A collection of the week's news from Israel
A service of the Bet El Twinning Committee of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
A collection of the week's news from Israel
August 10, 2001
Issue number 339
Arabs Shoot Israeli Dead in Shomron Tuesday
Zohar Shurgi, 40, a resident of Moshav Yafit in the Jordan Valley, was murdered Tuesday night by Arab terrorists on the Trans-Samaria Highway, east of Tel Aviv. The overturned car of the victim was found near Ariel after what was initially believed to be a car accident. Emergency responders on the scene quickly learned that the victim lost control of his vehicle after being hit by terrorist gunfire. The Trans-Samaria is a strategic route which links the Jordan Valley to Israel's coastal plain. In retaliation, Israeli combat helicopters destroyed several Force 17 militia headquarters in the PLO-controlled town of Salfit, bordering the city of Ariel. Shurgi is survived by his wife Nava and three children. He was the 141st victim of terrorism since the start of the ongoing Oslo War on September 29, 2001 and the first from a Jordan Valley community. An IDF checkpoint at the Jordan Valley's Bekaot Junction was the scene of a suicide car bomb explosion Wednesday morning. Soldiers stationed at the checkpoint saw a speeding vehicle heading for their position and entered a state of alert. The driver, after being detained for some time, detonated the explosives in the car, killing himself and lightly injuring three IDF soldiers. IDF spokesmen said that the successful work of the soldiers at the checkpoint most likely prevented a serious car bomb attack inside an Israeli city. (arutzsheva.org Aug 8)
Arab Terrorists Kill Israeli Arab in Shooting
Arab terrorists waiting in ambush opened fire on an Israeli vehicle late this morning murdering Jinam Wahil, a resident of the Arab village of Taiba. The attack occurred on the approach road to the Jewish township of Tzofim, northeast of Tel Aviv. IDF trackers say that the terrorists fled to safe haven in nearby PLO-controlled Kalkilya. The attack occurred outside of the town of Tzofim, east of Ra'anana, not far from the site of the fatal shooting of Techiya Blumberg on Sunday. (arutzsheva.org Aug 7)
Israeli Murdered in Jordan
Yitzhak Snir, 51, of Ra'anana, was murdered Monday in the Jordanian capital, Amman. Two Islamic terror organizations claimed responsibility for his death. One of the groups, calling itself "The Islamic Jordanian Resistance Movement," said the attack was in response to Israeli behavior against Palestinians. A branch of Islamic Jihad said it killed the Israeli because he was a Mossad agent, a charge the Israeli Foreign Ministry denies. Jordanian police have thus far stated that the murder of the Israeli diamond dealer was criminally motivated; however, Israeli officials believe that it was a terrorist shooting. The Jordanian Minister of Public Relations claimed that the prime suspect is the Israeli who lives in the same apartment complex as the victim. Israel's Ambassador to Jordan David Dadonn recommends that Israelis scratch Jordan from their summer travel plans: "The Arab street in general, and in Jordan in particular, has grown very hostile. The security situation has changed drastically since Oct. 2000. Therefore, a terror motive for the murder should be carefully examined. Dadonn said that he understands that some Israeli businessmen who invested heavily in Jordan following the 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty are not willing to abandon all of their assets there. (arutzsheva.org Aug 7,8)
Terrorist Strikes "Kirya" Defense Ministry
An Arab stopped his car mid-day Sunday at the "Kirya," the nerve center of the IDF and the offices of Israel's Defense Ministry in the heart of Tel Aviv, got out and shot automatic gunfire into a crowd of unexpecting passers-by, wounding eight soldiers, one Israeli civilian, and a Romanian foreign worker. As he fled the scene in his car, traffic officer Ilan Zamir, who witnessed the shooting, fired a warning shot in the air as the get-away car sped towards him. He then fired two rounds from his pistol at the terrorist's head. At the same time, a soldier fired at the car. The Arab gunman was seriously wounded in the head, and the car crashed into an electric pole. The wounded were transported to Ichilov Hospital with light-to-moderate injuries. According to Zamir, the terrorist was firing an M-16 in all directions in an attempt to hit as many soldiers as possible. Zamir stated with certainty that the terrorist was firing short, automatic bursts of gunfire, not single shots. Police later found a knife which they theorize the terrorist planned to use as well. A young female soldier at the scene said that she "couldn't believe that the Arab was nonchalantly smoking a cigarette" as he was spraying bullets towards the sidewalks. The M-16 assault rifle was determined to be of IDF issue. Police say that the perpetrator of the shooting is atypical as far as the 'terrorist profile' is concerned; he is a 30-year-old Arab Israeli citizen from Jerusalem, married with three children and steadily employed. The General Security Service (Shin Bet) reports that the terrorist has no record of security violations. Officials were quick to say that this may signify a new stage in the ongoing PLO warfare, now involving eastern Jerusalem residents who are Israeli citizens. (arutzsheva.org Aug 5)
