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by Patricia Berlyn


Whose paths are crooked, And who are devious in their ways ...
-- Proverbs 2:15

There is no judgment in their goings, They have made their paths crooked.
Whoever treads on them does not know peace
-- Isaiah 59:8

The Kadima [Forward] Party now ruling Israel came into being by grabbing seats in the Knesset that the voters had given to other parties with different platforms and different principles. [See Issue No. 61]. A gang that usurped power by so crooked a maneuver is not likely thereafter to go straight. Indeed, its declared intentions if carried out will drive or push or lure Israel down crooked paths that can lead only to an abyss.

Foremost among the Kadimites are:

1] Ehud Olmert -- He was elected to the Knesset as No. 34 on the Likud Party List, and by a political fluke became Acting Prime Minister of Israel, in which post he acts by his own recently proclaimed credo: "We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies."

He is too tired to mount any effective response much less deterrence when the terrorist heirs to the abandoned Gaza Strip rain missiles and rockets at Israeli towns almost daily. But he has a sudden access of energy when it comes to physical as well as verbal violence against loyal and faithful Israelis who are dedicated to the redemption of the Land of Israel.

2] Shimon Peres -- He has never won an election but has been Prime Minister three times and Foreign Minister three times. He created the Crooked Path of the Oslo Accords that have inflicted more damage on Israel than all its enemies together have managed to do. [See Issue No. 49]

3] Tzippi Livni -- She was the Minister of Justice who classified opposition to the Gaza Expulsion plan as "a threat to democracy" and ruled that thirteen-year-old girls who peacefully protested the plan must be held in prison for "criminal ideology". [Issues Nos. 50, 55]

She is now also Minister of Foreign Affairs, in which role she told the world that Israel's right to exist depends on satisfying the demands of its foreign critics. At a prestigious conference on public affairs she sounded the stirring cry "Yes, Yes, Yes to a Palestinian State!"

4] Meir Sheetrit -- When he was a Likud member of the Knesset he refused to vote against the Oslo Accords. He now holds several Kadima portfolios, among them Minister of Education. He approach to education was displayed during a visit to a Junior High School for Girls, where a school official observed Sheetrit's conduct toward the students: "He interrupted them, yelled a lot, and mocked them again and again."

Some of these girls had seen or experienced the brutality inflicted on the peaceful protestors at the demolition of Amona [see below]. To them the Minister of Education declared: "Those who lived in the illegal Amona are the evil ones, which means that you are the evil ones."

5] Shaul Mofaz -- He was formerly Chief-of-Staff of the IDF [Israel Defense Forces], and thereafter was appointed Minister of Defense in the Likud government. He announced that unlike some members of Likud he would be loyal to the party and not switch over to Kadima and honored his pledge for a couple of days before hid switch.

General Mofaz was a moving figure in the Gaza Retreat-Expulsion, and after it was perpetrated he fulfilled his responsibility for security on the Gaza frontier by obeying the anti-security orders literally shrieked at him by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. He assured the Knesset that security safeguards would be in place, but in fact there were and are no such safeguards. When he orders a "response" to a terror attack on Israel, it is one designed to do minimal if any damage to the terrorists.

He has announced a long-range principle for Israel's future: If the PA/Hamas terrorist regime does not recognize Israel and negotiate peace with it, then Israel will have no choice but unilateral surrender of much of the redeemed historic Land of Israel and forced removal of its Jewish population.

Gideon Ezra -- He is Minister of Internal Security (a post more simply called Minister of Police). He was in charge of the action at Amona described below.

The notions that produced the Gaza Retreat-Expulsion still prevail in policymaking:

1] encourage Israel's terrorist enemies to believe they had won a victory and more terrorism would bring them more victories;

2] degrade Israel's standing and repute as a staunch nation, bringing not international approval but invigorated international contempt and demands;

3] expose the nation and its residents to constant bombardment of missiles and assorted styles of terrorist attacks when they walk in the street or ride on the roads;

4] abandon the 10,000 refugees they tore from their homes and communities and livelihoods, with callousness and cruelty revealed in an investigation and report by the State Comptroller;

5] render a nation that does not share Acting Prime Minister Olmert's weary defeatism without confidence in its government or the political system that produced it.

