A7News: Arab Births Down – Jewish Births Up: No Demographic Threat

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Arab Births Down – Jewish Births Up: No Demographic Threat

Recent statistical studies confirm a drop in Arab population and birthrates, and an increase in Jewish population and birthrates.

  1. Arab Births Down – Jewish Births Up: No Demographic Threat
  2. Fatah-Hamas Tension: PA Mourns, Hamas Arrests Fatah Members
  3. Photo Feature: The Conflicted Kabbalistic City of Peki’in
  4. Gaza Militia War Heats Up Again
  5. Most Terrorists In Amnesty Agreement Are Back To Terrorism
  6. Rallies in Chicago, Nashville for an Undivided Jerusalem
  7. Former IDF Galilee Formation Commander Opens Old Wounds
  8. Catholic Bishops’ Crucifixes Not Welcome at the Wall

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1. Arab Births Down – Jewish Births Up: No Demographic Threat

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

Recent statistics presented by the Israeli
A World Bank study revealed a dramatic gap between the PA’s official predictions of population growth and the actual numbers of children.
Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) and the World Bank confirm the assessment of the American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) that the demographic balance in the Land of Israel is not a threat to the Jewish majority at all; in fact, predictions of Arab population growth in the Palestinian Authority have been grossly overstated, with Jewish birthrates in pre-1967 Israel consistently increasing and Arab birthrates consistently dropping.

‘Demography is a Strategic Asset’
In an article by AIDRG lead researcher Yoram Ettinger, in conjunction with Bennett Zimmerman, Michael Wise and Roberta Seid, the team present what they consider to be the “bottom line” of their statistical study:

“Israel’s demographic establishment has been dramatically wrong: Demography constitutes a strategic asset, not a liability.”

“The claim that Jews are doomed to become a minority, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, is in direct contradiction of demographic reality. Such a claim has yielded demographic fatalism, which has dominated Israel’s academic, media, political and security sectors. It has become a basis for critical national security decisions. However, demographic fatalism is a suicidal prescription – especially in the Middle East – and it has been nurtured by grossly erroneous assumptions. Grossly erroneous assumptions produce grossly erroneous policies.

“There is a demographic problem, but it is not lethal. Moreover, the demographic momentum is Jewish and not Arab…. Anyone contending that there is a demographic machete at the throat of the Jewish State is either drastically mistaken or outrageously misleading!”

The AIDRG article appeared in the October edition of Mabat, a publication of Israel’s Intelligence Center.

Inside Pre-1967 Israel
In demographic information made public this month by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS), the decline in Arab fertility rates within the 1967 borders (the Green Line) has been shown to exceed the ICBS’s own predictions by 20 years. Similarly, the
“Contending that there is a demographic machete at the throat of the Jewish State is either drastically mistaken or outrageously misleading!”
latest ICBS statistics show a Jewish fertility rate that is higher than the ICBS’s most generous forecasts.

According to the ICBS study, released on November 5, the Jewish birthrate has increased in pre-1967 Israel from 2.6 to 2.8 during the period from 1996 to 2006. During the same period, Muslim Arabs have seen a drop in birthrates from 4.7 to 4.0, with the Druze population’s fertility rates dropping slightly further (from 3.4 to 2.6) and Christian Arabs showing a lower rate of decline (from 2.7 to 2.2).

According to Ettinger and the AIDRG, “Since 1948, the ICBS has tended to under-project Jewish fertility, over-project Arab fertility, ignore the scope of Arab emigration and minimize the scope of potential Jewish Aliya (immigration). It has also overlooked the fact that Jewish demography has not been normative, and certainly not Western in nature. Moreover, the ICBS ignored the fact that Jews and Arabs have reacted differently to unusual economic and military developments.”

Judea, Samaria and Gaza
A World Bank study revealed a dramatic gap between the PA’s official predictions of population growth and the actual numbers of children registered for first grade. According to the World Bank researchers, the discrepancy is due to a drop in Arab birthrates and an increase in Arab emigration from Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Looking at the education system in the Palestinian Authority, the study showed that there had been an 8 percent drop as of September 2006 in the number of children registered for school through fifth grade. This was in sharp opposition to the PA’s official forecast of a 24% increase in registered students by September 2006.

The statistical gap between PA predictions and demographic reality on the ground demonstrated by the World Bank would seem to confirm the AIDRG claim that the PA Central Bureau of Statistics is presenting highly significant inaccuracies. In the Mabat article, Yoram Ettinger noted:

“The projections published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) have been refuted, annually, by the Palestinian ministries of health and education and election commission, as well as by the European observers at the Rafiah international passage, Jordan’s Central Bureau of Statistics and Israel’s Border Police (which acts similarly to the INS in the USA).”

