Friday, September 05, 2014

By the numbers

To the uninitiated the Hebrew place names may sound complex, Kiryat Shmone, Ein HaShlosha, Ma'ale HaChamisha, Netiv HaLamed He.  Maybe they are ancient biblical names.  But, to Hebrew speakers the names tell a different story, the story of the history of this Land, the story of murder and of numbers.
Kiryat Shmone is in the far north of Israel near the Lebanese border and means the "City of Eight," it is named for the eight defenders who were murdered by Arab irregulars in 1920, long before the State was established.  Ein HaShlosha is in southern Israel near the Gaza border and means "Well of the Three" and is named for three young men who were killed by Arabs in 1948 during the War of Independence.  Ma'ale HaChamisha is near Jerusalem and means the "Ascent of the Five" and is named in honor of five young Polish Jewish immigrants, who were ambushed by Arabs in 1936.   Netiv HaLamed He is a kibbutz south west of Jerusalem in the Elah Valley near the Etzion bloc of settlements and means the "Path of the Thirty five."  It commemmorates the 35 young men (lamed he is 35 in Hebrew characters), mostly students at Hebrew University,  who went out on a rescue mission to take supplies to the besieged Jews of Kibbutz Kfar Etzion in 1947 and never made it.  They were discovered en route, surrounded by armed Arabs and massacred.  The Etzion bloc, consisting of three settlements, was one of the few Jewish settlements that were actually captured by the Arabs during the War of Independence. It's inhabitants were massacred and the survivors were taken into custody by the Jordanian Legion and it was razed to the ground by the Arabs, even the trees were uprooted.  But, it was recaptured in the Six Day War of 1967 and was resettled by the surviving children of the kibbutz.  To the Jews the numbers tell a story of death, destruction and of renewal.
The reason I tell this tale of numbers, of death and revival, is because we are in the midst of a similar story now.  On June 12, 2014, three high school students, Gilad Shaer, Naftali Frankel and Eyal Yifrah, returning from a lesson, were kidnapped and murdered by three Arab terrorists belonging to Hamas.  Their bodies were burnt and buried, but they were discovered after an extensive search.  Their murder was one of the causes of the IDF Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.  The planner of the murders, Hassan Kawasme, was indicted in an Israeli court on Sept 4, 2014, and the two other murderers are still being sought.
On Aug 15, it was announced that the Israeli Defense Minister had given permission for 1,000 acres of land in the region of the West Bank, where the bodies of the three teens had been found, to be annexed to the State of Israel.  This caused a great deal of criticism in the international media.  It may be years before this actually happens because there are numerous left-wing organizations in Israel that regard all Israeli acquisition of land as illegal.  But, in fact this land was originally supposed to be part of the Jewish State under the Palestine Mandate given to the British in 1922 and was never under recognized Arab or Palestinian sovereignty.  Once the approval clears the Israel Supreme Court a settlement will be built there.  At present there is already the small outpost of Gevaot, but it may be renamed Yad HaShlosha, the"Memorial to the Three" and will add to the settlements named for murdered and massacred Jews that unfortunately dot the landscape of Israel.  It is the Zionist way, and it evokes memory, survival and resilience.  The terrorists should know that wherever they spill Jewish blood in the Land of Israel, there a village, a town or a city will spring up.   


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