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Unfolding Before Our Eyes
By Shai Gefen

Yaakov Novik has been working feverishly for the mass demonstration opposing the division of Yerushalayim * We have asked everyone to participate in the demonstration (May 15)* The ultra-Orthodox will be most affected by Barakís plan to divide Yerushalayim because Orient House is only 200 meters away from the shtiblech of the neighborhood of Beis Yisroel * The interview was given before the protest took place this past Monday


ďFor the enemy and foe has come to the gates of YerushalayimĒ are the words of Lamentations, and these words are unfortunately being fulfilled today. Prime Minister Ehud Barak is preparing to give terrorists the villages around Yerushalayim, which are just meters away from the Temple Mount.

As this column is being written, Israeli representatives are sitting with Palestinians in Eilat in order to formulate the text that will make it easiest to give terrorists the villages of Abu Dis and Ezriya, referred to by the Palestinians as an ďadvance.Ē Palestinian representatives at the negotiating table said they were unwilling to continue talks with Israel until Israel gives them those villages.

Protest groups from the Right, which were nearly silent up until now, have gone to battle in an uncompromising stance in order to save Yerushalayim and to prevent the destruction of the settlements.

Preparations are being completed for the mass demonstration under the banner ďDai LíNesigos ChinamĒ (Enough With Withdrawals For Nothing In Return), in the course of which demonstrators will demand of Barak: ďCease withdrawals for nothing. Do not divide Yerushalayim, and do not surround it with the Palestinian ring of strangulation.Ē

The demonstration will take place in Zion Square in Yerushalayim. Tens of thousands of people are expected to appear and to protest Barak handing over land surrounding Yerushalayim to enemies, endangering the lives of the people of Yerushalayim who would now live a gunshot away, ríl, from the neighborhoods given to terrorists.

Those organizing the large demonstration are the members of Mateh Maamatz, headed by Mr. Yaakov Novik, the man who for years was behind the Rightís stormy demonstrations. These demonstrations on more than one occasion changed public opinion in Eretz Yisroel to that of protesting the governmentís policy of withdrawals.

At Mateh Maamatz they are promising an uncompromising battle, and they note that this is only the beginning of a long war of wills, which will include all segments of Yerushalayim, beginning with the ultra-Orthodox, whose thousands of members will be exposed to Palestinian terror, and concluding with the unaffiliated members of the public.


Mr. Novik, how are the preparations going for the big demonstration?

We are working around the clock to be properly prepared for the demonstration. We advertised around the country and have turned to all members of the public, including the religious and the ultra-Orthodox, to come and participate. We are sure that a large religious contingent will show up, for if anyone is going to be affected by Barakís plan to divide Yerushalayim, it will be the religious sector. As you know, there are a number of religious neighborhoods that border the areas Barak is planning to give away to the Palestinians.

The Right is returning to the streets after a long period of silence. They say that this is the first demonstration in Zion Square after Rabinís murder. Does this show a reawakening on the part of the Right?

I donít make comparisons. We are setting out on an uncompromising battle, and I hope that we will succeed, G-d willing.

Do you feel that the public is beginning to understand the problems with the course Barak is taking?

The problem is not with the public. The public is highly intelligent and understands exactly what is going on. There has been a serious problem within the political realm since the time the Likkud formulated the Wye Accords, and today it is hard to see a political solution to the problem.

The situation today is such that we are reaching the bottom of the barrel and the public is beginning to understand that it doesnít have a choice; it understands that Yerushalayim will be under siege and the entire country will be put into a very critical situation Ė perhaps even worse than our situation during the period of the War of Independence.

A siege? Thatís reminiscent of days gone by. Arenít you exaggerating?

Barak is placing Yerushalayim under siege, with everything that implies. His plans are extremely dangerous for the future existence of the Jewish people in Eretz Yisroel, not just in Yerushalayim. The signals the Arabs receive from Barak have their effect on every front throughout Eretz Yisroel.

