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July 13, 2014: Faith and Struggle

I’ve written about the Iron Dome, which helps protect our citizens from rocket attacks, and about the shelters that are provided, as well as about the government guidelines that are released to keep people safe.
But there is a another significant factor – from my perspective and the perspective of many Jews both here in Israel and elsewhere – that I have not yet mentioned: The Almighty is watching over us and doing miracles for us.  We see it all around us.
Rabbi Lazer Brody, on his blog, gave an example of this.  On Thursday, a grad rocket was launched at Ashdod. It approached the vicinity of a whole complex of hi-rise apartments and then landed in the parking lot.  
Ashdod miracle 10.7

Credit: Lazer Beams
Not a single person was hurt.  And we see this again and again.
I am not saying that no one in Israel has been hurt in the rocket attacks – we know that isn’t so.  And we cannot be sure what lies ahead in terms of casualties.
But the fact that injuries have been as minimal as they have been, and that to date there have been no deaths, strongly suggests that we are protected.  Hamas was out to do maximum damage to the people of Israel, and they’re failing. 
This Heavenly protection is evident more broadly in the fact that we are here at all, a thriving people in the midst of violent chaos and in the face of what would seem to be insurmountable odds.
Our task as Jews, then, is to pray, to stay united, to exhibit loving-kindness to one another, to make time for religious study and to give tzedakah (charity).  It all matters enormously.

Credit: Jewishmiracles
Where are we now, with regard to the war in Gaza?  Wish I could tell you.
Although the message we are still receiving is that the army is totally ready for a ground invasion, and just waiting for the orders to begin, we have not begun a ground war.
Air Force chief Major General Amir Eshel is saying there is no need for a ground operation as his forces can do the job.  Although I am told this is a familiar Air Force refrain, there might be re-assessments as he presents his case.
There was one quick ground sortie inside Gaza: Very early this morning, a group of IDF naval commandos entered Gaza to destroy a weapons cache and a launching site near Gaza City in the north of Gaza.  On the way they encountered Hamas fighters.  Four of our soldiers were lightly wounded; three Hamas fighters were killed. The commandos completed their mission and returned home.
In the short term we might, perhaps, be seeing more of these “quick in-quick out” operations that accomplish things that it is difficult to do from the air.
Over Shabbat, into last night and during the day today, there has been heavy fire in both directions, with large numbers of rockets launched and Israel doing considerable bombing in Gaza.
With all the carrying on about the civilians we’ve killed, I observe this: About 150 Arabs in Gaza are said to have been killed so far (these of course are not all civilians). The number will, clearly, shift upwards over time but this is the number I have at the moment. While over 1,200 targets have been hit by the Air Force  That is (in approximate terms) one Arab in Gaza killed for every eight targets hit.  This is an incredibly densely populated area, and it is, as I see it, a remarkably low casualty rate.
Among those hit in the last couple of days, by the way, have been a nephew of Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh and the chief of police, as well as a host of “activists.” 
Israel took down a mosque, indicating that weapons were stored inside.  There has been information that the leaders of both the military and political wings of Hamas are in hiding in schools and hospitals.
All of this has such a “déjà vu” feeling about it: I’ve written about these very same behaviors in earlier wars with Hamas.  These are amoral bums who care not a bit about school children, the ill, or the sanctity of religious sites.  Or anything other than their own skins, first, and then their military and political goals.
As of last night, it was announced by Israeli officials that there was going to be a change in tactics.  As most of the long range rockets are fired from the north of Gaza, those who live in the north were going to be advised to leave, so that there could be very heavy bombing in the region.  Israeli lawyers have said this is legal according to international law. (Sad, that we should be so nervous about this, but there it is.)
Phone calls and leaflets dropped from planes were being used; residents were being advised that terrorists were operating amongst them. 
As I write, some 4,000 Arabs have moved south – with UNRWA having opened facilities for them - and many more on the way. 
Palestinian families travel to a UN school in Gaza City to seek shelter after evacuating their homes in the northern strip, on Sunday, July 13, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/THOMAS COEX)

Credit: AP/Thomas Coex
Hamas is telling those fleeing to go back, and those who have not yet fled to stay put.  Israeli’s warnings, Hamas officials are saying, is no more than “psychological warfare...
“Until now, there is no reason to evacuate homes in these regions... Obeying Israeli instructions assists the enemy.”  Unspoken: While staying helps Hamas by upping the number of casualties.
The big question remains whether Israel will stay the course – in the face of huge international pressure – until Hamas is genuinely weakened or destroyed.
It’s difficult not to feel unease about this especially as the UN Security Council finally called for ceasefire yesterday.  Netanyahu began making noises about receptivity to the “possibility” of a ceasefire, while Hamas remained adamant that it would not stop firing.
However, when I began to look at the terms Netanyahu was laying out for a ceasefire, such as a diplomatic process for dismantling Hamas’s rocket arsenal (as Syria’s chemical weapon stores were dismantled), or turning Gaza over to the PA, I understood that they were not terms Hamas was about to agree to, no matter what.  Then it began to seem more a matter of Netanyahu showing his “willingness” to the international community, as is his wont, and not a weakening by the prime minister.  He has said he would “consider” various proposals, and I’ve read that he has already rejected two out of hand.  So it does not seem a matter of his settling at this point.
Aaron Lerner, who is somewhat the skeptic, if not an outright cynic, on this question, seems to be optimistic.  He pointed out what he saw a very significant shift in Netanyahu’s position as spelled out at today’s Cabinet meeting. He has gone, says Lerner, from saying that the goal of the operation was "the restoration of quiet for a long period." to saying the goal of the operation was “the restoration of quiet for a long period while inflicting a significant blow on Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip." (Emphasis added)  This would preclude any “quiet for quiet” deal.
See Netanyahu’s full statement here:
He says this war might last a long time, and Ya’alon’s statements reflect a similar position.
I mention here a couple of news items that lead me to believe that the situation truly is different this time around.
Khaled abu Toameh reports that:“

Over the past week there are voices coming out of Egypt and some Arab countries - voices that publicly support the Israeli military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“They see the atrocities and massacres committed by Islamists on a daily basis in Iraq and Syria and are beginning to ask themselves if these serve the interests of the Arabs and Muslims.

"’Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas!’ — Azza Sami of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram.”
And here we have a major Egyptian news announcer calling on Egypt to join Israel in destroying Hamas.
What is significant here is that these pronouncements were made boldly for public consumption – these were not the usual whispers under the table. 
Perhaps even more incredible:
The Palestinian Authority's envoy to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has said the PA has no hope of pressing charges against Israel in international courts - because Palestinian terrorist groups are far worse violators of international law themselves.
“...contrasting Israel's conduct during Operation Protective Edge to stop rocket fire from Gaza - in which Israeli forces always warn civilians before launching airstrikes - to the actions of Hamas and other armed groups, Ibrahim Khreisheh said any such move would surely backfire.
“...’the missiles that are now being launched against Israel - each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at civilian targets,’ said Khreisheh.” (Emphasis added)
Khreisheh spoke last week on PA TV, in Arabic, of course.  See the story here and the TV segment, with translation by MEMRI:
So hang on, and pray!
Worth considering, as well, on a related but slightly different issue, is what David Horovitz, editor of Times of Israel, has just written about Netanyahu’s position on a Palestinian state.  I note here that what he laments – because he is a “two-stater” far to my left – is for me a cause for genuine hope, as it likely will be for many of my readers as well.
“’The priority right now, Netanyahu stressed, was to ‘take care of Hamas.’ But the wider lesson of the current escalation was that Israel has to ensure that ‘we don’t get another Gaza in Judea and Samaria.’ Amide the current conflict, he elaborated, ‘I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.’
“Not relinquishing security control west of the Jordan, it should be emphasized, means not giving a Palestinian entity full sovereignty there.  It means not acceding to Mahmoud Abba’s demands, to Barack Obama’s demands, to the international community’s demands.  This is not merely demanding a demilitarized Palestine...That sentence quite simply, spells the end to the notion of Netanyahu consenting to the establishment of a Palestinian state...” (Emphasis added)
Horovitz says this is Netanyahu finally revealing what he really intends.  I would prefer even more: A Netanyahu who speaks about our rights to build in all of the territory west of the River Jordan, but this is a step in the right direction.

Note: When a handful of rockets had been launched over the border with Lebanon into the Galil. there was talk about Hezbollah trying to open a second front. But it has since been determined that it was not Hezbollah that launched the rockets but some Palestinian Arab group.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 04:32PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 11, 2014: Slowly, Thoughtfully, Agonizingly

By now I had thought our ground forces would have entered Gaza, but the operation remains on the edge of happening.

As I approach Shabbat and find I still have many preparations to attend to, I want to share only a very brief overview of what is transpiring with regard to the pros and cons of going in and what we do once we start the ground war.  We’re Jews. So we have as many opinions on the subject as we have commentators and analysts.

In the end, it seems to me we must go in on the ground because Hamas is stepping up the rocket launchings, and while – thank Goodness – no one one our side has been killed, there have been injuries at this point, at least a couple of which are serious.

Mordechai Yemin, an IDF soldier from Itamar, was seriously wounded by mortar shells yesterday while he was in the Eshkol Regional Council, near Kerem Shalom.  We are being asked to pray for his full recovery:  Mordechi Chai Ben Bracha Yehudit.

