Thursday, February 2. 2006
Testimonies: Teenagers Tell How the Police Beat Them
By Hillel FendelArutz Sheva - February 2, 2006
Teenagers all over the country are trying to recover from the mostly unprovoked physical blows they suffered at Amona yesterday, and even more so from the emotional duress they are experiencing. The banner draped from one of the Amona houses reads, "Every house that is destroyed is a victory for Hamas."Yechiam Eyal, 15, of Psagot, was atop one of the houses slated for destruction, together with many others. When the police arrived - stepping off the shovel of a giant bulldozer that lifted them up and crossing over the barbed wire - the boys on the roof went to one side and sat down.
At that point, says Yechiam's brother Yotam,
"the police just came over to them and started bashing. One policeman hit my brother three times on the arm, and apparently broke it. Afterwards they smashed him on the head, and that caused his condition to deteriorate. No policeman took the trouble to help him, and they kept on pushing him even after he was bleeding from the head. Once in the ambulance, they gave him something to put him out." Yechiam regained consciousness over the night, and has even begun to speak.
The ambulance driver, who came to visit Yechiam Thursday afternoon, said, "What really happened in the ambulance is that his condition deteriorated to the point that I had to perform resuscitation for a minute and a half."
"The police came with the purpose of killing," another brother, Amotz, concluded. A soldier in the Paratroopers Brigade, Amotz received permission not to take part in the Amona operation. "I give my all to this country, and then it comes and spits in my face," he said.
The Amona community leadership asks that everyone who was hit in the head by police clubs be checked medically. The request was issued after it was learned that some teenagers hit in the head yesterday discovered only today the symptoms of a concussion.
Avraham Fishman, a photographer from Kedumim, related the following story:
"I was sitting inside one of the houses, with some 40-50 others in the living room - yes, it was very crowded, and there were many more in the other rooms - and our plan was that when the police would come in, we would sit in a line and be dragged out... I was photographing, and my video shows that when the police came in, they did not allow us this option; they said quite clearly, 'Either you leave on your own or we beat you' - and they did ...
"One policeman is seen hitting someone over and over and over, and I was hit by three policeman. You can see clearly in the pictures how everyone is sitting; no one cursed them or anything."
Fishman's video, which shows police beating civilians engaged in classic passive civil disobedience, can be seen below.
Click "play" below to watch the video
click here if video does not appear
Rivka K., 14, of the Ulpanah in Ofrah:
"We were a bunch of girls standing around the 6th house, trying to be a passive force against the police entry into the house. With no warning, the police just rushed us, crushed us, hit us with their clubs... Many of the girls fell down, and then I found myself on the floor, alone, and then two policemen started dragging me away on the rocky ground, and at the same time another one was hitting me, and mocking me: 'Go home, little girl.' Then he stopped, and another one started hitting me. They dragged me to a pole, and continued to mock me. Then they left me...
"As I looked around to join my friends, I kept seeing more and more people getting beaten up, and I kept on crying again and again."
Rivka was speaking this morning from the site of the destroyed homes in Amona, where she and several dozen others had arrived to clean up the garbage and rubble left behind. She said that some people had already begun "rebuilding" one of the ruins out of doors and bricks.
Shlomit T., 13, Beit El:
"I was standing with other girls, forming a line around one of the houses. Our goal was to prevent the police from coming in to the building, using passive resistance. We knew, for reasons of modesty and the like, that we would try just to talk with the police when they came, and certainly not to fight. We were standing with our arms locked together when the police came rushing down on us and didn't even give us a chance. They started right away with the clubs, one policeman hit me in the leg, then he pulled me and I said, 'Stop, I can go by myself,' and he threw me down on the ground and then hit me with his club on my face, right near my eye. I was dizzy for a couple of seconds, and then I got up and was able to get away... My face was swollen for a while, but I had an x-ray and I'm much better now."
Elazar K., 19, a student in Yeshivat Beit Orot:
"We were outside the houses, planning to stand in a line and show passive resistance. We were standing near the two big barriers of bricks and burning tires. Then the policemen came, and started advancing towards us, with their horses, like a big powerful wave. On the level above us we could see horses scattering the girls...
"They first came to us and merely touched us, then they went back - without talking to us at all - and then they came again, but this time charging towards us with full force, hitting us also with their clubs. I fell down from the force of a blow, and somehow made my way backwards - and then I felt my head and realized that I was full of blood. I made my way to the medics on the side, where they gave me initial treatment, and then to another station where army medics were treating us. Some of us refused treatment from the army medics, saying, 'First you smash us and then you treat us?' I was in no position to do this, but I showed them the irony of the situation...
