Friday, March 27, 1998

Percentage Points, Pressure-Points, and "What-If"

Percentage Points, Pressure-Points, and "What-If" 
March 27, 1998 
One of the various functions I fulfil in Hebron is as liaison between The 
Jewish Community of Hebron and the Jerusalem-based American Consulate. 
Because the United States does not recognize Israel's "occupation" of the 
"West Bank" the US embassy in Tel Aviv has nothing to do with us. 
Consequently, the US consulate is delegated with the authority to stay in 
touch with (or spy on) us.

Why should I use the word 'spy?' This morning I had a meeting in our
offices in Hebron with the present American consulate liaison, Ms. Rebecca
Lynn, and three others - 2 men and a woman. The men, Bill Richardson and
Paul Frendanell, and the woman, Aden Hynsheimer, were introduced to me as
working with some kind of economic study in the State Department. I asked
if they have anything to do with the present Dennis Ross visit, and was
told that their presence here, together with Ross, is 'coincidental.' 
Maybe. I know, for a fact, that they are connected to the political wing 
of the State Department. I do not know for a fact, but have a very strong 
hunch, that they are also connected to the CIA. I do know that employees 
of the American Embassy, connected with the Ross visit, who have spoken to
colleagues of mine about these same people, denied knowing them when I
inquired about them. 

When I asked how I could help them, they answered that they'd like to know
about life in Hebron, the economic situation in Hebron, etc. I would like
to relate some of my reply. (I am writing in the first-person - as speaking
to them.)

Being that Dennis Ross is here, and you are here, I cannot ignore what the
United States is doing to Israel. I will answer all your specific
questions, but first must make our position clear as to the role the US is
playing here in Israel.

I spent quite some time trying to figure out how to make you understand how
we feel. So, without sounding too far-out, let's play 'what-if.' What if - 
during the recent crisis with Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator sent the
following message to Bill Clinton: 

'Dear President Clinton, I know you want access to all our palaces, and
other presidential residences. And I am willing to allow you that very
access. But, you should know that I have, strategically placed in all
major US cities, Iraqi agents. These agents are equipped with aerosol
containers containing biologically poisonous germs. If you attack us with
your bombs, I will order my agents to release this poisonous material,
thereby causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans, or
perhaps even more.

I will call them back to Iraq at a moment's notice, though, if you agree to
one condition. I have only one request: Give me the city of Silver Springs,
Maryland. (This city is about an hour from Washington D. C.) I want this
city to have the same status as an international embassy. In other words,
it belongs to me, entirely. If you give me Silver Springs I will call back
my agents and allow you access to anywhere you want in Iraq. Should you not
agree, you will be responsible for the consequences.'

Would you give Saddam Silver Springs? What if you did? And what-if 
Saddam's madmen started shooting at apartments in Washington D.C. And 
what-if Washington's security forces, for fear of an international 
incident, did nothing in response. How do you think Washington's civilian 
population would react? What would they do?

The United States of America is playing an unforgivable role in Israel. It
is forcing a democratic country to make undemocratic decisions. A majority
of Israelis elected Netanyahu and evicted Peres because a majority of
Israelis reject the policies initiated by the previous administration. Yet
you - the United States, is forcing the Israeli government to continue
making concessions to Arafat, against our will and contrary to our national
interests. In short, you are compelling Israel to commit suicide. 

You know that Israel is smaller than New Jersey. You know that Arafat is a
reprehensible terrorist, 2nd only to Hitler in his hate for Jews this
century. You know that he has not complied with any of the Arab obligations
accepted and signed in the Oslo-Hebron Accords. You know that he has no
intentions of ever fulfilling these obligations. Yet, you are demanding
that we give him more and more land. As Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed
out, each additional percentage point is the size of Tel Aviv. Yet, you do
not care. 

