|Israel Resource Review
||20th April, 2006
Editorial in Palestinian Authority Official Publication, Following Bomb in Tel Aviv
I don't think, no, I am sure that the last Tel Aviv operation did not make
any of Israel's leaders lose any sleep over it. They had previous
knowledge of the possibility of it happening. For months and the Israeli
police have been talking daily about 80 warnings of operations, 15 of
them hot; what happened the day before yesterday was that one of these
warning took place, so why the surprise and the commotion? What can the
occupation do to punish a whole nation that is denied money, food and
children and after it has exhausted its supply of oppressive measures
over the years: it has used up all its weapons from planes to tanks,
artillery, assassinations, destruction, road blocking, arrests and
closures. The occupation has tried all means except for calm.
For more than a year all the factions, except for Al-Quds brigades in
the northern West Bank, committed themselves to tahdiya and the
occupation did not commit to it, ignored it and considered it an
internal Palestinian matter as if it didn't want it, so why would it get
upset if an operation takes place? And why hold every Palestinian
individual responsible for it? This is the question that I pose to the
leaders of Israel and its analysts and generals before I pose it to the
leaders of Europe and others. If the occupation tried all means of
oppression to put an end to the cycle of violence, why wouldn't it try
the short, straight and inexpensive path, which is the path of
negotiations? Are the statements of Olmert about unilaterally drawing
the borders of Israel logical and how does the international community
accept such dictates that would lead to more bloodshed and extend the
conflict for another century?
The occupation cannot add anything new to its stock of punishments.
It has exhausted all forms of torture. There is a financial, military
and political siege, starvation, bombing, arrests, and loss of jobs,
loss of necks, confiscation of lands, settlement construction, and
murder of children, invasions and raids. What means lower than what it
has used remain up its sleeve?
The occupation evades negotiations and bombs the road map on daily
basis in order to bury it forever to keep the annexation plan, which is
a plan for war and not a settlement. We on both sides who cry for the
innocents daily must join efforts to force the government of the
occupation to negotiate on the basis of the resolutions of international
legitimacy because it is the only path to end violence and bloodshed.
There was a Palestinian commotion caused by President Mahmoud Abbas's
description of the operation, when he said that it's despicable even
though the dictionary of the Arab language is rich with non provocative
descriptions. I believe that the killings of innocent civilians, no
matter who is behind it, is a shameful act and can be described as
despicable, but the practices of the occupation that push in that
direction and make some of us imitate the occupation in its practices
are the lowest. The occupation does that daily and in cold blood and
uses the weapons of a state such as planes, tanks and missiles; from
here I understand the words of the president as part of the comparison
with the lowliness of the practices of the occupations.
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Abbas Steers Clear Of Condemning Attack
Following Monday's Palestinian bombing in a Tel Aviv restaurant which resulted in the deaths of nine people, the media was rampant with the news of a "clear condemnation of the bombing from Palestinian Authority Chairman Machmoud Abbas."
This condemnation was delivered by Abbas's advisor, Saeb Erakat, who is no longer in power.
Abbas's official representative and spokesman, Mr. Edward Abington, former U.S. Consul in Jerusalem, who runs the lobbying firm of Bannerman Associates in Washington, DC. was asked if Abbas would have a statement to make on the record following the attack in Tel Aviv.
He responded with a clear "no." Would Abington be available to make a statement?
Again, a clear "no."
On Monday night, Abbas was on the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation saying "the operation in Tel Aviv [connoting a military operation, in Abbas's words] did not serve Palestinian interests."
Most say it was hardly a condemnation. Yet the PBC TV station, operated under the direct control of Abbas, featured an hour long video clip of Palestinian school children singing praises of martyrdom operations, in which young teenage Palestinian school children expressed their hope that each of them could die a martyr's death to "liberate all of Palestine".
Hamas circulated a video clip for all the media to see the young Palestinian who had blown himself up in the Tel Aviv restaurant call on thousands of other Palestinian young people to do the same, "in order to liberate all of Palestine from the Zionists." Hamas, which now runs the Palestinian Authority, issued a clear statement of praise for the bombing in Tel Aviv.
