May 30, 2013
Sholom Ber Crombie in #881, Crossroads, shleimus ha'Aretz

The serious damage inflicted upon Israel’s anti-terror operations is a direct result of the submissiveness demonstrated by these PR mavens. Their approach is based on feebleness and apologetics, instead of national pride.

Translated by Michoel Leib Dobry

Last week, the newspaper headlines in Eretz Yisroel and the world at-large dealt with the findings of the investigative commission into the incident surrounding the ‘Palestinian’ boy, Muhammad al-Durrah. The story was publicized throughout the international media in recent years, after a French television crew filmed him hiding together with his father at Netzarim Junction during a skirmish that took place at the time of the second intifada. The film shows al-Durrah and his father crouching behind a concrete wall with the sound of gunfire in the background. Suddenly, the camera goes out of focus, and shortly thereafter, the boy appears lying on the dirt near his father.

In the twelve and a half years since the incident, no one has cast any doubts upon the film’s veracity: The evidence seems to prove that the boy was shot and killed from bullets fired by soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces. Only one person, Dr. Yehuda David, decided to fight for the truth in this story to the very end. Dr. David is an army physician, and he operated on the boy’s father, who was wounded in the clash. He discovered that the father was a pathological liar, and he set out to determine whether the boy had really been struck by IDF gunfire. He brought his case before the French judicial system, and his efforts proved successful when the court ruled that there was no proof that the boy had been killed by our soldiers. The only recorded documentation of the event was a French media film, which did not show a single bullet wounding the boy or his father. After the film shows the two seeking cover, two fingers are suddenly placed over the lens. And then, suddenly, the boy appears sprawled on the ground.

Of course, none of this seemed to bother the world at-large. To this day, they use the film as a means of conducting anti-Semitic propaganda against IDF soldiers. Foreign television networks failed to ask the right questions. They didn’t take a good look at the film, they didn’t try to find shell casings or bullet fragments, and they didn’t conduct a real investigation into who had wounded the boy. Instead, they simply accepted as an established fact that the boy was killed by IDF gunfire, and they conveniently used the still photo of the boy lying on the ground to prove their point. Since he was lying on the ground, he was apparently dead, and if he was dead, the IDF was apparently responsible for his death…

During the intervening time, numerous puzzling facts have come to light, further shrouding the al-Murrah incident in controversy. For example, there is the fact that during the filming of the clash, you can see a camera tripod standing near the boy and the father. There’s also the suspicious fact that at the very moment when the two were supposedly fired upon, someone’s hand obscured the view of the French cameraman.

Last week, the truth was finally revealed, when the official investigative commission determined that the Arab boy had not been shot during the incident - not by IDF gunfire or by anyone else. If you look carefully at the film, you can see clearly that when the boy is lying near his father, he is very much alive.


Dr. Yehuda David spoke last week about the years he struggled to expose the truth in this affair. However, his sense of satisfaction is mingled with some sadness. During the past dozen years, people have used this story against us throughout the world, causing immeasurable international harm to the Jewish homeland. We now realize that if someone had been a bit more perceptive a few years ago and had asked the proper questions, the integrity of IDF soldiers could have been preserved before the world community.

Dr. David’s concerns express the tragic reality of the situation on a genuinely wide scale. Israeli government officials in charge of bolstering the country’s image internationally are the ones who are responsible for the establishment of any unfounded charges against the IDF as irrefutable fact.

The serious damage inflicted upon Israel’s anti-terror operations is a direct result of the submissiveness demonstrated by these PR mavens. Their approach is based on feebleness and apologetics, instead of national pride. While they have been entrusted with the task of improving Eretz Yisroel’s international image, they insist on trying to achieve this objective by self-righteously apologizing for our successes on the battlefield.

The Muhammad al-Durrah incident, symbolizing as it does the battle for world opinion, represents a test case, and the country’s policymakers in the international arena would be well advised to consider its implications. It is simply impossible to wage a public relations war without being certain of the justness of our cause, and without the clear knowledge that we have the most ethical army in the world. Moreover, it is impossible to fight for greater national awareness without fully understanding that we are facing an enemy and we must treat them as such, not as we would relate to a comrade in arms. As long as these diplomatic geniuses continue to talk about “understanding the Palestinians” and “recognizing their rights,” there will be more and more al-Durrahs on the horizon. As a result, the Israel Defense Forces will continually be accused of human right violations, while those responsible for defending the army will automatically react with the assumption that our soldiers are at fault and the other side is being oppressed and persecuted.

