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Message from Israel: A Different Planet

By ORLY DREMAN Prepare yourselves and your tissues before reading. Before they go into battle, our soldiers are asked to write farewell letters to their loved ones in case they will not return.
They write that they do not regret anything and if they die then it is for their country. They ask their relatives and friends to remain happy, to be good people and to touch hearts and celebrate life. They thank their parents for the values they instilled in them and how it fulfills them to participate in saving the country. For them family and friends are everything and they wish the tragedy will make them stronger people.
Three weeks ago we experienced the “Entebbe” operation over again with the heroic rescue operation of four hostages, among them Noa Argamani whose picture at the moment of being brutally kidnapped by Hamas became world famous. T.V broadcasters were drowning in their tears. The rescuers were worried that the women in captivity might be pregnant and were ready to bring back a mother and a baby because nine months have passed and we don’t know how many of the young women who were raped gave birth and are still alive. We so needed that rescue day and when the lifeguards on the beaches announced the good news live, the crowds were overwhelmed and cheered loudly. It was a day of national pride. There is no recovery for any of us if we do not bring them all home. There are still one hundred and twenty hostages in Gaza, maybe fifty are alive. At least we do not have any more holidays till Rosh Hashana in October, since it is very difficult to go through a holiday when they are not back home. The hostages were moved from place to place and when they were notified that they are to move again they were scared because they had already become accustomed to it. One weekend we had great happiness and the following weekend we had a dozen killed. Several weeks earlier a few bodies of hostages were also returned by heroic actions of our soldiers. It feels absurd to say those families received a grave “as a present” since it was not obvious that the bodies would be brought back. The mood in the country changes instantly as it does when the sun sets on Memorial Day and then immediately we start celebrating Independence Day.
Some of our friends tried to take a trip abroad “to breath a little”, but they were not able to enjoy themselves. They felt as if they were on a different planet. To illustrate, a friend of mine took a trip to Thailand, when a British tourist heard her speak Hebrew she was brutally beaten.
After the Holocaust the revenge was to build a country. Now we should build a big and strong south and be united. We have what our brethren the Holocaust survivors could only dream about- a country and an army of our own. The survivors chose to look forward. With the loss, the bereavement and the orphanhood they chose to build a new life. I hope our people can imitate them. Thousands of Holocaust survivors experienced Oct 7t.h. They had more emotional strength than the youngsters at the Nova festival or the kibbutzim.
The Hamas wants us all dead. We give them a finger they want the whole hand. If two months ago they were ready to accept just the end of the war, now they are back to their original goal that Israel will cease to exist. They still want to burn us, murder us and dance on our grave. Seventy percent of the humanitarian aid given to Gazans the Hamas steals, which leaves their needy citizens with only thirty percent. They also threaten that they will not receive food and medicine unless they join them in their military struggle. Therefore, it is not surprising the four rescued hostages were found in the homes of both a doctor and a journalist. If Hamas wants a cease fire they must return our hostages. Unfortunately, they indoctrinate their children to hate all Jews and to want to exterminate them.
Many Israelis have dual citizenships but they do not leave the country. We love our country. We are patriots and loyal.
Whenever a baby is born, at the Brit we bless the child that by the time he grows up he will not have to go to the army. I desperately have to say that we cannot keep this promise. We live in chaos, desperation and fear. This country is facing collapse. We are bankrupted in every area. We are facing an existential threat led by Iran that also supplies Hezbollah, Hamas, the Hutim in Yemen and the Shias. Their plan is to carry on a war of attrition for some years until they destroy us. How do you fight a guerrilla warfare against an ideologically armed body? It resembles how the Americans were in Iraq 20 years ago and had believed they accomplished their mission but a democracy was never established there. The Hamas is surviving even though they were badly hurt and they are still the landlords in Gaza. Some of the residents of the south were told they could return home like in “Shderot” (2 miles from the Gaza border), but they are still suffering from artillery just as they did for dozens of years even before Oct 7th. They drive with their car windows open so they can hear the sirens. They feel cheated; where is the victory they were promised? Let’s face it: We will not attain “complete victory”.
In the north for nine months now Hezbollah has been the main threat to Israel….burning the north of the country with hundreds of missiles each day. Tens of thousands of Israelis will not be able to return home even when the hostilities are over because their homes, farms and businesses are destroyed. Small animals do not survive the fires and the bigger ones can run but have no food since almost all the forests are burned down.
In addition, there is the problem of education with the pupils in the north who were not evacuated. They studied under sirens – running to shelters. It was a lost year. Parents do not know where to register their kids for school in September…- to the place they were moved or will they be moved again? The teachers and students experienced major losses. The main goal of the present educational system is not academic right now, but to build personal and community strength.
In the West Bank we see daily parades of armed terrorists creating havoc, trying to reach our populated centers half an hour away and they are dealt with. There is Iranian money flowing to those areas -meant to promote attacks against civilians.
On the international level- the U.N deliberately falsifies the facts. They report tens of thousands less humanitarian supplies going into Gaza than what really does.
What “land” are they fighting about? When was Palestine born? Did it have currency, history, a leader? The answer to all the above is NO. They are not fighting over land, it is their ideology to kill all the Jews.
I would like in this context to mention the bereaved grandparents who built the country, fought in its wars in order to provide their descendants a safe place. However, the nightmare occurred and left these grandparents broken hearted.
On Oct 7th three of my cousins who lived far away from the kibutsim on the Gaza border heard what happened, immediately took their M16s and drove to kibbutz Beeri. They fought against the terrorists for many hours and saved 100 residents. The three did not live there, they were not called for duty but volunteered. Menachem and Itiel received the Israeli Prize in the name of their brother and uncle Elchanan who was one of the three who fought, but did not survive. In the prestigious ceremony for the Israeli prize speech Menachem said:” We believe in our way, together we shall continue this wonderful journey of the Jewish people because we deserve it.”
All those pro-Palestinian young Western supporters of Hamas do not understand that they are exploited. At the end the Palestinians will get rid of them too since Jihad wants to exterminate all the infidels who are not Muslims, including Christians, Buddhists, Hindus etc. One could ask why are these Westerners not fighting for women’s rights in the Muslim countries… women who get murdered for not covering their faces completely or not obeying their husbands.
In spite of the turmoil prevailing in Israel today, the apartment market in Israel has risen 82% because Jews in the diaspora are beginning to feel the anxiety of antisemitism. They feel Israel is safer than the diaspora.
To conclude, we are strong and have resourcefulness in extreme situations even though we have differences of opinion. I believe we are an eternal nation and we shall not give up.
This has proven to be true for thousands of years, where the Jewish people even when they did not have a homeland prevailed despite centuries of antisemitism and oppression.
Your job North American Jews, is to invite your non Jewish friends to stand with the Jewish people internationally and in Israel.

