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Thursday
Jan302014

THERE IS NO PARTITION FENCE

Beis Moshiach spoke with people on the front lines of the battle against intermarriage in Eretz Yisroel and came back with a very disturbing report as well as solutions to the problem. Part 2

WOEFUL ABSURDITY IN “THE LAND OF THE JEWS”

The Magician is not generally involved in extrications such as these but in extricating the Arab out of the Jewish woman’s head:

“We have a serious problem with the authorities,” he says sadly. “As far as the Welfare Ministry is concerned, if I go to a village and take out a Jewish woman, even if she wanted me to, it is called kidnapping. If she is legally married, a social worker shows up and tries to get her to return home. That is how absurd it is in our country. The government pays an Arab social worker of the village to go to the shelter or temporary home of the woman and tries to get her to return to her husband. In most cases, the social worker says the mother is not normal and tries to force her back to the village to be treated. They consider what we do as kidnapping and we can often face prosecution.

“There is a certain village in the Galil in which, since the establishment of the State, there have been relationships between men in the village and Jewish girls in the area. The situation today is such that there are 3000 Jewish girls in that village, some of whom are grandmothers. 

“I once met a Jew who lived as an Arab all his life in this village. He told me that he will never forgive Boruch Marzel. He told me that when they were eight kids at home, Marzel came with a van and begged his mother to escape. She refused because she was afraid, but afterward she said a number of times that if he came again she would go with him. But he didn’t come. He tried getting girls out of villages even back then, but it takes a lot of faith to go back to a house where the mother refused to leave.

“Another Jew who lived as an Arab recently told me that he went to the Diaspora Museum and researched his family’s history. His family came from Baghdad and was a family of rabbanim. His family today numbers about 300 people, some of whom live today as Jews, and who are all descendants of a grandmother who married an Arab in the early years of the State.”

An incident recently occurred in a school in Yerushalayim in which one of the teachers started becoming interested in Judaism. When she began showing up at school dressed modestly, the staff realized she was becoming a baalas t’shuva. The janitor of the school, who lived all his life in the Moslem quarter of the Old City in Yerushalayim, told her that his mother is Jewish. He wanted to research his Jewish roots and he even put on t’fillin one time. Unfortunately, in the midst of this, his mother died and he was unable to renew his connection to Judaism together with her.

THE SHLUCHIM
ON THE FRONT LINES

As this article was being prepared, it was clear to all the people we spoke to that there is only one way to stop the epidemic: to speak loudly and openly about the special qualities of the Jewish people and to bequeath the eternal values of Judaism. It is only through spreading Judaism with love that we can stop assimilation and put organizations like Lehava and Yad L’Achim out of business.

R’ Meir Hertzel, a shliach in Pisgat Zeev in Yerushalayim, works tirelessly in this field. He is a model of the type of activism needed to prevent assimilation in a neighborhood which has experienced numerous instances of intermarriage with Arabs in nearby villages. The Arab villages of Beit Chanina and Shuafat are close by and Arab men come and hang out in the Jewish neighborhood. Along with organizations that tried in various ways to raise awareness about the situation in the neighborhood, R’ Hertzel decided to take some preventive measures that would bring the light of Judaism to every Jewish boy and girl.

In a conversation with Beis Moshiach, R’ Hertzel said:

“There were a number of situations that came to our door as a result of which we decided to hold a meeting of all those who could do something. The woman who was then the director of the neighborhood council wanted very much to strengthen ties between us and the council because she saw that our work was having positive results.

“During the meeting there were a few people who brought up the problem of assimilation of girls from Pisgat Zeev. I told them that the best thing to do is to work to promote Judaism in order to save these girls. I told them that we, as a Chabad house, have the necessary knowhow to deal with this problem and our approach is ‘a little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness.’ I said that they could use force and even enlist the police to chase away the Arabs, but this has limited efficacy and it isn’t really possible to abolish the phenomenon entirely. But when you instill Judaism and start educating according to Jewish values, it is far more effective.

“When I left the meeting, one of the parents who had attended the meeting was waiting for me outside. His daughter had left home and converted to Islam in order to marry an Arab, a resident of a nearby village. He told me about how this had devastated his family and that they had sat Shiva and torn kria. He said that although his daughter was a lost cause, at least they could try and save other girls in the neighborhood. He encouraged me in my approach and agreed that the only way to save them is through Jewish education.

“He pleaded with me to start immediately and said this was about saving lives, ‘so no other families end up as ours did.’”

EXCLUSIVE YOUTH GROUP 

Since that meeting, R’ Hertzel has started a special program for boys and girls (separately) that operates as an exclusive youth group with activities, programs and shiurim. The activities are interesting and many kids have gotten involved.

“We constantly work on variegating the activities; we arrange trips to the holy sites in the north, take them to visit Kfar Chabad, and go to the Kosel.”

The best Lubavitcher lecturers are called upon to address the youth. They tell their personal stories and run quality content filled programs.

