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July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘soldiers’

Mea Shearim Men Stone Haredi Soldiers

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Residents of the Haredi Mea Shearim neighborhood in Jerusalem hurled dozens of rocks at Haredi soldiers Sunday, according to Jerusalem police. No one was reported injured.

Firemen were called to the scene to put out fires that the attackers set in large garbage containers. When the police arrived, the stone attackers fled.

As Israelis Mourn the Dead, Jordanians Glorify Killer

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Israelis just transitioned from their annual day of remembrance to the day they celebrate their independence. But even in celebrating 65 years of statehood, Israel never forgets the sacrifices it has made over the course of its existence.

As Israelis mourn the 23,000 soldiers and defense personnel who have been killed in the course of defending the Jewish state against aggression and terrorism, Jordanian leaders (not including the king, at least thus far) are making a hero out of a Jordanian soldier who murdered seven Israeli school girls and wounded six others during a peace program in 1997. Ahmed Daqamseh, who expressed pride in his mass murder, was convicted of these crimes but spared the death penalty, despite the fact that Jordan executes large numbers of criminals for relatively trivial offenses.

Now after serving approximately two years for each of the murders, he is seeking his release and he has the support of a large majority of Jordanian parliamentarians, who regard him as a hero. The very word “hero” was used by the Jordanian justice minister in joining the chorus calling for his release.

Daqamseh’s mother has said, “I am proud of my son and I hold my head high. My son did a heroic deed and has pleased Allah and his own conscience. My son lifts my head and the head of the entire Arab and Islamic nation. I am proud of any Muslim who does what Ahmed did.”

Daqamseh himself has said, “I have no regrets.” He continued, “The only thing I am angry about is the gun, which did not work properly. Otherwise, I would have killed all of the [children].” He also said he would do it again if given the opportunity.

The 13 school girls who were shot by the Jordanian soldier were on a peace mission at a place ironically called The Island of Peace. It is the man who shot these 13 school girls, wishes he had killed more, and promises to do it again, who is being called a hero by Jordanian public officials. The silence of King Abdullah speaks loudly about the widespread popular support that exists for this mass murderer of Jewish children.

In justifying his support for Daqamseh’s release, the Justice Minister said, “If a Jew murdered Arabs, [the Israelis] build him a statue.” In fact precisely the opposite is true. When a Jewish extremist (not a soldier) murdered Arabs at prayer, the Israeli government not only did not build him a statue, it forbade any statue from being built by private sources and has demonized the killer (who was himself killed), as a mass murderer deserving of no lionization.

Another indication of the widespread support is that 110 out of the 120 members of the lower house of Jordan’s parliament have called him a hero and demanded his release. They are seeking “freedom for the soldier hero” and saying “we are all Ahmed Daqamseh.” Leading this despicable effort to free a mass murderer is Ali Sneid, a man who claims to be of the left.

The effort to release Daqamseh has taken on elements of Islamic anti-Semitism by calling the continued imprisonment of this murderer “protection for the herds of the brothers of apes and pigs” and calling the victims of this mass murder by other anti-Semitic terms.

Nor is this hatred of Jews and the Jewish state by Jordanians limited to this particular case, despicable as that would be. Among grassroots Jordanians, particularly those of Palestinian background, there is widespread hatred of all things Jewish, Israeli and even American. Islamic extremism is rampant in parts of Jordan, though suppressed by its king and his dictatorial minions. Jordan is ripe for yet another Arab Spring turned winter. All that stands between the current monarchy and an Islamic upheaval is massive American financial and military support for its charming king.

King Abdullah presents a far more beneficent face of despotism than did any of the other Arab despots who were toppled, or are in the process of being toppled, by the Arab Spring turned Islamic extremist winter. How long this situation will last is anyone’s guess. But the possibility that before long Israel may have a neighbor to the east who is not as peaceful as the current Jordanian government, must be seriously considered.

The Only Truth

Monday, April 15th, 2013

It’s rather ironic that although my written Hebrew is awful, I see, hear and think about Hebrew linguistics a lot.  Most people are rather surprised at my grasp of Hebrew linguistics and the meanings I find in words.

The word אמת  emmet, truth, written without Hebrew vowels, can mean something which really is true:t That אמות amute I will die.  The actual Hebrew root for die is מ ו ת which has a “ו” but the “ו” is dropped in some of the conjugations of the verb, such as past tense.  It’s ironic, but the only certainty in life is that we will one day die.

Why is death so on my mind today?  Because it’s Israel’s Soldiers and Terror Victims Memorial Day. After two totally mesmerizing moving ceremonies, last night and this morning, all I can do is think of the victims, those dead from Arab terror or war.