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2. Fatah-Hamas Tension: PA Mourns, Hamas Arrests Fatah Members

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

PA Chairman and Fatah chief Abbas declared Tuesday a day of mourning in the PA-controlled areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza after violent clashes between Fatah and Hamas on Monday claimed at least six lives and left hundreds injured.

Meanwhile, the Hamas leadership said that they may be willing to share control in Gaza with Fatah; however, dozens of Fatah members have been rounded up by the Hamas militia.

In a recent
…people chanting that their Hamas rulers were on the payroll of Iran.
poll, PA Arabs said they still see PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as the most trustworthy of their current and potential leaders.

According to reports from Gaza City, where the violence took place, Hamas men opened fire on a crowd of Fatah supporters during a rally in memory of the late PLO terrorist leader Yasser Arafat. The memorial gathering had also reportedly morphed into a protest against the rule of Hamas in Gaza, with people chanting that their Hamas rulers were on the payroll of Iran. Hamas sources charged the protesters with attacking the militiamen assigned to guard the event.

Since Monday, Hamas has arrested scores of Fatah members in Gaza, claiming that the detainees were responsible for the violence at the memorial rally. Fatah claims that about 400 of its members have been rounded up by the Hamas militia, while official Hamas spokesmen said that less than 100 were arrested.

Speaking on a Hamas-controlled television station in the wake of the Gaza shootings on Monday, the PA’s Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that he may be prepared to turn over security in Gaza to the rival Fatah faction. His comments followed pleas by Abbas for Hamas to relinquish its authority in Gaza. Hamas won elections in the PA in January, 2006 and took complete control over Gaza in a violent coup in June of this year.

Referring to Abbas, Haniyeh said, “We have been seriously considering all Palestinian, Arab and even European initiatives to resume national dialogue, yet the Ramallah-based leadership has always refused all these initiatives.”

In its lead editorial on Tuesday entitled “Black Mark on Hamas,” Saudi Arabia’s English-language Arab News newspaper concluded that Hamas has lost public support to the rival Fatah organization. “A showdown in Gaza is [in] the cards. Indeed it is a certainty. Even if Haniyeh were to go quietly, the Hamas gunmen will not,” the daily’s editors predicted.

A poll carried out by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center in August, 2007, and published this month, seems to back up the Arab News editorial analysis that most PA Arabs would lend their support to Fatah’s Abbas over his Hamas rival. According to the poll, the man seen by PA Arabs as the third most trustworthy potential PA leader is also a Fatah terrorist, the jailed Marwan Barghouti.
29.2 percent of PA Arabs said they do not trust anyone among potential PA leaders.

Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in an Israeli prison for terrorist crimes, is trusted by 9.6 percent of PA residents. Ahead of Barghouti is Hamas leader Haniyeh, with 16.2 percent, and PA Chairman Abbas was deemed the most trustworthy leader, winning 18.3 percent of the respondents’ votes. An additional 29.2 percent of PA Arabs said they do not trust anyone among potential PA leaders.

Similarly, the faction deemed most trustworthy by PA Arabs was Fatah, with 34.4 percent of respondent support, while Hamas came in second with 21.6 percent. Again, slightly over 29 percent of respondents said that they trust none of the factions operating in the PA today.

The poll also revealed that if elections were held today, Abbas would win 20.6 percent of the vote, while Haniyeh would garner 18.8 percent and Barghouti, 16.6 percent.

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3. Photo Feature: The Conflicted Kabbalistic City of Peki’in

by Ezra HaLevi

The ancient Jewish town of Peki’in rose to national consciousness due to rioting last week. The layered story of the town is much deeper.

Peki’in made headlines after a stormy night of clashes between Druze youth and police who had come to arrest five local vandals. The community members saw the incident as a case of police barging in and using excessive force against an organized committee that destroys cell phone antennas in the interest of protecting local residents from cancer. Other residents blame Israel for Westernizing their children and blame Arab parties for radicalizing them.

Still, none of that explains how in the course of the night of October 30, 2007, four of the eight Jewish homes in the sleepy town were burned, with their residents’ possessions still inside.

View from the road above Peki’in.
A vine grows down from a rooftop garden in Peki’in.
A view of the synagogue from above.
Rooftop grapevines are a regular part of Peki’in life.

The Old Jewish Priests of Peki’in
Ilan Hai-David Tuma-Shechter wears a baseball cap. You wouldn’t know he was Jewish if you saw him in the Peki’in marketplace. He knows everyone by name, exchanging blessings with the older residents. The young people mumble and avert their eyes. Some look at him suspiciously.

