Monday, October 25, 1999

From Hebron to Elon Moreh

October 25, 2004

Next week Hebron will celebrate Shabbat Chaye Sarah – when we read in the Torah about Abraham’s purchase of Ma’arat HaMachpela, some three thousand seven hundred years ago. Tens of thousands of Jews from around the world will arrive in Hebron for this festive event.
However, Hebron is not the only Yesha city to rejoice. This past weekend my family visited the Elon Moreh community in the Shomron. We read in the Torah how Abraham, when he arrived in Eretz Yisrael, stopped first in Elon Moreh, before continuing south to Beit El, and later, Hebron.
Elon Moreh, situated just south of the holy city of Shechem, has a rich biblical history. But its legacy does not end in the Bible. Yehuda, Shomron and Gaza were liberated during the June, 1967 Six-Day War. A few months later the Israeli government officially okayed the renewal of a Jewish community in Gush Etzion, about 15 kilometers south of Jerusalem. Gush Etzion had fallen to the Jordanians on May 14, 1948, the day the State of Israel was declared.

In the spring of 1968 a group of families arrived at hotel in Hebron to celebrate the Passover holiday. That, in turn, led to the founding of Kiryat Arba in the fall of 1971. One of the early settlers was a young man named Benny Katzover. He studied at the new Kiryat Arba yeshiva, and took an active role rebuilding the land.
This past Shabbat I heard Benny Katzover, now a resident of Elon Moreh, speak about those formative years. He stressed that following the establishment of Kiryat Arba, he waited for others to take the initiative to begin resettling and rebuilding Samaria, the Shomron. Years went by and nothing happened.
During the winter of 1974, under the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, a group of people, including Rabbi Moshe Levinger, Rabbi Haim Druckman, Hanan Porat, Katzover, and others, founded Gush Emunim, ‘the Block of the Faithful. One of their first challenges was resettlement of the Shomron. Benny Katzover, seeing that no one had taken up the gauntlet, began to work. Plans were made, people were drafted, and then, it was time to move. It took eight attempts over a period of months, until finally, in the winter of 1975, over 2,000 Jews arrived at Sabastia, in the Shomron, and broke the government’s resistance to a Jewish presence in the heartland of Israel.
Benny Katzover later became mayor of the Shomron region, and for many years was a leader in initiating, building and developing the Shomron.
One of Benny’s children, Menora married Ariel Hazani, the son of another Yesha pioneer, the late Yehuda Hazani. Hazani, a Torah scholar and student of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, was one of those rare individuals who knew how to implement spiritual ideas in a worldly manner. He was known for his legendary organizational ability, bringing thousands and thousands of people to rallies, demonstrations, and other such events.

Hazani, a true lover of Eretz Yisrael, was not bound by the borders of cities and neighborhoods, loved to travel the country and was an avid mountain climber. Unfortunately, during one these trips, Yehuda Hazani, while overlooking Eretz Yisrael from the peaks, slipped, fell and was killed. A Gush Katif community, Netzer Hazani, which literally means the stem of Hazani, was named in his memory.
This past Shabbat at Elon Moreh, I was one of the lucky ones who was able to experience a really special event. This past Shabbat we read in the weekly Torah portion how G-d commanded Abraham to walk, to leave his home, his country, and his family, ‘to the land which I will show you.’ This land is, of course, Eretz Yisrael. As I mentioned a few minutes ago, Abraham’s first stop in the Land was Elon Moreh, today a beautiful, thriving community with hundreds of families. We also read about G-d’s commandment to Abraham to circumcise himself, an eternal covenant between himself, his offspring and the Almighty.
A week ago Saturday, Benny Katzover’s daughter, Menorah Hazani, gave birth to their first son. So the ‘brit milah,’ the baby’s circumcision, was to be performed eight days later, in other words, this past Shabbat. At the conclusion of Shabbat morning prayers, after reading in the Torah about Elon Moreh, after hearing of Abraham’s willingness to perform G-d’s commandment to circumcise himself when he was ninety-nine years old, Ariel and Menora Hazani’s son was brought into the covenant of Avraham Avinu there, at Elon Moreh, and was named for his illustrious grandfather, Yehuda Hazani. It was quite an emotional event.
And I must not neglect to mention that Ariel and Menora live, not in Elon Moreh, but at the community of Homesh, in the northern Shomron, one of the four Shomron communities Sharon has threatened to destroy, together with Gush Katif.
People such as Benny Katzover, Yehuda Hazani, and many others, a number of whom participated in the special Elon Moreh Shabbat, were the initiators, founders, the builders. They laid the cornerstone for future generations and paved the path, thereby allowing their offspring to follow in their footsteps. However, as every parent knows, the future is always a question mark. A parent can lay out the roadmap, but whether or not the children will follow the marked route is up them, it’s their choice. Ariel and Menora Hazani are perfect examples of traveling a straight line, following the map in the right direction. From Hebron and Kiryat Arba, to Sebastia and Elon Moreh, following in the footsteps of their father’s and their father’s fathers – all the way back to our Forefathers.
When visitors ask me to explain our faith, to explain our optimism, I can readily point to young couples like the Hazanis, who are carrying the torch, sparks of light amongst many shadows. Such sparks are so important and necessary, especially today, with all that is happening.
This is the trail followed by Abraham, still traveled by his offspring, four thousand years later. From Elon Moreh to Hebron, from Hebron to Elon Moreh – this is the heritage of our people; this is the eternity of our Land; this is the legacy of Elon Moreh.
With blessings from Hebron.

