Friday, May 18, 2018

We're Mesmerized by the Israeli-Palestinian Battle as We Try to Fit Our Times into a Profound Part of Human History

THE REAL NEWS AS WE END THIS WEEK IS THAT WE HAVE TALKED A LOT ABOUT ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS. And I'm not sure we have said anything very constructive for peace, although peace is always my intent and my daily prayer. • • • THE NAKBA. Israel Today wrote on Tuesday about the Nakba -- the Catastrophe -- sqying it was a day of joy for Israel, and grief for the Palestinians. • When David Ben Gurion stood in fornt of the Tel Aviv Art Museum on May 14, 1948, and announced, "We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish state in Palestine, to be called Israel," his words brought xheers and applause and tears from the crowd gathered at the Museum. But, writes Israel Today, for the Palestinians, it was a catastrophe, "Al Nakba" as they call it, that resulted in the exodus of more than 700,000 Arabs, who either fled or were evicted to neighboring Arab states, as well as more than 200,000 internally displaced persons, who remained within the borders of Israel, but were unable to return to their properties once the Israeli-Arab war was over. • Hanna Sweid, an Israeli-Arab politician who served as a Member of the Knesset for the Hadash party from 2006 to 2015; once said : "Hundreds of thousands have been evicted, and hundreds of Arab villages were demolished and looted. The village I came from, Eilabun, is just one of the examples." • What happened in Eilabun is often used as the example of the Palestinian expulsion form the new state of Israel. As Israel Today explaind it : "In October 1948, Eilabun, a predominantly Christian village, was captured by the 12th Battalion of Israel's Golani Brigade. Following the town's surrender, the commander of the Golani troops selected a dozen residents and had them executed. The village was then looted and all property confiscated, while most of the town's residents were sent to neighboring Lebanon. What Sweid failed to disclose in his remarks to Israel Today regarding Eilabun's capture were the underlying circumstances. Prior to Israeli troops taking the town, the Arab Liberation Army (ALA) had set up a base there and killed two Israeli soldiers. The ALA gunmen and local inhabitants of Eilabun then paraded the severed heads of the Israelis through the streets of the town. It was not common for the nascent Israeli army to target Christian towns, but what happened in Eilabun made it an exception. Sweid also neglected to mention that in the case of Eilabun, the original inhabitants were permitted to return one year later in 1949 as part of an agreement between Israel and the Patriarch of Antioch, Archbishop Maximos V Hakim." • The Israeli government insists that it had no official policy of expulsion targeting local Arabs in 1948. Israel Today says : "Israel's narrative is clear : Local Arabs were not expelled, but many did flee as a result of being ordered or convinced to do so by their leaders or the leaders of Arab states who wanted to make room for invading Arab armies." Sweid says it is hard for him to accept this explanation : "It is difficult for me to accept these claims. While some rich Palestinians -- residing predominantly in Jaffa and Haifa -- did flee because they had the means to relocate to other countries, most Palestinians were forced out. But even if they did leave, I don’t understand why Israel refuses to let them come back to their property." • Of course, we know the answer -- the original 700,000 Palestinian refugees are now 7 million people (the actual refugees and their descendants). If they were all admitted to Israel, together with the Arabs now living in Israel who make up 20% of Israle's population -- Israel's Arabs would become a majority, bringing about the end of the "Jewish" state. • BUT, says Israel Today : "that's not the only reason. According to some historians, during the War of Independence in 1948, Arab inhabitants of Israel were promised total equality in the new state if they remained neutral. However, if they fought or fled, they'd be considered a potential threat, a fifth column. That's why to re-admit a potentially hostile bloc of millions of people at this point would be suicidal for Israel." • Sweid's solution? : "All Israel has to do is let the internally-displaced persons -- those who are living in Israel and have the right to vote -- go back to their lands. It will not change Israel's demographics. But if Israel continues to stick its head in sand, the problem will only grow bigger and the Nakba of the Palestinian people will never be resolved. Nor will the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." • Many Israelis say the Nakba was the result not of Israeli conquest, but of the Arabs' refusal to accept the original partition plan, which would have created a Palestinian Arab state, with Israel's blessing, more than 70 years ago. • • • INTERNALLY DISPLACED PALESTINIANS. Wikipedia states : "If the definition is restricted to those displaced in the 1948 war and its immediate aftermath and their descendants, some 274,000 Arab citizens of Israel -- or 1 in 4 Palestinians in Israel -- are internally displaced Palestinians. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimated in 2007 that 150,000-420,000 internally displaced persons were living in Israel. The vast majority are Moslem (90%) and 10% are Christian. There are no Druze among them "since no Druze village was destroyed in the 1948 war and no Druze left their settlements permanently." Organizations defending the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel also generally include the 110,000 Bedouin forced to move in a closed area under military rule in the Negev in 1949 in their estimates of internally displaced Palestinians. Other internally displaced persons included in these counts are those who were displaced by ongoing home demolitions enacted against unlicensed structures or in unrecognized villages. Estimates based on this broader definition place the total population of IDPs at anywhere between 250,000 - 420,000 people. In 1950, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) estimated that 46,000 of the 156,000 Palestinians who remained inside the borders demarcated as Israel by the 1949 Armistice Agreements were internally displaced refugees. As it was for most other Palestinian refugees, the homes and properties of internally displaced Palestinians were placed under the control of a government body, the Custodian of Absentees' Property via legislation that includes the 1948 Emergency Regulation Concerning Absentee Property (a temporary measure) and the 1950 Absentee Property Law. Unlike other Palestinian refugees, the internally displaced Palestinians and others who remained inside what became Israel were made citizens by the Citizenship Law of July 1952. That same year Israel requested that UNRWA transfer responsibility for registering and caring for internally displaced persons to Israel and basic humanitarian assistance was provided to the internally displaced for a time. Military administrative rule (1948–1966) restricted the movement of Arab citizens of Israel, and it combined with the Absentees' Property Laws to prevent internally displaced citizens from physically returning to their properties to reclaim their homes. According to the Absentees' Property Laws, 'absentees' are non-Jewish residents of Palestine who had left their usual places of residence for any place inside or outside the country after the adoption of the partition of Palestine resolution by the UN. Under these laws, 'absentee' property owners were required to prove their 'presence' in order to gain recognition of their ownership rights by the Israeli government. However, all ownership rights of 'absentees' belong to the government-appointed Custodian of Absentee Property, and any person including the 'absentee' owner himself found occupying, building, or being 'present' on such properties would be violating the law and risk expulsion and demolition. Some villagers like those of Ghassibiya, Bir'im and Iqrit made petitions to the Israeli High Court to have their property rights recognized which were upheld in the 1950s, but they were physically prevented from reclaiming their properties by military administrative authorities who refused to abide by the court rulings and declared the villages closed military zones. Because most internally displaced Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel were counted as absent, even though present inside the Israeli state, they are also commonly referred to as present absentees. Today, the internally displaced Bedouins live in 39-46 unrecognized villages in the Negev and the Galilee, while the remaining internally displaced Palestinians live in some 80 towns and villages in the Galilee such as Ein Hawd. There is also the village of Ein Rafa near Jerusalem. Half of the populations in the two largest Arab towns in Israel, Nazareth and Umm al-Fahm, are made up of internally displaced refugees from neighbouring towns and villages destroyed in 1948. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimated in July 2015 that there are at least 263,500 IDPs in Occupied Palestine." • • • ISRAEL'S DEMOGRAPHICS WOULD CHANGE. Today, the State of Israel has a population of approximately 8,855,000 inhabitants as of first half-2018 -- 74.5% are Jews of all backgrounds (about 6,556,000 individuals), 20.9% are Arab of any religion other than Jewish (about 1,837,000 individuals), and the remaining 4.6% (about 400,000 individuals) are defined as "others" including persons of Jewish ancestry deemed non-Jewish by religious law and persons of non-Jewish ancestry who are family members of Jewish immigrants (neither of which are registered at the Ministry of Interior as Jews), Christian non-Arabs, Moslem non-Arabs, and all other residents who have neither an ethnic nor religious classification. • Israel's annual population growth rate was 2.0% in 2015, more than three times faster than the OECD average of 0.6%. With an average of three children per woman, Israel also has the highest fertility rate in the OECD by a considerable margin, and much higher than the OECD average of 1.7. Population trends in Israel reflect distinct patterns of two sub-groups -- over the past decade, the Moslem annual population growth has fallen significantly, from around 3% to less than 2.2% by 2013, while the overall Jewish growth rate rose from around 1.4% to 1.7%, primarily due to the expanding Orthodox Jewish sector. • Among the Jewish 74.5% of Israel's population, 70.3% are Sabras (born in Israel), mostly second- or third-generation Israelis, and the rest are olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel), of whom 20.5% are from Europe and the