Saturday, April 21, 2012

About Holocaust deniers and access roads

Like every year on Holocaust Remembrance Day, there was an enormous  banner headline: "Remember, and Never Ever Forget."  But in the memorial ceremony, on which a report followed under that headline, there was not much of a reference to the memories of the past, the inconceivable horror for whose commemoration this date had been inserted in our calendar. On the past which needs to be remembered our PM had only a few perfunctory words to say, before rushing on to his real interest - the future which awaits us, the new Auschwitz which is prepared for us in Iran, and the might and power of our army and our Air Force which would soon go rushing over there to crush the terrible plot. (At least, on this occasion Netanyahu he made no jokes about ducks).

Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, Army Chief of Staff, spoke at another ceremony marking Holocaust Memorial Day and he too warned all enemies that the IDF's fist of steel stands ready to deal a harsh blow to any who attempt to harm the Jewish People. President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shimon Peres delivered a speech on yet a third Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony and he too devoted the bulk of his speech to our villainous enemies and sternly warned them not to underestimate the visible and the hidden capabilities of the State of Israel to deal with a threat from Iran.

Indeed, Shimon Peres is incomparably qualified to talk about the hidden capabilities of the State of Israel to strike at its enemies, having been involved in the creation and development of these capabilities from their very start,  more than fifty years ago. He had gone through the entire process: the reactor built secretly and initially asserted to be "nothing more than a textile factory", and the construction of centrifuges to enrich uranium, and the playing of games of cat and mouse with a President of the United States who did not like this reactor and this nuclear program, and then the breakthrough and the first bomb and the second and the tenth and up to many hundreds, and the missiles designed to carry the bombs to their destination, and the submarines designed to carry the missiles and provide a second-strike capability. In fact, Shimon Peres,  with his rich experience in this field, could have given valuable professional advice to the Iranians, who take their own first steps on the same road fifty years later.

Incidentally, the Prime Minister appealed to me not only through the papers and TV. In recent weeks I received from him almost every day a personal message offering me a link of friendship. So did Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu write:
"Dear citizen, in every generation enemies are rising up to destroy us - but our enemies will not succeed. I invite you to join my personal Facebook page. Have a happy and kosher Passover."

Yes, Netanyahu is right. All of them are our enemies – from the villainous Black President in the White House, though the bastard Nobel Prize Laureate in Germany and - yes even a real enemy in Tehran. But these bastards will not succeed, for we have got a great leader, strong and heroic, Benjamin Netanyahu is his name.  Against all our enemies, each and every one of them, our Prime Minister is ever ready to mobilize the full panoply of our country's might.  When the Iranian Great Duck is threatening to build a nuclear bomb, we will make a great uproar throughout the world and demand of all states to impose severe sanctions on the duck and strangle his economy. Even so, we would not put our trust in the hypocritical world, but will get our own good Air Force pilots ready to launch an offensive and a bombing and a war. And by the same measure, when activists threaten to arrive at Ben Gurion Airport, carrying in their pockets toothbrushes and invitations from Palestinian organizations  to visit Bethlehem, we will make a great uproar throughout the world and demand of all airlines to cancel their tickets to block their way. Also in this case we would not put our trust in the hypocritical world, but will get our own good Riot Police ready to immediately pounce and drag off to prison any activist who dares to show his face here.

So why oh why pick on one little miserable lieutenant colonel who got the message of his supreme commander, trickling down directly from the top of the pyramid? Eisner the officer saw the Palestinian and European enemies of Israel, armed with bikes, racing towards the Jordan Valley Highway which is reserved for the use of Israelis only, and hurried to do in his own sphere what the Prime Minister instructed, make sure with his own personal gun that these dangerous enemies who rise up against us will not succeed.