"In the ambulance with me was someone who had been expelled from Gush Katif, and the medics said he had a broken jaw. Speaking with difficulty, he said that some [special police unit] Yassamnikim had set upon him, even though he wasn't really doing anything, and threw him to the ground and laid into him with blows. Luckily for me, the Yassamnikim didn't attack me; it was only the police...
"Once in the hospital, I saw about 30 of 'our' guys come in with bad injuries, in the head, ribs, neck and the like - and only one injured policeman brought in."
Elazar A., from Carmel in the South Hevron Hills region, was also standing between the two lines of bricks and burning tires when he was attacked. He told his story shortly after getting his broken finger set:
"We were set upon with policemen swinging their clubs. I received many blows to my arms and legs, and one extra sharp one that broke my finger. But then, I got an even bigger one on my head, causing a wound that ended up having to be double-glued... I fell down, and over my body, they kept on hitting other people. Finally someone got me out of there, and later I was taken out on a stretcher...
"Once in the hospital, I was sitting there with four others who had been hurt, and there was one Border Guard policeman who was also hurt. When he saw us, he started yelling at us and getting up to throw something at us, until he was restrained by some people there."
Naamah G., 15, Beit El:
"I was on the roof of the fifth house, and the police came from behind, where we did not expect them. One of the policemen just came over to me, grabbed my ponytail and began twirling me around by my hair. Then he gave me a slap and a few others also hit me very hard, and I ran towards my friends. Then they started dragging us, with one of them choking me very painfully by sticking his finger under my chin..."
Phone and fax numbers of relevant officials:
Police Chief Karadi - 02 5308100 fax 02 530 8118
President Moshe Katzav - phone: 02 6707211, fax 02 5671314
State Comptroller's Office - 02 666 5000, fax 02 666 5204
PM's Spokesman - 02 5666920 fax 02 566 9245
PM Olmert's personal spokesman - 02 6662301 fax 02 666 4400
Chief Rabbi Metzger 02 5377872
Chief Rabbi Amar 02 5371305
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2. Cracks Between Religious-Zionist Public and Army
By Hillel Fendel
IDF Commander "disappointed" by Supreme Court; IDF officer arrested for leaking info of planned destruction in Amona; calls are repeated not to enlist in the IDF; soldiers request to leave army.
photos are from hashkafah.com
The Military Police arrested a young 2nd Lieutenant last night on suspicion of having leaked Amona operational plans to anti-destruction protestors. He was interrogated, and if the suspicions are substantiated, he stands to be indicted by the Military Prosecution.
O.C. Central Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh - the yarmulke-wearing brother of former Health Minister Danny Naveh of the Likud - made statements irksome to both sides in the current dispute. Yesterday, he said the police "were close to being in danger of their lives" from the youths in Amona. This morning, it has been learned that during the destruction, he hinted at criticism of the Supreme Court.
Arutz-7's Haggai Huberman heard Naveh say, "I hoped and prayed - because I knew that we would reach a high level of violence - that the settlers would receive Supreme Court approval. Unfortunately, the Court decided otherwise."
Naveh was referring to the ruling of yesterday morning shortly before 10 AM. Six hours earlier, Justice Elyakim Rubenstein had issued an interim order, at the request of the Binyamin Regional Council, against the destruction. A three-justice panel convened at 8: 30 AM, and by a majority of Justices Edna Arbel and Ayala Procaccia against Rubenstein, rejected the request to delay the destruction by a week in order to afford another chance at finding a peaceful solution.
Naveh said, "I tried up until the last second to reach an understanding, and even during the events themselves... This is not a success, but rather a failure on everyone's part. It was clear to all that this would be violent."
Eran Sternberg, who served as spokesman for Gush Katif, renewed his call for the religious-Zionist public to cut off ties, at least temporarily, with the IDF. "There is no question that in light of the catastrophic situation developing in front of our eyes," Sternberg said, "it is impossible to continue to live in illusions. It is now clear that it is no longer just an issue of a specific order, but rather an entire army operating and educating its soldiers to an ethos of destruction."
"Only if we suspend our enlistment and cut off our ties with the IDF," Sternberg said, "can we send a sharp, non-violent message that is worth more than 1,000 barricaded roofs."
