Monday, October 28, 2002

Backing Out of a Dead End

Backing Out of a Dead End
October 28, 2002


There are two reasons to use a map.  Most frequently, to know how to get somewhere, which roads to use, where to go. But there’s also a second reason: to know where NOT to go. Sometimes a map will outline back roads, which you are better off avoiding. Other times there may even be specific instructions warning travelers to stay far away.

So it is with the freshly concocted euphemism called the “Road Map,” drawn up by the cartographic Quartet, a ministerial level commission comprised of the United States, Russia, European Union and the United Nations.

As you might guess, they have plotted a most interesting course, leading Israel on a road to hell. This three-phased journey, continuing a trip begun almost a decade ago, begins with Israel proving our enemy, who has murdered over 1,000 Israelis since the expedition began, with more money, more arms and security (i.e. combat) training. Most of the ride is a one-way street. Israel will be judged by its actions. The Arabs will be judged, not by what they do, rather, by what they say.

The second phase of our joy ride begins immediately following the reelection of Yassir Arafat as president of the PA, the result of  “free, open and fair elections.” Translated into Arabic, that means, anyone who doesn’t vote for Arafat is unceremoniously dumped head first from a speeding car. It continues with an international peace powwow, serenaded by the Quartet, and concludes with ‘further action on settlements, simultaneously with the creation of a ‘provisional palestinian state.’  According to the Quartet’s timetable, this part of our travels should be completed by about this time next year, the end of 2003.

The last laps of our extended ride, lasting for about two years, will include negotiations within the framework of a second international conference, leading to negotiations and agreements on borders, Jerusalem, refugees and settlements.  By the end of 2005 we are supposed to reach the finish line. In this case, we are expected to get to the finish first. As a matter of fact, they want us to finish first. To really be finished. That’s the path of the new “road map.”

It is obvious that Israel must go in a different direction, just the opposite of that proposed by the fearsome foursome.

Let me make a few proposals for an Israeli-initiated Road Map:

1)  Given the positive examples of Usama bin Laden, John Allen Muhammad, and the fifty or so Muslim Chechnyan’s who took over the Russian theatre last week, as well as the shining stars of Fatah, Hamas and Hizballah, the Quartet should agree to allow for offsite training, whereby various European, Scandinavian, and North American countries would absorb tens, or even hundreds of thousands of ‘palestinians,’ for a beginning period of ten years. During this time, the ‘guests’ would become accustomed to real democracy, while being issued legal licenses to bear arms. Each guest would be issued a hand gun and an automatic rifle, to allow them to get used to carrying arms. Of course, the arms would not be for the guests to use, rather that they should become accustomed  to owning a gun without using it.

2) Following a year or so of bearing arms, a large number of the guests should then be incorporated into the host country’s police, armed forces and security services, including high-level intelligence. This would allow them true hands-on training.

3) Finally, the all the guests should be granted temporary citizenship in their host country, allowing them, not only to vote, but also to submit candidacy for public office.  The rewards reaped by the guests would be both invaluable and incalculable.

Of course, all schools, universities, and health-care facilities would be made available to the guests.

Only following the successful conclusion of a decade of offsite training would negotiations begin for a Middle East settlement.

This is just one side of my suggested road map. But the Israeli map must not be so one-sided. What must be expected from Israel?

For the next decade, while the others are being hosted by the fearsome foursome, Israelis must literally follow a path set out on the original map, almost four thousand years ago. Our countrymen must walk the path of our Forefathers, following the example of Abraham, who, when confronted with the command, “Lech Lecha” – Go, he walked, and when reaching Israel took a cross country hike, from north to south, from east to west, not only seeing the country, but actually sensing and experiencing the Land.

This Shabbat we will read of the first real estate transaction in Eretz Yisrael, the purchase of Ma’arat HaMachpela in Hebron. Abraham walked from Shechem, Alon Moreh and Beit El to Hebron, where he settled. Abraham too was a settler, who also had a road map, leading to all parts of his Land. This weekend thousands upon thousand will meet in the first Jewish city in Israel, a literal  gathering of the masses, coming not only from all corners of Israel, but from other parts of the world as well. Dozens of guests are arriving in Israel from the United States and guests of mine are making a special trip from Canada, solely for the purpose of being in Hebron for Parshat Chaye Sarah, when we read of the first Jewish possession in Israel.

