General

The Ben Gurion Legacy: Independent National Security Policy

The Ben Gurion legacy contradicts conventional wisdom. It rejects the assumption that a White House “green light” is a prerequisite for the application of Israeli law to the Jordan Valley and the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria (West Bank).

Ben Gurion’s May 14, 1948 Declaration of Independence was not preconditioned upon a “green light” from President Truman. Ben Gurion demonstrated independence of national security action in defiance of the US State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Furthermore, President Truman was irresolute until the day of the declaration, while the US Mission to the UN was preoccupied with rounding up votes for a UN Trusteeship in Palestine (instead of an independent Jewish State).

Moreover, Ben Gurion applied Israeli law to areas in the Galilee, coastal plain, the Negev and Jerusalem – which were acquired during Israel’s War of Independence, expanding Israel’s land by 30% – in defiance of a glaring “red light” from the White House and the entire foreign policy and national security establishment in Washington, DC.

According to James McDonald, the first US Ambassador to Israel: “[Ben Gurion] warned President Truman and the US Department of State that they would be gravely mistaken if they assumed that the threat, or even the use of sanctions, would force Israel to yield on issues considered vital to its independence and security…. Much as Israel desired friendship with the US, there were limits beyond which it could not go.  Israel could not yield at any point which, in its judgement, would threaten its independence or its security.  The very fact that Israel was a small state made more necessary the scrupulous defense of its own interests; otherwise, it would be lost (My Mission in Israel 1948-1951, Simon and Schuster, p. 49)….

Ambassador McDonald wrote (Ibid., p. 84) that Ben Gurion was facing a powerful antagonistic coalition led by Secretary of State General George Marshall, Defense Secretary James Forrestal and the State Department “wise men,” including Undersecretary Robert Lovett, special counselor Charles Bohlen, Policy Planning Chief George Kennan, former Secretary Dean Acheson, Head of the UN Division Dean Rusk and Head of the Near East and Asia Bureau Loy Henderson. Initially, they opposed the establishment of the Jewish State, and then called for “a smaller Israel… cutting most of the Negev off from Israel, to be absorbed by Abdullah’s kingdom of Jordan, in exchange for western Galilee (which Israel had already occupied); demilitarization and internationalization of Jerusalem; permission by Israel for the return of Arab refugees and compensation by Israel to them for property loss…. Israel would be brought before the tribunal of the UN as a defendant….”

Ben Gurion applied Israeli law despite severe US pressure to retreat to the suicidal November 29, 1947 Partition Plan lines.  He rejected the immoral formula of “land-for-peace,” which would reward and refuel Arab aggression (aiming to annihilate the Jewish State) and punish the intended victim.

Ben Gurion’s response to US pressure was unflinching: “What Israel has won on the battlefield, it is determined not to yield at the council table (Ibid., p. 86)….”

Notwithstanding the sustained brutal pressure on Israel, Ambassador McDonald noted: “At the spring session of the UN General Assembly in Flushing Meadows, Israel was formally admitted [to the United Nations] – an interesting bit of evidence of the growth of respect for Israel (Ibid., p. 110)….”

President Truman’s pressure – joined by Britain and the UN – was endured, as recorded by Ambassador McDonald: “A very strong note [from] Truman to Ben Gurion…. It expressed deep disappointment at the failure to make any of the desired concessions on refugees or boundaries; interpreted Israel’s attitude as dangerous to peace and disregard of the UN resolutions of November 29, 1947 [borders] and December 11, 1949 [refugees and internationalization of Jerusalem]…. The operative part of the note was the implied threat that the US would reconsider its attitude toward Israel….

“Ben Gurion said shortly: ‘This will have to be answered.  It is very serious and very stiff….’ In effect, Ben Gurion said the note was unrealistic and unjust.  It ignored the facts that the UN Partition Resolution was no longer applicable, since its basic conditions had been destroyed by Arab aggression [military invasion], which the Jews successfully resisted…. The United States is a powerful country; Israel is a small and a weak one.  We can be crushed, but we will not commit suicide….”

“The State Department’s reply [to  Ben Gurion]… abandoned its stern tone…. Fists and knuckles were unclenched…. The United States was appreciative of Israel’s friendship for the US Government and people (Ibid., p. 181-184)….”

