Gestures September 27, 1996 David Makovsky's headline article in today's Jerusalem Post is titled: US WANTS ISRAEL TO MAKE A GESTURE TO DEFUSE TENSION. The first paragraph states: "Secretary of State Warren Christopher has asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to take "concrete steps," after the premier meets meeting with Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat, that would end the fighting AND LEAD TO THE RENEWAL OF NEGOTIATIONS ON HEBRON AS SOON AS SUNDAY, diplomatic sources said." Bill Clinton's Secretary of State is looking for a GESTURE from Israel. In other words, he is demanding that we capitulate - cave in to palestinian bullets, in order to allow us to continue down suicide lane. The American position follows a certain logic - acquiescence easily results in further debacle. This is, it seems, America's goal. And the theater of the absurd plays on. Our dead are not yet buried, the wounded still hospitalized - the country is in shock. Even the Israeli left, best represented by the news media, keep asking their interviewees, over and over again, `how do we deal with the fact that WE GAVE THEM THE WEAPONS THAT THEY ARE USING AGAINST OUR OWN SOLDIERS?!'. This morning 11 funerals are being conducted - 11 young men whose names have been repeated on the news since yesterday night, who died, not because of a 15 meter tunnel in Jerusalem, but because Arafat's terrorist soldiers are still convinced that using violence is the best way to achieve their aims: a Judenrein Gaza, Shechem and Beit Lechem. They fighting in Gaza by Kfar Dram and Netzarim was based around a desire to see these two communities uprooted and annihilated. As it was in Shechem. And in Shechem they almost succeeded. Today's newspaper accounts report that a final decision was made by DEFENSE MINISTER YITZHAK MORDECHAI TO EVACUATE OUR SOLDIERS FROM KEVER YOSEF AND ABANDON THE SITE TO ARAFAT. Why didn't it happen? According to these reports, Central Region Commander General Uzi Dayan superseded these orders and later convinced the cabinet, meeting in special session after Bibi's return from Europe, not to abandon the site. His reasoning: if we abandon Kever Yosef because of palestinian warfare, this will be used as a precedent to force us out of other areas. And he is right - one hundred percent. And that decision, not to abandon Joseph's Tomb, may have been instrumental in other decisions, and in the tone used to convey the decisions. According to a radio report at 11:45 this morning on Kol Yisrael, correspondent Yoni ben Menachem revealed that the Arabs have been warned that Israel regards recapture of parts of Shechem, especially the areas near Kever Yosef, as a viable option, to protect our interests in the city. The Arabs begged for another chance to prove that they can control the situation, and have subsequently placed the city under curfew. Back to Warren's plea for gestures. Is this man sane? Does he really believe that, following such a show of warfare against Israel, anyone would consider turning Hebron over to Arafat? The thoughts of what might have transpired had the `redeployment' in Hebron already been concluded, is intolerable. Had the hills surrounding the Jewish Community been occupied by terrorist sharpshooters, the results could very easily have been catastrophic. I think it is clear to everyone that Hebron is no longer a subject under discussion. The Israeli government, sitting in its capacity as a `security cabinet' has placed all the blame for the events of the past two days squarely on the shoulders of Yassir Arafat personally and the palestinian authority. Thank G-d, they are starting to see the light, starting to understand that the peace process is a `piece' process, starting to understand that we are dealing, not with partners, but with the equivalent of wild animals. It is only a matter of time until the "Oslo Accords" explode, finally, and conclusively. In the meantime, in Hebron, we are preparing for this week's holiday festivities, celebrating the festival of Succot. On Sunday and Monday the entire Ma'arat HaMachpela will be open to Jewish visitors, including `Ohel Yitzhak.' On Monday afternoon a special program will take place in the Ma'ara courtyard, starting at 3:00 PM. Next Saturday night, following the conclusion of Simchat Torah, Hebron will host `hakafot shniot' - a huge dancing festivity, at the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. This event will be attended by Jews from around the country, and will top off the week-long events. Just as Hebron will remain under total Israeli control, so will Jerusalem, all of Jerusalem. The decision to leave the Jerusalem tunnel open is the only gesture that Israel can possibly make, except for, perhaps, one, which is, to the best of my recollection, too vulgar to express in words.
Friday, September 27, 1996
Sunday, September 22, 1996
Heshbon Nefesh Erev Yom Kippur 5757 September 22, 1996 Heshbon Nefesh, in Hebrew, means, a personal reflection, an accounting - a kind of `soul-searching.' In theory, a person should do a `heshbon nefesh' daily, but more than ever before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. A heshbon nefesh, however, is not only a personal affair. It must also be a national undertaking. The past year has been traumatic - climaxing the ordeals of the last four years. The murder of Yitzhak Rabin depicted perhaps, in the most cruel of ways, the division between two segments of the country. True, Yigal Amir represented only himself - he pulled the trigger, and that may never be condoned, but he was proven to be sane in a court of law. One has to reach deep down inside to probe, what could possibly bring a sane, intelligent Jew to perpetrate such an act. That is a question that our national conscience must ask, must scrutinize, in order to see to it that such a deed never again stains Israel. Today memorial services are being held around the country, mourning the dead, killed 23 years ago with the outbreak of a surprise-attack war by Syria and Egypt on Yom Kippur. With the present tension on the northern border, the analogy is too strong to be ignored. In one sense, we were caught with our pants down - but in reality, the Golda Meir government knew that war was going to break out hours before the first attack. They had enough time to begin mobilizing the troops - they could also have called for a preemptive strike. Such action would have saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. Yet, they did nothing, and the results were nearly catastrophic. Only the ferocity and determination of our soldiers, including Raphael Eitan and Avigdor Kahalani in the north, and Arik Sharon in the south, along with a tremendous dose of G-d given miracle, prevented, what Moshe Dayan called, the fall of the Third Temple. The situation during the first few days of the war was very very serious. Yet, the writing was on the wall - and nobody paid attention. Were they all really that blind? I don't know that anyone has the answer, but my question is, how can we use the lessons that we learned then, today. This morning, on the 7:00 news, there were two stories, one following the other. The first spoke of plans by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to renew suicide terrorist attacks within Israel. According to the report, these groups have reached a decision to once again wreak havoc inside Israel, AFTER THE REDEPLOYMENT IN HEBRON. They are waiting until after redeployment so as not to jeopardize Israeli abandonment of the city. Of course, it goes without saying, that the terrorist attacks will be much easier to plan and carry out after Israel abandons 90% of the city to Arafat. The second report dealt with Egyptian president Husni Mubarach's declaration that "if Israel insists on continuing a policy of resettlement in Judea and Samaria, the intifada will be renewed. And this time, IT WILL NOT BE LIMITED TO THROWING STONES." One of the most traveled routes in Hebron over the past few weeks is that to Abu-Snenah. Abu-Snenah is the name of a hill overlooking downtown Hebron. From this hilltop the entrance to Ma'arat is clearly visible, as is the Avraham Avinu neighborhood and the road linking Kiryat Arba to Hebron. From the hills opposite Abu- Snenah, called in Arabic Harat el-Sheich, or in Hebrew, Givat Mamre , Beit Hadassah, Beit Shneerson, Beit Hason and Beit Kastel are within touching distance. These two hills, along with a main road running above the Jewish cemetery, only meters from Tel Rumedia, are due to be abandoned to Arafat in the near future, if the present government should implement the Peres-Arafat Accords. This land will be off-limits to the Israel Defense Forces. In addition, all civilian authority, including building permits, property transfer licenses, water supply and electricity WITHIN THE JEWISH NEIGHBORHOODS, will be in the hands of Hebron's Arab mayor Mustepha Natche and the Hebron municipality. IN OTHER WORDS, PLAIN AND SIMPLY, THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF HEBRON WILL BE A CAPTIVE IN THE HANDS OF ARAFAT. SURROUNDED ON ALL SIDES BY HOSTILE ARABS, RESTRICTED FROM WITHIN BY ENEMIES, THE JEWS OF HEBRON WILL BE DEPENDENT ON ARAFAT'S `GOOD WILL' FOR SURVIVAL. AND THAT WITHOUT TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE OVERWHELMING HAMAS MAJORITY IN HEBRON, WHICH DOES NOT TAKE ORDERS FROM ARAFAT. A few weeks ago I published a short account of a conversation that I had with Abed, an Arab in Hebron. On Friday the following account was printed in the Israeli press: *** HEBRON CLAN OPPOSES IDF REDEPLOYMENT - Palestinian intellectuals in Hebron joined in signing a declaration organized by one of the large clans in Hebron which was presented to the Israeli Military Government, opposing the withdrawal of IDF forces from their neighborhood as part of the redeployment in Hebron. ("Yediot Ahronot" 20 September, 1996- reprinted from IMRA). MR. PRIME MINISTER - BENYAMIN NETANYAHU, NEED MORE BE SAID? CAN'T YOU READ THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL? WHAT MORE WILL IT TAKE FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND THAT "OSLO" IS A CURSE - A SUICIDE-PACT, TO BE IMPLEMENTED BY ONLY ONE SIDE? MR. PRIME MINISTER, ON THIS DAY OF AWE, ON THIS DAY OF ATONEMENT, PLEASE, WHEN YOU REFLECT, WHEN YOU DO YOUR OWN HESHBON NEFESH, REMEMBER THAT THE STATE OF ISRAEL, THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL, THE LAND OF ISRAEL ARE WEIGHTED ON YOUR SHOULDERS. YOUR DECISIONS WILL DETERMINE WHETHER THE EVENTS OF 23 YEARS AGO WILL RETURN ON THEMSELVES OR NOT. MR PRIME MINISTER, WE KNOW THAT YOU BELIEVE IN THE RIGHTS OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE TO LIVE ANYWHERE IN ERETZ YISRAEL. YOU UNDERSTAND THE HERITAGE OF HEBRON, THE ROOTS OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE. DO NOT ABANDON US, THE JEWS OF HEBRON! DO NOT ABANDON ERETZ YISRAEL! THERE IS NO SIGNED DOCUMENT IN THE WORLD WHICH CAN ABROGATE JEWISH-ISRAELI RIGHTS TO THE CITY OF THE PATRIARCHS, TO THE LAND OF ISRAEL. DO NOT LET US, THE ISRAELI PEOPLE, WHO ELECTED YOU, DO NOT LET US DOWN. WITH G-D'S HELP, YOU WILL SUCCEED. GMAR HATIMA TOVA.
Sunday, September 8, 1996
Hebron Tomorrow: After the Flood Erev Rosh HaShana 5757 September 8, 1996 Mission Impossible made possible - against all odds, reason and seeming logic - the impossible became reality. The "Mahapach" - the toppling of a government espousing abandonment, seeking a "piece plan," the Mahapach became reality with the rise of Benyamin Netanyahu to the office of Prime Minister and the Israeli `nationalistic' parties as a majority in the Knesset. The Mahapach of 1996 was a true G-d-given miracle. And a major element of this miracle was, and still is, Hebron. According to Oslo B - the Peres-Arafat Accords, 90% of Hebron was to be abandoned to Arafat and the Hamas terrorists on March 29. All the other major cities in Yesha - Shechem, Tulkarem, Jenin, Ramallah, and finally, Beit Lechem, were evacuated `on time' - Israel left and Arafat reigned, just as signed. The only city left was Hebron, and the clock was running down. But, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, it stopped. The price paid was unbelievably high - bloodshed in Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, and Ashkelon - but Peres had no choice but to face up to the inevitable - Hebron cannot be abandoned. And so it was. Election Day - May 29th - the 11th of Iyar, will remain an indelible mark in our memories - a holiday forever. Where do we stand today? It is clear that the honeymoon is over and the time has come to get down to the nitty-gritty. For a couple of months Netanyahu was able to buy time easily. He said much and did little. But that time has passed. International pressure, spearheaded by the United States, and supplemented by the Israeli left led to the deplorable meeting with terrorist Arafat. Egypt and Syria threatening from one side, with Clinton on the other side. And all eyes are on Hebron. What should Bibi do? There have been many different philosophies - a variety of game plans. Bibi himself, speaking before a joint session of Congress declared that the principal of reciprocity is nothing less than sacrosanct. In other words, he said, if Arafat wants something from us, he must also supply the goods. If he isn't capable of keeping his side of the agreement, why should we continue to keep our side of the agreement? Politically, this seems to be a safe position because it is doubtful whether Arafat desires to, or is capable of fulfilling his obligations. However, this cannot be guaranteed. As untenable as it sounds politically, Bibi must continue to espouse the same themes repeated so frequently, while he was opposition leader: Hebron, the first capital of Israel during the early reign of King David, is an eternal element of Israel. "We dwell in Hebron not out of benevolence but as a right. Hebron belongs to the Jewish people eternally as a result of our right and as a result of our strength, our strength of faith, our strength to stand up for what is legitimately ours...We must protect the foundation of Eternal Israel. Hebron is ours, Jerusalem is ours, the entire Eretz Yisrael is ours." Benyamin Netanyahu - Jerusalem, December 7, 1994. This is a language universally understood, and inevitably, universally accepted. When you speak the truth, not only your truth, but a Divine truth, your message is eventually acknowledged. Our lives in Hebron are focused around the most elementary truth in existence - our right to live in our eternal homeland. Netanyahu must drop Hebron from the present negotiating agenda. Just as Jerusalem is `not for sale,' so is should be with Hebron. The City of the Patriarchs is no less important than Jerusalem. Both are `off- limits.' The `final status' of both must be assured. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu must begin to replace words with actions. In Megilat Esther, Mordechai sends a message to Esther after having learned of the decree calling for the annihilation of all Jews. He tells her, "IF YOU REMAIN SILENT AT THIS TIME, SALVATION WILL BE GRANTED TO THE JEWS FROM SOME OTHER SOURCE , YOU AND YOUR FATHER'S HOUSE WILL BE DOOMED - WHO KNOWS IF THIS WAS NOT THE REASON YOU WERE CROWNED?! Prime Minister Netanyahu - this IS why you were crowned - this is why we elected you to the Premiership - now is the time TO DO - as you have previously, so eloquently, enunciated. The Jewish Community of Hebron plans on doubling its present fifty two families over the next twelve months. Construction at Yeshivat Shavei Hebron continues. When completed, there will be room for 500 yeshiva students. Presently there are two hundred. And this is only the beginning. Jewish Hebron will undoubtedly flourish. Tourists continue to pour into the city, visiting the holy sites and Jewish neighborhoods, and praying at Ma'arat HaMachpela. Requests to live in Hebron arrive by mail and telephone. In spite of what others might intend, the future of Hebron, Jewish Hebron, the City of the Patriarchs, is assured. Mr. Netanyahu, we are waiting for your long-promised assistance. But you should know, that with or without it - we are in a new era, after the flood. And as we were promised, there will never again be another flood. With or without you, Hebron will remain Jewish forever. Happy New Year.