Film Chat: One of the Lamed Vav

— by Hannah Lee

With much difficulty and the necessity of a personal courier to hunt for it in Israel, my shul, Lower Merion Synagogue, was able to screen the documentary film, One of the Lamed Vav, about the life of Rav Aryeh Levin, whose biography was titled, A Tzaddik In Our Time. (Lamed Vav refers to the 36 righteous people hidden in our midst, according to mystical lore.) Our Rabbi Emeritus, Abraham Levene, then spoke about his esteemed grandfather to an audience of seniors. I took privilege in attending, although I was not a member of the target audience.  

More after the jump.
I’d read the 1976 biography A Tzaddik In Our Time but the new documentary filled in for me the early years of Rav Aryeh’s life and how he became known as the “Tzaddik of Jerusalem” and one of modern Israel’s most beloved icons, known for his great acts of chesed (loving kindness) for prisoners, lepers, and the poor. He died in 1969, but people still tell stories about Rav Aryeh.  Israel used his image on postage stamps in 1982.

Aryeh Levin was born on March 22, 1885 near the village of Urla, near Bialystok, in northern Lithuania. He was tutored by local teachers until the age of 12, and then left home to attend the great yeshivas of Eastern Europe in Slonim, Slutsk, and Volozhin.  His passion for Eretz Yisrael led him to study with Abraham Isaac Kook, later the Chief Rabbi of Palestine.

In one of his most renown roles, Rav Aryeh was the unofficial chaplain (he refused to be paid) for the Jewish political prisoners– members of the Palmach, Haganah, Irgun or Lehi who were fighting for Israeli independence– held during the British Mandate in the 1930’s. As these individuals dared not implicate their families, they had no means of communication with their loved ones. Walking long distances, Rav Aryeh would walk from his home in the Nachlaot neighborhood to the Central Prison in the Russian compound, then deliver messages to the prisoners’ families all over Jerusalem, offering words of comfort and hope. The former prisoners who were interviewed for the documentary were effusive in their praise of a man who was so gentle and loving; he inspired them all to become better people with his mere presence and kind words.

The documentary film, One of the Lamed Vav, has interviews with two grandsons, Rabbi David Levin and his cousin, Rabbi Benjamin (Benji) Levene as well as others, both in prominent positions as well as elderly folks interviewed on the streets. The two grandsons spoke about how their grandfather helped them find their niche in life– the former as chaplain in the Israeli Defense Forces, the latter for work bridging secular and religious Jews through his work with Gesher– as well as a continued source of inspiration and chizuk (strength), such as managing one’s anger in the face of verbal attacks.

Simcha Raz, the author of A Tzaddik In Our Time, was interviewed on the documentary and he recalled that on one of his last visits with Rav Aryeh, he asked if Rav Aryeh thought of himself as one of the Lamed Vavniks.  Sometimes, said the latter, because it’s not a permanent role and one could fulfill a necessary task and revert to being an ordinary person.  How inspiring is that for all of us?  We, too, could have our moment of divine mission and rise to the occasion!

Spiritual leader of Lower Merion Synagogue for 40 years, Rabbi Avraham Levene told me how his family’s name got changed: They were visiting his maternal grandparents in England when World War II broke out. He was traveling on his mother’s visa (being so young) and her name was spelled Levene.  His father’s name was Anglicized Lewen (in Hebrew, Lamed Vav or Lev), so to avoid the confusion of multiple names, his family adopted the spelling of Levene. After the war, they moved to the United States where his father had a pulpit position and there they stayed until the father retired back in his beloved Israel. Abraham Yitzhak was 15 when he traveled by himself to visit his grandfather, Rav Aryeh, who cried when they met– Abraham Yitzhak being the eldest grandchild of his eldest surviving son. The stories that my Rabbi Levene tell are of the time spent living with his grandfather, in a simple one-room home, where love and faith were the guiding principles.

Rabbi Benji Levene, younger brother of my Rabbi, has published a story about their grandfather, “The Escort,” in the 2011 book Mitzvah Stories: Seeds for Inspiration and Learning, edited by Philadelphia Jewish Voice Religion Editor, Rabbi Goldie Milgram and Ellen Frankel with Peninnah Schram.

The biography of Rav Aryeh Levin, A Tzaddik In Our Time, by Simcha Raz is now out-of-print but it can still be ordered through Amazon; the DVD is not yet available for distribution in the United States.

What Really Happened at the Democratic Convention

— by Steve Sheffey

Last week Republicans accused Democrats of doing what they did just the week before regarding Jerusalem. Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats clarified their position by amending the platform, resulting in a statement on Israel that is stronger in several respects than the Republican platform.

The voice vote was messy, but far more problematic was the Republican tribute to Ron Paul, the most anti-Israel candidate to run for president in decades, and the GOP decision to let Rand Paul, who supports cutting foreign aid to Israel, address their convention in person.

Rational pro-Israel voters should not base their 2012 votes on Jerusalem because both parties have the same position.

More after the jump.
 
As many of you know, I was a delegate from Illinois at the Democratic National Convention last week. After Shabbat services yesterday, many people approached me during kiddush lunch with questions.  This article will be longer than usual.  If these issues are important to you, I hope you’ll take the time to read to the end.

Ron Kampeas accurately summarizes what happened. Republicans attacked Democrats for not including certain language on Jerusalem and when Democrats added the language back, the voice vote did not go smoothly.

We first need to separate politics from policy. The Democrats kicked the ball into their own goal. This entire firestorm could have been avoided if someone had done what the Republicans did the minute they had a chance: compare the 2008 platform to the 2012 platform for emotional issues. We’ll talk below about the policy rationale for not including the Jerusalem language, but not initially including it created an unnecessary distraction.

The Democrats then scored another goal against themselves with the voice vote. We’ll talk below about why it went down the way it did,  but the optics were terrible. Should any of this matter to pro-Israel voters? That’s where policy comes in.

To understand the Democratic platform on Israel, one first has to understand the Republican platform on Israel. This election is a choice, not a referendum. I was not able to find a link to only the Israel part of the Republican platform, but here is a link to the entire Republican platform.

Scroll down past the part about how taxes reduce freedom, past the part about repealing the estate tax, past the part supporting a Constitutional amendment requiring a super-majority for any tax increase, past the part supporting a Constitutional amendment restricting marriage to unions of one man and one woman, past the part supporting prayer in public schools, past the part supporting a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children, past the part opposing federal funding for embryonic  stem cell research, past the part about reining in the EPA, past the part about saving Medicare by “modernizing” it (I’m not making this up),  past the part about repealing Obamacare, and you’ll eventually get to a section titled “American Exceptionalism.”  The last two parts of that section talk about Israel.

Most Democrats would probably agree with the 2012 Republican platform on Israel. I certainly do. Everything in the Republican platform on Israel is fine, but in 2008, the Republicans also said this: “We support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to that undivided capital of Israel.” Now that language is gone.

Does that mean that Republicans now think Jerusalem should be divided? Does that mean that Republicans now oppose moving the embassy to Jerusalem? It does by the logic of those who are attacking the Democrats, but as Buzzfeed correctly observed, “In both parties’ cases, the revisions don’t seem to reflect a dramatic policy shift, but rather attempts by party leadership to avoid foreign policy commitments in the non-binding political document.”

Only a week before the Democratic Convention, the Republicans omitted key language on Jerusalem. As Bill Clinton said, “it takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.”

Now let’s look at the pre-amended Democratic platform. Once again, you’ll have to scroll down to get the Middle East section. The Democratic platform is very strong on Israel; in many ways, it describes how President Obama has already done what the Republicans say they want to do.  But it too is not the same as the 2008 platform.

The Democratic platform is stronger on Israel. For example, as JTA reports, the Democrats say this about Iran:

“At the same time, [Obama] has also made clear that the window for diplomacy will not remain open indefinitely and that all options – including military force – remain on the table.”

Specifying military force explicitly is new — the Republicans fall back on the coy “all options” language, which is interesting because that elision has frustrated pro-Israel groups and Republicans and Democrats in Congress no end in the last year, and helped bring about more explicit warnings from the White House, culminating in the explicit mention of “military force” in the DNC platform.

Here’s the GOP 2012 language:

“We must retain all options in dealing with a situation that gravely threatens our security, our interests, and the safety of our friends.”

But what about Jerusalem? As Josh Rogin reported, “the drafters [of the platform] made a deliberate and conscious decision to reframe the Israel section of the platform around Obama’s record, to limit the section to cover his existing policies, and to intentionally avoid any and all final-status issues.”  That might not be how to win US elections, but it does make sense.

Then why did the Democrats add the Jerusalem language to the platform on Wednesday? Politics. The only chance to amend the platform was during the convention. The language was irrelevant from a policy standpoint. The platform is not meant to be a checklist of every issue. But given that no policy change was intended, and given that Republicans had the brass to allege a policy change, the Democrats decided it would be easier just to add the language and remove all doubt. So, with President Obama’s approval, they added this: “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

Note that this language too is stronger than the 2012 Republican platform, which omits the word “undivided.”

But what about other language that was not added? Republicans also complained that language about Hamas in the 2008 platform is not in the 2012 platform. Robert Wexler responded that the 2012 platform is stronger because it covers all Palestinian terror groups:  “The platform doesn’t say ‘Hamas,’ but it says that any potential Palestinian partner has to meet the conditions necessary for peace. That’s even stronger and of course it applies to Hamas.”  President Obama’s position is clear on the refugee issue and the armistice lines issue, both of which are final status issues that are not necessary to include in the platform.

The voice vote was blown out of proportion. I knew in advance that the platform would be amended at 5:00. Do you know where I was at 5:00? I was having dinner at Bentley’s with most of the Illinois delegation. It was a done deal. Many of the people there at 5:00 weren’t even delegates and had to get there early because they didn’t have reserved seats. When C-SPAN wasn’t zooming in on those two Arab-Americans, they showed the main floor, plainly revealing how few people were there. The Illinois section was virtually deserted.

Why the booing? Some delegates were upset because they had no notice of the amendments (they didn’t). Some delegates were upset because the “under God” language was also being added (it was). And yes, there probably were some people upset about the Jerusalem language, but it’s impossible to know how many of the nays and boos were actually from delegates. What we do know for certain is that Democratic leadership strongly backs the Jerusalem language. I was at an AIPAC lunch earlier in the day, and Senator after Senator, Congressperson after Congressperson, re-affirmed their support for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. And this being the Democratic Convention, all of them were Democrats.

Republican delegates exhibited anti-Israel sentiment only a week earlier. The voice vote at the Democratic convention was ambiguous, but you don’t have to guess what Republican delegates supported. Rep. Ron Paul is the most anti-Israel candidate to run for president in either party for decades, maybe ever. Yet Ron Paul was honored at the Republican convention, no doubt to appease the Ron Paul delegates who were elected during the Republican primary. And Sen. Rand Paul, who is not quite as extreme as his father but who does favor cutting foreign aid to Israel, spoke at the Republican convention. Can you imagine the outcry if a Democrat who supported cutting foreign aid to Israel spoke in person at the Democratic convention?

Pro-Israel voters shouldn’t vote based on Jerusalem anyway. I was tempted to lead with this, but so many people want their questions answered first that I defied what might be good PR strategy and decided to actually answer the questions people are asking. But Aaron David Miller is 100% correct on this:

The Jerusalem issue defies logic and rationality when it comes to our presidential elections. Presidential candidates say all kinds of things in order to win elections, including repeated commitments to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And then, once in office, they turn around and seek ways to avoid doing it.

Despite all of the campaign rhetoric, no administration has changed the bottom line U.S. position on the embassy, or for that matter the status of Jerusalem, since 1967. Its fate is to be determined in negotiations.

And here’s a news flash for you. Should Mitt Romney become president and serious negotiations start between the Israelis and Palestinians, his position would conform to that of his predecessors, and might even go further to allow for Palestinian sovereignty in east Jerusalem.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz spoke accurately about Michael Oren. I was in the room when the DNC Chair said “We know, and I’ve heard no less than Ambassador Michael Oren say this, that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel.” I don’t know if the “reporter” stayed for all of what she said, but it was obvious to me, as it should have been obvious to anyone familiar with Oren’s warnings about using Israel for partisan gain, that she was right.

The confusing part is that following the reporting of Wasserman Schultz’s comments, Oren issued a statement stating that “I categorically deny that I ever characterized Republican policies as harmful to Israel. Bipartisan support is a paramount national interest for Israel, and we have great friends on both sides of the aisle.”

Oren is right. But that’s not the point. In 2010, Oren “expressed deep concern over the increasing use of support for Israel as a partisan issue in American domestic politics. The Ambassador stressed that bipartisan support for Israel is a strategic national interest for the State of Israel.”

Republicans have repeatedly attempted to use Israel as a partisan issue. Whatever Romney meant when he said he’d “do the opposite” of President Obama on Israel, there is no way to interpret his statement as anything but the opposite of bipartisanship. And if accusing President Obama of “throwing Israel under the bus” even as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called US military and intelligence support for Israel under President Obama unprecedented isn’t playing politics with Israel, I don’t know what is.

So while it’s true that Oren did not specifically call out Republicans, it’s also true that Republicans are engaging in exactly the behavior that Oren so rightly condemned. I was in the room. It was obvious that’s what Wasserman Schultz meant. And good for her for speaking up.

But what about the troop exercises? Someone asked me about this in shul too. Some have suggested that the US is sending Israel a signal because the number of US troops participating in an upcoming major joint military exercise with Israel is smaller than originally planned.  The reality is that the exercises were moved at the request of Israel from the spring to the fall. At that time the administration told Israel that if the date was changed, then due to troop rotations the number participating would be a bit smaller.  Time reported that only 1500 US troops would participate, but the actual number is about 3,000.

Crossposted courtesy of Steve Sheffey’s Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update.

Capital Crime? Walking the Party Plank on Jerusalem

— Marsha B. Cohen, Ph.D.

It is unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama’s shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital,

declared Mitt Romney on September 4.

The deletion of a single sentence about Jerusalem in the Democratic platform, which reportedly had been vetted by officials from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), generated hysterical headlines that went viral and ricocheted throughout cyberspace, arousing panic among Democrats and glee among Republicans. (The Democrats reinserted the language on September 5 after President Obama “intervened directly.”)

Ironically, affirming Jerusalem’s status as the capital of Israel and the importance of relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has been a largely Democratic strategy for nearly four decades, particularly when there has been an incumbent Republican president in the White House. Republicans latch on to it whenever a Democratic president is running for re-election.

Some historical perspective after the jump.
The Democratic party’s 1976 platform was the first to stipulate:

We recognize and support the established status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with free access to all its holy places provided to all faiths. As a symbol of this stand, the U.S. Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

This stance was reiterated in the 1980 and 1984 platforms. In 1983, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan called for relocating of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, in a bill co-sponsored by fifty senators. When State Department officials in the Reagan administration objected that moving the Embassy would strain diplomatic ties with Arab countries, Moynihan did not press for a vote. No mention of Jerusalem whatsoever was made in the Democratic platform in 1988, in the wake of Secretary of State George Shultz’s sharp criticism of Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis for suggesting that, if elected President, he would consider transferring the Embassy to Jerusalem. “It’s shocking that anybody would make such a proposal,” the Reagan administration’s chief spokesman on foreign policy told NBC’s Today show. Since Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights “are regarded as occupied territory” and are “subject to negotiations” according to Shultz, who deemed any notion of moving the Embassy a “mistake.”

But Jerusalem was back in the 1992 Democratic platform, a seeming non sequitur tacked on to the Middle East Peace plank, minus the call for moving the US Embassy:

The United States must act effectively as an honest broker in the peace process. It must not, as has been the case with this Administration, encourage one side to believe that it will deliver unilateral concessions from the other. Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel and should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.

Republicans were the latecomers to the Jerusalem capital-ism game. The GOP’s 1976 platform made no mention of Jerusalem. The 1980, 1984 and 1988 Republican platforms all declared that “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city with continued free and unimpeded access to all holy places by people of all faiths.” The same assertion appeared in the 1992 platform, followed by the coy sentence, “No genuine peace would deny Jews the right to live anywhere in the special city of Jerusalem.”

With a popular Democratic president in the White House, it was the Republicans’ turn to play the Jerusalem capital card. On October 24, 1995, the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Implementation Act, introduced by Republican Sen. Bob Dole (who just happened to be running for president), passed the Senate (S. 1323) in a 93-5 and the House (H.R. 1595) 374-37. President Clinton signed the bill two weeks later. The overwhelming bi-partisan support for the measure did not prevent Republicans from taking full credit, gloating in the 1996 GOP platform:

We applaud the Republican Congress for enacting legislation to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. A Republican administration will ensure that the U.S. Embassy is moved to Jerusalem by May 1999.

Clinton won the 1996 election. The US Embassy stayed in Tel Aviv. Then the 2000 Republican platform became even more strident:

The United States has a moral and legal obligation to maintain its Embassy and Ambassador in Jerusalem. Immediately upon taking office, the next Republican president will begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.