Refusal within the IDF to take part in the operation was not as widespread as in the case of the disengagement, but some instances did occur. Among them are the following:
The personal driver of the Deputy Battalion Commander responsible for the destruction refused to take part in the destruction, saying he is willing to stand trial for his decision.
In addition, following yesterday's events, an IDF officer in an elite reserve unit sent a letter to his commander, turning in his stripes. The letter states, "I feel, like my entire population sector, persecuted, humiliated, and the target of repression in every corner. After Gush Katif, when I saw the 'army of the people' expelling Jews from their homes with no compassion and destroying entire communities with no hesitation, and thereby destroying families - I had terrible doubts as to whether I could continue in this army... When I put on my uniform, I felt nauseated... Yesterday, on my way home [to Yesha], an officer stopped me [at the roadblocks preventing protestors from reaching Amona] and asked me who I am and where I'm going. I answered, 'I'm just like you, an officer in the same army as you.' He said, 'So what? Show me your ID card.' At that moment I felt that he and I are not in the same army, or maybe he's in the army and I'm not; I felt like a suspected terrorist who has to show his identity card... I always wanted to volunteer as much as possible - but that's it; no more. This is not the army of the people, but rather a political army that is motivated only by self-fulfillment and advancement, no ideology... I hereby return my ranks to the IDF; I have no desire for them, they only make me ashamed. I no longer want to be in this army."
He later explained that though the police were those who used excessive violence, but "the commanders of the operation were leading IDF figures Yair Naveh and Yosh Division Commander Yair Golan."
Arutz-7 also received a copy of another letter from an IDF sergeant asking Chief Reserves Officer Brig.-Gen. Ariel Heiman to exempt him from reserve service. "The return of the army to its original goals will open the door to my return to the army," the letter concludes.
One man said on television, "I fought in Israel's wars, and helped liberate Jerusalem. For 30 years I have been giving inspiring talks at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, describing the heroic battle and how the State of Israel won - but no more. I won't do it again."
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A New CD Lights from the Darkness
The wonderful people that were expelled from their homes taught us something new - in their darkest hour - they sang! The Disk includes a video of the last days and 12 songs which were sung in the Batei Knesset in Gush Katif.
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3. Katzav Condemns Amona Violence; ?Special Knesset Session Called
By Hillel Fendel
President M. Katzav has criticism of both sides in yesterday's Amona violence, B'Tselem calls for an investigation, and the Knesset Speaker has agreed to a Likud/Shas request for a special session.
President Moshe Katzav said that "red lines" were crossed yesterday, and that what happened in Amona is "intolerable." He said that the police must explain why they used horses and clubs, and chastised the settlement enterprise leaders for organizing the protest without controlling the protestors.
Katzav said he accepts Labor MK Yuli Tamir's call for a public commission of inquiry into the events.
The B'Tselem civil rights organization, too, has asked Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to order an investigation into the "excessive police violence" during the evacuation/destruction of the homes in Amona.
B'Tselem says that illegal orders may have been handed down, and that individual policemen must be investigated for acting with violence towards protestors who did not actively resist.
Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz, who met with President Katzav, joined his call for an inquiry - but directed his anger at the settlers. "A settler must not raise his hand against a soldier or policeman," he said, "and the police deserve our full support."
The National Religious Party said it would also demand a national inquiry. NRP head MK Zevulun Orlev said that according to what he has learned, "most of the protestors exhibited only passive resistance, and yet despite this, the police used strong violence that led to the injuring of 200 people."
The Yesha Council, as well, demands an investigation into the violence of yesterday. The organization will hold a large rally in Jerusalem this coming Sunday to demand as much. Yesha Council leader Pinchas Wallerstein said,
"There is no doubt that the police received instructions to hit us without provocation. Whoever was in the houses was hit, even if they just sat on the floor arm-in-arm. The police came with their clubs to break our bones."
As an example, Kiryat Arba resident Rabbi Shraga Orazi, 50, was in one of the houses - and was hit mercilessly, precisely after he informed a Yassam policeman that he was ill. "We agreed beforehand that none of us would raise a hand to the police," Rabbi Orazi told Arutz-7's Ruth Avrahami, "and we would simply sit in our places... When the police burst in, they immediately began hitting us."
The rabbi, who suffers from asthma and type-1 diabetes, said,
"I turned to one of the policemen and asked him not to hit me because I was sick. When he heard this, I saw his eyes light up, and he started to hit me with great zest, over and over."
