This has been a tough week. First the news that the bodies of the 3 kidnapped, Jewish teens were found. After the funeral the following day, the body of an Arab teen was found in a Jerusalem forest, burned. It was believed that his death was the result of revenge for the deaths of the three Jewish youths. The death of the Arab teen sparked widespread riots in Arab-controlled communities throughout Israel, which continue as of this writing. Arrests were made in connection with the latter killing. There were many other events, but life and death seemed to be the major issues during the last week.
Bodies of kidnapped boys found; the nation mourns with the families.
What started out as a report of events of last week came to an abrupt halt on Monday, as the bodies were found of the three teenagers, who were kidnapped on June 12th. In a moment, anticipation and heartache turned into heartbreak and anger over their murders. The parents of the three boys were informed. All government meetings were cancelled and the security cabinet met in emergency session to decide what measures were to be taken. Since then, the security cabinet met at least four times.
It was only the week before when the mothers of the three Jewish youths went to Switzerland to speak to the Human Rights Council. Mis-information can create a tremendous impact and has lots of power. When combined with outright lies and deception, even those who are astute can be taken in.
I am attaching a link for you and Phyllis of Rachel Fraenkel’s speech and the UN “discussion” on the missing teens. Note how many times the youths are referred to as “settlers” and by whom.
The mother of Gil-ad, 16, one of the 3 boys said that her experience in Switzerland was “a nightmare within a nightmare…Under any other circumstances, I could have enjoyed the trip to Switzerland. But this was a nightmare. It was a nightmare within a nightmare. What we sometimes read in the papers about anti-Israel sentiments, this time it was directed at us. I needed more mental preparation to face the kind of indifference I encountered there. It was frustrating. You meed another senior official and another senior official, the president of the Red Cross and members of the Human Rights Council, and no one bats an eye.”
The nightmare only got worse, as the parents heard the news that the bodies of their missing sons were found. In accordance with Jewish custom, arrangements were made for speedy burial of the youths. Preliminary gatherings were held in the respective communities of the three families, with representatives of the government being present at each location. “A voice is [again] heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children…because they are no more.” (Jer. 31:15)
That was followed by a funeral service for all three, attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, out-going President Shimon Peres and a number of other government ministers. They were joined by a vast multitude of citizens, who came from all parts of the country. Dozens of buses were not able to enter the cemetery area because of the number of vehicles that already came, so they allowed their passengers to go off the buses and walk to the area where the funerals were being held.
It was a time of deep sorrow, tears and national mourning. The boys captured the heart of the nation, as we referred to them by their first names. As it turned out, they were shot almost immediately following their kidnapping and a two-minute voice tape of Gil-ad’s phone call to the police recording their abductors telling them to lower their heads, followed by sounds of shots, which was followed by laughter. Apparently, they were in touch with someone else by phone and indicated that they had killed the three.
Sorrow and sympathy quickly turned to anger and outrage, as calls for revenge sprang up from a number of different places within Israeli society. The government did its best to discourage people from taking the law into their own hands and urged them to allow the military and security forces to exact the price for the deaths of the boys. As P.M. Netanyahu said: “Hamas is responsible and Hamas will pay.”
An Arab teenager was kidnapped and killed.
While Israel garnered some sympathy and encouragement from various places around the world for about a day, immediately after the discovery of the bodies of the kidnapped teens. Nevertheless, that sympathy and understanding quickly faded and condemnation of Israel resumed the day after the funeral, when the body of Muhammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Arab youth was found in a Jerusalem forest. While sitting about a block away from his home at 4:00 a.m., he was kidnapped and then killed, apparently burned to death. And, following an autopsy, it appears that he was still alive (but not known to what extent) when he was burned. It became an immediate condemnation by the Arab community, who began to riot in various places throughout Israel. In one place, Kalanswa, Israeli drivers were being stopped by masked Arabs and were asked where they were from. If they answered in Hebrew, they were dragged from their vehicles and beaten. One Israeli managed to get back into his car and escape. Another Israeli ran away, leaving his car, which was then set ablaze and totally destroyed. Violent demonstrations continued in many Arab-controlled areas, resulting in lots of arrests and injuries. “Palestinian” leaders are letting the violent riots run their course, being very careful not to upset their own constituency. Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the “Palestinian” Authority, blamed Israeli “settlers” for the kidnapping and murder and hasn’t intervened to stop the riots.
