Archive for August, 2011

Israeli officer was murdered by Egyptians

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
Murdered police counterterrorism officer Pascal Avrahami

Murdered police counterterrorism officer Pascal Avrahami

Yesterday I wrote that there were rumors that Egyptians were involved in a firefight with Israelis. I deliberately didn’t go into more detail because I didn’t want to compromise my source. Now it has become general knowledge:

The incident involving the Egyptians occurred later in the afternoon, while the chief of staff and the defense minister held a press conference north of Eilat. An IDF force rushed to an area where there had been more shooting. Egyptian soldiers were seen holding three men at gunpoint.

When the Israeli officers asked for the captives to be handed over, an Egyptian officer claimed that they were Egyptian soldiers. At some point the troops came under fire, and a sniper killed the anti-terrorist police officer Pascal Avrahami.

IDF and Egyptian soldiers were facing each other along the border and they came under fire from one of the groups of terrorists. They were neutralized by the soldiers. The incident ended about 6 P.M. — Ha’aretz

Here is the story as I heard it, attributed to eyewitnesses: the police counterterrorism officers were observing the Egyptians across the border at a range of several hundred meters. It was late in the day, and the Egyptians were preparing to leave their position, taking apart equipment, etc. Suddenly, several bursts of automatic fire came from the Egyptian side. The Israelis rushed to take cover and return fire, and at this point Avrahami was hit. No one else was wounded on the Israeli side.

The bullet that hit him was an ordinary Kalashnikov slug, not a round from a sniper weapon. At that range, it was a very lucky shot.

If this account is correct, then what happened was not a ‘regrettable accident’. It was a case of deliberate murder, and the Egyptians that were killed were killed in self-defense. There should be no apology from Israel, nor even an ‘expression of regret’. An investigation should be carried out to find out which Egyptian soldier or policeman opened fire, and if he was not one of those killed by the reaction he provoked, then he should be arrested and charged with murder.

Egypt should apologize and compensate Israel for the death of Avrahami.

Of course this won’t happen. The rules in the Middle East say that Israel is always wrong, that Arabs are allowed to kill Jews with impunity, and that Israel should apologize for existing.

During the reign of Mubarak, there was always vicious incitement against Jews and Israel in Egyptian media, although Mubarak kept a tight reign on violent expressions of it. Since his fall, the hatred has become more concrete, with repeated acts of sabotage to the pipeline supplying Israel with Egyptian natural gas and increased support to Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza. ‘Arab spring’ demonstrations in Egypt often include ugly antisemitic and anti-Zionist signs and expressions.

Now the incitement has reached its natural destination, murder.

To a certain extent, Israel in its public diplomacy pretends that it is a normal state, surrounded mostly by normal states (Iran is perhaps an exception) where peace is prevented by the intervention of extremists. This is a very distorted picture.

In fact the situation is that Israel is surrounded by states whose leadership and people hate Israel and Jews. They have never accepted the idea of a Jewish state. They only oppose the ‘extremists’ when these threaten their own regimes. This includes, of course, the Palestinian Arabs.

Peace cannot be obtained as long as this condition is maintained, and no Arab or Muslim leadership exists anywhere that wants to change it. This — not settlements, not borders, not human rights — is the reason that there is no peace.

Egypt promised peace in return for the Sinai. Israel gave them the Sinai, uprooting Jewish settlements to do so. But Egypt did not return peace. The regime just placed the stew of hatred on slow boil, and dumped in antisemitic incitement, books, TV shows, ‘education’, etc. And this is why, more than 30 years after Camp David, Egyptians are killing Israelis.

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When not to apologize

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

News item:

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday denied apologizing to Egypt following the deaths of five Egyptian soldiers at the hands of Israeli forces Thursday.

“I didn’t apologize to Egypt, I expressed regret,” Barak said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 News, Israel’s most widely-watched TV news network. — Al-Masry al-Youm

Some observers felt that it was a little early even for a non-apology, because very little is known about the incident.  In particular, there are rumors circulating in Israel that there was an incident in which Egyptians — not Palestinians in Egyptian uniforms, but Egyptians — opened fire on Israeli security personnel immediately across the border, and the Israelis returned fire.

Is it true? Who knows? It’s possible. Hatred for Israel in Egypt today is at a fever pitch. Here’s a clip from a demonstration in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo this week:

Israel has been quick to apologize in the past when it was wholly inappropriate: for the staged murder of Mohammad al-Dura, for example, and for the Gaza Beach incident. So far, it has resisted heavy pressure from the Obama Administration to apologize for the Mavi Marmara affair, in which Israeli naval commandos enforcing Israel’s legitimate blockade of Gaza defended themselves from being beaten, shot and stabbed to death by Turkish Islamist thugs.