Crooked paths exact tolls described in "Betrayal of A Nation,"
by Yehuda Poch,, 9 February 2006:

This past Friday, February 3, a 7-month-old baby was seriously injured when a Kassam rocket hit his home in Kibbutz Karmiya. His mother, father, and another relative, were also injured.

Kassam rocket attacks are hardly news in Israel anymore. There have been thousands of them in the past two years. Five people have been killed in such attacks in the past 18 months, and dozens more injured. Tens of thousands of people live in constant fear and tension, leading to additional health problems, reduction in educational performance, missed work hours, and incredible strain on social services in the communities near the Gaza Strip.

On January 19, I attended the Bar Mitzvah of an Ethiopian immigrant boy in Sderot. His 2-year-old sister and 4-year-old cousin were killed 15 months earlier when a Kassam rocket landed in their grandmother's yard where they were playing.

This boy's father is an employee of the City of Sderot, where he serves as a liaison with the Ethiopian community. His job includes calming the fears of his community every time a rocket hits the city. He tells them it will be okay, that the rockets are not very accurate and don't do a lot of damage.

But after his own baby daughter was killed in one such attack, how can he continue to even mouth these words? He couldn't even begin to think of what to say. And he couldn't even bring himself to think about planning for his oldest son's Bar Mitzvah. It took the work of the One Family Fund a charitable organization helping victims of terrorism -- to make the Bar Mitzvah happen.

At the Bar Mitzvah, I sat next to the Director of the National Insurance Institute branch in Sderot. He is a jovial man with an easy smile and a reassuring presence. He told me that his office's workload has more than tripled since Kassam rockets started raining down on his city. The local social services department has seen more than a five-fold increase in requests for assistance. There aren't enough social workers in the city to deal with the increased workload. Schools are seeing an across-the-board reduction in grades and performance.

[...] The family in Karmiya whose 7-month-old son was hurt last weekend used to live in a community in the Gaza Strip. They were forced out of their homes by the government in August. Since then, they have been living in a poorly built and unprotected temporary home that was completely destroyed by a small missile that scored an almost direct hit.

They were among 53 such families living in Karmiya, all of whom left the Kibbutz immediately after the missile strike. 'You cannot blame them,' the Kibbutz secretary told the media. 'In recent weeks the rocket attacks have come closer and closer, people are worried and scared, the children are suffering, people are scared to leave their homes,' she said.

The secretary also said she is fed up. All in all there are 500 people living on the kibbutz -- including the Gaza evacuees, she said, and a total of only seven security rooms. 'We are helpless, I have received no response to my requests to beef up and enhance security, the children are scared, we haven't received a response from anyone,' she said. 'It is about time the government dealt with the situation, a solution must be found for our kibbutz -- evacuees or veteran kibbutz members, we are all one family and need to feel secure,' she said.

But this is not just about Kibbutz Karmiya, or even Sderot. Similar missile attacks are now being launched at Ashkelon, and at various kibbutzim and moshavim that lie along the boundary with the Gaza Strip. One such attack claimed the life of Dana Galkowicz in Moshav Netiv Ha'asara. Dana was 22, and was engaged. She was killed while sitting on the porch of her fiance's home.

The Israeli government, under the leadership of first Ariel Sharon and now Ehud Olmert, and with Shaul Mofaz as defense minister, has completely and utterly failed in its responsibility to protect and defend its citizens against armed attacks. In the five years since Sharon took office, 1042 people have been killed by Palestinian terrorists in Israel, among them five people in Kassam attacks, and at least the same number in mortar attacks launched from the Gaza Strip.

Their response has been a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, in the hope that the attacks would stop. Instead, more than 300 Kassams have been launched since the withdrawal, with no let up in sight.

But it is worse than that. Every person living in Israel knows that we live under the shadow of hate and random murder. We know that we are not wanted here by any of our neighbors. And yet we still live here. We are still coming here -- in increasing numbers -- by choice.

The reason we are here, and why we keep coming, is that for the Jewish nation as a whole -- throughout history -- Israel represents something. Israel represents for us the only place in the world we can really call home, the only place in the world where Jewish life and Jewish blood are to be protected above all else. Israel represents our destiny.

