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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 33 years. They lived in Kiryat Arba for 17 years and have resided at Beit Hadassah in Hebron for the past 14 years. They have seven children and many grandchildren.
Links to sites David recommends:
(others to be added)
Tammuz 25, 5770, 7/7/2010
NY Times Shocker: Colluding with Radical NGOs to Upstage White House Summit
Only hours before Israeli PM Netanyahu's White House meeting with US President Obama, the New York Times published a major story "Tax-Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank".
The report stated that US Treasury tax breaks have helped West Bank settlers to receive $200 million in tax-free funding from American donors and that it is actually easier to fund settlement outposts that are illegal under Israeli law through the US than Israel due to differences in the law.
The report pinpointed at least 40 American groups that have raised over $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlers in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem over the past decade.
The settlement enterprise is not a consensus issue even amongst Israel's supporters and we do not intend to address the issue here. However, we were suspicious of the timing of the release of this story. Did the New York Times deliberately set out to create a new bone of contention between Obama and Netanyahu to further strain relations?
Collusion by the NY Times?
More disturbingly, research by NGO Monitor and a number of bloggers reveals that the NY Times story is not the piece of investigative journalism that the paper would have you believe. In fact, the story bears an almost identical framework to a campaign launched by the radical left-wing Gush Shalom organization a full year ago.
In a confidential July 2009 memo, somewhat bizarrely publicly reproduced on an anti-Zionist blog site, Gush Shalom outlines a campaign that:
includes a combination of legal action and public advocacy aimed at denying federal tax exempt (501c3) status to US charities supporting settlement activity. Prioritized first will be organizations directly and openly supporting development and operation of illegal outposts and the Israeli NGOs associated with them.
Gush Shalom doesn't stop there however, targeting mainstream organizations such as the Jewish National Fund, World Zionist Organization and Nefesh B'Nefesh.
Of personal concern to HonestReporting is the targeting of what Gush Shalom refers to as:
a third group of US organizations -- those supporting policies enabling illegal settlement activity through propaganda campaigns. These include, among many others, groups such Stand With Us and The Israel Project.
The organizations mentioned above as well as HonestReporting of course seek to explain Israeli policies and to advocate on Israel's behalf in the face of a coordinated campaign of demonization and delegitimization. It is a far cry, however, from Gush Shalom's outrageous description of "American organizations actively engaged in undermining US foreign policy."
Double Standards and Selective Omission
We were also concerned at the double standards of the New York Times. The paper highlighted a number of non-profit organizations fundraising in the US for settlement causes, many of which are not regarded as part of the mainstream Israeli political consensus.
In light of the above evidence, it is not surprising that the NY Times chose, however, to pay lip service to the many radical non-governmental organizations (NGOs), both Israeli and Palestinian that have also taken advantage of US tax-deductions and federal tax exempt 501(c)(3) status to fund campaigns against Israel that the US government would also certainly not approve of.
The article notes that Americans who give to pro-Palestinian NGOs also receive tax breaks. It claims though, that the settlement issue stands out because of its centrality to the current negotiations. That explanation, however, ignores the fact that some pro-Palestinian NGOs are actively promoting a one state solution or working to delegitimize Israel internationally, undermining the peace process entirely and, with it, US foreign policy.
Addressing this very issue, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor commented:
Many organizations use US tax-exempt status to oppose Israeli government policy, and some are among the leaders of campaigns to demonize and wage political war against Israel. ...the article should not have been restricted to reflect a narrow and tendentious political position.
NGOs with 501(c)(3) status that promote anti-Israel agendas, demonization, and "one state" policies that single out Israel include:
International Solidarity Movement
Free Gaza Movement
Rachel Corrie Foundation
Palestinian Right to Return Coalition
Deir Yassin Remembered
Israel Committee Against House Demolitions-US
and a host of other radical groups.
Why has the New York Times become the politicized vehicle for an organization such as Gush Shalom? Has the NY Times willingly allowed itself to be the weapon in the opening salvo of a campaign that seeks to delegitimize not only charitable activities on behalf of Israeli settlements but even those mainstream organizations with US 501(c)(3) status such as HonestReporting that are involved in absolutely transparent and legitimate activities.
Is this why the NY Times failed to concern itself with the radical organizations mentioned by NGO Monitor that have made full use of their US tax-exempt status to attack Israel? Indeed, how much of the NY Times's supposed investigative journalism was merely fed to its reporters by representatives of NGOs pushing a politicized agenda that fits with that of the NY Times?
Tammuz 24, 5770, 7/6/2010
Yesterday was a triple-header. Three very different games.
Sometime in the afternoon I discovered an item on the internet which, on one hand sent shivers down my spine, yet on the other hand seemed quite fitting for the days and weeks of mourning approaching the 9th of Av. The internet item sent me to an article in the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot. There I read about the former commander of the Judean region, Col. Udi Ben-Mocha, who concluded his two year stint in Hebron a couple of months ago.
Commander of the Hebron Brigade is considered to be a very prestigious job, and also very stressing. It is also one of the key positions needed in order to achieve major advancement in the IDF. For example, two of the leading candidates to replace the present Chief of Staff of the IDF are former Hebron commanders.
It is quite normal for commanders, following the completion of their duty in Hebron, to be given a year of study at some important university outside of Israel. Ben-Mocha chose to spend his year, with his family, in London. According to the news accounts, his bags were packed and they were ready to take off. Except that at the last moment the IDF’s top brass decided to put the brakes on the colonel’s plans, and cancelled them. Why? Because they feared that following Colonel Ben-Mocha’s arrival in Great Britain he would be arrested and charged with war crimes.
What a disgrace! The ‘mighty’ state of Israel, and a leading officer in the IDF have to ‘fear’ left-wing, Arab activists, who might file charges leading to arrest, trial and G-d forbid, imprisonment in a foreign country. It’s a good thing that David lived 3,000 years ago and not today, for if he had his battle with Goliath occurred at now, well, it probably never would have happened. Israelite commanders would never have allowed him to enter battle, fearing the international repercussions if he happened to be victorious. It wouldn’t have made any difference that his victory saved the kingdom; rather, the international arrest warrant issued via Interpol would have taken precedence.
This guy, former naval commando, could be convicted for one reason only: According to British courts, an Israeli officer is, by definition, a war criminal. But then, I guess he’s in good company. MK Tzippy Livni and former chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon also had to cancel trips for the identical reason. The big question is, when will Israel put a stop to such humiliation, by, for example, threatening to arrest various English diplomats and businessmen in Israel, should our representatives there be put in the dock.
Well, that was the first event of my triple-header. The second was much happier and pleasant.
A few weeks ago, during one of my tours, a young man approached me, introduced himself as one of the group leaders and told me that in a couple of weeks he was bringing a Birthright group into Hebron – would I be interested in meeting them?
Would I be interested in meeting them? Birthright? Taglit? I looked at him as if he’d just arrived from the moon. Why such enthusiasm? Simple. Birthright’s been around now for a long time, and they’d yet to send a group into the city of the Forefathers.
But wait, what is Birthright – Taglit. Maybe some of you are unaware. The program was initiated about 15 years ago, and originally funded by Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, along with the Jewish Agency. The idea of the program was simple: get Jewish kids to Israel. Well over 200,000 people from over 50 countries have already participated. Just about all costs are covered.
The program has two names: Birthright, which is fairly self-explanatory. The Jewish people’s birthright is Israel. Nothing could be clearer.
What is then, Taglit? Taglit is the Hebrew expression used, but it does not literally mean birthright or roots. Rather, it means revelation. In Hebrew, l’galot, means to reveal – hence Taglit is revelation. And what a revelation it is. People who barely knew they were Jewish leave Israel after 10 days to two weeks with an added neshama – a new soul, (as it is written, a person who walks 2 meters in Eretz Yisrael is bestowed with a new soul (neshama, in Hebrew). And this new soul, much purer and holy than that that preceded it, leaves a real mark.
And even without being so spiritual, seeing Israel, feeling Jerusalem, experiencing the Jewish homeland, walking Eretz Yisrael, it’s a real eye-opener. I know. I remember. I went through it to. Not on ‘birthright’ – but it makes no difference. Israel has an effect on people. I never intended on living in Israel, being ‘religious,’ on marrying an Israeli and living in a place like Hebron. But here I am, 35 years later. Probably not all these kids with come back, but, you never know.
The group I had yesterday really was a first – the first time an ‘official’ birthright mission has come into Hebron. The kids were all from Australia, we didn’t have a lot of time, and they visited only Ma’arat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, but they were sure impressed and I’m sure it was a couple of hours they’ll never forget. Not because of me – rather because of the impression that Hebron, and such a magnificent and significant site as Machpela leaves on a person. I was ecstatic that birthright finally made its way to its own real birthright, and certainly hope this will lead to continued visits, allowing others to reveal the inner essence of their beings, here with Abraham and Sarah.
Their visit made my day. I spoke with some of the people on the group, saw the sparkle in their eyes, the radiance of youth soaking up a heritage they never knew existed. It was a wonderful time, and I really look forward to meeting other such groups.
