Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement
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Tour of Tiberius and the Galil of the century! - Tu Beshvat in bloom
My friend Shalom Pollock is having a great tour of Tiberius and the area on Monday. I have been to all these spots and they are worth seeing even a second time with Shalom for his insights.
The Donna Gracia museum, beautiful mosaic synagogue floor of "Hamat Teveria" (Talmudic period), famous hot springs of Tiberius from Roman times, ancient Turkish bathhouse, "Galita" chocolate factory and where the Jordan River exits the Kinneret. Mincha at the Rambam Tomb. • Departure at 8 a.m. from the Inbal hotel. NIS 260. Info/reserve: email@example.com
All Will Benefit from Trump's Peace Plan By Oded Revivi
As an elected official from Israel, I traveled to Washington DC, at the request of Prime Minister Netanyahu to witness the unveiling of the highly anticipated "Deal of the Century." Like most Israelis this plan has the potential to radically change the trajectory of my country so it was with eager anticipation that I awaited the Peace to Prosperity (The Plan) presentation.
The creators of the Plan actually based it partially on interviews with the people who live in the disputed territories and as a result formulated an approach that is based upon the understanding that neither the Arabs nor the Israelis are leaving the disputed territories of Judea & Samaria. We are both here to stay. The Plan recognizes Israel's historical connection to the entire region; affirms that no Jew should be forcefully evacuated from their home (yes, Israel has tried that before), and the commencement of the application of Israeli sovereignty in those territories.
While I was excited to hear that and more, there are parts of the Plan that don't sit so well with me. I never dreamed that I would hear President Donald Trump use the terminology "Palestinean State." It was hard to digest US recognition of the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital. No, this plan does not embrace all that of our demands, yet there is no doubt that we must make this plan a reality.
I am the elected Mayor of Efrat in the county of Gush Etzion, a region that came under Israeli control after Israeli's Six-Day War in 1967. We are fortunate to be experiencing tremendous demand for housing leading to increased development. Now, all Israelis have to deal with the arduous bureaucratic permitting process that such construction mandates. However, you may be surprised to learn that in my city we have another hurdle. Since Israel never applied Israeli law to the territory it liberated during the Six-Day War, basic municipal services such as building permits requires the authorization of Israeli military's 'civilian administration.' If you thought government bureaucracy is bad, imagine the amount of red tape that military combined with local government would generate. The Plan calls for the commencement of the application of Israeli law throughout the land, which would remove the military from their administrative role.
The Plan also formalizes the Jordan Valley, as Israeli's eastern border with Jordan which is critical for Israel's security. In fact, former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin z"l (who also served as the Army's Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary) used to call that region, Israel's "security belt". The Plan emphatically removes this vulnerability in Israel's security, which should relieve every Israeli. The plan also abandons the policy of evacuating Israeli towns to achieve peace. Israel learned its lesson the hard way as it had forcefully displaced thousands of its own citizens, and abandoned Israeli towns with the desperate hope of achieving peace. This is the novel, new approach: Peace can be achieved even without uprooting families.
Historically, Israel has refrained from significant real estate development throughout Judea & Samaria due to international pressure. While there remain restrictions, this plan allows for the opportunity to build far beyond the suffocating restrictions we have been used to, for years. The Obama Administration, actually pressured Israel to accept a complete construction freeze, barring any development whatsoever. Not surprisingly this Administration understood the fallacy of considering Israeli homes, an obstacle for peace. This plan gives us the legitimacy for the first time in more than 50 years to be the masters of our domain.
And what of the Palestinians? They are offered the trappings of their own State once they make the necessary changes to come into compliance with what the Plan deems as a pre-requisite to be considered a partner for peace. I mean seriously, how can any entity claim to be a legitimate partner for peace when they continue to pay terrorists and incentivize terrorism? Hamas and Islamic Jihad would need to completely demilitarize. Palestinians must completely reject their culture of corruption and human rights abuses and replace it with one that protects freedom of religion, press and more. The Palestinian Authority has consistently refused to pursue those reforms, yet it is only if those conditions are met, can they achieve a semblance of statehood, and even then, without a military to threaten Israel. Should the Palestinians achieve all of those goals, they would completely revolutionize themselves to an entity that would not nearly be so threatening to Israel, making peace plausible. So in reality, this plan canonizes US policy that in order to be considered a partner for peace, the Palestinians must fulfill all of the above conditions. And currently, they are not close to meeting that standard.
