Monday, November 29, 2004

Expect the Unexpected

November 29, 2004

In Israel, today is known as "kaf-tet b'November. 'Kaf-tet', two letters of the Hebrew alphabet represent, in Hebrew, the number 29. In other words, the 29th of November. That's today's date, so what's so special about it? As far as I know, there aren't any other days in the Gregorian calendar, known by their Hebrew equivalent. Gregorian dates are known numerically – the first of December, or April 15th. Dates on the Hebrew calendar are recognized Hebraically, 'kaf-tet Kislev – i.e., the 29th of the Hebrew month of Kislev. However, today's date is a mixture of the two – 'kaf-tev' of November.
Why? Exactly fifty-seven years ago today, one of the most unusual events in world history occurred. The United Nations voted to partition Eretz Yisrael, thereby granting the Jewish people an opportunity to declare a Jewish state, the first sovereign Jewish state in two thousand years. This, coming only two and a half years after the conclusion of the Holocaust. Today is almost a mini-independence day – recognition by the international community of a Jewish right to its homeland.
This wasn't the first time such acknowledgement was forthcoming. Almost exactly thirty years earlier, on November 2, 1917, Arthur James Balfour, then the British Foreign Secretary, issued the famous 'Balfour Declaration, a letter to Lord Rothschild, which said, "I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty's
Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:

His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."
The major difference of course, between the 1947 partition plan and the 1917 Balfour Declaration is that the later was strictly British; the former construed international recognition.
The 1947 UN decision precipitated the declaration of Israeli statehood, in May, 1948.
Looking back at these historic decisions, different questions can be posed. For example, how would the UN vote today? Would they readily accept creation of a Jewish State? Should the Jews then have accepted partition of the Land of Israel? What would have happened had the Arabs accepted the partition plan? While Jewish leaders in Israel reluctantly accepted the arrangement, the Arabs rejected it out of hand and their reaction was an immediate declaration of war.
However, in my opinion, perhaps the most significant question to be broached is: Was it worth it? Did we do the right thing? In other words, should a Jewish state have been created and recognized?
Why do I ask this question? There are those in Israel today, both on the right and on the left, secular and religious, who doubt the wisdom of the leaders of yesteryear. Looking at the state of Israel from different angles, there are those who arrive at the same conclusion: the State of Israel was a mistake. It should be dismantled, allowing others to start again. Those on the left view supposed Israeli 'apartheid,' or treatment of Arabs as an excuse to do away with the state. So I was told by Israeli 'historian' Teddy Katz, back in September. “If I had a choice between this (i.e. – removing Arabs from their homes and villages), or giving up, I would give up”, i.e. relent on the idea . of a Jewish state.” 2) Israel is the second largest ethnic-cleansing country in the history of the world, second only to Nazi Germany. (See: A Glorious Past, Present and Future - TTTT (According to media reports, Katz attended Arafat's funeral in Ramallah.)
Those on the far left aren't the only ones who have despaired. There are people on my side of the coin have also given up on the current State of Israel. Some advocate creation of a new state, calling it 'The State of Judea,' while others believe that the original state of Israel is totally 'impure,' due to the fact that the primary movers in the 1940s were secular, thereby bringing about creation of a secular state.
In truth, it's not difficult to comprehend the lost hope. Israel's current situation is far from rosy. The latest escapades of our Prime Minister, who has single-handedly annihilated the Israeli right, betraying his own philosophies and moving over to 'the other side' is deplorable. Perhaps Israel's greatest error is the continued revival of ninty-nine percent dead terror organizations.
By the time Yitzhak Rabin was elected Prime Minister in 1992, the PLO was a virtually impotent organization. Israel defeated the 'first' intifada, and Arafat was both broke and broken. Rabin, Peres, and Co. brought him back to life with the infamous and cursed Oslo Accords.
Again, we have seen history repeat itself. The second Arafat war was also lost. Following massive Arab terror, leaving over 1,500 Jews dead and thousands wounded, Israel pinpointed the multiple heads of the snake and one by one, destroyed them. For all intensive purposes, the Palestinian authority ceased to exist. Arafat was internationally recognized as a murderous thug, and his organization corrupt, unstable and totally irresponsible. The state of Israel could basically follow any path it so desired.
Ariel Sharon, rather than officially declaring Oslo a failure and decrying the creation of a poisonous palestinian state, accepted and followed the path of the 'roadmap,' much the surprise of its initiator, George W. Bush. Sharon's willingness to accept a Palestinian state, followed by the expulsion plan from Gaza is nothing less than true 'revival of the dead.' So it's not surprising that despair has reached new heights, despair leading to gloom and anguish. And a willingness to watch the state crumble to pieces.
I fully agree – the situation is not good. We are facing different types of terror, from without and from within. But our state of affairs is certainly not as serious as it was in November, 1947. How many hundreds of millions of Arabs, surrounding the not-yet created fledgling state announced their intentions to 'throw the Jews into the sea?" There weren't even a million Jews in Israel at the time. Much of the international community didn't care whether Israeli 'lived' or 'died.' And those that did care, well, most of them weren't on our side. The chances of survival weren't very good. But here we are today – still here.
The November 29th UN decision was nothing less than miraculous – so too was the Israeli military victory during the War of Independence. Today too, we are fighting a war – this time on many fronts, some of which definitely shouldn't exist. But we cannot live in a dream world of 'what should be.' This is the way it is, for whatever reason, and we have no choice but to deal with it. I won't try to relate to the despair of the far left – but I can give a word of advice to those closer to me. Should you manage to take apart the current state of Israel and start again, what will you do with all the Jews who don't agree with you – send them back to Europe, or put them in camps, or send them out to the sea? Of course not! So you will still be here, and they will still be here, and then what? If they don't like what you do, they will have learned from your precedent – they will have a good reason to attempt to destroy whatever you manage to create, just like you did.
In other words, the problems within will still exist, as will the problems from outside – you will not have solved anything.
So, what can we do? I can't speak for everyone – but I know what I have been taught and what I believe. Our job is to try as hard as we can for that which is right and just, without attempting to destroy the framework which already exists. We cannot be held responsible for failure, because much of the results are not dependant on our actions – there are many other factors involved. We can only be held responsible for trying – as hard as we can. The final result isn't in our hands.
Those listening to the vote in the UN, on November 29th, 57 years ago, could barely have expected victory – who would have thought that Russia would vote in favor of the partition plan. They could easily have delayed the vote, or cancelled it altogether. The chances of victory were virtually nil. Yet the unexpected became reality and again, after 2,000 years, the Jews held their fate in their own hands. That day – today, should be a lesson to us all – to expect the unexpected, never to despair – to keep the faith.
With blessings from Hebron.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Colin Cancer