Ilan Hai-David Tuma-Shechter at home.

Tuma-Shechter is one of the last three members of three Kohain (priestly) families (Tuma, Ouda and Zenati) who have lived in Peki’in for 2,000 years. “We say 2,000 years, but it is likely that our families lived here even before the destruction of the Holy Temple,” he says, “making our way to Jerusalem for our two-week ‘[Temple] reserve duty’ in Jerusalem and returning afterward.”

“Peki’in is like no other place in the world,” he says while standing next to the cave where Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai hid from Roman persecution and is said to have composed the central work of Jewish mysticism, the Zohar. Citing Kabbalistic works, Tuma-Shechter says Peki’in is an acronym for “Pe’er Kedusha Yesod Anava Yichus Netzach” (roughly translated: “The majesty of holiness is rooted in humility – and is an everlasting lineage”).

Candles at the entrance to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s cave.
Candles inside Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s cave.

Tuma-Shechter’s grandfather, Chacham Yosef Avraham Tuma HaKohen was a leader of the Jewish community. He saw the Jews of Peki’in banished from their homes in 1938 by Muslim rioters, after which they lived in what they refer to as the “Hadera exile.” A few years later they began to return to Peki’in to work their land, but remained in Hadera. Chacham Yosef lived until 107, two years after he and his grandson returned to the village for the first Pesach (Passover) back in Peki’in in 1963.

The return was accompanied by the refurbishing of the ancient synagogue, as well as financial assistance facilitated by President Yitzchak Ben-Tzvi, who was very interested in various indigenous and Diaspora Jewish communities. “Ben Tzvi came and was very impressed when he saw us really working the land,” Tuma-Shechter recalls. “He wanted to return us to our property and to our synagogue. The synagogue, which dates from 1873, is built on the site of a study hall built by R’ Joshua Ben-Hanania in 200 CE. The synagogue features stone tablets reputed to be from the Holy Temple. Today both Ben-Tzvi and the Peki’in synagogue appear on the 100-shekel bill.

It was then, on the first Passover back in Peki’in, that Tuma-Shechter promised his grandfather that he would one day return to make the ancient city his home. After he was evicted from his home in Sinai as part of Menachem Begin’s treaty with Egypt, Tuma-Shechter made good on the promise.

Chacham Yosef in Peki’in’s synagogue on the second day of Pesach in 1963.

Returning to the Peki’in synagogue in 1963.
Olive wood and a photo of his father at Tuma-Shechter’s home.

Since the Return
Following the Jewish return to the town, anti-Jewish attacks in Peki’in were rare, all residents point out. The coexistence of Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze was much-spoken about, although the Muslim and Jewish communities in Peki’in are miniscule. “We attribute it to the spring that runs through the center of town, which everyone relies on. It was blessed by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and brings peace between the residents,” Tuma-Shechter says.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s Spring, in the town’s central square.
The Priestly Heritage Center of Peki’in.
An olive-wood mezuza on the lintel of the synagogue.

The tiny Jewish community has not lived without hardship, though. Life in Peki’in sometimes seems similar life in the exile. “Cars are stolen, swastikas painted, property vandalized and car windows smashed, but never any bloodshed or physical harm,” Tuma-Shechter notes in a hushed tone. “My grandfather always told me I would need a ‘lev lavan’ (literally a white heart – but Tuma-Shechter explains that it means the ability to suffer abuse with humility and not be drawn into conflict) to live and remain in Peki’in.” He says that attempts to complain to the police have resulted in threats by the authorities to arrest him. “They accused me of vandalizing my own property. I’ve sat there in the police station and cried like a child, asking ‘How can you say that?'”

Neighbors
Tuma-Shechter is eager to introduce his friend and neighbor Salah Bakri. “When my grandparents returned from Hadera, Salah’s grandfather heard that residents were planning on killing them,” Tuma-Shechter says. “He asked them to sleep in his house. We are alive because of one another and we are obligated to tell of it.”

Bakri is ashen-faced when speaking about the riots. “I was really worried the other night that the youth would injure my neighbor,” he says. “The youth who took part in this are not religious.”

Bakri at his olive press

The mustached owner of an old community olive-press, Bakri has three sons in the IDF. The oldest is on reserve duty, carrying out operations in Ramallah. Another son serves in the police. “He was not sent here that night, but he came home to make sure everyone was alright.”

The Druze
Salah Kheir owns the Peki’in Hotel, on the town’s main road high above the rest of the town and just a short walk from the cave of Rabbi Shimon. He was the town’s youngest mayor, elected at the age of 23 in 1978 and re-elected repeatedly until 1993. Under his watch, the village developed into the tourism jewel it is today, with Kheir proudly describing every aspect of Peki’in.

