It is my practice, always, to begin a posting with news of a terror attack – when one occurs – before dealing with other matters. And sadly, painfully, I must do so again here:
On Friday night, Vyacheslav Golev was working as a security guard at the entrance to the city of Ariel in the Shomron. Victoria Fligelman was working with him.
A blue Suzuki vehicle with an Israeli license plate drove up to the guard post, and the terrorist in the passenger seat opened fire. Then he and the driver both got out of the car to direct additional fire at the guard post, before getting back in the car and driving away. At least 10 bullets were fired, in all.
As the hail of bullets was directed at them, Golev threw himself in front of Fliegelman to protect her: He saved her life and gave his own in the process. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The two had been engaged just weeks; it was when they had decided to marry that they moved to Ariel – he was from Beit Shemesh, where his parents and seven siblings still live, while Fligelman was from Ashkelon. Golev, 23, who had been a student at Ariel University at one point, is now hailed for his enormous heroism.
Another life taken, for no reason other than hatred — the life of a good man (his pictures reflect the eyes of a gentle soul). While Fligelman – who was physically uninjured in the attack because Golev protected her – now endures a shattered heart. She was taken to the hospital in a state of shock after the attack.
At Golev’s funeral in Beit Shemesh, held today (May 1), a childhood friend said, “He always defended everyone, whether his siblings, friends, everyone he knew, if something happened, he was always the first to defend them.”
After the murder, the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a military wing of Fatah, the leading faction of the Palestinian Authority, issued a declaration: “We claim responsibility for the heroic operation in the colony of Ariel in which a Zionist officer was killed, in response to violations committed by the occupation government in Jerusalem.”
It did not take long for the two terrorists, who lived in the nearby Palestinian Authority town of Qarawa Bani Hassan, to be apprehended. They were caught as a result of a joint action by the Shin Bet, IDF and Israel Police. Their weapons were recovered:
And a short while after, their car was found, burnt, in a nearby village.
The father of one of the terrorists had helped them escape (very temporarily, as it turns out)
The ugliness seems unending.
Our job, at all times, is to manifest more strength, more determination than those who would come for us: We must build life, plan, hold fast to hope and never let go.
Oft times, this is an exceedingly difficult task.
Last Thursday was Yom Hashoah (Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day) here in Israel. It was, as it always is, a day heavy with the recounting of atrocities beyond comprehension. That’s the bottom line: beyond comprehension. It is now 77 years since the end of World War II, and so the number of survivors who are direct witnesses to what occurred is quickly diminishing.
But it is essential that we never forget.
What hit me this year was the powerful realization that this evil – the evil that is beyond comprehension – still exists, and is growing by the day. There are those who wish to destroy us just because we are Jews. And those who, by extension, seek to render Israel illegitimate because it is the Jewish State.
It is futile to attempt to appease. You cannot appease evil. Our only proper response is a resolute belief in who we are, and an uncompromising commitment to stand strong for our rights.
What we are facing now is an incredible push by radical factions in the Arab Islamic world to seize Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount).
I have written in recent posts about the significance of this site: It is an article of Islamic faith that land once Muslim must stay in Muslim hands; Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel is an affront to them. Thus do they seek to represent the Mount as exclusively Muslim: to acknowledge the Jewish right on this site is to acknowledge that Jewish Temples existed there before the advent of Islam, i.e. that this Land is legitimately Jewish.
And so radical forces incite the crowds and tell their lies. Al Aqsa Mosque is at risk, they cry. Israeli police have stormed it. The reality is quite the reverse: Arabs stockpiled rocks inside their “holy” mosque, threw stones while standing within it, and then barricaded themselves in. It was this behavior that made it necessary for the Israeli Police to enter the mosque in order to quell the violence.
The cry now, from several quarters, is for Israel to relinquish all rights on the Mount. Most outrageous have been the recent demands of Jordan, which controls the Waqf, the Islamic trust that administers the Mount. King Abdullah II has submitted these demands to the US (and I’ll get to this in a moment). He wants total control:
Non-Muslims would have to apply in writing in advance, in order to visit the Mount, with the Waqf having authority decide who can come up. Groups of visiting non-Muslims would be limited to five persons, and their routes of tours would be severely restricted (150 meters in each direction). Non-Muslims would have a dress code, as well.
Additionally, the Israel Police would be totally barred from the Mount, even if rioters were throwing rocks on the Jewish worshippers at the Kotel below (which has happened a couple of times recently).
I have never been impressed with this Jordanian tyrant, who has consistently made matters difficult for Israel as he flexed his muscles. (Even as he gladly accepted an agreement last year that doubled the amount of water Israel would sell to a parched Jordan.) It was said time and again that Israel had to cut him slack because he sat uneasily on his throne and radicals would move in if he were to fall.
