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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 12, 5768, 7/15/2008

      If I forget thee....

      Tomorrow’s planned prisoner exchange is very bittersweet.  Almost everyone has an opinion and all sides have some element of legitimacy. On one hand, the price is so very high; on the other hand, we have a responsibility to bring our soldiers home, dead or alive. A soldier, entering battle, must know that anything and everything will be done to bring him home, be it to his family, or to  ‘kever Yisrael’ – to a Jewish grave. Yet, perhaps the swap will serve as motivation to capture more soldiers, and exchange them for other terrorist killers. But, who can forget the unbelievable ‘mesirut nefesh’ – total dedication, of Rabbi Shlomo Goren, then Chief Rabbi of the IDF, to wade through enemy mine fields to recover bodies of Israeli soldiers killed in action.

      It’s something of a catch 22 – whatever you do is right, and whatever you do is wrong.  I know that I’ve asked myself countless times, ‘what would I do if, (G-d forbid), it was one of my sons.’ In truth, I don’t know.
      Of course, with the release of two Israeli soldiers, either dead or alive, a huge dark cloud shadows their return:  where is Ron Arad, whose fate is still unknown? Is he dead or alive? Is he in Lebanon or Iran? According to Israeli intelligence sources, having studied the newly-released photos of Arad, taken about 20 years ago, the pictures were taken not in Lebanon, rather in Iran. Perhaps Ron Arad is still alive, wasting away in an Iranian dungeon?

      However, with enigma surrounding Ron Arad and the as of yet unknown condition of Regev and Goldwasser, at least people know their names, show some concern for them and their families. Unfortunately, it’s not that way with all Israeli MIAs, POWS.  There are those, who, for one reason or another, have been forgotten, despite that fact that they wore the same uniform as the others, fought for the same country as the others, and whose fate is just as unknown as the others.

      Ron Arad was captured in October, 1986. Four years earlier, in June, 1882, during the battle of Sultan Ya’akub, Israel  lost three of its finest.  During the battle, commanded by Ehud Barak, three tank warriors,  Tzvi Feldman,  born in 1956, Yehuda Katz, born in 1959, and Zacharia Baumel, born in 1960, disappeared.  They may have been killed during the brutal fighting. However, there were accounts of people who saw them displayed during a parade in Syria. Their families have gathered accounts over the years, which, at the very least, raise a reasonable doubt as to their fate. Perhaps they are long gone. But perhaps not.  And, if we use the Regev-Goldwasser  measuring stick, what difference does it make? Why have the IDF and the Israeli government totally forgotten about these three men? Why aren’t they household names, as is Ron Arad? Why didn’t Israel demand a full report from Hizballah concerning the fate and location of these three men just as they did concerning Ron Arad?  Why doesn’t the Israeli media exert pressure on the government and IDF concerning then, as they did concerning Regev, Goldwasser, Arad and Gilad Shalit? Why does Gilad Shalit’s name continue to make headlines, while most Israelis, 22 years later, have no idea who Katz, Feldman and Baumel are?

      I have an answer, but don’t really like it. As a matter of fact, I despise what I think. It really stinks. It’s even worse than that. But I can’t think of any other viable reason.

      These three men came from the wrong side of Israeli society. They all had Kippas on their heads. They belonged to religious tank units. Their families were not left-wing supporters of ‘peace,’ Labor, and Arabs.  The men weren’t media lovelies. Rather, they were young idealistic patriots, who fought for their country, their people and their belief. Their belief hasn’t betrayed them, but their country and their people have. 

      But that’s not all.

      It’s clear that serious negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit will continue between Israel and Hamas. Clearly, Israel should demand information and release of the three above-discussed men. But in my opinion, that’s not enough.

      Hamas terrorists are not stupid. If, as is expected, Israel receives two bodies for killer Kuntar, Hamas is going to demand an even higher price for a ‘live’ Israeli. That price will almost undoubtedly include Marwan Barghuti, a convicted murderer and leader of the ‘2nd intidada’ which claimed thousands of Israeli lives, dead, maimed and wounded. The present Israeli government will almost assuredly OK the deal. However, Israel must demand more than the release of POW Gilad Shalit. After all, Barghuti will only be one of the hundreds of terrorists freed by Israel. Israel must look towards its best friend and ally, put its foot down, and tell the United States: look at what we are being forced into in order to release one Israeli soldier. What is the price of one man? Is there a price? Yet, the price is too high. We must bring home more than one POW. When we release Barghuti and Hamas releases Shalit, you must free Jonathan Pollard.  If we can do it, so can you.

      At every Jewish wedding, the happiest day in a person’s life, we repeat the words, ‘If I forget thee Jerusalem….’ 

