Good News Friday

This time last week I was writing about the devastating fires in Haifa and many other places around the country, and I had no time to write a Good News Friday post. This week I am writing in the midst of a huge rain and thunderstorm! This is certainly good news for the country though we could have done with the rain earlier – and this provides a very good excuse for another Good News Friday post.

My first item is fittingly connected to the Haifa fires (via Reality): local Arab businessmen donated wood to help rebuild a synagogue burnt in the fire:

Israeli-Arab businessmen who were asked to give an estimate to help repair damage caused to a synagogue in Haifa due to the massive fires there  have said they will carry out the project pro-bono, and refuse any compensation for the restoration work.

Extinguishing the fire at the Haifa synagogue

Extinguishing the fire at the Haifa synagogue

“I decided to help and not receive any payment,” said Walid abu-Ahmed, a wood panel supplier based in Haifa.

Burnt books from the synagogue fire

Burnt books from the synagogue fire

“Jews and Arabs live together in Haifa, and there is no discrimination. We must continue with this co-existence and promote peace.”

The third floor of the conservative Moriah synagogue in the Ahuza area of the city was burned in the fires which raged there on Thursday.

The Rabbi of the synagogue, Dovi Hiyon, was also looking for new wooden tables to replace the ones which were destroyed in the fire. He went to carpenter Shachar Sela, who agreed to work pro-bono, but wanted payment for the materials.

The carpenter went to several wood suppliers before reaching out to abu-Ahmad and Ziad Yunis. When abu-Yunis heard what the wood was to be used for, he decided to give the wood free of charge.

“I had tears in my eyes when I heard what was happening,” Rabbi Hiyon said. “It was so emotional to hear that Muslims were asking to donate to a Jewish synagogue. I’ve invited them to evening prayers to personally thank them.”

What a wonderful gesture of friendship and neighbourliness as well as simple generosity. This is no small thing given the nationalistic motive behind some of the fires. Kol hakavod to Walid abu-Ahmed and his friend for their generous donation. May this gesture signal a return to the coexistence for which Haifa is famed.

Still on the subject of the fires, the settlement of Neveh Tzuf was particularly hard hit by the flames, and a call went out appealing for donations of food, clothing, equipment, anything to help the newly homeless residents. Within the space of 48 hours the town was so inundated with donations they ahd to appeal to Israelis to stop giving! As Yehuda Glick says in his Facebook post below, “Who is like unto Your people Israel?”

Kol hakavod to every single person who donated goods or money. This is the true spirit fo Israel.

From fire to water, or rather to under water, an ancient stone, probably the base of a statue, was extracted from underneath the sea earlier this year, and the inscription on it has now been deciphered (via Zvi/Reality). It contains one of the few mentions of the name “Judah” in Roman artefacts:

In a rare underwater discovery, researchers from the University of Haifa have determined with certainty the name of the Roman procurator who ruled in Judea prior to the second- century Bar-Kochba Revolt.

An inscription bearing the name of a previously unknown Roman ruler of Judea was discovered off Tel Dor by the University of Haifa, in January 2016. (Courtesy of the University of Haifa)

An inscription bearing the name of a previously unknown Roman ruler of Judea was discovered off Tel Dor by the University of Haifa, in January 2016. (Courtesy of the University of Haifa)

Archeologists uncovered his name – Gargilius Antiques – engraved on a massive rectangular stone, during a maritime excavation at the Tel Dor archeological site south of Haifa.

… “Not only did we manage to identify with certainty for the first time the name of the procurator that controlled Judea during the critical years before the Bar-Kochba Revolt, but this is only the second time that a reference to the name Judea was revealed in any inscription from the Roman period,” Prof. Assaf Yasur-Landau and Dr. Gil Gambash said in a joint statement.

…“Apparently, this was the base of a statue from Roman times and to the best of our knowledge, this is the longest inscription ever discovered underwater in Israel,” Yasur-Landau said.

While the deciphering work on the inscription, led by Gambash, is still not complete, the information acquired thus far is already proving significant to the archeologists.

The researchers also emphasized the unique nature of the fact that Judea was even mentioned in a Roman inscription, as such a reference has only been found in one other relic – a stone commemorating Pontius Pilate in Caesarea, they explained.

This is truly an amazing find, both for its pure archeological and historical value and for us Jewish Israelis, as more proof, if ever proof were needed, of the indigenous status of the Jews in the Land of Israel.

