Western Jerusalem’s U.S. Consulate and Embassy

The United States has had a consulate in the western part of Jerusalem for decades, despite the “controversial” and “disputed” nature of the city which had been planned as an independent “corpus separatum” together with Bethlehem in the United Nations Partition Plan of 1947. The U.S. Consulate did not provide any services to Israel, but existed just to provide services to Palestinian Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza, for items such as visas.

Israel never complained about the U.S. operations for Palestinians sitting squarely in Israel’s capital. For decades Israel remained silent at the insult.


U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem
(photo: First.One.Through)

But Israel would show its great appreciation to the the United States when President Donald Trump announced the intention of the U.S. to recognize the reality of Jerusalem serving as Israel’s capital, and plans to move the U.S. embassy to the city from Tel Aviv. The U.S. opened the embassy in May 2018, and just yesterday, announced plans to fold the services of the U.S. consulate into the new embassy building, and closing the current consulate location.

The Palestinians went crazy. As it did when the U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority objected to the closing of the U.S. Consulate office.

Their hypocrisy never dawned on them.

  • For decades the U.S. consulate sat in Jerusalem serving Palestinians, however, the Palestinians went berserk when the U.S. similarly moved its embassy for Israel to Jerusalem. Is a U.S. presence in Jerusalem only OK for the Palestinians?
  • The Palestinian Authority claims the eastern part of Jerusalem as its capital, but accepted the existence of the U.S. consulate for Palestinian Arabs in WESTERN Jerusalem. Is the Palestinian Authority laying claim to the western part of Jerusalem too?

For too long, the U.S. showed too much deference to the Palestinian Arabs’ sensitivities while it snubbed Israel, but as Israel was so reliant on the United States, Jerusalem suffered the indignities in silence. However, times have changed and Israel can now openly thank President Trump for treating the country with the respect of a sovereign nation, a thriving democracy and true American ally.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Corpus Separatum Ended Forever in 1995

Maybe Truman Should Not Have Recognized Israel

NY Times Cannot Even be Even-Handed When Describing “No Man’s Land”

Is Your Capital Central to Your Country?

Religious Countries Respond to Israel’s Jerusalem

Palestinians agree that Israel rules all of Jerusalem, but the World Treats the City as Divided

The Parameters of Palestinian Dignity

Ending Apartheid in Jerusalem

The Palestinian State I Oppose

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CNN Makes Clear the Attackers and Victims in Gaza-Israel Fight

The Palestinians in Gaza launched a rocket directly at the Israeli heavily-populated city of Be’er Sheva. The rocket destroyed much of the home, but luckily the Jewish mother rushed her children into the basement saving all of their lives.


Destroyed second floor of home in Be’er Sheva, Israel
as shown in various media sites, NOT CNN

CNN had an interesting view of the story on October 17, 2018. It ran an article titled “Gaza rocket hits Israeli city, prompting Israeli air strikes in retaliation.” According to CNN, the rocket originated from a region, Gaza, but not at the hands of a people, the Palestinians. However, the retaliatory strike was from the government of Israel. For CNN, the story of the Palestinians in Gaza is one of peaceful protests and victimhood, not of terrorism.

Consider other recent headlines about the conflict from CNN:

In headline after headline, month after month, CNN only used the word “Palestinians” when it came to people being killed. The attacks that the Palestinians launched are referred to in the headlines as stemming from “Gaza” as it did in the October 17 headline, or to the ruling entity in Gaza, Hamas.

In the body of the articles themselves, CNN attributed the use of rockets to Hamas or other groups, but labeled the Palestinians themselves as simply “protesters” or “demonstrators.” The most these protesters could muster was the use of “weaponized kites.” Overall, the Palestinian people themselves were regarded as peaceful, being randomly and unfairly killed by Israel.

On the other side of the border in Israel itself, CNN minimized the attacks against Israeli civilians. The October 17 article stated

Footage from Israel Channel 10 showed damage to the fence and yard of the home. No injuries were reported. A second rocket landed off the coast of central Israel, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said.

There was a lot of footage on all of the media sites – including the picture above – that showed the entire second floor of the home in Be’er Sheva being destroyed. But CNN opted to make it sound like no physical structures were damaged and no people were at risk. Just a “fence and yard.” The attack itself didn’t warrant a picture to lead the story.

However, the Israeli response to the attack was definitely worth showing.

GAZA CITY, GAZA – OCTOBER 17: A relative of Palestinian man, Naji al-Zaanin, 25, was killed in a fresh Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, looks at her blood-stained hands as dead body of Zaanin is taken to the Indonesia Hospital’s morgue in Gaza City on October 17, 2018. In a statement, the ministry identified the victim as Naji al-Zaanin, 25, in the attack that targeted the northern city of Beit Lahia. (Photo by Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

This was the image that CNN ran atop its news story of a missile attack on a major Israeli city.

Further down in the article, CNN did show a picture of some damage to the house (but hard to make out) even after the article clearly stated that the damage was only to “the fence and yard.”

