Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Olmert's Anti-Yitzhar Remarks
Prime Minister Olmert's prepared remarks to the Cabinet on Sunday morning, in which he barely related to the attack against the Jews and concentrated at length on the latter's retaliation, continue to draw reaction.
An Arab terrorist entered Yitzhar's outlying Shalhevet neighborhood early Sabbath morning, set fire to a house that was empty at the time - the family had gone to Rehovot to celebrate a grandmother's 90th birthday - and then stabbed a nine-year-old boy and threw him over a fence 4 meters high. The boy, who fought back and broke the terrorist's knife, landed on a bush and was only lightly hurt. Afterwards, men of Yitzhar descended into the nearby hostile village of Asira el-Jabaliya, to where the terrorist was seen fleeing, threw rocks at houses and shot into the air.
Olmert condemned the Jewish response, using words such as "taking the law into their own hands," "brutality," and "pogrom." He further accused the Jews of having "used live weapons and wounded Palestinian residents," and said that there had been "no basis to assume... that [the targeted Arab] residents were at all connected, whether directly or indirectly, to the terrorist attack in Yitzhar."
Danny Dayan, Chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, said that no evidence had been produced that anyone in the targeted Arab village was wounded by Jewish gunfire. Olmert thus spoke without checking the facts, Dayan implied.
In addition, the spokesman for the town of Yitzhar said that Arabs of the targeted village, Asira el-Jabaliya, had set fire to Yitzhar seven times in the past three months - thus putting the lie to the Prime Minister's claim that there was "no reason to assume that [they] were at all connected" with the terrorist attack.
Other commentators related to the fact that Olmert made such short shrift of the attack against the Jews. "It is the very height of racism," wrote Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA, "to act on the working assumption that the Palestinians... should not be held accountable for their violence as a community, nor for their leadership to be expected to both condemn and take measures against Palestinians who engage in violence."
Lerner states that the lack of "any call to the Palestinians in general, and the PA leadership in particular, to condemn and help prevent future acts of Palestinian violence illustrates the low esteem that [Olmert] holds for them."
"The same attitude - that nothing can be expected from the Palestinian[s] - is reflected in similar statements by Peace Now, leftist MKs and others," Lerner concludes.
Olmert Should be the Last One to Preach
Finally, many public figures noted the absurdity of Olmert speaking out against "taking the law into one own's hands," given the recent police recommendation that he should be indicted for several apparent crimes, including bribery, fraud, breach of trust and the like.
MK Zevulun Orlev, head of the National Religious Party, said, "Yes, no one may take the law into his hands. Bu the Prime Minister, for whom the law is not a guide, and who failed in the elementary mission of preventing a pogrom against Jews, is the last one with the ethical authority to preach on this matter."
MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said, "Olmert would be well-advised, as his failed term in office comes to an end, not to attack citizens, not even settlers, against whom he carried out a pogrom in Amona right at the beginning of his term in office."
"Aside from the corruption and the failed Second Lebanon War," Edelstein said, "Olmert's term in office will be remembered for the drop in civil security - the direct result of which is the fact that some take the law into their own hands."
A coalition-member MK - Yitzchak Galanti (Pensioners) - said that a "pogrom" was that which was "perpetrated against the Jews in Kishinev and elsewhere, with the goal of killing as many as possible. This was no pogrom. The settlers are a permanent target of terror attacks, and it cannot be that IDF soldiers would just stand by and allow this to happen."
NIne-Year-Old Saves Town
"The residents of Yitzhar acted the way they should have and responded as was necessary," the Yesha Rabbis Council said in a statement. "When the government prevents the IDF from responding and taking action, and a 9-year-old boy saves the town, there is no alternative other than to praise the residents of Yitzhar on their actions and their courage. May others learn from them."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak was more even-handed than Olmert in his remarks, saying Sunday afternoon, "The events in Samaria and Judea prove that firm action against terrorism is needed, while at the same time ensuring law enforcment in the country."
Dozens of youths from Yitzhar and nearby Jewish communities established a small outpost on a hilltop near the hostile Arab village on Sunday. Police and army forces evicted them by the afternoon, but the youths said they would return.
Also on Sunday afternoon, Arabs attacked a Jewish bus near Yitzhar, throwing paint-filled bottles and causing damage to the bus.
Itamar Posen, the General Secretary of Yitzhar, related to the retaliation carried out by his neighbors: "Our official policy is that there should be cooperation with the army. But if the feeling among the people is that their security is dependent on their own actions, this is a feeling that must arouse some self-reckoning in the army. If a citizen thinks that if he does not respond, the Arabs will return - this must make some people in the army think."
Posen said that town officials are working in the schools and kindergartens, seeking out those who may need counseling in wake of the near-tragic attack. "In addition, we are working to help the family whose house was burnt and who lost their property."
Hundreds of Calls
The Shomron Regional Council and the town of Yitzhar have received "hundreds of calls" from people wishing to help the family or to otherwise show solidarity with those living there. "In the face of the smears and slurs by Olmert and the left-wing against us, we see the real Land of Israel people in their full glory," said Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika.