Reverend’s Pledge at Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony: “We will stand with you”

A United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day event was held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on Fri, 27 January. As the event drew to a close, prayers were offered by the Kaumatua, Rabbi Friedler, and Rev. Arthur Comery. The prayer offered by Rev. Arthur Comery was punctuated with audible amens from the crowd and followed by a rousing burst of applause and affirmation. It so represented the sentiment of many who were present.

Our loving Heavenly Father, on this Holocaust Remembrance Day I come on behalf of the Christian Church.

Mere words cannot describe the depths of our sorrow and of our shame as we recall the six million who perished in the Holocaust, the pain and anguish in which the Church is so utterly complicit.

We reaffirm our sorrow and ask for forgiveness, acknowledging that the Church failed catastrophically to stand against a great evil.

But our thoughts must turn to the present, a present in which we glimpse a new evil arising, a present in which the legitimacy of the Jewish State is being threatened from so many quarters and dear Father we fear when we see the seeds of the old Jew-hatred posing as anti-Israel rhetoric, infesting so many parts of the church.

So on this solemn occasion, we do more than just remember the six million.

Today in this country and right around the world, thousands and thousands of Christians reaffirm our bonds with the survivors of the Holocaust, with the Jewish people and with the Jewish State and we give our solemn pledge that we will do everything in our power to make certain that the Jewish people will never face such evil alone again.

Our pledge is this: We will stand with you.  

Rev. Arthur Comery

Originally Posted on Shalom.Kiwi

[watch] Netanyahu: “Jerusalem is The Capital of Israel, US Embassy Should Be Here”

In an attempt to deflect criticism that it is Israel delaying the US Embassy move Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu said the following:

“I’d like to mention again that our core alliance is with the United States”, Netanyahu said at the opening of the weekly government meeting, “there is no substitute for this alliance. Our relations are strong and getting stronger.

“At this opportunity I’d like to state unambiguously that our opinion has forever been and is today as well, that the US Embassy should be located here in Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and it is proper that not only the US embassy move here, but that also all embassies should move here. I believe that as time goes by, most will come here to Jerusalem.”

In the same statement, the Prime Minister addressed the Regulations law that retroactively legalizes many of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

“Tomorrow we will present the Regulation Law to the Knesset. This law is meant to normalize, once and for all, settlement in Judea and Samaria and prevent repeated attempts to hurt Jewish settlements.”

Now that Trump is President Can Israel Seize the Moment?

There is a tide in the affairs of men,

Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.

Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat.

And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.

– William Shakespeare, in Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene 3.

If I am not for myself, who is for me?…And if not now, when?

– Hillel the Elder, Ethics of the Fathers, Ch. 1:14.

In his first few days of his presidency, Donald Trump has acted with remarkable resolve to promote a number of his more strident campaign pledges, and to dismantle much of the edifice his predecessor had hoped to leave as his “legacy”.

Robust resolve

Thus, Trump moved to withdraw the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which the New York Times dubbed “Obama’s signature trade achievement”.

Similarly, he instigated measures to begin rolling back “Obamacare”, the centerpiece of Obama’s domestic policy; approved the construction of two large oil pipelines (Keystone pipeline between the US and Canada, and Dakota Access Pipeline), which Obama had vetoed; cut funding of charities providing abortion services abroad, reinstating a 1984 Bill, which Obama had rescinded; and ordered a freeze on hiring federal government workers (apart from the military) in an “effort to reduce government debts and decrease the size of the federal workforce.

Then, later this week Trump “signed directives to begin building a wall along [the] US border with Mexico and crack down on US cities that shield undocumented immigrants ….”

Likewise, he is reported to be drafting directives to be implemented in the coming days [that] would…suspend the entry of any immigrants from Muslim-majority Middle Eastern and African countries Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen while permanent rules are studied

So, regardless of whether one commends or condemns these policy decisions, they certainly reflect a firm—indeed, a seemingly unswerving—commitment to his campaign pledges no matter how controversial or contentious—with one notable exception.

Rare reticence

Indeed, to date, there seems to be only one central pre-election commitment, on which the new administration appears uncharacteristically hesitant in embracing: the promise to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Readers will recall that in October 1995, the US Congress passed a law (The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995) with broad bi-partisan support—including from Obama’s vice president Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry—that, in effect, recognized Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty and explicitly called for the relocation of the US Embassy to the city by May 1999. The bill, however, included a proviso, permitting the president to issue a waiver holding up the relocation of the embassy should he deem it in the US national interest. The waiver is renewable every six months and since the legislation of the bill, every president—both Democrat and Republican, since Bill Clinton—has exercised the waiver option. Indeed, 36 such waivers have been issued in the past, eight by Obama, the last of which was in December 2016, and is due to expire in June 2017.