Colin Cancer
November 22, 2004


I have to begin this week with a response I received to last week's column, as it appeared on the web site.

"Dear Mr. Wilder
Thanks so much for your great article "once a terrorist always a terrorist".
It is really great and is just very true.  I am an Arab, Egyptian, with a Muslim background.

At some stage of my life (23 years ago) I was in the Islamic Groups of Egypt with Dr. Al-zawaherii (who became the second in command of AlQueda later on)...I rejected their evil teaching and started a peaceful version of Islam.

I was a speaker in many mosques against Islamic Fundamentalism (this was 21 years ago!) and sadly my life was threatened by the fundamentalists so I emigrated to a western country.

All what you said is true about these barbarians.

I have a book called "The Real Roots of Islamic Violence" that explains clearly why these people are violent.  I also have a web site called:
Unlike the book, this web site tried to present a peaceful view for Islam to help get them out of their darkness but ,as expected, Muslims do not like peaceful views!
With much love and respect
Dr. Hamid"

I did a little research to validate Dr. Hamid's identity, and he truly is a serious personality. The above-mentioned website is very interesting and highly recommended. I've printed out a number of Dr. Hamid's articles, which, at first glance, look like important reading material.  

In the introduction to the above-mentioned book, Dr. Hamid writes, " Throughout history many countries have experienced terror attacks. In most of these attacks, the reason was a political conflict aimed at gaining land or independence.  Unfortunately the type of terrorism that threatens the world nowadays (Islamic terrorism) is a different form of terrorism that stems from a very aggressive and non-tolerant ideology… The forgiving nature of the current civilized Western world made it try to find a cause within itself that made Muslims hate it to this degree.  Unfortunately, the sad reality of Islam is that such hatred of non-Muslims is generated by the Islamic religion itself against those who do not follow it, irrespective of their deeds.

The trick of Islamists is that they use any reason at all to justify their evil actions against the West (e.g., the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the attack of the USA on Iraq, the improper dealing with the Iraqi prisoners) so that the Westerners think that the cause of terrorism is this reason and thus get blinded about the real cause of terrorism which is deeply imbedded in the Islamic religion itself.

I have concluded from my personal experience with Islam that the violent behavior of Islamists against the West is aimed at ending Westerners’ freedom and making them subdued to Islam. Quite simply, Muslims hate Westerners because they are not subdued to Islam, they drink alcohol, and they have freedom for women.  They invent other supposed causes for their hatred in order to gain support from innocent Westerners for their Islamic cause.

Unfortunately, the ONLY way to make Muslims satisfied with the West is for Westerners to submit to an Islamic or Taliban-like system, stop their freedom, and suppress women.

Any attempt to correlate violence among Muslims to other reasons than the religious teaching itself will end in catastrophe for human civilization as it will totally miss the real cause, and thus the decision makers will postulate totally wrong solutions."

Last week I also quoted Leif Wellerop, director of the Norwegian chapter of the International Christian Embassy, who, speaking about the rise of Islam in Europe, said that the third world war has started.

A few days ago I interviewed another Christian visitor to Hebron, a Baptist clergyman, Pastor Jim Vineland, from Oklahoma. He also talked about the influence of Islam in the United States.  He said to me, "It's World War Three."

Two different people, from different sides of the globe, saying the exact same words.  I wonder if Bush and Rice would say the same thing, in a private conversation? Chances aren't good. But I wonder what they really think? More importantly, if they do realize the inherent dangers in modern Islam, will they act accordingly, when that action is unavoidably, and inevitably, necessary?

