Tuesday, July 30, 2013

No 'rules' or 'red lines'

No 'rules' or 'red lines'
July 30, 2013
This morning we woke up to a treat. Our favorite piece-partner began renewed negotiations with a formal policy declaration. Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, president of the PA: "In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli - civilian or soldier - on our lands."

Only a couple of weeks ago: Mahmoud Abbas honored terror leader with “Star of Honor” decoration:  Nayef Hawatmeh is the leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). The DFLP carried out many deadly terror attacks, including the killing of 22 schoolchildren and 4 adults after taking them hostage in Ma'alot, the killing of 9 children and 3 adults in an attack on a school bus, the killing of 7 in a Jerusalem bombing, the killing of 4 hostages in an apartment building in Beit Shean, all of which took place in the 1970's…

In addition, Israel continues to release terrorists. According to an article in HaAretz by Nadav Shragai in 2007: Palestinians released in previous gestures killed 177 Israelis… 6,912 militants were released between the years 1993 and 1999, and nearly 80 percent of them returned to terrorist activity.

Let’s not fool ourselves. Everything is up for grabs. Beginning with Hebron, Beit El, and Elon Moreh, onwards to Jerusalem and finally, Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva and Haifa.

"Our final aim is the liberation of all of historical Palestinian, from the river to the sea, even if the conflict continues for a thousand years, or for many more generations."So declared the ‘great palestinian stateman, Faisel Husseini, shortly before his death in 2001.
 “Husseini characterized the Oslo accords as a Palestinian Trojan horse that established the PLO and its chairman Yasser Arafat in the territories - an ambush of sorts that paved the way to the present Intifada.”

This is who we are dealing with, and what we have waiting for us. Clear as day.

This being the case, the time has come to clarify positions. I’ve been working as an official spokesperson for Hebron’s Jewish community for about 18 years. I have never said that in order for Jews to continue living in Hebron, the city must be rid of its Arab population.

However, we live on a two-way street. If it is considered racism to speak of transfer, or expulsion of Arabs, so too is it racism to discuss transfer, and expulsion of Jews. If is permissible to contemplate moving Jews off their land, so too it is permissible to contemplate moving out Arabs. If it is forbidden to speak about ejecting Arabs, so too it is forbidden to speak about expelling Jews from their land.

And not only in Hebron. And not only in Judea and Samaria. Rather, in all of the state of Israel. If the president of the PA can express his opinion, that any future ‘state of palestine’ will be Judenrein, why should Israel agree to host any Arabs in our state? If the so-called ‘state of palestine’ will not have any Jewish or Israeli citizens, why should Israel allow any Arabs to participate in our Knesset, our parliament? There are Arab MKs representing Hamas, Hizballah, Syria, and the palestinian authority, working passively and actively against the State of Israel. Arab MK Haneen Zoabi was a participant on the Gaza flotilla Mavi Marmara, assisting terrorists attempting to kill Israeli soldiers. Former MK Azmi Bishara fled Israel shortly prior to being arrested for treason for the passing military secrets to the enemy during the war in Lebanon. MK Ahmad Tibi: No Apologies For Being a 'Palestinian Patriot' - “I’m a Palestinian patriot whether you like it or not.”

Israeli MKs to aiding and abetting the enemy; Abbas doesn’t want us. Fine. Then we don’t want them too.

Of course, this policy is not, in any way, dependant on ‘creation of a palestinian state’ as such. If the policy is considered to be legitimate, (and I don’t hear the EU, the UN or anyone else condemning Abbas), then so be it. We can and should adopt the same policies. Now.

These thoughts may sound very harsh. But we are dealing with an extremely severe situation. The Arabs, in cooperation with the US, Tzippy Livni,
Yair Lapid, and Bibi Netanyahu are playing for keeps. Insiders say that the negotiations will be very difficult, but if Netanyahu has an agreement in hand, he’ll go with it.

Today, in Washington, ‘rules’ are being drawn up between Israel and the Arabs, mediated by the Americans. So too must we publicize our ‘rules.’

