Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The Traffic Jam That Saved Eretz Yisrael

The Traffic Jam That Saved Eretz Yisrael
April 28, 2004

Yesterday morning we left Hebron at about 10:30. The car was full – my wife, daughter and her two small children. The others were on one of the two Hebron buses. The destination: Gush Katif. 

THE referendum is scheduled for next week – Sunday, May 2. Ariel Sharon is worried. The Hebrew daily Maariv quoted the prime minister as saying, “Whoever votes against the ‘disengagement’ is voting against me.” In other words, Sharon is transforming the referendum into a ‘no-confidence vote.’ Arutz 7 posted an article saying that Sharon is considering resigning should the referendum be defeated.

In yet another article, Associated Press correspondent Ramit Plushnick-Masti writes: Sharon Plan would remove up to 100 west bank settlements. “Senior Israeli officials and government advisers acknowledge privately that many - if not all - of these isolated enclaves may eventually be taken down, even without a peace deal, if they become increasingly indefensible.”

Arutz 7 reports: “In the meantime, Sharon and his staffers are hiding the truth from the public regarding the depth of his planned pullback from Judea and Samaria. "If the Likud members would know what Sharon is really planning," Likud leaders told Yossi Elituv of Mishpachah [Family] magazine, "they would be storming his office and demanding his immediate resignation." The Likud seniors told Elituv that Sharon has given the order to "hide the evacuation from Judea/Samaria, and concentrate only on the pullback from Gaza. His purpose is to lull the Likud members, obtain their consent for the disengagement from Gaza, and then to use that to move on to the next stage - a massive evacuation of Judea and Samaria."”

Yet it is vital to note that Sharon does not represent all of the Likud leadership.

Speaking at Mt. Hertzl on the eve of Israel’s 56th independence day, Speaker of the Knesset Rubi Rivlin, basing his speech on the famous words of Theodore Hertzl, “If you will it, it is no legend,” said, “These words beat in its heart and drove its wheels, as Zionism succeeded, achieved the impossible, time after time.

When we willed it - the legend became reality.
When we willed it - the scattered exiles of Israel were gathered in.
When we willed it - from a small, fearful community, we became a proud nation.
And when we willed it; when we really willed it - the Land was conquered, and nobody stood in our way.

But the story has not yet ended.

Even today; on the one hundredth anniversary of Herzl's death; in the
fifty-sixth year of the Independence of Israel; nothing is self-evident.
Even today, every day, we must continue to will it, we must continue to

Speaking before lighting the traditional, honorary torch of honor:  

I, Reuven Rivlin, son of my father and teacher, Professor Yosef-Yoel Rivlin, may he rest in peace, researcher of Semitic languages,  and translator of the Koran into Hebrew, and - may she live long - my mother and teacher, Rachel, who today, 6th Iyar, is exactly one hundred years old; seventh generation in Jerusalem; descendent of the Aliyah to Jerusalem,  one hundred years before the vision of Herzl, by the disciples of the Gaon, Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna; Speaker of the Sixteenth Knesset; am honoured to light this torch, of the fifty-sixth Independence Day of the State of Israel.
In honour of - The Knesset, the legislature of Israel, and the temple of democracy!
In honour of - the pioneers, the vanguard of those who came to settle the Land of our Fathers, who redeemed the land - from Hanita  - to Kfar Darom; from Negba - to Kiryat Arba, that is Hebron!
In honour of - The heroes of all branches of the security forces.
In honour of - Jerusalem, our holy city, our eternal capital and the heart of the nation.
And for the glory of the State of Israel!

Rivlin’s initial speech most certainly alluded to the challenges of Zionism and the will to overcome – not only 100 years ago, not only fifty-six years ago, but also at the present. Rivlin’s words, coming from the Speaker of the Knesset, articulating ‘the pioneers, the vanguard of those who came to settle the Land of our Fathers, who redeemed the land - from Hanita  - to Kfar Darom; from Negba - to Kiryat Arba, that is Hebron!’ reflect the true Likud ideology, the true Zionist ideology, which Ariel Sharon has so grossly warped. And Rivlin is not alone.

Yesterday, some 150,000 Israelis voiced their opinion, not in words, but in actions, expressing themselves with their feet and with their tires.

