Forty years ago today: Happy Birthday and Happy New Year

              Photos and video: David Wilder
It’s never pleasant visiting people in mourning. Especially when the deceased were victims of terror. It’s such a waste of life and such a disgrace to our people.
Yesterday I paid a condolence call to the Palmers. They sat, listened and discussed with high-ranking IDF officers the failure of the state of Israel to protect their loved-ones, and others on the road, who are stoned by Arab terrorists daily. They don’t have any excuses, except that their actions are limited by ‘political decisions.’ Unfortunately, some of those officers are no less political than their civilian boss, Ehud Barak, and their action or inaction in the field is proof.
One of the subjects spoken about by several of the people present was deterrence. In the past (albeit a long time ago) the army used numerous forms of methods to ‘deter’ continued terror acts. Such forms of ‘collective punishment’ were, when used correctly, quite effective and helped do the job. At a demonstration prior to the funeral on Sunday, Rav Dov Lior demanded that the IDF utilize collective actions, as is allowed by Jewish Torah law, to save lives. However, as was said during today’s discussion at the Palmer’s home, collective punishment is no longer considered ‘for reasons we all know.’
One of the other subjects directed at the officers present was the danger of driving on the roads. Any time a person drives between Hebron to Jerusalem, he puts his life on the line. Not only because of rock-throwing or shooting, but because Arab drivers use their cars as vehicles of terror. Driving on curvy, dangerous roads at speed fifty kilometers over the speed limit, at 150 kilometers an hour, passing four or five cars at a time, over white lines, speaking on cell phones and ignoring the road, keeping bright lights lit at night, not dimming them when a vehicle appears opposite them; these are but a few examples of the craziness on the roads.  It was asked why Israeli police are not stationed on the road, stopping the overtly reckless Arab drivers. This security access on the roads would also have a deterrent effect on our enemies.
There were no answers to these questions.
But there are answers to these questions. The first is continued, expanded Jewish presence on the roads, and specifically between Hebron and Kiryat Arba to the north, towards Jerusalem, and south, towards Beer Sheva. Yesterday a rock again was hurled from a moving Arab car at an Israeli vehicle, less than a kilometer south of the entrance to Kiryat Arba. A larger presence on the street will allow us a better opportunity to defend ourselves and apprehend terrorists attempting to kill Jews.
The other answer is quite simply to close the roads to Arab traffic. If they want to act like animals, treat them like animals, and don’t give them use of roads from which they continue to try to murder Jews.  This should have been done immediately following the murder, except for the fact that only yesterday was the family officially notified that their loved-ones were murdered as a result of Arab terror and did not die in an ‘auto accident.’ Today the family was told that they''ve been recognized as a ''terror-struck'' family.
This is type of collective punishment Rav Lior discussed. And it is guaranteed, it  will be understood immediately. Closing road 60 from south of Kiryat Arba, to Jerusalem, would have a major effect on their economics. This street is packed with Arab trucks transporting produce. This would immediately hit them in their pockets, and could cause pressure stopping these continued rock attacks. And should the road be reopened, with the attacks continuing, it should be permanently closed to our enemies, who prefer dead Jews to a successful economy.
While at the Palmer’s, Michael, Asher’s father, told me that he prefer that people remember Asher alive, rather than dwell on his death. He told me, ‘he’s gone, and there’s nothing we can do about that, but we can remember his life, how much love he gave to all of us, his happiness, his family, his Torah.’ He requested that I pass this message on to others, so that they too can learn from him and thank G-d for the 25 years he had on this earth.

Today is the eve of Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year. By all rights, I shouldn’t be in the office writing this. However a short time ago we prayed afternoon prayers at the site of the murder. Following the service, Rav Lior spoke for a few minutes and I really would like to post the short video (in Hebrew) before the holy day. 
That being the case, I think it essential, following Michael Palmer’s line of thought, to remember, to remember back exactly forty years today. It was the eve of Rosh HaShana in 1971 that the first Jews moved into newly built homes in the new community called Kiryat Arba.
Jews had come back to the Hebron region to live in 1968, but were forced to set up home in the Hebron military compound, outside of the city. The conditions there were awful, but they made do and refused to give up. As a result, the defense minister then, Moshe Dayan, finally allowed initiation of a new community, Kiryat Arba. And so it was that forty years ago today, families moved into those first buildings, and began renewal of a Jewish presence in Hebron and in all of Judea and Samaria.
These past four decades have been costly. Asher and Yonatan are the last in a long list of people who gave their lives to live here. But, never, ever, did Jews consider abandoning their homeland as a result of this deadly violence. Sure, it would be easier and much more pleasant not to have to face such tests. But our enemies will never again drive us out of our homes, our land, the roots and heart of our people.
This is the message I would like to leave you with, as we approach the new year of 5772, and wish all of us a happy and healthy new year, a year of spiritual prosperity, of personal and national growth, of building, expansion, of aliyah, and of tranquility.
                                                Happy Birthday to Kiryat Arba and a good, happy year to all.  Shana tova.