Saturday, November 1, 1997

Who's Left?

Who's Left?
November 1, 1997


Last week Israel's "most-honorable" President, Ezer Weitzmann again opened his mouth and stuck his foot in, as he is so wont to do.  In Beit Shemesh on Wednesday Weitzmann told his audience that it's not always worthwhile to read the Bible because not everything written in it is 'sympathetic.'  He also had some choice remarks about Moshe Rabbenu - (Moses).

The next day during Kol Yisrael's morning radio show, Shelly YECHemovitch, asked Israeli Chief Rabbi Lau what he thought about Weitzmann's assertion. Rav Lau's answer: "Exactly 60 years ago this week the British Peel Commission, studying the 'problem' of Jewish aliyah to Eretz Yisrael concluded its hearings. One of the major witnesses to testify was David Ben Gurion. (Ben Gurion was not known for his observation of Torah law.) When he finished answering the panel's questions, they asked him one last question before he left. "What is the source of Jewish rights to settle in the Land of Israel?" they queried.  Ben Gurion answered with one word: "This."  In his hand he was holding up, before the British commission, a copy of the Bible.

When Rav Lau finished, YECHemovitch, as not her wont, had nothing to say.

The problem with Weitzmann's remarks is not only what he said. The next day, in reply to protests made by the religious parties, he apologized if he 'hurt anybody's feelings.' Following the expression of regret the religious politicians immediately announced that they could now support Weitzmann for a second, five-year term of office. (His first term of office is nearly over.) 

How can anyone support a man who is willing to publicly say that the Bible shouldn't be read? He didn't retract his remarks; he just apologized for saying them.

About a month and a half ago I was approached to give a tour of Hebron to four Israeli 'border policemen.' One of them lives in a community not far from Hebron. The others are serving in a city in Benyamin. They came in and we spend several hours together. Later we sat down to an in-depth discussion with Noam Arnon. It was fairly obvious that they didn't all lean to the right, but I had no idea as to the results of our meeting.

Last week one of these men called me up and told me that he really enjoyed his trip to Hebron and that his eyes had been opened up to 'the other side.'  As a result he asked me if I could take him on another tour, with a few more of his friends. I was very busy, but agreed to spend a couple of hours with them. A few days ago they arrived - and we were together for almost four and a half hours.  One of the young women, in particular, questioned and commented. Both she and one of the others spoke about the 'historical' conflict between Jews and Arabs. When I pointed out that the conflict is not so much historical, as religious, they were both, more or less, stunned. They told me that this was the first time they had ever heard such an opinion. We spoke for a long time and visited the Jewish neighborhoods in the city. They were, I observed, extremely moved by the memorial room for the Jews slaughtered in 1929.  I have no doubt that they left Hebron changed people. No, I'm sure they didn't change all of their views, but they surely had much to ponder.

During the Succot holiday we had tens of thousands in Hebron. I had the pleasure to escort a few of these tourists through Jewish Hebron. Each day at least one person on each of the groups asked, after hearing stories of what is happening in Hebron, and seeing it with their own two eyes, WHY? - How can this thing have actually happened - where is the logic?

I have only one answer: EDUCATION.

Only people who have absolutely no appreciation for Jewish heritage, for Jewish history, for the importance of Eretz Yisrael to Judaism - only people whose personal philosophy can lead them to say, 'it's not worthwhile to read the Bible' - only these people can be willing to relieve themselves of major parts of Israel - of Beit Lechem, of Shechem, of Hebron and yes, even of Jerusalem.
Then, of course, a very good question can be posed: How then, do 'RELIGIOUS' politicians support such policies?  The answer is, of course, the same as given above - EDUCATION. Unfortunately, even those who, at least outwardly, are 'observant' forgot, or perhaps never knew, the essentials of Am Yisrael - one of which is, Eretz Yisrael. This is a direct result of our 2,000-year galut - exile from the Land of Israel.

Last week Prime Minister Netanyahu told Rav Kaduri that the Israeli left has forgotten what Judaism is. He is correct. He didn't say that they are not Jewish - he acclaimed that they don't know what being Jewish means. What he doesn't realize is that he too, falls into the same category. Only a leader who has absolutely no understanding of Judaism could give Arafat 80% of Hebron, or agree, for that matter, to give him, or anyone else, any land area in Israel.

Tonight Foreign Minister David Levy, one of the people responsible for rebuilding The Jewish Community of Hebron, is leaving for Washington to renew negotiations with Arafat's cronies. He is going to discuss opening a new Arab airport in Gazza, freezing Jewish building in Judea and Samaria, and implementation of the next stage of 'further redeployments.' According to news reports tonight he will agree 'temporarily' freeze Jewish building if Arafat will agree to forgo the next staged abandonment of parts of Israel. Arafat will, no doubt, refuse. The American 'partner' is going to attempt to force an agreement calling for continued Israeli concessions. Levy may very well fold.

It's time we realize that the questions facing the Jewish people today are not really 'who's left.' At least, not in the political sense of right and left. Today the questions center around 'who is right - and who is wrong.'  Are we going to live 'Jewishly' in Eretz Yisrael, according to, even as Ben Gurion realized, the right we have from time immemorial?.  Or, are we going to let the nations of the world, who sat by and watched while six million were shoveled into ovens half a century ago, dictate our fate to us?  That, of course, depends on us. If we know who we are, we have no uncertainty as to the proper decision.  The time has come to realize that this generation is 'who's left.' All of us - together. And it is time to start moving in the right direction. 

Wednesday, October 15, 1997

The Shuhada Fiasco

The Shuhada Fiasco
October 15, 1997

Hebron’s main street, connecting its three Jewish neighborhoods, beginning at the Jewish Quarter-The Avraham Avinu neighborhood, passing Beit Romana, Beit Schneerson, and the Beit Hadassah complex, leading up to Tel Rumeida-Admot Ishai, is called in Hebrew Rechov David HaMelech - King David Street. The Arabs call it Shuhada - the Road of the Martyrs. We know which martyrs they refer to.

This road has been closed to Arab vehicular traffic for almost four years. It was closed as a security precaution. Intelligence reports narrowed out this road as a primary target for terrorist attacks. Even with the road closed children, walking back and forth, have been attacked. A teenage girl had an axe thrown at her. She narrowly escaped serious injury. Children have been beaten up by Arabs. Rocks were tossed at passing cars.

The Hebron Accords, implemented last January, demand the reopening of this street to all Arab traffic. American funding, to the tune of well over a million dollars, was allocated to ‘renovate and beautify’ the road. The budget was exceeded by over 100%. Work that began in March, and which was supposed to have been finished in May was completed just over two weeks ago. The street is now adorned with the narrowest sidewalks imaginable. Tropic-looking trees, a cross between palm and pineapple trees were planted in the middle of the street - in the middle of Hebron.

The steep hill leading to Tel Rumeida was supposed to have been partially leveled. It wasn’t. A very narrow stretch of street was supposed to have been widened. It wasn’t. And guess what the contractor also forgot: to install any sewers. When it rains - and in Hebron it does rain - this main street will be transformed into a canal. When this was pointed out to the contractor he said “Oh, you’re right - we forgot them - but it will be OK.”

Why does Hebron’s Jewish Community protest the planned reopening of the street? There are two basic reasons. This is the only street available to Hebron’s Jewish residents, connecting the neighborhoods. There is another street, parallel to this one, that was once available for our use. Today, in spite of the fact that it is located in the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron, Israeli Security Forces refuse to allow us to use it. Men, women and children walk back and forth on this road. Jewish buildings are located on the road. Possible car bombs, kidnappings and other forms of attack are tremendously heightened when the road is full of Arab traffic. This is aside from the massive confusion which will take place when Arab vehicles, including buses and trucks roll down the street.

