March 5, 2023
This week we celebrate Purim – Monday night and Tuesday, and for Jerusalem, which was a walled city, Shushan Purim, Tuesday night and Wednesday.
This holiday marks a major threat to our people, which was averted (with the protection of Heaven). We read the Megillat Ester, which tells the story, twice over the holiday.
Purim teaches lessons and calls for tzedakah and gifts to friends. But it is traditionally a time for celebration and silliness, a time for costumes and merrymaking.
In that spirit I wish all who are celebrating a Chag Purim Sameach!
But I confess, my friends, that I approach Purim with a prayer in my heart, that we should come through with only joy and no more tears.
Because my last postings focused on the double terrorist murder in Huwara, I have not yet mentioned another terrorist murder: Elan Ganeles was shot the next day in the Jordan Valley. We must honor his memory as well.
Elan was an American-Israeli. Born and raised in Connecticut, he came to Israel and served in the army as a lone soldier. He returned to the US for study, with intention of coming back to Israel permanently. He was in Israel at the time of his murder for the wedding of a dear friend, Maayan Rockland, also originally from Connecticut. Elan was almost like a member of the Rockland family.
He was actually on his way to that wedding when he was shot.
The family considered it strange that he was absent for the wedding ceremony, but assumed he had a flat tire or other minor problem.
“As the wedding moved on and guests prepared to welcome the new couple on the dance floor, [the] tragic news reached the hall: Ganeles, 26, had been shot dead by Palestinian gunmen…
“Word of the attack reached Maayan’s uncle while the bride and groom were outside taking pictures. He gathered the family and told them that they had to let her fully enjoy the next few hours.
“’You have to put on a face that everything is okay,’ he told them. ‘You cannot let Maayan know that this happened. She will find out after. Do not let her know at any cost.’
“…The bride’s family encouraged her to avoid her phone until the following morning, urging her to be in the moment and answer the hundreds of congratulatory messages later.
“But Rockland wanted to confirm the family’s plans for the following day. When she turned on her phone, she saw a message about the tragedy in a WhatsApp group from back home.
“’I just feel shattered and broken,’ she said. ‘Elan was like a brother to me, and it’s incomprehensible, literally unbelievable. My brain cannot comprehend that he was on his way to bring joy to me and my family, my wedding, and he didn’t make it there.’”
She described him as someone who cared about everyone around him…”something we definitely shared deeply was our love for Israel.”
By Wednesday, the two terrorists who murdered Elan had been caught by Israeli security — the IDF (including Dudevan special forces), Border Police and the Shin Bet, which provided intelligence, were all involved. They were captured in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp in the Jordan Valley.
A new Hamas terror cell had been established in this refugee camp recently, and so others were also arrested. Two men tried to escape on motorcycles and were shot. A vehicle and weapons were seized and relatives of one of the terrorists taken into custody.
The terrorist who killed Hallel and Yigal Yaniv is still at large, for all we know hidden right inside Huwara.
And I want to mention Huwara in one particular context here. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich made a comment after the terror attack, that Huwara should be wiped out by Israel.
This caused quite a furor. (Everything causes a furor these days.)
Smotrich was accused of having made a horrendous statement. But once again, I want to set this into context. It was not a prudent thing for him to have said, were he to have considered this before speaking. But he spoke from the passion of the moment. He had been driving on Route 60 and had gone through Huwara very shortly before Hallel and Yigal were killed. Then he learned about that attack. At one and the same time, I would guess, he was horrified about the deaths and realized that it could just as easily have been him who was hit. In great anger, he said what he did.
Then we had this response from Tom Nides, that unfortunate excuse for an ambassador:
“He is a fool. He has a flight to Washington, and if I could, I would throw him off the plane.”
In the end it was Smotrich who behaved like a grown-up:
“I’m not angry at U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, and I’m convinced that he did not intend to incite my killing when he said that they need to throw me off the plane.
“Just like I didn’t mean to harm innocent civilians when I said that we need to erase Huwara. People sometimes use harsh terms which they don’t mean literally to give a strong message. It happens to everyone.”
He said he made the statement in “the heat of the moment,” but was “discomfited by the need to clarify and that there are those who think that I support harming innocent civilians.” (Emphasis added)
Finally, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed this issue:
“It is important for all of us to work to tone down the rhetoric and lower the temperature. That includes speaking out forcefully against inappropriate statements and even correcting our own statements when we misspeak or when our words are taken out of context. (Emphasis added)
“That is why I want to thank Minister Bezalel Smotrich for making clear that…he is strongly opposed to intentionally harming innocent civilians.”
“While Minister Smotrich clarified his position, I am still waiting to hear a condemnation from the Palestinian Authority for the murder of the Yaniv brothers. And Israel is waiting for the international community to insist that the PA condemn that attack.”
In an allusion to Nides, Netanyahu said, “None of us are without mistakes, including foreign diplomats.”
If only Netanyahu’s attitude would be taken to heart within our country now. There are many – predominantly on the left – who seem perpetually on the verge of hysteria. Fighting to block proposed judicial reform that will allegedly destroy democracy, they have convinced themselves that anything goes. I find their over-the-top behavior inexcusable and believe that they represent a danger to our nation now.
Their true motivation is murky at best. And our enemies are watching.
I will take a closer look when next I write.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.