We are struggling with both here in Israel. Again. Still.
“Don’t let Yehuda’s blood be spilled in vain,” cried Shlomi Dimentman, amidst sobs, at the funeral of his brother on Friday. “…rebuild the Homesh settlement and not just the Homesh Yeshiva. The ruins here are a black stain on the State of Israel,” he told Prime Minister Bennett.
Yehuda Dimentman, HY”D (May Hashem avenge his death) was shot to death on Thursday night by terrorists who ambushed him outside of the outpost of Homesh in the Shomron.
Dimentman, 25, a student of the yeshiva in Homesh, lived in nearby Shavei Shomron with his wife and one-year old son.
As his brother so eloquently explained, he had chosen the path he did out of devotion for the land:
“As a young boy he chose to carry the banner of that struggle so he could bring us home.” [He came to the Homesh Yeshiva] “in rain, in the cold, in the scorching heat of summer. When time and time again they [the IDF] came to evacuate them – he sat and studied Torah, and prayed that the people of Israel would recover, that we would all return together to our homes, to our land, without fear.
“Yehuda did those things that were truly important.”
On Thursday night, Yehuda Dimentman had just left the yeshiva and was in a car with two fellow students, headed towards Shavei Shomron, when they were ambushed by terrorists who had been waiting for them. Some 15 bullets were fired into the car. Dimentman, who was shot in the neck, succumbed to his injury. The other two – Aviah Entman and Neria Feldman – were moderately injured and taken to the hospital.
Homesh was one of four communities in the northern Shomron that were evacuated as part of the “disengagement” (read “expulsion” – which should never have happened) promoted by then prime minister Ariel Shomron in 2005. Founded over 20 years ago, it was then a secular community settlement. After the disengagement, the area was left standing, isolated.
There have been frequent calls by Zionists for reestablishment of a Jewish community on the site. But the IDF repeatedly dismantled new buildings as they were erected. But for 15 years, with difficulties, the yeshiva has been operating on the land.
The funeral procession for Yehuda Dimentman took place on Friday morning. Many hundreds attended.
You can see a video taken at the funeral here:
Beginning in Homesh, where eulogies were delivered, the procession stopped at the site of the murder and then continued to Jerusalem, where Yehuda was brought to his final resting place in Har Hamenuchot Cemetery.
Said Rabbi Elishama Cohen, head of the Homesh yeshiva:
“Homesh will remain forever. Homesh will become stronger. The mark that Yehuda left on the yeshiva here will remain forever. Together we will grow, together we will develop. May we see the fulfillment of the verse, ‘For He will avenge the blood of His servants, inflict revenge upon His adversaries, and appease His land [and] His people.'” (Deuteronomy 32:43)
This was a predominate theme: The need to make the yeshiva stronger, to build Homesh. I have reported on this phenomenon again and again. It is a matter of great pride, a reflection of our values. In the face of terror, we Israelis respond with calls to build, so that those who lives were taken should not have died in vain.
Many political figures on the right – ministers and MKs – were present and spoke.
Here, from left you see MK Bezalel Smotrich, MK Itamar Ben Gvir (back a bit), and Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan.
Said MK Nir Barkat (Likud): “Yehuda fell as a warrior for the Land of Israel and the Torah of Israel…The goal of the terrorists is to expel us and make us afraid…so we need more settlement and to maintain an iron fist against terrorists. I will plan how to bring two million settlers here. That’s the answer.”
While MK Bezalel Smotrich (Chair of the Religious Zionist Party) declared: “He sent Yehudah to teach us, all of us, what we haven’t succeeded in doing to this day – return to Homesh. Increase the yeshiva. This is what will happen, with the help of God, even if we have not succeeded to date, it will happen.”
And then Shlomi Dimentman: “We will be here and we will risk our lives, the State of Israel should make sure that we live here in peace and tranquility. This is our country and we will not give it to anyone else.”
By this morning, Sunday, it had been announced that the terrorists who carried out this act had been caught.
Four terrorists were picked up by Yamam, the Police elite National Counter Terror Unit, and the Shin Bet in the village of Silat al-Harithiya not far from Jenin. It is believed that two of them did the actual shooting, and two assisted in this terror operation. The weapons that had been used in the attack were confiscated.
The captured squad is affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). But please understand that these terrorists – who will be tried and convicted in an Israeli court – will be entitled to lifetime “salaries” from the Palestinian Authority. That’s the same Palestinian Authority that people with air in place of brains insist is a “peace partner” for Israel.
This is according to PA law: the amount paid monthly will depend on the length of the sentence:
But as ugly as this is, it is not the end of the story, nor the end of our pain and anger.
