While I have a number of good news items to report, unfortunately I must begin with a low. Sadly, first matters first.
On Sunday, with the holy day of Yom Kippur drawing near, a terrorist took two lives in Jerusalem.
Credit: police spokesman
One victim was Jerusalem resident Levana Malihi, 60, a grandmother of six. Retired from the Knesset in 2010, after 30 years of devoted work there, she was very warmly eulogized by Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein.
“The shock, and the anger, are intense.
“In these days of judgment and mercy, in the capital of Israel, a murderer’s bullet found you. That evil person did this with the hatred spurred on by incitement blinding his eyes. You were slaughtered today just for being Jewish, for being Israeli. This murder, this atrocity, is part of our painful historic struggle for our basic right to exist.
“Terrorism cannot beat us. It seeks to disrupt the pulse of life. But the Jewish heart, the pulse of Israel and Jerusalem, will continue to beat here, and all over this country! Because the Zionist ideal is greater than any lowly terrorist. And the history of the State of Israel will outlast any crisis.” (Emphasis added)
The other was First Sergeant Yosef Kirma, 29, an officer with an elite police reconnaissance unit. Married only five months, he lived in Mevasseret Zion.
“He fearlessly pursued the terrorist in order to neutralize him and prevent further harm to innocent bystanders,” the police statement said. Less than a year ago, Kirma had received a commendation for pursuing a terrorist.
At the funeral his commander declared that “the attack will be seared in the hearts of the policemen of the unit…Yossi was made of the stuff of the heroes of Israel. Now we salute you for the final time.”
His wife, his bride, cried, “My heart is breaking into pieces. We had so many plans.”
The terrorist has been identified as Musbah Abu Sbeih, 39, of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. He had association with Hamas, which has claimed credit for the attack. Abu Sbeih was well known to the police, had spent time in prison, and was due to report for further prison time. See Caroline Glick for a more complete – and painful – look at how it happened that he was wandering free instead of being behind bars; the part about Abu Sbeih is more than half-way down in a broader piece on our responsibilities.
On the day of the attack, the terrorist drove his car to the light rail station in Ammunition Hill and started shooting from inside the car. He then drove a bit further and shot Levona Malihi, who was in her car, critically wounding her.
After this, he attempted to escape, driving his car into the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. There he stopped and got out of the car. In the ensuing shoot-out with the Special Patrol unit that had been pursuing him on motorcycle, he killed Yossi Kirma and wounded a second officer. A Border Police office shot him dead.
In all, six people were wounded, three lightly and three moderately.
It comes as no surprise that from the Palestinian Arab side there was gladness at these terrorist murders. That is fairly routine.
Fatah, the party of Mahmoud Abbas, in two posts on its Facebook page, celebrated the terrorist as a “martyr,” a shahid. Additionally, Voice of Palestine Radio reported that the Jerusalem branch of Fatah had announced a day of mourning and calls for a general strike “due to the death of the Shahid Abu Sbeih.”
It should be pointed out that these are the people with whom the world thinks we are supposed to be negotiating.
In addition, individual Arabs celebrated. See an accounting of one such celebration at Hebrew University here:
I am pleased to report, however, that Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) responded to this situation with alacrity:
In accordance with his orders, “police acted throughout Jerusalem and arrested Arabs who handed out candies, prevented the establishment of a mourning tent near the home of the terrorist in Silwan, arrested Arabs who demanded that stores be closed in solidarity with the terrorist and arrested Arabs who filmed the attack while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar.”
“Erdan has instructed the police to prosecute and take action against any act or demonstration of support for the shooting attack.”
This is a new stringency, and exactly as it should be.
It was revealed right before Yom Kippur that the Shin Bet had arrested a Hamas operative who had planned multiple attacks. Muhammad Fuaz Ibrahim Julani, a resident of Shuafat in Jerusalem, revealed that he had discussed with his handlers a variety of different possibilities, including some intended to cause mass casualties at places such as the Central Bus Station; many were ruled out because of high security. In the end it was decided that he would do a bus bombing in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of Jerusalem, and was in process of building the bomb when he was arrested.