You have become involved in internal Israeli politics. Before the last
election, Clinton literally endorsed Peres over Netanyahu. But your
involvement is even more serious. This week Hebron's Jewish Community
released a pamphlet describing the 'undue process of law' applied to Jewish
residents of Judea and Samaria, and most particularly, Hebron. These
'special rules' define us as 'unequal before the law.' I cannot directly
blame you for these discriminatory guidelines, which are still being
enforced against us. However, I do know that the pressure you continue to
exert on Israel has pushed the Israeli government into a corner, whereby
they have painted an immaculate picture of Yassir Arafat and, at the same
time, vilified us. He was the friend and we were the enemy. I have no
doubt that American influence played a role in the decision to author, and
then, implement, these 'special rules.'

I know too that you see us as a 'fringe, fanatic element.' Well, I have
news for you. There are people in the Knesset who feel just as we do. And
we will not allow Israel to commit suicide. We will not start a civil war,
we will not shoot anyone, nor do we have any intentions to use violence as
a means to reach our goals. To the contrary. In my opinion, the Israel
people's decision at the polls was much more effective than Yigal Amir's
bullets. But, we will not, under any circumstances, allow you to push us
into committing national suicide. 

Because in Israel, we are not playing 'what-if' and we are not talking
about percentage points. We are dealing with real people's lives, with
the land we live on, and with our very national existance. I suggest you 
point your pressure in some other direction.

Tuesday, March 17, 1998

Collaborative Lynch

The past few days have witnessed new heights in attempts to annihilate Hebron's Jewish Community. That is very strong language, I know, and I'm sure some of your think I'm exaggerating. Unfortunately, I'm not.
"The Jewish settlement in Hebron, which was established three years ago…was a mistake from the start and the price that Israel has had to pay for the failure of its weak-kneed governments to correct this error has not diminished with time…
…the Jewish inhabitants of Hebron, who are members of the most radical ideological nucleus in the whole settler population, are ready at any moment to fan the flames…
After the residents of the Abu Snenah neighborhood began hurling Molotov cocktails at the houses of the Jewish residents, groups of Hebron settlers carried out personal vendettas against the city's Arab inhabitants.
…the treatment extended to the settlers is invariably characterized by leniency and understanding. That is what is happening this time as well.
The political future of Hebron's Jewish inhabitants will ultimately be decided in a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian…In the meantime, attempts should at least be made to force these inhabitants to obey the same laws to which all other Israelis are subject and leniency should be exercised only where it is absolutely called for."
This quotes are from an editorial published in today's Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper.
Yesterday's Ha'aretz has a headline saying "Settler, IDF rift growing"
Two headlines in Monday's Jerusalem Post: Shahak (Commander-in-Chief of the IDF): " Hebron Jews alienate soldiers" - "15 Hebron Jews ignore public summons"
In Sunday's Ha'aretz -"IDF:Settlers caused Hebron violence" - "There was a clear provocation by the settlers, " said senior military sources.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

