Articles by Raphael Blumberg

Amona and the Arrangements Law


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Before the Oslo “peace” accords, there were no hilltop outposts. When a group of Jews wanted to start a new town in Judea and Samaria, on empty government land, they did so, and the town immediately received governmental recognition.

       After Oslo, in order not to raise the ire of the Western powers, Israel stopped building new towns in Judea and Samaria but continued expanding old ones. Threats from such initiatives as Oslo, Wye, Annapolis, Camp David Two, etc, etc., led to the creation of “outposts,” new towns built from scratch outside the boundaries of the established towns of Judea and Samaria. The thinking was this: If we don’t use it, we’ll lose it.


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Voting Trump and Feeling Good about It : A Settler’s Perspective


trump

This is not the sort of article I normally write. It’s an opinion piece. I’ve got something to say and there’s not a lot of time, so I’m just going to say it: Vote Trump and feel good about it.

For me, living as I do in Israel, there is only one issue. I judge an American presidential candidate based on how I think he will behave towards Israel. (For those who think that is a parochial view, hang on until this article’s conclusion.) As far as I am concerned, America has not done too well on that score for quite a while. Today, when Israel builds five new buildings for Jews in Jerusalem, the American secretary of state calls up Israel’s prime minister and yells at him for 45 minutes. I want that to change.


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My First War Games


hamachapaila

Because I have lived in Kiryat Arba, Israel, for 32 years, bored Shabbos guests often ask me, “Well then! Living near Hebron you must have seen a lot of violence in your day, isn’t that so?” After recovering from their use of the expression, “in your day,” I realize that they are right in a sense. I have seen violence. Here is the story of when that happened.

In 1988, at age 33, married with one child, I did 95 days in the Israeli military, away from home, learning to be an artillery soldier. Startled to discover that I could actually learn something that didn’t involve conjugating verbs or declining nouns, I chalked it up as a positive experience and moved on. A year later I was called up for a 17-day reserve duty, including all of Succot, to guard in a prison for Arab stone-throwers at Anatot, Jeremiah’s birthplace. Then, half-a-year later, I was called up for my first five days of artillery war games, in the Negev desert base of Shivta, somewhere south of Beersheva.


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The “Knife Intifada”: A View from “Near Hebron”


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Kiryat Arba, Israel

These are hard times. The Arabs of the Land of Israel, some of them with Israeli citizenship and some without, are presently going all around Israel stabbing Jews. In fact, they’re not just stabbing them. They’re throwing rocks at them, running them over with cars, and even shooting at them. It has reached the point where, a few days ago, when our chazan skipped Tachanun at our sunrise service in the Tomb of the Patriarchs – which he often does – and people wondered who was holding a circumcision, one of our local wags commented, “What circumcision? We’re celebrating five hours without a stabbing.…”


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The Israeli Election


israeli elections

When I was a yeshiva student, the attitude at one yeshiva I attended was, “Don’t read newspapers; they’re a waste of time.” At another yeshiva I attended, the attitude was, “Read newspapers; you’ll be informed.” Forty years later, I do read newspapers, but I sometimes feel like I’ve wasted my time.

Israel has just completed another democratic election, and the Right and religious parties won, 67 seats to 53 (the latter including 13 Arab mandates), even if the Left-leaning Israeli media did not want them to. Their victory is not really news, in the man-bites-dog sense. For 38 years, since Menachem Begin’s victory in 1977, the Right wing, supported by the religious, have dominated Israeli politics. Even in the Oslo “victory” of 1992, the Right and religious won in terms of the popular vote. Politically, as far as our relationship with our Arab neighbors goes, the fact is that fewer and fewer Israelis are seeking for us to commit suicide or dig our own graves, and religiously, the majority of Israelis are supportive, or at least not “anti.”


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Backs to the Sea


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These are hard times for us all, and nobody can say what the future holds. Last week we all experienced, together, the horror of an attack on a shul in Har Nof, in which four pious rabbis were killed, and almost 20 others were wounded, mostly people in the middle of prayers. Pictures of that attack evoked memories of scenes we have not experienced in 70 years.

In this most recent tragedy, just one of many, fate decreed that I had a connection to two out of the four Har Nof families in mourning, and many of you in Baltimore have at least one connection as well. Wednesday evening I paid condolence calls to Agassi Street in Har Nof, where the murders occurred, and where those two families live. Rabbi Arye Kupinsky, hy”d, of Har Nof was raised in Kiryat Arba, my town, and my family has several connections to his family, which still lives there. I also paid a call to the Twersky family, down the street, who were mourning Rabbi Mosheh Twersky, hy”d. There, as I had thought I might, I found Rabbi Twersky’s sister Tzippora, and her husband, Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt, a close childhood friend from Baltimore. The couple had just flown in from the Bronx, where Jonathan is a rabbi.


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