Inside Israel 5:16 AM 3/7/2014
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Life Lessons with Judy Simon
David Wilder was born in New Jersey in the USA in 1954, and graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a BA in History and teacher certification in 1976. He spent 1974-75 in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University and returned to Israel upon graduation.
For over eighteen years David Wilder has worked with the Jewish Community of Hebron. He is the English spokesman for the community, granting newspaper, television and radio interviews internationally. He initiated the Hebron internet project, including email lists of over 15,000 subscribers who receive regular news and commentaries from Hebron in English and Hebrew. David is responsible and continues to update the Hebron web sites, portraying various facets of Hebron, utilizing text, audio, video and pictures. He conducts tours of Hebron's Jewish Community and occasionally travels abroad, speaking at Hebron functions.
David Wilder is married to Ora, a 'Sabra,' for 35 years. They lived in Kiryat Arba for 17 years and have resided at Beit Hadassah in Hebron for the past 15 years. They have seven children and many grandchildren.
Links to sites David recommends:
(others to be added)
The abnormalities of Israel's current situation create domino aberrations, the likes of which, during any period of normal life, would never begin to be an issue.
I'm referring specifically to two concepts: the destruction of the homes in Migron, and the resulting 'price-tag' episodes, at Arab Mosques and at the Beit-El IDF base.
I speak of these as concepts rather than as events; they are both a conceptual approach to problem-solving. But, there should be no mistake: one is the result of the other.
Migron is, without doubt, a catastrophe of the highest order. Why so – it's only three homes? Migron comes directly on the heels of other major similar disasters, the most severe of which was Gush Katif. Hebron is also no stranger to black-uniformed forces, ominously reminiscent of eras past; stone-faced, then smirking, 'lawmen' belonging to the police, the border police and the IDF, using brute force against girls and women, separating mothers from their children, all dressed in pajamas, in the middle of the night, their belongs being tossed from a window by Arabs hired to do some of the dirty work, and then, finally, use of IDF bulldozers to plow down small family residences. As one of the young mothers cried, "Today was the first day of school - I don't even know where my children's school books are." When someone asked them where they'd sleep that night, one of the woman answered, "I don't know, I don't have anywhere to sleep, maybe we'll go to Tel-Aviv, to a tent, that's social justice."
They were promised: it wouldn't happen in the middle of the night; it wouldn't be a surprise. Lies, all lies.
It's not only what has happened, but how it happens, with a seeming appetite, a stark, sadistic pleasure at causing pain. Allowing Arabs to participate in such a feed-feast; one can only imagine their descriptive accounts to their family and friends. Permitting Arabs to assist in expelling Jews from their homes?!?!? Working for the police and the IDF? Disgusting is too pleasant a word to express the vulgarity of such behavior.
And this, before even discussing the anomaly of destruction and expulsion, destruction of Jewish homes and expulsion of Jewish, Israeli citizens, again.
It is only three homes, three families, coming on the heels of some 10,000 people, Jews, banished from Gush Katif. The big question is: what is next; who is next; where is next???
According to Itzik Wolf's article today in news1.co.il (Hebrew) (http://goo.gl/Px09R), the IDF and the 'Civil Administration' have already scheduled the next executions. By the end of the 2011 calendar years, three more sites are scheduled for capital punishment: Givat Asaf, next to Beit El, Ramat Gilad, in the Shomron, and several more buildings within Beit El. In March, 2012, the entire Migron community is to be put to death. Two other places are also on the chopping block, to be finished off within six months.
Who is the 'man with the black mask' pushing the button? None other than our very own Bibi Netanyahu, being pushed and shoved by Ehud Barak, with the tacit support of his ministers, including all the 'good guys' who supposedly are lovers of Eretz Yisrael. We didn't see any of them a few nights ago, while the bulldozers were plowing down houses.
Of course, the real problem with all of this is 'what's next?" A government as irresponsible as the present administration, with some experience under its belt, well, how much would it take to order the annihilation of Hebron's Jewish community, or Kiryat Arba, or Beit Haggai, or any other Jewish community in Judea and Samaria? Could they do it? Yes. Would they do it? That's a very good question, the answer to which I prefer not to put in writing.
So, that's abnormality number one.
The second: the reaction to this horror, today called, in Hebrew 'Tag Mechir' – meaning 'price tag,' meaning, if you do this, we are going to hit back. This too is an interesting concept.