World Jewish News

Remembering Dr. Ruth: An Unexpected Jewish Icon

Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. A dynamo, she was always full of energy, quick with a joke, and offered great advice.

When I was walking with a female friend who complained about going to too many parties, Dr. Ruth turned to her and said: “You’re not going to meet someone in your apartment.”

I interviewed Dr. Ruth a few times, and ran into her on occasion when I went to the theater. She was extremely proud of her documentary, Ask Dr. Ruth, which can be seen on Hulu. Westheimer died at the age of 96 on July 12.

The film includes old footage of her saying that what two consenting adults do in “the privacy of their bedroom, living room, [and] kitchen floor is all right.”

A licensed sex therapist who taught at Columbia University, she rose to fame with radio and TV shows in which she helped people discuss their personal sexual difficulties. She also maintained that short people were the best lovers. She was someone who said there was no such thing as “normal,” and said those who are gay deserve “all the respect” in the world — at a time when that was not a popular opinion. The film shows her saying she hoped for a cure for AIDS, and that it was wrong to blame any one group.

Born as Karola Siegel on June 4, 1928, she originally lived near Frankfurt, Germany. She was put on a Kindertransport — a program to save German children from the Holocaust — and lived in an orphanage in Switzerland during World War II. She got letters from her parents and grandmother, but when the letters stopped, she knew something was terribly wrong.

Dr. Ruth’s family was murdered by the Nazis, with her father dying in Auschwitz in 1942 and no exact record of her mother’s death.

She sailed to the British mandate of Palestine, and went to a kibbutz in 1945 at the war’s end. She changed her name from Karola, to her middle name of Ruth. She lost her virginity to a man named Kalman on a haystack, as she described in her film.

Signing the guest book at the Yad Vashem Museum in Israel, she held back tears, saying “German Jews don’t cry in public.”

Perhaps it was due to the loss of her parents that she wanted to spread love to so many and influence people to pursue happiness.

When I knew her, she was always running to the next event or appearance. When I asked her why she scheduled so many events, she told me: “As long as I’m alive, I am going to work and I love having things to do and talking to people.”

She was very much like the world’s cutest grandmother — but that also belies her past.

Westheimer was a sniper in the Haganah. Though an injury to her feet when a cannon fired on her building nearly resulted in the amputation of her legs, she healed and was able to ski and dance.

