Terror

Elad and Michal Salomon, Halamish, Neve Tzuf

It Came So Close: The Halamish Massacre

After a terror attack, the connections come out. Israel is a small country. You almost always have some sort of connection to the victims.

With the Salomon family of Halamish, a friend I think of as a brother informed me that the young soldier who neutralized the terrorist through the kitchen window, a hero by all accounts, was his wife’s cousin, as is the young hero’s mother.

That was a nice connection, so to speak. One to make me feel pride by association. A comfort in the midst of grave horror.

But then a friend messaged me on Facebook. She wrote:

“Varda. Friday night, after we finished our Shabbat meal, some kids came to pick up our 12-year-old son Micha on their way to the youth gathering. One of those kids was Nitzan Davidi*, the niece of Michal Salomon. The Davidi* family lives not far from us.

“Later we heard there had been a pigua, a terror attack, but there were no details yet. Not until after Shabbat, when my husband came home from the synagogue and announced, “The Davidis have a new widow and her children in their home.”

“Nitzan’s mother is the sister of Michal Salomon.

“I was sick to my stomach, hunched over with terrible stomach cramps all that night. I know it’s not about me but—it came so close. Nitzan in our home while her uncle was being slaughtered.

“I went for a walk with my husband Saturday night, the night after the slaughter, to get some fresh air. We passed the Davidi home. People were milling about. Like a house of mourning. Then I saw the double stroller. I don’t know why that stood out for me, the stroller, but I was thinking: ‘Why a double stroller? Who, in the Davidi family, needs one of THOSE.’

“Later that night I read that the Salomons had one-year-old twins. One-year-old twins! What kind of monster kills a father! Sick. Just SICK.

“The whole thing was just so very close to home. I was consumed with the thought that Nitzan was in our home at the time of the slaughter, completely unaware. Just a normal kid on a Friday night, picking up her friends for a get together.

“I kept imagining Nitzan coming home happy and tired, going to sleep, and then waking up to the phone call and the keening.”

We both contemplated that for a minute. A young girl being woken from her Shabbat sleep with the worst possible news. Her home transformed to one of deep mourning.

My friend’s experience seemed to touch me by association. The murders in Halamish, the plight of the young widow and her children were more real than ever. I began to imagine the kids hearing their father, grandfather, and aunt being slaughtered, the screams. How would they ever be normal?

It was setting in, the horror, in a new way. There was a new association now. I felt like I knew the family. I could picture the Davidi family. The house. The stroller.

On Tuesday my friend had more to tell me. She eased into it with small talk about diet, mine and hers, working her way around to the terror attack.

“Nitzan’s father, the brother in-law of Michal Salomon? We were chatting and got to talking about the massacre, of course. It’s hard to think about anything else. Yaron* said that terrorists dope themselves up with drugs before they do their thing. They have to be high to do it.”

I shrugged, “Everyone knows that.”

“Well, I didn’t,” she said.

“Anyway, Yaron described the attack to me! He said that Elad [Salomon, Michal’s husband] had the terrorist in a bear hug as the terrorist was stabbing him. Thirty times the terrorist stabbed him in the back. Then he went to work on his face.

“I managed to ask Yaron about Nitzan. ‘When did she know?’

“‘Oh, she was already in bed and sound asleep when we got the call,’ he said.”

There was a pause while my friend let that sink in for me. Observant Jews don’t use the phone on Shabbat. There is only one reason a phone rings like that. It was Michal calling, telling them what had happened.

It’s good that Nitzan was able to sleep through that night, I thought. One more night of childhood innocence before learning of the evil that had hit her aunt and uncle, HY”D, may Hashem avenge the blood of the Salomons.

I know that all Jews are related to each other multiple times. We’re a small nation that was forced to marry cousins in the Diaspora. So I knew in theory that I was related to Michal Salomon, to her husband Elad, his father and sister, and to NItzan and Yaron, too.

Now I felt it, as well.

These are the details you don’t see in the news. These are the quiet, intimate, awful details that are whispered, that almost aren’t whispered, so painful are they to speak of.

Most of us have been thinking about the brave soldier, thinking of Michal Salomon, her courage and strength in taking her children upstairs to the bedroom, locking the door, calling the police.

But now I am thinking of something else: there’s a different picture in my mind, the one that explains all that blood on the floor that we saw in the photos. I’m thinking of Elad, holding the terrorist in a bear hug with all his might, trying to keep him from hurting anyone else, taking all that pain, being stabbed thirty times in the back, and then finally, as his strength ebbs away, being stabbed repeatedly in the face, his final memory one of a knife coming much too close, so close, so many times.

And we don’t even know how it went with Elad’s father and sister.

It’s personal, you see. This massacre of a Jewish family. It hurts.

This is my family, even if I never knew them. This terrorist that came to hurt this beautiful family? He acted out of pure evil. His soul is black as tar. A monster, not a human being.

And now there is a new widow who must try to heal children who heard their father, grandfather, and aunt being slaughtered. Michal must try to make their nightmares go away while mourning the love of her life. But the nightmares will never disappear.

That is who they will always be, the Salomon children, from here on in. They and their mother: they will always be those nightmares. The massacre of Halamish.