Salah Kheir at his office.

He is also eager to blame the police, the media and “extremists, Druze and Jews” for the riots and any unrest that has befallen his peaceful hometown.

“Any problems we have were taught to us by the Jews,” he says with an apologetic smile. “There is a general decline in Israeli society. That is all we are seeing – nothing more complicated than that. There are shooting and killings at nightclubs in Tel Aviv and there are these youths here.”

And who are the youths who took part in the riots that left 16 police wounded and four Jewish homes burned to the ground? “They come back from the army, they are no longer interested in the Druze religion and they get involved in Balad and other Arab political parties and are radicalized,” he says. “The fact that there is inequality is a problem that must be fixed but it is irrelevant to what happened here. In the IDF we are completely equal – but afterwards it is a different story.”

A neighborhood of Peki’in for discharged IDF soldiers who received land from the government.

Pressed to cite examples of inequality, Kheir says places like Peki’in do not receive the kind of municipal budget allocations that Jewish cities receive, and lamented that Druze are underrepresented in state companies like the Israel Electric Company and Bezek, Israel’s semi-private phone company.

He concedes that the examples point to the nature of electoral politics and life as a 2% minority with decentralized representation in several political parties. He also concedes that the problem is more related to the Israeli culture of ‘protectzia’ and corruption than it is to racism. The complaints are quite similar to those voiced by new immigrants. “Minister Avigdor Lieberman is actually one of the only people in the government that really understands the problem,” he said. “When we talk about discrimination, I think we are often misunderstood. We know the nation loves us. Even the politicians also love us when they come to visit. But translating that into action is the problem.”

Kheir reflects for a moment and chooses to bring up a shameful episode in Israel’s recent history to illustrate the root of how he says the Israeli Druze feel wrongs. “The greatest symptom of the problem was the treatment of the Southern Lebanese Army (SLA). They were also considered ‘blood brothers’ until one day we left Lebanon and they were thrown to the dogs.”

The SLA fought side by side with the IDF in southern Lebanon until Israel withdrew from the region in 2000, under then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s hasty unilateral withdrawal. The fighters who did not want to face imprisonment or death had but a few hours to round up their families and flee to Israel, where they have been living in northern towns ever since. Many have complained of neglect and lack of benefits, and some have even chosen to return to Lebanon to face trials and retribution at the hands of Hizbullah terrorists rather than remain in Israel.

A Dutch reporter who joined the conversation midway asked Kheir: “Is there a lot of anger at the land expropriations by the government?”

Kheir: “That was decades ago,” he says with a wave of his hand. “It may still be a sore topic but it is not an issue today.”

Hai-David Tuma was annoyed with the suggestion: “You should know that the Jews here also had their land expropriated, so it is not a Druze-Jewish issue.”

The Antenna Conflict
“Orange placed an antenna in Peki’in years ago,” Kheir recalls. “The Antenna Committee broke it and burned it. It is no secret. There are posters and flyers everywhere warning residents that if they erect an antenna, the antenna and the room below it will be destroyed and burned. This is what happened and the police did not do anything,” he said.

“But when it is a Jew, suddenly the police enter the village like they are going into Gaza,” Kheir lamented. “It was clear to us that people had antennas concealed in rooms, so the committee purchased a detector and found there was one hidden in a chicken coop in New Peki’in, [a Jewish agricultural moshav located three kilometers away].”

The antenna issue is not limited to Peki’in, residents point out. Cellular antennas have been destroyed by local residents in the Jewish towns of Ra’anana and Givatayim as well. “I am not a professor or a doctor, but it is impossible to ignore [the fact] that the incidences of cancer have skyrocketed since the erection of cell phone antennae in the region,” Kheir says.

All the residents of Peki’in also use cellular phones extensively, however, and are glad there is reception throughout the village. “What can I tell you?” Kheir says sheepishly, when asked whether similar correlations with cancer could be drawn with the devices themselves. “We can’t live without cell phones so the antennae become the targets.”

Residents are quick to embellish rumors and word spreads from family to family very quickly. “The man with the antenna said, ‘I want to give them all cancer,'” Bakri said with certainty.

When “delegates” of the Antenna Committee decided to burn down the antenna in New Peki’in, using IDF-issued grenades and firebombs, a single police cruiser showed up.

The youths had a yelling match with the police (and destroyed the cruiser, according to some reports). No arrests were made.

The police surrounded the village in the middle of the night. Local youths knew they were coming and were marching through the streets with metal bars. Locals, aside from Kheir –none willing to have their names published – admit that shots were fired in the air prior to the police’s entry to the town.