Kol hakavod to Profs. Assaf Yasur-Landau and Dr. Gil Gambash of Haifa University and all the other researchers involved in this complicated operation. They have opened up a new window on our fascinating history.

Speaking of history, and to conclude this week’s post, the following story is the most wonderful heart-warming and inspirational story I have heard in a long while (via Brian Goldfarb). A posthumous award is to be given by a Jewish organization to an American officer who saved the Jewish GI’s under his command when they were captured by the Nazis and sent to a prison camp:

NEW YORK — In a singular act of humanity and defiance, Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds stood up to a German commandant and saved 200 American Jewish GIs from transportation to a slave labor camp.

Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds, circled in red, at Camp Atterbury. (Courtesy Chris Edmonds)

Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds, circled in red, at Camp Atterbury. (Courtesy Chris Edmonds)

It was 1945 and Edmonds had been a prisoner of war in Stalag IX-A, a German POW camp for less than a month. As the highest-ranking officer there, he was responsible for the camp’s 1,292 American POWs – 200 of whom were Jewish.

Throughout the war, the Wehrmacht either murdered Jewish soldiers captured on the Eastern Front or sent them to extermination camps. Jewish soldiers captured on the Western Front could be sent to Berga, a slave labor camp where survival rates were dismal.

The implication of these words is chilling beyond words.  As one of the commenters below the ToI article remarks, “the fact that at a time when the war was so clearly lost, the Germans were still intent on killing as many Jews as they could find. The contrast in morals between the Americans and Germans involved in this saga is amazing.”  Indeed, it is almost impossible to imagine the hatred of the Nazis towards the Jews that they would take the effort to search out Jews even amongst captured servicemen, and send them to slave labour or death camps. (I use the term “almost” advisedly. The hatred expressed towards us by some of our enemies is equally incomprehensible).

Because of this policy the US military told its Jewish soldiers that if they were captured they should destroy evidence of their faith, such as dog tags, which were stamped with the letter H for Hebrew, or personal prayer books that some soldiers carried.

Edmonds, who died in 1985, never spoke about the story. In fact, had it not been for his granddaughter’s college assignment many decades later, the officer’s story might have remained forever untold. But thanks to the subsequent persistence of Edmonds’ son, Pastor Chris Edmonds, the heroic story surfaced.

On Monday night the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous posthumously honored Edmonds with its “Yehi Or” (Let There Be Light) Award.

To understand why Edmonds never spoke about his courage — not to his wife, his children, nor to his grandchildren — is to understand something about the man himself.

“He was a man of faith. He never bragged on anything but God. Well, maybe his sons sometimes,” said Edmonds in a telephone interview days before he was scheduled to accept the award on his father’s behalf at The New York Public Library.

The crux of the story reads like something out of a thriller:

“We surrendered to avoid slaughter. We were marched without food and water, except for the few sugar beets we found along the road and puddles,” the 25-year-old wrote in his diary shortly after being transported to the camp which held upwards of 50,000 Allied soldiers near Ziegenhain.

As the highest-ranking office there, Edmonds, responsible for the camp’s 1,292 American POWs, relied on his faith and sense of duty to keep the men safe and to keep morale as high as possible, said his son Chris.

One day in January 1945, a month after his capture, the Germans ordered all Jewish POWs to report outside their barracks the following morning. Edmonds knew what awaited the Jewish men under his command, so he decided to resist the directive. He ordered all his men — Jews and non-Jews alike — to fall out the following morning.

Upon seeing all the soldiers lined up, the camp’s commandant, Major Siegmann, approached Edmonds. He ordered Edmonds to identify the Jewish soldiers.

“We are all Jews here,” Edmonds said.

Irate, the commandant jammed his pistol against Edmonds’ head and repeated the order. Again, Edmonds refused.

“According to the Geneva Convention, we only have to give our name, rank and serial number. If you shoot me, you will have to shoot all of us, and after the war you will be tried for war crimes,” Edmonds had said, according to one of the men saved that day.

The younger Edmonds regards all 1,292 men as heroes.

“When Dad got the orders and told his men that they were not giving up the Jewish soldiers, they could have said no,” he said. “When the commandant pressed the gun against my father some of the men could have pointed out the Jews. None of them did that. They all stood together.”