Americas, and 9.2% are from Asia and Africa, including Arab countries. • The addition of the 420,000 IDPs as citizens of Israel would increase the Arab population to 25% of the total Israel population and it would reduce the Jewish population percentage to 70.7%. That is not "no change in Israel's demographics" as the Arabs proposing it argue. And, there must also be the fear in Israel that if the Israel government agrees this Palestinian demand, more demands will follow until all Palestinians are admitted to Israel and the "Jewish" state concept on which Israel was founded would cease to exist. And, Israel could have no assurance that Hamas terrorists were not part of those admitted, raisng above all the spectre of an Israel with many Iran-led Hamas terrorist acts to come. • • • WHERE CAN PEACE COME FROM? NOT FROM THE MEDIA. LifeZette / PoliZette's Kqathyrn Blackhurst wrote on Tuesday that : "The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other outlets rip Trump family and Israeli troops for deaths of violent protesters in Gaza. When the US embassy opened Monday in Jerusalem, President Donald Trump heralded it as the fulfillment of his campaign promise to recognize the eternal city officially as Israel’s capital. But that’s not at all how many members of the mainstream media viewed the event. Deadly protests across the Israel-Gaza border that left dozens of Palestinians dead and more than 2,000 injured marred the day. Many of the protesters were violent and threw rocks and incendiary devices across the border. Many shouted, “Death to Israel” and brought knives and fence-cutting tools to breach the border..." The BBC reported that “at least 24 terrorists with documented terror background” were killed by Israeli fire. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that “every country has an obligation to defend its borders.” • Blackhurst noted that : "The violence continued Tuesday as clashes between protesters and Israeli troops recurred. Protestors hurled stones and burning objects at the troops, while the troops used tear gas. But many mainstream media members instead chose to focus on and condemn the protesters’ deaths at the hands of Israeli troops while bashing Trump’s decision to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem -- a city that both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capitals. Curtis Houck, the Media Research Center's (MRC) managing editor, told LifeZette Tuesday : "The liberal media have consistently shown that they're anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian, and Monday just marked the latest chapter. Yesterday alone, there was an MSNBC guest who argued that 'all of those babies are dead' [referring to Palestinians] because of the Jewish people and White House reporters' demanding that Israel show 'restraint.' NBC's Peter Alexander even wondered if Israelis had the approval to 'just kill at will' -- suggesting that Israeli forces were emotionless 'killing machines.' Reporters bombarded White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah with questions heavily skewed toward protestors and against Israel during Monday's press briefing. One reporter asked if the U.S. would be "calling on Israel to use restraint in dealing with these protests" and wondered if "there's no burden on Israel to do something to, sort of, rein it in." Another reporter asked if "there's no responsibility beyond that on the Israeli authorities," if they are allowed to "kill at will." Another reporter wondered when "was the last time the White House reached out to Palestinian leadership," asking when, "given the high numbers of casualties, Palestinians calling what has happened today a 'massacre,' will the White House be reaching out?" Shah stood his ground, insisting that Trump and his administration officials believe "the responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas. Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response," Shah said, noting that Israel "has the right to defend itself." • The New York Times ran a headline Tuesday declaring, "Israelis Kill Dozens in Gaza." Former GW Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer highlighted the article in a tweet with a picture : "No violence in the West Bank. No violence in Jordan. No protests in the Arab Street. Only Hamas. Only a terrorist group that urged its militants to attack Israel. Terrorists who refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist. And this is how the NYT covers it. Shame." • The Washington Post published a piece Tuesday with the headline, "Israelis kill more than 50 Palestinians in Gaza protests, health officials say." The piece citied only Palestinian health officials. "Israeli forces killed 58 Palestinians at the boundary fence with Gaza on Monday, local health officials said, a level of bloodshed not seen since the most violent days of Israel's 2014 war in the territory," the piece read. "Tens of thousands of Palestinians had gathered on the edges of the fenced-off and blockaded territory from midmorning. Many came to peacefully demonstrate, bringing their children and carrying flags. Food stalls sold snacks and music blared," the Post said. • The New York Daily News ran a picture of Trump's daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, attending the embassy's opening ceremony with the headline, "Daddy's Little Ghoul." The publication ripped Ivanka Trump for