Sunday 29 August 2010

Playing Military Politics

It was hoped that the announcement of the appointment of Major General Yoav Galant as the 20th chief of general staff of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) would bring an end to the "Galantgate" scandal. This episode involved the release of a PR document into the public domain which, it turns out, is a forgery. Unfortunately, the announcement has not had the desired effect, and the issue has continued to gain headlines in the media. Despite its negative aspects, however, I am of the view that the scandalous behaviour also has a positive side to it.

The competition to become the next chief of staff of the IDF has been fierce. The current incumbent, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, will have served in the position for four years out of a possible maximum of five years by the time he is replaced in February 2011. The process of nominating his replacement has been highly politicised and controversial.

In the first place, it was regarded as unusual that defence minister Ehud Barak decided not to appoint Ashkenazi for a fifth year, as permitted under Israeli law. The chief of staff (or ramatkal as he is known in Hebrew) is appointed for an initial period of three years. At the end of that period, he can be appointed for further periods of one year each up to a maximum of five years. Ashkenazi was not viewed to have made any major mistakes during his first period of time in the position. On the contrary, he was the one who oversaw substantial changes to the IDF following the lessons learned from the Second Lebanon War, and showed that he had successfully implemented them during the IDF's activities Operation Cast Lead. As such, there seemed to be no operational reason why Ashkenazi should not have the support of the politicians to see out a full five year term. Politics, it seems, intervened to cause the minister of defence to decide that four years would be enough for him. The only plausible reason offered by the press for this decision was the fact that the two men do not enjoy the best personal relationship.

Minister of defence Barak then announced his short list of candidates to succeed Ashkenazi. They were Yoav Galant (OC Southern Command), Gadi Shamni (military attaché in Washington), Benny Gantz (deputy chief of general staff) and Gadi Eizenkot (OC northern command). During the process of interviewing the candidates, a mystery document suddenly appeared in the public domain. The document was on headed paper of the Eyal Arad agency, a well-known local public relations agency with strong political connections and a track record of working effectively in the political arena. The document is reputed to outline a PR campaign to promote Yoav Galant in his efforts to become the next chief of general staff. It is generally regarded as inappropriate for the generals to go to such lengths to promote their candidacy for chief of general staff. It is regarded as unacceptable for generals to involve themselves with politicians to try to influence the view that the politicians hold, and their decisions, which affect the IDF. The discovery of his document gave birth to "Galantgate".

After further investigation, the police concluded that neither Galant nor Arad were involved in the preparation and circulation of the document. They have now arrested retired Lt. Col. Boaz Harpaz who is reported to have admitted to his role in fraudulently producing and distributing the document. He is currently being held by police. The act of forging a document and distributing it in this way is to be abhorred, and the culprits should be subject to all punishments available under the law. It is still unclear whether Harpaz's intention was to harm Galant or to promote him. In the event, the only impact that it seems to have had on his appointment to the top IDF position, is to encourage the minister of defence to advance the timing of his announcement in an attempt to defuse the situation.

On the face of it, the whole episode seems quite sordid. The series of events, from the decision by Ehud Barak to decide to replace Ashkenazi only for personal reasons, to the Galant document leave little to feel proud about. After all, the appointment of the right chief of staff for the IDF could have an impact on Israel's continued existence in the community of nations. Israel's very future depends upon making the correct appointment to this important position. This fact, however, also allows us to view the events in a slightly different light.

In many countries around the world, heading up the armed forces is a purely ceremonial position. It is a position that enjoys high levels of public recognition and standing, without carrying significant responsibility. In many countries, whether the army is an effective fighting unit or not makes little difference to the country and its future. This situation is clearly not the case in Israel. The position of ramatkal is one of the most critical in Israel. The level of responsibility that goes with this position could scare off even the bravest of soldiers. The wrong appointment to ramatkal, or the wrong decision by the ramatkal could be the difference between Israel succeeding in fighting off her enemies or not. It could be the difference between having a Jewish nation, and not having one.

Under the circumstances, it is heartening to see how much competition there is from those wishing to take on this high-risk position. Despite the possibility that one small error could risk lives of soldiers and citizens, and the future of the country as a whole, there are many people out there able and willing to take on this responsibility. Unfortunately, this is also accompanied by a willingness to go to unethical, and even criminal, lengths to secure the appointment. There is no doubt that the public standing and privileges associated with the job are highly attractive. Nonetheless, the weight of responsibility surely outweighs any benefits that the ramatkal enjoys.

