Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Neighbor Is Interviewed

David Rubin, my neighbor here at Shiloh, was interviewed:

Obama Calls for Halt of Jewish Settlements

SHILOH, Israel - After meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, President Barack Obama called for a halt to Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank.

"Settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward. That's a difficult issue. I recognize that. But it's an important one, and it has to be addressed," Obama said.

One of them is Shiloh, located in the heart of the West Bank, or as others refer to it: the biblical land of Judea and Samaria. This is where the tabernacle of the Lord stood for 369 years and where the prophet Samuel grew up.

Jewish communities like Shiloh lie at the heart of the conflict between the U.S. and Israel. If the Obama administration gets its way, communities like this at the very least would not be able to expand or someday may not be here at all.

"We're building for the future. We're rebuilding the biblical heartland," David Rubin said.

Rubin is the former mayor of Shiloh. As a religious Jew, he's at odds with the Obama administration's call for the end of Jewish settlement expansion.

"To the Obama administration, I would say 'Hands off. This is God's land. You don't have a right.You don't have a right to stop people living here; (to stop people from) raising their families here; (to stop people from) building for the future here because this is God's land. This is the land God gave to the people of Israel,'" Rubin said.

Earlier this month, Vice President Joe Biden called for an end of both settlement construction and an end to natural growth.

"What does that mean, stop the natural growth in the settlements? Does that mean we not allowed to have children? That we have to have mandatory birth control? What is the Vice President of the United States mandating here?" Rubin said.

Rubin, like many other Jews in the West bank, fears a Palestinian state would mean the expulsion of tens of thousands of Jews. The Israeli government took a similar action in 2005. The Gaza disengagement evicted nearly 10,000 Jews from Gaza.

Since then, Gaza has become an Islamic stronghold, an Iranian outpost, and a threat to the state of Israel. Some warn another evacuation of Israeli settlements from the West Bank would produce a similar result and threaten Israel's existence.

In the meantime, construction will continue in the settlements; Jews like Rubin will hold to their passionate views on the biblical heartland and the Obama administration will likely continue its calls for a halt to settlements in the ancient land of the Bible.

There's a nice video clip with shots of Shiloh. Check it out.

One point of divergence:

I wouldn't assert, as David does, that "This is God's land". All the world is His land. This, though, is the Jewish land, the Jewish national homeland. His Presence is here, true, but God cares for all the peoples of the world, at least, that's the way I look at it.

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