An Israeli sapper checks a house after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Hamas-run Palestinian Gaza Strip, one of the first projectiles fired in recent weeks from Gaza, on the central Israeli city of Bersheva on October 17, 2018. – Israel launched raids against targets in the Gaza strip today in response to rocket fire from the Palestinian territory that caused damage in a southern city, the Israeli army said. (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

CNN is educating the world about the attackers and victims in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Are you getting the message? Are you responding?


Related First.One.through articles:

CNN’s Embrace of Hamas

CNN Will Not Report Islamic Terrorism

Names and Narrative: CNN’s Temple Mount/ Al Aqsa Complex Inversion

Social Media’s “Fake News” and Mainstream Media’s Half-Truths

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The Hidden Side of the Moon

The weekly Torah reading of the first chapter of Genesis, Bereishit, always occurs during the week of a new moon. The coupling seems to contain a hidden message.

On the fourth creation day, God made the sun, moon and stars (Genesis 1:14-18)

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים יְהִ֤י מְאֹרֹת֙ בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם לְהַבְדִּ֕יל בֵּ֥ין הַיּ֖וֹם וּבֵ֣ין הַלָּ֑יְלָה וְהָי֤וּ לְאֹתֹת֙ וּלְמ֣וֹעֲדִ֔ים וּלְיָמִ֖ים וְשָׁנִֽים׃

God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate day from night; they shall serve as signs for the set times—the days and the years;

וְהָי֤וּ לִמְאוֹרֹת֙ בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם לְהָאִ֖יר עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃

and they serve as lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth.” And it was so.

וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִ֔ים אֶת־שְׁנֵ֥י הַמְּאֹרֹ֖ת הַגְּדֹלִ֑ים אֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַגָּדֹל֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַיּ֔וֹם וְאֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַקָּטֹן֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַלַּ֔יְלָה וְאֵ֖ת הַכּוֹכָבִֽים׃

God made the two great lights, the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night, and the stars.

וַיִּתֵּ֥ן אֹתָ֛ם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם לְהָאִ֖יר עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

And God set them in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the earth,

וְלִמְשֹׁל֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם וּבַלַּ֔יְלָה וּֽלֲהַבְדִּ֔יל בֵּ֥ין הָא֖וֹר וּבֵ֣ין הַחֹ֑שֶׁךְ וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־טֽוֹב׃

to dominate the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that this was good.”

The “two great lights” refer to the Sun and the Moon that dominate Earth’s sky during the day and night. Each serves as a source of light to “shine upon the earth,” and as a way of separating “light from darkness” which had been mixed together earlier in creation. While the Sun remains a fixed source of light always dominating the daytime, the Moon’s light comes and goes over the course of a month, generating – or more accurately “reflecting” – light during the night. The Moon’s dominance ebbs and flows.

The changing nature of the Moon’s light is directly related to its position in the sky relative to the Earth and Sun. When the Earth is between the Sun and Moon, the full light of the Sun reflects back on the Earth displaying itself as a “Full Moon.” However, when the Moon is between the Sun and Earth, no light reflects off the Moon’s surface that is visible to Earth. From the perspective of Earth, the moon is completely dark, known as the “New Moon.”

The Moon itself does not spin. It has one side that always faces Earth known as the “near side” and the other side known as the “far side.” Some people call the far side the “dark side,” but this is inaccurate. As described above, the Moon’s light and dark sides change throughout the month. A more appropriate definition for the far side would be the “hidden side.”

So while God created the “greater light” as a fixed item to always dominate the daytime sky which people could see every day and from all sides throughout the year, He created a lesser light that would have a varying amount of light during the night, and a hidden side that could never be seen from Earth.

Man’s Moon for Signs and Holidays

The Sun was established for “the days and years,” permanent and marked regardless of the introduction of man at the sixth day of creation. The Earth’s vegetation and animals need the Sun as much as Man; the Sun was a gift to everything on Earth. But the Moon was different. The Moon was for לְאֹתֹת֙ וּלְמ֣וֹעֲדִ֔ים, for “signs and holidays.” It was specially designed for mankind.

In Exodus 12:1-2, God gave a commandment to the Jewish people:

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְאֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֔ן בְּאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם לֵאמֹֽר׃

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt:

הַחֹ֧דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֛ה לָכֶ֖ם רֹ֣אשׁ חֳדָשִׁ֑ים רִאשׁ֥וֹן הוּא֙ לָכֶ֔ם לְחָדְשֵׁ֖י הַשָּׁנָֽה׃

This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you.

Rabbis learned from the superfluous words of “for you” that it was for the leaders of the Jewish people to declare when a new month actually began. People set the beginning of the month and consequently, when all Jewish holidays would fall out, such as Passover and Sukkot. The Bible foreshadowed in Genesis 1 that the Jews would use the lunar calendar for their months and holidays. To this day, Jews around the world do not only enjoy the light of the moon, but also track and celebrate the darkening phase to mark each month and set the calendar.

Are there other messages to be learned about the Moon?

