A new President was elected. – TWTW 18 June, 2014

Shalom all,

Day 6 of the Kidnapping – the boys are still missing.
With each passing day, indeed, with each passing hour, the concern grows over the fate of the three kidnapped teens. The search for them has been designated as “Operation Shuvu Achim” (Come Back [or Return], Brothers) and is said to be the biggest campaign in Judea and Samaria since Operation Defensive Shield, in 2002. Israeli security forces are combing the area in and around Hevron and Shechem, house by house and made about 200 arrests, including dozens of Hamas terrorist suspects, some of whom are senior members of Hamas, in an effort to obtain information regarding the whereabouts of the boys. During the search, tunnels were discovered under residences, leading to bunkers that are equipped with facilities that, according to the IDF, could house individuals “for years”. One such bunker was shown the other day on the news. It was equipped with bathroom facilities, electricity, refrigerators and places to sleep. Other searches by the IDF have uncovered knives of all sizes, machetes, handguns and automatic weapons, even a laboratory for the production of armaments. Although information from obtained from some of the persons arrested revealed a clear link to Hamas, the location of the youths remains an open question.

Minister Naftali Bennett, the Chairman of the Jewish Home Party, said that Hamas is going to feel the wrath of the IDF: “The game vis-a-vis Hamas in Judea and Samaria has completely changed following the abduction of the boys…We have the information that Hamas is behind it and we are operating against Hamas with full force…We are creating a situation in which Hamas’s men become a nuisance for the “Palestinian” population; that their presence in Judea and Samaria will mean automatic damage, everywhere…In other words – we are turning membership in Hamas into an entry pass to hell.”

The families of the three teens met today for the first time since the kidnapping. The mother of Naftali Frenkel, who also holds American citizenship, met with reporters, while the parents of the other two boys were on either side of her. She said that the meeting of the families was “very significant” and added: “We want … to strengthen security forces, who are working day and night, the decision makers, and the prime minister, who is in contact with us. We pray that all the soldiers, and our children, will come home without injury. We send out thanks to all, every participating in this extraordinary effort. During these days, we feel deeply embraced by the entire Jewish nation, which accompanies us throughout the day, which gives us so much support. We ask that the prayers continue … That’s it, all we want is to hug our children. Eyal, Gil-ad, Naftali, we love you, we miss you, be strong, be strong.”

When I first came to Israel about 30 years ago, I wept with the loss of each soldier and with the loss of every civilian because of an act of terror. I joined with the nation as it wept over its sons and daughters, who were killed in a bus bombing, or a suicide bombing in a mall, or in a crowded restaurant, or at a discoteque or as a result of other terrorist incidents. One cannot remain unmoved watching and listening to bereaved families at fresh grave sites, or to stories told of children who were blinded, or whose limbs were shot off while on their way home from school. I wept with those who wept and mourned with those who mourned. I thought I had seen and heard just about everything. I thought I could control my emotions. But, I quickly discovered today that I can’t. My mind raced as I thought of the kidnapped boys. I asked the same questions that we are all asking: Are they still alive? How are they holding up? Are they eating? Are they able to sleep? Why haven’t we heard from the kidnappers about their ‘demands’ for the release of these youths? I thought of the pain and anguish of the families and close friends, who lives have been turned upside down since last Thursday night. And I listened to the mother of Naftali Frenkel, who bravely faced the television cameras and spoke on behalf of all three families, thanking people for their encouragement and encouraging them in return to continue to pray for the safe return of their sons. These three sets of parents are like other parents, who want the best for their children, who invest time and energy to provide for their children’s needs in all areas, whether physical or spiritual, to the best of their ability.

One of the members of the same community expressed what many believed: “We are all really in the same boat. There is a need for unity because this is not just something private that happened to one family; this is something that affects everyone and the whole nation.” Indeed, it really does.

But, not everyone is affected in the same way. Some say “this one” is to blame, others say “that one”. And there are those who will forever maintain their leftist agenda and try to make excuses for terrorists and murderers and to shift the blame to the victim.

In his article that appeared in Israel Hayom on the 15th of June, Dror Eydar cogently wrote: “As far as the Israeli Left is concerned, the Palestinians, with their terror organizations and murderous intentions, are like mindless children. They have been killing us for the last century because for them, we all [are] the settlers. Even in Tel Aviv…But they [the “Palestinians”] don’t need excuses to kill or kidnap. Look around and you’ll see how they do the exact same thing to thousands of their own people every day. It is their culture. It is not about territory, nor is it about a sovereign state, and certainly not about peace. Now there is talk against the release of prisoners as a matter of principle. I am all in favor. We have been releasing prisoners for decades. I was opposed to the Schalit deal, and to all the prisoner swaps that preceded it. But for heaven’s sake, can’t we wait a minute? In any case, linking prisoner releases to settlement anywhere in the land of Israel is fundamentally wrong. What difference does it make whether they kill or kidnap? Did anyone ask why those children who were killed at the Dolphinarium nightclub in 2001 were in Tel Aviv? “Yeshiva students” and “settlers” are the type of descriptions that prevent the pro-[Palestinians] among us from feeling empathy toward the abducted teenagers. But they do not dictate how we live — this is the truth for us: Over the weekend, the latest batch of terrorists kidnapped three Jewish boys.”