This piece appeared in The Evening Bulletin of Philadelphia on April 19th, 2006
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Remembering Arthur Hertzberg; A Man of Inquiry
Rabbi Dr. Arthur Hertzberg was my teacher 36 years ago when he was a visiting professor at the Hebrew University, when he taught a seminar on "philosophy of Jewish history", and stayed in touch with him ever since.
Hertzberg had a passion: to teach the art of inquiry to every student whom
he met. He taught the art of questioning, and dared every student to speak his or her mind, even if their perspective contradicted common assumptions and made enemies. Hertzberg insisted on one condition: primary sources to back what you were talking about.
It was most appropriate that Hertzberg's last visit to Israel, in March
2000, was characteristic of that direct approach:
Hertzberg timed his visit to precede Pope John Paul II's visit in Jerusalem,
and convened a press conference to present his research concerning the Pope's lack of involvement in rescue operations for Jews during World War II. Rabbi Hertzberg remarked that he and the Pope are the same age, born only a few miles from one another in Poland. Although Hertzberg was brought up in the US, thirty seven of his relatives reamined and were murdered there during World War II.
Hertzberg conducted scholarly research concerning the fate of Polish Jewry
during the war, and studied the activity of the Polish Catholic Church during those fateful years. "In the weekly reports of the Polish bishops filed to the Vatican during the war, there is not a single report on record that relates to the fate of the Jews", said Hertzberg.
Meanwhile, Hertzberg noted, Pope John Paul II would not say what he was doing during the war, when he was a young priest in Poland, except to say to a TV producer that "I lived too quiet a life". Hertzberg then asked that the Pope address the issue of What were his activities during the war and explain what the future pontiff knew of what was happening to the Jews of Poland? "
Sources in the Vatican report that Hertzberg's bold challenge caused the
Pope to respond, after his return to Rome, with a candid interview in which he said that, indeed he really did not do what he could have done to save the Jews of Poland, and for that he expressed great regret.
Indeed, in Hertzberg's final published article, "The Vatican's Sin of Omission" printed in the New York Times on May 14th, 1005, www.nytimes.com/2005/05/14/opinion/14hertzberg.html Hertzberg called on the newly chosen Pope Benedict XVI to acknowledge that the Catholic Church, "the major European institution that stood for morality, looked away from genocide [during the war] . . . "
When I recently went to visit an ailing Arthur Hertzberg at his home in
Englewood, he present me with the official album in memory of Pope John Paul II, in which Hertzberg wrote an essay in which he raised these difficult questions about the Church's lack of initiative during the war to save the Jews.
Arthur Hertzberg, as a teacher, Rabbi and leader, wanted every student to
have a grasp of Jewish history, an understanding of Zionism, and never to
neglect the basics of Jewish sources.
For many years, his reader, THE ZIONIST IDEA, became the one and only reader
for students in Israel and in the Diaspora, to understand the diversity of
ideologies that went into the pioneering of the state of Israel in this century.
His book FRENCH ENLIGHTENMENT AND THE JEWS proved to be a seminal work,
ahead of its time, which studied the root causes of anti-semitism in an open
He would often say that his concern for alienated Jewish youth of the 1960's
and 1970's caused him great concern, which he saw rooted in a less than
professional Jewish educational system that failed to imbue the next generation with the basics of feeling and knowledge.
It is hard to forget the many times when he met Jewish activists during the
early 1970's to encourage them to deepen their knowledge and famiarity with Judaism.
At one of those meetings, I remember well when Hertzberg accosted Jewish
activists they were "dishonest to their roots as Jews", and insisted that
everyone who saw himself as a Jewish activist must take a year or two to delve into Jewish sources – "to learn how to open a Jewish text".
And when someone asked Hertzberg who would pay for it. And he chimed in that "I will do so". And countless young Jews would ask him for help to pay for advanced Jewish studies, and, indeed, that is how I became the "Arthur Hertzberg Scholar" when he covered all my expenses to study at Pardes, in its first year of operation in 1972.
At that last visit with Hertzberg in his home, at a time when he knew that
his days were numbered, he gave a blessing to a new initiative in Jerusalem - to launch an Arthur Hertzberg study room at the Beit Agron International Press Center in Jerusalem, where his books and writings will become available to a new generation of students and reporters who are barely acquainted with Jewish and Zionist history.
I WAS PROUD TO BE HIS STUDENT.
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