Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Building Freeze or a Freezing Building

It’s out of the theatre of the absurd. Yesterday a colleague of mine received a phone call from an officer in an IDF unit stationed in Hebron. He had a request/demand. Two soldiers are stationed outside Beit HaShalom for security purposes. The officer told my friend that the soldiers are ‘cold’ and requested/demanded that people in the building supply them with an electric line for a heater to keep them warm.

My friend could not believe his ears. Only days before, Defense Minister Ehud Barak refused Hebron’s request to allow humanitarian renovations in the building, including instillation of simple windows, electric current, and sealing of the building’s roof to prevent water leakage. The letter received from the Defense ministry stated clearly: If you’re cold, go live somewhere else.

The same defense ministry, who refused us electricity, was now demanding that we supply electricity to IDF soldiers. My friend’s answer was short and sweet – Go talk to the Defense Minister. If he gives us electricity, we’ll be happy to share it with you.

A little while later this information was passed on to an Israeli journalist, who requested a response from the IDF. ‘How can you ask for electricity from Jews in Hebron when you yourselves refuse to allow them electric lines?’

A little while later he received his response: ‘The entire episode was a mistake. The IDF unit requesting electricity was not supposed to call the Jewish Hebron municipality. Rather, they should have made contact with the Arab Hebron municipality and asked to receive electricity from them.’

In other words, the army can take electricity from the Arabs to keep their soldiers warm, but Hebron’s Jews cannot receive any more electric lines to keep their children warm.

This afternoon I spoke to one of the building’s residents who told me as follows: We don’t have enough electricity for ourselves, but we’ve tried to help the soldiers guarding at the entrance because it’s freezing there. We’ve given them two of our own electric heaters, but due to the lack of electric current, both of them have burned out.

Early this afternoon I visited Beit HaShalom with my cameras. My daughter, son-in-law and their three children, aged three to three months, have lived there for the past ten months. They live in a one room apartment, divided into parent’s space, children’s space, kitchenette and living room. Their windows are filled withsome kind of corrugated plastic sheets, somehow sealed onto the walls. Two small heaters keep the room from freezing.

Another family in Beit HaShalom just welcomed their seventh child a few days ago. They live in similar conditions to my daughter.

Last night winter finally arrived in Israel. Extremely strong winds pounded the Hebron area, and Beit HaShalom was quite adversely affected. Many of the residents had closed their windows with large sheets of plastic, which up until yesterday were sufficient. That changed in the middle of the night, when the strong winds literally blew the plastic window-coverings away. Families found themselves as if they were camping outdoors in the middle of the winter. Rain started leaking into people’s rooms from the walls and roof, and puddles formed in their apartments. For a good part of today many Beit HaShalom residents attempted to fix their windows, again hanging huge plastic sheets against the window frames, attaching them with screws and glue, hoping that tonight won’t be a repeat of last night. However, many of them expect it to be worse. Snow is expected in Hebron, starting tonight and ending sometime on Thursday.

One of the families has three heaters in their room, but can only use two of them, the two smaller ones. The larger radiator remains cold; it uses too much electricity. Each family has an ‘electric budget’ which they cannot go over, or else the generator which provides the building’s current will break down.

The Hebron Jewish Community is spending some $20,000 a month to keep the building warm. The generator works 24 hours a day, at full power, to heat up the family’s apartments. (You can help if you’d like, and your assistance would be much appreciated: [www.hebrontruma.com]) No one I’ve spoken to have any plans to leave. I interviewed Shlomo Levinger, who lives there with his wife and five children and asked him why he doesn’t find somewhere else to live, as Ehud Barak suggested. His answer: “This is my home, I live here. Just like anyone else in their home can install windows, so too I should be able to. We haven’t asked for very much, just to replace these plastic sheets with something a little more solid to offer us protection, on humanitarian grounds. Last night the wind blew so hard that it knocked the screws holding on the plastic sheets out of the wall. Each child needed at least three blankets; it was very cold.”