On the heels of the reelected President's declarations about an impending 'palestinian state,' the almost former U.S. Secretary of State arrived in Israel for a 'friendly visit'. According to media reports he is going to request, at a minimum, that Israel remove all security forces  and security barriers from so-called 'palestinian citys,' in preparation for the upcoming three-ring circus, otherwise known as 'palestinian elections.' Such agreement on Israel's part can only endanger Israeli lives. There are rumors that Powell will also suggest that Israel release convicted murdered Marwan Barghouti, who might not only be a candidate to replace the deceased, great Arab murderer; he might actually win.  The Abu'sy twins, Mazen and Ala, are demanding that the leader of the Islamic Jihad, responsible for assassinating Rehavam Ze'evi -Gandhi, incarcerated in Jericho, also be released.

It really is not clear why Powell is visiting the Middle East. If only to say goodbye, then good riddance. His successor has already been chosen. Powell's record in this part of the world is dismal. He certainly is no friend of Israel, and any requests, demands, or the like should be dismissed out of hand. Hopefully Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will not take the traditional pro-Arab, anti-Israel State Department positions, so personified by her predecessor. At this point, he shouldn't be here and definitely shouldn't have anything to say about anything.

Unfortunately, Powell's four years of influence, representing decades-old overt State Department biases, are similar to malignant cancer, which tends to spread rapidly and is very difficult to get rid of.  Some of this illness may have rubbed off on his boss. Such disease must be eradicated quickly and radically, before it causes more damage, death and destruction.

Returning to our Christian friends, spoken of earlier. It is clear that the only reason Bush will again be inaugurated on January twentieth is due to the fundamentalist Christian vote. Without them, John K. would be president-elect. The reelected Bush because they know that he is 'one of them.' He represents them and their ideologies. And they are very very pro-Israel, true Israel lovers. And they comprehend the international dangers of fundamental Islam.

George W. is in their debt. And as any good politician knows, debts have to be paid off. The overhauled Bush-Cheney-Rice administration has an historic opportunity to rid the State Department of assorted strains of Colin Cancer. Should they practice what they really and truly believe, we will witness major changes in both State Department policy and United States diplomacy, undoubtedly having a major positive impact on the Israeli scene. The time has come.

With blessings from Hebron.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Once an Arab, Always an Arab

November 15, 2004

Now I can breathe a sigh of relief.
A couple of days ago I met with journalists who came to interview one of the 'fanatic extremists' whose views and opinions are on the very fringe of Israeli society. Of course, many of their questions focused on 'what's next,' following the demise of 'terrorist number one.'
"He's dead, so what will be now?"
My first response was that I am truly sorry – I'm sorry that he didn't die at least thirty five years ago – so many lives would have been saved. I added, 'not only Jewish lives, but Arab lives too' but I'm sure my interviewers didn't take me seriously.
As to 'what's next,' I answered without hesitation. "There is going to be a blood bath. The Arabs don't know any other way. They live lives of violence, that's the way they make decisions, and that's not about to change now. They will inevitably start killing each other as part of a war of inheritance. There's much to gain: power, prestige, and money – lots and lots of money. Maybe a free trip to Washington, a picture with George W., with luck a ceremony on the White House lawn, and if history should replay itself, a Nobel Peace Prize and a big slot in the history books. So, what's a few dead people on the road to such goodies? "
The interviewers looked skeptical. So I continued. "Look, they have absolutely no respect for human life. Look how many of their own they've sacrificed over the years. A couple of weeks ago a 16-year old genocide bomber blew himself up, killing some more Israeli Jews. Fifteen year olds have been apprehended on their way to perpetrate such horrible crimes. Any leadership that sees 15 and 16 year olds as expendables, clearly don't care about life. As far as they are concerned, life is a means to an end, and if it helps them meet their goals, is worthless."
"But," they continued to ask, "maybe something has changed – new leadership, free elections, etc.?"
"Do me a favor," I responded. "There are twenty two Arab states in the Middle East. Find me one democracy. Show me one Arab state which has 'free elections.' Of course, some states, like Egypt, do conduct elections every so often, but there is only one candidate. In other countries, if you vote for the wrong person or party, you simply disappear. And many others, don't even attempt to play the game. The leadership is sold, inherited, or taken by force. That's simply the way it is."
"Now, please explain to me why the so-called 'palestinians' should be any different. These people live by the sword and the gun. This is the way they've lived for centuries. How can anyone expect them to suddenly put down their weapons and start living like Americans in the United States. Their culture does not understand the meaning of 'free democratic elections.'"
"Remember," I told them, "the Islamic fundamentalist culture that they espouse is diametrically opposed to the western culture you are trying to force down their throats. Not only don't they believe in it, they vehemently reject it. The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the terror in Spain, there is no end to it. Years ago, in July of 1997, I wrote an article called "Uncle Muhammad" [], warning of impending fundamental Islamic terror against the United States and the entire Western world."
"A few months ago I interviewed the director of the Norwegian chapter of the International Christian Embassy, Leif Wellerop, while he was visiting Hebron, and asked him his thoughts about the huge influx of Islam into Europe. His response was instant and still resounds in my ears. 'World War Three has already started,!' he exclaimed. The Muslims are attacking western, Christian values, traditions and culture, and their way is, of course, the way of the sword."
Imagination. I don't think so. Our Islamic friends have long memories that are saturated with revenge. The Spanish al-Qaeda attacks are a perfect example. The Middle East Info web site reports the following:
In the debris, police found a damaged videotape they said was likely recorded on March 27. Investigators salvaged images from the tape that they said showed militants, their faces covered and brandishing an assault weapon, warning of more attacks unless Spain pulled its troops out of "the land of the Muslims," an apparent reference to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Evoking the history of Christian wars that drove Muslims from Europe, the speaker on the video said, "We all know about the Spanish crusades against the Muslims, the expulsions from Al Andalus and the tribunals of the inquisition," according to a transcript of the recording released by authorities.