This willingness to take on a tough challenge with high risk and responsibility is shown to be present throughout the ranks of the IDF. We even see it with the new recruits, many of whom are now being enlisted, and their willingness to volunteer themselves for the elite (and most dangerous) units in the IDF. It is surprising as much as it is heartening to see how many of our young men and women are eager to make a real "difference" in the IDF by serving on the front line in the combat units, without thinking about the danger that it brings to themselves. Their enthusiasm is such that we see groups of youths undertaking physical fitness training throughout the hot summer months, to ensure that they are physically ready for the day when they enlist and are called upon to serve their country. Although it is obvious that these young people have a clear understanding of the risks confronting Israel and of the importance of the IDF in combating these threats, it still never ceases to impress me when I see the seriousness and the enthusiasm with which they enlist. The same can be said of most of the new recruits, whether they are slated for front line or back-of-the-house jobs. The army would never survive with only combat soldiers, and all soldiers play an important role in the effective defence of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

In a strange way, the fierce competition and some of the dirty tricks employed to promote one candidate over the others for ramatkal is vitally important. It sends a clear message to thousands of soldiers, permanent force and conscripts alike, that serving in the IDF is something to be proud of and to fight for. The competition for positions that we see at the top is multiplied many times down the ranks, and even to those who are yet to enlist.

I fear the day when the position of ramatkal does not attract competition. Although it would be better to see a clean (and legal) fight amongst the candidates, the fact that so many people are so eager to fill the position surely bodes well for Israel. This fact is sent as a message to all others in the IDF about the pride associated with serving in this organisation. While I do not wish to condone dirty tricks in any way, I sure feel proud of the fight that Israelis are prepared to put up in order to have the right to serve the Jewish nation. While the police continue to hold Boaz Harpaz in custody and decide how he will be brought to justice for his role in the affair, he has succeeded in showing that the fight to be the best, and to serve the State of Israel, remains throughout the ranks of the IDF.

Sunday 22 August 2010

The BBC Has Not Suddenly Become Pro-Israel

Israel's relationship with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been tenuous to say the least. The BBC has been accused in the past by Israel and Israelis of adopting an anti-Israel stand at every opportunity. This attitude, it seems, is a simple extension of the view adopted by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office which has always had a strong bias towards the Arab world. This view has not lived well alongside any support for Israel, and the Arabists have always seemed to have the upper hand in dictating the foreign office's policies in the Middle East, and its general attitude towards Israel.

As one of the best-known broadcasting corporations in the world and one of the premier international news organisations, it was always expected that the BBC would retain impartiality and report the news including all relevant facts and without bias. Israelis have long felt that this impartiality has not been exercised when reporting news about Israel. Somehow, the BBC has succeeded in omitting critical relevant facts in relation to a story, or misreported information which always serve to present Israel in a more negative light. Israelis became fed up with this situation a few years ago, and began turning off the BBC news channel from their TV sets. Appeals to have the BBC news channel removed entirely from the channels offered by cable and satellite TV providers in Israel were unsuccessful, but it is safe to say that this news channel has far fewer Israeli viewers today than it had a few years ago. This is despite the fact that Israelis are avid news watchers and do like to keep up to date with international events.

Against this background, the BBC aired a program on Monday 16th August 2010 covering the Gaza flotilla raid. The report was broadcast on the BBC's documentary program Panorama. As a general rule, Panorama has a good name for its ability to research matters in some depth, and get to the bottom of issues that others may not dare to investigate. It is a long-running BBC flagship weekly program with a solid reputation. Israel's own history with Panorama reflects its overall relationship with the BBC. The last time Israel was covered on Panorama was in January 2010 when Panorama ran a documentary about tensions in East Jerusalem in the area near to the old city. In that program, BBC reporter Jane Corbin succeeded in promoting a one-sided and biased agenda, showing a distortion of Jewish history and Jewish rights to Jerusalem. So when it became clear that "Death on the Med", Panorama's investigation into the Gaza flotilla raid would again be presented by Jane Corbin, expectations were low. This was especially the case when considering the way in which Israel has been roundly criticised in the international media for the events of the Gaza flotilla raid which left nine Turkish activists dead.