While Ben Gurion’s defiance caused occasional short-term tension, which undermined Israel’s popularity, he earned long-term respect for himself and for his country as documented by Ambassador McDonald: “[Ben Gurion was] small in stature, but big in spirit…. He has unfaltering faith in the future of Israel…. The Prime Minister had no fear.… Ben Gurion had the unusual courage to resist the popular clamor, when he was convinced that the public was mistaken…. The more I studied the manner in which he met the burdens placed upon him, the more convinced I became that he was one of the few great statesmen of our day.  He was frequently compared to the wartime figure of Winston Churchill; the comparison did not exaggerate the Prime Minister’s qualities of leadership (Ibid., p. 241-248)….”

The Ben Gurion legacy highlights the realization that:

*There are no free lunches in the pursuit of bolstered national security;

*Experiencing – and defiance of – brutal pressure is an integral feature of Jewish history;

*The cost of fending off severe pressure is a prerequisite for the fulfillment of a long-term vision;

*Indecisiveness, hesitation and retreat erodes one’s posture of deterrence, undermines one’s role as a strategic ally, and invites more pressure;

*Defiance of pressure yields strategic respect among allies, while deterring enemies.

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Demography

2024 artificially inflated Palestinian demography

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
March 25, 2024

Palestinian demographic numbers are highly-inflated, as documented by a study, which has audited the Palestinian data since 2004.  For example:

*500,000 Arabs, who have been away for over a year, are included in the census, contrary to international regulations. 325,000 were included in the 1997 census, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, and 400,000 in 2005, according to the Palestinian Election Commission. The number grows steadily due to births.

*350,000 East Jerusalem Arabs are doubly-counted – by Israel and by the Palestinian Authority. The number grows steadily due to births.

*Over 150,000 Arabs, who married Israeli Arabs are similarly doubly counted. The number expands steadily due to births.   

*A 413,000 net-emigration (since the 1997 first Palestinian census) is ignored by the Palestinian census, overlooking the annual net-emigration since 1950. A 23,445 net-emigration in 2022 and a 20,000 annual average in recent years have been documented by Israel’s Population and Migration Authority in all international passages.  

*A 32% artificial inflation of Palestinian births was documented by the World Bank (page 8, item 6) in a 2006 audit.

*The Judea & Samaria Arab fertility rate has been westernized: from 9 births per woman in the 1960s to 2.9 births in 2022 (In Jordan – similar to Judea & Samaria), reflecting the sweeping urbanization, a growing female enrollment in higher education, rising marriage age and the rising use of contraceptives.

*The number of deaths is under-reported for political and financial reasons.

*The aforementioned artificial inflation of 1.7 million documents a population of 1.55 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria, not the official 3.25 million. In 2024: a 69% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel, benefitting from a tailwind of fertility and net-immigration, while Arab demography is westernized. In 1947 and 1897: a 39% and 9% Jewish minority.
No Arab demographic time bomb; but, a Jewish demographic momentum. More data in these articles and this short video.

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Iran

Can Israel afford NOT to defy State Department pressure?

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
July 2, 2024

The current pressure on Israel

*Since Israel’s establishment in 1948 – which was ferociously opposed by the State Department, and tenaciously realized by Israel’s defiant Founding Father, David Ben Gurion – The State Department has systematically pressured Israel to act against its own assessment of its own national security requirements.  In fact, in most cases, Israel’s compliance with State Department pressure undermined the US’ own interests, while a defiant Israel spared a major setback to the US’ own interests.

*Since the horrific Hamas terrorism of October 7, 2023, the State Department – which subscribes to a worldview, contending that terrorism is driven by despair, and therefore should be confronted diplomatically and financially, not militarily – has intensified the pressure on Israel to refrain from militarily preempting Hezbollah, the chief proxy of Iran’s Ayatollahs.

*In addition, the State Department has pressured Israel to switch from fighting – to negotiating with – Hamas, a proxy of Iran’s Ayatollahs and a branch of the Moslem Brotherhood, which is the largest Sunni terror organization in the world.  The pressure has been exerted, notwithstanding Hezbollah’s and Hamas’ commitment to fanatic, Islamic anti-US ideologies – which transcend financial and diplomatic benefits – mandating the toppling of all pro-US Arab regimes, bringing the “infidel” West, and especially “the great American Satan” to submission. Moreover, Hezbollah’s and Hamas’ ideologies are committed to the uprooting of the “infidel” Jewish state – which is deemed by them as the Middle East beachhead of the US – as evidenced in Hezbollah’s and Hamas’ school curriculum, mosque sermons and systematic regional and global terrorism, which extends to Latin America and the US homeland.

