Arlene from Israel: A Specific Focus.

When last I posted, I wrote that – even though I chose to pass on writing about it in that particular post – there is always good news from Israel.  And indeed this is so.

THIS is good news, very good news, although of an usual sort – preceded as it is by tragedy:

Credit: Eliron Aharon

“Sarah-Tehiya Litman 21, whose father and brother were murdered by terrorists on Friday, and who was supposed to get married to Ariel Bigel on Tuesday [today], has announced that the wedding will only be postponed by nine days –and that the entire nation of Israel is invited.  The wedding will be held at Binyahei Hauma in Jerusalem [a huge convention hall].

“The invitation-announcement is preceded by the phrase – ‘Do not rejoice over me, my enemy, for I have fallen but I have gotten up.’ (Micha 7:8)

“’This evening, instead of wearing the bridal dress, I will sit on the floor with a torn shirt,’ Sarah told the newspaper Yediot Aharonot Tuesday. ‘But very soon, we will marry in a large and happy wedding.  We will go on and be happy as Father and Netanel always were. We will not be crushed….Multitudes will come to make us happy.’”


I wept when I read this.

What an extraordinary people we are!  How strong.  Facing down terror and tragedy with love and rejoicing and mitzvot (commandments).  I have seen it again and again, Jews who rise from tragedy to CHOOSE LIFE.  Where a wedding is concerned, there is a special import: weddings are not to be postponed, unless it is essential to do so.  For the creation of a new Jewish home should not be delayed.


And on the flip side, this is also good news:

Arab Israeli Islamist leader Sheikh Raed Salah takes part in a large anti-government demonstration in Sakhnin, October 13, 2015 [AFP/JACK GUEZ]
Credit: AFP/Jack Guez
The Security Cabinet has declared the Northern Wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel – the more extreme branch of the Islamic Movement – an illegal organization. It has been headed by Sheikh Ra’ed Salah (pictured) of Umm el Fahm – a radical Arab town in the north.

Defense Minister Ya’alon has signed a decree to this effect: any person or organization that offers services to the Movement will be operating in defiance of the law and will be jailed. The offices of 17 Islamic Movement-affiliated NGOs were shut down and several were searched.  Computers were seized and bank accounts frozen.

Said the Cabinet announcement:

“For years, the Northern Wing of the Islamic Movement has been leading a campaign of deception under the headline ‘Al Aqsa is in danger,’ which falsely accuses Israel of intending to damage the Al Aqsa mosque and break the status quo. Within this framework, the Northern Wing established an array of paid activists – the murabitun / murabitat – for the purpose of initiating provocations on the Temple Mount. This activity has led to a…escalation in tensions on the Temple Mount. Many of the terror attacks carried out recently were executed against the background of this incitement and propaganda.”

This is one of those “Mazel Tov! What took so long?” moments.


Credit: snipview

With regard to the terror attacks in Paris, there is so much to say that it cannot possibly all be addressed in one posting.  I will undoubtedly be coming back to this again and again.

Today I wanted to offer a brief look at the situation from a particular perspective.

Shimon Samuels – who works from Paris as Director for International Relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center – has an op-ed in today’s JPost that is particularly insightful and forthright.


“What began with the Jews has crossed a new threshold for Europe” (emphasis added),

Samuels writes:

”The Charlie Hebdo/Jewish supermarket attacks of January 2015 followed years of antisemitic terrorism in Europe and Israel which have now led over the edge of the abyss into general mayhem.

”Despite the French government’s welcome measure of placing armed military personnel outside vulnerable Jewish targets, a cognitive disconnect has continued in media and political rejection of the features common to European and Israeli victimology.

”A London Metropolitan police official at September’s Counter-Terrorism Summit in Israel expressed his concern with Islamic State, al-Qaida and Boko Haram, but admitted that Hamas and Hezbollah did not reach his radar screen.

”Yet all jihadists view the Jew as a tactical target within a consortium of enemies…The strategic target is the delicate fabric of democracy itself.

