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Wednesday, September 5, 2001
An Open Rebuttal and Response to USA Today Article "Israeli extremists take revenge on Palestinians"

An Open Rebuttal and Response to USA Today Article "Israeli extremists take
revenge on Palestinians"

Mr. Tom Curley, President and Publisher, USA Today
Karen Jurgensen, Editor
Bob Dubill, Executive Editor
Jeff Webber, Senior Vice President and Publisher
Kinsey Wilson, Vice President and Editor in Chief
Chet Czarniak, Managing Editor

Sept. 5, 2001

An Open Rebuttal and Response to USA Today Article
"Israeli extremists take revenge on Palestinians"
By Jack Kelley, USA TODAY
Published Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2001.

Dear Sirs,
Jack Kelley's article is an example of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic
propaganda. The article is so full of lies, and is so inaccurate, that it
is almost not worth relating to. However, due to the wide circulation of
USA Today, I have no choice but to refute the charges, and correct the

1. Kelley begins, "After a quick prayer, Avi Shapiro and 12 other Jewish
settlers put on their religious skullcaps,"

This is ridiculous. A religious Jew wears his skullcap all hours of the
day, and most especially during prayer. We do not "put on our skullcaps"
before going out.

2. "..and headed toward Highway 60. There, they pushed boulders, stretched
barbed wire and set tires afire to form a barricade that, they said, would
stop even the biggest of Palestinian taxis. Then they waited for a vehicle
to arrive. As they crouched in a ditch beside the road, Shapiro, the leader
of the group, gave the settlers orders: Surround any taxi, "open fire" and
kill as many of the "blood-sucking Arab" passengers as possible. "We are
doing what (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon promised but has failed to
do: drive these sons of Arab whores from the land of Israel," said Shapiro,
42, who moved here with his wife and four children three years ago from
Brooklyn. "If he won't get rid of the Muslim filth, then we will."

There is no one with the name Avi Shapiro who lives in Hebron, Kiryat Arba,
Gush Etzion or Efrat. I spent much of the day searching for this person,
who, to the best of my knowledge, does not really exist. Avi Shapiro seems
to be a figment of Kelley's imagination. Or perhaps he does exist, but does
not live anywhere in this area.

3. There were periods of time, particularly during the winter, when people
from Hebron, Kiryat Arba and other communities, participated in road
blocks, especially in the early morning and late evening. It must be
remembered that scores of Jews were being murdered by Arab terrorists in
'drive-by shootings,' whereby terrorists opened fire on moving vehicles on
the road. There was an attempt made to hinder Arab traffic, so as to save
Jewish lives. However, at no time were any 'order' every given to "open
fire and kill." Were this to be true, many many Arabs would have been
killed by civilians. (This point will be discussed more specifically
below). The goal of roadblocks was solely to hinder Arab traffic, and not
to come into any violent contact with Arab drivers.

4. ".vigilante Jewish settlers are shooting.Palestinians"

There have been several attacks on Palestinian civilians. As of yet,
Israeli authorities have not arrested any Jews for have perpetrated the
attacks. The Yesha council has condemned the attacks and called on the
Israeli security forces to apprehend the culprits.

In one particular case, a group of Arabs were shot at, and some killed,
near Idna, in the Southern Hebron hills. It was widely assumed that the
attackers were Jews. However, it has since been learned that the family had
strong ties to Israeli intelligence, and that one the family's brothers was
murdered by Arabs in Hebron because of his connections to Israeli
intelligence forces.

It was also learned that following the attack, no bullet casings were
discovered at the scene of the crime. However, several hours later Arabs
came forth with 'evidence' in the form of bullet casings they claimed were
from the shooting attack. In other words, a large question mark looms over
this entire episode. No one has yet been apprehended or charged with the

5. ".Baruch Goldstein, gunned down 29 Arabs in a nearby mosque."

It is interesting to note that Kelley mentions Baruch Goldstein 3 times in
his article, but neglects to mention such terrorist murderers as Yechi
Iash, who was responsible for the deaths of over 50 Jews, and trained his
successors to carry on in his footsteps.

