Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Is Jonathan Pollard a Hero?

It's an interesting and complex question, which may not, yet, have an answer.

Ask some Israelis, and they’ll tell you he is. He knew that the interests of Israel were being damaged because his bosses were withholding secret information from Israel…information they were required to share with their ally according to signed agreements between the countries.

Ask many Americans, to my great sorrow, even Jewish ones, and they will spout forth misinformation about Pollard. “He committed treason and should rot in hell,” I’ve be told many times. Well, you’re wrong. He wasn’t convicted of treason.

He wasn’t even indicted on treason charges.
By contrast, Iva Ikuko Toguri D’Aquino (Tokyo Rose) WAS convicted of treason and granted a presidential pardon after about 28 years (two years less than Pollard has already served for a crime that carries a standard 2-4 year sentence).

Mildred Gillars actively worked for the Germans during World War II. She was indicted for treason…8 counts of them and convicted on one, and sentenced to 10-30 years. She served 12 and then immediately got parole.

My opinion? Heroes are people who do the amazing under unbelievable conditions. I have a few heroes, maybe even too many to mention. So here’s a quick look at two.

In 1973, when Avigdor Kahalani disobeyed orders to pull back his few remaining tanks rather than be overwhelmed by the oncoming Syrian army, he refused…no, not just refused…he suddenly couldn’t hear the command. He knew that he was the last line of defense, far above tens of thousands of Israelis in the Galilee. As the radio crackled, Kahalani ordered his meager remaining tanks to spread out, and the battle was underway.

Confused by the sudden attack, the Syrian army stopped. They thought they’d marched straight into a huge battalion of Israeli tanks just over the next ridge. All the way from left to right …look how far across they were firing from — just imagine how many Israeli tanks there must have been. In reality, there were fewer than a dozen. Hero, he’ll always be in my eyes, despite anything he did or did not do later in life.

Natan Sharansky — forever and ever my hero. From the minute he forced a KGB agent to jump on and off trains just for the heck of it as they tried to follow him, to the moment he was told by a Soviet guard that he would be free and all he had to do was walk straight across the nearly frozen bridge in front of him. On the other side was Avital and beyond was Israel and still, Natan refused to be under Soviet command. He walked…but not straight. He zigzagged his way across that bridge; always my hero.

Pollard? Not so much, honestly. I want him home in Israel but he had options and he made bad choices. What he should have done long ago, instead of passing that information to Israel illegally, was fly to Israel and say the Americans are being dishonest. I’ve seen the reports they are withholding from you.

He chose a path, a dishonest one. He became a spy. The cause was right; the method wrong. But he paid for his crime — above and beyond anything that was humanly just. America got caught cheating on an ally…they should have had the decency to uphold the plea bargain agreement they accepted and Pollard should have been freed, stripped of his American citizenship, and dumped over the Canadian or Mexican border 25 years ago. He would have been nothing.

Instead, America made him something. What they wanted him to be was a warning to American Jews — God help you if you dare to spy on America. They made him an embarrassment to American Jews, forcing them to declare again and again their allegiance to the goldena medina. Where by rights they should not have to choose, America forces this on them every time Pollard is mentioned in the news.

“You have to stop writing about him. You are embarrassing American Jews,” one person wrote to me. I won’t bother quoting my response.

So no, at this moment, Jonathan Pollard is not a hero, but an abused captive of a dishonest and dishonorable government. On November 20, 2015, he will be released on parole. Not because the Obama government is attempting to appease Israel on Iran — the date was decided 30 years ago. Check the prison records. We all knew about this date long, long ago — long before Iran, long before Obama.

On November 22, if Pollard lands in Israel, yes, we will celebrate, and then we will turn back to our lives; grateful to have him home and grateful to have this tragic and painful episode over.

On November 22 and in the days that follow, the United States will have a choice. Release Pollard fully — not just from prison but from a law that says a parolee may not leave the country for five years after the parole date…let him come home to Israel. Strip him of his citizenship and let him board an El Al plane…or turn him into a hero.

If Israel can stomach dozens of massive demonstrations to celebrate the return of the child-killer Samir Kuntar and other terrorists and murderers, I think Obama can handle a few hours of Israelis singing and cheering. By contrast, we won’t fire into the air to celebrate Pollard’s return; we won’t burn American flags and scream Death to America. We’ll just cry some happy tears, sing a few songs, and go back to work the next day so so happy to be done. If Pollard is allowed to leave.

If Pollard is not allowed to leave, his story will be spread, lifted, published and more. He will be a Prisoner of Zion — as Sharansky was, and many others. He will be the brave one left behind, as Kahalani was.

Is Jonathan Pollard a hero? Well, in the end, the decision rests with the United States.

By the end of November, he’ll be living in Israel, or he will indeed be our hero. If he’s forced to remain in the US, Israeli officials will make visits to him regularly, each to be reported in the news here and abroad. Israelis will continue to demand his release — more than ever now that we’ll have access to him directly. His quotes, his pleas to come home — all will be echoed around the world.

What has been cruel for the last 25 years will become inhumane. Others accused of far more serious crimes were allowed to leave the country well before the five year period ended. Now is the time for Obama to be smart and think with his head, not his hatred.

Americans don’t want Pollard; Pollard doesn’t want America. Take his citizenship and refuse him any rights to reenter — that is enough. Before November 20, I recommend the US government consider carefully what will happen on November 22.

Don’t compound so many past mistakes by turning Jonathan Pollard into the very hero you fear he will be.

Update: A short time ago, it was announced that one of the "victims" of an airstrike today was Samir Kuntar, who quickly returned to terror after being released early from an Israeli prison...this pain too, the US will never have to imagine, never experience.

Shamelessly Eavesdropping

That moment when you shamelessly eavesdrop on a conversation between your children because it's all being posted to the family WhatsApp group. A few weeks ago, a short time before the Sabbath started, my kids wished each other a Shabbat shalom - it was so sweet how each joined in and said a few words.

