Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Yerushalayim - Letter and Response

Below, in the post entitled Yerushalayim Must Maintain Jewish Sovereignty, we referred you to an article in the Jewish Tribune (Toronto), written by Nishma's Founding Director, Rabbi Benjamin Hecht, on the topic of the sovreignty of Yerushalayim.

The Tribune this week published a letter to the editor in response to Rabbi Hecht's column and a response to this letter by Rabbi Hecht. We invite you to now look at this correspondence at (page 5).


Anonymous said...

There is only one universally held international law: Him what has gets.

Anonymous said...

I'm always amazed by the politically correct Jews who are so worried about international opinions and looking "righteous" in the eyes of the nations.
If the Arabs shout that they want to create a "Palestine" in which Jews are forbidden to live or own property, they don't bat an eyelash. But for Jews to assert that Yerushalayim is ours now and forever, well forget that its only under Jewish administration that all religions have had total and free access to their holy sites. The British (may their island sink into the sea) and the Russians (may their vodke turn toxic) might get upset and we wouldn't want that!

Anonymous said...

BH: your piece on yiush presents me with many problems.

1) In your tribune piece, you want to argue that Jews are somehow more humane and tolerant, yet you turn around to this audience and argue basically that any land owned in Israel (or at the very least Jerusalem) by non Jews can be halachically seized by a Jew. Oy yoyoy.

2) While it seems that you are trying to justify Israeli sovereignty, your argument addresses land parcel ownership. Ownership and Sovereignty are very different categories. The sovereign power doesn't necessarily own the land, and a land owner most certainly is not necessarily the sovereign.

3) Your confusion maybe unconsciously strategic. By this confusion you conceal the elephant in the room for religious political zionists: the state of Israel does not represent from a halachic standpoint Am yisrael. It is one thing to argue that the state's leaders operates with interest of am yisrael in mind, it's another to amalgamate the two. Let me make this clearer: the State of Israel is not Am Yisrael. Nor is their any practical means to establish the State as the sovereign of Am Yisrael.
i, myself hope that the State is merely a temporary incubator for the establishment of a true society of Israel.

4) Your yiush argument not only supposes that yiush applies to real estate but that individual ownership is derived from corporate ownership. In other words you imagine a corporate Israel owning the land (like a divinely appointed keren kayemet).
But actually the story the Tanahk tells is of divinely appointed sovereigns who divvy up some of land according to tribal affiliation , while chunks still remain in the hands of other peoples.

5) In other words, your yiush argument hinges on the notion that Am Yisrael as a corporate entity owned all of Israel. I don't agree. King David himself purchased the real estate of the Temple from Araunah the Hittite, for a handsome price. There is no proof that either during the First Temple period or the Second temple period that all of Israel or even Jerusalem itself was owned exclusively by Am Yisrael. Nor is there any source which suggests that land ownership during the second temple had to be Jewish.

6) Your citation of Rashi conceals more than it reveals. Rashi's commentary on Bereshit derives from Bereshit Rabbah,a fifth century piece, itself an echo of a defense against pagan attacks on Jews. Without HaShem being seen as the Creator, the invasion of Canaan even though divinely led could have been regarded as a group's own testimony to its god's seizure of someone else's land. This midrash demonstrates that the G-d who promised and led the invasion is the very same sovereign of the world. The argument is not that Israel is owned in perpetuity by Am Yisrael-- because no such statement is made by Hashem. Again the purpose of the midrash is to connect the G-d of the conquest with the G-d of Creation. The linkage between the G-d of the promise and the G-d of creation in no way substantiates that parcels of Israeli real estate arbritrarily belongs to any member of Am Yisrael who makes a claim upon it. Ironically because the text was used to defend against a very particular charge of stealing in our ancient history. and torah, scholars familiar with religious sources, are now using it to defend contemporary acts of actual stealing.

7) Am Yisrael does not own eretz Yisrael. According to Second Yishiah , G-d owns the land. We are not G-d. We have been promised an opportunity to live and prosper there under certain conditions and if we violate those conditions, which have been understood variously in the Torah, in the Neviim, in the Ketuvim and by HAzal then we are literally thrown up out. we accept that we have violated the terms of the agreement. we believe that deal is still open. Let's not blow it up again by believing we can remain there by beating our chests. If we really want to live there, in a place particularly filled with God's presence were going to have come to terms with the rest of creation. Eretz israel in particular is not a place to trust in our own power or believe that we're better or more privileged than another group.

8)The idea that we will achieve peace and everlasting security through conquest in a prophetless time is something we already tried under the Hashmonaim and failed. In fact, from the time of spy incident ( Bamidbar 13) it was made absolutlely clear that Eretz Yisrael could not be conquered by arbitrary willful attack.

9) we have never been guaranteed sovereignty for any specific moment but we believe that we can achieve an everlasting autonomy found in the divinely inspired dreams of our prophets.

10) the real belief structure supporting Israeli rule of the Old City can be found on the comments above this one
Ironheart: you demonstrate the Machiavellian beliefs which undergird much of today's religious dressing. But I disagree somewhat with your characterization of this approach. Him what has gets, the exercise of power, in the end, knows no laws.
Dr. MIke: First you talk about Jews who only worry about what other people think and then you make an argument of why we should be seen as righteous in the eyes of others. you can't decide whether you want to seem machiavellian or poliitcally correct. In the end, you move even beyond the power affirmations of Ironheart into the sardonic, the sphere of the scorner or the Letz. From my standpoint, despite, their conflicts with Jewish refugees after wwII, there are very few peoples on earth who have been as supportive of Jews and Israel as the British have been in the past century. I could argue the British christian zionism was as important to the founding of Israel as the first russian Jewish zionists. I have not forgotten that Britain was the singular European haven left for Jews in WWII and had it not been for irascible fighting spirit of Montgomery's army at El Alamien the Nazis would have seized Palestine and annihilated the yishuv. Despite the antagonism between english colonials and the yishuv, a great deal of british ammo was transferred to the hands of Jews. As for the Russians, my grandparents having left there, I'm not a great fan .But still I have not forgotten that it was Russia who first recognized the State of Israel and whenever I think of an Ashkenazic Jewish celebration, I think of Russian dancing. My spin is that your cursing represents those who not only cynically disregard authentic human engagement but act as if the powerful themselves were not real. Much as I believe in possibilities of Am Yisrael and our two torahs,I read the articles, I read the comments; I fear we are in big trouble.