Monday, September 26, 2016

The Lessons of Roy H. Porter Jr.

Back in 1979, my mother was on a bus traveling home and, as the bus passed through the predominantly African-American neighborhood of Harlem, a young black man (as was the term back then), grabbed her purse and sprinted off the bus just as the doors were closing. My mother yelled out but the bus driver kept going. For reasons we never could understand (and gave her hell for), my mother got off the bus at the next stop and headed back through what was considered a rather dangerous neighborhood, attempting to find what would have been called "a thug" back then.

"And WHAT would you have done if you found him?" was the question that always went unanswered.

A few hours later, as my mother was listing all that had been stolen from her - her credit cards, her driver's license, her Columbia University ID card, and more, she received a phone call from a Roy Porter who told her that as he entered his building, he found her wallet and its contents spread all over the floor in the lobby. He told her that there were credit cards, the school ID, the license and then with great sadness, he told her that obviously the thief had stolen all the money.

My mother laughed and told him, "my mother always said, 'never leave your money in your wallet!' The thief didn't get anything!" she told Mr. Porter. They arranged for my mother (this time escorted by my father) to meet him later the next day.

I asked me mother if I could bake Mr. Porter some chocolate chip cookies, which she delivered to him with a note thanking him for caring enough to call and return my mother's property. A few weeks later, I received a hand-written note. The stationary said, "Roy H. Porter, Jr." and it said:
Dear Paula,     August 17, 1979
 I should say "you shouldn't have done it!" but I'm glad you did. I have never tasted such delicious chocolate chip cookies  ever! Thank you - I was only too happy to have found your mother's purse with all the cards and papers. I know what she went through.
 Hopefully there is still a few decent people around. Wishing you  and your family all the best.
Sincerely, 
Roy Porter  
It's been 37 years since that happened. That a black man called my mother and returned her wallet and its contents. That a white teenager baked cookies for a black man to thank him and the black man took the time to write back. I still have that note. Every few years, I clean out a drawer and find it and just as I'm about to throw it out, I put it back in the drawer.

I don't remember how old Mr. Porter was when this happened. I don't know what happened to him, if he is still alive, if he has a family, where he lives. But I hold on to his note because this is a reminder to me of how people should be. Kind. Good. Decent.

I listen to the news and see how Americans are speaking of their future president - it honestly doesn't matter which one wins. In either case, America loses. Or, to be more accurate, America has lost already because America is all black and blue.

Black lives matter. Blue lives matter. White lives matter. No one should murder another - not for money and not for hatred. Cops should not be shooting innocent black men; black men shouldn't be shooting cops. Whites shouldn't hate blacks; blacks shouldn't hate whites.

I have never seen the hatred, the cruelty that I see in the US elections. I don't remember a country of such violence. It seems that almost daily there are reports of mass shootings and endless violence.

I grew up in a town that had a large number of Jews and a large number of blacks - we lived, worked, learned, shopped, voted, celebrated and mourned in that beautiful town that I loved. It wasn't perfect; but I don't remember it being cruel.

Black lives matter? Of course they do! Is it really necessary to say that? I guess maybe it is. But how do they get from trying to remind the world of their value, by thinking that suddenly makes them experts on the world? The Black Lives Matter organization thinks Israel is wrong and racist. Really? Have they ever been here? Ever taken a ride on a train in Jerusalem? Ever been to an Israeli hospital? Racist? Wow.

And why in the world would we need to announce that Blue lives matter? Is there anyone who thinks they don't? What has happened to America that people will soon go to the polls to vote against the lesser of two evils? Is that the best there is? Where are the Roy Porters? The ones who see something wrong and do all they can to make it right?

Perhaps I kept his note all these years as a reminder that across cultural lines, we have more in common than that which divides us. Perhaps it gave me hope that one day we could bridge similar cultural divides here. Roy Porter was a black man who reached out to help a white family without any consideration to color and more, he took the time to thank me when really, I was the one trying to show my gratitude to him.

I'm putting Roy Porter's note back in the drawer praying that the next time I find it, I'll be able to throw it out because it won't seem so extraordinary.  
 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Netanyahu's Speech in Layman's Words

Across Facebook, Israelis are proud and loud today. We have waited a long time to hear our Prime Minister tell the United Nations a message we have never quite been able to say so eloquently. I can try to translate the thought behind his words but I would likely fail because rarely have I seen someone use every four letter word in the book, without once actually giving them voice.

I'll try to explain. Here's Bibi's speech:

Mr. President,

Ladies and Gentlemen, what I’m about to say is going to shock you: Israel has a bright future at the UN.
There, right there. Did you hear it? That's Bibi using the F word, and I don't mean "future." He's saying - for all you who thought you could destroy us with your endless resolutions, condemnations, threats and sanctions, not only are we still here, we're strong, we're proud, we're united, and, oh yeah, we're doing the work YOU are supposed to be doing. It is OUR doctors that arrive in times of disaster, not yours. It is our rescue forces that dig under the rubble to find life, and our compassionate representatives that don't give up, that keep working even when we know we are likely to only pull out bodies. 
Now I know that hearing that from me must surely come as a surprise, because year after year I’ve stood at this very podium and slammed the UN for its obsessive bias against Israel. And the UN deserved every scathing word – for the disgrace of the General Assembly that last year passed 20 resolutions against the democratic State of Israel and a grand total of three resolutions against all the other countries on the planet. Israel – 20 ; rest of the world – 3!
This is Bibi saying - do you see how stupid you've been? Do you see what jerks you are?
And what about the joke called the UN Human Rights Council, which each year condemns Israel more than all the countries of the world combined. As women are being systematically raped, murdered, sold into slavery across the world, which is the only country that the UN’s Commission on Women chose to condemn this year? Yep, you guessed it – Israel. Israel. Israel where women fly fighter jets, lead major corporations, head universities, preside – twice – over the Supreme Court, and have served as Speaker of the Knesset and Prime Minister.
And now Bibi is again using the F word, combined with just plain stupid and a bit of an A word that tells them they have been the backside of a donkey.
And this circus continues at UNESCO. UNESCO, the UN body charged with preserving world heritage. Now, this is hard to believe but UNESCO just denied the 4,000 year connection between the Jewish people and its holiest site, the Temple Mount. That’s just as absurd as denying the connection between the Great Wall of China and China.
Circus, hey, I like that! Oh, wait - translation. Okay, so this is Bibi telling them that there are few things more idiotic than denying irrefutable fact. The Great Wall of China is in China; the Temple Mount is where OUR Holy Temples were. God, could you get any dumber, UNESCO?
Ladies and Gentlemen, the UN, begun as a moral force, has become a moral farce. 
All of Israel just snorted the most wonderful snort ever. Bibi, wow. Moral force to moral farce! Oh, man, Bibi is nailing it today! Go, Bibi!
So when it comes to Israel at the UN, you’d probably think nothing will ever change, right? Well think again. You see, everything will change and a lot sooner than you think. The change will happen in this hall, because back home, your governments are rapidly changing their attitudes towards Israel. And sooner or later, that’s going to change the way you vote on Israel at the UN.

