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November 25, 2015 / 13 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Helen Freedman’

Mission To Israel Inspiring – And Upsetting

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Reflecting back on the experiences our AFSI Chizuk group shared on its 31st mission to Israel, opposing words, thoughts and images come to mind.

Israel was physically magnificent. The weather was perfect as we experienced the beauty of the Shomron mountains, the flatlands of the Golan, the stark moonscape of the Judean desert, the sparkle of the Mediterranean, the glories of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is luxurious. One can walk down King David Street, enjoy a drink poolside at the King David hotel, continue on to the lovely David Citadel with its magnificent veranda view of the Old City, and then on to the strikingly handsome, brand new Mamila hotel.

One strolls along Mamila past lovely artwork, enticing shops, appealing restaurants, and proceeds right through Jaffa Gate into the Old City. One leaves the new world of Jerusalem and is abruptly caught up in the traffic, smells, sights and sounds of the old city. This sharp contrast exemplified our stay in Israel.

Visiting our good friends from Gush Katif, expelled almost six years ago from their beautiful homes and communities, always gives us a sharp stab in the heart. Dror Vanunu, Rachel and Moshe Saperstein, Laurence Beziz, and Anita Tucker are so amazing in their determination to recreate their lost Gush Katif communities and lives.

We were pleased to visit with Alon Davidi in Sderot and see the soccer field donated by members of the AFSI Chizuk mission. We also enjoyed seeing the work of Ofek Chadash in trying to give services to the youth of the community.

What a treat it is to attend the Moskowitz awards ceremony at Ir David in Jerusalem, even though they are always interrupted by deliberately blaring sounds from the predominantly Arab Silwan, just across the valley.

Hebron, Israel’s second holiest city, and a contested one for that reason, is one of our must-visit places. David Wilder, the city spokesman, always generously gives of his time.

The agricultural intifada was explained to us by visits to Sussia, south of Hebron, and by Nadia Matar, co-chair of Women in Green with Yehudit Katzover. The battle between Jews and Arabs in Netzer, a piece of state-owned land between two Jewish communities, Alon Shvut and Elazar, is one example of the inch by inch attempt by Arabs to take over Jewish land. They do it through unchecked building and planting. When incidents occur between Jews and Arabs, it is usually the Jews who are given restraining orders, as was the case with Nadia Matar.

Our group participated in a festive Yom Yerushalayim event at Beit Orot, overlooking the Mount of Olives. We enjoyed the music, dancing, and dining, all the while aware of the Arab desecration of graves on the Mount, and their regular stoning of attendees and police.

We learned from Aryeh King, head of the Israel Land Fund, that Arabs are building a mosque on the graveyard. Though a cease-and-desist order has been given, the illegal building continues. King told us that there are 30,000 illegal Arab buildings in east Jerusalem and 2,000 illegal Arab buildings in the Jewish Quarter.

The Temple Mount in remains a mockery to Jews. Put under control of the wakfbut under guard of the Israeli police, the restrictions on Jewish entry to the Mount are humiliating and disgraceful. While we hate the ritual of being kept waiting for entry while non-Jews stream past us, we insist on being there with Rabbi Chaim Richman on every Chizuk visit.

Driving north from Jerusalem one sees the proliferation of Arab homes, many of them mansions. There is no need for fencing, since Jews are no threat to those communities. The Jewish communities, by contrast, are all fenced in, with special lighting, smart fencing, guards at the entrance, etc., and still there is need for groups of rapid response teams like those trained by Israel Danziger’s Mishmeret Yesha.

At Adei Ad, in the Shilo bloc, we found Jews living in buses. At Alei Ayin, close by, we found the Israeli police had destroyed the outpost just hours before our arrival. We viewed the rubble of a home, a car, a truck, agricultural equipment, and personal belongings. Was this another “sacrifice for peace”?

We went from there to visit the Fogel home in Itamar, where the massacre of five members of the family had been perpetrated by Arabs from nearby Awarta. Yedaya Shoham’s response to this was to immediately start a new outpost, Givat Aryeh, just outside Itamar. I’m proud to say that Jack Ross, an AFSI Chizuk member, has purchased a new Torah scroll we will dedicate at Givat Aryeh in November. That is the AFSI’s answer to murderous terrorism.