And...rockets are aimed now at the airport.  Not something we can tolerate.

Hamas is being defiant.  We must act decisively.


Netanyahu – either very prudent or over cautious, depending on your perspective – has to deal with many factors.  In no way should we imagine that his job is anything but horrendous, as he weighs heavy issues.  All of those who write to me with notions of what we “must” do are advised to consider what we are facing.  We don’t have a professional army.  The IDF is composed of our boys.  Our sons and grandsons and brothers and fathers and friends.  That some of them may – or in the end, inevitably, must – die to protect the country is accepted.  But it’s heart wrenching – in times like this we think like one extended family.  And the more extensive the operation, the greater the losses will be.  What is a reasonable “trade-off” for the sake of the country, and what is excessive and foolish?     

With all of this anguish, however, a good portion of the Israeli populace, I would say, is eager to see us go in and give Hamas what it deserves.  The people want to see strength.


On the one hand, we are told that the presence of a whole network of tunnels makes it imperative that we go in.  There is no way that we can reach those tunnels by air. And they are so sophisticated - Yossi Melman calls them an “underground city” - that we cannot take out infrastructure and personnel and weaponry sufficiently without sending in ground troops.  What makes the tunnels more dangerous is that – as I have written before – some of them travel under the border into Israel, making it possible for terrorists to enter Israel for kidnappings and various terror incidents.

Another reason we must go in is because Hamas is embedding itself in hospitals and schools (nothing new), making it impossible to reach them from the air.

And yet, those same Vietcong-inspired tunnels make matters more dangerous for ground troops, as they can be surprised from behind by those who are hiding in tunnels. There are some who say that the fact of the tunnels means we shouldn’t sent our boys in. That it would be a booby trap.


There are those – such as Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, former National Security Advisor and former head of research for military intelligence - saying that if we go in at all, it is not worth it unless we take over Gaza and really wipe out the entire terror network and leaders.  Otherwise Hamas will recoup and it will not have been worth the effort and the lives, as in two years or three, Hamas will be attacking us again.  He says it would take from three days to two weeks to take Gaza, and that we’d have to remain for six month to a year.

Avi Dichter former Shin Bet director, says something similar as well. We need to switch from a tactical to a strategic campaign that will last a year or two, he says.  Capture thousands of terrorist leaders and operators, and defeat terrorism.  This is different from going in to destroy weaponry that can be replenished. (My own question here is whether the fact that Egypt is blocking the smuggling tunnels would significantly reduce the ability of Hamas to replenish its weapon supply.  They manufacture some of their own weapons now, but the best are supplied by Iran.)

I will note here that these suggestions involve only a temporary takeover of Gaza. There is very little inclination to rule over Gaza indefinitely, with 1.5 million hostile Arabs, for whom we would be responsible.

And there are those – e.g., Mordechai Kedar, an academic with knowledge of the Islamic world and considerable intelligence savvy  – who insist we absolutely shouldn’t send in our boys because Hamas is laying a trap, and that there are other ways to handle matters.


One of the things Kedar suggests is that we cut off all electricity and fuel to Gaza, something which some of my readers have been asking me about. 

My response has been that there is an attitude in the Israeli government that we must be careful to never be accused of collective punishment of the civilian population of Gaza.  Aside from the fact that it may not be legal according to humanitarian international law, it would serve us very badly from a PR perspective and cause us to lose the support we have. What is envisioned is a headline that says, for example, that three people on respirators and five premature babies in incubators died because Israel cut off electricity and the hospital where these patients were did not have a working generator.

What’s being said is that the government’s legal advisors (which may primarily mean the attorney general) advise against cutting off of electricity.  But my own suspicion is that our prime minister, who is so inordinately concerned about world opinion, would, himself not go this route.

In 2007, what Israel did, however, was reduce the amount of electricity sent into Gaza without cutting it off completely, and government lawyers at that time said this was legal. This, then, might be the way to go – it would fall to Hamas to decide how to allocate available electricity and if hospitals were deprived it would be the fault of Hamas. But I don’t know that Netanyahu is about to be convinced of this.


Please know: At about dawn we were hit by three rockets coming out of Lebanon.  Another reason why we must act now.


May Shabbat bring us peace.  And may the Almighty endow our leaders with the wisdom to make the best decisions they can.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Friday, July 11, 2014 at 10:49AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 10, 2014: Those Human Shields

Yet another factor in the current conflict is the willingness – indeed the eagerness - of Hamas to promote a PR advantage by putting its civilians in harm’s way.
This is not a new tactic.  Israel goes to the extraordinary lengths of warning Gaza residents of a house that an attack on that house is about to take place, so that they can leave in time.  Most often it is done by phone calls with an Arabic message. But there is also something called “roof knocking” which is launching of a small explosive device to warn that a large attack is imminent. 
Hamas is encouraging the residents not only to stay, but to go up on the roof.  You see here an article about Sami abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas, admitting that they are doing this:
For Hamas, it’s a win-win.  Either the house – which is likely either a house where weapons are stored or the home of an Hamas leader or both at the same time – does not get hit, as the strike is aborted by the Air Force.  Or, civilians are killed and it becomes a PR gain for Hamas – as the number of civilians killed increases.
For the residents themselves, who go up on the roofs, either they are confident that Israel will not strike them, or they are content to be “martyrs” for the cause.
This situation is possible because Israel is dealing with an enemy with no respect for human life, while we Jews have ultimate respect for human life.  This reflects an enormous moral advantage on Israel’s part, even as it sometimes generates an apparent PR or strategic disadvantage.
There will be, as the conflict progresses, a growing disparity between number of Palestinian Arab civilians (or presumed civilians – remember that Hamas exaggerates!) killed and the number of Israeli dead.  At present, thank Heaven, we have had no one killed. 
Thus it is imperative that people understand the reality in terms of the difference in how Hamas and the Israeli government are handling the situation. 
Israel uses Iron Dome batteries to deflect incoming rockets, at least part of the time. (There are an insufficient number of batteries to be place everywhere.)
Iron Dome
Credit: Jewishvirtuallibrary
And Israel makes shelters available, especially in areas that have been most at risk for rocket attacks.  Some of the shelters are decorated, to minimize the trauma of children, which is a great concern. In some cases huge sewer pipes have been brought in to use as shelters.  There is an attempt, when kids must be inside shelters for prolonged time, to provide facilities and games to ease their way.


Credit: Wikipedia
Israelis take cover in a large concrete pipe used as a bomb shelter after a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip.

Credit: Getty/Uriel Sinai
An Israeli family sleeps in a bomb shelter in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on Sunday (photo credit: Dima Vazinovich/Flash90)

Credit: Dima Vazinovich/Flash90

Government announcements go out imploring residents to heed instructions and to stay close to shelters.  There are warning sirens (although, of course, of short duration near the border).  We have Israeli residents in the south who are spending their whole nights in shelters.
Take a look at how this group of Israeli kids is handled to allay their fear during a rocket alert:
Compare this, my friends, to what Hamas is doing, and make sure as many as possible understand this situation.
As to Hamas, every analyst is making it clear that its behavior is wrought of desperation and not strength.
Hamas has confronted a series of frustrations and failures recently, including the way in which the IDF hit Hamas infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, and rearrested Hamas prisoners released in the Shalit trade – all in the course of the operation to find our kidnapped students.  In addition, Hamas’s relationship with Egyptian president Sisi is not good, so it is not likely that there will be significant support from him.  (An Egyptian diplomat has just criticized Hamas leadership as having made irresponsible decisions.) While Arabs across the area (as well as Iran) are so focused on Iraq and ISIS, the Syrian civil war and other major crises that Gaza draws very little attention from them.  Hey, even ISIS is not supporting Hamas, saying that the time for confrontation with Israel is not yet.
Hamas, feeling isolated, strategically weakened, and short on funds, apparently figured it had nothing to lose.  Its aggressive behavior towards Israel was designed to draw attention and support from the Arab world, and, hopefully, ultimately funds.
But its plan is not working out as its leaders had hoped.  They are taking a beating of a sort that they never anticipated, and they are truly eager for it to stop. But there is a catch: Arab Muslim culture is honor-shame based.  They don’t do surrender well because of the shame it brings upon them.  They would only be able to agree to a ceasefire if they could point to something that allowed them to say they had “won.”
Thus, even today, Hamas leaders said they would stop launching rockets if Israel would release those prisoners who had been traded for Shalit and were re-arrested very recently.  In their dreams.  Then too, they are attempting to succeed at a major terror attack, which would, in their eyes, make them look like “winners.”
Netanyahu has said we are not interested in a ceasefire right now, and he has instructed the IDF to escalate its efforts.  We have hit 800 targets in Gaza, although many more remain.  And now, finally, it is not just the homes of terrorist leaders that are being hit: it is the terrorist leaders themselves.  Reports are that we dispatched Iman Siam, who was head of rocket operations for Hamas.  Then there were three Islamic Jihad leaders, one of whom is Alaa Abed a-Nabi, a senior officer responsible for Islamic Jihad's rocket operations.
Peter Lerner, IDF spokesman, said on TV a little while ago, that these guys cannot expect to be involved with launching rockets at us and then think they can just safely get in their cars or on their motorcycles.  It’s about time!
At this moment in time, it does appear that our ground forces are on the verge of going into Gaza.  By the time you read this, it may well have happened. 
Four brigades are at the border with Gaza and one or two more are still to come.

