Monday, December 8, 2003

Ehud Flavius

Ehud Flavius
December 8, 2003

Do you have any idea what Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Hamas leader Shech Ahmed Yassin have in common? 

A couple of days ago Yassin stated that “a two state solution will never work,” because all of Eretz Yisrael, the State of Israel, is occupied Arab land, and of course, armed resistance will continue until all the “occupied land” is liberated. So, he suggested that the “Jewish state” be moved, to Europe. In other words, Yassin’s stated goal is the annihilation of the State of Israel.

On Friday, Ehud Olmert, who holds numerous cabinet positions, as well as being Sharon’s deputy, told the Israeli daily Yedioth Achronot that Israel must unilaterally transfer somewhere in the vicinity of 40,000 ‘settlers’ uproot dozens of ‘settlements’ and accept smaller borders in order to insure survival of a “Jewish state” with a Jewish majority.

Some view Olmert as having walked the Likud plank in the same direction as Roni Milo and Dan Meridor, both of whom made a sharp Left turn and found themselves political outsiders. However, yesterday, Olmert reacted, saying that his declaration was exactly what a majority of Likud supporters believe, but were always afraid to say.

What lies behind Ehud’s apostasy? There are a couple of possible factors involved:
1. Olmert considers himself to be crown prince and has to distance himself from his main rival, Bibi Netanyahu. Despite the unpopularity he now faces within the Likud, Olmert expects that within a few years a majority of Likud voters will side with him, due to continued Arab terror and Jewish blood shed.

2. Olmert is Ariel Sharon’s shofar, testing the waters and preparing the way. This isn’t the first time. Not too long ago, at a memorial for David ben Gurion, Olmert started talking about unilateral Israeli measures, paving the way for Sharon’s own remarks.

Olmert is considered to be Sharon’s closest confidant within the government, and it’s believed that he wouldn’t make such far-reaching statements without coordinating them with the Prime Minister. He is also very close to Sharon’s son Omri, whose left-wing ideology is no secret. He and his father are said to be grooming Olmert to follow in Sharon’s footsteps to the Prime Minister’s office.

It is very important to note the distinction being made between the right and the left. The left is willing to separate from Yesha because, to them, it is insignificant and has little value to the Jewish people. Olmert and Sharon, on the other hand, are openly declaring that Judea, Samaria and Gaza are definitely integral elements of Eretz Yisrael, that they are OURS, but must be sacrificed for the good of the Jewish people. In other words, in their view, the land is ours to do with what we want – to take it or leave it.

It is nauseating to read the conversation that took place about Hebron at yesterday’s cabinet meeting. Sharon, when asked about Hebron, said that during normal times, every Jewish school child and every foreign visitor should visit Hebron “which has our forefather's graves and righteous Jew's grave which we cannot give up on.” “Could anyone imagine a Hebron without Jews?” To that, Shinui Minister Avraham Poraz responded, “yes” that Jews should be removed from Hebron because “there are only a handful of Jewish settlers up against thousands of Arabs”. Shinui Minister Yossi Paritzky added, "There are also Jewish graves in Prague but that doesn't mean that we have to be there."

How did Sharon react? He was quoted as having said, “In the framework of difficult concessions Israel will not give up the Jewish community in Hebron," but added that even if the city is handed over to the Palestinians, Israel would continue to hold on to the Ma’arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs.

Where does this leave us? Sharon’s seeming reluctance to part with Hebron, but his willingness to abandon others areas of Yesha is despicable. Surely it doesn’t leave me breathing a sigh of relief. It is clear from Sharon’s remarks that he would not hesitate to evict Hebron’s Jewish community, leaving a small garrison to guard Ma’arat HaMachpela. But secondly, how can he even consider forsaking Shilo, site of the ‘mishkan’ the sacred Tabernacle, following the exodus from Egypt and entrance into Israel, for 369 years []. And what about Beit El, which we read about in the current weekly Torah portions? The list goes on and on.

Yesterday Minister Meir Shitrit, presently Bibi’s helper in Treasury, said on Kol Yisrael radio that it is “intolerable that people should take hilltops wherever they want, install electricity and pave roads.” “What, can anyone settle wherever he wants in Eretz Yisrael,” he exclaimed.

It really is difficult to understand these people. After all, this is what Zionism was, (and, contrary to popular opinion, still is,) all about. Settling the land, our land, all of it, forever. This is exactly how the land was settled, against world opinion, and against British dictates. Without this kind of settlement I’m not sure if the State of Israel would have come into existence. And today, without this kind of settlement, we know what else will come into existence.

Current talk of unilateral withdrawal from Yesha, eviction and transfer of tens of thousands of Jews, destruction of dozens of communities is, a reward to terror, a victory for the terrorists, and a Beilin – left-wing triumph. But it is much worse than just that. It is a signal to our enemies to continue on their trail of killing, for if such huge Israeli concessions can be gained without any sacrifice on their part, the full conquest cannot be far behind. Just as Yassin declared, “a two-state solution will never work.”

That is what Ehud Olmert and Ahmed Yassin have in common. They are both working, in their own ways, to bring about the end of the Jewish state of Israel. Olmert is not the first high-ranking Jew to walk this road, changing his mind in the middle of the battle for his own good. In keeping with his notorious forerunner, he should be renamed: Ehud Flavius

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

No More Sellouts

December 2, 2003


Last week I participated in the “Jewish Leadership” Conference in Jerusalem, led by Moshe Feiglin and Co. Feiglin, whose activities a decade ago with Zu Artzenu led to a conviction for ‘sedition’ because he, together with Shmuel Sackett, organized mass protests to the Oslo Accords, continues his admirable work. The hall in Biyanei HaUma – The Jerusalem Convention Center, was packed. I estimate that at least 1,000 people attended. (See -

One of the speakers was Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, son of the Rishon l’Tzion, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu.  Among other remarks, he told two revealing stories, both of which are very important.

Prior to the War of Independence Tzfat’s population included approximately 10,000 Arabs and less than 2,000 Jews.