There is more to this then just the desire of Egypt, Turkey, etc. to use Israeli apologies to validate their version of events. We need to see their demands in their Middle Eastern context, in which Arabs and Muslims are humiliated by their defeats at the hands of Jews, whom they see as inferior beings — defeats which appear to them to turn upside down the natural order of things.

Much of the seemingly irrational behavior of Israel’s enemies — mutilating corpses, targeting school buses, the cruelty inherent in the treatment of Gilad Shalit — things which do not help their case in the wider world, can be seen as attempts to regain their honor after punishing defeats. Most Israelis don’t fully grasp this (although I’m sure the older generation of Mizrachi Jews that still remembers life in Arab countries gets it very clearly).

Should Israel ignore this issue? Is it just Arab silliness? After all, an apology is just words — if there is some diplomatic advantage to be gained, why not just say what they want to hear?

Absolutely not. There is a reality to the concepts of respect and honor, and not only in the Middle East. There is such a thing as national self-respect, which is closely related to motivation to bear difficult conditions and to fight back against aggression. How can you fight your enemies if you agree with them that you are despicable?

There is a well-known Jewish tendency to excessive self-criticism, which has become a major liability in the struggle of the Jewish people to survive.  We’ve absorbed so much of it that some of us have come to believe that maybe our enemies are right after all, and we shouldn’t have our own state.


Here are some hints about when not to apologize:

Israel must never apologize for self-defense. Jews have the right of self-defense.

Israel must never apologize for the Jewish state. Jews have the right of self-determination and Israel is entirely legitimate in international law.

Israel must never apologize for defending the right of Jews to live anywhere between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, which right is also guaranteed in international law.

Israel must never apologize for Israeli culture, although it’s neither entirely Middle Eastern or European (or American).

(h/t for inspiration, ZionistShark).

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Playing with psychopaths, by their rules

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

A game played with psychopaths who can change or violate the rules at will

News item:

Earlier Monday, members of the Popular Resistance Committees, the Palestinian group responsible for last Thursday’s deadly attack, held a press conference to announce that they would abide by a temporary cease-fire between Hamas and other groups in Gaza that have been firing rockets and mortars into Israel over the last four days. The PRC made clear however that the cease-fire referred only to rocket attacks, and that the group would still seek revenge for Israel’s killing of its top leadership last Thursday afternoon. The revenge, the group’s spokesman Abu Attaya said, would be met on the “heads of the Zionist leadership,” Israel Radio reported.

As we begin the ‘cease-fire’ dance yet again, it’s impossible to avoid thinking that an entire nation is allowing itself to be forced into a playing a game with a bunch of murderous psychopaths, according to the psychopaths’ rules, rules which they are permitted to change or violate at will.

There’s a solution: don’t play. Don’t talk, don’t threaten, don’t worry too much about distinguishing between the various posturing factions among the psychopaths. Just kill them.

After Thursday, why is there still an ‘Abu Attaya’? Why is there still a PRC? The technology exists to target specific individuals anf groups with minimal collateral damage. Use it.

Yoram Ettinger thinks that the best approach is to crush the terrorist infrastructure with massive force:

the most effective defense against terrorism – operationally, financially and morally – is not retaliation and a limited, surgical offensive, but a comprehensive, decisive, sustained, disproportionate and preemptive ground offensive, which aims to obliterate terror infrastructures and capabilities, bringing the enemy to submission. A decisive defeat of terrorism requires a victory over – and not coexistence or ceasefire agreements with – terrorism. We need to uproot – not just stop – terrorism.

Any response to terrorism that falls short of devastating the ideological, political, financial, logistic and operational terrorist infrastructures only serves to reassure terrorists that they are immune to annihilation. Moreover, it nurtures their hope-driven terrorism. They hope to destroy Israel’s defiance, wreck Israel’s steadfastness, and sustain the momentum of sweeping Israeli ideological and territorial retreats between the years 1993-2011.

Furthermore, a limited response to terrorism exacerbates wars of attrition – the terrorists’ dream and the nightmare of democratic societies. The limited-retaliation response to terrorism adds fuel to the fire of terrorism, feeding the self-defeating assumption that there is no military solution to terrorism, thus eroding Israel’s deterrence.

I’m sympathetic. But I think that a massive response could result in Israel being responsible for administering what’s left, as well as diverting resources needed in the North and on the Egyptian border, creating more problems with the US, etc.

I think that fear of one’s own, personal, death can be a very strong motivator, and it should be applied to the terrorist leaders. It should at least be tried before another risky invasion.

There is also the absurd situation in which Israel supports a hostile entity, supplying electricity, water, food and medical supplies to Gaza. This should be stopped as long as terrorist activity continues.