Media Believed Police Over Us
“The media reported, without question, that we kidnapped a female officer and held her hostage – really making us out to be terrorists,” Kheir complained. “The police abandoned a female soldier in the middle of a tense situation and tried to focus and embellish this story in order to cover up their own misdeeds – to shift the focus.”

Police and the soldier herself described the scene differently. They said she was dragged on the ground and stabbed several times – saved only by her flak jacket and suffering from a stab wound on her thigh. Another officer was wounded in the head by a barrage of blocks and stones being thrown from the rooftops as he tried to rescue her, they say.

“What do you expect when someone comes into your village with guns,” Kheir says, insisting that once the mob realized she was a woman she was treated with the utmost care.

“We kept her weapon with her. She said “take my gun, just don’t hurt me.’ We purposely brought her to where the whole community was gathered – to the prayer room. The young people said they should release the people who were arrested for just walking out of their homes before we release her.”

The police admitted releasing six of those arrested in return for the female officer.

Though residents unanimously blame the riots at least partially on the police, a little-reported aspect of the incident and its aftermath is that the police hospitalized in the clashes were also almost all Druze.

Asked if the whole affair will lead to a decline in Druze enlistment in the police or Yassam riot squad, Kheir says: “What, destroy 60 years because of one macho-ist idiot who gave the order to storm into the village? No way.”

The New Jews
Five new families of young Jews joined the three priestly families in recent years, largely sticking to themselves and living in the immediate area surrounding the synagogue. The families were not as connected with local life as the elder Jews, but sought to bring Jewish life back to the ancient city.

Uriel Rosenbaum comes to Peki’in each day from Kfar Pines to help Zenati and perform Peki’in’s story with her for tourists.
The doors of the synagogue, refurbished by President Yitzchak Ben-Tzvi, have since fallen into disrepair.
Rosenbaum in the main room of Zenati’s ancestral home, in which the dramatic representation of Peki’in life is performed.

Local residents regarded them with suspicion. Druze police and IDF officers came back from service in the Disengagement and at various outpost evictions in Judea and Samaria with a newfound animosity for visibly National Religious Jews and rumors began, similar to those regarding the cellular antennas. “They would say that they were right-wing extremists,” recalls Tuma-Shechter. “I would tell them, first of all they are not, and second of all, what do right-wingers have against Druze?”

The Aftermath
Four out of five homes of the new Jewish families were burned during the riots. The families have yet to return to Peki’in. News reports stressed that the ancient synagogue was not attacked. That is not exactly true. Margalit Zenati, the elderly scion of the priestly Zenati family and keeper of the key to the synagogue reports that a grenade was hurled into the synagogue’s courtyard in the heat of the riots.

Inside a Jewish home burned by Druze rioters.
The exterior of one of the Jewish homes torched by Druze rioters.

Everyone expresses their hopes that co-existence will return to Peki’in. Peace has physically returned to the town, but the streets are empty of tourists, the town’s main economic staple. “It may take two, five, even ten years to undo the damage, but we will still be here,” says Kheir.

Margalit Zenati says she is not going anywhere either. “Jews are always welcome in Peki’in and nobody should be afraid to come visit,” she said.

Margalit Zenati stands at the entrance to the synagogue.
Zenati and Rosenbaum performing
A stone from the Second Holy Temple, brought to Peki’in following the destruction.
The interior of Peki’in’s synagogue.
A lulav, etrog and shofar are seen around a menora in this stone said to be from the Second Temple. The oil for the Menora came from Peki’in.

(Photos: Josh Shamsi, Arutz-7 Photojournalist)

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4. Gaza Militia War Heats Up Again

by Hana Levi Julian

A massive memorial rally in Gaza to mark the third anniversary of the death of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chief terrorist Yasser Arafat became a killing field Monday when Hamas forces opened fire on tens of thousands of Fatah participants.

At least six people were killed and more than 100 others were wounded, 10 seriously, according to Palestinian Authority sources who said the rally, which was also meant to flaunt the continued presence of Fatah loyalists in the area, was one of the largest in Gaza history.

Each terrorist group accused the other of starting the melee and killing people who gathered in downtown Gaza City.

Fatah loyalists said Hamas forces, who were stationed on rooftops around the city fired at the crowd. Hamas officials said their forces were responding to Fatah members hurling rocks at the security buildings.

Demonstrators were seen racing for cover, while smoke reportedly rose into the sky around the edges of the rally area.

The Arabic Al Jazeera news network reported that the number of people attending the rally “surpassed all expectations,” prompting Hamas to send a large force to supervise the event.