Monday, October 18, 1999

Eretz Yisrael is Not For Sale

So, what’s the answer?
Is the magic solution a national referendum? Can we legitimately decide the fate of Eretz Yisrael in a national election? Who can participate in such a crucial ballot? May ‘leaders’ of Yesha, and more specifically, those people participating in the ‘Yesha Council’ rightfully take responsibility to claim that ‘we will accept the results of a referendum’ dealing with chopping up our land?
The only answer to these questions is an unconditional NO!
Let’s examine these questions, and their possible answers in greater detail.
First: Who has the right to take part in a referendum about Eretz Yisrael. Let’s take into account that we’re not talking about how high taxes should be, who must participate in active army service, or other such mundane issues. We are not even discussing whether or not a Jew has the legitimate right to live in Eretz Yisrael. We are talking about evicting Jews from Eretz Yisrael. We are talking about unilaterally abandoning our land to sworn enemies who have murdered, in cold blood, over 1,500 people in the past ten years, since the “Oslo piece accords” left our land in pieces. We are talking about fleeing a land area bordering Israeli cities, which will be controlled by a ‘palestinian prime minister,’ who said, only a few days ago, "Unfortunately, up to now the Palestinian security forces have not been able to control this situation and we bear a very big responsibility for this," Qurei was quoted as saying in al-Ayyam, a Palestinian daily. "There's still chaos, still killing." (Greg Myre – The New York Times – Friday, Oct. 15, 2004). \
So, who has the right to vote? There has been much talk about who can vote. For example, can hundreds of thousands of Arabs, ‘citizens’ of the State of Israel participate in such an election. Or, what kind of majority is necessary for such an issue to be decided: a regular 50% plus one majority, or sixty percent of the population?
However, I’m not referring to these questions, as legitimate as they are. My sights are set on Jews who live in New York, Buenos Aires, Paris, Johannesburg, or, even in Oslo. Eretz Yisrael belongs to the Jewish people, ALL the Jewish people, wherever they may be. Some live here, in the State of Israel, and many others, (unfortunately), still reside elsewhere. But that does not mean that these millions of people may be silenced, that their voices cannot be heard, when dealing with our land. It is theirs, just as much as it is mine. For many years I have told groups “Hebron belongs to you as much as it does to me. The difference is, we live here, and today, you don’t. We are the keeper of the keys, ensuring that Hebron will always be accessible to whoever wishes to visit here.
So it is too about Gush Katif, so it is too about Homesh and Sanur in the Shomron, so it is too about Tel Aviv and Kiryat Shemona. Citizens of the State of Israel, living in our land, are the keepers of the keys, keeping our Eretz Yisrael Jewish, for the Jewish people. But it is our land, whether we live here or not.
How can we, in Israel, leave our brethren out in the cold? How can it be decided to amputate a living, healthy limb from a healthy living body, without consulting with the patient, whose limb is to be severed? The patient isn’t only Avraham in Hebron, Yitzhak in Jerusalem, and Ya’akov in Eilat. The body, Eretz Yisrael, a G-dly possession, has been delegated to the Jewish people, including the Avrahams, Yitzhaks and Ya’akovs who live in Alaska, Melbourne, and Tokyo. What about them?
Second: Concerning the Yesha council (The Council of Judea, Samaria and Gaza). Yesterday a delegation of Yesha leaders met with Sharon about the planned ‘disengagement.’ Speaking after the meeting they, labeled it a disgrace, calling the Prime Minister ‘unyielding and heartless.’ One of them men was quoted as saying, ‘either someone is controlling Sharon or he is taking Prozac or another tranquilizer.

One of the purported goals of this meeting was to convince Sharon to accept a national referendum to determine the fate of Gush Katif. One of the questions put to these men by various journalists is, “will you accept the results of such a plebiscite?” This morning, the Maariv-NRG web site quoted these men as saying, “we will honor a clear result of a national referendum.” They did not guarantee to end all protest should the referendum pass, but did promise to conduct opposition in a ‘more relaxed atmosphere.’
I have written before, and I reiterate here: Yesha council leaders have no mandate to decide whether or not Yesha residents will ‘accept’ or reject the results of such a referendum. A vast majority of Yesha council leaders are elected mayors of their respective towns or municipal areas. They were elected to provide municipal services to their constituents. They were not elected by the general Yesha population and have no collective power to make such fateful decisions ‘in the name of Yesha citizens.’
Third and most importantly: Can the question of Eretz Yisrael be decided in a national referendum? The obvious answer: Of course not. Why? Very simply, Eretz Yisrael does not belong to us. What about our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. How can we deny them their land? It belongs to them too. What right do we have to deny them their birthright, especially when the question is not whether or not to ‘conquer the land’ rather, it is to simply stay put. How can we give away what belongs to them too.
But most notably: Eretz Yisrael is a G-d – given land, it belongs to Him, He gave it to us. One does not give away, abandon, or run away from G-d –given gifts. A week ago we began reading the Torah – the Five Books of Moses, from the beginning. The most important Biblical commentator, Rashi – Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzhak, living in France almost a thousand years ago, understood, even then, the controversy surrounding Eretz Yisrael. His first Biblical commentary asks why the Torah beings with “In the beginning” and doesn’t begin with the commencement of the Jewish people, in the days of Moses. His answers concisely, “Thus, should the nations of the world say to Israel, ‘You are robbers, for you have taken by force the lands of the Seven Nations,’ they [Israel] will say to them: "All the earth belongs to G-d. He created it and gave it to whomever He saw fit. It was His will to give it to them and it was His will to take it from them and give it to us." For this reason will read next Shabbat how Abraham was commanded to go – to walk to Eretz Yisrael.
So, what’s the answer? No elections, no referendums, no negotiations. Rather, to know, to understand, to internalize, once and for all, Eretz Yisrael is not for sale, not even to the highest bidder, not at any cost. None of it, not now, not ever.
With blessings from Hebron.