This is the real road map, not a retreat, not a withdrawal, rather pressing forward, progressing, never moving backward.

The citizens of Israel must make a choice – following a course leading to a real dead end, or pursuing a perpetual trail, the route of the Jewish people from time immemorial. Do we really have a choice?

With blessings from Hebron,
This is David Wilder

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Setting Priorities

Setting Priorities
Oct. 24, 2002


On Saturday night Ariel Sharon participated in a very late night meeting, which concluded after two in the morning. The meeting was of such dire importance that the Prime Minister himself realized that he had no choice but to become personally involved.

Why was the Prime Minister so concerned? Who did Sharon meet with and what was the subject spoken about?

The answer to the first question, why was Sharon so concerned, is blackmail.

The answer to the second question, who did he meet with, is Amir Peretz, head of the Histadrut, Israel’s contradictory and labor union monopoly.

The answer to the third question, what was involved is Money and Garbage.

That’s right. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, responding to Amir Peretz’ stranglehold, doing what he does best, squeezing the life out of the State of Israel, had to sit down and talk, and agree to compromise. Why? Because Israel’s little children couldn’t attend nursery school because their teachers were on strike. Why? Because Israel’s streets stunk sky-high, because the garbage collectors were on strike.

Following this late night meeting Peretz agreed to reduce the strike for three days and Sharon pledged to again personally intervene should the monetary issues at stake not be resolved.

It doesn’t make any difference that Israel’s financial situation is catastrophic. The two year old Oslo War has taken a tremendous toll on our economy. It makes no difference that the world-wide fiscal woes have had a negative impact on Israel too. It makes no difference that Israel’s coffers are empty. What does make a difference is that Amir Peretz can close up the country just by snapping his fingers. He’s done it in the past, closing the airport, stopping radio and television broadcasts, implementing anything that comes to mind, and it’s all considered to be justifiable, because it’s about money. The Israeli left, many of whom are considered to represent Israel’s financial elite, would never even conjure up in their wildest dreams any negativisms concerning the right to strike, and literally close up the country.

But when it comes to Eretz Yisrael, when it comes to small new communities founded in the midst of a war, when it comes to Hebron, well, that’s another story. Years ago Israeli land dealer Moshe Zar purchased land in the Shomron. Following the murder of his son Gilad, Zar and his family decided to construct a small agricultural farm on some of this land, in Gilad’s memory.  Gilad’s brother Itai and his wife Bat-tzion and their children have lived there for over a year. Yet, according to Defense Minister Binyamin ben Elizer Havat Gilad, or the Gilad Farm, is an illegal settlement.

Last week the farm was in danger of imminent destruction. On Tuesday night, in the middle of the night, together with many others from Hebron, I ventured to this ma’ahaz, or small community. Arriving at about 2:00 in the morning I found there over 1,000 people, who too, were very concerned about ben Eliezer’s threats to dismantle the farm. Through the early morning rumors were rampant. What was going to happen? In the early afternoon we learned that a compromise solution had been reached. The farm would still be worked during the day, but at night no one would live there. The few structures that had been constructed would be left there.

Over one thousand people then left the farm, not liking the compromise, yet accepting it.

On Saturday afternoon, just a few days later, hundreds of soldiers, some of them religious, were forced to desecrate the Shabbat, and were transferred to the farm. On Saturday night, following orders, they began to destroy the remaining structures at the farm, despite promises to the contrary. That night, and for most of the next day, the Gilad Farm could be called the scene of a battle: those trying to save what had been built, and those trying to destroy those structures, according to the orders of the Defense Minister (see last week’s article “Declaring War on Eretz Yisrael). The end result was massive destruction of the ma’ahaz. Yet the Zar family has undertaken to rebuild the farm.