Last time around, before the expulsion from Gush Katif, various right-wing leaders publicly announced ‘red lines’ which would never be crossed. That was our downfall. Our foe, at that time, Ariel Sharon and his government, only had to go one up on our ‘red line’ and the game was lost. And of course, they made up new rules as the game went on. We ‘played by the old rules,’ and as a result, never had a chance.

Well, times have changed and, at least in theory, we must learn from our mistakes. The stakes are very very high. Hundreds of thousands of people, the heart of our land, and in the end, the existence of the State.  So it must be spelled out in no uncertain language.

There is only one rule:

Rule number 1: There are no rules, there aren’t any red lines. 

That, my friends, is the name of the game. It’s about time we win.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Shadows of 1929: Netzach Yisrael or Judenrein Israel?

Netzach Yisrael or Judenrein Israel?
July 24, 2013

Today we marked two tragedies at the Ancient Jewish cemetery in Hebron. Tomorrow will be the third.

The first was a memorial service for Elazar Lebovitch, who was killed on a Friday afternoon, 11 years ago, on the eve of his 21st birthday. He was driving his newlywed friends to Hebron for Shabbat when terrorists shot at his car, killing him. The same terrorists also shot and killed three members of the Dickstein family.  A short video from the memorial can be seen (in Hebrew) here. 

The events marking this murder include a hike from Hebron into the southern Hebron Hills, to the site of the attack. Later tonight the family is sponsoring a concert of ‘songs Elazar loved.’
Immediately after Elazar’s memorial, a 2nd, short ceremony was conducted for the first victim of the 1929 riots and massacre in Hebron, the yeshiva student, Shmuel Rosenhaltz. He was killed by an Arab mob late Friday afternoon on August 23, 1929, while studying at the Yeshiva, exactly 84 years ago today (by the Hebrew date). Ironically, he and Elazar were killed at almost the same time, on the same date, 73 years apart. Also, their graves are adjacent to one another.

Tomorrow will mark eighty four years since that horrid Shabbat day, when another 66 Jews were slaughtered in Hebron, by their Arab neighbors. In late afternoon, a memorial service will be conducted for them, again, at the ancient Jewish cemetery here in Hebron.

When discussing this event with visitors at the Beit Hadassah museum, in the memorial room for these people, I conclude by expressing two thoughts: In June, 1967, when Israel liberated Hebron, we did not conquer and occupy a foreign city; rather, we came back home. And second, we must always be able to protect ourselves. When we leave our security in the hands of others, the results are catastrophic.

It is well known that the day prior to start of the riots, Jews from Jerusalem, belonging to the Haganah, the Jewish defense organization, visited Hebron. Meeting with the city’s Jewish leadership, they offered them weapons and protection, due to the incitement of Haj Amin el Husseini, then the Mufti of Jerusalem. The Hebron Jews refused the weapons, saying that the Arabs would protect them and that weapons would only serve as a provocation for attacks.

As a result, when the rioting began, they had no means of protection, and were tortured and slaughtered without effective defense.

Twenty years ago, Israel signed the Oslo Accords. Since then, over 1,500 Jews have been killed in terror attacks. Israel relinquished Gaza eight years ago, and has since been the target of over 13,000 rocket attacks, sourced from the land we gave them. This past week, rockets have been shot three times into Israel.

This is why we must be able to protect ourselves, as a nation, as a people, as a country, without having to rely on anyone else. Experience has taught us the awful result of such reliance.

However, it seems that at present, I must add a third point to the first two.

As we observe these past events, it is mandatory to take a look into the future.  Israel is again on the verge of beginning ‘piece talks’ with our Arab enemies.  The demands on Israel, from the Arabs, the Americans, the Europeans, the Israeli left, and just about everyone else in the world, include a retreat, withdrawal and abandonment from almost all of Judea and Samaria, called the ’67 borders.’

Everything goes, including Hebron.

It is impossible, at this time, to know whether these talks will actually begin, and where they will lead. But having already gone through this before, and having had to have live with the results, the very idea of such ‘talks’ is very scary. Why? Because, in this case we are not discussing a ‘heart transplant.’ Rather we’re talking about removing a heart from a living organism and moving it to another body, leaving the first body literally heartless. That’s what will happen should Israel agree, G-d forbid, to chop up our country, giving away major parts of, if not all of, Judea and Samaria, including Hebron, Beit El, Shilo and parts of Jerusalem.