These are powerful ideas that demand a powerful loyalty. That loyalty is not lacking on the part of the people of Israel. The people remain. They continue to live under the strain and exhaustion and fear that have become their norms. That is the power of such loyalty.

Betraying such powerful ideas is immensely dangerous. Babies are being killed and injured. Young boys cannot have a proper Bar Mitzvah. Social service networks for whole cities are collapsing, and tens of thousands of people feel threatened and unsafe. But the danger of such betrayal lies in that it threatens not only an entire nation, but also an entire history.

It is dangerous because in order to betray such powerful ideas and such powerful loyalty, the betrayers need to be powerful as well. And such power in the hands of people with such destructive intentions is never safe."

A regime that does not bestir itself against terrorists committed to the destruction of Israel finds one foe that inspires it to fierce action: Those Israelis who cling to their historical convictions and traditions and way of life, and love the Land of Israel too deeply to cast it away like a chip in a poker game.

The perpetrators of the Oslo Accords were set on breaking these Jewish hearts and crushing this Jewish spirit. The Jewish refugees from Gaza are despised for their Jewish hearts and spirits. For a while some Osloids and Disengageniks masked their motives with pseudo-strategic excuses. At Amona the only masks were the ones worn by some members of the regime's warriors.

Amona is a neighborhood in Hebron, a city with an almost unbroken Israelite presence since the time of the Patriarchs. Jews of the Hebron community built nine houses there, on land that is legally Jewish property. The regime refused them a building permit, and condemned Amona as "illegal". The Jews in Amona, after exhausting appeals to the courts, agreed to abide by the regime's demands and remove their houses and leave the land that belonged to them.

Rather than permit this quiet resolution of the matter, Olmert and his henchmen determined on a one-sided battle -- guaranteed to be one-sided because the Israelis who assembled at Amona as a symbol of protest and dissent clearly had no intention of violent resistance. Many were teen-age boys and girls.

Olmert sent against them

1] IDF troops, whose job used to be to protect Jews from their enemies, not attack them on behalf a political ploy., 1 February 2006, poses the question:

"If the [IDF] chief of staff has thousands of troops to spare to remove nine families from their West Bank homes, why is the army falling down on its job of protecting Israeli villages and towns from Palestinian missile attacks from the Gaza Strip where terrorists now run wild?

[Comment: It can also be asked -- Why do governments year after year ignore "building without a permit" of thousands of Arab-owned edifices in Israel?]

2] The Yassam riot squads of the Border Police, mounted on German police horses, swinging batons and truncheons. Many of them did not display the name-tags required by law.

What happened in that battle is now the subject of an investigation by the Knesset. Olmert tried and failed to prevent an investigation. He vowed it would be shut down "the day after the election". Mofaz and Ezra will not permit soldiers or police under their control to testify, even those who wish to do so.

But they cannot erase all the evidence of what happened at Amona. [For example, reports, photographs and video films on the website]

They cannot prevent three members of the Knesset who were present from reporting the doings -- doings that landed two of them in the hospital, along with more than 300 other victims of Kadimiite-style law enforcement.

They cannot squash the reports of witnesses who attest that the police and soldiers received orders from their superiors to be brutal and carried them out.

A retired IDF officer was a present at Amona and was himself injured there. His experience and testimony as reported in Ha'Aretz, 20 February 2006:

A retired Israel Defense Forces colonel who was present at the evacuation of nine structures in the West Bank outpost of Amona submitted a complaint Monday alleging police brutality against protesters who clashed with security forces.

Colonel (res.) Moti Yogev petitioned the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department for an inquiry into claims that Border Policemen, without provocation, struck young girls who asked to exit the vicinity where the clashes were taking place.

In his petition, Yogev writes that close to 11 A.M. on the day of the incident, an entire Border Police unit descended on a group of girls who, along with their teacher, were pinned against the wall, 'begging [the officers] to allow them to leave the riot area.'

'The officers began shoving them and hitting them for no reason,' Yogev writes.

Yogev recalled how he approached an officer believed to be the commander of a police unit and requested that the security forces cease striking the girls and allow them to leave the scene. [...] Yogev said that he witnessed 'horses trampling over people lying underneath their horseshoes', a police commander who ordered his officers to catch young protesters who were loitering peacefully and to 'just hit them'.