While I was there, Shlomo was attempting to repair the window space, hoping that tonight would be a little warmer in his children’s room.

(Short videos of Beit HaShalom, filmed today, can be seen on the Hebron home pages – http://www.hebron.org.il/ in Hebrew and http://www.hebron.com/ in English).

The Israeli government is doing its utmost to force Beit HaShalom’s residents to leave; Ehud Barak, the current Defense Minister, is acting like a Russian Cossack. As another friend exclaimed today: ‘This is acting like a Jew? This is the way one Jew acts towards another Jew?’

The other Ehud has the authority to overrule his defense minister. But at the moment he’s more concerned with surviving in the Prime Minister’s office follow tomorrows’ release of the Winograd Commission Report, dealing with his failures during the Second Lebanon War. That certainly takes precedence over a few dozen men, women and children in subhuman conditions in Hebron. Besides which, Olmert already declared a full building freeze in all of Judea and Samaria. So the situation in Hebron falls directly within that category: Windowless, electric-less Beit HaShalom, if not part of Olmert’s building freeze, is quite literally a freezing building.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Farce Called Democracy

The Farce Called Democracy

Published: Sunday, January 13, 2008 11:30 PM
Israeli democracy at its best.
A couple of days ago, a few young people were arrested in Jerusalem for pasting posters of George Bush, Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert wearing keffiyehs. Three others were 
The present opposition has just begun.
arrested for distributing information about our "moderate peace partner," Fatah, to foreign journalists. (It should be remembered that moderate Fatah security forces were responsible for the murder to Achikam Amichai and David Rubin two weeks ago.)

Israeli democracy at its best.

This is, of course, nothing compared to the police brutality used against demonstrators against the Oslo Accords during the dark days of the Rabin-Peres regime. But fear not, the present opposition has just begun, as has the rallying of forces of those bent on quashing any and all opposition to Olmert's follies.

This is not the only example of Israeli despotism. In a week and a half, the Supreme Court is scheduled to again meet concerning Beit HaShalom in Hebron. The Justice heading the supreme court panel of three judges is the court's president, Dorit Beinish. Beinish was reported to have met with the American ambassador to Israel a few weeks ago. The subject of their discussion: Judea and Samaria. This is a judge? This is a justice on the Supreme Court? This is the equivalent of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? No, no, and no. Beinish is a politician, of the worst kind, who is utilizing her position on the High Court of Justice to espouse and implement her own political ideologies, without any hint of law or justice.

However, the problem is not only on the Israeli side. Our prestigious visitor's country has its problems, too.

US presidents are experts in involving themselves in Israeli political activity. George W's daddy can be held responsible for knocking Yitzchak Shamir out of office. George Sr. refused to allow Israel to hit back when we were being bombed by Saddam Hussein, during the first Gulf War. He realized that Shamir's "inaction" wouldn't play well in Israel. He rewarded Shamir's patience by intentionally refusing to grant Israel necessary loan 
Our prestigious visitor's country has its problems, too.
guarantees, which, played up by the media, led to Shamir's defeat and Yitzchak Rabin's victory in 1992. We are still eating the fruits of Shamir's defeat today.

During the 1996 election contest between Peres and Binyamin Netanyahu, then-President Bill Clinton came to Israel for a special "conference," during which he addressed the Israeli public, saying, "You have to choose between peace and the alternative." The American president was, for all intents and purposes, campaigning for Peres. So much for foreigners not getting involved in internal Israeli politics.

And so it is today. It is quite customary that a foreign leader, when visiting Israel (or other countries for that matter), meet the premier, the president, the defense and foreign ministers, and usually also the leader of the opposition. George W, however, initially refused to meet opposition leader Netanyahu and hear his objections to the Annapolis process, which includes dividing Jerusalem, expulsion of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Jews from their homes, and the creation of another terror state in the Middle East.

Bush's short conversation with Shas leader Eli Yishai has already made headlines. Would Shas really pull out of the government as a result of negotiations? "Meet the chairman of Shas," said Olmert to the American president, who shook Yishai's hand warmly. Bush had done his homework. Bush said he understood he needed to talk to Yishai the next day to convince him to stay in the government, and Olmert translated. Yishai smiled.

