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November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Mount Herzl’

The Papal Visit: Heavy On Hoopla, Short On Substance

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

At the end of the day, the pope’s Mideast visit was short on substance and long on theatrics – unless one considers, and with some justification, that theatrics is substance in the thinking of many.

The pope has influence but not power (still lacking the military prowess to enforce his will, to paraphrase Stalin), but even his influence is limited. As his public appearances in Israel were limited to select audiences, and naturally heavily weighted to visiting official or Christian sites, the impact to the average citizen was mainly in the form of snarled traffic and closed roads, all due to the intense security generated by his brief stay.

Of course, the visit – simply by virtue of the fact that it took place – was not innocuous, and these celebrity summits always carry the potential for more mischief for Israel than for any meaningful achievements. And so it was here, aided by an exasperating moral equivalence that is the pope’s (perhaps any pope’s) stock-in-trade.

Anything that presents the Palestinian Authority in the guise of a state, or even as a reasonable interlocutor, hurts Israel. Worse, the pope’s brief stop – for prayer – at the border wall that surrounds Bethlehem played into the Arab narrative as victims of an oppressive Israel.

Certainly, Israel’s countermove by having Pope Francis make a similar stop at the terror victim’s memorial at Mount Herzl Cemetery was a brilliant stroke. But it didn’t quite erase the moral obtuseness implicit in lamenting a barrier that has aided in the prevention of Arab suicide bombings of Jews.

And if the Arabs indeed seek an independent state, do not most states have borders with fences, walls and official crossings? Would the pope also lament the imposition on mankind of searches at airports, all because of the threat of Muslim terror?

There is a certain unwordliness that surrounds the pope’s pronouncements, but each call for a two-state solution is oblivious to the reality on the ground. Neither party wants two states, although Israel in its weakest and foolish moments would settle for two. But no one believes it would last, and so the call for the creation of a Palestinian state remains a codeword for the destruction of Israel, as it always has been.

Indeed, the greatest danger the pope faced during his visit was being inundated by the deluge of clichés and platitudes, much of his own making. The persistent desire to split the difference, to see everything in balance, and especially to never, ever distinguish between aggressors and victims does an injustice to Jews and to history.

It reminds me of an encounter I had many years ago as an attorney, representing a young woman expelled from her Catholic high school because an ex-boyfriend showed up at her school carrying a knife and up to no good. She was expelled because her mere presence brought the boy with the knife into the building, even though she didn’t invite him, didn’t want him there and was likely to be the target of his wrath.

When I said that she was the victim here and did nothing wrong, I was told by the chief nun: “Victim or aggressor, what’s the difference?” To which I responded: “If you do not distinguish between the victim and the aggressor, then that certainly explains a lot about our history.”

(By the way, my entreaties fell on deaf ears.)

The call for peace, an end to war, violence, unfriendliness and the like is always welcome but ultimately meaningless when confronted by an evil enemy that literally sacrifices its own children to murder other children.

The Palestinians, the Pope and Peace

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to the Middle East is fraught with political and religious symbolism and events on his itinerary are raising the temperatures on both sides of the Middle East divide.

In Israel, some are upset about the way the Vatican is treating his stops in the West Bank as if it is a state visit to a sovereign “State of Palestine” that, in fact, does not exist.

Others are upset about the Israeli government’s decision to allow Francis to celebrate a mass on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, a site that Jews believe is the Tomb of King David and Christians think is the place where the Last Supper took place.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians are up in arms over the fact that the Pope will visit Mount Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery outside the capital and lay a wreath on the tomb of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. And therein hangs the tale not only of a pope caught in the middle of a bitter clash in which any seemingly innocuous gesture of good will can become a source of tension but the issue that lies at the very core of a century-long conflict.

The context of the papal visit is the desire of Francis, a man already renowned for his caring persona and a desire to create outreach with all peoples, to plant a flag of ecumenism in the midst of a steadily worsening environment for Christians in the Middle East.

The rise of Islamism has made the situation of all non-Muslim minorities in the region and none are in a more precarious situation than that of Palestinian Christians, who have left the administered territories in large numbers since the Oslo Accords that handed over effective control of these areas to the Palestinian Authority. But, instead, a bogus campaign of incitement has sought to convince the world that Israel, the one nation in the region where freedom of religion prevails is the problem for the Christians.

Nevertheless, tensions between Palestinian Arabs and Jews have at times bubbled over into religious tension. Far right extremist Jews appear to have been guilty of vandalism at some churches, a deplorable development that has generated international outrage that is notably missing when Jewish institutions are routinely given the same treatment by Arabs.

The dispute at Mount Zion is typical of the kind of disputes that develop at the holy places. The shrine there has been under Jewish control for decades. Indeed, prior to the unification of Jerusalem and the liberation of the Western Wall, it was considered by many to be the most sacred spot inside pre-1967 Israel. While the Israeli protests about the mass seem intolerant, they are generated by fears that the site will be handed over to the church which would compromise Jewish sovereignty over the capital as well as possibly infringe on Jewish worship there. The Israeli government is clearly opposed to such a transfer and if they allow Christians more access to the site for their worship, it is to be hoped that both sides will live and let live.

While Israelis would have preferred that the Vatican not jump the gun and recognize “Palestine” without the Arabs first being required to make peace. Such recognition lessens the pressure on the Palestinians to negotiate in good faith but there is little rancor over the pope’s desire to visit what is, for intents and purposes, a separate country in the West Bank. But the Herzl dispute is more serious than just another tit-for-tat argument.

In venting their anger about a wreath for Herzl, the Palestinians are once again demonstrating that their real problem with Israel isn’t West Bank settlements or where the border should be after a peace treaty. It is, instead, an argument about the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders wind up being drawn. Herzl, who died in 1904, isn’t connected in any way to the grievances Palestinians and their foreign cheerleaders vent their spleen about. But he is, in no small measure, responsible for the birth of the movement responsible for the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty over the historic homeland of his people. If Palestinians have a problem with Herzl, it’s because they still can’t bring themselves to change a political culture that regards rejection of Zionism as integral to their identity as a people.

A Nation in Unity on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Remembrance Day

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Israel’s flag is waving at half mast and the memory of 23,169 lost Israeli soldiers and victims of terror has quieted the nation on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Remembrance Day.

No music plays in the neighborhoods, and children are not laughing today on the streets. A somber air is felt throughout the country as Israelis remember their fallen.

Some of those are not even Jewish. They are Bedouin or Druze or Circassians who have thrown in their lot with their Jewish neighbors. They, too, have paid the price.

Few indeed are those in this country who have not lost at least one family member in military action or terror, or are not close to someone who has, in the struggle to fulfill the mitzvah to hold this Holy Land, Eretz Tzion, Israel.

By age 16, all Jewish teens in Israel receive their first IDF notice, summoning them for exams to determine a medical, educational and psychological fitness profile. The IDF recently announced it will soon begin to send voluntary draft notices to all Christian Israelis, offering them the chance to enlist in Israel’s army as well.

By 18, most boys and girls in this country are smiling and nervously getting into fitted green or camel-colored uniforms, queuing up at central bus stations before and after Shabbat and talking about what happened in their new units “at the base.”

They’re babies, really — babies learning how to face killers; other babies fed on evil hatred since birth. Last year, 40 died, though some of those were reservists, IDF soldiers who return to serve 30 days a year to help the “newbies” and the career soldiers keep Israel safe from its enemies. “Reservists” can be soldiers in their 20s — or as old as 40.

“It is difficult, if not impossible, to show those that haven’t experienced it the size of the grief that befell us, the intensity of the shock that grasps us, and the sense of loss that fills us,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu explained at Monday’s ceremony at Mount Herzl military cemetery, attended also by President Shimon Peres, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and a host of other officials.

Paraphrasing and slightly changing a well-known Psalm of King David, he said, “There, we sat at the graves of our loved ones, and wept, and we remembered our loved ones that fell for the sake of Zion.”

Sweeping the entire People of Israel into unity with Israel’s grief over its fallen, the prime minister said, “On this day, the entire people relates to the heroes of the nation. They come from all parts of the nation and from all parts of society. The simple truth that is the most concise is this: we would not be here if it were not for their sacrifice.

“Even if it means unparalleled pain, a great miracle happened here. Israel returned to her country, to her home, established a state and did wonders, but at this moment we should not forget that it is a privilege to be here.”

People came to their feet across the country as a siren wailed into the skies at 11 o’clock in the morning, reminding Israelis of the price paid for peace, and Israel’s defense.

A candle lighting ceremony at the Western Wall last night, announced by the nationwide siren at eight o’clock in the evening, also featured an address by President Peres.

“We, the Israelis, are not like every people,” the president pointed out. “Already for years a sad generation hasn’t relaxed, hasn’t been able to enjoy a time of happiness. Our joy is always missing. A cloud of sadness envelops us. It is deeply hidden, but one can see it in our eyes.”

