Must? We must hold our heads up, mindful of who we are and standing forever strong.
Before I consider some of the vile situations that prompted the title of this posting, I want to look at a bit of good news. It reminds us that there is always hope for a better tomorrow. (But please do continue to the end!)
At the end of April, our Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Peace Now against a construction plan for a new Jewish neighborhood – Hezekiah Quarter – in the Old City of Hevron.
The neighborhood will include 31 housing units, and construction is already in progress. The court’s ruling eliminates the final legal objection to the construction of the Jewish neighborhood. Construction is already underway.
The Arabs and the leftists would have the world believe that Hevron is Arab, but historically it is the second most holy city for Jews – an ancient part of our heritage. It is the site of the Machpelah, which was purchased by Avraham as a burial place for Sarah.
And it was the first capital for King David.
Another victory in the Court was achieved on May 4, when it was ruled that the IDF could evict 1,300 Palestinian Arabs living in eight villages in the South Hevron Hills because this was an area that the army uses for training, known as Firing Zone 918.
This was a long hard battle for Israel, extending over some 20 years. The Arabs claimed that they were there as permanent residents before the IDF began using the area for training in the early 1880s. The Court, however, ruled that the Arabs had not documented their claim; it unanimously accepted the Israeli position that for years the Arabs had only entered the land seasonally for grazing of their animals, which afforded them no right to claim the land.
The establishment of Arab villages in such an area is a stark indication of their process of usurping Israeli land – a process that must be halted, and reversed.
This picture shows an Arab tending his flock in the path of an army exercise.
Another qualified step forward: The Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee, an arm of the Defense Ministry that authorizes Israeli construction in Judea & Samaria, has advanced planning for 4,427 new homes.
In all, 25 plans were on the docket, and advanced. This does not mean all of them are ready to go: there is yet more bureaucracy. But more than half of the homes received final approval for construction.
This is an important, a necessary, step in the right direction – with a need for much more.
Naturally, Tor Wennesland, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, condemned the Israeli decision: “Continued settlement expansion further entrenches the occupation, encroaches upon Palestinian land and natural resources, and hampers the free movement of the Palestinian population.”
He’s wrong on all counts. There is no ‘occupation,” as the land belongs to Israel. The building does not remotely “encroach” on “Palestinian land,” as all building will be in Area C, which is Israeli-controlled, not in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. What is more, the building will be done within the footprints of existing communities. It in no way changes the ability of Arabs to move about.
Note please that Wennesland failed to mention that the committee appears set to move forward on approving 1,000 housing units in Area C for Palestinian Arabs (which fact gives me a stomach ache).
The Yesha Council noted that some 1,800 projects at various phases of approval were removed from the agenda. So there is movement forward, but it is halting. The original plans called for 5,800 housing units; the number was cut back in the face of American objections.
A State Department spokeswoman objected that, “…the expansion of settlements…exacerbates tensions” and “deeply damages the prospects for a two-state solution.”
There are a couple of questions I would I would have liked to ask her: Mahmoud Abbas’s pay-for-slay policy doesn’t exacerbate tensions? And, in light of pay-for-slay, incitement, and terrorism, precisely which “two-state solution” was she referring to?
There was other welcome news from the subcommittee regarding the retroactive legalization of two outposts. One is Mitzpeh Dani, a neighborhood of the Ma’aleh Michmash community in the Binyamin Regional Council (Shomron) northeast of Jerusalem.
The other is the very special Oz VeGaon, a nature reserve and education center that overlooks the Gush Etzion junction. It was founded by Women in Green to honor the memories of Gil-ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel, who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas in the summer of 2014.
Lastly here, under the category of good news is a new policy that is being instituted by Israel in an effort to stem the plague of terrorism (emphasis added):
“Over 1,100 work permits have been revoked from the extended families of those who have perpetrated the recent wave of attacks that began in March.
“In addition, those who did not have such a permit were informed that they would not be allowed to visit family members within the so-called Green Line, enter the Temple Mount, or receive permission for medical treatment in Israeli hospitals.
“The IDF believes that such an economic and social blow, which spreads the repercussion for a terror act far and wide, may be a message that gets through to potential attackers.
“’This was done after a great deal of thought,’ a senior IDF officer stated. ‘We won’t allow the families of extremists who chose the way of terror to enter the State of Israel for employment and to do business.
“’Any Palestinian who thinks of choosing the way of terror should know that the attack he commits will critically harm his family.’”
This is excellent and should have been done a long time ago. I do support the death penalty for terrorists who take Jewish lives for a variety of reasons: it means they can never be traded out, cannot influence others in prison negatively or encourage further terrorism from within their cells (this happens).
But I have serious doubts as to how effective this would be as a deterrent for the simple reason that they love to be “martyrs,” and operate in anticipation of meeting their 70 virgins in Heaven. They see this as a way to bring pride to their families and within the Palestinian Authority, secure funds for them.
There are other possible means of creating deterrence that would draw on the norms of the Muslim Palestinian Arab culture: a shame/honor culture that has a strong attachment to the hamula (the clan/family). If the potential terrorist knows that if he acts he will bring embarrassment (via their being denied the right to visit the Temple Mount, for example) and physical and financial hardship to his family, he might well think twice.
Additionally, in my opinion, the bodies of any terrorists that were shot dead should be buried in unmarked graves and not returned to the family for Muslim burials with honors. (I am not sure they believe they will get their 70 virgins without a Muslim burial and at a minimum the family will be deprived of a moment for honoring the “martyr.”) There have been rulings here regarding retention of bodies of terrorists, but they are not being adhered to.