More and more nations in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, more and more nations see Israel as a potent partner – a partner in fighting the terrorism of today, a partner in developing the technology of tomorrow.
Here is where Israelis sit back and relax. He did it. He went there and told them the truth. The world IS changing. It is only in the hate-filled halls of the United Nations that this reality is being denied. Around the world...OMG...they are naming babies Israel as thanks for our rescue teams; they are blessing us for coming, for helping, for caring. From this point on, Israelis are simply enjoying the show. Yalla, Bibi, we're listening even if they aren't!
Today Israel has diplomatic relations with over 160 countries. That’s nearly double the number that we had when I served here as Israel’s ambassador some 30 years ago. And those ties are getting broader and deeper every day. World leaders increasingly appreciate that Israel is a powerful country with one of the best intelligence services on earth. Because of our unmatched experience and proven capabilities in fighting terrorism, many of your governments seek our help in keeping your countries safe.

Many also seek to benefit from Israel’s ingenuity in agriculture, in health, in water, in cyber and in the fusion of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence – that fusion that is changing our world in every way. 

You might consider this: Israel leads the world in recycling wastewater. We recycle about 90% of our wastewater. Now, how remarkable is that? Well, given that the next country on the list only recycles about 20% of its wastewater, Israel is a global water power. So if you have a thirsty world, and we do, there’s no better ally than Israel.
Did he mention how hard we've been working to counter limited rainfall, diminishing seas? Oh yes he did! Bibi, tell 'em! Our problems today, are your problems tomorrow and as we are solving them, you're gonna need us a hell of a lot more than we need you!
How about cybersecurity? That’s an issue that affects everyone. Israel accounts for one-tenth of one percent of the world’s population, yet last year we attracted some 20% of the global private investment in cybersecurity.

I want you to digest that number. In cyber, Israel is punching a whopping 200 times above its weight. So Israel is also a global cyber power. If hackers are targeting your banks, your planes, your power grids and just about everything else, Israel can offer indispensable help.
Oh, yeah. Water? Well, how about security in the cyber world in which we are living more and more. Oh, man, you guys are in trouble if you don't listen up. We're there - 200 times greater, stronger, ready.
Governments are changing their attitudes towards Israel because they know that Israel can help them protect their peoples, can help them feed them, can help them better their lives.

This summer I had an unbelievable opportunity to see this change so vividly during an unforgettable visit to four African countries. This is the first visit to Africa by an Israeli prime minister in decades. Later today, I’ll be meeting with leaders from 17 African countries. We’ll discuss how Israeli technology can help them in their efforts to transform their countries.

In Africa, things are changing. In China, India, Russia, Japan, attitudes towards Israel have changed as well. These powerful nations know that, despite Israel’s small size, it can make a big difference in many, many areas that are important to them.

But now I’m going to surprise you even more. You see, the biggest change in attitudes towards Israel is taking place elsewhere. It’s taking place in the Arab world. Our peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan continue to be anchors of stability in the volatile Middle East.

But I have to tell you this: For the first time in my lifetime, many other states in the region recognize that Israel is not their enemy. They recognize that Israel is their ally. Our common enemies are Iran and ISIS. Our common goals are security, prosperity and peace. I believe that in the years ahead we will work together to achieve these goals, work together openly.
This is Bibi remembering that he's a diplomat. He said our common enemies are Iran and ISIS. He didn't say that Israel's enemy is also the UN, which is bullied and controlled by Iran and those that support that terrorist nation. Oh, Bibi...well, maybe next time.
So Israel’s diplomatic relations are undergoing nothing less than a revolution. But in this revolution, we never forget that our most cherished alliance, our deepest friendship is with the United States of America, the most powerful and the most generous nation on earth.
Yeah, see, here he's remembering that idiot in the White House and rumors that he wants to be the next General Secretary of the United Nations. But he's also reminding them all that we've survived 8 years of Obama and if we have to, God forbid, we'll survive Clinton (though judging by recent health coverage, I'm not at all sure she will).
Our unbreakable bond with the United States of America transcends parties and politics. It reflects, above all else, the overwhelming support for Israel among the American people, support which is at record highs and for which we are deeply grateful.

The United Nations denounces Israel; the United States supports Israel. And a central pillar of that defense has been America’s consistent support for Israel at the UN. I appreciate President Obama’s commitment to that longstanding US policy. In fact, the only time that the United States cast a UN Security Council veto during the Obama presidency was against an anti-Israel resolution in 2011. As President Obama rightly declared at this podium, peace will not come from statements and resolutions at the United Nations.
This is Bibi warning Obama, just a bit. The US has stood by Israel in the past and our friends in the US are watching. They won't let you abandon Israel and yes, as Bibi said, we are grateful for that support. If you go against Israel, Bibi signals Obama, you won't have the support of the American people.
I believe the day is not far off when Israel will be able to rely on many, many countries to stand with us at the UN. Slowly but surely, the days when UN ambassadors reflexively condemn Israel, those days are coming to an end.

Ladies and Gentlemen, today’s automatic majority against Israel at the UN reminds me of the story, the incredible story of Hiroo Onada. Hiroo was a Japanese soldier who was sent to the Philippines in 1944. He lived in the jungle. He scavenged for food. He evaded capture. Eventually he surrendered, but that didn’t happen until 1974, some 30 years after World War II ended.

For decades, Hiroo refused to believe the war was over. As Hiroo was hiding in the jungle, Japanese tourists were swimming in pools in American luxury hotels in nearby Manila. Finally, mercifully, Hiroo’s former commanding officer was sent to persuade him to come out of hiding. Only then did Hiroo lay down his arms.

Ladies and Gentlemen, distinguished delegates from so many lands. I have one message for you today: Lay down your arms.
Bibi saying stop being so F****** stupid! You're running out of time. You're redefining the meaning of moronic!
The war against Israel at the UN is over. Perhaps some of you don’t know it yet, but I am confident that one day in the not too distant future you will also get the message from your president or from your prime minister informing you that the war against Israel at the United Nations has ended.

Yes, I know, there might be a storm before the calm. I know there is talk about ganging up on Israel at the UN later this year. Given its history of hostility towards Israel, does anyone really believe that Israel will let the UN determine our security and our vital national interests?
Oh, this. Just this. Perfect. Sarcasm at its best. Does ANYONE really believe we will let the UN control our destiny, our security. Um...no way, UN. just no way! And that sound you just heard? Millions of Israelis yelling, "YESH!" - a word that is basically equivalent to "GOAL" or "GRAND SLAM" because with this simple sentence, Bibi hit the ball out of the park!
We will not accept any attempt by the UN to dictate terms to Israel. The road to peace runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not through New York.
So shut the F up. We aren't listening; and more. Did you notice - JERUSALEM is ours; Ramallah is theirs! Those are the possible sources from which talks will emanate. Not New York (and, by the way, not Washington either).  
But regardless of what happens in the months ahead, I have total confidence that in the years ahead the revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations will finally penetrate this hall of nations. I have so much confidence, in fact, that I predict that a decade from now an Israeli prime minister will stand right here where I am standing and actually applaud the UN.