If that were not enough, apparently one of the victim’s cousins, who is a U.S. citizen and was visiting here, took part in the riots against the police where masked rioters threw stones at Israel’s security forces, causing injury to a police officer. The police said that the cousin was resisting arrest, but was caught, was resisting arrest and detained by the police. “Palestinians” claim of the police used excessive force against the cousin and this, too, could become an international incident due to the fact that he is an American citizen. In a statement issued by the U.S. Statement Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, she said that the U.S. was “profoundly troubled by reports that he was severely beaten while in police custody and strongly condemn[ed] any excessive use of force.” She added that the U.S. was “calling for a speedy, transparent and credible investigation and full accountability for any excessive use of force.” How quickly the issues get confused when it comes to accusing Israel of wrongdoing. I guess it is OK to throw stones and injure the police here, as long as the police don’t use “excessive force” to defend themselves and subdue the stone thrower. Where was the pressure placed on the newly re-married P.A. (Fatah and Hamas) to investigate and bring to justice the kidnappers and killers of the three Jewish teens, one of whom was a U.S. citizen? Only a handful of officials in the U.S. mentioned that Naftali was one of their native sons as well. Even today, representatives of the “Palestinians” say that they are not helping the government of Israel to Governments and individuals are quick to criticize Israel about almost anything we do. They remain silent when we are attacked, kidnapped and killed, as well as when rockets are fired into our populated cities by a terrorist organization that is sworn to the destruction of Israel. But, if we should defend ourselves and strike back, then we are “urged” to exercise restraint. I’d like to see what kind of restraint the G-8 and the European Union would exercise when their cities are attacked with missiles by a terrorist organization that is capable of being eliminated or rendered inoperable. Until they live a month on our soil and in our shoes, they who live in glass houses should be careful about the verbal stones that they throw.
In the latest development, Israel has arrested several people, who are members of a Jewish extremist cell and who are suspected of carrying out the killing of Muhammed Abu Khdeir, in revenge for the killing of the three Israeli teens on June 12th. The boy’s mother is calling upon Israel to demolish the suspects’ homes, like Israel did with the homes of the two suspected Hamas operatives who are sought in connection with the deaths of the Jewish youths.
Prime Minister Netanyahu extended his condolences to the family of the “Palestinian” teen, saying: “I wish to send my condolences to the family of the teen and promise them that we will find those behind this horrific crime and bring them to justice. There is no place for such murders in our society.” While visiting the families of the three, murdered Israeli teens, Netanyahu said he did not “differentiate between terror and terror” and promised to act firmly in the face incitement, adding: “I condemn calls of ‘death to Arabs’ just like I condemn calls of ‘death to Jews… This is a sensitive time and I urge everyone to act responsibly.”
Israel’s Finance Minister, Yair Lapid, added “[We] must all feel shame at the new recent events … We cannot differentiate between blood and blood. Radicals’ attempts to take the law into their own hands harms the social fabric of Israeli society, our international interests and our attempts to fight terror.”
Economy Minister, Naftali Bennett, called the murder “heinous … anti-moral and anti-Jewish.” The above were joined by widespread condemnation of the killing from other segments of the Israeli political arena.
Israel – A Society That Honors Life
It would seem that a caption like this would be out of place, in light of the recent events surrounding the killing of the Arab youth. But, it doesn’t. It should be clear that the murder of youths is not acceptable. A revenge murder will not lessen the grief of the families, or of the nation, over the loss of the three Jewish teens who were kidnapped and killed at the hands of terrorists. Strong action needs to be taken against terrorists, whoever and wherever they are. It is a national embarrassment that we would behave like our enemies, which is totally contrary to our national being.
Our soldiers are the most moral in the world. Our attitude towards life is embodied in our greetings and blessings of one another for long and healthy life. We lift a glass and toast “L’Chaim” – to life. It is part and parcel of our identity as a people, who have been persecuted and marked for murder ever since we became a nation, who were brought out from Egypt by God’s mighty hand.
Yes, Israel is a society that honors life, contrary to Hamas and much of the “Palestinian” society that exalts death. The loss of our children touches the heartstrings of our nation. That is why three years ago, Israel was willing to exchange 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Shalit, a soldier held by Hamas for 5 years. That is why Israel remains in a trauma over the disappearance 28 years ago of airforce navigator Ron Arad. We don’t want to experience any more situations like that.
Israel’s attitude towards her children is well expressed in the article “We Pray for the Children”, by Rabbi Ed Feinstein, on July 1st, just after the funeral of the 3 boys:
I visited Israel for the first time when I was 16 years old. I came with my family and we stayed inJerusalem with friends who had immigrated years before. Each night, the neighborhood kids took me out on the town. When my parents expressed their reservations about this, they were told not to worry. Israel was safe for kids. In Israel, everyone looked after kids. In Israel, everyone was family, there were no strangers. As a protest against the fear that haunted the generations of Jewish exile, Israel had constructed a child-safe society, a child-nurturing society. Embracing children was the way Israel affirmed life after a generation of Jewish death.
Only if you understand how Israel looks upon children will you grasp why the tragedy of this week hurts so much. After so many wars, so much terror, after Intifada, suicide bombers and random rocket attacks, why are we so affected by the death of three young teens? Because Israel’s greatest achievement was to return the promise of childhood to the Jewish people. Childhood is the most powerful human symbol of renewal — of new life and new possibility, of an open future. The promise of childhood was taken from us in the Holocaust, in the pogroms and in the brutality of exile. Israel gave us back childhood in all its sweetness. And that’s what was murdered on a highway near Hebron.
