לקראת מנדט בין לאומי חדש לקידום השלום בין ישראל לארצות ערב וערביי ארץ ישראל

לקראת מנדט בין לאומי חדש לקידום השלום בין ישראל לארצות ערב וערביי ארץ ישראל
מ. אלחיאני © 2016

לאחר מלחמת העולם הראשונה, פורקו איפריות באירופה והמזרח התיכון והוקמו מדינות לאום רבות לפי סדר עולמי חדש על פי שני חוזים בין לאומיים בסן רימו וכן ורסאי.
עמים רבים קיבלו זכויות לאומיות לפי אותם חוזים ביניהם עמים ערביים ומוסלמיים.
ליהודים הוקצו שטחי ארץ ישראל המנדטורית על פי אותם חוזים בין לאומיים כמו לעמים אחרים.
בשל התחייבויות ואינטרסים של הבריטים, נגזרו שטחים ממזרח לירדן והוקצו להקמת ממלכת ירדן על חשבון שטחי ארץ ישראל שהוקצו ליהודים.
נציגי היהודים הסכימו לוותר על השטחים ממזרח לירדן בתנאי שמדינת ישראל תוקם בכל השטחים ממערב לירדן. תנאי זה לא כובד ע”י הקהילה הבין לאומית.
בנוסף לזאת, מדינות ערב וערבים תושבי השטחים של ישראל המנדטורית הביעו התנגדות אלימה להקמת מדינה יהודית בניגוד להבנות הסדר העולמי החדש ובניגוד לחוזים הבין לאומיים בסן רימו וכן ורסאי.
התנגדות הערבים הובילה למאבק מזוין שלא נפסק עד היום וקרוב לודאי לא יפסק מיוזמתם של ערבים בשכנות ישראל.
ליהודים אם כן יש זכות להקים מדינה על פי הבנות הסדר העולמי החדש על פי החוזים הבין לאומיים בסן רימו וכן ורסאי וכן להגן עליה מפני כל מתנגדיה.
ליהודים יש זכות לשוב למולדתם ההיסטורית מטעמי מוסר כללי והגינות בין לאומית.
יחד עם זאת, עם ישראל מוכנה לקדם שלום בינה לבין שכניה, כולל תושבים ערבים בישראל ובשטחי הגדה המערבית ועזה מטעמי מוסר כללי והגינות בין לאומית.
ישראל חתמה הסכמי שלום עם ירדן ומצרים, והיא נכונה לקדם הסכמים דומים עם עמים אחרים באיזור, כולל תושבים ערבים בישראל ובשטחי הגדה המערבית ועזה.
כיוון שכל מאמצי ישראל לקדם שלום עם עם עמים אחרים באיזור, כולל תושבים ערבים בישראל ובשטחי הגדה המערבית ועזה,
ישראל תשקול בחיוב מסירת שטחים בגולן, בגדה המערבית ועזה לידי ‘מנדט בין לאומי חדש’ בתנאים הבאים:
א. שלא יוקמו בשטחי המנדט הבין לאומי החדש שום צבא, מלבד כוח שיטור שהיקפו יוגדר במשא ומתן,
ב. אם יוקם כוח צבאי כלשהו מעבר לכוח שיטור, לישראל יש זכות להיכנס לאותם שטחים כדי לפרקו,
ג. אם המנדט הבין לאומי יכשל או לא ימלא את ההתחייבויות שניתנו לו ע”י ישראל, לישראל יש זכות להחליפו,
ד. בכל שטחי ‘המנדט הבין לאומי החדש’ יוקמו איזורי סחר בין לאומיים פטורים ממסים לשמש תשתית כלכלית לשיקום תושבי אותם שטחים וכל הפליטים האחרים,
בתנאי שסוכנות ‘אונרה’ תפורק,
ובתנאי שקליטת פליטי יהדות ארצות האיסלם בישראל יחשב כחליפין ומקבילה לקליטת פליטי ארץ ישראל הערבים בארצות אחרות, ובגולן ובשטחי הגדה המערבית ועזה,
ובתנאי שלא יהיו שום תביעות אחרות,
ה. ישראל תשמש כחבר ביישות הבין לאומית שתנהל את ‘המנדט הבין לאומי החדש’ ותסייע בתכנון איזור הסחר הבין לאומי החדש ושיקום התושבים בו,
ו. איזור הסחר הבין לאומי החדש ישמש כאיזור מפורז להבטיח את שלום ישראל, תושביה ושכניה,
ז. איזור הסחר הבין לאומי החדש ישמש גשר לקשרי מסחר בין ישראל לשכנותיה,
ח. ליהודים יהיו זכויות אזרח מלאות שיכללו זכויות לבחור ולהיבחר, קנין ועסקי ניידי ודלא ניידי, בדומה לזכויות הערבים בישראל רבתי.
ט. מעמד דהימה לפי כללי עומר או כללים דומים לא יחולו על יהודים וישראלים בשטחי המנדט הבין לאומי החדש בגולן ובשטחי הגדה המערבית ועזה.

The Shia Revival: How Conflict within Islam will impact Israel

The Shia Revival: How Conflict within Islam will impact Israel

M. Eliany

A review of  Vali Nasr ‘s book: The Shia Revival: How Conflict within Islam will Shape the Future 2006 W.W. Norton & Conpany, N.Y.