The JFR award comes just a year after Edmonds became the only American soldier, and one of just five Americans, named Righteous Among Nations by Yad Vashem. He is also the only Righteous Among Nations to have saved American Jews.

You don’t need me to explain you the significance of this outstandingly courageous act, both of the young Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds and of all the hundreds of men under his command. Every single one of them ought to receive this award.  In this day and age of increasing hatred and divisiveness, could we imagine such an act taking place today? I would like to think that we could.

May Roddie Edmonds rest in peace in Heaven where he surely belongs amongst the angels, and may his family take comfort in his blessed memory.

May this inspiring story and the others in today’s post light a candle of hope in these dark days, so suitable for the upcoming festival of lights, Channukah.

I wish you all Chodesh tov and Shababt Shalom!

Posted in History, Israel news, Slice of Israeli life, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Kaf tet beNovember, the Palestinians want a do-over and the UN cooperates

It’s that strangely titled day again, Kaf Tet beNovember, the 29th of November when Israel mixes the Hebrew letter-numbering system of the Jewish calendar to mark a civil calendar date. On this day in 1947 the UN voted for partition of the British Mandate territory of Palestine into two sectors – a Jewish one and an Arab one. The UN Resolution 181 passed with the support of most of the civilized world.  The Jews in then-Palestine accepted the vote and celebrated with great joy.  The Arab world rejected the vote and have been trying to undo the vote ever since, with the able assistance of the UN itself as well as the entire Arab world and assorted fellow-travellers. This has brought them nothing but misery and destruction.

It is instructive to look at this graphic of who voted for partition, who voted against or abstained, and what has become of them since 1947:

So how is the UN marking this important day in history? Is it holding a special session on Jewish indigenous rights in the Land of Israel? Is it maybe commemorating the murderous onslaught by five Arab armies on the nascent Jewish state with the intent of of finishing off Hitler’s work?

Or is it maybe compounding its anti-Israel record by holding yet more anti-Israel sessions?

No prizes for guessing correctly. See the following tweets, for example the UN once again ignored the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount:

As for Syria, the UN turns it upside down and makes it all Israel’s fault!

It is the same mindset that has led the Palestinians to demand that Britain to apologize for the Balfour Declaration – the document which formed the basis for the British Mandate and the eventual establishment of a homeland for the Jews in Israel. Fittingly, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs met today at the House of Commons for an event to commemorate the Balfour Declaration and to reaffirm as former Foreign Minister Dore Gold mentions, that the British should be proud of the Balfour Declaration:

From the linked Israel Hayom article:

Former Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold and Israeli Ambassador to the U.K. Mark Regev were expected to speak in the House of Commons on Tuesday at an event called “Refuting Balfour’s Detractors.” The event comes 99 years after British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour wrote his historic letter stating that his government views “with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

In July, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said the Palestinian Authority would file a lawsuit against the United Kingdom over the 1917 letter, considered a major diplomatic milestone in the history of the Zionist movement.

In the wake of Malki’s statement, the pro-Palestinian group Palestinian Return Center launched the “Balfour Apology Campaign” in October at an event held in the House of Lords.

The event is designed to note the ramifications of the Palestinian demand to nullify the Balfour Declaration, as well as to expose the Palestinian organization for what it really is,” Gold said on Monday. “Today, the EU considers Hamas a terrorist organization, and Hamas also helps Islamic State operate in Sinai. The campaign against the Balfour Declaration is part of the diplomatic warfare being waged against Israel and the current assault on the declaration is part of the ongoing Palestinian refusal to recognize the rights of the Jewish people, including the right to establish their own national home.”

The JCPA live tweeted during the event:

Israel’s Ambassador to Britain, Mark Regev, tweeted an important message in Hebrew:

Translation: The Balfour Declaration was a significant milestone in the establishment of a Jewish State.  But Zionism preceded the Declaration.

The most apt tweet that I saw today was perfectly relevant to both the 29th November commemoration and the Balfour Declaration event. It makes a supremely important point that even ardent Zionists sometimes forget:


Posted in History, International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Haifa fires die down, many others break out – #Israelfires

The devastating wildfires in Haifa appear to have died down, and now one can see the level of damage caused to the city:

However other fires were still smouldering when Shabbat began, and over Shabbat more destructive fires broke out or were deliberately set, particularly in the towns of Bet Meir and Neveh Tzuf-Halamish.