And then today, Davidi posted a picture of the results of Amira's MADA (ambulance squad) tests many years ago (like more than 10-12 years ago?). He's there helping others study for an upcoming qualification test on a course he's now qualified to teach. Back then, Amira had also attended a week-long course that enabled her to serve in multiple casualty incident. Back in those days, these were mostly terror attacks on buses and cafes (The Ostrich Calls to Me). What David found were the test results from when she finished - a very nice grade she got too!

My son-in-law was surprised that the network goes back that far in time and added this comment in the group.

Davidi's response was wonderful. "What network? Everything is papers. I don't think they had computers back then."

Did I mention I adore these guys?

Monday, July 20, 2015

An Update about the Ramle Hesder Yeshiva

With funds that were raised and a very generous donation from the city of Ramle, my son's Hesder yeshiva has had security cameras installed to help protect and secure the area.

I spent 45 minutes on the phone with the Deputy Mayor. He was polite, interested, wonderful. He could easily have been different. I don't live in Ramle yet it was enough that my son goes to school there.

He said he would see what they could do - and they did.

So thank you to the amazing city of Ramle for caring enough about a bunch of teenage boys who will, in the very near future, take their places in the army of Israel.

CNN and Terror - When Hypocrisy Rules

There was an explosion in Turkey today. When the smoke had cleared, 27 innocent victims were killed and CNN reported, "Dozens dead after terror attack in Turkish border city."

They did - look:

And the first sentence was: "An apparent suicide bombing ripped through a rally Monday in the Turkish border town of Suruc."

It got me to thinking. BBC referred to it as a bombing, not a terror attack. But CNN used the T word...and I remembered in anger other bombings...

In August, 2001...a bomb "went off." Nowhere does CNN use the word terror. Summer, 2001...bombs were exploding all the time in Israel - terror was rampant...except CNN couldn't use the word.

The next day, Israel struck military targets in Gaza. The minute the attack happened, we all knew it was a suicide bomber; we all knew it was a terror attack...and still, a day later when it was confirmed, still CNN did not call it terror, not then, not now.

And note the difference in how things are phrased - for the Turks, this violent, terror attack involved a bomb "ripping through" where in a pizzeria filled with children, the, not a bomb....but a "large explosive device" simply "went off."

And I love the sentence at the end because, yeah, 15 people were murdered - orphans created in a matter of seconds...children free for the summer...but hey, it's really important that CNN tells you where the restaurant was located.

When hypocrisy rules a media outlet, its mandate to call what they do "journalism" expires.

Yes, absolutely - today there was a horrible terror attack in Turkey. I hope tomorrow, CNN will issue an apology to the families of the Sbarro victims for failing to report accurately on August 9, 2001 (and likely every day since).


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Egypt Does Obama

wow...for once, all I can do is sit back and Egyptian commentators evaluate what Barack Obama considers one of the greatest threats to national security.

Watch the intro, listen to what Obama says...and then watch the face of the Egyptian commentators as they debate what Obama says.

If these were Israelis speaking, the media would be speaking of a major rift in Israeli-US relations but these are "only" Egyptian media commentators so they can say what they want. Best line goes to the guy who says, "Is he insane? Climate change is their number one security threat?"

Here's the rest of it...hysterical.


When Politically Just Stupid

After 29 years, Tom Fuentes left the FBI in 2008, the last four of those years as an Assistant Director. No, Fuentes didn't die...he apparently lost his mind.

Now a frequent contributor to CNN, Fuentes apparently has a problem identifying the name "Mohammed."

Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez murdered five unarmed Marines in Chattanooga, Tennessee last week. A friend posted this very apt some point, politically correct is just stupid.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Protective Edge...War...A Year Later

This is a very special video of some very special people. Really, it is about a special nation that was called upon to withstand an incredible and frightening experience - war - yet again. 

But Israel pulled together - citizens and soldiers. This video shows you, a year later, some amazing young people. Try to remember, as you listen to them tell you about last summer, that they are only in their early 20s. One is the brother of Hadar Goldin, who was killed during the fighting. Hamas still holds his body. They attempted to imply that Hadar was alive, a prisoner to be turned into a bargaining chip. 

This time, they were denied that because Hadar's commanding officer risked his life to try to get Hadar back. He ran into the tunnel...alone. If I was his commanding officer, I would award him the highest honor. If I was his mother, I would smack him, hug him, smack him, hug him and never let him out of the house again.

Brave young men and women who were on the edge last year and protected Israel. They were, in a very real sense, our protective edge.


Monday, July 13, 2015

This One is On Us...

Two soldiers went to Cafe Hillel at a mall in Jerusalem...they ordered two sandwiches...the total bill came to...66 NIS, about $16.

When they were done, they got the bill. It detailed the two sandwiches at 33 NIS each, and then another line item was added...

-66.00 NIS

and a note written below "Today, this is on us. Have a good day :-)"

Israel...always and only...Israel.

-- this was posted to a Facebook group with over 100,000 people writing about life for soldiers in Israel...some good, some bad...some very special, like this one!

We, The Jewish People

We, the Jewish people given the Holy Land of Israel, then exiled and then reunited with our homeland, came to live in peace among our neighbors, establish Justice, ensure domestic tranquility and security, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

That was the plan, anyway.

Throughout a history that is longer than almost any other nation or people, we have held to certain great truths that separate us from other nations, alienate us and have, over the centuries, often turned us into victims of a hatred so strong, it survives and thrives beyond those infected by it.

We have stood among our friends, and we have stood alone. As a people, we were founded at that very moment when Abraham spoke of One God to a world that did not know Him. As a people, we were liberated from Egypt, from slavery, and we learned the value not only of freedom, but of unity.