Rabbi Eliyahu repeated a conversation between the commander of Arab forces in the city and one of the Jewish fighters, a conversation which occurred many years after the War of Independence. It went something like this:
Israeli: Why did all the Arabs flee from the city? We were clearly outnumbered?
Arab: Prior to conclusion of the British mandate, all Tzfat residents were urged to abandon the city. They refused. The British then offered to evacuate women and children. This offer was also rejected. Finally they suggested removing elderly Jews. This too was declined. We knew we had you outnumbered, but something wasn’t right – we didn’t understand why you refused to evacuate the city while you had a chance. It put a slight dent in our self confidence.

After the first day of battle we were sure you would leave, and when you didn’t, it bothered us. So it was, day after day, until we realized that you weren’t going to leave, that this was your land, and that G-d was on your side. You were winning, we were losing, and we didn’t want to die. So we fled.

The battle was over by May tenth, only days after it began.

That’s the first episode. But, here is a second, quite different story. This conversation took place in the early 1980s during the “Madrid Peace Conference,” the first time Arabs agreed to sit down with Israelis at the same table. Then Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir led the Israeli delegation. One of the Israeli representatives had the following conversation with the Syrian Foreign Minister Faruk a’Shara:
a’Shara: Why have you Israelis stolen the Palestinian’s land? It belongs to them. How can you take it away?
Israeli: It is not theirs – it is ours. It says so here in the Bible. G-d gave us this land.
a’Shara: It may be written in the Bible, but you don’t believe it.
Israeli: Of course I believe it - I believe in the Bible. I pray three times a day and put on Tefillin.
a’Shara: That may be so, but still, you don’t believe it.
Israeli: You’re wrong, but why do you think so?
a’Shara: If you really believed that Eretz Yisrael belonged to you, you wouldn’t be here. What are you doing here? You are negotiating for Eretz Yisrael? For the land sworn to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? If you believed that the land belongs to you, you would not negotiate for one centimeter of it. If you are here, it means that you don’t believe it!

These two stories prove a point that I’ve been trying to make for a very long time. I am frequently asked by reporters for my ‘magic solution’ to the Middle East crisis. After all, if I reject out of hand the idea of a palestinian state, what can I possibly offer to resolve the conflict?

My answer is very simple: Only when the people of Israel – Am Yisrael, in Israel and throughout the world understand that Eretz Yisrael belongs to us, only then will we be able to reach a solution. As long as we question whether this land is ours or not our enemy will not desist, not even for one minute. They will continue their efforts, using all means possible, to conquer the State of Israel, all of it, from Metulla in the north  to Eilat in the south. Only when we are convinced that Eretz Yisrael belongs to Am Yisrael will we have the same motivation that inspired the Jewish residents of Tzfat to remain in their homes in 1948, despite the grave danger facing them.

This is, of course, tied into Jewish education, education so lacking amongst Jews, especially children, even in Israel.

The foundation of this education is a full and total rejection of western liberal values, which diametrically contravene Jewish ethics. An example of these convoluted principals is the current worldwide pressure being exerted on Israel to stop building the ‘protective fence’ the length of the country. Personally I believe that this wall in nothing more than an optical illusion and will do more harm than good. However, the Israeli government has decided that this wall is essential to the security of the country. The fact that almost 1,000 people have been murdered, and over 6,000 wounded in almost 20,000 attacks in the past three years is good reason for the government to be concerned. However, almost every country in the world, from the United States down, rejects Israel’s legitimate right to choose how to protect its citizens. Today the Arabs claimed that construction of the wall constitutes a ‘war crime’ and is demanding a hearing in the international court in Hague.

An additional example occurred yesterday at the United Nations in New York, marking “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” This day is annually ‘celebrated’ November twenty ninth, the anniversary of the passing of the UN partition plan on Nov. 29 1947. This resolution, so disastrous for the Jews, was accepted by the leadership in pre-State Israel, but was totally rejected by the Arabs. That small fact is not an issue. What is an issue is, “Israeli actions - such as extra-judicial killings, use of heavy weapons against civilians, demolition of houses, continued expansion of settlements,
and the building of a barrier that cuts deep into Palestinian territory -
have enhanced misery and feelings of helplessness among Palestinians. They
have undermined efforts to curb violence and fuelled hatred and anger
towards Israel. They have pushed back the day when Israel will live without
fear within secure and recognized borders… I join with those from around the world who today express the deepest solidarity with the Palestinian people in their continued suffering. They remain stateless and oppressed.” So saith UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.”

At almost the same time, on the other side of the world, former President  Jimmy Carter said in Geneva, “The present administration in Washington has been invariably supportive of Israel, and the well-being of the Palestinian people has been ignored or relegated to secondary importance…There is no doubt that the lack of real effort to resolve the Palestinian issue is a primary source of anti-American sentiment throughout the Middle East and a major incentive for terrorist activity."

And for dessert, the last example concerns Ehud Olmert’s pathetic decision, folding to EU demands that Israeli products to be labeled, allowing Europeans to tax and boycott goods produced ‘over the green line’ in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Perhaps commodities coming from these areas will be marked with a yellow star. It would be fitting.

There is no doubt that only when we learn to reject western demands out of hand will we begin to resolve our problems. Unfortunately it looks as if this is still a way off. The Israeli rumor mill has it that Ariel Sharon is considering an Eretz Yisrael tradeoff – Gaza for Gush Etzion. According to reports circulating late last week, when Sharon announces his decision to evict all Jews from Gush Katif, transferring them to the Negev, he will simultaneously propose to annex Gush Etzion and perhaps also Ma’ale Adumim, both of which are considered to be within the “Israeli consensus.”

Let it be known: this is not a tradeoff – it is a sellout! If Sharon succeeds in destroying even one Israeli community, it will be regarded as a ‘first step,’ a precedent which can be, and probably will be repeated with the advent of major world pressure on Israel. We can no more agree to dispose of Netzarim and Kfar Darom than we can to abandon Hebron, Beit El, Shilo and Ariel. The very thought is preposterous.

Only when we realize, all of us, that selling out our homeland is tantamount to cutting out our collective heart, will we reach the level of those 2,000 Jews who stood up for their homes in Tzfat in 1948 and rid themselves of over 10,000 Arab enemies in less than 10 days.