This excuse mentality took on exaggerated proportions when Hanin Zoabi, a Member of Knesset with the Arab party Balad continued what many consider as her anti-Israeli activities. Until yesterday, she was mostly remembered for her participation in the Mavi Marmara, Gaza flotilla incident in 2010, which led to an investigation regarding possible abuse of her immunity as a Knesset Member. At that time, she accused Israel of slaughter with regard to the Mavi Marmara. Two months later, she accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and some of her Knesset privileges were revoked. In 2011, she tried to justify the firing of a missile against an Israeli bus, where a youth was killed. In 2012, following the Burges bus bombing, where Israelis were killed, she said “When civilians are killed – the occupation is to blame.”

Yesterday, she added insult to injury when, during an interview with Tel Aviv Radio, she said that those who were behind the kidnapping of the three teens “are not terrorists…they are people who see no other way to change their reality, so they are forced to use these means … at least until Israel wises up, and until Israeli society opens up and feels the pain of the other.” The kidnapping did not surprise her. She excused it by saying: “People living under occupation live abnormal lives”.

Not surprisingly, her comments generated immediate response by various members of the Knesset. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman did not hold back his anger, noting that she should be dealt with in the same manner as the terrorists, stating, “[Not] only are the kidnappers terrorists, but Hanin Zoabi is also a terrorist. The fate of kidnappers should be the same as that of the one inciting to kidnap.”

Likud MK Miri Regev, who has had run-ins with Zoabi in the past, and as recently as Monday over the kidnapping, urged that Zoabi should “be expelled to Gaza and her immunity stripped from her. She is a traitor.” If that could be accomplished, it would seem to be the right thing at the right time. Whether or not she would be accepted in Gaza is another story. The Jewish Home party issued a statement saying that “Zoabi is the terrorists’ representative in the Knesset [and that] in her provocation she harms the public she is supposed to represent…Zoabi’s presence in the Knesset proves the State of Israel is the most tolerant to minorities and supporters of terror, maybe too much so. Like it is unfathomable to imagine an al-Qaeda representative in Congress calling for the murder of Americans, the time has come for Israel to take action regarding Zoabi.”

Indeed, Yariv Levin (Likud), who is the Coalition Chairman, requested Israel’s Attorney General to investigate Zoabi because of her comments, saying that her statements were like an “incitement to terror”. Levin added that “steps must be taken immediately to stop Zoabi’s hateful incitement campaign … and the support for terror she leads.”

Zoabi’s comments were said to have been prompted by a pro-Israel video posted on the Facebook page of one of Zoabi’s relatives, a 17-year old from Nazareth, where he strongly condemned the kidnapping: “To the terrorists who kidnapped our children: return them and you had better return them now…To Bibi, our Prime Minister, and to everyone in his government I say: “Wake up and stop cooperating with saboteurs and terrorists. The “Palestinian” Authority is of the greatest of terrorists. Two days ago [before publishing his comments on Facebook] these youths were kidnapped, and tomorrow it could be me, you or any other Israeli, Arab or Jew…Our enemies do not differentiate between Arabs and Jews. For them we are all Israelis. And you know what? I am proud of that. Israel will remain here as a Jewish and democratic state. The people of Israel live [Am Yisrael Chai]”. Zoabi denied that he was related to her and did not know his family. Replying to his video, she said that “we are talking about a youth who is delusional, detached from reality, who does not know the history of his people.” (my translation) Following his video, the youth received many threats through his Facebook page, as well as by other means, resulting in the arrests of several relatives. The posted video shows the youth speaking in Hebrew, Arabic and English and can be seen in Hebrew as well as in English.

And, while our military and security forces are making every effort to locate the boys, “Palestinian” children were celebrating the abduction of our young men, showing once again the effect of brainwashing another generation into hatred of Jews and Israel. Although the Prime Minister told the President of the “Palestinian” Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, that we expected his help to locate and rescue the kidnapped boys, Abbas was too busy visiting his wife, following her knee surgery that took place on the “hush hush” in an Israeli hospital in Tel-Aviv. It is amazing that Zoabi did not condemn Abbas for allowing his wife to be operated on within the confines of the “occupation”, which, by the way, also pays Zoabi’s salary. Maybe she should refuse to accept payment from Israel and ask the “Palestinians”, or more specifically, Hamas, to pay her wages instead, or maybe she should simply transfer her entire salary to them. I wonder what excuses she would come up with if confronted with that option.

What remains puzzling to me is why the Knesset does not require all of its Members to swear allegiance to the State of Israel upon being sworn in. That would make it easier to revoke such membership when governmental privileges and immunities are violated, like in the present instance.

