Appropriate Reading for Tisha B’Av

Today is Tisha B’Av – the ninth of Av, which is a fast day (24 hours versus those fasts which are only during daylight hours) and commemorates the destruction of both temples in Jerusalem. Many tragic things happened to the Jewish people on this day. I thought that the following links would serve as “appropriate” reading for this day.

The first is a link to lists of all of the terrorist attacks and fatalities in Israel from 1948 until May of 2013. Starting in 2000 and going for the next three years the numbers are hideous. After the Oslo Accords (bringing “peace at last” to Israel) the Israeli government gave a lot of autonomy to the Arabs in Yehuda and Shomron, and kept the IDF out of mostly Arab cities. This loosening of restrictions led directly to Arab terror - here is list of the attacks and victims from 1993 until 2000.  After 2000 when Arafat decided it was to his benefit “go all out” – what was called the second intifada broke out, and the terrorists used the advantage they had to launch even more attacks on Israelis. This included rock throwing, hurling Molotov cocktails, and rioting in the streets. When this did not enlist a reaction from the Israeli government and the IDF, it progressed to suicide bombers. 2002 was a particularly bad year – especially March. I personally remember one week where there were three separate suicide bombers on Israeli busses. I remember feeling as if I couldn’t breathe – just from the feeling of sorrow. After the suicide bomber blew himself up in the Park hotel in Netanya on the first night of Passover, and another terrorist broke into a home in Elon Moreh and killed three members of the Gavish family, Arik Sharon finally called the IDF to launch an attack and go into the Arab cities again to root out the terrorists. After that the number of terrrorist attacks went down to “normal” levels (which would be shocking in any other country). Here is a list of the attacks since 2000, with the names and ages of the victims themselves. The list is heartbreakingly long, and it puts a m0re personal face to the tragedies.

To give you a “taste” here is the listing for July 16, 2001:

July 16, 2001 – Cpl. Hanit Arami, 19, and St.Sgt. Avi Ben Harush, 20, both of Zichron Yaakov, were killed and 11 wounded – 3 seriously – when a bomb exploded in a suicide terrorist attack at a bus stop near the train station in Binyamina, halfway between Netanya and Haifa, at about 19:30 Monday evening. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

This is the listing for a week in March, 2002: (39 killed, 168 injured in one week) Look at the ages here – it boggles the mind.

Mar 27, 2002 – 30 people were killed and 140 injured – 20 seriously – in a suicide bombing in the Park Hotel in the coastal city of Netanya, in the midst of the Passover holiday seder with 250 guests. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The victims: Shula Abramovitch, 63, of Holon; David Anichovitch, 70, of Netanya; Sgt.-Maj. Avraham Beckerman, 25, of Ashdod; Shimon Ben-Aroya, 42, of Netanya; Andre Fried, 47, of Netanya; Idit Fried, 47, of Netanya; Miriam Gutenzgan, 82, Ramat Gan; Ami Hamami, 44, of Netanya; Perla Hermele, 79, of Sweden; Dvora Karim, 73, of Netanya; Michael Karim, 78, of Netanya; Yehudit Korman, 70, of Ramat Hasharon; Marianne Myriam Lehmann Zaoui, 77, of Netanya; Lola Levkovitch, 85, of Jerusalem; Furuk Na’imi, 62, of Netanya; Eliahu Nakash, 85, of Tel-Aviv; Irit Rashel, 45, of Moshav Herev La’et; Yulia Talmi, 87, of Tel-Aviv; St.-Sgt. Sivan Vider, 20, of Bekaot; Ernest Weiss, 79, of Petah Tikva; Eva Weiss, 75, of Petah Tikva; Meir (George) Yakobovitch, 76, of Holon. Chanah Rogan, 92, of Netanya; Zee’v Vider, 50, of Moshav Bekaot; Alter Britvich, 88, and his wife Frieda, 86, of Netanya died of their injuries on April 2-3, 2002. Sarah Levy-Hoffman, 89, of Tel-Aviv died of her injuries on April 7, 2002. Anna Yakobovitch, 78, of Holon died of her injuries on April 11, 2002. Eliezer Korman, 74, of Ramat Hasharon died of his wounds on May 5, 2002. Clara Rosenberger, 77, of Jerusalem died of her wounds on June 25, 2003.

Mar 28, 2002 – Rachel and David Gavish, 50, their son Avraham Gavish, 20, and Rachel’s father Yitzhak Kanner, 83, were killed when a terrorist infiltrated the community of Elon Moreh in Samaria, entered their home and opened fire on its inhabitants. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Mar 29, 2002 – Tuvia Wisner, 79, of Petah Tikva and Michael Orlansky, 70, of Tel-Aviv were killed Friday morning, when a Palestinian terrorist infiltrated the Neztarim settlement in the Gaza Strip. Mar 29, 2002 – Lt. Boaz Pomerantz, 22, of Kiryat Shmona and St.-Sgt. Roman Shliapstein, 22, of Ma’ale Efraim were killed in the course of the IDF anti-terrorist action in Ramallah (Operation Defensive Shield).

Mar 29, 2002 – Rachel Levy, 17, and Haim Smadar, 55, the security guard, both of Jerusalem, were killed and 28 people were injured, two seriously, when a female suicide bomber blew herself up in the Kiryat Yovel supermarket in Jerusalem. The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack.

Of course, we cannot forget the rocket attacks from Gaza. Here are statistics for the decade between 2000-2010. This link summarizes the terror policies of Hamas in the Gaza strip.