So be it!

With blessings from Hebron.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

A Blue & White Flag

A Blue & White Flag
Nov. 25, 2003

Withdrawal is surrender, and surrender we will not. Our flag is blue and white, and that blue makes all the difference in the world. Abandonment and transfer of Jews from Yesha is tantamount to the removal of the blue from our flag.
From David Wilder

I planned on writing today about one of the most extraordinary Shabbatot I’ve ever experienced. After all, it’s not every week you participate in a Hebron Shabbat together with another 25,000 Jews. Friday night, it was virtually impossible to get into Ma’arat HaMachpela - the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. It was simply packed. There wasn’t room to move inside. And outside, in the courtyard, thousands of people participated in Shabbat evening prayers. It was a sight to behold. 

So too, Saturday. Thousands upon thousands of people walking the streets, visiting the different neighborhoods - it was really unbelievable.

However, current events will not let me dwell on the wonders of this past
 Shabbat in Hebron. There are other matters that are more pressing.

While in the United States, I heard rumors that Ariel Sharon was planning another landmark address, Herzliya II, as it was called. During the first Herzliya speech, in December 2002, Sharon officially accepted the ideas behind the Roadmap, culminating in a fully sovereign Palestinian state. Realizing that the Palestinian terrorist authority does not have the desire or ability to fulfill even the most minimum requirements in order to convince a majority of Israelis to back this arrangement, Sharon is planning the next stage in his farcical premiership. This is being labeled Herzliya II. Then, it hit the headlines.

According to media reports, Sharon is fed up with the current deadlock and is looking for a way out. He promised Israelis peace and security and hasn’t yet been able to deliver the goods. Without a ‘peace partner’ it’s difficult to negotiate. So, Sharon has decided to go it alone. Latest accounts say that Sharon is planning a unilateral withdrawal of Israeli forces to the vicinity of the new ‘wall’ (which seems to be known to some as the Messiah in disguise). This unilateral withdrawal includes the destruction of ‘isolated settlements,’ most probably in Gaza - like Netzarim, Morag, and Kfar Darom. However other communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza have not been ruled out. Jews evicted from their homes are to be transferred to new settlements, this time in the Negev.

Other communities are scheduled to be ‘moved,’ creating ‘settlement blocks.’

This is, in brief, what has been floating around in recent days.

Now, it’s important to understand why Ariel Sharon is even considering such measures:

Ariel Sharon is facing massive legal problems in Israel. He is likely on the verge of being indicted for illegal financial dealings, some of which concern campaign funding, illicit loans, and possible bribery. Should he be indicted, Sharon will have to resign. But Sharon knows that the Left understands that they will never be able to evict Jews from
 Yesha ’ only a ‘right-wing’ bulldozer like Ariel Sharon, who was responsible for much of the development of Judea, Samaria and Gaza will be able to take it apart. He has experience ‘ he did it in Sinai. Sharon also knows that the decisions taken concerning his future political life and tenure in the Prime Minister’s residence lie in the hands of the Left. In other words, if he is a ‘good boy’ and practices what they preach, they will, more than likely, leave him alone. In other words, he will trade Eretz Yisrael for political survival. 

Reason number two: George Bush and the White House. Ariel Sharon knows that George Bush is a good friend of Israel. All things considered, he’s probably the best friend Israel has had in the White House in decades. He also knows that George W. is in trouble. Iraq, dead American soldiers, and continuing world terror is ruffling feathers. The elections, a year away, are already catching headlines. The campaign has begun. Sharon also knows that the democratic alternatives to Bush spell catastrophe for Israel. So, Sharon is interested not only in saving himself; he’s also interested in saving George W’s skin. So, he is willing to trade pieces of
 Eretz Yisrael for Bush. 

Reason number three: Yossi Beilin, Shimon Peres and Geneva. The ‘Geneva Accords’ initiated by Yossi Beilin are covered with the fingerprints of several well-known players. First on the list is Shimon Peres, who was Yossi Beilin’s teacher. The first big Peres production, ‘Oslo’, was such a hit that he decided to produce a follow-up. Not being able to sponsor a ‘by-pass’ plan to a government that he still hopes to sit in, Peres assisted Beilin into Geneva, another cataclysmic suicide plan for the State of Israel. Geneva includes the worst of the worst-case scenarios conjured up since the commencement of Oslo, leaving Israel as a virtual nonentity.

Another player in the Geneva fiasco is undoubtedly the European Union. Last week, Beilin and Company put two million copies of the Geneva Accords into the Israeli mail. Do you have any idea how much it costs to print up and send two million copies of anything’ I don’t have exact costs, but it is a tremendous amount of money. I am certain that the financial backer of this escapade is the EU. I might also surmise that the EU is receiving a great deal of that money from another power broker ‘ very likely Saudi Arabia. So from the Saudis to the Europeans to Beilin. What a team.

But please, do not underestimate these players. The Geneva Accords are exerting overwhelming pressure on Ariel Sharon. These accords are being backed by world media. Foreign governments are starting to get involved, viewing them as an alternative to the dying Roadmap. And in Israel, again, the Left is initiating something solid, as opposed to the waffling of the other side, whoever they are. Sharon remembers only too well the pressures that brought Ehud Barak’s cowardly flight from Lebanon. He knows that the name of the game is not to sit on the fence; rather, it is to grab onto something solid and pave the way. It makes no difference which direction the path goes in ‘ to heaven or to hell. What is important is to offer an alternative. And that is what Sharon is doing.

Ariel Sharon has not despaired of several dreams: He still wants to dispel the ‘war-monger’ image he picked up during the Lebanese War in the 1980s. He would also like to be remembered as a statesman and as the ‘great peacemaker.’ And last, but not least, he would like another term in the office of the Prime Minister, despite his age (and seemingly deteriorating mental health).

All of this adds up to transferring Jews, destroying communities, and abandoning
 Eretz Yisrael. 

