Brigadier General Avi Benayahu, formerly the IDF Spokesperson, on Saturday shared with the Yediot Aharonot weekend supplement that Israel’s official radio channel, Kol Israel, was instructed to block access to MKs wishing to speak against the uprooting of some 8,000 Jews from Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip in 2005.
“During the disengagement (the laundered, government issue term for the mass deporatations), all the rebel MKs, those who objected to the move did not receive access to Kol Israel,” by decree from above, Benayahu recalled. “I allowed them, of course, to be interviewed on Army Radio, and was receiving messages from [Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon that I was providing a platform for the extreme right, the marginal voices.”
“Back then we understood that to be our role,” the former IDF Spokesperson said, reminding many readers that the left-leaning military station used to be a small l liberal outfit.
According to the Israeli media monitoring NGO Keshev (Listening), the Israeli media systematically overstated “the threat posed by those opposed to disengagement and emphasized extreme scenarios.” Keshev’s report states that “throughout the weeks before the disengagement, and during the evacuation itself, the Israeli media repeatedly warned of potential violent confrontation between settlers and security forces. These scenarios, which never materialized, took over the headlines.”
Keshev’s report suggests the Israeli print and TV media “relegated to back pages and buried deep in the newscasts, often under misleading headlines” items that “mitigated the extreme forecasts.” Editors delivered “one dominant, ominous message:,” such as Channel 1’s Aug. 14, 2005 story: “Police Declare High Alert Starting Tomorrow, Close to a State of War.”
“The discrepancy between the relatively calm reality emerging from most stories and the overall picture reflected in the headlines is evident in every aspect of the disengagement story: in the suppression of information about the voluntary collection of weapons held by the settlers in the Gaza Strip; in reporting exaggerated numbers of right-wing protesters who infiltrated the Strip before the evacuation; in misrepresentation of the purpose of settler protest (which was an exercise in public relations, not a true attempt to thwart the disengagement plan); and in playing down coordinated efforts between the Israeli security forces and the settlers,” Keshev reports.
According to Keshev, the price for this misrepresentation was paid, at least in part, by the settlers, whose public image was radicalized unjustifiably. After the disengagement was completed without violence between Israelis and a sense of unity and pride pervaded society, “the media chose to give Israeli society, and especially its security forces, a pat on the back.”
In a question-and-answer session in the Knesset this week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman Addressed a question by MK Abd Al Hakeem Haj Yahya (Joint Arab List) about the conditions at checkpoints in Judea and Samaria, Liberman said “What’s happening at checkpoints is unreasonable, and there is no doubt it harms our security.”
“There are three authorities that deal with this issue — the Airports Authority, Defense Ministry and Public Security Ministry, and this creates a complicated chaos,” Liberman explained.
Liberman expressed his hope that the matter will be taken care of in next year’s budget, “to improve things from every perspective – security and humanitarian.”
Liberman was asked by MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) about the reconciliation agreement with Turkey and whether it constitutes recognition of the Hamas’ regime in Gaza. “Our starting point must be Egypt,” the defense minister said. “It is our most important, serious ally in the Middle East. How will it affect our relations with Egypt? Personally, I’ve invested a lot of effort in building relations of trust and cooperation [with Egypt]. There are many other considerations here which we must take into account.”
MK Orly Levi-Abekasis asked Liberman why IDF soldiers who became disabled during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge have yet to receive the benefits they deserve. “There is an absolute commitment to this issue, and those who are dealing with it are doing so with dedication. It has been examined in the various committees, and as a minister I have to trust those professional echelons. The disabled themselves are part of the formulation of those benefits. Intense debates are being held in order to improve their situation,” Liberman answered.
MK Masud Ganaim (Joint Arab List) asked the defense minister about his summoning of Army Radio commander Yaron Dekel regarding a program on Arab poet Mahmoud Darwish which was aired by the station. “It is okay to air an episode on Darwish, but in the framework of ‘know your enemy,’ together with the mufti and Goebbels,” Liberman retorted.