“Our idea is that the more we consolidate the youth around the Chabad house, the more likely they are to become mashpiim and create a positive environment in our neighborhood. We invest a lot into these programs. We take them to restaurants and organize social evenings for them, the main thing being to provide them with a warm place and a genuine bond with Judaism. The group includes many youth from a number of schools so that it makes waves and has a positive influence on all the schools in the neighborhood.”

As for results, R’ Hertzel says:

“We constantly see positive results. For example, two years ago there was an incident with one of the girls in the group who committed to fasting on Tisha B’Av. This was despite it being very difficult for her because of her family. On the day of the fast, they made a supper she really likes and they pressured her to sit down and eat with them. She stuck to her guns and locked herself in her room. At the end of the fast, she called my wife and told her that she felt she won the battle. That was a very moving demonstration that the chinuch the girls receive in the group produces real results. Her family mocked her but she did what she did because of what she learned in the group.”

GETTING PARENTS INVOLVED

“There was a situation with twin sisters who were afraid of their mother who forbade them to attend the group. For an entire year they would attend the classes surreptitiously and hid this from their mother. At the end of the year their mother told them that she had followed them and knew they were going to the Chabad house and now that she sees the positive influence that participating in the group has had on them, she was happy they went and even wanted to help them. She called us and offered her help. Since she holds a senior position in the Finance Ministry, she was able to get us into all the schools to do holiday programs. This was at her personal initiative because she was so impressed by the chinuch that her daughters got at the Chabad house.

“We also had a case in which the father of one of the girls went to my wife, at home, on a Motzaei Shabbos and yelled at her. He said he does not understand what she did to his daughter since she had committed to keeping Shabbos, and since then refused to go to the beach with the family on Shabbos.

“Boruch Hashem, in the three years since we began working with the kids we have seen a lot of positive results. This is clearly the best response to the phenomenon of assimilation in our neighborhood. We constantly stress to them that they are becoming leaders and they need to influence all their friends. Today, the situation is such that the girls themselves look out for their friends and if someone sees a friend becoming friendly with an Arab, they immediately report it and try to get her to drop him. They feel that they have a mission to influence the youth in the entire neighborhood.

“As a result of this outreach, the parents have also gotten very involved by arranging shiurim for women and other chinuch projects.

“In Pisgat Zeev there are 50,000 people, quite a large neighborhood. So the possibility of preventing Arabs from coming here or of enforcing a ban on girls meeting with them is next to nil. But by spreading the light of Judaism, we are mekarev the kids which expels the darkness.”

AN EPIDEMIC WHICH AFFECTS EVERYONE

All the activists we spoke to repeated the same line: Today it is an epidemic that affects everyone. There is no immunity. Just this week, Lehava achieved another victory when it was decided that those doing their National Service will not have to work night shifts. This is because of the plague of assimilation between girls doing their National Service and Arab doctors and nurses.

The tension created in recent years on this topic of National Service and night shifts demonstrates the extent of the tragedy. These are girls who are coming from religious homes but they sometimes find it hard to withstand the emotional pull when a nurse or a doctor pursues them. The Magician dispels the notion that these are girls from families in distress:

“There are girls who did not receive enough warmth and love at home even though they grew up in normative homes. They are so thirsty for a bit of attention that they are easily ‘bought.’ Other times this is not even the situation. Rather, the closeness engendered by working with someone for hours, especially on the night shift, leads to a friendship that gets out of control.”

Bentzi Goffstein adds that today people are not careful enough about the prohibition of eating with non-Jews:

“People are very particular about a kashrus certificate and that the food be mehadrin. But it is also necessary to be particular about who is preparing the food. It is not right that in restaurants catering to a religious clientele, that Arabs work in the kitchen alongside Jewish girls where they are a seductive influence on those girls. It is not for naught that Chazal forbade eating and drinking with non-Jews since there is a prohibition against becoming close with them for precisely this reason.”

Another person who works tirelessly against assimilation is former Knesset member, Dr. Michoel Ben Ari. He has accrued some successes in this area but he is far from satisfied. When asked how he explains the phenomenon of assimilation he says:

“The real reason for the problem is the blurring of Jewish identity. We cannot escape talking about the uniqueness of the Jewish people. The problem is that we feel that in Eretz Yisroel there is immunity against assimilation. Actually, the situation is catastrophic.

“The problem with the Arabs is growing worse. They are filling our universities and taking over cities like Beer Sheva, Haifa, Chadera and Tzfas. This is a generation of intelligent students who are able to seduce girls from problem families or even girls from fine families but who did not receive enough of a Jewish chinuch. A girl who did not receive chinuch about her roots as a Jew can easily be seduced by an Israeli-Arab who pursues her and shows her that he gives her far more respect than a Jew gives her.

“There was recently a story about an Arab preschool teacher in a Jewish preschool. The parents wanted her removed because of her Arab accent and since her culture was not in the spirit of the preschool. I wrote about this, saying that the reason is neither culture not accent but that Jewish values are being trampled. What will that teacher teach the children? About Ramadan or Pesach? The root of the disease here is the idea of ‘being a nation like all nations’ which, in effect, is a war against the uniqueness of the Jewish people. In the name of democracy and waging war against racism they confuse Jewish identity. This is the source of the problem.