The big question is, of course, what we can do to prevent this madness. There are no easy answers. We have to make a lot of noise, and let this government know that the People of Israel will not allow Ariel Sharon or anyone else to chop up
 Eretz Yisrael, we will not allow appeasement to terrorists, and we will not commit communal suicide. The very fact that these ideas are being floated around have already caused immense damage to Israel. The idea of withdrawal at all, but especially in the middle of a war, is unthinkable. This is exactly what our enemy wants and we must not give it to him. 

Withdrawal is surrender, and surrender we will not. Our flag is blue and white, and that blue makes all the difference in the world. Abandonment and transfer of Jews from
 Yesha is tantamount to the removal of the blue from our flag. 

Israel must not wave a white flag.

Monday, November 3, 2003

The Real Consensus

The Real Consensus
November 3, 2003

When I opened up the word processor this morning I hadn’t decided whether to write about the battle over Netzarim or the new European survey which determined that Israel tops the list: Israel is the greatest danger to world peace.

Then I opened the newspaper – not generally a good way to start the day. I’d advise anyone wanting to start the day with a smile to avoid the printed press, and if possible, the radio (and TV) too. It certainly won’t add anything to your mood.

I don’t have any choice – it’s my job. I skimmed the first section of the Jerusalem Post and turned by attention to the Comment and Opinions section. Sigh; Sigh; Sigh;

The headline article, written by Yosef Goell is called ‘Recognizing consensus’ [].

Goell differentiates between two kinds of  ‘settlements’ – those within the public consensus and those on the other side. For example, French Hill, Gilo, Ramot, Ramat Eshkol, to name a few, fall within public consent. They are no longer considered to be settlements, despite that fact that prior to the 1967 Six day War, they were on the ‘other side of the border.’ Why? “…Because such a large number of Israelis actually went to live there and invested their lives and their own money there.”

However, according to Goell, the rest of Judea, Samaria and Gaza “was never within the Israeli consensus.” For this reason, he writes that “eventually many settlements-but certainly not all-will have to be vacated. Annexation of all the territories has never been in the cards. The absence of a consensus means that most Israelis will come to actively oppose the further sacrifice of soldiers in defense of indefensible – and militarily purposeless – outposts.”

Goell also mentions a document published by the Israel Democracy Institute called, ‘The Political and Social Significance of Evacuating Settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza’ []. This position paper, written by none other than a kippa-wearing Jew, Yair Sheleg, is premised on the assumption that Israel will evict Jews from their homes throughout Yesha. The report discusses political and social implications of dealing with a positive decision to transfer Israelis from their homeland. Of course it includes various scenarios, such as Israeli ‘settlers’ opening fire on their brethren during a forces evacuation, preemptive ‘Israeli terror,’ and a ‘civil rebellion.’ The author also takes upon himself the role of moderator, providing solutions to expected problems: “On account of these dangers, the report includes a recommended policy that could temper the expected damage.”

The concept of Jewish transfer is not new, but, as with the above examples, has again raised its ugly head, making waves in the public domain. Following the killing of three soldiers by terrorists just outside the Netzarim in Gush Katif less than two weeks ago, left wing politicians claimed that there are too many soldiers guarding too few people in the community.  Shinui party Justice minister Yosef ‘Tommy’ Lapid went so far as to suggest a ‘deal’ with the terrorists: their promise to disband terror organizations in return for an Israeli guarantee to uproot Netzarim within ten months. (This morning Maariv newspaper reported that right-wing members of Shinui described this proposal as ‘spitting in the face of the party.’)

Let’s say that there really are too many soldiers guarding too few people. The solution is simple. Allow more Jews to move into Yesha. In Hebron, for example, it can literally take years for the Jewish community to receive building permits for construction on Jewish-owned land in the city. Arabs, on the other hand, do whatever they so desire. Presently our next door neighbor enemies are carrying out major renovations in neighborhoods adjacent to the Jewish neighborhoods and next to Ma’arat HaMachpela. They are restoring ruins, unoccupied for decades. They have no proof of ownership and no permits, but the work continues. Why are we forbidden from constructing freely on land we own? Why is it virtually impossible to buy property from Arabs interested in selling? Why won’t the Israeli government allow us to live in housing legally purchased from Arabs in Hebron over the years? Why is it that any money budgeted to Yesha is headline news but financial aid to Kibbutzim or millions of shekels to left-wing sponsored culture, including anti-Israel – pro-Arab plays and movies are automatically OK?

However, I’m not entirely sure that the above assumption is correct. Today there are almost 250,000 Jews living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Over the past year alone, the population has grown 5.6 percent. Since the Oslo War began, the population has risen in the vicinity of fifteen percent. This, during the most difficult three years the country has known since the establishment of the State. This, while Jews throughout the country, but especially in Yesha, have been targeted, killed and wounded by the hundreds. This, while Yesha’s population has been villainized by the Israeli left, by the media and by most of the world. This can be most recently viewed through the sunglasses of an article printed in today’s HaAretz newspaper, titled, ‘American spy chiefs want more pressure on settlements’  [ ]. The subtitle tells the story: ‘To relieve hostility towards the U.S., calm situation in Iraq.’

In other words, my presence in Hebron, my daughter’s presence in Gush Katif, my son’s presence in the Shomron – we are responsible, together with another 240,000 Jews, for the fact that Americans are being killed in Iraq. We are responsible for continued terrorism against the United States. Of course, the message is clear: Israeli settlement of Yesha is ultimately responsible for 9/11, and the inescapable conclusion is that the ‘war’ President George Bush declared against terrorism is actually a war against the Jews.

Nu, so what’s new?

To Yosef Goell, to Tommy Lapid, to the author of the above-mentioned recommendations, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, Carl Ford, to CIA director George Tenet, to Secretary of State Colin Powell, to all of the others, in Israel, in Europe, and around the world, I have a surprise revelation for you. Actually it’s not so new – it goes back quite a ways. This coming Saturday we will read the third Torah portion of the New Year – called, in Hebrew, Lech Lecha, which means “Go – You Go.” This was a command given by G-d to Abraham, telling him to leave his home ‘for the Land I will show you.’ That land being, of course, Eretz Yisrael. Later in the portion we read of the covenant decreed between G-d and Abraham, a covenant between G-d and not only Abraham, but also Abraham’s offspring, promising that the children of Israel will inherit the Land, the Land of Israel, an eternal bond, from almost the beginning of time, to today.

