Friday, July 21, 1995

Question Mark

This week (July 13-21, 1995) has been one of the more difficult sets of seven
days that we have experienced this summer: the murder of two 19 year old men
by "peace-loving" Hamas, who, according to some Israelis were actually
justified in what they did - Major General Ilan Biran stated that Wadi Kelt is
closed to Israeli tourists because it is ‘dangerous there'; two ‘of the best'
air force pilots killed in a training accident; the Arad music festival
tragedy in which two people were trampled to death by thousands of
‘music-lovers' whose hearts desire was to hear ‘Mashina'; the suicide of Motta
Gur; in Hebron, children arrested, women beaten by the ‘best in blue'; and
then there is the latest item in: ‘Israeli' Arabs living in East Jerusalem
will now be paying taxes, not to the Israeli IRS, but rather to the
‘Palestinian Authority' IRS. In other words, East Jerusalem has been given,
defacto, to Arafat and his cronies. Jibril Ragub, a wanted terrorist, in
charge of Arab intelligence in Jericho, is ‘running' East Jerusalem.
I've given this weeks' column a strange name, ?, because that's
exactly how I feel: Question-Mark. I am privileged to travel around Hebron
with many people, from all over the world, showing them the sites of ancient
Hebron and the renewed Jewish Community of Hebron, Jews and gentiles alike.
There are others in Kiryat Arba-Hebron who know more about this area's history
than myself, but I have a fairly good knowledge of the places and events. But
with every group I take around, almost without fail, I have people, tourists,
many of them not native Israelis but Israelis too, who ask me questions that I
have no answers to. Like: Why are the Arabs still allowed to come over to the
"Jewish side" of Ma'arat HaMachpela when Jews aren't allowed on the "Arab
side"?; Why don't the Jews have total control over all of the ‘Jewish side' of
Ma'arat HaMachpela, (such as storerooms, memorial rooms, etc.)?; Why can't
Jews see the ‘Isaac Hall'?; How could a Jewish policeman even consider hitting
a Jewish child or woman?; How can an ISRAELI GOVERNMENT want to give a JEWISH
CITY like HEBRON to the Arabs? I get all these questions, and more. I have
only one answer. I tell them: "I don't understand. When you do, please
explain it to me, because I really don't understand."
Adir Zik, a superb movie producer (he produced Hebron's 18 minute
video-film, "Hebron-Past, Present and Forever" available for $20.), also
presents the popular radio show "Zikukim shel Adir" (The Sparks of Adir) on
Arutz 7, (OUR radio station, as opposed to State radio, Kol Yisrael) every
Friday morning. This morning he repeated a story he's already broadcast
twice. I present it here for your perusal and consideration. (It is a true
During the days of the Roman Emperor Caesar Caliguila, in 32CE, before
the destruction of the 2nd Temple, Jews lived together with Greeks in the
small city of Yavneh. The Greeks wanted to construct a large statue to be
placed in a public place and used for idol worship in honor of the Emperor.
The Jews of Yavneh strenuously objected, causing the foreigners to complain to
Caliguila, stating that the Jews didn't accept his supreme rule. Caliguila
reacted by ordering construction of a large statue, to be stationed in the
Temple in Jerusalem. Knowing that the Jews would resist, he ordered his
general Petronus to go to Israel with half of the Roman army, to take charge
of the operation and to enforce the decree. Eight years later the statue was
ready and Petronus arrived, with his army, at Acre, in Israel.
The Israel's, aware of the impending crisis, were upset beyond
description. A statue, for idol worship, in the holy Temple, was unthinkable.
All the people of Israel, tens of thousands of citizens, men, women,
children, and babies, arrived in Acre. They stationed themselves before
Petronus's camp, and refused to leave. When Petronus appeared before them,
the entire crowd fell on the ground before him. He ordered them to rise, and
when they did, they covered their heads with dust from the ground, a sign of
mourning. He asked, "Do you rebel against the Emperor?" They replied that
they would not fight the Emperor's army, but they would die before they would
allow a statue to be placed in the Temple. Petronus was overwhelmed with the
demonstration and was unable to reply. Instead, he moved his camp to the city
of Tiberia.
The Jews wouldn't give up. They came in droves, from all over the
country. It was planting season - they should all have been in the fields.
But instead they gathered in Tiberia, thousands upon thousands. The stood by
Petronus' camp for 40 days, without moving, paying no attention to weather,
hunger, or the economic devastation they were bringing on themselves, by not
planting in their fields. After 40 days, Petronus, overcome, asked them
again, if they were rebelling against the Emperor. They replied in the
negative, repeating that if he planned to fulfill the Emperor's orders they
would first commit mass suicide.
Petronus, a general who had mercy on no soul, was dumbfounded. He
sent a message to Caliguila in Rome, asking him to rescind the order.
Caliguila responded by ordering Petronus to commit suicide. However, this
order was delayed in arriving because of weather conditions. In the meantime,
Caliguila was murdered in Rome and his orders were canceled.
Maybe it's time we do the same thing.

