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November 29, 2014 / 7 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘rifle’

The Eisner Affair

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

We would never presume to second-guess the IDF’s judgment concerning the actions of one of its officers while on duty. But several observations need to be made about the worldwide reaction to that video of IDF Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner’s striking a demonstrator with a rifle butt.

This episode is not just about the reaction of one soldier in a tense situation. It is also about calculated provocations designed to show Israel in the worst possible light, and it is that aspect of the controversy which needs to be addressed.

For one thing, the uproar over the event only underscores that the kind of violence seen on the video was atypical of what has come to be expected from the Israeli military.

For another, the incident occurred next door to the Syrian killing fields, and yet the pro-Palestinian protestors had not a word to say about that, focusing their ire instead on the lone democracy in the region. Why the sympathy for demonstrators who ignore palpable evil but obsess about one side of a long-simmering geopolitical controversy? And would the demonstrators last one minute if they brought their act to any Arab country?

Also, how is it that a reaction to provocation is judged without reference to the provocation? Where is the discussion about the propriety of protesters seeking to force the opening of a blockaded road that is part of a security plan which continues to save Israeli lives? Why is that area not properly considered a war zone with all of the assumed risks that entails?

And does it mean nothing that the object of Lt. Col. Eisner’s anger was a link in a pulsating chain of marchers challenging soldiers whose mission it was to keep them off the security road? What, exactly, were the soldiers supposed to do to stop them? Feed them falafel?

Further, after the Rodney King fiasco twenty years ago, why aren’t more people concerned that the tape may not tell the full story? Shalom Eisner claimed that violence had been visited upon him – and that two of his fingers were broken as a result – just before the videographer/demonstrator started filming. Is that to be dismissed out of hand?

As an Israeli military spokesperson, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, said, while that while Lt. Col. Eisner may have breached his ethical duties, he was facing “an illegal riot” and that the video being circulated showed a thirty-second edited snippet of a 120-second tape.

While remaining mindful of the strict standards the IDF imposes on its personnel, we need to never lose sight of the goals and methods of anti-Israel fanatics who will stop at nothing to undermine Israeli security and whose fondest dreams are our worst nightmares.

Toulouse Suspect Still Hiding, Heavily Armed

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Mohammed Mera, the 24-year-old Frenchman who claimed ties to Al-Qaida and suspected of shooting the 5 victims of the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school, remains surrounded by police in his Toulouse apartment.  According to a report by Euronews, Mera is heavily armed with an Uzi machine gun, a Kalashnikov assault rifle, and other weapons.

Earlier in the standoff, Mera threw a pistol out of his house in exchange for a “communications device”, according to French Interior Minister Claude Gueant.

 

A Heavenly Gift: My Father’s Palmach Commando Days

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Summer 1946. His high school days over, my father, Mordechai Schwartz, was faced with a decision that would affect not only his life but the lives of generations to come.

Struggling to make up his mind about whether to enroll in university or join the Palmach, the underground Jewish fighting force, my father spent three full weeks weighing the possible consequences of each course of action.

Created in 1941 to battle the Nazi army stationed in Africa, the Palmach (Palguot Machatz, spearhead of the underground Haganah) had developed into an elite commando force capable of extraordinary feats of daring, military genius and acts of self-sacrifice.

In five short years the Palmach fighter had become the ideal Jewish soldier – brilliant, athletic, able to improvise strategy and tactics on the spot, honest and humble – a fighting machine endowed with Jewish values.

Sixty-six years had passed since my family arrived in Eretz Yisrael. In 1880 Zionism was not yet a political movement. My great-grandmother could not have children and her girlfriends told her that if she lived in the Holy Land she would conceive. So she and her husband left Europe and returned home – home after 1,900 years of exile.

My family – religious yet worldly and very much involved in the issues of the day – was divided between the Palmach and the Irgun, the underground force that had broken with the Haganah. The Palmach stressed a covert approach to dislodging the British from Palestine and defending against Arab attacks; the Irgun emphasized an overt military effort to secure Jewish independence and security. They were bitter enemies at times, but heroes all.

My father had to choose between studying to be an engineer or putting personal ambition on the back burner and fighting for a Jewish state. The Palmach offered hope – a new day for the wandering, persecuted Children of Israel who were scattered to the ends of the earth but who daily reaffirmed the biblical vow, “If I forget thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand lose its power ”

A sense of urgency was sweeping the Jewish world. Fully one-third of the Jewish nation had just been wiped off the face of the earth. My father made his decision. He would give his all to end the misery of his beloved people. He would join the heirs of the Maccabean and Bar Kochba warriors.

The day of his enlistment, my father sprang out of bed singing the words of the Palmach marching song:

All around us the storm rages But we will not lower our heads We are always ready to follow the commands We are the Palmach.

And then he was off to Kibbutz Bet HaArava, in the northern Dead Sea region. Within an hour of enlisting he began rifle training. The Palmach wasted no time.

“Rifles are not like an ear; they must be cleaned every day,” the young rifle instructor told the new volunteers. “Get to know each part of the rifle. The Winchester is designed to be fired from the shoulder.”

He then went into intricate detail concerning the engineering of the weapons they were holding. “By the way,” he said, “if you are wondering why I am explaining all of this to you is because in the Palmach we think – and we want to understand what we do. We don’t argue, but we want to understand.”

