We begin today with an opinion piece from the Friday JPost magazine section, written – in 2010 – by Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo, “Israel: The blessing of insecurity” (emphasis added):
“Throughout the centuries, historians, philosophers and anthropologists have struggled with the concept called ‘Israel’…
“In 1948 Israel once again became a country. But not only a country. All of its other dimensions…continued to exist…
“Throughout its short history, the State of Israel has experienced the most puzzling events modern man has ever seen. After an exile of nearly 2,000 years, during which the old Israel survived against all historical odds, Jews returned to their homeland. There they found themselves surrounded by a massive Arab population incapable of making peace with the idea that this small, mysterious nation lives among them. After having survived a Holocaust, in which six million of its members perished, the Jewish nation was not permitted to live a life of tranquility on its tiny piece of land.
“…From the onset, Israel was forced to battle its enemies on all fronts. It was attacked and then condemned for defending its population and fighting for its very existence. Over the years, it has has had to endure the international community’s policy of double standards. When it calls for peace it is condemned for provoking war. When it tries, as no other nation does, to avoid hurting citizens of countries that declare war on it, it is accused of being more brutal than nations that commit atrocities against millions of people.
“Simultaneously, against all logic, this nation builds it country as no other has done, while fighting war after war…While bombs and katyushas attack its cities, and calls for its total destruction are heard in many parts of the world, Israel continues to increase its population, generate unprecedented technology and create a stronger and more stable economy. But the more it succeeds, the more its enemies become frustrated and annoyed and the more dubious Israel’s security becomes. The more some nations aspire to destroy it, the more the world is forced to deal with this tiny state and its survival capacity…
“We have only one way to comprehend the positive meaning of this otherwise apparently negative anomaly: faith. From any other viewpoint, the failure of Jews to fit into a category would be intolerable, a meaningless absurdity. We must understand that our inability to conform to any framework is our living avowal of Israel’s uniqueness. Israel’s very existence is the manifestation of divine intervention in history to which it must attest. In Israel, history and revelation are one; only there do they coincide. While other nations exist as nations, the people of Israel exist as a reminder of God’s involvement in world history, even if it pays a heavy price. Only through Israel is humanity touched by the divine….
“All of this proves that Jews have a destiny and mission different from other nations. We are an eternal people with a timeless message; our history is one of radical otherness.
“The realization of this has become modern Israel’s great challenge…
“Its leaders must realize that any attempt to ‘normalize’ the State of Israel will threaten its very existence…
“Our biblical prophets warned against such false notions of security. They predicted that Israel would perish if it insisted on existing only as a political structure. Yet it can survive – and this is the paradox of Israel’s reality – as long as it insists on its vocation of uniqueness.
“Israel is summoned to remind the world of God’s existence, not only concerning religion but as a historical reality. There is no security for Israel unless it is secure in its own destiny. We must shoulder the burden of our own singularity, which means nothing less than fulfilling our role as God’s witness. We must draw strength from this phenomenon…Once Israel recognizes its uniqueness, it will, paradoxically, enjoy security and be victorious.”
I offer no comment here on this profound perspective, because I do not believe any is needed. But I do wish it to serve as backdrop for the next part of this posting, which, indeed, addresses issues of insecurity, specifically with regard to how the Israeli government is responding to the terrorism.
A good number of readers have written to ask questions concerning this response: Why is more not being done, etc. Briefly here I would say that a great deal is being done. While it likely even more might be, it is also the case that there is not one magic bullet for handling this. More on this below, but it would not, for example, be a good idea to do a targeted assassination of Abbas, his horrendous incitement notwithstanding.
Among actions being taken or seriously contemplated during this past week:
- Operations involving thousands of soldiers are underway in the Hevron area – this includes administrative detention for those activists with Hamas affiliation.
- Increased checking of Palestinian Arab cars on shared routes.
- Work permits of close family members will be revoked and there is seriously thought being given to expulsion of family members.
There are many soldiers stationed at the Gush Etzion junction.
And I have been advised that some special crack shot troops have been brought in.
A bill is under way – but has not yet passed – in the Knesset that would permit the imprisonment of terrorists who are minors. That so many are has generated a serious problem.
Juvenile offenders of 12 or more would be sentenced to a youth facility until age of 14, when they would be transferred to prison. Prison sentences could also be imposed on children under 14 if they are convicted of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter,
Additional checkpoints have been set up surrounding Hebron, Hawara and Nablus, as well as around villages adjacent to the Etzion bloc.
