Sunday, June 21, 1998

The Bastardization of Netanyahu

A frequent topic of discussion lately, especially among visitors speaking with us in Hebron, is the following question: Are we better off bringing down the government and suffering a possible return of the left, led by Sarid, Balin etc.; or, should we suffer Netanyahu's continued rule, come what may, because we don't have any choice?
The two sides of the coin are fairly well spelled out. If Netanyahu pulls out of additional areas in Yesha, and ever perhaps the Jordan Valley, (as has been rumored), there is absolutely nothing to do, because he has no choice, the Americans are pressuring and Barak would give them more, - or - this isn't what he was elected to do - he is destroying the Land of Israel - we cannot absolve him of such a sin and let him continue on his merry way.
The truth is that when each one of these conversations began I would take a deep breath, sigh a few times, and then nod in agreement with whatever was said to me - because both opinions had something going for them. People tend to have very short memories: the four years of Rabin-Peres, with all they encompassed is still much too fresh in my memory to desire an instant replay. The numbers of people killed in terrorist attacks without any government response, the initiation of Oslo - etc. etc. - It isn't an era in history any of us would like to live through again. If we bring down the Netanyahu government and head for early elections, well, the last election was pretty close - who knows what will happen. The last time we brought down a government we lost the gamble. So is it worth taking almost two years away from the present regime, like them or not?
On the other hand, if he continue on the course that he has seemingly set out for himself, including massive land withdrawals, without getting anything in return (as Oslo has been since its inception) what real difference is there between the Prime Minister and Barak. This man is doing as much damage, if not more, than a Labor-led coalition. People on the right still have a major psychological problem showing true opposition to a Likud-led government, with all of "our" people participating in the cabinet.
So, what do we do?
Until the end of last week I really didn't know, even though I had my leanings. Now, the questions have been blown away, in one swift swoop.
The reason is very simple. It is called Arutz 7.
It must be very difficult for most of you, not living in Israel, to really appreciate what Arutz 7 is. Let me try to briefly explain. Broadcast media in Israel - both television and radio, is State operated. Television, until a short time ago, consisted on one government-run channel. Recently a second one was added. It is private. It is one of the only privately run media outlets (excepting newspapers) in the country. All radio is government operated. Radio news, called Kol Yisrael - the Voice of Israel - is official State news. It is, as most of you are aware, monopolized by the Israeli left, and is about as biased as can be imagined. I'll give you one small example.
The latest Israeli crisis involves last week's cabinet meeting, when, during a report being given by the outgoing Commander-in-Chief Amnon Lipkin Shachak, Netanyahu broke in and asked him to skip a particular item, for reasons which aren't clear. The Kol Yisrael military correspondent is a woman named Carmela Menashe. (The word is that she got the job because her ex-husband works for Israeli intelligence.) In any case, last week, she gave an account of why the C-I-C was so badly insulted, and how there is not any precedent to a PM's request to stop a report in the middle of it. She also gave Shachak's account of what was being discussed.
Following her account, another reporter, Yoni ben Menachem, began an account of the Prime Minister's side of things, which are somewhat different from Shachak's. At that point, Carmela Menashe broke into his account and started saying, "but there are protocols - there are protocols, which don’t jibe with Netanyahu's account." She talked for quite a while, in an attempt to shut up another Kol Yisrael reporter who was trying to give the other side of the story. Only after some time was the other reporter 'allowed' to open his mouth and give his report.
This is the way it is - until Arutz 7.
Arutz 7 is not licensed by the government, as are the other stations. It isn't licensed because the government won't license it. Israeli law does not allow for private radio stations. So the broadcasting is done from a ship, off the Israeli coast, in international waters. That way they aren't breaking the law. There are studios in Israel (if you consider 'Yesha' Israel) but the broadcasting is from the ship.
Arutz 7 is a 'religious' station. It plays Hassidic songs and not the yucky stuff many of us refer to as 'garbage.' They only play Hebrew songs, and not English varieties. (A few months ago the Israeli rock station Reset Gimel also started playing only Israeli music, because of Arutz 7's popularity. According to statistics between 20-30% of the Israeli radio audience listens to Arutz 7.) Arutz 7 also has radio Torah classes. It also has its own news department. And Arutz 7 news is slightly different from that of Kol Yisrael, to say the least.
Arutz 7 also provides us with a way to express ourselves, those of us who don't buy what the left tries to sell us. In short, Arutz 7 is a media tool which is unlike any other in Israel. It tells the truth.
The Rabin-Peres objected to Arutz 7, and at one point Shulamit Aloni confiscated broadcasting transmitters. But even the left knew better than to try and actually close Arutz 7. They all remembered Abbie Natan's Ship of Peace and Voice of Peace which broadcast for decades from outside Israeli territorial waters, just as Arutz 7 does.
But not so with Netanyahu's people. Last week the Arutz 7 offices and studios were invaded. The station was forced to stop broadcasting for a few hours. Equipment was confiscated (and later returned). Directors were questioned and ordered to appear tomorrow morning at police headquarters for more questioning. Those ordered to appear include Rabbi Zalman Melamed, Rav of Beit El, and his wife, and Ketzele - Ya'akov Katz. 
So, what's the big deal? It's very simple. Arutz 7 made Netanyahu Prime Minister. Their broadcasts, during almost four years of the Rabin-Peres catastrophe, gave light as to what was actually going on. Arutz 7 was the only media not to work against Netanyahu's candidacy. There is no doubt that without Arutz 7, Netanyahu never would have gotten close to the Prime Minister's office.
So now, what does all of this mean. Again, very simple. If Netanyahu's Minister of Internal Security, together with Netanyahu's Attorney general, can decide, with Netanyahu's OK that Arutz 7 is illegitimate, then Netanyahu is admitting that he too is illegitimate. It's like cutting off the branch of the tree that you're sitting on. If Netanyahu closes Arutz 7, his premiership is illegitimate. He shouldn't be Prime Minister. In other words, he is quite literally, a bastard.

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Monday, June 8, 1998

Happy Endings

I have received a number of responses to my last article, "May 10, 1999." Those responses relate to the "overly optimistic" conclusion of the essay. Therefore, I would like to clarify:
The article was written as a result of questions put to me relatively frequently in Hebron, by tourists and journalists alike. I suppose others also pose the question to themselves, if not to me or others in a similar position. That question is, very simply, what is the alternative, i.e., if this 'peace process' is not to your liking, what do you suggest?
This question may or may not be intelligently answered. But one point which must be dealt with is NOT 'what is the alternative' but rather, what are the consequences of our present actions? If the outcome is likely to be fatal to the continued existence of the Jewish state, or is likely to bring the Jewish People to its knees, it makes no difference if there is or is not an alternative. The present process must be stopped at all costs, before it is too late.
The scenario depicted in the article is, unfortunately, only one of many which could actually transpire should the 'peace process' continue, leading to establishment of a Palestinian State in large areas of Judea, Samaria and Gazza. Saddam Hussein, or Haffez Assad of Syria for that matter, could effortlessly amass troops on the Kalkilya - Kfar Saba - Petach Tikva - Tel-Aviv - Jerusalem - State of Israel, border. There would be little in the way to stop them. Katushas or other short range missiles could easily target in on any and every Jewish population in Israel from Shechem and Yericho. The possibility of nuclear conflagration is not beyond the realm of possibility.
How any of these, or other imaginable possibilities, would conclude is your guess as well as mine. The ending I supplied is, I suppose, a result of the need we in Hebron have to always be optimistic. Perhaps it is a little deeper than that. Perhaps it also has something to do with faith - for without faith all is truly lost.
I am not so naive as to believe that the 'not-so-optimistic' ending could also be a reality. I face such endings on a fairly frequent basis. For example, two weeks ago, in the early afternoon, an older man walked into my office with a younger woman. He introduced himself as Shlomo Goldshmidt, and his daughter. He told me that he had been born in Hebron almost 75 years ago. He was four and a half when the massacre began on Shabbat, the 17 of Av, in 1929. His mother ordered him and his sister to hide under the bed, which they did, petrified. His father, Moshe Goldshmidt, the community Shochet, or ritual slaughterer, was himself slaughtered. His mother was badly hurt after being stabbed, but recovered.
Shlomo Goldshmidt described to me how his father, a Chabad Hassid, had been in Jerusalem with the Rebbi, then visiting in Eretz Yisrael. He was very close to the Rebbi and never left his side. However, on Thursday, Shlomo Goldshmidt told the Rebbi that if he didn't return to Hebron, there wouldn't be any meat for Shabbat in the community. So he left Jerusalem and returned to Hebron, to his death at the hands and knives of Arab murderers.
Moshe Goldshmidt, and his daughter, married with a family of her own, went with me to the ancient Jewish cemetery, to recite some prayers at the grave of their father and grandfather - a father Moshe barely remembers. His daughter had never before been in Hebron, and she was very moved. We later visited Beit Hadassah and the memorial room for the 67 Jews killed in the massacre. There, Moshe found a picture of his father among the other martyrs. Far from being a happy ending.
On the other hand, when we were standing in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, looking at the caravans which house the seven families living there, I mentioned that one of the community's distinguished residents is Rav Shlomo Ra'anan, Rav Kook's grandson. Mr. Goldshmidt then remarked that one of his cousins is a Dean at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav, Rav Kook's yeshiva. When I asked him who, Mr. Goldshmidt answered, "Rabbi Melamed." I exclaimed, "Rabbi Zalman Melamed?!" and he responded affirmatively. So I left Moshe Goldshmidt waiting for a few moments, while I called Rabbi Melamed's daughter to come see her cousin. Because she just happens to live right there, in Tel Rumeida. Her name is Naomi Horowitz, and she is married to Rav Hillel Horowitz, one of the director's of the Hebron community.
Not only is it a small world. Rather here is a classic example of a complete circle: A few hundred meters from the cemetery where the murdered Shlomo Goldshmidt lies, his offspring are living, raising a family, presently with seven children, in the renewed Jewish Community of Hebron. Needless to say, it was a very emotional moment. And something of a happier ending.

