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
"Does Judaism believe in an afterlife?" For the past 3,300 years that the Jewish people lived with the knowledge that the afterlife is a fundamental Torah belief. There is even a chapter in the tractate Sanhedrin, Talmud Bavli discussing it.
When we talk of an afterlife, we are talking about our soul. How do we know we have a soul? What is the nature of the World to Come?
"The creation of man testifies to the eternal life of the soul. The Torah says, 'And the Almighty formed the man of dust from the ground, and He blew into his nostrils the SOUL of life' (Genesis 2:7). On this verse, the Zohar states that 'one who blows, blows from within himself,' indicating that the soul is actually part of God's essence. Since God's essence is completely spiritual and non-physical, it is impossible that the soul should die.
"That's what King Solomon meant when he wrote, 'The dust will return to the ground as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it' (Ecclesiastes 12:17).
"From Judaism's perspective, our eternal soul is as real as the fact that you have five fingers on your hand. This is the world of doing, and the 'World to Come' is where we experience the eternal reality of whatever we've become.
"So, what exactly is the afterlife?
"When a person dies and goes to heaven, there is a judgment for the soul - for reward and punishment. For every commandment one fulfilled and every transgression that one refrained, there is a spiritual reward of feeling a closeness to the Almighty. For the transgressions, one's soul is sentenced to Gehenom; one can picture Gehenom as a "spiritual laundry" for the soul. For up to 12 months the soul goes through a purification process. Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler likened the experience to having a movie of one's "greatest" transgressions - and then having all of a person's loved ones ... parents, grandparents, spouse, children ... watching it with you. Imagine the embarrassment. Embarrassment can be a worse punishment than devils with pitchforks!
"The soul is shown two 'videotapes'. The first 'video' is called 'This is Your Life!' Every decision and every thought, all the good deeds, and the embarrassing things a person did in private is all replayed without any embellishments. It's fully bared for all to see. That's why the next world is called Olam HaEmet - 'the World of Truth,' because there we clearly recognize our personal strengths and shortcomings, and the true purpose of life.
"The second 'video' could be called 'This Could Have Been Your Life!' - if the right choices had been made, if the opportunities were seized, if the potential was actualized. This 'video' - the pain of squandered potential - is much more difficult to bear. At the same time, it purifies the soul as well. The pain of regret removes the barriers and enables the soul to completely connect to God.
"Heaven is where the soul experiences the greatest possible pleasure - the feeling of closeness to God. Of course, not all souls experience that to the same degree. It's like going to a symphony or concert. Some tickets are front-row center; others are back in the 'nose-bleed' section. Where your seat is located is based on the merit of your good deeds - e.g. giving charity, caring for others, prayer - how you fulfilled all of the 613 of the Almighty's commandments (mitzvot) for a Jew or the 7 Bnei-Noah Commandments for a non-Jew."
Love yehuda lave
The Myth of Hebron's Shuhada Street By Israel Hayom
Shuhada Street is a half-mile long road in the Palestinian city of Hebron. It was once the thriving market center of the city, frequented by Palestinians and Israelis daily. Today, it is a virtual ghost town, largely shut down by the Israeli military for security reasons. It has become central to the Palestinian narrative and the symbol of an alleged Israeli apartheid that underlies the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against the State of Israel.
Why Shuhada Street was closed, how the commercial center of Hebron has moved less than a mile from the now-abandoned Shuhada Street and become a thriving market district seldom if ever visited by outsiders, and a place where Jews (not just Israelis, but Jews from any country) are banned is a story seldom told in full. It represents the true story of "apartheid" in Hebron. I visited the city last week and expose the myth of Shuhada Street for the first time here.
The Jewish connection to Hebron dates back almost 4,000 years to when Abraham, the father of Judaism, came to the Land of Israel and settled in the city. Abraham purchased a plot of land, known as the Cave of the Patriarchs, as a burial plot. The site is considered to be the final resting place of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah, the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish religion. It is also said that King David was anointed king in Hebron, and that Hebron was the first capital of Israel until it was moved to Jerusalem.
As a result of this historic significance, Jews have prayed in Hebron since biblical times, and with a few interruptions have lived there continuously. Hebron is considered to be the second holiest city for Jews after Jerusalem.