The statement echoed aspirations of other Islamic militants, including al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden, who in a taped message evoked "Al Andalus," the ancient name for the area. In 1492, the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella ended eight centuries of Muslim rule after a long siege of the city of Granada. []
And in Time magazine:
"For Spanish investigators, it was a chilling message from beyond. As they searched a bombed-out apartment building in the Madrid suburb of Leganés last week — trying to determine from the body parts exactly how many members of the March 11 train-bombing cell had made their last stand there — the investigators found a videotape in the rubble. On it, an intense man, flanked by two others brandishing Sterling submachine guns, warned of massacres to come. "The Brigades of al-Mufti and Ansar al-Qaeda" — or supporters of al-Qaeda — were in Spain, said Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, 35, to demand that "its troops pull out immediately from the land of the Muslims." Linking Iraq and Afghanistan to the 15th century expulsion of Muslims from Spain and the Inquisition, he demanded "blood for blood!" and "destruction for destruction!" [,13005,901040419-610023,00.html]
In other words, Islamic warriors are presently avenging the deaths of their comrades, almost 600 years ago.
These are the people that the State of Israel are expected to 'make peace' with. These are our 'partners.' The departure of the 20th century's second-ranking terrorist is, according to western leaders, media, and everyone else, an historic changing of the guard, the opening of a 'new chapter,' a 'fresh chance' for peace.
Right, tell me all about it.
So, why do I now sigh a breath of relief?
Yesterday I heard that the 'great Palestinian hope,' Abu Mazen, had been chosen by the Fatah terror organization in Ramallah, to replace Hitler's successor. He was then, according to news accounts, to visit the 'mourner's tent' in Gaza. "Aha," I said to myself, "if he is now an official candidate, undoubtedly someone will try to kill him." And you know what – so it was. As soon as Abu Mazen arrived at the appointed place, gunmen invaded the 'tent' and started shooting. Abu Mazen wasn't hurt, and today is trying to downplay the attack, claiming that it was not an assassination attempt.
He is, of course, playing on Arab intelligence to believe him. Forget the fact that two of his bodyguards were killed. Of course it wasn't an attempt to kill him. They just 'lost control of themselves, and Abu Mazen, by chance, happened to be in the way.
That's the way they live, and that's the way they're going to continue to live – whether we like it or not. Forget about western democracy, forget about free elections. The name of the game is violence, money and corruption. And, of course, the primary element: the desire to wipe the State of Israel, and all it's Jewish inhabitants, off the map. As a first course. This was exactly what I told the journalists, just a few days ago, and it already came true. Not because I'm a prophet, rather because when you know who you're dealing with, it's just common sense.
You remember the story about the guy who said he could train a cat to be just like a human waiter. He found a tame cat, and for an entire year worked very hard, teaching the cat how to walk on two legs, how to carry a tray, how to bow, how to act with proper manners in front of important people.
Finally the day came. The cat entered the hall, wearing a tux and bow tie, spruced-up, looking great. In his 'hands' the cat held a tray filled with exotic delicacies. He started serving table by table, and all the participants laughed with delight. Tray after tray, until finally, he appeared with glasses filled to the brim with an exquisite brew.
As the cat approached the main table, a little boy ran into the room, pulled a mouse from his pocket, and threw it in front of the cat. The tray suddenly crashed on the floor, the drink drenching the important guests. The cat tore off, chasing the mouse, forgetting his manners, forgetting his tuxedo, forgetting his 'human' attributes.
Once a cat, always a cat. Learn how to deal with them, as they are, like it or not.
Once an Arab, always an Arab. Learn what they are, learn how to deal with them, as they are – like it or not.
Because the alternative isn't a tray full of drink crashing to the floor. The alternative is a replay of September 11th, again and again and again. G-d forbid.
With blessings from Hebron.

Monday, November 8, 2004

Brain-dead or Alive?