Related links below

Convinced of the significance of their sacrifice, thousands of Iranian volunteers swarmed Iraqi positions empty handed, forcing Sadam’s forces to retreat (p.132). This show of faith, together with the rise of the Shia clerics in Iran, mark a Shia revival, which announces unavoidable changes in the balance of power between Sunnis and Shia in Moslem nations, with consequences for Israel, America and Western countries.
Faith and the promise of a place in heaven to martyrs have proven equally important, when Hezbollah’s Shia suicide bombers forced the Israeli army out of Southern Lebanon. It also made Islamic extremism and terrorism more lethal elsewhere (p. 133).
Israel’s delayed withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, hastened the radicalization of the Lebanese Shia, leading to the crystallization of Hezbollah as a powerful force, not only to discourage long term Israeli occupation but also to change the balance of power in Lebanon to the favor of the Shias. Hamas adopted a similar strategy in Gaza subsequently (p.142).
Hezbollah’s success opened the door for Iranian influence in Lebanon, as well as, in the region, by creating an alliance, which includes the Shia in Iraq and Lebanon, and the Allaouis in Syria (p.143).
In the beginning, the Shia revival wore a cultural and religious character (p.170), but soon it translated into a powerful political resurgence with transnational ties (p.171). Shias from Lebanon to Iraq, the Gulf, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as, Saudi Arabia and Yemen sought to use this power to advance communal interests (p.173). Interestingly, the most influential leader of this political resurgence is not Iran’s Khomeini or other radical ayatollahs, but the quiet Sistani, who stood for non-sectarian violence and democratic values (p.178). It shows that the Shia revival is not associated with a single form of government and that Shias can be more demanding anywhere they live and get results without being excessive (p.179). Amal and Hezbollah, for example, demonstrated they can rely on their political weight to gain a strong voice in the Lebanese parliament and possibly gain power at the expense of Christians and Sunnis (p.232). In Bahrain, Shia youth followed Sistani’s call for ‘one man one vote,’ to demand full-fledged democracy (p.235). These experiences disposed Shias to debate Islam’s relations with modernity, democracy and economic development. This debate is of essence and consequences on the nature of the regime even in theocratic Iran (p.180, 183-184). The same is not observed in Sunni countries, where fundamentalism is growing.
The Shia revival is pluralistic and far from being subject to a single authority. It rests on the empowered Shias of Iraq, Iran’s rise as a regional power, and the empowerment of Shias elsewhere in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Yemen.  It gives the Shias a greater influence in Middle East politics. It also creates more balance between Shias and Sunnis in the region (p.184).
The Shia revival, hastened by the destruction of the Taliban and Saddam regimes, courtesy of the Western coalition intervention, weakened the Sunni axis to the east and west of Iran and bolstered Iran’s regional influence. This is tied to Iran’s nuclear ambition to maintain its regional role, bridge between Shias in the region, as well as, contain Sunni pressure (p. 222). The more Shia influence in the region, the more secure Iran and other Shias feel (p.225).
The Shia revival produced Sunni hostilities. Hostilities of the Shia against Sunnis grew in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war and the Saddam persecution of the Shias in Iraq. Although one cannot ignore the existence of Sunni resentment among revolutionary elements of the Iranian regime and other Shias, influencial conservative leaders aim to reduce sectarian tensions between Shias and Sunnis. For this purpose, Iran and other Shias demonstrate hostility towards and Israel and the USA to divert attention from sectarian divisions (p.226). After forcing an Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, Lebanese Shia embraced Lebanese nationalism, defining themselves as the defenders of Lebanon, Palestinian rights, as well as other Arab causes, such as the occupation of Iraq (p.233). Elsewhere, Shias anchor their interests in respective national identities (p.234).
Sunni extremism has been on the rise for at least a decade prior to the intervention of the Western Alliance in Afghanistan and Iraq, in all likelihood due to the spread of Wahhabism and Salafism, which produced jihadi activists of the Al-Qaeda brand. The intervention of the Western Alliance in Afghanistan and Iraq only provided venues to Al Qaeda and extremists like Zarqawi, to turn local sectarian conflicts into a regional one, and undermine American and Shia interests (p. 243). Sunni extremis is supported by Wahhabi fatwas, which declare Shiism as heresy and considers it as dangerous as Christianism and Judaism (p.246). Paradoxically, this extremism may prove harmful to the Saudi regime, which supports Wahhabism, as it is perceived as an ally of the Americans and complicit to the Shia revival. Down the road, extremists may move out of Iraq, to threaten not only the Saudi regime, but also Jordan and Israel’s occupied territories (p.247, 249). These developments indicate that intervention of the Western Alliance cannot shape the future to its liking and that it may also precipitate unforeseen conflicts (p.250).
Similarly, the Shia revival poses challenges to Sunni extremism and Wahhabism and as a consequence, a sectarian conflict of which the Western Alliance cannot shape or contain (p.251-252). Extremism may thrive during a transition period, with consequences in and outside the region. Sectarian conflicts have been part of the Middle East for centuries. A new balance will have to be reached between the feuding parties to reflect the rise of the Shia. Historical domination by Sunnis and dictatorship may not provide satisfactory solutions, while democracy and pluralism may provide a more promising peaceful new balance. Otherwise, as long as sectarian conflict hangs over the Middle East, its future will not be brighter than its past (p.254).
Implications for Israel Israel’s policies have been led by the military establishment for many years. This elite, whether in military or civilian clothes, tends to rely on force to resolve conflicts with neighbors, while lacking the insight that forceful solutions breed extremism with unforeseen consequences. Israel must avoid entwining itself in regional sectarian conflicts, as well as, recognize that the rise of the Shia may bring a new balance to the Middle East. Such development, if democratic and pluralistic, and characterized by a fair distribution of resources, may be beneficial to Israel, if it too opts for a peaceful solution to conflicts with its neighbors.
Israeli elites have been claiming that the Shia revival, i.e., the alliance between Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, pose a significant threat to Israel’s existence. As a consequence, Israel has been preparing to deal with such a threat with military means. Responding to abuse with abuse is counter-productive. To end this destructive cycle, Israel must avoid the use of force, unless it is absolutely necessary for self defense, while making every effort to maintain open channels of communication with Shias and Sunnis alike, in an effort to enhance peace prospects, as well as, a more democratic and pluralistic Middle East, characterized by a fair distribution of resources. Israel must also distinguish between real and mute threats, as feuding parties in the Middle East tend to demonstrate hostility towards and Israel (and the USA), only to divert attention from sectarian divisions. In other words, Israel must look for creative peaceful alternatives to the use of force to resolve problems with neighbors. Such alternatives lie in a vision of a more balanced democratic and pluralistic Middle East, characterized by a fair distribution of resources.

Views of  Islam – in video
Les cartes de l Islam. An intelligent presentation in French. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSuKh-WmLPs&feature=youtu.be
The spread of Islam through fertility. Interesting. Very realisitic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_16uxgByVE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=micPOsUf-Yo&feature=related

La Palestine, Israel et l’Injustice


JOURDE Pierre est romancier (“Paradis noir” sortira chez Gallimard en février), essayiste (“Littérature monstre” vient de paraitre) critique littéraire (“La littérature sans estomac”) et professeur a l’Université de Grenoble III, du moins tant que quelque chose comme l’Université existe encore.

 Les Palestiniens sont victimes d’une injustice inacceptable. Soit. Depuis soixante ans, sans relâche, les médias du monde entier se focalisent sur ce conflit. On se dit tout de même que la rentabilité de l’ injustice/information est très faible, si l’on ne considère que le rapport entre le nombre de morts et la quantité de papiers et d’images divers sur le monde en général, et les masses arabes en particulier. Même rentabilité faible si l’on prend en compte la quantité de personnes concernées, importante certes, mais moins qu’en d’autres lieux de la planète. Quant aux atrocités commises, n’en parlons pas, une plaisanterie. Au nombre de morts, de refugies, d’horreurs, il y a beaucoup mieux, un peu partout. Remarquons a titre d’apéritif, qu’avec la meilleure volonté du monde, Tsahal aura du mal a exterminer autant de Palestiniens que l’ont fait, les régimes arabes de la région, notamment la Syrie, le Liban et la Jordanie, qui n’en veulent pas, eux non plus, des Palestiniens, et qui ont peu de scrupules humanitaires lorsqu’il s’agit de s’en débarrasser.

Mais Israël est un coupable idéal, non seulement dans nos banlieues, mais en Europe en général. Nous le chargeons de toute notre mauvaise conscience d’anciens colonisateurs. Une poignée de Juifs qui transforme un désert en pays prospère et démocratique, au milieu d’un océan de dictatures arabes sanglantes, de misère, d’islamisme et de corruption, voilà un scandale. Il faut donc bien que cela soit intrinsèquement coupable, sinon ou serait la justice ? L’injustice est avant tout israélienne. Ce n’est même pas un fait, c’est une métaphysique. Cent chrétiens lynchés au Pakistan valent moins, médiatiquement parlant, qu’un mort palestinien. Pourquoi l’injustice commise envers les Palestiniens reçoit-elle vingt fois plus d’écho que celle faite aux Tibétains, aux Tamouls, aux chrétiens du Soudan, aux Indiens du Guatemala, aux Touaregs du Niger, aux Noirs de Mauritanie ? Y a-t-il plus de gens concernés, plus de sang vers?, une culture plus menacée dans son existence ? En fait, ce serait plutôt l’inverse. Que la Papouasie soit envahie par des colons musulmans qui massacrent les Papous et trouvent, en plus, inacceptable de voir les rescapés manger du cochon, voilà qui ne risque pas de remporter un franc succès ? Mantes la Jolie. Que des sales Negres, considérés et nommés comme tels, soient exterminés par des milices arabes au Darfour, les femmes enceintes éventrées, les bébés massacrés, voil? qui ne soulève pas la colère des jeunes des cités. Et c’est dommage : si l’on accorde des circonstances atténuantes ? un jeune Français d’origine maghrébine qui s’en prend a un Juif a cause de la Palestine, alors il serait tout aussi logique de trouver excellent que tous les Maliens, Sénégalais ou Ivoiriens d’origine s’en prennent aux Algériens et aux Tunisiens. Voila qui mettrait vraiment de l’ambiance dans nos banlieues. Le racisme franchement assumé des Saoudiens ou des Emiratis envers les Noirs, les Indiens ou les Philippins, traités comme des esclaves, ne soulève pas la vindicte de la tribu Ka, ni des Noirs de France. La responsabilité directe des Africains dans la traite des Noirs n’induit pas des pogroms de guinéens par les Antillais. Pourquoi seulement Israël ? a moins que la haine d’Israël ne soit que le paravent du bon vieil antisémitisme; mais non, cela n’est pas possible, bien entendu.

  Israël, 20.000 km2, 7 millions d’habitants, dont 5 millions de Juifs, est responsable du malheur des Arabes, de tous les Arabes, qu’ils soient Égyptiens, saoudiens ou français. Israël est l’Injustice même. En le rayant de la face du globe, en massacrant les Juifs, on effacerait l’injustice. C’est bon, de se sentir animé par une juste colère. C’est bon, d’éprouver la joie de frapper et de persécuter pour une juste cause. Voila pourquoi il ne faut pas dire aux “jeunes des cités” que les deux millions d’Arabes israéliens ont le droit de vote, élisent leurs députés librement. Ne leur dites pas qu’Israël soutient financièrement la Palestine. Ne leur dites pas que des milliers de Palestiniens vont se faire soigner dans les hôpitaux israéliens. Ne leur dites pas que l’université hébraïque de Jérusalem est pleine de jeunes musulmanes voilées. Ne leur demandez pas ou sont passés les milliers de Juifs d’Alexandrie. Il en reste trente aujourd’hui. Ne leur demandez pas ce qu’il est advenu de tous les Juifs des pays arabes [proche d un million]. Ne leur demandez pas s’ils ont le droit au retour, eux aussi. Ne leur demandez pas quelle est la société la plus “métissée”, Israël ou la Syrie. Ne leur dites pas que, s’il y a de nombreux pro-palestiniens en Israël, on attend toujours de voir les pro-israéliens dans les pays arabes. Ne leur dites pas que le négationnisme ou l’admiration pour Hitler ne sont pas rares dans les pays arabes ; que, lorsqu’il s’est agi d’illustrer les différentes cultures par leurs grands textes, la bibliothèque d’Alexandrie a choisi d’exposer, pour le judaïsme, le Protocole des Sages de Sion ; que ce ‘faux’ antisémite est largement diffuse dans les pays arabes. Ne leur dites pas que, du point de vue des libertés, de la démocratie et des droits de l’homme, non seulement il vaut mille fois mieux être arabe en Israël que juif dans un pays arabe, mais sans doute même vaut-il mieux être arabe en Israël qu’arabe dans un pays arabe. Ne leur dites pas qu’Alain Soral, du Front national, qu’ils détestent tant, est allé manifester son soutien au Hezbollah, qu’ils admirent si fort. Si on leur enlève la méchanceté d’Israël, que deviendront ceux d’entre eux qui s’en prennent aux feujs, sinon des brutes incultes, bêtement, traditionnellement antisémites ? Il ne faut pas désespérer Montfermeil. Mais après tout, on peut tout de même essayer de leur dire tout cela sans trop de risque. Ils traiteront l’informateur de menteur, d’agent du Mossad, de représentant du lobby sioniste ou de raciste. Ils auront raison. Pourquoi se défaire de la commode figure du Croquemitaine responsable de toute la misère du monde ? Elle evite de s’ interroger sur ses propres insuffisances.

The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal

The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal

M. Eliany ©

Robert McNamara, once said: ‘I can understand why Israel wanted a nuclear bomb [… ] The existence of Israel has been a question mark in history […] (Hersh, 1991, p.109)’ Some Israeli politicians (Ben Gurion, Peres, Dayan) and scientists (the rarely mentioned Bergmann among others) believed Israel must have a nuclear bomb to ensure survival in the Middle East. Opponents such as Pinhas Labon, who stood for the use of available resources to settle new immigrants in the Galilee, instead of building a nuclear bomb, were pushed aside (ibid, p.109, (sometimes ruthlessly as in the case of Vanunu p.195-207). Around 1961, the Kennedy administration proposed to resettle Palestinian refugees, with the blessing of Arab states (ibid, p.113-115). It was estimated that hardly 100,000 refugees would have opted returning to Israel. But, Ben Gurion rejected the proposal (ibid, p.114). Ben Gurion also rejected any American or International inspections of the Dimona ‘enterprise,’ in spite of opponents’ arguments, that a nuclear Israel would necessarily lead to the proliferation of nuclear arms to other Middle East states (ibid, p. 128). Supporters of the nuclear option believed it alone could deter the Arab threat and bring them to accept peace (ibid, p.136-7).
The debate over building a nuclear ‘enterprise,’ had far reaching consequences on the well-being of the Israeli society. There was a lack of public debate on the ‘enterprise’, hence a breach of democratic principles. There was a diversion of resources from society building to reliance on military might, hence, inequities in resources distribution, as well as, increased militaristic tendencies. Moreover, rather than seeking a peaceful political compromise, reliance on military options was over-weighted, besides thwarting civil society building (ibid, p. 136). The debate even led to a split within the labor movement. Paradoxically, the autocratic Ben Gurion, the leading proponent of the nuclear option, launched a new party, calling for a fundamental reform. i.e., that Israel relies on universal rather than particularistic organizing principles, giving more chances to merit and equality of opportunity (ibid, p. 141). But Ben Gurion’s attempt to regain political power to reform Israel failed. His old labor colleagues, Eshkol, Sapir and Golda, maintained the old and inequitable structures, preventing the desired reform, while slowing somewhat ‘enterprise’ activities, without stopping them. Ben Gurion retired to Sde Boker to write his memoirs; but Peres and Dayan did not, and, they saw to it that the ‘enterprise’ is brought to fruition (ibid, p.179-180).
Dayan and Peres, like most of the leading elite had nothing but contempt for the Arabs. [They were convinced ‘they knew better,’ better than anyone else, including the people who gave them the mandate to represent them, thus disregarding democratic principles.] They were confident they could overcome any Arab challenge using conventional weapons. But they also believed going nuclear was necessary to deter the Soviets from supporting coordinated Arab attacks on Israel (ibid, p.220-221)! But the Arabs could not be so easily dismissed. They made significant gains at the Suez and Golan fronts and posed a significant threat to northern Israel during the October 1973 War, forcing Israel to consider its nuclear option, as well as, use it to extract emergency  assistance from the USA (ibid, p.222-223). Israelis considered using the nuclear option during the Gulf War, when Iraq targeted Tel Aviv with scuds.  But the escalation was prevented by American assurances, as well as, increased military and financial assistance (ibid, p.317-319).
Israel’s nuclear arsenal is now an open secret, according to foreign sources. It remains an option of last resort, should Arab nations pose any significant danger to Israel’s existence; yet, it has never been discussed in the Knesset, being held in the hands of a few leaders, who have always believed they knew better than their citizenry, thus undermining Israel’s democracy.
The Samson Option reads like a suspense tale, yet real and enlightening, in that it demonstrates that lack of respect for democratic principles, may lead a few arrogant leaders to robe their nation of lasting security and peace.

Based on The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal S.M. Hersh 1991 Random House, N.Y.

La controverse de la conversion en Israel


AMSALEM Haim

Ancien Député à la Knesset, rabbin, auteur du livre « Les semences d’Israël »

Problème des conversions en Israël
Je voudrais d’abord préciser que mon propos et l’ouvrage que j’ai écris « Zerah Israel » (Les Semences d’Israël) concerne la situation du problème des conversions en Israël. Les autorités rabbiniques et les responsables communautaires d’autres pays sont libres de prendre s’ils le souhaitent, ce qui leur semble adaptable pour les communautés de la Diaspora. Il y’a en effet dans le domaine des conversions en Israël des particularités qui peuvent être différentes de celles des pays en dehors d’Israël. Un exemple tout à fait spécifique est celui du soldat Israélien considéré comme non-juif d’après la « halakha » (loi juive) prêt à se battre pour Israël, à risquer sa vie pour Israël et qui veut se convertir au judaïsme. La procédure de conversion « halakhique » est la même mais le contexte dans lequel elle survient est particulier. L’autorité rabbinique doit respecter les règles de la « halakha » mais doit aussi prendre en compte l’intérêt du peuple d’Israël.

