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I just vacationed for two weeks in Israel. This makes me an expert. Now, on to my preconceived notions which I validated by selective observation of the facts.
The highlights of my trip were a private, half-day tour of Judea, my relatives' exceptionally affectionate treatment of me, a visit to Mitzpe Ramon (a crater resulting from erosion, one of three uniquely in Israel), the breathtaking view across the Dead Sea, and the Village Green, a vegetarian and largely organic restaurant in Jerusalem, high in quality and low in price.
People back home expressed concern for our safety. I thank them but didn't share their concern. It is true that we passed through Beersheba, hours before a rocket struck in the vicinity. We visited relatives near Ashdod, where a rocket landed a few hours later. We left the Old City by a route where, hours later, Arabs rioted. Returning to the hotel from the tour of Judea, we saw police cars going to where they barred my friends that night, as they captured two terrorist bombers before they could act. Additional terrorism is described below.
The riot near the Old City was over the combat in Gaza. This shows the solidarity of Arabs and how the small Israel is connected with surrounding areas. Israelis think that "their" Arabs are harmless, but this solidarity demonstrates otherwise. Some Jews found that mistake fatal.
Friends from Judea took me around, and explained the sights and about other areas they felt were too dangerous to explore. We talked as they drove. I asked questions about what the media omit.
Was my activist host's car bugged by the secret police? No, he isn't important enough and obeys the law. Second, would he shoot to kill, if attacked by an Arab. Answer: one gets arrested even for firing warning shots. Taking the time to fire warning shots can get one killed. If one feels one's life threatened, shoot to kill. [An IDF squad has more time and firepower to shoot approaching Arabs in the legs, so as to demobilize rather than to kill.] I believe that Arabs approaching with intent to harm have deadly intent. They attack until stopped.
A couple of days after my tour, an Arab ran through Herzel street in Rehovot screaming in Arabic, "Kill the Jews!" A Chassdic man chased him, and a crowd held him until police arrived to take him away.
An Arab method of ambush is to block the road with rocks. They attack halted cars. I asked whether one could turn around and flee. Answer: when the road is blocked, the Arabs are ready for attempts to flee.
If the blocked people leave their car, they may be beaten badly, lynched, or shot. If they stay in their car, the Arabs will break their windows to get at them. Yes, the Arabs have guns. It is with illegal guns that they shoot at cars from hilltops.
One or two people can't fend off a gang of Arabs without shooting. Knowing that Jews will get into trouble for shooting even in self-defense, the Arabs don't fear retribution. Hence assaulted Jews must shoot Arab assailants, to save their own lives. It must be done fast, before they jump on their victims and disarm them.
Here is another example of Israeli government complicity with terrorism. An Arab tried to drive my guide's friend's son off the road. The son called the police. The Arab told officers that the Jew pulled his gun on him. Guess what? The police believed the Arab. Their excuse: the Arab doesn't have an arrest record and the Jew does. They let the Arab go and arrested the son, who will be put on trial. Arrest records are no criterion, because police rarely arrest Arabs and falsely arrest Jews. Being a known activist, the young man will spend time in jail or at best have to perform community service. He also incurs legal fees.
Arabs came and threw rocks at, and cursed, the soldiers at a roadblock on highway 443 to Tel Aviv. The soldiers were ordered to stand fast, not to arrest the Arabs nor to fire live, rubber, or gas projectiles. This degrades troop morale.
We drove alongside sections of the security fence. The wall was low. Infiltrators could climb over it by ordinary ladder. Arabs in the hills could shoot down over the wall. Walls are ridiculous. Why hide and leave the initiative to the Arabs and have to duck bullets, when Israel has an army that could rout the terrorists?
Along one stretch, P.A. Arabs lived on one side of the fence, Israeli Arabs on the other. The fence did not stop Israeli Arabs from throwing stones at passing cars. This refutes the government claim that its planned territorial cessions would separate Jews from Arabs. A million Muslims live in Israel, where increasing numbers commit terrorism. Even if they didn't commit terrorism, they still would want to take over the country and expel or exterminate the Jews.