"We will definitely talk about it," Yishai said.

I have no doubt that Bush will attempt to lean on Yishai. But Yishai isn't the only politician 
He is determined to be the father of the state of Palestine.
in Bush's sights. Avigdor Lieberman can't be far behind. He is also threatening to walk out of the Olmert circus should "core issues" - Jerusalem, borders and refugees - be discussed. And these are the exact topics Bush is pressuring Israel to negotiate away.

Bush is pushing. He is determined to be the father of the state of Palestine prior to the conclusion of his presidency. Olmert is feeling the heat - lots of heat. He knows that in three weeks, with the release of the Winograd Report, his position in Kadima and as prime minister is in jeopardy. The only way he can save himself is to prove that he, and only he, can be the savior of Israel, Palestine and the peace process. This being the case, both will know no limits; whatever it takes to achieve the goal is legitimate. The ends justify the means.

This is the farce called democracy.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Warriors of our Land

Warriors of our Land
by David Wilder
The Jewish Community of Hebron
December 30, 2007
This morning I was told an amazing story, which I'd never heard before. I was sitting with my good friend and teacher, Rabbi Yisrael Shlissel, the dean of the Ohr Shlomo Study Hall located in Tel Rumeida. I had just related to him one on a list of horror items concerning Friday's battle, when two young Kiryat Arba men were killed by Arab terrorists. On this morning's news the Arabs claimed that Achikam Amichai and David Rubin were not killed by terrorists. Rather the incident was criminally motivated. The terrorist spokesman said that it was a drug deal gone bad and they started shooting at each other.

As a result of these charges, on Friday night, following the beginning of the Jewish Shabbat - Sabbath, police invaded the morgue in Kiryat Arba, stripped the two dead men, photographed them and took their fingerprints, in order to check out any past 'criminal' or 'drug-related' past.

It's enough to turn one's stomach.

When I finished telling Rabbi Shlissel about this, he told me his story. The Rabbi is, by the way, the son-in-law of murdered Rabbi Shlomo Ra'anan, who was stabbed to death in his Tel Rumeida home by an Arab terrorist over nine years ago.

Rabbi Shlissel told me that following the week of mourning for his father-in-law, the police requested that the murdered Rabbi's widow, Chaya Ra'anan, accompany them to the police station in order to answer a few questions. She had been present at the time of the murder and tried to save her husband, to no avail. She agreed and sat down with an investigator at the local police headquarters. When their line of questioning became clear, she abruptly got up and walked out. The police officer interrogating her suspected her of having murdered her husband and then setting up her home, (including igniting a firebomb in order to burn down their caravan home), to make it 'look like' a terror attack.

So much for our wonderful Israeli police, who suspect terror-attack victims of murder, and strip and fingerprint murdered Israelis because of terrorist's charges.

Difficult to believe. But the stories are true. This is the country we live in.

This is very similar to charges made by IDF officers, who have said, between the lines, that the two men and young woman with them shouldn't have been where they were, or that they should have first received an OK from the army. Had they done so, they'd still be alive.

Maybe so, but who would have been killed in their place? And why should Jews living in Eretz Yisrael have to get permission to hike in our own land? The so-called leaders of our country are attempting to close us into a ghetto, or perhaps something smaller than a ghetto. They'd prefer to lock us in and throw away the key. This is 'living?' This is 'being a free people in our Land?' as we recite in the Israeli national anthem, HaTikvah.

Clearly the Israeli government has drawn the borders for the yet-to-be-born 'palestinian state,' G-d forbid. Anyone driving into Judea, from Jerusalem in the north, or via the Transjudea highway from the west, has to pass though a 'border-checkpoint,' all ready to begin checking passports and stopping 'unwanteds' from entering 'palestine,' G-d help us.