The arguments, on just about all issues, have been made many times before. (Download ‘Breaking the Lies,’ or listen to:  David Wilder speaking to J Street Campus/Youth leaders in Hebron, David Wilder answers journalists' questions in Hebron, David Wilder answers questions in Hebron).

But, these talks, coming on the heels of the 1929 massacre anniversary, lead me to another point.

What was Haj Amin el Husseini’s greatest victory in 1929? There were close to 150 Jews killed throughout pre-state Israel, during those few days in August, 1929. But that wasn’t his real success. His triumph was transforming Hebron into a Judenrein city for the first time in almost 1,000 years. The last time Jews hadn’t lived in Hebron was following the Crusader conquest and occupation, between 1100 and 1260. Then Jews were permitted to worship at Machpela, but were forbidden to live in Hebron. Since their return in 1260, following the Mameluke conquest, Jews lived here continuously.  Until August 27, 1929. Jews came back in 1931, and but stayed only until spring 1936, when again the British expelled them. Why should they have expelled the Jews?

A man whose family had been saved by Arabs during the riots related to me how his father wrote to the then British High Commissioner, asking why the ‘victims’ were being punished, why were the Jews being expelled?

The answer he received: ‘The Jews and Arabs can’t continue living together and there are simply more Arabs than Jews in Hebron. It’s easier to expel you than to expel them.’

This was Amin el Husseini’s greatest achievement – getting the Jews out of Hebron.

This was, of course, as he saw it, only the beginning. He had plans to annihilate all of Israel’s Jewish population following Rommel’s expected invasion during World War Two. Thankfully, that invasion never transpired.

But for the first time in almost 1,000 years, the city of Abraham was Jewless.

It is said that Amin el Husseini viewed Arafat as his successor. Arafat may be dead, but his ideas and ideals continue, via Abu Mazen, the PA and Hamas.

And now?  What’s in store for Hebron? The question must be put directly to the guy at the top, the Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu. Which direction is he going in? What will he be willing to sacrifice? Will he too be ready to leave Abraham and Sarah as orphans, following in the footsteps of an evil Haj and an anti-Semitic British High Commissioner? Or rather, walk in the footsteps of Israel’s first Prime Minister, who, in 1970 said, “Hebron is worthy to be Jerusalem's sister.”  

Or Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook, who said, following the 1929 massacre, Those who discourage the ones trying to rebuild the Jewish community in Hebron with arguments of political expedience; those who scorn and say, 'What are those wretched Jews doing?'; those who refuse to help build Hebron — they are attacking the very roots of our people. In the future they will need to give account for their actions. If ruffians and hooligans have repaid our kindness with malice, we have only one eternal response: Jewish Hebron will once again be built, in honor and glory!

The inner meaning of Hebron is to draw strength and galvanize ourselves with the power of Netzach Yisrael, Eternal Israel.

So, Bibi - Do you emulate the Haj or the Rabbi, the British HC or the first Prime Minister of Israel? Netzach Yisrael or Judenrein Israel?


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A taste of Tisha b'Av

A taste of Tisha b'Av
July 17, 2013
The question arises: why, in the year 2013, in the State of Israel, should we still fast on the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av – known as Tisha b'Av? We are back in Israel, we have independence, we are back in Jerusalem, so why the necessity of a fast? True, both the first and second Temples were destroyed on Tisha b'Av, but being back in Israel should be enough to perhaps mark this day in a different way, without the severity of a 25 hour fast. After all, the destruction of the Temples was a forerunner to exile, galut; today the directions have been reversed; we are in a period of redemption, geula.

A few days ago, after the desecration of the Mezuzahs at Ma'arat HaMachpela, we became aware of some very interesting information.

Ma'arat HaMachpela, the tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, is, theoretically, overseen by the State of Israel. A couple of years ago Prime Minister Netanyahu added this holy place to his list of 'national heritage sites.' The defense ministry, together with the police, have legal jurisdiction at the site.

