True, Eternal Victory
July 30, 2014
A couple of days ago Bibi conducted a press conference, together with the Defense Minister, Bugi Ya'alon, and the Chief of Staff, Benny Ganz. I watched it live on the net. When it was over I mentioned to my wife that nothing of any real substance was said, or added to what we all know. Why did they spend their precious time repeating themselves.
My answer to my own question was: Bibi wasn't speaking to us; he was speaking to the United States. He again declared that any end to the fighting was conditional on finishing off the remaining terror tunnels, and the disarming of Gaza.
Last night, it seems that I was proven right. Oren Nahari, of Channel One TV news, broadcast quotes from a transcript of a phone conversation between Obama and Netanyahu last Sunday. The translation of the text was provided by 'The Times of Israel.'
Barack Obama: "I demand that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire and halt all offensive activities, in particular airstrikes."
Benjamin Netanyahu: "And what will Israel receive in exchange for a ceasefire?"
BO: "I believe that Hamas will cease its rocket fire — silence will be met with silence."
BN: "Hamas broke all five previous ceasefires. It’s a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel."
BO: "I repeat and expect Israel to stop all its military activities unilaterally. The pictures of destruction in Gaza distance the world from Israel’s position."
BN: "Kerry’s proposal was completely unrealistic and gives Hamas military and diplomatic advantages."
BO: "Within a week of the end of Israel’s military activities, Qatar and Turkey will begin negotiations with Hamas based on the 2012 understandings, including Israel’s commitment to removing the siege and restrictions on Gaza."
BN: "Qatar and Turkey are the biggest supporters of Hamas. It’s impossible to rely on them to be fair mediators."
BO: "I trust Qatar and Turkey. Israel is not in the position that it can choose its mediators."
BN: "I protest because Hamas can continue to launch rockets and use tunnels for terror attacks –"
BO: (interrupting Netanyahu) "The ball’s in Israel’s court, and it must end all its military activities."
Of course, inevitably and not surprisingly, both sides, the White House and the Prime Minister's office immediately denied the contents of the conversation. I don't believe either of them.
Channel One News would not have broadcast such a document without first confirming its authenticity. The correspondent described the conversation as "very tense, very unfriendly, harsh, Obama spoke condescendingly and severely, he was not open to hear any Israeli response, and his manner towards the Prime Miinister was hostile." This,as related to Nahari by a senior American government source, who leaked the transcript to him. (If you understand Hebrew, you can hear this here. There are already over 46,000 views on this Youtube video, which aired last night.)
Let's not forget the illustrious Secretary of State, John Kerry. A Kol Yisrael correspondent, Gideon Kuds, broadcasting from France, reported on the six o'clock news that Kerry, during a meeting on Saturday in France, said that 'Netanyahu is relentless, doesn't want to understand anything and may hurt American efforts dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat and the battles between the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq."
These words speak for themselves.
There are several different ways to approach the continuation of the Gaza War. One way, is that of past President Shimon Peres, who today announced that 'the war has exhausted itself. Now we must seek a diplomatic solution, give back Gaza to Abu Mazen, and conclude the operation.'
Another approach is that of veteran media correspondent, Haim Hecht, who said, "…Now the IDF must scatter notes in all of Gaza, Sagaiya, Rafiach, Azza hospital, and thus to say: From tonight, the rules of the game are changing. What was, is over. Why? Because now, only now, the Jews are going crazy. From eight o'clock tonight, all residents of Gaza, listen up. Every place from which a rocket is launched, every place, be it a house, school, hospital, a UNRWA camp, every such place will be bombed and erased. From tonight, there won't be any consideration if that bomb will hit women, children, the elderly, or terrorists.
You hear? You have eight hours, from now, now, the clock is starting to wind down. For you to get up and leave from every place where there are rocket launchers. Eight hours. Whoever does not pay attention to this warning, takes his life in his hands… I said, and I repeated and I said, there isn't any possibility to be victorious over a psychopathic enemy, whose total goal is the killing of its own women and children, and handicapped, and elderly, as many as possible.
We tried. G-d and man are witness that we tried to win in our own language. With our gorgeous values, with our Jewish principles and ethics, shmethics, and our pinpoint war.
Now, when the blood of our children is being spilled in vain, this is the end of the pinpoint operations; now we are forced to move to trauma and pathology." (See entire commentary here).
By the way, Hecht's political ideologies are mixed. In a 2012 interview he said "I would give back Hebron in 30 seconds. Ramat HaGolan, never."
I've already written this, but will run the risk of redundancy.
1) Capitulation and land acquiescence, i.e., abandonment and expulsion, such as Gush Katif and Homesh, are now proven failures. How many rockets and missiles have been fired the land we gave them ? Three thousand, over the past few weeks. Fifteen thousand over the past nine years. Over 50 soldiers have been lost in the past two weeks, fighting terrorists whose goal is the deletion of Israel from the world map, on land that we 'gave them.' Those men should all be alive, and would be, if Gush Katif was still part of Israel.
2) The idea, if anyone really ever took it seriously, of a 'palestinian state' is dead. Totally off the table. Missiles launched from Ramallah, Tul-Karem and Kalkillya could hit anywhere in Israel, just as those shot from Gaza have caused air-raid sirens to blast in Hadera. It's a no-brainer.
3) The answer, the only answer, is continued growth, building new communities, industrial areas, national parks, throughout Judea and Samaria. We must fill up our beautiful land with more and more people, more and more places. Not staking a claim, because you don't need to claim what already rightfully belongs to you. But the best way to prove to ourselves, and to the rest of the world that this is our land, is by utilizing it, to its fullest. When we have another million Jews living throughout Judea and Samaria, no one will be able to raise any questions.
This is the answer to those seeking our annihilation, this is the preeminent way to remember and express our gratitude to all those who have made the supreme sacrifice, that their lives should not have been lost in vain. This is true, eternal victory.
Tears of Rage, Tears of Conscience
July 23, 2014
A couple of days ago I drove with my son-in-law towards Jerusalem to pick up my daughter – his wife, and their new daughter – our granddaughter.
During the trip in, and on our way back, my thoughts wandered – back and forth.
A new grandchild. Baruch HaShem. Thank G-d. People ask 'how many?' So now I can say, from Alef to Taf. Those who understand, understand.
It was exactly forty years ago that I came to Israel. The first time was for an entire year. I was a junior at Case Western Reserve University, studying history, planning on going to law school. I'd had the idea of coming to Israeli in my head since my Bar Mitzvah, at age 13. It was my parents doing. They suggested a summer trip. I liked the idea, but for various reasons never made it.
But, while in university, the possibility of participating in a 'one-year program' struck a nerve. Sounded like a really good idea. CWRU was OK, but nothing special. Cleveland didn't do anything to me. So, being able to finally go to Israel, being far far away from anything I knew, and getting full credit for the year, it seemed like a golden opportunity.
That year in Jerusalem, at Hebrew University, changed my life. As is said, 'the rest is history.'
I came to Israel by myself. The only family I knew of here was my mom's second cousin. Presently, after forty years, I can count at least one family member in Israel for every year here. That includes my wife, her family, our great kids and their spouses, and our wonderfully cute grandchildren.
