Friday, January 25, 2013

Yeah - Hebron has an MK!

Yeah - Hebron has an MK!

David Wilder
January 25, 2013

Well, the election is history. The results weren’t exactly what we’d have prayed for, nor were they what we expected. The polls showed slightly different results. On the other hand, despite errors similar to those made in 1992, the left-wing dream of a ’mahapach,’ that is a ’revolution,’ a changing of the guard, a total defeat of the ruling prime minister, didn’t happen. The new coalition might not be as ’right’ as the present government, but it won’t be Rabin-Peres – 1992.
However, this time around, history was made. For the first time, Hebron has a representative in the Knesset. This is of no small significance.

Over the years, the Hebron community has played a major role in Israeli life and Israeli politics. Beginning with Rabbi Moshe Levinger and Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, under the guidance of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, Hebron developed, materially and spiritually. Over the years, the community was led by such outstanding leaders as Menachem Livni, Yechiel Leiter, Yehuda Rider, Ze’ev ’Zambish’ Hever, Avraham Ben Yosef, Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, Noam Arnon and others.

Another one of the unsung heroes of Hebron’s rebirth, is a 52 year old woman with 11 children and as many grandchildren.

Orit Struk grew up in Jerusalem. While in high school she became religious and later spent much time with Rabbi Chaim Druckman and his family.

After marrying Rabbi Avraham Struk, the couple lived the first year of their married life in Yamit, prior and during the expulsion. They then moved to Hebron, where they’ve lived for over 30 years. For a number of years Orit led Hebron’s legal and political departments and acted as a spokesperson for the community.

Witnessing the travesty of justice following expulsions from communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, Orit founded the Organization for Human Rights in Judea and Samaria. This was the first, and only human rights organization dealing with massive police brutality against Jews. As a result, dozens of police were brought to trial, many of whom were convicted, fined and/or fired.

According to her official bio page on the Bayit Yehuda web site: Within this organization, she waged a struggle against police violence, including PID complaints and civil suits against police officers who attacked settlers and right-wing activists. She has published reports and studies which demonstrated a professional, scientific and statistical approach, detailing the discrimination andbreakdown of the rule of law against residents of Judea and Samaria. She revealed the conduct of a withering law enforcement system against demonstrators of the Gush Katif expulsion, and subsequently initiated and led the amnesty law for opponents of the expulsion. She led legal battles, public and parliamentary, against restraining orders, confiscation of weapons, violations of legal rights ofchildren, property rights, police brutality during expulsion from outposts, violationof the rights of detainees, and violation of the right to protest.

 Over the past few years, Orit acted as director of the Land of Israel caucus and lobby in the Knesset, which consisting of 42 MKs. They successfully wagedcampaigns against the building freeze and other governmental policies. They also brought about Israel’s declaration of Ma’arat HaMacpela, the Tomb of thePatriarchs and Matriarchs, and Rachel's Tomb, as national heritage sites. They passed the "boycott law" and led a governmental change of policy and legalposition on the issue of the outposts, while promoting the establishment of the Justice Edmond Levi commission.

Orit Struk with Gideon Saar, Noam Arnon and Avraham Ben Yosef outside Machpela

A few days ago, Orit Struk was elected to the Knesset on the ‘Bayit Yehudi – Jewish Home list.

The Knesset, beginning in February, 1949, celebrates its ‘birthday’ tomorrow, on the holiday of Tu B’Shvat. Actually though, the roots of today’s ruling body began thousands of years ago, here in Hebron. Here, Abraham established the rules of ‘Chesed,’ of lovingkindness. Yitzhak initiated the traits of ‘Gevurah,’ strength and heroism. Ya’akov commenced Beit Yisrael, the house of Israel, Am Yisrael, the Jewish people.

But we must remember, Hebron was not only home to our Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Hebron was also the site of the beginning of the Davidic monarchy. David ruled in Hebron for seven and a half years, following the death of Saul in a war with the Philistines. Here commenced the first ’Knesset’, the Kingdom of David, the real roots of eternal Jewish rule in Israel.

It is fitting, as the State of Israel approaches its 65th birthday, that finally, Hebron is officially represented in our national parliament. Orit Struk is a worthy delegate of Hebron’s Jewish community. Her public activity, leadership, and personal example are a shining paradigm of how today a Jew can and should live in Israel.