If anyone should think everything is fine now, the road terror is on an upswing. (And we all know what happens when you don’t nip this in the bud – it leads to worse things). Earlier this month one of the stars of the Latma network (Israeli satire group) was traveling in her car with her small child when they were attacked by rock throwers. Thank G-d noone was killed.

Tzom kal to my readers who are fasting, and may we see better things very soon.

Justice Comes Slowly

A military court has ruled that the those who purchased a house near Maarat HaMachpela (the Cave of the Patriarchs) did so legally. This ruling came a year after the Civil Adminstration forced the people who were living in the house to leave, claiming that the purchase was not legal.

Now they have to wait for the Defense Minister to sign a paper granting them the right to move back in.

It is a very frustrating fight to win the “right” to live in a house you purchased, just because many don’t think it is politically correct. In the end, though, justice prevails, even if it takes a long time.

I think it is ironic that so many left-wing Israelis, many living in parts of Tel Aviv that used to be populated by Arabs but were taken over by the Israeli government after the War of Independene, are outraged at the thought of Jews buying up houses in Hebron and east Jerusalem. In these cases the Jews are purchasing the property outright – but are still criticized.

They Are Very Afraid

The religous Zionist segment of Israeli society is disproportinately represented in the officer’s corps in the IDF. We comprise approximately 12% of Israeli society, but 35% of the officers in the IDF wear the knitted kippa (skullcap).

This disproportion is very frightening to some secular Israelis, especially in academia – so much so that it has been studied. Israel HaYom has an interesting article about this topic, which is essentially a book review of a collection of essays.

The essays are written from various viewpoints. I find it ironic that those who are most frightened of the fact that so many national religious young men are now officers are mistaken about the viewpoints held by these officers. They assume, wrongly, that those national religious soldiers hold views that are, for want of a better term “extremely right wing” concerning future borders of Israel, and that these viewpoints will seriously affect how they act in the army.

Perhaps it is all relative, but from my experience I see that the men in the national religious camp that are extremely right wing either do not serve at all, or serve for a very short time, and are most certainly not the ones who go on to become officers. They usually sit and learn in yeshiva, and do the minimum of army required by the hesder program (14 months, versus the committment to three full years for officers).

The religious men who do go on to become officers are committed to the army for the best of reasons, and with the guidance of their rabbis serve to the best of their ability while following the halacha. For the most part their motivation for being in the army in general and their desire to be officers in particular comes from an overarching ideal – that of serving Klal Yisrael and protecting their fellow Jews. This ideal then makes it easier for them to perhaps follow a more lenient interpretation on some halachic issues where others would take a more stricter view.

Therefore the fear by many in the secular camp in Israel about the national religious in the army is misplaced and completely blown out of proportion. It comes from not understanding the nuances of a different sector of the country.

Third Iron Dome System Operational in Northern Israel

The IDF has set up the third Iron Dome battery in the northern part of Israel.  The other two were set up within the past few weeks. This is a sign that Israel expects rocket fire coming from the north – either from Hizbollah in Lebanon or from either Assad or the rebels in Syria – or perhaps even both.

This comes in a addition to the anouncement that President Obama will (finally) come to visit Israel next month. He is coming supposedly to further peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians (good luck with that….) but I think he will be speaking more about the problems in Iran and Syria.

The fact that Ahmadinejad is visiting Egypt now – the first time an Iranian leader has done this in three decades – is a warning sign too. For those of you not familiar with history, the sliver of land called Israel has been in the middle of wars between the ruling powers around Egypt in the southwest and Syria in the northeast for centuries. The players change frequently but the fight for supremacy is the same. The fact tha Iran has backed Assad in Syria has made it in conflict with Egypt – but perhaps now that there is a new ruler in Egypt Iran wants to warm up relations.

In any case the IDF is making preparations for the next round.

The Blessing of Rain

Israel is always thirsty for rain. The Kinneret is our only source of “sweet” water – there are desalination plants that process some of the water from the Mediterranean Sea, but we are mainly dependent on the Kinneret and the underground reserves.

The heavy winter rains both last year and this have added precious centimeters to the level of the Kinneret – so much so that it is at its highest level in more than seven years. Most predict that it will reach its full capacity by the end of the winter.

Another blessing that the rain has given Israel is the fact that Hamas has ordered the closing of the  smuggling tunnels (from Egypt to Gaza), since the rain has caused more than one to collapse. These tunnels are used to smuggle in drugs and weapons used against Israel.

The blessings of rain.

American Jews and the Birth of the Israeli Airforce

American Jews were a crucial part of the birth of the Israeli Air Force, and helped the state of Israel survive the War of Independence. This sample video of a documentary in the making shows some of the interesting personalities that risked their lives to help win the war. Enjoy!

A Nice Profile Piece on Danny Danon – and Another Reason to Vote Likud

There is a nice profile piece on Danny Danon (not to be confused with Danny Dayan) in the Times of Israel website. Danon is a secular right wing candidate on the Likud Beitenu list. For those of you who are hesitant about whether to vote for Likud Beitenu or Bayit Yehudi, this article is worth a look. Danon is typical of the character of the Likud list.

The Likud has an excellent list of right wing candidates this time around, and it would be a real shame not to vote for them because of the desire to support a sectoral party. All of the members in the first twenty spots on the Likud slate, except for Moshe Feiglin, have been Knesset Members before. They have experience and know how to pass legislation.

The Bayit Yehudi list does not come close. The head, Naftali Bennet, is a newcomer to the Knesset, as is the rest of his list except for three members (Uri Ariel, Nissim Smoliansky and Uri Orbach). This means that if Bayit Yehudi gets 14 seats, 11 of them will be filled with complete newcomers. I don’t doubt their sincerity, but I do doubt their political savvy and their ability to get things done.

 

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