Yogev also recounts how police officers entered a building where girls had locked arms. One of the girls told an officer: 'My brother, don't hit me. I'm your sister'.

Yogev said the officer 'answered her in a Russian accent: "Shut up you Jewish bitch" and brutally struck her' [...]

On Monday, a human rights groups representing the Yesha council of settlements revealed that three policemen who were at Amona volunteered information about the day's events, including the claim that police received unequivocal instructions to 'crack open heads'."

Roni Daniel, reporting from the scene for Channel Two television:

"The policemen here are raining blows down on the settlers one after the other. The blows are unnecessary, they are hitting just to vent their rage, there is no need for it. The police behavior on the roofs has to be investigated. The violence here is unnecessary."

There are also charges that

-- police directed foul language and gross indecencies toward modest religious girls
-- people committing no violence and making no resistance were repeatedly beaten and trampled and even thrown from windows
-- police threw rocks at youngsters on roofs to provoke them into throwing them back, and then claimed the youngsters attacked the police
-- first-aid workers from the Magen David Adom volunteer ambulance service were attacked and abused by the police

Olmert compares the peaceful protestors at Amona with the Arab terrorist murderers of Hamas. Sheetrit brands them and their supporters "the evil ones". One of the miscreants speaks for himself in a letter written by Yaakov Tessler, 17 years old, addressed to the region's IDF commander:

"Dear Central Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, Peace and blessing.

I feel an obligation to turn to you, as one who is entrusted with the values of the army and the rule of law on the one hand, and with Jewish values and the Torah's commandments, on the other.

I would like to address the events that occurred during the evacuation of the nine houses in Amona.

As one who did not merit being in Gush Katif during the evacuation there, I felt a deep solidarity with the protest actions of the Gush Katif residents. I felt that this time, I could express my feelings by protesting. [...]

I prepared myself for the evacuation, with the intention of undergoing this event - the evacuation of houses from the Land of Israel and a struggle - together with the cream of the crop of Israeli youth, struggling for their Land and inheritance with dignity and valor. I never dreamt or imagined that I would soon undergo such humiliation, murderous punches and injuries (my eye was saved from permanent damage only by miracle) by the policemen of the State of Israel, over whom you, as the Region Commander, commanded.

I hereby declare that I held nothing in my hand, I threw nothing, I did not fight, I did not hit and I did not curse anyone. I sat in one of the houses with the understanding that very soon, I would be asked to leave, in accordance with a political decision and court order.

As I was sitting in the house, a group of Yassam police entered and did not make any request for us to leave. Instead, they simply started hitting us with clubs, very forcefully and painfully, as if those sitting in front of them were criminals and murderers.

When I tried to go out, and despite my telling the Yassamniks that I was going on my own and that I didn't need to be dragged or hit, they struck me for no reason: They smashed my head against the wall, kicked me in my back, threw me on the floor, and hit me very hard with their clubs on my head, eyes and nose, to the point where I was severely and painfully injured.

All this occurred as I was asking them to be allowed to leave the house.

Up to this very minute, the feelings of dread and fear pursue me, entirely shaking up my feelings towards the law, the police, the army, the Supreme Court, and all the government institutions.

I would be very happy if your honor would respond to this letter, which is written from the depths of my heart.

Why, when you saw these things happening to me and my friends (there are tens of testimonies), did you not intervene and stop the evacuation? Why did you not tell the truth when you were interviewed?

How could you have planned and approved such a sensitive mission as the evacuation of parts of the Land of Israel with orders for such terrible violence against the most idealistic youths in Israeli society? [...]

Signed with sorrow, with thanks and blessing,
      Yaakov Tessler"

Shortly after this letter was sent, General Naveh made an abject public apology -- to King Abdullah II of Jordan, for having suggested that his Hashemite dynasty might not reign forevermore.

Patricia Berlyn is a writer and editor who is a native of New York, N.Y. and now resides in Israel.

This essay is archived as "A Time to Speak -- Messages About Israel", Vol. VI:2 (No. 62) (February 2006 -- Shevet-Adar 5766)

"A Time To Speak" appears once a month, and each issue is on a theme that relates to Israel and the Middle East past and present, including history, background, current events, analysis and comment. All issues appear on its website: A complimentary subscription to the e-mail edition is available by request to:


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