We wish her much success in her new position, for her achievements will be a triumph for Hebron, the State of Israel, and all Am Yisrael.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reverse Russian Roulette

Shevat 3, 5773, 1/14/2013

Reverse Russian Roulette

This morning I received word that an unusual event was about to take place. Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Yvette Lieberman was coming to visit in Hebron.

Why unusual? Numerous diplomats, including ministers and MKs visit Hebron fairly frequently. What was different this time was the personality, the visitor. I have no recollection when was the last time Lieberman visited Hebron.

He lives in Gush Etzion, about a half hour from here. He’s had fairly significant positions for quite a while, but doesn’t frequent Hebron.

Actually, immediately after leaving his car, surrounded by a mass of pushing, shoving cameras, he stopped for a moment and revealed the reason of this visit. He told that on election day, in 1996, when he was one of Netanyahu’s chief honchos, after the polls closed, when the results weren’t looking great for Bibi, he decided to come to Ma’arat HaMachpela in Hebron.

Poignantly he described receiving a phone call while standing on the outside stairs, with information that the numbers seemed to have changed, that Bibi was winning.

His party entered the building, prayed,  and upon leaving received another call sayingthat the results were final. Bibi was PM.  (Big smile).

So, it seems that this time the former FM decided to come and pray before that fact, rather than after.

The big question is, what was he praying for?

Various articles are showing the Likud Beitenu party forming a coalition with the ‘Center Left,’  preferring Mufaz, Livni and Lapid to Shas and Bennett.

Maybe he was praying for enough votes to be able to put that together.

Or maybe he has information we don’t, showing that his party could conceivably lose.
Doesn’t seem likely.
But he did announce that should he be convicted of fraud, he will leave politics. Guys like Lieberman really don’t want to walk away from jobs like his. So maybe he was praying for acquittal.
He didn’t tell anyone. But, in the Abraham and Sarah hall, after chasing out the reporters and photographers, following some Psalms and afternoon Mincha prayers, a special prayer of thanksgiving, recited every Shabbat, was repeated, praising G-d for all his goodness.
Noam Arnon and I tried to get in a word edgewise. We both, briefly, mentioned the disgraceful situation at Machpela due to the refusal to allow us to roof the open courtyard. A few days ago the useless tent above the courtyard dripped water and snow onto prayer books  and chairs, soaking everything. Usually, during heavy rain, the site floods.

Lieberman heard us, and murmured something about ‘remembering’ this. I wasn’t overly impressed.
Leaving the building, again being photographed from every which direction, he refused to say anything to the many journalists who had been invited to participate in the visit. Lieberman also didn’t see any necessity to visit any of the other sites, or neighborhoods in Hebron. He jumped into his car and drove off.
We had some other questions for him, but didn’t have a chance to ask. For example, his statement that the ‘2- state solution’ will be a pillar of the next Netanyahu government’s policy. We wanted to know what, in his opinion, would happen to Ma’arat HaMachpela and Hebron should this policy be, G-d forbid, implemented.

But we didn’t get a chance to ask.

Before elections politicians tend to do strange things that would never enter their minds to do at any other time. Like, in this case, come to Hebron. It would have been nice had the former FM exclaimed, even during an election campaign, that ‘Hebron with be Jewish forever’, or ‘we will never abandon our Patriarchs and Matriarchs.’ But,nyet. Nada.

I sort of got the feeling that Lieberman was playing an updated version of reverse Russian roulette.  Spinning the barrel, letting the bullet fall into place and then pull the trigger. Come into Hebron, mutter some words at a holy place, and then wait for the results, hoping the prayers hit home.

I have another feeling that Avigdor Yvette Lieberman is going to need more than that before he’s able to take his seat in the next government. Otherwise, he’s liable to take a seat next to Katzav in Ramla, the place left empty when Deri went home.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

No to Netanyahu

Following the article I wrote thanking Moshe Feiglin, I received an email asking if I was going to vote for the Likud in the upcoming election. I replied with a question: “What is this, spam? Of course not!”
Why not? There are many answers to that question. A few of them:
No number 1: This morning on IsraelNationalNews (Arutz 7)Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided, Monday, that the outline of the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Authority (PA) conflict included in his Bar-Ilan University speech will constitute part of the platform for his campaign ahead of the Knesset election in threeweeks… A senior right-wing political source told Arutz Sheva, "During the next term he will uproot communities and no one can say he did not announce it in advance.
In other words, Netanyahu is dangerous. This is nothing new. Netanyahu, followinghis election in 1996, divided Hebron and signed the Wye Accords.
No number 2: Various voices, in all sorts of high places, are saying that the next Defense minister will be Ehud Barak. Now, rumors are just that, only rumors. But they cannot be totally ignored. In this case, why? Barak shouldn’t have been Defense Minister in the first place. He’s a disaster. Certainly for Israeli policy in Judea and Samaria. Barak should have been replaced when he split from Labor, leaving him with a small Knesset faction, not big enough to warrant such an esteemed position in the government. We don’t want him there again. Let him enjoy his retirement at the beach where he can’t do any harm.
No number 3: True, there are many people on the Likud list who I really do admire andtrust. To a degree. I was very upset when Ze’ev Elkin, who lives in Gush Etzion, stated that he’d expel Jews from their homes were he give such orders to do so. He didn’t have to say that. He’s a politician. He could have wiggled his way out without publicly expressing support for the most illegal command that can be ordered: Expel Jews from their homes.
It’s also true that Naftali Bennet, head of the Bayit Yehudi party has said some stupid things in the past couple of weeks. The difference is, 1) he’s not yet an experienced politician, and 2) his party, the people around him, would never let his words become policy, and I believe most, if not all the people on his list, would never implement such an order. The Likud, on the other hand, has initiated and implemented such policies. I trust them less than Bennet and his friends, at least until they prove that they’re not worthy of that support.
No number four: Actually, this isn’t a no, it’s a yes. There is a way to keep Netanyahu honest, or at least, the way to prevent him from wandering too far off the path, and actualizing the statements quoted in number 1 above. This is to have a very strong group of idealistic politicians, many of whom are also religious, acting as a contra to  idiotic policies of expulsion, land abandonment and unilateral, or not so unilateral decisions on a ‘two-state solution.
So, you ask, who am I voting for? I’m not making a campaign pitch for any one party. However, there is a very high possibility that Hebron will have three representatives in the next Knesset. My friends and colleagues, Orit Struk and Rabbi Hillel Horowitz are both listed in realistic slots in the Bayit Yehudi party, at least according the most polls. Baruch Marzel will also get in if Otzma l’Yisrael – Strength to Israel, receives enough votes for three mandates. That also seems to be a realistic possibility. (I’m really looking forward to debates between MK Marzel and MK Tibi and MK Zuabi and MK Struk. Will be very interesting.)
Personally, I trust both of these parties. Others have helped us in the past, from many of the parties, including Kadima, Likud, Shas, Yahadut HaTorah, and others. But whenit comes to putting one ballot in the box, I go with one of those two. Of course, it’s important to ensure that they both get in; if Otzma l’Yisrael doesn’t get the mandatory two mandates, all their votes are lost, wasted. But, as far as polls can be believed, they’re going to make it. The question is whether they’ll get two or three MKs in the next Knesset.
Feiglin’s people say that voting for such parties is ‘sectoral’ while voting for Likud is ‘mainstream.’ Nonsense. The way to help Moshe Feiglin in the next Knesset is to haveHillel, Orit and Baruch, together with all their MKs on his side, helping him push for what he believes in. Without them, he’s liable to be lost in a sea of iniquity.
Each election is important. Sometimes we say that they are ‘fateful.’ It’s true. Whocould have imagined that, following the 1992 Rabin victory, Israel would sit down with Hitler #2, shake hands, and kiss and hug him? Who could have predicted that Netanyahu would divide Hebron? Who could have dreamed, in their wildest dreams, that Sharon would abandon Gush Katif and expel 10,000 Jews from their homes? So elections are fateful, and also unpredictable. Actually, not so much are the elections unpredictable, rather the policies instigated and actualized by the victors.
There are things we have control over, that we have what to say about. We’re not prophets who can read the future. So, at least for the time being, we must choose aswisely as we can. And voting for Netanyahu is definitely not wise. That’s why I say No to Netanyahu.