It Is NOT Israel Independence Day But Israel REESTABLISHMENT Day

The Jewish calendar runs at a different pace than the Gregorian or other calendars. Based on the cycles of the moon, it starts with the creation of the world which correlates to the year 3761 BCE. That means that the year 2022 CE is the year 5782 in the Jewish calendar.

In the Hebrew Bible, the first monotheist and forefather of the Jewish people is Abraham. Born as Abram in the year 1948 in the Jewish calendar, he lived his early years in present day southern Iraq in Ur-Kasdim and then Haran. At 75 years old, in the year 2023, he heard the voice of God tell him to move to Canaan, present day Israel. It was there that God told him that the land was an ever-lasting inheritance to his descendants Isaac, Jacob (later Israel) and all of the Children of Israel.

Judaism is not like other religions or even the other monotheistic faiths of Christianity and Islam. Judaism is a particular religion for a particular group of people. It does not have designs to spread to the corners of the Earth in an effort to make others convert. It was designed to be local – to the land of Israel – for the Jewish people. That is why the Bible commands the Jews to visit Jerusalem THREE TIMES EVERY YEAR – Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot – while Islam asks of its adherents to visit Mecca only once in a lifetime. Jews were supposed to stay in the land (certainly before planes and automobiles) while Islam knew that Muslims would live thousands of miles away from its holy city.

From 722BCE onward, many invaders and colonists forced Jews out of their land of inheritance. Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and others came into the Jewish holy land, killing or hauling Jews to foreign lands, and planting their own flag in Jewish soil.

Yet some Jews remained in the land, and a greater influx of world Jewry commenced during the 19th century. By the late 1860’s CE, Jerusalem was majority Jewish.

In 1948 CE (a curious coincident to the birth of Abraham in 1948 in the Jewish calendar) the modern State of Israel was established on the 5th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. People often refer to the anniversary of the founding as “Israel Independence Day” but that is a misnomer, as Israel did not become independent from anyone. Jews waited for the British to leave the land and end their mandate before declaring itself a new state, the REESTABLISHED Jewish State in the Jewish homeland.

Next year, May 2023, will mark the 75th year of Israel’s Reestablishment Day, correlating to when the land of Israel was promised by God to the Children of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob/ Israel when Abraham was 75 years old in the year 2023 of the Jewish calendar. Let’s celebrate this entire year with particular revelry, as a plurality of Jews now live in the thriving Jewish State with a united Jerusalem once again as its capital.

Israeli flag at the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple Mount (photo: First One Through)

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The Cultural Appropriation of the Jewish ‘Promised Land’

The Lies Conflating the Holocaust and The Promised Land

The Holocaust decimated the Jewish population in Europe from 1939 to 1945. After the war, the vast majority of the remnant of European Jewry moved to either France, the United States or the Mandate of Palestine. Just three years after the end of the genocide of the Jews, the modern state of Israel was born.

Many people believe that the world endorsed the notion of a Jewish State because of the terrible tragedy which befell the Jews. While some countries may have indeed voted at the United Nations in favor of recognizing Israel because of the Holocaust, its reestablishment was sponsored by the global community years before World War II.

First by the British in the 1917 Balfour Declaration, then by the League of Nations in the 1920 San Remo Agreement and the 1922 Mandate of Palestine, the leading countries of the world supported Jews reestablishing their homeland. In the late 1930’s the British specifically called for creating a distinct Jewish State in Palestine. All of these actions were taken before the genocide of European Jewry.

Similarly, God’s promises of the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob predated the Children of Israel becoming slaves in Egypt. The divine promises for a particular family to have a particular plot of land are found throughout the Book of Genesis and include:

  • The Lord appeared to Abram and said ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’” (Genesis 12:7)
  • For all the land which you see, I will give it to you and your descendants forever.” (Genesis 13:15)
  • To your descendants I have given this land.” (Genesis 15:18)
  • And I will give to you and your descendants after you, the land of your sojourning, the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:8)
  • To your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 24:7)

The Promised Land is an integral part of Judaism. It is a unique dynamic among world religions that a particular people is tied to a specific parcel of land. The history of Jews in their holy land goes back thousands of years.

Yet people confuse the nature of the Jewish State and how it came to be reestablished in 1948. The global community did not create Israel as a safe haven for Jews after the Holocaust; it voted to reestablish the Jewish homeland years before the Holocaust. Further, Zionists do not aspire for a Greater Israel from “the Nile to the Euphrates” the way anti-Semites at the United Nations claim; they want to live, pray and have autonomy in their small patch of the world promised to them by God.