It must also not be forgotten that Hebron was the scene of massive violence for over two months. Rock and firebomb attacks against Jewish civilians and soldiers continued during March-April and May-June. If this road is open territory to hundreds of Arabs the same attacks which took place 100-150 meters away from the Jewish neighborhoods could very possibly occur INSIDE THE JEWISH NEIGHBORHOODS THEMSELVES. If an Arab leader, such as Arafat or Jibril Rajoub should give the signal, hundreds of Arabs would be in a position to immediately attack. The results would be unthinkable.

What alternative is there? Hebron’s community leaders suggested a ‘bypass road’ - an alternative route which could be paved with little difficulty in an area presently unoccupied by any houses or other buildings. This would allow free Arab access from one side of the city to the other with minimum delay or bother. Israelis throughout Judea and Samaria have been forced to use numerous ‘bypass roads’ since the onset of Oslo. There is no reason why Arabs in Hebron cannot use an alternative route, allowing them the access they need, without endangering Jewish lives in Israeli-controlled Hebron.

Hebron community leaders have approached the Prime Minister, Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai and others concerning this problem. Netanyahu and Mordechai seem to be set on opening the road, for unknown reasons. It should be remembered that the Israeli cabinet decided, following the terrorist bombing on Ben Yehuda Street, to stop turning over any further land to the palestinian authority. There is no reason why this street should be transformed into a primarily Arab road, when all other transactions have been frozen. Also, according to the Hebron Accords, this road opening should be incumbent on a ‘normalization’ of relations in Hebron. This normalization is far from being a reality.

Next week, thousands of visitors to Hebron will be asked to send a postcard to the Prime Minister, demanding that he refrain from reopening King David Street to Arab traffic, thereby endangering the continued existence of the Jewish community of Hebron. Postcards and letters can be sent to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, The Prime Minister’s Office, Kiryat Ben Gurion, Jerusalem, Israel. The Jewish Community of Hebron requests that you assist us in preventing the Shuhada fiasco from becoming transformed into a catastrophe.

Saturday, August 23, 1997

An Inauspicious Day

An Inauspicious Day
August 23, 1997

 A few days ago I had a most interesting experience. It took place early Thursday afternoon. Walking back to our offices in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood from Beit Hadassah I detected a group of about 50 Shalom Achshav people (Peace Now) strolling down the street. I soon discovered that most of them were reporters - both Israeli and Arab.

Usually Shalom Achshav groups in Hebron are a cause for heated discussions, disturbances or worse. They have a way of inciting Hebron’s Arab community against the Jews living in the city. This tour focused on pointing out ‘Arab property’ being ‘occupied’ by ‘Jewish extremists.’ I walked up to the group and requested permission to speak with them for three minutes. I wanted to say to them one thing, and one thing only. That day, last Thursday, just happened to be, by the Hebrew calendar, the 18th of Av - the 68th anniversary of the massacre which left 67 Jews dead in Hebron and led to the forced expulsion of the survivors, three days later. I thought it an inauspicious day to be stirring up Hebron’s Arabs.

After asking who I was, they refused to let me speak to them. In their words, ‘there was nothing to talk about - they didn’t want to hear from me.’ I continued with them down the street, and some of them spoke with me privately. It was quite clear that we had little in common, and we sure weren’t going to find ourselves agreeing with each other. But we did converse. I related to them my disappointment that the group saw fit to talk with Hebron Arabs, but refused to talk with me, an official representative of Hebron’s Jewish community, for even a few minutes. I mentioned to the few people I was speaking with the subject I wished to broach with the group, but they didn’t seem to care. It didn’t move them. I also told them that, at the very least, we should be able to speak together, even if we don’t agree with each other. They answered me that they would later meet with Efrat’s Chief Rabbi, Rav Shlomo Riskin. He would have to represent us, I guess.

I continued back to the office, but soon heard that the group was to continue through the Kasba - the Arab market within Israeli-controlled Hebron, where we are forbidden to go. The Kasba is a ‘closed military zone’ for Jews, but not Arabs. I decided to go with them.

By the time I caught up with them the army had forced them out of the Kasba, but they were continuing down another road, also in Israeli-controlled Hebron, but in an area forbidden to us. This particular road runs parallel to King David (Shuhada) Street. There was a time, in the past, when all Egged busses in Hebron drove down this particular road, called the Shallalla Gedola. I used to go shopping on this road. Not any more - not for a long time.

Walking down the road, together with the rest of the group, I found myself next to a 50 year-old-plus Arab - short, bald, dressed in a brown suit. He smiled at me and asked me, "you think you will be here forever?" "Why not," I responded. "We live here." So he smiled and answered, "Soon there will be changes here. Soon those with the green berets (palestinian police) will be here (in the Israeli side of Hebron) too. You really think you will be here forever? Israel is only a word on the map. Soon there will be great changes here."

So I smiled back at him and commented, "You know, anyone who speaks about great changes has to be very careful, because sometimes those changes may not be exactly as expected. Sometimes they can take rather unexpected turns."

By this time we were fairly close to the border between H1 and H2 - Arafat-land and Israel-controlled Hebron. The other Arabs kept muttering to me in Arabic - I think they were trying to tell me that I couldn’t go any further. We were still being accompanied by Israeli soldiers, but at the ‘border’ they wouldn’t go any further. We reached the junction where, only a few weeks ago, hundreds of rocks and firebombs were being hurled at Israeli soldiers. On the other side of the street, Arabs in army uniforms, called police (in Arabic they are called the ‘palestinian national force’) were directing traffic.

Interestingly enough this junction is not the border - it is at least 50 meters more down the road. But, according to the Israeli soldiers with us, this was as far as they would go. The Arabs with the group kept pointing me out to the ‘palestinian police’ and suddenly a couple of rocks flew down at us. Together with the Israeli soldiers, I took cover under a store awning and decided not to go any further. Together with a few soldiers I walked back up to Beit Hadassah my office in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood.

A couple of hours later I attended the memorial service for those killed in Hebron 68 years ago. I couldn’t help but ask myself, how much has really changed since then. I am fully aware of what has transpired since then - but have things really changed? Sometimes I feel the need to pinch myself just to make sure what I’m seeing and hearing is reality and not a bad dream. The trouble is, even after I pinch myself, it is still a bad dream.

Thursday, August 14, 1997

Mirror Image - Part Two

Mirror Image - Part Two
August 14, 1997

Following posting of my last article "Mirror Image" I received a number of
responses similar in content. The following are two of those letters, sent
to me by Hebron supporters:

Dear David,

The no-mirror policy has been in force for the past few weeks. We were also
stunned when we were checked for mirrors a couple of weeks ago for the
first time. ( we're at the Meara every Friday morning) One of the girls
with me admitted to having a mirror and she handed it in. When we got
upstairs, we saw that more little mirrors had been confiscated. The same as
for pocket knives and other such things. Yes, it's very humiliating but do
you really think it was necessary for that woman to make such a scene? That
policy was not set by that police-woman and it would have been sufficient
to write a letter afterwards asking why this new policy against mirrors. We
surmised that a mirror could theoretically be broken in half and made into
a very sharp weapon. Do we have to fight each other, no matter how
humiliated we're made to feel by our own Chayalim and police? This Friday,
there was a very friendly senior police officer at the entrance to the
Meara who tried to make each one coming in feel good. Yes, they had to
check our bags but they certainly weren't nasty about it and there's no
reason for us to be nasty to them.