Credit: Israelmatzav
As of last night, IDF Chief of Staff Gantz had approved all plans for a ground incursion. 
And we have sent messages by phone to 100,000 residents of Gaza, in Beit Lahia, Beit Hanoun, and Absan, telling them to leave the area immediately.
But, incredibly (or not so incredibly), Hamas has told them not to leave.
There you have it, folks: on a very large scale.  Human shields.
A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, has told Times of Israel that:
’Today, we’re not interested in a Band-Aid. We don’t want to give Hamas just a timeout to rest, regroup and recharge batteries, and then next week or in two weeks they start again to shoot rockets at Israel. Such a quick-fix solution is not something we’re interested in.’

”The current airstrikes at Gazan targets aim to ‘deplete and dismantle Hamas’s ability to attack us,’ the official said. Because of the ‘new strategic reality in his region,’ Israel needs to make sure that the terrorists’ ‘ability to replenish and rearm their stockpiles of weapons is more difficult than it was in the past. We’re dulling their sword, and we’re making sure their ability to sharpen that sword again is more difficult.’”
If that is what we are about to do, I say Baruch Hashem.  And may the Almighty watch over our fighting boys. Because it’s frightening, for their sake, and I do not pretend otherwise.  They, however, are eager and ready to go.  Do not think otherwise!
Again today, in the course of writing this, I had to take a break because the siren was sounding warning us of a rocket incoming.  I went to the safe place in my apartment, and after the siren stopped, my windows rattled.  I knew this had been caused by an explosion.  Now I’ve learned that four rockets were shot at Jerusalem. Two were intercepted by the Iron Dome (and that is perhaps what caused my windows to shake) and two landed in an empty field.
I felt no fear during this time, but when it was over I felt an enormous sadness – that we should have to endure this.  Not much longer, I pray.
Whatever the rhetoric, there is considerable caution about the ground operation we may be about to embark on.  The traps that await our soldiers in a very densely populated area are many. 
But many believe that there is no way to accomplish what must be accomplished solely from the air.  Weapons caches are hidden in civilian areas, so that they cannot be reached from the air. And there is, as well, a network of tunnels that are intended for incursions into Israel, that cannot be identified from the air. 
What is said to be key here is that goals be carefully and realistically defined. The term used is the need for “an exit strategy.”  We have to be able to say, OK, we’ve done what we needed to do, and we can leave.  The concern is that we might get entangled in a way that leaves goals unclear or allows Hamas to claim “victory” because it appears we couldn’t accomplish what we set out to do. 
I do know that the IDF has been planning and training for this possibility for a long time.
And there are even those who are predicting a very major effort, as Yuval Steinitz did the other day, that involves a temporary takeover of Gaza.
I’m not included in military planning sessions, needless to say, and so I cannot tell you what will transpire next.  I have laid out the possibilities and the issues, to the best of my ability. And now we will see...
One other point here that I think is extremely significant with regard to our need to be tough right now.  Yes, we have to dismantle or severely reduce Hamas’s ability to hit us again at at time of their choosing.
But deterrence in a broader sense is also critical now.  At our north, there is Hezbollah and ISIS, and other jihadist groups. Right now they are not interested in taking on Israel, because they are otherwise occupied. But that does not mean they do not have intentions of hitting us at some future point.  Our message to them must be one of resolve and strength. They must understand what awaits them if they challenge us.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 05:15PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 9, 2014: Proportionality and Other Matters

There is a widespread – but very erroneous – impression that if an enemy attacks, a proportional response means a nation can only return what was received and no more. That is, the mistaken impression is that if Hamas shot one rocket, we could only shoot one rocket back.

International law, however, defines proportionality very differently: it is a question of legitimate military goals and intentionality.  Put very simply, we would not be restricted to only shooting one rocket back at Hamas, but rather doing what is necessary (within certain defined limits) to ensure that Hamas does not shoot any more rockets.  That is a legitimate military goal.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who was the Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in 2003, wrote this about proportionality:

“Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable, does not in itself constitute a war crime. International humanitarian law and the Rome Statute permit belligerents to carry out proportionate attacks against military objectives, even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians...or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality).”


The proportionality has to do with the relationship between the damage inflicted and the legitimate military goal.  What must be assessed, wrote the Chief Prosecutor, is:

(a) the anticipated civilian damage or injury;
(b) the anticipated military advantage;
(c) and whether (a) was "clearly excessive" in relation to (b).

Another way of phrasing it: former president of the International Court, Rosalyn Higgins, explained that proportionality "cannot be in relation to any specific prior injury - it has to be in relation to the overall legitimate objective of ending the aggression."

The sort of bombing we are doing is entirely legitimate and proportional to our military goals of making it impossible for Hamas to launch rockets at our people. If in the process some civilians in Gaza are hit, our military action remains entirely legitimate.  Do not believe otherwise.  In point of fact there are bound to be civilian deaths because Hamas uses civilians as human shields and places its arsenal of weapons in civilian areas.

Were Israel to decide to carpet bomb Gaza to make Hamas stop launching rockets, that would be clearly disproportionate civilian destruction in relation to the goal of stopping Hamas.  But that, of course, is something we would never, ever do.  We are, in fact, extraordinarily careful to avoid civilian deaths whenever it is possible to do so. We actually place phone calls to homes, warning families to get out, before we bomb the houses.

What is not legitimate according to international law is the sort of deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians that Hamas is doing day in and day out.  Here the intentionality is to hit civilians.

And yet, as we see day in and day out, the international community draws an outrageous moral equivalency between Israel’s actions and those of Hamas.

When the State Department calls on both sides to “act responsibly,” you know what a joke this is.


But it’s actually much worse than this, as Israel is – incredibly – turned into the aggressor.  As Human Rights Watch reported:

“UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon refuses to name the perpetrators of the attacks ‘from Gaza.’ No mention is made of ‘Hamas.’ And while the rockets should ‘stop,’ what is really bothering the UNSG is alleged Palestinian victims. ‘The Secretary-General is extremely concerned at the dangerous escalation of violence, which has already resulted in multiple Palestinian deaths and injuries as a result of Israeli operations against Gaza.’
”...As for the notoriously anti-Israel UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, she had this to say: ‘From a human rights point of view, I utterly condemn these rocket attacks and more especially I condemn Israel's excessive acts of retaliation.’" (Emphasis added)


I share here a video that effectively (and amusingly!) presents the situation we confront (with thanks to Raima S.)


Part of what the international community does is attempt to pin the blame for Hamas’s violence on Israel, because Israel has not attended to the “legitimate rights” of the “Palestinian people.”  (As if deliberate targeting of civilians by Hamas would be acceptable even if this were the case, which it is not.)

We see this with Ban Ki-Moon, who said, "the unsustainable situation in Gaza will also need to be addressed in its political, security, humanitarian and development dimensions as part of a comprehensive solution."

Philip Gordon, a special assistant to US President Barack Obama and the White House coordinator for the Middle East, at a conference sponsored by (surprise!) Haaretz, made it clear that the Obama administration still expects a negotiated settlement between Israel and the PA, based on the ‘67 armistice line.  Now he says this?  Inconceivable that he ignores the current violence from Hamas, and the fact that it is part of a unity government.  But there it is.

“Jerusalem,” he declared, “should not take for granted the opportunity to negotiate” a treaty with Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, who has proven to be a reliable partner.

Daft. And maliced.


So let’s take a look, just for a moment, at Fatah, which is Abbas’s party.

Palestinian Media Watch tells us that Fatah put up on its Facebook page today an announcement that:

“One god, one homeland, one enemy, one goal” unites Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad.

While Khaled abu Toameh writes that:

“At least two Fatah armed groups announced that they had started firing rockets at the ‘settlements’ of Ashkelon and Sderot, cities inside the pre-1967 borders of Israel, with another Fatah group claiming responsibility for firing 35 rockets into Israel since Sunday.”

The use of the word “settlements” is a tip-off to the fact that Fatah considers Jewish presence even within the ‘67 armistice line to be an illegitimate “occupation,” i.e., they want it all.


Abbas, our “reliable partner,” says Israel is committing “genocide” in Gaza.  Sigh...


The Elder of Ziyon put up a posting about “What Reporters Need to Know” during the current Gaza operation.  But I think the points are so good that everyone needs to know them.

His major points:

1) It is a mistake to assume that all casualties are the result of Israeli airstrikes.

Traditionally, the number of Gaza rockets that fall short and never reach Israel, or that explode as they are fired is over 35% and sometimes as high as 80%!”

Then there are “work accidents” and civilians killed when guns are shot off during funerals.

2) It is a mistake to assume that casualties and damage are the direct result of Israeli airstrikes.

Many airstrikes hit weapons caches and explosives that cause a larger explosion than the strike itself.

3) It is a mistake to believe that casualties are civilian when they are not.

Terrorists, who are combatants, most frequently wear civilian clothing. And Hamas is eager to inflate the “civilian numbers.”

Do see the entire posting.


Be aware as well that pictures put up about the war in social media are sometimes deceptive:


The war goes on.

They are still launching rockets at us – including at the center of the country and even farther north.  Rockets have landed just south of Haifa, in Hadera, Zikhron Ya’akov (where someone was mildly hurt), Casaerea and Hof Bonim.

In some of the attacks that are farther away, Iranian long-rang missiles such as the Fajr5 and M302 are being used.