She was married three times, with her last husband, Fred, being the long-time marriage. She studied at the Sorbonne. In 1956, she came to America.

“Somebody who talks so much about sex has to stay away from politics,” she said in her film, though she said abortion should remain legal.

She read romance novels to learn English. She took great pride in her grandchildren — Leora, Ari, Ben, and Michal. At the age of 42, she got her doctorate from Columbia University’s Teachers College and would go on to write numerous books.

Dr. Ruth was a huge personality, and could make anyone laugh and appreciate her wisdom. Whenever I saw her, she was smiling, and you could tell she loved life and helping others.

Her blend of chutzpah, charm, and brute honesty made her a quotable and prominent celebrity. She was humble and didn’t move to a hugely expensive apartment, even though she could have, choosing to remain in Washington Heights. It was her decision to appear on WYNY, a New York City radio station that helped launch her career with a show first called “Sexually Speaking.” She also did some acting.

Despite her painful past, Dr. Ruth is a great example of a nice person achieving great things in life.

The author is a writer based in New York.

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World Jewish News

Deif’s Elimination Would Be a Major Blow to Hamas

Illustrative. Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. Photo: Reuters/Amir Cohen – The elimination of Mohammad Deif, head of Hamas’s military wing, would represent a significant blow to both Hamas’s morale and operational capabilities.

Deif, whose death in an Israeli airstrike on Saturday has not yet been confirmed, was the mastermind behind three decades of jihadist terrorism against Israel. He was also a key catalyst in Hamas’s ongoing efforts to team up with Iran and mortally wound Israel through a war of jihadist attrition from Gaza, Judea and Samaria and Lebanon.

He played a crucial role in transforming Hamas from a guerilla force into a full-blown terror army within Gaza, complete with command and control, a major rocket arsenal and an unprecedented network of combat tunnels. A terror army that would go on to unleash the deadliest attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust.

Israeli officials reported on Saturday that the Israel Defense Forces had carried out a targeted strike near Gaza’s Al-Mawasi humanitarian zone, close to Khan Younis. The two targets were Deif, the commander of Hamas’s military wing, and Rafa Salama, the commander of Hamas’s Khan Younis Brigade. Both were responsible for planning and carrying out Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre, according to the officials.

The strike was a coordinated joint effort by the IDF Southern Command and the Israeli Air Force, with significant participation by IDF Military Intelligence and the Israel Security Agency. According to Israeli intelligence, most of the other casualties from the strike were also terrorists.

The targeted area was described as an open space surrounded by trees, several buildings and sheds, that functioned as an operational compound. At this time, there is no indication that any Israeli hostages were present in the vicinity of the strike.

The strategic significance of this operation cannot be overstated. Deif’s elimination will disrupt Hamas’s military hierarchy and operational planning, dealing a severe blow to its command structure. Over the years, Deif had become synonymous with Hamas’s military strategy. His expertise and leadership in guerilla warfare and mass-casualty terrorism, and his ability to adapt and transform Hamas’s military capabilities, made him an invaluable asset to the organization. Symbolically as well, he gained cult-like status among Palestinians, and his name was chanted by radical Islamists in Judea and Samaria and on the Temple Mount as well.

A military official noted that high-ranking Hamas officials deliberately chose Al-Mawasi for their operational activities, to avoid detection and complicate military action against them. The official stressed that Israel makes every effort to avoid harm to noncombatants, adding that Hamas’s human shielding is failing to protect its senior terrorists.

“We are attacking the most high-ranking Hamas commanders, who are masterminds of the Oct. 7 [attacks] and … conducted terror against Israel for years,” said the official.

By eliminating figures like Deif and Salama, Israel not only dismantles the leadership framework of Hamas, but also helps crush Hamas’s future hopes to rebuild an effective terror army, a key war goal.

The strike is also an indication of the quality of Israel’s intelligence regarding Gaza. The collaboration between the IDF and ISA, and the ability to locate and eliminate such high-profile targets is a testament to an increasingly tight intelligence grip on an area that was once Hamas’s comfortable home turf.

As such, the strike is a pivotal moment in Israel’s long-term war against the “ring of fire” with which Iran has attempted to surround the Jewish state. Hamas and its allies in Tehran and Beirut are bearing witness to Israel’s determination and ability to remove jihadist commanders, and to continuously degrade their hopes to force Israel into surrender.

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For Many Palestinians, the ‘Day After’ Should Look Just Like the ‘Day Before’

A Palestinian boy wearing the headband of Hamas’ armed wing The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza City on May 15, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

JNS.orgMore than nine months after the Israel-Hamas war began, many Palestinians are convinced that the “day after” in the Gaza Strip will be a return to the pre-Oct. 7 era, in which the Iran-backed terrorist group still has control of the coastal enclave. For them, the “day after” means going back to the day before the Hamas-led attack on Israel.