So, let's ALL examine ourselves and see whether we're not being excessively
provocative because of tensions in Hevron which are certainly reason to be
angry and explosive but this anger should be directed against policy makers
and those idiots who forced the "Hevron agreement" on us... The one-sided
agreement, of course.


Dear David,

I read your reports with much interest and really appreciate
receiving them. I am more than sympathetic to the plight of the Jews in
Hebron and the courage they display. Most of the incidents you describe
indicate to me the lack of cooperation shown by the Israeli authorities .
It appears as if they would like you all to go away but to me your
presence in Hebron is most significant to all the Jews of the world. In
your recent story about Esther and the mirror I find it hard to fully
sympathize with her. Why didn't she just hand over the mirror and than
reclaim it on the way out? We are dealing with people who are given some
authority and usually this type cannot interpret a rule as it might have
meant to be. It would have been better not to challenge the authority and
just rise above this policewoman. There are other instances where a
challenge to their authority is more significant. My prayers are for the
safety of the people of Hebron and I hope the day will come when they can
live a life with the confidence of complete secutiry.



Due to the importance of the questions raised, I feel it is important to
publically post my response:

I understand what you are saying, but you have to understand the tactics
being used against us (all of us) in Hebron. One day we were told that no
cellular phones, cameras, and beepers would be allowed inside. They
actually tried to enforce the 'no camera' edict, until I made a lot of
noise there, and then it was rescinded. There is a limit to the abuse we
can allow -they (the decision-makers) take advantage of every show of
weakness or acquiescence on our part and continue. The idea that a mirror
might be used as a weapon is so totally ridiculous - besides which - who
are we going to attack with a mirror sliver? - The Arabs they let wander
around 'our side' of the Ma'ara? If that is what they are worried about,
they should stop the Arabs from being on 'our side.' After all, we have
absolutely no rights to be on 'their side.'

Aside from that, the behaviour of the border police who are stationed at
the Ma'ara, is, many times, disgraceful. They use excessive force without
any need to do so, and lie through their teeth. Esther did not attack
anyone, but they want to charge her with doing just that. - Please be
aware that Mishmar HaGvul (Border police) are not soldiers - they do not
operate under the auspices of the IDF - they are full-fledged police,
dressed in uniforms looking like soldiers.

We have no choice but to resist the continued humiliations, because if we
don't we will only pay a higher price for the next condition on the list
that they will try to enforce, after seeing that this decree has been
successfully implemented.

Wednesday, July 30, 1997

Machane Yehuda

The "Judah Camp" - English for Machane Yehuda. Situated in downtown
Jerusalem, between the Central Bus Station and the Jerusalem city center,
Machane Yehuda serves the City of Gold, as well as the surrounding
suburbs. It is commonly known as the `shuk' - the fruit and vegetable
market. But anything else, be it food, meat, dry goods, paper products -
a potpourri of whatever you might want is found here.

In truth, Machane Yehuda is much more than a shuk - much more than a
shopping market. Machane Yehuda is an experience. I know people who, when
coming to visit is Israel, make a pilgrimage to the shuk, not because they
need any food, but rather to absorb a little bit of native Israel. The
aroma of fresh fruits in abundance, the sight of hundreds of men, women and
children, some walking, others running, pulling small carts or carrying a
`sal' a small shopping bag, looking, comparing, weighing, paying. Here and
there a good word - sometimes an argument, a worker pulling a heavy wagon
packed with goods for another vender, pushing through the mob, `selicha'
`tazuzu' - excuse me, move aside. There is a fresh fish store - the
children gather around to stare back at the huge-looking fish eyes glaring
at them. Cake, cookies, sweets, even a coconut - for all who want.

On a small side street, between the two main streets of the market an old
man sells cloth to sew clothing. Another has a wide selection of
brooms and dustpans. Or perhaps some shoelaces. Can-openers, cups and
saucers, electric appliances - or some spices for Saturday night
`havdalah' the ceremony ending the Jewish Sabbath.

Perhaps the main attraction though, are the people. A profession
`people-watcher' can spend days and days watching. Religious men and women,
dressed in traditional garb, young secular couples, anyone and everyone -
searching for the best buy, lugging weighted packages, climbing on the next
bus, or carrying the load to the car, parked a few blocks away.

This is Amcha - Am Yisrael - coming from near and far - to do the weekly
shopping, especially towards the end of the week - preparing for Shabbat.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle - two suited men, wearing black
jackets, sporting neckties, with an attache case in hand - or perhaps they
had two each, get out of the parked car and walk into the shuk. One goes
one way, the other moves in a different direction. Standing about 30
meters from each other they wave and pull on a cord.

Chaos - panic - BOOM. The regular, orderly confusion of the market explodes
into flying nails and screws. Again, it has happened, again in Machane
Yehuda, a terrorist bomb has murdered and maimed.

At first some don't realize what is happening. Perhaps it was only the
sonic boom of a plane flying overhead. But then the screams, the shrill
shriek of agony, an unmistakable sign - it isn't a sonic boom - terrorists
have hit again. Some start moving in the direction of the blast - hoping to
assist the injured.

And then again - only seconds later - yet it seemed like an eternity - but
really only seconds later - again - B O O M. A second detonation - more
lives lost, more blood spilled, more cries of pain and anguish.

The police arrive, as do the ambulances, doctors and medics, volunteers, TV
cameras and news crews - the evacuation begins. The grisly task of
gathering dismembered limbs, and other body parts - searching for more
wounded, for more dead.

Machane Yehuda is transformed into a Machane Mavet - A Camp of Death.

Tomorrow the smells of the fruits and vegetables will once more permeate
the air. Shoppers will return, as they have in the past, as they do every
time. But tomorrow there will be at least 13 less people who will ever
again inhale the perfume of tomatoes and cucumbers, peppers and celery.
Tomorrow 170 others will be recovering from the wounds inflicted by the
killers. And hundreds, or perhaps thousands will ask themselves, should I
go to the market, or make do with the supermarket across the street from
the house. And others, they will wander the streets of Machane Yehuda,
looking at others like themselves, asking themselves, "who is he?" - "will
I be next?"

The fragrance of the market will be intermingled with the wretched
heartache of pain, of those missing, never to return, to Machane Yehuda.

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Friday, July 18, 1997

Uncle Muhammad

Uncle MuhammadJuly 18, 1997
The following was posted early last week over several internet lists:

The following are excerpts from the weekly Friday sermon delivered by
Palestinian Authority [PA] appointed "Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine"
Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in
Jerusalem on July 11, 1997.

The sermon was broadcast on the PA's official radio station, Voice of

"Oh Allah, destroy America, for she is ruled by Zionist Jews...

"Allah will paint the White House black! Clinton is fulfilling his
father's will to identify with Israel...

"The Muslims say to Britain, to France and to all the infidel nations that
Jerusalem is Arab. We shall not respect anyone else's wishes regarding
her. The only relevant party is the Islamic nation, which will not allow
infidel nations to interfere...

"The homes the Jews are building will become Arab property, with Allah's

"Allah shall take revenge on behalf of his prophet against the colonialist
settlers who are sons of monkeys and pigs....Forgive us, Muhamad, for the
acts of these sons of monkeys and pigs, who sought to harm your sanctity."

A few weeks ago a 26 year old Russian immigrant named Tatiana Susskin came
into Hebron from Jerusalem and started pasting small self-drawn pictures of
a pig, labeled in Arabic `Muhammad' on Arab storefronts in the Arab part of
the city. This resulted in an international outcry against Hebron's
`militant inciting settlers.' There were those, including Israeli
politicians, who again called for the forced expulsion of Hebron's Jewish
population. The international `peace-keeping' observer force, TIPH, issued
a report blaming Israel for the `escalation of violence' in Hebron,
resulting from the pig posters. This, in spite of the fact the the violence
was renewed for the who knows how many time, two days prior to the pig
poster incident.

