Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Arlene from Israel
16 March '11
That is what is required of us, here in Israel. For our enemies are all about. I'm reminded a bit of the old saying, "There is no rest for the weary." But never mind, weary or not, we will prevail. The latest incident demonstrating our ability to prevail follows below.
But I first want to let my readers know that unless there is something of major significance that transpires, I will be off-line until next Tuesday at least.
One reason is Purim. A story, incidentally, that tells of another instance in which our people -- threatened with extinction -- bested our enemy, aided by the hidden hand of the Almighty. Purim is a time when we are bidden to hear that story read, in the Megillat Ester, bring gifts of food to friends and charity to the poor. And celebrate.
The Fast of Ester (Tannit Ester) is tomorrow. Purim is Sunday, but is celebrated in Jerusalem, which was a walled city, on Sushan Purim, Monday.
To all those who will be observing Purim, I wish a Chag Purim Sameach!
The other reason is simply a writing assignment I have assumed that will occupy my time at the computer. For that reason, friends, I ask please! that you curtail comments and sharing of information for the next several days.
Now as to the latest incident we have confronted that required vigilance:
Yesterday, the Israeli navy intercepted the cargo ship Victoria some 320 km off of Israel's coast in the Mediterranean.
The captain of the ship -- which is German-owned but flies under a Liberian flag, and operates with a French crew -- granted permission for Israeli commandos from the elite Shayetet unit to board and offered no resistance when they did. What was discovered was a cache of sophisticated weaponry that had been loaded in the Syrian port of Latakia. The certificates regarding the containers indicated they were carrying cotton and lentils. But the commandos had to open only one container to discover weapons.
As you may remember, a couple of weeks ago, two Iranian ships entered the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal, docked in Syria for a while, and left. The port where they docked was Latakia, and it is strongly suspected that the weaponry had been unloaded from Iran at that point. That at least some of the weapons were of Iranian origin is certain: there were manuals in Farsi.
When the Victoria left Latakia, it sailed to the port of Mersin in Turkey, where it sat for some days -- it is thought, to allay suspicions. When it was intercepted, it was on its way to Egypt. At least some of the containers, which were heavily locked, were bound for the port of Alexandria there.
The assumption of course, is that the weaponry would have moved via tunnels into Gaza. The cache of weapons was estimated to weigh about 50 tons and included two Chinese-made C-704 anti-ship missiles -- which the Iranians do possess. The missiles -- which had the Iranian word for them, Nasr, written on them -- would have seriously interfered with Israel's ability to navigate in the Mediterranean and would have threatened strategic installations near the coast. This missile uses advanced radar, has a range of 35 km., and can carry a warhead of 130 kg. of explosives.
I shudder, and thank Heaven for the vigilance. There's a history of weapons ships intercepted by Israel, including the Karine-A, and two years ago the Francop.
This entirely successful operation began several days ago with intelligence received. The Navy immediately began tracking the ship, and planning that operation.
It is being made clear that there is no suspicion that either the Turkish or the Egyptians were aware of the contents of the ship; and the crew was ignorant of what was in those containers.
The ship is being brought to the port in Ashdod. And later today, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon will be accompanying foreign diplomats to the port and showing them some of the weapons.
You can see videos of the Israeli Navy boarding the ship here:
There is no question but that attempts by Iran to arm Hamas and Hezbollah will continue.
And it is worth noting that this operation attempting to bring the weapons via sea to Egypt is a deviation from the route that has been used more frequently until now: unloading by boats was often done in Sudan and then a convoy would make its way into Egypt on land. That way is apparently getting more difficult both because of Israeli and Egyptian efforts.
Israeli vigilance in this matter requires that many ships be boarded each year. And here is a fact that should be kept in mind: There was no way to know, with regard to the infamous flotilla incident, that there were no major weapons on board the Mavi Mamara.
This constant and on-going possibility, as Iran seeks to arm Hamas, is the reason for the naval blockade of the Gaza coast. For all the negative press leveled at us by enemies, there is solid security justification for our actions. Without that blockade, ships would unload weaponry directly into Gaza.
I've had neither the time nor the space to devote to discussing J Street that I might have liked. But I want to recommend here an excellent article that solidly puts J Street into perspective, written by Lori Lowenthal Marcus, president of Z Street (www.zstreet.org).
"'Maybe, if this collective Jewish presence' -- that is, the Jewish State in the Middle East -- 'can only survive by the sword, then Israel really ain't a good idea.' So said Daniel Levy, one of J Street's founders, at the 2011 J Street Conference."
And finally, a return -- with several observations -- to the massacre at Itamar. (There is currently a gag order on the investigation.)
I wrote last about how the PA news services were reporting that a disgruntled Asian worker whom the Fogels had refused to pay had killed the family, and not a Palestinian Arab at all. We were, you see, making premature and unfair accusations.
Well, Israel National News decided to investigate, and discovered that Itamar has no foreign workers as a matter of principle -- all work is done by Jews.
Sorry guys, you'll have to come up with a better one to deflect your shame.
In the interests of guarding truth, share this information wherever you may see promotion of the idea that it was an Asian worker.
Then a very pertinent observation by columnist Jeff Jacoby -- an observation that applies more broadly than just to Itamar and substantially separates the liberal from the conservative mindset:
"There are those who believe passionately that all human beings are inherently good and rational creatures, essentially the same once you get beyond surface disagreements. Such people cannot accept the reality of a culture that extols death over life, that inculcates a vitriolic hatred of Jews, that induces children to idolize terrorists. Since they would never murder a family in its sleep without being driven to it by some overpowering horror, they imagine that nobody would. This is the mindset that sees a massacre of Jews and concludes that Jews must in some way have provoked it. It is the mindset behind the narrative that continually blames Israel for the enmity of its neighbors, and makes it Israel's responsibility to end their violence.
"But the truth is simpler, and bleaker. Human goodness is not hard-wired. It takes sustained effort and healthy values to produce good people; in the absence of those values, cruelty and intolerance are far more likely to flourish."
In closing, items that point with pride to exactly who we are as a people.
This is making the rounds broadly:
Every day of shiva (the first week of mourning), Rami Levi -- who owns one of the larger super market chains in Israel -- comes by the shiva house in Itamar and fills the cupboards and refrigerator himself with food for the family and guests.
When on of the relatives expressed appreciation to him. he said “You will get used to my face. I have committed myself that every week I will deliver food and stock your home until the youngest orphan turns 18 years old.”
I have observed before, with a sort of awe, the incredible strength of the family members left behind after a terrorist attack -- a strength that permits no call for revenge and seeks only to move on a path of goodness.
These magnificent human beings, you must understand, are the very sort of people who are most frequently vilified by a liberal press as "religious settlers," by which is meant "radical crazies" who do not deserve respect and insist on living where they don't belong.
But I submit that these people are among the very finest of our nation.
On Monday, Rabbi Yehuda Ben-Yishai, the mourning father of Ruth Fogel, gave an interview, and parts of it were carried by Israel National News.
He is seen in this photo by Flash 90 on the left, leaning again his son.
"Asked by the interviewer, 'Where do you have the strength and restraint that you can talk now and strengthen us, without anger and without calling for vengeance – that is not in your voice? Where is the strength from?'
"Rabbi Ben-Yishai answered, 'I have worked in education many years, and as an educator, I try to strengthen and teach people faith. I understand that I cannot be satisfied with words and that I also must implement the same principles on which I have educated others. This is a test of my faith...'
Then, in words that caused me to weep at my computer, Rabbi Ben-Yishai continued:
"He said, 'We [the grandparents] will take upon ourselves the difficult task and pave for them the path so that life will be victorious.'
"'Their mother and father will pray for them from the Heavens, their grandfathers and grandmothers will give them a lot of love, and the People of Israel will hug them and encourage them to grow and continue in the path of their parents.'
"Rabbi Ben-Yishai said that the only thing he regrets is that he did not tell his daughter Ruth and his grandchildren enough times, 'I love you. I love you.' He added, 'If I could go back in time, I would say so every five minutes, but that would not be enough.'"
With people such as this in our nation, we will prevail, we will prevail.
© 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.
see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info
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