The same types of statements were broadcast over Israel television and radio. On Saturday night, the fact that the Avraham Avinu neighborhood was shot at twice on Friday night and once on Tuesday night, was never mentioned.
Israeli politicians haven't been lax either. Today, MK Ron Cohen of Meretz (whose daughter is married to an Arab) blamed Hebron's Jews for the death of an eleven year old Arab boy who was hit in the head by a rubber bullet during violent, rock-throwing demonstrations in the city. Cohen asserted that the Jews were responsible for the violence leading to the Arab demonstration. This, as a result of entering into the Abu-Snenah hilltops on Friday night. However, Cohen was a little mixed up, because the boy was shot last Wednesday. Cohen is, it seems, unaware that Wednesday is two days before Friday.
Earlier today IMRA director Dr. Aaron Lerner interviewed MK Ron Cohen and asked him about this seeming discrepancy. At first, Cohen didn't seem to understand Lerner's questions. When he finally began to comprehend that Wednesday is actually before Friday, he said that he would, "check it out." Later, Lerner spoke to Ron Cohen again:
Cohen: "Look. It does in fact turn out that the boy was wounded two days before. And the settlers knew that he was on his deathbed. So first of all, I checked out the facts and I am sorry for the mistake. But since the settlers knew that this was the situation and despite this they wanted to go in there in order to cause the army to act, and the army acted and another eight were wounded, then:
A. In terms of the acts, I have found that there is no connection.
B. In terms of my denunciation of the settlers for the provocation of the settlers who entered Abu Snenah, I don't retract my denunciation."
All of these unrelenting attacks on Hebron's Jews can only be defined as an intention incitement - incitement to murder. Little wonder that Arafat's right-hand man, Jibril Rajoub, in charge of security in Hebron, said yesterday: "Attacks on Palestinian civilians are a grave matter that we do not intend to accept quietly. From now on, any Israeli settler who thinks that he can come into Palestinian National Authority territory and attack a Palestinian should know that he will not leave our are alive."
So, one can say, if a Jew attacks an Arab, well, he is taking his life into his own hands. Except, that Rajoub's intention doesn’t only include attackers - it includes 'would-be attackers.' That includes any Jew who happens into the H1 - Arafat controlled area of Hebron. A few weeks ago a carful of Israelis from Jerusalem made a wrong turn in Hebron, and instead of winding up at Tel Rumeida, they found themselves in Arafat Land. They were attacked by an Arab mob - the palestinian police did nothing to help them. Miraculously they were able to summon help and barely escaped alive. They too, were potential 'attackers.' So too are Jews desiring to pray at the Cave of Otniel ben Knaz, the first Judge, which is located in Arafat's side of the city.
Rajoub's remarks were considered by everyone to be a not-so-veiled threat against Hebron's Jewish population. And why shouldn't he threaten? After all, Israelis too are making remarks which need no interpretation. Their vicious attacks, on Hebron's Jews, all of which are false, express verbal bloodshed.
To set the record straight:
1.On Tuesday night, March 10, Israeli soldiers shot and killed three Arabs in van, after the same van ran down another solder. Almost immediately violent attacks began in Hebron.
2. On Tuesday night, shots were fired at the Avraham Avinu neighborhood in Hebron from the Abu-Snenah hilltop. There was no response to this attack by the Israel Defense Forces.
3. Rock, firebomb and pipebomb attacks continued against the Israeli side of Hebron on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday, an 11 year old Arab boy was hit in the head by a rubber bullet.
4. On Friday night, at 6:30 PM shots were again fired at the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. Israeli soldiers were denied permission for 'hot pursuit' allowed by the Hebron Accords.
5. Shortly afterwards a group of about 30 Hebron residents climbed up to the Abu-Snenah hilltop, in the H1 - Arafat controlled region of Hebron. There were no Israeli soldiers on the hilltop when they arrived. Their sole purpose for the excursion was to protest continued shooting, with absolutely no reaction by Israeli forces. According to the Hebron Accords IT IS PERFECTLY PERMISSIBLE FOR JEWS TO ENTER THIS AREA. NOWHERE DOES IT SAY THAT JEWS MAY NOT HAVE ACCESS TO THE H1-ARAFAT CONTROLLED AREA OF HEBRON.
6. Shortly after they arrived palestinian police also appeared, carrying Kalachnekov rifles. According to the Hebron Accords, Arabs police may not carry rifles in the Abu-Snenah hilltops, which overlook the Jewish neighborhoods of Hebron. Israeli soldiers also arrived, declared the area a 'closed military zone, and ordered the Jewish residents to leave. At that time Arabs in the area began rioting, throwing rocks and burning tires. The Israeli soldiers were forced to shoot rubber bullets. The Jewish Hebron residents left the area and returned to their homes. They did not attack any Arabs or Israeli soldiers.
7. At about 10:30 PM shots were again fired at the Avraham Avinu neighborhood from a house on the underside of the Abu-Snenah hill - INSIDE ISRAELI CONTROLLED TERRITORY. Again, the army was refused permission to apprehend the attacking terrorists, because 'it would be dangerous.'
All of the statements made concerning the 'bad relationships' between Hebron's Jewish residents and soldiers serving in Hebron cannot be further from the truth. Last night on Israeli television a young man who served in Hebron said, "they treated us as if we were their children." Each group of soldiers, upon completion of their service in the city, participates in a party with Hebron residents. Many soldiers have written letters of thanks and appreciation for the way in which they were received by The Jewish Community of Hebron.
The past few days have seen an attempt by the media, the left, and various politicians together with Arabs, led by Rajoub, to collectively lynch us. They think that they can string us up and leave us hanging from a pole, for all to see. They are wrong. Slowly, perhaps too slowly, but surely, the truth emerges. The Ha'aretz editorial, quoted earlier, says that our fate is yet to be decided. What they don't realize is that our fate was decided almost 4,000 years ago. Since then, many peoples have tried to lynch the Jewish people. Try as they may, they have not, nor will they ever, succeed. Very simply, after 4,000 years, we are not lynchable.
Previous HPP&F

