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      Blessings from Hebron
      by David Wilder
      Personal Reflections on Hebron, Eretz Yisrael, Friends, Family and anything else that comes to mind.
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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 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:
      www.hebron.com (English)
      www.hebron.org.il (Hebrew)
      www.ohrshlomo.org (Hebrew)
      www.ohrshalom.net (Hebrew)
      (others to be added)

      Tammuz 29, 5770, 7/11/2010

      Av: Remember, never forget, Gush Katif - Five years ago

      Tonight begins the new month of Av, and with it, the next nine days of mourning, remembering the destruction of the two Temples, the Beit HaMikdash.

      It's not easy to mourn, to feel deep sadness for events that occured thousands of years ago. We never experienced the sanctity of the Mikdash, and, as a result, really don't know what we're missing. That makes mourning it difficult.

      However, our G-d has ways of helping us, whatever the situation might be. We might not be able to comprehend the magnitude of that loss, so HaShem gave us other events, not necessarily as great as the burning of the Mikdash, but serious enough to leave us with, at least, a minor impression of what really happened then.

      And so it was, that five years ago, we experienced a Churban, a destruction, an expulsion. Not implemented by the Greeks or the Romans or any foreign power; rather by our own people; an act voted on in the Knesset, initiated by the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, approved by the national Supreme Court and carried out by Jewish soldiers and police.

      This afternoon, during an interview, I said that the Jewish people waited 2,000 years to again have an army, Jews in uniform, able to defend themselves in the face of all danger. Yes, for Jewish warriors we waited, but not for those Jewish warriors to turn against their own people.

      This churban, this tragedy, may not have been of the same magnitude of the destruction of the Temples, but the impression that it made, the amputation of a limb of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael, an operation performed without any anesthetic, has left an open, bleeding, festering wound, which leaves us with, perhaps, a mild idea of what happened to the Jewish people two thousand years ago.

      It assists us to mourn, as we will for the next nine day, culminating with the Tisha b'Av fast.

      Just as we remember the destruction that happened thousands of years ago, so too must we remember that which occurred five years ago. I cry when I see photos of the destruction, but my heart breaks when I view Gush Katif, the Garden of Eden of the south, as it was, before the destruction.

      The following seven minute movie is composed of 160 pictures that I photographed in Gush Katif, mostly of ordinary, everyday life, excepting the last few.

      I wish I could say enjoy, but I'm sorry, I cannot. But I can hope and pray that we will learn from our errors, that we will never, ever, with our own two hands, perpetrate such a crime as was committed five years ago, and that our mourning should be transformed into joyous celebrations, as we witness the rebuilding of Gush Katif, Jerusalem, the Mikdash and all Eretz Yisrael, as fast as is humanly possible.

      Tammuz 25, 5770, 7/7/2010

      NYTimes-Radical NGO cooperation during Netanyahu visit?

      Gush Shalom doesn't stop there however, targeting mainstream organizations such as the Jewish National Fund, World Zionist Organization and Nefesh B'Nefesh
      From Honest Reporting


      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:

      Electronic Intifada
      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

      A Hebron Triple-header

      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.
      Part three

      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

      How quiet has it really been? A 6 month terror summary

                                 Arab 'policeman' in Hebron


      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


      Rocket/Missile attacks:
      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.

      Auto attacks:
      3 auto attacks-attempts to run people over, 4 people lightly injured

      Terror shooting:
      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

      Cemetery desecrations:

      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

      VideoBlog: Len Getz&Marc Pevar-ZOA Philly co-presidents

      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.