According to police reports, 70,000 people arrived yesterday in Gush Katif. Our experience has taught us that the ‘official estimate’ is about a half of the ‘real thing.’ According to Gush Katif spokesman Eran Sternberg, over 100,000 people managed to get into Gush Katif. Tens of thousands of others, including yours truly, were crowded out.  Traffic authorities said this morning on Israel radio that they have never before witnessed a traffic jam as large as yesterday’s, tens of kilometers long.

We left Hebron at 10:30 in the morning for a two hour ride to Gush Katif. I managed to drive the last 20 kilometers in about an hour and a half and we were still about 10 kilometers from our destination. After not moving for over an hour and having spent a grand total of five hours in the car we decided to pull into a nearby kibbutz, found a nice place for a picnic barbeque (not too far from some Bedouin tents), and camped out for a few hours.

But you know something. No one complained. And I’m not talking about us. I’m talking about thousands and thousands of people stuck, just like us. Many of them were more daring than I was – they parked their cars on the side of the road and walked, 10 or more kilometers, in order to reach Gush Katif and participate in the main event at 3:30 in the afternoon.

No one really cared how long it took to arrive, because the message was clear. Gush Katif is part of Eretz Yisrael and we have no intentions of leaving, not now, not ever. Over 100,000 Israelis shouted out to Ariel Sharon – “Go ahead, just try and evacuate Gush Katif, go ahead, just try to evict over 7,000 Jews from their homes. Because if you so dare, you will not be evicting 7,000 Israelis – you will have to evict hundreds of thousands of people!!!”

Have not doubt: the almost 200,000 Likud members who will be voting on Sunday saw and heard yesterday’s events. Many of them participated. I expect that early Monday morning the results will be self-evident.

History will definitely remember Ariel Sharon from many diverse angles. But perhaps one of the most unique will be just this: Ariel Sharon initiated the greatest traffic jam in Israel’s history, a traffic jam which may turn out to have saved Eretz Yisrael.

With blessings from Hebron,
David Wilder

Monday, April 19, 2004

The Return of Weimar

The Return of Weimar
April 19, 2004

Annually Israel marks the Shoah, the Holocaust, mourning six to seven million Jews, slaughtered by the Nazis during World War Two. The date chosen for Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Memorial Day, is quite significant, coming a week after Passover, the holiday commemorating the birth of the Jewish people, and a week before Yom Ha’azmaut, Independence Day, celebrating the rebirth of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael with the founding of the first Jewish state in two thousand years.

The enormity of the holocaust is practically beyond human comprehension. We can easily picture one person, ten people, one hundred people, a thousand people, or even 10,000 people. Huge sports arenas can contain tens of thousands of people. Let’s take Yankee Stadium in New York. It has a capacity of almost 58,000 people. Imagine one hundred and twelve Yankee Stadiums, filled up with people, to the brim. And then, all at once, delete them from existence, erase the people in them. In an instant, they are all gone. The men, women, children – be they rich or poor, religious or secular, good people and not such good people – with one thing in common. In the blink of an eye they cease to exist.

Well, not really. Because their family and friends remember them, miss them, mourn them.

Maybe it’s difficult to conjure up 112 Yankee Stadiums. Perhaps I can present an example closer to home. Picture 2,167 World Trade Centers - with 3,000 people filling each them. That is about six million five hundred thousand people. That is how many people were butchered between 1941 to 1945. All gone, with the blink of an eye. Obliterated from existence.

But don’t err. That is how many people were lost – but that is not the holocaust. Hitler’s plans included not only killing people. Rather they represented a final solution, an eradication of a people, obliteration of a culture, annihilation of a religion.

These numbers are only partially accurate. In reality, the picture is quite different. In 1933 European Jewry numbered about nine million five hundred thousand Jews. Remove from that six or six and half million. What remains? About a third. Two thirds of European Jewry was wiped out. So forget the examples presented above. Can you picture two-thirds of the United States gone?

One would expect, following such a cataclysm, that certain lessons would be learned and internalized. Sixty five years should not be long enough to forget. Perhaps we did not forget, perhaps we never learned in the first place.

One of the most important lessons we should have learned is who to trust, who to depend on, who believe in. Or, better phrased, who not to trust, depend on, or believe in. Quite simply, the Americans and the Europeans did nothing, absolutely nothing, to stop and prevent the carnage. Today, in Israel, if a person witnesses an attempt to harm someone and does nothing, he or she can be tried and convicted in a court of law. Non-action is a crime.

