Shana Tova Umetuka – 5783

Shana Tova Umetuka

Shana Tova Umetuka
שנה טובה ומתוקה

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins tomorrow night (Sunday night), and lasts for 2 days, until sundown on Tuesday night. The Jewish year follows the lunar calendar, and the number counts the number of years since Creation. This year we will mark the beginning of 5783.

Last year I bewailed the still-prevailing limitations of corona, despite the situation being so much better than the previous year when we could only attend outdoor minyanim because of the pandemic.

This year thank G-d we are pretty much back to normal despite once again being warned of yet another wave (is anyone counting what number?). At least we can now keep the air-conditioning on and the windows closed, and we’ll be able to enjoy the synagogue services in comfort.

To quote from previous Rosh Hashana posts, Rosh Hashana is not marked by great parties and merry-making for the Jewish New Year is also known as the Day of Judgement, the day when all humans are held accountable before Heaven for their good deeds and bad, and their fate for the coming year is decided. A good part of the two days of the festival is spent in emotional and uplifting prayers in the synagogue where we acclaim G-d as the King of Israel and as King of the whole universe, and where we ask Him to write us in the Book of Life, which remains open until Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) in 10 days time, giving us time to repent and atone for our sins.

The holiday is marked with the blowing of the Shofar (the ram’s horn), which is meant to literally sound an alarm to wake us up from our bad ways and return us to the righteous path.

Here’s a short clip to give you an idea of what the Shofar sounds like. In the synagogue it will be sounded altogether 100 times in two sets of 30 and 4 sets of 10.

We also eat sweet foods to symbolise our wish for a sweet New Year. A classic staple at the Rosh Hashana table is the apple, which is round, symbolising the cycle of the year, dipped in honey for a sweet new year.

Round Challah for Rosh Hashanah

Even our Challahs are baked in a round shape to symbolise the circle of life and the circle of the year. They are often extra-sweet and have raisins inside for added sweetness.On the second night of Rosh Hashana it is traditional to eat a fruit from the new season. The most popular fruit is the pomegranate, because of the beauty of its shape, because it is one of the 7 species of produce native to the Land of Israel, and because it is traditionally believed that it has 613 seeds, the same as the number of mitzvot (commandments) that a Jew is commanded to keep.

Pomegranates already on sale at the shuk, ready for Rosh Hashanah

It has become a tradition that the Israeli Bureau of Statistics issues its annual population update at Rosh Hashanah. As the year 5783 dawns, Israel’s population numbers close to 10 million!

Israel’s population stands at 9,593,000 on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and grew by 187,000 over the past year, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) annual pre-Rosh Hashanah report on Israel’s population shows.

The population had grown by 1.8% over the past 12 months.

The average birthrate stood at three children per woman.

The total population is comprised of 6.983 million Jews (74%), 1.998 million Arabs – including Muslims and Christians (21%), and 473,000 residents of other minorities and religions (5%).

According to CBS projections, Israel’s population will pass the 10 million mark in 2024, the 15 million mark at the end of 2048 and the 20 million mark at 2065.

Some 177,000 Israeli couples welcomed a new child into the world this year. About 53,000 Israelis passed away, some 4,400 of them from the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Jewish State this year welcomed 59,000 Olim (immigrants) to the Holy Land, a decade record, primarily the result of immigration from Ukraine and the surrounding countries and the result of Russia’s invasion of the country.

Another Rosh Hashanah-related item brings us the Unexpected Story behind the Shofar:

Especially before Rosh Hashana, which the Bible calls “Yom Teruah,” the day the shofar is sounded.

Rosh Hashana is considered a day of divine judgment. In the synagogue, 100 blasts of this natural trumpet punctuate the long Rosh Hashana liturgy as a wakeup call to repentance and a fanfare for the King of Kings.

The designated shofar-blower needs a kosher horn, meaning it has no cracks or holes and no added materials such as glue or paint.

It must have the right shape and mouthpiece for the individual shofar-blower to be able to fulfill every congregant’s obligation to hear a specific series of sounds — the long tekiah, three short shevarim and nine staccato teruah blasts, finished off by an extra-long tekiah gedola.

Ribak, 52, and Zvi Barsheshet, 67, are among very few craftsmen producing shofars in Israel. Their families have been turning animal horns into sacred musical instruments since the 14th century.