Ancient Synagogues Reveal Bustling Jewish Life in Golan
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Monday that Israeli public relations should emphasize the Jewish historical rights to the Land of Israel. The Prime Minister referred to "impressive archaeological revelations recently made on the Golan Heights" as an example of ammunition for such an Israeli PR campaign. Archeologist Dr. Hayim Ben-David says that Sharon was referring to an ancient synagogue which he and his team recently uncovered in the central Golan, near the Kanaf agricultural community. The large and impressive synagogue, according to Ben-David, is indicative of an economically successful Jewish community during the Talmudic period (following the era of the Second Temple), but he pointed out that "these Jewish communities existed for hundreds of years throughout the Second Temple period and thereafter." The latest revelation is only one of 25 synagogues from the Mishnaic and Talmudic periods unearthed thus far on the Golan Heights. The Golan synagogues constitute a quarter of all synagogues unearthed in archaeological digs throughout Israel. Dr. Ben-Davidestimates that the Golan was the home of between 20,000 and 40,000 Jews during the periods of the Mishnah and the Talmud, with Gamla as the capital of the region. The archaeological digs have yet to reveal the remains of any significant non-Jewish settlement prior to the period of the Turkish Empire, approximately 400 years ago. (arutzsheva.org Aug 8)
Labor Party Showdown
Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg officially began his campaign for the leadership of the Labor Party on Monday. Burg says that the main problem plaguing the party is "the infighting, the divisions, the slanderŠŠ" He promises leadership "that is no longer a one-man show, that of a team." Burg's competition for the top spot is Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who has made a decided shift to the political left in recent days. Ben-Eliezer, like Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, has called for a return to negotiations with Yasser Arafat, despite the ongoing terrorist war. Two weeks ago, the Defense Minister opened his campaign with a press conference at which he emphasized his credentials and political experience to enable him to rehabilitate the party. The winner of the race will be Labor's candidate for prime minister in the next national election. Primaries are scheduled for September 4, but Labor's central committee will convene next Sunday (August 12) to decide whether or not to delay them and for how long. Former MK Gedalia Gal is backing a petition to delay the primaries because, "holding the Party primaries now would lead to Labor leaving the government." While both candidates have expressed opposition to a postponement, chairman of Burg's election campaign Avi Yehezkel says that Ben-Eliezer is actually behind the initiative, together with Shimon Peres, in what he termed "the ultimate 'stinking maneuver..,'" alluding to the term the late Prime Minister Rabin once used to describe a tactic of Peres. Last week, Ben-Eliezer obliquely implied that the Burg camp was inciting against him among Arab constituents upset with the government's defense policy. The Labor prime ministerial candidate usually receives some 95% of the Arab vote. Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak sent a letter to Ben-Eliezer yesterday expressing support for his candidacy for leadership of the Labor Party. (arutzsheva.org Aug 8)
Islamic Opposition and the Pa Reach "Understanding"
Ynet reports on the details of an "understanding" reached between the Palestinian Authority and Islamic terrorist organizations including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In an attempt to create a "national unity" leadership, the sides have agreed on several points, which include integration of the opposition groups into the Palestinian Authority administrative structure and a continuation of the armed struggle until achievement of an independent Arab state in the territory of Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem. According to Ynet, the Tanzim, under the leadership of Marwan Barghouti, are interested in formalizing their de facto cooperation with the Hamas and to weaken some PLO leaders. Meanwhile, PLO leader Ahmed Abdel Rahman is quoted as saying, "Oslo is dead, and the group most damaged by it are actually those who supported Oslo. Therefore, the time has come for those who opposed Oslo and those who supported it to come together for the battle being waged by the Palestinian people." (A7 Aug 8)