The new Fatah-terrorist prime minister was quoted as saying that the killings 'pain' the palestinians. Of course the killings 'pain' them. It 'pains' them that only two people were killed, and not more. After all, there were three Jews present at the site; why wasn't the third person done away with too?

Not too long ago I wrote that America is our enemy. This riled up and even offended a few people. Perhaps I should have been more specific. Not all the American people are our enemy. But this American administration? What can you do? I cannot retract the truth.

There are three forces working against Israel today, two from the outside and one from the inside. From the outside there is Yishmael, today represented by the Arab world, represented by the Fuhrer of Iran, the demon of Al-Qaeda, and our peace partners across the road, which are the most sophisticated of the groups. The first two don't hide behind niceties. They say straight out: We are going to erase the Jews from the map. The third group prefers the Trojan horse method, as admitted by 'international statesman' Feisal el Husseini, just prior to this death, and backed up by one of his successors, Sari Nussebah, who recently declared that Jews have no place in Jerusalem, Hebron or even Jaffa.

The second group, is Asav, (Esau), which is today represented by 'the Western World,' namely, Europe, the UN and on top of it all, the United States. When the Secretary of State of the greatest power in the world compares the 'plight' of the palestinians to the discrimination against blacks in the United States, when the American ambassador to Israel meets with the president of the Israeli supreme court to 'talk about the occupied territories,' when the President of the United States is adamant about creating a new terror state in the world prior to exiting the White House at whatever price, the agenda is clear. Bush isn't coming to Israel in a couple of weeks to vacation in the Eilat sun. He's coming over to exert as much pressure as he possibly can to receive more and more Israeli concessions, in an attempt to force the 'piece-process' down our collective throats. Israel will have a hard time saying no; Bush is putting too much prestige on the line for Israeli leaders to be able to ignore or refuse his demands. Bush is, today, leading the frontal attack against Israel, using not nuclear bombs, rather statesmanship as his primary weapon. This is, perhaps, even more dangerous than a nuclear bomb; with such a bomb you know what you're up against; with statesmanship you can only guess at the significance and implications of the intended results. If this isn't an enemy, I don't know what is.

However, there is a third force pushing Israel into a corner. That force is, of course, ourselves. No, not all of us. But those people who are supposed to be 'leading' the people, are in fact leading, but in the wrong direction. Rather than portraying strength, courage and wisdom, they are rendering versions of the exact opposite. Israeli leadership has, for a number of years, been leading our people and our country down a dead end lane, a suicide path, which brought us to Oslo, Hebron, Wye and now Annapolis, the supreme betrayal of all that the authentic Israel stands for.

Achikam Amichai and David Rubin were warriors. Both served in elite units, one naval and the other air force. They were trained to protect their country, to defend their people, to do whatever necessary to defeat the enemy. They faced a surprise attack, but did not despair. At least two of the terrorists attacking them were killed; perhaps also a third one also. During the battle they fell, but they saved the life of a young woman who was with them. Had they not fought back, had they died without a fight, she too, almost certainly, would have been killed. They knew the odds were against them, but you do not give up without a fight.

Their love for their land, for their people, for their beliefs, their courage, their very lives, is the quintessential Jew in Israel: this is true leadership; this is the way a Jew should live today.

We may have lost two of the best, but we have, staring us in the eyes, the Jewish Israeli of the future. Not Olmert, Peres, Livni, not Mazuz, Beinish, or Barak, rather people like Achikam and David, they are our future.

Achikam means, my brother has risen; David, the eternal King of Israel. Achikam is a brother to all of us, he rose above the everyday drudgery of life, to give his life for his people, for his land, for his G-d. David exemplified the bravery of his namesake. May their lives and their memories be a blessing upon us all; may we learn from their lives and continue on the path that they laid out before us.

With blessings from Hebron.


The Jewish Community of Hebron

P.O.B. 105 Kiryat Arba-Hebron 90100

Tel: 972-9965-333 - info@hebron.org.il

The Hebron Fund - hebronfund@aol.com

Tour Hebron: Tel 972-52-431-7055 or  tour@hebron.com

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