It should definitely be a time to celebrate. But it's difficult to celebrate these days.
For a minute, let's fast forward, forty years into the future. Max and Sean have been best friends for years. So much so, that they live next to each other in a city, in the heart of Israel. Years ago they served together, fighting against Hamas Arab terrorists in Gaza. And today is an especially special day. Max's youngest daughter is tonight being engaged to Sean's youngest son. Now they will bond, not just as friends, but as family.
Forty years into the future that might have been, but never will be. Actually, these two young heroes will be together, for eternity. Sean was buried in Haifa Sunday night. Max was buried in Jerusalem, at Har Hertzel, a couple of hours ago. They fought together and they died together. For the love of Israel.
I was one of about 30,000 people who crowded into the military cemetery in Jerusalem for, probably, one of the largest funerals that site has ever witnessed. Keeping in mind that the soldier being buried was not a general, or even an officer. But his contribution was certainly no less than that of any officer or general there.
Max, as well as Sean, were 'chayalim bodedim,' that is, 'lone soldiers' who came to Israel specifically to serve in the IDF, to help Israel, to be part of Israel, defending our country, our land, our people. Max was from Los Angeles, and as many of those eulogizing him expressed, he could have chosen to live an 'easy life,' near his family and friends in the US. But he decided, after participating in a Birthright mission, that Israel was for him. He literally fought his way into an elite Golani Division, after first being rejected for lack of Hebrew. He not only shined as a soldier; he received a certificate of excellence as a sharpshooter.
Much was said about his smile, his personality and his dedication. But in truth, after hearing his parent's parting words, I wasn't surprised by anything else expressed about Max. As is said, the apple never falls far from the tree.
Max's father, Stuart Steinberg: "On behalf of our entire family, we want to answer a question in the minds of many people: do we have any regrets that Max served in the IDF as a lone soldier. The answer is an unequivocal no." And after speaking for a few minutes, Stuart Steinberg ended his eulogy at the fresh grave of his oldest son with the words, "Am Yisrael Chai."
I think that says it all.
I too, with many others, shed tears for a man I never knew, but deep down inside did know, a person who decided to dedicate his life to Israel, and did so, literally. But my tears are not only of sadness. They are of rage. Because it didn't have to be. How many times will we warn, and warn, and warn, only to be ignored. How many times will we say, 'but this is exactly what we were talking about,' only to be ignored with the same trite, 'but you have to give peace a chance.'
For years I have been telling journalists and visitors about the dangers of missiles being aimed at planes flying in and out of Ben Gurion airport, shot from the Samarian Hills in a future 'palestinian state.' I've been laughed at. Except that yesterday the FAA and its European counterpart stopped all air traffic in and out of Israel because a rocket landed a kilometer from the airport, shot from Gaza.
Dozens of tunnels have been discovered, leading from Gaza into Israeli communities. Four soldiers lost their lives as a result of one such infiltration. From an anonymous message posted on whatsapp: 'Dozens of tunnels ending in the southern cities are not tunnels of terror, rather they are infrastructures for land conquest. If we had not surprised ourselves at the backlash of the boys' kidnapping, Hamas would have chosen the appropriate timing to pump thousands of soldiers through the tunnels to conquer cities and military posts. Thousands of terrorists dressed as IDF soldiers, kill, conquer and kidnap, while the IDF has no time to organize. At the same time firing barrages of hundreds and thousands of missiles into Israel's center, paralyzing organizational ability against invasion. Why did they wait? Maybe for a rainy day, and probably to coordinate with Hezbollah for an integrated missile attack in the north ... and possibly tunnels into our northern cities too ...'
And as I write this, we have just discovered a tunnel in Hebron, next to Beit Hadassah, under an Arab house, in the direction of our children's playground.
My tears are also tears of conscience, for had we only done more, maybe, just maybe, the above-written scenario describing Max and Sean in forty years might not have been an impossible dream, rather reality.
We just have to do more.
May these young, brave heroes be an example, may they look down from above, and assist to guide us, may they rest in eternal peace, and may their memories be a blessing on us, on their friends and families, on all Am Yisrael. Amen.
Forward or Backward? A Good Day to Fast
July 15, 2014
Forward or Backward? A Good Day to Fast
Early this afternoon an article appeared in the Jewish Daily Forward. Authored, in two parts, by the paper's editor, Missy Jane Eisner, today's item features yours truly and Hebron.
A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from NY, informing me that Missy Eisner would be arriving and asked if I could give her a tour. I agreed. That's my job.
I know that The Forward is not overtly pro Judea and Samaria. I've had more than one run-in with them in the past. But when Missy Eisner arrived, I had hopes that maybe this time it would 'be different.' She'd never been in Hebron before and seemed to be looking forward to seeing the city. I asked her how much time we had, and her response was 'unlimited.' However, in the middle of the tour she received a call from her organizer saying that she had to rush off to Jerusalem for a long-awaited interview with Mark Regev, a spokesman in Netanyahu's office. For that reason, we had almost no time at Ma'arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. We literally had time to 'jump in and jump out,' because Regev was waiting. For that reason I had no time to provide any of the captivating stories or explanations that are so-much a part of a visit to this special, unique place. And in any case, after about a minute there, she felt 'sufficated,' and 'couldn't wait to leave.'
I suggest you read her article before you finish reading mine, in order to understand what I'm referring to.
Within the time frame we had, I gave her a 'super tour.' To the best of my recollection we also sat in my apartment for a while, allowing me to answer her questions. Beforehand, we visited Tel Hebron – also known as Tel Rumeida. She mentions some of the archeological excavations, and how much it didn't seem to affect her. Honestly, that certainly was not her response when we toured together. I also seem to remember her using the word, 'fascinating,' to describe her emotions. Her face, personality and other outer reactions reflected the normal result of almost all people who visit the site for the first time, that being total amazement.
We climbed six flights to the roof of the building atop the excavations. That is where she photographed me, that picture appearing in the article.
A word about me: it is true that I carry a pistol. I'm licensed to carry a gun for reasons of self defense. (I've been told that 30% of Israelis are licensed to carry weapons. That includes many Jews living outside of Judea and Samaria.) My pants are baggy. I don't think my beard is unkempt. (Take a look at the photo – judge for yourselves.) Additionally, my shirt was not stained. I do not wear dirty shirts while publicly representing the Jewish community of Hebron, especially when speaking to 'important' journalists, like Missy Eisner.
But on to more essential issues. The photo was taken on the roof, but Missy Eisner refrains from discussing anything we spoke about while up there, overlooking the city of Hebron. From there we can see the few, small areas, which comprise the Jewish Community, and the overwhelmingly large area, comprising the Arab-PA controlled part of the city. She doesn't mention the 17,000 Arab factories in Hebron, three hospitals and four universities, or five billion shekels in business Arab Hebron conducts with the state of Israel annually.
Missy Eisner did remember to quote my saying that Jews have access to 3% of the city. She forgot the rest of the sentence, that Arabs have access to 97% of the city.
