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Grandpa Would Have Been Proud
t was a tense stand-off. The
Israeli army and police had
blocked all roads leading to
Yitzhar, a settlement in the
Shomron where my newly married 18-
year-old daughter, Ayelet Hashachar,
and her husband, Akiva, live.
This was a showdown. The govern-
ment pledged to remove the hundreds
of young people who had gathered on
a tiny hilltop near the settlement; the
kids were determined to hang on.
Even with my official press pass, I
was hassled and forced to park far
away. As I trudged up the winding
road that leads to Yitzhar, I didn't
know what to expect. I wanted to
make sure my daughter was OK.
Akiva was one of the leaders of the
group of young people that had built
tents on the hilltop. He and Ayelet
and many of their friends had been in
other evictions and had been bruised
and beaten up by the army.
When I got to the top, my water
bottle nearly depleted and warm, it
looked like strange combination of a
battle-zone and a "happening." The
army had gathered a massive force to
Moshe Dann, a former Detroiter and
assistant professor of history at City
University of New York, is a writer and
journalist living in Jerusalem. His e-mail
address is firstname.lastname@example.org
obscure board has become a signifi-
cant political battleground.
Apologists For Terror
Islamic and Arab-American groups that
have long served as apologists for terror
have been fighting tooth and nail to
stop Pipes. Organizations such as the
Council on American Islamic Relations
(CAIR) and the American-Arab Anti-
Discrimination Committee have
labeled him as a bigot because of his
honesty about Islamic terror and the
connections between extremist branch-
es of the Muslim faith and the terror-
This backlash against Pipes should
have been dismissed, but as Bush and
the rest of his staff refused to stand up
for his nominee, it has gained traction.
Democrats on the U.S. Senate's
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Committee — who must approve his
evict Jews from an isolated hilltop.
Somehow, it didn't make sense.
Several APCs (armored personnel
carriers) and giant military bulldozers
were surrounded by scores of women,
some with baby carriages, girls and
children. Groups of soldiers armed
with M-16s and Galil rifles waited at
the side. I looked for my daughter, but
couldn't find her.
Every now and then, small groups of
soldiers ran towards the adjacent hill-
top where the young men had gath-
ered around their makeshift tents. The
kids tried to prevent the soldiers from
attacking the buildings. Rabbis and
settlement leaders cautioned passive
resistance. Some of the soldiers got
rough, and some of the boys struggled
with them. Some kids were hurt; some
soldiers cried and some refused orders
to participate in this action.
The air was filled with dust from the
vehicles poised to begin their descent
down the dirt road towards the tents.
The drivers revved the engines impa-
tiently and tried to maneuver, waiting
for the police to clear away the girls who
were sitting in their path blocking their
way. Mothers holding babies pleaded
with soldiers who stood in front them.
And then, I saw her.
My heart jumped. Ayelet and several of
her friends were on top of one of the
bulldozers, resisting orders to come down.
I had to admire their courage.
A policewoman tried to pull her
Even knowing that they would
down, but she clung to the side.
lose such battles, they had a
Part of her long skirt was ripped.
vision and they would not give
"You are destroying our
up. The triumph of hope over
homes," she screamed. "You
disappointment is a good lesson
have no right to do this. We
at any age.
are Jews; you are Jewish sol-
I thought of my father, Sol
diers; what are you doing?" she
Dann, may his memory be a
cried, her face covered with
blessing, who died 28 years
dust. The policewoman finally
ago. An ardent Zionist who
gave up and climbed down.
Watching this at the side, I
Comm entary lived nearly all of his life in
Detroit, he had dedicated his
was torn. She was in danger,
life to helping Israel. He pub-
and I was afraid she would get
lished articles defending Israel, warn-
hurt. I ran over to her, wanting to
ing of the danger of 'Arab refugees,"
help. But I knew that there was noth-
and refuting anyone who maligned
ing I could do.
She saw me and smiled. "Hi, Abba," Jews and Judaism. He saw himself as a
one-man "truth squad."
He sent us, his children, for trips
She was like a flag fluttering amidst
and he even lived for a year in
a battle. This little girl that I had
Jerusalem. But he and my mother
raised was now a strong, brave and
couldn't find their place in Israel, and
very independent woman. She was
moved back to Detroit. Twenty years
fighting for the right of Jews to live in
ago, when I moved to Israel, married
this tiny place in Eretz Yisrael, and she
and became a father I did not think I
would not be moved.
would be standing in the blazing sun
By the end of the day, it was over.
watching my daughter risking her life
The simple structures, including a
for this cause. And maybe this is just
makeshift synagogue, had been utterly
the way things should be.
destroyed. Ayelet cried, "Why? Why?"
I wondered what my father would
Her face streaked with dirt and tears. I
have thought if he could see this now,
had no answers.
his granddaughter on a bulldozer,
Akiva arrived, his arm in a sling.
holding on against all odds.
"We'll be back," he said, "and we'll
Proud. Damn proud. ❑
build even more."
nomination — oppose him. Led by
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., they
have accused him of having "one-sided"
views about the Middle East because he
opposes American appeasement of
Palestinian terror. They also cite with
disapproval his Campus Watch Web
site, which provides vital information
about anti-Israel activity in academia.
In response, the administration has
backed away from Pipes and done
nothing to work for his approval.
Republicans on the committee were
unprepared to defend him when it met
July 23 to consider his nomination. A
vote was postponed due to a lack of a
quorum, effectively tabling the nomi-
nation for the time being.
What brought this about?
For one thing, the administration is
still unwilling to directly engage the
Islamist lobby in this country. Afraid of
being tagged as anti-Muslim or of feed-
ing a mythical anti-Arab backlash, Bush
and his people are kowtowing to the
extremists at CAIR, and allowing them
to set the tone for this debate.
Another factor has to do with Pipes
himself. He's no politician, and has a
paper trail of columns that can be dis-
sected and used against him. He's no
foe of Islam, but he honestly discusses
its history and the extremists in this
country who speak in its name. That
makes him politically incorrect.
Also, Pipes is an opponent of the lat-
est version of the Middle East peace
process that Bush has championed. In
the February 2003 issue of Commentary
magazine, Pipes rightly contended that
Israel didn't need "a plan" for peace so
much as it needed a military victory
over the terrorists.
Indeed, Pipes even publicly opposed
President Bush's June 24, 2002, policy
speech on the Middle East that was
much praised by supporters of Israel,
including this writer. In it, Bush
attached conditions to the creation of a
Palestinian state (Palestinian Authority
President Yasser Arafat's ouster and
renunciation of terror). But Pipes fore-
saw the road map plan that has reward-
ed terrorism as coming out of the
It may be that the White House now
regrets ever getting involved with Pipes.
But by abandoning him to the mer-
cies of partisans and Islamic extremists
who would like nothing better than to
collect the scalp of their most potent
foe, the administration has shown just
how muddled its thinking is.
It's not too late to save his nomina-
tion, but perhaps a man like Pipes, who
understood the Islamic threat before 9-
11, still has no place in Washington,
even at an insignificant post such as the
U.S. Institute for Peace. If that is so,
then it appears our leaders are still
unready to learn the lessons of one of
the darkest days in our history