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Sunday, July 12, 2009

A 'West Bank' wedding shows why Obama's honeymoon is over

This story also comes from the Jewish Week (Hat Tip: NY Nana). It is the story of a wedding that took place this past week in Samaria. I know one of the people in the story personally and another by email (he reads this blog from time to time). Rabbi Hillel Lieberman HY"D (may God avenge his blood - pictured) was murdered in the early days of the Oslo terror war in 2000 - I'll have more on him in a little bit. But first, the story of his daughter's wedding:
It was a West Bank wedding like all others, and no other. But Yehudit and Yosef’s story really began almost nine years ago, when Palestinians stormed Joseph’s Tomb (Kever Yosef) and its adjacent Od Yosef Chai yeshiva. Yehudit’s father, Hillel Lieberman, then 36, hearing that the holy places were in flames, left his shul in nearby Elon Moreh, hoping to rescue the Torah scrolls. Hillel’s body, still in his tallit, was pumped full of bullets and discarded.

There are now swastikas on Joseph’s Tomb, but it’s quieted down. Elon Moreh and Yitzhar, where Hillel is buried, are two of the settlements that will surely be surrendered to the Palestinians. But, the family wonders, after these settlements are turned into Anatevka, could they ever visit Hillel’s grave, or would it be mutilated and forbidden, like Joseph’s?

Elyorah Lieberman, Hillel’s sister, a New Yorker, said in a telephone interview, that Yehudit and Yosef had been looking for an apartment in Yitzhar but there were none. Construction had slowed to a crawl. There was one apartment in Yitzhar that wasn’t quite available but wasn’t quite used. Yael, the bride’s mother, begged the landlord to have a heart. Yitzhar was a place of burial, said Yael; it should be a place of life. The owner agreed, not to a lease but for now.

Tonight, in defiance of the United States, Yehudit and Yosef will sleep in Yitzhar. The settlement’s “natural growth” has grown by two.

“Elon Moreh,” said Elyorah, “was in the [biblical] territory of Joseph, who saved the economy of the world. Meanwhile, the American economy is in shambles. Obama should remember God’s promise to Abraham, ‘Those who bless you will be blessed, and those who curse you will be cursed.’ God runs the world, not Obama.”

A serious percentage of American Jews seem to be to be tiring of it all. According to an American Jewish Committee poll last year, the number of Jews feeling “very” or “fairly distant” from Israel has grown to 31 percent, nearly one-third of American Jews.

When the poll was released, sociologist Steven Cohen told the JTA news service that the AJC numbers reflected his sense that “the intermarried and children of the intermarried are dragging down the Jewish people’s commitment to Israel,” he said. “Commitment among the in-married is as high as it ever was, but we are moving to two populations.”

And yet, Rabbi Charles Sheer, in-married, Orthodox, describes himself as “somewhat on the left,” skeptical of the settlement movement. Nevertheless, he has a daughter and three grandsons on the West Bank — make that four, a new grandson, Nadav Yosef, was born in May. Efrat’s “natural growth” just grew by one.

In 2005, Rabbi Sheer, a New Yorker, had loving but passionate disagreements with his West Bank son-in-law, Avi Abelow, about the Gaza withdrawal. Abelow was the producer of “Home Game,” a highly acclaimed documentary, sympathetic to the settlers, about the last “annual” basketball tournament in Gaza’s Gush Katif; a tournament that ended with everyone losing their homes.

Looking back, Avi was right,” said Rabbi Sheer. “Israel gained nothing. Withdrawal turned out to be a total disaster.”

Rabbi Sheer says he still favors land for peace, but not land for “suicide.” Even “the most liberal left-winger has to see,” said Rabbi Sheer, “that after the withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza, you’d have to be meshuga, it’s committing suicide,” for Israel to weaken itself in return for nothing but a promise, an almost messianic belief in the reversal of Arab attitudes.

The rabbi, who contributed financially to Obama’s campaign, now has mailed a letter to the White House protesting the “heavy-handed” pressure that’s “putting the screws to Israel alone.”

Rabbi Sheer now thinks Obama’s policy borders on the “abusive. I’m both disappointed and frightened by it.”
Rabbi Sheer was for many years the Jewish chaplain at Columbia University. He's the one in this story I know personally. I won't tell you who the other person is - let's see if he surfaces in the comments.

There's a good chance Rabbi Sheer knew Barack Obama at Columbia. In the article from 1983 that mysteriously surfaced only last week, Obama mentions Earl Hall, which was the center of religious life (for all religions - all the chaplains had their offices there) at Columbia. Look at the first full paragraph in the right column:
When I first came here two years ago, Earl Hall had been a holding tank for five years. Paul Martin (director of Earl Hall) and I discussed our interests, and decided that ARA would be one of the programs we pushed.
Did Rabbi Sheer know and therefore trust Obama? I suspect the answer to that question is yes. But like so many others he apparently now regrets his vote.

I did promise you some more details on Hillel Lieberman.
My name is David Lieberman and I am a first cousin of the slain settler, Hillel Lieberman. My family has just completed the most difficult week of our lives. Last Shabbat, my father (Hillel's uncle) received a call from Israel which said Shabbat or no Shabbat you must pick up the phone. The caller explained that we must contact Hillel's wife, Yael Lieberman, immediately. We were told that Hillel had been missing for the past twelve hours and they needed assistance in reaching Hillel's parents and sisters. Calls were placed to anyone and everyone that could possibly help. Two hours after receiving the initial call a report came back that Hillel was found. A tremendous relief washed over us only to be dashed by finding out that it was false.

