I was honoured to receive an email from Dr Naftali Moses who lost is firstborn son Avraham David in the attack on Mercaz HaRav in 2008.
Naftali writes about his book, “Mourning Under Glass“.
Nothing can prepare one for the loss of a child. Nothing can prepare a parent to hear the news of a terror attack and slowly discover that his son is among the eight shot down in cold blood. Nothing can prepare a father for the heartrending pain that burying his firstborn son brings. On March 6, 2008, my sixteen-year-old
son, Avraham David, was killed while studying in the Mercaz HaRav library in Jerusalem. On that day my life changed forever.
In the first year of mourning my son, I often felt torn between the intimacy of loss and its public expression. In one tragic moment, my son had become a “martyr,” and I, a “bereaved parent.” Having already buried his body, I worried how I could ever preserve his memory under the frequently too-bright lights of public attention. Mourning Under Glass explores the tensions between memory and memorial, between private pain and public mourning. Can any of our attempts at memorial adequately recall an extinguished life? Can any give voice to the nearly ineffable pain of loss?
Dr Moses website is here:
He will be presenting at Limmud this year.
I promised to show you these images and here they are in a gallery for your perusal.
Well, I’m back and a lot has happened in the few days since I returned from Israel.
Fatah and Hamas have come together in unholy matrimony after years of slaughtering each other and vying politically for dominance of Palestinian society in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Why? Why now?
Why do two factions suddenly decide to make nice whilst holding a knife behind their back ready to plunge into their new friends’ chest?
For months Fatah have been pursuing Plan B: to have the UN support the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state on the so-called 1967 ‘borders’. Plan A was to continue or restart peace talks with Israel.
But Plan A stalled because Fatah and the Palestinian Authority are incapable of making peace with Israel. They have carefully cultivated an image of peace-seeking victims who have abjured terrorism and military action and pursue diplomacy.
Even though the PA continues to demonise Israel, to deny Jewish rights to any of the land, to regurgitate anti-Semitic narratives in the media and in the schools, its public and international face is one of the noble victim.
Creating a state on the 1967 ceasefire lines is a risky policy for reasons I have previously discussed; principal risk is that if Palestine equates to the land beyond the Green Line, then surely Israel equates to the land behind the Green Line.
This amounts to a de facto recognition of a permanent and settled view of Israel and makes it difficult, in theory, to pursue the long-term goal of a state from the River to the Sea.
The Palestinians are aware but are determined to continue to tear up all the Oslo Accords and go against all UN Resolutions; to nullify 60 years of history, negotiation, legally binding agreements. Tear it all up and go headlong for a unilateral declaration and bypass Israel. Something only possible because so many countries, member states of the UN, are conniving at this attempt to stamp all over Israel’s right to a negotiated peace.
A big stumbling-block to the UN recognition of a viable Palestinian state is the severed limb that is the Gaza Strip run by the Hamas preventing a unified state on all the land of the PA. Without this unity a UN vote in favour of a state will be more difficult, if not impossible.
So the conversation between Hamas and Fatah must have gone something like this:
Fatah: Will you marry me? It is a marriage of convenience. We need you to pretend we are married but we cannot consummate the marriage because we just don’t love each other and we have a different strategy to fulfil our goal of destroying Israel. But we’ll never be able to fulfil our dearest wish unless we appear to be unified.
Hamas: So you really want to destroy Israel? Why do you recognise their right to exist? We can never accept this.
Fatah: Just think. Our own state, a base from which we can pursue our next step: the Right of Return. Once we have a state and we can flood Israel with Palestinians, their pathetic democracy will mean that eventually we will have political supremacy.
We can still attack Israel and allow our military wings to continue the struggle whilst condemning their actions. We will have the political and diplomatic mastery whilst continuing the struggle. If they attack us, the world will condemn.
Hamas: What’s in it for us?
Fatah: we will allow you to continue with operations whilst we hold elections. We must have the semblance of democracy. We both want the same thing. Let the people decide whose method to follow. Let’s marry so we can destroy the Zionists.
