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At about 4:00 this morning hundreds of police, soldiers and other security forces arrived at the Hazon David Synagogue outside Kiryat Arba. The gates to Kiryat Arba were locked and the road leading to Hebron was closed.
At the time there were about 50 Hebron-Kiryat Arba youth at the site. It took only about 15 minutes until all of them had been forcibly evicted from the area. The security forces then emptied the synagogue of its books, Torah scroll and furniture. At about 5:00 AM an army D9 tractor began destroying the tent, which served as a synagogue for the past three years. (article: www.hebron.com/news/neverlosehope.htm) – (pictures before destruction: www.hebron.com/news/hazondavid.htm) (pictures of destruction: www.hebron.com/news/hdavid.htm)

Within an hour the synagogue was gone. A short time later, after the gates were opened, furious Kiryat Arba – Hebron residents began rebuilding the synagogue, placing stone upon stone. Security forces attempted to stop the crowd, but failed. A group of men began worshiping morning prayers, and were surrounded by soldiers. However, the prayer service continued.

Synagogue director, Rabbi Ya’akov Eichenstein, speaking to the crowd, promised that the synagogue would be rebuilt, bigger and stronger than the original tent. Hebron leader Noam Arnon, addressing remarks to the security forces who participated in eradicating the shul, asked, “what will you tell your children on Passover eve when they ask, Daddy, how could you destroy a synagogue? How will you explain the meaing of the Exodus from Egypt, allowing us to be a free people, when you are expelling Jews from their land?”

You can contribute directly to The Jewish Community of Hebron, POB10, Kiryat Arba-Hebron 90100, hebron@hebron.org.il, 972-2-write to The Hebron Fund, 1760 Ocean Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11230, hebronfund@aol.com

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Posted by Michael Freund, March 31, 2004.
Today marks the anniversary of one of the most important events in Jewish history in the past one thousand years.
It is an episode that forever altered the destiny of the Jewish people, as well as that of European civilization, giving rise to seismic shifts in spheres as varied as cartography, commerce and mysticism.

Scholars are still grappling with its consequences, centuries after it occurred, tracing the effects that it had on the fate of empires and the relations among the world’s three great monotheistic religions.

And yet, for all of the turmoil it created and the far-reaching changes that came in its wake, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 does not receive the commemoration that it deserves.

Jewish history, of course, is awash in tragedy, and if we were to mull over each and every disaster that befell us throughout the millennia, there would be little time left for anything else.

But the deportation of the Jews from Spain was so cataclysmic, and its impact throughout the ages so great, that it cannot, and should not, be forgotten.

It was over five hundred years ago, on March 31, 1492, that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella signed the infamous edict, giving the Jews of Castile and Aragon several months to make a dire choice: convert or leave.

Most of Spain’s Jews chose the latter. American historian Howard Morley Sachar has estimated the number of Spain’s Jewish exiles at around 100,000, while Hebrew University’s Haim Beinart has put the total at 200,000. Others have spoken of even more.

The exiles left for Italy, North Africa, and elsewhere, creating illustrious Sephardic communities in places such as Salonika and the Ottoman Empire, with some even reaching the Land of Israel.

They and their descendants left their mark on Jewish law and lore, producing some of the greatest codifiers of Judaism, whose rulings are studied and followed until today.

Andres Bernaldez, a priest who lived at the time of the expulsion, wrote of the sorrowful manner in which the Jews were forced to leave. “They went out from the lands of their birth, boys and adults, old men and children, on foot and riding on donkeys and other beasts, and in wagons.”

“They went by the roads and fields,” he wrote, “with much labor and misfortune, some collapsing, others getting up, some dying, others giving birth, and others falling ill… and so they went out of Castile.”

In the popular imagination, the expulsion from Spain is inevitably intertwined, and often confused, with the Spanish Inquisition, even though the latter began before 1492 and continued long afterwards.

The Inquisitors, of course, were hunting down “secret Jews”, those who clung to their Jewish faith in private even as they professed Catholicism in public.

According to the late historian Cecil Roth, the Inquisition’s henchmen murdered over 30,000 “secret Jews”. Some were burned alive at the stake in front of cheering crowds, while countless others were condemned for heroically preserving Jewish practices.