The Panorama program featuring Jane Corbin's reporting has surprised us all, and may even cause one or two Israelis to give the BBC a second thought. The program succeeded in giving a "warts and all" insight into the IHH, the organisation that sponsored the Gaza flotilla, and into Israel's elite Naval Command 13 that had the responsibility to take over the flotilla to prevent it from entering the waters of Gaza. Interviews were undertaken with activists who were on the ship, and exclusive footage was shown which has reinforced the Israeli Navy's claim that not all those aboard the Mavi Marmara were simply peace activists. In addition, exclusive interviews were conducted with some of the IDF commandos involved in the raid about their experiences of events once they went aboard the Mavi Marmara. These interviews were backed up with new footage from the IDF showing events on that fateful night, as well as exclusive interviews with Major General (retired) Giora Eiland, who was responsible for the IDF investigation into the raid. He was open about sharing his conclusions regarding the raid, and revealed areas where he feels the IDF went wrong. He was also happy to share his views about the scene that greeted the naval commandos when they boarded the ships, and the limited choices available to them to save themselves from being lynched.

Jane Corbin's conclusions in Death on the Med were clear. The Mavi Marmara was not simply a ship that was being used to bring supplies to the unfortunate residents of Gaza. Rather, it was used a political tool to confront and embarrass Israel. A group of approximately forty of the activists on board the ship were shown as being ready to resort to violence, and were prepared to use weapons to achieve this. When Jane examined the goods that were brought by the Gaza flotilla, many of which are still stored in a warehouse in Gaza, two thirds of the medicines that were offloaded were found to be beyond their expiry date.

As can be expected, the anti-Israel lobby went into action to criticise the BBC for the program. Numerous accusations were levelled in justification of this criticism. The fact that Jane focused only on events that took place on the Mavi Marmara, and not on any of the other 6 ships in the flotilla, was found to be unjustified. The BBC was even criticised for having the "audacity" to broadcast the program during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and at a time in the evening that many Muslims would not see it due to the fact that they would be breaking their daily fast. When the BBC was critical of Israel, the Muslim lobby felt satisfied that it represented their views. Now that it has finally shown the real truth behind the Gaza flotilla, it comes under heavy Muslim criticism. Perhaps the fact that the usually anti-Israel BBC has concluded that the Gaza flotilla was not really an attempt to help the people of Gaza has finally exposed the real truth.

Whatever the conclusions in Death on the Med, I would not yet be jumping to conclusions regarding the BBC's general approach to Israel. I am not yet of the view that the BBC has suddenly adopted a pro-Israel bias. The truth is that I am not asking that the BBC go out of its way to be pro-Israeli. All I ask is that the BBC presents all the relevant facts in an unbiased and professional way. It is my belief that doing this will mostly show Israel to be doing its best to defend herself from those wishing to destroy her, and acting in a fair and humanitarian way even towards her enemies despite all that she is forced to tolerate. If the BBC was fair in its reporting, it would add that no country in our day and age should have to tolerate having its right to exist questioned, or to have to endure missile attacks on its innocent civilians on a daily basis.

No matter what it has broadcast in the past, or what it may broadcast in the future, the BBC deserves kudos for Death on the Med. The jury, however, is still out regarding the BBC's overall approach to Israel.

Death on the Med is definitely worth viewing. It is available on YouTube in two parts below.

Saturday 14 August 2010

When Israeli Youth Grow Up

Israeli youth generally have a bad name amongst their peers around the world for being undisciplined, for not showing respect to others and for generally lacking manners. This results from the laissez-faire manner in which Israeli society allows them to grow up. Children in Israel seem to be allowed to do almost as they please without any restrictions. There seem to be no boundaries or red lines drawn to provide these children with the framework that they require if we are to believe the child behaviour experts.