Nevertheless the Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, who had publicly pledged to thousands of attendees at AIPAC’s 2000 Annual Policy Conference that on his first day in office he would move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, did not do so after winning the election. Not on his first day, not on his last day, and at no point in between. The Republican platform in 2004 stayed low key, noting, “Republicans continue to support moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.”

Democrats stuck with their tried-and-true 1992 formulation in 1996, in 2000, in 2004, and in 2008, reiterating the city’s status as Israel’s capital and the right of people of all faiths to access it. Ironically, Republicans framed their mega-affirmation of Jerusalem being Israel’s capital in 2008 with an endorsement of the creation of a Palestinian state, which went largely unnoticed by the media:

We support the vision of two democratic states living in peace and security: Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, and Palestine…We support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to that undivided capital of Israel.

Two democratic states living side by side! Uri Friedman points out that such language “provoked a raft of amendments arguing that, in endorsing the two-state solution, the Republicans were dictating the terms of a peace agreement to the Israeli government.”

Israelis have for the most part been amused by, even cynical about, the overblown rhetoric about Jerusalem in US elections. As Douglas Bloomfield explained four years ago, when GOP presidential candidate John McCain told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that if elected president he would move the US Embassy “right away,” not only wasn’t it going to happen — regardless of who was elected — but Israelis wouldn’t care either way:

Moving the embassy has never been a high priority for any Israeli leader in meetings with American presidents. They see it as a political football in an American game they prefer staying out of. All recent prime ministers have understood that an agreement on Jerusalem is critical to any peace settlement with the Palestinians — and that symbolic action like American politicians trying to force the embassy move can only make an agreement more elusive. But the game continues even though seasoned political observers understand it’s a sham. This year is no exception. Any politician who tells you he’s going to move the embassy before the Israelis and Palestinians come to an agreement on the city’s final status and borders thinks you’re wearing a name tag that says ‘chump.’

No prominent Democrat seems to know why the reference to Jerusalem was deleted in 2012. What is certain, however, is the fact that for the past 35 years the role of Jerusalem in both party platforms has had no practical effect in Israel, except perhaps to distract from – and thus implicitly condone – the unilateral Israeli tripling in size of the area within the municipal boundaries of “united Jerusalem” between 1967 and today. Politicizing the holy city has been one way that both American parties have tried to score points against the opposition, a distraction from more complex and urgent issues in US domestic and foreign policy. This year is no exception.

Meanwhile, Republicans seem to have soured on their “Embassy Sweets” commitment to moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. That the 2012 GOP platform has dropped the call for the Embassy’s relocation has gone almost totally unnoticed by the ever-distracted media, except, oddly, by the Wall Street Journal.

Apparently Romney didn’t get the memo.

Crossposted from lobelog Foreign Policy blog.

If I Forget Thee O Jerusalem: Both Parties Weaken Platform

GOP Weakens Israel Language in 2012 Party Platform

— by David A. Harris

Today we’re learning that the Republican Party removed strong language pertaining to Israel and Jerusalem from their party platform between 2008 and 2012, yet they have the temerity to point fingers at Democrats and President Barack Obama — the leader who has built a stellar pro-Israel record of accomplishment. Their hypocrisy is stunning, but not surprising.

In 2008, the GOP platform noted, ‘We support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to that undivided capital of Israel.’ In 2012, that language was gone. No reference to an undivided capital, no reference to America’s embassy — gone. Does this mean the Republican Party is suddenly anti-Israel? Of course not. But it does mean that GOP leaders pointing fingers are wildly hypocritical — given this change and others.

The original media report, according to Buzzfeed, appears below:

Republicans Also Dialed Back Platform’s Israel Language
The missing language: “Undivided” Jerusalem and an embassy move.
Democrats under fire for a similar move.

With Democrats trying to put out a fire around the party platform’s lack of specific language backing Israel that appeared in the 2008 version, a Democratic source points out that Republicans also toned down elements of their stance on Israel in the document.

A close ally of Mitt Romney, Jim Talent, beat back an attempt at the platform committee to remove a reference to the two-state solution last month.

There are also elements of the 2008 Republican platform absent from the 2012 version.

The key sentence present in 2008 and missing in 2012 is:

“We support Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to that undivided capital of Israel.”

In both parties’ cases, the revisions don’t seem to reflect a dramatic policy shift, but rather attempts by party leadership to avoid foreign policy commitments in the non-binding political document.