Monday, October 11, 1999

Asher Barah Sasson v’Simcha

October 11, 2004

Last week, during the Succot holiday, Hebron hosted well over 40,000 visitors to the city of Abraham. The streets teemed full of people, women, children, men, walking from neighborhood to neighborhood, from site to site. Special tours of the kasba, usually off-limits to Jews, added an exceptional flavor to the festivities, as well as group visits to the Cave of Otniel ben Knaz, the first judge in Eretz Yisrael, thousands of years ago. And of course, let’s not forget the main attraction, Ma’arat HaMachpela, filled to the brim, with crowds waiting on line outside for a chance to pray inside. Loudspeakers outside the 2,000 year old structure requested that visitors shorten their prayers in order to allow others to worship also, without having to wait hours on line.
In short, it was an amazing week, a true sign of Am Yisrael’s support for Hebron’s Jewish community. And not only that. Without any doubt, all those tens of thousands who visited Hebron, as well as other communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, fully espouse continued Jewish presence in Neve Dekalim, Kfar Darom, Netzarim, and all the other heroic communities in Gush Katif. The over 8,500 people living in Gush Katif should know that Am Yisrael stands with them and behind them, forever.
Following such an uplifting week, you might expect that this week would be something of a letdown, getting back to the normalcy of a regular week. But we are far from that. Hebron’s spirit keeps reaching higher and higher. Last night was one such example of Hebron reaching for the stars.
The evening didn’t begin after sunset. Actually it began early yesterday afternoon, with a large group of people running around outside Ma’arat HaMachpela, in the Machpela gardens. There, tables and chairs were unloaded, and a caterer began practicing his expertise: transforming an outdoors garden-park into an exquisite banquet hall. The tables were adorned, serving areas set up, and after a few hours of hard work, everything was ready.
Next to Ma’arat HaMachpela a Chupa, or bridal canopy, was assembled. And a little ways away, a white chair was placed under a tree on the Machpela lawn. A couple of hours later the young bride sat in that chair, waiting for her soon-to-be husband to come get her.
But this was not to be an ordinary wedding. In truth, I don’t know if there is ever an ‘ordinary wedding.’ Every wedding is special. But sometimes, a wedding represents more than a personal affair between two people, two families. So it was last night.
In truth, last night’s wedding begins, maybe almost a hundred years ago, when Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook, later to be Israel’s first Chief Rabbi, arrived in the ‘Holy Land,’ in Eretz Yisrael. But if I begin there, this commentary will stretch out over a few weeks, rather than a few minutes. So I’ll begin over a decade ago, when Rav Kook’s grandson, Rabbi Shlomo Ra’anan and his wife Chaya, came to live in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron. Rabbi Ra’anan, a brilliant Torah scholar in his own right, was a very humble man, lived a very simple life, and traveled daily to study at the Jerusalem Torah center his grandfather founded many years earlier, Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav. The Ra’anan’s lived in an ‘ordinary’ two-room caravan home in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, with six other families. He was a happy man, a constant smile covering his face, who knew all of the children in Hebron by name, and loved to give them candy, always found in his pockets.
It was just over six years ago, at about eleven o’clock at night. Sixty-three year old Rabbi Ra’anan bade goodnight to his wife, who was sitting in their small living room, and started to get ready for his evening’s rest. Only hours before, having returned from Jerusalem, he participated in a wedding outside Ma’arat HaMachpela. He was photographed there, radiating joy, as always. He was invited to stay for the party, but preferred to go home to be with his wife, and to rest in preparation for the following day’s trip back to Jerusalem.
As he was getting ready for bed, an Arab terrorist suddenly jumped through the room’s open window, and began stabbing the Rabbi. Screaming, Rabbi Ra’anan ran into the living room, with the terrorist following. There, a macabre tug-of-war developed between the terrorist and Chaya Ra’anan, both pulling at the Rabbi, in between them. The terrorist, knife in hand, continued stabbing the Rabbi, until he collapsed. He looked for a moment at Chaya, and then fled through the back window, but not before he ignited and hurled a fire bomb inside the Rabbi’s room.
Chaya quickly pulled her fatally wounded husband outside, to escape the flames of the quickly spreading fire. Others in the neighborhood were able to extinguish the fire before it spread throughout the neighborhood, but they were unable to save their beloved neighbor. Rabbi Shlomo Ra’anan was buried the next day, early Friday afternoon, on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Temple Mount in Jerusalem, next to his grandfather, Rav Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook, and his uncle, Rav Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook. Earlier he was eulogized before thousands, outside his grandfather’s yeshiva, Merkaz HaRav.
Chaya Ra’anan continued to live in her caravan home in Tel Rumeida. The room where her husband was killed was transformed into a study center, and her son-in-law, Rabbi Yisrael Shlissel, Rabbi of a small community in the Shomron, began traveling daily to Hebron to teach young married men, preparing for Rabbinic exams. One morning, while driving on the TransJudea road, a few kilometers outside of Hebron, Rabbi Shlissel suddenly saw an armed Arab standing in the road, in front of his car. The terrorist opened fire with his automatic weapon, at the car. Rabbi Shlissel, having no where to go, simply ducked, putting his head down under the dashboard, with his foot still on the gas pedal. Miraculously he was not hit.
You might expect that following such a traumatic event, Rabbi Shlissel would have bid farewell to teaching in Hebron. Perhaps he might even have suggested that his mother-in-law, Rabbi Ra’anan’s widow, join him and his wife elsewhere.
Well, maybe someone else, but not the Shlissels or the Ra’anans. A short time later Rabbi Yisrael Shlissel, together with his wife, the Ra'anan's daughter, Tzippy, and their many children, moved into the Avraham Avinu neighborhood in Hebron. They too had to weather barrages of bullets, shot at their home from the Abu Sheneh hills, less than a kilometer away. But, like the rest of us, their faith carried the day, and they began living regular lives in Hebron.
Last night Rabbi Yisrael and Tzippy Shlissel, together with Chaya Ra’anan, and at least a thousand other people, participated in the wedding of the Shlissel’s oldest son, Shimshon, to a lovely young woman, Miriam Haas, from Beit El. The wedding, in the plaza outside Ma’arat HaMachpela, was a tremendously joyous affair, which included participation of Rabbi Avraham Shapira, former Israeli Chief Rabbi, and one of the undisputed leaders of the nationalist-religious movement today.
The throng sang traditional wedding tunes as the Rabbi married Shimshon and Miriam, only meters from the cave purchased by Abraham, almost 4,000 years ago, here in Hebron. As the ceremony ended, a friend of mine whispered to me, “I get the feeling that the grandfather (Rabbi Ra’anan) is here with them.” I added, “not only is he here, but the great-great grandfather (Rabbi Kook), is certainly here too.”
And as the crowd sang, “Asher Barah Sasson v’Simcha” – (G-d, who created joy and happiness), I could almost see them, Rav Shlomo Ra’anan, together with his grandfather, Rav Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook, and his uncle, Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, singing and dancing together, in the shadows of Ma’arat HaMachpela, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, illuminating the site with an overwhelming sanctity of ‘sasson v’simcha’, joy and happiness, together with the bride and groom, the ‘chatan v’kallah.’
With blessings from Hebron.