Their descendants now live throughout the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries, with many still clinging to memories of a distant Jewish past.

The events of the expulsion and the Inquisition were seared into the Jewish people’s national consciousness, and yet they receive hardly any notice today. To a certain extent, that is hardly surprising, given the fact that we are living in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

It is, perhaps, only natural that previous calamities, from the Crusades to the Chmielnicki massacres, would be overshadowed as a result.

And yet, that in no way excuses us from our responsibility to recall the sufferings of our ancestors, and to pass the lessons on to future generations.

Israel should build a national monument to the victims of the Inquisition and the Expulsion, one that would memorialize the agony they endured while celebrating their contributions to Jewish culture and tradition.

The courage displayed by many of them in clinging to their faith, even under the most difficult and trying of circumstances, is a lesson that young people in this country would surely benefit from learning.

It would also serve as an important reminder of the magnitude of the Sephardic contribution to Judaism, both past and present, providing young Israelis with a glimpse of the golden age of Spanish and Portuguese Jewry.

And what better way to underline the importance of having a Jewish state, a place of refuge for Jews all over, than to recall the events of 1492? It was precisely because there was no State of Israel back then that the persecution of the Jews could be carried out so effortlessly.

At a time of rising anti-Semitism abroad, and political turmoil at home, it might seem incongruous to be focusing on the events of so long ago. But much of our current predicament is the result of the fact that we have for too long ignored, or chosen to overlook, what history has to teach us.

Erecting a monument to the victims of 1492, then, would be an act of historical justice not only towards Spain and Portugal’s once-thriving Jews, but, ultimately, to ourselves as well.

The writer serves as Director of Amishav, a Jerusalem-based group which reaches out and assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people

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Posted by Marion D.S. Dreyfus, March 31, 2004.
Just struck me that wow – after a decade or so of embarrassed women feeling sheepish that someone famous told women it would be easier to get hit by a terrorist than to get married over 40, it is suddenly very clear that with all the despicable stuff going on in the world courtesy these slime, it is now easier to get married after the cutoff than to get hit by the sh**heels who plague us all day and night.
Take that, Gloria.

This article was written by Amotz Asa-El and appeared in the Jerusalem Post, March 25, 2004.

There was a time when the Jews, while greedy, manipulative, conniving, and stiff necked as ever, at least understood what we wanted from them. Yes, when we fingered them for rejecting our faith, they argued, and when we charged them with killing our savior they denied, but when–to make ourselves better understood–we drew our swords, they mumbled Shema, submitted their necks, and departed from this world to the next. When it came to what mattered–they did as they were told.

Thus, when we slaughtered them by the thousands, whether as Crusaders, Cossacks, pogromchicks or Nazis, all the Jews did was pray, cry, and die. Otherwise–they did as they were told.

And when we expelled them from places where they had lived for centuries, they might have done their usual numbers–… lobbying, begging, bribing–but at the end… they did as they were told, hastily collecting what belongings they could before moving on with their ringing coins and wretched lives until they would find yet another set of fools who would put up with their usury, blood sucking, and well poisoning.

And why would they do otherwise? After all, that was also how they reacted when we enlisted that mother of all Jewish values–law–as a major weapon in our war against the Jews. When the newly Christian Roman Empire actually etched in stone the Jews’ inferiority and discrimination… the Jews didn’t even lobby, beg, or bribe; instead, they shrugged, said something like shoyn, humbly accepted their role as living proof of another religion’s victory over theirs; and did as they were told?

[T]here was a time when all this went without saying. Did Germany’s Jews ever think of protesting the Nuremberg Laws, not to mention resort to violence as they were being squarely told what was and wasn’t legal for them to do? Of course not. They did as they were told.

Set against this backdrop, it is truly mind boggling that we, of all good people in the last 2,000 years, have to be the ones born into an era when the Jews suddenly refuse to accept their fate and be blamed, besieged, attacked, and generally do as they are told. How dare they not listen, even when told expressly that their killing of a fine man whose only crime was to kill Jewish kids, mothers, and geriatrics like himself–is “unlawful?”