The first concrete signs of Hillel's murder came via the Internet. An unnamed Arab organization had claimed credit for the kidnapping and murder of Rabbi Hillel Lieberman. The Israeli army searched every where but initially to no avail. We were told that at 11pm Saturday night (5am Israel time) the army would begin to search anew with dogs. They went and came back but nothing was found. Early afternoon rumors were circulating that a body had been found in the area. Yom Kippur had just started in Israel and communication with the family and authorities was difficult. Approximately 5pm on Sunday in the States the body that was found was brought to the Lieberman home for identification by his wife, Yael. With a non-Jew on the phone with the US, the body of Hillel Lieberman was positively identified. He was badly beaten and shot eleven times.

The wail of despair that pierced through us was indescribable. The question I get asked the most is were we close. The answer is yes! Our family is small. The only first cousins I have are Hillel and his two sisters. Being of similar age I had the opportunity to attend high school and college together with Hillel. When I got married five of his children walked down at my wedding.

Hillel was a committed Jew. His sense of purpose was strongly tied into his religious observance, his family and his love for the land of Israel. For example, a few days before Hillel died, an Israeli border guard bled to death at Joseph's Tomb. The Palestinian Authority would not allow proper medical attention to be delivered to the guard. Hillel, along with several of his friends, went out in a bullet proof transport and paid a condolence call to the family of the guard. This was done when transportation through this part of the country was dangerous and risky. The part of the story that many people may not be aware of is that the guard was not Jewish but rather an Arab Druiz.
Read the whole thing.

Mazal Tov (congratulations) Yehudit. May your wedding be a binyan adei ad (a building forever) and we are looking forward to hearing of the birth of a child named Hillel in the not-too-distant future. We know that he will proudly bear his grandfather's name.


At 10:24 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

A child will bear a good man's name. Its how the Jewish people never die and the name of a martyr never disappears from Israel. The difference between Jews and Arabs on the subject is Jews believe life will eventually triumph over death and one day no one will ever mourn again. The Arabs on the other hand love death, believe it is the true reward and mourning is a source of happiness. There are two world views both opposed to the other. No culture in history that has viewed death as good has ever left the world a legacy. One can create a future or one can destroy it. That is the difference between Judaism and Islam and what will happen to the world in the future.

At 11:25 PM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...

Thanks for the hat tip, Carl.

'Rabbi Hillel Lieberman HY"D (may God avenge his blood - pictured) was murdered in the early days of the Oslo terror war in 2000.'

It must have been bitter sweet for the bride.

And you are right re the Jewish population here...it is indeed shrinking, and too many American Jews have Israel at the bottom of their list. For my generation (born in 1938)there is still a strong connection.

What I think of Hussein? [Deleted}.

'Obama should remember God’s promise to Abraham, ‘Those who bless you will be blessed, and those who curse you will be cursed.’ God runs the world, not Obama.”'

Ahh, but The One thinks that he is omnipotent. He has a very hard lesson to learn...sooner, I hope, than later.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Avi said...

Shalom Carl,

Thanks for posting the article. I had no idea you knew my father-in-law.

By the way I'm launching my Home Game movie for FREE during the 9 days on wejew.com. Would you like to host/embed the movie link on your blog for your readers?

In the meantime I would be honored if you embed the movie trailer and the video of me talking about why I made the film.



Kol Tuv,

At 5:54 PM, Blogger Esser Agaroth said...


1. Thank you for presenting this. To add, I will say that Hillel Lieberman's widow is a tzadeqeth, for various reasons. She was our girls' school teacher, until the school closed. She taught the girls, as the local gov't run schools were considered insufficient, and too imbued with undying state loyalty.

2. Avi is a great guy. I am surprised his father in law recanted. Avi is also behind WeJew.com, our alternative to YouTube. Check it out.

3. Why do you say "surely be surrendered?" Did you mean promised in an agreement? Then you would be correct. Just as Hillel's sister reminds us of who's really in control, I will remind all of us that "it ain't over till it's over."

The residents of Yitzhar are completely different from the mamlakhti majority which lived in Azza.

Yitzhar: The Israeli Government's Jewish Expulsion Laboratory

At 6:23 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


The first link worked (it will be up momentarily).

The second link did not work.

I knew your father-in-law when I was an undergrad at Columbia.

Ben Yehudah,

It's not I who took it as a foregone conclusion that the Jews of Yitzhar will be expelled. It's the Jewish Week, which wrote it in the article. And I believe that even they only meant that Yitzhar will be targeted for expulsion - something that unfortunately is undeniable for more reasons than just its location.

At 6:35 PM, Blogger Esser Agaroth said...

OK. That's what I figured.

At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


- "Elon Moreh and Yitzhar, where Hillel is buried, are two of the settlements that will surely be surrendered to the Palestinians."

- Elon Moreh is no "settlement". It is a village where Jews live.

- Yitzar is no "settlement" either. It is a village (and what a village!) where Jews live.

- They will not be surrended. If (or when) they are attacked, there will be a fight. Maybe what you call a (civil) war.

- What "Palestinians"? Palestinists at best.


At 6:43 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

"According to an American Jewish Committee poll last year, the number of Jews feeling “very” or “fairly distant” from Israel has grown to 31 percent, nearly one-third of American Jews."

Because of accusations of dual loyalty I would never a pollster that my vote in the US presidential elections was decided solely by how the candidates would treat Israel.

I guess I look distanced from Isreal.


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