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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘armon hanatziv’

The Terror Truck on the Tenth of Tevet

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

This year, we added one more tragic event to the 10th of Tevet (if you don’t know why the 10th of Tevet is significant, hang on because this article might be for you): a horrific terrorist truck-ramming murder committed at the pastoral Armon HaNatziv promenade (the “Tayelet”) overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem.

On this sunny Sunday, four young Israeli soldiers, who let their guard down on a fun day of touring, were suddenly mowed down by a Jihadist who used his truck as a mechanized wrecking ball. This year’s 10th of Tevet Fast was the final day for 20-year-old Yael Yekutiel of Givatayim, 22-year-old Shir Hajaj of Ma’aleh Adumim, 20-year-old Shira Tzur of Haifa, and 20-year old Erez Orbach of Alon Shvut. Many more are still recovering from wounds that will forever alter their lives.

However, underlying this attack is much more than the supposed “Lone Wolf” phenomenon, and painfully, and not coincidentally, it occurred on the 10th of Tevet Fast precisely because Jewish history wants to tell us something, and help understand where we need to shape up in this great effort to reestablish a third Jewish commonwealth in the land of Israel.

The Four Reasons for the Fast

The traditional fast of the 10th of Tevet marks three major calamities in Jewish history:

1. The death of the great leaders of the return to Zion, Ezra and Nechemia in the 5 century BCE.

2. The loss of the unique Jewish narrative as epitomized by the forced translation of the Torah into Greek initiated by King Ptolemy II of Alexandria approximately two centuries later – whose goal was not to connect to God through the Bible – but to reduce the value of Torah to the level of any other book in his great library, and

3. The beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar in the 6th century BCE which lead to the destruction of the First Temple and the loss of Israeli sovereignty in the land of Israel.

4. In modern times, the 10th of Tevet took yet a another dimension: the General Kaddish Day, the Yorzait when the prayer for the deceased is said over people who perished in the Holocaust but whose exact day of passing is unknown. It is customary to light candles, to study Torah in their honor, and to recite the El Male Rachamim prayer in the synagogue.

So we have three classic motifs and one new one: The loss of great leaders who shaped the return to Zion, the loss of Jewish narrative as the Greeks became just as much the owners of the Bible as the Jews, the loss of Jewish sovereignty starting in Jerusalem, and finally, the memory of the Holocaust and the effort to honor the memory of the victims.

However, the horrific truck ramming on a beautiful sunny 10th of Tevet is a nudge from Jewish history and it whispers to us that all four reasons for mourning on the 10th of Tevet are NOT things of the past, but are very relevant in today’s strategic, political, and spiritual milieu.

Today’s Loss of Narrative

We can just as easily mourn for the loss of the Jewish narrative today as the one lost 23 centuries ago. When I do reserve duty, I test my comrades on their knowledge of the Bible. Their lack of basic Bible literacy is appalling. Our people simply do not know Bible anymore. In addition, and maybe as a result of, my army friend’s political opinions are in line with the postmodern idea that all claims have equal validity. While they have a gut sense that Israel needs to fight to survive, they can’t express why Israeli rights are any stronger than those of the Palestinians.

We Israelis are a lot of things: we are the start-up nation, a social-justice nation, a Western liberal democracy. But we are certainly losing our narrative as an ancient Biblical people, and an indigenous people of this land. We fail to directly disavow the assertion that we are foreigners, occupiers, colonialists. When the world tells us we have stolen Palestinian land, we emphatically proclaim that we invented the cellphone, have gay rights, and fly to help countries like Haiti after the earthquake. We do not talk about our Bible, our glorious history in this land, our prophets and our fighters. The Palestinians, on the other hand, have appropriated our story. Now THEY are the small, indigenous, plucky rights-fighters who die to liberate the land from us.

Today’s Loss of Leadership

Two and half thousand years ago, Ezra and Nechemia brought a sense of identity to the people. They brought them out of Babylon, helped them throw off foreign influences (and wives) and plugged them into the Zionist story, and Zionist action, building a wall for Jerusalem and reconstituting a Temple. They fought back against interlopers who claimed rights to the land and who said that they also had a Jewish narrative, and a connection to the land. Ezra and Nechemia were possessed by their “Zionist” goals and infected their followers with that zeal. When they died, the nation mourned and fasted because they knew that without great leaders, it is hard to have the confidence to fight physical and cultural wars.

So too today, we are now past the age of the Zionist Founders whose resolve, vision, and courage led us in the first years of the Zionist enterprise. Now, we are in the age of leaders who manage the situation, and manage it well. But they are not sure of the justice of our cause, for they too have been corrupted by post-modernist setting which allows for the possibility that the anti-Israel narratives are also legitimate. Our leaders today are filled with fear which they disguise as pragmatism, and which, in practice, results in Israeli ambivalence towards full assertion of our rights in this land and an inability to denounce Palestinian claims. The Oslo process, Land-for-Peace, Two-State, and the Gaza withdrawal, were, in-toto, the embodiment of weakness and Israeli leaders led the way.