Friday, July 14, 1995


Obedience-Acquiescence-CapitulationJuly 14, 1995
This week the following report was received from IMRA, by Dr. Aaron Lerner:
“Marwan Kanafani serves as Yasser Arafat's advisor and spokesman within the President's Office. In an exclusive telephone interview from Gaza, Kanafani explained the Palestinian Authority's (PA) position with regards to Jewish worship in holy places. ‘The Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem and the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus, if they are religious sites, will be under the auspices of the Ministry of Religious Affairs with cooperation and coordination with security forces so that there are no problems. Let it be clear that we are not interested in just getting responsibility for the religious sites - we plan to take over and bear all responsibility for the entire area.’”
"As for the Ibrahim Mosque in Hebron [known as "The Cave of the Patriarchs" by the Jews - IMRA], this issue will be dealt within political negotiations with much importance and dedication and concentration to make everyone happy. We are not trying to manipulate everything for our own benefit... I don't want any problems for us or anyone else. The settlers are there for political reasons and not religious reasons - everyone knows that. If it is a religious place, it is a mosque - for Moslems to worship. If there is a claim about worshipping for Jews there, then we will examine it. We will take a position once we take control of Hebron and I promise you that it will be rational and responsible."
I spend a great deal of time inside the Caves of Patriarchs, giving free tours to people from all over the world, Jews and Gentiles alike. Ma’arat HaMachpela, the Caves of the Patriarchs, is divided between Jews and Arabs - Ohel Avraham and Ohel Ya’akov, the memorial rooms commemorating Abraham and Sarah, and Jacob and Lea, are on the “Jewish side.” The largest room in the building, called “Ohel Yizhak” commemorating Isaac and Rebecca, is on the “Arab side.” The Jews have no access to this hall; the Arab members of the Waqf, the political-religious Muslim leadership, are allowed to be present in the “Jewish side.”
Almost daily, at least one tourist asks me, “Why should the Isaac Hall be closed to the Jews? What do the Arabs care about Isaac and Rebecca? If anything, you would think that they would demand the Abraham Hall- but why Isaac?”
There is, of course, only one answer to this question. The Arabs have no affiliation to Isaac or Rebecca. In all actuality, they have absolutely no affiliation to the entire site. The 2,000 year old structure, built by Herod over the tombs of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, was conquered by the Arabs after the Crusades, and was CLOSED TO THE JEWS FOR 700 YEARS. (We will take a position once we take control of Hebron and I promise you that it will be rational and responsible.") JEWISH WORSHIPPERS WERE NOT ALLOWED INTO THE BUILDING TO PRAY FROM 1267 UNTIL OUR VICTORY IN THE SIX-DAY WAR IN 1967. BUT THE ESSENCE OF THE BUILDING, AND ITS ORIGIN, ARE ROOTED IN THE DAYS OF THE PATRIARCHS AND MATRIARCHS - THOUSANDS OF YEARS BEFORE MUHAMMAD WALKED THE FACE OF THE EARTH.
Arabs have, without fail, built Mosques at all sites important to Jews - they did the same thing at Temple Mount, Joseph’s Tomb, and Rachel’s Tomb, among others. Would somebody please explain to me the importance of Rachel’s Tomb to Islam? Or even better, the Arabs claim that Joseph is buried in, none other than, MA’ARAT HAMACHPELA IN HEBRON! So what do they want from Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem? The only reason these places have any importance to the Arabs, and the sole reason they have built Mosques at these sites is because they know how important they are to the Jewish People. And unfortunately, they seem to know what many Jews have forgotten.
