by APN's Summer Intern, Hannah Ehlers
This week’s Torah portion (Korach, Numbers 16:1-18:32) concerns the dangers of complacency and the unfairness of acting at the expense of others, matters relevant to events in Israel today. Korach leads a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. 250 followers join Korach to challenge the leadership of Moses and Aaron, demanding priesthood in addition to the “service of the tabernacle of God” (Numbers 16:9) to which they, as Levites, are already assigned. These actions by Korach and his cohorts, and the lack of opposition by the greater community, ultimately result in immense suffering—the earth swallows Korach and his men and a deadly plague spreads through the Israelite community.
God initially sought to destroy the entire community as punishment for Korach and his followers’ sins. But Moses and Aaron pleaded for fairness: “O God, Source of the spirit of all flesh! When one man sins, will You be wrathful with the whole community?” (Numbers 16:22). God relented and instructed the prophets to tell the Israelites to “depart… from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away in all their sins” (Numbers 16:26). Besides the 250 men with Korach, the rest of the community is largely uninvolved in the conflict between the rebels and the prophets. God views the community’s indifference as betrayal and demands that they act.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is getting a raw deal. That’s the line being peddled by Elliot Abrams, who has emerged in recent months as one of the staunchest U.S. defenders of Netanyahu’s settlement policy. Rather than bury Netanyahu with criticism for expanding settlements, Abrams argue, the world should praise him for his unrecognized settlement restraint. The facts, Abrams insists, tell the story – facts that Abrams cherry-picks and spins to build a case that is pure fiction.
The following article by Peace Now's Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer, headlined The Bloody Shrapnel, was published in today's edition of the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth:
We had good reason to keep our fingers crossed during the negotiations in hope of a breakthrough; we had good reason to pull our hair out when the minister of housing kept issuing tenders for settlement construction; we had good reason to be angry when we saw the footage of the unjustified shooting in Bituniya; we had good reason to become angrier when the government ignored the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike. It was obvious that the despair, the hate, the hostility and the anger on the Palestinian side would find their way out.
We knew that time is not on our side, and that this was a matter of crucial decisions and human lives. Seven years of quiet, in which we could have improved our relations with the Palestinians and achieved a peace agreement, had been wasted.
Americans for Peace Now (APN) today expressed deep concern for the safety of the three Israeli Yeshiva students who were kidnapped last Friday in the West Bank. Our hearts and prayers are with the three and with their families. We stand in solidarity with their families and the people of Israel.
APN is also concerned about the possible repercussions of the crisis and calls on all parties involved to do their utmost to ensure that the three return home unharmed and that their abduction does not further exacerbate an already volatile situation.
This week, Alpher discusses what we should focus on with regard to the abduction-settlement link; if there is any link between the abduction, presumably by Palestinian Islamist extremists, and the military successes last week of the ISIS salafi group in Iraq; how all this will affect the Palestinian unity government experiment; and how the election of Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin as president of Israel last week will affect the Israeli political discussion of settlements and the two-state solution.
Veteran Israeli journalist Danny Rubinstein, who has been covering Palestinian affairs for Israeli daily newspapers since 1967, shared his observations on current Israeli-Palestinian relations in perspective of 47 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
On the 47th Anniversary of the Occupation: Time for Hard Truths, Tough Actions
Forty-seven years ago this week, Israel won a stunning victory in the 1967 War. This was not a war of Israel’s choice or making. It was a defensive war, with Israel facing threats by armies from countries on all sides seeking Israel’s destruction. Repelling and defeating these armies, Israel sent a resounding message to the region and the world: we are here to stay.
Israel’s victory in the 1967 War left it with a pressing question: what to do with the additional land now under its control: the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights. As recognized by many Israelis – and demonstrated in the Camp David Accords with Egypt – these lands offered Israel the opportunity to normalize its position in the region through agreements with its Arab neighbors, based on the principle of land for peace.
Forty-seven years later, such normalization remains a distant dream. Rather than act in good faith to seek agreements based on land-for-peace, for 47 years successive Israeli governments have actively and passively collaborated with Israel’s own extremists in their efforts to take land-for-peace off the table in favor of fulfilling their own grandiose, messianic vision of Greater Israel. And now they’ve succeeding in killing what many believed was the best chance for a negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinians that has ever existed, and the best chance that may exist for a long time to come.
This week, Alpher discusses how the Netanyahu government plans to deal with the anomaly of its position vis-a-vis the new Palestinian government and the proposals and counter-proposals for unilateral and bilateral initiatives which are everywhere in the Netanyahu government; last weekend's dramatic withdrawal from the race of Binyamin (Fuad) Ben Eliezer, who had suddenly come under suspicion of receiving bribes and and when will the corruption trail end; who among the candidates benefits from Ben Eliezer's departure; and how dangerous is it that Palestinian prisoners under administrative detention in Israeli jails are on hunger strike, demanding to be charged and tried and why does administration detention exist in Israel?