Ms Susskin has been indicted for inciting for racism, insulting Islam,
supporting a terrorist group (Kach) and endangering lives by throwing a
stone at an Arab driver. The Israeli prosecution has demanded that she be
held in prison through the end of her trial because she is `dangerous to
the public.'

Palestinian Authority [PA] appointed "Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine"
Sheikh Ekrima Sabri is still broadcasting his poison to whoever wishes to

I could continue in the same vein, speaking about the palestinian police
Colonial stationed in Shechem who, it was discovered this week, organized
other PA police and other terrorists to commit terrorist attacks against
Israelis. Israel has demanded his extradition following the shooting at and
attempted killing of an entire family near Shechem last week. Arafat is
ignoring the incident. Or I could write about the armed uniformed PA police
who were arrested last night by Israeli security forces not far from Gush
Etzion, under total Israeli control.

However, this is irrelevant. What I would like to know is why we haven't
heard any reaction from the American powers-that-be, or by the same Israeli
leaders, including the Prime Minister, the President of the State and the
Chief Rabbi, condemning the Arab Mufti of Jerusalem. Why hasn't Arafat
called up both the American president, as well as American Jewish leaders
and Israeli Rabbi's apologizing for the insults against the United States,
Israel and Jews? Why hasn't the world media, including CNN, who today
reported that Ms. Susskin shows no remorse for her deed, screaming about
Islamic incitement. Perhaps they don't believe, or accept the verdict
blaming Islamic fundamental terrorists for blowing up the World Trade
Center and planning other acts of violence against Americans in the United
States. Or perhaps they have forgotten. Or just don't want to remember. It
is easier to always blame the Jews, rather than upset the Arabs.

In a feature story about Hebron on page 9 of today's Jerusalem Post,
correspondent Jay Bushinsky writes, "In their (Palestinian observers)
opinion, it would not have mattered whether the Jewish settlers were
militant Orthodox nationalists or apolitical haredim. `The Arabs reject the
presence of the Jews in any case.'"

The time has come, once and for all, that Americans, as well as Israelis
realize that the rejection of Jews is not limited to a presence in Hebron -
it includes any Jewish presence everywhere in Israel. And the time has come
for the Western world to realize that fundamental Islam rejects any and all
organized religions which do not accept Muhammad. In other words, all Jews
and Christians fall into the category of infidels. The `sons of monkeys
and pigs' spoken about by the Mufti includes not only Jewish settlers - it
includes all who read, and all those who refuse to read these words.

The hypocrisy expressed by American, so blatantly apparent, is eventually
going to boomerang and fly back into the face of America. Fundamental Islam
is making unbelievable headway in the religious freedom of the United
States. But Americans should all know that fundamentalists look to the
Jerusalem Mufti as their leader too - the fact is that no one is refuting
his words.

The Mufti of Jerusalem, in 1929, was Amin el-Hussania - Fiesel
el-Hussaini's uncle. His incitement led to the massacre of 67 Jews in
Hebron, and the expulsion of the survivors from the city. Dozens of Jews
throughout Israel were killed and wounded that same August day, as a result
of the Mufti's incitement, of his call to murder.

Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, today's Mufti, is widening his borders. He is inciting
against the President of the United States and the American population. He
wants to paint the White House black.

"Oh Allah, destroy America, for she is ruled by Zionist Jews..."

Oh America - Beware of Uncle Muhammad!

Thursday, July 10, 1997

True Justice

True Justice
July 10, 1997

This is a true story. It is also a personal story because it involves, not only myself, but also my wife. It is sort of cute - I thought you might enjoy it.
Four years ago - the days, weeks, months following the initial meetings with the terrorists, with the signing of the original Oslo agreement - an accord signed in blood. Rocks and firebombs accompanied the terrorist murders which were taking place nonstop on Israeli roads. I was working in Jerusalem - going back and forth every day. It’s only an hour drive, but at that time, the anxiety was so great that after arriving home at night, I couldn’t move.
One spring evening I arrived home and heard that at 8:00 p.m. a small demonstration was to take place outside the main Kiryat Arba gate, protesting the constant rock and firebomb attacks on cars going back and forth to Jerusalem. The organizers had an unofficial agreement with the police to allow us to demonstrate from 8:00 until 9:30. I was exhausted but felt an obligation to participate, at least for a little while. So my wife Ora and I, with five of our children took a short walk to the main Kiryat Arba gate. I told Ora, we’ll go for a half hour, and then return home.
We found about 50 people present, on the street - most of whom were teenagers and children. There were about 15 adults congregating on the road. That road is particularly quiet at night, with little to do except stand there. At about 8:45 the fun started. All of a sudden the deputy commander of the Hebron region, an officer named Schmeal showed up, with more soldiers than there were demonstrators. He climbed up on his command car and announced: "This area is a ‘restricted military zone.’ You have five minutes to get inside the gates of Kiryat Arba or we start arresting people." With that he jumped down off the car and walked over to a friend of mine, standing a few meters from myself and Ora. He said to him, "You have 7 seconds to get inside." The man responded, "But it will take me longer than 7 seconds to get inside the Kiryat Arba gate." So Schmeal retorted, "OK - you’re under arrest. Get into the police vehicle."
Having seen this, I turned to my wife and told her, "if this is the way they want to play, we go all the way." With that I took my then year old daughter in my arms and watched as Schmeal approached me. "You have seven seconds to get out of the street and into Kiryat Arba." "But why?," I asked. "You have seven seconds." "But I live here," I answered. With that he yelled at me, "You are under arrest. Give the baby to her mother." "No," I said. "Give the baby to her mother," again. "No." So Schmeal put his arm around my head, pushed by head back and held me that way for about five minutes. We had an interesting conversation: "Get rid of the baby." "No." Until he finally told me to take the baby with me into the police van. So I collected her diapers, bottle and pacifier and joined my friends who had already been apprehended. We had a good time singing and clapping hands.
After about a half hour a bus showed up, to take us to jail. I was the last one on. Climbing up the steps I suddenly stopped, and exclaimed, "what are you doing here?" Because, in front of me, I found sitting on the bus my wife and three more of my children. Ora smiled and told me that she too had been told to leave the street. She told the officers that she refused to move before receiving back her husband and baby. So they arrested her too. With three more of our kids.
We were taken to the Kiryat Arba-Hebron police station, questioned and held until 2:30 in the morning, when we were finally sent home.
One year later Ora received an indictment in the mail. Together with eight others. I wasn’t charged, but she was. The charge was illegally demonstrating. The trial went on for THREE YEARS. The judge, twice, suggested to the prosecution that they close the case against five of the defendants, (including my wife) because there wasn’t any case. They refused. Schmeal, who had long since left the army, admitted to performing illegal procedures. He filled in all the forms necessary to declare a land area ‘restricted military zone’ and had them signed AFTER the declaration and arrests. According to the law, that has to be done before the declaration. When asked what land area was off-limits he spoke of an area about 30 miles long. For a group of 50 demonstrators. When asked if he knew that the police had allowed the demonstration to take place he answered, "If Rabbi B... says they had an agreement, I believe him."
A video camera, which had been used to film the demonstration was confiscated by the police. When it was returned to the owner, the cassette was missing. It remained missing, permanently. And the case went on, and on, and on, and on - FOR THREE YEARS.
CHAPTER THREE - The Verdict and Sentencing
A few weeks ago the judge announced the verdict. His decision was extremely critical of the officer Schmeal, saying that until he showed up everything had been very quiet, and maybe if he had handled the event differently, the results would have been different. He criticized the police for the vanishing cassette. Etc. etc.
But, it was an illegal demonstration (the oral agreement with the police isn’t binding) and that cannot go unpunished. So, his decision was to refrain from convicting the defendants, but he ordered them punished. (There is some kind of quirk in Israeli law that allows court-ordered punishment without conviction.) He informed the guilty parties that they would not receive a jail term, but rather be required to do community volunteer work. The minimum time allowed by law is 60 hours. So my wife together with the other guilty parties were sentenced to 60 hours of volunteer work as a result of a demonstration against attacking Jews, four years ago.
True Justice.