But I want to ask you: Why do we have to wait a decade? Why keep vilifying Israel?

Perhaps because some of you don’t appreciate that the obsessive bias against Israel is not just a problem for my country, it’s a problem for your countries too. Because if the UN spends so much time condemning the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, it has far less time to address war, disease, poverty, climate change and all the other serious problems that plague the planet.
And this is where Bibi's speech simply turns to brilliant. Maybe, he suggests to the UN, you forgot completely why you exist - you've forgotten, while we've been busy doing YOUR job. And shame on you!
Are the half million slaughtered Syrians helped by your condemnation of Israel? The same Israel that has treated thousands of injured Syrians in our hospitals, including a field hospital that I built right along the Golan Heights border with Syria.

Are the gays hanging from cranes in Iran helped by your denigration of Israel? That same Israel where gays march proudly in our streets and serve in our parliament, including I’m proud to say in my own Likud party.

Are the starving children in North Korea’s brutal tyranny, are they helped by your demonization of Israel? Israel, whose agricultural know-how is feeding the hungry throughout the developing world?

The sooner the UN’s obsession with Israel ends, the better. The better for Israel, the better for your countries, the better for the UN itself.
And, of course, the better for ALL the world. Hypocrites and liars and thieves that you are. Worthless people sitting around while millions suffer. 
Ladies and Gentlemen,

If UN habits die hard, Palestinian habits die even harder. President Abbas just attacked from this podium the Balfour Declaration. He’s preparing a lawsuit against Britain for that declaration from 1917. That’s almost 100 years ago – talk about being stuck in the past.
And the sound you heard was millions of Israelis laughing. Abbas is going to sue Britain for the Balfour Declaration. Oh, is that rich! And, made richer by the next few lines because in a world where the Palestinians pull the "PAST card," they ignore the fact that few peoples in the world have as large and prestigious a "PAST" card as we do - and that card was first issued here in our land. It is in the very ground we uncover daily...our past, never theirs.
The Palestinians may just as well sue Iran for the Cyrus Declaration, which enabled the Jews to rebuild our Temple in Jerusalem 2,500 years ago. Come to think of it, why not a Palestinian class action suit against Abraham for buying that plot of land in Hebron where the fathers and mothers of the Jewish people were buried 4,000 years ago? You’re not laughing. It’s as absurd as that. To sue the British government for the Balfour Declaration? Is he kidding? And this is taken seriously here?
Bibi is at his greatest when he's sarcastic, isn't he? Are you so stupid you'll take this nonsense seriously? 
President Abbas attacked the Balfour Declaration because it recognized the right of the Jewish people to a national home in the land of Israel. When the United Nations supported the establishment of a Jewish state in 1947, it recognized our historical and our moral rights in our homeland and to our homeland.

Yet today, nearly 70 years later, the Palestinians still refuse to recognize those rights – not our right to a homeland, not our right to a state, not our right to anything. And this remains the true core of the conflict, the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary. You see, this conflict is not about the settlements. It never was.
And this is Bibi reminding Obama that it was never about the settlements. And more, this is Bib turning to the Israelis and saying, "Okay, okay, you were right all along and it's time I just say what we all know. They won't listen, but who cares. The joke is on them. Obama and Abbas and the Iranians are on them so yeah, let's all smile and be proud."
The conflict raged for decades before there was a single settlement, when Judea, Samaria and Gaza were all in Arab hands; the West Bank and Gaza were in Arab hands and they attacked us again and again and again.

And when we uprooted all 21 settlements in Gaza and withdrew from every last inch of Gaza, we didn’t get peace from Gaza. We got thousands of rockets fired at us from Gaza. This conflict rages because for the Palestinians, the real settlements they’re after are Haifa, Jaffa and Tel Aviv.
Truth time yet again. A "duh" moment when Bibi states what every Israeli knows. The conflict rages because they won't settle for anything less than all - and that includes Haifa, Jaffa, and Tel Aviv.
Now mind you, the issue of settlements is a real one and it can and must be resolved in final status negotiations. But this conflict has never been about the settlements or about establishing a Palestinian state. It’s always been about the existence of a Jewish state, a Jewish state in any boundary.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Israel is ready, I am ready to negotiate all final status issues but one thing I will never negotiate: Our right to the one and only Jewish state.

Wow, sustained applause for the Prime Minister of Israel in the General Assembly? The change may be coming sooner than I thought.

Had the Palestinians said yes to a Jewish state in 1947, there would have been no war, no refugees and no conflict. And when the Palestinians finally say yes to a Jewish state, we will be able to end this conflict once and for all.  Now here’s the tragedy, because, see, the Palestinians are not only trapped in the past, their leaders are poisoning the future.

I want you to imagine a day in the life of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, I’ll call him Ali. Ali wakes up before school, he goes to practice with a soccer team named after Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist responsible for the murder of a busload of 37 Israelis. At school, Ali attends an event sponsored by the Palestinian Ministry of Education honoring Baha Alyan, who last year murdered three Israeli civilians. On his walk home, Ali looks up at a towering statue erected just a few weeks ago by the Palestinian Authority to honor Abu Sukar, who detonated a bomb in the center of Jerusalem, killing 15 Israelis.

When Ali gets home, he turns on the TV and sees an interview with a senior Palestinian official, Jibril Rajoub, who says that if he had a nuclear bomb, he’d detonate it over Israel that very day. Ali then turns on the radio and he hears President Abbas’s adviser, Sultan Abu al-Einein, urging Palestinians, here’s a quote, “to slit the throats of Israelis wherever you find them.” Ali checks his Facebook and he sees a recent post by President Abbas’s Fatah Party calling the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics a “heroic act”. On YouTube, Ali watches a clip of President Abbas himself saying, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem.” Direct quote!

Over dinner, Ali asks his mother what would happen if he killed a Jew and went to an Israeli prison? Here’s what she tells him. She tells him he’d be paid thousands of dollars each month by the Palestinian Authority. In fact, she tells him, the more Jews he would kill, the more money he’d get. Oh, and when he gets out of prison, Ali would be guaranteed a job with the Palestinian Authority.
I wish Bibi had gone on to name some of the real Alis - like the 14 year old Arab boy who tried to stab soldiers today, a day after Bibi's speech; and the 13 year old Arab boy who stabbed a 13 year old Israeli child simply because he was a Jew. So many Palestinian children are listening to the messages they receive in school, at home, and in the mosques. Ali is real.
Ladies and Gentlemen, all this is real. It happens every day, all the time. Sadly, Ali represents hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children who are indoctrinated with hate every moment, every hour. This is child abuse.
And though the delegates are not clapping, millions of Israelis are. Child Abuse. That's what you call what they've been doing to their children. In your face, Abbas - this is what you've been doing! And in your face, United Nations delegates - this is what you've been celebrating and rewarding all these years. Nothing more and nothing less than absolute child abuse!
Imagine your child undergoing this brainwashing. Imagine what it takes for a young boy or girl to break free out of this culture of hate. Some do but far too many don’t. How can any of us expect young Palestinians to support peace when their leaders poison their minds against peace?

We in Israel don’t do this. We educate our children for peace. In fact, we recently launched a pilot program, my government did, to make the study of Arabic mandatory for Jewish children so that we can better understand each other, so that we can live together side-by-side in peace. Of course, like all societies Israel has fringe elements. But it’s our response to those fringe elements, it’s our response to those fringe elements that makes all the difference.

Take the tragic case of Ahmed Dawabsha. I’ll never forget visiting Ahmed in the hospital just hours after he was attacked. A little boy, really a baby, he was badly burned. Ahmed was the victim of a horrible terrorist act perpetrated by Jews. He lay bandaged and unconscious as Israeli doctors worked around the clock to save him.

No words can bring comfort to this boy or to his family. Still, as I stood by his bedside I told his uncle, “This is not our people. This is not our way.” I then ordered extraordinary measures to bring Ahmed’s assailants to justice and today the Jewish citizens of Israel accused of attacking the Dawabsha family are in jail awaiting trial.

Now, for some, this story shows that both sides have their extremists and both sides are equally responsible for this seemingly endless conflict. But what Ahmed’s story actually proves is the very opposite. It illustrates the profound difference between our two societies, because while Israeli leaders condemn terrorists, all terrorists, Arabs and Jews alike, Palestinian leaders celebrate terrorists. While Israel jails the handful of Jewish terrorists among us, the Palestinians pay thousands of terrorists among them.

So I call on President Abbas: you have a choice to make. You can continue to stoke hatred as you did today or you can finally confront hatred and work with me to establish peace between our two peoples.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I hear the buzz. I know that many of you have given up on peace. But I want you to know – I have not given up on peace.
Well, yeah, hundreds of thousands of Israelis just snorted again because really, how many of us really believe in peace anymore? Or, more accurately, how many of us believe the Palestinian leadership will ever wake up and help bring peace to their people? Yeah, not many, thus that snort.
I remain committed to a vision of peace based on two states for two peoples. I believe as never before that changes taking place in the Arab world today offer a unique opportunity to advance that peace. I commend President El-Sisi of Egypt for his efforts to advance peace and stability in our region.
Israel welcomes the spirit of the Arab peace initiative and welcomes a dialogue with Arab states to advance a broader peace. I believe that for that broader peace to be fully achieved the Palestinians have to be part of it. I’m ready to begin negotiations to achieve this today – not tomorrow, not next week, today.

President Abbas spoke here an hour ago. Wouldn’t it be better if instead of speaking past each other we were speaking to one another?
And this is another of Bibi's "duh" moments - saying what is obvious and yet will not be. Abbas - the man who financed the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Olympics, the man who has repeatedly denied the Holocaust, the man who promises that not one Jew will be allowed to live in the Palestinian state he envisions...will never speak peace with an Israeli prime minister. But diplomats must leave a window open and so here Bibi frames that window.
President Abbas, instead of railing against Israel at the United Nations in New York, I invite you to speak to the Israeli people at the Knesset in Jerusalem. And I would gladly come to speak to the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.

Ladies and Gentlemen, while Israel seeks peace with all our neighbors, we also know that peace has no greater enemy than the forces of militant Islam. The bloody trail of this fanaticism runs through all the continents represented here.

It runs through Paris and Nice, Brussels and Baghdad, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Minnesota and New York, from Sydney to San Bernardino. So many have suffered its savagery: Christian and Jews, women and gays, Yazidis and Kurds and many, many others.
You thought it was only buses in Jerusalem and restaurants in Tel Aviv. It didn't bother you when the blood in the streets was Jewish blood, did it? But now, now it is your blood, your people. Now it is happening in your countries, in your cities. Now they have brought terror to your doors.
Yet the heaviest price, the heaviest price of all has been paid by innocent Muslims. Hundreds of thousands unmercifully slaughtered. Millions turned into desperate refugees, tens of millions brutally subjugated. The defeat of militant Islam will thus be a victory for all humanity, but it would especially be a victory for those many Muslims who seek a life without fear, a life of peace, a life of hope.

But to defeat the forces of militant Islam, we must fight them relentlessly. We must fight them in the real world. We must fight them in the virtual world. We must dismantle their networks, disrupt their funding, discredit their ideology. We can defeat them and we will defeat them. Medievalism is no match for modernity. Hope is stronger than hate, freedom mightier than fear.

We can do this.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Israel fights this fateful battle against the forces of militant Islam every day. We keep our borders safe from ISIS, we prevent the smuggling of game-changing weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, we thwart Palestinian terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, and we deter missile attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza.

That’s the same Hamas terror organization that cruelly, unbelievably cruelly refuses to return three of our citizens and the bodies of our fallen soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin. Hadar Goldin’s parents, Leah and Simcha Goldin, are here with us today.

They have one request – to bury their beloved son in Israel. All they ask for is one simple thing – to be able to visit the grave of their fallen son Hadar in Israel. Hamas refuses. They couldn’t care less.

I implore you to stand with them, with us, with all that’s decent in our world against the inhumanity of Hamas – all that is indecent and barbaric. Hamas breaks every humanitarian rule in the book, throw the book at them.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the greatest threat to my country, to our region, and ultimately to our world remains the militant Islamic regime of Iran. Iran openly seeks Israel’s annihilation. It threatens countries across the Middle East, it sponsors terror worldwide.

This year, Iran has fired ballistic missiles in direct defiance of Security Council Resolutions. It has expended its aggression in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen. Iran, the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism continued to build its global terror network. That terror network now spans five continents.

So my point to you is this: The threat Iran poses to all of us is not behind us, it’s before us. In the coming years, there must be a sustained and united effort to push back against Iran’s aggression and Iran’s terror.

With the nuclear constraints on Iran one year closer to being removed, let me be clear: Israel will not allow the terrorist regime in Iran to develop nuclear weapons – not now, not in a decade, not ever.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I stand before you today at a time when Israel’s former president, Shimon Peres, is fighting for his life. Shimon is one of Israel’s founding fathers, one of its boldest statesmen, one of its most respected leaders. I know you will all join me and join all the people of Israel in wishing him refuah shlemah Shimon, a speedy recovery.

I’ve always admired Shimon’s boundless optimism, and like him, I too am filled with hope. I am filled with hope because Israel is capable of defending itself, by itself, against any threat.

I am filled with hope because the valor of our fighting men and women is second to none. I am filled with hope because I know the forces of civilization will ultimately triumph over the forces of terror. I am filled with hope because in the age of innovation, Israel – the innovation nation – is thriving as never before. I am filled with hope because Israel works tirelessly to advance equality and opportunity for all its citizens: Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, everyone. And I am filled with hope because despite all the naysayers, I believe that in the years ahead, Israel will forge a lasting peace with all our neighbors.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am hopeful about what Israel can accomplish because I’ve seen what Israel has accomplished. In 1948, the year of Israel’s independence, our population was 800,000. Our main export was oranges. People said then we were too small, too weak, too isolated, too demographically outnumbered to survive, let alone thrive. The skeptics were wrong about Israel then; the skeptics are wrong about Israel now. Israel’s population has grown tenfold, our economy fortyfold. Today our biggest export is technology – Israeli technology, which powers the world’s computers, cellphones, cars and so much more.
And this is Bibi reminding them that not one of them, not one, lives without OUR technologies, OUR contributions.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the future belongs to those who innovate and this is why the future belongs to countries like Israel. Israel wants to be your partner in seizing that future, so I call on all of you: Cooperate with Israel, embrace Israel, dream with Israel. Dream of the future that we can build together, a future of breathtaking progress, a future of security, prosperity and peace, a future of hope for all humanity, a future where even at the UN, even in this hall, Israel will finally, inevitably, take its rightful place among the nations.

Thank you.

And thank you, Bibi - for doing something that few politicians do nowadays - you went in front of the lion and showed them they had no teeth; you went in front of a bunch of sheep and told them they were acting like donkeys. Thanks, Bibi - Israel salutes you today for telling it like it is...I probably still won't vote Likud any time soon, but your words made Israel smile.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Saving Adam (#Hope4Adam) - A Personal Memory

Twenty-four years ago, I got a phone call. They were calling from the Bone Marrow Registry and I was a match. I needed to do two more rounds of testing to confirm. I was the last chance for a 31 year old man who had leukemia. I almost started to cry. I can't do it, I explained. My husband is already in Israel. My daughter is already in Israel. I'm leaving the US in just over a week and I'm here alone with my two very young sons.

This has been my dream for 20 years. I can't. I can't. Oh God, how can I say no...how can I say yes? The woman calmed me down in seconds. No problem, she answered. We partner with Hadassah Ein Kerem. You can do the tests there, donate there.

So  I finished packing, said my goodbyes. I packed 9 suitcases, 6 carry-ons, a carriage and a car seat. I got on the plane and watched my boys fall asleep. My whole life was on that plane, on a ship crossing the Atlantic, or waiting for us on the other side. I loved the house with the curved staircase we rented; I loved my new neighbors who came with cakes and food and advice.

Vered called from Jerusalem and my husband drove me to be tested. The first was a simple blood test. A few days later, Vered called again. You matched most of the criteria. We need to do the more involved test. I went back again; and again they took blood. A few days later, Vered called again. You match. I started to cry. She told me I had to come in again - twice in the next few weeks. Each time, I would "donate" a pint of blood that would be given back to me during the operation. She handed me a book filled with  papers about the operation and though I typically read everything, I didn't open the book. I felt it was in God's hands and God would see me through.

I checked into the hospital. They put me on the Oncology floor but in a private room. Vered brought me a robe with my name embroidered on it in Hebrew. The doctor came in and explained what was to happen. I told him that I realized something. My father came from the Ukraine, a place known to be very anti-Semitic. My mother's family came from Poland...one could say the same there as well. "How do I know I'm not trying to save an anti-Semite?" I joked with the doctor.

I guess the doctor thought I was serious. He looked down at the folder in his hand and then said something like, "I can't tell you who you are doing this for. It isn't allowed. But I can tell you he is one of the Am (one of the people of Israel)."

He put the folder down, checked my blood pressure again, and left the room. The folder was right there and I think it was his way of telling me and so I looked. He was 31 years old. He was Jewish. He died a few weeks after the procedure that was supposed to save his life.

The operation was so painful - not like what they do today. They drilled into my bones and extracted as much as they could. More than normal because the man was very large and they'd been asked to take more if possible. The anesthesiologist did something that was definitely against protocol, if not illegal.  He left the room during the operation and before the drugs had a chance to work. I could feel them drilling and when I cried out, I could hear the doctor apologizing, asking where the anesthesiologist had gone and ordering a nurse to go get him fast. He couldn't stop the operation, he explained to me (I was awake for the beginning) because they needed to get the bone marrow to Ben Gurion airport to meet a plane and there was no time to stop.

The anesthesiologist came back in the room and did something and I fell asleep. I woke up hours later. When the doctor came in to tell me that all went well, they'd taken even more than they'd hoped and they were confident that it would work, he joked and asked me if I would do it again. I started to cry. And he quickly assured me he was joking.

Vered called a few weeks later to tell me that the recipient was doing well, that the marrow was reproducing and he was feeling well. She called me a few weeks later to tell me something terrible  had gone wrong and he'd died anyway. I spoke to an oncologist here who explained that the mistake was the doctor's fault. "They didn't support the platelets," Whatever that means.

Would I do it again?

There is now a young father - also 31 years old. His name is Adam Krief. They've learned so much in 24 years - the process is no longer nearly as painful as it was when I did it; the knowledge to save his life so much more refined. All it takes is one match...one person. Adam's family is Sephardi, originally from Morocco. I went to be tested, hoping to save the life of a young man in New Jersey. It would only be years later that he found a match and his life was saved.

Would I do it again? I would. I would for Adam or for anyone else. I wish I could have saved my recipient's life. People tell me that at least I gave him hope. That's what this is all about - register now, please. Give Adam  hope but more importantly, give Adam's children a father for many, many years to come. Give Adam's wife a husband. Give Adam life.

You can be tested (it takes only a minute and isn't painful at all) in any of these places between 10:00 and 22:00 weekdays until for another week (until Sept 28). Beyond these places in Israel, there are many places all over the US (Detroit, Baltimore, Great Neck, Los Angeles, etc.)

Or Akiva -Orot Mall
Eilat – Icemall
Eilat – Mall Hayam
Eilat – Queen Sheba Mall
Efrat – Dekel Mall
Ariel- Maga Or Mall
Ashdod – Lev Ashdod Mall
Ashdod – Big Fashion
Ashquelon- Chutzot Mall
Beer Sheva – Grand Kenyon (Grand Mall)
Bilu Center (in Rehovot)
Bet Shaan- Tzim Center
Bet Shemesh – Big Kenyon
Givat Shmuel – HaGiva
Givatayim- Givatayim Mall
Dimona – Peretz Center Mall
Hertzliyya- Seven Stars Mall (Shivat Kochavim)
Hedera- Lev Hedera Ofer Mall
Holon- Azrieli Holon
Haifa – Grand Kenyon
Haifa – Chutzot Hamifratz
Haifa – Cinemall (formerly Lev Hamifratz)
Haifa – Azrieli
Tiberius – Mul Hakineret Mall
Yavne – Big Center
Jerusalem- hadassa ein Kerem
Jerusalem- Hadar mall
Jerusalem- Malca Mall
Jerusalem- Pisgat Zeev Mall
Jerusalem- Ramot Mall
Kfar Saba – The Green Mall Kfar Saba (Hayeruka)
Karmiel- Lev Mall
Mevaseret Tzion – Harel Mall
Mevaseret Tzion- Mevaseret Mall
Modiin- Azrieli mall
Maale Adumim- Adumim Mall
Maalot Tarshi’ha- Tzim Center Maalot
Nahariyya- Nahariyya Mall
Nes Tziona – Kenyoter Mall
Natzeret Elit- Dodge Center
Netivot – Tzim Center Mall
Natanya – Ir Yamim Mall
Natanya- Sharon Mall
Afula – Ha’Amakim Mall
Arad – Tzim Center
Petah Tikva – Hakenyon Hagadol (the big mall)
Petah Tikva- Sirkin Mall
Katzrin – Lev Mall
Qiryat Bialik- Kiryon Mall
Qiryat Gat – Lev Ha’ir Mall
Qiryat Shmoneh- Shmoneh Mall
Rosh Pina – Galil Center
Rishon Letzion – Chonim Konim (“Park and Buy)
Rishon Letzion- Zahav Mall
Rehovot – Rehovot Mall
Ramat Gan – Marom Neve
Ramat Gan – Ayalon Mall
Sderot – 7 Mall
Tel Aviv – Dizengoff Center
Tel Aviv – Azrieli Mall
Tel Aviv – Ramat Aviv Mall

You can learn more here: https://www.facebook.com/Hope4Adam/ 

In three hours...

He's coming home. I sent him a Whatsapp message and a picture of all the junk food that I bought for him (and for his younger sister) and then I asked him when he would be home.

"I just left. I should be home in the next three hours."

How can I explain what those words mean to a mother? To a soldier's mother? I have often thought (and written) about the blessing of having your enemies close by. The curse is so obvious - almost daily there have been attacks - stoning, shooting, stabbing, ramming. Great are the ways they try to kill us and but for the alert actions of our soldiers, the death and injury rates would be so much higher.

A woman, mother of two, is in the hospital fighting the battle of her life...if not for her life, certainly she is fighting to regain the life she had just a few days ago. The terrorist who stabbed her in the back managed to get to the spinal cord. What this means for the rest of her life will only be known in the coming days.

I long to have David home. I am most at peace when I know he is here and safe. For now, I know he will take a bus to a bus to a bus to get home. Three hours...

I'm going to cook him some chicken wings now and maybe some brownies as well. We have him for two days, and then it's back to the army. He is on the front lines of our struggle, protecting lives and securing our land from those who believe violence will get them what they want. You'd think after 68 years they would understand that it won't help.

But it's gone on so long, today I'll ignore it. In three hours, he'll be home...

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Terror Attack....Live

Do you want to know, minute by minute, what a terror attack feels like? No, I don't mean living it and I don't even mean, seeing it (thankfully) but just living in those moments when you know it's happened, but not where; and then finding out where, but not knowing what. And then finding out what, and simply watching others as they too understand. It's happened again.

As I walked to the train in Jerusalem this morning, I heard a siren. Big city, not uncommon. Women go into labor, car accidents, someone falls. With over half a million people, ambulances in Jerusalem are constantly on the move. Another siren. Your mind begins to think; your heart goes a bit faster. Another. Oh God, you think. Please...

Another.

Three ambulances have gone past, including one that is an intensive care one. It is capable of treating a severely injured person; it is capable of being a station from which 10 people can be treated.

A police car. Another. A motorcycle police officer. The Yasamnikim - special police unit on motorcycle - two men, heavily armed.  Please, please, please. No...but I know already it's happening. I see the light rail guards. They are standing a bit different, looking around more, scanning, checking their phones.

I walk up to one, "what's happened?"

He looks at me and in a voice that is half anger, half resignation, says, "Sha'ar Prachim" (Herod's Gate of the Old City). That is the where and confirmation of an attack. It is a 10 minute walk away; three minutes on the train and then a 3 minute walk. "Two police officers stabbed."

"How bad?" I ask. The Hebrew is really a request for their medical condition but the translation would simply be - tell me what happened.

"Both moderate, maybe one critical."

I don't know whether to continue walking to work or wait for the train. I wait; I check the news. One is a young woman...only 19 years old, doing her national service with the police. The other is a 45 year old man. She was stabbed in the neck and is on a respirator in very serious condition; he was stabbed in the chest and is in moderate condition.

On the train, we hear more sirens. Now it is police cars and motorcycles continuing to stream towards the attack. At the Damascus Gate, I see two train guards on alert. An Arab with a backpack walks towards them. They call out to him to stop; to hand them his identification. They tell him to hand them his backpack, and he does. He looks...resigned. The guards look...I don't know what the word is. They are watching all around them.

The two policemen were attacked from behind. Stabbed multiple times before the terrorist was neutralized. The Arab is told to lean against the wall; they are going to search him. What is the option? This is the 7th attack in just a few days; there could be more. We are minutes from where the attack took place; where they are struggling to treat and then move two badly wounded people.

The train moves on and as it glides past the Old City walls, everyone is looking. Another gate that offers access to the Muslim Quarter...or maybe it is the Christian Quarter, I'm not sure, is jammed. A police car is in the middle. They are clearly checking everyone.

I get off a stop early. I can't stand feeling closed in and I need to walk. Please God, let them be okay. Don't let them die. Please.

As I walk through the center of Jerusalem. All over, I see police. I feel so bad for them - two of their own are fighting for their lives in a battle that cannot be fought by others. All they can do, is their job and so they are doing it. Everywhere, they are standing a bit more forward, a bit more alert.

But I sense the sadness inside of them...or perhaps it is the sadness in me. I get to the building where I work, and I see a man speaking with another. And then he pulls out a shofar, a ram's horn. It is the month of Elul, which precedes the month of Tishrei. The holidays are coming - Rosh Hashana, the New Year; Yom Kippur, the Day of Judgment; Sukkot, a holiday in which we remember that all is transient, temporary, ordained.

Elul is the month in which we work on ourselves; ask forgiveness from those we have hurt, including ourselves. And we blow the Shofar, the ram's horn, as a call to repent, a call to arms, a call to our very souls.

I saw the man blow the shofar and asked if I could take a quick video and he agreed. And then he leaned towards me and said, "it's Elul and we need the shofar, especially this morning. Two police, did you hear?"