If he gives them these villages, and then other villages, in a state of all-out war, G-d forbid, they can undermine all the armyís plans and cause chaos on the roadways. They will be able to cut off Yerushalayim from all the peripheral neighborhoods, and then it will be terrible.

Do you think that those groups who did not identify with the topic of Eretz Yisroel shleima understand the severity of Barakís course of action?

Today the problem is not that of Eretz Yisroel shleima. Unfortunately, that is no longer a relevant battle. Today we are fighting for our house, for our physical existence as Jews who live in Eretz Yisroel. I donít think it is necessary to discuss this sorry state of affairs at length. The country is going further and further into a state of siege within an autonomous and hostile Arab area. Today people donít talk of peace. Everyone knows that we are no longer talking about peace, but about how not to anger them. Despite this, there will be constant friction with them. They donít want peace. They want to get what we are willing to give them, and then they will besiege the country until they can take everything, while we will be at our weakest point.

The situation is so absurd that the Palestinians are not prepared to talk with us until we give them Abu Dis, and they demand this as a prerequisite. Tomorrow they will demand another prerequisite in order not to halt the process, and each time we will say, ďWill we disrupt the peace process for some little village which we donít occupy anyway?Ē Thereís no end to this. We have nothing else in reserve to give. Whatever we give them today has a direct bearing on the security of the lives of Jews.

The battle is not about some ideological point or another. It is about the very existence of the Jews in Eretz Yisroel. Danger is approaching imminently. Each day there is an additional weakening of the existence of the state and its ability to survive.

I must point out that everything the Lubavitcher Rebbe envisioned regarding Eretz Yisroel is unfolding before our very eyes today, day by day and moment by moment. This is a battle for Jewish existence. The Jewish nation is presently in one of its most difficult moments, with an extremely weak leadership.


You speak about a war around the house. Itís no secret that Israeli Arabs within the Green Line have actually begun fighting Eretz Yisroel, a war referred to by Mr. Alek Ron, the representative of the northern district of the police.

Indeed, there is a quiet Arab takeover in the Negev and the Galil. They do what they want: build, plant fields, expand, and nobody says a word. When I speak of a siege, I am not referring only to Yerushalayim, Yehuda and Shomron. I am talking about a general problem that has expanded to the entire country. What Alek Ron said was just the tip of the iceberg.

Where do you think they get their nerve?

The Israeli Arabs and their leaders in the Knesset are closely associated with Arafat. The Arabs take advantage of the Left, who are in power thanks, in part, to their votes. The Left relies on Arab support, and the Israeli Arabs do as they please.

In Kiryat Shemone, too?

Naturally, the Arabs on the northern border have the same agenda. The problem on the border with Lebanon is a war on the house, on the peaceful civilians in the northern cities. It is a grave mistake to think that trying to appease the Arabs with gifts will result in winning their friendship.

The war today is difficult and bitter on all fronts, not just around Yerushalayim. We are talking about Arab sovereignty in the Negev and the Galil, the battle of the Arab students which should be a red light for the leadership of the state.

Letís talk about the current problem with Yerushalayim. What is Barak planning to do with Yerushalayim?

Today they are talking about giving away Abu Dis and Ezariya as an ďadvance payment,Ē as the Israelis put it. The Arabs are demanding all of East Jerusalem. If weíre talking about an advance payment, this means that the neighborhood of Tzor-Bachar and the other neighborhoods of East Jerusalem will be returned next. But that wonít be enough. They will always raise points of contention, with the goal of leaving the option of an all-out war when they have the military strength. At that point, after giving them all the territories, returning refugees, and arming their terrorists, our situation will be critical indeed.

Are you hinting at something?

Giving away the villages near Yerushalayim will cut off the city from Maaleh Adumim, Yericho, and the Jordan Valley.