Firefighters tackle the ferocious blaze at Nataf in the Judean Hills

Firefighters tackle the ferocious blaze at Nataf in the Jerusalem Hills

According to security forces, after the initial fires, arsonists “jumped on the bandwagon“:

Amid signs that the wave of wildfires that have blight Israel since Tuesday was being brought under control, Israeli security officials on Saturday night gave preliminary indications that weather was the prime cause of the initial blazes but that arsonists jumped on the bandwagon increasingly from Wednesday and into the weekend.

Israeli security forces have arrested more than 30 people suspected of either arson or encouraging others to commit arson since Tuesday, as the dozens of wildfires have swept through the country, destroying hundreds of homes and businesses and forcing tens of thousands to flee. At least 23 were still in custody on Saturday night, of whom more than 10 were Palestinians

As I mentioned on Friday, the town of Bet Meir in the Jerusalem hills suffered very severe damage over Thursday night and into Friday morning. Residents described their terrible experience:

One couple related their escape from the burning community: “We got into the car and started to flee the scene. There was a huge fire at the entrance to the community, and we couldn’t get out.

“Hundreds of cars there, and we can’t get out. We saw the fire right in front of us. Terrifying…

“We saw the giant flames right in front of us. After that more firefighting teams started to arrive…

“They cleared the way for us… and we just traveled, without even seeing where we were going.

Another couple noted: “The uncertainty was very frightening…we heard the police yelling outside…in a couple of minutes we managed to be driving out in our car, but the entrance of the community was blocked.”

“That sudden fear that you’re lost….

“There’s a big traffic jam, everything gets filled with smoke…everybody’s choking inside their cars…moments you can’t understand at all.

“Everyone is under pressure the police the army…there’s no water to put out the fires…there were thirty people trapped in a building.”

Residents of Beit Meir, which is just off the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, were evacuated from their homes, including 300 people at the guest house, most of them to the nearby town of Shoresh, others to their families in other places.

Watch this video as the firefighters enter Bet Meir:

The worst fire over Shabbat took place in the Samarian town of Neveh Tzuf-Halamish. The devastation there was horrific, with dozens of houses completely burnt and others severely damaged, though once again we have to thank G-d and the firefighters that there have been no casualties.

On Friday night, all the residents – 350 families – of the town of Neve Tzuf (Halamish) in Samaria were forced to leave their homes after arsonists set fire to 3 different locations throughout the town.

Scene of devastation in Neve Tzuf-Halamish

Scene of devastation in Neve Tzuf-Halamish

Fifteen houses were completely destroyed and collapsed, while 25 other houses were seriously damaged from the flames.

Four civilians were lightly injured, including two firefighters.

Three firefighting teams from the Palestinian Authority helped to battle the blaze.

A spokesperson for Neve Tzuf said, “The town has suffered a blow tonight, but we’re strong and we’ll manage to deal with it. The town’s welfare staff and the Binyamin Regional Council are working to take care of all the residents’ needs.”

Watch the firefighting teams enter the town and call on the residents to evacuate:

Neve Tzuf resident Miri Ovadia described the town’s ordeal:

Arutz Sheva reported:

“We had an extremely difficult, though miraculous Shabbat, last night at around 10-11 o’clock a major fire was caused by terrorists who put this community on fire in three different places, and because of the crazy winds that we had, the fire spread very, very quickly,” Ovadiya said.

“We received messages to leave our houses immediately, to evacuate the community, no much time [sic] to think, I took my son and drove out of there…we were evacuated to two nearby communities, welcomed wonderfully by the people, mostly to ensure that the security forces can continue fighting the fire, which they did, for the entire Friday night, Shabbat morning, until they managed to put it out. We’re extremely lucky and blessed that there’s no loss in life after this crazy tragedy…”

“The security forces tracked down people that were seen setting the place on fire and running off, and the security forces are trying to find these people,” Ovadiya said.

She also noted that over 60 families are not yet allowed to return to their homes, and the community is trying to find solutions for them for the next month, until they will be allowed to start rebuilding their lives.

This is what investigations of arson discovered:

The Times of Israel has a summary of the fires and the efforts to combat them over the weekend:

The newly arrived US supertanker, considered the largest firefighting aircraft in the world, joined the emergency operation on Saturday afternoon, beginning with the fires burning in the Jerusalem hills, where firefighters have been struggling to contain the flames since Tuesday.

