Friday, May 2, 1997

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and Stones
 May 2, 1997

Again today the rocks flew, pelted from different directions around Beit Hadassah.  The security forces in the area are virtually useless - little, if anything, is done to prevent the attacks, and a paltry response is typical. A couple of days ago two firebombs were pitched at Beit Hadassah - one of them bounced next to the army outpost in back of the building and landed next to the window of a family who found a rock in their baby’s bed two weeks ago.
                There are many questions that should be raised, but the most obvious ones are: how long will  this go on, and what is next?
                The latest events don’t really bode well  for the near future. Armed Palestinian police continue to show up where they are not allowed, according to the Hebron Accords. Their presence in areas where Hebron’s Jewish citizens travel is extremely dangerous. Two nights ago armed palestinian police stopped and harassed two Hebron residents on their way to Tel Rumeida. When one of the car’s occupants photographed a ‘policeman’ with a gun, he was forced, at gun point, to turn the film over to the Arab. Only the quick arrival of Israel security forces prevented what could have developed into a very nasty situation.
                Construction on the road to Tel Rumeida was supposed to have been finished by May 1, according to the Hebron Agreement. However, one of the engineers working on the street told officials this week that he has no idea when it will be completed - maybe in a month.  Next week the section of the road directly in front of Beit Hadassah will also be torn up - causing not only great inconvenience, but also an exceptionally precarious security predicament.
                We shouldn’t forget that according to the original Oslo-Hebron agreement, three months after ‘redeployment’ discussions begin concerning the future of Ma’arat HaMachpela.  Three months are up.
                And the problems aren’t only in Hebron. Today, at Kever Yosef in Shechem, Arab police threatened Jewish worshippers, with loaded weapons.
                So, it looks like this may go on for quite a while, because precious little is being done to stop it. What’s next?  Well, a couple of days ago a reporter from Texas told me about a conversation he had with a Hebron Arab earlier in the week.  Pointing at the 12 meter fence a near Beit Hadassah, the Arab was quoted as saying, “Look at this fence. Now the stones won’t do any good. Now we have to get out the guns and RPGs (Rocket-propelled grenades).” It sort of makes you feel good, no?
                But the truth is, this is not unexpected. It is exactly what we warned of numerous times, before Oslo was signed, and again before the Hebron Accords were finalized and implemented. What is so unexpected is the total lack of reaction by the Israeli government. Bibi Netanyahu is frightened beyond belief by his shadow’s shadow. I’m  told that he no longer looks back over his shoulder - he has a ‘rear-view’ mirror hooked up like a pair of glasses. But you know what happens when you are always looking in the rear-view mirror - you stop looking at what’s in front of you. Our Minister of Defense has also abandoned all semblance of normal security measures.  He too it scared out of his wits that another ‘September’ might arise,  for which Israel would undoubtedly be blamed. After all, we are the obstinate obstacle to peace.
                (On that note, I have an obligation to add, if you haven’t already noticed, that ALL media coverage is distorted and convoluted beyond belief. Not only in what is reported, but just as much, if not more so, in what is NEGLECTED. If any of you readers can correct me, I will thank you, but last week, after the two Israeli women were killed by Arab terrorists at Wadi Kelt, both CNN and MSNBC internet news sites totally ignored the murder. I did not find the killings mentioned once on both of those sites, which are perhaps the major internet news sources. What do you think would have been the reaction had it been two Arab women found dead, say, in Hebron?)
                When Menachem Begin became Prime Minister in 1977, one his major errors was to leave all officials appointed by his predecessors in office, and not replacing them with people of his own choosing. It was to be expected that, the Likud, having learned from their past mistakes, would have corrected any number of appointments when Bibi came into office. Dream on. Bibi refused to turn responsibility for radio and television over to Minister of Communications Limur Livnat, who definitely would have corrected some of the extreme left  biases that permeate the media. A few nights ago the evening news interviewed Yossi Beilan for at least 10 minutes about his proposed plan to ‘save the peace talks.’  Kol Yisrael radio, especially the morning talk program hosts, continue to play on the Bar-On affair, squeezing it for everything they possibly can, to badger the government.  And how is it the Defense ministry has left General Uzi Dayan commander of the Central Region? Dayan is a leftist politician of the worst sort, who assisted in cooking up Oslo and nearly handed the Golan to Syria.  Why is he still wearing a uniform in the Israeli army, holding one of the most important and sensitive positions in the country?
                You may assume from the tone of this article that I am feeling down, or that pessimism is winning over. If you do assume so, you are wrong. I am writing this because it is very important that you know and understand what is going on over here. However, when I look at what is happening, my perspective is much wider that the narrow events I have described. I also take into account the 25,000 people who came into Hebron last week, over Pesach. I take into account the groups arriving daily, visiting, touring, praying, and linking themselves, physically and spiritually, to the City of the Patriarchs. I see the support Hebron receives from people around the world. I look at the results of one year ago - of the last election, when an overwhelming majority of the Jews in Israel voted, not for what Netanyahu is doing today, but for what he promised that he would and wouldn’t do. I look at the mood of Hebron’s residents - resolute and sturdy - always looking forward - planning for a brighter future.
                But still, some may ask, with matters as they have been illustrated, what can we do?  There are those who may be concerned that the situation is hopeless.  It is not - we, as Jews, know that no situation is ever hopeless. We have to do whatever we can - whatever is in our power to influence, and shape our lives.  But we must also know that there are things that are not in our hands - that we don’t have any control over. 
                I have written before, and I will stress it again: those souls barely existing in the camps in 1944 and 1945, could they have dreamed or imagined that in 1948 the State of Israel would be declared, fighting off all the Arab armies attempting to erase Israel from the map?  On Monday we commemorate Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Day. One of the most important lessons we must learn from the Shoah, from the Holocaust, is that we must never, ever despair, even during the deepest, darkest moments, when it seems that all is lost. 
                The children’s rhyme, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’ must be expanded on a little. Sticks and stones, and other assorted apparatus may appear to break the body - but the spirit, the spirit is never broken. And if the spirit doesn’t break, then in the end, the body holds up too. 

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