The commandments were given for our ultimate benefit and pleasure. Therefore we should feel great joy whenever doing any good deeds.
[Think about the good deeds you currently perform with joy. Then, think about the potential joy you have not yet experienced - and how your life would be enhanced by mastering the ability to experience joy for good deeds.]
Love Yehuda Lave
Town in the heart of Europe where ONLY Arabic can be spoken and Arabs can live
In a recent letter to the New York Times, the current Earl of Balfour, Roderick Balfour, argued that it is Israel's fault that there is "growing anti-Semitism around the world." Balfour, who is a descendent of Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary who wrote the Balfour Declaration a hundred years ago, wrote the following: "the increasing inability of Israel to address [the condition of Palestinians], coupled with the expansion into Arab territory of the Jewish settlements, are major factors in growing anti-Semitism around the world." He argued further that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "owes it to the millions of Jews around the world" who suffer anti-Semitism, to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.
This well-intentioned but benighted view is particularly ironic in light of the fact that the Balfour Declaration had, as one of its purposes, to end anti-Semitism around the world by creating a homeland for the Jewish people. But now the scion of Lord Balfour is arguing that it is Israel that is causing anti-Semitism.
Roderick Balfour's views are simply wrong both as a matter of fact and as a matter of morality. Anyone who hates Jews "around the world" because they disagree with the policy of Israel would be ready to hate Jews on the basis of any pretext. Modern day anti-Semites, unlike their forbearers, need to find excuses for their hatred, and anti-Zionism has become the excuse de jure.
To prove the point, let us consider other countries: has there been growing anti-Chinese feelings around the world as the result of China's occupation of Tibet? Is there growing hatred of Americans of Turkish background because of Turkey's unwillingness to end the conflict in Cypress? Do Europeans of Russian background suffer bigotry because of Russia's invasion of Crimea? The answer to all these questions is a resounding no. If Jews are the only group that suffers because of controversial policies by Israel, then the onus lies on the anti-Semites rather than on the nation state of the Jewish people.
Moreover, Benjamin Netanyahu's responsibility is to the safety and security of Israelis. Even if it were true that anti-Semitism is increasing as the result of Israeli policies, no Israeli policy should ever be decided based on the reaction of bigots around the world. Anti-Semitism, the oldest of bigotries, will persist as long as it is seen to be justified by apologists like Roderick Balfour. Thought Balfour does not explicitly justify anti-Semitism, the entire thrust of his letter is that Jew hatred is at least understandable in light of Israel's policies.
Balfour doesn't say a word about the unwillingness of the Palestinian leadership to accept Israel's repeated offers of statehood to the Palestinians. From 1938 through 2008, the Palestinians have been offered and repeatedly rejected agreements that would have given them statehood. Even today, the Palestinian leadership refuses to accept Netanyahu's offer to sit down and negotiate a final status agreement without any pre-conditions. Nor does Balfour mention Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorists groups that constantly threaten Israel, along with Iran's publicly declared determination to destroy the state that Lord Balfour helped to create. It's all Israel's fault, according to Balfour, and the resulting increase in anti-Semitism is Israel's fault as well.
Roderick Balfour ends his letter by essentially joining the boycott movement against Israel. He has declared his unwillingness to participate in the Centenary Celebration of the Balfour Declaration, until and unless Israel takes unilateral action to end the conflict. So be it. I am confident that the author of the Balfour Declaration would have willing participated in this celebration, recognizing that no country in history has ever contributed more to the world – in terms of medical, technological, environmental and other innovations — in so short a period of time (69 years) than has Israel. Nor has any country, faced with comparable threats, ever been more generous in its offers of peace, more committed to the Rule of Law, or more protective of civilians who are used as human shields by those who attack its civilians.
So let the Celebration of the Balfour Declaration go forward without the participation of Roderick Balfour. Let Israel continue to offer a peaceful resolution to its conflict with the Palestinians. And let the Palestinians finally come to the bargaining table, and recognize Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish people in the way that the Balfour Declaration intended.
It Was More Than 100 Years of Anti-Semitism at the State Department
He was an anti-Semite, opposed to Jewish immigration and settlement in Palestine, he was as good as a sworn enemy to the Yishuv. Indeed, he would famously conclude that "1. Palestine is not ready for the Jews. 2. The Jews are not ready for Palestine." What the Jews wanted, he believed, wasn't land to colonize, but cities "where they can live on the fortunes or the misfortunes of other people." He even felt that there must have been some hidden justification for the persecution of the Jews in Russia, or that government would not have been so anxious to get rid of them. The effects of this anti-Semitism, unfortunately, were vast: because his first term as consul (1882-84) coincided with the beginnings of Jewish agricultural settlement in Palestine, Merrill's prejudice would help shape the State Department's antagonistic attitude to the Jewish people in the Holy Land.
Selah Merrill, having held the post of U.S. Consul at Jerusalem for almost three decades – appointed by three Republican presidents – is here installed in that position for the last time by President McKinley. Added to Merrill's record of longevity, is this dubious distinction: he is generally considered the greatest reviler of the Jews to ever occupy the post of consul at Jerusalem.
his views on Jews in then Palestine whose "combination of acute interest in the ancient Hebrews and intense disdain for their modern descendants bears examination…Merrill's case is especially intriguing because his attitude towards Jews had political consequences. With the advent of Zionism, these ambivalent attitudes affected the consideration of Jewish claims…"
That was from Shalom Goldman's study which includes also this: "The Jew needs to learn that his place in the world will be determined by what he can do for himself, and not so much by what Abraham did for himself four thousand years ago. It has a most mischevious effect to be always associating the modern Jews with eminent men and deeds in the remote ages of the past."* So wrote Selah Merrill, U.S. Consul in Jerusalem, in a report on Palestine. Merrill felt impelled to include in his report a long section entitled "Jews and Jewish Colonies in Palestine" in response to the Blackstone Memorial of 1891, which petitioned President Benjamin Harrison to support the convening of an international conference to discuss Jewish claims to Palestine. The Blackstone Memorial had over four hundred prominent signatories, the vast majority of them Protestants; for many of them the contemporary Jews were the natural heirs of the ancient Hebrews: "Why not give Palestine back to them again? According to God's distribution of nations, it is their home, an inalienable possession, from which they were expelled by force." 1
It was just such restorationist sentiment that Merrill so vehemently opposed. His report calls the memorial "one of the wildest schemes brought before the public." It is the "character and habits of the modern Jews" that will doom their Palestine settlement efforts to failure. According to Merrill, the originators of the petition "appear to be ignorant of two great facts, (1) that Palestine is not ready for the Jews and (2) that the Jews are not ready for Palestine."