The main highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Route 1, was shut briefly on Saturday afternoon between the Sha’ar Hagai and Horesh interchanges, as the massive plane went into action.

In Halamish, a blaze that was brought under control in earlier in the day rekindled in three different locations on Saturday afternoon.

Blazes were also reported near the West Bank settlements of Dolev, Alfei Menashe and Karnei Shomron, although there were no evacuations there. In northern Israel, firefighters on Saturday brought under control a fire that broke out at the Harashim community in the Galilee, and residents were allowed to return to their homes.

Near the northern city of Nazareth Illit, six firefighting teams were working Saturday afternoon to extinguish a fire that broke out in the Churchill Forest, the Ynet news website reported. Over the past 24 hours there were five fires in the forest.

In Nataf, built atop a hillside on the outskirts of Jerusalem, inhabitants were evacuated for the third time in four days Friday, as renewed wildfire reached the community despite the best efforts of scores of firefighters to beat back the flames that threatened numerous homes there and elsewhere in the nearby area.

Famed Nataf restaurant Rama’s Kitchen burned to the ground in the afternoon, just a short time after a wedding party was forced to flee along with the staff. Restaurant owner Maya Ben Zvi, who watched as the building went up in flames, also saw damage to her home in the community. She too pledged to start over.

Help arrived for Israel from all over the world:

Firefighting planes from Israel and countries including Cyprus, Russia, Turkey, Greece, France, Spain and Canada continued to dump tons of water and retardants on fires at various locations, including Nataf, on Saturday. The Palestinian Authority has also joined the efforts to extinguish the blazes, sending 41 firefighters and eight trucks to massive fires in the northern city of Haifa. Palestinian firefighters from Ramallah also joined forces with their Israeli counterparts on Friday night to battle the blaze in Halamish. And on Saturday, the PA fire chief was due to visit the Israeli fire service command centers in Rishon Letzion and Neve Ilan.

Ynet has a heart-warming piece on the cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian firefighting teams:

Eight firefighting brigades form the Palestinian Authority came to Israel overnight Thursday to help the local firefighters battle the blazes in Haifa and Sha’ar Hagai, the first time that Palestinian firefighters have crossed into Israel to offer professional assistance since the Carmel fires in 2010.

IDF officer and Palestinian firefighter working together

IDF officer and Palestinian firefighter working together

About 20 Palestinian firefighters came after the PA offered their help, the very first extra-Israeli source to do so. Suhail Abed, a firefighter from Qalqilya who serves in the Jenin area, said, “From our point of view, above all saving lives is what leads us, and so we decided to come. Our motivation is very high, and we’re happy to give help and human assistance.” He said that firefighting cooperation was also taking place in the West Bank, but there, the fires were more under control.

Egypt and Jordan also offered to aid Israel in fighting the fires raging in the country on Friday morning. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted both their offers. Egypt is sending two firefighting helicopters, and Jordan is sending fire trucks.

They also have a great photo essay on Israel’s friends in need who came to our help. Click the link to see more:

Helicopter from Egypt, US Super-tanker, Ukrainian, Croatian and Azerbaijanian planes

Helicopter from Egypt, US Super-tanker, Ukrainian, Croatian and Azerbaijanian planes

Our Christian residents also helped out as much as they could:

And one more item to give pause for thought and hope on this very difficult weekend, here is the story (Hebrew only) about the widow of the firefighter Danny Hayat z”l, who died in the Carmel fire of 2010. Hofit Hayat has become a firefighter herself, and while tackling a blaze in the Menashe forests, she was given a helmet – belonging to her late husband! Was that coincidence or a sign from Heaven? You be the judge.

Kol hakavod to this extraordinarily brave woman. Kol hakavod to all the firefighters, whether Israeli, Palestinian, Arabs, Europeans, Americans and everyone in between, who have come to the aid of Israel in this pressing time.

May the coming week and the upcoming month of Kislev (ironically the month of candles and light on Hanukkah) bring better news.

Posted in International relations, Israel news, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Shabbat Shalom

No time for a Good News Friday post today. My earlier post was delayed due to family health issues, but I can’t leave this blog for Shabbat without something positive on the front page.

So go take a look at the Twitter page of Israel Photography. There are some fabulous pictures which display our beautiful little country at its best.

