Saturday, November 28, 2009

With Pride and Determination

An Open Letter to Bibi Netanyahu from a Former Likud Member

By: Paula R. Stern

One of the first things I did in the early years after making aliyah more than 16 years ago, was join the Likud party. It was the party of Menachem Begin; it was the party of strength. It was a party not afraid to make peace and not afraid to wage war. It did both with pride and determination. From Menachem Begin, the torch was handed to Ariel Sharon.

He stood gazing at the Mediterranean from a hill a few minutes from my home and explained that it would be insane for Israel to pull out of Samaria (Shomron). “You don’t surrender the hills,” Sharon said that day.

I voted for Sharon, as I would have voted for Menachem Begin if I had managed to come to Israel at a younger age. With pride and determination. I gave him my vote because I believed he would uphold the vision of the Likud party – strength, honor, and an unwavering commitment to the land and people of Israel.

Sharon lied. Beyond the corruption that he and subsequent Israeli leaders have shown, Sharon committed the worst sin imaginable in political life. He betrayed his followers. He stole my vote and used it to evacuate Gush Katif. He did it with malice and cruelty, to a people who had supported him, trusted him.

I vowed to quit the Likud but friends convinced me that the worst of the party had pulled themselves out into Kadima and that the Likud that remained would return to its roots. I wanted desperately to believe. One last time, I listened to the voices who spoke of party strength and vision, a commitment to the land of Israel and the future.

I believed and voted for Bibi Netanyahu as the only viable candidate to save us from worse and almost immediately after my vote, I realized that I had been wrong. The dream of the Likud is gone. Lost. Betrayed. Gone.

A few months ago, I called my bank and canceled my membership in the Likud. “Not with my vote,” I told my friends. Whatever Bibi Netanyahu will do, it won’t be with my support.

Tonight, he betrayed the Likud members, as surely and as completely as Ariel Sharon betrayed the residents of Gush Katif and northern Shomron. With pride and determination, I tell you, Bibi, you do not have my support. You do not have my vote and you do not have my faith.

We have no peace partner. You know this, you have said it enough times. But you will do this – stop building in our land, in exchange for promises of American support from Barack Hussein Obama. What a fool you are and what a fool you have made of Likud.

But this time, it was not with my support. This time, Likud veers to the left and I continue on the path that Menachem Begin and others proposed years ago. There will be peace when the Palestinians accept who we are, what we are, and where we are.

All you do, as Sharon and Rabin did before you, means nothing if you can’t accept that simple fact…and more, if you lack the courage to explain it to the world. The closer you convince the world we are to this imagined peace you seek, the sooner bombs will start exploding in our streets. Hamas will push you back to sanctions and actions so that they can cry their tears and demand world condemnation.

And when the bombs explode…you’ll order a closure to try to prevent further attacks. And the world will condemn us again – as they did the last time, as they always do. This freeze means nothing other than your complete lack of courage.

You shame the Likud party; you shame Menachem Begin. Without doubt, Ariel Sharon and Yitzchak Rabin would take pride in what you’ve done tonight because in the end, what mattered to them, what matters to you, is what the world says, what the Americans think.

And so, you have betrayed your supporters and followed well in the paths of other recent Likud leaders. But what you haven’t done, is shame me because I disengaged from Likud, I left, I surrendered the party to you, but not the land.

As the old adage goes: Fool me once, shame on you – that was Ariel Sharon. Fool me twice, shame on me. You didn’t fool me, Bibi – I left Likud and in my leaving, I take my pride, my determination, and my love of the land of Israel.

There are words that become associated with people. Neville Chamberlain will forever be tied to the word “appeasement”. Ariel Sharon will be remembered for betraying his followers and you, Bibi, will be remembered for your stupidity.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Release of a Daughter's Killer to Free a Son

I received this from a friend. I cannot imagine their pain. How do you choose between the agony of one set of parents versus the agony of another set? Can Gilad's parents stand if it their son is not freed? Can Malki's parents stand it if her killer is?

What message do we send when we release 1,000 prisoners for one young man, no matter how precious he is to all of us? Will the release of Ahlam Tamimi and the others come to haunt us in the future with more violence and death?

Malki Roth was a beautiful, innocent teenager who went out for pizza with her friends on a lovely summer day in Jerusalem. We have no words we can offer to comfort her parents this day and likely none that we can use in the future when Tamimi and others like her return to their violent ways.

Tamimi was sentenced to 16 consecutive life terms for her participation in the murder of Malki and the others at the Sbarro Pizzeria that horrible day in August. She served but 5 years for her crimes. There is no justice in this, no comfort - only pain.

How to you free your daughter's murderer to save your son? How can you bear to break a vow to her that justice, at least, will be served?