Prior to the Succot holidays, following the abandonment of Bethlehem to Arafat’s terrorists forces, the Defense Minister decided to again abandon Hebron by transferring 80% of the city to the same terrorist forces who were responsible for almost two years of shooting at the city’s Jewish community. Due to considerable pressure applied by senior IDF officers, this move was averted. Until today. Yesterday the Defense Minister, sitting with the Prime Minister, the Chief of Staff and other high-ranking IDF officials, decided to again move Israeli troops out of the previously Arafat-controlled part of the city. They decided that due to the ‘relative quiet’ in the city, Arafat’s forces should be given another chance.

What is relative quiet? Well, only one person, 48 year old Shlomo Shapira, was murdered and his three children injured, during the Succot holidays. Tel Rumeida has only been shot at two or three times over the past month, with bullets barely missing Hebron residents, including a five year old girl.

And why is there ‘relative quiet?’ Anyone with any brains understands that as long as the Israeli armed forces are present, patrolling the city, the terrorist’s ability to function is severely limited.  But now that it’s ‘quiet,’ why not give it back to them? Right?

What’s the compromise? Israeli forces will stay in the hills surrounding the community’s Jewish neighborhoods, Abu Sneneh and Harat a’Shech. But already Israel is getting ready to enter negotiations with Arafat security officers on the other side of the city, trying to convince them to protect us – to provide Jewish residents of Hebron with security by foiling terror attacks. This, in direct contradiction to Sharon’s promises that no contact would be made with PA security forces in Hebron before a discussion in the cabinet on the ministerial level, a discussion which, needless to say, never occurred.

So, there you have it. Ariel Sharon’s priorities. He prefers to negotiate with Amir Peretz about money and garbage, while decreeing death to Israeli settlements and relinquishing security in Hebron to the terrorists. In other words, if you have the ability to blackmail the government and close up the country, you get what you want. Otherwise, forget it.

Arik Sharon’s priorities are a little off.  Whatever anyone says, Eretz Yisrael is still more important than money, and Hebron is more important than garbage pickup. And it’s not blackmail, - rather it is our right to live freely in our country, in our land.

Arik: Stop playing games and set your priorities right.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Declaring war on Eretz Yisrael

Declaring war on Eretz Yisrael
Oct. 14, 2002


Tonight we are going to play the game: “Who said it?”
Who said, “Run, grab hills?”

Let me give you a hint. The statement wasn’t made yesterday. It was made in a speech almost exactly four years ago, on November 16, 1998.  In an article appearing in the Jerusalem Post, correspondent Margot Dudkevitch wrote, “In a speech, ‘he’ said settlers should "run, grab hills" to establish facts on the ground before a pullback takes place.”

So, who is the ‘he’ in this quote?

Don’t know? OK, anyway, time’s up. The famous speechmaker as none other than Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Foreign Minister – do you remember who that was – Ariel Sharon.

Our present Prime Minister was offering free advice to good, lawful, Israeli citizens: Make sure Eretz Yisrael stays in Israeli hands. Don’t let the Arabs get their hands on it. It belongs to us, it doesn’t belong to them. “Run, grab hills!”

The next day, Dudkevitch reported, “It took less than 24 hours for settlers to implement Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon's recommendations they establish facts on the ground and take over hilltops. By noon yesterday several mobile homes had been set up on a hilltop near Nahal Te'enim, west of Kedumim.”

So it was then. Where does Arik stand today?

Lately Sharon has been keeping his mouth shut concerning hilltop settlements. But it seems that he’s been allowing another mouth to talk for him, namely, his Defense Minister, Binyamin ben Eliezer. Fuad, as he is known, has made it quite clear that all of the twenty-four hilltop settlements will be forcibly removed in the near future. The Prime Minister’s silence is a sign of passive agreement. If Sharon didn’t agree, he would surely prevent this planned disgrace.

Two of the oldest of the twenty four communities have special significance. Both are over a year old, and they were settled in memory of people murdered during the Oslo War. On January 29, 2001, fifty-five year old father of four and grandfather of four, Arye Hershowitz was shot and killed not far from his Ofra home, just north of Jerusalem. Just over three months later, on May 1, 2001, his thirty year old son, Assaf, father of two, was shot and killed at virtually the same location where his father was gunned down. Just over a year ago friends of Arye and and Assaf Hershkowitz founded Givat Assaf, or the Assaf Hill, at the site of the two murders. This settlement, or “ma’achaz,” as they are known in Hebrew, is on Fuad’s chopping block.