In reply to Goell’s consensus complaints, one must take into consideration not only the millions of Jews who now live in Israel, but the generations upon generations of Jews who lived in Israel, from the days of Abraham onward,  the generations of Jews who were expelled from the Land, the generations of Jews who dared dream of living in Israel, in Jerusalem, in Shechem, in Beit El, in Hebron. The consensus is the mass conscious of the Jewish people, Jews who lived with visions of  Temple Mount, Ma’arat HaMachpela, Joseph’s Tomb and Rachel’s Tomb – Jews who marveled with the thought of working the land and walking the land and Jews who died with ‘Next Year in Jerusalem’ on their lips, in their souls.  This is the consensus whose ideals will be fulfilled, whose dreams will be lived. This is the consensus of the people of Israel living in Eretz Yisrael. The real consensus.

With blessings from Hebron,
David Wilder

Monday, October 27, 2003

Who’s Guilty

Who’s Guilty
October 27, 2003

On this morning’s news someone, I don’t remember who, one of the left wing politicians, definitively claimed that there are too many soldiers guarding too few people in Netzarim.

I agree.

Early Friday morning terrorists managed to infiltrate an army base just outside the Netzarim community in Gaza. Three soldiers were killed before one of the two terrorists was eliminated. The other escaped.

In reaction to this attack Israel destroyed three 13-floor buildings which overlooked Netzarim and the army base.

That, of course, was the ‘official’ response. But other retorts were abundant. Probably the most common reaction demanded the eviction of Netzarim’s civilian residents. Some suggested that the community be totally wiped off the map. Others recommended that it be transformed into an IDF military base. But the idea was the same – let’s rid ourselves of Netzarim.

Interestingly enough, Netzarim, located in Northern Gaza, was originated by Israelis from the Shomar HaTzair Movement, one of the most, if not THE most, left-wing Kibbutz movement in Israel. That was in 1972. In 1984 Netzarim became a civilian community, under the auspicies of the religious kibbutz movement. A few years later the Kibbutz movement pulled out and it was transformed into a regular civilian community. Today Netzarim is home to some sixty families – over 400 people.

Life in Netzarim is not easy. The community is a favorite target of many who oppose it’s existence: the Israeli left, Arab terrorists and most of the world. The residents are forced to travel by convoy with an armed escort. Attempted terrorist penetration is frequent, and, as happened last year and again a few days ago, sometimes succeeds. Kasam missiles and mortars have also been known to pay visits. Despite this, the people living in Netzarim are amongst the happiest in Israel. They are fulfilling the true Zionist dream – living genuine ideals, settling the land for the good of the people. Notwithstanding danger and opposition on so many fronts, they stand as pillars of strength and faith, examples of flourishing Jewish values in Eretz Yisrael.

Monday, October 20, 2003

The Voice of Sanity

October 20, 2003

There are a multitude of subjects to write about: Three soldiers shot down in cold blood last night; tens of thousands visiting Hebron during the Succot holidays; the “Geneva Accords.” But today I think there is one subject which tops the list.

Yesterday the Israeli cabinet, voting 11 to 5, refused to append a suggested law outlawing all advertising on so-called ‘pirate radio stations,’ including Arutz 7.  Lawbreakers could be fined up to one hundred thousand shekels and/or jailed for one year.

Early this afternoon a Jerusalem Magistrate Court convicted directors and broadcasters of the Arutz 7 radio station of illegal broadcasting. Among those convicted were Rabbi Zalman Melamed and his wife, Rebbetzion Shulamit Melamed, Ya’akov Katz, better known as Ketzele, Yoel Tzur (who lost his wife and son, both of whom were murdered by terrorists almost three years ago), and internationally renowned film-maker and Arutz 7 broadcaster, Adir Zik.  They could receive a maximum sentence of three years in jail and a three million shekel fine.

It is written in the Talmud that a sage, resuscitated after having been ‘clinically dead’ was asked what he had seen ‘there.’ His response, speaking about viewing this world from the next world: “An upside-down world.” My friends, things have not changed in two thousand years. Our world is still upside down. But not only. It is also convoluted, warped and twisted.

Perhaps my generalization is not fair. So I will limit my definition, not to the entire world, rather only to the State of Israel. Oh, upside-down it is!

For the past ten years – no, since 1948, but more recently, since the middle of the 1980s, Israel has been involved in a ‘hot war’ for survival. The last decade, the “Oslo Era” has witnessed the deaths of over 1,100 Israelis. The past three years, the beginning of the Oslo War, has seen almost nine hundred victims. During this time the only reliable media outlet, the only radio station which broadcast the total, uncensored, truth, was Arutz 7. Virtually all of Israel’s political leadership, including many left-wing politicians, voiced their opinions on this station. When Kol Yisrael – the mislabeled “Voice of Israel,” actually Kol-Smol Yisrael, “The Left Voice of Israel” was using every technique possible to batter Bibi Netanyahu during the 1996 elections, Arutz 7 stood to Netanyahu’s right, offering an alternative to the vile left-wing propaganda. So too during Ariel Sharon’s campaign. All people who access the Arutz 7 internet site or receive their daily email news updates know and understand the vital importance of Arutz 7 in getting the truth out, around the world – in multiple languages. This, despite numerous attempts by the left to prevent broadcasts and to close down the station.

Today, temporarily, they have succeeded. Arutz 7’s management has decided to stop all radio broadcasts, from five o’clock this afternoon. However, internet broadcasts will continue.

It is virtually impossible to comprehend what is happening in Israel. For the past ten years Israeli leadership has negotiated with terrorist killers, meeting and shaking hands with them in Jerusalem. Israel has abandoned major portions of the heart of our land to terrorists, leading to killing after killing. Israel, negotiating with Hizballah, is on the verge of releasing over a thousand terrorists for the release of an alleged Israeli criminal and the bodies of three murdered soldiers. In response to American pressure Israel is still ‘easing up’ on the ‘innocent palestinian population.’ The list goes on and on.