Asked by MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) about his decision to revoke the entry permit to Israel of senior Palestinian Authority official Mohammed al-Madani, Liberman said, “Part of the tradition in the Palestinian Authority is that the same people who at nighttime deal with harming Israel and worked hard to annihilate the State of Israel, during the daytime speak a lot about brotherhood among the nations, peace, and so forth.”
The minister noted that he cannot make such a decision alone. “There is the opinion of the Shin Bet (General Security Service) and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. They are certainly not political people. Only after they tell me in writing that they strongly suggest [a permit be revoked] do I perform the formal act.”
Al-Madani, the minister said, “is not an innocent person who thinks about brotherhood and peace between Jews and Arabs.”
“Questions Hour” is a new parliamentary feature in the Knesset’s plenary sessions. Each year, the opposition has the right to invite 10 ministers to answer questions they did not see in advance. One of those times, it can be the prime minister. At least three-quarters of the questioners must come from the ranks of the opposition.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Ruby Rivlin and former President Shimon Peres at the launch of a a new Israeli Innovation Center, which will be established at the Peres Center for Peace, in Jaffa, near Tel Aviv, on July 21, 2016.
Looks to me like they’re really playing Pokemon with those VR glasses on.
A group of anti-Israel Jewish activists arrived in Hebron to award the city its first movie theater. But in the process, according to local Jewish residents, they destroyed the grazing grounds of a local Arab shepherd.
According to a JTA report by Andrew Tobin, dozens of American Jews spent Friday in Hebron “practicing nonviolent resistance against Israel’s presence,” singing “The World is Built with Loving Kindness” in English and Hebrew, clearing scrap metal, weeds and debris from a dirt lot with several low-slung cement structures, singing Jewish and protest songs, and passing around bags of popcorn labeled “Cinema Hebron” below a “triumphant” sign that read “Cinema Hebron: Coming Soon.” Indeed, the mission last Friday was to endow Hebron its “first Palestinian movie theater.”
Eventually, soldiers and police officers demanded that the activists leave the area, and when said activists sat on the ground, locked arms and sang “Lo Yisa Goy el Goy Herev,” they were pulled up one by one and removed. The Israelis in the group were detained, the Americans were let go (which was their strategy). Around 2 PM the American activists left the Israelis behind bars and proceeded to have a much deserved lunch.
There are many things wrong with the above two paragraphs, and we encourage you to read the entire JTA report to better appreciate our story (Peter Beinart joins US Jews for civil rights-style protest in West Bank). We spoke to Tzipi Shlisel, who is actually quoted by Tobin in his story, where he uses her as the obligatory reactionary settler’s counter-view: “[The activists] think they’re doing a good thing, but they’re really helping the terrorists,” and, “I’ll tell you, in the Holocaust, Jewish people helped Hitler, too.”
Tzipi Shlisel’s father, Shlomo Ra’anan HY”D, was stabbed to death by a local Arab back in 1998, the year when then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu handed over most of Hebron to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. Shlisel recalls it was a scene similar to the devastating stabbing of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel, in Kiryat Arba two weeks ago.
But Tzipi Shlisel contacted JewishPress.com not because Tobin’s report treated her father’s murder with less empathy than it did the activists’ lunch, or Because Tobin used her as a necessary color stain on his canvas describing brave Jewish activists defying Israeli occupation with action and song. Tzipi Shlisel insists Tobin’s report is partial, and that he missed out on a wealth of historic and cultural information, including the fact that the area the Jewish activists weeded so energetically was prized for its weed by a local Arab shepherd.
The lands in question are in Tel Rumeida (biblical Hebron according to some authorities) which were purchased by the Hebron Jewish community 200 years ago, the first one in 1811, the second in 1816. During the 1949-67 Jordanian occupation, the Abu Aisha clan took over some of those lands. The neighborhood of Admot Yishai was built on a small part of this land, which is otherwise known as the Tel Remeida settlement, over which the Arabs are fighting the Jewish community. “But we have aerial photographs of the entire area, including the ancient olive trees which were purchased along with the land, as is noted in the purchase documents, and these lands all belong to the Jewish community,” Shlisel insists.
