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Tag: Hebron

Kutcher Visits the Jewish Homeland

Ashton Kutcher in JerusalemOneJerusalem is in no position to judge another’s religious affiliation. Therefore, when Ashton Kutcher made it publicly known that under the auspices of the Berg Modern Kabbalah Dynasty – if we may call it that – he is indeed an adherent to this particular brand of the Jewish faith, despite his Roman Catholic upbringing.

Well, Israel was happy to have Ashton Kutcher visit last week. The occasion? It was the birthday party of the founder of the Kabbalah Center, Rabbi Shraga Berg.

Well, Mr. Kutcher also visited the Tower of David and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and even stopped by Abu Ghosh for some of the world’s finest humus.
Demi Moore wearing red string braceletOne of the most impressive stops on Kutcher’s itinerary was a visit to Hebron, where he saw firsthand the tomb of the Patriarchs of the Jewish faith. On several occasions Demi and Ashton were seen wearing the famous Kabbalah Red String from the Tomb of Rachel. He also visited the grave of Joshua the elder in a village called Kafel-Hareth, outside of Nablus. He was greeted their by IDF Colonel Avi Gil, commander of the Ephraim Brigade who gave the 32-year-old American actor a baseball hat bearing the logo of his brigade.
 

The News and Opinions blog, The Promised Land wrote:
 

“I wonder if Ashton Kutcher knows what poor judgment he demonstrated yesterday. Both Nablus and Hebron are well within the occupied territories. For more than 40 years now, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in these cities have no political or civil rights, can’t travel, work or study freely, and are tried in Israeli military courts under British colonial laws. The area of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron is particularly nasty. Entire streets are forbidden to Palestinians, kept only for the use of a tiny and radical settlers’ community, which frequently harass and abuse the Arab residents.”

 
Let’s assume, quite to the contrary, that if there were any political motives behind the visit, it was a religious pilgrimage in the face of Islamic-fascism and anti-Semitism. The blog post continued:

“Did anyone tell Ashton Kutcher that in 1994 a Jewish Terrorist named Baruch Goldstien (another resident of Jewish Hebron) opened fire on the Arabs praying there, killing 29 and wounding more than a hundred? Does Kutcher understand that coming to Hebron to pray with the Jewish community there is like riding into a black neighborhood in Alabama, 1950, with a KKK group? Does he realize that going to Nablus with an army hat is seen in the same way as going there on a Tank?”

Ashton Kutcher is a follower of Kabbalah, not Islamism – why should he care? Besides, will anyone remind the author of the Promised Land blog that on August 23 and 24 of 1929, Arabs massacred sixty-seven Jews in Hebron, which was then part of the British Mandate of Palestine…

Tell Me Lies Tell Me Sweet Little Lies

At least 30 Arab youths who barricaded themselves in the al-Aqsa Mosque plaza at the Temple Mount and hurled stones at passers-by, provoked Israeli Police last night and early this morning.

Stones were occasionally thrown at police officers in the alleys of the Old City, including near the Antonia Fortress, which is one of the entrances to the Temple Mount. There were no reports of injuries. One suspect was detained for questioning.

After the scuffle, police again opened the mount’s gates to worshippers, but restricted entrance to the site to male worshippers with Israeli identity cards over the age of 50 and to female worshippers of all ages.

It seems obvious that Sunday’s fray at the Temple Mount is related to the tension that arose over Israel’s decision to include the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem to its list of national heritage sites.

Members of the Waqf and various Islamic organizations, including the Islamic Movement, advocated for Muslims over the weekend to flock to the Temple Mount, claiming that

“radical Jewish organizations have called on their followers to arrive at the mount today and on Tuesday in an attempt to lay the cornerstone for the temple.”

The Islamic organizations also warned Muslims to be on high alert around March 16, when they that said extreme Jewish organizations were planning to mark the global day for the temple’s reconstruction.

We coulda told ya so!

Obama Meeting PA HeadNobody needs to be political genius to figure out which way the wind is blowing in regards to how the Obama Administration is formulating its Middle East policies; especially those regarding Israel. The “two state solution”, settlement freeze, and apparent warming up to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a sobering indication that Israel will not get the same treatment from Washington that was received during the Bush Administration. And for sure, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not be so close to the Netanyahu government in Jerusalem as Condoleezza Rice was.

Obama and his Ivy League foreign policy gurus have given the Israeli government a two year deadline to prepare for the reality of Palestinian statehood, and that includes an immediate freeze to all settlement activity in the West Bank, including, we presume, such Jerusalem suburbs as Maale Adumim, now regarded as the largest Jewish town in the West Bank. The new US policy decisions include an immediate dismantling of a number of “outpost settlements” which although considered as illegal during the Bush Administration were allowed to remain in place – most of them that is.