How do you leave your son alive for years, held prisoner and abused and alone without breaking your heart and your vow to him? I have no answers, only deep pain for all the parents, for all of us. There is no victory  here, no win-win situation.

From Frimet and Arnold Roth...on the murderer of their daughter, Malki

Dear friends,

Earlier today, we sent a letter to the cabinet members of the government of Israel. The following is an English translation of what we wrote to them.

Like the rest of the Jewish nation, we yearn to see Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit back home with his long-suffering parents as soon as possible.

But it is with indescribable pain that we read about the impending mass release of the convicted murderers of Israeli civilians and soldiers. Those of us who still personally feel the agony of the terror attacks of the last few years have failed to motivate our leaders to free Gilad Shilat via alternative means.

Among the prisoners to be released will be the convicted mass murderer Ahlam Tamimi []

And among the victims whose sacrifices will be denigrated is our precious child, Malki []

Tamimi is unique in several ways. As such, she should be treated differently from other convicted murderers.

While she is a woman, and for this reason accorded relatively compassionate coverage by the media, Tamimi is a far more prolific murderer than most of the men she will accompany. She slaughtered seven men and women and eight babies and children in cold blood. Tamimi personally led the suicide-bomber, Al-Masri, right up to entrance of the target she herself selected, Jerusalem's Sbarro restaurant, made a hasty getaway to save her own skin, and then, in effect, "fired her weapon". Few of the prisoners on Hamas' demand list were so intimately involved in the terror attacks for which they were convicted and sentenced. Those who were, usually died in the attack.

Tamimi was sentenced to 16 consecutive life sentences, and has been in prison for five years. Few of the murderers Israel has agreed to release have spent so brief a period behind bars.

She has enjoyed the notoriously comfortable conditions that Israel lavishes on female Palestinian prisoners, including: the freedom to dress in clothes of her choice - she swapped her secular garb for Muslim fundamentalist scarf and robe; the opportunity to grant interviews to writers and to a documentary film-maker, thereby gaining widespread international media coverage and air-time for her hateful values; the unfettered opportunity to practice her religion to the fullest extent; the option of higher education - she was a university student and part-time journalist at the time of the murders; the time to socialize and politicize with her fellow terrorist-prisoners. Few male Palestinian murderers enjoy conditions as generous as Tamimi's.

Tamimi has declared unequivocally that she has no regrets about what she did. In one of her media interviews, permitted by the Israel Prison Service, she is quoted saying: “I am not sorry for what I did. I will get out of prison and I refuse to recognize Israel’s existence… Discussions will only take place after Israel recognizes that this is Islamic land”.

Several years ago, Tamimi spoke with Barbara Victor, author of  “Army of Roses: Inside the World of Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers” (London; Constable & Robinson, 2004). In her book, Victor writes that Tamimi “didn’t regret the deaths of all these children” and said “They should have returned to Poland, Russia or the United States, to the countries their parents came from”.

Of the other convicted terrorists to be freed, none – as far as we know – has made such egregious and documented statements of un-repentance.

Abdullah Barghouti, another mass murderer who prepared the bomb that slaughtered the Sbarro victims and who is also slated to be released in the Gilad Shalit exchange, publicized his lack of regret as well. But he qualified this by saying: "I do not accept responsibility for their deaths. I feel pain, of course. They are little children. But the government of Israel is solely responsible."

When, during the filming of a documentary, Tamimi was informed that the number of children she had murdered was higher than she had herself presumed, she smiled with pleasure into the camera.

The Sbarro bombing remains one of the most horrific acts of terrorism that Israel has ever known. It decimated an entire family, the Schijveschuurders; the father, mother and three of their young children died instantly, leaving behind four orphans. It robbed a couple of their only child, pregnant with her first baby when Tamimi murdered her. It sent a young mother into a coma from which she has never emerged; her ravaged life is never included in the tally of Tamimi's victims.

The evil that Tamimi embodies is special, and deserves treatment distinct from that of the other terrorists.

We recognize, as many observers have pointed out, that Israel has probably bungled the handling of Shalit's return. The damage has been done and there is no turning back the clock. We are resigned to the fact that releasing terrorists for Gilad Shalit's return means that Hamas will commit fresh kidnappings.

We also fear that Israeli soldiers, sent by their commanders to risk their lives in the pursuit of suspected terrorists, will now wonder whether they should die just so that another name is added to the next prisoner-release list.

Removing Tamimi's name from the list will enable Israel to demonstrate some vestige of strength, conviction and morality. This is a message which needs to be heard by its citizens,  its enemies and the world. Please support our efforts to bring this about.

Frimet and Arnold Roth

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Program to Supply Israel's "Life Angels"

Understand that Israel's enemies are surrounding her with missiles and rockets?

I thought this post particularly timely, considering that just today, the IDF confirmed that all of Israel's major cities, including Jerusalem, are now within rocket range of Hezbollah's weaponry.