Needless to say, the south – particularly Sderot and Sha’ar Hanegev - is being hit hard.

More than 225 rockets have been fired at Israel since the beginning of the operation.


But we are hitting hard inside of Gaza, as well.

According to Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon, who spoke today to Army Radio:

”We'll continue with strikes that will exact a very heavy price from Hamas. We are destroying arms, terror infrastructures, command systems, Hamas institutions, regime buildings, terrorists' houses, and killing terrorists of various ranks of command.

"We will continue to hit Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza Strip from the air, sea and ground to ensure the safety of Israel's citizens."

Saying “from the ground” obviously implies a ground operation.  There are multiple hints about the fact that this is about to occur, but we’re still not there. The reserve troops still have to take their places in Judea and Samaria, to replace the regular troops who must be moved to the border with Gaza.,7340,L-4540419,00.html


The IDF spokesman said today that the next stage is being prepared and that this will be a long operation.

And then there is this astonishing statement from Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz:

“Despite the fact that it will be hard, complicated and costly, we will have to take over Gaza temporarily, for a few weeks, to cut off the strengthening of this terror army.  If you ask my humble opinion, a significant operation like this is approaching.” (Emphasis added)

And so this sounds very serious indeed. 


But there remains unease here in Israel that the operation will be terminated before it should be, that the ground operation will never be actualized, and that talk such as Steinitz’s is simply a form of verbal saber rattling – a threat.  After all, this was just his “humble opinion.”

For we have Netanyahu’s words today, after the Security Cabinet met.  He is still saying, “the operation will expand and continue until the fire toward our towns stops and quiet returns." But the idea is that we are supposed to remove their capacity to hit us again!  Not just make them stop now.

And there is the fact that, while we announce we have destroyed the homes of key Hamas leaders, we deliver a warning first so that families are not hit, and many of the leaders themselves are still walking this earth.


Several reports are encouraging with regard to the concerns I’ve expressed here.

Khaled abu Toameh tells us that for all the bravado of leaders of Hamas, they are stunned by the power of Israel’s attack and reeling.


Apparently Egypt is unlikely to mediate a ceasefire as it has in the past.  This situation “comes at a time of mounting tensions between the new government in Cairo and Hamas. [Hamas backed the Muslim Brotherhood in its battle with Egyptian president Sisi.]

“‘There is no mediation, in the common sense of the word,’ said Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty.”

And then we have this:

“A senior Hamas official pledged that militants would not ‘surrender’ in the face of the latest air strikes on Wednesday.

“There are no ceasefire talks, in the conventional sense.  There are ongoing contacts.  The Israelis are not interested in mediation, they are looking for surrender,’ said Osama Hamdan, who is based in Beirut.” (Emphasis added.)

This, then, may truly be an operation that is qualitatively different.


“The Israel Air Force has destroyed more terrorist targets in Gaza over the past 36 hours than it did throughout the whole the 2012 clash with Hamas, a senior security said Wednesday.”


Security is on high alert because Hamas is hoping to initiate a major terror attack as a way of shifting the balance.

Yesterday five Hamas terrorists entered Israel via the Mediterranean at a beach near Ashkelon and were killed by the IDF.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 01:18PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 8, 2014: WAR

It took a long time in coming, but it’s very serious now.  The military action, called Operation Protective Edge, was announced in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. 

As I write, well over 140 sites in Gaza have been hit by the Israeli Air Force and some 14 people have died, including an Hamas official, and some 80 have been injured.

Credit: Flash90

But Hamas has apparently decided to go for broke and says it has no interest in a ceasefire.  The barrage of rockets has continued with some 70 launched today: Rocket alerts sounded in Tel Aviv, Givatayim, Gedera, Be'ersheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ofakim, Merhavim, Ramat HaNegev, Eshkol and elsewhere.  In some instances, notably in the Tel Aviv area, the Iron Dome intercepted the rockets.  But the fact that rockets are now being aimed at Tel Aviv, a major population center at the heart of the country, is a mark of escalation by Hamas.

Credit: Ivarfjeld

Forty-thousand reserve troops have now been called up for the Southern and Central Command.  They will replace regular army in places such as Judea and Samaria, allowing these troops to move to Gaza.

Credit: IDF

The ground operation has not yet begun, but barring some incredible change in circumstances, it will start before long.

Reports are that Netanyahu has told the army, which says it’s ready for anything, to “take off its gloves.”

According to Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, “The IDF has a free hand to operate, within a set of predefined steps. The political echelon has given the IDF everything it has requested.” (Emphasis added),7340,L-4539542,00.html


The nation has been advised by several officials, including Netanyahu and Ya’alon, that this will not be a short operation of days. They are asking us for patience. Guidelines have been provided on how to act if a rocket warning sounds.  Hamas has rockets that can reach across the country, and cautions apply to all of the country.


There is the question now of what the final goals of this operation will be.  I am not certain if they are clearly defined within the top political and military echelon. 

Netanyahu today said:

“...we must stand together as one -- united and sure of the justice of our cause. We are acting with determination and assertively to return the quiet, and we will continue to do so until the quiet is restored.”
But this is not sufficient.  It would allow Hamas, as has been pointed out here often enough, to continue to build its arsenal and to hit us again at a time of its choosing.
Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz has said something quite different (emphasis added):

“We will now activate all of our force and take all the time that is needed in various stages in order to reach victory.

"There may be surprises; there might be rocket fire here or a terror attack and difficulties there. We must be prepared for all possibilities...We must continue the mission, for as long as necessary... the public is resilient and stable. It trusts the military and expects it to act.

"We will accomplish goals against Hamas, hurt it badly, remove its capabilities, defend our civilians and our country, and we will exact from Hamas the full price for the strategic mistake that it has made."

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz (photo credit: Flash90)

Credit: Flash90

There are those – notably Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (head of Yisrael Beitenu) and MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), Chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee  - who are recommending we retake Gaza.
That it was a terrible error to have pulled out as PM Sharon did in 2005 is clear, and there is a great longing on the part of many to correct that painful mistake.  It would solve the problem of having rockets launched at our civilians by jihadists of any stripe, and it would prevent other radicals from assuming power if Hamas is brought down.

There are two downsides to this that immediately spring to mind, however. First, that it would require a protracted military campaign with a large number of casualties among our troops.  And then that Abbas would demand of the international community that it force us to turn Gaza over to the Palestinian Authority (which had it before the Hamas coup of 2006).

I doubt we will move that far, but who knows???


NOTE: I just had to take a break from this posting.  A rocket alert sounded here in western Jerusalem!  I have not yet accessed any information about anything landing here although I heard explosions, as did a friend I checked with. 

They are showering the country with rockets.  I hope we bomb the heads off of Hamas leaders.


What I am gleaning from the various reports shines a somewhat different light on the apparent reluctance of our government to start an action against Hamas sooner.  All that talk about quiet.  The readiness to stop attacking on Friday even as rockets continues to be launched  What is being said now is that this gives Netanyahu an edge within the international community. For it will demand - as it always does once civilians are hit (as inevitably they will be) - that we stop our operation. 

The fact is that Obama is already doing this:  He has defended our right to defend ourselves (isn’t that nice?), but that defense is qualified.  We should practice “restraint.” 

I will not dignify this with a comment, which is about as much restraint as Obama is going to see.

The idea, now, is that Netanyahu will be able to say that we tried everything to bring quiet – that the war is on the heads of Hamas.

It may work for a while, and it may well be that this was intended from the start.  But what is most important is that we resist that international pressure because we have a right to do what we are doing now.


Arutz Sheva has put up on its site the prayer for the IDF soldiers that was written by Shlomo Goren who was IDF Chief Rabbi:

Please, bookmark this or print it out, and say it every day.  A portion of the prayer:

May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them.  May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.
May he lead our enemies under our soldiers’ sway and may He grant them salvation and crown them with victory. And may there be fulfilled for them the verse: For it is the Lord your God, Who goes with you to battle your enemies for you to save you.”

Credit: yourmovingtoisrael


I have other information that I will share in my next posting – including information about proportionality, which is poorly understood. 

Here I want to present a few videos, to provide a clearer, more potent picture of what Israel has been dealing with.  These videos reflect previous bombing experiences, not just the current one. But it’s the same thing.  We’ve been dealing with it off and on (between times of “quiet”) for some time now.  The south of Israel, and especially Sderot and communities close to the border with Gaza, have suffered the most.  But now the reach of Hamas rockets is greater.

The term is “tzeva adom,” which means “color red,” but less literally, “code red,” the warning that a rocket is coming.  In the communities near the Gaza border, the time between the sounding of the warning and the arrival of the rocket is 15 seconds.

Save these and share them. When the world starts to complain about what Israel is doing to the poor people of Gaza, show them how Israel has suffered – in a way no other country would tolerate, while everyone has ignored our situation.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 05:30PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 7, 2014: Very, Very Difficult

I recognize that I must write, but it’s difficult to know what to say. For what I – and to a person those I deal with and relate to here - would have considered impossible has allegedly happened: Jewish boys have killed an Arab teenager in a horrendous fashion.

I know only what news reports are feeding us.  In spite of my best efforts, I have accessed no inside information.  Six boys have been arrested.  At least one has allegedly confessed and implicated others.  Reportedly there has been some description of the murder.


People are asking me how this could have happened, but I cannot answer.  Indeed, I ask myself.

