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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)

      Shevat 3, 5769, 1/28/2009

      Farewell Israel - for free in Friday's Jerusalem Post

      I cannot overemphasize the importance of this DVD. It's a little long, but worthwhile every moment. View it - I warn you in advance, it is very scary, and then make sure others see it too. Screen it to at your local community center, synagogue, church, wherever. Then, try to convince your senators and representatives to watch it too.

      This Friday, you can receive it for free in the Jerusalem Post.


      Shevat 2, 5769, 1/27/2009

      American Olah Hadasha does national service in Hebron

      This is what 'Zionism' is really all about. Watch here and on the Hebron web site for more video features from Danielle Rothman.




      Tevet 28, 5769, 1/24/2009

      ZOA Concerned: Mitchell Blames Both Sides Equally




      The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed concern over President Obama’s appointment of George Mitchell as his Mideast envoy dealing with the Arab war against Israel. It’s surprising that Obama would appoint Mitchell since, as Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post said, “The Mitchell Plan of 2001 was a flop. Why try the Mitchell approach again?” And Aaron Miller of the Woodrow Wilson International Center said this week, “The appointment of George Mitchell would be a strong suggestion that Obama is going to free himself of the exclusive relationship that the US has had with Israel.”

      ZOA’s specific concerns include the fact that Mitchell has always made it clear that he believes both sides are equally at fault for the lack of peace. He believed this even when terrorist Yasser Arafat headed the Palestinian Authority! In fact, it is the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to adhere to their written agreements to fight and prevent terrorism, arrest terrorists, end incitement to hatred and violence against Israelis and Jews in their schools, media, speeches and sermons, and refusal to accept its existence as a Jewish state that is the reason for the lack of progress. After all, Israel has already given the Palestinian Arabs all of Gaza and half of Judea & Samaria with little to show for it except for the greatest amount of terrorism in Israel’s history.

      Evidence of Mitchell’s “equal blame” thesis include statements from the Mitchell Report of April 2001:

      1. “Israel and the Palestinian Authority must act swiftly and decisively to halt the violence,” - not the Palestinian Arabs must end their suicide bombings and terrorism, Israel has committed virtually no terrorism against the Arabs.

      2. “There’s a high level of hostility and mistrust between the parties.”

      3. “Fear, hate, anger and frustration have risen on both sides.”

      4. “Neither party exercised restraint at the beginning of terror war in September 2000.”

      5. “Israel and the Palestinian Authority should reaffirm their commitment to existing agreements and should immediately implement a cessation of violence.” - Israel has fulfilled most of their commitments, the Palestinians have not.

      6. “The Palestinian Authority and Israel should work together to establish a “cooling off period” and implement additional confidence building measures.”

      7. “The Palestinian Authority and Israel should identify, condemn, and discourage incitement” - ignoring that it’s virtually all on the Palestinian Authority side.

      8. “Palestinian Authority and Israel should undertake to preserve and protect holy places sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians.” -- Israel has always done this – Palestinians have destroyed Jacobs Tomb and other Jewish holy sites.

      9. “Leaders on both sides must act and speak decisively to reverse dangerous trend of sense of futility and despair and a growing resort to violence. They must rekindle the desire and drive for peace.” -- Israel has always wanted peace – Palestinians have not.

      10. “Parties must protect human rights.” -- Israelis do; Palestinians don’t.

      11. “Each side accused the other of violations, specific undertakings and resolving their political differences peacefully.”

      12. “Through relationship of kinship, friendship, religion, community and profession, virtually everyone in both societies has a link to someone killed or seriously injured in recent violence.”—but there would be no deadline if Palestinians stopped missiles and terrorism.

      13. “End the cycle of violence.” -- Palestinians terrorize, Israel responds.

      14. “We urge both sides to exhibit a greater respect for human life when demonstrators confront security personnel.”

      15. “Both sides expressed concerns about hateful language and images emanating from the other, citing numerous examples of hostile sectarian and ethnic rhetoric in the Palestinian and Israeli media, in school curricula and in statements by religious leaders, politicians and others.”

      16. “Their competing claims and religious differences have led to a grinding, demoralizing, dehumanizing conflict.”