* * * * * *

Understand that terrorists are targeting population centers?

Understand that the next "war" will likely include mass civilian casualties and trauma?

Want to do something about it?

The Israel Emergency Aid Fund is providing prayer, financial support, medical equipment and supplies to first-responders in Israel's north and south in support of programs such as "Israel Life Angels," "Operation Lifeshield" and others who are doing G-d's work by building the necessary infrastructure.

Israel Life Angels, the Emergency First-Responder Volunteer Program and The Israel Emergency Aid Fund are looking for friends with a heart for Israel all over the world.

This website will give you an oversight of the goals and highly qualified personnel involved:

The Israel Emergency Aid Fund representative plans to be in the United States during early December to meet with Christian friends with a heart for Israel and begin the process of recruiting volunteers to come and assist Israel's civil society during times of crisis.

We would like to have Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremonies in as many communities as might be arranged during a short trip, and to spread the word and ask special communities to join us in doing the Lord's work:

We are looking for communities with a heart for Israel who are willing to create a full-fledged relationship with us:

Physical: Volunteers (firefighters, clowns, musicians, welders, general task)
Spiritual: Prayer for specific first-responders and their families
Educational: Updates from the field about Israel, the ME and the first-responder's lives
Commercial: Purchase of particular Made in Israel products in a one-off design
Financial: Offerings for first responder equipment and active duty fire-fighters

If possible, we would like your help, involvement and advise in the development of this important new program in your community.

With the abundant blessings of Jerusalem,

Adi Zahavi
Israel Life Angels
Israel Emergency Aid Fund

Monday, November 9, 2009

YNET Owes Shderot Residents an Apology

Beyond the insensivity is the incredible inaccuracy of YNET's recent article on a missile attack. Today (November 9), YNET reported that a bit after midnight, a kassem rocket was launched at Shderot, landing just outside the city. Moments before, a Code Red siren sounded.

YNET offered a bit of background, as follows:

Since the end of Operation Cast Lead in early 2009, a relative state of calm has been maintained around the Gaza Strip, despite occasional shooting incidents, attempts to place explosives and the firing of Qassam rockets.

"A relative state of calm", "despite occasional shooting incidents...and the firing of Qassam rockets"?

The rocket that hit Shderot last night was number 271 since the end of the fighting during the Gaza War, which ended on January 18, 2009, when Israel pulled its troops out of Gaza. Israel ended the war, by many accounts, because of the anticipated pressure the new Obama government would bring to bear immediately upon taking office.

This was rocket 296 days. That doesn't seem to be occasional... and those under the skies where these missiles fell certainly would not consider it a period of "relative calm."

It is bad enough when foreign media ignore the missiles - it is intolerable when our own media does the same. Shame on YNET - they owe the people of Israel's southern regions an apology.

They can start off by bringing their whole staff to Shderot and having them remain there for a few days...let's see then how insignificant these rockets will seem, how calm these times, now occasional these rockets!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gracious and Honest: Israel's Ambassador to the UN

Statement by Ambassador Gabriela Shalev to the United Nations General Assembly
Report of the Human Rights Council (Agenda Item 64)
4 November 2009

At the outset, Mr. President, I wish to convey the condolences of the government and people of Israel to the most recent victims of terrorism. Our thoughts are with the more than 150 innocent men, women and children slaughtered in Baghdad by suicide terrorists. Our sorrow is with the more than 100 victims of the brutal terrorist attacks in Peshawar and Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Our grief is with the families of the six United Nations employees - working in the name of peace - who were murdered by terrorists in Kabul.

We will not forget the victims of terrorism in New York, Washington, London, Madrid, Bali, Lockerbie, Riyadh, Amman, Mindanao, Istanbul, Nairobi, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Sinai, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Beslan, Islamabad, Algiers and so many others who have endured the evil of terrorism.

Terrorism deprives people of their most basic human right - the right to life.

States have not only the right, but indeed the duty, to pursue those who engage in the barbaric tactics of terrorism. States sponsoring terrorism - members of this organization - that actively engage in activities, such as smuggling of weapons, ammunition and terrorists by sea, air, and land, must be held accountable before the international community.

Yet today, Mr. President, rather than confronting terrorism, the General Assembly chose again to detach itself from reality. Today's debate is anything but genuine and candid. Rather than discuss how to better stop terrorist groups who deliberately target civilians, this body launches yet another campaign against the victims of terrorism, the people of Israel.

The report before you was conceived in hate and executed in sin. From its inception in a one-sided mandate, the Gaza fact-finding mission was a politicized body with predetermined conclusions.

It is the product of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, a body whose obsession with Israel has led it to pass more resolutions against Israel than on all other U.N. Member States put together. This same Human Rights Council rejected any investigation regarding the constant firing of 12,000 rockets and mortars by Hamas, over eight years, on towns and villages in Israel.

The basic human rights of nearly one million Israeli citizens did not matter then. Are we now to believe that the Council's latest incarnation is honest, objective and fair?

Cynical political maneuvers, not principles, have brought the Human Rights Council to export this report to New York. But the flaws of the report before you are not merely procedural. It is irreparably tainted; it bends both fact and law.

Justice Goldstone himself publicly conceded that if his fact-finding mission had been a judicial inquiry, a member of his team would have been disqualified for outright bias against Israel.

Nevertheless, the report makes sweeping judicial determinations of criminal wrongdoing in the absence of crucial information. It makes explosive charges against Israel yet the evidence provided to support such accusations is at best uncorroborated, and at worst false. In certain cases, the report makes conclusions based upon the absence of evidence to the contrary. In others, the author's mere opinions serve as the evidence. Time and again, the report inverts Israel's unprecedented extensive efforts to save civilian lives as proof that any civilian casualties were therefore deliberate.

This is not honest fact finding. But this is not all.

Justice Goldstone himself admitted that the Mission had deliberately selected incidents so as to evade the complex dilemmas of confronting threats in civilian areas. The report ignores the reality of terror activity and the complexity of military challenges in fighting terrorists in urban warfare. It ignores overwhelming evidence that Hamas intentionally operated from densely populated areas and from within hospitals and mosques, and booby-trapped civilian structures.

The report makes no reference to the recruitment and exploitation of civilians by Hamas and its use of human shields. It undermines every democracy defending itself against terrorist attacks. It concedes that the rule of law will be replaced by the rule of terrorism.

But this is not all.

The report dismisses Israel's independent legal system, to which I am a proud member of. It disregards Israel's extensive criminal investigation process of allegations of misconduct by Israeli armed forces. In so doing, it effectively calls into question the internal investigation procedures of the armed forces of most democratic states.

Mr. President,

Israel is committed to acting in accordance with international law. The rules of armed conflict are part of the training of every Israeli soldier. Israel is committed to investigating every allegation of misconduct by its forces. These commitments are derived from our timeless values, and our longing for peace.

Mr. President,

Israel believes in a vision of peace. We believe in the vision established by the United Nations of two states for two peoples. But the Goldstone report and this debate do not promote peace. They damage any effort to revitalize negotiations in our region. They deny Israel's right of self-defense.

If Israel is asked to make concessions for peace we must be assured of the right to defend ourselves. We must know that terrorists will not have impunity as they turn our gestures of peace into weapons of war.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

We Defeat Ourselves - JTA Blows the Call

Last week, after more than a decade in court with appeals and counter appeals, an Israeli court finally ruled that an old man who had proven that he owned some property, had the right to evict Arabs who had squatted on his property, denying him access and failing to pay rent.

Finally, the man was clear to reclaim what the courts carefully had determined was his. The man went with several others to hand out eviction notices. The Arabs seemed to have been expecting them and began pelting them with rocks. In an attempt to defend themselves after two had been hit by rocks (one in the head and one in the chest), one 63-year-old man pulled out a gun and shot in the air.

As is often the case when an Israeli fires into the air, several Arabs complained to the police that they had been injured. One man insisted he had been shot in the hand and showed the police a scratch. Had the man been hit, explained the Israeli who shot in the air, the man would have lost his hand because of the nature of the bullets he had in his gun.

No, there were no injuries among the Arabs and the police quickly released the Jews that had been taken into custody based on Arab charges and complaints.

What is amazing, however, is how Israeli media covered the news report. I have heard the story directly from someone who was there, one of seven, the wife of the man who fired into the air. She explained to me that it was only when the Arabs started advancing towards her and throwing rocks at her, that her husband raised his gun.

This is Israel - we must defend ourselves. This is, as the man later told the police, our country and if someone throws stones at you when you have broken no law (unlike the people illegally living in the old man's house), you have the right to self-defense.

Yes, this is Israel, but sadly, so is the other side. I have doubts whether anyone from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) spoke to any of the Jews involved in the incident - it certainly doesn't seem so from the ridiculous headlines they used:
"Jews arrested in brawl over home ownership."

A brawl? Doesn't that give the hint of guilt on both sides? Jews with the backing of the Israeli courts went to issue eviction notices to illegal residents and were attacked with stones. This is a brawl? One wonders whether it is perhaps time to buy JTA a dictionary.

The absurd title is only one inaccuracy. Of course, no one was injured among the Arabs; no one was shot in the hand or elsewhere. According to the witness I spoke to, the police watched the video she had taken and quickly agreed that the claims were false and that there was no way any Arabs were shot by this man's bullets.

Also, telling, however, is the file name (URL address) of the JTA article. While they decided to be a bit more diplomatic in the headlines, the assumption of guilt was there in the file name: ""