At least 100,000 Gaza residents who wore trademark back and white kefiyehs (headscarves) chanted anti-Hamas slogans while brandishing yellow Fatah flags and waving large photos of the bloodthirsty terrorist whose reign led to the birth of the PA.

It was a provocative move in Hamas-controlled Gaza, where the ruling terrorist faction had routed rival Fatah loyalists in a bloody coup six months ago.

Speakers at the rally pointed to the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators as proof that Gaza residents still preferred Fatah rule over Hamas and slammed the rival terrorist group’s takeover of the region.

PA Chairman and Fatah head Mahmoud Abbas’s authority has since been confined to PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria despite ceaseless efforts by Israel, the U.S. and other Western nations to help prop up his government.

The clash comes on the eve of the U.S.-sponsored Middle East summit in which Israel is expected by leaders of neighboring Arab countries as well as the U.S. and PA to come ready to make more concession on security measures designed to ensure the safety of citizens in the Jewish State.

It is unclear how Monday’s clash, which demonstrated anew the lack of stability in the PA as well as the tenuous control of either group over outbreaks of violence within its territory, will affect the planned Annapolis summit.

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5. Most Terrorists In Amnesty Agreement Are Back To Terrorism

by Hillel Fendel

While most terrorists have not changed their ways, the Shabak (General Security Service) says the “amnesty arrangement” made with 178 terrorists who agreed to abandon terror has been partially successful.

Four months after the “wanted terrorists agreement” went into effect, it is clear that there has been a change for the better, the Shabak says. The GSS emphasizes, however, that the Palestinian Authority has been ineffectual in carrying out its part.

Although more than half the terrorists in the deal are reported to have not cooperated, the Shabak prefers to see the positive aspects.

“The agreement has created a positive dynamic that has had a positive influence on the Palestinian street,” the Shabak reports, “and it is apparent that some of the activists are, in fact, abandoning the path of terror. At the same time, the Shabak will continue to demand that activists who don’t fulfill 100% of the obligations in the agreement will not be included in the second stage of the agreement.”

Amnesty and Removal From the Wanted List
According to the agreement, 178 wanted Fatah terrorists were to be granted amnesty in exchange for their promise to stop terrorism. The first stage involves a trial period of three months during which they are not to be arrested, unless Israel receives information that they are planning terrorism. If they do not engage in terrorism during the three months, they will be officially removed from the “wanted” list. The agreement did not call for an official and irreversible pardon, however, enabling their full prosecution if ever they return to terrorism.

The few terrorists who did hand in their weapons and who have fulfilled all their obligations will be advanced to the second stage of the agreement, the Shabak stated, and will no longer be considered wanted. The Shabak did not specify how many terrorists have fulfilled all the requirements.

PA is Too Weak
The terrorists were also to have handed in their weapons, but the Palestinian Authority has proven too weak to enforce that aspect of the agreement. The Shabak appears pleased with the results of the agreement, “despite the fact that the enforcement level by the PA during this period has been extremely limited, and the collection of weapons from the terrorists in question did not occur at all [emphasis added – ed.].”

Haaretz reports that some terrorists have simply grown tired of being wanted. One was quoted as saying that he can barely get a haircut, because the barbers are afraid that Israeli commandos might suddenly arrive and arrest him. Many say they are having trouble getting married or living normal lives.

War Against Terror Continues
Despite the agreement’s partial success, the army continues its day-to-day against terrorists throughout Judea and Samaria. It was reported this morning (Tuesday), for instance, that an IDF force had arrested a wanted Fatah Tanzim terrorists in Jericho, who had been involved in shooting attacks against IDF forces in the area. Seven other terrorists were arrested overnight, 24 the night before, and nine on Thursday night.

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6. Rallies in Chicago, Nashville for an Undivided Jerusalem

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

Sunday saw two rallies in America in favor of an undivided Jerusalem. Demonstrators made their feelings known to the 3,000 attendees at the annual United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Nashville, while Chicago’s famed Water Tower on Michigan Avenue was the scene of a parallel rally of support.
Veteran Israeli activist Tsafrir Ronen addressed the crowd.

A United Jerusalem… Outside Opryland
Approximately 50 people rallied outside the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday in order to express their opposition to any suggestion that Israel’s capital be shared with the Palestinian Authority as part of a reportedly brewing diplomatic agreement. Flying numerous American and Israeli flags, Jewish and non-Jewish demonstrators held signs that said, “Give Up Olmert – Not Jerusalem”, “Defend Jerusalem” and “Keep Jerusalem United”.

The rally was planned to coincide with the opening of the UJC’s conference and organizers reported that “even folks on shuttle buses to the G.A. were waving and applauding our being out there.”