We traveled across the wilderness for forty years with one goal in mind. To establish a home in the land that God promised to us and to live a life dedicated to the Torah that He gave to us. To the Jewish people alone, of all the nations. We were given commandments that ordered us to be moral, to be humane, to care for the weak among us and among the other nations. We were told to honor our parents, from whom wisdom comes, and treat the stranger among us with respect.

To all the world, we stood alone as we crossed the desert; we stood alone as we reconquered our land at the end of those forty years, and again over two thousand years later when we returned home again.

We stood alone when Amalek attacked us; when Haman plotted against us. We stood alone when the Greeks came, and when the Romans pillaged our land. We stood alone during the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the pogroms and finally, we stood almost entirely alone and abandoned during the Holocaust when over a million and a half Jewish children were slaughtered to the deafening sound of silence from Washington, London, and Rome. And though the world believed us to be weak, easily persecuted, abandoned, homeless and alone, we nurtured and clung to our greatest truth. We were never alone. That is the greatest truth that we know. Not for a single instant in time, in no place we wandered, and under any circumstances.

Even in the depths of our sorrow, in exile, in the ghettos and concentration camps of Europe, the distant communities in Yemen, India, Ethiopia, not even in the freezing cold of Siberia. We were never abandoned and never really homeless.

We did not stand alone in 1947, when a majority of the nations of the world called for the re-establishment of our ancient, now modern homeland. But none of those nations stood with us when five Arab nations invaded a few months later, in May 1948, when we called our home Israel, and called on Jews from all over to come home. The exile would end and we would live in peace. That was the plan, anyway.

But war was launched against us, not by the “Palestinians” who did not exist at that time, but by the Arab nations who found it to be an insult to have Jews live in a land they wanted to claim alone. We fought because we understood, even then, that there would be, could be, should be no other place for us but here in the land God promised to us. And the world watched in astonished wonder as we emerged from the smoke to be stronger, bigger, more determined than ever.

Out of the gas chambers and the flames, came a promise forged with our blood and that of our ancestors. God promised us this land and chose us from among the nations. And we made a promise back to God and to ourselves. Great nations have fallen, while we remained. Greece and Rome are no more, Egypt, Assyria, Edom, Philistine, Canaan, Moab, the Ottoman Empire, the Persians and others. We have faced them all, but we remain. And there is the second great truth. We, the Jewish people will not die.

We will not allow the light that we bring to this world to be extinguished, diminished, threatened. No matter how alone we stand, we will still stand for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren. We will stand for those who are weak and alone and need help. We stood for the Vietnamese boat people long before anyone else. We have welcomed thousands who fled Sudan. We stood in Haiti, Turkey, Nepal, Kenya and beyond.

We rescued and saved, and while we gave to the world, while we were the light God commanded us to be, we gathered our people from all over the world. We brought the Jews from Yemen, the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia. And now Jews from India and France are coming home in great numbers.

Today, again, the world stands on the edge of a more frightening tomorrow – for them, and for us. There is a great threat against us and the world rushes to our enemies. What Hitler did in ten years, Iran could attempt to do in ten minutes. It was left to the world to stop them; as they demanded of us. In silence we waited for justice; we waited while deadlines passed. We listened to their plans, to their negotiations, to their appeasement.

We were urged not to take action; to trust the world to defuse the Iranian threat. Today, we see that once again, we were betrayed; once again, we are asked to stand alone.

And we will stand, as we have always stood – alone, but never alone. But we will remind you that the Jewish people will not die. That, God will not allow; that, we will not allow.

Make your agreement, end the sanctions. Allow them to rush towards nuclear power and watch as we, the Jewish people rise above this threat as we have all others. Their missiles will miss, the bombs explode too early. The computers will malfunction, and the earth will shake because we the Jewish people make this vow today.

In anger we turn to the world, not in fear. We lived for 2,000 years in fear, that time is over. We will rescue our people from the hatred that has festered inside of you almost since time began. We will bring our people home – from France, from Germany, from England and the United States. Today, this very day, a plane is flying filled with more who choose Israel despite what is likely to be signed today in Vienna. Hundreds of Jews from France are coming home this summer to Israel forever.

We will make our stand here in our land. Strong because we know this is ours. Strong because we have learned that deceit is your way, not ours.

As you sign this agreement with the devil, let this one message sink into your souls. What you do means nothing to us. Our destiny was never yours to guard; we would not be that foolish. You do not stand for the Jewish people; that is not your right.

Know too, that on the souls of our forefathers, we make this vow. In the memory of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…and in the name of Sarah and Rebecca, Leah and Rachel…and in the memory of all those who came before us…and for all those who will come after us…we make this vow.

We will not be destroyed; we will not be exiled again. Masada will not fall again. This is our land. This is our people. This is our destiny. We will stand alone always knowing that we, the Jewish people, will never be alone.

Blessed is the God of Israel, who neither sleeps nor slumbers.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Chamberlain Lives

John Kerry is working as hard as humanly possible, even inhumanely possible, to reach an agreement with the Iranians. Rumors say it is possible, even in the coming hours, for there to be an announcement of an agreement, a deal that will allow the Iranians to proceed, will ease the sanctions.

Based on the word of a nation that has threatened to destroy my country, promised to wipe us off the face of the map, sang and danced in the streets while chanting death to America and to Israel...based on their word and ignoring all the times they have lied, America will agree to bow, to surrender, to appease. Evil will win; Neville Chamberlain has been reborn.

In 1938, Nazi Germany announced a plan - it was step one in an elaborate new world they planned to create. Step one was to take over the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia. Step two would be Poland, and so on...Chamberlain agreed - they could have Sudetenland. Appeasement over taking a stand against evil. He chose to feed evil thinking its appetite would be satisfied. The war he tried to avoid, came anyway but by then it was against a stronger, more confident enemy.