Moving from one recruit to the next the young instructor examined the barrels of their rifles, his sharp eye searching for any dust, dirt or sand. He would repeat the same three questions, followed by a command: “Is the gun clean?” “Are you sure?” “Is it empty?” “Fire.”

The click of the hammer sounded again and again. The recruits were becoming increasingly annoyed at the repetition. Everyone got the drill. Suddenly, a rifle fired, but it wasn’t empty. A bullet entered the young instructor’s right eye, killing him instantly. Shocked, wailing with guilt and remorse, the recruit who fired the shot was beside himself as the blood of the instructor flowed onto the ground.

Utterly shaken by the tragedy, my father remembered his mother’s words – “If God wants, even a broom can shoot.” Or even a supposedly empty rifle. And so on that first day of training my father learned his first Palmach lesson: Never take anything for granted.

Just Another Morning

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

I have often read Lessons in Emunah. When several of my friends told me I ought to submit the following I decided to follow their advice.

My husband and I made aliyah three and a half years ago to Efrat. We are both retired and are very happy with the quality of life here in Efrat. The community is friendly, warm, and active. There is something here for every age, taste, and need.

I wrote the following on Nov 18, 2003:

I made the decision last night to forgo my usual Tuesday morning swim. Instead, I decided to go with the women of Efrat (and neighboring areas) on their weekly bus trip to Kever Rachel. There were three reasons for this change of mind. Firstly, I hadn’t been there in a while and I always feel better after talking out my feelings and anxieties near Rachel Imeinu. Secondly, we have some very dear people I wanted to say special Tefillot for, and last but not least, our weekly shiur was going to be in English and given by the young women whose shiur I attend every Wednesday at the Women’s Bet Midrash of Efrat.

Every Tuesday, since Sarah Blaustein HY”D was murdered, there has been a bulletproof bus that takes us to Kever Rachel. This is in her memory, since she went to Kever Rachel every Tuesday morning, from the day she made aliyah until the day she was murdered. The bus to this holy site was arranged under the direction of some dedicated women in Efrat. To add more meaning to the morning davening and saying Tehillim, a shiur is given in either Hebrew or English by one of the very talented women or men of Gush Etzion and/or Yerushalayim.

For the longest time, we were denied permission to go to Kever Rachel by the Israeli forces, on the theory that they couldn’t protect us. But B”H, people desired to visit and pray at Kever Rachel and we now have a bulletproof Egged bus that runs several times a day from the Yerushalayim central bus station. A soldier who boards the bus at the checkpoint protects us. We have to strictly adhere to the schedule because there is only room for one bus to wait (under security) while we board or leave the bus.

You see such an amazing group of people coming there. Israelis, tourists, the old, the young, some carrying infants or toddlers, the sick, the handicapped, the poor, and the wealthy, Sefardim and Ashkenazim, all kinds of Jews coming to pray at the Kever of our beloved mother Rachel.

When I awoke this morning, November 18, I heard the seven o’clock news. There was a report that there was yet another sniper attack on the Gush Etzion/ Yerushalayim road. This is the highway that runs right outside of Efrat, going north through two tunnels to Yerushalayim. It sounded from the reports that the two people involved were lightly injured and the traffic was at a standstill. This wasn’t going to stop me from going, because I knew within an hour (we leave at 8:30) the traffic would have been cleared and all would be normal.

Yes, it was normal, but not the normal we look forward to. As I waited at the bus stop with another woman, I found out that there were two chayalim (soldiers) murdered at the checkpoint. (That’s where my husband and I always stop to give the soldiers goodies to nosh). It seems that an Arab had a rifle hidden in a prayer rug and after the soldiers gave him
permission to pray there, he took the rifle out and fired point-blank at two soldiers. Shlomi Bielsky HY”D and Shaul Lahav HY”D were murdered that morning. The Arab jumped into a getaway car and fled the scene. So obviously it was planned in advance, and not that some guy went crazy and decided to kill some Jews today.

We have recently been ordered to be more lenient to Arab population and so we now have donkeys, cars, buses and taxies filled with them on our roads. They walk on our roads, ride on our roads, and kill our children.

We couldn’t get into Kever Rachel for a while because of the checking of all the cars, so one of the organizers took out a set of Tehillim and we all sat on the bus and said Tehillim. You should have heard the silence. The bus was full of chattering women. Suddenly, we all stopped, and began to say Tehillim. (What is amazing is that these are everyday women, like me, like you, the kind you meet in the supermarket, swimming pool, and in shul. There we were, thrown into circumstances that no one should be asked to contemplate, and how do we react? We pray. And it helps us and we hope it helps those for whom we are praying.

We arrived at Kever Rachel and I davened. My davening was extraordinarily intense probably because of the tears, that I couldn’t stop and all the thoughts that I had. It was O K. I was in good company. Mostly everyone there was praying with such intensity that the sobs of some were audible. (There was a group of New Yorkers from the G.A. convention there, and they also seemed very subdued and touched by the tragedy.)

On the way home, we stopped at the checkpoint where today’s attack took place. The bus driver got out to ask permission from the officer in charge for us to stand there, and we got out of the bus and said Tehillim. There were reporters there and loads of cameras, but no one took pictures of us. I guess we weren’t newsworthy. We got home safely B”H to carry on with our normal activities.

Just another morning!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/just-another-morning/2004/03/31/

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