Addressing the crowd, Bob Kunst, President of Shalom International, said, “We could be in such a massive crisis, especially with nuclear arms, if we don’t nip it in the bud now.” Shalom International is a constituent organization of the Coalition to Defend Jerusalem, which is attempting to get the UJC to adopt a resolution to keep Jerusalem united.

Veteran Israeli activist Tsafrir Ronen addressed the crowd, as did Laurie Cardona-Moore, President of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, Inc. Ronen was also slated to address the General Assembly, while Proclaiming Justice has a booth at the UJC convention.

In honor of the US Veterans Day, rally participants remembered those who gave life, limb and service to stop the Nazis in World War II.

Kunst later said, “We fight today the same Nazis in this World War III, to finish what Hitler started. Failure to understand history dooms us all to repeat it. Remember, the lesson of the Holocaust: first the Jews, then everyone else.”

Recalling Zionist History in Chicago
In addition to the rally for an undivided Jerusalem held in Nashville, a hurriedly put together rally was held at Chicago’s famed Water Tower on Michigan Avenue on Sunday.

A sign at the Nov. rally for Jerusalem in Chicago

From the Chicago rally

Addressing the rally was Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz of Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation. He reminded those present that it was in Chicago that the first call for a modern Jewish state was made, in 1890 at a conference of Christians and Jews brought together by the well-known Evangelical William Blackstone. Looking into more recent past, Rabbi Lefkowitz noted that from 1948 to 1967, when Jerusalem was under Jordanian control, “not a voice was raised for a Palestinian people’s right to a state with its capital in Jerusalem.”

Crowds took part even though the Sunday rally in Chicago was organized at the last minute

“Today, in stark contrast [with the period of Arab rule], under Israeli control, Jerusalem is open to people of all religions to pray as they choose,” the rabbi said, calling on all passersby to preserve Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. He referred to the upcoming Annapolis conference on the Middle East as the “mad hatters tea party,” with weak and ineffectual leaders like Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas facing the fall of their respective governments.

Rabbi Lefkowitz in Chicago called for a halt to the “mad hatter’s tea party” in Annapolis

Rabbi Lefkowitz concluded by quoting from a letter sent by the Chicago Rabbinical Council, the Orthodox Rabbinate of Chicago, to Prime Minster Olmert. The letter concludes, “We at the Chicago Rabbinical Council insist you remain faithful to the trust and prayers of all Jews at the Passover Seder, ‘L’shana haba’a b’Yerushalayim habnuya’ (next year in the reestablished Jerusalem) – all of Jerusalem.”

Upcoming Events
Jerusalem Coalition members and supporters of a united Israeli Jerusalem are planning a series of rallies in various parts of America to coincide with the Middle East conference scheduled for later this month in Annapolis, Maryland.

The next large protest against dividing Jerusalem is to take place in Washington DC,
In Annapolis itself… demonstrators will gather.
across from the White House, in Lafayette Park on November 25, 2007. Organizers are planning to march from the White House to the US Holocaust Museum, “to make the connections that giving away land for ‘peace’ resulted in seven million Jewish deaths and 60 million dead in World War II, with the Islamic Nazis helping the German Nazis.”

In Annapolis itself, at Gate 1 of the Naval Academy slated to host the US-sponsored multinational forum, demonstrators will gather on November 27. As the date for the Annapolis conference is not finalized yet, organizers said that protests could be called for the 26th of the month, as well.

In addition, supporters of Jerusalem in Miami, Florida are to rally on November 25, and in Nashville and Chicago again on the 26th or 27th of the month.

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7. Former IDF Galilee Formation Commander Opens Old Wounds

by Hillel Fendel

Former IDF Galilee Formation Commander Gal Hirsch, 42, spoke publicly about the Second Lebanon War for the first time in a year on Sunday night – and ripped sharply into his former superiors.

“The senior military echelons hid behind and deserted the fighters during the war,” said Hirsch, who quit a promising career and resigned from the IDF last year following sharp criticism of his performance. He added that his superiors refused to accept responsibility and left lower-level commanders on their own.

“I pronounce that deplorable political norms have penetrated into parts of the army, which is afflicted by dangerous politicization that is likely to undermine its very foundations,” the ex-Brig.-Gen. said.

The army’s mediocre performance during the war in Lebanon in the summer of 2006 led to strong public criticism and several investigations, which in turn led to the resignations of Defense Minister Amir Peretz, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, and a few top commanders, including Hirsch. It was widely felt that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, too, would be forced to resign, but that has not yet happened.