My guides referred to one road among several, adjacent to which the Arabs built houses and then harassed passing Jews. If a car has Israeli rather than Territorial license plates, Arabs assume the occupants are Jews, although Israeli Arabs have the same type of plates. In any case, finding the road dangerous, the IDF banned Jewish use of it. That's the government's "solution." Muslims commit aggression, but the government punishes the victims. Even in a supposedly Jewish state, Jews are scapegoated.
Checkpoints don't always delay traffic. When they do, it slows up Jews somewhat, too. Arab or media complaints fail to mention that or that checkpoints are needed because the Muslims commit war crimes and attack civilians.
Two women's organizations come to certain checkpoints (which I did not see) where Arabs regularly pass. One organization is Machson Watch, subsidized by the EU. (The EU subsidizes many organizations that agitate against or try to subvert Israel.) Machson Watch harasses troops guarding checkpoints, warns it will report them to the hostile media if they act zealously, and encourages Arabs to make trouble. As Arabs pass through, they curse the Israeli troops and claim that the area belongs to them. Inhibited, the troops have restrained themselves from strict inspection, taking risks that got them killed or marred. By what perverted logic does the Israeli government then request EU monitoring of Gaza borders or to allow an EU role in the Quartet and Road Map?
The other organization is Women In Green. It comes to thank the troops and to offer refreshment and encouragement.
Before Israel expelled the Jews from Gaza, Women In Green gave refreshments to the Israeli troops there. The government stopped them. It feared their popularity with the troops, whom the government wanted to perform the expulsion. The regime tried to alienate the troops from the Jewish residents.
The government of Israel discriminates against patriots. Thus it detains and sometimes beats up the patriotic Women In Green. Israel, like America, should leave punishment to courts.) By contrast, the regime does not arrest Machsom Watch members for interfering with guard duty and security.
My guides said that much Arab rioting is not reported. They think the omission is so the media can pretend that it is possible to make peace with the Arabs, as if the Muslim Arabs were not fanatically and permanently hostile, like Nazis.
You've probably heard that Fatah terrorists wire donkeys with explosives, to blow up when Israelis approach. They wired a man in a wheel chair, too. Fiendish!
An Arab contractor became good friends with Jews in Efrat. One sensed that the Arab was up to something, and shot him dead. Indeed, the contractor was wearing an explosive vest. (The Jew took quite a chance!)
Arabs in certain areas were peaceful neighbors, until Israeli leftists incited them with the false excuse that Jewish building hindered Arab children from getting to school. But the Arab children didn't pass that way. No matter, the Arabs got riled up; logic be damned. Note, incitement is not "peace now!" Likewise, in the Maon Farms area, leftists told the Arabs that it's their land and called Jewish ownership illegal. This gave the government an excuse to try to demolish the farmhouse. Many Jews came and successfully resisted the improper demolition order. The media condemns this resistance and not the government oppression of Jews. The government takes the Arab side in land disputes, because it thinks it can make a peace agreement if it gives the Arabs the whole territory of Judea-Samaria. Appeasement merely encourages the Arabs to demand more land.
In certain Israeli Arab villages and even parts of Jerusalem, Jews are liable to get murdered if they enter and likely would get lynched if they entered the P.A. By contrast, Arabs feel free to enter Jewish areas. If people thought about it, they would realize how criminal the Arabs are and how tolerant the Jews are.
I saw the Arab area of Abu Tor, within sight of the Old City. It is folly to allow an enemy people within sight, or even within rifle range, of one's capital.
When an Arab stabbed people at a bus stop in Samaria, a rabbi shot him before he could stab more. Police investigated him and confiscated his pistol. How absurd to investigate someone for a shooting that the stabbed bodies proved necessary and in the common defense! Israeli leftist ideology disregards ethics and self-defense. It takes the side of the Arabs, especially against Jews in the Territories, from which it wants Jews to evacuate.
We conclude that the government doesn't want "settlers" defending themselves. The Left has adopted Martin Buber's ideology that it is wrong for the Jews to exercise sovereignty, because power can be abused. That accords with Islamic ideology which opposes Jewish (infidel) sovereignty, especially over Arabs.
