Monday, July 3

Talking with Esther Wachsman about terror - UPDATED (Exclusive Podcast)

Family photo of IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit. (Photo: Ynet)

UPDATE - Tuesday, 0700: (Half an hour after the expiration of Hamas' ultimatum, the "Army of Islam," one of the three Palestinian groups holding Shalit released a statement saying "The discussion is closed; we will not release any information of the fate of the soldier, whether he is dead or alive."

Meanwhile, Knesset security cabinet member Haim Ramon told Army Radio at 07:20 that Israel operated properly in not negotiating with Hamas, and dismissed reports of a possible deal where Shalit would be transferred to Egyptian or French custody, until Israel released Palestinian security prisoners. Ramon said the only place Shalit would be transferred to would be back to his family and home.)

I had the honor of interviewing Esther Wachsman soon after IDF troops killed Hamas mastermind Salah Darwazi, who was behind the abduction and murder of her son, Nachson in 1994. It was a deeply moving, and thoughtful discussion.

It is my fervent hope, with just six hours left as this is posted before the Hamas ultimatum runs out on the threat against the life of Gilad Shalit, that her words are heeded.

May Shalit return safely to his family and home in Mitzpe Hila.

From The Jerusalem Post:

"Esther Wachsman, mother of Nachshon who was kidnapped and killed by Hamas terrorists in October 1994, has told The Jerusalem Post that the army and the establishment have learned nothing from her son's ordeal.

"No one is so blind as those who will not see," said Wachsman poetically, during an interview late Wednesday night."

Read it all.


From Haaretz:

"I don't know if we're living in George Orwell's "1984" - where good was bad, bad was good, peace was war and war was peace - in Chelm, the city fabled for its stupidity, or in evil Sodom. In any event, this is not the country I moved to 36 years ago out of Zionist enthusiasm, as the daughter of Holocaust survivors.

"At that time I felt that I had the privilege of being part of the history of this new/old country, to get married here, to give birth to my seven sons in the Jerusalem to which we had prayed to return for 2,000 years. There was no mother prouder than me when my oldest son joined the Israel Defense Forces, wearing the uniform of the Golani Brigade, and his two younger brothers did the same. Nachshon was our third son to join the elite Orev Golani unit, and we were very proud that he had fulfilled all the expectations on which he was raised: love for the people, the land and the heritage.

"And then, in October 1994, our Nachshon was kidnapped by Hamas. In a tape that was transferred from Gaza and played on television, he was seen appealing to then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, with a rifle aimed at his temple, with his hands and feet bound and with a terrorist pushing him to speak. And he spoke: "The group from Hamas kidnapped me. They are demanding the release of Sheikh Yassin and another 200 murderous terrorists from Israeli prison. If their demands are not met, they will execute me on Friday at 8 P.M."

Read it all.


From YNETnews:

A senior Hamas government official said Monday that 'the crisis with Israel over the kidnapping of a soldier (Gilad Shalit) should be resolved through diplomacy,' signaling the group may be softening its line after issuing a harsh ultimatum to Israel that expires in less than 10 hours."

Dry Bones: The Palestinian Holiday Calendar

Israeli scientists find way to 'starve' cancer cells

"Cancer cells are seen amidst healthy cells in an undated photo from the National Cancer Institute. Scientists at an Israeli university have found a promising new way to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells" (Copy, Photo: Reuters)

(This goes well as a counterpoint, in a perverse, yet life-affirming sort of way, to the noxious, pathetic UK Jihadi screed below. Speaking personally as a stepfather of a teenage daughter who struggled mightily - and has won out against a stage-three lymphoma, thanks to Israeli doctors and staff at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, this report is wonderful news. This really is the land of miracles.)


"Scientists at an Israeli university have found a promising new way to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells while carrying out research to boost the size of peaches and nectarines, the university said on Sunday.

"The Hebrew University of Jerusalem scientists found that a protein similar to one researched in their project had the effect of blocking blood supply to tumors.

"'By blocking the blood supply to the tumors, actibind halted the ability of malignant cells to move through the blood stream,' the university said.

"'Their approach has been shown to inhibit the malignant cells without affecting normal cells and without the severe side effects of traditional treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy,' it said."
The original story: "My family is undergoing a crash course in hanging on for dear life in a struggle against cancer. And in one bitter lesson along the way, I am once again reminded of the gaping hole Palestinian terrorism slashes deep within Israeli lives and society."

(Hat tip: Atlas Shrugs)

Soldier's abductors set deadline for Israel

"The three Palestinian militant groups behind the kidnap of an Israel Defense Forces soldier on Monday gave Israel until 6 A.M. Tuesday to release Palestinian prisoners or "pay the consequences."

"The groups said that if they did not hear from Israel by that time, they wo
uld consider the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit a "closed case," but did not elaborate on the implications of the statement.

"'Military Communique 3" issued Monday said: "If the enemy does not agree to our humanitarian demands... we will regard this case as closed.'"

The Jerusalem Post has more.

Meanwhile, "
The London-based Al Hayat newspaper reported on Monday that Egyptian representatives in the Gaza Strip confirmed that kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit is alive."

And the IDF is operating in the northern Gaza Strip, as of early Monday morning, reports YNETnews.

Northern Gaza Strip, with 'Beit Lehiya,' and 'Beit Hanoun' (L-R) neighborhoods, also exploited as Kassam rocket firing areas , circled in red. Several Israeli communities were also located in the same areas, with Palestinian rocket crews now firing from atop the ruins and rubble towards Sderot to the east and Ashkelon to the north. (Photo: Haaretz)

Hoop Dreams: Israel - 'Home Game' the movie

Screenshot: 'Home Game'

(I viewed a segment of this film on Israel Channel 2 television soon after the disengagement, when the overall story was still a raw, painful trauma for Israel. I quite impressed, both with the production values, and of a simple tale wrapped in a complex story, told well, no matter where the viewer stands on Israel's political/security spectrum. Israel At Level Ground will feature a one-on-one podcast interview with the producers soon. - DB)

"The success of Gush Katif as a community was the spirit of togetherness that flourished within. Through good times and bad times, the communities stuck together and pulled through - together.

"Religious and non-religious, Sephardim and Ashkenazim - they all built up an exemplary community model that represents how Israeli society as a whole could look like and behave.

"That togetherness spirit of Gush Katif reminds us of what we were once proud of in the State of Israel and what it could be once again.

"Home Game" the movie tells the story about the last basketball tournament in Gush Katif.

The annual Gush Katif basketball tournament was the highlight of the summer for all the youth of Gush Katif, who waited all year to play and cheer on their teams to bring home the tournament trophy - a true example of the community spirit that existed throughout Gush Katif.

"The movie is about the determination, faith and struggle of the Netzer Hazani community basketball team to win the 2005 basketball tournament during the time that they were also struggling against the Israeli government plans to uproot them from their homes.

"The 2005 tournament should have been like every other, but it wasn't, because this time the Israeli government was in the midst of closing off their communities to the rest of Israel in preparation to uproot them and their families from their homes.

"However, even with this surreal reality around them, the tournament went on and brought out the best of them!"

Certainly worth viewing, and buying.

Halachic FYI on viewing the film for observant Jews, during the coming "Three Weeks" leading up to Tisha B'av, where general entertainment is gradually curtailed:

"Rav Yigal Kaminetzsky has given his approval to see "Home Game" the movie during the 9 days and even during the week of Tisha Ba'av. Rav Kaminetzsky told the movie's director 'that since the movie deals with the uprooting of families from Gush Katif it is permitted to watch the movie during the 9 days and even during the week of Tisha Ba'av.'"


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