Hamas: We agree. But we will win. Our marriage will be annulled as soon as we have attained our goal.
Fatah: So be it. Now let’s put together a joint statement….
So this first marriage is a sham designed to achieve stage one of the destruction of Israel which has always been the goal of both Hamas and Fatah. The terrible truth is that all negotiations have always been in bad faith.
Once there is an internationally recognised state will the Palestinians have a more just cause in the eyes of the world to rise up against the occupier and attack illegal settlers? What will the status of 1/2 million Israelis be?
The result can only be a severe escalation in violence. And the world will blame Israel once again.
Just as the West is crowing about the Arab Spring and all those wonderful freedom-loving democracies of which not one has yet materialised, the UN may be backing the creation of a new, undemocratic, terrorist state.
Go figure. Yeah, you got it in one; it’s OK because Israel is involved.
Wedding No. 2
William Wales and Catherine Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
I didn’t think this had anything to do with Israel until a correspondent in Jerusalem, an ex-pat Brit and a religious Jew, wrote to me that he had just discovered the true meaning of the hymn Jerusalem and would never enjoy it again. And he added that the Royal Family had Nazi roots.
I took great exception to both these assertions. There followed a series of emails trying to convince me that George VI was a Nazi or at least a Nazi lover. Several references to the Mountbattens and other royals and their Nazi sympathies proved, he claimed, that the Royal Family was Nazi, anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist.
I won’t rehearse the discussion, it was my reaction that was important. Why should I spring to the defence of the Royal Family?
It’s all about loyalty and national identity. It tells me I am truly British and I won’t take such defamation even from an Israeli Jew. The possibility that there may be a thread of truth in what he says is difficult to confront because of these loyalties, even though I am not a great royalist.
I don’t believe the current Royal Family is Nazi in any way, that is absurd, but there may some anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism lurking, unspoken. After all, there has never been a State visit to Israel whilst the Gulf states are good friends of the royals despite their appalling human rights records. Or do the royals just do what their government tells them?
The royal couple were reported to be intending honeymooning in Jordan. A strange choice. Maybe a quick trip to Israel whilst they are there would be nice. I think not. We don’t want to be upsetting any of Britain’s Arab interests, do we.
As for Jerusalem, the hymn, music by Hubert Parry, I am aware that it is about William Blake’s vision of England as a New Jerusalem and its Christian message does not offend my Jewish sensibilities in any way. When I watch the Last Night of the Proms I am more than happy to sing along even though I know its about Jesus striding across the hills of England. Who cares? The music is sublime and the words uplifting.
And, more food for thought, the royal wedding had both a hymn called Jerusalem and the glorious ‘I was Glad’, also by Parry, based on Psalm 122, which asks us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. A Psalm which we are told was written by King David himself.
So Jerusalem was at the very heart of this wedding and Jewish liturgy at the core of the ceremony, its most moving moment as Kate floated down the aisle with her father to the rousing strains of ‘I Was Glad’ – was there a dry eye in the house?
Earlier this week we awoke to the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by US Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan. He was then buried at sea.
Celebrations in the West left me cold.
Sorry, I cannot rejoice at the death of any man. This does not mean that I don’t believe that it was right to kill him. I would have preferred that he were brought to justice but that was probably impractical. I can also understand people in New York and Washington feeling that justice has been done.
The significance of sending in an assassination squad to kill a terrorist is this: if it’s OK for the US to kill a terrorist in this way and for the leaders of the Western world to applaud this action, then surely it is OK for Israel to eliminate terrorists?
In the future, Israel can say, ‘what is the difference between our action and that of the US? If you do not condemn them, then why do you condemn us? If it is legal for them, then it is legal for us.’
This state assassination, however justified morally, if it is justifiable morally, poses questions for the future and, indeed, for the present; after all, is not Nato ambiguously attacking Col. Gaddafi in Libya in order to ‘protect civilians’. What is the legality of this, let alone any question of a broad interpretation of UN Resolution 1973.