However, as with other such significant places, such as Temple Mount in Jerusalem, another organization has official, or unofficial authority, that being the Waqf, the Moslem Religious trust. Any authority they maintain is granted to them by the state of Israel, as these sites are within the state of Israel, part of the state of Israel and under Israeli civilian and security authority.

The present head of the Waqf at Ma'arat HaMachpela in Hebron is one Tayser Abu Sneneh. He was appointed to this position, it seems, a few weeks ago. He has quite an illustrious past. On the evening of May 2, 1980, he was stationed on the roof of a building across the street from Beit Hadassah. When a group of Jewish men arrived outside the building, beginning to sing and dance in the street, Abu Sneneh and his other 3 compatriots started throwing hand grenades and shooting. Six men were killed, about 20 wounded. Abu Sneheh, it seems, was the organizer and leader of this terrorist operation, in the center of Hebron.

Abu Sneneh, today a free man, is still quite proud of his murderous, bloody past. His facebook cover photo shows him, with the other murderers, 'victorious.' And this creature is today running the Waqf at Ma'arat HaMachpela.

Is it any wonder that Arabs should desecrate this site, given the opportunity to do so?

Shades of Tisha b'Av.

A few days ago Israel was notified that: "the European Union has decreed that contracts between EU member states and Israel must include a clause stating that east Jerusalem and the West Bank are not part of the State of Israel and therefore not part of the contract.” “The decree, which will go into effect Friday, will forbid any cooperation, awarding of grants, prizes and funding for any Israeli entity in the specified areas."

These same countries did nothing while Jews were being shoveled into ovens at Aushwitz, while preventing Jewish immigration to pre-State Israel. Effectively, they assisted in erasing Judaism from Europe. Presently, they are trying to force Jews from their homes in Israel. Refusing to accept Israeli legitimacy in Jerusalem or throughout Judea and Samaria, they have adopted tactics reminiscent of Nazi Germany, demanding that Israeli products manufactured in Judea and Samaria be 'specially marked.' And now, they are demanding that any agreement signed between EU countries and the state of Israel contain a clause, 'recognizing the illegitimacy of Israeli presence in Judea, Samaria and parts of Jerusalem. In other words, Israel is being forced to accept and sign on EU policy in any agreement made with them. If this isn’t blatant anti-Semitism on a grand scale, what is?

But these are the least of our ‘shades of Tisha b’Av.

Exactly eight years ago today, the day after the 9th of Av, the state of Israel began the expulsion from, and abandonment of Gush Katif and the northern Shomron. Some 10,000 people were exiled from their homes. According to statistics posted on Arutz 7-Israel National News, over 50% of those expelled are still lacking permanent housing. Over 16% are still unemployed. And others still have not recovered from the shock of the expulsion.

Of course, among those affected by this horrid act were residents of Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beer Sheva, Kiryat Malachi, and just about all the southern area of Israel. Only some 13,000 missiles have been shot into Israel from the land we abandoned to our enemies eight years ago.

And what about our land? What about Eretz Yisrael? Why don’t we hear the crying and wailing of our holy land, being used by enemies to attack our people, land, no longer lived on by Jews, rather by those who wish to eradicate us, from the rest of our land, and, in essence, from existence?

The solutions are relatively easy. Remove the Waqf from all power, from all authority, in Hebron and Jerusalem. Place all our holy sites under total control of Israel, without stuttering and apologizing.

Build, build, build. In all of Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria. Implement the Levy report, allowing Jews to freely purchase and live in property throughout all of Judea and Samaria. Let the nations of the world know that we, and we alone, are the rulers of our land. They will not order us how to live in our land.

And of course, as a grand finale, take back Gaza, take back Gush Katif, repopulate the lands abandoned, let the families go back home, home to their land, their communities.

And let the rest of the world know – we will never, ever abandon our land again. We’ve been expelled by foreign powers, our holy city of Jerusalem ransacked and destroyed. But we’ve come home. Hebron will never again be Judenrein, Ma’arat HaMachpela will never again be off-limits, Jerusalem will remain, in its entirety, our capital city, for eternity.

This is what should be done. Yet, there are those, among us, who still don’t understand, who are will to make the same mistakes again, to expel Jews from their homes and abandon our land to our enemies.