These next hours are, to John Kerry, the most important moments of his life and the heck with the consequences. At 71, he might even be figuring that he'll be gone before the Iranians convince the world that he was completely wrong.

My first thought when I heard an announcement that they were closing in on an agreement was that Kerry had probably worn through the fabric at the knees of his fancy suit, so busy groveling before the Iranians. My second thought was of a single name, a man who has taken on the persona of the eternal groveler.

Neville Chamberlain, for all he might have accomplished in his life, will forever be remembered for his policy of appeasement, surrendering to Nazi Germany at a time when history might have been changed, millions saved.

Chamberlain lives John Kerry and at this critical point in time, history may well show later that lives could have been saved if only Kerry and his boss had the courage to say no.

The Iranians are the quintessential bargainers. It isn't easy to "out-bargain" an Iranian. It is possible, but not easy and the first, most essential trait you must have to accomplish this is strength. But strength alone is meaningless if you don't also have guts. The United States still has the strength but under its current leadership, it lacks the guts.

The pictures coming out of the meetings are amazing, the body language to telling. Look at this picture. There is Kerry - all attention on Mohammad Javad Zarif. Just tell me what to seems he is saying...whatever it takes, let's get this done.

And then there is Zarif - look at his hands, look how he leans his chin on his hands. This is not the body language of a man worried about an agreement failing. This man is amused. Go on, he is silently telling Kerry, entertain me. I'm having the time of my life. Agreement, no agreement, who cares? What matters is that Iran has won.

"Death to America" and "Death to Israel" rang out in the streets of Tehran on the day, the final day, the last day, the deadline. It was make or break...and it broke.

Only, it didn't break because once again, beyond the "final, firm, that's it, seriously" deadline, John Kerry kept talking and so Zarif and his ilk are not only entertained, they are ecstatic.

The new extension goes to Monday, after the last several have failed. One person said that they've tried so hard, they just can't fail...

Can't fail...what a concept...based on what I'm hearing about this deal, I'm not sure we can afford to succeed.

As for Neville...he's laughing his head off, perhaps as much as the Iranians...after nearly 80 years, he's about to yield his title as the Chief Appeaser to John Kerry.

The Body of a Mother

A big question that pops into my mind all hours of the day and night is where Davidi will go in the army - which unit. It's actually a quite silly debate because other than the "special" and "elite" units, their non-war time "activities" are amazingly similar. The guys in tanks are in tanks...but also on check points. Artillery fires massive...well...artillery...but the rest of the time (most of the time they are in service), they are assigned to check points and patrols.

Givati, Golani, Kfir and others...once you are in a combat unit, it is...well...a combat unit but the illusion of safety is there and I hold on to it.'m trying to call him David. Davidi is the name of a child, a young boy, who runs after his older brothers, not the young man who has passed both his brothers and his father in height. Davidi would come over at random times and give me a hug; David has to be asked for one and he'll give it, but the look is one that says it's going to be me asking from now on. Davidi was "order-able;" David...not so much.

As Davidi got older, he would ask if he could do a "meshmeret" - a shift serving on the local ambulance squad; and it was almost always in Maale Adumim. David tells me that he's coming home to do a meshmeret...and it is often in Jerusalem, a big and busy city where ambulances are in action all the time. In Maale Adumim, to my great joy, Davidi could spend the entire shift in the volunteer room outfitted with TV and computers, air conditioning, cold and hot water, couches and a small kitchen. In Jerusalem, he's lucky if he gets a chance to grab something to eat in between calls.

David shows a sensitivity that was rarely shown by the others at 19 (and yes, they have this sensitivity in abundance now but pre-army, not so much). Oh, he's got a ways to go, but he's thoughtful...or tries to be. At 19, his older brothers knew they were stronger than me, but didn't always act on that strength; now, with David, when he is home, he is quick to reach for the high shelf, take out the garbage, mix the 3 kilos of challah dough I make each week by hand, and so much more.

He stands in between in so many ways. David was the first of my children born in Israel and too often in his mind he was lumped with Aliza, who was born 4 years after he was. It was the three older ones, and the "kids" - as the older ones referred to the two younger ones.

Only he didn't want to be there with the younger ones. He always wanted to be with the bigger ones. By his nature, David walks between conflicts, seldom taking sides, trying to balance, to understand everyone and reject no one.

As for what's coming at him, he's more aware of what the army is than his brothers were at the same age. Elie had no one really to speak with before and so he carved a path - for himself and for the others. Shmulik went through the Hesder program; different in many ways than the experience that Elie had. David goes through Hesder but also speaks with Elie and the others.

He's lived with the army not just in our society, as Elie and Shmulik did, but in our family. Elie was eight years old when David was born; Shmulik was about to turn six. David was 11 when Elie went into the army; 13 the first time Elie went to war. He was 14 when Shmulik went in to the army and 15 the second time Elie went to war. He sat around our table listening first to Yaakov, then Elie, then Shmulik and Chaim speaking about the army.

More and more, he has reached the older group - where he speaks a common language of army, of cars, of computers and smartphones. In November, he goes into the army. I've been asked to speak abroad again (more on that later) and will be abroad for 5 days and though David thinks his group will be inducted close to the end, I have this growing feeling of dread that the dates will shift and I'll be abroad.

I'm experienced enough with the army to know that it is a silly thing to feel this dread. Even if...even if...I am abroad - all I will miss is that ride to the drop off point, where, if I'm lucky, I'll get a kiss and a hug and a quick wave...and then I'll talk to him later and he'll tell me he's wearing a uniform.

The first week is nothing - and they send them home for Shabbat...and by then, I'll be home to see him...even if he goes in while I'm away. Even the first six months are nothing, I remind myself repeatedly. He'll be in training at least that long, if not longer.