”In the slum belts around French cities, twin cries in Arabic now resonate among native-born Islamists,fired up by jihadist imams and Internet sites: “Maut al Yahud” (Death to the Jews) and “Na’al Fransa” (Curse France).

”These young Europeans, recruited to IS in Syria/Iraq or Pakistani Koranic schools, are now returning home as trained murderers…

”These black-uniformed, suicide-belted, “Allahu Akbar” shrieking “martyrs,” crouched and swiveled their Kalashnikovs in 360 degree turns, for maximum carnage. Multiple locations for simultaneous assaults augmented general panic and confusion, especially for security and first responders.

These are the appurtenances of Middle East terrorism – honed over years against Israel – now transplanted to European soil.

Yet Europe appeases these forces of evil by supporting and endorsing the demonization subsets underpinning the terrorism against Israeli civilians: boycott, now called ‘labeling’ of Jewish export products; a defensive fence labeled ‘apartheid wall’; a ‘right to return’ campaign for the great-great grandchildren of refugees from 1948 British Mandate Palestine; their current leaders’ theft of Jewish heritage and the constant attrition of anti-Israel UN resolutions disproportionate to the condemnation of any other member state.

”Paris is only a way station as London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels and Rome take preventive measures. As Europe rebuilds its border fences, profile-sifting trained and potential jihadists among the current refugee wave, perhaps opinion will now bridge that cognitive synaptic association, that was so axiomatic for Simon Wiesenthal, ‘what starts with the Jews never ends with them!’ A maxim that can be paraphrased as: ‘The suicide bombings, intifadas, knife stabbings, car rammings that began in Israel do not end there!’ Antisemitism, anti-Zionism, anti-Israelism in Europe only serve the mutual enemies of both Israel and Europe.”


We heard Prime Minister Netanyahu saying after the Paris attacks that all terrorism is the same, that there are no “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists,” that he expects the concern of the world for our losses to terrorism as well.

But the world does not hear this, and somehow manages to rationalize the terror attacks against us as being “our fault” because we are “occupiers,” or whatever.  This is worst sort of libel, which manages to give terrorists here the impression that the world somehow “understands” them.

This is not only a grave injustice to Israel, it facilitates further terrorism.  And at its heart is antisemitism, in particular European antisemitism.


Credit: Lisaswelt

In the very same issue  of the JPost, there is a piece by Manfred Gerstenfeld, an expert in European antisemitism and emeritus chair of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

 In “Suggestions for the antisemitic slurs list,” Gerstenfeld speaks about the list the Simon Wiesenthal Center puts out at the end of the year of leading perpetrators of major anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slurs and incidents.

“This list,”

writes Gerstenfeld,

“serves as a principal address for identifying these perpetrators and to some extent bringing them to account.”

And what does he see as a foremost candidate for the list?   Why, the EU, of course.

“More than 40 percent of EU citizens of 16 and older agree with the statement that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.  This is not only a sign of Europe’s on-going moral degeneration, it is also partly the result of EU incitement against Israel…


A paradox then. I have been feeling that we here in Israel stand separate from the rest of the world.  Yet, at the same time, we are at the center of things.


More soon…

Here I want to end by honoring Sarah Litman and Ariel Bigel, who were supposed to marry tonight, by sharing a video of a bedeken, a traditional veiling ceremony.  Actually there are two ceremonies on this video clip (the second one starting at about 2:45).  Some of you may have participated in this traditional custom, for others it will be new. The veil is supposed to drawn over the bride by the groom so that, it is said, he is not – as our father Ya’akov was when he was given Leah instead of Rachel to marry – fooled into marrying the wrong woman.  The groom is accompanied by his friends and male relatives in a procession to his bride, who awaits him as a queen on her throne, surrounded by her friends and female relatives.

This is the real stuff.  The music is classic, as is the boisterous sense of joy and celebration.  And there is something intimate and emotional about it.


© 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.


If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


“We Have Legal Grounds” –




Check Also

The Temple Mount is Israel’s Ground Zero: oped in Jerusalem Post

It is time to assert our sovereignty over our holiest site, to send a clear …