Hebron has a long and complicated history, having been conquered by many invading peoples, including the Babylonians, Romans, Byzantines, Muslim Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, Mamelukes and the British. Following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, Hebron was captured and occupied by the Jordanian Arab Legion. During the Jordanian occupation, which lasted for 20 years, until 1967, Jews were not permitted to live in the city, nor to visit or pray at the Jewish holy sites in the city. No one complained of "apartheid."
After being attacked by Jordan during the Six-Day War in 1967, the Israelis captured Hebron and reopened the city to Jews and peoples of all religions. Starting in 1968, a small group of Jewish settlers attempted to create a community near the Cave of the Patriarchs.
They were met with violence. In 1968, a 17-year-old Palestinian threw a grenade at Jews praying at the tomb, wounding 47, among them an 8-month-old child. A deadly terrorist attack occurred in May 1980 in which six Jews returning from prayers at the Cave of the Patriarchs were murdered and 20 wounded. In 2001, 10-month old Shalhevet Pass was intentionally shot in her stroller by a sniper lurking in the hills above the old city. In 2003, a pregnant Israeli woman and her husband were killed when a suicide-bomber detonated next to them in the market on Shuhada Street.
Following the 1995 Oslo II Accord, several Palestinian cities (such as Ramallah and Nablus ) were placed under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority; large red signs warn Israelis that it is against the law for them to enter. This continues to the present day. No one calls this apartheid.
Because of the Jews' historic ties to Hebron, that city was split into two sectors. Area H1 is controlled by the PA and comprises more than 80% of the city. Approximately 170,000 Palestinians live in H1 and Jews (not just Israelis, but Jews from any country) are forbidden to enter (I know because on my recent tour of the area our group was asked whether there were any Jews before we were allowed to enter H1). Area H2, comprising the remaining 20% of Hebron, is home to 30,000 Palestinians and approximately 500 Israelis who live under Israeli civil and security control.
The Cave of the Patriarchs, sacred to Christians and Muslims as well as to Jews, lies in Israeli-controlled H2, but is open to all.
Shuhada Street ("Martyrs Street" in Arabic), in the old city of Hebron, is under Israeli control. The street used to be the central wholesale market of the Hebron region. Because of security threats to the Jewish families who live nearby, Palestinians who are not residents of H2 are not allowed on Shuhada Street. The 30,000 Palestinians who are residents of H2 are permitted to visit Shuhada Street. Most of the Arab shops on the street have closed and it is often referred to critically as a ghost town.
Shuhada Street has become central to the Palestinian narrative that Israel's presence in the West Bank constitutes an apartheid regime, according to Mustafa Barghouti, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative. There are hand-made signs on the street designating it as "Apartheid Street."
There are annual "Open Shuhada Street" demonstrations held around the world. Many visitors to Hebron, including celebrity tourists, are brought to Shuhada Street to experience Israel's alleged "apartheid" first-hand. The reactions to such visits are dramatic.
These tours leave the impression that this five-block section of Hebron was shut down for racist reasons. They fail to fully explain the almost century-long history of violence by Arabs against Jews in Hebron that resulted in the closure of Shuhada Street.
Even more significant is that these tours fail to even mention (much less visit) the new Arab commercial district just a few blocks away in the much larger Palestinian-controlled H1 section of the city. There, on Ein Sarah Street, is the thriving business area of Hebron, surrounded by almost 200,000 Palestinians (and no Jews, who are forbidden to enter H1).
If any of those shocked by the "apartheid" of Shuhada Street were to visit this area they would see a flourishing commercial district complete with an ultra-modern indoor nine-story mall. There are Kentucky Fried Chicken and Domino's Pizza franchises and all the accouterments of a modern, sophisticated commercial area. They would see the real Palestinian Hebron, which is bustling with life: cars, bikes, food carts, families with small children, shop owners, people everywhere, going about their daily business.
One can Google Shuhada Street and find hundreds of articles condemning Israeli's shuttering of the street and comparing it to apartheid. However, there is little, if any, mention of the fact that the old Shuhada Street has been replaced by a thriving new commercial district.
One must search far and wide to discover that "Shuhada Street […] is not the main thoroughfare of Hebron as claimed. It is a comparatively small road in the old city. Hebron is a large, thriving city, with massive factories, businesses and shopping malls. Hebron is the most prosperous city and main center of economy for the PA, with more than 40% of the PA economy produced there. There are 17,000 factories and workshops in all areas of production. There are four hospitals, three universities and an indoor 4,000-seat basketball stadium."
This is the Hebron very few visitors are allowed to see. This is the invisible counterpoint to the apartheid myth of Shuhada Street.