This time, however, his demands are ludicrously over the top. And so, at present the Israeli government is standing firm, for there is no way that we could, or would, yield on what he is calling for. The insistence that Israel Police could not go on the Mount is by itself a non-starter, as rioters on the Mount present a threat to the Jewish worshippers at the Kotel below. But I am vastly uneasy.
It should be noted here that, with it all, we are witnessing a tug-of-war between different radical Islamist groups with regard to influence over the Mount. Even today, while ostensibly Jordan controls the Waqf, in reality in many ways Hamas is calling the shots with its incitement. The green Hamas flags on the Mount are a common sight. The picture below is from just days ago.
Meanwhile, the PA, which is in competition with Hamas for influence with the Palestinian Arabs, says that Jordan’s authority on the Mount should not be undermined. Last week, Mahmoud Abbas of the PA met with the king.
As to Jordan having directed its demands regarding the Mount to the US, I respond with a particular rage. This action indicates a weakness in the current Israeli coalition: obviously the king assumes that Bennett is more likely to make concessions if the US is demanding them. Perhaps Bennett has not noticed, but Israel is a sovereign state, and should be deciding these matters without interference.
What Bennett should also know – although there is no clear indication that he is aware of this, as he gushes about his relationship with Biden – is that we not dealing with a US administration that is remotely concerned with Israeli interests. Secretary of State Blinken, in typical leftist fashion, has been talking about the “cycle of violence” – yes, that again. The implication is that the unrest here is being caused equally by both parties. There is no acknowledgement of the horrendous Arab provocations that require Israeli police intervention.
Very recently Blinken put out a call for both sides to avoid actions that “escalate tensions.” A vile statement, for what is implied here is that the Israel Police presence “escalates tensions.”
Yahya Sinwar, the vicious Hamas leader in Gaza, has made a threat now: that synagogues around the world will be attacked if Israel “violates” the Mount again.
Sinwar then hit at Mansour Abbas: “That you serve as a support to this government which violates Al-Aqsa is an unforgivable crime. The fact that you are acting as a security blanket for this government is a crime for which you will never be forgiven.”
Abbas’s retort: “We don’t owe anything to Yahya Sinwar or anyone else. We are what is good for the Arab community and Palestinian nation.”
Please note: “We are good…for the Palestinian nation.”
Then came Bennett’s wrong-headed response today. It began with a swipe at Netanyahu, which has become a standard part of his repertoire:
“It seems to me that it is already quite clear at this stage that Hamas does not like this government. Maybe they miss the suitcases full of dollars [which was how the Netanyahu government allowed cash to come into Gaza]…
“This is the time that the masks come off and it is clear to everyone who wants what. That Hamas wants to overthrow our government, says it all. And in that, too, Sinwar must not be allowed to win.”
It seems to me much more likely that Sinwar is attempting to manipulate Bennett and his government, rather than bring it down. Why would he want to bring it down and risk a far more right-wing government coming in? Sinwar knows that Bennett caves.
Consider the current situation: Bennett declares that Sinwar must not be allowed to “overthrow our government.” Bennett’s primary goal, from the get-go, has been preserving this coalition. But his primary goal should have been doing what is best for the country – which is not synonymous with preserving the coalition (although Bennett would have us believe it is).
Mansour Abbas retorted that he doesn’t owe Sinwar anything. But this isn’t so. The pressure put on him by the Hamas stand on the Temple Mount has got to have an impact on his stance. After all, Abbas represents the political arm of the anti-Zionist Islamic Movement. Challenged by Hamas, Abbas cannot afford to be too conciliatory.
On instruction from the Islamic Movement, Abbas had temporarily withdrawn from involvement in the government. Very recently, he had indicated that matters were close to being resolved, i.e. so that Ra’am would be able to participate once again.
Now, however, Abbas has declared that matters are not resolved. In a meeting with Yair Lapid, he indicated that he wants Jordan to submit its demands to Israel. After which, Ra’am will be able to resume active participation in the government only if Israel acquiesces to those demands.
It seems to me that – unless something in this equation changes radically – Bennett is in a no-win situation: Either he acquiesces to Jordanian demands (in some part) in order to retain his coalition, thereby failing the country. Or he refuses to acquiesce and loses his coalition.
What is more, my guess (perhaps wishful thinking, but perhaps not) is that if he should acquiesce to Jordan, there are others in the current coalition who will say that was a step too far, and opt out. In which case, Bennett would lose his coalition anyway.
Arutz Sheva carried a news item this morning:
“Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) recently gathered her office’s employees and other sources in the political system and instructed them to prepare to ‘clean their desks.’
“According to [one] report, Shaked estimated that the current government has very little time left, and requested the employees complete the central reforms which she had pushed…”
This is a bit of a cliff-hanger, an on-going saga.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.