We are currently coping with a large upswing in terror attacks from Palestinian Arabs, and in some cases Israeli Arabs. I’ve written about some of these attacks – the mother of five who was very recently knifed in the back in Shimon HaTzadik, and the murder in November of Eli Kaye.
There have seven attempts in Shimon HaTzadik to firebomb Jewish-owned cars. On Friday, when an Arab attempted to breach a fence in order to damage a car again, police intervened. The Arab threw something at a police officer, injuring him.
Then on Saturday morning, a Palestinian Arab woman stabbed an Israeli near the Machpelah in Hevron.
If I reported on every terrorist attack and attempted attack, I would be able to write about nothing else. So pervasive is the phenomenon now.
But what do we have to contend with from the left? Charges of a “problem” with “settler violence.” There are media sources that focus on this, rather than on the real violence, coming from the Arabs. Just as there are politicians doing the same.
The most egregious example recently was Public Security Minister Omar Barlev (Labor), who reported that he discussed “settler violence” with US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who was visiting Israel; she was interested, he said, in “settler violence” and strengthening the Palestinian Authority.
The fury from the right here was great, and very justified.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Chair of the Religious Zionist Party) let Barlev have it:
“Listen, I’m sorry for being blunt, but you are simply contemptible. Hundreds of thousands of heroic residents of Judea and Samaria absorb terrorism on a daily basis and have paid a heavy price, and you shed their blood with wretchedness and participate in a false and anti-Semitic campaign that defames them in order to look enlightened and please a bunch of hypocrites.”
Many others echoed these thoughts.
Of particular note was the comment of MK Itamar Ben Gvir (Chair of Otma Hayehudit, a faction of the Religious Zionist Party):
“Words can kill!” he charged. There is a direct connection between what Barlev did and the terrorist attack outside of Homesh. “Omer Barlev slanders Israel in the world and shamelessly attacks the settlers, the terrorists smell weakness, do not shy away and raise their heads.”
Many of us are very, very tired of what’s going on, and very angry.
See Jonathan Tobin’s piece, “Why the double standard on west bank violence?” (Emphasis added)
“To the casual observer of news from the Middle East, it would appear that the biggest story coming out of Israel lately is what some outlets are describing as a surge in settler violence against Palestinians…in this telling, radical Jews—motivated by nationalism-inspired hatred for Arabs—are guilty of numerous instances of stone-throwing and even shootings, along with so-called ‘price tag’ attacks in which Palestinian property is vandalized.
“The question we should be asking about the hyping of the threat of settler violence is not whether it’s true that a small percentage of residents in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria have engaged in confrontations with Palestinians…It’s whether the decision on the part of activist groups and some in the media to treat these incidents as emblematic of why it is wrong for Jews to live in the territories is justified, as well as why the focus on settler violence is almost always bereft of the broader context of what is going on in the West Bank on a far more frequent basis: daily attacks on Jews by Arabs, including murder…
“…there is something wrong if a few Jews throwing stones is considered far more important than the fact that attacks on Jews in the same areas is more or less the national sport of Palestinians.
“The double standard is what is outrageous…the subject here is not so much the conduct of the settlers as it is the delegitimization of Jews.”
And this is hardly the end of the injustice and the application of a double standard. It is time for Israel to have a government that is forthright in its dedication to Jewish rights in the Land. I will return to this, but mention here the speed with which so-called “illegal settlements” that are Jewish are dismantled by the IDF, while the government and the Civil Administration turn a blind eye to the illegal building going on by the PA, supported by the EU.
On the left, the fact that Jews are attacked in these communities is offered as “proof” that Jews shouldn’t be there. Yet in actuality, just the reverse is true – a growing number of Jews must be there, to stand in strength against the illegitimate violence.
In closing here I note the way the IDF responded after the murder of Yehuda Dimentman. Over Shabbat, dozens of yeshiva students from other yeshivas stayed at the site, to strengthen the yeshiva students at Homesh. In response, the IDF set up blockades overnight, blocking access to the settlement.
The students of the Homesh Yeshiva then erected makeshift buildings; in the morning, the police removed the students from the buildings.
Said Yeshiva dean Shmuel Wendy, “This is an inconceivable absurdity. It is simply a reward for terrorism. Instead of an appropriate Zionist response, the army wants to evacuate the settlement in response to the murder of Yehuda Dimentman. The people of Israel will not let this happen.”
Rosh Yeshiva (head of the yeshiva) Rabbi Elishama Cohen is calling for a repeal of the disengagement law.
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© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.