Friday, June 30, 2006

Between a (Qassam) rock(et) and a (political) hard place

Here’s a copy of a letter that I e-mailed to my Israeli brother and ex-sister-in-law (with copies to my sister in NYC and my other brother in California, which accounts for all the English translations) on June 26:

“This is some of what I've been reading on the Internet lately.

"An Unspeakable Choice"

"Support Us Even When We Don't Bleed"

Call me naive, but I really hoped that the hitnatkut (withdrawal from Gush Katif in Gaza) would work. I hoped that, if Israel gave the Palestinians a chunk of land, a) they would stop shelling the hand that had fed it, and/or b) that, if that didn't work, at least the Israel Defense Forces could go back in and blast the heck out of 'em without worrying about settlers getting caught in the crossfire. Neither hope has come to fruition. The Palestinians have taken Israel's withdrawal as a sign of weakness rather than pragmatism, have shelled the bleep out of S'derot, etc., and have now tunneled their way into a few murders, woundings, and one kidnapping (thus far). And the Israeli government has not allowed the IDF to go back in force and beat the bleep out of the terrorists and/or their leaders.

I have said, consistently, ever since Israel conquered the West Bank and Gaza, that the territories should never have been settled, but should have been reserved as bargaining chips, that the only part of the conquest that absolutely had to remain in Israeli hands was the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Ir Haatika/Old City and whatever other parts of Jerusalem had to be under Israeli control in order to guarantee access to the Kotel/Western Wall. But the deed is long done. As with the U.S. in Iraq, so, too, with the Israelis in the West Bank: Once you're in, how the bleep do you get out?

Half of me says that it's only right for Israel to withdraw from much of the West Bank because Israel should never have settled it in the first place. The other half says a) How the bleep can anyone trust the State of Israel to resettle all those people when even the much-smaller contingent of ex-settlers from Gush Katif are still, in many cases, poorly-housed and unemployed? b) Why should the State of Israel literally kill itself, given that the Palestinians would just use the vacated territory as yet another missile-launching site?

That's my view. But I'm here. What's the view from there? Those are your kids going into Tzahal/IDF. Are the settlers right, are the Shalom Achshav-niks/Peace Now folks right, or is the truth (or some reasonable facsimile thereof) somewhere in the middle?

Politics aside, after reading the Monday, June 26, 2006 post, "One Soldier's Life" at "The Muqata" ("Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael "), I'm including the name of kidnapped Israel soldier Gilad ben Aviva (Shalit) in my prayers (during the brachah "Sh'ma Kolenu" in the Amidah).

I hope to hear from you soon.”

I haven’t heard from my Israeli family yet. I assume that they’re too busy worrying about what’s going on under their noses to reply to someone still living in the relative safety of the Galut/Diaspora.

In the meantime, my words—“one kidnapping (thus far)”—were, sadly, more prophetic than I had hoped—Jameel’s Thursday, June 29, 2006 post recounts some tragic news:

“IDF forces recovered the body of Eliyahu Asheri, the 18 year old kidnapped Israeli from Itamar. He was murdered (shot in the head) shortly after his abduction on Sunday evening, and hastily buried near Ramalla by Palestinian terrorists. His funeral is scheduled for 2:30 PM today at the Sanhedria "Beit Levayot" -- the procession will continue on to Har HaZeitim, the Mout of Olives for burial. Hashem Yikom Damo.”

Jack of the Shack is also having second thoughts about the hitnatkut, and also some thoughts on what should be done now, especially after the death of Eliyahu Asheri.

David Bogner, of Treppenwitz, has harsh words (important, albeit difficult, reading), as well as hopeful words, concerning the current state of war in the State of Israel.

Friday, June 30, 2006 update:

Ms. Lost-in-(Cyber)-Space hasn't yet figured out how to delete a comment from her own blog. Fortunately, that's because I've never felt the need to do so, before. Unfortunately, I do feel the need to do so now. I can't moderate comments because I'm afraid to log on while at the office, as I'm still "in the closet" there as a blogger. So, I gather that my only option is to play with the template again (heaven help me).

To make a long story short, the one rule for my blog is that all comments must be respectful. Fern Sidman has gone beyond the pale by stating that "the blood of Eliyahu Asheri is on the hands of those who control the government of Israel." Any commenter is free to agree or disagree with anything that I or another commenter posts here, be it of a personal, religious, and/or political nature, provided that she or he does so in a respectful manner. But no one is free, on my blog, to accuse the Israeli government of murder. Fern's comment will be deleted as soon as I can figure out out to delete it.

