tourist destinations in the world.
Apparently not everything thinks it is as bad as you do. Also the number of visitors is going up.

Anonymous said...

i came upon this blog, doing a google search for dershowitz' speech in tel aviv.

does mr haber seriously wish people to believe that he is an orthodox jew?

in reading through different blog posts, i notice him speaking warmly of people like richard silverstein, norman finkelstein and gideon levy, among others.

i dont know another frum jew, no matter what their stance on zionism to be, who would speak warmly about the above individuals.

mr haber, regarding your worry over the "uglification of the city" in regards to the lack of green you know the halacha in regards to trees within the old city?

and omg...jews moving into arab neighborhoods...the horror of it all

frum jews do not speak glowingly of areas in jerusalem that should be juden frei.

btw mr haber, show me the psak from one gadol that says land in eretz yisrael held by jews, even before the return of mashiach, can be handed over to non jews.

Jerry Haber said...

dear bacci40

glad you stopped by. Quick answers to your questions:

1) green spaces. I lived in the Rova for six years. I know the halakha and I know Rav Nebenzahl. I was referring to areas outside the Old City.Wasn't that obvious. Ever been to Har Nof? The har that has no nof.

2) A gadol who says that land can be transferred to goyyim? This is a trick question, because I don't know who you consider it a gadol. Will Rav Ovadya due for you? No, you probably think he is "Frank." Will Rav Shach do you for you? Nah, you probably think he has too much galus mentality to be a gadol. Will Rav Kook do for you? (ever hear of the heter mechirah?) Nah, he's too old fashioned, and everybody knows he didn't mean what he said about Muslim not being akum.

I guess maybe you should give me a few examples of gedolim in your eyes? Zvi Yehudah? Dov Lior? Blah, blah, blah...

Anonymous said...

blah, blah, blah????

sorry, i should have added the caveat, "except in cases of pikuach nephesh"

thing is jerry, after israel returned the gaza...what happened?

were jewish lives saved?

what happened after camp david and tabah?

outside of the return of the sinai to egypt (which was never israel proper) care to show me how any moves towards giving land to the arabs has resulted in pikuach nephesh?

gosh, what do you do with rav ovadiah's understanding that every war fought by israel is a milchemet mitzvah (that would include the one just fought in gaza)

and what do you do with the following from rav kook,

"God forbid! The nation of Israel does not have the power to renege on its right to the Western Wall. We have no right to do so! If, heaven forbid, we give up the Western Wall, God will not want to give it back to us."
Mishnat Harav

and yes, i have been to har nof...what is your point...that they paved paradise and put up a parking lot? that israel should look as it did 2000 years ago and be an agrarian society? do you think that when mashiach comes the first thing he will do is demand all modern structures be torn down and force those in the tech industry to become collective farmers?

so jerry thinks that mashiach is stalin....far out.

Jerry Haber said...


sorry for the intemperate nature of my response. really.

anyway, you ask good questions, and I have spent a lot of the last few years blogging about them.

Unfortunately, I don't really categorize my posts anymore, so it is not easy to find them.

You talk about Jewish lives. When Israel was founded, many people spoke of how now that there is a Jewish states, see how many Jewish lives will be saved. That may be true in the long run. But in the meantime, since WWII, more Jews have lost their lives in incidents related to Israel than in all the rest of the world combined. So if you are simply talking about saving lives, the Jews would have been better off elsewhere -- even places like Russia, Morocco, and Yemen, with the prejudice and the occasional riots.

And as a frum Jew, you need not be reminded about how many gedolim opposed and oppose Zionism. Oh, sure, it's much less than it was before, and the rank and file is much more Zionistic than in the past.

But in the Shtibilekh in Katamon, in the heart of a dati-leumani neighborhood -- there was a tahanun minyan on the half hour throughout Yom Yerushalayim and Yom ha-Atzmaut. And you couldnt find a Hallel minyan in the haredi neighborhoods. So, sure, they aren't friends of Arabs, they live in places like Beitar, etc., etc. But sixty years after the founding of the state, they pay less allegiance to it than haredim in Brooklyn to the US.

No special point, here, except to remind my readers that Zionism is still not universally accepted among Jewish Jews.

Tamar Orvell said...

Excellent topic. This year I felt sick for the first time leading up to and on this Day. As for orthodox people, "some of my best friends" differ greatly in practice, observance, behavior, even belief. Where does the commenter here get the notion that orthodox spells one kind of Jew? Ridiculous. Impossible. And Jerry, living in Tel Aviv you'll have more reasons to love being in Israel. Same great food, weather, etc. PLUS extras (sea and peaceful coexistence between secular and... orthodox and haredim... wearing fur hats of varying heights and thicknesses, denoting denominations within denominations.

Y. Ben-David said...

I disagree with your comment regarding "Zionism not being universally accepted among Jews", the proof supposedly being your using the fact that many Haredim don't say Hallel on Yom Ha'Atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim. You do point out correctly that the Haredim don't particularly like Arabs but I would go further...I suggest you ask those people who don't say Hallel if they want the state to dissolve and for us to live under Arab rule. Many Haredim don't accept the SYMBOLS of the state and deny that it has the right to define Jewish values, but that does NOT mean that they don't accept the practical meaning of Zionism, that being the existence of a Jewish state.

True, some young and even not-so-young Jews around the world are turned off to Israel, but I don't accept that it is symbolic of a universal trend among the Jews. Look at the history of the Jews of the USSR. There had been a significant organization, made up of Jews, called the YEVSEKTSIA which was dedicated to spreading the idea among Jews that they were NOT a nation, and that their future was best assured by assimilating into Soviet society. Jewish observance was rigorously suppressed. In spite of this ideal situation for discouraging any Jewish national reappeared in the wake of the Six-Day War, leading to the immigration of something like 1.25 million Jews to Israel. A good friend of mine was a refusenik in the 1970's and his father, who remembered the terror and the YEVSEKTSIA told his son to forget Zionism, the best thing for the Jews was to lower their profile to the maximum and fit in. Finally his son made aliyah, and the father eventually came and became very right-wing! The Jewish soul is connected to the larger Jewish people AND Eretz Israel that can not be explained purely on a "rational" basis. This I am not worried that most Jews will turn their backs on Israel, in spite of the efforts by "progressives", J-Street and other to encourage it.

Finally, I find odd your comment that most Jews should realize that "since the Holocaust" the most dangerous place in the world is supposedly Israel. Do you really think most people "Forgot" what happened before that and that these unpleasant memories from both Europe and the Arab countries didn't leave an impression? Do you think Jewish history can be artificially disconnected from what happened before in some poor effort to claim that Zionism has supposedly been a disaster for the Jewish people, as you are claiming?

Anonymous said...

"Until then, three things keep me here: good food, good weather, and family/friends. Oh, and the National Library. Who can ask for anything more?"

err not speding a penny supporting the economy in a country that practices racism and thuggery

People of conscience in south africa gave up good food, beautiful homes, great beaches and cheap household help because their conscience couldnt bear living under apartheid and supporting it at least tacitly bt staying there.
follow your conscience and move there is good food, good friends to be made in a less oppressive country and there's always the internet and interlibrary loans

have a little backbone and conscience to go with your strongly held views !!