After seeing and hearing and talking to all the parents, spouses, siblings, children, grandchildren, grandparents, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends (did I leave anyone out?) of the dead how can anything other than death be on my mind?

They may not be among the living, but they certainly cast a long shadow on us and our lives.

From the speeches, it was clear that time doesn’t heal the pain.  Everyone I spoke to afterwards agreed that each year it gets harder.  The mourning comes in waves.

From the comments on my post, One of The Very Best Things About Israel, I see that not everyone agrees with me that it’s good to combine Independence Day with Memorial Day.  I treasure the fact that I’m taking intense memories of the dead with me to the celebrations.  I don’t think it is good to just celebrate our independence.  It’s too much like those who think that all you have to do is “write a check” to buy something and don’t realize that the check must be covered by money in the bank.

It’s important to realize the cost of something, and that includes the State of Israel.  Our country isn’t just a money budget.  We’ve invested many lives in building it.

We are Jews, יהודים Yihudim. In the word יהודי yihudi Jew we can find the word להודות lihodote, to thank, and we must thank God and all of those who gave their lives for the defense of the State of Israel and the Jewish People.

And tonight we will celebrate the God given victory…

Visit Shiloh Musings.

A Day of Agony

Monday, April 15th, 2013

I went last night, as I do almost every year, to our local ceremony remembering Israel’s fallen. I’ve lived in this city going on 12 years. Where at first I knew none of the names, there are now three that I recognize, families that I know.

Each year, I am grateful that there aren’t more; desperately, almost embarrassing grateful not to be sitting up in the front.

“Who is sitting there?” Shmulik asked me last night. He’s been to these ceremonies before, but never paid attention. That is where the mayor sits, his assistants and deputies. The chief rabbis of our city and others. But most significantly, this is where the bereaved families sit. They are separated by a low barrier so they won’t be bothered, so they can grieve a bit in private, as they sit among thousands who have come to honor them and the sons and daughters they have lost.

The ceremony begins just moments before 8:00 p.m. It is windy and cool this year; sometimes it is unbearably hot. The park, where tonight there will be singing and dancing and fireworks, was packed last night for the Memorial Day ceremony. It is a unique and amazing yearly event – to cry with all your heart one day and then smile and dance and be happy the next.

We sit there knowing we will dance tomorrow night, knowing these families will not.

Young teenagers walk onto the stage, each carrying large Israeli flags. They are divided into two lines, each moving to the side of the stage where they will remain throughout the ceremony. A man comes to the front; I don’t know his name but he has a beautiful, deep voice – he will lead the ceremony, introduce each of the speakers and singers.

He tells us in a moment, the siren will sound and asks us to stand. He asks the parents to watch over the children so that they don’t make noise and for other adults to watch if children here without parents are overly noisy. Then there is silence. Thousands are waiting for the siren. We wait …

It begins with a quiet wail, gaining and reaching the top. Unlike the real air raid siren, the sound does not go up and down – it is an endless cry that reaches into your heart and fills your eyes. They burn and you try to blink them away. I stand beside one son; another is at home with his wife. What right do I have to cry? God has blessed me – my sons are alive and safe.

The siren ends – not abruptly, but as it began, a slow decline to silence. The flag is lowered and we are asked to sit down again.

More teenagers come forward – there are four this time. The two in the middle begin a slow recitation of the names of those we have lost from our city – there are so many, too many. The father of the last to fall is asked to say the mourners prayer and the audience stands again and answers “Amen” at the appropriate times.

The mayor speaks; others as well. Songs – horribly sad songs of love of land and family, of country of life are sung. Your heart breaks and you want it to end. You want to go home and never come to another ceremony, knowing you will be there again next year, and the year after, and after that.

In all the years I have been in Israel, I have missed very few. Perhaps when my children were very young, or I was pregnant and sitting on a hard floor for an hour was torture. I know when Elie was in the army, I couldn’t go. I couldn’t sit there and listen and think. I was ashamed of my cowardice and begged the families to forgive me.

The first time I went was in Elie’s last year in the army – when he went with me. That, somehow, I managed to do. Last night, I sat next to Shmulik and as with Elie, his being there gave me comfort.

Memorial Day in Israel is as it should be – it is not a day of picnics and sales. It is not about barbecues and fun. It is agony; it is pain. It is tears and sad songs on the radio. It is a candle burning in my house in their memory, and it is the constant knowledge that without their sacrifice, we would not sing and dance tonight. We would not be free, here in our land.

