April 9, 2023
The Joy, the Anguish and the Outrage!!
The joy, my friends, is the holiday of Pesach: a highlight of our year, with the gathering of family and friends and the ritual recounting of the Exodus. We are reminded once again of the fact that we are in the hands of the Almighty. From Egypt to the Land of Israel, where we are meant to be.
We must not, we dare not, diminish the gladness and the meaning of this important time. The determination to honor this celebration and its significance, no matter what else prevails, is magnificent.
In my posting before seder, I shared a video of a prayer for the peace of Israel. Now, below, I return to my traditional favorite, Vehi She’amda, which speaks to us loudly as well.
And so, there was joy last Wednesday night, as we came together for the seder, and observed the holiday on Thursday.
Often there is a terror attack on that first day of Pesach. It seems to be a loathsome part of the Palestinian Arab “tradition.” And so, when I checked the news Thursday night, I was relieved to see there had been no terror attack, and no Jewish deaths or serious injuries.
But this hardly meant that the situation had remained quiet. Quite the contrary:
On Thursday afternoon, 34 rockets had been launched from south Lebanon into northern Israel. Twenty-five were intercepted by Iron Dome.
Five rockets landed in Israeli territory, causing relatively minor injuries from shrapnel; there was damage to some buildings.
This was the largest number of rockets to be launched from Lebanon towards Israel since the war with Hezbollah in 2006. The IDF determined, however, that it was not Hezbollah that had launched these rockets, but Hamas, which has been establishing a presence in Lebanon. One report said the rockets were fired from a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. Obviously, this could not have happened without a nod from Hezbollah, and, we can assume, from Iran.
Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh is in Lebanon now, and has met with Hassan Nasrallah, head of Hezbollah. A Hamas delegation accompanied Haniyeh; it included Saleh al-Arouri, a founding commander of Hamas’s military wing and the individual thought to be responsible for the current Hamas rocket attack.
Israel retaliated with attacks on Hamas sites in Lebanon; Hamas in Gaza then launched rockets into southern Israel and the IDF retaliated against Hamas infrastructure there.
The attack by Hamas followed confrontation a day earlier at the Al Aqsa Mosque on Har Habayit between Israeli police and violent troublemakers:
“At least 350 people were arrested in the early hours of Wednesday morning at the Temple Mount compound after hundreds of rioters barricaded themselves inside Al-Aqsa Mosque with fireworks, rocks, and other projectiles.
“Hundreds of masked young men locked the doors of the mosque and placed heavy objects blocking the entryways late Tuesday evening, sparking police concerns that they would use their stockpiled weapons to attack Jewish visitors to the compound the next morning.
“Police entered the mosque after midnight to clear the area after repeatedly asking people to clear the site; they were met with hurled objects and fireworks launched in their direction. Social media footage showed fires raging inside the mosque, which were likely sparked by the rioters’ fireworks.”
You can see videos here of the violence and the destruction within the mosque left in its wake:
Picture is of an Israeli security officer arresting a rioter on the Mount:
King Abdullah of Jordan was asked to assist in calming matters, as Jordan controls the Wakf. He refused to intervene.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry condemned the arrests, accusing “the occupation police” of “storming of the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque and assaulting it.”
This is the way it goes, time and again, my friends. Arabs desecrate the mosque or bring weapons into what is supposed to be their holy place, and when Israeli security forces move to ensure peace, they are accused of causing the trouble.
We must be grateful that the exchange of rockets did not escalate into the nightmare of a major multi-front conflict. It is highly doubtful that either Hamas or Hezbollah is prepared to incur the damage that would be inflicted on them by Israel in such a conflict, but neither does Israel intend to head in that direction now. Israel’s intention is to inflict sufficient damage to discourage further action.
From late Saturday night through this morning (Sunday) six rockets were launched from Syria into the Golan Heights. There were no injuries as the rockets landed in open areas.
Israel utilized a drone strike against the launchers that fired the rockets into Israel and subsequently a fighter jet hit a military compound in Syria.
Sadly, sadly, however, this reportage above does not mean there was no terror attack. It came on the second day of Pesach, instead of the first, but it came – and it was obscene.
Maia Dee, 21 (left below), and her sister Rina, 15, of Efrat in Gush Etzion, are dead.
They were traveling towards a holiday destination in a vehicle with their mother, Lea (Lucy), 48, and were in the northern Jordan Valley, on Route 57 near Hamra junction, when they were attacked. At first it was thought there was a serious car accident, as their car had veered off the road and turned over.
It was quickly determined, however, that the car veered because it had been shot. The terrorists then brought their car closer to the Dee car and shot several more times. Twenty casings were discovered on the ground.
Leah Dee is in critical and unstable condition. She is on a respirator and has undergone surgery.
Please pray for her complete recovery: Leah bat Tziporah.
The family, originally from Britain, came to live permanently in Israel in 2014. (They had been here earlier but returned to Britain for six years as emissaries.) The girls’ father is Rabbi Leo Dee; he was in another car with other family members, ahead of the car that was attacked. He circled back when he learned of the attack.
Three children survive.
The terrorists are still at large, although I believe their car has been found.