She also quotes part of my reaction to her query as to why we live in Hebron. However, she mentions only a short part of my answer. Additionally, I emailed her a link to the 2nd edition of my booklet 'Breaking the Lies' (downloadable here), which begins with an article titled, 'Motivation' which answers her question in depth. Missy Eisner, it seems, missed that.
There are two fascinating aspects to Missy Eisner's article. She begins her essay on Hebron with the words, "This is what’s so frustrating about these extreme settlers. They openly and eagerly defy the law, then react bitterly when — or more likely, if — the government actually responds. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Hebron…"
In other words, we are, a priori, "defiant of the law." Very interesting. Except for the fact that nowhere in the article does Missy Eisner detail our 'defiance to the law,' our illegality. We just are. Why? Because we live in Hebron. That is, in her words, 'unreasonable.'
The photograph of me is captioned, beginning with the word 'agitator.' Missy Eisner later writes, "Wilder is the unremitting agitator, whose passion I’d find almost admirable if it wasn’t so utterly unreasonable."
I checked out the word 'agitator.' It has a distinctly hostile connotation, of 'troublemaker' or 'rabble-rouser,' as a friend of mine defined the term. Merriam-Webster writes: "a person who tries to get people angry or upset so that they will support an effort to change…"something.
So, there is something inherently negative about me, because I am 'passionate' about "Hebron' and I have the audacity to live here. With other Jews.
Actually, the only hint of any positive reference to Hebron was just that, "whose passion I’d find almost admirable if…". 'Almost admirable.' Thanks a lot.
In other words, there is absolutely nothing positive about Jewish Hebron. Not of Hebron past, present or future. It is not a place for Jews in the 'modern era' because it is, as she writes, in her opinion, a 'palestinian city.'
Actually, I think it's quite fitting that this article be printed today. For today's Hebrew date is the 17th of Tammuz, a fast day, beginning three weeks of mourning for the destruction of Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, in Jerusalem.
Among other events that are traditionally recorded to have occurred on this sad day was Moses' throwing down and breaking the first tablets of law, the Ten Commandments, upon seeing Jews dance around a 'golden calf,' which they were worshiping as a god.
Missy Eisner's article has a distinct flavor of 'golden calves,' printed in a publication that should not be called 'The Forward,' rather, 'the Backward.' Because it views that which is holy and sacred as profane and immoral. Those dancing around the golden calf, 3,300 years ago, had it backwards. G-d wasn't real, and should be replaced by a god, a golden calf. Missy Eisner, refers to Jewish presence in Hebron and throughout Judea and Samaria as, 'Damn the consequences.' In other words, 'let's dance around a golden calf of emptiness and worthlessness. That is, the god of 'realpolitik', forgetting about our rights as a people in our land.' I ask, what would be the consequences should we not live here, in our homeland, in Hebron? Would again the Tablets of the Law be cast down on the ground and smashed to smithereens? Meaning, in real terms, again, Exile?! Galut?! G-d forbid!
Missy Eisner, I have but one last thought. I've been able to conjure up in my memory another person, who too, thought that Jews in Hebron were 'agitators,' simply because they lived in Hebron. His name was Haj Amin El-Husseini.
This realization brings me to understand that, in actuality, today has turned out to be a good day to fast.
July 11, 2014
There are different kinds of bombs.
Presently we are experiencing bombs falling on Israel, launched by a terrorist government whose goal is the demise of the State of Israel and the annihilation of all its Jewish citizens.
Simultaneously Israel is returning the favor, not in an effort to kill all Gazan Arabs, rather to exterminate the animals who are causing 'Red Alert' to be sounded, not only in Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod, but also in Beit Shemesh, Jerusalem, Haifa, Caesarea, Tel Aviv, Nes Tziona, Rishon L'Tzion, and many other places, and yes, including even Hebron. (The unconfirmed rumors are that the missile aimed at us fell in the Arab village Daharia, in the Southern Hebron Hills, killing three Arabs.)
Last night one of my granddaughters, who lives in Beit Haggai, in the southern Hebron Hills, where too there was a siren yesterday, called me. Her father (my son) was called up a few days ago in the emergency draft. In tears she whispered, "Saba, I'm afraid."
There are major differences between our bombs and their bombs. They are aiming for Ben Gurion airport. Their primary targets are civilians.Apartment buildings. Factories. Shopping centers. Wherever. The more dead, the better. After all, that's the goal.
Before Israel releases its bombs, the intended 'house' is notified. Not once, rather twice. "Get out, we are going to bomb this house." The people inside have, not 15 seconds, but five minutes to evacuate. Then a 'warning flare' is released. "We are serious about this." And only after both these warnings, is the building destroyed.
Of course, these are not random dwellings. These are the home bases of the beasts trying to destroy Israel. If the people inside take the alerts seriously, they are not injured. But lately, the Hamas terror leadership in Gaza has told its citizens to 'ignore' the Israeli forewarning. Not only don't they care if their own civilians are killed. To the contrary, they prefer it. That way they have good photos to show the international media and at the UN.
Thank G-d, we are experiencing Divine miracles. The existence of the "Iron Dome" system, which shoots the terror missiles while still in the air is a double miracle. The very fact that such a weapon exists, and the fact that it actually works. According to IDF statistics, the success rate stands (or flies) at 90%. The system not only identifies the attacking missiles' trajectory, but also where it is expected to land. If the targeted area is populated, the 'iron dome' explodes into action. If it projects that the rocket will land in an unpopulated place, it does not operate. Miracle of miracles. And just to clarify some of the expenses involved: Each Iron Dome projectile costs about $50,000.
There is another kind of bomb. In my opinion no less necessary or effective.
A few days ago HaAretz newspaper sponsored a 'peace conference.' (Ironically they all had to scatter, running to bomb shelters when the air raid 'red alert' siren sounded.)
One of the invited guests was National Home Party Chairman and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett. He is not exactly a hardcore left-wing extremist. He, together with Uri Ariel and Uri Urbach represent the right in the Israeli government.
As soon as he walked onto the stage the heckling and screaming started. "Murderer, murderer." Etc Etc Etc.
Bennett has an extremely strong character, remaining very cool under very hot conditions.
"You will not shut me up. I will speak!" And despite the continued interruptions, he did speak, saying very important words.
First, he used an example from his business career, (he made millions), to make a point.
I paraphrase: 'We initiated a project and invested millions. Until, after a few months of total failure, we recognized that we'd made a mistake. As a result we changed everything, including the product itself. Today we have employed over 400 people.
When we made a mistake, we saw it and changed direction. When are you, on the left, going to admit that you've made a terrible mistake and change direction?!?'
Bennett then proceed to list four essentials:
1) Land matters. 'Where would you prefer to meet up with Da'aish (the extreme insurgent Islamic group on the verge of conquering Iraq)? On the Jordan River or on Road 6 (here in Israel, on the border of the 'green line' – the projected border for a 'palestinian state.)
2) Deterrence. 'When you live in an area of anarchy, you have to be strong! So strong that no one would even dare think of trying to harm you. Deterrence is the ability to inflict harm on your enemies and the willingness to actualize it if necessary.