Jews Giving Torah Scrolls to the IDF
There is a severe shortage of Torah scrolls in the Israeli Army, according to chaplains serving in the field. To help ameliorate the problem, the National Council of Young Israel has called on all American Jewish communities and synagogues to donate unused Torah scrolls. Army Chaplain Captain Yedidya Atlas says, "In response to the terrorist attacks over the past ten months, many more security checkpoints and guard posts have been established by the Israeli army. Each of these positions which have ten soldiers or more assigned to them needs a Torah scroll so that the soldiers can benefit from full daily and Sabbath prayer services, without having to go far from their posts." The first group of Torah scrolls, from Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and the Kaminetzky family in the New York area, were presented on Monday in the presence of the IDF Chief Rabbi, Brig.-Gen. Yisrael Weiss, along with senior IDF commanders and other dignitaries. Hundreds of soldiers and local residents sang and danced the scrolls into the newly-renovated central synagogue of the IDF Binyamin Brigade. (arutzsheva.org Aug 8) [Interested Canadian synagogues should contact Mr. Kurt Rothschild at 416-784-5305]
PA Sermon: Peace thru Killing Jews
The following are selections of Friday's sermon (August 3, 2001) on official Palestinian Authority TV. The selections are provided by Palestinian Media Watch: "Allah shall make the Moslem rule over the Jew, we will blow them up in Hadera, we will blow them up in Tel-Aviv and in Netanya in the righteousness of Allah against this riff-raff, we will fight against them and rule over them until the Jew will hide behind the trees and stones and the tree and stone will say: 'Moslem! Servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, kill him!'...We will enter Jerusalem as conquerors, and Jaffa as conquerors, and Haifa as conquerors and Ashkelon as conquerors, we are certain that the victory is quickly coming, as we bless anyone who rises against a soldier, we bless all those who educate their children to Jihad and to Martyrdom, blessings to he who shot a bullet into the head of a Jew...I heard a youth say, 'Oh, Sheikh, I am now 14 years old. I have 4 more years and then I will go to blow myself up among Allah's enemies, I will blow myself up among the Jews.'" I said to him, 'Allah should let you merit Martyrdom and let me merit Martyrdom'...All weapons must be aimed at the Jews, at the enemies of Allah, the cursed nation in the Koran, whom the Koran describes as monkeys and pigs, worshippers of the calf and idol worshippers." (arutzsheva.org Aug 8)
International Sacrifices to the Arab War Effort
A group of Christians wishing to act as "human shields" against the Israeli military have arrived in the region. Many of the them have taken up positions inside the PLO-controlled city of Beit Jala, the source of the ongoing terrorist fire on southern Jerusalem. The American activists feel that their presence is a deterrent to the Israeli military, because if one of them were to be injured or killed there would be an American outcry. Ra'anan Gissin, a senior aide to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, asked rhetorically why the "human shields" don't defend the innocent Jerusalem residents attacked by terrorist gunfire from Beit Jala? One of the most unusual volunteers who spent time in Beit Jala this past week was Tel Aviv resident Neta Golan, a 30-year-old physical therapist. She explained her actions by saying that the Israeli response to gunfire on the capital city was "unjustified." Additional "human shields" are expected in the coming days from France and the UK as well as reinforcements from the US. Meanwhile, according to a report in the Sunday Times of London, tens of Arab women are volunteering to become "human bombs." In response to a call made by Saudi Arabia's High Islamic Council, many Arab women have stepped forward to volunteer as suicide bombers against Israel. While the phenomenon of Arab female terrorists is rare, it is not unheard of. In the worst terrorist incident Israel has known, the terror cell in which Dalal Maghrebi participated -- "the woman we are proud of" [Arafat] -- murdered 37 people on a bus in the 1978 Tel Aviv Coastal Highway massacre. Last Friday, police apprehended an Arab female in her twenties, mother of two, as she was planning to detonate an explosive device in the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station. The attempted bombing ended without injuries. (arutzsheva.org Aug 7)
1,000 Arabs Arrested for Illegal Entry
Border Police undertook a major operation Tuesday to arrest residents of the Palestinian Authority who have entered into and are staying illegally in pre-1967 "Little" Israel. The operation resulted in the arrest of over 1,000 people in its first few hours. Also being detained by police are Israelis who transported the illegal workers through the IDF checkpoints. (A7 Aug 7)