And it will stay a beautiful country despite the best efforts of our enemies to destroy it, whether by fire or by war.

Shabbat Shalom everyone! May we all have a quiet, safe, and hopefully wet weekend.

Posted in Israel news | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

#Israelisburning while #Arabsarecelebrating

Wildfire in Israel

Wildfire in Israel

A brush-fire which, aided by extremely dry weather and strong winds, turned into a wildfire, caused initially by negligence, set fire to large swathes of the picturesque town of Zichron Yaakov, and in the coexistence village of Neve Shalom and Nataf near Jerusalem. Severe damage and even destruction was caused to several houses, and trees and land were burnt too.

This wildfire ignited another kind of fire in the black hearts of Palestinian and local Arabs.  Inspired by the destructive quality of the earlier fires they proceeded to ignite huge swathes of the country. The worst fire occurred in Haifa, where 6 separate ignition points indicate arson rather than negligence or natural causes. 75,000 residents were evacuated over the course of yesterday, several houses were burnt down completely or very severely damaged.

Residents escaping the massive fire in Haifa

Residents escaping the massive fire in Haifa

The Hesder Yeshiva of Haifa burnt down completely, including its holy books, because the heroic students abandoned their books in order to save the lives of nursery school children on the top floor of their building.

More fires occurred in the Jerusalem hills, in Modiin,


Footage of a fire in the mountainous village of Beit Meir, west of Jerusalem

Footage of a fire in the mountainous village of Beit Meir, west of Jerusalem

Last night fresh fires started in Bet Meir in the Jerusalem Hills, leading to great destruction, as well as outside Carmiel in the Galilee. While most of the fires had been extinguished by this morning, several fresh ones broke out again in Haifa and elsewhere.

The biggest miracle was that there has been no loss of life, although several dozen people have been injured from smoke inhalation.

It now appears that even the initial fire at Zichron Yaakov was caused by arson, as were many if not most of the other fires:

A spokesperson of the Haifa Fire Department said on Friday they have evidence that a fire started near the city’s main fire depot was an act of arson. Speaking to Channel 2, Uri Chibotaro said video evidence proved the cause of the blaze.
Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) said to Israel Radio that the Haifa firestorm, which caused widespread damage on Thursday, was an “intentional act of arson.”
Earlier, Interior Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said that the results of an investigation into Thursday’s fire in Zichron Ya’acov concluded that the blaze was caused by arsonists.
Police reported that in total 12 individuals had been investigated for arson and incitement as a result of their investigations.

While the Israelis have been busy fighting the fires, evacuating residents, foreign countries chipped in with fire-fighting planes. Even our “cold-peace” partners Turkey, Jordan and Egypt are sending helicopters and fire-engines. The Palestinian Authority too is sending in fire-fighting ground teams.

Sadly, many Arabs (definitely not all I am pleased to say) have been celebrating the fire, cheering it on and praying for more destruction and wishing death on us.

Here is a selection of relevant tweets:

The vile reactions of these antisemitic hateful people reveal their true feelings. They are not “for” the Palestinians. They are against the Jews, wherever they live. They are happy to see the land that they claim to cherish burn down rather than let the Jews live in it:

It is so reminiscent of the famed story of King Solomon and the baby that several commentators have remarked on it. Israellycool has an excellent video which summarizes another post of his:

If the analogy was not already obvious enough, the celebrating Arabs and Muslims are woman #1 and the baby is the land of Israel. They claim this land is theirs (despite them having conquered it in the 7th century, way after we had been here) and are thus lying like woman #1. Yet they are happy the land burns because it means possibly depriving us of it.

Just like in this story, allow the wisdom of Solomon to once again demonstrate who the true indigenous people of this land are.

There are no more apt words to finish this post than the words of the beautiful Israeli song: “I have no other country, even if its ground is burning”.

Posted in Antisemitism, Israel news, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

All about Amona

A very menacing caravan in Amona

A very menacing caravan in Amona

The community of Amona in the title has been the subject of much controversy over the past couple of years, reaching a head in the last couple of months.

The background to the story is a familiar one in the Israeli domestic landscape. (One caveat – I am writing from memory because I’m having a problem finding links in English. If I have facts wrong, please correct me in the comments and I will edit the post accordingly).

