Monday, December 19, 2011

Kushner - From Israel: Painful

Arlene Kushner
Arlene from Israel
18 December '11

I begin with something that I address with hesitation, because it's an internal Israeli affair and I prefer to keep such matters in house. But this one -- involving a group of young people who identify with the religious nationalist movement and who acted in a deeply reprehensible fashion last week -- has made significant news. I feel at this point I must address it.

Let me make it clear that I do not condone what they did in any way whatsoever. It was wrong morally and tactically. They did a disservice to themselves and their nation. Most especially was this the case with regard to the brief but violent action, at night, undertaken at the Ephraim Brigade's (IDF) base in Samaria, during which they vandalized equipment and clashed with members of the IDF, throwing a stone at the car of the deputy brigade commander and injuring him.

Prime Minister Netanyahu was absolutely correct when he said, in response to this action, that, “No one can break the law. No one can raise a hand against the IDF or the police. This is the foundation of democracy."

And so this -- Jew setting against Jew -- causes pain. It's one of those things that should not be, that we hope will not be. With the state of the world today, and the hostility with which we are surrounded, it is something we can ill afford.


However... if the actions of these young people are to be condemned, it is important to set their behavior into context. That context is significant, and it, too, is painful.


First, we need to know that the violent actions of these young people were motivated by government plans, as Caroline Glick has explained, to destroy "Ramat Gilad, a small enclave of homes in Samaria located on land owned by rancher Moshe Zar and named for his son Gilad who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 2001." Ramat Gilad, you see, has been identified as an "illegal outpost." The young people who rioted were out to protest or stop this destruction.

The whole situation, with regard to demolition of houses at "illegal -- or unauthorized -- outposts" has been shameful. For this is a political football and not just a matter, black and white, of "legal" vs. "illegal." Often those "outposts" have had support from a variety of government agencies, including the Ministry of Housing -- they have not operated in a vacuum. What they lack is the final sign-off from the Ministry of Defense.

And it is Defense Minister Ehud Barak who then orders those demolitions, to appease the left wing or to show the world how cooperative we are.

All of this applies in the instance of Ramat Gilad. What is more -- and this touches on other issues that have been in the news lately -- it was, as I understand it, Peace Now that went to court and challenged the ownership of the land the small community is built upon. This, in spite of the fact that no Arab has claimed ownership. (And that Peace Now had no standing in the case.)

I will not describe in detail all of the legal complexities involved. But there are ways to handle the situation of Ramat Gilad other than by destroying it. It is sufficient here to make the point that these young people are aggrieved and outraged by the political game-playing. And it seems to me past due for the government to develop greater sensitivity in the matter and to seek new strategies with regard to the communities over the Green Line.


What follows from this, then, is the evidence that stares these aggrieved young people in the face: violence works. Again, I am not condoning what they did. But it is important to make the point that the government has demonstrated a regrettable tendency to step back in the face of threatened violence. At least when it is Arabs who are doing the threatening. This fact was the thrust of what I just wrote about with regard to the Mughrabi Bridge. I suggest that the government is sending the wrong signals.


And there is another way, as well, that the government is, in my opinion, sending the wrong signals. The issue first became prominent after the expulsion from Gush Katif, which was done to a considerable degree by specially trained IDF forces. But the IDF is meant to protect the people of Israel, and should not be acting against any part of her population. The idea of Israeli soldiers participating in forcefully removing Israeli citizens from their homes struck many as simply wrong. (In many democracies this would not be permitted.) Various proposals were advanced to make this illegal, but never gained the necessary traction. Thus we still have situations today in which IDF soldiers are involved in forcefully removing residents of "outposts" from their homes, which are then demolished.

What a painful emotional dissonance this must set up for many religious nationalist youth. Especially is this the case as this same population volunteers for combat units in the IDF in disproportionate numbers.


Also painful is the infuriating inclination of persons on the left -- and this includes the media -- to now paint all "settlers" and all religious Zionists with one brush, acting as if the entire religious nationalist movement is of the same mind as those young people who opted for violence. Anything to delegitimize those who would fight to retain Judea and Samaria.

In point of fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The response from religious Zionist rabbis and political leaders was almost universally one of condemnation for the acts of violence. David Rubin, former mayor of Shilo, is absolutely on the mark when he refers to attempts to "defame an entire population of mostly idealistic, self-sacrificing young people."

This tendency to delegitimize those good people who live in Judea and Samaria -- "the brave men and women and the many thousands of Jewish children who have settled the biblical heartland of Israel," Rubin calls them -- is hardly new. If they can be depicted as "crazies" who work against peace, then it is easier to make the case for surrendering land to the Arabs.

I confess to being especially angered by this now. Because now when Oslo is dead, and the intentions of the PA with regard to seeking a "two-state solution" are clear, there is no rational case to be made for surrendering land to Arabs. If it depends upon making the term "settlers" a dirty word, then we are all in a great deal of trouble.

This is the time for gratitude that we have viable, vibrant communities in Judea and Samaria. And for embracing their residents as fully part of the Israeli people in every sense.


I was, as well, deeply disturbed by certain "over-the-top" reactions to these young people. Gratefully, the prime minister was not party to this. Use live bullets against them, someone obscenely suggested. No, live bullets are not going to be used. But what immediately occurred to me is that no one suggests using live bullets against rioting Arabs. But against our own? Painful. Frightening.

Label them as "terrorists," came another suggestion. But they are not terrorists, and Netanyahu would have no part of this.

Yet, what is happening to us? This situation, in its broadest sense, must be turned around.


Please see Rubin's entire article:

And Glick's:


The following is also painful, but in a very different way.

Last week, Obama, who is hot on the campaign trail now and focused on American Jews, addressed a biennual conference of Reform Judaism.

This is how American Thinker described part of his talk:

"In a display of scintillating chutzpah, after bidding everybody 'Shabbat Shalom,' Obama linked himself to the biblical Joseph -- the chief character in this week's Torah portion. When Joseph's father Jacob told him to join his brothers in their pasturelands, Obama pointed out, Joseph stepped forward and obediently said one word, 'Hineni' - 'Here I am.'

"And...Obama went on to note that 'Hineni' was also the response of Abraham to G-d in the binding of Isaac, and of Moses when summoned by G-d from the burning bush.

"At that point in his speech, you knew what was coming next: Obama assured his audience that he also was ready to declare 'Hineni' in responding to Israel's struggles..." (Thanks for this, Manis.)

Obama, painting himself as the great protector of Israel, and putting himself on a par with Moses, Abraham and Joseph, all in one fell swoop.

Doesn't this give you pains in your stomach?


News of our "peace partner":

Khaled Abu Toameh reports in today's JPost that "Fatah has declared war on all informal meetings between Israelis and Palestinians." This according to Abdel Kader, a senior Fatah official.

"We will try to thwart any Palestinian Israeli meeting, even if it's held in Tel Aviv or west Jerusalem. In Fatah we have officially decided to ban such gatherings."

According to Al-Quds Al-Arabi, the Palestinians want to prevent such meetings from taking place out of fear that the Israeli government would say that there is some dialogue going on between Israelis and Palestinians, and the stumbling block is the Palestinian leadership.

Last week Palestinian Arabs actually stormed the Ambassador hotel in eastern Jerusalem, and forced organizers and hotel management to cancel a conference to be held by the Israeli-Palestinian Confederation at the hotel. Something similar happened the next day in Bethlehem.


Meanwhile, Israel Hayom today reports on the continued failure of Fatah and Hamas to agree on major points.

PA (ostensible) President Mahmoud Abbas gave an interview to Euronews, in which he declared that the two factions were getting close to reaching agreement on several key issues. Among these issues was an understanding that a Palestinian state would be established on the '67 line, and that resistance would be peaceful, without weapons.

Israel Radio, however, reports that Hamas is saying that any agreement regarding the '67 line would only be an "interim" solution as Hamas will not relinquish any part of Palestine. Further, it will not relinquish the "armed struggle."


© 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.

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