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Palestinians should realize Israel willing to withdraw for peace, settlements or none

September 28, 2010 1 comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO — It’s not hard to agree that the settlement movement in Israel—a hybrid of indigenous religious zealots and immigrant fundamentalists from places like Chicago, Toronto, and Johannesburg—is something of a complication for the peace process.  This is true even though the overwhelming majority of Israelis—people making car payments, trying to keep their jobs, and maintain their health benefits—are neither settlers, would-be settlers, or even particularly observant Jews. 

The Palestinian obsession with the settlements is peculiar and out-of-touch with a) the far more urgent issue of salvaging their own state (deserved) from a smoldering splinter of terror groups and ostensibly more “moderate” factions that remain in bloody stalemate among each other (primarily Hamas v. Fatah) and b) the more cogent realization that to ask Israel to stop building communities when you haven’t even offered to stop destroying communities is absurd and disingenuous.

The Palestinians, with their funny caveats, and the Obama imposers, with their tongue-clucking demands that Israel “take risks for peace” (as if every single day since Israel was created in 1948 has not been a risk) don’t seem to grasp the bigger picture: Israel is about life and growth and science and creativity.

Over 80% of the nation consists of secularists who watch cable news, shop in trendy malls, love to linger in fashionable coffee shops, drive late-model cars across a national freeway system, and like to travel to Turkey, India, Hong Kong, and North America.  They want college, not conflagration. Read more…

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Yes! Yes! Call me a Jew!

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO — Somebody wrote me a nasty letter recently after something I circulated in this publication. 

“You wrote that because you’re a Jew,” spouted my critic.  To this branding, I say, thank you!  Thank you! 

Thank you for attributing to me the greatest possible ethnic compliment.  Call me a Jew, and I shall be satisfied and grateful.  I am so proud to be of a lineage and a people who have survived and even transcended the greatest and most unrelenting challenges ever known to any cultural group in the history of human life. 

We parented Christianity and Islam; the church and the mosque are the edifice-cousins of the synagogue.

We survived Hitler, and we will survive Bin Laden and that crazy fellow in Iran.  We lit the lights of Chanukah and outshone Greek Hellenism.  We wrote the texts of Rabbinic Judaism and outwitted the Roman Empire.  I find old Roman pottery along the beaches of a free Israel; we have a history and a future.

\We made Judaism portable and sprung from the clutches of the Inquisition of Spain, the pogroms of Russia and Poland, the massacres of England, the genocides of Germany, France, Latvia, and the Pale. 

We sent a magic carpet to Yemen, a caravan of relief to the Arab lands, prayer books and matzohs to the Soviet Union.

Out of proportion to our numbers, we marched with M.L. King, because we were the first to leave the bondage of Egypt.  Our Passover Seder remains the international meal of freedom.

On July 4, 1976, we sent the Star of David to rescue hostages in Entebbe and we now send the stars of our American Jewish youth to every university and into every corporate hall in this country and we send our bright and ambitious former youth group presidents to the Congress and—if a Jew had been counting—we would have sent a Jew to the vice-presidency of the United States in 2001. 

Call me a Jew.  I like living in a people who see wrong and try to right it, see trouble and figure out how to relieve it, see life and choose to live it.

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Kamin is a freelance writer based in San Diego

Time has absurd notion that Israelis don’t care about peace

September 4, 2010 1 comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO — The cover of the current issue of TIME Magazine offers the absurd title, “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.”  The story itself, written by Karl Vick, is built on the premise that with “observing two and half years without a single suicide bombing on their territory, with the economy robust,” Israelis “have moved on” and just don’t focus anymore on the Palestinians and the resolution of the issues that have existed since 1948. 

As if anyone but the people of Israel, who have not had a single moment of quietude and have endured invasion, terrorism, suicide bombings, and the world’s contempt for decades, have ever longed for anything but peace. 

The cover text is an affront to the most deeply-head Israeli emotion—and I can speak to this as an Israeli native whose extended family all still live there.  For over sixty years, since the United Nations partitioned the British mandate of Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish, the people of Israel have been trying to broker a peace between themselves and the Arab nations.  In declaring its independence on May 14, 1948, Israelis formally reached out to their neighbors:  Within the very text of Declaration is written:

We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.”

Where is there even a remotely similar outreach or pronouncement in the archives of any Arab state or in the Palestinian Charter?  All that is offered from that side is the hope of destroying Israel, eliminating its population, drowning its children in the Mediterranean Sea.

Hoping desperately for peace, taking unheard of risks for it, Israel remains the only party in the conflict to have ever returned land (as in, the Sinai, twice), or even enter repeatedly in discussions with its sworn enemies that begin with the notion that Israel must divvy up its own capital city?   

At this very moment, the Prime Minister of Israel has entered (yet again) into multilateral talks with the Palestinians—flanked at the White House by the leaders of Egypt and Jordan as well.  The photo-ops captured the irony and the truth:  Israel, alone, singular, at risk, among a roomful of Arab leaders who have not accomplished together what the Jewish state has done better than all of them combined—gather in exiles, plant trees, and pray to bring its children-soldiers home at last.

