Monday, March 2, 2015

Randomly Offensive Opinions

BJ sent the following comment...I decided I wanted to answer it and so I put it here. She (I don't actually know if she is a she or a he, but it feels like a she, so I'll go with that)...wrote:

I have been reading your blog for years and have been quiet about some of your more offensive opinions.
Well, thanks for reading my blog for years...and honestly, you don't have to be quiet. If something is offensive to you, knock yourself out...tell me. And hey, don't limit yourself only to my "more offensive opinions" - love to hear them all...
You are constantly harping on President Barack....dare I use his middle name.... You sound like an American Tea Party representative, ignorant beyond belief, uneducated and truly offensive.
Hey, don't hold off on using his middle name on my account. As for what I sound like - I'd rather you label me a concerned Jew, an Israeli. Someone who cares about the future of my country and people and someone whose sons have and, God help them (and me), are likely to put their lives on the line in the future. I personally don't think that anything I say is uneducated - Columbia University degree and all that....and as for truly offensive, I'd probably want to turn that around and wonder where you are in your life that makes my criticizing Obama's behavior offensive. If anything, I'd think Obama's behavior is what is offensive.
Although in not a long speech, but a speech, never the less, YOU pounce on a SINGLE word in the entire speech. 
His specific comment was "a random bunch of folks in a deli" - so to be fair and accurate, I pretty much am against the entire phrase. Random - not by a long shot. "A bunch of folks" - he makes it sound like they were gathering for a picnic - they were attacked and four were murdered. And, for the record, it wasn't a deli, it was a supermarket; a place they came to shop not have a good meal out with friends.

Out of how many Kosher groceries, synagogues or Jewish owned businesses in Paris, why was this place chosen as a place to commit these horrible acts? Do you know? Of course, you do not. Definitely chosen because it was Jewish, but why in all the targets in Paris and its surrounding area was this particular place chosen? Proximity, ease of escaping after the crime--Who knows? It was random. 

Now this is seriously offensive and sort of creative at the same time. You really should consider joining the State Department or the White House - even they didn't think of this absurd definition for random. Wow, seriously? So it was random because the terrorist just happened to pick THAT Jewish store as opposed to another Jewish one? Oh my about uneducated!
What is not random is the absolute departure of over 200 years of protocol, being invited by the Office of the President, or the US State Department in order to attempt to influence both countries elections.
Two hundred years of protocol? You have any proof of that statement? You think the US President has been inviting foreign leaders for 200 years? So, like the US President would invite the King of France, who would leave his country for like what two months, to sail across the Atlantic, speak to Congress and then sail back? Had you claimed maybe 70-80 years, you might at least have been credible...200 years? That number sounds pretty random to me.

And so, you want to tell me that Congress has never invited anyone to speak before a combined meeting of the Congressional leaders?

And think that Netanyahu is trying to influence "both countries elections?" - Impressive. He might be trying to influence Israel's elections by acting like a strong leader, one concerned with the safety of his country. Gotta give you a point on that one. But how exactly is he influencing US elections? By making Obama look like a child having a temper tantrum?
That is Not RANDOM. That is a politician (not a statesman)deliberatly out for political gain without exercising good judgement about his actions.
Well, I'll give you that - Netanyahu is not randomly going to Washington. He was invited to speak, to present Israel's knowledge of Iran as compared to Obama. Politician? Okay, have to agree there - pretty much all the parties involved are politians - Obama, the Republicans, the Democrats, Netanyahu, etc.

Political gain? That remains to be seen and still Netanyahu has flown to America because the message he brings is that important. He is explaining a threat to our lives...that sounds like very good judgment to me.

Obama's True Friends

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Jerusalem Mayor Battles Terrorist...Video!

As we were meeting people about our upcoming conference, we heard the news - a young Jewish man was stabbed close to the Old City. The terrorist, an even younger man bent on murder had been apprehended. In between conversations about what we wanted, who we expected to attend, etc., we kept going back to the news.

They were saying the mayor of Jerusalem was there, that he helped apprehend the terrorist. Two people at the meeting smiled, "they mean his security," one said.

Watch the video below - it was taken from security cameras covering the area. The terrorist appears, circled. You'll see him advance and then what looks like two or three men approach him - one is wearing a white shirt - he is the mayor of the city of Jerusalem and he most definitely was involved in the "take-down."

You can see as the mayor and his security guards work to neutralize the terrorist; you'll see, at the same time, another man in white helping someone across the street. The man who is lowered to the ground was lightly wounded and evacuated to the hospital.

This mayor has done much to promote Jerusalem - there are two significant things worth noting here. The first is that with his body, with his life, he moved in bravely to protect. And the second is that at any point, his security forces could have simply shot the 18-year-old terrorist. They chose to try to take him alive, and they did.

The mayor speaks about what happened (in English):

And I'll add one more comment - if I was his wife, I'd tell him how brave I thought he was - even if the terrorist had thrown down his knife, they had no real proof he didn't have another weapon - and after telling him how proud I was...I'd slap him across the face and scream out, "WHAT PART OF BODYGUARD DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND????"

So, to his wife - try to go easy on him...he did real good today!

A 19 Year Old's Vote

For the first time, David will vote in national elections. Our home is a political one (shocker there, right?) and we often discuss politics. We are, relative to most Israelis, on the political right. It isn't that we are against compromise; it isn't that we are intransigent or love war.

I have three more reasons, five, and six and seven or eight, actually, to be more anti-war than most of the world. My sons' lives have been and, God watch over them and protect them please, likely could or will be on the front line in the future. But we have never understood the idiotic concept of compromising alone, of giving when no one else does, of acting unilaterally when we well know that our action will be misinterpreted.

All the stupid things our governments have given up with no results, no peace partner, nothing. My city suffers, not from Palestinian actions but from our own government - we don't have enough housing for our young; what there is, is priced very high - it's a seller's market here with houses and apartments sold very quickly - other than the few that are priced out of greed, waiting for someone stupid enough to meet the exorbitant prices being asked.

All this and more, David has heard growing up. In his 19 years here in this country and in this world, he's learned the horror of terrorism, of war. Even before his bar mitzvah, that moment in Jewish tradition when a boy crosses the threshold to have the responsibilities of a man, he was worrying and praying for a brother in the midst of battle.

And now, less than a year before he is drafted into the army of Israel, he will step forward to vote. As much as all citizens feel the results of their government's actions, a young man in the army or going into the army knows that it is his life and those of his friends that is on the line. When the politicians say we must defend ourselves, that we have the right to protect our people - it is the soldier that steps forward.

Davidi is listening to the news, thinking about who he will vote for. He hasn't asked and I haven't said - he knows already what I am thinking. We have to ensure the Benjamin Netanyahu is the next prime minister because the option of Herzog and Livni is the surest recipe for disaster.

There is talk that Meretz might disappear after this election - one can only hope.

Yair Lapid is about to get a well-deserved slap in the face; a clear message that his talk was only talk, his message a farce. He failed and though he will likely get in, half those that came along with him most likely won't. Step one to showing him that politics is a hard and serious business that does not support fools easily.

Bayit HaYehudi with Bennett as a leader is a promise of freshness and strength and it's easy to see how he may well be tomorrow's prime minister, but we all know it won't be in this election.

"They all attack each other," says David. "Only Bayit HaYehudi and Alei Yarok [the green party pushing for the legalization of marijuana] says what THEY will do." Welcome to politics, my son.

He doesn't yet know completely who he will vote for - it's a safe guess that like me, his choices are between Bennett and Bibi. I have little faith in Likud but I understand that Bibi needs enough votes to get a sure ticket to hold his seat, not enough to think he can abandon the right and play as he did in the last elections.

It is interesting to see this election through his eyes, as he debates who to support. But more, I wish I could speak to the politicians, just once, to tell them that as has happened to me two times before, this election is critical because my son's future rides on the decisions they make.

I look back at the "predictions" I made two years ago and find them sadly accurate. I predicted that Netanyahu had formed a coalition that could not be sustained, that we were likely to end up in another war. Here we are, just two years and one war later, going for elections again.

I'm almost afraid to predict and yet I believe with certainty that if the Herzog/Livni team is given power, they will broadcast a message of weakness that will quickly encourage the Arabs to attack. I don't know what coalition Netanyahu would go for and yet he is, at this moment, the only viable option we have.

The message that Bayit HaYehudi offers is one of strength and yet this was not the message they gave throughout the last two years of the coalition. They joined with Lapid, and I find that hard to forgive. Time is running down on this election - only weeks to go.

I've voted enough to know that even after you give a party your vote, there is no guarantee they will honor the platform and the message they proclaim proudly before the elections. Time and time again, the Likud has shown there is no honor, no guarantee. Then again, Livni easily outshines Netanyahu when it comes to lies and a lack of honor and, if possible, Herzog even beats her.

Davidi has not yet experienced the terrible betrayal of knowing that with the vote you give a politician, they can turn and do the opposite. The one great truth in politics is that what they say now to get our vote means little even the day after the election. It is a depressing fact that Davidi and his older siblings have learned or will learn in the years to come.

For me, at this moment, I feel more concern than at most times. Elie and Shmulik have finished the army, are older and wiser and mostly safe. They may do reserve duty that will again take them into danger, but I have grown to trust their maturity and honor the men they have become in so many ways. They have wives to live for, children here or yet to come, God willing.

For now, I fear for David in ways that bring my heart to panic. We've begun to talk of units - the idea of ground forces terrifies me; I don't want him in tanks...I will argue each unit away because unlike what our enemies would portray about us, the real truth is that if I could lock him in a room and not send him to the army at all, I might do that.

This election is just another step he takes...away from the little boy who sat on the ground and picked blueberries just yesterday. It was yesterday, wasn't it?


Friday, February 20, 2015

Benjamin Netanyahu Coming to Maale Adumim.... a closed, invitation only event limited to approximately 100 maybe 150 people - priority to Likud members, naturally.

I'm not a Likud member. They stole my vote under Sharon to force a one-sided plan that resulted in thousands of rockets and years of trauma and devastation to approximately 9,000 Israelis - in many ways, the finest of our land. While we were bitter; they looked for ways to rebuild. While we were paralyzed in anger and pain; they sought to heal themselves...and us.

So as a Likud member, they took my vote and betrayed it. The promise-never-to-evacuate became a destruction order. My vote was betrayed again...and I got smart. I took it back so that whatever is done, is not on my ticket, not in my name. As a voter, sometimes that is all you can do.

So I left - or tried to. They kept taking my money, ignoring my requests but finally, finally, I managed to get free. I am no longer a Likud member...or, what I really believe, is that I am a Likud member - but a Likud member of a party that betrayed its roots. It isn't so much that I left the Likud, as the Likud itself left.

I begged my Likud friends to leave the Likud - to vote one last time with their feet when the party list was manipulated to ignore the primary election results. Many left; many continued to spout the same line - only  from within can you change things. That may be true, but ultimately, if the core is rotten, the fruit isn't worth saving.

The Likud of my youth, the party of Menachem Begin, is gone. Even...even Feiglin has left and yet there are those who remain for purposes I have yet to understand.

So Bibi is coming to my city to an event that is not opened to the public. INVITATION-ONLY, the announcement reads...and I'm pretty sure I won't be getting an invitation. But I have a right to a voice - sometimes, that is all that we have.

And so, even though they won't be answered, I'll still ask my questions:

1. You've promised over and over again that you'll build on E1 and each time capitulated to foreign pressure and while that's happening, Arabs have built? When are you really going to build and if you aren't, why can't you say that?

2. You reject the idea of a building freeze and yet you have not given Maale Adumim any significant (or any) building permits in many years. Are you trying to stifle the city even from natural growth?

3. We in Maale Adumim have been victims of many robberies in recent months. Why isn't there a complete security fence surrounding our city?

4. In the last elections, the Likud chose to go with Yair Lapid's party and others who were decidedly not right-wing. This put tremendous pressure on your government to abandon many of the core tenets of the right wing. What lessons do you think the Likud should have learned from the last elections?

So, in this mythical opportunity I've created for myself...what other questions should Bibi be asked when he comes to his invitation-only, limited courtesy call to the largest city in Judea and Samaria?

Dancing in the Snow...

It's after midnight here in Israel. I've just finished preparing the challah dough for Shabbat. I'll leave it to rise overnight and then in the morning I'll shape it and bake it. I made a lot this week, more than normal. Partly because we are sharing it with friends and partly because I have a feeling in the morning there will be people unable to get challah because of the storm.

Israel is being hit with a powerful winter storm - in the area where I live, it never snows...and yet, we had a few flakes and my husband returned with my car covered with snow simply because he was in a neighborhood that is slightly higher.

Jerusalem is already a white wonderland; south of Jerusalem in the hills of Hebron, the snow is amassing quickly. About to go to sleep, I went to check the news and saw a link to the live feed broadcast around the clock and around the world of the any given time, pretty much 24 hours a day, you'll find people there.

And as the camera went live, I could see and hear what is happening there now. The camera has flakes of snow that interfere with the view and still it is all so clear - this is our holy place - the Western Wall, the last remaining wall, a retaining wall of the outer Temple Mount walls...

What I heard was men singing...what I saw was man dancing. Can you imagine? It's FREEZING out there - literally! It's snowing...but really...and they are dancing!

I can't imagine that these men have any idea they are on camera. They simply feel the joy of the snow, of it being Thursday night and knowing the Sabbath is coming.

There is the joy of living in this land and being close enough to go to this holy place...any time!

And, it is the beginning of the month of Adar - a joyous month filled with laughter, singing,!

This thing that they did tonight, this dance I was so lucky to catch - it is what I've been writing about. For all that you think we live in fear, we don't. For all you think terror lurks behind each tree, it doesn't. We sing and we the snow!

I was given a glimpse...and then the snow began to cover the camera lens, and the men dispersed to go home just as others arrived to say their evening prayers. This will continue through the night, through the snow, through the days and nights and months and years. 
“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.”

        ― William W. Purkey
Heaven on earth...yes, that's where I live...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Badge of Shame

Over a decade ago, I went to Poland with my oldest daughter. I had hoped to support her as she learned. I didn't need to learn anything because I had read EVERYTHING, knew EVERYTHING...and quickly learned that for all I had read, for all that I had learned, I knew nothing, needed to learn as much, and probably more than my daughter.

For eight days, I saw, I cried. I asked, not why the Holocaust happened, but why Israel didn't pull up all the graves, all the bones, all the ashes, and bring them home to Israel so that in death, they would get the respect denied to them in life. Why would we leave our precious souls in the cold grounds of Europe? And when I met some of the few Jews who remain in Poland today, I couldn't stop myself from asking why they lived there still.

I spoke to a woman who was born in 1946 in Poland. Are your parents still alive? I asked her. No, they died long ago, she answered. She even has a daughter living in Tel Aviv and when I heard that, I lost it, "WHAT are you doing HERE?" I asked her. She just smiled and said she knew no other home. I stopped asking people after that; it was something I knew that I would never understand.

For the past few weeks and months, I have been writing wherever I can, asking Jews of Europe to leave. I am one person, not a politician, not well known. A mother, a voice...but there are so many other voices saying the same thing that I have hoped they would listen. Some are, some have written that they are trying. Many know the time is fast coming.

For the last day or so, I have been staring at a picture that reminds me of Poland and the days I spent there. My first two days in Poland involved visiting cemeteries, many desecrated, all abandoned and decrepit. I visited mass graves in forests and parks, as Polish families played and picnicked nearby.

As we approached our first concentration camp on the tour - Maidanek. I walked next to my daughter and her friend and heard we were approaching "Har Effer" (or maybe it is called Har Ha'Effer). "Har" means mountain in Hebrew. I struggled in my mind with the word "effer" and finally asked my daughter, whose Hebrew will always be stronger than mine.
"Ashes," she replied.

I looked ahead and saw what resembled a spaceship, a concrete mountain with wings coming out in a perfect circle...I thought for a second that it was a symbolic name - Mountain of Ashes...and then, to my horror, I realized it was most definitely not symbolic.

As we entered, I saw that indeed, there was a mountain of the center and the spaceship-like structure was simply meant to keep the ashes on display despite wind and rain. I looked at this huge mountain...I had two thoughts.

The first was that Jews don't do this - we don't put our dead on display. What little dignity in death that mankind could have afforded them after they were rounded up, gassed, and cremated by the Nazis, was being stolen from them by the Poles and their "exhibit."

My second thought quickly pushed the first away as reality finally hit. I walked over to one of the Israeli guides. Most of our conversations until that point had revolved around my asking why Israel allowed this cemetery to remain, desecrated like this. Why we had not taken the graves to Israel? Each time, he didn't really give me an answer though he was patient enough to listen.

In Maidanek, before the ashes of only God knows how many, I looked at him and finally admitted the truth to myself and to him. "There isn't enough room, is there? In all of Israel, we could fill the country and there still wouldn't be enough to bring them all home."

Only one other time on our trip did the topic of bringing the dead to Israel come up again. The main guide, Chaim, took us to his grandfather's grave. His mother's father was buried with 85,000 other Jews and though the grave was not marked at the time, the Poles had recorded the man's name and the grave location.

With two different Polish guides, Chaim was able use the plot number to find the exact location and when he found the grave and was sure it was right, he decided that he wanted to bring his grandfather to rest in Israel. He told his mother and uncle what he wanted to do.

His uncle responded with unexpected anger, asking what of the other 84,999 Jews buried there. "Will you bring them too?"

So Chaim did what he could. He arranged to have a stone marker made for his grandfather and left the grave in Poland, one of 85,000 Jews murdered by the Nazis in that field.

All this and more came to my mind when I saw a picture of desecrated graves in France. It isn't enough, I thought with anger, to attack the living in France, they are also attacking our dead. They believe, in their incredible stupidity, that the dead can be made less, can be hurt, insulted. Each swastika is at once a badge of shame for Europe, and a badge of pride for the Jews buried there. What they fail to understand, these individuals who hate us so much, is that even in death, even years later when the physical bodies have turned to bone and dust, their swastikas simply confirm that in death, they are what they were in life...Jews.

Jews in life, Jews in death. I think they would have considered that a great honor. Through my fury, I keep telling myself that the writing on the stone is nothing to them, just as the twisted and desecrated stones in Poland were nothing to the Jews buried below. We remember the great rabbis who lived before World War II, their legacy lives on in their descendents and in their teachings. What does it matter if the Poles smash their tombstone or someone in France puts a swastika on stone.

There is something particularly horrible about attacking the dead. Of course, I guess it's better than attacking the living but somehow, it comes back to the aliyah issue. This is what they will do to you, if you choose to die in that foreign land; for all eternity, you will rest among strangers.

And even if we visit you, you'll never rest in soil that is yours, in a land where your memory will never be desecrated.

There are many reasons to make aliyah and I guess, though it is hard for me to admit, there are many reasons not to. When we first came to Israel, my husband came here before us and found us a place to rent. I told him I would be happy in a caravan, he found us a villa.

To this day, I feel the same way. I'd rather live very simply in Israel than extravagantly anywhere else. I'd rather eat basics, have the simplest clothes and spend whatever non-working time walking the mountains and streets of Israel, than eat in fine restaurants, wear fancy clothes and vacation anywhere else.

So long as the reason someone doesn't make aliyah is because they aren't sure about the economic realities they'll find here, their situation isn't nearly as desperate as it was for the Jews of Germany, Poland, and other countries from which so many Israelis came. Had there been a way, they would have come, even if the degree they had would not be honored here, even if they had to prove they could drive all over again, even if they had to work sweeping the streets. Life and death...they would have chosen life. The problem is, all too often, when it finally gets down to that moment when it is life and death, seldom are we actually given the choice to choose life. Or, more accurately, we missed all the opportunities and only death waited for us.

Israel is here for those who feel Israel is the right place for Jews to live; Israel is here for those who feel it is the only place for Jews to live.

Israel is here for any and all Jews who are alive today but sadly, as I learned that day in Maidanek, there isn't enough room in all of Israel for those who spent their lives elsewhere and died there. Their souls are in the Heavens, but the physical remains will always be there in the earth where they lived and died.

If it helps any, a swastika painted on their graves is a badge of honor, bringing shame only to those who painted it, those who support them, and those who live in a country where this could happen.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pictures I've Been Meaning to Share

I take pictures and create posts in my mind and then get stuck and forget...until I dump all the pictures on my computer and then think, wait I wanted to share this. So, here they are...

Sending a Message Across the World.

This one is very special. I was driving home a few days after the attack on the kosher supermarket in know, the random attack on a bunch of folks in a deli that was random because the killer didn't know the names of the people and because it just so happened there was at least one non-Jew in the Jewish-owned store on the eve of the Jewish Sabbath when nearly all of the Jewish patrons were shopping...yeah, that random attack.

As I entered Jerusalem, I saw this sign and stuck at a light, I was able to take a picture. It shows two flags - France and Israel, and says, "Jerusalem hugs the people of France."

The Shuk and the Inflating Flower

Near our offices in Jerusalem is Mahane Yehuda - the Jewish open market where they sell fruits and vegetables, inexpensive clothes, and pretty much everything else.

It is an experience shopping there - one that I love. The open market - called a shuk - is where many people go to do their shopping.

Quality is usually very good (for the vegetables) or bad (for other non-perishables).

A few months ago, the city of Jerusalem began building these weird things. I still can't really explain what they are, or why they are - but they remind me of some horror movie prop.

Every few minutes, the red part fills with air and opens to a flower; then it deflates, only to start again. 

They are interesting; they are fun, and I honestly don't have a clue what or why but they certainly entertain. People are constantly taking pictures of them.

Raining Mud

I have never seen this in any other place - but sometimes, it rains mud in Israel. It starts after a period when there has been little rain. First comes what we call a sharav, the wind comes from the east, instead of the west, and brings with it sand in the air. These sand storms are very common in the Middle East and while Israel has less of them than some countries, it still happens.

The air is hard to breathe. You feel like you are swallowing sand, and when the rain finally comes to cleanse the air, it does it, at first, by raining mud. Add to that this beautiful blue car I have - which shows dirt much more than a black, silver or white car. In fact, this past week when it rained mud, my car looked like the dirtiest car on the road.

This is something that neither Elie nor David could resist. And so first, David went out and drew all over my car and Elie's car - writing "Clean Me" and making smiley faces. Elie, not to be outdone, added the hand prints and the huge X made of mud on my car.

Even with some rain in the last few days, I still need to take my car to be cleaned, but at least I got off the worst of it...

Why Jews Don't Belong in France...

To walk in a place and feel others watching you, staring at you, possibly threatening is a feeling that I have never had once in Israel and as my husband and I prepare for two upcoming business trips abroad, it is a feeling that I will carry with me when I leave Israel for these short trips.

This is France today - unprovoked...a Jew walking in the street...unprovoked...France 2015

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