In some other places this week had been no camera, and there the result was really very different. For example, there had been no cameras in the Beit Hanina Neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Settler leader Aryeh King and his men, accompanied by Israeli police, came to the house of Khaled Natsheh Suleiman, whose family had lived there since 1935 - and soon the family was thrown into the street. Newspapers reported (those who bothered to report this at all) that "the evacuation had gone on relatively calmly, except for the family father's getting arrested". All this was a perfectly legal action. As in previous cases in East Jerusalem, an Israeli court ruled with all proper procedure that the piece of land on which the house was built had belonged many decades ago to Jews, which at present makes it the property of the settlers and of their "Land of Israel Fund". (Of course, the land which Palestinians owned long ago, is NOT to be given back to them according to Israeli laws enforced by Israeli courts...)

Immediately, good Jewish settler families entered the emptied house. According to the settler King, he had carefully chosen especially idealistic couples to come and live there, as it is a unique pioneering act which  enhances and strengthens the Jewish presence in Jerusalem,  the Eternal Capital of Israel. And the idealistic couples already managed to settle down in their new home by the time the Holocaust Memorial Day began on that same evening. Like the rest of Israel's citizen body they could take part in the Moment of Silence when the ceremonies were talking place where the Prime Minister and President and Chief of Staff spoke to commemorate the memory of the Holocaust and raise the fist of steel to smite the enemies who rise up against us in every generation.

And at the same when the settler King arrived at the house in Beit Hanina, the steel fist of the Israeli Defense Forces was very much in evidence at the village of Aqaba in the northern Jordan Valley, which is actually not so far from the spot where Lieutenant Colonel Eisner taught a lesson to the wretched peace activist enemy of Israel from Denmark. And the fist of steel came down upon the two access roads connecting the small village of Aqaba to the town of Tubas to the west and to the Bardala Junction to the east, and which also allow residents access to their farmland. Military bulldozers plowed and destroyed and blocked the roads thoroughly, so as to prevent residents from using them. And all this was perfectly and impeccably legal, as the military governor had signed with his own hand a decree prohibiting the residents of Aqaba from establishing roads in and out to their village, and warning them that such roads would be destroyed and blocked if found to have been created. And also to build houses is forbidden to the people of Aqaba, and houses found to have been built anyway are to be destroyed. In fact, this village just should not be there, and that is because the government does not want Arabs to be living in this area. The Jordan Valley Region is considered a strategic area which should remain in Israeli control, and therefore should not be inhabited by Arabs.
And in the village of Aqaba, which in the opinion of the State of Israel should not exist but its three hundred residents have a different opinion about this issue, there actually were photographers present. There was an Israeli activist and two Americans and one Australian. They did make photos of a Palestinian village mayor in a wheelchair trying vainly to reason with Israeli soldiers, but the footage was not dramatic enough and no TV channel was interested. And the Israeli woman who was there asked the Border Guard officer who was in charge of safeguarding the destruction of the roads: "Why are you doing this?" And he replied "It pains me too, I just follow orders." And another officer was furious about the presence of activists and yelled at them "You leftists get in the way and interfere with our carrying out our mission, but we'll come back when you're not here and settle accounts." Both officers – the one who was only obeying orders and the one who promised to end accounts – ended in good time the destruction and blocking of the roads, and in the evening they were in their homes with their families, so that they too could take part in the Moment of Silence to commemorate the Holocaust.

And the newspaper "Israel Today", which is published by American billionaire Sheldon Edelson on behalf Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,  published on the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day a big and important article by the well-known columnist Dan Margalit, entitled "Stop the Holocuast Denial from Within." In this article Dan Margalit made a startling new exposure: within the State of Israel a malignant new type of Holocaust deniers has arisen. Not that these people deny that the Holocaust did happen, but they do stubbornly refuse to draw the correct conclusions from it. Holocaust deniers are those who do not want to go to Auschwitz and wave there Blue and White flags and stride there wearing IDF uniforms and fly in the skies over the silent gas chambers in fighter jets of the Israeli Air Force. Holocaust deniers are those who do not draw the conclusion that The Jew must always walk with gun in hand, in the paths of his own country as anywhere else in the world. Holocaust deniers are the ones who do not understand that "without the steel helmet and the artillery's muzzle, we will not be able to plant a tree or build a house." Holocaust deniers are those who do not accept that "in order to establish the right of the Jewish people to be here we must rely on our 3800 years old title deed to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, but also on the Holocaust, and on the Israel Defense Forces – an unbreakable Threefold  Bond from the Cave to the Gas Chamber to the Military Base". And worst of all Holocaust deniers are those who dare assert that "the most terrible carnage in history is even more a human tragedy than a Jewish one".

