Friday, September 29, 2006

An Important pre-Yom Kippur Story

Another Woman and Girl Rescued from Torment in Arab Village

12:50 Sep 29, '06 / 7 Tishrei 5767
by Hillel Fendel

A Yad L'Achim special: Eight hareidi-religious Jews in disguise rescued a Jewish girl from her Moslem father's home in the PA-controlled city of Tul Karem, east of Netanya.

Accounts differ as to how precisely the rescue took place, but it was clearly planned thoroughly in advance. The story began several years ago when an Arab man from Tul Karem met a Jewish girl from Ashdod, and it was "love at first sight," according to the Arab. The Jewess has a different version, however; she says he first fooled her into believing he was Jewish - and neglected to mention that he was already married with children. In fact, when the two later married and moved to Tul Karem, the first wife and five children lived nearby, without her knowledge.

The Jewish woman said her husband forbade her to go outside and beat her, and also later beat her daughter, born five years ago.

The story is similar to that told by hundreds of women who marry Moslems and live in Arab villages in Judea and Samaria. See the five-part Arutz-7 series by Mayaan Jaffe of two years ago, including:

'I Was Totally Alone'
'The Verbal Abuse Was Worst of All'
When Israeli Women Marry Arab Men
'He Was Taking Over My Mind'
'I Was Silent and I Was Alone'

After a while, the woman went to visit her mother in Ashdod, taking her daughter with her. A few days later, she informed her Moslem husband that she was not returning. The man was willing to accept his second wife's departure, but not that of his daughter - and he traveled to Ashdod and snatched her back to Tul Karem. He later claimed that back in Tul Karem, she "flowered," and that she had complained of being beaten by her grandmother "and not being allowed to stay up past 8 PM."

The mother then called Yad L'Achim, an organization that actively combats Christian missionaries and helps Jewish women suffering in Moslem villages. One account says that the religious men came into the town dressed as Arabs and asked directions for the man's house, while others say they were dressed as IDF soldiers and arrived under the guise of a terrorist-arresting operation. In any event, they entered the house, took the man and the 5-year-old girl, sped out of town, and immediately afterwards, released the father.

Meanwhile, another car was bringing the mother and grandmother to meet them. A Yad L'Achim operative who took part in the rescue was quoted in the Maariv newspaper as describing the emotional reunion: "The little girl had been sitting curled up in the car, then she got out, barefoot and with pajamas, and when she saw her mother, they embraced and fell together on the road, together with the grandmother."

The reunited mother and daughter are now in an undisclosed location, planning the legal battle to allow them to stay together. The father, for his part, has filed a complaint with the police of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Yad L'Achim (lit., Hand to Brothers) reports that it has saved "hundreds of Jewish women" in this manner in the course of the past year. Chairman Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifshitz said, "Hundreds of Jewish children and youths are rolling about in Arab villages, not knowing a thing about their Jewishness."

In the Jewish year 5765, which ended last Rosh HaShanah, the organization rescued 58 such children and 34 women in 47 rescues. The story that generally repeats itself is that the women regret having married Arabs, but their husbands refuse to allow them to return to their original homes.

"The children we saved would never have cried out 'Shma Yisrael,' would not have known they were Jewish, and certainly would have had no way of growing up as Jews," Yad L'Achim sources say.

A spokeswoman for the group said that the rescue was a last-resort mission, "after we turned to all the relevant authorities and were not answered, and after we saw that there was a definite threat upon the girl and others." She noted that two Arab women had recently turned to the group for help as well, "and we helped them happily."

Yad L'Achim also says it brought about the closure of 27 missionary centers in the past year, as well as 18 the year before.

One of the issues the group is currently dealing with involves the revelation that a missionary cult is running a nursery in a municipally-owned building in the Katamon neighborhood of Jerusalem. Yad L'Achim reports that it recently discovered that for the past three years, an educational association has been illegally subletting the building to a missionary organization, which in turns operates a nursery there, "spreading its racist, anti-Semitic teachings, with missionary objectives, without the knowledge of the parents and children."

City Councilmen Rabbis Yosef Deitsch and Yaakov Shnor have asked Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupoliansky to immediately cancel the lease.

The two discovered the missionary activity when they were looking for better quarters for two Chabad nurseries, which are currently serving 90 children in a nearby bomb shelter in very crowded conditions.

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