I saw Arab houses in eastern, annexed Jerusalem. They are big. Arabs are buying into French Hill, once almost all Jewish-owned, now 40% Arab. Residents sell to Arabs, because (1) As in blockbusting, the first sellers get high prices; and (2) Incoming Arabs harass Jewish residents. Arab gangs start fights with Jewish youth, steal cars, make it dangerous to walk at night, etc.
You've heard of "hilltop youth." Those are Jews who try to establish residency upon Judea-Samaria hilltops, to protect Jewish-owned land in the valleys . They are struggling with the Arabs for the country. Some of the hilltops are within the youths' municipal bounds. Nevertheless, the government opposes them in all cases. That shows that the government intends to abandon those towns, and wants to leave areas clear for the Arabs. So does the State Dept.
The Arabs, however, aren't waiting for areas to be evacuated. They have been seizing hilltops on state land. The media, regime, and State Dept. do not criticize this. They have a different standard for Arabs. Remember the old excuse for the double standard, that they expect more of the Jews? Nonsense! They just don't like Jews. One doesn't hear such an excuse lately. The antisemitism is just too apparent for that excuse to be credible. This is one of the many examples of the US being no friend of Israel, contrary to popular misconception.
The occasional, minor harassment of Arabs rarely becomes personally violent.
One of our first stops was at Gilo. Gilo is a outer neighborhood of Jerusalem, population now about 55,000. It faces the P.A. Arab village of Beit Jallah on the right and Bethlehem on the left, a canyon in between. This neighborhood was annexed to leave the municipality of Jerusalem room for future growth. It still was undeveloped in 1978. Now Gilo has extensive housing, charming and even grand. The Arabs' houses opposite it seem just as good.
Beit Jallah was a largely Christian village, before the Muslims harassed its residents into abandoning their property and taking prosperous businesses with them. Can't blame Israel for the Christian exodus, though the Muslims try to and intimidate local Christian spokesmen to blame Israel.
You may recall that the PLO used to force residents out of some of their houses for the day, so the PLO could use them as firing posts opposite Gilo. Israel was reluctant to demolish those houses, for one thing, because it would punish innocent Christians. For another, because Israel takes a lot of punishment before the government is willing to fight back. It prefers murdered Israelis to foreign press criticism. This is the old Jewish neurosis of catering to gentiles.
What was life like, under siege in Gilo from Beit Jallah, Bethlehem, and other surrounding hills? I saw a fence at the edge of town, erected to block bullets. It couldn't. The Arab houses less than a mile away were higher than it. The terrorists fired into some of the Jews' houses and over them, striking buildings not at the edge of town. They couldn't see whom they were firing at, but they knew all were civilians.
Before Gilo residents installed bullet-proof windows, they had put sand bags and mattresses in front of them. They couldn't look out the windows.
Soldiers were posted on roofs to block attempted infiltration. They had orders, however, not to return fire from Beit Jallah. Official explanation: firing back would imperil peace talks. But the Arabs were in peace talks, too, and did shoot, without imperiling the talks. Apparently, having plenty of ammunition, the PLO besieged the whole population for a year. I heard of no sympathy expressed for the assaulted Jews, but plenty for Gazans even when just embargoed.
Amazingly, no Jews were killed in Gilo, only wounded. Once, as some Jews sat down during Succot, bullets flew in where their heads had been.
Under such abnormal conditions, it is difficult to raise children. Families can't walk a dog or go to the park. One parent taught her young men to shoot without waiting for the other side to fire first. Sometimes IDF rules of combat require letting the other side get off the first shot. Suppose the enemy doesn't miss?
An informant of mine from Gilo explained that the siege ended when: (1) The Israeli Army finally acted, rooting out the terrorists from the Beit Jallah houses; (2) Christians from Bethlehem stimulated international pressure; and (3) PM Barak stepped down and was replaced by Sharon, whom the Arabs feared.
The US wants Israel to cede annexed neighborhoods, including Gilo. It would amount to an unfitting reward for terrorism, for no apparent principle. Residents would lose all they put into their beautiful town. Arabs would usurp it, thereby moving closer to the Jewish neighborhoods of pre-1967 Jerusalem. From there, the Arabs could and would open fire on the parts of Jerusalem that the State Dept. says it is willing for Israel to keep. How to keep it under fire? Why cede areas to the common jihadist enemy of US and Israel?