Total Solar Eclipse
(photo by Ari Mendelow, August 21, 2017)

Man’s Role with the Near and Hidden

The Bible does not discuss the nature of the Moon having a single Earth-facing side and another hidden side. It strictly relates to the Moon’s qualities regarding light. God encourages man to use the changing night sky of the Moon and stars to chart holidays and perhaps navigation. The changing nature of the light sources were meant to serve as useful tools.

Yet there are items that are unseen by Man in the night, such as the far side of the Moon. Did God want these hidden items to be discovered and used as well? Were the hidden mysteries of space something for mankind to discover?

Some rabbis have opined that the answer is no. They note that King David sang in Psalms 115:16

הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם שָׁ֭מַיִם לַיהוָ֑ה וְ֝הָאָ֗רֶץ נָתַ֥ן לִבְנֵי־אָדָֽם׃

The heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth He gave over to man.

Some rabbis have condemned space travel on this basis. They note that Jews have been punished for space travel, including Judith Resnik, the first Jewish American in space who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, and Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli in space who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

But many others feel differently. God is clear when things are forbidden to man.

God set clear boundaries once He set Adam in the Garden of Eden. He made two trees in the garden which were declared off-limits for Man. If God did not want Mankind to explore and discover the hidden items in his creation, He would have spelled it out.

Chapter 1 of Genesis laid out the days of creation of the world and provided a foreshadowing of Man before his creation in noting the importance of the Moon.

First Man and The Hidden

While Genesis recorded the world’s first person, the new movie First Man describes the first man on the Moon. The movie captures the excitement of discovery of a new world, seen but untouched.

There is another part of the story as it relates to astronaut Michael Collins who navigated the Columbia command module while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were on the Moon. As the pair were on the near side of the Moon for 22 hours, Collins orbited the Moon, navigating the module around the far side of the Moon. He was there for roughly 47 minutes all alone – without his fellow astronauts beside him in the module, and without the ability to communicate with mission control on Earth while on the far side. His only companion was the mysterious side of the Moon, while he was hidden from mankind.


God created the world, giving a special role for mankind to play regarding the Moon, even as He placed the first man in a protected corner of Earth. It would take thousands of years for another man to be first on that special celestial body.

Discovering God’s creations is often noted for the thrilling moments of engagement like walking on the Moon, but it can also be found in quiet moments, such as seeing God’s hidden mysteries. Hopefully the great explorations will continue.


Related First.One.Through articles:

The Right Stuff, Then and Now

The Longest Touchdown

The Relationship of Man and Beast

Totalities

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Is Hungary Evil or Saintly?

There are a few countries that seemingly have dual personalities. To read about the country in one forum gives a particular viewpoint, while in other sources, the picture is starkly different.

Consider how the New York Times writes about Hungary. Here is a selection of its headlines over the recent past:

The Times paints the country in a very unflattering light. It states that the country is run by a tyrant, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and is the worst illiberal democracy in the European Union.


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban

But a very different picture of Hungary was touted by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. On September 28, 2018, Haley spoke about the plight of religious persecution around the world in places like Burma and South Sudan. While she highlighted the problems in the Middle East, she contrasted the incredible work that Hungary was doing to protect Christians.

“Today, we shine a spotlight on persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East. Hungary has provided an example for all of us in the work it has done to support persecuted minorities, including Christians and Yazidis.

Hungary is on the ground, doing the hard work of caring for a too often overlooked population. Hungary is helping rebuild homes, hospitals, schools, and churches in Iraq, Lebanon, and other parts of the Middle East. And they’re taking the long view in helping protect and preserve religious pluralism in the Middle East. Its scholarship program for Christians from conflict-affected countries is giving persecuted minorities a high-quality education that they can take back home and use it to rebuild their communities. We all should be grateful for Hungary’s leadership on this issue. This is good and honorable work – not just because so many people are denied their right to worship, but because defending that right makes for a safer and more peaceful world for all of us.”

Can a country be both saintly and illiberal? Can it fight against illegal immigrants at home while attempting to rebuild the shattered lives of the immigrants’ homeland?

Is this simply two sides of the same coin, when viewed through the lens of Christian Identity?

Orban saidLet us confidently declare that Christian democracy is not liberal. Liberal democracy is liberal, while Christian democracy is, by definition, not liberal: it is, if you like, illiberal.” Orban advanced the notion that there are different types of democracy in the world, and religious democracies have a different framework than those based on the separation of church and state. He doesn’t dispute the charge that his democracy is illiberal; he states that it is a completely different type of democracy.

Perhaps like Turkey’s Recep Erdogan who fights for Muslims, Orban views his form of religious democracy in a particular framework, which is why Orban gave Erdogan such a warm welcome to his country on October 8. Both Orban and Erdogan appreciate the unique nature of their respective countries (Christian for Hungary and Islamic for Turkey) and want to keep it that way. It’s very much about democracy within a framework of particularism and not about liberal universalism.

Hungary can attempt to achieve this as it is predominantly a Christian country. It is roughly 71% Christian, 27% undeclared, with a few percentage of other. Turkey has an easier time, with 99% of the population being Muslim. Either way, there are few minorities to feel actively betrayed.