Clearly, the Jews we face are different.

What crosses their minds when they ignore pontifications, reprimands, and instructions like those unleashed at them this week by?everyone, from the UN’s secretary-general to Her Majesty’s foreign secretary? Do they perhaps recall at such a moment how Britain helped trap the Jews in wartime Europe?

Clearly, this era’s Jews are different.

In this era, if you produce a feature film about their betrayal of Jesus,?if you just whisper something against the Jews, a chorus of Abe Foxman types hollers at you from a plethora of Jewish-controlled media.

And when you take the Jews to court for daring to raise a wall between them and the bullets everyone knows they deserve, they have the audacity to play melodramatic tricks aimed at stealing the judges’ show.

At first, when I saw the trial in the Hague I recalled how in 1348, when our ancestors were burying the Black Plague’s victims, they put the Jews on trial for having carried out their rabbis’ orders to poison our wells. Though the pope of the time protested that accusation, he was fortunately ignored and it did its thing: the mobs blamed, attacked, and slaughtered the Jews. The Jews, for their part, did as they were told.

Wait a second: the plague! that’s it!

They tell us the Madrid Massacre was but the first of many, that terror will soon plague the entire world, that who knows how many more thousands it will kill in train stations, subways, malls, stadiums, airports, skyscrapers, and airplanes, that it will debilitate international traffic, trade, and sports, and that – just as in the 14th century – people will be at a loss to find the causes and cures for their misery. This is it.

As they flee terror’s knives, bullets and bombs in confusion, panic and despair, we’ll pit the masses against the Jews, blaming it all on them, their ancestors, their faith, and their race. This–the people will buy. And once they do, even these stubborn, tricky, arrogant, arms-bearing New Jews, will finally do as they are told.

Marion D. S. Dreyfus is a journalist, currently living in Wuchan, China, where she teaches at the University and does a radio talk show.

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Posted by Leo Rennert, March 31, 2004.
What are we to make of OPEC’s decision today to go ahead with a 1-million-barrel cut in daily crude production? Oil “experts” are guessing that it may not have much of an impact on motorists in the U.S. because some OPEC members are bound to cheat.
But whatever the economic ripple effects of this OPEC move, politically and psychologically it aims a direct hit at the Bush White House. As a starter, take into account that oil prices already are at record peaks and moving higher. If OPEC were interested in stabilizing the oil market (its usual rationale when prices are low) or doing Bush a favor, it would open the spigots to attenuate or roll back price rises that are giving Bush’s reelection campaign increasing heartburn.

Saudi Arabia and Iran (the two OPEC behemoths) know very well the likely political fallout in the U.S. of their decision to constrict supplies. It’s their way of sending a check to the Kerry campaign, which sniffs a big political dividend from skyrocketing gas prices. Since Bush has certified Iran as a member of the axis of evil and is a bit less chummy with the Saudis than previous presidents, they in turn apparently have made a political calculation that “regime change” in Washington is in their interest. So it matters less what OPEC’s move will do to oil markets and prices; what matters more is the political intent behind OPEC’s decision. They know that Bush’s war on terrorism, support of Israel and push for democratic reforms throughout the Middle East threaten their authoritarian hold on power. So since he’s not doing them any favors, why should they? Far better to deal themselves in as players in November’s election.

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Posted by Unity Coalition For Israel, March 31, 2004.
Brussels – Christian organizations are preparing to meet the challenge of increased anti-Semitism abroad. Clarence Wagner spoke as liaison from the newly-formed European Coalition for Israel (ECI) to the U.S-based Unity Coalition for Israel. He stated, “It should not be up to the Jewish communities to defend themselves against the recent rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. After centuries of atrocities against the Jews in Europe, Christians should know better.”
After the recent wave of anti-Semitic violence and anti-Israel propaganda in Europe, leading Christian organizations have decided to coordinate their efforts on a European level. The new Christian initiative to support Israel was launched in Brussels in mid-march and is called ECI – European Coalition for Israel.