The other ma’achaz slated for demolition is call “Havat Gilad” or the Gilad Farm, in the Shomron. Only twenty eight days following the killing of Assaf Hershkowitz, forty one year old Gilad Zar, father of eight, was gunned down by terrorists in the Shomron. Gilad’s family, including his widow and his parents, founded “Havat Gilad,” in memory of Gilad Zar. A few days ago the Defense Minister held a meeting of senior, ranking IDF officers in the Shomron, close to the Itamar community home of the Zar family. Gilad’s widow, Hagar, made a special request to meet with ben Eliezer, to speak to him about “Havat Gilad.” Fuad ignored her request. “Havat Gilad” is also scheduled for obliteration.

There was a time in Israel’s short history when the name of the game was Zionism. Israeli leaders really believed in settling the Land of Israel, believed in populating the Land, believed in participating in helping the Land flourish. When Arabs killed Jews, the “Zionist response” was to initiate a new community. After all, the goal of Arab attacks was to drive us out of our land – the proper response was to do exactly the opposite, to bring in more people, to encourage more people to settle the land, to build Eretz Yisrael.

Today, in the minds of many, Zionism has died. Settleing Eretz Yisrael is no longer a goal. To the contrary. At the present the left is running a race to determine who can destroy Eretz Yisrael the fastest. Two of the candidates to replace Binyamin ben Eliezer as leader of the Labor party and to run for Prime Minister in next year’s election, Haifa Mayor Amnon Mitzne and MK Haim Ramon are definitely ahead in that contest. They are both closer to the Meretz camp, led by opposition leader Yossi Sarid, who has spouted hatred for communities in Yesha for decades. Fuad ben Eliezer cannot afford to let the pack speed too far ahead of him, so he is taking advantage of his position to play politics with Eretz Yisrael, threatening to eradicate these small communities, which represent the true Zionist response to Arafat-ordered bloodshed. And Ariel Sharon, the same Ariel Sharon who exclaimed, “run, grab hills” has lost his tongue.

Why? Merely because he prefers ben Eliezer to Mitzne and Ramon, and he knows that in order to ensure Fuad’s victory over his rivals, he must prove that he too knows how to be a leftist. So Sharon is allowing Fuad to wreck Israeli communities in Eretz Yisrael, in return for a political triumph.

In joining forces to allow destruction of the ‘ma’achzim’, Fuad and Sharon  are abandoning their homeland. And what is worse, they are actually cooperating with Arafat. After all, the goal of the Oslo War is to drive us out of Eretz Yisrael. That is exactly what Sharon and ben Eliezer are doing, by destroying these new, small settlements, in the midst of a war. Our own leaders are aiding and abetting the enemy. The are effectively declaring war on Eretz Yisrael.

Ariel Sharon: Don’t allow your Defense Minister to wreak havoc with Eretz Yisrael.  Allow your fellow countrymen to practice what you preached, to fight a Zionist war, to let us, as you yourself said, “Run, Grab hills.”

With blessings from Hebron,
This is David Wilder

Monday, October 7, 2002

The Eternal Gandhi

The Eternal Gandhi
Oct. 7, 2002


There was a time, years ago, when marking the annual remembrance day of the murder of a Hebron resident, or someone I knew personally, I would make it a point to speak about them, especially on the first anniversary of their death. Over the past two years so many people have been taken from us that it is virtually impossible to do so. I would have no choice but to eulogize terror victims on almost a daily basis.

However, there are exceptions to this rule.

It was exactly one year ago that Arafat-terrorists murdered Gandhi – Minister Rehavam Ze’evi HY”D in cold blood in Jerusalem. Since Gandhi’s killing I’ve dedicated at least two Arutz 7 broadcasts to him, and I feel a responsibility to speak about him again.