However, the younger generation in each country is less religious and more secular than the older generation. The younger people seek less religion in their lives and certainly do not want any religion imposed by their government. But both Orban and Erdogan are betting that even the younger generation will still be proud of their religious identity.

Being proud may mean asserting an illiberal nationalistic identity at home, or it may mean fighting for people with whom they share an identity abroad. Asserting a Christian identity alarms the E.U. and liberals in the U.S.A. when it comes to Hungary, but is given a wide pass when asserted by Turkey regarding Islam. In regards to fighting for Christians or Muslims being persecuted abroad, all people – including the US Ambassador to the United Nations – can easily show support.

What do you think – Is Hungary evil or saintly, and how does it compare to Turkey?


Related First.One.Through articles:

UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants September 2016

The United Nations Absolves Turkey’s Erdogan

Pope Francis in Turkey

New York Times Talking Turkey

The Happy and Smug Bigots of Denmark

Deciphering the 2018 Basic Law in Israel – The Nation State of the Jewish People

The Churlish Turkish Leadership

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Names and Narrative: It is Called ‘Area C’

There was another terrible murder of innocent Israelis the other day. The slaying happened in the Barkan Industrial area, not far from Road 5 in Israel, about halfway between Rosh Haayin and Ariel.

The Barkan Industrial Zone is in ‘Area C’ as mapped out in the Oslo Accords, agreed to and signed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. That agreement delineated three distinct zones east of the Green Line (EGL), commonly referred to as the “West Bank” or “Judea and Samaria.”

  • Area A: where the Palestinian Authority has administration and military control of the area;
  • Area B: where there is shared control with Israel; and
  • Area C: which is administered completely by Israel. The area is predominantly Jewish; only 7% of the West Bank Arabs live in Area C.

Israel created are a number of joint development projects in Area C, such as the Barkan Industrial area where several thousand Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews work together. The United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman noted that Barkan “has been a model of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence since 1982, with thousands working and prospering together. Today a terrorist shattered that harmony by brutally murdering two Israelis at work.

That model of coexistence was not just shattered by a murderer, but by some members of the media.

Consider first how some decided to describe Area C:


Wall Street Journal October 8, 2018 page A12

The descriptions above demonstrate the range of narratives.  The Jerusalem Post called the area by its long historic name of “Samaria,” which connects Jews to the region for thousands of years. Most of the Western media used the modern term for the region east of the Green Line that evolved in the 1950s to be the “West Bank,” as the world adopted an Arab point of view after Jordan illegally annexed the region in 1950. Al Jazeera was on the far extremist camp which took an Arab anti-Zionist viewpoint.

The media’s choice of name for the region equates to the narrative of the story and the overall bias of the publication. That much is clear in all of the various Names and Narratives articles in the First.One.Through series.
But the vileness of Al Jazeera was on full display, when it chose to go on a rant regarding the murder of innocent civilians in a work place designed to promote coexistence.
CBN News chose to not refer the overall area at all. It simply said that Barkan was near the city of Ariel. It noted that “For 35 years the industrial zone has been a model of co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians.” It spent time describing the woman and man who were brutally killed. That’s a bias towards humanity, the polar opposite of Al Jazeera.
Zionists and decent people everywhere should shun anything produced by Al Jazeera and its pop video site AJ+. The videos should be neither viewed nor shared.
Names and definitions matter. When a horrific murder of innocents gets nothing but vile hateful Arab propaganda instead of mourning the lives lost in a region of coexistence, it is way past time that people to not only boycott Al Jazeera, but begin efforts to shut it down.
It is no longer a matter of Israel or Arab narratives. It is a matter of human decency versus noxious evil.

Related First.One.Through articles:

A Sofer at the Kotel

Jews around the world just finished reading the Torah, the Five Books of Moses, and promptly began to start the Bible again from the beginning. The time between finishing the public reading and recommencing the weekly recitation was only a few minutes. For Jews, the Bible is a living document that is always being read and learned. There is no “finishing” the Bible; just completing it and commencing again in rapid succession.

The holiday of completing the weekly Torah readings is called Simchat Torah, the Joy of the Bible. The Jewish religious denominations take different approaches to mark the holiday. Hasidic men may be seen dancing in circles with Torahs in the streets; many Reform Temples unfurl the entire Torah with men, women and children holding a section in a large circle. There is a common moment of celebration, but unique methods of celebrating.

With such thoughts about the recent holiday, it is time to advance a principle which is inscribed towards the end of the Pentateuch: to write a Torah.

Some biblical commentators believe that biblical commandment is only applicable to kings; others have said that the king need not actually write the Torah, but to own one. Still others have suggested that the commandment is for everyone to participate in the writing of the Torah, perhaps by paying a scribe, a sofer, to write one on their behalf.

This post is a proposal is to have a permanent sofer at the Western Wall, the Kotel, so everyone can participate in the mitzvah.