From where I sit, there are still too many unknowns and we’re still too early into the legal process.  The boys – at least some of whom are minors of 16, and none of whom have been named - do have lawyers from an organization called Honenu.  I am not certain that the lawyers have even seen them yet – yesterday one of the lawyers said they still had to look at the evidence.  There have been no indictments yet.  Which does not mean there won’t be.

But I and my associates continue to wait to hear more about the unraveling of this situation.

What has thrown us so – what had us breathless with astonishment – is that this feels so much a not-Jewish way to do things.  And, at the same time, the method of murdering the boy, which involved burning him while he was still alive, falls within the norm of Islam.  The very best information we have on the victim is that he was a homosexual.  And within Islamic culture, this is the greatest of sins, meriting death.  As I wrote recently, it’s written in Islamic law – that burning alive is an appropriate (indeed the preferred) means of executing homosexuals.

And all of a sudden we’re being told that six boys did this for “nationalistic” reasons.”  Why this boy? Why this method of killing him?  Purely out of a “nationalistic” revenge motivation? We don’t have answers now.  I do not know if we ever will.  There are those who will say that they picked this boy, and did it this way precisely so that Arabs would be suspect.  I don’t know.  But in the end we will have to accept and live with the realities, or, more accurately, as close to reality as we can get – however it grieves us.


The latest news on the boys is that they have been involved with “criminal activity” (of what sort is unclear) in the past, and are being sent for psychiatric examinations.


There are several significant issues of great concern that follow in the wake of this tragedy. 

First are the accusations of “moral equivalency” that are being leveled at Israel now – sometimes with a self-righteous tone on the part of those making the charges:  See. see what these Jews are capable of, exactly what the Arabs do. 

But this is a libel, a false accusation of the greatest calumny.  When the three Jewish boys were kidnapped, there were candies passed out in Arab communities.  The mother of one of those presumed to be a kidnapper said, “If it turns out he did it, I will be very proud of him.”

Here there has been breast-beating, and stunned grieving that such a thing could have happened.


Netanyahu put it very well:

“I know that in our society, the society of Israel, there is no place for such murderers. And that’s the difference between us and our neighbors. They consider murderers to be heroes. They name public squares after them. We don’t. We condemn them and we put them on trial and we’ll put them in prison.” (Emphasis added)

Our prime minister, in fact, expressed condolences by phone to the parents of the murdered Arab boy.  Can you imagine Abbas or any of his ilk doing the same in reverse?  Other officials and the Jewish families mourning the loss of their sons did the same.


Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon declared himself "ashamed and shocked by the cruel murder of the teenager Muhammad Abu Khader...

"these despicable murderers do not represent the Jewish people and its values...”

Moral equivalency?  Not on your life.  


If you wish to help Israel, fight these charges of moral equivalency wherever and however you can.


Then we have the rioting mobs of Israeli Arabs inside of Israel.  Ostensibly they have been rioting because of the murder of the boy, but I see it as an excuse for violence.  Period. Without justification.

Credit: TimesofIsrael

They forced the closing of roads and pelted buses.  They destroyed property and used firebombs.
Police arrested a good number of people and used mob control techniques, but there are very serious questions about how to deal with these rioting Arabs – and much criticism that they are being handled with insufficient firmness.

They cannot and must not be permitted to disrupt our society. The feeling, my friends, of being besieged from within by people who truly hate us is not a pleasant one, I assure you.

The significant point here is that we’re talking about people who are Israeli citizens.  Said Netanyahu (emphasis added):

"There's no place in the State of Israel for those who throw rocks at police; there's no place for those who throw Molotov cocktails; there's no place for those who block roads or damage property. 

"You can't enjoy social security payments and child subsidies on one hand and on the other hand violate the most basic laws of the State of Israel."


There have been suggestions made about removing the citizenship of some and/or deporting them to Gaza.  I mention it here but will return to this if and as appropriate.  It is difficult not to feel bitter about being accused of being “apartheid,” when we have in our midst persons with full rights who wish us ill.


I must turn now to the final, very significant issue: That of the rockets from Gaza and the question of our going in for a serious military operation.

As I wrote last, the barrage of rockets has continued.  Our Air Force started going into Gaza again, after remaining quiet for a period of time on Friday, in order to respond to rocket launchings – taking out a couple of Islamic Jihad terrorists in the process. 

And yet, to the despair of many including yours truly, Netanyahu did not order a major action.  What seems apparent from my perspective is that the barrage continued because Israel is seen as weak. While Netanyahu, for his part, is behaving with regrettable reluctance because of the murder by Jews of the Arab youth.

Yet the fact of this murder should in no way impinge upon our right to defend ourselves. Nor can we worry about the world thinks of us.  Both Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman criticized Netanyahu’s weakness in acting, as did others. 

Today Lieberman took a major step: He separated his party, Yisrael Beitenu, from the Likud. (Likud and Yisrael Beitenu ran together in the last election.) The issue of Netanyahu’s response to Hamas in Gaza was a primary motivating force. I see it as a good move.  Yisrael Beitenu is remaining in the Coalition, and so the government is not threatened.  It is Likud that is weakened.


Now tonight, in a short interval of time, a far greater barrage of rockets and mortars – somewhere between 40 and 70 depending on the source – was unleashed upon Israel.  Sirens went off in multiple locations and rockets headed towards Ashkelon and Ashdod. 

Hamas claimed credit for this rocket barrage.  Israel has called up 1,500 reservists and increased action inside of Gaza by air.  An invasion of Gaza seems imminent, although it has not yet been set into action.  I am reading that the Security Cabinet is calling for “phased escalation,” although it’s not entirely clear what this entails. 

In light of what Hamas is now demanding, I do not see how anything other than full war can follow although Israel is taking her time getting there (emphasis follows):

a senior Hamas official told The Times of Israel that the group does not accept the idea that ‘quiet will be answered with quiet’ in the Gaza Strip, saying that if Israel wants peace in the South it must release all the prisoners freed in exchange for Gilad Shalit who were recently re-arrested following the abduction of the three Israeli teens...
“Omri Ceren of the advocacy group The Israel Project said, ‘Now they’re refusing to stop the rocket barrages until Israel lifts all restrictions on bringing materials into Gaza. The odds of that happening are exactly zero percent. This was a condition meant to give them a pretext for continued rocket attacks.’

“Ceren said, ‘It’s becoming fairly clear that Hamas thinks it’s their interest to escalate. Militarily those moves risks a full-blown war with the Israelis.”


To write more is pointless, as the situation is in flux.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Monday, July 7, 2014 at 06:23PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 5, 2014: Answering to Ourselves

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)

Shabbat has now ended, but I carry with me the messages of an incredible Shabbat afternoon, during which Rabbi Seth and Sherri Mandell spoke on “Faith in the Face of Tragedy.”   The Mandells lost their son Koby to terrorists 13 years ago, and devote themselves to good work in his memory, via the Koby Mandell Foundation.

Credit: Newtownbee
An inspiration to us all, they remind us of the importance of doing mitzvot (commandments/good works) in the memory of those who are gone. Sometimes, we have to go down into the darkness, says Sherri, to come to the brachot (the blessings).

And so I implore one and all not to stop: work on Jewish unity, increase prayer and Jewish study, show kindnesses to others, and give to charities, in the names of the three students - Gilad, Eyal, and Naftali – whom we have lost.

The world will never understand us and it’s pointless to hope that it will.  It is only to ourselves – and Heaven – that we must account for our behavior.


As to how the world sees us: we’re dealing right now with nothing less than an old-fashioned anti-Semitic blood libel, with regard to the charges that Jews killed the boy Mohammed Hussein Abu Khder.

It’s coming from Arabs, and most specifically Hamas: . We see it in modified forms in the international media, which has picked up some of the charges.

Last I wrote about Abu Khder, I provided arguments as to why there is every reason to believe his murderers were Arab.  I included the fact that his body had been burned and pointed out that this was not the Jewish way.  Which it most certainly is not.

But now I must carry this further: The initial autopsy result shows that this boy died of burns over 90% of his body.  Horrendous.  He was burned to death.

Well, it happens that burning alive is a “traditional” approach within Islamic law for executing a homosexual.
See: .

How do we combat it, when Arabs claim that Jews, knowing of the Muslim approach, did it to make it look like a Muslim did it?

We carry on, while the government and security agencies pursue a vigorous investigation to find the murderers.  Won’t be an easy job, as they are being shielded, undoubtedly.  Most importantly, we do not hesitate to take whatever actions we know must be taken, even though some portions of the world will now insist on seeing a moral equivalency  - Arabs kill innocent boys, Jews kill innocent boys.

We must not expect fairness from the world – we must answer to ourselves.


What seems reasonably clear to me is that some significant percentage of the Arab rioters in the Jerusalem streets probably knew full well – based on the information about how the boy died – that their own people did this.  Not that this stopped them from their rampage.  Perhaps they simply chose to adopt the the blood libel as truth.

Undoubtedly they see it as a win-win-win situation for themselves: Their community is rid of a boy who would have been considered an “abomination” (the ugly reality is that this is how Islam sees it), while they have been able to shift the blame onto Israel, which had the moral high ground after the murder of the students.  And they have a chance to riot, as well. 

The rioting hasn’t stopped, I must note: it has spread to the “triangle” area in the north that has a heavy Arab population.