Think I'm exaggerating what the Arabs would do, if Jerusalem were divided and Arabs got sovereignty over part of the city and surrounding hills? Between 1949 and 1967, Jordan's Arab Legion did control such areas. Arab snipers fired upon Jews. Leftist ideology of concession is so irrational, I call it psychotic. It would restore that kind of war by attrition and the likelihood of invasion across the insecure boundaries that ceding the Territories and the Golan would create.
The ideology claims that concessions bring peace. Unfortunately, the Arabs consider concessions a weakness to exploit by demanding more concessions. Israel has made many concessions. It withdrew from Gaza and Lebanon, but got war. It releases thousands of convicted terrorists, and gets terrorism from a significant proportion of those released. Oh, we have to do it for goodwill and to strengthen Abbas, apologists for appeasement maintain. There is no evidence of goodwill resulting nor of Abbas ever getting strong enough so as not to keep need these releases the way a drug addict keeps needing a fix. Nor are those releases logical if Israel's releasing recidivist terrorists makes Abbas more popular, how peaceable are he and his people? If they wanted to end terrorism, they would keep the terrorists in prison, unable to harm anyone.
Ma'ale Adumim is a planned city of 37,000 Jews in Judea. It is considered the Jews' most beautiful. I found it more uniformly beautiful than Jerusalem and well maintained. Some Israeli towns look as if just plunked down in the desert, but Ma'ale Adumim looks neat. All the roofs, however, have solar water heaters, required by Israeli law. The town has no traffic lights, just traffic circles.
A few Arabs have bought into the town, provided as they were with Saudi funds. I contrast that with an idealistic, maternal cousin of mine, who once moved into an Arab hamlet. They were so nasty to her that she had to move out.
My guides showed me how the Arabs have spread around this town, as they have been spreading out around Jerusalem. It is a kind of strategic encirclement, subsidized by S. Arabia. It is a making of "facts on the ground," in order to press territorial claims, something which, when practiced by Jews, the "world" righteously condemns. (Oslo did not prohibit expansion of Jewish towns in the Territories.) When you hear this kind of righteous protest against the Jews, ignore it. It is not based on ethics or principle. It is based on a hypocritical ideology and sometimes on antisemitism.
This Arab expansion, as usual done outside proper municipal planning, included Issaway, where, from the 1980s, Arabs threw rocks at traffic on the Maale Adumim Road. Problem was, the government restrained security forces from giving chase. When police were not present, Arabs came down from the hills and threw rocks. When police came, the Arabs fled but were not pursued. When police did catch teenaged Arab culprits, the youths were out of jail within 24 hours. Police also were ordered not to beat up the youths. As a result of all this, the Arabs were not afraid to commit this traffic terrorism. (I don't suggest police beat up Arabs they catch in crime. But this indication that the government can restrain police from physical abuse makes its abuse of Jewish protestors all the more heinous. This respect for Arab youth makes governmental, harsh detention of Jewish girls who protest all the more disgusting.)
When Israel opened an alternative tunnel road, and assigned a police car to watch the road, the stoning stopped, a few months ago. Many professionals live in beautiful homes in Issaway. Can't blame poverty for their terrorism. Terrorism is motivated by religion and psychology, not economics.
The start of the old Maale Adumim road near French Hill is a hitchhiking post. Jews headed for towns in the Territories hitch rides with people whom they know or who look like "settlers." Some Arabs dressed to look like Jews let hitchhikers in, and murdered them. In the 1990s, other Arab drivers, as they passed by, shot at waiting Jews. Arabs on foot attacked Jews with knives, axes or guns. The government built a Border Police booth there and more police. This seems to have stopped the attacks on waiting people. Hopefully the Jews will be more careful about which cars they get into. My guide has seen Border Police watching the cars very closely.
When an Israeli bus is destroyed, my guide hears the Arabs on the next hill celebrating. She told me that Arab patients in Hadassah Hospital applauded on hearing news of a successful terrorist raid. The Jews, who pay Israeli taxes disproportionately, often treat enemy Arabs medically (restoring them to jihad).