The 15-generation business has an extraordinary story.

A Polish-Moroccan partnership

Ribak’s great-uncle immigrated to what was then Palestine from Poland in 1927 and set up shop in Tel Aviv, later handing the business down to Ribak’s father.

A picture of Eli Ribak’s late father, Avraham, on the wall of Barsheshet & Ribak in Tel Aviv. Photo by Abigail Leichman

Barsheshet’s father emigrated from Morocco via France in 1947 aboard the Exodus ship that was seized by the British and the passengers diverted to Cyprus. After his release from internment, he established a shofar workshop in Haifa.

“My father and my partner’s father were competitors. Thirty years ago, they decided to work together,” Ribak tells ISRAEL21c.

Ribak initially took a different career path: He has a master’s degree in materials engineering from the Technion and worked at Motorola for 17 years.

“Nine years ago, when my father died, I quit high-tech and joined Zvi,” he says.

He shakes his head with a wry smile. “I don’t believe a normal person would go into this business. It’s very hard work.”

Read the whole thing for a fascinating explanation of how shofarot are sourced and created.

May Hashem hear our prayers and may we all merit to hear the blasts of the Shofar. May Hashem bring peace to Israel and to the rest of the world.

If I have offended anyone during this past year I ask forgiveness of them and sincerely apologize.

May Hashem grant us good health, peace, joy and prosperity, and may He inscribe us all in the Book of Life.

תכלה שנה וקללותיה, תחל שנה וברכותיה

Let the current year and its curses be over, let the new year and its blessings begin.

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a happy new year.

 

Posted in Israel news, Judaism | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

RIP Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022

On Thursday afternoon we heard the sad news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Despite the fact that I left England almost 45 years ago, I was surprised at how sad I felt at this news. I’m trying to understand my own emotions and I think it’s because the Queen was a symbol of unity and stability for the country and the world. She was one of the very good things about England and one of the few symbols that I missed.

Much has been said in Israel about the Queen never having visited Israel. As readers of this blog know, I have no tolerance for anti-Israel or anti-Jewish sentiment, yet despite the lack of an official Royal visit to Israel I do not believe for one minute that the Queen was anti-Israel. Indeed she knighted Shimon Peres, a rare honour for a non-British citizen, and welcomed each and every Israeli ambassador and visiting head of state to the Palace.

Over the last few years Prince Charles (now the King) visited Israel a couple of times, and in 2018 Prince William finally made the Royal visit that Israelis craved and which had been refused to the Queen.

The Queen’s relations with the Jewish community were warm and respectful, and these sentiments were returned in full by the Jewish community. She elevated two previous Chief Rabbis, Rabbi Lord Emmanuel Jakobovits z”l and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks z”l to the peerage, and kosher meals were always provided for her Jewish guests at official banquets and meals.

Queen Elizabeth will be very sadly missed by everyone who had any connection with Britain. She reigned for so long – 70 years – that she provided a link through the generations to our history. She will be remembered and honoured for her sacrifice – of normal family life, her sense of duty to her country and the Commonwealth, her integrity and her humanity.

May she rest in peace and may her memory be a blessing.

May G-d give King Charles III the same guidance that He gave Queen Elizabeth and may his reign be as successful, and as warm to the British Jewish community as his mother’s was.

 

Posted in International relations | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Let’s talk about the UNHRC and “Khaybar” of the Palestinians

UN – Useless Nations

As if on cue the United Human Rights Wrongs Council has issued yet another report condemning Israel – this time for “perpetuating the conflict with the Palestinians through the occupation“. Seriously.

A report released Tuesday by a United Nations Commission of Inquiry blamed Israel’s “persistent discrimination against Palestinians” for violence between the two sides.

“Forced displacement, threats of forced displacement, demolitions, settlement construction and expansion, settler violence, and the blockade of Gaza” were identified as “contributing factors to recurring cycles of violence” by the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel.

The 18-page report, released Tuesday, focuses on root causes of the conflict. The commission took two trips to research the report, one to Geneva and the other to Jordan.

A report released Tuesday by a United Nations Commission of Inquiry blamed Israel’s “persistent discrimination against Palestinians” for violence between the two sides.

