Thursday, April 2, 2009

Let the truth hang out

After Avigdor Lieberman’s introductory statement yesterday as Israel’s new foreign minister I started thinking about writing this article. This morning, seeing one of the headlines in the Jerusalem Post, that thought was reinforced. However, after the brutal murder of a 16 year old at Bat Ayin, the thought transformed into words on paper.

You may not have picked up Lieberman’s remarks yesterday, being that most of the major internet news networks didn’t mention the fact that Bibi Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel’s new Prime Minister. I watched CNN, MSNBC and Foxnews all day. The event was totally ignored. What did Lieberman say? That Israel is not obligated by any agreements enumerated in the Annapolis Accords, because they had never been voted on in the Israeli cabinet. He did say that Israel was obligated by Bush’s ‘roadmap,’ but one would imagine that he also believes that the Arabs must also keep their part of the agreement before Israel makes any further concessions. That doesn’t look too promising.

What about the headline in the Jpost: PA: Death to those who sell land to Jews. Khaled Abu Toameh writes, “The Palestinian Authority has issued yet another warning to Palestinians against selling their homes or properties to Jews, saying those who violate the order would be accused of "high treason" - a charge thatcarries the death penalty. The latest warning was issued on Wednesday by the Chief [Islamic] Judge of the Palestinian Authority, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, who reminded the Palestinians of an existing fatwa [religious decree] than bans them from selling property to Jews.[]

This is nothing new. I’ve been repeating this to tourists and journalists for years. (The latter very rarely believe me.) This became an issue following Hebron’s purchase of Beit HaShalom, when the Arab owner screamed that he’d never really sold the property. He had no choice but to make this claim; anything less would have led to his immediate torture and death. His initial statements denying the sale came when he was sitting in an Arab jail in Jericho. However, now we have it again, officially, from the mouth of the “Chief Rabbi – Chief Justice” of the Arab terrorist authority, aka, the PA. Can you imagine what would happen if the Israeli chief justice, Dorit Beinish, or one of the Chief Rabbis of Israel would make a similar statement, saying that any Jew selling property to an Arab was to be summarily executed?!

The previous government, with Olmert at the reins and Barak in Defense, tried very hard to convince the Israeli public that ‘times had changed.’ The atmosphere seemed to be more relaxed. Abu Mazen was behaving himself, and Israel needed to do everything to strengthen him against continued attempts by Hamas to take over all of Arab-occupied Judea and Samaria. Unfortunately, these attempts to continue to deceive the Israeli public started to explode in their collective faces. Two police were killed in the Jordan Valley. A terror-tractorist tried to kill cops in Jerusalem. A car-bomber terrorist almost brought down a mall on hundreds of people in Haifa.

Here in Hebron we are told that everything is wonderful. Life with the Arabs has become tranquil Real lovey-dovey. So the IDF has notified us that soon the only road leading to Hebron, passing by the western entrance to Kiryat Arba will soon be open to Arab traffic. The last time this happened two Jews were killed on the same day: David Cohen and Hezzy Mualem. Other roadblocks are being opened, ‘gestures’ to the ‘moderate’ PA leadership. Gestures that inevitably lead to bloodshed and loss of Jewish life.

That brings us to today – a few hours ago. An Arab terrorist (‘militant’ in the language of all journalistic channels) with an axe broke into the municipality building in the Bat Ayin community and starting swinging. Two people were struck: Sixteen year old Shlomo Nativ was killed and a seven year old injured. I don’t know the family of the murdered youth, but his sister studied in high school with one of my daughters and his brother is a student in a Yeshiva where one of my son’s-in-law is his Rabbi. It hits close to home.

Bay Ayin really is a picture of tranquility. We have friends that lived there for a while and we spent a couple of Shabbats there. Surrounded by the Judean Hills, it’s quiet and picturesque and a lovely place to live. Maybe fifteen minutes south of Gilo, Jerusalem, the population is a mixture of religious Jews who practice their religion with their way of life.