November 8, 2004

No. This article is not about him. I don't want to even mention his name. Maybe I'll explain why a little later. No, this article isn't about Arabs. It's about Jews.
Last week Aaron Lerner, director of IMRA [] posted a very interesting feature, which I had missed. I guess I wasn't the only one, because had others paid some attention, the item surely would have been headline news, and not just for one day. The feature by Hannah Kim was printed in HaAretz on Tuesday, Nov. 2, and was titled, "AG Mazuz's new dilemma- to indict or not to indict." [] I quote:
"Israel Police are convinced they have enough evidence in the straw companies
case to indict not only MK Omri Sharon and attorney Dov Weisglass but Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon, too
The report on the investigation of MK Omri Sharon was met with relative
silence, perhaps because it took place two days before the Knesset voted on
the disengagement plan. It isn't every day that a member of Knesset is
interrogated by the police - and an MK who is the son of the prime
minister - for 13 hours straight, after already having been interrogated
several times by the National Fraud Squad, on three separate cases - the
Greek island, Cyril Kern and the straw companies affairs.
On the other hand, it isn't every day that the Knesset approves a plan for
withdrawal from some of the territories. These two matters - execution of
the disengagement plan and the attorney general's imminent decision on the
straw companies case - trouble the prime minister. The prospect of an
indictment against his son, who also happens to be his operations officer in
the Knesset and in the Likud Central Committee, must be painful.
A draft indictment against Sharon, Sr. in the Greek island case was, the
reader will recall, thrown out by the attorney general; investigation of the
Cyril Kern affair continues apace; and now comes the turn of the oldest case
of the three - the straw companies. The Israel Police are convinced that
they have enough evidence in the file for an indictment, not only against MK
Omri Sharon and attorney Dov Weisglass but also against Sharon, Sr. The
anticipated charge is a violation of the Parties Law (1992). But how will
Mazuz rule on the case?"
Hannah Kim then continues to outline the case against the two Sharons and Weisglass.
Do you remember the newspaper headlines following revelations that Bibi Netanyahu and his wife Sarah had allegedly 'stolen'
Israeli State property, i.e., gifts received when he was Prime Minister? For days on end we were bombarded with the fact that police had recommended that the Netanyahus be tried for 'illegal activities.' In fact, the media had him tried, convicted and already sitting behind bars. This, in an effort to prevent any kind of Bibi comeback. "Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein said that "difficulties with the evidence" made it unlikely that a conviction could be obtained against the couple. Police suspected they had conspired with a government contractor in a kickback scheme, illegally keeping gifts, and obstructing justice. "I have decided to close the file against Mr. Netanyahu concerning the suspicions attributed to him because of evidence insufficient for a criminal trial," said Rubinstein. []

But today the situation is different. Today we are not talking about a Bibi against Barak election, as was the case then. Today we are talking about Ariel Sharon vs. the Israeli right. Pro Eretz Yisrael against anti-Eretz Yisrael. And of course we know which side the media is on. So why should they play up a possible indictment against the story's protagonist, the true hero? Such headlines could throw a wrench into the fairytale, and ruin the wondrous conclusion.
And what about Mazuz? He is clearly in a bind. In short, according to, "from 1991 until 1995 Mazuz coordinated the legal aspects of Israel's negotiations with Jordan and the Palestinians." So what would you expect from him? He has to decide: justice or chopping up Eretz Yisrael. Take a guess as to what his decision will be. You needn't even guess. The chances are pretty good that you'll never hear about this possible indictment against Sharon again. It will simply be forgotten, fade away, as if the facts never existed.
The past week the phrase 'brain-dead' has hit Israeli headlines. Of course, they are referring to 'him,' a long-dead AIDS-ridden pedophile rotting in a Parisian hospital. I mentioned earlier, I really don't want to talk about him. He doesn't deserve it. We don't deserve it. The words, expressions, the entire atmosphere pervading him, are nauseating. Such respect, such honor, such admiration: for some reason Israelis have such short memories – they forget how many children, how many women, how many men he ordered murdered. They forget that he transformed terror into a noble business, to be accepted as a legitimate means to reach a goal, which in his case, was the destruction of the State of Israel. He is the founding father of Hamas, Hizbullah, the Islamic Jihad, and many other terror organizations throughout the world.
Israeli media audacity knows no limits. Broadcasters are criticizing none other than the grieving widow, Suha. Why? Because she, quite naturally, wants to inherit her husband's money. What widow wouldn't desire her late husband's savings? It makes no matter that he stole and collected almost a billion dollars, hidden in secret accounts in banks around the world. But why should this bother Israeli media journalists? In actuality, what disturbs them is that she is involved in a power struggle, between the 'good guys' who want 'peace' – the Abus – Alah and Mazen – and the 'bad guys,' led by Faruk Kadumi , who was 'anti-Oslo.' No doubt, she is as despicable as him, but why should Israeli media interfere, and refer to her so negatively?
Understand, brain-dead does not refer to 'him.' It refers to us. Only brain-dead people could show such sorrow over the demise of a bloodthirsty fiend. Only a brain-dead media could laughingly and jokingly interview a corrupt terrorist like Jibril Rajoub on State radio, as happened this morning on Kol Yisrael. Only brain-dead people could attempt to chop up their land and abandon it to their enemies.
But, in all honesty, not everyone is brain-dead. In fact, I think there are multitudes of Israelis who are not only not brain-dead; rather they are alive and kicking, as hale and hearty as could be. This past Shabbat we witnessed an example of such lucidity.
Somewhere between twenty to thirty thousand Jews poured into Hebron for the traditional Chaye Sarah Shabbat, when we read in the weekly Torah portion how Abraham purchased Ma'arat HaMachpela, the caves of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, here in Hebron, almost four thousand years ago.
I cannot even begin to describe this past Shabbat in Hebron. On Friday night, for about two hours, there was an unending stream of people flowing into the courtyard in front of Ma'arat HaMachpela. The building itself was packed; I couldn't get inside. The courtyard was wall-to-wall people, all praying, all singing, all dancing, partaking in the beautiful Shabbat services, thanking G-d for the privilege to be Jews in Israel, in Hebron.