Like every year, a week after Holocaust Memorial Day comes the turn of Independence Day. The State of Israel celebrates sixty-four years of independence, and as in previous years will continue to prevent the Palestinians from celebrating their own First Independence Day. The settlers throughout the West Bank are also preparing to celebrate, and they already published an invitation for a great outdoors celebration in the Nablus Region, within a well fenced compound guarded by the army so as not to give the Palestinian neighbors any chance of disrupting the joy of Independence Day. A festive joint invitation was published, on behalf of the Samaria Regional Council for the settlers and the Samaria Regional Brigade on behalf for the Israel Defense Forces, decorated with the pictures of smiling soldiers and smiling settlers, and the settler children are guaranteed a rich artistic program and a free popsickle for each child. Dan Margalit could be proud of how much they don't deny the Holocaust.

This week, the call up day came for two young Israelis, Noam Gur and Alon Gurman. Dozens of their friends accompanied them up to the gates of the Induction Center at Tel Hashomer. Noam Gur handed the officers in charge a copy of her letter, stating: "I refuse to join an army that has been, since its inception, engaged in dominating another people, plundering and terrorizing a civilian population which lives under its rule." She was immediately sent off to military prison. According to past precedents, in a few weeks' time she will be returned to the Induction Center and asked again to join the army, and refuse again and go again to jail and so on and on until the military authorities get tired of the game.

The officers then turned to Alon Gurman, who also had a letter ready: "My refusal to serve in the Israeli military, in addition to being a refusal to take part in occupation and apartheid, is an act of solidarity with our Palestinian friends living under Israeli rule and with their struggle for liberty, justice and equality."
He had expected to get to the military prison, too, and had brought with him some gear to ease his stay there. But to Gurman's surprise, the officers sent him home and informed him that he will soon be interviewed by a Mental Health Officer, to verify the condition of his mind.

Overall, a reasonable decision. An 18-year old dares to confront, head on, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Defense, and the Minister of Education,  and the Army Chief of Staff, and all officers of the Israeli Defense Forces, and also Dan Margalit whose wise words are being printed in hundreds of thousands of copies and distributed free of charge in the streets of all Israeli cities. There is a real reason to check, maybe something is wrong with this young guy.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The double tongue of the Philosopher-Minister

Netanyahu , our Prime Minister, is apparently concerned about the threat of renewed social protest - which filled last summer the Israeli streets -  even more than he is worried about the Iranian Bomb. It is a fact that already for more than a month we have not heard from him even a single word about the new Auschwitz threatened by the nuclear duck in Tehran. Instead, we hear every day about how well our society and economy is faring, and why the social protest people have absolutely no reason to go into the streets. And if they do insist on demonstrating, then let them accuse the Arabs, or the ultra-Orthodox, or the major trade unions – let them accuse whoever they want,  just as long as they don’t blame the government nor hard-working tycoons who made their billions with the sweat of their brows. Meanwhile the police is not taking chances, and whenever there is a social protest  even in small numbers, officers rush to disperse it and those who appear to be the ringleaders are hauled off to detention and instant trials

And now entering the fray is also the well-known philosopher Dr. Yuval Steinitz, Netanyahu's old friend, the man who jumped out of the ivory towers of the Haifa University straight into the stormy waters of the Israeli economy.  Aristotle would have been delighted: a  Philosopher-King, or at least - a minister.