Near the neighborhood there’s an area where the army built a bunker behind which there is a copper factory which was shut down for environmental reasons more than 30 years ago. “It generated crazy air pollution, Jews, Arabs, no one could breathe,” Shlisel recalls.
“Eighteen years ago, after my father was stabbed to death by an Arab, the IDF created check points for the Arab traffic near our neighborhoods, and the area around the inactive copper factory is off-limits to Arabs.”
Hebron is divided into the H1 and H2 zones. H1 compromises 80% of Hebron, and Jews are forbidden to go there. The Arabs, on the other hand, can move freely in much of H2.
“Now, when the activists arrived with their tremendous singing, they cleaned up the area thoroughly, it was truly amazing, but the local Arab, a member of the Abu Aisha clan, who’s been claiming that these are his lands, and even says they are registered as his with the city of Hebron, was not consulted.
“Later, a police officer told me there was a military order (tzav aluf — lit. decree issued by a General) to evacuate the activists and that the Arab had filed a complaint with local police,” Shlisel said.
JewishPress.com contacted the local Hebron police station chief who said there had been no complaint filed. But a different source in the Hebron community who asked to remain anonymous told the JewishPress.com that the leftwing activists, one of whom was a former Tanzim activist from the Abu Aisha clan, convinced the Arab shepherd not to file a complaint. The fact is police and IDF soldiers did show up to remove the activists, and the Arab is seen asking police to chase away the American invaders.
In any event, in the video, shot by Shlisel for TPS, the Arab is telling police, “Yalla, take them from here … these are my lands …”
“I heard the same Arab complaining that they pulled out his grazing weed from the ground, that he owns a herd which he keeps in Dura village, and the old factory is one of the area where his goats graze. Those peace activists did a cleanup job on his source of livelihood. They raked and tore up the weeds, and from a Western culture point of view they did a fantastic job, but from this Arab’s point of view they destroyed his grazing field,” Shlisel said.
Responding to an inquiry JewishPress.com emailed Peter Beinart, Sharon Rose Goldtzvik of “Uprise – communications consulting for good guys,” wrote back:
The report you received is incorrect. Early in the day, Israeli police questioned Mr. Abu Aisha’s ownership of the land, and Mr. Abu Aisha quickly produced documents proving that he is indeed the owner. The police then dropped the claim. The “local Arab farmer” you reference was never named and was not present; in fact, there is no evidence that such a complaint was ever filed. Again, Mr. Abu Aisha was able to quickly prove that he owns the property and police recognized his rightful ownership. The IDF later returned with a “closed military zone” order; this was the basis for removing the activists.
I should also mention that the property was a relatively small plot consisting of a couple of cement and cinder block buildings, and a lot of debris. It could not have been used for animal grazing. I don’t know who reported otherwise.
But as can be heard on the video, Abu Aisha is clearly asking police to remove the activists, and says that he often grazes his animals there (watch the last half of the tape, shot by Shlisel for TPS, starting sec. 23).
As to the idea of “Cinema Hebron” (the name of the city in Arabic is Al-Khalil, meaning “friend,” after Abraham who was the friend of God, while Hebron is the colonialist-Zionist name used by the occupiers) Hebron is probably the most conservative religious Muslim city in all of Israel, where men and women are completely segregated, where Hamas rules, and where the very idea of attending a movie, never mind opening a movie theater, could get a man flogged.
That these American “liberators” would be so ignorant of the cultural and religious values of the people they have come to set free with song and hard weeding is possibly the funniest, even hallucinatory, idea of all.