People from all over the world came to Israel just for this Shabbat. Well over 100 Jews flew in especially from New York, as part of a special Hebron Fund – sponsored weekend. The Zionist Organization of America – the ZOA, and the Americans for a Safe Israel, AFSI, spent the day with us. I had the honor to tour with them Saturday afternoon. No matter that trying to walk the streets was like attempting to move around in a toy store full of kids – the city was full. Saturday morning prayers, - well, there simply aren't any words. The largest room in the Ma'ara – Ohel Yitzhak – the Isaac Hall, open to us only 11 days a year, was one huge wave of worshipers – men and women, swaying through the traditional Sabbath prayers. The climax came when the Torah was taken from the Holy Ark and opened. The words, chanted year after year, for thousands of years, 'and Sarah lived for one hundred years, and for twenty years and for seven years.' Abraham's negotiations with Efron the Hittite – handing over 400 silver shekels, purchasing the field of Machpela and the caves therein. What can I say? Hearing these words at this site, words written over three millennium ago, alive today, here in Hebron, in the presence of tens of thousands of people, who belong to the same family, all with the same father and mother. Can you imagine that someone might remember you, in, let's say, 250 years – five hundred years, a thousand years, three thousand years, four thousand years?
That's the way it is with Abraham and Sarah – in reality, they are still alive, they are still with us, they are still an integral part of our essence, of our existence. This week's Shabbat is hard proof of that.
So, we look at two different kinds of people – some who are, in my book, brain-dead. And then there are others, who are brain-thriving, who don't breath death – rather they breath life. Two populations – they may look identical. But there is a big big difference between them. The brain-dead, who have no past, today have no lives, and they certainly have no future. The others, who are brain-thriving, are fully alive – experiencing the past, living the present and preparing the future. I have no doubt whatsoever, that the tens of thousands who spent Shabbat in Hebron, and the hundreds of thousands of others who were with us in spirit, if not in body, they are future of our people, they are the future of our culture, they are the future of our land. They will continue to live and thrive, despite the obstacles and hardships. They are brain-alive. This, and only this, is Am Yisrael Chai!
With blessings from Hebron.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Hebron and Ma'arat HaMachpela– The Roots of the Jewish People