So, what do you say to people whose teenage son goes out for a little while and comes back home, dead, a week before Passover? The Jerusalem Post quotes Hamas sources, “
For its part, Hamas called the attack a natural response to the "occupation." "This attack was committed in the framework of the resistance," Ayman Taha, a spokesperson for the group said. "This is a reaction to the continuing occupation and the continued building of settlements. This is a natural reaction," he said, "especially against the backdrop of Israel attacks. We are a people occupied, and it is our right to defend ourselves and to act in every way and with every means at our disposal in order to defend ourselves."

So let’s go out and kill some kids.

So, as we approach the Passover holiday, with the advent of a ‘new government’, let’s start anew. Israel has no obligations to the Americans, the Arabs, the Europeans, or anyone else. Some 3,500 years ago G-d gave birth the Jewish people by taking us out of Egypt and leading us to the Promised Land, to Eretz Yisrael. He created us, He made the rules, and He commanded us to follow those rules. First and foremost, to live in our land. Our first responsibility is to those rules, to freely in our land as a free people. Our government’s first commitment is to its people, to ensure their safety, to ensure their lives in their land.

Israeli governments have always been very good at shirking this responsibility. Hebron’s Jewish residents were abandoned to their fate when then Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu gave our Arab neighbors the hills surrounding the Jewish neighborhoods, leading to Arab shooting at Hebron for over two years. A few days ago Hebron marked the eighth anniversary of the murder of 10 month old Shalhevet Pass, shot and killed by a sniper from those very hills.

Gush Katif came under Arab mortar fire for years on end, with virtually no attempt to end the attacks by the Israeli government. So, too Sderot, hit by rockets for years and years; despite the Olmert-Livni-Barak supposed attempt to put an end to these attacks, they continue. Need more be said?

The question is what will Bibi do now – ten years later? Bibi has always said the ‘right’ thing, but done the wrong thing. Will he change his ways and start acting as a proud Jewish leader should? Prior to the elections he espoused the ‘right’ thing – opposition to a ‘two-state solution.’ Any normal human being with eyes in his head and a semi-working brain understands that a ‘palestinian state’ can only be catastrophic. Lieberman’s comments yesterday were greeted with consternation by staff of the Israeli foreign ministry. Lieberman’s first job should be to find those who expressed dismay at his statements and fire them. It’s time that Israeli policy changed, and there is no need to hide the truth behind locked doors. The Israeli government must encourage land purchases such as Beit HaShalom in Hebron, working to further such deals rather than trying to squelch them.

And last, but certainly not least, this administration must act quickly and decisively following today’s brutal murder of a sixteen year old at Bat Ayin. The response to such attacks must be immediate and equally brutal. The first reaction to the Hamas statement must be an unequivocal decision refusing to release Hamas murderers from prison in exchange for Gilad Shalt, killers who will surely return to their old ways once released from Israeli custody. Other measure, which need not be enumerated here, must be implemented, letting all know, Israeli lives cannot be, and will not be, trampled on. Our children, our women, our families, our citizens, are not cattle fodder, and any and all attempts to harm us will be answered appropriately.

Let the truth hang out!


  1. Anonymous6/5/09 19:14

    Hello Mr. Wilder,

    I am a journalist with the Medill News Service in Chicago and I'll be traveling to Hebron next week (May 14- May 20). I'm working on an article about mobile phone controversies in areas near the settlements. I'm wondering if I could interview you? I'm also wondering if you might be able to introduce me to shopkeepers who sell mobile phones and cards?

    For the sake of full disclosure, you should know that in addition to my work as a journalist, I also serve as the program director of a dialogue camp for Israeli, Palestinian and American teenagers. I've read some of your blog posts, and I have the deepest sympathy and outrage at the frequent violence that your community experiences.

    Perhaps we could chat by phone in advance of my trip? I could call at any time that is convenient for you.

    Thanks for your consideration.


    Ashley Bates

  2. I personally find leiberman to be a nazi douchebag who's a bit like hitler. I too am sorry for the violence you experience, but what of the violence inflicted on palestinians by israelis.