“We will learn to sing without you,” affirmed the mother of Naftali Frankel. And at that, the entire Jewish people wept. This is more than politics, more than nations struggling for power and territory.
This week, Israel struggles for life against death, for hope against despair. This week, Israel struggles for childhood and its dreams. There will be military operations and diplomatic negotiation. Those will not heal the wounds nor will bring closure. What was taken cannot be won back by bullets, but only by a renewal of hope, a rekindling of faith in tomorrow.
So this week, we will hold our children tighter, and we will pray. This week, the entire Jewish people join together in prayer for the children we have lost. We will ask God for the strength to reassure our children that tomorrow is coming….soon.
In similar fashion and on the same day, Emily Amrousi, an Israeli reporter who lives in the same community with two of the families, wrote a moving article, which describes the attitude of the families, the community and the nation during the 18-day ordeal. A portion of the article is printed here.
“And you, Eyal, Naftali, and Gil-ad — what you’ve done to our people. How you taught us to pray. Religious prayer and secular prayer, that came together to heal a wounded nation. How you reminded us that we are one. After who knows how long a separation, moments of unity are a precious light. Apart from a few cynics, the hearts of the entire people beat together with worry for you, and the entire people are weeping for your short time. How you caused flowers to bloom out of rock. In your deaths — pure and beautiful, young and smiling — you secured what many don’t manage to achieve in their lifetimes.
For two and a half weeks, we waited for you. And in the meantime, without knowing, you saved lives: huge stocks of weapons were found in Judea and Samaria, ammunition caches inside private homes. Who knows what slaughter they might have wreaked? The arrests of terrorists who were on the brink of the next attack, the intelligence gained, and waves of love for the soldiers. A smart, humane army that took on a huge operation in the name of the Jewish value of life. Everyone for the sake of three, and not a hair on a soldier’s head was harmed.“
The full article can be seen at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=18511
Rockets slam into the south of Israel.
Hamas is willing to reach a cease-fire with Israel, but only when it feels that it would be advantageous for it to do so and allow it time to re-organize, re-arm and return to its never-ending belligerence against Israel. Literally dozens of missiles rained down upon areas in the south of Israel this past week. Notwithstanding ultimatums from Israel, Hamas continue to send rockets into populated areas, causing property damage, but, by God’s grace, no loss of life. This Saturday alone, over 20 rockets and mortars were fired into southern communities from Gaza, as residents were once again forced into bomb shelters. Some fell in Beer Sheva, where our oldest son lives. He reported how he heard one of the rockets being shot down by the Iron Dome Anti-Missile Defense System and how he heard the “pop” of the missile being destroyed. A second rocket landed in an open area. This is not a way to live.
Israel responded with a series of airstrikes against terror targets in the Gaza Strip, taking out 10 terror sites, including concealed rocket launchers and a weapons manufacturing facility. In a statement issued by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), it said: “The IDF is prepared to defend the citizens of Israel from any threat and will continue to act decisively and as long as necessary until calm is restored”.
P.M. Netanyahu said this morning, at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting: “We are working on several fronts simultaneously. Overnight we were active against many Hamas targets in Gaza and the goal of all of our operations is to restore quiet and security to all of Israel’s citizens, especially the residents of the south…Experience proves that at such times we must act responsibly and with equanimity, not hastily. We will do whatever is necessary to restore quiet and security to the south.”
At the request of one of the readers of this blog, I am passing on to Mr. Netanyahu his suggestion how to “restore quiet and security to the south” – turn Gaza into a parking lot!
IS – Islamic State: The new Terrorist organization to watch and to watch out for.
We know that there is no making peace with Hamas. It is a blatant terrorist organization, whose primary political goal is to eradicate Israel. It has many friends in the Middle East, but most would prefer to remain “silent partners”. Not so, however, Iran. Not so the Hizb’allah. Not so al-Qaeda. And not so the Islamic State “(IS), formerly known as “ISIS” (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which is rapidly replacing al-Qaeda as the most dangerous and influential jihadist group in the world, being backed by thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria. The group is led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a self-proclaimed “caliph” and leader of Muslims everywhere, who this past Saturday ordered Muslims to obey him. His desire is to return Islam to its early years of extremism. Baghdadi is a shrewd battlefield commander, admired by his troops. Europe and the rest of the West need to get their heads out of the sand and not underestimate Baghdadi and IS as just another terrorist organization.
Enough for now. More encouraging news later.
And THAT was the week that was.
“He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions. The LORD alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with him.” (Deut. 32:10-12) – emphasis mine.
We are in the desert. No signposts. No directional arrows. When we don’t know which way to turn, we should hold onto the Hand of the One Who guides us. May our leaders have to wisdom to do so.
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing,
Have a great week.