6. "Nearly 450 right-wing Jews, all of whom are armed and claim a biblical
right to the land, live here among 120,000 Palestinians. Many, like Shapiro
and his colleagues, are ready to strike at any time."

Today there are 700 Jews living in Hebron. Hebron's Jewish community has
been under fire for the past year. Day after day, night after night, we
have been shot at in the street, in our homes and in our cars, at all hours
of the day and night. Civilians have been wounded, and a 10 month old baby
shot and killed by terrorists from the nearby hills which surround the
community. Our security is in the hands of the Israeli army. True, many of
us are armed for reasons of self-defense. We have not, during the past
year, used our weapons for offensive, or rarely ever for defensive purposes.

7. ".says Yossi Sarid, a left-wing Israeli opposition leader. "This is a
city that is cursed."

Yossi Sarid has no appreciation for Jewish heritage or tradition. He is
virulently left-wing, and has always been anti-Hebron. Hebron, the first
capital of Israel, home of our Patriarchs, home of King David, represents
the roots of the Jewish people. Why doesn't Kelley quote Israeli leaders,
such as former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who in a letter to the community
dated 9.8.00 said, "The Jewish community in Hebron will continue to exist
for another 2,000 years." Or the President of Israel, Moshe Katzav, who on

9.8.00 said on Israeli radio, "Can you imagine that Jews would not be
living in the city of Hebron?"

8. "Since the start of the latest surge of violence in Israel a year ago
this month, at least 119 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli civilians
in the West Bank and Gaza, according to B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights
group ."

According to the B'Tselem website "Eleven Palestinian civilians were killed
by Israeli civilians, including One Two month- old baby girl."

9. "During the same time, at least 30 settlers have been killed by
Palestinian gunmen."

According to the B'Tselem web site: "In the territories" 60 Israeli
civilians were killed by Palestinians, Five of them were minors under the
age of 17: One boy age 16, two boys age 14, a 10 month-old baby girl and a
5 month-old baby boy. One was a minor aged 17. At least Six of them were
allegedly killed by persons affiliated with the pna.
"Within Israel" "residents of the Occupied Territories. 21 of them were
minors under the age of 17. Of them: Six were age 16, Five were age 15,
Four were age 14, One was age 13, One was age 10, One was age 8, One was
age 4 and One was age 2. One was age 17.
According to the Israel Defense Forces Spokesman , in the past year, 120
civilians have been killed , and 1,153 have been wounded.

10. "In July, Jewish vigilantes killed three Palestinians, including a
3-month-old boy, in Nablus.

This is a lie.

11."Yet, the attacks are expected to increase, Israeli officials say. A
group of Jewish vigilantes who possess bomb-making materials has formed in
Hebron, they say."

Who is the "they" quoted. Why are all the sources quoted anonymous?

12. "Last week, 85 European Community monitors who had patrolled Hebron
since 1994 withdrew after complaining of weeks of verbal and physical abuse
by the settlers."

Israel security forces, as reported on Israeli radio, have proof that the
TIPH forces in Hebron have been spying on civilian and military positions
in the city, and passing this information on to Arafat's armed forces. For
more about TIPH see: http://www.hebron.org.il/tiph.htm

13. "On a recent Sunday, Shapiro and the 12 other extremists spotted their
first target: a white Palestinian taxi that had turned the corner and begun
to rumble toward them. From a hill 50 yards away, the men could be seen
removing the safety locks from the weapons. Their wives were grabbing extra
ammunition clips. Their children, all of them under age 12, were picking up

As stated above, Avi Shapira does not exist. Nor did this event ever occur.
Where is Kelley's proof? Where are the pictures? Why wasn't anyone
arrested? A report of "wives grabbing extra ammunition clips" is total
nonsense, a total fabrication.