It also blasted Israel for restrictions on Palestinian movement, and for settler violence. Israel destroys Palestinian water infrastructure, alleged the commission, and tries to silence critical voices in Palestinian civil society.

That’s rich when the only people silencing critical Palestinian voices are the Palestinian Authority itself under the corrupt leadership of Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Abbas.

It is gratifying to note that not only the Israeli Foreign Ministry condemned the report, as was to be expected, but the US too slammed the UNHRC for their one-sided biased report.

“Israel is the only country subject to a standing agenda item at the HRC and has received disproportionate focus at the HRC compared to human rights situations elsewhere in the world,” the State Department spokesman said, maintaining the criticism voiced by Trump and previous American administrations.

“While no country is above scrutiny, the existence of this COI in its current form is a continuation of a longstanding pattern of unfairly singling out Israel. We reengaged with and later re-joined the HRC in part to be in a better position to address its flaws, including this one, and we will continue to seek reforms.”

Anne Herzberg, the legal advisor of NGO Monitor harshly condemned the UNHRC:

Hillel Neuer of UN Watch is urging people to sign a petition to oust Navi Pillay from the UNHRC:

All this brings me to the second subject in my title. “Khaybar” is the battle cry of extremist Muslims who wish to destroy not just Israel, but all the Jews, in a similar way that Mohammed defeated the Jewish community of Khaybar in the 7th century. When Arabs shout “Khaybar ya Yahud”, they are not calling for peaceful relations!

Palestinian rejectionism – always missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity

In the British political blog Harry’s Place, one of the contributors, Paul M, wrote an excellent piece just recently on this subject: “What’s to become of the Palestinians? We need to talk about Khaybar.”. With Paul M’s permission, I reproduce highlights of the article here and urge you to also read it in full at the link:

The Palestinians have a problem.

“You’re kidding! For this we need another blog post?”


No, one of their oldest, we just haven’t talked about it. Which is strange because it’s not just old, it’s also their biggest, most fundamental problem and by “we” I mean everyone, not just Harry’s Place. The problem is hate and when I say we haven’t talked about it, I mean we haven’t talked enough, or perhaps at all, about its consequences.

For reasons of history and choice the Palestinians have adopted a strategy of grievance, hate, refusal and rejection against Israel. That’s not a statement about every individual Palestinian any more than “Russia is xenophobic” is an indictment of every Russian. It’s a true statement, though, about Palestinian society and it’s well documented. Is there hate on the Israeli side too? Certainly, and easy to find, but it’s not state policy or all-pervasive.

The ADL’s widely-reported 2014 global survey found a 93% prevalence of antisemitism in the West Bank & Gaza.The Palestinian Authority’s Pay to Slay policy is well known. The more you kill, the more you win.

In education, organisations such as the Georg Eckert Institute and IMPACT have been describing the situation for years. While not slow to criticise Israel, they also note steady improvements in the representation of Palestinians, their history and viewpoint in Israeli textbooks. The most recent reports on the Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, show that things are not only bad but getting worse .

The earlier report states:

The latest IMPACT-se analysis of the new Palestinian curriculum found it has moved further from meeting UNESCO standards and the newly published textbooks were found to be more radical than those previously published.

There is a systematic insertion of violence, martyrdom and jihad across all grades and subjects…. The possibility of peace with Israel is rejected. Any historical Jewish presence in the modern-day territories of Israel and the Palestinian Authority is entirely omitted from the textbooks.

The later one notes PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh’s declaration to the EU that:

if foreign aid is conditioned … over textbook incitement, the Palestinian Authority would finance the printing of textbooks by reallocating funds for water, electricity and communication systems.

How’s that for priorities, but why not when you can blame the ensuing infrastructure crises on Israel?

I don’t really need to tell you that Hamas is not better :

The most extreme, cynical and disturbing aspect of the website is its pervasive indoctrination of the younger generation into the cult of martyrdom – helping to create the next generation of suicide bombers to join the violent jihad.

From the mosques comes a flood of invective and incitement. The same from the political leadership. The media of course, does its part.

The choice to hate has turned into a trap. The cultivation of hate might have been an effective, if unsavoury strategy when Israel was new and weak, the Arab front looked strong and international will was vacillating (some things don’t change). This wall of incandescent fury might have served to create a united Palestinian people and fire them to steamroll over their enemy. But it wasn’t enough.