Are you saying that in such a situation nobody will be able to say, ďIt doesnít affect me?Ē

Everyone suffers from terrorist activity, even Dizengoff Center. Arab terror doesnít differentiate between Jews on the Right and Jews on the Left.

Which segment of the population is more exposed to attack?

Iíll surprise you by saying that itís not those who live past the Green Line. Itís those who live in the cities, the ones who feel most secure. Today in Yesha every settlement has a security plan, and every settlement is surrounded by fences. They have ammunition, so itís harder to attack them, except for the roads.

After they give away the villages near Yerushalayim, terrorists could enter unprotected houses on the outskirts of Ramat Shlomo, and in the near future, in the neighborhood of Beis Yisroel in the heart of Yerushalayim, where people are unprotected. The infiltrations will come as a surprise. You must remember that the religious neighborhoods border on the villages the Palestinians want. Orient House is merely 200 meters away from the shtiblech of Beis Yisroel.

Thatís what happened when Dovid Kotoraza (may Hashem avenge his blood), a resident of Ramat Shlomo, was murdered on his way to daven vasikin...

There are many examples, but I want to speak in general terms rather than focus on one incident or another. We are creating a security problem in that we are exposing a huge segment of the population to Arafatís terror, and heíll do what he wants with the residents of Eretz Yisroel like a potter with his clay. Perhaps today itís not worth his while to attack, but tomorrow it will be worth his while. Can we forego our security based on Arafatís internal concerns?

Barak said that for 2,000 years we did not pray towards Abu Dis.

Barak himself hasnít prayed for 2,000 years, not in Yerushalayim either. Seriously speaking, itís true that Yerushalayim is more holy than the rest of Eretz Yisroel, but the entire country is more holy than other lands. When we prayed towards Eretz Yisroel, it included the area of Abu Dis. In earlier times, Jews bought land in the area of Abu Dis and in additional areas which Barak is ready to hand over to the Palestinians. Jews who returned to Yerushalayim gazed out over Abu Dis, Eastern Jerusalem, and all the areas near the Old City. Until today, we have the Turkish deeds and documents of that land listed as Jewish land.

Do you think that Barak is planning on dividing Yerushalayim?

The Arabs havenít conceded a single point and they will not concede a thing in the future either. Barak would give the Kinneret away too, if he knew it would pass a referendum. The same thing with Yerushalayim. In my estimation he would be willing to return Yerushalayim to the state it was in before the Six-Day War, but he realizes the people wonít accept that.

Obviously, Barak cannot give the Arabs everything they want, because you canít give them everything they want and still survive! So it isnít clear how far Barak will go. He doesnít have a clear plan. Barakís limit will not satisfy Arafat, so ultimately he will decide according to the opposition he will get from the public. That is Barakís only barometer: how much will the Israeli public allow him to give away?

Is that the purpose of the mass demonstration you are organizing?

Demonstrations were always and will always be tremendously effective. Remember the mass demonstration against withdrawing from the Golan that took place a few months ago in Tel Aviv. After that, Barak realized he could not give the Golan away. That demonstration had a profound effect. If the demonstration had not taken place, Barak would have been sure he could give the Golan away up to the Kinneret.

We have to learn from the Left. Every week, there are public appearances by the Women in Black or the Four Mothers, both very effective organizations. Just look how far theyíve gotten. Every demonstration is extremely influential.

What will happen after this upcoming demonstration?

I think that as the process progresses, the people will protest more vocally. Dangerous withdrawals such as these cannot take place quietly.

Our real problem is the complicated political machinations. But the people are not fools. They are aware of what is going on and are not quiet at all. As the process proceeds, people will see where Barak is heading and what the Arabs are planning to do. If we do not express public outrage in the streets, we will find ourselves in the same place as those people who were transported to the ovens in Auschwitz. These are tough words, but itís the truth.