Two newspapers, "Israel Today" and "Makor Rishon", dedicated several pages to extensive interviews with the Philosopher Finance Minister. In the two papers Steinitz said almost exactly the same, praising without limit the excellent functioning of our economy under the leadership of "myself and the Prime Minister."

Again and again he reiterated how fortunate Israel is compared to other Western countries. Again and again he explained how confused and wrong-headed are the social protest people who regard everything on the dark side and who insist that the fruits of the economic prosperity do not get to them nor to their families or their friends and neighbors. In both papers Steinitz quoted the compliments he got at international conferences and from analysts at foreign newspapers. He explained that only in Israel does the media take a biased hostile approach towards himself and  the  Prime Minister, and their policies.

In both papers the interviewers certainly did not embarrass Steinitz with unpleasant questions. For example, none of them asked him about the many cases where the Prime Minister  took significant economic decisions and his friend the Minister of Finance only heard of them through the media.

But still, the two interviews were not completely identical. In "Makor Rishon" the Minister of Finance told some interesting things: "As for increased funding to the settlements, I do not want to get into numbers but let's just say that aid to settlement in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights has soared by several dozen percentage points during my tenure as Finance Minister. This comes from my deep sense that in past years the settlements  have been deprived of funds because of various constraints. There were international pressures, some organizations no longer invest in settlements in the Territories, out of fear it would hurt their fundraising ability.

We had to compensate for the damages caused by settlement freeze and slowdown in construction - I'm very proud of it. In addition to the financial aid I was privileged to contribute greatly to the Ariel Hall of Culture whose completion was stuck for years because of budget shortages, and also the Hall of Culture in Kiryat Arba. Now we are also helping the building of a Hall of Culture in Ma'aleh Adumim. "

The clever Philosopher Finance Minister said these  things on the pages of "Makor Rishon", a newspaper whose readers are mainly settlers and the settlers' staunch supporters. However, in "Israel Today", a newspaper which is distributed free to ordinary Israelis, to random passersby on the streets, Dr. Steinitz chose not to say even one word about the settlements and the government funding given to them. Guess why.

See you on May 12

It seems the stiff-necked, stubborn social protest activists are turning a deaf ear to the reasoned exhortations of the Prime Minister and his friend the Philosopher. They just can't comprehend how well off they are, how wonderfully flourishing the economy and state are, how perfectly happy everybody is. So ungrateful!

For example, just look at the message I received from Yigal Rambam, one of the organizers of last summer's social protest.

Give us back our democracy! - May 12, 2012
Come to a mass happening on Tel Aviv's Rabin Square.

For the sake of our children, so that they could continue to have human  dignity, for the democracy which was stolen from us, for a sane life in this country! Against the economic oligarchy which had gained control over the State of Israel and its resources, for the people bowing down under the burden of the cost of living and the taxes.

At the beginning of this opening of this summer's campaign, we will say loud and clear to the economic oligarchy: We have had enough, return Israel to the Israelis!

Come and get to know all of the people's protest movements. Throughout the day there will be social activities all over the country, culminating with a joint mass event of the social activists and the movements of popular protest.

All must come in order to clarify that we will not take it any more! We are fed up!  We will not give in! We have had enough of the current system!

Come and bring your signs, your guitars and your sushi.
Come and present your own activity or join whichever activity suits you best. Come to show your way of making this a better country, for the benefit of all of us.

Our plight is a global phenomenon:

While our wages are being eroded, the prices of food, electricity, gas and water have gone up. Our savings were stolen when tycoons are allowed to default on paying their bond-holders, and the exorbitant fees imposed by banks and pension funds.

Every sphere of basic livelihood in Israel suffers from economic distortion – being either dominated by monopolies and cartels or subject to excessive and unjust taxation.

This is a global phenomenon - and we suffer from it every day.