The relevance of the Holocaust to Israel today is about underscoring the absolute imperative of Israel’s security, which means ensuring that the country’s neighbors cannot threaten it. Critical features include: Israel having full control of its borders and airspace; no military for a possible future Palestinian State; no ability for terrorist groups like HAMAS in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon to attack Israel; and most significantly, no nuclear weapons for Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism which has threatened to wipe Israel off of the map.

The anti-Zionist false narrative connecting the Holocaust and the Promised Land spins a web of lies that European countries created a safe haven – a metaphorical “Promised Land” – for Jews as a gift to allay its guilt in permitting and participating in the Holocaust, an act of charity taken on the backs of Palestinian Arabs. The slander of original sin of the theft of “Arab Land” to create a Jewish State leads to noxious claims that Jews will continue to try to steal more land as “colonialists” as well as demands that the British apologize for the Balfour Declaration. It falsely inverts the indigenous Jews to invaders; those needing protection to aggressors who must be held in check.

The Promised Land of Israel is an eternal gift from God to the Jewish forefathers thousands of years ago and to their descendants in the present day, not from European nations in response to the Holocaust. The critical lesson of the Holocaust is to protect the Jews in Israel from neighbors who wish to do them harm, politically, economically, militarily and most definitely, journalistically.

Israeli soldiers prepare to enter Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Israel (photo: First One Through)


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The Cultural Appropriation of the Jewish ‘Promised Land’

Seeing the Holocaust Through Nakba Eyes

The Holocaust and the Nakba

From Promised Land to Promised Home

The Shrinking Modern Jewish Homeland

Squeezing Zionism

The Calming Feeling of Palestinian Refugees: Rashida Tlaib in Her Own Words

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

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God is a Zionist (music by Joan Osborne)

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The Cultural Appropriation of the Jewish ‘Promised Land’

Various segments of western society have become critical about “cultural appropriation” in which the majority group adopts customs of another group without explicitly acknowledging its origins, as to do so would be both stealing and effectively wiping out the essence of the minority culture. The issue is even more concerning when the majority group’s acts of appropriation specifically target religious and holy items of minority groups.

There is no greater example of this trend than the broad theft of the Jewish “Promised Land.”

In Genesis 12, God tells Abraham to leave his home “to the land that I will show you.” When he passed through Shechem (Nablus) God said “I will assign this land to your offspring.” It is a speech which God would repeat throughout the Bible to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel) and the Children of Israel, that this specific land was promised “as an everlasting possession.” (Genesis 17:8) It is a core belief of Judaism.

Over time, non-Jewish musicians and poets would use the phrase “Promised Land” as a generic destination without noting its specific identity to the land of Israel for Jews. Chuck Berry sang about it (later covered by Elvis) in reference to California as a destination for his music to reach the masses. Bruce Springsteen sang about the “promised land” as a place of yearning, a mental and spiritual destination beyond current problems.

When Arab invaders brought Islam into Israel in the seventh and eighth centuries, they seized Jewish holy sites like the Tomb of the Jewish Matriarchs and Patriarchs in Hebron and turned it into a mosque. They built the Dome of the Rock atop the Jewish Temple Mount. The Muslims even adopted the notion of a “waqf” as a religious holy space. As opposed to Jews who viewed the land of Israel as holy because it was promised to them by God, Muslims believe that anywhere Muslims conquered and established the supremacy of Islam became a Muslim holy land. As such, Muslims attempted to erase the physical Jewish Promised Land as a land of their own.

Politicians mostly avoid using the term “Promised Land.” They might note that Israel is a “Holy Land” which is “sacred to Jews and Christians and Muslims” as President Obama noted in a national prayer breakfast in 2014, stripping the uniqueness of the Promised Land for Jews. When Obama did use the term “Promised Land” it was as a metaphor for when Black children will have full equality to live in an America devoid of bigotry and racism.


The worst and most feared element of cultural appropriation happens constantly in regards to the “Promised Land,” in which it is either used generically as a metaphor without any connection to Jews, or when applied to the physical land of Israel, it is noted as holy to the three monotheistic faiths and not uniquely promised to the Children of Israel.

