Friday, June 22, 2001

The Ariel Sharon - Yamit Syndrome

The Ariel Sharon - Yamit Syndrome
June 22, 2001

The Sharon administration can finally be described as having plunged to the depths -  not of the Barak administration, and not of the Netanyahu administration, but rather of the Rabin-Peres administration. In those days it seemed that Rabin-Peres had plummeted about as far down as is humanly possible. Yet it seems that we were wrong. If Ariel Sharon continues in the present direction, his pit will definitely be deeper than all of those preceding him, perhaps even deeper than all of them together - a truly bottomless abyss.

Despite continued killing, Sharon has ordered the Israeli army to continue evacuating outposts throughout Judea, Samaria and Gazza. Jewish residents in some of these areas have been instructed to travel by convoy, at least two cars driving together. The rational behind convoy-driving is simple: “Up until now, almost all terror attacks have been perpetrated against lone vehicles.” (Excepting, of course, the killing of Doron Zisserman from the Einav community earlier this week, who was driving the first of three cars traveling together, all of which were attacked.) [As a result, in all probability, orders will soon be issued instructing people to drive in groups of “even numbers”  two, four, six, etc.]

The Homesh community in the Shomron lost two of their residents this week at the hands of Arafat’s armed terrorist forces. Children from the Homesh and Neve Tzuf community, protesting outside the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem were beaten by Israeli riot police. As of twelve o’clock this afternoon over 30 firebombs have been thrown in Hebron, with no effective response by the IDF.

Yesterday, Thursday, June 21, 2001, HaAretz newspaper reported: “The Health Ministry has advised everyone injured in the suicide bombings at a Netanya mall on May 18 and at the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium three weeks ago to be immunized against Hepatitis B. Forensic tests indicated the two bombers may have had the disease.” Clearly, chemical-biological warefare.

Earlier this week an Israeli airplane almost crashed coming into Ben Gurion airport because Arafat forces were jamming communications between airplanes and the control tower.

Yet the restraint continues.

A few days ago Arik really blew it by announcing, “I have no intentions of leading the country into war.” One Israeli columnist described this as a “revelation of top-secret information.” What more could Arafat want to hear? He can continue killing Jews, be it in Homesh, Neve Tzuf, or Tel Aviv, and not worry about the repercussions.

And the list of embarrassments stretches on: The mini-cabinet, which, for all intensive purposes, makes ALL the crucial decisions, is composed of Sharon, Peres, and Defense Minister ben-Eliezer. Originally, in order to reach sensitive operational decisions, a majority vote was necessary, (leaving the Likud Prime Minister in a self-imposed minority). This week, in order to appease Peres and patch up the national unity government, Peres was granted veto power over all decisions.

And saving the best for last: what could be more conducive to continued retraint:  Of course -   UNCLE SAM. Even if he wanted to react, even superficially, Sharon’s hands are tied because: 1) he must wait until concluding next week’s visit in the US, including a midweek meeting with Bush. And once that’s over, he must delay any serious response to Arafat-initiated killing due to  Colin Powell’s invasion into Jerusalem, next weekend. The American Secretary of State is arriving in order to “cement” the Tenet-Mitchell Accords, punishing Israel for Arafat’s declaration of  war and killing of over 100 Jews in the past 9 months.

Just how inept can a prime minister be?

Why is Sharon worse than Rabin-Peres? Simply because he truly knows better. Sharon built Judea and Samaria. He understands its strategic importance to the State of Israel. Yesha leaders are his friends, his compatriots.  Yet, for reasons totally incomprehensible, Ariel Sharon is treating his fellow countrymen as pawns in a chess match, knocking them down and allowing them to be killed off, one after another, leading to what seems to be an inevitable checkmate. Rabin used to say, “I will not let them (the ‘settlers’) move me (i.e. influence me). Sharon isn’t saying it, but that is exactly what he’s doing, demanding of us an awful price in human life. We have been turned into human pawns.

The Prime Minister, of course, denies this, excusing his inaction, not as “restraint” but as a “low-keyed response.” This being the case, there is one factor, discussed before the elections, but since ignored, that must be remembered. That is, Yamit.

A bulldozer can plough in two directions: it can clear the land of waste, in preparation for productive building, or it can clear the land of productive building, transforming it into waste.

Sharon has experience bulldozing both ways.

On Tuesday, January 30, 2001, HaAretz newspaper reported that:
“Sharon told a group of Golan residents Monday that he is still sorry about the dismantling of the Sinai town of Yamit 18 years ago,… “Believe me, I am sorry about that until this day.” Sharon’s campaign headquarters clarified that Sharon did not regret the peace agreement with Egypt, but only regretted destroying the Israeli buildings in Yamit.”