Until all learn, until we realize and actualize our rights to our land, in Jerualem, in Hebron, and throughout all Eretz Yisrael, we’ll have to continue fasting on Tisha B’Av. Because, anyone who breaths deeply, can still smell the smoke pouring out of Beit HaMikdash, the Temple, in Jerusalem.

When we put the fire out, and start to rebuild, we’ll be able to stop fasting, and begin celebrating, on the 9th of Av.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Who’s afraid of the big bad….

Who’s afraid of the big bad….
July 14, 2013
Who’s afraid of the big bad…. Many years ago I participated in Friday morning tours around Hebron. I clearly remember, one such day, when we were escorted by Rechavam Ze’evi, Gandhi, HY”D. He asked where we would go, and pointed in a particular direction. Someone commented, ‘no, we can’t go there. Even the army doesn’t go there.’ With that, Gandhi exclaimed, ‘if the IDF won’t go there, we will.’ And off we went.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs, Ma’arat HaMachpela, is divided into two sections; one for anyone not Jewish and the other for anyone not Moslem. Excepting ten days a year, when they have access to the entire building, and ten days a year when we have access to all of it. Each can choose the days they want, which usually consist of various holidays.

During the Moslem month of Ramadan, they have the entire building each of the four Fridays of the month. Being that Ramadan began last week, this past Friday the site was closed to Jews and open only to Moslems. In order to ensure that all Jewish belongings and property remain safe and intact, all moveable items are removed to a side room, while cabinets and other similar objects are locked.

On Friday night, following closing of the site, a group of Jews were allowed to enter to move all the items stored, back to their original places, in preparation for Saturday - Shabbat morning worship services. To their surprise and shock, they discovered that two Mezuzahs were missing, and a third damaged.

A Mezuzah is a small scroll, written by hand on parchment, placed in a storage case, and hung on all doorposts of a Jewish home or building. It is considered a holy item, and is very rarely removed, after being affixed to a doorpost. Two of these were stolen during the Moslem access to the entire site, while a third was damaged.

This morning, Deputy Religious Affairs minister, Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, visited the site for early morning prayers. He then met with Hebron and Kiryat Arba residents and leaders, as well as with the local police commander of the place. To his utter surprise, and chagrin, the officer told him that during the Arab holy days, when they access the entire site, no Israeli security forces are present inside the building. This, out of fear for their safety and security.

To be fair, this particular officer is not responsible for security at this holy site. Security is placed in the hands of the IDF and a border police contingent. Actual policy is determined by the army and defense ministry. But his revelation left many present, including myself, with a terrible feeling. How is it possible that the arguably best army in the world, which may have to deal with an Iranian nuclear threat, which has developed the most advanced weaponry on earth, is afraid of a few thousand Arabs, at Machpela?

There are cameras inside the building, but as the officer explained, they were not able to film or capture the culprits. And this is not the first time such damage has occurred. Once a couple of books of Psalms were forgotten. We received them back in pieces.

On Friday night, our workers discovered three books of Koran, which the Arabs had forgotten. Today they were returned to the Arabs, without any damage having been done to them.

It is, by my way of thinking, unimaginable that the IDF should be afraid to station troops wherever, and whenever necessary. If this entails decreasing, and limiting the number of Arabs in the building at given time, so be it. We don’t have to tell the IDF what to do, or how to operate. But our enemies should know that there is a price to pay for desecration of Jewish holy sites and items. Otherwise, it’s quite predictable that this coming Friday, and the one after that, and the one after that, what exactly will happen. The desecration will continue, and that is unthinkable. Not in the state of Israel. As MK Orit Struck said this morning, for 700 years the Arabs prevented us from entering this holy site, and now, we are willing to allow them total access, denying ourselves our own access, and they take advantage of that to defile our holy place?! Absurd!

Our security services must not be afraid of anything. To the contrary, our enemies should be shivering and shaking at the very thought of seeing an Israeli, in uniform or out of uniform, knowing that such violations of holy places, such as Ma’arat HaMachpela in Hebron will entail the most serious of repercussions.