I write the following in order to avoid being arrested and charged with incitement. As a rule, I don't believe in 'violence' as a means to a solution.' I'm considered to be one of the more 'moderates' here in Hebron. But a month ago, watching videos of the expulsion from Gush Katif, I couldn't help but wonder why massive force wasn't used against expellers. It didn't make any sense. And again, while watching a 10 minute clip (http://goo.gl/2yvsR) of the Migron migraine, there too, the obvious response to such barbarity was avoided.
For years, the left, propelled by the media, has discussed civil war, going back to the days of Yamit, thru Gush Katif. (Actually one can trace this history to the Altelena – see 'Brothers at War' by Jerold S. Auerbach.) Would Jews – 'settlers' take up arms against their brethren, as a result of forced expulsions and destruction? Of course, it never happened. Because people, just like me, even though they see it, live it and boil and broil inside, just don't do it. It's not the way we operate.
But – that having been said, what do they expect from us? We all saw the violence breaking out in Tel Aviv when the police came (with flowers) to take down the tents on Rothchild Boulevard. TENTS were the cause of violence against Israeli police. And what about houses, full communities, etc. etc. etc. Our 'leaders' expect us to sit back, or perhaps just lie down in the street, allowing them to bulldoze us over and be done with it?
Now, I'm not a great fan of wandering into Arab towns and burning down mosques, or painting graffiti on their walls. Not that they are are necessarily friends of mine; probably the contrary is more accurate. There's also an issue of cause and effect; what do those Arabs have to do with the viciousness of police and soldiers against their own citizens?
However, this week, the 'price-tag' policy took a wicked turn with the damaging of several jeeps, bulldozers and again, writing on the wall.
I saw an article (in Hebrew) saying that anyone who damages the IDF isn't a Zionist. Another article called such 'vandal's' terrorists.
I served in the army. I have two sons who have served in combat units. I fully believe that the IDF is an integral element of Israel. Not only for our security, but also for our national pride and esteem. For two thousand years we had no way to protect ourselves, defend ourselves. Now we do. Period.
But, when those same security bodies are turned against their own people, using their training, not against mortal Arab enemies, but rather, turning the tables, transforming normative Israelis into the enemy, as we've seen happen time and time again, well, something is going to break.
I'm not a big fan of destroying army equipment, but I'm even less of a fan of the scenes witnessed at Migron, and what very well might happen again, and again, and again.
To ask, or expect, people to sit back quietly, watch it, weep, and then go to sleep, is too much to ask for. The reactions to Migron are the minimum of the minimum. I agree, one hundred percent that they are not normal, and in any normal Israeli society, would never happen. And they shouldn't happen. Such perpetrators should be, and would be punished.
But what is happening at present is not normal. The IDF is preparing for a possible small war that may begin next week, as a result of the expected follies at the UN. And they have time to destroy Jewish homes, causing moral and motivation to plummet amongst certain sectors of the population? Scenes of black-uniformed officers, without nametags, screaming at young women and children, is not normal.
The price-tag policies, as problematic as they are, should be seen as a strong warning, a red light flashing on-and-off, as notice being given. If the powers-that-be really want them to stop, let them set the example: stop destroying Jewish homes and communities, stop expelling Jews from their homes, stop being pseudo-Zionists. Because, not as Emily Arusi wrote (http://goo.gl/579Uj) that anyone who touches the IDF isn't a Zionist, rather only a pseudo-Zionist can act as did the Netanyahu government at Migron.
"The goals, principles, and methods, as they are written in Chapter One of the charter, are the basic point of departure for our movement, and are part of the ideological and political identity of our people. They are also the identity of the movement and its fundamental charter, since they were the basis for the beginning of the Palestinian revolution of our time and for liberation from the imperialist and racist yoke..."
Fatah central committee member 'Azzam Al-Ahmad declared that the movement's charter remains as it was, without any changes.
He rejected the idea that the city's dire situation is the fault of Israeli settlers. "This has no connection to the settlers," he said... He also expressed hope for greater ties with Israel. "We want to cooperate with the Israelis
In Hebron's casbah, rocking the vote
While the PA hasn't held political elections in years, Hebron merchants recently voted for its chamber of commerce, with candidates stumping for more jobs and increased ties with Israel.
By Avi Issacharoff
Hebron - Starting Tuesday morning, Hebron's main street, Ein Sara, was intermittently closed. The traffic jams piled up to an unbearable level. Hundreds of people congregated at the entrance of the Al-Hussein School, waiting for the turn to go in.
It was an election day. Across from the school, booths were set up in support of candidates and party lists. Trucks plastered with ads for the leading lists traveled back and forth and above the street, dozens of banners with photos of the top candidates were hung.
It was a real festival of democracy. Hard to believe that the elections were for Hebron's chamber of commerce.
