Israel Resource Review 21st August, 2006


My Cousin's Wedding: Dedicated to Benjy Hillman, killed in action in Lebanon
Rafael Schiff

It was a storybook wedding; such a fine picture they cut, the handsome young Israeli officer in slacks and a white shirt, dancing with his young beautiful bride; it could have been a movie, only it was so much better, because it was real.

It was a storybook wedding; such a fine picture they cut, the handsome young Israeli officer in slacks and a white shirt, dancing with his young beautiful bride; it could have been a movie, only it was so much better, because it was real.

The image of Benji, with his shy smile and twinkling eyes surprising his bride Ayala and serenading her to the delight of hundreds of guests, as everyone, and particularly Ayala, simply reveled in the moment, stayed with us all, long after the wedding was over. It was one of those freeze frame moments in time, to cherish forever.

And then only three weeks later, we had a chance to get together-family and friends all over again, only this time there were no invitations, no dancing, and no smiles, no twinkling eyes and no tinkling glasses. And Ayala was not beaming in a magnificent white wedding dress, she was broken and dressed in black; Israel's latest young war widow.

Benji was a son of Olim from England. He became a Company Commander in one of the most elite commando units of the Israeli army. He didn't talk much about it; he was not a talker; he was a do-er. He died as he lived, volunteering just three weeks after his fairytale wedding to lead his young men from the front in a bitter battle in Lebanon, with the cry of every Israeli combat officer "Acharay!-follow me!" on his lips. Benji gave his life defending the People of Israel, and in reality, every Jew and every decent citizen everywhere, so that one day we can all know real peace . . . .

Benji had an unstinting sense of responsibility toward the soldiers under his command, particularly those in distress. Many "Chayalim Bodedim" - lone soldiers have left their home countries in order to fulfill their beliefs in the most selfless form, by volunteering to defend the People of Israel. These young men have no family in Israel, barely speak Hebrew, cannot rent an apartment because they don't get enough income from the army, and have nowhere to go when they do get leave from base. They must seek out places to stay, figure out a way to do their laundry, grab an inexpensive meal, or take care of personal errands instead of catching up on precious sleep and receiving perhaps a little well deserved care and attention.

In addition, there are boys whose families are living far below the poverty line, who are not treated to a home-cooked meal, whose family residences are inadequate, unheated, lacking electricity or phone services. Some lone boys returning fatigued from training or warfare collapse from exhaustion on a tattered couch or a bare mattress flung in a hallway. Others hail from severely dysfunctional or abusive backgrounds these boys, who put their lives on the line every day for Israel's home front, cannot even risk going home for fear of physical harm.

Benji Hillman had several such boys in distress under his command, and he was acutely aware of their circumstances. During the Shiva the week of mourning following his death we were struck by the tales of so many chayalim bodedim who related Benji's tireless efforts to assist them, selflessly and caringly, quietly and without fanfare.

We would like to continue Benji's legacy, and help ensure that every soldier serving in defense of the Jewish people has a place to go home, even if his family is thousands of miles away or just unable to take care of him.

We, the family and friends, have established a charitable endeavor - Keren Benji Hillman.

Keren Benji Hillman's goal is to provide these boys with general and financial assistance, a warm bed, good food, a room of their own away from the army, and of course all the love, care, attention and help that they need at "Habayit Shel Benji" (Benji's Home).

If you are looking for a way to help Israel in one of her most challenging hours, here is an opportunity to really make a difference to the lives of the young men who are giving up so much for all of us; here is a chance to give a little back.

We hope you are able to respond to this call to help us establish an enduring legacy to the life and selfless values of Benji.

In order to enable us to create, build and run this Keren, (for the first number of years), we are seeking to raise the initial $1M USD from family and friends. The future of the Foundation will be financed by periodical fundraising events, Private Charities, NPOs and Governmental grants. A financial plan will be made available upon request.

We ask you to consider what donation you are able to make in order to ensure that the young men who put their lives on the line for us, know and feel that we care about them-now and always. Not all of us are built for the front line. All of us can show we care.

Benji would have read this and done something about it immediately, we hope you do too.

With love and our deepest thanks and appreciation for all your support, it really makes a difference to us all.

The family and friends of Benji Hillman hy"d Yehi Zichro' Baruch-may his name blessed forever.

In Israel and other Countries other than UK and US donations* may be forwarded to : " Keren Benji Hillman Mercaz Khilati Torani Bnei Adat Yisrael" Hahayil 7/7 Raanana, or made by direct bank transfer to Bank Mizrahi , Branch 423 , account 520957 Keren Benji Hillman Mercaz Khilati Torani Bnei Adat Yisrael.