Arab workers have been banned from Gush Etzion – or will be shortly. There are other municipalities which have done this.
Late last week, a report broke of a recommendation coming from the IDF of certain “positive gestures” that should be taken with regard to the PA, in order to ease matters.
One was increase in the number of work permits, so that Arabs in PA areas felt their situation was better. Not only NOT a good idea because right now the move is to limit movement of Arabs in to Israel, but also because it would constitute a reward for terrorism. Also reportedly proposed was release of some prisoners.
But worst of all: It was suggested weapons, ammunition and armored vehicles be provided to the PA so that it could help combat the terrorists.
This, my friends, is the stuff of nightmares. It should be noted that the PA security forces have in the past, more than once, turned their guns (provided by the US so they could fight terrorism) on us.
At any rate, I am here to tell you that none of this is going to happen.
First, it was one IDF officer who spoke out – severely out of turn, actually: GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Roni Numa.
While, of course, there is no guarantee that there are no other officers with similar opinions, he was not speaking for the security forces more broadly – which is the impression that had been lent when Haaretz originally ran with the story.
It was MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi – pictured below) who revealed the identity of the “anonymous source.” Numa was apparently reprimanded both by Defense Minister Ya’alon and by the Prime Minister.
Netanyahu has made it clear that there will not be any weapons or other gestures to the PA. The political echelon in the country, which has the final word, is not at all in favor of any such suggestions. In fact, reports are that top government officials responded with anger.
It is with a sense of déjà vu, then, that I report that late last week reports surfaced of intent by the Civil Administration to turn over land in area C to the PA, as a goodwill gesture. The area spoken of was 10,000 dunams (2,500 acres).
Today, speaking to his Likud faction, Netanyahu said (in a statement relayed to the press by an official at the PMO):
“not 40,000 square meters, not 10,000 meters and not a single meter.”
What is important in a situation such as this, is that Netanyahu has right-wing MKs in his coalition – in his own party and in Bayit Hayehudi – who work to keep him “on track.” With all of the grief we endure, it is my observation that over time the government of Israel is moving to the right.
And I would say the same about the top echelon of the IDF. While we have those such as General Numa, I am delighted that increasingly up and coming officers come out of the Dati Leumi (religious nationalist) world.
A couple of other notes here:
Just today, Defense Minister Ya’alon responded to criticism from MK Lieberman and others that there should be an increased IDF operation in Judea and Samaria. Part of his response is absolutely on the mark, and merits attention:
As part of Oslo agreements, major cities – area A – had been turned over to PA control. But in 2002, with the second intifada, the IDF went back into those cities in Operation Defensive Shield to clean out terrorist cells. And “we haven’t stopped doing so…Such operations take place dozens of times a day.”
Important to understand that this is going on and on what a significant scale. It is part of what makes the notion of giving the PA any sort of sovereignty a ludicrous idea from a purely security perspective.
“If there’s information about a terrorist in some place, we just go in and arrest him, even in the heart of Area A, in the refugee camp of Jenin or the Qasbah in Nablus. This time we don’t need another Operation Defensive Shield…There’s no need for divisions. An undercover unit goes in, carries out the arrest and leaves.”
Sadly, my friends, I report that the terrorism has not come to an end. Today alone there were two stabbing attacks in Jerusalem within three hours.
But I end on a joyous note. I had written already about the invitation extended to the people of Israel by Sarah Litman and Ariel Biegel, following the terrorist murder of her father and brother. On the day they were supposed to be wed, Sarah was sitting shiva. But, she announced, the wedding would delayed only days, and would be held at the Binyanei Hauma – Jerusalem Convention Center – to accommodate everyone.
‘Do not rejoice over me, my enemy, for I have fallen but I have gotten up,’
read the announcement. Oh! how they did get up.
The wedding was last Thursday evening. Some thousand guests were invited, and the chupah (the wedding ceremony) was enormously emotional. Later in the evening, the doors were opened to the thousands – who knows, very likely tens of thousands – waiting outside to celebrate with the couple. There were so many people that finally the doors were closed and some remained dancing outside. (The couple did come out to see them.)
Here, a beautiful Sarah being celebrated:
And here just some of those rejoicing outside:
What a special people are we!
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“We Have Legal Grounds” –