The "relative" quiet is holding - a few rockets here or there, not many - certainly not enough to trigger a it looks like the pattern will hold and there will not be a war this year. In 2009 there was held for four years, another in 2012, another in 2014.

If I do the math, the summer of 2016...before/after - David will be finished with basic training. Givati, Golani, Shiryon...ground forces, tanks,'s all too frightening to consider and it's really only a mind game because we never know. A dozen times there will be hints that a war is about to start and each time, suddenly, it will fizzle...almost quiet again...just enough quiet to deter a response...until the fizzle turns to sizzle and the quiet we were expecting doesn't come...and a whisper of mobilization, and then war...

My third soldier (with apologies to Yakov who was my first in many ways and Chaim who was my fourth); my youngest son (even factoring in Yakov and Chaim on this one). In a few weeks, more soldiers will be inducted; and then, a few months after that, David.

In the quiet of my heart, I don't believe I'll survive this one. And before you ask or fear, I'm fine...I am...and my brain has already kicked in, yelling at my fingers for typing that first part...drama and stupidity, says my brain to my heart. You didn't think you'd survived Elie going in, Shmulik too. You did, and you'll survive this one. My heart looks away, stupid brain, I'm allowed my feelings and it isn't like I'm telling anyone else!

Did you not see the fingers type out your thoughts, my brain smirks at my heart. Leave me alone, my heart says again. Just leave me alone. I'm breaking with this one, I am, says my heart. Drama and stupidity says my brain again and though my hand doesn't move, the brain registers a slap to my forehead.

And while the debate inside of me rages, the words I'll never say; thoughts I'll never share float to the surface. I can't do this again.

I know that I will...and I will. Really. The heart is really full of drama sometimes; it lacks the logic of the brain. It feels, so deeply. Everything is magnified, extreme. It breaks, it fears, it mourns, it shatters, and is rebuilt.

The brain is so much calmer, almost embarrassed by the heart. The brain is happy that the mouth is close by so it can be controlled more easily and words the heart would utter are never spoken. The mouth takes its instructions from the brain, after all, leaving the deepest expressions of the heart unsaid.

Usually. Sometimes, despite the brain's intentions, the heart wins and the mouth speaks our greatest fears or the fingers type them. It is a battle as ageless as time - the brain, the heart, the mouth, the fingers.

I've got a bit over three months to pull myself together, to be ready to drive him to the drop off point where my heart will promise to remain silent, where the brain will be filled with sentences and topics that will assure David I have not a worry in the world. And as it speaks to David of silly things, it will watch the heart very carefully, not trusting for a moment that something won't slip. The mouth will smile and transmit the brain's words, under strict orders to ignore the heart. The eyes will remain dry and do their best to reflect the smile, with the promise that tears can come later, after he does inside, and only after I have reached a safe zone, a place where no one will see.

The arms will offer a quick hug and despite the heart screaming to hold on, to not let him go, the arms will release him and he'll go off with a wave and a smile and never once give my heart notice. And the arms that wanted to hold, will wave back, even as the heart feels as if it is shattering.

And I will watch him go, as his brothers did before him and I will be what I have been for more than eight years now...a soldier's mother.

I don't know how, but I'll do it. I will...I think.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Greatest of Fools

The greatest of fools are not those who make mistakes - all humans make mistakes. It is part of learning, part of growing. Not only acceptable, but expected, anticipated, perhaps even preferred. Those small mistakes we make along the path of learning, often help prevent larger mistakes later on.

More, those small mistakes guide our paths, if we are smart, so that we recognize when the road is wrong and learn to adjust our course. When we are smart. Sometimes this means a small adjustment; other times it means turning back completely to find the right road. As bad, perhaps even humiliating, as it can be to turn back, it can only be worse when you have to do it later on anyway.

Great fools are not fools because they make mistakes, but because they fail to learn from them. Or worse, are so set on the end of the road, they care little for what it takes to get there. They miss the important signs; the crucial hints that only disaster awaits them if they continue on this path. So great fools go on, convincing themselves if not others, that perhaps the path will get better, maybe this really isn't the wrong road entirely?

This is true from the smallest of issues to the largest; from dating and marrying, to raising children, to deciding the course of nations. Some decisions can be corrected; others are forever doomed by the misguided idea that they alone determine destiny, their own, their mate's, their nation's.

The greatest of fools, even worse than great fools, are ones who miss the signs and so fail to learn from them and then, having reached the point of disaster, fail again. Worse, knowing it is wrong and is not working, they persevere while attempting to convince others along that path that even the wrong path can be turned right.

It is at that moment that they rise from being a great fool to being the greatest of fools. They will do stupid things like pass the gas station that clearly points out is the last one for dozens of miles.

They can see the tank gauge is pushing empty and they believe, despite all signs to the contrary, that they can make it to the next gas station. Or, knowing the school is wrong for their children, they refuse the obvious signs and sign them up for yet another. Or, having invested money in something they were sure would make them rich, they invest more hoping to pull it out of the deep and endless pit they now recognize they have entered.

Or, they agree to speak to a nation that is not interested in the same goal, worse, has a far sinister goal in mind but knows it needs time. And in negotiation, you give them the time. Worse, you ease the sanctions. Worse still, you set deadline after deadline and as each approaches, a new demand comes up. They are planning the bomb right in front of your faces and still, you persevere, still you hope, still you dream.

Why, if they want a peaceful future, do they test intercontinental weapons that can carry the very bomb you are stupid enough to believe they don't want?

In July, 2014, a full year ago, a deadline was set for reaching a "comprehensive agreement" with Iran…the deadline was November, 2014.

In November, 2014, the fools came up with an idea of extending the deadline until June, but the promise of a "framework" agreement by the end of March, 2015.

March came…and March went. It brought the spring, as it always does, and the beginnings of the promise that the school year would end. Children could taste freedom coming; the world could not envision an agreement with Iran despite world leaders meeting in Switzerland.

