Archive for December 2008

Fifth Day of Fighting in Gaza

December 31, 2008

The fighting in Gaza enters its fifth day. Four Israelis have been killed by rocketss, while about 370 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes. Yesterday the Israeli government bombed a Hamas government building, destroying the office of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, as well as other government offices.

For the first time ever, two rockets have been fired at Beer Sheva. No one was injured. The missiles zoomed 28 miles into Israeli territory.

According to Michelle Sieff of the American Jewish Committee (guest blogging on Z-Word), Israel is at a critical point in its history. The widespread rejection of Israel’s right to exist and the Islamic fundementalist governments  at the northern and southern borders of Israel make this battle so important to Israel’s survival. The future of a two-state solution hangs in the balance, as well as the conflict between the Western world and Islamic fundementalism.

Yechiel Lasri, Mayor of Ashdod, says this conflict “has been going on since the start of Zionism more than a century ago.”

Hamas spokesperson, Abu Obeida, warned Israel against bringing ground troops into Gaza. “If you enter Gaza, the children will collect your flesh and the remains of your tanks which will be spread out through the streets.”

Fighting in Gaza Continues

December 30, 2008

Israel is succeeding in its air strikes against Gaza. It has destroyed Hamas factories and administrative buildings as well as tunnels which circumvent the border crossings. Some civilians have been killed but the main targets have been Hamas leaders and police officers.

Israel intends to destroy Hamas’ military ability in order to stop the rocket shootings at Israel’s southern cities. Hamas has been shooting rockets further than ever before and the lives of the citizens of Sderot, Netivot, Ashkelon and Ashdod have totally been disrupted. There have been 3 Israeli casualties. School vacation, which ended in the rest of the country this morning (since yesterday was the last day of Chanukah), has been extended in the south.

The army has maneuvered tanks to the border with Gaza and has receieved permission from the goverment to draft 6,700 additional soldiers. So far, none have been called up, but some men have received warnings they may be drafted in the near future. Israel is preparing for a long operation in Gaza.

Condemnation of the Israeli attack has not been as strong as we have come to expect. The international community (excepting the Arab world, of course) appears to accept that the Israelis were provoked by the constant rocket shooting of the last few years (!). As this operation continues, the media tide may turn, especially as the news coming out of Gaza is almost all coming from the Arab television station Al-Jazeera. Israeli journalists are not allowed in to Gaza, so even the Israeli news stations are showing footage taken by Al-Jazeera.

The White House backs Israel, saying that Hamas has shown its true colors as a terrorist organization. President-elect Obama is staying updated on the situation but refuses to express an opinion until he officially takes office on Jan. 20. Whether the battle is still going on by then or not, it will surely affect the Middle East policy of the new administration.

Gaza Air Strike

December 29, 2008

Jewlicious has a great post on the situation in Gaza. It raises a number of important questions, such as will this war spread beyond Gaza to the rest of Israel? And is Arab support for Hamas really as broad as the public statements make it out to be? And of course, the question on everyone’s mind – how long will this battle last?

Combating Anti-Semitism on Campuses

December 29, 2008

Gil Troy has an interesting suggestion for combating anti-Semitism on North American campuses. He says Zionists should learn from the feminists, who have succeeded in creating awareness of hostile environments. In fighting sexual harassment, the feminist movement has made it clear that when the general environment in the workplace or in school is one which makes women uncomfortable, there is a problem. In the same way, supporters of Israel should emphasize that even subtle comments against Zionism and Israel are not acceptable.

Troy also suggests that students record episodes of anti-Israel rhetoric on campus and object to them on the grounds that they interfere with a good education.

Chanukah in Soviet Russia and Israel

December 24, 2008

Israel News has re-published a Jerusalem Post article by Yosef Begun about his Chanukah experiences under Soviet persecution and in Israel. Begun equates Chanukah with Zionism. He feels that Chanukah is not as widely celebrated in Israel as it once was and that this is due to a lessening of Zionist ideology amongst Israelis.

1 and 2 Maccabees

December 23, 2008

In honor of Chanukah, some information about the apocryphal Books of the Maccabees (from Lawrence Schiffman, From Text to Tradition, Ktav Publishing House, Hoboken, NJ, 1991, p.120-138):

Finally, the apocrypha provides us with two of the most important historical sources for the Second Temple period, 1 and 2 Maccabees. 1 Maccabees is an account of the history of Judea from 175 to 134 B.C.E. It describes the background of the Maccabean revolt, the revolt itself, the exploits of Judah the Maccabee, and the efforts of his brothers Jonathan and Simon to permanently reestablish Jewish national independence and religious practice. The author paints the Hasmoneans as loyal Jews fighting against extremist Hellenizing Jews and their Seleucid supporters. 1 Maccabees was written in Hebrew in the early decades of the first century B.C.E. It survives only in the Greek text, which served as a major source for the first-century C. E. historian Josephus.

2 Maccabees is an abridgement of a lost five-volume work by Jason of Cyrene. Jason’s work and the abridgement were both composed in rhetorical Greek. 2 Maccabees details the events which led up to the Maccabean revolt and the career of Judah, concluding with his death in 160 B.C.E. As it stands now, the purpose of the book is to encourage the observance of the holiday of Hanukkah. Jason wrote not long after 160 B.C.E., and the abridger probably did his work before 124 B.C.E. Josephus did not have access to this book. To a great extent it serves as a complement to 1 Maccabees, since the two books emphasize different aspects of the revolt and the events surrounding it. On the other hand, there are many chronological and historical inconsistencies between the two works.

Happy Chanukah

December 22, 2008