Donald Trump’s long-overdue recognition of Israel’s claim to Jerusalem was a wake-up jolt, even to people like me who should already have known: This isn’t really an ongoing conflict. Israel won, decades ago. We’ve all just been persuaded to ignore the fact of that. And Palestinian hate and denial that once might have been a useful weapon is now their ball and chain.

The following 3 paragraphs are the most salient point in this article and so clearly pointed out:

Why are they stuck? Simply put, because Israelis are not stupid and they’re not suicidal. (Israeli governments may be stupid sometimes, but they’re not suicidal either.) Once the message sank in that it’s not a conflict over territory or religion any more, if it ever was, but over the right of Jews to exist in their homeland, a door closed on the Palestinians. The absolute rejection of Jewish legitimacy now bars the way to their freedom. No Israeli government of any electable stripe will give them enough sovereignty to continue the fight from a stronger position. The Temple Mount situation is a daily reminder of the folly of that and of what happens when one side looks at olive branches and sees kindling. Yet even if rejection of everything Israeli or Jewish now blocks their progress, there’s no way to stop. Generation after generation has been so thoroughly marinated in it that it’s become a core principle. Jewish evil and Palestinian pure innocence are reality to them. Jews have no roots and no rights, to them, and to suggest anything different is to court destruction.

What about Israeli wrongdoing? Apartheid, genocide, ethnic cleansing, land theft, child murder and all-purpose oppression? It doesn’t matter. All of that, to use the vernacular, is bullshit, but it wouldn’t change anything if it were true. None of those slurs alters this basic fact: All that matter are Palestinian declared intentions, Israel’s will to stop them and their incapacity to choose another path. Those are the three axes that pin the Palestinians to their point in space.

What about the Palestinians’ friends in the west and elsewhere, who amplify all those same slurs? They do matter, but not because they can deliver Israel bound & gagged. They can’t. They matter because they bear a good share of responsibility for leading the Palestinians into the quicksand and keeping them there, prolonging everyone’s misery. By encouraging them to keep fighting a war they’ve long since lost and by adopting every malformed phantasm of Palestinian resentment, they’ve walked with them hand in hand. The difference of course, is that it’s the Palestinians that are paying the price. Israelis are often lectured that it’s the duty of a friend to put them straight when they are going wrong. Where was the tough love for the Palestinians?

When the army of the Prophet swept through the Khaybar oasis, hate put the spur to his horses and sharpened the edge on his swords, and set the relationship between Muslims and Jews for the next millennium and a half, but impotent hate only clarifies its target’s vision and hardens his resolve. The Palestinians can see that what power they have is trickling away, it’s obvious in their panicky response to the Abraham Accords and any other sign of Arab “betrayal”, and even their fury at the suggestion that UNRWA might outsource some of its activities to other agencies. Hate on top of powerlessness weakens their position, but in defeat they can’t give it up.

So what is the future for the Palestinians? Where does all this leave the two-state solution, first of all? It leaves it dead. Israel has been told endlessly that it mustn’t do certain things because they will destroy the prospects for two-states, but nobody thought to tell the Palestinians that they mustn’t hate for the same reason. People who want to will put the blame on Israel, but the end result will be the same: Nations don’t choose suicide willingly and while would-be murderers of Israel may be plenty their means are insufficient. Beyond that, predicting the future is for fools but there’s little sign that Palestinian dreams will come true. Israel has been getting stronger, not weaker. More and more Arab countries, quietly or in public, are deciding that they can’t subordinate their own interests to Palestinian ones forever. Even Arab-Israelis are gradually starting to integrate more, joining the economy and the army and embracing politics that aren’t zero-sum dead ends. If Israel responds thoughtfully those numbers will only grow. If the Arab world moves on without the Palestinians there’s little reason for Europe and America not to follow suit. Do the Palestinians understand their bind? I doubt it, but they can’t leave their cage by either possible exit and I can’t see how anyone else can get them out. I truly wish they could; I don’t enjoy their suffering and a perpetually bitter and hopeless Palestinian enclave is going to continue lashing out at Israel forever. But not all stories have happy endings.