Problème posé par l’immigration en Israël (Aliah) des Juifs de l’ex-URSS (Union des Républiques Soviétiques Socialistes).
On estime en 2007 à 985 000 le nombre d’émigrés de l’ex URSS. La majorité soit 685 000 sont juifs car de mère juive. Les 300 000 restants (30% environ) sont non-Juifs d’après la loi juive et se repartissent ainsi: 11,2% sont de père juif, 5,5% ont un grand-père juif, 8,7% sont des couples dans lequel un des partenaires n’est pas juif et 2,6% sont des enfants de couples ou l’un des partenaires n’est pas juif. Ceux qui disent que « la moitié des juifs de l’ex URSS ne sont pas juifs » non seulement énoncent une contre-vérité mais l’utilisent comme un moyen pour ne pas solutionner le problème. Certes au début de la vague d’immigration d’URSS, il y’avait des non-juifs qui sont arrivés en Israël pour pouvoir quitter la Russie mais ils ne représentent que moins de 1% de cette « aliah » (immigration). Sur les 300 000 immigrés considérés comme non-juifs combien voudraient se convertir aujourd’hui ? Pas beaucoup. En effet, ceux qui ont essayé ont rencontrés des difficultés et constaté que c’était une mission impossible et ont progressivement réalisé l’absence d’intérêt à se convertir car ils ont les mêmes droits et avantages que les autres citoyens Israéliens considérés comme juifs. En plus un événement qui a fait beaucoup de bruit en Israël a été la remise en question des conversions : 2000 conversions d’un certain Rav ont été annulées. Annuler une conversion n’est pas « halakhique » car d’un coup non-seulement la personne concernée n’est plus juive mais ses enfants ne sont plus juifs. Il a fallu rapidement revalider les conversions menacées d’annulation. Ce problème préoccupe le Gouvernement Israélien : voici 400 000 personnes non-juives qui parlent l’hébreu, qui de fait respectent le chabbat et les fêtes juives, mais qui ne sont pas considérés comme juives. En plus ils génèrent chaque année 4 à 5000 enfants aussi considérés comme non-juifs d’après la «halakha ». Aujourd’hui le chiffre réel est supérieur à 400 000 c’est dire l’importance et l’urgence du problème. Un jeune avec un nom juif comme Cohen ou comme Meltzer qui a été maltraité en Russie parce que juif, arrive en Israël où il se voit considéré comme non-juif. Et s’il veut se convertir il rencontre des difficultés car on lui demande de convaincre le Beth Din qu’il pratiquera du jour au lendemain les 613 mitsvots (commandements), ce qui est presque impossible. Par contre, l’engagement sincère de pratiquer ce qu’il a appris est tout à fait suffisant pour accepter la conversion avec l’espoir de le voir progresser dans sa pratique du judaïsme.

Une approche différente
Les difficultés qu’on fait à une femme non-juive qui veut se convertir au judaïsme pour épouser un juif n’est pas mon propos. L’argument de certains pour les justifier est de dire « si on convertit les femmes non-juives que fait on alors des filles juives qui veulent se marier ? ». Par contre l’enfant déjà nait d’un mariage mixte et qui veut devenir juif est victime d’une situation dans laquelle il n’a pas aucune responsabilité. Dans ses vaisseaux coule du « sang juif » et s’il désire se convertir une solution urgente doit être trouvée. Cette catégorie d’enfants nés de couples mixtes ou reliés au peuple juif par un père ou un grand-père juif que j’appelle « Zerah Israel », les semences d’Israël ne date pas d’aujourd’hui. Elle a existé depuis des siècles et les autorités rabbiniques décisionnaires ont établi des jurisprudences (« Poskims » en hébreu). On ne peut ignorer les autorités rabbiniques décisionnaires sépharades du Maroc, d’Algérie, de Tunisie, d’Espagne ou d’ailleurs qui ont bien sur rencontré ce problème et nous relatent la manière dont ils l’ont résolu. Appliquer ces solutions ce n’est pas changer la « halakha », ce n’est pas faciliter la conversion, c’est appliquer tout simplement la « halakha ». Un climat s’est installé après le départ de mon Maitre Rav Obadia Yossef, de son poste de Grand Rabbin d’Israël (« Richone Letzione »), période pendant laquelle on s’est mis à remettre en question les conversions de ceux ou celles qui ne respectaient pas l’ensemble des mitzvot (commandements) mais une partie seulement. L’annulation d’une conversion est contre la « halakha » comme nous l’avons déjà dit. Quatre ans de travail m’ont été nécessaires pour colliger les jurisprudences des autorités religieuses. Rambam (Maimonides) a ouvert une porte jusque là verrouillée. Il nous dit qu’ « il y’a des situations où pour sauvegarder le judaïsme il est obligé de frôler les limites des enseignements de la Torah ». Par exemple, la conversion au judaïsme d’une femme déjà mariée, pose un problème différent de celui d’une femme dont l’intention première est de se marier. Nous devons résoudre le problème des « zerah Israël » avant que le Gouvernement ne s’en saisisse et légalise le mariage civil. Ceci ne serait pas sans conséquence d’ailleurs pour les Juifs de la Diaspora.

Conclusion
En Israël, l’existence d’une population de 370 000 personnes issus de l’immigration de l’ex-URSS et considérée comme non-juive bien que liée par le sang au peuple juif, pose un problème urgent. Ce problème du «zerah Israel» peut être résolu si on applique les lois halakhiques des autorités religieuses décisionnaires car ce problème n’est pas nouveau. La solution de ce problème est cruciale pour Israël car on ne peut laisser cette population en complète mixité avec la population juive, en état d’errance. Les lois « halakhiques » permettant de le solutionner ont été rassemblées dans mon livre et ceux des autorités rabbiniques de la diaspora qui voudraient les consulter et s’en inspirer sont les bienvenus.
Résumée par Samuel Lévy

The Moroccan Connection

The secret ties between Israel and Morocco
Samuel Segev
Matar Books, Tel Aviv 2008 (Hebrew)

89 New Shekels, 255 pages
www.matarbooks.co.il

Reviewed by M. Eliany ©

Segev, a Middle East specialist, with privileged access to secret institutional information, describes in his book: ‘The Moroccan Connection:
The secret ties between Israel and Morocco,’ how Morocco played an important role in Israeli-Arab relations in its attempt to bring about peace in the Middle East.

Segev attributes the special relations between Israel and Morocco to historical affinities between Moroccan Jews and their Arabs neighbours. Jews lived in North Africa since Biblical time. Although they experienced occasional hardship, they established good relations with Arab and Berber neighbours as well as with Moroccan Kings, played a significant role in promoting Moroccan interests in the world and made Israeli – Moroccan relations possible. King Hassan understood the Arab world well, stood for the principle of ‘two states for two nations’ and laboured to promote an Israeli Palestinian peace treaty, believing that without it, extremism would rise and endanger moderate regimes in Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. He brought together Egypt and Israel to negotiate and sign a peace treaty. Moroccan kings fostered close relations with Israel and Moroccan and World Jewry and drew benefits from them in areas such as tourism, economic and technological cooperation, international lobbying as well as secret services and military assistance.

Segev points out that Moroccan Jewry was not subject to any significant threats and that it chose to immigrate to independent Israel due to a long standing tradition of Alyia to the Holy Land, way before the establishment of Modern Israel. Only 6% of Moroccan Jewry lived in rural outskirts, while and the rest lived in urban settings. Most Moroccan Jews belonged to the working and middle class, about 10% were considered wealthy and 5% were very wealthy. A relatively small portion of the Jewish population was subject to poverty, but those exposed to it, retained pride in modesty. Most communities were well organized, members were exposed to Hebrew and French education, were in good health and were suitable for immigration to Israel, but were subject to ‘selective’ admission. Selective immigration rules remained in place, although increasing Arab pressures for independence posed risks to Jews. Moroccan kings called upon Jews to remain in Morocco to contribute to its development, but Moroccan Jewry was divided between its desire to immigrate to Israel and the potential for integration in independent and liberal Morocco. The Jewish Congress, The American Joint as well as some Israeli parties believed in the potential for Moroccan Jewry to do well in Morocco, but Israeli authorities prepared the infrastructure for massive immigration in case of need. Regardless of World Jewry and Israeli plans, most Moroccan Jews opted for immigration to Israel, in spite of risks associated with it and absorption difficulties at destination.