Today’s Loss of Israeli Sovereignty

Then we have the the 10th of Tevet’s main impulse – the mourning for the loss of actual sovereignty 2500 years ago – starting in Jerusalem. Sadly, this malady is also with us today. The truck-ramming terrorist, who ran over the soldiers on the promenade in Armon HaNatziv, came from the adjacent Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber which looks over the Old City. This strategic area is, on the one hand, totally within the borders of municipal Israeli Jerusalem, but on the other hand, it is a cesspool of Jihadism. This Jerusalem neighborhood produced Alaa Abu Dhein (26) the perpetrator of the Mercaz Harav massacre who murdered 8 young students, Uday Abu Jamal (22) and Ghassan Muhammad Abu Jamal (32) the perpetrators of the Har Nof synagogue massacre who murdered five rabbis, and Fadi al-Qanbar, the 10th of Tevet truck-ramming terrorist. They all came out of quaint, big-housed, no checkpoints, Jabel Mukaber.

The reality of such a neighborhood existing in the heart of Jerusalem, and Israel’s inability to extinguish the fire of Jihad spreading out of it, represents the loss of Israeli sovereignty in the capital of the Jewish State – comparable to Nebuchadnezzar’s siege on Jerusalem which ended in destruction of the first Jewish commonwealth.

Today’s Nazis

Finally, the 10th of Tevet reminds us of the Holocaust as it is the General Kaddish – prayer over the dead – Day. The Shoah, essentially, is when Jews were murdered en masse for being Jews. I have met members of the Sayeret Matkal commando unit who stormed Entebbe in 1976 and rescued the Israeli hostages there – all because they believed in the principle of Never Again, that is, never again allowing the Holocaust to happen to our people. Yet, somehow, we have lost Never Again as a principle, and we have lost the fervor of stamping out Nazism. Now, a Nazi Jihadist ideology is flourishing in the midst of the Jewish capital, and wanton murder of Jews as with the murder of Yael, Shir, Shira, and Erez on this 10th of Tevet, happen to our people all the time. For the families of those victims, it is indeed a personal Holocaust.

Will We Learn from History?

On this 10th of Tevet, as I watched the news coverage showing video of a Jihadist-driven truck purposefully running over a group of Israeli soldiers, I waited for some commentator to mention what was so prominent in my mind – the unhappy coincidence of that today with the age-old day of fast and mourning. I did not see or hear any.

The essayist George Santayana famously wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Indeed, Jewish history has a lot to teach us, and help guide us through tough times. But it seems that on this year’s commemoration of the 10th of Tevet tragic past, we were condemned to repeat it today.

Yishai Fleisher

Thousands Accompany IDF Soldiers to Final Resting Places in Jerusalem, Kfar Etzion, Haifa

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Thousands of people came to stand in solidarity at graveside with the families and friends of four Israeli officers who were killed Sunday in a truck ramming attack in Jerusalem. Shira Tzur, Shir Hajaj, Yael Yekutiel, and dual Israeli-American citizen Erez Orbach each were accompanied on their final journeys by hundreds of people.

Israel Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, and Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar, plus several Knesset members were present at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem to support the family of Shir Hajaj.

Her sister Bar spoke to her, saying, “I’m sorry you didn’t get your life… From now on, all your beauty will be robbed in the sadness of your song.” (The word “shir” in Hebrew means “song.”)

IDF personnel gathered with family and friends at the military section of the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem to support the parents of Yael Yekutiel. Her father eulogized her as “a teacher, a soldier.”

Israeli-American officer Erez Orbach was accompanied to his final resting place at the Kfar Etzion cemetery by his family, and one of the rabbis at the yeshiva where he had studied.

Despite a health problem that initially excluded him from service, the soldier had fought until he was accepted, telling the IDF it was his “duty to serve.”

Hundreds also accompanied the family of Shira Tzur, from the city of Haifa, as she was taken to her final resting place in the city. Like her fellow officers, Second Lieutenant Tzur had been posthumously promoted. The 20-year-old officer began her military career in a pilots’ course before transferring to the unit in which she ended her life. She was known for always trying to make her environment “a better place,” her aunt told Ynet.

Hana Levi Julian

Don’t Judge the Soldiers

Monday, January 9th, 2017

The video of Jewish soldiers running away during the Armon Hanatziv terror attack was difficult to watch.

Realistic or not, we expect our soldiers to be well trained, physically, and, more important, mentally, to charge and engage the enemy.

It’s all too easy to ignore that these soldiers are inexperienced teenagers, some with more training, most with less. And yet we expect them to respond properly, effectively and professionally to bewildering situations on a level of competence we’d expect from seasoned combat veterans.