In medicine there exists something known as a sequestrum. A piece of tissue dies and, instead of the usual process of breakdown and resorption, it mummifies in place. It has no future role in the surrounding body except as a source of inflammation and pain. Is that what the Palestinian people have to look forward to, to be a permanent, irreducible focus of inflammation and hurt in the Middle East? How do we spare them and the Israelis that?

POSTSCRIPT

This piece was written before the death of the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin, but if I’d started writing it today it would have come out exactly the same. From the shrieks of Murder! by everyone from Mahmoud Abbas to Rashida Tlaib to the right-on Susan Sarandon; from the forthright libels of Al Jazeera, the “news” source to which Abu Akleh lent her services for 25 years, to the more veiled insinuations of once-reputable outlets like the BBC and Associated Press, it’s the proof you didn’t need. The Palestinians demonstrate their enduring ability to bruise and blacken Israel, and they get … nowhere. It couldn’t be clearer that the PA, never mind Hamas, is not thinking about coexistence. For all their talk of fairness, justice and rights, the West’s thought leaders’ stampede toward verdict before trial shows again how flexible their principles are in service of their politics. In the process, they make any thinking Jew wonder what future there is for the diaspora. And so we go on, hate and pointless violence that serves only to take the Palestinians further from a future worth having. The pain they inflict and suffer has become their substitute.

The article is rather depressing on the one hand, but on the hand it is so refreshing to see someone from outside the conflict looking at it with cold clear vision and stating the truth. Without accepting the truth nothing will progress in the Middle East.

Maybe someone will send this article to Navi Pillay and her cohorts at the UNHRC.

 

Posted in Antisemitism, Defence and Military, Incitement, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

16 fatherless children left orphaned after Elad terror attack

The heart can hardly comprehend as we learn that 16 children were left fatherless after the terror attack yesterday in Elad. The names of the 3 victims of the terror attack in Elad were released early this morning.

The 3 victims of the Elad terror attack on Yom Haatzmaut

The three people who were murdered in the attack in the city of Elad were identified on Thursday night.

One of the victims is Yonatan Havakuk, a father of five children and a well-known figure in the city.

A second victim has been identified as Boaz Gol, a resident of Elad in his 40s, and also a father of five children.

The third victim is Oren Ben Yiftach, 35, a resident of the city of Lod and a father of six.

Three people were seriously injured in the attack.

The heart-rending funeral of Yonatan Havakuk took place this morning:

Hundreds of people attended the Friday funeral of Yonatan Havakuk, a 44-year-old father of five who was murdered Thursday night in a terror attack in the central city of Elad.

The eulogies began in Elad, after which the funeral procession will continue to the Yarkon cemetery, where Havakuk will be laid to rest.

Havakuk was known to many, due to his work at a garage in the city.

His brother-in-law said: “Whenever we needed, he would come right away to deal with the problems, and all of it with a smile. I learned a lot from him. We are trying to digest this. There’s no one like this person, there’s no replacement for him. The whole city knew him.”

Havakuk’s wife wrote on Facebook: “My heart refuses to believe that I have been left alone with five orphans. My heart is burning, that my young child saw his father during his last moments. My husband fought against them with great heroism and saved many people during the time he was fighting them for long minutes.”

“May G-d avenge your blood, my dear and beloved husband. We will miss you very much.”

The Jerusalem Post provides a short background on each of the victims, each one more heart-rending than the next:

Boaz Gol

“His children asked me how they could continue without a father,” Ronit, sister-in-law to victim Boaz Gol, told KAN. “I told them that he went to bring the Messiah so that there wouldn’t be any more victims.”

Gol’s son explained that he was still processing what had happened.

“Dad went to a Torah lesson and was murdered,” he told KAN, adding “I still haven’t digested it yet.”

Yonatan Habakkuk

“My heart refuses to believe that I was left alone with five orphans,” Limor, the wife of victim Yonatan Habakkuk, wrote on Facebook, noting that her husband “fought against the terrorists with great heroism for many minutes… saving many lives.”

“God will avenge your blood, my beloved husband. We miss you very much,” she continued.

Limor’s address and phone number have been concealed by the Israeli media per her express wishes mentioned in her post, which specifies “until the scoundrels are caught,” as her children are scared and traumatized.

“He helped everyone with a smile, the whole city called him ‘brother.’ There is no substitute for this man,” Habakkuk’s brother-in-law told Israeli media.

“I was his neighbor for 15 years, he was one of the most amazing people I knew,” Habakkuk’s friend, Amir Mizrahi, told Walla.

“He was our mechanic and he always had a smile on his face. He was the first to take me to Uman. His daughters study with mine.”

Mizrahi recounted how his friend was killed.

“From what I understood from my daughters who were there, they were having a meal in their home. He wanted to go call his son who was at the town square. He went down to look for his son and was murdered.”

Oren Ben Yiftach

Oren Ben Yiftach was a resident of Lod who worked as a shuttle driver and was only in the city to drive a rabbi to their from Beit Shemesh. He was killed while sitting in his car.

His wife, Nofar, noticed that his phone was located where the terror attack was taking place but was unable to contact him, nor were other family members. For hours, they wondered what had happened until Lod Mayor Yair Revivo came to their home and told them of his death, Ynet reported.

“The smile never left Oren’s face, it was his trademark. When you saw him smile, you smiled too,” explained former Labor MK Yoram Marciano, a relative and part of the Ben Yiftach family.

The Ben Yiftach family is a large and well-established family in the city.

“This is a family rooted in Lod, which had its roots in the city many, man years ago,” Marciano said, according to Ynet. “If you think ‘Lod,’ you think the Ben Yiftach family.”

The family had been going through trying times, with Oren’s older brother and father both dying of heart attacks.

“His mother lost her husband and a child in difficult medical circumstances, and now another child,” Marciano lamented, according to Ynet. “Terrible, horrible.”

The shock and trauma does not end with the funerals. The seriously injured, and those suffering from shock have a long road ahead of them too, as the JPost continues:

The brother-in-law of Shai Ben Shalom, one of the seriously injured victims, recounted the incident to KAN, noting that he was attacked right in front of his children.

“He took the children to the Elad Amphitheater Park. He turned around and they attacked him with an ax and a hammer. My brother-in-law jumped on them so that the children would run away.”

Due to the traumatic nature of the incident, Elad Mayor Israel Porush told KAN that hundreds of mental healthcare volunteers such as psychologists and social workers to help talk to the children and families.

However, school for the day was announced by the Elad Municipality to still be in session.

Shai’s mother Ilana has asked on Facebook for people to pray and say Tehillim for her son Shai ben Ilana.

The terror is not over for the 2 terrorists managed to escape, the cowards. A manhunt is on, and since the identity of the cowardly terrorists is known to the police I have no doubt they will be found. I will not post their pictures here, I don’t want to pollute my blog. You can see their picture at the link:

Police identified the two suspects 19-year-old Assad al-Rafai and 20-year-old Tzabahi Abu Shakir, both from the Jenin area in the West Bank. Security services released their pictures and have asked for the public’s help in locating them, indicating that the two might still be in Israeli territory.

With the rapid rise in these “lone-wolf” attacks – which are no such thing, they are all aided and abetted by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, and are most certainly incited by the likes of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar who openly called for Palestinians to take up weapons to kill Jews:

It’s high time this depraved excuse for a human being is removed from the face of this earth.  Sadly I think the solution provided by DavidinPT in my previous post seems to be the only solution.

May the injured have a refuah shlema umehira.

May the families of the murder victims be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

May the memory of the 3 victims be for a blessing. May Hashem avenge their blood.

יהי זכרם ברוך

Posted in Incitement, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Another terror attack in central Israel: 3 dead in Elad

It never ends. Israel has reeled from one terror attack to another since March, 18 people were murdered in the 5 attacks in Beer Sheva, Hadera, Bnei Brak, Tel Aviv and Ariel.

This evening another attack was perpetrated by apparently two terrorists in the religious town of Elad, about a 15 minute drive from Petach Tikva. It is situated on the “seam line” between “pre-1967 Israel” and the Arab towns on the other side of the (now irrelevant) “Green Line”. Despite its geographical situation, it has largely been a quiet safe town. Not any more.

This evening the terrorists embarked on a murderous and savage assault on Israeli passersby as they were still celebrating or returning home from Independence Day outings in the local park. The terrorists used an axe and possibly a knife. The situation on the ground is still ongoing and reports are still coming in.

Medics at the scene of a suspseted terror attack in Elad, on May 5, 2022. (United Hatzalah)

The Jerusalem Post reports:

At least three people were killed and four others injured in a terrorist attack in the Israeli city of Elad near Petah Tikva towards the end of Independence Day.

All three victims were men in their 40s.

Two of the victims aged 60 and 35 were seriously wounded and transported to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer and Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus sedated and intubated. Another 40-year-old male was moderately wounded and transported to Beilinson, and a 23-year-old male who fought with the terrorists was conveyed in mild condition to the hospital.

MDA Paramedic Alon Rizkan, who arrived at the scene and treated the victims called it “a very difficult call.”

Police were investigating the background of the incident and according to reports, the victims were injured by two men, one wielding an ax, in two different locations including near Elad Amphitheater Park.

Checkpoints were deployed along the city’s main roads while police searched by helicopter for a vehicle that was seen fleeing the scene.

The Elad Municipality asked residents to shelter in place.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi following the attack. Israel Police Superintendent Kobi Shabtai arrived at the scene on Thursday evening.

The attack comes toward the end of Independence Day, with many families gathering outdoors to celebrate the country’s 74th anniversary on Thursday evening.

And as expected, the sickening and depraved reaction of Palestinians who celebrated this vicious murder – as they do every time an Israeli loses his life. They are utter perverts who deserve to burn in hell.

I will either update this post or write a separate post as and when more information comes in.

Meanwhile let us pray for refuah shlema for those injured, and may Hashem avenge the blood of the innocent victims who died על קידוש השם.

Posted in Antisemitism, Incitement, Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Yom Atzma’ut Same’ach! Happy 74th Independence Day Israel!

Fireworks light up the skies at the 74th anniversary Independence Day ceremony, held at Mount Herzl, in Jerusalem, on May 4, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

It’s Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, and, as remarked upon by both local and foreign observers, the country swings in a schizophrenic kind of way from the mourning, sorrow and remembrance of Yom Hazikaron to the flag-waving patriotism and general merry-making of Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Prayers marking the transition from the mourning of Yom Hazikaron to the celebrations of Yom Haatzmaut were held in synagogues throughout the country. For a change I attended the services at my niece’s shul on the other side of town and I thoroughly enjoyed and was inspired by the musically accompanied prayers.

Others watched the beautiful ceremony on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem with the traditional 12 torch-lighters who were honoured for their contributions to Israeli or Jewish society, followed by flag bearers and other pyrotechnical displays. This year for the first time, both Jerusalem and several other municipalities used silent fireworks in consideration of those suffering from PTSD. Calls for unity within Israeli society were the key points of the various speakers:

“Right now, between these two days, with the transition that is so tough and so Israeli, we manage but for a moment to truly be one,” Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy said in a keynote address at the main state ceremony marking the start of Independence Day at Mount Herzl.

“We manage for a moment to not let any division get between us. And if we could do it yesterday, and we can do it tomorrow, I believe we can manage to do it every day; to choose to see the good in each other, to choose to brighten people’s faces, to choose partnership over division, to be together in this home for us all.”

PM Naftali Bennett spoke similarly about the need for unity:

“74 years of statehood has taught us that when the people of Israel are united – no one can beat us,” said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the state ceremony marking the 74th Independence Day.

“Dear citizens of Israel, Independence Day is a day of great pride for all of us,” said Bennett. “National pride in what we’ve gone through together, and in what we have achieved here together.”

The prime minister pointed to the hi-tech industry, the healthcare system and the opportunities provided to the periphery, saying “thank God, Israel can provide a livelihood for anyone who is looking for one.”

Concerning the security situation, Bennett stressed that “even though our enemies do not rest for a moment from trying to harm us, the State of Israel is stronger than ever.”

“The IDF, the Shin Bet and the Mossad are intensifying at an unprecedented rate: with lasers, missiles, cyber and above all – by investing in our bold and good soldiers,” said Bennett.

Bennett reiterated the message he stated on Remembrance Day, stressing that sectarianism destroyed the Jewish state in the Second Temple Period and that “a sovereign and united Jewish state has never survived here for more than 80 years.”

“Here we are in the eighth decade of the State of Israel,” said Bennett. “The decade we have never succeeded [in getting through]. This time we have another chance, a third chance for the Jewish people. This time we must, simply must succeed.”