      17. “We call on the parties to renew formal commitments to foster mutual understanding and tolerance and to refrain from incitement and hostile propaganda. We condemn hate language and incitement in all its forms. We suggest the parties be particularly cautious about using words in a manner that suggests collective responsibility.” -- Again, the Palestinians do this, Israel doesn’t.

      18. “Each side mistrusts the other, believing that it really doesn’t want peace.” -- It’s the Palestinians that have shown little interest in peace, the Israelis have made major concessions.

      19. “I believe a majority on both sides want a peaceful resolution.” -- Polls (see later) show Palestinians don’t want peace.

      Mitchell also inappropriately criticized Israeli actions in his Report.

      1. He demanded that “Israel must freeze all settlement activity, including “natural growth” of existing settlements -- meaning children of Jews in communities there would have to move and couldn’t live near their parents. This is also a racist notion that Jews can’t live in Judea & Samaria but Arabs can live in Israel.

      2. He said that “settlements violate the spirit of Oslo,” when in fact there was no mention of settlements being frozen in the Oslo agreements that Arafat signed.

      3. Demanded “Israel lift closures, ensure that security forces and settlers refrain from destruction of homes and roads, trees and agricultural properties in Palestinian areas. These measures have disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs.” -- Closures stop terrorists, some homes and trees protect terrorists to enable them to shoot onto roads.

      4. “Israel appears not to comprehend the humiliation and frustration that the Palestinians endure everyday as a result of living with the effects of occupation, sustained by the presence of Israeli military forces and settlements in their midst.” -- If there was no terrorism, there would be no Israel forces.

      5. He said, “the widely seen images of the killing of 12-year-old Muhammed al-Dura in Gaza, shot as he huddled behind his father, reinforced the perception that Israel had contempt for the lives and safety of Palestinians.” -- The al-Dura killing was a staged fraud.

      6. He said, Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount (September 2000) “was poorly timed and the provocative effect should have been foreseen.”

      George Mitchell also promotes the false anti-Israel belief that Jews living in communities in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) is the biggest obstacle to peace – not Arab terrorism or Arab incitement by quoting former Secretary of State James Baker. Baker said “I don’t think there is any bigger obstacle to peace than the settlement activity that continues not only unabated but at an enhanced pace.” Mitchell further states, “This policy described by Baker has been, in essence, the policy of every American administration over the past quarter century. Most other countries, including Turkey, Norway and those of the European Union have also been critical of settlements…and not in compliance with previous agreements.”

      Shockingly, Mitchell actually seemed to claim that Jewish communities existence and growth is a basis for Palestinian violence saying, “Israel has a responsibility to rebuild confidence, a cessation of Palestinian-Israeli violence will be particularly hard to sustain unless Israel freezes all settlement construction activity.”

      Then Mitchell seemed to express again a rationale for Palestinian terrorism. He said, “We acknowledge the Palestinian Authority’s position that security cooperation presents a political difficulty absent a suitable political context, i.e. the relaxation of Israel security measures combined with ongoing, fruitful negotiations. We also acknowledge the Palestinian Authority’s fear that, with security cooperation in hand, Israel may not be disposed to deal forthrightly with Palestinian political concerns. We believe that security cooperation cannot long be sustained if meaningful negotiations are unreasonably defined, if security measures ‘on the ground’ are seen as hostile, or if steps are taken that are perceived as provocative or as prejudicing the outcome of negotiations.”

      And as recently as December 18, 2008, at a conference in Tel Aviv of the Institute for National Security Studies, Mitchell said, “The Palestinians want an independent, economically viable and geographically integral state, that is their overriding objective.” Mitchell ignores the fact that if this were true, the Palestinians could have had a state in 2000, offered by Ehud Barak. Instead, the Palestinians launched a terror war against Israel. They could have established a state from 1948-67, when they controlled Gaza & Judea & Samaria. If the Palestinians’ real goal were a state and not Israel’s destruction why would they have elected Hamas in Gaza and why would Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas create a new Fatah party emblem showing all of Israel as Palestine with a Kalyshnakov rifle next to it. Mitchell also ignores Abbas’ public statement that “it is not required of Hamas, or Fatah, or the Popular Front to recognize Israel. (PATV, October 3, 2006)”

      Mitchell also ignores numerous polls nullifying his theses: 54% of Palestinians reject 2-state solution in historic Palestine (September 2008, An-Najah National University Poll); 58% of Palestinians reject statehood alongside Israel (An-Najah National University poll, May 2008); 75% of Palestinians don’t think Israel has right to exist and 20% of Palestinians support one-state solution (NEC poll, February 2007); 67% of Palestinians oppose Hamas recognizing Israel (PCPSR, September 2006); 61% support non-recognition policy toward Israel pursued by Hamas/Palestinian Authority government (Bir Zeit University poll, June 2006).

