Friday, December 14, 2012

Red Ribbons and Khaki Green Uniforms

Yesterday morning I awoke to a cute headline in the nrg-maariv news site. It read “Hebron Arabs: If Israeli Soldiers Return – We’ll Beat Them Up Again.”

Last week an IDF patrol in Hebron, just past a checkpoint dividing two parts of the city, spotted a uniformed ‘palestinian policeman’ in an area where he shouldn’t have been. While attempting to arrest him they were attacked by an Arab mob. Despite the fact that their lives were in danger, rather than shoot or use hand grenades against the attackers, the soldiers took cover in a butcher store, threw potatoes at the Arabs, and finally ran for their lives.
A similar event occurred a few days later up north, in Shechem. Anonymous IDF commanders, uncomfortable with the situation, explained that the ‘rules of combat’ are very complex and that soldiers are too highly restricted in the measures they may use, even to defend themselves.
Seeing the headline, I mentioned to several of my friends that this Arab chutzpah cannot go unanswered. Arabs, exclaiming that they will ‘beat up’ Jewish-Israeli soldiers, must be answered, in the harshest of terms.
Last night they received an answer.

There is one main road leading from Kiryat Arba into Hebron. At the bottom of the winding, hilly road, is a right turn, to Ma’arat HaMachpela and Hebron’s Jewish community. To the left is a checkpoint, manned by Israeli border police. Last night, at about 7:30, during a routine check, a 17 year old Arab man attacked a border policeman, knocking him to the ground, and then pulled out a pistol, placing it on the fallen man’s temple. A second officer, a border policewoman, present at the site, seeing the events transpiring, loaded her gun and, without hesitating, shot the Arab terrorist three times, killing him.
It later turned out that the Arab’s gun was a fake, toy pistol. However, made out of black metal, it certainly looked like the real thing. The woman border guard did exactly what she had to, and thank G-d for that. A partial response to the Arabs quoted at the beginning of this article. The Arabs play for keeps. But so do we. Seeing Israeli soldiers run from marauding, rioting Arabs is a disgrace. Hearing a policewoman say, “I did what I was taught to do, I was only doing my job,” is a ‘Kiddush HaShem, a sanctification of G-d’s name.
For two thousand years, in exile from our land, Jews had no choice but to run. Today, we must stand strong and tall, as did the Maccabees, 2,300 years ago, thereby bequeathing us Hanukkah.
The holiday of lights, as Hanukkah is called, takes on many expressions and variations. For example: A few days ago we marked the 21st anniversary of the passing of friend and fellow Hebron resident Yona Heiken. Yona was a fascinating man, who I remember well, showing me his original IBM computer, which cost, probably close to 30 years ago, over $10,000. Yona and Malka made Aliyah, that is came to live in Israel, from the US, directly to Hebron. That was quite a move, and Malka has been here ever since. Yona survived a critical injury, being stabbed by an Arab terrorist in the back while in the Kasba. He ran after the terrorist, shooting until he finally hit him, and then, somehow, made his way back to Beit Hadassah, where he collapsed. A real close call. But a few years later he fell to cancer, leaving Malka and their large family here in Hebron.
Every year, at the memorial event, Malka finds interesting people to speak about various subjects. This year, her in-laws provided the evening’s attraction. Avigdor Sharon, among other things, produces wine. He spoke about the process, and brought several different wines to taste. They were very good.
As interesting as he was, his wife, Adi, was, in my opinion, the highlight. She has written several books, including a true story about her mother, who escaped from Romania with siblings, during World War Two. Finally boarding an overcrowded boat to Israel, they made it as far as Haifa, where the British, refusing to allow them into Israel, sent them to Cyprus for a year. At seventeen she finally made it to Israel, fulfilling her dream. Here, she found herself at Kibbutz Yavneh, working as a lookout in a tower, all by herself, night after night. Armed with a World War Two Czech rifle, she was told to watch for Egyptian airplanes trying to invade Israel and get to Tel Aviv. And if she saw a plane? She was to shoot it down.
One night, suddenly, she heard a buzz in the heavens above. She froze, searching the sky. And then, there it was, an Egyptian plane, flying low, above her. What to do? She raised the Czech rifle, pull the trigger, and shot, straight into the plane, which plummeted to the earth. A young refugee woman from Romania shot down an enemy war plane, with a rifle, all by herself! Iron Dome, sixty four years ago. If this isn’t heroism, I don’t know what is.
This is the same heroism displayed by the young border policewoman who shot and killed a terrorist last night in Hebron. This is the legacy of our ancestors, Mattityahu, Yehuda, and all the others, who fought, against all odds, and won.

As I write this, another group of heroes are celebrating these happy days. Hebron’s children are being treated to a Hanukkah play, complete with games, riddles, prizes, and of course, sufganiot, the traditional Hanukkah jelly donut. Seeing these joyous children in Hebron is a realization that the dream which began almost 4,000 years ago here in Hebron, has borne much fruit, which we have observed over the centuries and are privileged to witness here today.

Chodesh tov – Happy New Month, and Hanukkah Sameach – Happy Hanukkah!
All photos: David Wilder

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