Monday, May 26, 2014

“Tough Going”

Painful going.  There is no respite.
Yesterday afternoon, there was an anti-Semitic terrorist shooting in the Jewish Museum in Belgium. 
gunman, terrorist, brussels, jewish museum, belguim, killing, massacre, shooting, murder, blood, masacre
Credit: Getty
Three people were killed on the spot inside the museum. They were an Israeli couple - Emanuel and Miriam Riba, 54 and 53, of Tel Aviv, who have left behind two teenage daughters – and an unidentified volunteer at the museum, reported to be French.  A fourth – an employee of the museum, also unidentified, but said to be Belgian - was critically wounded, and has since died. 
The terrorist ran into the museum from a car, opened fire, and ran back out to the car.  It is being reported that the driver of that car was picked up, and subsequently a suspect. 
Further details will emerge in the coming hours and days. 
Although the identity of the shooter is not yet known this attack was very quickly compared to the terrorist murders in Toulouse, France, two years ago, because of certain similarities in how the terrorists behaved. 
And speaking of France...mere hours after the Belgian attack, Jews in Paris were stabbed coming out of synagogue.  They have been identified by Israel National News as the synagogue’s treasurer and his two sons, all of whom have been hospitalized.
Then we have this, which occurred before the Belgian attack, but came to light after (emphasis added):
Masked Muslims, shouting “the national of Mohammed is coming back to take revenge,” entered the main market in Djerba, Tunisia, on Thursday and stabbed Gabriel Ozen, 38, a Jewish jeweler.
In spite of his attempts to fight off the attackers, Ozen was stabbed in the chest, and then rushed to a local hospital, where he is in serious, but stable, condition.
“According to local media reports, merchants on the scene were able to apprehend the perpetrator and turn him in to local police.  Justice will not be served, however; more than a hundred masked men surrounded the police station and threatened to burn it down if the terrorist was prosecuted.
The police released the assailant immediately.” (Emphasis added)  
Can we plausibly even say we are shocked by these events any more?
Friday night, the IDF thwarted a planned terror attack in Migdal Oz, in Gush Etzion:
“...patrols on shift in watch towers in the Etzion region identified two suspicious figures approaching the kibbutz and then standing in front of a cluster of houses.
“Security forces managed to close in on the suspects [two Palestinian Arabs] quickly and detain them for questioning.
“The quick work of observation forces, in cooperation with operative combat forces in the Etzion region, has brought remarkable success,” said Etzion deputy brigade commander, Lt. Col. Ayes Fares.”
Vigilance at all times.
Let me turn here to another sort of attack, one that can be managed:
The Israeli NGO Yesh Din (“there is justice”) is mounting a major attack on the Levy Report, which is an underpinning of the Legal Grounds Campaign, which I co-chair with Jeff Daube.
See our website - – for a good deal of information about the Levy Report, as well as a picture of Justice Edmund Levy z”l handing the Report to Prime Minister Netanyahu.
We don’t find it threatening, so much as interesting – that this is happening.  That a group whose focus is work “to defend the human rights of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation” feels the need to discredit this material, big time, tells us a great deal about the power of the Report.  And about the importance of our work to promote it.
Understand that when I say they are working “big time” to discredit this material, I mean that they have secured large sums of money to underwrite the effort.  And the funds have come from such sources as the government of Norway and the EU.
This raises a whole other issue, which is under serious discussion here now, regarding the right of foreign governments to underwrite a campaign that seeks to affect Israel’s retention of Judea and Samaria.
I will likely come back to this.  Here I wish simply to call the attention of my readers to this, and to sound the call, for any and all who can lend support, to please consider doing so.  Write to me if you wish to discuss this further.
And then, sigh, we have the visit of Pope Francis to this area. A mixed scenario at best.  Officially he is here to further a Christian ecumenical spirit.  A rapprochement between the Catholic Church and Christian Orthodox churches of the east first took place on the Mount of Olives in 1964.  The pope on this visit with recognize the 50th anniversary of this event with ecumenical meetings, notably with Bartholomew I, the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
That’s officially.  Unofficially, his warmth towards Israel is being celebrated with much enthusiasm.  As a JPost editorial – which refers to Francis’s “philo-Semitism” - put it:
“Already in 1964, the Church repudiated a millennia-long tradition of “No salvation outside the Church...the Church...affirmed that the covenant God made with Israel is full and permanent – a reversal of the replacement theology that had defined Catholic self-understanding...
“Francis seemed to go further when he praised the Jews for remaining faithful to God ‘despite the awful trials of these last centuries.’ If Jews were once condemned for being present when Jesus appeared but choosing to reject him, Francis was now thanking them for holding stubbornly to their faith.”
And yet... and yet... there are elements of his trip that are deeply disconcerting.  Yes, the claim has been made – by the pope himself – that the trip is purely religious and not political.  Yes, he has to be even-handed.  Yes, he must call for peace. 
But he didn’t come our way directly from the Vatican via Ben Gurion airport, as might have been expected.  He came via Amman, where he landed yesterday, and met with the king of Jordan and other officials.  From there he went by helicopter, this morning, to Bethlehem.  And, oh, did the Palestinian Arabs make the most of this. They took him on an unscheduled side trip to see the “occupation wall” in Bethlehem – the wall constructed to keep terrorists out.  Abbas, additionally, lamented to the pontiff that Israel is “judaizing Jerusalem.” 
And take a look at this from Palestinian Media Watch: A mind-boggling art exhibit set up for the pope by the PA, in which Palestinian Arabs are represented as Jesus.

The pope at one point referred to “the state of Palestine.” Israel national news further reports:
The pope “paused for several moments in front of a graffiti on the security wall in Bethlehem, bowing his head in prayer in front of a message proclaiming, ‘Pope we need to see someone speak out about justice.  Bethlehem look like Warsaw ghetto.  Free Palestine.
“...ahead of the trip, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin defended the Palestinian Arabs’ right to a ‘sovereign and independent’ homeland and said he hoped Francis’s visit would lead to ‘courageous decisions’ for peace.
“Rabbi Sergio Bergman, a member of the Argentinian parliament and close friend of Pope Francis, reported in February that the pope intends to define himself as the ‘Che Guevera of the Palestinians’ and support their ‘struggle and rights’ during his visit.
“...It has been noted that the pope has been remarkably tight-lipped over the violent persecution of Christians in Bethlehem, instead choosing to condemn alleged Jewish ‘price tag’ vandalism.’” (Emphasis added)
All of this is deeply unsettling, and rather puts the lie to the notion that the pope is being even-handed.  But perhaps most seriously disturbing of all is the readiness by the pope, in the name of political correctness or devotion to the Palestinian Arab cause, or whatever, to turn his back on the suffering of Arab Christians.
“Justus Reid Weiner of Hebrew University has reported that Bethlehem's Christians have been suffering ‘many examples of intimidation, beatings, land theft, firebombing of churches and other Christian institutions, denial of employment, economic boycotts, torture, kidnapping, forced marriage, sexual harassment, and extortion.’
“PA officials are reportedly directly responsible for many of the attacks and some Muslims who have converted to Christianity have been murdered. The Muslim Fatah-controlled authority in Judea and Samaria is encouraging a ‘sharp demographic shift’ in Bethlehem, where the Christina population went from a 60 percent majority in 1990 to...about 15 percent of the city’s total population today, according to Weiner.”
This pope, who has been declared “fearless” in his calls for peace, is without moral authority.
Now that the pope - having been flown from Bethlehem to Ben Gurion Airport for an official ceremony, and then on to Jerusalem - is here in Israel (until late in the day on Monday), he will take all of the requisite actions expected of a head of state visiting here.  This will include laying a wreath on Herzl’s grave.  He has called for both Peres (not Netanyahu, you note) and Abbas to come to the Vatican and pray for peace, and they have apparently accepted.  Peres loves this sort of thing.
But there is one other item on the pope’s agenda while he is here that is enormously infuriating for Jews: He will be meeting Grand Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, and on the Temple Mount, no less. 
The Grand Mufti?
“In 2012, the Mufti preached that it is Muslim destiny to kill the Jews. On a different occasion, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, he taught that Jews were ‘enemies of Allah,’ and in another speech he said that the souls of suicide bombers ‘tell us to follow in their path.’”
I don’t care if the Mufti is the Palestinian Arab “chief rabbi.”  Better, I think, that the pope should have stayed home, rather than imbue him with very visible credibility.
Netanyahu, when meeting the pope in official ceremony, pledged that he is “committed to maintaining the status quo at the holy sites of Muslims, Christians and Jews.”
There are several implications to his words.  One the one hand, we might say that he is reassuring the pope that all religious sites are safe under Israeli administration. 
But there is a push now, which I will continue to follow, for allowing Jewish prayer on the Mount – and with this statement he is making it clear that he will all he can to prevent this.
Lastly, there have been for weeks over-wrought rumors, never confirmed, about the intentions of the Israeli government to turn over to the Church ownership of the room over David’s Tomb on Mt. Zion, which is said by Christians to be the room of the Last Supper.  Government denials of all such intentions were apparently on the level.
President Shimon Peres, Pope Francis and Benjamin Netanyahu stand at attention for the national anthems of the Vatican and Israel (screen capture: GPO)
Credit: GPO

Credit: Vassollomalto
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