The IDF has to invest a lot of time and effort to train combat soldiers to charge the enemy and then pull the trigger. For most people it’s not a natural act.

Most of the soldiers in the Armon Hanatziv attack had had minimal combat training, and were designated for deployment in office positions, “Jobnikim,” in IDF slang.

In addition, it would be foolish to assume that the Elor Azaria trial which has torn up the country for close to a year did not impede their reaction time, compelling them to think ten times before charging and opening fire.

However in a civilian milieu, even experienced security personnel must think three times before pulling the trigger, in case their target is actually an innocent civilian.

There were mistakes made yesterday, just like there were mistakes made in Hebron, including mistakes made by Azaria’s officers, going all the way up the chain of command.

There were also heroes.

Lessons will be be learned from this incident, just as the IDF learned from previous ones. There will be investigations and consequences, as there should be.

Unfortunately, our suicidal enemy will still invent new, different and evil way to attack us.

In our war against Islamic terror, we must not drag our soldiers to court like common criminals, or shame them in social media.

Sgt. Elor Azaria last March and the soldiers in Armon HaNatziv on Sunday had to deal with an evil enemy in a very complicated situation, and whether or not their responses were picture perfect, or even warranted, they were acting in the service of our country. To treat them any other way is to invite more confusion and, inevitably, more victims of terrorism.


May all our wounded soldiers have a Refuah Sheleimah – a healthy and complete recovery.


Stephen Leavitt

US: Condemns Terrorism by Nameless Murderer From Non-Entity

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

In what could be the most clear-cut, unambiguous condemnation of terrorism ever issued by the U.S. State Department under the Obama Administration, spokesperson Mark Toner released a terse statement to media Sunday evening, slamming the attack on IDF soldiers in Jerusalem by an Arab terrorist earlier in the day.

It’s not clear why Secretary of State John Kerry himself didn’t offer his own condolences to the families or condemn the terrorism, since he had no problem vehemently condemning Israel’s actions just a scant two weeks ago.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s horrific vehicular attack by a terrorist in Jerusalem,” the diplomatically neutral statement began. The phrasing was carefully worded to strip the mass murderer of any identity, let alone a link with Israel’s so-called “peace partner,” the Palestinian Authority.

Lucky for the world, the Gaza-based Hamas terrorist group, part of the Palestinian Authority by default, managed to get that done earlier in the day.

“There is absolutely no justification for these brutal and senseless attacks. We condemn the glorification of terrorism now or at any time and call on all to send a clear message that terrorism must never be tolerated.”

Again, the statement was careful to avoid assigning blame or identity to those who “glorify terrorism” — as if such a phenomenon occurs in a giant vacuum — rather than to be clear that the Palestinian Authority government is behind the incessant incitement that has been training the past three generations of children, teens and adults to murder Israelis on sight.

Glorification of terrorism is one of the main tools of the trade used by the Ramallah government to keep the fires of hatred burning hot and strong, naming streets and public squares, summer camps and special events after the bloodthirstiest terrorists in history. Such events are routinely translated and documented by the Palestinian Media Watch several times a year.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the four Israeli soldiers who were killed, and we hope for a full and fast recovery of those injured,” the statement concluded.

Hana Levi Julian

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat: Don’t Let Terror Rule Our Lives

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat urged the city’s residents not to allow the fear of terror to rule their lives despite the fallout from the “difficult terror attack” that took place at the beautiful promenade overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday (Jan 8).

“To our dismany, there is no limit to the cruelty of the terrorists who are willing to use any means possible to murder Jews, and to damage the daily life of Israel’s capital,” Barkat said in a statement to media just a few minutes after the attack occurred.

But, he added, “Those who incite and fan the flames and those who support terror must pay a heavy price.

“I call on the residents of Jerusalem and the country at large to be alert, and despite this difficult terror attack, to carry on with your daily routine,” he said.

“Don’t let terror win.”

Hana Levi Julian

IDF Releases Names of Officer, Cadets Killed in Jerusalem Terror Attack

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

The IDF has released the names of the four young soldiers who were murdered Sunday by an Arab terrorist from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukabar, near East Talpiot.

Their names and ranks are as follows:

2nd Lt. Yael Yekutiel, age 20, from the Tel Aviv area city of Givatayim, posthumously promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.

Cadet Shir Hajaj, age 22, from the Jerusalem suburb of Ma’ale Adumim, posthumously promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant

Cadet Shira Tzur, age 20, from the northern port city of Haifa, posthumously promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant

Cadet Erez Orbach, age 20, from the Gush Eztion town of Alon Shvut, posthumously promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.

All the families have been notified.

Baruch HaDayan HaEmet.
May their memories be for a blessing, and may their blood be avenged.

Hana Levi Julian

IDF Cadet Describes Shooting at the Terrorist

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

Video of the Day

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/multimedia/video-picks/idf-cadet-describes-shooting-at-the-terrorist/2017/01/08/

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