Thursday, December 01, 2005

Unsettled - Jerusalem Post Editorial, Nov. 26, 2005

My comments are in italics; the JPost editorial begins below.
Here is an update on the families uprooted in the destruction of Jewish Gaza by the Israeli government. Those who stayed till the end were threatened with punitively smaller compensation packages for the confiscation of their homes, farms and businesses; those who cooperated with the Sharon regime were promised a more generous package. However, it is clear that PM Sharon and his government are cynically treating all of them with equal scorn, showing scant intention of ever honoring their promises.

The longer the government can delay their promised relocations, the quicker the promised compensation packages simply melt away, since the victims are being billed for their temporary accommodations and storage, while at the same time being held liable for the mortgages and insurance premiums on their confiscated properties as well. While they are being forced into financial and personal ruin by the Sharon regime, the good people of Gush Katif can contemplate this irony: In a sense, since they are still the mortgage-paying property owners, they are now involuntary landlords for the fastest-growing terrorist center in the world. The main street of Neve Dekalim, former capital of Jewish Gaza, has been renamed Arafat Street.

But why? Why this betrayal?

As PM Sharon, at the helm of his new Kadima party, has announced his plan to uproot many more Jewish communities in Israel, I believe that they have chosen to make an example of the remnant of Gush Katif, hoping to induce fear and thereby gain a more craven sort of compliance from the far larger number of Jews in Judea and Samaria whose homes, businesses and synagogues are next on the chopping block.

Avinu Shebashamayim, please hold them accountable for what they have done; please prevent the further evil that they intend. -- Esther.

On the eve of disengagement, a massive government public relations campaign maintained that "there is a solution for each evacuee." Today, more than 100 days after nearly 9,000 Israelis were uprooted, it emerges that there is no solution for many of the evacuees, and indeed there never was.

Many Israelis are indifferent, if not downright hostile to the plight of these fellow citizens. The daily Hatzofeh newspaper recently found a novel way of gauging sentiment by launching a fictional initiative to house evacuees in Tel Aviv. Its make-believe real-estate office, it reported, was inundated with antagonistic responses, hotly opposing the introduction of personas-non-grata into the city.

Families whose world literally came crashing down must somehow cope in this atmosphere of apathy and worse. It need hardly be stressed that officialdom's failure does not distinguish between those who pulled up stakes prior to the deadline and those who stayed put to the last minute.

According to the Government Employment Service, 1,990 of Gush Katif's former residents - 75 percent of the income-earners - are unemployed to date. There's no unemployment office at any of the large evacuee concentrations, including at the fiberglass mobile-home camp in Nitzan. Job offers are scant and the few available are often at minimum wage.

None of the evacuated farmers has yet been compensated and none has received land to cultivate. There hasn't even been remuneration for the hothouses purchased via the World Bank to offer employment to local Palestinians. The World Bank argues that since these hothouses were looted (by Palestinians) there's no obligation to reimburse Israeli farmers who kept their part of the bargain.

In the meantime families eat up the advances on their overall compensation packages, providing such advances were paid. Many families now realize that at this rate they won't have enough money to replace lost homes even with much smaller and inferior accommodations.

Besides having nothing to live on, they must also pay rent for temporary housing, which means further deductions from the compensation package. If that weren't enough, the mortgages for their demolished homes, as well as insurance premiums for razed structures, are deducted regularly from the compensation each family is due. Thus families - whether or not they cooperated with the disengagement authorities - are forced to continue making payments on houses the government demolished.

The least the government can do is pick up the tab or amend the relevant legal regulations.

As things stand now, over 35% of the evacuees are still without even interim housing. They reside in hotels (from which they are also sometimes threatened with eviction), tents or youth hostels.

The Education Ministry does not finance kindergartens for those evacuees still in hotels, hostels and tents. Many school-aged youngsters in these sites still aren't in regular classroom frameworks either. Presumably the government is not deliberately trying to punish these children, or to punish their parents through them. But the reality is bitter.

An immediate concern is the inability of the families to reach their possessions, still locked up in containers. They cannot recover these containers (for which they must also pay rent) until they have a home for all their belongings. This means they are unable to merely unpack some of the items therein and many do not have any of their own winter clothing.

The withdrawal left the lives of many families in shambles. Some youths even ended up in closed psychiatric wards as a result of emotional trauma. They didn't have it coming. Our society can ill afford to look upon such tragedies with equanimity.