Background Issues

  1. Political. Discussions regarding Jerusalem, the Old City and the Kotel have been trapped in politics for many years. Who has or should have sovereignty and control is debated everywhere, with various advocates supporting Israel, the Palestinians, the Jordanian Waqf and the international community. Many leaders have sought to avoid the inherent religious nature of the location as they fear inflaming passions and violence among the three major monotheistic religions.
  2. Jewish Religious denominations. The Kotel plaza is currently caught in a fight within the various Jewish denominations. Recently, a dedicated space for non-Orthodox prayer has taken steps forwards-and-backwards, such as the expanded prayer area at Robinson’s Arch being approved and disapproved. The Jewish community outside of Israel (which is mostly non-Orthodox) has taken a sharply negative attitude towards Israel on this point, which is harmful on multiple levels to Israel and Jews worldwide.
  3. Education and performing a Mitzvah. Many people who come to the Kotel do not have a deep understanding of Judaism. They are foreigners who see an archaeological site caught in a political quagmire. Their visits often lack deeper religious engagement.
  4. Bridging the Israeli Ashkenazi and Sefaradi Communities. While the two communities often lead distinct lives, there is a chance for the two groups to create something together and forge a common bond, especially in Jerusalem.

The Opportunity

  1. Large Attendance. Jerusalem’s Old City – and the Kotel in particular – attracts millions of people a year. However, there has been no concerted attempt to actively engage the pilgrims and tourists in anything of religious or spiritual consequence. The plaza is simply an open space for pictures and pan-handlers.
  2. Spiritual Center. While the most sacred spot for Judaism is not the Kotel but the Temple Mount itself, it is the Kotel that has served as the religious symbol for Jews since the time of Suleiman I in the 1500s. While there is daily prayer at the Kotel, can there be more religious engagement?


Bar Mitzvah party entering the Old City of Jerusalem through Zion’s Gate
(photo: First.One.Through)

The Proposal

  1. Sofer at Kotel. The issues above can be addressed by adding a small building (about 47 feet wide) at the back of the Kotel plaza which would house a sofer who would write a Torah six days a week from 8:00am to 8:00pm. By giving a donation, visitors would be able to participate in the mitzvah of writing a Torah, as they observe the sofer write a word on their behalf.
  2. Ashkenazi and Sefardi approved. There would be both Ashekanzi and Sefardi sofers that would be approved by the chief rabbis of each group. The finished Torahs would alternate between being housed in an Ashkenazi and Sefaradi cases.
  3. One Sefer published each year. A Torah would be completed each year around Simchat Torah. The Kotel plaza would have a large celebration at the completion of the sefer.
  4. The World’s Gifts to Israel. The first two Torahs (first Sefaradi and second year Ashkenazi) would be housed at the Kotel itself. In future years, the Torahs would be sent around Israel to shuls, schools, hospitals and army bases.
  5. Everyone can participate. A woman from sherut leumi will welcome each participant in the entry room of the building, just outside of the sofer’s room. They will accept a donation of any sum from the visitor which will go towards the Kotel Torah effort. A pruta, or penny, will be enough to “purchase” a single letter in the Torah, and minimum donation levels for a word or a sentence. The participant will have the option of having a picture taken with the sofer, and having their name, city, and country be included among the thousands participating in the writing of the sefer Torah.
  6. The Sofer building. The building would not be very large. It would resemble an Ashkenazi Torah scroll viewed from above: narrow rectangular entry and exit room on either sides (each about 10’ by 16’) and a broader rectangle in the middle for the sofer which will have a large window providing natural light and for people to peer in. The roof with have a conical dome in the middle above the sofer’s room, to resemble a Sefardi Torah case when viewed from street level.
    1. The entry room will have materials for signing in, and a digital map showing where all of the participants for the current Torah have come from. Exhibits explaining how a Torah is written will be on the walls.
    2. The sofer’s room will have materials and the desk for the sofer, and room for a photographer to take pictures with the participants.
    3. The exit room will have materials related to restoring Torahs and digital tools like Sefaria and the Bar Ilan project.

Concern

Everything around the Kotel involves a global outcry. The United Nations has gone to such extreme and absurd levels that it has condemned Israel for mundane items like placing an umbrella in the Kotel Plaza. Placing a building at the back of the Plaza might generate similar protest, however, limiting its size may ameliorate some of the concerns, as well as not having any national flags atop the structure.

Conclusion

Bringing a sofer to the Kotel will hopefully allow all Jews to engage with the Judaism’s holiest space in a religious manner. Everyone would have a chance to perform the special mitzvah – even those with no knowledge of Hebrew and limited Jewish education. Participants will not only view the site from a physical and political basis, but also from a spiritual one.

For Israel, this can be a fence-mending opportunity. The global non-Orthodox community which feels disconnected from Israel and its Orthodox religious leaders will be able to stand in line and participate in writing the very same Torah as Orthodox Jews. This is a chance to open religion and the Kotel to everyone around the world.

There is a song that will be sung in a continuous loop at the building that houses the permanent sofer at the Kotel, words from the prophets Isaiah and Micha: “For the Torah shall come forth from Zion, and the words of God from Jerusalem.” Words that will hopefully bring unity to Jews around the world.