The big issue now is just which ones are considered to be outpost settlements and which will not? Will Alfe Menashe (a settlement near the Israeli city of Kfar Saba and virtually alongside the Palestinian city of Kalkilia) be slated for dismantlement, as well as ones like Tekoa (in the Gush Etzion Bloc) also fall within this definition?
And let’s not forget ones like the small Jewish presence in Hebron, virtually surrounded by nearly 200,000 Palestinians. The list goes on and on.

From a political standpoint, things might have been a bit more flexible under a Kadima Party government headed by Tzipi Livni; but the Israeli way of putting ruling coalition governments together determined a different political path, as the Likud party’s right winged political friends, lined up on Netanyahu’s side, along with Labor Party leader Ehud Barak, who broke a long standing political philosophy to go “right of center” and join up with such people as Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitanu Party.

That’s not the way things turned out, and as a result, the “winds of change” blowing eastward from the U.S. Capital appear to be a bit on the chilly side. For all of us living here in the Levant, let’s hope that the chilly winds from Washington don’t turn into hot winds blowing from either the North (Lebanon), Northeast (Syria) or especially from the East (Teheran), as well as from our Palestinian “neighbors” in Gaza and possibly later on, the West Bank.

Palestinian Man Gets Death for Selling Land to Jews

In an effort to discourage Palestinians from selling land to “the enemy” a Palestinian Islamic court authorized the death penalty to a man from a small village of Bet Umar north of Hebron in the West Bank. The man, Anwar Brigith, had been convicted of selling land to Jewish settlers living in the area, and was found to be in violation of a Fatwa issued by an Islamic judicial panel forbidding the sale of Palestinian land or houses to Jews.

Brigith was also found to be in violation of a 1979 Palestinian military law (authorized during Yasser Arafat‘s tenure as head of the PLO) which also stated that it is forbidden to sell Palestinian land to Jews. All of Brigith’s personal property, including that belonging to members of his family, may be confiscated as well, due to this harsh conviction.

Why this incident notes merit here, is that we might have expected this kind of punishment to have been levied by a judicial body located in a country like Saudi Arabia or even in Hamas controlled Gaza; where Jews once had property until the disengagement is Israel from Gaza in August, 2005. That this ruling was issued in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Fattah controlled Palestinian Authority headquarters is located, doesn’t bode well for any future agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

Most Palestinians appear to support this kind of sentence against “traitors to the Palestinian Nation”; and although no such sentence has been formally carried out (at least on the West Bank anyway) several Palestinians have been kidnapped and murdered for what were considered to be crimes against the “honor and sovereignty of the Palestinian People”. This has included deals involving property in the Old City of Jerusalem sold to Jews.

Many properties, as well as tracts of land within what is now Israel proper, i.e. within the pre-1967 boundaries, were purchased originally by Jews from Arabs; and it remains to be seen how these parcels will be treated in any final settlement. Many land deals have been made recently in areas like the Galilee – areas, which could one day be “swapped” for permanent settlements now located on the West Bank, if politicians like Avigdor Lieberman have their way.

House of Conflict, House of Peace

News reports in the English language refer to is as the “disputed house” (Ynet), the “Hebron house” (Jerusalem Post), or “house of Contention” (Ha’aretz).

We each have our own point of view; an adopted narrative. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Who started it all? Who’s trying to capitalize the course of events?

The truth is I haven’t got a clue. The Hebrew language is fighting itself. Is it the “House of Conflict” or the “House of Peace”? From where I stand, all I see is conflict in Hebron, no peace in sight.

Transit Governments

  • Tzipi Livni has decided last night to forego her last attempts in assembling a parliamentary coalition. This means we’re heading into general elections within 3 to 4 months, probably somewhere in middle February 2009.
  • Municipal elections in Israel are slated for November 11.
  • While the US Presidential elections are due November 4.
  • On top of it all, Abu Mazen, president of the Palestinian Authority, is ending his term in office come January. Hamas has already declared that his people will not regarded Abu Mazzen as a legitimate president if the dejected man decides to remain in office despite the deadline. If such a scenario materializes — and there is high probability it will — then the West Bank might turn into a bloodbath between Fatah and Hamas.

Back to Olmert… As the head of a transit government, he has no public mandate to craft new policies or to resume diplomatic negotiations, yet nevertheless he is still Prime Minister for at least 3 more months.

And as of today he has to deal not only with the Iranian threat, the financial crisis, and the possibility of a looming chaos in the West Bank; but also with the growing tensions between the Settlers and the Israeli army.

If you haven’t heard yet, the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) dismantled tonight a tiny unauthorized settlement outside of Hebron — that belonged to far-right-extremist Noam Federman. As a result, several people in the Jewish Settlers community called out to kill Israeli soldiers as retaliation!

Despite his lack of public or parliamentary support, and while several indictments are awaiting him in court, he has to face the threats of both a Palestinian civil conflict as well as a Jewish civil conflict.

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