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January 24, 2017 / 26 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘fire’

Fire And Water

Monday, January 9th, 2017

What do you think of when you think of fire or water? Personally, water brings to mind the pitter patter of raindrops on a window pane. Or sloshing through puddles (the child in me is still alive…). Or misty rainbows in the sky. If it’s summer, I envision a gleaming swimming pool. Fire also brings up visions of positive, fun-filled activities: Shabbos and Chanukah candles, roasted marshmallows and bonfires on Lag Ba’Omer. But fire and water are also powerful, primal forces to be reckoned with. Beautiful, compelling and captivating, they can also be overwhelming and destructive.

A month ago, Israel was ablaze. The fires began with brushfires, a natural occurrence in an unusually dry, windy season, and were magnified a thousand-fold by the malicious, premeditated deeds of men. The hand of Nature leads us to prayer and supplication; man’s evil produces feelings of rage and revenge. And much pain.

The Holy Land is a feeling, living entity. It responds not only to hard work and wise care, but to the spiritual state of its people. Like a loving parent, the land embraces her children and they embrace her in turn. That is why, when we see the burnt forests so lovingly planted (remember the “leaves” Jewish children the world over purchased to plant Jewish National Fund trees?), when we see houses and fields turned into ghostly skeletons, when the land is colored in ash grey instead of rich, growing green, we weep. We are profoundly grateful that despite the evacuation of sixty thousand people in Haifa and many hundreds elsewhere, the fires did not claim a single life. This was another awesome miracle from a merciful God. And there is no doubt, that with His help, the fields and forests will be replanted and the homes rebuilt. Hopefully, the people who lived in them will recoup and quickly recover from the trauma and move forward. Am Yisrael in its homeland is a resilient, creative, determined nation. But for the moment, we weep, even as we roll up our national sleeves and get to work.

It was a long, dry winter this year in the Holy Land. Had the annual rains come on time, the fires would not have been so destructive. But by the middle of Kislev (December), there was only one proper rainfall. “Proper” means a good, drenching rain that saturates the dry, sun-parched ground and leaves it thoroughly soaked, not just sprinkled with raindrops that quickly evaporate, leaving barely a whiff of refreshing rain-scent in the air. “Proper” means sufficient rain to provide snowmelt from Mt. Chermon to fill the Banias, Chatzbani and Dan rivers; it means rain from the sky to fill the wadis, streams and subterranean wells across the country. And, of course, rain to fill the Kinneret, our national harp-shaped jewel, whose waters flow into the Jordan River and down to the Dead Sea.

Hopefully, by the time your read this, the weather will have changed although, for Eretz Yisrael, gishmei beracha – rains of blessingsmust also be g’shamim b’itam – rains which come in their proper time. Not too soon, not too late. Wheat and barley, the biblical staples of life, are planted in the autumn and must be watered by the winter rains in order to ripen on time for the spring harvest. The Torah tells us: And I will bring your rains in their proper seasons and the Land shall give forth its produce and the trees shall give their fruit (Vayikra 26,4). But only if the rains come “in their proper seasons.”

Like Choni HaM’agel, we pray not only for rain in the proper season, but also in proper measure, for water can be a curse as well as a blessing. Think storms and raging floods inundating the land. Or wild rivers sweeping away everything in their path. Too much of a good thing is… well… too much. Personally, I love to sit on the shore of the ocean and watch the waves. It’s humbling. And awesome. But water, like fire, can be devastating.

Nonetheless, in Israel, water, especially in the form of rain, is always welcome. It rains the night of a wedding? A sign of blessing for the new couple. It rains during a funeral? The Heavens are mourning with you. You just washed your windows? You may sigh for a moment but then you shake your head. No problem. The rain will clean away any residual dust and it will only take a minute to wipe the windows clean again. Rain is precious. Better a little more than a little less.

We know, of course, about the natural (i.e., miraculous!) recycling of water in the world. Vapor from the earth’s moisture evaporates and condenses into clouds which release water in the form of precipitation. Neighboring Egypt depends on the annual overflow from the Nile for its water, but the Torah stresses that we here in Israel receive our rain directly from the Heavens. I haven’t thoroughly researched the subject, but it seems to me that when the rain allotted to the Holy Land passes the Gates of Heaven, it absorbs rays of Divine Light, something akin to a celestial embrace. Thus hallowed and purified, the raindrops become suitable carriers of life-giving blessings for G-d’s People and His Land.