“Which is why the only place where they could advocate having a movie theater in all of Hebron was near the Jewish neighborhoods, where at least no one would stone the living daylights out of them for their insolence, Tzipi Shlisel said, adding, “These human rights group who say they want to help the Arabs are actually ignorant of who these Arabs are. They step on their culture, trampling their values, with great glee and with a loud song on their lips.”
The former chief of staff for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned a second time under caution on Monday.
Ari Harrow was taken for questioning last week upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport, although he was told he was not being arrested.
After 14 hours of interrogation “under caution” — implying he was indeed a suspect in the unspecified investigation — he was released to five days of house arrest.
The interrogation was carried out in connection with a probe into allegations of fraud in an initial investigation into the activities of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his family, as well as other government figures.
Earlier last week Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit ordered an initial probe into the prime minister’s actions as part of the wider investigation of financial activity by government officials.
Harrow served as chief of staff to Netanyahu in 2014.
Conservative Members of the British Parliament gave outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron a standing ovation Wednesday as he completed his final session of Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons. Even some of the Opposition relented with applause.
Cameron has, by and large, enjoyed a positive relationship with Israel and with top Israeli government officials.
“I was the future once,” he told them — a reference to a remark he once made when addressing then-Prime Minister Tony Blair (“He was the future once”) in his first PMQ session as head of the Tory party.
Cameron was photographed with his wife and three young children outside the famous “black door” of Number 10 Downing Street after the session. He said he believed his six-year tenure had left England “much stronger” with an “immeasurably stronger” economy, a reduced deficit, increased international aid spending and reduced National Health Service waiting lists. He spoke with pride about having introduced gay marriage and paid tribute to his wife, who he said “kept [him] vaguely sane.”
Cameron’s successor, former Interior Minister Theresa May, vowed to “build a better Britain, not just for the privileged few,” upon taking office Wednesday afternoon. She kissed the hand of Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace soon after a similar ceremony had taken place with the now-former prime minister.
May spoke of her determination to cement the bond between Britain, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and promised to “rise to the challenge” of forging a “bold new positive role” for the UK in the world after negotiating the exit of the UK from the European Union.
The new prime minister emphasized her intention to serve as a “One Nation” leader, representing all voters and not just the elite and the business world.
May is the country’s second female prime minister, and the first woman to serve in the post since Margaret Thatcher.
In the last two weeks I had the painful privilege of attending two big funerals.
The first was the funeral of Irving Moskowitz, the wealthy American doctor who, along with his wife Cherna, became the patron of building in eastern Jerusalem, Hebron, Akko, and Ariel, and was involved in countless building projects, reclamations, charities, and educational institutions. By one unofficial estimate, Moskowitz gave half a billion dollars to these causes – but it might be much more. He was interred on the Mount of Olives facing the Temple Mount, close to the graves of Israel’s first Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Kook, and first IDF Chief Rabbi, Shlomo Goren, in the heart of eastern Jerusalem where he helped pioneer Jewish life. His funeral, while sad, was not marred by an atmosphere of a tragedy, rather, it was a kind of celebration of his mission and success.
Less than two weeks later, I was standing at the funeral of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, a lively 13-year-old girl who had been murdered by a 17-year-old Jihadist from Arab village Bani Na’im. He scaled a wall and jumped through a window of the Ariel’s family home set within the vineyards of Kiryat Arba. The murderer found little Hallel sleeping in her bed defenseless, so he stabbed her tens of times and then ran looking for a next victim until a member of the Rapid Response Team ended his life with a bullet. Hallel was buried in the ancient cemetery of Hebron, where many other Jewish victims of Jihad terror rest along with Jewish luminaries, not far from the Machpela, the Tomb of the Founding Fathers and Mothers of the Jewish people. Unlike the Moskowitz funeral, this one was not a celebration of the life well lived, but rather the epitome of tragedy, loss, and bitter questions. The contrast between the two funerals was stark. Irving Moskowitz lived his life fully. He was a loving family man and a rags-to-riches success (his wife Cherna told us that at their wedding, the bottom two layers of the wedding cake were faux – only the top tier was real cake, because that’s all they could afford). Moskowitz dedicated his life and wealth to increasing Jewish presence and asserting Jewish rights in the Land of Israel. His funeral was a Who’s Who of activists, ministers and mayors who came to honor the successes and contributions of a man who kept pushing the Zionist revolution into the heartland of Israel liberated in the Six Day War.