April came and a framework agreement was indeed announced, a bit late, but still worth the effort if the results would be delivered. What was delivered however, was merely a promise to end the sanctions.

To increase his chance of success, Obama catered to the Iranians further, insisting that demanding Iran recognize Israel within the confines of any deal would be a bad idea. Because, like, them having to admit who recognizing the country they have repeatedly promised to wipe off the face of the earth with the nuclear bomb they plan to get, would be just too insulting. Damn fool.

The Europeans joined the world of fantasy by suggesting that releasing millions and billions was a "decisive step" towards…well, anything. Naturally, the Iranians were dancing in the street…Israelis wondered whether it was time to elevate the fools to great fools. June would surely make the decision easier, would it not?

June came and the children finished school; the weather turned even hotter as it always does in June. The winter flowers began to die off; the rains of Israel over until the winter comes. What didn't happen was that comprehensive agreement. Despite talks in Vienna…nothing.

And so, on June 30, 2015, the fools became great fools, suggesting what they had failed to achieve in a year, they would achieve in a matter of days. July 9 – a firm and final date, they said. This is…was, the latest date at which the deal could be presented to Congress in order to actually lift the sanctions. July 9 came…and went.

The Iranians are accusing Kerry of "psychological warfare" but that would imply a level of intelligence that sadly, I doubt Kerry has.

And, a few hours ago, one thing was accomplished in the Iran-World talks…the great fools became the greatest fools as they sat down to continue driving that car down the wrong road, miles and months from any real chance to turn this thing around. They are out of gas, out of ideas but most of all, they are out of what Jews called "saichel." The best definition of the word saichel I have found is "innate common sense."

So there you have it. It would be funny if it weren't so tragic; it would be hysterical, if our lives didn't depend on it. The Iranians are laughing their heads off, and rightly so. There is a very thin line between fools and clowns.

As for Israelis today, we are amazed. We are somewhat entertained by the thought that we were right so long ago and still the world refuses to see it. We knew there would be no agreement...or feared that if there was, it would enable Iran to get a nuclear bomb (probably even faster than if there had been no talks). But we are also angry because every meeting, every missed deadline, brings the threat closer. While the greatest of fools have been talking, the greatest of evil has been planning.
Once the greatest of evil was a man with a master plan, a final solution. He brought the world to the brink, murdered millions. What it took him almost a decade to accomplished, can now be achieved in minutes and still the fools are blind. Now the greatest of evil is a country where millions gathered today to chant, "Death to Israel" - even as the greatest of fools extended, yet again, talks that never had a chance to succeed in the first place.

On the lives of my children, you dare to speak of peace and agreements with a nation that has sworn in so many languages that they want our deaths. Another deadline, and still you talk because you are, above all else, the greatest of fools.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Jabotinsky and the Light Rail

Earlier today...last week, last month, last year...I wrote about the light rail being's a picture of what it looks like.

Note that this is right before the Shuafat station (I recognize the building in the background)...right as the light rail train goes THROUGH this Arab neighborhood allowing passengers from there to get to and from work, to and from shopping, to and from medical treatments at several of our hospitals.

Not a day goes by that I don't see Arabs on the train - often, I see them come on the train and stand watching to see if there is an inspector around before deciding if they will pay or not. Twice I have been on the train when it was attacked at another predominantly Arab station (once the attack was with tear gas).

Note the size of those rocks in the hands of these Arab men as they prepare to attack...note that it is likely that the window you see in front of you is about to be smashed. It is unlikely that anyone in the train will be hurt because, in anticipation of this violence, the train was made to be quite secure. But money will be wasted, people will be frightened, time will be lost - a fortune in broken glass and damaged windows has already been spent. There isn't a single train I have been on in months that does not show signs of attacks on at least one (and usually several or even most) on the windows and doors.

My feeling is that for every day the train is stoned, it should not stop in these areas for TWO days. Yes, they will continue to stone the train...or maybe, must maybe, the many Arabs who use the train every day and are not stoning it, will get up and stop these men from attacking because when they don't show up for work, they won't be paid; when they miss an appointment, they'll have to wait for a new one. Only when they stop this from happening in their neighborhoods should the service resume.

This was the philosophy of Ze'ev Jabotinsky...and it worked. The concept was very simple. Put the people in the nearest village in charge of being responsible for the services or resources that are given to them or that run close to their village. If the services are abused and the people do nothing to protect them...the people of that village are responsible for the damage.

This was done...and amazingly enough, as expected, the area was protected once they realized the consequences of harboring criminals and terrorists in their midst.

If the people of Shuafat want the train to go through their neighborhood...and stop so that they can get on it, they are responsible for protecting it - the tracks, the station, and the trains that pass through.

If they won't take responsibility - either reroute the train away from their neighborhood...or remove the stop and let the train barrel through. Perhaps, netting or metal gratings can be placed on the outsides of the train to "bounce back" the rocks thrown at it.

And, in the meantime, we can continue to hope for more inept rock throwers like this runner up for a Darwin Award (which he might have won if he'd managed to fall off the roof).

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Stolen Tanks

I've heard of three stolen tanks in my life. One made me angry, one made me laugh, and the other made me wonder what the heck kind of person steals a tank.

The first one that made me angry was when a man who was, by all accounts, unbalanced...stole a tank and drove it down the street in Israel. It sideswiped some cars, thankfully didn't hurt anyone and to the utter humiliation of the guards, was finally reclaimed a short time and distance later. Apparently, they didn't notice the soldier until it was too late.

The second one that made me laugh was when I learned that Elie's division stole a tank from the paratroopers...or maybe another unit. I don't remember which. Apparently during Ehud Barak's mad, hasty and somewhat cowardly withdrawal from Lebanon, troops were ordered to withdraw NOW...and they did, leaving behind a tank. Elie's division jumped into the abandoned tank, drove it across the border...drove it to their base, repainted it and claimed it as their own for a number of years until apparently accounting somewhere noticed a tank was missing in one place and obviously reappeared in another.