Update
In the first order of business today at the Democratic National Convention, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland moved to amend the 2012 Democratic platform to add the sentence: “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” A voice vote was called by DNC Chairman and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The delegates approved by more than the required two-thirds majority, so the amendment was adopted.

Correction of Correction Still Incorrect: If I Forget Thee Jerusalem

In April, we published an article by CAMERA about a correction The Guardian, a British national daily newspaper based in London, issued for a photo caption appearing on April 20 which inadvertently revealed that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel.

On April 23, The Guardian issued this correction:

The caption on a photograph featuring passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observing a two-minute silence for Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: “Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is”.

Pressure continues to mount against the Guardian,

The watchdog group HonestReporting filed a complaint with the UK Press Complaints Commission, which ruled that the newspaper could refer to Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital and was not in breach of accuracy clauses.

HonestReporting then launched legal proceedings against the commission.

Under pressure from the commission, The Guardian issued a correction and changed its style guide. The correction does, however, assert that Israel’s designation of Jerusalem as its capital is not recognized by the international community.

The correction issued Wednesday by The Guardian reads:

A correction to a picture caption said we should not have described Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. It went on to relay the advice in our style guide that the capital was Tel Aviv. In 1980 the Israeli Knesset enacted a law designating the city of Jerusalem, including East Jerusalem, as the country’s capital. In response, the UN Security Council issued resolution 478, censuring the ‘change in character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem’ and calling on all member states with diplomatic missions in the city to withdraw. The UN has reaffirmed this position on several occasions, and almost every country now has its embassy in Tel Aviv. While it was therefore right to issue a correction to make clear Israel’s designation of Jerusalem as its capital is not recognized by the international community, we accept that it is wrong to state that Tel Aviv — the country’s financial and diplomatic centre — is the capital. The style guide has been amended accordingly.

This “correction” actually creates more confusion than it clears up. The 1980 Jerusalem Law does extend the border of Jerusalem to include East Jerusalem. However, the law does not make Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

It was already the capital of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Ben Gurion declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel on January 4, 1950.

Jerusalem is not only the capital city of Israel and of world Jewry, it should also become, according to the word of the prophets, the spiritual capital of the entire world.

Shortly thereafter on January 23, 1950, the Knesset confirmed this choice.

If other countries object to Israel having annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, this should not have any impact on whether or not Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Except for a brief period in 1949, the Knesset has always convened in West Jerusalem. Claiming that Jerusalem is not the seat of Israel’s government is simply being blind to reality.

Furthermore, even if one is somehow grant that Israel has no right to choose its own capital. What gives The Guardian the right to choose Israel’s capital in its place? Tel Aviv is no more the capital of Israel than is Haifa or Eilat or London for that matter.

“Correction”: The first paragraph of this article wrongly referred to London as the place of publication of The Guardian. The “Philadelphia Jewish Voice style guide” states: “London is not the headquarters of The Guardian; Tel Aviv is”.

ECI Supports Romney Not Israel

— by David A. Harris

The motivation behind the so-called Emergency Committee for Israel’s newest ad can be summed up by its last line’s inclusion of ‘President Mitt Romney.’ If their previous behavior — including one of their founders appearing at a Romney fundraising retreat — wasn’t enough to show that their focus is only about electing a Republican president, then their cover is certainly blown today. ECI is not concerned with supporting Israel or adhering to the long-standing norms of the pro-Israel community. The Emergency Committee for Israel is a fraud — plain and simple.

What’s more, ECI’s top leader William Kristol publicly said recently, ‘I’m happy to sit here and agree with President Obama to a considerable degree’ about Israel — further evidence of the cynicism of their campaign to elect a Republican. And when it comes to Jerusalem, the position they’re criticizing is one carried out of course by the Bush Administration, and administrations before it as well. Given their long history of lying, ECI’s ads should be rejected by networks and ignored by voters.

AFP, When the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty?

While some are raising concerns about the future of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty now that the Muslim Brotherhood candidate has won Egypt’s presidential race, AFP has a different issue with the historic bilateral agreement. Today AFP refers to “1980, the year after Cairo signed its peace agreement with Tel Aviv.” (Emphasis added.)

AFP would hardly be the first to relocate Israel’s capital from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, but the misinformation is all the more jarring in light of then-President Anwar Sadat’s unprecedented trip to Jerusalem in 1978, paving the way to the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement.