We may be experiencing today the “Ariel Sharon - Yamit Syndrome.” In a few years, will we read in the newspapers? “Sharon told a group of Israelis that he is still sorry about the dismantling of Judea, Samaria and Gazza. ‘Believe me, I am sorry about that until this day.’ Sharon’s press secretary clarified that Sharon did not regret the peace agreements with Arafat, but only regretted destroying the Israeli communities in Yesha.”

Monday, June 18, 2001

New Stone Home

New Stone Home
June 18, 2001

Let’s start tonight by playing a little game of “who said this?” Let’s
see if you can guess the identity of the person who made the following

“I find this name extremely difficult and it is even a source of
embarrassment for me. I can't even put the movement's sticker on my
car. "I feel that people look it and say: 'what an idiot is driving this car.”

“I even have a problem with our one add campaign which I used to think
was the best we ever had: 'Peace is preferable than the whole land of
Israel.' Today it is impossible to talk about peace the same way we used
to in the past. This is very clear; to me it is very clear."

Ok, those are the quotes. The truth is that I don’t expect you to know
his name, which is Professor Amiram Goldblum. Goldblum is one of
the leaders of the Shalom Achshav – Peace Now movement. And you
hear what he says, speaking about Oslo, “"It is very shattered; there is no
doubt about it..."

Unfortunately, not all Peace Now members think like Professor Amiram
Goldblum, who has started to wake up to the catastrophe called Oslo.
Back to them in a minute.

First, let me tell you about a special family that lives in Hebron, in a very
special place. The ben-Yitzhak’s, Rabbi Gavriel and Bracha, have live in
a caravan home in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron . A caravan
home is the Israeli terminology for what you might call a mobile home –
or a very temporary dwelling. The ben-Yitzhak’s have been living in their
temporary dwelling for the past 10 years. Others in the neighborhood
have been living in their temporary dwelling for 17 years. Rabbi Gavriel
and Bracha don’t live in their caravan home by themselves. They share it
with their 13 – yes you heard me right, 13, children.

Following the murder of their neighbor, Rabbi Shlomo Ra’anan almost
3 years ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority began archeological
excavations in Tel Rumeida, the site of Biblical Hebron, home to
Abraham, almost 4,000 years ago. In order to begin excavations, the ben-
Yitzhak’s caravan home had to be moved, and was placed atop another
caravan home, sort of a double-decker. Their home now overlooks all of
Hebron, and is clearly visible to Arafat’s terrorist army, a few hundred
meters away, in the Harat a’Shech hills. For the past eight months the

ben-Yitzhak’s home has been transformed into a target for Arafat’s
terrorist forces, who shoot at, and occasionally hit, Rabbi Gavriel and
Bracha’s caravan. When bullets hit the plasterboard caravan walls they
don’t bounce off, as they would hitting a stone wall. Rather, the bullets
penetrate. And when they penetrate, they don’t stop. They continue
into another room, and sometimes, even into a third room. The ben
Yitzhaks have a bullet hole in their bathroom, having passed through the
shower, and next to the sink, where their 13 children brush their teeth.
Miraculously, thank G-d, none of them have been hit or injured.

In order to ensure that the ben Yitzhaks and the other six families that
today live in Tel Rumeida no longer have to rely on such miracles,
Hebron’s Jewish community wants to build them real, stone homes,
houses that were promised to us by then Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu, years ago. One would think that the current Prime Minister,
with his building record, would have immediately granted us the building
permits we need to build in Tel Rumeida. But no, not yet.

On Friday morning the Israeli Supreme Court issued an injunction
stopping building in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, construction which
is the initial stage in the building of real stone houses for the Tel Rumeida
families and their children. The only thing standing in our way is a signed
building permit, which Ariel Sharon, together with his Defense Minister,
Fuad ben Eliezer, could provide in an instant.

But no – 8 months of war is not enough. The murder of Shalhavet Pass
is not enough. The murder of Rabbi Ra’anan almost 3 years ago is not
enough. Living in temporary housing for 17 years is also not enough.
Those families will just have to have more patience, rely on some more
miracles, and wait just a little longer.

Yesterday morning some of Professor Amiram Goldblum’s friends from
the Peace Now movement, bolstered by Knesset members from the
extreme left wing Meretz Party, visited Hebron. The purpose of their visit
was to ensure that the Supreme Court injunction was being enforced, that
the building really had stopped. That is why they came to Hebron.

Don’t despair. We surely are not. This morning I had the honor of
escorting a group of 25 Jews, an international delegation of Likud
leadership through Hebron. One of our stops was the Ben Yitzhak
caravan home. As she always does, Bracha ben Yitzhik welcomed the
group into her home with a friendly smile, and thanked them for coming
to visit her. People in the group looked around, stunned, as if in another

world, staring at the bullet holes in the walls of Bracha’s house. After
greeting the group, Bracha continued with the task of preparing lunch for
her many children. And the group looked on, not believing.