Many visitors to Hebron take a "dual narrative" tour of the city, where one spends half the day with an Israeli guide and half the day with a Palestinian guide. They truly believe that they are getting an accurate portrait of the city in this manner. However, none of the many descriptions of such tours found on the Internet even mention the new, prosperous commercial area of Hebron that is under Palestinian control and where Jews are forbidden to enter.
On my recent trip to Israel, I took one of these tours expecting to see both sides, including the new commercial district which offsets the tale of Shuhada Street. I repeatedly asked both guides when we were going to visit the new shopping center on Ein Sarah Street. The Israeli guide told me that Mohammed, the Palestinian guide, would take us there. Mohammed first denied that such a place existed, then mocked its significance and finally said there wouldn't be time to go there. The other members of my tour had no idea why I wanted to go there. Mohammed did not explain.
My fellow travelers were left with the impression that the closed Shuhada Street represents the dead heart of Hebron's market scene. And then they mistakenly conclude that Israel shuttered the street for racial reasons and accept the myth of Shuhada Street as representative of Israeli apartheid. No one left the wiser that apartheid in Hebron is a one-way street and that it runs against the Jews, not the Palestinians.
The real shame of Shuhada Street is not that a small number of Palestinians are prevented from going there, but that the Israeli army is needed to prevent the 85 Jewish families who live nearby from being massacred. The real problem in Hebron from a Palestinian point of view is that it is the only city under Palestinian control that allows even a small number of Jews to reside there.
The real apartheid in the West Bank lies not with the Israelis, but with the Palestinian leadership, who insist that any independent Palestinian state be Judenrein (Jew-free) (as are most of the Palestinian cities in the West Bank), in sharp contrast to Israel proper where two million Arabs reside as full citizens and constitute 20 percent of the entire population.
The myth of Shuhada Street is a metaphor for the larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like the rest of the Palestinian narrative, the myth of an apartheid Shuhada Street is grounded in misrepresentations, omissions and facts taken out of context. It lies at the heart of the Palestinian propaganda machine. It must be exposed and hopefully, this piece can begin an honest dialogue to do so.
(Steve Frank is an attorney, retired after a 30-year career as an appellate lawyer with the US Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. His writings on Israel, the law and architecture have appeared in publications including "The Washington Post," "The Chicago Tribune," "The Jerusalem Post," "The Times of Israel" and "Moment" magazine)
Tel Aviv To Show Proposals On City Hall For Tu BAv
Fifteen couples will have their marriage proposals screened on a side of Tel Aviv's municipal building in honor of Tu b'Av, the "Jewish Valentine's Day."
People can apply to have the text of their proposals screened against an illuminated "I Do" backdrop on the building on Aug. 15. Each proposal will be screened for exactly 10 minutes between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. The application does not say how the proposals will be selected.Full Story (Jerusalem Post)
The 15th of Av: Love and Rebirth
The Jewish mini-holiday of Tu B'Av
The 15th of Av is undoubtedly a most mysterious day. A search of the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) reveals no observances or customs for this date, except for the instruction that the tachanun (confession of sins) and similar portions should be omitted from the daily prayers (as is the case with all festive dates), and that one should increase one's study of Torah, since the nights are begining to grow longer, and "the night was created for study." And the Talmud tells us that many years ago the "daughters of Jerusalem would go dance in the vineyards" on the 15th of Av, and "whoever did not have a wife would go there" to find himself a bride.
And the Talmud considers this the greatest festival of the year, with Yom Kippur (!) a close second!
Indeed, the 15th of Av cannot but be a mystery. As the "full moon" of the tragic month of Av, it is the festival of the future redemption, and thus a day whose essence, by definition, is unknowable to our unredeemed selves.
Yet also the unknowable is also ours to seek and explore.
Thoughts on life
Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me. Carol Burnett
Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you're going to live your life. Joel Osteen
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. Albert Einstein
The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Richard Bach
Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent. Billy Graham
The whole point is to live life and be - to use all the colors in the crayon box. RuPaul
My fashion philosophy is, if you're not covered in dog hair, your life is empty. Elayne Boosler
Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life. Buddha
Fatherhood is not an elected position. You cannot vote me out of office. Randy Gasbergen, Cartoonist
Israel needs to wake up: The PA is taking over Area C
Due to Israel's outdated policy, the Palestinians have mounted a systematic campaign to undermine Israeli governance in Area C of Judea and Samaria, with an eye to inflicting strategic damage on Israel and causing immeasurable harm to the region and its residents. It's time for a new policy.