A small settlement, consisting of only about 40 families, was established with government permission or at least without official rejection. The land was purchased by the Jewish settlers (there, I said the bogey-word!) and all was quiet for 20 years (!) until an Arab “owner” was found by Israeli leftists who can’t bear the idea of Jews returning to their ancestral homes. This ostensible Arab owner suddenly “remembered” that part of the land is his and laid a claim to it.

The case went to court, which is where it has been bouncing around ever since. Israel’s hyperactivist High Court ruled in favour of the Arab (of course – it is very rare for the High Court to ever rule in the Jews’ favour). The Israeli government was duly horrified and has tried various tricks of the political trade to try and mitigate the High Court’s ruling.

These tricks have included legislation to retroactively legalize all settlement outposts, (which Sweden expressed deep concern over, as if they have nothing better to be concerned about in their refugee-infused crime-infested cities), setting up a “Cyprus commission” to examine competing land claims in a manner similar to the commission set up in Cyprus to arbitrate between Greek and Turkish claims, and assorted other delaying tactics.

The High Court ordered that compensation be paid to the Arab owner, in which case there is no reason to destroy the community.

Nevertheless it now looks like Amona is going to be destroyed because after all, you cannot have actual Jews living on Jewish land in the Jewish State can you? The world would never be the same!

A very menacing Amona resident with her 2 very dangerous children

An Amona resident with her 2 children

Adding insult to injury, when the government came up with a plan to move the Amona houses a few hundred yards up the road, the US State Department objected to that too! There is no pleasing those Jew-hating politicians.

Meanwhile, the demolition of an illegal Bedouin village in southern Israel has been delayed (via Reality) because of the objections of human rights activists. I wonder if those activists will turn up at Amona on demolition day. Or do human rights only apply to Arabs, and not to Jews?

For more reading on this very painful subject (which I admit I have been avoiding precisely because the outrage at the injustice of the decisions so upsets me), here are some illuminating articles:

Here are eight crucial things you need to know about Amona: (via MP):

1. Jordan had no right to parcel out lands
When the Amona case first reached the Supreme Court, a representative of the land registrar for the IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) argued that despite the fact that the location was a bald and abandoned mountaintop, there existed documented parcels of land which had been registered by the Jordanian government as belonging to area sheiks and clans. However, as an invading and occupying power, Jordan had no right to award these lands. Jordan’s rule over the “West Bank” was not recognized by the vast majority of UN member states save for the UK and Pakistan, and so this local Arab “ownership” is based on a lie.

2. Only 0.5% of the Amona land is registered to private Arab owners
… in Jerusalem Magistrate Court it was discovered that out of the nine Arab petitioners, seven own land that is entirely outside the Amona perimeter, and have had no problem working their land had they been so inclined. The remaining two owned only a sliver – about half an acre altogether, out of the 125 acres of the Amona territory – less than .5%. The remaining land is registered to names of non-existent people who do not appear in the 1967 census.

3. COGAT didn’t differentiate between the parcels with known and unknown ownership
Despite the above facts, the COGAT prosecution related to the parcels whose owners are unknown as being privately owned, declaring that some 15 acres in the southern part of the settlement belonged to real private owners. They then told the court that, in fact, there was no difference between the various parts of the community and that the half-acre that became 15 acres was, in effect, indistinguishable from the rest, and the entire community had to come down.

4. The Settlement Arrangements Act does not violate international law
Regarding the Settlement Arrangements Act, which the left, as well as senior Netanyahu cabinet officials, are saying violates international law, former Tel Aviv University president and international law expert Prof. Yoram Dinstein has argued that “when an occupier appropriates the power to legislate in an occupied territory, said power belongs to the occupying state and not to one of its organs (COGAT).” […]

5. International law compels Israel to care for the rights of Jewish and Arab resident
Another popular argument against the Settlement Arrangements Act is that it violates international law because it sanctions the impounding of Arab owned land for the sake of a Jewish community. However, it has been noted that international law compels the occupier to care for the needs of all the civilians under its rule, Jews and Arabs alike, and the right of a government to expropriate private property for public use, with proper payment of compensation (eminent domain) is inherent in exerting such care.

6. The Settlement Arrangements Act is consistent with the pre-67 law in Judea and Samaria
… the Settlement Arrangements Act is consistent with the legal systems that were in use in Judea and Samaria before 1967. Both Ottoman law and Jordanian law determine that in a case where a man built and planted in good faith land belonging to another, should the value of the construction exceed the value of the land, the land owner is compelled to receive compensation.