Accordingly, all Trump really needs to do to fulfill his pledge to relocate the US embassy to Israel’s capital is, well…nothing. Indeed, he need take no proactive measures at all! He does not need to build a wall, lay a pipeline, pass new legislation, or sign a contentious executive order. All he need do is let the current waiver lapse, and allow the existing 1995 legislation to take effect.

Yet for some reason, it is precisely on this issue that the new administration is displaying rare reticence in moving briskly forward to deliver on its clear commitments.

Disturbing lack of enthusiasm…from Israel

Of course, not all this regrettable reluctance can be blamed on the Trump administration.  After all, the Israeli government itself has not been overly enthusiastic in promoting the embassy relocation.

Indeed, reflective of Israel’s lack of fervor in applauding Trump’s pledge was Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s offhand apathy in addressing the prospect at the recent Saban Forum in Washington last month. When asked by the moderator, CNN’s Jake Tapper, what he thought of Trump’s declaration that he would move the US Embassy in very short order to Jerusalem, Liberman was distinctly dismissive, indicating that he was skeptical as to the prospect: “you know, [what] we see before in every election is the same promise to remove the Embassy to Jerusalem. But I think that we will wait and we will see…”

Then, virtually providing the administration with the justification to renege on its commitment, or at least significantly postpone it, he stated:  “… we have many other issues…. We have enough challenges all around Israel. I think that it will be a mistake…to take the Embassy as the focal point…we have many items on our common agenda. I think that maybe the Embassy will be one of the points…”

With such lethargic endorsement from the Israeli government, there would be little room for surprise if the new commander-in-chief does not push his proffered relocation vigorously forward.

Plethora of invalid arguments
A plethora of bad reasons have been advanced for not moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. Typical of such baseless arguments was the one articulated by an Op-Ed piece in Haaretz, in which the writer warned: “Relocating its embassy to Jerusalem would mean the U.S. taking a partisan stance on a central and sensitive issue, a source of controversy between Israel and the Palestinians, and between Israel and the international community.

But of course, quite the opposite is true. By not relocating the embassy even to the western portion of Jerusalem, the US is, in fact, taking a partisan stance against Israel! For, in effect, this endorses the Palestinian/Arab position disputing Israeli sovereignty over any part of the city, including the portion that was under Israeli control prior to the 1967 War. After all, if the US does not dispute Israeli sovereignty of the city within the pre-1967 lines, surely there should be no reason to refrain from establishing the embassy there.  Or am I missing something here?

After all, the western portion of Jerusalem is, undisputedly, the functioning capital of Israel, in which the national parliament, the prime minister’s office, all the government ministries (apart from agriculture), and the Supreme Court are located. Thus, any demand that the Palestinians have a legitimate claim to any part of it, would immediately torpedo the chances of an agreement. Accordingly, by implicitly sustaining grounds for such a claim, abstaining from relocating the embassy in western Jerusalem, in effect, constitutes a partisan pro-Palestinian stance.

By contrast relocating the embassy would send a strong even-handed message that the US will not tolerate exorbitant and unreasonable Palestinian territorial demands.

Invalid arguments (cont)

But perhaps the most common argument advanced for not relocating the embassy is because the Arabs and Muslims will get really mad!  The threat of uncontrollable rage due to grievous insult (which would not provoke any other segment of humanity to similar conduct) has frequently been raised as reason to avoid offending Muslim sensibilities. It has already almost completely curtailed free speech in much of Western Europe and Scandinavia, where Muslim thugs are free to ravage the domestic population in the name of moral relativism and cultural diversity.

Clearly, giving into to Arab/Muslim extortion because of threats of violence is a slippery slope. Once you capitulate on one issue, there is little reason not to capitulate on another.

Indeed, if the menace of Muslim mayhem can coerce nations to forgo free choice, what is to prevent further far-reaching demands—such as universal application of Shariah law, the discrimination against females and the persecution of gays?

Accordingly, rather than constituting a reason for refraining from establishing the US embassy in Israel’s capital, the threat of violence is precisely the reason to do so—and to convey to the Arab/Muslim world that brandishing “uncontrollable rage” is an unacceptable—and counter-productive—mode of conducting international relations.

Respite not redemption

The election of Trump was a huge stroke of good fortune for Israel. Indeed, just how dire its position might have been, had Hillary Clinton been elected to continue the Obama legacy is vividly conveyed by two recent incidents.