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Saturday, March 14, 1998


March 14, 1998

 Yesterday afternoon I witnessed an amazing event during a meeting of Arab and Israeli officers in the middle of a street, covered with rocks and the remnants of firebombs. Rocks had been flying for well over an hour. 'Palestinian police' and Arafat's soldiers did virtually nothing to stop the rioting. The scene looked similar to a game of tag. A rock-thrower would be chased by an uniformed Arab, sometimes caught, and then pushed back into the mob.

Suddenly a group of Arabs, not all in uniform, headed to the middle of the street and motioned to their Israeli counterparts to do the same. (Those not in uniform are usually 'security or intelligence' officers, under the command of Jibril Rajoub.) Shortly a dialogue began, with the Arabs shouting at the Israelis in Arabic. After a few minutes someone translated for the Israelis not understanding. A few more minutes and a deal was struck. The Arabs demanded that no Israeli soldiers be seen on the street opposite the Arafat controlled part of the city, ON THE ISRAELI SIDE. In other words, the Arabs were dictating where Israeli soldiers could be stationed in our section of the city! In return, the Arab officers promised to stop the rioting.

The Israeli officers agreed, and shortly afterwards, implemented the agreement.

It's also interesting to note that while the two sides were meeting in the middle of the street, Arabs continued hurling rocks, even thought their own officers were exposed to the falling shards of stone. One piece of concrete hit me in the chest as I was filming the pow-wow, along with other reporters. Fortunately, I was not badly hurt.

Last Tuesday night a van with blue (Arab) license plates plowed into an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint called Tarkumia, about 15-20 miles outside of Hebron, and about 30 miles from Kiryat Gat, to the west. According to the soldier who was hit, 'I saw him (the driver) look straight at me, turn the steering wheel, and aim for me.'

Other soldiers at the checkpoint had reason to believe that a terrorist attack was in progress and they were next in line to be run down. So they started shooting. Three Arabs in the front seat of the van were killed.
Why would the soldiers think that an Arab might try and kill them by plowing his van into them?

On October 11, 1991 two soldiers killed when a van, driven by an Arab drove into a group of soldiers at the Tel HaShomer Junction in Tel Aviv.

On July 19, 1991 one soldier was killed Nitzanim Junction in Gazza by an Arab, whose vehicle ran him down.

On July 9, 1991 an attempt was made to run over an Israeli soldier near Ramallah.

On March 15, 1993 two men were killed near the Jewish community Eli, in the Shomron, when an Arab vehicle intentionally plunged into them.

Almost immediately following the shooting, before any investigation or conclusions, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu initiated a phone call to Yassir Arafat to 'express his condolences' for the 'palestinian loss of life.' The soldiers involved in the shooting were immediately arrested and held for two days in jail. Since the event, rioting and shooting haven't stopped in Hebron. On Friday morning an explosive device blew up near the Shechem Gate in Jerusalem. Security forces believe that the package was targeted for a terrorist attack in the center of Jerusalem. This afternoon an Israeli was seriously injured when a bomb exploded at the Afula central bus station. Afula is only a few kilometers from Jenin, now under Arafat's control.