My guides have heard Arabs in the surrounding hills celebrate weddings by firing rifles. That turns some weddings into funerals. When Jews fire warning shots above marauding Arabs, police arrest them. Usually the government confiscates Jews' weapons (but not Arabs'), claiming it will return them. Often it does not.
The day after my tour, an Arab tried to blow up the gas tanks in a gas station in the industrial section of Maale Adumim, to enflame the whole town. Police shot him to death in time.
The next evening, my host's road was closed after police found three terrorists in a car, wearing yarmulkes as a disguise.
The night after that, all the rabbis in Maale Adumim announced that they had met with security forces who urged that anyone possessing a gun carry it to shul on Shabbat and bring along turned on cell phones. My host loaded her gun and attended prayers with it.
Security was all around and inside of Maale Adumim. It took 2 1/2 hours, three times as long, to get into Jerusalem, because of the high security.
I've seen contemptuous Arab remarks about Israeli soldiers cell-phoning their mothers. It is not, as Arabs think, a sign of weakness. Rather, it is a sign of compassion. Mothers worry. The soldiers don't. They spare their mothers.
The IDF bans the use of cell-phones during missions. One fellow called, anyway. Hizbullah located his cell. In seconds, a missile struck the house he was in, killing three Israeli soldiers. That takes a high level of technology.
Hizbullah had amassed such electronic equipment in their tunnels. The Israelis who came upon them were envious of their quantity and quality.
Some Gaza houses look poor, outside. Inside, they are posh: gold faucets, plasma TV in each room, bejeweled women, luxury galore. The fruit of stolen foreign aid. News broadcasts don't show the porsches and villas in Gaza.
Hamas forces people to let them use houses and children as shields. In one raid, the IDF troops found a family on the ground floor. A soldier who understood Arabic heard a member of the family say she would not go into the cellar. He figured out that there must be terrorists in the cellar. He tipped off his commander, who had the unit escort the family upstairs. Then the unit surprised the terrorists in the cellar, working electronic equipment.
Israel treats medically P.A. children, sometimes clandestinely. Misplaced and unappreciated humanitarianism, as would be compassion for hardened Hitler Youth. Let the Arabs treat their own! Israel's money could be better spent on relieving Jewish children of the trauma from terrorist bombardment.
A usually level-headed Israeli told me of a lecture he absorbed about Arab and Jewish housing inextricably intertwined. Then he said that alien Jerusalem Arabs get some welfare benefits and the offer of citizenship, which would bring more benefits. He failed to realize that government welfare and citizenship policies, such as those in Jerusalem, and policies of letting Arab usurp state land around Jewish towns, make the problem grow. Those policies should be reversed.
His wife started to rationalize on what are the boundaries of Jerusalem. She indicated a willingness to concede Jerusalem territory that has Arabs in it, in order to avoid becoming outvoted by Arabs. That kind of rationalization, when done by Israeli officials, tends to be phony. The real solution is neither another Arab state nor accepting Arab citizens. It is to encourage the Arabs to leave.
How much murder and vituperation must the Arabs indulge in, before the Israelis realize that Muslim Arabs are not fit to live with? When will Israelis decide that if the two peoples must be separated, then they, the victims of Arab aggression, should not pull out of parts of the Jewish homeland, but should encourage the Arabs to pull back into their own homelands? What about negotiation, some people would challenge. If you learned not to expect fruitful negotiation with Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Adolph Hitler, or Joseph Stalin, don't expect it with Assad, Nasrallah, Admadinejad, or Abbas. After all, preceding the Arab war of 1947 or 1967, the Arabs themselves bragged that they would slaughter the Jews as savagely as Genghis Khan had slaughtered Baghdadis.
[Editor's Note: American For A Safe Israel (AFSI) has
run tours from the U.S.A. to Samaria, Judea and eastern Jerusalem
several times a year for many years. Contact them by email at
email@example.com. Helen Freedman from AFSI is a superb guide; contact her
directly at firstname.lastname@example.org]
Richard Shulman is a veteran defender of Israel on several web-based
forums. His comments and analyses appear often on Think-Israel. He
provides cool information and right-on-target overviews. He
distributes his essays by email. To subscribe, write him at
This essay was submitted January 19, 2009.
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