Friday, July 4, 1997

Why Lior Cohen was burned and nearly killed by an Arab Pipe Bomb

Why Lior Cohen was burned and nearly killed by an Arab Pipe Bomb
July 4, 1997

Point number one: The soldiers serving in Hebron are wonderful people who do whatever they are allowed to do to provide security in the city.

Point number two:  When an Arab tosses a bomb at an Israeli, the responsibility is his. There may be a chain of command - he might be ‘following orders,’ be they direct or indirect. But the immediate accountability is that of the perpetrator.   

But we all know that life is not so simple. The buck doesn’t stop there. The following story is not a fable or fairy tale. It is true. I am not divulging the full names of the people involved for reasons of security, but the rest is a real-life narrative:

Last Saturday the rioting in Hebron reached the porches, patios, and windows of buildings in the Beit Hadassah Complex. Beit Schneerson, Beit Hadassah, Beit Castel and Beit Hasson were bombarded for a good part of the day. As was reported by the Hebron Press Office, IDF security forces were refused permission to react in any way, shape or form until the ‘high command’ realized that Hebron’s Jewish residents were about to initiate self-defense procedures. Only then were the soldiers allowed to respond, in a dwarfed manner.

The next day one of Hebron’s leadership (called here A) attempted to speak with one of the IDF command officers (called here Colonel G) in Hebron, to clarity the reasons for the army’s lack of response, in the face of real danger to both the civilian and military persons in the city.  The particular officer sought out was unavailable. So, Hebron’s A called a much higher official, with overall responsibility for Hebron, as well as other areas in Judea and Samaria. This official (let’s call him General O) was astounded at the question. He said he know nothing about abnormal or serious rioting in Saturday, but would check it out. The next day, after the bomb blast injured three Israeli soldiers, General O was in Hebron and met Hebron leader A. The general had harsh words for A: “My investigation shows that nothing happened. You are making up stories.”  Hebron’s A requested that Colonel G join the conversation, and he affirmed the general’s allegations.  So Hebron’s A asked the general if he knows Hebron resident, Rabbi M. General O had only words of praise for the rabbi. “So,” said A, “you can rely on what he says - you know he doesn’t exaggerate?” General O shook his head in full agreement. The three men, two officers and Hebron’s A, walked over to speak with Rabbi M. Rabbi M was very busy at the moment, but agreed to put aside his immediate business to deal with the matter at hand. Hebron leader A requested that the Rabbi (who lives in Beit Hadassah) depict exactly what he had experienced on Saturday. As the Rabbi described the blatant attack on Beit Hadassah, on the danger, and the inaction of Israel’s security forces, General O’s complexion turned to a shade of green, similar to the uniform he wears. He finally turned to Colonel G and asked, “What’s going on here?” Colonel G opened his diary, checked the date in question and answered, “that’s not the report I received. It should be looked into.” With that the conversation ended.

In other words, the true account of what actually happened in Hebron on Saturday was filtered out. The general, with overall responsibility for Hebron didn’t know what had gone on, because he wasn’t told. Colonel G simply didn’t tell him. When the subject was investigated Colonel G lied.  Only when the Rabbi related the day’s events did the General realize that he had been deceived. 

It is most important to know that the buck doesn’t stop here either. Colonel G shouldn’t be in charge of a Hebron command  - he is a liar. General G also has responsibility - he has to be assured that he KNOWS exactly what is happening in Hebron. But the buck goes higher up - much higher.  It reaches up to General Uzi Dayan and Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai because they are issuing the direct orders forbidding the IDF to take action against the rioters. Colonel G may be a liar, but his orders to his soldiers to stand like wooden statues in the face of rocks, fire bombs, and pipe bombs arrive on his desk from the office of Uzi Dayan and Yitzhak Mordechai. Colonel G should, under the circumstances, take off his uniform and refuse to accept such orders. Abandonment of soldiers is not only morally wrong. It is criminal. But the direct responsibility is that of Dayan and Mordechai. These two men have intentionally decided that soldiers in the IDF are a necessary ‘sacrifice for peace.’ After all, if the natives get too restless, all hell might break loose. So, it is preferable that a few soldiers get hurt, burned, blown-up, or maybe even killed, rather than rock the boat by stopping the daily violence in Hebron (and Gazza, for that matter.)

Today, after an ultimatum was issued to the PA by the Defense Minister, Israeli soldiers took an unparalleled measure - they apprehended a few of the rock-throwers. The result - the rioting stopped. A special unit was used to implement the capture of the perpetrators, and the consequences were immediate. Of course, the question might be asked - why didn’t they do this a month ago? That however, might be too difficult to answer.

Uzi Dayan - an instigator of Oslo and one of it’s prime authors, should be court-marshaled and thrown out of the army. Any general who abandons his soldiers is a contemptible.  Yitzhak Mordechai should either change his decision-making priorities real fast, or vacate his office for someone who cares about his soldiers, more than he cares about Yassir Arafat. And Colonel G should be made a private and sent to do guard duty - maybe he could handle that.

Finally, if the point hasn’t been made clear enough, Lior Cohen’s injury was the direct result of criminal negligence. The fact the he was stationed in the path of Arab terror, without being afforded the opportunity to stop it before it struck , the fact that no precautions were taken to allow him or his brethren to defend themselves was clearly and definitely caused by the inaction of his superiors.  This is inexcusable and unacceptable.

Israel’s soldiers are not sacrifices on the alter of peace. They are in a tough position and deserve all the support possible.  Israel’s leaders are supposed to be granting them that  - not abandoning them.  Those who aren’t capable of guaranteeing our soldier’s lives, as much as possible, don’t deserve public support, either in the military or the government. I hope both General Dayan and Minister Mordechai get the message fast, before anyone else is hurt.

Sunday, June 29, 1997

E Tu Arik?

E Tu Arik?
June 29, 1997

Ariel Sharon finally received what he's been waiting for all these years - public acknowledgment of
his right to participate in the highest echelons of Israeli government. Since his ousting from the Defense Ministry following the Kahn Committee Report, holding him indirectly responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacre, Sharon has been fighting his way back up to the top. He has brought suits against media publications, including the famous case against Time Magazine and presently against a major Israeli newspaper. He has consistently claimed innocence. He was at least partially exonerated last week when a former Israeli general who had testified against Sharon a decade and a half ago, admitted that he had lied.
Ariel Sharon is, to say the least, a very complicated personality. He has given over 50 years of his life to Israel and the Jewish People. He is many things to many people - loved by some and hated by others. One thing is for sure: he has accomplished a tremendous amount - both in the military and in Israeli politics. I won’t go into a biography of Sharon (although I can recommend his autobiography). The day may come, however, when Sharon is remembered as ‘the great unifier.’ He brought together right-wing politicians over twenty years ago, eventually leading to Menachem Begin’s victory in 1977. And he is overwhelmingly responsible for bringing David Levy and Raphael Eitan together with Bibi Netanyahu, resulting in the downfall of Shimon Peres and Co.