Shifting gears, I want to look at the situation with Gaza, which is in flux at the moment.  Here I will provide background, mindful that by tomorrow another posting to address a new situation may be called for.

During the time that we as a nation were focused on the search for the boys and then the initial mourning for them, there had been a fairly regular barrage of rockets launched from Gaza.  Hamas did not do all of the launching, but it was reported as being more directly involved than it had been of recent.  And it was clear that they were giving other terrorists groups a free hand to promote attacks – a shift from the situation that had prevailed since our last operation in Gaza in 2012 (“Pillar of Defense”), after which it was said we had deterrence. 

In the course of the last few days, there were a few injuries (no fatalities) and some damage done by the rockets.  But what must be pointed out as well is the misery of life in southern Israel – and particularly Sderot – when there are sirens sounding, which require a dash to a shelter and make the heart pump furiously.  It’s no way for innocent civilians to have to live, and it is incumbent upon our government to act against this.


Additional IDF troops were moved along the border in Gaza by mid-week, suggesting the imminence of a major military action.  But I suspected that this was saber-rattling, and indeed this is what it turned out to be.

On Thursday, Netanyahu delivered a message to Hamas leadership via Egypt that said we would be “quiet” if they were “quiet.”  Thursday evening (at a Fourth of July celebration at the home of the US Ambassador to Israel), he said:

"Now we are preparing for two possibilities in the south: The first is that the firing at our communities will stop and then our operations will stop as well and the quiet that prevailed in the south after Operation Pillar of Defense will continue. The second possibility is that the firing at our communities in the south will continue and then the reinforcement forces that are located in the field will act forcefully. The security of our citizens comes first."  (Emphasis added)

Not a good policy, this “quiet for quiet.”  It has made me – along with many others – crazy for years.  This is what Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA had to say about this policy on Thursday.  It explains the situation very succinctly:

“Let me spell out what this message to Hamas is actually saying:

“Dear Hamas leadership,

“If you stop shooting - at least stop shooting much - then we will leave you alone so that you can continue to build up your offensive capabilities.

“We call this our ‘quiet for quiet’ policy.

“And we don't have to tell you just how much the "quiet for quiet" policy has been a gift for Hamas until now.

“When we first began the ‘quiet for quiet policy’ there were only very primitive launching devices in the Gaza Strip with extremely limited range and payload.

“At the time we adopted the ‘quiet for quiet’ policy because we didn't want to invest the military effort required to clear out the Gaza Strip of the terror threat as we did in the massive operation we carried out in the West Bank and we wanted to keep life bearable within the area that was within range of attacks from the Gaza Strip.

“Thanks to Israel's ‘quiet for quiet’, there are now weapons factories in the Gaza Strip producing rockets and missiles that can reach Tel Aviv and beyond...”

Hamas and related smaller jihadist groups in Gaza are estimated to have 70,000 rockets and missiles.


On Friday, we heard that Egypt was supposed to be negotiating a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that was expected to kick in momentarily. 

This was already a bad way to go, and it then got worse:

It is standard policy for the Israeli Air Force to fly in over Gaza every time a rocket is launched, and hit something: a launching field, a weapons factory, an empty building.  Occasionally, a person who is involved with the rockets gets hit.  This is not a major operation, by any means, and not really expected to deter further launchings.  But it is a way of extracting a price for every rocket or missile fired into Israel.

What happened on Friday was that a decision was made NOT to respond to rockets.  This was nauseating. This was a “bang my head against the wall” scenario. 

Aaron Lerner, citing Israel Radio Reshet Bet, explained the “logic” thus:

“The idea is apparently out of the desperate hope that if the Jewish State allows Hamas to pummel it for a few hours that Hamas will consider itself the victor and return the ‘quiet for quiet’ arrangement.”

Our government was so eager for “quiet” that it was willing to let Hamas appear the stronger force?


It should be noted that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman voiced opposition to a ceasefire.


I went into Shabbat – during which time there is a news blackout for me – assuming that by the time Shabbat went out a ceasefire would have been announced.

What I discovered tonight was that there has been no ceasefire: Hamas has not stopped firing rockets but has, instead, escalated its attacks.  Some 20 plus rockets were shot into Israel today, and, for the first time since 2012, rockets were aimed at the major Negev city of Be’ersheva.

Apparently, we have started responding again to at least some of the rocket launchings, but no major IDF action has been initiated, at least not yet.  NU?  It is more than 48 hours since Netanyahu delivered his ultimatum.  The prime minister consulted with military and security heads tonight and, say news reports, “may be considering” a larger operation. 

Why “considering.”  The head of our government said, clearly, that if the rocket attacks didn’t stop, we would act forcefully.  There had better be an operation now, or we will look very weak and foolish indeed, at a time when there is not the luxury of seeming weak.


What is going on? 

As is his wont, Netanyahu is attempting to answer to the world again, instead of accounting to ourselves for our actions. I have seen some analyses that say that the murder of Mohammed Hussein Abu Khder limits his options in Gaza. And I think this is nonsense.  An idiotic and judgmental US secretary of state alluded last week to the boy’s murder as “vengeance,” by which he meant that Jews attacked an Arab unreasonably in response to the murder of Jewish boys.  So this means we cannot take action in Gaza because we will be accused of additional vengeance?

It’s important to make matters clear here.  It is not as if Hamas was sitting quietly over there in Gaza, and we decided to hit them because our boys died.  (Which, by the way, still would not be vengeance, but rather – as I had discussed – justice, as we would attempt to weaken the leadership responsible for such acts.)  But as it is, our going into Gaza would be self-defense, plain and simple. And we are not only entitled to self-defense, it is essential.


Two important additional points here, with more to follow undoubtedly.

First, a ground operation is necessary to take out any significant part of the rocket capability of Hamas in Gaza. That is because those rockets are hidden in civilian areas – and Hamas counts on Israel to not inflict the sort of civilian damage that would likely result from targeting the rockets from the air.


And then this: Our goal should be as much destruction of Hamas weaponry as possible, and a diminishing/weakening of Hamas leadership.  However, it should not be our goal to take down Hamas completely, as much as this appeals to many.  That is because Hamas is not the worst of the jihadist forces in Gaza now. 

There is al-Qaeda. And, according to Khaled Abu Toameh, there is ISIS: . If we create a vacuum, one of these other groups will move in.  (Right now, for a variety of reasons, there is no thought being given to retaking Gaza.)


Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (head of Habayit Hayehudi) is screaming long and loud about the impression of weakness lent by current government decisions.  He is calling for tough action in Gaza. So are some others.

Let us see what transpires tomorrow...

As time allows, I may look at a variety of ways to handle Hamas that are being proposed.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Saturday, July 5, 2014 at 08:02PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 3, 2014: Obscene Rush to Judgment

On Tuesday night, according to eye witnesses, a black car stopped near Mohammad Abu Khdeir, 16, from the upscale Beit Hanina neighborhood of Jerusalem and then took off with the boy inside.  Some time later, the family reported him missing.

By early Wednesday morning, his burnt body had been found in the Jerusalem Forest area.


What happened next should not surprise us, as infuriating as it it: assumptions are being made far and wide that this boy was killed by Jews in retaliation for the terrorist murders of the three students.

Unfortunately, we are seeing this even among some Israelis, who, imagining themselves righteous people, are thumping their chests in an ill-advised and premature “mea culpa.”


One of the most egregious of the accusations came from Secretary of State Kerry, which should really, really not be a surprise.  We know by now quite well who is our friend and who is not.  There is not even a pretense of evenhandedness.  Rather, his bias is exposed for all the world to see.


Yisrael Medad put out a comparison of what Kerry said after our boys were found dead, and what he said now (with all emphasis from Medad):


“The news of the murder of these three Israeli simply devastating. We all had so much hope that this story would not end this way.  As a father, there are no words to express such a horrific loss that shakes all people of conscience.  We pray for these boys and their families, and together we grieve with all of the people of Israel.  Knowing that Naftali was also an American citizen makes this an especially heavy blow.

“We condemn this despicable terrorist act in the strongest possible terms.  The killing of innocent youths is an outrage beyond any understanding or rationale, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice. This is a time for all to work toward that goal without stabilizing the situation.”

And now:

“The  United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the despicable and senseless abduction and murder of Muhammad Hussein Abu Khder.

“It is sickening to think of an innocent 17 year old boy snatched off the streets and his life stolen from him and  his family.  There are no words to convey adequately our condolences to the Palestinian people.

“The authorities are investigating this tragedy, a number of Israeli and Palestinian officials have condemned it, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has been emphatic in calling for all sides ‘not to take the law into their own hands.’

Those who undertake acts of vengeance only destabilize an already explosive and emotional situation.  We look to both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take all necessary steps to prevent acts of violence and bring their perpetrators to justice. The world has too often learned the hard way that violence only leads to more violence and at this tense and dangerous moment, all parties must do everything in their power to protect the innocent and act with reasonableness and restraint, not recrimination and retribution.”


The difference in over-all tone between the two statements – the far more passionate distress when referring to the killing of the Arab boy – is fairly obvious.

But what we must pay closest attention to are certain key judgmental words: vengeance, destabilize, recrimination, retribution.  He has Israel tried and convicted on this, without evidence.

There we were, showing a nobility in our behavior with the funeral. But it wasn’t allowed to stand.
And – naturally – Abbas is referring to the murder of this boy as an Israeli “war crime.” 