Tuesday, October 5, 1999

The Iranian Connection

October 5, 2004

We have all been asking ourselves the same question, over and over again. Why? What happened to Ariel Sharon? Why is he insisting that Israel abandon Gush Katif and evict people from their homes?
The difficulty is compounded following the tragic events at the end of last week: Kasam missiles hitting Sderot, killing two babies, aged two and four. And this on the heels of the terror mortars and missiles in Neve Dekalim, which left a young woman dead, soldiers killed, and a mother of two shot to death by terrorists.
For the past couple of days Israeli troops have, much to the chagrin of the Europeans, moved en masse into several key strategic points in Gaza, including the infamous Jabalia refugee camp. Dozens of terrorists have been wiped out, including major producers of Kassam missiles, and those who operate them. This, in order to prevent further attacks on Sderot.
In a radio interview late Saturday night, Sharon emphasized that all rocket attacks on Sderot and ‘other Israeli communities must be stopped completely, ‘allowing the eviction to take place quietly,’ i.e., not under fire. Of course, it must be asked why Sharon didn’t take major offensive action many months ago, thereby preventing literally thousands of daily attacks on Gush Katif communities. It is quite clear that the State of Israel, according Sharon, is divided into different types of people: there are those who live in cities like Sderot, who have real red blood, and then there are others, like those living in Netzarim, Kfar Darom and Neve Dekelim, whose blood isn’t quite so red. Jewish sacrifices in Sderot are unacceptable; Jewish blood spilled in Gush Katif is another story.
What is imponderable is what exactly Sharon expects will occur following (G-d forbid), the retreat from Gaza. Israeli forces will totally pull out, leaving the entire southern border open to attack. Hamas has promised, time after time, to hit Ashkelon. Does Sharon believe that Hamas terrorists are liars? Hamas doesn’t lie – it tells the truth. They believe in the destruction of the State of Israel and they say it. They promise to kill Jews, and unfortunately, they do it. They guarantee that they will bomb Ashkelon, and I have not doubts that they will do their best to fulfill their pledge. And they have no plans to stop there.
So what does Sharon think – that fleeing from Gaza will solve all our problems, that Hamas will turn into our best friends? Far from it. When you run away from terror, the terror just follows you, like a tail. You cannot escape it or avoid it. The only way to deal with terror is head on – to destroy it. Ariel Sharon is accomplishing exactly the opposite. And it is hard to believe that he doesn’t know it. So, what’s up?
The following thesis is conjecture only. I have no proof of what I am about to say. I don’t have ‘connections’ with ‘higher-ups’ who have ‘leaked’ information to me. Truthfully, it is very difficult, if not down right impossible to accurately analyze the current situation because there is too much that is unknown. You can only analyze a situation based on the data available. When critical data is unavailable, the analysis can only be defined as unreliable.
That having been said, I would like to offer a possible explanation of Ariel Sharon’s escapades. The key is Iran and the magic word is nuclear weapons.
Only a few days ago Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi said, "Nobody has the right to deny Iran its right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.” Last week, Iran defied the International Atomic Energy Agency by saying it was resuming the enrichment of uranium. Iranian Vice President Reza Aghazadeh said the country had started converting raw uranium into the gas needed for enrichment, an important step in making a nuclear bomb.
According to the internationally acclaimed security publication Janes, the Iranian reactor is an authentic nuclear threat: “A heavy water reactor is among the most dangerous in existence from a proliferation perspective…According to David Albright, Director of the Institute for Science and International Security, the IR-40 will be able to produce 8-10kg of plutonium per year - approximately one to two bombs' worth of nuclear material. The IAEA holds that 8kg of plutonium constitutes a "significant quantity" - enough to build a nuclear weapon. []
How is Israel reacting to the Iranian threat? Last week Defense Minister Shaul Mufaz stated that Israel has to be prepared to deal with what he called the Iranian “threat”.

“All options have to be taken into account to prevent it,” he was quoted as saying.

Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel is “taking measures to defend itself.”
What’s the connection between this and Gush Katif? My guess is this:
Ariel Sharon knows that Israel will have to strike first against the Iranian nuclear reactor, regarding this presently as the gravest strategic threat to Israel’s existence. He also knows that the mission may include preemptive strikes against Hizballah, stationed in Lebanon, and possibly also against Syria. He also knows that the entire world will condemn these actions.
In order to lessen the ‘damage’ as he sees it, before hitting Iran, he pulls Israel out of Gaza, in essence, saying to the world, ‘look, you see, I really want peace. I did what no other Israeli prime minister could do – now leave me alone and let me protect my country.’ Then Israeli warplanes bomb the Iranian reactor. In other words, in Sharon’s eyes, Gush Katif, and four Shomron communities are a necessary sacrifice in order to remove Iran from the nuclear club. He expects that the rest of the world will leave him alone after pulling Israeli families out of the homes.
He couldn’t be more wrong.
  1. Israel doesn’t need any excuses to destroy the Iranian threat. An Iranian nuclear bomb threatens not only Israel, but all of world peace. Where would we all be today if Israel hadn’t destroyed the Iraqi nuclear plant in 1981? Iranian Islamic fundamentalist leadership would have no qualms using the ‘bomb’ against Israel, nor would they hesitate to use it against any western nation, all of whom they view as ‘infidels.’
  2. Sharon’s fleeing from Gaza in order to placate world opinion creates, in itself, an existential threat to our state. True, if your leg is infected and must be amputated to save your life, then there is no choice. But in this case, the infection is left festering and the healthy limb is to be removed.
  3. This also establishes a very dangerous precedent for the future. Israel will be told, in no uncertain terms, ‘if you want to continue to protect yourself from outside threats, without international intervention, chop off another part of your body.'
  4. And perhaps most important, the world will never let us be. They assisted Hitler, actively or passively, sixty years ago. And they haven’t changed.
In other words, we must do whatever is necessary for self-preservation. And we must not play into the hands of our enemies, attempting to cosmetically ‘look good,’ in their eyes.
We must unconditionally guarantee destruction of the Iranian threat, we must stay put in all our land, and we must not allow the Iranian connection to disassemble our state.
With blessings from Hebron.

Friday, September 3, 1999

The New State

 The New State
September 3, 1999

The negotiators were literally trying to pound out an agreement. Loud raucous voices, fists slamming down on tables, chairs scrapping on the floor; these were the sounds emanating from behind the closed door.  The deadline for the proposed agreement was rapidly approaching and the impasse seemed beyond all hope. The implications of failure were catastrophic; both sides has issued ultimatums which, on the face of it, spelled disaster.

Finally quiet prevailed. One by one the negotiators filed out of the room, dismal expressions of defeat clouding their faces. The last out stopped in front of the waiting journalists, stared into the cameras, and issued a dispiriting one-line statement:  "The Prime Minister and the Chairman will meet in three days in an attempt to reach final agreement."

The whole world held its breath. Three days - three days to find a solution. The alternative was world conflagration, beginning in the Middle East.

The Israelis sat and paced, the Arabs paced and sat, each searching for a formula acceptable, promising peace and prosperity for all. To no avail.

On the third day, the two leaders met at the border crossing, the site of many previous meetings. Their faces exuded pessimism - they didn't even shake hands, as was their wont. Each was accompanied by two aids. The future of the world depended on these six people - these six people alone.

The discussion began slowly, each side trying to feel out the other's position. It quickly heated up and before long observers outside were fearful for the room's occupants.  It was reported that hurried phone calls were being placed to the Americans and Russians, and even to the Europeans. Perhaps a compromise was at hand?

For forty-eight hours no one entered the room and no one stepped foot outside. Food and drink were pushed inside on carts. It seemed that all hope was lost. But then the impossible happened. The door opened and the leaders emerged, wearing weary smiles of victory.

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, citizens around the world, we are happy to inform you that an agreement has been reached. These are the details:

We realized long ago that the traditional peace sought is unobtainable. Land concessions and security are contradictory terms. Whoever controls the land is secure. Whoever is without land is at risk.

We also realized that the two nations, each claiming the land for itself, each nation desiring to be free and independent of the other, would never be able to live side by side. This conflict, extending over thousands of years, will never be concluded by a signed piece of paper. So, we had to come up with an original solution, acceptable to both sides. Thankfully, that is what we have done.

A short time ago we reached a decision and were able to successfully conclude the negotiations. It was very difficult, and at times seemed impossible. However, we have breached the wall between us.

In order to reach this successful conclusion we had no choice but to flip a coin. Many hours were spent arguing about which coin we would use, what denomination is would be, from which country it would originate, who would actually flip the coin and of course, lastly, but most importantly, how we would decide who has heads and who has tails. With international intervention, and at this point we must thank the Americans, Russians, and Europeans for their incalculable assistance, we overcame these difficulties.

Eventually the coin was flipped, not here in this room, but on an international freighter in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Representatives of our peoples, together with the above-mentioned nations, proceeded to toss a coin originating in Oslo into the air. We decided on a one-time, winner-takes-all, procedure. That has been accomplished. We will soon begin implementation of the results.

Shortly, special photographers, using equipment not yet available to the public-at-large will commence with their work. The secret to their success is a new processing which develops actual three-dimensional pictures, both video and stills. They will scour the entire country, from North to South, from East to West. International guarantees have been granted. Nothing, but nothing, will be missed.

A team of experts will then process the film and production will begin. We expect to view the final product within a month, as they will work around the clock.

The most difficult stage of the negotiations dealt with the location of the final product. We are convinced that we have reached an agreement fair to both sides, and here again, with impeccable international promises.

As soon as all is ready a space capsule will be launched. Its destination will be the moon. All parties involved have guaranteed that this will be the last moon mission ever. Astronauts representing all our peoples will be responsible to set up the equipment and begin broadcasting. This should be accomplished within three months from today, as we have agreed and signed.

As soon as the station is up and running I will make my final announcement, as my people and I line up on the beaches in front of the Mediterranean sea. Yes, in answer to your questions, we have supplied guarantees that THE SEA WILL NOT PART. International observers to be present, just to make sure.