"Yes, I heard," I answered sadly.

"They should have a complete recovery."

"Amen," I answered and watched as he blew the shofar. It was short and then he smiled at me. A reminder, that smile. A reminder that we live and God willing, the police officers will too.

video

The Meaning of Gratitude

Sometimes the greatest lessons come not from those who excel at a given trait, but those who fail miserably. Such it was this week. When you watch someone ignore, or worse, belittle the efforts of others, you quickly realize the value there is in acknowledging how important it is that others try their best.

Imagine how you would feel if you tried to help someone and instead of marveling at your efforts, they turned to others and complained that no one was helping them. You feel alone, upset and resentful. You know you are helping and while you aren't helping in order to receive a thank you, those comments about their never getting help feel like such a slap in the face.

Sometimes, the needs of the one do really outweigh the needs of the many. In Star Trek terms, we always focused on the needs of the many but in real life, you often have situations where one person or one family needs more...and more...and more. And what you end up with is a situation where the many simply can't handle the needs of the one.

In our amazing city, but more specifically, our amazing neighborhood, they've come up with a solution for that. There's what is called a Chessed Committee (chessed is Hebrew for compassion). It is a charity collected primarily from the generosity of people in our neighborhood and the funds are used to help people in need, often due to sudden illness or an operation. Three years ago, I didn't even know they existed. I donated money to a general community fund, never knowing that part of that money is regularly diverted to this smaller but so important fund. I didn't know...until I needed help - more help then my family could provide, longer term than the community could sustain.

Someone called them and told them that we needed help - and help they delivered. Weekly for months, they brought us food. They offered even more help, but I was embarrassed and just couldn't bring myself to take it.

Each week, they arrived with prepared food for Shabbat; plentiful, delicious. I had to almost beg them to stop. When I told them that I thought they could manage, one amazing neighbor told me her husband had had the same operation and there was no way I could do it. I insisted and she reluctantly agreed. By the late afternoon, I couldn't even hold a plastic cup. Clearly, I was not nearly as healed as I thought. The Chessed Committee volunteer called me on Sunday, asked how it went, and when I was honest, she told me that she insisted on restarting food deliveries. A few weeks later, I tried again. I almost had to beg her to let me try!

Ultimately, I was able to resume my cooking and other things in the house, but I have never forgotten the amazing generosity of the Chessed Committee and the community that funds them. Sadly, yesterday I came across someone less able to express generosity and so much more able to express disappointment with...well, nearly everyone. Even when gratitude is expressed, it is used more as a weapon to show one community in a bad light (completely undeserved) by raving about the other.

Some people are good at expressing gratitude towards everyone. Some express it to none. By far, however, the most upsetting are those who express it towards one, with the knowledge that in pointing out the positive of one, they are delivering an insult to the second.

This lack of positivism, has been happening for weeks or perhaps even months but this time, I couldn't bring myself to let it go and so I tried gently to explain how generous and helpful our community is. The response was one of dismissal yet again and sadly, as expected, more criticism. I understand that at hard times in ones life, it is hard to see beyond one's own needs and issues but sometimes the greatest gift you can give yourself is the ability to see beyond yourself. And, when you accomplish this, you'll often find an amazing thing, you'll feel better for it. When you see that other care, you'll feel so more able to cope than when you rush to assume that nobody does. When you offer gratitude towards others, they too feel better and so are more apt to come forward to help more.

I tried again - this time in a telephone conversation, I was screamed at and ordered around. No gratitude forthcoming from there, but an amazing thing happened. Literally over a dozen people wrote to me to thank me for the first post and to offer kind words to mitigate the second. The longer the evening went on, the more responses and thanks I got. And more, people came forward to tell me how they had tried to help but were tired and frustrated to hear that apparently they had done nothing. My amazing community...do nothing? Sorry, not possible. But the amazing thing that came out of my posting was that each learned of the other. It wasn't just about them anymore but rather a community that HAD stepped forward to help; that wanted, that tried, that did.

They cooked, they prayed, they offered comfort. They watched over children, fed them, called them. A lesson for an entire community can come out of a few bitter and angry posts.

The lesson - when you give love, you are more likely to receive it. When you show gratitude, you are more likely to receive that in return as well. And when you give and you don't find gratitude, the giving is not lessened. So you need to find comfort within yourself, if those who should give gratitude don't.

It's a lesson we all need to learn, even if we learn it with the wrong example. When your community bands together to help you, be grateful. When someone does something to make your life easier (or that of your family), focus on the good things they've done, not what you wish they had. And if you did all you could, feel good about yourself. Know that you tried; you did your best and know that you and your community are better for the acts of kindness you offer.

Ultimately, the generosity of the Chessed Committee years ago has encouraged me to help others. What I'm fighting now is the urge to stop helping those who can't see how many people are trying to help. It's depressing being told over and over again, how no one is helping when you know so many are.

And so the real lesson, those who are incapable of showing true respect and gratitude have little to do with the essence of a community that is very focused on chessed, compassion, and good deeds.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Denial Doesn't Work

There seems to be a growing tendency in the world to deal with terrorism by denying it. Saturday night in Minnesota, a man with a knife attacked people at a mall. In at least one case, he asked the victim whether they were Muslim and "referenced Allah during the assault" (according to FoxNews).

Last night in New York City, a bomb exploded and another was found before it could injure more people. Twenty-nine people were injured when the first bomb did explode. Beyond the horror of the attack, is the lessons we learn from them.

An accident means looking for ways to avoid it happening again. Take a different road, slow down near that particular intersection, check to make sure something is held more securely, whatever. A terrorist attack is not an accident and denying its cause hands those who launched the attack a victory. Not only have they successfully delivered their message, they have even scared us so much, we can't even admit it. All we are admitting in our denial is that we are too defeated to even fight back.

When the first plane slammed into the World Trade Center, I watched as newscasters discussed whether it was an accident. When a truck plowed into dozens of people in Nice, I heard them question how it happened.

Now, the Mayor of New York admits that a bomb exploding and another bomb being planted not far away are "intentional" but not necessarily terrorism. If you don't have someone screaming "Allahu Akbar" and all you have is a bomb that has exploded, I can understand the very justifiable hesitation in announcing that Islamic terrorism has again targeted the streets of a western city. The motive remains unknown; the act is very clear.

Regardless of who stabbed those people in Minnesota, it was clearly terrorism. Regardless of who set those bombs in New York, it wasn't a workplace accident, it wasn't random, and it wasn't mental illness. It was terrorism.

In Nice, in Paris, in London, in Jerusalem, in Efrat, in Tel Aviv. And yes, even in New York - it was terrorism.

Watch the explosion -- this was not an accident. This is terrorism.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hey, That One is Mine!

I saw the picture first - hey, OMG, that's Davidi!