So, that was my second part of our triple header.
After evening prayers I attended a short memorial program in Kiryat Arba for Rav Mordechai Eliyahu zt”l, the former Chief Rabbi who passed away a month ago. Rav Eliyahu was truly a holy man, a spiritual giant who walked among us. That’s important, because he didn’t walk above us, he walked with us.
Stories about this righteous man have floated around for years, but since he died, they’ve multiplied. This past Shabbat his son, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu wrote how his father prevented a couple from divorcing because of some stupidity. In order to make a point, the Rabbi had his secretary throw rotten fruit at him! But it worked. The couple lived happily ever after.
At the event last night four people spoke, including Hebron’s Noam Arnon. Noam told briefly about the Rabbi’s attachment to Hebron and his undivided assistance, whenever it was needed, at any time of the day or night. Rav Eliyahu frequented Hebron, participating in numerous public events, but also worked behind the scenes, assuring continued progress in all phases of Hebron’s communal life.
The first event was downright maddening.
The second was overtly uplifting.
And the third, profound.
So was yesterday’s triple-header in Hebron.
Today was quiet. We had only one guest – the Rebbe from Alexander – a Hasidic leader who is related to Menucha Rachel Slonim, granddaughter of the founder of Chabad, who is buried here in Hebron.
And who knows what tomorrow will bring!
With blessings from Hebron.
Tammuz 20, 5770, 7/2/2010
One of the questions I frequently hear, is: What's the security situation?
As Obama continues to pressure Israel into further concessions, in order to prepare 'direct talks' with our enemy, a.k.a. continued Israeli abandonment of Eretz Yisrael, a decrease in security and more dead Jews, it is important to know exactly:
How quiet has it really been?
This is a summary of terror activity in Israel for the first six months of 2010, as prepared by Yeshanews (Hebrew)
You judge for yourself.
6 people killed
2 critically wounded
9 moderately wounded
232 lightly wounded in terror attacks and fighting against terrorists
139 rockets fired
At the Gaza border fence 60 shooting attacks, bombs, missiles fired, and attempted infiltrations.
130 Arabs apprehened with knives. 22 admitted intentions to perpetrated a terror attack
25 mortars and 48 kassam missiles shot into Israel
1 killed (foreign worker)
2 people in shock
45 mortars and 19 kassam missiles fell inside Gaza
2-3 rockets shot at the Gulf of Eilat
1 discovered 70 meteres from the Almog beach
Terror at Gaza border fence:
2 soldiers killed
1 injured by sniper fire
1 injured in mine blast
The Israel Air force attacked 8 tunnels, 1 weapons factory, 4 terror bases, 4 munitions storage area, 3 terrorist groups shooting rockets,
12 terrorists killed and one critically injured.
3 terror infiltrations prevented
The marines killed 6 terrorists planning an attack from the sea
18 shooting attacks against soldiers
1 hand grenade thrown
8 Anti-tank missiles shot
12 shooting attacks against workers
1 attack against farmers
3 mines discovered
5 bombs exploded
1 'wagon bomb'
Knives and stabbing attacks:
103 Arabs arrested armed with knives
57 on their bodies
24 in vehicles
22 with other tools
1 killed by stabbing attack - Soldier Ihab Chatib, at the Tapuach junction.
1 lightly wounded in Netanya
1 terrorist killed
1 terror suspect shot and lightly wounded
A knife attack prevented - 2 terrorists killed
Bombs in Judea and Samaria:
38 bombs discovered
4 fake bombs discovered
Rock attacks and Arab violence:
218 injured by rock attacks and Arab violence
132 police and border police, 2 border police officers, lightly injured. 1 lightly-moderately wounded
12 soldiers and one officer wounded
56 civilians lightly wounded, including 3 children, one foreign tourist lightly wounded, 4 moderate and 3 treated for shock
2 civilians injured in auto accident due to rock attack, 1 wounded in accident due to rock barrier in street, 1 civilian by Arab violence in Southern Hebron Hills, 1 youth in Jerusalem, and a handicapped person by Arab violence during a car theft.
3 auto attacks-attempts to run people over, 4 people lightly injured
One policeman killed, 1 moderately wounded, 3 lightly wounded, 2 civilians and one guard lightly wounded
Killed and wounded in attacks and fights against terror:
3 soldiers killed, 1 killed by 'friendly fire' during terror operation, 1 policeman and one foreign worker killed
3 times ancient Jewish cemetery in Hebron desecrated via arson attacks.