Both water and fire were essential elements in the service in the Batei Mikdash. When the third Bayit is rebuilt, water for the altar will again be drawn from the depths of the Shiloach spring outside the city of Jerusalem, and a flame on the altar will again ascend to the Heavens to serve as a glowing beacon of light from Zion to the world.

May both our fire and our water be only livracha… blessed.

Yaffa Ganz

Firebombing Attacks Continue: Terrorists Target Jewish Homes in Jerusalem

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

Firebombing, which can quickly ignite if the Molotov cocktail explodes upon impact, sometimes becomes lethal within seconds and is continuing to be one of the preferred methods of attack by Arab terrorists around the Israeli capital of Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria.

On Sunday evening, two masked Arab terrorists attempted to murder Jewish residents in their homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Nahalat Shimon.

The attackers firebombed a building that houses two apartments in which Jewish families are living, clearly intending the Molotov cocktails to ignite upon impact and burn the homes and those within.

Miraculously, no physical injuries were reported in the attack, although the homes were damaged and as desire, headlines were indeed created.

Hana Levi Julian

Fire Destroys 14 Businesses in Kew Garden Hills, Queens, NY [video]

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

A five alarm fire ripped through the commercial section of Kew Garden Hills just after 6:30 pm Friday night, totally destroying at least 14 business establishments, many of them owned by Jews.

It took firefighters the entire night to get the blaze under control, and by dawn the following day, the row of businesses – some of them generations old – had gone up in smoke.

Part of the reason the flames spread so fast had to do with the fact that the businesses shared a common roof. “Once the fire gets into these concealed spaces up above the roof, it’s almost impossible for us to put it out. We have to worry about the safety of our firefighters,” Chief of Department James Leonard, FDNY, told reporters.

The entire building has been condemned, according to ABC7 Eyewitness News. All store owners who came to retrieve their belonging were ordered to leave as soon as possible due to the risk involved in being inside the building.

Officials are still not clear about how the fire started.

Three first responders were injured while fighting the blaze.

Jewish Press News Briefs

UPDATE: Fire Under Control at Haifa Refinery [video]

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

UPDATE: Firefighting forces have managed to control the blaze at Haifa’s refinery that erupted Sunday morning. All nearby highways have been reopened to traffic.


A fire erupted Sunday morning in an oil tank at the refinery north of Haifa. Firefighting forces are rushing to the event. According to early reports, the fire is endangering nearby oil tanks. Routes 4 and 22 nearby have been closed to traffic.

A spokesman for the local fire department stated that the firefighting forces are battling the blazes. “Their primary mission is to protect the nearby tanks,” he said.

The blaze at the refinery and its storage tanks represents one of Israel’s worst nightmare scenarios, which have moved generations of local mayors of Haifa and the suburban towns along the bay to its north to demand their removal from the area for fear that the hazardous materials would leak or that a fire there–possibly the result of Hezbollah rockets–would ignite the entire region.

The Sunday morning fire broke out near the country’s largest gas farm, which processes more than 80% of the gas sold in Israel.

Heavy smoke over Haifa oil refineries

Heavy smoke over Haifa oil refineries

David Israel

Palestinian Authority Arson Terror Cell Arrested in Samaria

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

An arson terrorist cell was arrested last month in a joint operation carried out in Samaria by members of the Shin Bet Israel Security Agency, IDF soldiers and Israel Police officers. Israeli authorities released the information for publication on Sunday (Dec. 18).

Late in November, security cameras near the city of Ariel caught three Arabs trying to start a fire, using what appeared to be a Molotov cocktail. The three were dropped off by a car, and they then began trying to ignite a fire. After the blaze got started, they casually continued walking to the Arab village nearby. Residents from Ariel reported getting there in time to extinguish the flames using bottles of water.

Three residents of the Palestinian Authority village of Iskaka in Samaria were taken into custody on November 26 after they were suspected of carrying out arson attacks near their village, and close to the southern approach to the city of Ariel.