3) Internal National Resilience. That is solidarity between various parts of society. We witnessed this unity after the abduction and murder of the three young me. Concerns for the minority.
4) Our right to exist in our land. We are here for over 3,800 years. From Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whose name is also Israel, to the Judges and King David and Soloman, the Maccabees, the 2nd Temple and the return to Zion. The idea is that a nation cannot be a conqueror or occupier in its own land.
"Not a foreign land we took, and we didn't use foreign property, rather the land of our forefathers, which was conquered by our enemies, without justification and we (the Jewish people), when we had the opportunity, we took back the land of our forefathers."
"Which Zionist pronounced these words," asked Bennett. No one knew. "Shimon the Maccabee, 2150 years ago."
Very impressive speech. Very effective bomb, of another type.
I'd like to conclude by defining one last 'bomb.' It relates to Bennett's first essential, that being land. Referring to this, he spoke of the missiles launched from land we abandoned to the Arabs in Gush Katif, and asked how it is possible that rockets aren't falling from Judea and Samaria. Because, of course, we are here.
The third, necessary bomb, is our return to Gaza, our return to Gush Katif. The rebuilding of the destroyed communities, and multiplication of that population by 1000% . Our enemies understand two languages: force and land. We are presently showing them force, and will continue to as long as necessary. But it is not enough. We must prove to them that we are serious. Force is not enough. We must take back our land, as we did in 1948 and 1967. We must continue walking in the footsteps of the Maccabees, we must continue living the words of Shimon the Maccabee. That will lead the road to total victory.
Those were the Days...
July 04, 2014
July 3, 1976 was a Shabbat. I had graduated from university a month earlier and had been accepted to be a counselor for a Jewish Agency summer group tour in Israel. Fortunately I was escorting a group of college-age youth, meaning that when they left back to the US, after the six week excursion, I wouldn't have to fly with them. The job paid my ticket back to Israel.
The group was scheduled to leave on Sunday, July 4th. That being, of course, the two hundredth birthday of the United States. Major events were planned for that day and my parents and I suspected that traffic, from NJ into Kennedy airport might be unbearable. So after Shabbat they drove me to a hotel near JFK. We said our goodbyes and I went to sleep.
Except that I didn't sleep very well. The thought of returning to Israel the next day was tremendously exciting. That excitement wasn't overly conducive to a sound sleep. So at some point, in the middle of the night, having nothing else to do, I turned on the radio. And what news did I hear!
The broadcaster was talking about how the Israeli hostages on the ill-fated Air France flight had just been rescued by a special Israeli military force at Entebbe in Uganda.
Wow!!! What a way to take off.
I remember, after our group arrived, we spent a couple of weeks on a Kibbutz in the north. The Kibbutznick lady in charge of our group sat everyone down around a campfire and talked about the feeling of wonder in the country, following the successful mission. We spoke about it, I have no recollection of what people said. And I'm sure that our emotions didn’t reach nearly the heights of the Israelis, who lived and breathed that hijacking day and night, until the miraculous rescue operation.
Thirty eight years ago. Thank G-d that it happened then, and not today. Because if that Air France plane had been hijacked and flown to Idi Amin in 2014, Israel would never have even contemplated such a daring undertaking. After all, what would Obama, the EU and the UN say? Innocent Ugandans might be hurt. Israel would be violating the sovereignty of a foreign nation. What right would we have to take on such a preposterous military adventure?!
Instead, the 'security cabinet' would have sat together, making up a list of terrorists to be released, including murderers with 'blood on their hands.' They might also have contemplated, as per the terrorist demands, expulsion and destruction of several communities in Judea and Samaria. After all, saving all those hundreds of people would be worth any price. Especially when the world community was saying that the hijacking was our own fault. The terrorists aren't really terrorists. They are frustrated Arabs, without a home, without a land, without….. What can you expect from such poor, discouraged people?!
This is what was going through my head this morning when I saw headlines, that Israel had given the Hamas in Gaza an ultimatum. If they did not stop bombing Israel with rockets and missiles within 48 hours, Israel would invade.
In other words, they had two full days to continue shelling Sderot and Ashkelon, and then, stop.
This week, speaking to a German journalist, I asked/told her the following: If a rocket was shot from France into Germany and hit a building, and German Prime Minister Merkel did nothing, rather told the nation that they must be 'restrained,' how long would it take the German parliament to vote her out of her office?!
But in Israel? Dozens of missiles hit and our reaction? Nothing.
Why did they begin these attacks now? Again, we are to blame. These rockets were, I believe actually a 'warning' to Netanyahu. The Gazan terrorists said like this: 'we kidnapped and killed three Israeli youth. We hid their bodies; it took you almost 3 weeks to find them. Now you want to react. Don't you dare! Because if you do, these few days of missiles will turn into weeks and months. You won't be able to stop us. We have long-range rockets that can hit Tel Aviv easily. So, Mr. Prime Minister Netanyahu, be a good boy and don't play with matches. Don't even think about any kind of military action against us as a result of our successful terror. Beware – you've been warned.'
The 'security cabinet' met twice (that we know of) following discovery of the murdered men. After the first night's session, rumors abounded about the disagreements and arguments between the various ministers. After the next night's meeting, no details were released at all to the media.
And since then, total quiet. Israel has not reacted, in any suitable way, to the abduction and killing of the youth. The Hamas bombs us, and Israel shells some empty buildings in Gaza. Not exactly what we could call Entebbe 2.
The impotence of this government is mind-boggling. Most of the coalition is center-right. Yet a very small number of people seem to be swinging them all to the left. Including Netanyahu, who has never been known to have tremendous inner stamina, courage, or a firm backbone.
I was never a big fan of Rabin-Peres. Almost all of what is happening at present is their responsibility. But had Binyamin Netanyahu been prime minister on July 4, 1976, I have no doubt that today, 38 years later, we wouldn't be celebrating the heroic event known as Entebbe.
In conclusion, I highly recommend an article authored by Prof. Mordechai Kedar, called, "However, we are guilty." After that, nothing else needs to be said.
Sur m´ra v´Aseh tov - Destory the evil and do good
July 02, 2014
My statement to the media at a press conference yesterday at Yeshivat Shavei Hevron, here in Hebron.
We sat here almost a month ago following the abduction, in hope and prayer that we might meet the press here again at a big celebration and unfortunately that's not the case. In Hebrew we say,' sur m'ra v'aseh tov' – first do away with the evil and then do good and that's the path that the State of Israel must follow today. We lost three men, three boys, three heroes who didn't know anything about evil. Their only crime was that they were Jews living in Eretz Yisrael, studying in Hebron, studying in Gush Etzion, who wanted to do good. That was their purpose in life, those were their values, and the evil of the evil, the worst of the evil took their lives, but that spirit can never be taken. The side that the State of Israel must follow today, sur m'ra, to destroy evil, to eradicate evil, all of the terror, anyone who associates with the terror, anybody who gives any kind of support whatsoever for terror, has to be eradicated, has to be eliminated, has to be done away with. At the big rally in Tel Aviv, where we found all of the different sides of the Israeli people coming together, left, right, anything, everyone was there. One of the things that was said by the chairman of the student's union, was that their cannot be any justification whatsoever, in any way, shape or form, for the abduction, and he would add to that today, murder, of three young people. There's no justification, there's nothing that can be said, no excuses that can be given.
