It was suggested by my rabbi yesterday that in a way silence is sometimes the most appropriate response to the Holocaust, because human words are inadequate to grapple with the horror of that time. Thus the title of this posting:
Tonight and Monday are Holocaust Memorial Day. (In Hebrew it’s Yom HaZikaron leShoah v’leGvurah — Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and of the Heroism — and this year especially Yad V’Shem will be focusing on the Resistance).
But in fact, even in the face of the pain, the horror, we need words, if people are to know what went on (never, to understand it).
And if we are to say “Never Again!” and mean it. It was Rabbi Sacks, whose talk I shared recently, who said, that today, “‘Never again’ is beginning to sound like ‘always again.'”
Those living in the New York City area, please take note:
Today at noon, there will be a Holocaust Memorial event in front of the Iranian UN Mission, 622 Third Avenue (at E. 4th Street) Manhattan.
This past week, the New York-based Israel Policy Forum — which “promotes active U.S. engagement to achieve a two-state solution” — sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, signed by 100 “prominent” Americans, urging him to:
“work closely with Secretary of State John Kerry to devise pragmatic initiatives, consistent with Israel’s security needs, which would represent Israel’s readiness to make painful territorial sacrifices for the sake of peace.”
Unmitigated gall is what this is. “Painful territorial sacrifices for the sake of peace”? In the first place, such territorial sacrifices, as they so elegantly put it, would not bring peace, but rather put all Israelis at risk, AND engender the loss of what is rightfully our heritage. But in any event, it is not the place of Americans to call for Israelis to make “painful sacrifices.”
And they want our prime minister — who has called for the only thing that remotely makes sense: negotiations without pre-conditions — to start by giving Abbas something to bring him to the table. This is the same Mahmoud Abbas who has just engendered major riots of Arabs against Israel by making libelous charges against Israel.
In order to respond to this, dear readers, I ask your cooperation. This is a bit more complicated than what I usually ask, but the situation requires it: I am looking for the participation of other “prominent” Americans who are offended by what this letter says and want to see Netanyahu stand strong against Kerry’s inevitable demands.
If you are a “prominent” American — a rabbi, a philanthropist, an academic, a doctor, a writer, a major executive of a Jewish NGO or a corporation, etc. — I ask you to write to Prime Minister Netanyahu and tell him that you have learned of the Israel Policy Forum letter and are deeply offended by it. Tell him you are also a prominent American — state your position — and implore him to stand strong and not make concessions. Please don’t copy these words exactly — put this sentiment in your own words. Keep it short and direct.
If you know “prominent” Americans — the more prominent the better — and believe they might participate, please enlist their assistance.
And, dear readers, if you are not “prominent,” do not for a moment imagine that you are any less valued. It is simply that the nonsense of the Israel Security Policy letter must be countered in kind.
You can see the letter and the signatures here:
The Emergency Israel Committee, founded by William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, has sent its own letter to PM Netanyahu, asking him to ignore the advice of the Israel Security Policy letter.
Now I want to renew my request for prayers for little Zakkai, who has had surgery four times in his two years of life, because of tumors on and around the spine. His last surgery went well, and I thought that, while he needed physical therapy, he was in the clear. This turns out to not be the case, as his parents write:
“Zakkai is scheduled for his next MRI scans on Friday, May 31. If microscopic cells (note: this is not a malignancy but a rare benign yet very invasive tumor) were left behind, they could begin to rear their ugly head by then, which would most likely mean another intervention. And, even if the scans show nothing, we’re nowhere near in the clear. …slow-growing tumors…recur over a much longer period of time (3-5 years…). To nip any tumor problems in the bud, Zakkai will be watched very closely – he’ll be MRI scanned every 3 months or so for the next few years. He will also be going to physical therapy 1-2 times a week for many years to strengthen his core in order to slow or even reverse abnormal curvature of his spine.
“…we are guardedly optimistic – we hope and pray that things will get better but fear that they won’t.”
And so, please, keep praying for this little boy: Rephael Zakkai Avraham ben Yakira Avigael
Well, the talks with Iran have been called a failure. What a surprise. The “cautiously optimistic” Catherine Ashton, yesterday said, “The two sides remain far apart on substance.”
A senior US official, who spoke anonymously, pointed to what he intended to be the bright side: “There was no breakthrough but also no breakdown.” Far better had there been a breakdown, so this charade would end. But no, this official says the major powers intend to continue to utilize diplomacy to resolve the issue.
This would be laughable if it were not so serious. As it is, we should be weeping.
For his part, Iran’s chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, said that Iran had proposed a plan (which, says the NYTimes, is not anything new) and now it was up to the powers to demonstrate a willingness to offer confidence-building measures.
What is this, with these “confidence building measures”? Yes, weep.
Jalili is speaking about “the inalienable rights” (another buzz term) of Iran to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.
The question hanging in the air is whether the crisis with North Korea is going to affect what’s going on here. On the one hand, the Iranians have the North Koreans as a role model. They’re watching closely and see that North Korea beat sanctions and skirted past dialogue to achieve their nuclear weapon. It gives them “hope,” as they proceed — motivates them to hang in there for the final goal.
On the other, it just might, and this is a very tentative “might,” dawn on Obama at last that this is where he’s headed with Iran as well. Surely the threats from a petty Korean tyrant with weapons he should not possess have been unsettling. But so far there’s no evidence that Obama is extrapolating from Korea to Iran. He still seems more unsettled by the prospect of having to hit Iran militarily than by a nuclear Iran.
That he’s willing to risk the same behavior from another quarter is a frightening prospect.
According to Israel National News, the White House will be hosting leaders from Arab states that are considered US allies — Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — in the coming weeks, in order to discuss issues of shared concern.
First will be King Abdullah of Jordan, on the 26th of this month, followed by Erdogan of Turkey next month.
It should be noted that King Abdullah and putative PA president Mahmoud Abbas last week signed an agreement in Amman to stop the “Judaization” of Jerusalem. (My readers know what a joke I consider this to be: Jerusalem IS Jewish.)
What was interesting here is that Jordan was recognized as the authority that would head the Wakf, the Islamic trust, that oversees Muslim territory. This gives Jordan and not the PA authority for administering and “protecting” Islamic sites such as the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. De facto this has been the case for a while — and I have no doubt but that it was Jordan to which Netanyahu accorded deference last year when he declined to rebuild the Mughrabi bridge to the Mount after Abdullah objected.
And it was certainly the case before Oslo.
But over the last 20 years there have been struggles between the two, with regard to which Wakf is official. There are undoubtedly implications here, that Abbas has surrendered the PA’s right to be in charge.
Please note that during March, Netanyahu had gone very quietly to Amman for a meeting with the king. At that time Abdullah spoke about his “very strong” relationship with Netanyahu: “Our discussions have really improved.” He indicated that Netanyahu would have to choose between “apartheid and democracy,” but thought it might be “too late” for a “two state solution.” An interesting — non-politically correct– position as well.
Abdullah, it should be noted, has Islamists breathing down his neck, and this must be remembered as his various positions are considered.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
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