      I add :

      If we forget thee, Tzvi…
      If we forget thee Yehuda…
      If we forget thee Zacharia…
      If we forget thee Jonathan…

      If we forget all of you, who are we, what are we, why are we?

      Tammuz 8, 5768, 7/11/2008

      Ethical Sleaze

      Three "major' topics were headline news earlier this week. The first was absolutely revolting, dealing with sex allegations against former President Moshe Katzav. Coverage of accusations against Katzav are described almost down to the last detail. It's as if Israel radio and TV news are attempting to compete with porno shows, rated triple X. Disgusting. I would suggest that anyone in Israel with children at home keep an ear out for such sordid details and be ready to turn down the volume real fast. Before the kids start asking for explanations.

      The second item is the juicy quote from our illustrious Education Minister, Yuli Tamir, a founder of Peace Now. During a meeting of the Knesset Education Committee, she said to the former Director General of that ministry, Ronit Tirosh: "I'm clearing out the trash and sh-t you left me."
      What fine examples from official Israel radio/tv and the Education minister to Israeli children!

      The third item making big news is the impending drought. A former Israeli water authority chief, interviewed during the daily radio news program said that one of the repercussions will include empty water faucets. That shook up the country. Especially when he added that a good rainy winter this year will not solve Israel's water deficiency.

      However, no one is asking the really important question which is: why isn't there any water. I'm not talking about the technical reasons: no rain, and refusal by the treasury to finance massive construction of desalinization plants. That's the easy side. But what is at the root of the problem?

      Observant Jews repeat at least twice daily Kriyat Shema. However we repeat not only Shema Yisrael, HaShem Elokenu, HaShem Echad. We also recite two other paragraphs from the Torah. One of them speaks specifically about rain. If we implement G-d's will, He will reward us with rain. If we don't do as He instructs us, we will suffer droughts.

      A story on the TV news seemed to explain why we are drying up. It was not enough that the Israeli government expelled almost 10,000 Jews from Gush Katif. An Arab who worked for a Jewish farmer in Gush Katif filed suit against his former employer because he, the Arab, had lost his job. The official reaction from the SELA authority, supposedly assisting the expellees, was that the compensation granted to the former Gush Katif residents included funds to pay damages to Arabs demanding reparation because they had lost their jobs and that any such court cases were the expellee's problem, not theirs.

      In other words, the government expects citizens who were expelled from their homes, who still don't have permanent residences or employment, to pay off terrorists who are today shooting rockets into Israel from Gush Katif, with whatever is left of their compensation. And of course, it doesn't take too much imagination to figure out where most of that money will go.

      Corruption takes many shapes and forms. Israel has witnessed more than its share of corrupt politicians, judges, police, prosecutors and others. Most corrupt people are attempting to either get rich/richer or obtain/maintain power.

      But there's another type of corruption. I'll call it moral, ethical sleaze. What could be sleazier than telling people evicted from their homes that they have to pay off their terrorist enemies because the government stole their land and employment from them? This is more repulsive than the Katzav affair mentioned above.

      Of course, this is not a 'major news story.' After all, who really cares what happens to those 'settlers' who dared 'occupy' Arab land and were rightfully kicked out of their homes, which were subsequently destroyed?

      But in my humble opinion, this is why we are in the midst of a major drought. We are doing it to ourselves. We are drying ourselves out.

      (Anyone wishing to express a thought or opinion to the Sela Authority can email them at: sela@sela.pmo.gov.il or fax them at: 972-2-6529217)

      Tammuz 5, 5768, 7/8/2008

      Medinat Weimar

      A unique new idea has been proposed by one Ronen Eidelman: Medinat Weimar, translated into simple English, the State of Weimar.

      The idea, espoused at http://medinatweimar.org/ suggests establishment a Jewish state in Thuringia, Germany, with the city of Weimar as its capital.

      Interesting, no? I sent in a comment (which was rejected because 'comments has been closed'), saying that I agree 100% that creation of a new state in Germany be established, but not for the Jews, rather for the Arabs. It is supposed to be a beautiful area, with a multitude of natural resources. Let all the Arabs from Israel go over there and dig for oil. We'll stay here and live without the oil.

      Besides which, the Germans and Arabs have a long history of cooperation. Amin El-Husseini met with Hitler in Berlin, during which they planned out the 'final solution' which included annihilation of the Jews living in Israel.

      If it goes really well maybe the German wax museum with a real-life statue of Hitler will add a figurine of the Mufti too.

      Should my idea be rejected, I would suggest a pilot trial period, including Peres (President of the new state) Olmert, (Prime Minister of the new state) and a couple of hundred thousand others, to test out the area. One hundred years would seem to me to be a reasonable amount of time to determine if the Jewish Weimar state has any future.