Click here for Arutz-7's IsraelNN Television report on Rabbi Orazi.
The extremist Peace Now organization responded: "The demand for a commission of inquiry is miserable, unnecessary mistake."
In response, Yesha Council Director Avner Shimoni said, "If Peace Now thinks it's a mistake, then apparently they know something that the rest of the country does not." Peace Now was responsible for the original court suit that led to the destruction of the nine Amona homes.
Shimoni said that the Yesha Council will soon submit a Supreme Court petition demanding the destruction of over 30,000 illegal Arab-sector structures that have been declared illegal.
A Russian Neo-Nazi site appears proud to inform its readers of what it calls the "pogrom" in Amona. Headlining its story, "Massive Anti-Jewish Pogrom... in Israel," the site feature photos depicting some of the most extreme violence in Amona. One of the pictures is captioned, "These are not Russian Kosssaks - these are Israeli mounted troops."
The site provides background for the story by explaining,
"Israeli police stormed the Jewish settlement of Amona... The evacuation of this small settlement, numbering nine houses, established a few years ago with Sharon's consent, started with the confirmation of the Supreme Court. Citizens of Amona and Ultra-Right Jewish organizations, numbering 2,000 people, concentrated in Amona in its defense. Against them were arraigned 2,000 soldiers and about 3,000 police. In the end, the eviction transformed into a huge Jewish Pogrom, in which the role of the attackers was played by... Jews. We [hereby] bring to your attention to a photo essay of the eviction of Amona."
Twelve people are still hospitalized following yesterday's violence in Amona. MK Effie Eitam (National Union), spent the night in the hospital with a head wound, and was released this afernoon. Fifteen-year-old Yechiam Eyal of Psagot, who was rendered unconscious by the police violence, is now listed in moderate condition. The others are in light condition.
Thirty-four people were arrested yesterday, and 19 of them are still in prison. Four have already been indicted.
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4. Divorce from the State?
By Hillel Fendel
Menorah Hazani is a young mother who was among the expellees from Homesh in the Shomron last summer and who was at Amona yesterday. In an article for Ynet today, she wrote:
"It will take me days to recover from what I saw, and I will not forgive the policemen and the Magavnikim (Border Policemen)... I saw the black swarms of policemen walking by me, with no beginning and no end, like a large mass without identity, and something within me cried out a long and bitter cry...
"I knew there was no point in talking with them; they are brainwashed and closed, and nothing would move them any longer. They are experienced in expulsion and destruction, and ever since the destruction of Gush Katif and northern Shomron, the craving of the animal of destruction has just grown...
"If there was something good in the expulsion, it is the awakening of our [religious-Zionist] public from the unconditional loyalty to the State, and the understanding that an [Israel] without Jewish identity is pointless and faceless...
"The beautiful youth that was there - 'the precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold' - whom I salute for their courage against the wild black animal - has turned into a national enemy. Everyone persecutes them everywhere: in the courts, they treat them with all stringency as if they were dangerous criminals, in the jails they humiliate them mercilessly - undressing them, preventing them from having tefillin and kosher food, putting innocent ulpanah [religious high school] girls together with dangerous and violent criminals - and the media long ago targeted them and makes sure to jab them morning and evening. Even the leaders of the religious-Zionist public, if such a thing still exists, remember to condemn them every once in a while without knowing for what or why.
"But truly, why? Everyone knows that this youth has a new message. They are not ashamed of their Jewish identity and their love for Land and Nation. This youth goes with long sidecurls and large yarmulkes, and its beautiful eyes dream dreams that the average Israeli cannot digest. These are scary dreams, because they are of a sober, clear-eyed Jewish nationalistic character.
"This youth is the enemy of the 'state of all its citizens' [as opposed to a 'state of the Jews'] that [Chief Justice] Aharon Barak wants to lead. They don't have the apologetics and natural head-bowing toward the generation of their parents. And when there is no leadership and no clear statement - these youths are they who set the tone."
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5. Exclusive Arutz-7 Photos From Amona
By Ezra HaLevi
Arutz-7 has published a series of photo essays documenting the events in Amona.
Click here for photos of those injured in the clashes.
Click here for a photo essay about the determined struggle waged by Land of Israel protestors and young people evicted from their homes in Gaza and northern Samaria.
Click here for an inside view of the activists the streamed toward Amona to face the security forces.