וְֽהָלְכ֞וּ גּוֹיִ֣ם רַבִּ֗ים וְאָֽמְרוּ֙ לְכ֣וּ ׀ וְנַעֲלֶ֣ה אֶל־הַר־יְהוָ֗ה וְאֶל־בֵּית֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י יַעֲקֹ֔ב וְיוֹרֵ֙נוּ֙ מִדְּרָכָ֔יו וְנֵלְכָ֖ה בְּאֹֽרְחֹתָ֑יו כִּ֤י מִצִּיּוֹן֙ תֵּצֵ֣א תוֹרָ֔ה וּדְבַר־יְהוָ֖ה מִירוּשָׁלִָֽם׃

“And the many nations shall go and shall say: “Come, Let us go up to the Mount of the LORD, To the House of the God of Jacob; That He may instruct us in His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.” For instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Micha 4:2) (Isaiah 2:3)


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Abbas’s Harmful East Jerusalem Fantasy

The acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2018. The first words from his mouth were “Jerusalem is not for sale.” If only he understood the real truth in those words – Israel is not going to sell Jerusalem.

But, alas, Abbas thinks that the Palestinian Authority is the owner of Jerusalem, the PA controls it and will not compromise on its status.

Even more, Abbas ruled out any peace agreement without Jerusalem. At 18:04 of his speech, Abbas said “Peace in our region cannot be realized without an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, with all its holy sites…. East Jerusalem, which has been occupied since 1967 is our capital. There is no peace otherwise.

Abbas has long refused to acknowledge many truths. He imagines that Israel is a racist state which practices apartheid, even while it is the most open and liberal society for thousands of miles in any direction. Abbas pretends that he does not support terrorism, even while he sends terrorists’ families money and names schools and government properties after murderers.

Those lies lead Abbas to despise Israel and foment more violence and bloodshed. But, at least theoretically, he could advance peace and coexistence with such vile beliefs. However, his lies about Jerusalem are particularly harmful to the region, as he ties his fantasy to the ability to move forward to live in peace with Israel.

Jerusalem was never the capital of a Palestinian state nor intended to be a capital of an Arab state in any peace formulation. Ever.

When the United Nations voted on a partition plan for a Jewish State of Israel and Arab State of Palestine in 1947, it clearly marked a corpus separatum, a distinct international entity to hold Greater Bethlehem and Greater Jerusalem.

Annex B to resolution 181 (II) of the General Assembly,
dated 29 November 1947 for Greater Bethlehem and Greater Jerusalem

The Arab countries rejected the UN proposal and by May 1948 launched an attack on the new State of Israel. At war’s end, Jordan illegally seized control of three-quarters of the corpus separatum including all of Greater Bethlehem and the eastern half of Jerusalem, in a move that the world did not recognize. Israel took control of the western half of Greater Jerusalem and made it its capital. Jordan expelled all of the Jews from the area it seized and granted all non-Jews Jordanian citizenship in an outrageous antisemitic act in 1954.

The Jordanians gave Jordanian citizenship to the Palestinians in the newly named “West Bank” and “East Jerusalem.” They would make no attempt to give them independence or sovereignty throughout their period of illegal control until 1967.

In 1967, Jordan (and the Palestinians who had Jordanian citizenship) attacked Israel again and subsequently lost all of the “West Bank” and Greater Bethlehem and eastern Jerusalem. Israel took control of the area, and expanded the borders of Jerusalem in 1980, declaringJerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.

As a sign of good faith during the Oslo Accords, Israel handed the Palestinian Authority a core part of corpus separatum, Bethlehem. With Israel, the PA and its peace sponsors all supporting the move, the concept of corpus separatum ended.

Abbas remains undeterred by facts. Before 1948 Jerusalem was to be an international city; from 1949 to 1967 the Jordanians controlled the city and made no efforts to give it to Palestinians; and from 1967 the entirety of the city has been the capital of Israel.

While Israel has permitted the Jordanian Waqf to have administrative responsibilities for Muslim holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem (and no King Abdullah, Jordan has NO responsibility for Christian sites), the ownership, control and sovereignty of the city is Israel’s.

Jerusalem has never been a Palestinian capital, was never intended to be a Palestinian capital and is not a Palestinian city to even contemplate in a “sale.”


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The Jordanian King Abdullah’s Absurdities

Jordan’s King Abdullah II spoke at the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2018. As in past years, he spoke in a strong English and sounded compassionate. If only one could ignore the lies that underscored his speech that sounded so convincing.

Before getting to the three minute mark, Abdullah called for “collective action” on the world stage to tackle tough problems. In his mind, “the key crisis [in the Middle East is] the long denial of a Palestinian State.

According to Abdullah, what issues are of secondary importance (not “key”)?

  • The civil war in Syria which has killed over 500,000 people and left millions of people as refugees scattered around the world – including in Jordan – did not top his list.
  • The Muslim maniacs of ISIS who tore up Iraq and Syria, torturing and beheading people was not a primary concern.
  • The civil war in Yemen which has brought Saudi Arabia and Iran to battle each other in an impoverished region, ensuring a humanitarian disaster did not seem to worry Abdullah.