Israel is dear to us, and daily life in Israel becomes ever more dear. We're not going to abandon Israel to the tycoons, lobbyists and the combinations of  capital and government, which arise under any government. Israel belongs to us, not to any financial oligarchy, national or international.

Israeli citizens understand that exchanging one political party with another does not change the system. The tycoons dominate the government and the media. The change must go be deeper: the country must be returned to the people. Israeli citizens must regain to the sovereignty which had been usurped bit by bit by a few, who control the economy and the corridors of power.

It's time to reclaim what was taken from us. If we don't do it for ourselves, who  will do it for us?

Young and old, we have all grown since last summer. This is a demonstration where protesters from different backgrounds, different age groups will link hands, we will no longer let anyone divide us. We all strive for a better future for our children. We call here upon all the protest movements, especially movements that deal with issues of food, housing, education and health, movements that demand solutions to the disadvantaged populations and the middle class, movements demanding tax cuts where they are needed and the correction of distortions in the socio-economic system. 

We urge everyone who wants to make a real difference through an authentic popular protest, and who is not going to make use of it as a tool for electoral gain, to join us and lend a hand and take part in the popular happening.

Friday, April 6, 2012

One swallow does not make a spring

Pesach in Hebron 44 years ago - not long after Israel's army conquered this city during the war which lasted six days, and the Israeli military government was still at its beginning, and there were those who still spoke seriously about "The Liberal Occupation". A group calling themselves "settlers" (a new concept at the time)  arrived in Hebron, headed by Rabbi Moshe Levinger. They set themselves up at the city's Park Hotel, ostensibly in order to celebrate the Passover and in fact to embark on the creation of "accomplished facts".

The military governor predicted that a constant focus of dangerous tensions would be created in the city placed under his authority and wanted to immediately evict the settlers from the city, which under the military regulations he had the authority to do. But the senior minister Yigal Allon came to visit , as did other ministers  and Knesset Members, congratulating and encouraging the settlers.

And ultimately a "compromise" was proclaimed – the first of very many – and Levinger and followers remained on the scene. A large parcel of land east of Hebron was confiscated from the Palestinian inhabitants, on which Kiryat Arba was established. But the settlers were not content with this and stridently demanded to get also a foothold in the heart of the Arab city. Their wives went out and took possession of the Hadassah House, and the government decided that it was not nice to evict women and therefore did not evict them. And then the army, on humanitarian grounds, allowed the husbands to visit their wives in the house they occupied, and somehow the soldiers failed to notice that the  visitors did not leave but remained to take up residence in the house.

And thereafter the settlers took over one more house and one more, and yet  another and another. Sometimes they claimed to have purchased a house from its owner via all sorts of convoluted deals, involving many brokers and go-betweens and "straw men". And sometimes it was suddenly discovered that a certain house had belonged to a certain Jew a hundred years ago, which of course in the here and now made it a settler property. And sometimes a house was found to be abandoned and evidently of no use to its Palestinian owners.  And sometimes the residents of a nearby house were harassed and their life made into hell until the house had become abandoned. And in one particularly amusing episode some very fat settlers held a very spirited dance for the  Purim Holiday and stamped their feet on the thin floor and suddenly it broke and one of them fell through into the Palestinian shop on the floor below. He was not badly hurt, but when the Palestinian merchant arrived in the morning he found his shop to have already become property of the settlers.

And there was the incident in which the army occupied the central bus station of Hebron and moved Palestinians elsewhere and made of it a military camp, as was needed due to urgent security considerations. Then came the settlers and set up tents on the site of the Central Bus Station, and afterwards the soldiers left and the settlers were given possession of the lot and energetically started building.

After the terrible terrorist attack in which Palestinians shot and killed six settlers, the army was apprehensive of further attacks. Therefore, for the protection of the settlers the army destroyed several Palestinian buildings and handed the lots where they had stood to the settlers, for their greater security.  And after the terrible terrorist attack in which settler Baruch Goldstein shot and killed 29 Palestinians during their prayer, the army was apprehensive of Palestinians retaliating against the settlers. Therefore, for the protection of the settlers the army closed down main street, Shuhada Street, and gave it over to the settlers' exclusive possession and banned Palestinians (or leftist Israelis) from walking on it.

When Binyamin Netanyahu , on his first term as Prime Minister, signed the Hebron Agreement in January 1997, the City of Hebron was divided into a Palestinian Zone and an Israeli one. In the Israeli Zone lived a few hundred Israeli settlers and tens of thousands of Palestinians, but the settlers did all in their power - and their power  was considerable  - to redress the demographic balance. Only Palestinians with great determination and tremendous stamina remained in the area where there were many days of curfew and commerce broke down and the shops were empty and any (Palestinian) passerby was liable to be subjected to stringent and repeated security searches by patrolling soldiers and assaults by adult settlers on the street and streams of urine from settler children on the balconies to the indulgent laughter of their parents.

Meanwhile, the Hebron settlers gave the inspiration to many other settlers venturing north and south and east and west and creating more and more facts on the ground and emulating the Hebron methods in many other locations.

And now, in April 2012, it seemed as if time turned back to the starting point. Hebron settlers taking over a house and creating yet another accomplished fact. And this time their leader is Shlomo Levinger, son of Rabbi Moshe. And again army commanders warn of increasing tensions and the creation of a new a focus of dangerous  friction. And again a parade of ministers and Knesset Members go on a pilgrimage to the spot to congratulate and encourage the settlers. And again ...

And here, just this week, the army took the action which was not taken then.  By the government which sends school kids to Jewish Heritage tours to  Hebron and threatens theaters with dire financial consequences if they dare to refrain from performing at Kiryat Arba's "Hall of Culture". In this unlikely government, the Minister of Defense - and with the backing of the Prime Minister, so it seems – made a show of determination and of adherence to the rule of law. 

And it turned out that the evacuation was over in five minutes, without incident, and the building was emptied and sealed. Admittedly, we were all surprised.

Had this happened 44 years ago, it might have been a historic event, a strategic change. Had the settlers not been allowed to establish themselves in Hebron and spread from there in all directions, the entire situation between Israelis and Palestinians today would be totally different. The occupation would have ended long ago and the State of Israel and the State of Palestine would have been living in peace with each other by now.

In the actual State of Israel in April 2012, will a single manifestation of   determination and the removal of one group of settlers from one particular  house turn out to be the harbinger of things to come? Not likely, and not only because the evacuation of a single house in Hebron was immediately "counterbalanced" by providing "legalization" to three "settlement outposts" which had been hitherto   considered to be illegal, and the issuing of tenders for constructing hundreds of new housing units in the famous (or notorious) Har Homa settlement-neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Most likely, the evacuation of this Hebron house would remain a single isolated incident in the annals of Binyamin Netanyahu's second cabinet. In order for once to make a good impression on the U.S. Government and the Quartet, after  telegrams  began to arrive from Israeli ambassadors worldwide clamoring about the public relations damage caused by this one house. Or because of the intrigues of Ehud Barak, a Defense Minister whose political future is behind him and who still harbors pipe dreams of becoming once again "the center-left  leader." Or because Netanyahu needs to maintain Barak as the "moderate" face which the government can show to the world. Because all kinds of momentary and opportunistic considerations.

Still, the lesson was learned and the precedent was created, and it just might  have considerable influence at some future time, with a different government and different conditions in Israel and the region and the world. If you are really determined to evacuate them, the formidable settlers may turn out to be paper tigers. If you really want to do it, it's possible.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"Relative quiet, a few casualties"

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, has a good friend named Sheldon Adelson. Sheldon Adelson is a billionaire, who makes a lot of money out of the gamblers who travel to gamble in his casinos at  Macau, once a colony of Portugal and now a gambling colony of the People's Republic of China. So much money does he make out of the from gambling in Macau that he has no trouble at all to pay out of his pocket three hundred million dollars in order to finance for his good friend Binyamin Netanyahu a Hebrew newspaper called "Israel today". It loses a lot of money - but no to worry, it continues to be publish and to be distributed free to every passer by on the streets of Israel's cities, and the money keeps flowing, straight from the Macau gambling houses to the printing presses in Israel. (Sheldon Adelson was also quite generous to another good friend of his, named Newt Gingrich, who very much wanted to be President of the United States – what a shame that the voters did not get really excited).