Today, Palestinians fall into two groups: those who hate Hamas but think that under the current circumstances it is impossible to remove it from power, and those who want Hamas to stay in power because they embrace it and its extremist ideology.

Opponents of Hamas contend that until the terrorist organization is totally destroyed, neither the Palestinian Authority nor any Arab state will be prepared to rule the Gaza Strip. And they do not see that objective being met more than nine months after the start of the war.

Recently, Abu Obaida, the spokesperson for Hamas’s military wing, claimed that his group has been successful in bringing thousands of new “fighters” into its ranks to replace those killed since the start of the war.

Even if Abu Obaida’s claim is exaggerated, its purpose is to demonstrate to Palestinians, Arabs and the international community that Hamas is not going anywhere. This is a form of warning to any party that would consider playing a role in the Gaza Strip the “day after.”

Over the past few months, Hamas has killed clan leaders and kidnapped and tortured political opponents to thwart the establishment of a new government.

In response to Hamas’s campaign of terror and intimidation, several clans in the Gaza Strip have released statements declaring their support for the terrorist group and denouncing any “conspiracy” to foster the rise of new leaders there.

That, however, does not mean that Hamas will prevent the Palestinian Authority or any other party from providing financial and humanitarian assistance to the residents of the Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, it does not imply that Hamas will impede any initiative to reconstruct Gaza. As long as these actions do not compromise Hamas’s authority, the organization will permit them to take place.

Where does the Palestinian Authority stand?

Not hiding their dissatisfaction in private, some P.A. officials are disappointed that Hamas still controls the Gaza Strip more than nine months after the war began.

“We thought it would only take a few weeks to remove Hamas from power,” stated one official. “However, several months later, Hamas remains in place and continues to have complete authority over civilian affairs. In addition, Hamas still has many fighters.”

Another P.A. official said that he had anticipated a fall in Hamas’s popularity among Palestinians as the war drags on and more Palestinians lose their lives.

“We see that the opposite has happened,” the official stated. “According to polls conducted after Oct. 7, Hamas’s popularity is rising. This is due to the widespread belief that Hamas is winning the battle. If you watched [the Qatari-owned network] Al-Jazeera, you would also come to the same conclusion—that Israel has been defeated,” he said.

The most recent public opinion poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, showed that many Palestinians support Hamas and believe that the terrorist group will continue to rule the Gaza Strip after the war.

When asked who the public would prefer to control the Gaza Strip after the war, 61% (71% in the West Bank and 46% in the Gaza Strip) answered Hamas. Only 16% chose a new P.A. with an elected president, parliament and government, while another 6% chose the current P.A. but without its president, Mahmoud Abbas.

When asked to speculate about the party that will control the Gaza Strip after the war, a majority of respondents (56%) answered that it would be Hamas.

It is also interesting to see that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians (75%) oppose the deployment of an Arab security force in the Gaza Strip. In this regard, these Palestinians have actually endorsed Hamas’s stance, which opposes the deployment of non-Palestinian security forces in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas officials have gone as far as warning that such a force would be dealt with as an “occupying” party—implying that terrorists would target the troops. Egypt, Jordan and other Arab countries do not seem to be enthusiastic about dispatching troops to the Gaza Strip.

Similarly, the P.A., too, does not appear to be excited about returning to the Gaza Strip. That’s because it does not want to be accused of entering the Gaza Strip “atop an Israeli tank.” The P.A., in addition, is also afraid that it will be left alone to bear the burden of rebuilding Gaza because most Arab countries have consistently failed to fulfill their promises to help the Palestinians.

Despite the devastation, most Palestinians support Oct. 7

According to the latest poll, a vast majority of Palestinians (68%) said the terrorist group’s decision to launch the war on Israel was “correct.” Previous polls conducted by the same center have shown that more than 70% of Palestinians support the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack.

There is virtually no debate among the Palestinians about the “day after” in the Gaza Strip, even though some in Israel and the United States appear to be obsessed with the idea. This is due to the widespread Palestinian belief that Hamas will somehow maintain its hold on power in the Gaza Strip after the war.

The Palestinians are probably the only ones who could force Hamas to relinquish control of the Gaza Strip. It remains to be seen whether or not the Palestinians who lost their homes and loved ones will rise against Hamas after the war or if a large number of them will take to the streets to express their support for the terrorist groups, either out of fear or genuine sympathy.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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