Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel initiative”
Based on ancient Jewish sages, September 26, 2023
1. Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles (September 30 – October 7, 2023) derives its name from the first stop of the Exodus – the town of Sukkot – as documented in Exodus 13:20-22 and Numbers 33:3-5. Sukkot was also the name of Jacob’s first stop west of the Jordan River, upon returning to the Land of Israel from his 20 years of work for Laban in Aram (Genesis 33:17).
2. Sukkot is a Jewish national liberation holiday, commemorating the Biblical Exodus, and the transition of the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt to liberty, the ongoing Jewish ingathering to the Land of Israel, and sovereignty in the Land of Israel, which inspired the US Founding Fathers and the Abolitionist Movement.
The construction of the Holy Tabernacle, during the Exodus, was launched on the first day of Sukkot (full moon).
3. Sukkot is the 3rd 3,300-year-old Jewish pilgrimage holiday (following Passover and Shavou’ot/Pentecost), highlighting faith, reality-based-optimism, can-do mentality and the defiance of odds. It is also the 3rd major Jewish holiday – following Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – in the month of Tishrei, the holiest Jewish month. According to Judaism, 3 represents divine wisdom, stability and peace. In addition, the 3rd day of the Creation was blessed twice; God appeared on Mt. Sinai 3 days after Moses’ ascension of the mountain; there are 3 parts to the Bible (the Torah, Prophets and Writings); the 3 Jewish Patriarchs; the 3 annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem, etc. 3 is the total sum of the basic odd (1) and even (2) numbers, symbolizing strength: “a three-strand cord is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
4. Sukkot underscores the gradual transition from the spiritual state-of-mind during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to the mundane of the rest of the year, and from religious tenets of Judaism to the formation of the national, historic and geographical Jewish identity.
5. The 7 days of Sukkot – which is celebrated in the 7th Jewish month, Tishrei – are dedicated to 7 supreme guests-in-spirit and notable care-takers (Ushpizin in Aramaic and Hebrew): Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David. They were endowed with faith, reality-based-optimism, humility, magnanimity, principle-driven leadership, compassion, tenacity in the face of daunting odds and peace-through-strength.
6. Sukkot features the following four species (Leviticus 23:39-41): 1 citron (representing King David, the author of Psalms), 1 palm branch (representing Joseph), 3 myrtle branches (representing the three Patriarchs) and 2 willow branches (representing Moses and Aharon, the role models of humility), which are bonded together, representing the unity-through-diversity and strength-through-unity.
They embody four leadership prerequisites: a solid backbone (palm branch), humility (willow), a compassionate heart (citron) and penetrating eyes (myrtle).
These species also represent the agricultural regions of the Land of Israel: the southern Negev and Arava (palm); the slopes of the northern Golan Heights, Upper Galilee and Mt. Carmel (myrtle); the streams of the central mountains of Judea and Samaria, including Jerusalem (willow); and the western coastal plain (citron).
7. Traditionally, Sukkot is dedicated to the study of the Biblical Scroll of Ecclesiastes (Kohelet, קהלת in Hebrew, which was one of King Solomon’s names), written by King Solomon, which highlights humility, morality, patience, learning from past mistakes, commemoration and historical perspective, family, friendship, long-term thinking, proper timing, realism and knowledge.
The late Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), the longest serving US Senator, often quoted Biblical verses, in general, and Ecclesiastes, in particular. For example, on November 7, 2008, upon retirement from the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he stated: “’To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.’ Those Biblical words from Ecclesiastes 3:1 express my feelings about this particular time in my life.” On September 9, 1998, Senator Byrd made the following Senate floor remarks on the Lewinsky affair: “As the book of Ecclesiastes plainly tells us, ‘There is no new thing under the sun.’ Time seems to be turning backwards in its flight. And, many of the mistakes that President Nixon made are being made all over again.”
8. During the holiday of Sukkot, it is customary to highlight humility by experiencing a seven-day-relocation from one’s permanent dwelling to the temporary, humble, wooden booth (Sukkah in Hebrew) – which sheltered the people of Israel during the Exodus.
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
Based on ancient Jewish Sages, September 20, 2023
1. Soul searching. Yom Kippur is observed on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei(September 25, 2023). It is called the Super Sabbath (Shabbat Shabbaton in Hebrew), concluding 10 days of soul-searching and spiritual self-awareness and self-enhancement, which begins on Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the Jewish year.
According to Leviticus 23:26-32: “The Lord said to Moses, that the tenth day of the seventh month [Tishrei] is the Day of Atonement…. Do not do any work on that day…. This is a lasting ordinance for generations to come….”
Yom Kippur commemorates the day of divine forgiveness for the sin of worshipping the golden calf idol. It cautions against the temptation to sacrifice spiritual values on the altar of materialism and convenience.