23 gravestones destroyed on Mt of Olives
2 other attacks near Nevatim and Shefaram
Tammuz 18, 5770, 6/30/2010
Lenny Getz and I go back a long way. We met and lived together during the 1974-75 school year, while attending Hebrew University in Jerusalem on a one-year program. Later I was one of the 2 witnesses when he married his wife of about 33 years, Susan. And of course, I celebrated the birth of their triplets a few years later.
Well, today one of Lenny and Susan's daughters lives in Ariel (her name is Ariella), and last week she gave birth to her first child, a little girl. Her sister, Sharona, works with the ZOA in Florida, and the third of the group, Philip, edits a new Jewish Book Review magazine in NY.
Lenny's done many diverse things over the years, but one of the most important elements of his life is his work for Israel. Having been involved with the ZOA - The Zionist Organization of America - for years, (he lives near Mort Klein, president of the organization), Lenny is now co-president of the Philadelphia chapter, together with Marc Pevar.
Arriving in Israel for the birth of his first grandchild, Lenny today visited Hebron with Marc. Lenny's been here numerous times, but today I managed to catch him on my camera. The video isn't easy to listen to, with the background noise a little loud. But I decided not to stop rolling in order to allow others to hear what we have to put up with at least five times a day, from very early in the morning - 4:30 or so, until late at night.
It's also vital for people to be aware, first-hand, or perhaps in this case, first-ear, of what they too may have to deal with in their own neighborhoods, wherever they may be, anywhere in the world, if the spread of extreme Islam isn't stopped fast. (And please - don't think it couldn't happen to you!)
In any case, here is a short interview with the two men, outside Ma'arat HaMachpela, here in Hebron, for your viewing pleasure.
I will try to post at least one 'video blog' each week - a little change from the normal written essays and articles usually appearing in this slot.
In addition is another short video I received this morning - rather amazing and only 62 seconds - I enjoyed it very much and am sure you will too.
Tammuz 15, 5770, 6/27/2010
This period of time also represents the beginning of the end, as we approach the final days and weeks of the year, by the Hebrew calendar. This is also a time of introspection, usually accompanied by the word ‘Tshuva,’ which, loosely translated, is repentance. This, as we take up an accounting of the past year, both individually and collectively. How could we have acted better, both with our fellowman, and in our relationship with our Creator? Despite that fact that ‘officially’ this self-searching does not begin for over a month, actually it begins now. For our sages have taught us the reasons for the destruction of the two Temples: The first, due to idol worship, murder and adultery. And the second, caused by unadulterated, totally unnecessary, hate. In order to rectify these errors of the past, we must delve deep into ourselves, examining our own actions, trying to identify similarities to that behavior which brought about such destruction, spiritual and physical, and, if and when found, corrected.
As mentioned, this must be undertaken both individually and collectively.
How so, collectively?
To this, there are, I am sure, many answers from many diverse vantage points. I’d like to discuss one, which I believe is of the utmost importance.
Very frequently, when speaking with groups and with journalists here in Hebron, I find myself addressing the same issue: “What is the solution?” ‘The solution,’ of course, dealing with the continued war between Arab and Jew, be it in Hebron or throughout Israel. I’d like to present my answer, as repeated numerous, numerous times.
My response comprises several parts:
Of course, our enemies, our neighbors, must accept our legitimacy, our legitimacy as a people, and our legitimacy to live in our land, freely, as Jews. As of yet, this legitimacy is still denied us; they refuse to accept that Jews have any right to live in Israel; not only in Judea and Samaria, but in all of Israel, be it Tel Aviv, Haifa, or Beer Sheva.
This is nothing new. The Arab-Islamic rejection of Israel has existed from time immemorial. However, in order to reach any kind of ‘peace,’ this denial of Judaism and Israel must be changed, with the denial itself being rejected.
However, this is the least important element of the answer. Of course, one can rightly ask, how can this first objective be achieved?
Now we begin to touch on the essential issues, the first of which is that we, as a people, must accept our own legitimacy, our right to live as a people in our land. As surprising as it may sound, this self-legitimacy is not a given. In many circles this self-acceptance is rejected. I once debated a professor who declared that ‘if the cost of establishing the State of Israel was expulsion of any Arab people from their homes, then the State should not have been declared.’
This is, of course, very extreme. But it’s not too far from those people who question the Jewish right to Jerusalem, not to mention Hebron. There are many who really don’t know – perhaps it really ‘isn’t ours.’ Or perhaps ‘their right is no less than ours.’