The attitude towards children in Israel, we are told, arises from historical events in the years immediately preceding the declaration of the State of Israel, and events since then. After the annihilation of 6 million Jews during the Second World War, children took on a much greater level of significance in the period following the Holocaust. The children were the future to rebuilding the gaping hole left by the victims of the Holocaust. They were all that was left of almost an entire generation destroyed. During the 62 years of the existence of the State of Israel, the daily threat to her very existence has forced Israel to act to defend herself and secure her continued presence in the community of nations. To achieve this, Israel has been forced to build an army made up of the youth of Israel. The responsibility that rests on the shoulders of these young men and women when they enlist in the IDF at the age of 18 or 19 years old is immense. These young people are forced to act in the heat of the battle, and are forced to witness things in a way which no young person of similar age should be forced to experience. This compels Israeli youth to grow up overnight to be able to cope with this, and put their childhood behind them very quickly. But this the reality of modern-day Israel.

The importance of these children to Israel and the Jewish people is reflected by the way in which they are treated in Israeli society. They are allowed to "be children" in every sense of the word. They have free reign to do as they please, and to experience anything and everything that they wish. Society bows down before them and makes no attempt to limit them or their behaviour in any way. After all, far too many of our children have had their lives cut short at an early age and we wish to allow them to do all that their heart desires for fear of the possibility that they may not have the chance to get older and experience these things later on. Even, though this approach goes against all the theories of good child-raising, these theories don't take into consideration the Israeli reality, or that such a situation could ever exist in the 21st century. Despite doing all the "wrong things" in raising our children, we see our young people enlist in the IDF and form one of the world's most effective fighting units. Who would ever think that Jewish kids raised in such circumstances could form such a formidable army? The reality is there for all to see.

I have been honoured to witness another impressive phenomenon that comes out of a country that raises its youth in all the "wrong ways". I was proud to be at the Nahal Memorial one evening last week to be present at the opening ceremony for the current year of voluntary service under the framework of Israel's Scouting movement. I saw 480 young men and women from the Scout movement across Israel complete their training seminar, and embark upon a year which will take them to needy and underprivileged communities in the heartland of Israel and in the outlying areas. Their task is to volunteer their year to helping needy Israeli youth. While they are, of course, also attempting to grow the Israeli Scout movement through their work, there is a clear brief to devote their time to the community at large. This represents an amazing resource to these communities, and to the State of Israel. In total, approximately 2,000 young men and women will be volunteering across Israel as part of a number of different programs. This represents an amazing resource to these communities, and to the State of Israel.

The decision by these young people to take this year off to volunteer their time is not trivial. They are all youth who still have compulsory military training ahead of them - 3 years for the boys and 2 years for the girls. Many of them will wish to attend institutions of higher education to earn university degrees, which means that they will be 25 or 26 years old before they can truly embark on their life journey. The year of voluntary service extends the process by a further year. And yet they have decided to this with huge energy and enthusiasm. They are so eager to make their contribution, and to make a difference to the communities in which they will live for the next year. The truth is that even those who do not undertake such voluntary work will go into the IDF to serve their country. Many of these young people volunteer for front-line positions and fighting units for the period of their national service. Considering the number of child-rearing mistakes made by Israeli parents, the children who come out of the system have some amazing qualities when it comes to serving the State of Israel. By contrast, countries that do stick to the recognised child-rearing rules don't necessarily seem to produce generations of children that are noticeably better than Israeli children.

As I scanned the scene at the Nahal Memorial and focused on the young volunteers, my pride was swelled even more when I saw my own son amongst their number. I have enormous respect for his decision to devote his year to this fantastic cause. When I saw the families and friends that had come to support these young men and women, I could not help thinking about the environment that they have grown up in, and all the things that are wrong with child-rearing in Israel. Somehow, however, these families and many others like them seem to have got it right.

It is my wish that the young volunteers will be successful in all their endeavours, and will inspire others to do the same. Their selflessness is to be admired and respected. We, the parents, and the State of Israel are immensely proud of them, and truly appreciate the spirit of volunteering and willingness to serve their greater community.

Sunday 8 August 2010

The Tree That Almost Started a War

Events on the northern border of Israel last week have demonstrated just how fragile the ceasefire with Lebanon really is. This, in turn, mirrors the fragility of the relationships that exist around the Middle East, not only between Israel and the Arab countries that surround her, but also between the Arab countries themselves. This fragility has reached a point where the situation has become totally ridiculous.