*The State Department pressures Israel into another round of negotiation with Iran-controlled Hezbollah and Hamas, despite the fact that all previous agreements were violated, intensifying terrorism, transforming these two terror entities into the most fortified above-ground and under-ground terror states in the world, and paving the road to the October 7 massacre and the current Iran-orchestrated Hamas and Hezbollah wars on Israel.

More examples of State Department ill-advised pressure on Israel:

*In 2006, Israel bowed to State Department pressure, allowing the participation of Hamas in the Palestinian Authority election, which catapulted Hamas to unprecedented political stature in Gaza, Judea and Samaria. 

*In 2006, Israel complied with State Department pressure (assisted by Israeli clones of Foggy Bottom), ending its war against Hezbollah through UN Security Council Resolution 1701, rather than through the obliteration of Hezbollah’s military infrastructure. It solidified Hezbollah’s dominance in Lebanon and bolstered its role as a regional and global epicenter of terrorism and drug trafficking in the service of Iran’s Ayatollahs, as demonstrated by Hezbollah’s expanded foothold on US soil, and growing terror collaboration with the drug cartels of Mexico, Columbia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil.

*In 2000, the State Department offered an $800 MN inducement (which was never realized) for Israel’s intent to evacuate South Lebanon, which elevated Hezbollah into a dominant stature in Lebanon, and ushered in a 150,000 missile strong Hezbollah terror machine, fortified by a most advanced underground tunnel network, which may exceed Hamas’ tunnel complex.

*Since the 1993 establishment of the PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority, the State Department has promoted annual foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, while pressuring Israel to facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian state. This policy has been pursued irrespective of the core Palestinian ideology and its rogue daily conduct – which mandate the annihilation of Israel – as evidenced by the 1964 PLO charter, Palestinian hate education, mosque sermons, monthly allowances to families of terrorists and the Palestinian intra-Arab terrorism. Foggy Bottom ignores the potential impact of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan river: toppling the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the river, transforming Jordan into an epicenter of anti-US Islamic terrorism and destabilizing the pro-US Arabian Peninsula regimes – a setback to Western economy and national and homeland security.

*In 1981, the State Department pressured (and punished) Israel against bombing Iraq’s nuclear reactor.  Israel defied the pressure, which spared the US a potential nuclear confrontation in 1991, and snatched the pro-US Arab oil-producing regimes from the jaws of the anti-US Saddam Hussein.

*In 1973, the State Department pressured Israel, successfully, against preempting Egypt and Syria. Israel’s defiance of this pressure would have spared the region the costly war of October 1973.

*In 1967, the State Department pressured Israel against preempting Egypt and Syria.  Israel defied the pressure, devastated Egypt’s military force, which was involved in an attempt to topple all pro-US Arab oil-producing regimes, at a time when the US was heavily dependent upon Persian Gulf oil. Israel’s defiance spared the US a dramatic national security and economic blow.

Israel’s survival requires defiance of State Department pressure   

*Israeli compliance with State Department pressure would snatch Hamas from the jaws of obliteration and would be perceived – in the Middle East – as a dramatic victory for Islamic terrorism. It would escalate the lethal threat (from the Moslem Brotherhood and Iran’s Ayatollahs) to every pro-US Arab regime, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan, and to US homeland security (as recently stated by the FBI Director).

*Israeli capitulation to State Department pressure would devastate Israel’s posture of deterrence – in the volcanic Middle East, where one’s posture of deterrence is a prerequisite for one’s survival – which could induce an Iranian ballistic missile offensive against Israel and an Iran-supported terror offensive by Hamas, Hezbollah, the Palestinian Authority and radical Israeli Arabs. 

*Israel’s succumbing to State Department pressure would reduce/eliminate the inducement of moderate-Arab regimes to expand normalization/peace with Israel, which was initiated by their high respect for Israel’s posture of deterrence, in the face of the mutual threats by Iran’s Ayatollahs and the Moslem Brotherhood, and against the backdrop of the slackened US and Western posture of deterrence.  

*Refraining from the obliteration of Hamas’ military infrastructure and Hezbollah’s terrorist presence in South Lebanon would preclude the return of most Israeli evacuees (150,000 – equal to 5 million evacuees in the US) to their homes in the areas adjacent to Gaza and Lebanon.