“We need to speak up and say that Hashem chose us from all the nations. Sadly, in Jewish schools in this country it is forbidden to speak about the specialness of the Jewish people. If someone cries out against assimilation, they scream that he is a racist.

“When I was in the Knesset, the person chosen as the chairman of the Education committee was someone married to a German gentile! She was the one responsible for the chinuch in Jewish schools! When I spoke up about this they all yelled that I am racist. One of the missed opportunities that I carry with me from the period when I was a Knesset member is that I failed to make enough of a commotion against that intermarried Knesset member.

“She wasn’t the daughter of a minority group who ran away to a village to get some attention. She was a respected Knesset member who married a German gentile and lived with him in Eretz Yisroel and all the ‘enlightened’ chevra accepted this as a matter of course.

“When I served in the Knesset, I was present when Arab Knesset member Taleb El-Sana spoke and said, ‘We are the Jebusite nation.’ Based on this assertion he wanted to claim that his connection to Eretz Yisroel goes back thousands of years just like Jewish history. When I got up to speak after him, I asked him whether he could tell me about any Jebusite customs he observed at home. Any Jebusite food? Could he tell me a word in the Jebusite language? Of course not! He remained silent. 

“When I was asked afterward about this speech I said that my problem is not with Taleb El-Sana who was unaware of the roots of the Jebusite people, but with half of the Jewish Knesset members in the General Assembly who had no idea who the Jebusites were. This is because they are unaware of the roots of their own people and they do not know the history of their own land. The Jebusites are connected with the history of the Jewish people.

“Just recently, the Minister of Education, Shai Piron said he wants to add 500 Arab teachers to teach in Jewish schools. What values will these hundreds of Arab teachers convey – marking Nakba Day? Marking the Islamic heritage? Why not bring in hundreds of teachers who will teach about the fathers of our nation and Jewish history? Why not invest in learning moral values from Chazal in Pirkei Avos?”

EACH ONE SAYS, “MY ARAB BOYFRIEND WON’T HIT ME”

One of the cases that was branded into the national consciousness is when Knesset member Ben Ari raised a hue and cry about a sixteen year old girl who was kidnapped by an Arab citizen in Lud. After a period in which they were friends, he went to her house and took her from there and she disappeared. Her parents tried to locate her but were unsuccessful. They turned to Ben Ari who got the police involved. One night he got a phone call from the police station in Ramallah where they had brought the girl. 

“In this case, the police went above and beyond 100%,” he said praising them. “In the end, they located her in the luggage compartment of a vehicle at the checkpoint near Tul Karem. They brought her to the police station and immediately called me. When I got there, I saw a Jewish girl wearing a headscarf who refused to speak to the police in Hebrew. She demanded an interpreter because she only wanted to talk in Arabic!

“Even when they wanted to send her to a place for girls in distress she refused go to one with Jewish girls and said she wanted to go to a place in an Arab village that works with Arab girls. What a pity on this girl! The problem was not in locating the girl but in educating her to the uniqueness of the Jewish people. When there is no Jewish education, threats won’t help.”

“We don’t tell the girls that the Arab will hit them,” says Bentzi Goffstein, “because each one says her Arab won’t hurt her. And there are girls who say that they get hit at home by their father so they prefer to be hit by their husband. Talking about the scary Arab from the village doesn’t work with these girls, especially when in many cases these are girls who have not had easy lives and over there they have some quiet. Our only message can be that they are part of the Jewish people and we explain to them what this means. You can’t avoid it. We explain what it means to be a real daughter of the King, and oftentimes this is something they have never heard before.”

Goffstein also has stories about successes in rescuing girls. The common denominator in all the stories is being successful in explaining what the Jewish people are about.

“If someone sees a Jewish girl walking around with an Arab, he calls our hotline. All that’s needed is her name and preferably, as many details as possible. For example, it is easy to get her phone number. You simply ask the girl to use her phone with the excuse that you forgot your own. Then you dial from her phone to your phone and you save the number. Today there are many ways to reach a girl, to find out information about her through social media and to build a profile of her and understand how to speak to her.

“I would like to warmly thank R’ Yaakov Lenchner who operates our hotline where we are constantly getting requests to intervene. We try not to give up on any Jewish girl. We recently had a case with a Jewish girl that we saved from an Arab village. We supported her for an entire year but at the end of that period she went back to the Arab with her children. We did not know what to do since in this case we really tried everything and invested tremendous energy and money.

“I spoke with R’ Dov Lior and he said that since she acted of her own free will this was her decision and there was nothing we could do. There was someone present during this discussion who had grown up in a family like this and his father is an Arab. He said to R’ Lior that although she made a choice, her children did not choose and they are not at fault. They deserve to live as Jews. As a result of this, we decided to get involved in this case again and today, all her children are learning in Chabad schools.”

 

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