Arlene in Israel – A Day Later

The death toll in the Nar Nof massacre has risen to five.

Master Sergeant  Zidan Saif, 30 – of the Druse village of Kfar Yanouch in the Galil – was one of the first police officers on the scene during the massacre yesterday, and sustained wounds to his head.  Last night, he succumbed to those wounds in the hospital.  He leaves behind a wife and a four month old daughter.

I want to take a moment to pay tribute to him, and to the Druse community in Israel.  Just ten days ago, another Druse, an officer in the Border Police, was killed in the course of a terror attack.  In fact, it seems to me that the Druse have given above and beyond.  It is emblematic that the Druse village of Beit Jann has lost the highest number of men per capita of any locality in the course of Israel’s wars.  Loyal citizens of Israel, the Druse serve proudly in the IDF, and in various police units. The families accept with dignity the sacrifices of sons lost in battles on behalf of Israel.

Credit: Avihu Shapira

Zidan Saif was buried today.  Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) were in attendance in large numbers in order to pay tribute to him for giving his life in an effort to protect members of their community. Buses were organized to bring people from Jerusalem to the village in the north.  Calls went out for young people of the community to attend as well:

“We won’t be ungrateful, we will show our gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives for us.”

 This, my friends, is precisely how it should be.

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The Har Nof casualties, then:

Sergeant Zidan Saif, Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, Rabbi Kalman Levine, Rabbi Moshe Twersky and Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky

The horror stories continue – told by witnesses and survivors.  It would seem that the cream of the religious community of Har Nof was killed in the attack.There are injured still in critical condition. Two had surgery yesterday, and one has regained consciousness.  One of the badly injured is reported to have severe brain damage.

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It is very much the practice here in Israel to resume “business as usual” as quickly as possible, so that terrorists cannot think they are able to disrupt our lives.  Thus did davening (praying) continue this morning in the synagogue where the attack took place.

Prayer service Wednesday morning (Photo: Noam (Dabul) Dvir)
Credit: Noam (Dabul) Dvir

Those who pray in the synagogue regularly were joined by others – including a couple of MKs – who came in a show of solidarity.  Here, on the right, you see Naftali Bennett:

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (R) prays inside a synagogue where two terrorists from East Jerusalem killed five people on Tuesday. November 19, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

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The question now is where we go from here in dealing with the violence.  As I am reading it, this particular attack has been a turning point psychologically.  Instead of mumblings about whether this or that attack may be leading towards an intifada, I now read reference to the fact that we’re dealing with an intifada.  For all intents and purposes that is a recognition of war.

And so?

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Let me begin by saying that while I am reading calls for this, I do not believe that attempting to seize control of the Temple Mount now would be a constructive act.  I have written extensively about the fact that King Abdullah of Jordan sits uneasily on his throne. Were he to be toppled, he would be replaced by jihadis and radicals – and this would definitely not be in our best interest. What is more, we have a relationship with Jordan that is valuable in a host of other ways.

One of the ways Abdullah maintains political strength and commands respect from the people is by demonstrating that he – via the Jordanian Wakf – exercises control on the Mount and is able to confront Israel. He makes a great show of this.  And while it is not to my liking, I do understand it.  To undercut Abdullah now, while the region is in such ferment, would be unwise.

Do I think what Moshe Dayan did was deplorable?  Yes.  Do I believe Jews should have full and equal rights on the Mount? Absolutely. But what was done badly in the past must be undone when the time is right.

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More to the point, I believe, is exercising full Israeli sovereignty and control over all Arab neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem.  Not incidentally, this includes effective control over Har HaZeitim (the Mount of Olives) and the ancient Jewish cemetery there, where we are still seeing Arab vandalism and destruction of graves.

The need to be strong – to make the Arabs fear us – is a point I’ve already made. There will be much to write about in coming weeks.  Some measures have already been taken –  strengthening of certain laws, etc. But not nearly enough yet.  Some thoughts:

We need to bring out the army and have an on-going military presence in the city.  Checkpoints, if necessary, at intersections leading in and out of the most troublesome neighborhoods.  There should be a situation in which Arabs with knives and cleavers are likely to be caught before they use their weapons.  They should at least know they cannot walk around with such weapons with impunity.

We need to increase our intelligence and behave proactively to bring in people plotting attacks before they are reality – with preventative detention of agitators.

There are caches of guns in Arab areas of Jerusalem, and they need to be searched out and confiscated.  I find it deplorable that this has not yet been done.

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Naftali Bennett gave an interview on Army Radio today in which he espoused this sort of approach.

We should not active defensively, he says, but go on the attack, just as we did to put down terrorism in Arab areas of Judea and Samaria, in 2002, in Operation Defensive Shield.  Terror infrastructure must be rooted out.

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Bennett-calls-for-military-operation-in-east-Jerusalem-to-root-out-terror-382236

Note by Editor. Please read this link.

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In line with this shift in attitude, I would hope for a proud stance that no longer reflected continual anxiety about what the international community is thinking.

It is time to openly conceptualize the PA and Abbas as the enemy, not as a potential partner, whom the world is waiting for us to sit down and talk to as soon as matters settle down. Passing the law establishing Israel as a Jewish state is a part of this thinking.

Defense Minister Ya’alon has announced that certain benefits that were to be accorded the PA will be put on hold now.  I read this and thought, Is there any question? Benefits for the PA?  But those benefits that Ya’alon has in mind are almost certainly only a small part of the courtesies and services that have been extended to the PA and that should now be terminated.

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Other issues connected to this situation:

We are dealing with multiple Arab populations, which makes matters more complex: There are Arabs living in parts of Judea and Samaria administered by the PA, who either enter Israel legally to work, or enter illegally.  There are Arabs in Jerusalem who have Jerusalem residency cards. And there are Arabs who are full citizens of Jerusalem.  Each of these populations requires a different response.

Simmering under the surface is the issue of our jurisdiction in Area C in Judea and Samaria – over which, according to Oslo, we were to have civil and military control.  I cannot say this is a question of sovereignty, because – unfortunately – we have not declared sovereignty in this area (yet).  But it is a close second, in terms of losing our prerogatives in an area over which we were supposed to have control. And this, in my opinion, is directly connected to the governmental mental set (which must change now) regarding such matters as slipshod control over certain neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

No one said this was going to be easy to sort out.  Or to make right.

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As I continue to track what’s going on, I hope I can bring some good news and a smile to my readers time and again.

What I will say here is that Israelis are extraordinarily resilient. We are determined to come out on top in this struggle, for this is our land.  Enormously important, as we fight this fight, is unity among the people:  We must hold fast as one.

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© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. Contact: akushner18@gmail.com

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