      Tammuz 3, 5768, 7/6/2008

      All in a Day's Work

      This morning started off fairly regularly, as Sundays go. A favorite person of mine was coming in to visit.
      My friends Prof. Rachel Suissa and her husband Erez Urieli have lived for a number of years in Norway, but are both native Israelis. They initiated an organization there called 'the Center against anti-Semitism, which negates much of they slander spoken and written about Jews and Israel in general, and more specifically about places like Hebron. They produce a high-quality publication four times a year, which is distributed in tens of thousands of copies to influential people in Norway and throughout Scandinavia.

      Rachel flew in last week for a short visit and this morning drove into Hebron. We had a meeting with a few people here in our offices and met with others she knows here in the community. I also pointed out to her the presence of Israel-hating anarchists who have chosen Hebron as a location to spout their abhorrence of Jews in Hebron.
      At about 11:45 we were on our way to grab a bite at the Gutnick Center, next to Ma'arat HaMachpela. We never made it.

      About 30 meters from the Ma'ara I drove past a group of what looked to be diplomats, being guided by an Arab. I pulled over the side, stopped the car and got out. Asking who the people were, I was told 'French diplomats.' I approached the head of the group, pulled out a business card, introduced myself, and asked if perhaps I could speak with them too, as to present 'another side' of the story.
      However, they didn't have time. A soldier there told me, in response to a question, that the Arab was allowed to that point, but no further. I went over to the car to take out my camera in order to record the event and later figure out who our distinguished guests were.
      As soon as I walked over with the camera a member of the group came over and started waving his hands in the air, trying to block my view to prevent me from photographing. Wherever I went, he went too, and eventually moved his hands from the air to me and to the camera, pushing me, and holding on to my arm and the camera. At one point my glasses went flying, thanks to his active hands.
      Rachel, see what was transpiring, came over to try to stop him from assaulting me. For her efforts she received an elbow in the stomach and a big push from the Frenchman.
      I called over to the soldier asking him to notify the police because we had been attacked. When he refused, I continued with the group, on their way to Ma'arat HaMachpela, where I called to a border policeman that I had been attacked, and requested that he prevent to offender from leaving. He did just that and called the police. The attacker was taken to Hebron police headquarters where he was questioned and Rachel and I issued a complaint against him.
      I don't have names of everyone on the group, except for the French Deputy Consul General in Jerusalem, Alexi LaCour Grandmaison, who was carrying a book in Arabic called "Hebron, the old city."
      But that wasn't the end. Whey I arrived at police headquarters in Kiryat Arba to issue the complaint, I walked into an office where I had been instructed to go. As soon as I walked in an officer with a tag on his shirt identifying him as Ya'akov ben Moshe, began ranting and raving, screaming at me, as if I'd just committed murder. He yelled that he would stop Jewish terrorism in Hebron and that he'd 'take care of me.' When I asked him why he was speaking to me in such a way; after all he hadn't heard my side of the story, he yelled, "I'm the boss here and I'll do whatever I want to do.'
      After a few minutes of this, including threats against me, he walked out. I followed and asked for his remarks in writing. He started yelling again and screamed at me 'jump…'
      Rachel and I finally concluded issuing our complaints, however, because the Frenchman holds a diplomatic passport, probably nothing will be done to him.
      However, I find it sad that foreign diplomats tour Hebron with Arabs, read Arab literature about Hebron, and choose to ignore the Jewish community here in the city. Then again, they are French.
      So, that's what I did today – all in a day's work.

      See photos: http://www.hebron.com/english/article.php?id=409

      Sivan 29, 5768, 7/2/2008

      Give them Jaffa Street!

      Next week's headline will almost certainly demand that Israel relinquish Jaffa Street to the Arabs.

      The fact that so many terror attacks have occurred on this road, including exploding buses and concluding with today's bulldozer attack is proof that Israeli security forces are incapable of protecting citizens walking or driving on this street. The only possible solution for such a situation is to continue the same policies practiced by the past Israeli governments: If you cannot protect it, abandon it.

      Following transfer of Jaffa Street Israel should seriously consider a package deal by which King George Street is also given to the Arabs. After all, who wants to occupy a road named after a British King, and besides which, it's impossible to drive on these roads - the traffic jams are terrible.

      It's likely that Neturi Karta will demand equal rights, in which case most of Mea Shearim and Geula will go too.

      In the end it's likely that Israel will keep only the Gilo neighborhood in Jerusalem in order to access the tunnel roads leading to Gush Etzion and Hebron. After all, the Jerusalemites will have to have a secure way to escape from the city.