In the UK: donations* may be forwarded to: "The Benji Hillman Charitable Foundation" 23 Wykeham Rd, London NW4 2TB or made by direct bank transfer to "The Benji Hillman Charitable Foundation" NatWest Account number 82063354 sort code 601034.

In the US: Our friends at Jerusalem Fellowships are helping us by collecting all contributions from the US.They are not taking a commission of any kind and are helping us as they are behind the project 100%.

The following is their information and all banking information:

Jerusalem Fellowships Inc. - accepts contributions and issues tax receipts that are deductable as charitable donations - 501c3. Tax ID # 13-3740640 Address: Jerusalem Fellowships, 28 Park Avenue , Airmont, NY 10952 . Wiring instructions: Citibank, NA, 330 Madison Avenue , NYC Account name: Jerusalem Fellowships, account number 371 829 79. The ABA # 021000089.

Please indicate (on cheque or wire) that this is for "The Benji Hillman Foundation".

Keren Benji Hillman is a charitable endeavor devoted to social welfare projects in Israel. Funds will only be channeled as such.

If you would like to learn more about Benji, please visit the web site:

If you would like more information about The Benji Hillman Charitable Foundation or add a memory or contribution of your own please to the website, please e-mail or call +972 52-662-2851

Donations are tax deductible and recognized as charitable contributions in Israel and UK receipts will be provided for tax purposes. US donations are tax deductible only after sending pledge and receiving further instructions.

*Important Following a donation we would ask you to email or fax your personal and contribution details to or +972-9-7466669 for bookkeeping purposes. Please mention if you need a tax receipt/country. All details will be kept completely confidential.

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Middle East News Line

Israel has assessed that Hamas intends to capitalize on the success of Hizbullah's war against Israel.

Israeli officials said Hamas plans to copy variants of Iranian- and Russian-origin anti-tank missiles fired by Hizbullah during the 33-day war with Israel in Lebanon. Officials said Hamas and Islamic Jihad have assessed that the anti-tank missiles succeeded in blocking Israel's ground advance in Lebanon and exacting a heavy casualty toll.

[Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan] Nasrallah is perceived as a national hero among [Palestinian] terror organizations, and they are attempting to learn from him," Israel Security Agency director Yuval Diskin said. "They understand the power of the anti-tank missile and guerrilla fighting, as well as the use of underground bunkers."

Hizbullah fired a range of Russian- and U.S. ATMs during the war in Lebanon. They included the advanced AT-14 Kornet, AT-13 Metis, enhanced AT-3 Sagger as well as the U.S.-origin TOW and European Milan. At least 40 Israeli main battle tanks were damaged.

On Sunday, Diskin told Israel's Cabinet that Hamas and its allies would seek to bolster their military capabilities in wake of the Hizbullah war. The ISA chief warned that the Gaza Strip could become a strategic threat to Israel within a few years.

"The intensification of terror sources in Gaza is a strategic problem which, if not treated properly, will result in a reality like in Lebanon," Diskin said. "We don't have to wait three years and then launch investigations."

Diskin's assessment contrasted with that of military intelligence and government ministers. The ministers have played down the Hamas missile threat from the Gaza Strip, including strikes against strategic facilities in the Israeli city of Ashkelon.

"You have to treat the Kassam [missile] threat within the framework of the Kassams," Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, Diskin's predecessor, said, referring to Hamas's short-range missile.

However, officials said the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority has been receiving explosives and weapons from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. They said Hizbullah has also sent weapons experts to the Gaza Strip to develop and produce longer-range rockets.

"In Judea and Samaria [West Bank] Hizbullah is smuggling in large sums of money and encouraging terrorist attacks against Israel," Diskin said.

Yusef Al Sharqawi, a Palestinian analyst on strategic affairs, said Israel has lost its deterrence in the Middle East. Al Sharqawi said Israel's performance against Hizbullah elicited disappointment from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.

"The attempt by Israeli generals to restore their badly-beaten deterrence to please the American administration, their main ally and supporter, has failed miserably," Al Sharqawi said.

[Over the weekend, four Palestinians were killed in Jenin and near Kalkilya as they sought to assemble bombs. At least three of the Palestinians were said to have been members of Hamas.]

At the same time, Hamas has eclipsed the Fatah movement led by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Diskin said Fatah has reached its lowest point since the establishment of the Palestinian organization in 1964.

In the Gaza Strip, Diskin said, Hamas has eroded Fatah's leading force, the PA's Preventive Security Apparatus, led by Mohammed Dahlan. Diskin said the PSA has "crashed under Hamas pressure," with operatives injured or abducted on a weekly basis. As a result, PSA has sought an accommodation with Hamas.