Arab DCO Officer Caught in the Act
IDF ground forces shot and killed Mahmud Mahadi Sunday night as he was placing a roadside bomb near Einav (east of Netanya). An accomplice was wounded in the incident, escaped and found safe haven in a nearby PLOcontrolled area. Mahadi was an officer at one of the District Coordinating Offices (DCO), which, according to the Oslo agreements, were created to fulfill the task of "preventing friction and to enable the two sides to deal with possible incidents" such as "a terrorist action of any kind and from any source." (arutzsheva.org Aug 6)
Arab MKs Openly Support Tel Aviv Shooting Attack
Knesset Member Talab El-Sana (United Arab List) called Sunday's shooting in Tel Aviv "a legitimate part of the Palestinian struggle." Justifying the attack during a media interview to an Abu Dhabi channel, MK El-Sana added that the attempted mass murder was "of a special quality, targeting military personnel and not civilians... There can be no guilt feelings in this case." Eight soldiers and two civilians were wounded in the assault on Kaplan Street. Minister of Public Security Uzi Landau called the statement "treason." MK (Shinui) Tommy Lapid called upon the Arab MK to resign from the Knesset. Minister without portfolio Danny Naveh says that he intends to legislate a law that will require Knesset members to declare allegiance not only to Israel, but to Israel as a Jewish State. Later Monday, Arab MK Azmi Bishara (Balad) declared that he agrees with El-Sana's "every word." Bishara says that the criticism of El-Sana is an attempt to silence Arab Knesset members from expressing their opinion. It is not yet clear if Attorney-General Elyakim Rubenstein will indict El-Sana, or on what charge. (arutzsheva.org Aug 6)
From Paris to The Shomron
A group of twenty families moved from France and arrived in Kochav HaShachar, northeast of Jerusalem. The group made aliyah (immigrated) together a few weeks ago and went directly to the small Shomron town. Last year, another group of 20 families from Paris and Marseilles immigrated tothe community of Eli, also in the Binyamin Region. Other families preferred to settle in Ashdod and Netanya. (arutzsheva.org Aug 6)
A Political Turn-Around Among Immigrants From the FSU
The Global Jewish Agenda reports on a survey published this week by the Mutagim Institute indicating that the immigrant oriented political parties in Israel have, for the first time, lost their preeminence among voters from the FSU. The leading political party among Russian immigrants is now the Likud, with the support of 30% of this population segment (equal to 8-10 Knesset seats), as compared to 18% support two years ago. Immigrant parties Yisrael B''Aliyah and Yisrael Beitenu follow with 14-15% support each (4-5 Knesset seats per party). Meanwhile, Russian immigrant support for the Labor party dropped to a mere 4% - a reduction of two-thirds from its peak of support for Ehud Barak in 1999. In the personal popularity arena, PM Ariel Sharon currently enjoys greater support than Binyamin Netanyahu had in his prime, with two-thirds of all Russian immigrants supporting him and his policies; he is followed by Avigdor Lieberman, with Binyamin Netanyahu running third and Natan Sharansky fourth with 18% support. The only figure from the Left to make the list was Shimon Peres, with only 4% support. ""There is no leader on the Left at present who can garner any support on the Russian street"" said Dr. Michael Feldman, who conducted the survey for Mutagim. (arutzsheva.org Aug 3)
Medical Breakthroughs in Israel
Researchers at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School say they have developed a new approach to cancer: control it, rather than kill it. Professor of General and Tumor Immunology Eitan Yefenof says that a much safer approach to battling cancer is to induce it to remain in a dormant state, rather than trying to achieve massive killing of cancer cells through chemotherapy. Conventional chemotherapy involves large doses of toxic drugs that inevitably destroy normal cells along with cancer cells. The new technique introduces a toxic molecule into the blood stream directed against specific cancer cell receptors. The toxin kills or inactivates the cancer cell, thus preventing it from replicating. The overall result is that the cancer - even if it may not be totally destroyed - stops growing and becomes dormant. It is known that people with dormant cancer cells can lead healthy lives for prolonged periods of time. Damage sustained during a heart attack may now be reversible, thanks to the efforts of a team of researchers from Israel's Technion Institute and the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. Researchers havesucceeded, for the first time in the world, in growing human heart cells in a lab from embryonic stem cells. This has allowed them to create tissue that spontaneously beats and has the electric and mechanical characteristics