“The Shin Bet said that the plot bears witness to Hamas’s unceasing efforts to initiate terrorist attacks in Israel and the West Bank by enlisting operatives who are residents of Israel like Julani.” Actually, one of the sites that had been considered was a store in Jerusalem where he used to work.
During Yom Kippur, which began Tuesday at sundown, there was Arab rioting in the Silwan area of Jerusalem, as well as two other Arab areas. One young man, only about an hour after the start of the holiday, threw a petrol bomb at close range at the border police who were attempting to control the mob. Directly endangered, they shot him, and he subsequently died.
Rioting over his death is still going on as I write. This is all so sadly familiar.
On a much brighter note…
Former prime minister of Portugal Antonio Guterres has been named Secretary-General designate of the UN, to replace Ban Ki Moon in January 2017, for a five-year term.
He has been identified as a friend of Israel. A left-wing friend, most certainly, as he is a Socialist, but a friend. As Israeli Ambassador to Israel Danny Danon put it:
“…the State of Israel hopes, and expects, that the UN under his leadership will act in the spirit of its founding principles as a fair body able to differentiate between good and evil and will end its obsession with Israel.
“I hope that this change in leadership will bring an end to the organization’s hostility towards the Jewish state.”
But here we are on a roller coaster, slipping down to one more UN low: The Executive Board of the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has now voted on a resolution that recognizes the Temple Mount and the Kotel as exclusively a Muslim site.
Twenty-six countries abstained, 24 countries supported the initiative and six voted against it. The six against were: US, UK, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Estonia, and Germany. This is shameful. Where is the rest of Europe? France was actually going to vote for it, until convinced not to (see next article).
The resolution is totally outrageous, and ludicrous. But another headache.
The World Heritage Committee is scheduled to consider a similar resolution during a meeting in Paris later this month.
In advance of the UNESCO vote, “Israel’s Mission to UNESCO in Paris, has given board members and international diplomats a brochure detailing the deep historical connections Judaism has to those sites, which are also holy to Christians and Muslims.
“’These facts and evidence will leave no doubt, and without undermining other connection of other religions to the holy places in Jerusalem, of the deepest and longest Jewish presence in Jerusalem since ancient times,’ Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen wrote.
“’Every attempt to distort the history and harm the above-mentioned relations of the Jewish people and Jerusalem is an attempt to rewrite history in a dangerous, unfair and one-sided manner,’ he said.”
I consider it very good news that in the face of increased Obama pressure (about which more below) we are exhibiting resilience. In fact, I have observed, not for the first time, that when foreign entities, in this case the US, push on us unreasonably and with vehemence, it stiffens the backs of our leaders.
Please see this video, put out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It makes our case for having been on the land for 3,000 years during the course of multiple occupations. Right on!
Word is just out that Dore Gold is resigning from his position as director-general of the Foreign Ministry. Netanyahu has appointed Yuval Rotem, who heads the Public Diplomacy Directorate and was previous Israeli ambassador to Australia, to take his place.
News this week, additionally, indicated that the settlement arm of the WZO (World Zionist Organization) is likely to be reactivated (it is not formally finalized yet, as I understand the situation). This is in response to a proposal by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi), which would give the WZO a new legal foundation.
“According to the proposal, the government will regulate the settlement division such as to allow it to function in full capacity all over Israel, including in Judea and Samaria.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), at a conference in memory of Hanan Porat, said just a week ago that (emphasis added):
“On the matter of the Land of Israel, we have to move from holding action to a decision. We have to mark the dream, and the dream is that Judea and Samaria will be part of the sovereign State of Israel. We have to act today, and we must give our lives. We can’t keep marking the Land of Israel as a tactical target and a Palestinian state as the strategic target.”
“Like Hanan said, we have no right to divide the land. Not with words, not with actions, not by silent acquiescence, not with quiet excuses. Not by politicians and not by jurists…
“The path of concessions, the path of dividing [the land], has failed.”
I salute Bennett’s forthright attitude. He subsequently explained that he meant we should devote our lives to this goal, not die.
It is at this point, after considering what Bennett said, that I would like to clarify my own position: I am opposed to increasing building after a terrorist attack – something that is frequently suggested. This implies that we are building as retribution, not because of our rights. It sends the wrong message, however sincere the intent. To say “enough with these two-state proposals, they have failed and it’s high time we spoke out forthrightly about our rights to the land,” is something else.
I also want to make mention here of one particular group of pro-Israel activists in the US who are taking the time, and expending the effort, to make a difference. Located in the Philadelphia region, these dedicated individuals have established a website – www.factsonisrael.com – to help in fighting the good fight. Visit it, use it as you can.
And lastly this, which is perhaps the best news of all with regard to our long term future. Elsewhere in the world, young people tend to be more liberal/left wing than their seniors. But this turns out to not be the case in Israel, where “there is a clear trend that the younger generation is more religious and more right wing than previous generations.”
“A Smith poll published by the Jerusalem Post on July 17, 2016, found among the 18-29 demographic only 35% supported the principle of ‘two states for two nations’ as a solution to the Arab Israeli conflict compared to 53% against. The youngest voters were the least supportive of the two-state solution.”
A “flotilla” vessel called the Zaytouna-Olivia, which had left its starting point in Barcelona many days before, by last week was approaching its destination in Gaza; its declared goal was to break the perfectly legal Israeli maritime blockade of Gaza or at least to call international attention to an attempt to do so. This time there was no pretense of carrying “humanitarian aid.” The intent was stated up-front. All 13 people on board – passengers and crew – were women. The Zaytouna’s captain was retired US army colonel Ann Wright, who served with the State Department diplomatic corps at one time.
Israel handled it very well, bursting the bubble of the protestors. When the sailing boat ignored calls to redirect and go to Ashkelon, the Israeli navy approached the boat in international waters and boarded it; the boat was then towed to Ashkelon. Amongst the combat soldiers who boarded were women. Great move.
Two journalists on board were immediately deported. The others were held for questioning and then given deportation orders and told they would not be welcome in Israel, should they attempt to return.
captain is retired US Army Colonel Ann Wright, who served in the State Dept. diplomatic corps
The action, referred to by Israel as “uneventful,” was a huge disappointment to those on the boat. Their hope was to represent Israeli forces as acting both illegally and violently. They put out an advance notice saying they were expecting the same sort of violence that had occurred on the Mavi Marmara.
Those involved with the effort are still attempting to gain some PR that works to their advantage. Lawyers speaking for them claimed that Israeli’s takeover of the boat was “piracy.” Subsequently, they said the passengers brought to Ashkelon were “kidnapped,” and then that the deportation was illegal.
Let us return here to the increasing pressure by Obama:
In my last posting, I mentioned the condemnation of Israel by the White House and the State Department because of an Israeli announcement about some apartments to be constructed in Shilo. Language was extraordinarily tough and it is widely thought that we’re in for some difficult times between election day in November and when Obama turns over the keys to the White House in January. Focus is on the Security Council of the UN, which might consider one of a number of different resolutions regarding such matters as “settlements,” and borders for a final deal with the Palestinian Arabs – and which resolution Obama, breaking with the traditional US position, might decline to veto.
Caroline Glick believes Obama’s hostility and distorted vision were on view for all to see in Obama’s eulogy for Peres, even before the announcement about the building. See:
With regard to the announcement and the subsequent American anger I have several comments.
While not backing down, Netanyahu did make attempts to mitigate the wildly disproportionate US anger. First, it was said that we were building a new settlement (something Obama, charging that we were not acting the way friends should, says we promised not to do). And so the US was offered an explanation regarding the building being a new neighborhood in an existing “settlement”:
“This housing will be built on state land in the existing settlement of Shilo and will not change its municipal boundary or geographic footprint,” read a Foreign Ministry statement that had been cleared with Netanyahu.
And then there is a another factor, which is the situation for the community of Amona, which is on a hill overlooking Ofra within the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council of Samaria. While no Arab owners of the land with proper legal documentation have been identified – and those who established the community did so in good faith – because the charge arose that Amona was built in 1995 on “Arab land,” the High Court has ordered its demolition by the end of the year. The residents of Amona reject the validity of this charge; the left-wing, pro-Arab organization Yesh Din was involved in identifying Arabs from a nearby village who said it was their land.
Netanyahu has explained to Kerry that the projected housing in Shilo would serve as alternate homes for the evacuated families.
But this is a complex and problematic situation that has been going on for some years. We have not seen the end of it yet; the government has been wrestling with solutions. The residents of Amona are angry, as their community was established in the first place with funds from the Housing and Construction Ministry. “The government brought us here, and if they made a mistake we should not have to pay for it by losing our homes,” Amona spokesman Avichay Buaron said recently. Residents maintain that they are not going anywhere, and demand that the government legalize their community.
Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, both of Habayit Hayehudi, have been at the forefront of the fight for Amona, and had threatened a coalition crisis if there was no response from the prime minister. Today, as I write, reports are that Netanyahu has met with them, as well as with Avigdor Leiberman, Minister of Defense; Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit; and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) chief Yoav Mordechai, and has now agreed to appeal to the High Court for a six-month delay in the order for demolition. This would provide time for arriving at solutions (invoking the absentee owner law being one possibility). I will keep my readers informed on this.
But leaving aside all these matters, the fact is that the fuss the US government has made about our construction plans is morally obscene.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has said it very well: “The Middle East is burning, and the people of Syria are being slaughtered daily. I think the United States should concern itself with saving civilians in Syria and not with issuing harsh statements about a few housing units.”
I have not done justice in my writing to what is happening to our north, because so many issues pull at me for attention in my postings. But here I want to cite Dr. Mordechai Kedar, who – in “The Angel of Death in Aleppo” – summarizes the situation with accuracy:
“The state of Syria is taking its last gasping breaths, but there are those in Russia and Syria who feel that since some of the anti-Assad rebels have chosen the eastern sectors of Aleppo as their headquarters, the city’s close to a quarter of a million men, women and children do not deserve to live. Putin and Assad believe that the lives of 250,000 citizens are less important than the elimination of a few hundred rebels, and much less important than the rule of Assad in Aleppo.” (Emphasis added)
There are commentators who believe that precisely because Obama knows he has failed so abysmally in Syria – as elsewhere in the Middle East – he feels increasingly driven to achieve a diplomatic “success” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the sake of his legacy. If so, we’ll simply have to tough it out.
And we must point a finger of condemnation as well at the bleeding-heart “flotilla” organizers who are interested only in calling attention to the “horrors” that the people of Gaza endure at the hands of “evil” Israelis, while ignoring the profound suffering of Syrian civilians.
Such is the perverse and amoral way of the world. May the Almighty give us the strength and wisdom to conduct ourselves as we should.
With this all said, we are going now into the week-long festival of Sukkot, which is known as our season of gladness. May it be a week of quiet, and of sunshine.
To all, I wish Chag Sukkot Sameach – a joyous holiday of Sukkot.
On Sukkot, as on other festivals and specified times of celebration, we sing Hallel, a series of psalms of praise to the Almighty. Here I offer just a taste – the most effective short video I managed to find, again with Shlomo Carlebach – that reflects the joy (and yes, even in the face of horrors, we are bidden to reflect that joy):
© 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.