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The critical November 2018 mid-term election

The Arena, Abba Eban Institute, IDC, November 1, 2018, https://bit.ly/2JvJbth
https://bit.ly/2rgyMMh

Trump: a coattail – or an anchor chained – President?

The November 2018 mid-term election will determine the future maneuverability of President Trump, and will shape the dominant worldview of the strongest legislature in the world, which is co-determining and co-equal to the executive branch, and Israel’s systematic and most effective ally in face of pressure by all US Presidents from Truman through Obama.

The coming mid-term election will be – once again – a referendum on the popularity of a sitting President: 49% approval rating (50% disapproval) of President Trump, according to a November 1 Rasmussen Reports; 40% (54% disapproval) according to an October 28 Gallup poll; 43.9% (53% disapproval) according to an October 31 RealClear Politics.

Will Trump be a coattail-President elevating the Republican party to mid-term election gains in the House and Senate, as has happened on rare occasions, such as the 1934 election (President Roosevelt), 1998 (President Clinton) and 2002 (President G.W. Bush)?

Or, will Trump be an anchor-chained President pulling the Republican party down to significant losses – and even to minority status in one/both Chambers – as has usually been the case: President Obama (2014 and 2010), President G.W. Bush (2006), President Clinton (1994), President G.H. Bush (1990), President Reagan (1986 and 1982), President Carter (1978), President Ford/Nixon (1974), etc.?

Since 1950, a sitting President’s party has lost an average of 24 House seats in the mid-term election, which is the minimum required for a Democratic House majority in 2019.  The current balance is: 241 Republicans and 194 Democrats.

The Senate hurdle – facing the Democrats – is much higher, since the 35 Senate seats up for the coming November election consist of 9 Republicans and 26 Democrats, 10 of whom are in states won by President Trump in 2016 (only 1 Republican incumbent from a state won by Hilary Clinton in 2016), and 13 Democratic incumbents from states with a republican governor (no Republican incumbent from a state governed by a Democrat).

While sustaining the Republican majority in the House and Senate would maintain President Trump’s relative-freedom of operation, a loss of one/two Chambers would tie his hands internally and globally, commercially and militarily, due to the power of the US Legislature, which was deemed by the Founding Fathers as the “secret weapon” against a potential tyranny of the Executive.

The centrality of the US constituent and Congress

The unique power of the US Legislature – compared to all other democracies – was crafted by the 1789 US Constitution, which enshrined the concept of liberty (impacted by the Biblical concept of Jubilee, as inscribed on the Liberty Bell), by ensuring the co-equal, co-determining and independent status of the Legislature, as defined by the first article of the Constitution.

At the same time, the Constitution limits the power of the President, who – unlike other Western democracies – is not a super legislator, does not determine the legislative agenda, nor the identity of the legislators and the leaderships of the House and Senate, committees and subcommittees.

The natural ultra-ambition of the Executive branch is neutralized (in the US) by a complete separation of power among the co-equal and co-determining Legislature, Executive and Judiciary; an elaborate system of checks and balances; endowing the Legislature with the Power of the Purse and Oversight of the Executive; and the co-existence of the Federal government side-by-side with the governments of the 50 States. This transforms the American voters into the strongest constituents in the globe, directly determining the fate of their legislators, and the level of Presidential maneuverability, every two years.

Therefore, legislators are loyal, first and foremost, to their constituents, lest they follow in the footsteps of Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley (defeated in the 1994 general election) and Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (defeated in the 2014 primaries), who were substantially more engaged with national party issues, than with the concerns of their district constituents. In fact, the clout of constituents – who opposed the increase of imports – caused 2/3 and over 1/2 of the Democratic House Representatives to vote against Democratic President Clinton’s Free Trade Agreements with China (in 2000) and Canada (in 1993) respectively.

The US Constitution provides Congress with the power to limit, amend, suspend, rescind, fund/defund and investigate Presidential policies, establish and abolish government agencies (e.g., in 1947 and 2001, Congress established the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security respectively), initiate and terminate the development of military systems, confirm/reject appointments to top government positions, ratify/reject international treaties, covenants and agreements, impose/remove sanctions on foreign countries, etc.

Amending the US Constitution requires a 2/3 majority in both Chambers in addition to 3/4 of the Legislatures of the 50 States – a majority which is extremely difficult to assemble, and therefore only 27 Amendments to the Constitution have been approved so far.

Legislators prefer to focus on district and state issues – which preoccupy their constituents – rather than national security and foreign policy issues, which attract the attention of a slim percentage of the constituency.  However, the Legislature can flex its awesome muscle and severely limit or overrule a President – on domestic, national security and foreign policy issue – when a President acts like a monarch, ignores the Legislature, implements a significantly failed policy, or departs sharply from the worldview of US voters.