And the "what the heck was he thinking" tank story was just publicized today. Apparently a German man stole...acquired...heck...STOLE the tank during World War II and kept it in his basement. A full, 45 TON tank. Apparently he also stole a missile and other weapons.

It's moments like this that we are reminded that it takes all kinds to make the world go around (apparently even if that means accidentally blowing up a neighborhood or two along the way). Or, as my family would say, "SHEESH!"

Full story here.

Times of Israel - and What is Truly Offensive, Improper, and Just WRONG

I've made a really big stink about the Times of Israel refusing to publish an article I wrote, calling it offensive.

I'll tell you a secret. I have been a journalist for over 30 years; I have been a blogger for more than eight. This blog has passed over 800,000 visitors. My writing is regularly featured on many sites and I get so many people telling me that I have found words to express their feelings, that I am helping them understand what is happening in Israel.

I've had people tell me that I helped them make the final decision to come to Israel; that I have offered them comfort. I laughed...really and truly...when the Times of Israel rejected my post.

Well, I'm not laughing now...

I've put in another post - you'll see it soon here...I give it a 60% chance of being rejected but in the meantime, low and behold what they did allow.

"The settlers are winning, the settlers are winning!" reminds me of the movie "The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming" - but of course, they weren't.

It was just misguided fear and when the people of the town finally got to know the settlers...I mean...the Russians, they realized that they were really just like them, decent people who just wanted to live, and maybe get home to their families. They loved and wanted to be loved. All normal.

But what amazes me, just days after the Times of Israel found my list of Arab terror attacks to be offensive (note: if that is not an accurate assumption, I can only offer the disclaimer that I have repeatedly asked and been ignored and so I am left to assume their motives in light of their failure to answer my questions)...but, what amazes me is that they consider what I wrote to be offensive, but not what this man wrote.
"The most enlightened of the settler leaders see a final solution where Palestinians, or Arabs as they are seen..."
You'd think that a man who says he is 77 years old would have more sensitivity to the memory of the Holocaust victims and survivors than to use the word "final solution" in this inaccurate and cavalier way. Short of sudden senility, I can't figure out what would possess a Jew, even one living in New York, to write these words in relation to the actions and thoughts of Jews.

Final solution, Mr. Rothberg? Really? Have you ever actually been to Israel? Have you ever been to a "settlement"? Are you aware that over 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis as part of Hitler's Final Solution and so, as Jews, there are certain words we hold sacred. We do not abuse the word, "Holocaust" and we sure as heck don't abuse the words, "final solution" either.

As for the Times of Israel, I am genuinely shocked and disgusted. YOU people should know better. How is it that you allow the left wing to offend the right so easily, but cringe if we dare to list Arab terror attacks and note, in the words of their own prayers, that they are doing this in the name of Allah.

How is it that the Times of Israel allows such disrespect to the Prime Minister of the State of Israel (Netan-Yahoo)? 

As a Jew, I am disgusted with the use of the term "final solution" and as a blogger, I am outraged at the ongoing treatment of bloggers who dare to present another point of view. I would ask David Horovitz and the editors of the Times of Israel to re-balancing the site before the Times of Israel loses all credibility.

At least, if you won't do that, have the decency to change its name. It is no longer the Times of Israel, but the Left of Israel.

Shame on you, Mr. Rothberg for insulting the memories of 6 million. Shame on you for offending the survivors...and shame on the Times of Israel for letting you!

Facts the UN Human Rights Commissions SHOULD Have Known

Following are facts that the idiots UN Human Rights Commission should have known BEFORE issuing their report. Where is the proof they didn't know it? Well, they released their report, didn't they?

I Didn't Make it to Synagogue

I love being in the synagogue and hearing the voices raised in song and prayer. I do. I've had some problems with the politics involved in some places and before we moved to Israel, we lived so far away that getting there with young children was an ordeal.

Since we moved to Maale Adumim, we've been blessed to have found a community, lost a community, and found a modified version of the first one again. When we first came, we lived about halfway between two services. We chose one and loved it.

It grew to capacity and still I loved it. Then it moved to bigger accommodations and the ugliness of politics raised its head. We left, hurt and disillusioned more by the actions of the community and the board than any specific thing that any individual did. In fact, though it was one particularly ugly incident that drove us away initially, it was ultimately the general ugliness of dealing with the emerging "powers" there that made us surrender and believe we had to find another place.

Months later, though we had attended other synagogues, we didn't really feel that we had recaptured what we had loved and lost. We drifted for a while, helped as much as possible by a few friends who reached out to us. And then, in a lesson I will carry all my life, the family initially responsible for our leaving reached out to us and mostly with their initiative, but with our help as well, we re-founded the initial synagogue in the same place it had been before we moved to the larger space. That other service continues, but is of no interest to me.

I have found song and prayer again, in a place where tshuva (repentance is the rough translation, but it is so much more) and acceptance abounds.

So Friday night, I went with my husband to the Friday night services. They are, perhaps, the single most beautiful prayers we have in Judaism, and they are often the realm of the young and the men. Women are exhausted from preparations in the home, have young children to deal with, guests that might be coming over and so, though I have always loved these prayers especially, I rarely get there.

Friday morning, I posted on Facebook a note, part joke, part serious. For the first time in perhaps 20+ years, we were home alone...just me and my husband and so with no guests coming over, no young children at home, and everything ready, we went together. It was everything I remembered; everything I loved.

We walked home slowly together, holding hands and talking. What I love about the Sabbath is the ability not to rush too much...and that's what we did - or didn't do. We didn't rush. We had a nice dinner together, talked...nice.