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Rabbi Kamin is a freelance writer based in San Diego

Please explain where your true sympathies are, Mr. President

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO — Muslims themselves should not take too much solace in President Obama’s recent avowal of support for the Cordoba House and mosque project at the cusp of ground zero.  Spoken in the midst of a Ramadan gathering at the White House, the president‘s jaw driven outward in a now trademark signal of thrust conviction, his eyes staring upward rather than at the audience he is actually addressing,  he nonetheless began to disavow his guttural outburst almost immediately.

I didn’t actually say I was in favor of that mosque, what I meant was even though I do feel Muslim Americans should build a mosque wherever they e pluribus unum, I probably was thinking more generally though I may or may not have had the ground zero mosque, er, community center in my mind.  Or maybe not.

Jews should mark the occasion with a great deal of interest and concern.  We heard from the president’s soul when he was so uncharacteristically “incautious” at the White House.  We heard from his political advisers when he cynically back-pedaled on his revelatory burst so expediently. 

In Holland, for so long wrongfully considered a benevolent place via its exported Anne Frank / anti-fascist mythology, Muslims account now for 10% of the population and the bulk of its harrowing wave of anti-Semitic harassment, hate-mongering, and personal violence.   A lot of extremist Muslims, including those building a nuclear weapon in Iran, will see the ground zero mosque as nothing less than Koranic affirmation of their unhinged war against Judeao-Christian civilization.

We see stark evidence of radical Islamic brutality via the systematic mutilation of women’s faces, breasts, and reproductive organs—not to mention stoning to death.  Blackberry units, You Tube, and rock music are shut down, from northern Africa to Saudi Arabia.  Our efforts to save Afghanistan from its Taliban essence (Mr. Obama’s benighted and/or naïve strategy at the expense of American lives) are doomed, even as we share goals with the country’s thoroughly corrupt and ungrateful presidential-despot.

No, President Obama is not a Muslim, and these charges about his background are ignorant and devilish.  That whole discussion is steeped in bigotry and contempt.  But if he is deeply sympathetic to a highly questionable and hurtful project that insults American sensibilities and memories, that gives the radical Muslims who want us all vaporized or veiled a stunning triumph at the expense of our 9/11 grief, let him just say so.

Who are you, Mr. President?  We want to know more than whom you are not.

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Rabbi Kamin is a freelance writer based in San Diego

Remembering another July 4 when an American president stood up for Israel

July 4, 2010 Leave a comment

 By Rabbi Ben Kamin  

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO — One recalls July 4, 1976—the great Bicentennial—with much nostalgia and affection.  America was exactly 200 years old, had survived the Watergate scandals and a presidential resignation without bloodshed or constitutional tremors.   

The dreadful Vietnam War was over after some fifteen years of entanglement, though we struggled (and still do) with the cosmic shock of having lost 57,000 young lives in war that we lost and through which we all but lost our national soul.  Vietnam itself was a scarred waste of napalm and blood; for what?

But on July 4, 1976, the President of the United States, Gerald R. Ford, stood up in the White House and proclaimed:  “Today, Israel has given us the best present we could have on the Fourth of July.”  This decent and plain-spoken president then announced the details of Israel’s brilliant and daring rescue of 103 civilian hostages at Entebbe airport, near Kampala, in Uganda.

An Air France jet had taken off a week earlier and was skyjacked by Palestinian terrorists.  After landing at Entebbe, all the non-Jewish passengers were released (an act dubiously reminiscent of standard Nazi procedure).   The rescue of the hostages and the defeat of the terrorists and their Ugandan hosts was a feat of unparalleled intelligence and military luster.  One Israeli commando was killed—the commander of the mission, Jonathan Netanyahu, the brother of Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

President Ford was moved and had the integrity and uprightness to praise and congratulate our ally, Israel.  Indeed, the operation inspired a variety of American tactical rescue scenarios and the deployment of similar teams; American military reliance upon and interaction with Israeli intelligence and maneuvers has been a hallmark of the unique friendship between these two democracies for over sixty years.   It may be more important than ever, given the trending of Turkey (long before the recent contrived flotilla incident) away from the West and into the hands of Islamist plotters.

Why the ambivalence and hand-wringing now of our president and government about the fundamental and irreparable alliance we share with both the practical and historical narrative of the State of Israel?   

For the love of God, we wine and dine and wink and rationalize the ignominy of Afghanistan’s ungrateful and fraudulent  warlord president; we pine for Iran to turn into Oz; we practically apologize to the Arab global establishment after its hard-boiled and virulent opposition to the American ideals of education, liberty, creativity, and gender equality continue to be embellished by the unchecked Koranic provocation that blankets more and more millions of people from the Middle East to Africa to Asia and into Europe.

Why not love and admire our friend and acolyte and defender, Israel, its flaws (and our own) notwithstanding?   Would we prefer the Iranian / Hamas / Hezbollah public goals of Israeli and Jewish extermination?  Who would we then to turn to—Egypt?  Syria?  Somalia?  Iran?