being "all smiles" while dozens were killed in Gaza and made it appear [using a fake composite photo] that she was pointing at a picture of a bloodied child while smiling. • MRC's Houck noted that CBS Evening News proclaimed Monday "that the Palestinians were 'dancing with death' and put their hardships squarely on Israel." The MRC has documented the media's pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli bias meticulously. Houch said : "Dating back to the 2014 Israel-Gaza war and years prior to that, the liberal media have a shameless penchant for drawing a moral equivalency between the Israelis and Palestinians, and this week is just the latest example." • US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley got it right when she said Tuesday during a Security Council meeting that "those who suggest the Gaza violence has anything to do with the location of the American embassy are sorely mistaken. Rather, the violence comes from those who reject the existence of the State of Israel in any location. Who among us would accept this type of activity on your border?" • • • HAMAS USES JERUSALEM AS AN EXCUSE TO ATTACK ISRAEL. BUT, Jerusalem offers an undeniably potent symbol for both Israel and the Palestinian Hamas. • Quora -- a reputable question-and-answer site where questions are asked, answered, edited, and organized by its community of users -- offered an explanation in an article published on November 10, 2016 titled "Does the Quran say that the land of Israel is for the Jews?" Quora wrote that answers offered to Quora by followers of Islam whowed that they believe the Quran did not say that Israel was given to the Jews. But, the intellectual and religious leaders of Islam gave a different response. THeir general answer is that the Quran teaches the lands belong to Israel, BUT only until the end of days, when God will bring the Children of Israel to retake possession of the Land, gathering them from the different countries and nations (Sura 17:104). So, says Quora, the Quran explicitly refers to the return of the Jews to the Land of Israel before the Last Judgment, confirming the Biblical promise. Although the Jews are severely criticized in the works of Moslem apologists and theologians, there are no grounds in religious law to believe that God's promise to the Children of Israel has been broken, and none to support the view that Israel is now the property of the Moslems. • Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi -- born 1943 in India -- is an American Moslem writer who is the current President of the Academy of Judaic-Christian and Islamic Studies at the University of California in Los Angeles. While Dr. Siddiqi is a controversial figure, having alleged connections to the Moslem Brotherhood and other extremist Islamic jihadist organizations, he heads the largest and one of the oldest Moslem organizations in the United States. Dr. Siddiqi says the city of Jerusalem is very sacred to Moslems : "It is one of the three most sacred cities in Islam. Jerusalem is called al-Quds al-Sharif (the Noble Sacred Place)....Islam recognizes all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah. The Quran has mentioned many Prophets by name. Their stories and teachings are told at varying length throughout the Quran. Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Zechariah, John the Baptist (Yahya) and Jesus - peace be upon them all - are among the honored Prophets and Messengers of Allah according to Islam. Jews and Christians also recognize Prophets David and Solomon as great kings and patriarchs of ancient Israel....Since the city of Jerusalem is historically associated with these Prophets of Allah, it naturally becomes a city sacred to Moslems. Islam considers itself a continuation of the same spiritual and ethical movement that began with the earlier Prophets. Historically and theologically it believes itself to be the true inheritor of the earlier traditions of the Prophets and Messengers of Allah....The sacredness of the city of Jerusalem, according to Islam, is in its historical religious reality. This is the city that witnessed the life and works of the greatest Prophets and Messengers of Allah. Here the Divine Grace touched the earth repeatedly. Allah's great Prophets and Messengers lived and moved in its valleys and its streets. Makkah [Mecca] and Madinah [Medina] are blessed cities in Islam because of their association with the Prophets Abraham, Ishmael and Mohammed. In a similar way Jerusalem is blessed and important in Islam because of its association with other Prophets of Allah, namely David, Solomon and Jesus....Due to its theological and religious status, Jerusalem had a very important place in the life of the Prophet Mohammad himself. In the year 620 almost one-and-a-half years before his Hijra (migration) from Makkah to Madinah the famous event of Isra and Miraj (Night Journey and Ascension) occurred. One night, in a miraculous way, the Prophet was taken on a momentous journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and then from there to the heavenly celestial abodes. The Night Journey was a great miracle that Moslems believe was given to Prophet Mohammad as an honor and as a confirmation of Makkah's spiritual link with Jerusalem. Both of these events took place on the same night. The angel Gabriel took the Prophet from Makkah to Jerusalem. There it is reported that the Prophet stood