Of course, the heart of the problem I have yet to mention. That is, freedom of speech – the right to freedom of expression. Yesterday I visited one of my wife’s uncles in Jerusalem. Way back in pre-state Israel, Uncle Meir was a member of the Etzel – the right-wing Jewish underground working to expel the British from Eretz Yisrael. He told me that later, after the founding of the state, when a Teudat Zehut – an identity card was issued to all Israeli citizens, all members of the right-wing underground movements received numbers beginning with 19. This was used to identify all ‘opponents’ of the state, i.e., the left, in order to badger them and prevent them from reaching any position of power within Israel. Fifty four years later, things haven’t changed. Voicing opinions that directly oppose those of the ruling junta just cannot be allowed. Even at the cost of freedom of speech.

Unprecedented legal maneuvering has prevented the legalization of Arutz 7. Israeli law forbids private radio stations from broadcasting. A law attempting to resolve problems dealing with Arutz 7 and other religious radio stations was struck down by the Supreme Court. Despite the huge costs involved, Arutz 7 broadcast from a ship located outside the legal territorial borders of Israel. However, after a five year trial, a court today ruled that the station is illegal.

For fifteen years Arutz 7 has been the voice of sanity in Israel. Their broadcasts have included Torah, current events and love of Eretz Yisrael. This is, undoubtedly, the reason why the government and the left have worked so hard to bring it down. It won’t surprise me if soon, the Knesset passes a bill outlawing love of Eretz Yisrael. For anyone who cherishes this land is at odds with the government, which still believes that dividing the land is the solution to all our problems.

It is clear that the tremendous opposition to Arutz 7’s continued existence is due to the immense support the station has around the world, and also, to its magnificent success. Had Arutz 7 been a small, inconsequential radio station, no one would have lifted a hand against it. The fact that Arutz 7 is so influential attests to the attempts made to shut it down. I hope and pray that public uproar, in Israel and around the world will reach such proportions that will force the reopening of the station.

Arutz 7 is the Israeli voice of sanity. The repression of Arutz 7 can only be described as total insanity. Sanity will win out.

Sunday, October 5, 2003

Free Federman

Erev Yom Kippur
October 5, 2003

Yesterday, at about 2:15 in the afternoon, a twenty-nine year old female lawyer walked into the Maxim restaurant in Haifa with about ten kilo of explosives strapped onto her body. When she detonated herself, nineteen people were killed and over 60 injured. Among those murdered were five members of the Zar-aviv family from Kibbutz Yagur – Grandmother Bruria, aged 59, her son and his wife, Bezalel and Keren, and their two children, four year old son Liron and his fourteen month old sister Maya.

Also wiped out were four members of the Almog family, from Tel Aviv: Father Ze’ev, a senior ranking officer in the IDF, his wife Ruti, their son Moshe, and grandson Tomer.

Together with six others, they were annihilated because they were Jews, eating lunch on a Saturday afternoon in a jointly owned Jewish-Arab restaurant, two days before Yom Kippur. Amongst the dead were also four Arabs.

This morning, trying to eat breakfast while listening to the news, difficult to do, feeling hungry and nauseas at the same time, former labor defense minister, Binyamin Fuad ben Eliezer was interviewed. Hearing him, I felt even worse. His initial statement was correct, that being that Israel must change its approach to the problem. He continued by saying that we would never reach a situation whereby all Arab [terrorist] organizations (Tanzim, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the PA) would agree to a full ceasefire. I can also agree with that. But, then our paths differ. Fuad’s conclusion is that we have no choice but to enter into immediate negotiations, despite the continued pogroms against our citizens. And of course, we must finish the ‘magic fence’, as fast as possible.

Fuad is right, we must change our approach, fast. However, his conclusions are far off the mark. Following Fuad, Kol Yisrael spoke with Minister Benny Elon. He hit the nail on the head. Israel must destroy the palestinian authority. Fences and are useless, terrorists will always find ways around them. Expulsion of Arafat will almost undoubtedly not help and most probably cause Israel harm. The only way to deal with terror is to uproot it at its source, and that source is, today, the PA. This band of thugs and murderers has received world-wide recognition as the legitimate leadership of a future ‘palestinian state’ (G-d forbid). They have achieved this by spilling gallons of Jewish blood – over 1,100 Jews have been murdered since Oslo was signed, and some 880 in the past 3 years. The PA, along with its top leadership, must be erased from the map.

This is one side of the coin. Yet, there is another side too.

Several weeks ago long-time Hebron resident and activist Noam Federman was again apprehended. He was not walking down the street, he was not in the middle of trying to kill Arabs, he was not even at home. Rather, he was arrested while presenting an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court.

Federman was arrested over a year ago, based on the testimony of one person, tying him to the “Bat-Ayin” group, accused and convicted of attempting to blow up Arabs in East Jerusalem. There is no evidence that Federman had anything to do with those three men, excepting the account of one of them, (who also named tens of others, none of whom were arrested.) For over a year Federman has been detained, held in house arrest. (See below-“The Israeli Twilight Zone”-July 22, 2002). Since then Noam Federman has been fighting an uphill battle to be released.  (Recently the date of his trial was set for sometime NEXT JUNE!!!)

Federman, a brilliant legal expert with a law degree, came very close to convincing the court that the house arrest detention order, initiated by the Shabak, the Israeli intelligence organization, was illegal, circumventing the judicial system. So, rather than take any chances, the Shabak issued a six month administrative detention order, signed by Defense Minister Shaul Mufaz, arrested him in the middle of his court case, and threw him behind bars in the worst possible conditions. A Supreme Court justice reviewed the detention order and upheld it. However, the details of the ‘evidence’ given to him by the Shabak was “secret” thereby preventing Federman or his lawyer from being able to present any kind of defense.

Federman is being held in total isolation is a high-security prison, in a very small cell, and is not receiving certified kosher food. In other words, he is being treated as if he were a mass murderer. This, without having been indicted, stood trial, convicted and sentenced. (It should also be noted that the Shabak is answerable only to the Prime Minister.)