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Friday, June 5, 1998

May 10, 1999

6:00 PM: Kol Yisrael from Jerusalem - this is a special news bulletin: The
Prime Minister is about to make an unprecedented speech from an unknown
site, somewhere in Israel.

The Prime Minister: Fellow Israeli citizens, fellow Jews, peoples of the
world. On Wednesday, May 5, five short days ago, at 12 o'clock noon, Yassir
Arafat publicly declared the creation of the State of Palestine. The
borders of the state, as defined in his inaugural address, included not
only the land transferred by Israel to the Palestinian Authority,
encompassing almost 40% of Judea, Samaria and Gazza. Of course, he
announced that East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine. But he also
alleged that an additional 45% of Judea, Samaria and Gazza are intrinsic
elements of the Palestinian State, presently occupied by the Zionist forces
and vowed to liberate the entire region, if necessary, by force. He issued
an ultimatum to the Israeli government, demanding withdrawal from these
areas within 24 hours. His veiled threats insinuated that failure to
retreat from these areas would lead to serious international repercussions,
including armed combat.

On the Thursday morning, May 6, at 3:30 AM, the Iraqi army, led by the
President of Iraq himself, Saddam Hussein, crossed the international border
from Iraq into Jordan. According to intelligence information, about 50,000
Iraqi troops moved into Jordan. There was no Jordanian resistance. To the
contrary. The Iraqi president was welcomed by King Hussein of Jordan on the
steps of the monarch's palace in Amman. The King's press spokesperson
issued a statement to the effect that the Iraqi leader was coming to pay
his respects to the Jordanian ruler, who is reportedly in failing health.
When questioned why Saddam was accompanied by 50,000 soldiers, the
spokesperson said simply that this was a traditional Arab custom, showing
great respect for the hosting Chief of State.

The two men met intermittently throughout the day. Other Middle East
leaders were rumored to have secretly arrived, including the Egyptian and
Syrian presidents.

At 5:00 AM, that same morning, upon realization of the Iraqi troop
movements, the Israeli cabinet met in special session, followed by an
issuance of red alert status and a general call-up of all military
reserves, including battle units, naval staff, pilots and women recently
released from military service. The State of Israel came to a standstill.
Emergency calls were placed to the President of the United StatesRussia
and France, and the Prime Minister of England. All of these leaders refused
to speak with the Israeli leadership. A political spokesman for the US
President issued a statement saying, "The United States government
announced six months ago the cessation of all US activities in the Middle
East, following Israel's rejection of proposals put forth for a final
status resolution of the Arab-Israeli crisis. We warned then of serious
consequences, should our proposals be rejected. It appears likely that the
moment has arrived. We oppose all unnecessary violence and bloodshed and
call on all sides to immediately initiate the appropriate measures to
alleviate this crisis."

The Israeli leadership issued harsh warnings to the neighboring Arab
states, calling on them to demand an immediate withdrawal of Iraqi troops
from Jordan.

At 1:00 AM Friday morning, May 7th , the Iraqi army crossed the Jordanian
border into Jericho, in the newly declared Palestinian State.

At 3:00 AM Friday morning, the first Katusha rockets hit Tel-Aviv,
Jerusalem and Haifa. Scores of people were killed. Hundreds were injured
and thousands left homeless. Israel demanded an immediate meeting of the
UN General Assembly. A statement released by the Israeli cabinet threatened
military retaliation against PalestineJordan and Iraq if additional
attacks occurred.