At that time, as we begin marching for the sake of international peace, it will be my greatest honor to declare the creation of the new State, (to be recognized of course, by the United Nations) of Virtual_Israel.

Wednesday, August 4, 1999

My Daddy is in Heaven

My Daddy is in Heaven
August 4, 1999

A little while ago I was sitting in a small hospital room together with
Baruch and Miriam ben Ya'akov and Ephraim and Anna Rosenstein. Baruch and
Ephraim were on their way into Hebron from Kiryat Arba last night when they
were shot at by Arab terrorists who ambushed them. Making their way down
the hilly, curvy road into the city, they made a right turn, only meters
from the Tomb of the Patriarchs - Ma'arat HaMachpela. As they turned, an
Arab terrorist armed with an M-16 rifle opened fire. Over a period of a few
seconds, seconds which sounded like an eternity, some 24 bullets were
discharged, in their direction, from almost point-blank range. Two
terrorists, hiding in a small gully on the side of the road, concluded
shooting and fled in the direction of the Arafat controlled section of

The car, driven by Baruch, stopped at the side of the road. Ephraim jumped
out, took cover behind the car, drew his gun and attempted to load it.
However he was unable to because two of his fingers had been ripped off by
the gunfire. He jumped back into the car and the two men continued a few
more meters, arriving at an army checkpoint in front of Ma'arat HaMachpela.
They were sped by jeep to a military base where they received first aid.
>>From there they were taken by ambulance to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem.

Ephraim lost part of two fingers on his right hand and was splattered by
shrapnel in his eyes, hands and forehead. Baruch's wounds were lesser. He
has shrapnel in his left shoulder.

I found the two men, together with their wives, in high spirits. Ephraim
answered phone calls from friends, calming them down, explaining to them
that he really is OK. He will probably he released from the hospital by the
end of this week or early next week, as will Baruch. Both couples,
realizing the tremendous miracle that had occurred, were almost joyous.
Twenty four bullets from an M-16 at point-blank range are not easy to
survive. Not only did they both survive, but their wounds can be described
as relatively mild, considering the alternatives.

Both of these men are no strangers to adversity. Ephraim Rosenstein came to
Israel from Russia. There he was chased around the country by people
attempting to kill him due to his Israel-Zionist activities. Anna
Rosenstein's father too was a major figure in the struggle against Soviet
oppression of Jews and Israel activists. Ephraim finally escaped, arrived
in the United States, and moved to Israel. A few years ago the couple
moved from their apartment in Kiryat Arba to a small 'caravan' home in the
Tel Hebron (Rumeida) neighborhood, in Hebron.

Baruch ben Ya'akov came to Israel from the United States many years ago. He
married a Russian woman and has lived both in Hebron and Kiryat Arba. About
six years ago, walking down the street in Hebron on a Friday morning, he
was stabbed in the neck. Fortunately the wound was superficial, and
required only a few stitches. He has a radiant personality, always
grinning, singing, and happy. Tonight he was no different.

Earlier this afternoon I visited one of Hebron's nursery schools. As I
arrived I found a group of happy little children scampering around on the
lawn. The woman watching them smiled at me and said hello. Every time I see
her at the nursery school I cannot help but think back to a cold January
morning, less than a year ago. Flori Hofi, together another nursery school
teacher, was shot by Arab terrorists at almost the exact spot where the
attack took place last night. Flori's wounds weren't critical. A bullet
entered one leg and exited from the other leg. She was back at the nursery
school after a few months. Today she was at work, as usual.

As I was standing there, suddenly one of the children caught my eye. A
little blond boy in a red shirt, pranced around with the others - one of
Ephraim and Anna Rosenstein's children, Elchanan.

Two people, a small boy and a middle-aged woman, with something very unique
in common. Elchanan's father was almost killed last night at the very site
where his nursery school teacher was almost murdered just seven months ago.

At the hospital the two men gave accounts of the attack and we spoke about
their medical condition. I told them that I had been talking to a friend in
the Avraham Avinu neighborhood when the shots were fired. Hearing the long
burst of automatic fire, we both waited a minute for the sound of sirens, a
sure confirmation that 'something had happened.' When there were no sirens,
we went our separate ways. As I arrived home a couple of minutes later, all
hell broke loose. Jeeps speeding by, soldiers running every which way, and
walkie-talkies squawking endlessly.

I also recounted to Ephraim and Anna that I had met their little son
Elchanan earlier in the day, at his nursery school. Anna Rosenstein looked
at me and said, "You know, this morning Elchanan went to nursery school and
told all his friends that his Daddy is now in heaven."

Tonight I printed out some pictures of Ephraim that I photographed at his
hospital bedside in an attempt to convince little Elchanan that his father
is not in heaven, but is alive and recovering. Elchanan was already asleep
when I arrived at his house. But the babysitter assured me that Ephraim
had spoken to Elchanan earlier on the phone, thereby relieving the little
boy's anxieties about his father's death. I left the pictures for him to
see in the morning, hoping that they will quell any lingering doubts he
may still have. A picture of Mommy and Daddy together, ever if Daddy is
missing a couple of fingers, should do the trick until Daddy comes home in
a couple of days.

With that, we have no choice but to remember, and remember we will, that
Elchanan's daddy really was very very close to heaven last night. 

Friday, July 30, 1999

The Lessons of 1929

The Lessons of 1929
July 30, 1999

Not too long ago a journalist visiting Hebron asked me why the Jewish Community of Hebron so stubbornly refuses to accept protection from the Palestinian Authority. “After all,” he stated, “it is probable that in the near future all of Hebron will be part of the Palestinian State, including the Jewish neighborhoods where you live. Then you will have no choice but to accept protection from Yassir Arafat’s police force.”