Not only right-wing Jews are appalled by the Federman case. Writing in an Israeli daily on September 30, left wing Meretz MK Zahava Galon stated: “Noam Federman should be put on trial or released. Circumventing the law rather than upholding it points to hysteria and bewilderment and does not achieve its purpose.”

It is totally incomprehensible how Israel can, on the one hand, sit and talk to murderers like Muhammad Dahlan, Abu-This and Abu-That, actually allowing them into Jerusalem, while on the other hand abusing innocent civilians (based on the theory that people are innocent until PROVEN guilty), denying them basic human rights and acceptable judicial recourse. 

It makes no difference whether one agrees or disagrees with Noam Federman’s politics. He deserves the identical civil rights of any other Israeli. And those civil rights are being grossly denied him, causing him and his family indescribable suffering. Noam Federman is not a murderous Arab terrorist  - he is an Israeli Jew!

Tonight begins the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. The essence of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is, in Hebrew, Tshuva, which literally means repentance. But the root of Tshuva is l’shuv – meaning, to return. On Yom Kippur we attempt to return to our real selves, ourselves without transgression, have asked for and having been granted forgiveness by the L-rd. This allows us to begin the New Year afresh, instilled with purity and a new outlook on life.

What better a way could the Israeli government express its sorrow at its own sins committed over the past year by: 1) waging comprehensive war on the Arabs who are killing innocent men, women and children, trying to wipe us out and expel us from our land – a war leading to the full and total destruction of the PA; and 2) by letting Noam Federman go home.


Monday, September 29, 2003

Person of the Year

September 29, 2003

The Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShana, is marked quite differently from January first. Whereas the latter is celebrated in Times Square, at gala parties, and the like, most of Rosh HaShana is spend in the synagogue. According to the Jewish calendar, a new ‘day’ begins at sunset, and so it is that we commenced our year on Friday night with evening prayers. Following the short service, each family returned to its home and began the first festive meal of 5764 (counting from the creation of the world), with the traditional ‘signs’ or symbols of the New Year, beginning with an apple and honey, while reciting the prayer ‘May it be G-d’s will that we should have a good and sweet year.’ The next morning, (and the following day too) many Jews spend between five to six hours at the synagogue, reciting numerous prayers, while looking back at the past year in retrospect and looking ahead to the new year with expectation.

I participated in early morning prayers at Ma’arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. It’s difficult to characterize one’s own prayer, but I found my worship to be troubled. Reflecting on the past year was very painful.  For many years, while living in Kiryat Arba before moving to Hebron, I prayed at the same synagogue with my friend Rabbi Eli Horowitz, sitting one row behind him. Year after year I would not only see his prayer, but in many cases actually sense it, especially during the High Holy days of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. I was only a few months ago that Rabbi Eli Horowitz and his dear wife Dina were cut down in their apartment, murdered while  eating their Sabbath meal on a Friday night. On Friday night and Saturday morning his image seemed to be constantly before my eyes.

One Saturday morning, during prayers, a friend of mine said something to me about the year starting off with a ‘bang.’ When I asked him what he was talking about he looked at me with surprise and asked, ‘what, you don’t know?” When I shrugged he added, ‘Negahot – a terrorist infiltrated last night, started shooting, and killed two people.”

Just as we were sitting down to eat on Friday night, so too, Eyal and Sarah Iberbaum, together with neighbors Shai and Shira Abraham, with some other guests, were dipping an apple in honey. The Iberbaums and Abrahams live in Negahot, about ten miles south-west of Hebron. A community of over thirty families, Negahot faced tremendous hurdles in the past few years as a result of the Oslo Accords because the main approach road to the community was transferred to Arafat and the PA. When the Oslo War began three years ago that road was cut off to Negahot’s families, who could then enter and leave their community only from the west. Hebron’s archivist, Shlomit Gadot could get to her office here in Hebron only after a two hour drive, as opposed to the twenty minutes it would take before the main road was closed.

Yet, despite the difficulties and terrorist activity in the area, the community continued to thrive. Not only didn’t people leave, rather, new families moved in. Negahot families began building permanent houses, allowing them to move out of temporary ‘caravan’ homes.

Eyal Iberbaum, 27 years old, had served in Negahot while still in the army, and after marrying a year ago, brought his bride to live in this beautifully scenic community. The Iberbaums, together with his neighbors, the Abrahams and some other guests, welcomed the New Year with hope and expectation for a happy, sweet, and good year.

It was just after nine o’clock when their dinner was interrupted by sharp knocking at the door. Eyal asked twice, ‘who’s there’ but received only a garbled, unclear answer. When he slowly opened the door, weapon in hand, a twenty-one year old terrorist from a nearby Arab village opened fire with an automatic rifle, killing Iberbaum. A guest in the house quickly shot at the terrorist, preventing him from entering the home. The terrorist, standing outside, started blasting his rifle at the ‘caravan’ home, whose walls are constructed of plasterboard. As a result of this shooting, seven month old Shaked Abraham, infant daughter of Shai and Shira, was hit in the chest. Her father, an ambulance driver, together with his wife attempted to resuscitate their daughter, to no avail. She died in their arms. Two other guests were slightly wounded.

Soldiers serving in Negahot quickly arrived at the site and within two minutes killed the Arab attacker. It was later learned that the murderer, Mahmoud Hamdan, was recently released from an Israeli prison after serving thirteen months because he planned to  blow himself up in a suicide attack against Israelis. An Arab gets a year in jail for attempted murder, is released, and then fulfills his wish by killing a baby and a 27 year old man on the eve of the New Year.

At the end of  every year, it is customary in certain circles to crown a ‘person of the year.’ I spent some time thinking about who is my ‘person of the year.’ In the end, I decided that my choice is not one particular person  - rather it is a collective – Am Yisrael, living in Eretz Yisrael – the people of Israel, living in the Land of Israel – they are my ‘person of the year.’ Sure, people like Rabbi Eli and Dina Horowitz, Shaked Abraham and Eyal Iberbaum. Not only them though – but also Eli and Dina’s children, Shaked’s parents, and so many others, who have been afflicted by Arab terror which has left hundreds and thousands of dead and wounded. These are the people who are continuing to live – who are not giving up, are not leaving their homes, and have not despaired of their dream. These are the people of the year – and they are not just in Yesha, - Judea, Samaria and Gaza. They are from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and Hadera and Haifa, Eilat and Shlomi – continuing to live – to dip an apple in honey, wishing each other a happy, sweet and good New Year, despite the difficulties, despite the pain. This is the real Am Yisrael which has returned home – to our eternal home, our only home, Eretz Yisrael.