of young heart tissue. The research may enable future applications such as implanting muscle cells into impaired areas to improve heart function. The research is being published in the August issue of the prestigious scientific journal, "Journalof Clinical Investigation." The study was conducted by Dr. Itzhak Kehat under the direction of Dr. Lior Gepstein of the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion, and of Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, respectively. At Hebrew University's School of Pharmacy, researchers have developed a new method for ensuring that prescribed drugs reach their intended target areas in the body. Chemical substances in many drugs are soluble in fatty or oily solutions, but not in water, thus limiting their penetrability in the body. Prof. Shimon Benita of the School of Pharmacy at the Hebrew University Faculty of Medicine has developed a method using positively charged oil droplets in water emulsions for improving the delivery and absorption of these lipophilic drugs. The Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University has registered two worldwide patents on the technology. A new, French biotechnology company, Novagali SAS, has obtained the license to develop the technology for commercial pharmaceutical purposes. Two French venture capital companies have invested 4 million euros in the project. (arutzsheva.org Aug 2,6)
PA Justice: Death Sentence in Ten Minutes
A Palestinian "court" in Shechem handed down the death penalty last Thursday to three Arabs accused of providing information to Israel which facilitated its Tuesday strike against the Hamas headquarters. The trial lasted ten minutes. The three were arrested last Wednesday. Several hours later, a fourth man, 52, was sentenced to death for the same offence. Former MK Atty. Elyakim HaEtzni commented on the PA's judicial proceedings: "An enraged mob broke into the Shechem jail and threatened, 'We'll kill them on our own if you won't do it,' that is to say, if you won't arrange a show trial. And all of this at 3 in the morning. And so they sentenced them to death without a lawyer or anything within ten minutes... Not only the Israeli Left remains silent, the whole world does. There is deep contempt for the Arabs, as well as disdain and racism in this silence. The underlying assumption [in the silence] is that the Arabs are primitive and that you can't expect better from them. That, too, is offensive." According to an AP report, fifty persons demonstrated today against Arafat as he met with Italian government officials in Rome. They called for an end to the PA policy of sentencing collaborators to death. (arutzsheva.org Aug 2)
"The lessons I absorbed from Panama confirmed all my convictions over the preceding 20 years, since the days of doubt over Vietnam. Have a clear political objective and stick to it. Use all the force necessary and do not apologize for going in big if that is what it takes. Decisive force ends wars quickly and in the long run saves lives." - Colin Powell's autobiography, 'My American Journey', page 421.
A Letter from R. Nachman Kahane
Recently the telephone rang in the Young Israel Synagogue on El Wad street in the Old City of Jerusalem's northern quarter (where I serve as rabbi) disturbing the discourse between me and a difficult Talmudic passage. [Mr. P. was calling with an offer that] ...would consist of letters of encouragement and moral support to the members of my community, telling us to remain strong in the face of the new realities in our lives. In view of the fact that I did not know Mr P. or the rabbi of his community, my reply was curt but polite. I told him that their letters would help ease their conscience but would be irrelevant and even distasteful as far as we are concerned. Had I the time or patience I would have answered Mr. P., along with the extended Jewish community of America with the following:
"[After the exodus from Egypt] a majority of the nation refused to enter the Holy Land. They were punished. At the end of our forty year sojourn in the desert, the number of Jews who eventually entered the land with Joshua was a mere fraction of the original number which existed at the time of the Exodus. Much has transpired between the Biblical Exodus from Egypt and the establishment of modern-day Medinat Yisrael including inquisitions, pogroms, forced conversions and the holocaust. Yet, one fact remains indelibly inscribed in our history: although we remain numerically inferior to our enemies, we are infinitely superior to them in quality and in our resolve that we shall, with the aid of God, survive and thrive in this hostile world. "In the future, when the history of our generation will be written by the scribes of Israel with an objective perspective of time, it will be recorded that the State of Israel was the forerunner of the great Third Jewish Commonwealth, while all the Jewish communities of the Diaspora were no more than a footnote in our history.
"Dear Mr. P.: [I grew up as a member of] religious Jewry in Brooklyn, New
York, and studied in prestigious yeshivot, I cannot forget or forgive the theft
of the greatest treasure of Judaism committed by my rabbis and teachers. How
was it possible that in the ten years beginning with yeshiva high school and
terminating in s'micha (rabbinic ordination), the most amazing and significant
event of the last two thousand years was not mentioned to us even once - the
establishment of the Jewish State? The results were not late in coming. In the
fifty three years, since the establishment of the State of Israel less than
seventy five thousand American Jews have settled in Israel. When compared with
the million who came on aliya from the former Soviet Union, the religious leaders
of American Jewry can only hang their heads in shame.
"Today, as we stand at the beginning of the most fantastic and farreaching chapter of our history, which will overshadow all that has transpired in our long and miraculous journey through the desert of history, I call upon all who have a thread of Judaism in their heart to leave your exile of choice. Be true to yourselves. Take your Judaism seriously, and instead of your letters join with us in the realization of the prophetic words from Jeremiah regarding our historic promised land."
Rabbi Kahana is the Rabbi of the Young Israel of the Old City, located in Jerusalem's Moslem Quarter.
Bush's Mideast Box
Wall Street Journal Editorial Watching the drama in the Middle East conveyed to the world in print, televised images and commentary, we find ourselves feeling a certain sympathy for the predicament in which President Bush finds himself. Here is a President who took office just as Israel handed power to a man, in Ariel Sharon, with a remarkably similar set of tough and pragmatic instincts. It seemed to us then that Mr. Bush had arrived at the sensible conclusion that it was time to let Mr. Sharon and the Israelis deal with an obviously intractable Palestinian opposition according to their own best judgement about the region's realities.
No sooner was Mr. Bush in office, though, than he found himself stumbling into a trap that had been laid by President Clinton in the form ofthe Mitchell Commission. It was launched in the floundering of the last days of a failing peace process in an effort to preempt the new Administration. Mr. Bush was either too new to the job or too poorly advised to send the commission packing. Quickly, its formulas had been adopted by a State Department again tilting to the Arab camp.
Often when Mr. Bush has tried to do the right thing, his life has been complicated by the Texas oil patch. This culminated last month when his father, the former President, telephoned Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and tried to assure him that his son's "heart is in the right place" when it comes to the Middle East and that his son was "going to do the right thing." According to the report in the New York Times, the elder Mr. Bush actually placed the call while his son was in the room. The call, warm and familiar in tone, was, according to one Administration official, "designed to encourage Abdullah to think of the new President as having a grasp of the Middle East similar to that of his father."
Now, in a drumbeat of newspaper articles and op-ed features, the most leftwing of the advocates of appeasement are trying to convince Mr. Bush the Younger that blame for the failure of the peace process attached not so much to the Palestinians as to the Israelis and the Clinton Administration on the eve of a Presidential election. The other day there was a long news report in the New York Times so limited in its sources to the left-wing side of this story that it brought a rare public upbraid from the Times' own William Safire. It's enough, as we say, to wring from us sympathy for the President. So let us just say that this is a moment for Mr. Bush to keep his head and trust his original instincts. The reason that the Europeans and the old-guard Democrats like George Mitchell, not to mention hard-left advocates of the peace process, are trying so frantically to hector Mr. Bush back to the idea of negotiations at this time is that they can see the train has left the station. Particularly for the left, the collapse of Oslo is a bitter event, allowing all the world to see that for the Palestinian leadership the process has been little more than the modern equivalent of a show trial.
Everyone seems to have been assuming that there would be a final chance to do something before war started in the Middle East. Well, it turns out that Mr. Sharon is not going to launch a Normandy-invasion style attack on the Palestinian Authority. He comprehended from the first that the danger was not that the situation would degenerate into war as that word is normally understood. Israel was already in a war. It is a continuation, he has been emphasizing lately, of the war of Independence from 1948, when the Arabs rejected the United Nations compromise and attacked the fledgling Jewish state.
With the backing of a national unity government -- the classic war formula
in Israel -- Mr. Sharon has been pressing his counterattack with a subtlety
and shrewdness that has confounded those who like to caricature him for the
invasion of Lebanon. Suddenly, enemy terrorists are being brought down en-route
to their mischief, or as they are assembling bombs, or plotting bombings, rather
than in old-style revenge killings. There have been few if any large military
maneuvers. This is war waged in twilight, not unlike the Cold War. Subtle, but
no less deadly.
To Mr. Bush we would say that this, like the Cold War, is not a struggle in which he is going to want to be remembered by history as being a neutralist. Despite the murky formulations of the left, there is a right and wrong in this struggle, which at bottom is an attack on the West and on the idea of democracy. Hard as it is to accept, the differences with the Palestinian regime -- a Soviet-era holdover without a democratic mandate -- may just not be bridgeable. (Wall Street Journal Aug 2)
Sending Our Son off to War
By David and Sara Bedein David, a Philadelphia native, runs a news agency in Jerusalem. Sara, a Cleveland native, is a writer and housewife. David and Sara have six children, ranging from 2 to 19. They took their 19 year old son, Noam, to join an IDF combat unit this week.
On the evenings before a young man goes in the IDF, neither he nor his parents sleep too much.
The soon-to-be IDF inductee parties with his friends. The parents also do not sleepŠout of worry, fear and apprehension.
This week, on Monday, we accompanied our first born son, Noam, to the IDF army recruitment center in Jerusalem, where he was inducted into an IDF combat unit, with three months of basic training lying ahead of him. Our Noam, 19, was named after a soldier, Noam Yehuda, who was born in Philadelphia and who grew up in Safed, and killed by a PLO missile at the age of nineteen, on the fourth day of the Lebanon War in 1982.
The enemy was the same: Arafat and his terrorists who had set up a world-wide terrorist organization from his base in Lebanon and was held responsible for the murders and massacres of hundreds of Jews and Israelis throughout the world.
The irony is that our own Noam, nineteen years later, is going to be forced to fight the same enemy - this time on our own land. An enemy who had duped the world to such an extent that he received the Nobel Peace Prize! An enemy who was invited by the Israeli government to return from Tunis, given arms by the IDF and who turned the tables to set up cities of refuge for his "troops" to again launch attacks against Israelis. Unlike many other Israelis, Noam holds a US passport. He could easily skip the country without too much difficulty and attend university in the US. However, he chooses to stay and serve.
When you take your son on that proverbial ride to the draft induction point, your son's entire life flashes in front of you. All those special moments are quashed into those twenty five minutes of negotiating Jerusalem rush hour traffic. His moment of birth. His Brit. His first crawls. His first day in nursery school. His first day in first grade. His performance in the local singing group and how he "cut" his first cassette. His bar mitzvah. His going off to yeshiva. His summer of work with down syndrome youngsters. And his resounding Shabbat meal send-off with his friends, when they sang at the top of their lungs, when we heard varying sounds, varying from Psalms to Punk Rock. A few nights ago, we watched the evening news with Noam. Thousands of Arab rioters shooting guns wildly in the air, as they ran through the streets precariously toting the teetering body of yet another "shahid" - "holy martyr" (a title given to terrorists who blow themselves up with innocent Israeli civilians for the "Glory of Palestine") - Noam's comment: "Well, Wish me luck! I'm going to be in a war". Noam's mood on the day of his induction was enthusiastic and adventurous, joined by two friends from his yeshiva who were being recruited together with him as well as three other friends who had come to part with him and wish him luck.
Watching our son joke with his friends while waiting to be called to get on the bus, our heart swelled with pride at this wholesome, fine son of ours who was eager to serve his country despite the gruesome predicament the country is in right now.
This past year has been a year of reflection for Noam. He was glad to have made the decision not to go straight into the army following graduation from high school. Instead he chose a Yeshiva preparation program with a curriculum readies the yeshiva students for the army service through deep philosophical discussions and basic physical education to prepare him for rigorous army training.
It has also been a year of funerals. Too many funerals. Noam told us after returning from the funeral of our daughter's 20 year old youth counselor who had been shot dead in a drive by shooting, that "Now I know what I am going into the army for. Going to all these funerals has made me aware of what I must do: to protect the people of Israel".
At the induction center, only a few minutes after we got there, Noam's name
was called out. The time had come to part. We hand over to the IDF a wholesome,
happy, wonderful son. Noam stretched out his arms and held each of us in a tight
embrace. The lump in each of our throats choked back the words we had each planned
to say. All we manage to say is: "Good luck. Stay safe, May God be with you"
Please God, we pray, return him to us unharmed, safe and sound.