Would that we had a president again who had the audacity to stand up for our real friends on July 4.

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Rabbi Kamin is a freelance writer and author based in San Diego.

Demonstrations in U.K. alert the world to true intentions of Islamist extremists

June 17, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO–An alarming image is appearing across the Internet showing young Islamic protestors, in Muslim and Arab garb, marching British streets, shouting hate slogans and bearing signs that clearly declaim the grimmest intentions for Westerners, including: “Britain, Your 9/11 is Coming.”

This is what we are dealing with:  An entire generation of brain-washed, extremist young people, dangerously radicalized, drained of their dreams and creativity, who (in this case) were photographed again marching the streets of London and taunting the British people:

“Be prepared for the REAL Holocaust”                   

“Behead those who Insult Islam”

“ISLAM will dominate the world”

It is now a year since the tragically failed revolution of extraordinarily brave-hearted protestors in the streets of Teheran and other crushed pathways of the Koranic dictatorship that rules Iran with cold-blooded fury and dispassion.  Untold anonymous suffering continues to take place there and elsewhere in the name of an old and proud faith that has been seized by medieval and misogynous men given to wholesale terror and extermination. 

The destruction of our towers in New York and the genocide of three thousand civilians that day really hasn’t seemed to awaken us to the reality of radical Islam’s clearly announced intention to take the West by force and place it under sharia.

Hundreds and hundreds of subsequent attacks upon hotels, railroads, airplanes, schools, busses, directly upon people, in Spain, Indonesia, Canada, the UK, Israel of course, India, the USA, and on and on…what will it take for so many of us to get it that this an international war against our way of life, our children—as ominous, if not more so, due to the proliferation of nuclear sources, as the threat to world peace represented by the Nazis?

They have shamelessly declared that their first national goals are to convert Great Britain to Islamic practice and to return Spain to its former Muslim regality.   Right now, we are shaking our heads about how our soon-to-be former pal and NATO ally Turkey has gone their way.

And some of us are just conveniently blaming Israel,

Israel, however, will never wake up one morning and find itself being something other than itself.

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Rabbi Kamin is a freelance writer based in San Diego

Imagine what hypocrites would do without Israel to condemn

June 13, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO–Sometimes one wonders what the media, the pundits, the leftists, the Presbyterians, and most of Europe would all do if they did have not the Jews to examine and excoriate.  Certainly it’s a collective straight line away from their own inexhaustible layers of racial hypocrisies, inquisitions, crusades, slave-trading, and discarding-all-principles-for-oil that comes with their parlor anti-Semitism.

Since BP (then the Anglo-Persian Oil Company) first raped that land, now called Iran, for oil in 1908, there has been a love-hate liaison with the Arabs that has manipulated the American consumer, cost the lives of the thousands of American soldiers in several business war adventures [Kuwait-Iraq-Saudi Arabia], while conveniently stonewalling our finest ally in the region, Israel, as the scapegoat for any and troubles.

For us, world history has been an oil leak, from betrayal to BP. 

The current, essentially unchecked gushing of oil into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig, and the attendant destruction now wrought upon the waters, coast, wildlife, environment—not to mention the hard-working people, economy, and the future of a significant portion of the United States—remains a toxic allegory of this entire duplicity.

Millions of words of analysis and somber reflection, if not steaming chastisement, fill the pages and testimonies of the world’s press and legislative records about Israel’s bungled incident with the cynically presented “peace” flotilla.  Not a lot of parallel consideration has been given to Egypt’s quiet cooperation with Israel’s arms blockade of the Hamas-locked Gaza, or to the fact that Turkey’s sudden and overwrought concern for the Palestinians does not seem to extend to their refugee camps in Lebanon, or to the fact that Jordan massacred manifold times more Palestinians in 1970 deliberately than Israel ever has in defense of its borders, or that the United Kingdom (whose academic centers practically offer anti-Semitism as a curriculum item) invented white colonialism.

Moreover, while it is invigorating that South Africa is hosting the World Cup, it is also beyond any realm of pretense for that nation to join in the knee-jerk labeling of Israel as an “apartheid” state.  Such a libelous claim was again obviated when one of fourteen Arab members of the Israeli Parliament, Azmi Bishara, who was on board the raided flotilla but then addressed her fellow legislators in Jerusalem two days later (I’m not saying she wasn’t heckled).  Try that same scenario in Teheran, Cairo, Damascus, or even Istanbul.

The Israeli people, feisty, democratic, weary, filled with self-awareness, though unwilling to ever give up their remarkable country, are undergoing a thorough and painful period of introspection in the wake of recent events and the larger question of this 43-year occupation of territory that followed the 1967 war forced upon them.  Jews all over the world join with them in contemplation and reflection, hope and prayer.

We are not doing it because the chorus of anti-Semitism is getting louder and uglier.  We are not going to suddenly capitulate on anything, however.  For us, world history has been an oil leak, from betrayal to BP.  So you see, it’s just that we are not going to be marched to the gas chambers ever again.

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Rabbi Kamin is based in San Diego.  This article also appeared on examiner.com