This was not how disengagement was supposed to turn out. The lot of these citizens, who bore the brunt of years of terrorism before they lost everything this summer, should appall everyone, opponents and supporters of disengagement alike. This is not a matter of political orientation but one of plain decency. Only in a heartless society would such governmental incompetence or indifference, and the plight it spawns, be allowed to persist.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Going home: Every step is a victory for truth.

Tuvia Grossman, 25, is moving to Israel. He is the young Jewish man from Chicago who had been dragged from a taxi, beaten, stabbed and nearly murdered by an Arab mob in Jerusalem in September, 2000 (Erev Rosh HaShanah). An Israeli soldier stepped in to shield him, probably saving his life.
The New York Times and other major news outlets published a dramatic photo of Tuvia, bloodied, with the visibly angry officer in the background. However, the photo featured an inflammatory caption implying that the victim was a Palestinian being beaten by an Israeli police officer on the Temple Mount.

This incident did not occur on the Temple Mount. A reporter who thinks that there is a gas station on the Temple Mount (examine the background) is either ignorant or blinded by bias. The angry cop is the good guy. The victim is a Jew, not an Arab. The bad guys--not in frame--are the Arabs who tried to murder him. How many key facts can a top news service get wrong in one little caption? Except maybe on purpose.

Please follow links to the historic Arutz Sheva (‘Channel 7’) radio interviews with spokesmen for The New York Times and Associated Press in the wake of the mis-reporting fiasco. These interviews are a revelation of mainstream media arrogance and evasion. AP--the source of the photo for papers around the world--thought that such a profound insult to the suffering of the victim and his family merited an editorial correction but no apology.

This classic instance of media bias--which is used as a textbook case in some journalism classes--led to the founding of

Tuvia Grossman is undeterred by hatred and lies.
He is going home to Israel today.
Every step in his journey is a victory for truth.

For Tuvia's first-hand account and a glimpse of Tuvia as he is today, see the Jerusalem Post: 'Palestinian' Makes Aliyah?

From Israel National News: Terror Victim One of 200 Olim on Way to Israel

(Photo sources: Top photo, Jerusalem Post; bottom photo, Israel National News.)

Monday, September 05, 2005

And now for some good news:
After Five Centuries, Bnai Anousim Visit Israel

From Israel National News

Friday, September 2, 2005 / 28 Av 5765

Twenty Bnai Anousim hailing from Spain, Portugal and Brazil have been touring Israel this week on a solidarity visit.

The tour was arranged by the Jerusalem-based Shavei Israel organization, which assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people. Bnai Anousim is the Hebrew term for people whose ancestors were forcibly converted to Catholicism over five centuries ago, during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. Historians have often referred to them by the derogatory term "Marranos."

The group, which includes a professor, three doctors, a psychiatrist and two psychologists, saw the sights in Tiberias, Haifa, the Golan and Tel Aviv, and spent the Sabbath in Jerusalem, where they paid an emotional visit to the Western Wall.

They also took part in the opening of a new museum-style exhibition organized by Shavei Israel at Heichal Shlomo in Jerusalem which outlines the past, present and future of the Bnai Anousim. Arrangements are already being made for the exhibition to be displayed next year at various universities, community centers and museums across Europe.

“There is a real awakening taking place among the Bnai Anousim, many of whom feel a strong and enduring connection to their Jewish heritage,” said Shavei Israel founder and Chairman Michael Freund. “I believe it is our responsibility to reach out to them, embrace them, and welcome them back home.” For Sarah Quinones, aged 16 from Barcelona, spending time in the land of her forefathers was a profoundly moving experience. “It is difficult for me to explain, but my visiting Israel has helped me to better understand my Jewish identity. Now, I would like to continue on this spiritual search that I have begun.”

Shavei Israel does not proselytize to descendants of Jews, rather the organization responds to personal expressions of desire to return to Judaism. The initial spark may result from a desire to recover a lost heritage, or from an intense need to understand various inherited customs and family traditions. According to Freund, Shavei Israel supports, guides and provides assistance for these personal journeys however varied they may be. The group's work is in complete accordance with Jewish Law and under the ongoing supervision of the Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel.