Hallel Yaffa’s contributions were, on the other hand, more modest. She was the oldest girl in her family, a natural leader to her siblings and many cousins, and a dance performer — her dance teacher’s eulogy at the funeral was a painful testimony to her young life. Yet at her funeral some of the very same activists, ministers, and VIPs that were present at the Moskowitz funeral attended. This time, they came not to celebrate, but to commiserate with a salt-of-the-earth family, a victim of a despicable crime perpetrated by forces dedicated to eradicating us from our country. And many more came to say goodbye to little Hallel, whose body and potential were destroyed forever. No dancing, no children, no life.
At the Moskowitz shiva, modern day Zionist heroes streamed in. As I sat next to Cherna, I translated for Yigal Cohen-Orgad, the Chancellor of Ariel University who talked about how Moskowitz saved the budding college from going into bankruptcy with a fifty-thousand dollar donation to cover debt. Then I translated for an Arab man who works with reclamation organizations in Jerusalem. He blessed Cherna for a long life and urged her to continue with strength, saying that though he has been the target of many assassination attempts, he believes his efforts on behalf of Israel protected him. He promised Cherna that he will continue his work, and that his sons after him will as well, “all the way until the Temple is built in Jerusalem” — yes, I heard it myself. Finally, I translated for Ze’ev Hever (Zambish), the famous CEO of Amana (the housing organization of Judea and Samaria), who told the story of how Moskowitz gave him money for the first mobile homes for new immigrants from Russia.
Zambish recalled that it had taken only ten minutes to convince Moskowitz and that they reconvened to phone the mobile homes factory owner to close the deal that very same evening. Through the stories, we learned that Moskowitz was a quick decision maker, that he was very hands-on with the legal minutia, that he saw clearly the importance of acquiring the land of Israel. Moskowitz did not wait for the government to lead – indeed, I got the impression that Moskowitz formed a shadow government of activists around him — they ran ahead, created facts, and then allowed the government to catch up.
At Hallel Yaffa’s shiva, there was frustration and pain. Important politicians, the Prime Minister, the Defense Minister, and the President, all came into the family home but somehow their proclamations rang hollow and shallow. The greatest questions asked in today’s Israel were right on the surface, but the politicians did not have clear answers: what is the nature of this Jihadist Jew-hatred and how do we stop it? Do Jews have a right to live in this (part of the) land, and if yes, is it a smart thing to do? What is the Palestinian Authority and how is it that our country awaits them at the peace table yet they are the source of the greatest incitement?
But the politicians had more blandness than answers and even seemed more culpable than capable. The government response to the murders seemed tepid at best: restricting Arab work permits for a limited time, and announcing the approval of 42 housing units in Kiryat Araba which had already been approved once before. Local Arab Jihadis recently murdered Yitzchak Chasno, two members of the Litman family, gardener Gennady Kaufman, and now Hallel Yaffa and Rabbi Mark – but there was no sense of rage or urgency in the government actions in the Hebron region. At the shiva house, the Prime Minister and the President were received warmly and respectfully, but not with confidence that they will bring real change in response to these crimes and these times.
Yet, overtly, what was common to both funerals and shiva houses was an abiding faith in the right of the Jewish people to live in freedom and security anywhere in this great, but tiny land. Irving Moskowitz and Hallel Yaffa Ariel both exemplified the struggle to actualize Jewish life in the Jewish ancestral homeland. Both Moskowitz and Hallel Yaffa stood for Jewish courage that will not succumb to bullying from outside forces or yield to slothfulness from within.
May their memory be a blessings and an inspiration to all of us.