It goes without saying that Hamas, the Jihad, the Salafists who are starting to infiltrate, associated with Al-Queida, they all have to be wiped out, in any way that is necessary. The Israeli security forces know how to do that. I include in that group, Abu Mazen and the palestinian authority, who made a unity pact with Hamas. People who make unity pacts with terrorists are terrorists. Their goals are the same. Enough of the handshaking, the hugging, the kissing, the 'let's be friends.' It's all a show. And it has to come to an end. The state of Israel has to make that clear, because if it's not made clear, then we'll sit here again together, and if it's not here in Hebron, then it will be, G-d Forbid, in Elon Moreh, or in Yerushalayim, or in Sderot, because that's their goal. And if we don't destroy them, then they will continue to murder Jews.
We saw the other day, 15 missiles shot, from Gaza into Sderot, it was a Divine miracle that no one was hurt, that no one was killed.
That's the side of Sur m'Ra, do away with evil.
There's another side, which is Aseh tov, to do good. Doing good means that we have to do what is good in our opinion, in the eyes of G-d, and to show the world that we have no intentions of acquiescing. We will not acquiesce to terror.
This yeshiva, which is a pillar of Torah learning, not only in Hebron, but throughout the state of Israel, has 350 students. It should be a yeshiva of 1000 men. The building should be tripled in size. There should be dormitories for 1000 men. That's Aseh tov. That's doing good. That's taking the spirit of Eyal, Naftali and Gil-Ad and raising it up, raising up their spirit. Raising up the spirit of Am Yisrael, of the Jewish people.
Their used to be what was called the 'Zionist response,' to murders. When people were murdered, such as here in Hebron in 1980, when six men were murdered outside here, just down the road, outside Beit Hadassah, the Israeli government finalized and actualized the permits necessary for the renewal of the Jewish community of Hebron. That was the Zionist response. That has to be renewed, it's been ignored, or perhaps even contradicted over the years. It has to be renewed.
One of the best ways to respond would be to expand the Jewish community of Hebron. Give us building permits. Give us the ability to purchase from the Arabs that want to sell us property, but not only in Hebron, rather throughout Judea and Samaria. The area in Gush Ezion can be expanded, and should be annexed. So too through Binyamin and Samaria.
This has to be our response. The goal of the terrorists is to move us out, not only to move us out of Judea and Samaria, but to move us out of Tel Aviv, Tzfat, Beer Sheva and Haifa. Those places and be built up too. But today the controversy centers here. And our response, of 'doing good,' is to show the world that we will not acquiesce to terror.
Those are the immediate steps that have to be taken. Of course today we mourn, with the families, with the friends, we mourn with all the Jewish people, because today the grief is national. Last night there were kids walking through the streets crying. I had people from the US and from around the world sending me text messages, and emails, calling me, with condolences. People called me up in tears, both Jews and non-Jews. The feeling of grief for these people knows no boundaries, except of course, for the terrorists, and those who wish to continue such acts, and that must stop, and we will do anything and everything we have to do to push the Israeli government, those people who are making the decisions, and we have representatives in that government, and take all of the steps necessary. And I really do think that the first step would be to make this Yeshiva a study place for 1000 people. And Makor Haim in Gush Etzion, where the other two men studied, to do the same thing there. And with G-d's help we will never have to meet again under these circumstances for a press conference. But you'll all be invited when this Yeshiva is transformed into an international Torah organization , when we have here men like Mickey (Zivan) and others, from around the world, and not only men, we can have here too a women's division. For the good of the entire world.
Question: What about the world opinion, which is against these things that you say?
I tell you what I've told other journalists: I don't give a damn what the world thinks. The world sat, 70 years ago, and watched as Jews were shoveled into ovens at Aushwitz. They didn't do anything about it. The leaders of the western powers knew what was happening. It's detailed and documented. It could have stopped. They didn’t' raise their pinkies to try and stop it. The world today is not interested in the existence of the state of Israel. Today it's not popular to be anti-Semitic, anti-Semitism has taken on a new form, it's called being anti-Israel and pro palestinian. Pure rabid anti-Semitism. And its goal is the destruction of the state of Israel. The world does not give a damn about us, and I, very honestly, don't give a damn about them. We have to survive, we have to do what is best for us and see to it that our people are safe, we have to make sure that guys standing on the road to catch a ride home aren’t picked up by terrorists and murdered in cold blood. Everyone hitches and we aren't going to stop. People have to be safe. If the world doesn't like it, that's their problem.
June 27, 2014
There are many people in Israel who feel like these past two weeks have been the longest two weeks in their lives. Since the moment the abduction became public knowledge, the tension is palpable. There's more unknown than known. Optimism flips to pessimism and then back again. Emotions overcome intellect, but then the mind overtakes the heart. Faith, prayer, and a seemingly never-ending glance at the news, with someone in the background asking, 'did they find them yet?'
Israel has experienced difficult times. Anxiety is no stranger to anyone in this State. Wars, missiles, terror, shootings, intifadas, you name it. It's very difficult to find a reason for apprehension that does not exist in Israel, over the years.
This time it seems, for some reason, different. Almost all barriers have crumbled. There is literally wall-to-wall concern and support for the families. Left and right, the most divisive forces in Israel, have come together. This has happened before, notably following a prior abduction, that of Nachshon Wachsman, in 1994.
The difference, of course, is that Wachsman was a soldier. The three teenagers, Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal are just that, teenagers. They are civilians.
Yet, that's not entirely true. Our enemies have declared, numerous times that the three young men are soldiers, 'Zionist soldiers.' In a sense, they are correct. Because in truth, we are all soldiers. Some of us, in khaki uniform, and others in regular, everyday clothing. But the superficiality of our dress does not change the fact that we are all, one way or another, serving our country, serving our people, serving our G-d.
Our very presence, not only in Judea and Samaria, but anywhere in Israel, makes us soldiers. Because we, the State of Israel, is still fighting a War of Independence. We are still struggling for existence. There are many out there, around the world, who would be more than happy to see us deleted from the map of the globe.
A few days ago I attended a special Knesset caucus meeting, dealing with the delegitimation of Israel throughout the world. The keynote speaker was former Gov. Mike Huckabee. Of course he spoke very well and to the point. Features about his visit in Israel and in the Knesset can be seen here.
One of the main points, which I've spoken about in the past, and was also stressed by Huckabee and also ZOA president Mort Klein, at the Knesset session, is the fact that rabid anti-Semitism is still very much present, in Europe and the US. However, in our modern day and age, it is not popular or correct to be anti-Semitic. Therefore, pure Jew-hatred has taken on a 'new dress' that being a double edged sword of being anti-Israel and pro-Arab (palestinian).
I'll get back to this idea in a moment. But first, another thought must be presented.