Another remarkable achievement of this plan is the removal of the Palestinian claim to "The Right of Return." Palestinians have consistently demanded that descendants of Arabs who fled from Israel during Israel's War for Independence in 1948 should have the right to immigrate to (and vote in) Israel. Their descendants currently number in the millions. Since they have failed to defeat Israel militarily and diplomatically, their back-up has been to defeat Israel at the ballot box by flooding the country with Palestinians who would be able to vote against the interests of the one Jewish state. This plan insists that Palestinean refugees are not treated differently than other refugees throughout the world, and will not be granted land or rights in Israel.
True to its official name "Peace to Prosperity," the creators of the plan realized that peace begins with the people and not necessarily with their leaders. This plan presents an economic vision to the the youth, many of whom desire stability and economic opportunity. Those who visit Gush Etzion will see that Jews and Arabs living side by side. While the Arabs who are governed by the Palestinian Authority have a significantly worse quality of life (largely due to the PA's refusal to 'normalize' relations with Israel), this plan provides an opportunity for the Arabs to embrace a better future for themselves.
The presence of representatives of Oman, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates at the unveiling of the plan demonstrates that the impact of this plan goes way beyond setting Israel's borders. It has the opportunity to open up trade and economic opportunity with regional countries which have never been accessible to Israelis.
Yet there remain definite concerns – genuine security challenges, Jerusalem, the tunnel corridor that bisects Israel, securing Hebron, etc.
Yet for all its shortcomings, this Plan is genuinely historic. In 1948, for the first time in 2000 years, the world recognized the establishment of a Jewish state. This plan recognizes Jerusalem as its capital with Judea & Samaria as an integral part of it. I choose to embrace the achievements, face the challenges and acknowledge the privilege that I was given to be an Israeli Jew who lives and builds in Gush Etzion where our ancestors established our nation, and where we will be able to, finally, apply Israeli law.
Calling the Palestinians' Bluff By Melanie Phillips
U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East "deal of the century" offers the Palestinians a state. They have rejected it and threatened instead to ramp up violence against Israel.
No one can be surprised. They have rejected every offer of a state previously made to them in 1937, 1947, 2000, 2008 and 2014.
So is this latest deal anything more than Groundhog Day for the Middle East all over again? Yes, because this isn't a deal. It's an ultimatum.
Israel intends to enact its part in the plan unilaterally by declaring sovereignty over the Israeli settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley. The big change is that despite the subsequent crossed wires over timing, the United States will accept this.
That's because this isn't a "peace process" in which both sides must progress in tandem with each other—a process that gave the Palestinians an effective veto even while they continued to wage their war of extermination against Israel.
For the first time, here's an American plan that puts the security of Israel first and foremost. It's therefore the first time that the United States has unequivocally supported Israel's future existence.
For if a country cannot defend itself against enemies sworn to liquidate it, that country can't survive. Yet until now, even U.S. administrations supposedly sympathetic to Israel imposed upon it requirements that undermined its security and defense against attack.
Other supposed allies, such as Britain or the European Union, have also paid mere lip service to Israel while denying the validity of its claim to the disputed territories in Judea and Samaria. Yet its claim to these territories is legal many times over, both under international laws of self-defense and through the international community's decision in the 1920s to designate the whole of Palestine as the homeland of the Jews alone.
By denying Israel's right to all the land, Britain and the rest of the West have effectively undermined the Jews' entitlement to any of it.
The Trump plan has now swept aside that appeasement of evil, started by the British in the 1930s, and which has been pursued by the American and Western foreign-policy establishment ever since.
Yet this proposal is far from being one-sided. On the contrary, it generously provides the Palestinians with a route to a state of their own consisting of most of the disputed territories (with sovereignty less limited than the conditions imposed by the allies on Germany after World War II). It is a highly detailed map for a two-state solution.
This has produced cries of dismay from Israelis for whom a Palestine state is anathema, and who view this as yet another reward being dangled for continued Palestinian terrorism and war. But this reward is entirely conditional upon the Palestinians giving up the very thing which forms their identity and without which they are nothing: their aim to liquidate the State of Israel.
Trump is telling the Palestinians to suck this up—or lose, because the Israelis are going to get what they need to survive regardless. Jared Kushner, one of the architects of this plan, says it's the Palestinians' last opportunity for a state.
But this assumes they want a state—which, of course, they don't. That demand has always been a ruse to destroy Israel.