*Both the US’ and Israel’s national security benefit from Israel’s defiance of State Department pressure, which highlights Israeli preference of long term national security over short term diplomatic convenience.

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Judea & Samaria

Secretary Blinken on settlements – vindicated by facts?

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
February 27, 2024

Secretary of State Antony Blinken represents conventional wisdom when claiming that “It’s been longstanding US policy… that new settlements are… inconsistent with international law.”

However, conventional wisdom is frequently demolished by the march of facts

For instance:

*According to Prof. Eugene Rostow, who was the co-author of the November 22, 1967 UN Security Council Resolution 242, served as Undersecretary of State and was the Dean of Yale University Law School: “Jews have the same right to settle in the West Bank as they have in Haifa.”

*According to UN Resolution 242, Israel is required to withdraw from territories, not the territories, nor from all the territories, but some of the territories, which included Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights.  Moreover, according to Prof. Rostow, “resolutions calling for withdrawal from all the territories were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly…. Israel was not to be forced back to the fragile and vulnerable [9-15 mile-wide] lines… but to secure and recognized boundaries, agreed to by the parties…. In making peace with Egypt in 1979, Israel withdrew from the entire Sinai… [which amounts to] more than 90% of the territories occupied in 1967….”

*Former President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, stated: “Between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967 (according to Article 52 of the UN Charter), on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has better title in the territory of what was [British Mandate] Palestine…. It follows that modifications of the 1949 armistice lines among those States within former Palestinian territory are lawful…. [The 1967] Israeli conquest of territory was defensive rather than aggressive… [as] indicated by Egypt’s prior closure of the Straits of Tiran, blockade of the Israeli port of Eilat, and the amassing of [Egyptian] troops in Sinai, coupled with its ejection of the UN Emergency Force…[and] Jordan’s initiated hostilities against Israel…. The 1948 Arab invasion of the nascent State of Israel further demonstrated that Egypt’s seizure of the Gaza Strip, and Jordan’s seizure and subsequent annexation of the West Bank and the old city of Jerusalem, were unlawful….” 

*The legal status of Judea and Samaria is embedded in the following 4 authoritative, binding, internationally-ratified documents, which recognize the area for what it has been: the cradle of Jewish history, culture, language, aspirations and religion.

(I) The November 2, 1917 Balfour Declaration, issued by Britain, calling for “the establishment in Palestine (a synonym to the Land of Israel) of a national home for the Jewish people….”
(II) The April 24, 1920 resolution, by the post-First World War San Remo Peace Conference of the Allied Powers Supreme Council, entrusted both sides of the Jordan River to the British Mandate for Palestine, for the reestablishment of the Jewish Commonwealth: “the Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the [Balfour] declaration originally made on November 2, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It was one of over 20 Mandates (trusteeships) established following WW1, responsible for the boundaries of most Arab countries.
(III) The July 24, 1922 Mandate for Palestine was ratified by the Council of the League of Nations, entrusted Britain to establish a Jewish state in the entire area west of the Jordan River, as demonstrated by its 6th article: “[to] encourage… close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands….” The Mandate was dedicated exclusively to Jewish national rights, while guaranteeing the civic rights of all other religious and ethnic groups. On July 23, 1923, the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Lausanne, which included the Mandate for Palestine.  
(IV) The October 24, 1945 Article 80 of the UN Charter incorporated the Mandate for Palestine into the UN Charter.  Accordingly, the UN or any other entity cannot transfer Jewish rights in Palestine – including immigration and settlement – to any other party. According to Article 80 of the UN Charter and the Mandate for Palestine, the 1967 war of self-defense returned Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria to its legal owner, the Jewish state.  Legally and geo-strategically the rules of “belligerent occupation” do not apply Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, since they are not “foreign territory,” and Jordan did not have a legitimate title over the West Bank.  Moreover, the rules of “belligerent occupation” do not apply in view of the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty. The 1950-67 Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria violated international law and was recognized only by Britain and Pakistan.

*The 1949 4th Geneva Convention prohibits the forced transfer of populations to areas previously occupied by a legitimate sovereign power. However, Israel has not forced Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria, and Jordan’s sovereignty there was never legal.