One of the almost inexpressible utmost uplifting results of the horrid abduction of the three youth is the appearance of three new Israeli leaders, for I don't think there is any other way to describe them. Leaders. Iris Yifrach, Rachel Frankel, and Bat-Galim Sha'ar.
Three women, whose courage, faith, and stamina, during the most difficult time that can be conjured up in the worst possible nightmare imaginable, are leading the Israeli public through this horrendous event.
I've been working as a spokesman, opposite press and public for almost two decades. It's not easy work. You have to think and speak simultaneously. Knowing that a slip of the tongue can be catastrophic. These women, evolved literally overnight, from being private people, wives and mothers, to being not only spokeswomen, but also symbols, of Israel.
Perhaps the culmination of their efforts occurred a few days ago when they appeared at the UN Council for Human Rights in Geneva.
Here, talk about anti-Semitism?! I watched live, over the internet, how one country after another condemned, not the butchery in Syria or Iraq, not the abduction of three teenagers, rather, only the 'violation of palestinian human rights.' Nothing else in the world takes precedence to this. Not the mass slaughter in Syria, not the arrest and death sentence of a woman in Sudan who dared to convert to Christianity from Islam, and certainly not rockets fired at Israel from Gaza, or continued terror against Jews. Only one thing matters, that being the 'occupation.'
How these three women sat there, listening to this revolting hate is beyond me. But more amazing than that was Rachel Frankel's presentation to the world organization, describing the three young men, their abduction, and plea for international intervention, to bring the boys home, alive, safe, to their families. Such grace and dignity, representing Israel with honor, an embodiment of the best of the best. Spokeswomen, leaders, soldiers. Literally, warriors, fighting for their sons, but not only for their children, rather for their people.
Unfortunately not all Israelis fit into this category of heroics. Specifically MKS like Hanin Zuabi, who, rather than condemn the abduction, praise and support it, or MK Achmad Tibi and others, who support Hamas, refusing to recognize them as a terror organization. Even Jewish MK Amram Mitzne, who compared the Jewish Home party with Hamas.
These kind of people should be spewed out of Israeli society, and certainly should not be allowed to serve in our parliament, the Knesset. There are no words of condemnation strong enough to use to describe them.
But these are surely not representative of the Israeli public at large. An Israeli public which not only embraces the families, but also recognizes their outstanding nobility, during such trying times.
Yesterday the military and intelligence forces released the names and photographs of the Arabs suspected of abducting Gilad, Naftali and Eyal. They are monsters. Their families are well-known for previous terror activities against Israel. They will be found, eventually, and the youth too, will be brought back to their families. The events may deteriorate before they get better. But nothing can or will ever erase the magnitude of these women's determination and fortitude. They are a beacon of light, shining forth the essence of our people. They are what Israel is all about.
We will continue to pray, to hug them, and wait.
Celebrating Hebron Liberation Day
May 29, 2014
Celebrating Hebron Liberation Day
Forty eight years ago it couldn't have happened.
Dozens of Israeli men and women, in uniform, standing in formation, in the plaza outside Ma'arat HaMachpela.
Yesterday we celebrated Yom Yerushalayim – Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of the liberation of the holiest city in the world, Jerusalem. Foreign occupation, beginning some 2,000 years ago finally ended. True, this sacred city was not (and still is not) 'complete' – but, Jews, as those who for hundreds of year gave their lives reciting the words "Next year in Jerusalem" could finally actualize this dream.
Today we celebrate Yom Hebron, Hebron Liberation Day. The following day, after liberation of Jerusalem, the Jewish people came home to Hebron.
This phrase, 'coming home,' cannot be taken for granted. I speak with hundreds of people from around the world who cannot grasp how or why Hebron is 'home' to the Jewish people, and who cannot fathom why people like myself would come to live here.
The story of our return is well known. Following the liberation of the Kotel, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the then Chief Rabbi of the IDF, Rabbi Shlomo Goren zt"l, traveled from Jerusalem to Gush Etzion, about half-way between Hebron and Jerusalem. There he met up with the Israeli forces who had, that same day, freed that area too. Knowing that the next morning they would be leaving for Hebron, he made a short speech about the importance of Hebron, and lay down to rest for a few hours.
When he awoke, the site was empty of people. Rabbi Goren woke up his driver, saying, 'They left without us – get in the jeep, we'll catch up with them.'
So it was that a Rabbi and his driver, alone, drove from Gush Etzion south, towards Hebron. Driving into Hebron, Rabbi Goren quickly realized the Arab enemy had surrendered, viewing white sheets hanging from windows and rooftops. The city's Arab residents remembered all too well the 1929 massacre, when 67 Jews were slaughtered by their next-door neighbors in August of that year. Fearing retribution, the Arab men fled the city, with the women and children waiting for the liberating forces.
Rabbi Goren quickly made his way to Ma'arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, which had been totally off-limits to Jews for 700 years. This, the first Jewish possession in the first Jewish city in Israel, second in sanctity only to Temple Mount in Jerusalem, was finally back in Jewish hands.
Rabbi Goren ran up the western staircase, only to find the doors closed and locked. Unable to open them, he shot at the doors with his Uzi submachine gun. However, the doors remained locked. He backed his jeep up the stairs, attached chains to the jeep and the doors, and proceeded to pull then down. At last inside, he began to pray, thanking G-d for the miracles happening.
The Mufti of Hebron sent a messenger, wanting to surrender. Rabbi Goren sent him away, saying 'This place, Ma'arat HaMachpela, is a place of prayer and peace. Surrender elsewhere.' Which is what happened.
Rabbi Goren later explained: I have the rank of General. Why should I give them the honor to surrender to a General? Let them surrender to a lower ranking officer.' Which too happened.
However, when the Rabbi left in his jeep from Gush Etzion, his goal was to catch up to the army. Where were they?
What he didn't realize was that the IDF was unaware that Hebron's Arabs were about to surrender. They had made their way to the western side of Gush Etzion, to prepare the attack. They had also sent a contingent to enter the city from another direction.
In other words, Rabbi Goren liberated Hebron for the Jewish people, singlehandedly.
That's how we came back to Hebron.
Last night, we again reaffirmed our allegiance to this so holy a place.
For the past two years, Colonel Avi Bluth commanded the Judea Division, sometimes called the Hebron Division. Avi grew up in Israel. His parents made Aliyah, that is, came to live in Israel from the United States. Last night, at a unique and special ceremony, Avi transferred command to another young colonel, Yariv Ben Ezra. The ceremony took place in the plaza outside the huge structure, atop the caves of Machpela.
It is very difficult for me to express the emotions I sensed during the half-hour ceremony. I might call it pride, but actually it's much more than that.
First, about the commander. Avi Bluth is a military man. But he is also a religious Jew.
For many years, it was almost impossible for an orthodox Jew to reach such the rank and position of Colonel. And today, when it is possible, I'm asked about the 'religious people' 'taking over' the army.
When religious Jews didn't undertake military service, as did others, they were accused of 'not serving the country.' Now, when religious Jews do undertake to serve, and reach high-ranking positions, they are accused of 'taking over.' As one person described it to me, 'you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don’t.'