7. Israel legislates retroactively when needed
Another argument against the Settlement Arrangements Act is that it retroactively alters a court ruling. But the state of Israel regularly legislates retroactively, as in the amendment that reversed many hundreds of court sentences of Arab terrorists, to facilitate the Gilad Shalit deal with Hamas.

8. The Settlement Arrangements Act is not unconstitutional
Finally, the most crucial argument against the Settlement Arrangements Act is that it is unconstitutional – the constitution in this case being Israel’s Basic Laws. Setting aside the paradox whereby one Knesset law is inapplicable in the territories while the same Knesset’s basic laws are applicable – does Israel’s basic law really dictate that 40 families with their 200 children who have lived in Amona for 20 years be evicted to satisfy the alleged rights of two claimants who own less than .5% of the land and have never lived there? Has the court become so immoral as to be the enemy of its constituents without any foundation?

Caroline Glick, always a very worthwhile read, writes about Amona and the rule of law: She succinctly summarizes the issue and points out the naked bias in the court’s ruling: (emphases are added):

Yehuda Yifrach reported Friday in Makor Rishon that once the suit was filed, the Jerusalem District Court acted to ascertain the actual scope of the ownership rights under question. It was determined that a mere half-acre of Amona was built on lands to which the Palestinians made claim. The rest of their claims pertained to land outside of the community altogether.

In other words, once the actual claims of ownership were examined it worked out that a mere fraction of the community was built on privately owned land. It further worked out that the precise areas that were owned by claimants are non-contiguous and indiscernible, but all were generally located on smidgens of plots on the southern side of the community.

Others have disputed Yifrach’s findings. But that is part of the problem of ascertaining the validity of ownership claims.

At any rate, as Yifrach noted, rather than say that the owners would be compensated for the half acre, whose specific locations were unclear, the Attorney General’s office decided that all the plots that included privately owned land had to be destroyed. Thus the Attorney General’s lawyers magically transformed a half acre into 15 acres, covering the entire southern part of Amona.

The government then decided it would raze only the homes located on those 15 acres and move the families to new homes in Amona on undisputed plots in the northern half of the community.

The Supreme Court would have none of that, however.

The justices insisted that their initial decision that all 60 acres be razed to the ground still stands.

Glick next addresses the Arrangements Law, which was intended to legalize or regulate “illegal” outposts:

Given the specious nature of Mandelblit’s legal reasoning, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that in writing his opinion he was not acting as a lawyer, but as a political activist. Mandelbilt’s purpose was not to protect the rule of law – which his opinion ignores and distorts. Rather his goal was to protect the rule of lawyers who use their positions as officers of the court to advance their political agenda.

Faced with the specter of Mandelblit’s legally unsupported “legal” opinion, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu first tried to get the court to delay the deadline for destroying Amona for several months.

Unsurprisingly, the court, which is fighting not for justice but to prove that it is more powerful than the government, rejected his request.

Caroline Glick’s conclusion is one that we should all pay attnetion to – but unfortunately I am pretty sure our government won’t and certainly our judicial system will studiously ignore:

The timing of this showdown between the rule of law and the rule of lawyers couldn’t be worse. It comes in the twilight of the Obama administration which has shown consistently that the actual legal basis for Israel’s actions in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem is irrelevant.

President Barack Obama and his advisers condemn every action Israel takes because they oppose Israel’s presence in the areas for ideological reasons that have nothing to do with law.

Unfortunately, we can’t always pick the timing of our great battles.

Mandelblit and his comrades have left our lawmakers no choice. They must pass the Arrangements Law, and override Mandelblit. This is the only way to ensure the Knesset’s position as Israel’s lawmaking body is respected.

This is the only way to secure Israel’s position as a nation governed by the rule of law, rather than the rule of unelected, unaccountable lawyers.

It is as much the empowering of our enemies (including our enemies within) as the judicial outrage which infuriates me. “צדק צדק תרדוף”, “Justice, Justice shall you pursue” we are enjoined by the Torah. But the Torah did not mean that we should pursue justice right out of our system.

Justice should be meted out to Israeli Jews as well as to Palestinians. Someone should remind our holier-than-thou activist courts of this point.

Posted in indigenous rights, Israel news, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments