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May 1, 2012: Life and Death

May 1, 2012

We begin with life.  Most specifically that of little Zakkai, who has now successfully come through the surgery to remove that tumor from his thoracic cavity.  The surgeons are saying they removed all of it.  What is more, the aorta turned out not to be involved, which was a huge thing — although a couple of lesser blood vessels were affected.  This little boy is now recovering from an extensive procedure that involved such things as cutting the muscles of his chest.  The first update from his parents indicated that he was in pain, and having trouble breathing because of those chest muscles.  There is, however, considerable reason to believe that he will bounce back readily after an initial difficult period. 

Please G-d!  Keep praying until he’s all the way recovered.


Another life issue:  I’ve just received, once again, an appeal for a kidney for Enid Wurtman, who is likely to die unless she receives a transplant. Enid, mother of three and recently widowed, is well known for her extensive work for Soviet Jewry. Now she is in trouble.  If you have any interest in pursuing this huge mitzvah, or know someone else who might, you can read about her situation here: http://www.aish.com/jw/id/Saving_Enid.html and secure more information via Chaya Lipshutz here: KidneyMitzvah@aol.com.


And then, death… Benzion Netanyahu, father of the prime minister, passed away yesterday at the age of 102 and was buried at Har Hamenuhot cemetery in Jerusalem. 

"מי שלא מבין את ההווה - לא יכול לראות את הנולד". נתניהו (צילום: אבי אוחיון לע"מ)
Credit: GPO

Professor Netanyahu, an historian of considerable reputation, specialized in the Golden Age of Jewish life in Spain. A follower of Jabotinsky, he never abandoned his passionate Zionist/nationalist ideology.


Whatever one might say about Binyamin Netanyahu, I do know that he was a highly devoted son who visited his father frequently.  His pain at losing that father was palpable.


Netanyahu and wife Sara during funeral (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

During the eulogy for Benzion, he said:

“You father, never hesitated to face the trials that had befallen the Jewish nation and contribute to the nation’s defense. Two years ago, when you turned 100, I had the privilege…of telling you, while you were alive, how much I love you, how much I adore you. Dear father, how can I describe all that you have given Yoni [the brother who died at Entebbe], Iddo [a younger brother] and me?

“…You showed us the true meaning of commitment to state, and to family…

“Father, on this day that I say goodbye to you, I wish to tell you the same words that Yoni wrote to you 46 years ago: I have never told you how proud I am that you are the person you are and that I am your son.”


I found it of interest that the prime minister also described his father as a man who knew “how to identify danger in time” — a quality, his father said, “that our people lost while in exile.”  His father also taught him to “face reality head on” and “draw the necessary conclusions.”


Israel has been rife with political tensions over the several days, with threats from various quarters to take down the government.  Out of respect for the prime minister’s state of bereavement, however, there are actions, such as no confidence motions, that are being tabled, at least for the first week of mourning — the week of shiva.

Netanyahu had begun to talk about calling early elections before his father died, and the indication from some quarters (this is still speculative) is that the date may be August 4.  Quite simply, the prime minister is feeling secure right now, as polls show that Likud would garner a considerable percentage of the mandates, were elections held now.  And so, he figures that if there are going to be attempts to take his government down, he’d rather act at the time that is best for him. 


Can’t say that I’m sorry to see her go: Tzipi Livni — former foreign minister under Olmert, and head of the Kadima party (and thus head of opposition) until she was defeated by Shaul Mofaz in Kadima primaries on March 27 — has submitted her resignation from the Knesset.

Credit: foreignpolicy

I remember walking out on her when, as foreign minister, she gave a talk at a conference: I couldn’t bear hearing her explain that we had to give away part of our nation because keeping the world happy was important. 

She may yet reinvent herself as a member of another party, or start a new party.

I have no information as to who within Kadima will assume her seat.


Defying Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who is Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and reversing her earlier position, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently released funds for the PA in spite of the fact that Ros-Lehtinen had put a hold on the money.

As the Investigative Project explained:
“Ros-Lehtinen blocked the aid to stop U.S. funds going to assistance and recovery programs in Hamas-run Gaza; road construction projects in the West Bank that are not vital for security; or trade and tourist promotion.

“She was willing to release $88.6 million of the $147 million package under terms spelled out in a letter sent to Clinton and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah last month.

“But Clinton ignored those recommendations and unilaterally approved the full payment, in spite of an earlier statement indicating that Hamas would not be supported.



On-going flux in the dynamics between Mid-Eastern states…

— Against a backdrop of enormous Israeli-Turkish diplomatic tensions, Turkey, acting on information from the Mossad, has reportedly foiled an Iranian plot to target Israeli tourists and facilities.  As a result, the Israeli government reduced its warnings to Israelis traveling to Turkey to the lowest level; this is following earlier warning that there was an “imminent threat.”

— Information has now been released regarding the fact that some three months ago Egypt foiled an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Egypt.

— But just three days ago Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Egypt and closed the embassy and consulates in Egypt for “security reasons.”  This was because of protests in Egypt outside the Saudi embassy following the arrest of an Egyptian human rights lawyer in Riyadh.


In response to charges of “war crimes” by B’Tselem, the ostensible human rights organization, Israel’s Military Police investigated an incident in which 21 members of the al-Samouni family were killed during an IDF strike on Gaza’s Zeitoun neighborhood during Operation Cast Lead in 2009.

Major Dorit Tuval, the deputy Military Advocate for Operational Matters, has now informed B’Tselem that the case has been closed:

“…the investigation completely disproved any claim about deliberate harm to civilians, as well as haste and recklessness about possible harm to civilians, or criminal negligence.

“The operational circumstances of Operation Cast Lead, which was conducted mainly in highly-populated urban areas, had direct implications on the manner in which operational decisions were reached during the incident in question.”

In general terms, “the operational circumstances” refers to Hamas’s use of civilian human shields and its proclivity for launching attacks from densely populated areas.

Col. Ilan Malka, the Givati Brigade commander who approved the airstrike, has been completely exonerated.


© 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.



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