The first is the surreptitious transfer of almost a quarter billion dollars to the Palestinian Authority by the outgoing president in the final hours of his incumbency, in defiance of a congressional hold on the funds.

The second was a jarring disclosure made last week by former director-general of Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs, Ambassador Dore Gold, of an astonishing admission by Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice, that “even if Israel and the Palestinians reach an agreement, it is possible that the United States would oppose it” – because it might not do justice to the Palestinians.

These disturbing revelations starkly expose the blatant pro-Palestinian proclivities of the outgoing Obama administration and of the designated surrogate successor Clinton-administration.  Accordingly, Israel can be excused for feeling a huge sense of relief at the outcome of the November elections. However, a word of caution is called for. For all the potential advantages entailed in the Trump victory, it is, for the moment merely a respite, and still far from redemption.  To attain that, there is yet much work ahead.

Catalyst or constraint?

Indeed there can be little doubt that the Trump victory harbors the potential for great opportunity for Israel.  For not only is the incoming administration free from innate malice and anti-Israel bias that characterized the manifestly Islamophilic propensities of the previous one, but much of Trump’s inner circle are unabashedly pro-Zionist, and together with the wider Republican Party, are unshackled to the failed “two-state” paradigm.

At last, after almost a quarter century, Israel has a real chance of being able to free itself of the deadly debilitating tentacles of this pernicious paradigm–and to choose a new path that will allow it to extricate itself from the perilous cul-de-sac into which it has been led—and allowed itself to be led.

The question now is whether the Israeli political class can rise to the occasion, and grasp the opportunity that destiny has provided it. Will the nation’s leaders display the intellectual daring and the ideological resolve that the hour calls for?  Will they be able to cast off the prevailing constraints of political correctness and forge new and sustainable paradigms for the conduct of the nation’s affairs, taking advantage of the new benign winds in Washington? Or will they, as it seems, remain captive to old molds of thought—and thus prove to be a constraint, rather than a catalyst, impeding rather than inducing the chances that the Trump administration may well afford them—if they were to strike out in a bold new direction?

“There is a tide in the affairs of men…”

More than ever before, Israel’s destiny is in its own hands. The outcome of the US elections has given it a real chance to shape its destiny. The crucial question now is whether it will seize the moment or let it slip away?

Almost six months before the Trump inauguration, shortly after the Republican Party had removed its endorsement of a two-state model, I published a column entitled What if the GOP wins?,  in which I called on the Israeli “Right” to prepare for the possibility of a Republican victory and formulate a credible alternative to the discredited two-state prescription.

However, I cautioned that haste to discard this failed two-state formula should not lead to the proposal/ promotion of alternatives that are no less inimical than the ideas they were designed to replace.

Accordingly, I urged that to reap the potential benefits that the Trump phenomenon entails, “Israel must prepare.  It must formulate a cogent, comprehensive paradigm to replace the two-state folly, which addresses both its geographic and demographic imperatives for survival—lest it promote a proposal that threatens to make it untenable geographically or demographically—or both.

It must be a proposal that ensures that Israel retains its vital geo-strategic assets in Judea-Samaria and at the same time drastically reduces the presence of the hostile Arab population resident there—preferably by non-coercive means such as economic inducements…which, of course, is what brought the bulk of the Arab population here in the first place.”

This is now becoming an urgent imperative, lest we miss the flood tide and find ourselves “bound in shallows and in miseries” that such a lapse will inevitably entail.

Is Trump Forcing Bibi to Build?

After it was announced today that Israel approved 2,500 homes in Judea and Samaria, Bibi Netanyahu released the following tweet:

“Agreed with Defense Minister on construction of 2,500 housing units in Judea and Samaria. We build and continue to build.”

There is no way to know the actual substance of the call between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump, but one thing is for sure there is an apparent Trump effect.

With the approval announcement already making waves around the world, it is noteworthy that no criticism or even a peep was heard from the United States. Trump’s election is more than an earthquake in the USA, it has changed how Israel relates to itself. Donald Trump is not a man who backs away from statements.  It is not his brand.

Of all the rightwing bonafides of PM Netanyahu, he has never governed Israel with a President that will essentially let Israel be truly independent. Those who know the Prime Minister remark on the extra careful manner Bibi Netanyahu approaches everything.  This approach worked during the Obama years, but Trump is different, very different. It is obvious the Prime Minister and even the Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman have yet to truly appreciate that for the first time we may be just left alone to really develop our own future.

The one thing we know is that President Donald Trump likes winners.  He likes those that succeed.  In his mind the more you build the more you are a success. Trump never stayed still and it is why he has defied all odds to become President.  Bibi Netanyahu has been a brilliant tactitician, but there is no reason to play by the old rules anymore, the Donald is here and he wants us to build.