In any case, my personal feelings, seeing a man like Avi, serving with such distinction, in a place like Hebron, are overwhelming. At a short farewell meeting in our offices, I told him that not too many people have had the privilege and honor to serve where Abraham, the Jewish people's first General, and David, who became King of Israel in Hebron, lived and served.
The fact that Avi is religious didn't affect his decision-making. There were times when we agreed with his decisions and actions, and times when we didn't. We had many meetings with him and conducted an open line of communications. As has been the case with previous commanders, and as will continue with the new commander. His assessments determined his decisions, as should be.
What I didn't say to Avi was how much he reminded me of a previous Hebron commander, Col. Dror Weinberg, hy'd, who was killed in Hebron during a major terror attack over ten years ago. Both men are very similar. Both young, very determined, very loyal, very hard working, and also, both religious.
But Avi mentioned him during his outgoing speech last night, saying that Dror was his first commander, and that he was to him an example to be followed.
Avi also spoke of the honor and privilege to serve and command in Hebron.
And all of this, at this so special a site, the Tombs of the first Jews, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rivka, and Ya'akov and Lea. Liberated, exactly 47 years ago today.
What an experience!
Lately I've found some words, which perhaps, express in the most lucid way possible, our connection to Hebron.
The Jews are the most tenacious people in history. Hebron is there to prove it.
It ties 20 miles south of Jerusalem, 3,000 feet up in the Judaean hills. There, in the Cave of Machpelah, are the Tombs of the Patriarchs. According to ancient tradition, one sepulchre, itself of great antiquity, contains the mortal remains of Abraham, founder of the Jewish religion and ancestor of the Jewish race. Paired with his tomb is that of his wife Sarah. Within the building are the twin tombs of his son Isaac and his wife Rebecca. Across the inner courtyard is another pair of tombs, of Abraham's grandson Jacob and his wife Leah...This is where the 4,000-year history of the Jews, in so far as it can be anchored in time and place, began.
Hebron has great and venerable beauty. It provides the peace and stillness often to be found in ancient sanctuaries. But its stones are mute witnesses to constant strife and four millennia of religious and political disputes. It has been in turn a Hebrew shrine, a synagogue, a Byzantine basilica, a mosque, a crusader church, and then a mosque again. Herod the Great enclosed it with a majestic wall, which still stands, soaring nearly 40 feet high, composed of massive hewn stones, some of them 23 feet long. Saladin adorned the shrine with a pulpit. Hebron reflects the long, tragic history of the Jews and their unrivalled capacity to survive their misfortunes. David was anointed king there, first of Judah (II Samuel 2:1-4), then of all Israel (II Samuel 5:1-3). When Jerusalem fell, the Jews were expelled and it was settled by Edom. It was conquered by Greece, then by Rome, converted, plundered by the Zealots, burned by the Romans, occupied in turn by Arabs, Franks and Mamluks. From 1266 the Jews were forbidden to enter the Cave to pray. They were permitted only to ascend seven steps by the side of the eastern wall. On the fourth step they inserted their petitions to God in a hole bored 6 feet 6 inches through the stone.
...The Jewish community, never very numerous, was ferociously attacked by the Arabs in 1929...When Israeli soldiers entered Hebron during the Six Day War in 1967, for a generation not one Jew had lived there. But a modest settlement was re-established in 1970. Despite much fear and uncertainty, it has flourished.
So when the historian visits Hebron today, he asks himself: where are all those peoples which once held the place? Where are the Canaanites? Where are the Edomites? Where are the ancient Hellenes and the Romans, the Byzantines, the Franks, the Mamluks and the Ottomans? They have vanished into time, irrevocably. But the Jews are still in Hebron.
Hebron is thus an example of Jewish obstinacy over 4,000 years.
These words where not authored by myself, rather by a Gentile historian, Paul Johnson, in a book called: A History of the Jews.
This is Hebron, this is Eretz Yisrael, this is Am Yisrael, this is Torat Yisrael.
All wrapped up in one.
As exemplified by Col Avi Bluth, by Col Yariv Ben Ezra, and by so many others.
Happy Hebron liberation day.
David the Nachalite
Iyar 1, 5774, 5/1/2014
David the Nachalite
A couple of days ago a new youtube video surfaced, filmed just outside my Beit Hadassah home in Hebron. It shows an Israeli soldier, guarding on the road outside the building, being first verbally, and then physically attacked, first by one Arab, and then by a second, who joined in. The soldier, realizing he is being threatened from two sides, loads his weapon, pointing it at the attackers, who then leave.
Following release of this video, the soldier, named David, who belonged to the Nachal IDF division, was relieved of his post, put on trial, jailed and told that he would no longer serve in a combat unit.
There are still a few unanswered questions about the soldier and his punishment. The IDF first claimed that he'd been punished because of 'unnecessary violence' against the Arabs who attacked him. They later changed that, claiming that he is a 'problematic soldier,' having been involved in disputes with his commanding officers.
I was told, by friends of his, serving here in Hebron, that this incident and its ramifications have 'broken him.' They related that he did have incidents that may have brought about some kind of punishment, but not nearly as severe as he was sentenced to, (twenty days in prison) and that he would not have been banished from his army unit.
In other words, he was definitely harshly punished for defending himself against Arab aggression.
As an aside, but an important note: Young men work very hard to succeed in combat units. They must endure rough basic training, long marches, with full equipment loads, and then proceed to 'advanced training' sessions which are no less trying than basic training. After months of extreme physical and also mental exertion, they 'graduate' into active units, which serve in places like the Golan Heights, the border with Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt or Gaza, and areas in Judea and Samaria, like Hebron.
Hebron is considered to be one of the most difficult posts. There are frequent 'alerts,' there is tension, as soldiers must remain very alert for long periods of time, and the hours they work are not easy. With that, many soldiers here find their work rewarding; they develop positive bonds with many people here, both Hebron residents and visitors from around the world, they are serving in Hebron, which many find to be a unique experience, and they understand that here they are serving Am Yisrael, the people of Israel and the State of Israel, in as tangible way as possible.
The media immediately picked up the video and broadcast it on Israeli television. One TV news host asked the correspondent what should be done in such a case. The reporter answered that the 'orders' are for the soldier to 'put down his head, look the other way and ignore them.' The news anchor replied, 'I take my hat off to anyone who can do that.'
Very quickly word spread of David's punishment. A facebook page was opened, protesting his punishment, with soldiers posting photos of themselves, many times with their faces hidden, with notes saying, "I'm with David, the Nachal soldier." The page has over 100,000 'likes.'
Hebron's Jewish community also conducted a demonstration yesterday, opposite the base where David served, until being jailed.
The issue at point is not simple. Clearly the IDF must enforce codes of action and also of discipline. However, it does not stand to reason that a soldier is punished for defending himself against Arab aggression.
This problem is not new. In the past, soldiers in Hebron, and in other places were punished, including imprisonment, for defending themselves against rock-thowing Arabs, and fire-bomb attacks. Senior officers were dismissed from the IDF for defending themselves against anarchist-foreigners, who attacked them and endangered their lives. In the past I told many visitors who asked about self-defense: 'It's permissible to use your weapon if you're dead. If you're still alive, it's forbidden.' This may sound silly or exaggerated, but unfortunately, it's almost true.
