City of Ariel

Posts Tagged ‘peace’

Message from the Mayor: Blessings for a Year of Unity

In Ariel City, Letters on September 6, 2010 at 5:28 pm

New Year’s Message from Mayor Ron Nachman

9/6/10

Blessings for a Year of Unity

As we near Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, we review and evaluate the events of the recent past in anticipation of a promising future. It’s my pleasure to share some of our recent achievements with you in this bulletin. As you will see, the City of Ariel has proven that we can achieve our goals in the face of formidable challenges, due to our tireless commitment and our guiding vision.

Unfortunately, this past year was characterized by a number of events which threaten to undermine the State of Israel and challenge our unity as a People. The unprecedented decision of Israel’s government to freeze construction in all of Judea and Samaria came as a shocking surprise. This never happened in the past, even in the worst of times. The government theorized that by imposing the freeze they would appease President Obama, who disregarded the natural and historic alliance between Israel and the U.S. by displaying antagonism towards Israel since he first took office. The building freeze theory was, as the many American and European manufactured policies that preceded it, a failure. Instead of bringing us closer to peace it merely served to strip 300,000 Jews the right to live normally.

Peace cannot be achieved through force. He who does not understand that will not understand why we have not yet achieved peace. We are now five years after the unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the destruction of Gush Katif by Ariel Sharon. Then, too, we were told that unilateral initiatives would bring peace. Instead we continue to suffer the tragedy of those who lost their homes, communities and livelihood in exchange for incessant rocket fire on Israel’s civilian population. As in the past, all theories of land for peace explode in our faces – we give land and we receive war.

This year, instead of a world which accepted Israel’s self imposed building freeze and attempts at appeasement, Israel was condemned with the infamous Goldstone Report. The report marks a new genre of anti-Israel politics. By embracing the Palestinian narrative and ignoring Israel’s basic right to self defense, the report serves as the foundation for delegitimizing Israel by portraying a racist country whose leaders are guilty of war crimes. These irresponsible claims are none other than anti-Semitism, plain as can be, hidden under the guise of anti-Zionism.

The Goldstone Report was followed by yet another media ploy known as the Gaza Flotilla. This time the active participation of foreign governments and the unscrupulous practices of “humanitarian organizations” were plain for all to see. Here too, the anti-Israel camp orchestrated a dangerous attack on Israel’s international reputation.

And yet, as we look towards the coming year, we must understand that our greatest challenge is internal and not external. When we consider all those who protest our existence as a sovereign state we need to band together for mutual support. As I’m sure you know, the Ariel Center for the Performing Arts has come under attack. A small group of performers declared that they would boycott us. Can you imagine – Israelis boycotting Israelis? What have we come to? Are the People of Ariel to be deprived of culture, the arts, dance and music? Should we be stripped of our humanity so that a handful of performers can use us as a stage for a political agenda?

Let’s be wiser this year. Let’s learn from our recent history. Let’s stand united in the face of those who seek to undermine Israel as a Jewish State and a democracy. Let’s focus on progress and continuity. Let’s declare that after 2,000 years of exile we’re going to stick together and stay where we are. We will not allow others to tear us apart. We will be confident in knowing that Israel is our G-d given land, home of our ancestors and the promise of our future. Next year those who choose to challenge us will be met by a unified people, who will sooner survive and succeed than crumble under adversity and pressure. Our objective is simple: unity, unity, unity.

May we be blessed with a year of health and happiness – together.

Sincerely,

Ron Nachman

Mayor of Ariel

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Israel’s Strength

In National on September 18, 2006 at 12:38 pm

Dear Friends, 

We have come to the end of a very difficult year, a year of drastic changes for Israel. As we welcome in the New Year, we cannot forget that this is the 6th anniversary of the start of Arafat’s strategy of terror that began on Rosh Hashana, 2000, following Camp David II. His strategy included suicide bombers, drive-by shootings, attacks on both soldiers and civilians – men, women and children. Collateral damage was actually the target because the terrorists believe this is how best to achieve their political goals. 

Our enemies have not succeeded. Israel and the Israeli people are still stronger than those who wish to destroy us. 

Only a little more than a year ago, Israel embarked on a disengagement plan, based on the assumption that by withdrawing from land that rightfully belongs to Israel and by turning that land over to the Palestinians, peace would come and Israel’s security would be enhanced.  Israel would be able to protect its citizens. To this end, Israel destroyed the beautiful communities of Gush Katif and turned the residents of those communities into refugees. 

Many Israelis feared that the very fabric of Israel society would come unraveled and that there was a threat of some kind of civil war. But it never happened for this is truly a strong nation. Instead, a deepening understanding grew that peace and security will never result from unilateral steps or from any form of the “land for peace” equation. This is against human nature and defies the very characteristics of a sovereign state– particularly here in the Middle East. 

Furthermore, we see in this most recent war in Lebanon that Israel can face its challenges united. The people of Israel truly became one as we faced the need to protect our Homeland from Hizbullah and Hamas terror. 

There is an important lesson to learn from this war. I am sure you remember when early elections were held in Israel in March 2006 and a new government was elected. The new Prime Minister and his government made their prime goal the establishment of permanent borders for Israel through “Realignment” of Israel’s borders in Judea and Samaria – in clearer terms, another withdrawal. One of the results of this last war is that it has become obvious to the leadership and people of Israel that this cannot be implemented. 

During the war, Israelis began to understand that the only reason Tel Aviv and the center of Israel was safe from Hizbullah’s missiles was that the hills of Samaria are in our control. If these critical strategic heights overlooking the coastal plain, were not in Israel’s hands Hizbullah or Hamas would be here in our place. This time, about one third of Israel’s population was evacuated or in shelters. If Arab terrorists were on these hills, instead of us, no one could safely land at Ben-Gurion and Tel Aviv would be a target. And then, millions of Israelis would be in grave danger. Clearly we cannot risk a “land for peace” withdrawal of this kind. If cities like Ariel were ever to be abandoned, it would be the end of Israel.

Today another kind of black cloud floats over our heads – the incessant scandals among Israel’s political leadership. In my view, this is more dangerous to Israel’s future than any military threat. We must change the system of government here to one that encompasses such values and ethics as accountability, a liberal free economic market devoid of red tape, open-mindedness to the changing world and the development of a new and credible cadre of leaders devoted to the Zionist concept. Israelis are a strong people and can bring about this change and survive the growing pains that will inevitably occur while the change happens. I believe in the Israeli people and in the need for this change in the system of government.  It will be part of Israel growing up and maturing. 

This particular New Year, after a year of so many hardships, may be a turning point for Israel. It’s up to us. As Herzel said “If we will it, it is no legend” but a possible reality for a better future in a better Israel. May this New Year bring to you and yours the fulfillment of your hopes and dreams and to all of us, a year of health, happiness, peace and security. May Israel and all the House of Israel have a blessed year and successfully meet the challenges that lie ahead. 

Shana Tova, 

Ron Nachman

Mayor of Ariel

Netzarim, Sharon and Elections

In Ariel City, National on September 11, 2005 at 12:04 pm

Dear Friends,

The Jewish New Year, a period of introspection and reckoning is upon us and I thought it would be most appropriate if I took the time to give each of you – friends of Ariel – an update on what’s happening here from a personal perspective.

1. As the unilateral disengagement became a harsh reality, the leadership of the College of Judea and Samaria opened their vacant dormitories to the people of Netzarim, victims of Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza. These dormitories -mobile homes that are not needed until classes resume in November – were once the temporary homes Ariel provided for Russian immigrants. When permanent homes became available for the new immigrants, I gave these mobile units to the College. Now some of them will be temporary refuge for the people of Netzarim.

The City of Ariel was delighted to receive these homeless families. When the buses arrived in Ariel, I studied the faces of those that disembarked – confused, hurting, exhausted. They held babies in their arms and came with almost nothing of their own.

Thousands of residents of Ariel waited to receive these modern heroes, singing songs and clearly displaying their love and respect for these wonderful people. The residents of Netzarim are people of faith. They believed right to the last second that this terrible evacuation would not take place and so they did not prepare for the move. Ariel residents welcomed them – 77 families with over 350 children under the age of 15 – with refreshments, diapers, formula, linens, towels, washers and driers, housewares, anything that would ease their acclimation to this new environment.

The people who lived in Netzarim are a special breed, devoted Zionists, spiritual, united, educated, determined to continue to contribute to the Jewish homeland. We are hoping that they will decide to stay in Ariel. At the beginning of September, I met with them to discuss their future here. They have a number of cities courting them and many options to consider, including building a new city in the Negev and starting a new neighborhood on a new hilltop in Ariel.

We expect the people of Netzarim to make their decision shortly after the High Holidays. Even if they decide to rebuild their lives in Ariel, it is still a long process. It could take up to 6 months for the government to set up a temporary neighborhood for them and then, they would have to live there for 2-3 years until a permanent neighborhood could be planned and built. We have taken them to the area we suggest, in Ariel West.  There, we have the necessary approvals to build and to create the kind of neighborhood that would meet their needs.

Whatever their decision, we want to help them in rebuild their homes and families, overcome the terrible trauma they have endured and triumph over the tragedy that befell them.

One thing is certain. These incredible people have won the respect and admiration of all of Israel. They kept their faith and never wavered in their belief. In the end, they abided by the law of the land and left their homes quietly, respectfully, with no violence. And their spirit has not been broken. They still seek to fulfill the Zionist challenge and strengthen our homeland.

I would be proud to call them residents of Ariel.

2. The building of the security fence around Ariel and the Ariel bloc of communities continues. During his recent visit to Ariel, Prime Minister Sharon stressed his policy that the Ariel Bloc would ever remain an integral part of Israel and that no further disengagement would take place. Moreover, he promised to strengthen the large and developed areas of settlement – like Ariel. He has already seen to the approval of building permits for thousands of housing units in Ariel and I am hoping he will strengthen our area in many other ways, as well.

3. The new Sports & Recreation Complex is progressing nicely. We have already invested over $3 million in tennis courts, a fitness center and this main building that will house an indoor pool, activity rooms of all kinds, sports facilities and so much more. We still need some $2 million to complete the project and open this vital service to the people of Ariel in 2006. If you can help us complete this project, I would be so grateful. The people of Ariel deserve your support.

4. Israel is preparing for new elections. The photos and reports of the withdrawal that were in the Israel media 24/7 this summer shook up the Israeli public and the political system. I believe we’ll see national elections earlier than planned. The choices we make now may very well shape the future of Israel.

As always, here in the Land of Israel, we are facing interesting times. Let us hope that the New Year will bring to all of Israel and to you and your families the blessings of peace, good health, prosperity and joy.

Sincerely,

Ron Nachman

Mayor of Ariel

The Occupied Territories

In Ariel City, Letters, National on September 18, 1997 at 11:24 am

Dear Friends,

In the wake of the New Year, I want to share some thoughts with you regarding my vision for Israel’s future and the challenges we will continue to face in the cominOccupied Territoriesg year.

Since 1967, news coverage of events in Judea and Samaria, both in Israel and abroad, have been inherently biased. A prime example is the use of the term “Occupied Territories” to refer to Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

From 1949 until 1967, the Gaza strip was occupied by Egypt, while Jordan annexed Judea and Samaria, referring to the area as the West Bank of Jordan. Although nearly every nation refuses to recognize this one-sided act, journalists never referred to the area as the Jordanian Occupied West Bank.

In June of 1967, Israel was attacked by her Arab neighbors. In a defensive move, Israel liberated the territories which for thousands of years had been central to Eretz Israel, the very source of the term Judaism – the area of Judea and Samaria. Suddenly, journalists began referring to these areas as occupied territories, a classic case of the double standard that journalists and politicians find so convenient when applied to Israel.

In contrast to the harsh occupation by Jordan, the administration of the area by Israel brought running water and electricity to Arab towns and villages, supported the creation of five universities for Arabs and guaranteed basic human rights to all residents of the area. The use of the word occupation with regard to Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is a cynical manipulation of international law. Israel acquired these areas in a defensive war, holding on to the territories in order to prevent recurrent attacks from these areas against Israeli civilians. It is our legitimate right to hold on to this territory. The press and the international community have used the word “occupied territory” to deprive Israel of her most basic legitimate rights.

The media continues to characterize Israel as the wrong-doer, by calling settlements “obstacles to peace.” This too, has been used repeatedly to demonstrate Israel’s aggressiveness. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

From 1948 to 1967, when Judea, Samaria and Gaza were occupied by Jordan and Egypt, there were no “settlements’ and Jews were prohibited from even visiting these areas. Yet, our Arab neighbors refused to live in peace with us. If settlements are such an obstacle to peace, when there are no settlements, there should be peace. However, that has never been the case.

In fact, the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country – Egypt – was only signed in 1977, after the first Jewish communities were created in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Today, with 144 Jewish communities spread throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza, Israel has signed two peace treaties and is negotiating a third with our Arab neighbors. Clearly, the settlements are not obstacles to peace. If anything, they are catalysts for peace.

My friends, this proves only one thing: Oil talks. Its influence reaches as far ad the Unites States in the West and Japan in the East.

I once met a fellow in Germany and we started talking about Israel and the Middle East politics. At one point, his tongue loosened from imbibing alcohol, the fellow commented: ”Ron, I don’t care about Israel or about the Jews. I only care about oil to heat our homes in the winter.”

The world is hypocritical, applying one standard for Israel, and another for everyone else. Jordan and Egypt were cruel occupiers of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The Palestinian Authority today is no less cruel, depriving their own people of basic human rights. But the world says nothing. When Israel liberates her own homeland, careful to protect basic human rights of the Palestinian Arabs, we are the occupiers.

Israel has already given up 30% of its territory with full autonomy for Palestinian Arabs. No Arab nation has ever given the Palestinian Arabs nearly as much. And yet, Israel is constantly criticized for not having done enough.

The current government of Israel has no choice but to adopt the Oslo Accords which had been signed by the previous government. However, it insists of modifying the Accords for they threaten the very existence of Israel.

A true and lasting peace is a peace with security. And Israel can only guarantee her security where there is an Israeli presence. The people of Judea and Samaria are the true guarantors of peace for Israel for they are present in the area – just as the U.S. maintains NATO forces around the world to defend itself. Moreover, Judea and Samaria are located just 15 miles from Israel’s population centers, while NATO forces serve thousands of miles away from the U.S.

Ariel and the communities of Judea and Samaria are vital to the security of the State of Israel. By strengthening Ariel, the Capital of Samaria, you contribute directly to the continued stability of Israel. Only a strong Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria will force the Palestinian Arabs to seek peaceful co-existence with us. As Ariel continues to grow and develop, the chances for a real and secure peace in the area become stronger.

Sincerely,

Ron Nachman

Mayor of Ariel

In the Wake of the Persian Gulf War

In International, Letters, National on April 16, 1991 at 11:18 am

Dear Friends, 

The war is over. The mastery of the Coalition forces has resulted in a permanent ceasefire. We cannot, however, measure the extent of the victory, not as long as Saddam Hussein is still in power. We must keep in mind that this is the Middle East. Many Arabs refuse to accept that Iraq has been defeated because Saddam Hussein still leads his country. Had the Americans marched into Baghdad, pulled the cruel Iraqi dictator from his bunker and arrested him for committing heinous war crimes, there would be no doubts about the American victory or about what actions are acceptable, even in war. 

Iraq waged war against the civilian population of Israel, launching missiles against women and children with no regards to age or infirmity. As each attack rocked the country, Israelis entered their sealed rooms. The isolation was terrifying: waiting in sealed rooms for the missiles to hit, as fears of chemical warfare grew – a clear reminder to Israel that poison gas had been used before in an attempt to eradicate the Jewish people. 

Israel has been commended by the world community for not retaliating against Iraq’s vicious attacks, but it is not just the government who has behaved with admirable restraint. The people of Israel were the true heroes of the war. After the first few Scud attacks, I watched the young men and women of my city return to routine, despite the stress of sleepless nights in sealed rooms. I saw the children of Ariel after a night of screaming sirens and broken dreams, walking resolutely into their schools, gas masks in hand. I watched our teenagers come forward to help, eager to do their part in any way the could. I saw the people of my city open their homes and hearts to relatives from Tel Aviv, many of whom would not even visit Ariel during the three years of Intifada. I have watched and felt a new love for these brave young families and a new pride in being their mayor. 

We have regained the respect and affection of the free world during this war, and we are indeed worthy of this solidarity and support. Still, I have no doubt that when the war ends, President Bush will remind us in no uncertain terms that it was U.S. soldiers and weapons that fought Iraq, Coalition forces funded by Coalition governments the defeated Saddam Hussein, eliminating the Iraqi threat. And then he will present us with the bill – an itemized list of concessions we are expected to make. That is when Israel will begin to truly fight for survival, to stop our friends and allies from gouging pieces of our flesh in the name of peace. I wonder if we will still be everyone’s darling then. 

In the last issue of “Shalom Ariel” I stressed three main points. The first was about territory and its importance in times of war, even in this age of missiles. I said then that a ground war would be the decisive factor in the war. In the end, foot soldiers and tanks overrun a country or serve to defend it. This has indeed been the case, for it was the ground offensive that brought about the Iraqi surrender. For five weeks, Allied bombers pounded Baghdad. The United States, England, Saudi Arabia, France… all the great powers did their utmost, but in the end, territory dictated the outcome of the war. Yet there are those who suggest we give away our “territories”. Are we seriously expected to relinquish our little margin of national security?  

In the six weeks of the war, Israel was attacked by 39 scud missiles. Those that hit their mark left devastation in their wake. But what if Israel had given in to world pressure to cede territory? Can you imagine Iraqi soldiers marching through Jordan to join their Palestinian brothers and move against Israel’s eastern border? Add the dangerous potential of such conventional weapons as artillery and tanks, to the destructive capability of missiles, and it becomes clear that Israel would be facing a dangerous and cruel Arab alliance, bent on eradicating the Jewish Homeland. 

I also emphasized how long it took for American to deploy troops in the desert after the invasion of Kuwait. Moreover, seven months elapsed from the Iraqi invasion to the liberation of Kuwait. What if it had been Israel depending upon the world community in time of war? Here on a strip of land only 50 miles wide, we could not wait all that time. The price would be too steep. We could be risking a second Holocaust – this time in the Jewish Homeland.

My third point was that finally, the world saw the true face of the PLO and the Palestinian Arabs. Until the Gulf War, American policy-makers regarded them as moderates, suggesting they would be amenable partners for peace negotiations. The war exposed the truth – that Arafat, the PLO and all their adherents in Judea, Samaria and Gaza sided fully with Saddam Hussein. They are the real enemies of the United States, the enemies of peace. 

The true character of King Hussein of Jordan was also exposed when he allied himself with Iraq and took a firm stand against the U.S. and the western world. Today, he gives lame excuses and makes frail attempts to explain his difficult position, but the world will not be fooled. We can draw our own conclusions, looking to the future, but keeping the lessons of the past in focus. 

Israel proved once again to be the only true Middle Eastern ally of the United States. As such, it is Israel’s security that must be of first and foremost concern. To this end, Israel will continue to seek bridges to peace – a real peace – with sovereign Arab States. Once we have peace agreements with Arab States, then – and only then – can we begin to concern ourselves with the rights and needs of other people. 

Sincerely,

Ron Nachman

Mayor of Ariel