Sharon is not a vindictive man. Many times he has been slighted, but he seems always to follow a course of action based on ideological truth, rather than personal consideration. He seems to do what he really believes is right. And when he is wrong, he has tended to admit it. Two classic examples come to mind. Ariel Sharon implemented the abandonment of Sinai. Today he regrets that. During the Shamir administration he was one of the most vociferous assailants of the them Prime Minister’s policies concerning Judea and Samaria. Yet, when Shamir came under fire from the Americans, Sharon was his most active supporters.

Following the election of Netanyahu Sharon was expected to receive a plum position in the new government. After all, he played a major part in the victory. However, Netanyahu snubbed Ariel Sharon. Sharon was not included in the new Likud-led cabinet. Following a couple of months of negotiation, Bibi sewed together a new post - that of ‘Infrastructure.’ Since taking up his post, little has been heard from Sharon.

Why did Netanyahu leave Sharon out of the government? Did he really not have a place for him? I don’t think so. Bibi was afraid of Sharon - of his power, of his past, of his tremendous strength and political savvy. He knew that Sharon’s opposition to the Hebron Accords could endanger its acceptance in the government. Arik Sharon was one of Hebron’s most tenacious supporters. He visited Hebron frequently and knows the city like the back of his hand. By leaving Sharon out Netanyahu was signaling him - ‘Now I am the Boss.’ When Sharon finally received his coveted position in the government, he quite simply shut up.

The latest Bibi crisis were no exception. Sharon was no where to be heard. He didn’t say anything bad about Bibi. When he so desires, Sharon knows very well how to keep his mouth shut. The result of the Bar-On-Hebron dealings left Dan Meridor without a ministry - and his successor in the Treasury is almost surely to be Ariel Sharon.

The Ministry of the Treasury is one of the top three spots in the government - together with Defense and the Foreign Office. Once again, Arik Sharon will find himself up top. But treasury is not enough. Sharon demanded that Bibi bring him into the inner sanctum, together with David Levy and Yitzhak Mordechai. The two of them, along with the Prime Minister, formulate the positions to be taken concerning negotiations with Arafat. These are the people who, to a great degree, will determine the immediate future of the State of Israel - what are to be the borders of the Jewish State.

Theoretically, Sharon’s addition to this forum can only be positive. That is why Mordechai and Levy are reported to be upset about his membership in the select group. Sharon is known to take much harder right-wing positions than the others.

The question is whether Sharon will remember his previous errors and his later regret. Or, is he determined to maintain his seat in the cabinet, at all costs, even at the cost of compromising his positions, as has Netanyahu. Tonight Kol Yisrael reported that Sharon met, late in the week, with Abu Mazen - one of the senior, if not the senior official in the Palestinian Authority, after Arafat. He and Arafat haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but he is known to be a very powerful man in the PA.

Sharon hasn’t yet taken up his new posts - but he is already meeting with top palestinians. Is he acting on his own - or is he doing Netanyahu’s asking? Being that both David Levy and Yitzhak Mordechai had no prior knowledge of the Sharon-Abu Mazen meeting, it is safe to say that Sharon was acting on behalf of the Prime Minister. If he continues acting on Bibi’s behalf, we might be better off if he stays where he is in the Infrastructure Ministry, where he can only do good and little harm.

If he plans on being Bibi’s stooge the only phrase that we might conjure up for him is...
E Tu Arik?

Sunday, June 22, 1997

An open letter to "a Senior US Official"

An open letter to "a Senior US Official"June 22, 1997

The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday June 22, 1997 that you stated, last Friday, that it is "quite
possible that the violence in Hebron is "a plausible safety valve" allowing the Palestinians "to
vent their anger." You continued that "there is aggressive action the Palestinian Police could be
taking in certain circumstances which they are not, because it (the current situation) is not
serious enough."

Mr. Senior US Official, please define the framework of legitimate "venting of anger." What is the
boundary of licit violence? In view of the actions you sanction the perimeter no doubt includes
attempted murder: hurling rocks and slinging ignited firebombs has been known to cause death. A good
sized, sharp rock in the head can easily be fatal. A blazing bottle filled with petrol can envelop a
person in flames, causing serious burns and death.

What is the limit? For instance, Abraham happens to be standing next to Jacob, who is legitimately
burned to death by an exploding firebomb. Abraham, seeing the legitimate perpetrator, Muhammad,
decides to attempt to save himself from the same fiery hell by illegitimately shooting him.
Mohammad's legitimate colleague, Mustafa, seeing his friend shot to death, responds by
legitimately tossing an explosive device into a crowd of people, thereby reliving the frustration
of seeing his friend Muhammad killed.

Mr. Senior US Official, does your tolerance encompass all sides of the conflict, or does it just
excuse Arab brutality? Perhaps you would also see fit to exonerate any "Israeli agitation?" How
would you react if some of the 540 Jews living in the City of the Patriarchs began throwing
firebombs at Palestinian police, who not too long ago were leading terrorist attacks against them.
Am I to be entirely assured that you understand their physical and psychological disconcertion and
trepidation following the injuries and deaths of so many Israelis by Palestinian terrorists over the
past few years, since the advent of Oslo.

Mr. Senior US Official, how would you react, for instance, if an Israeli diplomat in the US were to
assert that racial violence is nothing more than a `release of steam, discharging frustration, and
is, therefore, to be pardoned!?' Mr. Official, how would you react if the New York City police sat
by and watched while a group of people spent a week heaving Molatov Cocktails at their police
counterparts? Would the police restrict themselves to, every once in a while, shooting at the
perpetrator's legs?

Mr. Senior US Official, why do you justify violence? Why do you defend Palestinian police inaction?

Mr. Senior US Official, I think I know the answer to these questions. Your remarks stink of bias
and partiality. Your tone is one of contempt and disdain for the Jews living in Hebron. You don't
care one iota if Jews die in Hebron. Your remarks signal continued US policy, rejecting all Jewish
presence in Judea, Samaria and Gazza. This policy persists in supporting Arafat, as indicated by
your opinion that Arafat is not responsible for spurring the violence.

Mr. Senior US Official, the United States was supposed to be playing the role of an impartial
broker, assisting negotiations between Israel and Arafat. However, you know, as well as I do, that
the United States cannot be, has not been, and will never be, impartial. Your remarks mirror US
policy, bolstering Arab claims to Israeli land, including Jerusalem. This may best be observed by
President Bill Clinton's veto of the bill demanding that the US embassy be moved to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Israeli people, and of the Israeli State. You refuse to
accept this, and, to the contrary, justify continued Arab terrorism, as has continued in Hebron for
the past week.

Mr. Senior US Official, your loathing is not limited to the Jews of Hebron - it encompasses all of
Jewish existence in the Land of Israel. There is no other possible explanation for your
justification of Arab use of firebombs against Israelis. Your life would be much easier if "those
troublesome Jews" weren't continually stirring up trouble in the Middle East. You know, as well as I
do, that `peace' is not achieved using firebombs. The only thing gained is bloodshed, which doesn't
seem to bother you.

