Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
Having recently returned from a three week trip to Israel, I’m sorting out the information and impressions gathered from traveling throughout the country and meeting with many good friends, all dedicated to preserving Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael.
Viewed from the U.S., one sees the enormity of the problems, mostly caused by the fecklessness and ineptitude of Israel’s leaders, who seem determined to lead Israel off the cliff. There’s no need to itemize the list of abominations promoted by the government, beginning with its abandonment of the security and welfare of its Jewish citizens.
In the northern city of Safed, I found that the people are still suffering from the after-effects of last summer’s Lebanon war. In Jerusalem, I went to the demonstration tent set up by the unemployed farmers of the former Gush Katif communities who are demanding that the government fulfill its promises to find a “solution for every person.”
At a lunch meeting, Joel Golovensky of the Institute for Zionist Strategies presented me with an excellent booklet his organization had produced titled “Constitution of the State of Israel.” In addition to working on a constitution, IZS is trying to halt illegal Arab construction and has prepared a lengthy presentation regarding the ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court that land purchased by Jews, for the express purpose of developing it for the benefit of Jews, should now be available to Arabs and all non-Jews.
I took the 160 Egged bus to Hebron to meet with David Wilder, my good friend and the community’s spokesman. David took me to Beit HaShalom, the large building the Jewish community bought for $700,000 and for which they are now fighting in the courts, and then drove me up to Tel Rumeida, the highest point overlooking Hebron. He showed me a home, adjacent to the Jewish houses and caravans on the Tel, which belongs to a Hamas terrorist. Left-wingers from Israel and around the world have come to that home to “protect” it from the Jews.
In Kiryat Arba, I visited Rabbi Eliezer Waldman of the Nir Yeshiva, along with his longtime assistant, Celia Ofer. Rabbi Waldman, upset about President Bush’s speech of July 16, declared that no one, not even the president of the United States, has the right to dictate to Israel, a sovereign country, where it may settle its people. “The State of Israel is a divine creation of the God of Israel,” said Rabbi Waldman, “and only He determines its destiny.”
Back in Jerusalem, I met with Dr. Yitzchak Klein of the Israel Policy Center, which has produced publications such as an “Interim Report on Political Interrogation and Non-Induction of Candidates for Military Service into the IDF.” Candidates for the IDF who demonstrated against the Gush Katif expulsion are interrogated and in many cases marked as mentally unsuited for the army, which in Israel is akin to branding for life young people as unfit for other pursuits.
My next destination was Mitzpe Ramon, in the Negev, with a change of buses in Be’er Sheva. As soon as we were on the outskirts of the city, I saw Bedouin houses and tents sprawling in the now sandy landscape. The Bedouins are being mobilized by leftist groups like the New Israel Fund to demand land from the government – at a time when Jews throughout Israel are being crowded out of their land.
I returned to Jerusalem and met Chaim Silberstein of Uvneh Yerushalyim, (Rebuild Jerusalem), for a late afternoon tour of Kever Rachel, the grave of Mother Rachel in Bethlehem. The bus had to pass through the 25-foot-high walls that flank the approach to Rachel’s Tomb. Despite this ugliness, Chaim is very excited about his plans for both a bat mitzvah center and a woman’s learning center at the kever.
The night before the Ninth of Av, Women In Green held its traditional walk around the Old City walls, led by MK Arieh Eldad. We met the group at Safra Square for the reading of Eicha. The mood was somber, as befitted this sad occasion of remembrance. One could not help, however, but enjoy meeting so many old friends.
Black-helmeted police on motorcycles, and mounted police on the German horses that had played such a cruel part in the Amona expulsion, seemed to be everywhere. We finished our walk at the Kotel. The plaza was packed with people talking, praying, and crying.
About the Author: Helen Freedman is executive director of Americans For a Safe Israel/AFSI. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
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