Globalization has expanded the number of congressional districts, which depend on foreign trade and the global arena, hence the substantially expanded number of legislators involved in international-oriented legislations.

Limiting the Commander-in-Chief

While the US Constitution (Article 2, Section 2) refers to the President as the Commander-in-Chief, his maneuverability can be heavily constrained by Congress.

For example, in 1974, Congress legislated – in defiance of the Administration – the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which facilitated the Aliyah (immigration) of one million Soviet Jews to Israel.  In 1964, Congress passed the “Gulf of Tonkin Resolution,” which authorized President Johnson to launch the military involvement in Vietnam, but in 1973 – in defiance of President Nixon – the Church-Case Amendment terminated the US military involvement in Southeast Asia, as did the Clark Amendment (1976) and the Boland Amendment (1984) – in defiance Presidents Ford and Reagan respectively – to the US military involvement in Angola and Nicaragua, respectively. In 1986, Congress overrode President Reagan’s veto of the Comprehensive Apartheid Act, which paved the road to ending South Africa’s Apartheid regime. In 1999, President Clinton signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but the Senate has yet to ratify it. The 2012 Defense budget included Congressional sanctions, which halved Iran’s oil export, contrary to President Obama’s policy. In 2012, in opposition to President Obama’s stance – Congress reduced foreign aid to the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt by $450MN. In 2015, the Senate refused to ratify the Iran Nuclear Agreement (JCPOA), thus enabling President Trump to withdraw from the agreement in 2018. In 2017/2018, Congress enacted the Russian Sanctions Bill, notwithstanding President Trump’s opposition.

Congress and Israel

Being the most authentic representative of the US constituency, both Congressional chambers reflect the special attitude by the American people toward the Jewish State since the 17th century’s Early Pilgrims. According to the 2018 annual Gallup poll of country-favorability, Israel benefits from a 74% favorability (71% in 2017).  Israel is perceived as a special ally, morally and strategically, in a region with is vital to the US economy, national and homeland security.

For instance, in 1891 – six years before the First Zionist Congress – 431 top US personalities, including the Chief Justice, the House Speaker, additional Congressional leaders, Governors, Mayors and businessmen, signed the (William) Blackstone Memorial, calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. In 1947/48, the State Department, Pentagon and CIA, along with the NY Times – in contradiction to public opinion and Congress – lobbied brutally against the establishment of the Jewish State. In 1957, leaders of the US Senate and House (led by then Senate Majority Leader LBJ) forced President Eisenhower to retreat from imposing sanctions on Israel (in an attempt to force an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza), but they were “outflanked” by Israel’s full withdrawal…. During 1990-1992, Congress (led by the late Senator Daniel Inouye – D-HI) expanded US-Israel strategic cooperation unprecedentedly, notwithstanding the systematic, aggressive opposition by President G.H. Bush and Secretary of State Jim Baker. In 2014, Congress thwarted President Obama’s attempt – during the Protective Edge war in Gaza – to withhold $225MN, which were committed to Israel’s acquisition of Iron Dome’s missiles.

The 400 year old roots of the special American attitude toward the Jewish State; the track record of Israel as a uniquely unconditional, reliable, effective ally, militarily, economically, scientifically and morally; as well as Israel’s role/potential in face of the mounting challenges and threats to the US and the Free World, provide for the sustained Congressional support of enhanced US-Israel strategic cooperation, in spite of the retirement of a relatively-large number of pro-Israel legislators, and the expected election of a few potentially-hostile new legislators.

The US public, in general, and the 2019 incoming Congress, in particular, will approach Israel, by and large, in accordance with Israel’s proven and potential contribution – to the US – in facing the threats of the anti-US Iran’s Ayatollahs; Sunni and Shite terrorism (from the Middle East to Latin America); and the need to bolster the pro-US Arab regimes, which have the Ayatollahs’ machete at their throats.

The incoming Congress will become, increasingly, aware of Israel’s proven capabilities (already benefitting the US and the pro-US Arab regimes) in the areas of intelligence, counter-terrorism, conventional warfare, counter-Cyber warfare, upgrading and developing military systems, groundbreaking hi-tech innovations, irrigation, agriculture, etc.

The November 2018 midterm election will produce the 116th Congress, which will determine the domestic and international maneuverability of President Trump, including US-Israel relations, which have been transformed from a one-way street to a mutually-beneficial, two-way street relations, increasingly benefitting the US militarily and economically.