But, Mr. Senior US Official, I have news for you. We were here long before you existed, and we will
continue to be here long after you are gone - both in Hebron and in all of Eretz Yisrael. Contrary
to your assumption, we despise all violence - our ideal is peace - true peace, where all live and
let live. We will eventually reach that goal, here in Israel, despite your attempts to justify our
demise. Our stamina is not 200 years old - rather it is embedded in faith dating back 3,700 years.
For 2,000 years the Jewish password was "next year in Jerusalem." Jews died because they dared utter
these words. Forty nine years age we began to fulfill a 2,000 year-old dream - we came back to
Israel. Thirty years ago we continued to implement this dream - we united Jerusalem, we returned to
Hebron. Mr. Senior US Official, you can do whatever you want, but I can assure you - we will never

Friday, June 20, 1997

Hebron - One Year Later

Hebron-Past, Present and Forever
by David Wilder
Hebron - One Year LaterJune 20, 1997

One year ago none of us could imagine that a year later Hebron would be something of a war zone. Yesterday Arutz 7 replayed an interview with Arik Sharon, recorded a day after the elections, in which he assured that Hebron would not be abandoned. Unfortunately, he was wrong.

The situation in Hebron is definitely worrisome. The security of Hebron’s residents and guests is of paramount importance. This week the IDF managed to keep the agitators from getting too close to the Jewish neighborhoods, as happened during the riots in April. So most of what happened wasn’t seen, but it was heard. Booms originating with the firebombs exploding between 200 to 300 meters from Beit Hadassah were answered with the booms of rubber bullets being shot at the terrorists. However, almost none of them were arrested. Israeli security forces refused to attempt to apprehend the Arab perpetrators attacking from within the H2-Israeli controlled part of Hebron. The palestinian police were nowhere to be seen - of course none of the attackers assaulting from the H1-Arafat controlled zone were seized. Today’s aggression was unparalleled - firebombs were thrown incessantly. I spoke with one of UN TIPH observers at the scene in early afternoon and asked him if he had any idea how many firebombs had been hurled. When he answered ten I stared at him unbelieving. Seeing my consternation he retorted, "that is, of course, in the last 20 minutes. Since this morning - dozens and dozens."

A few days ago a reporter speaking with me insinuated that Israel was the cause of the current ‘unrest.’ I asked him how the police would react in any US city if a group of fanatics started tossing firebombs at their uniformed colleagues. He had no answer. I’ve been questioned as to why this has started again. It is very difficult to respond with 100% knowledge that the answer it accurate. Most of what we surmise is just that, conjecture. It is obvious that Arafat is aware of Netanyahu’s current political sensitivity. He knows that now is the time to exert pressure. And that is exactly what he is doing, the best, and only way he knows - by using violence. It is not coincidental that Hebron’s problems began together with attacks by Arabs in Gazza on the Jewish community of Morag. It is not surprising that Israeli intelligence expects major disturbances in Shechem and other cities in Yesha. What is (or perhaps isn’t) surprising, it the lack of any real Israeli response. I have discussed this issue before and see no reason to repeat myself. Suffice it to say that Netanyahu’s policies have not yet changed - he hasn’t yet learned.

How should we relate to this "leader" - a man whose election platform has been turned inside-out? After a year, perhaps we should do a little summing up. Netanyahu is surely not the Messiah we prayed for - but we knew that a year ago. He is weak, indecisive and unassertive. We knew that too. What we didn’t expect was a total capitulation - an overall collapse of the ideologies he so succinctly phrased in his book, published before the election.

In the past I have called for the Prime Minister’s ousting - believing that we would be better off without him. Earlier this week an article appeared over internet, written by a highly respected analyst, Emanuel A. Winston, called FORCED EVACUATION OF JEWISH HEBRON . The article began: "It seems amply clear that Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has adopted the Peres-Beilin evacuation plan for Hebron and its Jewish citizens." With all due respect, Winston is wrong. With all his troubles and faults, Netanyahu has no intentions to evacuate Hebron’s Jewish residents. There are details that I cannot publish over public internet, but I know that there are Israeli contingency plans in the event of an all-out attack on the Jewish neighborhoods by Arafat’s troops. Those plans DO NOT include evacuation on the lines suggested by Winston, according to the Peres-Beilin plans. Not only would evacuation of Hebron immediately bring down the government - it would destroy the Likud for the foreseeable future. Netanyahu knows this. Netanyahu is far from implementing the policies he promised previous to his election, but we have no doubt that he is far from being another Shimon Peres. Peres would have removed us from Hebron. Bibi won’t.
In spite of what I have written in the past, today we must do everything we can to prevent the fall of the government. Were elections to be held today, according to most polls, Ehud Barak would easily be elected. His ministers would include Haim Ramon and Yossi Beilin. Who knows - they might even try to make Peres the next president of the country, after Weitzman. Given today’s international political climate, this must not happen. Netanyahu has shown a little, (much much too little) strength concerning Har Homa. This is not enough to forgive his errors - but it is something. Rather than continue to weaken him by accusing him of planning to evacuate Hebron, we must find ways to strengthen him.
I am sure that Netanyahu will make policy decisions causing me to attack him again, in the future. But for the time being, we cannot allow the left to come back into power - we have to watch very carefully what we say, so as not to bring an even worse predicament upon ourselves.

Tuesday, June 10, 1997

Crying with Keren

Crying with Keren
Erev Shavuot 5757
June 10, 1997

I have been debating with myself, for the past few days, whether or not to write this. Finally, I give in. I feel that I have little choice, as it has been sitting on me for too long.

According to our Sages, once the People of Israel entered Eretz Yisrael, a concept called, ‘kol Yisrael arevim ze l’ze ( All Israel is responsible for one another) takes hold. We have an obligation for each other - what one Jew does, or doesn’t do, - may have an effect on all Jews. This concept exists because we are ONE people - as we received Torah at Mount Sinai as ONE BEING - not as a group of individuals - but rather as ONE UNIFIED BODY - known as AM YISRAEL - the People of Israel.

This concept became voided as an active process when Israel was forced into Galut - into exile. Whether or not it has once again come into effect, after our return to Israel, is debated. There is not doubt though, that the moral obligation remains with us.

However, the idea behind the concept is clear. We all have responsibility toward each other - this is what allows us to celebrate with true happiness when a friend celebrates, or, on the other hand, to feel genuine grief when another Jew grieves.

It also demands that we delve deeply into our deeds - examining them, searching for ways in which to correct whatever we do which may not be 100% - deeds that may have been, in one way or another, responsible for the grief that has befallen someone else. - Again, this concept exists due to the event we are celebrating today - due to the unity of Am Yisrael, as portrayed at Har Sinai, with the giving and accepting of Torah.

A few days ago Am Yisrael suffered a terrible tragedy. A beautiful young women named Keren sat at her home, dressed in a brides dress, waiting for her beloved husband-to-be, Uri, and his family, arriving from Jerusalem. They were to be married later that day. Both, coincidentally, had a strong connection to Hebron: Keren studied at, and graduated from the Kiryat Arba Ulpana - women’s religious high school and Uri had served as a deputy unit commander in Hebron.

On the way from Jerusalem to Keren'’s home in the northern part of Israel, Uri, his parents, and two close friends were killed in an automobile accident. The car, it seems, was traveling too fast, missed a curve, went over the side of the road, flipped over and landed on its roof, several meters down in a gully. All five died instantly. Keren sat in her brides dress waiting for Uri, while Uri lay dead in the gully. When the wedding party didn’t arrive search parties began looking for them. They weren’t found until the next morning - and later that afternoon they were buried in Jerusalem. The next day Israel’s newspapers contained unbelievably sad pictures: Keren in her bride’s attire - and next to that picture, Keren, weeping at Uri’s funeral. The happiest day of Keren’s life turned into a living hell. As one newspaper account related: Today, all Israel cries with Keren.