*The November 29, 1947 UN General Assembly Partition Resolution 181 was a recommendation, lacking legal stature, superseded by the Mandate for Palestine. The 1949 Armistice (non-peace) Agreements between Israel and its neighbors delineated “non-territorial boundaries.”   

*The term “Palestine” was a Greek and then a Roman attempt (following the 135 CE Jewish rebellion) to eradicate Jews and Judaism from human memory. It substituted “Israel, Judea and Samaria” with “Palaestina,” a derivative of the Philistines, an arch enemy of the Jewish people, whose origin was not in Arabia, but in the Greek Aegian islands.    

*The aforementioned march of facts demonstrates that Secretary Blinken’s conventional wisdom on the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria is based on gross misperceptions and misrepresentations, which fuels infidelity to law, undermining the pursuit of peace.

*More on the legality of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria in this article by George Mason University Law School Prof. Eugene Kontrovich.

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Jerusalem

United Jerusalem – a shared US-Israel legacy and interest

US departure from the recognition of a United Jerusalem as the exclusive capital of the Jewish State, and the site of the US Embassy to Israel, would be consistent with the track record of the State Department, which has been systematically wrong on Middle East issues, such as its opposition to the establishment of the Jewish State; stabbing the back of the pro-US Shah of Iran and Mubarak of Egypt, and pressuring the pro-US Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while courting the anti-US Ayatollahs of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Arafat, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the Houthis of Yemen; transforming Libya into a platform of global Islamic terrorism and civil wars; etc..

However, such departure would violate US law, defy a 3,000 year old reality – documented by a litany of archeological sites and a multitude of documents from Biblical time until today – spurn US history and geography, and undermine US national and homeland security.

United Jerusalem and the US law

Establishing a US Consulate General in Jerusalem – which would be a de facto US Embassy to the Palestinian Authority – would violate the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which became US law on November 8, 1995 with substantially more than a veto-override majority on Capitol Hill.

According to the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which enjoys massive support among the US population and, therefore, in both chambers of Congress:

“Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected….

“Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the state of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem….

“In 1990, Congress unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 106, which declares that Congress ‘strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected….’

“In 1992, the United States Senate and House of Representatives unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 113… to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, and reaffirming Congressional sentiment that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city….

“In 1996, the state of Israel will celebrate the 3,000th anniversary of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem since King David’s entry….

“The term ‘United States Embassy’ means the offices of the United States diplomatic mission and the residence of the United States chief of mission.”

United Jerusalem and the legacy of the Founding Fathers

The US Early Pilgrims and Founding Fathers were inspired – in their unification of the 13 colonies – by King David’s unification of the 12 Jewish tribes into a united political entity, and establishing Jerusalem as the capital city, which did not belong to any of the tribes (hence, Washington, DC does not belong to any state). King David entered Jerusalem 3,000 years before modern day US presidents entered the White House and 2,755 years before the US gained its independence.

The impact of Jerusalem on the US founders of the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist system and overall civic life is reflected by the existence, in the US, of 18 Jerusalems (4 in Maryland; 2 in Vermont, Georgia and New York; and 1 in Ohio, Michigan, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Utah, Rhode Island and Tennessee), 32 Salems (the original Biblical name of Jerusalem) and many Zions (a Biblical synonym for Jerusalem and the Land of Israel).  Moreover, in the US there are thousands of cities, towns, mountains, cliffs, deserts, national parks and streets bearing Biblical names.

The Jerusalem reality and US interests

Recognizing the Jerusalem reality and adherence to the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act – and the subsequent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the site of the US Embassy to Israel – bolstered the US posture of deterrence in defiance of Arab/Islamic pressure and threats.

Contrary to the doomsday assessments by the State Department and the “elite” US media – which have been wrong on most Middle East issues – the May 2018 implementation of the 1995 law did not intensify Palestinian, Arab and Islamic terrorism. State Department “wise men” were equally wrong when they warned that Israel’s 1967 reunification of Jerusalem would ignite a worldwide anti-Israel and anti-US Islamic volcanic eruption.

Adherence to the 1995 law distinguishes the US President, Congress and most Americans from the state of mind of rogue regimes and terror organizations, the anti-US UN, the vacillating Europe, and the cosmopolitan worldview of the State Department, which has systematically played-down the US’ unilateral, independent and (sometimes) defiant national security action.