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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

FBI Director Chris Wray defies the State Department on Iran

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel initiative”
June 17, 2024

FBI Director Chris Wray’s position on Islamic terrorism/Iran

FBI Director, Chris Wray reiterated – during his June 4, 2024 Senate testimony and April 11, 2024 House testimony – his warning of an October 7-like terrorism on the US soil:

“We have seen the threat from foreign terrorists rise to a whole another level after the October 7 [Hamas terrorism]….Increasingly concerning is the potential for a coordinated attack here in the [US] homeland, akin to the ISIS attack we saw at the Russia Concert Hall in March, 2024 [137 murdered, 180 wounded]…. Nations such as the PRC, Russia and Iran are becoming more aggressive and more capable than ever before.  These nations seek to undermine our core democratic, economic and scientific institutions….

“We are in an environment where the threats from international terrorism, domestic terrorism and state sponsored terrorism are all simultaneously elevated…. We are paying heightened attention to how the events abroad could directly affect and inspire people to commit violence here in the homeland….

“Our top concern stems from lone offenders inspired by the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, as they pose the most likely threat to Americans.  In recent years, there have been several events in the US that were purportedly motivated, at least in part, by the Israel-Hamas conflict….

Iran and its global proxies and partners, including Iraqi Shia militant groups, attack and plot against the US and our allies throughout the Middle East.  Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force has also provided support to terrorist organizations. And, Iran has supported Lebanese Hezbollah and other terrorist groups. Hezbollah has sent operatives to build terrorist infrastructure worldwide [including in Latin America all the way to the US-Mexico border]. The arrests of individuals in the US allegedly linked to Hezbollah’s main overseas terrorist arm, and their intelligence-collection and procurement efforts, demonstrate Hezbollah’s interest in long-term contingency planning activities here in the homeland….

“We continue to see the drug cartels [which intensely collaborate with Iran’s Ayatollahs and Hezbollah, that supply them predator unmanned aerial vehicles and tunnel construction equipment] push fentanyl and other dangerous drugs into every corner of the country, claiming countless American lives….

“Since October 7, we have seen a rogue gallery of foreign terrorist organizations call for attacks against Americans and our allies…. Our most immediate concern has been that [terrorists] will draw twisted inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks here at home….”

The FBI Director Wray’s April 11 and June 4 testimonies followed his alarming testimonies on October 31, 2023 and on November 15, 2023, in the Senate and House Homeland Security Committees.

FBI Director Wray vs. Secretary of State Blinken

*FBI Director Chris Wray recognizes that the October 7, 2023 Hamas terrorism is relevant to the US homeland security, and that Israel’s war on Hamas supports the US’ war on Islamic terrorism. Unlike Director Wray, Secretary of State Blinken has assumed the role of an “honest broker,” ignoring the US-allied role of Israel and the US-enemy role of Hamas, a proxy of Iran’s Ayatollahs and a branch of the Moslem Brotherhood, the largest anti-US Sunni terrorist organization.

*FBI Director Wray considers Iran’s Ayatollahs and their Islamic terror proxies, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, as a clear and present threat to the US homeland security. He is aware of their intensified collaboration with the drug cartels in Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil, as well as with Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and all other anti-US governments in Latin America, the US’ soft underbelly. In contrast, Secretary of State Blinken – true to his multilateralist UN-oriented worldview – has approached Iran’s Ayatollahs as a diplomatic challenge, opposing the options of regime change, and refraining from establishing a potent military threat hovering above the head of the Ayatollahs.

*FBI Director Wray realizes that Iran’s Ayatollahs are the chief epicenter of Hamas, Hezbollah and other components of the global anti-US Islamic terrorism, in addition to the Ayatollahs’ role as the main anti-US drug trafficker, money launderer and proliferator of advanced military systems. However, irrespective of the Ayatollahs’ rogue anti-US track record, Secretary Blinken refrains from defining Iran as a terrorist-state, viewing the Ayatollahs as partners in good-faith negotiations.

*FBI Director Chris Wray is aware that Iran’s Ayatollahs, and other anti-US Islamic terrorists, are driven by a 1,400-year-old fanatical and imperialistic ideology, which aims to bring the “infidel US” to submission. He is convinced that Islamic terrorism should be addressed by national security means, and not via gestures and concessions, which are perceived by terrorists as terror-inducing weakness. On the other hand, Secretary Blinken believes that Islamic terrorism is despair-driven, and therefore, should be addressed via substantial diplomatic and financial gestures, notwithstanding the fact that terrorists bite the hands that feed them (e.g., Iran’s Ayatollahs terrorize the US, which facilitated their rise to power; the Mujahideen’s terrorize the US, which helped them expel the Soviet military from Afghanistan; Libyan Islamic terrorists lynched US diplomats, notwithstanding the US-led NATO military offensive, which helped them topple Gadhafi; etc.).   

*Will the mounting threat of anti-US Islamic terrorism, and the volcanic Middle East reality, cause Secretary Blinken to reassess his position on Iran’s Ayatollahs, Hamas and other forms of Islamic terrorism, by avoiding rather than continuing to repeat critical mistakes, which have undermined the national security and homeland security of the US?

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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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