Why should I relate this unfortunate story on the eve of Shavuot? First, it is important to know that there still is some kind of unity in Israel - it made no difference whether they were religious or secular, where they lived, or what they thought - it wasn’t a ‘national tragedy’ as was the helicopter accident which took the lives of so many soldiers, or a terrorist attack, such as the killing of the school girls in Jordan. It was a family tragedy, transformed into a national tragedy - it was impossible to see those pictures, wedding pictures that will never be smiled over in a wedding album, it was impossible to see then without your stomach flip-flopping inside you. As the newspaper account - ‘all Israel cried with Keren.’

This story must be told for another reason: this kind of an accident is much too tragic to simply be "chance or coincidence ." It doesn’t ‘just happen’ that a chatan - a groom, is killed on the way to his wedding, in an auto accident and that his kalah, his bride, must bury him rather than marry him. It truly is a national tragedy, effecting all, because everyone feels a part of it. Everyone has a stake in it - somehow, everyone ask themselves the same question: Why?

That isn’t a question I can answer - I am not a prophet - I cannot read into individual souls, or into our national soul. I don’t know what brought this awful event upon Keren, or upon all of us. But what I do know is that it is incumbent on all of us, keeping in mind the concept mentioned above, that ‘all Israel is responsible for each other,’ to inspect our ways, to ask ourselves, how can we better ourselves, how can we give more without expecting anything back in return - how can we better actualize the unity of Am Yisrael without feeling like we are compromising the principals upon which we live.

On Shavuot we read the book of Ruth - a convert who mothered the family of David, King of Israel. Ruth symbolizes, above all, the ability to overcome, to unify, to bridge the concepts which could, otherwise, separate. I won’t attempt here to analyze the Book of Ruth - everyone can do that themselves. But tomorrow, when hundreds will visit the tomb of Yishai (David’s father) and Ruth in Hebron, overlooking the Caves of Machpela, there reading the Scroll of Ruth, the reasons and emotions of those present will not be only of personal delight, but those of national representation - as was David, King of Israel, who embodied within himself, all of Am Yisrael.

As we perform an act of introspection, let us hope that what we are able to learn and improve from such a tragedy as that of Keren and Uri, and that next year, approaching the holiday of Shavuot, we will be able to contemplate not calamity, rather festivity, both private and national, within the same framework of ‘all Israel is responsible for each other’ and that the newspapers will print pictures with captions saying, "today, all of Israel celebrated with Keren."

Chag Sameach.

Sunday, June 8, 1997

Tumbling Backwards

Tumbling Backwards
June 8, 1997

A good friend of mine is presently doing his annual military reserve stint. Each day and/or night for three weeks he patrols areas in the Southern Hebron Hills. I’ve done the same duty in the past. However, now the patrols have new jeeps, looking a little sturdier than those I remember from a few years past. This morning I mentioned this to him after Shabbat prayers and he agreed. "Yes, they are a little more dependable, but they are also slower. It’s very difficult to try and chase anyone or any other vehicle." When I asked him why, he replied, "They are like tanks. They are bullet proof." When I looked at him, more or less stunned, he added, "Each one costs about $60,000."
The Israeli army has a reputation of being one of the best armed forces in the world. The IDF has a tremendous amount to its credit, taking into account the wars and battles fought since 1948. Israel cannot afford to lose a war, and, thank G-d, we never have. Or, have we? The ‘intifada,’ fought for close to ten years by the Arabs in Yesha against Israel was successful. This revolt against the State of Israel had, in reality, almost died out when Rabin was elected in 1992. But that regime took advantage of the smoldering remains of the intifada to initiate the Oslo Accords, leading to all that has transpired since. I guess it is true to say that the intifada was a war which Israel lost. And what a costly defeat!
Why did we lose the intifada war? Was there another way? Of course there was, but, then again, who was minister of Defense when it broke out - none other than our late Prime Minister Rabin. He didn’t try very hard to stop it. The intifada could have been ended quickly, with very little, if any, bloodshed. It wouldn’t have been difficult to do, ten years ago. However, as time went on, as the world media began to give more air time to the ‘poor palestinians,’ we found ourselves in a very difficult situation. This condition was exasperated when the army was sent to do the work of police, and, as the plight deteriorated, were forced to do nothing. Perhaps that is not exactly true. The army didn’t do ‘nothing.’ Rather the IDF began taking only defensive actions, and refused to view the continued violence as a war against Israel. Consequently, the troops, in spite of their being dressed in uniform and equipped with weapons, were forbidden to be soldiers. They were almost never allowed to take the offensive. The leaders of the intifada were not rooted out. Quite simply, Israel refused to treat the war against the State as war - and the results are today apparent. A war cannot be won if it is not recognized as such - a war cannot be won if there is only a defensive posture, without any offensive against the enemy. That is why we lost.
One would think that, even if mistakes are made, they would be learned from. Unfortunately, in Israel today, the opposite is true. We are continuing down the road of errors, on several fronts. Perhaps the most obvious example is in Lebanon. Our forces patrol are attacked, wounded and killed by Hisbullah terrorists, our airforce bombs some villages, and on it goes. We have lost many many fine young men in this tragic cycle of events.
The new bullet proof jeeps are another prime example of basic capitulation. I am not in favor of soldiers being shot in their jeeps. But one has to ask oneself, if the vehicles are bullet proof, isn’t this an acceptance of that fact that we will be shot at and there is nothing we can do about it? This is tantamount to throwing in the towel - saying, "I give up." "I won’t leave, but I know that you are here, you are going to try and kill me, and this is my answer, my reaction - my jeep is bullet proof."
Is this the way the ‘best’ army in the world should perform?
Last week Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu released his plan for final status talks with Arafat. He has adopted the ‘Allon Plan - Plus.’ This plan, initiated by the late Yigal Allon almost 20 years ago, calls for an enlarged Jerusalem, and blocks of ‘settlements’ throughout Yehuda, Shomron and Gazza. According to some media reports, Netanyahu has accepted that fact that some ‘settlements’ will have to me ‘moved,’ i.e. uprooted. It accepts the fact that Arafat has rights within a large amount of Yesha. And, finally, it intrinsically accepts the creation of a palestinian state.
Is this why we elected Netanyahu? To hear about ‘settlement blocks?’ - to hear about bullet proof jeeps? - to hear about soldiers who aren’t allowed to be soldiers?
On Yom Yerushalayim the central event takes place at Yeshivat Mercaz Harav in Jerusalem - the Yeshiva founded by Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook. This yeshiva is the leader of all Zionist yeshivas in Israel. This year’s guest of honor was none other than Bibi, who spoke about continued settlement in Eretz Yisrael. I was very sorry when no one there had the guts, in the middle of his speech, to get up and ask him, "What about Hebron - who gave Hebron to Arafat?" Instead, the yeshiva boys applauded him, clapped their hands, sang songs, and encouraged him. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why.
On the face of it we don’t have to attack Bibi’s peace plan because it will never happen. It is nowhere near enough for the Arabs. For them, it is much too little. But if this is Bibi’s starting point, if this is where he is beginning the negotiations, where will they lead to?
Netanyahu is playing with forbidden fruit - he is regurgitating the same blunders made by his predecessors - the blunders that led to the Camp David Accords, to the Madrid Conference, and to Oslo. If the fear of G-d isn’t enough for him, Bibi perhaps should closely examine what happened to all those who participated in, and concluded those historic transgressions. Where are they today? Where does he want to be three years from now? Netanyahu has made some very serious mistakes, but it isn’t too late to correct, at least, some of them. It isn’t too late to make amends, and stop now, before it gets worse.
But for the time being, he is just tumbling backwards, and taking us all with him.