Parshat Chaye Sarah, 5765 (2004)
November 4, 2004
The Torah teaches us that Avraham, sitting outside his tent following his brit milah, seeing three men approaching, ran to fix them a meal. When he entered the sheep pen to prepare fresh meat, a calf ran away. As Avraham chased the calf, the animal suddenly disappeared. Continuing to search, Avraham saw a cave in the distance and approached, thinking that perhaps the calf had run inside. Arriving at the cave and peering in, Avraham saw a bright light glowing, from deep within. Entering to investigate, walking deeper and deeper into the cave, Avraham discovered the tombs of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman. He also smelled fragrances from the Garden of Eden.
How did Adam and Eve arrive at this site? It is written that following their exile from the Garden of Eden they wished to return, but they had no idea where it was. They searched and searched until they reached a point where they could smell the exquisite fragrances of that unique place. There, the first man began digging and dug a cave within a cave, until a voice from the heavens forbade him to dig further. There he buried his wife Eve, and later he too was interred there (Zohar).
Realizing the sanctity of the site, Avraham left the cave, desiring to purchase it. According to the Midrash (Pirkei d’Rebbi Eliezer) he approached the Jebusites and requested to purchase from them the cave. (The Midrash specifies that the Jebusites and the Hittities were both from the same tribe, Paleshet.) They answered Avraham, “We know that your future offspring will try to conquer our home city (Jerusalem). If you agree to prevent them from conquering Jerusalem, we will sell you the cave.”
Avraham agreed and signed a contract which was hung on statues outside the gates of Jerusalem. There are commentators who hold that Joshua did not conquer Jerusalem when he entered Israel, due to Avraham’s agreement. Centuries later, King David purchased Temple Mount from the Jebusites only after he destroyed these statues.
Did Avraham really agree to relinquish Jerusalem for Hebron? No. Avraham realized that in order to attain the sanctity of Jerusalem, it was necessary to begin at the foundations of civilization, at the point which joins this world to another world, to the Garden of Eden. Starting here, at the cave, the foundations of the world, they could then progress slowly, until finally reaching the holiness of Jerusalem. This is similar the “Jacob’s ladder,” of which it is written that the top of the ladder reached the heavens but the legs of the ladder were firmly entrenched on the ground.
Where is a connection between Jerusalem and Hebron, site of these caves, discovered by Avraham, called Ma’arat HaMachpela? The Talmud says, in the tractate Yoma, that every day, before beginning work in the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, the priests would look out and ask, has the sun yet risen in the east, even as far as Hebron? If the answer was positive, work would commence. If not, if it was still dark in Hebron, the priests in Jerusalem would have to wait.
Very likely the merit by which Avraham earned discovery of Ma’arat HaMachpela is due to his desire and willingness to fulfill the positive precept of ‘’hachnasat orchim,” hosting guests,, despite the very hot weather and the pain he experienced three days after his Brit Milah. This reflects Avraham’s primary trait, that of ‘chesed’ or total, unrelenting loving-kindness.
Where did Avraham learn the trait of chesed? It would seem, from HaShem, from G-d Himself. In our prayers, which we repeat three times daily, we say, “the great, strong, awesome G-d, the supreme G-d.” What would we expect to follow? Perhaps, the G-d who created heavens and earth, or who created man? No. We continue, “[G-d] who practices fine chesed and remembers the chesed of the Forefathers. This is what Avraham learned from HaShem. And this is the pillar of Ma’arat HaMachpela – chesed.
This is Avraham’s primary trait, that of chesed, as it is written, ‘He bestowed chesed to Avraham.’ Why especially to Avraham? It is written, “A world of chesed will be created.” In other words, creation of the world was dependant on total chesed, without any restrictions. Later, rules were established and the chesed was limited, borders were implemented. (So it is that Yitzhak’s trait is ‘gevurah,’ which represents the ability to live with restrictions, an enclosing, an implementation of constraints, and the opposite of chesed.)
Why was Avraham’s trait chesed? His existence in the world and his revelation of one G-d was as the re-creation of the world anew, the seeds of the birth of Am Yisrael, a time necessitating total chesed, as was during the time of Adam and Eve. And so it was that Avraham was merited to be the first person to discover their final resting place, the entrance to the Garden of Eden.
There are different levels of revelation and of recognizing HaShem. There is a superficial recognition but also a deeper appreciation.
In Israel there is Jerusalem and Hebron – Beit HaMikdash and Ma’arat HaMachpela. Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, is open to all, high upon a hill. Ma’arat HaMachpela is a cave, hidden from all eyes, inner. Beit HaMikdash extends outward. Ma’arat HaMachpela extends inward. One, to the heavens, and one to the depths of the earth. One bursts out and the other, directed towards our roots.
Of course, each site has levels within levels. Beit HaMikdash has a section called Kodesh, Holy and a more restricted area called Kodesh HaKodeshim, the Holy of Holies. Ma’arat HaMachpela has two caves, an outer cave and an inner cave.
Why then is the supreme holiness in Jerusalem and not in Hebron? This is the way of the world: “In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was filled with tohu v’vohu (confusion). The Torah continues with incidents ‘on earth,’ that which is revealed. The heavens remain ‘hidden’ and untouched.
With that it should be noted that the final goal, the full redemption, is return to the era of the Garden of Eden before man’s original sin.
All may view that which is revealed but revelation of the hidden is dependant on G-d, on His chesed, His willingness to allow entrance into ‘the arena of the hidden’ In other words, Avraham’s discovery of Ma’arat HaMachpela is an example of how chesed begets chesed (i.e., an example of ‘mida k’neged mida’ – an attribute begets an atttibute).
We know of four couples buried at Ma’arat HaMachpela: Adam and Eve, Avraham and Sarah, Yitzhak and Rivka, Ya’akov and Lea.
However, it is written that there are actually five couples buried at Ma’arat HaMachpela, three ‘revealed’ and two ‘hidden.’ The ‘revealed’ three are the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. The ‘hidden’ are Adam and Eve and Moshe (Moses) and Tzipporah (attributed to Sefer HaTemunah in the name of R’ Nechunia HaKana and R’ Yishmael Kohen Gadol).
What is Moshe’s connection to Ma’arat HaMachpela? The Torah writes that Moshe was very humble; he was most humble of all men. Humility is a trait reflecting selflessness and concealment. Moshe brought Torah to the people of Israel and received no reward. He was as a slave and suffered, despite his efforts on behalf of the Israelites. This reflects the trait of chesed. What person would be more suitable to unify with his roots than Moshe?
In the Torah it is written (in Hebrew) Ma’arat Sde HaMachpela (the cave in the field of Machpela.) The initials of these three words, (in Hebrew) Mem, Shin and Hay, combine to spell Moshe.
Jerusalem and Hebron blend and unify. Torah –the rules, the boundaries - the tablets of the Ten Commandments, are found in Jerusaelm. (The trait of Yitzhak; Akedat Yitzhak occured on Har HaMoria, site of Beit HaMikdash.) The chesed, the full loving-kindness without restriction, the trait of Avraham, is in Hebron. The lights of Hebron and the lights of Jerusalem merge to create a unity of spirituality which imbues the Jewish people (Ya’akov-Yisrael – the unity of Chesed and Gevurah), the revealed and the hidden, this is the secret of Ma’arat HaMachpela, a unity which cannot be, and never will be, ‘disengaged.’

Monday, November 1, 2004

Giving back India

November 1, 2004

Yesterday I attended a very interesting media conference at the College of Judea and Samaria in the Shomron community of Ariel. The conference was dedicated in memory of David Bar-Illan, a fine man who deserves more than a few words of tribute.
A concert pianist of international renown, Bar-Illan was also editor of the Jerusalem Post and later, director of communications during Bibi’s premiership. Working together with Michael Freund and Michael Stoltz, (both of whom initiated and organized this praise-worthy annual media conference) Bar-Illan issued fact-sheets and information statements, which in many cases contradicted Netanyahu’s own political positions.
Bar-Illan was very close to Hebron and helped in any way he could, especially in the black days, before and after implementation of the ‘Hebron Accords.’ At one point, Arab terrorists, then known as ‘palestinian police,’ stationed on the Abu Sneneh hills, were supposed to receive Ingram rifles, an ‘Uzi-type weapon,’ but faster and more dangerous than the Israeli model. It goes without saying that Netanyahu had given his blessing to the transaction.