2. Social responsibility. Asking forgiveness of fellow human-beings is a major feature of Yom Kippur, transferring human behavior from acrimony and vindictiveness to forgiveness and peaceful coexistence. It is consistent with the philosophy of Hillel the Elder, a leading 1st century BCE Jewish Sage: “The essence of the Torah is: do not do unto your fellow person that which is hateful to you; the rest [of the Torah] is commentary.”
3. No ill-speaking. According to Judaism, the tongue can be a lethal weapon, and therefore, ill-speaking of other people (“evil tongue” in Hebrew) may not be forgiven. Yom Kippur is a reminder that words are controllable while inside one’s mouth, but they become uncontrollable once they are uttered out.
4. Behavioral enhancement. Yom Kippur highlights magnanimity, humility, genuine-repentance, compassion, consideration, forgiveness, responsibility, optimism and faith. It recognizes one’s fallibilities, emphasizes learning from one’s mistakes, minimizing future missteps, elevating morality and enhancing family and community cohesion.
Criminals and sinners are invited to participate in Yom Kippur services.
5. Fasting is a key feature of Yom Kippur, reducing material pleasure, in order to focus on one’s soul-searching, and enhancing empathy with the needy. The Hebrew spelling of fasting [צומ] is the root of the Hebrew word for reducing/focusing ((צמצומ.
There are six annual Jewish fasting days: (a) the 10th day of the month of Tishrei is Yom Kippur; (b) the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tevet commemorates the beginning of the 586-589 BCE siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar; (c) the 17th day of the month of Tammuz commemorates the 586 BCE and 69 CE breaching of Jerusalem’s walls by the Babylonian and Roman Empires, as well as the breaking of the Tablets by Moses upon confronting the golden calf lapse of faith; (d) the 9th day of the month of Av is the most calamitous day in Jewish history, commemorating the destruction of the 1st (586 BCE) and 2nd (70 CE) Jerusalem Temples by the Babylonian and Roman Empires and the ensuing exile; the Ten Spies’ bankruptcy of faith; the crushing of the 132-135 CE Bar Kokhbah Revolt by the Roman Emperor Adrianus (600,000 Jewish fatalities); the pogroms of the First Crusade (1096-1099) in Germany, France, Italy and Britain; the expulsion of the Jews from Britain (1290) and Spain (1492); the eruption of the First World War (1914); and the beginning of the 1942 deportation of Warsaw Ghetto Jews to the Treblinka extermination camp; (e) the 3rd day of the month of Tishrei commemorates the murder of the Jewish Governor of Jerusalem, Gedalyah Ben Achikam, by another Jew, Yishmael Ben Netanyah (586 BCE); (f) The 13th day of the month of Adar is the Fast of Queen Esther – one day before the Purim holiday, commemorating Queen Esther’s three-day-fast prior to her appeal to the Persian King Ahasuerus to refrain from exterminating the Jews (around 480 BCE).
6. Kippur. The Hebrew word Kippur [כיפור] means atonement/repentance – a derivative of the Biblical word Kaporet [כפורת], which was the dome/cover of the Holy Ark in the Sanctuary, and the word Kopher [כופר], which was the cover/dome of Noah’s Ark and the Holy Altar in the Jerusalem Temple.
Yom Kippur resembles a spiritual cover/dome, which separates between spiritualism and materialism/mundane. The Kippah [ [כיפהis the skullcap – a spiritual dome – which covers one’s head during prayers.
7. Venus/Noga. The astrological sign of Tishrei is Libra (♎), which symbolizes the scales of justice, truth, optimism, humility and tolerance. Libra is ruled by the planet Venus (Noga in Hebrew – נגה– which is the name of my oldest granddaughter). Venus/Noga represents divine light and compassion.
8. Shofar. Yom Kippur is concluded by blowing theShofar (a ritual ram’s horn), which represents a moral-wakeup-call, optimism, determination, humility, and peace-through-strength.
The Hebrew word Shofar שופר]] means “to enhance,” “top quality,” glory and spiritual pleasure [שפר, שופרא].
The blowing of the Shofar commemorates the saving of Isaac by a ram’s horns; the receipt of the (second) Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai; the re-entry to the Land of Israel and the conquest of Jericho by Joshua; as well as Gideon’s victory over the much larger Midianite military.
9. Jonah. The Biblical Scroll of Jonah – which is the fifth book in The Twelve Prophets – is read on Yom Kippur, underscoring the four universal pillars of Yom Kippur: repentance, prayer/faith, justice, and forgiveness.
The Prophet Jonah (“dove” in Hebrew), son of Amitai (“truth” in Hebrew and the name of my – so far – youngest grandson) sailed to a faraway land and transformed a sinful society into a pious society; thus, displaying social responsibility.