And this morning, Sheldon Adelson 's free newspaper had a headline  reading: ""Relative quiet, a few casualties". And the article under the headline said that the Land Day demonstrations this year were not very remarkable. Yes, there were demonstrations here and there, at the Qalandiya Checkpoint and Bethlehem and on the streets of East Jerusalem and at the Gaza Strip and in the Negev and the Galilee and Lebanon and Syria and Jordan, but overall it was not really very special. Indeed, some tear gas was fired, some people got injured here and there, some ambulances were wailing their way to hospital, nothing special. A relative quiet. And oh yes, there was one fatality. It was not very prominently reported on the newspaper of Adelson and Netanyahu (To be fair, it was not very prominent on the rest of the enlightened Israeli press. either). But the paper did report it, which is not nothing, either.

A one line report: "One of the protesters was killed when he passed the Red Line defined by the IDF. Snipers shot and hit him." That's it. Report over, and one can move on to more interesting news. The Army defied a Red Line and positioned snipers, the snipers obeyed their order to the letter, shot and killed and returned safely to base. Who gave the order? Why the red line? Why shoot to kill? Was anyone in danger because a single unarmed protester passed a Red Line? Had there been no other choice? And anyway, what was the dead demonstrator's name? Enough, really, enough - how many more stupid questions are you going to ask?

In truth, at least for the last question the answer is not very difficult to find. One click on a computer mouse is quite enough. It was  Mahmoud Zaqout who went to the protest and crossed the Red Line set by the Israel Defense Forces, and got into the sights of the sophisticated sniper rifle,  and will remain 21 years old forever. But why should an Israeli news editor on March 2012 waste two minutes of his precious time to locate this information? Who cares?

Back to The Beaufort

"The IDF commanders said they were satisfied that the demonstrators in Lebanon held a rally near the Beaufort Castle and did not advance towards the Israeli border."

Beaufort Castle. What is it, where is it? Who knows? The IDF soldiers doing their term of service nowadays barely know the name and are not quite sure what exactly happened there. Those who still remember the 1970's and 1980's can remember when the time when The Beaufort was very prominent in the headlines. For a time it was called "The Monster of the North" and was regarded as a strategic objective which must be subdued, and there was much complaint of the massive basalt rocks used by its Medieval builders which proved able to stand even the bombardments of modern artillery and aerial bombings.

And then the first day of the First Lebanon War. Exulting newscasters reporting on the capture of The Beaufort and the Israeli flag fluttering over it. And Prime Minister Menachem Begin arriving there by helicopter and telling reporters that "The Beaufort was captured without any Israeli casualties" (that's what he had been told). And the public anger when the  truth came out, and the protests of family members of Major Guni Harnick and the other soldiers killed in the conquest of The Beaufort, the first spark in the escalating chain of protests which brought masses into the  streets and sent objecting soldiers to the military prison and eventually eventually got the troops out of Lebanon - though it took eighteen years and many more deaths. And at last the Israeli flag was lowered from the flagpole on The Beaufort and this scene was broadcast worldwide. But afterwards there did not happen anything special there and The Beaufort went out of heart and mind. Even the Land Day rally which took place there last Friday is not very likely to bring it back into the public mind.

Do not to worry. The Beaufort got a lot of heirs. Also today there are plenty of spots which are considered essential and crucial and of the most vital strategic importance, to be given up under any circumstances. Just ask Netanyahu.