Stone Throwing: When Justice is not Blind

[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ouths from Yitzhar were sentenced to eight months in prison for stone throwing, while Arab youths go free under similar circumstances.

The District Court in Lod, sentenced six Jewish youths to eight months in prison for throwing stones in Yitzhar two years ago. The six were arrested in a police provocation near the town and have been under house arrest since the incident.

Residents from Judea and Samaria have compared the length of the sentence given to these Jewish youths to the more common cases of Arab youths who throw stones. In most cases, Arab youths are never even indicted for stone throwing and even when they are, they rarely end up serving prison terms in cases where no physical harm was caused.

The Facebook page of the “Shomron Residents Committee,” posted a story by ‘Gadi’ a member of the committee, about the army’s response to Arab stone throwers. The suspects were of similar ages to the Jewish youths who were recently sentenced.

He wrote as follows:

“It was around Purim 2011. We were stationed in a base near Karmei Tzur and we were responsible for the area that included Al-Arub, which is known to be a problematic village.

Every Friday, youths from the local school would hold protests after their school let out and they would throw stones at vehicles on Route 60. It was our job as soldiers to prevent them from doing so.

One time, after a short chase, we caught two youths around 15 years old, who had thrown stones. We brought them to the Etzion station where the commander thanked us for our efforts. I then saw with my own eyes how the commander called the father of one of the youths and spoke to him in Arabic. He explained to him that if his son was caught again, he would be arrested. He then released both youths without questioning them or recording any information about them at all.”

The Shomron Residents Committee also noted the case of Muhammad Yusuf Darwish, an adult Arab who was caught throwing explosive devices at soldiers and who admitted in his interrogation that he had also thrown stones many times. For all of his offenses, he received only five months of prison and a small fine. It is noteworthy that prison sentences below 6 months in Israel can be automatically converted to full-day community service, thus Darwish did not have to serve any prison time at all.

This article was originally published in HaKol HaYehudi.

Recycling bottles to redeem Jerusalem

Originally published on HaKol HaYehudi.

Aryeh Blumberg gathers bottles for recycling and donates the money to buy homes in Jerusalem.

Aryeh Blumberg lives in Maale Adumim and works as a plumber. In recent years Blumberg has also begun collecting bottles for Jerusalem. He collects bottles for recycling and the money he receives he gives to Ateret Cohanim to redeem property in Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish nation,” says Blumberg, “The world doesn’t accept this and wants to steal it from us. Jerusalem has always been ours. We can’t let them change history and steal it from us. We have to fight for Jerusalem.”

Blumberg tells the story of how he started his project after the Gaza expulsion. “I realized that if today they were expelling Jews from Gush Katif, tomorrow they could expel Jews from Jerusalem. I decided that talking wasn’t enough and I wanted to do something in practice to strengthen Jerusalem.” Blumberg explains that he wanted to donate to support Jerusalem, but his financial situation did not allow it.

“Then I realized that people always throw out their bottles in the trash and they could instead get money back for them,” says Blumberg. That thought led him to action and he began by asking Ateret Cohanim if they had a minimum donation amount. They told him they were willing to accept even small amounts and so he began his project.

“My first donation was only 140 shekels (~$40). In the first year I donated 2500 shekels, the second year 5000 shekels, the third year 8000 shekels, the year after 10,000 shekels, and every year since, it’s been around 12000 shekels,” explains Blumberg on how the project grew. “Today, thank G-d,‘donations from bottles’ have passed the 100,000 shekel point.”

Blumberg says that as the project grew, more people joined him. “There are several in Maale Adumim, and there are also several places in Jerusalem where I pick up bottles from people.”

Since he started the project, Blumberg’s yard is almost always filled with boxes of bottles, but he says “My wife agrees to it. She even helps with the project and my kids also help a lot.” Blumberg also emphasizes that all of the money from the bottles goes to Ateret Cohanim, “I don’t take any overhead and I pay for my own gas or any other expenses.”

“It’s amazing to be able to take a small thing like bottles that we throw in the garbage and use them to change the reality,” says Blumberg. “From 30 agorot (8 cents) from each bottle we reached 100,000 shekels, thank G-d. It’s possible to help the Jewish people in many ways and with G-d’s help through all of these small things we will merit to bring the Redemption.”

“The need to strengthen Jerusalem,” is what Blumberg says gives him the strength to keep going. “I can’t tell you why we were punished with the expulsion from Gaza but it was probably something small. I think we need to strengthen Jerusalem and move as many Jews as possible into the city. That’s what Ateret Cohanim does and that’s what I want to support.”

Blumberg says that, “As a result of the project my personal connection to Jerusalem has also strengthened.”

In conclusion, Blumberg tells that he once did work for a Jew who was not religious in Jerusalem. “I asked him why he chose to live in Jerusalem and he told me, ‘Jerusalem is the center of the Jewish nation.’ Jerusalem is truly our center. The world wants to take it from us but we can’t give up Jerusalem.”