This afternoon we dedicated two new Torah scrolls, written in Gandhi’s memory, at Ma’arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron. Following an emotional ceremony when the Torah scrolls were completed at Beit Hadassah, hundreds participated in accompanying them to their new home. Singing and dancing with the scrolls through the streets of Hebron, I could almost feel Gandhi’s presence, as if he was really there with us.

The picture of Gandhi entering Hebron during the 1967 Six Day war is quite well know, accompanied by then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. Yesterday, while searching through our archives, I discovered pictures of Gandhi in Hebron again, this time in 1974, then General Ze’evi, at the conclusion of his service as Commander of the Central Region, which included Hebron.

As he told it, Gandhi always had a deep affinity for Hebron, and for him, serving here was the fulfillment of a dream. As commander of the central region, Gandhi ordered that the eastern steps leading up to Ma’arat HaMachpela, be destroyed. This pathway was infamously known for only one of its steps – the seventh step. It was at this point where Jews were forbidden to continue – as is well known, that for seven hundred years Jews were not allowed to enter this most holy of sites.  These steps – and the seventh step in particular, represented a disgraceful period in the history of our people, an era which deserved to be blotted out, and those stairs, as so ordered by General Rehavam Ze’evi, were blown up.

In later years Gandhi authored a volume called Tevach Hevron. This book highlights another dark moment in the annuls of the Jewish people and Hebron – the 1929 riots and massacre, occurring in the Jewish year 5689 – otherwise known as Tarpat.  In his introduction to the book, published in 1995, Gandhi writes, “ The 1929 Hebron riots, when 67 Jews were murdered in the City of the Patriarchs, ended a continuity of its Jewish community, until its return and renewal following the Six Day war. This book is a memorial to those butchered and a remembrance to the living. The events of 1929 in Hebron and other places in Israel teach us that we cannot abandon our security to foreigners; (the British High Commissioner viewed the riots against Jews in 1929 as “a confused situation and violent, unlawful events,”) and that the Arabs will take advantage of every opportunity to uproot us from our homeland, the land of our life, and will say that this is “a Jewish enigma ” and deny that the events ever took place.

Gandhi’s comprehension of history, of the Arab mind, and of his love for Eretz Yisrael and the Jewish people led him to a single conclusion: Jews and Arabs will never be able to live together in one land. As long as there are Arabs and Jews in Eretz Yisrael, the Arabs will do anything and everything to remove them, leaving no stones unturned until they succeed. Thus Gandhi adopted a publicly unpopular ideal – the removal of Arabs from Eretz Yisrael, expressed in a single word: Transfer. Transfer articulated the backbone of his party’s name – Moledet – Homeland. Put in simple words, our land, Eretz Yisrael, can not be the Moledet of more than one people. It is either them or us. And Gandhi chose us.

Ignoring seeming reality, disregarding public disdain, Gandhi pushed forward relentlessly, accomplishing a perceived impossibility – Rehavam Ze’evi, conceiver of transfer, led a major Israeli political party and participated in a national unity government, seated and recognized at the same cabinet table with the antithesis of his stated goals, Shimon Peres.

As has happened in the past, notably following the murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane HY”D, the Jewish public and the Israeli public are slowly starting to accept Gandhi’s philosophies, albeit posthumously.

Why honor Gandhi’s memory with Torah scrolls in Ma’arat HaMachpela. Rehavam Ze’evi was a deeply religious person. I am not aware of his own level of observance, but it is widely known that he prayed with Tefillin every day. His love for Eretz Yisrael was not platonic. Gandhi’s entire life was dedicated to settling Eretz Yisrael and returning the ancient glory of our people, following a two thousand year exile and a catastrophic Holocaust.  Only a person with the neshama of a tzadik, with a righteous soul, could live the life of a Gandhi.

Just as a person’s body is temporal, so his soul is eternal. So too, a Torah is eternal. Two Torahs, located in the holy city of Hebron, at the resting place of our fathers and mothers, at the very roots of Jewish existence, is the essence of eternity. Torah scrolls, in memory of Rehavam Ze’evi, at Ma’arat HaMachpela in Hebron is the embodiment of the eternal Gandhi.

With blessings from Hebron,
This is David Wilder