With blessings from Hebron, with blessings for a happy and better New Year, from all of Hebron’s men, women and children.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Help Him Hear Shofar in Israel

Help Him Hear Shofar in Israel
September 18, 2003

[T]here is one shavui, a captive, who is not in the hands of the Syrians, the Hizballah, or any other Arab country, for that matter. He has been held by Israel’s ‘best friend.’ And he has been rotting in an American federal penitentiary for over eighteen-and-a-half years.
From David Wilder

Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, better known as the Rambam, is considered to be one of the greatest Jewish scholars who ever lived. His codification of Jewish law, called the Mishna Torah, written almost a thousand years ago, is a primary pillar upon which Torah-observant Jews live their lives today. 

What does the Rambam consider to be the most important of all
 mitzvot, the precepts by which we live’ Is it recital of Shema Yisrael twice a day, when we accept upon ourselves the rule of G-d’ Is it the weekly observance of Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath’ Or perhaps the dietary laws of Kashrut, or laws pertaining to family purity’ 

The Rambam writes, ‘There is no greater
 mitzvah than the redemption of a captive,’ or as it is known in Hebrew,pidyon shvuyim. His ruling is based on the Talmud, where it is written, ‘And Rabbi Yochanan said, ‘The sword is worse than death, hunger is worse than the sword, and captivity is the worst, because it includes them all.’’ Rabbi Yosef Karo, author of the Shulchan Aruch, a later compilation of law based upon the Rambam’s earlier work, adds, ‘Every moment that a captive is not redeemed, when redemption is possible, is as if one is spilling blood.’

Israel has always maintained a cardinal rule of redeeming captives, prisoners of war. Every Israeli who dons a uniform knows that should be fall into enemy hands, the state of Israel will do anything and everything possible to bring about his release and return home.

In the past, Israel released over one thousand Arab terrorists for the return of four soldiers. More than likely other deals, not always made public, have been implemented to bring Israeli captives home. For over twenty years, the government has attempted to find and bring about the release of soldiers missing in action from the War in Lebanon. Unfortunately, without success. Dealing with Syria and Hizballah is very close to impossible. Yet, Israel has not given up and surely, one day, their fate will be determined and they will be brought back home.

However, there is one
 shavui, a captive, who is not in the hands of the Syrians, the Hizballah, or any other Arab country, for that matter. He has been held by Israel’s ‘best friend.’ And he has been rotting in an American federal penitentiary for over eighteen-and-a-half years. 

Jonathan Pollard is no different from any other Israeli MIA or POW. He provided Israel with intelligence information vital to the survival of the state, information the United States neglected to turn over to Israel. The information withheld from Israel included Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan and Iranian nuclear, chemical and biological warfare capabilities - being developed for use against Israel. It also included information on ballistic missile development by these countries and information on planned terrorist attacks against Israeli civilian targets. Israel was legally entitled to this vital security information according to a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries.

Jonathan Pollard never had a trial. At the request of both the U.S. and Israeli governments, he entered into a plea agreement, which spared both governments a long, difficult, expensive and potentially embarrassing trial. He fulfilled his end of the plea agreement, cooperating fully with the prosecution. Furthermore, Pollard was never indicted for harming the United States. He was never indicted for compromising codes, agents or war plans. He was never charged with treason. He was indicted on only one charge: one count of passing classified information to an ally, without intent to harm the United States. Yet, Pollard received a life sentence and a recommendation that he never be paroled - in complete violation of the plea agreement he had reached with the government.

A Court of Appeals, in a two to one ruling, rejected Pollard’s appeal, mostly on procedural grounds. In a dissenting opinion, Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Williams called the case "a fundamental miscarriage of justice," and wrote that he would have ordered that Pollard's sentence be vacated.

In October, 1998, the US President Bill Clinton promised to release Pollard as part of the Wye Accords, signed by Yasser Arafat and Binyamin Netanyahu. At the last minute, Clinton reneged, due to threats by CIA chief George Tenet to resign should Pollard be released. This is the same George Tenet who missed all signals leading to 9/11, and who recently fed President George W. Bush false information about Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium, which Bush mentioned in his now-famous State of the Union address.

Ehud Barak could have requested Pollard’s release by executive clemency on Clinton’s last day of office. But he didn’t.

It is now clear that many of the episodes Jonathan Pollard was thought to have a hand in, bringing about the deaths of American agents in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, had nothing to do with him. Rather, that was the work of American spies, former CIA employee Aldrich Ames and former FBI agent Robert Hanssen.

Yet, Pollard is still in jail.

Sunday, September 21, has been declared ‘International Solidarity Day for Jonathan Pollard’, when people around the world will demonstrate solidarity and support for the release of Jonathan Pollard.

Activities worldwide will consist of prayer vigils, studying the
 mitzvah of redeeming captives, learning about Jonathan Pollard, petition-signing for the release of Jonathan from prison, a letter-writing campaign to President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon, demonstrations, marches, etc.

A major event is being planned at Independence Park, opposite the American Consulate in Jerusalem, consisting of speeches by rabbis, members of the Knesset and other well-known public figures and famous singers. Jonathan Pollard will also be presented with the Am Yisrael Medal of Honor in recognition for his tremendous self-sacrifice, which led to his saving, literally, hundreds of thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish lives during the Persian Gulf War. The day will culminate in a silent candle-light vigil/march to the Knesset.

I call on Jews and non-Jews worldwide to take an active role in organizing and participating in this most vital event. Remember, every day Jonathan Pollard sits in prison, it is as if we are allowing the spilling of his blood. Let’s assure that this coming
 Rosh Hashana, Jonathon Pollard will hear the Shofar, together with his wife Esther, in Jerusalem.