Hamdan Tzakar Hamdan Lami, 19; Jouad Muhammad Fayiz Daher, 19; and Vizid Ahmed Hamdan Lami, 24 were all indicted by the Israel Security Agency on charges of arson for nationalistic purposes.

Their cases were transferred to the IDF Military Prosecutor pending trial, the Shin Bet said.

Firefighters in November were faced with a wave of fires that lasted eight days, popping up and spreading from the forests to the scrub brush to the villages, cities and towns across Israel.

Some of the fires occurred naturally due to the especially windy and dry weather conditions at the time; but numerous others – more than a third, in fact – were deliberately set.

At least 39 of the 1,773 fires fought by Israeli and foreign-sent firefighting teams and aircraft required at least 10 crews or more.

In the northern port city of Haifa, 527 apartments and 77 buildings were completely destroyed, leaving 1,600 residents homeless. Approximately 25 percent of the city’s total population – some 75,000 residents – were evacuated from 11 neighborhoods.

The city of Jerusalem, the town of Zichron Ya’akov, moshav Beit Meir – home to a Holocaust survivor who is a world-class artist and whose studio and 40 years’ worth of art was completely destroyed in the flames – were only a few of the areas struck by the fires.

Hana Levi Julian

INTO THE FRAY:The Forgotten Fire?

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

“I feel a sense of shame, and even more, a sense of pain…at the murder of a small baby. Pain that from my people, there are those who have chosen the path of terrorism, and have lost their humanity…To my great sorrow, until now it seems we have been lax in our treatment of the phenomena of Jewish terrorism… ” (Reuven Rivlin, President of Israel, August 1, 2015, the day after the lethal arson in Duma, perpetrated by persons, whose identity and ethnicity have yet to be determined)

Last week, fires raged across Israel, some close enough to my home for me to smell the smoke. According to official sources, a good number of the fires were the result of deliberate arson, which, fortunately, seemed to have caused no fatalities—although this could hardly be presumed to have been the perpetrators intent.

Forgotten flames?

But last week’s blaze did little to illuminate much of the unknown still shrouding another conflagration that flared up, almost a year and a half ago, in Duma, an Arab village about 35 km NE of Jerusalem. In its aftermath, flames of prejudice, hysteria and hyperbole swept through the country, consuming virtually all it encountered in its path –particularly any regard for the truth and dispassionate analysis.

To recap briefly, on July 31, 2015, the entire country was horrified by reports of three members of the Dawabsheh family from Duma being burnt to death in an early morning arson attack on their home. Graffiti, in Hebrew script, painted on the walls of the burnt out house, led to the precipitous conclusion that the act was committed by “Jewish terrorists”. Significantly, there have been numerous acts of arson in Duma involving the Dawabsheh clan. Indeed, since the fatal July 2015 attack, at least three other houses have been torched –as were two prior to it—without any allegation of involvement of “Jewish extremists”.

Despite this, and despite a total lack of any indication as to the identity/ethnicity of the assailants (apart from the Hebrew script graffiti), both the media and politicians across the entire political spectrum were quick to accuse Jewish religious radicals of the deed.

The haste to hate

Thus, hours after the news of the lethal blaze broke, Zehava Galon, chief honcho of the far-Left Meretz faction, posted on her Facebook page: The murder of the infant in the Palestinian village, Duma was long “written on the wall”. It was sprayed with dozens of abusive slogans, which were given the “sanitized” description of “price tag”. Those who

refuse our repeated calls to designate the “price tag” perpetrators “terrorist gangs”, and who restrict themselves to muted rebukes when houses of prayer in Israel and the territories are burnt, should not be surprised when they woke up today to the burnt body of a baby.

Without a shred of evidence as to who set the home ablaze, she railed unperturbed: “The perpetrators of this terror attack must be found and severely punished…together with those who operate the terror infrastructure, as well as their spiritual mentors, the fanatical rabbis that incite and approve these deeds—in the name of god. To the leaders of the Right: Can you really not see the direct line connecting the public disturbances and the disregard for the rule of law…and the backing you gave them; and the torching of the house and its inhabitants..”.