We should aspire to follow the example of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. whose final speech in 1968 pulled together the story of the Jewish Promised Land in connection with his desire for a more perfect society:

Something is happening in Memphis; something is happening in our world. And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, “Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?” I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there…

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

The “promised land” is commonly used as a metaphor for a perfect society. Let’s strive for that perfection by acknowledging that its foundation is the Jewish State of Israel.


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Martin Luther King and Zionism

The Cave of the Jewish Matriarch and Arab Cultural Appropriation

Linda Sarsour as Pontius Pilate

The Remarkable Tel Jerusalem

The Jewish Holy Land

Jews, Judaism and Israel

The Nation of Israel Prevails

“Flowing with Milk and Honey”

Today’s Inverted Chanukah: The Holiday of Rights in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria

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Join Facebook group: Israel Analysis and FirstOneThrough

The Jewish Holy Land

Roughly 3300 years ago, the Jews received the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai.  Those commandments were designed for all Jews to follow at all times, whether the positive commandments like respecting one’s parents, or the negative commandments like not murdering.

One of the positive commandments included a reason for the order: keeping the Sabbath:

8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. “

Exodus 20:8-11

God told the Children of Israel to not work on the seventh day of the week, just as God rested on the seventh day when He created the entire world.  By doing so, He made that seventh day holy, and commanded the Jews to make it holy as well.

The other nine commandments did not have explanations; the commandments were simply stated such as “You shall not steal.”  The second commandment of not taking the name of the Lord in vain “For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children…” reveals more about the ramifications of ignoring the commandment, when no such threat was made in the text for the Sabbath.

Jews were told to actively remember the Sabbath, so, in turn, they can actively remember God’s creations and His decision to stop, rest and make the seventh day holy. The reason is not so much of an explanation, as it was meant to focus what should be remembered.

Shmita

God gave the Jews other commandments beyond the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.

The Jewish tradition is that the Torah contains 613 commandments, all of which were given at Mount Sinai.  The sages conclude this from Leviticus 25, where God commands Jews to observe shmita on Mount Sinai. The biblical commentator Rashi (1040-1105) stated that clearly mentioning that such law was given on Mount Sinai was to show that all of the commandments were given there as well.

1The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, 2“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. 3For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. 4But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. 5Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. 6Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, 7as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.”

Leviticus 25:1-7

The commandment of shmita resembled the commandment of keeping the seventh day a day of rest.  In this case, the people may work the land for six years, but must not work the land on the seventh year, as the land must be given rest.  However, unlike the commandment for remembering the Sabbath day, the underlying reason for giving the land rest was not given.

Further, this commandment was localized to the Holy Land.  Only “when you enter the land I am going to give you,” when the Jews crossed the Jordan River, was the commandment relevant.

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Field in Israel declaring its observance of shmita in 2008
(photo: First.One.Through)

Nachmanides, or the Ramban (1194-1270), noted that there was a similarity of the Sabbath day and shmita when he wrote that shmita is about remembering this world and the world to come.  He derived that from Avos 5:9 which described that Jews would be punished with exile if they did not keep shmita. Ramban added  “whoever repudiates [shmita] shows that he does not acknowledge the truth of Creation and the World to Come.”

However, during his long explanation, the Ramban did not delve into the local nature of shmita.

Was the intention of the command’s preface to just let the Jews know that shmita was not necessary during the time from standing at Mount Sinai until they arrived in the Holy Land?  Or was there a message behind the land itself?

The Holy Land for the Jewish Nation

The commandment to observe Sabbath day became effective immediately when it was received on Mount Sinai.  Throughout the wanderings of the desert before they entered Israel, Jews kept the seventh day holy.  They did so, because they continued to live and benefit from God’s creations – even the desert itself.  Jews continue to observe Sabbath when they are not in the Holy Land for the same reason: the commandment’s underlying reason was to remember God’s creation of the entire world.

Was the commandment of shmita about memory too? Was it about remembering the “World to Come” as Ramban suggested?  If so, why did the commandment need to only be kept in Israel and needed to be delayed until they arrived in the Holy Land?

Perhaps the parallel of memory in the Sabbath day and shmita was not about “the truth of Creation and the World to Come,” but about God’s gift of the land of Israel to the Jewish people.

God included the reason of keeping the Sabbath day as a remembrance of the world’s creation within the command itself.  Keeping the Sabbath included remembering the story of creation.

In the commandment of shmita, maybe there was also an explanation inside the text: “the land that I am going to give you.”  It was not just an explanation of when to begin observing the law, but the reason of observing the law: the land was God’s gift to the children of Israel.

דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם כִּי תָבֹאוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לָכֶם וְשָׁבְתָה הָאָרֶץ שַׁבָּת לַיהֹוָה:

The Hebrew biblical text is different than God’s other promises of the promised land in the Torah.

  • When God promised the land to Abraham, it was described as “the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1), not give you.
  • In Exodus chapter 3, God described leading the Israelites to a land flowing with milk and honey that is occupied by many other nations.
  • In Exodus chapter 33, God told the Jews to go to the land that He promised their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Only in Leviticus did God change the language as giving the land to the Children of Israel themselves (Leviticus 20:24).  It was a gift for them, not just a promise made to forefathers.

That is why the commandment is localized in the Holy Land.  The commandment is not to just let the land lie fallow every seven years, but like the Sabbath, it is to remember that the land is God’s gift to the Jewish people.  It would be an insult to that special present of Israel for Jews outside of land to celebrate shmita.

God’s gift of Israel to the Jewish people is not limited by time, but an eternal present.  That is why even on the seventh year, when Jews cannot work the land, they can still enjoy the fruits of the land.  The gift never stops, even while Jews pause to remember the gift itself.

Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.”

Like the Sabbath day that is commanded to Jews, but to be respected among non-Jews that live with Jews, so is God’s gift to the Jews of the land of Israel.  The fruits of such gift may be shared broadly among those living in the land together with the Jews.

Enjoy and actively remember the gift of the Holy Land every day.  Try not to wait every seven years.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Today’s Inverted Chanukah: The Holiday of Rights in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria

The Nation of Israel Prevails

The Journeys of Abraham and Ownership of the Holy Land

“Flowing with Milk and Honey”

From Promised Land to Promised Home

Wearing Our Beliefs

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From Promised Land to Promised Home

Summary: God is the original Zionist.

Judaism is a unique religion in many respects:

  • Every other religion is based primarily on faith. Judaism is based primarily on lineage.
  • Every other religion is based on belief. Judaism is based on action.
  • Every other religion is not geographically-bound. Judaism is tied to the land of Israel.

The Old Testament has 613 commandments for Jews to observe. Many of those can only be kept inside the land of Israel. Those commandments relate to the sanctity of the land, as God promised the land to Abraham and the generations after him.

shmita
Observing “Shmita” only in Israel
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

Promised Land

The Bible has three sets of promises of the land of Israel for the Jewish people. The first set is God’s original promise to Abraham:

  • “The Lord appeared to Abram and said ‘To your descendants I will give this land’” (Genesis 12:7)

The book of Genesis repeats the promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob several times where the land is presented as “an everlasting possession” for the generations to come. (Genesis 17:8).

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The Western Galilee
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

Promised Return to the Land

The second set of promises related to the return to Israel from slavery in Egypt. That promise is slightly different than the original promise to the Jewish forefathers:

  • The land is described as being a good land “flowing with milk and honey
  • The land is occupied by others, by the “Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.” (Genesis 3:8)

Hundreds of years earlier, God just told Abraham to go “to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1) without any description of the location or nature of the land.  At the point of the exodus from Egypt, God promised not only freedom from slavery, but to a land of great quality.  Presumably, the land was so good, that others had now moved there while the Jews were trapped in Egypt.  However, God promised to “drive them [the others] out” (Exodus 23:30) and that the Jews will ultimately possess it.

cows
Cows in the Golan
 
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

 Promised Home

The Old Testament ends with yet a third promise: a return from the diaspora to the land of Israel, to their home.

  • The promise includes an ingathering of exiles from “the four quarters of the Earth” (Isaiah 11:12)
  • Israel is no longer only described as simply being a good land, an inhabited land or the land of the Jewish forebears. The land is described as belonging to the people of Israel. The prophets repeatedly describe that God will “bring you home again to your own land” (Jeremiah 29:14)

Home. A place that is established and well-known. That doesn’t require a list of directions of how to get there, nor many adjectives.

It is a place where a people grows up and lives. It is a place of life events, both happy and sad. Where families celebrate, quarrel and mourn. A place with family history and history to be made.

Home is where “house rules” apply; where the house decides what is allowed and denied. It decides what is in the best interest of its inhabitants. It is the safe space where a family comes to find sanctuary from the world at large.

Home is always home, even when people have been away. But especially when they come back.

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Jerusalem’s Old City
(photo: FirstOneThrough)

A music video about God’s promises of the land of Israel to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to become a home for the Jewish people.