Such actions by Western nations may have repercussions when trying to prosecute other national actors for similar procedures against what these nations consider proper targets for assassination. The actions of the Sri Lankan army against the Tamil Tigers might be justified along the same lines. You may shout ‘moral equivalence’ and you may be right, but the UN and the international courts might have a different view. Or do powerful countries have rights that weaker countries do not?
Former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt told German TV the operation could have incalculable consequences in the Arab world at a time of unrest there.
“It was quite clearly a violation of international law.”
It was a view echoed by high-profile Australian human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson.
“It’s not justice. It’s a perversion of the term. Justice means taking someone to court, finding them guilty upon evidence and sentencing them,” Robertson told Australian Broadcasting Corp television from London.
“This man has been subject to summary execution, and what is now appearing after a good deal of disinformation from the White House is it may well have been a cold-blooded assassination.”
Robertson said bin Laden should have stood trial, just as World War Two Nazis were tried at Nuremburg or former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was put on trial at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague after his arrest in 2001.
It is interesting to note a link to Wedding No. 1 in that Hamas condemned the killing whilst Fatah, true to their drive to be seen as a national player in tune with the West, applauded it. However, in private, they are probably chewing their knuckles in anger and frustration. Not that they were Al Qaeda supporters, but any victory for the US and, by association, Israel, is a big blow. It is also interesting that the Fatah military wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, were reported to condemn the killing.
This apparent difference between Fatah and its military wing demonstrates the ongoing joint diplomatic and military attack against Israel. Fatah can have its pitta bread and eat it; they can condemn the murders committed by Al Aqsa and appear to be statesmanlike and against violence whilst actively continuing to pursue violence under the cover of a faux organisational separation. Not too disimilar to Sinn Fein and the IRA.
As Abba Eban, the distinguished Israeli diplomat, politician and writer, once said of the Arabs but true of today’s Palestinians, they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
As I reported yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu proposed and has now had approved a 10 month moratorium on settlement building in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). This specifically excludes necessary building on existing settlements but also stipulates there will be no appropriation of land.
But the big omission is that Jerusalem is exempt from the moratorium, which is consistent with Israel’s position that Jerusalem is the indivisible capital of the Jewish people and it will build for Jews, Arabs and anyone else wherever it wishes within the city.
But this provided a get out clause for the Palestinian leadership as I predicted. The Jerusalem Post reports
He said Wednesday’s announcement by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was aimed more toward appeasing American pressure than truly trying to reconcile with Palestinians.
“At the end of the day Netanyahu needs to make peace with us, the Palestinians, he doesn’t need to make peace with Americans,” Erekat told Army Radio. “If that is what he wants, that is his business. The last I know, Washington is 6,000 miles from Jerusalem, while Jericho is 67.”
The Palestinian Authority:
Already on Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority strongly rejected Netanyahu’s plan, and reiterated its refusal to return to the negotiating table with Israel.Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, announced that the Palestinians rejected the plan because it did not include Jerusalem.
Today the Israeli Government Press Office announced that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has proposed a 10 month suspension of new construction permits in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank)
As part of the efforts to give momentum to the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority and advance Israel’s comprehensive national interests, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will today (Wednesday), 25.11.09, ask the Security Cabinet to approve a ten-month suspension of new residential construction permits and new residential construction starts in Judea and Samaria.
Prime Minister Netanyahu told Security Cabinet members at the start of today’s meeting that, “In the international circumstances that have been created, this step will promote Israel’s broad national interests. This is neither simple nor easy but it has many more advantages than disadvantages. It allows us to place a simple fact before the world: The Government of Israel wants to enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, is taking practical steps in order to do so and is very serious in its intentions to promote peace.”