Then I looked at the caption. 0404 News is a huge Facebook group in Israel that reports news faster than most places. More, they do amazing things. For example, someone went to a wedding and realized that through a misunderstanding, most of the invited guests didn't show up. Someone wrote to 0404, they confirmed the story and then went online and asked people to show up to help celebrate with the couple. Over 1,000 people showed up to dance; a famous singer stopped by to join in as well.

Unlike so many news outlets that focus on how they can promote themselves, 0404 seems to be dedicated to helping Israelis. They also publish beautiful images of Israel and weekly show soldiers dancing, celebrating, smiling. This time, OMG, the picture included my son.

I missed having Davidi home this past Shabbat. He came home and left early Friday (taking challah and potato kugel with him). I barely got a chance to see him, but the smile in this picture makes it all worthwhile.

Two years ago, he joined a new yeshiva located in Ramle. An Israeli city with a mixed population of Jews and Arabs. Their yeshiva was stoned by local Arabs; fireworks were shot into the basketball courts, and yet slowly this yeshiva has rejuvenated and reclaimed the area, filling abandoned buildings with life and learning.

This past weekend, the boys who came out of the army went home...not to the homes where their families awaited them, but to the yeshiva. An amazing Rabbi, great counselors, and new students who have filled in for the second and third levels.

From Givati and Tank units - they haven't seen each other in a while. Not all of them were able to get out, but enough to make it a wonderful reunion.

This picture is actually just the Givati boys. It'll take me a while to be able to look at this picture without smiling and smiling!


Why Should You Pray for Shimon Peres?

I was asked that question by someone who is, quite justifiably, angry and disgusted by many of the things that Shimon Peres did in his life.


I thought about the question, struggled with it for barely a second, and said the first thing that came to mind, "because he's a Jew, because he's a human being."

That's it. Really. He is someone's father, someone's grandfather, even someone's great grandfather. I have never agreed with his politics. I thought he was a terrible politician, a decent president except when he broke the rules and flaunted his politics.

I'll never think he is/was a great man. I'm glad he had such a strong record of losing elections. I think he did a lot of damage to Israel by apologizing for things long before blame could be determined (and never apologizing when the blame he readily accepted on our behalf was proven not to be ours at all).

I think he lived his life overshadowed by the memory of the Holocaust and the need of many Jews from Europe, to bow before the non-Jew, to appease the calm rather than fight. He was never much of a fighter.

But it doesn't matter now because ultimately, God will decide. His future is in God's hands and it isn't my place to wish upon him some everlasting punishment. I will pray for his recovery; I will pray that God forgives him.

I believe in his way, he loves this land and spent a lifetime trying to serve it as best he could. He is part of a generation mostly lost to us. A generation that was taught to relate to the world and other peoples in a way that helped perpetuate our weakness.

Will I mourn for Shimon Peres? Honestly, probably not much. He helped bring us Oslo, which is responsible for so much of the problems we have today inside our country and in our relationship with the world. That it was doomed to fail, makes it all the more sad and unnecessary.

Shimon Peres is a gentleman, a man of culture. In his own way, I have heard he is a kind man. He was never much of a leader, not for a country like Israel, which is surrounded by our enemies, constantly at war, always on defense. He came from Europe. He was a product of Europe and the western world, transplanted into the Middle East.

I will wish him well. I will wish him peace in the world to come. He deprived so many of peace in this world by running, always running down the wrong roads. So many failures on his part because he was never strong enough to insist that the right message be delivered. The strong message that we are here to stay and we will remain here by right and even by might, when needed.

I've heard Shimon Peres speak many times over the years. He is witty and smart. He can be charming. I can only hope that whatever tasks God offers to him in the world to come, are more suited to the man he wished he was, rather than the man we needed him to be.

Ultimately, in these sad hours, what it comes down to is no longer the political life he led, but the family he leaves behind. They deserve our prayers, our hopes that he will stay with them longer. At the end of the say, as his wife Sonia wanted him to remember, it really is about family. May God offer them comfort in these hours.

Monday, September 12, 2016

September Realities

September in Israel brings a return to school, a return to working on a somewhat more normal schedule. It means more traffic, a faster paced life. Mostly.

Last year, Aliza decided to go to a sleep way school after the local school just became wrong for her in so many ways. I think the school should have been forced to leave the neighborhood; not the neighborhood kids leave the school, but an important lesson for us all is that you have to deal with what is, not what you wish things were.

David is settling into a nice schedule. Army, home. Army, home. This week, he went back to his yeshiva for Shabbat. Most of his class went into the Givati unit; a few were sent to the Tank brigade. This weekend, they were off and so they went to the yeshiva, as did the Givati boys.

Afterwards, Davidi called and asked if he could go to a barbecue at the home of one of the other soldiers from his unit. That is one of the ironies I noticed long ago about the army. How do you know your son is doing well in the army, making friends and living the experience, not just surviving it?

They spend all week together, so many packed in a room, forced to shower together, eat together. There is little privacy, little "alone" time. And when they come home, what they often do, is get together with their unit. Last time, it was a pool party at the home of his Mem-Mem ("Department" Commander...George - help, what's the right translation here?). This time, it was one of the soldiers.

The road to where this soldier lives is much more central than where we live and one of the roads that has always scared me. It is narrow in many places, with hills that come very close. It is, in a very real way, a terrorist's ideal topography and many cars have been firebombed, stoned, even shot at. There are few places I will hesitate to go in Israel but there are places where I hold in the fear. There are two places on the road to Aliza's school in Kiryat Arba/Hebron; and this other road is another place.

He's 20 years old. He's faster than I am; stronger than I am. He's been trained. He has a rifle. To forbid him to go is to give in to terrorism. I compromise and ask him to call me when he gets there. That's my mother's fault. She used to make us do that in the States.

Everyone knows that if you have to call your mother when you get home, God will ensure you get there safely. Or at least that's what I think is the rule.

So Davidi called me when he got there and then, in a quiet voice, he said to me, "His mother reads your blog."

A few times, people have come up to me and asked me if I was "a soldier's mother." By far, the cutest thing was when a man came up to me, looked at me, looked at Elie, and said, "you're a soldier's mother's son!"

I don't know whether David was embarrassed at having been identified as one of "a soldier's mother's sons" or not but it made me smile.

He went back to the army on Sunday afternoon with a box of brownies, a load of clean clothes, and hopes he'd be home in two weeks. Aliza left for school. I'm home emptying out my bedroom, hoping that somehow we'll all build the new closet we bought so that I can put all this stuff back into a new, rearranged bedroom that will somehow be the one I've always dreamed of having.

We'll see about that. In the meantime, the summer is over, the nights have just a tiny, tiny bit of a chill in them (well, except for last night). But it's getting dark a tiny bit earlier, the traffic has returned. The kids are back in school...even two of the grandchildren are now officially into the "system."

September realities.

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