The primary failure during the war belonged to the senior military command, according to Hirsch, “which did not trust existing plans and, when the situation became too complex, forgot all the core values of camaraderie and mutual support upon which the IDF has based itself since its inception.”

“As the war proceeded and then came to an end,” Hirsch lamented, “I learned just how far the slander had penetrated, just how distorted was the information delivered to the public, just how alone we commanders were, and, personally, just how alone I was in those days.”

“The war was not investigated properly,” Hirsch charged, “and if another war occurs, it could end up looking just like this past one. The kidnapping, too, was not investigated properly; it was tendentious, distorted, and lacking; it sought whom to blame, and did not deal with the complicated situation that existed then on the northern border.”

The Kidnapping
On July 12, 2006, two reserve soldiers – Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev – were taken prisoner when Hizbullah terrorists attacked their vehicle at an IDF outpost near Moshav Zar’it on the Israeli-Lebanese border. Four other soldiers were killed in the attack, and four others were killed shortly afterwards when they took off in pursuit of the kidnapped soldiers and their tank was blown up by a Hizbullah-placed bomb. Not a sign of life has been had from the hostage soldiers since their abduction, and it is widely – though not publicly – felt that at least one of them may be dead.

The Investigations
A military investigative commission headed by Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Doron Almog sharply criticized Hirsch for the kidnapping, saying that the lessons learned from Hizbullah’s kidnapping of three soldiers in 2000 had not been learned. The Almog report recommended that Hirsch be relieved of his position and not be promoted further in the IDF; Hirsch did not wait and offered his resignation immediately.

Though it noted that several kidnapping attempts were thwarted between 2000 and 2006, the commission blamed Hirsch for failing to verify that his directives were being carried out; the troops did not practice a kidnapping scenario beforehand. The report stated that the patrols along the border set out “as if going on a day trip” instead of patrolling a particularly dangerous border zone. Hirsch should have placed his troops on heightened alert automatically after IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped on the Gaza border two weeks earlier, the report found.

Another IDF investigation – not of the kidnapping, but of the war that followed – found fault in the way Hirsch and other commanders functioned during the war.

Responses
Former IDF Intelligence Chief Gen. (ret.) Uri Saguy, asked by Voice of Israel Radio to respond to Hirsch’s remarks, said he did not wish to interpret or comment. When pressed, he said only that everyone should look at his own actions, and that now was not the time for such sweeping statements. “From what I understand, I know the army is training very energetically, and is working hard to learn the lessons of the past war.”

Gen. Almog said in response that he regretted that Hirsch had chosen to “put himself in the center, before the State, before the army, and even before the bereaved families and the wounded.”

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8. Catholic Bishops’ Crucifixes Not Welcome at the Wall

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz

Fourteen Austrian Catholic bishops visiting Jerusalem last week were barred from approaching the Old City’s Western Wall (the Kotel) after refusing to remove crucifixes they were wearing as part of their formal attire. Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, responsible
The group subsequently canceled a planned meeting with Rabbi Rabinovitch.
for the Western Wall and other Jewish holy sites, explained to the bishops that they were welcome to pray at the Kotel, but had to remove their crosses in order not to offend the sensitivities of Jews there.

The bishops, including the Archbishop of Vienna, opted to remain outside the barrier separating the prayer area from the rest of the Western Wall Plaza rather than remove their crosses. The group subsequently canceled a planned meeting with Rabbi Rabinovitch that was to take place in his Jerusalem office. Austrian officials said that the ban on crosses at the Wall was not made known to the Catholic delegation ahead of their arrival for the Austrian Bishops Conference, which was held in Israel for the first time last week.

Speaking with the Israeli Maariv newspaper, Rabbi Rabinovitch said, “Appearing like that at the Wall and to a meeting with me is insulting and provocative.” Rabinovitch claimed that previous Catholic delegations, including that of Pope John Paul II in 2000, refrained from displaying the cross while at the Kotel. While official government publications describing appropriate dress and conduct for the Western Wall area do not include any mention of a ban on crucifixes, Christian pilgrimage tour leaders have in the past suggested that those wearing crosses place them inside their shirts to avoid unnecessary confrontation.

The Kotel is an ancient retaining wall of the Temple Mount compound, where the First and Second Temples stood. The Western Wall is the only remnant of the Second Temple still in use after the Roman legions conquered, destroyed and plowed under the holy site in 70 CE.

After viewing the Kotel, the Austrian bishops visited Israel’s main Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, also in Jerusalem. At the museum, the Viennese Archbishop said that his group acceded to the request not to approach the Wall wearing their crosses “out of respect for the religious sensitivities of the Jews.”

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Tuesday, Nov. 13 ’07
3 Kislev 5768

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