That's why the Palestinians have always refused previous offers of a state and turned to violence instead; whereupon Israel has been pressured to offer them still more concessions. And that's why the "peace process" has been in fact an engine of perpetual conflict.
Now the Palestinians' bluff has been called. Once again they are responding with threats of more violence, because there are no circumstances in which they will ever accept the right of the Jews to their own ancestral homeland.
Increasingly shunned by the Arab world, their one hope of keeping alive this war of extermination lies in the support they continue to receive from the liberal West: Britain, the E.U. and increasing numbers of U.S. Democrats.
They robotically pump out the lies that the Palestinians tell. The lie that they, and not the Jews, are the indigenous people of the land. The lie that Israel illegally occupies that land. The lie that the Israelis oppress and persecute the Palestinians, whose only crime is to want their own state and whose claim to the land must therefore be given at least the same status as that of Israel.
The morally bankrupt equivalence between victim and aggressor has kept this war going. It has now been repudiated by the Trump peace plan.
But the war of extermination against Israel will stop only if the rest of the West now ends its tacit support for it.
It will end only if the West stops funding it and instead makes all aid to the Palestinians conditional on ending their institutionalized incitement to violence against Jews, the salaries they pay the families of those who murder Israelis and their glorification of terrorism.
It will end only if the "human rights" community that wages "lawfare" against Israel is now exposed as the sham that it is for hijacking the language, eviscerating the concepts of law and justice and grotesquely turning "human rights" into murderous wrongs.
Perhaps the Trump plan's most important achievement is to put on record the truth about the Jews' unique rights to the land of Israel. As it states, the areas that Israel is being asked to yield to the Palestinians nevertheless constitute "territory to which Israel has asserted valid legal and historical claims, and which are part of the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people."
As for the loud protests that Israel is being allowed to "annex the West Bank," professor of international law Eugene Kontorovich has tweeted that the United States is not proposing to recognize Israeli annexation of the territory: "It is recognizing that Israel has always had a legitimate claim on this land." In other words, the application of Israeli sovereignty is to be based on its pre-existing rights to the land.
The most intractable element of these pre-existing Jewish rights is Jerusalem, which Israel will never allow to be divided again but to which the Palestinians lay claim as their state's intended capital. The plan audaciously resolves this apparently insoluble conundrum by stating that the Palestine capital should be located "in all areas east and north of the existing security barrier," including Kafr Aqab, the eastern part of Shuafat and Abu Dis, and which could be named Al Quds.
In other words, the Trump team has simply redefined Jerusalem to exclude those Arab areas of the city beyond the security barrier. This would enable the Palestinians to tell themselves their capital is Jerusalem, while Israel will have ceased to regard that area as Jerusalem at all.
Of course, the Palestinians would never agree to this. "Al Quds" to them centers on their illegitimate appropriation of Temple Mount—the most sacred site in Judaism.
But the plan states the all-important historical truth denied by the Palestinians because it vitiates their entire claim to the land—that Jerusalem was the political center of the Jewish people under King David, and has remained their spiritual center and the focus of their religious beliefs for nearly 3,000 years.
The Trump plan won't bring peace; however, it restores the truth and justice that are essential prerequisites of peace. Crushing the lethal and poisonous fantasies about Israel and the Jewish people, as well as taking a hard-headed approach to Palestinian intentions, it replaces illusions by reality.
That's no small achievement. Now it's up to the rest of the world.
The Trump Plan Is a Win for Victory and for Peace By Middle East Forum
In an immediate reaction to the Trump "Peace to Prosperity" peace plan, Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, said,
There has been an idea out there propagated by various organizations called 'peace through Israeli victory.' The idea being, 'We impose absolute defeat on the Palestinians, and when they realize they are utterly defeated, then they will accept whatever is given to them, and everyone can go and have a better life.' That is the best description of where we are now.
At the Middle East Forum, whose president, Daniel Pipes, initiated the Israel Victory Project, which calls for the Palestinian leadership to give up on its more-than 100-year aims of violently rejecting Jewish sovereignty in our indigenous and ancestral homeland, we say, guilty as charged.
"If the Palestinians give up [on their dream], they would gain even more than Israelis because the Israelis live in a functioning advanced, democratic, law-abiding country; Palestinians live in something quite worse," Pipes said in 2017 after an unprecedented meeting of members of Congress and Knesset members on Capitol Hill to sign a road map that would lead toward an Israeli victory. "Only when the Palestinians abandon their irredentist claim on Israel can they make progress and build their polity, economy, society and culture."
Any resolution to the conflict, says Pipes, whether Israeli sovereignty on the West Bank, complete withdrawal from it, or something in-between, is better achieved once the Palestinians accept Israel as the Jewish state, he presciently said.
The Peace to Prosperity plan, while ridiculed and dismissed by some, … recognized that the root of the conflict is not territorial but ideological.
This was perhaps best demonstrated in 2008 when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas walked away from the extremely generous offer by former prime minister Ehud Olmert, by stating that even though he would receive 100% territory, half of Jerusalem, refugees and much more, he would adamantly refuse to sign an end-of-conflict and end-of-claims clause in an agreement.
By laying out the demand that before any more concessions are made to the Palestinians they must recognize the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people, the Trump team has understood that the Palestinians engage in violent rejectionism because they remain hopeful that at one point in the future they will emerge victorious, whether through military, diplomatic or demographic means.
President Trump's peace plan rids the Palestinian leadership of its irredentist hopes by placing a timer of acceptance before them, and the clock has already started to tick.
On the Israeli side, victory has been placed within Israel's grasp by this plan, not because of the details and percentage of lands it apportions but because it recognizes that Israel cannot be defeated, seeks to express that permanently, and front-loads Palestinian acceptance of this.
If we take a look at the context of the plan alongside all other plans, starting with the Peel Commission plan of 1936, each one can be seen in the context of the balance of power that existed at the time. Each peace plan was rejected by the Arab side because they considered themselves powerful enough to reject them and tried to increase their share through war and terrorism.
Each time they lost and were defeated, the next time a plan or map was presented they received less. The latest plan is reflective of where the Palestinians are regarding power, victory and defeat.
Obviously, things can change and the power balance can shift, especially regarding outside support. But judging from the tacit support from the Arab world and the seeming acceptance of the reality by the Europeans and Russians, the Palestinian leadership has few options short of violence, which will just ensure that their people will once again become caught in a cycle of violence of their own making.
The Peace to Prosperity plan is certainly a win for Israel, but the ball is in our leaders' hands whether they can turn it into a victory.
However, the plan can also become a victory for the Palestinian people. It can free them of violent rejectionism which requires so much resources, funds and energy that can be better directed to building up their national polity, by redirecting funds used to pay terrorists and their families toward social services and education.
In essence, this can become a win-win for both Israelis and Palestinians, and the wider region, if there is a full understanding from Ramallah that the conflict is finally over and they have lost.
The devil may well be in the details, but the context demonstrates that peace, prosperity and a better future for all will arrive when the Palestinians finally accept defeat.
(Selsky is a member of the board of directors of and adviser to the Middle East Forum Israel and a former adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu)
Chiefs' Mitchell Schwartz Brings Pride to Kansas City Jews
When he's not racking up accolades on the gridiron, you can catch Kansas City Chiefs' star lineman Mitchell Schwartz lighting the giant menorah with Chabad or visiting a local Jewish day school.
Schwartz, whose Hebrew name is Mendel, has become a perennial presence at Chanukah celebrations with Chabad of Leawood, just outside of Kansas City, where he lights the menorah, and stays to schmooze and enjoy sufganiyot, jelly doughnuts eaten during the holiday along with other oil-based treats.
"He's very comfortable in his Judaism," said Rabbi Mendy Wineberg, who co-directs Chabad of Leawood with his wife, Devory. "The first year he came to our menorah-lighting, I offered him a sheet with the brachot. He replied, 'I don't need that,' and proceeded to say them flawlessly."
He was also a typically good sport, staying to chat and pose for photos with fans afterwards.
"I gave him a mezuzah, and he let me know that he planned to put it up. "He has a high degree of familiarity and pride in doing mitzvot," Wineberg told Chabad.org.
Schwartz has visited the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, a local Jewish day school that successive generations of Winebergs have been attending for 47 years. He spoke to the students about Jewish pride and what it means to him to be a Jewish football player.
"It brings a lot of pride, especially to the children, to see that you can be at the top of your game and be proud of your Judaism, and comfortable in your Judaism," said Wineberg, who hopes to inspire the player to increase his participation and observance even more.
And if the Chiefs are victorious against the 49ers, Wineberg has pledged to celebrate in a very relevant way. "If they win, our Purim theme will be 'Purim at the Super Bowl,' " he said. "And we would be honored if Mitchell would join us."