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Roger L. Simon

Israel, Day #6: Face-to-Face with The Enemy (Sort Of)

June 6th, 2013 - 7:42 am

I’ve been in Jerusalem the last few days engaging in a combination of traditional tourism and what you might call political tourism (others might call it research, but I’m being honest, or trying to be).

Traditional tourism in Jerusalem has always been fascinating, but it has reached another level in the intervening twenty years since I have been here. The archaeological excavations in and around the Old City have grown exponentially and now are as interesting as the Roman Forum, more so if you’re Jewish. They are also extraordinarily well presented. You can spend a lifetime studying them and obviously people do.

But you can read about this a million places online and I have no special insight to add to what is already there — except to stay out of Hezekiah’s Tunnel if you’re claustrophobic and not to miss eating at the Mahneyuda Restaurant off Jerusalem’s Mehana Yehuda market, world class food in a raucous, fun atmosphere.

Now to the political tourism. Some of this had been arranged in advance. Through the offices of friends in the Israeli diplomatic corps in Los Angeles, a “briefing” was set up for me in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was quite cordial and flattering to be there.

But what did I learn that I didn’t already know? Nothing. If I had, something would have been wrong. Who was I? And besides, I have trouble keeping secrets about the most minor affairs. You would have to be nuts to share something of an important confidential political nature with me.

Well, I’m not dead certain of that. I’ve never actually been told anything of that nature that was any more than gossip. Maybe I’m more trustworthy than that. In any case, I learned at the Ministry that Israel thinks the Arab world is going through a tumultuous period of change with no clear end in sight. (Are you surprised? How could they think otherwise?) Also, they are generally loathe to get involved unless they deem it absolutely necessary. (Again, not surprising.)

Still, it was fascinating being inside an Israeli ministry. The foreign affairs building is attractive and made of translucent stone, a modernized Jerusalem look. The most impressive modernized Jerusalem look, however, is Moshe Safdie’s design for Yad Vashem, the Holocaust history museum, a prism-like triangular structure.

My second foray into political tourism was, let us say, somewhat more exotic. I was taken to the Israeli equivalent of Guantanamo to observe terrorist trials.

To get there, we drove out of Jerusalem along the highway that weaves in and out of the West Bank, along the security fence, past a checkpoint, several of the infamous settlements (they looked benign) and onto a military base that consisted of a number of mobile homes (thankfully air conditioned).

We were inside the West Bank at this point, although only a half hour or so out of Jerusalem. It’s not isolated like Guantanamo. Indeed, it can’t be.

The trials took place inside the mobile homes. We sat in on one of them where a half-dozen men were being arraigned for what appeared to be relatively minor infractions, although, we learned later, many serious terrorists had been through this place. The courtroom was apparently open to the public, including “human rights” NGOs that frequented it, although we and our hosts were the only ones in the audience this time.

We attracted the curious stares of the defendants who, ten feet away from us, didn’t look the least frightened or intimidated. Their defense attorneys, one of them with a trendy haircut out of Melrose Avenue, were trying to get them bail. (Difficult, I was told.) The defense attorneys were apparently Christian Arabs paid for their work by Hamas or the Palestinian Authority, depending on the allegiance of the (almost always) men in the dock. I was startled to hear that the dreaded Hamas could be involved at this level, but was met with a shrug.

It seemed the same mixture of scattered impatience and studied jurisprudence I was used to from American courts. A job was being done with the usual fairness.

Our friends at the United Nations, specifically UNICEF, I was later informed by one of the prosecutors, felt differently. A recently filed report entitled “Palestinian children in Israeli military detention” accuses the Israelis of not reading these children their rights. Strangely enough, however, this same report (it was shown to me) cites as proof of this accusation a transcript of the interrogation of a Palestinian youth in which he was read his rights in detail, essentially Mirandized. Go figure.