Last week opposition Labor leader Ehud Barak stuck his foot in his mouth by stating that if he had been born an Arab, he would have joined a terrorist group. (There was a ruckus in the Knesset when an MK asked Barak which organization he would have joined had he been born to German parents in Nazi Germany.) Barak has been attacked for his statement because it justifies and legitimizes Arab terrorist activities. As a matter of fact, during the trial of terrorists from the Tzurif cell of the Hamas organization, one terrorist claimed that he and his comrades based their case on Barak's remark - "If I were a Palestinian, I'd join a terrorist organization." These terrorists are responsible for, among other incidents, the attack on the Apropos cafe in Tel Aviv, and the murder of soldier Sharon Edri.

However, in my opinion, Netanyahu's condolence call to Arafat is much more harmful than Barak's stupid declaration. It is a perfect example of Jewish apologetics. The soldiers at the checkpoint did exactly what they are taught to do - to protect themselves and other Israelis. How does it look when the Israeli prime minister goes running to the bloodiest terrorist in the twentieth century, second only to Hitler in his determination to exterminate Jews, apologizing for the legitimate actions of his own countrymen, serving in the IDF. It is a green light to Arab terrorists, flashing, "we did something wrong - take advantage of this - it is a good excuse for violence and more attempts to kill Israelis." Why does the Israeli prime minister have to add credence to Arafat's assertions that Israel is against peace and that all violence is a result of Israeli provocation and violations of the 'peace accords?'

Since the Tarkumia incident an investigation have shown that most likely the truck's gas pedal got stuck and that the truck ran out of control, causing it to hit the soldier. While nobody is in favor of killing innocent civilians, under any circumstances, Israel and the Israeli soldiers did nothing wrong. Unfortunately, realities of the Israeli-Arab conflict sometimes conclude in tragedy. But that is no excuse for Israeli groveling.

Since Tuesday night, Israeli Hebron has been held hostage by Arabs surrounding the Jewish neighborhoods. The shooting that we warned of before the implementation of the Oslo Accords is an actuality. On the one hand Israeli media is placing all responsibility for violence in Hebron on the city's Jewish residents. On the other hand, tonight Kol Yisrael news broadcast that the Palestinian Authority announced that Arab disturbances would continue until the soldiers who shot at Tarkumia are put on trial. This means that the rioting will not end for quite some time. Does this mean that Hebron will continue to be 'open territory, without appropriate intervention by the Israeli government and the IDF? Or perhaps they don't really care what happens to the Jews in Hebron?

But not only is Hebron being held hostage. The State of Israel is being held hostage, not by the Arabs, but by ourselves. Until our self-image changes and we realize that Erez Yisrael belongs to us, and that we really do have a legitimate right to be here, we will continue to cower behind apologetics that, sixty years ago, resulted in a holocaust. We must stop regretting our existence and stop flinching every time Arafat, or anyone else, flexes his muscles. After fifty years of statehood, it's time to start growing up.

