29 Av 5776, Re’eh

Shalom everyone!

We have just returned from Israel after an inspirational two weeks. We were elated when dancing at my niece’s wedding last week and also inspired after visiting many interesting places and hearing the stories of some very special people.

During one of our day trips we visited what looked like a dilapidated double story construction site in Shuafat, East Jerusalem. The double story building is set upon the top of a large mountain with a spectacular view overlooking all of Jerusalem. Our guide took us inside the ruin and described how this building had belonged to King Hussein of Jordan who prior to 1967, controlled all of East Jerusalem, the Old City and the West Bank. As befitting a monarch, he set about building a spectacular palace for himself including a parking lot for some ten sports cars. However, the 1967 Six Day war put an end to his dreams and the construction was halted and still remains unfinished to this very day. Interestingly, Israel has not touched the site since 1967 to avoid upsetting the Jordanians, but they did allow a few archeologists to examine the area. Do you know what they found?? Beneath the unfinished palace in that exact spot lies the ruins of another palace – that of the first King of Israel – King Saul. Not only that but the Hebrew name of the mountain is Givah, which accords with the Tanach’s recount and exact description of King Saul’s story. Yet Israel is preventing the demolishment of King Hussein’s dilapidated ruin and the unearthing of this ancient palace – that will prove, yet again the Jewish historical connection to the land – in order to placate the Jordanians.

It’s amazing and impossible to deny. Israel belongs to the Jewish people. You just need to roam the streets and kick up some dust and the evidence will become clear. Yet there are still so many out there who seek to deny our rights to the land and time and again, Israel seems to bend over backwards in order to appease them.

Let’s face it. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and no other country facing similar circumstances has ever taken a more noble or moral path. Over one and a half million Arabs live in Israel and the reason they do so is because they prefer living in Israel and under the Israeli rule of Law than they would under the Palestinian leadership. In Israel, they receive better education, health care, higher salaries and a better way of life. I spoke with Palestinian workers in the Barkan Industrial Plant in Samaria (that is currently under boycott by the BDS) and a number of Arab taxi drivers in Jerusalem who confirmed this. Yet many refuse to acknowledge the Jewish phenomenon. In the space of less than seventy years, the Jews (many of whom were holocaust survivors) made a desert bloom, created cities with flourishing industry and culture and brought life and blessing to all peoples living in her area. This trip has made me realise – now more than ever –  how the Jewish people and the State of Israel need to stand strong and proud in who we are, in what is ours and in what we have achieved. Only in doing so will we achieve the blessing that will be read in this week’s Parasha (Re’eh): “You will.. settle in the Land that Hashem, your G-d, causes you to inherit, and He shall give you rest from all your enemies around you, and you will dwell securely” (Devarim 12:10).

Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom and we look forward to being back in Shul with you over Shabbat!

Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman

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