In a separate post, the same day, she spewed specific accusations: The terrible hatred that caused the death of the Dawabsheh [family] has a name; those responsible have a name: Ministers, Knesset members, municipal rabbis, the [radical rightwing] Lehava organization, the followers of Kahane…The hate they spread is not a general hatred; it’s a hatred toward Arabs — whether they are Palestinian citizens of Israel or Palestinians living in the territories.”

Clamor for collective condemnation

The zeal for unsubstantiated condemnation was widely reflected in the mainstream media coverage. For example, on the very night of the arson attack, Ynetnews’s Ron Ben Yishai had already deciphered the crime.

In “How to stop Jewish jihad”, he determined–definitively “…this is religious-messianic terrorism, committed by people who view themselves as acting according to God’s true will… this is Jewish jihadism, identical in every detail to Islamic jihadism”, adding ominously “They are no different than ISIS; there may only be a handful of these Jewish terrorists, but it is enough to divide Israeli society and lead to war with the Palestinians and…the Arab world”.

Not to be outdone, two days later ,Yediot Aharonot’s Sima Kadmon, in an astonishing piece entitled “We’re no better than our enemies”, lamented: “…let no one say that this is a lone incident…Jewish terrorists are just the messengers; there is a well-oiled system of incitement behind them… it’s time to tell the truth, the heartbreaking but inevitable one: After a generation of right-wing rule, we have developed a race…[n]ot proud, not generous, but definitely cruel…”

Sanctimoniously, beating her breast with tormented self-guilt, she wailed: “If we thought it couldn’t happen among us, that we’re not like that, that Jews don’t do such things, that only they [Arabs] can murder children, go into houses and shoot a baby…burn families, execute murderous terror – that’s it, it’s over. We are, we can and we do. Burn children alive, execute murderous, inhuman, incomprehensible terror…we’re no better than them.”

Troubling use of “extraordinary” measures

Evidently unnerved by the massive media outcry and shrieks of outrage from the opposition, coalition party members joined the chorus of condemnation, submitting to the prevailing assumption that “Jewish terror” was responsible for the Duma atrocity.

Accordingly, to demonstrate its resolve in apprehending the culprits, the government invoked extrajudicial powers – arrest without charge, detention without access to counsel, and the use of harsh physical methods in interrogations.

Justification for such “extraordinary” measures is usually invoked when contending with threats involving state/quasi-state backed foes, with massive budgets and international reach; not alleged dangers emanating from minuscule groups of youngsters in their teens (or barely out of them), marginal and marginalized not only in Israeli society at large, but in much of their closer societal environs as well, with no international reach and only the most meager of resources at their disposal.

Nevertheless, several youngsters were detained without charge, held incommunicado for extended periods, and subjected to “robust” interrogations –with little result. Most of the “suspects” were released, having been cleared of any involvement in the Duma fatalities.

After six months of investigation, it was announced that a confession had been obtained from one of the detainees, 21 year old Amiram Ben-Uliel, a married man with a (then) one year old daughter. Disturbingly, however, not only was the confession reportedly extracted from Ben-Uliel under duress, but it was wildly inconsistent with all eye-witness accounts given at the scene of the crime.

Concocted confession?

Thus, all witnesses reported that at least two assailants were involved. Ben-Uliel confessed to acting completely alone. Likewise, witnesses reported that the assailants arrived and left the village in two motor vehicles. In his confession, Ben-Uliel states he entered and exited the village on foot.

Ironically even members of the Dawabsheh family are highly skeptical as to the veracity of Ben-Uliel’s confession. In a July 2016 interview, a year after the lethal arson, Hussein Dawabsheh, grandfather of the infant who died in the blaze, expressed his skepticism at the professed confession. Citing the account of his other grandson, five year old Ahmad, the sole survivor of the attack, he stated: “Ahmad said he saw a number of people. He could not say how many but he talked about several men who beat his father.”

Dawabsheh also wondered how only one man could carry out the attack: “I do not believe it. It needs a number of people—not one or two. Who can enter the village and do this alone. People saw two cars leaving the village.” With considerable justification, he asked: “How can it be one man with two cars? It’s not logical.”

