I’ve just put up a link to the dramatic two-day discussion of Israel’s Cabint on 19 June 1967, over at the other blog. this is the first online publication of the full transcript of the deliberations. At tehe end of the discussions the government decided to trade land for peace.
Ronen Shoval, the founder of Im Tirzu, recently had an op-ed in Haaretz in which he explained why dividing Jerusalem in return for peace would be an awful idea:
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert said a few days ago: “It breaks my heart to initiate relinquishing sovereignty over the Temple Mount but there is no other choice.”…
No one gives up their heart in return for peace. If the aim was peace at all costs, the safest and most immediate way to achieve it would be simply to convert to Islam. Just as, for the sake of peace, even the most ardent left-wing activists would not be prepared to convert to Islam, not even in a symbolic way, so it is impossible to concede the symbols that express identity. Peace is merely a means for the Jewish people to exist and thrive.
Actually, peace should also be a means for the Palestinians to exist and thrive, but there’s the rub: The Palestinians have been offered peace at least 4 times since 2000 and have spurned all the offers as not sufficient. Which means, they’ve got their red lines, and prefer no state and no peace over crossing them. Shoval, speaking for a large minority of Israelis at least, says the same: peace, yes, but not at an unacceptable price. Dividing Jerusalem (by which he seems to mean the historic center, not necessarily Kfar Akeb) would be too high a price.
The other day was the Tenth of Tevet, a minor fast-day which serves, among other purposes, as the day on which one says Kaddish for someone whose date of death is unknown. After the Shoah the day took on the role of commemoration for the Shoah for the religious communities. The secular camp, not having any interest in saying Kaddish, insisted on a separate day to be dedicated exclusively to the Shoah and not shared with other events; after a period of political horse-trading in the early 1950s, the 8th day before Independance day was chosen, which has worked out fine. Some of the Haredim don’t commemorate the Zionist invention, and effectively none of the secular Israelis even know about the Tenth of Tevet; stuck in the middle are the Modern Orthodox, who commemorate Yom Hashoah along with most everyone else in April or May, and also the Tenth of Tevet along with the Haredim, in the middle of winter.
Makor Rishon, the highbrow newspaper of the settlers, and thus sort of the tribal paper of (some of) the Modern Orthodox, had the following story in its weekend edition (no English version – my translation) about a man who has been saying Kaddish three times a day for more than 65 years. Normally one says Kaddish for 11 months after the death of a parent, and less for other family members, though the Rav Soloveitchik famously said Kaddish for five years after the death of his wife.
When cajoled by his fellow cogregants to explain, the man, who apparently lives in Israel’s north but is not identified by name, started by reminding them that he was a Holocaust survivor:
I was about 18 at the end of the war, and when I saw what had happened to my family and friends, I decided to start saying Kaddish. The first year was for my father; the second for my mother, the third for my brother, the fourth for my sister, then I went on to say Kaddish for my grandfather, both grandmothers, and so on for the rest of the family. Saying Kaddish for my family took about twenty years, and then I said to myself “enough, you can stop now”.
But then, just as Iwas about to stop, the image of a childhood friend rose before me, and seemed to be pleading for a year of Kaddish. So I went on for one more year. At the end, when I was about to stop, I remembered the old man who died next to me in the barrack, and since I was pretty sure no-one had said Kaddish for him, I added another year. And so it went. Each year when I was about to stop saying Kaddish, the image of another person would appear before me, sometime in a dream, sometimes when I was awake: kids I had played with, people I had seen die in the camps, distant relatives. Each one of them pleaded for their year of Kaddish, which they had been deprived of.
And so it has been 65 years already, and how many people have I managed? 65, that’s all. Almost nothing – a few bunks in the barracks, that’s all. I’m more than 80 years old, I don’t know how many years I have left, and there are so many people who remain to have Kaddish said for them..
I have reactivated my old blog, Yaacov Lozowick’s Ruminations, for one day, with two posts. One tells how an ancient Talmudic discussion is all about our contemporary world. The other explains why I think 2011 has been one of the best years in recent Jewish history – since, say, 2000 years ago.
Now I’m going offline again, at both blogs. I’m too busy doing other things.
Haaretz has an article simultaneously repoorting, speculating and criticising an emerging Israeli policy regarding Jerusalem. Predictaby, Haaretz leaves out some essential parts of the story, but the speculation itself is plausible – and hopefully, also correct.
The report tells that Israel seems to be taking steps towards severing Kfar Akeb and Shuafat from East Jerusalem. Kfar Akeb is the neighborhood between Ramallah and Jerusalem which has been beyond the security fence since about 2005; effectively it is more part of Ramallah than of Jerusalem. Shuafat is further south, on the north-east edge of town; it has been outside the fence since about 2007 or 2008. While closer to the center of Jerusalem than to the center of Ramallah, it is only about a 10 minute drive to Ramallah.
Mayor Nir Barkat has been open about his wish to have the fence be the municipal line. Haaretz says the government, which paves roads and infrastructures beyond the line, seems to agree. Facts on the ground indicate there are preparations underway to enable a division, i.e an international border, along the line of the fence. Beyond severing those two Palestinians neighborhoods from Israel (which, you would think, the world ought to support but of course won’t), there may also be plans to connect Maale Adumim to Jerusalem by building in the empty E1 area which lies between them. This, however, first requires the construction of good roads that could connect Ramallah to Bethlehem, thus countering the claim that connecting Maale Adumim would necessarily sever the West Bank in two.
What’s the single most glaring ommission in the report? That would be that Israel is finally investing large sums of money in the parts of Arab Jerusalem which are to remain inside the line. In other words, Israel is trying to create a situation in East Jerusalem akin to the Galilee and other parts of Israel with large Arab concentrations, in which the locals enjoy full Israeli citizenship and wouldn’t dream of wanting to live in Palestine. There are numerous indications this policy is working, creating a situation where the Palestinians of Jerusalem regard themselves as full Israelis. I’ve written about this elsewhere.
Daniel Seidmann’s organization Terrestrial Jerusalem has a new report about the various construction projects that our government has launched in the past few years. I don’t have the time to actually read the new report, not at the moment, and Seidmann often sees things differently than I do. On the other hand, he knows hs stuff. So I expect it’s worth casting a glance over here.