Moroccan authorities did not encourage Jews to leave Morocco due to ‘Pan-Arab’ reasoning, but also because Jews made a significant contribution to the national economy and international relations. Mohamed the Fifth, Morocco’s king, expressed his opinion on Moroccan Jewry immigration in the following: ‘Jews lived in this blessed land for thousands of years. They came here before Moslems did. They thrived amongst us in peace. They hold important position in our society. They are an integral part of our people. Why would they live, now that Morocco has gained independence?… I understand they are settled in the outskirts of your country in difficult conditions. Moroccan Jews feel ‘strangers’ in your country… they are subject to suffering there while they could live in comfort here…’

As Moroccan Jewry demonstrated bravery during the Sinai War and encounters of Mossad representative with Jews in Morocco convinced Israeli authorities of their courage and devotion to Israel, an underground organization was set up to facilitate licit and illicit immigration. Many actors were devoted local Jews, who were volunteers, as very few received any material benefits. Priority was given to emigration from remote villages. Licit departures, using legal and forged documents took place by air and sea from Casablanca, Tangiers, Melilia and Ceuta. Illicit routes took place by land and sea, via Melilia and Ceuta, to Spain and Gibraltar, with the collaboration of Spain and England. Between September 1961 and July 1963, about 76,000 Jews left Morocco under the sponsorship of International Jewish organizations, using ‘group exit visas’ in what became known as ‘Operation Yacin.’ Thus, the remaining 200,000 Jews left Morocco through risky illicit routes. A detailed description of the drowning of ‘Egoz,’ one of the boats used to transport Jews out of Morocco to safer grounds in Melilia, Ceuta, Gibraltar, Marseille, en route to Israel, provides an illustration of the untold tales of bravery associated with this immigration. Unfortunately, Mossad leadership did not seek to identify parties responsible for the tragic death of 43 immigrants, an Israeli communication officer of Moroccan decent as well as several Spanish sailors, although it became evident that the boat in question was not suitable for the purpose it was used and safety measures were ignored. Segev also recounts efforts made to bring the bones of 22 of the Egoz victims for burial in Israel. Moroccan authorities indicated early on the willingness to deliver the victims’ bones to the Jewish Community in Morocco and through them to the Israeli Rabbinate. Israeli authorities, however, intended to use the burial to gain political rewards, ignoring Moroccan sensitivities, causing unnecessary delays in the bones’ transfer as well as bringing much pain to victims’ relatives.

Segev book is a good read. It contains important historical lessons, not mentioned but left to readers’ judgement. Thus, Segev does not mention the fact that even after the tragic drowning of Egoz, many Jews left Morocco on small ‘Egoz-like’ vessels, on which safety measures remained absent, (this reviewer is one of them). Further, Segev neglected to point out Israeli authorities refusal to acknowledge the Egoz tragedy or even compensate the family of the Israeli communication officer of Moroccan decent (Zarfaty) in spite of repeated efforts of Legal Aid and Knesset member Tamir. Moreover, the tale of the Moroccan Connection points to the failure of Israeli authorities to acknowledge the potential of Moroccan Jewry to make a significant contribution to Israeli society, as well as, to bringing about peace. Unfortunately, Israeli leaders failed to take King Hassan’s advice: i.e., to adopt the principle of ‘two peoples, two nations’ in a timely fashion, and thus brought upon Israel not only wars but also the radicalization of Moslem opponents, with dire consequences on future stability in the Middle East and the rest of the World.

Palestinian Peace, Not Apartheid

Carter Jimmy, 2006, Simon & Schuster, New York

Reviewed by M. Eliany

Before reading Carter’s book, ‘Palestinian Peace, Not Apartheid,’ I found the title offensive to Israelis, because it insinuates that Israelis are racists, at least of the South African kind. I lived in Israel on and off and I remain critical of Israel on multiple grounds, including inter-ethnic discrimination, but I am convinced Israel is no apartheid country. Had Palestinians and Arabs accepted Israel in their midst, they would have gained many benefits, including most cordial relations. But, I have a desire to understand other people’s point of view, and I remained curious as to Carter’s point of view. But it took him 189 pages to admit that ‘the driving purpose for the forced separation of the two peoples is unlike that in South Africa- not racism…’(p.189)
Carter seems to be a man of strong beliefs, a devout Christian, eager to do the best he can to promote peace in the Middle East. And indeed, his efforts and dedication led to peace treaty between Egypt and Israel (1979), based on principles agreed upon in the Camp David Accords of 1978, ‘confirming Israel’s compliance with U.N. Resolution 242, withdrawal of political and military forces from the West Bank and Gaza, and full autonomy for the Palestinians (p. 6-7)‘ Carter states that Israel has not complied with the terms of the Camp David Accords of 1978 (p. 106-109). As a result of continued military rule and related abuses (p.113-127), hatred and alienation made reconciliation difficult (p.110-112). One of the most disturbing deviations from the Accord is continued construction of settlements (p.131-132). And yet, Israelis and Palestinians demonstrated good will, reaching an agreement in Oslo, allowing for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority to administer Gaza and Jericho, as well as, other towns and villages (p.133-138).
Elections were subsequently held for the president of the Palestinian Authority and its legislative council (1996), but Arafat had not fulfilled his commitment to renounce violence or recognize Israel. He also arrested Palestinian members of the news media as well as human rights activists (p. 143). Further, leaders of Hamas opposed the recognition of Israel and continued to perpetrate acts of violence (p.144). Negotiation continued in Camp David (2000) where an offer of a Palestinian State was made, but rejected by Arafat as insufficient, leading to renewed violence (the second intifada)(p.147-154).
Efforts to bring the feuding parties together by the International Quartet, in what is labeled as the Roadmap, acknowledged ‘that Israel must have a lasting and comprehensive peace. This will not be possible unless Israel accepts the terms of the Roadmap and reverses its colonizing the internationally recognized Palestinian territory, and unless the Palestinians respond by accepting Israel’s right to exist, free of violence’ (p.162).
The failure to bridge between Israelis and Palestinians did not deter some political leaders to continue negotiations leading to the Geneva Initiative, which gained widespread support, but not at the political leadership level. ‘The initiative provides for secure borders and overwhelming recognition by the Arab World for Israel and a sovereign, contiguous, viable state for Palestinians recognized by the international community. More specifically, the dividing border would be based on the 1967 lines but with a mutual exchange of land, giving Israel some of its largest settlements, Jewish neighborhoods in Eastern Jerusalem, and the Jewish Quarter in the Old City. An international religious authority would control central holy sites, with the Temple Mount officially under Palestinian sovereignty and the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City under Israeli sovereignty. Israel would decide unilaterally how many Palestinian refugees would be admitted to Israel, and other refugees could return to Palestine or receive appropriate compensation…’ (p. 166).
Carter reports on the election of Abu Mazen as president in chapter 14, as well as, Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and the subsequent hardship Palestinians suffered there. What is surprising is his concluding sentence: ‘This was the impact of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal, even before Israel’s massive bombardment and reinvasion in July 2006 after being provoked by Hamas militants (p.176).’ Reading this, I wondered why Israel is to blame for its unilateral withdrawal and why systematic shelling of Israeli civilians by Hamas is mentioned as if an afterthought, and merely as a provocation.  Isn’t it a double standard?
Then comes chapter 16, describing the barriers Israelis built to defend themselves from violent neighbors, as a prison wall. Israelis may not be angels, but are Palestinians saints in Carter’s mind? Didn’t America build a fence to prevent peaceful Mexican laborers from crossing the border? Don’t most countries guard their borders and often shoot to kill infiltrators? If so, why Israel should not have the right to protect its citizens from repeated attacks by suicide bombers and thousands of rockets and missiles? Hezbollah fired 4000 rockets [many of them missiles] into northern Israel, paralyzing everyday life. And that after Israel destroyed long range missiles, perhaps in the thousands, which had a longer reach, targeting population centers as far as Tel Aviv. Would Carter allow any of this type of aggression in his own backyard?
Ethical talk is cheap for devout Carter. It seems that he is bored with the fact that Palestinians and Arabs repeatedly abuse of Israelis and don’t even want to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Boredom with Israel’s abuse is easy. The world had gotten used to it over too many centuries. Carter seems to have forgotten counting the number of countries Arabs got by the League of Nations in the internationally sanctioned New World Order.  He also did not consider counting the number of countries persecuted Jews got as a refuge of last resort? He can hardly grasp that repeated Palestinian and Arab aggression against Israelis is just another form of persecution, and the real threat to world peace. But Carter can hardly understand that Israelis have no choice but defend themselves with separation walls and fences and arms too. It seems he will realize what Moslem fundamentalism means only when it knocks on his door.
I count myself in ‘the strong majority that craves for peace’ (p.202).  I am convinced that when Palestinians and Arabs choose peace, as Egypt and Jordan did, Israelis would prove to reciprocate with generosity. Until then, Carter should go and preach Palestinians and Arabs the meaning of ‘what is hated upon you, you shall not do onto others.’ He should also teach them, the meaning of self-rehabilitation, and point to Israelis as a good example. Perhaps then Israelis would finally get the peace they crave for. Perhaps then Carter would realize that Israelis reject oppression, won’t support any form of apartheid and will gladly dismantle the separation wall, as soon as, their neighbors show a friendlier demeanor.
Here is a different view by an American about the same matter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEzvhvOcWEs
and another view about The revolution in Syria the ‘peaceful neighbour’ http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-ca&vid=cbcc2011-3003-2055-0047-186369990100&src=CPSmall:shareBar:email

The Rise of the Religious Right in Israel

Book Review M. Eliany

Cosmic Fear: The Rise of the Religious Right in Israel
Greenfield Tzvia
2001 Miskal – Yedioth Ahronoth Books and Chemed Books, Tel Aviv (Hebrew)

Abstract

Objecting and antagonist orthodox Jews tend not to support a secular Jewish state, which engages in bringing about national redemption pro-actively. According to these groups if Jews follow Torah precept, a Divine peace will reign upon the land of Israel (Leviticus 26:3-6). They wish to derail Zionist nation building and accept life in exile as long as divine redemption does not take place (p.35).