Shabbat shalom, and let's pray for shalom this Shabbat.

Sunday, July 2, 2006 update:

Thankfully, the "trashcan" icon, which, for reasons unknown, was simply not there when I tried to delete Fern's comment on Friday, has reappeared. Having copied her comment to my Word archive, I will re-post the non-offensive portion thereof.


Blogger Jack Steiner said...

Hi Shira,

Part of what I find so upsetting about all of this is that it creates some very uncomfortable thoughts/feelings for me. Just terrible.

Sun Jul 02, 01:33:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Too delete a comment, click on the little trash can next to the comment. And I know I still owe you a response, just been a bit busy...

Sun Jul 02, 06:24:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Hi Shira.

I try to have some good news on my blog as well from time to time as well...

BTW - If I had my way, I think that Israel should be governed by the entire Jewish people around the globe. Oh, but there would be requirements as well for this privledge...but I'll write about it on another posting.

Your view is just as important as mine.

Shavua Tov,


Sun Jul 02, 08:27:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Jack, see my next post. I feel pretty conflicted about what's going on in Israel now.

Ezzie, now that the missing "trashcan" icon has magically reappeared--I haven't a clue why it wasn't visible on my blog on Friday afternoon--I've deleted the comment.

As for you being "a little bit busy, that's the definition of parenthood. :)

Jameel, your IDF takes a break for the World Cup :) post was droll. I'll keep an eye out for that "how Israel should be governed" post.

Sun Jul 02, 01:27:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I am re-posting the non-offensive part of Fern's comment, as promised:

Fern Sidman said...


On this day, June 29th, 2006, the 3rd day of Tammuz 5766, the nation of Israel buried a true Eved Elokim, a faithful servant of the Almighty G-d of Israel. Today thousands of Jews across the State of Israel attended the funeral of 18 year old Eliyahu Pinchas Asheri, ZTK"L, the yeshiva student from the settlement of Itamar who was kidnapped and murdered by Arab terrorists. Asheri, a student at the pre-military yeshiva academy in N'vei Tzuf in the western Binyamin region was last seen at 9:00 p.m. on Sunday at the French Hill junction in northern Jerusalem. He was hitching a ride to his yeshiva in N'vei Tzuf.

His parents, Yitro and Miriam Asheri reported him missing on Monday, but according to reports from the IDF he had already been murdered by that time. According to Arutz Sheva, "A Ramallah Tanzim terror cell, taking orders from the Gaza headquarters of the Popular Resistance Committee, carried out the kidnapping and murdered of pre-military Torah academy student Eliyahu Asheri, according to the IDF."

The report went on to say, "Itamar resident Eliyahu Asheri, z'l, died immediately when he was kidnapped on Sunday, according to OC Central Commander Yair Naveh. Naveh told reporters at a briefing on Thursday that the 18-year-old victim was not kept alive, as claimed by the terrorist group that abducted him, but was "without a doubt murdered immediately."
Popular Resistance Committees terrorists claimed they had kept Asheri alive until Tuesday while considering the possibility of holding him for ransom. Said Naveh, "They had absolutely no intention to hold negotiations."

According to The Jerusalem Post, (6/27/06), "On Wednesday, elite police and IDF forces arrested Popular Resistance Committees operative Osam Abu Rajil, who was suspected to have been involved in the kidnapping. Abu Rajil led the forces to a mountainside north of Ramallah, where Asheri's body was found buried, Army Radio reported. Naveh confirmed Thursday that Abu Rajil was personally involved in the kidnapping.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Hamas-affiliated PRC told Al-Jazeera that Asheri would be "butchered in front of TV cameras" if the IDF operation in Gaza did not stop. "Our patience is running out," he said. "I am announcing for the first time that the kidnapped Zionist Israel is searching for is the same settler who is being held by us. He is aged 18-1⁄2... and is a soldier in a pre-military academy," said the spokesman, who identified himself as Abu Abir."

In addition, Arutz Sheva reported that, "The IDF did not say whether the assault rifles which the Olmert government and the United States transferred to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, (Abu Mazen) earlier this month were used at any point in the kidnapping or murder. WorldNetDaily reported in the name of "sources close to the Al Aqsa Brigades" that the guns had been used in two separate shooting attacks against Israelis within days of the transfer."

Roads in Jerusalem were closed in honor of the funeral, which is to end with the youth's burial in the Mt. of Olives cemetery. Eliyahu's teachers and family, one after the other, spoke about what a sweet person he was. Over and over it was mentioned that Eliyahu's prayers were "like fire."