May God bless the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and forever keep them in His heart, as they are in ours.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

The Silence on Israel’s Memorial Day

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Tonight, Israel will mark Yom Hazikaron, its annual Memorial Day, known officially as the Day of Remembrance for Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism.  Arnold Roth delivered the following (in Hebrew) as a speech at a public Yom Hazikaron commemoration in the Jerusalem community where he and his wife and children live.

My daughter Malki z”l was murdered in August 2001.

In the years since then, I have met and spoken with politicians, journalists, diplomats and public figures from many countries. It has been a privilege to engage with them, to address their questions of how it is to live in a society where so many people have experienced personal loss from war.

It is much rarer to express those feelings to one’s own neighbors. What can be said to them that they do not know already?

Perhaps nothing, because we live our lives so close to each other and therefore we share many experiences.  We see each other on the bus and at the kanyon (shopping mall). Walking along the street, going to the youth center or the synagogue, waiting at the same traffic lights for the red light to become green.

With all that we share, it is inescapable that our stories are individual, personal, unique and non-standard. Our experiences in life are like that too: different from one another’s. The music that some of us enjoy is not so enjoyable to others. The same with food, with politics, with the color and style of our clothes, with the books we like to read.

I know very little about what is going on inside the heads of the people who stand on line with me at the supermarket. I expect that what they know about me is very little, too.

Each year, I ask myself: What are they thinking when all of us stand in silence as the siren to mark the minute of silence is sounding?

I know what I am thinking about. I know we are probably not thinking the same things.

There are some who will surely say that what we need to think about is the soldiers who paid the highest price in order to defend our land. Or about the heroes of Israel whose blood was shed so that we might gain our national independence.

How unusual is it to find an entire country standing absolutely still, not speaking, not driving, while an unnatural sound fills the air? And not just any unnatural sound, but the sound of the tzefira, the siren? A sound that, if we hear it on a different day, would cause our hearts to beat rapidly and our hands to become sweaty. A frightening sound.

And as we stand there, no trucks, no buses, no cars are moving.

Several million people, who cannot be persuaded to do something together at any other time, suddenly co-operate in doing something at precisely the same moment that brings no personal benefit to any of us. Why?

I feel deep gratitude to the men and women who fought to defend our country.

But it is terribly difficult for me to think about 25,578 korbanot (victims, deceased). I want to feel the pain of their lost futures. Their goodwill and their dedication to our land, our people and our history and the terrible result demand that I should try.

But in the end, it is a number that my mind simply cannot hold.

I have visited many countries. I have never seen anything like an entire nation of people come to a standstill, leaving their cars in the middle of the highway, standing there on the pavement with their heads bowed. I think it is one of the most powerful and moving sights imaginable.

Even as I struggle to think about the vast pain of an entire nation honoring the memory of thousands of its dead soldiers and police and terror victims, I ask myself: But what does it mean? What good does it do to remember?

There are, as I said, large differences between us. All of us can see that while some of us have paid a terrible personal price for the blessings in our lives, others appear to have been completely excused.

There are people who can explain this. Their explanations do not speak to me.

From a Soldier’s Mother to a Martyr’s Mother

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Mariam Farhat died recently in Gaza. She had 10 children, six sons. Three of her sons died committing terrorist attacks for Hamas; one is in an Israeli prison. The night before her 17 year old son, Muhammed attacked a school and murdered five students, Mariam joined him in a pre-suicide video in which she wished him well on his journey to be a martyr. She was so proud of him. When she heard that her son had died, she handed out sweets and proudly proclaimed, “Allah Akbar” which translates to Allah is great in Arabic (and sounds awfully close to “Allah is a mouse” in Hebrew).

After Israel withdrew from Gaza, Mariam visited the village where her son had killed people and took a piece of the outer fencing to mount on her wall as a symbol of his life…I mean his death. Another son was killed while driving in a car with a rocket which exploded when an Israeli jet identified the target. Israeli lives were saved; Mariam had herself another martyr.

In case you haven’t figured out how I feel about her, let me share some of her words:

“I protect my sons from defying Allah, or from choosing a path that would not please Allah. This is what I fear, when it comes to my sons. But as for sacrifice, Jihad for the sake of Allah, or performing the duty they were charged with – this makes me happy. There is no difference. This is Islamic religious law. I don’t invent anything. I follow Islamic religious law in this. A Muslim is very careful not to kill an innocent person, because he knows he would be destined to eternal Hell. So the issue is not at all simple. We rely on Islamic religious law when we say there is no prohibition on killing these people. The word ‘peace’ does not mean the kind of peace we are experiencing. This peace is, in fact, surrender and a shameful disgrace. Peace means the liberation of all of Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. When this is accomplished – if they want peace, we will be ready. They may live under the banner of the Islamic state. That is the future of Palestine that we are striving towards.

And more…here is an interview with Mariam – in her words.

She died in a hospital of health complications at the age of 64 – lung ailments and kidney failure.

There is something incomprehensible to me in this story; something that makes me wonder if I have anything in common with this woman. I am a mother of three sons. I have watched two grow and marry and my greatest fear for them would be the very thing this woman wished on her sons. She wished them to die – yeah, sure – as a martyr…whatever the heck that is.

Muhammed was 17 years old. She encouraged him to die – her greatest fear was not his death, but that he waste the opportunity of not dying as part of an act to murder others.

As a writer, I am forever trying to adhere to the laws of grammar and to use (and sometimes abuse) them for the good of a post, article, or manual I write. And here, I add a paragraph and laugh at myself. I don’t even want to mention my son David in the same paragraph as Muhammed. Davidi was raised with love – not just to receive it, but also to give it. He was taught that he is part of a community and so he volunteers with a local youth group and with the local ambulance squad.

Davidi, my precious Davidi is 17 years old. He’s tall; he’s so beautiful – and he goes out all the time, not waiting for a chance to attack, as Muhammed was taught from the time he was 7 years old. Instead, Davidi goes out with ambulances, trying to save lives…and in truth, the lives he saves are sometimes Jewish lives and sometimes Arab lives. This woman dared to call herself a mother?

I thought to write a message to this Mariam but in the end, the truth is that she turns my stomach. I cannot call her a “mother” because she thinks being a mother means only the act of giving birth. There is so much more to being a mother than that. If you are blessed, as I was, your births are not to difficult and you move on – on with that baby that wants to learn so much. What you teach them is what counts so much more than the physical act of having them leave your body.

The Shadow of the Gun

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Every day another one of the stories comes in. A teacher panicked by a plastic gun, an army man on a cupcake, a t-shirt, a pop tart chewed into the shape of a gun or a finger gun hits the panic button. Suspensions and lectures quickly follow as the latest threat to the gun-free zone, usually in the form of a little boy, is tackled to the ground and lectured to within an inch of his life.

Tellingly these incidents rarely take place in the inner city schools where teenage gang members walk through metal detectors at the start of the day. The safety officers in those schools, big weary men with eyes that look everywhere at once, don’t waste their time on toys. Not unless those toys are full-size, painted black and filed down to look like real guns.

It’s usually the schools where a shooting is wholly unlikely; where gun violence is not a daily reality, but an unlikely convergence of horror, that institutional vigilance hits an irrational peak as every school imagines that it could be the next Columbine or the next Sandy Hook.

The NRA’s initial proposal of armed school guards was met with an irrational chorus of protests. More guns aren’t the answer, was the cry. And the leading crier was the White House’s expert skeet shooter. In a country where law enforcement is heavily armed and gunmen are stopped by gunmen in uniforms, a strange Swedenization had set in. The problem was not the man, it was the gun. Get rid of the guns and you stop the killing. Schools across the country are banning not the gun, but the idea of the gun. It is a conceptual prohibition that is meant to push away the threat of gun violence by eliminating any mention of the G word. Gun-free zones mean places where guns cannot be mentioned, depicted or even symbolized as if the refusal to concede the existence of a firearm will eliminate the threat of it being used on the premises.

This isn’t a precautionary attitude, but a pacifist one. Gun horror is not a productive emotion, but learned helplessness disguised as moral superiority. Rather than teaching children to hate killers, schools are instead teaching them to hate guns. And reducing murders to instruments rather than morals, children are left with no sense of right and wrong, only an instinctive horror of violence.

Pacifists have always demonized armies rather than invaders. During WWI they obsessed over gas. During WWII, it was the bomber and the tank. During the Cold War they demonized nuclear weapons. In the War on Terror, they target the drone. By dealing with the object rather than the subject, they are able to avoid the question of moral responsibility. Rather than hold the Nazis, Communists or Islamists accountable for their actions, they extended a blanket condemnation over the weapons-wielders.

The American G.I. was just as bad as the S.S. man or the Kamikaze pilot or the Political Commissar. The only difference was in who had the bigger guns. And the one with the bigger guns, was also the most to blame.

That same attitude can be seen today when Israel is blamed for every battle with Islamic terrorists because it has the bigger guns. Rather than evaluating the nature of a conflict and the values of both sides, the pacifists score every war based on firepower.