The settlements in Judea and Samaria are a subject of extensive and spirited debate in Israel. The topic is politically charged and frequently features on the public agenda. But focusing on the future of the settlement project and its horizons of growth obfuscates the bigger picture. The Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria take up only a tiny proportion of Area C, and the events occurring in the rest of the area impact the settlements and other Israeli interests far more than the approval of this or that local construction plan.
The Palestinians never entirely relinquished their commitment to the violent struggle against Israel, but their defeat in "Operation Defensive Shield" in 2002 led their leadership to strategically adopt "non-violent" measures, and these include a focus on seizing parts of Area C. In the absence of negotiations (a situation for which the Palestinians themselves are responsible), they defined Area C as an area of interest for the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, and are acting accordingly.
In the past few years, the Palestinians have been systematically violating the the Oslo II Accords with respect to Area C. More on their methods in a moment.
Many Israelis are unaware of this. Others know, but treat it as unimportant. However, in strategic terms, what the Palestinians are doing is undermining long-term Israeli interests in areas whose future is as-yet undecided. This of course negates the possibility that these areas will become, in whole or in part, part of the State of Israel in the future, and at the same time precludes the possibility of using them as a powerful bargaining chip with the P.A. and the international community in any future negotiations.
Facts on the ground
In 2008, Regavim, an NGO devoted to ensuring the responsible, legal, accountable and environmentally friendly use of Israel's national lands, petitioned the Supreme Court against the illegal construction being carried out in a Bedouin encampment along Highway 1, the Jerusalem-Dead Sea road. These Bedouins arrived in the area in the 1970s and have since increasingly entrenched themselves.
Soon after the submission of the petition (the first of four), European organizations and especially the government of Italy began to openly support this illegal Bedouin encampment, including by moving the residents from tents to new structures, installing solar panels, water tanks and the like. Furthermore, a school was also built on this particular site for all the Bedouins of the Jahalin (Abu Dahuk) tribe in the vicinity. The school, built from tires, clay and panels, is called the "Italian Eco-School."
The requests for support and a permanent presence at this specific site, which became known as Khan al-Ahmar, were led by the Palestinians, based on an awareness of its strategic importance: The site is located right next to Highway 1, a strategic traffic artery of the first order, as well as adjacent to an area known as E1, which was long ago established as a land reserve to connect Ma'aleh Adumim to Jerusalem.
The Palestinian struggle under the cover of the Bedouins at this precise location, and the flat rejection of any alternative offered to the Bedouins in the context of long and drawn-out negotiations, shines a powerful spotlight on the involvement of the Palestinians in seizing territory of vital strategic importance to Israel, right in the heart of Area C.
This is only one, well-known example. The Palestinians have been employing diverse tactics and strategies in an effort to take over parts of Area C and have established a designated government ministry to oversee these efforts. They have reestablished the project to register lands according to the Jordanian system, which Israel discontinued in 1967 when just one-third of the land was formally registered in the Jordanian land registry. They are encouraging Bedouins to settle in permanent housing in the area, and employ a wide range of incentives to encourage Palestinians to settle in Area C, including tax exemptions, discounts for vehicle registration, jobs for those who settle and so on.
They systematically impede the sale of land to Israelis, and use violence to prevent such sales when necessary. They engage in large-scale road building and paving projects, launch large-scale agricultural projects with the aim of taking over state land and lands that have the potential to become state land ("survey lands"), initiate construction projects aimed at occupying lands and have undertaken a large-scale public diplomacy campaign aimed at cementing the idea that Israeli control over Area C is illegitimate.
This is an organized, systematic initiative aimed at creating contiguous settled territory between areas under P.A. control, undermining Israeli governance in Area C and denying Israel its bargaining chip in future negotiations.
The process is simple: First, they build illegal structures in an area in which they have a particular interest, challenging the Israeli enforcement authorities. This is followed by extensive use of legal means to prevent or delay demolition, as they employ the media and public opinion to portray the demolition efforts as a violation of human rights. Finally, the illegal construction is legitimized by means of civic planning processes.
It is enough to consider Palestinian construction in previously unsettled areas of interest, such as the Judean Desert and the Jordan Valley, to gain an insight into the extent of the Palestinians' determination to create a presence in the area and disrupt Israel's connection to these places.