"You went up to Heaven in a storm, like Eliyahu (Elijah) the prophet," Eliyahu's mother Miriam eulogized, in a calm and determined voice. "Now, Eliyahu - stand before G-d and speak out in favor of the Nation of Israel - don't let up until our Father in Heaven agrees to reveal Himself to His people."

Yitro Asheri spoke of his son, recalling that he would always sit in their home and make peace between his siblings. "When you get to Heaven," the Australian immigrant said, addressing his son, "make peace within our people and between the Nation of Israel and our Father in Heaven."

Asheri added that the world has much less prayer in it now that Eliyahu is gone and implored all of Israel to "Pray! Pray - because you are righteous and G-d desires your prayers."

Eliyahu's mother Miriam told Voice of Israel Radio this morning, "At this time, I do have not much to say, for the pain is so unbearable; I can barely find a way to hold it. But one thing I can say is that many times in the past years, because of the many disagreements-between-brothers we have in this country, many times I asked G-d to give me, first of all, love in my heart for everyone. And now, following this terrible thing that happened to us, it has become clear to me how really great the Nation of Israel is - how much help we have received, and all the volunteers, and the army - there are no words to describe it... And this was the way of Eliyahu as well..."

Rabbi Chaim Druckman, the national head of the Bnei Akiva Yeshivot movement and Eliyahu's adopted grandfather, said at the funeral that sometimes funerals are like sunsets, but that Eliyahu's passing is like the sun going dark at noontime. "This is not just a private funeral, but one belonging to all of Israel," he said. "His murderers intended to kill any one of us and all of us."

Rabbi Avi Ronski, the Rabbi of Itamar and the man who has been tapped to become the next Chief Rabbi of the IDF, said at the funeral, "It is now clear that they murdered Eliyahu very soon after they kidnapped him, and all their announcements and threats afterwards were merely psychological pressure against us."

The murder of Eliyahu Asheri comes on the heels of a Hamas terrorist attack several days ago when a Hamas 8-man force crawled through an underground tunnel into Israel, lobbing grenades and bombs at a military outpost killing two IDF soldiers, Lt. Hanan Barak, 20, from Arad and Sgt. Pavel Slutzker, 20 from Dimona A third soldier, Corp. Gilead Shalit from Mitzpe Hila was kidnapped.

The kidnapping of Corp. Shalit, prompted the IDF to launch its "Operation Summer Rains" offensive Wednesday with the entry of Israeli forces into Southern Gaza. The stated goal: The release of kidnapped solider Gilad Shalit.

In addition to knocking out electricity in much of Gaza, the operation has included an aerial missile attack on an electricity station south of Gaza City, aerial attacks on three bridges in the central Gaza Strip, over dry river beds, artillery fire at open areas in the southern Gaza Strip and entry of armored forces into the Dahaniya area, mainly the abandoned airport, where the IDF has set up a headquarters. This area represents a strategic control and observation point over the southern Gaza Strip.

In response to the murder and kidnapping, Israeli forces arrested one-third of the Hamas-led Palestinian Cabinet and 20 lawmakers early Thursday and pressed their incursion into Gaza.

Today is a day of tremendous grief and mourning for the family and friends of Eliyahu Asheri. It is also a day of mourning for the entire nation of Israel. It is not easy to forget a day on which a young Jew was buried. A young Jew, heinously murdered by Arab savages. A Jew who feared G-d and walked in the way of his ancestors, in the way of Hashem's holy Torah.

It will be difficult to forget the looks of profound grief and misery etched on the faces of his parents, his siblings, his friends and neighbors. The murder of Eliyahu Pinchas Asheri was the murder of a part of each and every one of us. For the murder of Eliyahu Pinchas Asheri could have been the murder of our own son or brother. Ask any parent that has lost a child and they will tell you that they never get up from sitting shiva. The sadness and despair is all consuming and does not diminish with the passing of time.

We are commanded by the Almighty G-d of Israel to be our brother's keeper, for we are all one nation, a collective body and soul. When one of us grieves and suffers, we all grieve and we all suffer. Today we have lost a brother and our tears flow freely and without respite. And we ask, why was Eliyahu Asheri murdered? Why was it he that had to spend his last moments on this earth as a captive of barbaric Arab terrorists who have no respect for the sanctity of life?

. . .

Sun Jul 02, 01:31:00 PM 2006  

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