10. Parents. A Memorial Candle in memory of one’s parents is lit on Yom Kippur, reaffirming “Honor thy father and mother,” providing an opportunity to ask forgiveness of one’s parent(s).
President Biden meets/pressures Prime Minister Netanyahu
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
September 18, 2023
The September 20, 2023 meeting
On Wednesday, September 20, 2023, President Biden will meet Prime Minister Netanyahu in order to intensify the pressure on Israel to refrain from an independent military action against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Biden will, also, pressure Netanyahu to make significant concessions to the Palestinian Authority, which would facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Should/could Prime Minister Netanyahu repel President Biden’s pressure?
Does President Biden’s pressure advance regional stability and US interests?
US pressure has been an integral part of US-Israel relations since 1948. In hindsight, it resembles bumps in the road of staggering, mutually-beneficial US-Israel cooperation, militarily and commercially, which has yielded substantial benefits to the US economy and defense.
In most cases, the pressure has been defied by Israel, triggering short term friction, but long term strengthened US strategic appreciation of Israel.
For instance, at the end of a 1991 meeting between Prime Minister Shamir and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, Senators George Mitchell and Bob Dole, which was replete with disagreements, the latter said: “Mr. Prime Minister, do you know why the Majority Leader and I absolutely disagree with you, but immensely respect you? Because you’re tough!”
On a rainy day, the US prefers a strong backboned, principle-driven ally, who does not succumb to pressure, refusing to sacrifice long term historic and national security assets on the altar of short term diplomatic, economic and strategic convenience.
Israel’s defiance of pressure benefits the US
In fact, Israeli defiance of US pressure – which has been mostly instigated by the State Department’s misreading of the Middle East – has spared the US major setbacks. For example:
*If Israel had surrendered to US pressure in 1981 and 2007, it would not have destroyed nuclear reactors in Iraq and Syria, which spared the US, Saudi Arabia and other pro-US oil-producing Arab countries a traumatic 1990-91 confrontation with a nuclear Saddam Hussein. It, also, eliminated the horrific option of a nuclear civil war in Syria, a nuclear ISIS or a nuclear Assad.
*If Israel had succumbed to pressure in 1948-49, to withdraw to the suicidal lines of the “1947 Partition Plan,” Israel would not have evolved into the most effective force-multiplier for the US. This spared the US the necessity of deploying more aircraft carriers and ground troops in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean, saving an annual cost of mega billions of dollars.
*If Israel had submitted to US pressure in 1967, it would not have pre-empted and crushed the Soviet-backed Egypt-Syria-Jordan military offensive, expunging the Egyptian-Soviet drive to topple all pro-US Arab oil-producing regimes. This would have devastated the US economy and national security, at a time when the US was heavily dependent on Persian Gulf oil.
*If Israel had not fended off severe US pressure and refrained from the application of Israeli law to the Golan Heights, and eventually retreating from the Golan Heights, it would not have been able to constrain Russian, Iranian and Syrian maneuverability in Syria and Lebanon, while bolstering the defense of the pro-US Hashemite regime in Jordan, which has enhanced US interests.
*If Israel had not stood up to US pressure, allowing the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River, it would have led to the toppling of the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the Jordan River, transforming Jordan into an uncontrollable platform of anti-US Islamic terrorism, posing a lethal threat to all pro-US oil-producing Arab regimes. This would have upgraded the stature of Iran, Russia and China at the expense of the US economy, national security and homeland security.
The bottom line
Principle-driven defiance of US pressure is critical to Israel’s posture of deterrence, which is a major component of the US posture in the Middle East, generating stability and deterring anti-US rogue entities.
Moreover, Israeli failure to fend off pressure yields more pressure, which would erode Israel’s posture of deterrence, intensifying terror and war and destabilizing the Middle East at the expense of Israel, the pro-US Arab regimes and the US economy and defense.
Israel-Saudi accord and Israel’s control of Judea & Samaria (video)
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
September 15, 2023, https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/377022
*The platform of an Israel-Saudi accord is the volcanic, violent and unpredictably tenuous Middle East, not Western Europe or No. America;
*Saudi Arabia is driven by Saudi – not Palestinian – interests;
*Unlike the State Department, Saudi Arabia accords much weight to the rogue Palestinian track record in the intra-Arab arena, and therefore limits its support of the proposed Palestinian state to (mostly) talk, not to walk; *An accord with Saudi Arabia – in the shifty, tenuous Middle East – is not a major component of Israel’s national security. On the other hand, Israel’s control of the mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria is a prerequisite for Israel’s survival in the inherently turbulent, intolerantly violent Middle East, which features tenuous regimes, and therefore tenuous policies and accords.
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