There will in the end be a final conclusion arrived at by the police, but my absolute conviction is that he was murdered by Arabs.  Allow me to share the evidence for this:

First, the body was burned. This is not the way Jews would operate. 

Then, there is a report given by a “senior former police officer” that the family of the boy was well-known to police sources.  “It’s a problematic family with internal clashes that have been going on for many years....I know the internal conflicts in that family, and we need to wait and not rush to connect the murder of the Arab youth with the abduction in Gush Etzion."


Palestinian Arab culture is clan-based.  If you are interested in further information, to help you understand what might be going on, you might want to see this:

“Arab culture addresses security through ‘balanced opposition’ in which everybody is a member of a nested set of kin groups, ranging from very small to very large. These groups are vested with responsibility for the defense of each member and responsible for harm any member does to outsiders. If there is a confrontation, families face families, lineage faces lineage, clan faces clan.”


There have been other suggestions that the boy’s murder may have been an “honor killing” necessitated in the killer’s view by the fact that the boy is a homosexual, which brings a shame to the family that must be rectified.


Credit: Ma’an

Palestinian Arab culture is “honor-shame” based. 

An honor killing is the homicide of a member of a family...due to the perpetrator's belief that the victim has brought shame or dishonor upon the family...usually for reasons such as refusing to enter an arranged marriage, being in a relationship that is disapproved by their relative...or engaging in homosexual relations. (Emphasis added)


Lastly, we have reports from several sources of conflicting information provided by the mother and the father, including claims regarding an attempted kidnapping of the boy’s  younger brother some days before this incident.  See, for example:

“On Tuesday, police said, the mother called police to say that ‘settlers’ had tried to kidnap her younger son. She said that individuals had stopped a car in front of her house where she was sitting with her son, and that they tried to grab him. She managed to hold onto him, she said, and they left, at which point she called police.

“Officers arrived a few minutes later to take her statement, in which she said ‘settlers’ had tried to kidnap her son, but could give no details. However, a few minutes later the father arrived, and he disputed his wife, saying that it was Arabs who tried to kidnap the son.

“Police asked the father if he was positive regarding the identity of the would-be kidnappers, and he said he was. When they asked him to file a police complaint, he said he would, but that he would come down to the police station later on to do so in order to be able to comfort his son. He never showed up, police said, who contacted him several times asking him to file the complaint – but to no avail.”


The charge that Jews killed this boy has sparked severe riots in certain Arab sections of Jerusalem in and near the Shuafat neighborhood and in Beit Hanina.

Palestinians clash with Israeli border police in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat after the body of a Palestinian teen from East Jerusalem is found in the Jerusalem Forest, Wednesday, July 2, 2014. (photo credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90




Rioters did damage to the light rail station in the Shuafat neighborhood and threw rocks and homemade bombs at the police. Additional police forces had to be called out.

I pause here to point out the difference between the way we Jews responded to the death of the three boys and the way Arabs are responding here.  Unfortunately, this difference will not be noted by mainstream media sources.


Jerusalem Councilman Aryeh King charges that the murder of the boy was planned in order to incite unrest.

I cannot speak to this, but what seems certain is that the fact of the murder was used to inflame anger and promote rioting.  Please note that the rioting is making it difficult for the IDF to continue with its actions against Hamas in Judea and Samaria – something else that might well have been taken into consideration when the unrest was fomented.


It goes without saying that the sooner the police can reach a determination as to who was responsible the better. But this becomes a bit like trying to put feathers back into a ruptured pillow.

I’m betting that any conclusion other than that a Jew did it will not be accepted on the street within the Palestinian Arab community, and that the mainstream international media that is covering this story now will make much less hoopla when it is announced that the boy was murdered by one of his own.

My prayer is that our government has the determination and the courage, once this quiets down, to continue to pursue with full vigor the actions against Hamas that must be pursued.

We cannot – must not- be intimidated either by Arab violence or by libels directed at us by officials in the international community.


I end with a lovely story that demonstrates the difference between how we Jews are truly responding to the deaths of the boys, and how the Arabs in the street are dealing with the news of the death of an Arab boy:

“Combat soldiers from the Kfir Brigade's Lavi Battalion, which specializes in counter-terror operations in Judea and Samaria, have taken upon themselves to fulfill the Jewish commandment to wrap tefillin daily for the merit of the three abducted and murdered teens' souls.

“The tefillin were donated by the Chabad house in France headed by Rabbi Shmuel Azimov...the son of Rabbi Chaim Hillel came to Israel specifically to give the tefillin to the soldiers.

“Chabad stated that in the coming weeks it will distribute dozens of pairs of additional tefillin to IDF combat soldiers.

"’We see in this a supreme mission for the sake of the IDF soldiers who work day and night for the people of Israel and the land of Israel, and for the elevation of the souls of the murdered, may G-d avenge them,’ added Chabad.

"’Even if you cut off these three flowers you never will succeed, because there's a continuation. There's Gilad, Naftali and Eyal in all the people of Israel and the whole world,’ said Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau at the funeral. Addressing G-d, he added ‘No one can defeat this people, even in hard moments they stand before You in prayer. ...They don't give up on an eternal tradition.’" (Emphasis added)

A Six-Day War Inspiration: Forty Years Later, And Still Binding

Credit: Lubavitch [Chabad]

Traditional Jews believe that to take upon themselves an additional mitzvah (commandment) elevates the soul of a departed one.

Each and every day we should remind ourselves of who we are and bless the Almighty for that difference.


And, my friends, I look to each of you to share the truth about what is happening with regard to this ugly situation.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Thursday, July 3, 2014 at 12:35PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 2, 2014: The Tears of a Nation

Prime Minister Netanyahu called it “A Day of National Mourning,” and that is precisely what it was, as Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach were laid to rest.
The families first had individual services in their respective communities.  I was going to say “private,” but in fact they were televised, and we were able to see what was going on, sometimes via split screens.
Then all gathered for interment at a cemetery in Modi’in, at which both religious and political figures spoke.
At least fifty thousand people attended these services – some say many more.  They came by bus and by car from all over Israel, and they didn’t stop coming.  Many thousands more watched the proceedings on television.
Credit: Times of Israel
While it is my great desire to convey to my readers what went on, I know that at some level it is not possible to impart the sense of it all: The feeling of oneness, the mourning for these boys as our boys, the shared pain and horror.  My daughter-in-law said it perfectly: “I came to stand with Am Yisrael (the people of Israel).”  And my daughter thought  what was incredibly moving was the soft heart-felt singing – of psalms, words of prayer - done by thousands and thousands of people, their voices joined, while waiting for the proceedings to begin.
The messages of those who spoke were ones of comfort and praise.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, his face etched with sorrow (emphasis added):
“The whole nation prayed for the return of the boys, and the whole nation saw the nobility of spirit, and inner strength of you, the parents.

"The nation understood immediately the depth of the roots and the strength of spirit you possess.

"We learned a lesson that will not be forgotten, of faith and firmness, of unity and sensitivity, of Judaism and humanity."

"A whole nation was banded together and was reminded of who are we and why are we here.

"You [ the mothers Racheli, Bat-Galim and Iris] gave the whole world a lesson about the cry of a mother.

“...A deep moral abyss separates us and our enemies.  They sanctify death, we sanctify life. They sanctify cruelty, and we sanctify mercy.  That’s the secret to our strength, and also the basis for our unity.
"Life has it's own strength, like a river that drags us forward, and gives us hope.  The nation that has cried with you and embraced you will continue to accompany you and will be a source of comfort." 

Credit: JPost
President Shimon Peres (emphasis added):
“You, the mothers and fathers, raised children that Israel can be proud of.  You inspired in them a love of their people.  A love of Torah and a love of the land.  You instilled in them devotion and a love of mankind.
“Naftali, Gilad, Eyal: Many of us saw only small snapshots of your personalities, of who you were.  From those snapshots a beautiful picture developed of confident young boys, sure of their way, in service of their people.
“Youngsters with radiant faces, who stood tall. With a thirst for knowledge and a knowledge of prayers. Sure of their purpose and fulfilling the commandments.  You showed the face of our people with a bright and painful light, our unity and morality.

"Gilad, Naftali, Eyal. Wonderful boys, sons of the whole nation. Rest in peace. We will bow our heads but our spirit will not break."