We must fight and demonstrate. We must rise up. These actions will definitely influence the government. The problem today is that we must influence our own people too. The main reason for our demonstrations is to strengthen our own camp. If we are strong, then, with G-dís help, we will overcome our enemies.


As far as the construction going on in the territories, is Barak better than Netanyahu, as the people from Meretz and Shalom Achshav claim?

He is not better than Netanyahu, but he is better than the Rabin-Peres government, which shut down all construction. Barakís government is giving the minimum in order to keep things politically quiet with the Mafdal, Yisroel BíAliya, and Shas parties. By the way, Shas is also somewhat in favor of the settlers. They got nearly 10% of the votes in Yesha.

Do you believe Shas would sell Abu Dis in exchange for fifty million shekel for their Reshet HaMaayan HaTorani?

I donít think itís a problem of fifty million shekel. The point is that without Shas, there is no government. As soon as they threaten Barak with the dissolution of his government, they have the money tomorrow, even without conceding Abu Dis. I think that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is also aware of the danger involved in giving Abu Dis to the Palestinians, and he also expressed his opinion, saying that Abu Dis is part of Yerushalayim. Itís hard for me to believe that observant Jews would endanger the lives of Jews.

In the meantime, Barak said he has postponed giving away Abu Dis.

He postponed it because he is having difficulty getting it past his coalition, but we mustnít sleep on the job. We can get up one fine morning to find ourselves in a shrunken Jerusalem with all of East Jerusalem under Arafatís rule, with all that it implies.

What are you asking people to do now?

We must fight with all our strength. We must be a huge presence. If we are stubborn, we will succeed. It all depends on our determination, how much we are willing to put out, and how far we are willing to go to demonstrate against giving away Yerushalayim. If we are unified, we will succeed in directing public opinion against these dangerous talks, and then the immediate danger, at least over here, will be removed.


Mateh Maamatz
Matteh Maamatz has been working this past decade in organizing the Right against the government. The Matteh was established by Mr. Yehuda Chazani, who was killed in the Judean desert. After his death, Mr. Yaakov Novick was appointed leader of the Matteh. He is the man who consolidates all the protest activities against the withdrawals, whether through explanations or by organizing demonstrations.

The work of Matteh Maamatz has halted the Israeli governmentís plans on more than one occasion, and its protests have had a huge impact. Yaakov Novick has been accused by the Left and the media for agitation and incitement against the Rabin-Peres government, but he prefers not to respond to these accusations. He sees it as his holy mission to unify the protest activities of those who are loyal to Eretz Yisroel.      

On Monday, May 15th, Matteh Maamatz, along with all the parties on the Right, will once again join in demonstrating in Zion Square. The organizers anticipate thousands of participants who will express their objection to Barakís withdrawals and division of Yerushalayim.


Thanks to Arafatís refusal, Barakís initiative to meet with the head of the Palestinian Authority failed this past Sunday. Barak tried to convince Arafat to accept Abu Dis, El Azarya, and Savchara, but Hashem made the murderer refuse to accept these yishuvim. It seems, however,  that regardless, there will still be a meeting between Barak and Arafat. In the meantime, negotiations continue between the Israeli team and the Palestinians.

The prime minister was unable to bring his plan to hand Abu Dis over to the P.L.O. to a vote because he cannot convince Shas to support this action. Barak faces difficulties convincing the ministers that Eretz Yisroel will receive anything of value in exchange for giving away the villages around Yerushalayim.

The experts estimate that the possibility for a breakthrough in the talks is unlikely. In Hobermanís opinion, Eretz Yisroel wants to create the appearance of progress, but in reality there is no progress when it comes to difficult issues like Yerushalayim, the right of return, and the like.


I must point out that everything the Lubavitcher Rebbe envisioned regarding Eretz Yisroel is unfolding before our very eyes today.






After giving them all the territories, returning refugees, and arming their terrorists, our situation will be critical indeed.





Barakís only barometer is: how much will the Israeli public allow him to give away?


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