At 10:00 AM Friday morning Yassir Arafat held a press conference, in the
presence of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Arafat decreed a war of
attrition of the State of Israel, which would stop only upon Israel's
acceptance of the 1967, pre-Six Day war borders. He insisted that all land
conquered in 1967 be relinquished, including the Jerusalem neighborhoods of
Ramot, Gilo and Ramat Eshkol.

Following Arafat's speech, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein spoke. In a
never-to-be-forgotten address, Hussein shocked the listening world by
announcing that Iraq had obtained nuclear weapons from unknown states,
which we assume include Pakistan and past Soviet block countries. Saddam
reminded his listeners of Israel's attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor
almost 20 years before. He said, in very clear and simple language, that he
would not hesitate to use his nuclear arsenal against Israel, should the
existence of the Palestinian State be jeopardized.

At 3:00 PM on Friday afternoon the Iraqi army began marching East, and by
nightfall was patrolling on the border of Israel and Palestine, less than
10 kilometers from Kfar Saba and Petach Tikva, less than 30 minutes from
Tel-Aviv, and less than 2 hours from Jerusalem.

On Shabbat evening at 11:00 PM the second round of Katusha rockets hit the
Israeli population in cities throughout the country. A third round of
Katushas fell at 4:00 AM.

At 7:30 AM on Saturday morning May 8th, scattered shooting began along the
border. A dozen Israeli soldiers were killed. The Israeli cabinet, meeting
in an almost unprecedented Shabbat conference, called upon the United
 to intervene immediately, to end Iraqi and Palestinian aggression.
The United States government refrained from any reply. At 9:00 Arafat and
Saddam again held a live press conference. Arafat announced that Israel had
24 hours to agree to terms of surrender, relinquishing all remaining parts
of Judea, Samaria and Gazza. He informed the world that should Israel
refuse, at 9:00 the next morning Iraqi and Palestinian troops would invade
Israel proper.

Israeli leaders met through the day and into the evening. At 10:00 PM
Israel released the following statement: "The State of Israel is in danger
of extinction. Fifty thousand enemy troops are stationed on the border of
our country. We have been viciously attacked and hundreds of civilians
murdered. We are being threatened with nuclear attack.

We demand that the Iraqi army immediately leave Palestine and return to
Iraq. Should this demand not be complied with within 10 hours from now, the
Israeli Armed Forces will begin a counter attack aimed at pushing the Iraqi
army back into Jordan, at the very least, and reconquering the lands
captured in 1967 and transferred to the Palestinian Authority as a result
of the Oslo Accords and the three further redeployments.

Should the Israeli government decide that the end of the State of Israel is
imminent, short range nuclear weapons aimed at AmmanCairoDamascus and
Baghdad will be fired, causing mass destruction within these cities. Long
range ballistic nuclear warheads will be fired at major European industrial
centers. The Saudi Arabian oil fields will also be destroyed. The United
 will not be immune from the long arm of Israeli retribution, should
the Jewish State face ultimate destruction."

Yesterday morning, Sunday, May 9, at 8:00 AM the Iraq retreat began. By
4:00 in the afternoon no more Iraqi troops were in Palestine.

At 9:00 PM tens of thousands of Israel citizens surrounded the Knesset,
meeting in special session in Jerusalem, and attacked. All cabinet
ministers in the previous and present administrations were incarcerated, as
were former Prime Minister Peres and Netanyahu. According to indictment
prepared against them, they are to be charged with crimes against the
Jewish people, leading to relinquishment of large land areas in Eretz
Yisrael and the endangerment of the Jewish State.

At 8:00 this morning, Monday, May 10, 1999 I was sworn in as the new Prime
Minister of Israel. My first orders to the Chief of Staff were to liberate
the lands given to Arafat. Israeli troops engaged in fierce fighting
throughout Judea, Samaria and Gazza. There were many casualties. However,
as the events of the past few days have proven, we had no choice.

At 2:15 this afternoon Jordanian King Hussein dropped dead of an apparent
heart attack. Upon learning of this news, Yassir Arafat declared a general
retreat into Jordan, abandoned the West Bank of the Jordan River, and fled
into Amman. His troops followed him and are now battling the Jordanian
Armed Legion for control of the state. Arafat has already declared a
temporary/permanent Palestinian government-in-exile in the New Palestine.

We have learned our lesson - albeit the hard way. We have come home to our
land, and we will never, ever again, leave it, so help us G-d.