While the left likes to indulge in stereotypes of gun-toting rednecks and bomb-brandishing generals, the only people who judge the worth of a man by his weapon are the pacifists, the gun-fearers and gun-hiders who mythologize weapons as black agents of evil.

To believe that there is no such thing as constructive violence is to reject free will. Without accepting the necessity of constructive violence, there is no good and evil, only armed men and unarmed men. Without constructive violence, two boys playing cops and robbers in the schoolyard are not acting out a childish morality play, they are becoming desensitized to murder, and without it a child with a pop tart chewed into the shape of a gun is on the way to being a school shooter.

If there is no such thing as constructive violence, then the police officer is not the solution to crime, he is part of the cycle of violence. And if that cycle of violence does not begin with a man choosing to use a gun for good or evil, then it must begin with the gun. The man becomes the object and the gun becomes the subject. American ICBMs become just as bad as Russian ballistic missiles. An Israeli soldier killing a suicide bomber is just as bad as the terrorist. There are no good guys with guns. To have a gun is to be the bad guy.

For decades the gun-control lobby has brandished assault rifles at press conferences and spent more time describing their killing power than their manufacturers have. The rifle has been upgraded to the assault rifle and now, in the latest Orwellian vernacular used by the White House and the entire media pyramid beneath it, weapons of war.

The dreaded assault rifle or weapon of war or killing machine of mass death actually kills rather few Americans. The average shooter doesn’t bring an AR-15 to a Chicago gangland dispute. Despite the number of these weapons in private hands, most of the killing takes place with handguns in the same parts of the country where large amounts of illegal drugs are sold, women trafficked and stores robbed.

Shootings in America are not caused by guns, they are caused by crime. Guns really do not walk off store shelves and go on killing sprees. That’s what criminals are for. But the trouble with that discussion is that it takes us into moral territory. Talking about guns is easy, talking about souls is not. If guns don’t kill people, then we have to ask the difficult question of what does kill people.

It’s a bigger question than just Adam Lanza pulling the trigger in a classroom full of children. It is a big question that encompasses the Nazi gas chambers and the Soviet gulags, the Rape of Nanking and September 11. It is a question as big as all of human history.

Pacifists once used to be able to address such questions, but they have become obsessed with the technology of violence, rather than the spiritual origin of violence. And the technology of violence is largely beside the point. Guns do not motivate people to kill. Nor do they represent that much of a quantum increase in death.

Some of history’s worst massacres happened long before firearms became useful for more than scaring off peasants. The heavily armed Americans of the 50s had lower per capita murder rates than medieval London. It isn’t the gun that makes the killer. It’s not the hand that kills, but the mind.

The gun-free society has little interest in individuals. Its technocratic philosopher-kings want big and comprehensive solutions. Their answer to gun violence is to feed a horror of guns. Their answer to obesity is to ban sodas. Their solutions invariably miss the point by treating people like objects and objects like people.

In the Middle Ages, rats were put on trial for eating crops. Today we put guns on trial for killing people. The left has tried to reduce people to economics, to class and then race, gender and sexual orientation. It has done its best to reduce people to the sum of their parts and then to tinker with those parts and it has failed badly. The best testimony of its profound spiritual failure is that the worst pockets of gun violence are in urban areas that have been under the influence of their sociologists, urban planners, psychologists, social justice activists, community organizers and political rope-pullers for generations. And what have those areas brought forth except malaise, despair, blight and murder?

Banning guns will do as much for those areas as banning drugs did. It is not the shadow of the gun that has fallen over Chicago, but an occlusion of the spirit. Social services have had generations to save the city and they have failed because the technocracy can reach the body, but it cannot reach the soul.

The gun-control activists drew the wrong lesson from Newtown as they drew the wrong lessons from WWII and September 11. The lesson is not that weapons are bad, the lesson is that people in the grip of evil ideas are capable of unimaginable horrors regardless of the tools at their disposal. A single man can kill a classroom full of children with a gun and a few men can kill thousands with a few box cutters. It isn’t the tool that matters. It’s the man.

Unwishing the gun brings us back to the sword. Unwishing the sword brings us back to the spear. Unwishing the spear brings us back to the stone club. And what then? When every weapon that ever existed or will exist is undone, all that remains is the deadliest weapon of all. The mind of man.

The gun, the sword, the spear and the club took countless lives and saved countless lives. Civilization has always balanced on a future made possible by little boys playing cops and robbers and playing with little green army men. They can either grow up to be the protectors of the future or the frightened men who will stand aside and do nothing when they hear the screams begin to come because they have been told that all violence is evil.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/daniel-greenfield/the-shadow-of-the-gun/2013/03/17/

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