Maybe we cannot put the United States and Europe on trial. But trust them? Rely on them when our very existence is at stake? An apparent contradiction in terms. Unless you’re Jewish – unless you’re an Israeli, especially an Israeli leader.

Ten years ago Israel placed its fate in the hands Bill Clinton’s signature and Arafat’s good will. When the Hebron Accords were signed over seven years ago, we were told point-blank, “your security is dependent upon palestinian cooperation.” Today, where is Clinton – where is Arafat? And how many Jews are dead, maimed and/or psychologically wounded. Today Bibi and Limor, shadows of Sharon, tell us of our good fortune – ‘look at the promises we’ve received from the President of the United States!’

Watch George W. Bush closely. Where will he be on January 21, 2005? At best, where will he be on January 21, 2009?

The ‘hitnatkut’ – Sharon’s ‘disengagement,’ the plan to flee from Yesha, from all of Judea, Samaria and Gush Katif, beginning in Gaza, the intention to transfer tens of thousands of Jews from their homes, is classic demagoguery, appealing to the masses ‘we must sacrifice a few for the many and save whatever we can.’ I cannot help but feel nauseated by the fact that on the day preceding Holocaust Memorial Day two of Israel’s premier politicians, Education Minister Limur Livnat and former Prime Minister, presently the Treasury Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu announced their support to abandon Gush Katif. And this afternoon, Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom, one of the fiercest opponents of the plan, also surrendered to Sharon’s pressure and declared his support. Bibi Netanyahu, who apologized for deserting Hebron, and Limur Livnat, one of the staunchest supporters of Yesha, have done an about-face, and together with Sylvan Shalom, are now willing to participate in evicting over 7,000 Jews from their homes. And this is only the start.

Sharon promised a ‘strong Gush Etzion – a strong Kiryat Arba – a strong Hebron.’ Let’s see how long it takes for Hebron to receive building permits, allowing new construction on Jewish-owned land. Let’s see how long it takes for Kiryat Arba to receive a building permit allowing construction of a permanent synagogue called Hazon David on presently uninhabited state-owned land in or around Kiryat Arba. My guess: don’t hold your breath!

The early 1930s witnessed considerable political instability in Germany. On January 30, 1933, German president Paul von Hindenburg, an old, tired general turned politician, appointed Adolf Hitler Reichskanzler, or chancellor of Germany. “Although he was fiercely anti-Nazi and had defeated Hitler in the 1932 presidential election, he reluctantly agreed to von Papen’s theory that, with Nazi popular support on the wane, Hitler could now be controlled as chancellor. The date is commonly seen as the beginning of  Nazi Germany.” [ von Hindenburg]

Sharon’s government is a mirror-image of the Weimar Republic’s tragic collapse. The Hindenburgs, the Chamberlains, the cynical utilization of democracy as a tool of mass destruction, - it’s all being repeated before our eyes. Sharon, Netanyahu, Livnat, and all the others are marching Israel down the road of calamitous disaster, which, if not diverted quickly, will lead us straight into Aushwitz II, otherwise called the Mediterranean Sea.

World Jewry might then, one day in the not too distant future, have to mark Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, as the beginning of the end of the Jewish State.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Profiles in Courage or Profiles in Cowardice?

