Wednesday, May 20, 1998

The Rules of the Game

Last Thursday was the declared Arab-palestinian 'catastrophe day,' mourning the fiftieth anniversary of the declaration of the State of Israel. The Arafat propaganda machine worked overtime, depicting the 'catastrophe' whereby one people's celebration is another people's lament. The promotion worked well; world media published accounts of Israeli independence at the expense of displaced Arabs. (I will not go into a detailed account of the charges leveled at Israel - suffice it to say that anyone interested in knowing what really happened is invited to read "From Time Immemorial" by Joan Peters. Ms. Peters, a journalist-historian arrived in Israel in the late 1970s to write an account of the 'poor palestinians.' However Ms. Peters had a trait rare among journalists: integrity. As she proceeded to research her project, she discovered that her fundamental premise was erroneous. The resulting book, a fascinating study including facts and figures, is fully documented. It is required reading for any serious student of Middle East studies and the Arab-Israeli conflict.)
Arafat did not intend for 'Catastrophe Day' to be an introspective, palestinian version of 'Tisha b'Av.' A siren wailed for two minutes in the morning, marking the calamity. Then the protests began. And Arab protests are not known for their orderliness. Of course, the primary target was Hebron. Media accounts described 'disturbances' which actually consisted of rioting, rock-thowing, firebomb attacks, and shooting. In short, nothing less than minor warfare. From last Thursday, through yesterday morning, a total of six days, the Jewish Community of Hebron was under attack. Dozens and dozens of firebombs were hurled - rocks flew through air, all aimed at Israelis, civilians and soldiers. Two nights ago Arab terrorists, standing on the side of the TransJudea Road, a few miles outside of Hebron, emptied two rifle magazines on an IDF jeep. Ten bullets hit the front windshield. The only reason that no one was killed is because Israeli military vehicles are bulletproofed.
The next morning a firebomb hit an IDF jeep on the road to Tel Rumeida in Hebron. Tel Rumeida is a neighborhood located at the site of Tel Hebron - the home of Abraham, the site of King David's palace, the site of the Tomb of Jessie - King David's father. The neighborhood is accessible via one road - a narrow, bending hill bordering on the H1 - Arafat controlled section of Hebron. Numerous times since last Thursday the road was closed because of Arab rock and firebomb attacks. The neighborhood was literally cut off from the rest of Jewish Hebron. Israeli reaction was almost nonexistent. When soldiers were finally allowed to respond, at which time they shot rubber-coated bullets at the attackers, Israel was labeled as the 'aggressor.'
Prior to the signing and implementation of the Hebron Accords, the Hebron community Jewish leadership warned any and all Israeli political figures: If Israel withdraws from these areas, we will be under constant attack in Hebron. We walked with all of Israel's leaders, including ministers, MKs, and others, throughout Hebron pointing out specific rooftops, hilltops, and other land areas. We warned them in language plainly understandable to any three year old: "If you give this to Arafat, it will endanger our lives. Arabs will attack us from all of these points." Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, all of our predictions have come true. Not because we are prophets - but because the realities were so blatant that they were impossible to miss. Like the Emperors New Clothes.
Yesterday morning, after a firebomb hit the army jeep, the driver stopped, got out, examined the damage, and then continued on his way, continuing without any reaction whatsoever to the attempt on his life. The firebombs and rocks were being thrown from a rooftop only meters from the road. But that particular house is located in the H1 - Arafat side of Hebron, leaving it immune from any Israeli response.
Of course, this lack of reprisal can have only one result - continued attacks on military and civilian targets. A short time afterwards a few Tel Rumeida residents, unable to accept this situation, stood in the middle of the road, on the hill leading to the Jewish neighborhood. After a few minutes car horns were honking, and before you could snap your fingers Israeli police and soldiers appeared, as out of thin air. When rocks and firebombs threat our lives, the street is empty. When a few Jews close the road for a few minutes, well, this is a major crime.
The security forces pushed the Jewish 'criminals' off the street onto the sidewalk. We have been there ever since, having established a protest vigil at the site. Soldiers were stationed on rooftops overlooking the Arab house from where the attacks originated. Israeli patrols actually 'crossed the border' (ssh ssh - it's a secret and against the accords) to try and stop further attacks. And most miraculously, the police and army have 'allowed' the vigil to continue. (Days of the Messiah have arrived.)
Immediately after the protest vigil started, a top police officer arrived and entered into a discussion with some of those present. Of course he objected to the closing of the road and threatened to arrest the offenders. After hearing explanations, focussing around the fact that without some kind of Jewish 'provocation' the attacks would continue, his response was: "What, you people live under illusions that their won't be firebomb and rock attacks? There are rules to the game - it is forbidden for you to cause trouble."
It is worrisome that a man in uniform, whose primary duty is to insure security asks, 'what you have illusions that their won't be firebombs or rocks?' However my impression is that his response is due to indoctrination fed to him before he arrived in Hebron. He hasn't been here too long. But there are others - who have been around for a long time. What about them?
Those who drew up Oslo were warned. Now, due to their unbelievable foresight, some are actually being promoted. General Uzi Dayan, one of the major players in drawing up and implementing Oslo, is being moved up from Central Command to Deputy Commander in Chief. He helped design the maps which gave the Arabs the ability to attack us without allowing the reciprocal ability of the Israeli Defense Forces to appropriately respond.
But his rules aren't our rules. The dice, according to Dayan and some of his friends, are loaded. That's what the police officer said - "don't rock the boat - it's forbidden to 'cause trouble.' " But we don't play by their rules, rules which negate our existence, and our very right to be in Hebron. Mr. Police Officer, Mr. General, Mr. Defense Minister, Mr. Prime Minister: KNOW - there are real rules and there is cheating. We don't cheat. If you do, you will be caught. When you cheat, you are disqualified from the game. It is you, not us, who must start to play by the rules. We too know that there are rules to the game.
Rule number one: Survival.

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