The Day In Israel: Sunday Dec 13th, 2009

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Israeli defense officials expressed concern over reports Lebanese President Michel Suleiman plans to urge US officials to expedite the delivery of weapons for the Lebanese army during a trip to Washington this week. Which is fair enough given that Hizbullah is part of the Lebanese government and is allowed to keep its weapons.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

7:15PM: Photo of the day:



Israeli man kissing Quran - AP

An Israeli Orthodox Jewish man kisses a copy of the Quran, after Jewish settlers vandalized the local mosque on Friday, as he and others stand at a roadblock outside the West Bank village of Yasuf, near Nablus, Sunday, Dec.13, 2009. Assailants vandalized a mosque in Yasuf early Friday, burning prayer carpets, holy books and leaving behind a graffiti message in Hebrew indicating the rampage was the work of settlers angry over Israel’s plans to curb settlement building. Israeli rabbis visited a Palestinian village in the West Bank on Sunday, bringing copies of the Quran, days after Jewish extremists are believed to have vandalised a mosque in the area. The delegation rabbis came to a junction in the West Bank and met with Palestinians. The head of the delegation, Rabbi Menachem Froman, condemned the attack on the mosque. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

While I guess it is progress that this photo was even published, notice how the man is referred to as an “Israeli Orthodox Jewish man”, while the alleged culprits are “Jewish settlers.” This is curious, since the man in the photo, as well as the other Jews who visited the area handing out Qurans, were also residents of Judea and Samaria (i.e. “settlers”).

Clearly, the media will not allow itself to show the human side of “settlers.”

4:38PM: Israeli Rabbis have reacted to the mosque arson attack by expressing their outright condemnation of it, as well as solidarity with the Muslims of the village in which it occurred.

However, they have been apparently been prevented by the IDF from entering the village due to security concerns.

The IDF prevented a delegation of religious-Zionist rabbis and social activists from entering the West Bank village of Yasuf Sunday, where a mosque was torched on Friday.

The rabbis had arrived in order to donate Koran books to the mosque, but these had to be taken into the village by a Muslim representative due to IDF fears that a conflict would break out if rabbis were allowed to enter the village.

The rabbis waited at a central West Bank junction while soldiers blocked them from proceeding into the village.

After a few hours the IDF released a statement saying the visit had been properly coordinated and that the rabbis would be allowed in within hours, but by then it was two late and the parties left the area.

Earlier the army had stated that the delegation was denied entrance by the IDF chief of staff’s office due to security concerns.

Rabbi of Tekoa Menachem Froman said the halacha prohibits doing harm to religious sites. “This deed was a serious religious crime,” he said, adding that mutual respect between Jews and Muslims could bring peace.

“If we keep hiding our heads in the sand and denying that the conflict (with the Palestinians) is religious, we will never get anywhere,” Froman said.

He also condemned similar acts on the Palestinian side, such as the torching of Gush Katif synagogues and the desecration of Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus.

“They also do worse things such as murder Jews,” he said. “I’m not saying they are pacifists but enmity exists on both sides,” the rabbi added.

Governor of the Salfit region, Munir Abbushi, met with the rabbis at the junction and told them, “The torching of the mosque was a racist act. We are in favor of true peace, and I thank you for coming to identify with us on the torching I hope we can live in this country as two states.”

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The meeting ended with a joint song and dance by Palestinian and Jewish religious officials.

Rabbi Yehuda Gilad, who heads the yeshiva on the religious kibbutz Maale Gilboa, said, “We came to expel darkness, especially during the days of Hannukah. Light is not added by hurting our brothers, the Muslims, who are the servants of God just as we are. This is an important message to relay.”

Interestingly enough, the palestinian Ma’an News agency paints a different version of events.

Israeli forces on Sunday denied Jewish rabbis entry to the northern West Bank village of Yasuf to visit its mosque which was set on fire by extremist Israeli settlers on Friday morning.

Israeli authorities said the rabbis visit was banned out of fear for their safety after local residents demonstrated in the village protesting the arson. Hundreds of students took to the streets chanting slogans and railing against the rabbis visit.

The governor of Salfit, Munir Abboushi told Ma’an that tensions were high in the village as angry villagers took to the streets, and thus it would be very difficult to keep things under control had the rabbis arrived.

He explained that villagers believed the rabbinical delegation included settlers, which he said would only inflame the situation further.

“I met the rabbis at the Tappuah junction and explained to them that we would welcome anybody who condemns settlers’ provocative actions,” Abboushi added.

Ma’an’s reporter learned that the delegation was comprised of 20 Israeli clerics including Shlomo Ammar, who represents Ashkenazi Jews, and Shlomi Meretz, who represents Moroccan Jews. They brought more than 50 copies of the holy Quran to express their condemnation of the arson. The Quran copies were handed to the governor of Salfit.

“We refused entry of the rabbis to the village after we knew that they came from Israeli settlements,” said Abdul-Rahim Muslih, head of Yasuf’s village council. He added, “We were informed yesterday that activists from Israeli peace movements were coming to the village, but we were surprised today that it was rabbis from Israeli settlements.”

Needless to say, I do not recall any palestinian leaders expressing their condemnation after the destruction of Joseph’s tomb, or any of the other Jewish holy sites destroyed by palestinians.

And that, my friends, is the difference between us.

4:02PM: It hasn’t been such a great year for Israeli soccer, but this goal by Israeli soccer player Eliran Atar is on FIFA’s final list of ten candidates for goal of 2009 (hat tip: Ashley).

10:54AM: A productive day so far for palestinian terrorists, already firing 2 rockets at Israel and stabbing a 22-year-old Israeli woman in the back.

The woman remains in moderate condition.

9:15AM: The New Yorker’s cheap shot.

6:05AM: I fully condemn the arson attack on a mosque in Yasuf, and wait to see who was behind it. Currently, there are only suspicions.

5:50AM: Brian Ledbetter looks at the mainstream media’s characterization of different “protests” and “demonstrations.”

Meanwhile, here’s another example of a “demonstration.”

Masked Palestinian members from the militant group Hamas participate in a demonstration in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)

Looks like someone could do with some Viagra.

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