Click here for initial photos sent from the scene via cellular phone and shots of injured Knesset Members Effie Eitam and Aryeh Eldad.
Click here for a photo essay prior to the destruction offering a glimpse of the community of Amona, most of which was not destroyed.
Other sites with photos from Amona include: SultanKnish
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6. Police Strip Shirt Off Jewish Mother During Protest
By IsraelNN Staff
During a protest at the Shiloh junction north of Amona, a dozen police jumped a mother of nine, delivered strong blows to all parts of her body and then stripped off her shirt in public.
The woman, who recently gave birth, told her story to our correspondent on condition of anonymity. She explained that she is ashamed to gain publicity for being stripped in public by the police.
Click here to listen to an eyewitness account
The incident began when a small group of people, including women and children, began a protest at the police roadblock against the demolition of homes in Amona. One girl crossed the road, and an officer told her to move out of the way. When she talked back to the officer, a policewoman teamed up with the officer, and they pushed her with force to the ground.
"At this point," said the mother of nine, "I approached the officers and told them that they were using excessive force for no reason. A friend of mine tried to take a picture of the policewoman's badge, but it was tilted to the side. I extended my hand to straighten her badge, and my friend took the picture." According to the mother, the badge displayed the name: Yana Rosenfeld, #7467875.
"Yana ripped her badge away from me and called out to all the policemen there to arrest me. Within seconds, a dozen officers approached me to arrest me. They grabbed me, pushed me to the ground, and kicked me in my stomach, head, and all parts of my body. Yana kicked me right in my womb. Yana was yelling, 'Hit her hard. Smash her.'"
Naomi Shachor, wife of the chief Rabbi of nearby Maaleh Levonah, came over when she saw the policemen trying to arrest a protestor. Naomi says,
"We were trying to pull her back towards us. They grabbed her… I saw her on the ground, and they started to pull off her sweater… The ones who did it and pushed her were men... It was a very terrible and shocking moment for me. I am still trying to get myself together from it."
The assaulted mother continued,
"As they assaulted me, they began ripping my shirt. With no shame, several officers deliberately ripped off my shirt, and I was left there exposed. At this point, I started resisting so strongly that they backed off of me a bit, I grabbed my shirt from an officer who was holding it, and fled away in shame."
Naomi added, "I felt a lot of shame for her. I felt they crossed a border line that we thought we had, and apparently we don't have anymore. This is part of our modesty... We tried to talk to them afterwards, and they didn't want to understand. [I tried to explain to them] that this is something that shouldn't have been done. We were women; we were standing there democratically speaking out what we think should be said, conveying our feelings without anything else, and it was wrong to do it. [To see policemen violate the dignity of] a woman, a young mother...
"I am a history teacher. I saw photographs of that from a different era, and I cannot erase [those images]... I will not say what era – everyone knows. My feelings are very hurt about it. The policemen expressed no regret. We kept on trying to put some sense in them. [She was there exposed] in the upper half."
According to the assaulted mother who returned to the road, the policewoman who had the badge "Yana Rosenfeld" disappeared for several minutes and returned with a different badge bearing the name: "Chaya Cohen."
The incident did not deter the mother from future activism:
"The Land of Israel is in our veins. My husband and I will continue to act for the sake of the Land and will educate our children to appreciate its value."
The assaulted mother and eyewitnesses say they have names and badge numbers of other policemen who participated in the stripping.
Arutz-7's request of the police for comment on this story has gone unanswered.
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7. Violent Incidents Throughout the Rest of Israel
By Alex Traiman
While world attention was focused on violence between brutal Israeli police and youth in Amona, the rest of Israel was contending with multiple violent terrorist incidents over the past 48 hours.
IDF soldiers arrested two 18-year-old Arabs Thursday attempting to smuggle 12 pipe bombs through the Hawara checkpoint near the heavily Arab-populated town of Shechem, commonly referred to as Nablus.
The assailants were initially spotted by a female police officer celebrating her 20th birthday. The two Arabs, including one female, were taken for interrogation and IDF sappers were called to safely detonate the bombs. It is not yet clear which terror organization dispatched the bombers, or where they were heading.
Several Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli cars traveling near Kalkilya Thursday. A bus and a car were damaged in the attack, though no injuries were reported. A firebomb was also thrown at an IDF vehicle entering the Arab-controlled city.
A car was similarly attacked in a separate firebomb incident at the Yakir Junction near the Israeli city of Ariel in the Shomron (Samaria).