14. "People here are extremely upset," says David Wilder, a spokesman for
Jewish settlers here. "We're upset by the daily shooting, killings and
harassment by Palestinians. People feel abandoned (by Israel's government)
and so some people are going to take up guns."

I never said that people "are going to take up guns." I have said that
people will defend themselves if their lives are endangered.

15. "Ahmad Abu Neni, 55, is blind and a Palestinian. His small kiosk of
cleaning supplies has been ransacked three times since last September by
settlers, human rights officials say. He's also been beaten in the back
with a brick and punched repeatedly, they add. Neni says Israeli soldiers
tried to break up one of the attacks by firing a concussion grenade at the
attackers, only to set his clothes on fire. He suffered third-degree burns."

In his audio report, Kelley accuses 'settler teenagers, many of whom are
from Brooklyn" of beating this man and then setting him on fire. In this
written report, Kelley says otherwise. Why does Kelley contradict himself
in the two reports? How does he know that the supposed 'attackers' are from

16. "Nearby, Nafez Bani Jaber, 45, was burying 123 of his sheep. He says
they were poisoned last week after 10 Jewish extremists chased him off his
fields. Israeli police say they have found needles dipped in poison that
they believe the settlers used on the sheep. Police say poison also was
dumped down a nearby well used by Palestinians."

There was a report of sheep poisoned, but not in Hebron, rather in the
Shomron, in northern Israel. It has not been proven that any Jews had
responsibility for the act.

17. ".Tivon says his soldiers and police officers often are ambushed by the
settlers, whom he calls "hooligans." The settlers accuse the police of
failing to stop the Arab violence."

Former Brigade commander Noam Tivon did not say that his soldiers are
ambushed by settlers. He had words of praise for Hebron's Jewish Community.
He did say that there are a few "hooligans" here, but that they are the
exception to the rule.

18. "I can't believe we are risking our lives to defend these fanatics,"
says Sgt. Avi Alamm, 28 as he watches a settler boy, dressed as the late
Goldstein, walk by with an Israeli flag. Goldstein, who gunned down the 29
Muslims, is revered among some settlers as a prophet. They encourage their
children to dress like him on occasion. "The people make me ashamed to be a
Jew," Alamm says."

Children in Hebron do not walk around dressed up as Baruch Goldstein. Five
years ago a child, not from Hebron, dressed up on the Purim holiday, as a
doctor. Hebron residents requested that he remove the costume, so as not to
be mistaken as having dressed up as Goldstein. The child complied with the

As for the purported remarks of the Sgt. Alamm, there are soldiers in
Hebron who, being of a left-wing political persuasion, are willing to
defame us to the media. However, for every soldier who portrays us
negatively, there are scores of others who have only warm words of praise
and appreciation for Hebron's Jewish community and Hebron's Jewish
residents. However, obviously, these kinds of statements have no place in
Kelley's article.

19. "Now, many Israelis are calling on the government to dismantle
extremist settlements such as the one here. "The Jewish settlement in
Hebron is a major nuisance, and the lawless behavior by Jews there in
recent days leads to one conclusion," the Israeli newspaper "Ha'aretz"
recently editorialized. "Hebron must be evacuated."

Ha'aretz newspaper is the most left-wing newspaper in Israel. Their views
are well known. They are, however, not representative of Israel's public.
"Many Israelis" are, in truth, a handful of people whose views are not new.
They have been calling for uprooting of communities in Judea, Samaria and
Gazza, including Hebron, for decades. Israeli public opinion is opposed to
the dismantling of Yesha, as can be proven by Ariel Sharon's overwhelming
landslide victory a few months ago.

In conclusion, Jack Kelley's article is an intentional attempt to besmirch
the good name of the Jewish Community of Hebron, using fabrication,
distortion and inaccuracy. It is unfortunate that a publication such as USA
Today should see fit to publish such trash. We expect that Kelley's tenure
with the newspaper will be terminated immediately and that USA TODAY will
not only publish this rebuttal, but will also print an apology for
slandering our community.

David Wilder
The Jewish Community of Hebron hebron@hebron.org.il

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