Realizing the additional dangers Hebron’s Jewish community faced should the Arabs receive these weapons, we approached Bar-Illan in his office in Jerusalem, presented him with facts and figures, and voiced our great concern. He then spoke to his boss, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, and somehow, was able to get the deal nixed. Thanks to him, the Arabs perched above us, only a few hundred meters away, had a little less ammunition to use to try and kill us.
At the conference yesterday, one of the words frequently used to describe David Bar-Illan was integrity, a trait unfortunately lacking from many many Israeli journalists today. A few of the people speaking at the conference, themselves journalists, clearly expressed their own treacherous biases in front of hundreds of people listening.
For example, Daniel Ben Simon, a correspondent for HaAretz newspaper, spoke shortly after I arrived. His words were stunning, despite the fact that he really didn’t say anything new. However, hearing someone state something even if it is self-evident, can be shocking. I jotted down a few of his remarks, things like ‘The state of Israel is a ‘Tel-Aviv state. The rest is ‘another land.’ He commented that much of what happens in Yesha ‘doesn’t have anything to do with us.’ Perhaps most importantly, he described current events as ‘a struggle for our future image, a process which will shape Israeli society.’ And of course, he believes that the media does and should have an important role in this process.
Another reporter who spoke, Shlomi Eldar, works for Channel 10 news, covering Arab affairs. One episode of his is stuck in my mind. He told how one night he slept at ‘a friend’s house’ in Gaza. That night, watching ‘palestinian television’ he viewed, again and again, the incitement spewed by their propaganda machine. Then next morning he told his ‘friend,’ “After watching that all night, if I was a palestinian, today I would go out and perpetrate a suicide attack.’ He didn’t relate to the pictures screened on the television as incitement. Rather, they were factual evidence of the brutality of the Israeli occupation , after all, 'pictures don't lie.’ He voiced his opinion that much of P.A. television cannot be defined as incitement.
Such views, coming from Israelis, relating to enemies who want nothing less than to destroy the State of Israel and don’t care if they kill all of us in the process, well, it makes me sick.
Not everyone spoke such subversive nonsense. An example of integrity was presented by a journalist from the Ma’ariv newspaper, Ben-Dror Yemini. He first spoke of his relationship with David Bar-Illan, and stressed that despite deep political differences, he had a tremendous respect for the late Bar-Illan. That respect, it seems, was mutual.
Yemini’s subject, under the category of journalistic ethics, was ‘what reporters do not cover’ or, in other words, what they hide. One example he presented concerned the case of MK Zahava Galon, one of the leaders of the far-left Meretz party. Galon was investigated by police for criminal actions. Following the investigation, the police recommended that she be indicted and tried. Both the investigation and the police recommendations were ignored by the press, clearly due to the fact that Galon was ‘on their side,’ and was therefore, untouchable. Of course, other MKs and public figures, whose opinions are more to the right, are expendable and therefore not only targeted, but bombarded by media blasphemy if and when investigated by police.
Ben-Dror’s last comment is also worth noting. He mentioned a previous speaker, Mr. Shlomo Ben-Tzvi, who is, among other things, Chairman of the channel 10 board of directors. “When Ben-Tzvi received the position , he had to sign a statement promising not to interfere with any of the channel’s substantive policy. (Ben-Tzvi is religious and lives in Efrat.) Do you think, if Ben-Tzvi was secular, without a kippah on his head, and lived in Tel-Aviv, that he would have been made to sign such a statement?”
That having been said, I must mention Shlomo Ben-Tzvi, the conference’s keynote speaker, who was introduced by former Defense minister Moshe Arens. Ben-Tzvi, a dynamic young entrepreneur, speaks English with a British accent, and Hebrew like an Israeli with a Ph.D in language. He is the founder and chairman of Techelet, a religious television network, owner and chairman of the Israeli right-wing weekly Makor Rishon newspaper, as well as chairman of the board of Channel 10 television.
The topic of his speech was ‘Our self image an a virtual world,’ and if I had a copy of the text in English, I would definitely post it on our web site and send, at least part of it out on the email list. The gist his message can be summed up with two words: Jewish identity. Know who you are, act who you are, be who you are. Media is a reflection of who we are, or who we thinwe are. If we want to correct media images, we must first correct ourselves. The rest will come automatically.

Of course, Ben-Tzvi’s discourse was much more articulate, but abbreviated into a few short sentences, this is what he said. And how right he is.
I’d like to relate one story that Shlomo Ben-Tzvi told, characterizing our problem. It very well sums up the modern ‘Jewish way’ of doing things. He told of a young Jew who managed to get out of Poland, and made his way to England. The man quicky adopted English customs and habits, including their dress.
After much work, he had enough money to bring his father too to England. Waiting joyfully for him by the docks, he was suddenly jolted at the first sight of his parent. He looked like a Polish Jews, with a long black jacket, a long beard, and sidelocks. Hugging his father as they left the ship, he exclaimed, ‘father, we must do something for you, and fast.’
He took his father first to a tailor, where his long black coat and hat were replaced by a three-piece suit and tie. The father said not a word.
The next stop was a barber. First, the barber cut off the long beard. Again, the father was silent. Then the barber took hold of one of the sidelocks and snipped off a piece. No reaction. He then chopped off the entire sidelock. The father didn’t say a word.
As the barber began cutting off the father’s second sidelock, his son noticed a tear forming in his eye. “Father, what are you upset about?” he pleaded.
Sitting in the barber’s chair with tears in his eyes, the father looked at his son and said, “I’m so sorry we gave back India.”
Need more be said?
With blessings from Hebron.