Zionists reinterpreted Judaism in light of their own time, i.e., redefining man as a proactive agent responsible for his personal and national redemption, while orthodox Jewry subjects man to the will of God and divine redemption (Hertzel ??”?; Greenfield, 2001: p.57, 68, 70). Zionism sought to transform newcomers, not only to make political gains but also to reshape the way individual Jews think and behave (Greenfield, 2001: p.73). Labour Zionism, which was characterized by authoritarianism at its onset, contained the seeds of its own destruction since it empowered its members to rebel and seek personal and national redemption simultaneously (Greenfield, 2001: p.75).

Orthodox nationalists support Zionists’ nation building as a preliminary step that precedes divine redemption. They support Liberal Conservatives (i.e., Likud) who opt for expanding Israel beyond its 1967 borders, hoping that an orthodox nationalist agenda will prevail at the end of the road. However, as expansionist policies are associated with political, cultural and economic isolation, as well as with militarism, Liberal conservatives could not sustain such policies and forgo economic development, democracy and international integration (p.36). As a consequence, orthodox nationalists used threats (i.e., civil war) to force Liberal Conservatives to maintain expansion policies (p.88-89). Orthodox nationalists do not accept the reality that a compromise may be necessary to bring about peace and security.

As orthodox nationalists succeeded in shaping Liberal Conservatives policies in terms of settlements expansion and as settlements beyond Israel’s 1967 borders provided cheap housing to all orthodox Yeshiva students, objecting and antagonist orthodox groups joined the bandwagon of expansion, although it contradicts rabbinic rulings relating to rebellious behaviour, hoping that their success would produce a viable alternative to secular Zionism (Greenfield, 2001: p.90). But here, orthodox Jews faced some shortcomings. Some acquired military success. Some made gains in politics. But most had only rabbinic studies to rely on and remained dependent on rabbinic authorities. In other words, orthodox Jewry leadership realized it was short of relevant talent to bring about national redemption, especially in a world of modernity. Thus, they wondered how and why God brought redemption in the hands of secular rather than in the hands of orthodox Israelis. And in order to diminish the success of the first, orthodox Jews point to the failure to provide security inside Israel (i.e., war and Intifadas) and externally to Jews around the world (i.e., terror). They also lent support to the most conservative elements in the Likud (i.e., Netanyahu), in its attempt to ‘dismantle’ the secular Zionist enterprise (i.e., privatization). Orthodox nationalists attribute the success of Zionists and Israel to miracles and divine intent and believe that they are destined to take over the leadership of nation building according to God’s will (Greenfield, 2001: p.91-101).

Greenfield suggests that orthodox Jews missed the opportunity to take part in Zionist nation building because of their rejection of modernity as a defensive measure. Orthodox Jews expect secular Jews to return to the sources to bridge the gap (i.e., return to orthodoxy). She also suggests that secular Zionists need to acknowledge the centrality of Jewish identity to Israel and that efforts in this direction are as important as the struggle for peace with Arab neighbours. Yet she believes that common grounds could be found among all sides, including Arabs, only around the re-focussing of traditions on individual needs and individual rights (p.102-115).

Orthodox Jews have grown to depend on rabbinic interpretation to a point that individual views are suppressed. Rabbinic traditions find support to the primacy of their authority in the Torah (Deuteronomy 17:8-11). But the fear of rabbis to deviate from tradition kept them tied to past interpretations without being able to make Judaism relevant to contemporary needs (p.116-123). Streams in orthodox Jewry became attached to sectarian historical traditions (i.e., Hassidim and Opponents, and more recently some Sephardim) leading to mutual exclusion and discrimination (i.e., in marriage, education, rabbinic authority and politics). This tendency for mutual exclusion led to the development of a Sephardi orthodox stream as a reaction to Ashkenazi rejection (i.e., Shass. Subsequently, Shass also succeeded attracting votes on non-religious Sephardi voters when the Likud, like Labour before, failed to integrate them or represent them adequately) (p.124-135).

The success of Shass to play an active role in Israeli politics encouraged other orthodox Ashkenazi streams to do the same. Thus a younger generation of orthodox objectionists and antagonists adopted a pro-active role in establishing ‘Degel HaTorah’ with the hope that orthodox Jewry would lead Israel some time in the future in its attempt to take over ‘redemption’ from the hands of non-orthodox Zionists. This trend is associated with a different theological orthodox conception, i.e., with the dispersion of the Jewish nation, individual Jews can plead with the Divine directly and thereby bring about divine redemption. But leaders of the orthodox Jewry (‘gedoley haTorah’) can hardly give up their hold on religious authority to allow an alternative one to take it place. For the same reason, orthodox Jewry cannot concede leadership to non-orthodox Zionists in the domain of personal and national redemption (p.136-144).

Every day life among orthodox Jews

Clothing, hairstyle and religious studies define each stream. In Israel there is a tendency for men to study in a yeshiva until their forties and even later (partly to avoid the draft into the army!) The Israeli government subsidizes Yeshiva studies and women often complement family income through work in education and social services areas. Occasionally, orthodox men also manage a small business in the name of the wife to get an additional income. In Europe and America, students leave a yeshiva after marriage around the age of 19-24, in order to learn a trade or join a family business.

Orthodox Jews, excluding orthodox nationalists and most Sephardi orthodox, perceive military service as a threat to their religious lifestyle and used their political weight to get a legal exemption from the draft. As a consequence, the ranks of Yeshiva students swelled and became a heavy economic burden to the Israeli society. Further, due to the fear of getting enlisted to the army, yeshivas became shelters to students who did not fit the mould. Soon centres of learning which were intended to develop intellectual depth offered merely ritual learning without significant depth.

The focus on Torah learning, without other outlets, turned religiosity into a domain in which community members compete to demonstrate increasing levels of conformity (i.e., getting early to pray, not missing any prayer…) that end up counter productive and stifling. In the case of Hassidim the problem is less severe because community members usually join the labour or business market after marriage in their early twenties. But they too are subject to constraint because of the tradition to consult with their rabbi on every matter whether of great or marginal significance.

In general, the income level among orthodox Jews tend to be low and their economic situation becomes increasingly difficult as the number of children in the family grows. In most cases, women are the main providers. National income security allocations complement family revenues. A few families involved in politics/Israeli bureaucracy get higher revenues but there is also a wealthy elite involved in the diamond industry as well as in investments in foreign markets. More recently, younger generations seem to want to benefit from a richer Israeli economy but without skills or modern education, they are forced into a career in the religious domain as rabbis or kashrut supervisors.

The desire to take part of the Israeli economic success and in modernity led to a variety of responses. Some orthodox groups attempt to stress the value of humility (i.e., Mir and Brisk groups) while others encourage the desire to take part in Israeli politics (i.e., Hebron Yeshiva). But the encounter with non-orthodox Israelis is not easy, as it tends to create a feeling of superiority among orthodox youngsters. Currently, a significant effort of orthodox elites is invested in trading political support for as many allocations as possible to increasingly impoverished orthodox communities. Thus, some objecting and antagonist orthodox communities elaborated a plan to support the establishment of a Palestinian state in exchange of a significant Israeli/American investment in their communities (i.e., satellite orthodox towns). This type of political juggling indicates that economic considerations do carry weight in decision-making within most orthodox circles. The content of orthodox newspapers also indicate to great interest in non-orthodox Israel, especially in the relations between orthodox and non-orthodox parties (i.e., Shass, Likud, Netanyahu).