Since the end of the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006, a fragile peace has held between Israel and Lebanon. UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) was deployed to police the implementation of the UN resolutions that were passed calling for maintenance of the peace. Despite this, Hezbollah has succeeded in rearming itself to levels beyond those prior to the war, in clear transgression of the UN resolutions. Numerous transgressions have been reported to UNIFIL by both parties. Somehow, however, the peace has held up to now. Last week's incident was the closest that the situation has come to bubbling over into a war again. This was all precipitated by something as unlikely as a tree growing along the border fence.

In last week's incident, Israeli soldiers approached the border fence with Lebanon with the intention of trimming back a tree growing along the fence. The gardening activity had been previously coordinated with UNIFIL and this had in turn been relayed to the Lebanese army. As such, all parties along the border should have anticipated the arrival of the Israeli soldiers to trim back the offending tree. Despite this fact, the work by the IDF soldiers attracted angry attention from the Lebanese army soldiers on the north side of the border, all in full view of UNIFIL soldiers stationed there. Senior Israeli officers were sent to a lookout post along that stretch of the border to oversee the events and to try to diffuse the tension. Instead, a Lebanese sniper fired at the lookout post, killing one officer and seriously wounding another. This act of aggression on the part of the Lebanese army was met with Israeli tank fire, and also an air force attack on Lebanese army positions in Southern Lebanon. Two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist were killed in the Israeli response. At this stage, the situation might easily have escalated into all-out war. Fortunately, sense prevailed and the parties stepped back from the brink. A tripartite meeting between UNIFIL, the Lebanese army and the IDF ensured that there was no further violence and war was avoided.

In analysing the situation from a slight distance, a number of questions can be asked. The first question is why the IDF was so insistent on trimming the tree that started the conflict? Surely, this seemingly unimportant activity may have been forgone in the interests of preserving peace along the border. Linked to this is the question as to why the Lebanese took such offence to the trimming of the tree? Although I don't have the official answer to this question, I can only speculate about the importance of trimming the tree. I suspect that the tree probably disrupted the clear view of the Israelis into Lebanon, and their attempts to ensure that the border area is kept clear. An alternative is that the tree may have disrupted the view by Israeli cameras into Lebanon. As such, the trimming of the tree was critical to maintaining security along the border fence. For the same reason, the Lebanese may have been unwilling to allow Israel to clear the tree.

A possibility was raised that the Lebanese sniper was a lone rogue soldier, and not acting on orders from higher up. The Lebanese government had the opportunity to disown his actions, but rather took responsibility for them and even defended the sniper fire. It is of note that Israel's traditional enemy on the Lebanese border, Hezbollah, seems not to have been involved in the incident at all. I say this somewhat half-heartedly as I understand that the Lebanese army does have fairly substantial representation from Hezbollah fighters. It may be possible that the sniper, whose shots resulted in the death of four people and serious injury to one, may have had links to Hezbollah.

To be fair to the UN on this occasion, they came out quite quickly defending Israel, and confirming that it had acted correctly. This was strongly supported by the US administration, although the European countries were auspiciously silent. The Lebanese government, by contrast, continued to claim that Israel was to blame, and that its sniper was justified in his shooting of the Israeli officer.

These events serve to remind us how ridiculous the situation is in the Middle East. It seems crazy that an event as unremarkable as trimming a tree could force countries to the brink of war. As much as Israel has managed to survive for more than 60 years, in some ways, she seems less secure now than she was on the day that independence was declared. Ultimately, the Israeli government and the IDF understands that we can only rely on ourselves for our protection. We are extremely fortunate that this point is well understood, and that the IDF and our soldiers are fully prepared for every event.

Sunday 1 August 2010

Israeli Air Disaster in Romania

It has been a tough week for the Israeli Air Force (IAF), and for the State of Israel in general. We have finally buried six of our brightest and most talented young men who were killed during a helicopter crash in Romania during an air training exercise there. The exercise turned into a full search and rescue effort when one of the training helicopters flew into a cliff in bad weather. All 6 Israeli airmen and a Romanian colleague were killed instantly.