[watch] Bennett Rising: “For the First Time in Fifty Years Our Destiny is Ours to Choose”

With Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu under increased investigations and the new Trump administration showing flexibility in terms of potential Israeli sovereignty in areas of Judea and Samaria, Naftali Bennett is stepping up his push to end the two state solution as we understand it.

Bennett spoke at the Institute for National Security Studies [INSS] today and forcibly gave across his views of the changing times we live in.

‏”‏First point, a Palestine exists [referring to Hamas in Gaza]. ‏Granted, it’s a terror state. It terrorizes its own population and attacks Israeli schools and hospitals using rockets and attack tunnels. ‏This leads to the second point: Apply Israeli law in Area C, the Israeli controlled areas. We will not annex the land, because one can only annex something foreign. ‏This is the Land of Israel, to which Jews have been connected for thousands of years. ‏It is where 450,000 Israelis live.”

TRUMP EFFECT: Bibi Changing Views on Maale Adumim Annexation…and more!

After being outflanked on the right by his own party and Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party and even before his phone call with President Donald Trump, Bibi began to change his tune on the future of Judea and Samaria and building in Jerusalem.

Bibi made it clear that he did indeed back the proposal to annex Maale Adumim, a city of east of Jerusalem made up of 40,000 Israelis.

“The city [of Maale Adumim] will be under Israeli sovereignty,” Netanyahu pledged, “but now is not the right time to take new steps without coordinating with the US government.”

In addition to the statement, Jerusalem approved 671 homes in areas where former President Barack Obama had prevented Israel from building.

Bibi Invited to Washington in February

After their conversation, it was announced that President Trump extended an invitation to PM Netanyahu to visit Washington in February. According to reports, Bibi has asked the government to delay the annexation vote until after he meets Trump.

BREAKING NEWS: Trump Begins Discussions on Moving US Embassy to Jerusalem

Channel 2 in Israel is reporting that Trump is set to announce the US will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Monday.  Supporting the report’s veracity, the White House confirmed that Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and President Trump discussed the initial stages of the embassy move in their first telephone call at 1:30pm EST.

Menawhile, Palestianian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Jordanian King met in order to coordinate strategy to try thwart the planned move.

YNET is reporting that Dr. Hayel Dawood, Jordan’s Minister of Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs, gave an interview to Palestinian media after the meeting. He said that Trump’s stated intention to relocate the embassy was “a dangerous development that requires an offensive position against it.” He added that the relocation “constitutes a death blow to Washington’s role as a fair mediator in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and disregard for international resolutions that consider Jerusalem occupied territory.”

Not Clear Who Can Stop Trump

With all of the noise coming out of Rammallah and Amman, they have little power or leverage to stop President Trump from moving the embassy. Both the PA and Jordan are artificially created entities that depend on outside help to keep stable. The other countries in the region either don’t care or have other issues that are for more pressing to deal with.

Bennett Understands Trump Better Than Bibi Does

A few things have come to light in the lead up to President Trump taking the oath of office and today, the second full day of his presidential tenure. Bibi Netanyahu is still afraid to push the button on annexation and Naftali Bennett is willing to call him out on it. For eight years nationalists in Israel gave Bibi Netanyahu a pass due to the immense pressure the Obama administration placed on him over “settlements.”  After Trump’s miraculous win, the conventional wisdom was that Israel would just have to wait until January 20th to bury the “two state solution.” After all, he appointed David Friedman as the US Ambassador to Israel and has consecutively confirmed his intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

With this in mind, the odd reports of Bibi Netanyahu pleading with fellow party members and Naftali Bennett to freeze the advancement of a bill to annex Maale Adumim, a city of forty thousand Israelis, seems counter productive.  As of the writing of this article, Bennett has acquiesced, but a video interview with the Times of Israel 13 days ago shows Naftali’s Bennett’s thoughts on the unique point in history Israel now finds itself in.

“Donald Trump has shown in his own personal history the ability to take very creative and bold approaches. This [annexing Area C of the West Bank to Israel] is a creative and bold approach. I know it differs from what we’ve been doing for the past two decades. But heck, what we’ve been doing for the past two decades has failed again and again and again,” Bennett states in the interview.

The challenge for Bibi is clear.  He must put aside the chess board he is used to playing with and grasp onto the new path being blazed in front of him or younger leaders like Bennett, Glick, and Hotovely will over take him and follow the Trump administration forward.

There is no need for playing games and worry at this point.  A unique G-d given opportunity has indeed arisen and as many have pointed out, one that the Israeli leadership should not squander.