Monday, September 24, 2007

Sukkot - We Have Lost The True Meaning

Sukkot should be a universal holiday. We pray for rain - which as the Talmudic Rabbis noted falls on everyone, Jew or Arab, rich or poor. It is a holiday when we should remember our homelessness and once refugees status, be thankful for what we now have, and work to see that all people have secure and adequate housing, and no on is forced to wander.

But as Rabbi David Foreman points out in this article from the Jerusalem Post, that is not the case. We have lost our way. We have forgotten the universal meaning of Sukkot. Now, Sukkot, the land of Israel, God itself, have become - by our warped viewpoint - for Jews only.

"Succot commemorates the 40-year period during which the Children of Israel wandered in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Because for almost 2,000 years we lived as a stateless people, exiled from one place to the next, one would expect that now that we are well established in our permanent succa - read state - we would be sensitive to others who wish to fashion a sense of permanency and rootedness."

"
Amir Cheshin, who served as Teddy Kollek's and Ehid Olmert's Arab affairs advisor, writes in his book, From Separate and Unequal: The Story of Israeli Rule in East Jerusalem: "In 1967, Israel's leaders adopted two basic principles in their rule of East Jerusalem. The first was to rapidly increase the Jewish population in East Jerusalem. The second was to hinder growth of the Arab population."

"While there are countless examples of this ruthless policy being applied, there is one family in particular that has suffered excessively - the Dari family, who have been labeled "common criminals" by Jerusalem's Mayor, Uri Lupolianski, because they dared to build their home without the requisite permits."

"Why? Because such permits are virtually impossible to acquire as Israel has turned urban planning in Jerusalem into a tool of the government in order to prevent the expansion of the Palestinian population in the Holy City."

"What happens when a Palestinian adds on a room "illegally," let alone builds an illegal home? Bulldozers are sent to wreak their devastation. ..."

"... If one were to peruse the minutes of city council meetings from the early 90s, where former deputy mayor Avraham Kakhila states that the municipality's policy is to expropriate lands from Arabs in order to build Jewish neighborhoods, and if this is not possible then to "paint the areas green" so that that Arabs cannot build, one might surmise that Lupolianski is merely enforcing a historical precedence. ..."

"On one of my ritual morning walks, I strolled through Mea Shearim. I inquired of a few families if they had an official permit from the city for the rooms that they added to their homes. Not a single one could produce one. And yet, no demolition orders were carried out. It should be incumbent upon the Municipality to take action against all those who violate the law, be they Jewish or Arab. But as former city official Haim Miller said, "I don't sign demolition orders for Jews, only for Arabs. ..."


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