This follows a real bruhaha about the permits to extend the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Gilo. Just about every newspaper outside Israel claimed Gilo was a settlement; but as Maurice Ostroff has demonstrated in the Jerusalem Post it is nothing of the sort:
THE REALITY is that Gilo is very different than the outposts in the West Bank. It is not in east Jerusalem as widely reported. It is a Jerusalem neighborhood with a population of around 40,000. The ground was bought by Jews before WWII and settled in 1971 in south west Jerusalem opposite Mount Gilo within the municipal borders. There is no inference whatsoever that it rests on Arab land.
But back to the point: Netanyahu has thrown down the gauntlet. He is saying we have now gone as far as is politically possible to meet US and Palestinian Authority demands. Your move.
But now let’s see what the PA thinks of next. Having received this concession it will no doubt find an excuse to reject it and demand even more. This is the usual game. Demand until Israel can no longer say yes, and then paint them as the obstacle to peace. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it.
Take a look.
Spot the deliberate mistake?
Take your time.
Here’s the answer. The United States Consulate in Jerusalem’s website is Judenrein.
You would think that Jerusalem was an Arab city and not the capital of the State of Israel.
Is this a deliberate policy of the Obama administration or have the anti-Zionists in the State Department taken over the website?
The United States still refuses to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (even though this is dubious under the Embassy Act of 1995). But it appears to have gone even further and recognised it as the capital of an, as yet, non existent state of Palestine.
OK. The Consulate may claim that it is a separate entity from the Israeli Embassy and deals specifically with Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza; but the consulate is actually located in the Old City which has a Jewish majority (and had one until 1948 when the Jordanians expelled every Jew and demolished all the synagogues).
And, by the way, East Jerusalem also had a majority Jewish population until Jews were driven out and massacred in 1929. (And, by the way, a similar situation existed in Hebron which was a Jewish city for hundreds of years before being ethnically cleansed in the 1929 riots and massacres).
All this is consistent with the myth of an Arab majority East Jerusalem as the long-term de facto capital of Palestine. The truth is that East Jerusalem only had an Arab majority when the Jews were kicked out and Palestinians moved into Jewish areas after 1948.
But history before 1948 appears to have been conveniently air-brushed to accommodate Arab and Palestinian claims which seek also to do some air-brushing which involves the denial of any connection of Jews to the land and especially to Jerusalem.
The US Consulate would do well to consider Jewish sensitivities for a change.
The current world media, and indeed the Palestinian and left-wing Israel narrative about Israel’s activities on the West Bank tells of road-blocks, a so called “apartheid” wall, unwarranted restrictions on movement of Palestinians and general emiseration of life.
But here’s a funny thing. Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas has just been to Washington. In an interview with the Washington Post he made (albeit translated) the following astonishing statement:
“I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,” he said. “Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.”
Normal life! Good reality! If everything is so dandy, what’s the beef?
The truth is that whatever the aspirations and long-term goals of the PA things have got a lot better recently. I’m not saying there is normality as that would be untrue. But Abbas sees new possibilities with Obama. Abbas can wait to achieve his goals whilst the US, Europe and, ironically, Israel pour billions of dollars into the development of the West Bank and what would be a future Palestinian state. Yes. He can wait.
Abbas also revealed what former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered him, and this says it all about Abbas, Obama’s policy, the possibility of peace and the PA’s true intentions:
Abbas acknowledged that Olmert had shown him a map proposing a Palestinian state on 97 percent of the West Bank — though he complained that the Israeli leader refused to give him a copy of the plan. He confirmed that Olmert “accepted the principle” of the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees — something no previous Israeli prime minister had done — and offered to resettle thousands in Israel. In all, Olmert’s peace offer was more generous to the Palestinians than either that of Bush or Bill Clinton; it’s almost impossible to imagine Obama, or any Israeli government, going further.
Abbas turned it down. “The gaps were wide,” he said.
What!!! He turned it down? Just like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat at Camp David and Taba in 2000/2001 who was made a similar offer, rejected it and began the Second Intifada. Why does the world say it is Israel that is the main stumbling block to peace? Each time Israel offers more, not less (as would be the case in any other conflict where the answer to peace negotiations is violence not a counter-offer). “The gaps were wide”. What does Abbas want for heaven’s sake? Well we know what he wants: the right of return for 4 million Palestinians and ALL of the Old City of Jerusalem (he does not reveal waht Olmert offered there but Barak in 2000 offered to divide the city). In other words he will settle for nothing less than the destruction of Israel demographically.