Before signing off for today, it should be noted that local and regional Arabs are following the kidnapping with interest (as it affects how they will deal with, or come against, Israel in the future).  In Gaza, the stronghold of Hamas, residents are already preparing for war. The 3-finger victory salute, approving of the kidnapping of the three boys, is spreading throughout “Palestinian” and Arab social media. In the U.S., internal politics and the fighting in Iraq capture most of the attention. In Europe, the kidnapping is of considerably less interest. During the first 48 hours following the kidnapping, which could result in prolonged and violent regional confrontation, there was hardly a trace of comment in the European media. Since then, media coverage increased, due to the arrests of senior members of Hamas in Judea and Samaria. But, the crisis over the kidnapping still has not captured front-page news and European coverage of the incident is scant, while coverage in the Arab and U.S. media is focused more on the crisis in Iraq. The world media have by and large been apathetic to what is happening here, even to the extent of failing to provide live coverage of the military sweep in Hevron, the statements of senior members of the government and the arrest of senior members of Hamas. This is in contrast to coverage that has taken place during large and complicated military campaigns here. One of the European television producers admitted that the kidnapping just does not interest foreign press, adding that it is considered a small matter from the world’s perspective. If, God forbid, the situation should explode into large-scale military action, where dead and wounded will be displayed in living color in living rooms around the world, will people ask “how did it get to this point?”

The story is not over and there is much that still needs to be said. Clearly, this is not the only news in Israel of late, but it is on the front page of every newspaper and continues page after page almost to the sports section. As I mentioned in TWTW … ending 14 September, 2013: Earl Warren, the Former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, was quoted, in 1968, as saying that when he reads a newspaper: “I always turn to the sports section first. The sports section records people’s accomplishments; the front page nothing but man’s failures.”

Reuven Rivlin will be Israel’s new President.
The Knesset vote is in, and Likud MK Reuven Rivlin has been elected Israel’s tenth president. A fairly beloved figure in Israel and affectionately known to many as “Rubi” (and “Ruby” and “Ruvi”), he is a relative unknown abroad.

Rubi is a staunch hawk and does not believe in a “two-state solution”, which he has expressed on many occasions. But, he recently indicated that he would not interfere in government decisions in this regard. He would prefer a “binational state”, where “Palestinians” would be granted full citizenship, rather than so-called solutions that would result in dividing the country. He refers to himself as “utopian”, with a “vision that suddenly all the Jewish people [from around the world] will come to live here… And if there were 10 million Jews here, we wouldn’t have to give up on anything.” Despite his clear, right-wing stance and reputation, he was backed by those from the right-wing and left-wing camps alike when elected as Israel’s president.

Rivlin has had his run-ins with P.M. Netanyahu, who would have preferred Nobel-Laureate Elie Wiesel to be the president. But, the nomination of Wiesel would have been submitted late and there would not be any opportunity to extend the deadline for nominations. The alleged “bad blood” reportedly stems from friction between the two men resulting from a comment made by Rivlin referring to the involved in political affairs of wife of the Prime Minister, Sara Netanyahu. However, others assert that the rift was over Rivlin’s criticism of some of Netanyahu’s policies, while the former served as Speaker of the Knesset.

His family has been in Israel since 1809, when his ancestor, Rabbi Hillel Rivlin, was sent here, along with other students of the rabbinic scholar, the Vilna Gaon, to establish a Jewish community. He and his son purchased land in Jerusalem for a Jewish settlement and some other family members were among the first settlers of the cities of Rosh Pina, Petah Tikva and Kiryat Shmuel.

Back in 2001, a young, female activist threw a cream pie at his face. Rivlin, who is known to have a good sense of humor, responded: “I have insurance for many things, but not for whipped cream.”

Nine years later, in June, 2010, he presided over one of the most heated debates in Knesset history, involving none other than MK Hanin Zoabi, as she was about to return to the Knesset for the first time, after her participation in the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident. As will be recalled, that ship tried to breach the naval blockade of Gaza, which resulted in attacks upon Israeli commandos and the subsequent deaths of nine activists and a tenth one, who recently died. As expected, the Knesset debate on “Israeli reaction to the Gaza flotilla” was not the most friendly of sessions. It quickly turned ugly, with several MKs almost physically fighting each other and, finally, the expulsion of 14 MKs from the session. Rivlin expressed that the session was the most tense Knesset debate since the debate over the Holocaust reparation agreement with Germany in 1952.

He understands that the presidency is, essentially, a ceremonial position and said that he would not intervene in Knesset decisions, as it is the MKs who “will decide Israel’s borders and its [policies on] peace. The president is a bridge to enable debate, to reduce tensions, to alleviate frictions.” Someone really should have explained that years ago to outgoing president, Shimon Peres.

And THAT is the follow-up for now. Your continued prayers for the well-being and safe return of the kidnapped boys would be much appreciated. Indeed, the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Now the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you, and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done? “Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.'” When the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. So they named that place Bochim; and there they sacrificed to the LORD. (Judges 2:1-5; emphasis mine)

Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.



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