And how exactly is the lack of a Palestinian state a “crisis”?

  • A crisis is typically a new altered unnatural state that must be addressed immediately, such as a natural disaster, an epidemic or war. Yet there has NEVER been an independent state of Palestine ruled by local Arabs. Was the lack of a state a crisis when Jordan illegally annexed the west bank of the Jordan River for 17 years? How can the lack of such state be called a crisis in any fashion, let alone the most important one?
  • Roughly 39% of the Palestinian “refugees” live in Jordan and have Jordanian citizenship and are able to work and travel freely. How is that situation a crisis?
  • Another 42% of the Palestinian “refugees” still live in the region of Palestine as defined in 1947. The vast majority have autonomy. They also have among the highest life expectancy and literacy rates in the Arab world. How is that a crisis?
  • Only 19% of the Palestinian “refugees” live in Lebanon and Syria which treat them as outcasts. But even they have first world free education and healthcare. The non-UNRWA wards in Syrian have no support network and get caught in the horrific civil war.

But Abdullah thinks the lack of a state is so important, so time-sensitive, and so dire for Palestinians, that they must get ALL of their demands satisfied. Their situation is so precarious and so dangerous, that if they do not get every issue satisfied as dictated by Abdullah such as a state along “1967 borders” with “East Jerusalem as its capital,” then horrors worse than Syria, Iraq and Yemen would certainly befall the Palestinians. A state with 5% less land than the 1967 borders would definitely lead to an Ebola outbreak. A state with a capital in Ramallah instead of eastern Jerusalem would lead to millions dead in the streets from starvation.

It’s pure nonsense. But said so well!

Jordan’s King Abdullah’s prose was pretty but pitiful. He voiced an absurdity on top of absurdity on top of absurdity; no easy task with a straight face. But it was so beautifully delivered, he deserves to have the act of publicly delivering a heap of illogical and irrational thoughts with a straight face named after him: the Abdullah Absurdities.


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May God Avenge His Blood

There is an expression which is frequently used after the murder of innocent Jewish civilians: “Hamakom Yikom Damo,” or HYD for short. The rough translation is “May God Avenge His Blood.” People who skew to the right politically use the expression to express the desire for justice and revenge against the murderer. Those who tend towards the left may use the expression to convey the notion that justice is a matter for God to mete out, not for man.

The expression deserves further analysis, particularly as it relates to Ari Fuld, who was murdered by an Arab terrorist on September 16, 2018.

Bible Source for God’s Vengeance

The source for the HYD expression can be found in the Torah reading which was read last Saturday in synagogues around the world in Parashat Haazinu:

(הַרְנִ֤ינוּ גוֹיִם֙ עַמּ֔וֹ כִּ֥י דַם־עֲבָדָ֖יו יִקּ֑וֹם וְנָקָם֙ יָשִׁ֣יב לְצָרָ֔יו וְכִפֶּ֥ר אַדְמָת֖וֹ עַמּֽוֹ׃ (פ

O nations, acclaim His people! For He’ll avenge the blood of His servants, Wreak vengeance on His foes, And cleanse the land of His people.” (Deuteronomy 32:43)

This line comes towards the end of one of only two poems that occur in the Bible. The sentence conveys that God will take vengeance on the enemies of the Jewish people. As translated here, this quote could be used to support the intentions of both liberals and conservatives.

However, the line must be read in the context of the entire poem, which gives important nuance to this expression of revenge.

The poem in chapter 32 begins with a description of God’s generosity towards the Children of Israel in giving them the holy land. However, it warns that the Jews will forget and forsake Him when they “grow fat” in the land. God will then punish the Jews for their sin, but He will ultimately relent – not because of the righteousness of the Jews – but because He doesn’t want the enemies of Israel to believe that they had vanquished God. He will bring His vengeance upon Israel’s enemies, because those foes had also rejected God and hurt His people.

Atonement for the Land-People

By the end of the poem when God’s vengeance is mentioned, the Jewish people will already have been pummeled. “God’s servants” will have already been devastated for rejecting His words, sacrificing to Him with “alien things” and worshiping strange Gods (32:16-18). The remaining sliver of His people will be saved and will serve as a testament to His word and promise.

With such backdrop, it is worth reviewing the final words of 32:43 which are translated above as “And cleanse the land of His people.” The Hebrew is more complicated and nuanced, and a more literal translation is “and His land His People will be atoned.

“His land-people” is a very strange grammatical concoction, as there is no “and” connecting His land “and” His people. It can be best understood by looking at language used earlier in the poem (32:8-9):

בְּהַנְחֵ֤ל עֶלְיוֹן֙ גּוֹיִ֔ם בְּהַפְרִיד֖וֹ בְּנֵ֣י אָדָ֑ם יַצֵּב֙ גְּבֻלֹ֣ת עַמִּ֔ים לְמִסְפַּ֖ר בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

“When the Most High gave nations their homes And set the divisions of man, He fixed the boundaries of peoples In relation to Israel’s numbers.”

