Monday, March 24, 2008

Purim tragedy-to keep informed

this weekend we had a lovely lunch with a palestinian, his wife and kids.
it was the perfect end to our Purim.
however the following was happening in israel.

Package had exploded in Ariel home of Christian pastor, causing his 16-year-old son serious injuries.
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1205420759947

http://www.israeltoday.co.il/default.aspx?tabid=178&nid=15518Headline NewsFriday, March 21, 2008 by Staff WriterMessianic Jews voice concerns following Ariel bombingIsraeli Messianic Jewish leaders voiced long-standing complaints of their community's mistreatment following Thursday's bombing of a Messianic minister's home in the Samarian Jewish town of Ariel.The bomb was concealed in a traditional Purim gift basket and left on the doorstep of David and Leah Ortiz. Their 15-year-old son suffered severe shrapnel wounds to his neck when he went to retrieve the deadly package.The working assumption remains that the attack was carried out by Palestinian Arab Muslim terrorists, who have threatened the Ortiz family on numerous occasions in the past over their ongoing efforts to bring local Muslims to faith in Yeshua.However, some Messianic figures are not ruling out the possibility that the attack was perpetrated by extremist Orthodox Jews who insist the Messianic Jews are "Gentile Christians" in disguise and are out to "steal Israel's soul."Roni, an Ortiz family friend and fellow Messianic believer, told Ynet following the attack that "Messianic Jews suffer a lot of harassment and from other types of violence – burning down meeting places, pestering (us) at home, the publishing of announcements with featuring our pictures and more."Roni said the community would like to believe that Thursday's bombing could never be carried out by fellow Jews, regardless of how strongly they oppose Jewish faith in Yeshua and in spite of other acts of violence perpetrated against Messianics by Orthodox Jews in the past.But Caleb Meyers, the primary legal representative for Israel's Messianic community, explained that "there is a campaign of harassment against the Messianic Jewish community by radical religious organizations that are trying to create dehumanization – especially in religious newspapers."Propaganda that aims to dehumanize Messianic believers could produce in the minds of some radical Orthodox Jews a kind of justification for carrying out the bombing of an innocent family.more sources:http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3521856,00.htmlhttp://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/343345.aspxhttp://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2008/03/purim-custom-ab.htmlFrom the Jerusalem Post
Anti-missionaries suspected in attack
Police investigating the sending of a package which exploded in the home of a Christian pastor in Ariel are leaning toward the theory that a Jewish anti-missionary was behind the attack, the preacher told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
David Oritz's 16-year-old son, Ami, sustained serious injuries in the blast, after opening the package, which was made to look like a Purim gift.
"They [the police], as far as I understand, do not suspect Palestinian terrorism. They suspect a Jewish anti-missionary motive," Oritz told the Post by phone from his Ariel home, minutes after returning from the hospital.
"At the start of the investigation, they went in the direction of Palestinian terrorism. Now they're going in the other direction," he added.
Judea and Samaria Police spokesman Ch.-Supt. Dani Poleg said he could not comment on the investigation due to a court-imposed media blackout, in force since Friday.
Ami's life was no longer in danger, his father said, but he was still suffering from serious injuries all over his body.
"His neck had an eight-inch [20-cm.] gash like someone slit his throat. He has a ruptured lung. Doctors had to operate on his tongue. He has second-degree burns to his chest and arms, and there is no flesh on the thighs," Oritz said, adding that doctors were forced to amputate two toes. "They're trying to continue to make sure that he won't lose his arms and legs. His whole body is full of fragments of shrapnel," he said.
Oritz described the moments after the explosion when the teenager's mother, Leah, "saw flames coming out of the windows after going downstairs to throw out the garbage." After running upstairs, Leah saw "her son on the floor. She held his neck and she kept the wound closed with her hands." Using her paramedic training, "she made a hole so he could breathe. Then the ambulance driver who arrived kept him alive. When we got to hospital, he was operated on in five places," Oritz said, adding that he considered his son's recovery to be "a miracle." Oritz's Jewish-born wife, Leah, is a member of Jews for Jesus. The pastor says dozes of families in Ariel have been influenced by his teachings. "We have about 50 families," he declared.
He described a long history of tensions with anti-missionary activists in Ariel, which included flyers and a petition calling for the family to leave the city.
"My neighbor said he had been told by religious Jews that if we were the only ones living in this building, they would have bombed it," Oritz said. "When we first came into this town, the rabbi visited us and told me I was not allowed to talk about Yeshua [Jesus] outside of my apartment. I told him that as far I know, this is not a crime in this country. This is a democratic country, people can say whatever they want outside their house," Oritz said.
"They put posters all over town warning residents to keep away from us and calling for us to be excommunicated, and there was a demonstration in front of our house. If all my neighbors had signed the petition calling on us to leave, I would have to leave by law. Some of my neighbors refused to sign," he added.
Four of Oritz's children have completed their military service in the IDF, he said. "I have served in the reserves for 15 years. I was shot at and stoned in Nablus. All of my children went to school here, they are normal children, we are normal people. Ami is the captain of his school basketball team."
Rabbi Dov Lif****z, chairman of the Yad L'Achim anti-missionary organization, said he doubted that Jews were behind the bombing.
"Someone who thinks logically will not do this. It just harms the struggle. I'm sure this is not connected to the anti-missionary cause," he told the Post.
If the culprit is Jewish, the bomber "is either crazy or does not understand the struggle," Lif****z added.
He estimated that Christian missionaries have succeeded in converting around 15,000 Jews to Christianity in Israel, adding that the missionaries target those "without defense - people ignorant of Judaism, such as Russian immigrants, and the lonely. This is why they succeeded, in a Jewish state, unbelievably. They have 120 branches in Israel," he said, blaming the Jewish Agency and the government for failing to provide a Jewish education to new immigrants.
"We are now pushing for legislation that would make it illegal for members of any religion to try and convert others to their faith," Lif****z said. "Our struggle isn't against anyone. What we're saying is, we are Jews. Let us be Jews. Christians should remain Christians. In our 50 years of activity, we've never had any violence. We have a big argument with messianic Jews, but that doesn't include violence," Lif****z said.