On the other hand, US procrastination on the implementation of the 1995 law – by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama – eroded the US posture of deterrence, since it was rightly perceived by the world as appeasement in the face of pressure and threats from Arab/Muslim regimes and terrorists.  As expected, it radicalized Arab expectations and demands, failed to advance the cause of Israel-Arab peace, fueled Islamic terrorism, and severely undermined US national and homeland security. For example, blowing up the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and murdering 224 persons in August 1998; blowing up the USS Cole destroyer in the port of Aden and murdering 17 US sailors in October 2000; the 9/11 Twin Towers massacre, etc.

Jerusalem and Israel’s defiance of US pressure

In 1949, President Truman followed Secretary of State Marshall’s policy, pressuring Israel to refrain from annexing West Jerusalem and to accept the internationalization of the ancient capital of the Jewish people.

in 1950, in defiance of brutal US and global pressure to internationalize Jerusalem, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion reacted constructively by proclaiming Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish State, relocating government agencies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and settling tens of thousands of Olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) in Jerusalem. He upgraded the transportation infrastructure to Jerusalem, erected new Jewish neighborhoods along the 1949 cease fire lines in Jerusalem, and provided the city land reserves for long-term growth.

In 1953, Ben Gurion rebuffed President Eisenhower’s pressure – inspired by Secretary of State Dulles – to refrain from relocating Israel’s Foreign Ministry from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In 1967, President Johnson followed the advice of Secretary of State Rusk – who opposed Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence – highlighting the international status of Jerusalem, and warned Israel against the reunification of Jerusalem and construction in its eastern section. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol adopted Ben Gurion’s statesmanship, fended off the US pressure, reunited Jerusalem, built the first Jerusalem neighborhood beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines, Ramat Eshkol, in addition to the first wave of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights.

In 1970, President Nixon collaborated with Secretary of State Rogers, attempting to repartition Jerusalem, pressuring Israel to relinquish control of Jerusalem’s Holy Basin, and to stop Israel’s plans to construct additional neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.  However, Prime Minister Golda Meir refused to rescind the reunification of Jerusalem, and proceeded to lay the foundation for additional Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines: Gilo, Ramot Alon, French Hill and Neve’ Yaakov, currently home to 150,000 people.

In 1977-1992, Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir defied US and global pressure, expanding construction in Jerusalem, sending a clear message: “Jerusalem is the exclusive and non-negotiable capital of Israel!”

“[In 1978], at the very end of [Prime Minister Begin’s] successful Camp David talks with President Jimmy Carter and President Anwar Sadat, literally minutes before the signing ceremony, the American president had approached [Begin] with ‘Just one final formal item.’ Sadat, said the president, was asking that Begin put his signature to a simple letter committing him to place Jerusalem on the negotiating table of the final peace accord.  ‘I refused to accept the letter, let alone sign it,’ rumbled Begin. ‘If I forgot thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning,’ said [Begin] to the president of the United States of America, ‘and may my tongue cleave to my mouth’ (The Prime Ministers – An Intimate Portrait of Leaders of Israel, 2010)”

In 2021, Prime Minister Bennett should follow in the footsteps of Israel’s Founding Father, Ben Gurion, who stated: “Jerusalem is equal to the whole of the Land of Israel. Jerusalem is not just a central Jewish settlement. Jerusalem is an invaluable global historical symbol. The Jewish People and the entire world shall judge us in accordance with our steadfastness on Jerusalem (“We and Our Neighbors,” p. 175. 1929).”

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Jewish Holidays

Shavou’ot (Pentecost) guide for the perplexed, 2024

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
June 9, 2024

More on Jewish holidays: Smashwords, Amazon

1. Shavou’ot (June 11-12, 2024) and the Land of Israel

*Shavou’ot commemorates the receipt of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses). It is one of the three liberty-driven Jewish pilgrimages to Jerusalem:  Passover, Shavou’ot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Tabernacles). It documents the critical linkage between Judaism, the Land of Israel and the Jewish people. These pilgrimages constitute central milestones in the formation of Jewish history and the 4,000-year-old Jewish roots in the Land of Israel.

*Shavou’ot is an historical, national, agricultural and a spiritual extension of Passover. Passover highlights the physical liberty from slavery in Egypt; Shavou’ot highlights spiritual liberty, embracing the values of the Five Books of Moses, the Ten Commandments and The Ethics of our Fathers (Pirkey Avot). Therefore, the eve of Shavou’ot is dedicated to an all-night study of Jewish values.

