Sunday, September 14, 2008
Olmert Lashes Out at Yesha Jews
"When the regime is weak and the government is corrupt, people who feel that their safety has been thrown to the winds get up and act in protest."
There will be no pogroms against non-Jews," Olmert angrily scolds, referring to the retaliation carried out by Jews who had been earlier victimized in a stabbing/arson attack.
Under fire from government figures and the media, with little sympathy for the Arab arson, stabbing and near-multiple-murders they suffered, residents of the Shomron (Samaria) town of Yitzhar say that government weakness and corruption, together with left-wing self-criticism of Jews, is a deadly combination.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert began his weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday with a scathing attack on the beleagured residents of Yitzhar. Quickly dismissing the arson-and-stabbing as "serious and harsh," and adding in the same sentence that "our security forces are dealing with these issues and will reach those who were involved and will do what needs to be done, as they do so admirably throughout the year," he then went on to his main point, some 12 sentences long. He sharply rebuked the residents of Yitzhar for retaliating "by assaulting Arab residents in a nearby Palestinian village. They used live weapons and wounded Palestinian residents even though there was no basis to assume, and no knowledge to the effect, that these residents were at all connected, whether directly or indirectly, to the terrorist attack in Yitzhar."
"In actuality," Yitzhar spokesman Yigal Amitai said, "Arabs of Asira el-Kabaliye have set fire to the fields of Yitzhar seven times in recent weeks, yet the army and the police did not take action to prevent these attacks in advance, nor to thwart them as they were happening, nor to apprehend the guilty parties afterwards. Instead, OC Central Command Gen. Gad Shamni chose to issue orders to one of our residents, distancing him from his home for four months."
"We therefore now have reason to fear," Amitai continued, "that the terrorist who burnt down the home of the Ben-Shlomo family, tried to murder the Ofan family next-door, and then stabbed nine-year-old Tuvia Shtetman, will also not be caught by the police or army."
Olmert Speaks Out Against Law-Breaking
Olmert, against whom the police recently recommended a three-pronged criminal indictment, then spoke out against "taking the law into one's hands." He said, "This phenomenon of taking the law into one's hands, of violent disturbances, of brutality by Jewish elements living in communities in Judea and Samaria, whether in recognized communities or in illegal outposts, is intolerable, and will be dealt with sharply and harshly by the law enforcement authorities of the State of Israel."
"We view with derision the chorus of the hypocrites of the extreme left-wing who are not alarmed by the stabbing of a 9-year-old boy and attempted murder, but scream with all their might about some broken windows."
Olmert implied that the Jews of Yitzhar carried out a pogrom against the Arabs of the hostile village. "There will be no pogroms against non-Jewish residents in the State of Israel," he said sharply. "We have law enforcement authorities. We have police. We have security services. First and foremost, we have a military that knows how to deal with incidents in which Jews are attacked and to fight terrorists, and it will not lend a hand to those who take the law into their hands and attack innocents, as was done over the weekend in the gravest manner."
Response to Olmert
In response to Olmert's remarks, Yitzhar spokesman Amitai said, "The words of the Prime Minister are encouraging and calming. Surrounded as we are by a sea of corruption, it is refreshing to see that there is at least one person, Prime Minister Olmert, for whom the preservation of law is important; his words render him our ethical beacon of light..."
Israeli Media Reports
The Israeli media reported on the Sabbath-morning Arab terrorist attack in Yitzhar throughout the Sabbath, concentrating less on the Arab stabbing and arson and more on the Jewish retaliation.
The arson was reported throughout the day as an attack on an "abandoned building," when in actuality, it is thoroughly lived in by a family with two children that was miraculously away for the Sabbath.
In addition, it took several hours before it was reported that the terrorist not only stabbed the child several times, but also threw him down four meters into an area filled with construction materials.
No mention of the six previous arson attacks against Yitzhar was detected.
The Army and Yitzhar
Itamar Posen, General Secretary of Yitzhar, said, "We do not have specific complaints against the army regarding this particular incident, but we do feel that their actions in general cause an atmosphere that encourages these attacks on us. For one thing, they don't take sufficient pre-emptive actions in [the hostile Arab village] Asira el-Kabaliya... In addition, when they distance Jews from their homes, like they did with Akiva HaCohen of the Shalhevet Yam outpost here [and two other Jews in Shomron] this month, this signals the Arabs that the army is more concerned with their safety than with Jewish security."
"In addition," Posen said, "the statements by military officials that are constantly quoted on the radio are mainly against Yitzhar, and less against the Arabs. We spoke with the regional commander here, and he said that the media quotes only the parts that it likes."
Mayor Mesika Scorns Left-Wing Response
Mayor Gershon Mesika of the Shomron Regional Council said, "The IDF has long refrained from completing the electronic defense system around Yitzhar because of an argument with the town, despite the constant warnings of the dangers of terrorist infiltrations... This entire attack, and the events that followed it, could have been prevented."
In response to the criticism of the retaliation, Mesika said, "We view with derision the chorus of the hypocrites of the extreme left-wing who are not alarmed by the stabbing of a 9-year-old boy and attempted murder, but scream with all their might about some broken windows."
"We're Not Chumps"
Baruch Marzel of the Jewish Front said, "The Arabs must understand that the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are not chumps or saps... The army would be better off dealing with those who attempted to murder a Jewish boy, and not with those who sought to defend themselves."
MK Eldad and Libman
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said that the Jews' retaliation must be understood in the proper context: "Over the past few weeks, the Jews of Judea and Samaria have felt totally abandoned by the army and police, who are busy giving out orders distancing Jews from their homes and destroying Jewish homes - while at the same time giving thousands of rifles to Abu Mazen's forces, ignoring attacks on Jews and Jewish property, and overlooking thousands of illegally-built Arab houses in territory under full Israeli control."
"This is the backdrop to the violence shown by Jews in Yesha," Eldad said, "who understand that if they do not protect themselves against the Arabs, no one else will do it for them."
Yehuda Libman of Yitzhar, whose brother Shlomo was murdered, together with Harel Bin-Nun, by terrorists just outside Yitzhar ten year ago, said, "Our family has a long account with the Arabs of Asira al-Kabaliya. It is too bad that the left-wing does not recognize the true enemy. The left-wing's criticism is part of the confusion of Jewish identity, and a form of self-flogging. I do not justify violence, but the reality is that when the regime is weak and the government is corrupt, people who feel that their safety has been thrown to the winds get up and act in protest."