Increasing poverty, pressures on women to bear more children (as many as 15) as well as the dependence on women as providers have become sources of tension within orthodox circles. Therefore attempts are made to create additional sources of income through mutual help organizations dealing with help to the sick and burials, in most cases financed by the state.

Parents, relatives, friends or professional matchmakers arrange marriages. Women tend to marry between 17-19 among Hassidim and 18-21 among Antagonists. Men marry between 19-24 in most cases. Most marriages take place within respective social strata, i.e., amongst Yeshiva leaders and wealthy families on one hand and the rest on the other. Occasionally, a Yeshiva leader might chose a bright student to marry his daughter or recommend it to a colleague or wealthy family. Marriage takes place within a few months after consent is reached. Parents aim to share the cost of marriage and installation of the young couple in their own flat, although a heavier burden is placed upon the family of the bride (p.145-183).

Threats to democracy

Orthodox communities perceive themselves as a highly spiritual society whose values are far superior to universal liberal and democratic values held by their non-orthodox counterparts. Torah law is divine in their eyes, preceding contemporary state law. They also see modernity and related technological benefits merely from a material and utilitarian perspective. This of course has implications as to efforts orthodox community members make to acquire skills and education to facilitate their integration in contemporary Israel. For their focus on spirituality leads them to condemn the material world as they see it only from a utilitarian point of view.

Orthodox communities exploit internal solidarity to derive political power and thereby subtract economic benefits from non-orthodox state authorities. They see existing secular state powers as temporary and believe they are in the position to inherit them. Meanwhile they support right wing forces (i.e., Likud and Netanyahu) hoping they would pave the road for an orthodox take over of power (i.e., dismantling of Zionist institutions, including the Superior court).

Orthodox communities do not accept the reality that they represent only a minority and believe their values are those of the majority and thus they wish to supplant the ‘old elite’ as well as its institutions, using democratic (and if necessary non-democratic) means. Greenfield suggests: the non-orthodox Israeli community will have no choice but confront the anti-democratic orthodox forces to preserve the universal, liberal and democratic character of the Israeli society (Greenfield, 2001:p. 184-209).

Orthodox nationalists everyday life

Orthodox nationalists distinguish between Jews and the rest of the world. They wish to lead the nation but lack skills and resources to do so. However, unlike their rejectionist and antagonist orthodox brethrens, they acknowledge modernity without conceding the necessity to adapt Torah laws to contemporary existence. Recent trends among orthodox nationalists, i.e., romantic anti-rationalism (labelled Habakook) and ‘Land of Israel’ revivalism, fail to bridge between universal modern value systems and particular Jewish nationalist value systems because of the fear to re-interpret ‘divine law’ in a contemporary context. As a consequence, when they faced diverging contemporary conceptions held by non-orthodox Israelis, they responded harshly (i.e., killing Rabin and resisting evacuation from occupied territories for peace). And their deception grew as they realized that liberal Israelis reject orthodox nationalist views relating to a forceful occupation of ‘Greater Israel,’ undermining their conception of the world and their orthodox value system. Thus, orthodox nationalists are experiencing a dissonance due to the gap between intrinsic Jewish ethics, which emphasize respect for others and universal peace, and particular nationalist calls for forceful occupation of neighbours. Such dissonance may have dire consequences for the Israeli society should orthodox nationalists choose to use force to impose their views.

Religious nationalists became more relevant to Israeli culture upon the rise of the Liberal conservatives (i.e., Likud) in 1977. Their influence on the political agenda relating to ‘Greater Israel’ and settlements in the occupied territories increased. But they could not make a significant contribution in the economic, technological and international relations domains, mainly due to their narrow focus on Jewish studies and neglect of education in areas of relevance to modern societies. Later, when non-orthodox Israelis opted for peace, religious nationalists failed to comprehend the change and even attempted to oppose it with force. They also failed to understand the international and ethical contexts, which reject occupation and oppression of neighbours. Moreover, they deviated from intrinsic Jewish values, which put a premium on the pursuit of peace and preservation of life.

Exposure to modernity did not go unnoticed in some of the orthodox nationalists circles. Some of their youth have chosen to reconcile modernity with orthodoxy by joining the army, acquiring relevant skills to technologically advanced and modern Israel as well as exploring ways to re-interpret Jewish law to suit contemporary life (i.e., equality of women and their protection in rabbinic courts) (p.210-249).

Yearning for ‘Greater Israel’ and an Orthodox Leadership

Orthodox nationalists, following Rabbi Kook’s centre guidance, chose to give precedence to land sacredness over life preservation contrary to intrinsic Jewish values. Emphasis on land holiness led them to ignore national and international realities, (which impose territorial compromise) as well as to diminish the value of ethics held by non-orthodox Israelis. Further, precedence of land sacredness implies oppression of Arab neighbours, putting at risk a Jewish majority in Israel and defeating thereby the purpose of the establishment of a Jewish state with progressive and egalitarian characteristics (i.e., due to allocation of resources to occupation instead of education and development of the periphery).

Orthodox nationalists imposed their ‘Greater Israel’ agenda partly due to the fact that both Labour and Liberal Conservatives shared their ideology but changed their positions when Palestinians demonstrated strong resistance to occupation. However, attempts to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians did not succeed so far, as the latter have yet to accept to compromise as Jews do too. Orthodox nationalists were happy to see peace negotiations fail as if it proved their point, that peace camp premises are wrong while theirs are right, i.e., Israel must keep all territories and rely on force to do so (for Darwinist reasons as well as because it is a divine wish since ‘Esau hates Jacob!’), but they went as far as claim also that peace pursuit is but an illusion and that it not ‘Jewish’ to de-legitimize a peace camp.

Orthodox nationalists believe in the holly purpose of settling the Greater Land of Israel. It is a divine duty that no secular authority can override, not even a democratic majority. Deviation from this divine purpose will bring to the destruction of Israel. Therefore, orthodox nationalists are talking about an alternative regime based on rabbinic law and possibly a kingdom. And if they do not succeed to take over Israel, they would make an attempt to drag it into a permanent war with it neighbours to prevent territorial compromise. They believe the ‘old elite’ lost its fervour and that it seeks territorial compromise only to preserve its privileges and wealth (p.250-279).

Greenfield suggests that Liberal Conservatives (i.e., Likud) with the support of orthodox parties could win an election to impose on Israel a nationalist agenda to the detriment of a universalistic and democratic agenda. She feels that Liberal Conservatives failed to fulfill the needs of the periphery, whose population sought comfort in the support of an Oriental orthodox party (i.e., Shass), which only strengthens the nationalist coalition in Israel (p.280-291).

Commentary

Greenfield’s insider description of the Israeli orthodox sector is quite impressive and tends to be quite factual in the most part, although a mix of erroneous premises, emotional speculations detract her from sound analytical conclusions.

Greenfield, for example, ignores the basic premise that Judaism does contain strong universal and democratic values. Therefore, although there exist within Judaism particularistic and nationalistic tendencies, represented nowadays by objectionist, antagonist and nationalist orthodox groups, non-orthodox Jews in Israel (and elsewhere) have always put an emphasis on universal and democratic values. These values facilitated integration and assimilation of Jews in hosting populations around the world and across the ages. Jews held universal and democratic values and resisted authoritarian rule since Biblical time both in Israel and elsewhere. Torah law prescribe direct grass root representation and avoidance of kingly rule and even when kings were appointed, constitutional constraints were imposed on them. Judaism has stressed the importance of the rule of law as well as fair and equal treatment of the foreigner in the Land of Israel on the basis of the principle of reciprocity (i.e., do not do to your neighbour what you do not wish done to you or you shall love your neighbour as you love yourself).

Contemporary Orthodox Judaism and especially its nationalistic brand have gone astray based on Greenfield’s empirical observations, because of their narrow interpretation of Jewish Law and excessive emphasis on ritualism and particularistic values.