at the Sacred Rock (al-Sakhrah al-Musharrafah), went to the heavens, returned to Jerusalem and met with many Prophets and Messengers who were gathered together for him on that occasion and he led them in prayers. After these experiences, the Prophet was taken back to Makkah. The story of Isra and Miraj is full of wonderful signs and symbols. Moslem thinkers, mystics and poets have interpreted it in deep an meaningful ways. There is, however, one essential point and that is it serves as an example of every Moslem's deep devotion and spiritual connection with Jerusalem." • In fact, Dr. Siddiqi says : "It is significant to note that he [the Prophet] made Jerusalem the direction (al-Qiblah) which Moslems must face while doing their prayers. Jerusalem is thus called Ula al-Qiblatain (the First Qiblah). The Prophet and the early community of Islam worshipped towards the direction of Jerusalem during their stay in Makkah. After the Hijra (migration), Moslems in Madinah also continued to pray facing Jerusalem for almost seventeen months. Then came Allah's command to change the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to Makkah (2:142 - 150)."....Jerusalem was always held in great esteem by Moslems. The Prophet said, 'Journeys should not be taken (with the intention of worship) except to three mosques: the Sacred Mosque in Makkah, my Mosque in Madinah and Masjid al-Aqsa in Jerusalem.' " NOTE : This was a talk presented at the first meeting of American Moslems for Jerusalem (AMJ) in Washington, DC on April 17, 1999. • • • THE JEWISH HISTORY OF JERUSALEM. It has been said that to understand the history of Israel, you must understand the history of Jerusalem -- and that history is told by the Walls of Jerusalem. • Scholars believe the first human settlements in Jerusalem took place during the Early Bronze Age-- somewhere around 3500 BC. Jerusalem is a city that has been fought over sixteen times in its history -- it was destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. According to Jewish tradition, the city was founded by Shem and Eber, ancestors of Abraham. In the biblical account, when first mentioned, Jerusalem ("Salem") is ruled by Melchizedek ("Shem"), an ally of Abraham. According to the Bible, the Israelite history of the city began in about 1000 BC, with King David's sack of Jerusalem, following which Jerusalem became the City of David and capital of the United Kingdom of Israel. King David's son, Solomon, built the first holy Temple about 40 years later, expanding the city north to include the hill called the Temple Mount, where he would build the First Temple. . In Hezekiah’s day, Assyria invaded the north and Hebrew refugees flooded the city. The walls of Jerusalem expanded to the west, quadrupling the city in size. In the period from 931 BC - 586 BC, King Hezekiah built a wall around the western hill of the city (2 Chronicles 32:5). A portion of this “broad wall” still stands in today’s Jewish Quarter. In 589 BC, Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Jerusalem, culminating in the destruction of the city and its temple in the summer of 587 or 586 BC. According to the Bible, Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II plundered and burned the temple in the 6th century BC. Among the many treasures lost to history was the Ark of the Covenant, an ornate, gold-plated chest that was originally built to hold the tablets containing the Ten Commandments. The Jews were taken captive or dispersed at that time. Then, in the 20th year of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, (445/444 BC), Nehemiah was cup-bearer to the king. Learning that the remnant of Jews in Judah were in distress and that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, he asked the king for permission to return and rebuild the city. Nehemiah rebuilt the walls, from the Sheep Gate in the North, the Hananeel Tower at the North West corner, the Fish Gate in the West, the Furnaces Tower at the Temple Mount's South West corner, the Dung Gate in the South, the East Gate and the gate beneath the Golden Gate in the East. In the City of David, archaeologists have found remnants of Nehemiah’s reconstruction. Under the Maccabees -- 134 BC - 76 BC -- powerful Hasmonean kings added to the walls of Jerusalem, spreading them west again, and north. These are the eastern and western wall boundaries of today’s Old City. The Old City Wall’s western perimeter, south of the modern Jaffa Gate, sits today on top of where the walls expanded in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. In Jesus' time -- 76 BC - AD 33 -- the walls were the same walls the Hasmoneans expanded. The modern Citadel marks the western limit of Jerusalem in the time of Jesus. Pontius Pilate’s Praetorium was in this spot, and from here he likely tried and condemned Jesus. Jerusalem expanded tothe north from 37 AD to 70 AD, and Herod Agrippa I laid the foundation for an expansion of the walls of Jerusalem to the north, completed during the First Revolt. The line of the 1st-century northern wall was north of the Old City’s wall of today. In the period 70 AD - 299 AD, Titus leveled the walls of Jerusalem after burning the Temple and homes of the city. He left the wall in the south for his troops. Hadrian renamed the city, “Aelia Capitolina,” and built pagan temples over the sites of Jesus’ resurrection and of the Temple Mount. Titus left “only the loftiest of