Behind the new Coalition are the main Christian pro-Israel organizations with activities in Europe, among them Bridges for Peace, Christians for Israel, Christian Friends of Israel and International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. The new European Coalition will partner with the long-established National Unity Coalition for Israel, that combines these leading organizations with more than 200 other pro-Israel Christian and Jewish groups in the United States.

Esther Levens, president and founder of the 13-year-old American based Unity Coalition, praised “this new Christian undertaking in Europe” and extended a warm welcome to “ECI, our new European counterpart in supporting Israel and defending Jews against reemerging Muslim inspired hatred. We look forward to continuing to work with all of the organizations involved and with Clarence Wagner, International Director of Bridges for Peace, who will now serve as coordinator between our two coalitions.”

“The time has come to work together,” says the chairman of the new Coalition, Reverend Willem Glashouwer from Christians for Israel International. Last week the Coalition had its official launch in Brussels in connection with a conference organized together with the European Parliament and the European Jewish Congress. The initiative has been well received in Israel and in Jewish communities across Europe. Member of Knesset, Yuri Shtern, (National Union Party) believes “the new coalition could help change the political atmosphere in Europe.” He came all the way from Jerusalem to be part of the official launch in Brussels where he was one of the main speakers. Shtern is the co-chairman of the newly formed Knesset Christian Allies Caucus with the same aim of working with Christian groups around the world, including Europe. As the Israeli Caucus started their work, they believed that they would first have to find all the right partner organizations; but to their su! ! rprise the Christians in Europe had already organized. Some would call this purely coincidence, but those who are people of faith would believe something else, says Caucus Director, Josh Reinstein, in Jerusalem.

During the two-day conference in Brussels, the participants had the opportunity to watch video clips from the state-controlled Palestinian TV where incitement and hate speech against Jews flourish like never before. After the atrocities of the Holocaust became known to the greater public people seemed shocked as they assured that “they had no idea what had been going on behind their backs.”

Today we have no excuse. We have read our newspapers and we have seen the video clips where we are again hearing the all too familiar calls to “kill the Jews.” This is not a time to keep silent but to speak out, says Glashouwer, making reference to the fact that last week marked the Feast of Purim commemorating the life of Queen Esther as she was called to take a stand with the Jewish people.

The new Coalition will primarily work with informing the decision makers in Brussels about the complex realities of the conflict in the Middle East and the situation for the Jewish communities in Europe. A monthly newsletter has been sent out to all members of European Parliament since May of last year. After the newly elected Parliament is in place (elections to the European Parliament are held in June ) , the Coalition plans to open up an office and have a full time representative in Brussels.

When they do not listen to us anymore, your voice can still be heard, says Deputy Head of Mission Alon Roth-Shir from the Israeli Mission to the European Communities. The new coalition will work together with like-minded groups across Europe, but emphasises that the initiative is genuinely Christian.

“No one ever asked us for any favour. We simply do this because we feel we have a moral and spiritual obligation to speak up when we see history repeating itself ,” says Tomas Sandell , Director of the Coalition.

“We don’t consider this a political initiative. We are neither rightwing nor leftwing but simply trying to be true to our Bible where we are called to bless the Jewish people and inform others to do the same. There should be no place for anti-Semitism in Europe.”

“For too long, the Church has remained silent. For too long the Jewish community has had to fight its battles alone. It is time Christian individuals and congregations speak up for the people who gave us the Bible ,” said Clarence Wagner, International Chairman of Bridges for Peace and Coalition board member. “The Christians of Europe are a sleeping giant who need to be awakened and rise up as a combined positive force for spiritual and moral change in Europe. That includes Europe’s stand for Israel and the Jewish people and against anti-Semitism.”

The National Unity Coalition for Israel was founded in 1991. We are the largest worldwide coalition of Jewish and Christian organizations , with more than 200 groups representing millions of people dedicated to Israel. Though we have many different backgrounds , we have one common goal: A Safe and Secure Israel.

Israel is not just a Jewish issue. Millions of Christians resolutely endorse the principle of peace with security for the state of Israel. Because we work closely together and speak with a united voice , our message is being heard!