Now, perhaps, we can see why the Netanyahu government sees no point to further negotiations with the PA. What more is there to discuss at the moment? What will Israel get in return for freezing settlement expansion or dismantling settlements? It’s a stand-off. It’s a bit like the final scene in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” with each side circling round the other and waiting for someone to blink.
Obama to Netanyahu: stop settlement expansion and we’ll talk about Iran
Netanyahu to Obama: do something about Iran or we’ll continue with (existing) settlement expansion
Obama to Abbas: stop saying horrible things about Israelis (you can’t use the words “vile anti-Semitic propaganda” in the even-handed world of Obama). Make nice with Hamas.
Abbas to Obama: I can wait. Get rid of Netanyahu or get him to unequivocally accept a two-state solution. I’m not playing ball with George Mitchell until you do that, so no talks with moderate Arab states to help the process. I can wait for Hamas.
Abbas to Netanyahu: (silence)
Netanyahu to Abbas: (silence)
As the Post concludes:
What’s interesting about Abbas’s hardline position, however, is what it says about the message that Obama’s first Middle East steps have sent to Palestinians and Arab governments. From its first days the Bush administration made it clear that the onus for change in the Middle East was on the Palestinians: Until they put an end to terrorism, established a democratic government and accepted the basic parameters for a settlement, the United States was not going to expect major concessions from Israel.
Obama, in contrast, has repeatedly and publicly stressed the need for a West Bank settlement freeze, with no exceptions. In so doing he has shifted the focus to Israel. He has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud. “The Americans are the leaders of the world,” Abbas told me and Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt. “They can use their weight with anyone around the world. Two years ago they used their weight on us. Now they should tell the Israelis, ‘You have to comply with the conditions.’ “
So all is quiet in the world of Abbas. He knows that Netanyahu’s options are limited. The next Israeli government might offer even more. Iran might do the job he always dreamed of. Hamas can stew in Gaza because why should he do anything that wil make life for Israel easier. He can squeeze Hamas on the West Bank and take them out when necessary. In fact, by doing so, as the Jerusalem Post reports, he is putting pressure on Israel:
In March 2007, a car carrying over 100 kilograms of explosives succeeded in infiltrating downtown Tel Aviv from the West Bank town of Kalkilya. The terrorists’ plan was to detonate the car on Seder night.
The existence of this cell, which was the target of the Palestinian clashes in Kalkilya on Sunday, had been the IDF’s excuse for refusing to scale back its operations in the West Bank city and implement there and in Tulkarm what is being called the “Jenin model.”
Under the Jenin model, the IDF has scaled back operations in that city, removed checkpoints in the area, permitted the deployment of US-trained Palestinian forces and allowed Israeli Arabs into the city to boost the local economy.
The more effective the PA police are in confronting Hamas and thwarting attacks on Israel, the less reason there is for the Israeli Army to be operating there. This, in turn, reduce tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and increases Abbas’s prestige at home and in the world. But, crucially, Israel’s ability to preempt terrorism emanating from the West Bank would be reduced.
And this is really the true nature of the Pax Palestina on the West Bank. They are rapidly approaching de facto statehood with improving social conditions and security; they are working with Israel on a number of projects to improve living conditions; checkpoints are reducing; Israel is acting against settlements that even they deem illegal.
For Abbas it is just a stage on the road to the destruction of Israel. He still cherishes that hope. He still wants 4 million refugees to flood Israel and create a third Palestinian state in the region; he still wants all of Jerusalem; he still tells his people that Jews have no historic connections or claim to the Holy Land; he still tells his people that there never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem; he still allows daily incitement against Israelis and Jews; he still allows lies and vicious Jew-hatred to be inculcated into Palestinian children from the earliest age.
Abbas can afford to wait.