Also Thursday, Arabs opened fire on IDF engineering vehicles near the electronic fence along the border with southern Gaza. The vehicles suffered damage, but no injuries were reported.
Six Kassam rockets were fired by terrorists from Arab-controlled Gaza since Wednesday. One of the rockets landed in the southern section of Ashkelon's industrial area. Ashkelon is Israel's fifth largest city, situated along the southern Mediterranean coast. The city is home to one of Israel's largest power generators, and other sensitive infrastructures.
Two other rockets fell short of Ashkelon, landing in the areas of Karmiah and Zikim, situated between Northern Gaza and Ashkelon.
Thursday's fourth rocket landed in Gaza's Erez Industrial zone. No injuries or property damage have been reported.
One person was lightly injured Wednesday, when two Kassams landed in the southern Israeli city of Sderot. One rocket landed near a community center, and the other fell in the northern section of the city. A number of vehicles were reported damaged in the attacks.
On Wednesday evening, Israelis were targeted in a Molotov cocktail attack southwest of Jerusalem, near Bethlehem. The assailants missed their intended targets, and did not cause any significant damage. One suspected firebomber was arrested following the incident.
The IDF reports that 13 wanted terrorists were arrested Wednesday night by security forces. Three Islamic Jihad and two Hamas terrorists were arrested near the Arab controlled city of Tulkarem. Tanzim operatives were arrested in Beitillu, northwest of Ramallah, and on the outskirts of the Gush Etzion region. A third Tanzim member was arrested in Bani Naim, southeast of Hevron, where an Islamic Jihad terrorist was captured as well. Four wanted PFLP operatives were arrested in the village of Beit Furik, south of Shechem.
Two Arabs infiltrated Israel from the Lebanese border on Wednesday. One of the Arabs was armed and reportedly fired at soldiers in an IDF outpost in the Har Dov region. Israeli soldiers opened fire, eliminating one of the infiltrators.
The Har Dov region is the scene of frequent terror attacks by Hizbullah. There have been several recent threats that the terror organization may attempt to kidnap Israeli soldiers. Defense forces remain on high alert.
A smoke grenade was thrown in the Arrivals Hall at Ben Gurion Airport on Wednesday. The assailant was caught by security personnel and handed over to police for questioning. No injuries were reported in the incident.
In an incident of internal Arab violence in Gaza, a three-kilogram explosive was hurled at the Khan Yunis home of senior Fatah official Suleiman Abu Mutlak on Wednesday morning. Palestinian Authority sources report that Mutlak's home as well as neighboring homes were damaged. The Fatah agent, who was home at the time of the bombing, was uninjured, and has blamed Hamas for the attack.
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8. Fundamentally Freund: Israel's State of the Union
By Michael Freund
After army bulldozers demolished the Jewish community of Amona and Hamas terrorists prepare to take the reins of power in Gaza, it's worth taking a moment to contemplate Israel’s State of the Union.
Domestically, the Government is dividing the nation by continuing to expel Jews from their homes in the Land of Israel. An entire sector of the public is being targeted, its values and belief system callously trampled, all for the sake of Ehud Olmert’s election campaign.
The residents of Amona offered a number of compromise proposals in order to avert a confrontation, but Mr. Olmert seemed determined to put on a messy little show, in the hopes of consolidating his support among left-wing voters.
Mr.Olmert would do well to heed the words of US President George W. Bush, whose State of the Union address before Congress last night included the following words:
“…even tough debates can be conducted in a civil tone, and our differences cannot be allowed to harden into anger. To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of goodwill and respect for one another -- and I will do my part. Tonight the state of our Union is strong -- and together we will make it stronger. “
Can Israel’s Acting Prime Minister make a similar claim? Hardly.
Moreover, Mr. Olmert seems determined to carry out further withdrawals from Judea and Samaria, sending a thinly-veiled hint to this effect last night when he said that his Kadima party would draw the country’s final borders.
Here, too, Mr. Olmert should consider well what Mr. Bush had to say last night:
“In a time of testing, we cannot find security by abandoning our commitments and retreating within our borders. If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone. They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores. There is no peace in retreat. And there is no honor in retreat.”
And so, in these perilous times, America can be grateful that it has a leader of vision and courage who is willing to mend internal disputes even as he confronts his country’s external foes.
And Israelis can only look on with envy and wonder: when will we too merit to have a leader of similar fortitude?
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