These Palestinian efforts are bearing fruit: Area C is currently populated by tens of thousands of illegal Palestinian structures, a large proportion of which are designated as housing for residences. With an average enforcement rate of about 40% according to figures from the Civil Administration, it would be an understatement to say that Israeli enforcement in this matter is inadequate. Unsurprisingly, the number of illegal buildings in Area C increases by about 10,000 units every decade, a trend capable of establishing irreversible facts on the ground.
All these efforts are accompanied by legal action and international aid. The Palestinians are pursuing a legal campaign of attrition that exploits Israel's democracy as a means of obstructing the mechanisms of inspection and enforcement (which ultimately seeks to serve the meta-goal of restricting and undermining Israeli settlement). This "lawfare" campaign is led by international entities and NGOs, and is supported by a great deal of money—hundreds of millions—flowing in from these sources. A case in point is the Society of St. Yves—Catholic Center for Human Rights, which has underwritten 125 Palestinian petitions to Israel's High Court of Justice.
Various international entities, in cooperation with Palestinian institutions, are intensively involved in "regional planning" for the Palestinians in Area C. These entities include the E.U. and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the U.N. Community Resilience and Development Program (CRDP), the British Department for International Development (DFID), the government of France, as well as many other governments and organizations.
Strangely, these international development efforts are aimed at developing frontier areas and rural expanses rather than—as we normally see in current global trends—at developing sustainable urban economies.
A different policy
There is a reason for Israel's weakness and the lack of awareness among the Israeli public of the Palestinians' expansionist moves: Among the main agencies in charge of the staff work in Israel's governmental, legal and security systems, the conception has taken root that Area C will sooner or later be handed over to the Palestinians and that Israel consequently bears only temporary responsibility for administering it. This in itself is proof of the Palestinian victory in the war for hearts and minds regarding Area C.
However, the idea that we do not have to make a real effort to protect our interests in the territory even if we are no more than temporary caretakers is a grave conceptual error. As long as the territory is under Israel's effective sovereignty, it must be administered at a high level of governance, even more so given that the "temporary situation" has been going on for decades, and no one knows when it will end.
The erosion of Israel's status in the territory undermines the very feasibility of a future political settlement, along with Israel's ability to use control of these areas as a factor that can impact negotiations. Furthermore, there is always a possibility that some or all of Area C will become part of the State of Israel, whether as part of a negotiated settlement or a unilateral move.
It has been 20 years since the Oslo II Accords. The temporary arrangement has been repeatedly extended and no partner to an agreement can be seen on the horizon. The dream of a utopian peace with the Palestinians has long since dissipated in the eyes of most Israelis, and that is a good thing. However, leaving the option open means that Israel must strictly safeguard its interests on the ground and the prevent creeping Palestinian annexation.
Israeli policy must therefore transition from passive acceptance to proactive initiative and enforcement. This does not necessarily mean Israeli annexation. Although annexation sounds capable of guaranteeing proper governance and the protection of Israeli interests, it is not feasible given current conditions on the ground. Since it is impossible to build a geographical barrier between Areas C and B, any move on Israel's part to annex Area C would cause Palestinians to flock from Areas A and B to Area C. Israel would find it difficult to prevent this. Bolstering Israel's governance in the territory without altering its legal or international status will better serve Israel's interests.
Israeli control of Area C is important for numerous reasons, security being one of the most important.
The creeping takeover of Area C poses a danger to Israeli freedom of movement. As shown above, Area C contains the main road networks and all the roads that lead to Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. Keeping the area around these traffic arteries free of unregulated construction is vital for the freedom of movement of people along the roads in the area as well as for the free movement of Israeli security forces. Additionally, the Arab seizure of key areas in Area C threatens Israel's hold on the Jordan Valley as a buffer zone between it and Jordan.
Another vital aspect is the strategic-diplomatic dimension. As noted, a Palestinian takeover of Area C could lead to the creation of Palestinian territorial contiguity and thus deny us our most powerful bargaining chip in any future negotiations.
Unlike the systematic Palestinian efforts, the Israeli response has not consolidated thus far into a holistic, coherent strategy. On the contrary, for some of the Israeli officials working in the area, the illegal Palestinian construction is not perceived as a national threat, and is dealt with as no more than a local issue to be addressed through the existing bureaucratic channels. This local response is ineffective in preventing the Palestinian efforts to take over Area C.
It's time Israel established a clear, unambiguous alternative to safeguard Area C, as our national interests demand. We have to throw a wrench into the illegal Palestinian construction machine and stop making do with sporadic and targeted enforcement.
What Israel needs to do
First, Israel must define the strategic importance of Area C for Israel's national security and act accordingly. It must make clear that there is no guarantee that these areas will in the future fall under Palestinian control. It must be understood that Israel is committed to the Oslo Accords, which determine that the fate of Area C will be decided exclusively in direct negotiations between the parties, the results of which cannot be foreseen in advance. Accordingly, Israel must declare that it will thwart any Palestinian attempt to establish facts on the ground—meaning that it will act vigorously against any Palestinian attempts at de facto annexation.
In this context, the crucial change, the one that can completely transform the situation, is a renewal of the land registry, which was discontinued (or rather suspended) in 1967 when IDF forces entered the area. After the State of Israel proactively resumes the judicious administration of the land registry, most of the lands currently considered open territory will be officially registered as state lands in the land registry. This is a final and irreversible registration of rights, contrary to the reversible "declaration" method in use today.
Doing this will put an end to the situation whereby ownership rights can be acquired following cultivation of the land for 10 years (Section 78 of the Ottoman Law). Even if this process takes a few years and requires resources, it can fundamentally alter the situation on the ground. The illegal unilateral actions taken by the Palestinians to register land serve as a clear justification for this change in the Israeli position.
Second, Israel must formulate a comprehensive regional plan for all of Judea and Samaria that properly addresses the needs of the Palestinian population, especially in terms of master plans for Palestinian cities and large towns. This would pull the rug out from under the stock Palestinian claim that the illegal construction is a legitimate response to the population's housing needs.
Further to this, Israel should determine an agreed upon order of priorities for Israel's areas of interest in the region. It must distinguish between key areas vital for security and settlement and areas that do not meet these criteria. In those areas defined as Israeli areas of interest, Israel must step up enforcement and take any steps necessary to prevent illegal construction and agricultural takeover, whereas in the areas where Israel's interest is less crucial, existing illegal construction may be formalized and future plans approved.
The importance of this point cannot be understated, because when everything is forbidden, the result is that everything is permitted. Israel needs to address the population's legitimate needs, and enforce the law uncompromisingly against irregularities that overreach these needs.
Accordingly, it is important to distinguish between areas of illegal construction whose formalization can be weighed and those areas that cannot be formalized. Based on a rough estimate and taking into account various data such as proximity to Area A and B and the status of the land on which the construction is located, it appears that close to one-third of the illegal Palestinian construction can be formalized. On the other hand, when state land is involved or when the construction clusters are situated next to major traffic arteries and Israeli settlements, or when they are located in areas that dominate the topography, strategic areas, nature reserves, archaeological sites and certainly in firing zones, they must not be formalized.
The primary aim must be the prudent advancement of Palestinian construction plans in a manner that complies with both Israel's national interest and the needs of the population. To that end, a clear legal basis for formalization and enforcement must be set down that will for the first time establish clearly defined criteria to designate illegal construction—both Israeli and Palestinian—making it clear in which cases the construction may be formalized and in which cases it should be slated for demolition.
Legal-administrative changes are also needed: We need to create effective legal tools to enable quick enforcement and prevent the legal war of attrition being waged on Israel's legal system. In the absence of such tools, governance is ineffective. It is beyond the scope of this article to specify all the changes required in this area.
Further to this, we need to bring forward orders to demarcate problematic Palestinian sites, because the drawing of a clear line defining the reality on the ground will make an important contribution to moving from statistical enforcement to effective enforcement—and as noted, to define enforcement in open areas as more important than enforcement in built-up areas. An important step, which has already started, is the rerouting of petitions related to construction in Judea and Samaria to the Jerusalem District Court rather than to the High Court of Justice, which will reduce the existing burden on the Supreme Court, and what is most important, will handle Palestinian petitions more effectively than the High Court of Justice, given that these petitions have become a weapon in the war against Israel's ability to govern in Area C.
In addition to all of the above, we must decrease international involvement in the service of the Palestinian cause. The legitimacy of these efforts must be compromised, the efforts delayed and restricted, for example by means of levying fines, denying visas and imposing sanctions on international bodies. At the same time, we need to conduct an extensive diplomatic campaign in the E.U. and European countries to explain the illegitimacy of the Palestinians' unilateral moves and send the message that support for these actions will prevent those countries from serving as honest brokers in future negotiations.
