As you come to the end of this posting, you will discover the upbeat inspiration for its title.
But here, at its beginning, I share a “good news” piece that is bitter-sweet. It could not be otherwise. Yet I count it as very much good news: it is a celebration of life, and strength and perseverance:
Roee Fogel, whose mother Ruth, father Udi, and three of his siblings, Yoav (11), Elad (4) and Hadas (3 months) were murdered in their home in Itamar in 2011, celebrated his Bar Mitzvah last Thursday. In the picture below you see him at the Torah, during the service at the Kotel. He was joined for the event by family – including two siblings who survived with him and his grandparents who are raising him – friends and many counselors and friends from the OneFamily Fund.
Everyone then moved on to a celebratory breakfast. Roee gave a moving speech to all gathered, which included these words:
“When you don’t think of yourself as just being part of a family but as part of the whole Jewish people, then you’ll never be afraid of any challenge. We have to carry on as a strong Jewish nation.”
Terrorism. For a while there appeared to be a lull in the number of attacks that were taking place – or at least successful attacks, as many terrorists were stopped in time. I had hoped to be able to write about that lull in this posting. And so it is with a deeply heavy heart that I must write just the opposite:
Late Sunday, in the town of Otniel, in the Har Hevron region of Judea, a terrorist broke into the home of Dafna Meir and stabbed her to death. She was the mother of six children – the first four from 10 to 17 years in age, and then two younger brothers, adopted.
Three of her children were home at the time of the attack; her 17-year old daughter witnessed it and called for help.
Dafna, who was a neurosurgical nurse at Soroka Medical Center, is described as a having been a very joyful and giving person. She is said to have put up an heroic fight – attempting to protect her children – before succumbing to her attacker, who fled.
The terrorist managed to escape on foot, and the army and Shin Bet jointly launched a manhunt for him in the Hevron Hills area.
Channel 2 screen capture
Overnight, last night, he was apprehended. A sixteen year old (imagine!) identified by sources as Morad Bader Abdullah Adais.
“He was arrested by soldiers from the elite Duvdevan unit in the village of Beit Amra, some three kilometers (1.8 miles) from the scene of the attack, reports said. Residents of the village where Adais was hiding out apprised security forces of his presence there, allowing the arrest to proceed without resistance, Channel 10 reported.” (Emphasis added)
After what happened in the north, I consider the fact that the residents of Beit Amra turned in the terrorist good news.
Dafna Meir was buried yesterday in Jerusalem.
Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90
How many times will there be innocent Israeli Jewish children mourning? Bereaved for no reason other than that they are Israeli Jewish children.
Dafna’s husband, Natan Meir, spoke movingly at her grave:
“We met as soldiers, on the border with Lebanon. It took us a moment to fall in love…I said to you then, ‘Welcome.’ I say to you now, ‘Farewell’…
“You left me with six treasures, I will keep them safe for you…
“Dear [Almighty] Father, I have no second thoughts about you at all, give us strength, be present at our home, let us feel your warm embrace, your love…
“Dafna had a large crown: the crown of truth…and this truth has now been thrown to the ground, it has burst into smithereens.
“I request that everyone who came out here, pick up something from the light that was spilled on the ground, so that truth may spring from the earth.”
Oh how this world needs truth. Even if you weren’t at the funeral, along with some 1,500 mourners, pick up something of that light, as it were, and spread words of truth.
There will not be much in the way of reports in the mainstream media about the cruel death of Dafna Meir at the hands of an Arab terrorist. And so share this information widely because people need to know.
Share something else as well: Tell people of the nobility of Natan Meir, grieving his wife’s death, who spoke of love, and care for children, and sustained faith. Without a call for violence or a word of hatred.
I doubt that the world much cares about such nobility. But tell it anyway, because it is truth.
Sunday night the Har Hevron Regional Council barred the presence of Arab workers in the local communities for Monday. Similarly, on Monday, the commander of the Etzion Brigade of the IDF banned all Arab workers in Gush Etzion.
It is not clear what the duration of these orders – a response to multiple attacks and attempted attacks – will be.
Yesterday morning, there was another attack, this one in the community of Tekoa, in Gush Etzion:
Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90
Michal Froman, who is pregnant, was stabbed in her upper body. She is in stable condition and, thankfully, the fetus was not harmed. Michael is the daughter-in-law of the late Rabbi Menachem Froman.
I want to return for just a moment to the issue of the “transparency bill” that is headed towards a vote in the Knesset. I had written that it would require members of NGOs who receive more than 50% of their funds from foreign governments to wear a badge in the Knesset declaring this fact. As I now understand it, while this has been suggested and alluded to in press reports (and might yet be incorporated into the legislation), as the draft now stands it is not mentioned.
I share here a link to an excellent article about this issue by attorney Jan Sokolovsky that provides solid details:
And then I want to return, as I said I would, to the matter of foreign governments or their representatives who intrude themselves into our affairs, comment when they should not, and attempt to manipulate our situation to their liking. Who would deprive us of our right to manage our own affairs, weakening our sovereignty.
In point of fact, there is so much taking place with regard to this, that it is difficult to know where to begin.
Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, once again proved herself to be a thorn in our side last week. During a parliamentary debate, she declared that Israel may be guilty of “extrajudicial killings” of Arabs in response to terror attacks against Jewish citizens: “It is vital that there is a thorough, credible investigation into these deaths in order to clarify and bring about possible accountability.”
She didn’t, you will notice, call for an investigation of the PA for its incessant and hateful incitement, which has been spurring the terrorism. Nor did she express concern for the innocent Israelis who have been wounded and killed. But she presumed to judge Israel, as we respond to murderers.
Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) retorted that an investigation should be conducted instead on “how a woman who so bluntly hates Israel was elected, and still holds the role of foreign minister of Sweden.”
Subsequently, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely let it be known that Swedish diplomats were unwelcome in Israel.
Writes Noah Feldman on this issue of Wallstrom’s charges (emphasis added):
“Before the Swedish parliament, Wallström referred to ‘the…importance of the principles of proportionality and distinction.’ Proportionality and distinction belong to the body of international law governing the use of military force in wartime against combatants.
“But these principles don’t apply to domestic police arrests of civilians committing violence, like the stabbers in Israel…
“…the legal standard is that police “may only use intentional lethal force when it is clear an individual is about to kill someone and cannot be detained by other means.”
“…Wallström went out of her way to emphasize that “21 Israelis and 100 Palestinians were killed in connection with knife attacks, acts of violence, demonstrations and clashes.” The numbers are legally irrelevant.
“That also makes moral sense. Police making arrests aren’t morally or legally obligated to allow innocent people to die in order to balance the number of deaths of criminal attackers. Effective police are supposed to save the innocent and subdue the attackers, by lethal means if necessary.”
Recently, it was exposed by the Israeli NGO Regavim that a road was being constructed illegally by the PA in Area C, which is under full control of Israel. It was part of the ongoing attempt to co-opt Area C, and it was proudly funded by the EU.
The Civil Administration seized construction equipment, but the work continued. Regavim sought an injunction in the High Court, and I’ve been informed that the work is being stopped.
Funding of this road is one very small part of what the EU underwrites illegally in Area C. At a recent meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s subcommittee on Judea and Samaria, MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) said that the EU spends roughly $120 million per year on supporting illegal PA building.
See a video of a statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu regarding the EU funding of illegal construction in order to create political realities, and the tendency of the EU to single out Israel for treatment not accorded other democracies. It includes photos of that EU illegal construction:
Netanyahu calls here for a “reset” of Israel’s relationship with the EU, but as you will see below, the situation with the EU has further deteriorated.
Yesterday evening, the EU passed a resolution stipulating that all agreements between Israel and the EU not apply to any areas over the 1949 armistice line, which they refer to as the “1967 border”:
“The EU expresses its commitment to ensure that – in line with international law – all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”
This followed intense diplomat efforts by Israel to forestall this EU action. And Israel is now furious. The EU is prejudging a situation (assuming Israel has no rights in any of Judea and Samaria), when this has not been determined.