Two passers-by, Nidal and Fahed al-Qawasmeh, were engrossed in a discussion of the election results. "Hebron is the Palestinian economic capital," explained Nidal. "That's why the big to-do is here. It's a city of merchants and we want an improvement in the way commerce is run, we want more jobs and of course, closer economic ties to Israel."
When asked about the candidates' political affiliation, Fatah or Hamas, they immediately corrected the error. "After 20 years, there are elections for the chamber of commerce," Fahed said, "and it has nothing to do with Hamas or Fatah. This is the first time there are elections of this kind."
Surprisingly, they claim that even clan affiliation is irrelevant here. Candidates from all the big clans can be found on all the lists.
"We want new industrial areas, a fight against unemployment. We also expect Israel to ease more restrictions and enable us to build factories."
A moment before parting, they added their candidate is an independent, "Muhi a-Din a-Sayad. A-Nimr is his nickname. He is an independent candidate who tries to obtain Israeli transit permits for merchants."
Population wise, Hebron is the largest city in the West Bank, with nearly half a million Palestinians in the city and its environs according to the Palestinian Authority.
Ahmed al-Qawasmeh, an independent candidate whose campaign posters are everywhere, was sitting in one of the support booths opposite the school where the ballot boxes were concentrated.
He said immediate efforts should be undertaken to overcome the high unemployment prevalent in the area.
"The unemployment rate is 35 percent. The situation here is not easy," he said. Greeting visitors with a hug and a kiss, he did not seem pleased about what happened in the city surrounding the elections.
"There was exaggeration in the campaigns," he said, calling over his campaign manager to be present during the interview. "The Palestinian economy is in retreat. When there is a freeze in the diplomatic process, the situation regresses."
He rejected the idea that the city's dire situation is the fault of Israeli settlers.
"This has no connection to the settlers," he said. "The issue here is solely of economics and trade. We want to resolve the problems involved in gaining access to ports in Israel. We want to move beyond imports that are unrestrained and bring in cheap products from the east for a low cost and of much poorer quality than what we can offer." He also expressed hope for greater ties with Israel.
"We want to cooperate with the Israelis and put an end to the Palestinian problem," he said. "The Palestinian public wants a peace process and not a third intifada. The Arab nations have evolved, learned from their experience and there are many positions and opinions. No one wants a third intifada. Israel is the one interested in escalation."
Influenced by friends and relatives
Some 2,000 merchants registered in Hebron were eligible to vote and each one of them has relatives and friends who try to influence them. The path to the polling station passes through two columns of people handing out little slips of paper listing the candidates' names.
From the list of 38 candidates, 12 will be elected to the chamber.
At a nearby booth, Hian Badr al-Qawasmeh was trying to attract the attention of passers-by.
His list, Infrastructure and Development, represents the future of the merchants, he says.
"Everyone has an academic degree and speaks foreign languages. I speak Hebrew and French, and we want to help all the merchants in the city obtain a higher education," he said. "Our businesses are linked to Israel. We export goods to Israel and I have 15 agents there. My business has three businessmen from Israel and I'm a partner of theirs. We try to find solutions for the businesses in the casbah, for the problem of traffic congestion and the shuk which is flooded with poor-quality imports."
His father, Badr, taught Hebrew to immigrants from Arab countries at Ulpan Akiva in Netanya.
A special oversight committee monitors the poll booths in the school. Above the station where the ballot envelopes are stacked there is a camera that will provide a live transmission of their opening to the rooms where the candidates are sitting and they can observe the vote-counting process.
The monitors also assist those who are illiterate. Upon leaving the school, I came across a relatively older man, in a suit and tie.
"I'm Muhi a-Din a-Sayad Ahmed," he says in fluent Hebrew. "They call me a-Nimr, the leopard. I'm the only one who won in the elections 20 years ago and I'll win again. Then I ran as an independent and today, I am as well. I'll return to the chamber of commerce to improve ties, with Israel too. I have contacts from Rosh Hanikra to Eilat. The people in Hebron asked me to run and that's what I did. Today there will be a big surprise for the world. I will win big."
The flow of customers in the casbah, not far from the polling station, dwindles the closer you get to the H2 area under Israeli control. The merchants in the casbah are more embittered and talk unhesitatingly of a third intifada.
"The economic problems could lead to that," says Issa Balua. "There is disappointment with the economic and diplomatic situation. If there was an intifada in the Arab world, then why shouldn't there be one here?"
On Wednesday morning, the chamber of commerce election results were released. The leopard, Muhi a-Din a-Sayad Ahmed, won first place. He received 786 votes. In the West Bank, contacts with Israel are not always necessarily harmful.