UPDATE
Hi all,

There has been a wonderful outpouring of response for Ami Ortiz and his family - emails, phone calls - the meals are being brought like clockwork, and people are constantly asking where to send financial gifts.

You guys have no idea how much strength you are bringing to this family in their hour of need. And no one is trying to push forward their own name or ministry, each one is coming just to serve up whatever they have from the Lord.

It's Body networking at its best. We at Restorers are privileged to help, but you all are the REAL "Restorers of Zion" here!

Local believers -- If you would like to bring food to the hospital, just coordinate with me for which day, so that we can do this efficiently.

Ami's condition

"Ami is out of danger - he will make it. But he has a long road ahead of him in order to recover." Those were the words of one surgical nurse, after they took Ami in this morning to clean his wounds. Now that the life-threatening things are taken care of, they are dealing with other problems, one at a time.

Another miracle - one eye is unhurt! I have no idea how that happened, and neither do the doctors. When a bomb goes off in front of you and peppers your face with sharp, hot metal shards (deliberately embedded in the explosives to maximize the killing power), that is usually The End of Everything, never mind worrying about your eyesight. They pulled a sharp piece out of the other eye, and are waiting for the swelling to go down to see if the nerve is okay (there's a chance). A matter for focused prayer.

They were worried about his lungs not functioning (and not knowing why). Now they have discovered why - both Ami's lungs have steel bolts embedded in them... 10 altogether. One lung is still collapsed, and they are trying hard to restore it. Another specific prayer.