And it all feels much too close.

*Names changed

Scout

Scout’s Honor: 250,000 Scouts Follow Murderer’s Path

No sooner had I hit “publish” on my most recent blog on the response of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) regarding the Baha Alyan “leadership” training course than the promised update arrived at my inbox. Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) published a clip of a short segment of the closing ceremony of this course named for the Arab terrorist who killed three men on a Jerusalem bus in October.

From the PMW website:

Text on banner with picture of terrorist Baha Alyan:
“Palestinian Scouts and Guides Association (i.e., PSA)
Preparatory studies – Jerusalem
The Committee for Developing Leadership
Aug. 24-28, 2016
Martyr Baha Alyan Course”

Chairman of the Jerusalem Scout Commission Maher Muhaisen: “We thank our brothers in the Shabab Al-Eizariya Club for letting us use their clubhouse…”

Terrorist Baha Alyan’s father, Muhammad Alyan: “The scouts are the leaders of society, they are the leaders of the people, they are the symbol of giving, they are the symbol of sacrifice. I think – no, I am certain – that Baha, while it is true that he died as a Martyr (Shahid), there are thousands of Bahas in Baha’s place. Now Baha is a soul in Heaven, but his body is in a [morgue] refrigerator…”

Baha Alyan Course instructor, Muhammad Al-Dahdar: “Baha remains among us, he remains in our hearts, and emphasizes to you that 250,000 scouts and guides in the Palestinian Scout Association are Baha. And if Allah wills it, they are following Baha’s path. In the name of the Palestinian Scouts and Guides Association and the Jerusalem District Scouts and Guides Commission, I am happy [inaudible]…”

Terrorist’s father is given a scouts’ scarf

The audience shouts: “Ya Baha, ya Alyan! You are a symbol to the Martyrs (Shahids)! We salute you in the Jerusalem scouts! Palestine! Jerusalem! Ours, ours, ours!”

Baha Alyan Course instructor, Muhammad Al-Dahdar: “You (i.e., Baha’s parents) [are the ones] who gave birth to this good and living role model for the young people of Palestine, to whom [we] tip [our] hats… thanks to what they [the youth] gave for Palestine, and because they sacrificed the most precious thing to them of all – which is life. They hated [and gave up] life for Palestine. They hated [and gave up] life because they wanted freedom and independence. I am happy to be with you at this moment in order to together commemorate our heroic Martyr, brother Baha Alyan.”

PMW identifies for us some of the men standing in front of the banner at the ceremony:

Muhammad Alyan – father of terrorist murderer Baha Alyan
Maher Muhaisen – Chairman of the Jerusalem Scout Commission
Mufid Al-Barq, Muhammad Al-Dahdar, and Sa’id Atoun – Martyr Baha Alyan Course instructors
Ahmed Mashahreh – Author of article on the course published on PSA’s website on Aug. 25, 2016, and in the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on Aug. 27, 2016

The ceremony included both a symbolic wedding and a symbolic funeral for the “martyr” A/K/A murderer Baha Alyan. All under the auspices of the Palestinian Scout Association, so recently inducted as a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

It is a terrible thing to watch adults exploit children, watch them tell children that terror is leadership, and listen to them heap glory on murderers. But it is simply repugnant to witness adults do all of these things under the banner of the Scout Movement.

Will the World Organization of the Scout Movement strip the Palestinian Scout Association of its membership, or will the WOSM turn a blind eye, make excuses, and effectively remain a co-sponsor of Arab terror?

The watching and waiting on this one?

It’s kind of hard to breathe right now.

WOSM: Lies, Damned Lies, and The Baha Alyan Leadership Course

WOSM, the World Organization of the Scout Movement, has been sold a pack of lies by the Palestinian Scout Association (PSA), regarding a “leadership training course” they held called  the Martyr – Leader Baha Alyan Course. The Palestinian Scout Movement was accepted as a full member of WOSM in April. Baha Alyan, as readers of this blog will recall, murdered peace activist and educator Richard Lakin and two other men on a Jerusalem bus in October.

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) Director Itamar Marcus, gathered information about the course and sent it to the WOSM, with a letter demanding that this body cancel the PSA’s membership.

I too, contacted the WOSM, via their Facebook page demanding they disassociate themselves from a troupe that glorifies terror against my people. I received no response. Friends and readers also wrote to various entities within the WOSM. One friend, for instance, wrote to Boy Scouts of America, telling them that if they did not do something about this, he would be turning in his Eagle badge, a cherished memento from childhood.

With the help of a parent from my son’s Israeli scout troop, I discovered that the Israeli Scout Movement, Tzofim, is only patterned after the Boy Scouts, and is not actually a member of the WOSM. Delegates of Tzofim, however, are sent to the States each year to receive training from the “real” Boy Scouts. The parent who helped me gather this intel thought it curious that the Arabs have been accepted as full members of the WOSM, while Tzofim remains on the outside margins of the movement. It is not clear to either of us if this is by choice, or by default (because Jews).

PMW had an update today on the story. WOSM responded by saying the troop that held the Baha Alyan “leadership course” had nothing to do with the Palestinian Scout Association and therefore nothing to do with WOSM.