“We must not allow hatred to capture us, to control us. We need to see each other with a good eye, to believe that the other also wants the good for the state, even if his opinion is completely different. We should all always place the good of the state above our sector, above our self-interest,” said the prime minister.

Bennett made a short video clip with a powerful message for Yom Haatzmaut:

Returning to the ceremony at Har Herzl:

Maskless and crowded together with few coronavirus restrictions for the first time in two years, Bennett and thousands of others gathered at Mount Herzl for the ceremony, including recent arrivals fleeing Ukraine and Russia, as well as government leaders and other dignitaries.

As in past years, the highlight of the evening was a traditional torch-lighting ceremony honoring extraordinary citizens and others who have contributed to the country and Jewish communities.

Among those lighting beacons were Elizaveta Sherstuk, the head of the Jewish community center in Sumy, Ukraine, who helped hundreds escape the Russian invasion and is continuing to provide critical support in the devastated border city.

“This is the acknowledgment of the importance of what we do,” she told The Times of Israel, ahead of the ceremony.

The parents of Shira Banki, killed by a religious extremist in 2015 while marching in Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade, also lit a torch, dedicating it to “those who choose to teach what is good, rather than condemn what is bad, who work toward bringing people closer and not pushing them away, connecting and not separating, fixing and not taking revenge.”

Also among the torchlighters was the commander of the police’s Yamam anti-terror unit, his face hidden by a mask. The man, whose name was also kept under wraps, was chosen to represent members of Israeli security forces working undercover or in sensitive posts and unable to reveal their identities — a first.

Other torchlighters:

  • Kalman Samuels, a Canadian ex-pat who founded Shalva, an organization which helps people with disabilities.
  • Yael Sherer, a leading activist for victims of sexual violence.
  • Simcha Gathon, who immigrated from Ethiopia and today leads the Center for the Legacy of Ethiopian Jewry.
  • Angel Alon, a Netivot resident who was a foster parent to 217 at-risk children for over 30 years.
  • Asael Shabo, who lost his mother and three siblings in a 2002 terror attack in which he also lost part of his right leg, and went on to become a wheelchair basketball athlete.
  • Mounir Madi, who heads a pre-army academy in Dalyat al-Carmel for Druze and Jewish youth.
  • Hadar Cohen, who leads an IDF unit for new immigrants needing both basic training and Hebrew instruction.
  • Rita Yehan-Farouz, a Tehran born Israeli pop singer better known as just Rita.
  • Idan Kleiman, who heads the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization.
  • Yoram Yair, an ex-general who leads programs to provide support for soldiers, youth leadership training and substance abuse rehabilitation.

The glitzy ceremony was accompanied by what organizers called a “quiet pyrotechnics” display instead of the usual fireworks that light up the night sky. Many cities have chosen to forgo such displays this year out of respect to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

You can watch the ceremony here:

On Thursday morning and early afternoon, Air Force aircraft will do a flyover of much of the country, a popular and iconic feature of celebrations.

The flyover will include F-15, F-16 and F-35 fighter jets; Lavi training aircraft; C-130 cargo planes; a Boeing refueling plane; Black Hawk, Sea Stallion, Panther and Apache helicopters; and Israel Aerospace Industries Heron drones. It will be the first time IAI drones participate in the flyover.

This year, the military will add a flyby over the West Bank city of Hebron and the adjacent settlement of Kiryat Arba. It will be the first time the flyby passes over that particular area, but not the first time for all West Bank communities. The IDF said the move was not a political statement, but related to the size of the community.

Tomorrow as is our custom we will be heading out to our children for the family “mangal” – BBQ – with lots of noise and fun, while millions of Israelis head to the beaches, the north, national parks, hiking trails or just hanging out with friends. And of course we will all be avidly watching the International Youth Bible Quiz. The deep and wide knowledge of these youngsters astounds me anew every year.

Just a small tweet from the United Arab Emirates illustrates how far Israel has come in its relations with its Arab neighbours. A message like this would have been unthinkable a mere few years ago. May these wonderful relationships continue to blossom and thrive!

May we merit to see many more years of love and brotherhood in this crazy, wonderful little country of ours, till 120 and beyond!

זה היום עשה ה’ נגילה ונשמחה בו

This is the day that Hashem made, we will rejoice and celebrate on it.

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