What really happened with David from the Nachal division? Simply, he was set up. There's an organization in Hebron called Youth against Settlements. It's run by an 'old friend' Issa Amru, with whom I've had multiple run-ins. What he does is 'set up' soldiers, and other security personnel, like David. He sends a few Arabs to begin a provocation, with at least one or two others in the rear, with cameras rolling. A soldier, border policeman, or even a civilian is verbally, and/or physically attacked. The victim responds. The entire incident is filmed, edited and posted on youtube. The result is an arrest, trial and many times, conviction, as happened with David, the Nachal soldier.
The ramifications are exceedingly serious. First, this blots Israel's good name. The US State Department released a report reprimanding Israel for attacks against Arabs (palestinians) while commending PA 'security forces.' Such 'admissions' by Israel of 'unnecessary violence' against Arabs, even when they are clearly the instigators, is similar to kicking a soccer ball into your opponent's goal for him.
But more disturbing is the influence on soldiers. Such incidents lower their morale and cause them, most problematically, to hesitate. Certainly there are times when a soldier or officer must 'stop and think.' But there are other situations, when many people's lives could be at stake, when the person must act instinctively. If they hesitate, even for a moment, the results can be catastrophic. If a soldier, when attacked, must hesitate, stop and think before reacting, he many lose his life and many others may, too. It is unthinkable that a person should be trained, given a uniform and arms, sent out to protect civilians, and then told to refrain from acting when the situation calls for immediate action.
And of course, these event cause great joy and comfort to the enemy, who realizing his victory, continues on the same road, continuing to goad soldiers and civilians, hoping to bring them too, to their knees. Over the past few days I've seen numerous incidents whereby soldiers, at the same location next to Beit Hadassah, are baited by Arab youth of all ages, with the soldier left with little recourse but to look the other way, and walk away.
Today the IDF officially forbade soldiers from using Facebook as a means to protest such incidents, as David the Nachal soldier's punishment. It seems to me that this attempt to subdue public objections will fail. To the contrary, it will only fan the flames of turbulence amongst the brave young IDF warriors, who ask, rightly, 'what do you want from us?' As they write on their facebook photos, 'we are with David the Nachalite.'
The root of this issue is, 'what will they say,' the 'they' being Obama and Kerry, the EU's Ashton, and other anti-Israel, pro-Arab world leaders. So, who comes first? Our men and women in uniform, their lives and the lives of civilians, or world opinion?
The answer should be clear, after sixty six years of independence.
This article does not necessarily represent the views of the Hebron Jewish Community
May 01, 2014
April 22, 2014
Pesach, Passover, is a special holiday. The redemption of our people, Am Yisrael, some 3,500 years ago. It serves as the foundation for our future, that is, the issues, such as being enslaved in Egypt, and the liberation from that bondage.
It has happened time and time again. Twice we suffered the destruction of our spiritual center, Jerusalem, were exiled from our land. And we returned. Jews lived quite comfortably in Spain for hundreds of years, only to be cruelly exiled, following a brutal inquisition. Ditto France, England and other countries. Ditto plus some, Germany of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Oppression and then triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds.
So too, Hebron, something of a microcosm of Israel, the state of Israel and the history of Israel.
Moments ago, prior to beginning this article, French and Spanish journalists questioned me about our return to Beit HaShalom. Speaking about our presence in Hebron, they said, 'but this is 'palestinian' land.'
I stared at them, sort of smiling, not saying anything.
Then the statement was repeated, as a question.
"Look, where we are standing, this was bought by Jews in Hebron in 1807. The area behind us was lived on, as a Jewish neighborhood, from the middle of the 1500s by Jews who'd been exiled from Spain in 1492. And Jews lived here for hundreds of years before that. So is it 'palestinian property?' I think not, I think it is Jewish property."
'But the 'palestinians' and international NGOs claim that the building, Beit HaShalom was stolen - the papers were forged...?'
"Right, except that two Israeli courts, including the Supreme Court, ruled that the building was legally purchased. If they had ruled against us, you would say they were correct. Now that they've ruled for us, you say they're wrong?!"
So it goes, on and on.
Pesach in Hebron is always special. Thousands, no, tens of thousands, flock to the city, visiting Ma'arat HaMachpela, the tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, and other fascinating sites in the city.
Sweet. The story of redemption.
But it wasn't entirely sweet.
About an hour before the Seder, the beginning of the holiday, one of my sons called me, asking very abruptly, 'what's happening at Tarqumia?'
Tarqumia is a known checkpoint, about 10 kilometers west of Hebron.
'Don't know, why?'
'Check it - there was a terror attack. Someone was killed' Others injured.'
Bitter. Very Bitter.
I didn't know until the next day who had been killed. I found out, almost a week later that some of my friends from Hebron were at that very site, where the shooting occurred, literally minutes after the attack.
Such events are never pleasant. But on the eve of a holiday, the celebration of redemption, knowing that a few families were having a very very difficult time rejoicing, knowing that more children were added to the list of orphans, it's not a happy way to start a festival.
A big dark cloud covered the light of the sun.
We knew that the attack would influence peoples' decision to visit Hebron in the coming days. Understandably. Yet, some 25,000 people were able to overcome, letting their feet do the talking, saying, as Jews have exclaimed for thousands of years, nothing can stand in our way. This is our home, this is our land, this is our city. Here we are, to prove it.
It is quite well known that during the Passover Seder we eat Matza, a symbol of our liberation from Egypt. Perhaps it is less known, or perhaps, less understood, that we also eat bitter herbs, in remembrance of the harsh conditions we had to live under in Egypt. Not only do we eat them, but we also say a blessing over them.
It should be easily comprehended why we bless the consumption of Matza. But bitter herbs?
Except that the bitterness was part of the redemption. Only after experiencing the bitterness of slavery in Egypt could we appreciate the sweetness of liberation.
Additionally, the 'bitter herbs' of days gone by were also a preparation, for the acrimony we would continue to experience, throughout the ages. We thank G-d, that He has given us the inner strength, an almost unimaginable faith, allowing us to overcome, to overcome, to overcome.
Hadas Mizrachi, now the widow, formerly the wife of Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrachi, a short time after the murder:
"I'll be strong for the children, because that's what Baruch would have wanted. We should also be thankful for the miracle that my children and I survived. We will stay strong and God willing, my children will grow and succeed, and that will be my victory against the terrorists," said the mother, whose condition is defined as moderate. "I have two bullet wounds and a fractured rib." [http://bit.ly/1f125Gx]
During the Seder, we eat the Matza and the Bitter Herbs separately, and then put them together, sort of a sandwich.
Oppression and redemption, Bitter and sweet. Tears of festivity, tears of mourning. Baruch Shehechianu, Blessing the good - Baruch Dayan HaEmet, Blessing the bad. Matzah and Bitter Herbs.
Such was our Passover this year, in Hebron.
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