"Fatah's situation is very serious," Diskin said. "It hasn't been in such a low ebb since its formation. If positive things from its perspective don't take place soon, chances are good that Fatah in Gaza will crumble and disappear. =

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Commentary on Post- Cease Fire Israel Situation
Arlene Kushner

The Jerusalem Post reported today that Kofi Annan is expected to recommend that the enlarged UNIFIL forces that will deploy in Lebanon will be given rules of engagement that permit opening fire on Hezbollah. This, I am assuming, comes as result of the extreme reluctance of European nations to take part in UNIFIL because of a vagueness in the mandate. (We can safely assume, I think, that the Muslim nations of Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh were less eager to fire on Hezbollah in any event.) Israel has been pushing for empowering UNIFIL this way.

-- According to an Al Jazeera website: "The Lebanese government, in an unprecedented move, has warned Hezbollah against violating the UN-brokered truce. In an implicit warning to the militia, Elias Murr, Lebanon's defense minister, said on Sunday that anyone who violated a cease-fire deal by firing rockets into Israel from Lebanon would be arrested and tried by a military court."

-- Bush is calling for speedy deployment of the international force.

-- In line with this, Italy's Prime Minister Romano Prodi has told United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan that Italy is prepared to lead a UN Force in southern Lebanon, in place of a very reluctant France.

-- Additionally, I now read that the Israeli Navy may blockade Lebanon for months, until that multinational force is fully in place, so that weapons cannot be smuggled to Hezbollah by sea.


It is also very good news that Moshe ("Bogie") Ya'alon is returning home. He'll be here on Thursday and is joining the Shalem Center, a right wing think tank here in Jerusalem, after time spent at the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs. Lt. General (ret.) Ya'alon was relieved of his position as IDF Chief of Staff for speaking out on the dangers of the "disengagement." He is a man of clarity of vision, and integrity.

Declared Ya'alon: "I am going back now but I don't want to speak politics. I am ready to speak substance, not to speak about this party or that party, but to speak out my mind." For him to speak out is fantastic. He says things like this:

"We in Israel prefer to deceive ourselves, to delude ourselves, to believe that by appeasement, by giving up territories, we will reach peace and tranquility. And we ignore the fact that on the other side in what is called the Palestinian Authority there was no, and there is no, leadership ready to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish independent state."

He gives every indication of intention to head into politics eventually, even though he has not yet officially affiliated with a particular party. Last week he gave an address for the right-wing Americans for a Safe Israel on the anniversary of the death of Jabotinsky. As Jabotinsky is an ideological founder of Likud, some are reading this as the first step in moving towards that party.

Bogie Ya'alon brings hope with him as he returns home. We are in need of a man with prestige and integrity who can help set things straight.


US and Israeli Intelligence picked up information about an Iranian plane taking off, which was due to cross Turkish air space, and which was carrying military equipment meant for Hezbollah. Turkish officials were alerted and shortly thereafter the planes returned to Iran and, according to Turkish sources, unloaded their cargo. Apparently Turkey has already intercepted several Iranian and Syrian ships in the Mediterranean that were carrying weaponry intended for Hezbollah.

According to the Arab daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat in London today, large amounts of rockets have been transferred from Iran to Syrian, with intent to rearm Hezbollah.


Barry Rubin offers some important thinking today as he examines the effect of the war on the Arab world:

There is one way, he says, in which Israel's deterrence power has actually been enhanced: Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc., looking at the degree of damage Israel inflicted in Lebanon (without even using its full force), will be disinclined to take on Israel directly in war.

However, deterrence has been diminished with regard to state sponsorship of terrorism and attacking Israel from someone else's territory. This means Syrian and Iranian promotion of the PLO and Hamas. The Syrians and Iranians are mindful of the fact that they escaped without repercussions from the war that their proxy Hezbollah waged. Says Rubin, "the number one danger to Israeli security emerging from this crisis would be . . . the large-scale arming of Hamas by Iran and Syria with rockets, advanced anti-tank weapons, and high-quality explosives. There is a real chance that the Lebanon northern front will be quiet for some years but no chance at all for a similar development on the Palestinian southern or eastern fronts . . .

"This resurgence of what might be called "evil hope" has set back any chance for Arab-Israeli peace . . . for a generation . . . Why compromise if you believe you can achieve total victory, revolution, and wipe Israel off the map with armed struggle and the manipulation of Western opinion?

"What is both sad and shocking is that few people outside the Middle East understand the devastating defeat suffered for progress due to the international position of, at best, neutrality in the war, and the consequent failure to help Israel, moderate Arab states, and freedom-loving Lebanese. As always in the Middle East, these mistakes will come back to haunt the globe for a long time to come."

This, most decidedly, is not good news. But makes it all the more imperative that our nation come to its senses and begin to draw on clear-eyed and strong leaders.

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