It would be appropriate to remind these bureaucrats of what the Rebbe said more than twenty years ago to Israel’s then-ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu. The Rebbe explained to him that the UN is a house of darkness, and in order to dispel and vanquish it, one merely has to light a single candle. The lighting of this candle is done out of a sense of complete faith that our path is right and just – faith in G-d’s Divine bequest of the Land of Israel to our forefathers, with the understanding that we are here by right, not through the kindnesses of mortal men. This is our home by the strength of Divine mandate, not a decision by the members of the United Nations General Assembly.

In order to convince the world, government officials in Eretz Yisroel first have to convince themselves. They must firmly believe that this is our land, bestowed upon us as an eternal gift from Alm-ghty G-d, as promised in the Bible. Only after these people demonstrate this basic acceptance of our right to be here can they proceed to wage a true and unapologetic battle of national awareness, rejecting the premise that our side is always the aggressor and the other side is always right.

If the people in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would have a healthier grasp of the true reality, they would have asked the questions that should have been asked nine years ago. The problem is that they accepted the conclusion that this Arab boy had been shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers as an incontrovertible fact. This assumption suits their world outlook quite well, and they didn’t even consider the possibility of another interpretation, i.e., the other side in this conflict fabricated this whole incident, as it did many others, in order to make falsely libelous accusations upon those responsible for protecting their fellow citizens against a cruel and bloodthirsty enemy.


I received dozens of messages last week in response to my recent interview with the new deputy minister for religious affairs, R’ Eliyahu Ben-Dahan. Many people were puzzled: Had we decided to give a stamp of approval to the Bayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home) Party, which has now raised the banner of open hostilities against the world of Torah? How can the Beis Moshiach Magazine, of all publications, provide a public forum for a representative of this party, which has made a firm political alliance with Yair Lapid and his cohorts in Yesh Atid – a party dedicated to “educating” the ultra-Orthodox and forcibly conscripting them into the army?

The truth is that I pondered these same questions before deciding to conduct this interview, and it wasn’t an easy decision for me to make, despite the rabbi’s reputation as a man of impeccable character. However, whatever hesitancy I felt was no different than before any other interview with a prominent political figure. Virtually none of these politicians acts fully in accordance with the Rebbe’s instructions. Yet, we choose to interview these people in order to support them in those activities which are in adherence to the path of Torah. Just as we sought to strengthen Rabbi Meir Porush and his initiatives in the Knesset to protect the People and the Torah of Israel, similarly, we give support to Rabbi Ben-Dahan on the issue of shleimus ha’aretz and his effort to form a relatively sympathetic position within his party towards the Torah world, despite its leaders’ current political struggle against the ultra-Orthodox sectors.

Since Chabad Chassidim are not associated with any official political organizations, we do not boycott people according to their party affiliations or the headlines in ultra-Orthodox and right-wing publications. We all earnestly hope that Rabbi Ben-Dahan will stand behind his public statements, taking proper action to reinforce the system of providing authorized halachic conversions in Eretz Yisroel and standing in the breach against further persecution of Torah observant communities.

However, there were still two questions that remained unanswered after my interview with Rabbi Ben-Dahan:

When the deputy religious affairs minister promises that “yeshivos will not be closed,” how is that consistent with his remarks regarding “quotas on full-time Torah students,” i.e., permitting only about two thousand students per year to learn in yeshiva full-time? How exactly does he expect these institutions to remain open if only two thousand bachurim can remain in the beis midrash, while all the others are drafted into the army?

Rabbi Ben-Dahan promised to preserve the halachic stringencies in granting conversions, while at the same time, he also spoke about the importance of “shortening the amount of time required for converts to study.” How exactly does that protect the system of conversions, if anyone who wants to become a part of the Jewish People can do so by arranging for a “quickie conversion” within two months?



Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (
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