Inevitably, the tragedy has raised many questions within the defence establishment in Israel, and within the IAF in particular. One question is whether the Sikorsky CH-53 helicopter, known in the IAF as the "Yasur" helicopter, is past its sell-by date. The Yasur was first supplied to the IAF by the USA in 1969, and there are currently 38 Yasurs in the fleet. After 40 years of dedicated service, and having participated in most of Israel's wars and many combat missions, the IAF recently embarked upon the Yasur 2025 program to upgrade the existing fleet of Sikorskies so that they can continue in active service until 2025. This program is designed to bring improvements to the helicopter hulls and avionics systems. A debate has now ongoing as to whether the decision to continue to use the Sikorsky with the upgrades is the correct one. The truth is that there is currently no direct replacement available for this transport chopper, especially for its ability to carry up to 55 soldiers at a time. Sikorsky has announced that it is manufacturing a new transporter helicopter, but it will take some time yet until it is available. I expect that the commission of inquiry that has been appointed to examine the accident in Romania will go some way towards addressing this issue.

A further question that has been raised concerns the IAF's accident record. The Yasur has previously been involved in two crashes in Israel. In 1977, a Yasur came down in the Jordan Valley killing all 54 soldiers and flight crew on board. In 1997, two Yasur helicopters crashed into each other shortly after lift-off carrying IDF soldiers heading for the war zone in Southern Lebanon. In this crash, 73 lives were lost. Despite these crashes, and others that the Israeli Air Force has suffered involving other aircraft, the IAF commander Major General Ido Nehushtan said that the IAF is one of the top air forces in the world in terms of flight safety. He quoted an accident record for the IAF of 1.5 accidents for every 100,000 flying hours. It is difficult to judge whether this is a good record or not due to the lack of air force accident league tables. I can only assume that the commander of the air force would not make a statement of this type without being able to back up his statement. It is noticeable, however, that he was forced to make this statement in defence of the IAF accident record in view of the undercurrent of questions that are being raised about this.

Another question that is being asked is what the IAF was doing training in Romania. It transpires that the IAF has been training recently in a number of different locations, and in conjunction with a number of different air forces. Why is this being done, and what benefit does the IAF derived from such activities? Israel, being a small country, has limited air space in which air force training can take place. Israel's desert-like landscape and the hot and dry conditions which prevail most of the year mean that the terrain and weather conditions in Israel for training helicopter pilots are also very limited. In order for Israeli pilots to be ready for all events, and for the possibility of having to carry out missions in foreign locations, it is essential that they have trained and accumulated relevant experience in the required conditions. To achieve this, there is no choice but for the IAF to send its pilots abroad for training exercises. Unconfirmed reports have suggested that the Romanian landscape in the Carpathian Mountains was found to be ideal for simulating conditions that may be found in Iran. It was deemed necessary to accumulate experience in these conditions for obvious reasons.

It was interesting to read the accounts of Israeli journalists who went to Romania to report on the search and rescue mission. They found an air force base that hardly had any security to protect it. The practices of the local air force seemed fairly primitive in comparison to those of the IAF. Fortunately for Romania, its air force is not engaged in a battle for the continued existence of its country and its people. The difference in atmosphere at this base in comparison to Israeli air force bases reflects this fact. Under the circumstances, the arrival of the Israeli training crew is likely to have been something of a surprise to their Romanian counterparts. The surprise would have been even greater with the arrival of the search and rescue teams, particularly the elite 669 search and rescue unit that undertook the recovery of the wreckage and the bodies of the victims. Unfortunately, Israel is well experienced in such exercises, and the mobilisation effort even in far-flung Romania showed the experience.

I suspect that the Romanian military will have witnessed something outside of their regular routine activities over the past week. Despite the fact that this exercise was carried out against the backdrop of an enormous tragedy, interaction with compatriots from other countries at this level can only create goodwill for the IDF and for Israel. I can imagine that carrying out exercises in Greece or with the US air force builds friendships and positive feeling and, with it, positive PR for Israel. The value of this should not be underestimated.

Our hearts go out to the families in Israel and Romania who have lost loved ones in the accident, and we join in their mourning and their grief. The Israeli families and the IAF have been devastated by the tragedy. Those who were lost were dedicated to their task of defending the State of Israel and to their families. Both in life and now in death, they have brought enormous credit to Israel. They will, no doubt, inspire a new generation of helicopter pilots who will wish to fill the large shoes that they have left behind.

המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבלי ציון וירושלים
May the Omnipresent comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.