Perhaps AFP would do well to review its own archives from that time, including this AFP photograph of Sadat addressing the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in the capital city, Jerusalem:

AFP’s own caption reads:

Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat (L) addresses the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in Jerusalem 20 November 1977 during his historic visit to Israel, as Israeli Premier Yitzhak Begin (C) listens to him. Thirty years ago, the Egyptian leader became the first Arab leader to visit the Jewish state. AFP PHOTO/FILES

Anwar Sadat’s obituary in the New York Times states:

Eleven days before Mr. Sadat made his trip to Jerusalem, he said in Cairo that he was willing to go to ”the ends of the earth,” and even to the Israeli Parliament, in the cause of peace. The Israeli Government made known that he was welcome in Jerusalem, and after complex negotiations he flew there, although a state of war still existed between the two nations.

His eyes were moist and his lips taut with suppressed emotion as he arrived, but his Arabic was firm and resonant when, hours later, he told the hushed Israeli Parliament, ”If you want to live with us in this part of the world, in sincerity I tell you that we welcome you among us with all security and safety.

In 1978, the leader of the Egyptian nation, which at the time was in a state of war with Israel, could bring himself to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but in 2012, AFP cannot?

Reprinted from CAMERA

Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut


Above left: The remembrance ceremony at Jerusalem’s Western Wall honoring Israel’s 22,993 victims of war and terrorism.
Above right: Cartoon courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen www.DryBonesBlog. blogspot.com.

Letter from US President Barack Obama to Israeli President Shimon Peres

Dear Mr. President:

On the 64th anniversary of Israel’s independence on April 26, I wish to extend warmest regards and congratulations on behalf of the American people.

Based on shared values and interests, the bonds between our two countries are deep and strong. In a time of momentous change, the United States remains steadfast in its commitment to Israel’s security and a comprehensive peace in the region.

As we work together to pursue common goals and meet shared challenges, I wish the State of Israel continued prosperity and a peaceful future.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

If I Forget Thee Jerusalem…

The Guardian: “Jerusalem is not the Capital of Israel, Tel Aviv is”

CAMERA and many others routinely expose the subterfuge at the heart of The Guardian‘s coverage of Israel. This deceit was clearly demonstrated in a correction issued for a photo caption appearing on April 20 which inadvertently revealed that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel.

On April 23, The Guardian issued this correction:

The caption on a photograph featuring passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observing a two-minute silence for Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: “Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is”.

Israel’s Knesset and government resides in Jerusalem. That is a material fact. The Guardian could have remained consistent with its hostile stance towards Israel by stating that the paper does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But to deny reality by stating that Tel Aviv is the capital, when it demonstrably is not, provides an example of a news source allowing dogma to overrule physical reality. It is even more ironic that the photo caption dealt with the Holocaust, an incontrovertible reality subject to denial by individuals inimically hostile to Jewish interests.

Reprinted courtesy of CAMERA
Image with “corrected” caption

Welcome Supreme Court Decision On Jerusalem Passport Case

The Supreme Court of the United States directed the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to decide on the constitutionality of a case regarding whether Americans born in Jerusalem may cite Israel as their birthplace on their U.S. passport.

Ari Zivotofsky and Naomi Siegman Zivotofsky, parents of their Jerusalem-born son Menachem, have fought for years to convince the U.S. State Department to allow their son to designate Israel as his place of birth on his passport, citing a 2002 law passed by Congress. Though the law was signed, it was never implemented due to State Department concerns that indicating “Israel” as the birthplace of a U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem would amount to an official U.S. statement about Jerusalem’s status.

More after the jump.

B’nai B’rith was one of 10 major Jewish organizations to file a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the family. “There’s no reason why Israel cannot be named as one’s country of birth. Omitting this fact changes a fundamental part of one’s identity,” said Allan J. Jacobs, president of B’nai B’rith International. “By only allowing a child to name a city, not a country, as a birthplace, is denying that child the right to have a country of origin. It should not be up to the U.S. government to determine what cities fall within the borders of a given country.”

Today’s 8-1 decision overruled lower court decisions that had argued this case does not fall under the jurisdiction of the judiciary because the courts are not responsible for determining foreign policy. State Department policy states that passports of American citizens born in Jerusalem can only identify “Jerusalem” as their place of birth, not “Israel.”

“A passport is a document of identity, not a foreign policy manifesto,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “Americans born in Israel-whether in Jerusalem or elsewhere in the country-have the right to acknowledge Israel as their birthplace.”