The president spoke of parents who lost their children, “the image of the soldiers that fell in Israel’s wars… They did not have time to plant a tree. They didn’t taste the full flavor of love. They left behind you, the bereaved families… and us, the friends, to painfully remember.”

Suspicious Family Illegally Opens Mt. Herzl Grave – Finds It Empty

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

For 40 years, the family of Tzion Tayib have been fighting for proof their son was killed in the Yom Kippur war and it is his body that is buried in the Har Herzl military cemetery, according to a report on Galei Tzahal (Army Radio).

Tayib’s position on the Hermon mountain was overrun in the first days of the Yom Kippur war by Syrian commandos, where Tayib served as a communications specialist, according to a detailed report on Walla.

From that position, a number of soldiers were declared missing, and 11 months later the IDF declared them dead.

According to the court papers released by the Supreme Court, the IDF claimed that they learned from captured Syrian soldiers the location of Tayib’s body, and they recovered it, confirmed his identity, and buried it.

The body of Tzion Tayib was buried without the family being present, and they were later informed that he had been buried.

The family, from the beginning claimed the IDF did not do enough to positively confirm the identify of Tayib, and it was lying to them. They felt there were discrepancies in the versions told to them.

The IDF said it had 100% confirmed that Tayib was dead and buried in his grave.

Twenty years ago, when DNA testing became reliable, the family asked that the body be exhumed to confirm that it was Tayib who was buried in the Har Herzl military cemetery, but the IDF refused.

Three months ago, the family turned to the Bagatz (Israel’s Supreme Court) for permission to exhume and test the body.

In February, the Supreme Court responded that the IDF’s presented sufficient proof that it was Tzion Tayib who was buried there, and did not grant permission to the family.

The family then decided to take action on their own.

On Friday, when the cemetery was busy with preparations for Memorial Day, the family entered the cemetery with two doctors, one of them a pathologist, as well as a tombstone maker. They carefully removed the tombstone and began digging.

They did not find the body of Tzion Tayib. They did not find any body at all in the grave.

They videoed all the evidence, and then restored the grave and tombstone so that no one visiting their lost ones during the day would be disturbed by the site of an open grave.

As can be expected, this has caused a major scandal in Israel.

During the Yom Kippur war, when many soldiers were killed in terrible battles, sometimes, such as in the case of burnt out tanks, there was very little, if anything left to bury. But in those cases, the IDF privately informed the families that they were burying an empty coffin, or were burying a tank unit together, whose parts weren’t individually identifiable.

In this case, the IDF fought the family for 40 years, claiming it did bury the Tzion Tayib’s body.

What happens next remains to be seen.

From the Ministry of Defense Yizkor site:

Online Marker for Tzion Tayib

Online Marker for Tzion Tayib

For These We Weep

Monday, July 29th, 2013

I have been searching for the answer to this question…who did they kill…those 104 we are about to release? I know of a mother and her three children; I know of a grandfather stabbed in the back. I don’t know all the names but it is for these we weep today – once killed by Palestinian terrorists, today betrayed again by the government and the justice system in Israel.

Today, for these we weep…knowing that tomorrow…there will be…there will be…others.I got this on Facebook with the following note:

Look Into These Eyes….Men, Women, Parents, Grandparents, Children, Grandchildren, Infants, Soldiers, Asheknazi, Sefardic, Jews and Non Jews, Religious and Secular.

These precious faces haven’t smiled since vicious murderers stabbed, shot, kidnapped and murdered them. The Government has just agreed to release the spineless animals who murdered the people you are looking at. The Israeli Government did this as a prerequisite to have the ‘privilege’ to sit and discuss ‘peace’ with a people who continues to call for our destruction.

Who could demand such an insane request from us? I don’t forget all the good America has done for me and my people, but today… today is a brand new day. Yesterday doesn’t exist and tomorrow isn’t here yet. Today I live in a country that feels humiliated, confused and betrayed.

Look into their eyes… and imagine the agony of those who love them still and forever…

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Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

1 Dead, Several Injured in Stage Collapse at Har Herzl, Jerusalem

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

At least one person has been reported killed and 6 injured in the collapse of a light array above stage being assembled at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem for Rememberance Day ceremonies.

Initial reports indicate that the deceased is a 20 year-old female soldier and that at least two of the injured are in moderate condition.

A lighting fixture collapsed on a crew assembling the main stage for the annual day memorializing soldiers who have fallen in defense of the State of Israel.

Magen David Adom paramedics and Jerusalem police are on the scene.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/1-dead-20-injured-in-stage-collapse-at-har-herzl-jerusalem/2012/04/18/

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