This is reflected, here in Hebron, on an almost daily basis, when groups coming to visit, both Israeli and others, divide their days in half. Part of the day they spend with ‘Breaking the Silence,’ whose directors are infamous for having been responsible for involving Israel in Goldstone, having accused Israeli soldiers of war crimes during the last war in Gaza. Even Netanyahu brutally attacked them for their slander of Israeli soldiers. These people are not foreigners – they are Jews, Israelis, who have been accused by many of being traitors to their land and people, aiding and abetting the enemy. Only last week they ‘hosted’ in Hebron several Arab MKs, including Muhammad Baraka, one the most virulent Jew-Israel hating Arabs in the Knesset. Funded by the EU, Britain and other, this group has become a de facto ‘equal’ to the Jewish Community of Hebron. All groups, including Israeli pre-military academies wanting to hear ‘both sides of the story’ spend hours with them, as well as meeting with us. I’ve had to fight with numerous Jewish organizations who insist on ‘touring’ with Yehuda Shaul and Michael Menken, the two leaders of this group, this despite the lies and hatred spewed forth from their mouths. For example, how can one explain the photograph shown below, of Menken, smiling, shaking hands with Baraka, head of the Hadash, an Arab, anti Israel political party. Baraka was indicted four times, including for attacking police, but has not stood trial due to his Knesset immunity.
How is it that Jewish and Israeli organizations are willing to allow their youth to hear virtual enemies of Israel? What would happen to any American youth organization which insisted that, in the name of fairness and equality, their participants be allowed a few hours with people representing bin-Laden, in order to allow them to ‘hear both sides!?”
It is this very doubt, this craving for what seems to be, albeit only superficially, fairness, that is eating away at the very core of our being. Would parents allow their children to try ‘just a little poison’ in order to experience it?
This national doubt, which is expressed in such experiences, is a result of our inability to realize who we are, and where we are, summed up, perhaps, in realizing the source of our roots.
As a result, our enemies refuse to take us seriously, because we refuse to take ourselves seriously. For example, Anwar Sadat, speaking in 1972 said,” war is now inevitable. Whatever the price, whatever the sacrifice, we will not back down. We will not give up one centimeter of Arab land” http://soracel.net/israel.htm. Included in one centimeter of holy land was, of course, the sand of the Sinai desert. But, for Sadat, this was holy and not to be abandoned.
Closer to the present, I recall having read statements by Arab leaders to the tune that ‘if Israel is willing to give up any of its land, than they really don’t believe it belongs to them. For if they did believe it belonged to them, they wouldn’t think of abandoning any of it.’
In other words, the Arabs don’t think we’re serious. For good reason. We’re not serious. But not only because we are willing to divide our land and abandon major segments of it to our sworn enemies. There is an even better reason. If Jews really believe that this land, Eretz Yisrael belongs to them, then why don’t they live there? Why do they remain in other countries and not move to their land?
This too is a good question which expresses the lack of Jewish seriousness concerning Israel. It stands to reason that if we really did believe that this is our land, we would all be here. Hence, a simple conclusion – we don’t believe it’s our land; but some other ‘people’ does believe it’s theirs. And guess who wins….
In other words, if we don’t take ourselves seriously, why should anyone else take us seriously? We don’t know if it’s ours, and they do.
The solution – start to grow up and take life seriously. Today there are five and a half million Jews in Israel. The Arabs laugh. When there are 10 million, 12 million, they won’t laugh as much; neither will the rest of the world. It was easy to expel 9,000 Jews from Gush Katif. Had there been a population of 20,000, it would have been a different story. Ditto Judea and Samaria. Today’s numbers are not enough. The numbers today stand at over 300,000 with the highest percent of annual population growth in Israel. No surprise that Jews are expelled from buildings in Hebron, or building freezes stunt our growth. Because when 300,000 blossoms to 500,000 and growing, well, what are they going to do with us? The government still hasn’t figured out what to do with the thousands they uprooted from Gush Katif. What will they do with a half a million or more in Yehuda and Shomron?!
That’s the solution, and it’s up to us. When we do our thing, take on the responsibility, assuring that our neighbors understand that we really are serious, things will change. They won’t laugh any more. And they’ll understand that we’re not going anywhere fast. We’re here to stay.
Many years ago a journalist interviewed an Arab family adjacent to a Hebron Jewish neighborhood. The Arab said that he knew the Jews were here to stay. How did he know? He said that he saw the children, he saw their eyes, and he knew, we will never leave.
This is our secret weapon, our secret solution – this is our future - this is our answer to the three weeks commemorating the great destruction. This is the Tikkun, the rectification, repentance, tshuva, the return. This is Am Yisrael.