Sunday, March 8, 1998

Strangers in a Strange Land - Part One

Strangers in a Strange Land - Part One
March 8, 1998

For a moment use your imagination: A narrow street, shops, automobiles, horses, push-carts, tens (sometimes hundreds or more) of people milling about, in the middle of the street. Among the people some adorn Kafiyas. Some women wear clothe mask covering their faces. Others only cover their hair. Other men and women also have their heads covered, with kippahs (Yarmulkahs) and kerchiefs respectively. A uniformed military presence is obvious too.
Into this mass confusion add some surrealism: small white cars with red lettering on the side. Flying from the antenna is a triangular flag, also with red lettering. Standing next to the car are its driver and passenger, both wearing off-white gray uniforms and blue vests.
Now the icing on the cake: Walking down the middle of the street is a group of red-hatted (baseball cap) people.
It sounds like a scene out of a bad science fiction book? Well, its not science fiction, but it is strange.
Hebron 1998 - it's not enough that Jews and Arabs mingle - mostly indifferent to each other - sometimes doing business together - occasional problems, but mostly, each going about his or her own life, ignoring the others. Hebron has turned into an international city -- with unwanted guests.
Two groups today wander the streets of Hebron - one official, the other unofficial. They are both known by acronyms: TIPH and CPT: Temporary International Presence Hebron and Christian Peacekeeping Team.
TIPH has been in Hebron for about a year. Actually they made their first appearance almost four years ago but that didn't last very long. Then, they wore white uniforms and red hats - they were labeled "The Pizza Men." Today, these hundred or so men and women from various countries have invaded. Turkey, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Switzerland among those nations represented. What do they do in Hebron? Officially, they are 'observers.' So, they observe. What do they observe? That is a good question. They see what they want to see. And what they don't want to see - well, your guess is as good as mine.
To be fair, I have had some personal contact with groups of these people - periodically I give them tours of Ma'arat HaMachpela and an occasional lecture about the Jewish history of Hebron. Once in a while we strike up a conversation in the street. My experience has shown that they are not all Israel-Jew haters. Some are neutral, a few like us, and there are others… However, the group, as a group, cannot be seen as impartial. I have been told that recently they began issuing reports about Palestinian infractions in Hebron. But these accounts are few and far between - and much too late. The Arab violence against Jews in Hebron, and unceasing violations of the Hebron accords has left a bloody trail one year long. The fact that now they remember to add a word here or there about Arab transgressions is no excuse for the overt bias shown since they arrived in Hebron.
Nevertheless, the problem with their being in Hebron is deeper than the pure objectivity, or lack of it. Again, imagine walking down the street - over one shoulder you watch to make sure your next-door neighbor isn't planning on sticking a knife in your back. Over the other shoulder you watch for the blue-vested TIPH with their movie cameras and notebooks, jotting down whatever you do or say. Shades of Big Brother is Watching! TIPH presence certainly doesn't add to a cool, calm and relaxed living atmosphere.
Occasionally tempers flare and uncalled for actions occur. For example, this week Israeli soldiers near Beit Hadassah apprehended an Arab on the Israeli 'wanted list.' The Arab resisted arrest, reacted violently and was subdued. Of course, TIPH missed the first part of the show and arrived for the second act, movie cameras and all. As they were filming, an eight year old, sitting on a soldiers lap, played with a toy water gun. It seems that he managed to shoot at one of the TIPH observers, whose pants were dampened. Whether the child did this intentionally or not, I don't know - possibly yes, possibly no. But the TIPH observer grabbed the child, hit him in the chest, and dug his fingers into the child's neck. Fingernail marks and the red patches on the boy's chest were both witnessed and recorded by Israeli police, when later, a complaint was issued.
The TIPH observer then removed his nametags, preventing identification, and attempted to leave the area.
Later, a Reuters correspondent called me, asking for a reaction to the following account she had received: Jewish settlers threw water and eggs at TIPH observers filming Israeli soldiers arresting two Arabs. Israeli cars blocked the road, preventing the TIPH people from leaving the area, until Israeli security forces intervened.
This is not the norm. It is serious, should not have occurred and should not be repeated. The TIPH observer who attacked an 8 year old who squirted him with a water gun must be severely reprimanded and possibly be brought to trial and deported.
The major problem with TIPH is the overwhelming naivete that plagues their existence here. They have no idea what they are observing, due to a total lack of cognizance as to the underlying conflicts that permeate Hebron. They try to make sense out of events which are foreign to their thought processes, because of their inability to understand what has led up to the event in question, and its possible consequences. They then report inaccurately back to their superiors giving accounts of what they thought they saw, without realizing what they truly witnessed. Of course, a staggering percentage of their subjective chronicles shed a negative light on the IDF and/or Israeli citizens in Hebron.
I once had an interesting conversation with two of these observers both of whom come from Italy. They said to me: "We are both religious Roman Catholics. You (the Jews) and the Arabs are both religious. Religion should unify you. Why doesn’t it?"
So, I replied, "Where was this religious unity when Jews were slaughtered by the thousands by Christians during the Crusades, among other time periods, because they refused to accept Christianity?"
They looked at each other, scratched their heads, and then one responded, "Well, you are right, but that doesn't make it right."
This is the 'impartial observer force' doing its duty in Hebron. Strangers in a strange land.