For the time being perhaps the hammers have stopped pounding the nails
and the cement trucks stopped pouring concrete in Tel Rumeida. But have
no doubt, the building will start again, shortly I hope. And then, when
you come to visit the ben Yitzhak family in Tel Rumeida, you’ll be able
to congratulate them on their new, permanent, stone home.

Monday, June 11, 2001

To Visit or Not to Visit

To Visit or Not to Visit
By David Wilder

A few hours ago thousands attended he funeral of five month old Yehuda Shoham, killed when a huge rock was hurled through the windshield of his parent’s car a week ago, hitting him in the head, and crushing his skull.
We all know what Ariel Sharon’s response should be. I would like to address what should our response be? What should your response be?
Over the past few weeks, a new subject has made headlines in the Jewish world: Should we, or shouldn’t we – Should we visit Israel, or shouldn’t we visit Israel? Is it too dangerous? Can we take That kind of responsibility? For ourselves, for our children, for anyone???
I’d like to discuss this from several vantage points:
First, and most importantly: Eretz Yisrael belongs to the Jewish people, whether Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, whether Hevron or Beit El – ALL  of Eretz Yisrael – and that gives us a right to be wherever we want, whenever we want. If I want to take a hike in my back yard, or a mile away from my home, who has the right to stop me?!
Perhaps more significantly though, is not the right we have, but rather the obligation we have - the obligation to walk the land, to travel the land, to build the land – to be part of the land. That’s what G-d said to Abraham almost 4,000 years ago – Lecha Lecha – Go – Walk, – from north to south, from east to west, all the land. If you walk the land, if you dwell in the land, that land is yours. If you ignore the land, if you abandon the land, someone else will undoubtedly fill the vacuum.
I know what some of you are asking: What’s the red line. When the risks reach the stage where our lives may be in danger, how far must we go?
Practically speaking, no one must commit suicide. That is not the goal. The aim is to LIVE on the land. Today, for example, Hebron residents do not wander around on the Arafat-controlled part of the city, because, regrettably, at the present, that may be tantamount to suicide. The day will come when that will change, but for the moment, that’s the reality we have to live with.
On the other hand, what about the road from Hebron to Jerusalem?  Unfortunately, over the past weeks and months, a number of people have been killed traveling this road, others have been wounded, and still others have been attacked, and thank G-d, were not injured.
So, do we travel the road, or not? I personally face that question frequently.  For example, two weeks ago, in order to attend the funeral of Mrs. Sarah Blaustein, HY”D, who was murdered on that very road. The funeral began after dark in Efrat, about 25 minutes from Hebron. Before leaving the house I told my wife, “If we don’t continue to travel the roads, how can we continue to live here. We cannot allow ourselves to be trapped in our homes, without being able to even travel to Jerusalem or Gush Etzion, whenever we need to. If the road isn’t ours, it’s theirs. And we must not allow this to happen.”
Is this suicide? No. We are involved in a war, a war in which our enemy is trying to take our land away from us. Our response is clear: we will not let them control our lives – we will not play into their hands. We will continue to use the roads, we will shop in the malls, and our children will continue to play in the playgrounds. We will not let our enemies stop us from living.
So you ask, what if…
A few weeks ago a woman visited us for Shabbat from New York. She contacted me and asked to come to Hebron for Shabbat. She has 9 or 10 children at home and was in Israel for her sister's wedding. During one of the meals I asked her how her family let her come to Hebron and she answered, "There were those who tried to talk me out of it, telling me how dangerous it is, but HaKadash Baruch Hu knows my number. If my time's up, it doesn't matter if I'm in Hebron or New York or anywhere else.
I’ll add on to that. Again, we are at war. In war, unfortunately, there are casualties. However, if we do not fight back, for fear of casualties, what will be the result? Where would the Jewish world be today if the allied countries had continued with the policies of the British and Neville Chamberlain? Can we allow ourselves to be scared out of our land? If we can be chased out of Yehuda, Shomron and Gazza for fear of being injured, or G-d forbid, killed, we all know what’s next on the list – a list which ends in the Mediterranean Sea.
The question is, I think, not “how can we send our children to Israel.” The question you must ask is, “how can we not send our children to Israel” – “how can we ourselves not visit in Israel.” All Jews outside of Israel should be asking themselves: “They are at war, they are being attacked, they are our brethren. How can we stand by and do nothing? How can we stand on the sidelines without giving them some kind of support?
That support, first and foremost today – is to be here, to visit here, to prove to the entire world, be it the Israeli government, the American government, and the entire Arab world – YOU CANNOT DEFEAT US BY SHOOTING AT US – WE JEWS ARE ALL TOGETHER – WE WILL CONTINUE TO ROAM OUR LAND – YOU CANNOT STOP US!
Looking forward to seeing you here soon,