That brings me to the second subject that must be touched on. Several days ago fifteen major Israeli Rabbis issued a ruling forbidding soldiers to obey military orders commanding them to evict Jews or Jewish settlements, or military bases anywhere in Eretz Yisrael, including all Yehuda and Shomron. This ruling has blossomed into a full-fledged national crisis. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Police Minister Moshe Shachal, Minister Yossi Sarid and Minister Shulamit Aloni (to name a few) were outraged by the ruling. The Prime Minister stated "this will lead to total anarchy and a state that will be a banana republic.” He described the Rabbis as “little Ayatollahs.”
At the time of this writing, the Attorney General’s decision not to bring the Rabbis to trial is being challenged by a Tel-Aviv lawyer who is appealing to the Israeli Supreme Court, demanding that they be indicted for Incitement to Rebel against the Israeli government.
There are a number of fundamental questions raised by the ruling, but perhaps the major issue to be dealt with is, as I wrote last week, the evolving character of the Jewish People in the Land of Israel. I see no reason to repeat that which I have already written, but in short: What kind of Jewish People are going to mold and develop Judaism in Eretz Yisrael. Are we Jews who happen to live in the Middle Eastern country called Israel, who want to live as do the Swiss, or are we Jews who live in the Land of Israel because this is our G-d - given Homeland, which we returned to after a 2,000-year-old exile, to live as Jews, not as Americans, Russians, Swiss, or anyone else.
We are actually involved in a war - an ideological war - on the future of the Jewish People. Any war has declared generals - officers who give the commands. The representatives-commanders of a “Swiss Israel” - Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Yossi Sarid, Shulamit Aloni, are attempting to totally devastate the “other side” - those of us who believe in Am Yisrael with a Jewish character, a Jewish culture, a Jewish way of life. They are using “democracy” the same way that Adolph Hitler used German democracy sixty years ago to lead the German People into World War Two. Their declaration concerning what is permissible and what is forbidden have only one aim: to destroy a “Jewish” Israel. The first step in this direction is the dismantling of Yesha - the dismemberment of ideological values that endangers the existence of a “Jewish Israel.” The ensuing debate about obedience of military commands boils down to three words: Obedience or Acquiescence or Capitulation. Our true leadership, the “generals” of true Israel, realizes that Rabin’s definition of obedience is not obedience - it is acquiescence to a Swiss Israel, it is capitulation to our mortal enemies - terrorists who have murdered and maimed Jewish men, women and children and who are now being rewarded for their efforts.
Reporters keep asking: “are we heading toward a Civil War?” But the question is always asked in the sense that it is we, the “right” the “extremists” who are starting - firing the symbolic “first shot.” It is finally time to come to the realization that the “first shot” has already been fired - and not by the extreme right. Rabin and Peres fired the first shot when they shook hands with the terrorist Arafat on the White House Lawn in front of the entire world. Those of us who disagree have been holding back, restraining ourselves, doing everything possible to prevent the processes begun by Rabin and Peres. However, we have reached the point of no return. Rabin and Peres don’t care if we live or die. (Several minutes ago Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch, Rosh Yeshivat Ma’ale Adumim, said in an interview on Kol Yisrael: “An American reporter told me that several days ago he heard Foreign Minister Shimon Peres say: ‘I have no problem with what will happen in Yesha. We will withdraw the army and then let’s see what happens. They (the Jews) will either run away immediately, or the Arabs will massacre some, and then we’ll see what happens.”)
My friends, the first shot has already been fired. The question is how we, those being fired on, will respond. The answer is starting to emerge. We will not capitulate - we will not acquiesce - we will obey - we will obey the orders given to us at Sinai. HaShem Yerachem - May G-d have mercy on us.

Friday, July 7, 1995

Will The Real Jewish People Please Stand Up?!

Several days ago I was on my way to Tel-Aviv to attend a family celebration. About 10 miles from the Beit-Shemesh Interchange, leading to the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem Highway, I was stunned by what seemed to be a gigantic cloud, hanging in the heavens. The trouble was that it was not a rain cloud, or any other natural cloud, for that matter. It was a cloud caused by a huge fire. It literally hung in the sky, not moving. It reminded me of pictures I’d seen after massive bombing attacks. It was a little scary.
Not too long afterwards it became apparent that the fire was one of the worst, if not the most destructive forest fire in Israel’s history. Over two million trees went up in smoke. That’s a lot of forest. One of the settlements in the area, Shoresh, lost more than 30 houses to the flames. Many villages in the area were evacuated. (Symbolically, it is perhaps significant that this fire took place on the day after the self-appointed deadline for the signing of the final interim agreement between Arafat and Rabin.)
As we approach the 17th of Tammuz, the date signifying commencement of the three-week period of mourning, commemorating the destruction of the first and second Temple, the latter almost 2,000 years ago, this fire seems to have rather symbolic overtones. Two thousand years ago we lost our independence, we lost our homeland, we lost the most important city and site in the world, to the then superpower, Rome. For two thousand years we have sat on the ground on the 9th of Av, we have fasted, we have recited the book of Lamentations and have cried bitter tears, because of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. We have suffered, and we have even died to recite "Next year in Jerusalem." And now, after 2,000 years of yearnings and tears, after 2,000 years of waiting, 2,000 years of "next year in Jerusalem," what do we say now? This year, when we say "Next year in Jerusalem," we are not saying it from Galut, we are saying it as a prayer from Jerusalem, from Hebron, from Eilat, from the Golan Heights, praying that next year we will STILL be in Jerusalem. For, unfortunately, there are those among us who don’t want us there. Truthfully, I don’t know where they want us. Nor do I understand what they want from themselves.
So, you say to yourselves, what is going to be? The situation seems to be rather depressing, to say the least. How then, is it possible to continue? My feeling is as follows:As the 17th of Tammuz reminds us, the Jewish People spent 2,000 years in exile, far from their homeland, far from the source of their spiritual roots. Two thousand years is a long time, long enough to leave a distinct impression on a People. The fact that we were able to survive 2,000 years of exile is, in and of itself, something of a miracle. However, our national identity was definitely affected. It wasn’t totally erased, but it was altered, distorted. The influences of foreign thoughts, alien to Judaism, but considered to be the lifeblood of humanism, the influences of Christianity, arch-rival to all Judaism representing the major force attempting to exterminate Am Yisrael, but clothed in the fashion of modern, Western liberalism, and deadly persecutions and repeated exiles over hundreds of years, have left their mark. The People of Israel, returning to Eretz Yisrael, are presently finding all of these influences colliding with, and in many cases, directly contradicting, all that has been "learned" and absorbed for so long. Returning to Israel, people find themselves inundated with thoughts and values that have been foreign to them for two thousand years. This collision between pure Judaism, both spiritual, i.e., philosophical-religious, and physical, i.e., political-national, versus the worldly, Western framework infused into us, creates a tremendous explosion, taking the form of exactly what is happening today: a battle, or perhaps even a war between these two sets of contradicting, opposing values. Perhaps in simpler terms, our present condition might be defined as a gigantic identity crisis - who are we? Are we the Am Yisrael with a clearly defined objective, inclusive with full instructions how to reach the objective, or are we something else, less defined, but theoretically, more fitting to the 20th and 21st centuries? That is what our present struggle is all about. It takes the form of "left" and "right," territories vs. peace, religious opposite secular. But these are all symptoms of a greater controversy - What is Am Yisrael, why should we be in the Land of Israel, and how will the Jewish People manifest themselves in the future? In other words, a massive identity crisis. Will the real Jewish People please stand up?
How will we come out of it? You may not believe it, but I am optimistic. Such a problem, can only be considered "natural" after two thousand years of complexities. If we managed tosurvive all that happened to us, climaxing with the inhuman masscre of six million, and following that, in spite of that, we had the ability to rebuild a State, we can get through anything. It’s not necessarily easy, nor is it necessarily pleasant, but in the end we will come out stronger for it. For I have no doubt as to the result of our identity crisis. Just as the forest, rampaged by fire, now naked, will once again be blessed with trees, millions of them, even more than were burned to the ground, so will Israel, desolate for so many years, once again shine bright, reflecting the light of Judaism in Eretz Yisrael.
Those of us in Hebron and all throughout Yesha are trying to be something of an example personifying the ideals of true Judaism, spiritually and physically. We are trying to be the "real Jewish People," standing up. Join us. Will the real Jewish People PLEASE stand up!