Well, don’t figure too long, because it’s the UN, that same organization that devotes a staggering percentage of its efforts to attacking Israel. Just keep this in your head next Halloween.

*****

Thumbnail image courtesy shutterstock / Andrey Burmakin

Check out the previous installments in Roger L. Simon’s trip to Israel:

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It's comments like this that make me wish PJMedia had installed a thumbs down feature.

Oh well.
1 year ago
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All Comments   (15)
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1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
footnote
Isaiah 38
38 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

2 Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

4 Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: 5 “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life. 6 And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's too bad you never took me up on several offers to help. It sounds like you are on a standard JNF feel good and pretend to make them feel important tour. All sizzle and no steak. Jerusalem without The Temple Mount, Israel without Machpelah and Chevron, etc. Shabbat without Tsfat? These are not just " religious " experiences but the essence of Israel itself.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks for your concern, Menachem, though I'm not quite sure what you mean. This is my fourth trip to Israel and I have been to the Temple Mount (as far as you can go) on every occasion. In fact, in the eighties, when it was allowable, I was in the Dome at the Foundation Stone. Also, I am going to Tsfat today (my second visit), if that reassures you. Not sure it will.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Better. Put on your walking shoes and demand to be taken to Maarat Hakeshet. Make sure you visit Machpelah before you go back to the USA.Grab some ricotta from the Meiri family in Tsfat and you will never go back. Say a prayer for al of us in the Ari Schul. Don't leave without buying Tfillin. I am reassured. If you do come back to Yerushalyim you are welcome in my home anytime. Shabbat Shalom.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In trying to buttress your assertions by listing those affiliations, Mr. Duck, you admit that you believe that your having your beliefs while belonging to those groups is the story you hope will have impact.

IOW, knowing that dog bites man is no story, you write a man bites dog --thus admitting you're not only a rarity, but also a rarity who doesn't want to be a rarity.

Hence, advice is in order: please get some facts, and those facts will join you into the righteous. "Revolutionary truth" is not truth at all --that's why it needs the adjective.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh, and Mr. Duck, we don't have race mixing laws here in Israel. In fact, we have a society as diverse as anywhere on earth-Brazil, India, etc. I work in the high-tech sector, and I have Arab, Ethopian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, Homosexual colleagues. Do you?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So you observed that Yad Vashem was a "triangular prism shaped structure". I hope you noticed more than that and had more time there than it seems.

Looks like you are getting rushed though Israel. Maybe take at least half a day to remember or learn what Yad Vashem is and take some time to reflect. It took some time to even get my wife, a daughter of survivors, to even get her into that building because she could not stop weeping knowing what that triangular tunnel contained. Her family is there somewhere.

Maybe this is too much too fast. Mixing a business and personal tour. You were at the wall in Jerusalem. Maybe you do not want to talk about that in a blog post after your long day. I could understand that.

I do not understand your comparison of what you observed in the west bank to gitmo. It was not a long term detention prison at all was it? It was a facility to legally process detainees accused of crimes within the very same territory where the alleged crimes occurred. Guantanamo is something so different that I do not know where to begin.

Usual tour goes to Golan at some point. Hope you cn get there Mr. Simon. It seems that things are tight now.

Shalom
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This Latino, Viet-Vet, NRA and T-Party member sees you as a anti-Semite. Your bigotry made you a natural supporter of the Terrorist Palestinians even as they hate our own country. I think you are confused.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"the gaza strip is an open air concentration camp." Gee, Mr. Duck, does that come out of your many years of living in Israel/Gaza/Egypt, or do your comrades on Stormfront feed you this wisdom? Concentration camps don't have shopping malls, 5 star hotels, or groceries overflowing with goods. Did I overtax your few remaining brain cells yet?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
PJMedia is becoming 'successful' enough to attract anti semites like "TacticalDuck"; and I do not think that he is a Tea Party Member. Anyway, your visit to Israel sounds great, Roger, and I keep thinking I should go visit it.
1 year ago
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