the towers, Phasael, Hippicus, and Mariamne, and the portion of the wall enclosing the city on the west” (Josephus, War 7:1-2). Many believe the tower still standing today in the Citadel is Phasael’s. From 299 AD - 313 AD, after the Roman Legion departed near the end of the third century, a wall was constructed that roughly measured the dimension of the modern city walls. The of 3rd-century lines lay in similar places to today’s Old City Walls. From 313 AD - 637 AD, Constantine’s favor upon Christianity expanded Jerusalem to accommodate the flood of pilgrims who came to see sites associated with Jesus. During this time, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was constructed. But, in April 637 AD, Caliph Umar traveled to Jerusalem in person to receive the submission of the city. The Patriarch thus surrendered to him. The Moslem conquest of the city solidified the Arab control over Palestine, which would not again be threatened until the First Crusade in the late 11th century. The population steadily decreased until Moslem rulers abandoned the southern part of the city. The Crusaders conquered the city and reclaimed and rebuilt many Holy Sites. The Moslems built the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount, over the site of the previous two Hebrew Temples. Under the Crusaders, the Dome of the Rock became a church with a cross on top. The walls we see today were built by Suliman the Magnificent about 1537. After officials refused to enclose the Western Hill, Suliman had his architects executed. • • • DEAR READERS, we can see how different are the histories told by Jews and Moslems about the ownership of Jerusalem. • The battle today between Hamas / Iran and Israel to control Jerusalem and all of Israel is the latest in 3000 years of Jewish habitation of Jerusalem and the Old Testament Canaan, today's Israel. While the Israelis are willing to give Moslems access to Jerusalem, they insist on the historical fact that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jews from its inception. • I watched a film, "To Die in Jerusalem," this week on the Israeli i24 French TV network. It's a 2008 documentary about a Gaza girl who blows herself up at the entry to a Jerusalem supermarket in 2002. The only victim besides the suicide bomber was a Jewish schoolgirl. Both bomber and victim were 17 years old. They bear such a remarkable physical resemblance to each other that they could be sisters. The film traces the agony endured by the Jewish mother of the victim, Rachel, and her finally being able to talk to the traumatized mother of the suicide bomber, Ayat. You can stream the film for $4 at the Israeli Film Center < >. You can watch the trailer for the film there or on You Tube at < >. Both trailers are free. There are websites that say you can watch the film without charge, but I'm not sure that's legal. Don't expect a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian problem. There is none. The sides are cast in what seems to be indestructible concrete, although the Jewish mother tries to get the Palestinian mother to join her in a mothers' effort to demand peace. The Palestinian mother explains why this is impossible with chillingly heartfelt words that will make you understand why Gaza is hopelessly kowed under the fist of Hamas. It is as close to trying to make sense of what is now happening as anything I have seen this week when the Gaza border exploded. • Isaiah 62:6-12 talks of the Walls of Jerusalem in words that will remind you of President Kennedy's speech about Americans being "the watchmen on the walls of world freedom." JFK never gave the speech because he was assassinated hours before he was due to give it in Dallas. In his never-to-be-delivered speech about freedom and its responsibilities, President Kennedy would have said : "In this administration also it has been necessary at times to issue specific warnings — warnings that we could not stand by and watch the Communists conquer Laos by force, or intervene in the Congo, or swallow West Berlin, or maintain offensive missiles on Cuba. But while our goals were at least temporarily obtained in these and other instances, our successful defense of freedom was not due to the words we used, but to the strength we stood ready to use on behalf of the principles we stand ready to defend....We, in this country, in this generation, are -- by destiny rather than by choice -- the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of 'peace on earth, good will toward men.' That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago : 'except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.' ” President Kennedy's words are hauntingly pertinent today. • Isaiah 62:6-12 talks about Jerusalem in universal, prophetic terms : "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night : ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. The Lord hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast labored : But they that have gathered it shall eat it, and praise the Lord; and they that have brought it together shall drink it in the courts of my holiness. Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken." • Pray and hope with me as we all struggle to fit our times into a sweeping and profound part of human history. • Shalom aleykhem...Salaam aleykum...pax vobis...peace be with you. Peace be with us.

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