Exactly seventy years ago, four Jews, three men and a woman, made their way from Jerusalem to Hebron. The woman’s name was then Rachel Yanait. She later married Yitzhak ben Zvi, the second president of Israel. The group came to Hebron representing the Haganah and brought with them weapons. The message they brought was not optimistic. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini was stirring up trouble.  His incitement was likely to lead to violence.

They offered the weapons to Hebron’s Jewish community as a means of protection, just in case the rioting reached Hebron. But Hebron’s leadership was not worried. The previous riots in 1921 left Hebron untouched. Hebron’s Arabs and Jews lived together as one big family. There were Arabs who spoke Yiddish and the Jews spoke Arabic. They attended each other’s weddings and other festivities. The Jewish women left their small children with the Arab neighbors when they attended to marketing. Rabbi Dov Cohen, now 87, then a 17 year old yeshiva student, told us how a group of young men hiked to Tarkumia, a few kilometers outside of Hebron. There, the Arab women greeted them with song and dance.

Hebron’s Jewish leadership refused to take the weapons, saying that they would only be interpreted as a provocation. The four members of the Haganah were politely thanked and sent back to Jerusalem as they had arrived, weapons in hand.

The riots and massacre occurring Friday evening and Saturday morning left 67 Hebron Jews dead and over 70 wounded. First-hand accounts of the atrocities speak of the unspeakable: rape, torture, castration. People were literally hacked to pieces. The British officer, Capperata, did nothing to try and stop the attacks. His Arab police force stood idly by while Jews screamed for help. A small number of Arabs hid Jewish families, effectively saving their lives. But the results spoke for themselves.

The British rounded up the survivors in the police station, then located at Beit Romano. They were left on the basement floor for three days, without food or water. The Jews were then evicted to Jerusalem, bringing to an abrupt end a Jewish community hundreds and thousands of years old. The British also prevented any pictures from being photographed in Hebron. The atrocities were vehemently denied.

After the questioning journalist heard these accounts he continued to query. “Do you then believe that all of Hebron’s Arab residents are terrorists.”

I explained to him that the perpetrators of 1929 massacre were friends and neighbors of the Jews the mutilated and slaughtered. One of the most loved Arabs in Hebron, a man named Issa, worked for the baker, Noah Immerman. Issa spoke Yiddish. Issa tortured his employer and then killed him. “If this is what happened when the Jews and Arabs were on friendly terms, what would happen today if Hebron’s Arabs thought they had the opportunity to repeat their deeds of August 1929 and get away with it?”

However, the lessons of 1929 reach much further than Hebron. During the 1929 riots Jews were killed in Jerusalem, Motza, Jaffa, and Safed. Hebron was the climax of Amin el-Husseini’s incitement. The present Arab leadership, including el-Husseini’s cousin, Yassir Arafat, and his nephew, Feisel el-Husseini, know too that it takes little to stir up the masses. Feisel el-Husseini proved this while orchestrating a decade of Intifada. Arafat proved it almost four years ago following the ‘tunnel opening” in Jerusalem, causing a minor war and leading to the deaths of Israeli soldiers.

The lessons of 1929 must teach us, not only in Hebron, but throughout the State of Israel, that we cannot and must not put our trust or our lives in the hands of anyone except ourselves. Surely we must not depend upon the ‘protection’ of a Palestinian armed force. Almost 300 Jews have been killed since Oslo began on the White House lawn in 1993. This, in spite of the fundamental premise of Oslo that the Palestinians will prevent violence and terror against Jews. Senior military officers admit that without cooperation from the Palestinian police force, Oslo is doomed to failure. In other words, our safety, as individuals and as a country, -  our lives and existance, are in their hands.

In Hebron, in 1929, we learned this lesson once, the hard way. There is no reason why should have to learn the lesson again, be it in Hebron, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or anywhere in the State of Israel.