The funeral was today (Sunday). Thousands attended; the entire Efrat community is with the family. Many words of praise for the girls and their whole family were spoken.
Because they were killed together, they were buried together one on top of the other.
A full video of the funeral is here. See perhaps the beginning:
And still we are not done. Later on Friday evening there was yet another terror attack, this one a car ramming in Tel Aviv.
Italian tourist Alessandro Parini, 35, a lawyer from Rome, was killed.
Seven others, all tourists, were injured.
The terrorist, who was shot by a police officer who saw him getting out of the car with a gun, is an Israeli Arab from the Arab town of Kafr Qassem in the Triangle northeast of Tel Aviv. Until last year he had worked as a janitor in an Israeli middle school.
I turn now to the final issue for this posting – an issue so complex and so deep that I know I will have to come back to it, likely many times. I can only bring it forward here. The is an issue that I and many of my associates wrestle with, lose sleep over:
Security is Israel’s number one concern. It must be.
But how do we reconcile action on behalf of that security with the current political turmoil in the country?
Ostensibly the judicial reform legislation as proposed by the elected right-wing government has torn apart this country, as the left-wing maintains it will destroy democracy. That this is not so has become beside the point – there are those who have adopted an anti-reform stance and believe it to be so. Passionately.
Of course, there is a great deal more going on: anti-Bibi sentiment, a refusal of the left-wing to lose the control they have had for so long, etc. These are very likely the overriding concerns of the left. I have already addressed the support the protest groups are getting from progressive groups in the US eager to remake Israel society.
There have been some horrendous statements made by leaders of the opposition – although Lapid and Gantz both made appropriate statements about standing with the government when rockets were launched from the north last week.
At the same time, those who demonstrate by the tens of thousands have maintained they will continue to do so. They declared their intention to continue even after the prime minister called a delay in passing judicial reform legislation and efforts were begun to negotiate a compromise. That is, they are not interested in compromise – they want to win, which means taking down or severely weakening the government. They were out there in the streets last night even after the rocket launchings.
Because we ARE a democracy, we cannot ban the demonstrations. But there have been warnings about the fact that what is going on creates an impression that Israel is divided and thus weak. This invites attacks by our enemies, who are watching everything.
After this past week, I suspect there are very few who would argue with this.
I deplore what these self-declared defenders of democracy are doing to our nation. They have a great deal to answer for.
The question, then, is how to resolve this situation, when the mobs in the street appear to be unwilling to compromise. The right-wing government cannot simply cave to all demands. For to do this would be to truly weaken or destroy Israel’s democracy. It would be a situation in which the street mob ruled. Having won once, they would come back for further victories.
Would putting a temporary hold on all judicial reform legislation bring us a period of quiet and apparent unity? I cannot answer. Nor do I know what our government will opt to do. As matters stand, either a compromise is reached – or close to being reached – by May, when the Knesset comes back into session, or the legislation, as it is, will pass.
These are not idle or theoretical questions. Our enemies are watching, and we must, must project strength.
What will it take for the left to wake up and see the dangers to our nation?
Read Ruthie Blum’s very disturbing piece on this subject: “Even an anti-government advocate’s reasonable request for a security-related pause in the protests is rejected by fellow activists.”
A tweet was put out by Maj. Gen. (res.) Tal Russo urging fellow anti-government activists to refrain from demonstrating the following evening:
“In light of the difficult events throughout the country, security and police forces are on high alert and deployed in central locations from the Gaza Strip to the northern border. I therefore call on my comrades-in-protest against the coup to cancel tomorrow’s countrywide rallies. The situation demands it!”
“This tweet is a disgrace,” commented one proud demonstrator, Costa Black. “You’re a disgrace. Shame on you! Who are you? Who gave you the authority? Idiot! The protest is the only hope to save Israel!”
Sure enough, Russo caved in face of this criticism. He not only showed up at the rally Saturday night, he was seen embracing Black.
Rabbi Leo Dee, the murdered girls’ father, touched upon these matters in his eulogy:
“Today, the Jewish people have proven that we are one. When a family in Efrat hurts, we all hurt. There is no clearer proof of our unity, Am Yisrael Chai. We have been marching through the streets of Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv with Israeli flags, arguing over whether there should be a majority of 61, 65, 70, an override clause, or no override clause, in the Supreme Court, let’s be honest, most of us have no idea what any of this means. But in three weeks’ time in Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut, we will once again be marching side by side, all of us carrying our Israeli flags, left-wing next to the right-wing, religious next to secular, uniting against the real threat, the threat of pure evil the threat of a mad ideologically driven terrorism funded by Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, with the Kalashnikov rifle, who doesn’t care if you’re from Efrat or Tel Aviv, London or Italy. Who’s prepared to destroy your children’s lives in an instant, and then we will all march as one.”
How fervently I wish him to be correct. This is how it should be, but…
On Monday there will be a massive right-wing demonstration, cleared with the police and IDF, to Evyatar as a protest against terrorism:
And now my friends, Vehi She’amda, sung by Yaakov Shwekey and Shlomi Shabat:
And this (the promise) is what kept our fathers and what keeps us. For, not only one arose and tried to destroy us, rather in every generation they rise up to destroy us, and Hashem saves us from their hands.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.