For more information, contact:

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina & Katif

Some religious Zionists have wondered aloud whether the utter devastation brought by Katrina is somehow related to Gush Katif (a judgment upon America for having pressured Israel on disengagement). I was skeptical about the connection. Then I saw the cover of yesterday’s Daily News. (August 31, 2005)

An officer in a blue-gray uniform evacuates a terrified little girl in an orange T-shirt. For a moment I wondered whether the editor had gotten his New Orleans photo files mixed up with Gush Katif’s—but no. The man’s shoulder patch reads, “Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement.”

The headline: Katrina’s Horror—No Power, No Water, No Food, NO HOPE. NEW ORLEANS TO BE COMPLETELY ABANDONED.

Abandoned--not evacuated. The stories on the following pages are truly heartbreaking. Former mayor of New Orleans: “We’ve lost our city. I fear it’s potentially like Pompeii.”

It gets eerie. Pages 2/3 are a spread with the headline: NEW ORLEANS THE LOST CITY. I hate to read too much into apparent coincidences, but I have to mention this. Page 2 features a rescue ‘copter doing an airlift. The aircraft is orange. Right next to it is a picture of a traumatized woman being lifted from a rowboat. The boat is also orange.

Friday, August 26, 2005

When you have a moment of clarity:
Remember and Do

After reviewing the reports and images of the expulsions last night on Arutz-7, I could not sleep. Out of that sleepless night came a moment of clarity, distilled down to a logo.
Remember. Jewish Gaza and Shomron will arise and prosper, long after the people who committed this wicked betrayal have gone to their reward. May they find t’shuvah in this life.
We live in the day of Israel’s Return and that is the task of this Jewish generation. You may not be called upon to complete this great work, but neither are you free to abandon it.
Anything I am doing that does not advance this dust.

Clear? Crystal.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Media Party Special appearance: Terror chief Zakaria Zubeidi

Top terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi made “guest appearance” in video prepared by Reuters staff as “going away” gift for colleague, Ynetnews has learned

By Yaakov Lappin

TEL AVIV - Close buddies? Top terrorist Zakaria Zubeidi made a “guest appearance” in a video prepared by the staff of Reuters news agency in Israel and the Palestinian Authority as a “going away” gift for a colleague, Ynetnews has learned.

Zubeidi, who heads Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin, has been named by security officials as a key figure in organizing terror attacks on Israeli civilians.

Zubeidi’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have claimed responsibility for more than 300 terror acts in the last five years. A Reuters
spokeswoman confirmed the video’s existence, but said the London-based news organization is “not associated with any group or faction in any conflict.”

The screening, which occurred in a Jerusalem restaurant last March, involved the showing of a video during a private party. "The video's theme was what Israel would be like in 10 years," said an Israeli government official who attended the party and viewed the video. "All of a sudden, at the end, there is Zakaria Zubeidi, playing the head of Reuters. Zubeidi was sitting in Reuters' Jenin office, saying he was Reuters’ chief,” the official said. 'They thought video was hilarious.'

The party included guests from the BBC, ITN, the Independent newspaper, and French journalists. "They all thought the video was hilarious, "the official said. He added that only a few individuals did not seem amused during the screening.

"They were laughing; they thought it was very funny, he said.”

Reuters spokeswoman Susan Allsopp said in a statement to Ynetnews that the film “was a spoof video put together for a departing member of staff by a few of his colleagues in Israel and the Palestinian territories. It was shown at a private farewell party and was meant to be humorous.

“As soon as editorial management in Jerusalem became aware of the video they told the staff involved that Reuters found it to be inappropriate and in poor taste,” the statement said. “The member of staff for whom the party had been held has never met Mr. Zubeidi. Reuters would like to make it clear that it is not associated with any group or faction in any conflict.”

Sunday, August 14, 2005

No comparison... nope, none at all.

<bitter irony warning> I am so happy and relieved that the president of Israel has cleared it all up for us now--there is no connection between the expulsion and Tisha B'Av. You see, this time Jews will merely deport fellow Jews. The rest of the world will be glad to take care of the rest: imprisonment, murder, desecration. But this expulsion is a good start. </bitter irony warning>

Israel National News -- Aug 14, '05 / 9 Av 5765

( President Moshe Katsav on Sunday afternoon met with members of the Gesher organization which promotes dialogue between Israelis.

During the event, the president told Rabbi Chaim Druckman, a prominent nationalist rabbi and leader of Bnei Akiva that a comparison cannot be made between Tisha B’Av and the disengagement, adding that the disengagement is not destruction and not the end.