What is more difficult to deal with, but should be dealt with, is establishing punitive measures for the families of terrorists who are citizens of Israel. I believe their families should lose citizenship. (Recently a couple of terrorists’ bodies were returned to their families, who were citizens.)
And now we must consider some of the negative happenings of the last few days:
I begin with the current government coalition, which is still standing after there had been high expectations that it was about to implode. Of course, whether this is bad news or not depends on one’s perspective. I think it is all terribly bad, as do the members of the Zionist parties in the Opposition. But obviously Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid would disagree. They have been offered a reprieve of sorts.
For days there had been reason to believe that the no-confidence vote in the Knesset that was scheduled to be brought by the Opposition on Wednesday would bring the government down. Stories were circulating about the inclination of the Shura Council of the Islamic Movement to push Ra’am, its political wing, to leave the government because of serious dissatisfaction with some of its stands – notably, but not exclusively, with regard to the Temple Mount. And there was further talk about Ra’am (United Arab List) re-joining the (Arab) Joint List from which it had previously separated. Ra’am was reportedly concerned that there were going to be elections and that Ra’am would not meet the electoral threshold running alone.
(This poll, by the way tells us a good deal about the Israeli Arab take on what Ra’am has been doing. Abbas promotes himself as a defender and protector of Israeli Arabs, and there was certainly a time when he expected to increase his base of support via his participation in the government. But this is clearly not the case.)
Without Ra’am staying inside the government, it was assumed the no-confidence motion would pass. That is, if the Joint List did not support it from the outside – and they were saying they would not.
But lots of politicians say lots of things. At the last moment Mansour Abbas, head of Ra’am, announced that his party was “giving the government another chance,” and would be staying.
The opposition, understanding that the motion would fail (which legally meant another could not be presented for another six months), withdrew the scheduled motion of no-confidence from the Knesset agenda. And so, the government is still with us. For how long, we do not know.
There are several unknowns: The first is what Naftali Bennett offered Abbas to convince him to stay. It is obvious Abbas did not do so simply out the kindness of his heart. Bennett is not talking, however. We do not know what he commitments he has made.
The second is the question of how firm Ra’am’s decision to stay will turn out to be. Perhaps it is all tentative – that Abbas means it when he says he’s giving the government another chance. If Bennett and Lapid fail to deliver, he may yet be gone. But, since Ra’am might not pass the threshold if elections are called, he might be content to stay put for the time being and secure what he can.
Nor should we forget that aside from the matter of Ra’am participation, there are other factors that might yet bring the government down – other individuals or small factions within the government who might depart, depleting the coalition’s numbers. In this regard, as well, lots of people say lots of things. We will be watching this closely.
Lastly here I want to look at the incident of the Al Jazeera veteran journalist, Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead on Wednesday when she was covering an IDF action in Jenin against terrorists. The Israeli security forces, as they often do these days, had gone into Jenin (a terror hotbed) in search of terrorist suspects and had confronted violence.
Abu Akleh – a Palestinian Arab from a Christian family – was shot in the course of the gunfight. She was wearing a helmet but was shot from the side, in a spot near her ear that was not protected. She was filming in the midst of armed Palestinians who were shooting wildly.
Rather than mourn her accidental death and work to discover what happened, both Al Jazeera (which is owned by the hostile Qatar) and the PA jumped on this incident to generate negative PR for Israel.
Al Jazeera, referring to the incident as an intentional assassination carried out to silence Abu Akleh, referred to it as a “heinous crime” carried out in “cold blood.” was an intentional assassination and that Israeli forces deliberately killed Abu Akleh in order to silence her. It called for the international community to hold Israel accountable.
The PA followed suit, making inflammatory accusations. Abu Akleh was referred to as a “martyr” and her body was accorded honors in Ramallah. Mahmoud Abbas said he was going to take this incident to the ICC.
Israel certainly did not “deliberately” kill her. But what it is important to understand is that there is no proof that it was an Israeli bullet that took her down. And in point of fact there is a solid possibility that it was NOT an Israeli bullet.
Israeli officials – declaring a readiness to accept responsibility if it turned out that our forces had accidently shot her – called for a joint investigation with the PA to uncover the truth. The PA, tellingly, has refused.
The PA Ministry of Health conducted a post-mortem and declared it impossible to tell from the bullet, of a type used both by the IDF and Palestinian Arabs, who was responsible. The PA – which has put out a story that diverges from its Ministry of Health finding — is refusing Israeli requests to be given the bullet in order to conduct ballistic tests. Those tests would likely provide proof as to who shot it. Additionally, an examination of the point of entry of the bullet might reveal where the bullet had come from.
There is video evidence of Palestinian Arabs shooting wildly and then shouting “We hit a soldier. He’s lying on the ground,” when in fact no IDF soldiers had been hit. This strongly suggests that it was Palestinian Arabs who shot her:
It is obvious on the face of it that if the PA had solid proof that Israelis had shot her, it would have been promoted widely. The refusal to share evidence points to Palestinian Arab complicity.
It is essential that these facts be widely shared, as many in the world are always eager to malign Israel.
Abu Akleh was an American citizen and so this was big in the US as well. Not unexpectedly, big-mouth anti-Zionist Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American, came forward with her outrageous statement:
“When will the world and those who stand by Apartheid Israel that continues to murder, torture and commit war crimes finally say: ‘Enough’? Shireen Abu Akleh was murdered by a government that receives unconditional funding by our country with zero accountability.” @RashidaTlaib
Counter her publicly!!
I close now, as Shabbat preparations call for my attention. I will especially welcome peace this Shabbat as I know the huge potential for violence we are facing in the days ahead: Abu Akleh’s funeral, an anniversary “celebration” of the horrendous violence of last May, Nakba Day, and Jerusalem Day.
Pray for us, my friends.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.