Eulogy: Israeli President Shimon Peres, right, eulogizes the slain teenagers during their joint funeral on Tuesday

Credit: AP
The words of Rabbi Dov Zinger, head of the Mekor Haim yeshiva, were especially poignant, because he knew two of the boys personally, as students: “Gilad and Naftali sat together in school in the third column, second row.”  Their seats will not be filled by others, he said.
We have the privilege, he said, to be the generation in the land.  But we are being tested now.  He called for increased prayer, in which the “brokenness will transform into repentance,” and he appealed to all those assembled to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Rabbi Dov Zinger, head of the Mekor Haim yeshiva, delivering a eulogy next to the flag-draped bodies of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach at their funeral Tuesday. (Screen capture: Channel 2) 

Credit: Times of Israel
This, then, is the glory of Israel: that in the midst of pain and suffering, wrought in the face of hatred, the talk is of love - there was a great deal of talk about love - and traditional values.  Of devotion to Torah and prayer and Am Yisrael united, of concern for mankind and hunger for learning.  Of our support for one another and the need to strive to be even better. 
This is what we call Kiddush Hashem: Honoring the name of the Almighty through proper action as a Jewish people that can be seen by the world.
We here in Israel can hold our heads high, my friends. Without being complacent.  As Rabbi Zinger said, we are being tested.  We must work to hold on to the unity, to hold fast to the values that are transcendent, and to remember always why we are here.
I would like to think that the world would notice who were are, and approach us with a kinder spirit.  But I know to expect this would be only great foolishness.
What I would hope is that young Jewish people outside of Israel actually might be touched by our behavior as a nation.  I’d heard so much about how young American Jews are alienated from Israel because of the negative hype they pick up.  I’ve heard some painful, painful stories.
And I want to say: Look, my young friends. See who we are and be proud.
In some great measure, what inspired the words of those who spoke was the exemplary conduct of the parents of the three students. Their faith, their devotion to traditional values, their ability to cling to life, their courage.  All models for the rest of us.
Avi and Rachel Fraenkel embrace during the funeral of their son, Naftali, a 16-year-old with dual Israeli-American citizenship, in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Nof Ayalon, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. The Israeli military found the bodies of three missing teenagers just over two weeks after they were abducted in the West Bank ó a grim discovery that ended a frantic search that led to Israel's largest ground operation in the Palestinian territory in nearly a decade and drew Israeli threats of retaliation. (AP Photo/Tomer Appelbaum) ISRAEL OUT

Credit: AP
Rachel Frenkel, pictured here, told her deceased son, Naftali, “We will have to learn to sing again without you. But you will always be in our hearts.”
The interment was a private affair for close family and friends.  Not televised – and the 50,000 plus people were sent on. The boys were buried next to each other, bound together for eternity.

Credit: YNet
Mourners: Family and friends of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel , three Israeli teenagers who were abducted over two weeks ago, gather over Yifrah's grave

Credit: AP
I will deal only briefly here with what comes next.  Focusing on this will require many emails over time.
A reader (thanks Jim C.) pointed out to me that while I used the term revenge in my last posting, “justice” would be better. And he is absolutely right.  I had picked up on the term revenge because of the Bailik quote.  But what we must do now is truly a matter of justice.
What is more, when one confronts consummate evil, there is actually a moral responsibility to eradicate it.  To fail do so is wrong. 
The problem, of course, is that the world is composed large of either bleeding-heart liberals who refuse to see consummate evil when it is staring them in the face (it’s all about “their suffering” and “understanding them”).  And, amoral people who don’t wish to deal with issues of evil because all that matters is what impinges upon the situation politically for their purposes.
The failure/refusal of the world to see that consummate evil – and I’ll return to this – makes our position very difficult.  It requires strength to stand strong.  And that strength is required of us now.  The people of Israel, and our friends elsewhere understand this.
I will provide here just one very painful piece of evidence of the consummate evil that we are facing:
Gilad Shaar used his cell phone very briefly to call police and let them know that he and the others had been kidnapped. Then the phone was silenced. But a leaked version of the call has been made available by the press.  It includes a statement by one of the abductors to a third person, which can be heard in Arabic in the background, announcing “We’ve brought three.” And then the sound of gunshots, meaning that these evil abductors did not act alone, and that one or more (likely all) of the boys were summarily shot.
What particularly enrages me is a statement that came from the US. 
“While emphasizing Israel’s right to defend its citizens, the White House’s Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communication Ben Rhodes warns that Israel should ‘be precise’ and avoid an overly ‘heavy-handed’ response that could further destabilize the situation between Israel and the Palestinians.”

I’ve used terms in the past such as unmitigated gall, but none of them seem sufficient here. This is nauseating and morally reprehensible. 

At no point that I have observed has Obama ever referred to Hamas as being in any way responsible for the murders, although he conceded they might be ‘involved.”  After all, they are part of the unity government right now, which the US has said it would support.


What Netanyahu has said is that we will first find the perpetrators of this horror.  Dead or alive, they are saying.  And then we will deal with Hamas inside of Judea and Samaria. Lastly, we will deal with Hamas in Gaza as necessary.  Cannot see that it won’t be necessary, consider that they’re still launching rockets, but one thing at a time.
We will be watching.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 03:54PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint


Blessed is the righteous judge.

This is the first order of business.  We accept the horror of the Hamas murder of three innocent Israeli students: Naftali Frenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19.

These boys did not die in vain.  We have witnessed for many days now an incredible mood in the nation: a mood of unity, after so much painful dissension. A mood of prayer, even among those who do not usually pray.  A mood of kindnesses and human sensitivity.

See here scenes of people gathered after learning the tragic news:

Joel K., a reader, wrote, “People from Jerusalem are going to Kikar Zion; in Tel Aviv they are congregating at Kikar Rabin. Everywhere in one central place and lighting memorial candles. Haven't seen this kind of public mourning since Rabin was assassinated.”

We must recognize this – all of the good that has happened and is happening. We cannot lose it and must not throw it away.  In the memory of those who died, we must sustain this and enhance it.  Doing acts of tzedaka (“charity”), increasing Jewish study, being mindful of the need for sensitivity to others, unifying ourselves as a nation.  In this way will we bring blessing to their memory. And, we are told, in this way do we elevate their souls.

I have been astounded throughout at the bravery and graciousness of the boys’ families.  After they were informed of their sons’ deaths, they thanked security for all they had done, and thanked the people of Israel for their support.  They stand as a model of Jewish rectitude for all the world to see.  We can hold our heads high.


This said, vengeance is also necessary.  I absolutely do not preclude this.  Not at all.   

In his statement after learning of the death of the boys, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu quoted our national poet, Haim Nahman Bialik, who wrote a poem after a 1903 pogrom, that included the words:
Such vengeance for blood of babe and maiden hath yet to be wrought by Satan…”

Nor,” added Netanyahu, “that of young, pure lads on their way home to meet their parents, who will not see them again. Hamas is responsible — and Hamas will pay. “

We become weak fools in the eyes of Hamas if we do not now make them pay. We become sitting ducks for what they will plan next. Especially is this so after what the prime minister has already said.  If he were to fall into his habitual pattern of issuing strong words and not following through, it would be terrible.

The exact price to be extracted can be determined in discussion.  We might start, for example with targeted executions of Hamas leadership in Gaza.  Hamas in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria should be totally banished.  Perhaps the infrastructure of Hamas in Gaza must be severely compromised.

But the fact of the need for meaningful and tough vengeance, whatever its precise nature, should not be a topic of discussion at all.   

Unfortunately, it is.  We are hearing reports that the Security Cabinet met late last night and came to no determination about vengeance, with the holdouts being Livni, Lapid, and, very sadly, Ya’alon, our minister of defense. Naftali Bennett, we are being told, is furious and fighting on this.  The hero of the moment, surely.

“The response currently being discussed is weak to the point of disgracefulness,” he is reported to have said.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman was out of the country when the boys were found, but he is flying back. Perhaps he will have constructive words in the next Cabinet session.

Some reports say that the decision was deliberately delayed until after the funerals, which will be in Modi’in at 5: 30 today.  The boys will be buried side by side, after earlier services privately for each boy.

I do not want to take a great deal of time writing details of what is happening here, because I want this out with an appeal to you: PLEASE! write immediately to our prime minister and tell him that he must, absolutely must take strong action against Hamas.


Actually, in spite of the prime minister’s words, there is a way to see strong action against Hamas not just as “vengeance,” but also as a matter of our coming to our senses and beginning to act for our own protection.  This is the responsibility of a government. For Heaven’s sake, they have stockpiled 70,000 missiles and rockets, which are aimed at us, and we let it go.  Not a responsible position, for we will have to deal with it sooner or later, and it only gets worse. Their goal is to destroy us. This might be seen as a wake-up call. 


Write to the prime minister at: and also (underscore after pm).  Use both addresses.

This must be done very quickly. He must be barraged before the next Security Cabinet meeting tonight.

This is especially important from Israeli citizens – who should identify themselves as such when writing.  If you are not in Israel, and have family and friends who are, please forward this immediately.  If you are in Israel, of course share as broadly as you can.


What the Shin Bet believes is that the kidnapping was originally done with the intention of demanding a trade for thousands of prisoners. But the abductors panicked and shot them. The boys, they believe, were dead within minutes after being picked up.  Their bodies – now in bad shape – were brought to a field outside of Hevron, and partially buried.

As we contemplate this horror, we can only hope with all our hearts that the boys were dispatched quickly and did not suffer.

The abductors are still at large and being sought. But the point here is that they acted on orders from above.

Hamas is nervous about what we may do next, as is the PA.  Abbas is asking the world to restrain us.


“Restraint” is, actually, the key word internationally.  How sad, say leaders, but Israel, watch what you do in response.  This was certainly the message from the White House.

And so, if you are in the US, give strong voice to our right to defend ourselves.  Expose the evil that we face day in and day out.

Criticize the president for not taking a significant role in this in spite of the fact that Naftali Frenkel is a US citizen – something he never alludes to at all (something he would prefer not be known).


One last word here:  As a form of vengeance, large scale building in Judea and Samaria and all of Jerusalem is being discussed. This irks me greatly.  Not because the building should not be done.  Of course it should!!  But it is not vengeance, for Heaven’s sake. 

It is our RIGHT, legally and morally and historically.  To represent it as only a punishment sends the wrong message to the world and further weakens us.





© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 07:35AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint