Searching for Jerusalem
December 26, 2000
© 2000 Light to the Nations, Rabbi Chaim Richman - All Rights
Despite Ehud Barakís denial, he can now be formally acknowledged as the
willing architect of Israelís dismantling. Since the return of the Israeli
negotiating team from Washington, reports in Israel, furiously dismissed by
Barak as "speculation," indicate that he is poised on the brink of
an agreement with the Palestinians that Jerusalemís mayor Ehud Olmert and
others have called a "going-out-of-business sale." That is, a
close-out sale of the State of Israel. How ironic that this weekís Torah
reading recounts the precedent for this sale: the sale of Joseph by his
brothers, an event of such grave consequences that even today, we are still
reeling from its repercussions.
Grave consequences indeed. "Grave" is a word that
"resigned" Prime Minister Barak uses quite often. Whenever Jews are
murdered by Palestinian bullets, we hear how the Prime Minister considers the
matter as "grave;" the media informs us that "the Prime
Minister views this as a grave development, and says that he will know how and
when to respond."
Those who follow the news in Hebrew alone are missing out on the double
meaning of the word "grave." Hence, it is now being reported that
Israel will happily settle for international recognition of itsí sovereignty
underneath the Temple Mount. It seems the world is most comfortable relating
to the Jews when their history, and they, are underground.
President Clinton is invested in seeing to it that a deal be closed under his
watchful eye by January 10th, ten days before his term ends. He wants to leave
himself time to attend to other matters during his remaining ten days in
office, but meantime his first priority is to divide Jerusalem and irrevocably
change its destiny. Thus he has proposed a series of far-reaching concessions
for Israel to make, and for the Palestinians to accept, and today he made it
clear that he will not accept any changes in these proposals. He has set
tomorrow, Wednesday, as his deadline for the Israeli and Palestinian response
to his proposals.
These proposals call for Israel to make concessions such as the relinquishing
of 95% of the West Bank, as well as another 5% of land in the Halutza
area in the Negev, and all of Gaza, to Palestinian control; the return of
Palestinian "refugees;" and the division of Jerusalem. The
Palestinians will receive official sovereignty over the Temple Mount, which
has been off limits to Jews since September 28th. The Palestinians are
expected to make some sort of guarantee to Israel that they will not dig
underneath the Mount. In view of the fact that the Wakf has already spent the
past year doing just that, and has destroyed thousands of tons of Temple era
artifacts, such a guarantee seems not only worthless, but ridiculous as well.
Ministers in Barakís own government were angered that they were forced to
learn of the details discussed in Washington from the press, and that they
have not been included or kept informed. And an overwhelming majority in
Israel is convinced that Barak is obsessed with signing an agreement to save
his political career, and will do so at any cost (at the hour of this writing,
86% of readers who answered the Jerusalem Postís poll on this question agree
). Using his own brand of terror tactics, Barak threatened his cabinet and the
nation that if an agreement with the Palestinians is not reached soon,
"even if it is painful," the situation in the Middle East will
deteriorate, and our peace with Jordan and Egypt will be jeopardized.
How many even remember the Jews who were killed or seriously wounded during
the past week that the negotiations were going on in Washington? How many
recall the names of the victims of shooting attacks and suicide bombers? Why
wasnít the negotiating team called back to Israel after the very first
incident? How was their presence in Washington perceived, while Israelis were
fired upon at home, if not as a green light for such attacks from Ehud Barak,
and an admission that violence will get the Palestinians everything they want?
What is the significance of the murder of a man named Cohen, from the same
clan who were the heroes of the Chanukah story in Temple times, shot while
driving home along a major highway during the Chanukah holiday...in the area
of Modiíin, ancestral home of the Macabees? Shot at the very time that the
Israeli team in Washington was agreeing to Clintonís demand to relinquish
sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Mr. Cohen thus became the inverted image of
Chanukah: a Priest, killed for no other reason than the fact of his being a
Jew, against the backdrop of the Temple Mount.
The concessions offered by Israel while the Palestinian violence continued
unabated were so staggering that even the Palestinians were reportedly amazed.
But the Israeli public, deemed undeserving to know their own future, is left
to guess. Barakís policy has been one of consistently leaving the electorate
out of the entire affair, insisting that it is his responsibility not to
inform them. It was this withholding of information that prompted
Jerusalemís mayor Ehud Olmert to describe Barak as a "liar"
regarding his intentions towards Jerusalem. Olmert also charged that
Barak has agreed to give Palestinians full sovereignty over the ancient Jewish
cemetery on the Mount of Olives, the most ancient and important Jewish
cemetery in the world.
According to Jewish tradition, the total of 36 candles that are kindled over
the Chanukah holiday correspond to the 36 hours in which Adam enjoyed the
original hidden light of creation before he was banished from the Garden of
Eden. The Chanukah light is a spark of that untainted pure light, which is
itself the light of the Holy Temple and the light of the messianic redemption.
We are taught that G-d Himself will search out Jerusalem by candlelight, to
punish those who conspire against her:
"And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem
with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees; that say in
their heart, The L-rd does neither good nor evil." (Zephaniah 1:12)
This fateful week, during these long, dark Chanukah evenings, Jerusalemís
windows and balconies are aglow with the Chanukah lights of the cityís
faithful. Jerusalem, keenly aware of her past, is a city searching for her
future, searching by the light of the Chanukah candles. She must search
quickly, diligently, before the light dims and it is too late. There are those
amongst us who are conspiring to make her disappear.
Rabbi Chaim Richman
THE TEMPLE INSTITUTE
PO Box 31876