On the last day of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) we pray for rain over the forthcoming winter season.
Although our prayers are related to the rainy season in the Promised Land, the incongruity of praying for rains while it is pelting down in New Zealand or Australia was always a source of levity over the years we lived “down under.” It is only when one resides in Israel that the relevance of the seasons and the Festivals becomes clearly apparent. After a long and very hot/dry summer, rain during the relatively short winter months is more critical than ever.
Almost without fail our prayers are answered immediately the holidays end. This year we even had a short showery outburst during one of the intermediate days of Sukkot as though someone up there was trying to remind us not to forget to pray for the real thing. A few days after the conclusion of the holiday some parts of Israel especially in the north were drenched with downpours. Of course we need more sustained rain in the coming months but somehow the spectacle of our prayers being answered in dramatic fashion as soon as we have uttered them never fails to cause wonderment. Abundant rain here is seen as a blessing and not as a curse as it is in some parts of the world.
Precipitation of a vastly different kind was also evident as life swung back to its workday rhythm. Outbursts against the Jewish State and its citizens quickly resumed their usual pattern. A short selection of the outpouring we have been drenched with should suffice to show that regardless of the season it never stops.
The media has been full of the “agreement” made between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah (PLO) authorities in Ramallah. For most of the international community this was an occasion for rejoicing and expressions of false expectations. “Progressives” worldwide have been cheering and hallucinating as only ostriches with their heads in the sand can do. The UN Secretary General sent his congratulations to Abbas and thus put the seal of approval on a marriage between a declared terror group which seeks the destruction of Israel and its Jewish citizens and a Palestinian Arab Authority which disguises its real intentions behind a smokescreen of deceit.
Overlooked, deliberately no doubt, were the statements issued by the two parties concerned in this poisonous embrace.
Abbas: We hail this final agreement with Hamas to end a Palestinian split.
Hamas spokesperson: This unity deal is so we can work together against the Zionist enterprise.
There you have it loud and clear. As usual however those who do not want to be confused by reality prefer to pretend that “peace” is dawning.
Tabernacles, (Sukkot) is one of the three pilgrimage Festivals during which time Jews used to visit the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate and offer prayers for a good year. Today near on a million visitors from Israel and many continents make the same pilgrimage to the Western Wall and Temple Mount. In a sight of Biblical proportions multitudes stream to this holy site. This has only been possible since 1967 as before that time the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan banned Israelis and Jews from doing so. This of course did not upset anyone other than Jews. The Jordanians today claim to be the custodians of religious freedom. Unfortunately their notion of freedom of worship still does not extend to Jews praying at their holiest site.
Thus, it was no surprise to hear the expressions of outrage as Jews prayed at the Western Wall and visited the Temple Mount. Jewish prayer is still banned on the Mount which is a disgraceful scandal given prevailing circumstances.
Jordanian Government spokesperson: Jordan decries the storming of Al Aqsa Mosque by settlers and Jewish extremists. This constitutes acts of provocation of Moslem feelings.
Translated into simple English for those who still do not understand is the fact that as far as one of our “peace partners” is concerned the Jewish and Christian pilgrims who came to pray at Judaism’s holiest sites are all settlers and extremists. Those who continue to advocate the handing over of the Old City of Jerusalem in the naïve belief that Jordan can be trusted to safeguard religious freedom for Jews need to have a reality check. Handing half of our Capital over to Islamic authorities in the demented belief that this will purchase peace is lunacy incorporated. Unfortunately most of the UN and even many Jews still do not understand this.
As Kristallnacht anniversary looms the United Nations is busy preparing its blacklist of companies to be boycotted because they have the temerity to operate from or be associated with parts of Israel which Jews inhabited three thousand years ago. Headlines were created when it was announced that the USA was withdrawing its membership of UNESCO. Israel is following suit. I am afraid that I cannot yet join in the euphoria expressed in certain quarters because reading the small print one realizes that this is not going to happen until the end of 2018 by which time anything could happen. Meanwhile UNESCO despite its frantic attempt to assuage critics by electing a leftist French Jewish woman as its head will no doubt continue to delegitimize any Jewish connection to its homeland.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the misnamed Human Rights Council, Interpol and other bodies as they legitimize dubious entities.
President Trump has decertified the fatally flawed Iranian nuclear non agreement. The EU among others is up in arms over this. In a move eerily reminiscent of appeasement times in the recent past they prefer to ignore the dangers of a nuclear Iran and trade lucratively with a country whose declared policy is the elimination of a fellow UN member. Together with North Korea these two threats to the civilized world continue to act with impunity.
This precipitation of hate will unfortunately continue regardless of the seasons. We must therefore be ready to meet the challenges ahead.
Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.