This Land Is Not For Sale

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Americans for a Safe Israel/AFSI and Manhigut Yehudit recently conducted its latest Chizuk Mission to Israel. These missions are designed to cover as much of the contested land of Israel as possible in a jam-packed week of visits to all parts of the country. We visited the Binyamin area, the Shomron, the northern Shomron, the Galilee, the Negev, Hebron – and of course, Yerushalayim.

We visited Galilee hilltops and met the Shomrim HaHadash, the new guardians of Galilee farms threatened by Arab thieves who break into the farms by cutting fences, stealing herds of goats or cows, destroying equipment, and threatening Jewish farmers’ lives.

The methodology is simple. The Jewish farmers are harassed by Arab terrorists, leading to both physical and economic desperation. They are then visited by Arabs ready to purchase their farms for Saudi Arabia-supplied cash. The Shomrim HaHadash, who put their lives at risk by patrolling the farms at night on horseback, strive to prevent the takeover of the entire Galilee by the Arabs. The Israeli police and army seem unable or unwilling to control the situation.

We witnessed this struggle throughout Israel. Arab terrorism, along with Israel’s government policy of appeasement and weakness, is forcing Jews to hold onto the land of Israel by their fingertips. Even at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Israeli government discriminates against Jews. Unlike Christians streaming onto the Mount, Jews are forced to surrender their passports for inspection and wait an hour while the documents are checked. When finally allowed entry we were followed by both Israeli police and Arab “guards,” who watched us carefully to ensure that we were not praying on the Mount – something forbidden to Jews.

In Hebron we saw the disgraceful results of government actions against that city’s Jews. Seeking to pacify the overwhelming majority Arab population, Hebron’s Jews live primarily on one street – in a few clusters of homes. The Shalom house, purchased and renovated by Jews at great cost, has been closed by the Israeli government – with the Jews forcibly evicted from their apartments. The courts have yet to decide on the home’s legality, but the Netanyahu government forced out the Jews without waiting for a court order.

In the Negev, where the Gush Katif expellees are trying to build communities in Yevul and Halutzia near the Egyptian border, the Israeli government again betrays its own citizens. Bedouin thieves attack the farms and, just as in the Galilee, there is no police reaction.

Further, the expellees must pay large sums of money for their tracts of land, while many are still paying mortgages on their destroyed homes in Gush Katif. At B’nai Netzarim, a new community of caravan homes, we were told of the government’s demand that they put up 100,000 shekel checks to prove their desire to stay and build permanent homes. Short of compliance, the government would not supply the needed infrastructure.

An ominous, disgraceful sign seen in a number of areas within Israel was the red AREA A sign, saying that the area was under sole Palestinian Authority control and no Israeli Jews were allowed entry. I have never seen a sign anywhere in Israel barring Arabs.

Another sign that brings shame and humiliation (this time on Americans) is the one proclaiming that U.S. aid money has gone to build Arab enclaves. We see this at Shdema, a contested area just outside Yerushalayim. On this former army base’s property, (in Area C, under complete Israeli control), U.S. money has created an Arab oasis. During our visit there, we took great delight in planting little saplings. To our great dismay, we learned that they had quickly been torn out after our departure.

Those Israelis with a national identity crisis seem to be losing a grip on their country. To help thwart the current harmful policies, please do whatever possible to support the aforementioned Shomrim’s slogan, This Land is Not for Steal – or Deal – or Sale.

One way to show support is to reserve a spot for AFSI’s next Chizuk mission, in May 2010, by calling 212-828-2424 or 800-235-3658, or by e-mailing afsi@rcn.com. If you wish to read a more detailed version of the trip and view photos of the mission, please visit AFSI’s website at www.afsi.org.

Helen Freedman is executive director of Americans for a Safe Israel/AFSI, and organizer of the AFSI Chizuk missions.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/this-land-is-not-for-sale/2010/01/04/

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