And, indeed, the confession, the methods by which it was obtained and the discrepancies with all the eye witness accounts raise deeply disturbing questions.

Stretching the bounds of credibility

For to give credence to the claim that Ben-Uliel is indeed guilty as charged, what do we necessarily have to believe?

We would have to believe that: Ben-Uliel, a then-recently married man and father of an infant girl, without any Special Forces training; (a) had the “cojones” and skill, not only to walk over five kilometers—late at night—undetected and unarmed, to reach the village; (b) he by-passed numerous, more-exposed, alternative targets on the outskirts of the village; (d) he managed to infiltrate, again, undetected and unarmed, into the center of an unfriendly village; (e) set one uninhabited building ablaze; (f) then, still undetected, sprayed copious amounts of paint to write the incriminating Hebrew graffiti; (g) then torched the Dawabsheh home; and (h) finally, make a phantom-like escape, egressing the village without trace, never mind being apprehended, leaving no clue to indicate where he had vanished to—all this entirely on his own!!

After all, if Ben-Uliel was merely looking for a random Arab target, why would he not choose a house on the outskirts of the village rather than in the center, making escape easier? And why would he choose Duma –a village in, which the Dawabsheh clan’s homes were being regularly targeted anyway? Perhaps under “enhanced interrogation”, he came up with a plausible answer?

“Ben-Uliel accused of trying to overthrow the state…”.

If this was not disconcerting enough, it was reported several weeks ago the Ben-Uliel’s trial, originally scheduled for September 26, 2016 –nine months after his alleged confession—was to be postponed. The reason for the delay was the resignation of the lawyers representing Ben-Uliel because of restrictions placed on them meeting with their client, which they claimed “prevents Ben [U]liel from receiving the representation he wants and needs”.

The court ordered he be appointed a public defender, but he refused to cooperate with such counsel, demanding his previous legal team be reinstated. (Sadly I have no information on further developments.)

Significantly, the reasons given for the imposed restrictions were that Ben-Uliel was accused of being a member of a “terror organization”. As such he was designated a “terror suspect” and the restrictions applied to him, apply to all terror suspects. Of course it would be intriguing to learn which “terror organization” he is suspected of belonging to, which foreign powers it is backed by, what is the scope of its budget, its membership and its organizational infrastructure, as well as the resources it has at its disposal.

These are questions of substance not only because of the powers the state invoked to employ against him, but because, as was reported elsewhere, “The Shin Bet has also accused Ben-Uliel…of trying to overthrow the state.” Gee, really??? Is it only me who finds that just a touch far-fetched…?

Dramatic double standards

Of course all this has been greeted with deafening silence by the usually vociferous chorus of left-leaning voices always eager to denounce any hint of excessive use of governmental power—such as those of previously cited Meretz leader Zehava Galon.

If additional evidence of barefaced double standards she and her like-minded minions employ was required, this was starkly illuminated by the flames of last week’s fires.

Having denounced all and sundry with amazing alacrity following the Duma arson, she had the breathtaking gall to accuse Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being responsible for inciting the fires that ripped through thousands of acres last week, because he “rushed” to mention that many of them had been started deliberately. Significantly Netanyahu only broached the topic two days after the fires began, and after this determination was made by the appropriate professional authorities!!

According to Galon: “There was a deliberate maneuver by the prime minister to distract the public from the submarine affair…The way he called the attacks arson and terror at such an early stage only led to more incidents of arson…” Galon then endorsed the scandalous accusation by “Peace Now” co-founder, Amiram Goldblum: “Netanyahu’s incitement intifada is raging across the country…It’s difficult not to see the connection between Netanyahu’s incitement following the arsons and the submarines scandal.”

What more is there to say? Except perhaps to wonder whether President Rivlin might just reserve a little “shame” and “pain” (see introductory excerpt) over the blatant denial of due process to citizens of his state, the abuse of government power they appear to be subjected to—and the double-standards that are applied to them.

Dr. Martin Sherman

MK Oren Hazan Presents the New Arab Weapon

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Video of the Day

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/multimedia/video-picks/mk-oren-hazan-presents-the-new-arab-weapon/2016/11/30/

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