      Mitchell also made no mention of the Palestinians goals reflected in schools, speeches and the media calling for Israel’s destruction as well as every official Palestinian map showing no Israel.

      Marty Peretz in this week’s New Republic said, “Mitchell is a bit too credulous.” This was evident when in answer to the talk show host Charlie Rose’s question “Do you think Yasser Arafat will be able to negotiate for peace and take steps for peace.” – Mitchell confidently answered, “yes, I do.”

      More Mitchell credulousness was revealed when he said, “The problem is that Palestinians don’t believe they’ll really get a state.” And “they need a contiguous state,” said Mitchell again ignoring Israel’s offers by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and others.

      ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “George Mitchell is a bad choice for Mideast envoy for several reasons. One, he believes both sides are equally at fault. He gives a moral and factual equivalence between the Palestinian Arabs and the Israelis actions and goals. He refuses to distinguish between the aggressor and the victim, between right and wrong. Secondly, he believes that “settlements are the main problem, not the Palestinian Arabs’ refusal to end terrorism, outlaw terror groups, end incitement, and refusal to place Israel on their official maps and recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He seems oblivious to the fact that freezing settlements was not only not in the Oslo accords, but it would reward the Palestinians for their violence, and promote a racist agenda of Jews being banned from living in Judea & Samaria while Arabs can live in Israel. (How is it that Israel can have 15% of their population be Arabs, while the Arabs won’t permit even less than 10% of their population in the territories be Jews)? Thirdly, he wants Israel to endanger itself by closing checkpoints which monitors the possibility of terrorists entering Israel, which has as much sense as closing security checkpoints in airports. He has accepted the Arab propaganda of its alleged humiliation and frustration and phony staged killings like that of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura. Again, no terror, no checkpoints. Fourthly, he tries to rationalize that Israeli behavior and actions are a cause of Arab violence. Finally, he strongly urges both sides to negotiate, ignoring the fact that 15 years of negotiations and concessions has only led to more bloodshed.

      “Mitchell seems unaware that the real issue is not settlements, or Jerusalem, or statehood, but the Arabs refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state. And that Israeli concessions were not taken as positive signs by the Palestinians but as an indication that Israel is weak and ready to cave in to more demands.

      “The issue is not more concessions but making clear that unless the Palestinians transform their culture, and actions, and policies, and goals, they will not be able to get anything in terms of more concessions or international funding.

      “We also must remember that George Mitchell’s success with the IRA-British problem doesn’t translate to success with the Arab war against Israel. However extreme and murderous the IRA was, the goal was not the destruction of Britain and extermination of its people. They wanted only to remove Northern Ireland from British rule. By contrast, the goal of Hamas and the Palestinian nationalist movement is Israel’s destruction and the murder of Jews, not merely the creation of a Palestinian Arab state next to it. This is not, as Mitchell once said, merely a “more complicated” conflict – it is a conflict on a different plane with different goals and motivations from the nationalist war in Ireland. We are worried that George Mitchell does not understand this.”

      Tevet 25, 5769, 1/21/2009

      Tuesday Night Live presents 'Peace Now vs Hebron'

      A few weeks ago I attended and participated in Tuesday Night Live - hosted by my friends Ari Abramowitz and Jeremy Gimpel. They filmed four episodes, one of which included, what I considered to be, an amazing interview with former Israeli ambassador to the US, (and presently a candidate for Knesset with Yisrael Beitenu) Danny Ayalon. (Watch show here) . They also screened a wonderful movie dealing with Zionism and Israel today.

      The third and fourth shows centered around Hebron. The first segment, screened below, included a movie titled, "Peace Now vs Hebron." It is quite a revealing, and very worthwhile watching. Keep in mind that it was filmed 'live' without any preparation by any of the participants and could be referred to as something of a 'rorschach test,' producing spontaneous, unrehearsed answers to the questions presented to the people being filmed.