David Wilder is a spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Hebron

Monday, July 26, 1999


July 26, 1999

Today will be recorded as an infamous date in the annuls of Jewish-Israeli history. This day may be recalled as the commencement of Arafat's assault of Jerusalem, strange as it may be, less than a week after Tisha b'Av, the day we mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples. Historians will probably have difficulty explaining the inexplicable: How was it that the Jewish leadership of the Jewish state actually opened the door to our archenemies and invited them to besiege us!? And ironically, at the same time as the foe was greeted, the friend was expelled.
What am I talking about? This afternoon Abu-Ala, the otherwise called Ahmed Qurie, Chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gazza, visited the Knesset at the invitation of Israeli Knesset Speaker Avrum Burg.
Who is Abu Ala?
According to an official PLC web site ( Abu-Ala was born in Abu Dis, Jerusalem, Palestine and spent 14 years in banking until 1968 when he devoted his time completely to the FATAH Movement. He was heavily involved in the "FATAH" Movement from its early beginnings as a member of its Revolutionary Council until he was elected as a member of its Central Committee in 1989.
Aside from these past terrorist activities with the PLO, Abu-Ala is now an articulate spokesman for Arafat's policies. Late last December, Abu-Ala, being interviewed by Arafat's daily newspaper in Gazza, El-Hayat el Jadidah, defined the borders of the 'soon-to-be created' palestinian state. He said then that they would be determined, not by the June 4, 1967 pre-Six Day War borders, but rather, by United Nations resolution 181. UN resolution 181 dates back to November 29, 1947 and is more commonly recognized as the 'partition plan' which divided Eretz Yisrael into 'an Arab entity and a Jewish entity' in his words.
Abu-Ala said, "the fact that we didn't take advantage of that resolution then doesn't mean that the it is invalid today." What Abu-Ala ignores is that Ben Gurion accepted the partition plan, not because he liked it, but because he had no choice. The Arabs rejected it and declared war on us. From November 30, 1947 until December 12 of that year 79 Jews were killed in Israel. From November 30 until December 31, the number rose to 200 Jews murdered by Arabs. On May 14, 1948, with the declaration of the Jewish State of Israel, they officially declared war, with the intention of wiping us off the map. That was the Arab reaction to UN resolution 181.
What other gems has Abu-Ala come up with? (ZOA Press Release: July 22, 1998)
The Jerusalem Post reported on July 13, 1997, "Qurei walked over a freshly burned Israeli flag during a protest in Ramallah [on July 12, 1997]...A TV camera caught Palestinian protesters burning an Israeli flag as leading Palestinian Authority and PLO officials watched. Witnesses said Qurei smiled as he watched two Palestinian men burn the flag and then stepped over its charred remains.
"If Israel does not honor the agreements, the Palestinians will also ask for Haifa, Jaffa, and Safed [cities within Israel's pre-1967 borders]...The response to the continuation of the occupation will be more dangerous than the intifada...the arms available...and the organizing is better than in the past...The alternative to peace will be bad for the Israelis, something which they do not want. The Palestinian people will oppose the occupation, from children to adults, including the Palestinian police. The Israelis must know that the Palestinians have many options and choices." (Qurei, in an interview with the Tunisian newspaper Al Sabach, quoted in Ha'aretz, December 6, 1996)
Asked by the BBC Radio on February 17, 1997, what the Arab response would be if Israel built houses in the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem, Qurei replied: "No doubt there will be an explosion."
"Abu Ala, one of the Oslo accord's architects, threatened if Palestinian demands are not met, 'We'll take a different route and return to the past.'" (Jerusalem Post, June 5, 1996)
In an interview with the Cairo radio station Sawt Al Arab, "Qurei called for a firm Arab stance to prove that there would be neither peace nor normalization of relations between Israel and the Arabs if the Jewish state continues its settlement activities in the Palestinian land." (Xinhua News Agency, Aug. 5, 1996)
Asked by the BBC Radio on February 17, 1997, which parts of Jerusalem should be negotiated between Israel and the PLO, Qurei replied: "Not East or West--Jerusalem, the whole of Jerusalem."
And the list goes on and on and on.
It is also interesting to understand WHO invited this terrorist to visit the Israeli parliament. Perhaps this is the place to interject a short, true story, appropriate to this date and time.
In the late summer of 1929, in the midst of the riots and massacre which left 67 Jews dead in Hebron, an Arab landlord named Abu Zeini, on his way to Jerusalem, returned speedily to Hebron, to the home of his Jewish tenants, Rabbi Ya'akov Slonim and his family. Seeing a bloodthirsty mob approaching the house, he stood on the steps outside, blocking their way. He refused to allow the other Arabs into the house, telling them that they would have to kill him first. A knife blade was placed against his throat, drawing blood, but not causing any real damage. Finally the mob went elsewhere, and Rabbi Slonim, his wife and daughter were saved. The daughter, Rivka Slonim, later married Yosef Burg, an important Israeli Israeli politician with the National Religious Party. He served as a minister in several Israeli governments. Yosef and Rivka Burg's son is the present Speaker of the Israeli Knesset, Avrum Burg.
What are Avrum Burg's thoughts concerning Hebron? A few years ago, following Netanyahu's election, Burg participated in a live television interview broadcast from Hebron. On camera, his Hebron counterpart, Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, welcomed Burg back home to Hebron, the city of his direct descendants, going back to the early 1800s. Burg exploded. Following the show, when we tried to speak calmly with Avrum Burg about Jewish heritage in Hebron, Burg, (who is a 'religious' Jew), shook his finger at us and furiously exclaimed, "Bnei Esav Atem - Bnei Esav Atem" which translated literally means, "You are the sons of Esau (Isaac's son - Jacob's brother)."
This same Avrum Burg invited Abu Ala to officially visit the Israeli Knesset, five days before the 70th anniversary of the massacre in Hebron.
At the same time that this Arab terrorist was in the Knesset, three former members of the outlawed Kach movement were invited to visit the Israeli parliament by MK Michael Kleiner, in protest of the Abu Ala disgrace. However Israeli security guards refused to let them in. Eventually they gained entrance and met with MK Kleiner in his office. Shortly after their arrival, members of the Knesset guard demanded that they be expelled from the Knesset because MKs Achmad Tibi and Talab A'sana complained that the former Kachniks had yelled at them 'terrorists.' Their host, MK Kleiner, refused to hand the three Jews over to the Knesset guard. Only after they concluded their meeting did they agree to leave the Knesset of their own accord.
Israel is suffering from AIDS, twice over. AIDS are initials for the ARABS IN DISGUISE SYNDROME. The Arabs are 'dressing up' as good guys, and are slowly but surely infiltrating Israel. (So we have also witnessed with the appointment of Arab MK terrorists to the most sensitive Knesset committee, dealing with security and defense issues. They will undoubtedly be a direct pipeline to those who most need such secret information, their real bosses, Arafat and Achmad Yassin, in Gazza.) They are infiltrating AT OUR INVITATION.
This syndrome is going to have the same effect as the other AIDS we know, the medical kind, which, destroying the body's immunization systems, wears a person down until he has nothing left to fight off the other deadly diseases attacking the rest of the body. This is what the Arabs are doing to us, step by step, day by day. Today's episode is another example. But this example is much more serious, because the supreme Israeli legislature has presented our enemy with an official foothold, not only in the Parliament, but in Jerusalem too, the very same Jerusalem which, according to Abu Ala, belongs to him.
In my humble opinion we are in need of an AIDS vaccination ASAP, allowing us to obliterate this deadly disease before it kills us first.