This, of course, is a lie. One that was cooked up by the Palestinian Scout Association, who, when confronted by the WOSM said, “Oh, no. That wasn’t us. That was the Jerusalem Scout Commission. They have nothing to do with the Palestinian Scout Association. They’re a branch of the Palestinian Scouts AND GUIDES Association. An entirely different horse which has nothing to do the World Organization of the Scouts Movement.”

The lie was regurgitated by the WOSM in a press release:

The website on which the original article [about the Alyan course] was published belongs to a group which calls itself ‘The Palestinian Scout and Guide Association’ which is not recognised by WOSM. This is the Arabic heading used on the website. The recognised group in Palestine is the ‘Palestinian Scout Association.’… Our recognised group has not been able to secure a domain name in Palestine and therefore does not have a website, which adds to the confusion.

Spokesperson for the WOSM, Stephen Peck, in an email to PMW’s Itamar Marcus, added:

The website of the Palestine Scout and Guide Association uses our symbols and branding to give themselves credibility and to give credibility to their views. You will understand that in the current climate, there is little we can do about that… The spokesperson for the Palestine Scout Association is Tawfeeq Salem who is the Secretary General.

This too, is a lie, told to the WOSM by representatives of the Palestinian Scout Association. As PMW states clearly on its website:

Evidence:

  1. The Palestinian scouts have only one name in Arabic: The Palestinian Scouts and Guides Association.

WOSM’s spokesperson Stephen Peck was informed by the PSA that there are two different organizations with two different names, and this is not true. The WOSM-recognized PSA’s name in Arabic is literally “Palestinian Scouts and Guides Association” – the name that WOSM was told by the Palestinian scouts is a different organization. See for example “Director of the Scouts and Guides leader Tawfeeq Salem.” [Ma’an, independent Palestinian news agency, Feb. 29, 2016]  Tawfeeq Salem is the person WOSM recognizes as the legitimate PSA Secretary General. This name, “Palestinian Scouts and Guides Association,” appears on WOSM’s website, in official WOSM events, and in the Palestinian media.

There is only one name. There is only one organization.

I urge readers to go see the wealth of information at PMW, proving without a doubt that the Palestinian Scouts and Guides Association and the Palestinian Scouts Association are one and the same and that this troop definitely is a member of the WOSM in good standing, and under these auspices, held a “leadership training course” named for Baha Alyan, an Arab terrorist who murdered three Jews in October, one of them, the peace activist Richard Lakin.

I spoke to Itamar Marcus:

Judean Rose: What will be your next move regarding this matter? Is the WOSM paying attention to you? Are they going to take this matter seriously?

Itamar Marcus: They are taking this seriously. I am convinced they were misled and actually believed the Palestinian Scout Association. I expect that they will review this and take necessary steps. Their spokesperson has informed me that they will review this and reply to us.

***

I really hope so.

Meantime, I’m told PMW will be issuing a bombshell update on this matter later this evening (hint: think footage), so stay tuned to this space.

History, 9/11

History: Is 9/11 Doomed to Repeat?

“History is doomed to repeat itself.” The phrase was stuck in my head last night and I awoke to its refrain this morning, September 12. Which is nuts.

History may be doomed to repeat itself, but no one much thinks about September 11 on September 12.

Unless you’re someone like me, I guess.

Feeling Cleansed

If you’re someone like me, you try not to think about 9/11 on September 11. You don’t want to think about 9/11 because you don’t like having your emotions manipulated by the media. If you’re like me, you don’t want to think about 9/11 because you don’t wish to immerse yourself in a tragedy for a single day and then move on. You don’t want to feel cleansed.

For people like me, you see, 9/11 isn’t a one-day event.

People like me, well, we think about terror all the time. We have fear in our hearts. We are afraid of losing the immediacy: the sense of danger that terror can strike anyone at any time, without warning. People like us don’t believe in catch-phrases like “Never again.”

We dread being caught off-guard, caught frozen: the deer in the headlights thing.

The Scale

9/11 can happen again. Has happened again. 9/11 is Charlie Hebdo, Richard Lakin, and San Bernardino. Only the details are different and the scale. What changes is the location, the method, and the number of people directly affected.

The motive is absolutely the same.

And here is something interesting: “History is doomed to repeat itself” is not the actual quote. The actual quote is this: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

This means remembering that the motive behind 9/11 still exists, is still ever-present, still strong. We are not even close to eradicating radical Islamic terrorism from our world when so many of us cannot even say the phrase “radical Islamic terror.” And there is no mistaking the idea that radical Islamic terror is the force behind 9/11, its tears and fears, and the thing that threatens to repeat.

It is the day after 9/11 that we must be resolved to remain sober, sad, shocked, and in pain. September 12 is the day we must remember what bonds us as human beings and conversely, the thing that threatens to rips us apart at the seams, consuming all good, all kindness, all the things that makes us what we are.

It is precisely the day after all the media hype, after videos like this one go viral:

. . . that we must watch the videos and feel the feelings afresh, let them wash over us.

So that in remembering the past, we won’t be condemned by our forgetfulness.