We must not be afraid. Of anything. It is them who must be afraid. An only them. We have nothing to fear, we never have, and we never will. Period.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Beit HaMachpela in Hebron: Rectification

Beit HaMachpela in Hebron: Rectification
July 1, 2013
This time of the year is difficult. Last week marked the beginning of ‘the three weeks,’ a twenty-one day period of mourning, concluding with the Tisha b’Av fast, the anniversary of the destruction of the first and second Temples. During these three weeks we refrain from celebrations, such as weddings and other festivities. Generally speaking, these days are meant to be a time of deep introspection, attempting to fathom the horrors the led to, and followed the destruction of Jerusalem and eventual exile from our land.

Jewish tradition explains that the horrors of the ninth day of Av did not begin with the fall of the Temples in Jerusalem. Rather, many hundreds of years earlier, while still in the desert, following the exodus from Egypt, the Israelites, accepted the account of ten spies, who reported that: The land, through which we have passed to spy it out, is a land that eats up its inhabitants …And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night…And they said one to another: 'Let us appoint a leader, and let us return to Egypt.
These words, forsaking Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel, were uttered on Tisha b’Av, the ninth of Av. This date being the root of the calamities which befell the Jewish people on this day, including not only the destruction of the two Temples, but also the day on which Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. 

Unfortunately, the Tisha b’Av fast does not designate an end to our sorrow. For exactly eight years ago, on Monday the 10th of Av, the day after the fast, Ariel Sharon’s government followed in the footsteps of Titus and Nebuchadnezzar by destroying Gush Katif in Gaza and communities in northern Samaria, leaving 10,000 homeless, and many of them jobless. And leaving parts of our land in the hands of our enemies. The cost: over 13,000 rockets shot into Israel, and two small wars. So far.
A few days ago, HaAretz newspaper reported: Likud minister: Netanyahu ready to compromise, withdraw from over 90% of West Bank if security concerns met. Minister says security remains Netanyahu's main concern, but the PM knows that for a peace agreement, 'he will have to evacuate more than a few settlements'. 

The various and assorted media reports dealing with the US attempts to renew ‘piece talks’ between Israel and the Arabs spew forth numerous rumors such as the HaAretz story. Is it true? Who knows? But, Netanyahu has declared his intention to create a ‘palestinian state’ and has participated in chopping up Hebron. In January, 1997 he signed and implemented the Hebron Accords, thereby abandoning most of Hebron to Arafat and the PA. That being the case, the above-quoted headline could very well be true. 

For the time being, Kerry left Israel without achieving his goal. The talks are still stuck. But that’s not enough. We must continue to take affirmative action – not only say no – but progress. 

That ‘s what happened today. A military appeals panel ruled that Beit HaMachpela in Hebron was legally purchased and Jews should be allowed to move back in.

At the beginning of April, 2012, a group of Jewish families moved into a newly purchased building across the street from the Tomb of the Patriarchs, calling it ‘Beit HaMachpela.’ A few days later, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, together with Netanyahu, ordered the families expelled. No real reason was given. We later learned that the Attorney General told the Prime Minister that he might be accused of war crimes in Geneva for ‘appropriating Arab property in Hebron.’ Since then, the building has remained empty. 

Despite Israeli insistence that the building was not legally purchased, the PA arrested an Arab named Abu Shahala and ostensibly sentenced him to death for his role in the sale. 

Numerous Israeli leaders visited Beit HaMachpela, including Minister Moshe Bugi Ya’alon, who said during Succot, 2012, that the government would ‘make the right decisions’ and also declared his belief in the continued development of Hebron and all of Judea and Samaria. He said that the return to these places in 1967 was not ‘temporary’ and promised to assist in the continues growth of the community. 

Presently he has a chance to fulfill his promise, as Defense Minister, buy signing the necessary permits allowing Jews to move back into Beit HaMachpela. 

This is the rectification of the sins of the spies, the spies in the desert and the spies who relinquished parts of our holy land in the past 30 years. This is the answer to those who continue to preach hate against Jews in Israel in general, and specifically against Jews in Judea and Samaria, and most prominently, against Jews in Hebron.

This is the appropriate response: returning to our land, and to our homes, and in this case, to Beit HaMachpela in Hebron.