No less important than all of the above, which are essentially reactive responses to Palestinian activity: Israel must encourage the presence of Israeli citizens in those areas that have been defined as areas of national interest.
This can be done by means of massive development of civil infrastructure (roads, water, sewage, energy, etc.), the encouragement and development of industrial and commercial zones, tourism, the preservation of natural resources, allocation of lands for agricultural initiatives including grazing, etc. All of this is important—but the emphasis should be placed on the development of infrastructure, which is a crucial part of Israeli governance, including a significant upgrading of the major roads and crossings in the area.
Israel must reshape Area C in a manner that will provide security and appropriately address the needs of both the Jewish and Palestinian populations. It must act systematically and systemically to thwart Palestinian efforts to undermine the status granted these areas in the Oslo Accords. We, as the government of Israel, must wake up and use all the tools at our disposal to turn the tide in Area C. The term of the current American administration is an opportunity we must not waste.
(Yaakov Eliraz served as adviser on settlement affairs under defense ministers Moshe Ya'alon, Avigdor Lieberman and Benjamin Netanyahu)
7 Joyous Events That Happened on the 15th of Av By Yanki Tauber
Said Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel: There were no greater festivals for Israel than the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur.On these days the daughters of Jerusalem would go out... and dance in the vineyards. And what would they say? "Young man, raise your eyes and see which you select for yourself..." (Talmud, Taanit 26b)
The Talmud goes on to list several joyous events which occurred on the 15th day of the month of Av:
2. The dying of the generation of the Exodus ceased.
Several months after the people of Israel were freed from Egyptian slavery, the incident of the spies demonstrated their unpreparedness for the task of conquering the land of Canaan and developing it as the Holy Land. G‑d decreed that that entire generation would die out in the desert, and that their children would enter the land in their stead (as recounted in Numbers 13 and 14). After 40 years of wandering through the wilderness, the dying finally ended, and a new generation of Jews stood ready to enter the Holy Land. It was the 15th of Av of the year 2487 from creation (1274 BCE).
As long as members of this doomed generation were still alive, G‑d didn't communicate with Moses in an affectionate manner. As soon as the last of these men died, once again G‑d lovingly communicated with Moses.
3. The tribes of Israel were permitted to intermarry.
In order to ensure the orderly division of the Holy Land between the twelve tribes of Israel, restrictions had been placed on marriages between members of two different tribes. A woman who had inherited tribal lands from her father was forbidden to marry out of her tribe, lest her children—members of their father's tribe—cause the transfer of land from one tribe to another by inheriting her estate (as recounted in Numbers 36). This ordinance was binding on the generation that conquered and settled the Holy Land; when the restriction was lifted, on the 15th of Av, the event was considered a cause for celebration and festivity.
4. The tribe of Benjamin was permitted to re-enter the community.
On this date the tribe of Benjamin, which had been excommunicated for its behavior in the incident of the "Concubine at Giv'ah," was readmitted into the community of Israel (as related in Judges 19–21). This occurred during the judgeship of Othniel ben Kenaz, who led the people of Israel in the years 2533–2573 from creation (1228–1188 BCE).
5. Hoshea ben Elah opened the roads to Jerusalem.
Upon the division of the Holy Land into two kingdoms following the death of King Solomon in the year 2964 from creation (797 BCE), Jeroboam ben Nebat, ruler of the breakaway northern kingdom of Israel, set up roadblocks to prevent his citizens from making the thrice-yearly pilgrimage to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, capital of the southern kingdom of Judah. These were finally removed more than 200 years later by Hoshea ben Elah, the last king of the northern kingdom, on Av 15, 3187 (574 BCE).
6. The dead of Betar were allowed to be buried.
The fortress of Betar was the last holdout of the Bar Kochba rebellion. When Betar fell, on Av 9, 3893 (133 CE), Bar Kochba and many thousands of Jews were killed; the Romans massacred the survivors of the battle with great cruelty, and would not even allow the Jews to bury their dead. When the dead of Betar were finally brought to burial on Av 15, 3908 (148 CE), an additional blessing ("Hatov Vehameitiv") was added to the Grace After Meals in commemoration.
7. "The day of the breaking of the ax."
When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, the annual cutting of firewood for the altar was concluded on the 15th of Av. The event was celebrated with feasting and rejoicing (as is the custom upon the conclusion of a holy endeavor), and included a ceremonial breaking of the axes, which gave the day its name.