*Shavou’ot is also called the Holiday of the Harvest (Bikoorim in Hebrew), since it concludes the harvesting season, which starts during Passover.

*Shavou’ot commemorates the 40 years of the Exodus, which entailed tough challenges on the road to the Land of Israel, forging the state-of-mind of the Jewish people and the Jewish State. 

*Shavou’ot means “weeks” in Hebrew and its root is identical to the root of the Hebrew word for “vows” (שבע), which is the same word for “seven.” It documents the seven weeks between Passover (the Exodus) and Shavou’ot.

*Shavou’ot highlights the prerequisites for a secure Land of Israel: the willingness to sustain blood, sweat and tears; faith and principle-driven tenacity in the face of severe odds; the steeper the hurdle, the more critical is the mission; crises are opportunities in disguise.

2. Shavou’ot’s impact on the formation of the US

*The holiday of Shavou’ot commemorates the legacy of Moses, which had a significant impact on the Early Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers, and the formation of the US culture, civic life, the federal system (e.g., the Separation of Powers), the US Revolution, The Federalist Papers, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. 

  • *The Liberty Bell and the Abolitionist Movement were inspired by the Biblical concept of Jubilee – the role model of Biblical liberty – which is a cardinal component of the Mosaic legacy. The essence of the Jubilee is engraved on the Liberty Bell: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and unto all the inhabitants thereof (Leviticus 25:10).”
  • *The Liberty Bell was installed in Philadelphia in 1752, 50years following William Penn’s Charter of Privileges, and eventually inspiring the 50 States in the union. According to the Biblical Jubilee, all slaves must be released, and land must be returned to the original proprietors every 50 years. Shavou’ot is celebrated 50 days following Passover, and Pentecost – a derivative of the Greek word for 50 – is celebrated 50 days following Easter.  According to Judaism, there are 50 gates of wisdom, studied during the 50 days between Passover and Shavou’ot.
  • 3. The Scroll of Ruth (Honor thy mother in-law…)
  • Shavou’ot spotlights the Scroll of Ruth, the first of the five Biblical scrolls, which are studied during five Jewish holidays: Ruth (Shavou’ot), Song of Songs (Passover), Ecclesiastes (Sukkot/Tabernacles), Book of Lamentations (the Ninth day of Av), Esther (Purim).
  • *Ruth was a Moabite Princess, who joined the Jewish people, and became the great grandmother of King David. She was a role model of loyalty to her Jewish mother in-law. Ruth is exemplary of humility, gratitude, responsibility, reliability, faith, optimism and respect of fellow human beings. Ruth stuck by her mother-in-law, Naomi, during Naomi’s roughest time, when she lost her husband, Elimelech (a President of the Tribe of Judah), two sons and property.
  • *The stature of Ruth reflects the centrality of Biblical women: the four Matriarchs: Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel; Yocheved, Miriam and Tziporah, the mother, older sister and the wife of Moses; Deborah the Prophetess, Judge and military leader; Hannah, the mother of Samuel the Prophet; Queen Esther and Yael, who delivered the Jewish people from potential oblivion; etc.  
  • The Scroll of Ruth took place in the Judean Desert (in Judea and Samaria), the cradle of Jewish history, religion, culture, language and ethnicity.

4. The Ethics of the Fathers  (Pirkey Avot in Hebrew)

It is customary to study – from Passover through Shavou’ot – the six brief chapters of The Ethics of the Fathers, one of the 63 tractates of the Mishnah (the Oral Torah) – a compilation of common-sense values, ethical and moral teachings, which underline key inter-personal relationships. For example:

“Who is respected? He who respects other persons!”
“Who is a wise person? He who learns from all other persons!”
“Who is wealthy? He who is satisfied with his own share!”
“Who is a hero? He who controls his urge!”
“Talk sparsely and walk plenty;”
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”
“Don’t be consumed with the flask, but with its content.”
“Conditional love is tenuous; unconditional love is eternal.”
“Treat every person politely.”
“Jealousy, lust and the obsession with fame warp one’s mind.”

5. Jubilee/Constitution. Shavou’ot has seven names: The holiday of the Jubilee; the holiday of the harvest; the holiday of the giving of the Torah; Shavou’ot; the holiday of offerings; the Rally and the Assembly (Constitution).

More on Shavou’ot and additional Jewish holidays: Smashwords, Amazon

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