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Jewish politics are local, too

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

I had intended to use this cartoon to illustrate an article about the Tel Aviv tent protest. But if all politics are local, that goes for Jewish politics too. What’s true for Moty and Udi’s generation is also true for American Jews. So I am going to write about local, and American, Jewish politics.

On Thursday, Israel suffered a painful shock when terrorists murdered 8 Israelis, including a pair of kindergarten teachers on vacation with their husbands and Pascal Avrahami, a 49-year old father of three sons who was a member of the police counterterrorism unit (yamam) that was primarily responsible for stopping the attack, keeping a small disaster from becoming a large catastrophe. My own son, who served with him, went to Avrahami’s funeral on Friday.

Since then, over a hundred rockets have fallen in Israel, killing one or two (reports are unclear) and injuring dozens, including small children (see The Muqata for a minute by minute account of events). There is a possibility of serious escalation.

So — to get local — I was upset, although not surprised, when I went to a Friday night service at our Reform temple and these events were not mentioned. The service was, as always, very upbeat and musical. Prayers were said for local people that were ill, and yahrzeits and recent deaths were commemorated, again as always. But not a word about what was happening in the Jewish state.

Let me say as strongly as possible that I am not criticizing the rabbi of the congregation. I’m convinced that he is personally pro-Israel. He is brand new in Fresno and is just getting to know the members and their politics. He has heard that they are quite contentious — probably he has heard somewhat exaggerated stories about their differences — and he has said that his job is to bring people together, not to push them apart.

Discussion of Israel has become taboo in many Jewish circles, like politics and religion at the boarding house dinner table. Danny Gordis recently wrote that at one rabbinical seminary,  a “campus dean actually instructed students to cease all e-mail discussion of Israel, while every other political topic remained fair game.” A rabbinical seminary!

So one can’t blame the rabbi for not wanting to touch an issue that might fracture his congregation.

And yet, this is a Jewish congregation and Israel is the state of the Jewish People.  Yes, some members have relatives in Israel that they are worried about, but this is emphatically not about that. It is about whether there is a special connection between our Jewish congregation and the Jewish state. Dozens of innocent people were also killed this week by terrorists in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Thailand, Nigeria and Algeria, but isn’t Israel special to us? Or is it ‘just another country‘?

The Torah is central to all forms of Judaism. It’s a lot of things — a moral and legal code, a history book, a theological tract — but more than anything else, it’s a book about a relationship. And this relationship has three poles: God, the Jewish People, and the Land of Israel. What about the last two?

Danny Gordis argues that liberal Judaism has lost its way, rejecting “the sense that no matter how devoted Jews may be to humanity at large, we owe our devotion first and foremost to one particular people—our own people.” This, combined with some pernicious post-modernist reasoning, has brought us to the absurd situation in which the leaders of the anti-Zionist movement in the West are mostly Jews!

And it has brought the Reform movement in the US (URJ) to the point that it would choose J Street and New Israel Fund activist Rabbi Richard Jacobs as its president. Most tellingly, URJ leaders were shocked at the controversy their decision gave rise to. A rabbi close to the process told me that they were blindsided by the political criticism. In effect, they said “we need this guy’s organizational skills and he’s not that far out politically — what’s their problem?”

Jewish groups in the US are often distinguished by the degree to which they follow the commandments:  how they observe Shabbat, kashrut, how they dress, etc. But in my opinion these differences are unimportant compared to the wide gulf that separates those congregations that identify primarily as part of the Jewish people from those that see themselves as human beings who are secondarily of the Jewish persuasion.

I don’t think, incidentally, that all Reform congregations must fall on the universalist side of that divide, despite the URJ’s  Rabbi Jacobs. But I do think that every congregation, including the one I belong to, needs to ask itself how important the Jewish People and the Land of Israel are to them.

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PRC murderers have a bloody record

Friday, August 19th, 2011
Tali Hatuel and her four daughters, murdered by the PRC in May, 2004

Tali Hatuel and her four daughters, murdered by the PRC in May, 2004

Yesterday’s terror attack was perpetrated by the so-called ‘Popular Resistance Committees’ (PRC). In retaliation, Israel struck a PRC meeting in Gaza, killing PRC official Khaled Shaath, ‘military wing’ chief Abu Awad Nayrab and PRC operatives Imad Hamad, Abu Jamil Shaath and Khaled Masri. Shaath’s 2-year old son was also killed, according to Palestinian sources.

The PRC is (or was) a vicious bunch, formed by dissident Fatah members in 2000. Here is a list (from Wikipedia, but well-documented) of some of their activities:

The November 20, 2000 bombing of a bus full of children as it passed near Kfar Darom, killing two

The October 8 shooting attack on a bus carrying airport workers near the Rafah terminal on October 8, 2000, wounding 8 civilians, and a similar attack on a car on the road from Kerem Shalom to the Rafah terminal, killing the woman driver

Mortar attacks on April 28, 2001 on the Netzer Hazani agricultural Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip (wounding five, one seriously), and similar attacks on Kfar Darom on April 29 and on Atzmona on May 7 of the same year.

The February 14, 2002 killing of three Israeli soldiers using large explosive charges designed for tanks, and similar killings of three more soldiers on March 14 and one more on September 5 of that same year.

The May 2, 2004 killing of the unarmed and pregnant Tali Hatuel, and her four daughters aged 2 to 11, on Kissufim road. The PRC and Islamic Jihad jointly claimed responsibility, also claiming that the attack was in retaliation for earlier Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) killings of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi.

The January 13, 2005 killing of six Israeli settlers [sic] at the Karni Passage near Gaza, carried out together with Hamas and the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

On February 4, 2008 the Israeli Air Force assassinated the PRC’s top military leader, Amer Qarmut (Abu Said) in response to a joint suicide bombing by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Dimona, which killed one Israeli.

On March 6, 2008 the PRC detonated a roadside charge near the Kissufim crossing, killing an Israeli officer and wounding three others, one critically.

The murder of Tali Hatuel and her children was particularly vicious and shocking, not that every murder isn’t evil:

Tali Hatuel and her four daughters were killed when two Palestinian terrorists fired on an Israeli car at the entrance to the Gaza Strip settlement bloc of Gush Katif. They were on their way to campaign against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan. Their white Citroen station wagon spun off the road after the initial shooting, then the attackers approached the vehicle and shot the occupants dead at close range. The Hatuels’ car was riddled with bullets, and the carpet inside was stained with blood. The girls were killed hugging one another. On the car was a bumper sticker saying, “Uprooting the settlements, victory for terror.” — Israel MFA

Tali didn’t live to see the ‘disengagement’ she was so opposed to, and the terrorists got their victory. It didn’t stop the PRC from ‘resisting occupation’ even after every last Jew was gone from Gaza.

Yesterday’s attacks, including the use of buried IEDs, were in keeping with the PRC’s modus operandi. The security services had advance warning, but unfortunately expected the attack at a different time and place. A team from the police YAMAM unit and IDF soldiers from the Golani division were in the area, and their immediate response prevented what could have been a far worse disaster — at the cost of a veteran YAMAM officer and a young Golani soldier.

The PRC kills Americans, too:

On October 15, 2003, a U.S. embassy convoy was on a visit to Gaza to interview ‘Palestinian’ candidates for Fulbright scholarship programs in the United States. The convoy consisted of three fully armored but unmarked Suburbans. The first vehicle was occupied by the diplomats on the interview mission. The second vehicle was occupied by American contract protective security specialists: John Branchizio (36), John Linde (30), and Mark Parsons (31). The third vehicle had agents of the Diplomatic Security Service on a “route and area familiarization” trip.

Just after the convoy entered the Gaza Strip from the Erez checkpoint, an explosion totally destroyed the second vehicle in the motorcade, killing the three specialists. A U.S. embassy document states that the device appeared to have been “placed under the road and remotely detonated as the vehicles passed.” — Israel Matzav

The US demanded that the Palestinian Authority (PA) investigate the attack. PRC leader Amer Qarmut (killed in 2008) admitted that he had dug the hole for the bomb while PA guards watched, although he denied placing the bomb itself. The PA arrested several low-level PRC members who were soon released. The US Court of Appeals for DC has just ruled that the family of one of the contractors has the right to sue the PA in US courts.


The IDF spokesperson reports that more than 25 rockets have been fired into Israel in the past two days. One person was killed and several injured when a Grad missile struck Ashdod.

Always the victim, PA official Nabil Shaath (I don’t know if he is related to the PRC terrorists mentioned above) claims that everything is Israel’s fault:

According to Shaath, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is interested in military escalation in the Strip in a bid to divert attention from the socio-economic crisis in Israel.

He further accused Israel of seeking regional escalation in order to torpedo Palestinian efforts vis-à-vis the United Nations in September. “Israel’s madness will not deter the Palestinian leadership from appealing to the UN, the opposite is true, and it will push the leadership to work harder in its efforts.”

In a press release on Friday Shaath alleged that Israel was looking for an excuse to carry out collective punishment against the Palestinian people saying: “This is a war crime aimed at causing efforts by the Palestinian Authority and other factions to avoid armed conflict to fail.”

Shaath has called on the international community to act swiftly to stop what he calls “Israeli aggression”.

Remarkably, many will agree with him. What will it take for people to understand the truth about the ‘Palestinian cause’ and its exponents?

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