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Posted by Leo Rennert, March 31, 2004.
This was Ambassador Yaakov Levy’s statement On the Question of a Special Sitting concerning Ahmed Yassin , 60th Session of the Commission on Human Rights, March 23, 2004.
Mr. Chairperson , distinguished delegates  ,

If you vote to hold this special sitting, it will be the first time in the history of the United Nations that a session is dedicated to lauding , supporting, glorifying a major leader of a terrorist organization. A new low, the worst ever. Every man and woman of conscience , any objective follower of this debate will cringe in horror, recoil in disgust that a UN body devoted to upholding human rights would , in effect , support the terrible wrongs the Hamas , under sheik Yassin, has committed.

When Maria Tagilchev, a 14 year old from Netanya, was assassinated by the orders of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the head of the Hamas, in the Dolphinarium bombing in Tel Aviv, 1 June 2001, together with 20 other young people , this Commission did not dedicate a special sitting to debate , resolve or denounce the slaughter of 21 innocent Israeli children.

When Perla Hermele , a 79 year old woman from Sweden, was murdered together with 29 other innocent civilians and 140 were wounded while celebrating the religious Passover, seder feast , at the Park Hotel in Netanya on 27 March 2002, on the direct orders of Ahmed Yassin, the OIC did not move for a special sitting.

When 11-year-old Galila Bugala was murdered , along with 18 other Israelis , while riding a bus in Jerusalem on 18 June 2002 , again on the orders of Ahmed Yassin, the Arab League did not consider it worthy of a special sitting.

When 30-year-old Maurice Tubul was blown to pieces along with 9 others in a double suicide bombing at the Ashdod port on 14 March 2004 , no one called for a special sitting.

When the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was assassinated, along with 17 others, by suicide bombers in Baghdad on 19 August 2003 , member delegates in this hall did not clamour for a special sitting.

When more than 140 people were killed during in sectarian attacks in Iraq on 2 March 2004, A’shura, the holiest day on the Shia calendar, no Arab delegation raised its voice and called for a special sitting of the Commission.

The bias and distorted standards manifested in this Commission year after year, and in an increasing manner since the beginning of it deliberations last Friday, once again express themselves in a request for the third consecutive special sitting or session on human rights related to Israel since October 2000. Even though in this time span we have witnessed ghastly acts of brutal terrorism and indiscriminate attacks in which hundreds and thousands of innocents, not necessarily in our region , were slaughtered by terrorists , at no time did the OIC lobby for a special sitting.

Distinguished delegates ,

I ask you to ponder the reason why is a special sitting demanded only in the case when some parties here, most of which are renowned for human rights violations , who can command a majority, constantly desire to place Israel in the dock under one pretext or another?

Ahmed Yassin founded the Hamas and led this terrorist radical organization, a central element in the fabric of global terrorism , whose primary defined goal and ideological credo call for a violent Jihad for the liberation of Palestine and the establishment of an Islamic Palestine “from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River” through violence, i.e. the elimination of the State of Israel. Yesterday, a Palestinian observer misquoted me as saying that the Palestinian goal was the destruction of Israel. I said nothing of the sort. Others did – like Ahmed Yassin. But why go outside this hall for evidence or take my word for it? Trust your own eyes. Just take a look at the heading on which the Palestinian observer’s statement is printed and at the map of “Palestine”. The map takes up all the land between Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. There is no place for Israel on a map distributed in this very hall.

Yassin, this leading perpetrator of terrorist activity maintains a complex organizational , financial , and operational infrastructure as well as a military apparatus deployed not just in Gaza but throughout the world , supported financially and otherwise by two governments present in this hall , Iran and Syria.

Ahmed Yassin personally approved dozens of major suicide bombings within the context of his personal responsibility for Hamas strategies-wholesale suicide terrorism in which hundreds of Israelis were killed , thousands injured.

When Hamas, under the leadership of Ahmed Yassin recruited and trained women and young children, armed with suicide belts to be detonated either through their own will or through remote control, this body did not demand a special sitting to condemn the abuse of women and young children by their own people , nor the virulent incitement to hatred and death by Hamas leaders during sermons in mosques , and in children’s schools and summer-camps.



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