I cite here in its entirety the statement on this issue put out by Legal Grounds, which I co-chair with Jeff Daube (with emphasis added):
“…Legal Grounds says the expected EU decision distinguishing between Israel proper and the territories it captured in 1967 ‘violates the legal rights of the State of Israel and constitutes a blunt violation of the principles established in the Oslo Accords, to which the EU is party in its position as witness. It seems the EU cannot serve as honest broker in the foreseeable future.’
“[Legal Grounds], working to establish Israel’s rights according to international law, strongly condemns the decision, which, it says, lacks any legal basis.
“’The line called the 1967 line is nothing more than the armistice line of 1948. The EU is certainly aware that the ceasefire agreement signed in the Greek island of Rhodes in 1949 clearly maintains that the line “in no way constitutes a political or state border.”’
“The EU has chosen to ignore Israel’s preferential position as claimant to the territory, which according to international law is considered ‘disputed.’ Furthermore…the European Union is violating its role as witness of the implementation of the Oslo Accords which contain a basic principle according to which the question of borders will be decided solely by negotiations.’”
Lastly here I mention the offensive statement of US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, made at “a high-profile security conference Monday, a rare public rebuke.”
“He alleged that Israel restricts Palestinian economic development in the PA-run territories and bemoaned what he called an inadequate response to ‘settler’ violence.
“’Too much vigilantism goes unchecked, and at times there seem to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.’”
The government of Israel is enraged by these distortions (and others included in Shapiro’s remarks). What Shapiro said – which undoubtedly reflects the direction that Obama intends to take in his last year – is enough to raise the blood pressure of anyone who understands what is going on in Judea and Samaria with the PA.
As to “restricting Palestinian economic development,” it is the exceedingly corrupt PA that does this. Israel actually fails to act in her own best interest fiscally with regard to the PA relationship. We continue, for example, to supply electricity to PA areas in spite of an astronomic bill that has not been paid, and part of which is being forgiven.
But far more outrageous – obscene – is talk of “settler violence” at a time when residents of Judea and Samaria are victims of ongoing Arab violence, and endure death, injury, and an environment that is continuously stressful. Many of those residents feel, correctly or not, that the IDF has not done enough to protect them. I cannot share here what I would like to say to Shapiro out of concern for my professionalism as a journalist.
And then there is the charge by Shapiro that Israel has two standards of adherence to the law, “one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.” Actually, there is some truth to what he says, except that he has it exactly backwards.
Jewish non-authorized building in Judea and Samaria is demolished much more quickly than is the blatantly illegal EU-funded Arab construction in Area C. Those of us who monitor the situation with concern for Jewish rights have seen again and again situations in which there was a question about Jewish ownership of a property – a question, resulting from Arab claims, that that had not yet been definitively answered – and the housing on the property was taken down.
But the illegal Arab building? It has been necessary to publicize this building, to petition the courts, because the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria – while now improving its stance! – has been habitually slow to respond for reasons of political correctness. Because the world is watching and won’t like it (which is something Netanyahu alluded to in his statement in the video linked above).
One must hope that the outrageous claims against Israel will stiffen the backs of her leaders. I tend to believe so, and thus see that there may be a silver lining in the international policies and accusations.
When the world is behaving with relative moderation concerning Israel, there is the inclination, however misguided, to step carefully so as not to ruffle feathers.
But now it is clear that we cannot win no matter what we do. Israel will not find justice in this world.
And so it’s time to stop worrying what the world thinks and act unequivocally in our own best interest. Nurture appropriate ties with other nations – absolutely! Netanyahu is doing a great deal with regard to reaching out to nations in the east, and, quietly, to Sunni Arab states. Make our case forcefully and coherently at all times. Indeed!
But act as we need to act, for our own sake.
Yesterday was Martin Luther King day in the US. Dr. King was a great supporter of Israel, and a friend to the Jews. I close with a delightful joint musical tribute to him, “Shed a Little Light”:
“Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope”
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.