כִּ֛י חֵ֥לֶק יְהֹוָ֖ה עַמּ֑וֹ יַעֲקֹ֖ב חֶ֥בֶל נַחֲלָתֽוֹ׃

“For the LORD’s portion is His people, Jacob His own allotment.”

The text of 32:8-9 ties the notion of His nation (ammo in Hebrew) with the land of Israel itself. His nation, His people and His land are a single integrated entity. The “admato ammo” – “his land, his people” of 32:43 is that amalgam of the Jews living in their land of inheritance.

The verb preceding “admato ammo” is “v’kiper” which is similar to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The complete clause means that God’s vengeance upon the enemies of the Jews will atone for past actions and cleanse the slate to rightly set His people in His land once more.

Neither the right- or left-leaning orientation of the expression “May God Avenge His Blood” captures the full essence of the quote which is meant to establish the enduring peace of Jews in Israel.

Ari Fuld

The Jewish people are now a fraction of their proper number, having been decimated in the Inquisition, pogroms, a Holocaust, wars and terrorism over the past thousand years. Their paltry headcount was scattered among dozens of countries around the world, only recently being gathered again into His land, the land of Israel. It was a mere ten years ago, in 2008, when the number of Jews in Israel surpassed all other countries for the first time in 1900 years. The “admato ammo,” God’s land-people are finally established again.

One of the Jews to return to the Jewish homeland was Ari Fuld, moving to Israel from the United States several decades ago. He not only fought in the Israel Defense Forces, he loudly and proudly defended and supported the IDF at every opportunity. He taught classes on Judaism in school and was a fierce religious Zionist. Ari was the essence of “admato ammo” – part-and-parcel of God’s land-people.

The expression “Hamakom Yikom Damo” for Ari Fuld is not a simple prayer for God to bring justice to Ari’s murderer, but a request that God fulfill Ari’s dream of an enduring peace for admato ammo, His land-people. The Children and Land of Israel.


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Denmark and Netherlands Support Ari Fuld’s Murder

Ari Fuld went shopping at his local mall on Sunday September 16, 2018, but never returned home. He was stabbed in the back and murdered by an Arab from a neighboring town.

The cold-blooded murder was barely covered in the liberal western press. However, it was covered by the Ma’an News Agency (MNA), which bills itself as an independent news agency for the West Bank and Gaza. The MNA had help in launching in 2005, as proudly stated on its website: “MNA was launched with generous funding from the Danish Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Netherlands Representative Office to the PA, and Ma’an Network is deeply grateful to both offices for their support during MNA’s foundational period.

How did the MNA report on the murder of this father of four? Read the article below (highlights added):

Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian after stabbing attack

“BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian youth was shot and injured by Israeli forces on Sunday near the illegal Israel settlement of Gush Etzion, south of Bethlehem in the southern occupied West Bank, after the youth allegedly carried out a stabbing attack.

Hebrew-language news outlets reported that a Palestinian youth stabbed two Israeli settlers, near the illegal Israeli Gush Etzion settlement.
Sources confirmed that one of the Israeli settlers, Ari Fold, 40, a father of four children, died after the stabbing attack. Meanwhile, the other Israeli settler suffered serious injuries.
Sources also reported that Israeli forces immediately opened fire and shot the Palestinian youth.
The youth was reported to be in moderate condition.
According to local sources, the youth was identified as 16-year-old Khalil Yousef Ali Jabarin, a resident from the Yatta village in the southern West Bank district of Hebron.
Local sources confirmed that the youth was detained by Israeli forces and taken to an unknown location.
A number of Palestinians have been arrested, shot, or killed by Israeli forces for allegedly attempting to carry out attacks or being in possession of a knife at the Gush Etzion junction.
Though Israeli forces have claimed that Palestinians were allegedly attempting to carry out attacks in a majority of instances when Palestinians were killed, rights groups have disputed Israel’s version of events in a number of cases, and argued that many alleged attackers could have been subdued in a non-lethal manner.”
The message in the story is clear: Israeli forces often claim that there is an attempted attack when none exists, and use it as a premise to shoot Palestinians. In this case, a Palestinian youth was shot and taken to an unknown location by Israeli forces for allegedly being behind a stabbing attack.
There was a video of the stabbing made available widely after the murder. There is no question that Ari Fuld was minding his business when this “youth” attacked him completely unprovoked. The news sources also reported that the Palestinian “youth” was taken to an Israel hospital for treatment. This fact was obviously known to MNA, as they posted a picture of the attacker being taken by Israeli medical responders.
MNA portrayed a David-versus-Goliath narrative of “Israeli forces” acting “illegally” shooting “Palestinian youths.” However, there was no Israeli military involved in preventing a widespread stabbing attack that Sunday morning, but local people who were fortunately armed to stop the Arab “youth” from killing more people.
Instead of describing the cold-blooded murder of a Jewish father, Ma’an wrote an article meant to inflame the passions of Arabs and anti-Zionists that Israelis are out for blood and shooting youths for no reason.
And it did this with the support of European countries like Denmark and the Netherlands.

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