A few days ago, a father brought his daughter up on Har HaBayit (The Temple Mount). She is due to be married soon, and he wanted her to have this spiritual experience. His son, who does tours on the Mount, accompanied them. While they were up there, an Israeli policeman (who happens to have been an Arab) claimed to have seen their lips moving — which meant, to him that they were praying even though praying by Jews on the Mount is forbidden. He arrested them, and brought them down to the police station, where they were retained for some hours and pushed to sign something. The police did not treat the bride kindly.
This is not the first time such a thing has happened, but it is the first time I had an opportunity to speak directly with those involved, as they happen to be neighbors of my daughter, Sharon.
I have not completed my investigation of this, and in due course expect to have a great deal more to say (with a larger story to follow). But I wanted to mention this here, because this fits right in with the issue of the freeze. It is just one more way in which we indulge in self-abasement as we act to appease. (Appease Arabs, appease Obama.) That Jews should be unable to pray anywhere in our land is an outrage, but all the more so on our holiest site. Clearly, the police seek to restrict praying on the Mount because the Arabs (who have been led to believe they possess it) would riot and cause difficulties. But what a price to pay — diminishment of our national integrity — in order to avoid “difficulties.”
Last night a major rally was held in Paris Square (in front of the Kings hotel) in Jerusalem, in order to protest the freeze. Thousands — according to some reports it was tens of thousands — attended. (From inside the crowd where I stood, it was not possible to get a sense of the size of the crowd.) The Yesha Council, which helped to sponsor this, brought some 20 buses in from Judea and Samaria.
It is good to gather with others who feel passionately about the issue, and to show the world that there is determination to fight that freeze. (A branch of the American consulate is right down the street from Paris Square and undoubtedly a report went back to the White House.) The strong Zionist message, both from speakers and on signs that were born aloft, was two-fold: We are dedicated to continue building in Judea and Samaria, and we are furious with our prime minister, who has let us down.
MK Aryeh Eldad (Ihud Leumi) spoke with fervor about the disappointment with Likud, warning that it was the prime minister’s intention to create a Palestinian state in the midst of Israel. “Do you trust Netanyahu?” he asked the crowd, which yelled back, “No!”
MK Michael Ben-Ari (Ihud Leumi) declared that:
“The message from here has to be very clear. The Jews have been exiled enough!”
Danny Dayan, who heads the Yesha Council, stated unequivocally:
“We will continue to build the land. We say in a clear voice, we want to do it together with a Jewish government. But if the government is tired and does not have the power to stand up to foreign influence, we will push on without it.”
Making it clear he was not seeking compromise with regard to the freeze, he stated:
“We want the government to rescind the freeze.
“These are days when the heart is anxious. I want to tell you we are certain that we will win this battle.”
MK Danny Danon (Likud), held up the phone number for the White House and encouraged everyone to call and tell Obama to leave our communities alone.
While MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) reminded us that:
“[The battle] is a fight for Israeli sovereignty. It is a fight for us to determine our own fate and not cave to foreign demands.”
She recalled that 60 years ago, David Ben-Gurion declared that Jerusalem was Israel’s capital. After he made his announcement, the United Nations sent him a message saying that Israel’s was the only vote in favor of this.
Ben-Gurion responded that “our voice was the only determining voice.”
Ah, for such leaders today.
With all this, do I think it will cause Netanyahu to overtly reverse his policy? I do not. That is not his style. He may not stand tough elsewhere — in the fashion of Ben Gurion — but he plays tough politics. In a Likud faction meeting held before the rally, he let it be known that he intended to hold fast to his decision, saying it had already been cleared by the Security Cabinet (which he apparently referred to, strangely, as “the executive”). In response to pressure from MK Danny Danon, the prime minister said it wasn’t necessary to call for a vote on the freeze either in the faction or in the Central Committee of Likud, which is scheduled to meet later this month.
In point of fact, at a prior faction meeting Netanyahu had done a great deal to silence opposition, telling his party members that unity was essential. Do I understand the acquiescence? I do not.
But then, as the rally was proceeding, the prime minister’s office made a surprising announcement, sharing with reporters a map of “priority areas” in Israel. These are areas slated to receive preferential treatment in terms of developing education, employment, housing and more, with various ministries sanctioned to do spending. Included in these areas — which encompass about 25% of the Israeli population and about 40% of Israeli Arabs — are some communities in Judea and Samaria, primarily in the Jordan Valley, and including as well Ariel, Nili, Betar Illit, Itamar, and others. The reason given for the selection of these communities, most of which are not in the large settlement blocs, was security considerations.
Accusations that this was advanced now to mollify the demonstrators were fiercely denied. The claim that this project was months in the planning does not explain the timing of the announcement, of course.
Done to mollify those protesting the freeze or not, it certainly adds further to my bewilderment with regard to what Netanyahu intends to accomplish with the freeze. First announce a ten-month prohibition on building in Judea and Samaria, and then, following closely on the heels of this announcement, declare that some of the communities in Judea and Samaria where no housing can be built now will after the freeze be the recipient of special attention from the government. What is his audience, and what is he attempting to accomplish?
And then, there has been news of another sort that is vastly encouraging. A bill commonly referred to as the Jerusalem-Golan bill is being brought back to life for a second and third reading, in hopes it will be voted into law. What this law says is that no area within Israeli sovereignty can be transferred without approval by national referendum and by a majority of the Knesset. This would apply to Jerusalem and the Golan, but would also be relevant, for example, if it were to be suggested that we do a land-swap in negotiations with the PA, and let the Arabs have part of the Negev in return for retention of some communities in Judea and Samaria.
Before the vote can be taken, details must be worked out specifying how the referendum would be run. And there are a couple of “outs”: If a two-thirds majority of the Knesset passes a transfer of land, the referendum would not be required. As well, if the Knesset were to disband within six months a referendum would not be held.
However, this brings great hope that the ability of the prime minister and a small cadre of ministers to give away parts of our nation would be blocked. That over 80 members of the Knesset voted to consider the bills seems to suggest that it has a very reasonable chance of passing.
I cannot leave this subject without noting the reaction of Ehud Barak to the bill. It would, he lamented, make the world think we’re not interested in peace.
Well, his comment is just about enough to make me want to bang my head against the wall. But I wanted to share this because it illustrates the absolute perversity, the abominable cravenness, of the appeasing mentality.
I had not expected to mention the receipt today by President Barack Obama of the Nobel Peace prize. Saw little reason to do so, as it is an award devoid of merit. But his talk has caught my attention, and for the very first time I begin to see that there may be changes in him, as he has come smack up against reality. Wham!
What he has said in Oslo was not what he was saying right before and after he was elected, when he pronounced a new world, in which dialogue would win the day. Now he addressed the concept of a just war, saying:
“A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism, it is a recognition of history.”
“I face the world as it is,” he declared.
Now all we have to do is convince him that there is a war to be fought against radical, jihadist Islam at a global level, and that Israel is the canary in the mine with regard to this fight. Right?
My intentions were sincere when I indicated I would focus on particular communities in Judea and Samaria, as well as provide additional information on how to help. But other news items have intervened. Hopefully, this will be possible in the next few days.
As it is, we are approaching Chanukah — with the first candle to be lit right before the start of Shabbat tomorrow. There will still be postings during the coming week, but perhaps fewer than usual — as I’m off to light candles with family and indulge in latkes. (Note that in this I observe Chanukah as I always did in the US; I do not care for the donuts, the sufganiyot, that are eaten in Israel on Chanukah.)
And so I now wish Chag Sameach! to those who will be lighting those candles for eight days Hopefully over the holiday I’ll return to speak further about its implications.