The biggest needs for prayer are for his limbs - so many gashes and burned places, especially his legs. They have discovered a torn tendon in one hand too, which I understand is complicated to repair. But the Lord is hearing and answering... Big Time! I'm imagining the doctors must be embarrassed at how often they have to resort to the word "miracle" because unexpected improvements keep happening. On the other hand, they are just thrilled to see this boy's progress.

The condition of the apartment

The blast did a lot of damage to the kitchen, most of the salon, part of the upstairs, and blew out a lot of windows. There are holes in the refrigerator door left by chunks of metal, and a gaping hole in the dining table, shaped like the "gift" basket... The walls are gouged by the shrapel. The electricity and phone upstairs aren't working. Yet somehow the living room sofa and the TV escaped damage, and the phone downstairs works. So to those who have asked about damage and what might need replacing, I have to say, "stand by until the dust settles."

Thank the Lord the house is insured. One brother has directed the replacement of the window glass, and that was going on today. Others are pitching in to clean up.

One sad thing is that their dog, Dusty, survived the blast but is not doing well. He doesn't look injured, but he appears to have gone deaf and he's not eating. So many little tragedies you wouldn't expect, surrounding the big one.

The investigation

I just saw Israel Channel 2 interview one of Ami's brothers (past army age). It was live on the 6:00 evening news. The anchorwoman was very sympathetic, made it clear how cruel and unfair the attack was, and let him steer the interview. She mentioned Messianic Jews a couple of times as well - everyone in Israel knows that this faith had something to do with the attack.

The camera didn't show his face and didn't give his full name, emphasizing the image of a family being hounded by a killer. Very effective... and I believe it was a good strategy, because a sympathetic public will be more likely to pass on any information they have that might catch the perpetrators.

There is still no conclusive evidence about who left the bomb, only that its maker was "a professional". But on Shabbat I learned something new that made me go sick inside.

I spent some time that day with the sweet lady who cleans the Ortiz house, also a believer. She was overcome with double guilt - first, because she was the one who had brought the package in from the front doorstep... (this is a normal reaction, though it's not logical, and it can be very strong - you always think that somehow you could have prevented it) and also because she had left just before the bomb was triggered (the tormenting question, "why did God save me, but not him?"). I helped her work through those feelings - and for that I owe thanks to yet another Israeli sister, Lynn Halamish (a professional trauma counselor who donated several hours last year to give Restorers members some valuable training in this field). But just as the distressed sister started feeling better, I started feeling worse. Because she was describing how the bomb had looked.

I wrote in an earlier update that it wasn't a normal "mishloach manot" (Purim food gift). I was wrong. It was SO "normal" that no one could have known the difference!

The label saying "happy Purim" in Hebrew was decorated with innocent smiling faces and colorful letters. The whole top half was transparent cellophane, and you could see the chocolates inside... Who could have been so cold-blooded as to bait it with real candy -- and so cynical they could sit there and draw smiley faces all over it? I almost threw up at the thought.

The investigation is moving forward. They are working with the surveillance camera images (I won't say more than that). The two possibilities are still there - either an Arab terrorist or an extremely violent Jewish group. There was a Palestinian group that claimed responsibility according to Arab TV (Al Aksa Brigade), but that is not conclusive proof - they have been known to make fictitious claims just to boost their popularity. Hamas has bragged to the media about a new plan to infiltrate settlements using Israeli Arabs (who can move freely around Israel), and we have around 400 Arab students going to the University here in town. But that is circumstantial. There is a lot of talk about extreme orthodox groups, which live in the area and do not disguise their hostility against believers. But no matter how violent, I have never heard of any Jew packing metal shards and bolts into a bomb - much less use it on fellow Israelis.

The thing to pray is that the Lord (who knows EXACTLY who is responsible) will push the guilty parties out into the light. Or better, that they will be so overcome with the fear of Heaven and guilt that they will give themselves up. First to God, and then to the authorities.

Thank you all again for your responses and desire to uphold this family who is part of the Israeli Body. I will try to keep everyone informed as I am able. Feel free to forward this to whoever knows how to pray.

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