Profiles in Courage or Profiles in Cowardice?
April 13, 2004

On December 8, 1941, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt referred to the previous day, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, as “a date which will live in infamy.” It was on that day that the United States of America came under direct enemy attack, thereby endangering the future of that country.
Roosevelt concluded his historic address by declaring, “The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implication to the very life and safety of our nation.
As commander in chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.”
There are days which, for one reason or another, will be eternally remembered. There are leaders, who, for one reason or another, will be perpetually recollected, for words they said, or for deeds they did.
Many of these historic events are virtually spontaneous, coming about as a reaction to a certain event, as were FDR’s words that day in Congress. Yet, occasionally, one can almost predict the significance of a certain happening. That is, very possibly, the case today.
It has been decided that on Sunday, May 2, (the 11th day of Iyar, according to the Jewish calendar – the 27th day of Omer) approximately 200,000  people will take to the polls, and their vote may be an overridingly decisive factor in the future of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael – in the land of Israel.
I know, this sounds overly melodramatic, an exaggeration, at best. I honestly wouldn’t mind if such were the case. However, as things stand today, that’s the way it is – for real.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today landed in Washington for talks with President George W. Bush and his senior staff. On the agenda is Sharon’s proposal to unilaterally abandon Gaza to the PA terrorists, while forcibly transferring some 7,000 Israelis from their homes. Sharon is also offering Bush an additional plum. Last night, speaking in the Jerusalem suburb of Ma’ale Adumim Sharon declared that he is willing to surrender all of Judea and Samaria, excepting six ‘settlement blocks,’ to Arafat. Those six, according to his speech, are, Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Zeev (also a Jerusalem suburb), Ariel (in Samaria) Gush Etzion (just south of Jerusalem), Kiryat Arba, and Hebron. In other words, Sharon is committing Israel to compulsorily evict hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes, while deserting a vast majority of Judea and Samaria to our deadly enemy.
This morning a journalist asked me if I felt relieved that Hebron was on the ‘good list’ – one of those places to remain under Israeli control. My answer came it several parts:
1.      Of course I’m not relieved. Sharon’s plan affects the entire state of Israel and has nothing to do with one or two cities, here or there. What difference does it make to if Sharon uproots me from Hebron, my son from Shavei Shomron, my friends in Kfar Darom in Gaza, or people I don’t know in Beit El and Shilo? We are all in the same boat, to sink or swim.
2.      Concerning Hebron, (as Shimon Peres so aptly asked during a radio interview) how are people going to get to and from Hebron?
3.      Lastly, Sharon knows all too well that he will never get everything he asks for, so more than likely something on his list is going to get cut. And who do you think that might be?
It was just over a year ago that Sharon overwhelmingly defeated left-wing Labor party leader Amram Mitzna for the Israeli premiership. Mitzna’s campaign platform unashamedly included a total withdrawal from Gaza. The Israeli electorate put its collective foot down and said no – no acquiescence to terror. Now Sharon is twinning Mitzna, adopting the very policies that his own voters rejected.
This morning’s headlines read: Tragedy Averted: An AIDS Terror Attack. Israeli intelligence forces recently arrested a Tanzim terrorist ring which planned on exploding an AIDS-filled bomb in a heavily populated area in a major Israeli city.

Can you imagine the effect such a headline would have, printed, say, in the Washington Post, and not in the Israeli daily Ma’ariv? And if the perpetrators, were not Tanzim Arabs, but, Iraqi extremists?  And if the city to be afflicted was not Tel Aviv, but Washington DC or New York? And can you imagine how Americans would react if, the President, the same day the story broke, suggested a compromise with the same Iraqi leaders who backed such an attack?
This is exactly what is happening. Sharon is offering to give our enemies a gift for their creativeness. Today, these headlines appeared in the Israeli press. Tomorrow, Sharon will present his planned surrender to Bush.
Hard to believe – but true.
Due to heavy political pressures here at home, Sharon has been forced back to the polls, this time a referendum, for or against his proposed plans. The decision-makers are his own Likud party members. They will have to vote – I agree or I disagree – with the suggested catastrophe. A few days ago, during a conversation with famed activist-attorney, Kiryat Arba resident Elyakim HaEztni, he said to me, ‘now we will see if the Likud is really Likud, or if they have decided to be Meretz.’
In other words, will the Likud party members remain true to themselves, to their ideology, to their beliefs, or will they betray themselves, their land, and their people?

It is an understatement to say that there is a great deal riding on the answer.
How can you help. If you read Hebrew, go to On the bottom left corner is a box. The first item is “moadon haverim.” After clicking on this you will find a link to “snifei halikud.” Here you will find addresses and phone numbers of all the Likud chapters in Israel. Write to them, call them, let them know what YOU think. We will try to post such a list in English, together with a list of all voting Likud members who are eligible to vote on May 2. Your voices must be heard – they must know how important this issue is to ALL OF US – WHEREVER WE ARE!
John Kennedy wrote a book called ‘Profiles in Courage,’ “accounts of eight U.S. Senators who risked their careers, incurring the wrath of constituents or powerful interest groups, by taking principled stands for unpopular positions.” Presently we are facing, not eight people, rather 200,000 people, whose choices will determine whether May 2 will be remembered as a ‘date of infamy’ or a ‘date of honor?’ Will they be profiles in cowardice, or will they be profiles in courage?