      The second half of the Hebron show, which will be posted next week, includes an interview with the Pollack family from Beit HaShalom and with yours truly.

      I must convey a huge 'yashar koach' and debt of gratitude to Ari, Jeremy, Rachel Gluck, who produces the show, and all the others involved in this wonderful initiative. Brachot from all of us here in Hebron!


      Tevet 17, 5769, 1/13/2009

      The Great Iranian Sting in The Jerusalem Post

      While our warriors are on the battlefield fighting, it's difficult to express criticism of any kind. But it is of the utmost importance to know and internalize that the present warfare is not only about rockets pounding our southern cities. Of course, any sovereign nation cannot allow its citizens to be attacked day after day, week after week, year after year, without responding.

      However, this is just what consecutive governments did not do, beginning not with the Oslo war, otherwise known as the second intifada. Rather in the late 1980s, during the first intifada, when Israelis were stoned, firebombed and shot at, the government's reactions were lukewarm at best.

      With the outbreak of the second intifada on the eve of Rosh Hashana 2000, the government effectively ignored the attacks on its citizens, most particularly those living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. In Hebron, Arabs shot at Jews from the surrounding Abu Sneineh and Harat a-Shech Hills for more than two years, with the only response being "virtual."

      The IDF was under strict orders not to retake the hills, which would have stopped the shooting.

      In Gush Katif, thousands upon thousands of mortars shells were fired into Jewish communities. The response to these attacks was not even lukewarm; it was nil.

      So it came as no surprise when the country's leaders didn't blink an eye when Hamas terrorists, utilizing the very land given to them by the State of Israel, began shelling Sderot.

      Nor were we shocked when rockets started falling on Ashkelon and Ashdod; such attacks had been predicted prior to the abandonment of Gush Katif.

      Those of us who envisioned such shellings were at best ignored or called "black prophets"; at worst we were "enemies of peace."

      Today's battles are not only about self-defense. Much more importantly, they are a return to our national pride, knowing that this is our country, this is our land and we must do, and will do, whatever necessary to protect our citizens and preserve our sovereignty.

      This, despite the heartache with each and every casualty, knowing that it didn't necessarily have to be this way; we weren't forced to abandon Gush Katif and we didn't have to allow Hamas to rearm itself with missiles which have paralyzed the South.

      BUT THIS is, perhaps, only a minuscule amount of the damage that's been done.

      A few brief, analytical questions: 1. Why did Hamas agree, in the first place, to a cease-fire more than six months ago? 2. Why did Hamas, only a few weeks ago, refuse to renew the cease-fire? 3. Why did Hamas, knowing that at some point Israel would have no choice but to respond, fire hundreds of rockets? 4. Why has Hamas refused to accept a cease-fire, despite the massive destruction and loss of life in Gaza?

      The answer to these questions is, quite possibly, very simple.

      Our Arab neighbors are not as stupid as we would like to think they are. What is the real existential threat to the State of Israel today? The Iranian nuclear threat. The Iranians, as well as building nuclear reactors, also know how to read calendars. They know that on January 20, George W. Bush will cease to be president of the United States and will be replaced by Barack Obama. They know that Israel would much prefer to "clean up" the Iranian problem prior to the presidential transition, realizing that Bush would be much more likely to give a green light to offensive action than would the new president Obama. How could they prevent a preemptive attack?

      Iran is the number one supplier of money to Hamas. Iranian leaders told Hamas: "You are going to be sacrificed for a higher good - the destruction of the Jewish state." Hamas was ordered to make a cease-fire and then break it to keep Israel occupied with the south, rather than with the north.

      Israel would not attempt major armed conflict on two fronts simultaneously. Massive rocket attacks on cities would force Israel's hand, but prevent an attack on Iran. Surely Iran promised Hamas that it would receive full compensation for all damage done.

      As for the Arabs killed, necessary sacrifices. Besides which, photographs of dead make for excellent propaganda when broadcast on CNN and the BBC.

      In other words, the current war is nothing more than a great Iranian sting operation, preventing Israel from demolishing its nuclear facilities before January 20, at the cost of a few thousand buildings and a few hundred Arab lives in Gaza. This is perhaps, the real cost of the Gush Katif "disengagement."

      The writer is spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron.

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