Labour Zionists made concessions to orthodox Jews to prevent a schism in a time when solidarity was necessary to facilitate nation building. Orthodox groups exploited concessions made by the non-orthodox majority (i.e., sectarian education, relief from army service and other subsidies) to acquire strength in order to promote their agenda (i.e., bring back Jews to religion) as well as undermine the rule of the majority (i.e., settlement and expansion policies). But Israelis will not make these concessions forever. As the nation-building phase nears its conclusion, a confident non-orthodox majority is likely to impose its will. It has the strength to do so (i.e., withdrawal from Gaza). It voted with confidence for territorial compromise as well as a peaceful resolution of the Israeli Arab conflict. It has also accommodated Russian and Ethiopians immigrants who do not fit the orthodox definition of “Who is a Jew.” And it has adopted a modern lifestyle unbound by orthodox interpretations of Jewish Law.

Further, there are indications that some orthodox Jews tend to support the non-orthodox majority. Most of the ‘Oriental’ Jews who support the Sephardi orthodox Shass party are far from rejecting universal and democratic values. They also do not object to territorial compromise or peace. They want to be treated fairly. For this purpose they shifted their vote from Labour to Liberal Conservatives (i.e., Likud) and switched to Shass to express dissatisfaction from both. ‘Oriental’ voters, although under-represented in the Israeli parliament, have representatives across all parties and have used their votes to express a plea for fair treatment without undermining national solidarity.

To conclude, it is doubtful if a political alliance between objectionist, antagonist, nationalist orthodox and non-orthodox nationalists would be able to impose its will on the non-orthodox majority in Israel (and by extension on Jews elsewhere). Non-orthodox Jews may continue to make concessions to their orthodox brethrens due to their attachment to a heritage they value greatly but also to prevent dissention. In any case, concessions made by the majority should not be taken as a sign of weakness but a mark of strength and generosity towards the orthodox minority.

References Hertzel, B. Z., ??”? Altneuland, Neuman Books, Tel Aviv (Hebrew)

Will Israel face the Igbo challenge?

In 1976, while on a teaching fellowship in Canada, a Nigerian student from the Igbo tribe approached me, to tell me the Igbo are Hebrews, that some years ago, Christian missionaries told them, that the massiah has come, convincing many to convert to Christianity. He told me that the more he acquired education, he became convinced the Igbo are Hebrews, because that was the tradition and belief in the tribe, before the conversion to Christianity. It is now 2012. A new video and documentary renews the claim that the igbo are Hebrews. I wonder if Israel will face this challenge with wisdom. I hope it does. The video speaks for itself.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDB0wkKsGgU&sns=em

 

Multiculturalism made in Canada is good for Israel

Multiculturalism made in Canada is good for Israel
Daniel Cereis
Assistant professor of religion, law and ethics at McGill University.
© The Montreal Gazette
Edited and reviewed here by Marc Eliany

For good or ill, multiculturalism is a groundbreaking development in the theory and practice of modern liberal democracies.
It is hailed as a remarkable global advance by some, and blamed as the cause of troublesome cultural and political conflicts by others.
However, in the heat of debate, the foundational role of Canadian political thought and statecraft in the multicultural project has been largely overlooked.
This month Canadians are marking the 40th anniversary of their officially multicultural country:
on Oct. 8, 1971, Canada became the first country in the world to declare multiculturalism as its state policy.
As the intellectual and political architect of multiculturalism, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau put forward a deep theory of the multicultural liberal state
and, as a statesman, pressed for a robust enactment of this theory in public policy and constitutional reform.
The multicultural vision was born in Montreal in the early 1960s when Trudeau penned ‘The New Treason of the Intellectuals’ for Cite Libre, the influential journal he co-founded.
This remarkable essay has fallen into oblivion, but may deserve a place as one of the most important and influential contributions to liberal political thought in the 20th century.
Trudeau’s essay offered a focused and foundational critique of a deeply entrenched feature of modern political thought and practice – namely,
the unquestioned commitment to a “mono-national” concept of the state.
‘The New Treason’ argues for a clear separation of the nation and the state.
Trudeau points out that one of the first critical chapters in the development of liberal democracy was the separation of religion from the state.
Liberals like English philosopher John Locke recognized that attempts to anchor the state in religion could only lead to conflict and oppression.
However, the liberal state ended up replacing religion with nationality, a far more irrational basis for political community.
After a century of bloodshed due to nationalism, Trudeau argued, the time had come for another historic disestablishment,
namely the disestablishment of nationality as the basis for the liberal state. In Trudeau’s words:
‘Religion had to be displaced as the basis of the state before the frightful religious wars came to an end.
And there will be no end to wars between nations until in some similar fashion the nation ceases to be the basis of the state.’
The fusion of nationality and the state had profoundly corrupted liberal political life and led to some of the most extreme examples of political conflict, violence and repression.
Trudeau concluded that the mono-national state was no more compatible with the goals of liberal democracy than the theocratic state.
The liberal state, he argued, must offer an open space for a variety of cultures and ethnicities, just as it offers an open space for the free exercise of diverse religions.
Trudeau’s multicultural vision attempts to de-politicize ethno-cultural aspirations and relocate them in the sphere of civil society, where they would be allowed to flourish.
The term “multiculturalism” was coined to capture this policy of poly-ethnic pluralism.
As prime minister, Trudeau set out to both re-conceive and reconstruct the Canadian liberal democratic state so that its public policy
and constitutional principles would embody this vision of multicultural pluralism.
In 1971, Canada became the first modern state to establish multiculturalism as its national policy.
In 1982 multiculturalism was written into the constitutional Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
By the 1980s, Trudeau’s project was embraced by all the major federal parties, and in 1988 the historic Multiculturalism Act was passed with near-unanimous consent.
The fact that Canadian multiculturalism is now viewed as a reality shaping Canadian identity, political ethos and policy is, in part, a testimony to the impact of Trudeau’s contribution.
The Canadian origins of multiculturalism were quickly lost sight of as it became a global feature of liberal democratic discourse.
But in recent years, the claim that ‘multiculturalism has failed’ appears to be gathering force in elite European circles.
Just in the last few months, major European leaders (Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s David Cameron and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy) have added their voices to this chorus of discontent.
In their view, multiculturalism is at the root of a number of deep malaises in contemporary liberal democracies, undermining national and civic integration,
fostering immigrant communities gathering into ghetto like concentrations, thus providing fertile ground for religious extremism, and offering safe haven for illiberal beliefs and practices.
Various forms of European multiculturalism do appear to be performing very poorly. But in the land of its birth, multiculturalism seems to be flourishing.
Canada’s moral and practical investment in multiculturalism is far deeper than that of most European states, and the outcome is far better.
A recent study by Will Kymlicka, one of Canada’s leading researchers on multiculturalism, indicates
that Canadians, both immigrants and non-immigrants, take a high level of pride in their multiculturalism.
Immigrants to Canada integrate more quickly and effectively than do immigrants to other major Western countries.
They become more active politically, in terms of voting, participation, and election to office.
And their children have far better educational outcomes.
Canada is marked by vibrant “ethnic neighborhoods,” but there is little evidence of the kind of ghetto concentrations that one sees in Europe.
Finally, the mutual alienation between Muslim and non-Muslim communities in Europe is largely absent in Canada.
The vast majority of Canadians believe that Muslim Canadians are a positive force in Canada.
And according to a research paper for Citizenship and Immigration Canada by Kymlicka:
Muslim Canadians are more likely than the general population (91 per cent vs. 71 per cent) to affirm that Canada is headed in the right direction.

One can find a handful of Canadian academics and public commentators who do get grumpy about multiculturalism.
But their grumblings are overshadowed by the very positive social outcomes of the Canadian multicultural project
and the large swath of Canadian public opinion supporting this evolving achievement.
Arguably there is something in the ethos, design and performance of multiculturalism in its uniquely Canadian birthplace that deserves more attention.

Discussion
Trudeau has been able to translate theoretical concepts into practice successfully.
He understood clearly that nationalism implied exclusion of minorities in most contemporary democracies, and especially in Europe.
Jews were the main victims of exclusion in nationalist Europe, although they were the principal facilitators of the transition into modernity.
Other minorities are now subject to exclusion in contemporary Europe states due to lack of equality of opportunity
and a failure of Europeans to understand that immigrants are part and parcel of the new citizenry in a state based on equal rights and universal principles.
Israel, like many European states, failed to disassociate religion and nationalism from the newly established state so far.
Israel would benefit following the successful Canadian example rather than the failed European one.