In the morning, we set out together to walk to the synagogue...and then it happened. We met the first of our neighbors, one that I had not seen in a while. She's had many changes in her life and as we spoke, Lazer realized it was getting late and excused himself to continue to the synagogue while I had a chance to visit a bit.

I hadn't seen her for any length of time and so I told her about my accident that happened just over a year ago. "Paula, you are so blessed."

Yes, I told her; that is what I felt when I got out of what was really a brand new car and saw that while it was totaled and would never drive again, I was fine.

A short time later, we bid each other Shabbat Shalom, and I continued on the way. Within minutes, I met another friend and her daughters. She is originally from Holland and we spoke of my recent visit, her family there. They don't understand, she said. Their children can't even go to university there because of the anti-Semitism and so are going to the States. Ridiculous, she said, when they could come to Israel and go to university for free!

A short time later, we bid each other Shabbat Shalom, and I continued on my way. I met another friend who was walking with her three-year-old. We are on a committee together and spoke of general issues related to the neighborhood and the group and soon, another friend walked past.

She was headed up hill and whenever I see her, I have such an urge to give her a hug. When her husband first met her, he called us up and asked if he could bring her for dinner. We were so honored and fell in love with her immediately. She's amazing...and so we bid my other friend and her three-year-old a Shabbat Shalom, and together, we walked up the hill together.

At the bottom of the steps to my re-established synagogue, we bid each other Shabbat Shalom...and I went inside, a bit embarrassed at how late I was but totally thrilled and at peace. This is what the Sabbath is about in Israel - sunshine, walking in our holy land, meeting friends, time with your husband. There are moments in life when you really think things can't get better.

Of course, there are always things that are wrong...some very wrong...some agonizingly wrong...but there are moments when you will be okay...

Shortly after I walked in...the Kohanim, members of the tribe of the Holy Priest dating back thousands of years, took their place in the front of the synagogue. Covered in their prayer shawls, they blessed our community.

May G‑d bless you and guard you.
May G‑d shine His countenance upon you and be gracious to you.
May G‑d turn His countenance toward you and grant you peace.

Technically, I didn't really make it to the synagogue for more than a few minutes but in many ways, just living here in Israel is like being in God's world, God's house, every minute.

I was blessed this Shabbat with time alone with my husband, with friends every short distance. I was blessed with light and sunshine.

Friday morning I got to hold my new grandson; Friday afternoon I got to speak to my granddaughter who is visiting her other grandparents. Friday night I got to sing in prayers that lifted to the heavens and then got to walk home, hand in hand, with the man I have loved for more than half my life. Saturday, Shabbat, I got to walk this land in light and sun, visit with friends...

Sometimes, your heart swells just knowing you are in the right place, the right time, with the right people. Blessed...I feel so blessed.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hero's Welcome...for a Hero

When a Jew nearly dies..he or she will often say a special prayer of thanks for the gift of life. A woman says it after she gives birth; you say it after a car accident...

Two weeks ago, a border guard was stabbed. He was lucky to survive and somehow managed to shoot his attacker before collapsing. Somehow, perhaps by sheer will, he fought his way back...and today, he and his family went to the Western Wall, the holiest place in the Jewish religion to which we have access to say this special prayer.

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, ruler of the Universe, who bestows kindness on those who are committed, and who has granted to me all kindness.

To which, those who hear this prayer, respond:

May the One who has granted you all kindness always grant kindness to you forever.

That was the plan, that he would arrive. And when he did, his friends and fellow border guards, had a special greeting for this and feel the love that is so much a part of our country.


We Stand...I Stand...with God

Thus sings the father of a young man who was murdered...
"Even in the most difficult moments when all is hidden, even when it is hidden, certainly​ even then, G-d blessed be He, is also found there. Even behind the most difficult things that happen to you, He stands, He stands - and we will stand, we will stand with G-d."
He then says there will be peace and asks his murdered son to come visit them from above. At no time did he scream out for revenge, for the deaths of those responsible. No shots were fired in the air during the funeral.

Tears of a nation, who has lost a precious son, an angel. The amazing thing here is that you actually don't have to understand the Hebrew to understand the agonizing grief of this family, of this father whose sons have lost their brother.

When You Choose to Laugh

I received this via Twitter (through a series of tweets) from a man in India, someone who cared enough to make sure I wasn't insulted when a fellow countryman suggested I take my son out of a school that had been attacked by the Arabs and put him some place safer.

Before I got a chance to explain why I wouldn't do this, this man from India jumped in:

"Bandhu, she is from Israel," he wrote to the other person, "no way you can blame them. There is a reason. Pls delete your tweet. Not in good taste to an Israeli Mom."

He also sent me this picture. The first person apologized and said he hoped that he did not offend me. I answered immediately that it was fine and agreed that India and Israel share a special bond.

And then the second man sent me this wonderful joke... 
Boarding planes in Israel!
The Israelis are developing an airport security device that eliminates the privacy concerns that come with full-body scanners. It's an armored booth you step into that will not X-ray, but detonate any explosive device you have on your person.

Israel sees this as a win-win situation for everyone, with none of this crap about racial profiling. It will eliminate the costs of long expensive trials. 

You're in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion.

Shortly thereafter, an announcement: 

"Attention to all standby passengers,
El Al is pleased to announce a seat available on flight 670 to London. Shalom"  

It took me a second to get it...and then I smiled. Get it? Did you smile? 

The Orphans That Aren't

Listen to the chilling words of one of the three who survived the attack that killed Malachi Rosenfeld (How can you murder an angel?).

He was blessed; he was lucky. And because the bullets didn't kill him, there are two children in Israel who are not orphans today.

When he started shooting, you cringe and try to somehow protect the head; I'll never forget that feeling, You feel helpless, someone is trying to take your life away because you are Jewish.

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